Trump urged to delay 2024 launch after GOP's uneven election
WASHINGTON (AP) — It was supposed to be a red wave that former President Donald Trump could triumphantly ride to the Republican nomination as he prepares to launch another White House run.
Instead, Tuesday night’s disappointing results for the GOP are raising new questions about Trump's appeal and the future of a party that has fully embraced him, seemingly at its peril, while at the same time giving new momentum to his most potent potential rival.
Indeed, some allies were calling on Trump to delay his planned announcement next week, saying the party's full focus needs to be on Georgia, where Trump-backed football great Herschel Walker's effort to unseat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is headed to a runoff that could determine control of the Senate once again.
“I’ll be advising him that he move his announcement until after the Georgia runoff,” said former Trump adviser Jason Miller, who spent the night with the former president at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. “Georgia needs to be the focus of every Republican in the country right now," he said.
Trump sought to use the midterms as an opportunity to prove his enduring political influence after losing the White House in 2020. He endorsed more than 330 candidates in races up and down the ballot, often elevating inexperienced and deeply flawed candidates. He reveled in their primary victories. But many of their positions, including echoing Trump's lies about a stolen 2020 election and embracing hardline views on abortion, were out of step with the political mainstream.
GOP nudges closer to House win; Senate could hinge on runoff
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans inched closer to a narrow House majority Wednesday, while control of the Senate hinged on a few tight races in a midterm election that defied expectations of sweeping conservative victories driven by frustration over inflation and President Joe Biden’s leadership.
Either party could secure a Senate majority with wins in both Nevada and Arizona — where the races were too early to call. But there was a strong possibility that, for the second time in two years, the Senate majority could come down to a runoff in Georgia next month, with Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker failing to earn enough votes to win outright.
In the House, Republicans on Wednesday night were within a dozen seats of the 218 needed to take control, while Democrats kept seats in districts from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Kansas and many West Coast contests were still too early to call. In a particularly symbolic victory for the GOP, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, the House Democratic campaign chief, lost his bid for a sixth term.
Control of Congress will decide how the next two years of Biden's term play out, and whether he is able to achieve more of his agenda or will see it blocked by a new GOP majority. Republicans are likely to launch a spate of investigations into Biden, his family and his administration if they take power, while a GOP takeover of the Senate would hobble the president’s ability to appoint judges.
“Regardless of what the final tally of these elections show, and there's still some counting going on, I'm prepared to work with my Republican colleagues," Biden said Wednesday in his first public remarks since the polls closed. “The American people have made clear, I think, that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me as well.”
Democratic edge shrinks in Arizona Senate, governor races
PHOENIX (AP) — Margins between Democrats and Republicans narrowed considerably Wednesday in key Arizona races as election officials chipped away at counting more than half a million mail ballots returned on Election Day and shortly before.
Democrats maintained small but dwindling leads in key races for U.S. Senate, governor and secretary of state, while Republicans were optimistic the late-counted ballots would break heavily in their favor, as they did in 2020.
It could take several days before it's clear who won some of the closer contests.
With Republicans still in the hunt, it remained unclear whether the stronger-than-expected showing for Democrats would extend to Arizona, a longtime Republican stronghold that became a battleground during Donald Trump's presidency.
The GOP nominated a slate of candidates who earned Trump's endorsement after falsely claiming his loss to President Joe Biden was tainted.
100,000 Russian troops killed or injured in Ukraine, US says
WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia's announced retreat from Kherson, a regional capital in southern Ukraine that it seized early in the war, and a potential stalemate in fighting over the winter could provide both countries an opportunity to negotiate peace, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday.
He said as many as 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and “well over" 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in the war, now in its ninth month. “Same thing probably on the Ukrainian side," Milley added.
“There has been a tremendous amount of suffering, human suffering,” he said at The Economic Club of New York.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday he was open to peace talks with Russia to end the war but only on the condition that Russia return all of Ukraine’s occupied lands, provide compensation for war damage and face prosecution for war crimes.
Russia has said it is open to talks, and this week announced it had begun a retreat from Kherson.
Hurricane Nicole forms; Florida awaits rare November storm
MIAMI (AP) — A Florida-bound storm strengthened into Hurricane Nicole on Wednesday evening as it pounded the Bahamas, and U.S. officials ordered evacuations that included former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.
It’s a rare November hurricane for storm-weary Florida, where only two such hurricanes have made landfall since recordkeeping began in 1853 — the 1935 Yankee Hurricane and Hurricane Kate in 1985.
Nicole was expected to reach Florida late Wednesday or early Thursday with a storm surge that could further erode many beaches hit by Hurricane Ian in September before heading into Georgia and the Carolinas later Thursday and Friday. It was expected to dump heavy rain across the region.
Nicole's center was about 75 miles (125 kilometers) east-northeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, late Wednesday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and was moving west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).
The sprawling storm became a hurricane as it slammed into Grand Bahama, having made landfall just hours earlier on Great Abaco island as a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.
Musk seeks to reassure advertisers on Twitter after chaos
Elon Musk sought to reassure big companies that advertise on Twitter on Wednesday that his chaotic takeover of the social media platform won’t harm their brands, acknowledging that some “dumb things” might happen on his way to creating what he says will be a better, safer user experience.
The latest erratic move on the minds of major advertisers — that the company depends on for revenue — was Musk's decision to abolish a new “official” label on high-profile Twitter accounts just hours after introducing it.
Twitter began adding gray labels to prominent accounts Wednesday, including brands like Coca-Cola, Nike and Apple, to indicate that they are authentic. A few hours later, the labels started disappearing.
“Apart from being an aesthetic nightmare when looking at the Twitter feed, it was simply another way of creating a two-class system,” the billionaire Tesla CEO told advertisers in an hour-long conversation broadcast live on Twitter. “It wasn’t addressing the core problem.”
Musk's comments were his most expansive about Twitter's future since he closed a $44 billion deal to buy the company late last month, dismissed its top executives almost immediately and, on Friday, fired roughly half of its workforce. Major brands including General Motors, United Airlines, General Mills and others have temporarily halted buying ads on the platform as they watch whether Musk's plans to loosen its guardrails against hate speech will lead to a rise in online toxicity.
CDC to conduct health study at polluted former Army base
Federal health officials are conducting a new study to determine whether veterans once stationed at a now-shuttered California military base were exposed to dangerously high levels of cancer-causing toxins.
The decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes nine months after an Associated Press investigation found that drinking water at Fort Ord contained toxic chemicals and that hundreds of veterans who lived at the central California coast base in the 1980s and 1990s later developed rare and terminal blood cancers.
In a letter last Friday to Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., the director of the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Patrick Breysse, wrote that “there are sufficient data and scientific reasons for ATSDR to re-evaluate health risks related to historical drinking water exposures at Fort Ord.” Porter had asked for a new study in February, two days after the AP published its story.
The agency did not immediately respond to a request seeking further details about the new study.
Army veteran Julie Akey, who lived at Fort Ord and was diagnosed in 2016 at the age of 46 with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer, said she is “confident that science will prove our high rate of cancers and illnesses are not a coincidence.”
Russia claims pullout from occupied city; Ukraine skeptical
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia's military said Wednesday it will withdraw from the only Ukrainian regional capital it captured, but Kyiv was skeptical and an analyst warned this could be a ruse to lure the country's forces into a deadly trap. A forced pullout from the city of Kherson would mark one of Russia’s worst setbacks in the 8-month-old war.
Ukrainian authorities cautioned against considering the announced plan to retreat from Kherson, a gateway to the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula, and nearby areas as a done deal. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that the Russians were feigning a pullout from Kherson to lure the Ukrainian army into an entrenched battle in the strategic industrial port city.
If confirmed, the withdrawal from Kherson — in a region of the same name that Moscow illegally annexed in September — would pile on another setback to Russia's early failed attempt to capture the capital, Kyiv, and the chaotic and hasty retreat from the administrative region around Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, which itself never fell to the Russians. Russian forces captured Kherson early in the invasion, which began Feb. 24.
Kyiv's forces have zeroed in on the city, whose prewar population was 280,000, and cut off supply lines in recent weeks as part of a larger counteroffensive in eastern and southern Ukraine that has pushed Russian troops out of wide swaths of territory.
Recapturing Kherson could allow Ukraine to win back lost territory in the Zaporizhzhia region and other southern areas, including Crimea, which Russia illegally seized in 2014. A Russian retreat is almost certain to raise domestic pressure on the Kremlin to escalate the conflict.
Facebook parent Meta cuts 11,000 jobs, 13% of workforce
Facebook parent Meta is laying off 11,000 people, about 13% of its workforce, as it contends with faltering revenue and broader tech industry woes, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a letter to employees Wednesday.
The job cuts come just a week after widespread layoffs at Twitter under its new owner, billionaire Elon Musk. There have been numerous job cuts at other tech companies that hired rapidly during the pandemic.
Zuckerberg said that he had made the decision to hire aggressively, anticipating rapid growth even after the pandemic lockdowns ended.
“Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “Not only has online commerce returned to prior trends, but the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected. I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.”
Meta, like other social media companies, enjoyed a financial boost during the pandemic lockdown era because more people stayed home and scrolled on their phones and computers. But as the lockdowns ended and people started going outside again, revenue growth began to falter.
Biden hopes Putin will negotiate WNBA star Griner's release
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin will be more willing to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner now that the U.S. midterm elections are over.
“My hope is that now that the election is over, that Mr. Putin will be able to discuss with us and be willing to talk more seriously about a prisoner exchange,” Biden told reporters at a news conference.
He spoke hours after Griner's lawyers revealed that she had been sent to a penal colony to serve her sentence for drug possession.
U.S. officials have for months tried to negotiate the release of Griner and another American jailed in Russia, Paul Whelan. But there have been no overt signs of progress.
A diplomatic resolution has taken on new urgency after a Russian court rejected an appeal of her nine-year sentence last month. The eight-time all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
The Associated Press