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National Politics

    The Latest on AP Fact Checks for the previous week (all times local): 5:45 p.m. President Donald Trump says the leader of the Philippines is doing a 'great job' combatting his country's drug problems. But an AP Fact Check finds those efforts come with harsh consequences, according Trump's own administration. Trump congratulated Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a phone call April 29 and praised him for 'the unbelievable job on the drug problem.' That's according to a transcript obtained by The Washington Post. Yet a State Department human rights report describes in harsh terms the thousands of killings by police and vigilantes of suspected Philippine drug dealers and users. The killings have been carried out without formal evidence or trials. That same report says Duterte released lists of suspected drug criminals. Some on those lists were killed. ___ 11 a.m. It's been a muted week for President Donald Trump when it comes to tweeting. But AP Fact Checks have spotted some tall tales in his rhetoric during his first foreign trip since taking office. For one, Trump claimed that fellow NATO members 'owe massive amounts of money' to the common defense. They don't. The actual issue is that the United States wants them to live up to their commitment to increase spending on their own military budgets by 2024.
  • The Latest on the death of former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski (all times local): 5:45 p.m. Former presidents are remembering Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski (ZBIG'-nyef breh-ZHIN'-skee), as an 'influential voice' who 'shaped decades of American national security policy.' Barack Obama says that he was one of several presidents 'who benefited from his wisdom and counsel.' And George H.W. Bush says Brzezinski's command of foreign affairs made him an 'influential voice in key policy debates.' Brzezinski died Friday in Virginia at the age of 89. His death was announced by his daughter, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. The elder Brzezinski helped Carter bridge wide gaps between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin. Those efforts led to the historic Camp David accords in September 1978. ___ 8 a.m. Former President Jimmy Carter is remembering his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski (ZBIG'-nyef breh-ZHIN'-skee), as 'a superb public servant' as well as 'brilliant, dedicated and loyal.' Brzezinski died Friday at the age of 89. His death was announced by his daughter, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. Carter says in a statement that he had been impressed by Brzezinski's background and his scholarly and political writings. The former president says Brzezinski became a natural choice for his national security adviser when he became president. In that role, Brzezinski helped Carter bridge wide gaps between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin. Those efforts led to the Camp David accords in September 1978. Three months later, U.S.-China relations were normalized, a top priority for Brzezinski.
  • The Latest on developments involving possible connections between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign (all times local): 11:45 a.m. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and now top White House adviser Jared Kushner proposed setting up a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team during a December meeting with a leading Russian diplomat. The Associated Press has learned that Kushner spoke with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. — Sergey Kislyak — about creating the secret line to make it easier to hold sensitive discussions about the conflict in Syria. A person familiar with the discussions says the back channel was meant to connect Michael Flynn — who later became Trump's first former national security adviser — with Russian military leaders. This person says the administration felt there was no need for a back channel once Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was confirmed, and the Trump team decided to communicate with Moscow through more official channels. The person wasn't authorized to publicly discuss private policy deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity. —Associated Press writer Vivian Salama ___ 11:30 a.m. The lead Senate committee investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has requested information and documents from President Donald Trump's campaign. That's according to a person familiar with the request who wasn't authorized to discuss the developments publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The request from the Senate Intelligence Committee arrived last week at campaign headquarters in New York. The person with knowledge of the investigation says the request is the first time any investigators have made inquiries with Trump's campaign officials. The Senate committee's request was first reported by The Washington Post. It covers materials such as emails, phone records and documents dating to Trump's first days as a candidate in July 2015. —Associated Press writer Julie Bykowicz ___ 10 a.m. Some of President Donald Trump's top aides are refusing to address reports that Trump's son-in-law — White House adviser Jared Kushner — and a Russian diplomat may have discussed setting up a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin. Questions about the reports came up when Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, and economic aide Gary Cohn met with the media in Sicily on Saturday — just before Trump headed back to Washington from his first foreign trip as president. McMaster and Cohn are declining to comment on new revelations about Kushner communications with Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. And here's just what Cohn said: 'We're not going to comment on Jared. We're just not going to comment.' That came after repeated questions from reporters. McMaster says that in general, 'we have back channel communications with a number of countries' and doing that 'allows you to communicate in a discreet manner.
  • The Latest on Group of Seven summit (all times local): 8:40 p.m. A stand-off between Italian riot police and protesters during which police used tear gas has ended without further incident. The tensions took place when anarchists, communists and other anti-global protesters held a demonstration after the Group of Seven summit in Taormina, Sicily. The protest took place in Giardini Naxos, a seaside town near Taormina, where the leaders had met for two days. The leaders had left before the protest began. ___ 6:40 p.m. Italian police have used tear gas against anarchists, communists and other anti-global protesters after the Group of Seven summit in Sicily. A stand-off is underway between Italian riot police and the protesters on Saturday evening in Giardini Naxos, a seaside town down the hill from Taormina, where leaders of seven large industrialized democracies had gathered for a two-day summit. The leaders had all left before the protest began. Many of the protesters carried flags or wore bandanas over their faces with the hammer and sickle symbol, a communist symbol. ___ 5:10 p.m. After a two-day summit in Italy, French President Emmanuel Macron had warm words for Donald Trump, despite the fact the U.S. president did not join in with other Group of Seven nations in supporting the Paris accord on fighting global warming. Macron praised Trump's 'capacity to listen' and said 'I found someone who is open and willing to deal well with us.' The new French president, a centrist, told reporters that 'I saw a leader with strong opinions on a number of subjects, which I share in part — the fight against terrorism, the willingness to keep our place in the family of nations — and with whom I have disagreements that we spoke about very calmly. I saw someone who listens and who is willing to work.' Macron said he told Trump that is 'indispensable for the reputation of the United States and the interest of the Americans themselves that the United States remain committed' to the Paris agreement. Marcon and Trump were both attending a G-7 summit for the first time. Macron won the French presidency on May 7. ___ 4:35 p.m. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the G-7 agreed to step up pressure on North Korea, including sanctions. He told reporters it was the first time that the G-7 had recognized the North Korean threat as a priority issue. He says 'the threat has entered a new stage' as North Korea tests missiles and nuclear weapons. Abe adds, 'there is a danger it can spread like a contagious disease.' ___ 4:25 p.m. President Donald Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, says the other G-7 leaders respect the U.S. position that more time is needed for Trump to make a final decision on whether to stay in the Paris climate accord. Trump tweeted Saturday that he'll make a decision next week. Cohn told reporters: 'They understand where we are, we understand where they are and it's most important that we continue to work together.' Cohn describes the conversation among the leaders was 'very robust' and said there was a 'lot of give and take.' ___ 4:15 p.m. Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni says differences of opinion with President Donald Trump 'emerged quite clearly in our discussion' at the G-7 summit. Gentiloni says: 'Discussing is always useful. I think that all of the leaders present, starting with President Trump, appreciated the informality with which one in this format ... can discuss things calmly and freely.' He notes that the American people chose Trump and adds, 'so we are coming to terms with this choice.' ___ 4:05 p.m. French President Emmanuel Macron praised President Donald Trump's 'capacity to listen' and his 'intention to progress with us.' Macron hailed this as 'one of the true outcomes of this G-7.' Macron said he told Trump it is 'indispensable for the reputation of the United States and the interest of the Americans themselves that the United States remain committed' to the Paris agreement. The French leader says he believes the arguments made by the six other members enabled Trump to understand the importance of that issue and the necessity the Paris agreement for the U.S. economy. ___ 3:50 p.m. Alden Meyer, the director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group in Washington, said the discord over climate change was unusual for G-7 meetings. He says: 'There have been differences, to be sure, in some past summits, but not a sharp open split like this.' Meyer said many U.S. states, cities, and companies are moving forward on climate action while the Trump administration is 'waffling' on the Paris Agreement. He says: 'President Trump should join these leaders in protecting Americans from the mounting impacts of climate change and reaping the economic benefits of the clean energy revolution, rather than trying to shore up the flagging fortunes of the polluting coal and oil industries.' ___ 3:25 p.m. A summit of the leaders of the world's wealthiest democracies has ended without a unanimous agreement on climate change, as the Trump administration plans to take more time to say whether the U.S. is going to remain in the Paris climate deal. The other six powers in the Group of Seven have agreed to stick with their previous commitment to implement that Paris deal to rein in greenhouse gases to fight climate change. The final G-7 statement expresses 'understanding' for the U.S. review process. The G-7 leaders also cut a compromise deal to acknowledge Trump's stance on trade. They kept the ban on protectionism from previous G-7 statements, but included a statement Saturday that they will 'stand firm against all unfair trade practices.' Climate and trade were sticking points at the two-day summit in Taormina, Sicily. The leaders found agreement on other points, such as backing closer cooperation against terrorism in the wake of the concert bombing in Manchester that killed 22 people. ___ 3:05 p.m. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says G-7 talks on climate change were 'unsatisfactory.' Six of the countries agreed to support the Paris climate change agreement; Trump tweeted he will decide next week. Merkel says the seven wealthy democracies meeting at a summit in Sicily have had a 'reasonable' discussion on trade and have agreed to reject protectionism. The agreement keeps a provision from early meetings in the face of a new approach from President Donald Trump, who has insisted trade must be fair as well as free. Merkel said the leaders agreed to 'act against protectionism.' ___ 2:30 p.m. President Donald Trump says he'll make a final decision next week on whether the U.S. will stay in the Paris climate agreement. Trump made the surprise announcement in a tweet after resisting pressure from European leaders to stay in the agreement. Nearly every nation that signed the 2015 agreement, including the six other G-7 members, has agreed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The president tweeted Saturday, 'I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!' Trump's pending review of U.S. climate policies has left environmentalists bracing for the possibility of bland G-7 promises that say little after years of increasingly stronger commitments to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Trump once proclaimed global warming a Chinese hoax. ___ 1:10 p.m. Shop owners in a Sicilian town have covered their windows with sheet metal and cardboard ahead of a protest expected to take place on the sidelines of a Group of Seven meeting. Several thousand people are expected to march through Giardini Naxos, the seaside town bordering Taormina, the hill top venue of the G7. The march was organized by unions protesting economic inequality, current migration policies and demanding lower military spending. The march is set for Saturday afternoon, as leaders of the world's seven largest democratic economies wrap up their two-day summit. The protests are expected to be peaceful, but the shop owners say they are mindful of violence that has taken place during past G-7 meetings. Marcello Di Giuseppe, said he just wants to be prepared, because 'if there will be damages who will compensate me.' ___ 11:55 a.m. Seven wealthy democracies have reached a deal at their annual summit to give the Trump administration time to tell them whether the United States plans to stay in the Paris climate agreement. A person familiar with the talks said six members of the Group of Seven would stick with their endorsement of the Paris deal, and await a decision from the U.S. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter before the formal announcement. The source adds that G-7 members were still wrestling over a statement on trade and whether it would condemn protectionism, as previous group statements have. The last G-7 meeting in Ise-Shima, Japan in 2016 agreed to 'fight all forms of protectionism,' or the use of import taxes and regulations to favor domestic producers over imports.
  • An inquiry into possible wrongdoing by IT staffers employed by a number of Democrats in Congress has garnered more attention in recent days, after a prominent lawmaker gave a public tongue lashing to the Capitol Hill police chief, vowing “consequences” over his refusal to return computer equipment that is evidently part of the ongoing investigation. At issue is a probe into a possible security breach involving Imran Awan, who has worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and other Democratic lawmakers, as a shared information technology worker. Little has been made public by Capitol Police on what exactly is being investigated; news reports in recent months have linked Awan, several of his relatives, and his wife to some type of Capitol Hill investigation that could involve stolen property and more. The new scrutiny came after a budget hearing on May 18 with U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa; the hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee had escaped notice, until reports earlier this week by the Daily Caller, noting the sharp words that Wasserman Schultz had for Verderosa. At the end of her Q&A with the police chief, Wasserman Schultz asks what happens when police find lost items. “I’d like to know how Capitol Police handle equipment that belongs to a member, or a staffer, that’s been lost within the Capitol complex, and found or recovered by one of your officers,” Wasserman Schultz begins. The bottom line from the chief was simple – until an investigation is completed, “I can’t return the equipment,” which is reportedly a laptop from Wasserman Schultz’s office. That answer did not satisfy the Florida Democrat. “I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way,” Wasserman Schultz said bluntly, as she told the chief that he should “expect that there will be consequences.” In the wake of that somewhat jarring verbal exchange, a reporter on Thursday asked House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi about the Awan investigation. “I’m really not familiar with what you’re talking about,” Pelosi said. “We’ve been busy with a lot of other things,” Pelosi added. U.S. Capitol Police have released little information about what this probe involves, and who exactly is being investigated. According to U.S. House spending records, Imran Awan was a shared employee for thirteen different House members in 2016, earning in the third quarter anywhere from as little as $300 from a pair of Democrats to $6,624.99 from another. Wasserman Schultz paid Awan $5,000.01 for work between July 1 and September 30, 2016. Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi, worked for seven Democrats, plus the House Democratic Caucus, earning close to $44,000 in the third quarter of 2016. Records also show two relatives of Awan’s on the Congressional payroll: Abid Awan worked for eight different House Democrats, while Jamal Awan worked for eight others – all as ‘shared’ employees.
  • President Donald Trump's son-in-law and now top White House adviser Jared Kushner proposed a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team during a December meeting with a leading Russian diplomat. Kushner spoke with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about creating that line of communication to facilitate sensitive discussions aimed at exploring the incoming administration's options with Russia as it was developing its Syria policy, according to a person familiar with the discussions who spoke with The Associated Press. The intent was to connect Trump's chief national security adviser at the time, Michael Flynn, with Russian military leaders, said this person, who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss private policy deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity. Russia, a pivotal player in Syria, has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad, often at the expense of civilians during a long civil war. The White House did not acknowledge the meeting or Kushner's attendance until March. At the time, a White House official dismissed it as a brief courtesy meeting. Kushner's involvement in the proposed back channel was first reported by The Washington Post, which said he proposed using Russian diplomatic facilities for the discussions, apparently to make them more difficult to monitor. The newspaper cited anonymous U.S. officials who were briefed on intelligence reports on intercepted Russian communications. The Post wrote that Kislyak was reportedly taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team. According to the person familiar with the Kushner meeting, the Trump team eventually felt there was no need for a back channel once Rex Tillerson was confirmed as secretary of state, and decided to communicate with Moscow through more official channels. Tillerson was sworn in on Feb. 1. Flynn served briefly as Trump's national security adviser before being fired in February after officials said he misled Vice President Mike Pence about whether he and the ambassador had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia in a phone call. Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, told Congress this month that that deception left Flynn vulnerable to being blackmailed by the Russians. Flynn remains under federal investigation in Virginia over his foreign business ties and was interviewed by the FBI in January about his contacts with Kislyak. The disclosure of the back channel put White House advisers on the defensive Saturday, as Trump wrapped up his first foreign trip as president, and led lawyers for Kushner to say he is willing to talk with federal and congressional investigators about his foreign contacts and his work on the Trump campaign. Meeting with reporters in Sicily, two Trump advisers refused to address the contents of Kushner's December meeting with the Russian diplomat. But they did not dismiss the idea that the administration would go outside normal U.S. government and diplomatic channels for communications with other countries. Speaking generally, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said 'we have back channel communications with a number of countries.' He added: 'It allows you to communicate in a discreet manner.' In response to repeated questions from reporters, Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn said, 'We're not going to comment on Jared. We're just not going to comment.' Kushner was a trusted Trump adviser last year, overseeing the campaign's digital strategy, and remains an influential confidant within the White House as does his wife, Ivanka Trump. Federal investigators and several congressional committees are looking into any connections between Russia and the Trump campaign, including allegations that there may have been collaboration to help Trump and harm his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. On Saturday, the AP confirmed that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has requested information and documents from Trump's campaign. The request from the committee arrived last week at campaign headquarters in New York, according to person familiar with the request who wasn't authorized to discuss the developments publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. It was said to be the first time any investigators have made inquiries with Trump's campaign officials. The Post first reported the request, which covers materials such as emails, phone records and documents dating to Trump's first days as a candidate in July 2015. Those inquiries now include scrutiny of Kushner, according to the newspaper. Obama administration officials have previously told the AP that the frequency of Flynn's discussions with Kislyak raised enough red flags that aides discussed the possibility Trump was trying to establish a one-to-one line of communication — a back channel — with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In addition, Reuters reported that Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with Kislyak last year, including two phone calls between April and November. Kushner's attorney, Jamie Gorelick, told Reuters that Kushner 'has no recollection of the calls as described.' Defense attorneys and former FBI agents say that one likely area of interest for investigators would be Kushner's own meetings with Russians, given that such encounters with a variety of Trump associates are at the root of the sprawling probe, now overseen by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Regarding Kushner, former FBI agent Jim Treacy said Friday: 'If there is an investigation on anybody, would other folks around that person be of interest to the FBI as far as being interviewed? The answer to that is a big yes.' If the FBI wants to speak with someone, it's not necessarily an indication of involvement or complicity, said Treacy, who did two tours in Moscow as the FBI's legal attache. 'Really, being spoken to, does not confer a target status on the individual,' he said. Investigators are also interested in a meeting Kushner had with the Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, according to reports from The Post and NBC News. 'Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings,' Gorelick said in a statement Thursday. 'He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.' ___ Associated Press writers Eileen Sullivan, Julie Bykowicz, Chad Day and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump's visit to Europe (all times local): 6:15 p.m. President Donald Trump says G-7 allies are pushing to end 'all trade-distorting practices.' The president tweeted as he departed Sicily for Washington, concluding his nine-day maiden overseas trip. The president writes, 'Just left the #G7Summit. Had great meetings on everything, especially on trade where... 'we push for the removal of all trade-distorting practices....to foster a truly level playing field.' Trump discussed trade with the leaders of Italy, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Japan during the summit, but it was not immediately clear what he meant by the tweet. Trump has advocated for fair trade, not free trade. ___ 5:30 p.m. President Donald Trump is recapping his first foreign trip and saluting U.S. military personnel at an event before he returns to Washington. The nine-day trip — Trump's first as president — took him to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Belgium, along with a pair of stops in Italy. Trump told U.S. military personnel in an address at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily that 'you are protecting us and we will always remember that.' As their commander in chief, he noted his desire to boost military spending and promised them 'my complete and unshakeable support.' Trump also previewed remarks he's scheduled to deliver at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on Memorial Day. ___ 5:05 p.m. Melania Trump says she will never forget the women and children she met on her first trip abroad as first lady of the United States. She has addressed U.S. military personnel at a naval base in Italy before she joins President Donald Trump for the flight back to Washington after nine days on the road. The trip took the Trumps to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Belgium and Italy. The first lady also thanked the service members for sacrificing on behalf of the U.S. She says it's because of their 'selfless commitment' and the sacrifices their families make that Americans are able to enjoy many freedoms. Mrs. Trump adds that she's very proud of how hard the president worked on the trip on behalf of the U.S. ___ 4:15 p.m. President Donald Trump is postponing a rally planned for next week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Trump's campaign team says the rally planned for Thursday has been postponed 'due to an unforeseen change' in the president's schedule. They did not elaborate. Trump is wrapping up his first trip abroad as president and returning to the U.S. on Saturday. His most recent campaign-style event was in the end of April when he marked his first 100 days in office with a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to headline a fundraising 'Roast and Ride' event in Iowa for Sen. Joni Ernst next Saturday. ___ 3:35 p.m. President Donald Trump's top advisers are refusing to address reports that his son-in-law and a top Russian diplomat may have discussed setting up a secret communications channel. In a press conference in Sicily, Saturday, advisers H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn declined to comment on new revelations about Jared Kushner's communications with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak (SER'-gay KISS-lee-yak). The Washington Post reported Friday that Kislyak told his superiors that he and Kushner discussed setting up a back channel between Trump's transition team and the Kremlin. The White House in March confirmed that Kushner and Kislyak met at Trump Tower in December for what one official called a brief courtesy meeting. McMaster adds, 'we have back channel communications with a number of countries.' He says, 'it allows you to communicate in a discreet manner.' ___ 3:30 p.m. President Donald Trump's top national security adviser says it's a 'matter of fact' that the United States stands behind NATO's common defense principle. Trump notably did not explicitly endorse Article 5 of the NATO charter during his remarks in Brussels earlier this week. He used the remarks to blast NATO members who don't fulfill pledges to put 2 percent of their gross domestic product toward defense. H.R. McMaster says Trump's support for Article 5 was 'implicit in the speech.' He says there was no conscious decision for the president to not specifically endorse the 'one for all, all for one' principle, which underpins the military alliance. Trump was sharply critical of NATO prior to his inauguration, calling the alliance 'obsolete' but has since expressed support for it. ___ 3:15 p.m. The White House says G-7 leaders had a 'very robust' conversation before issuing a final statement giving President Donald Trump more time to decide whether to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate agreement. Trump has resisted pressure from European leaders to stay in the landmark accord. But he said earlier Saturday in a tweet that he'll announce a final decision next week after he returns to the White House. Nearly 200 nations, including the U.S., agreed in 2015 to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. White House economic adviser Gary Cohn says statements issued after summits like the G-7 are always a 'give and take.' He says the final document reflects that other countries respect the U.S. decision to take more time before making a final decision. ___ 2:30 p.m. President Donald Trump says he'll make a final decision next week on whether the U.S. will stay in the Paris climate agreement. Trump made the surprise announcement in a tweet after resisting pressure from European leaders to stay in the agreement. Nearly every nation that signed the 2015 agreement has agreed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The president tweeted Saturday, 'I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!' Trump's pending review of U.S. climate policies has left environmentalists bracing for the possibility of bland G-7 promises that say little after years of increasingly stronger commitments to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Trump once proclaimed global warming a Chinese hoax. ___ 2 p.m. President Donald Trump and Canada's prime minister met on the sidelines of the G-7 summit to discuss economic issues. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office says they also addressed trade cooperation and efforts to boost job creation on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. Tensions recently escalated between the two countries after the Trump administration imposed new tariffs on softwood lumber from Canada and railed against its pricing of domestic milk to cover more dairy ingredients, which impacts U.S. dairy producers. Trump and Trudeau also discussed 'issues of global concern.' The White House did not disclose the meeting ahead of time, and officials offered no comment after it was announced by the Canadians. ___ 12:15 p.m. President Donald Trump says NATO will be stronger because member countries have increased payments 'considerably.' Trump tweeted Saturday, 'Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger.' NATO countries do not pay the U.S. or NATO directly. They spend domestically on weapons or other defense-related needs. The president supports ongoing efforts to push member countries to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. Only five members currently meet the target, but the other nations are committed to the goal by 2024. Trump is meeting with leaders from the G-7 nations in Sicily. He also tweeted, 'Big G7 meetings today. Lots of very important matters under discussion. First on the list, of course, is terrorism.' ___ 11:30 a.m. Leaders of seven wealthy democracies have reached a deal to give the Trump administration more time to tell them whether the United States plans to stay in the Paris climate agreement. A person familiar with the negotiations at the Group of Seven summit said that six members of the G-7 would stick with their endorsement of the Paris deal, and await a decision from the U.S. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter before the formal announcement. The G-7 members were still wrestling over a statement on trade and whether it would condemn protectionism, as previous group statements have. President Donald Trump has pushed back against earlier group statements opposing protectionism and has argued trade must be balanced and fair as well as free. -By David McHugh ___ 9:47 a.m. President Donald Trump is kicking off the final day of his first trip abroad with a meeting with Group of Seven and African nation leaders. Trump is seated between Beji Caid Essebsi, president of Tunisia, and Mahamadou Issoufou, the president of Niger, for his first meeting of the day. He was also spotted chatting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before the session began. It's the final day of the president's nine-day trip. He'll be returning to Washington, D.C. late Saturday. ___ 9:10 a.m. President Donald Trump is in Taormina, Sicily for a second day of meetings with Group of Seven wealthy nation leaders. Leaders from the G-7 countries were expected to gather at the San Domenico Palace Hotel on Saturday morning. Trump is set to engage in discussions about the global economy and climate. He will also participate in a meeting with African nations, including Niger and Tunisia. This is the final day of Trump's first official trip abroad. After the G-7 summit of economically advanced countries, the president will address American troops on an Italian base before departing for home. The G-7 includes the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. ___ 7:15 a.m. President Donald Trump will return to Washington having rattled some allies and reassured others, but his White House still sits under a cloud of scandal. Trump will spend Saturday at the second day of the G-7 summit in Sicily, bringing to an end a nine-day trip that started in Saudi Arabia and Israel before moving on to Europe. The trip has gone off without a major misstep, with the administration touting the president's efforts to create a new coalition to fight terrorism while admonishing partners in an old alliance to pay their fair share. In Washington, though, a newly appointed special counsel is just beginning his investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
  • President Donald Trump's plan to help balance the federal budget features a new attempt to open the coastal plain of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to petroleum drilling. The effort is the latest chapter in a long-running political fight between two camps: environmentalists, who revere the plain as a maternity ward for polar bears, caribou and migratory birds; and politicians, including those in Alaska's congressional delegation, who have campaigned for four decades on the promise of jobs and prosperity through 'opening ANWR.' The refuge covers 2,300 square miles (5,957 square kilometers), an area the size of West Virginia and Connecticut combined in Alaska's northeast corner. Some things to know about the debate: WHAT'S THE HISTORY OF THE REFUGE? Alaska Natives have used it as subsistence hunting grounds for thousands of years. President Dwight Eisenhower in 1960 signed legislation creating the refuge. Congress in 1980 expanded it and declared much of it wilderness, but threw in a wild card: Recognizing the oil production potential, Congress declared that the coastal plain, tundra stretching from the Beaufort Sea to the foothills of the Brooks Range, should be studied. Another act of Congress and presidential approval can open it to drilling. HOW MUCH OIL? The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the coastal plain holds 10.4 billion barrels of oil — compared with 25 billion at the older Prudhoe Bay oil field to the west. Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska calls the refuge's coast plain North America's greatest prospect for conventional oil production. The plain is 60 miles (97 kilometers) east of the trans-Alaska pipeline, which operates at one-quarter capacity as North Slope oil fields such as Prudhoe Bay have declined. Alaska is draining billion-dollar savings accounts to pay for schools and roads and is anxious to find more revenue. Gov. Bill Walker says it's frustrating to be denied access to billions of barrels of oil in an area specifically set aside to be evaluated for resource development within miles of a pipeline that's three-quarters empty. North Slope crude was selling for nearly $54 a barrel Tuesday. Alaska could benefit from jobs, additional taxes and federal revenue sharing if the refuge opens. WHAT STANDS IN THE WAY OF DRILLING? The refuge is about as wild a place as there is. There are no roads, no campgrounds, not even established trails. And the environmental community and some Alaska Native groups want to keep it that way. Besides polar bears, the coastal plain is home to muskoxen, the nests of 200 species of migratory birds, and for part of the year, the vast Porcupine Caribou Herd — 197,000 animals that roam between the refuge and Canada's Yukon and Northwest Territories. Environmentalists say America should pivot toward renewable energy, not add to climate warming by burning oil extracted from wilderness and generating greenhouse gases. 'The fact it's happening to what's supposed to be a refuge for wildlife only adds insult to injury,' said Kristen Monsell, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. HAS CONGRESS VOTED ON OPENING THE REFUGE BEFORE? Between the House and Senate, Congress has voted 49 times on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, according to the Alaska Wilderness League. Both chambers approved a bill to open the refuge in 1995, but President Bill Clinton vetoed it. Murkowski is optimistic that a Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Senate and House present a new opportunity to open the area for development. WHAT WOULD OPENING THE REFUGE DO FOR THE FEDERAL BUDGET? Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke acknowledged Tuesday that the ANWR item in the president's proposed budget is a placeholder. Lease sales are not likely before 2022, Zinke said, and winning bids could generate $3.5 billion over 10 years. If companies find oil, production would generate royalty payments and federal and state taxes. Zinke said America needs refuge oil in the trans-Alaska pipeline to reach Trump's goal of 'energy dominance' and to help balance the federal budget. WHAT'S NEXT? Murkowski has legislation pending that would open the refuge but limit oil company infrastructure, such as drilling pads and roads, to 3 square miles (8 square kilometers). Environmentalists say that figure is misleading, because oil operations would require multiple drilling pads connected by roads and pipelines. They say Murkowski's bill would create a spider web of industrial blight across the plain, and if it passes, they would sue to block it.
  • Melania Trump's first outing in the Sicilian sunshine was in a colorful floral applique jacket by Dolce & Gabbana that sells for $51,000, or several thousand dollars below the median U.S. income in 2015. She also carried a matching clutch to lunch with spouses of the G-7 leaders, held at the historic Elephants Palace and hosted by Catania's mayor. The burst of color in the U.S. first lady's wardrobe came after a steady dose of mostly black and white during President Donald Trump's inaugural overseas tour, including a prim black lace dress with a matching mantilla headcover that she wore to meet Pope Francis, and a dark jacket with golden detailing on the cuff and collar that she wore for her arrival in Italy. Both outfits were also by Milan designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. The fashion choices of America's first ladies are a longstanding source of public fascination, and Mrs. Trump is getting a taste of that on the trip, her first extended period in the public eye since her husband's inauguration. She has been living in the couple's penthouse at Trump Tower in New York instead of the White House, but plans to move to Washington once the couple's 11-year-old son finishes the school year. Michelle Obama, for example, received rave reviews for most of the gowns she wore to White House state dinners that she and her husband hosted. But she was also mocked for some fashion choices, including wearing shorts on Air Force One and sporting designer sneakers that cost more than $500 during a visit to a food bank. The first lady's attire can also be a big boost for designers. Gabbana has celebrated each of Mrs. Trump's appearance with Instagram posts. He shared three photos of the floral jacket, worn over a simple white shift dress, with Mrs. Trump looking model-perfect as she stepped out of an SUV. Gabbana tagged the photo with hearts and a 'Thank You' to @flotus #melaniatrump. Dolce & Gabbana have made Sicily their fashion muse, so it wasn't surprising that Trump's wife would wear their designs in Sicily, the final stop on Trump's trip. The White House did not respond to requests for comment on how much Mrs. Trump, a former model and the wife of an independently wealthy president, paid for the jacket. The U.S. government does not provide first ladies with a wardrobe allowance — though attire for official events of public or historic significance may be given as a gift by a designer and accepted on behalf of the U.S. government. Several fashion designers have said publicly that they will not dress the first lady because they oppose her husband's policies — a fact that Gabbana appeared to chide in earlier Instagram posts he tagged #boycottdolce&gabbanaplease with laughing emojis. Mrs. Trump, a former model, is known for her stylish appearance. Her fashion choices so far have been a contrast to her predecessor, who liked to mix designer items with more accessible brands like J. Crew. The retail price for the Dolce & Gabbana jacket Mrs. Trump wore comes in at about $5,500 below the median U.S. household income of $56,516 in 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available from the U.S. Census Bureau. Trump ran a populist campaign, promising to raise workers' wages and revive American manufacturing, but never shied away from showing off and talking about his personal wealth. As the Trumps traveled through Saudia Arabia, Israel, Italy, Brussels and then back to Italy, the president left it to top aides in Washington to explain the details of his federal budget proposal for 2018. Trump has proposed a $4.1 trillion spending plan that slashes safety net programs for the poor, including food stamps and Medicaid, while spending billions more on the military and protecting retirement programs for the elderly. _____ Associated Pres writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this story.
  • The Warthog is sitting pretty. Once on the brink of forced retirement, the A-10 attack plane with the ungainly shape and odd nickname has been given new life, spared by Air Force leaders who have reversed the Obama administration's view of the plane as an unaffordable extra in what had been a time of tight budgets. In the 2018 Pentagon budget plan sent to Congress this week, the Air Force proposed to keep all 283 A-10s flying for the foreseeable future. Three years ago, the Pentagon proposed scrapping the fleet for what it estimated would be $3.5 billion in savings over five years. Congress said no. The following year, the military tried again but said the retirement would not be final until 2019. Congress again said no. Last year, officials backed away a bit further, indicating retirement was still the best option but that it could be put off until 2022. Now the retirement push is over, and the Warthog's future appears secure. 'The world has changed,' said Maj. Gen. James F. Martin Jr., the Air Force budget deputy, in explaining decisions to keep aircraft once deemed expendable. The Air Force has similarly dropped plans to retire the iconic U-2 spy plane amid prospects for bigger budgets under President Donald Trump. It also reflects the relentless pace of operations for combat aircraft and surveillance and reconnaissance planes that feed intelligence data to war commanders. The service had complained for years that its inventory of aircraft was getting dangerously small and old. Gen. Mark Welsh, who retired as the top Air Force officer last year, was fond of describing the service as having 12 fleets of aircraft that qualify for antique license plates in the state of Virginia. The A-10 is a special case. Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona who flew the A-10 in combat and commanded a squadron in Afghanistan, speaks of it with obvious affection. 'The A-10 is this badass airplane with a big gun on it,' she said she told Trump in a recent conversation, explaining why the Warthog is unlike any other attack aircraft. The 'big gun' to which she refers is a seven-barrel Gatling gun that is nine feet long and fires 30mm armor-piercing shells at a rate of 3,900 rounds per minute. Also armed with Maverick missiles, the A-10 is effective not only in a conventional battle against tanks and other armored vehicles. It also provides close-air support for Iraqi and other U.S. partner forces taking on Islamic State fighters in the deserts of Iraq and Syria. A number of A-10s fly missions in Syria from Incirlik air base in Turkey. McSally is among members of Congress for whom elimination of the Warthog carried political risks back home. Sen. John McCain, a fellow Arizona Republican, joined her in strenuously arguing against the plane's early retirement. Arizona's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is home to an A-10 unit; retirement of the aircraft might have made Davis-Monthan more vulnerable to closure. A veteran of combat in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and beyond, the plane entered service in 1976. It is among Cold War-era icons like the venerable B-52 bomber that have exceeded expected lifespans and are likely to remain central to U.S. air campaigns for years to come. Specially designed for the Cold War mission of attacking armor on the front lines of a potential European war with the Soviet Union, the A-10's air crews considered it so ugly they called it the Warthog. Its official nickname is Thunderbolt II. The plane has been out of production since 1984 but has received many upgrades over the years, most recently with new electronics.

News

  • Great Britain lowered its security threat level from “critical” to “severe” on Saturday, Prime Minister Theresa May said. >> Read more trending news Earlier, police hunting a suspected network behind Salman Abedi, the bomber who killed 22 people on Monday night during a concert in Manchester, said they had made two further arrests overnight as they closed in on other possible cell members, Reuters reported.  As a result, soldiers who have been assisting police would be withdrawn from Britain's streets at midnight on Monday. 'A significant amount of police activity has taken place over the last 24 hours and there are now 11 suspects in custody,' May said. May cautioned, however, that the lesser threat is still a dangerous one. 'The public should be clear about what this means. A threat level of severe means an attack is highly likely,” she said. “The country should remain vigilant.' The threat assessment has returned to the level it was at prior to the Manchester attack. In Manchester, events planned around the spring bank holiday will go ahead with additional security, including a significant number of armed officers, police said. British officers do not usually carry guns, CNN reported. Events include the Manchester Games, the Great Manchester Run, and a stadium show by bands including The Courteeners, all of which are likely to attract big crowds. This weekend also marks the start of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim calendar, CNN reported.    
  • A Cobb County mother was jailed after her 5-year-old son said she beat him with a belt and a broom, hit him in the head and stomped on his stomach. Nakeisha Lashay Logan of Mableton faces first-degree child cruelty, battery and family violence charges in connection with an alleged May 17 attack. The boy, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile victim, said during a forensic interview that he tried to hide under the bed to avoid the “terrible” beating but Logan beat him with a broom and threw a box of toys at him, a magistrate court warrant states. RELATED: ‘I’m going to rape you’ man allegedly tells mother in front of kid Mom, friend jailed after child suffers broken bones, electrical burns Babysitter charged after 5-month-old breaks 4 bones After the box of toys hit the child in the shoulder, Logan grabbed his head and smashed it repeatedly on the floor, according to the warrant.  The warrant adds that Logan stomped on the child's stomach, making him feel nauseous.  The warrant doesn’t state who called police, but by the time an officer arrived the boy’s bleeding cheek had scabbed. His face was still red and swollen, Officer Sydney Tschappat wrote. Police took the boy to a nearby hospital and arrested Logan. She was being held in the Cobb County Adult Detention Center on a $50,000 bond. In other news:
  • Police say a metro Atlanta couple locked the woman's 86-year-old mother in her room and used furniture to block the door closed. Katie Son and her husband are both charged with cruelty to an elderly person. Officers say 86-year-old Bong Le managed to escape out a front window. She was found a couple of blocks away, wrapped in a blanket and sitting under a tree. Investigators say she smelled like urine and feces. Her daughter and son-in-law, who are now out on bond, told Channel 2's Tony Thomas that they were just trying to protect her from herself. 'Did you lock your mom up?' Thomas asked. 'No. No sir,' Son replied. Gwinnett police say they found tables, chairs and other items stacked high against the door of the downstairs bedroom in the home. 'It looked quite unusual,' Cpl. Michele Pihera said. But Son said it was all to keep her mother safe. She said when she and her husband went to work each day at a Hall County nail salon, her mother couldn't be trusted alone in the house. 'They told our officers that the reason they had stacked up the furniture was to prevent the mother from going into the kitchen to access the stove or access any kitchen utensils,' Pihera said. TRENDING STORIES: Police search for teens accused of setting off fireworks inside grocery store Watch your step! Snakebites on the rise World falling in love with Georgia father's letter to Ariana Grande Deputies still have questions. 'It's very possible they were trying to prevent her from getting into the food or any kind of items to eat,' Pihera said. She says the state of the room was disturbing. 'They found human feces and what looked like human urine that looked like it had been smeared into the carpet or never even cleaned up,' she said. She said that, combined with the furniture, led to the arrests. 'You combine the lack of access to food and water and the living conditions and that's what led our detectives to take out warrants for their arrests,' Pihera said. Neighbors didn't want to talk about what happened, but said they recognized Le as the woman who didn't really have a memory and would get lost easily. She's now in the hospital. Her daughter and son-in-law have been ordered not to go near her.
  • Toni Rosenberg has spent the past week chatting non-stop with her half-sister, Florence Serino, 82. After all, they have decades worth of memories to catch up on. The two met for the first time May 16 at a crowded airport gate in Fort Lauderdale. Rosenberg, a Boca Raton resident who was given away as a newborn in a secretive “black market” adoption, tracked down Serino just last year. “We both have big mouths,” Serino, who lives in Irvine, California, said with a laugh. The two have spent the past week shopping, eating and sharing memories, stories and photos of two families that, despite living on opposite sides of the country, are inextricably connected. Rosenberg even learned that she had biological cousins living just miles from her in Boca Raton, she said. Serino introduced them. “It’s crazy to think I had family right there,” said Rosenberg, the only child of her adoptive parents. >> Read more trending news The sisters have spent hours looking at old family photos, including ones of the pair’s biological mother Ilene Gallagher, which Serino brought with her from California. “If you saw my mother walking down the street, you’d say immediately, ‘She must be related to Toni,’ ” Rosenberg said of her resemblance to Gallagher. The union has brought immeasurable joy to Rosenberg and her family and friends, Rosenberg said. But a sadness still lingers. Serino plans to fly back to California on Tuesday. “All this time has gone by and we could’ve shared children and grandchildren,” Rosenberg said. “We could’ve had more years ahead of us.” The sisters aren’t sure if they’ll meet again in person. A 2,200-mile flight is a financial and health strain on most, let alone on two elderly retirees. “It’s kind of hard to think far ahead,” Rosenberg said, adding that they’re strategically packing half-a-century’s worth of conversations into a two-week visit. “How much time does God give us?”Read more about the sister's journeys to meet one another here.
  • The Hall County Sheriff's Office says they are investigating the discovery of a body floating in Lake Lanier just south of Don Carter State Park. Deputies say they body has likely been in the water for more than a day. The victim is that of a white man, possibly in his 30s. Authorities are working to ID the man. They said there is no obvious signs of trauma. We have a crew headed to the scene and will have the latest on this developing story on WSBTV.com and on Channel 2 Action News at 6:00.
  • Police say the drowning a 3-year-old in a swimming pool Saturday afternoon is likely a 'tragic accident.' Emergency responders were called out around 1 p.m. to a home along Waterford Drive in Cartersville where a child had been found unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing in the family's pool. Bartow County EMS says 3-year old child drowned at this home's private pool in Cartersville. pic.twitter.com/D4Amic1MzH-- Chris Jose (@ChrisJoseWSB) May 27, 2017 Family members were doing CPR on the little girl when emergency responders arrived at the home. They took over from there. TRENDING STORIES: Witness: Officer fatally shoots man breaking up fight at Sweet 16 party Georgia soldier killed in overseas crash Child killed, another injured in crash The child was taken to Cartersville Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. The Cartersville Police Department said the investigation is ongoing.