Spy balloon keeps a rollin’

The Chinese spy balloon keeps a rollin’ across the United States. Relying on the reporting of Bloomberg (which has to be stripped of its credulity over the White House spin) and the Associated Press, I wanted compile the facts roughly making out what we know as of this morning while adding a few comments of my own.

• The observant Mr. Chase Doak spotted the spy balloon traversing Montana on Wednesday. “Not gonna lie,” tweeted Doak as his video went viral. “First, I thought this was a #ufo. Then, I thought it was @elonmusk in a Wizard of Oz cosplay scenario. But it was just a run-of-the mill Chinese spy balloon!”

• On Thursday afternoon, the Billings Gazette published a photo of the balloon. The cat was out of the bag.

• “As it turns out, US authorities were well aware of the unidentified object that had entered American airspace on Jan. 28, that had then left and re-entered over North Idaho on Tuesday. But with such a high-profile trip at stake, keeping it on the down-low was key.”

• Bloomberg does not state when the authorities determined it was a Chinese spy balloon. However, in other words, the Biden administration knew all about it and intended to remain mum. They intended to remain mum to preserve the viability of Secretary Blinken’s planned trip to Beijing this weekend.

• LOL, as though this is a coincidence: “The gravity of the situation was only exacerbated by Montana being home to Malmstrom Air Force Base, which houses a large portion of the US’s Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

• LOL: China claims an innocent misunderstanding. Their Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement that the balloon was merely a weather research “airship” that had blown off course.

• The Pentagon rejected that out of hand — as well as China’s contention that the balloon, about the size of two school buses, was not being used for surveillance and had only limited navigational ability.

• Biden’s daycare minders in the White House want it to be known that Biden “ultimately decided to let the balloon continue on its way as the US sought answers from the Chinese embassy in Washington, but they struggled to obtain satisfactory responses. US officials said they were baffled by China, which itself appeared to be caught off-guard by the bizarre [sic] incident.”

• The Chinese side (to borrow their term) has invested in the family business and otherwise taken Biden’s measure. They think Biden is a chump. They think they have him in their pocket. They have nothing but contempt for him.

• This is the best they’ve got: “The airship is from China.” However: “It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”

• And this: “The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure,” the statement said, citing a legal term used to refer to events beyond one’s control.

• No word on whether the Chinese side regrets entry of “a second balloon flying over Latin America.”

• “We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement, declining to offer further information such as where it was spotted.

• Per the AP this morning, “China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a question about the second balloon.”

• LOL: Also per the AP this morning, as to the spy balloon traversing the United States, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs again emphasized that the balloon’s journey was out of its control and urged the U.S. not to “smear” it based on the balloon.

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