‘They may have the money, but we have the people’

About 10,000 people turned out in Madison, Wisconsin on Wednesday night to hear Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. It is reportedly the largest audience to show up for any candidate in this campaign cycle and about the same number tuned in to a live stream on YouTube.

(Bernie 2016) — Introduction by John Nichols of The Nation at 41:56, Sanders speaks at 50:00

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Sanders told the crowd he sought a political revolution, committed to “doubling the minimum wage, providing a free college education to all Americans, establishing a universal health care system, expanding union rights and breaking up the largest banks in the country.”

“What this campaign is about is creating a political revolution in America — a revolution which takes on the greed of Wall Street and corporate America,” he told the crowd of thousands at the Alliant Energy Center.

“This is a rigged economy and, brothers and sisters, we are going to change that. … The greed of corporate America and the billionaire class has got to end, and we are going to end it for them.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign said it had raised more than $45million in campaign contributions, a record amount for the first quarter.

“The numbers are not yet final but Hillary for America has exceeded our expectations and is on track to raise more primary money than any candidate in history during their first quarter in the race,” the [campaign] official said Wednesday. “The previous record of primary money raised in a candidate’s first quarter was $41.9 million set by President Obama’s campaign in 2011.”

(For some context, when Jeb Bush reveals how much his campaign has taken in for the first quarter, it is expected to be around $100million, with observers saying such a sum puts him in a dominant, even possibly decisive, position among the GOP field).

Yet despite a national grassroots enthusiasm among progressives for Sanders, Maxwell Tani at Business Insider looks at why Sanders isn’t a “real” threat to Clinton.

According to CNN, only 2% of Democratic voters think Sanders has the best chance of winning the general election. That number has proven to be a red flag for any candidate.

Studies have long shown that most voters desire to cast their vote for a winning candidate, and they’ll often vote for their second choice if they perceive the candidate to have a better chance of winning. As University of Maryland professor Eric Pacuit points out, many voters in 2000 who supported Green Party candidate Ralph Nader ended up voting for Democratic nominee Al Gore.


* POLITICS * It shows how far we’ve already come – or fallen – in this election cycle that it’s refreshing to hear a politician say they’re not running for President. New York Congressman Peter King said on Wednesday he wouldn’t be seeking the nomination, telling CNN “he’s decided he can’t raise enough money or run effectively given his job in Congress.”

But the member of the House’s homeland security and intelligence panels had plenty to say on the possibility of a terror attack over the upcoming national holiday weekend.

A day after launching his campaign, New Jersey Gov Chris Christie headed for a week of engagements in New Hampshire, first stopping off in Maine to receive the endorsement – the first high-level endorsement for any candidate – of his fellow GOP Gov Paul LePage. The New York Times writes, politely, that the value of such an endorsement is “unclear” since Mr LePage “makes Mr. Christie’s problems in his home state look puny.”

In a new CNN poll, Christie is running well down a national GOP field where Donald Trump – despite his latest difficulties with Macy’s, former New York Gov George Pataki and professional golfers – appears to be consolidating recent numbers showing him in second or third place overall.

Governor of Alabama Roy Bentley, accompanied by the state’s Attorney general, is set to make a “major state announcement” on Thursday morning at 8am local time.

The expectation is that the Governor will address the issue of local resistance to same-sex marriage, following Wednesday’s decision by the 5th Circuit Court, covering Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, reinforcing the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the legality of same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

UPDATE: Wrong! The “major announcement” was to talk about the BP settlement offer (see Thursday’s Note for the full story)


* WORLD * The Episcopal church authorized its clergy to perform same-sex weddings, but the Washington Post explains that the debate is ongoing, and why there likely won’t be any sweeping changes anytime soon.

In resolutions adopted here at the denomination’s General Convention meeting in Salt Lake City this week, the bishops have endorsed new liturgies or services for same-sex couples wishing to marry in church. The bishops also approved changing the church’s canons, or rules, governing marriage,  making them gender neutral by substituting the terms “man and woman” with “couple.” However, clergy were also given the right to refuse to perform a same-sex marriage, with the promise they would incur no penalty, while bishops were given the right to refuse to allow the services to take place in their diocese.

The compromise means that same-sex weddings may occur after Nov. 1, 2015, with the full blessing of the church in places like Washington, Los Angeles and New York, but likely won’t take place in more conservative parts of the church, like Dallas, Albany and Orlando.

Meanwhile, in a fascinating long read at The Atlantic, Molly Ball explores the “untold story of the improbable campaign that finally tipped the US Supreme Court” ahead of its momentous same-sex marriage ruling.

As FBI investigators said that a fire at a black church in Greeleyville, South Carolina could have been caused by lightning – although the investigation is still ongoing – there is increased discussion about the recent spate of fires at places of worship in the south. Emma Green writes at The Atlantic that “Churches are burning again in the United States, and the symbolism of that is powerful.”

Egypt said 17 of its soldiers and about 100 militants apparently allied to ISIS were killed in attacks on North Sinai, in what Al Jazeera called “the deadliest fighting in years.”


* BUSINESS * The Department of Justice is investigating whether US airlines colluded over high flight prices. Reuters reports that “The top four U.S. carriers American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O), Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N), United Continental Holdings Inc (UAL.N) and Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) control some 80 percent of the domestic air travel market. The four confirmed receipt of the regulator’s letter and said they are cooperating fully with the investigation.”

A sad story from a Volkswagen factory in Germany took a somewhat bizarre turn on Twitter.


* SPORTS * Sunday’s final of the Womens’ World Cup in Vancouver will be between the US and Japan – a rematch of the 2011 final, which Japan won on penalties – after Japan handed England a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in Wednesday night’s semi-final. The deciding goal, a minute from the end of stoppage time, was an own goal by England’s Laura Bassett.


Finally, one of the world’s true unsung heroes, Sir Nicholas Winton, died on Wednesday aged 106. Winton had been responsible for organizing the Czech “kindertransport” in 1938 and 1939 which saved more than 600 mostly jewish children from the Nazi occupation. His remarkable and emotional story only came to light long after the war had ended.


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