By Gloria Dickie (Reuters) - One year on from the massive eruption of an underwater volcano in the South Pacific, the island nation of Tonga is still dealing with the damage to its coastal waters. When Hunga-Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai went off, it sent a shockwave around the world, produced a plume of water and ash that soared higher into the atmosphere than any other on record, and triggered tsunami waves that ricocheted across the region - slamming into the archipelago which lies southeast of Fiji. Coral reefs were turned to rubble and many fish perished or migrated away. The result has Tongans str...
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'It's crazy!' Marjorie Taylor Greene fumes over reports of Chinese spy balloons flying over US under Trump
This Tuesday, Raw Story reporter Matt Laslo asked Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene her thoughts on the Chinese spy balloon and reports that similar balloon incidents took place during Donald Trump's time in the White House.
"It didn't happen!" Greene declared. "It did not happen. President Trump said it didn't happen, people in his former administration said it didn't happen, people who didn't even like President Trump from his former administration said it didn't happen -- and then all of a sudden, poof, like a spy balloon has happened? It's crazy!"
Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, told reporters Monday that Chinese surveillance balloon incidents that occurred during the Trump administration and early under the Biden administration were not spotted by NORAD at the time.
"We did not detect those threats. And that's a domain awareness gap that we have to figure out," VanHerck said according to ABC News.
Greene went on to say that she thinks President Joe Biden "literally told America that he is incapable of protecting our country," adding that "there could have been anything in that spy balloon, and it traversed the entire United States, and then they shot it down down after it went over the ocean."
"The whole world knows Joe Biden's weak. He's basically impotent."
The craft spent several days flying over North America before it was targeted off the coast of the southeastern state of South Carolina with a missile fired from an F-22 plane, Pentagon officials said, falling into relatively shallow water just 47 feet (14 meters) deep.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called the operation a "deliberate and lawful action" that came in response to China's "unacceptable violation of our sovereignty."
But China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs blasted the US action in a statement Sunday morning, saying the downing of the "civilian" aircraft was "clearly overreacting and seriously violating international practice."
Saturday afternoon was the military's first chance to take down the balloon "in a way that would not pose a threat to the safety of Americans," a senior defense official told reporters, while still allowing authorities to collect the fallen debris from US territorial waters.
In eyewitness video posted to social media, the balloon appeared to disintegrate in a white puff before its remnants dropped vertically into the Atlantic Ocean below.
Twitter user Haley Walsh posted that she "heard and felt the explosion" in Myrtle Beach, a popular resort town in South Carolina.
President Joe Biden, who earlier Saturday had promised "to take care" of the balloon, congratulated the fighter pilots involved.
"They successfully took it down. And I want to compliment our aviators who did it," Biden told reporters in Maryland.
With additional reporting by AFP
When conservative Republican John Boehner was House speaker during the Barack Obama years, he had nothing but disdain for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Boehner, in fact, has used the words “legislative terrorist” to describe the far-right congressman.
But Jordan went from being someone Boehner regarded as the U.S. House of Representatives’ lunatic fringe to chairing the House Judiciary Committee in 2023 under Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Liberal Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent examines Jordan’s recent activities in his February 7 column, warning that the Ohio Republican is turning that committee into a bastion of conspiracy theories.
“Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has subpoenaed top Justice Department officials, supposedly to investigate the Department’s suppression of information about the persecution of conservative parents,” Sargent explains. “Republicans have long alleged that federal jackboots have terrorized parents for protesting at school board meetings about COVID-19 restrictions and teachings about race and sex.”
The columnist adds, “Democrats will no doubt respond by noting that this claim has been decisively debunked. But Democrats should use these hearings not just defensively, but also, affirmatively, to show that GOP rhetoric, much of it degenerate nonsense, has helped fuel a toxic atmosphere of threats and violence toward educators that has no business anywhere near your child’s school.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat known for his work on the House Judiciary Committee, discussed Jordan’s activities with Sargent.
The congressman said of House Judiciary Republicans, “They don’t want the FBI to investigate people on their side who they’ve spun up over, frankly, b******t claims. You have a right to say just about anything you want, but you don’t have a right to threaten violence.”
Democrats, according to Sargent, need to use House Judiciary hearings to show that Republicans are promoting an environment that is dangerous for educators.
“If Republicans think they can prove FBI harassment of conservatives, let’s air this out,” Sargent argues. “But Democrats can’t function just as fact-checkers, accusing Republicans of ‘conspiracy theories’ and complaining they are ‘stoking the culture wars.’ That could make Democrats seem defensive and responsive, which isn’t sufficient in an environment that’s increasingly shaped by full-blown information warfare.”Sargent adds, “Instead, Democrats should make these hearings about what Republicans did. This entails using spectacle to show what happened to educators as a result of Republicans systematically smearing them with hateful propaganda. Why not try to bring in educators to testify emotionally about the threats and harassment they’ve faced?”
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday night is expected in his State of the Union address to call on Congress to work with the administration to address in a bipartisan manner the fentanyl crisis, administration officials said on a call with reporters.
Biden will call for expanded access to opioid-related addiction treatment and announce he will ramp up efforts to curb fentanyl trafficking at the Southern border and via commercial delivery packages, officials said.
“The opioid crisis is affecting just about every community in every state, and it’s being driven by synthetic opioids like illicit fentanyl,” said Rahul Gupta, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Republicans in Congress have cast blame on the administration for fentanyl drug smuggling, while Democrats argue most seizures of the deadly drug are at the border ports of entry and not via migrants seeking asylum.
White House advisers on the call said the president is expected to lay out several bipartisan priorities, such as expanding access to cancer research, improving health care for veterans and investing in the mental health professions — building on the pillars of a so-called unity agenda.
The administration will also work on a national public health advertisement campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of fentanyl, Gupta said.
One White House guest expected at the State of the Union address lost his 20-year-old daughter, Courtney, in a fentanyl overdose. Now Doug Griffin of Newton, New Hampshire, is raising awareness of the crisis.
Griffin has worked to advocate for better access to substance abuse treatment and, in 2021, wrote a letter to Biden and first lady Jill Biden to address the stigma associated with addiction and barriers to treatment.
Gupta said that the administration will also work to push for opioid addiction treatment for people who are incarcerated.
“This is not a red state problem or a blue state problem,” he said. “This is America’s problem, and (Biden) believes it’s going to take all of us, all of us working together.”
Danielle Carnival, the coordinator for the White House Cancer Moonshot, said that in Biden’s previous State of the Union address to Congress, he stated the goal of the Cancer Moonshot was to cut cancer deaths by at least half over a 25-year period. The program is personal to Biden, who lost his son, Beau Biden, to brain cancer.
She said Biden will highlight the program’s progress. “This is an important issue that impacts virtually every single American family and is the second leading cause of death in this country,” Carnival said.
She said Biden’s remarks will focus on the need to accelerate cancer research and treatment, and that Biden will call on Congress to reauthorize the National Cancer Act, which would “enable us to update our systems for today’s fight against cancer and lock in the strong investment in cancer research that passed in 2016 as part of the broadly bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, which otherwise expires this year.”
Christen Linke Young, the deputy assistant to the president for health and veterans affairs, said Biden wants to address the mental health of veterans, including suicide prevention, by pushing for an expansion of health care services, and for also providing housing for veterans.
Linke Young said Biden will also stress the need to take care of the mental health of young people, and will call on Congress to pass legislation to “ban targeted advertising online for children and young people, enact strong protections for their privacy, health and safety online and improve online privacy and transparency for all.”
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