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10 things you need to know today: December 14, 2022

Biden signs law protecting same-sex and interracial marriages, congressional negotiators reach a spending 'framework' to avert a shutdown, and more


Biden signs law protecting same-sex and interracial marriages

President Biden on Tuesday signed a bipartisan bill protecting same-sex and interracial marriages, celebrating the historic legislation in a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. The Respect for Marriage Act enshrines federal protections for same-sex couples, requiring all states to recognize marriages that were legal in the states where they took place. In 2004, just 42 percent of Americans said in a Gallup poll that they supported same-sex marriage, but an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll to be released Thursday indicates the figure has risen to 68 percent. "The road for the moment has been long, but those who believe in equality and justice, you never gave up," Biden said.


House, Senate negotiators reach tentative deal to avert shutdown

Congressional negotiators on Tuesday reached a deal on keeping the government funded and avoiding a looming partial government shutdown. Appropriators have "reached a bipartisan, bicameral framework" that should lead to an omnibus appropriations bill that can pass the House and Senate, retiring Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement. The House on Wednesday could approve a week-long stopgap to keep federal agencies funded through Dec. 23, giving lawmakers time to hammer out details and pass a $1.7 trillion bipartisan appropriations bill before Christmas break. Republicans and Democrats have agreed on $858 billion in military spending, up from $782 billion in fiscal 2022, but Democrats want $26 billion more than Republicans do in non-defense spending.


Consumer prices increased less than expected last month

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that consumer prices rose in November at an annual rate of 7.1 percent, less than the 7.3 percent expected, and down sharply from October's 7.7 percent pace and June's 9.1 percent peak, the highest rate in four decades. Last month's inflation rate was the slowest 12-month pace since December 2021, but still far above the 2.1 percent average. The Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates aggressively to cool the economy and bring down inflation. The Fed is expected to hike rates 0.5 percent Wednesday at the end of a two-day meeting, after four consecutive 0.75 percent increases. President Biden seized upon the latest figures, calling them proof that his policies are stabilizing the economy.


Researchers announce fusion energy breakthrough

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced Tuesday that they had produced the first fusion reaction that created more energy than was used to start it. The experiment marked a major breakthrough in harnessing the process that fuels the sun. "This milestone moves us one significant step closer" to "powering our society" with zero-carbon fusion energy, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said. Fusion involves pushing hydrogen atoms together with enough force to make them combine into helium, releasing huge amounts of energy and heat without the radioactive waste of other nuclear reactions. The commercial use of fusion energy remains far off. President Biden said the milestone demonstrated the need to invest in more research.


Prosecutors accuse FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried of fraud

U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday accused disgraced FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried of fraud and violating campaign finance laws in what U.S. attorney Damian Williams in New York called one of the "biggest financial frauds in American history." The collapsed cryptocurrency exchange's current CEO, John Ray, told House lawmakers on Tuesday that FTX lost $8 billion of client money after placing "absolute concentration of control in the hands of a small group of grossly inexperienced, nonsophisticated individuals." Bankman-Fried made a court appearance Tuesday in the Bahamas, where FTX is based. He was arrested there on Monday. A Bahamian magistrate judge denied him bail after prosecutors argued the former billionaire was a flight risk as he plans to fight extradition to the United States. 


Ukraine shoots down Russian drones attacking Kyiv

Ukrainian air defenses shot down a wave of armed drones in Russia's latest attack on the capital city of Kyiv on Wednesday morning. Ukraine said it downed all 13 of the Iranian-made Shahed drones that Russia launched on Wednesday, but debris hit a government facility and several apartment buildings. No injuries were reported. Russia has been attacking Ukraine's power plants and other energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October. "The air defense system is operating. It's important now to stay in shelters and safe places," Kyiv governor Oleksiy Kuleba said. "Russia is continuing its energy terror against our country. But we are getting stronger daily."


Winter storm brings tornadoes, blizzard conditions to central U.S.

A powerful winter storm is continuing to hit parts of the central United States with blizzard conditions, after spawning tornadoes Tuesday in parts of Oklahoma and Texas. The violent weather damaged dozens of homes and injured at least five people. The line of thunderstorms that brought the tornadoes also hit parts of Oklahoma and North Texas with damaging winds, hail, and heavy rain, National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Bradshaw said. An area from Montana to western Nebraska and Colorado remained under blizzard warnings. The National Weather Service warned that parts of western South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska could get up to two feet of snow. 


Louisville settles lawsuits filed by Breonna Taylor's boyfriend

The city of Louisville, Kentucky, has agreed to pay the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed in a botched police raid on her apartment, $2 million to settle two lawsuits over her death, his lawyers said. The boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was with Taylor in her apartment when police officers burst in under a no-knock warrant. Believing the officers were intruders, Walker fired one shot from a legal handgun, hitting one of the officers. The police returned fire, hitting Taylor several times and killing her. One of Walker's attorneys, Steve Romines, said in a statement that Taylor's death "will haunt Kenny for the rest of his life." 


Argentina defeats Croatia to advance to World Cup final

Argentina beat Croatia in a World Cup semifinal in Qatar on Tuesday, earning a shot at its first world soccer championship since 1986. The South American powerhouse beat Croatia, the 2018 runner-up, 3-0 to advance to the World Cup finals for the sixth time. Argentina will play France or Morocco in Sunday's final. Those teams square off in the other semifinal on Wednesday. Argentine star Lionel Messi put his team ahead with a first-half penalty kick, then Julián Álvarez, who was 6 years old when Messi played in his first World Cup game, added another goal five minutes later. Álvarez scored the final goal on a Messi assist. Argentina is now 6-0 in World Cup semifinals. It won World Cups in 1978 and 1986.


Last Hawaiian princess, Abigail Kawananakoa, dies at 96

Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa, the last "Hawaiian princess" and one of the final living descendants of Hawaii's bygone royal family, has died, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. She was 96. Her death was announced on Monday outside of the 'Iolani Palace in Honolulu. The only royal palace on American soil, the mansion was once home to the Hawaiian monarchs but is now a museum. In a news release shared by Hawaii News Now, palace officials said Kawānanakoa had passed away on Sunday. Her wife, Veronica Gail Kawānanakoa, was by her side when she died. "Abigail will be remembered for her love of Hawai'i and its people," her wife said. "I will miss her with all of my heart."


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