Pillen beats Trump's candidate in Nebraska governor primary

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Jim Pillen, a hog farm owner and veterinarian, won Nebraska’s crowded Republican primary for governor on Tuesday over a candidate endorsed by Donald Trump, dealing the former president his first loss of the midterm election season. Pillen defeated eight challengers, including Charles Herbster, a Trump-backed businessman accused late in the campaign of groping young women, and Brett Lindstrom, a state senator and Omaha financial adviser who was generally viewed as a more moderate choice. The results were a setback for Trump after a decisive win in last week’s Ohio Republican Senate primary for his candidate, JD Vance.

Trump-backed US Rep. Alex Mooney wins W.Va. GOP primary

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — In an early victory for a Donald Trump-endorsed candidate at the start of midterm season, Rep. Alex Mooney on Tuesday beat fellow incumbent Rep. David McKinley in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District Republican primary. “Donald Trump loves West Virginia, and West Virginia loves Donald Trump,” Mooney said in his victory speech. McKinley was sharply criticized by the former president when he broke with his party as one of 13 Republicans to vote with the Democrats to support President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Trump called McKinley a RINO, or “Republican in Name Only” and endorsed Mooney the day Biden signed the infrastructure law.

Russia pummels port of Odesa in attempt to disrupt supplies

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) — Russia pummeled the vital port of Odesa, Ukrainian officials said Tuesday, in an apparent effort to disrupt supply lines and Western weapons shipments as Ukraine’s foreign minister appeared to suggest the country could expand its war aims. With the war now in its 11th week and Kyiv bogging down Russian forces and even staging a counteroffensive, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba seemed to indicate that the country could go beyond merely pushing Russia back to areas it or its allies held on the day of the Feb. 24 invasion. The idea reflected Ukraine’s ability to stymie a larger, better-armed Russian military, which has surprised many who had anticipated a much quicker end to the conflict.

Musk says he would reverse Twitter's ban of Donald Trump

LONDON (AP) — Elon Musk said Twitter would reverse its ban of former President Donald Trump if his purchase of the social media company goes through, signaling just how permissive the platform could become toward free speech under his ownership. Speaking virtually at an auto conference, the Tesla CEO said Tuesday that Twitter's ban of Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a “morally bad decision” and “foolish in the extreme.” “I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” said Musk, adding that he preferred temporary suspensions and other narrowly tailored punishments for content that is illegal or otherwise “destructive to the world." Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey voiced his agreement in a Tuesday tweet in which he said “generally permanent bans are a failure of ours and don’t work.” Shares of Twitter dropped 1.5% Tuesday to $47.24 per share.

House approves $40B in Ukraine aid, beefing up Biden request

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House emphatically approved a fresh $40 billion Ukraine aid package Tuesday as lawmakers beefed up President Joe Biden's initial request, signaling a magnified, bipartisan commitment to thwart Russian President Vladimir Putin's bloody three-month-old invasion. The measure sailed to passage by a lopsided 368-57 margin, providing $7 billion more than Biden's request from April and dividing the increase evenly between defense and humanitarian programs. The bill would give Ukraine military and economic assistance, help regional allies, replenish weapons the Pentagon has shipped overseas and provide $5 billion to address global food shortages caused by the war's crippling of Ukraine's normally robust production of many crops.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali acquitted of sexual misconduct

BOSTON (AP) — Mario Batali was found not guilty of indecent assault and battery on Tuesday, following a swift trial in which the celebrity chef waived his right to have a jury decide his fate in a criminal case that arose from the global #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment. The 61-year-old former Food Network personality quickly strode out of the courtroom with his lawyers without commenting on the case, which centered on allegations that he aggressively kissed and groped a Boston woman while taking a selfie at a bar in 2017. In delivering the verdict, Boston Municipal Court Judge James Stanton agreed with Batali’s lawyers that the accuser had credibility issues and that photos suggested the encounter was amicable.

Political reality: Congress can't save — or end — abortion

WASHINGTON (AP) — After fighting for decades over abortion policy, Congress is about to run into the stark political limits of its ability to save — or end — the Roe v. Wade protections. President Joe Biden has called on Democrats to enshrine the nearly 50-year-old Supreme Court ruling into law after the disclosure of a draft opinion that would overturn the landmark decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion services. But passing bills is easier said than done in the narrowly split Congress — reflective of a deeply divided nation. A test vote Wednesday in the Senate on a Democratic bill to protect access to abortions is expected to fail, blocked by a Republican-led filibuster.

Biden pushes 'ultra-MAGA' label on GOP as he defends record

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday warned voters unhappy with soaring inflation and his stalled domestic agenda against turning power over to “ultra-MAGA” Republicans in the midterm elections as he increasingly tries to cast former President Donald Trump and his adherents as a political foil. Speaking at the White House less than six months before the elections, Biden acknowledged that he could “taste” the country’s dissatisfaction with Washington, particularly over rising prices, but he sought to channel the anger against the GOP. “Look, I know you’ve got to be frustrated,” he said. "I know, I can taste it. Frustrated by high prices, by gridlock in Congress, by the time it takes to get anything done.

Haitian gang leader charged in kidnapping of US missionaries

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors in the U.S. have charged the leader of a notoriously violent Haitian gang in connection with the kidnapping of 16 Americans last year, the Justice Department said Tuesday. Germine Joly, 29, who is also known as “Yonyon,” is accused of leading the 400 Mawozo gang and is the first person charged by Justice Department prosecutors with having any involvement in the kidnapping of the Christian missionaries. He was extradited to the U.S. last week and faces separate firearm trafficking charges, prosecutors said. The indictment says Joly was in a Haitian prison during the kidnapping but was nonetheless able to direct his group's operations, including ransom negotiations for the captives' release.

Most Great Barrier Reef coral studied this year was bleached

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — More than 90% of Great Barrier Reef coral surveyed this year was bleached in the fourth such mass event in seven years in the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, Australian government scientists said. Bleaching is caused by global warming, but this is the reef's first bleaching event during a La Niña weather pattern, which is associated with cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority said in its an annual report released late Tuesday that found 91% of the areas surveyed were affected. Bleaching in 2016, 2017 and 2020 damaged two-thirds of the coral in the famed reef off Australia's eastern coast.