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♪ it's the top of the hour in cnn newsroom. we're following multi-. concerns about that chinese spy
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balloon hovering over the u.s. secretary blinken just postponed his stop in china. the pentagon is about the size of three buses. it's huge. it was spotted soaring over montana at 60,000 feet. >> just moments ago the balloon was spotted over columbia, missouri. the national weather service tweeted these images of what they say is a large balloon in the kansas city area. despite growing calls to shoot it down, for now president biden is opting against that. the chinese are saying it's a weather balloon that blew off course. >> we're aware of the statement. the fact is we know it's a surveillance balloon. i can't be more specific than that. we know the balloon has violated u.s. air space and international law which is unacceptable. we've conveyed this directly to the prc at multiple levels.
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>> john miller is here with us, cnn's intelligence analyst and kylie atwood. tell us about blinken postponing his trip. >> he was supposed to be heading to china to meet with officials in beijing tonight. it was canceled this morning. he called his chinese counterpart to explain that the u.s. assessment was that the conditions for this trip aren't right anymore. that's because of this balloon. senior state department officials are saying it's unacceptable this balloon is over u.s. territory. they're saying they wanted this trip for blinken to be wide ranging. they wanted to talk about russia, taiwan, a number of issues, trade issues, but this would have reduced what they could talk about. they're saying they want to reschedule. they're calling it a postponement. i asked the conditions required
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to put it on the schedule. they aren't saying that very clearly right now. that's all while this is still moving over the united states, this balloon headed east. reporters asked the pentagon if they would shoot it down if it was over a body of water or if they would shoot it down if it was headed towards the capitol in washington, d.c. they didn't answer that question. the president at this point has decided not to shoot this down because they're worried about what could happen on the ground, civilians being hurt or infrastructure being hurt. >> john, the decision not to bring it down when it was over sparsely populated area, what do you make of it? >> when you're at 66,000 feet and you shoot something down, you don't know where it's going to land. it's height is the thing that makes it good as a collection platform. that that altitude you can see over so many miles. it's collecting it on video as it moves.
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i also believe that it's still an open question as long as it's floating over the united states. >> i mean, is it possible this is -- they say it was a mistake. it's a possibility that it was not supposed to be over u.s. air space. >> john laughs. >> i get the mistake theory, which is i had my weather balloon and it drifted off course. when it drifted off course, it come through canada and went directly to the intercontinental ballistic missile site in montana and now it's down in missouri. >> curious path. >> when my weather balloon drifts off course, i don't know if it goes to critical defense locations. chinese intelligence collection is vast, persistent, it covers so much ground and they're changing. there's so much in so many different directions. you hear them coming a lot. this probably wasn't an
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accident. this was probably something we were meant to find, meant to see. when you look at the cancellation of the secretary's trip, they may have overplayed their hand and message sending. >> you have u.s. officials saying very clearly they're confident in their assessment, meaning they don't believe chinese officials in what they're describing this balloon to be. we should consider the back drop of all this right now. china and u.s./china relations are a very -- it's complicated right now. you have particularly the republican party in washington pushing the biden administration to be tough on china. we heard calls in the last 12 hours from members of congress, particularly republicans, calling for blinken to cancel this trip. there are political consideration here for this administration. i do think those are significant because the administration has said there wasn't actually a threat to civilian populations here in the united states or to u.s. military.
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>> all right. kylie atwood, john miller, thank you. let's bring in congressman, the democrat from illinois, the ranking member on the select committee on the strategic relations between china and u.s. congressman, what's your assessment of the decision not to shoot this down when it was over a sparsely populated area of the u.s.? >> i think you have to listen to the military commanders who have the best information. it appears that chairman milley said not to do it. i think they cited obviously the debris field that would be created, the fact it's not collecting intelligence because -- one thing i would bring up as a member of the intelligence committee is a lot of times we want to preserve the tech that is actually doing
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reconnaissance so we can learn more about their capabilities. when you put all that together, i think you have to listen to the military commanders on the ground or in this case in the air. >> if you say that the goal is to preserve the tech that they're using, i assume your conclusion is at some point this balloon will be in u.s. custody? >> i hope so, but i can't say what the -- what the military is going to do exactly at this point. i think that, you know, let's just say it's not a weather balloon. that would be a -- that would be a santos-style whopper, victor. i think it's a reconnaissance balloon. it's a military balloon and we have to treat it as such. >> so you released this joint statement with the chair of the committee. you ended with, we must act to counter this threat. how? >> well, i think there are a couple things going on. i'm glad that secretary blinken
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has postponed his trip to beijing because obviously what they're doing here seems to run counter to their diplomatic overtures. there has to be consequences to them being in the air space. i'm sure there's going to messages sent about what happens if this happens again. china needs to know we'll do everything to protect our homeland. >> what should be the conditions to put that meeting with the -- the visit from the secretary of state to beijing back on the calendar? >> i think the secretary and his -- of course, the president will decide that ultimately. i think that, you know, we don't want a situation where anyone is violating our air space. >> well, they're already doing
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it. >> right. that's not a good thing to be occurring while we're engaging in diplomacy. i think that would be a pr precursor or precondition to us being able to engage in talks in person in the people's republic of china. i'm sure they're communicating now directly, but not in person in beijing. >> so, the big question, why china would do this? as we discussed there are chinese satellites. if they are on some intel harvesting mission, they can use those. this is a big exclamation point floating for a few days over the continental u.s. do you have an answer why china is doing this so flagrantly? >> as your viewership might
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know, high altitude balloons are different than satellites in the sense that even at a high altitude, in this case 60 to 70,000 feet, they can loiter in place and persist in their collection on one target on the ground because they can be steered up and down and sideways. of course, the one thing that folks can't control is the jet stream which is extremely powerful at that altitude and can blow it, you know, in directions that may beyond their steering capabilities. i think that's what they were trying to do. they were trying to surveil certain targets on the ground for extended periods. that's why they used the balloon. >> i left the political question intentionally for last. you heard from your republican colleagues in the house, over in the senate, some potential 2024 candidates as well saying this makes the president look weak
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with this balloon that has not been taken down, this chinese spy balloon. what do you think the political cost is for the administration, if any, of this continuing maybe through the weekend and into next week? >> i don't think there will be any significant toll in that regard. the main point is that, you know, these hostility began long before president biden took office. that's why we've had republicans and democrats call for the very committee that has been stood up to deal with ccp threats. the chinese communist party has long posed a technological, economic and military threat. we're seeing evidence of this now. we have to counter it on a bipartisan basis and we should avoid partisanship on this issue. >> congressman, always good to have you, sir.
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thank you. >> thank you. in a few minutes we'll hear from secretary blinken. we'll see if he addresses his decision to postpone his trip. we'll bring it to you life. life-threatening cold temperatures sweeping across the midwest and northeast. 55 million people under windchill alerts. in new england forecasters are predicting the coldest windchills ever recorded. negative 100 at mt. washington in new hampshire. here's some video from bangor, maine. look how cold that looks. >> officials say prepare for this just as you would for a blizzard, even without the windchill. the temperatures are expected to bottom out at 7 degrees below zero in boston. that's where we find athena jones in boston. how you doing? >> reporter: victor, it's very, very, very cold.
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we're not in mt. washington thank god. it's about 13 degrees. that's the actual temperature. the feels like is already at last check at negative 6. this is how the temperatures has been progressing. it was just under freezing several hours ago when we began reporting. it's been declining. it's going to be in the single digits further as time goes on. it's not just the actual temperatures. it's the windchills as you mentioned. we could see record-breaking windchills. it's not only the windchills that can lead to dangerous frost bite and hypothermia. it's also the speed of the wind itself. some of these gusts could reach, you know, 30, 50 miles an hour. that's the kind of gusts that can knock over trees into power lines causing power outages. that's not what you want to see at temperatures like this. that is one reason the city of boston has declared a cold weather emergency.
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schools have been closed all day. kids don't have to commute to school and long walks waiting for buses. there's warming centers open. they're keeping south station open. it's a train station where people who don't have homes end up sleeping. they're not going to be kicked out. the stations will be open 24 hours. all this to make sure people avoid being hurt by this dangerous, dangerous cold snap. victor? >> athena, i used to be a reporter in boston. my mouth would freeze. why does she sound and look so good? how are you doing that, athena? >> reporter: it's going to change in the next few hours. i have several larry nassar. i have on three hats. i added a third hat. i have eight layers on top. i have toe warmers in. in case it gets worse, i want to
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feel more relief. i'm not from here. i'm from texas. i'm doing okay right now. >> athena, thank you. >> we'll stop asking questions until you get back. >> that would be nice. athena, thank you. president biden is about to speak in philadelphia at a democratic party event. it will undoubtedly serve as a chance to take a victory lap after today's huge job report. cnn white house correspondent arlette zientz is in philly. the president is going to go on attack in this speech we understand? >> reporter: yeah, victor. president biden and vice president kamala harris are making this rare joint appearance out on the road today. a democratic official has said that here at that dnc speech later this evening the president
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is expected to go on attack against maga republicans' out of touch plans. this trip as two purposes. president biden will be speaking in more of an official event as they're trying to tout some of the elements of the bipartisan infrastructure law he signed. the president announcing $500 million for water infrastructure and lead pipe removal initiatives. this caps off a week from the administration as they've been trying to promote the president's accomplishments as he travelled to baltimore, new york city and philadelphia. this speech comes on the heels of that robust job's report earlier today that gave the president that line he was able to say, that the state of the union and the state of the economy is strong. now, a bit later this afternoon, president biden will be speaking here at democratic national committee's winter meeting, a speech that's expected to have
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more of a political tone and could act as a preview for a possible 2024 run. >> arlette, we will watch the president's speech. thank you so much. more on the jobs report, better than expected. what does this mean for recession concerns? we'll talk about those. failed republican politician solomon pena is back in court for accusations he initiated shootings that targeted democratic lawmakers. we'll l have more just ahead. ♪liberty mutual♪ ♪ only pay for what you neeeed♪ ♪only pay for what you need♪ ♪ custom home insurance created for you all♪ ♪now the song is done♪ ♪back to living in your wall♪ they're just gonna live in there? ♪yes♪ only pay for what you need. ♪liberty liberty liberty♪ ♪liberty♪
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meanwhile pilots flying at high altitudes have spotted this chinese balloon. >> pilots spotted a balloon at drift this morning and said the balloon was 20 miles north of kansas city international airport at 50,000 feet. a source familiar with the situation tells cnn other pilots are reporting seeing the balloon. now to the jobs report for january. so strong it's changing the minds of some economists on a potential recession. more than 500,000 jobs were added, nearly triple the amount expected. >> president biden bragged this proves his economic strategies are working and added the unemployment rate has not been this low since man landed on the moon. >> the unemployment rate fell to
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3.4%, 3.4%. that's the lowest in 54 years. the last time unemployment was that low was may of 1969. think about that. what's more black and hispanic unemployment are near record lows. this matters. >> cnn's matt egan diving deeper into this labor report. what are you seeing, matt? >> this job report was hot, shockingly hot. this would be like if you went to bed thinking it would be 50 degrees and you wake up and it's 90 degrees. you're amazed by these numbers. just to give you context around this 517,000 jobs added, that's 200,000 jobs higher than even the most optimistic forecaster on wall street was expecting. as the president mentioned, the unemployment rate down to 3.4%, the lowest since 1969 and a far cry from that peak in 2020 of almost 15%.
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you know, we saw across the board strength here. almost every sector added jobs. bars, restaurants added almost 100,000 jobs, hotels, manufacturing, government, health care, retail, you name it, all of them increased jobs in january. these numbers suggest a lot of companies are more scared of the worker shortage than anything that the federal reserve is doing. a lot of companies are hoarding talent. a lot of this raises questions about what this means for a potential recession, what it means for the federal reserve. the markets are pricing in a greater chance the federal s reserve has to continue raising rates in march and may and maybe further. as far as a recession goes, i was told the numbers are so
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strong that they may overstate the strength of the jobs market. perhaps it's been boosted by the mild weather of january. there's nothing that suggests that there's an ongoing recession. bank of america's ethan harris said he doesn't think the 2023 recession he's predicting is canceled, but may get delayed. instead of the first half of the year, it may be the second half. bank of america conceded the chance of a soft landing which looked improbable, that's gone up because of these numbers out today. victor and allison. >> that all sounds good. matt egan, thank you. now to alec murdaugh. it's not just the double murder charges. prosecutors also drilling down on his alleged financial crimes. how that could change this trial ahead.
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failed new mexico political candidate solomon pena pleaded not guilty to all charges against him today. the republican is accused of orchestrating multiple shootings at local democratic officials' homes after he lost his midterm
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election. >> lucy cavanaugh has been following this for us. what did we learn today? >> reporter: not a ton guys. it was a very brief hearing. solomon pena didn't speak. he entered a not guilty plea through his attorney. he's been linked to at least four attacks against the homes of two slate legislators and county commissioners following his 2022 loss in new mexico. all four of those officials were democrats. last month a grand jury indicted him on 14 criminal charges which include three counts of criminal solicitation to commit shooting at a dwelling or occupied building, two counts of conspiracy to do the same thing, two counts of transportation or possession of a firearm and numerous other charges. while he pleaded not guilty, police say pena was fueled by election lies. he was a staunch supporter of former president trump.
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he believed that his own election in november had been stolen despite being defeated by nearly 50 points. prosecutors allege he concocted this plot. we are expecting him back in court in about 30 days according to the ago d.a. >> lucy, thank you. we may soon learn more about alex murdaugh's finances. >> prosecutors say his money problems are the reason he killed his wife and son. the judge must decide if jurors can hear the details. andy kay is following the testimony for us. who is on the stand today? >> reporter: right now there's a firearms expert on the stand testifying for the state. he walked around the murder scene and murdaugh's property
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collecting shell casings. he said casings all came from the same weapon, the way they're ejected through the weapon. the defense argued that can't be the case. there are no study that is support this. they haven't recovered the murder weapons, but they recovered weapons from murdaugh's property. he's saying they came from the same weapon. the defense is saying the studies don't support that. they fought this expert coming on. earlier today there was a lot of talk about murdaugh's finances and alleged financial schemes. the prosecution wants to prove he had his back up against the wall and was running out of time and that he did this to create a diversion. that's why he killed his family. on the stand was the son of the
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murdaugh family housekeeper who fell down the stairs and died. listen to her son. >> did he tell you whether or not you and your brother would get any money? >> he said he was hoping. >> did he give you any idea of the amount? >> if i remember correctly, he said try to get each of you $100,000 a piece. >> you and your brother? >> yes. >> did he tell you they already got a settlement for $505,000? >> no. >> did he tell you they got a settlement for $3.8 million? >> no. >> did he ever tell you there was an umbrella policy for $5 million? >> no. >> reporter: alex murdaugh admitted to wrongdoing in that scheme. he paid the boys $4.3 million and apologized to them. there are dozens of other schemes he is apparently accused of. that's what the prosecution would like to see included at
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trial. back to you. >> understood. randy kay, thank you for the reporting. there's so many families in america that have been affected by addiction. when we come back, we'll tell the story of two florida brothers who capitalized on that crisis and created a $500 million trafficking operation within just a few years.
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have died from drug overdoses over the past 20 years. of those lives lost, nearly 100,000 a year were from opiods alone. >> "american pain" takes us inside inside the opoid crisis and the rise of fall of brothers who ran one of the largest opoid empires in the country. >> the george brothers didn't start the opoid crisis, but they sure as hell poured gasoline on the fire. they became the largest street level distribution group operating in the entire united states. nobody put more pills on the streets than they did, nobody. it created a blueprint for how this was to be done and they were operating in broad daylight. >> the scale of this enterprise, it was enormous. >> you had addicts streaming in from all over the country, thousands of miles just to come
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to florida to get drugs. >> when you see what's going on inside that clinic, your jaw just fall ts to the floor. >> i've been on the job as a special agent for over 20 years. i've seen a lot of crazy. this was just [ bleep ] crazy. >> joining us now the retired fbi at kurt mckenzie. he led the investigation into the george brothers operation. mr. mckenzie, thanks for being here. the george brothers were running this pill mill, as it's called, this operation in the u.s. do we know their impact on the wider opoid crisis in the country? >> as i said -- thank you for having me first of all. as i said in the documentary, they were the single largest drug distribution group of their type operating in the united states. they were a drug diversion
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group. they diverted legitimately produced pharmaceuticals to the streets and put over 20 million doses of opiods on the streets of the united states. their drugs went as far west as texas and as far north as boston. the scale of the addiction they contributed to was enormous. >> what they were doing, was that technically illegal? how did that play into your investigation? >> the hardest part for us as investigators was that the george brothers had what i like to call window dressing. in other words, their doctors had dea control numbers. their clinics were properly licensed by the state of florida. as an investigators, your instincts tell you by looking at the clinics that something is wrong. something is very wrong. we had to focus very closely on the activity of the doctors. the investigation focussed around -- surrounded the
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activities of the doctors. what we had to prove was the doctors were not only operating outside the scope of their expertise, but they were acting on behalf of chris george and there was no medical necessity for these prescriptions. >> mr. mckenzie, we have to interrupt and go to secretary of state blinken. >> to convey that in light of china's unacceptable action i'm postponing my planned travel this weekend to china. as you know, president biden and president xi agreed during their meetings in bali that i would travel to beijing to follow up on their discussions. we had been working across the u.s. government to prepare for a set of discussions on issues that matter to the american people and the people around the world. we've been engaging for sometime with our counterparts in beijing to prepare for these meetings. yesterday, the department of defense announced that we had detected and were tracking a high altitude surveillance balloon that remains over the
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continental united states. we continue to track and monday ton the balloon closely. we're confident it's a chinese surveillance balloon. when we detected balloon, we acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information. members of my team consulted with our partners and other agencies and congress. we also engaged our allies to inform them of the presence of balloon in our air space. we concluded conditions were not conducive for a constructive visit at this time. in my call today i made clear the presence of this balloon in u.s. air space is a clear violation of u.s. sorvereignty and u.s. law and them taking
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this act on the eve of my visit was debt ttrimental. it is critical that such lines be open at all times to avoid misinformation and conflict. >> one final, but important note. the world expect is the united states and china to manage our relationship responsible and to talk about many issues affecting us and people around the world. the united states will continue to act in a way that reflects that responsibility. we look to our prk counterparts
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to do the same. the foreign minister and i just signed an important agreement that will guide our country's cooperation on science and technology in the years ahead. it builds on the one we signed in 1992. our universities conducted joint research on cancer and climate change. your governments worked together to cancel pollution. our businesses partnered on life-saving vaccines and treats like with moderna and samsung b bio logics -- >> we have been listening to secretary of state tony blinken explain why he's postponed his scheduled trip. he was supposed to depart today, i believe, to china because he says the conditions are not conducive right now to
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conversations because they are confident that this is chinese surveillance balloon. they've been in contact repeatedly about prc with this today. >> kylie atwood who was with us earlier this hour, said there was a long list of topics to discuss -- taiwan, china's engagement with russia and ukraine, a long list of issues to deal with. once this balloon was discovered, it was not possible to get to those other topics with this surveillance balloon floating over the united states. he said a bit of what we heard from the press secretary at the pentagon, which was the u.s. acting immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information. just a few moments ago we spoke with a democratic congressman who is on a committee in the house that deals specifically with the u.s. and chinese competition. he says he expected -- he hopes
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at some point this balloon will be in u.s. custody. there's been questions about why the u.s. military had not shot it down. his information is it's to preserve the technology and at some point they can retrieve it by keeping the balloon intact. >> it's hard to know how they'll do that. it was spotted this afternoon over missouri. we we think it was also spotted over kansas. it is still floating around. we haven't heard plans how the u.s. will try to grab it. we'll listen in as soon as the secretary of state starts taking questions and we'll go back to him as soon as he answers questions. here's just a few pictures of different stations, different pilots capturing that balloon >> we have seen a video from montana. the latest we heard it's over the central u.s., over missouri. some pictures you're seeing here at about 60,000 feet this is
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flying. it has caused temporary ground stops at airports in billings, montana. we know flights have had to have been diverted around this balloon as well. john miller, who was here, throw some cold water, of course -- >> he basically laughed in my face. >> he did laugh in your face. i was trying to be kind of it. >> when i said maybe it was a mistake -- >> maybe it is a weather balloon. it is not. he says for a weather balloon to travel on a path that goes over the intercontinental ballistic missile facilities in montana is not a consequence, and they say this is a maneuverable balloon. so someone in china is controlling the path of this balloon. at its base, this is a foreign asset of a military, let's say, of a competitive nation, if not adversarial, that is flying over the united states and has been for some time. the pentagon believes it could be over the u.s. for several
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days, maybe through the weekend or into next week. we've heard from republicans who are critical of the president saying this should have been shot down when it was over less populated areas of the u.s. >> we'll continue listening to the secretary of state and we'll go back as soon as he answers questions. we'll be right back. and we know 80% of couples sleep too hot or t too cold. introducing ththe new sleep number climate360 smart bed. the only smamart bed in the wod that actively cools, warms, and effortlessly responds to both of you. our smart sleepers get 28 minutes more restful sleep per night. proven quality sleep. only from sleep number. this week is your chance to try any - subway footlong for free. like the subway series menu. just buy any footlong in the app, and get one free. free monsters, frebosses, any footlong for free! this guy loves a great offer. so let's see some hustle! ♪limu emu & doug♪
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we are still monitoring this event at the state department involving secretary of state antony blinken and south korean foreign minister. this is happening after the secretary of state has decided to postpone his trip to china following the discovery of this chinese surveillance balloon
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over the united states. we'll keep watching this. in the meantime, beyonce. happening this weekend, beyonce is nominated for nine grammies ahead of this sunday's awards ceremony. record of the year, album of the year, song of the year. >> yes. >> those are just some of the categories. >> but if her latest album "renaissance" wins just four of them, beyonce will go down as the most decorated artist in academy recording history. stephanie elam is covering this for us. i'm confident she'll do it. >> reporter: the track record is not that good for her in these top categories, despite the fact that she's the most winningest woman in grammy history ever, in case you didn't know that. also, she has the most grammy nominations for an artist ever along with some other gentleman you may know named jay z. they both have 88 nominations apiece. some of them they have won some grammys together.
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if you look at the top categories, record of the year, album of the year, song of the year, all of those are what people are paying attention to. if she wins just four of these nine categories, just four, she will then become the most winning artist ever at this point. you just saw there, we had it on the screen, but george schulte, the classic musical conductor, he has 31. he is number one in that shot. then you also have quincy jones and beyonce, tied right now for 28. allison krause, who has 27, the country music superstar. then more classical music and stevie wonder. because of the fact she has not always won when she's had a song up for these big categories or album of the year, many are wondering if this will be the year. guys, i don't know, have you listened to "renaissance" from beginning to end? >> stephanie, you know me.
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you know i've listened to it from beginning to end. >> i was fairly confident, i was fairly confident, but it is quite the listening experience. that is why people are saying, this album should get the love it deserves and hoist beyonce up into that category where the beehive definitely thinks she should be come sunday. >> it's a fantastic piece of work. i've registered for my verification to be able to buy tickets to the tour. i got my momma verified to try to get tickets to the tour. i'm going to be in there somehow. >> i know you are. we were listening during the commercial break, it's so catchy. that song is beautiful that we just played a snippet of. >> it's an all-around great thing, you can dance to it, drive to it. there are lyrics in there that remind me of victor. so, whenever i hear it, i think of you. >> email me those lyrics are
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that make you think of me. stephanie elam, thank you. >> thank you. this just in, nba star kyrie irving has reportedly requested a trade from the brooklyn nets ahead of next week's nba trade deadline, according to espn. there were talks between the team and irving but no deal was ever reached. >> irving is facing a slew of controversies. one involving a twitter link he posted to this documentary with anti-semitic, which he refused to give an apology, and refused to get vaccinated. a quick programming note. watch the all new cnn film "american pain" this sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific only on cnn. have a great weekend, everybody. "the lead with jake tapper" starts right now.