Following the unexpected death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday, Republicans and Democrats immediately began fighting over who should select his replacement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement that “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” while Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said President Obama “can and should send the Senate a nominee right away.”
Were Obama to nominate Scalia’s replacement, it would dramatically refashion the ideological make-up of the court, with the reliably conservative Scalia almost certainly being replaced by a liberal like Obama’s other two nominees, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Scalia is one of the most conservative members of the US Supreme Court. The Week
The six remaining Republican presidential hopefuls faced off Saturday night in one of the most combative debates of the 2016 race. The debate in Greenville, South Carolina, was the last before the Feb. 20 primary in South Carolina and the Feb. 23 caucus in Nevada. Donald Trump and Jeb Bush got into several heated exchanges — many of which resulted in the crowd aggressively booing Trump. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio also tangled over immigration, and Trump called Cruz a “nasty guy” and the “single biggest liar.” The Week
GOP debate highlights are as follow:
- The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, creating a vacancy on the court, shifted the discussion towards social issues like gay rights and abortion.
- Trump pledged to stop using vulgar terms on the campaign trail
- Florida Senator Marco Rubio bounced back after stumbling in a previous debate performance
- Rubio again clashed with Cruz on immigration reform. Rubio said Cruz’s shifting position on immigration was just another example of his dishonesty
- Ohio Governor John Kasich continued to push what he sees as a positive campaign message, decrying the sharp attacks of the night
- Trump said he would work with Congress to penalize companies, which move factories and jobs to Mexico. BBC
Syrian activists said Turkey shelled Kurdish fighters in northern Syria for a second day Sunday after warning it would take action if it faced a threat from across the border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria, said the shelling targeted areas north of the city of Aleppo and killed two fighters.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday the Kurdish forces were a threat to the Syrian town of Azaz located a few kilometers from the border. Syria’s military, backed by Russia, is pressing its own offensive in the region to recapture Aleppo and the border area.
Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia to be branches of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a decades-long insurgency against the government. VOA
Venus Williams wins Taiwan Open
Seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams beat Misaki Doi 6-4 6-2 to win the inaugural Taiwan Open on Sunday. Top seed Williams, 35, overcame the Japanese player to claim the 49th title of her 21-year professional career.
The American, who exited the Australian Open at the first-round stage in January, did not drop a set during the tournament in Kaohsiung. Williams broke her second-seeded opponent three times in each set to win the final in one hour and 26 minutes. Williams’ latest victory leaves her seventh on the all-time list of tournament wins in women’s singles.
Martina Navratilova leads the way on 167 titles, while Venus’ younger sister, world number one Serena Williams, has 69 career tournament victories. BBC
Pakistan’s president, Mamnoon Hussain, has urged the nation not to celebrate Valentine’s Day, the romantic holiday that hardline Muslim clerics want banned but officials in the capital say they cannot suppress. The president criticized Valentine’s Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan.
Despite its roots as a Christian holiday, Valentine’s Day has gained popularity among Pakistanis, with flower vendors reporting booming sales this year, as in recent years. “Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided,” Hussain said at a ceremony celebrating a nationalist leader. VOA
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