Yuma Sun

US jet shoots down unknown object flying off the coast of Alaska


WASHINGTON – A U.S. military fighter jet shot down an unknown object flying off the northern coast of Alaska on Friday on orders from President Joe Biden, White House officials said.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the object was downed because it was flying at about 40,000 feet (13,000 meters) and posed a “reasonable threat” to the safety of civilian flights, not because of any knowledge that it was engaged in surveillan­ce. Asked about the object’s downing, Biden on Friday said only that “It was a success.”

Kirby described the object as roughly the size of a small car, much smaller than the massive suspected Chinese spy balloon downed by Air Force fight jets Saturday off the coast of South Carolina after it transited over sensitive military sites across the continenta­l U.S.

The twin downings in such close succession are extraordin­ary, and reflect heightened concerns over China’s surveillan­ce program and public pressure on Biden to take a tough stand against it. Still, there were few answers about the unknown object downed Friday and the White House drew distinctio­ns between the two episodes. Officials couldn’t say if the latest object contained any surveillan­ce equipment, where it came from or what purpose it had.

The Pentagon on Friday declined to provide a more precise descriptio­n of the object, only saying that U.S. pilots who flew up to observe it determined it didn’t appear to be manned. Officials said the object was far smaller than the previous balloon, did not appear to be maneuverab­le and was traveling at a much lower altitude.

Kirby maintained that Biden, based on the advice of the Pentagon, believed it posed enough of a concern to shoot it out of the sky – primarily because of the potential risk to civilian aircraft.

“We’re going to remain vigilant

about our airspace,” Kirby said. “The president takes his obligation­s to protect our national security interests as paramount.”

The president was briefed on the presence of the object Thursday evening after two fighter jets surveilled it.

Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, told reporters Friday that an F-22 fighter aircraft based at Joint Base Elmendorf-richardson shot down the

object using an AIM-9X shortrange air-to-air missile, the same type used to take down the balloon nearly a week ago.

Ahead of the the shoot-down, the Federal Aviation Administra­tion restricted flights over a roughly 10-square mile (26-square kilometer) area within U.S. airspace off Alaska’s Bullen Point, the site of a disused U.S. Air Force radar station on the Beaufort Sea about 100 miles (160

Simms-cendan, a pediatric-adolescent gynecologi­st in Miami, noting that irregular periods are commonplac­e among young teens.

Desantis thrust himself into the national cultural debate over transgende­r rights in 2021 when he signed a bill restrictin­g participat­ion in girls sports in public schools to athletes identified as female at birth. He also signed into law last year a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The associatio­n’s spokespers­on has said the proposed changes were not in response to concerns about transgende­r athletes competing in women’s sports, as some social media users have said. And associatio­n president John Gerdes stressed that neither the governor nor politics played a role in the discussion­s


The associatio­n’s medical advisory committee said it recommende­d making menstrual histories mandatory based on guidance from groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The pediatrici­an group, though, insisted that they never intended for informatio­n about menstrual histories to be provided to schools. “They’re not following our guidance,” said Dr. Rebecca Carl, the chairelect of the AAP’S Council on Sports Medicine & Fitness.

Gerdes didn’t immediatel­y respond to emails from The Associated Press asking why the associatio­n had misstated the medical histories – is intended to group’s guidance. be provided to a school or sports organizati­on, and it states that clearly. That form includes a spot for the doctor to include informatio­n about allergies, medication­s and whether the student is healthy enough to compete.

There are 26 states that use the latest version of the pediatrici­an group’s forms. Another 23 states and the District of Columbia use a variation of it. Only one state, New Hampshire, does not have a stated preferred form, said Andrea Smith, a nursing professor at Auburn University, who researched which forms states use as part of a study on cardiac risks in athletes.

The National Federation of State High School Associatio­ns recommends that each state has an evaluation process, but doesn’t


The American Academy of Pediatrics worked with sports organizati­ons to come up with a set of forms that doctors could use to evaluate would-be athletes, said Carl, also a professor of pediatrics at Northweste­rn University in Chicago.

One form, designed to be filled out by athletes and their families, inquires about things like drug use, eating disorders, mental health and menstrual histories. Period questions are important because heavy exercise can make menstruati­on stop temporaril­y, lowering estrogen levels and increasing the risk of broken bones, Carl said.

But only a medical eligibilit­y form – with no informatio­n on menstrual have details on what has been put in practice.

Carl, the pediatrici­an, said that there is variation.

“But,” she stressed, “they really should only be asking for this medical eligibilit­y form. The AAP has been very clear and consistent on this.”


Even making menstrual history questions optional, as they were in the earlier form, raised alarms this fall. The Palm Beach County School District asked the associatio­n to ditch the menstruati­on questions altogether because it was offering a digital option for submitting the forms. In the past, the district maintained the records only in paper form.

“Our concern is really that this is the informatio­n for health care providers,”

Carl said. “So where does it go when it goes to the schools? I mean, it could go to a third party to store it online. It could go into a filing cabinet that’s not protected adequately.”

That was exactly the concern the American College of Obstetrici­ans and Gynecologi­sts expressed in a statement, noting the informatio­n supplied to schools isn’t subject to HIPAA, the federal privacy rules that govern the health care industry.

Simms-cendan, a fellow with ACOG, said she spends lots of time instructin­g adolescent­s to even be careful about which period-tracking apps they use to ensure their data stays private.

“There are really unscrupulo­us people out there,” she said.

 ?? SUSAN WALSH/AP ?? NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on Friday.
SUSAN WALSH/AP NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on Friday.

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