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AP Top News at 3:54 a.m. EDT

Once dismissed as fringe candidate, Trump is all but certain to be Republican presidential nominee
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Once dismissed as a fringe contender, businessman Donald Trump now is all but certain to lead the Republican Party into the fall presidential campaign against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton - a stunning political triumph for a first-time candidate whose appeal to frustrated voters was widely underestimated. Trump's victory in Indiana Tuesday and Ted Cruz's abrupt decision to drop out resolved the Republican nominee for 2016, but it still left the party in a deep state of uncertainty. Some Republican leaders remain acutely wary of the bombastic billionaire and have insisted they could never support him, even in a faceoff against Clinton.


President Barack Obama is set to meet with worried residents of Flint, Michigan, to hear how they're managing after lead from old pipes tainted their drinking water
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is set to meet with residents of Flint, Michigan, to hear how they're managing after lead from old pipes tainted their drinking water. And he is bringing a message to Flint on Wednesday: a promise for change. Obama declared a state of emergency in mid-January and ordered federal aid to supplement the state and local response. At that point, however, the crisis was in full bloom. It actually took several months for the nation to focus its attention on the beaten-down city's plight, raising questions about how race and poverty influenced decisions that led to the tainted water supply and the beleaguered response once problems surfaced.


The entire population of the Canadian oil sands city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, has been ordered to evacuate from a wildfire that officials say destroyed whole neighborhoods
FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta (AP) - The entire population of the Canadian oil sands city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, has been ordered to evacuate from a wildfire that officials said destroyed whole neighborhoods. More than 80,000 residents have been ordered to flee as flames continued to make their way into the city Tuesday. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley called it the biggest evacuation in the history of the province. Residents were panicked. Highway 63 is the only road out of the city and flames jumped the road. Fire chief Darby Allen said they did not have an estimate of the number of homes destroyed, but said the fire is burning in several areas in the city's south end and had destroyed a mobile home park.


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Abduction, murder of 11-year-old girl leaves Navajo community heartbroken
SHIPROCK, N.M. (AP) - The stranger walked with 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike into the hills of a remote area of the Navajo Nation known for its breathtaking views and the monolithic rock outcropping that stands as a beacon for miles. But as the sun faded, the stranger returned alone, only a crowbar tucked in his jacket. The girl was nowhere to be seen; her body was found several hours later. Meanwhile, distraught and scared, her 9-year-old brother started to run and kept running for more than two miles toward the lights he could see on the highway in the distance until a passer-by scooped him up and took him to police.


Syria's volunteer mine-clearance teams are improvising their approach to one of the world's most dangerous tasks with minimal training and no specialized equipment
BEIRUT (AP) - Volunteers in opposition-held areas of Syria are forced to improvise as they carry out one of the world's most dangerous tasks: dismantling cluster munitions, land mines and explosive booby-traps as they work to make battle-torn areas safe for civilians to return. The result has been tragic. Booby-traps laid by the Islamic State group in the Kurdish-held town of Kobani, in northern Syria, have killed more than 20 volunteer sappers in 15 months, according to a senior regional official. "They knew they were going to be martyred when they joined," said Ojalan Hisso, the deputy head of the Defense Administration for the Kobani Canton.


U.S. Defense Secretary Carter says latest US death shows campaign against IS 'far from over'
STUTTGART, Germany (AP) - U.S. defense Secretary Ash Carter says the latest American combat death in Iraq shows the military campaign against the Islamic State is "far from over." Carter made the remark Wednesday as he convened a meeting in Germany of his counterparts from 11 countries contributing to the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The session is the latest in a series with partners on strategies for increasing assistance to the Iraqis as seek to recapture the northern IS stronghold of Mosul. This comes as a political crisis in Baghdad clouds the outlook for further military advances against the militants.


Mineral exploration upstream of the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Reserve is raising concerns among wildlife advocates
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - In early winter, after most tourists have fled Alaska, another kind of visitor flies in: bald eagles, up to 4,000 of them. In the world's largest congregation of bald eagles, they gather along the Chilkat River in southeast Alaska to feast on salmon carcasses washed downstream after spawning. Well after other rivers have frozen, the river remains open. Wildlife advocates are concerned that a possible mining project near a major tributary of the river could threaten the eagles. A Canadian company, backed by a Japanese metals firm, is spending millions to explore a copper and zinc deposit that might someday turn into a hard rock mine about 10 miles upriver of the preserve.


Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial kicked off its annual remembrance ceremonies with a special screening of the Oscar-winning film "Son of Saul," acknowledging the unique role movies play in maintaining the memory of the Holocaust
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum has kicked off its annual remembrance ceremonies with a special screening of the Oscar-winning film "Son of Saul," acknowledging the unique role movies play in maintaining the memory of the Holocaust. The Hungarian film, which tells the story of a Jewish Nazi death camp inmate who obsessively seeks a proper burial for a boy he believes to be his son, also mirrors Yad Vashem's central theme this year - the struggle to maintain the human spirit amid inhumanity. Israel will come to a standstill on Thursday as sirens wail for two minutes. In the annual ritual, pedestrians typically stop in their tracks, while cars and busses pull over and people step out to stand and bow their heads.


Navy SEAL killed in Iraq went to school in Arizona and was to close disgraced grandfather Charles H. Keating Jr., a financier who served prison time for his role in savings and loan failure of the 1980s.
PHOENIX (AP) - He was a former Phoenix high school star distance runner who was the grandson of an Arizona financier involved in the 1980s savings and loan scandal. Charlie Keating IV went on to run track at Indiana University, attend the Naval Academy and become a Navy SEAL based out of San Diego, California. Keating, 31, died Tuesday in Iraq in an Islamic State group attack near the city of Irbil. He's the third American serviceman to die in combat in Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition launched its campaign against the Islamic State in the summer of 2014, according to military officials.


Some of the best-known farms in Kentucky's scenic horse country are borrowing from another of the state's contributions to the good life _ Kentucky's bourbon whiskey distilleries _ in an effort to win new recruits to an aging and shrinking fan base
MIDWAY, Ky. (AP) - Camera-toting visitors to the grounds at Three Chimneys Farm can get a glimpse of the pampered lives of thoroughbred stallions - the star attractions that frolic in lush paddocks or relax in stately stalls when they aren't in the breeding shed. Some of the best-known farms in Kentucky's horse country are borrowing from another of the state's contributions to the good life - bourbon whiskey distilleries - in an effort to win new recruits to horse racing's aging and shrinking fan base. "I'd say they're living the good life," said farm worker Anna Hair, who recently led 15 tourists on a springtime tour of stone buildings and manicured lawns amid sprawling pastures.

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