AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Ian lashes South Carolina as Florida’s death toll climbs

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A revived Hurricane Ian pounded coastal South Carolina on Friday, ripping apart piers and flooding streets after the ferocious storm caused catastrophic damage in Florida, trapping thousands in their homes and leaving at least 27 people dead.

The powerful storm, estimated to be one of the costliest hurricanes ever to hit the U.S., has terrorized people for much of the week — pummeling western Cuba and raking across Florida before gathering strength in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean to curve back and strike South Carolina.

While Ian’s center came ashore near Georgetown, South Carolina, on Friday with much weaker winds than when it crossed Florida’s Gulf Coast earlier in the week, the storm left many areas of Charleston’s downtown peninsula under water. It also washed away parts of four piers along the coast, including two at Myrtle Beach.

Online cameras showed seawater filling neighborhoods in Garden City to calf level. As Ian moved across South Carolina on its way to North Carolina Friday evening, it dropped from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone.

Ian left a broad swath of destruction in Florida, flooding areas on both of its coasts, tearing homes from their slabs, demolishing beachfront businesses and leaving more than 2 million people without power.

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Putin illegally annexes Ukraine land; Kyiv seeks NATO entry

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties Friday to illegally annex more occupied Ukrainian territory in a sharp escalation of his war. Ukraine’s president countered with a surprise application to join the NATO military alliance.

Putin’s land-grab and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s signing of what he said is an “accelerated” NATO membership application sent the two leaders speeding faster on a collision course that is cranking up fears of a full-blown conflict between Russia and the West.

Putin vowed to protect newly annexed regions of Ukraine by “all available means,” a renewed nuclear-backed threat he made at a Kremlin signing ceremony where he also railed furiously against the West, accusing the United States and its allies of seeking Russia’s destruction.

Zelenskyy then held his own signing ceremony in Kyiv, releasing video of him putting pen to papers he said were a formal NATO membership request.

Putin has repeatedly made clear that any prospect of Ukraine joining the military alliance is one of his red lines and cited it as a justification for his invasion, now in its eighth month, in Europe’s biggest land war since World War II.

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U.S. captives ‘prayed for death’ on brutal ride from Ukraine

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Even after three months of captivity that included execution threats, physical torture, solitary confinement and food deprivation, it was the ride to freedom that nearly broke Alex Drueke, a U.S. military veteran released last week with nine other prisoners who went to help Ukraine fight off Russian invaders.

His hands were bound. His head was covered by a plastic bag, and the packing tape holding it in place was secured so tightly it it caused welts on his forehead. Drueke said he and fellow American prisoner Andy Huynh reached their limit in this state during the transit, which occurred in a series of vehicles from eastern Ukraine to an airport in Russia that was surrounded by armed guards.

“For all we went through and all the times we thought we might die, we accepted that we might die, we were ready to die when it came, that ride was the only time that each of us independently prayed for death just to get it over with,” Drueke told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.

“The mental and emotional torture of those last 24 hours in captivity, that was the worst,” he said.

Drueke, 40, is healing: The swelling is going down on his head and he’s trying to regain some of the 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) he figures he lost eating a poor diet. But awful memories remain, and he’s unsure what comes next aside from trying to focus attention on fellow prisoners who remain in Russian hands.

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Arizona judge won’t suspend ruling that halted all abortions

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona judge on Friday declined to put her order that allowed enforcement of a pre-statehood law making it a crime to provide an abortion on hold, saying abortion right groups that asked her to block the order are not likely to prevail on appeal.

The ruling from Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson means the state’s abortion providers will not be able to restart procedures. Abortions were halted on Sept. 23 when Johnson ruled that a 1973 injunction must be lifted so that the Civil War-era law could be enforced.

Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich sought the order lifting the injunction. Attorneys with his office told the judge that, since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision said women do not have a constitutional right to obtain an abortion, there was no legal reason to block the old law.

Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate had urged Johnson to keep the injunction issued shortly after Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. They argued that laws enacted by the state Legislature in the ensuing 50 years should take precedence.

Planned Parenthood’s lawyers on Monday asked Johnson to put her ruling on hold to allow an appeal.

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North Korea fires 4th round of missile tests in 1 week

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Saturday fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters, South Korean and Japanese officials said, making it the North’s fourth round of weapons launches this week that are seen as a response to military drills among its rivals.

South Korea’s military said that it detected the two North Korean missile launches 18 minutes apart on Saturday morning coming from the North’s capital region. Japan’s Defense Ministry said it also spotted the launches.

“The repeated ballistic missile firings by North Korea are a grave provocation that undermines peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the international community,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

It said South Korea strongly condemns the launches and urges North Korea to stop testing ballistic missiles.

Toshiro Ino, Japan’s vice defense minister, called the launches “absolutely impermissible.” He said the four rounds of missile testing by North Korea in a week is “unprecedented.”

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Army officers appear on Burkina Faso TV, declare new coup

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — More than a dozen soldiers seized control of Burkina Faso’s state television late Friday, declaring that the country’s coup leader-turned-president, Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, had been overthrown after only nine months in power.

A statement read by a junta spokesman said Capt. Ibrahim Traore is the new military leader of Burkina Faso, a volatile West African country that is battling a mounting Islamic insurgency.

Burkina Faso’s new military leaders said the country’s borders had been closed and a curfew would be in effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The transitional government and national assembly were ordered dissolved.

Damiba and his allies overthrew the democratically elected president, coming to power with promises of make the country more secure. However, violence has continued unabated and frustration with his leadership has grown in recent months.

“Faced by the continually worsening security situation, we the officers and junior officers of the national armed forces were motivated to take action with the desire to protect the security and integrity of our country,” said the statement read by the junta spokesman, Capt. Kiswendsida Farouk Azaria Sorgho.

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Stocks end September down 9.3%, worst month since March 2020

Wall Street closed out a miserable September on Friday with the S&P 500’s worst monthly skid since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic crashed global markets.

The benchmark index ended the month with a 9.3% loss and posted its third straight losing quarter. It’s now at its lowest level since November 2020 and is down by more than a quarter since the start of the year.

The main reason financial markets continue to struggle is fear about a possible recession, as interest rates soar in hopes of beating down the high inflation that’s swept the world.

“Quite frankly, if it’s a deep recession you’re going to have to see more of a sell-off,” said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial. “This is what the market is trying to navigate now.”

The Federal Reserve has been at the forefront of the global campaign to slow economic growth and hurt job markets just enough to undercut inflation but not so much that it causes a recession. On Friday, the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation showed it was worse last month than economists expected. That should keep the Fed on track to keep hiking rates and hold them at high levels a while, raising the risk of it going too far and causing a downturn.

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In Ian’s wake, worried families crowdsource rescue efforts

Many people whose loved ones stayed behind in the pathway of Hurricane Ian are crowdsourcing rescue efforts as they grapple with the helplessness of waiting and not knowing.

In TikTok videos and Facebook posts, families are sharing their desperate pleas and strangers are answering their calls, even as local officials urge people to use official channels for help.

Hannah Foltz had assumed her grandparents, Janet and Larry, evacuated from their mobile home in Naples. But when the 35-year-old in Indiana heard from her mother, she learned they had not only stayed but the water that flooded their home was almost chest deep with the fridge floating. Her 75-year-old grandmother didn’t know how to swim.

“We were all in like pure panic mode, sitting in Indiana, crying, feeling helpless,” Foltz said.

She turned to a Facebook group of more than 400,000 people, #HurricaneStrong.

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NFL’s handling of concussions questioned after Tua’s injury

The NFL’s handling of concussions has evolved dramatically from the days when players were given smelling salts on the bench and sent back into the game.

The league and the NFL Players Association have implemented extensive protocols and hired unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants (UNC) to work with team physicians at each game to diagnose concussions.

Still, football is a violent sport and injuries similar to the frightening one Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered Thursday night seem unavoidable unless the NFL bans tackling and turns the game into flag football like it did for the Pro Bowl.

That’s not happening, and the most effective means of protecting players remains enforcing strict concussion protocols, which players, fans and others are concerned didn’t happen with Tagovailoa.

It would be difficult to prevent what happened to Tagovailoa when 6-foot-3, 340-pound Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou slammed him backward into the turf. The main question is why he was even playing just four days after he stumbled off the field and was unable to walk following a hit to his head during a home game against Buffalo.

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Some officials now say monkeypox elimination unlikely in US

NEW YORK (AP) — Some U.S. health officials are conceding that monkeypox is probably not going away anytime soon.

The disease’s spread is slowing but the virus is so widespread that elimination is unlikely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. That conclusion was in a recent CDC report, and echoed Friday by Marc Lipsitch, director of science in the agency’s disease-forecasting center.

Lipsitch hesitated to say monkeypox is permanently here to stay, but he said it stands to be a continuing threat for the next few years.

“It’s in many geographic locations within the country” as well as in other countries, Lipsitch told The Associated Press. “There’s no clear path in our mind to complete elimination domestically.”

The virus has mainly spread among gay and bisexual men, though health officials continue to stress that anyone can be infected. It’s important that people at risk take steps to prevent spread and that vaccination efforts continue, Lipsitch said.

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