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I can understand those who say they would rather “push a Ford than drive a Chevy.” And it is acceptable that some prefer Coke to Pepsi. There’s even space for those misguided souls who would rather have a Big Mac than a Whopper. Those are personal preferences and subject to personal opinion. Read more

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State AP Stories

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A revived Hurricane Ian has pounded coastal South Carolina after causing catastrophic damage in Florida. The storm washed away parts of piers and flooded streets in parts of South Carolina. The U.S. death toll from Hurricane Ian rose to at least 27 as Florida authorities confirmed several drowning deaths and other fatalities. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Friday that the deaths included a 22-year-old woman ejected in an ATV rollover because of a road washout. Many other deaths were drownings, including that of a 68-year-old woman swept into the ocean by a wave. Authorities expect the death toll to rise further.

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The GOP is pursuing its latest legal challenge to North Carolina electoral procedures established by the Democrat-led State Board of Elections. Republicans made the move one week before North Carolina election officials begin processing by-mail ballots in the closely watched Southern swing state. The North Carolina Republican Party filed two motions in Wake County Superior Court this week, asking the court to block the board from enforcing its prohibition of county election officials scrutinizing signatures on absentee voting documents. The GOP motions mark Republicans’ latest attempts to mold election laws to their liking in a state that could shift the political balance locally and nationwide.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down a constitutional right to abortion and sending the issue to the states has groups on both sides of the debate focusing more than ever on races this fall for state supreme courts. Whether abortion access is maintained, restricted or eliminated in any state could depend on whether a state's high court has a majority of Democratic or Republican justices. Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio are among the states where the races are drawing heavy interest and spending as the midterm elections approach.

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The U.S. death toll from Hurricane Ian’s passage has risen to four overall after an official said late Thursday that two residents of a hard-hit barrier island on Florida’s western coast were confirmed dead. Dana Souza, city manager of Sanibel, said the deaths were confirmed by fire officials but offered no other specifics.Two other people have also died. A 38-year old man from Lake County died Wednesday in a motor vehicle accident after his vehicle hydroplaned and a 72-year old man in Deltona was confirmed dead on Thursday. Officials with the Volusia sheriff’s office said the man went outside to drain his pool and fell into a canal.

National & World AP Stories

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Russia says it has withdrawn its troops from the once-occupied city of Lyman, as Ukraine’s eastern counteroffensive recaptures more territory. Russia’s Tass and RIA news agencies, citing the Russian defense ministry, made the announcement. Lyman is 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Ukrainian forces had pushed across the Oskil River as part of a counteroffensive that saw Kyiv retake vast swathes of territory beginning in September. Lyman, a key transportation hub, had been an important site in the Russian front line for both ground communications and logistics. Now Ukraine can push further potentially into the occupied Luhansk region, which is one of four regions that Russia annexed Friday.

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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 assessing damage on Saturday morning. Ian made another landfall Friday on South Carolina's coast and is now a post-tropical cyclone moving across parts of North Carolina, Virginia and New York. The powerful storm terrorized millions of people for most of the week and officials say it's blamed for at least 27 deaths in Florida and three deaths in Cuba. But authorities say they expect the death toll to rise further.

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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.

Experts say that Hurricane Ian is shining a spotlight once again on the vulnerability of the nation’s barrier islands and the increasing cost of people living on them. Florida's Sanibel Island was hard hit by the storm. Homes were destroyed. Two people have been confirmed dead. And Sanibel's lone bridge to the mainland collapsed. Barrier island communities like Sanibel anchor tourist economies that provide crucial tax dollars. But the cost of rebuilding them is often high because they’re home to many high-value properties. Jesse Keenan is a real estate professor at Tulane University. He questions whether such communities can keep rebuilding as hurricanes become more and more destructive from climate change.