Headlines: February 12, 2020
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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders finished ahead of all other candidates in the Democratic Primary race in New Hampshire on Tuesday. Capturing more than 75,000 votes or almost 26%, Sanders narrowly beat South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg who won about 72,000 votes at 24.4%. Senator Amy Klobuchar improved on her Iowa performance, coming in third at nearly 20%, while Senator Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden had a disappointing showing at 12.4% and 8.4% respectively. Sanders, who also won the popular vote in Iowa but was awarded fewer delegates gave a victory speech after the results came in. The Washington Post’s exit polls in New Hampshire showed Sanders enjoying popularity among young voters aged 18 to 29, and those earning less than $50,000 a year. Many support a single payer healthcare system, and consider income inequality and healthcare as their top issues. Mr. Buttigieg did well among those earning $100,000 or more a year while Klobuchar earned the support of older people and people of faith.
Senator Warren remained determined to stay in the race saying on Tuesday night, “Our campaign is best positioned to beat Donald Trump in November ― because we can unite our party.” Biden, who had already fled to South Carolina where he hopes to win a bigger slice of votes, said of his New Hampshire result, “It ain’t over, man.” Meanwhile three Democrats dropped out of the race after the New Hampshire primary, most notably Andrew Yang who had energized a small faction of voters with his backing of a universal basic income. Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick also dropped out.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who had decided to skip the first four primary races, came under fire for an audio clip of a speech he gave at the Aspen Institute in 2015 about his backing of the controversial stop-and-frisk policies racially profiling black and Latino men. The clip was unearthed and made public by a progressive podcaster named Benjamin Dixon and shows Bloomberg justifying the targeting of minority neighborhoods for aggressive policing and arrests. Soon after he gave that speech at the Aspen Institute Bloomberg ordered them not to release the video. Despite the deeply incriminating and racist language in the clip Bloomberg won the endorsement of several members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
After President Donald Trump intervened on Tuesday in the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for his friend Roger Stone, Attorney General William Barr appears to have done Trump’s bidding and backed off from pushing for a 7-9 year sentence. The move sparked all 4 Justice Department prosecutors working on Stone’s trial to resign from the case, and one of them Jonathan Kravis resigned from his position at the DOJ. Trump ranted on Twitter, demanding to know, “Who are the four prosecutors (Mueller people?) who cut and ran after being exposed for recommending a ridiculous 9 year prison sentence to a man that got caught up in an investigation that was illegal, the Mueller Scam, and shouldn’t ever even have started?” He then congratulated Barr on Twitter for intervening, making no attempt to hide the improper influence he is wielding over what should be an impartial Justice Department. Trump said, “Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control.” Democrats howled in protest with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying, “It is outrageous that DOJ has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing its recommendation. Stepping down of prosecutors should be commended & actions of DOJ should be investigated.” Senators Richard Blumenthal and Kamala Harris have called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate while a government watch dog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a FOIA request seeking correspondence between the White House and the DOJ on the matter. Media outlets pointed out that before Trump was president he routinely alleged improper interference by Bill and Hillary Clinton in Justice Department decisions.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Tuesday released its annual report on Extremism and found that in 2019 the circulation of white supremacist propaganda doubled compared to the year before. The ADL report found a total of 2,713 cases of propaganda distributed, “the highest number of propaganda incidents ADL has ever recorded.” University campuses were among the biggest target of distribution and the top three groups Patriot Front, American Identity Movement and the New Jersey European Heritage Association, were responsible for 90% of the activity.
A grand jury in Chicago has indicted actor Jussie Smollett on multiple counts including disorderly conduct and filing a false report. Smollett was found to have perpetrated a hoax hate crime last year prompting Trump to denounce the action, but the Cook County State Attorney’s office had declined to prosecute him. Smollett is due in court later this month to face the newest charges.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is offering the Department of Homeland Security access to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles database on the “Trusted Traveler” program in exchange for allowing New Yorkers to use the “global Entry” program. DHS had recently cut off access to the program that helps expedite travel times, as retaliation for New York’s sanctuary policies.
New data from Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that household debt in the US continues to climb and for the first time has exceeded $14 trillion. Meanwhile a new survey found that nearly a third of Americans run out of money before pay day – even those that make $100,000 a year. And, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its data on Tuesday showing that 2019 had the largest amount of union activity and work stoppages in a decade. There were 25 work stoppages compared to the yearly average of 15.
A California newspaper has found that the total death toll from the state’s deadliest fire in history – the Camp Fire, killed far more people than previously thought. Eight five people were thought to have died – largely in the retirement community of Paradise – when the Camp Fire ripped through the area. Now the Chico-Enterprise Record says there were 50 additional deaths from the fire that were not initially attributed to it. Downed power lines run by the private company Pacific Gas and Electric were found to have sparked the fire.
And finally, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air together with Greenpeace Southeast Asia has released a report on the damning impact of burning fossil fuels. According to the report there are a whopping 4 million premature deaths around the world due to the burning of fossil fuels and children are especially vulnerable. About 40,000 children die each year before their fifth birthday of ailments like asthma, strokes, and lung cancer linked to air pollution from fossil fuel burning.