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Shutdown deadline nears; no accord in Trump-Schumer meeting

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer met Friday afternoon in an eleventh-hour effort to avert a government shutdown, with a bitterly divided Washington locked in stare-down over federal spending and legislation to protect some 700,000 younger immigrants from deportation.

The two New Yorkers, who pride themselves on their deal-making abilities, emerged from the meeting at the White House without an agreement, and Republicans and Democrats in Congress continued to trade blame as the midnight deadline approached.

“We made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements,” Schumer told reporters upon returning to Capitol Hill.

As news of the Schumer meeting spread, the White House sought to reassure Republican congressional leaders that Trump would not make any major policy concessions, said a person familiar with the conversations but not authorized to be quoted by name.

Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas said Trump told Schumer to work things out with McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. “The ball is in Sen. Schumer’s court,” Cornyn said.

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Las Vegas gunman carefully planned attack; motive is mystery

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Las Vegas gunman meticulously planned how to carry out the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, researching SWAT tactics, renting other hotel rooms overlooking outdoor concerts and investigating potential targets in at least four cities, authorities said Friday.

But almost four months after Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and wounded more than 800 others with a barrage of bullets from the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel, investigators still have not answered the key question: Why did he do it?

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo released a preliminary report on the Oct. 1 attack and said he did not expect criminal charges to be filed against Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who had been called a person of interest in the case.

Paddock, who killed himself before police reached him, told friends and relatives that he always felt ill, in pain and fatigued, authorities said.

His doctor thought he may have had bipolar disorder but told police that Paddock refused to discuss the possibility, the report said. The doctor offered him antidepressants, but Paddock accepted only a prescription for anxiety medication. He was fearful of medication and often refused to take it, the doctor told investigators.

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Supreme Court to rule on Trump travel ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide the legality of the latest version of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel to the United States by residents of six majority-Muslim countries.

The issue pits an administration that considers the restrictions necessary for Americans’ security against challengers who claim it is illegally aimed at Muslims and stems from Trump’s campaign call for a “complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the U.S.

The justices plan to hear argument in April and issue a final ruling by late June on a Trump policy that has been repeatedly blocked and struck down in the lower courts.

The latest of those rulings came last month when the federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the travel ban Trump announced in September violates federal immigration law.

The federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, also is considering a challenge to the ban.

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Crunch time: What Amazon wants for its new HQ

WASHINGTON (AP) — Just 20 cities are left standing in the competition for Amazon’s second headquarters and the 50,000 jobs it will bring.

Now comes the hard part for the finalists — and for Amazon. Based on the cities that made the cut, and what the company told some of the cities that didn’t, the company will likely scrutinize six key criteria when making its final call. It plans to announce its decision later this year.

The 20 cities include Austin, Texas; Atlanta; Boston; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; and Nashville, Tennessee.

Here’s what’s important:

— TALENT, TALENT, TALENT

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Mom, wife who had 2nd online life found slain

CALERA, Ala. (AP) — Kathleen Dawn West described herself as a full-time wife and mom on Facebook but lived another life on other social media platforms, calling herself an exhibitionist and posting risque photos with a chance for subscribers to see sexier images for $15.99 a month.

West, 42, was found dead outside her home near Birmingham, and authorities are now faced with a question: Did West’s online activities play a role in her death?

Police have classified West’s death as a homicide, but they haven’t said how she died. What appears to be the remainder of a blood stain darkens the asphalt across the street from the two-story brick home she shared with her husband and middle school-age daughter.

No charges had been filed by Friday, six days after she died. But the mysterious nature of West’s death — she was found dead early Saturday in the quiet bedroom community of Calera, a town of 14,000 people about 35 miles south of Birmingham — has people buzzing.

At least two Facebook groups with more than 2,200 members total have been created to discuss the case, and neighbors are concerned in West’s subdivision, where homes are still under construction.

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Mattis says US competitive warfighting edge has eroded

WASHINGTON (AP) — Countering China’s rapidly expanding military and an increasingly aggressive Russia are now the U.S. military’s top national security priorities, outpacing the threat of terrorism, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday. He said competition with those adversaries has threatened America’s military advantage around the world.

Laying out a broad new strategy for the Defense Department, Mattis warned that all aspects of the military’s competitive warfighting edge have eroded.

He said building a force that can deter war with established and emerging military powers in Moscow and Beijing, and U.S. enemies such as North Korea and Iran will require increased investment to make the military more lethal, agile and ready to fight.

“We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we are engaged in today, but great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in remarks at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

He said the Islamic State group’s “physical caliphate” in Iraq and Syria had been defeated, but that IS, al-Qaida and other extremists still pose threats across the globe.

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Olympic gymnast abused by ex-doctor wants him to suffer

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman on Friday confronted her former doctor who has pleaded guilty to multiple sexual assaults, warning him that the testimony of the “powerful army” of 140 survivors at his sentencing will haunt him in prison.

Roughly 80 of the women and girls whom Larry Nassar abused under the guise of medical treatment have stood before the court during a marathon sentencing hearing that began Tuesday, describing with eloquence and sometimes tears the harm Nassar did and the impact he has had on their lives.

“You have not taken gymnastics away from me,” Raisman said. “I love this sport, and that love is stronger than the evil that resides in you, in those who enabled you to hurt many people.”

Facing pressure over how Michigan State University handled allegations made against Nassar when he was employed there, the school’s board of trustees on Friday asked the state’s attorney general to investigate but stood by university president Lou Ann Simon — who is facing growing calls to resign or to be fired by the board.

“Through this terrible situation, the university has been perceived as tone deaf, unresponsive and insensitive to the victims. We understand the public’s faith has been shaken. The Board has listened and heard the victims,” chairman Brian Breslin said after a closed-door meeting that lasted more than four hours. Trustees declined to answer reporters’ questions.

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Tabloid held porn star’s 2011 interview after Trump threat

NEW YORK (AP) — A tabloid magazine held back from publishing an adult film star’s 2011 account of an alleged affair with Donald Trump after the future president’s personal lawyer threatened to sue, four former employees of the tabloid’s publisher told The Associated Press.

In Touch magazine published its 5,000-word interview with the pornographic actor Stormy Daniels on Friday — more than six years after Trump’s long-time attorney, Michael Cohen, sent an email to In Touch’s general counsel saying Trump would aggressively pursue legal action if the story was printed, according to emails described to the AP by the former employees.

At the time, Trump was a reality TV star on the NBC show “The Apprentice.”

The ex-employees spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss their former employer’s editorial policies.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, signed a source contract with the magazine, which said a friend and Clifford’s ex-husband corroborated her account of a 2006 tryst. She also passed a lie detector test, the magazine said.

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‘Watching my family burn’: Woman frantic after copter crash

RATON, N.M. (AP) — Andra Cobb was frantic when she called for help, telling an emergency operator that a helicopter she was riding in with her father, longtime partner and others had crashed in a remote part of New Mexico and that she was watching her “family burn.”

Police released 911 recordings Friday from the crash near the Colorado-New Mexico line that killed five people, including Zimbabwean opposition leader Roy Bennett, and his wife, Heather. Cobb, 39, was the sole survivor, escaping with broken bones before the helicopter burst into flames.

Her father, Paul Cobb, the co-pilot, and her longtime partner, Charles Burnett III, a Texas-based investor who owned the ranch where the group of friends was headed, also were killed in the crash Wednesday, along with pilot Jamie Coleman Dodd.

“I’m watching my family burn in a fire,” Andra Cobb screamed on the call. “I don’t know what to do. There’s a big fire. I’m covered in gasoline.”

Dodd also was able to call 911 before he died, telling authorities immediately after the crash that there were three victims and three survivors — him, Andra Cobb and Roy Bennett, who was suffering from a head wound as authorities tried to determine their location.

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Congestion pricing: Driving in Manhattan could cost $11.52

NEW YORK (AP) — A proposal to charge motorists nearly $12 to drive into the busiest parts of Manhattan provoked protests and complaints even before it was released Friday, though there are signs the idea of congestion pricing is quietly gaining momentum in the nation’s largest city.

London, Stockholm and Singapore already have congestion surcharges. But calls to impose similar tolls in New York as a way to address gridlock while raising funds for public transportation have been rejected in the past over concerns about the cost to middle-class and poor commuters.

On Friday even some past critics of congestion pricing said the ideas hold promise for addressing gridlock while raising funds for the city’s beleaguered subway system.

“Though I have been a critic of congestion pricing in the past and still remain skeptical, the plan released today … offers a wide variety of innovative suggestions,” Democratic Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said.

The recommendation announced Friday was crafted by a task force set up by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to examine congestion pricing. Under the proposal, motorists would shell out $11.52 to drive into the busiest parts of Manhattan, trucks would pay $25.34 and Uber rides and for-hire vehicles could be charged between $2 and $5 per ride. The pricing zone would cover Manhattan south of 60th Street.