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  • New Hampshire Primary 2020: Sanders Declares Victory

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    CONCORD, N.H. (WCBS 880) — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has won the New Hampshire primary.

    After a tight race, Sanders came out on top with over 69,000 votes in the first-in-the-nation Democratic primary. In second place was former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg followed by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

    Shortly after a number of outlets began to call the race, Sanders took to Twitter to declare his victory.

    “We are going to unite together and defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country,” he told a cheering crowd of supporters in Manchester. “The reason I believe we are going to win is that we have an unprecedented grassroots movement from coast to coast of millions of people. The reason that we are going to win is that we are putting together an unprecedented multi-generational, multi-racial political movement. And this is a movement from coast to coast, which is demanding that we finally have an economy and a government that works for all of us, not wealthy campaign contributors.”

    CBS News estimates Sanders will walk away with at least 8 delegates, Buttigieg at least 7, and Klobuchar at least 4.

    A total of eight candidates had been vying for votes: Sanders, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former hedge fund investor Tom Steyer and former tech executive Andrew Yang — who decided to drop out of the race as polls closed.

    Michael Bennet, a 55-year-old senator from Colorado who entered the race in late April, also dropped out during the evening, after failing to stand out in the crowded Democratic field.

    Despite falling short, Klobuchar sounded confident when she addressed supporters as results continued to come in.

    “I came back and we delivered,” she said. “America deserves a president who is as resilient as her people.”

    She firmly stated that she would be the person to defeat President Donald Trump in the general election.

    Meanwhile, Warren vowed to continue her efforts in other states.

    “The fight we’re in, the fight to save our democracy, is an uphill battle, but our campaign is built for the long haul and we’re just getting started,” Warren said.

    At his election night event, Buttigieg didn’t seem too upset by the loss and said he “admired” Sanders as a teenager.

    “I respect him greatly to this day, and I congratulate him on his strong showing tonight,” Buttigieg said.

    Meanwhile, the night proved to be slightly disappointing for Biden, who did not attend any events in New Hampshire. Instead, the 77-year-old had gone to South Carolina to get a head start on campaigning in the state before it holds the second primary in a number of days.

    “We just heard from the first two of the states … where I come from, that’s just the opening bell, not the closing bell,” Biden said.

    Klobuchar surged in the race following a strong showing in the most recent debate.

    “This is a state that Bernie Sanders won last time over Hillary Clinton,” Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said. “What we’re seeing is people like Peter Buttigieg and tonight Amy Klobuchar as clearly gotten into the top tier she’s broken away from the pack where Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden are dropping almost out of sight.”

    The first votes in the race were cast in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, where residents often take part in a tradition of casting their votes at midnight. There was one confirmed vote for Buttigieg, one vote for Sanders and two write-in votes for Mike Bloomberg, who received an extra vote from a Republican, even though he does not appear in the New Hampshire ballot.

    A new Quinnipiac University national poll had Bloomberg just a couple of points behind Biden, whose support among Democrats and independents has plummeted in the past two weeks.

    Earlier, exit polling from CBS News found almost half of Democratic primary voters decided on the candidate in the last few days, with many saying the most recent debate was an important factor in making their choice.

    Meanwhile, there seemed to be division among New Hampshire voters as to what kind of policies they want to adopt. About 40% say they want to return to Barack Obama’s policies, while 38% want to change to more liberal policies.

    The most unifying factor seemed to be the desire to vote President Donald Trump out of office. More than 9 in 10 voters in the New Hampshire Democrats primary said they were unhappy with the Trump administration – including 81% who are angry.

    Many also said they prefer a nominee who can beat Trump, a sentiment that was often observed by WCBS 880’s Steve Burns on the road in the state.

    Voters in New Hampshire say the most important issue is health care, followed by climate change, income inequality and foreign policy.

    President Donald Trump also made a stop in the Granite State on Monday night to rally supporters, and possibly sway some undecided Democrats to vote red.

    During the rally, the president focused on his goals should he be elected again in 2020 and took time to criticize House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for ripping up her copy of the State of the Union speech last week.

    The crowd responded with chants of “Lock her up.”

    Trump easily won New Hampshire’s Republican primary against minimal opposition.

     

    Neil A. Carousso is the 2020 elections producer for WCBS Newsradio 880, including producing and editing all video content.

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  • Iowa Caucus 2020: Caucus Results Delayed By Mobile App Issues

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    DES MOINES, Iowa (WCBS 880) — Problems with a mobile app appeared to force a delay in reporting the results of the Iowa caucuses Monday, as the campaigns, voters and the media pressed party officials for an explanation and got few answers.

    An Iowa Democratic Party official pointed to “quality control” as the source of the delays — but noted that about a quarter of the state’s nearly 1,700 precincts have reported their data already. The party also said the delay was not caused by a “hack or an intrusion.”

    But other officials blamed technology. Des Moines County Democratic Chair Tom Courtney said he heard that in precincts across his county, including his own, a mobile app created for caucus organizers to report results to the party was “a mess.”

    RELATED: Everything You Need To Know About The Iowa Caucus

    The statement came as Iowa voters packed caucus sites across the state as Democrats balanced a strong preference for fundamental change with an overwhelming desire to defeat President Donald Trump in the opening contest of the 2020 presidential primary season.

    Precinct leaders were instead calling in their results to the Democratic Party headquarters, and “they weren’t answering the phones in Des Moines” because, Courtney speculated, they were mobbed with calls.

    The apps were barely working, forcing party aides to record results from the precincts via phone and enter them manually into a database, according to a person involved in processing the data who requested anonymity to discuss the party’s internal process.

    The slowdown came as the party attempted to report more data about the caucus than in years past — promising to release both a headcount of each candidates’ supporters and the delegate winners from each site.

    Quiz: See Which Democratic Frontrunner You Align With Most (in Their Own Words)

    “The integrity of the results is paramount,” Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman Mandy McClure said in a statement. “We have experienced a delay in the results due to quality checks and the fact that the IDP is reporting out three data sets for the first time. What we know right now is that around 25% of precincts have reported, and early data indicates turnout is on pace for 2016.”

    The problems were an embarrassment for a state party that has long sought to protect its prized status as the first contest in the primary race. The delay was certain to become fodder for caucus critics who call the process antiquated and exclusionary.

    President Donald Trump’s campaign quickly seized on the issue to sow doubt about the validity of the results.

    “Quality control = rigged?” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted Monday evening, adding a emoji with furrowed brows.

    Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, who ran a precinct in the Cedar Rapids suburb of Robins, said some app users may not have gotten the instructions on how to log into the system.

    “If people didn’t know where to look for the PIN numbers or the precinct numbers, that could slow them down,” said Miller, who said he had no problem using the system to report his precinct’s figures and it worked fine.

    Helen Grunewald, a precinct caucus chairwoman in Benton County, said she had been on hold with the party trying to report her results for a significant amount of time.

    Earlier in the night, however, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said while there were some reports from precinct officials that they couldn’t log into the mobile app, a team of trouble-shooters was working to address any technical issues.

    “We’ve had an app before but we’ve also had a hotline before, and folks have had the option to do that, and so we expect that we’ll be able to report the results in a timely manner this evening,” he said.

     

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Neil A. Carousso is the WCBS Newsradio 880 2020 Elections Producer.

     

     

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  • ‘It’s Not My Flag, It’s Ours’

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    An Unsung 9/11 Hero and the Journey of an American Flag

    from Ground Zero to Iraq and Afghanistan to The White House

    By Neil A. Carousso, Special to ConnectingVets.com and WCBS Newsradio 880

    PATCHOGUE, N.Y. — A hero-maker serves heroes.

    On Sept. 11, 2001, Donato Panico watched in horror as al-Qaeda hijackers crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center.

    He felt he had to do something right away, and as the owner of a Smithtown deli for more than three decades, Panico knew he could provide a needed service.

    “(My friend) was telling me that all kinds of commanding officers were killed down there and that they had no food system and it was in total chaos,” said Panico.

    He then prepared his catering trucks with sandwiches and drove to Ground Zero the next morning. He got through most of the tight security checkpoints in Manhattan, but he was still far away from the Trade Center when commanding officer Louis Pacheco recognized Panico from his Long Island deli and ushered him into site so he could fill a void serving starving, dehydrated, weary, angry and saddened First Responders.

    “A couple months later, (Pacheco) presented me with a flag that they hung in front of the Millennium Hotel,” Panico said. The hotel, which is adjacent to One World Trade Center, suffered significant damage in the terrorist attacks.

    Heros 4 Our Heroes, via Facebook

     

    Heros 4 Our Heroes, via Facebook

    “He presented it to me and I presented it to a friend of mine in the store whose son was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. He hung it over his camp,” said Panico, continuing, “He had the flag commissioned by President (George W.) Bush and he returned it to me 4 years later.”

    Panico continued to lend the gifted flag to local police, fire and veterans organizations on Long Island.

    “You can’t hold onto something if you don’t give it away,” said Panico when asked why he felt so strongly about imparting such a meaningful and emotional souvenir to patriotic organizations. “It’s not my flag, it’s ours.”

    His foundation Heros 4 Our Heroes was born from tragedy. Today, Panico aims to keep a “constant awareness” for the need to take care of police officers, firefighters and our veterans who make sacrifices to keep us safe and free. He is currently undertaking a project to re-build the patio at the Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Northport, Long Island.

    Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) was the only local politician to show up at Donato’s fist Heros 4 Heroes Foundation event after 9/11; Panico said his first impression of Zeldin was he’s “special.”

    The Republican congressman was deployed to Iraq in 2006 with the 82nd Airborne Division and is currently in the Army Reserves. In a sit-down interview with him, Donato and this reporter, he praised Donato as a selfless patriot while he engaged in the same type of organic camaraderie he has with fellow soldiers. Zeldin said Panico has the “type of character, values, ethics and beliefs” that guided his selfless actions on 9/11.

    “If he was on the first floor of the Trade Center that day, he would have went straight up and started rendering first-aid to people even though he wasn’t NYPD or FDNY,” Congressman Zeldin said. “That’s his character.”

    Recently, Panico had one particular person he wanted to lend “our” Old Glory that flew in front of the Millennium Hotel on September 11 to: The President of the United States.

    Congressman Zeldin invited Panico to President Donald J. Trump’s first State of the Union Address in January. Panico brought the flag to Washington with him in hopes to give it to the President. That’s when Rep. Zeldin learned of the sentimental history of that American Flag. Donato did not get to meet Mr. Trump that day, but Mr. Zeldin held onto the flag for the right time, and on June 20, the Congressman received a phone call from The White House for a last minute policy meeting with President Trump and several representatives.

    Zeldin recalled, “All I was thinking of was ‘where’s the flag?’”

    After the meeting, Congressman Zeldin told President Trump about the flag.

    “You could tell the story was impacting him, he was deeply moved by it, he was moved by Donato’s story, the first responders, the journey of that flag from the Trade Center, overseas being flown over a base to back home,” said Mr. Zeldin, adding that the President brought him into the Oval Office where he had an aide write down Panico’s story for a museum, and posed for a picture behind his Resolute Desk to send home to Donato.

    Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

    Congressman Zeldin says when he meets with the President like he did when he rode in his motorcade with him to a GOP fundraiser in Southampton last month, President Trump asked about Donato.

    Donato feels an unspoken bond with the current Commander-In-Chief, a man he has never met, but respects as a patriot, as he does his fellow New Yorkers and Americans who still suffer pain, sorrow, and illness from 9/11.

    Panico still shakes when the calendar turns to September. He and we will Never Forget.

     

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  • A Look Back at Steve Scott’s Interviews With James Earl Ray, The Man Who Pleaded Guilty To Killing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — James Earl Ray pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which happened 50 years ago Wednesday.

    But until his death at the age of 70 in 1998, Ray maintained that the guilty plea notwithstanding, he was not the one who killed Dr. King.

    WCBS 880’s Steve Scott interviewed Ray several times – including two radio interviews in the prison where Ray was serving his sentence, first in 1992 and again shortly before Ray died in 1998.

    Ray was a footnote in the grand scheme of history, Scott noted. But in 1992, Ray published a book, “Who Killed Martin Luther King? The True Story by the Alleged Assassin.” Upon seeing the book, Scott thought Ray might be an interesting person to talk to.

    Scott went through Ray’s publisher to get in contact with him, and not long afterward, Ray called him at home.

    “I was taking a nap one day, and got a collect call from a maximum security prison in Nashville, Tennessee, and there was James Earl Ray on the other end of the phone,” Scott said. “And I interviewed him, and then I asked him, I said, ‘Hey listen, if I can get myself down to Nashville, would you be willing to sit down in a room with me and record a radio interview face-to-face talking about the King assassination?’”

    Scott said Ray responded, “Well, you know, they don’t like me a whole lot,” but said Scott could ask prison authorities. The prison authorities in turn said there were no rules against an interview, so Scott could come down to talk to Ray if he so desired.

    So Scott, who was working in Chicago at the time, headed to Nashville and met with Ray at the Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville in 1992. Ray laughed as Scott played him a clip of CBS News’ Walter Cronkite from the night Dr. King was assassinated.

    “Dr. Martin Luther King, the apostle of nonviolence in the civil rights movement, has been shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee. Police have issued an all-points bulletin for a well-dressed young white man seen running from the scene,” Cronkite said in the clip.

    Ray said: “Well-dressed? That couldn’t have been me.”

    Ray had been a fugitive from a Missouri prison at the time of the King assassination. He had a long criminal record that included armed robbery, burglary, forgery and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, CBS News reported.

    Speaking to Scott, Ray said he was a low-level crook who ran guns over the Canadian and Mexican borders. He said he was duped into being in Memphis when Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968.

    Ray fled the city shortly after the shooting and was captured in London two months afterward, CBS News recalled. He signed a confession with a detailed description of how investigators claimed the crime happened, and went on to plead guilty, CBS News recalled.

    CBS News reported the prosecutor in the case, Phil M. Canale Jr., maintained there was no evidence of a conspiracy in the King assassination. Canale did not outline a motive for the killing, nor did he accuse Ray, who was white, of being racist, CBS News reported.

    Ray tried to withdraw the guilty plea three days after issuing it even though he had told the judge he understood the plea could not be appealed, CBS News reported. He claimed at the time that he was set up by a shadowy gun dealer he had met in Montreal and whom he knew only as Raoul, and said he himself was changing a tire at the time King was killed, CBS News reported.

    Authorities never found a connection between the man identified as Raoul and the slaying, and several courts said there was never evidence of anyone else’s involvement, CBS News reported.

    Ray told Scott in the 1992 interview that he was not involved in any way with the King assassination, and he said he pleaded guilty out of concern that his brother and father – the latter also a prison escapee who had been on the lam for more than four decades – might also face charges otherwise.

    Scott: “James, I’ll ask you again, did you kill Martin Luther King?”

    Ray: “No, I had nothing to do with the shooting of Martin Luther King, and I had no advance knowledge of it. But having said that, I had been, you know, committing criminal offenses. But I wouldn’t have got no 99 years for what I was doing.”

    Scott: “You confessed to the King murder.”

    Ray: “Yes… I didn’t really confess to it. I entered a guilty plea. There’s a difference between, you know, a confession and a guilty plea.”

    Scott: “But why plead guilty to one of the most notorious murders of the 20th century if you didn’t do it?

    Ray: “If I didn’t enter a guilty plea, they might charge my brother Jerry Ray for as a conspirator in the Martin Luther King murder.”

    Scott: “Who had nothing to do with it?”

    Ray: “He was working. They knew he was working at the time. He was working in Chicago at the time, six days a week. They also said they might arrest my father, and my father, he’d escaped from prison in 1925, and he’d been a fugitive ever since. So apparently, the Justice Department found out about it, and they told my attorney, Percy Foreman, and he came and told me that if I didn’t enter a guilty plea, that you know, they might put him back in jail. And so I agreed to enter a guilty plea on those conditions.”

    In the interview, Ray suggested that the FBI was behind the King assassination, because then-Director J. Edgar Hoover was terrified of King’s influence over black America.

    Ray also reminded Scott that he was a prison escapee himself in 1968, and said, “What better way to stay under the radar than to kill Martin Luther King?”

    The U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1978 that Ray was the man who killed Dr. King. But the committee concluded that a group of racial bigots in St. Louis – with a reported $50,000 bounty on King’s head, might have been involved too, CBS News reported in 1998.

    As to whether he believes Ray was King’s assassination, Scott said: “He maintained until the day he died that he didn’t do it. Do I believe him? I’m not a big conspiracy guy. I’m really not. But there is a lot of compelling evidence – and the King family buys into this as well – that points, perhaps, to the fact that James Earl Ray at least did not act alone or didn’t do it at all. But you know what? If you give me 99 years in prison, I’m going to come up with some pretty good stories too. So the bottom line – I just don’t know.”

     

    Neil A. Carousso produced and edited the backstory video with WCBS Newsradio 880 afternoon anchor Steve Scott.

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  • Prosecutor: Mexican Drug King, Alleged Underlings Brought Enough Fentanyl Into NYC To Kill Millions

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A Mexican drug kingpin and five others were indicted Tuesday in an alleged drug smuggling conspiracy, which authorities said brought enough fentanyl into New York City to kill 10 million people.

    In the indictment filed by the New York City Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Francisco Quiroz-Zamora, 41 – also known as “Gordo” – was charged with operating as a major trafficker, conspiracy, and criminal sale of a controlled substance.

    An indictment alleged Quiroz-Zamora, of the Sinaloa Cartel, was the Mexican-based source of a recent large shipments of fentanyl to New York City, and alleged that

    A resident of San José del Cabo, Mexico, Quiroz-Zamora allegedly arranged for narcotics to be smuggled from Mexico to Arizona and California on trucks and cars and with drug couriers. He allegedly communicated directly with New York City drug customers, and arranged for members of his trafficking network to conduct drug deals, prosecutors said.

    “Kingpin or major trafficker charges carry a life sentence, and that’s important because he had direct dealings from Mexico with a distribution network in New York City and with an undercover officer, and he was responsible for sending to New York City at least 50 pounds of fentanyl, which is charged in the indictment,” New York City Special Prosecutor Bridget Brennan told WCBS 880 Producer Neil A. Carousso. “And you know, fentanyl is so deadly. It’s viewed to be responsible for what will probably turn out to be a record-breaking number of overdose deaths here in New York City in 2017.”

    Quiroz-Zamaroa was charged in connection with a bust that netted 44 pounds of fentanyl at the Umbrella Hotel in the Bronx on June 19 of last year, and on Central Park West on Aug. 4 of last year, prosecutors said.

    He received about $22,500 from an undercover officer through a Western Union wire transfer, and came to New York City on Nov. 27 of last year to collect more money from the undercover officer, prosecutors said. But agents tracked Quiroz-Zamora’s movements as he took a circuitous route from Texas to Connecticut by plane, down to Delaware, and then to New York on an Amtrak train, prosecutors said.

    Quiroz-Zamora was arrested at Penn Station on Nov. 27 and was originally charged in a complaint in Manhattan Criminal Court. He has been in custody since Nov. 29.

    Prosecutors said they also busted a stash house on Central Park West at 105th Street, which was receiving the drugs that were being supplied by the defendants.

    “What we found there was it was basically a packaging location; that the people inside that location were packaging many, many thousands of little glassines that were being filled with fentanyl or heroin, and some kind of other substance, and then ultimately, the stuff was headed for street distribution, and that was in a lovely Central Park West apartment with many other people living inside, and when you think about it, it’s a very dangerous situation,” Brennan said.

    Five other defendants were also charged in the indictment. Prosecutors alleged that Carlos Ramirez, 27, of Colorado, was caught in a bust with an undercover officer; Jesus Perez-Cabral, 20, maintained the Central Park West drug stash along with Johnny Beltrez, 33; David Rodriguez, 32, was seen carrying suspected narcotics into a car outside the Central Park West building; and Richard Rodriguez, 43, was an Uber driver who drove off with the drugs.

    Brennan emphasized that her office is cracking down on fentanyl, with overdoses having reached an all-time high of 1,400 deaths in 2017. Seizures also spiked by a factor of more than 12, from 35 pounds in 2016 to 491 in 2017.

    Brennan explained that fentanyl is about 50 times more potent than heroin, and is also cheaper to wholesalers – making dealing in it an attractive proposition for drug traffickers.

    “Because it’s a synthetic drug, it’s probably a tenth of the cost of heroin. And so, what we are seeing is that the cartel is sending to the U.S. fentanyl in place of heroin sometimes, or it’s sending up a load that mixes fentanyl with heroin. Heroin being much more expensive, the fentanyl allows them to make a whole lot more money, since when the buyers are buying the little packages in the street, they don’t know whether it contains fentanyl or heroin – it could be either – but they’re going to be paying the same price regardless,” Brennan said. “So it really enhances their ability to make a buck.”

    Brennan emphasized that millions could have been killed with the amount of fentanyl the drug traffickers brought to the city.

    “Millions, I mean, if they were people who were not tolerant of opioids; who hadn’t been using for some time, it would kill many, many people, because the amount of fentanyl which would kill someone who is not accustomed to any kind of opioid really would fit on the tip of your little finger, so think about it – we seized 400-plus pounds; nearly 500 pounds,” she said. “Think of how much damage that would do.”

    Brennan added that her office will be going after everyone in the chain of distribution of such dangerous drugs, but will not stop until finding and prosecuting the top suppliers. She emphasized how dangerous – and how disturbingly commonplace – fentanyl has become.

    “Fentanyl is now being mixed in with cocaine. It’s being pressed into counterfeit pills. And so anything on our city’s black market could be tainted with this stuff, and it could kill you. So people have to be very, very careful,” she said. “I think prevention messages are very important. I think people need to become educated and recognize that this stuff can’t be played with.”

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Neil A. Carousso is the producer in charge of content for the "Mooch and the Mrs. with Anthony and Deidre Scaramucci" podcast, exclusively via the Radio.com platform.
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