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Joe Biden launches presidential bid

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Former US Vice-President Joe Biden has declared a presidential bid, putting an end to months of speculation.

In a video announcement, Mr Biden warned that the “core values of the nation… our very democracy, everything that has made America America, is at stake”.

The 76-year-old enters a crowded race for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

He is up against 19 other hopefuls, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders.

In his announcement, Mr Biden recalled President Donald Trump’s much-criticised response to the deadly Charlottesville white nationalist riots of 2017, saying the US was in a “battle for the soul of this nation”.

“I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time,” he said. “But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

Mr Biden is the most experienced of the Democratic candidates. A six-term senator, he served as President Barack Obama’s deputy for two terms and ran twice unsuccessfully for president – in 1988 and 2008.

He was tipped to run again in 2016, but ruled himself out after the death of his 46-year-old son, Beau Biden, from a brain tumour.

Since his stint as vice-president, Mr Biden has enjoyed relative popularity among Democrats. On some issues, such as same-sex marriage, he was ahead of Mr Obama.

His popularity is reflected in opinion polls – he has consistently led every national poll of the Democratic primary tracked by the website RealClearPolitics.

The sheer weight of his experience sets him apart from many of the younger 2020 Democratic hopefuls, and widespread national popularity and name recognition make him an immediate front-runner.

Mr Biden is also betting on having the strongest appeal of the Democratic candidates across America’s Midwest, where many low-income voters have abandoned the party in recent years in favour of Mr Trump.

But the former vice-president also carries political baggage that the liberal wing of his party sees as problematic – including support for the Iraq war, opposition to efforts to improve racial integration, and controversy over his 1991 handling of sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

More recently, his campaign stumbled before it began, when he was forced to address claims he had inappropriately invaded the personal space of women. He apologised, saying: “The boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset,” he said. “I understand it and I’ll be much more mindful.”

There is also the question of Mr Biden’s age. On inauguration day he would be 78, making him the oldest sitting president in history, at a time when many Democratic voters are looking to a younger generation to galvanise the party.

Joe Biden enters the Democratic presidential contest as a front-runner, if not the front-runner.

He has near-universal name recognition, high approval ratings within the party and among political independents, a close connection to the halcyon days (at least, for Democrats) of the Obama presidency, and the potential to raise vast amounts of campaign money through traditional Democratic donor networks.

Of course, so did Hillary Clinton in 2015 – and we all know how that turned out.

Mrs Clinton’s key weakness in that presidential race was her long time in the public eye, leaving a long record for her opponents to pick apart, and binding her to a status quo establishment many Americans had come to distrust.

Mr Biden shares those challenges in spades, and he faces a much more diverse and talented primary field than Mrs Clinton did.

His position against school bussing to end segregation in the 1970s, his chairmanship of the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991, and his support for the 2003 Iraq War and stringent anti-crime and bankruptcy bills put him out of step with today’s Democratic Party.

Then there’s his advanced age, propensity for verbal stumbles, allegations of inappropriate physical contact and status as a two-time loser in past White House bids.

The former vice-president has a lot going for him. He also has a lot going against him. The durability of his campaign is one of the big questions hovering over the early days of the 2020 Democratic race. Those questions will soon be answered.

Mr Biden first ran for the presidency in the 1988 election, but he withdrew after admitting that he had plagiarised a speech by Neil Kinnock, the leader of the Labour Party in the UK at the time.

After that bid he spent time rising through the Senate ranks, eventually becoming chairman of the judiciary and foreign relations committees.

In 2008 he ran for president again, but failed to gain the political traction he needed and dropped out again. Instead, he joined the Obama ticket as candidate for vice-president.BBC

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Chris Cash: The UK Parliamentary Researcher Accused of Spying for Beijing Authorities

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In March of this year, a British parliamentary researcher was arrested on suspicion of being a Chinese spy. The researcher, Chris Cash, was revealed to be a 28-year-old history graduate with links to many Tory MPs. He had been seen associating with senior Tories such as security minister Tom Tugendhat and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns. Cash was believed to have been recruited as a sleeper agent while living and working in China and sent back to the UK to infiltrate political networks critical of the Beijing regime.

Cash was the leader of the China Research Group, a body advocating for a more hawkish British policy towards China. Co-founded by Tory ministers Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien in April 2020, the group focused on industrial, technological, and foreign policy issues. The group’s website claimed that it aimed to provide informed knowledge on China and promote debate and fresh thinking about how Britain should respond to the rise of China.

Chris Cash was arrested in Edinburgh and released on bail until early October, along with another suspect. It is unclear how much access Cash had to foreign affairs intelligence or what kind of influence he may have held in Westminster. While he held a parliamentary pass, he did not have security clearance.

China has denied all accusations of involvement in an espionage scheme involving Cash, calling them malicious slander.

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Pope Sends Prayers to Comfort Morocco Earthquake Victims as Death Toll Surpasses 2,000

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On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his prayers and support for the victims of the powerful earthquake that hit Morocco, resulting in the highest number of fatalities in over 60 years. During his Angelus message, he prayed for those injured and those who lost their lives, along with their families.

The Pope also expressed his gratitude towards the rescue workers who are working tirelessly to help the victims. He concluded by saying that they stand in solidarity with the people of Morocco during this difficult time.

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African Union’s Inclusion in G20: A Significant Acknowledgment of a Continent with 1 Billion Inhabitants

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The world’s most powerful economies, the G20, have welcomed the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, recognising Africa’s more than 50 countries as important players on the global stage. US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both expressed support for the AU’s permanent membership.

The AU has advocated for full membership for seven years and, until now, South Africa was the only African country in the G20. The AU represents a continent with a young population of 1.3 billion, which is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world’s population.

Africa’s 55 member states have long pushed for meaningful roles in global bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, and want reforms to the global financial system. The continent is increasingly attracting investment and political interest from global powers like China, Russia, Gulf nations, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. African leaders are challenging the framing of the continent as passive victim and want to be brokers instead.

They seek fairer treatment by financial institutions, delivery of rich countries’ long-promised $100 billion a year in climate financing for developing nations, and a global tax on fossil fuels. The AU’s full G20 membership will enable it to represent a continent that’s home to the world’s largest free trade area and abundant resources needed to combat climate change. The African continent has 60% of the world’s renewable energy assets and over 30% of the minerals key to renewable and low-carbon technologies.

African leaders want more industrial development closer to home to benefit their economies. Finding a common position among the AU’s member states, from economic powers to some of the world’s poorest nations, can be challenging, but Africa will need to speak with one voice to influence G20 decision-making. African leaders have shown their willingness to take collective action, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a high-profile G20 member, Africa’s demands will be harder to ignore.

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