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

COVID-19 hot spots offer sign of what could be ahead for US

The contagious delta variant is driving up COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Mountain West and fueling disruptive outbreaks in the North, a worrisome sign of what could be ahead this winter in the U.S.

While trends are improving in Florida, Texas and other Southern states that bore the worst of the summer surge, it’s clear that delta isn’t done with the United States. COVID-19 is moving north and west for the winter as people head indoors, close their windows and breathe stagnant air.

“We’re going to see a lot of outbreaks in unvaccinated people that will result in serious illness, and it will be tragic,” said Dr. Donald Milton of the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

In recent days, a Vermont college suspended social gatherings after a spike in cases tied to Halloween parties. Boston officials shut down an elementary school to control an outbreak. Hospitals in New Mexico and Colorado are overwhelmed.

In Michigan, the three-county metro Detroit area is again becoming a hot spot for transmissions, with one hospital system reporting nearly 400 COVID-19 patients. Mask-wearing in Michigan has declined to about 25% of people, according to a combination of surveys tracked by an influential modeling group at the University of Washington.

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Texas A&M student hurt at Astroworld dies; death toll at 9

HOUSTON (AP) — A 22-year-old college student who was critically injured in the crush of fans at the Astroworld festival in Houston has died, the family’s lawyer said Thursday, bringing the death toll to nine.

Bharti Shahani, who was set to graduate from Texas A&M University in the spring, died Wednesday night, attorney James Lassiter said during a news conference. All of the concertgoers who died following the Friday night show were between the ages of 14 and 27, underscoring how the tragedy unfolded in a mostly younger crowd.

A 9-year-old boy who was also injured at the sold-out festival of 50,000 people remained in a medically induced coma, according to family.

"For the first time in her life she just wanted to have fun, and that was taken from her,” said Namrata Shahani, her sister, who attended the concert with Bharti and their cousin.

Namrata Shahani said her sister's last words to her were, “Are you OK?”

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Defense rests its case at murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The defense rested its case Thursday at the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, setting the stage for closing arguments Monday in the shootings that left Americans divided over whether he was a patriot taking a stand against lawlessness or a vigilante.

Rittenhouse's lawyers put on about 2 1/2 days of testimony to the prosecution's five, with the most riveting moment coming when the 18-year-old told the jury that he was defending himself from attack when he used his rifle to kill two men and wound a third on the streets of Kenosha in the summer of 2020.

Prosecutors have sought to portray Rittenhouse as the instigator of the bloodshed, which took place during a tumultuous night of protests against racial injustice.

He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him.

After closing arguments, names will be drawn from an old, brown lottery tumbler to decide which 12 jurors will deliberate and which ones will be dismissed as alternates. Eighteen people have been hearing the case. The panel appeared overwhelmingly white.

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AP analysis: Exposure to extreme heat has tripled since 1983

World leaders have committed to limiting Earth’s rising temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

But what does that feel like?

It’s difficult to convey, because you may not notice changes in average temperature. But, depending on where you live, you might notice when it’s extremely hot.

To better understand the issue, Columbia University’s climate school recently published a global dataset with estimates of both population and temperature. The Associated Press analyzed the data — spanning 1983 to 2016 — and found that exposure to extreme heat has tripled and now affects about a quarter of the world’s population.

HOW HEAT IS MEASURED

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GOP leaders say little to condemn violent political rhetoric

NEW YORK (AP) — In the past week, Republican Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted a video showing a character with his face killing a figure with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's face. Several of the 13 House Republicans who backed a bipartisan infrastructure bill said they faced threats after their vote. In one profanity-laced voicemail, a caller labeled Rep. Fred Upton a “traitor” and wished death for the Michigan Republican, his family and staff.

The response from Republican leaders? Silence.

Less than a year after former President Donald Trump's supporters staged a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in an effort to halt the peaceful transition of power, the GOP's refusal to broadly and forcefully condemn more recent examples of disturbing rhetoric and behavior suggests an unsettling shift. One of the nation's two major political parties appears increasingly tolerant of at least some persistent level of violence in American discourse, or at least willing to turn a blind eye to it.

In an interview, GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, who has emerged as a top Trump critic in her party, said Gosar should be censured “for his continued indefensible activities.” And she blasted House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy for his silence on the matter.

“It’s a real symbol of his lack of strength, the lack of leadership in our conference right now, and the extent to which he and other leaders seem to have lost their moral compass,” said Cheney, who was ousted from her leadership post after voting in favor of Trump’s impeachment. “In a moment where you’ve got an avowed white nationalist in Rep. Gosar who has posted a video advocating the killing of another member, the idea that our leader will not stand against that but that he’s somehow going after and allowing attacks against 13 members who are conducting themselves in a serious and substantive way is really outrageous.”

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Court temporarily delays release of Trump's Jan. 6 records

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court on Thursday temporarily blocked the release of White House records sought by a U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, granting — for now — a request from former President Donald Trump.

The administrative injunction issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit effectively bars until the end of this month the release of records that were to be turned over Friday. The appeals court set oral arguments in the case for Nov. 30.

The stay gives the court time to consider arguments in a momentous clash between the former president, whose supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, and President Joe Biden and Congress, who have pushed for a thorough investigation of the riot. It delays the House committee from reviewing records that lawmakers say could shed light on the events leading up to the insurrection and Trump's efforts to delegitimize an election he lost.

The National Archives, which holds the documents, says they include call logs, handwritten notes and a draft executive order on “election integrity.”

Biden waived executive privilege on the documents. Trump then went to court arguing that as a former president, he still had the right to exert privilege over the records and releasing them would damage the presidency in the future.

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Attorney: No more `Black pastors' in court for Arbery case

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — An attorney for one of the white men standing trial in the death of Ahmaud Arbery told the judge Thursday he doesn't want “any more Black pastors” in the courtroom after the Rev. Al Sharpton sat with the slain man's family.

Kevin Gough represents William “Roddie” Bryan, who along with father and son Greg and Travis McMichael is charged with murder and other crimes in Arbery's Feb. 23, 2020, killing. The 25-year-old Black man was chased and fatally shot after the defendants spotted him running in their neighborhood outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick.

Gough told Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley that he was concerned Sharpton's presence in court Wednesday was an attempt to intimidate the disproportionately white jury hearing the case. The jury was not in the courtroom when he made the remarks.

"Obviously there’s only so many pastors they can have," Gough said. “And if their pastor’s Al Sharpton right now that's fine, but then that’s it. We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here ... sitting with the victim’s family, trying to influence the jurors in this case.”

Jason Sheffield, one of Travis McMichael's lawyers, told the judge he didn't notice any distractions caused by Sharpton, who sat in the back row of the courtroom gallery wearing a mask.

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Rittenhouse judge's nod to veterans includes defense witness

As jurors in Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial settled into their courtroom seats, Judge Bruce Schroeder welcomed them and noted the Veterans Day holiday.

The longtime judge then asked if any of the jurors or others in the courtroom had served. Only one person indicated he had: The man about to testify in support of Rittenhouse's defense.

“What branch?” Schroeder asked use-of-force expert John Black.

“Army, sir," Black said.

“I think we give a round of applause to the people who've served our country,” Schroeder said, leading the room including jurors in clapping.

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Missouri man who buried wife's body convicted of her murder

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man who admitted to burying his wife’s body and misleading authorities for more than a year about her whereabouts was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder.

After deliberating for almost seven hours, a jury found Joseph Elledge guilty in the killing of 28-year-old Mengqi Ji, whom he married after she moved to the U.S. from China to study at the University of Missouri.

Elledge reported Ji missing in October 2019, prompting months of extensive searches. Her remains were found in a park near Columbia, Missouri, in March.

Elledge was charged with first-degree murder, but Circuit Judge J. Hasbrouck Jacobs told jurors they could consider charges of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and first-degree or second-degree involuntary manslaughter. Elledge was acquitted of the first-degree murder charge.

First-degree murder requires the state to prove that Elledge killed Ji intentionally after deliberating about it, and Elledge’s intent was central to arguments throughout the trial.

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SpaceX delivers new crew of 4 to station, 'glorious sight'

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A SpaceX capsule carrying four astronauts pulled up Thursday at the International Space Station, their new home until spring.

It took 21 hours for the flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the glittering outpost.

The one German and three U.S. astronauts said it was an emotional moment when they first spotted the space station 20 miles (30 kilometers) distant — “a pretty glorious sight,” according to Raja Chari, commander of the Dragon capsule.

“Floating in space and shining like a diamond," noted German astronaut Matthias Maurer. “We're all very thrilled, very excited.”

The Dragon's entire flight was automated, with Chari and pilot Tom Marshburn monitoring the capsule systems, ready to take control if necessary. At one point, they reported what looked like a “gnarled knob” or possibly a small mechanical nut floating past their camera's field of view, but SpaceX Mission Control said it posed no concern. The docking occurred 263 miles (423 kilometers) above the eastern Caribbean.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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