Live Coverage

Today's News: Feb. 11, 2017

A massive herd of whales beached themselves in New Zealand and about 300 have died so far, and a deadly magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit the Philippines.

Anthony Phelps / Reuters

—A massive pod of pilot whales beached itself in New Zealand, and despite a huge volunteer effort to save them, more than 300 have died.

—A 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit the Philippines and has killed at least six people.

—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).


This live blog has concluded

Trump and Abe Stand Together Against North Korea

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a joint news conference on Saturday night at Mar-a-Lago, responding to North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile.

“North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable,” Abe said, speaking through an interpreter. “North Korea must fully comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.” He pointed to Trump’s presence at the impromptu news conference as evidence of the new president’s commitment to the strength of the alliance.

Then Trump stepped forward to speak. “I just want everyone to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent,” he said. “Thank you.”

The statements were somewhat more measured than the words of South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-Ahn. “Our government, in tandem with the international community, is doing its best to ensure a corresponding response to punish the North,” he said earlier.

The missile was launched hours earlier over the Korean peninsula, flying some 300 miles into the Sea of Japan. It was unclear whether this was a test of a shorter-range missile, a successful flight of the mid-range Musadan missile, or a test of one or more stages of the intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea is attempting to develop.

North Korean weapons development programs, including its nuclear arsenal, have challenged successive American administrations, and now present an early test to the Trump administration.

Yale Changes the Name of Calhoun College Over Ties to Racism


Yale University announced Saturday that it would rename its residential college that bore the name of John C. Calhoun, a Yale graduate, U.S. vice president, white supremacist and advocate of slavery. The college will now be named after Grace Murray Hopper, a mathematician who graduated from the university in 1934 and left a teaching role to enlist in the Navy during World War II. The name change is a reversal of a decision made last spring, when Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, said he would not remove Calhoun’s name, because he thought it better to confront history, not to erase it. In that same spirit, Calhoun’s name will not be removed from the college, but will appear alongside Hopper’s, although the college will only be referred to by the latter. Hopper left her teaching job at Vassar and joined the Navy to help defeat Fascism, and she remained in service most of her life. But she is much better known for her work on early computers, developing code and language that allowed non-specialists to use them. The protest and petition over the college’s namesake began not long after a white supremacist in South Carolina shot and killed nine black worshipper at a church. The backlash led South Carolina to take down the Confederate flag that flew above the state capitol, as well as petitions for other colleges to remove names or images of historical figures who were pro-slavery or white supremacists.

A Deadly Earthquake Hits the Philippines


A 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit the the Philippines late Friday, killing at least six people and injuring more than 100. The city of Surigao, in the country’s southern Mindanao region, was worst hit and the quake shut off power, destroyed homes, and took down a bridge. Since the initial quake, more than 100 aftershocks have been felt. The government set up evacuation centers, but they have struggled to accommodate everyone. More than a thousand people spent the night outside the provincial capitol building, and by morning emergency crews were passing out food and other supplies. Rescue workers are now going through the rubble of toppled buildings, pulling out some trapped survivors. Seismologists say the epicenter struck along the Philippine fault zone, which last moved in 1879.

Hundreds of Whales Die in New Zealand After They Beached Themselves


More than 650 pilot whales have beached themselves in the past two days along a stretch of New Zealand coastline called Farewell Spit, and about 330 have died so far. Dozens of volunteers from around the country worked to keep the whales cool, bucketing water on their bodies, and they managed to push about 100 back to the ocean. But early Saturday morning another pod of 240 swam onto the beach. The rescuers are waiting until the next high tide, which comes Sunday morning, until they can save this new pod. It’s not clear why whales beach themselves. Bite marks from a shark were found on at least one of the whales, so they may have driven themselves onto land looking for safety. Another possibility is that when one whale swims too far onto the coast it becomes confused and sends out a distress call. When other whales come to save it they also become beached. This area in New Zealand, on the South Island, has seen large pods of whales beach themselves before, but never this bad.