Headlines, March 2, 2020
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The Democratic field of candidates continued to narrow with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar on Monday announcing the end of her candidacy and endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden. She plans to attend a rally alongside Biden on Monday night. Klobuchar on Sunday was forced to cancel her rally in St. Louis Park in her home state after activists protested her prosecution of Myon Burrell when he was only 16 years old. Chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Free Myon” they claimed that Burrell was unjustly sentenced to life in prison for the fatal shooting of an 11-year old girl. PLAY VIDEO.
Klobuchar’s exit comes on the heels of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg withdrawing on Sunday after coming in fourth in the South Carolina primary race. A day earlier, billionaire Tom Steyer dropped out of the race after a disappointing third place finish in South Carolina. Former Vice President Joe Biden won that race as was widely expected, with 48.4% of the vote. Following him, Senator Bernie Sanders won 19.9%. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren drew even fewer votes than Mr. Steyer and Mr. Buttigieg, coming in fifth place with only 7.1% of the vote. But that didn’t stop her from giving a fiery speech on Saturday night. Despite her fourth consecutive loss she appeared determined to stay in the race and even swiped at her colleague and her ideologically closest ally Senator Sanders. PLAY VIDEO. That’s Senator Elizabeth Warren attempting to distinguish herself from Senator Sanders after losing her fourth primary race.
Meanwhile billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg also faced protests at the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama when about 9 people stood up during his address and silently turned their backs to him. The act was apparently in response to Bloomberg’s legacy as Mayor in pushing for the racist police profiling practice called Stop and Frisk. Just days ahead of Super Tuesday the Senator from Vermont appears to be staying strong with two back to back events in San Jose and Los Angeles, California that drew a combined total of 25,000 people. Bernie Sanders’ Los Angeles event on Sunday night was a joint appearance with the legendary rap group Public Enemy. Sanders polling higher in California than any other candidate and has the potential to walk away with all 415 delegates unless one of his rivals can break the requisite 15% of votes. Sanders’s campaign announced that it raised $46.5 million in donations in February alone – a record high for any of the 2020 candidates. Senator Warren also had a decent haul in February, coming in second with $10.4 million.
In other news, the coronavirus scare continues around the world – and here in the US as well – with deaths surpassing 3,000 globally and more than 90,000 infected. Two people have now died in the US of the disease, both in the state of Washington and both of elderly people with existing health issues. The states of New York, Rhode Island, and Florida all reported their first cases as well. Europe continued to see a steady increase in the numbers of infections and in Iran a high-level government official has died from the disease. Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a member of Iran’s Expediency Council and confidant of Supreme Leader Ali Al Khamenei became one of at least 66 people to have died in the country.
Here in the US, President Donald Trump spoke with reporters on Monday morning at the White House saying that, “The country’s doing very well, our professionals are doing an incredible job…We’re also working with other countries to help them because they really have a fear of the unknown.” He added, “Also I’m meeting with the pharmaceutical companies later on this afternoon, we have a big meeting with the biggest companies. We’re talking about a vaccine, maybe a cure, it’s possible, we’ll see about that … We’ve asked them to accelerate whatever they’re doing in terms of a vaccine.” He tweeted earlier in the day that he was, “meeting with the major pharmaceutical companies today at the White House about progress on a vaccine and cure. Progress being made!” Trump will be visiting the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday. And Vice President Mike Pence, who has been put in charge of the nation’s handling of the efforts to contain the Covi-19 virus echoed Trump’s repeated practice of blaming Democrats on the issue in an NBC interview. Pence said, “There’s been a lot of irresponsible rhetoric among Democrats and commentators on the left.”
Meanwhile a federal judge on Sunday ruled that the appointment of Ken Cucinelli as acting director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services was not lawful and therefore several of his policy decisions are now void. In what was a major victory for immigrant rights the judge maintained that Cucinelli’s appointment did not meet the requirements of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. Among Cucinelli’s directives that are now void are his rule for limiting the amount of time asylum seekers had to prepare for their “credible-fear” interviews. Meanwhile just hours after a three-judge panel on Friday upended the Trump policy known as “Remain in Mexico,” the same panel suspended their order, causing confusion at the US-Mexico border. Thousands of migrants remain trapped in squalid and dangerous conditions in Mexico because of the rule requiring them to wait out their application processing times.
The US Supreme Court has just rejected an appeal on a federal ban on bump stocks which are devices that turn semi-automatic rifles into machine guns. The Trump administration took up the ban in spite of its usual pro-gun stance. When gun proliferation groups appealed that ban, the Supreme Court decided to reject the appeal leaving the ban in place.
In international news, representatives from the US in Doha, Qatar, signed a peace deal on Saturday with leaders of the Afghan Taliban – a culmination of years of talks. According to the New York Times the deal, “may not immediately stop the fighting, but it will at least usher in a new era in the 18-year war.” Additionally, “The deal will also begin the process of drawing down the American intelligence presence.” The 12,000 US troops that remain in Afghanistan are expected to be withdrawn within 14 months although it not clear if that timetable is set in stone.Within 24 hours of the deal being signed, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani threw a wrench in the works. Mr. Ghani’s government was excluded from talks and he said he was not under obligation to free the 5,000 or so Taliban prisoners that the deal was premised on.
From the latest on the Syria war, after Turkey’s government last week said it would no longer stop Syrian refugees from heading to Europe, Greece blocked about 10,000 people from entering the nation. Several Greek islands where migrant camps are being built have seen mass protests against the housing of refugees. Greek police on the border shot tear gas into crowds of migrants seeking entry. A Greek government spokesperson complained, “These … people are being used by Turkey as pawns to exert diplomatic pressure.”
And finally Argentina is set to become the first nation in Latin America to legalize abortion. Newly elected President Alberto Fernández announced on Sunday that his administration would be sending a bill legalizing abortion to the Congress. He said, “The state must protect its citizens in general and women in particular… Society in the 21st century needs to respect the individual choice of its members to freely decide about their bodies.”