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Aug 12, 2020, 09:46 AM
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 1 
 on: Today at 05:21 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
‘That’s all they’ve got?’ MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Mika mock Trump’s attacks against Biden-Harris

on August 12, 2020
RAW STORY
By Travis Gettys

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski laughed out loud at President Donald Trump’s first attack ad against the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket.

The Trump campaign released an ad calling Biden “slow” and Harris “phony,” after the California Democrat was named his vice-presidential running mate, and the “Morning Joe” hosts were decidedly unimpressed.

“That’s funny,” Scarborough said, as both of them laughed. “Yeah, good luck with that.”

“That’s all they’ve got?” Brzezinski added. “That was a look at Trump’s campaign’s opening line of attack.”

“Good luck with that,” Scarborough continued. “By the way, ‘slow Joe’ knows the difference between World War I and World War II. He knows what year the pandemic of 1918 was, ‘slow Joe’ knows that the pandemic of 1918 and 1919 didn’t end World War II. ‘Slow Don’ thinks it did. Strange, because we just passed the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I wonder what war Donald Trump thought that ended.”

Scarborough remains surprised that Trump would raise questions about Biden’s mental fitness, given all of his own on-camera blunders.

“It doesn’t work when you have somebody who is as challenged behind a microphone as Donald Trump,” he said. “That tactic doesn’t work, and when you have Donald Trump giving money to Kamala Harris and Ivanka Trump giving money to Kamala Harris, [and then] saying that she’s a left-wing radical, it doesn’t work. Remember they tried that against Barack Obama in 2008? Said he was the second-most liberal member of Congress and he was — no, no. It’s just saying, that tactic won’t work. it might have worked on Bernie [Sanders]. It might have worked on Elizabeth Warren, because their political personas fit more into that. Kamala Harris just doesn’t. You can’t attack her for being a tough prosecutor and then attack her for being a left-wing freak at the same time.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIxIFCl2gtc&feature=emb_title

 2 
 on: Today at 03:54 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
'Good day for our country': Democrats hail Kamala Harris as VP pick

Party leaders and progressive groups appear largely united behind Joe Biden’s choice of running mate

Daniel Strauss
Guardian
Wed 12 Aug 2020 07.15 BST

Democrats from all corners of the party appeared largely united behind Joe Biden’s selection of the California senator Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday.

The responses came almost immediately after Biden unveiled Harris as his choice for the vice presidential nominee, less than a week before the Democratic national convention, where Biden will be formally nominated as the presidential candidate for his party.

“I’ve known Senator @KamalaHarris for a long time. 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,” Barack Obama tweeted. “This is a good day for our country. Now let’s go win this thing.”

Hillary Clinton said she was “thrilled to welcome” Harris to the ticket. “She’s already proven herself to be an incredible public servant and leader,” the former presidential candidate tweeted.

Harris had been one of Biden’s rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination until she dropped out of the race late last year, but both would be considered center-left, though Harris has cultivated some more progressive credentials. While she was often criticized as too much of a centrist and establishment candidate, as Biden was, praise also came from high-profile progressive leaders on Tuesday, including two of Biden’s other former rivals, the senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

“Congratulations to @KamalaHarris, who will make history as our next Vice President,” Sanders tweeted. “She understands what it takes to stand up for working people, fight for health care for all, and take down the most corrupt administration in history. Let’s get to work and win.”

Warren, who had been in the running to be Biden’s running mate, tweeted that Harris would be a “great partner” to Biden “in making our government a powerful force for good in the fight for social, racial, and economic justice.”

The liberal group Democracy for America (DFA), which had endorsed Sanders for president this year before he dropped out, also expressed support.

“Vice President Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris gives Democrats an historic opportunity to defeat Donald Trump, break through a glass ceiling for Black women, and win majorities in both the House and the Senate that can deliver the bold progressive reforms we need to restore America,” the group’s CEO, Yvette Simpson, said in a statement.

Rahna Epting, executive director of the progressive public policy advocacy group MoveOn, said in a statement: “Members have shown excitement around a Harris pick.

“Joe Biden made a powerful choice in Harris: a woman of incredible accomplishment, a fighter for our democracy, and a compassionate and empathetic leader,” she added.

The Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a progressive who has not endorsed Biden, tweeted: “I’ve fought alongside Senator @KamalaHarris for direct cash payments during the pandemic and for clean water as a human right. Now let’s defeat Trump and make those policies a reality.”

The progressive New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was more muted in her reaction, reportedly telling USA Today that Harris “complements [Biden] really well” and “rounds out his ticket”. Harris “is aligned with him on quite a few issues”, she said.

During the presidential primaries, one of the main criticisms of Harris was that she did not clearly define her positions. On healthcare, for example, she co-sponsored Sanders’s Medicare for All bill and said she favored eliminating private healthcare, before later unveiling a healthcare plan that kept a significant role for the industry.

Harris has been a prominent voice on racial justice. But her record as California’s “top cop” has also drawn scrutiny from progressives over her approach to police reform, prisoners’ rights and truancy among other issues.

Critics had generally preferred one of the other finalists in Biden’s deliberations process for Biden’s running mate. While Warren was the favored potential running mate among the liberal wing of the Democratic party, others advocated for former Georgia state representative Stacey Abrams.

But Harris fulfills a major requirement among some progressive Americans: that he pick a woman of color.

And among the many candidates mentioned by Biden himself, or anonymous Democratic operatives in articles gaming out his choices, or pundits, there was no single person who would satisfy all the interest groups and sectors of the Democratic party.

Biden also strongly considered the former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth, Florida congresswoman Val Demings, and California congresswoman Karen Bass.

Donors for Harris, Biden, and other former presidential candidates said Harris’s qualifications were undeniable and she would breathe extra life into the Biden campaign.

“Phone has blown up. People are fired up. The historic nature of it but also she’s a great campaigner who will help us win. She’s already gone thru primaries and is known,” a Harris campaign donor said in an email to the Guardian.

Ami Copeland, a former national finance director for Obama’s first presidential campaign, said she did not “anticipate too much blowback” from Harris’s nomination. “Stakes are too high and it’s not 2016,” she said.

Republicans, meanwhile, were eager to falsely paint Harris as a radical leftist, despite many in her own party seeing her as a centrist. At a press conference Tuesday afternoon Donald Trump said: “So she did very poorly in the primaries and now she’s chosen, so let’s see how that works out.”

**************

Kamala Harris: trailblazer who went from Joe Biden’s rival to running mate

Harris became the second Black woman and the first South Asian-American person to serve as a US senator and will be the first Black vice-president if she and Biden defeat Trump

Joan E Greve in Washington
12 Aug 2020 23.47 BST
Guardian

Just a year ago, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden were sparring on a debate stage over racism. Harris, then a Democratic presidential candidate, attacked her rival over his past opposition to mandated busing to integrate racially segregated schools.

“I do not believe you are a racist,” Harris told Biden. “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me.”

A year later, Harris is once again sharing a stage with Biden, after agreeing to serve as the former vice-president’s running mate in his bid to unseat Donald Trump.

Biden announced Tuesday that he had selected Harris as his running mate, making the California senator the first woman of color to join a major political party’s presidential ticket.

Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, will be the first Black and Asian American vice-president if she and Biden defeat Trump in the November presidential election.

Harris’ career has been defined by trailblazing. In 2003, after several years in the Alameda county district attorney’s office, Harris became the first Black woman to be elected as San Francisco’s district attorney. Seven years later, she made history again as the first Black woman to be elected as California attorney general.

“I’m proud to call @KamalaHarris my dear friend and sister – and next year, I’ll be even more proud to call her our Vice President,” tweeted fellow senator Cory Booker.

“This is history. Kamala is a trailblazer who will serve this country well as the first Black and Asian American woman on a major party’s ticket.”

    Cory Booker (@CoryBooker)

    I'm proud to call @KamalaHarris my dear friend and sister—and next year, I'll be even more proud to call her our Vice President.

    This is history. Kamala is a trailblazer who will serve this country well as the first Black and Asian American woman on a major party's ticket. pic.twitter.com/zUlL2TXkJ3
    August 11, 2020

As a member of the Senate judiciary committee, she quickly became known for her tough questioning of Trump administration officials, such as former attorney general Jeff Sessions, who said Harris made him “nervous”.

During the tense supreme court confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s controversial pick Brett Kavanaugh, Harris earned praise from liberals for her line of questioning.

“Can you think of any laws that give the government the power to make decisions about the male body?” she asked the conservative judge as she grilled him on his views on Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 case that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.

However, while Harris’ past roles appear to have prepared her well for committee hearings, her prosecutorial record has also attracted criticism, with many criminal justice activists arguing Harris did not go far enough to crack down on police misconduct.

That criticism hampered Harris’s own presidential campaign, which came to an end in December. The rising star had originally been considered a frontrunner for the nomination, and she jumped in the polls after she confronted Biden at the first Democratic debate.

But Harris’ post-debate polling bump was short-lived, and she was forced to suspend her campaign late last year as her fundraising dried up. After her withdrawal, Harris and Biden indicated they were on excellent terms, despite their debate dust-up, and she endorsed her former rival in March.

There had been widespread speculation that Harris would join the Democratic presidential ticket, particularly because she worked with Biden’s late son. Harris and Beau Biden simultaneously served as state attorneys general, and the pair developed a close friendship as they worked on cases together. Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46.

“Back when Kamala was attorney general, she worked closely with Beau,” Biden said in a tweet announcing his selection. “I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”

The selection of Harris could further improve Biden’s standing among Black voters, who were instrumental in his successful bid to capture the Democratic nomination. During her presidential campaign, Harris frequently cited her degree from Howard University, a historically Black university, and her membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation’s oldest Black sorority, to help her develop closer ties with African American women.

Harris’ presence on the presidential ticket could help boost African American turnout, but she will also probably face continued criticism over her long prosecutorial career, particularly as the nation experiences a reckoning over racism and policing.

In the weeks after the death of George Floyd, an African American man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, Biden was urged to choose a Black woman as his running mate. However, many progressives complained Harris’s background as a prosecutor made her an inappropriate choice.

Those critiques were clearly not enough to sway Biden, who described Harris as “a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants”.

*************

In choosing Kamala Harris, Biden may have found the anti-Trump

Biden’s VP pick ‘makes America look more like America’ – and now Harris is better placed than anyone to be the first female president

David Smith in Washington
Guardian
Wed 12 Aug 2020 00.29 BST

Joe Biden may have just chosen the anti-Trump as his running mate – and, if he wins, as his successor.

The selection of California senator Kamala Harris for the Democrats’ vice-presidential nomination puts a woman of colour on a major party ticket for the first time in America’s 244-year-old history.

It also comes loaded with symbolism in an era that has seen the election of a president roared on by white supremacists, the dawn of the #MeToo movement and a mass uprising for the cause of Black Lives Matter. Tuesday shows how the picture is changing.

“It makes it look more like America,” Eugene Robinson, a newspaper columnist, told the MSNBC network. “It makes it more like the America that we are becoming than the other party which looks more like the America we once were, or the America that many think we once were.”

Just when it seemed the contrast between these national visions could not be more vivid, it became even more so. The moment of racial reckoning became even more acute.

And given Biden’s age – he will be 78 years old on inauguration day – and his lack of clear commitment to serving a second term, Harris is now better placed than anyone to be America’s first female president, a glass ceiling that Hillary Clinton did not manage to shatter in 2016.

That is why this vice-presidential pick is way more important than usual. John Adams, the first person to hold the job, called it “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived”. John Nance Garner famously said it “is not worth a bucket of warm spit”. Walter Mondale said: “The office is handmade for ridicule and for dismissal. In the nature of it, you always look like a supplicant, a beggar, a person on a string.”

Clinton’s choice in 2016, Tim Kaine, was no game changer. She has said her three considerations for choosing a running mate were someone ready to take over as president; a governing partner she was comfortable with; someone who could help her win the election.

With hindsight, she may have got those priorities in the wrong order. After four years of Donald Trump and his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic at a cost of tens of thousands of lives, Democrats understand that winning is everything. That will have figured prominently in Biden’s thinking, despite his insistence on finding someone with whom he is “simpatico”.

As a candidate, Harris’s strengths are formidable and her weaknesses are relatively slight. Her legal career means she is well placed to prosecute the case against Mike Pence in the vice-presidential debate in October and against Trump’s administration in general.

She has demonstrated this skill during congressional hearings, notably grilling the president’s highly controversial supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and even in debates against Biden himself. Trump cited both incidents at a White House briefing on Tuesday, branding Harris as “nasty”, echoing the “nasty woman” phrase he used about Clinton in 2016. But he has, so far, failed to come up with a disparaging nickname for her.

Her career as a former prosecutor also goes some way to neutralising Trump’s “law and order” campaign theme, which seeks to portray Biden and Democrats as soft on crime. And despite hailing from “coastal elite” California, Harris is less vulnerable than a choice such as the progressive senator Elizabeth Warren would have been to the Republican critique that Biden is a Trojan horse for the radical left.

Biden performed strongly among African American voters during the Democratic primary but continues to make gaffes, saying in May: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

Democrats will be hoping that Harris’s historic candidacy dampens such concerns. Like Barack Obama, she is mixed race (her father from Jamaica, her mother from India), spent part of her childhood abroad (in Canada), protested against apartheid in South Africa and became a lawyer and then a Democratic senator.

She has seen the world through eyes that no white man can. In her memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, Harris describes how her mother became conditioned to discrimination at airport customs because of her accent and skin colour. So when Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, who is white, first went through customs together, her muscle memory kicked in, she writes.

“I was preparing myself in the usual way, making sure we had everything just right and in order. Meanwhile, Doug was as relaxed as ever. It frustrated me that he was so casual. He was genuinely perplexed, innocently wondering, ‘What’s the problem?’ We had been raised in different realities. It was eye-opening for us both.”

Harris’s selection offers a measure of redemption for Democrats who, after holding the most diverse primary race in history, still went for the septuagenarian white guy. The defeat of Harris and others was a bitter blow for many in a party that has declared Black women to be its “backbone”.

Now, as Trump leans into white identity politics, Democrats believe that Harris will maximise the turnout of female and African American voters, not least in critical swing states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where a dip in Black turnout last time cost Clinton dearly.

But this will be a stress test for Democratic party unity. Harris can be seen as being to the left of Biden, but that is not saying very much. Progressives have worried about her career as California’s attorney general, including her support of an initiative that threatened the parents of repeatedly truant schoolchildren with prison sentences.

So far, however, the Democrats have done a better job than in 2016 of putting their differences to one side, such is the existential threat posed by Trump. They will know that in voting for Biden-Harris in 2020, they may well be voting for Harris in 2024.

“The Democrats now have a presidential ticket that reflects the American people better than the GOP ticket and every presidential ticket in US history,” tweeted the historian and author Ibram X Kendi. “It’s not everything. It’s not the crushing of racism + sexism. It’s not the freeing of Black womanhood. But it can be the start.”

************

Obama praises selection of Harris as running mate: ‘Biden nailed this decision’

on August 11, 2020
Raw Story
By Matthew Chapman

On Tuesday, following the selection of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) for former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate, ex-President Barack Obama released a statement lauding the choice.

“Choosing a vice president is the first important decision a president makes,” wrote Obama. “Joe Biden nailed this decision. By choosing Senator Kamala Harris as America’s next vice president, he’s underscored his own judgment and character.”

“I’ve known Senator Harris for a long time. She is more than prepared for the job,” continued Obama. “She’s spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for the folks who need a fair shake. Her own life story is one that I and so many others can see ourselves in: a story that says that no matter where you come from, what you look like, who you worship, or who you love, there’s a place for you here. It’s a fundamentally American perspective, one that’s led us out of the hardest times before. And it’s a perspective we can all rally behind right now.”

Obama closed out by writing, “Now let’s go win this thing.”

    Barack Obama statement: “Joe Biden nailed this decision. By choosing Senator Kamala Harris as America’s next vice president, he’s underscored his own judgment and character.” pic.twitter.com/OgiXqxMZGp

    — Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 11, 2020

**********

Donald Trump and his campaign launch scattergun attacks on Kamala Harris

Trump campaign struggles to reconcile accusations that Biden’s VP pick was an overzealous prosecutor and that the pair won’t be tough enough on crime

David Smith in Washington
Guardian
Wed 12 Aug 2020 04.09 BST

Donald Trump’s reelection campaign wasted no time in targeting Kamala Harris with scattergun attacks that sought to define her as “the most liberal leftist nominee” ever to run for vice-president.

The US president hurled insults from the bully pulpit of the White House while his campaign released an attack ad within minutes of Democratic rival Joe Biden’s announcement, following up with a media conference call and barrage of emails.

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Would Destroy America,” read the stark headline of one. A fundraising email made reference to “Sleepy Joe Biden and Phony Kamala Harris”.

With 77-year-old Biden far from certain to run for a second term, Harris, now his most likely successor, is naturally more of a target than most running mates. But the Trump campaign struggled to reconcile an apparent contradiction: accusing her of being an overzealous criminal prosecutor in the past on the one hand, while suggesting that she and Biden would neglect law and order on the other.

“She is a person that’s told many, many stories that weren’t true,” Trump, who has made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims while in office according to the Washington Post, told reporters at the White House.

Trump – who twice donated to Harris’s campaign for California attorney general – went on to assert, without offering evidence, that she supports raising taxes, “socialised medicine”, slashing funds for the military and putting a stop to fracking.

“She did very, very poorly in the primaries, as you know,” Trump said. Harris dropped out of the Democratic primary race in December, before the first nominating contests were held in Iowa and New Hampshire, saying she did not have funds to continue.

The president went on to call Harris “nasty”, a word he often applied to his opponent Hillary Clinton in 2016, as he recounted her grilling of his supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

The word came up again as he reflected on the Democratic primary. “She was very, very nasty... she was probably nastier than even Pocahontas to Joe Biden. She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden. And it’s hard to pick somebody that’s that disrespectful.”

It was a reference to the opening primary debate in which Harris challenged Biden over his past opposition to school busing, although she also said, “I do not believe you are a racist,” and he has since made clear he does not hold a grudge.

The Trump campaign appears to have settled on portraying Biden as beholden to the radical left as its least worst strategic option. It quickly folded Harris, the first woman of colour to be named to a major party US presidential ticket, into that narrative – and her voting record in the Senate does place her on the left of her party.

Marsha Blackburn, a Republican senator for Tennessee, told reporters: “This has completed the leftist takeover of the party and of their radical agenda. Kamala Harris will be the most liberal leftist nominee for VP that our country has ever seen. If you want to find proof of where she has moved left, you can start with looking at her support for Bernie Sanders’ health care takeover.”

Blackburn went on to claim that Sanders’ plan would take away private health insurance from millions of Americans and cost $32tn. Harris did imply early in the campaign that she endorsed Sanders’ Medicare for All, but later clarified that she did not favour scrapping private insurance.

Blackburn also cited Harris’s support for the Green New Deal, arguing that it would cost jobs and be hugely expensive. Harris was a supporter and co-sponsor of the original Green New Deal resolution offered by Senator Ed Markey.

The Republican senator added that the number one issue for “suburban women” is security. “What you’re going to see is a lot of ‘security moms’ that are all across this nation who are going to say, ‘You know what? Law and order is important to me and I don’t want a vice president who is out there marching in the streets with the BLM organisation. Law and order is important to me and I do not think felons should be voting while they are in prison.’

“They will look at her record as a DA [district attorney] in San Francisco and say, ‘Security in our communities is important and I don’t want someone who says that they are not going to be tough on hardened criminals’.”

But Trump campaign messaging undercut itself on this topic: it argued that in 2004, DA Harris chose not to seek the death penalty against a gang member who killed a San Francisco police officer, but it also stated she fought to keep inmates locked up in prison so they could be used for cheap labour, “championed” a law to put the parents of truant kids in jail and prosecuted a mentally ill woman who was shot by San Francisco police.

Another Trump campaign email alleged: “Harris has endorsed the far-left’s immigration policies that are tantamount to open borders. Harris supports sanctuary cities.”

The word “tantamount” is open to interpretation. The claim about sanctuary cities included a hyperlink to a New York Times article that was 12 years old.

Miss Lindsey 'i love being Trumps cumslut' Graham, a Republican senator for South Carolina and Trump ally, took a more measured approach, acknowledging the threat and summing up why Harris will motivate voters on both sides of the partisan divide. “Senator @KamalaHarris will be a formidable opponent,” he tweeted. “She is smart, aggressive, and has fully bought in to the Democratic Party’s very liberal agenda.”

***************

‘Don’t talk about racism, racist’: Trump scorched after claiming Biden-Harris campaign has a ‘racism problem’

By Bob Brigham
on August 12, 2020
Raw Story

President Donald Trump continued to lash out at Kamala Harris after the California Democrat was chosen to join the 2020 Democratic Party ticket as presumptive nominee Joe Biden’s running mate.

At a news conference following the selection, Trump complained about Harris being “nasty.”

After 10 p.m. on Monday, Trump tweeted out an attack ad claiming “Joe Biden has a racism problem.”

Here’s some of what people were saying about Trump’s line of attack:

    Let’s be real: Trump attacking Biden as racist after Biden nominates the first woman of color for vice president in American history is beyond idiotic. (Not to mention Trump’s “white power” tweet, his boost for “very fine” torch carrying neo-Nazis etc etc etc)

    — Mark Follman (@markfollman) August 12, 2020

    You…the white supremacist Racist-in-Chief…calling the guy who just put a black woman on the ticket a ‘racist’. That’s rich… #Trump #Biden #KamalaHarris

    — Andy Ostroy (@AndyOstroy) August 12, 2020

    Sure, let's pull this thread, Donald.https://t.co/1yrx7SH5Luhttps://t.co/2jyCxx23KOhttps://t.co/JJTC3kTbwv

    — Jedi, Interrupted 🏳️‍🌈 (@JediCounselor) August 12, 2020

    You refused to rent to black tenants.

    You called for the Exonerated 5 to be killed.

    You called Nazi’s “very fine people.”

    You questioned the birth certificate of the first Black President.

    You tried to ban Muslims from the United States.

    Don’t talk about racism, racist.

    — Biden | Harris War Room (Text READY to 30330) (@BidenWarRoom) August 12, 2020

    You’re calling the guy running with a African American woman… a racist?
    You’re a racist.
    And your an idiot.
    Believe me.

    — Jo (@JoJoFromJerz) August 12, 2020

    TRUMP'S HYPOCRISY

    Trump has engaged in racist behavior all through his adult life. There are multiple examples of this. He has actively courted the support of white supremacists during his presidency & has supported their agenda. He is in no position to be calling anyone racist!

    — MURRAY 🗽 (@murray_nyc) August 12, 2020

    "SURE, BIDEN SERVED AS VP TO THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT IN AMERICAN HISTORY (WHO I TRIED TO STOP WITH BIRTHERISM) & SURE, BIDEN CHOSE A BLACK WOMAN (WHO I JUST CALLED VERY NASTY) TO BE HIS VP & SURE I RETWEETED 'WHITE POWER!' & SURE I HATE NBA PLAYERS, BUT… WHAT WAS I SAYING?"

    — Liddle’ Savage (@littledeekay) August 12, 2020

    Donald Trump wouldn’t know the problems that face the black community if they bit him in the ass. There is systematic injustice against the black community in the education, judicial and economic systems. I’d take a knee with my fellow Americans any day. Trump wouldn’t!

    — ♻️🇺🇸 Christopher Zullo (@ChrisJZullo) August 12, 2020

    I'm gonna thoroughly enjoy seeing @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris destroy you and your tiny ego in November. pic.twitter.com/ahlJdq0KA3

    — Chris D. Jackson (@ChrisDJackson) August 12, 2020

****************

George Conway drops reminder: Donald and Ivanka Trump donated thousands to Kamala Harris

on August 12, 2020
Raw Story
By Matthew Chapman

President Donald Trump spent several minutes at Tuesday’s White House briefing attacking Joe Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), claiming that she was dishonest, would raise taxes, and was “disrespectful” to Brett Kavanaugh.

But as conservative attorney and Lincoln Project co-founder George Conway was quick to point out, Trump didn’t always feel this way. In fact, he and his daughter Ivanka gave thousands of dollars to her in her campaigns for Attorney General of California.

    “In 2011 and again in 2013, Trump donated a total of $6,000 to Harris’ campaign for California attorney general. His daughter, Ivanka, also gave Harris $2,000 in 2014.”https://t.co/doMWUKxRxa

    — George Conway (@gtconway3d) August 11, 2020

As the information about the Trump family’s former donations made the rounds, New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait weighed in with a humorous observation:

    “Harris accepted donations from money-laundering swindler with history of racial discrimination”— next Trump attack https://t.co/r8ZTIk9Lh9

    — Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) August 11, 2020

************

‘That’s crap’: Amy Klobuchar rips Trump on Fox News for calling Kamala Harris ‘nasty’

on August 12, 2020
Raw Story
By Bob Brigham

Shortly after Joe Biden choice Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate, Donald Trump was asked about the selection at a presidential news briefing.

Trump complained that Harris was “extraordinarily nasty” to Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) blasted Trump for his language during an appearance on Fox News.

“For the president to go before the country, like he just did and not just say, ‘I congratulate her, we welcome her to the race’ — that’s what leaders do,” Klobuchar said.

“Instead, what did he do? He called her angry, he called her nasty, he went back to those same criticisms, those words we’ve heard him use against women throughout this presidency,” she explained.

“And I just think that’s crap,” she declared. “I think that’s not a nice way to treat someone when they enter the race.”

    Amy*

    — Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) August 11, 2020

    Trump: She was extraordinarily nasty to Kavanaugh pic.twitter.com/E0QpJWijtL

    — Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) August 11, 2020

**************

Trump can’t attack Kamala Harris without contradicting his own message: Bakari Sellers

on August 12, 2020
Raw Story
By Matthew Chapman

On Tuesday’s edition of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” former South Carolina lawmaker Bakari Sellers broke down why Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) poses such a challenge for President Donald Trump.

“What we’re seeing with the two parties is the narrow focus is going to be on the fact that Donald Trump and the Trump campaign have no way, and they do not know how to deal, with Kamala Harris,” said Sellers. “It very difficult to say ‘Kamala is a cop’ and be a ‘law and order president.’ Those two things simply do not mesh. Not only ahistorical and inaccurate, but the messages, they collide.”

“But second, it shows that the Republican Party and Democratic Party are going in two vastly different directions,” continued Sellers. “The country is becoming more diverse, the country is becoming more brown. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represent the demographics of what the country will be, and Donald Trump and Steven Miller and Mike Pence represent a day that’s passed. So what I would say tonight is while Donald Trump and Mike Pence want to cheer on the Confederacy, we’re trying to re-imagine what this country will look like. It goes back to a time where Americans can feel good about being first and about thinking about what our country can be: full of hope and faith.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIm51rzCAWk&feature=emb_title

*************

Trump team worries Kamala Harris will ‘chew’ up Pence and ‘spit him out’ in VP debate: Nicolle Wallace

on August 12, 2020
Raw Story
By Bob Brigham

MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace called into her network while driving with her son and dog during vacation to add her latest reporting on Joe Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris to be his running mate.

“The other piece of reporting I’ve picked up in the past week was from the Trump team, that from their viewpoint, because Donald Trump has no capacity to understand that this is the selection of a person to run the government with the president, he only saw this in terms of casting for the night of primetime coverage that is the vice presidential debate, and this was the pick that scared them the most,” Wallace told MSNBC’s Brian Williams.

“They thought she would more than go toe-to-toe with [Mike] Pence, they thought she could chew him up and spit him out and pointed to her cross-examination of one Bill Barr,” she explained.
Defend democracy. Click to invest in courageous progressive journalism today.

“I don’t know that there’s a better debater or questioner on the political field right now,” Wallace said. Her skill-set is unmatched in terms much being able to articulate an argument, to patiently wait to make her point and look at the argument that the democratic ticket has to make.”

**************

Columnist throws Mike Pence’s own words back in his face to show how he ‘sold his soul’ to Trump

on August 12, 2020
Raw Story
By Sky Palma

In an op-ed published at AZ Central this Tuesday, EJ Montini writes that Vice President Mike Pence’s current role as one of President Trump most devoted enablers and supporters is a far cry from his previous days as a radio host who praised the virtues of religious faith and moral character. Now, he’s “sold his soul to a serial adulterer who has gleefully violated just about all of the other commandments as well.”

Pence is traveling to Arizona this Tuesday to drum up the Mormon vote for Trump — an attempt to convince a religious demographic of Trump’s “moral leadership” in spite of his infamous history of immorality, Montini writes.

“A man caught up in a fraudulent schemes like his “university,” which have harmed thousands and cost millions to settle lawsuits.A man accused of sexual harassment or assault by more than a dozen women,” writes Montini, speaking of Trump. “A man who cheated on his first wife with his second, and who, according to The Wall Street Journal, cheated on his third with a porn star only a few months after his youngest son was born.”

Montini noted that Pence had previously described the presidency as “the repository of all of our highest hopes and ideals and values.” While railing against Bill Clinton’s affair, Pence also said “that the seventh commandment contained in the Ten Commandments is still a big deal.”

“I maintain that other than promises that we make of fidelity in our faith, the promises that we make to our spouses and to our children, the promises that we make in churches and in synagogues and marriage ceremonies around this, it’s the most important promise you’ll ever make. And holding people accountable to those promises and holding people accountable to respecting the promises that other people make, I, to me, what could possibly be a bigger deal than that in this country?” Pence added.

Montini concluded that Pence now sees keeping his job as a bigger deal than maintaining fidelity and respecting promises.

 3 
 on: Today at 03:33 AM 
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Thailand protesters 'cross the Rubicon' and risk all to criticise the monarchy

Anger has been building since 2014 coup in which prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power, with students now holding rallies almost daily

Rebecca Ratcliffe, South-east Asia correspondent
Guardian
Wed 12 Aug 2020 04.46 BST

Thai protesters have broken a long-standing taboo, risking lengthy jail terms to criticise the king, after weeks of student-led pro-democracy rallies that have swept across the country.

Over recent weeks, high school and university students have targeted the government of prime minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, calling for its dissolution and for democratic reforms. Now, some protesters have begun openly criticising the country’s wealthy and powerful monarchy.

Such public comments are highly unusual, and have left the government in a bind. Allowing criticism to pass would undermine the status quo that keeps them in power, say analysts, while cracking down hard on the students could foment further protests and intensify scrutiny of the monarchy.

Thailand has some of the strictest lèse-majesté (wounded majesty) laws in the world, and anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent” can face up to 15 years on each charge.

Protests, which are organised by different groups, are broadly united around three demands: dissolve the government, end the intimidation of activists and rewrite the constitution, which was written under military rule and has cemented the army’s power.

On Monday night, at a rally attended by thousands, a protest group went further, issuing a 10-point list for reform of the monarchy. Criticism of the monarchy should be allowed, the king’s budget should be cut, and the monarchy should not interfere with politics, the Thammasat University Pro-Democracy Group said.

Calls for reform were also made at a smaller rally last week, where protesters dressed as Harry Potter and displayed an image of Lord Voldemort. Thai protesters have a long history of using cultural references to make at times coded political statements.

The king, who spends most of his time living in Germany, succeeded his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in 2016 and has since strengthened his authority.

Prayuth – who first came to power in the 2014 coup, and became prime minister last year following a disputed election – said he was uncomfortable with the comments made by protesters. He has previously stated the king had requested no prosecutions under the lèse-majesté law. Two speakers have been charged with sedition and violating an emergency decree by attending a public gathering.

Matthew Wheeler, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, said the protest movement had now “crossed the Rubicon”.

The government is in a difficult position, he added, because any move to quash protests could lead to “a backlash that intensifies debate about the role of the monarchy and erodes the legitimacy of the government”.

There was also a risk of vigilantism and violence against activists, added Wheeler.

The recent wave of pro-democracy protests are a resumption of rallies held earlier in the year, which were prompted by a court decision to ban Future Forward, an opposition party popular among young people.

The coronavirus outbreak halted the protests, but only temporarily. Since then, anger has grown, fanned by frustration at the country’s yawning inequality, the lack of support for vulnerable groups during lockdown and the perceived special treatment afforded to elites.

In June, discontent flared further when it was reported that pro-democracy activist Wanchalearm Satsaksi had been abducted in Cambodia. Rights groups say he is the ninth exiled activist to disappear in recent years. The government and military have denied involvement. At protests, students have carried posters with Wanchalearm’s image.

“I think we are frustrated with all the cumulative problems since the coup – mismanagement, misusing the law and social injustice issues,” said Jutatip Sirikhan, president of the Student Union of Thailand, who is calling for democracy. “We have seen all of these problems for a long time and we don’t see our future in this country any more.”

The economy was already stagnating even before the pandemic. Now it is expected to contract of 8.1% this year, according to the Bank of Thailand. “We are going nowhere and that’s why these young men and women are going out there – because they have a direct stake in the future,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, an associate professor at Chulalongkorn University.

Prayuth has said he would listen to the concerns in relation to the constitution. Yet, legal action and intimidation of pro-democracy protesters “is getting more and more aggressive”, said Sunai Phasuk, senior researcher on Thailand in Human Rights Watch’s Asia division. Students say they have been harassed by the authorities with some reporting that they have been held for hours, and pressured into no longer taking part in protests, according to HRW.

Thailand’s army chief, General Apirat Kongsompong, last week described the protesters as nation-haters.

On Sunday, students plan to hold another protest in Bangkok, which they believe will be the biggest yet. Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, secretary general of the Free People Movement, which has organised rallies, said he already faces multiple charges, including for violating the emergency decree by taking part in a public gathering.

He will continue fighting for democracy, he added: “There is a simple feeling among the young generation that we can’t stand the government, or the broken political and economic structure. That’s why we come out.”

 4 
 on: Today at 03:31 AM 
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Social media users inspire outrage against Egypt's alleged sexual abusers

Survivors who say alleged assailants go unpunished have begun publicly shaming them online

Ruth Michaelson
Guardian
Wed 12 Aug 2020 05.00 BST

Egypt is witnessing a wave of online outrage targeting rape culture and sexual assault, as survivors use social media to shame alleged abusers and demand change.

A growing number of social media accounts gather survivors’ testimony and attempt to shame alleged attackers, angry at elite perpetrators they say routinely go unpunished.

“Right now the only way to fight this issue is online and through these social media pages,” said Ahmed, a Canada-based administrator of the Instagram account “harassers of Cairo”. The Guardian is choosing not to give his full name. “There’s corruption; if your father is wealthy and powerful you get away with things very easily. Online is the only way right now.”

Campaigners and feminist activists say Egyptian law provides limited recourse on matters of sexual assault and harassment, and that survivors face an uphill struggle to report such experiences, as well as social consequences.

Despite recent changes including a draft law to anonymise survivor testimony in court and new methods to submit testimony electronically to Egypt’s public prosecution office, observers say there is still far to go before survivors feel comfortable reporting their experiences to police, or routinely see alleged accusers brought to justice.

More than 99.3% of Egyptian women and girls surveyed in 2013 reported experiencing some form of harassment.

Even as the Egyptian authorities shifted their stance on reporting sexual assault, eight female TikTok influencers were arrested between April and July charged with “immorality”, “debauchery” and “violating Egyptian family values”. Two, along with their three assistants, received two-year prison sentences and a £14,360 fine for human trafficking charges.

One influencer was arrested along with her alleged attackers, and accused of “promoting debauchery” after stating on TikTok that they sexually assaulted her.

She was charged with “immorality, debauchery and violating Egyptian family values”, like the other influencers. The prosecutor mandated her to spend a period of pre-trial detention in a social rehabilitation centre for abused women, where she is prevented from leaving the premises.

Her attackers were referred to a criminal trial, charged with a variety of offences including kidnapping with fraud and coercion, kidnapping and rape and others including assault by force, violation of personal privacy through publishing online content. One of the men has admitted rape, according to police investigators.

“It’s clear the state and society are saying that there are some ‘good women’ worth protecting, from a patriarchal perspective, and there are ‘bad women’ like these women on TikTok,” said Mozn Hassan, the founder of the Cairo-based organisation Nazra for Feminist Studies. She pointed to examples of the authorities arresting feminist activists and targeting NGOs such as Nazra, which includes a travel ban for Hassan herself.

Meanwhile the social media activism has provoked rare results, even from conservative institutions. “I thought I’d done everything possible quietly and privately, respectfully and patiently – all of that didn’t work. Going public was my only other option,” said Sally Zakhari, who used social media to share her account of sexual abuse perpetrated by Reweiss Aziz Khalil, a Coptic priest from a diocese in Egypt’s south now based in the US. She said the abuse took place when she was about 12 years old.

Zakhari waited six months after an internal report on Khalil’s conduct was delivered to the Coptic pope, Tawadros II. Hearing no further action against Khalil was likely, she shared her story online.

The resulting outcry led the Coptic church to defrock Khalil via a papal decree in July, after he was defrocked in 2014 but continued to practice. Tawadross II cited Khalil’s “repeated infringements that are unacceptable to the priesthood”. A clerical council headed by the influential bishop of Minya in Egypt’s south reiterated that Khalil was suspended from his position and should return to Egypt for further investigations. Zakhari said the church’s response was insufficient and more survivors would come forward.

The Guardian has repeatedly tried to contact the Coptic church for comment.

A groundswell of online anger also led to the arrest of an accused rapist, Ahmed Bassam Zaki, last month. Testimonies gathered by an Instagram account called “assaultpolice” accused Zaki, a 22-year-old from an elite family, of raping and harassing more than 100 women, including girls as young as 14.

Zaki was charged with the attempted rape of three women, including one under the age of 18, indecent assault, sexual harassment and using social media to harass women. Prosecutors said that during the investigation he confessed to some of the charges against him, including blackmail and intimidation, but he has denied the more serious charges of sexual harassment and rape.

“Assaultpolice” continued to gather testimony, focusing on six wealthy men accused of gang-raping underage women in a central Cairo hotel. In early August, Egypt’s public prosecutor opened an investigation into allegations the men drugged and raped an 18-year-old woman in 2014, after she provided testimony via the governmental organisation the National Council for Women. The council said it demanded the investigation due to allegations that surfaced online.

But administrators of the Instagram account said they were forced to close it due to threats. This led others, including Ahmed, to start at least four other accounts to continue the campaign.

Ahmed said he was running one of his Instagram accounts with two male friends, after the group grew concerned that few men were assisting Egyptian women speaking up about harassment. “I don’t think there’s a lot of guys helping with this issue so we started a page for that,” he said.

Hassan said the social media pages were using the internet in lieu of civil society, long targeted by the Egyptian state. “Egypt doesn’t have a public sphere, it’s really closed,” she said. “You don’t have NGOs, you don’t have places to hang out, you don’t have politics to reach people and engage them, so social media became the alternative public sphere.”

 5 
 on: Today at 03:29 AM 
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Belarus protesters and police clash for third night as EU threatens sanctions

Security forces target media and beat demonstrators amid anger at vote-rigging and apparent forced exile of opposition candidate

Martin Farrer and agencies
Guardian
Wed 12 Aug 2020 03.33 BST

Protesters have clashed with riot police for the third night running in cities across Belarus as the European Union threatened to reimpose sanctions over suspected vote-rigging and a violent crackdown on demonstrators.

After Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the main challenger to the long-time president said she had fled the country, security forces fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse thousands of protesters in the capital, Minsk.

The heavy police presence failed to deter the protesters, who have taken to the streets accusing Alexander Lukashenko of fixing the outcome of Sunday’s election.

Witnesses reported seeing security forces detaining dozens of people and beating protesters in the street.

In footage shared on social media, security forces were seen apparently smashing car windows and dragging people out of vehicles to attack them.

Agence France-Presse reporters saw riot police target press photographers, pulling out memory cards from their cameras and breaking lenses. A photographer for Associated Press corroborated the claims.

Car horns blared in solidarity with the opposition, and people marched, clapped and shouted “go away”. Protesters said Tikhanovskaya’s departure would not stop their movement. “Our goal is to overthrow the Lukashenko regime,” Yakov, a 51-year-old engineer, told AFP in Minsk.

In Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko will do anything to cling on to power..Katsiaryna Shmatsina..Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/10/belarus-alexander-lukashenko-presidential-elections

Tikhanovskaya, the wife of a jailed blogger who won mass support in her bid against Lukashenko, appeared in a video on Tuesday morning to say she had left the country for neighbouring Lithuania for the sake her children’s safety.

“You know, I thought that this whole campaign had really toughened me up and given me so much strength that I could handle anything,” she said in an emotional video. “But, probably, I’m still the weak woman I was in the first place. I have made a very difficult decision for myself,” she said, adding that the political unrest was not worth anyone losing their life for.

“Children are the main thing in life,” said Tikhanouskaya, who only ran for office because her husband, Syarhei, was imprisoned for his anti-government activism.

Profile: Who is Svetlana Tikhanovskaya?

Born in 1982 in Mikashevichy, Belarus, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya rose to prominence as an opposition leader to Alexander Lukashenko, after her husband Siarhei Tsikhanouski, a popular YouTuber, was arrested while preparing to stand for election.

After she announced her intention to run in his place, Belarusian authorities thought they could safely leave Tikhanovskaya on the 2020 election ballot to provide a window dressing of democratic competition. Instead, Tikhanovskaya emerged as a formidable opponent, describing herself not as a leader, but a symbol, and promising swift new elections if she attained power.

One of the “Chernobyl children” hosted in Ireland to help them recuperate from the effects of the nuclear accident in neighbouring Ukraine, as an opposition figure she drew crowds of thousands even in small cities, where people sang along to Changes, the 1987 song by the Soviet rock band Kino that became the soundtrack of a previous generation of people demanding a new kind of politics.

Tikhanovskaya had sent her children out of Belarus during the campaign after she said she had received threats, and then in a video published days after she rejected the official result of the disputed election, a visibly distressed Tikhanovskaya indicated she had faced an ultimatum involving her family. She was forced to flee to neighbouring Lithuania. “God forbid you face the kind of choice that I faced,” she said. “Children are the most important thing in our lives.”

Belarusian state media released a second video in which Tikhanovskaya urged supporters not to protest. Her allies said it was recorded under duress.

Linas Linkevicius, foreign minister of Lithuania, said she was now safe in his country.

The EU condemned the outcome of Sunday’s election, which was officially declared a landslide for Lukashenko with 80% of the vote. Tikhanovskaya, 37, came second with 10% despite having staged huge campaign rallies that observers said represented the biggest show of defiance ever seen during Lukashneko’s 26-year rule.

Brussels said the election had been “neither free nor fair” and warned it could punish those responsible for “violence, unjustified arrests, and falsification of election results”.

It also accused Lukashenko’s government of “disproportionate and unacceptable violence” towards protesters and said it was reviewing its relations with Minsk.

The Belarus government said on Tuesday that more than 2,000 people were detained across the country for taking part in unsanctioned protests on Monday night and into the early hours of Tuesday. It added that 21 police officers were injured in clashes with protesters, and five of them were hospitalised.

The previous day, the government reported more than 3,000 detentions and said 89 people were injured, including 39 law enforcement officers.

The first fatality was confirmed on Monday when police said a man died after an explosive device went off in his hand. On Tuesday, people laying flowers and white ribbon at the spot in Minsk where he died were allegedly targeted by riot police.

“You can shut Tikhanovskaya up, but you won’t be able to intimidate and shut an entire nation up. We continue peaceful protests and don’t recognise Lukashenko as president,” said 24-year-old protester Denis Kruglyakov.

Human rights group Viasna also reported mass detentions in the cities of Grodno, Brest and Vitebsk.

The internet remained blocked for the third successive day in what appeared to be an attempt by the authorities to make it harder for protesters to coordinate their efforts and for people to find out what happened to their missing relatives. “We are still waiting for any sign or information,” said Lena Radomanova, who has been searching for a friend who has disappeared.

The White House said it was “deeply concerned” by the violence. Poland offered to act as a mediator between Lukashenko and the opposition and called for an emergency EU summit.

Lukashenko has vowed not to allow Belarus to be “torn apart” and dismissed the protesters as pawns of foreign powers.

The Belarusian foreign ministry on Tuesday said it had “irrefutable” evidence of “interference from abroad.”

 6 
 on: Today at 03:24 AM 
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Global report: New Zealand begins mass testing as Australia records deadliest day

New Zealand to conduct ‘tens of thousands’ of tests; 21 deaths recorded in Australian state of Victoria; US health secretary sceptical of Russia vaccine
   
Helen Sullivan and Helen Davidson
Guardian
Wed 12 Aug 2020 05.09 BST

Australia suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic so far, with 21 deaths in the state of Victoria, as authorities in New Zealand’s largest city prepared to conduct “tens of thousands” of tests to determine the source of the first locally transmitted cases in over 100 days.

On Wednesday, Victorian authorities said the deaths were all among people over 70, with 16 linked to outbreaks in aged care facilities.

Australia’s rate of death in residential aged care is the second highest in the world, behind only Canada, said Professor Joseph Ibrahim, the head of health law and ageing research unit at Monash University at an inquiry into the aged care sector.

Residents in Victoria are under various levels of lockdown as it struggles to contain an outbreak that has for weeks seen hundreds of new cases confirmed every day. In central Melbourne, people who are not essential workers may leave their houses only to grocery shop (one person per household per day) or exercise for an hour. There is a curfew in place from 8pm to 5am.

Victoria recorded 410 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, in keeping with a downward trend from recent daily tallies in the 600s.

In neighbouring New Zealand – which had appeared to have eliminated local transmission after going more than 100 days without a new case outside hotel quarantine – four people from a household in Auckland, the country’s largest city, tested positive on Tuesday.

The source of the cases is unknown, which means health officials will rely on increased testing to trace their origin.

In response, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reintroduced level 3 restrictions in Auckland, meaning people are encouraged to work from home and bars and restaurants are closed except for takeaways. The rest of the country went into level 2 restrictions, under which people can go to work and school, but gatherings may not exceed 100 people.

Ardern said on Wednesday testing stations would be set up throughout the city. The country’s top health official, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said officials were preparing to test tens of thousands of people in the days ahead.

The prime minister also deferred the dissolution of parliament, which had been due on Wednesday ahead of September’s election. A decision would be made on Monday, she said. Newly appointed opposition leader Judith Collins called for the vote to be delayed until November.

United States health secretary of health Alex Azar marked the end of his multi-day visit to Taiwan with further criticism of China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and saying that if such a virus had emerged in the US, Taiwan “or another open society, it would have gone very differently”.

Azar also expressed scepticism of Russia’s claim that it had developed a coronavirus vaccine. On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia had become the first country to grant regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move Moscow likened to its success in the cold war-era space race. The vaccine, which has not yet completed its final trials, will be called Sputnik V.

“It’s important we provide safe, effective vaccines and that the data be transparent,” said Azar, adding that US vaccines would be well researched and ethically developed, with data reviewed by outside experts.

Late on Tuesday, the World Health Organization said it had not received enough information to evaluate the Russian vaccine.

Other key developments include:

    Lebanon on Tuesday announced a record daily number of cases, with more than 300 infections and seven deaths as the country grapples with the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion that rocked the capital and overwhelmed hospitals.

    Argentina’s death toll has topped 5,000, the government said on Tuesday, as cases skyrocketed in recent weeks, pushing the South American nation up in the global charts despite months of lockdown and a promising start.

    The United States has entered an agreement with drugmaker Moderna to acquire 100m doses of its potential Covid-19 vaccine for around $1.5bn, the company and White House said on Tuesday.

    The Netherlands plans to introduce mandatory home quarantine for people identified by local authorities as having been in close contact with somebody infected with coronavirus, and for travellers returning from high-risk countries.

 7 
 on: Today at 03:22 AM 
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Dwarf planet Ceres is an 'ocean world' with sea water beneath surface, mission finds

Ceres, believed to be a barren space rock, has an ‘extensive reservoir’ of brine beneath its surface, images show

Agence France-Presse
12 Aug 2020 20.35 BST

The dwarf planet Ceres – long believed to be a barren space rock – is an ocean world with reservoirs of sea water beneath its surface, the results of a major exploration mission showed on Monday.

Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, massive enough to be shaped by its gravity, enabling the Nasa Dawn spacecraft to capture high-resolution images of its surface.

Now a team of scientists from the United States and Europe have analysed images relayed from the orbiter, captured about 35km (22 miles) from the asteroid.

They focused on the 20-million-year-old Occator crater and determined that there is an “extensive reservoir” of brine beneath its surface.

Several studies published on Monday in the journals Nature Astronomy, Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications also shed further light on the dwarf planet, which was discovered by the Italian polymath Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801.

Using infrared imaging, one team discovered the presence of the compound hydrohalite – a material common in sea ice but which until now had never been observed beyond Earth.

Maria Cristina De Sanctis, from Rome’s Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica said hydrohalite was a clear sign Ceres used to have sea water.

“We can now say that Ceres is a sort of ocean world, as are some of Saturn’s and Jupiter’s moons,” she told AFP.

The team said the salt deposits looked like they had built up within the last 2 million years – the blink of an eye in space time.

This suggests that the brine may still be ascending from the planet’s interior, something De Sanctis said could have profound implications in future studies.

“The material found on Ceres is extremely important in terms of astrobiology,” she said.

“We know that these minerals are all essential for the emergence of life.”

Writing in an accompanying comment article, Julie Castillo-Rogez, from the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the discovery of hydrohalite was a “smoking gun” for ongoing water activity.

“That material is unstable on Ceres’ surface, and hence must have been emplaced very recently,” she said.

In a separate paper, US-based researchers analysed images of the Occator crater and found that its mounds and hills may have formed when water ejected by the impact of a meteor froze on the surface.

The authors said their findings showed that such water freezing processes “extend beyond Earth and Mars, and have been active on Ceres in the geologically recent past”.

 8 
 on: Today at 03:20 AM 
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Country diary: one feather does not describe a whole bird

Sandy, Bedfordshire: Quills that beat the air are battered beyond repair – the autumn moult is in full drop

Derek Niemann
Guardian
8/12/2020

August is the feather month, when the sky is brought down to earth. Birds have worn out the summer: quills that beat the air are battered beyond repair; frayed coats cannot cover the winter to come. And so the autumn moult is in full drop.

Crow-black and pigeon-grey, the cast-offs of flocking birds litter the farm tracks. The vanes of wings and tails lie flat to the ground. White down drifts, its curls kissed by surface winds, tipped and barrel-rolled into the hedge bottom, or else crushed under foot or tractor tread. Either way, they lose all shape and form.

This black and white world is sometimes leavened with perplexing colour. I learned early that one feather does not describe a whole bird, just as a single piece will not make a complete jigsaw.

While white “thumbmarks” on black shout great spotted woodpecker, the boldly marked green woodpecker leaves a subtle signature, the merest sliver of lime at the leading edge. The other day I chanced on a skylark-brown feather smaller than my pinkie, drizzled with cream. My trusty old guide to tracks and signs narrowed it down to grey partridge.

Beneath the dark shade of path-side trees, a pale blaze beckons. I pick it up – a broad, short feather from a big bird, still carrying the curvature from when it was moulded to a right shoulder or upper limb.

Its edges are badly abraded, as if they had been filed down. This feather bears barn-owl livery in whitish patches and warm chestnut, though the darker brown shade along the shaft rings less true. Nevertheless, I say owl, and the book says not quite. But its pages offer no alternative.

I send a photo to a bird-ringer friend, and she shares it with colleagues. Within the hour comes back an answer – red kite. My old guide is simply not trusty when it comes to a bird that was so rare at the time of its production that it was excluded.

Did the kite feel its feather fall? Did it sense the itch of a new quill pushing through?

A summer over, an autumn begun, and another feather to add to my collection.

 9 
 on: Today at 03:18 AM 
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A dog’s life: Scientists find new formula for canine age

8/12/2020
By Agence France-Presse

A well-known “rule of paw” holds that you can tell how old your pooch is in human terms by multiplying its age in years by seven.

But in fact, the real ratio changes over time, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) said Thursday, following a study of biological changes to dogs’ genomes over the course of their lives.

Dogs, humans and in fact all mammals experience the same developmental timeline: birth, infancy, youth, puberty and death.

Scientists have identified chemical marks on the DNA that correspond to these different stages, an area of study called epigenetics.

The field is well established for humans, and some commercial companies let you send in a DNA sample to determine your biological age by reading your “epigenetic clock.”

Molecules called methyl groups attach themselves to a particular region of the DNA, switching them to the “off” position and ushering in the next stage of life.

Trey Ideker of the University of San Diego, who was the senior author of the study published in Cell Systems, likened these patterns to wrinkles on the genome.

“I tend to think of it very much like when you look at someone’s face and guess their age based on their wrinkles, gray hair, and other features,” he said.

“These are just similar kinds of features on the molecular level.”

– More complex formula –

Ideker and colleagues studied the methylation patterns on 104 Labrador retrievers, who ranged in age from a few weeks old to 16 years. These were then compared to the methylation patterns in humans.

The scientists were able to devise a more complex formula that better matches the canine-human life stages — but you’ll need a scientific calculator to figure it out.

The formula is “human age = 16 * ln (dog age) + 31,” and you can also use Google to try it for yourself (remember it’s l for “log” and then n for “natural,” all lowercase).

So if your dog is two years old, type, without quote marks, “16* ln(2)+ 31” and hit enter to reveal “42.”

Based on this formula, an eight-week-old pup is approximately equal to a nine-month-old human baby — both being at the stage where they develop teeth.

Labradors’ average lifespan is 12 years, which also roughly corresponds to human life expectancy of 70 years.

“I like to take my dogs on runs, and so I’m a little bit more sympathetic to the 6-year-old now,” said Ideker, because his pet is the human equivalent of 60 under the new formula.

NIH scientist Elaine Ostrander, who co-authored the study, said the new formula had been developed with Labradors in mind, but further investigation could include long-lived breeds — which are generally smaller in size — and short-lived breeds, which are larger.

Such clocks will enhance our understanding of cross-species aging, and help veterinarians in their clinical practice, the team said.

© 2020 AFP

 10 
 on: Today at 03:15 AM 
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Birdwatch: white storks return to UK after 600-year absence

Scheme in West Sussex leads to first chicks of the species hatching in the wild since the 15th century

Stephen Moss
12 Aug 2020 21.30 BST
Guardian

The sound was both primeval yet utterly fresh and new: a time-travelling throwback to the middle ages; yet, at the same time, a portent of a brighter future for our rural landscape.

Like a rapid burst of machine-gun fire, the bill-clapping of a white stork is – in nature’s terms – simply a signal that the bird is displaying to its mate. But for me, it also has a deep cultural resonance: as if the stork is celebrating its belated return to the British scene, after a gap of more than 600 years.

First one, then two, then a dozen of these striking black-and-white birds rose into the warm morning air on their broad wings. But this wasn’t in France, Spain or Poland, where I have watched them in the past, but in West Sussex: at the Knepp Wildland Project.

Some were youngsters: the first white storks to hatch in the wild in Britain since the early 15th century. Their parents had been brought here as part of an ambitious reintroduction project: just one element of the innovative wilding scheme achieved by Knepp’s owners, Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree.

For me, above all, the storks’ presence signifies hope: that, after decades of marginalising wildlife in our farmed landscape, nature truly can be brought back, to delight us, and future generations.

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