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Kamala Harris makes history, accepts Democratic VP nomination

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As Kamala Harris made history Wednesday night, she defined the role she hopes to play as Joe Biden’s running mate: the defender of the voiceless, the vilified and the forgotten Americans who have struggled under four years of President Donald Trump.
Introducing herself as the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants and someone who embodies the values of a new more inclusive America, Harris — who became the first Black and South Asian woman to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination — wove together her story. She talked of her upbringing, her decision to become a prosecutor, her career focus on righting injustices and how it informed her approach to the heaviness of this moment, as the nation tries to find its way out of the coronavirus pandemic and an economic collapse while at the same time dealing with the systematic racism that is so ingrained in American culture.
After a nod to the pioneering women who paved the way for her historic moment, Harris spoke poignantly of her own mother, who she said taught her and her sister Maya to “be conscious and compassionate about the struggles of all people” and to believe that “the fight for justice is a shared responsibility.” It was those values that led her to become a prosecutor who would try to reform the criminal justice system from within, and later a US senator.
During every step of her career, Harris said she has been guided by the words she spoke as a prosecutor “from the first time I stood in a courtroom: Kamala Harris, For the People.”
She noted her work on behalf of children and survivors of sexual assault, and recounted the predators she targeted both as a prosecutor and California’s attorney general, including transnational gangs and the nation’s largest banks in the wake of the 2008 recession.
Clearly aware that many Americans might be hearing her for the first time, Harris at first seemed intent on projecting a sunny demeanor as she talked about her love for her family and her background. But she found her footing, as always, when she turned to prosecuting the case against Trump, whose “failure of leadership,” she said, “has cost lives and livelihoods.”
Now, she said, the nation is engaged in a battle with the coronavirus pandemic, but she noted that the disease has not been an “equal opportunity offender.”

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DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS

Barack Obama: Trump has shown “no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself… No interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show.”

Hillary Clinton: “For four years, people have said to me, ‘I didn’t realize how dangerous he was.’ ‘I wish I could go back and do it over.’ Or worst, ‘I should have voted.’ Well, this can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election…”

Nancy Pelosi: “As Speaker, I’ve seen firsthand Donald Trump’s disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

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“Black, Latino and Indigenous people are suffering and dying disproportionately. This is not a coincidence,” Harris said. “It is the effect of structural racism; of inequities in education and technology, health care and housing, job security and transportation; the injustice in reproductive and maternal health care; in the excessive use of force by police and in our broader criminal justice system.”
“This virus has no eyes, and yet it knows exactly how we see each other — and how we treat each other,” she said.
Harris — who co-authored the Democratic legislation to address police brutality and excessive force with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker — also invoked the memory of George Floyd, a Black man was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for more than seven minutes this spring.
“There is no vaccine for racism,” she said. “We’ve got to do the work. For George Floyd; for Breonna Taylor; for the lives of too many others to name.”
“We’ve got to do the work to fulfill that promise of equal justice under law,” she continued. “Because, none of us are free, until all of us are free.”
Harris has long argued that Trump’s tactics have torn the nation apart as he has forced the separation of families at the border, vilified immigrants, excoriated his political opponents and urged government officials to “dominate” peaceful demonstrators in the streets after Floyd’s death.
During Trump’s presidency, she argued that many Americans feel adrift in the “constant chaos,” alone because of the President’s “callousness,” and afraid of his “incompetence.”
With those worries in mind, she made the case for electing Biden as a president, someone who she said “will bring all of us together — Black, White, Latino, Asian, Indigenous — to achieve the future we collectively want.”
The California senator argued that Trump turns “our tragedies into political weapons” while she and Biden share “a vision of our nation as a beloved community — where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love.”
During a night when Democrats honored the political activism of women, 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton offered words of encouragement to Harris, noting said that as someone who knows a “thing or two about slings and arrows,” she was sure “Kamala can handle them all.”
The women of the Harris family — Maya, Harris’ niece Meena, and her stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff — officially nominated her as the Democratic nominee for vice president of the United States.
Marking that milestone, Harris said she was thinking of her mother, who she said taught her that “service to others gives life purpose and meaning.”
“Oh, how I wish she were here tonight, but I know she’s looking down on me from above. I keep thinking about that 25-year-old Indian woman — all of five feet tall — who gave birth to me at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California,” Harris said.
“On that day, she probably could have never imagined that I would be standing before you now speaking these words: I accept your nomination for vice president of the United States of America.”

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Former Mali dictator Moussa Traore laid to rest

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Mali held a state funeral for ex-dictator Moussa Traore on Friday, attended by the head of the ruling military junta and other former leaders of the Sahel state.

Traore, who ruled Mali for 22 years before being deposed in a 1991 coup, died at age 83 in the capital Bamako on September 15.

The former autocrat was buried at a Bamako military camp on Friday, where a funeral band played at the arrival of his coffin, which was draped in the Malian flag.

Soldiers dressed in full regalia stood at attention, according to AFP journalists, while two planes performed a flypast overhead.

As a young lieutenant in 1968, Traore was the main instigator of a coup that overthrew Modibo Keita, the country’s first president after independence from France in 1960.

Traore became president the following year and ruled with an iron fist, before he himself was ousted in a military coup in 1991.

In recent years, the ex-dictator was increasingly seen as an elder statesman in the notoriously unstable country, with politicians soliciting his advice.

In attendance on Friday was the head of Mali’s ruling military junta Colonel Assimi Goita, part of a group of young officers who launched a coup ousting president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18.

Former President Amadou Toumani Toure — who deposed Traore in the 1991 coup — was also among the mourners, alongside other ex-leaders.

Russian diplomats attended the ceremony on Friday, according to AFP journalists, but no French or European Union diplomats were present.

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US to ban TikTok downloads, WeChat use from Sunday

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The United States on Friday ordered a ban on downloads of popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok and use of the messaging and payment platform WeChat, saying they threaten national security.

The move, to be implemented Sunday, comes amid rising US-China tensions and efforts by the Trump administration to engineering a sale of TikTok to American investors.

“The Chinese Communist Party has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the US,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

The initiative would ban WeChat, an app with massive use among Chinese speakers, and TikTok from the online marketplaces operated by Apple and Google.

But while WeChat will effectively be shut down from Sunday in the US, existing TikTok user will be able to continue using the app until November 12 — when it would also face a full ban on its US operations.

But the Commerce Department said if national security concerns over TikTok were resolved before then, the order may be lifted.

TikTok’s brand of brief, quirky videos made on users’ cellphones has become hugely popular, especially among young people.

The plan follows through on a threat by President Donald Trump, who has claimed Chinese tech operations may be used for spying, and it ramps up the pressure on TikTok parent ByteDance to conclude a deal to sell all or part of TikTok to allay US security concerns.

A deal which appeared to be taking shape would allow Silicon Valley giant Oracle to become the tech partner for TikTok, but some US lawmakers have objected to allowing ByteDance to keep a stake.

The ban on WeChat, owned by Chinese giant Tencent, has the potential for disrupting the widely used social media and financial application.

US officials said in a recent court filing they would not target those using WeChat for ordinary personal.

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Somali leader names new prime minister

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Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has named Mohamed Hussein Roble as prime minister.

The president said Mr Roble was selected on the basis of “his knowledge, experience and ability to move forward with state-building efforts and the development of national plans”.

If Mr. Roble wins the confidence of parliament, he will replace Hassan Ali Khaire, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote by parliament on 25 July.

President Farmajo, in a statement, urged the prime minister-designate to “immediately form a capable government that will lead the country to elections and makes significant efforts to consolidate security gains, rebuild the armed forces, develop infrastructure, expand basic services”.

Mr Roble is a relative newcomer to Somali’s politics.

His predecessor fell out with President Farmajo over differing views on the election due early next year. Mr Khaire had insisted that “elections should be held on time… to avoid a political, security and constitutional crisis”.

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