News & Analysis of Economic, Racial, Gender Justice and More

President Donald Trump is meeting with Senators from his own party on Tuesday to present a proposal for economic relief after the stock market fell. The rapid spread of the coronavirus, Covid-19, through the nation has caused market jitters and appears to have put the President off balance. Trump’s plan includes proposing a payroll tax cut for Americans and a bailout of the travel industry. According to the Washington Post, “His proposal caught many lawmakers by surprise.” The stock market rebounded on Tuesday after a massive fall on Monday and oil prices have also begun to recover.

Meanwhile Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence gave a press conference on Monday in the White House briefing room about the spread of the coronavirus and the disembarking of a cruise ship in California. Mr. Trump stood silently next to Pence for a time but then walked out as reporters asked him about being tested for the virus leaving the Vice President to respond.  Another reporter raised the fact that Trump has been in contact with several Congressmen who personally interacted with an individual at the CPAC conference now known to have the virus.  The two Congressmen in question are Matt Gaetz and Doug Collins who have now self-quarantined after interacting with an infected person and then the President. Also under a self-imposed quarantine is Trump’s new Acting Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Congressman Paul Gosar, and Senator Ted Cruz. A total of 7 lawmakers have announced they may have been exposed. So far none are reporting any symptoms.

In other news related to the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new set of guidelines aimed at older Americans saying people over 60 should avoid travel and stock up on supplies. A spokesperson said, “As the trajectory of the outbreak continues, many people in the U.S. will at some point in time this year or next be exposed to this virus, and there’s a good chance many will become sick…The reason to stock up now is to kind of stick close to home.” She added, “The highest risk is those who are older and with underlying health conditions.” Colleges and Universities across the country are canceling in-person classes including at Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Rice, Stanford and UC Berkeley. In New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has deployed the national guard to New Rochelle, a town north of New York City, to contain the virus. Justifying his decision to reporters Cuomo said, “This is unique in the United States of America, we haven’t seen this anywhere else. Think about it, New Rochelle has double the cases of New York City.” And internationally, the quarantine in the hard-hit nation of Italy was expanded from a large part of the country to the entire nation. According to AP, “Italy now has more coronavirus cases than anywhere but China, registering 9,172 infections with 463 deaths.” Meanwhile Iran had its single highest death toll in a day on Monday with 54 people dying from Covid-19 in 24 hours.

Five states are holding their primary races on Tuesday as Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders continue their battle for delegates heading into this summer’s party convention. The state of Michigan is especially critical as could portend a turnaround for Sanders’ campaign if he is able to pull off a surprise victory in that state as he did 4 years ago against Hillary Clinton. Sanders enjoys strong support from American Muslims and Michigan has one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in the nation. Sanders also won an endorsement from musician Neil Youngon Monday. Meanwhile Biden as the new frontrunner is coming under closer scrutiny. Speaking to his supporters at a 2,000 strong rally in Detroit, Michigan Biden faced protests among the crowds of people with some holding up banners that read, “NAFTA Killed Our Jobs.” Biden reportedly questioned whether they were pro-Trump supporters before saying, “That’s OK, let him go. This is not a Trump rally. … The Bernie Bros are here. Let him go.” Shortly after, more protesters demanded that Biden support a Green New Deal. Holding signs saying “Green New Deal Now,” and “Green Jobs For All,” they chanted “Joe Biden’s Got to Go.”

Biden meanwhile gave an interview to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell where he explained what sort of President he would be. Despite the fact that healthcare is the number one concern of voters in poll after poll and that Medicare for All is a popular plan, Biden promised to veto it if it were come to his desk for a signature. Critics slammed Biden for regurgitating health insurance industry talking points. O’Donnell also asked Biden about his enthusiastic support for the Iraq war. Biden claimed he did not believe the faulty intelligence that Iraq’s Saddam Hussain had weapons of mass destruction.  Biden has been accused of rewriting his history on the Iraq war.

Florida is once more in the news over the police abuse of black school children. Tyeisha Harmon’s 7-year old son who struggles with mental health issues was handcuffed by school law enforcement so forcefully, it left marks on the child’s wrists. The incident took place in Pinellas County where officials justified the boy’s treatment saying he, “was engaging in dangerous activity that could have hurt the student or others.” The incident follows another one where a six year old black girl named Kaia Rolle was arrested at school in Orlando. Video of the disturbing incident was made public last month. According to the Guardian, “The Florida House passed a measure last week that would require police agencies adopt policies regulating the arrest of anyone under 10. It is now awaiting action by the state senate.”

In international news, the US military has announced it is withdrawing troops from Afghanistan just days after the signing of a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban. Although it is unclear if the deal is holding given continued violence in the country the troops are apparently drawing down. On Tuesday a US military spokesperson in Afghanistan said that the US had launched its, “conditions-based reduction of forces to 8,600 over 135 days.” Afghanistan remains in political turmoil as two men swore themselves in as President this week with competing claims of election victory. US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad said he hoped the two can, “come to an agreement on an inclusive and broadly accepted government.”

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