The Case of the Popped Spy Balloon
WHAT’S THIS? The Stringer publishes a news roundup—with a global bent.
The Case of the Popped Spy Balloon
Over the weekend, near the South Carolina coastline, the U.S. military shot down a balloon. That balloon, which had been tracked over the skies of Montana, was a Chinese spy airship, the U.S. claimed.
China has admitted that the balloon originated there, but says that its purpose was “meteorological.” However, the Pentagon also claims a second balloon was spotted over Latin America — and that the pair are part of “a vast surveillance program” scouting out foreign militaries.
Tensions, as you might imagine, are high. And this latest incident hasn’t been good for the already fraying relationship.
In an atmosphere where both political parties in the U.S. are wrestling over who’s tougher on China, relations between the countries are threatening to go out like the Hindenburg.
POLITICS and WORLD
THE IRON FIST: Forty-seven pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong are on trial for “conspiracy to commit subversion” under an aggressive law. The repression follows sizable protests in China, which may have unnerved the Chinese Communist Party a bit.
EARTHQUAKE: Turkey suffered a massive earthquake near the Syrian border that’s killed at least 872 people, as of writing.
NEW YEAR, OLD PRESIDENT: In his State of the Union address, U.S. President Joe Biden doubled down on his plans to resuscitate the American middle class. “We’ve been sent here to finish the job, in my view,” Biden said on Tuesday night. The speech was a little cloying, but not surprising.
OUT ON A RAIL: It’s been a week of speeches that re-upped, actually. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, announcing his priorities for the year, fixed his sights on the fossil fuel industry.
RUBBER AND GLUE: The U.S. House hasn’t opened a probe into Rep. George Santos of New York, whose addiction to lying makes him the most inscrutable man in Congress at the moment. Though, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said that it had.
BUSINESS and ECONOMICS
BOOM GOES BUST: Zoom gave 1,300 people pink slips, and CEO Eric Yuan took a 98 percent pay cut. In the forced switch to “remote” life during the pandemic, the videoconferencing business was booming. Zoom was perhaps the most conspicuously successful company to profit from the closures. But now, tech is less sure-footed.
UNRELIABLE NAVIGATOR: With its ChatGPT tool, OpenAI’s struck a wellspring of press. Wanting some for itself, Google launched its own. But the real, multi-billion dollar prize is to build a search engine that uses this tech. Pursuing that, Microsoft accidentally published an interface for Bing that relies on ChatGPT. But big picture, if chatbots are going to be the new search sherpas, there’s some work to do. Notably, they make things up and otherwise give false impressions, which sorta ruins the point of an internet search, no?
BOOK BANS: Florida Governor Ron De Santis’ war against “inappropriate” knowledge continues, with Florida schools emptying library shelves so they can sort out what kids shouldn’t get to learn. Meanwhile, kids in the state are still struggling to read, well, anything.
THE OPPOSITE OF MIND CONTROL: The Taliban’s attempt to ban TikTok isn’t going well… See, it’s not all bad news.
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