Daily Briefing: The story behind the story about Hunter Biden's laptop
Former Twitter executives said a story about Hunter Biden's laptop was suppressed because of concerns about Russian meddling. Also in the news: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to travel Thursday to quake-hit provinces amid ongoing criticism that the government’s response has been too slow. We look at how K-12 schools are struggling to recover pandemic learning losses.
🙋🏼♀️ I'm Nicole Fallert, Daily Briefing author. Check out these Black-owned businesses you can support this Black History Month.
Now, here we go with Thursday's news.
Takeaways from the Hunter Biden laptop hearing
The House hearing Wednesday into Twitter’s brief suppression of a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop outlined the queasiness of former executives to block links to the article and provided a bare-knuckle arena for partisan lawmakers to debate allegations against President Joe Biden.
The background: Former Twitter executives told the House Oversight and Accountability Committee the company blocked links to the New York Post story in October 2020 because of similarities to the posting of leaks from hacked Democratic computers before the 2016 election.
The executives called the 24-hour suppression a mistake and said it was difficult to judge between contentious and dangerous speech during a campaign. But Republican lawmakers argued Twitter’s decision could have thrown the election to Biden rather than former President Donald Trump.
The laptop has become a focal point of Republican investigations because it contains a trove of documents and pictures about Hunter Biden. The first accusation in the New York Post story is that vice president Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its prosecutor general for investigating Burisma, a company that employed Hunter Biden.
Democrats called the hearing “silly” and a "bizarre political stunt" because Twitter is a private company free to make its own decisions about what to publish. Democrats also questioned the basic allegations against Biden stemming from the laptop as “categorically false.”
👉 Keep reading our takeaways from the hearing.
Deaths in Turkey, Syria earthquake surpass 16,000
The search for survivors grew more desperate, the homeless problem more acute and the death toll rose Thursday as rescuers labored to find signs of life amid the rubble of Monday's earthquakes and aftershocks that laid waste to a wide swath of Turkey and Syria. The total of 16,000-plus fatalities, the largest worldwide for an earthquake event in more than a decade, is expected to rise. Experts says the survival rate in an incident of this magnitude is below 25% after 72 hours, and the frigid temperatures make the chances even slimmer. Rescue experts say it will take months to stabilize the region and years to recover from the disaster. Read more
More news to know now
🔵 With an eye on 2024, Biden brought his economic message to Wisconsin.
⚠ Democratic Sen. John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke on the campaign trail, was hospitalized for lightheadedness.
❄ Snow is expected Thursday in New York and New England.
🏈 NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke on Damar Hamlin, Commanders, concussions and more.
🎧 On today's 5 Things podcast, USA TODAY Justice Department Correspondent Bart Jansen looks at the House GOP investigations into the Bidens. You can listen to the podcast every day on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your smart speaker.
🌤 What's the weather today? Check your local forecast here.
Courthouse evacuated after reported bomb threat during Murdaugh trial
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division confirmed that a bomb threat was received by personnel at the Colleton County Courthouse Wednesday. The threat interrupted the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh, 54, who has been accused of killing his family in an attempt to distract from his alleged financial crimes and buy time and sympathy. Just a few hours after jurors began hearing testimony, Judge Clifton Newman ordered that the courtroom be evacuated. The South Carolina Attorney General's Office confirmed that the threat was "phoned in." Read more
A Texas man pleaded guilty in a racist, deadly 2019 El Paso Walmart shooting.
Officials lift evacuation order for residents near Ohio train derailment
Evacuated residents can return to the Ohio village where crews burned toxic chemicals after a train derailed five days ago now that monitors show no dangerous levels of toxins in the air, authorities said Wednesday. Around-the-clock testing inside and outside the evacuation zone around the village of East Palestine and a sliver of Pennsylvania showed the air had returned to normal levels that would have been seen before the derailment, said James Justice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Hundreds and hundreds of data points we've collected over the time show the air quality is safe," he said. Read more
Just for subscribers:
👀 What happened when a college student trolled the gun show in Las Vegas.
🏠 ''I deserve to be let home,'' Sarah Jo Pender said. The man who prosecuted her agrees.
⚾ Patrick Mahomes' dad as Super Bowl 57 nears: Cigars, revenge and Chiefs QB's baseball love.
💵 Russell Wilson's Why Not You Foundation raises millions. Less than half goes to charity.
These articles are for USA TODAY subscribers. You can sign up here.
How do we recover pandemic learning losses?
Half of the nation's students began this school year a full year behind grade level in at least one subject because of COVID-19 pandemic disruptions, new national data from the federal Education Department shows. It's as if students are doing the 2021-22 school year all over again. K-12 schools are experimenting with myriad strategies – from social-emotional learning to high-dosage tutoring to individualized learning – to catch kids up. But even with all of those interventions, however, students may have a long way to go. Read more
📷 Photo of the day: Award-winning 'dream' image of a leopard at sunset 📷
A German photographer has won The Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award. Out of 25 images selected as finalists, Sascha Fonseca's image of a snow leopard posed against the Indian Himalayas was chosen by thousands of voters. Click here to read more about the story behind the image.
One more thing
🏀 Brooklyn Nets are trading superstar Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns.
💰 ''Dances With Wolves'' actor Nathan Chasing Horse' bail was set at $300K.
🟣 New Title IX rules are coming in May. Here's what to expect.
💻 A new algorithm detects autism in infants. How might that change care?
🗨 3.5 tons of cocaine worth over $300 million were discovered floating in the Pacific Ocean.
Nicole Fallert is a newsletter writer at USA TODAY, sign up for the email here. Want to send Nicole a note? Shoot her an email at NFallert@usatoday.com or follow along with her musings on Twitter. Support journalism like this – subscribe to USA TODAY here.
Associated Press contributed reporting.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hunter Biden's laptop, Turkey-Syria earthquake, Ohio train derailment, NFL, Kevin Durant: Daily Briefing