☕ Cover Shot: Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. CC 2.0, Gage Skidmore
Welcome to America’s Newsletter from Tag The Flag, the best morning newsletter on the internet, bringing you nonpartisan news and every view of the Red, White, and Blue. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
📌 BULLETIN BOARD
Prime Location: Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has purchased the Warner Estate from media mogul David Geffen for $165 million. The Amazon CEO also bought a plot of land from the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for $90 million.
⚡ Breaking Overnight: China on Thursday reported 254 new daily deaths and a spike in daily virus cases of 15,152, after new methodology was applied in the hardest-hit province of Hubei as to how cases are categorized. More in the world section below.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
Moderate Democrats on Capitol Hill have begun to confront a future without Joe Biden — and are scrambling to find a centrist alternative who can topple both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, POLITICO reports. Why it matters: Democrats say they’re now turning to billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Big Picture: The soul-searching within the more establishment wing of the Democratic party comes after Sanders’ solidified his front runner status in Iowa and New Hampshire, which produced a pair of cringe-worthy finishes for Biden. Here’s how it’s playing:
- On the left: “Bernie Sanders may have won the N.H. primary, but moderates had the best night“, Scott Martelle, LA Times: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ win is most notable for how little of the vote he actually received — only one in four primary voters backed him in a crowded field. Looking broadly at the results, more voters backed moderate candidates than they did progressives, so while the leader of the left-wing of the party persevered by a hair, the voters overall aligned with the moderate bloc” with close to 60% of the total vote.
- On the right: “What revolution? New Hampshire results show Bernie Sanders base of support shrinking“, Joseph Simonson Washinton Examiner: “…exit polls found the Democratic electorate far less liberal than in 2016. Thirty-six percent of voters described themselves as moderate, a 9-point increase from 2016. That helps describe Sanders’s narrow victory of roughly 1.3% over Buttigieg and the late surge of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Sanders earned back the support of less than half of his 2016 voters, who delivered him a historic double-digit victory over Clinton.”
The head of the Iowa Democratic party filed his resignation Wednesday, as the organization is still picking up the pieces from last week’s caucus debacle. Prior to being elected head of the state party in July 2017, Price worked on the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Iowa. What’s next: With New Hampshire’s primary voting now complete, the next contest for the Democratic presidential contenders will be the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, February 22. Nevada Democrats were planning on using Shadow Inc. the vendor for a vote-reporting app that performed so poorly in Iowa. They need a plan B, and we don’t yet know very much about what it will be. – NPR / Vox / Washington Post
White Supremacists Amp Up Propaganda
White supremacists spread a record amount of propaganda across the U.S. last year, as hate groups attempt to increase their numbers, according to a new report. By the numbers: The Anti-Defamation League recorded 2,713 incidents of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ propaganda circulated through fliers, stickers, and leaflets in 2019. That is more than double the 1,214 instances the anti-hate group recorded in 2018. Big picture: White supremacist propaganda has been recorded in all U.S. states except Hawaii, according to the ADL report. It said three white supremacist groups were responsible for about 90% of the hateful messaging. – Wall Street Journal (subscription)
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🌎 WORLD NEWS
Welcome to the Club: The WHO Bows to China
When the World Health Organization declared a global public health emergency at the end of last month, it praised China’s “extraordinary” efforts to combat the coronavirus epidemic and urged other countries not to restrict travel. Here’s the thing: some experts called BS saying the WHO capitulated to the rising power. Why it matters: the WHO is caught between a rock and a hard place. It can’t afford to alienate the country’s leadership, whose clout and financial largess it aims to attract to global health causes. It needs Beijing’s cooperation in preventing a full-blown pandemic—and this may not be the last time. As mentioned above, China recorded a spike today after “new methodology” was applied in the hardest-hit province of Hubei. All US stock futures are pointing to a lower open today. WSJ / BBC
Italy’s Salvini loses immunity
The leader of Italy’s popular populist party, Senator Matteo Salvini, lost his legal immunity on Wednesday from a criminal investigation and potential trial over his 2019 treatment of a group of migrants. Background: Salvini was accused of abusing his powers last July, when as interior minister he prevented 131 migrants from disembarking an Italian coastguard boat at the port of Catania, Sicily. Without immunity, magistrates in Catania can now consider a case against him. Big Picture: If the legal process moves forward and he is found guilty, Salvini could face up to 15 years in jail and a ban on holding elected office. – CNN World
Pope Francis Sets Aside Proposal on Married Priests
Pope Francis has for now rejected a landmark proposal by bishops to allow the ordination of married men in remote areas. Why it matters: conservatives warned that the momentous change would have set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening church traditions. On the flip side, the decision devastated many of the Catholics who see Francis as their best hope for bringing fundamental change to the church. Big Picture: With the church facing a shortage of priests and increasing competition from evangelicals in many countries, the idea of opening up the priesthood to married men had held broad appeal for liberals worried about the church’s future. – New York Times
Three Stories: WhatsApp, Softbank, and Nissan
WhatsApp, one of the world’s most popular messaging services, disclosed on Wednesday that it now has 2 billion users. Remember, Facebook bought WhatsApp six years ago for $19 billion. The app prioritizes end-to-end encryption for its users and so far has decided not to include any advertising on the platform. Thanks to massive losses in its flagship Vision Fund, partly driven by investments in WeWork and Uber, Softbank barely registered a profit in the final quarter of 2019. The poor performance could impact investor enthusiasm for founder Masayoshi Son’s second fund, Vision Fund II. Lastly, on Wednesday Nissan filed a $91 million civil lawsuit against its former Chairman, Carlos Ghosn. After a dramatic escape in December, Ghosn is currently living in Lebanon and denies any wrongdoing. Reuters notes that Nissan is scheduled to report its latest earnings today. Analysts expect the Japanese automaker to report the first quarterly loss since 2009. – Reuters / Tech Crunch / CNN Business
US soccer men’s union says women’s pay should be tripled
The U.S. men’s national team urged the U.S. Soccer Federation to sharply increase pay of the American women and accused the governing body of making low-ball offers in negotiations with the men, Ronald Blum writes for the AP. Why it matters: The US women’s soccer team made more revenue than the men’s team over the last three years, according to financial reports analyzed by the Wall Street Journal. Women’s games reportedly brought in $50.8 million from 2016 to 2018 from mostly ticket sales. Men’s games made $49.9 million in the same time frame. – AP / Business Insider
The Anonymous Kids YouTube Channel That Gets 2.5bn Views a Month
A man named Jay Jeon is an unassuming mogul, Bloomberg writes. He “runs Cocomelon, a YouTube channel dedicated to nursery rhymes and original songs, whose animated kids and creatures generate about 2.5 billion views in a typical month. That translates into as much as $11.3 million in monthly ad revenue”. For more than a decade the 55-year-old and his wife ran their channel more or less by themselves. For the interview Bloomberg conducted, he did not allow any photographs. “His wife was not to be named or discussed. Even the couple’s neighbors don’t know which channel they run. “Nobody knows me,” Jeon says between bites of pasta. “I really like that.” Worth a read (Disclosure: the article is behind a soft-paywall). – Bloomberg
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1861: First Medal of Honor action
The earliest military action to be revered with a Medal of Honor award is performed by Colonel Bernard J.D. Irwin, an assistant army surgeon serving in the first major U.S.-Apache conflict. Here’s what he did.