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    The White House says singer Jon Batiste has been chosen to perform at Thursday's state dinner that will highlight long-standing ties between the United States and France and honor President Emmanuel Macron. A spokesperson for first lady Jill Biden says Batiste is an artist who transcends generations and his music inspires and brings people together. The 36-year-old Batiste most recently was bandleader and musical director on the “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” The state dinner is the first of the Biden administration and is part of a broader state visit to the United States by Macron.

      Matt Hancock, the U.K’s scandal-prone former health secretary, sought an unlikely form of redemption: attempting to win “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here” — a grueling, often gruesome reality TV show set in the Australian jungle. Hancock led Britain’s response to COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic, telling people to stay away from others to protect the health service, then breaking his Government’s own rules, when video emerged of him kissing and groping an aide he was having an affair with. Viewers have upended expectations by voting Hancock through to the show's final, but he finished third.

        The extended Senate campaign in Georgia between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, football legend Herschel Walker, has grown increasingly bitter ahead as their Dec. 6 runoff nears. With Democrats already assured control of the Senate, it’s a striking contrast from two years ago, when the state’s twin Senate runoffs were mostly about which party would control the chamber in Washington. Warnock casts Walker as unqualified and unfit for office. Walker mocks Warnock as a hypocrite beholden to President Joe Biden. The broadsides reflect the candidates’ furious push in the four weeks between the Nov. 8 general election and runoff to persuade their supporters to cast another ballot.

          Georgia House Speaker David Ralston is being remembered as a powerful politician whose care for others transcended partisan boundaries. Hundreds gathered in the Republican’s hometown of Blue Ridge Sunday for Ralston's funeral after he died on Nov. 16 at age 68. Rep. Randy Nix of LaGrange says “people were more important” to Ralston than politics. Former Gov. Nathan Deal was among three other speakers who eulogized Ralston, calling him “a leader and a reliable friend.” Ralston was buried Sunday after the funeral in a private ceremony in nearby Ellijay. The lawyer became Georgia state government’s second most powerful leader during his 13 years as speaker.

            Iraq's prime minister says part of the staggering $2.5 billion in funds embezzled from the country's tax authority will be retrieved and that an investigation to recover the full amount is ongoing. Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said Sunday in a statement 182 billion Iraqi dinars, or $125 million, will be recovered through the seizure of properties and assets belonging to a well-connected businessman complicit in the fraud. The premier stressed the ongoing investigation would not spare anyone involved in the scheme. Officials say it’s unlikely that an embezzlement scheme of this scale could unfold without the knowledge of higher-ups.

              Protesters angered by strict anti-virus measures have called for China’s powerful leader to resign. That's an unprecedented rebuke. It came as authorities in at least eight cities struggled to suppress demonstrations Sunday that represent a rare direct challenge to the ruling Communist Party. Police using pepper spray drove away demonstrators in Shanghai who called for Xi Jinping to step down and an end to one-party rule. Hours later, people rallied again in the same spot. Police again broke up the demonstration, and a reporter saw protesters under arrest being driven away in a bus. The protests began Friday and have spread to cities including the capital, Beijing, and dozens of university campuses. They are the most widespread show of opposition to the ruling party in decades.

                Ever-widening access to the internet is offering a new opportunity for Cubans looking for hard-to-obtain basic goods: online shopping. Tens of thousands of people have starting buying and selling everything from chicken and milk to medicine and pregnancy tests on myriad apps that have provided digital access to the country's not-very-clandestine black market. Such unsanctioned transactions are a time-honored practice in crisis-stricken Cuba, where access to the most basic items has always been limited. Cuban national Ricardo Torres is an economics fellow at American University in Washington. He notes that the informal market used to be limited to neighbors and local communities. Now, he says, the internet provides shoppers and sellers with access to entire provinces.

                Connecticut lawmakers are set to discuss gasoline taxes, heating-bill help, pandemic pay for essential workers and other issues when they convene for a special legislative session on Monday. Gov. Ned Lamont has said he's calling the General Assembly into special session to help Connecticut residents cope with rising prices. Connecticut’s 25-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax is currently suspended through Nov. 30. The Democratic governor wants to keep the tax on hold until the end of the year, then start adding back five cents per month until hitting the prior 25-cent-per-gallon amount in May.

                Crisis response is one way to sum up Hawaii Gov. David Ige's eight years in office. He faced a volcanic eruption that destroyed 700 homes, protests blocking construction of a cutting-edge multibillion-dollar telescope and a false alert about an incoming ballistic missile. During the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism shut down and Hawaii’s unemployment rate soared above 22%. Ige will hand over leadership of the state to his successor, Lt. Gov. Josh Green, on Dec. 5. Ige says that the job can be stressful but it's the best one he could ever have because "what we do matters to people every single day."

                North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s daughter made a public appearance again, this time with missile scientists and more honorific titles as her father’s “most beloved” or “precious” child. She’s only about 10, but her new, bold photos released Sunday by state media are deepening the debate over whether she’s being primed as a successor. She took group photos with scientists and others involved in what the reports called the test-launch of its Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month. South Korea's spy service said last week that she is Kim’s second child, Ju Ae, who is approximately 10 years old.

                Pakistan's former premier Imran Khan says his party will quit all regional and national assemblies. Khan was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote in April and has mobilized mass rallies with claims that he was a victim of a conspiracy by his successor and the United States — allegations denied by both. On Saturday night, in the city of Rawalpindi near the capital Islamabad, the cricket hero made his first public appearance since surviving a gun attack at a protest on Nov. 3. He told the crowd his party is quitting national and regional assemblies and getting out of this "corrupt system.”

                Protests against China’s anti-virus controls that have confined millions of people to their homes spread to Shanghai and other cities after complaints the death toll in a fire in China’s northwest might have been worsened by the restrictions. A witness in Shanghai said police used pepper spray against about 300 protesters. They were gathered to mourn the deaths of at least 10 people in an apartment fire last week in Urumqi in the northwest. Videos on social media showed protesters in other cities including Nanjing in the east and Guangzhou in the south tussling with police. President Xi Jinping's government faces mounting anger at restrictions at a time when other countries are relaxing controls.

                Former President Donald Trump is drawing criticism for dining with a Holocaust-denying white nationalist and the rapper formerly known as Kanye West. The meeting came days after Trump launched his third campaign for the White House. Trump had dinner Tuesday evening at his Mar-a-Lago club with West, who is now known as Ye, as well as far-right activist Nick Fuentes, who has used his online platform to spew antisemitic and white nationalist rhetoric. Ye has also made a series of antisemitic comments in recent weeks. Trump says he gets along great with Ye and didn't know Fuentes or his views.

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                President Joe Biden has gone holiday shopping on the Massachusetts resort island where he spends Thanksgiving. He patronized smaller independently owned stores on what the retail industry has called “Small Business Saturday.” Biden, his wife, Jill, and daughter Ashley went from store to store on Main Street in downtown Nantucket, lingering at Polo Ralph Lauren, Murray’s Toggery Shop and The Black Dog, among other establishments. The president’s son Hunter and his wife, Melissa, were also shopping with their 2-year-old son, Beau. Biden emerged from The Black Dog holding a small brown paper shopping bag. The White House had no immediate comment on the president’s purchases.

                The Biden administration is easing some oil sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to support newly restarted negotiations between the Venezuelan government and its opposition. The Treasury Department is allowing Chevron to resume “limited” energy production in Venezuela after years of sanctions that have dramatically curtailed oil and gas profits that have flowed to President Nicolás Maduro’s government. Earlier this year the Treasury Department again allowed the California-based Chevron and other U.S. companies to perform basic upkeep of wells it operates jointly with state-run oil giant PDVSA. Under the new policy, profits from the sale of energy would be directed to paying down debt owed to Chevron, rather than providing profits to PDVSA.

                A report issued by the state of Arizona says drownings, child neglect and firearms contributed to an increase in child deaths in Arizona during 2021. That marked the state’s highest rate of child deaths in the last 10 years. The review released earlier this month by the state Child Fatality Review Program said Arizona’s child mortality rate increased by 4.7% from 51 deaths per 100,000 children in 2020 to 53.4 deaths per 100,000 children in 2021,  The Arizona Republic reported.  A total of 863 children died in Arizona last year, up from 838 the prior year.

                A federal judge has denied a request from a 19-year-old woman to allow her to watch her father’s death by injection. The decision upholds a Missouri law that bars anyone under 21 from witnessing an execution. Kevin Johnson is set to be executed Tuesday for killing Kirkwood, Missouri, Police Officer William McEntee in 2005. Johnson’s lawyers have appeals pending that seek to spare his life. His daughter, Khorry Ramey, had sought to attend the execution. The American Civil Liberties Union had filed an emergency motion with a federal court in Kansas City. But U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes ruled late Friday that Ramey’s constitutional rights would not be violated by the law.

                Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has resigned as head of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party following local election losses suffered by her party. Tsai offered her resignation on Saturday evening, a tradition after a major loss, in a short speech in which she also thanked supporters. She said she will shoulder the responsibility as she had hand-picked candidates in Saturday’s elections. Voters in Taiwan overwhelmingly chose the opposition Nationalist party in several major races across the self-ruled island. Chiang Wan-an, the Nationalist party’s mayoral candidate, won the closely watched seat in capital Taipei. Lingering concerns about threats from rival China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, took a backseat to more local issues.

                State-level law enforcement units created after the 2020 presidential election to investigate voter fraud are looking into scattered complaints more than two weeks after the midterms but have provided no indication of systemic problems. That’s just what election experts had expected and led critics to suggest that the new units were more about politics than rooting out widespread abuses. Most election-related fraud cases already are investigated and prosecuted at the local level. The absence of widespread fraud is important because the lies surrounding the 2020 election spread by former President Donald Trump and his allies have penetrated deeply into the Republican Party and eroded trust in elections.

                World Cup host Qatar sits in a region that is warming faster than anywhere else on earth besides the Arctic. The wealthy Gulf Arab nation has been able to pay for extreme adaptive measures so far like outdoor air-conditioning to mitigate the effects of rising temperatures in some areas. Qatar has inched forward in recent years with climate pledges. But the transition away from hydrocarbons will not be simple for one of the world's largest producers and exporters of natural gas.

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