February 2016 Current Events: U.S. News
Here are the key events in United States news for the month of February 2016.
Clinton Edges Sanders, Cruz Trumps Trump in Iowa Caucuses (Feb. 1): Iowa casts the first votes of the 2016 primary election season. In the closest Iowa Democratic caucus in history, Hillary Clinton narrowly defeats Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton receives 49.9% of the vote, Sanders 49.6%, and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley 0.6%. Thus, Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman to ever win the Iowa caucus. Based on the number of votes, Clinton receives 23 Iowa delegates and Sanders earns 21. By the end of the night, Clinton's camp declares victory and O'Malley drops out of the race. On the Republican side, Texas Senator Ted Cruz wins, taking 27.6% of the vote. Donald Trump comes in second with 24.3%. Marco Rubio finishes a strong third with 23.1%. Mike Huckabee announces he is leaving the race. Having won the Iowa caucus in 2008, Huckabee comes in ninth this year, receiving just 1.8% of the vote. One surprise is Jeb Bush's sixth place finish, coming in behind Ben Carson and Rand Paul. (Feb. 3): Kentucky Senator Rand Paul drops out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, two days after an underwhelming performance at the Iowa caucuses. During his speech announcing the end of his campaign, Paul says, "It's been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House. Today I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of liberty. I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term." Paul's senate seat is up this year. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum also suspends his campaign for the Republican nomination and endorses Rubio.
The U.S. State Department Continues to Review Emails (Feb. 1): For the first time, the U.S. State Department confirms that Hillary Clinton did have "top secret" material in her personal email account. Twenty-two of her emails cannot be made public because the information in them is too classified. The announcement is made on the same day as the Iowa caucuses. (Feb. 4): The State Department announces that a dozen emails containing what is now considered classified information were sent to the personal email accounts of Colin Powell and aides of Condoleezza Rice during their tenure in President George W. Bush's administration. The information was not considered classified at the time the emails were sent; however, now the information has been upgraded as "confidential" and "secret" in a review process by the State Department. It is the same retroactive upgrade of information used by the State Department in their recent review of Hillary Clinton's personal emails that she sent while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
FBI Investigates Flint Water Crisis (Feb. 2): The FBI begins an investigation into the water contamination in Flint, Michigan. The Flint water crisis, a man-made disaster, has been declared a state and federal emergency. According to officials, the FBI will work with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) office of inspector general and the EPA's criminal investigation division during the investigation.
Denver Beats Carolina to Win Super Bowl 50 (Feb. 7): The Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, to win their third Super Bowl in franchise history, having previously won in 1997 and 1998. The championship victory comes just two years after Denver lost badly in Super Bowl XLVIII to Seattle, 43-8. This victory in Super Bowl 50, is also Peyton Manning's second championship. At age 39, Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning is the oldest quarterback to ever play in a Super Bowl. He is also the first quarterback to lead two different teams to Super Bowl victories. Carolina Panthers quarterback and 2015 league MVP Cam Newton is thirteen years younger than Manning, the biggest age difference between two quarterbacks to oppose each other in a Super Bowl. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, rumors increase that Super Bowl 50 will be the last game of Manning's legendary career. However, the big story of Super Bowl 50 is Denver's defense, which forces two fumbles, one interception, and sacks Newton six times. Broncos linebacker Von Miller is named Super Bowl MVP.
Trump and Sanders Win New Hampshire Primary as Predicted (Feb. 9): Unlike the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire presidential primary results stay in line with polling numbers. Donald Trump wins the Republican primary, taking 35.3% of the vote. John Kasich comes in second (15.8%) and Ted Cruz third (11.7%). On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders comes in first by a wide margin as polls suggested going into the primary. Sanders receives 60.4% of the vote, Hillary Clinton 38.0%.(Feb. 10) After spending more time campaigning in New Hampshire than any other GOP candidate, Chris Christie comes in a disappointing sixth and drops out of the race. Carly Fiorina, who finished seventh in New Hampshire, also announces that she is suspending her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies (Feb. 13): Conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is found dead at age 79 in his room while vacationing on a ranch in Texas. His death leaves as many liberal justices (4) as conservatives (4) on the Supreme Court, which could deadlock upcoming cases. Immediately following Scalia's death, Congressional Republicans vow to block any nomination to replace him put forth by President Obama. However, it is Obama's constitutional duty to fill the vacancy. Republican presidential candidates call for Obama to wait and let the next president pick Scalia's replacement.
Jeb Bush Withdraws from Presidential Race (Feb. 20): After finishing fourth in the South Carolina primary, Jeb Bush ends his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. His campaign and super PAC raised more than $150 million, eclipsing the fundraising of other candidates, but it wasn't enough to propel him ahead of Donald Trump or Marco Rubio.
Senate Leaders Vow to Deny Obama's Supreme Court Nomination Consideration (Feb. 23): Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announces that the Senate will not hold confirmation hearings, vote on President Obama's pick to replace Antonin Scalia, or even meet with the nominee. In addition, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to McConnell saying they refuse to hold hearings on the nominee. Republicans in the House and Senate have said they believe the next president should nominate Scalia's replacement. Democrats accuse Republicans of politicizing the body that constitutionally is removed from politics.
Spotlight Wins Best Picture Oscar (Feb. 28): From the moment he took the stage, host Chris Rock took aim at the film industry for its lack of diversity. "You want diversity? We got diversity. Please welcome Emily Blunt and somebody whiter, Charlize Theron," he said. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was resoundingly criticized for failing for the second year in a row to nominate a black actor in any of the major acting categories. Spotlight, about the sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church won Best Picture, Leonardo DiCaprio won Best Actor for The Revenant, and Brie Larson won Best Actress for The Room. For a full list of winners, see 2015 Oscar Winners.
The cast of Spotlight
Source: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP