【AZ】 AP News Summary at 2:17 p.m. EDT | National – Arizona News

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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.

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.

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Feds: Minnesota food scheme stole $250M; 47 people charged

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

GOP AGs push Visa, Mastercard, AmEx not to track gun sales

NEW YORK (AP) — A group of Republican attorneys general are pushing the major payment networks _ Visa, Mastercard and American Express _ to drop their plans to start tracking sales at gun stores, arguing the plans could infringe on consumer privacy and push legal gun sales out of the mainstream financial network. The letter comes more than a week after the payment networks said they would adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant code for sales at gun stores. The Second Amendment lobby and its advocates have argued that the merchant code would do a poor job of tracking potential red flags and could unfairly flag legal gun purchases.

Brad Pitt, Nick Cave make surprise art debut in Finland

HELSINKI (AP) — Brad Pitt and Australian musician Nick Cave have debuted as artists in an exhibition in Finland, showing off for the first time sculptures and ceramics created by the movie star and the singer-songwriter.  The Sara Hilden Art Museum in the southern Finnish city of Tampere was initially scheduled to exhibit just the wide variety of works by British artist Thomas Houseago, who is known for his sculptures. But Houseago reportedly persuaded the museum to include artwork by his friends Pitt and Cave. Pitt told the Finnish public broadcaster YLE that his art is all about reflection. He says it’s about “where have I gotten it wrong in my relationships? Where have I misstepped?”

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