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In his campaign for a crucial U.S. Senate seat, Democrat John Fetterman takes credit for transforming Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor’s office into a "bully pulpit" to advance progressive causes. Records from his time in office offer a different portrait. They show Fetterman typically kept a light work schedule and was often absent from state business. That's according to an Associated Press review of his daily calendars and attendance records. The review found he had nothing listed on his schedule during nearly one-third of his workdays in the $179,000-a-year job. Fetterman says he's shown he can have an impact "beyond the prescribed power of a given office.”

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The Boston Symphony Orchestra is embarking on a four-city tour of Japan next month, for its first overseas engagements since before the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of cultural events around the world. The orchestra announded Wednesday that it is scheduled to perform at Yokohama’s Minato Mirai Hall on Nov. 9; Kyoto’s Concert Hall on Nov. 10; Osaka’s Festival Hall on Nov. 11; and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall on Nov. 13, 14 and 15. The orchestra’s last overseas tour was an eight-city European trip in September 2018. Tours to Asia scheduled for February 2020 and to Europe scheduled for May 2022 were canceled because of the pandemic.

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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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The OPEC+ alliance of oil-exporting countries has decided to sharply cut production to support sagging oil prices. The move Wednesday could deal the struggling global economy another blow and raise politically sensitive pump prices for U.S. drivers just ahead of key national elections. Energy ministers meeting at the Vienna headquarters of the OPEC oil cartel cut production by 2 million barrels per day at their first face-to-face meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides a token trim in oil production last month, the major cut is an abrupt turnaround from months of restoring deep cuts made during the depths of the pandemic and could help alliance member Russia weather a looming European ban on oil imports.

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Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has called a general election for Tuesday Nov. 1, seven months ahead of the end of her term in office. Frederiksen, who has headed the Social Democratic minority government since June 2019, has seen her popularity dwindle in recent weeks due to her role in a pandemic-era decision to wipe out Denmark’s entire captive mink population. Polls show that the center-left bloc is neck-and-neck with the center-right opposition, which includes parties that want to reduce immigration.

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The World Trade Organization is predicting global trade volumes to grow a lackluster 1% next year as higher energy prices, rising interest rates and uncertainties about Chinese manufacturing output amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic weigh on markets. The Geneva-based trade body said Wednesday that the total amount of goods shipped between countries are expected to rise 3.5% this year, up from the 3% that WTO anticipated in its first forecast for the year in April. Trade volumes are set to grow just 1% next year, down from the 3.4% expected previously.

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A former Tennessee state trooper has gone missing after he was sentenced for a misdemeanor assault conviction on a charge that he pulled the face mask off a protester during the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2020. Columbia Police said Monday that 54-year-old Harvey Briggs was last seen in the city on Oct. 1, the day after receiving a six-month probation sentence, and was driving a black 2015 Ford Fusion. He pleaded no contest in the case on Sept. 15. Police say, Briggs made “several concerning statements” to his family before he left, and that they haven’t heard from him since. Briggs' attorney decline to comment Tuesday.

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An outspoken Christian conservative attorney from Alabama wants a federal appeals court to revive a Louisiana pastor's damage claims against state officials over long-expired COVID-19 restrictions. A federal judge has twice dismissed Tony Spell's lawsuit against Gov. John Bel Edwards and others over enforcement of the ban. Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court justice and Senate candidate, insisted in arguments this week that the state had no authority whatsoever to restrict church gatherings. Appeals court judges appeared skeptical of that claim in arguments this week. But they raised the question of whether Spell's church was unfairly restricted when compared with other public gathering places.

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A retired judge has opened a public inquiry into how Britain handled the coronavirus pandemic. Former Court of Appeal judge Heather Hallett said Tuesday that bereaved families and those who suffered would be at the heart of the proceedings. The inquiry would investigate the U.K.’s preparedness for a pandemic, how the government responded, and whether the “level of loss was inevitable or whether things could have been done better.” Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to hold an inquiry on his government’s handling of the pandemic after pressure from bereaved families. COVID-19 has left more than 204,000 people in Britain dead — one of the worst death tolls in the world. The probe will have the power to question witnesses under oath.

A state board has rejected claims for $1 million payments for 52 prison inmates who were given six times the proper dose of COVID-19 vaccines last year. The three-member State Appeals Board on Monday unanimously denied the claims from inmates who received the extra doses in April 2021. The 52 inmates who each sought a $1 million payment were among 77 prisoners at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison who had been given overdoses of the Pfizer vaccine by prison nursing staff. The mistaken doses occurred after the vaccine was delivered in concentrate form that was supposed to be diluted with saline solution.

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More than 1 million Minnesotans have qualified for bonus checks to frontline workers to recognize their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the payments will be for less than $500. The state will start sending out the payments Wednesday. The Legislature approved $500 million for eligible applicants, and Gov. Tim Walz signed it into law in April. Nearly 1.2 million applications were submitted this summer. The state approved 1,025,655 of them, which means the individual payments will be $487.45 apiece. Officials originally estimated a final pool of 667,000 frontline workers with payments of about $750 apiece, but applications exceeded expectations.

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The Supreme Court began its new term Monday with a new justice on the bench, the public back in the courtroom and a spirited debate in a case that pits environmental protections against property rights. The new member of the court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, wasted no time joining the lively give-and-take, asking questions throughout nearly two hours of arguments in the dispute over the nation’s main anti-water pollution law, the Clean Water Act. Jackson, appointed by President Joe Biden, seemed to be generally aligned with the court’s other two liberal justices in favor of Justice Department arguments to preserve the authority of the federal government to regulate wetlands under the Clean Water Act against a business-backed challenge.

Ringo Starr has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the former Beatle to cancel several scheduled concerts in Canada with his All Starr Band. Five concert dates from Tuesday to Sunday — in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Lethbridge, Alberta; and the British Columbia cities of Abbotsford and Penticton — will be rescheduled. Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band — consisting of Toto’s Steve Lukather, Men at Work’s Colin Hay, Average White Band’s Hamish Stuart and Edgar Winter — were also forced to cancel last weekend shows in Michigan and Minnesota.

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Ringo Starr has cancelled shows in North America after the former Beatles drummer tested positive for COVID-19. The 82-year-old cancelled performances Sunday at the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan, and Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota, citing illness. On Monday a spokesperson confirmed that Starr and his All-Starr band would be cancelling five more shows in Canada after the former Beatle caught the coronavirus. A statement said Starr is “recovering at home.” he five Canadian shows cancelled included Winnipeg, Manitoba; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Lethbridge in Alberta; as well as arenas in Abbotsford and Penticton in British Columbia. The rest of his tour will remain on hold while Starr recovers.

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Doctors have a message for vaccine-weary Americans: Don't skip your flu shot this fall. And for the first time, seniors are urged to get a special extra-strength kind. There's no way to predict how bad this flu season will be. Australia just emerged from a nasty one. In the U.S., annual flu vaccinations are recommended starting with 6-month-olds. Because seniors don't respond as well, the U.S. now recommends they get one of three types made with higher doses or an immune-boosting ingredient. Meanwhile, the companies that make the two most widely used COVID-19 vaccines now are testing flu shots made with the same technology.

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Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will host a forum to highlight how coronavirus pandemic relief dollars have helped support Black- and minority-owned businesses. The Treasury Department says the importance of making sure the community finance system supports minority businesses will be "front and center” at this year's Freedman's Bank Forum next week. About 96% of Black-owned businesses are sole proprietorships and single-employee companies. These small businesses have the hardest time finding funding and are often the first to suffer during economic downturns. The forum will include a panel on new support for community finance institutions, small businesses and low wealth communities.

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Social media users shared a range of false claims this week. Here are the facts: A Ukrainian family was killed in a Russian attack on their building in March, despite denials. A 2021 video shows President Joe Biden urging people in hurricane-prone states to get vaccinated in case they needed to evacuate or stay in a shelter, not to protect against the storm itself. Air traffic analysts say flight cancellations across China last week remained consistent with COVID-19 pandemic trends. A video shows a member of an Italian neo-fascist group tearing down a European Union flag in 2013, not after Monday's election.

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This year’s Nobel Prize season approaches as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shattered decades of almost uninterrupted peace in Europe and raised the risks of a nuclear disaster. The famously secretive Nobel Committee never leaks or hints who will win its prizes for medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, economics or peace. The awards will be announced starting next Monday. But there is no lack of causes deserving the spotlight that comes with winning the world’s most prestigious prize. There are wars in Ukraine and Ethiopia, disruptions to supplies of energy, food and financial stability, the climate crisis, and the ongoing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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China is dismissing complaints from two U.S. lawmakers over the quarantining of American diplomats and their family members under the country's strict COVID-19 regulations. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson says China's epidemic protocols apply to both Chinese and foreigners and are open and transparent. She called the statements by the U.S. lawmakers “really absurd and completely groundless.” Republican Congressmen James Comer and Michael McCaul wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday asking for clarification of the quarantines. The U.S. Embassy had no immediate comment on the letter.

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Far fewer Chinese are expected to be traveling during the upcoming “Golden Week” National Day holiday, amid rigid anti-COVID-19 restrictions and calls from health officials for people to stay put. China’s transport ministry is estimating some 210 million trips will be made by road during the week-long holiday that begins Saturday, down 30% compared to the same time last year. China remains the only major country that has yet to reopen and continues to enforce strict case tracing, quarantines and mask-wearing policies, along with rolling lockdowns affecting millions and health designations preventing people from traveling. On Friday in Beijing, President Xi Jinping led top leaders in placing flower baskets at a memorial to revolutionary martyrs.

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