AP News Summary at 1:52 a.m. EST

Dems hold key governors’ mansions, suburban House districts

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats mounted a surprising show of strength Wednesday as they repelled a series of Republican challengers in closely watched contests for Congress and governor’s mansions. Ultimately, control of Capitol Hill is unclear as votes are still being counted. Democrats kept seats in districts from Virginia to Kansas and Rhode Island, while many districts in states like New York and California have not been called. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says “it is clear that House Democratic Members and candidates are strongly outperforming expectations across the country.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp defeats Stacey Abrams in rematch

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has won another term, beating Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams in a rematch of their 2018 race. The 59-year-old Kemp earlier overcame attacks from Donald Trump that threatened to snuff out Kemp’s support among fellow Republicans and lured a primary challenger. Kemp emphasized the state’s economic strength and his moves to hand money back to voters. Abrams is 48-year-old lawyer whose earlier loss to Kemp helped launch her into Democratic stardom. She proposed a broad range of plans she said would improve Georgians’ lives. Abrams lost despite raising more money than Kemp.

Election takeaways: It’s called history for a reason

WASHINGTON (AP) — Occasionally American elections provide a moment of national unity. This is not one of those occasions. The 2022 midterms have been bitter, fractious and exceedingly expensive. President Joe Biden, who has presided over unified Democratic control of Washington for the first time in over a decade, has been buffeted by out-of-control inflation, growing worries about crime and the lingering effects of a once-in-a-century pandemic. Republicans, meanwhile, have had to deal with a bitter rift between the party’s establishment wing and President Donald Trump, whose enthusiastic support for far-right first time candidates has fueled divisive primaries.

N Dakota, Arkansas reject legal marijuana, Maryland approves

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Voters have approved recreational marijuana in Maryland and rejected it in Arkansas and North Dakota in elections seen as a test of legalization’s support in even the most conservative parts of the country. Maryland’s vote for legalization made the state the 20th to take that step. Measures also were on the ballot in Missouri and South Dakota. The state voting follows moves by President Joe Biden toward decriminalizing marijuana. Biden last month announced he was pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of simple possession of marijuana under federal law. Nineteen other states had already legalized marijuana.

Powerball ticket sold in California snags record $2.04B win

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Someone who bought a Powerball ticket in Southern California has won a record $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot. The winning numbers drawn Tuesday morning at the Florida Lottery draw studio in Tallahassee were: white balls 10, 33, 41, 47 and 56, and the red Powerball was 10. The jackpot ticket was sold at Joe’s Service Center in Altadena, northeast of Los Angeles. The business will receive a maximum Powerball bonus of $1 million. The Multi-State Lottery Association said Monday night’s scheduled drawing was delayed by nearly 10 hours until Tuesday because a participating lottery had issues processing sales. The jackpot was by far the largest lottery jackpot ever won, topping the previous record $1.586 billion prize won by three Powerball ticketholders in 2016.

Twitter to add ‘official’ mark to verified big accounts

Twitter says it will add a gray “official” label to some high-profile accounts it currently verifies. The move is part of new owner Elon Musk’s overhaul of the platform’s verification system. Twitter on Saturday announced it will offer subscriptions that include the existing “blue check” for $7.99 a month. That will effectively do away with the verification system that’s been in place since 2009. Experts have expressed concern that making the checkmark available to anyone for a fee could lead to impersonations and the spreading misinformation and scams. The gray label, which Musk has floated earlier, is an apparent compromise.

Myanmar tops Asian summit’s agenda as global issues loom

BANGKOK (AP) — Southeast Asian leaders are convening in Cambodia, faced with the challenge of trying to curtail escalating violence in Myanmar while the country’s military-led government shows no signs of complying with the group’s peace plan. U.S. President Joe Biden will attend the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations just as Washington and Beijing are increasingly jockeying for influence in the region. It sets the stage for the Group of 20 meetings in Bali that immediately follow and are expected to include Chinese President Xi Jinping and possibly Russian President Vladimir Putin, then the APEC economic forum in Bangkok. By attending the ASEAN summit in person, Biden will be able to push American interests and demonstrate Washington’s commitment to the region.

Seoul: North Korea fires ballistic missile toward sea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s military says North Korea has fired at least one ballistic missile toward its eastern sea. The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday did not immediately say how far the missile flew. The launch extends a recent barrage in North Korean weapons demonstrations, including dozens of launches last week that the North described as simulated attacks on South Korean and U.S. targets. North Korea has dialed up its weapons demonstrations to a record pace this year as leader Kim Jong Un exploits the distraction created by Russia’s war on Ukraine to accelerate arms development and ramp up pressure on the United States and its regional allies.

Jeff Cook, co-founder of country band Alabama, dies at 73

NEW YORK (AP) — Guitarist Jeff Cook, who co-founded the successful country group Alabama, has died. He was 73. Cook had Parkinson’s disease and disclosed his diagnosis in 2017. A representative for the band says he died Tuesday at his home in Destin, Florida. The Country Music Hall of Fame says that as a guitarist, fiddle player and vocalist, Cook landed eight No. 1 songs on the country charts between spring 1980 and summer 1982 alongside cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry. Cook steered Alabama up the charts with such hits as “Song of the South” and “Dixieland Delight.”

Review: In ‘Wakanda Forever,’ an empire mourns and rebuilds

Made in the wake of tragedy, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” reverberates with the agony of loss, piercing the usually less consequential superhero realm. Like someone going through the stages of grief, Ryan Coogler’s movie is at turns mournful and rootless, full of rage and blessed with clarity, Associated Press Film Writer Jake Coyle writes in his review. In the fantastical Marvel Cinematic Universe where mortality is almost always a plaything, wrestling with the genuine article, in the death of T’Challa star Chadwick Boseman, makes for an unusually uncertain, soul-searching kind of blockbuster-scale entertainment. “Wakanda Forever” opens in theaters Thursday.

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