South African President Jacob Zuma announced his resignation Wednesday in a nationally televised speech. Zuma has been at the center of several scandals during his nine-year tenure. As The New York Times says:
Influence-peddling in his administration was so widespread, according to the nation's former public protector, that it became a form of state capture in which Mr. Zuma's business partners or friends influenced government decisions in their personal interest.
Now, his departure as president leaves South Africa with a disillusioned electorate, a weakened economy, and a tarnished image in the rest of Africa. [The New York Times]
On Monday, the leadership of Zuma's party, the African National Congress, called for his resignation. Hours before he resigned, Zuma said such calls were "unfair," but after the ANC announced that it would move to hold a "no-confidence" vote against him in parliament, Zuma acquiesced to his party's demand, saying: "The ANC should never be divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as the president of the republic with immediate effect."
[BREAKING NEWS] Jacob Zuma has resigned as the President of South Africa - "I have come to the decision to resign with immediate effect." #ZumaResponds #ZumaRecall #ZumaResponds. Courtesy #DStv403 pic.twitter.com/YjlfWtLUZz
— eNCA (@eNCA) February 14, 2018
The United States men's curling team took its first-ever gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Saturday. After nearly being eliminated from the competition, the team made a comeback win, besting both the Canadian team — prior to this victory, no American team in men's or women's curling has ever beaten Canada at the Olympics — and the Swedish team, which was ranked first in the world.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 24, 2018
"During the entire end we could kind of feel it building," said team leader John Shuster of the gold-medal victory over Sweden. "Their margin for error got really small."
Also Saturday, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic became the first woman to take gold in two separate events at the Winter Games. Last Saturday, she was the surprise victor in Alpine skiing, and this week, Ledecka triumphed in her primary event, women's parallel giant slalom snowboarding. Bonnie Kristian
Chief of Staff John Kelly will make the decision about whether to revoke access to classified information for Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, the president said Friday. Trump expressed confidence in Kelly's judgment and praised his son-in-law as "a high-quality person" who "has been treated unfairly."
Kushner "works for nothing," Trump added. "Nobody ever reports that. He gets zero. He doesn't get a salary." Many media outlets reported White House staff salaries, including Kushner's $0 rate, when they were published last summer.
Kushner is among more than 100 White House staff of varying levels of seniority who still lacked security clearance as of November, and he has so far resisted Kelly's move to limit his information access before clearance is granted.
Friday evening, The Washington Post reported Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the White House two weeks ago Kushner's background check had uncovered information requiring additional investigation and thus further delaying his clearance process. Rosenstein reportedly did not tell the White House what his department has learned. Bonnie Kristian
Often called the Rolls-Royce of alpine sports, Foil has outdone itself with its limited-edition Oro-Amaranto Jackie Chan skis ($42,000). Tuned to the specifications of the veteran action star, who is both a fine skier and a collector of rare woods, these outrageously luxurious foot-extenders have 14-karat-gold-plated bindings and are made from purpleheart, a hardwood prized for its density, water resistance, and beautiful color. Foil also makes skis from Bog Oak — culled from trees buried in peat bogs and thus preserved for up to 8,000 years. The company is working now to develop a high-performance ski made of solid gold.
Former NFL player forces Los Angeles school to close after tagging it in apparently threatening Instagram post
Former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin forced a Los Angeles-area high school to close Friday after making a cryptic post on Instagram, the New York Post reports.
Martin was viciously harassed by a number of his Dolphins teammates, including Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, starting in his rookie year in 2012, an NFL report released in 2014 found. The report concluded that the harassment eventually led "to Martin's decision to leave the team, as well [as] contribute[d] to his mental health and suicidal thoughts," SB Nation reports.
Martin used his private Instagram account to post a photo of a shotgun and bullets, as well as the names of former teammates, including Incognito and Pouncey. He also included the name of the high school he attended, Harvard-Westlake, and the text: "When you're a bully victim and a coward, your options are suicide or revenge."
Former Dolphins OL Jonathan Martin with some seriously disturbing stuff on his IG story... pic.twitter.com/NaJ8a0BXze
— Nick Brown (@NickyBeaster) February 23, 2018
In the 2014 NFL report, Martin had also expressed distress over being "a pushover, a people-pleaser," texting friends and family to say: "I mostly blame the soft schools I went to, which fostered within me a feeling that I'm a huge p--sy, as I never got into fights. I used to get verbally bullied every day in middle school and high school, by kids that are half my size."
In a statement, the school said: "Last evening, we learned of an internet post that mentions Harvard-Westlake by name. Out of an abundance of caution, and because the safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority, we made the decision to close school today. We are working closely with law enforcement and will share more information when we are able." Jeva Lange
Rick Gates, a former adviser to President Trump's 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy and another of lying to the FBI, charges brought against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Sentencing guidelines put Gates in the range of a prison term of 57 to 71 months, Reuters reports, although those numbers could be brought down based on cooperation in the investigation.
"Gates could provide the special counsel with valuable information about the inner workings of Trump's operation: He served as a senior figure in the campaign and had access to the White House as an outside adviser in the early months of the administration," The Washington Post writes.
Mueller's office had filed 32 additional charges against Gates and Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, on Thursday. The pair had additionally been indicted on 12 counts of financial crimes last October. Gates had reportedly been working to finalize a plea deal with Mueller last week, making him potentially the third person known to be cooperating with the special counsel's investigation, after Trump's former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Jeva Lange
14-year-old Parkland survivor calls out Melania Trump for sitting by as Donald Trump Jr. cyberbullied her
Fourteen-year-old Lauren Hogg, who survived the Parkland, Florida, school shooting last week but lost four of her friends, rebuked first lady Melania Trump on Friday after Donald Trump Jr. "liked" tweets pushing conspiracy theories about the students.
Hogg's older brother, 17-year-old David Hogg, was the target of such tweets liked by Donald Trump Jr. earlier this week. The conspiracy theories allege Hogg, who has made powerful statements calling for bipartisan action on gun violence, is "running cover for his dad," who is a former FBI agent.
"Hey @FLOTUS, you say that your mission as first lady is to stop cyber bullying," Lauren Hogg tweeted, "well then, don't you think it would have been smart to have a convo with your stepson, @DonaldJTrumpJr, before he liked a post about a false conspiracy theory, which in turn put a target on my back and created a safe space for people all over the world to call me and my family horrific things that constantly re-victimizes us and our community?"
Hogg added: "I'm 14, I should never have had to deal with any of this and even though I thought it couldn't get worse, it has because of your family." Jeva Lange
— Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) February 23, 2018
The White House announced Friday that President Trump has authorized an extension of the disaster declaration in Puerto Rico. Under the extension, the island will receive 90 more days of federal funding for "debris removal" and 60 more days of funding for "emergency protective measures," to help continue recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria last September. The announcement amends Trump's previous disaster declaration, under which federal aid would have ended in mid-March.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) February 23, 2018
The Trump administration's response to Hurricane Maria has been heavily criticized, and recovery efforts have been marred by bungled federal contracts for disaster relief. Almost half a year after the Category 5 hurricane hit Puerto Rico, 15 percent of the island remains without power. Kelly O'Meara Morales