In our news wrap Monday, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court threw out the state's congressional map for being heavily gerrymandered to benefit Republicans. Also, Turkey continued its military offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria for a third day.
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In the day’s other news- The Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court threw out the state’s congressional map. It ruled that districts had been so heavily gerrymandered to benefit Republicans that it violated the state’s constitution. The court gave the Republican-led legislature until February 9 to fashion a replacement. But GOP leaders said that they would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This was the third day of Turkey’s military offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria. The Turks say that the Kurds are allied with Kurdish rebels inside Turkey. Today, allied fighters, plus Turkish artillery, fired at Kurdish militia in the northeastern enclave of Afrin.
And Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to continue, despite the cost.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (through interpreter):
Of course we will have martyrs and wounded in this kind of struggle and it will not be left unanswered. They are and will be paying a heavy price for this. Our Syrian brothers in our country will find the opportunity to return to their own homes and their own lands.
Erdogan also said Russia, Syria’s main ally, had agreed not to interfere with the operation.
Conservatives in South Korea served notice today that they oppose warming relations with the North ahead of next month’s Olympic Games. In Seoul, several hundred hard-line activists burned images of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and its flag. That came as the North’s Olympic delegation visited venues for a musical performance during the Games.
Pope Francis is apologizing for demanding that victims of sexual abuse by priests show proof before they can be believed. In South America, Francis had defended a Chilean bishop against allegations that he covered up for a notorious pedophile priest.
Today, flying back to Rome, Francis said that he never meant to cause more pain to the victims.
Pope Francis (through interpreter):
I apologize to them if I hurt them without realizing it, but it was a wound that I inflicted without meaning to. I know how much they suffer. And to hear that the pope told them to their face that they need to bring a letter with proof, it’s a slap in the face. And now I realize that my expression wasn’t right, because I didn’t mean it.
At the same time, the pope said again that the Chilean bishop will stay in office unless there is actual evidence implicating him in a cover-up.
Three top leaders of USA Gymnastics, the chair, vice chair and treasurer, resigned today after an outcry over sexual assaults by a former team doctor. Larry Nassar is awaiting sentencing in a Lansing, Michigan, court, where more than 100 women have detailed abuse at his hands. A number of them say USA Gymnastics didn’t act on complaints about Nassar.
On Wall Street today, the Senate deal to end the government shutdown helped push stocks higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 143 points to close at 26,214. The Nasdaq rose 71 points, 1 percent, and the S&P 500 added 22.
And in Paris — sorry if you’re about to have dinner — the rat population has exploded, and a new video has people demanding action. The amateur footage shows hundreds of rats wriggling in a dumpster. It was posted online by the newspaper Le Parisien. Officials say heavy rain, a mild winter and construction have driven the rodents out of the sewers.
Let’s hope they stay there and go nowhere else.