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LA takes school terror threat seriously & more big news of the day

It’s Wednesday, which means you can start thinking about all the fun stuff you’re gonna do this weekend. In the meantime, here are the six stories you need to know today.

Debate details

The Republican presidential candidates convened in Las Vegas last night for the 312th debate of the primary season (or at least it felt that way). The central question of the evening seemed to be “Are you tough enough?”— tough enough, that is, to keep the country safe from the kinds of attacks that Paris and San Bernardino have suffered in recent weeks. Front-runner Donald Trump didn’t dominate the sparring, as he has in other debates, and Jeb Bush managed to land one good zinger against the billionaire reality TV star: “Donald, you know, is great at the one-liners, but he’s a chaos candidate — and he’d be a chaos president.” Trump retaliated: “‘He has failed in this campaign,’ Trump said. ‘It’s been a total disaster. Nobody cares.'” — The Washington Post

More: A liberal Democrat reenacts the fifth GOP debate

Jurors at a standstill

Jurors in the Freddie Gray case are deadlocked. Freddie Gray, a young black man, died in police custody in Baltimore earlier this year, sparking a wave of riots and continuing a national conversation on how the police treat people of color. The jury sent a message to the judge yesterday reporting they were deadlocked in the trial of Officer William G. Porter for manslaughter. Judge Barry G. Williams of the Baltimore City Circuit Court told the jurors their decision must be unanimous and instructed them to keep deliberating. A deadlock doesn’t immediately result in a mistrial, but if the jury can’t arrive at a unanimous verdict, a mistrial may be declared, which could affect the trials of the other five officers implicated in Gray’s death. — The New York Times

Singing Star Wars

Yeah, yeah, nine days to Christmas but two days to Star Wars y’all. Need a shot of joy and adrenaline with your coffee this morning? Take a look at this video of Jimmy Fallon and the cast singing the theme song a cappella in a crazy, Brady Bunch-style face grid. We particularly love that the cast members toss bemused glances at one another through the grid walls. Except for Chewbacca, who appears to be totally over it. Watch it and sing. We dare you not to stand up and pump your arms. — BuzzFeed News

More: 11 Things the Internet loved way too much this year

Broad City meets Sisters

Not into Star Wars? Totally fine. Sisters, the new Tina Fey/Amy Poehler (hopefully) blockbuster, also opens on Friday. They’ve made a promo video with Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, the stars of Broad City. If you’re less into light sabers and more into jokes about rosaries and Ben Wa balls, you’re in luck. Our favorite part? The narrator says at the end: “Just to be clear, ‘Sisters’ the movie has nothing to do with the sisters here. I mean, who wants to see a movie with four sisters?” Check out the promo, call your best girlfriends, and book your tickets now. — Variety

LA closes schools

Los Angeles freaks out and closes whole system in response to terrorist threat; NYC shrugs. On Tuesday, both the LA and New York City school systems received a terror threat. LA responded by closing the schools for the day, while New York carried on with business as usual. Why? Well, context matters: LA is only an hour from San Bernardino, and it’s common for areas close to recent terrorist attacks to be extra vigilant in the weeks and months following. New York also has a particularly robust anti-terrorism unit, and the East Coast city decided that the details of the message did not make the threat particularly credible. But who can blame anyone in California for erring on the side of caution? — NBC News

More: A Republican’s take on the 5th GOP debate

Fed rate hike

Today, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates a quarter of a percentage point. Interest rates have been at near-zero since the financial crisis of 2008, making money cheap to borrow for both individuals and businesses and theoretically stimulating the economy. The Fed, responding to the current better-than-2008-but-still-not-terrific economy, is planning to nudge up interest rates to address fears of inflation. This means that — over time, likely not immediately — borrowing would become more expensive, but we’ll avoid inflation. The rate rise is pretty small and is only the first in a series of (slow, gradual) anticipated hikes; if they have adverse effects on the economy, the Fed can always back off. — Slate

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