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The Latest News about Government and Politics

    Members of Nevada’s most politically powerful labor group were warned by union leaders that Bernie Sanders’ plan would doom their prized health care, but they voted for him anyway. The casino workers of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 are powerful enough in Nevada Democratic politics that special caucus sites are set up in Las Vegas Strip casinos to accommodate them. In at least four of those seven caucus sites Saturday, workers threw their support behind Sanders. The results are a warning sign to labor unions that any attempt to influence the primary risks being ignored, and a harbinger of Sanders' strength with working-class voters, Latinos and labor rank and file — all voters that will be critical in California’s delegate-rich primary early next month. Morena Del Cid, a Culinary Union member and a porter at the Bellagio casino-resort, said she voted for Sanders because she thinks “we need a lot of change in this country.' She said that she knows Joe Biden had ties to her union’s leaders, but she felt Biden and President Barack Obama’s administration didn’t get enough done on immigration and gun control after eight years in power. “We need something different. Somebody different. Somebody strong to put out Donald Trump,” she said. Culinary, like its parent union Unite Here, officially decided not to endorse, joining a number of national unions making a similar calculation to stay on the sidelines of a still-crowded primary and avoid causing dissension among their ranks. The 60,000-member Culinary Union didn’t stay totally neutral, however, sending out leaflets to members in recent weeks that said candidates pushing for a government-run insurance system under “Medicare for All” would force “millions of hard-working people to give up their healthcare” and create “unnecessary division between workers, and will give us four more years of Trump.' One leaflet specifically said Sanders’ would “end Culinary healthcare.” Angel Lazcano, a 46-year-old busperson at the Aria and a Culinary Union member, didn’t heed the warnings. Lazcano cited Medicare for All as one of the things that drew him to Sanders. With Medicare for All, Lazcano said, 'everybody can choose their own doctors instead of going through the insurance and taking only the doctors that use the insurance.” Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Culinary’s leader, pushed back against the notion that the union’s members failure to heed the warnings about Medicare for All is a sign of weakness, arguing that despite the leaflets, the union wasn’t campaigning against any candidate. “We want the members to have the right information, but we know some members, they agree with that, some members don’t agree with that,” Argüello-Kline said. Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at the University of California Santa Barbara, said that like all other voters, laborers make decisions based on values. “Unionists are not green eyeshades accountants who say, ‘How is this going to help me?’” he said One of those values is fighting for all working people, said Mark Dimonstein, president of the American Post Workers, which backs Sanders. “Unions are at our best not just for the workers we represent but for the betterment of the working class in general,” he said. Dimonstein said his members’ federal health benefits are better than many workers’ plans but there is still dissatisfaction as rising premiums keep cutting into workers’ pay checks. “Postal workers would be far better off with Medicare for All,” he said Jody Domineck, a nurse in Las Vegas and executive board member with a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union, said that though many union members enjoy good insurance, it’s something that they have to continually fight for and questioned why employers use as a bargaining chip. “Even though we do have good benefits, they are threatened continually. And I feel like if we had an overall plan or some other access, that wouldn’t be a tool that could be used against us. Domineck said she doesn’t know if Medicare for All is the best plan but she’s open to it. She voted for Elizabeth Warren, who also has proposed a Medicare for All plan. Whoever becomes the Democratic nominee, including Sanders, Argüello-Kline said Sunday that the Culinary Union plans to put 100 percent of its effort behind the nominee in service of a broader goal — defeating Donald Trump. ___ Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper and Nicholas Riccardi in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
  • Bernie Sanders’ commanding Nevada caucus victory made him a top target for his Democratic rivals and a growing source of anxiety for establishment Democrats worried that the nomination of a self-avowed democratic socialist could cost the party the White House. Sanders' win solidified his front-runner status in the crowded field as the race turns to Saturday's presidential primary in South Carolina, where his moderate opponents will scramble to try to blunt the Vermont senator's momentum. Just three days later after that contest, 14 states vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, when one-third of the delegates are awarded. A strong showing in those states could put Sanders on a glide path to the nomination against Republican President Donald Trump. That prospect has amplified concerns for Democrats who believe Sanders' liberal policies will drive away moderate and independent voters in the general election in November. South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the top-ranking black leader in Congress, warned of added risk for Democrats if Sanders was the nominee. “I think it would be a real burden for us in these states or congressional districts that we have to do well in,' Clyburn told “This Week” on ABC. He noted that congressional districts that helped Democrats win back the House are moderate and conservative. 'In those districts, it's going to be tough to hold on to these jobs if you have to make the case for accepting a self-proclaimed democratic socialist,” Clyburn said. Sanders' campaign argue the candidate will bring in new voters — largely progressives, young people and voters of color — who have been alienated by politics. He successfully relied on that coalition Saturday to dominate his Democratic rivals in Nevada, pulling far ahead of second-place finisher former Vice President Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who came in third. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren landed in fourth, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer were still in a close race for fifth on Sunday. “We are bringing our people together,' Sanders said Saturday night. “In Nevada we have just brought together a multigenerational, multiracial coalition which is not only going to win in Nevada, it’s going to sweep this country.” Sanders' new status was clear as both Buttigieg and Biden went after him harder than they have before. In his speech to supporters in Las Vegas, Buttigieg denounced Sanders in his sharpest terms yet, changing that the senator was calling for an “inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats.” 'Not to mention most Americans,” Buttigieg said. He said Sanders has shown a “willingness to ignore or dismiss, or even attack the very Democrats that we absolutely must send to Capitol Hill.' Biden, whose struggling campaign got only a slight boost in Nevada, took an indirect swipe both billionaire candidate Mike Bloomberg and Sanders, who is an independent and not a member of the party he's seeking to represent in November. “I ain’t a socialist. I’m not a plutocrat. I’m a Democrat,' Biden told supporters. But some Democrats are worried that the new focus on Sanders may be too little, too late. Democratic strategist James Carville bemoaned the fact that until recently, most of Sanders' opponents have largely failed to attack Sanders or draw scrutiny to his record. “We gotta hope that some of these candidates develop political skills quickly,” he said. If Sanders is the nominee, Carville said, “the risk in losing the election is deep and profound.” He added: “We just gotta pray.” Indeed, Trump gloated on social media, continuing his weekslong push to sow discord between Sanders and his Democratic rivals. “Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada. Biden & the rest look weak,” Trump tweeted. “Congratulations Bernie, & don’t let them take it away from you!” All the Democratic candidates are pledging to stay in the race through South Carolina, and some candidates were already campaigning Sunday in Super Tuesday states. Nevada's caucuses were the first chance for White House hopefuls to demonstrate appeal to a diverse group of voters in a state far more representative of the country as a whole than Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders won by rallying his fiercely loyal base and tapping into support from the state's large Latino community. In a show of confidence, Sanders left Nevada on Saturday for Texas, which offers one of the biggest delegate troves in just 10 days on Super Tuesday. Saturday's win built on his victory earlier this month in the New Hampshire primary. He essentially tied for first place in the Iowa caucuses with Buttigieg, who has sought to position himself as an ideological counter to Sanders’ unabashedly progressive politics. But for all the energy and attention devoted to the first three states, they award only a tiny fraction of the delegates needed to capture the nomination. After South Carolina, the contest becomes national in scope, putting a premium on candidates who have the resources to compete in states as large as California and Texas. That when Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who dominated the political conversation this week after a poor debate-stage debut, intends to become a factor after skipping the first four contests. The stakes were high for Nevada Democrats to avoid a repeat of the chaos in the still-unresolved Iowa caucuses, and it appeared Saturday’s contest was largely successful. Nevada Democrats sought to minimize problems by creating multiple redundancies in their reporting system, relying on results called in by phone, a paper worksheet filled out by caucus organizers, a photo of that worksheet sent in by text message and electronic results captured with a Google form. Buttigieg’s campaign is raising questions about the results, citing more than 200 reports of problems allocating votes. It wants the state party to disclose more details of the votes and address concerns before releasing final results. But the party said it was not planning to offer a more detailed voting breakdown and appeared to be inviting the campaign to follow recount rules if it wanted to challenge the results.
  • Pete Buttigieg’s campaign has questioned his third-place finish in Nevada’s caucuses and called for the state’s Democratic party to release a more detailed breakdown of votes and address reports of more than 200 problems allocating votes in Saturday’s caucuses. But the Nevada State Democratic Party is suggesting that Buttigieg's campaign seek a recount if it wants to challenge results. In a letter sent to the state party late Saturday night and provided to The Associated Press on Sunday, the Buttigieg campaign said the process of integrating four days of early voting into in-person caucuses held Saturday was “plagued with errors and inconsistencies.” The campaign also said it received reports that volunteers running caucuses did not appear to follow rules that could have allowed candidates to pick up more support on a second round of voting. Bernie Sanders won Nevada’s caucuses, with Joe Biden a distant second and Buttigieg in third. “Currently our data shows that this is a razor-thin margin for second place in Nevada, and due to irregularities and a number of unresolved questions we have raised with the Nevada Democratic Party, it’s unclear what the final results will be,” Buttigieg’s deputy campaign manager Hari Sevugan said in a statement. Nearly 75,000 people cast votes during four days of early caucus voting — almost as many Democrats who participated in Nevada’s 2016 caucuses. Their votes, cast at sites anywhere in the county, had to be routed by the party back to the voter’s home precinct and added to the in-person votes cast Saturday by their neighbors. Buttigieg’s campaign said it received more than 200 reports of problems merging the early votes, including cases where the early votes weren’t used, were incorrectly read or the wrong early vote data matching another precinct was used to calculate whether a candidate had enough support. The claim matches a Biden campaign precinct captain who told The Associated Press he witnessed two precincts on Saturday where caucus organizers announced midway through that they had switched the vote numbers for the precincts, before switching them back and forth at least four times. The Buttigieg campaign called for the party to release more detail of the votes, including a breakdown of early votes cast by home precincts. Nevada Democratic Party spokeswoman Molly Forgey said the party is continuing to verify and report results and is not going to offer a more detailed breakdown than it already planned to provide. “As laid out in our recount guidance, there is a formal method for requesting a challenge of results,” Forgey said. The party’s rules say any request for a recount must be filed by 5 p.m. Monday. The Buttigieg campaign did not immediately have a comment on whether it intended to seek a recount.
  • President Donald Trump said Sunday he’s ready to sign a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan if a temporary truce holds in America's longest war. “Time to come home,” he said. “They want to stop. You know, they've been fighting a long time. They're tough people. We're tough people,' Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a trip to India. 'But after 19 years, that's a long time.'' The two sides earlier this month announced the truce, which took effect last Friday and set the stage for a broader deal aimed at ending 18 years of war in Afghanistan and bringing U.S. troops home. If the truce proves a success, it will be followed by the signing of the peace accord on Saturday, wrapping up the United States' longest-running conflict and fulfilling one of Trump's chief campaign promises. “We think they want to make a deal. We want to make a deal. I think it's going to work out. We’ll see,” Trump said. For the Taliban, the successful completion of the truce and Afghanistan peace talks would give the militants a shot at international legitimacy, which they lacked at the time they ran the country and gave Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida associates safe haven. U.S. officials have noted the possibility that “spoilers” uninterested in peace talks could disrupt the truce. Determining who is responsible for potential attacks during the seven days will therefore be critical. On Sunday, Trump expressed cautious optimism about reaching a peace deal. “You know we have a certain period of nonviolence. It’s been holding up, it’s a day and a half so we’ll see what happens. But people want to make a deal, and I think the Taliban wants to make a deal too, they're tired of fighting.’’ There are more than 12,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
  • In the rush to replace insecure, unreliable electronic voting machines after Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, state and local officials have scrambled to acquire more trustworthy equipment for this year’s election, when U.S. intelligence agencies fear even worse problems. But instead of choosing simple, hand-marked paper ballots that are most resistant to tampering because paper cannot be hacked, many are opting for pricier technology that computer security experts consider almost as risky as earlier discredited electronic systems. Called ballot-marking devices, the machines have touchscreens for registering voter choice. Unlike touchscreen-only machines, they print out paper records that are scanned by optical readers. South Carolina voters will use them in Saturday’s primary. The most pricey solution available, they are at least twice as expensive as the hand-marked paper ballot option. They have been vigorously promoted by the three voting equipment vendors that control 88 percent of the U.S. market. Some of the most popular ballot-marking machines, made by industry leaders Election Systems & Software and Dominion Voting Systems, register votes in bar codes that the human eye cannot decipher. That’s a problem, researchers say: Voters could end up with printouts that accurately spell out the names of the candidates they picked, but, because of a hack, the bar codes do not reflect those choices. Because the bar codes are what’s tabulated, voters would never know that their ballots benefited another candidate. Even on machines that do not use bar codes, voters may not notice if a hack or programming error mangled their choices. A University of Michigan study determined that only 7 percent of participants in a mock election notified poll workers when the names on their printed receipts did not match the candidates they voted for. ES&S rejects those scenarios. Spokeswoman Katina Granger said the company’s ballot-marking machines’ accuracy and security “have been proven through thousands of hours of testing and tens of thousands of successful elections.” Dominion declined to comment for this story. Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. voters will be using ballot-marking machines this year, compared with less than 2% in 2018, according to Verified Voting, which tracks voting technology. Pivotal counties in the crucial states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina have bought ballot-marking machines. So have counties in much of Texas, as well as California’s Los Angeles County and all of Georgia, Delaware and South Carolina. The machines’ certification has often been streamlined in the rush to get machines in place for presidential primaries. Ballot-marking devices were not conceived as primary vote-casting tools but as accessible options for people with disabilities. Critics see them as vulnerable to hacking. At last year’s DefCon hacker convention in Las Vegas, it took tinkerers at the ‘Voting Village’ not even eight hours to hack two older ballot-marking devices. Tampering aside, some of the newer ballot-marking machines have stumbled badly in actual votes. That happened most spectacularly in November when ES&S’s top-of-the-line ExpressVote XL debuted in a Pennsylvania county. Even without technical troubles, the new machines can lead to longer lines, potentially reducing turnout. Voters need more time to cast ballots and the machine’s high costs have prompted election officials to limit how many they purchase. “There are a huge number of reasons to reject today's ballot-marking devices — except for limited use as assistive devices for those unable to mark a paper ballot themselves,” says Doug Jones, a University of Iowa computer scientist who co-authored the voting technology history “Broken Ballots.” ‘ But election officials see ballot-marking devices as improvements over paperless touchscreens, which were used by 27 percent of voters in 2018. They like them because the touchscreens are familiar to voters, looking and feeling like what they have been using for nearly two decades, and officials can use one voting method for everyone. Michael Anderson, elections director for Pennsylvania’s Lebanon County, said “voters want it.” The county offers voters both machine- and hand-marked ballots. 'When we give them a paper ballot, the very first thing they say to us is, ‘We’re going back in time,’” he said. New York State election commission co-chair Douglas Kellner was an early critic of paperless electronic voting machines. But he is confident in a ballot-marking device, the ImageCast Evolution by Dominion, certified for use in his state. He said safeguards built into the machines and security protocols make a hack of the Image Evolution “extraordinarily unlikely.” But Jones is among experts who think today’s ballot-marking devices undermine the very idea of retaining a paper record that can be used in audits and recounts. It’s an idea supported by a 2018 National Academies of Sciences report that favors hand-marked paper ballots tallied by optical scanners. Some 70 percent of U.S. voters used them in the past two presidential elections and will do so again in November. One state, Colorado, is banning bar codes from ballot-marking voting machines beginning in 2021. Election administrators who reject hand-marked paper ballots as antiquated, inconvenient or unwieldy have few options beyond ballot-marking devices. That’s because the $300 million voting equipment and services industry is so insular and entrenched. The industry faces virtually no federal regulation even though election technology was designated critical infrastructure in January 2017. Federal certification guidelines for voting machine design are 15 years old and voluntary. The leading vendors have resisted publicly disclosing third-party penetration testing of their systems. ”It’s a self-reinforcing system that keeps it frozen in a place in the past,” said Eddie Perez, a former product development director for Hart InterCivic, the No. 3 voting equipment company, now with the OSET Institute, a nonprofit that promotes reliable voting solutions. “They don’t want to make any changes in the equipment unless they absolutely have to.” The Republican-controlled Senate has refused to take up bills that would, among other things, require a voter-verifiable paper trail and require bulletproof postelection audits. Republicans say the federal government should not impinge on states’ authority to oversee elections. Northampton County, on Pennsylvania’s eastern edge, mirrored the state’s choice in 2016 by voting for Donald Trump after twice choosing Barack Obama. Last Election Day, it became ground zero in the debate over ballot-marking devices. The county’s new ExpressVote XLs failed doubly. First, a programming misconfiguration prevented votes cast for one of three candidates in a judge’s race from registering in the bar codes used to count the vote. Only absentee ballot votes registered for the candidate, said the county executive, Lamont McClure. The other problem was miscalibrated touchscreens, which can “flip” votes or simply make it difficult to vote for one’s desired candidate due to faulty screen alignment. They were on about one-third of the county’s 320 machines, which cost taxpayers $8,250 each. One poll judge called the touch screens “garbage.” Some voters, in emails obtained by the AP in a public records request, said their votes were assigned to the wrong candidates. Others worried about long lines in future elections. Voters require triple the time on average to navigate ES&S ballot-marking machines compared to filling out hand-marked ballots and running them through scanners, according to state certification documents. ES&S said its employees had flubbed the programming and failed to perform adequate preelection testing of the machines or adequately train election workers, which would have caught the errors. Election commissioners were livid, but unable to return the machines for a refund because they are appointees. “I feel like I’ve been played,” commissioner Maudeania Hornik said at a December meeting with ES&S representatives. She later told the AP she had voted for the devices believing they would be more convenient than hand-marked paper ballots, especially for seniors. “What we worry is, what happens the next time if there's a programming bug — or a hack or whatever — and it's done in a way that's not obvious?' said Daniel Lopresti, a commissioner and Lehigh University computer scientist. ES&S election equipment has failed elsewhere. Flawed software in ballot-marking devices delayed the vote count by 13 hours in Kansas’ largest county during the August 2018 gubernatorial primary. Another Johnson County, this one in Indiana, scrapped the company’s computerized voter check-in system after Election Day errors that same year caused long lines. “I don’t know that we’ve ever seen an election computer — a voting computer — whose software was done to a high standard,” said Duncan Buell, a University of South Carolina computer scientist who has found errors in results produced by ES&S electronic voting machines. Voting integrity activists have sued, seeking to prevent the further use in Pennsylvania of the ExpressVote XL. Grassroots organizations including Common Cause are fighting to prevent their certification in New York State. ES&S defends the machine. In a Dec. 12 filing in a Pennsylvania lawsuit, company executive Dean Baumer said the ExpressVote XL had never been compromised and said breaches of the machine “are a practical impossibility.” ES&S lobbied hard in Pennsylvania for the ExpressVote XL, though not always legally. After ES&S won a $29 million contract in Philadelphia last year in a hasty procurement, that city’s controller did some digging. She determined that ES&S’ vice president of finance had failed to disclose, in a mandatory campaign contribution form, activities of consultants who spent more than $400,000, including making campaign contributions to two commissioners involved in awarding the contract. ES&S agreed to pay a record $2.9 million penalty as a result. It said the executive’s failure to disclose was “inadvertent.” The Philadelphia episode contradicts claims by ES&S officials, including by CEO Tom Burt in Jan. 8 testimony to a congressional committee, that the company does not make campaign contributions. Public records show ES&S contributed $25,000 from 2014-2016 to the Republican State Leadership Committee which seeks GOP control of state legislatures. ES&S has also paid for trips to Las Vegas of an “advisory board” of top elections officials, including from South Carolina, New York City and Dallas County, Texas, according to records shared with the AP from a Freedom of Information request. Philadelphia paid more than twice as much for its ExpressVote XL machines per voter ($27) as what Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, disbursed ($12) for hand-marked paper ballots and scanners — plus ballot-markers for the disabled — from the same vendor. Allegheny County’s elections board rejected ballot-marking devices as too risky for all but disabled voters. Its vice chair, state judge Kathryn Hens-Greco, regretted during a September hearing having to award ES&S the county’s business at all given its behavior in Philadelphia and elsewhere. But no other vendor offered a hand-marked option with enough ballot-configuration flexibility for the county’s 130 municipalities. While cybersecurity risks can’t be eliminated, Hens-Greco said, the county would at least have “the ability to recover” from any mischief: a paper trail of hand-marked ballots.
  • The Latest on presidential campaign developments (all times local): 8:40 p.m. Former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, who was a major supporter of Bernie Sanders in 2016, is endorsing the Vermont senator for president. The spiritual guru, bestselling author and Texas native made the announcement Sunday at a rally in Austin. It was the last of four rallies Sanders held in Texas this weekend coming off his victory in the Nevada caucus, cementing his status as the front-runner in the Democratic field. 'It's time for us to take a stand with Bernie,' Williamson said. 'It's our turn now.' Williamson ended her campaign in January, saying at the time she did not want to make it tougher for a progressive to win. She had barely registered in the polls and struggled in fundraising since launching her bid for president last January. 7:50 p.m. Joe Biden says he’s concerned Democrats would lose ground in the House and Senate with Bernie Sanders as the party’s nominee. The former Vice President said on MSNBC’s “Kasie DC” show in Charleston on Sunday night that he wants whoever is the eventual party nominee to beat President Donald Trump in November. Biden also said he’s confident he’ll bring home a victory in the upcoming South Carolina primary despite Sanders’ recent primary and caucus successes and the “about 6 zillion dollars.” California billionaire Tom Steyer has spent heavily on his own campaign in the state. Asked about former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to exit the 2016 GOP primary contest in the interest of hoping Republicans could coalesce around a candidate who wasn’t Trump, Biden said he agreed with Walker’s decision. But he felt his own campaign was strong heading into South Carolina and, to beyond, Super Tuesday. 7:25 p.m. Former Sen. Harry Reid says the Democratic Party should eliminate caucuses. Reid made the statement the day after his home state of Nevada’s caucus. Final results had still not been tallied but it went smoother than Iowa where irregularities in the vote count made it impossible to determine a winner. Reid said he believes “it’s time for the Democratic Party to move to primaries everywhere.” Caucuses have been criticized for being inaccessible to the majority of voters, requiring a multi-hour commitment. Reid also called for Nevada to be the first state to select a nominee. It is more racially diverse than the two states now before it, overwhelmingly white New Hampshire and Iowa. 7:10 p.m. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren continued to slam her favorite target, former New York Mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg, but held back from criticizing front-runner Bernie Sanders other than questioning his priorities on Senate procedure. Speaking to reporters in Denver, Warren wouldn’t say whether a Sanders nomination would be a risk for the Democratic Party. “I think that Michael Bloomberg is the riskiest candidate standing on that stage because of his history of hiding his taxes, his history of harassment of women and his history of defending racist policies,” Warren said in response to the question about Sanders. She only mentioned Sanders’ name once, when she noted that they differ on the filibuster -- Warren wants to abolish it, Sanders does not. “I think I’m the least risky candidate,” she added, citing her progressive values and record of results. One woman in the audience asked Warren to explain the benefits of democratic socialism. Warren said: “you’ve got the wrong candidate.” Warren said she was not a socialist. “I believe in markets,” she said, adding quickly “markets without rules are theft.” 5:20 p.m. As he campaigned in suburban Virginia Sunday, Pete Buttigieg is continuing his attacks against Bernie Sanders as too divisive. Speaking to a crowd of thousands gathered at a high school football field, Buttigieg said that while “I respect my friend, Senator Sanders,” the way to build a winning coalition “is to call people into our tent, not to call them names online.” Sanders has come under fire in recent weeks for the controversial conduct of some of his massive online following, after supporters of his launched misogynistic attacks against leaders of a Nevada union. Sanders has denounced their behavior. Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Ind., went on to say that to win the presidency, Democrats need a nominee who will focus on “mobilizing, not polarizing the American majority.” And he pointed to concerns some Democrats have expressed that Sanders would hurt candidates down-ballot if he were at the top of the ticket. The nominee, Buttigieg said, must understand “that we dare not treat the presidency like it’s the only office that matters,” and Democrats need to choose someone who can “not just take back the White House, but keep the House in the right hands and send (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell packing.” 3:05 p.m. Bernie Sanders is predicting victory in Texas not only in the Democratic primary but in November’s general election. The Vermont senator adopted the tone of a candidate who has already secured the nomination before thousands of cheering supporters who filled a basketball arena on the campus of the University of Houston on Sunday. Referring to supporters of President Donald Trump, Sanders said, “Don’t tell anybody because these folks get very agitated and nervous” before continuing, “We are going to win here.” Sanders meant during the primary’s “Super Tuesday” on March 3, but also said “in November we’re going to defeat Trump here.” Sanders said Texas “maybe more than any other state has the possibility of transforming this country” since “on television, they say Texas is a conservative state, it’s a red state. I don’t believe it for a minute.” The senator said if working class, black and Hispanics Texans “come out to vote, we’re going to win.” He also called Trump “a bully” and a “vindictive person who can’t even get along with the people who he appoints.” ___ 2:30 p.m. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says he isn’t worried about billionaire Tom Steyer cutting into his strength among African Americans in South Carolina’s primary this coming Saturday. Biden was in North Charleston on Sunday, and was asked what he thinks Steyer could muster in the primary. Biden's response: 'I think the same amount he took in Nevada. Nothing.” Steyer finished well back in the pack in Nevada's caucuses on Saturday, with Biden second to Bernie Sanders. Steyer has spent heavily on ads in South Carolina and polls suggest he’s cut into Biden’s advantages among black voters in the state. Biden seemed worried enough to criticize Steyer for making some of his personal fortune by investing in private prisons. Also Sunday, Biden says he's not banking on the endorsement of an influential South Carolina congressman before the primary. Biden says that when it comes to James Clyburn, “I’m not counting on anything.” Biden did say Clyburn’s blessing “will be a big deal.” Clyburn said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that he will endorse on Wednesday — after Tuesday night’s debate in Charleston. Clyburn is close to Biden but the congressman said Sunday that he’s heard from Democrats who have been disappointed in Biden’s debate performances. ___ 2 p.m. Elizabeth Warren is promising to legalize marijuana, throw out past marijuana convictions and support other countries that want to legalize. The Massachusetts senator’s plan released Sunday would also fund marijuana research and end prohibitions on Department of Veterans Affairs doctors from prescribing medical marijuana. It would also reverse Trump administration federal guidance on immigrants working in the marijuana industry, even in states where it is legal, from being barred from seeking U.S. citizenship. Warren promised to work with Congress to get most of her ideas passed into law, but promised to appoint agency heads who support marijuana legalization and ease prohibitions through the federal rulemaking process in her first 100 days as president. Many top Democratic presidential candidates similarly support legalizing marijuana and wiping out past convictions. But Warren announced the plan during a campaign visit to Denver, noting that Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012 and that nine states and the District of Columbia have followed suit. She also said that she would undo Republican-led efforts in Congress to block the nation’s capital’s taxation and regulation of marijuana using spending bills — despite the city’s citizens voting to legalize it in 2014. ___ 1:45 p.m. The Nevada Democratic Party says it’s not planning to offer a more detailed breakdown of the votes from its caucuses as requested by Pete Buttigieg’s campaign and appears to be inviting the campaign to follow recount rules instead. The Buttigieg campaign late Saturday night sent a letter to the party raising questions about the caucus results, which showed Buttigieg in third, saying it had received more than 200 reports of problems integrating early votes and allocating votes on a second round of caucus voting. The campaign asked the party to release a more detailed breakdown of votes and address concerns before releasing final results. Party spokeswoman Molly Forgey said the party is continuing to verify and report results and is not going to offer a more detailed breakdown than it already planned to provide. Forgey says “there is a formal method for requesting a challenge of results” laid out in the party’s recount guidance. The party’s rules say any request for a recount must be filed by 5 p.m. Monday. ___ 12:50 p.m. Pete Buttigieg’s campaign is raising questions about the results of Nevada’s caucuses and asking the state Democratic Party to address more than 200 reports of problems allocating votes Saturday. In a letter sent to the Nevada State Democratic Party late Saturday night and provided to The Associated Press on Sunday, the Buttigieg campaign said the process of integrating four days of early voting into in-person caucuses held Saturday was “plagued with errors and inconsistencies.' It cited instances where people running caucuses did not appear to follow rules that could have allowed candidates to pick up more support on a second round of voting. The campaign is calling for the party to release more detail of the votes and address concerns before releasing final results. Bernie Sanders won Nevada’s caucuses, with Joe Biden a distant second and Buttigieg in third. Buttigieg’s deputy campaign manager Hari Sevugan says in a statement that the campaign’s own data shows a “razor thin” margin for second place and questioned whether the “irregularities and a number of unresolved questions” could change the final results. The party did not respond to a message Sunday seeking comment on the letter. ___ 12:30 p.m. Joe Biden has told parishioners at a black church in North Charleston, South Carolina, that the 2020 presidential election can “rip out the roots of systemic racism” if voters help him win the Democratic nomination and go on to defeat President Donald Trump. The former vice president drew an ovation when he declared from the pulpit of Royal Missionary Baptist Church that Trump is “more George Wallace than George Washington.' Biden is looking to South Carolina’s primary Saturday for his first victory of the 2020 campaign. After back-of-the-pack finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden rebounded in Nevada on Saturday but was a distant second to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Biden is hoping his strong ties to the black community will make the difference in South Carolina. It's the first state on the 2020 election calendar with a majority black electorate among Democrats. ___ 12:20 p.m. Tom Steyer's campaign says the California billionaire has qualified for Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina. His campaign says the climate activist had drawn enough support in two polls to meet the requirements for a place on the debate stage. South Carolina's primary is this coming Saturday. Also set for the debate are former Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. South Carolina is one of the two states in which Steyer has invested the most heavily. The other is Nevada, where he's in a close race with Klobuchar for fifth place in the presidential caucuses that were held Saturday. Over recent months, Steyer has been gaining momentum as he campaigned multiple times in South Carolina. It's the first early-voting state with a heavily black electorate. Steyer has frequently focused on issues he sees as important to black voters, including support for historically black colleges and universities, as well as reparations. ___ 11:45 a.m. Joe Biden says some of the behavior of Bernie Sanders’ supporters is “Trump-like stuff” and is calling on the Vermont senator to condemn them. Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Biden referenced the protesters identifying as Sanders supporters who occupied his Iowa campaign office and “misogynist” attacks on leaders of the Culinary Union in Nevada by individuals also identified as Sanders backers. The former vice president said there should be “absolute condemnation of the conduct of these folks” and added the behavior is “Trump-like stuff … not stuff that we’ve done in Democratic primaries before.” Sanders has suggested some of the vitriol that appears to be coming from his supporters may be fueled by Russian intrusion in the campaign. He recently acknowledged receiving a briefing from U.S. officials that Russians are working to help his candidacy. But Biden expressed skepticism of Sanders’ assertion that the Russians may be behind the worst behavior, saying, “I guess anything’s possible, but they’re identified as Bernie supporters.” He also called on the intelligence community to brief the rest of the Democratic field on what they’ve told Sanders about Russian involvement in the campaign. ___ 11:20 a.m. Pete Buttigieg is making a pitch to some black voters in South Carolina, saying he knows he's asking essentially for those who may not know him to trust him with their lives if he becomes president. Buttigieg said during services on Sunday morning at First Baptist Church in Charleston that he found it 'humbling' to be before a black congregation during Black History Month asking for support in Saturday's presidential primary. Buttigieg has acknowledged struggles gaining traction among the black voters who make up the majority of the Democratic primary electorate in South Carolina. Buttigieg said Sunday that his campaign was comprised of more than 40% black staffers and that his time as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has given him insights as to how to try to identify with the black community. He told the congregation that “nobody this side of Paradise can fix anything alone.' ___ 10:40 a.m. President Donald Trump is congratulating Bernie Sanders for his Nevada caucus win. Speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force One en route to India, the president declared it a 'great win' for the Vermont senator but added 'we'll see what happens' with the rest of the nomination fight. Trump added of Sanders, 'I don't care who I run against, I just hope that they treat him fairly.' He went on to say, without proof, that 'there's a lot of bad things going on' and that he hopes it won't be a 'rigged deal' in the primary. Some of Sanders' supporters in 2016 charged that the primary was rigged against him, and a portion stayed home on Election Day, which many political observers believe helped contribute to Trump's win over Hillary Clinton that year. Sanders has said he expects fair treatment from party leadership this cycle. Trump also weighed in on recent news that Sanders has been briefed by U.S. officials that Russians are working to help his candidacy. The president said that 'nobody told me about it' and speculated, without evidence, that the news was a 'leak' from Democrats on Capitol Hill because “they don't want Bernie Sanders to represent them.” ___ 10:25 a.m. South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn is cautioning Democrats not to declare a nomination winner before South Carolina votes. Bernie Sanders comes out of a strong win in Nevada Saturday after winning the two prior primaries with momentum heading into the next contest, in South Carolina next Saturday. But while the Vermont senator seems increasingly to be the odds-on favorite for the nomination, Clyburn insisted that South Carolina still has a role to play. He tells NBC's “Meet the Press': “If you can win South Carolina decisively, it can set the stage for Super Tuesday.' Clyburn, the dean of the South Carolina delegation and House Minority Whip, said he plans to make an endorsement in the race Wednesday. His endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008 helped the then-senator clinch the Democratic nomination, and he's currently believed to favor Joe Biden in the race. ___ This version corrects in 12:30 p.m. Biden item that South Carolina is the first state on the election calendar with a majority black electorate among Democrats.
  • It was the Trumpiest of offers. A rally at one of the world's largest stadiums. A crowd of millions cheering him on. A love fest during an election year. President Donald Trump's packed two-day visit to India promises the kind of welcome that has eluded him on many foreign trips, some of which have featured massive protests and icy handshakes from world leaders. He is expected to receive a warm embrace from the ideologically aligned and hug-loving Prime Minister Narendra Modi, complete with a massive rally soon after his arrival Monday and then a sunset visit to the Taj Mahal. After hosting Modi at a “Howdy Modi” rally in Houston last year that drew 50,000 people, Modi will return the favor with a “Namaste Trump” rally (it translates to, 'Greetings, Trump”) at the world's largest cricket stadium in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad. Tens of thousands are expected to line the streets. Modi 'told me we’ll have 7 million people between the airport and the event,' Trump said to reporters Tuesday, then raised the anticipated number to 10 million when he mentioned the trip during a Thursday night rally. Indian authorities expect closer to 100,000. “I'll never be satisfied with a crowd if we have 10 million people in India,' Trump said. And as he left the White House on Sunday for the flight to India, the upcoming spectacle was on the president's mind again: “I hear it's going to be a big event. Some people say the biggest event they've ever had in India. That's what the prime minister told me — this will be the biggest event they've ever had.” Trump’s motorcade will travel amid cheers from carefully picked and screened Modi loyalists and workers from his Bharatiya Janata Party. They will stand for hours alongside the neatly manicured 22-kilometer (14-mile) stretch of road to accord Trump a grand welcome. Trump generally dislikes foreign travel and prefers being home in his White House bed; in fact, he noted to reporters upon his departure from the White House that it was a long trip to India and that he was only going to be there one night. But he has a particular affinity for India. He owned a hotel and casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, named the Trump Taj Mahal, and he owns multiple properties in India. “There's a lot of color. This is a loud and boisterous country, and that exactly in some ways really fits with the Trump style,' said Tanvi Madan, a senior fellow and director of The India Project at the Brookings Institution. She said Trump is likely to get a king's welcome from a country well-rehearsed in the art of adulation. A half-million people gathered to hear President Dwight D. Eisenhower speak in 1959; former President Jimmy Carter had a village named after him — Carterpuri. “In some ways, American presidents go to India to feel loved,” said Madan. She predicted Trump would receive an even grander welcome because the Indians recognize it's something Trump expects and that could keep them in his good graces. “It's not about him, per se, for them. It is the U.S. relationship for India is crucial,' she said. India has spent weeks making preparations for the visit. At a cost of almost $14 million, the government is blanketing the city with ads of Trump and Modi and hastily erected a half-kilometer (1,640-foot) brick wall beside the road Trump will take to the stadium, which officials are rushing to finish in time for Trump's arrival.. Critics say the wall was built to block the view of a slum inhabited by more than 2,000 people. Stray dogs have been caught and exotic trees planted. Trump's foreign visits have typically been light on sightseeing, but this time, the president and first lady Melania Trump are to visit the Taj Mahal. Stories in local media warn of the monkeys that inhabit the landmark pestering tourists for food and, on occasion, menacing both visitors and slingshot-carrying security guards. Presidents have often used trips overseas to bolster their electoral prospects. Images of American presidents being feted on the world stage stand in contrast to those of their rivals in the opposing party slogging through diners in early-voting states and clashing in debate. This trip, in particular, reflects a Trump campaign strategy to showcase him looking presidential during short, carefully managed trips that provide counterprogramming to the Democrats' primary contest and produce the kinds of visuals his campaign can use in future ads. His aides also believe the visit could help the president woo tens of thousands of Indian-American voters before the November election. Some of Trump's past trips have been overshadowed by diplomatic snafus and political gaffes. When Barack Obama was running for president, his reception in Germany in front of a massive crowd was featured prominently in an attack ad casting him as a mere “celebrity.” Beyond the optics, there are serious issues to address as India faces a slumping economy and ongoing protests over a citizenship law that excludes Muslims. Trade tensions between the two countries have escalated since the Trump administration imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium from India. India responded with higher penalties on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices. The U.S. retaliated by removing India from a decades-old preferential trade program. Though trade will be on the agenda, Trump and administration officials are playing down expectations. “Well, we can have a trade deal with India, but I’m really saving the big deal for later on,” the president said. India has been embroiled in protests over its Citizenship Amendment Act. It provides a fast track to naturalization for some migrants who entered the country illegally while fleeing religious persecution, but excludes Muslims, raising fears that the country is moving toward a religious citizenship test. Passage has prompted large-scale protests and a violent crackdown. Typically, Trump has not publicly rebuked world leaders for human rights abuses during his overseas trips. But one senior administration official said the U.S. is concerned about the situation and that Trump will tell Modi the world is looking to India to continue to uphold its democratic traditions and respect religious minorities. Trump is also expected to weigh in on the fate of the disputed territory of Kashmir. The Muslim-majority territory claimed by both Hindu-nationalist led India and Pakistan. Trump has offered to mediate and has encouraged India and Pakistan to work together to resolve their differences. But there is likely to be little public divide between Trump and Modi, two leaders with a similar love of bravado and adoration. At the “Howdy Modi” event last fall, which incongruously linked the Indian prime minister with Texas' cowboy culture, the two world leaders took the stage hand in hand at a rock concert-like setting that will be dwarfed by the scene in Ahmedabad “Get ready to say #NamasteTrump,” tweeted the city, the largest in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, as it geared up to welcome the American president on his maiden India visit as president. It also invited people to join “#theBiggestRoadShowEver.” ___ Follow Colvin on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@colvinj and Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire
  • The U.S. government and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will face off Monday in a high-security London courthouse, a decade after WikiLeaks infuriated American officials by publishing a trove of classified military documents. A judge at Woolwich Crown Court will begin hearing arguments from lawyers for U.S. authorities, who want to try Assange on espionage charges that carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison. The extradition hearing follows years of subterfuge, diplomatic dispute and legal drama that have led the 48-year-old Australian from fame as an international secret-spiller through self-imposed exile inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to incarceration in a maximum-security British prison. Assange has been indicted in the U.S. on 18 charges over the publication of classified documents. Prosecutors say he conspired with U.S. army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack into a Pentagon computer and release hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables and military files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. authorities say WikiLeaks’ activities put American lives in danger. Assange argues he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection, and says the leaked documents exposed U.S. military wrongdoing. Among the files published by WikiLeaks was video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack by American forces in Baghdad that killed 11 people, including two Reuters journalists. Journalism organizations and civil liberties groups including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders say the charges against Assange set a chilling precedent for freedom of the press. “What we have is an assault on journalism,” left-wing Greek lawmaker Yanis Varoufakis said at an Assange support march in London on Saturday. “The only charge against Julian, hiding behind the nonsense of espionage, is a charge of journalism.” Assange's legal saga began in 2010, when he was arrested in London at the request of Sweden, which wanted to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women. He refused to go to Stockholm, saying he feared extradition or illegal rendition to the United States or the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In 2012, Assange sought refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he was beyond the reach of U.K. and Swedish authorities. For seven years Assange led an isolated and increasingly surreal existence in the tiny embassy, which occupies an apartment in an upscale block near the ritzy Harrod’s department store. Confined to the building, he occasionally emerged onto a small balcony to address supporters, and received visits from celebrity allies including Lady Gaga and “Baywatch” actress Pamela Anderson. The relationship between Assange and his hosts eventually soured, and he was evicted in April 2019. British police immediately arrested him for jumping bail in 2012. Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November because so much time had elapsed, but Assange remains in London’s Belmarsh Prison as he awaits a decision on the U.S. extradition request. Supporters say the ordeal has harmed Assange’s physical and mental health, leaving him with depression, dental problems and a serious shoulder ailment. For his supporters around the world, Assange remains a hero. But many others are critical of the way WikiLeaks has published classified documents without redacting details that could endanger individuals. WikiLeaks has also been accused of serving as a conduit for Russian misinformation, and Assange has alienated some supporters by dallying with populist politicians including Brexit-promoter Nigel Farage. Assange’s legal team insists the American case against him is politically motivated. His lawyers say they will present evidence that the Australian was offered a pardon by the Trump administration if he agreed to say Russia wasn't involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails that were published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 U.S. election campaign. Assange’s lawyers say the offer was made in August 2017 by then-Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who claimed to be acting on behalf of President Donald Trump. The White House has called the claim “a complete fabrication and a total lie.” Rohrabacher acknowledges discussing the Democrat leak with Assange, but denies offering a pardon from the president. An end to the saga could still be years away. After a week of opening arguments, the extradition case is due to break until May, when the two sides will lay out their evidence. The judge is not expected to rule until several months after that, with the losing side likely to appeal. If the courts approve extradition, the British government will have the final say. The case comes at delicate time for trans-Atlantic relations. The U.K. has left the European Union and is keen to strike a trade deal with the U.S. But relations between Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government and the Trump administration have been strained by Britain’s decision to defy Washington and grant Chinese firm Huawei a role in building the U.K.’s telecoms infrastructure. Anand Doobay, an extradition lawyer at the firm Boutique Law, said the Assange saga was an unusual, hard-to-predict case. “Very few cases raise this range of issues, where there are likely to be arguments about the actual offenses he’s accused of committing and whether they amount to a crime in both countries,” he said. “There are arguments about his treatment in terms of the fairness of his trial, the conditions he’s going to be detained in, the reasons why he is being prosecuted, his activities as a journalist.” __ Associated Press video journalist Jo Kearney contributed to this story.
  • It's a question spouses, domestic partners and roommates are going to be forced to confront in the next few weeks as they fill out their 2020 Census forms: Who gets to be the primary person in the household? Everyone else who lives in the home has to be identified on the form by how they are related to so-called 'Person 1.' It's a question that even the most egalitarian homes are going to have to figure out — though it's sure to spark some intriguing conversations. For married couple Debbie Kleinberg and Frankie Huff, it's a no-brainer. “Me, because anytime Frankie has paperwork, I do it,” said Kleinberg, a credit administrator, who lives with her college-professor wife in an Orlando suburb. Kleinberg says the 2020 Census-answering process in their home will follow a familiar pattern. “The notice will come in the mail. It will sit on the kitchen table for a couple of days, or weeks. It may even get lost, and we will find it after sorting through a pile of bills later,” Kleinberg said. But she will eventually fill it out. “Being introverts, we don’t want anyone knocking on our door,” she said. Deciding who fills out the questionnaire may force spouses or domestic partners to talk about power dynamics they might not have discussed for 10 years, since the last time there was a decennial census, said Diana Betz, an assistant professor of psychology at Loyola University Maryland. In some households, she added, the topic might never have come up. That could mean contemplating whether having a bigger salary or a more important job title trumps the traditional gender norms a couple may have settled into, or if doing more for a household through domestic chores or child-raising gives someone the claim, Betz said. “You might be saying stuff that was previously left unspoken,” Betz said. In Betz's home, her husband, an economist, will be filling out the questionnaire when it first becomes available in mid-March, but that's only because he wrote his dissertation about the census. “So, that's a complicating factor,' she said. The 2020 form says “Person 1' should be someone who pays the rent or owns the home. If nobody meets that description, “start by listing any adult living here as Person 1,' according to the form. Knowing how everyone else is related to “Person 1' helps the Census Bureau understand the different types of households there are, and their numbers, such as family households with a grandparent living in the home. Until 40 years ago, Person 1 was called “head of household” or “head of family.” But the U.S. Census Bureau stopped using those monikers as more women were entering the workforce and fewer men were the sole breadwinners. “Householder” also is used to describe the person to whom the relationship of all other household members is recorded. The most recent American Community Survey offers a sneak-peak of how the genders of “Person 1' may break down in the 2020 Census — and it points to a fairly even divide. In2018, there were a total of79 millionhouseholds with families. In 41 million of those homes, the householder was a man, and in 38 million homes, the householder was a woman. This year, there are more options on the census form for describing how people are related to Person 1 since the Census Bureau has added categories like 'opposite-sex unmarried partner,' 'same-sex husband/wife/spouse' and 'same-sex unmarried partner.' The change came after the 2010 census when the form only had 'husband or wife' and 'unmarried partners' to describe romantic attachments. Several studies have theorized that same-sex couples from the 2010 census were inflated due to unintentional mis-markings by confused heterosexual married couples. Unlike in years past, most people won't be filling out the form by hand and mailing it back. Instead, the Census Bureau is encouraging a majority of respondents to answer the questions online, although people also will be able to answer by telephone and by mailing in their responses. Census workers will be sent out to knock on the doors of homes of people who haven't responded by May. The 2020 Census will help determine how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed as well as how many congressional seats each state gets. The Census Bureau offers no guidance on how to sort out who comes first. When asked how people should decide who in their home gets to respond, Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham said he wasn’t going to venture an opinion, “just as long as someone is answering and we get a self-response.” And who will be filling out the form in his home? “That’s a good question,” Dillingham said. “Hopefully, I’m home and maybe it will be me. But if not, my wife will do a great job.” ___ Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP
  • Doreen Oport was pulled from the rubble of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1998 covered in blood. Her hair was burned from the bombing. Pieces of metal and glass were embedded in her skin. The two decades since the bombing have been a difficult and “painful journey,” she said in a telephone interview this past week from her current home in Texas. “I was angry. I was sad. I was annoyed. I just couldn't fathom that a human being could do this to another human being,” said Oport, 59, who had worked at the embassy as a senior immigration assistant, helping refugees from other countries relocate to the United States and Americans adopting children from Kenya. The bombing on Aug. 7, 1998, and the nearly simultaneous one at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were the first major attacks on U.S. targets by al-Qaida. More than 200 people were killed and thousands were injured. On Monday in Washington, Oport will join other victims of the bombings to hear arguments in a Supreme Court case that could affect the compensation they may receive for their injuries. The victims and their families, most of them foreign citizens, sued Sudan in U.S. court beginning more than a decade ago. They accused Sudan of causing the bombings by aiding al-Qaida and leader Osama bin Laden, who lived in Sudan in the 1990s. A court awarded the group of more than 550 people approximately $10 billion in damages. But an appeals court threw out $4 billion of the award that was punitive damages. The court said the federal Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act bars punitive damages for events such as the bombings if they happened before a 2008 amendment to the law. The Supreme Court will decide whether that's right. The case is particularly relevant now because Sudan's transitional government wants to be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and settling with the bombing victims is seen as critical to doing so. Getting off the list would allow Sudan, which last year ousted autocrat Omar al-Bashir amid massive public protests, to get loans to rebuild its economy. It's unclear, however, how much the bombing victims might get from the cash-strapped country. Earlier this month, Sudan announced it had reached a settlement with the far fewer number of families of the victims of the al-Qaida-linked attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000; that settlement was said to be $70 million. If the Supreme Court allows punitive damages in the embassy bombings case, it would be leverage to get a larger settlement for victims. Punitive damages are also important because they're 'intended to deter future conduct by would-be bad actors,' said Steve Perles, a lawyer for the victims. Victims hope Sudan will ultimately pay. Tobias Otieno, 69, worked at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi helping U.S. businesses that wanted to sell their products in Kenya. He was left nearly blind by the bombing and his left hand was severely injured. He said in a telephone interview from Kenya that he would like to use any money from the case to pay for his children's education and to buy a house. He would like to be a landlord, he said. Oport said if she were to get money as a result of the case she would probably use some of it to travel. She moved to the United States in 2002 but her mother, who is in her 90s, is in Kenya. Oport said she would like to take her three daughters and her mom on a vacation, maybe to Australia or Israel, and to pay off her house. Oport said though it's been nearly 22 years since the bombing, she still has lingering effects. She has back problems and wears a wig to hide baldness as a result of her injuries. She still gets scared any time she hears a loud sound. “They should be able to own up and pay the punitive damages,” she said of Sudan. “Our lives are forever changed.”

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  • The death toll attributed to the 2019 novel coronavirus continues to rise, with tens of thousands of people sickened and thousands of others killed by the virus, mostly in China. The coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, was discovered late last year in Wuhan, China. Here are the latest updates:  Plan to bring coronavirus patients to Alabama scuttled  Update 4:35 p.m. EST Feb 23:  A plan to quarantine some passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship at a Federal Emergency Management Agency center in Alabama was canceled Sunday. Passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus but did not have symptoms were going to be taken to the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, under a plan announced Saturday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and Gov. Kay Ivey pushed back. 'I just got off the phone with the President,” Shelby wrote Sunday on social media. “He told me that his administration will not be sending any victims of the Coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama.” Ivey also confirmed the change. 'President Trump called to assure me that this plan will not move forward,” Ivey said on social media. “I thanked him for his support of (Alabama)! We always want to help our fellow Americans, but this wasn’t fully vetted.” Italy locks down more than 50,000 people Update 2:05 p.m. EST Feb 23: Italy locked down more than 50,000 people in 10 towns in the country’s northern region of Lombardy, according to The New York Times. Government officials said there are now 152 confirmed cases, several events across Italy were canceled Sunday, including the last two days Venice’s Carnival, The Washington Post reported. Officials said Sunday, that 88 of the cases reported in Italy are from the Lombardy region, the Times reported. Three people have died, including a 77-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man, and at least 26 are in intensive care, according to officials. In other news, the Chinese government reported 648 new cases across the country Sunday and 97 deaths, the Post reported. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 76,936; there have been 2,442 deaths. China’s Xi calls virus ‘a crisis’ and ’big test’ Update 10:05 a.m. EST Feb 23: China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, told Communist Party officials at a meeting Sunday that the coronavirus epidemic was “a crisis and a big test” for the country. Xi admitted “obvious shortcomings in the response to the epidemic,” but did not give details, according to The New York Times. Xi also said officials should “learn lessons” and improve China’s ability to respond to public health emergencies, the newspaper reported. He said the outbreak in China presented “the fastest spread, the widest scope of infections and the greatest degree of difficulty in controlling infections” of any public health emergency since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Times reported, citing the official Xinhua News Agency. 132 coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy Update 7:36 a.m. EST Feb. 23: At least 132 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy, officials announced Sunday. According to CNN, two people there have died, while another 26 are being treated in intensive care.  South Korea reports 46 more coronavirus cases; total there hits 602 Update 3:51 a.m. EST Feb. 23: South Korean health officials said they have confirmed a total 602 coronavirus cases in the country, CNN is reporting. News of the new total came Sunday after the country’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 46 more cases of the virus, according to CNN. Five patients in South Korea have died from the illness, the outlet reported. 6th person dead from coronavirus in Iran  Update 5:36 p.m. EST Feb 22: A sixth person in Iran has died from the deadly coronavirus that originated in China.  The person also had a heart condition, The Associated Press reported. A fifth fatality in Iran was reported earlier Saturday.  There have been 28 reported cases of coronavirus in Iran. People are being treated in Tehran, Qom, Arak and Rasht. Officials will use center in Alabama as quarantine facility Update 2:06 p.m. EST Feb 22: Concern is growing in Israel, where health officials said a woman who was a passenger aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the virus after returning home, The New York Times reported. Meanwhile, after nine South Koreans who visited Israel tested positive for the coronavirus after returning home, the Israeli government began closing the country to South Korean travelers, the newspaper reported. Passengers flying on a Korean Air flight scheduled to land at Ben Gurion Airport at 7:30 p.m. Saturday were expected to be barred entry into the country, the Times reported, citing Ynet, an Israeli news organization. Government officials were expected to decide Sunday whether other inbound flights from South Korea would be allowed, the newspaper reported. Japan waited 72 hours before imposing quarantine on cruise ship Update 10:56 a.m. EST Feb 22: More than 72 hours elapsed before Japanese officials imposed a quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, The New York Times reported. Early on the morning of Feb. 2, before the ship had docked in Yokohama, Hong Kong officials informed the Japanese health ministry about an infected passenger, the newspaper reported. A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said the company received “formal verification” of the infection from Hong Kong on Feb. 3, the Times reported. The announcement was made to passengers that night, and they were advised around 11 p.m. to remain in their rooms, the Times reported. On Feb. 5, the captain of the Diamond Princess confirmed there were 10 cases of the coronavirus on the ship, and passengers were told they needed to return to their rooms, where they were quarantined for 14 days, according to the newspaper. University of Memphis graduate Luke Hefner, a singer who was aboard the Princess Diamond, was one of the 10 people on board confirmed with the virus, WHBQ reported. After Hefner tested positive for the virus, crews rushed him off the ship and into a Japanese hospital Feb. 18, the television station reported. WHO experts heading to China; African nations warned Update 9:25 a.m. EST Feb 22: A team of experts from the World Health Organization was heading to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus epidemic, the agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told The New York Times. Tedros confirmed the trip during an address Saturday morning to African officials from Geneva, the newspaper reported. “We have to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have, to attack the virus outbreak with a sense of urgency,” Tedros told the leaders during an emergency meeting on the response to the coronavirus in the continent. There has been only one confirmed case of coronavirus in Africa, but officials are concerned because several countries have strained health systems, the Times reported. The WHO has identified 13 priority countries in Africa because of their direct links to China, the newspaper reported. Italy confirms 2nd coronavirus death  Update 6:45 a.m. EST Feb 22: A second novel coronavirus patient in Italy has died. A spokesperson for the country’s department of civil protection, or Protezione Civile, confirmed the death to CNN on Saturday. According to a health ministry spokesman, the woman who previously tested positive for the virus died in the northern region of Lombardy. South Korea reports 229 new cases in 24 hours  Update 6:17 a.m. EST Feb 22: An additional 87 novel coronavirus cases reported Saturday brings South Korea’s 24-hour total to 229 and the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 433. According to a statement issued by the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62 of the 87 new cases are linked with the Shincheonji religious group, and three cases are linked with Cheongdo Daenam hospital, in North Gyeongsang province. Iran confirms 10 new cases, 5th death  Update 6:15 a.m. EST Feb 22: The numbers might sound low, but the surge in diagnosed novel coronavirus cases in Iran is boosting concerns among global health officials the outbreak could soon reach pandemic levels. Iran’s health ministry confirmed 10 new cases of the virus – bringing the country’s total to 28 – and a fifth fatality. The ripple effect among travelers, however, is sounding alarm bells among infectious disease experts. According to the New York Times, cases confirmed in both Canada and Lebanon have been traced to travel to and from Iran. “The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it’s very worrisome,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Friday at a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “These dots are actually very concerning.” Kianoush Jahanpour, Iran’s health ministry spokesman, said that of the 10 latest reported cases, two were diagnosed in Tehran and eight are in Qom. According to The Associated Press, two elderly patients died in Qom Wednesday and the two Tehran patients either visited or had links to Qom. Novel coronavirus cases diagnosed outside mainland China surpass 1,500  Update 3:24 a.m. EST Feb 22: With health officials monitoring the novel coronavirus’ spread beyond its epicenter in Wuhan, China, the number of confirmed cases diagnosed outside mainland China hit a new milestone early Saturday morning. The latest figures indicate more than 1,500 cases and 15 deaths attributed to the virus have been recorded in more than 30 countries and territories outside mainland China since December, CNN reported. The geographic breakdown of confirmed cases and deaths is as follows: • Australia: at least 21 cases • Belgium: at least 1 case • Cambodia: at least 1 case • Canada: at least 9 cases • Egypt: at least 1 case • Finland: at least 1 case • France: at least 12 cases, 1 death • Germany: at least 16 cases • Hong Kong: at least 68 cases, 2 deaths • India: at least 3 cases • Iran: at least 18 cases, 4 deaths • Israel: at least 1 case • Italy: at least 17 cases, 1 death • Japan: at least 738 cases, including 639 linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship; 3 deaths • Lebanon: at least 1 case • Macao: at least 10 cases • Malaysia: at least 22 cases • Nepal: at least 1 case • Philippines: at least 3 cases, 1 death • Russia: at least 2 cases • Singapore: at least 86 cases • South Korea: at least 347 cases, 1 death • Spain: at least 2 cases • Sri Lanka: at least 1 case • Sweden: at least 1 case • Taiwan: at least 26 cases, 1 death • Thailand: at least 35 cases • United Arab Emirates: at least 9 cases • United Kingdom: at least 9 cases • United States: at least 35 cases • Vietnam: at least 16 cases Mainland China death toll reaches 2,345  Update 3:22 a.m. EST Feb 22: China’s National Health Commission confirmed early Saturday the death toll from the novel coronavirus has increased by another 109 fatalities to 2,345. According to CNN, all but three of the latest mainland deaths occurred in the outbreak’s Hubei province epicenter. The latest figures bring the global death toll to 2,360. Meanwhile, confirmed cases in increased by 397 on Friday, bringing mainland China’s total number of recorded cases to 76,288. Health authorities contend a total of 20,659 patients have recovered from the virus and been discharged from medical facilities. Australia confirms 6 new cases  Update 3:20 a.m. EST Feb 22: Six people repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, boosting Australia’s total infection count to 21. According to the Australian government’s Department of Health, 10 patients have recovered from the illness. Diamond Princess cruise ship awaits scrub down  Update 3:18 a.m. EST Feb 22: The Diamond Princess cruise ship will soon undergo a thorough deep cleaning to prepare the vessel to resume sailing on April 29. Negin Kamali, Princess Cruises’ public relations director, told CNN Travel the company is working in tandem with the Japanese health ministry to hammer out sanitation specifics for the 116,000-ton ship. The vessel will be “fully sanitized by a cleaning company with an expertise in this area following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization,” Kamali told CNN. Only 31 passengers remained onboard the ship Saturday morning after 253 who tested negative for the novel coronavirus were allowed to disembark on Friday. The ship’s 924-member crew also remains aboard. The ship has been moored in Yokohama Bay off the coast of Japan since early February. To date, the virus-stricken ship, which housed 3,600 crew and passengers upon arrival, is linked to at least 639 coronavirus infections, CNN reported. Japan reports 12 new cases  Update 3:16 a.m. EST Feb 22: Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed early Saturday the diagnoses of 12 new novel coronavirus cases, including three teenagers. The latest report brings Japan’s total number of infections to 738, including 99 on land and 639 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.  Italy confirms first novel coronavirus death Update 3:14 a.m. EST Feb 22: Italian officials confirmed Saturday their first citizen has succumbed to the novel coronavirus. The 78-year-old man died in a Padua hospital in northern Italy. To date, the country has recorded a total of 17 infections. Taiwan confirms 2 new cases Update 3:12 a.m. EST Feb 22: Taiwan’s novel coronavirus infection count now stands at 26 after two additional cases were confirmed on the island Saturday. The most recent patients are the daughter and granddaughter of a previously diagnosed patient, and neither had traveled recently. 142 new cases of the virus reported in South Korea  Update 9 p.m. EST Feb 21: South Korea reported a six-fold jump in viral infections in four days to 346, most of them linked to a church and a hospital in and around the fourth-largest city where schools were closed and worshipers and others told to avoid mass gatherings.  Of the 142 new cases in South Korea, 131 are from Daegu and nearby regions, which have emerged as the latest front in the widening global fight against COVID-19.  China the daily count of new virus cases there fell significantly to 397, with another 109 people dying of the disease, most in the epicenter of Hubei province.  The new figures bring the total number of cases in mainland China to 76,288 with 2,345 deaths, as strict quarantine measures and travel bans continue to contain the disease that emerged in China in December and has since spread world-wide. The daily figure is down from 889. WHO’s latest situation report The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization says that coronavirus has been found in 30 countries around the world. Read the latest situation report from the WHO below. Italy’s virus cases quadruples Update 1:20 p.m. EST Feb 21: Officials in Italy are reporting that the number of people infected by coronavirus has quadrupled. As of Friday, the country has seen 17 cases, with 14 of them new. They are being considered secondary contagion cases and are clustered in small towns around Lodi, in the Lombardy region, The Associated Press reported. It was previously reported that a 38-year-old man, who is in critical condition due to coronavirus, passed the illness to his wife and a close friend after he picked it up from a person who had been in China, but not showing any symptoms. The person who was in China is in isolation and may have antibodies to battle the illness. Three patients at the hospital where the patient who is in critical condition visited when he was being treated for flu-like symptoms have tested positive. As do five nurses and doctors at the same facility. Three people who went to the same cafe as the 38-year-old man who is sick also have tested positive. Because of the cluster, the mayor of Codogno has closed schools, public buildings,s restaurants and coffee shops. And has ordered the 14-day quarantine of anyone who came in contact with the man and the two people first diagnosed, the AP reported. 1 new coronavirus case confirmed in Singapore Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials with Singapore’s Ministry of Health have verified another case of coronavirus in the country, bringing the total number of people infected in Singapore to 86. Authorities said the newest case involves a 24-year-old Singaporean man who was under isolation Friday at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. His illness was linked to one reported earlier this week involving a 57-year-old woman who had no history of recent travel to China. Officials said 47 people who have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Singapore have since recovered and been released from hospitals. Lebanon, Israel confirm 1st coronavirus cases Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Health officials in Lebanon and Israel announced Friday the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the countries. Lebanon’s health minister, Hamad Hassan, said Friday that a 45-year-old woman tested positive for coronavirus after entering the country from Iran, Reuters reported. She was being quarantined Friday at a hospital in Beirut, according to Reuters. The Jerusalem Post reported an Israeli who returned to the country Thursday after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has tested positive for the virus. The coronavirus case marked the first in Israel, though health officials noted the passenger had contracted virus while in Japan. Earlier this month, thousands of people were quarantined on the Diamond Princess, docked off the coast of Japan, due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection. South Korea reports 2nd coronavirus death  Update 9 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials in South Korea reported the country’s second death due to coronavirus Friday, The Washington Post reported. Citing the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Post reported a woman in her 50s died after testing positive for the virus Friday at Daenam Hospital. She was transferred to a bigger hospital in Busan, where she died around 6 p.m., according to the newspaper. The death marked the second related to COVID-19 in South Korea. On Wednesday, a 63-year-old patient died after suffering symptoms of pneumonia in what was suspected to be the country’s first coronavirus death, according to The New York Times. Iran confirms 18 cases, 4 deaths Update 7:50 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Iranian officials confirmed on Friday that 13 new cases of the novel coronavirus have been diagnosed and two additional patients have died. Friday’s figures bring Iran’s total number of infections to 18 and the death toll from the virus to four, CNN reported. “According to the latest laboratory reports 13 more contractions of coronavirus have been confirmed, including 7 in Qom, 4 in Tehran, and two in Gilan. Unfortunately, out of these cases two have lost their lives,' health ministry spokesman Kianoosh Jahanpour tweeted Friday. 3 novel coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy Update 7:32 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Italy confirmed its first novel coronavirus cases Friday, noting three people in a city near Milan have tested positive for the illness. According to The Washington Post, the first patient to contract the virus was a 38-year-old man in the northern region of Lombardy, who fell ill after dining with a friend who had recently returned from China. The man then passed the illness on to his wife and a close friend. All three patients have been hospitalized, the Post reported. Confirmed novel coronavirus cases, fatalities continue to increase globally Update 6:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Globally, more than 76,900 novel coronavirus cases have been reported, according to the latest figures released Friday morning by health officials in China. Although the majority of cases – around 75,600 – remain clustered in mainland China, more than 1,300 cases have been confirmed in 29 countries, CNN reported. Meanwhile, 118 additional deaths were confirmed in mainland China Friday, with the global death toll reaching 2,247, the network reported. Vaccine nearing clinical trials in China Update 6:44 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Xu Nanping, China’s vice minister of Science and Technology, told reporters Friday that Chinese researchers expect to submit the first COVID-19 vaccine for clinical trials around late April. The status update comes roughly one month after Chinese officials established a coronavirus scientific research group, consisting of 14 experts led by renowned pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, The Washington Post reported. “One month is a very short time for scientific research, but a very long time for patients struggling with the disease. The scientific and technological community nationwide will put the safety of people’s lives and health first and spare no effort to continue to produce tangible and effective scientific research results,” Xu told reporters during the briefing. Protesters attack Wuhan evacuee bus in Ukraine; 9 police officers, 1 civilian injured Update 6:42 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said nine police officers and one civilian were injured Thursday when protesters attacked a bus carrying evacuees from Wuhan, China. According to CNN, protesters had blocked roads in Noviy Sanzhari, the town where the evacuees are to be monitored for two weeks at a medical facility belonging to the Ukrainian National Guard. “Those people who today threw stones at the evacuees of Ukrainians and law enforcement officers ... We will make a decision on their punishment,” said Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, confirming one officer was seriously injured in the incident instigated by “aggressive citizens,” the network reported. South Korean coronavirus infections continue to increase Update 3:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections in South Korea increased to 204 on Friday, nearly doubling in 24 hours and almost quadrupling in three days, the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in a statement issued early Friday. Health officials believe the majority of the new cases are connected to a church in Daegu, a city of about two and half million people in the southeastern region of the country. Specifically, 42 of the newest cases reported Friday have been traced to the church called Shincheonji. The country also reported on Thursday what officials believe could be South Korea’s first fatality from the virus. The 63-year-old woman exhibiting symptoms of pneumonia died Wednesday at the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, The New York Times reported. Prison outbreaks boost novel coronavirus cases in mainland China Update 3:43 a.m. EST Feb. 21: More than 500 novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in prisons across China, including 271 cases – 51 of which had been counted in previous tallies – in Hubei province, CNN reported. Meanwhile, officials announced in a joint news conference on Friday that of the 2,077 prisoners and staff at Rencheng prison in China’s eastern Shandong province tested for the virus, 200 prisoners and seven staff members tested positive. Zhejiang province announced 34 prison cases on Friday, bringing the correctional total to 512, CNN reported. Canada records its 9th confirmed novel coronavirus case, 6th in British Columbia Update 3:41 a.m. EST Feb. 21: British Columbia’s Ministry of Health confirmed Friday a woman in her 30s has become the province’s sixth diagnosed case of novel coronavirus and the ninth for Canada. According to the statement, the woman had recently returned from Iran and is being isolated at home while public health officials identify and contact those people with whom she had contact upon returning Meanwhile, 47 of the 256 Canadian passengers aboard the beleaguered Diamond Princess cruise ship – moored off the coast of Japan – have tested positive for the virus. All 256 will be subject to a 14-day quarantine in Ontario once their evacuations are complete, CNN reported. 11 of 13 people evacuated to Omaha test positive for COVID-19  Update 11 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Federal experts confirmed that 11 of 13 people evacuated to an Omaha hospital from a cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for COVID-19, Nebraska officials announced Thursday night. The University of Nebraska Medical Center said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had verified test results completed Monday by the Nebraska Public Health Lab. Ten of those people are being cared for at the National Quarantine Unit while three are in the nearby Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. The medical center said only a few of the patients were showing symptoms of the disease. All 13 people were passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated to the U.S. on Feb. 17. China reports fall in new virus cases, 118 deaths  Update 10 p.m. EST Feb. 20: China reported a further fall in new virus cases to 889 as health officials expressed optimism over containment of the outbreak that has caused more than 2,200 deaths and is spreading elsewhere.  New infections in China have been falling for days, although changes in how it counts cases have caused doubts about the true trajectory of the epidemic.  China’s figures for the previous 24 hours brought the total number of cases to 75,465. The 118 newly reported deaths raised the total to 2,236. More than 1,000 cases and 11 deaths have been confirmed outside the mainland. 4 Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 sent to hospital in Spokane, Washington  Update 7:30 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Four Americans who tested positive for the new virus that caused an outbreak China are being sent to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, for treatment, officials said Thursday.  The four were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were flown back to the U.S. over the weekend, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. They were being transferred from Travis Air Force Base in California, hospital officials said.  Two patients arrived at the hospital Thursday in satisfactory condition with two more expected soon, said Christa Arguinchona, who manages a special isolation unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center. The hospital is one of 10 in the nation funded by Congress to treat new or highly infectious diseases.  “The risk to the community from this particular process is zero,” said Bob Lutz of the Spokane Regional Health District at a briefing Thursday at the hospital. WHO: ‘This is no time for complacency’ Update 2:25 p.m. EST Feb. 20: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday that recent declines in the number of new coronavirus cases being reported in China were encouraging, but he warned, “this is no time for complacency.” As pf 6 a.m. Geneva time Thursday, 74,675 people in China and 1,076 people in order parts of the world had been sickened by coronavirus, according to WHO. Officials said 2,121 people in China and seven people outside of the country have died thus far of the viral infection. 'This is the time to attack the virus while it is manageable,” Tedros said, according to The Washington Post. “You will get sick of me saying that the window of opportunity remains open for us to contain this COVID-19 outbreak.” CDC warns travels to take precautions for travel to Japan, Hong Kong Update 12:20 p.m. EST Feb. 20: The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new coronavirus-related travel advisories Thursday for Americans visiting Japan or Hong Kong. The advisories warned travelers to avoid contact with sick people, avoid touching their eyes, noses or mouths with their unwashed hands and recommended using soap and water often to wash hands for at least 20 seconds. Officials said Thursday that it remained unnecessary to postpone or cancel trips to Japan or Hong Kong due to the virus. However, the CDC advisories noted “multiple instances of community spread' in both locales, meaning people “have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known.” Officials with the CDC previously issued an advisory warning travelers to avoid non-essential travel to China. According to Japanese health officials, authorities have seen 73 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country. One person in Japan has died of the viral infection. Health official in Hong Kong have confirmed 65 cases of coronavirus. Japan reports 12 new coronavirus cases, Singapore confirms 1 more  Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 20: Officials in Japan have reported a dozen new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, CNN reported, citing the Japanese health ministry. The new cases include two government officials who worked on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to CNN. Thousands of people were quarantined on the ship for two weeks as it was docked off the coast of Japan due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection.  Officials with the Singapore Ministry of Health said Thursday that a new case of coronavirus had been confirmed in the country. The case, involving a 36-year-old Chinese national who was in Singapore on a work pass, is the 85th reported in Singapore.  Global death toll hits 2,126  Update 7:40 a.m. EST Feb. 20: More than 2,120 people have died globally and thousands of others have fallen ill due to the 2019 novel coronavirus, according to multiple reports.  At least 2,126 people globally have died from coronavirus, CNN reported Thursday. A majority of the deaths have been reported in China, where health officials announced 114 more deaths and 394 more confirmed cases of the illness. Overall, 75,730 coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, including 74,576 in China, according to CNN.
  • Friday morning, a Volusia County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a disturbance in the Ormond-by-the-Sea municipality on Florida’s East Coast. They were dispatched at the request of 28 year old Kayla Kangas’ landlord, asked to handle a dispute between the two over late rent payments. When the deputy arrived, Kangas was gone; soon after, dispatchers sent the deputy to investigate a robbery-in-progress at a Publix on Ocean Shore Boulevard. An employee told police that a woman in her 20’s approached the customer service desk with a note demanding money, leaving with an undisclosed amount. During the search, the deputy who had come from Kangas’ home decided to backtrack, calling the landlord and asking if Kangas had returned while they were away. Not only had she, but the landlord said Kangas came back immediately after the deputy left, picking up her boyfriend and leaving “like a bat out of hell.” Police reviewed surveillance footage and put the pieces together, coordinating a traffic stop. Kangas was found driving on Ocean Shore Boulevard and arrested. The 28 year old was charged with robbery and grand theft, taken to the Volusia County Jail, and is held on $10,000 bail.
  • A 6-year-old was shot and killed while he was riding in a car with his family in St. Louis, authorities said. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the shooting occurred about 1:45 p.m. Saturday as a couple and three children traveled along Euclid Avenue in the vehicle, St. Louis police said. An armed man opened fire from the other side of the street at a nearby intersection, striking the boy and his 9-year-old sister, police said. The gunfire also shattered glass, injuring the children's mother, authorities said. The man who was driving the car took the children to a nearby hospital, where the 6-year-old boy died and his 9-year-old sister was in critical condition, the Post-Dispatch reported. Authorities have not announced any arrests in the case. No further information was immediately available. Read more here.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol said witnesses saw a woman hanging from a black pickup truck for a several hundred feet while it drove on I-75 in Alachua County Saturday evening. They told police the woman fell from the truck and was run over by its right rear tire. The truck, which is believed to be a black early 2000′s Ford F-250 or F-350 Super Duty, was seen exiting at 39th Avenue off I-75 South afterwards. Witnesses saw a while male with short dark hair driving. They also said he was swerving on the grass shoulder of I-75 with the woman hanging from the door of his truck before she fell off. FHP said the woman was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Anyone who saw this happen or knows information about the incident should contact Crime Stoppers at (352)372-STOP or FHP Communications Center at 1-800-387-1290 or * FHP.
  • Even though it feels like we just got out of it, we are now less than 4 months away from the 2020 hurricane season. Thinking ahead, the National Hurricane Center has released the storm names for this year. The first one for this year will be named Arthur. Following that is Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Eduoard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.  Last year's season saw the formation of its first named storm before June 1st, as well as 18 named storms in total. Hurricane season kicks off June 1st and lasts through November 30th. If you are new to Florida and hurricanes, it is recommended that you prepare ahead of time to avoid running low or being unable to stock up on essential supplies.  We have everything you need to know to prepare for this year's hurricane season here. Also, be sure to download the News 96.5 WDBO app and have your push notifications enabled so you can stay on top of all breaking, weather, and traffic related news.

Washington Insider

  • A day after finishing well behind Bernie Sanders in the Nevada Caucuses, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg received a rousing reception at an outdoor rally in Virginia, one of the fourteen Super Tuesday states where Buttigieg will need a boost to insure he has some major influence in coming weeks in the Democratic race for President. 'Our numbers have grown a little bit,' Buttigieg said to cheers, as thousands gathered on the football field at Washington-Liberty High School, not far across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. 'We're running on adrenaline,' Buttigieg added, detailing how had hop scotched his way from Nevada to Colorado, to South Carolina for church this morning, and then here in the Old Dominion for his Sunday afternoon rally. In his speech, Buttigieg quickly turned his fire on front runner Bernie Sanders, who seems likely to be targeted on Tuesday night, in the next Democratic debate in Charleston, South Carolina. 'I respect my friend Sen. Sanders,' Buttigieg said. 'But I also believe that the way we will build the movement to defeat Donald Trump is to call people into our tent, not to call them names on line.' 'This is where I view things a little differently than Sen. Sanders,' Buttigieg said later in his speech. 'I don't believe we can allow ourselves to get to the point where it feels like fighting is the point.' As Buttigieg took the stage in Arlington, 60 percent of the precincts were reporting from the Nevada Caucuses a day earlier - and as the sun went down, the numbers only got worse for anyone not named Sanders. “I believe we call that a rout,” said elections analyst Kyle Kondik. With 72 percent reporting, Sanders was at 47.5 percent, Biden at 20.8 percent, while Buttigieg trailed well back in third at 13.8 percent. 'We cannot wait four years,' Buttigieg said of the drive by Democrats to oust President Trump. 'We can't wait nine days!' someone in the crowd shouted back, referring to Super Tuesday. Buttigieg also used his stop in the Washington area to raise money for his campaign, needing a boost as this race goes more national over the next week. The candidates for the Democratic nomination will gather on Tuesday in Charleston, South Carolina for their next debate; South Carolina holds a primary on Saturday. Super Tuesday follows the next Tuesday, on March 3, as 14 states will vote, with Sanders seen as a top finisher in most of those contests. Buttigieg and other challengers to Sanders will host a series of events in Charleston on Monday on the eve of the debate. Then, the race will start to explode outside of the borders of the Palmetto State, as after the debate, Buttigieg will go to Florida on Wednesday for a series of fundraising events. Florida does not vote until March 17, two weeks after Super Tuesday. Buttigieg's good turnout on Sunday came after Elizabeth Warren drew 4,000 not far from here in Virginia last week - another signal that Democratic voters are desperate to find someone to take on, and defeat, President Trump in November. 'America is ready for Pete,' said Kyle Rumpler, a Buttigieg organizer. For now, Buttigieg is in second place in the delegate race, but Super Tuesday could bring some big changes.