Ian continues as tropical storm; Russia annexing parts of Ukraine; Judge blasts 61st; rapper Coolio dies | Hot off the Wire podcast

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Hurricane Ian has left a path of destruction in southwest Florida, trapping people in flooded homes and knocking out power to 2.5 million people. It’s now aiming for the Atlantic Coast as a tropical storm.

Russia has confirmed it will formally annex four parts of Ukraine where occupied areas held a Kremlin-orchestrated “referendum” on living under Moscow’s rule that the Ukrainian government and the West denounced as illegal and rigged.

Three Russian cosmonauts returned safely from a mission to the International Space Station. The Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft carrying Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov touched down softly on time at a designated site in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

The body of a famed U.S. extreme skier who fell from the world’s eighth-highest mountain has been recovered. Hilaree Nelson was skiing down from the summit of Mount Manaslu with her partner on Monday when she fell.

President Joe Biden sought out a deceased congresswoman during his remarks at a hunger conference Wednesday. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later said Rep. Jackie Walorski was “top of mind” to Biden when he called out “Where’s Jackie?”

In sports, Aaron Judge owns a piece of baseball history, the Mets regained sole possession of first place in the NL East and the Brewers moved closer to a playoff slot.

Coolio, the rapper who was among hip-hop’s biggest names of the 1990s with hits including “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” has died. Manager Jarez Posey tells The Associated Press that Coolio, whose legal name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr., died at the Los Angeles home of a friend on Wednesday. Coolio was 59.

Earlier update

Hurricane Ian has made landfall in southwestern Florida as a massive Category 4 storm. About 2.5 million people had been ordered to evacuate the area before the storm hit the coast on Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph.

The storm was heading inland, where it was expected to weaken, but residents in central Florida could still experience hurricane-force winds. Before making its way through the Gulf of Mexico to hit Florida, Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba as a major hurricane Tuesday, killing two people and bringing down the country’s electrical grid.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has visited the site of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp to send a message against hatred. The “Terminator” actor and former California governor was given a tour of the site, where he viewed barracks, watchtowers and the remains of gas chambers that endure as evidence of the German extermination of Jews and others during World War II.

A published report indicates Saudi-funded LIV Golf might be close to a TV deal. Golfweek is citing sources as saying LIV Golf is nearing an agreement to buy time with FS1.

Katie Couric says she was diagnosed with breast cancer on the first day of summer, and since has undergone surgery and radiation treatment. The 65-year-old media personality memorably underwent screening for colon cancer on the “Today” show in 2000, two years after her first husband died of the disease at age 41.

Clergy in 33 states are exempt from laws requiring professionals such as teachers, physicians and psychotherapists to report information about alleged child abuse to police or child welfare officials. An Associated Press review found that over the past two decades, more than 130 bills have been proposed in state legislatures to create or amend child sex abuse reporting laws. After intense opposition from religious groups, the clergy privilege remained unchanged.

For more than half a century, ABC, CBS and NBC have aired evening newscasts each weeknight on television. This fall, the competition has spread to another medium. With the launch of “CBS News Prime Time” with John Dickerson a few weeks ago, all three networks are now also streaming competing evening newscasts.

Pumpkin farmers are adapting to changing conditions and trying to lower the carbon footprint of their crops.