Popped balloons… but not the end-of-the-birthday-party kind. Editors Note: mentions of death.

Happening in the World: Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pardoned “tens of thousands” of prisoners linked to anti-government protests. Protests in Iran began last September with the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died in police custody after being beaten and arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. Iran’s state media says Ayatollah Khamenei’s pardons followed a letter from the head of the judiciary claiming that many of the detained were young people influenced by foreign propaganda. However, those charged with more serious offenses of spying, destruction of state property, and murder will not be pardoned. (BBC

Happening in the US: The balloon drama appears to be coming to a close. At 2:39 pm on Saturday, the US Department of Defense shot down the Chinese spy balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The military is now trying to recover debris spread in a seven-mile radius. The Chinese foreign ministry maintains that the balloon was a weather ship gone astray, but President Joe Biden has been under pressure to shoot it down since defense officials it was first discovered on Tuesday. (NYT

Happening in NYC: Rikers Island confirmed the first death in 2023 of a person in their custody. Marvin Pines, 65, died shortly after 6:00 am Saturday after suffering a seizure. His attorney, Javier Damien, told the Gothamist that his client was worried about receiving proper health care at Rikers. Pines’ death follows the deadliest year on record for Rikers in the past 25 years. Criminal justice reform advocates cite his death as a tragic consequence of the NYC jail complex, which has long struggled with understaffing, inadequate medical care, high suicide rates of inmates, and violence. (Gothamist

Happening in our Community: Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is visiting the Columbia community on Monday, Feb. 6th to discuss climate change, US policy, and his new book The Scheme: How the Right Wing Used Dark Money to Capture the Supreme Court. Sponsored by the Columbia Climate School, US Senator Whitehouse’s Special Address will begin at 12:10 pm in Jerome Greene Hall. 

Popped balloons via Flickr