10 things you need to know today: February 10, 2023
Earthquake death toll rises over 21,000 in Turkey and Syria, Mike Pence is subpoenaed in special counsel's Jan. 6 investigation, and more
Earthquake toll reaches 21,000 as hope for more survivors dims
The earthquake death toll in Turkey and Syria rose to more than 21,000 on Thursday. Turkey had confirmed 17,674 deaths as of late Thursday, surpassing the toll of a devastating 1999 temblor that was so traumatic it changed politics in the country. Syria has reported 3,377 deaths, and thousands of injuries. The powerful, back-to-back 7.8 magnitude and 7.5 magnitude quakes hit in southern Turkey near its border with Syria, and thousands of buildings collapsed on both sides of the border. Freezing weather has hampered rescue efforts and dimmed hopes of finding more survivors, although a rescue crew pulled a 45-year-old woman from rubble in the town of Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey 72 hours after the earthquake.
Mike Pence subpoenaed by special counsel investigating Jan. 6 attack
The special counsel investigating former President Donald Trump's effort to overturn his 2020 election loss has subpoenaed former Vice President Mike Pence, several news outlets reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. The move is one of the most aggressive yet in the two-year investigation by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who also is overseeing an inquiry into Trump's handling of classified documents. Pence is a key witness to the events of Jan. 6, as rioters were trying to prevent him from overseeing the certification of Trump's loss to President Biden. He has described post-election interactions with Trump in a memoir, which could help override executive privilege claims Trump has used to delay or block testimony by people who served in his administration.
U.S. says China's spy balloon was equipped to intercept intelligence signals
The Biden administration said Thursday that the balloon the U.S. shot down over the weekend had equipment enabling it to collect intelligence signals. U.S. officials said the balloon was part of a global military-linked aerial surveillance program China has used to gather information on the military capabilities of more than 40 countries, with particular focus on the United States. The Biden administration cited imagery from American U-2 spy planes as evidence of the activities of China's fleet of surveillance balloons that have flown over five continents. The House voted unanimously to condemn Beijing for its "brazen violation" of U.S. airspace.
Russia follows through on threat to cut oil output
Russia said Thursday it would cut oil production by 500,000 barrels a day next month, a reduction equal to about 5 percent of its January output. The move comes after months of threats by the Kremlin to reduce oil supply in retaliation for Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. The cuts threaten to renew disruption of the oil market and drive prices higher. Crude prices surged after the announcement. International benchmark Brent crude was up as much as 2 percent early Friday in London, after falling by 9 percent since mid-January. Moscow's reduction follows a late-2020 decision by OPEC+, the group of oil exporters led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, to reduce supply by two million barrels a day.
Nicaragua unexpectedly frees political prisoners
Nicaragua on Thursday released more than 200 political prisoners and sent them to the United States. A Nicaraguan judge denounced the prisoners as "traitors" who were being "deported," according to Reuters. The group of 222 prisoners included five former presidential hopefuls and other high-profile critics of President Daniel Ortega. Crowds of people gathered to greet the group at Dulles International Airport near Washington, chanting "free!" The U.S. called the release of the political prisoners a "constructive step" toward improving the Central American nation's human rights situation. The move was interpreted as part of an effort to improve relations with Washington, which imposed sanctions in 2021 and called Ortega's re-election a "sham" after several opponents were arrested.
Man who wielded pole with Confederate flag on Jan. 6 sentenced to 3 years
A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a Delaware man, Kevin Seefried, to three years in prison for his actions during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. During the riot, Seefried, 53, stormed the Capitol and threatened a Black police officer with a pole attached to a Confederate battle flag. Before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden announced the sentence, Seefried tearfully apologized, saying he "never wanted to send a message of hate." McFadden said the attack was chilling. "Bringing a Confederate flag into one of our nation's most sacred halls was outrageous," the judge said. Seefried will remain free until he is ordered to report to prison. Prosecutors had called for a nearly six-year sentence.
Russia hits Ukraine cities with wave of missile attacks
Russia on Friday launched a wave of missile attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia and the northeastern city of Kharkiv, as Russian forces advanced in the east and south in what could signal the start of a long-anticipated offensive. At least 17 missiles hit Zaporizhzhia in an hour, according to the city's acting mayor, Anatolii Kurtiev. The state power grid operator said high-voltage facilities across Ukraine had been targeted, forcing the shutdown of electricity supplies. Russian attacks on Ukraine's civilian infrastructure in the last four months have left millions of Ukrainians without power, heat, and water for extended periods in cities far from the war's front lines.
Rep. Angie Craig attacked in D.C. apartment building elevator
Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) was attacked Thursday morning in the elevator of her Washington, D.C., apartment building, according to a statement from her office. Craig's chief of staff, Nick Coe, said she "defended herself from the attacker," and was bruised but "is otherwise physically OK." The attacker fled. The U.S. Capitol Police said there was "no indication that the congresswoman was targeted because of her position." The Metropolitan Police Department said in its incident report that Craig spotted the suspect in the building's lobby, according to NBC News. The man was "acting erratic as if he was under the influence of an unknown substance," according to the report. Craig, who was first elected in 2018, is Minnesota's first openly LGBTQ member of Congress.
Native American activists to protest Chiefs' name at Super Bowl
Native American activists plan to demonstrate outside State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday during the Super Bowl to call for the Kansas City Chiefs, who are playing for the championship against the Philadelphia Eagles, to change the team's name and mascot. Organizers of the demonstration said Thursday that the use of Native American iconography by sports teams perpetuates racist stereotypes. "The anti-Native mascot movement has always been about the betterment of our Native people, not hatred towards others who are football fans," said Amanda Blackhorse, who is Diné. The Cleveland Indians baseball team dropped its name and mascot, changing to the Guardians in November 2021. Washington's football team, now the Commanders, in 2020 dropped the name Redskins, a racial slur, after years of pressure.
Composer Burt Bacharach dies at 94
Pop composer Burt Bacharach, who had more than 70 Top-40 hits, has died at his Los Angeles home, his publicist, Tina Brausam, confirmed Thursday. He was 94. Bacharach's songs became known as swinging, cocktail party classics from the '60s and '70s. They include "I Say a Little Prayer," "Alfie," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," "Close to You," and the Oscar-winning "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head." The singers who performed songs Bacharach wrote, often working with lyricist Hal David, included Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Sergio Mendes, the Carpenters, and Dionne Warwick. "More than 1,000 artists have recorded his music," The Washington Post noted, "a record placing him squarely in the Great American Songbook tradition alongside Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and the Gershwins."