Fed to raise rates, ex-Minneapolis cops to be sentenced, Brittney Griner's trial: 5 things to know Wednesday

The Fed is expected to announce an interest rate hike

The Fed is expected to announce another interest-rate hike at the end of its 2-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting Wednesday afternoon. The release of the Consumer Price Index this month revealed that inflation rose 9.1% in June compared with the same time last year, marking the largest increase since November 1981. Higher interest rates are meant to slow the economy, which can stunt revenues for companies, potentially damaging their growth and stock prices, according to Forbes. Although the Fed doesn't directly control all interest rates, when it raises the federal funds rate, all other interest rates eventually follow suit, including adjustable-rate mortgages, credit cards, home equity lines of credit, and other loans. Further hikes are expected at committee meetings scheduled in September, November, and December.

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2 ex-Minneapolis cops face sentencing for violating George Floyd's rights

The last two former Minneapolis police officers to be sentenced for violating George Floyd's civil rights are scheduled to learn their penalties Wednesday. J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were convicted in February in the May 2020 slaying. The jury found they deprived Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, of medical care, and failed to stop Derek Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd's neck for 9 1/2 minutes while Floyd gasped for air. Kueng held Floyd's back, former Officer Thomas Lane held his feet and Thao kept back bystanders, some of whom recorded video that led to worldwide protests. Chauvin, who pleaded guilty last year to violating Floyd's civil rights and the civil rights of a teenager in an unrelated case, was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison. Lane, who twice asked if Floyd should be rolled onto his side so he could breathe, was sentenced to 2 1/2. Prosecutors have not made specific recommendations for Kueng and Thao's sentence, but have requested less time than Chauvin and "substantially" more than Lane.

Brittney Griner's trial continues in Russia

The Russian drug trial of WNBA star Brittney Griner is expected to reconvene Wednesday after Tuesday's session was temporarily halted due to a U.S. State Department official fainting in the courtroom, Russian media reported. ABC News reported early Wednesday that Griner is expected to testify when the trial resumes. Griner, a 31-year-old two-time Olympic gold medalist, has been in custody since being arrested on drug charges at a Moscow-area airport in mid-February while returning to play basketball for a Russian professional team, days before Russia invaded Ukraine. She has pleaded guilty and acknowledged that she was carrying vape canisters containing cannabis oil. Griner said she accidentally packed the cannabis, which was prescribed by a physician, in her luggage and had no criminal intent. She could face up to 10 years in prison.

White House rewrites rules to push more affordable housing with COVID-19 rescue funds

New guidance from the Treasury Department Wednesday gives local and state governments greater flexibility to address affordable housing with their share of $350 billion in direct aid from the American Rescue Plan – President Joe Biden's signature COVID-19 stimulus law passed in March 2021. The guidance will lead to several key changes. First, state and local governments will be able to use American Rescue Plan funds to finance long-term affordable housing loans to nonprofits and developers. Second, new rules allow cities and states to direct rescue funds to six additional federal housing programs – opening up money for low-income housing credits, affordable housing preservation, supportive housing for the elderly and disabled, and public housing capital funds. The Biden administration also is clarifying that funds can "finance the development, repair or operation" of any affordable rental housing unit.

Russia's Gazprom set to make drastic cut to Europe's gas supply

Russian energy giant Gazprom on Wednesday halved the amount of natural gas flowing through its major Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Europe, dropping the flow to about 20% of normal capacity. In an announcement Monday, the company blamed the need to overhaul a pipeline turbine. Germany, however, accused Gazprom of politically motivated stall tactics, and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, “All this is done by Russia deliberately to make it as difficult as possible for Europeans to prepare for winter." On Tuesday, European Union energy ministers agreed to curb their total gas consumption by 15% in response to what EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called "Putin's energy blackmail."

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fed to hike rates, Brittney Griner's trial: 5 things to know Wednesday