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Hunter Biden indicted on nine tax charges; White House threatening patents of high-priced drugs; 'Oppenheimer' will get theatrical release in Japan

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On the version of Hot off the Wire posted Dec. 8 at 6 a.m. CT:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden has been indicted on nine tax charges in California as a special counsel investigation into the business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son intensifies against the backdrop of the looming 2024 election. The indictment Thursday includes three felonies and six misdemeanors. Special counsel David Weiss says Hunter Biden “spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills.” Defense attorney Abbe Lowell argues prosecutors bowed to political pressure in the case, which had been expected to end with a plea deal before it imploded over the summer. The new charges are in addition to federal firearms charges in Delaware alleging Hunter Biden broke laws against drug users having guns in 2018.

BAGHDAD (AP) — U.S. and Iraqi officials say a rocket attack at the sprawling U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has caused minor damage but no casualties. Iran-backed militias in Iraq have claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks that targeted bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began two months ago. The embassy is in the heavily fortified Green Zone of Iraq's capital. An Iraqi security official said 14 Katyusha rockets were fired on Friday, of which some struck near one of the U.S. Embassy’s gates. A U.S. military official said rockets hit the vicinity of the Union III base that houses offices of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says there is “a gap” between what Israel pledged to do to protect Palestinian civilians and the results so far since it began intensive military operations against Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Police say the suspect in a deadly shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, had a list of targets at the school and at East Carolina University in North Carolina, where he once worked. Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill said Thursday that the suspect, identified as 67-year-old Anthony Polito, also had 150 additional rounds of ammunition before he was killed by police. Officials say three faculty members were killed and a fourth was wounded Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has voted to censure Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman for triggering a fire alarm in a U.S. Capitol office building when the chamber was in session. The New York congressman Thursday became the third Democrat in the House to be admonished this year through the process. “Censure me next. That’s how worthless your effort is,” Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said on the floor late Wednesday. “It has no credibility. No integrity. No legitimacy. Censure me next, and I’ll take that censure and I’ll wear it next week, next month, next year like a badge of honor.” The vote is the latest example of how the chamber has begun to deploy punishments like censure, long viewed as a punishment of last resort, routinely and often in strikingly partisan ways.

The Steelers see their playoff chances take a hit on Thursday Night Football, Jayden Daniels garners a big postseason college football award, the NBA's in-season tournament final is set, and the Sharks rally from a big deficit for an overtime win.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is putting pharmaceutical companies on notice. Washington is warning them that if the price of certain drugs is too high, the government might cancel their patent protection and allow rivals to make their own versions. Under a plan announced Thursday, the government would consider overriding the patent for high-priced drugs that have been developed with the help of taxpayer money and letting competitors make them in hopes of driving down the cost. The administration did not immediately release details about how the process will work and how it will deem a drug costly enough to act. If the plan is enacted, drugmakers are almost certain to sue.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas judge has given a pregnant woman whose fetus had a fatal diagnosis permission to get an abortion in an unprecedented challenge to the state’s ban that took effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned last year. It was unclear Thursday how quickly or whether Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two from the Dallas area, will be able to obtain an abortion. State District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble has granted a temporary restraining order allowing Cox to have an abortion. The state has not said if it plans to appeal. Cox is 20 weeks pregnant. Her attorneys say Cox went to an emergency room this week for a fourth time during her pregnancy.

PARIS (AP) — When Notre Dame went up in flames in 2019, people who worked in the cathedral felt orphaned. With the reopening of the world-famous Paris landmark drawing closer by the day, they’re now beginning to picture their return to the place they call home. They are impatient to breathe life back into its restored stones and vast spaces with their songs and prayers. On Friday, Notre Dame's rebirth from the devastating fire will hit a major milestone. It will begin the last year of repair work before the cathedral reopens its huge doors to the public on Dec. 8, 2024. French President Emmanuel Macron will mark the 12-month countdown by donning a hard hat and touring the fenced-off reconstruction site.

LONDON (AP) — Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in sometimes angry testimony to Britain’s inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic, on Thursday defended himself against suggestions that his indifference and failure to heed the advice of scientists led to thousands of unnecessary deaths. In a second day of sworn testimony, Johnson rejected claims that he was prepared to let older people die to protect the economy and that he was too slow to order a second national lockdown as infection rates began to rise in the autumn of 2020.

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” will get a theatrical release in Japan after all. The Japanese distributor Bitters End said Thursday that it will play in the country’s theaters in 2024. In a statement, Bitters End wrote that the decision was made, “following months of thoughtful dialogue associated with the subject matter and acknowledging the particular sensitivity for us Japanese.” “Oppenheimer” is about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called “father of the atomic bomb,” and chronicles the development of the weapon during World War II. The film addresses but does not explicitly depict the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S.

NEW YORK (AP) — A woman has sued the hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs claiming he and two other men raped her 20 years ago in a New York City recording studio when she was 17. The lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses Combs, Harve Pierre, the former president of Combs’ Bad Boy Entertainment, and a third man of plying the accuser with drugs and alcohol and then raping her in 2003. Combs denied the allegations in a statement and vowed to fight for his name. The lawsuit follows three other lawsuits accusing Combs of abuse. Combs has denied those allegations as well.

—The Associated Press

About this program

Host Terry Lipshetz is a senior producer for Lee Enterprises. Besides producing the daily Hot off the Wire news podcast, Terry conducts periodic interviews for this Behind the Headlines program, co-hosts the Streamed & Screened movies and television program and is the producer of Across the Sky, a podcast dedicated to weather and climate.

Lee Enterprises produces many national, regional and sports podcasts. Learn more here.

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