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Media captionHarris: ‘America is crying out for leadership’

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris have attacked “whining” President Donald Trump as an incompetent leader who has left the US “in tatters”.

The pair held their first campaign event together, a day after Mr Biden unveiled Ms Harris as his number two.

President Trump hit back, saying Ms Harris had “dropped like a rock” in her own presidential bid.

Mr Biden will face Mr Trump, a Republican, in November’s election.

What did Biden say?

Wednesday’s event at a school in Wilmington, Delaware, was not open to the public, with Mr Biden, 77, citing coronavirus prevention needs. Both candidates walked on stage wearing masks to address a group of masked journalists.

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Reuters

Mr Biden noted that Ms Harris, a US senator from California, was the first woman of colour to serve as a presidential running mate for a major US party.

Mr Biden said: “The choice we make this November is going to decide the future of America for a very, very long time.”

He continued: “Donald Trump has already started his attacks, calling Kamala, quote, nasty, whining about how she is, quote, mean to his appointees.

“It’s not a surprise because whining is what Donald Trump does best, better than any president in American history.

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Media captionKamala Harris’ childhood home reacts to Biden pick

“Is anybody surprised that Donald Trump has a problem with a strong woman, or strong women across the board?”

He also attacked Mr Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, the unemployment rate and “his politics of racist rhetoric that appeals to division”.

What did Harris say?

Coming to the podium next, Ms Harris said: “I am ready to get to work.”

1597308888 689 Joe Biden and Kamala Harris say Trump has left US

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Media captionJoe Biden: Will it be third time lucky in 2020?

The 55-year-old former prosecutor told reporters: “Everything we care about, our economy, our health, our children, the kind of country we live in, it’s all on the line.”

Ms Harris – the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica – continued: “America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him.

“He inherited the longest economic expansion in history from Barack Obama and Joe Biden. And then, like everything else he inherited, he ran it straight into the ground.”

A bare-knuckle fight

Much has been made of the differences between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris since he announced her as his running mate on Tuesday afternoon. Biden is more than 20 years her senior. He’s a white man, son of working-class parents in Pennsylvania. She’s a multiracial woman from California, daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India.

In their first joint appearance on Wednesday, however, they both spoke about what they had in common. “Her story is America’s story,” Mr Biden said. “Different from mine in many particulars, but also not so different in the essentials.”

Ms Harris echoed this, saying that the two candidates are “cut from the same cloth”. It’s the kind of message you’d imagine would come from a campaign that’s calling for national healing and unity.

Of course, that didn’t stop either candidate from going on the attack against their general election opponents. It’s the first salvo for this ticket in what is sure to be a bare-knuckle fight for the White House.

How did Trump respond?

At a White House news conference, Mr Trump disparaged Ms Harris’ failed bid for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, during which she fiercely attacked Mr Biden’s record on race.

Mr Trump said: “I watched her poll numbers go boom, boom, boom, down to almost nothing, and she left angry, she left mad.

1597308888 669 Joe Biden and Kamala Harris say Trump has left US

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Media captionHarris and Biden clash over his race record

“She said horrible things about him, including accusations made about him by a woman, where she, I guess, believed the woman.

“Now all of a sudden she’s running to be vice-president saying how wonderful he is.”

Last year Mr Biden was accused by a number of women of unwelcome contact, including touching and kissing. Mr Biden acknowledged at the time that he must respect personal space.

1597308888 805 Joe Biden and Kamala Harris say Trump has left US

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

A more serious allegation surfaced this year from a former aide who accused Mr Biden of sexually assaulting her in the halls of Congress in 1993. He denied the claim.

Ms Harris, who had dropped out of the presidential race at that point, said Tara Reade “has a right to tell her story”.

California state records also show Mr Trump donated to Ms Harris when she was a candidate for the state’s attorney general in 2011 and 2013, while he was still a private citizen.

Shortly before the Biden-Harris event, Mr Trump goaded Mr Biden for remaining at home for much of the campaign so far amid the pandemic lockdown.

During a White House meeting with teachers who said that children learnt better in class than remotely, the president asked a asked: “So if you’re a presidential candidate and you’re sitting in a basement and you’re looking at a computer, that’s not a good thing?”

He also tweeted an attack on the Biden-Harris ticket, saying they would put Senator Cory Booker, who is black, in charge of low-income housing. Critics said the tweet was racist.

What happens next?

Mr Biden will formally accept the Democratic presidential nomination at next week’s convention, which will largely be a virtual event because of the pandemic.

He became the party’s presumptive nominee in April after Bernie Sanders, his only remaining competitor, ended his own campaign.

Meanwhile Mr Trump will be nominated for a second four-year term in the White House by his fellow Republicans at their party convention a week later.

A 10-week campaign will follow before voters deliver their verdict in the general election on 3 November.

Mr Trump and Mr Biden will hold three debates in September and October. Ms Harris will debate Vice-President Mike Pence in October.

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A Tory MP Has Branded His Government’s Decision On Trans Rights A “Crushing Disappointment”

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Trade Secretary and Women and Equalities minister Liz Truss (Credit: PA)


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A Tory MP has branded the government’s decision to row back on plans to reform transgender rights “a crushing disappointment”.

Crispin Blunt tabled an urgent question in the Commons on Thursday after ministers dropped plans to allow trans people to self-identify under reforms to the Gender Recognition Act,.

He said women and equalities minister Liz Truss, who is also the trade secretary, had presented MPs with “an inherently unstable settlement that will have to be addressed hopefully sooner rather than later” and that delays in its release had contributed to upset in the trans community.

“Does she appreciate that trans people cannot discern any strong or coherent reason for this screeching change of direction?” he added.

“Does she understand the anger at the prospect of them receiving their fundamental rights being snatched away?

“The longer this uncertainty has been allowed to continue, the worse the fear and anger have become.”

The Conservative backbencher said the contrast in both Ms Truss’s reputation across her twin briefs and her work on equalities compared to that of her predecessor Penny Mordaunt was “horribly stark”. 

“I welcome and enjoy the dynamism of my right honourable friend, that she brings to her unprecedented historic responsibilities in retaking control of British trade policy after nearly half a century,” he said.

“The command of technical, economic and legal detail required is at once intimidating and inspiring. As a great trading nation, it commands all her attention and she has risen to the trade challenge.

“The prime minister has done her, and the nation, no favours by continuing to overburden her after the election at such an extraordinary time for trade.”

He added: “Does she see that the underlying trend of the majority of people in this country is following the path set by a change of attitude in society a generation earlier towards those with different sexualities?

“And the vast majority, the vast, vast majority of LGBT people will stand in solidarity with trans people. Does she appreciate that this statement does not command a majority in this House?”

But fellow Tory MP Ben Bradley defended Ms Truss, accusing Mr Blunt of being “way out on a limb”.

He wrote on Twitter: [In my opinion], most colleagues welcome the compromise where can make things administratively easier for trans people, whilst still taking a good look at the implications of education, healthcare and treatments.”

He added that Ms Truss had found a “fair balance” in her response, and that any issues with the approach stems from the “previous administration massively overpromising” on potential changes to the process.

Under the government’s plans, the need for a Gender Recognition Certificate for a person to legally change sex will remain the same, but the process will be “modernised” and the cost reduced.

Ms Truss said the government is “also taking action to ensure transgender people can access the appropriate healthcare they need”.

Labour’s shadow minister for women and equalities, Marsha de Cordova, said minsters had “let trans people down…after three years of toxic debate”.

Ms Truss said she believed the “right conclusion” had been reached to ensure “proper checks and balances” in the system and that the government’s proposals were “in line with other major nations”.

“We believe in individual liberty and in the humanity and dignity of every person,” she added.

“It is my view that the balance struck in the existing legislation is correct.”

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Dreamworld accident: Australian theme park fined over four deaths

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image copyrightAlamy

image caption(L-R) Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozbeh Araghi and Cindy Low died in 2016

The operator of Australia’s Dreamworld theme park has been fined A$3.6m (£2m; $2.5m) over the deaths of four people on a malfunctioning water ride.

Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozbeh Araghi and Cindy Low died in October 2016 when their raft crashed into another and overturned, crushing them.

Park operator Ardent Leisure admitted in July to breaching safety laws.

The company said it accepted responsibility and had worked to improve safety standards.

The four victims – all adults – died almost instantly after the Thunder River Rapids Ride rafts collided, an inquiry heard in 2018. Two children were also on board but survived.

The accident at Australia’s biggest theme park was caused by a pump that malfunctioned near the end of the ride.

On Monday, a court said the company had failed in its duty of care and should have taken steps to make the ride safer.

“Steps were not that complex or burdensome and only mildly inconvenient and really were inexpensive,” Magistrate Pamela Dowse said.

“They operated the most iconic amusement park in the country, which targeted and attracted families.

“There was complete and blind trust placed in the defendant by every guest who rode the Thunder River Rapids Ride.”

image copyrightCORONERS COURT OF QUEENSLAND
image captionThe raft carrying passengers flipped in the collision

The size of the fine reflected the severity of the company’s failure, she added. Ardent had been facing a maximum A$4.5m fine.

Chief executive John Osborne said: “Ardent accepts responsibility for this tragedy, and we fully accept the consequences.”

Families of the victims also delivered statements to the sentencing court on Monday, expressing grief and anger over their loss.

  • Australia theme park admits guilt over ride deaths

“That Cindy died violently is unacceptable to us,” said Helen Cook, aunt to Ms Low. “Knowing her death could have been avoided is unacceptable and infuriating.”

In February, a coroner found the accident had been “only a matter of time” as the theme park had not properly assessed the ride’s safety risk in over 30 years.

Dreamworld briefly shut down for six weeks after the accident in 2016, during which it demolished the ride.

The company has reported operating losses every year since the accident, including more than A$260m in losses in its theme park division.

It is also fighting a class action from shareholders who claim the company misled them on the park’s safety measures.

Related Topics

  • Theme parks

  • Queensland
  • Australia

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Swiss voters clearly reject curbs on EU immigration

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The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) had forced a binding referendum on the EU agreement in a bid to curb immigration to the country where foreigners make up a quarter of the population.

The measure lost by 62%-38% margin.

The SVP – the biggest party in parliament – has long pushed to take back control of immigration, echoing some arguments pro-Brexit politicians used in the run-up to Britain’s exit from the EU. It won a referendum on the issue in 2014, only to see parliament water down its implementation.

Opponents said the plan would have robbed business of skilled workers and torpedoed accords that enhance non-EU member Switzerland’s access to the crucial EU single market.

Under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, the referendum could have forced the government to annul the EU agreement if negotiations did not produce a deal on ending the pact voluntarily, something Brussels has ruled out.

A “guillotine clause” meant that ending free movement would have toppled other bilateral pacts on land and air transport, procurement, technical barriers to trade, and research.

Around two-thirds of the 2.1 million foreigners living in Switzerland in 2019 were citizens of the EU, as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, which with Switzerland are members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

More than 450,000 Swiss live in the EU.

The domestic political battle immediately turned to Switzerland’s biggest foreign policy headache: a stalled treaty meant to cement ties with the EU but which critics say infringes too much on Swiss sovereignty and would never win a referendum.

The treaty would have Bern routinely adopt single market rules and create a new platform to resolve disputes.

With questions open over state aid, rules to protect high Swiss wages, and access to welfare benefits, the Swiss have dragged their feet while trying to forge a domestic consensus, triggering a row over cross-border stock trading.

Amid relatively high turnout, voters narrowly blocked an attempt to make it easier to shoot wolves deemed a threat to livestock.

In an unexpectedly close vote, they approved the government’s plans to buy new fighter jets for up to 6 billion Swiss francs ($6.46 billion).

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