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Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat meet amid spy balloon tensions

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The diplomats met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference

Diplomats from the United States and China met for the first time since the U.S. military shot down a balloon that the Pentagon says was part of China’s massive surveillance program run by its military.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a meeting with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Blinken told him the violation of American airspace by a Chinese balloon can never happen again.

After traveling across the continental U.S. from coast to coast, the U.S. government shot down the Chinese spy balloon on Feb. 4 over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina.

According to Blinken, Wang did not apologise for the incident during their meeting.

Before their sit-down Wang accused the U.S. of violating international norms with behaviour that he characterised as ‘unbelievable’ and ‘almost hysterical’ by shooting down the balloon.

Blinken rebutted by saying that the U.S. did not overreact in shooting down the balloon and that there was no doubt it was attempting to engage in active surveillance.

“What I can tell you is this, what is what is clear is that once the balloon was over the United States and flying basically west to east, it attempted to surveil very sensitive military sites in some cases it loitered or returned to them as it progressed east,” Blinken said.

“There is no doubt in our minds at all that ‘a’ this was a surveillance balloon and ‘b’, it was attempting to engage in active surveillance,” he explained.

In the week following the take down of the Chinese spy balloon, the U.S. military also shot down three mysterious objects—one over northern Alaska, the Yukon and Lake Huran.

On Saturday, the U.S. announced that it has called off the recovery operation for the Chinese spy balloon and the search for the mysterious downed objects.

Veronica Dudo is the U.S. Correspondent for Ticker News covering America’s biggest headlines. As an Emmy® Award nominated global journalist, Veronica has traveled across the country and around the world reporting on historical events that connect all citizens. Lauded as an award-winning international journalist, Veronica has executed stellar news coverage for NBC News, CBS News, The Hill, ME-TV Network and AOL. Her stories have highlighted a plethora of topics ranging from breaking news and politics to economic affairs across the USA, European Union, and Asia; cultural affairs; globalization; governance; education; and sustainability.

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BREAKING: Shots ring out at Trump rally

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Donald Trump was whisked off the stage at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania after loud noises rang through the crowd.

Trump was showing off a chart of border crossing numbers when bangs started ringing through the crowd. Trump could be seen reaching with his right hand toward his neck. There appeared to be blood on his face.

He quickly ducked behind the riser as agents from his protective detail rushed the stage and screams rang out from the crowd. The bangs continued as agents tended to him on stage.

His motorcade has left the venue.

In a statement, Trump says he is “fine” and says he is being checked at a medical facility.

Donald Trump was safe, the U.S. Secret Service and his campaign said on Saturday after multiple shots rang out at a rally by the Republican presidential candidate in Pennsylvania as video showed Trump grimacing and raising a hand to his right ear.
The former president had just started his speech when gunshots erupted and Trump and other rally attendees hit the deck. Secret Service agents swarmed around him and live video showed blood on the right side of Trump’s face and ear.
 
Trump repeatedly raised his fist in the air, with an American flag visible behind him, as security ushered him away.
“The Secret Service has implemented protective measures and the former president is safe,” a spokesperson for the agency said on X after what it called an incident.
“This is now an active Secret Service investigation and further information will be released when available.”

A map of the site, showing where the alleged gunman was situated compared to Donald Trump.

CNN reported that Trump was injured, but gave no other details. It was not clear how or what injuries he may have sustained.

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NASA astronauts phone home, confident Boeing’s Starliner will return to Earth safely

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Stranded NASA astronauts express confidence in Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, assuring its capability to safely transport them back to Earth from the International Space Station.

The astronauts, over a video call to NASA, highlighted Starliner’s enhanced safety features and testing protocols as reassuring factors for their safe return.

“I have a real good feeling in my heart that this spacecraft will bring us home, no problem…”, said Sunita “Suni” Williams, one of the stranded NASA astronauts.

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Franchising vs. Independent: key differences to choosing the right SMB model

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With latest Australian Federal budget, many SMB’s are weighing their options when selecting a suitable business model.

Franchising provides brand recognition, operational support, and economies of scale but involves ongoing fees.

Independent businesses offer full control and profit retention but face higher costs and regulatory challenges.

For risk and reward, the franchising model reduces risk through established practices and support but involves ongoing fees and profit-sharing with the franchisor.

On the alternative, independent businesses retain full control of profits but face higher risks and responsibilities in managing the business.

Sonia Shwabsky, CEO at Kwik Kopy Australia, joins to share her key insights on SMB’s. #featured

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