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We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Midterm election results evade expected "red wave"

The midterm elections were widely expected to be a red wave, with Republicans sweeping the House of Representatives and maybe even the Senate. Instead, as votes are still coming in, the GOP will be lucky to pick up enough House seats to win a majority, and its Senate prospects aren’t looking good either.

The opposition party typically does well in midterm years, meaning that Democrats are feeling relieved. However, we won’t know which party controls the Senate for at least another few weeks. Among the key Senate races, Republican J.D. Vance won in Ohio, while Democrat John Fetterman won in Pennsylvania. Votes are still being counted in key Senate races in Arizona and Nevada, and Georgia’s U.S. Senate candidates will go to a runoff.

Abortion also appeared to be a galvanizing issue in the election, with pro-abortion initiatives winning in several states. California, Vermont, and Michigan enshrined the right to abortion in their state constitutions, and Kentucky rejected proposals to restrict abortion. Montana voters said no to a ballot initiative requiring medical care for infants born alive after an attempted abortion.

In gubernatorial races, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and New York Governor Kathy Hochul notably won their bids for reelection.

Tuesday night was also seen even by many Republicans as a repudiation of former President Donald Trump, as his hand-picked candidates failed in race after race, possibly costing the GOP congressional power. Trump responded by attacking DeSantis, now considered a frontrunner for the Republican presidential primary, as we move to the 2024 election season. —Madeline Fry Schultz

Under Elon Musk’s leadership, Twitter drama continues

Elon Musk finalized his purchase of Twitter last month, marking the beginning of his leadership by branding himself “chief twit” and posting a video of himself carrying a sink into Twitter HQ with the caption, “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” And things have just gotten weirder from there.

Musk immediately fired top executives at the social media site and has since laid off some 7,500 employees — half of Twitter’s workforce. Musk is also floating the idea of requiring that users pay $8/month for their blue check marks, which are currently free.

This new system, called Twitter Blue, would also prioritize users' tweets in their followers' timelines. The rollout has caused chaos, as users have used their blue checkmarks to impersonate famous figures and even troll Musk himself.

Vox reports: “Now, Musk has removed any kind of ID verification from Twitter Blue. That means anyone who pays $8 a month can pretend to be someone else, with a checkmark next to their name. That’s caused major trolling, with some Twitter Blue accounts impersonating famous people like LeBron James, George W. Bush, and even Mario, the Nintendo character. Many of the new fake accounts use realistic profile photos, names, and handles, and have a checkmark next to their name, so it’s hard to tell who’s real or who’s fake.”

“Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months,” Musk tweeted in response to another feature he rolled out before quickly ending it. “We will keep what works & change what doesn’t.” —MFS

The Astros win the World Series

The Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, marking their first World Series win since the team cheated its way to victory in 2017. This year, the Astros beat the Phillies 4-1 in Game 6, clinching the victory after winning four games.

“Winning a second title does not change history, but it helps isolate the cheating scandal as a one-time event, as far as people know, and not a crutch on which Houston rested its only title,” the New York Times notes. “For some neutral observers, it banishes the dark clouds for good.”

The Philadelphia Phillies, who have not won a World Series title since 2008, won the first and third games in the series. The Astros turned their luck around in Game 4, shutting out the Phillies with the World Series’ first no-hitter since 1956. This is the third time the Astros have played in a world series since the cheating scandal, with the team losing to the Washington Nationals in 2019 and Atlanta Braves in 2021.

The day the Astros clinched their first unimpeachable win wasn’t just a good day for the team and its fans. Amid Astros fans' celebrations after the World Series win, shortstop Carlos Correa proposed to his girlfriend. “Correa said he wanted to propose to his girlfriend, Miss Texas USA Daniella Rodriguez, sooner, but he was patiently waiting, hoping he could do it on a national stage,” the Houston Chronicle reports. “During a national interview with Fox's Ken Rosenthal, Correa got down on one knee beside Rodriguez and said, ‘Daniella Rodriguez, will you make me the happiest man in the world? Will you marry me?’” (She said yes.) —MFS

Pop singer Aaron Carter dies at 34

Pop singer Aaron Carter died in his home in Lancaster, California, on November 5, after being found unresponsive in a bathtub. He was 34 years old. No cause has been given for his death.

Carter released his first pop album in 1997 and soon became a teenage heartthrob with the release of hits such as “I Want Candy” and “I’m All About You.” Carter made appearances on TV shows, including Lizzie McGuire and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Carter is the younger brother of Nick Carter, a member of the Backstreet Boys, and the brothers appeared together on the reality TV series House of Carters alongside the rest of their family in 2006.

Carter's life was filled with instability and addiction and was highly publicized and criticized in pop-culture media. Family’s struggles, fights, and legal battles have long been media fodder. Over the last several years, Carter has been open about his mental health struggles and drug addiction and recently said he was five years sober.

Carter is survived by his mom, his brother Nick, two sisters, his fiance Melanie Martin, and his infant son Prince. He was predeceased by his sister Leslie Carter and his father.

The day after Carter’s death, his brother Nick Carter released a statement on Instagram expressing his grief. "My heart has been broken today," Nick wrote. "Even though my brother and I have had a complicated relationship, my love for him has never ever faded. I have always held onto the hope, that he would somehow, someday want to walk a healthy path and eventually find the help that he so desperately needed." That evening, the Backstreet Boys paid tribute to Aaron onstage during a concert, and Nick appeared to be in tears.

Many other celebrities paid tribute to Carter, including his former girlfriend, Hillary Duff. “For Aaron—I’m deeply sorry that life was so hard for you and that you had to struggle in-front of the whole world,” Duff, 35, wrote in an Instagram statement. “You had a charm that was absolutely effervescent... boy did my teenage self love you deeply.”

After his death, media reports emerged that Carter’s unfinished memoir would be released on November 15. Duff publicly criticized the publishing company’s choice to release the book so soon after Carter's death.

“It’s really sad that within a week of Aaron’s death, there’s a publisher that seems to be recklessly pushing a book out to capitalize on this tragedy without taking appropriate time or care to fact check the validity of his work,” she said. Carter’s rep thanked Duff for her statement saying that this is a time for “mourning” not “heartless money grabs.” The publisher has since delayed the release of the memoir. —Gabriella Patti

Jennifer Aniston opens up about years of trying to get pregnant

In a candid interview with Allure magazine, Friends actress Jennifer Aniston opened up about her failed attempts to get pregnant and struggles with IVF.

In the interview, Aniston, 53, discussed how the constant media narrative surrounding her childlessness was hurtful and untrue. Aniston said the media branded her as selfish, speculating that she only cared about her career, and that children would get in the way of her goals. She also addressed rumors that her marriage to filmmaker and actor Justin Theroux ended in 2018 because she “wouldn’t give him a kid,” saying that was simply not the case.

“All the years and years and years of speculation . . . It was really hard,” Aniston said. “I was going through IVF, drinking Chinese teas, you name it. I was throwing everything at it. . . . The ship has sailed.”

Despite her difficulty conceiving, Aniston says she has made peace with it. “I actually feel a little relief now because there is no more, ‘Can I? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.’ I don’t have to think about that anymore.”

Aniston said that she feels like she is emerging from a difficult period of life, but she is “a constant work in progress.”

“I’ve realized you will always be working on stuff,” Aniston said. “I am a constant work in progress. Thank God. How uninteresting would life be if we all achieved enlightenment and that was it?” —GP

Good News of the Week

Russian Troops Retreat from the Ukrainian City of Kherson

After eight months of Russian occupation, the Ukrainian port city of Kherson, a regional capital, is now free, as Russia announced that they would begin withdrawing troops on Wednesday, November 9. This marks a significant win for Ukraine and a massive blow for Russia, as Kherson was one of the four regions illegally annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in September. At the time of annexation, Putin said that Ukrainians in Kherson and the other three regions “are becoming our citizens forever.”

General Sergei Surovikin, Russia’s commander in Ukraine, said that Russian troops had to withdraw from the region because it had become impossible to keep supplying the city.

The last Russian troops withdrew on Friday, and Ukrainian soldiers flooded into the city to help restore the city’s infrastructure and utilities. Many citizens took to the streets to celebrate; however, many were still reeling from the abuse, suffering and fear they had faced under Russian occupation. Some residents are still searching for family members arrested by the Russian troops and never returned.

“Life under occupation was horrible,” Kherson resident Tetiana Fomina told the Washington Post. “It was like living in a concentration camp. We were never free. The Russians had guns on them, and you never knew when they would come to get you.”

Ukraine has increasingly gained the upper hand in the war, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he is open to negotiations with Russia. However, Zelenskyy noted that the Kremlin would have to agree to the “restoration of territorial integrity, respect for the U.N. Charter, compensation for all damages caused by the war, punishment of every war criminal and guarantees that this will not happen again.”

Ukrainian prosecutors have documented more than 400 war crimes committed by Russian troops, and Ukrainian soldiers continue to liberate occupied towns and cities around Ukraine.

On Monday, Zelenskyy visited Kherson and called the city’s liberation "the beginning of the end of the war." —GP

Watch of the Week

Let's remember a bright moment from Aaron Carter's life in 2009, when he danced a perfect jive on Dancing With the Stars, to the tune of "We're Not Going To Take It"—and let that anthem be a rebellion from whatever tempts to neglect our mental health.