Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment at 12:20 a.m. EDT

April 06, 2017 - 12:22 am

SYRIA

Syria chemical attack death toll surpasses 80

BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian monitoring group says the death toll from a suspected chemical weapons attack on the northern town of Khan Sheikhoun has risen to 86.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says those killed in Tuesday's attack include 30 children and 20 women.

U.S. intelligence officials, the World Health Organization, and Doctors Without Borders say the initial evidence points to the use of nerve gas in the attack.

The Trump administration and other international officials accuse the Syrian government of carrying out the strike, allegations Damascus has denied.

Moscow, a stalwart ally of the Syrian government, says toxic gases were released when Syrian government jets bombed a rebel munitions factory in the town's outskirts.

TRUMP-NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

Trump removes Bannon from National Security Council

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has removed chief strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council, reversing a controversial early decision to give Bannon access to the high-level meetings.

A new memorandum about the composition of the NSC was published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. The memo no longer lists the chief strategist as a member of the Principal's Committee, a group of high-ranking officials that convene to discuss pressing national security priorities.

The new memo also restores the director of national intelligence and the Joint Chiefs chairman to the Principal's Committee.

Bannon's addition to the NSC sparked concerns from Trump critics, who said it was inappropriate for the political adviser to play a role on national security matters.

CONGRESS-HEALTH OVERHAUL

White House, lawmakers adrift over reviving health bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration and Republican lawmakers plan to continue their uphill effort to exhume the House GOP's all-but-buried health care bill.

But the party seems adrift and divided for now over how to reshape it to attract enough votes to muscle it through the chamber.

White House officials and leading legislators plan to resume talks Wednesday.

They huddled for two hours in a Capitol basement meeting room. But they failed to cut a deal on a White House proposal to let states seek federal permission to drop coverage mandates that President Barack Obama's health care law slapped on insurers.

The White House offers got an uneven reception earlier from GOP moderates and conservatives. That dimmed prospects they could salvage one of their leading legislative priorities.

TRUMP-XI

Trump presses China on NKorea; another bluff could hurt him

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has vowed to deliver an ultimatum to Chinese leader Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea when the two men meet for the first time this week. But Trump's early retreat on Taiwan already has chipped away at his standing with Beijing. Another bluff could leave him looking the way he hates most — weak.

Trump enters the first U.S.-Chinese summit short on foreign policy experience. But his candor and unpredictability, combined with veiled threats of sanctions on Chinese banks and even U.S. military action against North Korea, could provide leverage. But if he's bluffing, and Xi calls him on it, that might prove damaging in future negotiations with China.

The two-day meeting at Mar-a-Lago starts Thursday after yet another North Korean test-launch of a ballistic missile.

UNITED NATIONS-SCOTTISH MINISTER-INTERVIEW

Scotland's minister, a Trump critic, says she would meet him

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Scotland's leader Nicola Sturgeon, who has been a critic of Donald Trump, says she would agree to meet the U.S. president and try to build on the strong relationship between Scotland and the United States.

But the first minister of Scotland said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that it's also important "to stand up and champion values that we hold dear and not allow a diplomatic silence to get in the way of doing that."

Trump's mother came from Scotland and he has touted his Scottish ancestry. But Sturgeon revoked his honorary status as a business ambassador for Scotland in 2015 after he proposed a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Sturgeon said what's most important is the strong U.S.-Scotland relationship — not "policy disagreements."

US WOMEN-LABOR

US Soccer and women's national team agree on new contract

The U.S. Soccer Federation and the World Cup champion women's team have agreed on a labor contract, settling a dispute in which the players sought equitable wages to their male counterparts.

The financial terms and length of the multiyear deal were not disclosed.

The agreement was ratified by the players and the federation's board Tuesday. The team had been playing under a memorandum of understanding that expired Dec. 31.

A group of players drew attention to the fight for a better contract a year ago when they filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged wage discrimination by the federation. The women maintained that players for the men's national team earned far more than they did in many cases despite comparable work.

SKOREA-VAGRANTS' LAND

In S. Korea, ex-vagrants want land promised for forced labor

SEOSAN, South Korea (AP) — Nearly 2,000 people including ex-gangsters, ex-convicts, former prostitutes and orphans were once held in a South Korean village and forced to work without pay for years, then largely forgotten. The few who remain now seek an investigation and compensation.

They were victims of social engineering orchestrated in the 1960s by dictator Park Chung-hee, late father of just-ousted President Park Geun-hye. His 18-year rule was marked by both a dramatic economic rise and enormous human rights abuses.

He cleared city streets of so-called vagrants and put them to work on land and road projects as free labor to help rebuild the country after the 1950-53 Korean War.

Former inmates at Seosan say they received so little to eat that they caught and ate frogs, snakes and rats.

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