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AP Top News at 12:40 p.m. EST

Pilots in helium-filled balloon land safely in Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Two pilots in a helium-filled balloon landed safely off the coast of Mexico early Saturday after an audacious, nearly 7,000-mile-long trip across the Pacific Ocean that shattered two long-standing records for ballooning. The pilots landed 4 miles offshore in Baja California about 300 miles north of the popular beach destination of Cabo San Lucas. The pilots came in low and dropped thick trailing ropes into the ocean to help slow the balloon before setting down in a controlled water landing.


Iraqi libraries ransacked by Islamic State group in Mosul
BAGHDAD (AP) - When Islamic State group militants invaded the Central Library of Mosul earlier this month, they were on a mission to destroy a familiar enemy: other people's ideas. Residents say the extremists smashed the locks that had protected the biggest repository of learning in the northern Iraq town, and loaded around 2,000 books - including children's stories, poetry, philosophy and tomes on sports, health, culture and science - into six pickup trucks. They left only Islamic texts.


Romney's exit unleashes race for donors among 2016 hopefuls
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Mitt Romney's exit from the presidential campaign has unleashed a frenzy of fresh fundraising and set off a new race for the backing of donors who had remained loyal to the 2012 Republican nominee. Big dollars were said to flow immediately on Friday to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who already had won over several of Romney's past donors. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie claimed the support of others who were waiting on Romney to make a decision about whether to seek the White House a third time.


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More than 2M vehicles a 2nd time for faulty air bags
NEW YORK (AP) - More than 2 million Toyota, Chrysler and Honda vehicles are being recalled for a second fix for faulty air bags that may inadvertently inflate while the car is running. The recall includes some Acura MDX, Dodge Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Odyssey, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Avalon models made from 2002 to 2004. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says all of the vehicles covered in Saturday's announcement had already been under a recall for the faulty air bags, but the carmakers' original attempts to fix the defects only worked about 85 percent of the time.


Japan self-censors images, words linked to hostage crisis
TOKYO (AP) - Images or mentions of knives, ransom or blood - or anything else that can be seen alluding to the hostage crisis involving two Japanese in Syria - have been omitted. Some anime and other entertainment programs are altering, canceling or postponing episodes violating those sensitivities - typical of the kind of self-restraint shown here to avoid controversy. The fates of a Japanese journalist and Jordanian military pilot were still unknown Saturday after the latest purported deadline for a possible prisoner swap lapsed with no further messages from the Islamic State group holding them captive. Another Japanese hostage has purportedly been killed.


AP Interview: NYC mayor says he has moved past police crisis
NEW YORK (AP) - Weeks removed from an open revolt from his own police force that had officers turning their backs on him, Mayor Bill de Blasio now declares he has moved past the rift, striking a tenuous truce with a strategy to stay above the fray and public opinion that eventually soured on the cops' behavior. While he acknowledged much work remains to repair the hard feelings over the chokehold death of Eric Garner, de Blasio told The Associated Press he has regained the footing to move on to other matters, including an agenda he plans to outline in next week's State of the City address.


Hatfields, McCoys make moonshine legally in southern W.Va.
GILBERT, W.Va. (AP) - After generations of bootlegging, direct descendants of the Hatfields have teamed up with the McCoy name to produce legal moonshine in southern West Virginia with the state's blessing - the start of a new legacy for the families made famous for their 19th-century feud. Production of "Drink of the Devil" has been in full swing at a distillery on original Hatfield land, bringing batches to the nation's store shelves using the original recipe of family patriarch William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield.


Chicago mayor wages lively campaign with no big challengers
CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel doesn't face any big-name challengers in his push for a second term, but the former White House chief of staff isn't taking any chances. He's pulled in more than nine times more money than any of his challengers through fundraising and a PAC. He's dominated the airwaves with commercials, including a radio spot this week featuring an endorsement from his old boss, President Barack Obama. And he's agreed to attend no less than six forums and debates - far more than the single debate he did during his 2011 bid to lead the nation's third-largest city.


NASA launches Earth-observing satellite
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) - A NASA satellite lifted off early Saturday on a three-year mission to track the amount of water locked in soil, which may help residents in low-lying regions brace for floods or farmers prepare for drought conditions. A Delta 2 rocket carrying the Soil Moisture Active Passive - or SMAP - satellite launched shortly before sunrise from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast.


Pats backup QB Garoppolo helps defense prepare for Wilson
PHOENIX (AP) - A rookie who probably won't play in the Super Bowl could help the New England Patriots win it. By the time the game starts Sunday night, Jimmy Garoppolo will have done his primary job of preparing the team's defense by imitating speedy Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in practice.