CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
Government shutdown temporarily ended
After a record-setting federal government shutdown, approximately 800,000 government workers returned to work on Monday. This comes after President Donald Trump agreed to sign a three-week spending package that will keep the government running through Feb. 15. Trump and Congressional Democrats had been at odds about Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall on the southern border. Both sides refused to cave, extending the shutdown to a record 35 days. It is not clear if a new proposal by Democrats at the end of the three weeks will include funding for a wall or if the president will sign off on the proposal without the funding, creating the possibility of another shutdown.
Dems start lining up for 2020 election
The race for Pennsylvania Avenue in already underway for Democrats, who have already seen eight people announce their intention to run for the 2020 US presidential race. This includes high-profile politicians such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris and former Obama cabinet member Julian Castro. Many more are undecided, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who are rumored to be running but have not formally announced their candidacy. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz also announced his candidacy as an independent, and more candidates from the Democratic and Libertarian parties are expected to announce their candidacies in the coming months. President Donald Trump, who was one of 17 major candidates to enter the 2016 Republican primary, has already begun his reelection campaign.
Midwest hit by coldest temperatures in decades
Regions throughout the Midwest are bracing for some of their coldest temperatures in decades. As of Monday, 31 states were under alerts for snow, wind and extreme cold. In Minnesota, wind chills were predicted to be as cold as minus 35 degrees on Monday and as low as minus 65 Tuesday through Thursday. A moving snow storm leaving from Minnesota was expected to hit the areas of Chicago and Detroit next and continue moving east. According to ABC News, six to 12 inches of snow are expected from Pennsylvania to Maine.
World Youth Day held in Panama
The 16th World Youth Day was held over the course of six days last week in Panama City. Approximately 113,000 young people from around the world are estimated to have attended the international event. It was the first World Youth Day to take place in Central America and the fifth to be held in the Western Hemisphere. During his time at the event, Pope Francis spoke to the youth on the importance of serving their fellow man, a common theme throughout the World Youth Day. During the closing Mass, which was attended by a reported 700,000 people, Pope Francis announced that the next World Youth Day would be held in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2022.
20 killed, 100 wounded in Filipino cathedral bombing during Mass
Two bombs, exploding minutes apart in the middle of Mass, tore apart a Roman Catholic cathedral in southern Philippines on Sunday, killing at least 20 people and wounding upwards of 100 more. The island of Jolo is known to have active Muslim militants, who officials have accused of being behind the bombing of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Carmel. President Rodrigo Duterte promised to pursue “to the ends of the earth the ruthless perpetrators” behind the crime during a visit to the site on Monday. It remains unknown if the attack is related to a referendum recognizing a new autonomous region in the southern Philippines, which Jolo voted against.
Denmark builds border fence to keep out pigs, swine flu
In an effort to fight the African swine fever, Denmark has begun construction on a 43-mile fence along its border with Germany. Concerns in the country arose after two wild boars were found to have died due to the fever, which is harmless to humans but fatal for pigs, which threatened Denmark’s $4.6 billion pig industry. The fence will stand five feet tall and cost around $12 million to construct. Denmark has also eased hunting restrictions on wild boar hunts and increased fines for livestock that haven’t been properly disinfected in a holistic effort to combat the threat of fever. Officials said they expect the fence to be completed later this year.