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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has named Kamala Harris as his running mate – the first black woman and South Asian American in the role.

Once a rival for the top job, the California senator of Indian-Jamaican heritage had long been considered the front-runner for the number two slot.

The former California attorney general has been urging police reform amid nationwide anti-racism protests.

Mr Biden will face President Donald Trump in the election on 3 November.

At a White House news conference on Tuesday, Mr Trump, a Republican, said he was pleased with Mr Biden’s choice, adding she did “very, very poorly” in her effort to become the Democratic nominee.

Ms Harris will debate Mr Trump’s running mate, Vice-President Mike Pence, on 7 October in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The role of a vice presidential running mate isn’t clearly defined.

One of the traditional roles is to go on the offensive in exposing the opposition’s weaknesses, while the presidential nominee focuses on communicating the party’s message, says the BBC’s North America reporter Anthony Zurcher.

A running mate is often a safe bet and minimises the chance of embarrassment.

But with Mr Biden turning 78 in November, he would be by far the oldest person to be sworn in as president, making the potential necessity for Ms Harris to stand in as president more likely than usual.

Only two other women have been nominated as vice-presidential candidates for a major party – Sarah Palin by the Republican party in 2008 and Geraldine Ferraro by the Democrats in 1984. Neither ended up on the winning ticket.

A woman of colour has never been appointed to a presidential ticket by either of the two main American political parties. No woman has won the US presidency either.

What did Biden and Harris say?

Mr Biden tweeted that he had “the great honour” to name Ms Harris as his number two.

He described her as “a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants”.

He noted how she had worked closely with his late son, Beau, when she was California’s attorney general.

“I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse,” he tweeted.

“I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”

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Adam Schultz

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Mr Biden tells Ms Harris she will be his running mate on Tuesday

Ms Harris later tweeted that Mr Biden “can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals.

“I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”

The campaign announced that Mr Biden and Ms Harris will deliver remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday afternoon on “working together to restore the soul of the nation and fight for working families to move the country forward”.

Mr Biden pledged in March to name a woman on the ticket. He had faced mounting calls to pick a black woman in recent months as the nation was convulsed by social unrest over police brutality against African Americans, a key voting bloc to the Democratic Party.

1597228100 213 Biden VP pick Kamala Harris chosen as running mate

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Media captionHarris and Biden clash over his race record

Who is Kamala Harris?

Ms Harris, 55, dropped out of the presidential race in December after failing in her bid to win the Democratic nomination.

She repeatedly clashed with Mr Biden during the primary election debates, most notably criticising his praise for the “civil” working relationship he had with former senators who favoured racial segregation.

The Democrat was born in Oakland, California, to two immigrant parents: an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father.

She went on to attend Howard University, one of the nation’s preeminent historically black colleges and universities. She has described her time there as among the most formative experiences of her life.

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Media captionWho is Kamala Harris? A look at her life and political career

Ms Harris says she’s always been comfortable with her identity and simply describes herself as “an American”.

In 2019, she told the Washington Post that politicians should not have to fit into compartments because of their colour or background. “My point was: I am who I am. I’m good with it. You might need to figure it out, but I’m fine with it,” she said.

The obvious pick

Sometimes the obvious pick is obvious for a reason. Kamala Harris was the front-runner to be Joe Biden’s running mate pretty much since the moment the presumptive Democratic nominee announced in March that he would pick a woman to be his ticket.

She’s relatively young and telegenic, and as the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants reflects the growing diversity of the Democratic Party.

What’s more, she’s been in the spotlight of the national media, having campaigned for president in 2019 and, for a while last summer, risen to near the top of some polls. Many of her rivals for the number-two spot had never faced such scrutiny, so there was no proof that they could hold up under fire.

Another underrated advantage for Ms Harris was her friendship with Mr Biden’s late son, Beau, formed when they were both attorneys general. Mr Biden places a high value on family – and that connection may have made choosing her easier.

Now Ms Harris will have a chance to hit the campaign trail again and prove that she deserves this historic pick. If she succeeds, she’ll be in prime position to seek the presidency again, perhaps as early as 2024. Today has made her a force in the Democratic Party for years to come.

What is her record?

After four years at Howard, Ms Harris went on to earn her law degree at the University of California, Hastings, and began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

She became the district attorney – the top prosecutor – for San Francisco in 2003, before being elected the first woman and the first African American to serve as California’s attorney general, the top lawyer and law enforcement official in America’s most populous state.

1597228100 806 Biden VP pick Kamala Harris chosen as running mate

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Media captionPresident Trump calls Kamala Harris “meanest” US senator

In her nearly two terms in office as attorney general, Ms Harris gained a reputation as one of the Democratic party’s rising stars, using this momentum to propel her election as California’s junior US senator in 2017. She was only the second black woman ever elected to that chamber.

She launched her candidacy for president to a crowd of more than 20,000 in Oakland at the beginning of last year.

But the senator failed to articulate a clear rationale for her campaign, and gave muddled answers to questions in key policy areas like healthcare.

She was also unable to capitalise on the clear high point of her candidacy: debate performances that showed off her prosecutorial skills, often placing Mr Biden in the line of attack.

The self-described “progressive prosecutor” tried to emphasise more left-leaning parts of her legacy – requiring body cameras for some special agents at the California Department of Justice, the first state agency to adopt them, and launching a database that provided public access to crime statistics, though she failed to gain traction.

“Kamala is a cop” became a common refrain on the campaign trail, spoiling her attempts to win over the more liberal Democratic base during the primaries. Those same law enforcement credentials could, however, prove beneficial in the general election when Democrats need to win over more moderate voters and independents.

What’s the reaction?

President Trump told reporters: “She’s a person that’s told many, many stories that weren’t true.”

He added: “She did very, very poorly in the primaries, as you know, she was expected to do well and she ended up right around 2%. So I was a little surprised that he picked her.”

Mr Trump also said Ms Harris was “very, very nasty” and “horrible” to Mr Biden during the Democratic primary debates.

“She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden and it’s hard to pick somebody that’s that disrespectful,” he said.

The Trump campaign said the choice of running mate was proof that Mr Biden is “an empty shell being filled with the extreme agenda of the radicals on the left”.

Former US President Barack Obama – whom Mr Biden served as vice-president for eight years – tweeted: “She is more than prepared for the job. She’s spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake.

“This is a good day for our country. Now let’s go win this thing.”

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Botswana: Mystery elephant deaths caused by cyanobacteria

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Toxins made by microscopic algae in water caused the previously unexplained deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana, wildlife officials say.

Botswana is home to a third of Africa’s declining elephant population.

The alarm was raised when elephant carcasses were spotted in the country’s Okavango Delta between May and June.

Officials say a total of 330 elephants are now known to have died from ingesting cyanobacteria. Poaching has been ruled out as a cause of death.

  • Africa Live: Updates on this and other stories

  • Why elephants are seeking refuge in Botswana

The toxic bacteria can occur naturally in standing water and sometimes grow into large blooms known as blue-green algae.

Warning: Some people may find the following images upsetting

The findings follow months of tests in specialist laboratories in South Africa, Canada, Zimbabwe and the US.

Many of the dead elephants were found near watering holes, but until now the wildlife authorities had doubted that the bacteria were to blame because the blooms appear on the edges of ponds and elephants tend to drink from the middle.

image copyrightSupplied

“Our latest tests have detected cyanobacterial neurotoxins to be the cause of deaths. These are bacteria found in water,” the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ Principal Veterinary Officer Mmadi Reuben told a press conference on Monday.

The deaths “stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of [water] pans”, AFP quotes him as saying.

Reports in June noted that tusks had not been removed. Poaching has been ruled out as cause of death, as has anthrax poisoning, according to senior wildlife department official Cyril Taolo.

But questions still remain about the deaths, Mr Reuben told reporters.

“We have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only. We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating.”

image copyrightSupplied

Hundreds of carcasses were spotted with the help of aerial surveys earlier this year.

Dr Niall McCann, of the UK-based charity National Park Rescue, previously told the BBC that local conservationists first alerted the government in early May, after they undertook a flight over the delta.

“They spotted 169 in a three-hour flight,” he said. “To be able to see and count that many in a three-hour flight was extraordinary.

What is cyanobacteria?

image copyrightDe Agostini/Getty Images

  • Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, is found worldwide especially in calm, nutrient-rich waters
  • Some species of cyanobacteria produce toxins that affect animals and humans
  • People may be exposed to cyanobacterial toxins by drinking or bathing in contaminated water
  • Symptoms include skin irritation, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, fever, sore throat, headache
  • Animals, birds, and fish can also be poisoned by high levels of toxin-producing cyanobacteria.

Source: WHO

Related Topics

  • Botswana

  • Wildlife
  • Elephants

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Australia’s coronavirus lockdown strategy worked. Could this be a model for the US?

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But Andrews — a Labor Party politician who has run Australia’s second-largest state since 2014 — has remained popular with Victorians throughout the lockdown, local polls show. And this week, his hardline approach was thoroughly vindicated.
On Sunday, Victoria recorded just 11 new coronavirus cases, down from over 670 at the height of the most recent outbreak last month. Next week, Melbourne will begin lifting some restrictions if new cases remain below a fortnightly average of 50 per day. A nightly curfew is slated to remain in effect until October 26.
“We can do this,” Andrews tweeted Sunday, echoing his words at the beginning of the lockdown: “We are Victorians — and we will get through this as Victorians. With grit, with guts and together.”
And while it may have provoked outrage from some elements of the Australian media, and criticism from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Victoria’s experience shows once again that targeted lockdowns are effective in containing the coronavirus: driving down infections, relieving pressure on hospitals and medical staff, and creating space for contact tracing and mass testing.
This was first shown in China, where the government imposed an intense lockdown on Wuhan, the city where cases of the virus were first detected late last year. Wuhan spent 76-days under lockdown, which was finally lifted as the daily caseload slowed to a trickle.
That was back in April, and now Wuhan is basically back to normal, even able to host massive water park raves without much concern. And the model has been successfully applied to other cities across China, including the capital Beijing, suppressing new spikes as they appear and keeping national figures down.

“The Covid-19 epidemic in our country has gone through four waves,” Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Saturday. “Besides the first wave (in Wuhan), the other epidemic waves were clusters that were regional and small-scale and were effectively controlled.”

For some lockdown skeptics, China’s experience was easy to dismiss: the country is an authoritarian, one-party state, and its methods could not necessarily be applied in democracies.

But the situation in Victoria proves that the lockdown strategy does work elsewhere, and that, given the proper information and reassurances, people are willing to make the sacrifices required to contain the virus.

With the outbreak in Victoria contained, the number of cases throughout the rest of Australia has continued to trend down. On Sunday, New South Wales, which includes Sydney, reported four new cases, while Queensland state reported just one.

New Zealand too, which on Monday began reducing social distancing regulations after daily cases dropped to zero, has seen positive results from lockdowns, enabling the country to return to relative normality far faster than nations which did not take such measures.

Elsewhere, however, lockdown strategies have been less successful, with partial closures bringing with them the misery of a full lockdown while not actually containing infections. This could make it far more difficult to introduce further restrictions in future, such as when infections spike in winter months, as most experts believe will happen.
There is also considerable political resistance to lockdowns, or even partial shutdowns, in some countries, particularly the United States, where last week Attorney General William Barr said a nationwide closure would be the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties” in history “other than slavery.”
Potential lockdowns have also provoked backlash in the European Union and United Kingdom in recent days, despite a spike in case numbers across the continent.

The US, however, remains the worst hit country in the world, with more than 6.7 million coronavirus cases and almost 200,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. As those figures potentially rise through winter, and with less and less reason to go outside, some people may start to reconsider their anti-lockdown sentiment.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested that authorities in Melbourne would consider lifting a nighttime curfew next week. The curfew is currently in effect until October 26.

CNN’s Angus Watson and Eric Cheung contributed reporting.



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Cruz: Ginsburg was ‘one of the finest Supreme Court litigators to have ever lived’

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“He obviously worked every day with Justice Ginsburg, and I will say he admired what a careful lawyer she was,” he said. “Consistently of the lawyers on the left, of the judges on the left. Chief Justice Rehnquist was always most willing to give an important opinion to Justice Ginsburg because she wrote narrow, careful opinions.”

Cruz also honed in on the importance of filling Ginsburg’s vacancy with a constitutionalist judge ahead of the November election. The senator had been on President Donald Trump’s shortlist of Supreme Court nominees.

“We’re one vote away from seeing our religious liberty rights stripped away, from our free speech stripped away, from our Second Amendment stripped away,” he added. “This election matters, and I think it is the most important issue in 2020 — electing presidents and a Senate who will nominate and confirm strong constitutionalists to the court.”

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