By Amanda Becker MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Cory Booker made the nation's complicated history with race relations and racial disparities a focal point at events in the key state of Iowa during his first 2020 presidential campaign swing over the weekend. Booker, 49, a former Democratic mayor of Newark, New Jersey, frequently discussed incarceration and employment disparities, while also telling his parents' story of trying to buy a house in an unintegrated New Jersey suburb in the late 1960s with the help of a volunteer civil rights lawyer. Booker's focus was an overture to the coalition of young, diverse voters that twice elected former Democratic President Barack Obama, while also differentiating his style from that of the first black U.S. president, who rarely discussed race during his campaign. Booker's emphasis on his personal and mayoral past, as well as his work as a senator on criminal justice issues, may also set him apart in a crowded field of Democratic candidates aiming to take on Republican President Donald Trump in what could be a historic election. There are already five Democratic candidates vying to be the country's first woman president, including U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, a former top prosecutor in the city of San Francisco and the state of California, who would also be the first black woman. "Right here in Iowa, people meeting in barns – white folk and black folk – built the greatest infrastructure project this country has ever seen: the Underground Railroad," Booker told a packed crowd at a brewery in Marshalltown, Iowa, on Saturday, referring to a network of safe houses used to assist black Americans fleeing slavery states to free states ahead of and during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. In Iowa, which hosts the first presidential party-nominating contest, African-Americans make up just 3.8 percent of the population, according to government statistics. But black voters are a crucial Democratic bloc in states like South Carolina, which also hosts an early nominating contest. Booker's trip to Iowa occurred as prominent Democratic officials in Virginia faced calls to resign because of past racist photos and sexual assault allegations. Booker was set to campaign in South Carolina on Sunday. At a roundtable in Waterloo, Iowa, on Friday, two-thirds of the panelists that Booker's campaign assembled were African-American community leaders. A subsequent forum at the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids included Iowa City Council member Mazahir Salih, a Sudanese refugee. Diane Lemker, 64, attended the Marshalltown brewery event and plans to participate in next year's Democratic nominating caucuses for the first time. She liked Booker’s message of unity and inclusivity. "Obama won the caucus in Iowa in 2008 and that's what set him off – people couldn't believe that a primarily white state would launch his candidacy and it did," Lemker told Reuters. Andrew Turner, a Democratic activist and strategist in Iowa who managed successful Des Moines City Council and state auditor races, said he thought Booker hit the right notes on his first trip to the state. "He really got the rising leaders in the party," Turner said of Booker’s campaign roundtables. "They crushed this." (Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Robeert Birsel and Peter Cooney)
Megyn Kelly says Meghan Markle always claims to be a 'victim' after bombshell Oprah interview: 'Give me a break'
"Everyone victimizes Meghan! Everyone! The palace! The press!" the former Fox News host, who was fired for making racist statements, said.
- Business Insider
A new lab study shows troubling signs that Pfizer's and Moderna's COVID-19 shots could be far less effective against the variant first found in South Africa
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Calls for the abolition of the British monarchy were made on social media following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah.
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U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, a member of the Republican Senate leadership, said on Monday he will not run for office in 2022, making him the latest Republican lawmaker in Congress to opt for retirement. The 71-year-old Missouri Republican, who last year called on then-President Donald Trump to be more aggressive in preparing to acquire and deliver coronavirus vaccines, calmly announced his impending departure in a video on Twitter in which he thanked voters for enabling him to have a career in public service. "After 14 general election victories - three to county office, seven to the United States House of Representatives, and four statewide elections - I won't be a candidate for reelection to the United States Senate next year," Blunt said in the video.
- Associated Press
The Biden administration said Monday it is offering temporary legal residency to several hundred thousand Venezuelans who fled their country’s economic collapse and will review U.S. sanctions intended to isolate the South American nation. Both measures mark a shift from U.S. policy toward Venezuela under President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden's administration announced it would grant temporary protected status to Venezuelans already in the United States, allowing an estimated 320,000 people to apply to legally live and work in the country for 18 months.
India has urged the United States, Japan and Australia to invest in its vaccine production capacity, an Indian government source told Reuters, as the so-called Quad alliance tries to counter China's growing vaccine diplomacy. Beijing has committed to provide at least 463 million doses of its home-made COVID-19 vaccines through exports and donations across the world from Asia to Africa, Europe and Latin America, according to Reuters calculations. Two senior Indian officials said the Quad alliance, grouping the United States, Japan, Australia and India, was stepping up efforts to expand global vaccination to counter China's growing soft power.
- Associated Press
Lebanon’s army chief warned Monday that soldiers are hurting from the severe economic crisis engulfing the country, voicing rare criticism from the military of a ruling class that has done little to try and resolve a monthslong political deadlock. Gen. Joseph Aoun’s comments came as protesters, angry with Lebanon's political class, blocked major roads leading to the capital for the seventh straight day. Lebanon's currency has lost 85% of its value in the past year and a half.
- The Telegraph
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex unloaded on Prince Charles, The Duchess of Cambridge, and the tabloid press in their extraordinary tell-all with Oprah Winfrey. But despite the numerous allegations levelled at named and unnamed members of the Royal family, The Queen emerged unscathed, and instead received glowing praise from the couple. Meghan described how "everyone" welcomed her to the royal set-up initially, but singled out the Queen as making her particularly comfortable. In another sign of their positive relationship, the Duchess said: “I just pick up the phone and I call the Queen - just to check-in. Meghan said the Queen has "always been wonderful" to her and that she reminded the Duchess of her own grandmother. "She’s always been warm and inviting," the Duchess added. The Duchess shared a touching anecdote on how her future husband’s grandmother gave her "some beautiful pearl earrings and a matching necklace" for the couple's first joint engagement together, and that the monarch also shared her blanket while travelling together between visits. The pair attended a ceremony for the opening of the new Mersey Gateway Bridge, in Widnes, Cheshire in June 2018 and travelled north on the Royal train.
Joining hundreds of women in Istanbul to protest at China's treatment of Uighurs, Nursiman Abdurasit tearfully thinks of her jailed mother in Xinjiang and fears that Uighurs like her in Turkey may one day be sent back under an extradition deal. Beijing approved an extradition treaty between the two nations in December and with the deal awaiting ratification by Ankara's parliament, activists among some 40,000 Uighurs living in Turkey have stepped up efforts to highlight their plight.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson avoided wading into the clash of British royals on Monday, praising the queen but sidestepping questions about racism and insensitivity at the palace after an interview by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan. The former Hollywood actress, whose mother is Black and father is white, accused the royal family of pushing her to the brink of suicide. In a tell-all television interview, she said someone in the royal household had raised questions about the colour of her son's skin.
Prince Harry said he and Meghan Markle hadn't planned on signing streaming deals, but they needed the money for security
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- Business Insider
Biden eyes trashing Trump-era rules that advocates feared would silence sexual assault survivors on college campuses
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- Business Insider
Biden nominates female generals who were passed over by the Pentagon because they feared Trump's reaction
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In Asia, some vaccination programmes are either yet to begin, or are at a very early stage.
- Business Insider
A world-leading health expert has warned that spring breakers could increase the spread of highly-transmissible coronavirus variants across the US.
- Associated Press
Philippine police backed by military forces killed nine people over the weekend in a series of raids against suspected communist insurgents, with authorities saying the suspects opened fire first. Others, however, said those killed were unarmed activists. Police said Monday that all of those killed were associated with “communist terrorist groups” and had shot at officers while being served search warrants.
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- Associated Press
There are very few female truck drivers in Zimbabwe, but Molly Manatse doesn't like to be singled out for her gender. From driving trucks and fixing cars to encouraging girls living with disabilities to find their places in society, women in Zimbabwe are refusing to be defined by their gender or circumstance, even as the pandemic hits them hardest and imposes extra burdens. As International Women's Day is marked around the world Monday, Zimbabwe's women celebrate the progress they have made in tackling discrimination in the workplace and acknowledge more effort is necessary.