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    So you’re paying attention to the tectonic geopolitical issues at the U.N. General Assembly, and most of them are addressed in carefully calibrated and crafted diplomatic language. Then, suddenly, someone like Ralph Gonsalves steps up to the podium. In an ocean of speakers from around the world, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines stood out with his use of metaphor and imagery. One sample: “Trying to go up a fast-moving down escalator is a challenging exercise.” Gonsalves is no stranger to summoning eloquence for political effect at the United Nations. Last year, he issued a clarion call after a volcanic eruption in his country displaced 20,000 people.

      A breach of sensitive voting equipment data from a rural county in Georgia spilled into the public light last month when documents and emails produced in response to subpoenas revealed the involvement of high-profile supporters of former President Donald Trump. Since then, a series of revelations about what happened in Coffee County have raised questions about whether the Dominion Voting Systems machines used throughout Georgia have been compromised. The tale involves a bail bondsman, a prominent attorney tied to Trump and a cast of characters from an area that rarely draws notice from outsiders.

        Seven Sri Lankans held captive by Russian forces in an agricultural factory in eastern Ukraine say they were beaten and tortured for months before escaping on foot as the Russians withdrew from the Kharkiv region. One said he was shot in the foot; another says he had his head slammed with the butt of a rifle. The Sri Lankans recounted their ordeal to reporters on Saturday. Four of the seven were medical students in the city of Kupiansk and three were working there when Russian forces poured across the border in late February. They said they were captured at a checkpoint and held in the factory near the Russian border with around 20 Ukrainians.

          Belarus' opposition leader says the fate of Belarus and Ukraine are “interconnected” and both countries have to fight together for their very existence because Russia doesn’t view them as independent sovereign states. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya fled to Lithuania after Russian ally Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in disputed August 2020 elections. She told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly that “there will be no free Belarus without free Ukraine.” Tsikhanouskaya said she came to the United Nations to give voice to the people “who are fighting the dictatorship."

            The way President Joe Biden sees it, the overturning of Roe vs. Wade by the Supreme Court wasn't just about whether a woman has the right to obtain an abortion. “It’s about freedom,” Biden said this past week while in New York. Vice President Kamala Harris tells voters that “extremist, so-called leaders trumpet the rhetoric of freedom while they take away freedoms." That deliberate echo of “freedom” from Biden, Harris and other top White House officials shows how Democrats at the highest ranks are increasingly co-opting traditionally conservative rhetoric in a blunt appeal to a broad swath of the electorate this fall.

              It’s been a long road to the upcoming Capitol riot trial of the the leader of the extremist group Oath Keepers. But the prosecution’s case against Stewart Rhodes covers a lot more than just the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021. Rhodes and four co-defendants are facing the difficult-to-prove charge of seditious conspiracy. Prosecutors will try to show that for the Oath Keepers, the siege wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment protest but that it was part of a weekslong plot to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power from election-denier Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Jury selection begins Tuesday in federal court in the nation’s capital. The trial is expected to last several weeks.

                A Sunday parliamentary election will determine who next governs major industrial economy and key NATO member Italy. Given the country's fractured political spectrum, no single party stands much chance of winning enough seats to govern alone, so it could take weeks to build a ruling coalition. Electoral alliances are vital in how seats are divvied up. The center-right's solid campaign pact has the edge, since the rival center-left forces failed to forge a united camp. Italy could see its first far-right premier of the post-war era and its first woman in that office — Giorgia Meloni, whose Brothers of Italy party has led opinion polls.

                It's been a long road to the upcoming Capitol riot trial of the the leader of the extremist group Oath Keepers. But the prosecution's case against Stewart Rhodes covers a lot more than just the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021. Rhodes and four co-defendants are facing the difficult-to-prove charge of seditious conspiracy. Prosecutors will try to show that for the Oath Keepers, the siege wasn't a spur-of-the-moment protest but that it was part of a weekslong plot to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power from election-denier Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Jury selection begins Tuesday in federal court in the nation's capital. The trial is expected to last several weeks.

                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.

                China has been increasingly using civilian ships including hundreds of fishing trawlers to back up its vast territorial claims and project military power. China’s navy is already the world’s largest by ship count and has been rapidly building new warships. It launched its first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier in June and at least five new destroyers are on the way soon. Experts say civilian vessels such as fishing boats that are anchored for months at a time in the disputed South China Sea do more than just augment the raw numbers of ships. They perform tasks that would be difficult for the military to carry out such as slowly displacing other vessels without involving armed conflict and complicating the rules of engagement.

                In one of the most politically competitive states in the U.S., the Democratic contender for Pennsylvania governor is waging a notably drama-free campaign. Josh Shapiro is betting that a relatively under the radar approach will resonate with voters exhausted by a deeply charged political environment. But Shapiro faces a test of whether his comparatively low-key style will energize Democrats to rally against Republican Doug Mastriano, whom many in the party view as an existential threat. The GOP candidate supports ending abortion rights and would be in position to appoint the secretary of state, who oversees elections in a state that's often decisive in choosing presidents.

                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.

                California Gov. Gavin Newsom is traveling to Texas amid a public feud with the state's Republican governor. Newsom is on his way to an easy victory for a second term as governor in California. With little pressure back home, Newsom has been spending the millions of dollars in his campaign account in other states. He has paid for ads in Florida, Texas and other conservative states. This week, Newsom criticized Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and other conservative governors as “doubling down on stupid.” Newsom's actions will elevate his national profile, fueling speculation about his political future.

                The tide of international opinion appears to have decisively shifted against Russia, as a number of non-aligned countries joined the United States and its allies in condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine and its threats to the principles of the international rules-based order. In what many believed earlier this year was Western wishful thinking, much of the international community spoke out against the conflict in rare displays of unity at the often fractured United Nations. The coalescing condemnation picked up steam when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the mobilization of an additional 300,000 troops to Ukraine, signaling the unlikelihood of a quick end to the war and suggested nuclear weapons may be an option.

                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 by 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.


                Content by Brand Ave. Studios. The annual Amazon Prime Day is coming July 12 and 13, and per usual will offer discounts on many of your favorite things.

                Elton John transformed the White House South Lawn into a musical lovefest Friday night as he played a farewell gig to honor everyday “heroes” like teachers, nurses and AIDS activists. But as it turns out, the event was also to honor the 75-year-old British songwriter — President Joe Biden surprised him with the National Humanities Medal for being a “tidal wave” who helped people rise up for justice. John said he’d played some beautiful venues before, but the stage in front of the White House, beneath a massive open-air tent on a perfect autumn night, was “probably the icing on the cake.”

                Public school advocates who oppose a massive expansion of Arizona’s private school voucher system have filed enough signatures to block it from taking effect. The law extends the program to every child in the state. It will be on hold instead of taking effect Saturday. If a review finds that Save Our Schools Arizona has met the requirement for nearly 119,000 valid signatures it will remain blocked until the November 2024 election. Save Our Schools director Beth Lewis says the group turned in just under 142,000 signatures on Friday. Voters rejected an earlier  attempt to expand the voucher program by a 2/3 majority in the 2018 election.

                North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Ted Budd is leaning into his support for abortion restrictions and his allegiance to former President Donald Trump as Democrats fight for an elusive victory in the Southern swing state. Democratic optimism remains tempered given the state’s recent red tilt. But Democratic officials believe Budd's candidacy gives them a real chance at flipping a Senate seat — and the balance of power in Washington — this fall. Budd appeared alongside Trump at a rally in Wilmington Friday night, where the former president praised the candidate as “a conservative, America First all-star in Congress” and urged his supporters to turn out to vote.

                MONONGAHELA, Pa. — House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday confronted President Joe Biden and the Democratic majority in Congress with a conservative midterm election agenda filled with Trump-like promises, working not only to win over voters but to hold together the uneasy coalitio…

                Republican J.R. Majewski insisted Friday that he would stay in the race for a competitive northwest Ohio congressional seat after The Associated Press reported earlier this week that he misrepresented key elements of his Air Force service. “I flew into combat zones often, specifically in Afghanistan and I served my country proud,” Majewski said at a news conference. The comments came amid growing fallout for Majewski, who repeatedly said he deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, but instead served a six-month stint loading and unloading planes while based in Qatar, according to records obtained by the AP through a public records request.

                Embattled Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee has resigned at the request of the city’s mayor Lauren McLean. The announcement came Friday afternoon amid complaints from officers, reported by KTVB this week, and after an investigation into an allegation that he injured a subordinate in a neck restraints demonstration last year. Boise City spokesperson Maria Weeg said “It became clear to the mayor the department needed different leadership.” City officials say Lee’s resignation will take effect Oct. 14, but he will be placed on leave until then. McLean appointed retired officer Ron Winegar as acting chief.

                President Andrzej Duda of Poland has awarded the country’s top civilian honor to a pro-democracy fighter who recently was accused in the media of manipulating evidence while investigating a 2010 airplane crash that killed the then-president and 95 other prominent Poles. Duda said Friday that he awarded The Order of the White Eagle to Antoni Macierewicz for his contribution to Poland’s sovereignty and service to the country. Macierewicz co-founded a dissident organization in the 1970s that laid foundations for the nationwide Solidarity movement that toppled communist rule in 1989. As head of a special government commission, he has insisted the plane crash in Russia that killed President Lech Kaczynski was an assassination planned in Moscow.

                Georgia ran a surplus of more than $6 billion in the budget year ended June 30. That means the state’s next governor and lawmakers could spend or give back billions more than this year. The State Accounting Office says Georgia had all that extra money even after spending $28.6 billion in the 2022 budget year. Total state general fund receipts rose a whopping 22%. Georgia has $6.58 billion in cash that leaders can spend however they want. Some money is spoken for, with the state likely to transfer more than $1 billion to roadbuilding after waiving gas taxes since March. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams have other spending priorities as well.

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