White House Advisor Resigns, a Russian Plane Crash, Tillerson Visits the Middle East, and the Koreas Interact at the Olympics in: 60


White House Advisor Resigns After Domestic Violence Accusations

White House Advisor Rob Porter resigned this week after reports of spousal abuse from his two ex-wives came to light. The White House has been struggling this week to put together a clear timeline of what individuals were aware of the allegations and when they learned of this information. Hope Hicks, who is dating Mr. Porter, and Chief of Staff John Kelly are under particular scrutiny for their handling of the situation, sparking new rumors of a replacement for John Kelly.

The President expressed sympathy for Mr. Porter, but did not extend it towards Mr. Porter’s ex-wives. Trump also warned that a, “mere allegation,” could ruin someone’s life or career without due process. White House aides went on multiple Sunday shows in order to defend the President’s choices and to stress that domestic abuse is unacceptable.

71 Presumed Dead in Russian Plane Crash

A Saratov Airlines jet carrying 65 passengers and 6 crew members crashed 50 miles from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport shortly after takeoff on Sunday afternoon. According to local officials, no survivors are expected from the wreckage, though around 400 rescue workers have been assigned to search the crash site. The plane was en route to Orsk, a city in the Ural mountains, when the crash occurred roughly five minutes into the flight. The cause of the crash has not yet been determined, though statements from Russian officials suggest terrorism was not a probably cause. Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal investigation to discover potential safety concerns that were overlooked prior to the flight.

Rex Tillerson Visits Middle East

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson left Saturday to embark on a tour of Eqypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. The itinerary alone has drawn some criticism because he will not be visiting Israel and only did so once during his first year on the job. Beyond this issue, Secretary Tillerson will be tasked with addressing a variety of regional confrontations, as Egypt just launched an offensive against Islamist militants in the Sinai region, Israel sparred with Iranian military forces in Syria on Saturday, and Turkey recently attacked U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds in Manbij. Additionally, leaders throughout the region have expressed concern with the Trump administration’s decision to relocate the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

North and South Korea Interact at 2018 Winter Olympics

At the open ceremonies for the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, North and South Korea marched together, instilling hope about a peaceful alleviation of the recent tensions in the Pacific. By marching under one flag, the team stands together after years of geopolitical turmoil. The events provided an unprecedented look into the rare interactions between the DPRK and South Korea. There are speculations that the North Korean strategy is to injure the U.S. and South Korea’s relationship by nursing its relationship with South Korea. Vice President Pence made a statement urging allies in the Pacific to continue to isolate the authoritarian state. There is also talk that the newfound relationship between North and South Korea displayed through the Olympics could harm Japan’s position, since it is a state heavily reliant on U.S. forces to deal with the North  Korean threat.

In Other News…

Amazon launched a pilot program in Austin, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Virginia Beach to provide two hour grocery delivery services to Prime members, another step in the company’s foray into the brick and mortar grocery market.

Rain fell in Cape Town Friday evening, delighting residents after months of warnings about Day Zero, when taps will run dry in the drought-stricken city.

New York prosecutors have sued the Weinstein Company for failing to protect staff from Harvey Weinstein’s predation.  

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