Winter Olympics open in South Korea +++ Ban on Russian athletes upheld +++ Last two members of “I.S. Beatles” captured

Winter Olympics open in South Korea +++ Ban on Russian athletes upheld +++ Last two members of “I.S. Beatles” captured +++ US Congress approves new budget +++ Global market turmoil continues +++ The weather

News | 9 February 2018

Paul Brennan

Winter Olympics open in South Korea

The 2018 Winter Olympics have officially opened in South Korea. The most senior North Korean delegation ever to visit South Korea is attending the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang. It includes Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Athletes from North and South Korea are marching under a single flag.

Ban on Russian athletes upheld

The Games are going ahead without 47 Russian athletes and coaches, who lost an appeal against their exclusion. The ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport came hours before the opening ceremony. The Russians were originally banned over a doping scandal at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Last two members of “I.S. Beatles” captured

Two British men captured in Syria by Kurdish fighters have been accused of belonging to a notorious Islamic State Group cell, which the U.S. says murdered more than two dozen hostages. The cell’s four members – all British – were nicknamed the Islamic State Beatles. One was jailed in Turkey last year while the fourth, so called Jihadi John, was killed in a drone strike in 2015. Masa Gifford is a British man who fought with the Kurdish YPG forces in Syria: “They were directly implicated in the deaths of 26 people. So these people are a symbol, just as important as Raqqa, as a symbol of how vicious and horrible ISIS is… and a real focus for the international community. So I’m really glad they’ve been captured.

US Congress approves new budget

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill to fund the federal government through March 23rd and to increase overall spending limits over two years. The legislation will now be sent to President Trump to sign. Politicians failed to pass the bill by a midnight deadline – forcing a short-lived government shutdown – the second this year. The delay was caused by the Republican senator, Rand Paul, who unsuccessfully called for a cap on spending: “We are in a terrible state as a country. 20 trillion dollars in debt is bigger than our entire economy! You wonder why the stock market is jittery. We do not have the capacity to continue to fund a government like this.”

Global market turmoil continues

There’s been a mixed start to trading in Europe after sharp falls in Asia and the United States. The U.S. markets are now down by more than 10% from the record highs they reached in late January. Investors are said to be concerned that the U.S. Federal reserve will start raising interest rates faster than initially expected. White House spokesman Raj Shah says President Trump is not panicking: “The president, like the rest of the White House, is concerned about long-term economic indicators and factors. And the fundamentals, in terms of the long term, are very strong.”

The weather

Mainly overcast conditions with fog or cloud cover in most lower lying areas. Sunshine will be largely restricted to mountain regions. Top temperatures are ranging from -2C to +5C.


  • Paul Brennan