National Politics

China wants 10 Pacific nations to endorse sweeping agreement

China wants 10 small Pacific nations to endorse a sweeping agreement covering everything from security to fisheries in what one leader warns is a game-changing bid by China to wrest control of the region. A draft of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press shows China wants to train Pacific police officers, team up on “traditional and non-traditional security” and expand law enforcement cooperation. China also wants to jointly develop a marine plan for fisheries — which would include the Pacific’s lucrative tuna catch — increase cooperation on cyber network governance, and set up cultural Confucius Institutes and classrooms. China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi is visiting seven of the countries he hopes will endorse the so-called Common Development Vision.

Davos updates | Pfizer offers low-cost drugs to poor nations

Pfizer says it will provide nearly two dozen products, including its top-selling COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, at not-for-profit prices in some of the world’s poorest countries. The drugmaker announced the program Wednesday at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, and said it was aimed at improving health equity in 45 lower-income countries. Most of the countries are in Africa, but the list also includes Haiti, Syria, Cambodia and North Korea. The products include 23 medicines and vaccines that treat infectious diseases, some cancers and rare and inflammatory conditions. A company spokeswoman says New York-based Pfizer will charge only manufacturing costs and “minimal” distribution expenses.

Ukraine: 6 civilians killed as Russia focuses fire in east

A regional governor in eastern Ukraine said Wednesday that at least six civilians have been killed by the latest Russian shelling in a town at the epicenter of fighting three months into the war. Luhansk region's governor eight people were also injured over the past 24 hours and accused the Russian troops of deliberately targeting shelters where civilians were hiding. The town is located in in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of Donbas, where the Russian forces have been pressing their offensive despite stiff Ukrainian resistance. Moscow-backed separatists have fought Ukrainian forces in the Donbas for eight years and hold large swaths of territory. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Tuesday that the country’s forces in the region faced a difficult situation.

Live updates | Britain sees growing pressure on grain prices

British military authorities say Ukraine’s overland export routes are “highly unlikely” to offset the trade problems caused by Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea port of Odessa. And that will put further pressure on global grain prices. The U.K. Ministry of Defense, in an update posted Wednesday morning, says there has been no “significant” merchant shipping in or out of Odessa since the start of the Russian invasion. The ministry says that the blockade, combined with the lack of overland routes, means that significant supplies of grain remain in storage and can’t be exported.

Saving the children: War closes in on eastern Ukrainian town

Chunks of twisted metal and wood splinters lie among the swings and slides in the playground outside the bombed-out school. A few streets away, a yellow bathtub hangs precariously over the void left when part of an apartment building collapsed in a bombing. The eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut has been coming under increasing artillery strikes, particularly over the last week, as Russian forces try to press forward in an effort to encircle and capture the key city of Sieverodonetsk to the northeast. Most of Bakhmut’s population has already fled, and more are leaving every day. Evacuation minibuses run mainly by volunteers shuttle back and forth. “Now it’s a question of saving the children,” said Olga Hordiyenko, 51.

Chinese leader Xi defends record to UN human rights chief

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has defended China’s record to the top U.N. human rights official, criticizing those countries that he said lecture others on human rights and politicize the issue. He told visiting U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet that China has embarked on a path of human rights development that conforms to the trend of the times and suits its own national conditions. The two spoke by video phone. Bachelet is in on a six-day visit to China that includes Xinjiang, a region where the Chinese government has been accused of human rights violations. Her trip has been criticized by the U.S. and others, who think that China will use it for propaganda purposes.

Incumbents in Georgia beat primary opponents down the ballot

Georgia's Republican attorney general and insurance commissioner have defeated GOP primary challengers backed by former President Donald Trump. Attorney General Chris Carr beat John Gordon, who campaigned largely on Trump's lies that widespread fraud swayed the 2020 election. And Insurance Commissioner John King defeated Trump-backed Patrick Witt. Trump also backed one of four Republicans in the open race for lieutenant governor. Meanwhile, Republican state school Superintendent Richard Woods won a primary challenge by his predecessor, John Barge.

Sweden, Finland delegations in Turkey for NATO talks

Delegations from Sweden and Finland are scheduled to hold talks with senior Turkish officials in an effort to overcome Turkey’s objections to their historic bids to join the NATO alliance. The talks are taking place in Ankara on Wednesday. Turkey says it opposes the two Nordic countries’ membership in the military alliance. Turkey cites grievances with Sweden's and a to a lesser extent Finland’s perceived support to groups it views as terrorists. It also accuses the two of imposing arms exports restrictions on Turkey and refusing to extradite suspected “terrorists.” Turkey’s objections have dampened Stockholm's and Helsinki’s hopes for their quick membership in NATO amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and puts NATO’s credibility at stake.

US to end Russia's ability to pay international investors

The U.S. will close the last avenue for Russia to pay back its billions in debt to international investors on Wednesday, making a Russian default on its debts for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution all but inevitable. The Treasury Department said in a notification Tuesday that it does not plan to renew the license to allow Russia to keep paying its debtholders through American banks. That window closes at midnight Wednesday. Without a legal avenue to pay its debtholders, Russia will certainly default on its bonds this summer.

Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger beats Trump ally

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has won the Republican primary in a bid to keep his job. He defeated three challengers, including U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Raffensperger became a top target for Trump after the secretary of state refused to bow to pressure to take steps to overturn the former president’s narrow loss in Georgia. Hice had embraced false claims about the 2020 election being stolen and objected to Georgia’s electoral votes being counted for President Joe Biden.

Sen. John Boozman clinches Republican nomination in Arkansas

Sen. John Boozman has won the Republican primary for his reelection bid in Arkansas. Boozman on Tuesday defeated three rivals in the state’s GOP primary after relying heavily on his endorsement from Donald Trump and the state’s top GOP figures. .The soft-spoken two-term senator had Trump’s backing, which featured prominently in every ad and mailer, and had adopted a more combative style during his reelection bid. Boozman is in the line to chair the Senate Agriculture Committee if Republicans win the Senate. Natalie James, a real estate agent from Little Rock, won the Democratic primary.

Takeaways: Trump's big defeat; election denial backfiring

Former President Donald Trump’s crusade for vengeance suffered two devastating blows when Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won their primaries despite rejecting Trump’s entreaties to reverse his 2020 election loss. It’s a huge warning sign for the way Republican voters view the former president’s crusade to punish those who were not willing to overturn the will of the voters in 2020. Voters also demonstrated an openness to embracing some scandal-plagued candidates. Former football great Herschel Walker won his U.S. Senate primary in Georgia despite his checkered past, while Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene shrugged off challengers who criticized her headline-grabbing, bombastic behavior.

Greene, McBath win US House races; Cuellar in tight runoff

One of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress was facing his toughest primary challenge yet in Tuesday's runoff, while a staunch gun safety advocate ousted her House colleague in a fierce member-on-member congressional primary in suburban Atlanta. In northwest Georgia, far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a conspiracy-peddling provocateur who has endorsed calls to assassinate prominent Democrats, coasted to victory. Primary elections Tuesday in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota and Texas are offering a glimpse of what the next Congress could look like, with some marquee matchups testing whether voters want to elect agents of change or a return to normal.

Zeigler, Allen in GOP runoff for secretary of state

Outgoing State Auditor Jim Zeigler and state Rep. Wes Allen have advanced to the Republican primary runoff to succeed GOP incumbent John Merrill as Alabama’s secretary of state. The two were the top vote-getters in a four-way race and will meet again on June 21. Steve Marshall won the Republican nomination for Alabama attorney general and faces a Democratic challenger in the fall. Greg Cook won the GOP nomination for Alabama Supreme Court, but there will be a Republican runoff for state auditor. Voters also approved a constitutional amendment to fund work on state parks and historical sites.

Rep. Cuellar, Cisneros locked in tight race in Texas runoff

Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar is locked in a tight primary runoff against progressive Jessica Cisneros in South Texas’ largest district. Early Wednesday, the race was too early to call. Cuellar was leading Cisneros by 175 votes, or 0.38 percentage points, out of 45,209 ballots counted as of 2 a.m. ET Wednesday. In March, Cisneros forced the runoff after she came within 1,000 votes of Cuellar, a nine-term incumbent, in the primarily Hispanic district with a large Catholic population. The winner will face Cassy Garcia, who won the Republican runoff for the seat.

Midterm updates | Nguyen in runoff in Democratic SoS primary

State Rep. Bee Nguyen is advancing to a runoff in the Democratic primary for Georgia secretary of state. It was too early to tell which of the other four Democrats she will face in the June 21 contest. Nguyen has served in the state House since winning a 2017 special election to succeed Stacey Abrams in a district that includes parts of DeKalb County just east of the Fulton County line and some parts of the city of Atlanta. She is also a vice chair of the state Democratic Party. Abrams is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor after narrowly losing the election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2018.

Ettinger wins Dem nod for Hagedorn seat; Finstad, Munson vie

Former Hormel Foods executive Jeff Ettinger cruised to victory in a Democratic primary to finish the term of the late U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn. Meanwhile, Republicans Brad Finstad and Jeremy Munson were locked in a close battle as returns continued to filter in late in the evening. The winners will meet in August to determine who will finish the last few months of Hagedorn’s term. And they're likely to see a bump in their chances to win a full term later in November.

Trump rebuked with stinging losses in Georgia GOP contests

Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia has easily dispatched Donald Trump’s hand-picked challenger in a Republican primary that demonstrated the limits of the former president and his conspiracy-fueled politics in a critical swing state. The results, combined with the loss of the Trump-backed candidate for secretary of state, serve as a stinging rebuke in a race Trump prioritized above almost all others. Angered by Kemp’s refusal to go along with his extraordinary effort to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, Trump recruited former Sen. David Perdue. But Kemp ultimately emerged as a powerful candidate. He will face Democrat Stacey Abrams this fall in one of the nation’s most consequential governor’s races.

Katie Britt, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks in Alabama Senate runoff

Alabama’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate is going to a June runoff between Katie Britt and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks. The Republicans are seeking the nomination for the Senate seat now held by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby who is retiring. Britt is Shelby’s former chief of staff and the former leader of the Business Council of Alabama. Brooks overcame a feud with former President Donald Trump to secure a runoff spot. Trump initially endorsed Brooks in the race but withdrew that endorsement in March. The two edged out businessman Mike Durant, who is best known as the helicopter pilot held captive in the events chronicled in “Black Hawk Down.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey avoids runoff in Republican primary

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has turned back eight primary challengers to win the GOP gubernatorial nomination without a runoff. Ivey easily outdistanced her two closest challengers, Lindy Blanchard and Tim James. Ivey will now face the winner of a Democratic primary runoff between educator Yolanda Flowers of Birmingham and state Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier of Selma. Speaking in Montgomery, Ivey thanked her opponents, touted her economic record and promised to keep being President Joe Biden’s “biggest roadblock.”

Biden says 'we have to act' after Texas school shooting

An anguished and angry President Joe Biden is calling for new restrictions on firearms after a gunman massacred at least 19 children at a Texas elementary school. “We have to act,” Biden told the nation Tuesday night from the White House, after years of failure to pass new laws. He spoke after arriving home from a five-day trip to Asia that was bookended by “horrific” mass tragedy. Just two days before he left on his trip, he met with victims’ families after a hate-motivated shooter killed 10 Black people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

Biden to sign policing order on anniversary of Floyd's death

President Joe Biden plans to sign an executive order on policing Wednesday, the second anniversary of George Floyd's death. Most of the order is focused on federal law enforcement agencies — for example, requiring them to review and revise policies on use of force. It would also create a database to help track officer misconduct. The administration cannot require local police departments to participate in the database, which is intended to prevent problem officers from hopping from job to job. But officials are looking for ways to use federal funding to encourage their cooperation. The order would also restrict the flow of surplus military equipment to local police.

Australia's government urges China to remove trade barriers

Australia’s new government has urged China to lift trade sanctions if it wants to reset a bilateral relationship that plumbed new depths under the previous administration. The Chinese premier's congratulatory letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on his election victory was widely seen as a relaxation of Beijing’s two-year ban on high-level government contact with Australia. Premier Li Keqiang said China was ready to work with Australia to develop the bilateral relationship. But Albanese said it was China, not Australia, that had changed since Labor was last in power in 2013. China has created a series of official and unofficial trade barriers in recent years to a range of Australian exports.

Trump press secretary Sanders wins GOP Arkansas governor nod

Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has won the Republican nomination for governor in Arkansas. Sanders defeated former talk radio host Doc Washburn in Tuesday’s Republican primary. Nuclear engineer Chris Jones won the Democratic nomination. Sanders was endorsed by her former boss, former President Donald Trump, and shattered fundraising records since entering the race last year.  She’s running to succeed outgoing Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is barred by term limits from seeking reelection and is considering a run for president in 2024.