AP Top News at 7:55 a.m. EST

AP Top News at 7:55 a.m. EST

Updated: 1 month, 3 days, 15 hours, 36 minutes, 40 seconds ago

Western NY death toll rises to 28 from cold, storm chaos

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo residents hovered around space heaters, hunted for cars buried in snow drifts and looked for more victims Monday, after 28 people died in one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit western New York. The rest of the United States also was reeling from the ferocious winter storm, with at least another two dozen deaths reported in other parts of the country. Up to 9 more inches of snow (23 centimeters) could fall in some areas of western New York through Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. “This is not the end yet,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, calling the blizzard “the worst storm probably in our lifetime,” even for an area accustomed to punishing snow.

The AP Interview: Ukraine FM aims for February peace summit

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s foreign minister said Monday that his nation wants a summit to end the war but he doesn’t anticipate Russia taking part, a statement making it hard to foresee the devastating invasion ending soon. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told The Associated Press that his government wants a “peace” summit within two months at the United Nations with Secretary-General António Guterres as mediator. The U.N. gave a very cautious response. “As the secretary-general has said many times in the past, he can only mediate if all parties want him to mediate,” U.N. associate spokesperson Florencia Soto Nino-Martinez said Monday.

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Mega Millions Tuesday jackpot surpasses estimated $565M

The holiday shopping season — for Mega Millions lottery ticket buyers, at least — is ramping up as officials say the estimated jackpot for Tuesday night’s drawing has surpassed half a billion dollars. As of late Monday, lottery officials estimate Tuesday’s prize at $565 million — or more than $293 million if delivered in cash — after there were no lucky winners holding a ticket that matched all six numbers in the last drawing held on Friday. Tuesday’s drawing will be held at 11 p.m. EST. Tickets sold in California and Florida for an Oct. 14 drawing shared the last Mega Millions jackpot of $502 million.

DOT to probe Southwest cancellations that stranded flyers

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The U.S. Department of Transportation said it will look into flight cancellations by Southwest Airlines that have left travelers stranded at airports across the country amid an intense winter storm that has killed dozens of people. Many airlines were forced to cancel flights due to the weather, but Southwest was by far the leader in canceled flights. About 4,000 domestic U.S. flights were cancelled Monday, according to the tracking website FlightAware, and 2,900 of those were Southwest’s. Other major airlines, including American, United, Delta and JetBlue, suffered cancellations rates of between none and 2%. The cancellation rate at Southwest Airlines was 62%, according to FlightAware.

Long COVID: Could mono virus or fat cells be playing roles?

A British historian, an Italian archaeologist and an American preschool teacher have never met in person, but they share a prominent pandemic bond. Plagued by eerily similar symptoms, the three women are credited with describing, naming and helping bring long COVID into the public’s consciousness in early 2020. Rachel Pope, of Liverpool, took to Twitter in late March 2020 to describe her bedeviling symptoms, then unnamed, after a coronavirus infection. Elisa Perego in Italy first used the term “long COVID,” in a May tweet that year. Amy Watson in Portland, Oregon, got inspiration in naming her Facebook support group from the trucker cap she’d been wearing, and “long hauler” soon became part of the pandemic lexicon.

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S. Korea military sorry for failing to down North’s drones

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s president on Tuesday called for stronger air defenses and high-tech stealth drones while the military apologized for failing to shoot down North Korean drones that crossed the border for the first time in five years. South Korea’s military scrambled warplanes and attack helicopters on Monday, but they failed to bring down any of the North Korean drones that flew back home or disappeared from South Korean radars. It raised serious questions about South Korea’s air defense network at a time when tensions remain high over North Korea’s torrid run of missile tests this year.

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Israeli doctors reject Netanyahu ally’s anti-LGBTQ remarks

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s largest medical center and healthcare workers from hospitals around the country have spoken out against remarks by allies of Benjamin Netanyahu calling for a law to allow discrimination against LGBTQ people in hospitals and businesses. It was part of a broader blowback against remarks made this week by Religious Zionism politicians calling for legal discrimination against LGBTQ people. Netanyahu’s new government — the most religious and hard-line in Israel’s history — is made up of ultra-Orthodox parties, an ultranationalist religious faction, and his Likud party. It is to be sworn in on Thursday. Earlier this week, two Netanyahu allies from the ultranationalist Religious Zionism party said that their faction seeks to change an anti-discrimination law in a way that would permit businesses and doctors to deny service to LGBTQ people on the basis of religious belief.

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Manhattan man charged in 2 random knife slashing murders

NEW YORK (AP) — Two seemingly isolated and random outdoor murders at the height of the holiday season and of the kind New Yorkers have increasingly feared since the pandemic began were blamed by police officials Monday on a city resident with a criminal record. James Essig, chief of detectives for the New York Police Department, underscored at a news conference how brief and unplanned were the encounters Roland Codrington is accused of having with two men slashed to death in nighttime killings three days apart, resulting in two murder charges. It was not immediately clear who would represent Codrington at initial court appearances.

Foreign firms: China ‘turns corner’ by ending quarantine

BEIJING (AP) — Foreign companies welcomed China’s decision to end quarantines for travelers from abroad as an important step to revive slumping business activity while Japan on Tuesday joined India in announcing restrictions on visitors from the country as infections surge. The ruling Communist Party’s abrupt decision to lift some of the world’s strictest anti-virus controls comes as it tries reverse an economic downturn. It has ended curbs that confined millions of people to their homes and sparked protests, but hospitals have been flooded with feverish, wheezing patients as the virus spreads. The announcement late Monday that quarantines for travelers from abroad will end Jan.

Abduction, torture, rape: Conflict in Congo worsens, says UN

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The accounts are haunting. Abductions, torture, rapes. Scores of civilians including women and children have been killed by the M23 rebels in eastern Congo, according to a U.N. report In addition, the M23 rebels have forced children to be soldiers, according to the report by a panel of U.N. experts. The 21-page report based on interviews with more than 230 sources and visits to Rutshuru area of Congo’s North Kivu province where the M23 have seized territory, is expected to be published this week. Conflict has been simmering in eastern Congo for decades where more than 120 armed groups are fighting in the region, most for land and control of mines with valuable minerals, while some groups are trying to protect their communities.