Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 6, 2022

The Kremlin says Ukrainian drones struck two bases in Russia, Election Day arrives in Georgia's high-stakes Senate runoff, and more

1

Kremlin says Ukrainian drones hit two Russian air bases

Ukrainian drones struck two Russian air bases hundreds of miles inside the country, the Kremlin said Monday. Russia's defense ministry said three of its service members were killed in a strike at a base in Ryazan, southeast of Moscow. The other facility, the Engels-2 air base near the southwestern city of Saratov, houses Russian strategic bombers and has served as a launch point for attacks on Ukraine's power grid. Ukraine didn't confirm it was responsible, but Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted: "If something is launched into other countries' airspace, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to departure point." Shortly after the attacks, Russia launched more airstrikes into Ukraine.

2

Polls open in Georgia Senate runoff after final plea for big turnout

Polls open Tuesday morning in Georgia's Senate runoff election. Democrats and Republicans spent Monday making a final push to encourage voter turnout. Some county officials warned wait times at the polls could be significant, after some people in the Atlanta area and other spots had to wait two hours to cast in-person ballots in November, when Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) led Republican challenger Herschel Walker but fell short of the 50 percent needed to win outright. Warnock maintained a slight lead in the last polls, but he made a final campaign swing through Atlanta telling supporters not to get complacent. "I want you to vote like it's an emergency," he told Georgia Tech students.

3

SCOTUS hears arguments on web designer's refusal of gay-wedding jobs

The Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case involving a Christian website designer's claim she has a free-speech right to refuse service to same-sex couples preparing to get married. Conservative justices' questions suggested they were inclined to side with the web designer, Lorie Smith, who says she won't work for same-sex couples because gay marriage goes against her Christian faith. "She is willing to sell to everyone, but she won't do a website that celebrates something that offends her religious beliefs," said Justice Neil Gorsuch, a member of the 6-3 conservative super-majority. The court's three liberal justices argued against blanket exemptions for such a refusal to work for same-sex couples.

4

Iran protesters start 3 days of strikes

Iranian protesters launched three days of nationwide strikes on Monday, ratcheting up pressure on the government even after a senior official said the country's feared morality police had been shut down. The morality police's activities sparked months of protests after some of its agents detained 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for allegedly improper attire, and she died in police custody. Activists dismissed suggestions that the government was dismantling the police unit for good, and called for escalating the protests. At least 470 people have been killed and about 18,000 arrested in a crackdown by security forces since the anti-government demonstrations began.

5

Arizona certifies election results after GOP complaints

Arizona officials on Monday certified the state's November midterm election results despite unfounded claims by some Republicans vowing to fight the results in court. The approval of the state's vote canvass made the winners official in races for governor, senator, and other high-profile offices. Some Republican candidates and local election officials had argued that printer malfunctions in the state's most populous county disenfranchised some voters, an allegation state election officials denied. "Arizona had a successful election," said Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), who is now the state's governor-elect, after meeting to canvass with Gov. Doug Ducey (R), state Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), and Arizona Supreme Court Justice Robert Brutinel.

6

Lawyer Michael Avenatti sentenced to 14 years for stealing from clients

U.S. District Judge James Selna on Monday sentenced disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti to 14 years in prison for tax evasion and stealing millions of dollars from four clients. The judge also ordered Avenatti to pay nearly $11 million in restitution to the clients and the Internal Revenue Service. Avenatti pleaded guilty earlier this year to wire fraud, and trying to obstruct IRS efforts to collect $5 million in unpaid payroll taxes for a business he co-owned, Tully's Coffee. "Michael Avenatti was a corrupt lawyer who claimed he was fighting for the little guy. In fact, he only cared about his own selfish interests," U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement after the sentencing. Dean Steward, an attorney for Avenatti, told CNN the sentence "was overly harsh."

7

Hertz agrees to pay $168 million to settle false theft claims

Rental car giant Hertz Global Holdings announced Monday it had agreed to pay $168 million to settle claims that it falsely reported its customers for theft after they legally rented. In a statement, Hertz said it would settle 364 claims, resolving "more than 95 percent" of the disputes. CBS News first reported in February that the rental car company was facing hundreds of lawsuits from customers who claimed to have been falsely arrested for auto theft after Hertz reported they stole their rental car. Some customers said they were arrested and prosecuted for stealing cars because Hertz was unable to find its own vehicles after the renters returned them. Others blamed the mistaken theft reports on confusion about payments, rental extensions, or returns.

8

DHS delays Real ID requirement for 2 more years

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it was delaying a requirement for U.S. air travelers to obtain a Real ID driver's license or identification card, pushing the deadline back two years to begin May 7, 2025. Before the announcement, the rule was set to take effect in May 2023. Postponing enforcement will give state motor vehicle departments more time to distribute the identification cards before travelers will have to present them to board domestic flights. The law requiring the cards was passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and was initially set to take effect in 2008. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas promised that DHS would "continue to ensure that the American public can travel safely" in the meantime.

9

Report: Chinese state-backed hackers stole millions in COVID relief

A U.S. Secret Service investigation concluded that hackers linked to the Chinese government stole at least $20 million in COVID-19 relief benefits from the United States, NBC News reported Monday. This marks the first case of pandemic fraud that has been tied to state-sponsored, foreign cybercriminals, according to NBC. The Secret Service said a Chengdu-based hacking group called APT41 was behind the theft. It allegedly stole numerous funds from Small Business Administration loans and unemployment insurance funds. While the Secret Service was able to verify the fraud occurring in at least a dozen states, agency officials told NBC News that the hacking by APT41 was likely on a much larger scale. 

10

'Cheers' star Kirstie Alley dies at 71

Kirstie Alley, who starred in Cheers, Veronica's Closet, Look Who's Talking, and Drop Dead Gorgeous, died Monday of cancer, her children announced. She was 71. Alley joined Cheers, portraying bar manager Rebecca Howe, in 1987 at the height of the NBC sitcom's popularity. She stayed through the final episode in 1993, winning an Emmy for best lead actress in a comedy series in 1991. She won a second Emmy, for best lead actress in a miniseries, two years later for the title role in the CBS TV movie David's Mother. "As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother," her children said in a statement.

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