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AP-US-GOVERNMENT-SHUTDOWN-THE-LATEST The Latest: Tips given to workers struggling due to shutdown WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is offering advice to federal workers saddled with bills they can’t pay because of the partial federal shutdown that…


The Latest: Tips given to workers struggling due to shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is offering advice to federal workers saddled with bills they can’t pay because of the partial federal shutdown that is expected to stretch into the new year.

Federal workers and contractors forced to stay home or work without pay are experiencing mounting stress from the impasse, which is hung up on President Trump’s demand for money to build a border wall.

The Office of Personnel Management is advising furloughed federal workers to speak directly with landlords, mortgage companies and creditors to explain their lack of funds and work out reduced or deferred payment plans.

The OPM suggests that federal workers follow up the calls with letters that recount the conversation and share their phone number, address and the details of the call.

Sample letters can be found at


NYC utility probes electric flash that lit sky in eerie blue

NEW YORK (AP) — Electric utility Con Edison is working to figure out what caused a high-voltage equipment failure that unleashed an otherworldly flash of bright blue light in the night sky over New York City.

The event Thursday night filled social media feeds with eerie photos, questions and jokes, to the point that even the New York Police Department tweeted there was “no evidence of extraterrestrial activity.”

Although Con Ed initially described a “brief electrical fire” at a power substation in Queens, spokesman Bob McGee says Friday that what happened was what’s called an “arc flash” — somewhat like a bolt of lightning — after a malfunction in equipment that carries 138,000 volts of electricity 20 feet (6 meters) up in the air.

He says the flash subsided on its own.


The Latest: US-led coalition says no Syrian troops in Manbij

BEIRUT (AP) — The U.S.-led coalition has denied that there were changes to the military deployment in Syria’s Kurdish-held Manbij, refuting the Syrian government’s account that its troops have entered the town.

The coalition said Friday that the announcement that government troops had entered the town was “incorrect.” Kurdish officials said the government troops have deployed at the front lines with Turkey-backed fighters to avert a Turkish offensive.

U.S. troops have been patrolling the town and have bases on its edge to prevent friction with Turkey-backed fighters. The town is held by the U.S-backed Kurdish-led forces.

Turkey has threatened a military campaign to drive the Kurdish militia out of the town. The threats, in part, triggered the surprise announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump that he will withdraw American troops from Syria.

The Syrian government announced earlier Friday that it has entered the town of Manbij and raised the national flag there.

“We call on everyone to respect the integrity of Manbij and the safety of its citizens,” the U.S.-led coalition said.


The Latest: Oxfam suspends Ebola work amid Congo protests

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The Oxfam aid organization says it is suspending its Ebola outbreak response work in Congo because of violent protests by people barred from voting in Sunday’s presidential election.

The Oxfam statement comes after Congo’s electoral commission delayed voting in the Ebola-affected eastern cities of Beni and Butembo until March. That’s well after Congo’s next president is inaugurated in January.

Acting Oxfam country director Raphael Mbuyi calls the situation “extremely worrying” because any suspension in efforts to contain the deadly Ebola virus has led to a spike in new cases.

Mbuyi adds, however, “it’s not surprising that people who have had their votes taken away at the last minute are frustrated and going to the streets. These people deserve to have their say as well.”


AP-NORC Poll: Most support gene editing to protect babies

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new poll finds most Americans support using gene-editing technology to create babies protected against a variety of diseases — but not to make children smarter, faster or taller.

Friday’s release of the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research comes a month after startling claims of the world’s first gene-edited births in China. It finds people torn between the medical promise of technology powerful enough to alter human heredity and concerns over how to use it ethically.

Most Americans favor one day using gene editing to prevent a variety of disorders a child otherwise would inherit, both fatal and non-fatal.

But the poll also uncovered fear that it will be used for unethical reasons — and won’t be affordable for the average person.


Tesla names Oracle’s Ellison to board in SEC settlement

NEW YORK (AP) — Tesla is naming Oracle’s Larry Ellison and an executive from Walgreens to its board as part of a settlement with U.S. regulators who demanded more oversight of CEO Elon Musk.

The company said Friday that Ellison and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson are the new independent directors, effective immediately.

Wilson-Thompson spent 17 years at Kellogg and is currently an executive with Walgreens Boots Alliance.

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Tesla CEO Elon Musk with misleading investors in August with a tweet that said he had “funding secured” for taking the company private. The two board members are part of the agreement reached with the SEC.


Jerry Brown wraps a 5-decade history in California politics

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown will leave office Jan. 7 after a record 16 years leading the nation’s most populous state.

The son of former Gov. Pat Brown first became governor at 36 and will leave at age 80.

He’s gone from an idealist who resisted the traditional trappings of money and power to a fiscally minded elder statesman known as a global leader on climate change.

Brown plans to retire to a ranch in rural Colusa County on property that once belonged to his great grandfather, a German immigrant.

He plans to keep advocating for urgent action on climate change and caution against the threats of nuclear annihilation on a global stage.


The Latest: Flash flooding, water rescues in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The head of emergency management in a southwestern Mississippi County says they had an “extreme flash flooding event” following heavy rains that hit the area.

Glen Moore says authorities have had to rescue residents from about 25 area homes. He says they received more than nine inches (23 centimeters) of rain starting from around 3 p.m. Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday.

He’s asking people to stay away from roads that are barricaded.

He says they had to rescue one man whose car was swept away after he went around a barricade intended to keep people from passing through a flooded road.

Moore says the man was able to get out of the car and hold onto a tree until authorities could get a boat to rescue him.



The Latest: Autopsy: Dead Guatemalan boy had influenza

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — New Mexico authorities say an autopsy performed on the 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died in U.S. custody shows he had the flu.

The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator says in a statement late Thursday that more tests need to be done before a cause of death can be determined for Felipe Gomez Alonzo.

Authorities say Felipe Gomez Alonzo died at a New Mexico hospital after suffering coughing, vomiting and a fever. Another Guatemalan child, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal, died in U.S. custody on Dec. 8. Both deaths are under investigation.


Deaths of police officers on duty on the rise in the US

WASHINGTON (AP) — More police officers have died in the line of duty this year in the United States than in 2017.

That’s according to data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The organization said in a report Thursday that 144 federal, state and local officers have died so far in 2018. That’s up from the 129 who died in 2017.

The majority of the officers who died were shot or fatally injured in car crashes. Other deaths involved heart attacks, drownings and cancer and other illnesses developed by responders to the World Trade Center attack.

The officers who died include a sheriff’s deputy in Sacramento County, California killed in a shootout, and a Greensboro, North Carolina police officer killed in a car crash while responding to a robbery call.

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