Faithful mourn Benedict XVI; huge storm hits California; GOP still unable to elect House Speaker | Hot off the Wire podcast

Kxly 1920x1080

(Note: Tap here to listen to the episode if the above audio player does not load)

On this version of Hot off the Wire:

» Thousands of faithful, political leaders and the pope himself mourned Benedict XVI at a rare requiem Mass for a dead pontiff presided over by a living one. Pope Francis opened the service with a prayer and closed it by solemnly blessing the simple casket.

» Damaging winds and heavy rains in California have knocked out power to tens of thousands, caused flash flooding and left a child dead after a tree fell on a home.

» House Republicans plowed through the second day of the new Congress, with no clear off-ramp from their political chaos over electing leader Kevin McCarthy as the new speaker. A Wednesday night session was initially planned, but they instead gave up amid a shouting, crowded vote to adjourn.

» The head of the World Health Organization says the agency is “concerned about the risk to life in China” amid the coronavirus’ explosive spread across the country and the lack of outbreak data from the Chinese government.

» Business software maker Salesforce said it is laying off about 8,000 employees, or 10% of its workforce.

» In sports, the Nets winning streak came to an end, the 76ers and Cavaliers came out on top, the Devils, Wild, and Ducks won on the ice, and the Red Sox agreed to a contract with third baseman Rafael Devers.

From the original version of Hot off the Wire:

» Republican leader Kevin McCarthy failed anew to win the House speakership in three votes, faring no better than he had in the same number on Tuesday when 20 fellow Republicans rejected his bid.

» President Joe Biden says he intends to visit the U.S.-Mexico border in connection with his meeting next week in Mexico City with the leaders of Canada and Mexico.

» More than 500 Cuban immigrants have come ashore in the Florida Keys since the weekend, the latest in a large and increasing number who are fleeing the communist island.

» The European Union has “strongly encouraged” its member states to impose pre-departure COVID-19 testing of passengers from China, in a move that is likely to upset Beijing and has already been criticized by the global airline industry.

» Rick Singer, the mastermind of the nationwide college admissions bribery scheme that ensnared celebrities, prominent businesspeople and other parents, has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.

» Authorities say Bryan Kohberger, the man accused in the November slayings of four University of Idaho students, has left a Pennsylvania jail in the custody of state police.

» U.S. job openings slipped in November but remained at high suggesting businesses are still determined to add workers, a blow to the Federal Reserve’s efforts to cool hiring and wage gains.

» New York City Mayor Eric Adams is vowing to fight his own City Hall — again — after he was ticketed for rats at his Brooklyn townhouse.

» Twitter says it will ease up its 3-year-old ban on political advertising. It’s the latest change by Elon Musk as he tries to pump up revenue after purchasing the social media platform last year.

» Grappling with the biggest flood of Cuban migrants in decades, the United States reopened their long-closed legal pathway on Wednesday by resuming all visa services at its embassy in Havana.

» The stars of the 1968 film “Romeo and Juliet” have sued Paramount Pictures for more than $500 million over a nude scene shot when they were teens. Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting filed the suit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging sexual abuse and fraud.

» More than 30 graves at a historic Christian cemetery in Jerusalem have been found toppled and vandalized, jolting the Christian minority in the contested city.