Super Tuesday has arrived. It’s one of the most important days of voting in primaries and caucuses in the the 2016 presidential campaign. Republicans and Democrats each go to the polls in 11 states. About a quarter of all delegates are at stake. The five Republican presidential candidates will compete in contests in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Vermont. Democratic voters will decide between their two candidates in similar states, except Alaska, and also in Colorado and American Samoa. Recent polls show billionaire Donald Trump could win at least eight of the 11 states.
On the campaign trail, Florida Senator Marco Rubio criticized Trump’s remarks refusing to disavow backing from former KKK member David Duke.
Sen. Marco Rubio: "He’s unelectable now. He refused to criticize the Ku Klux Klan. He’s now been given three interviews. This morning on the Today Show, he blamed it on a bad earpiece, that he couldn’t hear the question. I don’t care how bad the earpiece is, Ku Klux Klan comes through pretty clearly, and he refused to criticize it."
At a Donald Trump rally Monday night in Georgia, a group of about 30 black students say they were ejected by a Secret Service agent who said Trump asked for them to be removed. The students had been standing silently at the top of the bleachers. In tears outside, they said they just wanted to watch the rally.
Student: "I think we got kicked out because we’re a group of black people. And like I guess people—what’s going on in America, they’re afraid we’re going to say something or do something. But we just really wanted to watch the rally. And to get kicked out because we’re a group of black people, it shows you how racist our own school is, that we can’t even go to our own school complex."
The event took place at Valdosta State University, which was a white-only campus until 1963.
Earlier in the day, at a campaign rally in Virginia, Trump was repeatedly disrupted by protesters, including some from the Black Lives Matter movement. Trump mocked the demonstrators, asking one of them, "Are you from Mexico?"
Donald Trump: "Get him out of here please. Get him out. Get him out. Are you from Mexico? Are you from Mexico? Huh? Are you from Mexico?"
A Time magazine photographer at the Trump rally said a Secret Service agent grabbed him by the neck and shoved him to the ground in an incident that was caught on video.
On the Democratic side, following her commanding win in South Carolina, Hillary Clinton now leads Bernie Sanders in six of the 11 states voting today—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. On the campaign trail in Norfolk, Virginia, Clinton called for making America "whole" again.
Hillary Clinton: "I personally believe America is and always has been great. What we need to do together is make America whole again, where we are working together, we are focused on making progress together, where we talk about issues, not insults."
Super Tuesday comes as the State Department has finished releasing emails from the private server Clinton used while she was secretary of state. Democratic Senator Sanders has an overwhelming lead over Clinton in his home state of Vermont. Speaking in Milton, Massachusetts, on the eve of Super Tuesday, Sanders drew attention to mass incarceration.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: "There is no rational reason why a black male baby born today has a one-in-four chance of ending up in jail. That’s a disgrace. And together, we are going to bring justice to a broken criminal justice system."
In the latest expansion of the U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon has disclosed the United States is waging new forms of cyber-attacks against ISIL, as well as secret commando missions on the ground. Speaking at a Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said U.S.-led forces would increase their support for Iraqi troops attempting to retake the city of Mosul.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter: "Because of our strategy and our determination to accelerate our campaign, momentum is now on our side and not on ISIL’s. Our partners on the ground in Iraq have retaken Ramadi and are making gains in Anbar, while at the same time we’re making operationally significant strides in our campaign to dismantle ISIL in Syria."
A Saudi official has told Reuters news agency that defense ministers from the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIL have discussed the possibility of a ground incursion in Syria. Such a move would mark a major escalation in the U.S.-led campaign, which has so far involved airstrikes and arming Syrian rebels. State Department spokesperson John Kirby said the United States would welcome the possibility of a Saudi ground force in Syria, but "there’s a lot of homework that needs to be done."
Meanwhile, refugees fleeing Iraq, Syria and other countries are facing restrictions at borders as they attempt to reach countries in Europe. On the Greek-Macedonian border, refugees stormed a border fence, pulling away barbed wire as Macedonian police fired tear gas into the crowd. Thousands of refugees, many of them from Iraq and Syria, have been stranded in northern Greece as countries further along their migration route have heavily restricted passage. Abdullah, from the Syrian city of Aleppo, is among those stranded.
Abdullah: "It’s suffering here. I am suffering here. I am dying, slowly dying here. I don’t know what I’ll do."
Residents of France’s largest refugee camp have staged a sit-in, refusing to leave after riot police and work crews closed in to demolish their makeshift shelters and evict up to 3,000 people. Riot police fired tear gas on protesting refugees Monday and overnight, and a number of tents were set ablaze. The camp is called the "Jungle" in Calais. French authorities want the refugees moved to shipping containers at the site—where aid groups say there is not enough space—or dispersed to centers across France.
In Indiana, a federal judge has blocked Republican Governor Mike Pence’s order blocking state agencies from helping Syrian refugees to resettle in the state. Aid groups in Indiana have continued their efforts to resettle refugees, despite Indiana’s attempt to withhold funding earmarked for the purpose. More than two dozen states have taken action to block refugee resettlement programs. U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled Monday Indiana’s order "clearly discriminates" against refugees.
Argentina has reached an agreement to pay U.S. hedge funds that have sought for 14 years to profit off the country’s debt. The hedge funds bought up Argentina’s debt for bargain prices after its financial crisis, then demanded full repayment. Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had refused to pay the firms, calling them "vulture funds." But under the new right-wing president, Mauricio Macri, Argentina has agreed to pay $4.65 billion to four hedge funds, including Elliott Management, run by billionaire Paul Singer. The deal would see the hedge funds take about 75 percent of what they demanded from Argentina—several times more than what they actually paid for the debt.
In a victory for privacy advocates, a federal judge has rejected an FBI request to force Apple to unlock a drug dealer’s iPhone. Monday’s ruling came hours before Apple and the Obama administration face off in a congressional hearing today over Apple’s refusal to help the FBI break into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino massacre suspects in a separate case.
Justice Clarence Thomas has broken a decade-long silence during arguments at the Supreme Court. Thomas asked a series of questions in apparent defense of gun rights during a case on domestic violence and gun control. The remarks Monday came exactly 10 years and one week after Thomas’ last question and just over two weeks after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who was known for dominating the Supreme Court arguments. This comes as the court is set to hear arguments Wednesday on the most important abortion rights case in more than 20 years.
Alabama has banned cities and towns from raising their minimum wage. The legislation, signed by Governor Robert Bentley late last week, blocks an ordinance passed by the city of Birmingham to raise the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Alabama abides by the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour—just over $15,000 a year for a full-time worker.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, hundreds took to the streets demanding answers after police shot and critically injured a 17-year-old Somali refugee. The teen, Abdi Mohamed, was shot twice in the torso. Police say he and another person attacked someone with metal sticks and refused calls to drop them; the victim of the alleged beating did not require medical care. Police have so far refused to release footage from the officers’ body cameras.
Meanwhile in Raleigh, North Carolina, a police officer shot and killed an African-American man while he was trying to flee arrest. A witness told local news the officer opened fire after he fell trying to follow the suspect as he fled over a fence. The man has been identified as Akiel Denkins, a father of two. Police say a gun was found, but have not said if it was Denkins’ gun or if he threatened the officer.
And in Virginia, an Army staff sergeant has been arraigned for killing his wife and a police officer who responded to the scene. Ronald Hamilton admitted killing his wife, Crystal, and then opening fire on police, killing 28-year-old Prince William County officer Ashley Guindon. It was Guindon’s first day on the job.
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