News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Chinese Spy Balloon, Tech Earnings, and Vanessa Hudgens

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin holds a media briefing at the Pentagon on October 27, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia.
February 3, 2023

Pop It Like It’s Hot

The Story

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a Chinese spy balloon flying over Montana.

Excuse me?

We said what we said. Yesterday, the Defense Department shared that a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon has been flying over the US for days — including Montana. 


Montana? We don’t know for sure. But it’s one of three sites in the US that hosts intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The military says the balloon has been flying over “sensitive” areas. It’s gotten to the point where Defense Sec Lloyd Austin has even briefed the president on military options, including shooting it down with F-22s.

Will it do that?

So far, the military’s advised against it. The Pentagon says Americans in the balloon's path aren’t in danger. But the debris from shooting it down could harm people on the ground.

Pause. How big of a balloon are we talking?

About the size of three buses. If you’re trying to spot it in Montana, a local paper says it’s white and sort of looks like the moon. The military hasn’t confirmed that. And while this isn't the first time that China's sent spy balloons, this one's been hanging around longer than usual.

So…what happens now?

The Defense Dept hasn’t taken the option of shooting the balloon down off the table. And is continuing to track it — but won’t say where it is now. Meanwhile, China says it's investigating the reports and hopes the situation can be handled “calmly and carefully.”


The news may sound like a college freshman’s script idea to combine “Top Gun” with “Up.” But the stakes are high: Sec of State Antony Blinken is visiting China in the coming days. And tensions between the US and China are up over a variety of issues, particularly Taiwan. Now, a balloon floating over the US threatens to raise them even further.

And Also...This

What has Wall Street feeling down... 

Tech earnings. Yesterday, the triple A group — Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet — saw their stocks dip more than 3% after hours. It came after Apple reported its first revenue decline (read: 5% drop) in nearly four years. The tech giant blamed COVID and protests at a key Chinese factory for slowing its production of iPhone 14s. Meanwhile, Amazon beat investors' earnings expectations, but signaled that growth is slowing as customers are looking to chill on spending. And Alphabet's revenue narrowly missed expectations. The gloomy earnings reports come as the tech industry's facing more glitches with the wonky economy, troubles in the digital ad market space, and competition with the surge of AI. But one company that's got a positive status update: Meta. Earlier this week, it announced a restructuring plan to focus on company "efficiency." It was apparently music to investors' ears, since Meta stock jumped around 20%.

What people are talking about…

Guns. Yesterday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives reportedly released its most expansive report in more than 20 years. It found that 54% of guns that police located at crime scenes in 2021 have been legally purchased within the last three years. The report also found that there’s been a rise in conversion devices (like bump stocks) and ghost guns. This comes as the US deals with its highest recorded gun deaths in more than 25 years — especially among Black Americans. The bureau’s director hopes the study can help law enforcement and lawmakers reduce gun violence because “information is power.”

Who’s getting replaced…

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Yesterday, the GOP-led House voted to remove the Muslim congresswoman from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. It’s not a first for Congress. In 2021, the Democratic-led House pulled the unprecedented move of removing Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) from their committee assignments. Now, House Republicans say Omar should not serve on the committee considering past remarks that have been called antisemitic — and condemned by both sides of the aisle. Ahead of the vote, Omar said her removal from the committee wouldn't "diminish" her "leadership and voice" in the lower chamber. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) called the move “political revenge.”

Why hindsight is 20/20…

The Great Resignation. Earlier this month, a new survey found that a majority of workers who quit during that time regretted the decision. Nearly 50 million people are estimated to have quit their job in 2021 as part of the “Great Resignation.” And this study found that out of the 800 employees surveyed, 80% said they regretted it. Most employees left for better pay and benefits, but it seems those perks aren’t enough to keep them happy. Gen Z suffered the most and actually missed their old co-workers. Gen X missed the work-life balance from their previous employer. Meanwhile, most Millennials are saying ‘no ragrets — not even a single letter.’

...Oh and speaking of overworked: these cloned cows can produce nearly double the milk of an average US cow. How dairy they.

What's got people checking their medicine cabinets...

EzriCare Artificial Tears. Yesterday, EzriCare recalled its eyedrops after the product had been linked to 55 cases of bacterial infection and vision loss. One person has also died in connection to the drops.

What's still top of mind...

Paid family leave.

Who’s apparently not shook up over Elvis...

Vanessa Hudgens.

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