Happy Thursday! We never should’ve doubted you, Western Australia Department of Fire and Emergency Services. Great work tracking down that 8-millimeter-long capsule of radioactive material that fell off a truck somewhere along a 900-mile stretch of highway.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy met with President Joe Biden Wednesday to discuss an agreement on raising the debt ceiling and emerged projecting confidence about reaching a two-year deal—though he offered few details on what the potential agreement would include. Both leaders issued statements afterward expressing their willingness to keep talking, with Biden saying he’s open to a “separate discussion with congressional leaders about how to reduce the deficit and control the national debt.” The president maintains Republicans must agree to a so-called clean debt ceiling increase—no policy concessions attached.
- The FBI searched Biden’s vacation home in Rehoboth, Delaware, Wednesday morning and took possession of materials related to his vice presidency—but investigators didn’t find any classified materials, Biden personal attorney Bob Bauer said. CBS News reported earlier this week that federal agents had in November also searched the Penn Biden Center office where Biden’s team originally found classified documents. Robert Hur—special counsel assigned to oversee Biden’s improper handling of classified documents—officially began his role Wednesday.
- The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised interest rates by 25 basis points—bringing the federal funds target rate between 4.5 to 4.75 percent—the smallest such hike since last March, when the central bank’s anti-inflation pivot began in earnest. Inflation ebbed to 5 percent in December by the Fed’s preferred measure, but the central bankers anticipate additional rate hikes will be necessary in the coming months to reach their target 2 percent inflation.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday job openings in the United States spiked month-over-month in December to a near-record 11 million, up from 10.4 million in November but still below the measure’s peak of 11.9 million in March. The quits rate—the percentage of workers who quit their job during the month—held steady at 2.7 percent, while the number of layoffs and discharges ticked up slightly to 1.5 million.
- The Treasury announced sanctions on Wednesday targeting 22 individuals and entities—including Russian arms dealer Igor Zimenkov—accused of helping Russia evade sanctions and obtain weapons to carry out its war against Ukraine. Treasury officials say Zimenkov and his network have helped Russia with “cybersecurity and helicopter sales,” but framed these sanctions as cutting off the already “harder and costlier” workarounds Russia had found for military-industrial complex sanctions.
- Two years after a military coup deposed Burma’s civilian government, the United States and allies this week imposed fresh sanctions targeting six individuals and three entities accused of helping the junta obtain money and weapons. The junta this week extended the state of emergency in place since the coup for another six months—possibly delaying August elections international leaders had already said would not be free and fair. The military regime has killed more than 2,900 people and detained upwards of 13,700 in its takeover and violent repression of protests.
- The United Kingdom’s Trades Union Congress estimated as many as 500,000 workers—including teachers, train drivers, and border officials—stopped work Wednesday to demand wage hikes in the largest such walkout since 2011.
- One year after retiring and un-retiring from the NFL, Tom Brady, 45, announced Wednesday he’s retiring again—this time “for good.” His final lackluster season capped a remarkable 23-year career which included six Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots and another Lombardi Trophy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
French “Rage, Rage” Against Retirement Tweaks
If you’re going to strike, you might as well be good at it. And the French—apologies to the Associated Press—sure are good at it, as evidenced by this nifty grill-turned-tram contraption from a protest in Nice:
That picture is from 2018, but French workers have taken to the streets en masse twice in recent weeks, and have plans to do so again on February 7 and February 11. Why? Proposed changes to the country’s retirement system.