10 things you need to know today: December 16, 2015

Bush leads attacks on Trump in GOP debate, L.A. to reopen schools after hoax terror threat, and more

Fight night in Vegas.
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

1. Bush leads charge against Trump in GOP debate

Jeb Bush led other GOP presidential candidates at Tuesday's primetime debate in an attack on frontrunner Donald Trump over his call to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. Bush said Trump was basing his campaign on fearmongering, insults, and chaos. "Oh yeah, and you're a tough guy, Bush," Trump replied. Sen. Marco Rubio also came under fire, with Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been rising in polls, questioning his conservative credentials, particularly on immigration. Sen. Lindsey Graham stood out in the undercard debate of low-polling candidates, unleashing a stream of quips, including a plea for Trump to just stop talking.

2. L.A. schools to reopen after apparent terror-threat hoax

The Los Angeles Unified School District — the nation's second largest school system — canceled all classes on Tuesday due to a terror threat. Classes were set to resume for the district's 640,000 students on Wednesday, after investigators determined the threat was a hoax. A person sent an email to the school board making a wide range of threats, and claiming to be "an extremist Muslim who has teamed up with local jihadists," according to a local congressman. New York City officials dismissed a similar threat and investigated it as a hoax.

Los Angeles Times

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3. Ryan announces 2016 spending deal to avoid a government shutdown

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said late Tuesday that congressional leaders have reached a $1.15 trillion spending agreement to fund the federal government in fiscal 2016. The House is expected to vote on the legislation, and a paired tax bill, on Thursday, and the Senate could clear the combined bills on Friday, avoiding a government shutdown. Democrats are still looking over the deal and haven't said if they will support it. Ryan said neither side got everything it wanted, but "that's the nature of compromises in divided government."

USA Today

4. Kerry says "regime change" not the goal in Syria after meeting with Putin

Secretary of State John Kerry met Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow for talks on finding a solution to Syria's civil war. Kerry emerged saying the U.S. and its allies are "not seeking so-called regime change," signaling acceptance of Putin's insistence that Syrians determine President Bashar al-Assad's future. Both the U.S. and Russia are now waging air campaigns that are supposed to target the Islamic State, while the U.S. backs anti-government rebels and Russia backs Assad.

ABC News The Boston Globe

5. Energy stocks rise as Fed begins meeting

Energy stocks led a market rally on Tuesday as Federal Reserve policymakers opened a two-day meeting at which they are expected to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006. Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil gained more than 3.8 percent. The S&P 500 rose by 1.1 percent, advancing for a second straight day for the first time in more than a month. The Fed will make a policy statement on Wednesday, potentially ending months of speculation on when the economy will be strong enough for rates to begin rising from near zero.

Bloomberg

6. Arctic temperatures rise to hottest in 115 years

The Arctic has heated up to its hottest since records began in 1900, according to the 2015 Arctic Report Card, a global scientific report released Tuesday. Air temperatures in the region, now 2.3 degrees F above normal, are rising at more than twice the rate of the rest of the world, melting ice sheets. "We know this is due to climate change, and its impacts are creating major challenges for Arctic communities," said Rick Spinrad, chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which issues the study.

CBS News

7. Yemen and rebels agree to prisoner swap, ceasefire, to give peace talks a chance

Yemen's warring sides agreed to exchange hundreds of prisoners on Wednesday as a show of good faith in U.N.-mediated peace talks. Yemeni government and Houthi rebels called an immediate ceasefire on Tuesday as they kicked off the talks in Switzerland. The Saudi-led coalition backing President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen in the fight against the rebels hours earlier had announced a seven-day pause to its airstrikes.

Reuters The New York Times

8. French far-right leader acquitted on hate-speech charges

A French court on Tuesday acquitted far-right leader Marine Le Pen of hate-speech charges. Le Pen, now president of the anti-immigrant National Front, was accused of inciting religious hatred against Muslims for comments she made in 2010, when she compared Muslims praying in the street to Germany's occupation of France in World War II. Anti-racism and Muslim-rights groups filed complaints, but prosecutors recommended acquittal, saying Le Pen was exercising free speech. Le Pen tweeted after the ruling that the "slanderers" owed her an apology.

The New York Times

9. Judge tells deadlocked jurors to keep deliberating in Freddie Gray case

Jurors deadlocked Tuesday in the trial of Baltimore police Officer William Porter for his involvement in the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a spinal injury in a police van and died in police custody. Judge Barry Williams ordered them to continue deliberating. Porter is the first of six officers charged to go on trial in the case, which sparked protests and unrest. Porter faces several charges, including manslaughter, for failing to secure Gray in a seat belt or call for a medic when Gray asked.

The Baltimore Sun

10. Disney shares rise on anticipation of another Star Wars blockbuster

Disney stock shot up by 3.75 percent on Tuesday after the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, drew early praise following its lavish Hollywood premiere on Monday. Shares of Electronic Arts, which recently launched a new Star Wars video game, rose by 5.26 percent. The film opens in some countries on Wednesday, and officially debuts in the U.S. on Friday. It already has smashed records for early ticket sales, and industry analysts say it could gross $2.8 billion worldwide. Movie-theater chain stocks also rose.

Reuters

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