Monday Sunrise Briefs: As Iowa votes, why Democrats call for unity

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, sunrise briefing. 

Here are three news events from this past weekend (while you may have been trying a new recipe, learning to salsa, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Coloring while they wait. Three year-old Willow Messamer (L) and four year-old Nile Brown-Lawrence color at rally for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in Indianola, Iowa. February 2, 2020.

Calls for party unity came from Democratic candidates in Iowa this weekend. The field is still crowded, but they don’t want to repeat the disunity that some say cost them the 2016 election. Expect unity to be a continuing theme right through the Democratic Party national convention in July. The four candidates now leading the polls - Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg - represent both the progressive, liberal wing of the party and the more establishment, centrist wing. Monday’s Iowa caucuses could offer the first test of whether Democratic voters want a centrist candidate, who has “a better chance” of beating Trump, or a liberal candidate who truly represents the party’s core values. 

2. Fear can slow the global economy. Economists are now warning - and health officials agree - that some attempts to protect the public from the coronavirus in China may be ineffective and economically damaging. The Shanghai stock index tumbled 8 percent Monday. “When you stop planes and ships, trains and motor vehicles from moving, it starts to shut down the economy — and that can have a cascading effect throughout society,” Dr. Eric Toner at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Saturday.  “Out of an abundance of caution,” Apple Inc. announced Saturday that it was temporarily closing all of its 42 stores in China. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft already have said they will temporarily shutter offices, and Starbucks and McDonald's have closed some outlets. Multiple airlines have announced that they would suspend flights to and from China, and several countries, including the U.S., imposed travel restrictions.

But World Health Organization Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said such restrictions can “cause more harm than good by hindering info-sharing, medical supply chains, and harming economies.” 

3. A true shift in leadership? Iraq’s ruling parties selected a new prime minister Saturday but it remains to be seen if street protesters will accept him. Mohammed Allawi pledged to form a representative government, hold early parliamentary elections, and ensure justice for protest-related violence – all key demands of protesters.  Mr. Allawi has the backing of the powerful Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr. The cleric recently staged an anti-U.S. rally that brought tens of thousands to the street. “The groups we call pro-Iranian ... are taking a backseat now as al-Sadr emerges as more active in shaping the new government,” Harith Hasan, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center, told the Associated Press. More than 480 people have died and nearly 30,000 have been wounded in violent protests since October.

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
Kansas City Chiefs' Khalen Saunders gives thanks after the Chiefs won the NFL Super Bowl 31-20 against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Look Ahead

Monday, Feb. 3.

Democracy waypoints: The Iowa caucuses should provide our first voter ballots and official feedback on the Democratic presidential primary race.

Tuesday, Feb. 4

State of the Union: In his annual speech before the U.S. Congress, President Trump will highlight the strong economy, new trade agreements, tighter immigration rules. and lower prescription drug costs, say White House officials.

Wednesday, Feb. 5

Impeachment trial ends: Most analysts expect President Trump has the Senate votes to be acquitted of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges. 

Friday, Feb. 7

Last call before the N.H. primary: Seven Democratic candidates have qualified to square off in an ABC-TV debate at 8 p.m., just four days before the New Hampshire primary vote. It's the first of three TV debates between Democratic candidates in February.

Saturday, Feb. 8.

Irish leadership vote: Parliamentary elections are scheduled with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party and the center-right Fianna Fail closely matched in opinion polls. Brexit (i.e. trade with Europe), the economy, health care, and affordable housing are key issues.

Generosity Watch

Meir Kalmanson/YouTube
Meir Kalmanson (right) with four homeless men he invited to a Super Bowl Party in New York City in 2017.

A Super Bowl party with a higher purpose. Meir Kalmanson invited four homeless guys to a friend’s Super Bowl party in 2017 - and made a video of it. That simple idea multiplied into 20 “Super Soul Parties” for the homeless yesterday (Sunday) in 20 U.S. cities.  

A Orthodox Jew and vlogger known as “Meir Kay,” Kalmanson makes “positivity” videos, including one where he gave kids a dollar and asked them to choose between buying ice cream or giving it to someone who is homeless.  The New York Jewish Week describes Kalmanson as “a YouTuber, social media influencer, storyteller and prankster extraordinaire. His videos have received more than 350 million views and have been translated into several foreign languages. His fan base of over 1 million followers spans the globe, from Libya to the Philippines and Australia.”

On Super Bowl Sunday, his mission was to build connections and empathy for people without a roof. It’s about giving a higher purpose for a national "holiday" that has become almost as iconic in America as Thanksgiving. "Ultimately, the mission of the Super Bowl party is less about the party," Kalmanson told CNN. "It is just the stage for human beings to come together, put ... aside our differences, our struggles or challenges, and connect on a human level to show love, compassion."

Hidden gem

Start your week with a recent video story that inspired Monitor readers:

Can diversity be ‘too much of a good thing’? More Americans wonder.

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about the Iowa county that went from Obama to Trump in 2016. Will they stay with Trump in 2020?

Finally, check out the Monitor’s five selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. Suspense-free impeachment may reverberate for years to come
  2. Why the black mayor of this Iowa city endorsed Buttigieg
  3. Coronavirus outbreak highlights cracks in Beijing’s control
  4. Why facts matter on both sides of the abortion debate
  5. Behold the xenobots – part frog, part robot. But are they alive?

This is a beta test - an experiment with an early Monday morning news update. Please give us your feedback via the link below and let us know what you think. Thank you!

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