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10 things you need to know today: January 11, 2023

House Republicans form panel to investigate 'weaponization' of government, Biden 'surprised' to learn of classified files at his former office, and more


House Republicans approve inquiry of 'weaponization' of government

House Republicans on Tuesday pushed through a plan for a new House subcommittee to investigate what GOP lawmakers called the "weaponization" of federal agencies. House Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said the Justice Department, especially the FBI, has "ridiculed conservative Americans." The subcommittee, part of Jordan's committee, will have access to sensitive intelligence and the power to oversee criminal investigations as the Justice Department continues to examine former President Donald Trump's effort to reverse his 2020 election loss. Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-N.Y.) said "the primary purpose of this special subcommittee is to interfere with the special counsel's ongoing investigation into a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election. This is a shocking abuse of power."


Biden 'surprised' to learn classified files found at his former office

President Biden said Tuesday he was "surprised" to learn about potentially classified documents found in a Washington office he once used, and didn't know what was in them. A source familiar with the matter said the 10 documents included U.S. intelligence memos and briefing materials on subjects including Ukraine and Iran, CNN reported. The papers are dated 2013 to 2016, when Biden was serving as vice president under then-President Barack Obama. The material was found in a locked closet in boxes that also contained unclassified documents. Biden's personal attorneys found the papers and gave them to the National Archives. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the discovery showed that the Justice Department's seizure of government records from former President Donald Trump was "political."


Brazilian protesters: 'No Amnesty!' for rioters

Thousands of Brazilians demonstrated in the streets of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo on Tuesday, demanding tough punishment for supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro who stormed Brazil's capital Sunday. "No amnesty! No amnesty! No amnesty!" shouted backers of the government of newly elected President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula. The chant was a reminder of a controversial amnesty law that protected military members for crimes during Brazil's 1964-85 dictatorship. More than 1,000 Bolsonaro supporters were detained over the riot. Hundreds have been released. Also on Tuesday, a Brazilian Supreme Court justice ordered the arrest of two security officials in the capital. Lula and some justices accuse police of colluding with rioters.


Death toll rises in California's winter storms

The death toll from back-to-back violent winter storms continuing to batter parts of California rose to at least 17 on Tuesday, including two motorists who died early in the day when a tree struck by lightning fell onto Highway 99 in Tulare County. The latest storm hit an already soaked Northern California with heavy rain, wind, and hail, threatening the region with more dangerous floods. "These floods are deadly and have now turned to be more deadly than even the wildfires here in the state of California," Gov. Gavin Newsom said over the weekend. Damage from the string of storms could exceed $1 billion, according to applied climatologist and disaster expert Adam Smith of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Former Trump executive Allen Weisselberg sentenced to 5 months for tax crimes

A New York state court judge on Tuesday sentenced Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of former President Donald Trump's family real estate business, to five months in jail for his role in a five-year tax fraud scheme at the company. He will leave the firm after his release. Weisselberg, 75, pleaded guilty to helping the Trump Organization dodge taxes by giving himself and other executives luxury perks as part of their compensation. Weisselberg then appeared as the prosecution's star witness at the company's trial, which led to the company's conviction last year. Weisselberg's lawyer had asked for a lighter sentence, citing Weisselberg's age and frail health. Judge Juan Merchan rejected the request, saying the evidence justified a much longer sentence.


Ukrainians to train in Patriot missile use at U.S. base

U.S. officials said Tuesday that the Pentagon would train Ukrainian troops to use the Patriot missile system at a military base in the United States, CNN reported. The Ukrainian soldiers could arrive as early as next week. The training program will be conducted over "several months" at Oklahoma's Fort Sill, said Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. President Biden announced in December that the U.S. would send Ukraine the Patriot missile system after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington, D.C. The U.S. had resisted Kyiv's pleas for the system, but relented and agreed to send one Patriot battery due to the "reality of what is going on," a senior administration official told CNN.


World Bank forecasts high risk of global recession in 2023

The World Bank on Tuesday forecast that the global economy would slip into a recession in 2023. If that happens, it will be the first time since the 1930s that two recessions have hit in the same decade. The first recession occurred in 2020, when the global economy shrank 3.2 percent early in the coronavirus pandemic. Growth returned in 2021, but central bank interest rate hikes and Russia's war in Ukraine have dragged growth down again. The World Bank forecasts overall 1.7 percent growth this year, with developing countries hit hardest by the slowdown. The expansion will pick up in 2024, with 2.7 percent growth. The World Bank expects the U.S. economy to expand by just 0.5 percent in 2023.


Democratic Rep. Katie Porter announces run for California Senate seat

Democratic Rep. Katie Porter (Calif.) announced on Tuesday that she would be running for a California U.S. Senate seat in 2024, vowing to "stand up to special interests, fight the dangerous imbalance in our economy, and hold so-called leaders like Mitch McConnell accountable for rigging our democracy." Porter, a former law professor and rising star among progressives since she flipped her historically red Orange County congressional seat in 2018, hopes to replace current Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who at 89 is the oldest member of the chamber. Feinstein, long alleged to have bouts of age-related forgetfulness and confusion, has not said whether she plans to retire at the end of her term.


Televised Golden Globes award ceremony returns after diversity controversy

The Golden Globes returned to primetime TV on Tuesday after last year's event was held in private due to a controversy over a lack of diversity within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Steven Spielberg's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film The Fabelmans won best drama and best director. The Banshees of Inisherin won best comedy/musical, screenplay, and best comedy actor for Colin Farrell. Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan received the Golden Globes for lead comedy actress and supporting actor wins, respectively, for their roles in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Austin Butler (Elvis) and Cate Blanchett (Tár) took top drama acting prizes. House of the Dragon won best TV drama. Abbott Elementary took the award for best TV comedy.


Cardinal George Pell, jailed then acquitted of sex abuse, dies at 81

Cardinal George Pell, a former Vatican finance chief for Pope Francis and the highest ranking Catholic prelate ever charged with sexually abusing children, died Tuesday in Rome. He was 81. The cause of death was heart complications after hip surgery, Peter Comensoli, one of his successors as archbishop of Melbourne, Australia, said. Cardinal Pell spent three years as the Holy See's first-ever finance czar but left the job in 2017 to return to Australia and try to clear his name after being accused of sexually assaulting two teenage choirboys when he was archbishop. A jury initially convicted him. He spent more than a year in solitary confinement before his conviction was overturned by a top Australian court in 2020.


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