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A federal judge has blocked a Trump rule that would have thrown 700,000 people off of food stamps, known as SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The rule would have required affected recipients to work at least 20 hours a week in order to qualify for food stamps beyond the first three months. U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell wrote, “[A]s a global pandemic poses widespread health risks, guaranteeing that government officials at both the federal and state levels have the flexibility to address the nutritional needs of residents and ensure their well-being through programs like SNAP, is essential.”
In immigration news, New York City Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez confronted an ICE agent at LaGuardia Airport who helped transport six immigrant children from Texas to New York amid the pandemic. The congressmember intervened after immigrant rights group New Sanctuary Coalition sounded the alarm on the transportation of the minors.
Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off in their first one-on-one debate Sunday. The debate took place in CNN’s studio in Washington, D.C., with no live audience. It was originally scheduled to take place in Arizona ahead of the state’s primary on Tuesday but was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. The candidates greeted each other with an elbow bump as they took the stage, and sparred over healthcare, climate change, campaign funding, Social Security, their past voting records and how best to fight pandemics like the coronavirus.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked the candidates about whether a revolution was the best path forward for the country.
Joe Biden: “We have problems we have to solve now. Now. What’s a revolution going to do? Disrupt everything in the meantime? Look, Bernie talks about — excuse me, the senator talks about his Medicare for All, and he still hasn’t told you how he’s going to ever get it passed. He hasn’t told you how, in fact, there’s any possibility of that happening. He hasn’t told you how much it’s going to cost. He hasn’t told you how it’s going to apply. It doesn’t kick in for four years even after it passes. If we want a revolution, let’s act now. Pass the Biden healthcare plan, which takes Obamacare, restores all the cuts made to it, subsidizes further, provides for lower drug prices, makes sure that there’s no hidden bills, makes sure that we invest what I want to invest, $50 billion in dealing with underlying diseases that are of great consequence — diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer — makes sure that we have a Medicare option that’s in a public option providing Medicare for us. We can do that now. I can get that passed.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “If you want to create an economy that works for all, not just the few, if you want to guarantee quality healthcare to all, not make $100 billion in profit for the healthcare industry, you know what you need? You need to take on Wall Street. You need to take on the drug companies and the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry. You don’t take campaign contributions from them. You take them on and create an economy that works for all.”
Four states are set to vote Tuesday. Ohio, Arizona, Florida and Illinois have all said they plan to go ahead with their primaries despite the pandemic. Louisiana and Georgia have postponed their states’ primaries as part of efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Puerto Rico also said it plans to postpone its primary to next month. In Arizona, officials in Maricopa County — by far the largest county in the state, making up over half of Arizona’s population — announced over one-third of polling stations will be closed due to concerns related to COVID-19. We’ll have more on last night’s debate and the presidential primaries after headlines.
In Iraq, rockets struck a base housing U.S. troops Saturday, following U.S. airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia groups last week that Iraqi authorities say killed six people. The U.S. said the attacks last week were in retaliation for a rocket attack that killed two U.S. soldiers and a British Army medic two days earlier. President Barham Salih warned such attacks from the U.S. could cause Iraq to descend into a failed state and hand power to the Islamic State.
In Brazil, the two men accused of assassinating Rio de Janeiro councilmember and activist Marielle Franco will face a jury trial. A Brazilian judge also decided former military police officers Ronnie Lessa and Élcio Queiroz will be tried for the killing of Franco’s driver and the attempted killing of a former Franco aide who were in the car at the time of the ambush. In February, another one of the hitmen suspected of being involved was killed by police. Marielle Franco was assassinated just over two years ago. She was a vocal black LGBTQ rights activist and a longtime critic of police brutality.
Amid the national emergency over coronavirus, President Trump tweeted Sunday he is considering pardoning former national security adviser Michael Flynn. “So now it is reported that, after destroying his life & the life of his wonderful family (and many others also), the FBI, working in conjunction with the Justice Department, has 'lost' the records of General Michael Flynn,” Trump said. “How convenient. I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!” It’s unclear what “records” Trump was referring to. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
In Los Angeles, a group of unhoused mothers is trying to take over a vacant house and demanding the local government use all publicly owned vacant homes, libraries, recreation centers and other properties to house people immediately. This comes as the coronavirus is putting unhoused people and other vulnerable communities at a higher risk of infection.
In January, another group of unhoused moms in the Bay Area, known as Moms 4 Housing, were given an offer to purchase the property in Oakland they occupied for months with their children. Click here for our interviews with Oakland’s Moms 4 Housing.