Around the world, Christians are coming together in observance of Good Friday, which they believe was the day Jesus was crucified.
In the Philippines, Asia's largest Roman Catholic nation commemorated the occasion by re-enacting the crucifixion. Devotees have themselves nailed to wooden crosses, rituals that church leaders do not condone but that draw huge crowds. Undeterred, some penitents participate in the practice year after year.
Devotees undergo the re-enactment in the belief that extreme pain is a way to atone for their sins, attain miracle cures for illnesses or give thanks to God.
In the Holy Land, Christians marked the day with prayers and processions, with thousands of pilgrims crowding along the Via Dolorosa, or "Way of Suffering," carrying wooden crosses.
They end at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Tradition says the church was built on the site where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
Here are some photos from Good Friday commemorations around the world:
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA's robotic moon explorer, LADEE, is no more.
Flight controllers confirmed Friday that the orbiting spacecraft crashed into the back side of the moon as planned, just three days after surviving a full lunar eclipse, something it was never designed to do.
Researchers believe LADEE likely vaporized when it hit because of its extreme orbiting speed of 3,600 mph, possibly smacking into a mountain or side of a crater. No debris would have been left behind.
"It's bound to make a dent," project scientist Rick Elphic predicted Thursday.
By Thursday evening, the spacecraft had been skimming the lunar surface at an incredibly low altitude of 300 feet. Its orbit had been lowered on purpose last week to ensure a crash by Monday following an extraordinarily successful science mission.
LADEE — short for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer — was launched in September from Virginia. From the outset, NASA planned to crash the spacecraft into the back side of the moon, far from the Apollo artifacts left behind during the moonwalking days of 1969 to 1972.
It completed its primary 100-day science mission last month and was on overtime. The extension had LADEE flying during Tuesday morning's lunar eclipse; its instruments were not designed to endure such prolonged darkness and cold.
But the small spacecraft survived — it's about the size of a vending machine — with just a couple pressure sensors acting up.
The mood in the control center at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., was upbeat late Thursday afternoon, according to project manager Butler Hine.
"Having flown through the eclipse and survived, the team is actually feeling very good," Hine told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
But the uncertainty of the timing of LADEE's demise had the flight controllers "on edge," he said.
As it turns out, LADEE succumbed within several hours of Hine's comments. NASA announced its end early Friday morning.
It will be at least a day or two before NASA knows precisely where the spacecraft ended up; the data cutoff indicates it smashed into the far side of the moon, although just barely.
LADEE did not have enough fuel to remain in lunar orbit much beyond the end of its mission. It joined dozens if not scores of science satellites and Apollo program spacecraft parts that have slammed into the moon's surface, on purpose, over the decades, officials said. Until LADEE, the most recent man-made impacts were the LCROSS crater-observing satellite that went down in 2009 and the twin Grail spacecraft in 2012.
During its $280 million mission, LADEE identified various components of the thin lunar atmosphere — neon, magnesium and titanium, among others — and studied the dusty veil surrounding the moon, created by all the surface particles kicked up by impacting micrometeorites.
"LADEE's science cup really overfloweth," Elphic said earlier this month. "LADEE, by going to the moon, has actually allowed us to visit other worlds with similar tenuous atmospheres and dusty environments."
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Like many other youngsters, Sean Collier wanted to be a police officer. Unlike most, he brought that dream to life — and then died doing it, becoming a central character in the gripping hunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.
The three people killed by the twin explosions, along with the many others who lost limbs, have gotten the lion's share of the attention in the year since the bombings. The loved ones of Collier, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who investigators say was shot by the bombing suspects, are this week remembering a brother and doting uncle who seemed destined to enter law enforcement.
"I can remember he was 2 or 3 years old running around the house making a siren sound yelling, 'You're breaking the law' and trying to arrest us for not doing what we were supposed to do," said Nicole Lynch, his sister. "His role in the family was to not only protect all of us, but to make sure we were doing the right things."
This year, Team Collier Strong, a group of 25 friends and family members, will run the marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund named for him. And the college held a remembrance ceremony Friday, exactly a year after his death, and unveiled plans for a permanent memorial.
Collier was called in to help with dispatch when news of the bombings broke in Boston, across the Charles River from the MIT campus in Cambridge.
"Sean knew that we were all worriers in the family, so he texted us all and said: 'I'm fine, but I'm very busy. I'm at work,'" Lynch said.
Days later, he was shot and killed in his cruiser hours after the FBI released photos and video of brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as the bombing suspects. Investigators say they shot him while attempting to take his gun. He was 26.
Collier was the fifth of six children. He studied criminal justice at Salem State University, working for a time as a civilian at the Somerville Police Department.
"He was a young guy with an old soul, mature beyond his years," Bob Trane, a former Somerville alderman whose ward includes the home where Collier lived, said the day after the shooting. "He was old school — respectful, courteous, dedicated."
He adored the Boston Celtics, taught young people to box and helped out at a homeless shelter. When the MIT Outing Club headed to Newfoundland for a weekend of hiking, Collier joined them.
Lynch recalled feeling relieved when her brother landed what she thought would be a quiet gig at MIT.
"Then he called me after his first week and said, 'I made my first traffic stop and they pulled a knife on me,'" she said. "I remember thinking, 'Oh my goodness, maybe this is not as safe as I thought.'"
The family was so distraught after the shooting that they paid little attention to the details of what happened. Even now, Lynch said, she knows little more about the circumstances of his death than what she has read in the news.
"I still don't know if I know everything that kind of happened that night," she said. "I can't even tell you the kid's name. I'd recognize it, but if you asked me what it was, I couldn't tell you."
Team Collier Strong is raising money for the MIT Sean Collier Scholarship Fund, which will help put one person a year through a criminal justice program.
But Lynch has found other ways of remembering her brother. Shortly after his death, the family adopted a pitbull mix puppy, naming him Jameson after Collier's favorite drink.
The family has gotten condolence letters from around the world, Lynch said.
"He may have lived a very short 26 years of his life, but in that 26 years he lived it with absolutely no regrets," she said. "I think if he could tell us now he would say, 'I lived a very good life and I'm happy with the life that I led.'"
Asked about the possibility of a death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who alone is heading for trial in the bombings since his brother died during the getaway, Lynch said she's putting her faith in the justice system.
The state has the right to hit Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with charges in Collier's killing once the federal bombing case is resolved.
"If I had a chance to talk to him, I don't know that I would even take that opportunity," she said. "It's just such a very small, insignificant part of the larger picture."
ATLANTA -- The contract for state employees and teachers has dominated the discussion of Georgia health benefits this year, because of widespread complaints that erupted over choice of plans and out-of-pocket costs.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Election-year memo to Democratic candidates: Don't talk about the economic recovery. It's a political loser.
So say Democratic strategists in a blunt declaration that such talk skips over "how much trouble people are in, and doesn't convince them that policymakers really understand or are even focusing on the problems they continue to face."
In addition, Stan Greenberg, James Carville and others wrote that in head-to-head polling tests the mere mention of the word "recovery" is trumped by a Republican assertion that the Obama administration has had six years to get the economy moving and its policies haven't worked.
Coincidentally or not, Democrats have largely shelved the "R'' word.
President Barack Obama's only utterance of it in recent weeks was on April 8, and it was in the context of accusing Republicans of blocking progress on issues that "would help with the economic recovery and help us grow faster."
Additionally, at a news conference on March 26 where they announced a campaign-season agenda, neither Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., nor most of the other five lawmakers present uttered the word "recovery."
The strategic advice comes at a time Democrats are working to maximize turnout, particularly among women, for the fall elections, when they face a determined challenge from Republicans vying to add control of the Senate to their seemingly secure House majority.
Simultaneously, Democrats are struggling to respond effectively to persistent Republican attacks on the nation's health care law.
Turnout in midterm elections is customarily lower than in a presidential campaign. This year numerous polls indicate that Democrats, particularly women, are less motivated to go to the polls than Republicans who are eager to demonstrate opposition to "Obamacare," or the Affordable Care Act.
In their memo for Democracy Corps and the Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund, the authors propose that to boost turnout among their target groups Democrats should back an economic agenda that "puts working women first," and says that incomes are soaring only for CEOs and the top 1 percent of the country.
"As a start, Democrats should bury any mention of the recovery. That message was tested ... and it lost to the Republican message championed by Karl Rove," they wrote.
By traditional measurements, an economic recovery has been underway since partway through Obama's first year in office.
The economy was shrinking when he was sworn in but turned positive in the third quarter of 2009. It has been growing since, although barely so at times. Unemployment, measured at 7.8 percent when Obama took office in January 2009, rose to 10 percent in October of that year until it began declining. It now stands at 6.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
At the same time, though, many of the jobs that have been created are lower-paying than the ones that preceded them. Long-term unemployment is at historically high levels, another factor that does little or nothing to reassure hard-pressed men and women that any recovery is helping their own pocketbooks.
Page Gardner of Women's Voices, listed as a co-author of the memo, said in an interview that for unmarried women and other key parts of the Democratic coalition, "a message about the benefits of a recovery doesn't really reflect their lives currently. The power of the women's economic agenda and talking about equal pay for equal work, paid sick leave, and messages that go to their ability to make it themselves and help their families make it is very powerful, and that's what they want to hear."
ATLANTA (AP) — Residents are objecting to the Archdiocese of Atlanta's plans to renovate a house in the city's upscale Buckhead neighborhood so it can be a home for a group of priests.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the dispute involves Atlanta Catholic Archbishop Wilton Gregory's former residence.
It's the latest controversy involving church properties in Atlanta. Earlier this month, Gregory said he would sell a $2.2 million mansion after parishioners complained it wasn't in line with the tone of austerity Pope Francis set. Gregory still lives in the mansion but plans to move.
Attorney Hakim Hilliard, who represents some residents near Gregory's former home, say the planned renovation is an extravagant project that's out of character for the neighborhood.
An archdiocese lawyer says opposition to the renovation amounts to a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and smacks of religious discrimination.