AP News Summary at 1:56 p.m. EDT | National

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Disabled voters win in Wisconsin; legal fights elsewhere

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin voters with disabilities are celebrating a win after a federal judge, citing the Voting Rights Act, ruled that they may get assistance returning their ballots. Several voters sued after a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that cast doubt on whether they could. While that resolved the issue in Wisconsin, disabled voters elsewhere may not be so lucky. As Republicans have pushed to tighten voting restrictions amid former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen 2020 election, the voting rights of people with disabilities have sometimes been harmed. They are pushing back, with legal challenges in at least eight states that make it difficult or impossible for people with certain disabilities to vote.

Queen Elizabeth II lies in state after solemn procession

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II has left Buckingham Palace for the last time, her casket borne to Westminster Hall by a horse-drawn gun carriage. Her son, King Charles III, and his siblings and sons marched behind the coffin, which was topped by a wreath of white roses and her crown resting on a purple velvet pillow. The military procession from the palace was designed to underscore the queen’s seven decades as head of state as the national mourning shifted to the boulevards and landmarks of London. Eight pall bearers carried the coffin into the historic hall and placed it on a raised platform. The queen will lie in state for four days until her funeral on Monday.

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy visits retaken strategic city

IZIUM, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made a rare foray outside Ukraine’s capital and highlighted Moscow’s embarrassing retreat from a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Hand on heart, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy watched his country’s flag rise above the recaptured city of Izium on Wednesday. Russian forces left the city last week as Kyiv’s soldiers advanced in the northeastern Kharkiv region. Prosecutors found six bodies with traces of torture in recently retaken villages there. Moscow’s rout was its largest military defeat since Russian troops withdrew from the Kyiv area early in the war. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said after a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin he sees no signs from the Kremlin of any regrets.

One union rejects deal days ahead of rail strike deadline

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Members of one union are rejecting a tentative deal with the largest U.S. freight railroads while three other unions remained at the bargaining table just days ahead of a national strike deadline. A strike, which could begin Friday, would  intensify snarls in the nation’s supply chain that have contributed to rising prices. About 4,900 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 19 voted to reject the tentative agreement Wednesday. Government officials are bracing for the possibility of a nationwide rail strike that would paralyze shipments of everything from crude and clothing to cars, a potential calamity for businesses that have struggled for more than two years due to COVID-19 related supply chain breakdowns.

Iowa teen who killed rapist sentenced, ordered to pay $150K

A teenage human trafficking victim who was initially charged with first-degree murder after she stabbed her accused rapist to death has been sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay $150,000 restitution to the man’s family. Seventeen-year-old Pieper Lewis was sentenced Tuesday after she pleaded guilty last year to  involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the June 2020 killing of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks. Lewis was 15 when she stabbed Brooks more than 30 times in a Des Moines apartment. Lewis has maintained that she was trafficked against her will to Brooks for sex multiple times and stabbed him in a fit of rage after he had raped her yet again. Police and prosecutors have not disputed that Lewis was sexually assaulted and trafficked.

Defense suddenly rests case in Florida school shooter trial

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Attorneys for Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz have suddenly and surprisingly rested their case, leading to a shouting match after the judge accused them of a lack of professionalism. Cruz’s attorneys had told the judge and prosecutors they would be calling 80 witnesses but rested at the beginning of Wednesday’s court session after calling only about 25. After the announcement, Judge Elizabeth Scherer accused lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill of being “unprofessional.” McNeill accused Scherer of insulting her in front of her client. Cruz has pleaded guilty of murdering 17 at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. The trial is to decide whether he is sentenced to death or life without parole.

Text messages link Favre, welfare money, volleyball facility

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — New court documents show the Mississippi governor in 2017 knew of a plan for a nonprofit group to pay Brett Favre more than $1 million in welfare grant money so the retired NFL quarterback could help fund a volleyball facility. The building is at the University of Southern Mississippi, where Favre’s daughter played volleyball. Court documents filed Monday include text message exchanges between Favre and Nancy New, director of the nonprofit that had contracts with the Mississippi Department of Human Services. In August 2017, New texted Favre that then-Gov. Phil Bryant was “on board” with payment to Favre to help fund the volleyball building.

WHO: COVID end ‘in sight,’ deaths at lowest since March 2020

GENEVA (AP) — The head of the World Health Organization says the number of coronavirus deaths last week was the lowest reported number in the pandemic since March 2020, marking what could be a turning point in the years-long global outbreak. At a press briefing on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world had never been in a better position to stop COVID-19. In its weekly report on the pandemic, the U.N. health agency said deaths fell by 22% in the past week, at just over 11,000 reported worldwide. Still, the WHO warned that relaxed testing and surveillance means that many cases are going unnoticed.

Increasing pressures on Colorado River water in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Colorado River Compact was signed in 1922, just 10 years after New Mexico became a state. Today, New Mexico still uses only about half of its allotment under the compact each year. Colorado River tributaries serve relatively small portions of northwest and southwest New Mexico. But the basin’s water is essential for the state’s largest city: Albuquerque. And pressures on the water is expected to increase as more tribes reach water rights settlements and build out infrastructure to use those rights. For example, agencies are making progress on large projects to deliver water to Navajo communities in western New Mexico.

Ti West, Mia Goth dream up a technicolor horror in ‘Pearl’

VENICE, Italy (AP) — Ti West and Mia Goth expand the world of “X” in the new film “Pearl.” They look back at the youth of the murderous old woman who terrorized an adult film shoot in the 1970s in “X.” The film’s world premiere was held at the Venice International Film Festival. In “Pearl,” Goth’s title character is a young farmgirl in 1918 who dreams of Hollywood stardom. The film is a candy-colored ode to technicolor classics of Hollywood’s Golden Age, from “The Wizard of Oz” to “Singin’ in the Rain” but with carnage and blood. “Pearl” opens in theaters nationwide Friday.

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