AP News Summary at 11:59 p.m. EDT

Putin signs annexation of Ukrainian regions as losses mount

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the final papers to annex four regions of Ukraine while his military struggled to control the new territory. In a defiant move, the Kremlin held the door open for further land grabs in Ukraine. Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “certain territories will be reclaimed” and that Russia would continue “consulting” residents about joining Russia. He did not specify which additional Ukrainian territories Moscow is eyeing. The four annexed regions were added in violation of international laws. Ukrainian law enforcement officials, meanwhile, reported discovering more evidence of torture and killings in areas retaken from Russian forces.

North Korea launches more missiles as US redeploys carrier

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has launched two ballistic missiles into its eastern waters after the U.S. redeployed an aircraft carrier in response to the North’s earlier launch of a nuclear-capable missile over Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said North Korea’s continued launches were “absolutely intolerable.” The launches Tuesday were North Korea’s sixth round of weapons tests in less than two weeks, adding to a record number of missile launches this year that has been condemned by the United States and other countries. Thursday’s launches came as the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan returned to waters east of South Korea.

Biden and DeSantis join together in Ian recovery effort

FORT MYERS, Florida (AP) — President Joe Biden has surveyed the devastation of hurricane-ravaged Florida, promising to marshal the power of the federal government to help rebuild. Biden comforted local residents alongside Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 foe. Biden praised DeSantis’ handling of the storm recovery as both men — who have battled over pandemic protocols and migration as the governor mulls a presidential bid — put aside politics for a few days. The state is struggling to recover from the wreckage of Hurricane Ian, which tore through southwestern Florida last week and left dozens dead.

Twitter under Musk? Most of the plans are a mystery

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A super app called X? A bot-free free speech haven? These are some of Elon Musk’s mysterious plans for Twitter, now that he may be moving toward buying the company after all. After months of squabbling over the fate of their bombshell $44 billion deal, the billionaire and the bird app are essentially back to square one — if a bit worse for wear as trust and goodwill has seemed to erode on both sides.

Revised ‘Dreamers’ program to get another review by court

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court has ordered a lower court to review an Obama-era program preventing the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought into the United States as children. A Texas-based federal judge last year declared that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was illegal. But he left the program temporarily intact for those already benefiting from it, pending the appeal. Wednesday’s appellate ruling in New Orleans upholds the judge’s initial finding. But it sends the case back to him for a look at a new version of the rule issued by the Biden administration in late August.

Kidnapped California family, including baby, found dead

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The sheriff of Merced County in California says a baby girl and three other family members who were kidnapped at gunpoint have been found dead. Sheriff Vern Warnke announced Wednesday that the bodies were found in a Merced County orchard and told reporters: “Our worst fears have been confirmed.” The announcement came after authorities released surveillance video of a man kidnapping 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her parents and uncle from their business Monday in Merced in the San Joaquin Valley southeast of San Francisco. Authorities earlier said the four were taken by a convicted robber who tried to kill himself a day after the kidnappings. The kidnapper made no ransom demands but the sheriff has said he believes it was a financially motivated crime.

Barges grounded by low water halt Mississippi River traffic

The unusually low water level in the lower Mississippi River is causing barges to get stuck in the mud and sand. That’s disrupting river travel for shippers, recreational boaters and even passengers on a cruise line. The lack of rainfall in recent weeks has left the Mississippi River approaching record low levels in areas from Missouri south through Louisiana. The U.S. Coast Guard says at least eight grounding of barges have been reported in the past week, despite low-water restrictions on barge loads. The National Weather Service says nearly all of the Mississippi River basin, from Minnesota through Louisiana, has seen below-normal rainfall over the past 30 days.

Missing snow puts famed New Zealand ski areas on precipice

TŪROA SKI AREA, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s Tūroa ski area closed three weeks early because it has hardly any snow. Rain washed it away all winter, and snowmaking machines proved no match against balmy temperatures. Throughout the season, workers used machines to push what snow there was onto Tūroa’s trails, but that allowed only limited runs for expert skiers and snowboarders. The disastrous snow season follows two years disrupted by COVID-19, leaving Tūroa and its sister ski area Whakapapa on the brink of bankruptcy. Climate change appears to be a significant factor, after New Zealand’s warmest winter on record. That’s raising questions about the future of skiing and snowboarding in a nation known as an outdoor adventure destination.

At 15 least dead as 2 migrant boats sink in Greek waters

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — At least 15 people have died as two boats carrying migrants sank in Greek waters in separate incidents, and rescuers are looking for dozens still missing. Greece’s coast guard says 15 bodies have been recovered near the eastern island of Lesbos after a dinghy carrying about 40 people sank Wednesday. It says five people were rescued and three have been located on a rocky outcrop near the site of the sinking. A second night-time rescue effort was launched several hundred kilometers to the west, near the island of Kythira, where a sailboat carrying about 100 migrants hit rocks and sank.

Fan who caught Aaron Judge’s 62nd HR offered $2M for ball

The owner of a sports memorabilia auction house says he has offered $2 million to the fan who caught Aaron Judge’s American League-record 62nd home run. JP Cohen, president of Memory Lane Inc. in Tustin, California, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has texted and emailed Cory Youmans, who caught Judge’s milestone shot Tuesday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Cohen says Youmans has not yet replied. Youmans grabbed the historic souvenir on the fly as it sailed into the front row of section 31 in left field.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.