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

Sep 23, 2022

N. Carolina Rep. Cawthorn concedes GOP primary to Edwards

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — First-term U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn conceded his Republican primary race Tuesday to state Sen. Chuck Edwards, ousting the pro-Donald Trump firebrand from Congress after his personal and political blunders translated into constituent unhappiness.

Cawthorn called Edwards to concede the 11th Congressional District primary to Edwards, Cawthorn campaign spokesperson Luke Ball told The Associated Press.

The AP late Tuesday had not called the race, in which Edwards was leading Cawthorn and six other Republican candidates with nearly all votes counted. Cawthorn had vaulted to national prominence after winning the mountain-area seat in 2020 at age 25.

Edwards is fast-food franchise owner who with a victory would advance to the November election against Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who won Tuesday’s six-candidate Democratic primary.

Cawthorn is a vocal supporter of Trump whose series of unforced errors led top Republican leaders in North Carolina to turn against him. U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, who endorsed Edwards, said Cawthorn was an embarrassment to his constituents.

Election 2022: Mastriano wins Pennsylvania GOP governor race

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Doug Mastriano, a state senator who secured a late endorsement from Donald Trump and has trumpeted the former president’s lies about nonexistent, widespread voter fraud costing him the 2020 election, won the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania’s open governor’s office on Tuesday.

Mastriano’s victory boosts Trump’s winning record in major Republican primaries around the country. But it also raises immediate questions about whether Mastriano, who was outside the U.S. Capitol in January 2021 when a mob overran it in a deadly insurrection, can attract enough moderate swing voters to prevail in November’s general election.

Trump scored an easier victory early in the night when U.S. Rep. Ted Budd clinched the GOP nomination for Senate in North Carolina. Trump’s surprise endorsement last year lifted Budd, a little known congressman, over better-known rivals, including a former governor. He quickly pivoted to a general election message focused on breaking Democratic control of Washington.

“Under Joe Biden, America is woke and broke,” he said at a victory rally. “We need to put the brakes on this agenda for the sake of hardworking North Carolinians.”

Budd will face Democratic former state supreme court justice Cheri Beasley, who is aiming to become North Carolina’s first Black senator. She told supporters “this is our moment.”

Buffalo shooter's previous threat raises red-flag questions

Less than a year before he was accused of opening fire and killing 10 people in a racist attack at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store, 18-year-old Payton Gendron was investigated for making a threatening statement at his high school.

New York has a “red flag" law designed to keep firearms away from people who could harm themselves or others, but Gendron was still able to legally buy an AR-15-style rifle.

The “general” threat at Susquehanna Valley High School last June, when he was 17, resulted in state police being called and a mental health evaluation at a hospital. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told Buffalo radio station WKSE-FM that Gendron had talked about murder and suicide when a teacher asked about his plans after school ended, and it was quickly reported but the threat wasn’t considered specific enough to do more. No request was made to remove any firearms from the suspect, New York state police said Monday. Gendron has pleaded not guilty and his attorney has declined to comment.

The revelations are raising new questions about why the law wasn't invoked and how the effectiveness of “red flag laws” passed in 19 states and the District of Columbia can differ based on how they're implemented.

WHAT ARE RED FLAG LAWS?

Fall of Mariupol appears at hand; fighters leave steel plant

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Mariupol appeared on the verge of falling to the Russians on Tuesday as Ukraine moved to abandon the steel plant where hundreds of its fighters had held out for months under relentless bombardment in the last bastion of resistance in the devastated city.

The capture of Mariupol would make it the biggest city to be taken by Moscow's forces and would give the Kremlin a badly needed victory, though the landscape has largely been reduced to rubble.

More than 260 Ukrainian fighters — some of them seriously wounded and taken out on stretchers — left the ruins of the Azovstal plant on Monday and turned themselves over to the Russian side in a deal negotiated by the warring parties. An additional seven buses carrying an unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers from the plant were seen arriving at a former penal colony Tuesday in the town of Olenivka, approximately 88 kilometers (55 miles) north of Mariupol.

While Russia called it a surrender, the Ukrainians avoided that word and instead said the plant’s garrison had successfully completed its mission to tie down Russian forces and was under new orders.

“To save their lives. Ukraine needs them. This is the main thing,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said.

Judge suspends Michigan's dormant 1931 abortion ban

DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Tuesday suspended Michigan's dormant, decades-old ban on abortion, which means the procedure would not be illegal in the state even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its historic Roe v. Wade decision.

The Michigan law, which makes it a crime to assist in an abortion, has been on the books since 1931. But it has had no practical effect since 1973 when the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide.

The court, however, could throw out that landmark ruling before July, leaving abortion issues for each state to decide.

Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher granted a preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Michigan, saying the abortion ban likely violates the Michigan Constitution.

“After 50 years of legal abortion in Michigan, there can be no doubt but that the right of personal autonomy and bodily integrity enjoyed by our citizens includes the right of a woman, in consultation with her physician, to terminate a pregnancy,” the judge said.

US sues casino mogul Steve Wynn over relationship with China

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department sued longtime Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn on Tuesday to compel him to register as a foreign agent because of lobbying work it says he performed at the behest of the Chinese government during the Trump administration.

The department said it had advised Wynn repeatedly over the last four years to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, and is suing now because Wynn refused to do so.

Though the Justice Department has ramped up efforts to criminally prosecute people who don’t register as foreign agents, officials described this case as the first lawsuit of its kind in more than three decades.

“Where a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, FARA gives the American people a right to know," Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, the head of the department's National Security Division, said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the department declined to comment on why the department had pursued a lawsuit rather than criminal charges.

N. Korea's Kim faces 'huge dilemma' on aid as virus surges

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — During more than a decade as North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un has made “self-reliance” his governing lynchpin, shunning international help and striving instead for domestic strategies to fix his battered economy.

But as an illness suspected to be COVID-19 sickens hundreds of thousands of his people, Kim stands at a critical crossroad: Either swallow his pride and receive foreign help to fight the disease, or go it alone, enduring potential huge fatalities that may undermine his leadership.

“Kim Jong Un is in a dilemma, a really huge dilemma,” said Lim Eul-chul, a professor at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Seoul. “If he accepts U.S. or Western assistance, that can shake the self-reliance stance that he has steadfastly maintained and public confidence in him could be weakened.”

Doing nothing, however, could be calamitous.

Since acknowledging a COVID-19 outbreak last week, North Korea has said “an explosively spreading fever” has killed 56 people and sickened about 1.5 million others. Outside observers suspect most of those cases were caused by the coronavirus.

State Dept pushing to see Griner; NBA Commissioner weighs in

The State Department said Tuesday that it still pushing to have regular contact with WNBA star Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury, who has been detained in Russia for nearly three months.

A consular official was able to meet with Griner last week, when her pre-trial detention in Russia was extended for one month. Griner has been detained — wrongfully, U.S. officials have said — since February, after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage at an airport in Moscow.

The NBA also weighed in on the matter Tuesday, with Commissioner Adam Silver saying in a televised interview that he is working “side by side” with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert to try and bring Griner home.

“That consular official came away with the impression that Brittney Griner is doing as well as might be expected under conditions that can only be described as exceedingly difficult,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in Washington. “But sporadic contact is not satisfactory. It also may not be consistent with the Vienna Convention to which Russia has subscribed.”

The 31-year-old Griner — a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the U.S. — faces drug smuggling charges that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The Biden administration says Griner is being wrongfully detained. The WNBA and U.S. officials have worked toward her release, without visible progress.

Dusty demise for NASA Mars lander in July; power dwindling

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA spacecraft on Mars is headed for a dusty demise.

The Insight lander is losing power because of all the dust on its solar panels. NASA said Tuesday it will keep using the spacecraft’s seismometer to register marsquakes until the power peters out, likely in July. Then flight controllers will monitor InSight until the end of this year, before calling everything off.

“There really hasn't been too much doom and gloom on the team. We're really still focused on operating the spacecraft,” said Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Bruce Banerdt, the principal scientist.

Since landing on Mars in 2018, InSight has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes; the biggest one, a magnitude 5, occurred two weeks ago.

It will be NASA's second Mars lander lost to dust: A global dust storm took out Opportunity in 2018. In InSight's case, it's been a gradual gathering of dust, especially over the past year.

Nielsen list illustrates power of franchises for networks

NEW YORK (AP) — With the broadcast television season winding down and most scripted series about to go into hibernation for the summer, it's instructive to look at the power of network franchises.

Of the Nielsen company's 20 most popular scripted series on the air last week, 12 were parts of franchises — the three “Chicago” dramas on NBC, the three “FBI” shows on CBS, for example. That's without counting the CBS comedy “Young Sheldon,” even though it began life as a spinoff to “The Big Bang Theory.”

At a time viewers are inundated with choices, particularly on the streaming services, broadcast networks have taken the power of these ideas to heart, knowing that their viewers will be attracted to familiar concepts and storylines.

That's primed to continue, since ABC announced on Tuesday they will be trying to create a new franchise out of their drama “The Rookie,” with a spinoff due in the fall.

CBS won the week in prime time television, averaging 4.2 million viewers. NBC had 3.2 million viewers, ABC had 2.8 million, Fox had 2 million, Univision had 1.4 million, Ion Television had 950,000 and Telemundo had 830,000.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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