Assange extradition hearing commences in London
Something to watch for in London today: Julian Assange is set for his latest face off with the US government as his extradition hearing begins in the British courts.
Assange is wanted on 18 charges over the publication of US cables a decade ago, and faces up to 175 years in jail. He is accused of working with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of classified documents.
My colleague Ben Quinn is covering the case, reporting that in the opening exchanges lawyers acting for the US government have said “Reporting for journalism is not an excuse for breaking laws”, claiming that by disseminating material in an unredacted form, Assange knowingly put human rights activists, dissidents, journalists and their families at risk of serious harm in states operated by oppressive regimes.
As anticipated, there is a large presence of protestors outside the hearing - some even, it is reported, having crossed over from France to join the protests.
Today is only the next step in a lengthy process though. After opening arguments this week, the case is expected to be adjourned until May, when both sides will have an opportunity to lay out their evidence. The judge is unlikely to rule until several months after that, and whichever way the court decides, an appeal against the verdict is almost inevitable.
Away from Trump’s visit to India, people are still taking stock of the size of the Bernie Sanders victory in Nevada at the weekend. Here are Natasha Korecki and David Siders in Politico arguing that the Democratic establishment is truly beginning to panic about the prospect of a left-wing Sanders nomination.
“In 30-plus years of politics, I’ve never seen this level of doom. I’ve never had a day with so many people texting, emailing, calling me with so much doom and gloom”
Former candidate Andrew Yang believes that the Sanders lead may be insurmountable by the middle of March.
South Carolina is the next stop for the primaries. In 2016 Sanders was completely crushed by Hillary Clinton - she won with 73% of the vote to his 26%. It is going to be a very different story this time - with the Sanders opposition split between several candidates.
Yesterday CBS News issued a poll, taken before the Nevada result, of voting intentions in South Carolina. It places Joe Biden in the lead with 28%. Sanders, though, is a close second on 23%, with Tom Steyer (18%), Elizabeth Warren (12%) and Pete Buttigieg (10%) showing how divided the race is. And that is without factoring in the presence of Mike Bloomberg, whose strategy has been to not compete until Super Tuesday on 3 March.
Trump sings Modi's praises at massive rally in India
The “Namaste Trump” rally is a follow up to the “Howdy Modi” event that the Indian prime minister attended in Houston in September.
Before the rally in the stadium, the president, along with the first lady and Narendra Modi, attended the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad. Trump wrote “To my great friend Prime Minister Modi...Thank you for this wonderful visit!” in the guest book.
Thousands of well-wishers lined the streets before the event waving flags, with a lot of support on display for president Trump and for the relationship between India and the US. At the rally Modi lead the crowd in a chant of “Long live India-U.S. friendship.”
In his speech, Trump called Modi a “tremendously successful leader” who has transformed the country. He announced more military sales to India, including helicopters, and said he is working with Modi on a trade deal. The huge audience cheered when Trump mentioned US strikes on radical Islamic extremists.
Nevada is already in the rear-view mirror for the Democrats after the resounding win by Bernie Sanders there in the caucuses. With nearly 90% of the vote counted, the leftwing senator has 47.1% of the vote. Joe Biden has picked up 21%, and Pete Buttigieg is on13.7%, with Elizabeth Warren (9.6%) and Tom Steyer (4.7%) coming in 4th and 5th.
But it is Steyer who is in the news, after he has qualified for Tuesday’s debate, as focus turns to the South Carolina primary which seems like it is Biden’s to lose.
The president, meanwhile is up and about on a visit to India and tweeting in Hindi.
He has been addressing a huge rally with India prime minister Narendra Modi, who he described as a “true friend”.
The gathering in Ahmedabad was expected to draw a crowd of 100,000. Trump’s visit, which he has described as the “biggest event’ India has ever had, will last 36 hours.