5 things for Friday, February 3, 2017: Israel, Russia, Yemen

5 things for Friday, February 3, 2017: Israel, Russia, Yemen

(CNN)Good morning. It’s the Friday before the Super Bowl. If you haven’t picked the team you’ll be rooting for come Sunday, you better get to it. Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door.

1. Israeli settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s got to be a little confused. All through the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump seemed to be OK with Israel’s move to expand its settlements in the West Bank. In just the first couple weeks of the Trump administration, Israel OK’d plans for 5,500 new housing units there in addition to building a brand new settlement. Then the White House seemed to do a 180 and said that expanding settlements beyond current borders “may not be helpful” in bringing about peace with the Palestinians, who along with the international community view the land the Israelis have settled in the West Bank as the home of a future Palestinian state. Maybe the prime minister and President can iron all of this out when Netanyahu visits the White House later this month.

    2. US and Russia

    An interesting trend is developing as the Trump administration gets up and running. The President takes a position on an issue, then members of Team Trump go out and publically take the opposite position. We saw it happen with waterboarding. Trump said he was all for it and other forms of torture; Defense Secretary James Mattis said, um, no. (The President said, That’s cool, you can override me on that one.) Now we’re seeing it on Russia. Trump’s friendly with Vladimir Putin, has refused to condemn Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election and hints he might want to recognize Russia’s annexation in Crimea. In her debut at the UN Security Council, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was having none of it. She blasted the Russians and said they need to get out of Crimea, which the rest of the world says is still part of Ukraine. So what did Haley’s boss think of her comments? We haven’t heard, but the White House was aware of her speech in advance. Explaining the US’ relationship with Russia is just one of many items on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s to-do list.

    3. Yemen raid

    It was a raid that killed an al Qaeda leader and left 13 other fighters dead. Valuable intelligence was recovered. But a lot went wrong in a SEAL Team 6 raid in Yemen over the weekend. One of the SEALs was killed, as were at least 10 civilians, including women and children. A $70 million Osprey helicopter was destroyed. It’s all getting a lot of scrutiny because it’s the first special operations raid authorized under President Trump (it was planned during the last months of the Obama administration) and could tell us a lot about how he’ll fight terrorism.

    4. Delaware prison

    There are lots of questions yet to be answered as officials sort out the 19-hour hostage drama which finally ended at a Delaware prison. The chaos left one corrections officer dead. How were inmates able to briefly take over one of the prison’s buildings? And how did Sgt. Steven Floyd die? Inmates forced him into a closet, but he warned other officers, who were rushing into the building, about what was about to go down. That saved lives, and Floyd is being hailed a hero. Three other corrections employees were also taken hostage, including a female counselor who was “shielded” and protected by some of the inmates. The standoff ended after authorities used a backhoe to breach the building.

    5. National parks

    We’re still in the grips of winter, but it’s not too early to start thinking about summer vacation plans. National parks are a surefire winner, but will the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and other beloved parks even be open now that President Trump’s put a hiring freeze on federal workers? The national parks need 8,000 seasonal and short-term temporary employees to get through the busy summer months. But an exemption to the hiring freeze has been granted. That means the Department of the Interior (which runs the parks service) will be able to bring in the help the parks need. Time to dust off the camping gear.


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