AP News in Brief at 9:04 p.m. EST

Dems, GOP make urgent final pitches as election season wraps

COATESVILLE, Pa.(AP) — Coast to coast, candidates and big-name backers made final appeals to voters Monday in the last hours of a fraught midterm election season, with Republicans excited about the prospect of winning back Congress even as President Joe Biden predicted his party would «surprise the living devil out of a lot of people.»

Democrats contend Republican victories could profoundly and adversely reshape the country, eliminating abortion rights nationwide and unleashing broad threats to the very future of American democracy.Republicans say the public is tired of Biden policies amid high inflation and concerns about crime.

«We know in our bones that our democracy is at risk,» Biden said during an evening rally in Maryland, where Democrats have one of their best opportunities to reclaim a Republican-held governor´s seat.»I want you know, we´ll meet this moment.»

That event followed Biden´s late-campaign strategy of sticking largely to his party´s strongholds rather than stumping in more competitive territory, where control of Congress may ultimately be decided.Biden won Maryland with more than 65% of the vote in 2020 and appeared with Wes Moore, the 44-year-old Rhodes Scholar who could become the state´s first Black governor.

Keeping his message positive, the president said at an earlier virtual event, «Imagine what we can do in a second term if we maintain control.»


Putin-linked businessman admits to US election meddling

Kremlin-connected entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted Monday that he had interfered in U.S.elections and would continue to do so — confirming for the first time the accusations that he has rejected for years.

«Gentlemen, we have interfered, are interfering and will interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do,» Prigozhin boasted in remarks posted on social media.

The statement, from the press service of his catering company that earned him the nickname «Putin’s chef,» came on the eve of the U.S.midterm elections.

It was the second major admission in recent months by the 61-year-old businessman, who has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin has previously sought to keep his activities under the radar and now appears increasingly interested in gaining political clout — although his goal in doing so was not immediately clear.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that Prigozhin’s comments «do not tell us anything new or surprising.»


US voters fret about democracy, polarization before election

American voters are fractured politically and culturally ahead of Election Day, and they are anxious about where their country is heading — on inflation, abortion, immigration, crime, and much more.

They also sense something more fundamental at stake at a time of rising mistrust of institutions and each other: the future of democracy.

Some Americans remain hopeful, but a fretful outlook emerges from interviews with more than two dozen Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated voters before Tuesday’s midterm elections — the first since followers of former President Donald Trump tried to halt the certification of President Joe Biden´s 2020 victory.

These midterm elections are also the first since the Supreme Court took away a woman´s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, leaving the matter to states.

«This election is hugely consequential,» said Edward Foley, a professor at Ohio State University who directs its election-law program.»It´s a question of where our democracy is and how we are doing with our collective self-governance.»


AP sources: Justice Dept. watchdog probing Mass. US attorney

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department’s inspector general has opened an investigation of the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts, prompted by U.S.Attorney Rachel Rollins’ appearance at a political fundraiser featuring first lady Jill Biden, The Associated Press has learned.

An investigation by the department’s internal watchdog targeting one of the nation´s 93 U.S. attorneys — political appointees who are some of the highest-ranking federal law enforcement officials — is highly unusual.The ethics concerns surrounding Rollins threaten to undermine Attorney General Merrick Garland´s efforts to restore the Justice Department´s reputation for political independence after tumultuous years under Republican President Donald Trump.

The inspector general’s office is focusing on Rollins´ attendance at the Democratic National Committee event in July as well as her use of her personal cellphone to conduct official business, according to two people briefed on the investigation, which has been underway for weeks.

Also being examined is a trip that Rollins took to California that was paid for by an outside group, they said.They were not authorized to publicly discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Anthony Coley, the department´s chief spokesman, declined to comment and referred all questions to the inspector general´s office.A spokeswoman for the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, said it is the office´s «general practice not to confirm or deny the existence of any ongoing investigation.»


Musk’s partisan tweets call Twitter neutrality into question

Elon Musk used his Twitter megaphone to appeal to «independent-minded voters» on Monday, urging them to vote Republican in Tuesday´s U.S.midterm elections and stepping into the country’s political debate that tech company executives have largely tried to stay out of — so their platforms wouldn´t be seen as favoring one side over the other.

Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion, has expressed political views in the past, on and off the platform.But a direct endorsement of one party over another now that he owns it raises questions about Twitter´s ability to remain neutral under the rule of the world’s richest man.

«Shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties, therefore I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic,» Musk tweeted.

It’s one thing for the CEO of Wendy’s or Chick-fil-A to endorse a political party, said Jennifer Stromer-Galley, a professor at Syracuse University who studies social media and politics.It’s a whole other thing, though, for the owner of one of the world’s most high-profile information ecosystems to do so.

«These social media platforms are not just companies. It´s not just a business. It is also our digital public sphere. It´s our town square,» Stromer-Galley said.»And it feels like the public sphere is increasingly privatized and owned by these companies — and when the heads of these companies put their finger on the scale — it feels like it´s potentially skewing our democracy in harmful ways.»


Sandinistas complete their political domination of Nicaragua

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Sandinista National Liberation Front completed its political domination of Nicaragua on Monday as electoral officials said it had won control of all the country’s 153 municipalites in elections that critics called unfair.

Coming into Sunday´s elections, the party of President Daniel Ortega already controlled 141 of Nicaragua´s municipalities.But having outlawed the country´s main opposition parties and jailed dozens of opposition figures, the field was clear for the Sandinistas´ sweep.

They appeared to achieve de facto single-party status, wresting control of the last 12 municipalities that had been in the hands of other parties, though those groups were considered collaborationist by much of the exiled opposition.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed concern Friday that «the minimum conditions necessary» to hold free and fair elections do not exist in Nicaragua.It called on the government to reestablish democratic guarantees and stop the repression.

The government has shuttered some 2,000 nongovernmental groups and more than 50 media outlets as it cracked down on voices of dissent. Some 100 civil society organizations were closed Friday, the government announced.


N.Korea slams US for raising alleged arms supply to Russia

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Tuesday accused the United States of cooking up a «plot-breeding story» on its alleged arms transfer to Russia, arguing it has never sent artillery shells to Moscow.

Last week, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby accused North Korea of covertly supplying a «significant number» of the ammunitions to Russia.He said the United States believes North Korea was trying to obscure the transfer route by making it appear the weapons were being sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa.

«We regard such moves of the U.S. as part of its hostile attempt to tarnish the image of (North Korea) in the international arena,» an unidentified vice director at the ministry´s military foreign affairs office said in a statement carried by state media.

«We once again make clear that we have never had `arms dealings´ with Russia and that we have no plan to do so in the future,» the vice director said.

In September, U.S.officials confirmed a newly downgraded U.S. intelligence finding that Russia was in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea. North Korea later dismissed that report, calling on Washington to stop making «reckless remarks» and to «keep its mouth shut.»


Q&A: A look at $1.9B Powerball jackpot, how it grew so large

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Millions of lottery players around the country will try their luck again Monday night as they vie for an estimated $1.9 billion Powerball jackpot that dwarfs all previous prizes by hundreds of millions of dollars.

The jackpot is nearly $400 million larger than the previous record jackpot and will keep growing until someone wins the prize.Only four previous jackpots have topped $1 billion, but none of those are close to the current prize, which started at $20 million back on Aug. 6 and over three winless months has grown ever more massive.

A winner who opts for a lump sum payment would get an estimated $929.1 million, with the $1.9 billion for a winner who chose an annuity, paid annually over 29 years.

Even as more people attracted by the giant prize drop $2 on a Powerball ticket, the game’s ultra-long odds of 1 in 292.2 million means there still is a good chance that another drawing will pass without anyone winning the grand prize.That would push the jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing to more than $2 billion.



Fans celebrate Houston Astros’ World Series win with parade

HOUSTON (AP) — An estimated crowd of more than 1 million fans celebrated the Houston Astros’ World Series win with a downtown parade Monday.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner had encouraged fans coming to the victory parade to «arrive early, wear Astros’ colors, be loud and celebrate safely.» The parade, which started at noon and lasted for a couple of hours, packed sidewalks with people as Astros players riding floats and buses waved at cheering fans.

The parade took place without any serious incidents, except for the arrest of a 33-year-old man who was accused by Houston police of throwing a beer can at U.S.

Sen. Ted Cruz, who was riding in the back of a truck that was part of the parade. Police said the beer can hit the Republican senator from Texas in the chest and 파워볼엔트리 neck area but he did not require any medical attention. The man was arrested by police but his name was not immediately released.

He is expected to face assault charges, police said.

Video from the parade showed people along the route booing Cruz as he went by, including just before he was hit by the beer can.

Although a final tally of the number of people at the parade was not immediately available, it was expected to surpass the 1 million individuals who attended the parade held after the Astros won their first World Series in 2017, said Mary Benton, a spokeswoman for Turner.


‘Black Panther’ cast pushes Wakanda forward after Boseman

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Letitia Wright hit the Marvel Cinematic Universe scene as King T´Challa´s joyfully witty younger sister in 2018´s blockbuster «Black Panther.» But in the new sequel, the actor´s usual easygoing character delivers a more serious tone while dealing with grief.

Wright’s character takes center stage as Shuri who ventures into womanhood after the death of T’Challa.She´ll be looked upon to take the iconic Black Panther mantle in «Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,» which releases in theaters Friday. Chadwick Boseman, who played T’Challa died in August 2020.

In between «Panther» films, Wright took on a few movie projects that exercised her dramatic acting chops.

«I always try to do things that are outside the box and what people wouldn´t expect,» said Wright, who starred in dramas «The Silent Twins» and «Aisha.» She also stars in «Surrounded,» which releases next year.The actor said each of those projects challenged her enough to «stretch me as an artist.»

«That naturally helped me grow a lot more,» said the actor, whose Shuri character also appeared in «Avengers: Infinity War» and «Avengers: Endgame» as Wakanda’s princess and chief scientist.»We know Shuri as the fun, vibrant sister of the first film. … But in the film, we really followed that journey of womanhood for her.»

AP News in Brief at 9:04 p.m. EST