The Week in Review: Banks crash, missiles splash, and Utah bans abortion

The collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank was probably the biggest story of the week, with updates coming thick and fast. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said a taxpayer-funded bailout would not be in the cards. On Monday, the Fed announced an investigation into the bank. 

Biden, attempting to steady frayed nerves, assured customers of SVB and Signature that they could access their funds. However, he stopped short of promising investors the same grace. “They knowingly took a risk, and when the risk didn’t pay off, investors lost their money,” he said, before (I imagine) he whipped on his aviators: “That’s how capitalism works, [baby.]” 

As expected, the joint U.S.-South Korean military drills drew out a response in kind from North Korea. On Monday the hermit kingdom fired two cruise missiles from a submarine named “August 24 Hero Warship.” The test fires landed safely in Kyongpho Bay. On Tuesday, they were at it again, firing two ground-to-ground rockets as part of a “demonstration missile-launching drill.” Naturally, their southern neighbors aren’t pleased. 

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff condemned the launches “as an act of significant provocation that harms peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the international community.” Kim Jong Un, seemingly unfazed by his current unpopularity, then opted to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile yesterday — just two hours before R.O.K’s President Yoon met with the Japanese Prime Minister in Tokyo. Again, nothing was damaged, save for another direct hit to the stability of the region.

As U.S. relations with North Korea and China seem permanently set to ‘tense and unpleasant,’ it’s no surprise that Biden proposed a larger-than-expected defense budget for 2024. A week prior, China had raised their own by 7.2% to $224B. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said, “As the PRC races to modernize its military, this budget will sharpen our edge by making critical investments across all timeframes, theaters, and domains.”

On Wednesday, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk heard arguments to overturn the FDA approval of the abortion pill. The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine contends there’s “substantial evidence that chemical abortion drugs cause more complications than surgical abortions.” The proceedings have been subject to a certain amount of controversy. MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin claimed the Trump-appointed Kacsmaryk had “tried to conceal his plans for a preliminary injunction hearing over the FDA’s approval of mifepristone” and hid last Friday’s proceedings from his docket until Wednesday. Kacsmaryk responded that he had done so to reduce the number of death threats his division had been receiving. 

While this was happening, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill banning clinics from providing abortions, effective as of Jan 1, 2024. North Dakota’s Supreme Court took the opposite path and blocked a total ban.

As always, Ukraine is never too far away from the front page. This week, Governor DeSantis caused some ruckus by referring to the Ukraine war as a ‘territorial dispute.’ Notable figures from both sides have criticized the quip, such as Lindsey Graham and Kamala Harris. On the Ukrainian end, Oleg Nikolenko, spokesperson for Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, invited DeSantis to visit Ukraine. “We are sure that as a former military officer deployed to a combat zone, Governor DeSantis knows the difference between a ‘dispute’ and war,” he offered. “We invite him to visit Ukraine to get a deeper understanding of Russia’s full-scale invasion and the threats it poses to U.S. interests.”

Turning to a nation known for its territorial disputes – today is St. Patrick’s day. On this date in 461CE, the foremost patron saint of Ireland died. St. Patrick is widely-known for single-handedly banishing the snakes from Ireland (though I don’t think the Irish climate could’ve supported them anyways). Even as an Irishman, I’m not entirely sure what the deal is, but it’s a great excuse to go for a beer and perpetuate a stereotype. Sláinte!

Ben Byrne, News Editor