Bernie Sanders Drops Out Of Presidential Race, Ceding Nomination To Biden

Bernie Sanders suspends presidential campaign

The senator had a series of poor showings in Democratic primaries around the country, ending hopes for a progressive challenger to President Donald Trump.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) ended his bid for the White House on Wednesday, effectively handing the Democratic nomination to former Vice President Joe Biden and ending hopes that a progressive challenger would take on President Donald Trump in November.

Sanders announced the news on a conference call with campaign staffers, and then tweeted about it later Wednesday morning. 

“Together we have transformed American consciousness as to what kind of nation we can become,” he said in a livestream to supporters. He thanked the “hundreds of thousands” of campaign volunteers, crediting them with being able to “run a major presidential campaign without being reliant on the wealthy and powerful.”

The senator was seen as a front-runner in the Democratic race, surging to the top of the polls before a series of poor showings on Super Tuesday and subsequent primaries in March. After a series of big losses to Biden, all campaigning virtually ground to a halt due to social distancing restrictions put in place to help ease the strain of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many leading Democrats and onetime candidates had thrown their weight behind Biden after ending their own bids, including former mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Cory Booker (N.J.); and billionaire Mike Bloomberg. The support for his competitor left the Sanders campaign reeling with limited options to secure enough delegates going into the Democratic National Convention, which was delayed until August because of coronavirus.

By late March, Sanders acknowledged that his path to the Democratic nomination was “narrow,” but he still insisted he still had a shot and even called for an April debate. 

Biden rejected the suggestion, saying that the time for debate was over.

“I think we should get on with this,” he said at a March 25 news conference. 

Biden had pitched himself as the most electable candidate, and polls showed that Democrats were, indeed, primarily interested in finding a candidate who could take out Trump ― even if they didn’t agree with that person on every issue. 

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Black People Are Dying Of COVID-19 at Alarming Rates. Here’s Why.

COVID-19 Is Reportedly Killing African Americans at Higher Rates ...

Persistent inequities exacerbate the impact of coronavirus

Greg Bowens stopped counting when seven people he knew well had died of COVID-19. New names kept coming up on his social media feed, day after day.

“How is it possible that I would know this many people who had died?” Bowens, a 55-year-old public relations professional and founder of the Grosse Pointe/Harper Woods NAACP Branch, recalled thinking to himself. 

That was before Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services started releasing official data showing the racial breakdown of cases and deaths on April 2. That data showed that, although just 14% of the population of Michigan is Black, 33% of coronavirus cases and 41% of deaths were in the Black community. It was little surprise to Bowens and other African Americans in Detroit, who had been witnessing the people around them falling sick and dying for several weeks. 

The metro area’s first high-profile African American death was Marlowe Stoudamire, a well-connected business consultant, on March 26. Then there was a popular high school basketball coach. School district employees. A city bus driver who had taken to social media to complain about a passenger coughing on him. One woman lost her aunt the same day she rushed her mother and grandmother to the emergency room. Her grandmother died a week later. Her mother is on a ventilator and is expected to recover.

The state’s data is incomplete, as 30% of cases do not list the person’s race. But a nearly complete data set from Washtenaw County showed a similar trend, with African Americans accounting for 49% of hospitalizations but only 12.3% of the population.

In Michigan, it’s not just Detroit. And it’s not just poverty. Though Detroit is 80% Black with a poverty rate of roughly 35% ― more than triple the national average ― other, more affluent suburbs with substantial African American populations are also getting hit hard.

“Black people who are middle class and upper-middle class are getting this and dying,” said Bowens. “And the only thing that folks in Southfield, Detroit, Eastpointe, Harper Woods and other places have in common is that they’re Black.”

It’s also not just Michigan. Though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t release coronavirus data by race, city and state data indicates that COVID-19 cases are heavily concentrated in the Black population. In Chicago, 23% of residents are Black but account for 58% of COVID-19 deaths. In Milwaukee, Blacks are roughly one-quarter of the population and roughly one-half of COVID-19 cases. In Louisiana, 7 out of 10 COVID-19 victims have been Black. Coronavirus hot spots include a number of cities with large nonwhite populations, such as New Orleans and Detroit, as well as the majority-minority New York City boroughs of Queens and the Bronx.

Though just 14% of the population of Michigan is Black, 33% of coronavirus cases and 41% of deaths were in the Black communit
Though just 14% of the population of Michigan is Black, 33% of coronavirus cases and 41% of deaths were in the Black community.

‘We Haven’t Dealt With Social Inequality’

Sociologists and epidemiologists say that nearly every condition that increases patients’ vulnerability to coronavirus — from asthma to diabetes to HIV — appears at higher rates in the Black population.  

“We haven’t dealt with social inequality in America, whether in education or job or incomes,” said Hedwig Lee, a sociology professor at Washington University in St. Louis who studies racial disparities in health. “We knew that groups with pre-existing health vulnerabilities would have a higher risk of death. But still, it’s sobering to see the numbers.”

African Americans have twice the rate of heart disease, stroke and diabetes compared to Caucasians. They suffer from heart failure, asthma and hypertension at higher rates and earlier in their lives. Over decades, these disparities have compounded a life expectancy that is four years shorter for Black Americans than for whites. 

“We know that differences in education and job opportunities lead to chronic health problems in the long term, but the coronavirus is showing that they lead to health problems in the short term, too,” Lee said. 

The Black community may also have vulnerabilities that make its members uniquely susceptible to COVID-19. African Americans are less likely to have jobs that allow them to work from home and more likely to use public transportation. Black families are more likely to live in multi-generational households, potentially exposing elderly relatives to the virus. Black neighborhoods are more likely to be “health care deserts” — neighborhoods without doctors or medical clinics — which may have limited access to tests in the early days of the pandemic.

“A lot of people have service work jobs, and they make small wages,” said Pastor Barry Randolph, who leads the Church of the Messiah in Detroit’s Islandview neighborhood and has seen dozens of his parishioners fall victim to the virus. “People are living together in the same house to be able to stay afloat, and there’s children and maybe seniors, and everybody’s in the house, and so if it affects one, it’s going to affect everybody.”

Residents of the Bronx, which is majority Black and Latino, appear to have roughly the same likelihood of catching COVID-19 a
Residents of the Bronx, which is majority Black and Latino, appear to have roughly the same likelihood of catching COVID-19 as the rest of New York City but twice the chance of dying. 

Compounding Vulnerabilities

So far, the data emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic indicates that, although African Americans are slightly more likely to contract the virus, they are much more likely to die of it. In Milwaukee, for example, African Americans make up half of coronavirus cases but 81% of deaths. Residents of the Bronx, which is majority Black and Latino, appear to have roughly the same likelihood of catching COVID-19 as the rest of New York City — but twice the chance of dying.   

“COVID-19 is a perfect storm for people dealing with a lot of adversity,” said David R. Williams, a Harvard University professor who researches race and health. 

This striking disparity follows a nearly identical pattern of other health conditions: Even when Blacks and whites suffer from diseases at the same rates, African Americans have higher mortality rates. Black people with diabetes, for example, are more likely to die of complications than white people with diabetes. African Americans are roughly 30% more likely to be diagnosed with hypertension than whites but up to 300% more likely to die of a stroke. The same goes for mental illness: Though Blacks suffer from major depression less than whites, their condition is more likely to be severe, disabling and untreated.

Think about the phrase ‘I can’t breathe’ in reference to COVID-19 and consider where we’ve heard that before.Hedwig Lee, Washington University sociologist

Much of this disparity can be explained through differential access to health care. Williams noted that African Americans are less likely to have health insurance and pay higher copays and deductibles even when they do. Black patients are less likely to receive preventative screenings and wait longer for care after testing positive for cancer, HIV and diet-related diseases. They are also more likely to receive care from doctors who aren’t board certified.  

“African Americans lack access to health care, and when they do get it, they get worse care,” he said. 

Stress also plays a role. Over the last decade, numerous studies have documented that anticipating racial discrimination triggers a nervous system response that increases minorities’ vulnerability to chronic disease. 

“Vigilance around being discriminated against creates wear and tear in the body,” Lee said. “That affects mental and physical health and immune function in ways that could lead to higher risk of getting COVID-19 and having complications.”

Policies such as educational and housing segregation and mass incarceration likely contributed to the higher COVID-19 deaths
Policies such as educational and housing segregation and mass incarceration likely contributed to the higher COVID-19 deaths rates among African Americans.

A Familiar Pattern 

COVID-19 is just the latest episode in a decades-long trend of deliberate neglect of the health of America’s Black population. Williams pointed out that in 1950, Blacks had roughly the same rates of coronary disease as whites and better cancer survival rates. But as mortality improved among whites, it stagnated among African Americans. 

“This is the result of a set of social policies working as designed,” Williams said, noting that many of the cities with major COVID-19 outbreaks — Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee — are not just heavily Black but also heavily segregated. “Racial differences are linked to opportunity at the neighborhood level. African Americans are not doing poorly because of their genes, they’re doing poorly because of the policies we’ve created that constrain their access to resources.”

Former Detroit Health Department Director Abdul El Sayed said he hopes the coronavirus will encourage America to face up not only to its inequitable history and social policies but also to the fallacy of its ethos of rugged individualism. 

“We have to get away from this behavioral agency frame, which says that the reason that some people suffer more than others is because of choice,” said El Sayed. “Oftentimes we frame the narrative from a position of privilege, and the thing that privilege allows you to do is have a choice. And the thing about poverty is it takes the choices away.”

Bowens believes state and local governments must be more proactive and direct in their communication with African American communities. He wrote an opinion article calling on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to customize COVID-19 messaging and tactics, like using cellphone providers to deliver text messages and working with churches and urban radio stations. 

This is the result of a set of social policies working as designed.David R. Williams, Harvard professor

Solving the COVID-19 racial gap will also require a dedicated effort to document the disparity. Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told reporters on a conference call Monday that the CDC collects information on the race of COVID-19 victims but does not release the data to the public. 

Other reports indicate that local health agencies are systematically underreporting deaths due to coronavirus, which is likely to have a racial dimension as well: Lee noted that patients who don’t seek care, are denied tests or are turned away from emergency rooms may not show up in the death statistics. 

“We know racial and ethnic minorities are likely to be treated differently by the health care system, especially during high-stress situations where people have to make quick decisions, which is what’s happening right now,” she said.

Understanding the racial effects of the coronavirus requires acknowledging the unique vulnerabilities of the Black community and why those vulnerabilities exist. 

“Black people are dying now because of COVID-19, but before, they were dying because of other conditions,” she said. “Think about the phrase ‘I can’t breathe’ in reference to COVID-19 and consider where we’ve heard that before.”

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Barack Obama takes rare public swipe at Trump over coronavirus response

The 2020 Democrats Compete to Reject Barack Obama's Legacy - WSJ

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday called out President Donald Trump’s widely criticized handling of the coronavirus pandemic, urging voters to “demand better of our government.”

“We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic,” Obama tweeted. “We can’t afford any more consequences of climate denial. All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall,” he added.

Obama did not mention Trump by name in the tweet.

However, Trump has been fiercely rebuked over his initial downplaying of the threat of the virus. He has previously called climate change a “hoax” and his administration has pursued an anti-environment agenda.

Trump has also sought to blame Obama for his own government’s botched response to the public health crisis that has sickened more than 188,000 people in the U.S. and killed upwards of 4,000. The U.S. now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country in the world.

Obama linked to a Los Angeles Times article documenting the Trump White House’s rollback of Obama-era fuel economy standards with his tweet.

Dr. Birx predicts up to 200,000 coronavirus deaths 'if we do things almost perfectly'

Phil Burgess: Deborah Birx is the grandmother coordinating the ...

The White House coronavirus response coordinator said Monday that she is "very worried about every city in the United States" and projects 100,000 to 200,000 American deaths as a best case scenario.

In an interview on "TODAY," Dr. Deborah Birx painted a grim message about the expected fatalities, echoing that without doing any measures they could hit as high as 2.2 million, as coronavirus cases continue to climb throughout the U.S.

"I think everyone understands now that you can go from five to 50 to 500 to 5000 cases very quickly," Birx said.

"I think in some of the metro areas we were late in getting people to follow the 15-day guidelines" she added.

Birx said the projections by Dr. Anthony Fauci that U.S. deaths could range from 1.6 million to 2.2 million deaths is a worst case scenario if the country did "nothing" to contain the outbreak, but said even "if we do things almost perfectly," she still predicts up to 200,000 U.S. death

On Sunday, Birx said on "Meet the Press" that "no state, no metro area will be spared," a message she reiterated on Monday. Even if metro or rural areas don't see the virus in the community now, by the time it does appear, the outbreak will be significant, she added.

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Joseph Lowery, civil rights leader and MLK aide, dies at 98

Civil Rights Icon Rev. Joseph Lowery passes away at age 98

The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery fought to end segregation, lived to see the election of the country’s first black president and echoed the call for “justice to roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” in America.

For more than four decades after the death of his friend and civil rights icon, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the fiery Alabama preacher was on the front line of the battle for equality, with an unforgettable delivery that rivaled King’s — and was often more unpredictable. Lowery had a knack for cutting to the core of the country’s conscience with commentary steeped in scripture, refusing to back down whether the audience was a Jim Crow racist or a U.S. president.

“We ask you toahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right,” Lowery prayed at President Barack Obama’s inaugural benediction in 2009.

Lowery, 98, died Friday at home in Atlanta, surrounded by family members, they said in a statement.

He died from natural causes unrelated to the coronavirus outbreak, the statement said.

“Tonight, the great Reverend Joseph E. Lowery transitioned from earth to eternity,” The King Center in Atlanta remembered Lowery in a Friday night tweet. “He was a champion for civil rights, a challenger of injustice, a dear friend to the King family.”

Lowery led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for two decades — restoring the organization’s financial stability and pressuring businesses not to trade with South Africa’s apartheid-era regime — before retiring in 1997.

Considered the dean of civil rights veterans, he lived to celebrate a November 2008 milestone that few of his movement colleagues thought they would ever witness — the election of an African-American president.

At an emotional victory celebration for President-elect Barack Obama in Atlanta, Lowery said, "America tonight is in the process of being born again."

An early and enthusiastic supporter of Obama over then-Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, Lowery also gave the benediction at Obama's inauguration.

"We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union,” he said.

In 2009, Obama awarded Lowery the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

In another high-profile moment, Lowery drew a standing ovation at the 2006 funeral of King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, when he criticized the war in Iraq, saying, "For war, billions more, but no more for the poor." The comment also drew head shakes from then-President George Bush and his father, former president George H.W. Bush, who were seated behind the pulpit.

Lowery's involvement in civil rights grew naturally out of his Christian faith. He often preached that racial discrimination in housing, employment and health care was at odds with such fundamental Christian values as human worth and the brotherhood of man.

"I've never felt your ministry should be totally devoted to making a heavenly home. I thought it should also be devoted to making your home here heavenly," he once said.

Lowery remained active in fighting issues such as war, poverty and racism long after retirement, and survived prostate cancer and throat surgery after he beat Jim Crow.

His wife, Evelyn Gibson Lowery, who worked alongside her husband of nearly 70 years and served as head of SCLC/WOMEN, died in 2013.

“I’ll miss you, Uncle Joe. You finally made it up to see Aunt Evelyn again,” King's daughter, Bernice King, said in a tweet Friday night.

Lowery was pastor of the Warren Street Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama, in the 1950s when he met King, who then lived in Montgomery, Alabama. Lowery’s meetings with King, the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy and other civil rights activists led to the SCLC’s formation in 1957. The group became a leading force in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.

Lowery became SCLC president in 1977 following the resignation of Abernathy, who had taken the job after King was assassinated in 1968. He took over an SCLC that was deeply in debt and losing members rapidly. Lowery helped the organization survive and guided it on a new course that embraced more mainstream social and economic policies.

Coretta Scott King once said Lowery "has led more marches and been in the trenches more than anyone since Martin."

He was arrested in 1983 in North Carolina for protesting the dumping of toxic wastes in a predominantly black county and in 1984 in Washington while demonstrating against apartheid.

He recalled a 1979 confrontation in Decatur, Alabama, when he and others were protesting the case of a mentally disabled black man charged with rape. He recalled that bullets whizzed inches above their heads and a group of Klan members confronted them.

"I could hear them go 'whoosh,'" Lowery said. "I'll never forget that. I almost died 24 miles from where I was born."

In the mid-1980s, he led a boycott that persuaded the Winn-Dixie grocery chain to stop selling South African canned fruit and frozen fish when that nation was in the grip of apartheid.

He also continued to urge blacks to exercise their hard-won rights by registering to vote.

"Black people need to understand that the right to vote was not a gift of our political system but came as a result of blood, sweat and tears," he said in 1985.

Like King, Lowery juggled his civil rights work with ministry. He pastored United Methodist churches in Atlanta for decades and continued preaching long after retiring.

Born in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1921, Joseph Echols Lowery grew up in a Methodist church where his great-grandfather, the Rev. Howard Echols, was the first black pastor. Lowery’s father, a grocery store owner, often protested racism in the community.

After college, Lowery edited a newspaper and taught school in Birmingham, but the idea of becoming a minister "just kept gnawing and gnawing at me," he said. After marrying Evelyn Gibson, a Methodist preacher’s daughter, he began his first pastorate in Birmingham in 1948.

In a 1998 interview, Lowery said he was optimistic that true racial equality would one day be achieved.

"I believe in the final triumph of righteousness," he said. "The Bible says weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

A member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Lowery is survived by his three daughters, Yvonne Kennedy, Karen Lowery and Cheryl Lowery-Osborne.

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