Heating costs expected to increase; judge addresses Trump voter fraud claims; Astros, Padres win | Hot off the Wire podcast

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COVID-19 drove a dramatic increase in the number of women who died from pregnancy or childbirth complications in the U.S. last year, a crisis that has disproportionately claimed Black and Hispanic women as victims.

The U.S. Department of Energy is projecting sharp price increases for home heating compared to last winter.

Russian troops are fighting to regain lost ground in areas of Ukraine that President Vladimir Putin has illegally annexed. Moscow also is trying to pound the invaded country into submission with more missile and drone attacks on critical infrastructure.

Oklahoma is preparing to execute Benjamin Cole, 57, for killing his 9-month-old daughter in 2002.

Former President Donald Trump answered questions under oath in a defamation lawsuit filed by a writer who says he raped her in the mid-1990s. The deposition Wednesday provided lawyers for E. Jean Carroll a chance to interrogate the Republican ex-president about Carroll’s assault allegations, as well as statements he made in 2019 when she first told her story publicly.

A “swift-footed lizard” that lived millions of years ago in what’s now Massachusetts has been named the state’s official dinosaur.

A federal judge says Trump signed legal documents after the 2020 election that included voter fraud claims he knew were inaccurate. U.S. District Court Judge David Carter wrote in an 18-page opinion issued Wednesday that emails between Trump and attorney John Eastman show efforts to submit false claims in federal court for the purpose of delaying the counting of the electoral vote on Jan. 6, 2021.

In sports, the Astros struck first in the ALCS while the Padres got even in the NLCS, Ben Simmons struggled in his Nets debut, the Cavaliers wasted a good performance from their top offseason pickup and the Jets knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champs.

President Joe Biden is telling voters that he hasn’t given up on lowering gasoline prices. Biden says he has ordered the release of 15 million barrels from the U.S. strategic reserve and will consider additional withdrawals this winter. It’s a message with clear political implications as the president’s approval rating has moved in the opposite direction from changes in gasoline prices.

The Biden administration on Wednesday awarded $2.8 billion in grants to build and expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles in 12 states. The announcement comes as the administration seeks to boost production and sales of electric vehicles as a key part of President Joe Biden’s strategy to slow climate change and build up U.S. manufacturing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin doubled down Wednesday on his faltering invasion of Ukraine with a declaration of martial law in four illegally annexed regions and preparations within Russia for draconian new restrictions and crackdowns.

North Korea has fired about 100 more artillery shells toward the sea in response to South Korean live-firing drills at border areas as the rivals accuse each other of dialing up tensions with weapons tests.

British Home Secretary Suella Braverman has become the second senior minister in a week to leave embattled Prime Minister Liz Truss’ government. Her departure came hours after Truss appeared in Parliament to describe herself as “a fighter and not a quitter.”

The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear a case that could determine the scope of abortion restrictions in the state.

Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi has returned to Tehran after competing in South Korea without wearing a headscarf. Her move was seized upon by demonstrators as the Islamic Republic has faced weeks of protests over its mandatory hijab.

The International Energy Agency said Wednesday that it expects carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels to rise again this year, but by much less than in 2021 due to the growth in renewable power and electric cars.

Florida has seen an increase in cases of flesh-eating bacteria this year driven largely by a surge in the county hit hardest by Hurricane Ian. The state Department of Health reports that as of Friday there have been 65 cases of vibrio vulnificus infections and 11 deaths in Florida this year.

Black-white disparities exist in fertility medicine and are reflected in life-and-death outcomes for babies. That’s according to a large study of U.S. births published Wednesday in the journal Pediatrics.

A 75-year-old New York City man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 1976 killing of a World War I veteran. Martin Motta pleaded guilty on Tuesday in the death of 81-year-old George Seitz.