Merry Winter Break!

Like you, The Hop will be taking a break. But don't worry, we'll be back next semester! Be sure to check in with us when you come back to school to be updated on what happened around the world over the break. Good luck on finals and have a Happy Holiday!

Trump Shrinks National Monuments in Utah

On Monday, President Trump drastically reduced the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah by more than a combined 2 million acres. These monuments were established in the 1906 Antiquities Act, and the President’s action is considered the largest reduction of land protection in US history. The decision now allows for the land to be potentially used for energy exploration or for motorized vehicle use. Companies like Patagonia and REI, among others, have voiced their concerns against the decision with Patagonia sharing a pop-up stating “The President Stole Your Land” on their website. The President has already announced that there will be major changes made to the sizes of a few more national monuments including one in the Pacific Northwest and one in New England.

For more information, click here and here.

Russia Banned From 2018 Winter Olympics

Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics on Tuesday after the International Olympic Committee discovered their state-backed doping program. As a result of this ban, Russian government officials are not permitted to attend the Games, Russia’s flag will not be displayed, and their anthem won’t be played. Individual athletes from Russia will still be eligible to compete but must wear a neutral uniform and it will be recorded that the country won zero medals. Russia has not yet responded to these allegations, but time will tell how this decision will affect the country, who often displayed their international power through the Olympic Games.

For more information, click here.

Wildfire Threatens Thousands in California

The Thomas Wildfire has charred at least 45,000 acres in and around Ventura, California as of Monday. Thousands have fled their homes as the wildfire continues to move very fast. Thanks to the strong winds and severe weather conditions, the fire is now threatening downtown Ventura, right near their city hall. Emergency officials say so far one person and one dog have died in the fires, but they continue to urge all residents to listen to evacuation notices very carefully. The fire started Monday night around 45 minutes away from Santa Barbara. The cause is unknown as firefighters continue to fight the flames.

For more information, click here.

Trump to Move Israeli US Embassy to Jerusalem

President Donald Trump met with several leaders of the Arab world to outline his plan to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, on Tuesday.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been in favor of this move for a long time, however most of the other Arab countries responded to Trump’s plan with widespread condemnation.  Critics say that the move will undermine stability in the region and hurt peace talks in the Middle East.  Preparing for any possible violent responses to the announcement, the Pentagon repositioned troops to prepare for any protests surrounding US embassies.   

For more information click here.

Love is in the Australian Air!

On Monday, Tom Wilson, one of Australia’s openly gay members of Parliament, proposed to his partner, Ryan Bolger, during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. Wilson popped the question during a debate over same-sex marriage, a fresh topic in Australian politics after a referendum and a bill legalizing same-sex marriage was passed in the Senate last week. The House of Representatives is also expected to pass the bill soon. Congratulations are in order for Wilson and his partner, who have officially become the first couple engaged on the floor of the House.

 

For more information, click here.

President Trump Endorses Roy Moore

Just under a week before Alabama’s special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Session’s seat in the Senate, President Trump called Republican candidate Roy Moore yesterday morning to offer him his endorsement.  He then took to Twitter to issue his support, calling Moore’s opponent a “Pelosi/Schumer Puppet.”  Trump’s endorsement of Moore has drawn scrutiny from not only Democrats but also Republicans following last month’s Washington Post report that Moore has initiated sexual contact with multiple women under Alabama’s age of consent.  According to multiple recent polls, the election, set to be held a week from today, appears to be a toss-up.

 

For more information on the endorsement, click here.

For a look at the recent polls, click here.

Supreme Court Justices Get Sporty

The Supreme Court is meeting this week to decide on cases to close out 2017, one of which was prompted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie is pressuring SCOTUS to allow New Jersey to have legal sports betting, which was outlawed in every state but four in 1992. This Supreme Court showdown has caused a nationwide debate regarding federalism and the 10th amendment, so the results of this seemingly minute case, Christie v. NCAA, will be important for years to come.

For more information, click here.

Disney in Talks to Buy Part of Fox

The Walt Disney Company has resumed its talks about buying parts of 21st Century Fox. Currently, Fox is thinking about shrinking its empire. It is in talks with Comcast as well. The Murdochs will have a decision by the end of the year. Disney and other companies are interested in only part of the Fox businesses, specifically the 20th Century Fox movie studio; cable channels like FX; Sky and Star, British and Indian broadcasters. With the return of Disney into the conversation, it is apparent that media companies are fighting for power. Fox, a medium-sized company, has the tough decision about if they can acquire more content or sell and focus on a minimal aspect of their business.

For more information, click here.  

“Ghost Disease” Affecting North Koreans

Residents near a North Korean nuclear testing site have been having been experiencing severe health problems. They call it “ghost disease” because so many people have died, and the citizens do not know why. The site is affecting people living in Kilju County and since the people of North Korea are so starved of information, they do not know what is killing them. This information was relayed to the media by North Koreans who had defected and have since realized that the cause of the fatalities, dying vegetation, and babies born with deformities is exposure to radiation. It is hard to confirm these findings.

For more information, click here.

CVS Buying Aetna for $69 Billion

Pharmacy titan CVS has agreed to buy Aetna insurance in a $69 billion merger. If the deal goes through, thousands of CVS storefronts across the country could begin to offer additional clinical services to Aetna customers. The move could decrease the cost of healthcare by streamlining the process as well as offer a known alternative to expensive emergency rooms. However, consumer groups have expressed concerns about the merger out of fear this could decrease choices and create monopolies that could not be challenged by new companies. The merger would likely launch other retail and insurance mergers across the healthcare market as current businesses seek to insulate themselves from increasing competition from companies such as Amazon.

To read more about the merger and its potential effects on healthcare, click here

Honduras in Crisis After Contested Election

Following their presidential elections, Honduras is in a state of political crisis and “hostile uncertainty.” The elections were rumored to be fraudulent, and the electoral commission’s stall in releasing the results led Hondurans to believe the hearsay. Juan Orlando Hernandez, the incumbent, won the election according to the results. His opponent, Salvador Nasralla, called for his supporters to protest. Over the weekend, Honduras’ streets were filled with protests, with some turning deadly. The government has now suspended constitutional rights and called for a military curfew.

To read more, click here.

Another One Bites The Dust #Rexit

News broke Thursday that the White House is preparing a plan to oust Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo within the next few weeks. This change is reportedly being led by Chief of Staff John Kelly but has garnered wide support among White House staff. This news follows a somewhat tumultuous relationship between the president and Tillerson when just months ago reports stated that Tillerson referred to President Trump as a moron. When asked about Secretary Tillerson early Thursday morning, the president responded, “He’s here. Rex is here.”

For more information, click here.

Sessions Suggests New Marijuana Policy

In an announcement on new resources for fighting the opioid crisis, Attorney General Jeff Session suggested the Trump administration’s desire to work towards a new, ‘rational’ marijuana policy on Wednesday. He did not provide details, but he made did say that the Justice Department does not “in any way believe that marijuana is harmless,” and that pot consumption is still a federal violation. A 2013 Justice Department memorandum said the federal government would not interfere with marijuana-friendly state laws as long as they do not threaten federal priorities, but Sessions as department head could do away with this with a memo.

To read more, click here.

War Criminal Dies by Poison

A Croatian war criminal died Wednesday in court from swallowing a vile of poison after his guilty verdict was read. In a video showing the scene at The Hague, Slobodan Praljak, stands after the judge announces his 20-year jail sentence, declared, “Slobodan Pralijak is not a war criminal. I reject your judgement with contempt,” and drinks the poison. Pralijak was a general in the Croatian Army during the Bosnian and Croatian Wars and acted as a liason between the political and military leaders of Croatia. He died from poisoning late Wednesday at a Dutch hospital, and Dutch police forces are now investigating how he may have gotten the vial into such a high-security building.

For more information, click here.

Round Two of the ESPN Layoffs

Yesterday, ESPN issued its second large set of layoffs since last April, dismissing 150 employees.  Though, unlike the layoffs that took place last spring, this set did not include well-known on-air personalities.  This is the result of a downward trend ESPN has endured over the past five years, losing 13 million subscribers during that time.  These firings also come in advance of what looks to be a busy 2018 for ESPN, with the sports and entertainment giant set to open a new studio in New York City and redesign its smartphone app among other projects.

 

For more information, click here.

NBC Fires Matt Lauer After Harassment Claim

NBC News fired Today Show host Matt Lauer on Wednesday, after a complaint about “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace” was filed by an NBC employee. Lauer had hosted the show for over 20 years. While the announcement comes as a shock to many fans, several NBC News executives were aware that The New York Times had been investigating Lauer’s behavior. The accuser’s attorney, Ari Wilkenfeld, was impressed with the response of NBC, who fired Lauer less than 35 hours after allegations were brought forward, saying “This is how the system should work.”

For more information click here.

 

Republican Tax Plan Gaining Steam

It looks like the Republicans may get their first major legislative win of the political year. The republican tax plan, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, gained traction as the Senate voted to begin the final process of debate on the bill. If passed, the bill would have to be reconciled with the House before it’s sent to President Trump to sign. It was uncertain if the bill would pass as Congressional Democrats and roughly half a dozen Republicans were either holdouts or aired serious grievances with the bill. Republicans only have another week to pass any major legislation before recess begins. The current tax plan is lauded by Republicans as tax relief and pro-business while Democrats have decried it as worse for many poor and middle-income Americans who would see their taxes increase.

 

To read more about the plan, click here and here

American Airlines’ Nightmare Before Christmas

An unfortunate computer glitch has left as many as 15,000 American Airlines flights without pilots. And where are the majority of these flights centered, you ask? Right here, at the airline’s main hub in Dallas-Fort Worth. The company’s scheduling system that allows pilots to bid for routes accidentally showed that many routes were staffed. AA's management offered to pay pilots 150% of their usual rates to take over some of the flights, however, they did not get permission to do this and the offer was since revoked. The computer problem has since been fixed, but they are still working on the pilot problem.

For more information, click here.

"Chuck and Nancy" Diss Donald

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced they would not be attending a previously planned meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday after the president tweeted, "Meeting with 'Chuck and Nancy' today about keeping government open and working. Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don't see a deal!" Schumer and Pelosi stated that, considering the tweet, they believe their best path forward is negotiating with their "Republican counterparts in Congress instead." 

For more information, click here.