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HeadlinesMarch 09, 2020

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Coronavirus Cases Surge Worldwide, But True Numbers in U.S. Unknown Due to Lack of Testing

Mar 09, 2020

We begin with news on the coronavirus pandemic. The death toll in Italy has soared to at least 366 — with over a third of the deaths recorded within the last day. Authorities have now put around 16 million people on lockdown in the north of the country as they attempt to contain the fast-growing pandemic. All schools nationwide have been ordered closed. Pope Francis delivered his Sunday sermon via live stream after the Vatican acknowledged its first case of coronavirus earlier in the week.

In Saudi Arabia, the east of the country has been put on lockdown, and schools nationwide have been closed. Iran has confirmed at least 49 new deaths on Sunday, bringing its death toll to just under 200. In Quanzhou, China, a hotel that was used as a coronavirus quarantine center collapsed Saturday, killing at least 10 people. It is not known what caused the collapse. Over 106,000 people have confirmed cases of the disease worldwide, with around 3,600 dead.

Here in the United States, there is growing outcry over the Trump administration’s mismanagement of the outbreak and the lack of access to tests. Known cases of coronavirus now exceed 500, with 22 recorded deaths. At least 19 of those deaths have been linked to the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington — considered ground zero of the U.S. outbreak on the West Coast. The facility said Saturday 90 out of 180 employees have symptoms of coronavirus.

States including Oregon, Washington, California, Maryland and New York have declared states of emergency. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo slammed the Centers for Disease Control for delays in responding to the outbreak and for not allowing private labs in New York state to test for the coronavirus. Over 100 cases have been identified in New York as of Sunday. Columbia University has canceled classes today and tomorrow after a “member of its community” was exposed to coronavirus. The University of Washington and other Washington-area schools have shifted to online classes. Stanford University in California has also, and Rice University in Texas has also canceled in-person classes.

The Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, said one of its attendees has tested positive for the disease, causing Senator Ted Cruz and Arizona Congressmember Paul Gosar to self-quarantine after interacting with the individual at the conference last month. Three attendees at the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., last week have tested positive for coronavirus. Eighteen thousand people attended the conference, including a number of lawmakers. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were among the speakers.

Meanwhile, low-wage and hourly workers are calling attention to the fact that they are being forced to work even when they are sick, which is directly counter to CDC recommendations for containing coronavirus. On Friday, workers from fast-food chain Chipotle walked out of a New York City restaurant in protest of the company’s practices, which they say puts them, their co-workers and customers at further risk. Millions of workers do not receive paid sick leave.

In Washington state, activists from the Shutdown Northwest Detention Center Coalition are calling for health inspections at the immigrant jail and the release of a plan to help prevent the spread of coronavirus among prisoners and to treat any infected individuals.

While touring the CDC Friday, Trump responded to a reporter question about letting passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship, which had been quarantined off the coast of San Francisco, disembark.

President Donald Trump: “I would rather — because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship. That wasn’t our fault.”

Twenty-one of the 3,600 people on board the cruise ship have been found to have coronavirus. But only 46 people have been tested. Passengers are set to start disembarking in Oakland today. Last week, Trump said at least a million tests would be available by the end of the week, but states around the country have been complaining of the lack of test kits, and the actual number of cases remains unknown due to insufficient testing.

In financial news, markets worldwide continued to tumble today. The collapse of an alliance between OPEC and Russia compounded the plunge, causing the worst one-day crash in crude prices in nearly 30 years.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders Rack Up Endorsements, Appeal to Voters Ahead of New Wave of Voting

Mar 09, 2020

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have received high-profile endorsements as voters in six states prepare to head to the polls Tuesday. New Jersey senator and former 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker just announced he is endorsing former Vice President Biden, and California senator and fellow former presidential candidate Kamala Harris also threw her support behind Biden Sunday.

Sen. Kamala Harris: “I believe in Joe. I really believe in him, and I have known him for a long time. One of the things that we need right now is we need a leader who really does care about the people and who can therefore unify the people. And I believe Joe can do that. I am supporting Joe because I believe that he is a man who has lived his life with great dignity. He is a public servant who has always worked for the best of who we are as a nation. And we need that right now.”

Civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson — who ran for president in 1984 and 1988 — endorsed Bernie Sanders Sunday. Sanders backed Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential bid and has said his own campaign was inspired by Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition. In a statement, Jackson said the needs of African Americans are “not moderate” and that “a people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path.” This is Reverend Jesse Jackson speaking at a Bernie Sanders rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sunday.

Rev. Jesse Jackson: “I stand with Bernie Sanders today because he stood with me. I stand with him because he’s never lost his taste for justice for the people. I stand with him because he stands with you.”

Michigan, which Jesse Jackson won during the 1988 primaries, is one of six states holding primaries or caucuses Tuesday; the others are Mississippi, Missouri, Idaho, North Dakota and Washington, which votes by mail-in ballot. Due to coronavirus, officials have urged voters not to lick their envelopes.

Bernie Sanders also campaigned in Flint, Ann Arbor and Detroit ahead of tomorrow’s vote. He attacked Joe Biden’s support for trade deals, including NAFTA and “permanent normal trade relations with China,” which he says have cost Americans millions of well-paid jobs and hurt unions. Also on Sunday, the group Justice Democrats, which helped propel Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to her electoral victory in 2018, endorsed Bernie Sanders.

Meanwhile, remarks by Joe Biden at a Missouri rally have come under scrutiny as some are raising questions about his possible mental decline. During a seven-minute address, he appears to struggle to finish a sentence, mistakenly saying he is seeking reelection.

Joe Biden: “Turn this primary from a campaign that’s about negative attacks into one that’s about what we’re for, because we cannot get reelect — we cannot win this reelection — excuse me, we can only reelect Donald Trump if in fact we get engaged in this circular firing squad here.”

Biden has spoken candidly about struggling with a stutter when he was young. But in an interview with Axios last year, Biden denied that such mistakes are due to his stutter, saying, “Look, the mistakes I make are mistakes.”

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will debate Sunday in Phoenix, Arizona, ahead of the state’s primary next Tuesday. The Sanders campaign has criticized the format of the CNN/Univision debate, which will see both candidates seated and includes taking pre-approved questions from audience members. Jeff Weaver, Sanders’s senior adviser, said, “Why does Joe Biden not want to stand toe-to-toe with Sen. Sanders on the debate stage March 15 and have an opportunity to defend his record and articulate his vision for the future?”

NYT: Erik Prince Recruited Spies to Infiltrate Democratic Campaign and Teachers’ Union

Mar 09, 2020

Erik Prince, the founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, helped recruit former spies to infiltrate and gather intelligence about a Democratic congressional campaign and the American Federation of Teachers. That’s according to an explosive new New York Times report that exposes previously unreported details about the ties between Prince and Project Veritas, a right-wing group that often sets up sting operations targeting journalists by recording covert videos. According to the Times, one former spy recruited by Erik Prince helped run a Project Veritas operation to secretly tape leaders in the Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers in 2017. The spy, named Richard Seddon, directed an undercover operative to gather and make public information that could damage the union. In another instance, in 2018, the same undercover operative infiltrated the congressional campaign of former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger, who ran a winning campaign for Congress representing Virginia as a Democrat. The campaign fired her after discovering her identity. We’ll have more on Erik Prince after headlines.

Tensions High in Lesbos as Asylum Center Burns Down, Greek Authorities Attack Refugees

Mar 09, 2020

In Lesbos, Greece, a Swiss-run center for refugees burned down Sunday as tensions continue to mount after Turkey announced it would no longer stop asylum seekers from crossing its border with Greece. Greek authorities again fired tear gas and water cannons at refugees as they approached the border. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is meeting with EU officials today and has called for help with the millions of refugees who have entered the country fleeing war in Syria.

Millions Take to Streets Around the World for International Women’s Day

Mar 09, 2020

Millions of women around the world took to the streets Sunday to mark International Women’s Day. In Mexico City, at least 60 people were wounded as riot police confronted protesters. Tens of thousands of women blocked the city’s main streets carrying signs that read “You’re killing us” and “We want to live without fear.” Others carried purple crosses with the names of victims of femicide. Today activists are calling for women across Mexico to stay out of public life and not participate in the economy as part of a national strike against gender violence.

In Chile, organizers estimate over 1 million women and allies took to the streets of the capital Santiago. In Colombia and Argentina, demands for legal abortion took center stage. In Guatemala, hundreds took to the streets to mark the third anniversary of the killing of 41 girls who were burnt alive for protesting sexual and physical violence at an orphanage. Protests also took place in the neighboring countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica.

Large protests also took place in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Spain, the U.S. and Pakistan. Marches in Turkey were met by police violence.
In Iraq, where mass anti-government protests have been taking place since last October, women marked the day at Baghdad’s Tahrir Square with red and white roses and purple protest banners.

On Saturday in New York City, the Mexican Collective of Independent Women led a protest and performance in honor of the thousands of femicide victims in Mexico. This is Araceli Salcedo Jiménez, whose daughter disappeared nearly eight years ago.

Araceli Salcedo Jiménez: “There are many women that are missing in the state of Veracruz. There are many women missing nationally, in Mexico. And nothing is done about it. Today, we face figures of 45,000 to 50,000 people missing in Mexico. And it’s not right that our president says ’I’m sorry’ and then forgets. I can’t forgive the person who took my daughter. I can’t forget about my daughter. That’s why today I am here in search of my little girl. No one had the right to take her from me.”

Guatemalan Woman Dies in ICE Custody

Mar 09, 2020

BuzzFeed News is reporting a 22-year-old Guatemalan woman died Sunday while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, at a Texas hospital. The cause of death is unknown, but the unnamed migrant had gallbladder surgery last month and was being treated for abdominal pain prior to her passing. This marks the eighth death in ICE custody in the 2020 fiscal year.

Trump Taps Rep. Mark Meadows as New Chief of Staff

Mar 09, 2020

President Trump announced he is replacing acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney with North Carolina Congressmember Mark Meadows. Meadows, a staunch Trump ally, will be Trump’s fourth chief of staff in just over three years. He previously led the House Freedom Caucus and has promoted the racist “birther” conspiracy theory about President Obama.

In other White House staffing news, Adam Kennedy, deputy communications director who has been with the administration since day one, is expected to leave his position later this week. He will reportedly be replaced by Julia Hahn, a former Breitbart writer.

House Dems Ask Court to Reconsider Enforcing Subpoena for Don McGahn

Mar 09, 2020

House Democrats requested a federal appeals court reconsider their recent ruling that allows former White House counsel Donald McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena seeking his testimony about possible obstruction of justice in the Mueller investigation. The ruling last month says House lawmakers cannot ask judges to force the White House to make McGahn available for questioning. Trump has barred top advisers from giving testimony, but House lawyers argued Friday that lawmakers might have to resort to arresting current and former White House officials for failing to respond to subpoenas.

Bernie Sanders Releases Reproductive Justice Plan

Mar 09, 2020

Bernie Sanders has unveiled his reproductive justice plan, which will provide universal reproductive healthcare to all Americans and address racial disparities in maternal and reproductive health. The proposal ties in to his Medicare for All plan and will work to combat the black maternal mortality crisis, protect and expand funding for Planned Parenthood, reverse Trump’s global gag rule and require all judicial nominees support Roe v. Wade as settled law.

Hachette Drops Woody Allen Memoir After Backlash from Staff, Ronan Farrow

Mar 09, 2020

Publisher Hachette announced Friday it will no longer publish Woody Allen’s memoir, following major backlash to the news. On Thursday, at least 75 Hachette employees walked out of work in protest; earlier in the week, Ronan Farrow said he was cutting ties with the publisher, which released his book “Catch and Kill” last year, over the decision. Ronan Farrow said Hachette did not fact-check the book with his sister Dylan Farrow, who has accused Woody Allen of sexually abusing her as a child when he was her adoptive father — allegations Allen has denied.

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