×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
November 21, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in Sochi, Russia, on Monday, the Kremlin announced Tuesday. Assad thanked Putin "and all Russian people" for "the efforts that Russia made to save our country," and Putin said Russia's "joint operation to fight terrorists in Syria, this military operation is indeed coming to an end." Putin and Assad use the word "terrorists" to describe both Islamic State militants and Syrians who oppose Assad in the civil war that has roiled Syria since March 2011.

More than 400,000 people have been killed in the war and millions of Syrians fled to Europe and elsewhere, and Russia's use of military force on Assad's behalf starting in 2015 tipped the war decisively in Assad's favor. This was only Assad's second trip out of Syria since his harsh crackdown on protesters led to war, following an October 2015 visit to Russia. On Wednesday, Putin is hosting the leaders of Iran, which also backed Assad, and Turkey, which supported the opposition.

Video and photos released by Russia show Putin and Assad embracing and meeting with Russian generals and other military leaders. "I would like to introduce you to people who played a key role in saving Syria," Putin told Assad.

If you are interested in what else Putin and Assad said and don't speak Russian, the Kremlin has an English-language transcript. Peter Weber

8:26 p.m. ET
Todd Williamson/Invision/AP, File

Bristol Palin hasn't been a teen mom in years, but that's not a dealbreaker for MTV.

Variety and TMZ report that Palin, the 27-year-old daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, is joining the cast of Teen Mom OG this fall. Not long after presidential candidate John McCain announced in 2008 that her mom was his running mate on the Republican ticket, Palin revealed a bombshell of her own: she was pregnant at 17. Palin gave birth to her son, Tripp, in December, and has gone on to have two more children — daughters Sailor Grace, 2, and Atlee Bay, 1. She's also been on several reality shows, including Dancing with the Stars (she came in third) and Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp (it got canceled after one season).

The other stars of Teen Mom OG appeared on episodes of the show 16 and Pregnant, which chronicled their lives as high school students dealing with pregnancy, childbirth, and the early days of motherhood. Palin has parlayed her experience as a teen mom into job opportunities for years now, including as the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Ambassador for the Candie's Foundation. Catherine Garcia

7:26 p.m. ET
AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Olympic figure skater Denis Ten was stabbed to death in Kazakhstan on Thursday, following an altercation with people who allegedly tried to steal a mirror from his vehicle, Kazakh news agencies report.

Ten, 25, was rushed to a hospital in his hometown of Almaty, where he died. Ten took home the bronze medal from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, making him Kazakhstan's first medalist in figure skating, and also won the Four Continents championships in 2015. The Associated Press reports that due to injuries over the last few years, he placed 27th in the Pyeongchang Olympics this February.

"Today is truly a dark day for all of us who loved this young figure skater and were inspired by his talent and creativity," Kazakhstan Olympic Committee President Timur Kulibayev said in a statement. "Throughout his sporting career, Denis set an example with his motivation, strength of spirit, and his champion's personality." Catherine Garcia

6:45 p.m. ET

If you follow White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Twitter and saw her Thursday afternoon post announcing the Trump administration has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to D.C. this fall, then you were briefly more informed about the matter than Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Coats found out about the invite during an interview with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell at the Aspen Security Forum. "Say that again?" he asked, laughing uncomfortably. Mitchell repeated herself and Coats chuckled again, exhaled, and said, "That's gonna be special." Coats later stated that "based on my reaction, I wasn't aware of that."

Coats also said he doesn't know what happened during President Trump's one-on-one meeting with Putin Monday in Helsinki, and had Trump asked him "how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way, but that's not my role. That's not my job. So it is what it is." Catherine Garcia

5:01 p.m. ET

There are discussions underway for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit President Trump in Washington, D.C., in the fall, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.

The White House has so far been short on details regarding any specific deals or commitments that were made when Trump met with Putin on Monday, but Sanders said that Trump had asked National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Putin to the U.S. in the coming months.

A visit in the fall would coincide with the midterm elections, which intelligence officials say Russia is attempting to manipulate with ongoing cyberattacks. While Sanders did not say whether Putin had accepted, she noted that Trump had agreed to "ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs." Summer Meza

4:23 p.m. ET
YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images

In the first official rebuke of President Trump's controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week, the Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a measure to prevent Russia from interrogating U.S. officials, reports Bloomberg.

The White House had revealed Wednesday that Trump was "working with his team" to consider whether to turn over American citizens, including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, to the Kremlin for questioning, only to walk back the idea on Thursday. Trump originally called it an "incredible offer" because Putin had suggested allowing the U.S. to question Russians accused of interfering in the 2016 election in exchange.

The resolution against the "offer" was passed 98-0, with all Democrats and most Republicans voting to approve it. "Let this resolution be a warning to the administration that Congress will not allow this to happen," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Read more at Bloomberg. Summer Meza

3:47 p.m. ET
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Papa John's has had a tough time lately, but a few decades ago, when things were looking up, founder John Schnatter wanted employees to think of his thriving pizza empire when they literally looked up.

Forbes reported Thursday that Schnatter commissioned a ceiling fresco of his own face when he was building the company's new headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, in the late 1990s.

Immortalizing his mug onto a company ceiling wasn't Schnatter's only eccentric behavior at the time, employees told Forbes. He would also conduct company meetings while atop his exercise bike, and insisted on knowing what was going on at the headquarters even after he moved to an office 20 minutes away. Many of the other recollections of Schnatter's leadership isn't so pleasant — former employees allege that Schnatter was vindictive, controlling, and often made inappropriate comments toward women.

Schnatter has denied any wrongdoing, and reportedly regrets stepping down as chairman after using the n-word in a company conference call, saying his reputation is being "unfairly tainted."

Even though the pizza mogul reportedly "bristled" at the idea of appearing in fewer advertisements now that he's embroiled in a couple of very-public scandals, the company is slowly moving on without him, taking him out of ads and possibly looking for a new John to crown as Papa. It's probably safe to guess that his fresco has been painted over by now, too. Read more at Forbes. Summer Meza

3:37 p.m. ET

The world asked, and Egypt answered.

Archaeologists opened the creepy black sarcophagus they uncovered last week, the country's ministry of antiquities announced Thursday. There's no sign of a curse, but the contents are still revolting.

The sealed coffin was the largest ever found in Alexandria, Egypt, and looters somehow never cracked its lid during its 2,000 years in the ground. That job was left to archaeologists, who granted Twitter users' wishes and unsealed the tomb Thursday.

Inside, archaeologists found the remains of what appear to be three warriors, as one skeleton looks like it was struck with an arrow. There's also a lot of nasty red sewage that leaked in over the millenia. The sarcophagus, sans sewage, will be restored and transferred to an Alexandria museum, per the ministry.

If you haven't eaten in the past few hours, take a peek inside with these pictures. Kathryn Krawczyk

See More Speed Reads