10 things you need to know today: February 5, 2023


U.S. destroys Chinese spy balloon as China threatens retaliation

The United States on Saturday shot down a Chinese spy balloon that had made its way across a large swath of the country last week. The Department of Defense said the balloon was shot down at the behest of President Biden, who gave the order to take the device out of commission as soon as it was safely possible to do so. First spotted in Montana, the balloon headed east before eventually making its way to the Atlantic Ocean, where it was shot down off the coast of South Carolina. China’s defense ministry called the move an “obvious overreaction and a serious violation of international practice,” and said it was considering possible forms of retaliation. 

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Pope appeals for peace in final leg of African pilgrimage

Pope Francis appealed for peace as he celebrated Mass in South Sudan on Sunday, in what would become the final leg of his ongoing African pilgrimage. Francis spoke before an estimated 100,000 people gathered to hear him, including a large swath of the country’s political leadership. “Let us accept one another and love one another with sincerity and generosity, as God loves us,” Francis said. The pilgrimage was a rare mission by a religious leader to try and quell the violence that has befallen South Sudan. Despite being the world’s newest nation, only gaining its independence in 2011, South Sudan has been embroiled in bloody civil wars since its founding. 

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Cold weather begins to ease up, but warnings still abound in Northeast

Americans across the Northeast begin to see a bit of a reprieve from the harsh winter weather on Saturday, but cold temperatures and storm advisories remained in effect across much of the region. The life-threatening temperatures finally began to rise, but only after a new national low was set at Mount Washington in New Hampshire, where the wind chill reached -108 degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest ever recorded in the United States. While there were originally 15 million people under a winter weather warning on Saturday morning, that figure had dropped to just one million by the mid-afternoon. The remaining alerts are expected to dissipate throughout Sunday as temperatures continue to rise. 

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Pervez Musharraf, ruler of Pakistan during war on terror, dies at 79

Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan who ruled the country from 2001 to 2008, died on Sunday at the age of 79. The Pakistani Army said Musharraf passed away in Dubai following an ongoing illness. Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, and became the nation’s president two years later. He was best known in the West for supporting the United States in the war in Afghanistan, and became a key part of the slim alliance found between the U.S. and the Middle East during the war on terror. He was eventually exiled from Pakistan after being charged with treason, and was sentenced to death in absentia, though this ruling was later overturned. 

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German Chancellor dismisses claims of threats by Putin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is shooting down claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin had threatened his country. In an interview published Sunday with German newspaper Bild, Scholz dismissed the possibility that Putin had threatened to attack Germany, following a claim from former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the Russian leader had threatened to launch missiles at the United Kingdom. “Putin didn’t threaten me or Germany,” Scholz said, rather, claiming that during their phone calls, “I make it very clear to Putin that Russia has sole responsibility for the war.” Johnson claimed Putin had said it would “only take a minute” to send a missile to the U.K.



Liz Truss blames economic ‘orthodoxy’ for derailing her premiership

Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss has blamed the economic “orthodoxy” in the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party for derailing her premiership. In a new interview published Sunday in the Sunday Telegraph, Truss, whose six weeks in office were marked by instability and saw the shortest reign of any British prime minister, wrote that “the blob of vested interests” had worked against her throughout her time at 10 Downing Street. “I am not claiming to be blameless in what happened, but fundamentally I was not given a realistic chance to enact my policies by a very powerful economic establishment, coupled with a lack of political support,” Truss wrote of her historically low approval ratings. 

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At least 22 dead in Chile as wildfires burn through nation

At least 22 people have died in Chile as wildfires continued to ravage the country throughout the weekend, sending much of the South American nation into a state of emergency. The Chilean interior minister confirmed the deaths on Saturday, adding that there were an additional 1,429 people in shelters and more than 500 injured as a result of the fires. The death toll is likely to rise as the fires continue. Chile has seen record-high temperatures in recent weeks, with much of the forested area throughout the country being set ablaze as officials struggled to contain the devastation. As of Saturday, there were more than 251 individual wildfires burning throughout Chile, though many of these have now been placed under control. 

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Crisis averted as planes avoid crashing at Austin airport

A disaster was averted on Saturday as two planes avoided colliding at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, which occurred when a FedEx cargo plane had to abort its landing after a Southwest passenger plane was cleared to take off from the same runway. The FAA said that the FedEx plane was several miles out from the airport when an air traffic controller gave the all-clear for the Southwest plane to take to the skies. The National Transportation Safety Board described the incident as a “possible runway incursion and overflight.” The FedEx plane would eventually land safely, and the Southwest plane made it to its destination without incident. 

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2023 Grammy Awards to be held in Los Angeles

The 65th annual Grammy Awards will be held on Sunday night, returning to its home in Los Angeles after two years of COVID-related disruptions. While the winners have yet to be revealed, all eyes are on pop superstar BeyoncĂ©. She already has 28 Grammys in her career, and she could become the most-awarded Grammy artist ever with her album Renaissance. Up for numerous awards, BeyoncĂ© would need three Grammy wins to tie and four to beat the most decorated artist, conductor Georg Solti, who holds the current record for most Grammys. Numerous other music superstars, including Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, and Kendrick Lamar, will also be up for some of the night’s top awards. 

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‘Saturday Night Live’ spoofs the debacle over the Chinese balloon

Saturday Night Live returned with host Pedro Pascal. While the show was highlighted by a parody of Pascal’s smash-hit show The Last of Us, the episode’s cold open spoofed the ongoing issues with the Chinese spy balloon. A parody of Katy Tur opened the episode, talking with a Pentagon official who used a ‘Happy Birthday’ balloon to demonstrate the operation that took the Chinese spy device down. The scene then transitioned to Tur interviewing the balloon itself, played by Bowen Yang, who seemed none too happy to have been shot down. As the balloon floated in the ocean, it noted that it had done nothing wrong, and was just trying to live its life. 

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