WASHINGTON (AP) — Want to take a picture inside the White House Blue Room? Well, it’s now OK to pull out your cellphone or camera and press “shoot.”

The White House on Wednesday ended a long-standing ban on tourists taking photos or using social media during public tours of the building. Michelle Obama made the announcement in a video posted on her Instagram account.

“If you’ve been on a White House tour, you may have seen this sign,” she says, holding up a placard that states “No Photos or Social Media Allowed.” ”Well, not anymore,” she adds, and then dramatically rips the sign in half.

Those visiting the presidential mansion on Wednesday with cameras in hand may have also taken note of another visual: sharp, metal spikes being installed atop the White House fence. The Secret Service upgrade comes amid concerns about would-be intruders scaling the fence and jeopardizing the president’s security, but is intended as a temporary measure until a long-term change for the fence can be put in place.

The White House said the more than 40-year-old photo ban was lifted because changes in camera technology make it possible to take high-quality photos using less light. Strong light can damage the delicate pigments used in art work.

Tourists arriving Wednesday were busily taking pictures.

“I’m very happy they changed the rule. I’m taking as many as I can,” said Michael Labrecque of Palm Harbor, Florida. He posed in the East Room with sons Madison, 11, and Mason, 9, as his wife Melinda looked on.

Korey Richardson, 47, of San Jose, California, was on his first White House tour.

“I’m taking tons of pictures, at least 30 so far,” Richardson said. “I’ve already uploaded some to Facebook friends.”

Other visitors took photographs of a new sign that said: “Photography is Encouraged.”

Still on the banned list are video cameras, including action camcorders, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods and camera sticks. Flash photography and live-streaming also remain prohibited.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

WASHINGTON (AP) — Want to take a picture inside the White House landmark Blue Room? Well, it’s now OK to pull out your cellphone or camera and press “shoot.”

The White House on Wednesday ended a long-standing ban on tourists taking photos or using social media during public tours of the building.

First Lady Michelle Obama made the announcement in a video posted on her Instagram account.

“If you’ve been on a White House tour, you may have seen this sign,” she says holding up a placard that states “No Photos or Social Media Allowed.” ”Well, not anymore,” she adds, and then dramatically rips the sign in half.

The White House said the more than 40-year-old ban was lifted because changes in camera technology make it possible to take high-quality photos using less light. Strong light can damage the delicate pigments used in art work.

Tourists arriving Wednesday were busily taking pictures.

“I’m very happy they changed the rule. I’m taking as many as I can,” said Michael Labrecque, who came to tour the White House from Florida with his wife and their two sons.

Still on the banned list are video cameras, including action camcorders, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods and camera sticks. Flash photography and live-streaming also remain prohibited.

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s main Kurdish party warned Turkey on Wednesday that any military intervention would threaten international peace and said the country’s main Kurdish militia is ready to face any “aggression.”

Meanwhile, a Syrian rebel group released a video showing 18 Islamic State militants being shot in the backs of their heads.

The statement by the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, comes as Turkish media is abuzz with talk of a long-debated military intervention to push the Islamic State group back from the Turkish border — a move that would also outflank any Kurdish attempt to create a state along Turkey’s southern frontier.

Kurdish fighters backed by U.S.-led airstrikes have been on the offensive against the IS group in northern Syria for months, and now control a long stretch along the Syria-Turkey border. Turkey, which battled a decades-long Kurdish insurgency, has viewed the advance with growing concern and has warned it will not tolerate the establishment of a Kurdish state in Syria.

Two weeks ago, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which is dominated by the PYD, captured the border town of Tal Abyad, denying the IS group a crucial nearby border crossing used to bring in supplies and foreign fighters.

The capture of Tal Abyad cleared the way for the Kurds to connect their stronghold in Syria’s northeast to the once badly isolated border town of Kobani — where they famously resisted a months-long Islamic State siege — and possibly extend it to the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria’s northwest.

“Any military intervention in Rojava will have local, regional and international repercussions and will contribute to complicating the political situation in Syria and the Middle East and threaten international security and peace,” the PYD statement warned. Rojava is a term that refers to Syria’s predominantly Kurdish region.

The PYD called on NATO members to prevent Turkey from carrying out any “reckless” intervention. It added that Syria’s Kurds want good relations with their neighbors and have no intention to set up an independent state.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chaired a National Security Council meeting Monday which covered developments in Syria. Pro-government newspapers said proposals ranged from loosening the rules of engagement to give Turkish troops a freer hand to fire into Syria, to a tanks-and-troops invasion aimed at occupying a 110-kilometer (70-mile) long, 33-kilometer (20-mile) wide buffer zone.

Turkish officials fear the creation of a vast and contiguous zone of Kurdish control could stir up separatist sentiment among its own Kurdish minority. Ankara is also concerned over reports that Kurdish rebels are chasing other ethnic groups, such as Arabs and Turkmens, out of the areas under their control.

The PYD statement said YPG fighters “are ready to repel any aggression by any party.” It called on Turkish officials to “stop their provocative and reckless acts.”

Earlier Wednesday, YPG spokesman Redur Khalil said Kurdish fighters now fully control Tal Abyad, after repelling a surprise Islamic State attack that saw the extremists briefly seize the northeastern neighborhood of Mashhour. Khalil said three IS fighters were killed and a fourth blew himself up.

Also Wednesday, the Syrian rebel Islam Army faction released a video showing the shooting deaths of 18 Islamic State militants whom they had been holding. The IS fighters came from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other countries.

The Islam Army video came a week after IS released a video showing the beheading of 12 Islam Army members who had been captured by the extremists. The group warned its other rivals to repent or face the same fate.

The Islam Army video showed the 18 IS members in black uniforms with arms and legs shackled as they were pulled by a chain around their necks. The men were made to kneel in a field and their masks removed before each of them was shot in the back of the head.

The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other AP reporting of the events.

Islam Army has fought deadly battles against the Islamic State group over the past year mostly in the suburbs of the capital Damascus. Islam Army leader Zahran Allouch is one of the harshest critics of IS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese police on Wednesday searched the apartment of the man who set himself on fire on a high-speed bullet train, killing himself and another passenger, as officials sought clues to his motive.

Investigators identified the man as 71-year-old Haruo Hayashizaki. He poured an oil-like liquid over himself and set fire to it at one end of a train car on Tuesday, filling the coach with smoke and killing himself. A 52-year-old female passenger died from suffocation after suffering throat burns. The train was traveling from Tokyo to Osaka.

Investigators searched Hayashizaki’s apartment in Tokyo, looking for clues to his actions. Television video showed them carrying out cardboard boxes filled with confiscated items. Police said they haven’t yet determined the motive.

Japanese media quoted his neighbors as saying he had repeatedly complained that his meager pension was barely enough to live on.

The transport ministry said the incident was the first fire on a bullet train in its 50-year history.

Many Japanese mourned the second victim, Yoshiko Kuwahara, who had written on her Facebook page that she was traveling to a Shinto shrine at Ise to pray and give thanks for her “peaceful and safe” life in the first half of the year. As an osteopath, she said her dream was to “heal the pain in the heart and body of other people.”

As the nation tried to recover from the shocking incident, transport officials met with bullet train operators to seek ways to tighten security without affecting the efficiency of the trains.

Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta told the meeting that it would be important to step up luggage controls, also as part of anti-terrorism and fire-prevention efforts.

“Naturally, safety comes first, but convenience is also important,” he said.

Some officials said Japan needs stricter security on its bullet trains ahead of next year’s Group of Seven summit in Japan and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But experts say it would be impossible to conduct airport-level luggage checks for the high-speed line, which operates trains every three minutes during rush hours.

The 16-car bullet trains, called shinkansen in Japanese, travel the 553 kilometers (343 miles) between Tokyo and Osaka in 2 hours and 33 minutes.

LONDON (AP) — They’re more accustomed to stadiums, but the Rolling Stones are coming to a London art gallery.

An exhibition of more than 500 recordings and artifacts from the band’s archive will open at the Saatchi Gallery next year. Organizers said Wednesday it will “show how the band has changed the way we experience rock ‘n’ roll.”

The “Exhibitionism” show will take in art, design, film, video, fashion and performance as well as music, and the artifacts include guitars, costumes, personal diaries and audio clips.

Mick Jagger said the band had been thinking about an exhibition for a long time, “but we wanted it to be just right and on a large scale.”

“Exhibitionism” is slated to run from April to September 2016. Tickets go on sale July 10.

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Online: www.stonesexhibitionism.com

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The superintendent at the prison where two killers broke out has been placed on leave along with his security chief and 10 other staff members amid an internal investigation into how the inmates pulled it off, a state official said Tuesday.

The 12-member group is in addition to the guard and the prison tailor shop instructor who have been arrested on charges they helped the escapees.

Officials would not say what connection, if any, the 12 had to the June 6 escape from the maximum-security prison or the failure to prevent it.

Meanwhile, the surviving convict, David Sweat, claimed from his hospital bed that he used no power tools to cut his way out, contrary to what authorities have said.

Sweat was wounded and captured Sunday near the Canadian border after three weeks on the run. His accomplice, Richard Matt, was shot to death last week.

Steven Racette, the $132,000-a-year superintendent of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, was removed along with Stephen Brown, deputy superintendent in charge of security, according to a state official who was briefed on the matter but wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The 12 also include guards.

The Corrections Department said only that three executives and nine other staff members were placed on paid leave as part of a departmental review of the escape. It did not identify them. The department said it is bringing in new leadership.

Cherie Racette, the superintendent’s wife, told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise he was given the option of taking a demotion or retiring and chose retirement. She said he and two deputies are being made scapegoats by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Brown did not immediately return a call for comment.

Sweat’s condition was upgraded from serious to fair at the Albany hospital where he was taken after being shot twice by a state trooper.

Matt and Sweat cut holes in their cells and a steam pipe and made their way to a manhole outside in a breakout that embarrassed the Corrections Department, exposed a host of possible security lapses and set off a manhunt involving more than 1,000 law enforcement officers.

District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Sweat told investigators that he started cutting through steel cellblock walls in January with only a hacksaw blade and used no power tools. Authorities had previously said the two men used power tools borrowed from contractors’ toolboxes at night.

Prosecutors have said tailor shop instructor Joyce Mitchell got close to the men, supplied them with hacksaw blades and other tools, and agreed to be their getaway driver but backed out at the last moment. She has pleaded not guilty.

Guard Gene Palmer was also arrested, telling investigators he gave the convicts such things as tools, art supplies and access to a catwalk electrical box in exchange for paintings by Matt. But he said he never knew of their escape plans.

Sweat, 35, had been serving life without parole in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy. Matt, 49, was doing 25 years to life for the kidnapping and hacksaw dismemberment of his former boss.

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Associated Press writer Michael Hill in Albany, New York, and writer Michael Balsamo and video journalist Bonny Ghosh in Plattsburgh, New York, contributed to this report.