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Democrat leaders have failed to do their basic job of passing a budget and spending/appropriations bills via Regular Order or for that matter even as a Continuing Resolution once again. It is quite apparent that Democrats are just too busy with other pressing matters like producing the “Trump Reality Show.”

In his successful 1980 campaign for the presidency, Ronald Reagan prominently featured the prospect of welfare fraud, citing the case of a Chicago “welfare queen” who had defrauded the government of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Since then, policing and preventing welfare cheats has been a standard plank on the right, a reliable go-to for conservative politicians portraying themselves as upright stewards of the public purse.

Thousands of Americans in Puerto Rico are without power after Hurricane Fiona roared through last week. Idling off the island’s coast is a ship that reportedly carries 300,000 barrels of diesel fuel from Texas. Yet unloading that fuel is illegal without a Jones Act waiver, which the Biden Administration hasn’t granted.

“In the ’50s, you just say n—–, n—–, n—-,” admitted Lee Atwater, South Carolina Republican consultant and architect of George H. W. Bush’s 1988 campaign for the presidency. Later, on his deathbed, Atwater expressed remorse for using race hatred in the pursuit of political power. But from Atwater’s penance we seem to have come full circle. If ’50s demagogues cried the n-word, so does the 45th president of the United States.

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I was talking with a dear friend just today who was feeling extremely stressed and beat up by other church members. I reminded my friend that ministry could often be thankless work. There are certainly people in the church world who are quicker to tear others down than they are to build them…

State AP Stories

President Joe Biden is working to create a manufacturing revival. He's even helping to put factory jobs in Republican territory under the belief it can help restore faith in U.S. democracy. The latest development came Tuesday, when chipmaker Micron announced an investment of up to $100 billion over the next 20-plus years to build a plant in upstate New York that could create 9,000 factory jobs. It’s a commitment made in a GOP congressional district that Biden and the company credited to the recently enacted $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act. Biden's goal is to keep opening new factories in states where Democrats’ footholds are shaky at best.

In Georgia’s pivotal U.S. Senate race, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, have each sought to cast the other as an abortion extremist. At the same time, they deflect questions about the details of their own positions on the issue. The sidestepping reflects the sensitivity of abortion politics in a post-Roe v. Wade America, where the procedure is open to regulation by state governments and, potentially, by Congress. But Walker’s strategy may not work much longer after The Daily Beast reported Monday that he paid for a girlfriend’s 2009 abortion — a blatant contradiction of his claims that there’s “no excuse” for a procedure he characterizes as “killing.” Walker called the report a lie.

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Advocates say schools increasingly are removing children with disabilities from the classroom because of behavior issues related to their disability but not recording the actions as suspension. The practice is known as informal removal, which advocates say amounts to a form of off-the-books, de facto denial of education that evades accountability. Because the removals aren’t recorded, there’s no way to quantify how often they happen. But the assistant secretary for the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, Catherine E. Lhamon, says the practice has "taken hold in a way that is dangerous for students and needs to be addressed.”

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A Delaware judge says cigarette manufacturer ITG Brands assumed liability for tobacco settlement payments to the state of Florida when it acquired four brands from Reynolds American in 2015. Vice Chancellor Lori Will also said in Friday's ruling that ITG must compensate Reynolds American for losses due to that assumed liability. Reynolds sold the Kool, Winston, Salem and Maverick brands to ITG in 2014 to gain federal regulators' approval of Reynolds’ acquisition of Lorillard Inc. Before the sale closed, Reynolds American affiliate R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was making payments under a preexisting settlement agreement with Florida for reimbursement of smoking-related health care costs.

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North Carolina’s State Board of Elections is directing county election officials not to engage in signature matching when reviewing absentee ballot envelopes this fall after a judge rejected the GOP appeal of a state board ruling prohibiting the practice. According to a directive sent to county election directors from the board’s legal counsel Paul Cox, the judge’s ruling maintains the status quo outlined in state law. Superior Court Judge Stephan Futrell ruled from the bench Monday afternoon, denying the party’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preventing the use of signature matching in the 2022 general election, state board spokesperson Pat Gannon said.

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Emergency responders are seeking to evacuate residents from the largest barrier island off Florida's Gulf Coast, and survivors there spoke of the terror of riding out Hurricane Ian in flooded homes and howling winds. A volunteer group, Medic Corps, was flying residents off Pine island by helicopter on Saturday. The bridge to Pine Island was heavily damaged by the hurricane, leaving it reachable only by boat or air. Some residents said they hadn’t seen anyone from outside the island for days and spoke of being trapped in flooded homes as boats and other debris crashed around their houses in the storm surge. Some feared they wouldn't make it.

Local election officials across the United States are bracing for a wave of confrontations on Election Day in November. Emboldened Republican poll watchers, including many who embrace former President Donald Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 election, are expected to flood election offices and polling places. The Republican Party and conservative activists have been holding poll watcher training sessions, but in many states they've barred the media from observing those sessions. Some Republican-led states passed laws after the 2020 election that require local election offices to allow poll watchers and give them expanded access to observe and challenge ballots.

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The remnants of Hurricane Ian have downed trees and power lines across North Carolina, and at least four storm-related fatalities.. The Johnston County Sheriff's Office says a woman found her husband dead early Saturday morning after he went to check on a generator running in their garage overnight. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's office says there were also two storm-related traffic fatalities in Johnston County on Friday, and a drowning in Martin County. Damage reports across the state were less severe than in South Carolina and Florida. But over 90,000 people statewide were without power Saturday afternoon. That was down from over 330,000 earlier in the day.

National & World AP Stories

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Hong Kong's share benchmark has soared more than 5% as Asian shares track gains on Wall Street. New Zealand’s central bank on Wednesday hiked its benchmark interest rate to 3.5%, saying inflation remained too high and labor scarce. The half-point rate hike was the fifth in a row made by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand since February. Markets in mainland China remained closed for a holiday. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed more than 800 points and the S&P 500 had its best day in more than two years Tuesday as the market clawed back more of the ground it lost over the past miserable several weeks.

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Aaron Judge has hit his 62nd home run of the season to break Roger Maris’ American League record. Judge hit a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesús Tinoco into the first row of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader on Tuesday. The 30-year-old Judge had homered only once in his past 13 games. That was when he hit No. 61 in Toronto last Wednesday to match Maris. While Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, all were tainted by the stench of steroids. That includes Barry Bonds' 73 for the the San Francisco Giants in 2001, though he has denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs.

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A malfunctioning South Korean ballistic missile blew up as it plowed into the ground during a drill with the United States that was a reprisal for North Korea’s launch a day earlier of a weapon that flew over Japan and has the range to strike Guam. The explosion panicked and confused residents of the coastal city of Gangneung. Their concern that it could be a North Korean attack only grew as the military and government officials provided no explanation about the explosion for hours. The short-range Hyumoo-2 missile that crashed inside an air force base in the outskirts of Gangneung is key to South Korea’s preemptive and retaliatory strike strategies against the North.

"Best before” labels are coming under scrutiny as concerns about food waste grow around the world. Manufacturers have used the labels for decades to estimate peak freshness. But “best before” labels have nothing to do with safety, and some worry they encourage consumers to throw away food that’s perfectly fine to eat. Major U.K. chains like Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer recently removed “best before” labels from prepackaged fruit and vegetables. The European Union is expected to announce a revamp to its labeling laws by the end of this year. In the U.S., there’s no similar push to scrap “best before” labels. But there is growing momentum to standardize the language on date labels to help educate buyers about food waste.

One of Brazil’s biggest gold refiners, which processes gold suspected of being mined illegally in the Amazon rainforest, has been stripped of an important industry seal of approval that global manufacturers from Apple to Tesla rely on to root out abuses in their supply chains. An investigation by The Associated Press in January revealed how Sao Paulo-based Marsam shares ownership links and processes gold on behalf of an intermediary accused by Brazilian prosecutors of buying tarnished gold from Indigenous territories and other protected areas. With a lawsuit underway against that partner, Marsam this month was quietly removed by the Responsible Minerals Initiative from a public list of smelters and refiners deemed to follow best sourcing practices.

Elon Musk wants Twitter again — and Twitter is game. The billionaire Tesla CEO has proposed to buy the company at the originally agreed-on price of $44 billion, bringing the tumultuous, monthslong saga another step closer to a conclusion. Musk made the surprising turnaround not on Twitter, as has been his custom, but in a letter to Twitter that the company disclosed in a filing Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It came less than two weeks before a trial between the two parties over Musk’s attempt to back out of the deal is scheduled to start in Delaware. Musk also faced a scheduled deposition by Twitter attorneys starting Thursday.

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As Hurricane Ian flooded Naples, Florida, one man went to rescue his 86-year-old mom from her home after she had refused to evacuate. He sent photos and short videos to his family, letting them know he was OK. That's how Johnny Lauder ended up unintentionally documented the whole rescue. His mom Karen had lost a leg and requires a wheelchair. As the waters rose, she called her son for help. Lauder swam, waded and walked about a half mile to her. Several hours later, the water subsided enough for him to push her through the streets to safety.