Wednesday morning news – March 18, 2020

Elections » Former Vice President Joe Biden widened his lead over Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday. 

BIDEN: Our campaign has had a very good night. We moved closer to securing the Democratic party’s nomination for president. 

Three states voted last night, and it was a clean sweep for Biden. He won Arizona, took Illinois by double digits and secured a blowout victory in Florida, beating Sanders by nearly 40 points.  

But despite another big night for the Biden campaign, the response was muted. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, there were no victory laps or cheering crowds at campaign headquarters. Instead, Biden offered a simple message of encouragement. 

BIDEN: I know we as a people are up to this challenge. We always have been. I know that we’ll answer this moment of crisis with the best we find in all of us, because that’s what Americans have always done and what we do. That’s who we are.

Also on Tuesday, one of the last remaining pro-life Democrats in the House lost his his reelection bid. Incumbent Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski narrowly lost to challenger Marie Newman in last night’s 3rd District primary.

White House, Congress float massive economic stimulus plan » President Trump is asking Congress to unleash a torrent of emergency economic aid—amid the pandemic.

At the White House Tuesday, the president told reporters… 

TRUMP: We’re going big. And that’s where Mitch McConnell, that’s the way he wants to go. That’s the way I want to go. I think we want to get it done. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expounded on a proposed economic rescue package that could cost nearly $1 trillion. 

MNUCHIN: We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately. And what we’ve heard from hard working Americans, many companies have now shut down, whether it’s bars or restaurants. Americans need cash now, and the president wants to get cash now, and I mean now in the next two weeks. 

President Trump also announced that most individuals and businesses will be allowed to delay paying their 2019 tax bills for 90 days past the usual April 15th deadline. 

Meantime, on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his chamber will likely start by approving an aid bill that the House just passed… 

MCCONNELL: Then Senate Republicans, in conjunction with the administration, are going to write a next bill. The Senate being the Senate, we will then discuss with the Democrats what we can agree to pass, which will of course take 60 votes. 

The House’s $100 billion package of sick pay, emergency food and free testing is on track for President Trump’s signature. 

Wall Street welcomed the stimulus proposals and actions. Stocks closed up 6 percent Tuesday—recouping almost half of the losses from the day before.

Retailers, theaters shut down amid pandemic » Many more businesses are shutting down nationwide amid the pandemic. 

The list of brick and mortar retailers temporarily closing now includes Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and all Apple stores in the United States. And almost all of the country’s 40,000-plus movie screens are going dark in an unprecedented shutdown. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: AMC Theaters is the nation’s largest chain. And on Tuesday it became the latest to announce it’s shutting down. AMC said the latest guidelines made movie theater operations “essentially impossible.” It will close for at least six to 12 weeks. And Regal, the second largest chain, said it’s closing “until further notice.” 

With most of Hollywood’s March and April releases already postponed, Disney on Tuesday also cleared out its May releases, including Marvel’s “Black Widow.”

With movie theaters locked down, some studios took the extraordinary step of funneling new films onto home viewing platforms. Universal Pictures will make its current and upcoming films available for on-demand rental. It will be the first major studio to break the traditional theatrical window of 90 days.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

China to expel U.S. reporters from 3 major news outlets » China has announced that it will revoke media credentials for American journalists at three major U.S. news organizations. The move in effect expels all New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post reporters from the country. 

China described its steps as “necessary and reciprocal countermeasures.” They came after the Trump administration designated five Chinese media outlets as foreign missions and restricted the number of Chinese nationals who could work for them.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there’s no comparison between the U.S. and Chinese actions. He said—quote—“The individuals that we identified a few weeks back were not media that were acting here freely,” he said. “They were part of Chinese propaganda outlets.” 

POMPEO: This information campaign that they are waging is designed to shift responsibility. Now is not the time for recrimination. Now is the time to solve this global pandemic and work to take down risks to Americans and people all across the world. 

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that five state-controlled Chinese media outlets would be restricted to 100 visas. It cited increasingly harsh surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of American journalists working in China.

Brady leaving Patriots » The unimaginable has happened to Patriots fans: Tom Brady is moving on.

Brady said Tuesday, “I don’t know what my football future holds, but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and my career.” 

Nothing’s official, but Fox Sports reports the 42-year-old is expected to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Some Pats fans are lamenting the news, while others are taking in stride. 

AUDIO: Move on, get another young quarterback out there. Maybe he’ll squash Tom someday. Maybe he’ll be the new Tom Brady. Maybe he’ll be the new goat. 

Wherever he lands, Brady will bring with him six Super Bowl rings, four Super Bowl MVP trophies and three regular-season MVP awards.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) In this Sunday, March 15, 2020 file photo, former Vice President Joe Biden, participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington. 

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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