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AP Top News at 1:09 a.m. EDT

White House: Trump will not immediately bolt NAFTA
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday told the leaders of Mexico and Canada that he will not immediately pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, just hours after administration officials said he was considering a draft executive order to do just that. The White House made the surprise announcement in a read-out of calls between Trump, Mexican President Enrique Peņa Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "President Trump agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries," said the White House.


Trump team softens war talk, vows other pressure on NKorea
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Trump administration told lawmakers Wednesday it will apply economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, as an extraordinary White House briefing served to tamp down talk of military action against an unpredictable and increasingly dangerous U.S. adversary. President Donald Trump welcomed Republican and Democratic senators before his secretary of state, defense secretary, top general and national intelligence director conducted a classified briefing. The same team also met with House members in the Capitol to outline the North's escalating nuclear capabilities and U.S. response options to what they called an "urgent national security threat."


France: Analysis shows Syrian government behind sarin attack
PARIS (AP) - France said that the chemical analysis of samples taken from a deadly sarin gas attack in Syria earlier this month "bears the signature" of President Bashar Assad's government and shows it was responsible. Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said France came to this conclusion after comparing samples from a 2013 sarin attack in Syria that matched the new ones. The findings came in a six-page report published Wednesday. In Damascus, Syrian opposition activists and a monitor reported Thursday that a large explosion rocked the Syrian capital, followed by a fire near Damascus airport. The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdurrahman said the explosion was heard across the capital, jolting residents awake.


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Here's what could be next for Trump's sanctuary cities order
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - President Donald Trump is lashing out at a judge's ruling blocking his attempt to strip funds from "sanctuary cities" that don't cooperate with U.S. immigration authorities, calling it "ridiculous" and vowing to go to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the third Trump executive order on immigration to be thwarted by the federal courts. Here is a look at Tuesday's ruling and what lies ahead: --- WHAT DID THE FEDERAL JUDGE SAY ABOUT THE SANCTUARY CITIES ORDER? U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco said the president has no authority to attach new conditions of his own to spending that was approved by Congress.


Witnesses reflect on LA's Rodney King riot 25 years later
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dee Young remembers April 29, 1992, the way most Americans of a certain age recall Sept. 11 - it's indelibly etched in his memory as the day his world and that of thousands of others changed forever. The 27-year-old tow-truck driver had stopped for a hamburger at a popular South Los Angeles fast-food joint that afternoon when he saw hordes of shouting, angry people carrying armloads of booze from a liquor store next door. He soon learned he was witnessing the beginning of one of the worst race riots in American history, and it was unfolding in the neighborhood where he rode bikes and flew kites during a childhood he remembers as idyllic.


Coulter's Berkeley speech canceled, police prep for violence
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Ann Coulter said Wednesday that she was forced to cancel her speaking event Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley amid concerns of violence but might still "swing by to say hello" to all her supporters. Police and university officials said they were bracing for possible trouble whether Coulter comes to campus or not, citing intelligence and online chatter by groups threatening to instigate violence. In emails to The Associated Press, Coulter confirmed that her planned speech on illegal immigration, followed by a question-answer session, was canceled. But she remained coy about what she might do instead.


Dispute over health payments defused, spending bill on track
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House and congressional Democrats on Wednesday defused a tense standoff over payments for the working poor under the health care law, keeping a massive government spending bill on track just days ahead of a shutdown deadline. President Donald Trump on Wednesday backed away from a threat to immediately withhold payments to help people with modest incomes with out-of-pocket medical expenses under Democrat Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The dispute with Democrats, especially House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, threatened to hold up the $1 trillion-plus spending bill. A temporary funding bill expires Friday at midnight, and GOP leaders late Wednesday unveiled another short-term spending bill to prevent a government shutdown this weekend - Trump's 100th day in office.


New US office seeks to aid victims of crimes by immigrants
WASHINGTON (AP) - Stymied on his top immigration initiatives, President Donald Trump is making good on one plan that critics denounce as fearmongering and misleading: opening an office for victims of crimes committed by immigrants, although studies show immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Wednesday opened the office dubbed the Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement, or VOICE. He said it will be used to keep victims informed of the immigration proceedings of suspects and generally walk them through the complicated and often drawn-out immigration court process. The office will be staffed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees.


Businesses like Trump tax plan, but they won't rush to hire
NEW YORK (AP) - Giving workers a raise, investing in new machinery. Small business owners have long wish lists to choose from if the Trump administration's plan to lower tax rates becomes law - but most don't expect to go on a hiring binge. Some owners and small business groups hoped the dramatic cuts in corporate and personal taxes proposed Wednesday could mean more savings to invest in their businesses and more revenue coming in from consumers and businesses with some extra money to spend. Brian Hart, the sole owner of a public relations company in Philadelphia, said he would reinvest any tax savings into Flackable, but doesn't expect to have enough to hire employees.


Celtics beat Bulls 108-97, take 3-2 lead in series
BOSTON (AP) - The Celtics and Bulls found another thing to argue about after Game 5 of their spirited first-round playoff series: Was Avery Bradley more impressive on offense, or on defense? "Everyone knows he's a good defender. Tonight, he got his offensive game going," Chicago's Dwyane Wade said after Bradley scored 24 points to lead Boston to a 108-97 victory and a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. "You expect him to do what he does defensively, but we gave up 24 points to him tonight. He hurt us offensively tonight more than anything." Isaiah Thomas also scored 24 for the Celtics, the top seed in the East.