Monday Sunrise Briefs: Buttigieg, the budget, and Oscar winners

REUTERS/Eric Thayer
With snow in the street, people gathered to hear Pete Buttigieg, Democratic presidential candidate, speak at a campaign event in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020.

Fiscal accountability isn’t high on most voters wish lists. But on Sunday, just one day before a new White House budget debuts, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg grabbed the mantle of fiscal hawk at a Nashua, New Hampshire rally. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said curbing federal deficit spending was “important” and "not fashionable in progressive circles." Mr. Buttigieg alluded to the “Medicare for All” plan proposed by rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, who said in a January interview that it was "impossible to predict" the proposal’s eventual cost.  

The U.S. budget deficit - the gap between spending and income - is expected to reach $1 trillion this year, an increase of about $300 billion since GOP tax cuts in 2017, according to a 2021 budget plan expected to be unveiled Monday by the White House. The  $4.8 trillion budget would boost spending for defense and NASA and envisions cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency and social safety net programs, reports The Wall Street Journal. The new budget forecasts an exceptionally strong economic growth rate of 3 percent in 2021, and the federal deficit to shrink slightly. Neither Republican or Democratic fiscal hawks have had much success in reducing Congressional spending since President Trump took office.

Polls show Mr. Buttigieg closing on Sanders’ lead in New Hampshire. Mr. Buttigieg narrowly beat Mr. Sanders in Iowa, according to the Iowa Democratic Party on Sunday. Updated state results showed Mr. Buttigieg with 14 delegates and Sanders with 12. Elizabeth Warren won eight delegates, Joe Biden won six, and Amy Klobuchar got one.

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, sunrise briefing.

Here are three news events from this past weekend (while you may have been watching the Academy Awards, baking bread, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

2. Rains quench Australia's fires: Heavy rains soaked the state of New South Wales on Monday, causing major flooding, but also dousing bushfires that have raged since November. Thanks to the rain, the NSW Rural Fire Service on Sunday night declared that one of the state's worst bushfires was finally out. The Currawon fire had burned for 74 days, destroying 312 homes and razing nearly 1.2 million acres of land. There were still 33 fires burning in NSW as of Monday, but they were all at the lowest warning level and mostly in southeastern areas where the rains were headed. Farmers welcomed the rain but said the water was not going deep enough into the ground to end three years of drought.

3. Creative excellence on the silver screen: “Parasite” won big Sunday night, taking the best picture Academy Award, and making history as the first foreign language film to win the Oscars' top honor. The film's South Korean director, Bong Joon Ho, also won best director and best original screenplay. "Parasite" also won the best international film award. Renée Zellwegger won the best actress award for her portrayal of Judy Garland in the tumultuous final year of her life. Joaquin Phoenix took home the best-actor statuette for his role as the deranged “Joker.” Laura Dern won best supporting actress as the fierce divorce lawyer in "Marriage Story." Brad Pitt won best supporting actor for his sly performance in Quentin Tarantino's “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.”

REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
Thanks to high winds, a British Airways jet made the fastest (4 hours, 56 minutes) New York-to-London flight. The same storm produced 97-mph winds and flooding in the United Kingdom and northern Europe. Here, a seawall is pounded in Saltcoats, Scotland, Feb.y 9, 2020.

Look Ahead

Monday, Feb. 10

Lest the media forget: President Trump will hold a campaign rally in Manchester, N.H.

Freedom figures: Statues of abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass are scheduled to be unveiled at Maryland's State House. 

Tuesday, Feb. 11

Leadership quest: Democrats expect New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary will bring some clarity as to who might carry their 2020 presidential hopes. 

Palestinian perspective: President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to speak at the UN Security Council about the Trump administration's proposed peace plan. The UN speech comes at a time of renewed violence and a farm trade dispute between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 

Mandela’s mark: South Africa celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, an event that marked the beginning of the end of apartheid.

Best in Show: The final day of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. 

Thursday, Feb. 13

American diplomacy: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Germany, Senegal, Angola, Ethiopia, before finishing a 10-day trip in Saudi Arabia and Oman. It’s the first trip to the Middle East by a top US official since the assassination of an Iranian general.

Progress Watch

Manatee County Animal Services via Facebook
Hazel with members of the Manatee County Animal Services in Palmetto, Florida, earlier this week.

Three years ago, Hazel disappeared. Once more, the golden terrier mix had escaped from their Iowa home. “She was very good at getting loose,” Monica Mathis told WWSB-TV in Sarasota, Florida. “Bolting right through the door. Knocking me over just to get out the door.”

The Mathis family searched for weeks, but gave up hope of finding Hazel. And a month later the family moved to Minnesota. 

Meanwhile, Hazel was headed 1,000 miles south. By March 2019, she was caught and taken to the Manatee County Animal Services, a shelter in Palmetto, Florida. The staff checked her tag and micro chip, but the Mathis family contact info was outdated. For 10 months, no one adopted Hazel. 

That’s when a bit of ingenuity and publicity finally took her home. 

Hazel’s photo was one of four dogs featured on a Florida brewery’s beer cans - sort of the Millennial version of missing child photos on milk cartons, popular in the early 1980s. The novel approach to pet adoption got a lot of news coverage. And on Jan. 24, Mrs. Mathis spotted Hazel’s photo in her Facebook newsfeed. 

On Friday, Hazel had a tail-wagging reunion with the Mathis family. A member of the Manatee County shelter drove three days to bring Hazel back to her family, now living in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Hidden gem

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

This 11-year-old African champ spells success: e-m-p-a-n-o-p-l-y

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about why astronomers searching for exoplanets are taking a fresh look at our sun. 

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

  1. Libya: Why Arab world is scrambling to join multinational conflict
  2. To reunite a family kept apart, a wedding on a cross-border bridge
  3. Fighting ‘bad’ fire with good: Australia revisits an Aboriginal tradition
  4. Why secession is the talk of this pro-gun county in Virginia
  5. The wheels on the preschool go round and round

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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