AP News Summary at 4:15 a.m. EDT

Cuba in the dark after Hurricane Ian destroyed the power grid

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba is in the dark after Hurricane Ian knocked out the power grid and devastated some of the country’s largest tobacco plantations when it hit the western tip of the island in the form of a a major storm. Cuba’s Electric Union said authorities were working to gradually restore service overnight to the country’s 11 million people. Ian hit a Cuba struggling with an economic crisis and which has seen frequent power cuts in recent months. It made landfall as a Category 3 storm on the western end of the island, devastating Pinar del Río province, where much of the tobacco used for Cuba’s signature cigars is grown.

Hurricane Ian approaches the Florida coast, threatening flooding and winds

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Ian is rolling into Florida like a threatening major hurricane, and many residents have obeyed orders to flee its path. The US National Hurricane Center said Ian could become a dangerous Category 4 hurricane before rolling into southwest Florida on Wednesday. At least 2.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate in anticipation of a powerful storm surge and torrential rain. A couple from England, Glyn and Christine Williams, got stuck and planned to weather the storm at a shelter. They said the hotel in Tampa where they stayed was closed amid evacuation orders and the airport closed before they could return home.

Occupied Ukrainian regions ask Putin to annex them

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Officials installed by Russia in occupied regions of Ukraine have said they will ask President Vladimir Putin to integrate them into Russia, saying their residents overwhelmingly supported such a move in votes orchestrated by the Kremlin, widely considered illegitimate. Pro-Moscow administrations in Ukraine’s four occupied regions said Tuesday night that their residents had voted to join Russia. According to Russian-installed election officials, 93% of the votes cast in the Zaporizhzhia region were in favor of annexation, as were 87% in the Kherson region, 98% in the Luhansk region and 99% in Donetsk. The predicted outcome sets the stage for a dangerous new phase in Russia’s seven-month war, with the Kremlin threatening to throw more troops into the battle and potentially use nuclear weapons.

EU promises retaliation if energy grid is attacked

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s foreign policy chief says the bloc suspects damage to two undersea gas pipelines was sabotage and warns of retaliation for any attacks on European energy networks. Josep Borell said Wednesday that “all available information indicates that these leaks are the result of a deliberate act”. He added that any deliberate disruption of Europe’s energy infrastructure “is completely unacceptable and will be met with a strong and united response”. Seismologists reported on Tuesday that explosions rocked the Baltic Sea before unusual leaks were discovered at two undersea gas pipelines linking Russia with Germany. Three leaks have been reported on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. They are not currently delivering fuel to Europe.

Churches defend clergy loophole in reporting child sex abuse

Clergy in 33 states are exempt from laws requiring professionals such as teachers, doctors and psychotherapists to report information about allegations of child abuse to police or child protection officials. This loophole allowed an unknown number of predators to continue abusing children for years, despite confessing their behavior to religious officials. An Associated Press review reveals that over the past two decades, more than 130 bills have been proposed in state legislatures to create or change child sexual abuse reporting laws. After intense opposition from religious groups, the privilege of the clergy remained unchanged. Often, legislative efforts to close the loophole come up against legislators who are also church members.

Iran’s anti-veil protests build on a long history of resistance

Activists say the current wave of protests in Iran is different from previous unrest. Unleashing their anger over compulsory veiling for women, protesters are targeting something central to the identity of Iran’s clergy-led Islamic regime. The protests draw on a long history of resistance among Iranian women. During the 1979 revolution, the hijab was a sign of a break with the secular monarchy. But when the new Islamic Republic then made wearing compulsory, thousands of women marched in protest. Women have been defying the rule ever since. The death of a woman arrested for wearing an overly loose headscarf sparked an outburst of anger.

Florida mining pollution a concern with Hurricane Ian

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Environmental groups say the polluted remnants of Florida’s phosphate fertilizer mining industry are at risk of leaks or other contamination triggered by Hurricane Ian. More than a billion tons are in “stacks” that look like huge ponds. Florida has 24 such phosphogypsum piles statewide, mostly in central mining areas. About 30 million tons of this waste is generated each year, according to the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute. A leak in March 2021 at a pile called Piney Point released an estimated 215 million gallons of polluted water into Tampa Bay, causing mass fish kills. State officials, overseen by a court-appointed receiver, are working with a $100 million appropriation to shut down the site.

Small Oregon town hosts first wind-solar-battery ‘hybrid’ factory

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A renewable energy facility in Oregon that combines solar power, wind power and massive batteries to store generated energy will be the first large-scale plant of its kind in America North. Clean energy experts say the project, which can power 100,000 homes, addresses some key challenges facing the industry as the United States transitions away from fossil fuels. Interest in on-site battery storage to equalize output from solar or wind generation has skyrocketed, but combining wind, solar and storage batteries in one location promises to make the energy installation renewable from Wheatridge particularly effective.

Progressive Democrats frustrated with 2022 primary losses

NEW YORK (AP) — Progressive Democrats face a test of their power in November’s midterm elections. Their party is heading into the home stretch of the campaign with a solid set of legislative achievements. These include long-term progressive priorities on issues ranging from the price of prescription drugs to climate change. But the left also had to deal with a series of disappointments during the primary season. Democratic voters from Ohio to Illinois to Texas rejected high-profile progressive challengers from moderates or incumbents. Progressive leaders urge against interpreting those losses too much, especially in New York, where some voters have been confused or disengaged.

EXPLANATION: What’s behind the strained relations between China and Japan

TOKYO (AP) — Japan and China are gearing up to mark the 50th anniversary of the normalization of relations in 1972. But there’s not really a celebratory mood. Improving relations between Asia’s two largest economies is seen as vital to the region’s stability and prosperity, but they remain at odds over disputed East China Sea islands and military assertion and China’s growing economy in the region.

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