Trump to Declare National Emergency

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 saying that President Donald Trump will declare a national state of emergency in order to procure funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Declaring a state of national emergency allows Trump to obtain funds from non-Congressional sources. This may entail drawing money from the military or disaster relief reserves. Trump may also choose to use funds from the military's counterdrug account, as outlined in Section 284 of Title 10 of the United States Code to help pay for the construction, although the amount of money in that account is not enough to cover the total proposed cost of the wall.

According to the White House, the declaration of a national emergency is justified by an immigration crisis along the border — a "national security and humanitarian crisis," as Sanders described it. BBC News said that this claim is "strongly refuted by migration experts" and that people who overstay their visas comprise the largest group of illegal immigrants in the U.S., not those entering illegally.

The White House announcement also stated that Trump will sign a bipartisan funding bill passed by Congress, which will prevent another government shutdown. The bill grants nearly $1.4 billion for fences/barriers along the border but does not provide the $5.7 billion Trump requested for the wall, according to The Associated Press

Protests in Haiti Continue

Haitian President Jovenel Moise announced on Feb. 14, 2019 that he has no intention of stepping down or leaving the country despite ongoing protests, BBC News reported. The statement came after a week of silence from Moise as rallies wore on in both the national capital of Port au Prince, among other cities. Violence broke out during some of the demonstrations, with at least seven people dying.

A prison break took place amidst the protests on Feb. 12, 2019. All 78 inmates escaped from Aquin prison in southern Haiti as police forces were preoccupied with controlling nearby anti-government protests. According to BBC News, the U.S. has asked "all non-emergency U.S. personnel and their family members" to leave Haiti.

The protests began in response to allegations that government officials and former ministers had misappropriated loans. BBC News said that Moise is calling for talks with his political opponents, but nothing has been arranged.

Opportunity Rover Mission Ends

NASA officially called an end to the Opportunity Mars rover mission on Feb. 13, 2019.

Opportunity arrived on Mars in 2004, along with Spirit — its “sister” craft. The original mission span for both was intended to be 90 Martian days, called "sols" — the equivalent of around 92 Earth days. Instead, Opportunity lasted for almost 15 years.

In June 2018, contact with Opportunity was lost during a massive dust storm. For months NASA waited for the dust to be blown from the rover’s solar panels so that it might power itself back up, though to no avail. 

Before becoming unresponsive, Opportunity contributed to significant scientific finds. Alongside Spirit, it provided evidence of liquid water on Mars. It also traveled over 45 kilometers from its landing site, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, despite only being designed to move for about 1000 meters.

“It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our brave astronauts walk on the surface of Mars," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on the JPL-NASA website.