Look for capsized boat survivors, Biden’s SCOTUS pick, Ben Roethlisberger, COVID-19 and children. This is Thursday’s news.


Authorities are calling off the search for survivors and dozens of people are still missing after a boat sank off the coast of Florida. Reopening schools is not enough. Children need mental health help, said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. And Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is hanging up his boots after 18 years.

🙌 Landing! Laura here, giving you Thursday’s biggest news.

But first, my sweet tooth tingles. 🍦 It’s not a cavity, it’s like Spidey-sense. ‘Cause I just heard Little Debbie ice cream is coming to Walmart in seven flavors, including Nutty Bars and Cosmic Brownie.

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Hope fades off Florida

A sad update. Four more bodies have been found after a suspected human smuggling boat capsized off the coast of Florida five days ago, leaving 34 people missing in the vast waters of the Atlantic, authorities announced Thursday. Coast Guard teams have found five bodies since they began searching a strip of ocean the size of Massachusetts after the only known survivor was ripped from the top of the hull of the overturned boat on Tuesday by members of the crew aboard a passing tug. ‘I have made the very difficult decision…that as the sun sets tonight we will suspend the active search,’ Coastguard Captain Jo-Ann Burdian said. The survivor, who was hospitalized for treatment for dehydration and sun exposure, told authorities the boat left Bimini in the Bahamas on Saturday with 40 people on board and no life jackets. The boat soon encountered rough seas and capsized.

Biden reiterates vow to appoint first black woman to Supreme Court

President Joe Biden on Thursday officially announced the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, praising the liberal jurist as a “model civil servant” and promising to move quickly to appoint his successor. Biden, who has pledged to appoint a black woman to the High Court, said he plans to name his nominee by the end of February. At 83, Breyer is the second-longest-serving associate justice, and his retirement was encouraged by liberals who wanted to ensure Biden’s nominee would benefit from a Democratic-controlled Senate. The president said he would seek advice from both parties and leading scholars, meet with potential candidates and carefully study their past cases before making his decision within the next month. He has vowed to appoint a “historic candidate” who is “worthy of Justice Breyer’s legacy”.

US Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer will retire and President Joe Biden has said he will appoint the first black woman in US history to the Supreme Court bench.

What is everyone talking about

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The children are not well

Reopening schools is a start, but every student in America should have access to mental health professionals after two years of battling the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Thursday. Cardona said school districts should use US bailout funding to hire mental health staff. One of President Joe Biden’s campaign promises was to double the number of school counsellors, social workers and mental health professionals in schools. Cardona’s speech was light on the specifics of how schools need to bolster mental health support and staffing amid the national staffing crisis. US bailout funding, critics have suggested, is not enough.

Cameron West, 9, receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Englewood Health in New Jersey.  Health officials hailed the injections for children ages 5 to 11 as a major breakthrough after more than 18 months of illness, hospitalizations, deaths and interrupted education.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger retires after 18 seasons

Nearly two weeks after a season-ending loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC playoff round, Ben Roethlisberger confirmed what he had basically said was happening for some time: His playing career in the NFL is over. The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback officially announced his retirement Thursday in a social media post, ending an 18-year career — the longest of any quarterback who has played with one team — that included two Super Bowl titles and six Pro Bowl selections. Roethlisberger had made no secret of his plans, saying heading into a Week 17 game with the Cleveland Browns that the game was likely his last at Heinz Field. Steelers fans rained down chants of “Let’s go, Ben” and “Thank you, Ben” from pre-game until well after the 26-14 victory, after which he took a turn to thank those who remained in the crowd. “I am retiring from football a truly grateful man,” Roethlisberger said in the post.

Fans cheer on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after an NFL game against the Cleveland Browns on January 3 in Pittsburgh.  The Steelers won 26-14.  Roethlisberger announced his retirement on January 27, saying it was "time to put away my locker, hang up my crampons" after 18 years, two Super Bowls, team records and a Hall of Fame spot all but assured.

Really fast

✨ Something “scary” discovered among the stars

Who’s there? A team of astronomers discovered ‘something unusual’ while mapping the universe – a mysterious object sending bursts of energy every 20 minutes. The object is about 4,000 light-years away, but its bursts of energy were so great that it was one of the largest radio sources in the sky. The burst happened for one minute, every 20 minutes before fading for a few hours and then repeating the cycle, according to a study published in the journal Nature. “This object was appearing and disappearing within hours during our observations,” said Natasha Hurley-Walker, astrophysicist and lead author of the study. “It was a bit scary for an astronomer because there’s nothing known in the sky that does that.” Researchers aren’t sure what it is, but Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, said there’s no need to worry about aliens because while it’s definitely a unusual discovery, it is “obviously nature”. Well, that’s comforting. I think.

Artist's impression of what the object might look like if it were a magnetar.  Magnetars are incredibly magnetic neutron stars, some of which sometimes produce radio emissions.  Known magnetars spin every few seconds, but theoretically 'ultra long period magnetars' could spin much slower.

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