4 Ukrainian regions schedule votes this week to join Russia
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The separatist leaders of four Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine say they are planning to hold referendums this week for the territories to become part of Russia as Moscow loses ground in the war it launched. The votes will be held in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. The announcement of the balloting starting Friday came after a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that they were needed. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also said that folding Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine into Russia itself would make their redrawn frontiers “irreversible” and enable Moscow to use “any means” to defend them.
UN chief: World is ‘paralyzed’ and equity is slipping away
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — In an alarming assessment, the head of the United Nations is telling world leaders that nations are “gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction” and aren’t ready or willing to tackle major challenges. Speaking at the opening of the General Assembly’s annual high-level meeting, Antonio Guterres pointed to the war in Ukraine and multiplying conflicts around the world, the climate emergency and “suicidal war against nature,” the dire financial situation of developing countries, and many reversals in U.N. goals for 2030 including to end extreme poverty and provide quality education for all children.
Fiona wallops Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico still stunned
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hurricane Fiona is blasting the Turks and Caicos Islands as a Category 3 storm after devastating Puerto Rico, where most people remain without electricity or running water. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm’s eye passed close to Grand Turk, the British territory’s capital island. The government had imposed a curfew and urged people to flee flood-prone areas. The storm could raise seas by 5 to 8 feet above normal. Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and was moving north-northwest at 9 mph early Tuesday. The Hurricane Center says the storm is likely to strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches Bermuda on Friday.
Trump legal team balks at judge’s declassification questions
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s legal team has told a special arbiter it doesn’t want to answer questions about the declassification status of documents seized from the Trump’s Florida home. It says that issue could be part of Trump’s defense if he’s indicted. Lawyers for Trump and for the Justice Department are to appear in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday before the arbiter to review the roughly 11,000 documents — including about 100 marked as classified — taken during the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago. Trump’s lawyers also asked a federal appeals court to leave in place an order that temporarily barred the Justice Department from using the classified documents in its criminal investigation.
‘Serial’ host: Evidence that freed Syed was long available
BALTIMORE (AP) — The creator of a true-crime podcast that helped free a Maryland man imprisoned for murder said that she feels a mix of emotions over how long it took authorities to act on evidence that’s long been available. Podcast host Sarah Koenig released a new episode of “Serial” on Tuesday, a day after a judge vacated Adnan Syed’s 2000 conviction and allowed him to walk out of court. Koenig noted that all of the evidence cited in prosecutors’ motion to overturn the conviction was available since 1999. She argued that the case against Syed involved “just about every chronic problem” in the system.
Ad spending shows Dems hinging midterm hopes on abortion
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are pumping an unprecedented amount of money into advertising related to abortion rights. The spending underscores how central the message is to the party in the final weeks before midterm elections. The most intense period of campaigning is only just beginning, and Democrats have already invested more than an estimated $124 million this year in television advertising referencing abortion. That’s twice as much money as the Democrats’ next top issue and almost 20 times more than Democrats spent on abortion-related ads in the 2018 midterms. The spending figures are based on an Associated Press analysis of data provided by the nonpartisan research firm AdImpact.
Officials: 6 injured in Chicago apartment building explosion
CHICAGO (AP) — Officials say at least six people were rushed to hospitals after being injured when an explosion Tuesday tore through the top floor of a Chicago apartment building. The explosion at the four-story, 36-unit apartment building occurred shortly before 9:30 a.m., officials said. At least 10 ambulances were on the scene, according to the Chicago Fire Department. The department requested help searching the structure. No cause of the explosion had been determined. The department said in a series of tweets that the Chicago police bomb squad and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on their way as well.
Feds: Minnesota food scheme stole $250M; 47 people charged
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Federal authorities have charged 47 people in what they say was a massive scheme to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and defraud the government of $250 million. Documents made public Tuesday charge the defendants with counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and bribery. Prosecutors say the defendants created companies that claimed to be offering food to thousands of low-income children across Minnesota, then sought reimbursement through a federal program. But prosecutors say few meals were actually served, and the defendants used the money to buy luxury cars, property and jewelry. This year, the U.S. Justice Department has made prosecuting pandemic-related fraud a priority and has stepped up enforcement actions.
With Griner in jail, WNBA players skip Russia in offseason
SYDNEY (AP) — Top WNBA players are finding other places to compete this winter, not wanting to go back to Russia after the arrest and conviction of Brittney Griner on drug possession charges and the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones are going to Turkey. Courtney Vandersloot is headed to Hungary. All three were part of the same Russian super team as Griner. That club won five EuroLeague titles in the past eight seasons and has been dominant for nearly two decades with former greats DeLisha Milton Jones and Diana Taurasi playing there. Nearly a dozen WNBA players competed in Russia last winter and none are heading back in the upcoming WNBA offseason.
With ceremonies over, King Charles III faces biggest task
LONDON (AP) — The cannons have sounded; the bells have rung; the mourners have paid their respects. Now King Charles III faces the task of preserving a 1,000-year-old monarchy that his mother nurtured for seven decades but that faces an uncertain future. The challenge is immense. Personal affection for the queen meant that the monarchy’s role in British society was rarely debated in recent years. But now that she’s gone, the royal family faces questions about whether it is still relevant in a modern, multi-cultural nation that looks very different than it did when Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952.
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