AP Top News at 11:37 a.m. EDT

Seoul: N. Korean leader removes major nuclear sticking point
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that his rival, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, isn't asking for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula as a precondition for abandoning his nuclear weapons. If true, this would seem to remove a major sticking point to a potential nuclear disarmament deal. North Korea, a small, authoritarian nation surrounded by bigger and richer neighbors, has always linked its pursuit of nuclear weapons to what it calls a "hostile" U.S. policy that is embodied by the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, the 50,000 stationed in Japan, and the "nuclear umbrella" security guarantee that Washington offers allies Seoul and Tokyo.


Trump leaves open possibility of bailing on meeting with Kim
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump said that although he's looking ahead optimistically to a historic summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un he could still pull out if he feels it's "not going to be fruitful." Trump said that CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Kim "got along really well" in their recent secret meeting, and he declared, "We've never been in a position like this" to address worldwide concerns over North Korea's nuclear weapons. But speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, after the allies met at Trump's Florida resort, he made clear that he'd still be ready to pull the plug on what is being billed as an extraordinary meeting between the leaders of longtime adversaries.


Diaz-Canel replaces Raul Castro as Cuba's president
HAVANA (AP) - Fifty-seven-year-old Communist Party official Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez replaced Raul Castro as the president of Cuba on Thursday, pledging to preserve the island's communist system while gradually reforming the economy and making the government more responsive to the people. Addressing the nation live on television, Diaz-Canel said Castro, 86, would remain the country's ultimate authority as head of the Communist Party. Castro's 12 years as president ended shortly after 9 a.m. when the head of the country's electoral commission announced that all but one of the 604 members of the National Assembly had approved Diaz-Canel as sole candidate.


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Rebels in Syria's south brace for onslaught, fear wider war
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - Rebels in southern Syria who were once backed by the United States fear a new offensive by President Bashar Assad's forces, one that risks igniting a wider conflict. A government push to the south could bring allied Iranian and Russian forces even closer to the increasingly tense frontier with Israel, and to U.S. forces based further to the east. A breakdown in security across the region, which has been largely quiet in recent months following a cease-fire brokered by the U.S., Russia and Jordan, could also provide an opening for Islamic State militants to regroup. For years, rebel forces known as the Southern Front received covert U.S.


Men arrested at Starbucks say they feared for their lives
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Rashon Nelson initially brushed it off when the Starbucks manager told him he couldn't use the restroom because he wasn't a paying customer. He thought nothing of it when he and his business partner, Donte Robinson, were approached at their table and were asked if they needed help. The 23-year-old entrepreneurs declined, explaining they were just waiting for a business meeting. A few minutes later, they hardly noticed when the police walked into the coffee shop - until officers started walking in their direction. "That's when we knew she called the police on us," Nelson told The Associated Press in the men's first interview since video of their April 12 arrests went viral.


Doctor who treated Prince pays $30K for illegal prescription
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minnesota doctor accused of illegally prescribing an opioid painkiller for Prince a week before the musician died from a fentanyl overdose has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation, according to documents made public Thursday. The settlement between the U.S. Attorney's Office and Dr. Michael Todd Schulenberg comes as state prosecutors prepared to announce Thursday morning whether they'll file any criminal charges stemming from their two-year investigation into Prince's death. Schulenberg is not currently a target of any criminal investigation, federal prosecutors said in a letter to his attorney. His attorney, Amy Conners, released a statement Thursday saying "there have been no allegations made by the Government that Dr.


Trump's personal attorney has dropped a pair of libel suits
NEW YORK (AP) - President Donald Trump's personal attorney dropped a pair of libel lawsuits against BuzzFeed and investigation firm Fusion GPS amid the stir caused by an FBI search of the lawyer's files. Michael Cohen had sued in New York City over publication of the unverified dossier detailing alleged ties between Trump and Russia. He dropped the suits late Wednesday amid a separate legal battle over the seizure of documents and electronic files from his home, office and hotel room last week in a federal investigation of possible financial fraud. The dossier claims that Cohen met with Russian operatives in Europe for a meeting to "clean up the mess" over disclosures of other Trump associates' reported ties to Russia.


'Pharma Bro' moves to New Jersey _ for federal prison stay
FORT DIX, N.J. (AP) - The pharmaceutical-industry entrepreneur vilified for jacking up the price of a life-saving drug was moved Tuesday to a low-security federal prison in New Jersey. Martin Shkreli was sent from the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center in New York to the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix. Shkreli, who was dubbed "Pharma Bro" for his loutish behavior, was sentenced last month to seven years in prison for securities fraud and fined $75,000. According to the prison's handbook , there are no bars, towers or locks on rooms. Inmates must demonstrate a high degree of responsibility, and "the expectations are that each inmate will comply." Amenities at the prison complex about 40 miles (64 kilometers) from Philadelphia include racquetball courts, pool tables and a music room.


FAA orders fan blade inspections after jet engine explosion
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - U.S. airline regulators have ordered inspections on engine fan blades like the one that snapped off a Southwest Airlines plane, leading to the death of a woman who was partially blown out a window. The Federal Aviation Administration's announcement late Wednesday comes nearly a year after the engine's manufacturer recommended the additional inspections, and a month after European regulators ordered their airlines to do the work. Pressure for the FAA to act grew after an engine on a Southwest plane blew apart on Tuesday, showering the aircraft with debris and shattering a window. A woman sitting next to the window was partially blown out and died of her injuries.


New data: Americans filling far fewer opioid prescriptions
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers filled in the U.S. fell dramatically last year, showing their biggest drop in 25 years and continuing a decline amid increasing legal restrictions and public awareness of the dangers of addiction, new data show. Health data firm IQVIA's Institute for Human Data Science released a report Thursday showing an 8.9 percent average drop nationwide in the number of prescriptions for opioids filled by retail and mail-order pharmacies. All 50 states and the District of Columbia had declines of more than 5 percent. Declines topped 10 percent in 18 states, including all of New England and other states hit hard by the opioid overdose epidemic, such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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