Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
On Wednesday, President Trump announced that the United States would officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He then pledged to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as part of his campaign promise to support Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has since praised this move.
Though Trump declared the move would be a step forward in achieving peace in the Middle East, many opponents view it as the end to the two-state solution. The European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini suggested that Trump’s decision was a threat to peace and stability in the region.
Wildfires Ravage Southern California
On Wednesday, a series of wildfires in California’s Ventura and Los Angeles counties intensified. Officials reported that four homes near the busy 405 Freeway had been destroyed, and many more were at risk.
Persisting heavy winds, dry weather, and parched vegetation have hampered efforts to tame the blazes, with a new fire starting on Wednesday morning in the Bel-Air neighborhood. Residents have struggled to evacuate as traffic backed up the narrow roads in the hills for miles. As of Wednesday night, tens of thousands of people had been ordered to evacuate as firefighters rushed to draw containment lines around the expanding fires.
Despite some progress in controlling the fire, officials have warned that the situation could worsen throughout the week. With winds expected to grow stronger on Thursday night, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the plan was, “to try to stop this fire before it becomes something bigger, so that we don’t have to have…a two-front war.”
IOC Bans Russia from 2018 Olympic Games
After a year-long investigation into the doping of Russian athletes, the International Olympic Committee(IOC) announced Tuesday that it would ban Russia from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. They also fined the Russian Olympic Committee $15 million.
While this means that Russia’s flag will not be present in Pyeongchang, some Russian athletes will be allowed to compete as neutrals, unassociated with a country. They will be referred to as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” and will compete under the Olympic flag.
IOC officials also indicated they may allow Russia’s flag to be displayed for the closing ceremonies.
As of Wednesday night, the Russian Olympic Committee had not given an official response. However, Russian officials had threatened to boycott the Olympics if a ban was issued.
Update on Al Franken and Roy Moore
Sen. Al Franken has faced accusations by seven women that he groped or tried to forcibly kiss them. He is currently under review by the Senate Ethics Committee, but today Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) released a statement urging his resignation. By the end of Wednesday, over two dozen Democratic Senators and Tom Perez, chairman of the DNC, had released statements saying he should resign.
On the other side of the aisle, Republican Roy Moore has enjoyed renewed support from President Trump despite accusations that he made advances on young girls. The RNC had stopped their financial support, but they have now resumed. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), however, made a donation to Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones. He tweeted a picture of the check with a caption “country over party.”
In Other News…
Nissan announced that it will be debuting self-driving taxis in Japan in March of 2018.
Vladimir Putin announced that he will seek re-election for presidency of Russia in 2018.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley made a statement on Wednesday that Team USA may miss the upcoming Olympics in South Korea due to the threat of war with North Korea.
On Wednesday, Hawaii tested attack sirens following an increased risk of a strike from North Korea.