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    The Supreme Court will take up the Trump administration’s bid to end a lawsuit filed by Muslim men who say they were placed on the government’s no-fly list because they refused to serve as FBI informants. The three foreign-born men claim in the lawsuit that their religious convictions led them to rebuff FBI agents who wanted them to inform on people in their Muslim communities. The men claim the agents then placed or kept them on the list of people prevented from flying because they are considered a threat. The issue before the court is whether they can seek money damages from the agents under a 1993 federal religious freedom law. The men have since been removed from the no-fly list. Arguments probably will take place in March.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar (KLOH'-buh-shar) is making her first campaign hires in early voting Nevada, scooping up staffers who worked for Beto (BET'-oh) O’Rourke’s campaign. Klobuchar’s campaign announced Friday the Minnesota senator had hired Marina Negroponte to serve as state director and Cameron Miller to serve as Nevada political director. Both held similar roles in the state for O’Rourke’s campaign, which ended this month. Negroponte helped organize the Hispanic community for the civil rights nonprofit We Are All Human Foundation and spent a decade working in international development for the United Nations. Miller has worked on several state legislative campaigns in Nevada. The state is third in line to vote next year on the Democratic presidential field. Klobuchar has been working to build momentum after strong performances in the last two debates.
  • A defiant French President Emmanuel Macron has told laid-off employees at a troubled French appliance factory that his government should not be held responsible for job losses after a takeover there failed. On a two-day visit to his hometown of Amiens, the French leader sought to show that he’s paying more attention to struggling workers, one year after the yellow vest movement erupted against his government policies, which were seen as favoring the rich. In a blunt moment seized upon by French media, Macron said Friday that the failure of the takeover at the Whirlpool plant in Amiens — a blue-collar battleground with his 2017 far-right election rival Marine Le Pen — was “not the state’s fault.” At the time, Macron told workers to trust the company that took over the factory but it later went bust. A second takeover then left more than 100 workers unemployed. Macron acknowledged a “failure” but stressed that the government is not responsible for firing workers. “I believed in it (the project) too,” he said, vowing to keep looking for solutions to help the plant’s former employees. Leftist lawmaker Francois Ruffin, elected in the Amiens’ region, told reporters that he feels “a huge gap between peoples’ ordinary lives and the president’s comments.” Ruffin said people have concerns because “they are told they are too old, they can’t find a job, they are constantly looked upon with contempt. And the president is telling them from afar ‘We’re going to take care of this, don’t worry.’” France's unemployment rate has decreased this year to its lowest level in a decade, but at 8.6% it still remains among the highest in the European Union. Later Friday, Macron spent long moments with the crowd in a popular neighborhood of Amiens, shaking hands and taking selfies with people. In Amiens, he also visited the university and a facility allowing people to get easier access to public services like the health care system and unemployment benefits. Macron has been trying to stymie the far-right’s appeal to blue-collar workers ahead of France’s municipal elections in 2020 and the country’s presidential vote in 2022.
  • U.S. communications regulators have cut off government funding for equipment from two Chinese companies, citing security threats. The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously Friday to bar U.S. telecommunications providers from using government subsidies to pay for equipment from Huawei and ZTE. The agency will also consider whether to require companies that get government subsidies to rip out any Huawei and ZTE equipment they already have in place. The move mostly affects small, rural companies, as larger U.S. wireless companies do not use equipment from those Chinese companies. Huawei says the rule is unlawful, as there is no evidence it poses a security risk. ZTE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
  • President Xi Jinping said Friday that Beijing wants to work for a trade deal with the United States but is not afraid to “fight back” to protect its own interests. Echoing the upbeat tone adopted by other Chinese officials in recent days, Xi told a visiting U.S. business delegation that China holds a “positive attitude” about the trade talks. “As we always said we don’t want to start the trade war, but we are not afraid,” Xi said. “When necessary, we will fight back but we have been working actively to try not to have a trade war.” Later Friday, President Donald Trump reiterated his oft-stated assertion that the world’s two biggest economies are “potentially very close’’ to forging a modest “Phase 1” agreement. Such an agreement would be expected to include increased U.S. farm sales to China but to leave bigger points of conflict largely unresolved. These include long-standing allegations that China steals trade secrets and pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. “We have a deal potentially very close,’’ Trump said in a phone interview with “Fox & Friends.” Yet the president also insisted that Xi “wants to make it much more than I want to make it. I’m not anxious to make it.’’ The U.S. delegation from Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum, a conference held in Beijing this week, included former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, former U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman and other dignitaries. The latest flareup in trade tensions came after Trump imposed punitive tariffs last year on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese exports to the U.S., seeking to ramp up pressure for changes in Chinese trade and investment policies. China has retaliated with tariff hikes of its own. Sanctions have gradually escalated and trade talks have made only halting progress. But the two sides are working toward what they say will be a preliminary agreement to pave the way for tackling more complex issues. During the meeting at Beijing’s ornate Great Hall of the People, Xi reiterated to the group China’s stance that a deal requires “mutual respect and equality.” “We want to work for a Phase 1 agreement on the basis of mutual respect and equality,' Xi told the group. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that China’s lead negotiator in the talks, Vice Premier Liu He, has invited his U.S. counterparts to Beijing for more talks, suggesting there may be some progress. However, the prospects even for a more general deal look uncertain, given that China has said it wants a promise from the U.S. side to gradually reduce the tariffs already in place. It’s unclear if the U.S. side would be willing to do that. Pressure is building as financial markets grow increasingly jittery over prospects for a breakthrough. Trump agreed to hold off on raising tariffs further last month while the two sides talked. But the Washington is still due to hike tariffs on $160 billion worth of imports from China next month. That increase would boost prices on smartphones, laptops and many common household goods. Ultimately, the U.S. side wants China to scrap a blueprint for state-led development of industrial leadership in advanced technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence. Foreign companies also object to policies and practices they say force them to hand over technology in return for access to the vast Chinese domestic market. In the meeting Friday, Xi emphasized that Beijing will not yield its own “financial sovereignty,” hinting at limits to China’s flexibility on issues the ruling party considers vital for the country’s future. He drew from historical references, perhaps mindful of the important role Kissinger played along with the late Premier Zhou Enlai in brokering the rapprochement between Washington and Beijing in the early 1970s after decades of Cold War alienation. China is finding its way “just like feeling the stones while crossing a river,” Xi said, in an expression famously used by Deng Xiaoping, the revolutionary leader who led the “reform and opening up” era beginning in the late 1970s. “We are working to realize the Chinese dream of renewal of our nation,” Xi said. ___ AP Economics Writer Paul Wiseman in Washington contributed to this report.
  • A Milan hospital is exhibiting X-rays of women attacked by men to highlight what one doctor calls the “daily horror” of violence against women. The San Carlo Hospital mounted the exhibit in its atrium to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which takes place on Monday. Patients’ anonymity was respected in putting the five X-rays on display, including one showing the blade of a knife in a woman’s abdomen. Other X-rays show broken limbs. In augurating the show on Thursday, Dr. Maria Grazia Vantadori, a hospital surgeon and liaison for women suffering violence from husbands, boyfriends, family members or acquaintances, noted that some patients don’t immediately consider themselves domestic violence victims. But Vantadori said “the injuries speak for themselves and recount the spiral of daily horror.”
  • The U.S. government is barring federal dollars meant for opioid addiction treatment to be used on medical marijuana. The move is aimed at states that allow marijuana for medical uses, particularly those letting patients with opioid addiction use pot as a treatment, said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, whose federal agency doles out money to states for treatment programs. “There’s zero evidence for that,” McCance-Katz said. “We felt that it was time to make it clear we did not want individuals receiving funds for treatment services to be exposed to marijuana and somehow given the impression that it’s a treatment.” It’s the latest example of the legal standoff between federal and state governments on marijuana. While cannabis is considered an illegal drug by federal officials, 33 states allow patients, with a doctor’s approval, to use it for medical purposes. About a dozen allow recreational use, too. The new restriction applies to the federal government’s two main grant programs for opioid treatment and an older grant program that supports state efforts to treat alcoholism and drug addiction. The rule affects billions of dollars from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Last week, federal officials held a phone call with state officials to spell out the restriction: Grant money can't be used to directly or indirectly buy marijuana or permit treatment with pot. The rule also applies to using marijuana to treat mental health disorders. It does not apply to grants from other federal agencies for research on medical marijuana. Addiction treatment programs must document their efforts to urge patients to stop if they are currently using marijuana for mental health disorders or addiction, or the programs risk losing federal money, McCance-Katz said. Each state decides which ailments are on their medical marijuana lists. Many allow patients, with a doctor’s approval, to use it for chronic pain and symptoms of multiple sclerosis, where there is good scientific evidence. Other states have approved health conditions with less scientific backing, like post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety, swayed by firsthand experience from residents. The evidence that marijuana helps some patients use fewer opioids comes from anecdotal reports or surveys of drug users, which is not the type of research that can prove cause and effect. Earlier this year, a study shot down the notion that medical marijuana laws can prevent opioid overdose deaths, challenging a favorite talking point of legal pot advocates. Yet, the ongoing overdose crisis has caused New York, New Jersey and other states to turn to marijuana on the premise that pot “is far less risky than injecting heroin or fentanyl, so why not try it?” said Leo Beletsky, a public health policy expert at Northeastern University in Boston. In 2018, Pennsylvania became the first state to add opioid use disorder to its medical marijuana list. Gov. Tom Wolf, in an announcement of the decision, also designated eight universities to conduct research on marijuana’s use for that and other medical conditions. It is too early to tell if the new federal rule will affect care, said Rachel Kostelac, spokeswoman for Pennsylvania’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.  “But we will continue to monitor to ensure individuals are receiving appropriate treatment to combat the opioid epidemic.” New Mexico, which added opioid use disorder in June, determined that no federal money was going toward marijuana-related treatment, said David Morgan, spokesman for the state’s Department of Health. ___ Follow AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson on Twitter: @CarlaKJohnson ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Organizers are already considering changes to the new Davis Cup. The first edition of the Davis Cup Finals is not yet over but the CEO of the group behind the revamped team competition said things need to improve. Kosmos Tennis CEO Javier Alonso told The Associated Press on Friday that although the tournament has been an overall success, organizers need to work on ways to increase attendance and improve the scheduling of matches, among other things. “Again, it’s the first edition,” Alonso said. “We make a plan, and now that we have the reality, we can go back home on Monday and start thinking on what has not worked well and how we can improve those things that have not worked well.” He said the most pressing concerns are related to the schedule of matches and low attendance, especially in the morning sessions. Only matches involving host Spain have had full crowds, although the fan atmosphere at most matches has been good thanks to the traveling groups of supporters from some of the participating nations. “We knew that mornings were difficult. Not only here, everywhere. But it’s a learning again,” Alonso said. “Now, with the experience, we will do it different next year.” Alonso said they will work with the presidents of the local tennis federations to try to bring more fans to the matches, many of which started with half-empty courts. The first two quarterfinals — Canada vs. Australia and Serbia vs. Russia — did not attract full crowds to center court. Groups of school kids were invited to the morning session on Friday, though organizers said it was not a measure aimed at improving attendance. Alonso said it was a mistake to stage the opening ceremony before the first matches on Monday, when Spain wasn’t playing and the crowds were small at the Caja Mágica tennis complex. Center court was mostly empty for a ceremony that featured a high-tech audiovisual show and performances by artists Alan Walker and Farruko. “If we had put the inauguration show during Open Day on Sunday, after the training of Spain, it would have been packed. We had 8,000 people here,” Alonso said. “The show was amazing.” Promoting concerts by popular artists is one of the actions by Kosmos to make the new competition more attractive to fans. Colombian singer Shakira will perform at the closing ceremony on Sunday. Alonso said they also need to fix the scheduling of matches to avoid the late-night finishes that have prompted complaints from fans and players. The group-stage series between Italy and the United States ended past 4 a.m. early Thursday, the second latest finish in tennis history. Organizers reacted quickly by moving start times forward by half an hour and reducing the interval times between matches, but Alonso said more will have to be done. “We need to improve the way it works so we don’t have (ties) of eight hours, which we like because at the end of the day it’s exciting, but it’s not possible that we finish at 4 a.m.,” Alonso said. “We have to try to minimize these types of things happening. We have to sit down and see what we can do.” Another issue that attracted negative attention this week was the format flaw that allowed Canada to forfeit its doubles match against the United States on Tuesday, handing the Americans a 6-0, 6-0 victory that could have affected other teams trying to qualify for the quarterfinals. Canada decided to skip the match because it had already advanced and some of its players were injured. “That’s difficult, but we have to sit down and find a solution,” Alonso said. “I agree that it’s not fair. We have to find a solution for things that are not fair, and this was not fair.” The International Tennis Federation signed a 25-year partnership with Kosmos — an investment group co-founded by Barcelona soccer star Gerard Piqué — to revamp the Davis Cup and make it more attractive and lucrative. The new tournament is being played over one week in a World Cup-style format with 18 teams competing in a single venue. It previously was played with head-to-head confrontations over four weekends throughout the year. “Overall, players are happy. We are showing that the format works,” Alonso said. “All of them are enjoying being part of Davis Cup, representing their nations and their federations. Spectators are enjoying. “It’s a new format, they have to learn what that means, which is not easy, but it’s happening.” ___ More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni
  • The chamber hushed as the debate got underway at the Cambridge Union and the teams launched into their carefully crafted opening statements. The topic - whether artificial intelligence would do more harm than good - was something each side had a big stake in because both were using the technology to deliver their arguments. Cambridge University, home to the world’s oldest debating society, was the setting Thursday night for a demonstration of what the future might hold. IBM’s Project Debater, a robot that has already debated humans, was for the first time being pitted against itself, at least in the first round. Artificial intelligence “will not be able to make a decision that is the morally correct one, because morality is unique to humans,” the computer system said in a synthetic and vaguely feminine voice. “It cannot make moral decisions easily and can lead to disasters. AI can cause a lot of harm,” it continued. Artificial intelligence can only make decisions it has been programmed for and “it is not possible to program for all scenarios, only humans can.' Then, the machine switched sides, delivering the opposing team’s argument. Artificial intelligence “will be a great advantage as it will free up more time from having to do mundane and repetitive tasks,” it said, its voice embodied by a blue waveform on a screen set into a two-meter-tall sleek black monolith-like pillar. Audience members at the society, which has hosted notable figures including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the Dalai Lama, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates over its 200-year history, were spellbound by its first non-human guest. After first pitting the technology against a human last year, IBM challenged it to present opposing arguments, in a display of its latest advances. Unlike its earlier debate, which relied on analyzing a huge trove of newspaper and magazine articles for its replies, researchers this time crowd-sourced contributions from 1,100 Cambridge students and fed the answers to the computer. They wanted to find out, “Can you use the technology to generate a compelling narrative that will help the decision maker to take a better decision?' said lead scientist Noam Slonim. The system had to identify which side the crowd-sourced contribution was on, rank the best arguments, filter out spelling mistakes and bad grammar, then present a persuasive five-minute statement — a process IBM said took about a minute. Potential applications for the technology include helping a company or government carry out surveys or gather feedback from clients. The night wasn’t totally devoid of humanity. Project Debater quipped, 'Let's move to an issue close to my artificial heart: technology,' drawing laughter from the crowd. And then human debaters took over in the rebuttal and closing rounds, while also jokingly dubbing the computer 'Debbie' and 'Cybertronia the All-Knowing.” At the end of the night, audience members sided with the argument that artificial intelligence does more good than harm. Its future is assured, at least for now. ___ Kelvin Chan contributed to this report.
  • The Trump administration is withholding more than $100 million in U.S. military assistance to Lebanon that has been approved by Congress and is favored by his national security team, an assertion of executive control of foreign aid that is similar to the delay in support for Ukraine at the center of the impeachment inquiry. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday congratulated Lebanon as the country marked its independence day but made no mention of the hold-up in aid that State Department and Pentagon officials have complained about for weeks. It came up in impeachment testimony by David Hale, the No. 3 official in the State Department, according to the transcript of the closed-door hearing released this week. He described growing consternation among diplomats as the administration would neither release the aid nor provide an explanation for the hold. “People started asking: What's the problem?” Hale told the impeachment investigators. The White House and the Office of Management and Budget have declined to comment on the matter. The $105 million in Foreign Military Funding for the Lebanese Armed Forces has languished for months, awaiting approval from the Office of Management and Budget despite congressional approval, an early September notification to lawmakers that it would be spent and overwhelming support for it from the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council. As with the Ukraine assistance, OMB has not explained the reason for the delay. However, unlike Ukraine, there is no suggestion that President Donald Trump is seeking “a favor” from Lebanon to release it, according to five officials familiar with the matter. The mystery has only added to the consternation of the national security community, which believes the assistance that pays for American-made military equipment for the Lebanese army is essential, particularly as Lebanon reels in financial chaos and mass protests. The aid is important to counter Iran’s influence in Iran, which is highlighted by the presence of the Iranian-supported Shiite Hezbollah movement in the government and the group’s militias, the officials said. There is opposition to aid to the Lebanese army from outside the NSC. Pro-Israel hawks in Congress have long sought to de-fund the Lebanese military, arguing that it has been compromised by Hezbollah, which the U.S. designates as a “foreign terrorist organization.” But the Pentagon and State Department reject that view, saying the army is the only independent Lebanese institution capable of resisting Hezbollah. Outside experts agree. Although there are some issues, Jeffrey Feltman, a former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, said this week that the assistance should be released. “The U.S. has some legitimate concerns about the Lebanese Armed Forces’ performance, but the FMF should resume quickly and publicly: both because of the program’s merit in terms of improving the LAF's counterterrorism performance but also to undermine the Hezbollah-Iranian-Syrian-Russian narrative that the U.S. is unreliable,” Feltman he told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Hale told the impeachment inquiry there were parallels between the Lebanon and Ukraine aid in that the White House refused to offer an explanation for the delays. He said inquiries into the Lebanon assistance since June have been met with silence. “We just understand there are differences of opinion on this, or there had been,” he said. “And the matter now rests with OMB. I don't think that the differences currently exist outside of OMB.” The Lebanon aid was put into Trump’s budget last winter and the State Department notified Congress on Sept. 5 that it would be spent even though the OMB had not yet signed off on it. The State Department has offered only a cryptic response to queries, defending the assistance but also calling for Lebanese authorities to implement economic reforms and rein in corruption. “As the sole legitimate defense arm of the government of Lebanon, the United States remains committed to strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces to secure Lebanon’s borders, defend its sovereignty, and preserve its stability,” the department said. “The Lebanon FMF has been apportioned by the administration. No Lebanese expenditures or purchases of military materiel with FMF have been delayed.” “Apportionment” is a technical term that refers to federal funds that have been appropriated by Congress and obligated by the administration but have not yet been released. However, several officials said National Security Council staff had deliberately tried to run an end-around of the Pentagon and State Department by demanding a signed presidential determination to release the aid and then slow-walking delivery of the finding to the Oval Office for Trump’s signature. The officials who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. “It’s beyond the pale,” said one official. “This is people at the NSC and OMB trying to insert their own personal ideologies into something that most everyone else supports as a national security interest.”