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AP News Summary at 7:16 a.m. EST | Nation and World

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Midterms free of feared chaos as voting experts look to 2024

Fears of aggressive poll watchers sowing chaos at polling stations or conservative groups trying to intimidate votes didn’t materialize on Election Day as many election officials and voting rights experts had feared. Voting proceeded smoothly across most of the U.S., with a few exceptions of scattered disruptions. There were no clear indications that new voting laws in some Republican-leaning states disenfranchised voters on a wide scale. Overall, Election Day went better than many expected. But groups focused on threats to American democracy say the biggest challenge is still ahead: the 2024 presidential race.

Europe scrambles to help Ukraine keep the heat and lights on

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — European countries are scrambling to help Ukraine stay warm and keep functioning through the bitter winter months. The countries pledged Friday to send more support that will mitigate the Russian military’s efforts to turn off the heat and lights. Nine months after Russia invaded its neighbor, the Kremlin’s forces have zeroed in on Ukraine’s power grid and other critical civilian infrastructure in a bid to tighten the screw on Kyiv. Officials estimate that around 50 percent of Ukraine’s energy facilities have been damaged in the recent strikes. France’s foreign minister said Friday that her country is sending 100 high-powered generators to Ukraine. She said Russia is “weaponizing” winter and plunging Ukraine’s civilian population into hardship.

Witness: Walmart shooter seemed to target certain people

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — A witness says that the Walmart supervisor who shot and killed six coworkers in Virginia seemed to target people and shot some victims after they were already hit and appeared to be dead. Jessica Wilczewski said workers were gathered in a Walmart break room to begin their overnight shift late Tuesday when team leader Andre Bing entered and began shooting with a handgun. While another witness has described Bing as shooting wildly, Wilczewski said she observed him target certain people. She said he looked at people’s faces and picked out who he was going to shoot.

Inflation hovers over shoppers heading into Black Friday

NEW YORK (AP) — Black Friday marks a return to familiar holiday shopping patterns, but inflation is weighing on consumers. Elevated prices for food, rent, gasoline and other household costs have taken a toll on shoppers. As a result, many are reluctant to spend unless there is a big sale and are being more selective with what they will buy — in many cases, trading down to cheaper stuff and less expensive stores. Shoppers are also dipping more into their savings, turning increasingly to “buy now, pay later” services like Afterpay that allow users to pay for items in installments, as well as running up their credit cards at a time when the Federal Reserve is hiking rates to cool the U.S. economy.

Iran government supporters confront protesters at World Cup

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Iran’s political turmoil is casting a shadow also over Iran’s second match at the World Cup, with pro-government fans harassing anti-government fans outside the stadium in Qatar. Unlike in their first match against England, the Iran players sang along to their national anthem before the match against Wales. Some Iran fans confiscated Persian pre-revolutionary Iranian flags from supporters entering the stadium and shouted insults at those wearing shirts with the slogan of the country’s protest movement, “Woman, Life, Freedom.” Small mobs of men angrily chanted “The Islamic Republic of Iran” at women giving interviews about the protests to foreign media. Many female fans were visibly shaken as Iranian government supporters surrounded them with national flags.

Beijing on edge as city adds new quarantine centers

BEIJING (AP) — Residents of some parts of China’s capital are overwhelming delivery apps as the city government orders faster construction of quarantine centers and field hospitals. Uncertainty and unconfirmed reports of lockdowns in at least some Beijing districts have fueled unusual demand for supplies. Buyers cleared shelves of food items in supermarkets in the northern suburbs, but it wasn’t clear how widespread the phenomena was. Daily cases of COVID-19 are hitting records across the country, with 32,695 reported Friday. Of those, 1,860 were in Beijing, the majority of them asymptomatic. Improvised quarantine centers and field hospitals thrown up in large indoor spaces have become notorious for overcrowding, poor sanitation, scarce food supplies and lights that stay on 24 hours.

EXPLAINER: How could allies help Netanyahu beat charges?

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to return to office, from where he could try to make his yearslong legal troubles disappear through new legislation advanced by his far-right and ultra-Orthodox allies. Critics say such a legal crusade is an assault on Israel’s democracy. Netanyahu is on trial for corruption. He is poised to return to power with a comfortable governing majority that could grant him a lifeline from conviction. Defenders of the justice system say the proposed changes would allow legislators to abuse their authority and disrupt the tenuous balance of powers that keeps them in check. The 73-year-old Netanyahu denies wrongdoing and views the charges as part of a witch hunt against him.

UK voters warm to new leader Sunak, but not to his party

LONDON (AP) — In his first month as Britain’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak has stabilized the economy, reassured allies from Washington to Kyiv and even soothed the European Union after years of sparring between Britain and the bloc. But Sunak’s challenges are just beginning. He is facing a stagnating economy, a cost-of-living crisis and a Conservative Party that is fractious and increasingly unpopular after 12 years in power. Opinion polls suggest the British public quite likes the 42-year-old former investment banker, who has brought a measure of calm after turmoil under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. But voters have less affection for the Conservatives, and the divided party is not giving Sunak much room to maneuver.

China sentences Chinese-Canadian star Kris Wu to 13 years

BEIJING (AP) — A court in Beijing has sentenced Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu to 13 years in prison on charges including rape. The June trial of the former member of the South Korean group EXO was closed to the public to the protect the alleged victims’ privacy. Beijing’s Chaoyang District Court on Friday said Wu was sentenced for a 2020 rape and for the “crime of assembling a crowd to engage in sexual promiscuity” in a 2018 event in which he and others allegedly assaulted two women they had gotten drunk. The court said the three victims in the rape case had also been drunk and were unable to consent.

Singing street marshals are Qatar World Cup’s surprise stars

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The World Cup 2010 in South Africa had Shakira. The 1998 tournament in France had Ricky Martin. The unofficial soundtrack of the World Cup in Qatar is fast becoming the incessant chanting of street marshals, better knows as Last Mile Marshals. Seated all over Doha on high chairs more commonly used by lifeguards at swimming pools, these migrant workers have become a staple of the Middle East’s first World Cup. They point visitors flooding into this Arabian Peninsula nation in the right direction on their search for public transportation. It’s an important crowd control measure as some 1.2 million fans are expected to inundate Qatar, a country home to 3 million people.

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