Headlines: March 5, 2020
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Senator Elizabeth Warren has announced she is withdrawing from the race for Democratic Presidential nomination after failing to win any of the 18 primary races so far. Campaign staff from the two front runners left in the race, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, have reportedly reached out to Warren’s campaign in the hopes of receiving her coveted endorsement. On Wednesday the Washington Post reported that representatives of Sanders and Warren were, “discussing ways for their two camps to unite and push a common liberal agenda,” but, “Warren associates and the camp of former vice president Joe Biden also had talks about a potential endorsement if she drops out.” Meanwhile, Sanders in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow disavowed any vitriolic behavior among his supporters toward Warren.
Senator Sanders, whose campaign suffered from low turnout among youth and a massive push behind Biden the day before Super Tuesday, told Maddow he would love to debate Biden on the issue of Medicare-for-All. He said, “I would love to debate Joe Biden on this issue, give us an hour on MSNBC… You want to defend that system? Let’s do it.” The next debate between candidates is scheduled for March 15th in Phoenix, Arizona, and unless Representative Tulsi Gabbard remains in the race until then, it is likely to be a face-off between Biden and Sanders alone. However, before that, on March 10th, a number of states will be voting including Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Washington. North Dakota will hold a caucus. In an apparent acknowledgement of Biden’s strength in southern states, Sanders canceled a planned rally in Mississippi in order to switch his focus to Michigan. Meanwhile, California state officials continue to count ballots from Tuesday’s primary which Sanders won. But the extent of Sanders’ win will not be known until all ballots are counted. Every single delegate matters in what remains a close race as Sanders trails Biden in nationwide delegate counts. One expert who tracks election data told The Guardian newspaper, “It’s like there’s this black box of how many ballots are at the post office right now…The x-factor really is: do we see some big surging coming with the uncounted ballot results?… It’s just a huge unknown.” While California voters cast about 10 million ballots on Tuesday, only about 5.3 million have so far been counted.
In the latest news from the spread of the novel coronavirus, a cruise ship returning to California from Hawaii has been held for screening. The ship is carrying about 2,500 passengers. The New York Times explained that, “officials learned that a coronavirus patient who died near Sacramento on Wednesday had traveled on the vessel last month and that 21 people on board were showing symptoms.” Overall the travel industry has been hit hard with a report on Thursday of $113 billion in lost revenues. Meanwhile the federal government is sending investigators to the nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, a suburb near Seattle where the most Covid-19-related deaths have occurred in the US.
In the face of growing concern over the spread of the disease President Donald Trump continued to spew misinformation. In a phone interview with Fox News the President downplayed the risk and questioned the World Health Organization’s records showing a death rate of 3.4% suggesting that people go to work even if they are sick and do not succumb to disease. He also openly admitted he was ignorant of how many people in the US die of the seasonal flu each year. Meanwhile Vice President Mike Pence, who has been put in charge of overseeing the government’s response to the disease, spoke to the press on Wednesday and also downplayed the risk. When a reporter asked whether the uninsured would be able to get tested, Mr. Pence ignored him and continued to leave the room. His spokesperson Katie Miller scolded the reporter for asking the question. There are more than 27 million uninsured Americans.
Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer says he regrets comments he made about the Supreme Court’s politicization. At a pro-abortion rally outside the court Schumer targeted right wing justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both appointed by Trump, saying, “You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price…You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.” Schumer was referring to the fact that the Roe Vs. Wade decision allowing women the right to choose abortions, was at serious risk with a conservative court in charge. Republicans including Trump were quick to denounce Schumer’s words as hugely inappropriate and amounting to a threat. There was no such response to Trump when he singled out liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in late February.
A week after a mass shooting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin took the lives of 5 workers, the Washington Post reported that the perpetrator who was black, worked in an environment that suffered from, “a long-held culture of racism, including racist cartoons placed in workspaces, the n-word scrawled in break rooms and bathrooms and nooses hung at the facility.” In fact Anthony Ferrill, the gunman, had found a noose on his own locker at one point. Police have denied the role of racism in motivating the shooter and insisted it was “mental health” issues.
And finally the International Criminal Court has announced that for the first time it will allow an investigation into whether US forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan during the early years of the war. At stake are allegations that US forced, “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence.” State Secretary Mike Pompeo dismissed the court as, “an unaccountable, political institution masquerading as a legal body.”