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AP News Summary at 3:11 a.m. EDT

Moscow-held regions of Ukraine in ‘sham’ vote to join Russia

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Voting has begun in Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. The Kremlin orchestrated the votes and they’re certain to go Russia’s way. But Ukraine and the West have denounced them as shams without any legal force. The votes are being held in the Luhansk, Kherson, partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. The expected outcome favoring joining Russia would give it the pretext to claim Ukrainian forces are attacking Russia itself. That would dramatically escalate the seven-month conflict. The referendums follow President Vladimir Putin’s order of a partial mobilization that could add some 300,000 Russian troops to the fight. The voting started Friday and runs through Tuesday.

World opinion shifts against Russia as Ukraine worries grow

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NEW YORK (AP) — The tide of international opinion appears to have decisively shifted against Russia, as a number of non-aligned countries joined the United States and its allies in condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine and its threats to the principles of the international rules-based order. In what many believed earlier this year was Western wishful thinking, much of the international community spoke out against the conflict in rare displays of unity at the often fractured United Nations. The coalescing condemnation picked up steam earlier in the week when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the mobilization of some additional 300,000 troops to Ukraine, signaling the unlikelihood of a quick end to the war and suggested that nuclear weapons may be an option.

Trump’s legal woes mount without protection of presidency

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s latest legal troubles — sweeping fraud allegations by New York’s attorney general and a stark repudiation by federal judges he appointed — have laid bare the challenges piling up as the former president operates without the protections afforded by the White House. The bluster and bravado that served him well in the political arena are less handy in a legal realm dominated by verifiable evidence, where judges this week have looked askance at his positions. This week alone, he has been sued in New York and a federal appeals court has sharply rejected his legal team’s arguments about documents seized from his Florida home.

US aircraft carrier arrives in South Korea for joint drills

BUSAN, South Korea (AP) — The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan has arrived in the South Korean port of Busan ahead of the two countries’ joint military exercise that aims to show their strength against growing North Korean threats. The joint drills will be the first involving a U.S. aircraft carrier in the region since 2017. The allies have revived large-scale military drills this year, responding to North Korea’s resumption of major weapons testing and increasing threats of nuclear conflicts with Seoul and Washington. The South Korean navy said the training is meant to boost the allies’ military readiness and show “the firm resolve” of the South Korea-U.S. alliance for the sake of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

After days focused on Ukraine, other concerns emerge at UN

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — After three days in which the war in Ukraine consumed world leaders at the United Nations, other conflicts and concerns are beginning to emerge. Some are long-simmering ones that have receded from the public’s attention recently. Israel’s prime minister called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in a speech that focused on that conflict. The Palestinian president speaks on Friday. Others are regional conflicts that have flared. Armenia’s prime minister warned that “the risk of new aggression by Azerbaijan remains very high.” That’s after the largest outbreak of hostilities between the two adversaries in nearly two years.

Powerful Hurricane Fiona roaring by Bermuda, then to Canada

SAN SALVADOR, Puerto Rico (AP) — Powerful Hurricane Fiona is pounding Bermuda with heavy rains and winds as it sweeps by the island on a route that is forecast to have approaching northeastern Canada as a still-powerful storm late Friday. Authorities in Bermuda opened shelters and closed schools and offices ahead of Fiona. Premier David Burt urged residents to “take care of yourself and your family.” The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued a hurricane watch over extensive coastal expanses of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Fiona should reach Canada as a “large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds.”

‘Crucial’ vote could move Italy to right; many might boycott

ROME (AP) — Italian voters cast ballots on Sunday in an election that has been billed as crucial as Europe reels from the repercussions of war in Ukraine. Soaring energy costs mean many Italian families and businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Opinion polls indicate Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party could be the biggest vote-getter, just ahead of the center-left Democratic Party of former Premier Enrico Letta. But a solid campaign alliance linking Meloni to her conservative allies gives her the advantage in determining who governs. Meloni would be Italy’s first far-right premier and first female one in the post-war period. But experts say this Italian election could also set another record — one for the lowest-ever turnout.

Alabama halts execution because of time, IV access concerns

ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — Alabama officials have called off the lethal injection of a man convicted in a 1999 workplace shooting because of time concerns and trouble accessing the inmate’s veins. Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said prison officials called off Thursday’s execution after they determined inmate Arthur Miller’s “veins could not be accessed in accordance with our protocol” before a midnight deadline to commence the execution. Miller has been returned to his cell at the south Alabama prison, Hamm said. The halt came three hours after a divided U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to begin.

Chinese man gets 24 years for brutal group attack on women

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A court in northern China has sentenced one man to 24 years in jail for his leading role in a group beating of four women. His sentencing Friday encompasses other crimes, including robbery and opening an illegal gambling ring. The Guangyang People’s Court in northern Hebei province announced in a statement that the man, Chen Jizhi, was a ringleader of a criminal gang and had conducted criminal activities for years. The court also sentenced 27 others. The sentences range from 6 months to 11 years. The charges against them include robbery, opening casinos, assisting in cybercrime activities, picking quarrels and provoking trouble.

Celtics suspend coach Ime Udoka for 2022-23 season

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics have suspended coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season. The move takes effect immediately and with no guarantee he will be back with the franchise. The Celtics said Thursday night that Udoka was suspended for “violations of team policies.” Earlier Thursday, two people with knowledge of the matter said Udoka was being sanctioned because of an improper relationship with a member of the organization. Those people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not reveal that detail publicly.

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