Category: RD News Now

Bahrain temporarily stops Dubai, Sharjah flights over virus

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The tiny island nation of Bahrain suspended flights on Tuesday to the world’s busiest airport for international travel in Dubai over fears about the spread of the new virus.

The move by Bahrain, a small island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, suggested its monarchy had doubts about screenings of incoming passengers in Dubai and nearby Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. It said the ban was immediate and would last at least 48 hours.

Bahrain counted its first case of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness on Monday in a school bus driver who transited Dubai while coming from Iran. Later, it confirmed a second case, also a traveller from Iran via Dubai.

Dubai International Airport did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials at Sharjah’s airport could not be immediately reached.

Dubai has been screening passengers on incoming flights from China, where the outbreak began. Long-haul carriers Emirates and Etihad are among the few international airlines still flying to Beijing. However, the outbreak in Iran only became public in recent days.

Iran’s government said Monday that 12 people had died nationwide from the new coronavirus, rejecting claims of a much higher death toll of 50 by a lawmaker from the city of Qom that has been at the epicenter of the virus in the country. The conflicting reports raised questions about the Iranian government’s transparency concerning the scale of the outbreak.

Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq and Oman also announced their first cases of the virus on Monday and connected them to travel with Iran.

The UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, has reported 13 cases of the new virus. Most of those were connected to Chinese travel.

Meanwhile, Kuwait raised the number of its infected cases from three to five people. All five were passengers returning on a flight from the Iranian city of Mashhad, where Iran’s government has not yet announced a single case of the virus.

The state-run Kuwait News Agency reported the two latest cases on Monday evening in two women whose nationalities were not disclosed. Kuwait had halted over the weekend transport links with Iran and was evacuating its citizens from Iran.

Also, Oman, which has good ties with Iran, has halted flights with its Persian Gulf neighbour.

Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press




Steve Ross, founder of New England Holocaust Memorial, dies

Steve Ross, a Holocaust survivor who founded the New England Holocaust Memorial and spent decades searching for a soldier who helped him at a concentration camp in 1945, died Monday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a tweet.

“Today Boston lost a giant, and the world quite honestly lost a giant,” Walsh said in the tweet. “Here’s a man who could have given up several times in his life and he didn’t. I’m very sad today at the loss of Steve Ross.”

Ross had been in hospice care for the past couple of months, said Roger Lyons, director and producer of a film about Ross. Documents list him as having been 88 years old, but he was believed to be 93, Lyons said.

Ross, who came to America as a refugee orphan after World War II, was known to share his stories of the horrors of Nazi death camps. He is said to have spent five years in 10 different concentration camps as a boy. On at least two occasions, he was marching in a line of prisoners on their way to death when he was able to escape – once by hiding neck-deep in the feces under an outhouse and another time by clinging to the bottom of a train that set into motion, carrying him to another camp, said Tony Bennis, co-producer and editor of the film “Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross.”

Ross was rescued in 1945 from the Dachau concentration camp, where he had an interaction with an American soldier who restored his will to live. The soldier hugged him, gave him food, and handed him a handkerchief that turned out to be a little American flag.

“My father was absolutely transformed by that small act,” Michael Ross, a former Boston City Council president, said in 2017. “It helped him regain his faith in humanity. It shows that these things we do in life have profound consequences. That how we treat each other matters.”

Ross’ search for the soldier was featured on the popular television show “Unsolved Mysteries” in 1989. But it wasn’t until decades later that the family of Lt. Steve Sattler, who died in 1986, connected the dots.

The two families met at a Veterans Day ceremony at the Massachusetts State House in 2012.

Sattler’s granddaughter, Brenda Sattler, who played a key role in making the connection, said in 2017 that the bond forged between the two families was surreal.

“The biggest impact to me is being proud of grandpa for being that soldier,” she said.

After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Ross became a social worker helping children in some of Boston’s toughest housing projects.

Ross had lived in Newton for many years and previously lived in Dorchester and Jamaica Plain, the Boston Globe reported.

In his later years, he would talk to high school students about his Holocaust experience and address swearing-in ceremonies for new U.S. citizens. Dressed in garb similar to what prisoners wore in the death camps, he would faithfully recount the story of the kind soldier and carefully unfurl the American flag handkerchief.

“He spoke to youth so powerfully about the need to combat racism and bigotry,” Bennis said.

The Associated Press


Forest fire near I-80, Appalachian Trail mostly contained

HARDWICK TOWNSHIP, N.J. – A forest fire burning through a popular hiking area that is crossed by the Appalachian Trail and a major interstate highway was about 80% contained by Monday afternoon, New Jersey fire officials said.

The fire began Sunday afternoon on Mount Tammany, a steep, rugged area of New Jersey’s Worthington State Forest and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area on the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border. Fire officials said about 80 acres (30 hectares) had burned by Monday.

A helicopter and 40 firefighters were working to put the fire out Monday, officials said. Greg McLaughlin, chief of the New Jersey Forest Fires Service, said no injuries have been reported.

A cause for the fire had not been determined, officials said.

Chris Franek, the state forest fire service’s assistant division fire warden, said fires on similar terrain usually burn upward but that Sunday’s fire, which started below a trail at an elevation of about 1,400 feet burned downhill because the trail area is rocky and without abundant vegetation. He said fires are rare there at this time of year because the area usually has a layer of snow.

Incident Commander Eric Weber told WFMZ-TV the ground crews operating at night had to contend with difficult terrain. A helicopter dropped water on the fire Sunday, officials said.

“It’s pretty steep and rugged,” Weber said. “It’s probably the steepest terrain in the entire state of New Jersey.”

Pictures and video shared Sunday on social media showed a wall of flames not far from Interstate 80, which carries traffic to and from New York City and goes through the water gap. It was backed up in both directions.

Some delays were reported during the Monday morning commute, but officials said the highway was open in both directions. They warned, though, that smoky conditions would likely remain until at least Tuesday and flames would also be visible.

The fire broke out on a sunny February day that saw unusually mild. The Appalachian Trail crosses through the recreation area, but remained open Monday afternoon.

The Associated Press









White House unveils $2.5B emergency coronavirus plan

WASHINGTON – The White House on Monday sent lawmakers an urgent $2.5 billion plan to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak, whose rapid spread and threat to the global economy rocked financial markets.

The White House budget office said the funds are for vaccines, treatment and protective equipment. The request was immediately slammed by Democrats as insufficient and came as coronavirus fears were credited with Monday’s 1,000-plus point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and are increasingly seen as a potential political threat to President Donald Trump.

The request was released Monday evening and came as key government accounts were running low. The Department of Health and Human Services had already tapped into an emergency infectious disease rapid response fund and was seeking to transfer more than $130 million from other HHS accounts to combat the virus but is pressing for more.

“Today, the Administration is transmitting to Congress a $2.5 billion supplemental funding plan to accelerate vaccine development, support preparedness and response activities and to procure much needed equipment and supplies,” said White House budget office spokeswoman Rachel Semmel. “We are also freeing up existing resources and allowing for greater flexibilities for response activities.”

The administration is requesting $1.25 billion in new funding and wants to transfer $535 million more in funding from an Ebola preparedness account that’s been a top priority of Democrats. It anticipates shifting money from other HHS accounts and other agencies to complete the $2.5 billion response plan.

Senators returning to Washington after a weeklong recess will receive a classified briefing Tuesday morning on the government’s coronavirus response, a Senate aide said. A spokeswoman for Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said the panel “will take their input into account as we continue to do our due diligence to determine what additional resources are necessary.”

Democrats said the request was insufficient and that Trump’s attempt to go after existing Ebola prevention funding was dead on arrival.

“All of the warning lights are flashing bright red. We are staring down a potential pandemic and the administration has no plan,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who blasted a shortage of kits to test for the virus and President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts to health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We have a crisis of coronavirus and President Trump has no plan, no urgency, no understanding of the facts or how to co-ordinate a response.”

Trump was a vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s response to the 2014 Ebola scare, which barely touched the U.S. but was seen as a factor in that year’s midterm elections, which restored control of the Senate to Republicans.

Trump took to Twitter Monday to defend his record.

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” he tweeted.

Among the needs is funding to reimburse the Pentagon, which is housing evacuees from China – who are required to undergo 14-day quarantines – at several military bases in California.

Democrats controlling the House wrote HHS Secretary Alex Azar earlier this month to request funds to help speed development of a coronavirus vaccine, expand laboratory capacity, and beef up screening efforts at U.S. entry points.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., called the plan “woefully insufficient.”

“Despite urgent warnings from Congress and the public health community, the Trump administration took weeks to request these emergency funds,” Lowey said in a statement. “Their answer now is to raid money Congress has designated for other critical public health priorities.”

Azar is slated to testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, and the U.S. response to the outbreak is sure to be a major topic.

The quickly spreading virus has slammed the economy of China, where the virus originated, and caseloads are rapidly increasing in countries such as South Korea, Iran, and Italy. Almost 80,000 people have contracted the disease, with more than 2,500 deaths, mostly in China.

The United States, however, has had only 14 cases of the disease spread across seven states.

In San Francisco, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a walking tour of Chinatown on Monday to let the public know the neighbourhood is safe and open for business.

Pelosi, a Democrat who represents the heavily Chinese American city, visited the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, whose owner Kevin Chan, says his business and others are down 70% since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“ome to Chinatown,” Pelosi said. “Precautions have been taken by our city, we know that there’s concern about tourism, travelling all throughout the world, but we think it’s very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come.”

In a statement Monday night, Pelosi called the president’s request “long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency.” She said the House would advance “a strong, strategic funding package that fully addresses the scale and seriousness of this public health crisis.”

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Associated Press writer Janie Har in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press







New virus has infected over 80,000 people globally

A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 80,000 people globally. The World Health Organization has named the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it.

The latest figures reported by each government’s health authority as of Tuesday in Beijing:

– Mainland China: 2,663 deaths among 77,658 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei

– Hong Kong: 81 cases, 2 deaths

– Macao: 10 cases

– Japan: 850 cases, including 691 from a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, 4 deaths

– South Korea: 893 cases, 8 deaths

– Italy: 229 cases, 7 deaths

– Singapore: 89 cases

– Iran: 61 cases, 12 deaths

– United States: 35 cases; separately, 1 U.S. citizen died in China

– Thailand: 35 cases

– Taiwan: 30 cases, 1 death

– Australia: 23 cases

– Malaysia: 22

– Vietnam: 16 cases

– Germany: 16

– France: 12 cases, 1 death

– United Arab Emirates: 13 cases

– United Kingdom: 13

– Canada: 11

– Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death

– Kuwait: 3 cases

– India: 3

– Russia: 2

– Spain: 2

– Israel: 2

– Oman: 2

– Bahrain: 1

– Lebanon: 1

– Belgium: 1

– Nepal: 1

– Sri Lanka: 1

– Sweden: 1

– Cambodia: 1

– Finland: 1

– Egypt: 1

– Afghanistan: 1

The Associated Press

Crackdown on immigrants who use public benefits takes effect

PHOENIX – Pastor Antonio Velasquez says that before the Trump administration announced a crackdown on immigrants using government social services, people lined up before sunrise outside a state office in a largely Latino Phoenix neighbourhood to sign up for food stamps and Medicaid.

No more.

“You had to arrive at 3 in the morning, and it might take you until the end of the day,” he said, pointing behind the office in the Maryvale neighbourhood to show how long the lines got.

But no one lined up one recent weekday morning, and there were just a handful of people inside.

With new rules taking effect Monday that disqualify more people from green cards if they use government benefits, droves of immigrants, including citizens and legal residents, have dropped social services they or their children may be entitled to out of fear they will be kicked out of the U.S., said Velazquez and other advocates.

“This will bring more poverty, more homeless, more illness,” said Velasquez, a well-known leader among Spanish-speaking immigrants in the Phoenix area.

Advocates around the U.S. gathered Monday to discuss and criticize the policy.

Participants at a New York City roundtable said that in anticipation of the change, neighbourhoods with higher immigrant populations had seen enrolment declines in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC. They also urged immigrants to get legal advice on how they may be affected.

In Boston, the Rev. Dieufort Fleurissaint said some Haitian immigrants worry that accepting benefits could keep their relatives from coming to the U.S.

Bethany Li, of Greater Boston Legal Services, said Chinese families are passing on WIC benefits not covered by the new rules.

The guidelines that aim to determine whether immigrants seeking legal residency may become a government burden are part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to reduce immigration, particularly among poorer people.

The rules that critics say amount to a “wealth test” were set to take effect in October but were delayed by legal challenges alleging a violation of due process under the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court last month cleared the way for the Trump administration to move forward while the rules were litigated in the courts.

A 5-4 vote Friday by the high court sided with the Trump administration by lifting a last injunction covering just Illinois, giving White House adviser Stephen Miller and other hardliners a resounding win in one of their boldest attempts to limit legal immigration.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a blistering dissent, criticizing the administration for quickly turning to the Supreme Court after facing losses in lower courts and suggesting that her conservative colleagues handled the litigation inconsistently in their desire to give Trump a victory.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Saturday that the change will “reestablish the fundamental legal principle that newcomers to our society should be financially self-reliant and not dependent on the largess of United States taxpayers.”

Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy Homeland Security secretary, said Monday on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” that the change is “not a moral judgment on individuals, it is an economic one.”

He said the government expects “people seeking to be long-term immigrants here, and maybe join us as citizens, will be able to stand on their own two feet.” He said the rules were “a major priority for the president.”

Federal law already requires those seeking permanent residency or legal status to prove they will not be a burden to the U.S. – a “public charge,” in government lingo. But the new rules include a wider range of programs that could disqualify them, including using Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers.

The chilling effect spreading through immigrant communities recalls how millions of refugees dumped social services during the welfare changes of the 1990s, even though the legislation that prompted the cuts explicitly exempted them.

Nazanin Ash, Washington-based vice-president for global policy and advocacy for the non-profit International Rescue Committee, pointed to research showing some 37 per cent of refugees exempted from the Clinton-era changes in welfare benefits dropped food stamps they were entitled to.

Ash said the Trump administration rules would likely cause similar hardships for immigrants who contribute to the American economy.

“To call them a burden on society is factually incorrect,” she said.

The non-profit Migration Policy Institute in Washington said in an August policy paper that it expects “a significant share” of the nearly 23 million noncitizens and U.S. citizens in immigrant families who use public benefits will drop them.

Julia Gelatt, a senior policy analyst with the institute, said the guidelines are so complicated that there have even been reports of parents dropping their kids’ free school lunches, which are not affected.

Gelatt noted that the rules apply only to social services used after Monday and do not affect citizens or most green card holders. Refugees vetted by federal agencies before their arrival, as well as people who obtain asylum, are not affected.

The guidelines don’t apply to many programs for children and pregnant and postnatal women, including Head Start early childhood education and WIC.

Nevertheless, Stephanie Santiago, who manages two Phoenix-area clinics for the non-profit Mountain Park Health Center, said during the last three months of 2019 she suddenly saw scores of immigrants drop those and other benefits.

“People are very scared about the rules,” Santiago said. “The sad thing is that they even drop the services their U.S. citizen kids qualify for. A lot of these kids are going to school sick or their parents are paying out of pocket for services they should get for free.”

Cynthia Aragon, outreach co-ordinator for the non-profit Helping Families in Need in Phoenix, said that because of the confusion, she is steering people to private sources of aid, like food banks and church-run clinics.

“I think people will start applying for government services again after it becomes clearer how things are going to work,” Aragon said. “In the meantime, we tell immigrants to look for some of the other resources out there and don’t feel like a victim.”

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Associated Press writers Philip Marcelo in Boston, Deepti Hajela in New York and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.

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Follow Anita Snow: http://twitter.com/asnowreports

Anita Snow, The Associated Press



Greece: Clashes on islands over new migrant camps

LESBOS, Greece – Clashes have broken out overnight on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios, where residents tried to prevent the arrival of riot police and excavating machines to be used to build migrant detention camps.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds that gathered early Tuesday to try and prevent the ships from docking.

The government says it will move ahead with plans to build the new facilities on appropriated land and has promised to replace existing camps where conditions of severe overcrowding have worsened in recent months.

Many island residents and the local authorities vehemently oppose the plan, arguing that the migrants and asylum seekers should be moved to the Greek mainland.

The Associated Press










As Bernie Sanders surges, Texas liberals take their own shot

SAN ANTONIO – Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren endorsed her, Texas’ largest labour union is on her side andshe surpassed $1 millionin donors. Jessica Cisneros, who at 26 would become the youngest member of Congress, is the best shot liberal activists could’ve taken for a win in the 2020 election.

But it’s not clear that on Super Tuesday, it’ll be what Democratic voters in Texas want.

As Sanders rides high nationally, surging in polls and putting critics on edge about Democrats nominating an avowed democratic socialist to take on President Donald Trump, his success is emboldening a crop of insurgent challengers on the left in Texas. They are backed by more money and bigger names than ever before, and as their rivals taunt them on TV and debate stages ahead of the March 3 primary, it’s proof that some are not being taken lightly.

It has been the playbook for Democrats that ending the GOP’s long hold on Texas would take broadly appealing candidates who could bring in more voters from the centre of the ideological spectrum. But about a half-dozen liberals running from the left in Democratic primaries, in races ranging from big-city prosecutors to U.S. Senate, are also testing Sanders’ calculus that they can energize and turn out more Democrats than the moderates who have failed at the top of the ticket for a generation.

That gambit is attracting heavy doses of skepticism, and invariably, outright dismissal. In Texas, Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton by a 2-to-1 margin in 2016 and voter turnout ranks among the lowest in the U.S., undercutting predictions that a wave of young and minority voters will carry progressive candidates to victory.

But with early voting already underway in Texas, Sanders’ ascendancy in the polls has armed them with a rebuttal.

“Conventional wisdom would say that the most progressive Democratic presidential nominee wouldn’t be leading in the polls in this state,” U.S. Senate candidate Cristina Tzintzn Ramirez said at a debatelast week, referring to Sanders. She is a former labour organizer who has raised more than $1 million, supports a fracking ban in a state where the energy sector is king and is endorsed by Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro.

One of her moderate rivals, state Sen. Royce West, scoffed. “We have to make certain that we have a dose of reality. No Democrat can win by being far left. It’s not going to happen,” he said.

By the end of Super Tuesday, more than one third of all Democratic convention delegates will be awarded. Texas has 261 delegates and is the biggest prize on March 3 behind California, where Sanders’ popularity alone could give him enough delegates to hold off centrist rivals before the party’s national convention in July. If Sanders beats expectations in Texas, he’ll emerge even more formidable.

But his allies in other Texas races have their work cut out, even in places where they’re putting their most energy. On the Texas border, Cisneros is mounting one of the nation’s closest-watched primary challenges against conservative Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar – who has held an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, is a target of abortion-rights groups and was one of the last members of Texas delegation to publicly say he would vote to impeach Trump.

Once an intern in Cuellar’s office, Cisneros is backed by Justice Democrats, which helped elected Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive firebrand from New York. When she tells Democrats what Cuellar stands for, “they’re like, ‘You’re running against a terrible Republican.’ I tell them no, that’s my Democratic congressman,” Cisneros said before a living room of supporters in San Antonio, just days before early voting began.

The liberal challenges are giving more attention to a range of progressive proposals, from more expansive health care coverage and education benefits to less punitive criminal sentences, than is customary in Texas.

In Cuellar’s contest, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown her support behind the eight-term incumbent and visited his campaign headquarters in Laredo over the weekend. Cuellar, who did not even have a primary challenger in 2018, is now launching attack ads casting Cisneros as an outsider over her work as an immigration attorney in New York and telling voters that he is the only candidate that “speaks for us.”

Sanders two years ago performed even worse in the district than statewide, trailing Clinton 3-to-1.

It’s an unusual race of two Democrats on totally opposite ideological ends of the party, which has moved further left on policies even among candidates who take a more moderate tone.

“There was this idea for a long time that Democrats had to be conservative in Texas. And the thing is, we’ve tried that for a very long time, and it didn’t get us very far,” said Ed Espinoza, a former Democratic National Committee official who now runs the group Progress Texas.

In Austin’s affluent and purple suburbs, Alex Dormant, 66, liked what he heard as centrist Senate candidate MJ Hegar, who is backed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, talked about winning over voters on both sides – she nearly won a House seat in 2018, and frequently mentions that her supporters two years ago also planted yard signs supporting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Sanders doesn’t given him the same confidence.

“I think he’ll turn off a lot of Texans who think he’s too extreme, he said, adding, “Texas is winnable, in my opinion.”

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Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber

Paul J. Weber, The Associated Press

One clear message from Democrats: We want big change

WASHINGTON – Democrats’ desire for dramatic political change has emerged as a driving force in the party’s presidential primary battle, one that extends beyond the progressive wing and presents challenges for candidates running on promises of moderation.

In Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, the first three states to weigh in, voters have elevated the candidate promising the biggest departure from the politics of the past – not necessarily the clearest path to defeating President Donald Trump or a restoration of the Obama era. After fighting to a draw in Iowa, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who bills himself as the leader of a revolution, bested candidates in New Hampshire and Nevada promising a restoration of the pre-Trump era and those who focus mainly on their electability.

To be sure, the results reflect the choices of a narrow slice of Democratic voters, a group well to the left of the electorate that will decide the presidency in November. Meanwhile, Sanders has no doubt benefited from a crowded contest where moderates are splitting their support, preventing a single candidate from emerging as the top centrist alternative.

But Sanders’ commanding win in Nevada’s caucuses last Saturday – he trounced all of his rivals – suggests the fractured race isn’t the moderates’ only problem: The senator’s promise to upend the American political system is resonating beyond liberals, and the desire for fundamental change is coming from even moderate and conservative Democrats.

More analysts attribute this to an increasing polarization in politics.

“After four years of Donald Trump, the American people are hungry for change,” said Democratic strategist Rebecca Katz. “The Democratic electorate is split on the best way and the best person to get it done.”

In Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to weigh in, nearly two-thirds of all Democratic voters said they wanted a candidate who will bring drastic change to Washington, rather than restore the pre-Trump era, according to AP VoteCast, a wide-ranging survey of thousands of voters in both states. That included about 60% of Democrats in either state who identified as moderate or conservative.

That “big change” coalition is clear in national surveys, too. In October, a majority of voters planning to vote in a Democratic primary said they’d prefer a candidate who would take a new and different approach to one who would build on former President Barack Obama’s legacy, according to a poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal.

“If the country had been the way that it needed to be in the first place, Trump never would’ve gotten elected,” said Linda Jones, a 50-year-old co-ordinator for teachers’ union and an enthusiastic Sanders backer in Nevada.

She added, “There’s no point trying to put it in the pre-Trump era. You need to make fundamental changes. Trump didn’t cause climate change.”

Jones’ view has been a headwind for former Vice-President Joe Biden, the candidate unabashedly running on a promise to return to an earlier era. Asked Sunday why he was running, Biden said he wanted to “restore some dignity to the office.”

There’s no doubt voters are trying to reconcile their desire for drastic change with the hunger to beat Trump. Majorities in Iowa and New Hampshire agreed a candidate with strongly liberal views would have difficulty against Trump in November, according to AP VoteCast surveys.

In Iowa and New Hampshire, that message won over some Democrats who say they would rather go back to a pre-Trump era instead of seeking structural change. But those voters divided their support among multiple candidates in those states, including Biden, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

In Nevada, Klobuchar’s support plummeted, while Biden’s distant second-place finish was his best yet. Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, another candidate running on electability and stabilizing, rather than transforming Washington, did not compete in those states.

The voters itching for change in many ways line up with Sanders’ coalition. In Iowa and New Hampshire, more than 80% of voters under age 30 wanted a candidate who would transform Washington. About half of young voters in both states backed 78-year-old Sanders.

But AP VoteCast surveys in the first two states suggest Sanders isn’t the only beneficiary of the hunger for something new. Buttigieg and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren both performed well with voters seeking dramatic change, presumably for different reasons.

While some voters are focused on enacting new, big policies – universal health care or major new wealth taxes such as those championed by Sanders and Warren. Others see change as a matter of passing the leadership baton to a younger generation – Buttigieg is 38 – and want to move past old partisan battles.

“I don’t want to keep seeing us go back and forth between Democrat-Republican, Democrat-Republican,” said Veronica Gerhard, a 30-year-old Buttigieg supporter. Gerhard would like to see big changes in the country, but not at the revolutionary pace Sanders wants them to come. She worries that sort of upheaval would only lead to the pendulum swinging back in favour of another president like Trump.

“I want us to pave a path where we can start to work together and start to actually make a change in that sense, have Republicans and Democrats unite.”

Amber Baumann, a 38-year-old adult educator, said she’d like to see the United States remade into a nation with stronger social safety nets, as well as more funding for schools and health care. But she also hopes to defeat Trump.

“I want fundamental change. I would settle for restoration,” she said. “I will take what I can get at this point.”

She cast her vote for Sanders at a Las Vegas early voting site, while putting Warren and Buttigieg in the No. 2 and 3 positions on her ballot.

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Associated Press writer Jonathan J. Cooper in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

Josh Boak And Hannah Fingerhut, The Associated Press




China sentences Swedish bookseller to 10 years in prison

BEIJING – A court in eastern China announced Tuesday that it has sentenced Gui Minhai, a naturalized Swedish citizen, to 10 years in prison.

The Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court convicted the 55-year-old Gui of “illegally providing intelligence overseas,” the court said in a statement published online.

For years, Gui sold gossipy books about Chinese leaders in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong. He first disappeared in 2015, when he was believed to have been abducted by Chinese agents from his seaside home in Thailand.

Four other people who worked for the same publishing company also went missing that year, only to turn up months later in police custody in mainland China. Gui is the only one who remains in detention.

He was initially released into house arrest in Ningbo, the eastern Chinese city where he was born, but police detained him once again in 2018 while he was on a train to Beijing in the company of two Swedish diplomats.

Gui’s arrest has been a source of friction between Beijing and Stockholm. In November, Sweden’s culture minister awarded the bookseller the annual Tucholsky literary prize despite a threat from the Chinese ambassador to ban her from entering the country.

Standing next to Gui’s empty seat at a ceremony in Stockholm, Culture Minister Amanda Lind said it was “crucial for culture and democracy that artists and authors can work freely.”

The Ningbo court said Gui applied in 2018 to restore his Chinese citizenship. He pleaded guilty and will not appeal his sentence, the court said.

Human rights groups have repeatedly accused China of extracting forced confessions from individuals it perceives to be opponents of the ruling Communist Party.

Yanan Wang, The Associated Press