The meeting between the leaders of the Eastern Orthodox and Western factions of Christianity marks the first such meeting in history and is a symbolic step in repairing relations between the two factions that split nearly 1,000 years ago. The leaders had a conversation and then signed a joint declaration on religious unity, which calls for peace in Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine. USA Today
With the Nevada caucus just over a week away on Feb. 20, Hillary Clinton is scrambling to find her footing against an increasingly formidable Bernie Sanders. During Thursday night’s Democratic debate, Clinton called Sanders’ expansive proposals impractical, saying, for example, that “the numbers just don’t add up” for his plan to deliver Medicare for all. Sanders nonetheless has narrowed the gap between himself and his party’s front-runner to just 7 points nationally. Both candidates are now hoping to win over minority voters, who could be decisive in the more racially diverse states of Nevada and South Carolina. Morning Consult
U.S. presidential hopefuls are appealing to minority and evangelical Christian voters as they enter a critical two-week stretch in their campaign battle. Four Republican candidates — former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson — appeared Friday at the Faith and Family Presidential Forum at the fundamentalist Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Bush and Rubio are Catholic, and Ben Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist.
African-Americans make up a majority of Democratic voters in South Carolina. Hispanics make up a considerable portion of the population in Nevada, which holds Democratic caucuses on February 20 and Republican caucuses three days later. VOA
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev criticized the West for worsening relations with his nation over conflict in Syria. “NATO’s attitude toward Russia remains unfriendly and opaque, and one could go so far as to say we have slid back to a new Cold War,” he said at a high-level security conference Saturday.
“Sometimes I wonder if it is the year 2016 or 1962.” Medvedev disputed a widely held belief that Russian planes have bombed civilians in Syria. USA Today
The governor of Hawaii has signed an emergency proclamation regarding Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Gov. David Ige signed the declaration Friday as “a preventative measure” to guard against Zika, dengue fever and other diseases, his office said in a statement.
The action follows the recent decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take emergency steps to prepare for and mitigate the Zika risk, the statement said. The Zika virus is prompting worldwide concern because of an alarming connection to a neurological birth disorder and its rapid spread across the globe.
The World Health Organization described it as an “extraordinary event” while declaring a public health emergency this month. CNN
Energy market watchers credit an increase in oil prices to rumors of a possible production-cut deal that would include Saudi Arabia, other OPEC nations and Russia. The average oil price had dipped well below $30 a barrel recently, but is now around $31.
The rumor that has been circulating in oil markets around the world this week involves a possible deal between Saudi Arabia, other oil-producing states in the same region and Russia. The Saudis would be key, though, because of the desert nation’s large reserves and its ability to increase or decrease production to affect the world market acting unilaterally.
In an interview with VOA, Jim Krane, geopolitical energy analyst at Rice University’s James Baker Institute for Policy Study, said that the Saudis would need some large oil-producing states outside of OPEC to cooperate, and they would need to see some cutbacks by large private oil companies as well. VOA
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