ONGOING SHUTDOWNS OVER CARONAVIRUS… Efforts to contain the coronavirus continue as officials are calling off public gatherings, postponing sporting events and canceling classes at schools. As of yesterday morning, there had been more than 1,300 confirmed cases in the U.S. with at least 39 deaths of them fatal. The virus has infected more than 126,000 people worldwide and is blamed for more than 4,600 deaths. Doctors say the vast majority of cases are mild, and almost half of those infected have recovered. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, conceded during testimony before the House oversight committee yesterday that government efforts have failed to provide Americans easy and accessible testing. President Trump drew condemnation from leaders of the European Union for not consulting them before announcing that he as barring travelers from 26 nations from entering the U.S.for 30 days. It was also revealed yesterday that the communications secretary for Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for coronavirus just five days after he was among a group of officials who met with Trump.
U.S. LAUNCHES AIR STRIKES IN IRAQ… The Pentagon confirmed yesterday that U.S. forces launched airstrikes in Iraq against Iranian-backed Shia militia members blamed for a rocket attack that killed and wounded American and British troops Wednesday night at Iraq’s Camp Taji. Officials said multiple strikes by U.S. manned aircraft hit five locations and mainly targeted Kataib Hezbollah weapons facilities inside Iraq. Earlier yesterday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that President Donald Trump had given him the authority to take whatever action he deemed necessary.
DOW FALLS AFTER FED INJECTION… The Federal Reserve Bank of New York yesterday took drastic steps in injecting more than $1.5 trillion into the markets amid investors’ fears of the coronavirus’ economic impact. The move brought immediate calm but it quickly gave way. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 10 percent in its worst drop since the 1987 stock market crash. The Dow was down 2,353 points at closing bell, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell by over 9 percent.
SANDERS WINS CALIFORNIA DEM PRIMARY… News outlets yesterday declared Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders the winner of California’s Democratic primary. Official numbers from the Super Tuesday contest have been delayed pending the final count of mail-in votes and provisional ballots. As of yesterday, Sanders was holding a 34.3-to-27.6-percent lead. He had claimed 184 delegates to former Vice President Joe Biden’s 144, with 81 delegates left to be allocated.
CHELSEA MANNING RELEASED FROM PRISON… Former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was released from prison yesterday. She had been in detention in Virginia since last May after refusing to testify in an inquiry into Wikileaks. Manning was found guilty in 2013 of charges including espionage for leaking secret military files to Wikileaks.
PROMOTERS SUSPEND CONCERT TOURS… Two dominant live entertainment promotion companies have announced that they are suspended all touring activities because of the coronavirus pandemic. Live Nation Entertainment and AEG Presents both said they would halt events beginning this weekend at least through the end of March. On Tuesday, AEG announced the postponement until October of both the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals.
IN THEATERS… “Bloodshot” stars Vin Diesel and Eiza Gonzalez in the story about a slain soldier who is re-animated with superpowers. The film is rated PG-13… In “The Hunt,” 12 strangers wake up not knowing where they are or how they got there and soon discover that they’ve been chosen for a very specific purpose. Betty Gilpin and Hilary Swank star in the R-rated film.
NCAA CALLS OFF TOURNAMENTS; NHL SUSPENDS SEASON… The sporting world has undergone a complete shutdown due to the health threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, the NHL announced that it was suspending its season but expressed hopes to resume. The league had 189 games and three and a half weeks remaining in its regular-season schedule. Later, the NCAA called off its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments as part of a complete cancellation of all remaining spring and winter championships. Major League Baseball, meanwhile, announced that it is suspending spring-training games and will delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks. On Wednesday night, the NBA announced suspended its season “until further notice” after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. His teammate Donovan Mitchell reportedly also has been diagnosed with the virus.