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Latvia has held general election that has been influenced by neighboring Russia’s attack on Ukraine. An exit poll shows the center-right New Unity party of Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins emerging as the top vote-getter, capturing 22.5% support. Karins currently leads a four-party minority coalition. The poll also predicted that a new centrist party that favors green development — United List — would be second with 11.5% and the opposition Greens and Farmers Union would come in third with 10.9%. Support for parties catering to the country's ethnic-Russian minority, who make up over 25% of Latvia’s 1.9 million people, is expected to be mixed. One Moscow-friendly party saw its popularity plummet after it opposed Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    Hundreds of hot air balloons lifted off Saturday, marking the start of an annual fiesta that has drawn pilots and spectators from across the globe to New Mexico's high desert for 50 years now. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is one of the most photographed events in the world. It has become an economic driver for the state's largest city and a rare — and colorful — opportunity for enthusiasts to gather. Three of the original pilots who participated in the first fiesta in 1972 are among this year's attendees.

    After being encircled by Ukrainian forces, Russia has pulled troops out from an eastern Ukrainian city that it had been using as a front-line hub. It was the latest victory for the Ukrainian counteroffensive that has humiliated and angered the Kremlin. The city of Lyman was a key transportation hub for the Russian front line. A day earlier Moscow had annexed as part of Russia. Kyiv has retaken vast swaths of territory beginning in September. With Lyman recaptured, Ukraine can now push further into the occupied Luhansk region, one of the four regions that Russia annexed Friday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his military have vowed to keep fighting to liberate all regions from Russian control.

    Rescuers continue to search for survivors in flooded homes in Florida after Hurricane Ian's passage earlier this week. Meanwhile, authorities in South Carolina began the long process of assessing damage Saturday. The powerful storm terrorized millions of people for most of the week and officials say it's blamed for at least 34 deaths overall, 27 of them in Florida, four in North Carolina and three in Cuba. But authorities say they expect the death toll to rise further. As of Saturday, more than 1,000 people had been rescued from flooded homes near Florida's southwestern coast alone.

      A Riverside city council member says the county sheriff libeled her when he said on social media that she had supported defacing the historic courthouse during a July abortion rights protest. The Press-Enterprise reported Friday that City Council Member Clarissa Cervantes sued Sheriff Chad Bianco for posting false comments that have immensely harmed her reputation. Bianco has refused demands to apologize and says the lawsuit is probably as fictional as most of her social media posts after protesters left green handprints on the historic Riverside courthouse. Cervantes has condemned the vandalism and says she didn't participate in the protest.

        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.

        Republicans are using the defeat of a voting suit brought by a group founded by Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams to attack her legitimacy as a voting rights advocate. They say a judge's rejection on Friday of the last remaining claims in a suit brought by Fair Fight Action shows that Abrams was wrong all along to claim that she lost the 2018 Georgia governor's race to Republican Brian Kemp because of voter suppression by Kemp. But Abrams is far from backing down from her position, and says she won a number of victories that made elections fairer. Her advocacy has also helped make voting rights a defining issue for Black voters in Georgia.

        The leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told members of the faith on Saturday that abuse was “a grievous sin” that shouldn’t be tolerated. His remarks were the first from a senior church leader on abuse since The Associated Press published an investigation into how the church handles reports of sexual abuse. Russell Nelson's remarks echoed previous church statements that say the investigation mischaracterizes its policies, while underlining how its teachings condemn abuse in the strongest terms. His remarks were made at the church's twice-yearly conference that leaders use to reflect on current events and announce changes in doctrine.

        Bulgaria has opened a natural gas link with Greece at a ceremony attended by the leader of the European Union’s executive arm, who emphasized the bloc’s determination to stop relying on Russian energy imports. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, speaking at a ceremony in Sofia, hailed the pipeline as an important contribution to limiting opportunities for Russia to use its gas and oil reserves to blackmail the EU. Von der Leyen told regional leaders "this project means freedom.“ Also on Saturday, gas started flowing from Norway and Denmark to Poland through the new Baltic Pipe.

        The remnants of Hurricane Ian have downed trees and power lines across North Carolina, and at least four fatalities connected to the severe weather have been reported. The Johnston County Sheriff's Office says a woman found her husband dead early Saturday morning after he went to check on a generator running in their garage overnight. Gov. Roy Cooper's office says there were also two storm-related traffic fatalities in Johnston County Friday, and a drowning in Martin County. Damage reports across the state were less severe than in South Carolina and Florida. But over 240,000 people were without power Saturday afternoon.

        Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni is vowing to put Italy's national interests first in tackling soaring energy costs. Meloni on Saturday made her first public appearance since her party won the most votes in Italy's national election last weekend. She addressed farmers at an agricultural fair in Milan sponsored by Italy’s influential Coldiretti farm lobby. Meloni said if her government follows Germany in taking a domestic approach to Europe's energy woes, it's not because she's a populist, but rather “lucid.” Germany has refused to back a European price cap on gas, as Italy and other countries have sought. Her appearance came as Russia’s Gazprom utility informed gas giant ENI that no natural gas would be delivered to Italy on Saturday, further tightening supplies.

        Thousands of Catalans have gathered in Barcelona to commemorate the fifth anniversary of an independence referendum that marked the high point of their movement to break away from the rest of Spain. The 2017 vote was declared unconstitutional by Spain’s top courts and marred by clashes with police. Catalonia’s separatist lawmakers used the referendum vote to justify a unilateral declaration of independence issued on Oct. 27, 2017 that failed to garner any international support. Since the referendum victory the separatist movement has been increasingly fraught with in-fighting. Divisions in the separatist camp were heard on Saturday when some speakers at the rally were booed.

        This week, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Zion, Illinois, opened its doors to the city's first mosque. Members view this as a significant event because of their faith's century-old connection to Zion's founder and faith healer John Alexander Dowie. The evangelist envisioned Zion as a Christian theocracy and made hostile remarks about Muslims. This drew the ire of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The Ahmadis view Zion as the site of a holy miracle where their founder defended Islam and defeated Dowie in a prayer duel that ended with the latter's death in 1907.  They have named the mosque Fath-e-Azeem, which means “a great victory” in Arabic.

        Max Baer, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, has died at age 74 only months before he was set to retire. The court confirmed Saturday that Baer died overnight at his home near Pittsburgh. It didn't give a cause of death but called his “sudden passing" a “tremendous loss for the court and all of Pennsylvania.” The court also said Justice Debra Todd is now the first female chief justice in commonwealth history. Baer was an Allegheny County family court judge and an administrative judge in family court before he was elected to the high court in 2003. He became its chief justice last year. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Baer was set to retire at the end of the year.


        The defense team in the Capitol riot trial of the Oath Keepers leader is relying on an unusual strategy with Donald Trump at the center. Lawyers for Stewart Rhodes are poised to argue that jurors cannot find him guilty of seditious conspiracy because all the actions he took before the riot were in preparation for orders he anticipated from the then-president. But those orders never came. Rhodes and four associates are accused of plotting for weeks to stop the transfer of presidential power, culminating with Oath Keepers in battle gear storming the Capitol alongside hundreds of other Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021. Opening statements in the trial are set to begin Monday.

        The University of Mississippi is paying tribute to James Meredith 60 years after integration. White protesters erupted into violence in 1962 as he became the first Black student to enroll in what was then a bastion of Deep South segregation. A local resident and a French journalist were killed in the violence on the Oxford campus. The 89-year-old Meredith was honored Saturday at an Ole Miss football game. The university is having several other events to mark six decades of integration. Meredith spoke at a celebration Wednesday, saying it was the best day he ever lived. But he also said problems remain and he wants people to abide by the Ten Commandments.

        Fewer Russians have crossed into neighbouring countries in recent days, according to local authorities, despite persisting anxiety over the partial mobilization the Kremlin launched less than two weeks ago to bolster its forces fighting in Ukraine. The mass exodus of Russian men began Sept. 21, shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the partial call-up of reservists. In Russia, the vast majority of men under 65 are registered as reservists, so airline tickets to destinations abroad sold out within hours. Shortly after, long lines of cars formed on roads leading to Russia’s borders. Over 194,000 had entered Kazakhstan, Georgia and Finland by Tuesday. But according to officials from all three countries, the daily influx has decreased by the end of this week.

        A new regulation coming into force in Poland that requires pregnancy information to be uploaded to the national digital system has women's organizations concerned that it will be another way for the conservative government to control women's lives. The Health Ministry regulation takes effect Saturday, with women's groups suggesting that authorities may monitor pregnancies as another means of control in the country with a very strict anti-abortion law. The ministry had denied this, saying the information will help doctors treat patients by providing them with vital information. Abortion is allowed in Poland only if pregnancy threatens the woman's health or results from crime.

        A senior government party in the Czech republic linked to conservative Prime Minister Petr Fiala has won an election for a third of the seats in Parliament’s upper house. The ruling coalition parties have also retained a dominant position in the Senate. With all the votes counted Saturday by the Statistics Office, the Civic Democratic Party won eight of the 27 seats up for grabs in the 81-seat Senate. Overall, the coalition parties won 18 seats. Recent large demonstrations against the Czech government due to its handling of the energy crisis and support for Ukraine didn’t translate into gains for the opposition.

        The Danish Energy Agency says one of two ruptured natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea appears to have stopped leaking natural gas. The agency said Saturday on Twitter it had been informed by the company operating the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that pressure appears to have stabilized in the pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany. It said "this indicates that the leaking of gas in this pipeline has ceased.” The undersea blasts that damaged the Nord Stream I and 2 pipelines this week have led to huge methane leaks. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of sabotaging the Russia-built pipelines, a charge vehemently denied by the United States and its allies.