US military retrieves ‘significant’ debris from China spy balloon | First Thing

US military retrieves ‘significant’ debris from China spy balloon | First Thing

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The US military has recovered “significant debris” from a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon shot down this month, the Pentagon has said, after the White House claimed China had been operating a high-altitude balloon program spying on the US and its allies for many years.

The US Northern Command said in a statement: “Crews have been able to recover significant debris from the site, including all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces identified as well as large sections of the structure.”

The balloon, shot down off the coast of South Carolina on 4 February, was the first of a series of mysterious objects shot down by the US military over an eight-day period in North American airspace.

However, China’s surveillance program, according to John Kirby, the US national security council spokesperson, dates back to at least the administration of Donald Trump, which he said was oblivious to it.

What did John Kirby say? “It was operating during the previous administration, but they did not detect it,” Kirby said. “We detected it, we tracked it. And we have been carefully studying to learn as much as we can.”

What’s happening in Canada? An object roughly the size of a small car was shot down over a rugged section of Canada’s Yukon territory. Canadian crews are searching the vast and bitterly cold landscape for any debris. Residents along the coast of Lake Huron have found themselves at the centre the search for unidentified flying objects.

Three people killed in shooting on Michigan State University campus

Three people were killed and five more injured in a shooting at Michigan State University. Photograph: Bill Pugliano/Getty ImagesAt least three people were killed and several more injured in a shooting at Michigan State University, according to campus police. The suspected attacker died from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

University police tweeted yesterday that shots were fired in two locations: near an academic building called Berkey Hall and an athletic facility known as IM East. Michigan State University (MSU) police initially ordered students and staff to shelter in place after a report of shots fired around the school’s East Lansing campus.

An alert was sent shortly after 8.30pm by the university’s police department, advising students to “run, hide, fight”. After searches that went on for more than four hours, MSU police announced at 12.30am on Tuesday that the suspected shooter had been found dead off campus.

What have the police said? While appealing for information from the public, the police said it was unclear what the motive for the attack may have been and work to identify the suspect was ongoing. Earlier in the evening, police released images of the suspect, describing him as a short male wearing a mask.

Cyclone Gabrielle worst storm to hit New Zealand this century, says PM

The Waiohiki bridge and surrounds inundated by the Tūtaekurī River after Cyclone Gabrielle made landfall near the city of Napier. Photograph: AFP/Getty ImagesNew Zealand is in a national state of emergency, as Cyclone Gabrielle batters the country, with floods trapping people on roofs, thousands displaced and landslides destroying homes in what officials have described as an “unprecedented” natural disaster.

“Cyclone Gabrielle is the most significant weather event New Zealand has seen in this century. The severity and the damage that we are seeing has not been experienced in a generation,” the prime minister, Chris Hipkins, said on Tuesday. “We are still building a picture of the effects of the cyclone as it continues to unfold. But what we do know is the impact is significant and it is widespread.”

About 2,500 people have been displaced so far, officials said on Tuesday afternoon – but that number may shift, as there are still large areas that are unreachable and cut off from telecommunications.

The country announced a national state of emergency on Tuesday as the scale of damage inflicted by the storm emerged.

How much damage is there? With a number of regions completely cut off on Tuesday, assessing the extent of the damage was proving extremely difficult, and there were no formal numbers so far on numbers of people evacuated, injured, or homes destroyed.

In other news …

A clerk inspects the cargo of a truck in a convoy carrying tent and shelter kits at Bab al-Hawa, currently the only route to rebel-held Idlib. Photograph: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images
The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has agreed to open two border crossing points to allow in a greater volume of emergency aid for victims of the earthquake that has devastated parts of Turkey and Syria, and killed 36,000 people.

The South Carolina senator Tim Scott is reportedly taking steps to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. A stringent conservative and the only Black Republican in the US Senate, Scott, 57, has worked publicly if unsuccessfully with Democrats on attempts to agree to policing reform.

A former Michigan State University basketball star pleaded guilty on Monday to second-degree murder and a firearm charge in the fatal 2021 shooting of a Detroit man. Keith Appling, 31, pleaded guilty to one count each of second-degree murder and felony firearm in the killing of Clyde Edmonds, 66.

A Canadian environmental publication has announced plans to sue the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), arguing it violated the rights of a photojournalist after she was arrested and detained while on the job. The lawsuit, if successful, could have significant implications.

Don’t miss this: ‘Cowering to politics’ – how AP African American studies became the most controversial course in the US

The course removed texts by writers and academics including bell hooks, Angela Davis and Kimberlé Crenshaw – as well as a portion on the Black Lives Matter movement. Illustration: Marta ParszeniewKeziah Ridgeway says teaching African American history is about “being the teacher that I never had”. The Philadelphia public high school teacher remembers growing up learning a “sanitized” version of Black history: MLK, Rosa Parks, maybe Malcolm X. It wasn’t until she pursued a degree in history and “began to read everything I could get my hands on” that she realized how much she had been missing. “African American history, when taught correctly, creates critical thinkers. And it creates children who question: ‘Why are things the way that they are in society?’.” After Florida’s governor vowed to block the class, a revised version – with key writings removed – sparked swift backlash.

… or this: My most romantic moment – I thought my boyfriend had indigestion. He was actually about to propose

‘Our holiday to Naples had been cancelled and we decided to stay in with a Chinese takeaway. While my hands were covered in grease, his were sweaty with nerves.’ Illustration: Leon Edler/The Guardian“I don’t go on many holidays,” writes Michael Cragg. “But in late 2019, I booked a trip to Naples with my boyfriend, Ben. We found an Airbnb, planned a trip to one of the nearby islands and meticulously mapped out all the best pizza restaurants within a 20-mile radius. A week or so before we were due to leave, however, Ben put his back out. A last-ditch attempt to snap it back into shape via a trained professional only made things much, much worse.  » …
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