Senator Elizabeth Warren has suspended her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, leaving the race down to two older white men: former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. Warren broke the news in a call with her campaign staff Thursday before speaking to reporters outside her home in Cambridge.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “I was told at the beginning of this whole undertaking that there are two lanes — a progressive lane that Bernie Sanders is the incumbent for and a moderate lane that Joe Biden is the incumbent for — and there’s no room for anyone else in this. I thought that wasn’t right. But evidently I was wrong.”
Reporter: “Will you be making an endorsement today? We know that you spoke with both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders yesterday.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Not today. Not today. I need some space around this and want to take a little time to think a little more.”
Supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders hope Warren will throw her support behind their candidate in order to form a united “progressive front” to take on former Vice President Joe Biden. Hawaii Congressmember Tulsi Gabbard remains in the race. We’ll have more on Senator Warren’s exit from the race after headlines.
In more campaign news, there are increased concerns over Senator Sanders’s safety, after a man unfurled a Nazi flag Thursday night at a Sanders event in Phoenix, Arizona. Bystanders ripped the swastika from the man before security guards escorted him from the arena. Sanders is vying to become the country’s first Jewish president. Later in the evening, protesters waving flags bearing Trump’s name were also escorted from the Sanders rally after trying to disrupt the event.
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib province Thursday, following six-hour talks at the Kremlin. A Russian-backed Syrian offensive against Turkish-backed rebels that began in December has killed more than 300 civilians and displaced nearly 1 million people. Under terms of the ceasefire, Turkey and Russia will create a secure corridor for Idlib residents to return to their homes.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli troops on Thursday bulldozed the homes of two Palestinian families whose relatives are blamed for an attack last year that killed an Israeli citizen. The home demolitions sparked a protest by Palestinians who threw stones at Israeli soldiers. The soldiers responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Israel’s military called the demolitions a “deterrence” aimed at preventing terrorism. Human rights groups condemned them as collective punishment and part of Israel’s campaign to illegally annex Palestinian land for Israeli settlements.
In Israel, opposition groups are uniting in a bid to end Benjamin Netanyahu’s long-running career as prime minister, after Israel’s third election in less than a year failed to produce a clear winner. With officials still counting the last of the votes from Monday’s election, Netanyahu’s coalition remains three seats shy of the majority needed to form a government. In a televised address this week, Netanyahu accused his main opponent, Benny Gantz, of “linking up with terror supporters,” after Gantz’s Blue and White alliance partnered with a coalition of Arab-majority parties. Gantz could soon become prime minister, after Israel’s former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said his far-right ultra-nationalist party would join Gantz’s coalition. Gantz is a former Israeli general whose campaign ads have boasted about Palestinian body counts and bombing Gaza back to the “stone ages.” Both Gantz and Netanyahu support Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, which are illegal under international law. This is Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reacting to Monday’s election.
Saeb Erekat: “From the exit polls we have just seen, it’s obvious that annexation, settlements, apartheid won the elections. The whole election campaign was about annexation of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, the settlements, Jerusalem, subjecting the Palestinian people to — further and deeper to the Israeli occupation, denying them the rights of determination.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu is set to face trial March 17 on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
In Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday condemned a decision by the International Criminal Court to probe alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan by U.S. troops and the CIA. Speaking from the State Department, Pompeo said the United States would take steps to prevent its citizens from standing trial at The Hague.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “This is a truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body. It is all the more reckless for this ruling to come just days after the United States signed a historic peace deal on Afghanistan, which is the best chance for peace in a generation. … The United States is not a party to the ICC, and we will take all necessary measures to protect our citizens from this renegade, unlawful so-called court.”
ICC prosecutors say they have ample evidence that U.S. forces in Afghanistan “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence.” The ICC is also probing war crimes committed by U.S.-backed Afghan forces and the Taliban.
Human Rights Watch welcomed the ICC’s ruling, writing in a statement, “The ICC Appeals Chamber’s decision to greenlight an investigation of brutal crimes in Afghanistan despite extreme pressure reaffirms the court’s essential role for victims when all other doors to justice are closed.”
In immigration news, 150 women from Cameroon who have been imprisoned for months in a for-profit ICE detention center in Texas have been transferred to other remote immigration jails, in apparent retaliation for their protests over indefinite detention and dangerous conditions.
In a letter sent to the advocacy group Grassroots Leadership last month headlined “A Cry for Help,” the Cameroonian women complained of medical neglect at the T. Don Hutto immigration jail, writing, “Some of our sisters are sick and not being well treated. Others are running mad due to trauma and stress. … The medical department is very rude to us, they tell us we’re pretending to be sick even when someone is in serious pain.”
The Cameroonian asylum seekers also say they’re being discriminated against, writing, “Almost all the white women we came in with and even others who came after us have been released on parole and bond but we’ve been denied both parole and bond.” Advocates fear the women now face possible deportation in retaliation for speaking out against the conditions in T. Don Hutto. The facility has for years been plagued by allegations of abuse.
In Alabama, condemned prisoner Nathaniel Woods offered no final words Thursday night as prison officials strapped him to a gurney and injected a lethal cocktail of drugs into his body. Witnesses say Woods showed labored breathing and jerked against his restraints before he fell still and was declared dead at 9 p.m. local time. Woods was convicted in the 2004 murder of three Birmingham police officers and went to the death chamber professing his innocence. His claims were backed by Kerry Spencer, another death row prisoner convicted in the case who says Woods was in the wrong place at the wrong time and had nothing to do with the crime.
Republican Governor Kay Ivey ordered Woods’s execution even though more than 100,000 people signed a petition demanding she stop it. The U.S. Supreme Court briefly stayed the execution Thursday evening but lifted the order without comment after two-and-a-half hours. Martin Luther King III responded on Twitter, writing, “In the case of Nathaniel Woods, the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Governor of the State of Alabama are reprehensible, and have potentially contributed to an irreversible injustice. It makes a mockery of justice and constitutional guarantees to a fair trial.” Later in the broadcast, we’ll speak with Adam Cohen, author of “Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America.”