Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 6, 2023

A deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocks Turkey and Syria, Navy divers search for debris from China's spy balloon, and more


7.8-magnitude earthquake kills hundreds in Turkey, Syria

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and neighboring Syria early Monday, killing more than 1,000 people. At least 1,700 buildings collapsed, some of them hundreds of miles from the quake's epicenter. Rescue crews rushed to search for survivors in the debris. The temblor was felt as far away as Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt. The epicenter was in Turkey's Kahramanmaras province, near the Syrian border. The White Helmets, the western-funded civilian rescue service in rebel areas in Syria, reported that 120 civilians had been confirmed dead in Idlib province and western Aleppo. "The death toll is expected to rise as hundreds of families are still trapped under rubble," the group said.


Navy divers look for Chinese spy balloon debris

U.S. Navy divers are searching for debris from the suspected Chinese spy balloon that floated over the United States before being shot down by a U.S. fighter jet six miles off the South Carolina coast, Pentagon officials said Sunday. The balloon had crossed much of the U.S., from Montana to South Carolina, after moving into American airspace via Canada. China said the U.S. overreacted to a civilian weather balloon that went off course. A senior Biden administration official said in response to China's statement that the U.S. is "confident [the balloon] was seeking to monitor sensitive military sites," judging by its path. Pentagon officials told lawmakers several Chinese balloons had strayed through U.S. airspace in the past six years.


Moscow, Tehran building Iranian-designed drone factory in Russia

Russia and Iran plan to build a factory in Russia to produce thousands of Iranian-designed drones for use by Russian forces that have invaded Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing officials from a country aligned with the United States. A high-level Iranian delegation went to Russia in early January to work out details and visit the site. The project signals that the two countries are strengthening their "emerging military alliance," which the Biden administration has warned is developing into a "full-fledged defense partnership," according to the Journal. Tehran has already provided Moscow with hundreds of its "suicide" drones, which Russian forces have used to target military and civilian sites across Ukraine, according to U.S. officials.


Officials to brief Congress on classified document investigations

U.S. officials have proposed giving a briefing to congressional leaders on the investigations into the handling of classified documents by former President Donald Trump and President Biden, The Associated Press reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter. The exchange could come as early as this week. Lawmakers have been demanding documents found in an FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, and from Biden's Delaware home and a private office he used in Washington, D.C., after serving as vice president in the Obama administration. Congressional leaders also want information on the discovery of material with classified markings at the home of Trump's vice president, Mike Pence.


Iran to pardon thousands detained in protests, state media says

Iran plans to pardon or commute the sentences of "tens of thousands" of people jailed during the country's ongoing anti-government protests, state media reported Sunday. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has approved the plan to give "amnesty and reduced punishment" to the convicts, "including the detainees of the recent riots in Iran," the state-run IRNA News Agency reported. The semi-official Tasnim news agency said the amnesty wouldn't apply to people sentenced or charged for alleged "espionage for outsiders, direct links with the foreign intelligence services, murder or intentional injuries, as well as vandalism or arson attack on governmental, military, and public sites." Many of those charges have been filed against protesters and foreign nationals in Iran.


Billionaire Koch's network to oppose Trump in primaries

Conservative billionaire Charles Koch's network of donors and activists plans to oppose former President Donald Trump's bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, several news outlets reported Sunday, citing an internal memo. "The best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter," Emily Seidel, chief executive of the network's flagship Americans for Prosperity group, wrote in the memo, according to The Washington Post. The memo marked the latest example of public opposition by many conservatives to Trump's effort to become the GOP nominee for the third straight time. Some Republicans blame Trump for the party's disappointing performance in the November midterms, saying he helped flawed candidates win primaries only to lose in the general election.


Biden prepares State of the Union expected to focus on economic wins

President Biden is preparing to deliver his second State of the Union address on Tuesday. He is expected to use the high-profile speech to remind Americans about legislation he and fellow Democrats pushed through in his first two years in office to "create jobs, fight inflation, and improve the nation's infrastructure," according to The Associated Press. "The state of the Union and the state of our economy is strong," Biden said after a stronger-than-expected jobs report on Friday reduced unemployment to a 53-year-low. The president is not expected to introduce major new legislative proposals. Unlike during Biden's first State of the Union address, Republicans now control the House, making it unlikely Congress will approve more key parts of his agenda.


Canada deploying patrol aircraft to help Haiti fight gangs

The Canadian government said Sunday it sent military aircraft to help the Haitian National Police disrupt violent gangs that have created a "dire security situation." Canada said the deployment of a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol plane came in response to a Haitian government request for international support in addressing problems with the gangs, which have expanded their control into most of the capital city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. In October, the United Nations unsuccessfully pushed for the deployment of an international "rapid reaction force" to the Caribbean nation after gang battles killed hundreds and forced thousands to leave their homes.


'Knock at the Cabin' dethrones 'Avatar' at the domestic box office

Knock at the Cabin has knocked Avatar: The Way of Water out of the top spot at the domestic box office it had occupied for seven weekends. Knock at the Cabin, director M. Night Shyamalan's apocalyptic horror film, collected $14.2 million in ticket sales in the United States and Canada in its debut weekend, researcher Comscore Inc. estimated Sunday. That was below the forecast $18 million to $27 million, but enough to earn the top spot. 80 for Brady, a Paramount Pictures comedy about four octogenarian women going to the Super Bowl to watch their favorite football player, also beat out Avatar to claim the No. 2 spot with an estimated $12.5 million in its domestic opening.


Beyoncé breaks record for most Grammy wins ever

Beyoncé broke the record for the most lifetime Grammy awards on Sunday, with her four wins lifting her total to 32. Beyoncé started the evening tied with producer and musician Quincy Jones at 28. Her wins for dance/electronic music recording, traditional R&B performance, best R&B song, and dance/electronic music album vaulted her past the late classical conductor Georg Solti, who won 31 Grammys. Beyoncé was nominated in nine categories, the most any artist received. The singer now has 88 lifetime nominations, tied for the record with her husband, Jay-Z. Viola Davis won the Grammy Award for best audiobook, narration, and storytelling recording for her memoir Finding Me, giving the 57-year-old actress EGOT status with an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony.


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