China has now confirmed a surveillance balloon found hovering over the U.S. is Chinese; a drug to treat COVID-19 is creating mutations and robots are taking over Amazon. These stories and more highlight the daily afternoon rundown for Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. 

Blinken postpones China trip amid controversy

China is claiming the balloon found hovering over sensitive sites in the western U.S. was a weather research satellite that had blown off course. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was said to be traveling to China this weekend for important discussions with the Chinese president about the war in Ukraine. Now, those conversations are on pause as the U.S. monitors what they believe to be a spy balloon belonging to Beijing hovering over the country.

Matters of airspace security have been brought into question and all eyes are on how the White House will respond.

Texas winterization efforts working

Harsh winters can be a difficult climate for the south to handle. Texas has been put to the test this winter with several hard freezes and one severe ice storm that hit parts of the state this week. But so far, energy experts are applauding the state’s efforts to keep power on.

In 2021 more than 100 people died as a result of the state’s energy grid failing. Rolling blackouts lingered during back-to-back ice storms that brought temperatures as low as 6 degrees. Since then, Texas has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in updates to better winterize their facilities.

Gov. Greg Abbott also signed legislation to reform the state’s power grid and operations. Officials say that so far, it seems to be working.

Merck drug creating new COVID mutations

A drug given emergency authorization by the FDA to treat COVID-19 back in 2021 is creating new concern worldwide. According to a new study, Merck’s COVID-19 drug is causing mutations of the virus.

While the new strands are said to be harmless for now, researchers say this is highlighting the risk of using drugs that tinker with COVID’s genetic code.

The anti-viral drug was initially seen as a breakthrough treatment. But it was quickly overshadowed by a Pfizer COVID-19 pill, so it hasn’t been widely used in the U.S. But in China, the use of the Merck drug has just been approved.

Researchers worry what COVID-19 mutations could, once again, originate in China and spread around the world.

Robots taking over Amazon workforce

Amazon’s workforce could be taken over by robots by 2030. One investor is predicting that more than half of Amazon workers will be robotic in 7 years. 

The investor says Amazon is adding about 1,000 robots each day. She calls it a “robot revolution.” And robots are already edging out people for Amazon jobs. Right now, about one third of Amazon’s workforce consists of machines.

According to the investor, going robotic is saving companies big time by cutting costs on human labor.

ChatGPT sets record as fastest growing app

If you haven’t heard of ChatGPT yet, you’re quickly falling behind the times. The AI chatbot is taking over your phone’s app store.

100 million people used the app in January, and after launching just two months ago, it’s now the fastest-growing phone app in history. For reference, it took TikTok nine months to reach 100 million users and it took instagram more than 2 years.

With so much popularity, it’s now time to capitalize. The company is rolling out a $20 monthly subscription for users to unlock certain features of ChatGPT.

Arrest made in Dallas Zoo monkey theft

Now to a story Straight Arrow News has been following closely that has led to bizarre headlines. A missing leopard, a dead vulture and stolen monkeys. These cases have al come out of the Dallas Zoo.

A major update has come down Friday that a 24-year-old man has been arrested in connection to one of these mysteries: the disappearance of two monkeys. Davion Irvin has been charged with six counts of animal cruelty related to the monkeys missing from the Dallas Zoo.

The monkeys were reported stolen from their habitat on Monday. By Tuesday, they were found unharmed in the closet of an empty home.

The Dallas Zoo continues to seek answers in recent events.

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