AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Murphy ekes out win in NJ, GOP's Youngkin upsets in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey narrowly won reelection in his reliably blue state while a Republican political newcomer delivered a stunning upset in the Virginia governor’s race, sending a warning Wednesday to Democrats that their grip on power in Washington may be in peril.

In Virginia, Glenn Youngkin became the first Republican to win statewide office in a dozen years, tapping into culture war fights over schools and race to unite former President Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters with enough suburban voters to notch a victory.

Meanwhile, Murphy barely eked out a victory against GOP challenger Jack Ciattarelli, who mounted a surprisingly strong campaign on issues including taxes and opposition to pandemic mask and vaccination mandates.

The two states' results were particularly alarming to Democrats because of where they happened. President Joe Biden carried Virginia by 10 points last year. He took New Jersey by more than 15. Given the scale of those victories, neither state was seen as especially competitive when this year's campaigns began.

But the first major elections of Biden's presidency suggested growing discontent among voters. They also underscored that, with Trump out of office, Democrats can't center their messages on opposition to him. The results ultimately pointed to a potentially painful year ahead for Democrats as they try to maintain thin majorities in Congress.

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Rattled Democrats reckon with bruising results in VA, NJ

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bruising loss and an unexpectedly close call in two statewide elections sent Democrats scrambling for answers and calling for new strategies Wednesday, as they worked to unstick a stalled legislative agenda that has exposed deep divisions ahead of critical midterm elections.

Barely a year from snatching unfettered control of the White House and Congress, Democrats were abruptly facing an ominous new political reality thanks to two Republican political newcomers. Glenn Youngkin edged Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the governor's race in Democratic-leaning Virginia, while Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy of deep-blue New Jersey eked out reelection against Jack Ciattarelli.

Both states are filled with suburban voters whose loathing of President Donald Trump prompted them to flee the GOP in significant numbers in 2018 and 2020, fueling big Democratic wins. But Tuesday's results showed those gains were fleeting, as Republicans kept their distance from the unpopular former president and instead harnessed culture war grievances to rally the party's base voters.

It was a forbidding signal for Democrats gripping paper-thin congressional majorities and facing midterm elections in which the party holding the White House historically loses droves of seats, particularly in the House.

Many in the party said the voting underscored that, with people facing stresses like the still-untamed pandemic, inflation and high gasoline prices, Democrats controlling government need to produce results voters can feel.

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Globe bounces back to nearly 2019 carbon pollution levels

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — The dramatic drop in carbon dioxide emissions from the pandemic lockdown has pretty much disappeared in a puff of coal-fired smoke, much of it from China, a new scientific study found.

A group of scientists who track heat-trapping gases that cause climate change said the first nine months of this year put emissions a tad under 2019 levels. They estimate that in 2021 the world will have spewed 36.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, compared to 36.7 billion metric tons two years ago.

At the height of the pandemic last year, emissions were down to 34.8 billion metric tons, so this year's jump is 4.9%, according to updated calculations by Global Carbon Project.

While most countries went back to pre-pandemic trends, China’s pollution increase was mostly responsible for worldwide figures bouncing back to 2019 levels rather then dropping significantly below them, said study co-author Corinne LeQuere, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.

With 2020's dramatically clean air in cities from India to Italy, some people may have hoped the world was on the right track in reducing carbon pollution, but scientists said that wasn’t the case.

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Roll up your sleeves: Kids' turn arrives for COVID-19 shots

Hugs with friends. Birthday parties indoors. Pillow fights. Schoolchildren who got their first COVID-19 shots Wednesday said these are the pleasures they look forward to as the U.S. enters a major new phase in fighting the pandemic.

Health officials hailed shots for kids ages 5 to 11 as a major breakthrough after more than 18 months of illness, hospitalizations, deaths and disrupted education.

Kid-sized doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine cleared two final hurdles Tuesday — a recommendation from CDC advisers, followed by a green light from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At a Decatur, Georgia, pediatrician’s office, 10-year-old Mackenzie Olson took off her black leather jacket and rolled up her sleeve as her mother looked on.

“I see my friends but not the way I want to. I want to hug them, play games with them that we don’t normally get to,” and have a pillow fight with her best friend, Mackenzie said after getting her shot at the Children’s Medical Group site.

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Inside Biden’s border plans: How optimism turned to chaos

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — For about four months before President Joe Biden took office, advisers engaged in intense internal debate about how quickly they should undo his predecessor's hardline border policies.

The answer, almost always, was that Donald Trump's mark couldn't be erased soon enough.

Immigration advocates on the transition team defiantly shot down a detailed memo circulated among top aides that called for turning back some migrants who cross illegally by making them seek protection in other countries. They pushed back against estimates of soaring migration flows if Trump’s policies were dismantled.

In the end, Biden recognized predictions that more migrants might come to the border, but he was firm that policies instituted by Trump were cruel and inhumane and had to be jettisoned.

Biden took office on Jan. 20. Almost immediately, numbers of migrants exceeded expectations. Plans outlined in a December document to fully resume asylum processing at land crossings were soon overtaken by events.

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Fed pulls back economic aid in face of rising uncertainties

WASHINGTON (AP) — If you find the current economy a bit confusing, don’t worry: So does the nation’s top economic official, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

At a highly anticipated news conference Wednesday, Powell said the Fed was sticking by its bedrock economic forecast: COVID-19 will eventually fade, which, in turn, will enable supply chain bottlenecks to unsnarl. More people will return to the workforce, the economy will strengthen and inflation pressures will ease.

And yet the nation's leading economic figure acknowledged that it isn't at all clear when or even whether things will play out the way he and other Fed officials hope. And so far, they haven’t. The Fed won't likely gain a clear view of inflation and the job market, Powell suggested, until COVID-19 and its economic consequences — reduced travel, diminished spending, supply and labor shortages — further ease.

“We hope to achieve significantly greater clarity about where this economy’s going and what the characteristics of the post pandemic economy are over the first half of next year,” he said.

It's a view Powell has maintained even as inflation has jumped to a three-decade high, imposing a burden on households that are paying more for food, rent, heating oil and other necessities. In his remarks Wednesday after the Fed ended its latest policy meeting, Powell acknowledged the hardships that higher prices have inflicted on many families.

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International Criminal Court to probe abuses in Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The International Criminal Court is opening a formal investigation into allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings committed by Venezuelan security forces under President Nicolás Maduro’s rule, the first time a country in Latin America is facing scrutiny for possible crimes against humanity from the court.

The opening of the probe was announced Wednesday by ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan at the end of a three-day trip to Caracas.

Standing alongside Maduro, Khan said he was aware of the political “fault lines” and “geopolitical divisions” that exist in Venezuela. But he said his job was to uphold the principles of legality and the rule of law, not settle scores.

“I ask everybody now, as we move forward to this new stage, to give my office the space to do its work,” he said. “I will take a dim view of any efforts to politicize the independent work of my office.”

While Khan didn’t outline the scope of the ICC’s investigation, it follows a lengthy preliminary probe started in February 2018 — later backed by Canada and five Latin American governments opposed to Maduro — that focused on allegations of excessive force, arbitrary detention and torture by security forces during a crackdown on antigovernment protests in 2017.

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Watchdog finds no misconduct in mistaken Afghan airstrike

WASHINGTON (AP) — An independent Pentagon review has concluded that the U.S. drone strike that killed innocent Kabul civilians and children in the final days of the Afghanistan war was not caused by misconduct or negligence, and it doesn't recommend any disciplinary action.

The review, done by Air Force Lt. Gen. Sami Said, found there were breakdowns in communication and in the process of identifying and confirming the target of the bombing. Said concluded that the mistaken strike happened despite prudent measures to prevent civilian deaths.

“I found that given the information they had and the analysis that they did — I understand they reached the wrong conclusion, but ... was it reasonable to conclude what they concluded based on what they had? It was not unreasonable. It just turned out to be incorrect,” Said said. He is the inspector general of the Air Force and is considered independent as he had no direct connection to Afghanistan operations.

His review said the drone strike must be considered in the context of the moment, as U.S. forces under stress were being flooded by information about threats to troops and civilians at the Kabul airport, just days after a deadly suicide bombing. Thousands of Afghans were swarming the airport, trying to get out of the country following the Taliban takeover.

Said found that better communication between those making the strike decision and other support personnel might have raised more doubts about the bombing, but in the end may not have prevented it.

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Suspect in Australian girl's abduction to be charged soon

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Police expected to charge a local man Thursday with abducting a 4-year-old girl from her family's camping tent 18 days before police smashed into a locked house and rescued her in an outcome celebrated around Australia.

The 36-year-old man was arrested early Wednesday around the time that police found Cleo Smith alone in the house in the town of Carnarvon. “My name is Cleo,” the smiling girl told the police officers who rescued her and asked her name as confirmation that they had found the right child.

Police Minister Paul Papalia said the suspect, a Carnarvon local, would likely be charged on Thursday. He did not detail those charges, but said the police investigation was continuing.

Cleo had disappeared with her sleeping bag on Oct. 16, the second day of a family camping trip at a campground on Australia's remote western coast north of Carnarvon, a community of 5,000 people where her family lives less than 10 minutes drive from the house where she was found.

Media have reported he raised suspicion among locals when he was seen buying diapers and was known to have no children, but police have disclosed little information about what made the man a suspect.

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AP Source: Giants C Buster Posey will announce retirement

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey plans to announce his retirement on Thursday, according to a person with direct knowledge of the decision.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because Posey had yet to make his formal announcement.

The Giants said last month that they would exercise Posey’s $22 million club option for the 2022 season as long as the veteran catcher wanted to keep playing after a stellar year.

Posey hinted during the playoffs he might be done — the seven-time All-Star ready to embrace more family time with four young children at home.

“I'm definitely just going to take some time with my wife, talk with her, be able to be full-time dad of four kids for the first time in a while,” Posey said. “Yeah, just kind of take it slow and see how things progress.”

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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