AP News Summary at 9:47 a.m. EDT | National

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4 Ukrainian separatist regions plan votes to join Russia

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The separatist leaders of four Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine say they are planning to hold votes starting later this week for the territories to become part of Russia as Moscow loses ground in the war it launched. The four regions are Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia. The announcements of referendums 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 warns global leaders: The world is in ‘great peril’

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — In an alarming assessment, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told world leaders Tuesday that nations are “gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction” and aren’t ready or willing to tackle the major challenges that threaten the future of humanity and the fate of the planet. Speaking at the opening of the General Assembly’s annual top-level meeting, the U.N. chief pointed to the war in Ukraine, multiplying conflicts around the world, the climate emergency, the dire financial situation of developing countries, and recent reversals of progress on such U.N. goals as ending extreme poverty and providing quality education for all children.

Fiona brings hurricane winds to Turks and Caicos Islands

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hurricane Fiona is raking the Turks and Caicos Islands as a Category 3 storm after devastating Puerto Rico. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says hurricane conditions are slamming Grand Turk, the British territory’s capital island. The government had imposed a curfew and urged people to flee flood-prone areas. rom the center. Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and was moving north-northwest at 10 mph early Tuesday. The Hurricane Center says the storm is likely to strengthen further into a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches Bermuda on Friday. It’s forecast to weaken before running into easternmost Canada over the weekend.

Video shows ‘unauthorized access’ to Ga. election equipment

ATLANTA (AP) — A court filing says a former Republican Party official in Georgia who was a fake elector in 2020 misrepresented her role in an alleged breach of voting equipment at a rural elections office after the presidential election. The Monday filing is part of a broader lawsuit challenging the security of Georgia’s voting machines that’s been drawn into a separate investigation of ex-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss in Georgia. The filing says Cathy Latham helped coordinate the arrival of a computer forensics team at the Coffee County elections office Jan. 7, 2021, and spent nearly all day there instructing the team what to copy, refuting her previous testimony. Security camera video shows Latham welcoming the team.

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.

Texas sheriff investigating flights to Martha’s Vineyard

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas sheriff has opened a criminal investigation into two flights of migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar on Monday did not say what laws may have been broken in putting 48 Venezuelans on private planes last week from San Antonio. The elected Democratic sheriff says investigators had so far only spoken to attorneys representing some of the migrants and did not name any potential suspects who might face charges. DeSantis’ office responded with a statement that said the migrants had been given more options to succeed in Massachusetts.

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.

EXPLAINER: What to know about the UN General Assembly

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — After two years of virtual and hybrid summits, the world will once again convene in New York this week for the U.N. General Assembly. The opening of the 77th session comes as the world — two years into the pandemic — is beset with crises on nearly every front. Among them: Russia’s war in Ukraine, inflation and economic instability, terrorism and ideological extremism, environmental degradation and devastating floods, droughts and fires. The high-level meeting opens Monday with a summit on education. Speeches from the scores of attending leaders will begin Tuesday and run through Monday, Sept. 26.

Britain’s Truss doesn’t expect UK-US trade deal anytime soon

NEW YORK (AP) — Prime Minister Liz Truss has kicked off her first visit to the United States as Britain’s leader with an admission that a U.K-U.S. free trade deal is not going to happen for years. On her way to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Truss said “there (aren’t) currently any negotiations taking place with the U.S., and I don’t have an expectation that those are going to start in the short to medium term.” That’s a sharp contrast with the stance of her immediate predecessors, Boris Johnson and Theresa May. Both dangled the promise of a deal with the world’s biggest economy as one of the main prizes of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Q&A: James Cameron on the return of ‘Avatar’

NEW YORK (AP) — Thirteen years after James Cameron plunged moviegoers into the cosmic world of “Avatar,” the lush, distant moon of Pandora is finally orbiting back into view. Cameron’s “Avatar” industrial complex has been whirling in high gear for some time; production on the upcoming sequel began back in 2017. But after shuffling through half a decade’s worth of release dates, Cameron’s science-fiction epic is poised to again blanket movie screens and transport willing travelers back, in 3D, to the land of the Na’vi. To whet moviegoers’ appetites ahead of the Dec. 16 debut of “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Cameron on Friday will rerelease “Avatar” in a remastered, 4K, HDR version that he says is “better than it’s ever looked.”

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