AP News in Brief at 12:03 a.m. EDT


White House: Trump says US will not withdraw from NAFTA

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday told the leaders of Mexico and Canada that he will not 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 Peña 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 said he believes “the end result will make all three countries stronger and better.”

The Mexican government confirmed the conversation in a statement issued late Wednesday.

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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.”

After weeks of unusually blunt military threats, the joint statement by the agency chiefs said Trump’s approach “aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners.” It made no specific mention of military options, though it said the U.S. would defend itself and friends.

The unprecedented meeting in a building adjacent to the White House reflected the increased American alarm over North Korea’s progress in developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the U.S. mainland. A flurry of military activity, by North Korea and the U.S. and its partners on and around the divided Korean Peninsula, has added to the world’s sense of alert.

While tensions have increased since Trump took office, they’ve escalated dramatically in recent weeks as American and other intelligence agencies suggested the North was readying for a possible nuclear test. Although such an explosion hasn’t yet occurred, Trump has sent high-powered U.S. military vessels and an aircraft carrier to the region in a show of force, while the North conducted large-scale, live-fire artillery drills, witnessed by national leader Kim Jong Un, earlier this week.

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10 Things to Know for Thursday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:

1. WHAT’S IN TRUMP TAX PLAN

President Donald Trump proposes dramatic tax cuts for U.S. businesses and individuals, outlining an overhaul his administration promises will spur economic growth while simplifying the tax code’s tangle of rules.

2. HOW US IS HANDLING NORTH KOREA

The Trump administration tells lawmakers it will apply economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, tamping down talk of military action.

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Trump tax cut: Huge, vague and likely mild boost for economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s team boasted Wednesday that its tax-cut plan would lighten Americans’ financial burdens, ignite economic growth and vastly simplify tax filing.

Yet the proposal so far remains short of vital details, including how it would be paid for. And based on the few specifics spelled out so far, most experts suggest that it would add little to growth while swelling the budget deficit and potentially handing large windfalls to wealthier taxpayers.

Trump’s plan would replace the current seven income tax brackets with three, and the top bracket would drop from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. It would also slash the corporate rate from 35 percent all the way to 15 percent, a boon to most companies even though many don’t pay the full tax now. With tax credits and other loopholes, most corporations pay closer to 20 percent, according to calculations by JPMorgan.

Perhaps the most contentious plank would enable taxpayers with business income — including those wealthy enough to pay the top tax rate — to instead pay the new 15 percent corporate rate. That’s because Trump would apply the corporate rate to “pass through” businesses. Pass-throughs include partnerships such as law firms and hedge funds as well as most small businesses — from the local florist to the family-owned restaurant on Main Street.

What’s more, some privately held large companies — including Trump’s own real estate empire — are structured as pass-throughs and would benefit, too.

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Jury sentences ambush killer to death in Pennsylvania

MILFORD, Pa. (AP) — A bell tolled the fate of a gunman after a jury on Wednesday condemned him to die for shooting two Pennsylvania troopers at their barracks in a late-night ambush, killing one and leaving a second with devastating injuries.

Eric Frein, 33, was sentenced by a jury to death by lethal injection a week after his conviction on charges including murder of a law enforcement officer and terrorism.

“Jurors have delivered full justice in this case and issued the penalty that is so richly deserved by Eric Frein,” said District Attorney Ray Tonkin.

Prosecutors said Frein was hoping to start an uprising against the government when he opened fire with a rifle on the Blooming Grove barracks in the Pocono Mountains in 2014. Cpl. Bryon Dickson II, a Marine veteran and married father of two, was killed in the late-night ambush, and Trooper Alex Douglass was critically wounded.

Frein showed no emotion as the decision was read, while someone on the police side of the gallery shouted “Yes!” Douglass, who has endured 18 surgeries and might lose his lower leg, couldn’t stop smiling.

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Americans offer hope, prayer in assessing Trump’s 100 days

They are young and old: a high school student who can’t yet vote, a Vietnam vet who did so proudly. They hail from all corners of the United States and very different walks of life: a “downhome boy” from Kentucky, a third-generation Mexican-American from Texas, a stay-at-home mom in Pennsylvania, an Iranian immigrant in Los Angeles.

Some oppose Donald Trump and all that he stands for, while others voted enthusiastically for him. Now, they are critiquing him.

One hundred days into Trump’s presidency, The Associated Press returned to some of the everyday people interviewed these past months to ask them to write a letter to the president, evaluating the job he’s done so far and looking ahead to the months to come.

One supporter tells the president he “might have fallen a little short” — on Obamacare, in particular — but he signs off “with hope.” A refugee implores Trump to “make America more friendly,” but finds optimism in the president’s reaction to this month’s chemical attack in Syria: “I hope this is a turning point.” A Trump objector calls his biggest accomplishment “waking up the public to fight.” She offers this advice: “Make decisions with your heart. It will give you wisdom.”

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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:

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WHAT DID THE FEDERAL JUDGE SAY ABOUT THE SANCTUARY CITIES ORDER?

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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.

The violence erupted after four white police officers were acquitted of assault and other charges in the beating of black motorist Rodney King, which was captured on video the year before. The footage showed officers repeatedly striking, kicking and using a stun gun on King, even after he was on the ground.

Although the uprising seemed to catch the nation and the Los Angeles Police Department by surprise, longtime residents say tensions had been building in South Los Angeles for years and the King verdict was just the tipping point.

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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.

“I’m not speaking. But I’m going to be near there, so I might swing by to say hello to my supporters who have flown in from all around the country,” Coulter said in an email. “I thought I might stroll around the graveyard of the First Amendment.”

Officials at UC Berkeley said last week they feared renewed violence on campus if Coulter followed through with plans to speak. They cited “very specific intelligence” of threats that could endanger Coulter and students, as Berkeley becomes a platform for extremist protesters on both sides of the political spectrum.

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Celtics beat Bulls 108-97, take 3-2 lead in series

BOSTON (AP) — Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley scored 24 points apiece to help the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 108-97 on Wednesday night and take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.

After the road team won each of the first four games, the Celtics won at home in Game 5 to earn a chance to eliminate the Bulls on Friday night in Chicago. A Bulls victory would force the series back to Boston for a decisive Game 7 on Sunday.

Dwyane Wade had 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for Chicago.

But Wade and Robin Lopez were called for technical fouls 32 seconds apart with just under five minutes left, helping the Celtics to a 20-5 run that turned an 84-84 game into a 15-point Boston lead.

The Bulls cut it to nine before Al Horford got loose for a dunk, Wade missed a 3-pointer and then Horford fed Jae Crowder for a layup that made it 108-95 with 99 seconds to play.