AP News in Brief at 6:04 a.m. EDT
Many remain critical of state of US democracy: AP-NORC poll
WASHINGTON (AP) – Many Americans remain pessimistic about the state of U.S.democracy and the way elected officials are chosen — nearly two years after a divisive presidential election spurred false claims of widespread fraud and a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Only about half of Americans have high confidence that votes in the upcoming midterm elections will be counted accurately, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for kolaybet Public Affairs Research, though that´s an improvement from about 4 in 10 saying that just before the 2020 presidential election. Just 9% of U.S.adults think democracy is working “extremely” or “very well,” while 52% say it´s not working well.
In a reversal from two years ago, kolaybet Republicans are now more likely than Democrats to say democracy is not working well.This year, 68% of Republicans feel this way compared with 32% two years ago. The share of Democrats with a sour outlook on how democracy is functioning in the U.S. dropped from 63% to 40%.
Ronald McGraw Sr., 67, of Indianapolis, is a retired construction worker who recently registered to vote and intends to cast a ballot for the first time this year.
“I thought I´d let everybody else put their vote in and just go with the flow, but this whole thing is at stake now,” he said, referring to democracy, the economy, “everything, how the whole country runs.”
Russia tightens Ukraine energy squeeze; launches evacuation
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Russian missile strikes and shelling of energy utilities left more Ukrainian villages, towns and parts of two cities without power on Wednesday, authorities said, tightening an energy squeeze that threatens misery for millions in winter.
A nearly two-week barrage of Russian attacks with missiles, self-destructing explosive drones and other weaponry on Ukraine´s critical infrastructure comes as Russian forces are being forced back on the ground.
In Kherson, among the first Ukrainian cities seized by Russian forces in the February invasion, Moscow-installed authorities are bracing for a Ukrainian assault to take it back, telling residents to expect shelling and to evacuate.Text messages Wednesday urged people to leave the southern city, Russia´s state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Moscow-backed authorities have said evacuations from occupied territories are voluntary. But in many cases, the only routes out for evacuees are to Russia.
In a rare acknowledgement of the pressure that Ukrainian troops are exerting on the ground, Russia’s new invasion commander, Gen. Sergei Surovikin, on Tuesday described the situation for Russian forces in the Kherson region as “very difficult.”
Russia’s Iranian drones complicate Israel’s balancing act
JERUSALEM (AP) – The Iranian-made drones that Russia sent slamming into central Kyiv this week have complicated Israel’s balancing act between Russia and the West.
Israel has stayed largely on the sidelines since Russia´s invasion of Ukraine last February so as not to damage its strategic relationship with the Kremlin. Although Israel has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, it has refused Kyiv’s frequent requests to send air defense systems and other military equipment and refrained from enforcing strict economic sanctions on Russia and the many Russian-Jewish oligarchs who have second homes in Israel.
But with news of Moscow’s deepening ties with Tehran, Israel´s sworn foe, pressure is growing on Israel to back Ukraine in the grinding war.Israel has long fought a shadowy war with Iran across the Middle East by land, sea and air.
Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a military spokesman, said the suicide drone attack in Ukraine had raised new concerns in Israel.
“We´re looking at it closely and thinking about how these can be used by the Iranians toward Israeli population centers,” he said.
Biden to release 15M barrels from oil reserve, more possible
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden will announce the release of 15 million barrels of oil from the U.S.strategic reserve Wednesday as part of a response to recent production cuts announced by OPEC+ nations, and he will say more oil sales are possible this winter, as his administration rushes to be seen as pulling out all the stops ahead of next month´s midterm elections.
Biden will deliver remarks Wednesday to announce the drawdown from the strategic reserve, senior administration officials said Tuesday on the condition of anonymity to outline Biden’s plans.
It completes the release of 180 million barrels authorized by Biden in March that was initially supposed to occur over six months. That has sent the strategic reserve to its lowest level since 1984 in what the administration called a “bridge” until domestic production could be increased.
The reserve now contains roughly 400 million barrels of oil.
Biden will also open the door to additional releases this winter in an effort to keep prices down. But administration officials would not detail how much the president would be willing to tap, nor how much they want domestic and production to increase by in order to end the drawdown.
Biden will also say that the U.S.government will restock the strategic reserve when oil prices are at or lower than $67 to $72 a barrel, an offer that administration officials argue will increase domestic production by guaranteeing a baseline level of demand. Yet the president is also expected to renew his criticism of the profits reaped by oil companies – repeating a bet made this summer that public condemnation would matter more to these companies than shareholders´ focus on returns.
It marks the continuation of an about-face by Biden, who has tried to move the U.S.past fossil fuels to identify additional sources of energy to satisfy U.S. and global supply as a result of disruptions from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and production cuts announced by the Saudi Arabia-led oil cartel.
UK inflation accelerates to 40-year-high amid food cost rise
LONDON (AP) – U.K.inflation accelerated to a 40-year high in September as the soaring cost of food squeezed household budgets.
The consumer price index rose 10.1%, compared with 9.9% the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday.The new data shows inflation returned to the July peak and is once again at the highest since early 1982.
The increase was driven by food prices, which leapt by 14.5% from a year earlier, kolaybet the biggest jump since 1980, the ONS said.
The rise increases expectations that the Bank of England will raise interest rates further and faster as it struggles to return inflation to its 2% target.
It will also make it more difficult for the government´s new Treasury chief, who took office less than a week ago, to restore financial stability after the government´s economic plan roiled financial markets over the past month.Jeremey Hunt has said the government “will prioritize help for the most vulnerable while delivering wider economic stability.”
Iran’s Elnaz Rekabi, who competed without hijab, in Tehran
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Iranian competitive climber Elnaz Rekabi received a hero’s welcome on her return to Tehran early Wednesday, after competing in South Korea without wearing a mandatory headscarf required of female athletes from the Islamic Republic.
Rekabi’s decision not to wear the hijab while competing Sunday came as protests sparked by the Sept.16 death in custody of a 22-year-old woman have entered a fifth week. Mahsa Amini was detained by the country´s morality police over her clothing – and her death has seen women removing their mandatory hijabs in public.
The demonstrations, drawing school-age children, oil workers and others to the street in over 100 cities, represent the most-serious challenge to Iran´s theocracy since the mass protests surrounding its disputed 2009 presidential election.
Supporters and Farsi-language media outside of Iran have worried about Rekabi’s safety after she choose to compete without the hijab.
Rekabi on Wednesday repeated an explanation posted earlier to an Instagram account in her name that described her not wearing a hijab as “unintentional.” The Iranian government routinely pressures activists at home and abroad, often airing what rights group describe as coerced confessions on state television – the same cameras she addressed on her arrival back home.
Parents of accused North Carolina shooter express sorrow
The parents of a 15-year-old boy accused of killing five people in a North Carolina shooting rampage released a statement Tuesday saying they are “overcome with grief” and saw no warning signs before the killings.
Alan and Elise Thompson issued the statement through a lawyer that acknowledges the pain caused by their son, Austin, and expresses grief for the five killed on Thursday, including their other teenage son, 16-year-old James.Witnesses described in 911 calls that the shooter opened fire with a shotgun in a neighborhood northeast of downtown Raleigh and along an adjacent walking trail.
“Our son Austin inflicted immeasurable pain on the Raleigh community, and we are overcome with grief for the innocent lives lost,” the statement said.
The statement said they will fully cooperate with law enforcement to help investigators understand what happened, but they have questions themselves.Authorities have not discussed a motive for the shooting.
“There were never any indications or warning signs that Austin was capable of doing anything like this,” the statement said.
North fires more shells toward inter-Korean sea buffer zone
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea fired about 100 more artillery shells toward the sea Wednesday in response to South Korean live-firing drills at border areas as the rivals accuse each other of dialing up tensions on the Korean Peninsula with weapons tests.
The drills conducted by both sides come amid heightened animosities over recent North Korean missile tests that it calls simulated nuclear attacks on South Korean and U.S.targets.
South Korea´s military detected the artillery being fired from a western North Korean coastal town, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. On Tuesday night, North Korea fired about 100 shells off its west coast and 150 rounds off its east coast, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said earlier.
Both days, the North Korean shells landed in the northern parts of the maritime buffer zones the two Koreas created off their eastern and western coasts as part of agreements they made in 2018 to reduce tensions, according to the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
North Korea also fired hundreds of shells at the buffer zones last Friday, in its most significant direct violation of the 2018 agreement.
Children starve as Yemen teeters on a return to fighting
HAYS, Yemen (AP) – An emaciated little girl lies motionless on a hospital bed and struggles to breathe.Her body is covered with sores. She can barely open her eyes.
Hafsa Ahmed is about 2. About a dozen other children in the red-brick hospital in this southern Yemeni city are also dying of starvation.
Hunger has long threatened the lives of hundreds of thousands of Yemen´s children. Now, the war between the country´s Iran-backed Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition is threatening to escalate after months of a tenuous truce.Yemenis, and international assistance groups, worry that the situation will get even worse.
In the city of Hodeida, with a population of roughly 3 million, al-Thawra Hospital receives 2,500 patients daily, including “super-malnourished” children, said Joyce Msuya, U.N.assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs. She visited the facility this month.
Around 2.2 million Yemeni children under the age of 5 are hungry. More than half a million are severely malnourished. Some 1.3 million pregnant or breastfeeding women had severe malnutrition this year, the United Nations says.
Abortion access looms over medical residency applications
COLUMBIA, S.C.(AP) – Students in obstetrics-gynecology and family medicine – two of the most popular medical residencies – face tough choices about where to advance their training in a landscape where legal access to abortion varies from state to state.
Abortions are typically performed by OB-GYNs or family doctors, and training generally involves observing and assisting in the procedure, often in outpatient clinics.Many doctors and students now worry about nonexistent or subpar training in states where clinics closed or abortion laws were otherwise tightened after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
In some cases, applicants who want to perform abortions as part of their career are pursuing residencies in states with more liberal reproductive laws and perhaps continuing their careers there, too – potentially setting up less permissive states for a shortage of OB-GYNs, observers said.
“To choose a state where I will be limited or I wouldn´t have full access is essentially shortchanging myself and my future patients on the quality of care that I can provide,” said Deborah Fadoju, a fourth-year Ohio State medical student who said she looked at programs along the East Coast, where many states have laws safeguarding abortion.
As an OB-GYN, Fadoju said, she should be able to “do the full breadth of work.”