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A Yaqui Indigenous family walks past the cemetery where slain water-defense leader Tomás Rojo is buried, outside a church where they arrive to celebrate the Virgin Mary in Potam, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Mexico has become the deadliest place in the world for environmental and land defense activists, and the Yaqui Indigenous people of northern Mexico are still mourning the killing of Rojo in June 2021. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

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A rare state funeral for Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister who was assassinated in July, has split Japan. The hawkish Abe was one of the nation’s most divisive postwar leaders, but it is the ruling party’s cozy ties with the ultra-conservative Unification Church that has fired up much of the opposition to the funeral on Tuesday. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is battling a near-continuous political fallout from his handling of both the links to the church among his party’s lawmakers and the state funeral he says Abe deserves.

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is under investigation for using a state-owned airplane to fly to political events and bring family members with her on trips. But the decision on whether to prosecute the Republican governor likely hinges on how a county prosecutor interprets an untested law that was passed by voters in 2006. State law allows the aircraft only to be used “in the conduct of state business.” But Noem attended events hosted by political organizations. State plane logs also show that Noem often had family members join her on in-state flights in 2019. It blurred the lines between official travel and attending family events, including her son’s prom and her daughter’s wedding.

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Relatives say two U.S. military veterans who were captured while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces are among 10 people released by Russian-backed separatists in a prisoner exchange. Five British nationals were also among those freed following talks mediated by Saudi Arabia. The families of 39-year-old Alex Drueke and 27-year-old Andy Huynh announced their release Wednesday. The two men went to help Ukrainian forces and became friends because both are from Alabama. They went missing after their unit came under heavy fire in northeastern Ukraine on June 9. Also freed was British national Aiden Aslin, who had been sentenced to death after he was captured in eastern Ukraine.

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FILE - British citizen Aiden Aslin stands behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk, in the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine, on June 9, 2022. 10 prisoners, including Aslin and two U.S. military veterans, were released by Russian-backed separatists as part of a prisoner exchange mediated by Saudi Arabia, officials said Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. (AP Photo, File)

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A group of Republican attorneys general are pushing the major payment networks _ Visa, Mastercard and American Express _ to drop their plans to start tracking sales at gun stores, arguing the plans could infringe on consumer privacy and push legal gun sales out of the mainstream financial network. The letter comes more than a week after the payment networks said they would adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant code for sales at gun stores. The Second Amendment lobby and its advocates have argued that the merchant code would do a poor job of tracking potential red flags and could unfairly flag legal gun purchases.

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Movie director Adam McKay is donating $4 million to fund activists engaged in the climate fight. The donation McKay plans to announce Tuesday isn't his first foray into urging action on climate change. His 2021 film “Don't Look Up" is a political satire about political leaders' failure to take seriously a planet-destroying comet hurtling toward Earth. His donation marks the largest ever to the Climate Emergency Fund. The group started in 2019 to provide money for activist campaigns engaged in disruptive, nonviolent protest urging swifter action on climate change.

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A U.S. aircraft carrier is to visit South Korea this week for its first joint training with South Korean warships in five years in an apparent show of force against increasing North Korean nuclear threats. South Korea's navy says the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and its battle group will arrive at a South Korean naval base on Friday for a combined training meant to boost military readiness by the allies. Its arrival comes after North Korea recently passed a new law designed to authorize the preemptive use of nuclear weapons.

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Vanessa Nakate’s climate activism over the past three years has propelled her to the world stage as UNICEF's newest goodwill ambassador. Since 2019, she has worked to amplify the voices of African climate activists and spearheaded initiatives to stop deforestation and install solar panels on buildings in remote areas of her home country Uganda. But she says it's not enough to save the planet or save people in the global south who greatly suffer the effects of the climate crisis. Nakate says global leaders need to do more to acknowledge the impact of climate change on those who are most often left out of the conversation.