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10 things you need to know today: February 26, 2020

CDC warns "disruption" from coronavirus will reach the U.S., Democrats clash in last debate before Super Tuesday, and more


CDC: 'Disruption' from coronavirus outbreak will reach U.S.

U.S. citizens should prepare for "disruption" from the coronavirus outbreak to spread to American cities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday. "It's not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. It is too soon to say how severe an outbreak in the U.S. will be, Messonnier said, so public health officials "are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad." The secretary of health and human services, Alex Azar, offered a similarly sobering assessment of the threat of the virus, which still centered in China but has started spreading faster in some other countries. "This is an unprecedented, potentially severe health challenge globally," Azar said.


Democratic rivals go after frontrunner Sanders in chaotic debate

Several rival Democratic presidential candidates criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a chaotic debate Tuesday night in Charleston, South Carolina, trying to chip away at his momentum ahead of the state's Saturday primary and next week's Super Tuesday. Billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said nominating Sanders would be a "catastrophe," because Republicans would have a field day attacking the self-avowed democratic socialist. "Bernie will lose to Donald Trump, and … the House and the Senate and some of the statehouses will all go red," Bloomberg said. Sanders said he can deliver the "unprecedented grassroots movement" Democrats need to beat Trump. The debate was mostly defined by the candidates interrupting or talking over each other in a final push to get their messages out.


Trump calls for Sotomayor, Ginsburg recusals on 'Trump related matters'

President Trump on Tuesday criticized Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, tweeting that they are biased against conservatives and should recuse themselves from cases involving him. Sotomayor recently issued a dissent critical of the willingness of the court's conservative majority to grant the Trump administration's frequent requests for "emergency" relief when its policies are blocked by lower courts. "She never criticized Justice Ginsberg when she called me a 'faker,'" Trump wrote. "Both should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related matters!" Trump has repeatedly attacked judges whose decisions he disagreed with. Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said Sotomayor was correctly noting that the Trump administration had requested "emergency" relief far more frequently than other administrations.


Iranian deputy health minister infected with coronavirus

Iran's deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, said Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and placed himself under quarantine. Harirchi held a news conference a day earlier and appeared unwell as he said severe measures to isolate people with the virus were not necessary even though the virus was spreading in the shrine city of Qom. In a video announcing his illness, Harirchi said: "I had a fever yesterday. The tests came back positive last night. I isolated myself ... I'll start taking medicine. Generally, I feel fine." He went on to assure the public that Iran will "defeat" the virus. "Many might get infected, but we have enough effective medicine," he said. "Take care of yourselves."


Former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak dies at 91

Egypt's former autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak died Tuesday at age 91, his son, Alaa Mubarak, announced via Twitter. The former leader ran the country for nearly three decades, surviving attempted assassination, clamping down on Islamist radicals, and maintaining a peace with Israel that had angered Muslim extremists who killed his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, in 1981. Mubarak held onto power until the Arab Spring uprising forced him to hand over power to the military. Mubarak went into seclusion after his resignation before being put on trial on charges that included corruption, abuse of power, and conspiring to kill Arab Spring protesters. He denied the charges, but was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. An appeals court overturned the verdict, and he was cleared in a second trial.


Stocks continue to struggle after worst two-day drop since 2008

U.S. stocks plunged for a second straight day Tuesday, capping their worst two-day loss since 2008. After the Centers for Disease Control issued a dire warning about the likelihood of a coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. that could cause widespread disruption, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 879 points, or nearly 3.2 percent. The S&P 500 fell by about 3 percent. CNBC noted that "the last time the S&P 500 fell more than 3 percent two days in a row was in November of 2008 during the financial crisis," citing Bespoke Investment Group. The day before, the Dow plummeted by 1,031 points or 3.6 percent, its biggest one-day drop in two years. U.S. stock index futures fell early Wednesday. "Investors are clearly expecting more bad news — and rather than wait for it, they are selling," Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, said in a note.


Deadly violence escalates over India citizenship law

Clashes between Hindus and Muslims over a new citizenship law erupted in India Tuesday near where President Trump was meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, overshadowing the conclusion of Trump's two-day visit to the country. Two days of the worst such violence in decades left at least 17 people dead and 150 injured. The riots marked an escalation in tensions over the citizenship law, which makes migrating to India easier for everyone but Muslims. The legislation, part of Modi's push for measures bolstering Hindu primacy, set off two months of peaceful protests by hundreds of thousands of people. Some of the demonstrations have turned violent. The government has responded by storming university campuses and making mass arrests.


Supreme Court rules against Mexican family in cross-border shooting case

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Tuesday that the family of a Mexican teen fatally shot by a U.S. Border Patrol agent from across the U.S.-Mexico border can't sue for damages. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the conservative majority's opinion that the 15-year-old, Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, was not covered by constitutional protection against the use of excessive force because he was on the Mexican side of the border when the bullet struck him. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the Border Control agent was standing in the U.S. when he fired the fatal shot at Hernandez, who had been playing with friends in a culvert that straddled the border, so the teen's "location at the precise moment the bullet landed should not matter one whit."


Bob Iger steps down as Disney's CEO

Disney on Tuesday announced that longtime CEO Bob Iger, who oversaw a banner year for the company in 2019, would be stepping down effective immediately. He will be replaced by Bob Chapek, the parks division head and a 27-year veteran of The Walt Disney Company. Iger, fresh off the successful launch of a new streaming service and box office domination, will assume the role of executive chairman until his contract ends on Dec. 31, 2021. "With the successful launch of Disney's direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of 21st Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO," Iger said in a statement. Iger has headed The Walt Disney Company for the past 15 years.


U.S. soldier in South Korea tests positive for coronavirus

A 23-year-old American soldier based in South Korea has tested positive for the coronavirus, COVID-19, the U.S. military announced Tuesday. The soldier, stationed at Camp Carroll in Waegwan, is the first U.S. service member to be infected with the virus. He is under quarantine at his home, which is off the base. There are 1,146 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Korea, with more than half of the patients living in the city of Daegu. The soldier visited a military base in Daegu on Friday, and then returned to Camp Carroll. There are 28,500 U.S. soldiers stationed in South Korea, and the military said health professionals are "actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether any others may have been exposed."


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