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A Chinese spy balloon that's been drifting through U.S. airspace for days was shot down off the Carolina coast Saturday afternoon, President Joe Biden said.
The balloon had spent five days floating from Idaho to the Carolinas, sparking a diplomatic incident between the U.S. and China and a huge political debate in which many Republicans criticized Biden for not downing it quickly – with some encouraging civilians to shoot it down themselves.
Biden's administration decided to leave it in flight until it was over water to minimize risk of debris plummeting to the ground.
The balloon was downed by the U.S. military shortly after the Federal Aviation Administration announced it had "paused departures from and arrivals to" airports in the area "to support the Department of Defense in a national security effort." On Saturday afternoon, the Federal Aviation Administration had issued flight alerts, known as "notice to air missions" or NOTAMs, warning aviators of flight restrictions around Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The Associated Press reported an operation was underway to recover the debris from the ocean.
Some on social media posted videos apparently showing the craft falling from the sky.
The Chinese government had claimed that the balloon was used for weather research and had drifted off course into U.S. airspace, but the Pentagon said it was a surveillance device.
Biden had said earlier Saturday that "we're going to take of it."
Later, upon landing in Hagerstown, Md., after a brief trip to Syracuse, N.Y., Biden told reporters that he "ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible.”
He said the Pentagon didn’t want to do damage to anyone on the ground, according to a White House press pool report.
“They decided that the best time to do that was when it got over water," Biden said. “They successfully took it down and I want to compliment our aviators that did it."
Police arrested a man late Friday for firing off blank rounds from a handgun earlier this week at a San Francisco synagogue.
The man, whose name has not been released, was arrested after police developed probable case to obtain a search warrant at the man's home, where investigators said they found evidence from that incident and another one that happened nearly an hour later, reported KGO-TV.
Video shows the man entering Schneerson Jewish Center on Wednesday evening and firing gunshots, which turned out to be blank rounds, and then flee the synagogue.
"Terrorism doesn't have to have killings," said Rabbi Alon Chanukov, the vice president of the synagogue. "In my mind, what he did was he came and he did a terrorist attack. He came to terrorize people."
Police said he took part in another unspecified incident nearly an hour later.
No injuries were reported in the synagogue shooting, but the congregation took additional security measures ahead of this weekend's services.
The political future of longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has reached a new stage of distress for Democrats as the 89-year-old, five-term U.S. senator remains non-committal about whether she’ll retire in 2024, Politico reports.
Under the headline, “Dianne Feinstein’s extremely awkward, very uncomfortable exit from the political stage,” Politico pointed to a growing list of House Democrats who are already running for a Senate seat she has not said she will vacate when her term is up in 2024. Writer David Siders put it like this:
“An extreme awkwardness has fallen over California political circles, where virtually everyone is acting as if Feinstein is done, but without her explicitly saying so. It’s the electoral equivalent of clearing the dessert from the dinner table as one guest sits there, nibbling at the main course chicken dish that had been served hours prior.”
In an exclusive interview with Raw Story at the U.S. Capitol last week, Feinstein “announced she’s not not running. In fact, she has no plans to decide — let alone announce — her 2024 intentions until next year.
"I need a little bit of time, so it's not this year," she told Raw Story.
A couple days later, she backtracked, and said she'd announce her intentions this spring.
That uncertainty about Feinstein’s future is not setting well with many California Democrats, many of whom have believe “her brand of centrism fell out of step with her party’s progressive base,” Politico noted. It cited the refusal of the California Democratic Party to endorse her 2018 primary candidacy for re-election, which she won easily.
Siders also wrote this:
“More problematic for Feinstein has been the persistent questions about her health. Even Democrats sympathetic to the senator have been reading headlines about her cognitive fitness to serve. The stories about it pop up with such regularity now that they no longer elicit the shock value of the early versions, when publication of such matters seemed to be violating some unwritten code of D.C. conduct.”
The Politico report cited numerous observers with a common theme: Feinstein has overstayed her welcome.
“God bless her,” Garry South, a Democratic strategist who has worked on major statewide campaigns in California, told Politico. “But the most pathetic part of politics is when somebody doesn’t know when it’s time to leave.”
And there was this from an unnamed Democratic strategist:
“What’s sad about this is that she’s always been somebody you didn’t dare mess around with,” the strategist said. “And it looks like that’s just gone.”