Former vice-president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, picked California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday.
Harris becomes the first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket and her selection acknowledges the vital role Black voters will play in the Democrats’ bid to defeat President Donald Trump, reports AP.
She will appear with Biden for the first time as his running mate at an event Wednesday near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
The 55-year-old first-term senator of South Asian descent, is one of the party’s most prominent figures. She quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.
In announcing the pick, Biden called Harris a “fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country's finest public servants.” She said Biden would “unify the American people" and “build an America that lives up to our ideals.”
Harris joins Biden at a moment of unprecedented national crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 160,000 people in the US, far more than the toll experienced in other countries. Business closures and disruptions resulting from the pandemic have caused severe economic problems. Unrest has emerged across the country as Americans protest racism and police brutality.
Trump’s uneven handling of the crises has given Biden an opening, and he enters the fall campaign in strong position against the president.
In adding Harris to the ticket, he can point to her relatively centrist record on issues such as health care and her background in law enforcement in the nation’s largest state.
The president told reporters Tuesday he was “a little surprised” that Biden picked Harris, pointing to their debate stage disputes during the primary. Trump, who had donated to her previous campaigns, argued she was “about the most liberal person in the US Senate.”
“I would have thought that Biden would have tried to stay away from that a little bit,” he said.
Harris’s record as California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco was heavily scrutinised during the Democratic primary and turned away some liberals and younger Black voters who saw her as out of step on issues of racism in the legal system and police brutality. She declared herself a “progressive prosecutor” who backs law enforcement reforms.
Biden, who spent eight years as President Barack Obama’s vice president, has spent months weighing who would fill that same role in his White House.
He pledged in March to select a woman as his vice president, easing frustration among Democrats that the presidential race would centre on two white men in their 70s.
The vice presidential pick carries increased significance this year.
If elected, Biden would be 78 when inaugurated in January, the oldest man to ever assume the presidency. He’s spoken of himself as a transitional figure and hasn’t fully committed to seeking a second term in 2024.
Harris, born in 1964 to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, spent much of her formative years in Berkeley, California. She has often spoken of the deep bond she shared with her mother, whom she has called her single biggest influence.
Harris won her first election in 2003 when she became San Francisco’s district attorney. In that post, she created a reentry programme for low-level drug offenders and cracked down on student truancy.
She was elected California’s attorney general in 2010, the first woman and Black person to hold the job, and focused on issues including the foreclosure crisis. She declined to defend the state’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage and was later overturned by the US Supreme Court.
After being elected to the Senate in 2016, she quickly gained attention for her assertive questioning of Trump administration officials during congressional hearings.
Harris launched her presidential campaign in early 2019 with the slogan “Kamala Harris For the People,” a reference to her courtroom work. She was one of the highest-profile contenders in a crowded Democratic primary and attracted 20,000 people to her first campaign rally in Oakland.
But the early promise of her campaign eventually faded. Her law enforcement background prompted skepticism from some progressives, and she struggled to land on a consistent message that resonated with voters. Facing fundraising problems, she abruptly withdrew from the race in December 2019, two months before the first votes of the primary were cast.
One standout moment of her presidential campaign came at the expense of Biden. During a debate, she said Biden made “very hurtful” comments about his past work with segregationist senators and slammed his opposition to busing as schools began to integrate in the 1970s.
“There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”
Shaken by the attack, Biden called her comments “a mischaracterisation of my position.”
The exchange resurfaced recently with a report that one of Biden’s closest friends and a co-chair of his vice presidential vetting committee, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, still harbors concerns about the debate and that Harris hadn’t expressed regret. The comments attributed to Dodd and first reported by Politico drew condemnation, especially from influential Democratic women who said Harris was being held to a standard that wouldn’t apply to a man running for president.
Biden and Harris have since returned to a warm relationship.
“Joe has empathy, he has a proven track record of leadership and more than ever before we need a president of the United States who understands who the people are, sees them where they are, and has a genuine desire to help and knows how to fight to get us where we need to be,” Harris said at an event for Biden earlier this summer.
Harris has taken a tougher stand on policing since Floyd’s killing. She co-sponsored legislation in June that would ban police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants, set a national use-of-force standard and create a national police misconduct registry, among other things. It would also reform the qualified immunity system that shields officers from liability.
“We made progress, but clearly we are not at the place yet as a country where we need to be and California is no exception,” she told The Associated Press recently. The national focus on racial injustice now, she said, shows “there’s no reason that we have to continue to wait.”
The United States' status as the hardest-hit country across the globe by COVID-19 touched a new milestone, with over 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases,
According to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the USA has so far confirmed 5,017,150 cases from the deadly virus and recorded 162,635 deaths.
The failure of the most powerful nation to contain the scourge has been met with astonishment and alarm in Europe, reports AP.
In the global context, a total of 19,696,961 million coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed with some 727,000 related deaths.
The US is followed by Brazil with more than three million confirmed infections and some 100,000 fatalities.
India has the world's third-highest confirmed caseload as the country confirmed over 2.15 million cases.
The Treasury Department of the United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, and 10 other top officials from Hong Kong and mainland China.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions were used to target those undermining Hong Kong's autonomy, reports BBC.
"The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong," he added.
The development came weeks after China imposed a controversial national security law on Hong Kong.
The effort drew much criticism across the globe and critics said the law threatened Hong Kong’s freedoms.
Among those sanctioned are Hong Kong's police commissioner and several political secretaries.
The US Treasury directly accused Ms Lam of "implementing Beijing's policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes."
"In 2019, Lam pushed for an update to Hong Kong's extradition arrangements to allow for extradition to the mainland, setting off a series of massive opposition demonstrations in Hong Kong," the US Treasury said in a statement.
TikTok has threatened legal action against the United States after Donald Trump ordered the firms to stop doing business with the Chinese app within 45 days.
The company said it was "shocked" by an executive order from the US President outlining the ban, reports BBC.
TikTok said it would "pursue all remedies available" to "ensure the rule of law is not discarded".
Trump issued a similar order against China's WeChat in a major escalation in Washington's stand-off with Beijing.
WeChat's owner, Tencent, said: "We are reviewing the executive order to get a full understanding."
The president has already threatened to ban TikTok in the US, citing national security concerns, and the company is now in talks to sell its American business to Microsoft. They have until 15 September to reach a deal - a deadline set by Trump.
The Trump administration claims that the Chinese government has access to user information gathered by TikTok, which the company has denied.
"We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request," TikTok said.
"We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American company."
Mr Trump said this week he would support the sale to Microsoft as long as the US government received a "substantial portion" of the sale price.
TikTok said the new executive order "risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law", adding it sets "a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets".
"We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly - if not by the administration, then by the US courts," it said.
President Donald Trump on Thursday issued an official order banning dealings with Chinese owners of TikTok and WeChat, although it remains unclear if he has the legal authority to actually ban the apps from the US.
The Trump administration has taken the steps against the threat from China while both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have also raised concerns about TikTok, including censorship, misinformation campaigns, the safety of user data and children’s privacy, reports AP.
But the administration has provided no specific evidence that TikTok has made US users’ data available to the Chinese government. Instead, officials point to the hypothetical threat that lies in the Chinese government’s ability to demand cooperation from Chinese companies.
Earlier this week, Trump threatened a deadline of Sept 15 to “close down” TikTok unless Microsoft or another company acquires it.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced an expansion of the US crackdown on Chinese technology to include barring Chinese apps from US app stores, citing alleged security threats and calling out TikTok and WeChat by name.
TikTok and Microsoft had no immediate replies to queries. Tencent declined to comment.
Leading mobile security experts say TikTok is no more intrusive in its harvesting of user data and monitoring of user activity than US apps owned by Facebook and Google.
The twin executive orders — one for each app — take effect in 45 days. They call on the Commerce Secretary to define the banned dealings by that time.
While the wording of the orders is vague, some experts said it appears intended to bar the popular apps from the Apple and Google app stores, which could effectively remove them from distribution in the US.
Trump’s orders cited legal authority from the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the National Emergencies Act.
“I am the first to yell from the rooftops when there is a glaring privacy issue somewhere. But we just have not found anything we could call a smoking gun in TikTok,” mobile security expert Will Strafach told AP last month after examining the app.
Strafach is CEO of Guardian, which provides a firewall for Apple devices.
The order doesn't seem to ban Americans from using TikTok, said Kirsten Martin, a professor of technology ethics at the University of Notre Dame. She added that such an order would be nearly impossible to enforce in the first place.
“If goal is to get teenagers to stop using TikTok, I’m not sure an executive order will stop them,” she said. “Every teenager knows how to use a VPN (a virtual private network). They will just pretend they are in Canada.”
TikTok is a video-sharing app that's widely popular among young people in the US and elsewhere. It is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, which operates a separate version for the Chinese market. TikTok insists it does not store US user information in China and would not share it with the Chinese government.
TikTok says it has 100 million US users and hundreds of millions globally. According to research firm App Annie, TikTok saw 50 million weekly active users in the US during the week of July 19, the latest available figure. That's up 75 percent from the first week of the year.
WeChat and its sister app Weixin in China are hugely popular messaging apps; many Chinese expatriates use WeChat to stay in touch with friends and family back home. WeChat also says it doesn’t share data with the Chinese government and never has, and does not store international user data in China. US user data is stored in Canada.
The order against Tencent could have ramifications for users beyond WeChat, which is crucial for personal communications and organisations that do business with China. Tencent also owns parts or all of major game companies like Epic Games, publisher of Fortnite, a major video game hit, and Riot Games, which is behind League of Legends.