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AP News in Brief at 6:04 p.m. EDT

Confident GOP unifies behind candidates once seen as risky ATKINSON, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s Republican governor described Don Bolduc as a “conspiracy theory extremist” just two months ago. But now, a week before Election Day, Gov.

Confident GOP unifies behind candidates once seen as risky

ATKINSON, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s Republican governor described Don Bolduc as a “conspiracy theory extremist” just two months ago. But now, a week before Election Day, Gov. Chris Sununu is vowing to support him. And the leader of the GOP's campaign to retake the U.S. Senate stood at Bolduc's side over the weekend and called him “a true patriot.”

“I’m here for one reason, and that’s to make sure Don Bolduc is the next U.S. senator," Rick Scott, a Florida senator and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told dozens of voters on Sunday gathered inside an Atkinson, New Hampshire, community center.

“Here's a guy who’s a true patriot,” Scott said as he introduced Bolduc, a retired Army general. "He served his country. He believes. He cares.”

The New Hampshire dynamic reflects the emboldened GOP’s increasing confidence in candidates who party leaders believed were essentially unelectable — or at least seriously flawed — just weeks or months ago. But heading into the final full week of the 2022 midterms, Republican leaders are betting that anti-Democratic political headwinds will supersede what Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell himself called “candidate quality” issues in his own party.

Republican Senate contenders from Arizona to Georgia and North Carolina to New Hampshire are grappling with revelations about their personal lives, extreme positions and weak fundraising. Yet they may be in position to win on Nov. 8. Leaders in both parties believe Republicans are poised to take the House majority, with control of the Senate in sight as well.


Police: Pelosi suspect wanted to break speaker's knees

WASHINGTON (AP) — The man accused of attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer told police he wanted to hold the Democratic leader hostage and “break her kneecaps” to show other members of Congress there were “consequences for their actions,” authorities said Monday.

In a chilling federal complaint, officials say that David DePape, 42, carrying zip ties and tape in a backpack, broke into the couple’s San Francisco home early Friday morning, went upstairs where 82-year-old Paul Pelosi was sleeping, and demanded to talk to “Nancy.”

When a surprised Paul Pelosi told the intruder she was not there, DePape said he would wait — even after being told she would not be home for some days. The assailant then started taking out twist ties, to tie him up, the complaint says.

The federal filing stands in contrast to the mocking jokes and conspiracy theories about the Pelosi attack circulating by far-right figures and even some leading Republicans just a week before the hard-fought midterm elections. The San Francisco district attorney and police chief both said the attack was intentional.

“By breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other members of Congress there were consequences to actions,” the complaint said.


Russia recruiting U.S.-trained Afghan commandos, vets say

Afghan special forces soldiers who fought alongside American troops and then fled to Iran after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal last year are now being recruited by the Russian military to fight in Ukraine, three former Afghan generals told The Associated Press.

They said the Russians want to attract thousands of the former elite Afghan commandos into a “foreign legion” with offers of steady, $1,500-a-month payments and promises of safe havens for themselves and their families so they can avoid deportation home to what many assume would be death at the hands of the Taliban.

“They don’t want to go fight — but they have no choice,” said one of the generals, Abdul Raof Arghandiwal, adding that the dozen or so commandos in Iran with whom he has texted fear deportation most. “They ask me, ‘Give me a solution. What should we do? If we go back to Afghanistan, the Taliban will kill us.’”

Arghandiwal said the recruiting is led by the Russian mercenary force Wagner Group. Another general, Hibatullah Alizai, the last Afghan army chief before the Taliban took over, said the effort is also being helped by a former Afghan special forces commander who lived in Russia and speaks the language.

The Russian recruitment follows months of warnings from U.S. soldiers who fought with Afghan special forces that the Taliban was intent on killing them and that they might join with U.S. enemies to stay alive or out of anger with their former ally.


Affirmative action in jeopardy after justices raise doubts

WASHINGTON (AP) — The survival of affirmative action in higher education appeared to be in serious trouble Monday at a conservative-dominated Supreme Court after hours of debate over vexing questions of race.

The most diverse court in the nation's history — among the nine justices are four women, two Black people and a Latina — is weighing challenges to admissions programs at the University of North Carolina and Harvard that use race among many factors in seeking a diverse student body.

The court's six conservative justices all expressed doubts about the practice, which has been upheld under Supreme Court decisions reaching back to 1978. The court's three liberals defended the programs, which are similar to those used by many other private and public universities.

Getting rid of race-conscious college admissions would have a “destabilizing” effect that would cause the ranks of Black and Latino students to plummet at the nation’s most selective schools, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, representing the Biden administration, said.

Following the overturning of the half-century abortion precedent of Roe v. Wade in June, the cases offer a big new test of whether the court, with its 6-3 conservative edge, will sharply steer the law to the right on another contentious cultural issue that conservatives have had in their sights for years.


'Manmade disaster': Officials criticized over Seoul deaths

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Seoul police assigned 137 officers to manage a crowd of Halloween revelers anticipated to number over 100,000 over the weekend — a decision that has come under intense criticism following the deaths of more than 150 people when the group surged.

By comparison, nearly 7,000 police officers were sent to another part of the South Korean capital on Saturday to monitor dueling protests that drew tens of thousands but still fewer people than flocked to the popular nightlife district of Itaewon the same night. Even the task force created to investigate why the crowd surged, with 475 members, is more three times larger than the detail assigned to crowd control.

As South Korea mourns, officials are facing tough questions about preparations for the celebrations and demands for accountability in the wake of the country’s worst disaster in nearly a decade.

The national government has insisted there was no way to predict the crowd would get out of control.

Experts disagree. Deploying so few police officers, they said, showed officials were poorly prepared despite knowing ahead of time that there would be a huge gathering following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in recent months.


Trump asks justices to keep tax returns from House committee

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is going to the Supreme Court, again, this time to try to stop his tax returns from being handed to a congressional committee.

In an emergency appeal filed Monday, Trump wants the court to order at least a temporary hold on the Treasury Department turning over his returns to the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee.

Trump said the handover could happen as soon as Thursday, without the court's intervention.

Lower courts ruled that the committee has broad authority to obtain tax returns and rejected Trump's claims that it was overstepping.

Trump had most recently sought the justices' intervention in a legal dispute stemming from the search of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in August. The court rejected that appeal.


Brazil’s brash President Bolsonaro mum after election loss

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — In Brazil’s capital on Monday, the silence was deafening.

Nearly a full day after President Jair Bolsonaro lost his bid for reelection, the usually brash right-wing leader had neither conceded defeat nor challenged the results of the country's closest political contest in more than three decades.

Bolsonaro hadn't spoken a word to reporters camped outside the official residence or the supporters who regularly gather nearby. Nor did he post on his otherwise prolific social media platforms. The only sign of protest came from Bolsonaro-supporting truckers who blockaded some roads across the country.

Bolsonaro's rival, former president and left-leaning ex-union leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the runoff Sunday night with 50.9% of the votes, to Bolsonaro’s 49.1%. It was the closest election since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985.

Ricardo Barros, Bolsonaro's whip in the Lower House, told The Associated Press by phone that he was with the president Monday and that Bolsonaro was “still deciding” whether to speak about the election’s results.


Nine arrested after bridge collapses in India, killing 134

MORBI, India (AP) — Police in western India arrested nine people on Monday as they investigated the collapse of a newly repaired 143-year-old suspension bridge in one of the country’s worst accidents in years, officials said. The collapse Sunday evening in Gujarat state plunged hundreds of people into a river, killing at least 134.

As families mourned the dead, attention turned to why the pedestrian bridge, built during British colonialism in the late 1800s and touted by the state's tourism website as an “artistic and technological marvel,” collapsed and who might be responsible. The bridge had reopened just four days earlier.

Inspector-General Ashok Yadav said police have formed a special investigative team, and that those arrested include managers of the bridge's operator, Oreva Group, and its staff.

“We won’t let the guilty get away, we won’t spare anyone,” Yadav said.

Gujarat authorities opened a case against Oreva for suspected culpable homicide, attempted culpable homicide and other violations.


Musk floats paid Twitter verification, fires board

Billionaire Elon Musk is already floating major changes for Twitter — and faces major hurdles as he begins his first week as owner of the social-media platform.

Twitter's new owner fired the company's board of directors and made himself the board's sole member, according to a company filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

He's also testing the waters on asking users to pay for verification. A venture capitalist working with Musk tweeted a poll asking how much users would be willing to pay for the blue check mark that Twitter has historically used to verify higher-profile accounts so other users know it’s really them.

Musk, whose account is verified, replied, “Interesting.”

Critics have derided the mark, often granted to celebrities, politicians, business leaders and journalists, as an elite status symbol.


GOP seizes on voter hesitancy to attack EVs as costly to US

WASHINGTON (AP) — Heading into next week’s midterm elections, many Republican candidates are seeking to capitalize on voters’ concerns about inflation by vilifying a key component of President Joe Biden’s climate agenda: electric vehicles.

On social media, in political ads and at campaign rallies, Republicans say Democrats’ push for battery-powered transportation will leave Americans broke, stranded on the road and even in the dark. Many of the attack lines are not true — the auto industry itself has largely embraced a shift to EVs, for instance, and some Republican lawmakers are quick to cheer the opening of EV battery plants in the U.S. that promise new jobs.

But political analysts say the GOP messaging exploits voter hesitancy on EVs that may have put Democrats on the defensive at a time when Americans are especially feeling a financial pinch. EVs cost $65,000 on average, a fact GOP candidates cite.

More than two-thirds of Americans say they are unlikely to purchase an electric vehicle in the next three years, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Democrats are twice as likely to say they plan to purchase one as Republicans, 37% to 16%, respectively.

“There’s still lots of selling to do before EVs catch on with the American people,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist and longtime staffer to the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. He described early Democratic messaging suggesting that EVs were an immediate solution to rising gasoline prices as a mistake. “That creates an opening for Republicans in this election, which begins and ends with the economy and inflation.”

The Associated Press