AP Top News at 4:18 p.m. EDT

Obama, allies vow firm response to Islamic State
WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States stood firm Wednesday in its fight against Islamic State militants who beheaded a U.S. journalist in Iraq, pledging to continue attacking the group despite its threats to kill another American hostage. President Barack Obama denounced the group as a "cancer" threatening the entire region as the administration weighed sending even more American troops to Iraq. "We will be vigilant and we will be relentless," Obama said as the U.S. military pressed ahead with more airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq.


US official: More airstrikes in Iraq
WASHINGTON (AP) - American fighter jets and drones continued to pound Islamic State militants in Iraq on Wednesday, and military planners weighed the possibility of sending a small number of additional U.S. troops to Baghdad, U.S. officials said, even as the insurgents threatened to kill a second American captive in retribution for any continued attacks. The airstrikes came in the hours after militants released a gruesome video Tuesday showing U.S. journalist James Foley being beheaded and underscored President Barack Obama's vow Wednesday afternoon to continue attacks against the group despite its threats.


Holder arrives in Ferguson after police shooting
CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has met briefly with the officer in charge of security in Ferguson since the shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer. Holder was visiting with diners Wednesday at a restaurant in the St. Louis suburb when Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson walked in to visit with him. Johnson has been overseeing the protests after several nights of unrest in the St. Louis stemming from the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown.


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Airstrike kills wife and child of Hamas figure
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas' shadowy military chief escaped an apparent Israeli assassination attempt that killed his wife and infant son, the militant group said Wednesday as Israel's prime minister warned that the bombardment of Gaza will continue until rocket fire out of the Palestinian territory stops. The airstrike on a home where Mohammed Deif's family members were staying - and the tough talk from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - came after the collapse of cease-fire talks in Cairo on Tuesday.


AP NewsBreak: Navy kicks out 34 for nuke cheating
WASHINGTON (AP) - At least 34 sailors are being kicked out of the Navy for their roles in a cheating ring that operated undetected for at least seven years at a nuclear power training site, and 10 others are under criminal investigation, the admiral in charge of the Navy's nuclear reactors program told The Associated Press. The number of accused and the duration of cheating are greater than was known when the Navy announced in February that it had discovered cheating on qualification exams by an estimated 20 to 30 sailors seeking to be certified as instructors at the nuclear training unit at Charleston, South Carolina. Students there are trained in nuclear reactor operations to prepare for service on any of the Navy's 83 nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.


APNewsBreak: BofA reaches $17B settlement with US
WASHINGTON (AP) - Bank of America has reached a record $17 billion settlement to resolve an investigation into its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis, officials directly familiar with the matter said Wednesday. One of the officials, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement isn't scheduled until Thursday at the earliest, said the bank will pay $10 billion in cash and provide consumer relief valued at $7 billion.


Ukrainian govt troops take over much of Luhansk
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - After days of street battles and weeks of shelling, Ukrainian troops made a significant push Wednesday into rebel-held territory, claiming control over a large part of the separatist stronghold of Luhansk and nearly encircling Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city. The advance of the Ukrainian army against pro-Russian separatists comes as the civilian death toll is mounting from sustained artillery strikes and rebel cities are slipping into a humanitarian disaster. At least 52 deaths were reported Wednesday, along with 64 wounded - and due to the dangers of the war zone in eastern Ukraine, no deaths were reported from Luhansk, meaning the actual toll could be even higher.


Liberian slums barricaded as Ebola sets new record
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) - Riot police and soldiers acting on their president's orders used scrap wood and barbed wire to seal off 50,000 people inside their Liberian slum Wednesday, trying to contain the Ebola outbreak that has killed 1,350 people and counting across West Africa. Hundreds of slum residents clashed with the gunmen, furious at being blamed and isolated by a government that has failed to quickly collect dead bodies from the streets. One 15-year-old boy was injured trying to cross the barbed wire as security forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd.


Neanderthals and humans had 'ample time' to mix
BERLIN (AP) - Humans and Neanderthals may have coexisted in Europe for more than 5,000 years, providing ample time for the two species to meet and mix, according to new research. Using new carbon dating techniques and mathematical models, researchers examined about 200 samples found at 40 sites from Spain to Russia, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. They concluded with a high probability that pockets of Neanderthal culture survived until between 41,030 and 39,260 years ago.


George W. Bush takes ice bucket challenge
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) - Former President George W. Bush took the ice bucket challenge then nominated former President Bill Clinton to do it next. The challenge has caught on with notable figures participating in the campaign to raise money for the fight against ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.