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AP Top News at 12:52 a.m. EST

Obama shortens Manning's term, grants clemency to hundreds
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama granted clemency to Chelsea Manning on Tuesday, allowing the transgender Army intelligence officer convicted of leaking more than 700,000 U.S. documents to go free nearly three decades early. Embracing his clemency powers days before leaving office, Obama also pardoned 64 individuals including retired Gen. James Cartwright, charged with making false statements during another leak probe. Manning was one of 209 inmates with sentences commuted by Obama, who has now granted more commutations than any other president in history. Neil Eggleston, Obama's White House counsel, said the individuals would learn "that our nation is a forgiving nation, where hard work and a commitment to rehabilitation can lead to a second chance, and where wrongs from the past will not deprive an individual of the opportunity to move forward." Manning, Cartwright and Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera were the more prominent names on a list otherwise made up mostly of nonviolent drug offenders.


In Africa, Obama's presidency couldn't help but be personal
JOHANNESBURG (AP) - Africa was electrified by the rise of Barack Obama, the first U.S. president of African descent. It was in Africa that he signaled a historic opening toward Cuba, took aim at the twin scourges of corruption and dictatorship and sent thousands of troops to fight one of the most terrifying disease outbreaks in decades. Above all, Obama's ties to Africa were personal. On the first visit to his father's homeland, Kenya, since winning the White House, he assured the cheering crowds: "I'll be back." But many Africans with high hopes were left wishing for more. --- AT MANDELA'S MEMORIAL SERVICE, SHAKES RAUL CASTRO'S HAND Like Nelson Mandela, Obama became the first black president of his country.


Back-to-back shootings shake Mexico's tourism jewels
CANCUN, Mexico (AP) - Two consecutive days of shooting attacks that left a total of nine dead have put two of the jewels of Mexico's Caribbean coast on edge and spurred a warning to tourists by the U.S. government. As investigators worked Tuesday at the scene of a shooting the previous day that caused five deaths in the nearby beach town of Playa del Carmen, the region was stunned when gunmen assaulted the Quintana Roo state prosecutors' offices in Cancun, and four people were killed. Authorities attributed both incidents to organized crime, but made no comment on whether they might be linked.


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For driverless cars, a moral dilemma: Who lives or dies?
BOSTON (AP) - Imagine you're behind the wheel when your brakes fail. As you speed toward a crowded crosswalk, you're confronted with an impossible choice: veer right and mow down a large group of elderly people, or veer left into a woman pushing a stroller. Now imagine you're riding in the back of a self-driving car. How would it decide? Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are asking people worldwide how they think a robot car should handle such life-or-death decisions. Their goal is not just for better algorithms and ethical tenets to guide autonomous vehicles, but to understand what it will take for society to accept the vehicles and use them.


Australia defends end of MH370 hunt; investigation continues
SYDNEY (AP) - Australian officials defended their suspension of the fruitless deep-sea sonar search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, insisting on Wednesday that the enormous costs involved played no role in their decision to halt the nearly three-year hunt. Australia's Transport Minister Darren Chester also said that while the search had been called off on Tuesday, work behind the scenes would go on, with experts continuing to analyze data associated with the doomed aircraft's final hours and examining any future debris that washes ashore. But he declined to specify what kind of breakthrough would convince officials to resume the search for the Boeing 777's underwater wreckage.


18 million more uninsured if Obamacare killed, not replaced
WASHINGTON (AP) - Insurance premiums would soar for millions of Americans and 18 million more would be uninsured in just one year if Republicans scuttle much of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul without a replacement, Congress' budget analysts said Tuesday. Spotlighting potential perils for Republicans, the report immediately became a flashing hazard light for this year's effort by Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers to annul Obama's law and - in a more complicated challenge - institute their own alternative. It also swiftly became political fodder in what is expected to be one of this year's biggest battles in Congress. Republicans have produced several outlines for how they'd redraft Obama's 2010 statute, but they've failed to unite behind one plan.


Prosecutor: Orlando gunman's widow knew about the attack
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The widow of the Orlando nightclub gunman knew about the attack ahead of time and then hindered the criminal investigation when she lied to FBI agents after the shooting, prosecutors said Tuesday during a brief court appearance a day after her arrest in California. Visibly nervous and bewildered, Noor Salman quietly acknowledged she understood the two felony charges alleging she assisted her husband and obstructed justice. She could face life in prison if convicted of both counts. She didn't enter a plea and was ordered back to court Wednesday for the formal appointment of a lawyer and discussions on how to transfer her and the case to federal court in Orlando, where a grand jury indicted her.


Global warming could steal postcard-perfect weather days
WASHINGTON (AP) - Global warming is going to steal away some of those postcard-perfect weather days in the future, according to a first-of-its-kind projection of nice weather. On average, Earth will have 10 fewer days of mild and mostly dry weather by the end of the century, the researchers estimate. Some places will get more days perfect for picnics or outdoor weddings, while other places will lose a lot. Rio de Janeiro, Miami and much of Africa are big losers, while Europe and Seattle will gain nicer weather. "It's the type of weather where you can go outside and do something fun," said study lead author Karin van der Wiel, a meteorology researcher at Princeton University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration .


AP PHOTOS: Chilean dreams of rescuing box camera photography
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - Luis Maldonado is the last remaining photographer in the main square of the Chilean capital still using a wooden box camera. Clients are scarce, with days, even weeks, passing before someone asks him to create a portrait with the old-fashioned contraption. But coming from a family of box camera photographers that includes his grandfather, father and an uncle, Maldonado is unwilling to give up his beloved wooden box. To make ends meet, Maldonado has taken on gardening and janitorial jobs. He's worked as a security guard and as a photographer shooting digital Christmas photos of kids sitting on Santa's lap.


Cloud of steroids hovers above Hall of Fame voting
NEW YORK (AP) - The cloud of steroids hovers above Hall of Fame voting, much as it shrouded baseball in the 1990s and early 2000s. Tim Raines, in his 10th and final year of eligibility, appears likely to gain election along with Jeff Bagwell when the Baseball Writers' Association of America voting is announced Wednesday night. Ivan Rodriguez, eligible for the first time, and Trevor Hoffman also could make it. But along with focusing on the electees, many will study the vote totals of tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and 44.3 percent last year.