10 things you need to know: February 19, 2023

Former President Jimmy Carter enters hospice, U.S. holds air exercises with Asian nations following North Korean missile test, and more

Former President Jimmy Carter.
(Image credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

1. Former President Jimmy Carter enters hospice

Former President Jimmy Carter entered hospice care at his home in Plains, Georgia, on Saturday. The former president's charity, the Carter Center, said in a statement that Carter had "decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family" instead of receiving additional medical treatment following a series of hospital stays. "He has the full support of his family and his medical team," the statement added. The 98-year-old Carter is the longest-living president in American history. He was elected the 39th president in 1976, narrowly defeating incumbent Gerald Ford to win the White House. Following his one term, Carter became known for his humanitarian efforts and his work with Habitat for Humanity.

CNN The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

2. U.S. holds air exercises with Asian nations following North Korean missile test

American military forces held a series of joint strategic bomber exercises with South Korea and Japan on Sunday. The show of force between the triple alliance comes following the test launch of an ICBM by North Korea the previous day. The North Korean military warned that the test was meant to heighten its "fatal" nuclear arsenal, and warned the United States against conducting further drills in the area. However, the three nations were not deterred. In a statement, the South Korean military said the exercises had "strengthened the combined operation capability and affirmed the United States' ironclad commitment to the defense of the Korean Peninsula and the implementation of extended deterrence."

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The Associated Press Reuters

3. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Turkey following earthquake

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Turkey on Sunday for an official visit, and looked to discuss ways in which the United States can provide aid to the area following a devastating earthquake. The 7.8-magnitude quake struck Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6, and has already killed more than 45,000 people as the death toll continues to climb. Blinken will hold bilateral talks with top Turkish officials to try and negotiate more aid for the country, as the U.S. has already sent $85 million in humanitarian efforts to the region. The secretary of state is also expected to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sources said.

Reuters

4. Michigan State students to return to class following mass shooting

Students at Michigan State University will start returning to classes on Monday, one week after a mass shooting on campus killed three students and injured six more. Despite some MSU officials facing pressure to delay the re-opening, the university confirmed in an email to students that the campus would be open on Monday, as people across the community of East Lansing, Michigan, continue to cope following the tragic event. However, MSU reiterated that there will be no more classes for the rest of the semester in Berkey Hall, where two of the students died. Marco Díaz-Muñoz, who taught the class where both were killed, described the shooting as "12 minutes of terror."

The Associated Press Detroit Free Press

5. Doctors Without Borders access earthquake zone in Syria

The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, was finally allowed to enter Syria on Sunday after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated the region. The earthquake had ravaged both Syria and Turkey, and while significant assistance has been given to the latter, ongoing conflicts in Syria have made it difficult for non-governmental organizations to send aid to the area. Even as MSF confirmed that a convoy of 14 trucks was able to enter northwest Syria, officials said that much more aid was needed. "An urgent increase in the volume of supplies is needed to match the scale of the humanitarian crisis," MSF said, adding that their supplies "currently fail to even match pre-earthquake volumes."

Reuters South China Morning Post via AFP

6. U.S. officials believe China may be providing military aid to Russia, report says

The United States believes China may be providing "non-lethal military assistance" to Russia for use in the Ukrainian war, officials told NBC News on Saturday. American intelligence is also afraid the assistance being provided by China may border on lethal types of military weaponry. Sources told NBC that while China was known to provide some help to Russia, such as promoting the country's disinformation campaigns, this is the first evidence that China may be providing "more tangible assistance for use by Russian troops in Ukraine." The specifics of what China may be providing were not revealed, but the report comes as tensions between the U.S. and China continue to rise.

NBC News

7. American envoy to Israel says Netanyahu should halt judicial reform efforts

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said Saturday that the country's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, should "pump the brakes" on his government's push to overhaul Israel's judicial system. The proposed series of reforms would give significant power to Israel's far-right government over decisions made by the Supreme Court, and protests have broken out across the country as a result. Speaking to former Obama administration official David Axelrod, Nides said, "We're telling the prime minister — as I tell my kids — 'pump the brakes, slow down, try to get a consensus, bring the parties together.'" Nides also said he told Netanyahu, "We can't spend time with things we want to work on together if your backyard's on fire."

The Times of Israel Reuters

8. Netherlands expels Russian diplomats, says it will close consulate

Dutch government officials on Saturday expelled top Russian diplomats from the Netherlands, saying that Russia had made "continued attempts to place intelligence officers into the Netherlands under diplomatic cover." The move comes as tensions between the two countries have risen steadily since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. The Netherlands previously expelled 17 diplomats last March, followed by Russia doing the same to 15 Dutch diplomats. However, the Netherlands also said that in addition to these most recent expulsions, it would also be closing the Dutch consulate general in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Russian trade office in Amsterdam will also be shuttered this week.

Politico

9. Italian Prime Minister to meet with Volodymyr Zelensky

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Monday, sources said. Meloni, who took office last October as head of the most far-right coalition in Italy since World War II, had pledged to visit Zelensky prior to the one-year anniversary of the war on Feb. 24. Meloni has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine despite some anti-Ukrainian sentiments among her far-right supporters. The visit will look to smooth out relations between Italy and Ukraine. It comes after former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the leader of the conservative Forza Italia party, said he blames Zelensky for the Russian invasion, causing anger in Ukraine.

Reuters

10. Brittney Griner reportedly signs deal to return to Phoenix Mercury

Basketball star Brittney Griner has penned a deal to return to the WNBA, it was reported Saturday, signing a deal to return to her former team, the Phoenix Mercury. Griner, a 32-year-old free agent, reportedly inked a one-year, $165,100 contract with the Mercury, bringing her back to the city where she made a name for herself. Griner became known worldwide after she was arrested in Russia last year for possession of cannabis oil, and sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony. Following a series of intense negotiations, the United States was able to get Griner released in a prisoner swap with Russia, and she returned home last December.

The New York Times ESPN

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