January 2020 opened on a good note for the US economy with the stock market breaking 29,000 for the first time ever, with good employment data following after.
However, the escalated tension between Washington and Tehran following the death of top Iranian military leader, Qassem Soleimani, took center stage in the news cycle last week.
But it wasn’t just that. Here are some of the other stories worth knowing the past days:
1) Andrew Yang Campaign Blasts DNC
Democratic presidential Andrew Yang has called out the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ahead of the sixth debate before the Iowa Caucus..
Yang, the only candidate of color who made it to the previous debate in Atlanta, said the DNC did not conduct enough polls leading to debate — eventually causing him to not make it to the required thresholds by the January 10 deadline.
The DNC requires candidates to gather at least 5% support in at least four of its approved polls or 7% in two early state polls — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Democratic candidates are also required to have donations from at least 225,000 individuals in at least 20 states.
The former tech entrepreneur met the donor threshold but he lacked two of the polls needed to qualify. “If the DNC had only done their due diligence and commissioned polls in the early states, Andrew Yang would certainly be on the debate stage next week,” the Hill reported, citing Yang campaign chief Nick Ryan’s report to his supporters in an email.
“We are not going to allow the DNC to dictate who they wish to see as the nominee and deny the will of the people,” Ryan added, noting that Yang is “on the rise and at 5% in Nevada and New Hampshire.”
“The DNC tried to run this same play in 2016 and they paid for it with a loss in the general,” he added.
2) American Firefighters Jet to Australia
US firefighters headed to Australia on Thursday to help fight the forest fires currently ravaging the country.
The wildfires in Australia covering 31,000 square miles were described as the country’s “worst fire season on record.” The catastrophe has left at least 28 people dead, some 2,000 homes destroyed, and estimates say the wildfires will also leave more than 1 billion animals dead.
48 U.S. firefighters arriving in Melbourne to lend a hand to the rockstar Aussie crews battling bushfires day & night. They’ll deploy to country Victoria to help our friends, just as they’ve helped us many times. ❤️🇺🇸🇦🇺 #USwithAUS #vicfires #AustraliaFires pic.twitter.com/H4x6eo6BpD
— usconsulatemelbourne (@usconsulatemelb) January 8, 2020
Both Canada and the US responded by sending firefighters to help. The US last sent firefighters to help contain Australian wildfires in 2010.
Watch the warm welcome they got.
US fire fighters arrived at Sydney Int Airport this week, on their way to assist with fire fighting in Victoria.
Coming through, all gathered gave a spontaneous & lengthy round of applause, reflecting the gratitude & admiration we all have for their generosity. #NSWRFS @NSWRFS pic.twitter.com/5epg5y4qxX
— Shane Fitzsimmons (@RFSCommissioner) January 9, 2020
The National Interagency Fire Center said “roughly 100 American fighters” have been sent from December to January and“50 to 60 more planned to be dispatched.”
3) Sen. Bernie Sanders Reports 5 Million Donations
The campaign team of Sen. Bernie Sanders has reported that they’ve reached 5 million campaign contributions for the Vermont senator’s presidential bid — more than any Democratic opponent.
Sen. Sanders, who has consistently been in the frontrunner’s list, also reported that his campaign raised $34.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. He raised more than any of the other Democratic candidates in the third quarter when he reported a haul of $25 million.
In the first quarter, Sen. Sanders also topped his Democratic rivals as his fundraising reported $18.2 million in the first quarter.
4) AOC: Peers Scared to Procreate Due to Climate Crisis
New York City Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made her latest climate change pitch saying due to the state of the planet, people her age were getting “skeptical” about having children.
“This is our future because I think for us the stakes are so high. I’m going to live in a world that is fundamentally altered by climate change. So is Greta, so is every young person. Like, we’re living through this right now. We’re experiencing it right now,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said.
“Especially if you are under 50 years old, if you’re under 40, 30, 20, the younger you are, the more of our lives and our futures are going to be impacted by this.”
She added: “Even people my age are stressed and have anxiety about having kids just because we want to make sure that we’re bringing our kids into a healthy world, into a stable future.
5) Taiwan’s Election a Rebuke to China
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has been re-elected in a landslide victory seen by many as a strong rebuke to China sparked by pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
President Tsai beat her main opponent Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang Party — known for favoring friendlier ties with China — with 8.2 million votes, more than 2.6 million voters more than the turnout for Han.
“Taiwan’s people decline the ‘one country, two systems’ model, we respect democracy and our sovereign rights. As the president of Taiwan, I must deal with the cross strait relations according to the will of the people,” President Tsai said shortly after winning.
“I hope this election result sends China a clear message and that they will understand what Taiwan’s people want. And I hope they can understand that a stable relationship comes from the mutual efforts of both sides, it’s not a responsibility of one side. On this basis, we are willing to start a positive interaction (with China),” she added.
For many years, China claimed Taiwan as its “sacred territory.” The mainland has maintained it will take Taiwan by force if needed.
Taiwan’s election follows a closely-watched Hong Kong District election in mid-December where pro-democracy candidates also swiped nearly 90% of the seats up for grabs in the polls. That time, 2.94 million of Hong Kong’s 4.13 million registered voters participated, with a turnout rate of 71%, up from 47% four years ago.
6) Poll: 47% of Americans Approved of Soleimani Airstrike
A recent survey conducted by Morning Consult + Politico found that 47% of Americans were supportive of President Trump’s decision to order the drone airstrike that killed Soleimani January 3.
The poll was conducted on January 4-5, ahead of Tehran’s “retaliatory” move to fire dozens of ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing American troops.
The same survey found 40% opposing the president’s move, while 14% said they have no opinion on the matter.
Just 7% of Democrats agree with President Trump’s decision, while among Republicans, 61% said the President did the right thing killing a top international terrorist.
More old people — those aged 50 to 64 — were also supportive of the airstrike against Iran, with 40% approving it.
In a separate poll conducted by HuffPost-YouGov, 43% were also supportive of the airstrike. Of these, 30% said they “strongly approved” of the decision, while 13% said they “somewhat approved” of the drone attack targeted at Soleimani. The poll said 38% said they “either somewhat or strongly disapproved” of the move.