AP Top News at 5:03 a.m. EDT

Russia's gains cloud Obama's assurances to Baltics
WASHINGTON (AP) - For the second time this year, President Barack Obama will travel to Russia's backyard to assure nervous nations of his ironclad commitment to their security. But his objectives will be clouded by the West's inability to halt the Russian aggression in Ukraine that has stoked fears in other former Soviet republics. Fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia rebels continued in eastern Ukraine as Obama prepared to fly to Estonia for meetings with Baltic leaders and to Wales for a NATO summit. The Ukrainian government, NATO and Western nations say Russia has already sent troops, artillery and tanks across Ukraine's southeast border to reinforce the separatists, a claim Russia has denied.


US military attacks al-Shabab in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) - U.S. military forces attacked the extremist al-Shabab network in Somalia Monday, the Pentagon said, and a witness described ground-shaking explosions in a strike that reportedly targeted the group's leader. Al-Shabab had attacked the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 67 people a year ago this month and the U.S. had targeted planners of the bloody assault. There was no immediate comment from al-Shabab and U.S. commanders were waiting to determine the attack's outcome.


Group accuses extremists of war crimes in Iraq
BAGHDAD (AP) - An international rights group accused the extremist Islamic State group on Tuesday of carrying out a systematic campaign of "ethnic cleansing" in northern Iraq that includes mass killings, abductions and other war crimes. In a new report, Amnesty International said militants have abducted "hundreds, if not thousands" of women and children who belong to the ancient Yazidi faith. The extremists also have rounded up Yazidi men and boys before killing them, the London-based group said.


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Syrian rebels issue demands for captive UN troops
BEIRUT (AP) - Al-Qaida-linked Syrian rebels holding 45 Fijian peacekeepers hostage have issued a set of demands for their release, including the extremist group's removal from a U.N. terrorist list and compensation for the killing of three of its fighters in a shootout with international troops, an official said Tuesday. The Nusra Front seized the Fijians on Thursday in the Golan Heights, where a 1,200-strong U.N. force monitors the buffer zone between Syria and Israel. The rebels also surrounded two Filipino units, but those U.N. troops escaped over the weekend.


Detroit's historic bankruptcy trial to begin
DETROIT (AP) - Lawyers for Detroit will attempt to convince a federal judge at the city's bankruptcy trial that its plans to wipe out billions of dollars in debt should be approved. After some delays, the start of the trial Tuesday in U.S. District Court comes just over 13 months after Detroit became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy.


Putin's aide confirms '2 weeks to Kiev' remark
MOSCOW, Russia (AP) - A Russian official is complaining that EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso breached confidentiality when he quoted President Vladimir Putin as saying Moscow could take over Kiev in two weeks if it wished. Yuri Ushakov, a presidential aide, told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday that Putin's statement was "quoted out of context and carried a completely different meaning." Ushakov says it was unworthy of Barroso to speak publicly about a private conversation.


Surrogate offers clues into man with 16 babies
BANGKOK (AP) - When the young Thai woman saw an online ad seeking surrogate mothers, it seemed like a life-altering deal: $10,000 to help a foreign couple that wanted a child but couldn't conceive. Wassana, a lifetime resident of the slums, viewed it as a nine-month solution to her family's debt. She didn't ask many questions.


Blackwater legacy: a faint memory of Nisoor Square
WASHINGTON (AP) - The summer-long trial of four Blackwater security guards in the shootings of more than 30 Iraqis has been a grim retelling of lives snuffed out and the daily life-and-death decisions amid the chaos of war. Wrapping up almost 6,200 miles from Baghdad, the trial is the best hope the survivors and the families of the victims have for accountability for the violence at Nisoor Square on Sept. 16, 2007. After 10 weeks of arguments and testimony, the case goes to the jury Tuesday.


Marijuana's hazy contribution to highway deaths
WASHINGTON (AP) - New York teenager Joseph Beer smoked marijuana, climbed into a Subaru Impreza with four friends and drove more than 100 mph before losing control. The car crashed into trees with such force that the vehicle split in half, killing his friends. Beer, who was 17 in October 2012 when the crash occurred, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and was sentenced last week to 5 years to 15 years in prison.


Take my sweat, please: Tennis' gross ritual
NEW YORK (AP) - In a sport known for its genteel traditions, tennis has one increasingly common ritual that stands apart for its ickiness - the passing of the sweat-soaked towel.  It happens dozens of times in a long match and is in full glory on the courts at Flushing Meadows: Players call for a towel to be brought to them in the middle of a game, and they quickly wipe the sweat from their faces, sometimes even their necks, arms and legs.