NEWS, SPORTS, COMMENTARY, POLITICS for Gloucester City and the Surrounding Areas of South Jersey and Philadelphia

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1.   China on Monday accused the United States of indiscriminate use of force in shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, saying it “seriously impacted and damaged both sides’ efforts and progress in stabilizing Sino-U.S. relations.” The U.S. shot down the balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America. China insisted the flyover was an accident involving a civilian aircraft.

2.   Russian forces are keeping Ukrainian troops tied down with fighting in the eastern Donbas region as Moscow assembles additional combat power there for an expected offensive in the coming weeks, Ukrainian officials said Monday. Russian President Vladimir Putin is hungry for some battlefield success, especially securing illegally annexed territory in eastern Ukraine, to mark the anniversary of his invasion on Feb. 24.

3.   A former Israeli prime minister who served briefly as a mediator at the start of Russia's war with Ukraine says he drew a promise from the Russian president not to kill his Ukrainian counterpart. Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett emerged as an unlikely intermediary in the war's first weeks, becoming one of the few Western leaders to meet President Vladimir Putin during the war in a snap trip to Moscow last March.

4.   President Joe Biden will deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday evening on Capitol Hill as congressional committees gear up to begin their work for the new session. House Armed Services Committee members will have their first non-organizational meeting just a few hours before the presidential address. The hearing, on national security threats posed by China, is expected to gain even more attention in the wake of the shooting down of a Chinese surveillance balloon spotted above the United States last week.

5.   Around 50 U.S. service members, veterans, and their families gathered atop a hill on this installation south of Seoul to remember a seasoned combat veteran who helped turn the tide of the 1950-53 Korean War. The ceremony paid respects to the memory of Army Capt. Lewis Millett, who led the soldiers of Easy Company, 27th Infantry Regiment, in what the Army regards as its last major bayonet charge. The charge took place at Osan on Feb. 5, 1951, according to the Army. Millet was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.