AP Top News at 4:01 p.m. EDT

Soothing the nation? Trump struggles like no other president
WASHINGTON (AP) - For Susan Bro, mother of the woman killed at a rally organized by white supremacists, the president of the United States can offer no healing words. She says the White House repeatedly tried to reach out to her on Wednesday, the day of Heather Heyer's funeral. But she's since watched President Donald Trump lay blame for the Charlottesville violence on "both sides." "You can't wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying 'I'm sorry,'" she said in a television interview on Friday. In moments like this, of national crisis or tragedy, presidents typically shed their political skin, at least briefly.


Strategist Steve Bannon leaves Trump's turbulent White House
WASHINGTON (AP) - Steve Bannon, a forceful but divisive presence in President Donald Trump's White House, is leaving. Trump accepted Bannon's resignation on Friday, ending a turbulent seven months for his chief strategist, the latest to depart from the president's administration in turmoil. White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday would be Bannon's last day on the job. "We are grateful for his service and wish him the best," she said in a statement confirming reports of Bannon's departure. A combative and unorthodox Republican, Bannon was a key adviser in Trump's general election campaign, but he has been a contentious presence in a White House divided by warring staff loyalties.


Police: Attacks in Spain are linked, took long time to plan
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - The back-to-back vehicle attacks in Barcelona and a nearby resort had been planned for a long time by an Islamic terrorist cell - and could have been far deadlier had its base not been destroyed by an apparently accidental explosion this week, Spanish officials said Friday. Police intensified their manhunt for an unknown number of suspects still on the loose Friday. They shot and killed five people early Friday who were wearing fake bomb belts as they attacked the seaside resort of Cambrils with a speeding car. Police also arrested four others believed linked to the Cambrils attack and the carnage Thursday on a famous Barcelona promenade.


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Barcelona's victims: A snapshot of the world
PARIS (AP) - The dead and injured in Barcelona were a snapshot of the world - men, women and children from nearly three dozen nations - testifying to the huge global appeal of the sun-kissed city. Families, friends and government officials from Paris to Sydney, San Francisco to Berlin scrambled Friday to discover whether their loved ones and citizens were among those mowed down by suspected Islamic extremists who zig-zagged down Barcelona's always crowded Las Ramblas promenade in a van, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100 others. A related attack early Friday morning in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, south of Barcelona, took the death toll to 14.


Trump aides struggle for new strategy for Afghan war
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump and his top national security aides huddled in the seclusion of Camp David on Friday, trying to formulate an effective new Afghanistan strategy after 16 frustrating years of war. The administration has struggled for months to fashion a plan for turning around the stalemated war. But stepping up the fight in a way that advances peace prospects may be even more difficult. Trump was meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other top military and diplomatic aides at the presidential retreat in nearby Maryland. Mattis said earlier this week the administration was "very close" to finalizing a new approach.


Finnish police shoot man who stabs 8 people in Turku; 2 dead
HELSINKI (AP) - A man stabbed eight people Friday in Finland's western city of Turku, killing two of them, before police shot him in the thigh and detained him, police said. Authorities were looking for more potential suspects in the attack. A suspect - who police said was "a youngish man with a foreign background" - was being treated in the city's main hospital but was in police custody. Security was being stepped up across the Nordic country, Interior Minister Paula Risikko told reporters at a news conference. The man's identity and nationality were being investigated. Police said he is likely to have acted alone though it was not possible to completely rule out that other people were involved.


Trump won places drowning in despair. Can he save them?
ABERDEEN, Wash. (AP) - One-hundred-fifty baskets of pink petunias hang from the light posts all over this city, watered regularly by residents trying to make their community feel alive again. A local artist spends his afternoons high in a bucket truck, painting a block-long mural of a little girl blowing bubbles, each circle the scene of an imagined, hopeful future. But in the present, vacant buildings dominate blocks. A van, stuffed so full of blankets and boxes they are spilling from the windows, pulls to the curb outside Stacie Blodgett's antiques shop. "Look inside of it," she says. "I bet you he's living in it." Around the corner, a crowded tent city of the desperate and addicted has taken over the riverbank, makeshift memorials to too many dead too young jutting up intermittently from the mud.


Dems risk culture war fight in Charlottesville response
ATLANTA (AP) - President Donald Trump's widely criticized response to white supremacist violence in Virginia has left Democrats in a quandary: how to seize the moral high ground without getting sucked into a politically perilous culture war. Democrats have denounced Trump for blaming "both sides" for deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and, more recently, for defending Confederate monuments. But the party faces a complex task: While addressing race and history in ways that reflect the party's values, Democrats risk getting sidetracked from issues like jobs and the economy that resonate with voters ahead of the 2018 midterm election. The party has been looking to answer Trump's populism by crafting its own middle-class brand, yet Democratic leaders across multiple states now are pushing to take down Old South monuments like the one that ostensibly sparked the events in Charlottesville, and a trio of rank-and-file House Democrats wants to pursue a congressional censure of the president.


The real revolution in NKorea is rise of consumer culture
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - Like all North Korean adults, Song Un Pyol wears the faces of leader Kim Jong Un's father and grandfather pinned neatly to her left lapel, above her heart. But on her right glitters a diamond-and-gold brooch. Song is what a success story in Kim Jong Un's North Korea is supposed to look like. Just after Kim assumed power in late 2011, she started managing the supermarket floor at a state-run department store, which has freezers stocked full of pork and beef and rows of dairy, bakery and canned goods. She watches as customers fill their shopping carts, take their groceries directly to be scanned at the checkout counter and pay with cash or bank debit cards.


Taylor Swift left 'a blank space, baby' on social media
NEW YORK (AP) - Taylor Swift had a "blank space, baby" across social media Friday - and Swifties went wild. There was no immediate word from the Swift camp on what happened, but the "Blank Space" pop star is known for promotional trickery on her social streams ahead of major music drops. In addition to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, her website went dark and the hashtag "TS6IsComing" - as in her sixth studio album - trended worldwide. Her profile pictures were also removed. All of this comes days after federal jurors in Denver found a former radio host, David Mueller, assaulted and battered Swift during a meet-and-greet in 2013.