VIDEO: Prostitutes Soliciting Outside Catholic Elementary School — Police Hands Tied by New Trans Law
WATCH: Bill Maher Roasts Woke Revolutionaries Who Scream at ‘Reality,’ Say Biology Is a ‘Theory’
New Video Emerges of Chinese Spy Balloon Being Shot Down
WATCH: Fight Erupts During NBA Game Resulting in Five Ejections
Sixteen House Republicans joined Democrats in voting for a bill on Thursday that would set a vote for Puerto Ricans to determine the future of the territory’s political status.
The legislation, dubbed the Puerto Rico Status Act, passed the House in a 233-191 vote. It calls for setting a plebiscite for Puerto Rico residents to determine whether or not they want statehood, independence or independence followed by free association with the U.S. Additionally, the legislation would establish a federally-funded, objective and nonpartisan voter education campaign that would run before the vote.
All Democrats and 16 Republicans supported the measure, including GOP Reps. Don Bacon (Neb.), Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Mayra Flores (Texas), Andrew Garbarino (N.Y.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Bill Huizenga (Mich.), Dave Joyce (Ohio), John Katko (N.Y.), Dan Newhouse (Wash.), Bill Posey (Fla.), María Elvira Salazar (Fla.), Lloyd Smucker (Pa.) and Fred Upton (Mich.).
Seven of those Republicans — Bacon, Fitzpatrick, Garbarino, Katko, Posey, Salazar and Upton — are co-sponsors of the bill.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) is listed as a cosponsor but voted against the bill on Thursday. The Hill reached out to his office for comment.
Smucker spoke in support of the bill during debate on the House floor Thursday, arguing that the measure would be a “net positive” if Puerto Rico decides to become the 51st state in the U.S.
“We have not provided them every tool we possibly can to ensure they can be prosperous,” Smucker said.
“Let’s give every tool that we possibly can — include full citizenship in the United States of America, if that is what they choose — to be prosperous, to contribute to the American economy, and I think we can look at this as a net positive. It will be a net positive if, indeed, Puerto Rico chooses to become the 51st state,” he later added.
The Pennsylvania Republican did, however, note his understanding of GOP criticisms that the bill came up quickly and leaves several questions unanswered, depending on what Puerto Rico residents decide in the vote.
Salazar celebrated the House passing the bill on Twitter, writing in Spanish that it was “a historic day.”
The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it faces an unlikely future as the chamber requires at least 60 votes for passage.
A group of lawmakers announced a deal on the measure Wednesday night. Shortly after, it was added to the House schedule for Thursday.
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A Third Chinese Spy Balloon Likely Discovered By U.S. Officials Who Don’t Reveal Its Location
U.S. officials reportedly believe that they have identified a third Chinese spy balloon that is likely operating in the air right now, but they did not reveal its location.
The news comes after the U.S. military used an F-22 Raptor to take out a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday using a single air-to-air A9X sidewinder missile fired at an altitude of approximately 58,000 feet. The decision to shoot down the spy balloon came after President Joe Biden allowed it to fly thousands of miles over the continental U.S. during the last several days.
The Washington Post reported that the U.S. officials believe that there is “likely a third operating elsewhere,” but they declined to give the balloon’s location.
An official told the Post that Beijing was embarrassed by the incident. “They’re in a very tough place,” the official said. “And they have very few cards to play right now.”
The second Chinese spy balloon was detected over South America last week, according to U.S. military officials.
“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement. “We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon.”
China was furious after the balloon was shot down, claiming that it was “a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice,” and that it reserves “the right to make further responses if necessary.”
“China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US’s use of force to attack civilian unmanned aircraft,” a statement said. “The Chinese side has repeatedly informed the US side after verification that the airship is for civilian use and entered the US due to force majeure – it was completely an accident.”
“China clearly asked the US to handle it properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner. A spokesman for the US Department of Defense also stated that the balloon will not pose a military or personal threat to ground personnel,” the Chinese concluded. “China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant companies, while reserving the right to make further necessary reaction.”
Biden Official Corrects Record After Claims Chinese Spy Balloons Traveled Over US During Trump Admin
Information suggesting that Chinese spy balloons traveled over the continental United States during the Trump administration was “discovered after” former President Donald Trump left office, a senior administration official told Fox News.
A defense official on Saturday said Chinese spy balloons briefly traveled over the United States at least three times during the Trump administration.
Trump and a number of his top national security and defense officials refuted the claim, telling Fox News Digital that it “never happened.”
But on Sunday, a senior administration official told Fox News Digital that “U.S. intelligence, not the Biden administration” assesses that “PRC (People’s Republic of China) government surveillance balloons transited the continental U.S. briefly at least three times during the prior administration and once that we know of at the beginning of this administration, but never for this duration of time.”
The official told Fox News that “this information was discovered after the [Trump] administration left.”
“They went undetected,” the official told Fox News Digital.
The official explained that Chinese surveillance balloons are “part of a larger pattern.”
“These balloons are all part of a PRC fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, which have also violated the sovereignty of other countries,” the official explained, adding that these activities are “often undertaken at the direction of the People’s Liberation Army.”
The official said that over the past several years, Chinese balloons have been spotted over countries across five continents, including in East Asia, South Asia and Europe.
“Two things can be true at once: this happened, and it wasn’t detected,” the official told Fox News Digital.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials told Fox News on Sunday that a Chinese spy balloon crashed into the Pacific off the coast of Hawaii four months ago. Those officials said that at least one Chinese spy balloon flew over portions of Texas and Florida during the Trump administration.
Judge Hands Marijuana Users a Major Second Amendment Victory
A federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Friday that a law barring marijuana users from owning firearms is unconstitutional.
The ruling is the latest challenge to firearms regulations after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority set new standards for reviewing the nation’s gun laws.
U.S. District Judge Patrick Wyrick in Oklahoma City dismissed an indictment against Jared Michael Harrison, who was charged in August with violating a federal law that makes it illegal for “unlawful users or addicts of controlled substances” to possess firearms.
Harrison’s lawyers had argued the portion of federal firearms law focused on drug users or addicts was not consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation, echoing what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year in a case known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. That case set new standards for interpreting the Second Amendment.
Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, had argued that the portion of the law focused on drug users is “consistent with a longstanding historical tradition in America of disarming presumptively risky persons, namely, felons, the mentally ill, and the intoxicated.”
Wyrick agreed with Harrison’s lawyers, ruling that federal prosecutors’ arguments that Harrison’s status as a marijuana user “justifies stripping him of his fundamental right to possess a firearm … is not a constitutionally permissible means of disarming Harrison.”
“But the mere use of marijuana carries none of the characteristics that the Nation’s history and tradition of firearms regulation supports,” Wyrick said in his ruling.
The decision comes after the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a federal law barring people with domestic violence restraining orders have a constitutional right to own firearms.
Developing: Director and Crew Members Turn as Witnesses for Prosecution Against Alec Baldwin
The director of the ill-fated “Rust” — shot in the shoulder on the movie set — might testify against embattled actor Alec Baldwin at his involuntary manslaughter trial in New Mexico.
Director Joel Souza was injured in October 2021 when Baldwin fired his prop gun during rehearsal, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42. Souza is one of the 44 people on the prosecution’s witness list for the actor’s preliminary hearing later this month.
Hutchins, 42, died after Baldwin fired a prop gun in her direction, unaware it was loaded with a real bullet. Souza, 49, was hit in the shoulder and released from the hospital the following day.
Baldwin, 64, has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the on-set incident, but has repeatedly denied any culpability — and said he’ll fight the charges. The film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is facing the same charges.
Court documents obtained by Deadline show that Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies has lined up a slew of witnesses — many of whom worked on the film — to possibly testify against Baldwin.
Carmack-Altwies listed many employees who worked on the set of “Rust” and spoke out about dangerous conditions there both before and after the shooting.
“Rust” camera assistant Lane Luper, who quit the film over safety issues right before the fatal shooting, may be one of those called to testify. Luper has previously said safety procedures on the film were “fast and loose” — and that Hutchins’ death was the tragic end of a ”perfect storm.”
“What I put in my resignation letter was lax COVID policies, the housing situation driving to and from Albuquerque, and specifically, gun safety, a lack of rehearsals, a lack of preparing the crew for what we were doing that day,” Luper claimed.
Serge Svetnoy, the film’s gaffer who blamed “negligence and unprofessionalism” for Hutchins’ death, is also listed by the DA’s office and could testify.
Svetnoy alleged in a scathing Facebook post following the fatal shooting that producers, including Baldwin, wanted “to save a dime” and hired “people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job.”
Svetnoy also sued Baldwin personally for negligence, claiming he suffered emotional distress after nearly being hit by the bullet that killed Hutchins.
The DA also listed law enforcement officers and investigators as possible witnesses for the Feb. 24 hearing.
Noticeably absent from the list is the film’s first assistant director David Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun. He took a plea deal to avoid a trial; details of his case are sealed.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were both charged “in the alternative,” meaning the jury will decide on which of the two charges — involuntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act — the defendants may be found guilty or innocent.
The first charge carries a maximum sentence of 18 months. Under the second charge, both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed would face a mandatory five year sentence if convicted.
Melania Trump Played Leading Role in Situation Room During Baghdadi Operation
Then-first lady Melania Trump sat in one of the Situation Room’s most important chairs during the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and offered former President Donald Trump advice after the attack, former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller reveals in his new book.
Melania Trump’s presence in the Situation Room was “unexpected,” and she entered as the president’s executive team was “waiting for the final assault” on al-Baghdadi, Miller wrote, according to an excerpt exclusively obtained by the Daily Caller.
“Secretary of Defense Mark Esper quickly gave up his seat and she sat down next to the President, who introduced her to us as if we didn’t know who she was. Her presence was unexpected, to say the least. I wondered how it would play in the press if word got out that the First Lady had popped in to watch a major military operation. Not my problem, I figured. And after all, it was her house,” Miller wrote in “Soldier Secretary: Warnings from the Battlefield & the Pentagon about America’s Most Dangerous Enemies,” set to hit shelves Feb. 7.
The first lady’s presence in the Situation Room has never been reported before. A photo released by the White House shows that Donald Trump was accompanied by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.
Miller, who was the senior director for the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) at the time of al-Baghdadi’s death, is not pictured in the photo. Counterterrorism officials, however, have a precedent of being in the Situation Room during counterterrorism operations, including during the deaths of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Miller’s book offers insights to his time in the Trump administration leading up to the Jan. 6 riot, his three decades of military service, and what has happened to America’s military since 9/11.
Miller claims Donald Trump asked Brig. Gen. Marcus Evans, deputy director for special operations on the Joint Staff, to bring the first lady “up to speed.”
After a discussion about what may happen, Evans told the group that the U.S. “assault force had unleashed their combat dog” into the building with al-Baghdadi, “with our commandos close behind,” Miller wrote. Al-Baghdadi was cornered and detonated a suicide vest, killing himself, his two children, and two of his wives.
“The assault force commander wouldn’t declare ‘Jackpot’—the code word announcing that Baghdadi was dead—until the body was inspected. They would also take some tissue to check for a DNA match once they got back to friendly territory. [Then-deputy national security advisor Matt] Pottinger and I knew that some poor kid was searching through the dust-and smoke-shrouded rubble with his helmet-mounted lamp and handheld flashlight, trying to find Baghdadi’s head,” according to Miller.
Miller recounts how Donald Trump then asked the group what would happen to the bodies, to which Milley responded that he would be buried at sea. Donald Trump pressed Milley on what would happen to the “two women” who were killed, and Milley suggested the bodies could be left there, according to Miller.
“Don’t you think ISIS will parade their bodies around and make it look like they were innocent?” Donald Trump asked, Miller wrote.
Evans then called U.S. Central Command and whispered in Milley’s ear, and Milley said that a “barrage of missiles would pulverize the building” where the operation took place, the book states.
Donald Trump asked the team how he should address the American people about the operation, according to Miller.
Melania Trump, to Miller’s surprise, “took over.”
“You should talk about the dog,” she said, Miller wrote. “Everyone loves dogs.”
Donald Trump agreed.
He brought Conan the dog to the White House and gave him an award, saying he did “such a great job in capturing and killing the leader of ISIS.”
Donald Trump, Pence, O’Brien, Esper, Evans and Milley did not immediately answer to the Daily Caller’s inquiries about corroborating the details.
Parents of children are up in arms that prostitutes are soliciting sex work right outside a California elementary school. Some are saying that a law passed by California Democrats has handcuffed law enforcement in cracking down on sex workers selling their bodies in broad daylight.
KGO-TV conducted an investigation about prostitutes working outside St. Anthony’s elementary school in East Oakland. The San Francisco-based news station captured video of sex workers dressed in minimal clothes and stiletto heels walking the streets near the Catholic school to sell their bodies in the middle of the day with students nearby.
KGO-TV reported, “The I-Team captured videos along E. 15th Street outside the school gate on four different dates over the past couple weeks showing young women wearing barely any clothing walking along the school sidewalk, the street corners, or directly across from the school. All of the videos were captured as children were being dropped off or walked into school.”
Concerned parent Rosa Vargas told KGO-TV said she sees prostitutes near the Catholic school “every day, during all periods of the day.”
Vargas said the sex workers solicit sex so close to the elementary school that they recently “were blocking the entrance of the parking structure” of the school.
“My daughter asked if I liked what the girl was wearing,” Vargas said. “I told her don’t turn around, don’t look. It’s not OK.”
Speaking about pimps near the school, Vargas said, “They’ve followed me a couple times.”
Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo noted that he is receiving complaints about prostitutes every week.
Gallo stated, “I get the call saying, ‘Mr. Gallo I can’t get into my home because the pimp is blocking my driveway.’ It’s constant.”
Gallo said he has seen up to 20 scantily-clad women walking up and down the street, appearing to engage in prostitution. He revealed that some of the girls are as young as 15 years old.
City officials believe some of the women are victims of human trafficking.
Some believe that recent construction along a busy highway caused the sex workers to migrate to residential neighborhoods.
St. Anthony’s has requested more police patrols in the area.
However, St. Anthony’s pastor Ghebriel Woldai said, “It’s not enough. They promised us they will do more presence here.”
Woldai said the parish had requested more patrols from the Oakland Police Department for years, but to no avail.
Rodney Pierre-Antoine – who oversees seven Catholic elementary schools, including St. Anthony’s – said the hands of the police “are somewhat handcuffed.”
Pierre-Antoine is referencing Senate Bill 357, known as the Safer Streets for All Act.
SB 357 states:
Existing law prohibits soliciting or engaging in an act of prostitution, as specified. Existing law also prohibits loitering in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution, as defined, or directing, supervising, recruiting, or aiding a person who is loitering with the intent to commit prostitution, or collecting or receiving all or part of the proceeds of an act of prostitution. Under existing law, a violation of any of these provisions is a misdemeanor. This bill would repeal those provisions related to loitering with the intent to commit prostitution and would make other conforming changes.
Fatima Shabazz of DecrimSexWork CA Coalition – a “coalition of current and former sex workers, organizers, and allies” – said of the bill, “SB 357 repeals a Jim Crow law that criminalized black and trans people in public spaces.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB 357 into law in July, and it went into effect on Jan. 1.
Police officers told KGO-TV that the new law is prohibiting them from rescuing women who they believe are victims of human trafficking.
California State Sen. Scott Wiener – a Democrat who introduced SB 357 – defends the bill.
Wiener argued, “It allowed police officers to arrest a person, not based on what they did, but based solely on how a person looks. So an officer could arrest someone because they were wearing tight clothing, high heels, and extra lipstick.”
Wiener’s office said, “This criminal provision — arrests for which are based on an officer’s subjective perception of whether a person is ‘acting like’ or ‘looks like’ they intend to engage in sex work — results in the disproportionate criminalization of trans, black and brown women, and perpetuates violence toward sex workers.”
Wiener conceded, “That footage is very troubling. We don’t want sex work and solicitation happening by schools, it’s not acceptable for the children and the neighbors.”
Wiener said police officers who said they were handcuffed by the new law were “dead wrong,” and utilizing a “copout.” He alleged that the issue has been around longer than the new law.
He advised police to arrest the pimps and johns.
Oakland officials promise to increase police patrols and install new cameras after the eye-opening report was published.
43-Year-Old USTA Tennis Champion Collapses on Court and Dies
A 43-year-old Nevada man collapsed and died on the court during a tennis match at Red Rock Country Club on January 29, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Ryan Vannah was pronounced dead at Summerlin Hospital later in the day.
“He took impeccable care of his health,” Tami Vannah Kang, the deceased man’s sister, told LVRJ. “We did not see this coming,” she added.
Ryan Vannah reportedly “dropped to a knee” during a tiebreaker mixed doubles match, placed his hands on the court, and lay down.
Despite doctors’ best efforts to revive the Red Rock Country Club tennis champion, they were unable to restart his heart.
Vannah’s sister-in-law, Dr. Catherine Vannah, was among the people who attempted to revive him on the scene, according to LVRJ.
The coroner’s office had not ruled on an official cause of death as of Tuesday, LVRJ reported. However, Summerlin Hospital medical staff said they believed he was on the wrong medication for his blood pressure.
Vannah was a lifelong tennis player who won United States Tennis Association championships in doubles in for the past two years.
He is survived by his parents, three siblings, a fiancée, two brothers-in-law, a sister-in-law, and 13 nieces and nephews, LVRJ also reported.
A memorial service will be held for Vannah at 10 a.m. on February 11 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Las Vegas.
Vannah’s death comes on the heels of a number of instances in which young, seemingly healthy athletes and non-athletes have suffered strokes, heart attacks, and similar medical emergencies, with some losing their lives.
There is considerable controversy regarding these reports, with some insisting there has been no spike in deaths among athletes at all.
Some medical professionals suspect the issues are related to COVID vaccine side effects like myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. Other medical professionals passionately deny the theory, calling it a “hoax.”
Florida Surgeon General Joe Ladapo tweeted about an analysis pointing to a high incidence of cardiac-related deaths among COVID-vaccined young men in September 2022. Twitter first blocked the post and later restored it, Politico reported.
Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin is one athlete in this category. He suffered cardiac arrest on January 2, 2023, after tackling Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.
Inspired by the quick medical attention that saved Hamlin, the NFL and the American Heart Association are providing free CPR education during Super Bowl week, ESPN reported.
Convicted Pedophile, Who Raped and Tortured Children Found Dead in Jail Weeks Before Sentencing
A convicted pedophile who allegedly raped and tortured children was found dead in a U.K. prison cell while he was awaiting sentencing for his sex crimes.
Andrew Hadwin, 39, was found guilty of three counts of rape, seven counts of neglect, and one count of perverting the course of justice in January. Hadwin’s partner Cheryl Pickles, 35, was found guilty of five counts of child cruelty and one of perverting the course of justice.
Hadwin and Pickles were scheduled to be sentenced on April 28.
However, Hadwin was found dead inside his cell at the HM Prison Durham on Thursday, according to the U.K. Ministry of Justice.
The cause of the convicted pedophile’s death was not immediately known.
A prison spokesperson said, “As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will investigate.”
Authorities were tipped off about alleged child abuse carried out by Hadwin and Pickles in 2018 after one of the children told another adult about the disturbing torture.
MEAWW reported, “Detectives found in the inquiry panning four years and involving over 150 witnesses – that the couple repeatedly abused their children by forcing them to eat soap, locking them in cupboards, making them take boiling hot showers and baths, and not giving them access to food. The children, who were sometimes submerged under water as punishment, often scavenged for scraps and were found on one occasion walking alone to a supermarket at 4 a.m. hoping to find some food.”
According to the LBC, “One child was left with life-limiting injuries and others were regularly hurt, Teesside Crown Court heard during their trial.”
Another child was reportedly dangled over a highway as a method of torture.
When Hadwin and Pickles were questioned about the accusations of child abuse, the couple allegedly forged letters by the children apologizing for making false allegations.
However, a handwriting expert debunked the letters and determined that the adults had actually written the letters said to be written by the children.
Detective Constable Kat Pudney, of Durham Constabulary’s Safeguarding Unit, said of the alleged child abuse, “This was an extremely complex and distressing investigation for all involved, the likes of which I have never encountered during my time as a police officer. Hadwin and Pickles subjected several vulnerable children to multiple forms of abuse, robbing them of their childhood, and undoubtedly leaving them with psychological wounds which they may never truly recover from.”
Colombia Releases Information on Second Chinese Balloon
Colombian officials have released further information about what is thought to be a second Chinese spy balloon after it was spotted over Latin America.
Sightings of mysterious Chinese balloons have alarmed governments across the Americas since one was first spotted over the continental U.S. in late January.
On the morning of February 3, the Colombian Air Force said it had detected an object at an altitude of above 55,000 feet after it entered the country’s airspace.
The air force said on February 4 that an object with “characteristics similar to those of a balloon” was above the “northern sector of the country, mobilizing at an average speed of 25 knots.”
It continued: “Through defense systems, the Colombian Air Force tracked the object until it left [Colombian] airspace. In this way, it was determined that it did not represent a threat to national security and defense, as well as to aviation safety.”
Investigations have been undertaken to establish the origin of the object.
While Chinese business opportunities have expanded in Colombia in recent years, the country reportedly does not have strong political ties with Beijing.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies: “Colombia’s political and security relationship with the PRC [People’s Republic of China] has been limited.
“This arguably reflects Bogotá’s perception that deepening political and security ties with the PRC might damage its close and important relationship with the United States.
“Nonetheless, despite perceptions that the PRC is more of a threat than an opportunity in the commercial arena, the presence of Chinese companies and their representatives in the country has expanded remarkably.”
Pentagon officials confirmed on Friday that they were aware there was another balloon flying over the Americas.
Images shared on Twitter appeared to show the second balloon passing over Colombia and Venezuela.
A Chinese spy balloon that had been spotted above the U.S. was brought down off the coast of South Carolina.
While President Joe Biden had given the authorization to shoot it down on Wednesday, it was decided to postpone bringing the balloon down until it posed less risk to the public.
A February 4 Pentagon press release said: “Military commanders had determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload.”
The Pentagon said China launched the balloon in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the U.S.
According to The Washington Post, officials have said it is highly likely a third Chinese spy balloon is operating somewhere but did not give further details.
Chinese officials and state media responded to the U.S. reaction to the balloon with criticism and anger.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry described it as a “civilian airship” that was mostly used to monitor the weather, an explanation rejected by the Biden administration.
Relations between the U.S. and China are tense following Beijing’s provocations towards Taiwan, which it regards as part of its sovereign territory. Taiwan itself strongly rejects such claims.
The spy balloon has sent relations plummeting further and led Secretary of State Antony Blinken to announce he had canceled a trip to Beijing, which would have been the first high-level meeting between the U.S. and China in years.
Biden has come under fire from his detractors over his handling of the spy balloon issue and Republican senators took to Twitter to express their disappointment with his decision to not shoot the balloon down earlier.
Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted on Friday: “First, shoot down the Chinese spy balloon over the United States.
“Second, shoot down the one over Latin America. Third, rebuild our military to stop China’s global domination.”
Trump Responds to Biden Admin Claims That Chinese Spy Balloons Flew Over US on His Watch
Former President Trump and a number of his top national security and defense officials refuted Biden administration officials’ claims that Chinese surveillance balloons briefly transited the continental United States during the Trump administration, saying it “never happened.”
A defense official on Saturday said Chinese spy balloons briefly traveled over the United States at least three times during the last administration.
But Trump and his officials said that did not occur and criticized the Biden administration for spreading disinformation.
“This never happened. It would have never happened,” Trump told Fox News Digital on Sunday morning, adding that Beijing “respected us greatly” under his leadership.
“It never happened with us under the Trump administration and if it did, we would have shot it down immediately,” Trump said. “It’s disinformation.”
Trump said the Biden administration is spreading this because “they look so bad, as usual.”
“They are incompetent,” he said.
Former Trump White House national security adviser John Bolton told Fox News Digital that he never heard of anything like this under his tenure.
“I don’t know of any balloon flights by any power over the United States during my tenure, and I’d never heard of any of that occurring before I joined in 2018,” Bolton said. “I haven’t heard of anything that occurred after I left either.”
Bolton said that if the Biden administration has “specific examples, they need to tell Congress.”
He added: “I can say with 100% certainty not during my tenure.”
Robert O’Brien, wh served as White House national security adviser from 2019 to 2021, told Fox News Digital that he had no knowledge of anything like this occurring.
“Unequivocally, I have never been briefed on the issue,” O’Brien said, telling Fox News Digital that his team, which included Matt Pottinger, who served as deputy national security adviser, and Allison Hooker, who served as senior adviser to Asia, also were not briefed on these activities.
Former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell, who led the intelligence community at the onset of COVID, told Fox News Digital that he did “one of the biggest intelligence deep dives on China, their spying and the origins of COVID” during his tenure.
“It never came up,” he said. “If a balloon had come up, we would have known. Someone in the intelligence community would have known, and it would have bubbled up to me to brief the president.”
And former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who lead ODNI after Grenell and through the end of the Trump administration, also refuted the claim.
“It’s not true. I can refute it,” Ratcliffe said on “Sunday Morning Futures.” “The American people can refute it for themselves. Do you remember during the Trump administration, when photographers on the ground and commercial airline pilots were talking about a spy balloon over the United States that people could look up and see, even with the naked eye, and that a media that hated Donald Trump wasn’t reporting?”
He added: “I don’t remember that either, because it didn’t happen.”
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Heino Klinck told Fox News Digital that he also was unaware.
“I can’t rule out that things occurred that I was unaware of, but I do think something like this, I would have been aware of,” Klinck said.
Former Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper also said he was never told about Chinese surveillance balloons above the United States during his time at the Pentagon.
“I don’t ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States,” Esper said during an appearance on CNN. “I would remember that for sure.”
And former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, who had previously served as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, also told Fox News he never had heard of a Chinese spy balloon while he was in government.”
“Never heard a whisper and I have to think if anything like that happened that would have been a huge issue,” Miller told Fox News Digital. “No. Absolutely never heard of anything like that while I was in government or at the Pentagon.”
It is unclear, at this point, if these activities did take place, and if it was military leadership that chose not to brief civilian leadership on the matter.
The balloon was shot down on Saturday off the coast of South Carolina, after traveling for days over the continental United States.
Senior defense officials said Saturday was the first time the U.S. had the chance to shoot down the balloon over water. Officials could have shot the balloon down over Montana and northern U.S. states, but out of an abundance of caution, chose to wait until it was transiting over water to prevent any risk to civilians or civilian property.
Harry’s Mystery ‘Older Woman’ Lover Comes Forward, Confirms Prince’s First Sexual Encounter
A former worker at King Charles’s home has outed herself as the “older” woman who took Prince Harry’s virginity.
Sasha Walpole, who is now 40 and just two years older than Harry, said she and the prince had a quickie when she was 19 during the summer of 2001, The Sun reported.
“It was literally wham-bam between two friends,” Walpole said.
The tryst took place in a field behind a pub where both had been drinking while celebrating Walpole’s birthday. They downed shots of tequila, Baileys and sambuca and stepped outside to smoke, according to the report.
They walked through a beer garden and climbed over a fence to the field.
Walpole said Harry wore boxers and there was no chatting or words. Afterward, they made their separate ways back to the pub and, although they had been gone just minutes, the prince’s security team was looking for him, she said.
She said a friend ended up driving around with one of the guards looking for Harry, who was in a phone booth down the road.
“I didn’t know Harry was a virgin at the time. Then it kind of dawned on me that perhaps he was,” Walpole said, noting the young prince never had any girlfriends that she knew about.
Harry was two months shy of his 17th birthday at the time. Walpole worked at the stable at Highgrove, his father’s residence, and said the two teens were “mates.”
The identity of Harry’s lover had become a guessing game after the prince described his first time as an “inglorious episode” with an older woman in his bombshell new memoir “Spare.”
He wrote that “she liked horses, quite a lot, and treated me not unlike a young stallion.”
“Quick ride, after which she’d smacked my rump and sent me off to graze,” he wrote.
Walpole said she didn’t mind the “inglorious” description.
“It wasn’t that glorious. We were drunk and having sex in a field,” she said. “It’s never going to be glorious.”
Walpole, now a mother of two who drives excavators, said she hadn’t seen Harry since that night and never planned to reveal the encounter.
“I’ve kept this a secret for 21 years. I would never have said anything if he hadn’t put it in his book,” she said. “I have to say it in my words.”
Speculation about the identity of Harry’s possible lover included Suzannah Harvey, a former model and CEO of Cotswold Airport in England. Harvey had once described a steamy encounter she had with Harry at a Christmas ball.
Actress Elizabeth Hurley denied she was the prince’s lover after rumors swirled that she was the mystery woman.
Santos Accused of Sex Harassment in Capitol Office
Congressman George Santos has been accused of sexually harassing an aide and asking him if he was on Grindr.
Santos, 34, allegedly asked Derek Myers if he was on the dating app and explained that he had a profile.
The pair had been going through letters from constituents on January 25 when the allegations took place, according to the letter sent to the House Committee on Ethics on Friday.
Myers claims that Santos asked him to sit closer after they spoke about Grindr, and allegedly began touching his leg before inviting him to karaoke.
The aide said he declined the invitation, but Santos then moved his hand to his ‘groin area’ and assured him that his husband was out of town and invited him over.
Myers was in the process of being hired by Santos, but was fired a day before he made the allegations because he is facing criminal wiretapping charges in Ohio – something which he denies.
The journalist was charged last year after a small newspaper he ran published audio of courtroom testimony that someone else recorded and sent to him.
He was widely defended by journalism organizations, calling for the charges to be dropped in the name of press freedom.
Myers also released a tape to Talking Points Memo in which he was having a conversation with Santos, but failed to tell him or his chief of staff Charlie Lovett that he was recording them.
Santos said ‘I’ve obvious f***ed up and lied to him, like I lied to everyone else’ while referring to Lovett, though it is unclear what he is admitting lying about.
Posting on twitter, Myers said that he had also filed a report with Capitol Police, adding: ‘These matters will not be litigated on social media or through news media.
‘They are serious offenses and the evidence and facts will speak for themselves if the committee takes up the matter. This tweet is being made public in light of transparency.’
A spokeswoman for Representative Susan Wild, a member of the House Ethics Committee, acknowledged that his letter had been received by her office.
It is the latest in a long line of allegations that Santos is facing, and is the subject of numerous probes into his business and campaign finances.
He gave an interview earlier this week claiming that he has ‘learned his lesson’ and that everything will be ‘above board’ from now on.
The Republican congressman from New York, who stepped down from his committee assignments on Tuesday, argued he has already apologized for his lying, which he claims was only about his educational background.
Santos was exposed by a report in the New York Times which claimed that he falsified his resume and biography claims.
On one occasion, it was claimed that he stole money that he intended to use to pay for lifesaving surgery for a disabled veteran’s service dog, which died from not getting treatment.
He also said he graduated with a degree in economics and finance from Baruch College in 2010, but a Baruch representative told the New York Times there was no record of Santos being in the class of 2010.
Pictures also emerged of him working as a drag queen in Brazil, something that he initially denied and then said it was ‘just for fun’ at a festival despite the images spanning three years.
A watchdog group claimed he’d made multiple campaign finance violations and filed a complaint with the FEC.
They say that he was loaned more than $700,000 despite having only $55,000 in earned income for his campaign
Santos announced in a GOP conference meeting on Thursday morning that he would be stepping down from his assignments on the Science and Small Business committees, reportedly telling his colleagues that he felt he was a ‘distraction.’
Polling from Newsday and Siena College showed that 78 percent of Santos’ New York constituents now believe he should resign.
He is being investigated by the district attorney’s office in Nassau County, N.Y., which is where his congressional district issue. And authorities in Brazil are also seeking to revive a fraud case against him dating from 2008.
Researchers Warn of Dangerous Fungal Illness Rapidly Spreading Across Country ‘Due to Climate Change’
For most people who are suffering from fever, cough and fatigue, the likely culprits are cold, flu or COVID-19.
But for those living in the southwestern U.S., the symptoms could point to Valley fever — and some scientists predict that this illness eventually could spread to other regions.
Named after the San Joaquin Valley in California, Valley fever is an infection caused by breathing in the spores of a fungus called Coccidioides, which originates in the soil.
Southern Arizona and Southern California have the highest volume of cases, per the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — but the disease is also prevalent in New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Texas and parts of Washington State.
As of 2019, Valley fever cases topped 20,000 nationwide, the CDC reported.
Reported cases tripled in that state between 2014 and 2018, according to the California Department for Public Health.
Dr. George Thompson, a professor at UC Davis Health and co-director of the Center for Valley fever in Sacramento, told Fox News Digital about the ramp-up in cases.
“We have seen a gradual increase in cases over the last five years, and a greater number of patients are coming into our clinic for diagnosis and treatment,” he said.
“Some [people] may have a fever, chills or fatigue, or just feel generally unwell.”
While geographic location heightens the overall risk of contracting Valley fever, the CDC notes that certain groups are more vulnerable.
These include people 60 years of age and older; those who have weakened immune systems as a result of certain diseases or medical conditions; pregnant women; people with diabetes; and people who are Black or Filipino.
Symptoms of Valley fever tend to mimic those seen in patients with COVID-19, experts say.
“Some [people] may have a fever, chills or fatigue, or just feel generally unwell,” Thompson of UC Davis Health said.
However, he said he does see some severe cases where patients experience respiratory illness.
Thompson estimated that for 1%-3% of people, the infection will leave the lungs and travel to other parts of the body — which can lead to meningitis.
Is a nationwide spread possible?
In 2019, a study by Morgan Gorris — which was published in GeoHealth, a journal focused on environmental and health sciences research — suggested that climate change could trigger an expansion of Valley fever into northwestern states, including Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.
“At first, I was skeptical,” said Dr. Thompson of California. “But I’ve recently heard about new cases emerging in Nebraska and even Missouri, so I think it’s in the realm of possibility.”
Valley fever cases are expected to arrive in northern Utah and eastern Colorado by 2035, according to the study. Gorris, the study’s author, also predicts that the disease will become endemic in Nebraska, southeastern Montana, southern Idaho and South Dakota by 2065, and that it could arrive in northern Montana and North Dakota by 2095.
“Valley fever likes undisturbed soil — so as people continue to populate more arid, dry and less developed areas, there will likely be more interaction with it.”
Other research has linked the rising Valley fever cases to an increase in dust storms. Another recent GeoHealth study by Daniel Q. Tong, a scientist and professor at George Mason University in Virginia, found that dust storms in the Southwest have risen by 240% between the 1990s and 2000s, followed by an 800% spike in Valley fever cases between 2001 and 2011.
Purdie, for his part, believes that Valley fever could become more widespread amid changing climate patterns and population growth.
“Valley fever likes undisturbed soil — so as people continue to populate more arid, dry and less developed areas, there will likely be more interaction with it,” he said.
Doctors and patients await a vaccine
While there is not yet a vaccine for Valley fever, Dr. Thompson is optimistic about progress toward that goal. He pointed to three vaccines currently in development, including one that has been successfully tested with dogs.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, recently announced $4.5 million in funding to support research toward diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for the disease.
In the meantime, Thompson often treats Valley fever patients with antifungal medications such as Fluconazole and Itraconazole.
8 Tax Deductions, Credits You May Qualify for in 2023
Tax season is upon us again, with less than 80 days until tax returns are due. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, that means you still have time to take advantage of some commonly overlooked credits and deductions.
As the IRS explains, deductions will reduce the amount of your income before you determine the taxes you owe, and credits can cut the amount of taxes you owe or increase your refund.
While deductions and credits can be helpful, they don’t always have a large impact on your refund (which is expected to be smaller this year).
“There’s no silver bullet,” Mark Steber, chief tax information officer for Jackson Hewitt Tax Services, tells Nexstar. Deductions and credits may result in a couple extra hundred dollars in your pocket, but not thousands.
If you’re self-employed, there are a handful of deductions you can take advantage of, Steber says. For example, if you drive for a rideshare company, you can deduct not only the mileage put on your car but expenses for registering it, servicing, oil changes, gas, and tire maintenance.
If you work from home, you may also be able to deduct certain expenses, according to the IRS.
Medical and dental expenses
You can deduct medical or dental expenses you paid for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents if the amount of your total medical expenses exceeds 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, the IRS reports.
If you’re a teacher, you can deduct up to $250 on any unreimbursed expenses for classroom materials like books, supplies, computers, or other equipment used in your classroom.
There are roughly a dozen tax breaks related to education, according to Steber. One of the most common is a deduction for the amount of interest you’ve paid on your student loans. According to the IRS, you can deduct up to $2,500.
Earned Income Tax Credit
According to IRS data, one in five taxpayers overlook this credit every year, Steber says. EITC is aimed at low- to moderate-income workers that meet multiple qualifications.
While there are roughly a dozen tax breaks related to education (including those mentioned above), Steber highlights two: the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. You can determine if you qualify for either on the IRS’s website.
Qualified adoption expenses may make you eligible for a tax credit and an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance. According to the IRS, expenses include reasonable and necessary adoption fees; court costs and attorney fees; travel expenses; and other expenses directly related to adopting an eligible child. More details can be found here.
Electric vehicle owners
If you purchased a qualifying electric vehicle in 2022 or 2023, the new version of the EV tax credit maxes out at $7,500. Vehicles bought before 2022 can still be claimed under the old credit if you file an amended tax return for the year of purchase.
Don’t qualify for any of these tax breaks? All hope isn’t lost. Steber recommends checking credits and deductions from your state, calling them “a cornucopia of opportunity.” Your state may offer enhanced earned income credit, or other localized tax breaks that could benefit you.
“The tax code is big, it’s complicated,” Steber says. “There’s some downside to that, it makes taxes hard. The upside is there’s a variety of tax benefits, none of which are a magic bullet to add $5,000 to your tax return, but there’s a lot of $500, smaller bullets in there that can add up both at one time or over time to a significant tax benefit and a significant reduction in your overall tax lifetime liability.”
The tax filing deadline falls on April 18 this year for two reasons: April 15 is on a Saturday, and the District of Columbia’s Emancipation Day holiday falls on April 17, the IRS announced last week.
WATCH: Bill Maher Roasts Woke Revolutionaries Who Scream at ‘Reality,’ Say Biology Is a ‘Theory’
Comedian Bill Maher blasted woke revolutionaries who think they can change human nature during his show Friday, drawing parallels between the woke movement in the U.S. and the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
During Friday’s episode of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Maher took aim at leftist activists, saying that they are actually fighting a war with reality and biology.
“If you’re part of today’s woke revolution, you need to study the part of revolutions where they spin out of control because the revolutionaries get so drunk on their purifying elixir, they imagine they can reinvent the very nature of human beings,” Maher said.
If you're part of today's woke revolution, you need to study the part of revolutions where they spin out of control. pic.twitter.com/IYNfDhtR0C
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) February 4, 2023
Maher then discussed communists, who he said believed that they could selfishness from humanity.
“The problem with communism, and with some very recent ideologies here at home is that they think they can change reality by screaming at it, that you can bend human nature by holding your breath. But that’s the difference between reality and your mommy,” Maher said.
The comedian also joked that he had asked ChatGPT about similarities between Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in China and the woke revolutionaries of today, saying that it responded by asking him how much time he had.
Maher referenced Mao’s war on the Four Olds of old thinking, old culture, old customs, and old habits before he compared communist reeducation programs to freshman orientation at American universities.
To back up his claims, Maher pointed to Jason Kilborn, a law professor who was disciplined for alluding to racial slurs in a test question about racial bias, and Winston Marshall, a former banjo player for Mumford and Sons who was criticized after sharing that he liked a book by Andy Ngo.
During the monologue, Maher also blasted those who think they can erase gender and make obesity healthy by creating a new human.
“With communists, that human was no longer selfish. In America today, that human is no longer born male or female. And obesity is not something that affects health. You can be healthy at any size. Seriously, we voted on it,” Maher said.
Maher, who has been critical of gender theory in the past, blasted The Atlantic as a “formerly serious magazine” because it had published an article about not segregating sports by sex.
“I’ve spent three decades on TV mocking Republicans who said climate change was just a theory,” he concluded. “And now I got to deal with people who say, ‘You know what else is just a theory? Biology.’”
Teen Girl Killed in Suspected Shark Attack While Swimming with Dolphins
A teen girl was killed in a suspected shark attack after she jumped into the water to swim with a pod of dolphins in Australia.
According to multiple reports, a 16-year-old girl was jet-skiing on the Swan River in the Western Australian city of Perth around 3:20 p.m. on Saturday.
A 16-year-old boy allegedly witnessed the deadly shark attack. He was with a group of friends who were swinging from a bridge rope swing into the Swan River when they noticed a jetski nearby.
“There were about seven of us, and we were on the rope swing for around an hour or two,” the witness told Western Australia Today. “We saw the dolphins, there were dolphins there.”
“When all the police came by we thought we were in trouble,” he added. “They looked at us and they didn’t tell us about it which is kind of worrying as after this had happened we were still jumping off the rope swing.”
“Another person then came over on a jetski and told us to get out of the water,” the boy explained. “We were so grateful that it wasn’t one of us, of course we’re so sorry for what happened and for the family involved.”
The teen girl was pulled from the Swan River with critical injuries. Emergency crews provided medical treatment, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police Acting Inspector Paul Robinson described the shark attack as “very, very traumatic,” and said the girl’s family was “absolutely devastated by the news” of her tragic death.
“The family weren’t there when this took place, however, her friends were and as you can imagine this is an extremely traumatic incident for anyone to witness so obviously we’re offering counseling services to anyone who did witness it or is affected by the incident,” Robinson said.
The species of the shark in the killing of the teen girl has yet to be identified.
The Department of Fisheries found it very unusual for a shark to be so far down the river.
The fatal shark attack is believed to be the first in the Swan River in a century.
Australian news outlet The Age reported, “The only recorded fatal bull shark attack in the Swan River prior to Saturday’s incident happened in 1923, when a 13-year-old boy was bitten on the thigh while swimming near Mosman Park.”
The National Wildlife Federation noted, “Unlike most sharks, bull sharks can survive in freshwater for long periods of time. They have even been found in the Mississippi and Amazon Rivers. They prefer shallow coastal water, which means they can often come into contact with humans. Bull sharks are often considered to be the most dangerous sharks to humans because of their aggressive tendencies and ability to migrate up rivers.”
China Responds to U.S. Military Shooting Down Spy Balloon
The Chinese foreign ministry responded to the U.S. military shooting down its spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday by claiming without evidence that the balloon was a civilian object and that the country was extremely upset by the action.
An F-22 Raptor took out the spy balloon with one air-to-air A9X sidewinder missile that was fired at an altitude of approximately 58,000 feet. The decision to shoot down the spy balloon came after President Joe Biden allowed the balloon to fly thousands of miles over the continental U.S. during the last several days.
“China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US’s use of force to attack civilian unmanned aircraft,” the statement claimed. “The Chinese side has repeatedly informed the US side after verification that the airship is for civilian use and entered the US due to force majeure – it was completely an accident.”
“China clearly asked the US to handle it properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner. A spokesman for the US Department of Defense also stated that the balloon will not pose a military or personal threat to ground personnel,” the statement continued. “China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant companies, while reserving the right to make further necessary reaction.”
Biden tried to take a victory lap over the weekend after the spy balloon was shot down, claiming that he “ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible,” but that the decision was made to not shoot it down over land because debris could cause damage when falling to the ground.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the spy balloon was sent to the U.S. “in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States.”
Biden faced intense scrutiny from top lawmakers who said that the spy balloon should have been shot down last month when it crossed over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.
New Video Emerges of Chinese Spy Balloon Being Shot Down
New video emerged Saturday afternoon showing close-up footage of the moment that the U.S. military shot a Chinese spy balloon out of the sky over the Atlantic Ocean.
A senior U.S. military official said that an F-22 Raptor took out the spy balloon with one air-to-air A9X sidewinder missile that was fired at an altitude of approximately 58,000 feet.
Officials waited until the balloon was several miles off the coast of South Carolina before taking the shot in an effort to avoid any damage that may occur from debris falling from the sky.
🚨#BREAKING: Incredible HD footage of the Chinese surveillance balloon being shot down
Watch incredible HD video of the moment when the Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down by a single missile from an F-22 fighter jet from Langley Air Force Base pic.twitter.com/KjwTrgcvcb
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) February 4, 2023
Biden Tries to Take Victory Lap for Shooting Down Chinese Spy Balloon, Gets Slammed By Top Officials
President Joe Biden tried to take a victory lap Saturday afternoon after the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon that Biden allowed to travel across the entire country before destroying.
Biden claimed in remarks to reporters that he “ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible,” but that the decision was made to not shoot it down over land because debris could cause damage when falling to the ground.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the spy ballon was sent to the U.S. “in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and a member of the Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that Biden should have taken out the balloon much sooner “over remote areas of Alaska or Montana.”
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Greene (R-NC) said that it was “indefensible that this threat was eliminated only after great public outcry and the damage to U.S. national security and American sovereignty was already done.”
“The fact remains that President Biden, when faced with the opportunity to protect the homeland from our adversaries, chose yet again to demonstrate weakness on the global stage,” Greene added. “From the Southern border to Afghanistan and, now, Chinese surveillance directly above our homes and sensitive military installations, this President shows he is not interested in protecting American interests.”
— House Homeland GOP (@HomelandGOP) February 4, 2023
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) said that Biden should have “taken care of this before it became a national security threat.”
“I hope we will be able to recover the wreckage to help determine what intelligence the CCP collected while its spy balloon was over our country for days,” McCaul said. “I will be demanding answers and will hold the admin accountable for this embarrassing display of weakness.”
Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO) said that while he was glad the U.S. military shot down the spy balloon, “the damage has already been done.”
“We need answers from the Biden Administration on why it took this long to bring the Chinese spy balloon down and we need [to] ensure that this never happens again,” Schmitt continued.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) slammed the entire episode as “a tremendous embarrassment for the United States of America.”
Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) called the ordeal “an abysmal security failure by Biden.”
Some Democrats, including Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), were not happy about the incident, saying that “the Chinese government’s incursion into our airspace is unacceptable & we need to treat it as such.”
“There need to be consequences for the CCP beyond the postponement of @SecBlinken’s trip to Beijing,” she said. “All members of Congress need to be briefed on the situation this week and in the future as we learn more from studying the remains of the balloon’s payload. We also need to take steps now to demonstrate to the Chinese government the seriousness of their actions. Whether through new sanctions or tighter restrictions on U.S. exports to China, the message needs to be loud and clear.”
Other notable responses included:
Almost 48 hours after public discovery, the Chinese spying balloon has been shot down.
It makes you wonder, would Biden’s Department of Defense have shot it down if the American people hadn’t found out?
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) February 4, 2023
Like everyone, I'm concerned about the Chinese surveillance balloon, but this is not a new thing.
The CCP has been SPYING on the U.S. for years. It's why I fought with @RepStefanik to pass the American Security Drones Act, which would ban any purchase of non-U.S. drones.
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) February 4, 2023
There needs to be a full, transparent accounting of what happened and why this spy balloon was allowed to violate U.S. territorial sovereignty for so long in the first place.
— Senator Deb Fischer (@SenatorFischer) February 4, 2023
I’m glad to hear the spy balloon was shot down, but it should have been shot down long ago. President Biden should explain himself immediately.
— Rep. Michelle Steel (@RepSteel) February 4, 2023
Now that this embarrassing episode is over, we need answers from the Biden Administration on the decision-making process. Communist China was allowed to violate American sovereignty unimpeded for days. We must be better prepared for future provocations and incursions by the CCP. https://t.co/ao8gy8LAp3
— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) February 4, 2023
Finally. However, this is something that should’ve occurred day ago **before** it entered U.S. airspace. https://t.co/iv6sZi207D
— Rep. Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) February 4, 2023
This was a test by the CCP & Biden failed. The American people deserve answers.
— Ashley Hinson (@RepAshleyHinson) February 4, 2023
Allowing China to fly its spy balloon from coast to coast was a test. Biden failed. With Biden as President, our enemies no longer fear us. China must be held accountable.
— Congressman William Timmons (@RepTimmons) February 4, 2023
Biden is busy campaigning while a Chinese spy aircraft is floating freely over US soil. Including flights over sensitive national security assets like Fort Bragg.
— Richard Hudson Press (@RepRichHudson) February 4, 2023
Report Reveals Where Americans Moved to – and Away from – Last Year
A recent report revealed where Americans moved to last year — and the top places that they left.
Allied Van Lines’ Magnet States Report from 2022 revealed information regarding how Americans are moving around the country. It showed that fewer people packed up and moved last year than they did the years before in 2021 and 2020. Moves in general went down in each state across the nation, which led to a 20% drop over the course of 2022.
In 2022, the top states for Americans to move to included Arizona, which led the pack, followed by South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. The major cities people wanted to move to started with Tucson, Arizona, followed by Sarasota, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; and Nashville, Tennessee.
Americans were also leaving certain states more than others. Illinois in the top spot, with California, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania coming in next.
The top cities that Americans got out of were New York, New York; Anaheim, California; San Diego, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Riverside, California.
Americans were most likely to move on Tuesdays during the week, followed by Wednesdays and Fridays. Most moved in June, followed by July and August.
The report noted that there were also not many major city regions that experienced a significant bump in population last year as more people decided to pack up and head to the suburbs rather than live in the cities.
Some of the cities that are seeing a major bump in residents also saw a spike in home prices because of the increase. However, the cities where people left also had high prices.
New York City’s average home costs 119% more than the average across the country. Riverside, Anaheim, and San Diego also have home prices that are more than the average. Chicago, for one, does not. Its home costs are under the national average, but that could mean that other issues like crime and cost are pushing people out of the city.
According to Neighborhood Scout, Anaheim, California, has a crime problem as well. Its crime index notes that it is safer than just 9% of cities in the United States. New York’s crime index is 15, whereas Riverside’s is 5, and San Diego’s is 17. Chicago’s crime index is also at a 9.
All of the top cities for people to move experienced an uptick in home prices, except for Tucson.
Prior to the pandemic, the report added, the majority of Americans were buying homes fifteen miles away from their previous houses. In the present day, however, they are purchasing homes fifty miles or more away from their prior residences.
A report by Extra Space Storage noted that they believe the housing market will be steadier this year, which could put many people in a situation where they are more able to move.