AP News Summary at 7:17 am EST

GOP wins slim house majority, complicating ambitious agenda

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans have won control of the US House, returning the party to power in Washington and giving conservatives leverage to blunt President Joe Biden’s agenda and spur a flurry of investigations. But a threadbare majority will pose immediate challenges for GOP leaders and complicate the party’s ability to govern. More than a week after Election Day, Republicans secured the 218th seat needed to flip the House. The full scope of the party’s majority may not be clear for several more days — or weeks — as votes in competitive races are still being counted.

The AP Interview: Pence says voters want new leadership

NEW YORK (AP) — In an Associated Press interview, former Vice President Mike Pence declines to say whether he believes Donald Trump is fit to be president again. But he also says the American people are “looking for new leadership” — as he positions himself as a potential alternative. Pence sat down for his AP interview on Wednesday, just hours after Trump announced another White House run. Will Pence himself run? He said that he and his family will give that “prayerful consideration.” Whatever his final answer, he said, “I think we will have better choices in 2024.” Pence’s comments came the day after the release of his new memoir, “So Help Me God,” as he appears increasingly likely to launch his campaign.

Russia launches new Ukraine barrage as grain deal extended

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian airstrikes have targeted Ukraine’s energy facilities again, as the first snow of the season fell in Kyiv. The chilly weather Thursday is a harbinger of the hardship to come if Moscow’s missiles continue to take out power and gas plants as winter descends. Separately, the United Nations announced the extension of a deal to ensure exports of grain and fertilizers from Ukraine that were disrupted by the war. The deal was set to expire soon, renewed fears of a global food crisis. Even as all sides agreed to extend the deal, air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine. Authorities said at least four people were killed in drone and missile strikes.

Analysis: Have China and India shifted stance on Russia war?

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — China and India, after months of refusing to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, did not stand in the way of the release of a statement by the world’s leading economies that harshly criticized Moscow. The nations, which have significant trade ties with Moscow and have stopped so far short of outright criticism of the war, could be shifting their policy on a conflict that cast its shadow over Group of 20 summit this week in Bali, Indonesia. But there’s enough subtlety, not to mention vagueness, in both the official statement and comments from China and India themselves, to raise questions about whether a real diplomatic and political shift is underway.

Culture clash? Conservative Qatar preps for World Cup party

A recent outpouring of local anger to scenes of foreign artists and models reveling in Qatar underscored the tearing tensions at the conservative Muslim emirate. The hereditary sheikhdom restricts alcohol, bans drugs and suppresses free speech but is nonetheless preparing to welcome some of the world’s rowdiest crowds for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Human rights groups have raised concerns about how Qatari police will handle foreign fans’ violations of the country’s Islamic legal system that criminalizes public drunkenness, sex outside of marriage and homosexuality. Meanwhile, Qatar faces pressure from within to stay true to its Islamic heritage and Bedouin roots.

MH17 judgment day: Verdicts due against 4 suspects at trial

SCHIPHOL, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch court is passing judgment on three Russians and a Ukrainian charged in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine and the deaths of all 298 passengers and crew on board. The verdict Thursday comes more than eight years after the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky in July 2014. The tragedy came amid a conflict between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces. Wreckage and bodies were scattered over agricultural land and fields of sunflowers. None of the suspects appeared for the trial that began in March 2020 and if they are convicted it is unlikely they will serve any sentence anytime soon. Prosecutors have sought life sentences for all four.

UK increases windfall tax on profits of oil, gas companies

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Treasury chief says he’s increasing the windfall tax on the profits of oil and natural gas companies as he announced an emergency budget aimed at restoring the nation’s economic credibility and patching up its battered finances. Jeremy Hunt said Thursday that the windfall tax will rise from 25% to 35% from January 2024 to March 2028 and that electricity generators will have to pay a new temporary levy of 45%. He says the taxes combined would raise 14 billion pounds next year. Britain’s government has faced pressure to increase taxes on oil and gas companies to help fund support for millions of Britons struggling to cope with soaring energy prices.

Universities focus on athletes’ mental health after crises

There is no playbook to instruct how athletic departments are to respond to the tragic death of one of their athletes. But those who have experienced the trauma say the increased emphasis on mental health care in athletic departments and universities at-large — spurred in part by the pandemic — help when a crisis strikes. Tragedy struck the University of Virginia earlier this week. Three members of the football team were shot and killed while on a bus returning to the Charlottesville campus from a field trip to Washington.

Scientists try to bolster Great Barrier Reef in warmer world

KONOMIE ISLAND, Australia (AP) — Below the turquoise waters off the coast of Australia is one of the world’s natural wonders, an underwater rainbow jungle teeming with life that scientists say is showing some of the clearest signs yet of climate change. The Great Barrier Reef, battered but not broken by climate change impacts, is inspiring hope and worry alike as researchers race to understand how it can survive a warming world. Authorities are trying to buy the reef time by combining ancient knowledge with new technology. They are studying coral reproduction in hopes to accelerate regrowth and adapt it to handle hotter and rougher seas.

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