Thursday morning news – March 12, 2020

Trump declares European travel restrictions, stimulus plans » TRUMP: My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak with you about our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

President Trump addressing the nation from the Oval Office last night.

With Europe now becoming a major battleground in the fight to contain the virus, the president announced new travel restrictions. Beginning tomorrow, he is suspending all travel between the United States and Europe for 30 days.

He said the European Union was too slow to act in the earliest weeks of the mounting crisis. Many in Europe were initially critical of his decision to restrict travel from China. 

TRUMP: We made a lifesaving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe.

Trump said the restrictions won’t apply to the United Kingdom and U.S. officials would monitor the situation to determine if travel could be reopened earlier.

WHO declares coronavirus crisis a global pandemic » The World Health Organization has declared the global coronavirus crisis a pandemic.

WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained the move on Wednesday. He said the UN health agency made that declaration because of—quote— “alarming levels of spread and severity,” and because of “the alarming levels of inaction” on the part of some governments. 

GHEBREYESUS: Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It’s a word that if misused can cause unreasonable fear or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over. 

He said the fight is not over and it’s not too late to rein in the virus.  

State and local governments move to curb spread of virus » Meantime, in the U.S., more state and local governments, and other organizations are beginning to pull out all the stops. 

Washington state’s governor announced a ban on most gatherings of more than 250 people in virtually the entire Seattle area.

INSLEE: These events that are prohibited are gathering for social, recreational, spiritual, and other matters. 

The ban focuses on three counties, which have seen substantial community spread of the virus. Two dozen people have died in the state. 

Many concerts and events are being canceled, and the NBA announced Wednesday that it was suspending its entire season until further notice after an all-star center for the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus.

Many other sports teams are poised to play home games on the road or play to empty venues. 

The NCAA announced Wednesday that men’s and women’s Division 1 college basketball teams will allow only essential staff and family to attend tournaments. 

The coronavirus is also hitting Hollywood. Actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have tested positive for the virus.

House passes bill reauthorizing FISA program » House lawmakers have passed a bill to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, better known as FISA. 

AUDIO: The yeas are 278. The nays are 136. The bill is passed. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican leader Kevin McCarthy negotiated the bipartisan bill. It would renew several provisions the FBI sees as vital to fighting terrorism. 

But it also adds restrictions and stronger oversight. Republicans demanded those changes after the Justice Department’s inspector general found wrongdoing by FBI officials in obtaining the FISA warrant to surveil a former Trump campaign aide. McCarthy said Wednesday…

MCCARTHY: Well, now we have a check and balance. Even if somebody tries to use it for the wrong manner, it cannot happen again. 

Among those checks and balances: Congress will have an increased role in oversight, and the bill would form a new office of compliance. It also increases punishments for wrongly manipulating the program.

The Senate is poised to pass the bill. President Trump has not said whether he would sign it.

Sanders vows to fight on following election losses » Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is vowing to fight on after suffering another big setback in Tuesday night’s elections. He said he’s counting on the youth vote to help him rebound from recent losses.

SANDERS: While Joe Biden continues to do very well with older Americans, especially those people over 65, our campaign continues to win the vast majority of the votes of younger people. 

Biden won four of the six states that voted on Tuesday, including the biggest prize, Michigan. Sanders won North Dakota. Still no winner declared in Washington state, where the margin on Wednesday stood at just two-tenths of a percent. 

Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in prison » Harvey Weinstein arrived at a New York courthouse Wednesday in a wheelchair for his sentencing after his conviction on multiple sex crime charges. 

And he received nearly the maximum sentence—23 years behind bars. 

Weinstein attorney Donna Rotunno said that sentence was extreme and—quote—“obscene.” 

ROTUNNO: I’m not here to say that he’s a victim, and I’m not here to say poor Harvey. But what I am here to say is we were looking for fairness, and we didn’t get it. 

After two of his accusers confronted him again in a Manhattan court, the 67-year-old former Hollywood mogul broke his courtroom silence to say he felt—his words—“remorse for this situation.” But he also argued that men are losing due process and are “confused about these issues.”

Weinstein still faces additional charges in California.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) In this Feb. 20, 2020 file photo, Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan courthouse for his rape trial in New York.

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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