Headlines: March 6, 2020
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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders continued his campaigning ahead of the next set of primaries on March 10th, speaking to tens of thousands of supporters in Phoenix, Arizona. But during his speech, a man in the upper sections of the coliseum where Sanders was speaking, unfurled a large Nazi flag bearing a swastika. According to the Washington Post, “While people near the unidentified protester quickly ripped the offending item out of his hands and he was removed from the arena, the mere appearance of a Nazi flag at an event dedicated to a democratic socialist who could become the country’s first Jewish president sparked outcry.” A spokesperson for Sanders said he, “is aware of the flag with the swastika on it and is disturbed by it.” On the same day, Nina Turner, the co-chair of the Sanders campaign, debated Joe Biden’s surrogate Hilary Rosen in an interview on CNN which erupted into a clash between the two. Turner had begun to invoke the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and his position on the complicity of white moderates being more dangerous than the violence of white supremacists when Ms. Rosen repeatedly interrupted her. Rosen on Friday apologized to Turner.
President Donald Trump at a Fox News town hall meeting in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Thursday admitted he would be cutting social safety net programs funded by taxpayers for taxpayers. Biden, who was born in Scranton tweeted in response, “Here’s the deal, folks: social security is on the ballot this year, and the choice couldn’t be clearer.” Sanders shot back, “Here’s the deal: Joe Biden has repeatedly advocated for cuts to Social Security. I’ve fought my whole career to protect and expand it.” Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir added in a statement, “Donald Trump tonight sent a warning shot to our party: if we nominate a candidate like Joe Biden who has repeatedly tried to cut Social Security and pushed disastrous trade deals, Trump will exploit that vulnerability in an effort to obscure his own record and win the battleground states that could swing the general election.”
Also at the Fox News town hall, in what was a preview of Trump’s impending attacks on Biden should Biden be the Democratic nominee, the President took aim at the former Vice President’s numerous gaffes. Trump said he had been “all set” to face Sanders in a general election, but, “Then we have this crazy thing that happened on Tuesday, which [Biden] thought was Thursday, but he also said 150 million people were killed with guns and that he was running for the United States Senate. There’s something going on there.” The Guardian newspaper said, “Biden – who did say those things – has a track record of gaffes, and has turned in bumbling debate performances.”
The state of Alabama late on Thursday executed a black man named Nathaniel Woods after the Supreme Court stayed his execution and then lifted the stay. Alabama’s Republican Gov. Kay Ivey refused to step in despite overwhelming evidence that Woods should not have been sentenced to die in the first place. Woods had been convicted of the murder of three police officers in 2004 along with another man. But he was not the one who had fired the shots that killed the officers. Journalist Shaun King who had championed Woods’ case denounced the execution as “a modern day lynching” of “an innocent man.” Woods was killed by lethal injection at 9:01 pm local time in Alabama. King wrote, “The family of Nate Woods is literally on the floor sobbing, uncontrollably.”
In other news, Minnesota Senator and former Presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar has asked for an independent review of a case she prosecuted that resulted in the life sentence for a black man named Myon Burrell when he was only a 16-year old child. He was tried and convicted for the murder of a 12-year old black girl named Tyesha Edwards. Activists dogged Klobuchar throughout her campaign over her role in Burrell’s case after a news report exposed numerous problems in the case and questions over his guilt. Burrell is now 33 years old. AP explained that, “Klobuchar, throughout her political career, has used Burrell’s conviction to trumpet her commitment to racial justice, but she has faced increasing criticism from the African American community in Minnesota.”
A federal judge has said he wants to review all of Attorney General William Barr’s redactions of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump campaign and the 2016 election. Judge Reggie Walton’s decision was in response to a lawsuit brought by a number of watch dog organizations about the biased manner in which Mr. Barr characterized the findings of the Mueller report. The judge cited “Attorney General Barr’s conduct and misleading public statements about the findings in the Mueller Report.” The Washington Post explained that, “It is highly unusual for a federal judge to publicly question the honesty of the attorney general.”
The latest jobs report is out and shows that in the month of February the US economy added 273,000 jobs. In spite of the relatively healthy numbers, economists are worried about the potential impact of the spread of the coronavirus and fear that the March report will not be as good. Meanwhile President Trump on Thursday signed his approval for $8.3 billion in funds to combat the spread of Covid-19. AP explained that, “The legislation provides federal public health agencies with money for vaccines, tests and potential treatments and helps state and local governments prepare and respond to the threat.” Trump was scheduled to visit the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday but canceled the trip at the last minute. He is reportedly considering a bailout for the travel industry whose bottom line has been impacted by the spread of the virus. His administration has shown no such concern over the poor state of the American healthcare system and has yet to address how those among the 27.5 million uninsured Americans will get access to care should they show coronavirus symptoms. Meanwhile CNBC host Rick Santelli, a rabidly rightwing figure associated with the Tea Party is facing calls for resignation after making outrageous statements on television about his fears that the coronavirus was hurting the economy.
Finally in international news, a mass killing of 32 people took place in the western part of the Afghan capital Kabul – less than a week after the US signed a peace deal with the Taliban. Multiple explosions resulted in the mass casualties at an event where opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah was present. He escaped unhurt. The Taliban immediately put out a statement saying they were not behind the attack.