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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

March 10, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Biden wins hard-fought Michigan, deals major blow to Sanders

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden decisively won Michigan’s Democratic primary on Tuesday, seizing a key battleground state that helped propel Bernie Sanders’ insurgent candidacy four years ago. The former vice-president's victory there, as well as in Missouri and Mississippi, dealt a serious blow to Sanders and substantially widened Biden's path to the nomination.

The Vermont senator's hopes rested on Idaho, North Dakota and Washington state, where votes were still being cast or tabulated but where far fewer delegates were at stake. Biden again showed strength with working-class voters and African Americans, who are vital to winning the Democratic nomination.

Tuesday marked the first time voters weighed in on the primary since it effectively narrowed to a two-person race between Sanders and Biden. And the first three large states easily went to Biden, a dramatic reversal for a campaign that appeared on the brink of collapse just two weeks ago. Now it is Sanders, whose candidacy was ascendant so recently, who must contemplate a path forward.

Sanders did not plan to address the public on Tuesday night. Biden planned to take the stage in Philadelphia.

Even as the contours of the race came into shape, the campaign faced new uncertainty amid fears of the spreading coronavirus. Both candidates abruptly cancelled rallies in Ohio that were scheduled for Tuesday night. Sanders' campaign said all future events would be decided on a case-by-case basis, while Biden called off a scheduled upcoming stop in Florida.

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2020 primary takeaways: Joe Biden's nomination to lose

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden's path to the Democratic presidential nomination widened significantly Tuesday with commanding victories in Mississippi, Missouri and Michigan, a state that his rival Bernie Sanders won four years ago. Key takeaways:

IT'S BIDEN'S NOMINATION TO LOSE

Biden has become the reliable Buick of this race.

His momentum accelerated as he broadened his delegate lead over Sanders with a series of decisive victories. The former vice-president's solid win in Michigan came in a state Sanders was depending on both to bolster his case going forward and for the practical delegate math involved. He came into the day about 96 delegates behind Biden, and Michigan was his best shot at preventing that lead from getting any wider. (Democrats require 1,991 delegates for nomination.)

As it is, Sanders lost a big state where his upset of Hillary Clinton four years ago gave him reason to continue his presidential bid through the end the nominating calendar in June. This time, the first round of voting after Super Tuesday ended the same way as last week's surprise outcome: with a Biden celebration and an increasingly steep climb for Sanders.

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Coronavirus clusters swell on both sides of the US

Alarming clusters of the coronavirus swelled on both coasts of the U.S. on Tuesday, with 70 cases now tied to a biotech conference in Boston and infections turning up at 10 nursing homes in the hard-hit Seattle area.

Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden abruptly cancelled rallies because of worries about the virus, and New York’s governor announced he is sending the National Guard to scrub public places and deliver food in a New York City suburb that is at the centre of the nation's biggest known cluster of infections.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency as cases statewide jumped by 51 from the day before, to 92. Of that number, 70 are now connected to a meeting held last month by biotech company Biogen at a hotel in downtown Boston.

Baker said the state of emergency will give him greater authority to take such actions as shutting down large events, gaining access to buildings or stockpiling protective gear.

The moves came as the battle to stop the virus from spreading intensified. More schools and universities sent students home, while conferences and other events were cancelled. The United Nations announced it would close its New York headquarters to the public and suspend all tours. The Coachella music festival that draws tens of thousands to the California desert near Palm Springs every April was postponed until October. And one of the biggest resort operators in Las Vegas, MGM Resorts International, said it would close buffets at all of its Las Vegas Strip casinos as a precaution.

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Stocks rebound from big losses on hope for US economic aid

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks on Tuesday recouped most of their historic losses from the prior day as hopes rose, faded and then bloomed again on Wall Street that the U.S. government will try to cushion the economic pain from the coronavirus.

The day's moves were a microcosm of the severe swings that have dominated recent weeks, and market watchers say they are likely to continue until the number of infections stops accelerating. In the meantime, investors want to see a big, co-ordinated response from governments and central banks to shore up the virus-weakened economy.

The S&P 500 surged as much as 3.7% in the morning, only to see the gains evaporate by midday. The index then bounced up and down before turning decisively higher after President Donald Trump pitched his ideas for a break on payroll taxes and other economic relief to Senate Republicans.

By the end of trading, the S&P 500 was up 4.9%. It erased three-fifths of Monday’s loss, which was the sharpest since 2008, when global authorities banded together to rescue the economy from the financial crisis.

The volatility reflected the mood of a market just as preoccupied with the virus as the rest of the world. Since U.S. stocks set their record high just a few weeks ago, traders have crossed over from dismissing the economic pain created by COVID-19 — thinking it’s similar to the flu and could stay mostly contained in China — to being in thrall to it — worrying that it may cause a worldwide recession.

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AP VoteCast: Biden edges out Sanders on electability

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden came into Tuesday’s primaries riding a wave of voter confidence about his chances of victory in November — and that helped him win Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi.

Democratic primary voters in those states were more likely to think the former vice-president could defeat President Donald Trump in the general election, compared with Biden's top rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to AP VoteCast surveys.

That perception of electability is part of what is drawing Democrats to rally around the more moderate Biden, who has emerged as the party's front-runner thanks to moderate and conservative voters moving quickly in his direction.

Tuesday's contests were the first head-to-head matchups between the two men, sharpening the focus on voters views' of their strengths and weaknesses. Here's a look at voters' opinions as they cast their ballots in half of the six primary contests on Tuesday.

ELECTABILITY

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As Americans take virus precautions, Trump flouts advice

WASHINGTON (AP) — At the Pentagon, top military brass have been begun “social distancing" to avoid spreading disease. At the Capitol, legislators have been encouraged to forgo hand shakes and flash the “Star Trek” Vulcan greeting instead.

But at the White House, President Donald Trump is flouting his own government's advice on how to stay safe. He continues to shake hands with supporters and visitors, hold large events and minimize the threat posed by a coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 115,000 people and killed over 4,000 worldwide.

Public health officials said Trump was sending the wrong message with his behaviour and potentially putting the public at risk by sowing confusion and undermining efforts to keep people safe, especially if the situation grows worse.

“I think it's beholden upon our leaders to follow the public health recommendations that the CDC, the government, public health are recommending and to emulate those practices," said Dr. Jason Farley, a nurse epidemiologist and professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. He said that it sends “mixed messaging to the public” when recommendations aren't heeded.

When it comes to Trump, he added, “There’s nothing special about being the president of the United States that protects you from a virus like this unless you're following the practices recommended for every 70-year-old."

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LA Opera finds harassment reports against Domingo 'credible'

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An investigation commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera into sexual harassment allegations against ?Plácido Domingo has found that the legendary tenor engaged in "inappropriate conduct" with multiple women over the three decades he held senior positions at the company, which he helped found and later led.

Investigators say 10 women accused the star of engaging in inappropriate conduct between 1986 and 2019. Investigators deemed the allegations credible, according to a summary released Tuesday by LA Opera.

The findings did not detail any of the allegations, but said the “level of discomfort reported by the women varied, ranging from some women stating they were not uncomfortable to others who described significant trauma.”

The six-month investigation, conducted by outside lawyers, also found "no evidence that LA Opera ever ignored, failed to address, or covered up sexual harassment complaints," the summary said.

The accusations echo those of a separate independent investigation released two weeks ago by the American Guild of Musical Artists, the U.S. union that represents opera performers.

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Lawyer says Durst found body of slain friend, will testify

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Robert Durst's defence lawyer said Tuesday that the multimillionaire real estate heir found the body of the friend he is charged with killing, and told jurors that Durst will testify at his trial.

It was the first time defence attorneys have publicly said Durst discovered the body of Susan Berman, his best friend who was fatally shot in her home is 2000, and the first time they have even conceded that he was in the Los Angeles area at the time.

“Bob Durst did not kill Susan Berman, and he doesn’t know who did," attorney Dick DeGuerin told jurors at the beginning of his opening statement. "He did find her body, shortly after someone had shot her in the back of the head.”

The admission offered the first glimpse at the planned defence for Durst, though his attorneys had signalled they would take the approach during the run-up to trial, when they conceded that Durst mailed a note to authorities with only Berman's address and the word “cadaver” written in capital letters. Durst had long denied sending the letter.

“When Bob showed up and found her dead, he panicked," DeGuerin said. "He wrote the anonymous letter, so her body would be found, and he ran. He’s run away all his life.”

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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones arrested for DWI in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was arrested in Texas on a misdemeanour charge of driving while intoxicated after his wife called police to their house over an argument, according to court records released Tuesday.

The Infowars founder was booked into an Austin jail shortly after midnight and released on bond a few hours later, Travis County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kristen Dark said. Jones, 46, had a “strong odor of alcohol" coming from him and his blood-alcohol level was recorded at .076 and .079, according to court records.

In Texas, the legal blood alcohol limit is .08 per cent. Jones was also allegedly unable to complete sobriety tests, losing his balance and failing to touch heel to toe.

In an arrest affidavit, the sheriff's deputy said he was originally responding to a family disturbance call at Jones' home just after 10 p.m. Monday. “Dispatch advised the disturbance now was only verbal but earlier in the day ‘it was physical,'" the affidavit said.

An attorney for Jones did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday. An article posted on his Infowars website suggested he was pulled over for going five miles over the speed limit. The article mentions Jones having a “small amount of sake" with his wife at dinner but does not mention an argument.

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Arsenal-City game called off with players in self-isolation

LONDON (AP) — Members of Arsenal's playing squad went into self-isolation in a coronavirus precautionary move, forcing the postponement of the Premier League game at Manchester City later Wednesday.

It is the first game to be called off since the outbreak of the virus in the English top division, which has not played games without fans unlike in other parts of Europe. It was also the first time players in a major sports league had gone into isolation because of possible exposure.

The decision was taken due to the low risk of infection after Arsenal players came into contact with a rival team owner who announced Tuesday that he had contracted COVID-19. They met Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis after the Greek team won at Arsenal in the Europa League on Feb. 27.

“The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing COVID-19 at extremely low,” Arsenal said in a statement. "However, we are strictly following the government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact.

“As a result, the players are unavailable for tonight's match against Manchester City and the Premier League has decided the game should be postponed. The players will remain at their homes until the 14-day period expires. Four Arsenal staff, who were sitting close to Mr. Marinakis during the match will also remain at home until the 14 days are complete.”

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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