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5 things to know for Feb. 17: Biden, Earthquake, Ohio toxic train, Ukraine, Tesla

By Alexandra Meeks, CNN

Investigators are searching for answers after a mass shooting this week at Michigan State University shocked the community. Many students are struggling to make sense of the tragedy as school officials now face the difficult task of easing back into academics and athletics amid heightened anxiety.

Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

(You can get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Biden

President Joe Biden on Thursday said his administration still doesn’t know “exactly” what the mysterious objects over North American airspace were — but there’s no indication they were tied to China’s spy balloon program or “surveillance vehicles” from other countries. US intelligence officials have said that the objects were most likely balloons tied to private institutions or research. Separately, Biden underwent a routine physical on Thursday and his physician said he remains “healthy” and “vigorous,” and is “fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.” The physical comes as Biden, who would be 86 at the end of a potential second term, has faced consistent questions about his age and health from conservative critics. The exam offers likely the last health update on the oldest president in history ahead of his expected reelection announcement.

2. Earthquake survivors

At least three more people have been pulled alive from the rubble of a devastating earthquake 10 days after it struck parts of Turkey and Syria. A rescued 17-year-old was dubbed the “miracle girl” when she was found alive underneath the debris in Turkey on Thursday, 248 hours after the February 6 quake. Her rescue was later followed by that of two others, ages 30 and 12, who told rescuers that there were more people buried nearby. Nearly 44,000 people have died in the region following the powerful 7.8 magnitude quake, according to authorities. More than a week on from the disaster, rescue efforts have shifted to recovery operations as a cold winter spell and logistical challenges continue to hamper aid deliveries.

3. Ohio toxic train

State and federal officials held a news conference Thursday in East Palestine, Ohio, as residents expressed frustration about the response to a train carrying potentially deadly materials that derailed in their town nearly two weeks ago. Michael S. Regan, the head of the EPA, aimed to reassure residents that authorities are focused on keeping them safe. “I want the community to know that we hear you, we see you, and that we will get to the bottom of this,” Regan said, adding that the EPA plans to hold the train company Norfolk Southern accountable for its role in the derailment. An evacuation order was lifted on February 8 after air and water samples led officials to deem the area safe. Since then, nearby residents have been urged to drink bottled water as a precaution.

4. Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has ruled out ceding any territory in a potential future peace deal, saying it could lead Russia to “keep coming back,” he told BBC News. This comes as Ukrainian troops are running low on weaponry — and are burning through ammunition faster than the US and NATO can produce it. Lawmakers in the EU parliament also said in a resolution adopted Thursday that European leaders must “seriously consider” providing Kyiv with fighter jets — a move that many Western officials have said is off the table. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has switched his preferred mode of transportation from a private plane to an armored train out of fear that his aircraft might be tracked and shot down, investigative reporter Ilya Rozhdestvensky told CNN.

5. Tesla

Tesla is recalling all 363,000 US vehicles with its so-called “full self-driving” driver assist software due to safety risks, another blow to the feature that is central to the automaker’s business model. “Full self-driving,” as it currently stands, navigates local roads with steering, braking and acceleration, but requires a human driver prepared to take control at any moment, as the system makes judgment errors. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that, based on its analysis, Tesla’s FSD feature “led to an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety based on insufficient adherence to traffic safety laws.” It warned FSD could violate traffic laws at some intersections “before some drivers may intervene.” Tesla will attempt to fix the FSD feature through an over-the-air software update.


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‘The White Lotus’ theme song has become a club hit

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Winning images from Underwater Photographer of the Year competition

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Ryan Seacrest announces his final season of ‘Live with Kelly and Ryan’

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Which politician announced this week that she’s running for president in 2024?

A. Liz Cheney

B. Nikki Haley

C. Sarah Palin

D. Kamala Harris

Take CNN’s weekly news quiz here to see if you’re correct!


Famed broadcaster Tim McCarver, who also won two World Series during a long Major League Baseball career, died of heart failure on Thursday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced. He was 81. Upon his retirement from baseball in 1980, McCarver was a broadcaster and later spent several years as an analyst for Fox, ABC and CBS, where he called a then-record 23 World Series and 20 All-Star Games.



That’s approximately how many new Covid-19 cases the US is still seeing per day, according to the CDC. While the virus threat is easing —  and many people have returned to their pre-pandemic lives — data shows only about 16% of the US population has received a dose of the updated Covid-19 booster. Medical experts are renewing their calls for Covid-19 vaccinations to improve the overall immunity in the population so it is less likely that a more dangerous variant could develop.


“I’m so proud of him for asking for help.”

— Gisele Barreto Fetterman, after her husband, Democratic Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, checked himself into a hospital this week “to receive treatment for clinical depression,” his office announced Thursday. Fetterman is a freshman senator and was elected in November after suffering a stroke in May of last year.


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Tasting fried flowers

In some parts of the world, fried flowers are sold by fancy restaurants and street vendors alike. Some taste sweeter than others. (Click here to view)

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