Fed's interest rate move, EU leader on Russian oil, 'Star Wars' Day: 5 things to know Wednesday


Fed poised to make major move to cool inflation

The Federal Reserve is expected to give interest rates their biggest upward bump in 22 years on Wednesday in an effort to tame an inflation rate that's raging at a 40-year high. After raising its key short-term interest rate from near zero by a quarter-percentage-point in March, the Fed is set to push it up another half-point, its largest move since 1994. And that’s likely just the beginning: When the Fed began raising rates in March, it forecast six more hikes this year and more in 2023. Wednesday's move will drive rates higher on everything from credit cards to mortgages; on the plus side, consumers will finally see bank deposit rates rise from paltry levels, especially for online savings accounts and CDs.

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EU leader calls for member nations to ban oil imports from Russia

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the leader of the European Union, on Wednesday called on the 27-nation bloc to ban oil imports from Russia in a sixth package of sanctions targeting Moscow for its war in Ukraine. Von der Leyen, speaking in France, called on the EU's member nations to phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year. The proposals need to be unanimously approved to take effect and are likely to be the subject of fierce debate.

The move comes after Donetsk regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a statement early Wednesday that 21 civilians were killed and another 27 were wounded in Russian attacks Tuesday. He added that it marked the highest number of civilian victims in the region, in eastern Ukraine, since April 8. Top Pentagon leaders warned Congress Tuesday that Russia's military is learning from its mistakes as the war shifts into a new phase, which will affect how the U.S. supports Ukraine.

Severe weather, wildfires continue to hamper parts of the US

Severe weather season is in full swing across the central and southern United States this week. A line of severe storms is pushing across the central U.S., with the next system expected to land Wednesday and Thursday from the Southern plains, the National Weather Service said. Earlier this week, tornado watches and severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued in Kansas, Oklahoma and the Ohio Valley region. In the southwest, a growing wildfire in New Mexico has burned hundreds of square miles, destroyed about 170 homes and threatens more destruction. Dan Pearson, a U.S. Forest Service fire behavior analyst, warned that dry winds are expected to increase and shift on Wednesday, pushing fire and smoke toward the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Schools in the community canceled classes at least through Wednesday. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed her request for a presidential disaster declaration Tuesday and said she hoped it would bring financial help for recovery efforts. 

Amber Heard to take stand in libel trial with Johnny Depp 

Amber Heard is expected to take the stand Wednesday as the libel trial between the actress and ex-husband and fellow actor Johnny Depp continues its fourth week. Heard's team has begun calling witnesses to the stand, starting with psychologist Dawn Hughes who testified Tuesday that Heard suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from violence, including sexual violence, at the hands of Depp. Depp has said he never physically attacked Heard, and that she was the aggressor who routinely hit him through the course of their relationship. Heard's lawyers had asked the judge to dismiss the case Tuesday, but the judge denied the request. Depp is suing Heard for $50 million, alleging she defamed him in a 2018 Washington Post opinion column where she claimed to have been a victim of domestic abuse. Depp's agent, Jack Whigham, testified Monday that the op-ed was "catastrophic" to Depp's career. 

May the 4th be with you! 'Star Wars' fans unite and celebrate

"May the 4th" is a day for all lovers of Jedi, the Resistance, the Skywalkers, the Hutts, Boba Fett, Baby Yoda and many more "Star Wars" characters to unite and celebrate all there is in the galaxy far, far away. Why May 4, you ask? Why, it's right there in the date, a play on "May the Force be with you." The day has become known as Star Wars Day, an unofficial holiday that gets its origin from a line of dialogue in George Lucas' space saga, "Star Wars: A New Hope." In the 1977 film, General Dodonna encourages the rebel fighters before they begin their assault on the Empire's Death Star and as a way of wishing them luck says, "And may the Force be with you!" The first official application of the phrase to May 4 came in 1979, when the U.K. Conservative Party paid for a newspaper ad saying, "May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations!" to celebrate party leader Margaret Thatcher becoming prime minister.

Contributing: The Associated Press