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Few men in power have delved deeply into gender equality on the main stage of the United Nations this month. But the ones who did went there boldly. They claimed feminist credibility, sold “positive masculinity” and resolutely demanded an end to The Patriarchy. Gender equality is as one of the U.N.’s primary goals. It has long been a safe talking point for world leaders, and there were many brief and polite mentions of progress made toward female empowerment. There were also some leaders who did not say the words “women” or “girls” at all during their time on stage. At other times, a a word considered a dirty word by many for generations was used proudly. Feminism.

Strong rains and winds are lashing the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona closes in as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone. Canadian forecasters are warning it could be one of the most severe storms in the country’s history. Fiona is expected to make landfall in Nova Scotia before dawn Saturday after transforming from a hurricane into a post-tropical cyclone. But forecasters caution that despite the change, Fiona still could have hurricane-strength winds and will bring drenching rains and huge waves. Officials say more than 207,000 Nova Scotia Power customers already are affected by outages.

A federal judge has barred Delaware from enforcing prohibitions on the manufacture and possession of homemade “ghost guns” that can’t be traced by law enforcement officials because they don’t have serial numbers. Friday’s ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by gun-rights advocates after Democratic Gov. John Carney signed a law criminalizing the possession, manufacture and distribution of such weapons and unfinished components. The judge denied a motion by Democratic state Attorney General Kathleen Jennings to dismiss the lawsuit. The judge said that without an injunction, the plaintiffs would face irreparable harm and are threatened by criminal penalties if they engage in conduct protected by the Second Amendment.

Saudi Arabia appears to be leaving behind the stream of negative coverage the killing of Jamal Khashoggi elicited since 2018. Once again enthusiastically welcomed back into polite and powerful society, it is no longer as frowned upon to seek their investments and accept their favor. Saudi Arabia’s busy week of triumphs included brokering a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia, holding a highbrow summit on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, marking the country’s national day, hosting the German chancellor and discussing energy supply with top White House officials. The pivot is drawing focus back to the crown prince’s ambitious re-branding of Saudi Arabia and its place in the world.

A classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office launched into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket on Saturday. The NROL-91 spy satellite lifted off at 3:25 p.m. from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California’s Santa Barbara County. It was the last launch of a Delta 4 from the West Coast. Additional launches are planned from Florida before the Deltas are replaced by ULA’s next-generation Vulcan Centaur rockets. The Delta IV Heavy configuration first launched in December 2004. This was the 387th flight of a Delta rocket since 1960 and the 95th and final launch from Vandenberg.

Arizona Democrats are vowing to fight for women’s rights after a court reinstated a law first enacted during the Civil War that bans abortion in nearly all circumstances. Democrats on Saturday looked to capitalize on an issue they hope will have a major impact on the midterm elections. Top Democrats implored women not to sit on the sidelines this year, saying the ruling sets women back  to an era when only men had the right to vote. Republican candidates have been silent since the ruling, which said the state can prosecute doctors and others who assist with an abortion unless it’s necessary to save the mother’s life.

Two U.S. military veterans who disappeared three months ago while fighting with Ukrainian forces have arrived in their home state of Alabama. The men were greeted Saturday by hugs and cheers at the airport in Birmingham, Alabama. Alex Drueke, and Andy Huynh had gone missing June 9 in northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border. The Alabama residents were released by Russian-backed separatists as part of a recent prisoner exchange mediated by Saudi Arabia. Also freed were five British nationals and three others — from Morocco, Sweden and Croatia. Smiling but looking tired, the two were pulled into long emotional hugs by family members before being taken to a waiting car.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for 24 counties as Tropical Storm Ian gathers strength over the Caribbean and is expected to bring heavy rain and hurricane-force winds to the state next week. DeSantis issued the order Friday encouraging residents and local governments to make preparations as the storm moves toward the state. He has also requested a federal pre-landfall emergency declaration. The National Hurricane Center said Ian is forecast to approach southern Florida early next week with major hurricane strength.

Forty years after a predominantly Black community in Warren County, North Carolina, rallied against hosting a hazardous waste landfill, President Biden’s top environment official has returned to what is widely considered the birthplace of the environmental justice movement to unveil a national office that will distribute $3 billion in block grants to underserved communities burdened by pollution. Joined by civil rights leaders and participants from the 1982 protests, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan announced Saturday that he is dedicating a new senior level of leadership to the environmental justice movement they ignited. The Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights will merge three existing EPA programs .

A soldier from Massachusetts who went missing during the Korean war and was later reported to have died in a prisoner of war camp has been accounted for. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says Army Cpl. Joseph J. Puopolo, of East Boston, was just 19 when he was reported missing in December 1950. It was later reported he had died in a prisoner of war camp. Military officials say remains disinterred in 2019 were identified as Puopolo through dental and anthropological analysis, mitochondrial DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence. Puopolo's grandnephew says his family, including the soldier's sister who is now 99 years old, has not forgotten him.

Iranian activist Masih Alinejad says the videos and messages she’s been receiving in recent days from women in Iran are showing how angry they are following a young woman’s death in police custody over a violation of the country’s strict religious dress code. The spur for this latest explosion of outrage was the death earlier this month of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. The young woman was detained for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely in violation of strictures demanding women wear the Islamic headscarves in public. She died in custody. Protests have been going on around the country for days. Alinejad would love to see more support from those in the West, as well.

With one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, Oklahoma has struggled for decades to properly staff its prisons. A private prison in rural east-central Oklahoma where a correctional officer was fatally stabbed by an inmate this summer is no exception. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville has been plagued with staffing shortages and prison violence. In addition to the killing of 61-year-old guard Alan Hershberger, three inmates have also been killed at the prison so far this year. A 2021 audit of the prison shows it was operating at about 70% of its contractually obligated staffing level.

A stark gender divide has emerged in debates unfolding in Republican-led states including West Virginia, Indiana and South Carolina following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to end constitutional protections for abortion. As male-dominated legislatures worked to advance bans, protesters were more likely to be women. That happened even as legislators often had support of the few Republican women holding office. In all three states, lawmakers fighting against abortion bans have pointed to the gender divide. They've insisted that male counterparts shouldn’t get to dictate medical decisions for women. Ban supporters maintain that abortion affects not only women, but also children, and all of society.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is under investigation for using a state-owned airplane to fly to political events and bring family members with her on trips. But the decision on whether to prosecute the Republican governor likely hinges on how a county prosecutor interprets an untested law that was passed by voters in 2006. State law allows the aircraft only to be used “in the conduct of state business.” But Noem attended events hosted by political organizations. State plane logs also show that Noem often had family members join her on in-state flights in 2019. It blurred the lines between official travel and attending family events, including her son’s prom and her daughter’s wedding.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wants to “reintroduce the Philippines” to the world. He has ambitious plans for his nation on the international stage and at home. That is, if the twin specters of pandemic and climate change can be overcome or at least managed. And if he can get past the legacies of two people: his predecessor, and his father. He also wants to strengthen ties with both the United States and China. That's a delicate balancing act for the Southeast Asian nation. Marcos spoke in an AP interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run, becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history. The 42-year-old Pujols connected for his second home run of the game, a three-run drive against Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford in the fourth inning. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion at Dodger Stadium. It was same location where homer No. 699 landed in the third inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney. With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds, who had 762 homers, Hank Aaron with 755 and Babe Ruth at 714 in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs. The Cardinals beat the Dodgers 11-0.

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols has hit his 700th career homer, becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history. Pujols connected his second home run of the game, a three-run drive against Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford in the fourth inning. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location homer No. 699 — a two-run shot — landed in the third inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney. Pujols has driven in all five of the Cardinals runs and they lead the Dodgers 5-0.

An Arizona judge says the state can enforce a near-total ban on abortions that has been blocked for nearly 50 years. Friday’s ruling from a judge in Tucson came after the state’s Republican attorney general sought an order lifting an injunction that was issued shortly after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Roe was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. Friday's ruling means clinics across Arizona will likely stop providing abortions. The law was first enacted decades before Arizona became a state in 1912. The only exception is if the mother’s life is in danger. Another law that bans abortions after 15 weeks takes effect Saturday.

A fugitive defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who claims to have incriminating sex photos of top U.S. Navy brass could become the latest bargaining chip in Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to win official recognition from the Biden administration. But it’s unclear how hard the U.S. government will fight for the return of Leonard Glenn Francis, the Malaysian owner of a ship servicing company in Southeast Asia who is the central character in one of the largest bribery scandals in Pentagon history. While Venezuela and the United States have an extradition treaty, the Biden administration does not formally recognize Maduro's government.

Asian stocks fell for a third day Friday after unusually large interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to control inflation spurred fears of a possible global recession. Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney declined. Japan's markets were closed for a holiday. Oil prices edged lower. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index fell for a third day after rate hikes by central banks in Britain, Switzerland, Turkey and the Philippines. The Fed hiked its key rate earlier for a fifth time this year and indicated more rises were on the way.

A judge has sentenced a Fort Wayne woman to the maximum 65 years after she pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder for shooting a 20-year-old rival. A plea agreement that 24-year-old Valerie Rose Hardiek entered into earlier this year in the June 20, 2021, shooting death of Shelby Vonholdt didn't restrict the length of her sentence. Allen Superior Court Judge David Zent said the murder was pre-meditated and that while Hardiek had a difficult upbringing and mental issues, she also had an escalating criminal history. Deputy Allen County Prosecutor Tom Chaille said Vonholdt was dating someone Hardiek “was attached to."

A Maryland judge has granted an emergency petition filed by the Maryland State Board of Elections to enable the counting of mail-in ballots earlier than currently allowed by law. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Bonifant granted the petition on Friday. It will allow local elections officials across the state to begin canvassing mail-in ballots on October 1. The board says the ruling provides election officials with additional time to canvass and tabulate the ballots to ensure that all critical election-related deadlines are met. The board says pre-Election Day canvassing will be conducted in public on published dates.

A Black man who died after a police encounter in a Denver suburb in 2019 died because he was injected with a powerful sedative after being forcibly restrained. According to an amended autopsy report publicly released Friday, Elijah McClain death is still listed as undetermined. The 23-year-old massage therapist was put in a neck hold and injected with ketamine after being stopped in Aurora for “being suspicious.” The case drew renewed attention following the killing of George Floyd in 2020, leading to the indictment last year of three officers and two paramedics on manslaughter and reckless homicide charges in McClain’s death.

New York City’s mayor says he plans to erect hangar-sized tents as temporary shelter for thousands of international migrants who have been bused into the Big Apple as part of a campaign by Republican governors to disrupt federal border policies. The tents are among an array of options the city is considering as it struggles to find housing for an estimated 13,000 migrants who have wound up in New York after being bused north from border towns in Texas and Arizona. New York City’s huge system of homeless shelters has been straining to accommodate the unexpected newcomers.

As billions of dollars in opioid lawsuit settlements are starting to flow to governments, families and advocates impacted by the opioid crisis are pushing for a meaningful say in how the money will be used. There are requirements to direct most of it to fighting the deepening crisis, and in some states, people in recovery or who lost relatives have been put on committees making spending recommendations. But advocates from New York to Nevada are worried they won’t have enough input on how the money is used. The funding processes are already subject to a partisan tussle in Wisconsin and a lawsuit in Ohio.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has announced a settlement with a property management company owned by the family of former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Frosh announced Friday that Westminster Management has agreed to pay a $3.25 million civil penalty and restitution to settle a 2019 lawsuit in Maryland. The settlement addresses charges that Westminster and the property owners violated the Consumer Protection Act by charging tenants illegal fees and by failing to maintain the properties. Westminster is not admitting wrongdoing under the settlement. Kushner company chief operating officer Peter Febo says Westminster is pleased to have settled this litigation with no admission of liability or wrongdoing.

A bargain hunter at an estate sale in Maine came away with a purchase that's downright medieval. Will Sideri said he was looking for a KitchenAid mixer, bookshelf or vintage clothes but what caught his eye was a framed document. The 24-year-old soon learned the page contained Latin script and musical notations from about 700 years ago. Academics say it came from a Roman Catholic liturgy used in the Beauvais Cathedral in France, and dates to the late 13th century. It was a bargain for Sideri at $75. An expert on manuscripts says the document could be worth as much as $10,000.

A West Virginia woman who set a fire that killed her parents three years ago when she was 16 has been sentenced to life, but will be eligible for parole in 15 years. The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported that Madison Wine received the sentence Thursday in Wood County Circuit Court. She was charged as an adult with murder, attempted murder, arson and cruelty to animals in the May 2019 fire that killed Robert and Charolette Taylor, injured a 6-year-old and killed dogs in their Davisville home. Wine read a statement in court saying her actions weren’t intentional and she “didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”

Protesters disrupted a public hearing on Johns Hopkins University’s proposed police force, prompting officials to move the event to an online-only format. News outlets report that students took over the stage Thursday night to protest the creation of a private armed police force. The meeting was the first in a series meant for the community to give feedback on a draft memorandum of understanding between the university and Baltimore Police. The document details how the university would create a force to patrol its campuses. Critics, including students, faculty and the community, have questioned how the police force will be held accountable.

Social media users shared a range of false claims this week. Here are the facts: President Joe Biden did not announce that the U.S. is signing a U.N. “Small Arms Treaty,” that would establish an international gun control registry. There is no scientific evidence to suggest humans or other mammals vaccinated with mRNA shots die within five years. A video shows traffic at the Finnish-Russian border last month, not Russians fleeing after Putin announced the partial mobilization of reservists to Ukraine. Florida ranks 48th in the nation in average public school teacher pay, not 9th.

The Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, Dr. Mehmet Oz, has released his health records as he maneuvers to keep questions about Democratic rival John Fetterman’s recovery from a stroke front and center. Dr. Rebecca Kurth wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that she found the heart surgeon-turned-TV celebrity to be in “excellent health” in an annual checkup Thursday. The release of the New York City doctor’s note and health records comes as Oz has increasingly made Fetterman’s fitness to serve a central theme in his campaign and as Oz is trying to close a gap in polls. Fetterman didn't immediately comment Friday.

Students in some Tampa Bay-area schools are using foam rollers and vibrating spheres to massage their muscles. It’s all part of a new physical education curriculum from quarterback Tom Brady, whose vision for healthy living is fueling a fitness empire. The arrangement with schools in Pinellas County, Florida, marks a foray into education for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar and his methods — including some that have been criticized as pseudoscience. If all goes well in Pinellas County, Brady’s foundation is looking to use the program as a model for other school districts.

Sudan’s ruling military general says he will not run in future elections for a civilian-led government, but he offered no timeline on a vote that would clear the way for him to relinquish power. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan spoke with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, nearly one year after mounting a coup that upended the Arabic-speaking African nation’s short-lived transition to democracy. Burhan said that once an elected government is in place, the armed forces would be another institution of that government rather than retain a higher status.

A West Virginia circuit judge is retiring at the end of the year. The Supreme Court says Judge Phillip D. Gaujot will retire from the 17th Judicial Circuit on Dec. 31. The circuit covers Monongalia County. Then-Gov. Joe Manchin appointed Gaujot to the bench in 2009, and he was elected in 2012 and reelected in 2016. Gaujot graduated from West Virginia University in 1968 and received his law degree from WVU College of Law in 1971.

Alabama officials have called off the lethal injection of a man convicted in a 1999 workplace shooting because of time concerns and trouble accessing the inmate’s veins. Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said prison officials called off Thursday’s execution after they determined inmate Arthur Miller’s, “veins could not be accessed in accordance with our protocol” before a midnight deadline to get the execution underway. Miller has been returned to his cell at the south Alabama prison, Hamm said. The halt came three hours after a divided U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to begin.

Millennial leaders are rising at the United Nations General Assembly. Shaped by the borderless internet, growing economic inequality and an increasingly dire climate crisis, the Generation Y cohort of presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other “excellencies” is making their mark at the largest gathering of world leaders. This week at the United Nations offers a glimpse of the latest generation of leaders in power, as a critical mass of them – born generally between 1981 and 1996 – now represent and rule countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Powerful Hurricane Fiona is pounding Bermuda with heavy rains and winds as it sweeps by the island on a route that is forecast to have approaching northeastern Canada as a still-powerful storm late Friday. Authorities in Bermuda opened shelters and closed schools and offices ahead of Fiona. Premier David Burt urged residents to “take care of yourself and your family.” The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued a hurricane watch over extensive coastal expanses of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Fiona should reach Canada as a “large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds.”

Two people with knowledge of the matter say Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka is headed for a likely suspension for violating a team policy. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the reigning Eastern Conference champion Celtics have not revealed any details publicly. The length of the suspension has not been determined.

More than 4 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves for the new omicron-specific booster shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the count Thursday. The new shots are designed to target the most common omicron strains of the coronavirus. The U.S. has ordered 171 million doses of the new boosters for the fall. The first hint of public demand for the new boosters comes as health experts lamented President Joe Biden's recent remark on “60 Minutes” that “the pandemic is over." The president later clarified his comment after facing heat from health experts, who worry the message might slow prevention efforts.

A University of Utah student was arrested on suspicion of making terrorist threats after police said she threatened to detonate a nuclear reactor if the school’s football team failed to win a game last Saturday. Charging documents filed in Salt Lake City on Wednesday allege that the student posted threats before Utah’s game against San Diego State University on Saturday. The University of Utah said Thursday that the student admitted to posting the threat and told investigators that it was meant as a joke. Utah defeated San Diego State in Saturday’s game, 35-7.

A former suburban Chicago police officer who was fired after he shot into a car two years ago, killing a Black man and seriously wounding the man’s girlfriend, has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. On Thursday, the Lake County State's Attorney's Office announced it had unsealed grand jury indictments against former Waukegan police Officer Dante Salinas in the Oct. 20, 2020, shooting that killed a 19-year-old local man, Marcellis Stinnette, and wounded his girlfriend, Tafara Williams. He was also indicted on charges of aggravated battery and official misconduct stemming from a separate incident in 2019. The shooting sparked protests and led the police department to fire Salinas for what it described as “multiple policy and procedure violations.”

A NASA spacecraft is about to clobber a small, harmless asteroid millions of miles away. The spacecraft named Dart will zero in on the asteroid Monday, intent on slamming it head-on at 14,000 mph. The impact should be just enough to nudge the asteroid into a slightly tighter orbit around its companion space rock. It's the first save-the-world experiment of its kind. If successful, the test will demonstrate that if a killer asteroid ever heads our way, we'll stand a fighting chance. Dart blasted off on the $325 million mission last fall.

Sal Durante was 19 when he caught Roger Maris’ record-breaking 61st home run in 1961. He sold the ball for $5,000, and it was returned to Maris as part of the deal. That story sounds downright quaint by today’s standards. But it’s a reminder that even six decades ago, fans who caught famous souvenirs faced a tricky choice. Should they keep the ball, sell it, or give it back to the player who hit it? Now Aaron Judge is one home run shy of tying Maris for the American League record.

Four occupied regions in eastern and southern Ukraine are set to start voting Friday in Kremlin-engineered referendums on whether to become part of Russia, setting the stage for Moscow to annex the areas in a sharp escalation of the nearly seven-month war. Ukraine and its Western allies have rejected the votes as illegitimate and neither free nor fair, saying they will have no binding force. The votes come as Russian President Vladimir Putin dramatically upped the ante by declaring a partial mobilization and declaring his readiness to use nuclear weapons. In 2014, Russia held a referendum in Ukraine’s Crimean region that also was denounced by the West as illegal and illegitimate. It later annexed the peninsula.

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is misrepresenting her opponent's legislative record on education in a video being widely shared on social media. In the video, set to dramatic music and featuring patriotic visuals, Lake falsely suggests that Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs wanted to ban the Pledge of Allegiance in schools and to teach kindergartners about sex, misrepresenting Hobbs' voting record and the content of various Arizona education bills. Hobbs did not vote to block documents such as the Pledge of Allegiance from schools, and her support for a bill for K-12 sex education specified that the sex education be age-appropriate.

There’s a new nature documentary series that promises to show viewers incredible animal behavior in vibrant clarity. Heard that all before? Well, this one is on steroids. “Super/Natural,” a six-part series from National Geographic on Disney+, has tapped “Avatar” creator James Cameron as executive producer, and he’s added special effects on top of leading-edge filmmaking technology. The effects sometimes morph the animals into something like stars in a Marvel movie, with their bellows distorting the air, lumbering attacks that cause shock waves in sand or pheromones from an insect rendered as bursting noxious clouds. Even trees light up when sugars move through their roots.

A former director of Mississippi’s welfare agency has pleaded guilty to new federal charges in a conspiracy to misspend tens of millions of dollars that were intended to help needy families. Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the U.S. The charges are part of the largest public corruption case in the state’s history. John Davis appeared in federal court Thursday and pleaded guilty to one conspiracy and one counts of fraud against the government. State charges against Davis are being dropped, and he has agreed to testify against others in the case. Davis remains free on bond and sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 2.

The rare eruption of deadly clashes this week between Palestinians and their own security forces has cast a spotlight on the growing ranks of disenfranchised, impoverished young men taking up arms. Many have spent their entire lives in a territory occupied by Israel, scarred by infighting and segmented by checkpoints. They have not seen a national election since 2006. They have no hope in the long-stalemated peace process. Their aging president, Mahmoud Abbas, is in his 18th year of what was supposed to be a four-year term. Experts also attribute the surge in West Bank violence to a leadership vacuum and looming succession crisis. The occupied territories have seen the deadliest violence this year since 2016.

An Indiana judge has blocked the state’s abortion ban from being enforced, putting the new law on hold as abortion clinic operators argue that it violates the state constitution. Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction Thursday against the ban that took effect one week ago. The injunction was sought by abortion clinic operators who argued in a lawsuit that the state constitution protects access to the medical procedure. The judge wrote “there is reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction of personal autonomy offends the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution” and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit.

It used to be that organic crops were an oddity, destined for health food stores or maybe a few farmers markets. But over the decades, something unexpected happened — demand for organics started increasing so fast that it began outstripping the supply produced in the U.S. Now a new challenge has emerged: It’s not getting consumers to pay the higher prices, it’s convincing enough farmers to get past their organic reluctance and start taking advantage of the good money pouring in. Instead of growing to meet the demand, the number of farmers making the switch is actually dropping. Last month, U.S. Department of Agriculture committed up to $300 million to recruit and help more farmers to make the switch.

West Virginia wildlife officials have embarked on an effort to restore the northern bobwhite quail population. Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday that 12,000 bobwhite quail have been added at wildlife management areas across the state.  Some quail have been fitted with transmitters to monitor their survival and habitat use. The goal is to bring the numbers to 20,000, and the Division of Natural Resources will conduct more stockings through October. It’s part of a five-year restoration project. Bobwhite quail, known for their “bobwhite” call, disappeared in the state in the late 1970s due to a combination of habitat destruction and harsh winters.

A Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated one of the largest bribery scandals in U.S. military history has been arrested in Venezuela. The U.S. Marshals Service says Leonard Glenn Francis was arrested Tuesday as he was about to board a plane in Caracas. Francis was under home arrest in San Diego when he cut off his GPS ankle bracelet and escaped on Sept. 4, prompting an international manhunt. Francis was awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in 2015 to bribing Navy officers to help his ship servicing company, then overcharging the military at least $35 million. Dozens of Navy officers were convicted for the scheme.

Investigators say they found evidence a former Trump official who heads Latin America’s biggest development bank carried on a romantic relationship with his chief of staff. The Associated Press obtained a confidential report by a law firm hired by the Inter-American Development Bank’s board triggered by an anonymous complaint of misconduct against its president, Mauricio Claver-Carone. Investigators say it is reasonable to conclude the relationship existed since at least 2019, when both held senior positions on the National Security Council. Exhibit A is a “contract” the two purportedly drew up on the back of a restaurant place mat in which they outlined a timeline to divorce their spouses and get married. The report says Claver-Carone denies having the relationship.

Heads of state from Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands have launched a “Rising Nations Initiative” as they race toward solutions to a rising ocean level that will make their countries all but uninhabitable in the coming decades. Tuvalu’s prime minister Kausea Natano and Marshall Islands president David Kabua laid out their plans Wednesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, forming a global partnership aimed to preserve the sovereignty, heritage and rights of Pacific atoll island nations whose very existence have been threatened by climate change. The initiative has already gained the support of countries like U.S., Germany, South Korea and Canada, all of which have acknowledged the unique burden that island nations like Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands must shoulder.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is set to make his first courtroom appearance and begin testifying in a trial in Connecticut over how much in damages he must pay for calling the Sandy Hook school shooting a hoax. Jones is expected to take the stand in Waterbury on Thursday, as part of a lawsuit by an FBI agent who responded to the school and the families of eight children and adults who died. A total of 20 first graders and six educators were killed at the Newtown school in 2012. Victims' relatives have given emotional testimony during the trial's first six days about being traumatized by people calling the shooting fake.

Joan Didion, a master of rhythm and of the meaning of the unsaid, was remembered Wednesday as an inspiring and fearless writer and valued, exacting and sometimes eccentric friend. She was described as a woman who didn’t like to speak on the phone unless asked to or who might serve chocolate soufflés at a child’s birthday party because she didn’t know how to bake a cake. Carl Bernstein, Donna Tartt and Fran Liebowitz were among those attending, along with relatives, friends and editors and other colleagues from The New Yorker and her last publishing house, Penguin Random House.

A man is facing charges after police say an improvised destructive device was found in his vehicle across the street from a Maryland middle school. The Baltimore Sun reports that Baltimore County police wrote in charging documents that once the device was disabled, a test found that it contained materials that in combination are “consistent with a homemade improvised explosive mixture." Two schools were evacuated Tuesday, but police said Wednesday that it doesn’t appear that the school was the intended target. According to charging documents, police found Joseph Vickery around the middle school and he reportedly told police there was an “explosive device inside of his vehicle." Vickery faces possession of explosive device-related charges and other offenses.

A Michigan man charged in a New Year’s Eve shooting at a West Virginia bar that wounded seven people has pleaded guilty to a federal gun crime. Kymoni Davis of Redford, Michigan, entered the plea Wednesday to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He still faces several state counts of wanton endangerment and malicious wounding pertaining to the people who were shot. According to court records, Davis was thrown out of a party at the Kulture Hookah Bar in Huntington on Dec. 31, 2019. He returned with a 9mm pistol and fired shots through the door before fleeing. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine at his Dec. 19 sentencing.

The Michigan Supreme Court won’t reinstate the conviction of a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach who was accused of lying to investigators about campus sports doctor Larry Nassar. The state's highest court declined to take an appeal from the attorney general's office. Prosecutors had widen their investigation beyond Nassar, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing athletes, mostly female gymnasts. But prosecutors now have lost two high-profile cases. Kathie Klages was sentenced to 90 days in jail for lying to police about she what knew about Nassar back in 1997. But the Michigan Court of Appeals in December threw out her conviction and said her statements in a 2018 interview with were not crucial.

President Vladimir Putin says he won’t hesitate to use nuclear weapons to protect Russian territory, a threat that comes as Moscow is poised to annex swaths of Ukraine that Moscow has taken over after hastily called referendums there. While the West has heard such rhetoric from him before, the circumstances are starkly different. In the Kremlin-orchestrated referendums, set to start Friday, residents will be asked whether they want to become part of Russia — a vote certain to go Moscow’s way. That means Russia could absorb those lands as early as next week. Some see that as a last-ditch attempt to force Ukraine and the West into accepting the current status quo in the conflict.

The public funeral for an eastern Indiana police officer who died Sunday after being shot in the head during a traffic stop will be held next week. The Richmond Police Department says that the funeral for 28-year-old Officer Seara Burton will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Richmond High School. Following the funeral, a procession will carry her body to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, where she will be interred in a section dedicated to public safety heroes. A public viewing will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Richmond Municipal Building.

Relatives say two U.S. military veterans who went missing while fighting Russia with Ukrainian forces have been released after about three months in captivity. The families of 39-year-old Alex Drueke and 27-year-old Andy Huynh announced their release in a joint statement Wednesday. The two men went to help Ukrainian forces and became friends because both are from Alabama. They went missing after their unit came under heavy fire in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border June 9. The family statement says both men are safely in the custody of the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia. It was not immediately clear whether their release was part of a prisoner swap.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued another grave warning to the West after his country’s military suffered a series of embarrassing setbacks in Ukraine. Putin has ordered a partial mobilization that will make up to 300,000 more troops available but could also make battlefield setbacks more personal to many Russians. In addition, Putin's thinly-veiled threat of Moscow’s willingness to use nuclear weapons comes as Russia prepares to hold referendums in Ukrainian regions it has occupied. Those votes, which start Friday, have been dismissed as a sham by Ukraine and its allies, including U.S. President Joe Biden. Western officials said Putin's threats would not affect their resolve to back Ukraine politically and militarily.

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Large numbers of Russians have rushed to book one-way tickets out of the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of military reservists for the war in Ukraine. Flights filled up quickly and the prices of tickets for remaining connections sky-rocketed on Wednesday, apparently driven by fears that Russia’s borders could soon close. Tickets for the Moscow-Belgrade flights operated by Air Serbia, the only European carrier besides Turkish Airlines to maintain flights to Russia despite a European Union flight embargo, sold out for the next several days. The price for flights from Moscow to Istanbul or Dubai kept increasing, reaching as high as 9,200 euros ($9,119) for a one-way economy class fare.

Robert Sarver says he has started the process of selling the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, a move that comes only eight days after he was suspended by the NBA over workplace misconduct including racist speech and hostile behavior toward employees. Sarver made the announcement Wednesday, saying selling “is the best course of action.” He has owned the teams since 2004, when he purchased it for about $400 million. He is not the lone owner, but the primary one. Forbes recently estimated the value of the Suns at $1.8 billion.

NASA is trying to fuel its moon rocket in a leak test ahead of a launch attempt as early as next week. Wednesday's demo had barely begun when hydrogen began escaping at the same place and same time as before. Engineers worked to plug the leak and proceeded with the test. But the leak persisted. The daylong test in Florida will determine whether the 322-foot rocket is ready for its first flight, a lunar-orbiting mission with mannequins in place of astronauts. Once launched, the crew capsule atop the rocket will be the first to orbit the moon in 50 years. Astronauts could climb aboard in a couple years.

New York’s attorney general sued former President Donald Trump and his company on Wednesday, alleging business fraud involving some of their most prized assets, including properties in Manhattan, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit, filed in state court in New York, is the culmination of the Democrat’s three-year civil investigation of Trump and the Trump Organization. Trump’s three eldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump, were also named as defendants, along with two longtime company executives, Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney. Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, said the lawsuit is “neither focused on the facts nor the law.”

Officials say a fire at an oil refinery in Ohio killed two people and the facility has been shut down. The fire started Tuesday night at BP’s Husky Toledo Refinery. There is no word on how it started or the extent of the damage. A BP spokesperson said Wednesday the two workers had died but did not provide their names or further details about the injuries they sustained. All other staffers have been accounted for and the plant located just east of Toledo was safely shut down. The company says its highest priority is the safety of its staff, responders and the public. BP's website says the refinery can process up to 160,000 barrels of crude oil per day and “has been an important part of the region’s economy for more than 100 years.”

Lottery officials say two people who wish to remain anonymous have claimed a $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot after a single ticket was sold in a Chicago suburb for a late July drawing, opting to take a lump sum payment of $780.5 million. The Illinois Lottery said Wednesday the prize for the July 29 drawing was claimed by two individuals who agreed to split the prize if they won. The lottery says it is unable to share any information about the winners except to say that they must be “over the moon” with their win. The jackpot-winning ticket was bought at a Speedway gas station and convenience store in Des Plaines. The jackpot was the nation’s third-largest lottery prize.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation is taking applications for workers in Marshall County. The department says the openings are for entry-level transportation engineering technician trainees and bridge inspectors. Marshall County will host a hiring event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 18 at Marshall County headquarters in Moundsville. Applicants should apply online at the WVDOT Careers page. That will be followed by an email test, and applicants who pass the test should bring the email notification to the hiring event.

Protests have erupted across Iran in recent days after a 22-year-old woman died while being held by the morality police for violating the country’s strictly enforced Islamic dress code. Anger has seen women remove their mandatory headscarves, or hijabs, from covering their hair after the death of Mahsa Amini, who was picked up by morality police over her allegedly loose headscarf. Amini’s death has angered many Iranians, particularly the young, who have come to see it as part of the Islamic Republic’s heavy-handed policing of dissent and the morality police’s increasingly violent treatment of young women.

Hundreds of Native Americans returned to their historic capital in Macon, Georgia, this weekend for the 30th annual Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration. Nearly 200 years after the last Creek Indians were forcibly removed to Oklahoma to make way for slave labor in the Deep South, citizens of the Muscogee Creek Nation are celebrating their survival. They're also supporting an initiative to put the National Park Service in charge of protecting the heart of the Creek Confederacy. A federal review is nearly complete, meaning Interior Secretary Deb Haaland could soon ask Congress to create the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve.

A former Minneapolis police officer who pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday. Thomas Lane is already serving a 2 1/2-year federal sentence for violating Floyd's civil rights. When it comes to the state's case, prosecutors and Lane’s attorneys agreed to a recommended sentence of three years, and prosecutors agreed to allow him to serve that penalty at the same time as his federal sentence, and in a federal prison. Lane is expected to appear at his sentencing remotely from a federal prison in Colorado.

A campaign that could bring legalized sports betting to California has become the most expensive ballot-initiative fight in U.S. history. Two rival proposals on the November ballot are pitting wealthy Native American tribes against FanDuel, DraftKings and other online gambling companies. At stake is what's expected to be a multibillion-dollar marketplace. Together, both sides have raised over $400 million. A torrent of advertising has crossed TV and cable screens, much of it from the gambling companies. They're making promises about using revenues to fix homelessness, which Gov. Gavin Newsom and other critics say is a false promise.

The Department of Justice has charged 48 people in what prosecutors have called a scheme to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to defraud the U.S. government of $250 million. Prosecutors say the defendants obtained government funds under the guise of providing food to underprivileged children. But just a small fraction of the money went toward feeding kids and the rest was instead laundered through shell companies and spent on property, luxury cars and travel. Prosecutors say it is the largest fraud case to date that deals with the misuse of government funds during the pandemic.

Aaron Judge hit his 60th home run, matching Babe Ruth and moving within one of Roger Maris’ American League season record. The New York Yankees slugger drove a 3-1 sinker from Pittsburgh’s Wil Crowe 430 feet to the left field seats leading off the ninth inning. Judge’s third home run in two games and ninth in September thrilled a screaming crowd at Yankee Stadium. He answered pleas for a curtain call despite New York’s 8-5 deficit. He equaled Ruth’s total for the 1927 Yankees and has 15 games remaining to match and surpass Maris’ total for New York in 1961.

A Utah boy who suffered a serious head injury after falling from a bunk bed during last month’s Little League World Series has returned home from the hospital and his family is suing the league and the company that made the bed. The family's lawyer,  Ken Fulginiti, said Tuesday that 12-year-old Easton Oliverson has undergone three brain operations and is now experiencing seizures. The lawsuit accuses Little League International and Savoy Contract Furniture of Williamsport of negligence for using or selling bunk beds without safety railings. A Little League spokesman declined comment and Savoy did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Fulginiti says Easton fell off the top bunk in his sleep on Aug. 15.

Nearly every single Alaskan got a financial windfall amounting to more than $3,000 Tuesday. That's the day the state began distributing payments from Alaska’s investment fund that has been seeded with money from the state’s oil riches. The payments, officially called the Permanent Fund Dividend or the PFD locally, amounted to $2,622. That's the highest amount ever. Alaska lawmakers added $662 as a one-time benefit to help residents with high energy costs. Residents use the money in various ways, from buying big-screen TVs, vehicles or other goods, using it for vacations or putting it in savings or college funds. In rural Alaska, the money can help offset the enormous food and fuel costs.

The Southern Baptists’ Executive Committee has voted effectively to cut ties with two congregations. One is an LGBTQ-friendly church, College Park Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, that had itself quit the denomination decades ago. The other is Amazing Grace Community Church of Franklinville, New Jersey. The Executive Committee cited its “lack of cooperation ... to resolve concerns regarding alleged discriminatory behavior.” The votes came at the end of a two-day meeting even as the convention responds to a consultant's report of sexual abuse in its churches and mistreatment of survivors by denominational leaders. The convention acknowledges it is now under a Department of Justice investigation.

A New Mexico politician and Trump supporter who was removed and barred from elected office for his role in the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, is attempting to appeal that decision to the state Supreme Court. Cowboys for Trump cofounder and former county commissioner Couy Griffin on Tuesday notified the high court of his intent to appeal. The ruling against Griffin this month from a Santa Fe-based state District Court was the first to remove an elected official from office in connection with the attack that disrupted Congress as it was trying to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

Venezuelan migrants flown from San Antonio to the upscale Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard have sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his transportation secretary for engaging in a “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme” to relocate them. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Boston. It alleges that migrants were falsely told they were going to Boston or Washington and were induced with $10 McDonald’s gift certificates. DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Monday, the sheriff of Bexar County, Texas, which includes San Antonio, opened an investigation into the flights but didn’t say what laws may have been broken.

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