News Briefs-National and International



George HW Bush In Intensive Care

Former President George HW Bush and his wife Barbara Bush were admitted to the hospital on Jan. 14. The former president, at 92, was admitted because of pneumonia on Saturday and is relying on a ventilator and a breathing tube. His wife, 91, had been sick with bronchitis and was admitted for fatigue and a cough. Barbara Bush has been discharged from the hospital, and George HW Bush has been moved from the ICU. Earlier this month, Bush wrote to then President-elect Trump to excuse himself from Trump’s inauguration, saying, “my doctor says if I sit outside in January, it will likely put me six feet under.”;


Texas Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Gay Marriage Case 

The Texas Supreme court has agreed to hear a Houston case that could challenge same-sex spousal benefits in the state. According to Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Attorney General Ken Paxton, the case could provide a way to restrict the high court decision making marriage between same-sex couples legal. The case notes that the Texas Constitution banned gay marriage back in 2005. This case is a reversal of the court’s previous ruling, following many requests signed by state officials, conservative activists and religious leaders urging Texas’s court to “defend religious liberty.” Other states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana and North Dakota have also sought ways to enforce more traditional values in their states. North Dakota has recently declined to change state law to reflect the US Supreme Court ruling on the legalization of gay marriage.


Obama Commutes Most Sentences In One Day

The White House announced Jan. 19 that former president Barack Obama granted 330 commutations, the most ever given in one day by a US president. This addition makes the total number of sentences decreased to 1,715, the most commutations given by a President and more than the past 13 combined. Most of the sentences had to do with nonviolent drug offenses. Former American prisoner of war Army Agt. Bose Bergdahl, charged with leaving his post in Afghanistan in 2009, has also asked Obama for a pardon. His court martial is scheduled for Feb. 6. President Trump has criticized Bergdahl for these actions, arguing for a harsher punishment. Obama also commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who had stolen and disseminated 750,000 pages and videos to WikiLeaks. During his presidency, Obama encouraged those serving long terms to apply for clemency.



10 Survivors Found In Italian Avalanche

Two days after an avalanche caused an Italian hotel to collapse, rescue crews pulled out 10 survivors. The event caused around 30 people to be buried under rubble at the Hotel Rigopiano. Five of the 10 people, four of whom are children, have been rescued from the rubble and crews are working to rescue the other five. The avalanche hit on the afternoon of Jan. 18, dumping almost 16 1/2 feet of snow onto the hotel. Of the 30 people trapped in the hotel at the time of the collapse, four have been found dead. Those who have been rescued were taken to hospitals, but appear to be without any extreme injuries. Rescue initiatives have proven difficult since the hotel is remote, even before the snow blocked the roads.


World Leaders React to U.S. Inauguration

The world was watching on Jan. 20 as the United States transitioned from the Obama to the Trump administration. Russia was optimistic about the change; Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, “We are ready to do our share of the work in order to improve the relationship.” The country’s residents were also able to watch the inauguration through state TV stations that spoke of Trump’s accomplishments. The Obama administration had not been popular with Russia, and Medvedev said that it caused huge economic penalties to the country. China barred their citizens from watching the inauguration, and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent his congratulations to President Trump on Friday, Jan. 20. Pope Francis emphasized his hope that the United States will continue to care for the poor and marginalized.


Snowdens Asylum Extended to 2020

Former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has been permitted to stay in Russia until 2020. After he leaked information about American intelligence and surveillance operations to the media in June of 2013, Snowden first went to Hong Kong and then sought asylum in Russia. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova announced the extension in a Facebook post on Tuesday. Snowden formerly received a three-year extension to his asylum in 2014, set to expire this year. Many people had petitioned former President Obama to pardon Snowden, but Snowden has submitted no official clemency documents.

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