Daily briefing

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

Major winter storm wreaks havoc across Western United States, Ukraine launches missile attacks on Russian-occupied cities, and more


Major winter storm wreaks havoc across Western United States

A major winter storm system battered much of the Western United States on Saturday afternoon, with the hazardous conditions set to continue Sunday into Monday. The system brought powerful winds, torrential rain, and up to eight feet of snow across California and Nevada. In California's Sierra Nevada mountain range, highways were shut down as trees toppled across roads and snow blanketed the surrounding areas. More than 250 miles of the mountain range remain under a winter storm advisory until at least Monday, and the interstate from eastern California to the Nevada state line was closed due to whiteout conditions. The storm is expected to travel east starting next week, potentially causing the same problems in areas throughout the Midwest. 


Ukraine launches missile attacks on Russian-occupied city

Ukraine continues to fight back against the invading Russian forces, with the military launching a missile attack on the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine on Saturday. Melitopol's Russian-installed leaders said that at least four missiles had jarred the city, resulting in the deaths of two people and injuring an additional 10. Melitopol's mayor also reported additional explosions at a number of sites in the city. Both Ukrainian and Russian officials confirmed that the city had been attacked, with Russian state media further claiming that Ukraine had launched a barrage of missiles in the Russian-occupied Donetsk People's Republic on Sunday morning. 


Artemis moon mission expected to conclude with ocean splashdown

NASA's historic Artemis moon mission is scheduled to come to an end on Sunday, with the mission's Orion capsule set to splash down in the Pacific Ocean at approximately 12:40 p.m. ET. The uncrewed capsule was the centerpiece of the Artemis I mission, the inaugural mission of the program slated to eventually return mankind to the Moon. The 25-day mission saw Orion pass about 79 miles above the lunar surface in a flyby, and reached its furthest point from Earth at a range of about 270,000 miles. The splashdown will notably occur exactly 50 years to the day that the Apollo program's final moon landing was made. 


Lockerbie bombing suspect reportedly in U.S. custody

One of the prime suspects in the deadly 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, is in custody in the U.S., officials said Sunday. Abu Agila Masud, a Libyan intelligence officer, first had charges against him announced by American prosecutors two years ago. He is accused of making the bomb that caused an explosion to ripple through Pan Am Flight 103, resulting in the deaths of all 259 people on board and an additional 11 on the ground. "Scottish prosecutors and police, working with UK government and US colleagues, will continue to pursue this investigation, with the sole aim of bringing those who acted ... to justice," Scottish officials said. 


Paul Whelan's brother says Biden 'made the right choice' bringing Brittney Griner home

David Whelan, the brother of detained American Paul Whelan, said that President Biden "made the right choice" by bringing detained WNBA star Brittney Griner home from Russia in a prisoner exchange. In an interview Saturday with MSNBC, Whelan said that he stood behind the president's decision to negotiate for Griner's release, adding that Biden is "100 percent engaged on bringing Paul home." Whelan added that his family was aware that his brother would not be part of the prisoner exchange. "This is all about extortion. Paul was taken as a political prisoner and Russia is trying to extort something from the U.S.," Whelan told MSNBC. 


Nobel Peace Prize winner decries Russian invasion of Ukraine

A Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner on Saturday heavily criticized the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine during his acceptance speech. Yan Rachinsky, a co-laureate accepting the Prize on behalf of his organization, Russian civil rights group Memorial, lambasted Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression toward Ukraine. Rachinksy said Russia's war would continue to "sow death and destruction on Ukrainian soil," adding that the invasion was an "insane and criminal war of aggression against Ukraine." Though Rachinksy was reportedly warned by Russian authorities not to accept the award, he told BBC News that he wanted to do so in solidarity with those that have been killed. 


Scientists lower alert level for Mauna Loa as eruption cools

In a sign that the worst may be over, Hawaiian scientists on Saturday lowered the alert level for the erupting volcano Mauna Loa, adding that the eruption would likely come to an end soon. The largest volcano on Earth, Mauna Loa began erupting for the first time in nearly four decades at the end of November, spewing molten rock and ash into the sky and causing concerns that a major thoroughfare on Hawaii's Big Island could be completely cut off. However, scientists have since alleviated those fears, and the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement, "High eruption rates will not resume based on past eruptive behavior and current behavior suggests that the eruption may end soon."


USC's Caleb Williams wins Heisman Trophy

Caleb Williams, the star quarterback for the USC Trojans, was awarded the Heisman Trophy, college football's top solo prize, on Saturday. Williams beat out Georgia's Stetson Bennett, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, and TCU's Max Duggan for the accolade. Williams' win caps off a meteoric rise for the 20-year-old, who just 14 months ago was a freshman backup at the University of Oklahoma looking to spark his team's offense. He would transfer to Southern California in November 2021, and helped turn USC's fortunes around, following up a 4-8 season with an 11-win campaign. 


Dorothy Pitman Hughes, pioneering Black feminist, dead at 84

Dorothy Pitman Hughes, one of America's earliest African-American feminist icons, has passed away at the age of 84. Her funeral home confirmed that Hughes died on Dec. 1 at her home in Tampa, Florida, with her daughter saying the cause of death was old age. Hughes became one of the country's pioneering Black feminists, and made a name for herself touring the United States with activist Gloria Steinem in the 1970s. She would co-found the feminist Ms. magazine with Steinem, and over the decades became one of the most well-known champions of her cause in the country. 


Slew of celebrities named in NFT lawsuit, including Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart

A number of high-profile celebrities have been named in a class-action lawsuit against an NFT brand. The lawsuit alleges that Yuga Labs, the parent company of NFT series Bored Ape Yacht Club, conspired with these celebrities to defraud potential cryptocurrency investors. The class-action suit names 37 defendants, including, among others, Kevin Hart, Jimmy Fallon, Serena Williams, Madonna, Justin Bieber, Gwenyth Paltrow, Snoop Dogg, and many more. The suit is seeking at least $5 million in damages for the plaintiffs. In a statement to Variety, Yuga Labs said, "In our view, these claims are opportunistic and parasitic. We strongly believe that they are without merit."


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