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    The Democratic governor of New Mexico is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to assign more FBI agents to the state in response to violent crime. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Wednesday in a statement that she wants to replicate the success of a recent surge in FBI resources and agents in Buffalo, New York. The Sept. 15 letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland describes a recent spate of homicides in Albuquerque and says “additional federal agents are needed to alleviate the current strain on New Mexico’s law enforcement offices.” Lujan Grisham sent a similar request to FBI Director Christopher Wray in June.

      Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are urging the Education Department to strengthen regulations against excluding kids from class because of behaviors related to a disability — a practice known as informal removal. Since the pandemic began, parents of kids with disabilities say the practice is on the rise, denying their kids their legal right to an education. In a report Tuesday, The Associated Press and The Hechinger Report documented the impact of these informal removals on children and families. In interviews with 20 families in 10 states, parents said they were called repeatedly to pick up their children. Some said they left work so frequently they lost their jobs.

        Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is facing criticism from Democrats after a newspaper reported that his political ad-maker recently received a six-figure contract to produce a state tourism video featuring the governor. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Richmond-based Poolhouse made what was ultimately the single, winning bid for the project on the first day solicitations went out and received a $268,600 contract. The video showcases Virginia tourism destinations and includes a welcome and some narration from the governor. State officials defended the project, while Democrats questioned the use of taxpayer dollars. A Youngkin spokesman said the governor was excited to participate in the project.

          Kansas’ Democratic governor is trying to regain control of a debate over education in her tough race for reelection. That race recently featured Republican attacks over transgender athletes and what’s taught in the classrooms instead of her preferred focus on increases in public school spending on her watch. In their final debate, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly sought Wednesday to portray Republican challenger Derek Schmidt as a threat to adequate funding for public schools. Schmidt said he is committed to adequate funding but argued that Kansas should protect parents' rights. A GOP proposal vetoed by Kelly would have made it easier for parents to object to classroom materials or library books.

            Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the final papers to annex four regions of Ukraine while his military struggled to control the new territory. In a defiant move, the Kremlin held the door open for further land grabs in Ukraine. Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “certain territories will be reclaimed" and that Russia would continue “consulting” residents about joining Russia. He did not specify which additional Ukrainian territories Moscow is eyeing. The four annexed regions were added in violation of international laws. Ukrainian law enforcement officials, meanwhile, reported discovering more evidence of torture and killings in areas retaken from Russian forces.

              Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is maintaining his cash lead in Georgia over Republican challenger Herschel Walker. Meanwhile, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sharply accelerated his fundraising over the summer in his race against Democrat Stacey Abrams. Walker says his campaign raised more than $12 million in the third quarter. Warnock reports raising $26.3 million in the same period. Walker says he has about $7 million in cash, while Warnock says he has nearly twice as much. Kemp says he took in $28.7 million from July through September. That's more than the $22.4 million the Republican raised in his entire run against Abrams in 2018. No numbers have yet been reported for Abrams.

                More imperiled Snake River sockeye salmon returned to central Idaho this year than in nearly a decade. But biologists are disappointed few of them came from fish that spawned naturally in the wild. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game said Wednesday that 736 adult sockeye salmon completed the 900-mile trip from the Pacific Ocean to the high-elevation Stanley Basin. But only 46 came from adult fish that spawned naturally in a key lake. The population is bolstered with a complex hatchery program that tracks the genetics of individual fish with the goal of one day getting a naturally reproducing, self-sustaining sockeye salmon population in Idaho.

                A grim Mayor London Breed pledged for the second time in a year a serious crackdown on open air opioid drug sales and rampant public drug use that she says is destroying San Francisco. The Democrat says the police now have partners in a new district attorney and city supervisor that she appointed. District Attorney Brooke Jenkins replaced Chesa Boudin, who was ousted by voters in June. Jenkins has announced policies to prosecute drug dealers and force repeat drug users into treatment. The mayor announced a crackdown in December and was criticized by Boudin and other elected officials who said police enforcement would not solve drug addiction.

                An FBI agent has testified that postings in online chatrooms by members of a paramilitary group connected to a 2020 anti-government plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer included instructions on how to make explosives. Special Agent Henrik Impola told a Jackson County Circuit Court jury Wednesday that screenshots of excerpts from the 1971 counterculture book “The Anarchist Cookbook,” which contains instructions for making bombs and illicit drugs, among other things, were taken from the cellphone of a man who approached authorities with information about the Wolverine Watchmen militia. His testimony came during the first day of the trial of Joe Morrison, Pete Musico and Paul Bellar, group members accused of assisting people who directly plotted to kidnap Whitmer.

                A congressman from Maine says he will file a proposal to withhold federal money from a California aquarium and conservation group that has recommended seafood consumers avoid buying lobster. The move from Democratic Rep. Jared Golden came a week after a spat with Republican former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who called on Golden to return a donation of $667 from the executive director of Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. The aquarium runs Seafood Watch, a conservation group that put lobster from the U.S. and Canada on its “red list” of seafood to avoid last month due to the threat posed to rare whales by entanglement in fishing gear.

                A Democratic congressman who has made his opponent’s questionable record fighting the opioid epidemic a central theme of his campaign for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat has accepted campaign donations over the years from drug distributors blamed for key roles in the crisis. An Associated Press review found U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan received $27,000 in combined contributions from the nation's three largest drug distributors between 2007 and this August. The giving represents a fraction of the $50 million Ryan has raised over his career. It's notable because he's hammered Republican opponent JD Vance over the spotty record of his anti-opioid nonprofit.

                Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is suing Fleet Farm, alleging  the retailer negligently sold firearms to two straw buyers, including one gun that was used in a shootout in a St. Paul bar that left one person dead and 14 bystanders injured. The lawsuit alleges Fleet Farm ignored multiple red flags, including sales of multiple guns in single purchases. It alleges the stores sold the two at least 37 firearms. Fleet Farm counters that it complies with all applicable gun laws and devotes substantial resources to training and compliance. Democrat Ellison faces a stiff re-election challenge from Republican Jim Schultz, who has made violent crime his top issue.

                Ryan Quarles has kept his overall fundraising lead among Kentucky Republicans running for governor in 2023. But the latest campaign-finance reports show Kelly Craft set a blistering pace to overtake the rest of the GOP field in her first weeks in the gubernatorial campaign. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has maintained his fundraising dominance as the campaigns posted third-quarter fundraising numbers. The governor has raised more than $4.5 million since announcing his reelection bid last fall. Republican candidates are competing intensely for campaign cash in the crowded race for the GOP nomination for Kentucky’s marquee political job.

                Russia's state-controlled media has devised a new way to spread its propaganda videos about the invasion of Ukraine. Researchers at the U.S.-based intelligence firm Nisos say in a new report that Russia has disguised its own propaganda videos so they can be posted on platforms such as Twitter without revealing their true origin. The videos falsely claim Ukraine caused civilian deaths attributed to Russian forces or say residents of areas forcibly annexed by Russia welcome their occupiers. The new tactic is Russia's latest attempt to circumvent efforts by European governments and tech companies trying to stop Kremlin propaganda and disinformation about the war.

                Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that Russia is taking ownership of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest. Putin signed a decree Wednesday ordering the creation of a state company to manage the facility and said all workers now need Russian permission to work there. Russian troops have occupied the plant for months. Ukraine condemned the “illegal” Russian takeover attempt and called on the West to impose sanctions on the Russian state nuclear operator, Rosatom, and for all countries to limit civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia. Ukraine’s state nuclear operator, Energoatom, said it considers Putin’s decree “worthless” and “absurd.” It said the plant would continue to be operated by Energoatom as part of the Ukrainian energy system.

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                Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that Russia is taking ownership of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest. Putin signed a decree Wednesday ordering the creation of a state company to manage the facility and said all workers now need Russian permission to work there. Russian troops have occupied the plant for months. Ukraine condemned the “illegal” Russian takeover attempt and called on the West to impose sanctions on the Russian state nuclear operator, Rosatom, and for all countries to limit civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia. Ukraine’s state nuclear operator, Energoatom, said it considers Putin’s decree “worthless” and “absurd.” It said the plant would continue to be operated by Energoatom as part of the Ukrainian energy system.

                Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry officially launched his bid for governor in a highly-anticipated gubernatorial race to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards next year. Landry is a conservative Republican and staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump. He tweeted a video addressing several campaign issues including crime and education. Louisiana is the rare conservative state to have a Democratic governor. Edwards won hard-fought races in 2015 and 2019, but is unable to seek a third consecutive term due to term limits. That means 2023 is a huge opportunity for Republicans to take control of the state, which voted for Trump by wide margins in the past two presidential contests.

                President Joe Biden has hit back at Iran over the government’s brutal crackdown on antigovernment protests and he's signaled that more sanctions may soon be announced. Biden has praised the “brave women of Iran” for stepping up for their basic rights by staging some of the largest and boldest protests against the country’s Islamic leadership in decades. The Biden administration says it will stand by Iran's protesters. But it also faces a tough question as to whether Biden can do so while also trying to salvage the languishing 2015 Iran nuclear deal that would pump billions into Tehran’s treasury.

                Ohio's Republican elections chief says he is responding to Americans’ “crisis of confidence” in the U.S. electoral system by creating a public integrity unit to consolidate his office's investigative work, including rare cases of voter fraud or voter suppression. Secretary of State Frank LaRose says the division announced Wednesday will more efficiently bring together work his office already does, such as voting system certification and investigation of election law violations. Eventually, after the November election, LaRose also wants to incorporate a dedicated team of investigators to focus on any alleged election or voting violations. LaRose says it's another step to boost Ohioans' faith in the election system.

                Paula Overby, a third-party candidate in Minnesota’s hotly contested 2nd Congressional District, has died. Her son, Tyler Overby, says the 68-year-old died Wednesday of complications from heart valve trouble after being hospitalized for two weeks. Overby was a candidate for Legal Marijuana Now. The mostly suburban seat is held by Democratic Rep. Angie Craig, who faces a stiff challenge from Republican Tyler Kistner. The Secretary of State's office says the ballots will remain as printed, and the congressional election will proceed as scheduled in the district. Early voters who want to change their returned ballots can contact their local election office.

                The leader of Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region and the federal government have been invited to peace talks in South Africa this weekend as part of a pan-African effort to end one of the world’s most overlooked wars. That's according to a letter seen by The Associated Press. This would be the highest-level effort yet to end the two-year war that has killed thousands of people from conflict and starvation. Ethiopia’s national security adviser says the government has accepted the invitation. The Tigray leader says he is ready to send their negotiating team but has questions.

                Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has announced an expansion of a National Park Service historical site dedicated to the massacre by U.S. troops of more than 200 Native Americans in what is now southeastern Colorado. Haaland, the first Native American to lead a U.S. Cabinet agency, made the announcement during a solemn ceremony at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site about 170 miles southeast of Denver. The move marked the latest step taken by Haaland to bring action to issues important to Native Americans in her role as Interior Secretary. The site is where U.S. Cavalry ambushed hundreds of Native Americans in 1864. More than 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho died. Congress condemned the unprovoked attack.

                A North Carolina appeals court has determined that a lawsuit filed by University of North Carolina students seeking reimbursement of student fees they paid before in-person fall 2020 classes were canceled due to COVID-19 can continue.  A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals decided on Tuesday that a trial judge correctly refused to dismiss litigation by two students against the UNC Board of Governors. The plaintiffs were students at UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University when in-person classes were moved online. They allege a breach of contract occurred when they paid fees for services and benefits that didn't occur. The lawsuit seeks similar repayments for other students.

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