AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Florida again the epicenter of nation’s polarizing politics

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is emerging as an epicenter of the nation’s polarizing politics in the final days of the 2018 campaign.

In the closely contested campaign for governor, President Donald Trump and GOP nominee Ron DeSantis have used what has been called racially coded language to slam Democrat Andrew Gillum. The battles for the governor’s mansion and a key U.S. Senate seat are playing out in communities still recovering from a killer hurricane and one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.

Virtually every hot-button cultural issue tearing at the nation — including guns, race and the environment — is unfolding in a deeply personal way here.

That’s a sharp change in a state where elections notoriously come down to the wire. Politicians in both parties traditionally focus on winning over moderate voters, especially those living along Interstate 4 in the shadow of Disney World, to eke out a win. Not so in the Trump era as each side scrambles to mobilize its strongest supporters.

“This election is truly a choice between results and resistance,” Trump told a crowd during a rally in southwest Florida. “This is really an election between greatness and gridlock.”

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Trump vs. Obama in the final weekend of the midterms

WASHINGTON (AP) — Feuding from a distance, President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama exchanged tough words Friday as they sought to rally their parties’ base voters in the final days before the midterm elections.

Obama urged Democrats in Miami to turn against “a politics based on division” and expressed hope that “we will cut through the lies, block out the noise and remember who we are called to be.” Trump said in West Virginia he watched Obama’s speech aboard Air Force One, reminding some of his most loyal supporters of what he called Obama’s broken promises on health care, the freedom of the press and global trade.

“Lie after lie, broken promise after broken promise, that’s what he did,” Trump said during an outdoor rally in Huntington, West Virginia.

The competing campaign rallies, including Friday evening events in Georgia and Indiana, placed Trump in a virtual split-screen moment with Obama and set the stage for weekend campaign events for both party heavyweights.

Trump covets the Senate seats held by Democrats Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, two states that the president won handily in 2016. Democrats, meanwhile, could make history by electing black governors in Florida and Georgia, and are turning to the nation’s first black president to help make their case.

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Caravan migrants get buses, plan to leapfrog to Mexico City

DONAJI, Mexico (AP) — After three grueling weeks walking along highways and hitching rides in pickups and flatbed trucks, thousands of Central American migrants traveling in a caravan through southern Mexico learned Friday that they would soon be leapfrogging ahead to the nation’s capital in buses.

As the caravan crossed into the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, Gov. Miguel Angel Yunes announced that authorities there would be providing not only humanitarian assistance but also offering mass transportation for the migrants.

“It is very important that they be able to move soon from Veracruz toward another place,” Yunes said in a video message released in the evening. “For that reason, we also offered them transportation so that, if possible, tomorrow … they may be able to go to Mexico City or to the place they wish.”

During an evening assembly, caravan organizers told the migrants that they would be leaving around 5 a.m. for the capital in dozens of buses, apparently enough to accommodate the several thousand people in the group.

“We are all going!” one the coordinators told the group.

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Police: 3 dead, including shooter, at Florida yoga studio

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A gunman killed two people and wounded five others at a yoga studio in Florida’s capital before killing himself Friday evening, officials said.

Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo told reporters Friday night that the man shot six people and pistol-whipped another after walking into the studio, which is part of a small Tallahassee shopping center.

The suspect then fatally shot himself, DeLeo said. Authorities have not identified the shooter or the victims. The conditions of the other victims are unclear.

DeLeo said police are asking for anyone who saw something unusual around the time of the shooting to contact police. He said the shooter acted alone and authorities are investigating possible motives. He declined to say what kind of gun the shooter had.

“We’re all very saddened and shocked by the events that occurred, but it’s important that people understand that there is no immediate threat outside of what has already occurred this evening,” DeLeo said.

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New York police: Saudi sisters spoke of harming themselves

NEW YORK (AP) — Two immigrant sisters from Saudi Arabia whose bodies washed up on the New York City waterfront, bound together with duct tape, had told people that they would rather harm themselves than go back to their home country, investigators said Friday.

The bodies of Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 23, were discovered Oct. 24 near the Hudson River, two months after they were last seen in Fairfax, Virginia, where they had been living in a shelter amid allegations that they were abused at home.

Police said the sisters had been in Manhattan since Sept. 1, staying at expensive hotels and ordering in pairs of meals until a credit card they were using maxed out. A jogger said he saw them praying at a playground near the river, sitting about 30 feet (9 meters) apart with their heads in their hands, hours before their bodies were found, police said.

New York City Police Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said people who knew the Farea sisters in Virginia told investigators that they made statements within the last year indicating “that they would rather inflict harm on themselves — commit suicide — than return to Saudi Arabia.”

Shea stopped short of saying that the sisters had killed themselves but said police have “no credible information that any crime took place.” The medical examiner has yet to rule on their death and the case remains under investigation, he said.

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Trump rallies for 2018 Republicans _ with an eye toward 2020

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — President Donald Trump campaigned back-to-back Friday as he launched a feverish push to help elect Republicans in next week’s voting — but he also looked ahead to facing off against “one of the lefties” he expects to challenge his re-election effort in 2020.

Trump opened a rally at an Indianapolis high school by highlighting the news from earlier Friday that the economy had added another 250,000 jobs in October. He also talked about the low unemployment rate.

“More Americans are working right now, today, in this country, than have ever worked in this country before,” Trump said. “That’s going to be fun on the debate stage when we debate one of the lefties. And they’re going to be saying what a good job they’re going to do by raising your taxes. … You know, I think we’re going to win that debate.”

He didn’t name any of the Democrats who are thought to be considering challenging Trump in two years, but at past rallies the president has singled out such Democrats as Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for criticism.

Trump came to Indiana to campaign for Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun, a former state representative and businessman who is putting up a stiff challenge to Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly.

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Congregations attacked at synagogue to hold joint service

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The three congregations attacked at a Pittsburgh synagogue will gather for a joint service Saturday, while a prayer vigil is planned outside their desecrated worship space to mark the time the massacre began one week earlier.

Meanwhile, Friday brought the end of a wrenching series of funerals as the oldest victim, 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, was laid to rest.

“We will reopen, but it will not be for quite a while,” Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said Friday morning, as he prepared for the last funeral service. Myers himself survived the attack that began just as Shabbat services got underway. In the end, 11 people were gunned down in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Mallinger’s daughter attended her mother’s funeral at Rodef Shalom synagogue, accompanied by a nurse, Rabbi Aaron Bisno said. The 61-year-old daughter had been hospitalized since the massacre Saturday at the Tree of Life synagogue. Bisno didn’t know if she returned to the hospital after the funeral.

The suspect, Robert Bowers, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal hate crime charges that accuse him of killing 11 people and injuring six others as they tried to practice their religion. He could face the death penalty.

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US economy looks strong heading into congressional elections

WASHINGTON (AP) — For a U.S. economic expansion now in its 10th year, hiring remains robust, growth has picked up and the outlook is a mostly bright one on the eve of congressional elections. 

On Friday, the government reported that employers added a strong 250,000 jobs in October and that the unemployment rate remained 3.7 percent, the lowest level in nearly 50 years. Pay also rose at a healthy pace. Consumers are confident, spending freely, fueling brisk economic growth and encouraging employers to keep hiring.

“Unemployment at 3.7%. Wages UP!” President Donald Trump tweeted Friday morning. “These are incredible numbers. Keep it going, Vote Republican!”

Yet one surprising element of the midterm campaign season has been how little the sunny economic picture appears to be benefiting Trump and Republican congressional candidates. Polls show that while voters broadly approve of the economy, they give low ratings to Trump himself. Many appear motivated by non-economic factors. And nationally, voters prefer Democrats to Republicans in elections for the House, according to surveys of voters’ generic preferences.

Here are five gauges of the U.S. economy as Election Day nears:

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Time on retreat this weekend in US with standard time return

WASHINGTON (AP) — Time marches ahead, usually. It’s in retreat this weekend in the United States.

At 2 a.m. local time Sunday, daylight saving time is ending, and standard time returns for most people across the country. It means an extra hour of sleep, perchance to dream, for one night.

The shift means it’s lighter earlier in the morning, and darkness comes sooner in the evening.

Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and most of Arizona don’t observe daylight saving time, so no need to change the clocks in those places.

Daylight saving time returns at 2 a.m. local time on Sunday, March 10, 2019.

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No. 1 Alabama expects toughest test yet at No. 4 LSU

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — As quarterback sensation Tua Tagovailoa tries to envision what awaits him and top-ranked Alabama at LSU’s Tiger Stadium, he could use recent history as a guide.

Even during this decade of dominance, the Crimson Tide hasn’t so much thrived as survived at deafening Death Valley, where a crowd exceeding 102,000 is expected for the historical rivals’ 83rd meeting on Saturday night.

T.J. Yeldon’s last-minute touchdown on a screen lifted Alabama to a dramatic, comeback win in 2012. LSU appeared to have the 2014 game in Tiger Stadium locked up, but a personal foul pushed the Tigers back as they neared a game-sealing score. They wound up missing a field goal, and Alabama responded with a tying kick to set up its overtime triumph . In 2016, it took a 21-yard scramble by Jalen Hurts to break a scoreless tie in the fourth quarter.

Odds makers apparently expect the Tide to have it easier this time, listing Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC, No. CFP) as a two-touchdown favorite at No. 4 LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC, No. 3 CFP).

Tagovailoa has been that good , passing for 2,066 yards and 25 touchdowns without an interception despite taking fewer than 60 percent of Alabama’s offensive snaps.

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