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AP Top News at 8:55 p.m. EDT

Kerry: US won't rule out talking with Iran about helping in Islamic State crisis
PARIS (AP) - As more than two dozen nations pledged Monday to help Iraq fight the Islamic State militants, the United States said it was open to talking to Iran about a role in resolving the crisis, despite Washington's earlier opposition to Tehran even attending the conference. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ruled out any military coordination with Iran, which in the end was not invited to Paris.


Qatar: A key host to US military forces while hedging bets on outcome of Mideast conflicts
WASHINGTON (AP) - Just miles from where former Guantanamo Bay terror suspects have resettled, American warplanes take off from Qatar's al-Udeid air base in the global war on extremism. The contrast in images illustrates why tiny but rich Qatar is an intriguing player in what President Barack Obama says will be a long battle to stop and eventually destroy the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.


Defiant residents in Iraqi city keep children out of school as militants issue new curriculum
BAGHDAD (AP) - The extremist-held Iraqi city of Mosul is set to usher in a new school year. But unlike years past, there will be no art or music. Classes about history, literature and Christianity have been "permanently annulled." The Islamic State group has declared patriotic songs blasphemous and ordered that certain pictures be torn out of textbooks.


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Gazans rush to enjoy life after devastating conflict, thinly masking widespread despair
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - After a ruinous war, Gaza is rushing back to a veneer of normalcy at astonishing speed. Street cafes and beaches are packed with people until late at night. Families crowd the few public parks. Wedding halls are booked solid. Gazans who endured 50 days of devastating Israeli bombardment are now eager to enjoy some life. Far from a celebration, however, Gazans themselves acknowledge the revelry is only to thinly mask trauma and widespread despair.


Hurricane Odile causes 'extensive' damage to homes, hotels, businesses in Baja California
CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) - Hurricane Odile blazed a trail of destruction through Mexico's Baja California Peninsula on Monday that leveled everything from ramshackle homes to luxury hotels and big box stores, leaving entire neighborhoods as disaster zones. About 30,000 tourists were being put up in temporary shelters in hotels and Los Cabos international airport remained closed. Emergency officials reported that 135 people were treated for minor injuries from flying glass or falling objects, but there were no serious injuries or deaths so far.


A half-century later, 2 Vietnam War soldiers receive Medal of Honor in White House ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) - Two Vietnam War soldiers - one still living, one killed in action - received the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony on Monday, nearly 50 years after they threw themselves into harm's way to protect their brothers in combat. President Barack Obama praised the soldiers as patriots whose sacrifices had never been fully realized by a nation divided over the legacy of the Vietnam War. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins survived his injuries. Army Spc. Donald P. Sloat did not. It took an act of Congress to allow each to receive the medal so many decades after the fact.


Generation gap: Young Scots tend to favor independence; older ones say keep things as they are
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) - Across Scotland, dinner table talk is getting heated as families argue over how to vote in Scotland's independence referendum. A generation gap has opened up, with younger voters more inclined to back independence and their elders tending to say they want to remain in the United Kingdom. Support for the status quo is strongest among the over-60s, who worry about the consequences that breaking free would have on pensions, health care and savings; the pro-independence movement is largely being driven by under-40s. Neck-and-neck in the polls, the rival campaigns have called on core supporters to make a last ditch attempt to swing the vote by making the debate a family affair.


Florida's 'Gray Belt' a glimpse at a future where senior services pre-empt schools and roads
INVERNESS, Fla. (AP) - A billboard at the county line advertises home health care services. Local churches try to create a feeling of belonging for elderly members who may be disconnected from family up north. Lawyers and accountants make house calls like doctors. Elderly residents get ferried to stores by a fleet of county minivans. Welcome to Citrus County, Florida, where more than a third of residents are senior citizens, one of the highest rates in the nation.


3 California wildfires force hundreds to flee their homes; nearly 100 structures burned
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A wildfire that broke out in far Northern California on Monday burned at least 75 structures, forced the evacuation of about 1,500 residents and caused the closure of a major interstate freeway. Winds gusting up to 40 mph spread the fire near the town of Weed, about 50 miles south of the California-Oregon border, to at least 200 acres, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.


Cat Stevens to tour in US for first time since late 1970s; will visit 6 North American cities
NEW YORK (AP) - New Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Cat Stevens is taking the "Peace Train" back on the road. He announced Monday that he will make a six-city concert tour in North America this December, his first series of shows in the U.S. since 1976. His conversion to Islam followed, putting his music career on hold for a quarter century.

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