AP News Digest at 10:22 a.m. ET

Ukraine steps up bid for NATO as Russia annexes occupied territories

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s president said his country is submitting an “expedited” application to join the NATO military alliance. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to annex four regions of Ukraine where Moscow authorities held referendums on guns deemed illegal by the international community. “We are taking a decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application to accelerate NATO membership,” Zelensky said. It is unclear what an “accelerated” application means, since joining NATO requires unanimous support from alliance members. Responding to Putin’s call for talks, Zelensky added: “We are ready to have a dialogue with Russia, but … with another Russian president.”

Hurricane Ian heads to Carolina after hitting Florida

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A reinvigorated Hurricane Ian is ravaging the South Carolina coast and the historic city of Charleston, with forecasters predicting storm surge and flooding. Earlier, the mega-storm wreaked catastrophic damage in Florida, with people trapped in flooded homes and blamed for rising reports of deaths in the state. With a hurricane warning on the South Carolina coast, shopkeepers filled storefronts with sandbags in flood-prone areas and a steady stream of vehicles left Charleston for higher ground. Meanwhile, in Florida, rescuers drove boats through flooded streets, saving thousands from flooded homes and destroyed buildings. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said his state has carried out at least 700 rescues, mostly air rescues.

After Ian, SW Florida influences are everywhere

Hurricane Ian remained in southwest Florida for just a few hours. It will take several months to clean up all the damage. Maybe longer. And some of the damage by local officials simply cannot be cleaned up. From trees being pulled from the ground to signs being torn up, traffic lights hitting the road and some buildings being destroyed, the impact was widespread and few survived. The only difference between one place and another is the severity of the problem.

Baltic methane blast highlights global problem

NEW YORK (AP) — While the methane escaping from a ruptured pipeline on the Baltic Sea floor can be serious, there have been alarming events of massive methane releases around the world. Climate scientists have found that methane from the oil and gas industry is far worse than companies report, despite claims by some big companies that they have reduced emissions. This is important because natural gas, a fossil fuel widely used to heat and power homes, is made up of methane, a potent climate-warming gas.

‘Major impact’: UK economic chaos, pound slump hits businesses

LONDON (AP) — The British government’s stimulus package aims to help people and businesses by cutting taxes and growing the economy. But it had the opposite effect, as the promise of massive tax cuts roiled financial markets and sent the pound to a record low against the dollar this week. It’s getting worse for many small businesses already struggling with soaring costs. The fall in the pound has hit many businesses hard as goods such as imported materials and natural gas will be more expensive in dollar terms. Businesses may be forced to pass the cost on to consumers, which will further push up inflation.

Nobel Prize season arrives amid war, nuclear fear, starvation

This year’s Nobel Prize season is approaching as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupts decades of nearly uninterrupted peace in Europe and increases the risk of a nuclear catastrophe. The famously mysterious Nobel committee never leaks or suggests who will win the prize for medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, economics or peace. The awards will be announced starting next Monday. But there’s no shortage of reasons to watch for winning the world’s most prestigious awards. War in Ukraine and Ethiopia, disruptions to energy, food and financial stability supplies, the climate crisis and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stacey Abrams wants to win black bid Ga.Governor

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams is trying to bolster support and boost black turnout in her gubernatorial race against incumbent Republican Brian Kemp. Abrams has long sought to convert fringe or disaffected voters into staunch Democrats. It was a critical task, as she needed strong African-American support to have a chance in narrow Georgia. But black men turn out less than black women. Those who have studied black voters say some want more evidence that candidates can directly help their lives. Abrams tried to make that argument, saying her agenda would apply to everyone.

AP-NORC poll: On game day, some see prayer as long live Mary

Prayer is not a fundamental part of most sports fans. But anyway, some people still give it a try. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research provides new details on those who believe in the power of prayer. Among professional sports fans, 23% said they prayed for the outcome of a sporting event. Religious background was a factor: 35% of evangelical fans said they had done so, compared with 21% of fans of other religions. About three in 10 Americans say they believe God played a role in deciding which team wins.

Unpaid internships face new scrutiny as career hurdle

Unpaid internships are facing new scrutiny from universities, state lawmakers and student activists. Nearly half of all internships are unpaid, leaving students who need wages to support their bills out of reach, even if the jobs aren’t related to their intended careers. Many students say they cannot meet internship requirements and should not be expected to work unpaid to succeed in a particular field. Those who can take unpaid internships have a financial safety net, meaning they tend to benefit wealthier white students, perpetuating the wealth gap.

Jackson to make Supreme Court debut in brief ceremony

WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will make his first appearance on the Supreme Court bench in a brief courtroom ceremony three days before the start of his new term on the high court. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses are expected to attend Jackson’s inauguration on Friday. She was the first black woman on the Supreme Court. Jackson, 52, will follow the practice of all other new justices since 1972 and sit for a while in a chair that once belonged to John Marshall. Marshall served as chief justice for 34 years in the early 1800s.

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