Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 23, 2022

The Jan. 6 committee releases its final report, the Senate passes a $1.7 trillion spending deal to avert a government shutdown, and more


House Jan. 6 committee recommends barring Trump from office in final report

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack released its final report on Thursday, concluding that then-President Donald Trump incited the insurrection with the false claim the 2020 election was stolen, and recommending that Congress consider barring him from holding public office again. The 845-page report is based on 1,000-plus interviews and a massive collection of documents compiled during a year-and-half-long investigation. "That evidence has led to an overriding and straightforward conclusion: the central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed. None of the events of Jan. 6th would have happened without him," the report said. Trump said on his social media platform, Truth Social, the report was "highly partisan."


Senate passes massive $1.7 trillion spending bill

The Senate on Thursday approved the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending deal ahead of a weekend deadline to avert a partial government shutdown. The Senate passed the bill, which will keep federal agencies funded through the 2023 fiscal year ending Sept. 30, in a 68-29 vote after a delay by Republican senators who tried to include a provision preserving the Trump-era Title 42 immigration policy. The House is expected to provide final approval on Friday. The deal includes an increase in defense spending, an increase in domestic spending, which Democrats wanted, and $45 billion in aid for Ukraine. "The range of people it helps is large indeed," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.


'Once-in-a-generation' winter storm disrupts holiday travel

Airlines canceled or delayed 16,000 flights as nearly 100 million Americans braced Thursday for what forecasters described as a "once-in-a-generation storm," which hit the middle of the country and began dumping snow across the middle of the United States. The storm is heading east, disrupting travel on the ground as well as air ahead of the peak Christmas weekend. At least three people were killed in crashes in Kansas that were blamed on harsh weather. Some areas in the Great Lakes region are expected to get more than a foot of snow. Forecasters warn a "bomb cyclone" could send temperatures dropping by as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of hours. Some areas are expected to get wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour.


Bankman-Fried released under house arrest on record $250 million bond

New York City Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein on Thursday approved the release of disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried on a $250 million bond signed by his parents, who agreed to keep him at their California home pending his trial for fraud and other charges related to his collapsed cryptocurrency platform. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos said Bankman-Fried, 30, swindled investors and looted customer accounts in "a fraud of epic proportions." The $250 million bond is "believed to be the largest federal pretrial bond ever," The Associated Press reported. Bankman-Fried must observe strict terms during the house arrest at his parents' Palo Alto, California, home.


Life expectancy falls further due to COVID-19, drug overdoses

U.S. life expectancy continued to fall in 2021 as COVID-19 and drug overdoses killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, according to data released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. Life expectancy fell to 76.4 years at birth, down from 77 years in 2020. Americans now have the same life expectancy they had in 1996, a reality that alarms public health officials who believe people in affluent, developed nations should enjoy longer lives thanks to medical advances. But every U.S. age group is facing a rising death rate. "This one, it's sort of across-the-board bad news," especially "given how much we've learned about medicine, how much we've spent," said Eileen Crimmins, a professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California.


Putin says Russia wants to end Ukraine 'war'

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow wants to find a diplomatic solution to its invasion of Ukraine. "Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war," Putin said. The comments came a day after President Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the White House, promising unwavering support as the U.S. announced it would send Kyiv a Patriot air defense system. White House spokesperson John Kirby said Putin had "shown absolutely zero indication that he's willing to negotiate." Antiwar Russians noted that this was the first time Putin had used the word "war" to describe what the Kremlin has long called a "special military operation."


NY attorney general examines questions about George Santos' biography

The New York Attorney General's Office said Thursday it was "looking into a number of issues" regarding the background of Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.) after a New York Times investigation suggested he made up parts of his resume. The Times reported Monday that public documents and court filings did not substantiate claims Santos had made during his campaign and on his website about his education, work history, and financial dealings. Santos' lawyer, Joe Murray, told NBC News he hadn't been "contacted by anyone" on the state attorney general's team. Santos said via Twitter: "I have my story to tell and it will be told next week." In the meantime, the lawmaker-elect said he remained focused on his campaign promises to fight for public safety and against inflation.


Cassidy Hutchinson said Trump-allied lawyer told her to 'downplay' her White House role

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told House Jan. 6 committee investigators that a lawyer allied with former President Donald Trump urged her "downplay" her role as a top aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, according to transcripts of her interviews the panel released Thursday. Hutchinson said the lawyer, former White House ethics lawyer Stefan Passantino, "never told me to lie," but instructed her to say as little as possible and "focus on protecting the president." She said she did as told at first, then returned for the interview that made her a star witness, revealing what she knew about Jan. 6, including when Trump allegedly demanded a Secret Service agent take him to the Capitol on Jan. 6.


North Korea fires 2 missiles after U.S.-South Korea military drills

North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles in the latest in a series of weapons tests that have escalated tensions with South Korea, the United States, and Japan. South Korea's military said the launches came from North Korea's capital region, and that the missiles flew toward the country's eastern waters. North Korea said it fired a pair of rockets Sunday to test cameras and other technology it is developing for its first military reconnaissance satellite. The latest missile tests came days after U.S. and South Korean military aircraft conducted joint drills. Pyongyang typically condemns such exercises as rehearsals for an invasion.


Congress passes bill expanding U.S. power to prosecute war criminals

Congress on Thursday approved a bill to expand the United States' power to prosecute international war crimes suspects. The legislation allows prosecution in federal courts, no matter where the alleged crime occurred, and regardless of the nationality of the victim or the suspect. The Senate and House quickly passed the bill — the Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act — as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington and thanked lawmakers for supporting Ukraine as it fights off a Russian invasion amid reports of war crimes by Russian forces. "We are sending a clear message to Vladimir Putin: Perpetrators committing unspeakable war crimes, such as those unfolding before our very eyes in Ukraine, must be held to account," Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said.


US births did not return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022
Pregnant woman holding ultrasound photo.
bye, bye, baby

US births did not return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022

Fossils uncovered in Australia are 107 million-year-old pterosaurs bones, scientists say
Reconstruction of Australian pterosaur.

Fossils uncovered in Australia are 107 million-year-old pterosaurs bones, scientists say

Fossil fuels contributed to more than one-third of western wildfires
Tree in wildfire.
feel the burn

Fossil fuels contributed to more than one-third of western wildfires

Nikki Haley: A federal abortion ban is 'not realistic'
Nikki Haley.
let's be honest

Nikki Haley: A federal abortion ban is 'not realistic'

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Xi Jinping tells national security team to prepare for 'worst-case scenario'
Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Chinese Troubles

Xi Jinping tells national security team to prepare for 'worst-case scenario'

Fossils uncovered in Australia are 107 million-year-old pterosaurs bones, scientists say
Reconstruction of Australian pterosaur.

Fossils uncovered in Australia are 107 million-year-old pterosaurs bones, scientists say