US considering plan to down Chinese balloon over Atlantic
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is considering a plan to shoot down a large Chinese balloon suspected of conducting surveillance on the U.S. military, by bringing it down once it is above the Atlantic Ocean where the remnants could potentially be recovered, according to four U.S. officials. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation, said it was unclear whether a final decision had been made by President Joe Biden. In a brief remark Saturday in response to a reporter’s question about the balloon, Biden said: “We’re going to take care of it.”
State of the Union: Biden sees economic glow, GOP sees gloom
WASHINGTON (AP) — Going into Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Joe Biden sees a nation with its future aglow. Republicans take a far bleaker view — that the country is beset by crushing debt and that Biden is largely responsible for inflation. And the GOP now holds a House majority intent on blocking the president. The harder reality is that the United States is on a tight rope, trying to balance efforts to reduce inflation with the need to stay upright and avoid falling into a recession. That’s with the seemingly inherent contradiction of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases and the unemployment rate falling to a near 54-year low.
‘Died suddenly’ posts twist tragedies to push vaccine lies
Results from 6-year-old Anastasia Weaver’s autopsy may take weeks. But online anti-vaccine activists needed only hours after her funeral this week to baselessly blame the COVID-19 vaccine. A prolific Twitter account posted Anastasia’s name and smiling dance portrait in a tweet with a syringe emoji. A Facebook user messaged her mother, Jessica Day-Weaver, to call her a “murderer” for having her child vaccinated. In reality, the Ohio kindergartner had experienced lifelong health problems since her premature birth, including epilepsy, asthma and frequent hospitalizations with respiratory viruses. “The doctors haven’t given us any information other than it was due to all of her chronic conditions.
In Tyre Nichols’ neighborhood, Black residents fear police
MEMPHIS (AP) — In a terrible way, the death of Tyre Nichols brings vindication to members of the Black community in Memphis who live in constant fear of the police. Often, before, people didn’t believe them when told how bad it is. The fatal beating of Nichols, 29, by five police officers tells the story many residents know by heart: that any encounter, including traffic stops, can be deadly if you’re Black. Examples abound of Black residents, primarily young men, targeted by police. Some are in official reports. Anyone you talk to has a story. Even casual discussions in a coffee shop net multiple examples.
50-car train derailment causes big fire, evacuations in Ohio
EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — A train derailment and resulting large fire prompted an evacuation order and a declaration of a state of emergency in an Ohio village near the Pennsylvania state line on Friday night, covering the area in billows of smoke lit orange by the flames below. About 50 cars derailed in East Palestine as a train was carrying a variety of freight from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, rail operator Norfolk Southern said in a statement Saturday. There was no immediate information about what caused the derailment. No injuries were reported. Mayor Trent Conaway of the village of East Palestine declared a state of emergency, citing a “train derailment with hazardous materials.” Norfolk Southern said the train was carrying more than 100 cars, 20 of which were classified as carrying hazardous materials, defined as cargo that could pose any kind of danger “including flammables, combustibles, or environmental risks.” The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday that it was “launching a go-team to investigate” the derailment, and board member Michael Graham would “serve as spokesperson on scene.” Firefighters have been pulled from the immediate area and unmanned stream devices are being used protectively while crews try to determine which cars are still actively burning, village officials said in a separate statement Saturday.
Dangerously cold temperatures envelop Northeast
BOSTON (AP) — The Arctic air that descended on the Northeast on Saturday brought dangerously cold sub-zero temperatures and wind chills to the region, including a record-setting wind chill of minus 108 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 78 C) on the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. In addition to the U.S. record low wind chill, the Mount Washington Observatory at the peak of the Northeast’s highest mountain, famous for its extreme weather conditions, recorded an actual temperature of minus 47 (minus 44 C), tying an observatory record set in 1934. Across the rest of the region, wind chills — the combined effect of wind and cold air on exposed skin — dropped to minus 45 to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 43 to minus 45 C), according to the National Weather Service.
Route to Super Bowl is long, dangerous for Mexican avocados
SANTA ANA ZIROSTO, Mexico (AP) — It is a long and sometimes dangerous journey for avocados destined for guacamole on tables and tailgates in the United States during the Super Bowl. It starts in villages like Santa Ana Zirosto, high in the misty, pine-clad mountains of the western Mexico state of Michoacan. The roads are so dangerous — beset by drug cartels, common criminals, and extortion and kidnap gangs — that state police provide escorts for the trucks brave enough to face the 40-mile (60-kilometer) trip to packing and shipping plants in the city of Uruapan. Truck driver Jesús Quintero starts early in the morning, gathering crates of avocados picked the day before in orchards around Santa Ana, before he takes them to a weighing station.
Dems decide to shake up start of 2024 presidential primary
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Democratic Party on Saturday approved the reordering of its 2024 presidential primary, replacing Iowa with South Carolina in the leadoff spot as part of a major shake-up meant to empower Black and other minority voters critical to its base of support. Although changes are still possible throughout the summer and beyond, the formal endorsement by the Democratic National Committee during its meeting in Philadelphia is an acknowledgement that the start of the 2024 primary will look very different from the one in 2020. States with early contests have a major influence in determining the nominee because White House hopefuls struggling to raise money or gain political traction often drop out before visiting states outside the first five.
Electronic pollbook security raises concerns going into 2024
ATLANTA (AP) — They were blamed for long lines in Los Angeles during California’s 2020 presidential primary, triggered check-in delays in Columbus, Ohio, a few months later and were at the center of former President Donald Trump’s call for supporters to protest in Detroit during last November’s midterms. High-profile problems involving electronic pollbooks have opened the door for those peddling election conspiracies and underscore the critical role the technology plays in whether voting runs smoothly. Russia and Iran already have demonstrated interest in accessing the systems. Despite their importance and potential vulnerabilities, national standards for the security and reliability of electronic pollbooks do not exist and efforts underway to develop them may not be ready or widely adopted in time for the 2024 presidential election.
Why a new Alzheimer’s drug is having a slow US debut
The first drug to show that it slows Alzheimer’s is on sale, but treatment for most patients is still several months away. Two big factors behind the slow debut, experts say, are scant insurance coverage and a long setup time needed by many health systems. Patients who surmount those challenges will step to the head of the line for a drug that delivers an uncertain benefit. Here’s a closer look. THE SITUATION The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Leqembi, from Japanese drugmaker Eisai, in early January. It’s for patients with mild or early cases of dementia tied to Alzheimer’s disease.
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