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Top News: (1/30-2/5)

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

Here are the top stories for this week all summarized so you can stay informed and save time!

All sources are at the end of the post.

F-22 Safely Shoots Down Chinese Spy Balloon Off South Carolina Coast:

Air Force Capt. Samuel “RaZZ” Larson, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team commander and pilot, performs an aerial maneuver during the team’s certification flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 9, 2022.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden ordered the destruction of a Chinese spy balloon. This was delayed until the balloon was over water off the coast of South Carolina to ensure no Americans on the ground were harmed. Officials first detected the balloon and its payload on January 28 when it entered US airspace near the Aleutian Islands. The balloon traversed Alaska, Canada, and re-entered US airspace over Idaho. Prior to shooting it down, US officials took steps to protect against the balloon's collection of sensitive information, mitigating its intelligence value to the Chinese. Rather than posing a military or physical threat, the balloon’s intrusion into American airspace will enable US analysts to examine sensitive Chinese equipment. While Chinese officials admitted that the balloon was theirs, they said it was a runaway weather balloon. The mission now transitions to one of recovery. There are a number of US Navy and Coast Guard vessels establishing a security perimeter around the area where the balloon came to Earth.

Britain Faces Largest Ever Healthcare Strikes as Pay Disputes Drag on:

People hold placards during a strike by NHS nurses and other medical workers, amid a dispute with the government over pay, in London, Britain, January 18, 2023. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Britain is facing its largest-ever strike by health workers as tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance workers walk out in an escalating pay dispute. The two groups have been striking separately on and off since late last year but Monday's walkout involving both, largely in England, will represent the biggest in the 75-year history of the National Health Service. Health workers are demanding a pay rise that reflects the worst inflation in Britain in four decades, while the government says that would be unaffordable and only fuel further price rises. The NHS, historically a source of pride for most Britons, is under extreme pressure with millions of patients on waiting lists for operations and thousands each month failing to receive prompt emergency care. The RCN initially asked for a pay rise of 5% above inflation and has since said it could meet the government "halfway", but both sides have failed to reach an agreement despite weeks of talks. Around 500,000 workers, many from the public sector, have been staging strikes since last summer, adding to pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to resolve the disputes and limit the disruption to public services such as railways and schools.

Half a Million Jobs Created in January Pushes U.S. Unemployment Rate to Lowest in 54 Years – 3.4%:

By K. Mitch Hodge

Data released this week showed the U.S. unemployment rate reaching its lowest point in 54 years, the fewest jobless Americans as a percentage of the population since 1969. Sustained job growth over the past year pushed down the unemployment rate to 3.4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not only that, the median earnings for all workers were 7.4% higher at the end of 2022 compared to a year earlier, outpacing inflation. Black workers, young workers, and people on the bottom of the income scale saw the most significant pay increases in the last 12 months. Unemployment is also near record lows for Blacks and Hispanics, at 5.4 percent. The bureau reported widespread growth across industries, with notable gains in restaurants and bars, retail stores, healthcare facilities, professional and business offices, and construction.

Deep in a South Dakota Gold Mine, Physicists Prospect for Dark Matter:

A mile below the surface in South Dakota in an abandoned gold mine, using a detector that is part of the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment, a UMD physics team is hunting for a yet-undiscovered particle that could explain the mystery of dark matter in the universe. Credit: Matthew Kapust, Sanford Underground Research Facility

A research team in the South Dakota mountain town of Lead are trying to lure particles of dark matter from outer space. They're prospecting for WIMPs or "weakly interacting massive particles," which are thought to have formed when the universe was just a microsecond old and which may exist unseen all around us. They are conducting LZ experiments where particle collisions produce bursts of light. Researchers then work backward, using the characteristics of these flashes of light to determine the type of particle. If WIMPs are observed, they could hold clues to some of the most perplexing problems in physics: the nature of the mysterious, hypothetical substance called "dark matter" and the very structure of the universe itself. However, many of the current scientists working there say that the chances are slim, but the possibility of other new observed particles may give them clues.


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