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HeadlinesFebruary 27, 2020

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Fears of Coronavirus Pandemic Grow as U.S. Cites First “Community Spread” of Pathogen

Feb 27, 2020

U.S. health officials said Wednesday they’ve identified the first case of a coronavirus infection by a person who had not traveled to any of the affected regions of the world, nor had known contact with anyone else who did. The case in Northern California came as governments worldwide took increasingly severe measures to stop the transmission of the virus, which causes respiratory trouble and is sometimes fatal. In Saudi Arabia, officials have banned Muslim pilgrims from entering the country to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In South Korea, the number of coronavirus cases has passed 1,700, making it the largest outbreak outside of China. The U.S. and South Korea on Wednesday called off joint military exercises indefinitely. Meanwhile, Japan says the 2020 Summer Olympics are still scheduled to take place in the capital Tokyo.

Trump Blames “Caronavirus” Fears on Democrats and Fake News Reporting

Feb 27, 2020

In the U.S., President Trump has sought repeatedly to dismiss the threat of the coronavirus, tweeting on Wednesday morning, “Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!” President Trump tweeted, misspelling the word “coronavirus.”

Trump’s comments prompted alarm among lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans. This is Democratic Congressmember Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts questioning Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday.

Rep. Joe Kennedy: “Mr. Secretary, I don’t want to panic over this, either. The stock market’s crashing. He’s trying to stop a stock market. He’s not trying — he’s outright contradicting everything that you all have just said. Outright contradiction.”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar: “I think he’s expressing confidence in” —

Rep. Joe Kennedy: “With no medical basis for it. That’s what you’ve just explained to us. Come on, sir.”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar: “No, there’s — he’s expressing that there — he’s expressing that the American people need to take a breath here, that there’s no change to anyone’s daily life from this, that the country has a plan. We have pandemic plans.”

Trump Taps VP Mike Pence, Who’s Blamed for Indiana HIV Outbreak, to Lead Coronavirus Response

Feb 27, 2020

Late Wednesday, President Trump held a news conference at the White House, where he said he’s tapped Vice President Mike Pence to coordinate the federal response to the coronavirus. Pence is not a public health expert, and as governor of Indiana he slashed public health spending and is widely blamed for an outbreak of HIV in his home state. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is warning the true number of U.S. coronavirus cases might be higher than reported because test kits sent out nationwide earlier this month included a faulty component. After headlines, we’ll discuss the growing threat of the coronavirus.

Gunman Kills 5 at Molson Coors Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Feb 27, 2020

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a gunman opened fire inside a sprawling Molson Coors brewery Wednesday, killing five people before taking his own life. The shooter was identified as a 51-year-old man who worked at the factory complex. Police have not yet identified a motive in the killing.

Physicians Group Calls U.S. Migrant Family Separations “Torture”

Feb 27, 2020

In immigration news, a new report by Physicians for Human Rights finds the Trump administration’s separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border is tantamount to torture. The report studied 17 adults and nine children separated for about two months under Trump’s so-called zero-tolerance policy, finding people experienced shock, terror and grief constituting “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.” The report warns of long-lasting effects of family separations, with people put at higher risk of anxiety, depression, psychosis and addiction, along with higher rates of chronic medical conditions like cardiovascular disease and premature death.

U.S. Drops Charge Against Scott Warren, Who Aided Migrants Crossing Desert

Feb 27, 2020

In Arizona, federal prosecutors on Wednesday dropped a misdemeanor charge against humanitarian aid volunteer Scott Warren, one day before he was to be sentenced for driving on protected lands to drop water, food and other aid to migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert. The single misdemeanor count was the last charge faced by Scott Warren, who at one point faced up to 20 years in federal prison for felony charges of harboring migrants, after he provided food, water and shelter to a pair of men who barely survived their journey into the U.S. After a first trial ended in a hung jury, Scott Warren was acquitted of felony charges in a second trial. Click here to see our full coverage of Scott Warren’s case, including our trip with him on a water drop in the Sonoran Desert last summer.

House Approves Emmett Till Act to Make Lynching a Federal Hate Crime

Feb 27, 2020

The House of Representatives voted 410 to 4 Thursday to make lynching a federal hate crime. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act was named for the 14-year-old African-American boy whose killing 65 years ago remains one of the most horrific examples of racial terror in the Jim Crow South. If signed into law by President Trump, the bill will finally end what proponents say have been 200 failed attempts to pass similar legislation. This is Congressmember Karen Bass, Democrat of California, who co-sponsored the anti-lynching bill.

Rep. Karen Bass: “A 1930 editorial in the Raleigh News & Observer noted the elation of the audience witnessing a lynching as follows: … 'Girls giggled as the flies fed on the blood that dripped from the Negro's nose.’ Lynchings were brutal, violent and savage public spectacles. As I said, they were advertised in newspapers, and postcards were sold. Souvenirs were made from victims’ remains.”

Feds Arrest Five Neo-Nazis for Threatening Journalists and Activists

Feb 27, 2020

Federal officials said Wednesday they’ve arrested five members of a far-right white nationalist group who were conspiring to threaten and intimidate journalists and activists around the United States. U.S. prosecutors say members of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen threatened black and Jewish journalists in Arizona and the Seattle area, while others harassed and threatened an unnamed reporter from ProPublica. That reporter is likely journalist A.C. Thompson, who’s written extensively about Atomwaffen and one of its leaders, John Cameron Denton, who was among those arrested on Wednesday.

ABC Suspends David Wright over Remarks Secretly Recorded by Far-Right Group

Feb 27, 2020

In media news, ABC has suspended veteran correspondent David Wright, after a far-right activist published secretly recorded video in which Wright complains about President Trump and corporate control of the mass media. In the seven-minute, highly edited video posted online by the group Project Veritas, Wright is overheard calling himself a socialist who favors national health insurance, and stating there are too many billionaires and too big a wealth gap. Wright goes on to say the “commercial imperative is incompatible with news,” and blasts ABC’s parent company Disney for cross-promoting its entertainment brands on shows like “Good Morning America.”

Project Veritas is a right-wing group that often sets up sting operations targeting Planned Parenthood, journalists and activists by recording covert videos — and releasing deceptively edited footage. The group’s founder, James O’Keefe, was convicted on a misdemeanor charge after he attempted to wiretap the phones of then-U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in 2010. In response to its latest sting operation, media critic Dan Froomkin called Project Veritas “loathsome” but said in this case the group had done the U.S. a favor. Froomkin wrote, “The group’s sneaky surveillance has uncovered someone speaking profound truths about how commercial pressures have skewed corporate media’s political-news values — not toward making things up, but toward turning it all into shallow, value-neutral entertainment.”

U.S. Holds Joint Military Exercises in Saudi Arabia as Yemen War Escalates

Feb 27, 2020

In Saudi Arabia, U.S. marines held joint military exercises Wednesday with their Saudi counterparts on the King Abdulaziz Naval Base. The wargames along the Persian Gulf were widely seen as a warning to Iran. The joint exercises came as Houthi rebels in northern Yemen launched a new offensive, following a recent increase in the number of U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen. More than 100,000 people have died, and far more have been displaced, since Saudi Arabia began its war on Yemen in 2015 with the support of the Obama administration.

Buttigieg and Klobuchar to Skip AIPAC Conference, Joining Warren and Sanders

Feb 27, 2020

In Philadelphia, seven Jewish activists were arrested Tuesday outside Joe Biden’s campaign headquarters, calling on the presidential contender to skip the annual conference of AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Members of the progressive Jewish organization If Not Now are demanding Biden reverse decades of support for Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza — first as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and later as vice president.

The protest came as the presidential campaigns of Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg said they would not attend this year’s AIPAC conference, following similar moves by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. In a statement, If Not Now co-founder Dani Moscovitch wrote, “Even moderates in the Democratic Party are now refusing to attend a conference by a right-wing lobby that allies with bigots just to shield the Israeli government from any consequences for denying the Palestinian people freedom and dignity.”

Billionaire former New York City mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg is scheduled to attend the AIPAC conference in March as a keynote speaker.

Trans Woman Murdered in Puerto Rico After Using McDonald’s Bathroom

Feb 27, 2020

In Puerto Rico, a transgender activist was shot and killed early Monday morning, just hours after someone called police to complain that she’d used a public restroom at a McDonald’s. Disturbing video posted to social media appears to show the final moment of Neulisa Luciano Ruiz’s life as her attackers followed her in a car before opening fire with at least 10 gunshots. Local police say they suspect four teenagers were involved in the murder. Ruiz was at least the second trans or gender nonconforming person murdered in the U.S. in 2020.

Trump Cancels NYC Climate Resiliency Study After Mocking Planned Sea Wall

Feb 27, 2020

In climate news, the Trump administration has abruptly halted a project to protect the New York City region from flooding due to rising seas and extreme weather, just weeks after President Trump mocked plans to build a sea wall to protect the city as “costly, foolish & environmentally unfriendly.” The move ends a $19 million project by the Army Corps of Engineers to research what steps would best protect residents of coastal New York and New Jersey, along with low-lying areas of New York Harbor.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Reads Green New Deal into Congressional Record

Feb 27, 2020

On Capitol Hill, New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez read the entirety of the Green New Deal into the Congressional Record Wednesday, one year after she first introduced the historic legislation.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “I realized that many of my colleagues have never even read the resolution that they’re speaking on. They haven’t opened a single word of it. And it’s actually only about — I have it right in front of me — just 14 pages long. So I have decided that since my colleagues, some of my colleagues across the aisle, could not for some reason read the resolution, that perhaps this hour would be spent best reading it to them.”

The Green New Deal seeks to bring the U.S. to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, while investing in public transit and federal jobs, fully transitioning the U.S. electricity grid off fossil fuels and codifying indigenous peoples’ rights to prior consent and approval for decisions that affect them.

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