U.S. Government Shuts Down
The government shutdown officially began over the weekend, with lawmakers from both parties blaming each other for the impasse. Democrats are hoping to put enough political pressure on Republicans with the shutdown to secure protection for the DACA program, which allows undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children to apply for work permits. Republicans, controlling both houses of Congress, remain publicly unwilling to concede on the issue and are negotiating to tighten up immigration policies.
President Trump tweeted Sunday that Republicans should rewrite the Senate’s procedural rules requiring 60 votes to pass a spending bill and “go to 51%”. While this ‘nuclear option’ has been invoked by both parties for judicial nominations in recent years, Senate Republicans are reluctant to do so on a spending bill because the 60-vote threshold is an integral minority party protection.
Turkey Launches Ground Offensive Against Kurdish Fighters in Syria
After several weeks of warnings about an eminent attack, Turkish forces launched a ground offensive against Kurdish-held areas of Syria’s Afrin region early Sunday morning. Turkey claims to have hit over 100 Kurdish targets in airstrikes preceding the ground offensive. Their target is the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia in Syria backed by the U.S. in the fight against ISIS. Turkeyclaims that the YPG is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a military organization founded in Turkey and internationally recognized as a terrorist group.
The goal of “Operation Olive Branch,” as the Turkish offensive is known, is to create a 30km “safe zone” in Syria. Turkey has historically clashed with Kurdish groups on both sides of the Syria-Turkey border. In response to Sunday’s attack, 32 people in the Turkish town of Reyhanli were hit by a rocket launched from Syria.
Second Women’s March on Anniversary of Trump’s Inauguration
On January 20th and 21st, protesters took to the streets around the world and demanded fairer wages and more representation for women. They also raised intersectional issues of racial and social justice. The Women’s March has gained even more traction in light of the recent #MeToo movement, which has publicized the sexual violence and harassment women and men have to face every day.
The organizers of the march split the motivation of the protests between its roots of intersectional feminism and encouraging voter turnout through its new Power to the Polls initiative. Many of the marchers were geared towards supporting Democrats running for Congress. Speakers, booths, and drives aimed to educate and encourage people to vote for a more diverse array of representatives.
In Other News…
Mexico recorded over 25,339 murders in 2017, the country’s deadliest year yet.
Emergency sirens at the Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant in Apex, North Carolina were heard on Friday afternoon. However, they were revealed to be a false alarm after 44 minutes.
Over 400 Russians have been cleared by the International Olympic Committee to compete independently in this year’s Winter Games, after Russia was banned due to doping charges.
Gunmen targeting foreigners attacked a state-owned hotel in Kabul, killing at least 18 civilians.
Germany’s Social Democrats voted to enter formal coalition talks with the Christian Democratic Union, clearing an important hurdle for incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel to set up her fourth consecutive government.