AP News Summary at 5:46 p.m. EDT

Florida, Texas escalate flights, buses to move migrants

EDGARTOWN, Mass. (AP) — Republican governors are escalating their practice of sending migrants without advance warning to Democratic strongholds including a wealthy summer enclave in Massachusetts and the home of Vice President Kamala Harris. They are taunting leaders of immigrant-friendly “sanctuary” cities and highlighting their opposition to Biden administration border policies. The governors of Texas and Arizona have sent thousands of migrants on buses to New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., in recent months. But the latest surprise moves – which included two flights to Martha’s Vineyard Wednesday paid for by Florida’s governor – were derided by critics as inhumane political theater.

Griner, Whelan families to meet Biden amid US-Russia talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden plans to meet at the White House on Friday with the families of WNBA star Brittney Griner and Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan, both of whom remain jailed in Russia. The meetings are to be the first in-person encounter between Biden and the families and come amid sustained but so far unsuccessful efforts by the administration to secure the two Americans’ release. The administration said in July that it had made a “substantial proposal” to get them home, but Russia has not yet settled on a deal with the U.S.

Biden approval rises sharply ahead of midterms: AP-NORC poll

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s popularity has improved substantially from his lowest point this summer, but concerns about his handling of the economy persist. That’s according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Support for Biden recovered from a low of 36% in July to 45%, driven in large part by a rebound in support from Democrats just two months before the November midterm elections. The economy continues to be a weakness for Biden, with just 38% approving of his economic leadership as the country faces stubbornly high inflation and Republicans try to make household finances the axis of the upcoming midterms.

Rail workers win key concessions in deal to prevent strike

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Railroad workers secured a deal that will deliver 24% raises and $5,000 bonuses over five years, but it will also address some of their concerns about strict attendance rules and time off. The deal that’s retroactive to 2020 will give railroaders the biggest raises they’ve seen in more than four decades with 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses over five years. But the concessions related to working conditions may prove more important. Railroad workers will now be able to take unpaid days off for doctor’s appointments without being penalized. The 12 unions that had been bargaining with the nation’s biggest railroads represent some 115,000 workers. A rail strike could have been devastating to the economy.

‘Torment of hell’: Ukraine medic describes Russian torture

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Ukrainian volunteer medic captured by Russian forces during their deadly siege of the port city of Mariupol has told U.S. lawmakers how Russians routinely tortured her and other prisoners, killing many. Yuliia Paievska spoke Thursday to the Helsinki Commission, which promotes international compliance with human rights. Paievska told of fellow Ukrainian prisoners screaming in pain for weeks from the torture before dying. She said a 7-year-old boy died in her lap because she had none of the medical gear needed to treat him. Her care of the wounded during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war drew global attention after her bodycam footage was provided to The Associated Press.

Putin thanks China’s Xi for his ‘balanced’ stand on Ukraine

SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked Chinese leader Xi Jinping for his “balanced” approach to the Ukrainian crisis and blasted Washington’s “ugly” policies at a meeting that followed a major setback for Moscow in the war. Putin and Xi met in Uzbekistan on the sidelines of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Speaking at the start of talks with Xi in Uzbekistan, Putin said he was ready to discuss unspecified “concerns” by China about Ukraine. A Chinese government statement after the meeting didn’t specifically mention Ukraine, but said Xi promised “strong support” to Russia’s “core interests.” Beijing uses “core interests” to describe issues such as national sovereignty and the ruling Communist Party’s claim to Taiwan.

London mourners brave 9-hour wait to say goodbye to queen

LONDON (AP) — Thousands of mourners are waiting for up to nine hours in line to file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as she lies in state at Westminster Hall. The queue to pay respects to the late monarch stretched for almost 5 miles (8 kilometers) past Tower Bridge on Thursday. But those in it said the nine-hour wait was worth it and authorities provided amenities like portable toilets to ease their wait. King Charles III is spending the day in “private reflection” a week after his mother died a week ago at age 96. Buckingham Palace also released details of plans for the queen’s funeral on Monday. It will be the first state funeral held in Britain since the 1965 death of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

House OKs bill to curb political interference with census

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has passed legislation on a party-line vote that aims to make it harder for future presidents to interfere in the once-a-decade headcount that determines political power and federal funding. The bill is a Democrat-led response to the Trump’s administration’s failed efforts to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Republicans overwhelmingly opposed the bill, saying it places more power in the hands of unelected bureaucrats, reducing accountability. The 2020 census was one of the most challenging in recent memory because of the attempts at political interference, the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.

Montana defies order on transgender birth certificates

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Just hours after a Montana judge blocked health officials from enforcing a state rule that would prevent transgender people from changing the gender on their birth certificate, the state said it would defy the order. District Court Judge Michael Moses chided attorneys for the state on Thursday over the rule. He said it circumvented his April order that temporarily blocked a 2021 Montana law that made it harder to change birth certificates. The director of the health department issued a statement Thursday afternoon that it was keeping its new rule in place and would not be processing applications for birth certificate changes.

EXPLAINER: Ethereum is ditching its ‘miners.’ Why?

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A major software change to the cryptocurrency ethereum holds the potential to dramatically reduce its energy consumption and resulting climate effects. Ethereum — the world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency after bitcoin — has effectively eliminated the energy-intensive task of “mining” new coins on the ethereum blockchain. Mining requires enormous computing power, which translates to huge energy consumption and, in many areas, greater greenhouse gas emissions. By itself, however, the ethereum change won’t eliminate crypto’s expected environmental impact. Backers of bitcoin, for instance, have shown little interest in doing away with mining, fearing that the alternative could open the door to government regulation and control.