While you were sleeping, we compiled the biggest stories of the day in one place. Each story has a quick and easy summary, so you're prepared for whatever the day brings. Just click on the links if you want to know more!
1. Florida GOP rejects rape, incest exception in 15-week abortion ban
Florida Republicans on Wednesday rejected a move to create exemptions for rape, incest and human trafficking in their proposal to ban abortions after 15 weeks, advancing the bill to tighten access to the procedure.
The Senate Health Policy Committee, which is controlled by Republicans, blocked the amendment from Democratic Sen. Lauren Book and then passed the bill on a party lines vote.
Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Republican who sponsored the bill, noted that her proposal was not an all-out ban on abortion and said allowing such exemptions would give criminals more room to hide sexual crimes.
2. Biden directs Pentagon to send troops to Eastern Europe
President Joe Biden is sending about 2,000 troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland and Germany this week, and sending part of an infantry Stryker squadron of roughly 1,000 troops based in Germany to Romania, according to a senior administration official.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that the forces being sent to the region "are not going to fight in Ukraine," but were only being sent to shore up NATO's military forces.
Kirby said the Pentagon intended the military's presence to be temporary, not permanent deployments. But he did not rule out the possibility that more troops could be sent to the region in the weeks ahead.
When asked about the U.S. exit strategy and when the Pentagon would know their mission was accomplished, Kirby said that troops would be removed when NATO's eastern flank was "appropriately postured and able to defend itself."
3. 2 cases of 'stealth' omicron found in Florida, reports say
The new BA.2 substrain of omicron, dubbed "stealth" omicron, has been detected in Florida.
It received this moniker since it is harder to detect than the original version of omicron because of specific genetic traits.
The report stated that the people who tested positive for "stealth" omicron were a 69-year-old woman on Jan. 11 and a 32-year-old man on Jan. 16.
It is unclear in which Florida counties the two people tested positive for the BA.2 substrain.
4. Florida speedskater Brittany Bowe named US flag bearer
Former Florida Atlantic basketball player and current speedskater from Ocala Brittany Bowe will represent the U.S. at the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics.
Bowen is steeping in for bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor was originally elected to walk alongside curler John Shuster, but the 37-year-old three-time medalist recently tested positive for COVID-19.
It seems a fitting turn of events for Bowe, who just last month made her own Olympic sacrifice for another hopeful when she gave up her spot in one of her events to her childhood friend who slipped during the trials.
5. NASA says International Space Station will remain operational until 2030
NASA says operations on the International Space Station (ISS) have been extended to 2030. After that, projects like the International Space Station will come from the private sector.
Over the next decade, NASA says astronauts on the ISS will continue to perform important experiments.
NASA expects to begin deorbiting the ISS in 2031 when it would then crash into the Pacific Ocean.
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On This Day In History
On Feb. 03, 1959, rising American rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson are killed when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza plane crashes in Iowa a few minutes after takeoff from Mason City on a flight headed for Minnesota. Investigators blamed the crash on bad weather and pilot error. Holly and his band, the Crickets, had just scored a No. 1 hit with “That’ll Be the Day.”
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