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    The top Senate Democrat says he now supports making pot legal under federal law. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer says he'll introduce a bill taking marijuana off the federal list of controlled substances — in effect decriminalizing its use. Instead, his bill would let states decide how to treat marijuana possession. Under the measure, the federal government would still enforce laws against moving pot into states where it's illegal and would still regulate advertising so it isn't aimed at children. Eight states and the District of Columbia now allow recreational use of marijuana, and a majority allow its use for medical purposes. The White House said last week that President Donald Trump backs legislation to protect the marijuana industry in states where it is legal.
  • Cynthia Nixon's quest for the governorship of New York state has at least one high-profile fan excited — Sarah Jessica Parker. Parker said Thursday her former 'Sex and the City' co-star would be 'right for New York.' The actress spoke briefly about Nixon's New York gubernatorial run on the red carpet for the world premiere of her new film, 'Blue Night' at the Tribeca Film Festival. Says Parker: 'I'm excited about her candidacy.' Then she added: 'I think she's been great for the conversation.
  • The U.S. Army will not meet its mission to recruit 80,000 active duty soldiers this year and has officially lowered the goal. But officials say the service has been able to encourage more experienced service members to stay on the job in order to satisfy the military's growing demand for troops. Army officials say the updated goal will be 76,500. Six months into the recruiting year the service has brought in just 28,000 new soldiers. Army officials are expected to provide more details on the issue later Friday. Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the main effort is to grow the Army to 483,500, as approved by Congress. And she said it's up to the Army to determine whether to use more recruiting or to get more soldiers to re-enlist and stay in the Army longer. The struggle to meet this year's higher recruiting numbers -- which were a significant hike over last year's recruiting mission of 69,000 -- was expected, mainly due to the favorable American economy and increased competition from private sector employers who are able to pay graduates more money. Maj. Gen. Jeff Snow, head of the Army's recruiting command, predicted late last year that the higher enlistment goal would be difficult to meet this year, considering the combination of economic factors and the military's need for recruits to pass strict physical testing that many young people can't complete. 'This mission is going to be a significant challenge for the command,' he told The Associated Press in December. Meeting the increased mission this year, Snow said, could force the Army to take in more recruits who require waivers for marijuana use, low test scores or other more basic health issues. Data on waivers issued this year was not available Friday morning. But, in December Snow said his goal for 2017 was to have fewer than 2 percent of the new recruits be considered 'category four,' meaning they scored 31 or less, out of 99, on the aptitude test. Army leaders have also endorsed that 2 percent limit, even though the Defense Department allows up to 4 percent. Smith said the competitive recruiting environment made it a challenge to meet the original goal. Military leaders have increasingly warned that lower unemployment, a strong economy and the declining quality of the youth market have steadily shrunk the number of young people considered eligible to be recruits. Defense officials have also complained that despite the last 16 years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the American public is increasingly disconnected from the military, and they say many people have misperceptions about serving and often don't personally know any service members. This time of year is usually the toughest for military recruiters, since this is the period when high school seniors start getting their acceptance letters from colleges. According to Smith, the 28,000 recruits as of March 31 is the highest total for the six-month period since 2014.
  • A German court has banned the consumption of alcohol at a planned neo-Nazi concert in hopes of preventing violence. The weekend festival in eastern Germany is expected to attract up to 1,000 far-right extremists from Germany, the neighboring Czech Republic and Poland. Authorities have been unable to stop the concert in the town of Ostritz from happening because it is taking place on private property. A regional administrative court in Dresden on Friday rejected an appeal of the alcoholic beverages ban by event organizers. Judges said the music would likely fire up the crowd and alcohol might make attendees more aggressive. Saxony's state police said they will strictly enforce the alcohol ban.
  • An audit of Facebook's privacy practices for the Federal Trade Commission found no problems even though the company knew at the time that a data-mining firm improperly obtained private data from millions of users. The audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers is available on the FTC's website, though it is heavily redacted. It covers February 12, 2015 to February 11, 2017. Facebook agreed to outside audits every two years as part of a 2011 settlement with the FTC over its privacy practices. It is not clear from the report, as posted online, whether the company informed PwC of the Cambridge Analytica issue. Representatives for Facebook and PwC did not immediately respond to messages for comment early Friday. The fact that PwC found no issues could raise questions about whether such audits are useful.
  • A Massachusetts family is looking for a new preschool for their 4-year-old daughter because her current school has barred use of the term 'best friend.' Christine Hartwell says her daughter, Julia, appeared sad recently when she came home from the Pentucket Workshop Preschool in Georgetown. The little girl told her mother she was upset because her teacher told her she couldn't call one of her classmates her 'best friend.' School officials did not comment. But, in a letter to the Hartwells they said, it had been their experience that the use of the term 'best friend,' even when used in a loving way, can lead some children feeling excluded. Hartwell called the ban 'outrageous' and 'silly.' She says children should be allowed to speak from their heart.
  • The major U.S. stock indexes fell in early trading Friday, adding to the market's modest losses a day earlier. Technology stocks accounted for a big slice of the slide. Energy companies also fell along with the price of crude oil. Banks rose as bond yields headed higher. KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,687 as of 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 35 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,629. The Nasdaq composite lost 41 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,196. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,570. TECH TUMBLE: Several technology companies were trading lower, extending the sector's losses this week. Apple fell 3.2 percent to $167.33. NOT PLAYING: Mattel slid 6.4 percent to $12.59 after the struggling toy maker replaced its CEO. SURPRISING RESULTS: General Electric climbed 4.4 percent to $14.61 after the conglomerate reported quarterly results that beat Wall Street's expectations. ENERGY: Crude oil prices fell as representatives from OPEC nations and allied oil ministers met in Saudi Arabia to discuss their agreement to maintain cuts to production in a bid to keep prices up. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 65 cents, or 1 percent, to $67.64 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 67 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $73.11 per barrel in London. The decline in oil prices pulled energy sector stocks lower. Range Resources lost 3 percent to $13.82. BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.93 percent from 2.91 percent late Thursday. The rise in bond yields helped push bank shares higher. When bond yields rise, they drive up interest rates on mortgages and other loans, which can translate into bigger profits for banks. KeyCorp added 2.1 percent to $19.96. CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.73 yen from 107.41 yen on Thursday. The euro fell to $1.2282 from $1.2337. The pound weakened to $1.4028 from $1.4078 after the Bank of England's governor cast some doubts about the possibility of a rate increase next month. MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX slipped 0.3 percent, while France's CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent. Asian stock indexes finished lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.9 percent.
  • Heir to the British throne Prince Charles was approved Friday as the next head of the Commonwealth of the U.K. and its former colonies, according to U.K. media reports. Leaders from the 53-nation Commonwealth, holding a private meeting at Windsor Castle near London, agreed Charles should one day succeed his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, the BBC and other outlets said. The Commonwealth was formed as Britain's former colonies gained their independence, and its first head was the queen's father, King George VI. Elizabeth has led the group since taking the throne in 1952. However, the position is not hereditary, and some people have suggested a non-royal leader would be more appropriate in the 21st century. The monarch — who turns 92 on Saturday — said Thursday that she hoped her son and heir would one day 'carry on the important work started by my father in 1949.' The British government backed Charles to succeed his mother, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he agreed 'very much' with the queen's wishes. The position is largely symbolic, but the queen's commitment has been a major force behind the survival of the Commonwealth. She has visited almost every member country, often multiple times, over her 66-year reign. Charles is a longtime champion of environmental causes, a priority for the Commonwealth. Its members include small island nations in the Caribbean and Pacific that are among the countries most vulnerable to rising seas, fiercer storms and other effects of global climate change. Protecting the world's oceans is high on the agenda at the Commonwealth meeting, alongside issues such as cybersecurity and trade. Britain has tried to use the biennial heads of government meeting to reinvigorate a disparate group that takes in 2.4 billion people on five continents but has struggled to carve out a firm place on the world stage. The U.K. also wants to lay the groundwork for new trade deals with Commonwealth nations after Britain leaves the European Union next year. But the summit has been overshadowed by uproar over the treatment by U.K. immigration authorities of some long-term British residents from the Caribbean. May and other government ministers have apologized repeatedly after it emerged that some people who settled in the U.K. in the decades after World War II had recently been refused medical care or threatened with deportation because they could not produce paperwork to show their right to reside in Britain. The government says they accidentally fell afoul of new measures intended to clamp down on illegal immigration. But opposition politicians say the treatment of the 'Windrush generation' — named for the ship Empire Windrush, which brought the first big group of post-war Caribbean immigrants to Britain in 1948 — is cause for national shame. The scandal deepened with the revelation that officials several years ago destroyed thousands of landing cards of postwar migrants, which could have helped people prove their status.
  • The World Health Organization says it has coordinated shipment of an experimental Ebola vaccine and drugs to treat a laboratory scientist in Hungary who caught the potentially deadly disease in an accident earlier this month. The U.N. health agency said in an emailed statement on Friday that Hungarian officials asked for help last week after a scientist working in a normally secure laboratory had an 'accidental exposure' to Ebola. WHO said it helped get the scientist immunized with an experimental vaccine. It also helped send two unlicensed drugs. WHO said the risk of Ebola spreading from the scientist is 'negligible' and that the scientist was immediately isolated in a Budapest hospital. It noted the person didn't have any symptoms. Ebola typically has a fatality rate of about 50 percent.
  • Lucy is a lover of long walks and a shared dinner of weeds, and she's looking for love. At least according to an ad the 2-year-old Embden goose's owner placed in a Facebook page last week. Brandy Hall tells The Sun Herald of Biloxi that she has taken it upon herself to find a suitable gander for Lucy. Lucy is currently enamored with Hall's Great Pyrenees, but the dog isn't very happy with the match. Hall says there haven't been many serious responses to her post so far, though someone did ask how much Lucy would cost. Hall says that she'd be happy even finding a friend for Lucy, but she'd like to see her find a lifelong mate. ___ Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com