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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

Government climate report warns of worsening US disasters

WASHINGTON (AP) — As California’s catastrophic wildfires recede and people rebuild after two hurricanes, a massive new federal report warns that these types of disasters are worsening in the United States because of global warming. The White House report quietly issued Friday also frequently contradicts President Donald Trump.

The National Climate Assessment was written long before the deadly fires in California this month and before Hurricanes Florence and Michael raked the East Coast and Florida. It says warming-charged extremes “have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration.” The report notes the last few years have smashed U.S. records for damaging weather, costing nearly $400 billion since 2015.

The recent Northern California wildfires can be attributed to climate change, but there was less of a connection to those in Southern California, said co-author William Hohenstein of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“A warm, dry climate has increased the areas burned over the last 20 years,” he said at a press conference Friday.

The report is mandated by law every few years and is based on more than 1,000 previous research studies. It details how global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas is hurting each region of the United States and how it impacts different sectors of the economy, including energy and agriculture.

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In era of online retail, Black Friday still lures a crowd

NEW YORK (AP) — It would have been easy to turn on their computers at home over plates of leftover turkey and take advantage of the Black Friday deals most retailers now offer online.

But across the country, thousands of shoppers flocked to stores on Thanksgiving or woke up before dawn the next day to take part in this most famous ritual of American consumerism.

Shoppers spent their holiday lined up outside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, by 4 p.m. Thursday, and the crowd had swelled to 3,000 people by the time doors opened at 5 a.m. Friday morning. In Ohio, a group of women was so determined, they booked a hotel room Thursday night to be closer to the stores. In New York City, one woman went straight from a dance club to a department store in the middle of the night.

Many shoppers said Black Friday is as much about the spectacle as it is about doorbuster deals.

Kati Anderson said she stopped at Cumberland Mall in Atlanta Friday morning for discounted clothes as well as “the people watching.” Her friend, Katie Nasworthy, said she went to the mall instead of shopping online because she likes to see the Christmas decorations.

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Associate of Roger Stone in plea talks with Mueller

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A conservative writer and associate of Trump confidant Roger Stone said Friday that he is in plea talks with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Jerome Corsi told The Associated Press he has been negotiating a potential plea but declined to comment further. He said on a YouTube show earlier this month that he expected to be charged with lying to federal investigators, though he said at the time that he was innocent of wrongdoing.

Mueller’s team questioned Corsi as part of an investigation into Stone’s connections with WikiLeaks. American intelligence agencies have assessed that Russia was the source of hacked material released by WikiLeaks during the 2016 election that damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mueller’s office is trying to determine whether Stone and other associates of President Donald Trump had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans.

The confirmation of plea talks — first reported by The Washington Post — comes as Mueller’s team has just received fresh information from Trump personally and as federal prosecutors in Virginia recently inadvertently disclosed the existence of sealed charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

It’s unclear if the charges against Assange are related to Mueller’s investigation, but WikiLeaks was singled out in an indictment last summer against a group of Russian intelligence officers accused of carrying out the wide-ranging hack of Clinton’s campaign and other Democratic organizations.

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Tijuana declares ‘humanitarian crisis,’ seeks help from UN

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — The mayor of Tijuana has declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city and said Friday he was asking the United Nations for aid to deal with the approximately 5,000 Central American migrants, most of whom were camped out inside a sports complex.

The comments by Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum came as city officials and volunteers worked together to assist the 4,976 men, women and children who had arrived after more than a month on the road. The Trump administration has spent weeks lambasting the caravan, which it said was filled with criminals, gang members and even — it insinuated at one point without any proof — terrorists.

Manuel Figueroa, who leads the city’s social services department, said Tijuana was bringing in portable toilets and showers, as well as shampoo and soap.

It wasn’t enough.

“Because of the absence, the apathy and the abandonment of the federal government, we are having to turn to international institutions like the U.N.,” Figueroa said.

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Government asks high court to hear transgender military case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court on Friday to issue an unusually quick ruling on the Pentagon’s policy of restricting military service by transgender people. It’s the fourth time in recent months the administration has sought to bypass lower courts that have blocked some of its more controversial proposals and push the high court, with a conservative majority, to weigh in quickly on a divisive issue.

Earlier this month, the administration asked the high court to fast-track cases on the president’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields young immigrants from deportation. Administration officials also recently asked the high court to intervene to stop a trial in a climate change lawsuit and in a lawsuit over the administration’s decision to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a frequent target of criticism by President Donald Trump, is involved in three of the cases. Trump’s recent salvo against the “Obama judge” who ruled against his asylum policy — not one of the issues currently before the Supreme Court — prompted Chief Justice John Roberts to fire back at the president for the first time for feeding perceptions of a biased judiciary.

Joshua Matz, publisher of the liberal Take Care blog, said the timing of the administration’s effort to get the Supreme Court involved in the issues at an early stage could hardly be worse for Roberts and other justices who have sought to dispel perceptions that the court is merely a political institution, especially since the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. At an especially sensitive moment for the Supreme Court, the Trump administration is “forcing it into a minefield that many justices would almost surely prefer to avoid,” Matz said.

The Supreme Court almost always waits to get involved in a case until both a trial and appeals court have ruled in it. Often, the justices wait until courts in different areas of the country have weighed in and come to different conclusions about the same legal question.

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Named for Roman god of war, Mars isn’t very kind to visitors

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Mars has a nasty habit of living up to its mythological name and besting Earth when it comes to accepting visitors.

NASA’s InSight is the latest spacecraft to come calling, with every intent of landing and digging deeper into the planet than anything that’s come before. The lander arrives at Mars on Monday following a six-month journey.

“We’ve had a number of successful landings in a row now. But you never know what Mars will throw at you,” said Rob Grover, lead engineer for the landing team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Landing on Mars is always risky, Grover and other experts stress at every opportunity.

“Our job on the landing team is to be paranoid about what could go wrong and make sure that we’re doing everything we can to make sure things go right,” he said,

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S&P 500 slides into ‘correction’ for second time this year

U.S. stocks closed lower after a shortened session Friday, bumping the benchmark S&P 500 index into a correction, or drop of 10 percent below its most recent all-time high in September.

Energy companies led the market slide as the price of U.S. crude oil tumbled to its lowest level in more than a year, reflecting worries among traders that a slowing global economy could hurt demand for oil.

“Oil is really falling sharply, continuing its downward descent, and that appears to be giving investors a lot of concern that there’s slowing global growth,” said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment director at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management. “You have that, and then you have the recent sell-off in tech and in retail, and then throw on there trade tensions and rising rates.”

Losses in technology and internet companies and banks outweighed gains in health care and household goods stocks. Several big retailers declined as investors monitored Black Friday for signs of a strong holiday shopping season.

Trading volume was lighter than usual with the markets open for only a half day after the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Rain slows search for remains but helps ease California fire

PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — Rain helped extinguish a deadly wildfire in Northern California’s Gold Rush country, but the moisture also turned ash into thick paste and hindered the hunt for telltale fragments of bone that could indicate a body.

Searchers resumed their grim task Friday afternoon after a downpour eased up in Paradise, California. They fanned out across the ruins of a mobile home park shrouded in heavy fog, some combing debris with rakes while others lifted up twisted metal to peer underneath or led dogs through the ash.

This particular park had already been searched by humans and dogs, as evidenced by orange spray-paint markings left by search teams to indicate they have canvassed an area. But Craig Covey, who leads a search team from Southern California’s Orange County, said they were searching it again because it was the last known address of people who remained missing, many of them elderly.

The searchers wore yellow rain slickers and hard hats to protect against falling branches as they quietly looked for clues that may indicate someone couldn’t get out, such as a car in the driveway or a wheelchair ramp. They looked not only for bone, but anything that could be a pile of cremated ashes.

The nation’s deadliest wildfire in the past century has killed at least 84 people, and more than 560 are still unaccounted for. Despite the inclement weather, more than 800 volunteers searched for remains on Thanksgiving and again Friday, two weeks after flames swept through the Sierra Nevada foothills, authorities said.

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Ruling in genital mutilation case shocks women’s advocates

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Women’s rights advocates said they were shocked when a federal judge in Michigan ruled this week that a law protecting girls from genital mutilation was unconstitutional. They called his decision a serious blow to girls’ rights. Legal experts said the judge made clear that U.S. states have authority to ban the practice, though only about half do.

Here is a look at the ruling, which dismissed several charges against a doctor accused of cutting nine girls in three states as part of a religious custom, and what could happen next.

THE RULING, SIMPLIFIED

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala was among eight people charged in federal court in Michigan in connection with the genital mutilation of nine girls from Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois between 2015 and 2017. Authorities alleged that mothers brought their girls to Nagarwala when they were roughly 7 years old for the procedure.

Nagarwala has denied any crime was committed and said she performed a religious custom on girls from her Muslim sect, the India-based Dawoodi Bohra.

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Alabama mall shooting leaves 1 dead, 2 wounded

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Police responding to a fight inside an Alabama shopping mall shot and killed a man who had brandished a weapon, authorities said Friday. Two other people were injured, including a 12-year-old girl.

The Hoover Police Department said in a statement that two men were engaged in a “physical altercation” at the glitzy Riverchase Galleria in Hoover late Thursday, when one of the men pulled out a handgun and shot the other man twice.

Two officers who were providing security at the mall heard the gunfire and approached the area. They spotted a suspect waving a pistol and shot him. He died at the scene. The Jefferson County coroner’s office identified him as 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr. of Hueytown.

The other shooting victim was an 18-year-old male from Birmingham. He was taken to a nearby hospital in serious condition. A 12-year-old bystander was also shot and taken to Children’s Hospital by a Hoover Fire Department rescue squad.

Police said the fight happened on the mall’s second floor concourse area, near the entrance to the Footaction shoe store. Capt. Greg Rector said Friday that investigators do not know what sparked the original confrontation between the men.

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