After less than a month in the job, Michael Flynn departed as Donald Trump’s national security adviser, having admitted that he had provided “incomplete information” to the White House about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador weeks before Mr Trump was inaugurated as president. All this added to the growing sense of a disorderly Oval Office, and fuelled speculation about alleged links between the Trump campaign team and Russian officials.

Mr Trump described an appeals-court’s decision to block his temporary ban on refugees and citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries as “disgraceful”. He may introduce a new, legally tight order to enact the ban. Either way, the issue seems destined for the Supreme Court.

The Senate confirmed Steven Mnuchin as Mr Trump’s Treasury secretary. But Andrew Puzder withdrew his name for consideration as labour secretary. He had come under criticism for, among other things, employing an illegal immigrant in his household.

The two-state twin step

Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, met Donald Trump at the White House. In what appeared to be a break from established American policy promising Palestinians their own state as part of a peace deal, Mr Trump said he could live with either one state or two states, depending on what both parties want. He urged both to compromise, and told Mr Netanyahu to “hold back” on building settlements in the West Bank.

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, named a hardline military commander, Yehiya Sinwar, as its overall leader in the territory. Some fret that his appointment may increase the risk of conflict with Israel, which unilaterally pulled settlers and troops out of Gaza in 2005 but still controls its borders.

The number of mentally ill patients who have died after they were transferred out of state hospitals into unregulated community-care centres in South Africa reached 100, the country’s health ombudsman said. The deaths arising from a mismanaged transfer add to pressure on the ruling African National Congress, which is losing support over concerns about poor governance.

While the world is distracted

Russia reportedly deployed a new cruise missile, violating an arms-control treaty from 1987 that bans American and Russian intermediate-range missiles based on land. The Kremlin denied the report. The Obama administration criticised Russia when it tested the missile in 2014; deploying it would be provocative.

The European Union sent its commissioner for economic affairs to Athens for talks about Greece’s debt woes. He discussed the economic reforms that creditors want the country to implement with Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, and Euclid Tsakalotos, the finance minister. There is little hope that the review can be completed by February 20th, when finance ministers meet in Brussels, in order to unlock the latest round of aid for Greece.

Pablo Iglesias, the head of Spain’s far-left Podemos Party, won a leadership battle against a moderate rival, giving him a mandate to continue along a radical, anti-establishment track.

Anti-government protests continued in Bucharest, the capital of Romania. Demonstrations began several weeks ago against a proposed law that decriminalised most forms of corruption. Though the bill was dropped, protesters have continued to call for the resignation of senior politicians, including Sorin Grindeanu, the prime minister.

The Miami vice-president

The American government blacklisted the vice-president of Venezuela, Tareck El Aissami, calling him a “drug trafficker” and a “kingpin”. The decision bars American firms from doing business with him and freezes his assets in the United States. Mr El Aissami said the order was an act of “infamy and aggression”.

Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, visited the White House. Donald Trump was friendlier to Canada than he is to Mexico, saying that trade relations are “outstanding”. Any changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement would “benefit both our countries”, he promised.

Emboldened

North Korea tested a missile in defiance of UN sanctions. The launch marked another step forward in the country’s quest for a long-range missile that could carry a nuclear warhead. A day later, the half-brother of North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, was assassinated in Malaysia, in an attack assumed to be the work of North Korean agents.

In a call with China’s president, Xi Jinping, Donald Trump reaffirmed America’s commitment to the “one-China policy”, backing away from a veiled threat to recognise Taiwan’s independence.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, topped the vote in an election for governor of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Ahok, a Christian who has been falsely accused of insulting Islam, will now face Anies Baswedan, a former education minister, in a run-off on April 19th.

Just before she was due to be sworn in as chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Sasikala Natarajan was convicted of corruption by India’s Supreme Court. That left other members of her party to fight over the mantle of Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu’s recently deceased, wildly popular chief minister, who was also Ms Sasikala’s companion.

Sam Rainsy, the exiled leader of Cambodia’s main opposition party, said he was stepping down, in a bid to prevent the Cambodian authorities from banning his party.

Officials in Xinjiang, a province in western China, said five people were killed by three assailants armed with knives in a residential compound. They said the attackers were shot dead by police. The authorities usually blame such violence on Islamist militants seeking Xinjiang’s independence.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the president of Turkmenistan, won re-election in a nine-man field with 98% of the vote. The election was supposed to showcase Turkmenistan’s recent embrace of multi-party democracy. Turnout was said to be 97%.

Correction: An earlier version of the item on Greece said that ministers hoped to clinch a deal in time for the Eurogroup summit. That has been amended.