Headlines: February 24, 2020
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Vermont Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders declared a decisive victory in Nevada’s Primary caucuses on Saturday, taking a large lead ahead of his rivals so early in the race that Associated Press declared him the winner before the official results were in. Ultimately Sanders drew 46.8% of the vote, with Joe Biden at 20.4% Pete Buttigieg at 13.9%, and Elizabeth Warren at 9.8%. Sanders celebrated his victory in Nevada from San Antonio, Texas, where a massive crowd had gathered. Even before Sanders spoke, Buttigieg took to the stage warning Democrats to not choose Sanders. Buttigieg was widely criticized for saying, “Sen. Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans.” Meanwhile his campaign has now said there were major errors in vote counting in the Nevada Caucuses.
MSNBC Host Chris Matthews is coming under fire for comments during coverage of the Nevada caucuses where he compared the rise of Sanders’ popularity to the Nazi invasion of France. Matthews previously claimed that if Sanders won the nomination there would start being public executions in the US. Critics are calling for Matthews to apologize and even resign from the network. Sanders is Jewish and lost family members in the Holocaust. Meanwhile the Presidential frontrunner continued his trend of bucking the Democratic Party by declaring over the weekend that he would not attend this year’s conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or AIPAC, the leading pro-Israel lobby group in the country that has regularly drawn support from both major parties. Sanders explained his position on Twitter saying, “I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.” AIPAC hit back at Sanders’s announcement calling it “truly shameful.”
A new poll of New York State shows Sanders leading all candidates across the state with 25% support. Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg is not far behind with 21% support followed by Joe Biden at only 11%. In New York City however, voters picked their former mayor – 33% said Bloomberg would be the best candidate for the Democratic Party nomination. Meanwhile, Bloomberg has decided to skip this week’s CNN townhall meeting in order to prepare for taking on Sanders in Tuesday’s candidate debate, which will be only his second time on stage. A Bloomberg campaign spokesperson said, “the country can’t afford to let Bernie Sanders skate by another debate without a focus on his extreme record.” And, former Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has decided to formally endorse Sanders for President.
President Donald Trump is in India being feted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a giant cricket stadium in the city of Ahmedabad, more than a hundred thousand people gathered to watch him speak, most of them wearing white caps that said “Namaste Trump.” Trump lauded the nation at a time when Modi’s government is facing its worst crisis over new laws that question the citizenship of non-Hindus. According to a report by AP titled, “Trump’s India visit prioritizes pageantry over policy,” “In his first hours on the subcontinent, Trump received the adulatory reception that has eluded him on many foreign trips.” But, “miles away in the capital of New Delhi, police used tear gas and smoke grenades to disperse a crowd of clashing protesters hours before Trump was due to arrive, as violence broke out over a new citizenship law that excludes Muslims. Anti-Trump street demonstrations also erupted in Kolkata, Hyderabad and Gauhati.” Trump has promised to boost trade ties with India and also sell it the, “best and most feared military equipment.”
The jury in Harvey Weinstein on Monday delivered its verdict in the nation’s highest profile case around sexual assault. Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and third-degree rape and handcuffed while in court. His conviction carries up to 25 years in prison. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for March 11th. According to Reuters, “The jury acquitted Weinstein on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and first degree rape of Mann. A conviction on predatory sexual assault would have meant the jury had concluded he was a repeat sexual offender.”
In other news, the US Stock market dipped on Monday over fears of the spread of the new coronavirus strain that has now infected more than 78,000 people worldwide. Already China’s stocks had been under deep strain over the spread of the virus and its impact on the global economy. There are now cases of the virus in 35 countries although the vast majority of cases – more than 77,000 are in China. Japan and South Korea have the next highest numbers of infections at about 830 each. One report from Iran declared that 50 people in the city of Qom had died but the Iranian government rejected the report saying that 12 people had died nationwide. As of Monday Italy announced a total of 6 deaths from the disease so far. Meanwhile the leader of a World Health Organization team studying the coronavirus has urged cooperation with China rather than a closing of borders. Here in the US, the White House is apparently planning to request up to $1 billion of funding from Congress to combat the spread of the disease.
In news from the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor over the weekend wrote a damning dissent against her conservative colleagues over a decision allowing an anti-immigrant Trump rule to take effect while lower courts tackle challenges. Sotomayor accused conservatives on the Supreme Court of, “putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the party that won,” and upending “the normal appellate process” in case after case. The court is currently behind on a number of critically important cases including one around same-sex couples in Philadelphia, and an environmental fight over the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Lawyers for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange argued against his extradition to the US in a British Court on Monday. Attorney Edward Fitzgerald said the US Justice Department was, “not motivated by genuine concerns for criminal justice but politics.” Assange is implicated in leaking hacked DNC emails from a Russian source to affect the 2016 US election in Trump’s favor and has also had numerous visits from Brexit-backer and rightwing British politician Nigel Farage. But the case facing him in the US is over the leaking of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs to the press in violation of the Espionage Act. Meanwhile, whistleblower Chelsea Manning who was at the center of that case has been imprisoned for nearly a year for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Wikileaks.