BY SABRINA GARONE
Winter Olympics in Full Swing
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games began on Feb. 9 in PyeongChang, South Korea. Athletes from 92 countries gathered to compete in 102 events across 15 sports.
According to The International Olympic Committee website, “the goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
There are six countries making their Winter Olympic debut, including Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore. The Nigerian women’s bobsled team is making history as the first to qualify for the bobsled competition from an African nation.
After the doping scandal that occurred during the 2014 Olympics, Russia has been disqualified from participating in this year’s Games. Russian athletes who were uninvolved in the scandal are still being allowed to compete, but not under the Russian flag.
The Olympic Games will continue through Feb. 25.
Government Shuts Down for Six Hours
In the early hours of Feb. 9, the government shut down for six hours before lawmakers voted to pass a bipartisan budget deal that will fund the government until March 23.
The shutdown began after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) objected to the increases in government spending by $300 billion under the deal. Paul took to the Senate floor to call out hypocrisy from Republicans on over-spending.
“The reason I am here tonight is to put people on the spot. I want to make people feel uncomfortable,” said Paul. “I want them to have to answer people at home who said ‘how come you were against President Obama’s deficits, and how come you’re for Republican deficits?’ Isn’t that the very definition of dishonesty?”
The House approved the deal in a 240 to 186 vote. It has since been submitted to the president to sign.
Stock Market Turbulence
After more than a year of steady climbing, the stock market has seen a large amount of turbulence within the last week.
On Feb. 5, the Dow dropped 1,597 points – the most points fallen in a single trading day. The following day, the Dow made its largest point gain since August of 2015, increasing 567 points.
On Feb. 8, the Dow took another huge plunge, this time dropping 1,033 points. The Dow closed up 330 points the next day.
“I don’t think these types of moves, given how much the market has rallied, have financial stability concerns,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at a House Financial Services Committee hearing. “I’m not overly concerned about the market volatility. The fundamentals are quite strong.”
Mnuchin also took time to praise President Trump’s economic policies despite the market drop. “We’ll still claim credit for the fact that it’s up over 30 percent since the election,” he said.
Proposed Military Parade Creates Concerns
On Feb. 6, The White House confirmed President Trump’s proposal of a military parade. The following day, Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that the Pentagon is in the early stages of planning the event.
“We’re all aware in this country of the president’s affection and respect for the military,” said Mattis in a press conference. “We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them up to the White House for decision.”
Many on Capitol Hill expressed concern in the wake of this announcement, questioning the costs and the likeness to military parades done in Russia and North Korea.
“I have no desire to go to a Soviet hardware display. To me that’s cheesy and weak,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in an interview with ABC News. “What would be appropriate is to have the men and women on display for the nation to say thank you and their families and to have a parade of honor and of thank you.”
“We understand when there are countries that are not major military powers that like to display their military,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), also speaking with ABC. “I just don’t think it’s necessary in the United States and it’s a wrong use of our resources.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.