AP Trending SummaryBrief at 8:03 p.m. EST

Mega Millions hits $565M but prize isn’t even in the top 10

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Someone could win more than half a billion dollars in the Mega Millions lottery Tuesday, but that jackpot wouldn’t even rank in the top 10 as the prizes have grown bigger in recent years. The current $565 million Mega Millions jackpot has been building since Oct. 14, but it pales in comparison to the record $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot that was won in November. The ten biggest lottery jackpots ever are all bigger than $687 million, with all of those coming since 2016. And the odds of winning Mega Millions remain long at one in 302.6 million. The jackpot would continue to grow if no one wins Tuesday.

Mexico’s president asks residents to reject drug gang gifts

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president is appealing to the country’s citizens not to accept holiday handouts and gifts from drug gangs. His comments came after videos posted online showed garish pickup trucks handing out loads of gifts while bystanders described the drivers as members of the Jalisco drug cartel. Authorities have not confirmed the source of the gifts, but President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed that some drug gangs were looking to resume such giveaways to gain the support of the local population. López Obrador said that local residents in some communities have tried to protect traffickers, stop drug seizures or oppose the installation of National Guard bases intended to fight drug trafficking.

Japan to require COVID-19 tests for all visitors from China

TOKYO (AP) — Japan will require COVID-19 tests for all visitors from China as a temporary emergency measure against the surging infections there after Beijing largely abandoned its “zero-COVID” policy. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Tuesday that those who test positive will be quarantined for seven days at designated facilities and their samples will be used for genome analysis. Infections are expected to rise as Japan heads into New Year’s holidays marked by parties and travel, when infections are expected to rise. Last week India also mandated tests for travelers from China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand, while ordering quarantine for those with symptoms or testing positive. India has also begun randomly testing 2% of international passengers arriving at aiports.

Feds: Vanishing right whale must remain on endangered list

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Federal officials say the fading North Atlantic right whale will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act and requires a series of protective steps to stave off extinction. The whales number only about 340 and they have declined in population in recent years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a review of the whale’s status on Tuesday that said the whale is continuing to decline and has not met many of the recovery criteria outlined in its recovery plan. Protection of the whale is a source of dispute between conservationists and commercial fishermen because one of the top threats to the animals is entanglement in fishing gear.

Staff gives South Dakota governor flamethrower for Christmas

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem got a hot Christmas gift from her staff — literally. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports Noem’s staff gave her a Pulsefire LRT flamethrower with an engraved plate of the state motto “Under God, the people rule.” A video posted to Twitter on Sunday shows Noem decked out in camouflage torching a pile of cardboard boxes on a snowy farm. According to Tennessee-based ammunitions company MidSouth Shooters, a Pulsefire LRT costs about $650. Noem spokesperson Ian Fury says no tax dollars were used to buy the flamethrower.

A cue for success? Zimbabwe’s pool players are betting on it

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Once a minority sport played mostly in Zimbabwe’s wealthier neighborhoods, pool has increased in popularity over the years, first as a pastime and now as a survival mode for many in a country where employment is hard to come by. Pool tables have been springing up in bars and homes over recent years across the country as the game’s popularity increases. Pool has become an income earner for players and gamblers who bet on games. Others warn that betting is a dangerous habit that can have disastrous impacts on families. But with Zimbabwe’s economic outlook so dire, many people are desperately scrambling to make money through a cue stick.

Wisconsin waitress gets $1,000 tip from Christmas customer

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin waitress got a $1,000 tip from Christmas morning customer. The Wisconsin State Journal reports 29-year-old Callie Blue was waiting tables at Gus’s Diner in Sun Prairie at 6 a.m. Sunday. She started chatting with one of the few customers in the restaurant at that hour. He left her a $1,000 tip. The customer was Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County. He told the newspaper he was looking for people in need as part of the club’s Pay It Forward campaign.

South Korea lifts ban on imported sex dolls

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has formally lifted a ban on the import of full-body sex dolls, ending years of debate over how much the government can interfere in private life. Although there are no laws or regulations banning the import of sex dolls, hundreds and perhaps thousands have been seized by the customs, which cited a clause in the law that bans the import of goods that “harm the country’s beautiful traditions and public moral.” Importers complained and took their case to courts, which ordered customs to release the dolls. They said they are used in people’s private spaces and don’t undermine human dignity. On Monday, the Korea Customs Service said it began enforcing a revised guideline for import of life-size adult sex dolls.

China’s COVID-19 surge raises odds of new coronavirus mutant

Could the COVID-19 surge in China unleash a new coronavirus mutant on the world? Scientists don’t know but worry that might happen. It could be similar to omicron variants circulating there now. It could be a combination of strains. Or something entirely different, they say. Every new infection offers a chance for the coronavirus to mutate, and the virus is spreading rapidly in China. The country of 1.4 billion largely abandoned its zero COVID policy. Domestic vaccines have proven less effective against serious infection than Western-made messenger RNA versions. There’s fertile ground for the virus to change.

Prosecutors: Paris shooting suspect wanted to kill migrants

PARIS (AP) — The man suspected of fatally shooting three Kurds in Paris told investigators that he wanted to kill migrants or foreigners and then himself. Prosecutors say he killed three and wounded three others, and then was disarmed and subdued by one of the injured victims. The 69-year-old suspect was detained at the scene of Friday’s shooting and transferred Saturday to psychiatric care. His name has not been released. He faces potential charges of murder and attempted murder with a racist motive. He told investigators that he developed a pathological hatred toward migrants and foreigners after being targeted by a burglary in 2016. The killing rocked the Kurdish community in France.

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