AP News in Brief at 11:09 p.m. EDT

The first 2024 Republican presidential debate is in the books. Here's what happened

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Follow along for live updates on the first 2024 Republican presidential debate. The field's early front-runner, Donald Trump, skipped the event and conducted an interview with Tucker Carlson instead.

— GOP candidates tangle in Milwaukee as they vie to be the leading alternative to Trump — The key moments from Wednesday night's debate — Trump attacks rivals in online interview with Tucker Carlson while skipping debate — Trump’s decision to back out tests Fox News’ ability to pivot again — The GOP presidential debate puts the spotlight on swing-state Wisconsin

The first Republican presidential debate illustrated the deep divisions within the GOP, with the candidates on stage arguing over issues including U.S. support for Ukraine, when and how to best restrict abortion nationwide, and support for the party’s eventual 2024 nominee.

Most of the candidates vowed to support Ukraine in its war with Russia, but the notable exception was Vivek Ramaswamy. He suggested that supporting that country when the U.S. hasn’t fixed its own problems was “disastrous.” That drew rebukes from many of his rivals, including former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who told the 38-year-old technology entrepreneur, “You have no foreign policy experience, and it shows.”

There was disagreement on abortion, with Haley calling for “consensus” and Pence saying that was the “opposite of leadership.” The candidates largely agreed that Pence was right to protect the results of the 2020 election against Donald Trump’s pressure campaign.


Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin is presumed dead after a plane crash outside Moscow

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led a brief armed rebellion against the Russian military earlier this year, was presumed dead Wednesday after a plane crash north of Moscow that killed all 10 people on board.

Prigozhin was on the plane, according to Russia’s civil aviation agency, which cited the airline. The crash immediately raised suspicions since the fate of the founder of the Wagner private military company has been the subject of intense speculation ever since he mounted the mutiny.

At the time, President Vladimir Putin denounced the rebellion as “treason” and a “stab in the back” and vowed to avenge it. But the charges against Prigozhin were soon dropped. The Wagner chief, whose troops were some of the best fighting forces for Russia in Ukraine, was allowed to retreat to Belarus, while reportedly popping up in Russia from time to time.

The crash also comes after Russian media reported that a top general linked to Prigozhin was dismissed from his position as commander of the air force.

A plane carrying three crew members and seven passengers that was en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg went down almost 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of the capital, according to officials cited by Russia’s state news agency Tass.


Giuliani turns himself in on Georgia 2020 election charges after bond is set at $150,000

ATLANTA (AP) — Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump's lawyer and confidant, turned himself in at a jail in Atlanta on Wednesday on charges related to efforts to overturn then-President Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

The former New York mayor, was indicted last week along with Trump and 17 others. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said they participated in a wide-ranging conspiracy to subvert the will of the voters after the Republican president lost to Democrat Joe Biden in November 2020.

Bond for Giuliani, who was released after booking like the other defendants, was set at $150,000, second only to Trump’s $200,000.

Giuliani, 79, is accused of spearheading Trump’s efforts to compel state lawmakers in Georgia and other closely contested states to ignore the will of voters and illegally appoint electoral college electors favorable to Trump.

Other high-profile defendants also surrendered Wednesday, including Jenna Ellis, an attorney who prosecutors say was involved in efforts to convince state lawmakers to unlawfully appoint presidential electors, and lawyer Sidney Powell, accused of making false statements about the election in Georgia and helping to organize a breach of voting equipment in rural Coffee County.


The Fukushima nuclear plant is ready to release radioactive wastewater into sea later Thursday

OKUMA, Japan (AP) — The operator of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will begin releasing the first batch of treated and diluted radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean later Thursday, utility executives said.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings executive Junichi Matsumoto, who is in charge of the project, said its final preparations and testing have cleared safety standards and the release will begin in the early afternoon.

The release will begin more than 12 years after the meltdowns of three reactors at the plant that was heavily damaged by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan's northeastern coast on March 11, 2011. Radioactive water — both seeping groundwater and water used to cool the reactors — have accumulated at the site ever since, and TEPCO and the government say the mass quantities of the water have hampered the daunting task of removing the deadly toxic melted debris from the reactors.

“The release of the ... treated water is a significant milestone as part of the huge task of decommissioning,” Matsumoto said, noting the tremendous risks involving the remaining work that still remain.

The final step before the release began Tuesday when just 1 ton of treated water was sent from one of the site's many storage tanks to be diluted with 1,200 tons of seawater, and the mixture was kept in the primary pool for two days for final sampling, Matsumoto said. The tritium levels from those samples were significantly safer than the legally releasable levels, Matsumoto said.


In deadly Maui fires, many had no warning and no way out. Those who dodged a barricade survived

As flames tore through a West Maui neighborhood, car after car of fleeing residents headed for the only paved road out of town in a desperate race for safety.

And car after car was turned back toward the rapidly spreading wildfire by a barricade blocking access to Highway 30.

One family swerved around the barricade and was safe in a nearby town 48 minutes later, another drove their four-wheel-drive car down a dirt road to escape. One man took a dirt road uphill, climbing above the fire and watching as Lahaina burned. He later picked his way through the flames, smoke and rubble to pull survivors to safety.

But dozens of others found themselves caught in a hellscape, their cars jammed together on a narrow road, surrounded by flames on three sides and the rocky ocean waves on the fourth. Some died in their cars, while others tried to run for safety.

“I could see from the bypass that people were stuck on the balconies, so I went down and checked it out,” said Kekoa Lansford, who made several trips into town to look for survivors. What he found was horrible, Lansford said, with dead bodies and flames like a hellish movie scene. “And I could see that people were on fire, that the fire was just being stoked by the wind, and being pushed toward the homes.”


India lands a spacecraft near the moon's south pole, a first for the world as it joins elite club

NEW DELHI (AP) — India became the first country to land a spacecraft near the moon’s south pole on Wednesday — a historic voyage to uncharted territory that scientists believe could hold vital reserves of frozen water, and a technological triumph for the world’s most populous nation.

After a failed attempt to land on the moon in 2019, India now joins the United States, the Soviet Union and China as only the fourth country to achieve this milestone. A lander with a rover inside touched down on the lunar surface at 6:04 p.m. local time, sparking celebrations across India, including in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, where space scientists watching the landing erupted in cheers and applause.

The successful mission showcases India’s rising standing as a technology and space powerhouse and dovetails with the image that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to project: an ascendant country asserting its place among the global elite.

“India is now on the moon. India has reached the south pole of the moon — no other country has achieved that. We are witnessing history,” Modi said as he waved the Indian tri-colored flag while watching the landing from South Africa, where he is participating in the BRICS nations summit.

The lunar rover will slide down a flap from the lander within hours or a day and conduct experiments, including an analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface, said S. Somnath, chairman of the state-run Indian Space Research Organization.


South Carolina's new all-male highest court reverses course on abortion, upholding strict 6-week ban

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s newly all-male Supreme Court reversed course on abortion Wednesday, upholding a law banning most such procedures except in the earliest weeks of pregnancy.

The continued erosion of legal abortion access across the U.S. South comes after Republican state lawmakers replaced the lone woman on the court, Justice Kaye Hearn, who reached the state's mandatory retirement age.

The 4-1 ruling departs from the court’s own decision months earlier striking down a similar ban that the Republican-led Legislature passed in 2021. The latest ban takes effect immediately.

Writing for the new majority, Justice John Kittredge acknowledged that the 2023 law also infringes on “a woman’s right of privacy and bodily autonomy,” but said the state Legislature reasonably determined this time around that those interests don’t outweigh “the interest of the unborn child to live.”

“As a Court, unless we can say that the balance struck by the Legislature was unreasonable as a matter of law, we must uphold the Act,” Kittredge wrote.


At least 1 person is dead and 2 are missing as Tropical Storm Franklin batters Dominican Republic

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Tropical Storm Franklin unleashed heavy floods and landslides in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday after making landfall in the country's southern region, killing at least one person and leaving two others missing.

The storm began to slowly spin away late Wednesday afternoon from the island of Hispaniola that the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti after dumping heavy rain for several hours.

Forecasters warned the storm could drop up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain in the Dominican Republic, with a maximum of 16 inches (41 centimeters) for the country's western and central regions. Meanwhile, up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain are forecast for Haiti, with nearly 8 inches (20 centimeters) for the country's eastern regions.

“The population of the Dominican Republic must all be right now, without exception, in their homes, the homes of friends and family, or in shelters,” said Juan Manuel Méndez, emergency operations director.

The Civil Defense said a man identified as Carlos Marino Martínez died in the city of San Cristobal after being swept away by floodwaters. The agency initially said he was one of its volunteers, but later corrected the information saying it misidentified a uniform he was wearing. They did not provide further details. Two women in that city also were injured following a landslide, officials said.


Oklahoma authorities name the BTK killer as the ‘prime suspect’ in at least two unsolved cases

The BTK serial killer has been named the “prime suspect” in two unsolved killings — one in Oklahoma and another in Missouri — leading authorities to dig this week near his former Kansas property in Park City, authorities announced Wednesday.

Osage County, Oklahoma, Undersheriff Gary Upton told The Associated Press that the investigation into whether Dennis Rader was responsible for additional crimes started with the re-examination last year of the 1976 disappearance of Cynthia Kinney, a 16-year-old cheerleader in Pawhuska. The case, which was investigated on and off over the years, was reopened in December.

Sheriff Eddie Virden told KAKE-TV that a bank was having new alarms installed across the street from the laundromat where Kinney was last seen. Rader was a regional installer for ADT at the time, although the sheriff wasn't able to confirm that Rader installed the systems. He also was involved in Boy Scouts in the area.

Virden said he decided to investigate when he learned that Rader had included the phrase “bad laundry day” in his writings.

Upton, the undersheriff, said the investigation “spiraled out from there” into other unsolved murders and missing persons cases."


What’s going on with Scooter Braun’s artist roster? Here’s what we know and what’s still speculation

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Scooter Braun is one of the most recognizable names in the music business for his singular work as an executive and entrepreneur. He’s managed many of your favorite artists, propelling the likes of Justin Bieber to stratospheric fame, and earned the ire of Taylor Swift and her legions of fans for his business practices.

On Friday, rumors circulated online that Justin Bieber was leaving Braun, his longtime manager — and the man credited with discovering him. In the days that followed, speculation grew, and media outlets began reporting that some of Braun’s other hype-profile clients like Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato were also parting ways with him — all of which has yet to be confirmed.

Braun hasn’t issued a public statement, but did tweet in jest, writing “Breaking news… I’m no longer managing myself.”

As the story continues to unfold, here’s everything we know — and everything we don’t — about what's going with Scooter Braun and his powerful client roster.

Without confirmation from artists, their teams, or Braun himself, changes to Braun’s roster are conjectural. AP reached out to every artist listed as being managed by Braun on the SB Projects website and only heard back from a select few.

The Associated Press