Apple self-driving car in accident: California DMV filing

Apple self-driving car rear ended during road testing


(Reuters) – An Apple Inc (AAPL.O) self-driving car was rear-ended while merging onto an expressway near the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters this month, the company said in an accident report posted on Friday that confirmed the iPhone maker is still in the race to build autonomous vehicles.

FILE PHOTO: The company’s logo is seen outside Austria’s first Apple store, which opens on February 24, during a media preview in Vienna, Austria, February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

Apple executives have never publicly spoken about the company’s self-driving car program, but filings in a criminal court case last month confirmed that the company had at least 5,000 employees working on the project and that it was working on circuit boards and a “proprietary chip” related to self-driving cars.

Apple is entering a crowded field where rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Waymo unit and traditional carmakers such as General Motors Co’s (GM.N) Cruise Automation, as well as startups such as Silicon Valley’s Zoox, are pouring billions of dollars into cars that can drive themselves.

On Aug. 24, one of Apple’s Lexus RX 450h self-driving test vehicles in “autonomous mode” was merging south on the Lawrence Expressway in Sunnyvale, California at less than 1 mile per hour when it was rear-ended by a 2016 Nissan Leaf going about 15 miles per hour, according to the report posted on the California Department of Motor Vehicles website.

The accident happened at about 3 p.m. as the Apple vehicle had slowed and was waiting for a safe gap in traffic to complete the merge, the report said.

Both vehicles sustained damage but there were no injuries, the report said. Under a safety plan filed with California regulators, a human driver must be able to take control of Apple’s self-driving test cars.

An Apple spokesman confirmed that the company had filed the report but did not comment further. He declined to respond to questions about whether the trailing car could have been at fault.

Apple’s efforts remained shrouded in secrecy until years after its rivals like Google had begun testing on public roads. The iPhone maker’s first public acknowledgement of interest in the field came in a letter to U.S. transportation regulators in late 2016 urging them not to restrict testing of the vehicles.

Last year, Apple secured a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California. It has been testing cars on the road since last year and now has permits for more than 60 vehicles. Apple researchers also last year published their first public research on cars, a software system that could help spot pedestrians more readily.

The safety of self-driving cars has become a source of concern for U.S. transportation regulators this year after one of Uber Technologies Inc’s [UBER.UL] vehicles struck and killed a woman in March in Arizona, prompting the company to shut down its testing efforts for a time. Uber has said it plans to have self-driving cars back on the road by the end of the year.

The California DMV said it has received it has received 95 autonomous vehicle collision reports as of Aug. 31. Dozens of companies have received permits to test self-driving vehicles on California roads, but those permits require the presence of a human safety driver.

Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee and Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Richard Chang and Cynthia Osterman



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Adidas unveils new 3D printed sneaker

How 3D printing could help save us from trade wars (Opinion)


3D printing is a process whereby a specialized printer repeatedly deposits thin layers of material to form a product in three dimensions. These printers can make almost any kind of shape by simply adjusting the software file for the specific product. And in recent years, 3D printing has become cost-competitive with conventional manufacturing for many kinds of products.

Suppose you’re a US company with a hot new product under development. In the past, you probably would have built a big new factory in Asia to make the product, or worked with a contract manufacturer there, along with specialist suppliers around the world.

Now, thanks to 3D printing, many companies can circumvent all the risks of a global supply chain by making most or all of their product in single smaller plants in almost any major market. Distribution costs and currency risks are reduced, and companies are insulated from trade battles. The only tariffs to pay would be on materials for the 3D printing process that need to be imported.

Of course, 3D printing isn’t practical for every industry, at least in the near future, but it is likely to spread to most of the manufacturing economy.

Over time, this localized production is likely to pay dividends not just in circumvented tariffs, but also in greater responsiveness to customers. That’s because each small factory would have a sales force that continually sends messages about the local market’s responses to the product.

With conventional manufacturing, companies can’t adjust a product until the next scheduled upgrade, because it’s expensive to redo assembly lines. But with flexible 3D printers, they can often adjust a product simply by rewriting some of the software file for that particular product.

These “additive factories” can respond to local consumer preferences much faster than their conventional counterparts with long supply chains. That responsiveness could become a major competitive advantage, which could drive the localization of manufacturing ever further. There would be fewer and fewer industries that have to worry about trade wars. Countries will still inflict tariffs and other barriers on agriculture and other commodities, but the danger to the world economy will be far less.

This distributed manufacturing will also be better for economic development. The current global trading system assumes that countries become wealthy by specializing according to comparative advantage. But most of the poor countries that have followed this approach, including many countries in Africa and South America, have had disappointing records on growth. By contrast, East Asian countries that erected trade barriers and built competitive companies in a range of industries have prospered. By shifting to 3D printing, many of these underindustrialized countries could jumpstart their manufacturing efforts and boost their technological capabilities.
Success in one industry can quickly spread to other industries. Suppose a company starts making household appliances. If it succeeds, it can readily expand to adjacent metal industries, such as lawn equipment, bicycles, or eventually even cars. Printers for one industry can be shifted to supplying another industry, as General Electric is starting to show with its multi-divisional plant in Chakan, India. If demand for one product falls while another takes off, the factory can shift most of its printers to create that product — again, without relying on complex supply chains. Industry lines will blur.
Jabil Circuit, one of the largest contract manufacturers in the world, is already using 3D printers to optimize its far-flung supply chains. For each product, it is preparing digital 3D printing files that can be easily sent from one factory to another. So if tariffs suddenly change, they can quickly shift production from a factory, say, in Asia to one in California, or vice versa. Likewise, Adidas is using 3D printing at its new Speedfactory in Germany to shorten its supply chains and bring production back from Asia. Siemens recently launched its Additive Manufacturing Network, partly to better localize manufacturing.
In order for factories to handle products from multiple industries, companies need sophisticated software platforms to manage the resulting complexity. GE, Jabil, SAP, and other advanced manufacturers are building these platforms and making them available to interested customers.

This pan-industrial approach would enable countries to rapidly diversify their economies. It doesn’t matter where a pan-industrial company is headquartered; what matters is the expertise and capabilities developed in each country or local market.

It will take a few years for companies to make the deep switch to 3D printing and reduce their dependence on global supply chains. Until then, the trade war is going to inflict damage on some companies in the United States and elsewhere. But these temporary policy dislocations should not blind us from the long-term prospects of technology capabilities that are already within reach, and nimble enough to withstand shifting Washington trade policy.



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U.N. Palestinian refugees agency voices regret, surprise at U.S. halting funds


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees said a U.S. decision on Friday to halt funding was disappointing and surprising, and rejected the U.S. assertion that its programs were irredeemably flawed.

“We reject in the strongest possible terms the criticism that UNRWA’s schools, health centers, and emergency assistance programs are ‘irredeemably flawed,’” Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said in a series of Twitter posts.

Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Sandra Maler



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No time for new North Carolina voting maps, groups tell court

No time for new North Carolina voting maps, groups tell court


(Reuters) – Groups who successfully sued North Carolina over Republican-constructed congressional maps that a court ruled to be illegally drawn for partisan purposes said on Friday there is not enough time to put in place new lines ahead of the November elections.

FILE PHOTO: Visitors wait to enter the U.S. Supreme Court, as the Court sent back to a lower court a decision that Republicans in North Carolina had drawn congressional district boundaries to give their party an unfair advantage, in Washington, U.S., June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan/File Photo

The groups’ filing in federal court in North Carolina complicates an already difficult situation over maps that have been contested for years and could affect a Democratic push to wrest control of the U.S. House of Representatives from Republicans.

“Plaintiffs have concluded that a statewide redistricting just weeks before Election Day would not be a good-government solution,” the North Carolina Democratic Party, Common Cause, and League of Women Voters said in their filing.

On Monday, a three-judge panel for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ruled that Republican legislators responsible for the map conducted unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering to dilute the impact of Democratic votes. They gave parties until Friday to present fixes.

Defendants, who included state Republican leaders, did not offer any remedy in their own filing and instead laid out the logistical difficulties in making changes.

In their decision, the judges did not rule out allowing the current maps to be used in the election.

The North Carolina dispute centered on a congressional redistricting plan adopted by the Republican-led legislature in 2016 after a court found that Republican lawmakers improperly used race as a factor when redrawing certain U.S. House districts after the 2010 census.

The Republican lawmaker in charge of the plan said it was crafted to maintain Republican dominance because “electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats.”

Republicans in 2016 won 10 of the 13 House districts – 77 percent – despite getting just 53 percent of the statewide vote, nearly the same result as in 2014.

Nationally, Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to gain a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives that could thwart Republican President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda.

North Carolina State House Rules Chairman David Lewis, a Republican, called on the court to put its ruling on hold.

Among the suggestions from the judges was holding state nominating primaries in November with new district lines that remove illegal partisan bias and then holding a general election before the new U.S. Congress is seated in January.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Bill Tarrant and Leslie Adler



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Aretha Franklin's gospel roots celebrated at Queen of Soul's funeral

Aretha Franklin’s gospel roots celebrated at Queen of Soul’s funeral


DETROIT (Reuters) – A Detroit church swelled with the sound of gospel music on Friday as family, friends and fans of Aretha Franklin bid rousing farewell to the Queen of Soul at a funeral that featured tributes by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and singer Stevie Wonder.

“Come on, this is a church service, lift your voice!” Bishop Charles Ellis III, the officiant, exhorted the congregation at the Greater Grace Temple, as the choir and orchestra swayed behind him.

The crowd grew louder, its ranks bolstered by the powerful voices of Gladys Knight, Jennifer Hudson, Chaka Khan, Shirley Caesar and Ariana Grande, who came to pay musical tribute to Franklin following her death on Aug. 16 at age 76.

Before the golden casket was closed at the top of a service, Franklin’s body could be seen dressed in gold sequins. More than eight music-filled hours later, Stevie Wonder took to the stage to close out the ceremony with a performance of his song “As,” the crowd joining him in its refrain: “I’ll be lovin’ you always.”

“She had the voice of a generation, maybe the voice of a century,” Clinton said, describing himself as a Franklin “groupie” long before he became president. Ending his remarks, Clinton held the microphone to his smartphone and played Franklin’s 1968 hit “Think” over the church’s speakers.

Civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were onstage to honor Franklin’s contributions to black empowerment, sharing front-row seats with Louis Farrakhan, the black nationalist and Nation of Islam leader. Sharpton took to the pulpit to laud Franklin for providing the soundtrack of the movement, with songs such as her signature 1967 hit “Respect.”

(L-R) Louis FarrakhanAl Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and former U.S. President Bill Clinton attend the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., August 31, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

“She was a black woman in a white man’s world,” Sharpton said, as mourners cheered. “She was rooted in the black church, she was bathed in the black church, and she took the black church downtown and made folks that didn’t know what the Holy Ghost was shout in the middle of a concert.”

Franklin was recalled as both an American institution, who sang at the presidential inaugurations of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and as an aunt and grandmother, who took her young relatives shopping or to see Disney on Ice shows.

“Nothing sounded better to me than the way my grandma sings,” Victorie Franklin said.

Smokey Robinson, the Motown singer and a long-time friend, crooned a few lines of his song “Really Gonna Miss You.” Ariana Grande belted out “Natural Woman” while Gladys Knight took on “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” An ensemble performance of “Precious Lord” so moved the congregation that the officiant told the orchestra to keep vamping as clergy danced on the stage, expanding a program that by then was already running two hours behind schedule.

The funeral had been billed as closed to the public, but crowds of fans gathered outside, many dressed in their Sunday best. “This is as close you get to royalty here in America and Aretha earned every bit of it,” said Missy Settlers, 53, an automotive parts assembler. Some fans were admitted into the church to sit behind Franklin’s family.

Franklin, who died at her Detroit home from pancreatic cancer, began her musical career as a child singing gospel at the city’s New Bethel Baptist Church.

The city has treated her death as the passing of royalty, with Franklin’s body laying in repose in the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History for two days of public visitation earlier this week.

Slideshow (18 Images)

Her coffin is to be entombed in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery near the remains of her father; her brother, Cecil Franklin; and her sisters, Carolyn and Erma Franklin.

Reporting by Nick Carey in Detroit and Jonathan Allen in New York; writing by Jonathan Allen; editing by Bill Berkrot, Bill Trott, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman



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Aretha Franklin's gospel roots celebrated at Queen of Soul's funeral

Aretha Franklin’s gospel roots celebrated at Queen of Soul’s funeral


DETROIT (Reuters) – A Detroit church swelled with the sound of gospel music on Friday as family, friends and fans of Aretha Franklin bid rousing farewell to the Queen of Soul at a funeral that featured tributes by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and singer Stevie Wonder.

“Come on, this is a church service, lift your voice!” Bishop Charles Ellis III, the officiant, exhorted the congregation at the Greater Grace Temple, as the choir and orchestra swayed behind him.

The crowd grew louder, its ranks bolstered by the powerful voices of Gladys Knight, Jennifer Hudson, Chaka Khan, Shirley Caesar and Ariana Grande, who came to pay musical tribute to Franklin following her death on Aug. 16 at age 76.

Before the golden casket was closed at the top of a service, Franklin’s body could be seen dressed in gold sequins. More than eight music-filled hours later, Stevie Wonder took to the stage to close out the ceremony with a performance of his song “As,” the crowd joining him in its refrain: “I’ll be lovin’ you always.”

“She had the voice of a generation, maybe the voice of a century,” Clinton said, describing himself as a Franklin “groupie” long before he became president. Ending his remarks, Clinton held the microphone to his smartphone and played Franklin’s 1968 hit “Think” over the church’s speakers.

Civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were onstage to honor Franklin’s contributions to black empowerment, sharing front-row seats with Louis Farrakhan, the black nationalist and Nation of Islam leader. Sharpton took to the pulpit to laud Franklin for providing the soundtrack of the movement, with songs such as her signature 1967 hit “Respect.”

(L-R) Louis FarrakhanAl Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and former U.S. President Bill Clinton attend the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., August 31, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

“She was a black woman in a white man’s world,” Sharpton said, as mourners cheered. “She was rooted in the black church, she was bathed in the black church, and she took the black church downtown and made folks that didn’t know what the Holy Ghost was shout in the middle of a concert.”

Franklin was recalled as both an American institution, who sang at the presidential inaugurations of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and as an aunt and grandmother, who took her young relatives shopping or to see Disney on Ice shows.

“Nothing sounded better to me than the way my grandma sings,” Victorie Franklin said.

Smokey Robinson, the Motown singer and a long-time friend, crooned a few lines of his song “Really Gonna Miss You.” Ariana Grande belted out “Natural Woman” while Gladys Knight took on “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” An ensemble performance of “Precious Lord” so moved the congregation that the officiant told the orchestra to keep vamping as clergy danced on the stage, expanding a program that by then was already running two hours behind schedule.

The funeral had been billed as closed to the public, but crowds of fans gathered outside, many dressed in their Sunday best. “This is as close you get to royalty here in America and Aretha earned every bit of it,” said Missy Settlers, 53, an automotive parts assembler. Some fans were admitted into the church to sit behind Franklin’s family.

Franklin, who died at her Detroit home from pancreatic cancer, began her musical career as a child singing gospel at the city’s New Bethel Baptist Church.

The city has treated her death as the passing of royalty, with Franklin’s body laying in repose in the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History for two days of public visitation earlier this week.

Slideshow (18 Images)

Her coffin is to be entombed in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery near the remains of her father; her brother, Cecil Franklin; and her sisters, Carolyn and Erma Franklin.

Reporting by Nick Carey in Detroit and Jonathan Allen in New York; writing by Jonathan Allen; editing by Bill Berkrot, Bill Trott, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman



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Disney World workers reach tentative agreement on wages

Disney World workers reach tentative agreement on wages


(Reuters) – Walt Disney World workers have reached a tentative agreement with parent Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) regarding wages, union body International Brotherhood of Teamsters said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Security officers staff the entrance at the Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, U.S. June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Barbara Liston/File Photo

The union said the tentative deal will be voted on next week and a contract will be in effect until October 1, 2022 if approved.

If ratified, Disney World workers will receive a minimum of $4.75 in wage increases over the lifetime of the contract, with everyone at the resort getting a minimum increase of $2.50 by March 6, 2019.

Employees will also receive retroactive pay back to September 24, 2017, and a bonus of $1,000.

By 2021, all employees will be at a minimum starting rate of $15, the union said.

The contract follows a year of negotiations with the company and the Service Trades Council Union, a coalition of Teamsters Local 385 and five other unions who represent more than 39,000 workers at Walt Disney World.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber



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Lobbyist reaches plea deal connected to Russia and Ukraine work

Lobbyist reaches plea deal connected to Russia and Ukraine work


This is the first time the Justice Department has publicly charged a person for helping a foreigner secretly funnel money into a Trump political event. Under his deal with prosecutors, Patten is charged only with one criminal count. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the felony charge. A sentencing date has not been set.

Patten sought tickets to Trump’s inauguration on behalf of an unnamed prominent Ukrainian oligarch, according to court documents released Friday, ultimately paying $50,000 for four tickets. Patten used another American as a “straw purchaser,” funneling the Ukrainian’s money secretly to the inaugural committee through a Cypriot bank account.

“Patten was aware at the time that the Presidential Inauguration Committee could not accept money from foreign nationals,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.

Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer, told reporters Friday Patten’s case had nothing to do with his client.

“It turned about to be this irrelevant indictment, where I think Mueller has turned out to be a private prosecutor,” Giuliani said. “What does this have to do with President Trump? Not a single thing. It has nothing to do with collusion, some guy who donated to the inauguration? My goodness,they had 500,000 people donate to the inauguration — every time they get a speeding ticket is Mueller going to do it?”

CNN previously reported that Russian oligarchs have also been questioned about donations to the Trump campaign and inauguration.

Guilty for Lobbying

Overall, Patten, 47, was paid more than $1 million for his Ukrainian opposition bloc work including meeting with members of the executive branch, Senate Foreign Relations Committee members and members of Congress, according to a charging document filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday. He also worked with an unnamed Russian — believed to be former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s close associate Konstantin Kilimnik — to place op-ed articles in US media in 2017, the Justice Department says.

DC judge and Manafort team already clashing in court

The plea deal was handled by the DC US Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s National Security Division, not Mueller’s team, which is about to take former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to trial on a similar charge.

The criminal charging document does not name Manafort or any of his colleagues in the US and Ukraine, though Patten’s efforts from 2014 on may be connected to those efforts.

Kilimnik, a Russian national with ties to the Russian military intelligence group accused of interfering in the presidential election, has close professional ties to both Patten and Manafort as they worked for the same Ukrainian political interests.

Kilimnik was among the alleged co-conspirators that helped Manafort hide his Ukrainian consulting income in foreign bank accounts, according to documents revealed at Manafort’s trial for financial crimes earlier this month. Mueller’s prosecutors charged Kilimnik and Manafort in June in a separate federal court with witness tampering, after Kilimnik reached out to potential witnesses in Manafort foreign lobbying case. Kilimnik has not entered a plea in his case, because he is living in Moscow, prosecutors say. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the foreign lobbying charges, and those criminal allegations do not reach past 2015.

Kilimnik co-ran a company with Patten, called Begemot Ventures International, according to business records. According to the court filing in the Patten case Friday, Patten and Foreigner A “formed a company in the United States and were 50-50 partners. Beginning in or around 2015, Company A, among other things, advised the Opposition Bloc and members of that part.”

As part of his plea, Patten agreed to cooperate with both Mueller’s office and prosecutors from the DC US Attorney’s Office going forward, including turning over documents and testifying at future grand jury hearings or criminal trials.

Lying to Congress

Patten admitted to lying to the US Senate Intelligence Committee in January this year about the inauguration tickets. While testifying, he attempted to hide his connections to the Ukrainian oligarch and the Russian national with whom he worked, prosecutors said.

Patten “intentionally did not provide” the committee documents related to the Ukrainian oligarch’s purchase of four Trump inaugural tickets and lied to the Senate Committee about his foreign lobbying work. He also deleted documents “pertinent to his relationships” with the foreign political interests, according to the Justice Department prosecutors.

Senate intelligence Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chairman Mark Warner said they referred Patten to the Justice Department.

“We can confirm that Mr. Patten produced documents to the Committee and was interviewed by Committee staff,” the senators said in a statement. “Due to concerns about certain statements made by Mr. Patten, the Committee made a criminal referral to the Department of Justice. While the charge, and resultant plea, do not appear to directly involve our referral, we appreciate their review of this matter.”

Court appearance

Patten appeared in court Friday morning before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the same judge who is handling Manafort’s trial that is scheduled to begin next month.

In court, Patten conveyed the air of a solemn man aware of what he had done.

As Berman Jackson asked him several questions about his willfulness to plead guilty and the rights he will waive, Patten answered her slowly and clearly each time: “Yes, your honor,” “I understand, your honor,” “I do, your honor.”

In a blue shirt and navy suit and tie, the lifelong Washingtonian stood before the judge, nodding often as she spoke to him.

Patten only appeared to stumble in his speech when asked for his plea.

“I would — I plead guilty to the charge,” Patten said to the judge.

Berman Jackson confirmed that he had signed every page of his plea agreement and charging documents with “a squiggle.”

A prosecutor from the DC US Attorney’s Office read the charging document made public Friday before the hearing, almost word for word. He added no new details when describing Patten’s criminal offense, though he added the words more than once that Patten “was working as a foreign agent of the Opposition Bloc.”

The Ukrainian political party, called the Opposition Bloc, had deep ties to Russia in the period in which Patten represented them, including many allies of the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The political party formed from the remnants of Yanukovych’s base after he was driven out of Ukraine in 2014 and fled to Russia.

Patten’s defense attorney declined to comment following the hearing.

The 35-minute court proceeding was sparsely attended by members of the press and court employees, yet members of Mueller’s special counsel’s office filled a front row of seats. They were lead Manafort prosecutor Andrew Weissmann and FBI agents Omer Meisel and Brock Domin.

After the hearing ended, Weissmann spent several minutes greeting Patten’s defense attorney, Stuart Sears, and two prosecutors from other Justice Department offices on the case. Patten stood waiting with his hands crossed in front of him without a smile, and he shook Meisel’s hand.

Spokesmen from the special counsel’s office and DC US Attorney’s Office declined to comment further about the case.

Patten will not be detained until his sentencing. But he will need to give up his passport and must ask the judge for permission to travel outside the Washington metro area. He also must continue to see a psychiatrist or therapist, which he said he currently does regularly for depression and anxiety treatment, and he must avoid alcohol, the judge ordered.

Berman Jackson also spoke on the rarity of a foreign lobbying prosecution. There is no sentencing guideline for this type of case and no analogous guidelines the court can use to determine Patten’s sentence.

“That’s a little complicated,” Berman Jackson said when discussing his potential sentence. “I don’t usually have to go into all that.”

The prosecutors and defense will give the court a status update in 60 days on Patten’s case.

CNN’s Jeremy Herb, Sara Murray, Caroline Kelly and Evan Perez contributed to this report.



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Trump administration to drop funding next week for U.N. body helping Palestinians

U.S. halts funding to U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees


WASHINGTON/RAMALLAH (Reuters) – The United States on Friday halted all funding to a U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees in a decision further heightening tensions between the Palestinian leadership and the Trump administration.

FILE PHOTO: A Palestinian woman takes part in a protest against possible reductions of the services and aid offered by United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in front of UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City August 16, 2015. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the decision as “a flagrant assault against the Palestinian people and a defiance of U.N. resolutions.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the business model and fiscal practices of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) were an “irredeemably flawed operation.”

“The administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA,” she said in a statement.

Nauert said the agency’s “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years.”

The latest announcement comes a week after the administration said it would redirect $200 million in Palestinian economic support funds for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

UNRWA did not immediately comment on the U.S. decision.

The 68-year-old agency says it provides services to about 5 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza. Most are descendants of people who were driven out of their homes or fled the fighting in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his aides say they want to improve the Palestinians’ plight, as well as start negotiations on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

But under Trump, Washington has taken a number of actions that have alienated the Palestinians, including the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That move was a reversal of longtime U.S. policy and led Palestinian leadership to boycott the Washington peace efforts being led by Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law.

The United States paid out $60 million to UNRWA in January, withholding another $65 million, from a promised $365 million for the year.

“NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION”

“Such a punishment will not succeed to change the fact that the United States no longer has a role in the region and that it is not a part of the solution,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah told Reuters.

He said “neither the United States nor anybody else will be able to dissolve” UNRWA.

In Gaza, the Islamist group Hamas condemned the U.S move as a “grave escalation against the Palestinian people.”

“The American decision aims to wipe out the right of return and is a grave U.S escalation against the Palestinian people,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

He told Reuters the “U.S leadership has become an enemy of our people and of our nation and we will not surrender before such unjust decisions.”

Earlier on Friday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany would increase its contributions to UNRWA because the funding crisis was fueling uncertainty. “The loss of this organization could unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction,” Maas said.

UNRWA has faced a cash crisis since the United States, long its biggest donor, slashed funding earlier this year, saying the agency needed to make unspecified reforms and calling on the Palestinians to renew peace talks with Israel.

The last Palestinian-Israeli peace talks collapsed in 2014, partly because of Israel’s opposition to an attempted unity pact between the Fatah and Hamas Palestinian factions and to Israeli settlement building on occupied land that Palestinians seek for a state.

Nauert said the United States would intensify talks with the United Nations, the region’s governments and international stakeholders that could involve bilateral U.S. assistance for Palestinian children.

“We are very mindful of and deeply concerned regarding the impact upon innocent Palestinians, especially school children, of the failure of UNRWA and key members of the regional and international donor community to reform and reset the UNRWA way of doing business,” she said.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told Reuters earlier this month that UNRWA’s support would be needed as long as the parties failed to reach an agreement to end the crisis.

“UNRWA does not perpetuate the conflict, the conflict perpetuates UNRWA,” he said. “It is the failure of the political parties to resolve the refugee situation which perpetuates the continued existence of UNRWA.”

Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Stephen Farrell in Jerusalem; editing by Yara Bayoumy and Bill Trott



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