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    Mexico's economy secretary has proposed yet another round of talks with the United States on a dispute over Mexico's energy sector.  Mexico hopes to stave off a full-fledged trade complaint under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. The United States says Mexico is unfairly favoring its state-owned electricity and oil companies over American competitors and clean-energy suppliers. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai appears willing to keep talking, but her office says she  “underscored the urgency of prompt and meaningful progress" at a Thursday meeting. The two countries also appear headed for another commercial dispute over a Mexican ban on imports of genetically modified yellow corn.

      The Prince and Princess of Wales have visited a green technology startup incubator in suburban Boston and a nonprofit that gives young people the tools to stay out jail and away from violence. William and Kate are in the United States for their first overseas visit since the death of Queen Elizabeth II. On Thursday, they heard about solar-powered autonomous boats and low-carbon cement at the incubator Greentown Labs. The royal couple’s trip comes as they look to foster new ways to address climate change. It culminates Friday with the prince’s signature Earthshot Prize, a global competition aimed at finding new ways to tackle climate change.

        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.

          If you’ve ever had trouble solving a Rubik’s Cube, a good piece of advice is to break it down into steps. It’s worth a shot: That advice is from the man who made it. Ernő Rubik invented the cube in 1974 and has seen his color-matching puzzle go from a classroom teaching tool in Hungary to a worldwide phenomenon with over 450 million cubes sold and a mini-empire of related toys. The latest brain-teaser is called the Phantom, which takes the 3x3 original cube and adds a memory test: Using thermochromic technology, the tiles revert to black unless the heat of the user’s hand keeps them visible.

            Spain’s government has pledged to invest 350 million euros ($368 million) in the country's Doñana wetlands. Ecologists have been clamoring for more action to help the UNESCO world heritage site that experts say is dying due to the misuse of water and climate change. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced the pledge on Thursday when he visited the Doñana National Park. A European Union court ruled last year that Spanish authorities had failed in their duty to protect the wetlands that are a stopover spot for millions of birds migrating from Africa to northern Europe. The World Wildlife Fund applauded the investment but demanded more from regional authorities to control the illegal extraction of water.

            Most railroad workers weren't surprised that Congress intervened this week to block a railroad strike, but they were disappointed because they say the deals lawmakers imposed didn't do enough to address their quality of life concerns about demanding schedules and the lack of paid sick time. Railroad workers face difficult tradeoffs that sometimes force them to skip doctor's appointments or miss family events. The railroads acknowledge that more needs to be done to address workers' “work-life balance concerns," but managers believe these new contracts should help create more predictable schedules. And the five-year deals include 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses.

            A 25-year-old Moorhead, Minnesota man has been arrested in southeast North Dakota after a woman was found dead in her house in Moorhead. The man, who was arrested Friday in Wahpeton, was being held in jail in Richland County, North Dakota. Family members were checking on the woman at her residence Thursday when they found her body. The cause and manner of death have yet to be determined by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office. Police are not releasing her identity.


            A Bismarck woman accused of pointing a gun at a man as her companion held a knife to his throat and told him to drive them to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation has been sentenced to two years in prison.

            North Dakota lawmakers will return to Bismarck next week to prepare for the 2023 Legislature. The three-day organizational session that begins Monday includes appointment to committees and briefings on legislative procedures and ethics. It also includes such mundane tasks as filling out paperwork and desk selection. The session concludes Wednesday, shortly after Gov. Doug Burgum presents his two-year budget recommendations to a joint session of the House and Senate. The Legislative session begins Jan. 3. The 2021 Legislature adjourned after 76 days, just short of the 80-day maximum set by the North Dakota Constitution.

            A South Dakota man has been charged with threatening a state official and judge. He allegedly faxed a one-page message to a local TV station on Oct. 23 saying he planned to kill Gov. Kristi Noem. He also allegedly emailed a threat to a judge. Jason Shields was arrested in October shortly after the threats were made. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports he is charged with a pair of felonies that each carry a maximum five-year prison sentence. Court documents alleged that the fax to the TV station said Shields and several others were planning to kill Noem and that it would happen soon. According to court documents, he later told law enforcement officers that he had acted alone.

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