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AP Top News at 2:47 p.m. EDT

Pro-Russian rebels lower demands in peace talks
MOSCOW (AP) - Pro-Russian rebels softened their demand for full independence Monday, saying they would respect Ukraine's sovereignty in exchange for autonomy - a shift that reflects Moscow's desire to strike a deal at a new round of peace talks. The insurgents' platform, released at the start of Monday's negotiations in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, represented a significant change in their vision for the future of Ukraine's eastern, mainly Russian-speaking region.


UN backs inquiry of IS group's alleged crimes
GENEVA (AP) - The U.N.'s top human rights body on Monday overwhelmingly approved the Iraqi government's request for an investigation into alleged crimes against civilians committed by the Islamic State group in its rampage across northeastern Syria and parts of Iraq. Diplomats agreed by unanimous consent to approve a nearly $1.2 million U.N. fact-finding mission at a daylong special session of the 47-nation Human Rights Council about Iraq and the extremist group.


Iraqi prime minister pledges to root out militants
BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq's outgoing prime minster pledged Monday to turn his country into "a big grave" for Sunni militants from the Islamic State group and commended security forces who achieved a rare victory over insurgents by ending the siege of a Shiite town. Nouri al-Maliki made the comments during an unannounced visit to the northern community of Amirli, where he was greeted with hugs. A day earlier, Iraqi forces backed by Iran-allied Shiite militias and U.S. airstrikes broke a two-month siege of the town where some 15,000 Shiite Turkmens had been stranded.


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Surly 2014 electorate poised to 'keep the bums in'
WASHINGTON (AP) - A surly electorate that holds Congress in even lower regard than unpopular President Barack Obama is willing to "keep the bums in," with at least 365 incumbents in the 435-member House and 18 of 28 senators on a glide path to another term when ballots are counted Nov. 4. With less than 10 weeks to the elections, Republicans and Democrats who assess this fall's midterm contests say the power of incumbency - the decennial process of reconfiguring congressional maps and hefty fundraising - trumps the sour public mood and antipathy toward gridlocked Washington.


Americans detained in North Korea call for US help
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - North Korea gave foreign media access on Monday to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and - watched by officials as they spoke - called for Washington to send a high-ranking representative to negotiate for their freedom. Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month. But they said they do not know what punishment they could face or what the specific charges against them are. Kenneth Bae, who already is serving a 15-year term, said his health has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day.


Pakistan's premier challenged by raging protests
ISLAMABAD (AP) - Ahead of a joint session of parliament, Pakistan's prime minister and army chief held marathon meetings Monday over violent anti-government protests that could force the premier of this nuclear-armed country to resign. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif again vowed he would not step down under duress, even as protesters briefly took over the country's state-run television broadcaster and battled security forces in the streets. But the pressure from three days of violent protests on Sharif has intensified amid reports - later denied by the military - that the country's powerful army chief advised him to resign.


No gray area: Beliefs shape views of Brown killing
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Lamont Jones and Keith Stephens stood 60 feet from each other, separated by four lanes of pavement and a thousand miles of perception. Stephens was wearing a T-shirt printed with a police shield bearing the phrase "OFFICER DARREN WILSON I STAND BY YOU," as part of a rally supporting the white policeman who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed. Jones was across the street, holding up a sign that said, in blood-red letters: "Darren Wilson is a Murderer."


Parents of ill UK boy fight extradition from Spain
LONDON (AP) - The parents say they want to give their 5 year-old-boy with a brain tumor the best chance to live with a revolutionary new treatment they learned about on the Internet. Their British hospital says the boy has a 70 percent to 80 percent chance of survival with the treatment it offers, and it's the parents who are putting the child at risk. Britain has become riveted by the case of little Ashya King, whose parents plucked him from a hospital in southern England and fled to Spain amid a dispute over treatment - with British justice close on the family's heels.


Cuba cracks down on goods in travelers' luggage
HAVANA (AP) - Lugging duffel bags crammed with soap, socks, toys and other hard-to-obtain consumer goods, travelers arriving in Cuba on Monday complained that new government restrictions on their imports would leave their families wanting. Passengers on flights from Miami said they were bringing in far less than usual thanks to higher customs duties and stricter limits on the number of products allowed under rules that went into effect Monday.


Will traffic deaths rise as states legalize pot?
WASHINGTON (AP) - As states liberalize their marijuana laws, public officials and safety advocates worry that more drivers high on pot will lead to a big increase in traffic deaths. Researchers, though, are divided on the question. Studies of marijuana's effects show that the drug can slow decision-making, decrease peripheral vision and impede multitasking, all of which are critical driving skills. But unlike with alcohol, drivers high on pot tend to be aware that they are impaired and try to compensate by driving slowly, avoiding risky actions such as passing other cars, and allowing extra room between vehicles.