Wednesday morning news, February 26, 2020

Democrats debate the identity of the party in South Carolina » White House hopefuls faced off in another bruising debate Tuesday night—this time in South Carolina, ahead of Saturday’s primary vote. 

And with Senator Bernie Sanders still leading in national polls, the broader debate is now one over the identity of the Democratic party. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist doubled down on a government takeover of healthcare …

SANDERS: Guarantee healthcare to all people, not have thousands of separate insurance plans.

While most of his opponents warned that turning the Democratic party into a socialist party would be a big mistake. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar… 

KLOBUCHAR: I like Bernie. We came in together to the Senate, but I do not think that this is the best person to lead the ticket. 

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the socialist label will hurt Democrats all the way down the ballot. 

BLOOMBERG: Bernie will lose to Donald Trump. And Donald Trump, and the House, and the Senate, and some of the state houses will all go red. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden still leads in recent South Carolina polls. But the big test will come in less than a week on Super Tuesday, when roughly 40 percent of voters will cast their ballots. 

Senate Democrats block protections for unborn » Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a pair of Republican bills aimed at protecting unborn children and abortion victims who survive the procedure.

A majority of senators, including multiple Democrats, voted in favor of a bill that would require abortionists to save the lives of babies born alive after a failed abortion. 

AUDIO: They ayes are 56, the nays are 41. The motion is not agreed to.

Democratic Senators Bob Casey, Doug Jones, and Joe Manchin voted for the born alive bill. 

Casey and Manchin also supported a separate measure that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks. But Senator Jones and Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted no. The final vote was 53-to-44.

Both motions failed, as they needed 60 votes to survive. 

Democrats have defeated both measures multiple times in recent years.

Chinese authorities sentence foreign dissident » A court in eastern China has sentenced Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai to 10 years in prison. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen reports.

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The Chinese-born Swedish citizen operated a bookstore in Hong Kong for years—selling books that took a skeptical look at the ruling Communist Party.

The Chinese government has charged him with—quote—“illegally providing intelligence overseas.”

In 2015, Minhai disappeared from his seaside home in Thailand. He was one of five booksellers connected with the publishing house Mighty Current who went missing that year. He surfaced a year later in a televised and staged confession. Chinese authorities released him to house arrest but detained him again in 20-18 when he boarded a train to Beijing with Swedish diplomats. The court claimed he applied that same year to restore his Chinese citizenship and would not appeal his sentence.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Pompeo blasts Iran, China over COVID-19 response » As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had strong words Tuesday for Iran over how its handled the outbreak there. 

POMPEO: The United States is deeply concerned by information the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country. As of yesterday afternoon, Iran was second only to China in coronavirus deaths. 

Iranian officials report 95 confirmed cases, but 15 deaths from the virus. COVID-19’s mortality rate is about 2 percent. If Iran only has 95 cases, that would make its mortality rate seven times greater than the rest of the world. And Pompeo said it’s time for Iran to “tell the truth” about the scale of the outbreak there. 

The secretary also criticized China for expelling three Wall Street Journal reporters. He said a free press is necessary to ensure the public and medical workers can get accurate information about the virus.

Former Egyptian leader Mubarak dies at 91 » Former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak has died. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: State-run TV announced Mubarak’s death on Tuesday. He was 91 years old. 

Mubarak led the country for nearly 30 years before being forced from power in an Arab Spring uprising. He was a strong U.S. ally, a bulwark against Islamic militancy and guardian of Egypt’s peace with Israel. But hundreds of thousands of young Egyptians who rallied in the streets in 2011 saw him as a symbol of autocratic misrule.

His overthrow plunged the country into years of chaos and uncertainty. Two and a half years after Mubarak’s ouster, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi led the military overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president and rolled back freedoms gained in the 20-11 uprising.

Mubarak died at a Cairo hospital where he had undergone an unspecified surgery. El-Sissi announced three days of national mourning beginning today.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) In this Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 file photo, from left, Democratic presidential candidates businessman Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., stand on stage before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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