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    South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and the state's congressional delegation urged President Donald Trump on Thursday to reconsider his administration's plan to shut down a half-built nuclear fuel facility in their state. A federal appeals court last week allowed the Energy Department to go forward with plans to close the multibillion-dollar facility at the Savannah River Site near Aiken. Closing the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility could cost hundreds of jobs and waste more than $7.6 billion already spent. The project is intended to reprocess weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for commercial reactors. But it is billions of dollars over budget and decades away from completion. A spokesman for the Republican governor said after the meeting that McMaster appreciates Trump's time and attention 'and his commitment to resolve this matter in a manner favorable to South Carolina.' McMaster 'advocated on behalf of South Carolina and brought to light an important issue that our people are facing, and he made it clear that he will not allow our state to become a dumping ground for the world's nuclear waste,' said spokesman Brian Symmes. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close Trump ally, said before the White House meeting that shuttering the so-called MOX project was a 'stupid decision.' 'Who in the world gets a program halfway built and says, 'Ah, let's start over and do something else?'' Graham asked. 'Somebody should be fired.' South Carolina's other senator, Republican Tim Scott, called the meeting productive and said he was hopeful that Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry were listening to the concerns expressed by state officials. 'We wanted to make sure that we make very clear that keeping weapons-grade plutonium in the Palmetto State is a non-starter,' Scott said in a statement. 'The bottom line is, we need to figure out how to make this energy either commercially viable or get it out of our state.' ___ Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this story. ___ This story has been corrected to show that $7.6 billion, not $17 billion, has already been spent on the project.
  • As some 3,000 Hondurans made their way through Guatemala, attention turned to Mexico, after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to close the U.S.-Mexico border if authorities there fail to stop them — a nearly unthinkable move that would disrupt hundreds of thousands of legal freight, vehicle and pedestrian crossings each day. With less than three weeks before the Nov. 6 midterm elections, Trump seized on the migrant caravan to make border security a political issue and energize his Republican base. 'I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught — and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!' Trump tweeted, adding that he blamed Democrats for what he called 'weak laws!' The threat followed another one earlier this week to cut off aid to Central American countries if the migrants weren't stopped. Trump made a similar vow over another large migrant caravan in April, but didn't follow through and it largely petered out in Mexico. On Thursday, Mexico dispatched additional police to its southern border after the Casa del Migrante shelter on the Guatemalan side of the border reported that hundreds of Hondurans had already arrived there. Apparently pleased with that response, in the evening Trump retweeted a BuzzFeed journalist's tweet of a video clip showing the police deployment, adding his own comment: 'Thank you Mexico, we look forward to working with you!' Mexican officials said the Hondurans would not be allowed to enter as a group and would either have to show a passport and visa — something few have — or apply individually for refugee status, a process that can mean waiting for up to 90 days for approval. They also said migrants caught without papers would be deported. Marcelo Ebrard, who is set to become foreign relations secretary when President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes office Dec. 1, said Trump's tweets need to be understood in the context of the upcoming U.S. midterm elections. 'The electoral process is very near, so he is making a political calculation,' Ebrard said in an interview with Radio Centro. Trump's stance, he said, was 'what he has always presented,' adding he saw 'nothing surprising in it.' Current Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray was also sanguine and viewed things through the lens of U.S. politics. 'Nobody likes them (Trump's comments). There's no reason to give them greater transcendence or importance,' Videgaray said from the United Nations where he sought the world body's help processing asylum requests from the migrants. 'What is important to us is the migrants, respect for human rights, their due protection, particularly the most vulnerable.' Still, the idea that Mexico could close its porous southern border — or that the United States would choke off the lucrative trade and other traffic between the two nations — strained the imagination. 'There would be huge economic impacts for both the United States and Mexico ... but limited effect on illegal immigration,' said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute. 'The president certainly can slow down crossing at legal border crossings where about a million people cross each day. That would really hurt legal transit between the two countries and manufacturing and trade, which would affect American workers,' Selee said. 'But it would have much less impact on illegal border crossings between ports of entry.' Stephanie Leutert, director of the Mexico Security Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin, said she interpreted the tweet to mean Trump could send troops not to ports of entry but elsewhere where the illegal crossings take place. 'If that's the case, I don't think Mexico should be too worried because in a sense ... it's the same kind of thing U.S. administrations have been doing for a long time,' Leutert said. Like Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico is a country of many migrants, raising the question of whether the political will exists for a confrontation. Lopez Obrador wants to avoid repression against migrants and also to avoid angering the United States. He said this week that Mexico would offer jobs to Central Americans. 'Anyone who wants to work in our country ... will have a work visa,' he said. By Thursday, the caravan had dispersed a bit, with the youngest and strongest of the migrants walking ahead together, some boarding buses or trying to hitch rides. On a bridge leading out of the Guatemalan capital, Hondurans marched single-file behind a woman holding a baby in her arms as a school bus rumbled past. They carried belongings in everything from backpacks to rolling suitcases to black plastic garbage bags. At the side of a highway, a woman in blue changed a baby's diaper on a blanket spread on the ground. Juan Escobar, 24, said he had heard about Trump's comments but said they would not dissuade the migrants from continuing their journey. 'Only God on high can stop us,' Escobar said. Carlos Lopez, 27, said he was concerned by Trump's threats, but 'you have to keep fighting.' Trump also warned that he prioritizes border security over even the recently struck trade deal to replace NAFTA, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. 'The assault on our country at our Southern Border, including the Criminal elements and DRUGS pouring in, is far more important to me, as President, than Trade or the USMCA. Hopefully Mexico will stop this onslaught at their Northern Border,' Trump tweeted. Analysts didn't see the pact as being in imminent danger, though trade attorney Daniel Ujczo of Dickinson Wright PLLC said there is 'a significant concern' Trump could hold the agreement hostage over future issues. 'Leaders around the world are skeptical that any deal with this U.S. administration is actually final,' Ujczo said, 'particularly one such as the USMCA where the ink has not been put to the signature line.' U.S.-bound migrant caravans have been going on for years — with traveling in numbers seen as offering protection from assaults, robberies, even shakedowns by police. They're also a cheaper alternative to the $7,000 to $10,000 that smugglers, charge for passage to the border, Leutert noted. Still, it wasn't until this year that the caravans received widespread attention. 'There have been these caravans through the years, but they become prominent because the president tweets about them,' Selee said. He predicted that, like the caravan in April, Mexico will respond with measures like granting asylum to some migrants who qualify while deporting others who don't, perhaps not eliminating the caravan entirely but significantly reducing its size before it reaches the U.S. border. But the direct, public pressure from Trump puts Mexico, already an uneasy ally the last two years, in an uncomfortable spotlight. 'Ironically, the way President Trump responds to these caravans makes it harder for the Mexican government to cooperate with the U.S. on immigration enforcement,' Selee said. 'There is a lot of disposition in both the current and the incoming Mexican government to cooperate with the U.S. on some aspects of immigration control. But it becomes much harder when President Trump makes this a political issue in which he bashes Mexico.' ___ Orsi and Stevenson reported from Mexico City. Associated Press writer Paul Wiseman in Washington contributed to this report.
  • American Express said its third quarter profits jumped by 22 percent from a year earlier, as the credit card giant benefited from a lower tax rate and increased spending on the company's credit cards. The New York-based company said it earned a profit of $1.65 billion, or $1.88 a share, which is up from $1.36 billion, or $1.51 a share, in the same period a year ago. The results beat analysts' expectations, who were looking for AmEx to earn $1.77 a share, according to FactSet. 'We delivered strong results this quarter driven by higher card member spending, fee income and loans,' said Stephen Squeri, the company's chairman and chief executive officer. Squeri took over AmEx early this year, when then CEO Kenneth Chenault retired. The results came as American Express faces a much more competitive landscape than it did only a couple years ago. The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card by JPMorgan Chase became a major product in the premium credit card market, something that solely belonged to American Express with its Platinum Card. In response, AmEx has been adding benefits to its cards, like a $15-a-month credit on Uber, or, with the recently revamped Gold Card, a $10-a-month credit on select dining outlets. Meanwhile, AmEx has been raising the annual fees on its cards to make up for the increased benefits — something that appears not to be driving away new or existing customers. Total cards in force grew by 7 percent from a year earlier, despite the fee increases. American Express card users spent $294.7 billion on their cards globally last quarter, an 8 percent jump from a year earlier. In the U.S., the company's largest market, card user spending was up 10 percent from a year earlier. AmEx takes a fee from merchants for each time their cards are used. AmEx has also been encouraging its users to maintain a balance on their cards as well, collecting more interest income particularly as interest rates rise. Total loans held by AmEx users were $77.6 billion in the quarter, up from $67.9 billion a year earlier. That helped contribute to a 20 percent rise in interest revenue this quarter. But that move into lending comes with a risk that some customers will be unable to repay their debts. The company's net charge-off rate, or the percentage of loans AmEx sees as unrecoverable, creeped up to 2.5 percent from 2.1 percent a year earlier. That figure still remains among the lowest in the industry, but it has been moving higher or holding steady for several quarters now. Despite the rise in delinquencies, American Express Chief Financial Officer Jeff Campbell said the defaults are 'slightly better than what we previously expected.' Like other large companies, AmEx also benefited from a lower tax rate this quarter, due to the Republican tax law that was enacted late last year. The amount that the company set aside to pay income taxes was down 2 percent from a year earlier, even though AmEx's revenues and profits grew. AmEx shares were up 0.5 percent to $103.40 in after-market trading.
  • Prior to his death on Monday, billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen invested large sums in technology ventures, research projects and philanthropy, some of it eclectic and highly speculative. What happens to those commitments now? Outside of bland assurances from his investment company, no one seems quite sure. Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to his company Vulcan Inc. He was 65. He never married and had no children, and details of his estate aren't known. Forbes recently estimated Allen's net worth at $20.3 billion. He used much of the money he made from Microsoft — whose Windows operating system is found on most of the world's desktop computers — for a 'second act' as a sports-team owner, prolific investor and philanthropist after leaving the tech giant in 1983, when he resigned after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. Allen's technology interests ran a wide gamut, from space travel and new energy sources to more conventional ventures such as Uber, Spotify and smaller companies focused on financial technology and artificial intelligence. Allen previously invested more than $20 million in SpaceShipOne, the first privately financed and manned rocket to reach the edge of space (though not Earth orbit). It accomplished that feat in 2004. One of Allen's more esoteric ventures is Stratolaunch, which is building an enormous twin-fuselage jet aircraft designed to launch satellites from high altitudes. The vehicle has yet to make its first flight, although the company hosted Vice President Mike Pence at its Mojave, California, hangar during a 2017 visit. But Stratolaunch isn't commenting on its post-Allen future. A representative for the company declined comment, saying 'now is the time to focus on Paul's life and allow his family and friends to grieve.' Vulcan likewise declined comment beyond this reassurance offered in a statement: 'Paul thoughtfully addressed how the many institutions he founded and supported would continue after he was no longer able to lead them.' Company representatives declined to discuss specifics given his recent passing but said there are no imminent changes planned for the number of institutions and programs that Allen led and funded. In the world of big-ticket philanthropy, meanwhile, it's rare for a foundation to have no obvious next-generation heirs, said Amir Pasic, dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. 'Clearly, there wasn't a preprogrammed plan to institute on day one after his passing,' Pasic said. Allen was tied to many high-profile endeavors, including commercial real estate work redeveloping Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood for Amazon.com's urban campus, ownership of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, and even funding underwater expeditions that made important shipwreck discoveries. Around town, his legacy is etched on a portfolio of research institutes, museums, school buildings, endowments and programs. Allen over his lifetime had given more than $2 billion to efforts aimed at improving education, science, technology, conservation and communities. He tackled climate change, advanced brain research and supported his native Seattle through funding for homelessness services and cultural institutions. Allen was a strong backer of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's 'Giving Pledge' to donate the majority of their wealth to charity, said Jon Lazarus, a friend of Allen's for more than three decades who collaborated with him on a number of technology projects. Allen's 'tactical' investments in brain science and artificial intelligence research, where he provided guidance as well as money, were particularly notable, Lazarus said. Allen specified that the results of the brain research, for example, should remain publicly available. Allen's sister, Jody Allen, co-founded their 30-year-old Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. She's listed as its director and president on the private nonprofit foundation's latest IRS tax filing from the 2016 fiscal year, which indicates it held net assets worth $756 million, much of it from investments. The next step is for the board to vote on a new chairman and any changes to the endowment or structure are likely to appear in the next month or so, which could be very significant in terms of direction and approach, said Jacob Harold, president of Guidestar, an organization that evaluates nonprofits. 'Paul Allen had some very creative philanthropy that's somewhat nontraditional,' Harold said. 'His personal stamp was more in his philanthropy than is true for many wealthy individuals.' In comparison to other name-brand philanthropists, it's unclear if Allen intended for his wealth to be vigorously spent down in order to accelerate the programs he believed in — like his Microsoft counterpart Bill Gates has pledged to do. The alternative would be for his money to perpetuate through investments so that his foundation could live on indefinitely, as steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie ordered more than a century ago. ___ Bajak reported from Boston.
  • StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony price fixing charge as part of a broad collusion investigation of the canned tuna industry, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday. The DOJ said StarKist faces up to a $100 million fine when it is sentenced. Prosecutors allege that the industry's top three companies conspired between 2010 and 2013 to keep prices artificially high. 'We have cooperated with the DOJ during the course of its investigation and accept responsibility,' said StarKist chief executive Andrew Choe. 'We will continue to conduct our business with the utmost transparency and integrity.' The scheme came to light when Thai Union Group's Chicken of the Sea attempt to buy San Diego-based Bumble Bee failed in 2015, according to court records. Chicken of the Sea executives then alerted federal investigators, who agreed to shield the company from criminal prosecution in exchange for cooperation. Bumble Bee Foods last year pleaded guilty to the same charge and paid a $25 million fine, $111 million lower than prosecutors said it should have been. Prosecutors said they feared putting the financially struggling Bumble Bee out of business with a high fine and agreed to let the company make interest-free payments for five years. Two former executives of Bumble Bee and one from StarKist have also each pleaded guilty to price-fixing charges. None of them have been sentenced. Former Bumble Bee chief executive Christopher Lischewski has pleaded not guilty to a price fixing charge. 'The conspiracy to fix prices on these household staples had direct effects on the pocketbooks of American consumers,' said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim. In addition, the three companies face myriad lawsuits from wholesalers, food service companies and retailers such as Walmart, Target and Kroger.
  • The Latest on Italy's plans to ramp up public spending (all times local): 7:45 p.m. The European Commission has chastised Italy for a spending plan that will raise its deficit to three times that which was previously agreed, calling the deviation 'unprecedented in the history' of the EU's stability and growth compact. EU budget chief Pierre Moscovici delivered the letter Thursday to Economic Minister Giovanni Tria in Rome. The letter said a spending increase and a resulting deficit of 2.4 percent of GDP will make it unlikely that Italy will be able to reduce its public debt, now at 130 percent of GDP, to levels agreed upon by European Union member states. In a press conference in Brussels, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte denied that the deviation was 'unprecedented,' but said Italy had until Monday to offer a formal response to the commission's concerns. ___ 7:20 p.m. The EU budget chief Pierre Moscovici says the EU Commission and many member states are worried by Italy's spending plans that will see the country's budget deficit rise to 2.4 percent of annual GDP. Moscovici met Economy Minister Giovanni Tria in Rome to present a letter outlining concerns over Italy's draft budget. The meeting came as Italy's premier wrapped up a day in Brussels explaining the Italian budget draft to Italy's partners, including the leaders of Germany, France and the Netherlands. Moscovici told reporters that the European Commission will not interfere with Italy's choices, and that its role was one of 'a referee, not an adversary of Italy.' Moscovici said Italy would be treated like any other member state, adding: 'I cannot imagine a Europe without Italy or Italy without Europe.' ___ 5:50 p.m. EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker says the EU has always been generous with Italy when it comes to assessing its budget, but that the latest draft presented this week would be rigorously vetted to see if it meets EU standards. Juncker said after Thursday's summit that some EU leaders had already approached him to make sure not to be too flexible when combing through the details of Italy's spending plans. The EU has limits for member states' deficits and debt levels. Italy's budget proposal is considered out of line with commitments made earlier, with a proposed deficit of 2.4 percent. While that is below the 3 percent EU ceiling, it is still three times the amount initially promised. And it means Italy's debt load — which at over 130 percent of GDP is well over the 60 percent limit — will probably not be lowered as promised. Juncker said: 'I had some colleagues on the phone say they don't want us to add flexibility to already existing flexibility.' He said the EU has no intention of doing so. ___ 5:10 p.m. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says after a day of defending the country's budget plan to allies that there is no reason to fear the EU's criticisms. Conte, in a post on Facebook Thursday, said that the measures are 'well-considered, well-constructed and well-realized,' and he said the draft was 'the only instrument that we have to ensure economic growth and social development to our country.' Conte added that 'we knew that these measures devised to satisfy the needs of Italian citizens, long unanswered, are not in line with the expectations of the European Commission,' and that the Italian government was prepared to respond to comments. Conte, who met with the leaders of Germany, France and the Netherlands on the summit sidelines, said that the measures were 'indispensable if we want to change course.' ___ 1:25 p.m. The head of one of Italy's two ruling populist parties says unauthorized changes were made to the draft budget, suggesting a possible rift in the coalition government. Luigi Di Maio, the head of the 5-Star Movement, on Thursday threatened to lodge a formal criminal complaint. He told a late-night talk show that the draft budget presented to President Sergio Mattarella's office contained a proposal to extend a tax amnesty on money held abroad and brought back to Italy. The 5-Star Movement opposes such a move as it risks laundering 'corrupt or mafia capital.' Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League party, called the accusation 'surreal.' Premier Giuseppe Conte told reporters in Brussels that he would review the draft law line by line when he returns Friday to Rome. He denied a rift in the governing coalition. ___ 1:00 p.m. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is warning his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte not to break the budgetary rules set out by the European Union. Rutte met with Conte at Thursday's EU summit, where Conte is on the defensive for filing a draft budget for 2019 that has a deficit level three times as large as Italy originally promised. Rutte said in a statement that he expressed Dutch concerns regarding Italy's budget plans and said he was giving 'full support' to the European Commission, which is vetting the draft after having expressed its skepticism. Italian leaders say the budget plan will boost economic growth through higher spending, but other EU countries are concerned it will add to Italy's already heavy public debt load.
  • The nation's financial watchdog has opened a formal investigation into writings and comments by Eric Blankenstein, a Republican appointee overseeing the agency's anti-discrimination efforts, which he alleged that most hate crimes were fake and argued that using racial epithets did not mean a person was racist. Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, asked the Federal Reserve's Inspector General Office this week to investigate the writings. The CFPB does not have its own inspector general's office, and uses the Fed's inspectors when necessary. Blankenstein is one of a handful of political appointees that joined the CFPB after Mulvaney took over the bureau roughly a year ago. Blankenstein's official title is policy associate director of the Office of Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending, and is in charge of all bureau investigations into possible discrimination by banks and other financial companies. He is also one of the highest paid federal government employees, making more than $250,000 a year. The controversy over Blankenstein's previous comments started in late September, when The Washington Post published a story on his writings on a blog more than a decade ago. In one post, from 2004, Blankenstein said using a particular racist word to describe a black person did not mean a person was racist, just foolish, he said, using an obscenity to describe a foolish person. In the same post, Blankenstein stated that hate crime hoaxes happen three times more often than actual hate crimes. The posts were written under an online alias, where Blankenstein used his initials. Blankenstein initially dismissed The Washington Post's story, saying little could be gleaned from his writings, when he was 25 years old. However, Blankenstein quickly retreated from that position as outrage grew among CFPB career staff, including from his immediate subordinate. The president of the union that represents CFPB employees sent a letter last week to Mulvaney and Congress expressing deep concerns about Blankenstein continuing in his current role. The National Treasury Employees Union 'believes that every federal employee should have a workplace where they are confident they are treated fairly and without discrimination,' Union President Tony Reardon said. 'In speaking with our members at CFPB it is clear to me that those under Eric Blankenstein's leadership do not have this confidence.' Blankenstein has now apologized for his previous statements, saying in an email to CFPB employees, 'the tone and framing of my statements reflected poor judgment.' Left-leaning and consumer groups, who have by and large been outraged over Mulvaney's business-friendly changes to the bureau, have pressed hard for Mulvaney to fire Blankenstein. Mulvaney, for the most part, has backed Blankenstein. At a town hall in Louisiana on Thursday, Mulvaney said Blankenstein's writings were an 'internal management and employee issue for us.' 'We are handling this internally,' Mulvaney said. When asked further by a reporter if he had confidence in Blankenstein, Mulvaney said 'Oh, sure.' The latest volley came from Allied Progress, a consumer group that has been sharply critical of Mulvaney's policies, which sent a letter to the Federal Reserve's inspector general's office this week asking him to also investigate an Amazon 'wish list' of Blankenstein's. The wish list includes a book called 'A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History,' a 2014 book that argues the rise of Western power in the world was possibly due to genetic superiority. 'Consumers have a right to know if Blankenstein, who was hand-picked by Mulvaney to oversee fair lending enforcement at the CFPB, was pining for a book as racially charged and controversial as the blog posts he once wrote,' said Karl Frisch, director of Allied Progress, in his letter. ___ AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte contributed to this report from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. ___ Ken Sweet covers banks and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @kensweet.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he will not attend an investment conference in Saudi Arabia. Mnuchin made the announcement on his Twitter account , saying that the decision was made after a White House meeting with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mnuchin said in his tweet, 'I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Araba.' His announcement comes after Pompeo told reporters at the White House that the administration would await the outcome of investigations by Saudi Arabia and Turkey into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi before deciding how the U.S. will respond. The Future Investment Initiative conference takes place Oct. 23-25 in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. It was set up last year as a kind of 'Davos in the Desert' for the world's business elite to network. Mnuchin joins a growing number of global leaders who have decided to pull out of the summit, including International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, as well as senior government officials from France, Britain and the Netherlands.
  • European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is playing down trans-Atlantic trade tensions after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross accused the EU of dragging its feet in exploratory trade talks. Amid fears of an all-out trade war, Juncker met U.S. President Donald Trump in July to start talks intended to achieve 'zero tariffs' and 'zero subsidies' on non-automotive industrial goods. Juncker said Thursday that what he and Trump 'have agreed, and what the two of us are committed to, will be done.' After meeting with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, Ross said Wednesday that 'we really need tangible progress. The president's patience is not unlimited.' Malmstrom says EU requests for talks on a limited deal appear to have been ignored 'so the ball is in their court.
  • The Latest on Britain's exit from the European Union (all times local): 7:15 p.m. While the Irish border issue is holding up a comprehensive Brexit deal, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says the status of Gibraltar won't be an obstacle. At the conclusion of a European Union leaders' summit, Sanchez said the Gibraltar issue between the United Kingdom and Spain 'is resolved' and 'won't be a problem' for Britain's plans to leave the EU. The EU's guidelines on negotiations for Britain's future relationship with the bloc had granted Spain veto rights over the issue of Gibraltar, making it a potential difficulty. Sanchez didn't go into detail about the agreement over the tiny territory on Spain's southern border, which London has controlled for three centuries against Madrid's wishes. Sanchez told reporters that an agreement had been reached, though some thorny issues were left aside for further negotiation. They include workers' movements across the border and security matters. ___ 7 p.m. French President Emmanuel Macron says the solution to the Ireland border issue, which has hobbled Brexit negotiations with Britain, can only come from Prime Minister Theresa May. At the end of an EU leaders' summit that was dominated by Brexit, Macron said it's 'not up to the European Union to make concessions to deal with an internal British political matter.' May is struggling to forge a consensus in her Cabinet as well as within her government over how to assure the EU that a hard border, with associated customs checks, won't return between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Macron said: It's a matter concerning Britain's political ability to find a presentable agreement. That's all.' There has been no hard border on the island of Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement two decades ago formally brought an end to the conflict in Northern Ireland. ___ 5:40 p.m. EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker is throwing his weight behind the idea of extending a transition period as Britain leaves the bloc, calling it 'a good idea.' British Prime Minister Theresa May said at a Brexit summit she will consider an extension of several months to the proposed transition period, which currently stands at 21 months. Agreement on such an extension could help break the deadlock on the talks. Juncker said Thursday 'this prolongation of the transition period probably will happen. It's a good idea.' He added that 'this is giving us some room to prepare the future relations in the best way possible.' ___ 5:30 p.m. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says European Union leaders 'deliberately' did not dwell on a 'no-deal Brexit' outcome during their summit. She said: 'Everyone should of course prepare for this, without wanting this option to be necessary.' She added that 'we deliberately didn't talk about this in detail yesterday so as not to create the impression that we are already busying ourselves intensively with this question — our focus was on the question of how we can achieve a withdrawal agreement and a statement on future relations with Britain.' 'As long as we don't have a solution we won't be able to explain exactly how it can succeed,' she said Thursday. 'Where there's a will, there should be a way, and normally there is a way.' ___ 5:10 p.m. British Prime Minister Theresa May says the remaining differences on Brexit terms between the U.K. and the European Union are 'few but considerable' — but she says she is confident the two sides will reach an agreement. EU leaders are wrapping up a summit long billed as a deadline for a Brexit bill, but which turned out to be a damp squib. With talks on the vexing issue of the Irish border deadlocked, both sides said they needed several more weeks or months to work on an agreement. There was a glimmer of progress around a proposal to extend a post-Brexit transition period to give more time for a new U.K.-EU trade deal — but that is fiercely opposed by May's pro-Brexit critics at home. Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29, so there is not much time to strike a deal and get it approved by relevant parliaments before the deadline. ___ 5 p.m. EU Council President Donald Tusk says this week's summit with British Prime Minister Theresa May has left him more optimistic that a Brexit deal can be found for Britain's divorce from the bloc. Tusk says 'what I feel today is that we are closer to the final solutions and the deal.' He acknowledged that 'it may be a more emotional impression than a rational one, but emotions matter, also in politics.' Tusk was blamed for contributing to a tense atmosphere at an EU summit in September in Austria, when he made frank comments and compounded it with an Instagram entry that was considered flippant and disrespectful toward May. He says 'we are in a much better mood than after Salzburg.' ___ 2:55 p.m. British Prime Minister Theresa May is getting criticism from across the British political spectrum for considering a European Union proposal that would keep the U.K. bound to the bloc's rules for more than two years after it leaves the EU in March. Seeking to unblock stalled divorce talks with the EU, May said on Thursday that a proposed 21-month transition period after Brexit could be extended by 'a matter of months.' The two sides previously said Britain will remain inside the EU single market, and subject to the bloc's regulations, from the day it leaves on March 29 until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up. But with talks at an impasse, the bloc has suggested extending that period to provide more time to strike an agreement that ensures the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains friction-free. The Irish border issue is the main sticking point in Brexit negotiations. ___ 10:10 a.m. British Prime Minister Theresa May says she is considering a European Union proposal that would keep Britain bound to the bloc's rules for more than two years after Brexit. At present the two sides say Britain will remain subject to the bloc's rules from Brexit day on March 29 until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up. With divorce talks stuck, the bloc has suggested extending that period, to give more time to strike a trade deal that ensures a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. May said Thursday that the U.K. is considering extending the transition period by 'a matter of months.' The idea has angered pro-Brexit U.K. politicians, who see it as an attempt to bind Britain to the bloc indefinitely.

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  • As a former FBI agent was sentenced to 4 years in prison Thursday in Minnesota for disclosing classified information to the news media, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions hailed the latest court moves against leakers in the federal government, saying the Trump Administration is waging what may be ‘the most aggressive campaign against leaks’ in the history of the Department of Justice. “Today’s sentence should be a warning to every would-be leaker in the federal government that if they disclose classified information, they will pay a high price,” Sessions said in a statement, making clear that government leakers will be ‘prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and punished.’ Terry Albury, the Minneapolis FBI agent arrested for leaking classified information to the Intercept, gets four years in prison. 'We are conducting perhaps the most aggressive campaign against leaks in Department history,' AG Sessions says in statement: https://t.co/QBFKUUiXy8 — Kevin Collier (@kevincollier) October 18, 2018 The Sessions statement came after a busy week on the leak front for the feds: + On Monday, a former employee of the Senate Intelligence Committee plead guilty to lying to the FBI about leaks to a reporter. + Wednesday, a Department of Treasury official was charged with leaking banking activity reports to a reporter which was linked to the Russia investigation. + Today, former FBI agent Terry Albury was sentenced to four years of jail time for leaking national security material to the Intercept. From press reports in recent days, it is obvious that more leak investigations are underway as well. + The Trump Administration has sent a subpoena to an immigration attorney, trying to find out how leaked an internal government memo from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on how asylum applications would be handled for domestic violence victims. + The charges this week against a Treasury Department employee for leaking “Suspicious Activity Banking” reports shows another official in the same office had contacts with the news media as well. + Earlier this week, Attorney General Sessions told the Washington Times that there were 27 ongoing leak investigations at the Department of Justice. + Back in February, Sessions vowed that the Justice Department was going “aggressively” to find out who leaked information about transcripts of phone conversations involving former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
  • A 63-year-old man was shot and killed by police in Monroe, Georgia, Thursday after pointing what turned out to be a replica Thompson submachine gun, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. >> Read more trending news  The incident happened about 9 a.m., when police responded to a report of a man with a gun, Monroe Public Safety Director Keith Glass said in a statement. The man was identified as Mahlon Edward Summerour, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said in a statement, adding that Summerour appeared to be wearing a curtain over his clothing. “During the encounter, Summerour pointed the weapon at one of the officers,” Miles said. “One officer fired a shot at Summerour, striking him in the chest. Summerour was transported to a local hospital where he later died.” Officer-involved shootings in Georgia in 2018 are on track to surpass the 97 recorded in 2017, according to the GBI. The Monroe shooting is the 73rd such investigation the agency has opened in 2018.
  • The Georgia State Patrol says a man is dead after he managed to fire a weapon that he had hidden behind his back while he was handcuffed during a traffic stop on Interstate 75 in Georgia. >> Read more trending news The shooting happened at exit 293 in Cartersville, near the exit ramp to Highway 411 in Bartow County. Officials say a trooper pulled a couple over around 5 a.m. Thursday and the trooper found contraband in the car. The female driver was taken into custody. Authorities said the male passenger originally gave a false name and, at some point, the first trooper called for backup. When a second trooper arrived, the officers determined the man was a wanted parole violator who had been on the run for months, officials said. The troopers searched the man’s car for weapons and handcuffed his hands behind his back, according to investigators. >> Man carrying replica machine gun fatally shot by police, cops say The man was able to grab a weapon hidden behind his back in his pants and fired at the troopers. One of the officers was struck in the stomach, but protected by a bullet-proof vest.  The troopers shot back at the suspect, authorities said. The man was taken to the hospital and later died, according to officials.  The trooper was treated at the hospital and released.  Authorities continue to investigate.
  • State authorities are investigating a deadly shooting involving police in Monroe, officials said. >> Read more trending news The incident happened about 9 a.m. Thursday in the 400 block of East Marable Street in Walton County when police responded to a report of a man with a gun, Monroe Public Safety Director Keith Glass said in a statement. >> See the latest on AJC.com A 63-year-old man was shot and killed after police said he was carrying a gun that turned out to be a replica Thompson machine gun, WSBTV reported. The scene is about one block from Athens Technical College’s Walton campus. >> See the latest on WSBTV.com It was one of two officer-involved shootings in Georgia on Thursday. The second was reported in Bartow County. >> Suspect shot dead after pulling gun during traffic stop, injuring officer, Georgia State Patrol says Officer-involved shootings in Georgia this year are on track to pass the 88 recorded in 2017, according to the GBI. The Monroe shooting is the 73rd such investigation the agency has opened in 2018.