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AP Top News at 12:01 p.m. EST

Former GOP nominee Romney will not run for president in '16
WASHINGTON (AP) - After a three-week flirtation with a new campaign for the White House, Mitt Romney announced Friday that he will not seek the presidency in 2016. "After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I've decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee," Romney told supporters on a conference call.


Battle with IS kills senior Kurdish general, 8 of his troops
KIRKUK, Iraq (AP) - Clashes with Islamic State militants killed a senior Kurdish military commander and eight of his fighters just outside the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Friday, officials said. Attacks elsewhere killed 27 people, with twin bombs hitting a crowded market in Baghdad and a suicide bomber targeting pro-government Shiite militiamen who were manning a checkpoint outside a city north of the Iraqi capital.


5 things to know before Obama rolls out his budget Monday
WASHINGTON (AP) - A quick quiz: Monday is -


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Jordan awaits proof hostage is alive after swap deadline
TOKYO (AP) - The fates of a Japanese journalist and Jordanian military pilot were unknown Friday, a day after the latest purported deadline for a possible prisoner swap passed with no further word from the Islamic State group holding them captive. "Government institutions are working around the clock on the case of pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh," Jordanian military spokesman Mamdouh al-Ameri said in a statement. "We will inform you of any developments in due time."


US-backed Mexico dam project triggered protest, rare defeat
SANTA URSULA, Mexico (AP) - People in the hamlet of Santa Ursula began to worry when the logging started. In a few short weeks, more than a mile of densely forested riverbank was stripped from the Arroyo Sal to make way for heavy dredging equipment. Work was just beginning in late 2010 on an ambitious, three-year, $30 million project to build a 15-megawatt hydroelectric plant directly adjacent to the Cerro de Oro dam, with support from a U.S. government agency in Washington.


Ex-rap mogul 'Suge' Knight arrested in deadly hit-and-run
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) - Marion "Suge" Knight, the former music mogul who created one of hip-hop's leading labels and became the impresario of gangster rap, was arrested early Friday on suspicion of hitting and killing a man with his truck and then fleeing the crash near Los Angeles. Knight's attorney said the founder of Death Row Records accidentally ran over and killed a friend and injured another man as he tried to escape attackers Thursday. Witnesses and authorities say an argument between the men escalated into Knight ramming the pair. Authorities said he could face a murder charge.


US economy slowed last quarter, but signs are pointing up
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. economy slowed in the final three months of 2014, but a burst in consumer spending and the prospect of continued low energy prices are bolstering confidence that growth will strengthen this year. The economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate in the October-December period, the government said Friday. That was down from a sizzling 5 percent gain in the previous quarter.


Germany rejects notion of Greek debt write-off
ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Germany bluntly rejected on Friday suggestions that Greece should be forgiven repayment of its rescue loans, while a top eurozone official said there was no decision yet on what to do after the country's bailout program runs out at the end of February. The comments came as Greece's new radical left government, voted in last Sunday, sought to make good on its pre-election promises of seeking to write off half of Greece's debt and reverse the austerity measures that are a condition of its international bailout.


AP EXPLAINS: The case of Etan Patz, who disappeared in 1979
NEW YORK (AP) - The 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz helped catalyze a national missing-children's movement. Six-year-old Etan was one of the first vanished children whose case was publicized in what became a high-profile way: on milk cartons. His disappearance also helped usher in an age of parental anxiety. On Friday, opening statements are set to be heard in the murder and kidnapping trial of Pedro Hernandez, who confessed in 2012. Here's a brief explanation of Etan's disappearance and the ensuing murder case: ---


After 150 years, Confederate submarine's hull again revealed
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A century and a half after it sank and a decade and a half after it was raised, scientists are finally getting a look at the hull of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship. What they find may finally solve the mystery of why the hand-cranked submarine sank during the Civil War.