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Democrat Harris rebukes Trump in historic campaign-trail debut with Biden

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: August 13, 2020)

US Senator Kamala Harris made her campaign-trail debut as Joe Biden’s Democratic running mate on Wednesday, delivering a strong rebuke of President Donald Trump’s leadership and highlighting the historic significance of her new role.

Harris said Biden, the former vice president under President Barack Obama, had recognized the critical moment being faced by the country by picking her to be the first Black woman and Asian American on a major-party US presidential ticket.

“Today, he takes his place in the ongoing story of America’s march toward equality and justice as the only person who served alongside the first Black president, and has chosen the first Black woman as his running mate,” said Harris, a US senator from California.

Nearly nine out of 10 Democrats approved of Harris as Biden’s pick, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.

Forced by the coronavirus pandemic to stage a more subdued launch than would be expected from a typical presidential campaign, the new running mates managed to display a personal connection that dates back to Harris’ friendship with Biden’s son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015.

Harris said she had long admired Biden’s commitment to his family and country, and she described him as ready to meet the challenges created by Trump’s failures in handling the pandemic and its economic consequences, as well as racial unrest.

“This is a moment of real consequence for America,” she said. “Everything we care about — our economy, our health, our kids, the kind of country we live in — it’s all on the line.”

“America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him, a president who is making every challenge we face even more difficult to solve,” Harris said.

The speech, delivered in a Delaware high school gymnasium near Biden’s home, featured no cheering crowds. The two candidates wore masks as they arrived and kept their social distance on a stage flanked by state flags.

The joint appearance came just days before Biden will formally accept the Democratic presidential nomination at next week’s party convention, which will take place largely as a virtual event due to COVID-19.

The Republican convention, where Trump is set to be nominated to seek a second four-year term, follows a week later and kicks off a 10-week sprint to Election Day on November 3.

In choosing Harris, Biden selected a former rival for the nomination whose most memorable campaign moment came during a televised debate when she criticized his past position on using busing to integrate schools and talked about its effect on her as a little girl.

Biden on Wednesday said her addition to the ticket sent a powerful message to girls across America.

“This morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up – especially little black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities – today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves in the first time in a new way. As the stuff of presidents, and vice presidents,” Biden said.

Harris is the daughter of immigrants, her mother from India and her father from Jamaica. 

Harris, 55, was announced as Biden’s choice on Tuesday after a selection process that drew extra scrutiny thanks to Biden’s age. The 77-year-old would be the oldest president ever if he wins, raising speculation that he would not seek re-election in 2024.

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Khalilzad testifies before House Committee, says pact with Pakistan possible

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2020)

Testifying before the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security about the Trump administration’s Afghanistan policy, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said Washington and its allies were looking at an agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan so that neither side’s territory would be used to attack the other. 

He also said the level of violence in Afghanistan was unacceptably high and that setbacks during talks are expected. 

“By any measure, current levels of violence are too high,” he told the hearing but said, “we know that reductions are possible.”

Talks between the Afghan negotiating team and the Taliban started in Doha on September 12 but few details have been given since the opening ceremony, except that both sides appear to be disagreeing on a number of basic issues. 

One of the key concerns among Afghans however is that women’s rights might not be preserved under a possible peace deal. 

Asked about this by the Democrats during the hearing, Khalilzad said: “I want to assure the Afghan women that we will be with them.”

He said: “While we have reasons to be hopeful, we are under no illusions about the challenges ahead. … We expect that there will be setbacks and obstacles.” 

He also said Washington and its allies were looking at an agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan so that neither side’s territory would be used to attack the other.

“We’re hoping that by the time that these other negotiations are over, we could also achieve success in that regard,” Khalilzad said.

Afghanistan has for years accused Pakistan of supporting Taliban militants but Pakistan denies doing so and in turn, accuses Afghanistan of supporting militants fighting Islamabad.

The US signed a pact with the Taliban in February, that was conditions-based, in order to bring the Afghan government and Taliban to the talks tables. 

One of the agreements on the part of the US was a gradual drawdown of troops, until a full troop withdrawal in April next year. 

Since the February agreement, US troop levels are down to 8,600 from 13,000 and are to be reduced further to about 4,500 by November. 

David Helvey, who is performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, told the subcommittee hearing the Pentagon was carrying out “prudent planning” to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by May 2021 if conditions were met.

He added that for now, Defense Secretary Mark Esper had not issued any orders to go below 4,000 troops.

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Afghanistan’s ‘cricket is proof that dreams come true’: ACB director

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2020)

The Director of Cricket at Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), Raees Ahmadzai said on Tuesday that with hard work and determination “dreams do come true” and that Afghanistan’s cricket is proof of this. 

Representing the ACB at a virtual meeting of the Asian Cricket Council, attended by both full-members and some associate members, Ahmadzai provided details on the country’s achievements and on its challenges. 

According to the ACB, Ahmadzai also discussed the enormous potential of talent in the country – especially with spin bowlers. 

He said: “Without doubt with hard work and determination, dreams do come true and Afghanistan Cricket is a living example of it. Afghan cricketers have been through various hurdles and struggles to enjoy its results today.”

The participants, which also included officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC), recognized Afghanistan Cricket Board’s efforts to promote the game in the war-torn country. 

The meeting came just a day after ACB’s acting CEO Nazeem Abdul Rahimzai met with the governor of Nangarhar Ziaulhaq Amarkheil to discuss progress around the construction of the new Behsud cricket grounds in Jalalabad. 

Construction started about six weeks ago and phase one, which involves the leveling of the ground, is expected to be completed in the next month. 

Rahimzai asked for the governor’s assistance on some issues relating to the project and “was fully assured of full support by the local government,” an ACB statement read. 

Amarkheil meanwhile said cricket in the province should be a priority and said the project would be completed on time. 

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Three suspects identified in public beating of two women in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2020)

The Ministry of Interior said it has identified three security officials involved in last week’s incident involving two young women who were beaten in public in Kabul. 

In a statement issued by the MoI, the ministry said: “After investigating the case, the Crime Investigation Directorate (CID) identified one member of the security forces who was the main culprit in the case and two police officers who were negligent and irresponsible by not stopping the incident.”

The MoI stated that the case is being investigated by the CID but has also been handed over to the Attorney General’s Office. 

The incident, which took place in Kabul city, was caught on video and went viral on social media – which sparked an outcry among rights activists and members of the public. 

The two women were publicly hit by one man, while two officials in uniform stood by and watched. 

A number of other people also stood around and watched the incident unfold.

This comes amid increasing concerns relating to the preservation and strengthening of women’s rights and overall human rights in Afghanistan as the Aghan negotiating team continues discussions with the Taliban in Doha. 

Human rights activists and global leaders have all called for the achievements of the past 19 years to be preserved if any peace deal is made between the warring sides. 

 

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