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    AP Top News at 9:31 p.m. EST

    January 2, 2023 GMT

    Trump rings in 2023 facing headwinds in his White House run

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump began 2022 on a high. Primary candidates were flocking to Florida to court the former president for a coveted endorsement. His rallies were drawing thousands. A bevy of investigations remained largely under the radar. One year later, Trump is facing a very different reality. He is mired in criminal investigations that could end with indictments. He has been blamed for Republicans’ disappointing performance in the November elections. And while he is now a declared presidential candidate, the six weeks since he announced have been marked by self-inflicted crises. Trump has not held a single campaign event and he barely leaves the confines of his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

    Benedict death paves way for protocols to guide future popes

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — There was no tolling of the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica, no solemn announcement by a Vatican monsignor to the faithful in the square. A fisherman’s ring did not get smashed and the diplomatic corps were not mobilized to send official delegations to Rome. The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed in an entirely un-papal-like manner Saturday, with a two-sentence announcement from the Vatican press office, making clear once and for all that Benedict stopped being pope a decade ago. The rituals of his passing were less like the ones of a pontiff, monarch or Vicar of Christ on Earth and more akin to those of a retired bishop, even if he will be buried in the red vestments of a pope.


    Benedict’s 2013 resignation shook a routine Vatican ceremony

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Veteran reporter Giovanna Chirri was starting to doze off in the Vatican press room on a slow holiday when all of a sudden the Latin she learned in high school made her perk up — and gave her the scoop of a lifetime. It was Feb. 11, 2013, and Chirri was watching closed-circuit television coverage of Pope Benedict XVI presiding over a pro-forma meeting of cardinals to set dates for three upcoming canonizations. But at the end of the ceremony, rather than stand up and leave the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Benedict remained seated, took out a single sheet of paper and began to read.


    Santos should consider resigning, veteran GOP lawmaker says

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Even as the House GOP leadership keeps silent, a veteran Republican lawmaker said Sunday that George Santos should consider resigning after the congressman-elect from New York admitted to lying about his heritage, education and professional career. Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, a former House Ways and Means chairman who has served in Congress for 25 years, told “Fox News Sunday” that Santos would have “to take some huge steps” to regain trust and respect in his district. Santos is set to be sworn in Tuesday when the new Congress begins. “This is troubling in so many ways. Certainly, he’s lied repeatedly,” said Brady, who is retiring from the House.

    Biden’s new year pitch focuses on benefits of bipartisanship


    CHRISTIANSTED, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) — President Joe Biden and top administration officials will open a new year of divided government by fanning out across the country to talk about how the economy is benefiting from his work with Democrats and Republicans. As part of the pitch, Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell will make a rare joint appearance in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky on Wednesday to highlight nearly $1 trillion in infrastructure spending that lawmakers approved on a bipartisan basis in 2021. The Democratic president will also be joined by a bipartisan group of elected officials when he visits the Kentucky side of the Cincinnati area, including Sen.

    Brazil’s Lula sworn in, vows accountability and rebuilding

    BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in as president on Sunday, and in his first address expressed optimism about plans to rebuild while pledging that members of outgoing Jair Bolsonaro’s administration will be held to account. Lula is assuming office for the third time after thwarting far-right incumbent Bolsonaro’s reelection bid. His return to power marks the culmination of a political comeback that is thrilling supporters and enraging opponents in a fiercely polarized nation. “Our message to Brazil is one of hope and reconstruction,” Lula said in a speech in Congress’ Lower House after signing the document that formally instates him as president.


    Macao eases COVID rules, but tourism, casinos yet to rebound

    MACAO (AP) — Only a few tourists crisscrossed the wavy black and white paving of Macao’s historic Senado Square on a recent weekday and many of the shops were shuttered. The gaming hub on China’s south coast near Hong Kong has endured some of the world’s strictest anti-virus controls for nearly three years, and a loosening of border restrictions after China rolled back its “zero-COVID” strategy in early December is widely expected to boost its tourism-driven economy. But for now, China’s worst wave of infections so far is keeping away the hoards of high rollers who usually fill its casinos. From Dec.


    Evacuation warnings amid flooding after California storm

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Residents of a Northern California community were ordered to evacuate ahead of imminent flooding, and evacuation warnings were in place elsewhere in rural parts of the region on New Year’s Day after a powerful storm brought drenching rain or heavy snowfall to much of the state, breaching levees, snarling traffic and closing major highways. Even after the storm moved through, major flooding occurred in agricultural areas about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Sacramento, where rivers swelled beyond their banks and inundated dozens of cars along State Route 99. Emergency crews rescued motorists on New Year’s Eve into Sunday morning and the highway remained closed.

    NY lawmakers get pay raise making them nation’s best-paid

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Just in time for the New Year, New York lawmakers have become the highest paid state legislators in the nation under a bill signed Saturday. Members of both houses are getting a pay raise of $32,000, for a base salary of $142,000, under a bill Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a day before her inauguration Sunday. That’s a 29% raise over their previous salary of $110,000. The law went into effect Sunday. Before the pay boost, state lawmakers in California were the highest paid with a yearly base salary of $119,000, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    Rodgers, Packers rout Vikings 41-17, control playoff fate

    GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers and the Packers suddenly are just a win away from an improbable playoff berth. He has his defense to thank for continuing Green Bay’s reversal of fortune. Rodgers threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score, and the Packers shut down Kirk Cousins and star receiver Justin Jefferson in a 41-17 blowout of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Keisean Nixon scored on a 105-yard kickoff return and Darnell Savage had a 75-yard pick-6 of Cousins — one of four turnovers by the Minnesota QB. The Packers (8-8) will reach the playoffs if they beat the Detroit Lions at home in their regular-season finale.