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A Vermont high school homecoming football game turned into a “drag ball” runway at halftime with a mix of students and faculty members parading in gowns, wigs and makeup, and a big crowd in rainbow colors. As school cheerleaders wrapped up their routine at Burlington High School on Friday night, a total of about 30 students and faculty members dressed as drag queens and kings walked out onto the field. The crowd started to chant, “Drag Ball!” Performers paraded and danced to show support for LGBTQ people. They also lip-synced to singer Todrick Hall’s “Rainbow Reign.”

A Maine law banning obscene license plates goes into effect Monday, but getting the foul language off the roads and highways won't happen overnight. Rule-making is getting underway to ensure the law protects First Amendment rights while getting rid of profane language. Secretary of State Shenna Bellows says the process includes public comment and will likely take two to four months. Requests for so-called vanity license plates that are deemed to be potentially offensive will be on hold in the meantime until the rules are sorted out.

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Al Wolf is used to clearing one or two snakes from under people’s homes. But recently when he was called by a woman who said she had seen rattlesnakes scurry under her Northern California house he was surprised to find more than 90 snakes getting ready to hibernate. Wolf is the director of Sonoma County Reptile Rescue. He says he crawled under the mountainside home in Santa Rosa and found a rattlesnake right away, then another and another. He removed 22 adult rattlesnakes and 59 babies on Oct. 2. He returned another two times since and collected 11 more snakes.

An animal recovery group says a large cat native to Africa that escaped from its suburban Detroit home was captured after spending several hours on the lam. The Detroit News reports that the capture of the caracal was announced late Wednesday when the South Lyon Murphy Lost Animal Recovery posted a video online of the animal. The animal's escape was first reported to police at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday by a Royal Oak resident who said she discovered that two of her four caracals had walked through an open gate. Officials say one of the caracals was spotted a short time later, caught and returned to its owner.

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A dog trapped for five days deep inside a narrow, rocky crevice at a state park north of New York City was rescued unharmed. State parks officials say while the 12-year-old dog, Liza, went days without food or water at the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, it was observed licking the damp walls of the crevice before a rescuer was finally able to shimmy in close on Tuesday. A local woman was hiking with the dog Thursday when it fell out of sight into the crevice. Park staffers were unable to get into the crevice initially to help the dog.

A large cat native to Africa is on the loose in a suburb north of Detroit after escaping from its owner. Authorities say the caracal was reported missing around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday in Royal Oak. The cat's weight is estimated at 50 pounds. It was among four big cats held in cages that allowed them to go in and out of the owner’s garage. Two escaped through a gate that was left open. The Detroit Free Press reports that the owner used raw meat to lure one back to the enclosure. The missing cat last was seen near an elementary school.

A North Korean soldier clad in a super-tight blue outfit in a state media photo has generated a buzz on social media, with some calling him “a superhero,” “a captain DPRK,” or “a rocket man." He was among nearly 30 soldiers who posed for a photo with leader Kim Jong Un during an exhibition of weapons systems on Monday. They all mostly wore olive green uniforms, the most common color. Only two wore different colors _ the one in the blue outfit and the other in a navy-blue uniform, which isn’t that unusual. Some Twitter users joked about his appearance, saying he looks like a “human cannon ball,” or the North Korean equivalent of Captain America. An expert says he's probably a parachutist.   

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J.R. Smith stepped into a hornets' nest in his first college golf tournament and it had nothing to do with his high score. The 36-year-old two-time NBA champion was literally stung by hornets while completing his round Tuesday for North Carolina A&T on the second day of Elon’s Phoenix Invitational. Smith was stung on the third hole at the Alamance Country Club. His tee shot had gone off the fairway and became embedded in pine straw. His pull cart's wheel rolled over the nest to send Smith darting away from the area before receiving treatment. Smith finished with a birdie-less round of 8-over-par 79. Smith finished at 29 over 240 – 81st out of 84 entries.

A rare two-headed diamondback terrapin turtle is alive and kicking — with all six of its legs — at the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center in Massachusetts. A threatened species in the state, the tutle hatched two weeks ago. Staff say it is feeding well on blood worms and food pellets. They've found that the two heads operate independently, coming up for air at different times. Inside its shell are two gastrointestinal systems to feed both sides of its body. The turtle originally came from nest in West Barnstable, but had to be moved because it was in a hazardous location.

Billionaire Richard Branson says it was an honor and a once-in-a-lifetime experience to don a drum major's uniform and march ahead of a famed New Orleans high school band. Some of the school's fans apparently were less enthusiastic about the appearance, which was part of opening ceremonies last week for a new Virgin Hotel in New Orleans. The president and CEO of St. Augustine High School tweeted a letter acknowledging that many people have told him only students who have earned it should be allowed to wear the uniform. Aulston G. Taylor says others felt the event and publicity was great for the school. 

US and World News

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Jury selection has begun in Georgia, where hundreds of people were ordered to report for what could be a long, laborious effort to find jurors for the trial of three white men charged with fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery. Graphic video of the slaying of the 25-year-old Black man in 2020 sparked a national outcry. Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan are charged with murder and other crimes. Prosecutors say Arbery was merely jogging in the defendants’ neighborhood outside the port city of Brunswick. Defense attorneys insist the three men on trial committed no crimes.  Read more

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Russia’s total number of coronavirus infections has topped 8 million and its daily infection toll has hit a new record. The national coronavirus task force said Monday that 34,325 new infections over the past day raised the pandemic-long total to 8,027,012. That represents more than 5% of the population. The task force also said 998 more people died of COVID-19 bringing the total number of virus deaths to 224,310. That is the highest virus death toll by far in Europe. Russia is still struggling with new infections as vaccination rates remain low. On Monday, St. Peterburg introduced digital codes that show a person's vaccination status and must be used to enter conferences and sports stadiums starting Nov. 1. Read more

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has led a somber British Parliament in honoring the Conservative lawmaker stabbed to death as he met constituents at a church hall. The attack shocked Britain and it has raised questions about how the country protects it politicians and grapples with extremism at home. It came five years after Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox was killed by a far-right extremist. Johnson said Amess “was taken from us in a contemptible act of violence, striking at the core of what it is to be a member of this House.” A 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, Ali Harbi Ali, is being held under the Terrorism Act on suspicion of murder. Read more

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Despite getting vaccinated against COVID-19, Colin Powell remained vulnerable to the virus because of his advanced age and history of cancer. The death Monday of the nation's first Black secretary of state highlights the continued risk to many Americans until more of the population is immunized. Powell was 84 and been treated over the past few years for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that impairs the body’s ability to fight infections -- and to respond well to vaccines. Read more

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The Biden administration is launching a wide-ranging strategy to regulate toxic industrial compounds used in products including cookware, carpets and firefighting foams. Environmental Protection Agency head Michael Regan says his agency is taking a series of actions to limit pollution from a cluster of long-lasting chemicals known as PFAS that are increasingly turning up in public drinking water systems, private wells and even food. The chemicals are associated with serious health conditions, including cancer. The plan announced Monday in North Carolina is intended to restrict PFAS from being released into the environment, accelerate cleanup of PFAS-contaminated sites such as military bases and increase investments in research. Read more

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Washington’s regional Metro system abruptly pulled more than half its fleet of trains from service early Monday morning over a lingering problem with the wheels and axles that caused a dramatic derailing last week. The ruling promises to complicate daily travel and commutes for thousands of riders for an unspecified length of time while the National Transportation and Safety Board investigates the issue.  Read more

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The streets of Haiti’s capital are quiet and largely empty as thousands of workers angry about the nation’s lack of security go on strike. The protest that began Monday comes two days after 17 members of a U.S.-based missionary group were abducted by a violent gang. American officials including the FBI are working with Haitian authorities to try to secure the release of the 12 adults and five children connected with the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. They disappeared Saturday while on a trip to visit an orphanage. It was the largest reported kidnapping of its kind in Haiti in recent years. Read more

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Stocks wobbled in afternoon trading on Wall Street Monday as the market’s momentum slows following its best week since July. Technology stocks and companies that rely on direct consumer spending rose broadly, but those gains were tempered by losses in health care and other companies. The S&P 500 index rose 0.2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.58%. Investors are in for another busy week of earnings reports from companies including Johnson & Johnson, Netflix and United Airlines. Read more

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Italy's center-left forces have won big in Rome and most other significant mayoral races, dealing a heavy blow to right-wing parties that have been hoping to capture the premiership in the next national election. Roberto Gualtieri from Italy's Democratic Party trounced a challenger backed by a party with neo-fascist roots to win as Rome's next mayor. Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta says the wins in Rome, Turin and some smaller cities will dampen any push by conservatives to hold an early national election. That boosts Premier Mario Draghi's staying power as head of a pandemic emergency government until Parliament's next term expires in 2023. Draghi has backed coronavirus restrictions for employees who want to enter workplaces, igniting some protests. Read more

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House lawmakers are threatening to seek a criminal investigation of Amazon, saying the tech giant has a “final chance” to correct previous testimony by executives on its competition practices. They sent a letter to Amazon President and CEO Andy Jassy, marking an escalation in a bipartisan battle against Amazon by the House Judiciary Committee panel that has investigated the market dominance of Big Tech. The letter says the panel was considering referring the case to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. It accuses Amazon of at least misleading Congress and possibly outright lying.  Read more

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In the latest milestone for Bitcoin, the country’s first exchange-traded fund linked to the most popular digital currency should become available to investors. The ETF from ProShares, with the ticker symbol “BITO,” is expected to begin trading Tuesday, barring any opposition from regulators. The fund won’t invest directly in Bitcoin itself. Instead, it will focus on futures related to Bitcoin, a market that’s overseen by U.S. regulators and can be complicated in its own right. That means investors need to be particularly aware of what they’re buying, and how it’s likely to perform.   Read more

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Jill Biden says her relationship with a “prayer partner” from South Carolina helped lead her back to God. The first lady says she couldn't bring herself to pray for years after son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015. She says she felt “betrayed” and “broken” by her faith. But everything changed in May 2019, when she accompanied her husband to a Baptist church as he campaigned for the presidency. That's when the pastor's wife, Robin Jackson, asked to be her “prayer partner.” Jill Biden says that, when Jackson spoke, it was like God telling her it was time to “come home.”  Read more

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This week’s new entertainment releases include an Elton John album of duets and an HBO documentary about the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. One of the year’s most anticipated spectacles lands on Friday when the cult sci-fi adaptation “Dune” hits the big screen and on HBO Max starring Timothée Chalamet. Sticking with sci-fi, Apple TV+'s 10-part drama “Invasion” has extraterrestrials attempt a global land-grab that's set across several continents. And writer and actor Issa Rae’s groundbreaking comedy “Insecure” begins its fifth and final season on HBO. Read more

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“Soul Train” and New York City's Apollo Theater are icons of Black culture, and this year they'll be joining up. BET announced that the annual Soul Train Awards, which honors the best in soul, hip-hop and R&B music, will be taped at the Apollo for the first time. The 2021 show will premiere on BET and BET Her on Sunday, Nov. 28. The show has been taped in Las Vegas in recent years. The Apollo Theater in Harlem is known for its demanding audiences that expect the best out of performers. A long list of Black artists — both famous and unknown — have performed at the venue.  Read more

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A businessman who prosecutors say was a major conduit for corruption by Nicolás Maduro’s inner circle has appeared for the first time in Miami federal court after an extradition that has further strained relations between the U.S. and Venezuela’s socialist government. Only hours after Saab was placed on a Department of Justice aircraft on Saturday, Maduro’s government suspended negotiations with Venezuela’s U.S.-backed opposition. It also threw back into jail six American oil executives it accuses of corruption. They had been under house arrest in another politically charged case marked by allegations of wrongful detention. Read more

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The powerful chief editor of Germany’s best-selling newspaper Bild has been relieved of his duties following revelations of misconduct. Publishing company Axel Springer SE said Monday that Julian Reichelt was being axed from his post “with immediate effect." The 41-year-old was suspended earlier this year as part of company-ordered probe into his management style, but later reinstated. In a statement, Axels Springer said it had gained new information about Reichelt’s current behavior “as a result of press reports” that it had followed up on. It said the 41-year-old had failed to “clearly separate personal and private matters” even after being required to do so following the internal probe earlier this year. Read more

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For many Iraqis, the name Colin Powell conjures up one image: the man who as U.S. secretary of State went before the U.N. Security Council in 2003 to make the case for war against their country. Word of his death Monday at age 84 dredged up feelings of anger in Iraq toward the former general and diplomat, one of those Bush administration officials whom they hold responsible for a disastrous U.S.-led invasion that led to decades of death, chaos and violence in Iraq. His U.N. testimony was a key part of events that they say had a heavy cost for Iraqis and others in the Middle East. A woman in northern Iraq said Powell "lied, lied and lied.” Read more

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Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is on a mission to save American jobs — one computer chip at a time. As President Joe Biden's de facto tech minister, Raimondo is tasked with ensuring the United States will be the world leader in computer chips. The Democratic president's political fortunes might ride on her performance. And so does America’s place atop the world as an economic and military power. Raimondo is working to increase production of chips as well as solar panels and batteries to help the United States thrive. The former Rhode Island governor is not afraid to set high expectations. Read more

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Gonzaga is the preseason No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 men's college basketball poll. The Bulldogs held the No. 1 ranking all last season and reached the national championship game. They earned 55 of 63 first-place votes. UCLA is No. 2 and received the other eight first-place votes after reaching last year's Final Four. Kansas, Villanova and Texas round out the top five. Reigning national champion Baylor is ranked No. 8. The Big Ten and Southeastern conferences have the most teams in the Top 25, with five each. Read more

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The Biden administration is asking the Supreme Court to block the Texas law banning most abortions, while the fight over the measure’s constitutionality plays out in the courts. The law has been in effect since September, aside from a district court-ordered pause that lasted just 48 hours. It bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant. The Justice Department asked the high court Monday to lift an order imposed by a conservative federal appeals court that has allowed Texas to continue enforcing the nation’s strictest curbs on abortion through a novel law that was written to make it hard to challenge in the federal court system.  Read more

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Global automakers are stepping up the pace when it comes to building factories to prepare for what many believe will be a fast-moving transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. On Monday, Toyota, Stellantis, Foxconn, Ford and Volvo all made announcements about electric vehicle component or assembly plants, or plans to raise capital to fund the transition. The moves are ahead of demand at the moment, but forecasters predict that the share of electric vehicles will rise dramatically as more battery-electric models are rolled out as governments increase requirements for zero-emissions vehicles to fight climate change. At present, only about 4.8% of the roughly 80 million new vehicles sold globally run solely on electricity, according to LMC Automotive.  Read more

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The Walt Disney Co. is pushing back the release dates of many of its upcoming titles, including the untitled Indiana Jones movie and the Black Panther sequel “Wakanda Forever.” The company says Monday that the fifth Indiana Jones will be delayed almost a year and open in theaters in June 2023. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has also been pushed several months, from July 2022 to November 2022.  Marvel titles like “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “The Marvels” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” were also all delayed several months.   Read more

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Slovenia’s populist prime minister has blamed a rise in COVID-19 infections on protests in early October that erupted in clashes between police and thousands of opponents of vaccines and coronavirus restrictions. Prime Minister Janez Jansa on Monday was responding in parliament to opposition criticism over the use of force by police against the protesters, including tear gas and water cannons. Jansa defended the police, accusing the demonstrators of attacking the. He said “irresponsible behavior” could force Slovenia to reintroduce lockdown measures. Slovenia on Monday reported 364 new confirmed virus cases, almost double compared to a week ago. Read more

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Facebook says it plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to work on a new computing platform. The company said in a blog post Sunday that those high-skilled workers will help build “the metaverse,” a futuristic notion for connecting people online that uses augmented and virtual reality. Facebook executives have been touting the metaverse as the next big thing, though their track record is spotty on predicting future trends and it could raise questions about privacy and the social platform gaining more control in people’s lives. Facebook also is contending with antitrust crackdowns, the testimony of a whistleblowing ex-employee and concerns about how it handles misinformation.  Read more

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Sinclair Broadcast Group said Monday that it’s suffered a data breach and is still working to determine what information the data contained. The company said it started investigating the potential security incident on Saturday and on Sunday it identified certain servers and workstations that were encrypted with ransomware. It also found that certain office and operational networks were disrupted. Data was also taken from the company’s network. Read more

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The Chinese-controlled Swedish car maker Volvo Cars will make a return as a listed company after a hiatus of more than two decades following an initial public offering and share listing in Sweden later this month. The Goteborg, Sweden-headquartered Volvo Cars said in a statement Monday that the company, owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., would offer shares at 53 Swedish kronor to 68 kronor each in a move that is expected to raise $2.9 billion, valuing the automaker at up to $23 billion. The Chinese company bought Volvo’s business for $1.8 billion in 2010 from Ford Motor Co. Geely, and says it will continue as the Swedish company’s main owner after the listing. Read more

The Biden administration says it will allow a Guantanamo Bay detainee to provide information to Polish officials about his torture in CIA custody following the 9/11 attacks. The decision from the Biden administration was included in a letter government lawyers filed Friday with the Supreme Court. The administration said it will allow the detainee, Abu Zubaydah, to write a declaration that could be sent to Polish officials investigating his treatment in a secret CIA facility there. The government says that detainees’ communications normally are limited to family. But the government noted that a court case in the United States involving Zubaydah already includes a public but redacted declaration from him describing his treatment in CIA custody. Read more

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European Union foreign ministers have looked at ways to stop illegal migration into the 27-nation bloc from neighboring Belarus including stopping companies from leasing jets to Belarusian airline Belavia. Several EU leaders have accused the government of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of facilitating migration into the EU in retaliation for EU sanctions. Thousands of migrants have been lured to Belarus on tourist visas and encouraged to cross into Poland, Lithuania and to a lesser extent Latvia. All three of them are EU nations that border Belarus. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after a meeting of foreign affairs ministers that the bloc could decide to implement sanctions against Belarus’ state airline. Read more

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Some college towns plan to challenge the results of the 2020 census. They claim they were shortchanged because the pandemic forced students to leave campuses. They also complain that the undercount could cost them federal money and prestige. The affected communities include Bloomington, Indiana; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and State College, Pennsylvania. Dudley Poston is a sociology professor at Texas A&M University. He says off-campus students ran the greatest risk of being missed. An Associated Press review of 75 metro areas with the largest share of residents between 20 and 24 showed that the census results fell well below population estimates in some cases but also exceeded them significantly in others. Read more

An international police operation has seized 5.2 metric tons (5.73 short tons) of cocaine with a street value of around 200 million euros ($232 million) on a yacht in the Atlantic Ocean. Portuguese police said Monday the shipment was one of the largest in Europe in recent years and the biggest in Portugal for 15 years. A statement said police backed by Portuguese navy and air force units located and intercepted a 24-meter (79-foot) yacht at sea. They boarded it and found 183 bales of cocaine on board. Three men were arrested and taken to Portugal. The operation involved police from Portugal, Spain, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency. Read more