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News Watch from Bernie Sanders

Senator Sanders

I’m Running’ Promising to fight “obscene levels” of income disparity and a campaign finance system that is a “real disgrace,” independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday he will run for president as a Democrat, The Associated Press reported. Sanders on Thursday announced he would seek the 2016 nomination “in a bid likely to pressure Hillary Clinton from the left and challenge her on financial issues,” Reuters reported. “I’ve been traveling around the country for the last year trying to ascertain whether there really is grassroots support in terms of people standing up and being prepared to take on the billionaire class,” Sanders said in an interview Wednesday with USA Today and the Burlington Free Press. “I believe that there is.” On “Good Morning America,” ABC News’ Jonathan Karl said Sanders is “a long shot to be sure with a fiery message about taking on big money interests.” LINK, LINK,LINK, LINK, VIDEO

‘I Love this Country’ Sen. Sanders plans to forge as a progressive political revolution. “I love this country,” Sanders said in an interview Wednesday with the New Hampshire Union Leader, which said he’s motivated to run to address the “decline in the middle class and the unbelievable levels of income inequality.” LINK

‘Don’t Underestimate Me’ Sen. Sanders is running for president, presenting competition from the political left to front-runner Hillary Clinton “People should not underestimate me,” Sanders said. “I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country,” The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Sanders’ Goals Avoiding the fanfare that several Republicans have chosen so far when announcing their candidacies, Mr. Sanders issued a statement to supporters that laid out his goals for reducing income inequality, addressing climate change and scaling back the influence of money in politics, The New York Times reported online.LINK

Sanders’ Priorities Sen. Sanders has been pushing for higher taxes on the rich and more money for programs serving the middle class and poor since long before talk of income inequality became fashionable. He has long supported creating a public health care system similar to Canada’s and Britain’s. He favors equal pay for women, a higher minimum wage and stronger labor rights. He frequently expresses outrage that a “billionaire class” has taken too much control over the American political and economic systems, and labeled it “beyond belief” when the House voted last month to provide $269 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy. He has backed legislation to crack down on offshore tax havens, provide more youth jobs, expand Social Security and increase the estate tax. He supports a five-year, $1 trillion plan to rebuild roads, bridges and other infrastructure. He says that would create 13 million jobs, AP reported.

Sanders’ Passion “If Sanders can harness the energy coursing through the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, he can make the issues he is passionate about central to the campaign and force Mrs. Clinton to embrace more liberal positions on economic issues, much as she has done lately on cultural issues,” The New York Times blogged.

Sanders’ Policies “He’s staked out numerous positions over the years that are considerably more progressive than those embraced by more mainstream Democrats,” according to CBS News. Sanders “has advocated for increases to Medicare and Social Security benefits and pushed for ending tax cuts for the wealthy,” ABC News reported. “The likely effect – and intent – of a Sanders challenge is to push both Clinton’s campaign and her administration, if there is one, further left, thus consolidating liberal control of the party,” Charles Lane wrote for The Washington Post.LINK, LINK

White House ’16 Sanders was called “a champion of the progressive movement” on WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sanders “is a man on a mission,” political analyst Chris Graff told WCAX-TV. Sanders appeals to the people who participate in the primaries, Mark Plotkin said on BBC radio. His candidacy also was covered by WPTZ-TV, CNN, Bloomberg, The Huffington Post, NPR and others. With double-digit ratings in multiple polls, Sanders is a leading opponent to Hillary Clinton, The Washington Examiner reported. VIDEO, VIDEO, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK,LINK, VIDEO, AUDIO

Baltimore Riots The nation confronted shocking scenes of Baltimore’s smoke-filled streets after the death of Freddie Gray from injuries he suffered while in police custody. Hillary Clinton said African-American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes and sentenced to longer prison terms. “Without naming Mrs. Clinton, Sanders bemoaned the overly punitive legislation of the Clinton era,” The New York Times reported. LINK, LINK

Budget Republican negotiators in the House and Senate announced a deal on a joint budget Wednesday that would cut domestic spending, increase defense spending and open a new door in the quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “I think this budget is an absolutely disgrace,” Sanders said Monday evening as details of the plan emerged, TheWashington Post and New York Times reported. LINK, LINK

Gay Marriage With the constitutionality of gay marriage bans in front of the Supreme Court, the question of marriage equality will play a big role in the 2016 presidential election. Sen. Sanders received the Human Rights Campaign’s highest rating as a supporter of marriage equality, Newsweek reported. LINK

Agenda for America Sen. Sanders will hold a press conference Thursday on his “agenda for America” the same day he is expected to announce a Democratic presidential bid. The senator’s office sent out a notice to reporters on Wednesday afternoon that the senator will hold a press conference from the U.S. Capitol at noon, The Hill reported.LINK

Bernie’s Brother Bernie Sanders and his older brother, Larry, have a lot in common: they both grew up in New York City, they both subscribe to progressive politics, and they both have so far refused to join their countries’ best-known mainstream parties, National Journal reported. LINK

The Tonight Show On “The Tonight Show” on NBC, Jimmy Fallon said Sen. Sanders is Clinton’s only Democratic challenger so far. “Or as Hillary put it, “ooh, appetizers!” He joked that the senator looks like the wild-haired scientist played by Christopher Lloyd in “Back to the Future” and made fun of his gesturing with a video making it look like he was conducting an orchestra while delivering a Senate floor speech. VIDEO

The Nightly Show “Nightly” has already boasted a number of interesting moments. Bernie Sanders gave the first hint that he might run for U.S. President, according to a Reuters report on the new Comedy Central program.


Taliban Gains Pull U.S. Units Back Into Fight in Afghanistan – Months after President Obama formally declared that the United States’ long war against the Taliban was over in Afghanistan, the American military is regularly conducting airstrikes against low-level insurgent forces and sending Special Operations troops directly into harm’s way under the guise of “training and advising,” The New York Times reported. LINK

FBI Helped Facilitate Ransom for U.S. Hostage Killed in Drone Strike The Federal Bureau of Investigation helped facilitate a 2012 ransom payment to al Qaeda from the family of kidnapped aid worker Warren Weinstein, senior U.S. officials said, in an unsuccessful bid to secure the release of the American, who was killed in January in a U.S. drone strike, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK


Obama Trade Bill in Trouble House is currently dozens of votes short of being able to pass legislation that would allow President Barack Obama to send trade deals to Congress for fast approval, according to senior lawmakers and aides in both parties, imperiling a top White House priority for the president’s final years in office, according to Politico. LINK

Baltimore Police A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post. The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. LINK


VA A new program aimed at helping veterans who live far from a Veterans Affairs medical center isn’t getting much use in Vermont. Vermont Public Radio reports that the White River Junction VA Medical Center has notified 27,000 patients that they may choose private care, but only 300 have taken advantage of the program since it went into effect last August, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

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