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Democrats who control the Illinois General Assembly have approved followup clarifications to their watershed criminal justice overhaul. The proposal passed Thursday appeases critics by adding numerous offenses to a list of crimes that qualify a defendant to remain jailed while awaiting trial. The House approved it after the Senate on the last day of the fall session and before the Jan. 1 effective date of the so-called SAFE-T Act. The act chiefly eliminates the longstanding practice of requiring cash bail for criminal defendants. Critics say bail penalizes the poor and  the goal is to detain dangerous people awaiting trial while not locking up those who pose no threat but can’t afford bail.

Barack Obama is urging Georgia Democrats to keep pushing voting turnout for Sen. Raphael Warnock. The former president and the senator rallied Thursday in Atlanta ahead of Warnock's Tuesday runoff with Republican challenger Herschel Walker. Voters have already cast more than 1.4 million ballots in the final contest of the 2022 midterms. Warnock is looking to juice an apparent Democratic head start with the largest event of his four-week runoff blitz. Democrats are pushing to bank as many votes as possible while Republicans including Walker have taken a less aggressive approach that could leave Walker heavily dependent on runoff Election Day turnout.

Presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron have vowed to maintain a united front against Russia amid growing worries about waning support for Ukraine in the U.S. and Europe. Biden on Thursday also signaled that he may be willing to tweak aspects of his signature climate legislation that have raised concerns with France and other European allies. While Biden honored Macron with a fancy state dinner Thursday evening, the glamour and pomp of the visit has been shadowed by Macron’s criticism of Biden’s climate legislation and the challenges both leaders face amid the mounting costs of keeping military and economic aid flowing to Kyiv.

A prosecutor says Donald Trump “knew exactly what was going on” with top Trump Organization executives who schemed for years to dodge taxes on company-paid perks. The argument challenges defense claims that the former president was unaware of the plot at the heart of the company’s tax fraud case. Manhattan prosecutor Joshua Steinglass lobbed the bombshell allegation during closing arguments Thursday. He promised to share more details when he resumes on Friday, buoyed by the judge’s decision to grant prosecutors permission to veer into territory that had been considered off limits because Trump is not on trial.

The College Football Playoff says it will expand to a 12-team event starting in 2024. The announcement came after the Rose Bowl agreed to amend its contract for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. That was the last hurdle CFP officials needed cleared to expand the four-team format. The expansion is expected to produce about $450 million in additional gross revenue for the conferences and schools that participate. The plan to expand the playoff was unveiled publicly in June 2021 and it took 18 months of haggling and delays to finally complete.

An ex-convict who led Las Vegas police on a chase before officers found the severed head and dismembered body of his friend in a stolen vehicle a year ago was sentenced Thursday to at least 18 years in prison. Eric Holland called himself truly remorseful for the shooting death of Richard Miller. But that provided little comfort to Miller’s daughter, who tearfully told a judge she couldn't make sense of her father's killing. Holland is 58. He could serve up to 45 years behind bars. Without providing details, he suggested in court there was more to the case and said he hoped authorities would continue investigating his motive for the killing.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk said his Neuralink company is seeking permission to test its brain implant in people soon. During a presentation Wednesday, he said his team is in the process of asking U.S. regulators to allow them to test the device in people. He says he thinks that might happen in about about six months, though that timeline is far from certain. His company's efforts are part of the growing field of brain-computer interface technology, which has been making strides in various arenas. Musk said the first two applications would be restoring vision and helping people who can't use their muscles operate digital devices.

Bexar County prosecutors say a former San Antonio police officer has been indicted by a grand jury for shooting and wounding a 17-year-old as the teen put his car in reverse while eating a hamburger. The 28-year-old rookie officer, James Brennand, faces two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and one count of attempted murder. Brennand was fired and charged with the two counts of aggravated assault after shooting Erik Cantu on Oct. 2 in a McDonald’s parking lot. Cantu was released from the hospital last week. Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales announced the indictments on Thursday.

The 22-year-old man charged with first-degree murder in the case of a University of Mississippi student who has been missing since early July was released on a $250,000 bond Thursday. Sheldon Timothy Herrington Jr. faces a murder charge for the suspected killing of 20-year-old Jimmie “Jay” Lee. Third Circuit Court District Attorney Ben Creekmore and Herrington’s defense attorney reached an agreement for Herrington to become eligible for bond while surrendering his passport and wearing an ankle monitor. Lee was well-known in Oxford’s LGBTQ community. His body has yet to be found after his July 8 disappearance. Legal proceedings are ongoing, and Herrington will face a grand jury.

Legislation to avert a freight rail strike in the United States is headed to President Joe Biden's desk. A bill to avoid the strike won final approval Thursday, clearing the Senate in a bipartisan vote. The bill will bind rail companies and workers to a proposed settlement that was reached between the rail companies and union leaders in September. That settlement had been rejected by four of the 12 unions involved, creating the possibility of a strike. The Senate vote was 80-15 and came one day after the House voted to impose the agreement. Biden has vowed to sign it quickly.

President Joe Biden's first White House state dinner is drawing some big names from the worlds of entertainment, politics, business and fashion to celebrate French President Emmanuel Macron. The official guest list includes late-night TV talk-show host Stephen Colbert, “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, actors Jennifer Garner, Ariana DeBose and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and singer John Legend and his wife, Chrissy Teigen. Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was there, as was House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who hopes to succeed Pelosi. The 300 invited guests passed through the White House before heading outside to a heated party tent on the South Lawn.

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New Mexico’s judiciary is expanding access to court-scribe services that ensure people with limited literacy or disabilities can still fill out crucial court forms. Pilot efforts were conducted previously in Bernalillo, Roosevelt and Curry counties. Supreme Court Chief Justice Shannon Bacon on Thursday announced the service will be extended across the state. Under the program, trained court employees or volunteers read court forms aloud and write down answers for people who would otherwise have difficulties. Experts say court forms often can be barrier to people who representing themselves in routine civil litigation matters. Nearly 10% of New Mexico residents acknowledge limited English proficiency.

President Joe Biden is trying to allay concerns raised by French President Emmanuel Macron about a clean energy law that benefits electric vehicles and other products made in North America. But a dispute with Europe over the landmark law persists. Biden acknowledged on Thursday that the law contains “glitches” but said “there are tweaks we can make” to satisfy France and other European allies. Macron,  who spoke with Biden at the White House, has made clear that he and other European leaders are concerned about incentives in the law, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, that favor clean energy technology made in North America, including electric vehicles.

An attorney told a federal judge that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wasn’t seeking political retaliation when he removed a prosecutor over abortion and transgender views, but simply wanted to ensure the state's laws would be enforced. Lawyers for Andrew Warren disagreed, saying DeSantis’ actions were based on what Warren said and believed and not on his competence as a prosecutor. The Democrat sued DeSantis after being suspended from his twice-elected post as state attorney in Hillsborough County. A three-day trial concluded Thursday. U.S. Judge Hinkle says he won't have a ruling for at least two weeks.

A federal appeals court has halted an independent review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate, removing a hurdle the Justice Department said had delayed its criminal investigation into the retention of top-secret government information. The decision by the three-judge panel represents a significant win for federal prosecutors, clearing the way for them to use as part of their investigation the entire tranche of documents seized during an Aug. 8 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. It also rejects the arguments of Trump’s lawyers, who had said the former president was entitled to have a so-called “special master” conduct a neutral review of the thousands of documents taken from the property.

Immigrant rights organizations are suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials over the constitutionality of the state's migrant relocation program. The suit was filed Thursday by Florida Immigrant Coalition, Americans for Immigrant Justice and Hope Community Center. Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature approved a $12 million budget item to relocate people in the country illegally from Florida to another location. The money came from interest earned from federal funds given to Florida under the American Rescue Plan. The lawsuit claims that the appropriation creates an incoherent definition of “unauthorized alien” that is inconsistent with federal immigration laws.

Voters in Oregon passed one of the nation's toughest gun control laws, but the new permit-to-purchase mandate is facing a legal challenge with days to go before it takes effect. A federal judge in Portland will hear oral arguments about whether to put a hold on the law after a joint lawsuit from a gun rights group, a sheriff and a gun store owner. Measure 114 requires new gun buyers to attend a hands-on gun safety course in order to get a permit to buy a new firearm. The law also bans magazines over 10 rounds starting Dec. 8.

Members of the United Auto Workers union appear to favor replacing many of their current leaders in an election that stemmed from a federal bribery and embezzlement scandal involving former union officials. Reform-minded candidates are leading in multiple key positions with just over 56% of the vote in. Many challengers campaigned on rescinding concessions made to companies in previous contract talks. That could raise costs for General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, and almost inevitably will drive up already expensive auto prices. With tallies from five of nine UAW regions counted, international UAW official Shawn Fain was leading a five-candidate field in the race for president with 40.1% of the vote. Incumbent President Ray Curry was second at 36.3%.

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