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

129 dead after fans stampede to exit Indonesian soccer match

MALANG, Indonesia (AP) — Panic at an Indonesian soccer match after police fired tear gas to stop brawls left 129 dead, mostly trampled to death, police said Sunday.

Several fights between supporters of the two rival soccer teams were reported inside the Kanjuruhan Stadium in East Java province’s Malang city after the Indonesian Premier League game ended with Persebaya Surabaya beating Arema Malang 3-2.

The brawls that broke out just after the game ended late night Saturday prompted riot police to fire tear gas, which caused panic among supporters, said East Java Police Chief Nico Afinta.

Hundreds of people ran to an exit gate in an effort to avoid the tear gas. Some suffocated in the chaos and others were trampled, killing 34 almost instantly.

More than 300 were rushed to nearby hospitals to treat injuries but many died on the way and during a treatment, Afinta said.

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Russia withdraws troops after Ukraine encircles key city

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — After being encircled by Ukrainian forces, Russia pulled troops out Saturday from an eastern Ukrainian city that it had been using as a front-line hub. It was the latest victory for the Ukrainian counteroffensive that has humiliated and angered the Kremlin.

Russia’s withdrawal from Lyman complicates its internationally vilified declaration just a day earlier that it had annexed four regions of Ukraine — an area that includes Lyman. Taking the city paves the way for Ukrainian troops to potentially push further into land that Moscow now illegally claims as its own.

“The Ukrainian flag is already in Lyman, Donetsk region. Fighting is still going on there. But there is no trace of any pseudo-referendum there,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Saturday.

He was referring to “referendums” that Russia held at gunpoint in the four regions before annexing them — Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

The fighting comes at a pivotal moment in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war. Facing Ukrainian gains on the battlefield — which he frames as a U.S.-orchestrated effort to destroy Russia — Putin this week heightened threats of nuclear force and used his most aggressive, anti-Western rhetoric to date.

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Ian leaves dozens dead as focus turns to rescue, recovery

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Dozens of Florida residents left their flooded and splintered homes by boat and by air on Saturday as rescuers continued to search for survivors in the wake of Hurricane Ian, while authorities in South Carolina and North Carolina began taking stock of their losses.

The death toll from the storm, one of the strongest hurricanes by wind speed to ever hit the U.S., grew to more than four dozen, with 47 deaths confirmed in Florida, four in North Carolina and three deaths in Cuba. The storm weakened Saturday as it rolled into the mid-Atlantic, but not before it washed out bridges and piers, hurdled massive boats into buildings onshore and sheared roofs off homes, leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

The bulk of the deaths confirmed in Florida were mostly from drowning in storm waters, but others from Ian’s tragic aftereffects. An elderly couple died after their oxygen machines shut off when they lost power, authorities said.

As of Saturday, more than 1,000 people had been rescued from flooded areas along Florida’s southwestern coast alone, Daniel Hokanson, a four-star general and head of the National Guard, told The Associated Press while airborne to Florida.

Later in the evening, the White House announced that President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden would travel to Florida on Wednesday. No other details of Biden’s visit were immediately released.

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Pine Island residents recount horror, fear as Ian bore down

PINE ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — Paramedics and volunteers with a group that rescues people after natural disasters went door to door Saturday on Florida’s devastated Pine Island, offering to evacuate residents who spoke of the terror of riding out Hurricane Ian in flooded homes and howling winds.

The largest barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, Pine Island has been largely cut off from the outside world. Ian heavily damaged the only bridge to the island, leaving it only reachable by boat or air. For many, the volunteers from the non-profit Medic Corps were the first people they have seen from outside the island in days.

Residents described the horror of being trapped in their homes as water kept rising. Joe Conforti became emotional as he recounted what happened, saying the water rose at least 8 to 10 feet (2.4-3 meters), and there were 4-foot (1.2-meter) waves in the streets.

“The water just kept pounding the house and we watched, boats, houses — we watched everything just go flying by,” he said, as he fought back tears. “We’ve lost so much at this point.”

Conforti said if it wasn’t for his wife, Dawn Conforti, he wouldn’t have made it. He said: “I started to lose sensibility, because when the water’s at your door and it’s splashing on the door and you’re seeing how fast it’s moving, there’s no way you’re going to survive that.”

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Ian shows the risks and costs of living on barrier islands

SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — When Hurricane Ian struck Florida’s Gulf Coast, it washed out the bottom level of David Muench’s home on the barrier island of Sanibel along with several cars, a Harley-Davidson and a boat.

His parents’ house was among those destroyed by the storm that killed at least two people there, and the lone bridge to the crescent-shaped island collapsed, cutting off access by car to the mainland for its 6,300 residents.

Hurricane Ian underscores the vulnerability of the nation’s barrier islands and the increasing costs of people living on the thin strips of land that parallel the coast. As hurricanes become more destructive, experts question whether such exposed communities can keep rebuilding in the face of climate change.

“This is a Hurricane Katrina-scale event, where you’re having to rebuild everything, including the infrastructure,” said Jesse M. Keenan, a real estate professor at Tulane University’s School of Architecture. “We can’t build back everything to what it was — we can’t afford that.”

Ian slammed into southwest Florida as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday with among the highest windspeeds in U.S. history — in nearly the same spot where Hurricane Charley, also a Category 4, caused major damage in 2004.

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Russia blindfolds, detains Ukraine nuclear plant chief

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces blindfolded and detained the head of Europe’s largest nuclear plant, Ukraine’s nuclear power provider said Saturday, reigniting long-simmering fears over the plant’s security.

The alleged kidnapping on Friday apparently took place shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated his war in Ukraine and pushed it into a new, dangerous phase by annexing four Ukrainian regions that Moscow fully or partially controls and heightening threats of nuclear force.

In a possible attempt to secure Moscow’s hold on the newly annexed territory, Russian forces seized the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ihor Murashov, around 4 p.m. Friday, the Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom said.

Putin on Friday signed treaties to absorb the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, including the area around the nuclear plant.

Energoatom said Russian troops stopped Murashov’s car, blindfolded him and then took him to an undisclosed location.

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Venezuela swaps 7 jailed Americans for Maduro relatives

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a rare softening of hostile relations, Venezuela freed on Saturday seven imprisoned Americans in exchange for the United States releasing two nephews of President Nicolás Maduro’s wife who had been jailed for years on narcotics convictions.

The swap of the Americans, including five oil executives held for nearly five years, follows months of back channel diplomacy by senior U.S. officials — secretive talks with a major oil producer that took on greater urgency after sanctions on Russia put pressure on global energy prices.

The deal amounts to an unusual gesture of goodwill by Maduro as the socialist leader looks to rebuild relations with the U.S. after vanquishing most of his domestic opponents. While the White House denied any change in policy toward Venezuela is afoot, the freeing of Americans could create political space for the Biden administration to ease crippling oil sanctions on Venezuela if Maduro shows progress in on-again, off-again talks with his opponents.

“I can’t believe it,” Cristina Vadell, the daughter of Tomeu Vadell, one of the freed Americans, told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Holding back tears of joy on her 31st birthday, she said: “This is the best birthday present ever. I’m just so happy.”

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Trump at center of Oath Keepers novel defense in Jan. 6 case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The defense team in the Capitol riot trial of the Oath Keepers leader is relying on an unusual strategy with Donald Trump at the center.

Lawyers for Stewart Rhodes, founder of the extremist group, are poised to argue that jurors cannot find him guilty of seditious conspiracy because all the actions he took before the siege on Jan. 6, 2021, were in preparation for orders he anticipated from the then-president — orders that never came.

Rhodes and four associates are accused of plotting for weeks to stop the transfer of presidential power from the Republican incumbent to Democrat Joe Biden, culminating with Oath Keepers in battle gear storming the Capitol alongside hundreds of other Trump supporters.

Opening statements in the trial are set to begin Monday.

Rhodes intends to take the stand to argue he believed Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act to call up a militia to support him, his lawyers have said. Trump didn’t do that, but Rhodes’ team says that what prosecutors allege was an illegal conspiracy was “actually lobbying and preparation for the President to utilize” the law.

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Supreme Court poised to keep marching to right in new term

WASHINGTON (AP) — With public confidence diminished and justices sparring openly over the institution’s legitimacy, the Supreme Court on Monday will begin a new term that could push American law to the right on issues of race, voting and the environment.

Following June’s momentous overturning of nearly 50 years of constitutional protections for abortion rights, the court is diving back in with an aggressive agenda that seems likely to split its six conservative justices from its three liberals.

“It’s not going to be a sleepy term,” said Allison Orr Larsen, a William and Mary law professor. “Cases the court already has agreed to hear really have the potential to bring some pretty significant changes to the law.”

Into this swirling mix steps new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s first Black woman. Jackson took the seat of Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, who retired in June. She’s not expected to alter the liberal-conservative divide on the court, but for the first time the court has four women as justices and white men no longer hold a majority.

The court, with three appointees of President Donald Trump, could discard decades of decisions that allow colleges to take account of race in admissions and again weaken the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, the crown jewel of the civil rights movement.

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GOP attacks Georgia’s Abrams on voting as judge rejects suit

ATLANTA (AP) — When Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost the Georgia governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp four years ago, she didn’t go quietly.

She ended her campaign with a nonconcession that acknowledged she wouldn’t be governor, while spotlighting her claims that Kemp had used his post as secretary of state to improperly purge likely Democratic voters. Abrams founded Fair Fight Action, a group focused on fair elections, which within weeks filed a wide-ranging federal lawsuit alleging “gross mismanagement” of Georgia’s elections.

That lawsuit sputtered out Friday with Fair Fight losing its last remaining arguments, more than a year after the judge had tossed most earlier claims.

People are already voting by mail in a Georgia governor’s race that again pits Abrams and Kemp against each other, with fewer than 40 days remaining before voting ends on Nov. 8.

And Republicans are now using the loss to attack what they see as the “big lie” that underlies Abrams’ career. They label her claims that Georgia’s election system has been discriminatory as a fraud she used to enrich herself and aggrandize her political career after her 2018 loss.

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