Week in Review- February 14th

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Explosion at Power Station Causes Blackout to Parts of Puerto Rico—

An explosion and fire at a power station in Puerto Rico caused blackouts on Feb. 11, sending parts of San Juan, Trujillo Alto, Guaynabo, Caguas, Carolina and Juncos into darkness. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz confirmed that no injuries were sustained during the explosion. The explosion caused a loss of 400 megawatts of power generation and a mechanical failure started the fire, according to Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority. The blackouts mark another setback for the country, as 400,000 people still remain without power after the devastation of Hurricane Maria five months ago. Power company officials said on Feb. 12 that power had been restored to most residents. Much of the power equipment on the island should have been replaced previously but stayed up due to the power company’s financial woes, as it is currently $9 billion in debt.

North and South Korea Make Unified Front at Pyeongchang Winter Olympics—

The 23rd Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea–which organizers say is the largest Winter Olympics to ever be held–began on Feb. 9 with athletes from North and South Korea marching into the opening ceremonies together under a single flag. Some political advisers are hesitant to embrace the alliance, and fear that South Korea has compromised too much, while others are hopeful that the Olympics can mark a turning point for relations between the two nations. Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s sister, seemed to be the charm offensive of the North and was seated about 10 feet from United States Vice President Mike Pence, though the two never appeared to make contact.

Two White House Staffers Resign After Allegations of Abuse—

David Sorenson is the second White House staffer this week to resign amid allegations of sexual abuse. Sorenson resigned on Friday, Feb. 9 when the White House learned of allegations from his ex-wife that he was emotionally abusive and violent throughout their marriage. Spokesman Raj Shah said Sorenson denies the allegations. Former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter resigned just two days before Sorenson on Wednesday, Feb. 7 after two of his ex-wives came forward with allegations of physical abuse. Porter had been denied full security clearance, most likely due to these allegations found in his background check. is led many to question how he was hired in the first place. President Trump said that Porter “did well” in his position. Trump added, “We hope that he will have a wonderful career.”

Earthquake in Taiwan Kills 17, More Still Missing—

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan on Feb. 6, killing 17 people in the east coast city of Hualien and leaving dozens more missing–many of whom are trapped in buildings downtown. The National Fire Agency said that the earthquake left about 645 people without electricity and 40,000 without water. The Taiwanese government said that at least four buildings were partially collapsed or badly damaged. Harrowing images online showed an apartment building in Hualien nearly collapsed, leaning at nearly 50 degrees. The center of the earthquake was located about 13 miles north of Hualien. Taiwan was hit with two additional 6.1 and 5.3 magnitude earthquakes striking earlier in the week, though they did not result in any injuries. Over 100 aftershocks have hit, leading some geologists to believe that the region is undergoing an “earthquake swarm,” while others are hesitant to label the events as such.

Maldives President Declares State of Emergency Amid Political Unrest—

Rising tensions between the government and Supreme Court of the Maldives has led President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to declare a state of emergency for 15 days in the country, giving him the power to unilaterally arrest and detain people. The declaration also means that judges will not be granted special privileges when faced with arrest. The decision came on Feb. 5 after the National Defense Forces reportedly broke into the Supreme Court, blocking and locking the building from the outside. This was in response to the Maldives Attorney General warning law enforcement officials that the Supreme Court might issue a ruling to impeach the President. President Yameen had previously ignored a Supreme Court ruling that demanded he release nine opposition leaders from jail. Opposition leaders have held protests pleading with the government to obey the court order to release the prisoners.

Plane Crash in Russia Kills All Onboard—

A Russian plane crashed shortly after takeoff near Moscow on Feb. 1, killing all 71 people onboard. The cause of the crash on Flight 703 by Saratov Airlines—a Russian regional carrier—remains unknown. Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said that radio contact with the crew was lost minutes after takeoff and that the plane’s mark disappeared from radar. The plane was shown to have lost altitude six minutes after taking off, rising again quickly, then making a sharp fall down. Portions of the plane were found near the village of Stepanovskoe. Russia’s Investigative Committee will be investigating the crash, and President Vladimir Putin instructed the government to create a special commission to investigate the causes of the crash. The carrier had previously been cited for misplacement of flammable materials on the ground.

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