5 things to know for Feb. 7: Biden, Earthquake, Train derailment, Immigration, Google
By Alexandra Meeks, CNN
Authorities in the US are once again warning about a rise in domestic extremists plotting to attack the nation’s power grids — which government reports have warned could cause a domino effect and leave huge parts of the country in the dark. Efforts are underway to make vulnerable energy facilities more resilient as the Justice Department hands down serious charges to people accused of conspiring to wipe out power in major cities.
Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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President Joe Biden will deliver his State of the Union address to the American people tonight at 9 p.m. ET. It’s a tradition rooted in the US Constitution, following 98 previous in-person annual messages since George Washington’s first in 1790. This will be Biden’s second State of the Union address, but his first in front of a divided Congress. During the speech, he will seek to remind lawmakers and the nation of his accomplishments, while also demonstrating that he can serve the country for another term. He’s expected to touch on a number of the most pressing issues in the US, including inflation, Covid-19, mass shootings, police reform and infrastructure. Following the address, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will deliver the Republican response, GOP congressional leaders announced.
How well do you know the history of the yearly presidential address? Take CNN’s State of the Union quiz here to test your knowledge.
More than 5,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Turkey and Syria on Monday. A massive rescue effort is underway and aid agencies are particularly worried about northwestern Syria, where more than 4 million people were already relying on humanitarian assistance. The international community has been quick to offer assistance to the countries as the full scale of the disaster becomes clear. This morning, planes arrived in Syria carrying aid from Iraq and Iran, including food, medicine, and blankets, according to state media. The US, Japan, India, Pakistan and other countries have committed to assist with rescue crews. Meanwhile, more than 300 Russian soldiers are also clearing debris and helping in search operations in Syria, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
3. Train derailment
Residents of East Palestine, Ohio, are unable to return to their homes after a train derailment four days ago sparked a massive fire and prompted widespread evacuations. The train crashed Friday while carrying hazardous materials, causing a fire that continues to burn. Five of the derailed train cars were carrying vinyl chloride — a chemical that is unstable and threatened an explosion that would have hurled toxic fumes into the air and shoot deadly shrapnel as far as a mile away, officials said. Crews on Monday performed a controlled release of the chemicals, but evacuated residents are still being urged to stay away today amid the wait for the fire to die down.
Immigration remains at historic highs amid deteriorating conditions in Latin America that were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, border experts say. Data shows this has increasingly included more migrants from countries outside of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala — posing a unique challenge to the Biden administration. Last December, border authorities took about 77,000 migrants from Cuba or Nicaragua into custody, according to US Customs and Border Protection data. That’s compared to about 53,000 encounters with migrants from Mexico and northern Central America, marking a drop from December 2021. While the Biden administration has garnered more than $4.2 billion in private sector commitments to tackle the root causes of migration, officials say the funds are being channeled toward long-term fixes, so it could take more time to see substantial changes on the ground.
Google on Monday unveiled a new chatbot tool dubbed “Bard” in an apparent bid to compete with the success of ChatGPT. The viral ChatGPT bot has stunned users with its ability to provide lengthy, thoughtful and thorough responses to questions and prompts — even if inaccurate. But as with other AI-powered tools, it’s also posed some concerns, including how it could disrupt education and spread misinformation. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and parent company Alphabet, said in a blog post that Bard will be opened up to “trusted testers” starting this week, with plans to make it available to the public “in the coming weeks.” Chinese search engine giant Baidu also said today it would be launching its own ChatGPT-style service, sending the company’s shares soaring.
AMC Theaters is changing its ticket pricing
Attention moviegoers … America’s largest movie chain said its ticket prices will now be based on seat location, meaning seats in the front will be cheaper while more desirable seats in the middle will cost more.
SpaceX put a Tesla sportscar into space five years ago. Where is it now?
Here’s what we know about the Tesla roadster that was launched into the cosmic wilderness in 2018.
Harvard psychiatrist says this is the secret to happiness
If you’re in search of “the good life,” check out the lessons learned from the world’s longest scientific study on happiness.
Tom Brady is focused on starting his broadcast career in 2024
The seven-time Super Bowl champion reiterated Monday that he’s putting his playing days behind him — but will be on a major sports network in due time.
Stop calling it ‘mommy brain’
The idea that motherhood is linked with a decline in cognitive abilities may be wrong and unfair to moms, scientists say.
That’s how many feet a Southwest passenger jet and a FedEx cargo plane came within colliding at a Texas airport on Saturday, investigators say. The close call occurred after air traffic controllers at Austin’s international airport mistakenly cleared the two planes to use the same runway. The arriving crew realized they were on track to collide with the departing plane and told its crew to abort taking off. “They saved, in my view, 128 people from a potential catastrophe,” said Jennifer Homendy, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board.
“Our menu was not intended as a cultural meal.”
— Food vendor Aramark, apologizing after receiving criticism for serving an insensitive school lunch on the first day of Black History Month. The lunch menu offered on February 1 at a middle school in New York was chicken and waffles, along with watermelon. “We apologize for the unintentional insensitivity shown… and our team should have been more thoughtful in its service,” the company said in a statement.
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Extreme unicycling on dangerous peaks
Biking on rough terrain can be quite challenging for most … but not for this man who rides his unicycle on steep mountains. (Click here to view)
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