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Today, I want to talk about Kansas. Not about its corn as high as an elephant’s eye, nor about Dorothy and Toto trying to find their way home, but about Kansas as the geographic and Republican center of America, Kansas as the vintage Norman Rockwell core of America, Kansas as what the Republican Party was before being hijacked by Newt Gingrich and then mugged by a New York real estate con artist. Read more

Because I am an inveterate optimist who likes to think the best of other folks, I’m going to assume for the sake of the following argument that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and former governors Jim Hunt, Mike Easley, and Bev Perdue sometimes sign documents they’ve not closely read. Read more

Various top rankings for North Carolina’s business climates have predictably — and once again — been the cause of partisan tug-of-wars in our state. When the state scores highly under one party’s control, the ruling crowd trumpets vindication and the out-party waxes dismissive. But the truth is that North Carolina typically does well in these rankings, and neither party is being entirely honest when they marshal our success as a talking point. Read more

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State AP Stories

The North Carolina attorney general’s office is asking a federal court not to restore the state's 20-week abortion ban after the judge suggested his previous injunction “may now be contrary to law.” The attorney general’s office argued in a brief filed late Monday that reinstating restrictions in the aftermath of the June U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade would create “significant risk of public confusion” about the availability and legality of abortion services in North Carolina. Staff attorneys in Stein’s office filed the brief without the attorney general’s involvement.

North Carolina Democrats have asked a state court to overturn an elections board vote granting the Green Party official recognition despite allegations of fraud. Democrats have been accused by the Green Party of meddling in its petitioning process to qualify candidates for the November ballot. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court, precedes the first hearing next Monday in a Green Party lawsuit against the North Carolina State Board of Elections, when the newly certified party will fight for an extension to a statutory deadline preventing its candidates from appearing on the ballot.

National & World AP Stories

Ukraine’s air force says that nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in massive explosions at an air base in Crimea amid speculation they were the result of a Ukrainian attack. That would represent a significant escalation in the war. Russia denied any aircraft were damaged in Tuesday’s blasts — or that any attack took place. Ukrainian officials have stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility for the explosions, while poking fun at Russia’s explanation that munitions at the Saki air base caught fire and blew up. They have underscored the importance of the peninsula that Moscow annexed eight years ago. In his nightly video address several hours after the blasts, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to retake Crimea.

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China has reaffirmed its threat to use military force to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control. The lengthy policy statement issued by the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office and its news department Wednesday followed almost a week of threatening Chinese military exercises near the island that have disrupted flights and shipping in a region crucial to global supply chains. China says the threatening moves were prompted by a visit to Taiwan last week by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but Taiwan says China used that merely as a pretext to up its threats. Beijing extended the ongoing exercises without announcing when they will end, although they appear to have run their course for the time being.

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French authorities say a beluga whale stranded for several days in the Seine River has had to be euthanized after it was successfully removed from the French waterway. The whale was being prepared for transfer to a saltwater pool in Normandy. A veterinarian said Wednesday that the dangerously thin white mammal began to have breathing difficulties while on the way to the coast, and so experts decided the most humane thing to do was to euthanize the creature. Conservation group Sea Shepherd France said veterinary exams after the beluga’s removal from the river showed it has no digestive activity. The whale was first spotted last week having accidentally veered off its normal path to the Arctic.

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Federal prosecutors are set to begin building their case against two men described as leaders of a 2020 scheme to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. It's the government's second chance to get convictions after a jury couldn’t deliver a unanimous verdict last spring. Opening statements are planned for Wednesday in federal court in Grand Rapids. Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. are charged with agreeing to kidnap the Democratic governor as part of a plot to shock the country into chaos in the final days of the 2020 presidential election. The government says they were displeased over COVID-19 restrictions. The jury was selected Tuesday. Some people were dismissed for health reasons or for political beliefs they couldn’t set aside.