Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 11, 2022

Judge blocks Biden's student-loan forgiveness plan, Pentagon says Russia and Ukraine militaries have both suffered 100,000 casualties, and more

1

Federal judge blocks Biden student-loan forgiveness plan

U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman on Thursday blocked President Biden's student-loan forgiveness plan, which was already on hold as a federal appeals court considers a separate challenge by six states. Pittman, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said Biden overstepped his authority at the expense of Congress' power to make laws. "In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone," Pittman wrote in his ruling. The Job Creators Network Foundation filed the lawsuit in October, challenging the program on behalf of one borrower who wouldn't qualify for the full $20,000 in debt relief, and another who wouldn't be eligible for any of it. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Justice Department had filed an appeal.

2

U.S. military chief says 100,000 Russian soldiers killed or wounded in Ukraine

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley said this week that as many as 200,000 soldiers have been killed or wounded in Ukraine since Russia invaded in February. He said both Russia and Ukraine have probably had more than 100,000 of their personnel killed or wounded. Milley also said about 40,000 civilians have been killed in the war, the highest estimate any U.S. official has given for the civilian toll. "There has been a tremendous amount of suffering," Milley said at a Wednesday night event. The Pentagon did not say how it tallied the war's toll. Russia's Defense Ministry said in September that 5,937 of its soldiers had died in Ukraine.

3

Warnock, Walker resume campaigning ahead of crucial Senate runoff

Democratic Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker started campaign blitzes ahead of a December runoff that could decide which party controls the Senate. Warnock told an Atlanta crowd that Walker was unfit to serve in the Senate, saying he has a "disturbing history pattern of violence against women" and "against his own family." Walker has denied allegations that he threatened an ex-girlfriend in 2012 and pressured two girlfriends to get abortions. He accuses Democrats of trying to smear him. Walker raised $3.3 million on the first day after neither candidate got the 50 percent required to win outright. He raised another $1 million on Thursday. Walker said Warnock "represents Joe Biden," instead of the people of Georgia.

4

Biden to meet in-person with Xi for 1st time since taking office

President Biden will meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday in their first face-to-face talks since Biden took office, the White House announced Thursday. The leaders of the world's two largest economies will meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali. They aren't expected to make any major deals, or even reduce tensions that have escalated between the two nations in recent years. But White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that Biden and Xi would "discuss efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication" between Washington and Beijing, "and work together where our interests align, especially on transnational challenges that affect the international community."

5

Musk warns bankruptcy is a possibility for Twitter 

Elon Musk, who just acquired Twitter in a $44 billion deal, told the social media platform's employees on Thursday that bankruptcy "isn't out of the question" as advertisers leave and the company bleeds cash. Musk's comment, first reported by Platformer's Zoë Schiffer, came during an employee meeting days after Musk ordered layoffs for half of Twitter's 7,500 employees. Musk told workers he had recently sold Tesla stock — securities filings put the shares' value at nearly $4 billion — to "save" Twitter. "Elon has shown that he cares only about recouping the losses he's incurring as a result of failing to get out of his binding obligation to buy Twitter," an employee said in an internal memo obtained by The New York Times.

6

Alex Jones ordered to pay $473 million in punitive damages for Sandy Hook lies

Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis on Thursday ordered right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his media company to pay $473 million in punitive damages for lying about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which he called a hoax meant to stir up support for gun control. Bellis said in her decision that Jones "repeated the conduct and attacks on the plaintiffs for nearly a decade," calling the Infowars founder's repeated unfounded claim that the shooting spree, which left 26 people dead, was staged "cruel" and reprehensible. The punitive damages added to the $965 million a jury awarded eight Sandy Hook families and a first responder in compensatory damages last month. Jones has said he will appeal.

7

Weakening Nicole heads north after damaging Florida beachfront properties

Former hurricane Nicole headed north into Georgia and the Carolinas after causing significant damage on central Florida's east coast. Nicole, downgraded to a tropical storm and later a tropical depression, was blamed for at least two deaths. Storm surge and churning surf carved into beaches already heavily eroded by Hurricane Ian six weeks ago, wrecking piers, caving in condominium pool decks, and washing away beachfront homes. The storm also downed trees and power lines, and washed out low-lying roads, although Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said: "This is obviously not as significant a storm as Hurricane Ian was." Nicole was Florida's first November hurricane in 37 years, and the third on record.

8

South Korea to send Ukraine artillery rounds under deal with U.S.

South Korea will provide Ukraine with 100,000 155mm artillery shells under a confidential deal with the United States, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing U.S. officials familiar with the agreement. The U.S. will pay for the rounds, which will then be delivered to Ukraine. The ammunition is enough to keep Ukrainian artillery units supplied for weeks of fighting, the Journal said. The arrangement will let the U.S. keep Ukraine well armed without dipping deeper into the U.S. stockpile, after earlier resupply efforts left stocks low. U.S. officials say the sale won't undermine South Korea's military readiness at a time of escalating tensions with North Korea.

9

Stocks skyrocket after unexpectedly cool inflation report

U.S. stocks soared on Thursday after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported consumer prices rose less than expected in October. The S&P 500 jumped 5.5 percent, its best day since April 2020. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.7 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq shot up by 7.3 percent. The key inflation gauge showed that prices increased by 7.7 percent in October compared to a year earlier, less than the 7.9 percent analysts had expected, and a significant drop from 8.2 percent in September. The news suggested that the Federal Reserve's aggressive interest-rate hikes were proving effective in cooling the economy and bringing down the highest inflation in decades.

10

NASA confirms debris found on sea floor is part of Challenger 

NASA's Kennedy Space Center announced Thursday that a 15-by-15-foot section of the space shuttle Challenger, which broke apart shortly after liftoff in 1986, has been found in the sand at the bottom of the Atlantic, off the coast of Florida near Cape Canaveral. All seven on board died in the accident, including Christa McAuliffe, the first schoolteacher bound for space. Divers for a documentary film crew found the fragment, which has square tiles that signal it is likely from the shuttle's belly. About 47 percent of the shuttle has been recovered, but this piece, still on the ocean floor, is the first discovered since two fragments from the left wing washed ashore in 1996.

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