Headlines: March 4, 2020
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Former Vice President Joe Biden swept across Super Tuesday primary races capturing wins in 10 states, many of which had poll results just one week ago showing him struggling to win over voters. After Mayor Peter Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar dropped out to endorse him on Sunday and Monday following the South Carolina primary, Biden’s campaign got a new lease on life propelling him to victories in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Maine, and Minnesota. A triumphant Biden declared victory on Tuesday night, after briefly mixing up his wife and sister, and being rushed on stage by vegan activists.
Exit polls show that black voters and those who consider themselves “moderate,” gave Biden the massive push he needed. Meanwhile, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who just a week ago was projected to win more votes than other candidates in most of the 14 Super Tuesday states, suffered from youth voters were excited about his candidacy not showing up in large enough numbers at the polls as expected. Latino voters did show up for Sanders in large numbers however. Sanders won his home state of Vermont, as well as Utah and Colorado and is expected to win in California although he may not receive all California delegates as Biden and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg drew more than 15% of the votes in early tallies. According to the LA Times, “Late deciders in California sided with Biden by a 10-point margin over Sanders,” according to exit polls. Reports abound of long lines and major problems with new electronic touchscreen voting machines especially in Southern California. Sanders’s campaign on Tuesday night filed for an emergency injunction to keep Los Angeles polling places open past 8 pm giving voters time to get into the booths to cast their ballots. Final results from the massive state may not be available for days or even weeks. Speaking from Essex Junction in Vermont Sanders struck a note of determination.
According to the New York Times’s estimate, Biden has now won 433 delegates while Sanders won 388. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who had a disappointing showing is now reassessing her candidacy after garnering only 36 delegates while Mayor Mike Bloomberg ended up with only 12 despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money in the race. Bloomberg on Wednesday morning announced he would end his Presidential bid and, like the other center-right candidates, endorse Biden. Indicating that he is open to accepting the billionaire’s limitless funds, Biden responded, “It’s about defeating Donald Trump, and with your help, we’re gonna do it.”
In other races on Tuesday, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions made it into a run-off race for nomination to retake his old Senate seat in his home state of Alabama. Sessions has made an enemy of President Donald Trump after recusing himself from the Special Counsel’s investigation which led to Sessions’s firing from the AG position. After the primary results were released Trump continued to publicly humiliate Sessions suggesting that the former Senator would face an uphill battle in the run off. In Los Angeles, where a high-profile race to beat District Attorney Jackie Lacey was playing out, the incumbent held an early lead but full vote counts will not be available for a while. Measure R, an initiative for greater civilian oversight of LA Sheriffs, backed by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors does appear to have passed. In Maine, voters overwhelmingly chose to tighten requirements for childhood vaccines, removing the exemptions for religious and philosophical reasons.
There are reports suggesting that fears over the coronavirus may have discouraged some voters from showing up to the polls. Members of Congress struck a deal to fund an emergency package to the tune of $8.3 billion to combat the virus. According to the New York Times, “The bipartisan package, which includes nearly $7.8 billion for agencies dealing with the virus and came together after days of rapid negotiations, is substantially larger than what the White House initially proposed in late February. It also authorizes roughly $500 million to allow Medicare providers to administer telehealth services so that more elderly patients, who are at greater risk from the virus, can receive care at home, according to two of the officials.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced 108 cases nationwide. Los Angeles County has now declared an emergency over the spread of Covid-19 after 7 infections were reported. Seattle reports that a staffer with the retail giant Amazon has been quarantined at home after displaying symptoms.
In other news, the US Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a major abortion case centered on a clinic in Louisiana that has the potential to upend the Roe Vs. Wade decision. So far Justices appear split along partisan lines with Chief Justice John Roberts potentially tipping his vote to either side.
In international news, the peace deal signed by US and Afghan Taliban representatives just days ago appears to be teetering on the edge of collapse. There were reports of numerous attacks on an Afghan checkpoint in Helmand Province that were attributed to the Taliban, resulting in 25 Afghan security forces being killed and 13 injured. A day later, US airstrikes hit Taliban forces. President Trump is apparently in direct communication with leaders of the Taliban. According to CNN, “Following his call on Tuesday, Trump told reporters that he “had a very good talk with the leader of the Taliban” and that they “have agreed there is no violence, don’t want violence.”
Violent clashes continue at the Greece-Turkey border as thousands of refugees released by the Turkish government are trapped from entering Greece. Armed Greek security forces reportedly fired into desperate crowds of refugees seeking entry with one confirmed death and several injuries. The Greek government has dismissed the report as “fake news.”