Former Soccer Coach lawsuit update

Former UM soccer coach Mark Plakorus appealed Missoula County District Court’s decision to dismiss his defamation suit against the University of Montana. The University announced that it would not renew his coaching contract in January 2018 after Griz Athletics reviewed his phone records and found he used his University phone to text escort services while he was in Las Vegas. Plakorus filed a lawsuit in May 2019 alleging that the University violated his privacy and defamed his character. The lawsuit was dismissed in December. His appeal will go to the Montana Supreme Court for a decision. (Sydney Akridge)

Update on Mansfield director search

Deena Mansour was named Executive Director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center Jan. 7 after serving as interim executive director since Dec. 1, 2018. A search was conducted by the University after the former executive left in November 2018. With her work at the Mansfield Center and the University of Montana as a whole, she has focused on expanding and developing international exchange programs, co-founding the University’s Women’s Leadership Initiative and serves on the President’s Lecture Series committee. (SA)

 President Trump impeached

The U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump Dec. 18, citing two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump is the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. The House mainly voted along party lines, with Democrats leading the impeachment efforts. The House voted 230-197 to charge Trump with abuse of power and 229-198 to charge him with obstruction of Congress. The impeachment charges allege that Trump withheld aid from Ukraine after pressuring Ukrainian officials to investigate presidential candidate Joe Biden. It also alleged that Trump prevented Congress from investigating the alleged misconduct by blocking officials from testifying. (Helena Dore)

 U.S. involvement in Middle East

The United States has been heavily involved in conflicts and politics in the Middle East for decades, but recently the conflict between the U.S. and Iran has escalated significantly. On Dec. 27, an Iranian militia group, Kata’ib Hezbollah, attacked a U.S. military base in Iraq killing and wounding several Americans and Iraqis. The conflict between the two countries escalated quickly when the U.S. military attacked several cities controlled by the militia. The militia group attempted to enter the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Dec. 31. On Jan. 2, President Trump responded by ordering a drone airstrike to kill Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. Trump announced Soleimani’s killing the next day. The president’s administration said the killing was meant to deter Iran from large-scale aggression against Americans, according to a Pentagon press release. Thousands of people in Iran mourned the death of the general and Iran retaliated by firing missiles on Jan. 8 at Iraqi bases where American troops were housed. (SA)

 Press Box temporarily shut down

The Press Box Sports Bar on Broadway temporarily closed on Dec. 4 after a health inspection by the Missoula City-County Health Department. The inspector cited the bar for problems with cleanliness of the dishes and floors, rodent droppings and a faulty water line. The bar has corrected health concerns and fully reopened on Dec. 20. (SA)