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NEWS BRIEFS – January 1, 2023

Trump rings in 2023 facing headwinds in his White House run

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump began 2022 on a high. But the former president is facing a very different reality one year later as he runs again for the White House. He’s mired in criminal investigations that could end with indictments. He’s been blamed for Republicans’ disappointing performance in the November elections. And the six weeks since his presidential announcement have been marked by self-inflicted crises. Trump hasn’t held a single campaign event and he’s barely left his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. His campaign announcement in November has hardly staved off challengers. In fact, potential 2024 rivals appear ever more emboldened. And now, even former Trump stalwarts are left wondering whether Trump is serious about another campaign.

Dems, GOP have distinct priorities for 2023: AP-NORC poll

WASHINGTON (AP) — A poll finds Republicans and Democrats have sharply distinct views of what’s most important for the government to address amid high inflation. Overall, the economy in general remains a bipartisan issue, mentioned by most in an open-ended question as one of up to five issues for the government to prioritize in 2023, according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll from December. Thirty percent name inflation. That’s roughly twice the percentage as a year ago, though down from the 40% who listed it in June. More Republicans than Democrats name inflation, energy and immigration as top priorities facing the nation. Democrats focus on health care, climate change, poverty, racism, abortion and women’s rights.


Benedict’s 2013 resignation shook a routine Vatican ceremony

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The reporter who was covering a routine ceremony by Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 11, 2013, never expected what unfolded, or that her high school Latin would give her the scoop of a lifetime. Giovanna Chirri of the authoritative ANSA news agency was in a Vatican press room watching the event on closed-circuit TV when Benedict said calmly and in Latin that he would be retiring because he believed he was too old for the job. She recalls that she felt sick and that her leg began shaking violently as she phoned her Vatican sources to check that she had heard Benedict correctly.


While blamed, Benedict fought sex abuse more than past popes

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI rarely got credit for having turned the Vatican around on clergy sexual abuse, but as cardinal and pope, he pushed through revolutionary changes to church law to make it easier to defrock predator priests. He was the first pontiff to meet with abuse survivors. And he reversed his revered predecessor on the most egregious case of the 20th century Catholic Church, finally taking action against a serial abuser who was adored by St. John Paul II’s inner circle. Even so, much more needed to be done by the church hierarchy. In the years after Benedict’s 2013 resignation, the scandal he believed encompassed only a few mostly English-speaking countries had spread to all parts of the globe.

Time zone by time zone, another new year sweeps into view

NEW YORK (AP) — Revelers are celebrating the traditional ball drop in New York City’s Times Square, ushering in 2023 in the largest New Year’s celebration in the United States. Thousands gathered in and around the iconic landmark to ring in the new year as millions more celebrated throughout the globe. The dazzling Saturday night spectacle anchored celebrations across the U.S. and the world. With countdowns and fireworks, people marked an end to a year that brought war in Europe, a new chapter in the British monarchy and global worries over inflation. For many, thoughts focused on possibilities, even elusive ones like world peace. But Russian attacks continued to target Ukrainian power supplies, leaving millions without electricity. There were no big celebrations in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

Lula set for inauguration to preside over polarized Brazil

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil’s President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be sworn in Sunday in the capital, Brasilia, and assume office for the third time. It marks the culmination of a political comeback sure to thrill supporters and enrage opponents in a fiercely polarized nation. But Lula’s presidency is unlikely to be like his previous two mandates, coming after the tightest presidential race in more than three decades in Brazil and resistance to his taking office by some of his opponents. The leftist defeated far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in the Oct. 30 vote by less than 2 percentage points and his loyal supporters have been loath to accept the loss.

Defending champ Georgia vs. Cinderella TCU for CFP title

After the best semifinal day in the nine-year history of the College Football Playoff, the title game will match the defending national champion against the closest thing the sport has had in years to a Cinderella team. It will be No. 1 Georgia, looking for its second straight championship, against upstart and No. 3 TCU on Jan. 9 at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, California. The four-team playoff has been littered with lopsided semifinal games, but these were thrillers. The Bulldogs came from 14 points down to beat No. 4 Ohio State 42-41 in the Peach Bowl. TCU upset No. 2 Michigan 51-45 in the Fiesta Bowl.


NKorea’s Kim orders ‘exponential’ expansion of nuke arsenal

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to “exponentially” increase the production of his country’s nuclear warheads. State media reported Sunday that Kim called for drastically boosting the country’s military power as the U.S. and allies apply more military pressure on North Korea. The official Korean Central News Agency said Kim also ordered the manufacturing of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile with a swift, retaliatory attack capability. He also reportedly said North Korea will launch its first military spy satellite in the near future. Experts say Kim’s push to produce more nuclear and other weapons signals his intention to continue a run of weapons tests and ultimately solidify his future negotiating power and win greater outside concessions.


UN official meets Taliban deputy premier over women NGO ban

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.N. says one of its top officials in Afghanistan has met the Taliban’s deputy prime minister to discuss a ban on women working at nongovernmental groups. The ban, issued just over a week ago, has prompted major aid agencies to suspend operations in Afghanistan, raising fears that millions will be left without food, education, health care and other critical services during the harsh winter. The deputy head of the U.N. Mission in Afghanistan met the Taliban official Sunday because the ban “denies girls and women from education and training, harms millions and prevents the delivery of vital aid to men, women, and children,” the agency said.


‘Atmospheric river’ dumps heavy rain, snow across California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A powerful storm is bringing drenching rain or heavy snowfall to much of California as the state gets ready to usher in a new year. Flooding and rock slides have closed portions of roads in northern California. In the high Sierra Nevada, as much as 2 feet of snow could accumulate into early Sunday. Chains or four-wheel drive are being required for vehicles on many roads through the mountains. The National Weather Service in Sacramento says the atmospheric river storm is pulling in a long and wide plume of moisture from the Pacific Ocean. One ski resort south of Lake Tahoe closed a chair lift because of flooding.


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