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The Bible commands Christians to welcome and care for the most vulnerable among us; that includes the immigrant and sojourner. In Hebrews 13, for example, we are called upon to “show hospitality to strangers” as though they were angels. It is with this knowledge, and faith in God’s love, tha…

We regularly encounter stories of Americans struggling to stay financially afloat, buffeted by the day's economic challenges. So many focus on a woman who is identified a quarter of the way in as a "single mother." She's often portrayed as facing the impossible demands of holding a paying jo…

Almost everything in Congress — access to contraception, lowering the cost of insulin, infrastructure — seems to be about politics. One might hope, though, that partisanship could be put aside for something as important as democracy.

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State AP Stories

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A revived Hurricane Ian has pounded coastal South Carolina after causing catastrophic damage in Florida. The storm washed away parts of piers and flooded streets in parts of South Carolina. The U.S. death toll from Hurricane Ian rose to at least 27 as Florida authorities confirmed several drowning deaths and other fatalities. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Friday that the deaths included a 22-year-old woman ejected in an ATV rollover because of a road washout. Many other deaths were drownings, including that of a 68-year-old woman swept into the ocean by a wave. Authorities expect the death toll to rise further.

The GOP is pursuing its latest legal challenge to North Carolina electoral procedures established by the Democrat-led State Board of Elections. Republicans made the move one week before North Carolina election officials begin processing by-mail ballots in the closely watched Southern swing state. The North Carolina Republican Party filed two motions in Wake County Superior Court this week, asking the court to block the board from enforcing its prohibition of county election officials scrutinizing signatures on absentee voting documents. The GOP motions mark Republicans’ latest attempts to mold election laws to their liking in a state that could shift the political balance locally and nationwide.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down a constitutional right to abortion and sending the issue to the states has groups on both sides of the debate focusing more than ever on races this fall for state supreme courts. Whether abortion access is maintained, restricted or eliminated in any state could depend on whether a state's high court has a majority of Democratic or Republican justices. Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio are among the states where the races are drawing heavy interest and spending as the midterm elections approach.

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The U.S. death toll from Hurricane Ian’s passage has risen to four overall after an official said late Thursday that two residents of a hard-hit barrier island on Florida’s western coast were confirmed dead. Dana Souza, city manager of Sanibel, said the deaths were confirmed by fire officials but offered no other specifics.Two other people have also died. A 38-year old man from Lake County died Wednesday in a motor vehicle accident after his vehicle hydroplaned and a 72-year old man in Deltona was confirmed dead on Thursday. Officials with the Volusia sheriff’s office said the man went outside to drain his pool and fell into a canal.

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The head of a national group working to elect women who support abortion rights is backing efforts in North Carolina. EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler spoke at a Raleigh news conference on Tuesday with Gov. Roy Cooper and state legislative candidates. She also planned to visit college campuses with Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley. An arm of EMILY's List already spent $2.7 million on pro-Beasley ads. Butler says General Assembly races will determine whether abortion restrictions that Republicans are likely to seek can be vetoed by Cooper. Republicans could earn veto-proof majorities if they win two more Senate seats and three more House seats.

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Leaders of College Park Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, thought it was odd when the Southern Baptist Convention recently sent queries about the congregation's LGBTQ-affirming ministry. The church itself had voted to leave the conservative denomination 23 years ago. But it was still on the SBC rolls until last week. That's when the convention's Executive Committee voted to cut ties because of the congregation's “affirmation ... of homosexual behavior.” The Rev. Michael Usey of College Park said the congregation was ousted for the right reason. Said Usey, “It’s good when people reject you because they understand clearly who you are."

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Experts say the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling overturning Roe v. Wade appears to be sending more teens to their doctors in search of birth control, including long-acting reversible forms like intrauterine devices and implants. Waits for appointments are growing in some areas, Planned Parenthood is getting a flood of questions and doctors report demand even among teens who aren’t sexually active. Some patients are especially fearful because some of the new abortion laws don’t include exceptions for sexual assault. Dr. Peggy Stager said dedicated spots for insertion of the Nexplanon implant are consistently filled at her Ohio practice and requests for contraceptive refills have increased 30% to 40% since the Court's June ruling.

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Four people have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for their roles in absentee ballot fraud in rural North Carolina during the 2016 and 2018 elections. These convictions Monday stemmed from an investigation that in part resulted in a do-over congressional election. The defendants were associated with Leslie McCrae Dowless, a political operative in Bladen County whom authorities called the ringleader of the ballot scheme. Dowless died this year before his case went to trial. The State Board of Elections has ordered a new election for the 2018 9th Congressional District because of all the fraud allegations. Cases against six other defendants are pending.

National & World AP Stories

Ukraine’s nuclear power provider has accused Russia of “kidnapping” the head of a nuclear power plant occupied by Russian troops. Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom said Russian forces seized the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ihor Murashov, around 4 p.m. on Friday. Energoatom says Russian troops stopped Murashov’s car, blindfolded him and then took him to an undisclosed location. The company's president said Saturday that Murashov's detention “jeopardizes the safety of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.” Russia did not immediately acknowledge seizing the plant director. The Zaporizhzhia plant repeatedly has been caught in the crossfire of the war in Ukraine.

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North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles Saturday, prompting quick, strong condemnation from its rivals. It's the North's fourth round of weapons launches this week and seen as a response to nearby military drills by the U.S. and its allies. Japan, South Korea and the United States each said they detected the two North Korean missile launches. The weapons’ reported low and “irregular” trajectory suggests they were likely nuclear-capable, highly maneuverable missiles. Observers say the missiles are being developed to defeat missile defenses and strike key targets in South Korea, including U.S. military bases there. North Korea has carried out a record number of missile tests this year.

Hurricane Ian ravaged coastal towns in southwest Florida. But the impact has not been confined to the beaches and tourist towns. The rains from the storm's deluge are flowing into inland towns not usually part of the hurricane warnings. In the Sarasota suburb of North Port, water levels have gone up significantly, turning roads into canals, reaching mailboxes, flooding SUVs and trucks, blocking the main access to the interstate and leaving families trapped. Now, as days go by, they are starting to run out of food and water. It’s the rising rivers that cause the flooding, and authorities say that flooding now poses a danger to those nearby.

An early prototype of Tesla Inc.’s proposed Optimus humanoid robot slowly and awkwardly walked onto a stage, turned, and waved to a cheering crowd at the company’s artificial intelligence event Friday. But the basic tasks by the robot with exposed wires and electronics were far from CEO Elon Musk’s vision of a human-like robot that can change the world. Musk told the crowd that the robot can do much more than the audience saw Friday. But he said it's also delicate and they didn't want it to fall. The demonstration didn't impress several robotics experts, one of which called it a scam. Musk said Tesla's goal is to make millions of robots at a cost that could be less than $20,000.

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Rescuers continue to search for survivors in flooded homes in Florida after Hurricane Ian's passage earlier this week. Meanwhile, authorities in South Carolina are awaiting daylight Saturday to assess the damage from the storm’s second strike. Ian made a second landfall Friday on South Carolina's coast and it is now a post-tropical cyclone driving heavy rains across parts of North Carolina and Virginia and toward the Northeast. The powerful storm terrorized millions of people for most of the week and officials say it's blamed for at least 27 deaths in Florida and three deaths in Cuba previously. But authorities say they expect the death toll to rise further.

Groups of Cubans have protested in the streets of Havana for a second night, decrying delays in fully restoring electricity three days after Hurricane Ian knocked out power across the island. A foreign monitoring group said Cuba’s internet service shut down Friday for the second time in two days, saying it appeared to be unrelated to problems from the storm but rather an attempt to keep information on the protests from spreading. People demonstrated in at least five spots in the city or on its outskirts, including the Barreras and La Gallega districts where residents blocked streets with burning tires and garbage. Power was back on in some parts of Havana that were dark Thursday, but officials gave no information on how much of the city lacked electricity.