Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 a.m. EDT

April 24, 2017 - 6:01 am


As budget deadline looms, Trump pushes border wall funding

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a budget deadline looming, President Donald Trump plans a whirlwind of activities seeking to highlight accomplishments, And he'll do it while putting fresh pressure on congressional Democrats to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, even if that pressure risks a possible government shutdown.

Trump approaches the symbolic 100-day mark for his administration this coming week juggling a renewed health care push and his demands that a must-pass government funding bill should include money for the wall.

The 100-day mark falls on Saturday, the same day government could shut down without a budget deal. Trump has announced a rally in Pennsylvania that day.


US Defense Sec'y Mattis in Afghanistan to discuss war needs

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has arrived unannounced in Afghanistan.

Mattis is in Kabul to assess America's longest war as the Trump administration weighs sending more U.S. troops. His visit comes three days after a Taliban attack on a northern Afghanistan army base killed at least 100 people, with some estimates up to 130.

For Mattis, Kabul is the final stop on a six-nation, weeklong tour by the Pentagon chief intended to bolster relations with allies and partners and to get an update on the stalemated conflict in Afghanistan.

Mattis is the first member of President Donald Trump's Cabinet to visit Afghanistan. The top American commander in Kabul, Gen. John Nicholson, recently told Congress that he needs a few thousand more troops.


APNewsBreak: New Orleans begins taking down Confederate statues

UNDATED (AP) — Workers in New Orleans have begun began removing the first of four prominent Confederate monuments early Monday, the latest Southern institution to sever itself from symbols viewed by many as a representation racism and white supremacy.

Trucks arrived to begin removing the first memorial, one that commemorates whites who tried to topple a biracial post-Civil War government in New Orleans, around 1:25 a.m. in an attempt to avoid disruption from supporters who want the monuments to stay, some of whom city officials said have made death threats.

Workers who were inspecting the statue ahead of its removal could be seen wearing flak jackets and helmets. Police officers watched the area from atop the parking garage of a nearby hotel.

Three other statues to Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis will be removed in later days now that legal challenges have been overcome.


Arkansas prepares for 1st double execution in US since 2000

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two condemned Arkansas killers who admit they're guilty but fear poor health could lead to extreme pain during lethal injections might become the first inmates put to death in a double execution in the U.S. in more than 16 years.

Jack Jones and Marcel Williams are set to die Monday night. If put to death, they would be the second and third Arkansas inmates executed this month. Arkansas originally wanted to execute eight inmates before one of its lethal injection drugs expires at the end of the month in the nation's most aggressive execution schedule since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty in 1976.

Arkansas put Ledell Lee to death last week in its first execution since 2005. Another inmate, Kenneth Williams, is set for execution Thursday.


Pence cites 'challenging times' to troops in American Samoa

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) — US Vice President Mike Pence is thanking US service members based in American Samoa.

Pence addressed about 200 soldiers during a refueling stop in Pago Pago on Sunday. The Vice President noted "challenging times" in the Asia Pacific and told the troops the Trump administration was seeking a large increase in military funding.

He also dedicated a sign that will greet visitors at a veterans clinic.

Pence met with American Samoan officials and troops on his way to Hawaii at the end of a tour of the Asia Pacific region that included a stop along the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea.


AP Exclusive: The sad saga of North Korea's ATMs

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — The airport in the North Korean capital has two ATMs but according to bank officials, because of new Chinese sanctions, they don't work.

ATMs are an alien enough concept in North Korea that those in the shiny new airport have a video screen near the top showing how they work. The video is in Korean, but the machines, which are meant primarily for Chinese visitors, don't give out cash in the North Korean currency.

If sanctions are in fact why the ATMs aren't working, that could be a sign that Beijing is squeezing Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and long-range missile programs.

China is isolated North Korea's main economic lifeline and has been under increasing pressure to rein in its neighbor. The North's finance and banking sectors are major targets.


Guatemalan land activist wins prestigious Goldman prize

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemalan farmer and activist Rodrigo Tot has been awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for work in his homeland. It's an honor that comes after two previous Latin American winners have been murdered in the last year.

The diminutive, soft-spoken evangelical pastor is being recognized for defending his indigenous Q'eqchi community's lands against a mining company and the government.

Goldman praises what it calls Tot's "intrepid leadership of his people and defense of their ancestral land." It notes that has come at great personal cost to Tot: In 2012 one of his sons was shot dead in "an assassination that was passed off as a robbery."

Tot tells The Associated Press he considers the award to be recognition for the community's struggle to defend its land and resources.


APNewsBreak: Dodgers, Yankees cut projected luxury tax bills

NEW YORK (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees are cutting payroll and their luxury tax bills — just as Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and perhaps Clayton Kershaw near the free-agent market after the 2018 season.

The Dodgers are on track to slice their tax bill by about a quarter this year and the Yankees by two-thirds. The San Francisco Giants also are set to slice their payment in the first season of baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, but the Detroit Tigers are slated to pay more despite saying they want to reduce payroll.

If a team doesn't pay tax in 2018, its tax rate would drop to 20 percent in 2019 — allowing perennially high-spending clubs to sign stars at a lower cost.

The Dodgers are forecast to pay a $25.1 million competitive balance tax this year, according to opening-day calculations by the commissioner's office obtained by The Associated Press, down from $43.6 million in 2015 and $31.8 million last year. The Yankees' bill is slated to be just under $9 million, their lowest since the tax began in 2003 and less than one-third of the $27.4 million they owed last season.


The Latest: European stocks soar on French election result

PARIS (AP) — European stock markets have surged on the open as investors welcomed the result of the first round of the French presidential election.

France's CAC 40 soared 3.9 percent while Germany's DAX rose 2.5 percent on Monday morning. The euro risen strongly on Sunday night, when it begins trading during Asian currency market hours. It had risen 2 percent but later eased back slightly to be 1.2 percent higher on the day, at $1.0857.

The centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and populist Marine Le Pen will go onto a second round vote, with Macron favored to win. Investors welcome his commitment to strengthen the European Union and the euro, both of which Le Pen wants France to exit.


Trump's 100 days: A rattled establishment, some surprises

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has rattled Washington, startled world leaders with his unpredictability and won their praise for a surprise strike on Syria. And that is all in the first 100 days,

He's endured the steady drip of investigations and seemingly endless public personnel drama.

Trump campaigned on a promise of instant disruption, but indirectly acknowledged that change doesn't come quickly to Washington. He showed signs that he feels the weight of the office, discussing the "heart" required to do the job.

Although he retains his signature bravado and a salesman's confidence in his upward trajectory, he displays an awareness that many of his own expectations for his first 100 days in office have not been met. Trump suggested in an interview that "the 100 day" measurement "is not very meaningful."

EDITOR'S NOTE — One in a series of stories assessing the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency. The 100-day milestone is Saturday.

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