AP News Summary at 6:57 p.m. EDT | National

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‘Our world is in peril’: At UN, leaders push for solutions

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The world’s problems are seizing the spotlight as the U.N. General Assembly’s yearly meeting of world leaders opens. It began Tuesday with dire assessments of a planet beset by escalating crises and conflicts that an aging international order seems increasingly ill-equipped to tackle. U.N.  Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world is “gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction.” He and others pointed to conflicts ranging from Russia’s six-month-old war in Ukraine to the decades-long dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. Speakers worried about a changing climate, spiking fuel prices, food shortages, economic inequality, migration, disinformation, discrimination, hate speech, public health and more.

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.

Feds: 47 exploited pandemic to steal $250M from food program

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Federal authorities have charged 47 people in what they’re calling the largest fraud scheme yet to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by stealing and defrauding 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.

Fiona swipes Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico faces big cleanup

CAYEY, 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 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.

Arbiter in Trump docs probe signals intent to move quickly

WASHINGTON (AP) — The independent arbiter tasked with inspecting documents seized in an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home says he intends to push briskly through the review process. Raymond Dearie, the veteran Brooklyn-based judge, also appeared skeptical of the Trump team’s reluctance to say whether it believed the records had been declassified. The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to sort out next steps in a review process expected to slow by weeks, if not months, the criminal investigation into the retention of top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House.

NTSB wants all new vehicles to check drivers for alcohol use

DETROIT (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all new vehicles in the U.S. be equipped with blood alcohol monitoring systems that can stop an intoxicated person from driving.  The recommendation, if enacted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, could reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes, one of the biggest causes of highway deaths in the U.S. The new push to make roads safer was included in a report released Tuesday about a horrific crash last year in which a drunk driver’s SUV collided head-on with a pickup truck near Fresno, California, killing both adult drivers and seven children.

‘Serial’ host: Evidence that freed Syed was long available

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 conviction and allowed him to walk out of court after more than two decades. 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.

FDA concedes delays in response to baby formula shortage

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health regulators say their response to the ongoing infant formula shortage was slowed by delays in processing a whistleblower complaint and test samples from the nation’s largest formula factory. The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday published its first formal report detailing the factors that led to the shortage, which has forced the U.S. government to import formula from overseas. The report highlights several key problems at the regulatory agency. Those include unclear procedures for vetting whistleblower complaints about company violations. The agency also says it needs more funding and authority to regulate food manufacturers.

Mexico’s earthquake coincidence drives anxiety for many

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The parents of children killed when a school collapsed during Mexico’s 2017 earthquake were celebrating a Mass in their memory, And then the ground began to shake again, as people cried out: “No, not again! My God, not again!” In the end, the magnitude 7.6 quake caused relatively little damage in the capital on Monday, though it killed two in the Pacific coast state of Colima. Three powerful earthquakes have struck Mexico on Sept. 19 — in 1985, 2017 and 2022. That unlucky coincidence has made many feel the date is somehow cursed, though scientists say it’s purely coincidence.

Celebrities coming back to White House after Trump drought

WASHINGTON (AP) — Big-name celebrities are coming back to the White House after boycotting America’s most famous address under Donald Trump. Rocker Elton John is bringing his farewell tour to the South Lawn on Friday at the invitation of President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden. Singer James Taylor strummed his guitar and sang at the White House last week to open an event celebrating a new health care and climate change law. Younger pop stars like singer Olivia Rodrigo and South Korean boy band BTS have visited. And Biden has resumed the tradition of hosting a White House reception for the artists receiving honors from the Kennedy Center.

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