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

Close races for governor unfolding in Virginia, New Jersey

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Tight races for governor unfolded in Virginia and New Jersey late Tuesday with the Democratic candidates narrowly trailing their Republican rivals in states that President Joe Biden easily captured a year ago.

The races were too early to call with the vote counts still underway.

In Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe addressed supporters in the Washington suburbs, vowing to “count all these votes." Kristin Davison, an aide to Republican Glenn Youngkin, appeared onstage at a separate event and said his campaign would continue to track the incoming votes but was pleased with the way things appeared to be headed.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy was trying to win reelection against Republican former State Assembly member Jack Ciattarelli in a race that was also too early to call. If successful, Murphy would be the first Democrat reelected as the state’s governor in 44 years.

The evening's results, though, may ultimately be interpreted as an early judgment of Biden, who captured Virginia last year by a comfortable 10-point margin and easily won New Jersey. The closeness of governor's races indicated just how much his party's political fortunes have changed in a short period.

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Takeaways from Tuesday's elections: Bad omens for Democrats

The off-year elections for governor in Virginia and New Jersey tend to receive outsize attention, and the results are mined for deeper meaning about what they portend for the midterm elections the following year that determine which party controls Congress.

Here are some key takeaways from Tuesday's elections:

CLOSE IN VIRGINIA IS BAD FOR DEMOCRATS

The most-watched election of the year, the Virginia governor’s race, was too early to call Tuesday night. That’s a bad sign for Democrats in 2022.

President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 percentage points just a year ago, and if Democrats cannot generate more enthusiasm than their gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe did, they’ll likely be swept out of power in Congress.

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US gives final clearance to COVID-19 shots for kids 5 to 11

U.S. health officials on Tuesday gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opens a major expansion of the nation’s vaccination campaign to children as young as 5.

The Food and Drug Administration already authorized the shots for children ages 5 to 11 — doses just a third of the amount given to teens and adults. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally recommends who should receive FDA-cleared vaccines.

The announcement by CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky came only hours after an advisory panel unanimously decided Pfizer’s shots should be opened to the 28 million youngsters in that age group.

The decision marks the first opportunity for Americans under 12 to get the powerful protection of any COVID-19 vaccine.

“As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated,” Walensky said Tuesday night, in a statement.

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Minneapolis voters reject replacing police with new agency

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to replace the city’s police department with a new Department of Public Safety, an idea that supporters had hoped would bring radical change to policing in the city where George Floyd’s death under an officer’s knee brought calls for racial justice.

The initiative would have changed the city charter to remove a requirement that the city have a police department with a minimum number of officers. Supporters said a complete overhaul of policing was necessary to stop police violence. Opponents said the proposal had no concrete plan for how to move forward and warned it would leave some communities already affected by violence more vulnerable as crime is on the rise.

Those opponents welcomed the amendment's defeat but stressed the urgency of transforming policing in the city even without it.

“Tonight Minneapolis voters have made clear that we want a planful approach to transforming policing and public safety in our city that needs to include meaningful consultation with the communities that are most impacted by both violent crime and by over-policing,” said Leili Fatehi, manager of the All of Mpls campaign.

The ballot proposal had roots in the abolish-the-police movement that erupted after Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last year. The debate over racial justice in policing brought national attention to Tuesday’s vote, as well as a river of out-of-state money seeking to influence the outcome that could have shaped change elsewhere, too.

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AP VoteCast: Youngkin makes up ground with suburbanites

A year after Donald Trump lost Virginia by 10 percentage points, Republican Glenn Youngkin is in a tight race for governor against Democrat Terry McAuliffe thanks to shifting support from some key voter groups.

Youngkin has made slight gains with suburbanites, voters 45 and older and voters in households earning $50,000 or less when compared to Trump in his 2020 loss to Democrat Joe Biden, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of voters. That's helped make Tuesday's race tighter than originally expected, sparking concern among Democrats as they look to the 2022 midterm elections.

Here’s a snapshot of what matters to voters, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 2,500 voters in Virginia conducted for?The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

SMALL SHIFTS IN SUPPORT

Both Democrats and Republicans pulled together familiar coalitions. McAuliffe is the clear choice of voters under 45, women, Black voters, moderates and college graduates, while men, rural and small town voters and white evangelicals are squarely in Youngkin’s corner.

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Facebook to shut down face-recognition system, delete data

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Facebook said it will shut down its face-recognition system and delete the faceprints of more than 1 billion people amid growing concerns about the technology and its misuse by governments, police and others.

“This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history,” Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence for Facebook’s new parent company, Meta, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

He said the company was trying to weigh the positive use cases for the technology “against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules.” The company in the coming weeks will delete “more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates," he said.

Facebook’s about-face follows a busy few weeks. On Thursday it announced its new name Meta for Facebook the company, but not the social network. The change, it said, will help it focus on building technology for what it envisions as the next iteration of the internet -- the “metaverse.”

The company is also facing perhaps its biggest public relations crisis to date after leaked documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen showed that it has known about the harms its products cause and often did little or nothing to mitigate them.

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Leaders vow to protect forests, plug methane leaks at COP26

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — World leaders promised to protect Earth's forests, cut methane emissions and help South Africa wean itself off coal at the U.N. climate summit Tuesday — part of a flurry of deals intended to avert catastrophic global warming.

Britain hailed the commitment by more than 100 countries to end deforestation in the coming decade as the first big achievement of the conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow, known as COP26 — but experts noted such promises have been made and broken before.

More than 120 world leaders were heading home after two days in which they received stark warnings about the state of the Earth from Johnson, naturalist David Attenborough, Queen Elizabeth II and — most powerfully — the people of countries and regions already facing climate upheaval.

Johnson said at a news conference that it was important to “guard against false hope,” but added that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of the talks. The conference aims to keep the world on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels — the goal set at the Paris climate conference six years ago.

Johnson had a message for negotiators from around the globe who will strain over the next 10 days to turn politicians' climate promises into reality: “The eyes of the populations of the world are on you.”

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New Ronald Greene autopsy dumps crash theory in fatal arrest

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A reexamined autopsy ordered by the FBI in the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene has rejected the Louisiana State Police claim that a car crash caused his fatal injuries, narrowing prosecutors’ focus on the troopers seen on body camera video beating, stunning and dragging the Black motorist.

The unusual second look at what killed Greene confirmed what his family suspected the moment they saw his bruised and battered corpse and his car with only slight damage: A minor crash at the end of a high-speed chase had nothing to do with his death.

The FBI this week received the new forensic review it commissioned in light of the long-buried body camera footage, vehicle black box data and other evidence the state police withheld from Greene’s original autopsy. The review, which did not involve another examination of the body, attributes Greene's death to a series of factors, including troopers striking the 49-year-old in the head, restraining him at length and his use of cocaine.

The new review notably removes the crash and “agitated delirium” from the list of causes in Greene’s original autopsy, according to a person familiar with the findings who wasn’t authorized to discuss the federal inquiry and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

It also addresses a key unanswered question from the original autopsy, whether the crash that didn't deploy the air bag in Greene's car was severe enough to cause a fractured breastbone and ruptured aorta. The new review determined those injuries were most likely the result of CPR and other life-saving efforts by first responders, the person familiar with the findings said.

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Starkly different portrayals of Rittenhouse in Kenosha trial

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Jurors heard starkly different portrayals of Kyle Rittenhouse — instigator or victim — in opening statements at his trial Tuesday on charges of shooting three people on the streets of Kenosha during a turbulent protest against racial injustice.

A prosecutor said Rittenhouse set the bloodshed in motion when he triggered a confrontation with a man that night and then killed him with a bullet to the back.

But Rittenhouse's attorney told the jury that his client acted in self-defense after the man tried to grab Rittenhouse's gun and others kicked the teen in the face and clubbed him in the head with a skateboard.

“You as jurors will end up looking at it from the standpoint of a 17-year-old under the circumstances as they existed,” defense attorney Mark Richards said.

Rittenhouse, now 18, is charged with killing two men and wounding a third during the summer of 2020 with an assault-style rifle. The one-time aspiring police officer could get life in prison if convicted.

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Georgia, Alabama, Michigan State, Oregon top CFP rankings

Georgia, Alabama, Michigan State and Oregon will start the College Football Playoff race in prime position at the top of the selection committee's rankings.

Unbeaten Cincinnati is going to need some help to make history as the first team from outside the Power Five conferences to reach college football's final four.

At sixth, the unbeaten Bearcats of the American Athletic Conference have the best ranking ever in the selection committee’s Top 25 for a non-Power Five team, but still sit behind three teams (second-ranked Alabama, fourth-ranked Oregon and fifth-ranked Ohio State) that have already been beaten.

Committee chairman Gary Barta, who is also Iowa's athletic director, said the committee was impressed with Cincinnati’s victory at tenth-ranked Notre Dame (7-1), but not so much by the rest of the Bearcats' schedule.

He cited closer-than-expected wins against Navy (2-6) and Tulane (1-7) over the past two weeks.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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