Debt ceiling bill, William Shatner blasts into space, Jon Gruden replaced: 5 things to know Wednesday

Editors
USA TODAY

Debt ceiling bill goes to Biden's desk

After the House passed a bill to raise the nation's debt ceiling for several weeks, the measure is heading to President Joe Biden's desk Wednesday for his signature. The bill, which lifts the ceiling by $480 billion, will allow the government to keep paying its bills into early December and avoid the economic chaos that would come if the U.S. defaulted. If the country had defaulted on its debt for the first time, the results could lead to a global recession, experts say. A tanked market would hurt 401(k)s and other investments. For example, a debt ceiling standoff in 2013 cost the economy 1% in GDP. By extending the nation's borrowing limit for a few weeks, lawmakers set up another fight in early December, when they'll be tasked with finding a long-term solution. 

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William Shatner embarks on a real-life space journey 

Captain Kirk is heading to space on his real-life star trek. Actor William Shatner, 90, who is best known for his role in the original "Star Trek" series and the first six films in the "Star Trek" movie franchise, is set to take flight Wednesday with three other passengers on a New Shepard rocket from Blue Origin's West Texas launch site. Blue Origin was founded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2000. Its only human spaceflight to date launched on July 20, when it flew Bezos, Bezos' brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk and 18-year-old student Oliver Daemen, the son of a hedge fund manager, to suborbital space. The launch had been scheduled for Tuesday but high winds in the forecast prompted a 24-hour delay. Rounding out the crew: a Blue Origin vice president and two entrepreneurs who bid unsuccessfully for a seat on the previous flight with Bezos.

Supreme Court to hear arguments to reinstate death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday on the government's request to reinstate the death penalty for convicted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, eight years after the Boston Marathon blast that killed three people and injured more than 260. Tsarnaev, 28, was convicted of dozens of crimes in the attack and received a death sentence in 2015. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit threw out that sentence last year, ruling that a lower court judge failed to ensure a fair jury given the wall-to-wall media coverage of the bombing and manhunt. Some of the victims and their families have publicly supported the death sentence. Others say that continuing the years-old litigation has prolonged their suffering and has unnecessarily kept Tsarnaev's name in the news. 

First storm of the season hammers western US with heavy snow, howling winds

Heavy snow and high winds from the season's first winter storm will likely spread farther north into the western Dakotas and eastern Montana on Wednesday. The potent storm pounded the western U.S. on Tuesday, delivering a mix of heavy snow and ferocious winds to much of the region and creating hazardous travel conditions. Winter storm warnings were in place for parts of Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Idaho, where snowfall totals of 1 to 2 feet were possible. The snow will be accompanied by strong northwesterly winds at the height of the storm, the National Weather Service said. That probably will result in blowing and drifting snow as the storm intensifies, possibly leading to blizzard conditions in some areas. Temperatures also will be far below average across much of the West, and record lows are possible, AccuWeather said. 

Rich Bisaccia to be Las Vegas Raiders' interim head coach, replacing Jon Gruden

Rich Bisaccia will be formally announced as the Las Vegas Raiders' interim head coach on Wednesday. Bisaccia will be replacing Jon Gruden, who resigned Monday following the emergence of homophobic, racist and other offensive comments he had made in emails years earlier. Gruden's behavior recently came under scrutiny when the Wall Street Journal uncovered an email he sent in 2011 in which he used a racist trope to describe NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. The NFL found additional emails as part of a separate investigation into the workplace culture of the Washington Football Team, which contained more damning information, according to a report in the New York Times on Monday.