AP Top News at 5:39 p.m. EDT

Trump tells NRA: 'You have a true friend' in White House
ATLANTA (AP) - President Donald Trump reaffirmed his support for gun rights Friday, telling attendees of a National Rifle Association convention that "the eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end." Trump, the first sitting president to address the group's annual convention in more than 30 years, assured the audience that he would defend their right to bear arms in a campaign-like speech reminiscent of his election rallies. "You have a true friend and champion in the White House," he said. The president's trip to Atlanta also served as his first foray into a congressional race since taking office.


Trump's tweets aren't rocketing quite like they used to
WASHINGTON (AP) - His "FAKE NEWS" tweets don't rocket like they once did. His exclamation points (!) don't excite quite the same old way. Donald Trump's 140-character volleys helped define the first 100 days of his presidency. But the traction on his medium of choice has slipped a bit as his tone and button-pushing tendencies have cooled. The number of people engaging with Trump on Twitter - through likes, retweets, quotes and replies - has gradually declined, according to an Associated Press analysis of his feed and the users who read, react and propel his words throughout the Twittersphere. The analysis, conducted in partnership with the media analytics nonprofit Cortico, found other clear trends: Men are more likely than women to retweet Trump.


Seoul: North Korea test-fires missile from western region
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says North Korea has test-fired a missile from the western part of its country. There were no other immediate details Saturday morning, including what type of missile was used. North Korea routinely test-fires a variety of ballistic missiles, despite United Nations prohibitions, as part of its push to develop a long-range ballistic missile capable of hitting U.S. shores. While shorter-range missiles are somewhat routine, there is strong outside worry about each longer range North Korean ballistic test. Saturday's launch comes at a point of particularly high tension. U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a hard line with Pyongyang and sent a U.S.


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Experts: Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order
President Donald Trump's executive order seeking to find new ocean expanses in the Atlantic and the Arctic for offshore drilling is unlikely to reach its goals anytime soon, but instead will kick off a yearslong review and a legal battle. The day before his 100th in office, Trump took his step Friday toward dismantling a key part of Barack Obama's environmental legacy. "This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration," Trump said at a White House ceremony. "It reverses the previous administration's Arctic leasing ban and directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to allow responsible development of off-shore areas that will bring revenue to our treasury and jobs to our workers." Despite Trump's assertion that the nation needs to wean itself of foreign oil, U.S.


In Egypt, pope brings a message of peace amid crackdown
CAIRO (AP) - Pope Francis demanded that Egypt's Muslim leaders teach a rejection of violence in God's name during a delicate visit Friday to the Arab world's most populous country, and he strongly backed its uncompromising crackdown on political Islam and militancy. Brushing off security concerns after a series of attacks by Islamic militants on Egypt's Coptic Christians, Francis rode through Cairo in a simple blue Fiat with his window rolled down - not the armored "popemobiles" of his predecessors. And at every stop on his first day, he issued variations on the same hard-hitting theme: "No civilized society can be built without repudiating every ideology of evil, violence and extremism that presumes to suppress others and to annihilate diversity by manipulating and profaning the sacred name of God." Francis strongly backed the government's response to the growing insurgency led by a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group, saying Egypt had a unique role in forging peace in the region and in "vanquishing all violence and terrorism." His main event was a landmark visit to Cairo's Al-Azhar, the revered, 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Islam learning that trains clerics and scholars from around the world.


Congress settles for stopgap to avoid government shutdown
WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress took the easy way out to keep the government open on the eve of Donald Trump's 100th day in office, passing a weeklong stop-gap spending bill Friday that amounted to more of a defeat for the president than a victory. Lawmakers cleared the measure easily with just hours to spare before the shutdown deadline at midnight. But with Trump marking his presidency's milestone Saturday, he did not wring any major legislation out of Congress, despite a renewed White House push to revive the House GOP's health care bill in time for a vote that could give him bragging rights.


Focus turns to senator with doctor guilty of Medicare fraud
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A prominent Florida eye doctor accused of political corruption was convicted of Medicare fraud Friday, increasing the odds that federal prosecutors could pressure him to testify against New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. Dr. Salomon Melgen faces 15 to 20 years in prison on 67 counts, including health care fraud, submitting false claims and falsifying records in patients' files, unless he offers or accepts a deal before his sentencing, scheduled for July 14. The senator denies any wrongdoing. The doctor, 62, collected more money from Medicare than any other physician in the nation - $21 million - at the height of the fraud in 2012.


Manafort-linked lobbying firm registers as foreign agent
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Washington lobbying firm that worked under the direction of two former campaign aides to President Donald Trump has registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent. The registration Friday by Mercury LLC comes as the Justice Department waits for Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, to file as a foreign agent and disclose his role in influencing U.S. policy and public opinion on behalf of the pro-Russian Ukrainian Party of Regions and its leader, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. A spokesman for Manafort said Friday that he was wrong when he told the AP this month that Manafort would register with the Justice Department.


MS-13 street gang grips Long Island suburbs in violence
BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (AP) - Late at night, when helicopters thrum overhead and spotlights beam down onto lawns, many people here know exactly what's going on. "You just think, 'Oh, God, whose child is it now?'" said Stephanie Spezia, a longtime resident of this suburb in the heart of Long Island that's caught in the grip of a violent street gang with Central American ties, MS-13. MS-13 has been blamed for a trail of 11 corpses of mostly young people discovered in woods and vacant lots in Brentwood and neighboring Central Islip since the start of the school year. The bloodshed in the blue-collar towns has gotten the attention of President Donald Trump, who says it's the result of lax immigration policies that let too many criminal "scum" slip through.


Writhing and gasping: AP reporters view problem executions
The sedative midazolam is supposed to prevent condemned prisoners from suffering while they die, but opponents say several problematic executions involving the drug are evidence that it does not work consistently. They raised new concerns after an execution Thursday in Arkansas left the prisoner convulsing and pressing against his restraints. The drug, normally a surgical sedative, was first used by Florida in 2013 as part of that state's lethal injection protocol after drugmakers began clamping down on the use of other drugs such as sodium thiopental or pentobarbital. Midazolam has also been used in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma.