10 things you need to know today: January 4, 2023
Republicans scramble as hardliners block McCarthy's bid to be House speaker, Russia raises Ukraine missile strike death toll, and more
Hardliners block McCarthy bid to become House speaker
Former House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday became the first majority party nominee for House speaker in 100 years to fail to win the powerful position on the initial vote. McCarthy, facing stubborn opposition from a handful of conservatives, needed 218 votes to win the gavel, but got just 203 in the first two rounds of voting, fewer than Democratic leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). Before the second vote, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) urged the six colleagues who voted for him in the first round to unite behind McCarthy, only to get even more votes in the second round. The House adjourned after McCarthy lost another vote in the third ballot, and will hold a fourth round Wednesday.
Russia raises death toll in Ukraine missile strike to 89 soldiers
Russia's defense ministry on Wednesday raised the reported death toll from a missile strike on a temporary barracks in an occupied city in Ukraine's Donetsk region to 89 soldiers, up from 63. Russian military officials blamed its troops' illegal mobile phone use for Ukraine's ability to target the building at a former vocational college in Makiiva, twin city of the regional capital. The New Year's Eve strike was the deadliest Russia has suffered since invading Ukraine in February. The incident has stoked angry criticism of the war effort within Russia. The Russian defense ministry said it would continue investigating the attack.
FDA rule allows pharmacies to dispense abortion pill
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday quietly finalized a rule change allowing retail pharmacies to dispense the abortion pill mifepristone. The drug must be prescribed by a certified health-care provider, and the pharmacies must meet certain requirements. Mifepristone, taken with the drug misoprostol to terminate pregnancies in the first trimester, was previously available only at specialty clinics and from certain mail-order pharmacies. Abortion pills are used in more than half of U.S. pregnancy terminations already. Demand has risen since the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision's protection of abortion rights last year, and conservative states adopted tougher abortion restrictions.
Forecasters warn Northern California faces 'truly brutal' storm
The National Weather Service is warning that Northern California will face "a truly brutal" storm system on Wednesday. The NWS said the event "needs to be taken seriously." This "will likely be one of the most impactful systems on a widespread scale that this meteorologist has seen in a long while. The impacts will include widespread flooding, roads washing out, hillside collapsing, trees down [potentially full groves], widespread power outages, immediate disruption to commerce, and the worst of all, likely loss of human life," the weather service said. Over the weekend, a powerful storm hit Northern California, causing severe flooding in San Francisco. The new system is expected to bring the area more rain through Friday.
Supporters donate millions to injured Bills player Damar Hamlin's community fundraiser
Fans swamped Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin's online toy drive with donations on Tuesday as he remained in critical condition after suffering cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday. Before Hamlin collapsed after a hit and a medical team restarted his heart on the field, the fundraiser had brought in a few thousand dollars. The total was approaching $6 million early Wednesday. Hamlin started the GoFundMe in December 2020 to support a toy drive in his community. "We all pray for two things," one donor wrote. "Your speedy recovery and that your impact to the world is enhanced by your go fund me." The NFL said the suspended game would not resume this week.
Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to FTX charges
Disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and other financial crimes at his collapsed cryptocurrency exchange. Bankman-Fried, 30, returned to New York to enter the plea two weeks after being released on $250 million bond and ordered to stay at his parents' home in Palo Alto, California. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan set Bankman-Fried's trial date for Oct. 2, The New York Times reported. Bankman-Fried was arrested on Dec. 12 in the Bahamas, where FTX was based before it filed for bankruptcy protection in November. He was extradited days later to face an eight-count indictment accusing him of defrauding lenders and using billions in customers' money to buy Bahamas real estate and cryptocurrencies, and make big campaign donations.
Suspect waives extradition from Pennsylvania to face charges in Idaho murders
Bryan Kohberger, the suspect in the grisly November slaying of four University of Idaho students, on Tuesday waived extradition from Pennsylvania, his home state. The move had been expected after his state-appointed attorney said his client was likely to agree to be transferred to Idaho. Kohberger, 28, was arrested Friday after police found a white Hyundai Elantra at Kohberger's parents' house that Idaho authorities believe was linked to the killings. Kohberger was a criminal justice grad student at Washington State University, near the town of Moscow, Idaho, where the murders occurred. Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Chief Public Defender Jason LaBar told NBC's Today show Kohberger "believes he's going to be exonerated."
Suspect changes plea to guilty in deadly New York subway shooting
Frank James, 63, pleaded guilty Tuesday to terrorism and weapons charges in connection with an April attack in the New York subway that left 10 people dead. The attacker set off smoke bombs on a crowded train, then opened fire in one of the deadliest attacks ever in the city transit system. James had initially pleaded not guilty in May, but last month his lawyers requested a new hearing so he could change his plea. New York City police linked James to the attack after finding keys to a rented U-Haul at the scene of the murders, then arrested him 30 hours later in Manhattan's East Village neighborhood after a massive manhunt.
Fans line streets during soccer legend Pelé's funeral in Brazil
Thousands of fans lined the streets of Santos, Brazil, on Tuesday to pay their final respects to soccer great Pelé as his funeral procession passed. The procession started at Urbano Caldeira Stadium, home of Pelé's former club Santos, and ended at the Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica cemetery, where the three-time World Cup winner was laid to rest. Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Pelé's real name – died on Thursday at age 82 after a fight with colon cancer. The South American nation's newly sworn-in president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was among the hundreds of thousands who visited the stadium before the funeral. "It's an irreparable loss for Brazil," Lula said.
Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham dies at 90
Walter Cunningham, the last surviving astronaut from NASA's first successful crewed Apollo mission, died Tuesday in Houston. He was 90. The space agency and Cunningham's wife, Dot Cunningham, did not immediately comment, or reveal the cause of death. Cunningham was one of three astronauts who orbited Earth on the 11-day Apollo 7 mission in 1968, a key step toward landing astronauts on the moon. Cunningham, the lunar module pilot, flew with Navy Capt. Walter Schirra and Air Force Major Donn Eisele. The mission launched from Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Florida, and splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean south of Bermuda. The next mission, Apollo 8, orbited the moon, and Apollo 11 put the first astronauts on the lunar surface in July 1969.