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Bloomberg reveals he won’t run for president in 2020, but urges Dems to ‘defeat Trump’

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Bloomberg reveals he won't run for president in 2020, but urges Dems to 'defeat Trump'

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Tuesday he will not run for president in 2020 while also bashing President Trump in an op-ed and pledging to ramp up efforts to solve national issues.

“I’ve never made any secret of my belief that Donald Trump is a threat to our country.” Bloomberg opened his piece, which was published on Bloomberg.com.

Bloomberg believes he could beat Trump in the general election, but acknowledged he would have had difficulty in the Democratic primary.

“I know what it takes to run a winning campaign, and every day when I read the news, I grow more frustrated by the incompetence in the Oval Office,” Bloomberg wrote. “ I know we can do better as a country. And I believe I would defeat Donald Trump in a general election. But I am clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.”

Bloomberg urged Democrats in the piece to unite through the primary process in order to make sure the best candidate is elected to defeat Trump in 2020.

“It’s essential that we nominate a Democrat who will be in the strongest position to defeat Donald Trump and bring our country back together,” Bloomberg wrote. “We cannot allow the primary process to drag the party to an extreme that would diminish our chances in the general election and translate into ‘Four More Years.’”

TRUMP SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER AIMED AT LOWERING VETERANS’ SUICIDE RATE

The billionaire mogul also says he did not want to adjust his politics to navigate through a Democratic primary but that he also wanted to do more to combat these next two years of President Trump in office because there is a “likelihood that our biggest national problems will worsen over the next two years.”

“With a leader in the White House who refuses to bring the parties together, it will be nearly impossible for Congress to address the major challenges we face, including climate change, gun violence, the opioid crisis, failing public schools, and college affordability. All are likely to grow more severe, and many of the president’s executive actions will only compound matters,” Bloomberg added.

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Bloomberg said he would devote his efforts and funding to causes such as to climate change and gun control, issues he called “urgent,” and suggested that he could make a bigger impact by not running for the Democratic nomination.

“I’ve come to realize that I’m less interested in talking than doing,” Bloomberg wrote. “And I have concluded that, for now, the best way for me to help our country is by rolling up my sleeves and continuing to get work done.”

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GOP lawmakers fight Dems’ push to add extra Supreme Court seats

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GOP lawmakers fight Dems' push to add extra Supreme Court seats

Republican lawmakers announced Tuesday that they would be introducing a constitutional amendment this week that would stop the recent push by some Democrats to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court.

Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., slammed calls by 2020 Democratic hopefuls to increase the number of sitting judges as “dangerous” and a threat to the balance of power among the three branches of government.

“Schemes to pack the court are dangerous to the Founders’ vision of an independent judiciary that serves as a check on both the Executive and Legislative branches of government,” he wrote on Twitter.

Green said he intends to file a constitutional amendment Thursday that would limit the number of justices to 9 – the number it has been since 1869.

“The Supreme Court must remain a fair and impartial branch of government not beholden to party.”

Several Democrats on the campaign trail, including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have signaled their openness to expanding the number of judges on the court if they enter the White House.

2020 DEMOCRATS EYE DRAMATIC INCREASE IN SUPREME COURT JUSTICES: ‘ALL OPTIONS ARE ON THE TABLE’

But Republicans fired back, with even the President saying “it will never happen.”

Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden on Tuesday that the move to increase seats comes after the new administration was able to seat two new judges -Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – following the Dems’ loss in the 2016 elections.

“I wouldn’t entertain that. The only reason that they’re doing that is they want to try and catch up, so if they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election, they want to try doing it in a different way,” he said.

TRUMP FIRES BACK AT DEM’S COURT-PACKING PUSH: ‘IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN’

Other Republican lawmakers have backed Green’s proposal, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who also announced plans to introduce a similar measure in the Senate.

“We must prevent further destabilization of essential institutions,” he wrote on Twitter. “Court packing is quickly becoming a litmus test for 2020 Democratic candidates.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called increasing calls for expanding the court “ironic.”

“I find it ironic Democrats want to increase the size of the Supreme Court, but gut the military.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called the idea to expand the courts “radical.”

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The Constitution does not establish a set number of justices; that is up to Congress. There were initially six members of the high court — then seven, then nine, then down to eight, then up to ten for a while, then back down to eight, and then ticking up to nine in 1869.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Bill mears contributed to this report.

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Record floods inundate U.S. Midwestern states as Pence arrives

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Record floods inundate U.S. Midwestern states as Pence arrives

BROWNVILLE, Neb. (Reuters) – Catastrophic floods devastated farms and towns in Nebraska and Iowa on Tuesday after leaving at least four people dead and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, with waters yet to crest in parts of the U.S. Midwest for several days.

The floods inundated stretches of the two farm states along the Missouri River, North America’s longest river. Nearly half of Iowa’s 99 counties have been declared disaster areas.

Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to inspect the destruction across the Midwest on Tuesday, after Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin declared states of emergency.

The floods followed a powerful winter hurricane that slammed into America’s Farm Belt last week, killing untold numbers of livestock, destroying grains and soybeans in storage, and cutting off access to farms due to road and rail damage.

“It’s really too early to know for sure how bad this is going to get. But one thing we do know: It’s catastrophic for farmers,” said Matt Perdue, government relations director for the National Farmers Union trade group.

Rescuers could be seen in boats pulling pets from flooded homes. Some roadways crumbled to rubble, while sections of others were submerged. In Hamburg, Iowa, floodwaters covered buildings.

In Brownville, Nebraska, floodwaters lapped at the edge of the small town of 132 people, closing the main bridge across the Missouri River.

“It’s a lot worse than I’ve ever seen it,” said Malina Wheeldon, who went ahead with the scheduled opening of her new Euphoric Soul Salon & Boutique business despite the floods. Her husband, Justin, who grew up in Brownville, agreed, saying he had lived through the floods of 1993, 2010 and 2011.

“About every five years now, we have a 100-year flood,” he said.

The Missouri was expected to crest at 47.5 feet (14.5 meters) on Tuesday, breaking its 2011 record by more than a foot (31 cm), the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said. The flooding was expected to continue through Thursday.

ESTIMATED FARM LOSSES OF $1 BILLION

Nebraska officials estimate more than $1 billion in flood damage for the state’s agricultural sector so far, according to Craig Head, vice president of issue management at the Nebraska Farm Bureau. But Head said the number is expected to grow as floodwaters recede.

Flooded Offutt Air Force Base Is seen in this DigitalGlobe Satellite image over Nebraska, U.S., March 18, 2019. Picture taken on March 18, 2019. ©2019 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company/Handout via REUTERS

“We’re hoping it’s only $1 billion, but that’s only a hope,” Perdue said.

Nebraska officials estimate the floods have caused $553 million in damage to public infrastructure and other assets, as well as $89 million in privately owned assets, according to the state’s Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday.

The water also covered about a third of Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, home to the U.S. Strategic Command, whose responsibilities include defending against and responding to nuclear attacks.

In Niobrara, Nebraska, south of the Missouri River near the border with South Dakota, Mayor Jody Stark said flooding that began on Thursday had devastated his community of 350 people, with businesses being the hardest hit.

“Our road system is shot pretty much in every direction coming into town,” Stark said.

“It’s one day at a time. We will do what we can to get back on our feet,” Stark said. “It’s just so heartbreaking. It’s going to be tough, but hopefully we can all get through it.”

Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, which runs a 120 million-gallon-a-year (450-million-liter a year) ethanol production plant in Council Bluffs on the Iowa-Nebraska border, had to cut production because some corn farmers who supply the plant have determined some of their crops are unusable, said company Chief Executive Mike Jerke.

‘WE ARE WITH YOU’

Vice President Pence was scheduled to survey the damage with Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

“Heading to Nebraska today to survey the devastating flood damage. To the people of Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas & all regions impacted: we are with you,!” Pence said in a post on Twitter early Tuesday.

The floodwaters were the result of snowmelt following heavy rains last week and warm weather, said Bob Oravec, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

The weather service’s website shows some locales along the Missouri River in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri are expected to continue to see waters rise for several more days.

Slideshow (7 Images)

The four reported deaths included one person in Iowa who was rescued from floodwaters but later succumbed to injuries, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Roads leading to the Nebraska Public Power District’s Cooper nuclear plant near Brownville were engulfed by floodwaters from the Missouri, but the facility was still operating safely at full power on Tuesday.

The plant operator was flying staff members and supplies to the plant with helicopters, said power district spokesman Mark Becker.

Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York, Rich McKay in Atlanta, Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia, P.J. Huffstutter and Mark Weinraub in Chicago; editing by Bill Tarrant and Jonathan Oatis

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Ocasio-Cortez blasts ‘injustice’ that prestigious New York City high school admitted few black students

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Ocasio-Cortez de-listed from board of Justice Democrats after controversy

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., charged on Tuesday that a selective New York public high school should have admitted more black applicants this year, saying their relatively low admit rate was an “injustice” and a “system failure” — although an objective state-mandated test is used to determine admissions decisions, and low-income Asian students took most of the spots.

In her fiery social media post, Ocasio-Cortez pointed to news reports that only seven black applicants secured offers of admission to Stuyvesant High School this year, out of 895 available slots.

“68% of all NYC public school students are Black or Latino,” Ocasio-Cortez began. “To only have 7 Black students accepted into Stuyvesant (a *public* high school) tells us that this is a system failure. Education inequity is a major factor in the racial wealth gap. This is what injustice looks like.”

The progressive New York Democrat cited a Monday New York Times report, which noted that the population of black students at Stuyvesant was seemingly decreasing: 10 were admitted in 2018, and 13 in 2017.

At the highly selective Bronx High School of Science, meanwhile, only 12 black students received offers of admission, compared with 25 in 2018.

But the report also mentioned several facts Ocasio-Cortez did not — including that “low-income” Asian students are a majority at New York City’s most selective schools. At Stuyvesant, for example, 74 percent of current students are Asian-Americans who performed very well on the admissions test, known as the Specialized High School Admissions Test, which is used by eight of New York City’s most selective high schools.

Approximately 19 percent of the students are white and 3 percent are Hispanic, according to school data.

HARVARD APPEARS TO PENALIZE ASIAN APPLICANTS, BOOST BLACK STUDENTS, EXPERT SAYS

The Times noted that state efforts to help students prepare for the test — including free test prep for minority students — have not helped change the admissions numbers in favor of black applicants.

“The numbers are abysmal; we knew that.”

— NYC public advocate Jumaane Williams

As a result, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last year called for a new admissions system to New York’s most prestigious schools, which would simply scrap that test, and instead ensure that top students from each local middle school received admissions offers.

“These numbers are even more proof that dramatic reform is necessary to open the doors of opportunity at specialized high schools,” de Blasio said, responding to the Times’ report.

In an op-ed last year, de Blasio elaborated: “Eight of our most renowned high schools – including Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School – rely on a single, high-stakes exam. The Specialized High School Admissions Test isn’t just flawed – it’s a roadblock to justice, progress and academic excellence. If we want this to be the fairest big city in America, we need to scrap the SHSAT and start over.”

He added: “Right now, we are living with monumental injustice. The prestigious high schools make 5,000 admissions offers to incoming ninth-graders. Yet, this year just 172 black students and 298 Latino students received offers. This happened in a city where two out of every three eighth-graders in our public schools are Latino or black. … Can anyone defend this?”

Stuyvesant High School in New York, in JuneMARY ALTAFFER / AP

Stuyvesant High School in New York, in JuneMARY ALTAFFER / AP

But his proposal to eliminate the test remains unpopular in New York. A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said only that there were “two sides” to the issue, and Jumaane Williams, the city’s public health advocate, told the Times that he opposed scrapping the test.

“The numbers are abysmal; we knew that,” Williams, who is black, told the Times. “The question is what do we do about it, how do we do it without needlessly pitting communities against each other?”

Asian-Americans, backed by the Trump adminstration, have increasingly challenged what they characterize as Democrats’ insensitivity to racism directed at them by institutions and individuals. In one closely watched case, the Justice Department last year filed court documents siding with Asian-American students who allege Harvard discriminates against them in its admissions process.

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William Fitzsimmons, the 30-year dean of admissions at Harvard, who oversees the screening process of about 40,000 applicants and narrows them down to 2,000 acceptance letters that are handed out each year, testified during the trial that African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic high schoolers with mid-range SAT scores out of a possible 1600 combined math and verbal, are sent recruitment letters with a score as low as 1100, whereas Asian-Americans need to score at least 250 points higher – 1350 for women and 1380 for men.

“That’s race discrimination, plain and simple,” argued John Hughes, a lawyer for Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA).

Fox News’ Caleb Parke contributed to this report.

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