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AP Top Political News At 4:51 p.m. EDT

Obama offering Japan security, economic assurances
TOKYO (AP) -- Facing fresh questions about his commitment to Asia, President Barack Obama will seek to convince Japan's leaders Thursday that he can deliver on his security and economic pledges, even as the crisis in Ukraine demands U.S. attention and resources elsewhere....

US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is encouraging many nonviolent federal prisoners to apply for early release - and expecting thousands to take up the offer. It's an effort to deal with high costs and overcrowding in prisons, and also a matter of fairness, the government says....

Spy plane outlasts Cold War, but not defense cuts
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U-2 spy plane outlasted the Cold War, outlived its successor and proved crucial a half-century ago when two superpowers were on the brink of nuclear war....

High court tosses $3.4M award to child porn victim
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea to make it easier for victims of child pornography to collect money from people who view their images online, throwing out a nearly $3.4 million judgment in favor of a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet. Two dissenting justices said Congress should change the law to benefit victims....

Rail safety effort marred by squabbling
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Spurred by a series of fiery train crashes, a push by government and industry to make safer tank cars used for shipping crude oil and ethanol has bogged down in squabbling and finger-pointing over whether they're needed and if so, who should pay....

Report on CIA interrogations shadows Gitmo trials
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The planned release of portions of the Senate report on the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques could add to the legal complications facing the long-delayed U.S. military tribunals of terrorist suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp....

Boogeymen and shady deals define spin for Senate
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The fight for the Senate majority boils down to boogeyman billionaires against the shifty septuagenarian - if party operatives' spin is to be believed....

Union protests postal counters in Staples stores
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Postal workers plan protests in 27 states Thursday against the opening of postal counters in Staples stores that are staffed with Staples employees....

Study: Gene therapy may boost cochlear implants
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Australian researchers are trying a novel way to boost the power of cochlear implants: They used the technology to beam gene therapy into the ears of deaf animals and found the combination improved hearing....

Judge dismisses case against Blackwater defendant
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed criminal charges against a former Blackwater security guard whose actions allegedly triggered the shootings of dozens of Iraqi citizens at a traffic circle in Baghdad nearly seven years ago....

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Rail safety effort marred by squabbling

US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

Judge dismisses case against Blackwater defendant

Batteries in baby video monitors recalled

Spy plane outlasts Cold War, but not defense cuts

New Jersey panel orders testimony on traffic jams

Probe could complicate Rick Perry's prospects

DNC raises $10.3M in March, has $14M in debt