Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

Plus, Virginia bans conversion therapy for minors and the U.S. prepares for its first digital census.

Bloomberg drops out, endorses Biden

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday that he is suspending his presidential campaign and will endorse former Vice President Joe Biden. Bloomberg spent nearly $600 million on his campaign, but won only one primary, in the U.S. territory of American Samoa. His campaign was troubled from the outset and Bloomberg repeatedly came under fire for his past support of stop-and-frisk, a policy which racially profiled people of color. He was also criticized for his use of non-disclosure agreements to settle harassment suits with female employees.

Virginia bans conversion therapy for minors

Virginia is the latest state to ban conversion therapy for minors, the state’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday. The controversial and widely discredited practice, which targets LGBTQ youth and attempts to change their sexual or gender identities, has now been banned in 20 states. “Conversion therapy sends the harmful message that there’s something wrong with who you are,” said Northam. 

Trump taps ex-chemical industry chief to lead consumer watchdog group

The White House has nominated the former director of a chemical industry lobbying group to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal agency tasked with safeguarding consumers from dangerous products. Nancy Beck’s history with the American Chemistry Council has drawn fire from environmental advocacy groups, including the Environmental Working Group. The group’s president, Ken Cook, said Beck’s track record was “riddled with disregard” for the risks that toxic chemicals pose to human health. Beck previously led the Environmental Protection Agency’s office of chemical safety, where she rolled back Obama-era regulations on PFAS, a family of chemicals linked to birth defects.

U.S. prepares for first online census

The federal government is proceeding with its first primarily digital census in U.S. history, despite concerns that technical troubles and cybersecurity risks could harm data collection and undermine public trust in the process. Beginning on March 12, Americans are expected to be able to participate in the national headcount by going to my2020census.gov, which will be accessible to the public through July 31. The government will also conduct census responses over the phone and have paper surveys available, but the Census Bureau expects six out of 10 households to use the online portal. The accuracy of the count is critical, since census results are used to draw voting districts, determine public resources and distribute $1.5 trillion in federal funding over the next 10 years. 

‘Trump’s favorite Democrat’ beats AOC-backed challenger in Texas

Immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros, who was supported by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, lost to the more conservative incumbent, Rep. Henry Cuellar, in Texas’ 28th district primary on Tuesday. Cisneros, a former intern of Cuellar’s, was also endorsed by Justice Democrats, a progressive organization which supported Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during her 2018 campaign. Cuellar is one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in the House and voted with President Trump nearly 70% of the time during Trump’s first two years in office.