Kamala Harris, who could be US President one day

News Network
August 14, 2020

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Kamala Harris’ first act as a political candidate was knocking out a former boxer: the progressive San Francisco district attorney who had been her boss.

Her freshman Senate term has been defined by committee performances so lacerating that Trump administration officials have complained of her lawyerly velocity. “I’m not able to be rushed this fast,” a flustered Jeff Sessions once said to her. “It makes me nervous.”

And in Harris’ most memorable turn as a presidential contender, speaking with practised precision to the man who Tuesday chose her as his running mate, she began with a less than charitable disclaimer — “I do not believe you are a racist” — before flattening him with the “but …”

“It was a debate,” she has said repeatedly since then, offering no apology for campaign combat.

That is San Francisco politics, friends say. That is Kamala Devi Harris.

In announcing Harris, 55, as his vice-presidential nominee, Joe Biden told supporters she was the person best equipped to “take this fight” to President Donald Trump, making space in a campaign premised on restoring American decency for a willing brawler who learned early in her career that fortune would not favor the meek among Black women in her lines of work.

“She had to be savvy to find a way,” said Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who has known Harris for more than two decades. “There was no path laid out for her. She had to find her way through the kind of set of obstacles that most people in the positions that she’s held have not had to ever deal with.”

It is this dexterity, people close to her say, that has most powered Harris’ rise — and can be most frustrating to those who wish her electoral fearlessness were accompanied by policy audacity to match.

Caustic when she needs to be but cautious on substantive issues more often than many liberals would like, Harris has spent her public life negotiating disparate orbits, fluent in both activist and establishment circles without ever feeling entirely anchored to either.

Despite her early departure from the race last year, allies have long retained an unshakable belief in her talents as a prospective future standard-bearer for the party.

“I’m crying,” said Amelia Ashley-Ward, a friend and the publisher of The Sun-Reporter, a publication aimed at the African American community in San Francisco. “When I first met Kamala Harris, I always felt that God had something a little extra for her.”

For Harris, the firstborn daughter of immigrant academics from India and Jamaica, political activism was a kind of birthright. Her maternal grandparents fought for Indian independence from British rule and educated rural women about contraception. Her parents protested for civil and voting rights as doctoral students at the University of California, Berkeley. As a toddler, she was pushed along with the crowds at protests and marches in her stroller, later recalling early memories of “a sea of legs moving about, of the energy and the shouts and the chants.” Her parents hosted civil rights leaders and started weekly study groups to discuss the books of Black authors and grassroots organizers, from the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa to the preaching of Malcolm X.

Her mother, Harris wrote in her 2019 memoir, “was born with a sense of justice imprinted on her soul.”

As her mother had no relatives in the country, the Black community in Oakland became her family, even after she had divorced from Harris’ father, a Jamaican who came to the United States to study economics. Harris and her younger sister sang in the children’s choir at a Black church and studied the arts at Rainbow Sign, a pioneering Black cultural centre. After school, they spent time at a child-care centre run by a neighbour in the basement of their apartment building, learning about Black leaders such as Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver and Sojourner Truth.

As a first-grader, Harris joined the second elementary school class in Berkeley to be desegregated by busing, making her an early test subject for a contentious liberal policy. It was a part of her history that exploded into controversy during a Democratic primary debate when she challenged Biden’s past stance on busing and his warm remembrances of working with segregationist senators.

Those early experiences had a formative impact on Harris’ professional path, pushing her away from the outsider politics of her childhood and into the Democratic establishment that she came to believe had greater power to effect change.

“The reason I made a very conscious decision to become a prosecutor is that I am the child of people who, like those today, were marching and shouting on the streets for justice,” she said in the recent interview. “When I made the decision to become a prosecutor, it was a very conscious decision. And the decision I made was, I’m going to try and go inside the system, where I don’t have to ask permission to change what needs to be changed.”

Initially, this was not glamorous work. In the 1990s, she joined prosecutors’ offices in Alameda County and, later, San Francisco, where she oversaw the career criminal unit. Her boss there was an old-guard liberal, Terence Hallinan, whose hold on the job grew precarious as Harris considered her own political future.

Urged to challenge Hallinan by peers who said the office was poorly managed, Harris found herself effectively running to his right, telling voters in their 2003 contest that there was nothing progressive about being “soft on crime.”

But Harris’ bid was trailed by insinuations that she was beholden to a much older ex-boyfriend, Willie Brown, who also happened to be the mayor of San Francisco (and a prominent endorser featured on her campaign literature).

To defuse such attacks, Harris resolved to strike back twice as hard, airing her rival’s own sensational baggage and at one point appearing to suggest that she would not hesitate to investigate him for public corruption after replacing him.

On the trail during the 2020 primary, Harris often recounted being asked to describe “what it’s like to be the first woman fill-in-the-blank,” explaining to chuckling crowds that she could not answer the question because she has never been anyone else. But she was sure, she added, that “a man could do the job just as well.” (If Biden wins in November, Harris will break another barrier, enshrining her husband, Doug Emhoff, as the country’s first “second gentleman.”)

In her presidential bid, Harris tried to bridge her personal biography with her professional history, with a logo that paid homage to Shirley Chisholm’s groundbreaking campaign as the first woman to seek the Democratic nomination for president and a slogan referring to her own time as a prosecutor: “Kamala Harris For The People.”

This merger did not go as smoothly as advisers had hoped. During her campaign — and more recently, as the death of George Floyd spawned global protests over racial injustice and policing — Harris worked to reconcile her activist childhood with her work in elected office, described by critics as too incremental on criminal justice. In interviews in recent months, Harris praised the Black Lives Matter movement for forcing a change in prosecutors’ offices.

“One of the differences between when I became a prosecutor and started and now, is the incredible leadership, and effective leadership, of Black Lives Matter,” she said in June. “That movement put the pressure and the advocacy and the activism from the outside to counteract the obstacles from the inside that were invested in status quo and not only reluctant to change but opposed to change.”

Harris has long leaned on a favorite saying: “No good public policy ends with an exclamation point.” If that makes her a question mark now on certain issues of the day, some Democrats reason, there are probably worse qualities in a running mate.

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Agencies
September 15,2020

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Washington, Sept 15: Facebook has been accused of ignoring fake accounts undermining political affairs around the world, according to a memo by a former employee of the social networking giant shared with BuzzFeed News.

In the 6,600-word memo, former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang wrote that she found evidence of coordinated campaigns to boost or hinder political candidates or outcomes in India and other countries like Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

"I've found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions," she wrote in the memo, as reported by BuzzFeed News on Monday.

"I have personally made decisions that affected national presidents without oversight, and taken action to enforce against so many prominent politicians globally that I've lost count," according to the memo that details her her experiences of working with the social networking giant over the past two-and-a-half years.

Zhang said in the memo that in countries like Azerbaijan and Honduras, heads of government and political parties made use of fake accounts or misrepresented themselves to sway public opinion.

Giving an example of how slow Facebook was in acting against global political manipulation, she said that it took Facebook's leaders nine months to act on a coordinated campaign "that used thousands of inauthentic assets to boost President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras on a massive scale to mislead the Honduran people."

Her LinkedIn profile said she "worked as the data scientist for the Facebook Site Integrity fake engagement team" and dealt with "bots influencing elections and the like".

"I know that I have blood on my hands by now," Zhang wrote.

However, giving a reference to her work related to India, the memo detailed that she worked to remove "a politically-sophisticated network of more than a thousand actors working to influence" the Delhi Assembly election that took place in February.

Facebook did not reveal the detection of such a a network or that it had taken it down, according to the report.

"We've built specialized teams, working with leading experts, to stop bad actors from abusing our systems, resulting in the removal of more than 100 networks for coordinated inauthentic behavior," Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois was quoted as saying in a statement.

"It's highly involved work that these teams do as their full-time remit. Working against coordinated inauthentic behaviour is our priority, but we're also addressing the problems of spam and fake engagement. We investigate each issue carefully, including those that Ms. Zhang raises, before we take action or go out and make claims publicly as a company."

These revelations come barely a month after a Wall Street Journal report on August 14 said that the top leadership at Facebook's India office refused to apply the company's own rules to politicians from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), despite clear violations of Facebook's policies against incitement to violence, hate speech, and misinformation.

Facebook India's public policy head Ankhi Das reportedly "told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from Mr. Modi's party would damage the company's business prospects in the country."

Following the report, the opposition Congress Party raised the issue of what it calls "unholy nexus" of the ruling BJP with Facebook and WhatsApp.

On August 18, the Congress Party wrote a letter to Facebook Inc expressing concern and asking them to acknowledge the issue and take corrective action. Congress had raised alarm over "interference in India's internal affairs by a foreign company".

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Agencies
September 21,2020

Moscow, Sept 21: The rush to find a vaccine for the deadly COVID-19 is still underway, and many have volunteered to participate in the clinical trials in the hope to find one. In Russia, for example, over 60,000 people have reportedly applied to volunteer for the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine trials in Moscow. Meanwhile, more than 700 people have been administered the vaccine.

Sputnik V, an adenovirus vector-based vaccine, was developed by the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, along with the Russian Direct Investment Fund and registered on August 11.

"Over 60,000 people have signed up as volunteers, several thousand people have passed the required medical tests to be registered as potential candidates for carrying out the tests," Mayor Sergei Sobyanin was quoted as saying in reports on Sunday.

According to Russian Tass news agency, more than 700 people have been injected with the coronavirus vaccine. "All of them are feeling good," Sobyanin said.

The vaccine was developed on a platform that had been used for a number of other vaccines.

On August 15, the Russian Health Ministry announced the launch of the vaccine production.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Dr Reddy's Laboratories Limited, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in India, have also agreed to cooperate on clinical trials and distribution of Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in India.

"On regulatory approval in India, RDIF shall supply to Dr Reddy's 100 million doses of the vaccine. The Sputnik V vaccine, which is based on well-studied human adenoviral vector platform with proven safety, is undergoing clinical trials for the coronavirus pandemic," said a statement from the fund.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund said that the deliveries could potentially begin in late 2020 subject to completion of successful trials and registration of the vaccine by regulatory authorities in India.

Earlier this month, a study published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet said a Russian COVID-19 vaccine has shown no serious side effects and elicited an immune response in early human trials.

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Agencies
September 26,2020

 

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Washington, Sept 27: The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 32.7 million, while the deaths have increased to more than 992,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Sunday morning, the total number of cases stood at 32,746,134 and the fatalities rose to 992,946, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 7,077,450 and 204,485, respectively, according to the CSSE.

ndia comes in the second place in terms of cases at 5,903,932, while the country's death toll soared to 93,379.

The other top 15 countries with the maximum amount of cases are Brazil (4,717,991), Russia (1,138,509), Colombia (806,038), Peru (794,584), Mexico (726,431), Spain (716,481), Argentina (702,484), South Africa (669,498), France (552,454), Chile (455,979), Iran (443,086), the UK (431,816), Bangladesh (357,873), Iraq (345,969) and Saudi Arabia (332,790), the CSSE figures showed.

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 141,406.

The countries with a death toll above 10,000 are Mexico (76,243), the UK (42,060), Italy (35,818), Peru (32,037), France (31,675), Spain (31,232), Iran (25,394), Colombia (25,296), Russia (20,140), South Africa (16,376), Argentina (15,543), Chile (12,591), Ecuador (11,236) and Indonesia (10,308).

donesia (10,218).

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