The American public has had its say and for the first time in a generation denied a sitting president a second term.
President Donald Trump’s tenure lasted just four years, but in that time he dragged policy on an array of key issues in a dramatic new direction.
Joe Biden’s victory, confirmed by the Associated Press late morning on Nov. 7, presents an opportunity to reset the White House agenda and put it on a different course.
Three scholars discuss what a Biden presidency may have in store in three key areas: race, the Supreme Court and foreign policy.
Racism, policing and Black Lives Matter protests
Brian Purnell, Bowdoin College
The next four years under a Biden administration will likely see improvements in racial justice. But to many, it will be a low bar to clear: President Donald Trump downplayed racist violence, egged on right-wing extremists and described Black Lives Matter as a “symbol of hate” during his four-year tenure.
Still, Biden is in some ways an unlikely president to advance a progressive racial agenda. In the 1970s, he opposed busing plans and stymied school desegregation efforts in Delaware, his home state. And in the mid-1990s he championed a federal crime bill that made incarceration rates for Black people worse. He bungled the hearings that brought Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court by allowing Republican senators to dismiss Anita Hill’s damning testimony of Thomas’ sexual harassment and by failing to allow other Black women to testify.
But that was then.
During the 2020 campaign, President-elect Biden consistently spoke about problems stemming from systemic racism. Many voters will be hoping that his actions over the next four years must match his campaign words.
One area that the Biden administration will surely address is policing and racial justice. The Justice Department can bring accountability to police reform by returning to practices the Obama administration put in place to monitor and reform police departments, such as the use of consent degrees. More difficult reforms require redressing how mass incarceration caused widespread voter disenfranchisement in Black American and Latino communities.
“My administration will incentivize states to automatically restore voting rights for individuals convicted of felonies once they have served their sentences,” Biden told The Washington Post.
The killing of George Floyd earlier this year reinvigorated talk of addressing systemic racial discrimination through fundamental changes in how police departments hold officers accountable for misconduct and excessive force. It is unclear how far President-elect Biden will walk down this road. But evoking the words of the late civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis, he at least suggested at the Democratic National Convention that America was ready to do the hard work of “rooting out systemic racism.”
Biden can help address how Americans think about and deal with unexamined racial biases through reversing the previous administration’s executive order banning anti-racism training and workshops. In so doing, Biden can build on psychological research on bias to make American workplaces, schools and government agencies equitable, just places.
Making progress fighting systemic racism will be a slow, uphill battle. A more immediate benefit to communities of color could come through Biden’s COVID-19 pandemic response – the Trump administration’s failure to stanch the spread of the coronavirus has led to deaths and economic consequences that have disproportionately fallen on racial and ethnic minorities.
On matters of race relations in the U.S., most Americans would agree that the era of Trump saw the picture worsen. The good news for Biden as president is there is nowhere to go but up.
Morgan Marietta, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Despite the fact that American voters have given Democrats control of the presidency, the conservative Supreme Court will continue to rule on the nature and extent of constitutional rights.
These liberties are considered by the court to be “beyond the reach of majorities,” meaning they are intended to be immune from the changing beliefs of the electorate.
However, appointees of Democrats and Republicans tend to have very different views on which rights the Constitution protects and which are left to majority rule.
The dominant judicial philosophy of the conservative majority – originalism – sees rights as powerful but limited. The protection of rights recognized explicitly by the Constitution, such as the freedoms of religion, speech and press and the freedom to bear arms, will likely grow stronger over the next four years. But the protection of expansive rights that the court has found in the phrase “due process of law” in the 14th Amendment, including privacy or reproductive rights, may well contract.
The Biden administration will probably not agree with the court’s future rulings on voting rights, gay rights, religious rights or the rights of noncitizens. Ditto for any rulings on abortion, guns, the death penalty and immigration. But there is little President-elect Biden can do to control the independent judiciary.
Unhappy with what a strong conservative majority on the court may do – including possibly overturning the Affordable Care Act – many Democrats have advocated radical approaches to altering what the court looks like and how it operates, though Biden himself has not stated a clear position.
Suggested options include term limits, adding a retirement age, stripping the jurisdiction of the court for specific federal legislation, or increasing the size of the court. This strategy is known historically as court packing.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg opposed expanding the court, telling NPR in 2019 that “if anything would make the court look partisan, it would be … one side saying, ‘When we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’”
The Constitution does not establish the number of justices on the court, instead leaving that to Congress. The number has been set at nine since the 1800s, but Congress could pass a law expanding the number of justices to 11 or 13, creating two or four new seats.
However, this requires agreement by both houses of Congress.
The GOP seems likely to maintain a narrow control of the Senate. A 50/50 split is possible, but that won’t be clear until January when Georgia holds two runoff elections. Any of the proposed reforms of the court will be difficult, if not impossible, to pass under a divided Congress.
This leaves the Biden administration hoping for retirements that would gradually shift the ideological balance of the court.
One of the most likely may be Justice Clarence Thomas, who is 72 and the longest-serving member of the current court. Samuel Alito is 70 and Chief Justice John Roberts is 65. In other professions, that may sound like people soon to retire, but at the Supreme Court that is less likely. With the other three conservative justices in their 40s or 50s, the Biden administration may be fully at odds with the court for some time to come.
Neta Crawford, Boston University
President-elect Biden has signaled he will do three things to reset the U.S.‘s foreign policy.
First, Biden will change the tone of U.S. foreign relations. The Democratic Party platform called its section on military foreign policy “renewing American leadership” and emphasized diplomacy as a “tool of first resort.”
Biden seems to sincerely believe in diplomacy and is intent on repairing relations with U.S. allies that have been damaged over the last four years. Conversely, while Trump was, some say, too friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling him a “terrific person,” Biden will likely take a harder line with Russia, at least rhetorically.
This change in tone will also likely include rejoining some of the treaties and international agreements that the United States abandoned under the Trump administration. The most important of these include the Paris Climate Agreement, which the U.S. officially withdrew from on Nov. 4, and restoring funding to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
If the U.S. is to extend the New START nuclear weapons treaty, the arms control deal with Russia due to expire in February, the incoming Biden administration would likely have to work with the outgoing administration on an extension. Biden has also signaled a willingness to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal jettisoned by Trump, if and when the Iranians return to the limits on nuclear infrastructure imposed by the agreement.
Second, in contrast to the large increases in military spending under Trump, President-elect Biden may make modest cuts in the U.S. military budget. Although he has said that cuts are not “inevitable” under his presidency, Biden has hinted at a smaller military presence overseas and is likely to change some priorities at the Pentagon by, for instance, emphasizing high-tech weapons. If the Senate – which must ratify any treaties – flips to Democrats’ control, the Biden administration may take more ambitious steps in nuclear arms control by pursuing deeper cuts with Russia and ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Third, the Biden administration will likely continue some Bush, Obama and Trump foreign policy priorities. Specifically, while a Biden administration will seek to end the war in Afghanistan, the administration will keep a focus on defeating the Islamic State and al-Qaida. Biden has said that he would reduce the current 5,200 U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 1,500-2,000 troops operating in the region in a counterterrorism role. The Biden administration is likely to continue the massive nuclear weapons modernization and air and naval equipment modernization programs begun under the Obama administration and accelerated and expanded under Trump, if only because they are popular with members of Congress who see the jobs they provide in their states.
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And like the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations, the Biden administration will prioritize the economic and military threats it believes are posed by China. But, consistent with its emphasis on diplomacy, the Biden administration will likely also work more to constrain China through diplomatic engagement and by working with U.S. allies in the region.
Brian J Purnell, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History, Bowdoin College; Morgan Marietta, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Neta C. Crawford, Professor of Political Science and Department Chair, Boston University
With the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election currently in process, results from a sweeping multinational survey suggest that young Africans are acutely aware of and appreciate the influence the United States asserts on the continent, with 74% of the 4,200 (aged 18-24) polled from across 14 sub-Saharan African nations citing that the United States regularly impacts modern-day African affairs and 83% suggesting that influence is positive.
Six percent of young Africans polled across the entire Survey believe that U.S. President Donald Trump, in particular, is the single-most individual that has had the greatest impact on the continent over the past five years, and, should the U.S. President be elected to a second term of Office, 22% believe President Trump will wield the greatest influence moving forward, positioning Trump as the top influencer on the continent in future.
In contrast, Trump’s ‘superpower rival’, China’s President, Xi Jinping, was viewed as the top influencer over the past five years by only 2% of African youth polled, with a comparatively marginal 9% deeming the Chinese leader as having the most influence in the years to come.
However, America’s influence on the continent is not limited to the political theatre. Business tycoons Bill Gates (13%) and Mark Zuckerberg (10%) came second and third respectively, when asked who would have the greatest impact on the future of Africa’s youth over the next five years.
Moreover, while Donald Trump’s influence and impact on the African continent looms large, according to the African Youth Survey findings, he is not the only policy-making power-broker from Washington D.C. resonating today in Africa; former U.S. President Barack Obama was notably viewed as having been more influential by twice the amount (12%) of the current President.
These and other discoveries stem from the inaugural African Youth Survey (AYS), the most comprehensive research on Africa’s youth to date, commissioned by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation (IFF). The Survey, conducted by PSB Research (part of WPP Group), involved face-to-face interviews with young Africans held across the major urban centres of Congo Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe; a project meant to develop foundations for a better global understanding of a demographic that is all too often misunderstood.
With China having fast become a central player in Africa’s infrastructure development and urbanization push, with a large percentage of the continent’s infrastructure initiatives being undertaken by Chinese companies or supported by Chinese funding, only a slightly smaller percentile (79%) of African youth surveyed believe China heavily influences the continent’s affairs than compared to the United States (74%); the European Union (EU) was thought to hold great influence by seven in ten (70%) of those polled, with the United Kingdom comparatively viewed as influential by just over one-half (54%).
Africa, one of the final frontiers of the fourth industrial revolution and today one of the fastest urbanizing regions of the world, presents tremendous opportunities for international investment. However, the African Youth Survey’s sponsor, industrialist and philanthropist Ivor Ichikowitz, has voiced concern that a new ‘Scramble for Africa’ between ‘great powers’ such as the United States and China, could lead to the development of a modern form of ‘economic colonialism’, contending that Africa’s next generation can and should play a greater role in charting an equitable, mutually accountable and beneficial path forward.
“The United States is seeking greater relevancy within Africa, a huge market opportunity for America largely ignored for far too long, yet one which would clearly be well received by African youth, our study indicates,” Ichikowitz stated.
“Yes, Africa needs investment from the U.S. and from around the world. However, our next generation has realized that through innovative breakthroughs in digital technologies (many of which they themselves were responsible for), and prowess to create thriving agribusiness, renewable energy and manufacturing sectors, we have rapidly become too entrepreneurial, too important to ignore.
“The United States must recognize the ‘opportunity continent’ that Africa has swiftly become; one with a cross-continental spirit of entrepreneurship, 61% of our youth agreeing their country is building a climate for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive. Eight in ten (81%) believe that technology will change the fortunes of Africa and just under eight in ten (79%) further deem Wi-Fi connectivity today a human right. This is the world’s largest collective marketplace of the future shouting to the world that while they are autonomously highly-capable, they have established a start-up culture and are willing to shape new forms of partnerships. This information offers unique insight and direction on the role the United States can and should play in Africa.
Ichikowitz added: “It’s further important to recognize the deep influences American culture, American politics and indeed the actions of American policy-makers have woven upon our continent’s social fabric, our very value system. Decisions taken in Washington have a profound impact on Africa. Our diverse cultures dating back centuries have long frowned upon change from abroad and scrutinized the notion of individual success; yet today, our young people admire the US type celebrity-status success can bring, and are paying greater attention to not only the opportunities for achievement but more importantly, the systemic challenges that have hindered it.
“They continue to bear witness to downward pressures on African exchange rates and prolonged import dependency, with little protection to external shocks to the global supply chain, including commodity prices which often hit Africans first and hardest. Although born into independence, our continent’s colonial history has also not been forgotten by its young people – nearly seven in ten (66%) believe colonialism still affects their communities today and nearly one-quarter (24%) believe it defines African identity the most. They can easily translate the economic measures imposed on our continent on a daily basis; nearly seven of ten (68%) of Africa’s youth, according to our study, continue to believe foreign government investments serve as a modern form of economic colonialism.”
“And so despite the unique opportunity which we present to our American partners, make no mistake – We are reclaiming our economic sovereignty nation on nation and are prepared to play a leadership role at the negotiating table with the United States.” Ichikowitz continued.
In 2018, the Trump Administration created a new development finance institution, the US International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC), comprising $60 billion to support US companies in Africa and around the world, doubling the budget of the former Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) development agency. However, while what followed, the Trump Administration’s Prosper Africa initiative, launched last December by then-U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton in an effort to “…promote international trade and commercial ties to the benefit of both the United States and Africa” marked the first in decades robust African-oriented investment program undertaken within an American President’s first term of Office, many at the time contended it was largely fixated on counterbalancing the inroads of rival superpower, China.
Kimberly Ann Elliott, a visiting scholar at the George Washington University Institute for International Economic Policy, argued that sub-Saharan Africa may soon find itself caught in the middle of a cold war once again; this time, between the U.S. and China.
Moreover, in “…safeguarding the economic independence of African states and protecting U.S. national security interests,” through ‘Prosper Africa’, Ms. Elliott contended that the $50 million-budget for Prosper Africa serves as “…a drop in the bucket compared to the [Trump] administration’s proposed 9 percent cut in overall aid to Africa”.
“We encourage our friends and partners in the United States, the nation’s leaders from the private sector, the next President of America following November’s pivotal elections, to collaborate openly in effective investment opportunities on the continent and engage with us in constructive, two-way dialogue,” Ichikowitz concluded. “If we are however to be in the middle of a trade war between the U.S. and China in future, our next generation will make sure that we will no longer be a casualty”.
The Ichikowitz Family Foundation understands that discerning findings such as these can be used as valuable resources in informing good public governance and corporate social responsibility (CSR), and therefore plan to administer the Survey on an annual basis in future.
The appointment of Nigeria's ex-finance minister to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been thrown into doubt after the US opposed the move.
On Wednesday, a WTO nominations committee recommended the group's 164 members appoint Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
She would be the first woman and first African to lead the WTO.
But the US, critical of the WTO's handling of global trade, wants another woman, South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee, saying she could reform the body.
Ms Okonjo-Iweala said she was "immensely humbled" to be nominated.
But the four-month selection process to find the next WTO director-general hit a road block when Washington said it would continue to back South Korea's trade minister.
In a statement critical of the WTO, the Office of the US Trade Representative, which advises President Donald Trump on trade policy, said the organisation "must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field".
Ms Yoo had "distinguished herself" as a trade expert and "has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation", the statement said.
It added: "This is a very difficult time for the WTO and international trade. There have been no multilateral tariff negotiations in 25 years, the dispute settlement system has gotten out of control, and too few members fulfill basic transparency obligations. The WTO is badly in need of major reform."
The statement did not mention Ms Okonjo-Iweala.
Earlier on Wednesday, after a WTO delegates meeting to discuss the appointment, spokesman Keith Rockwell said just one member country did not support Ms Okonjo-Iweala.
"All of the delegations that expressed their views today expressed very strong support for the process... for the outcome. Except for one," he said.
Mr Trump has described the WTO as "horrible" and biased towards China, and some appointments to key roles in the organisation have already been blocked.
The WTO has called a meeting for 9 November - after the US presidential election - to discuss the issue. US opposition does not mean the Nigerian cannot be appointed, but Washington could nevertheless wield considerable influence over the final decision.
Mr Rockwell told reporters there was likely to be "frenzied activity" to secure a consensus for Ms Okonjo-Iweala's appointment. She has the support of the European Union.
The leadership void was created after outgoing WTO chief Roberto Azevedo stepped down a year early in August. The WTO is currently being steered by four deputies.
Ms Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as her country's first female finance and foreign minister and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank..
She also serves on Twitter's board of directors, as chair of the GAVI vaccine alliance and as a special envoy for the World Health Organisation's Covid-19 fight.
If Ms Okonjo-Iweala is eventually appointed she will have a full in-tray. The WTO is already grappling with stalled trade talks and tensions between the US and China.
Earlier this month she said that her broad experience in championing reform made her the right person to help put the WTO back on track. "I am a reform candidate and I think the WTO needs the reform credentials and skills now.
It has reignited a centuries-long conversation around racism in America and the horrendous ways black people are often treated by police. And it came amid a pandemic that is disproportionately impacting people of color.
On May 25, Floyd, who had recently lost his job as a restaurant bouncer due to coronavirus-related closures, died after being pinned down under a police officer’s knee for several minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, ignored Floyd’s pleas of distress as three other officers looked on and bystanders begged Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck.
A video taken by a bystander and posted online spread quickly on social media. It shows that by the time Chauvin stopped holding Floyd down, he was silent and motionless. According to a criminal complaint filed against Chauvin, an officer on the scene checked for Floyd’s pulse before Chauvin removed his knee and could not find it. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Chauvin and the three other officers involved in the incident were fired on Tuesday, and on Friday, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The incident has rightly prompted outrage across the country, and thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Minneapolis — and in cities across America. While many of these protests have been peaceful, some have turned violent, with police clashes, burning buildings, and looting.
The protests have been focused on policing, but come during a 2020 that has been acutely painful for people of color. The coronavirus crisis has disproportionately affected black and Latino Americans, who have become sick and died of Covid-19 at higher rates than whites. The economic turmoil brought on by stay-at-home measures has also hit people of color especially hard — they’ve lost more jobs, and they were less likely to be financially stable in the first place.
Add to that a cascade of headlines of black Americans whose lives have been cut short by white violence and by police in recent weeks — Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and, most recently, Floyd. As Americans were grappling with these tragic headlines, a video of a white woman feigning an attack by a black man bird-watching in New York’s Central Park after he asked her to leash her dog went viral. It was a reminder that beyond concerns over state violence, systematic racism creates potentially dangerous situations for black Americans doing even the most mundane things.
The protests spawned by the deaths of Floyd and others are hardly a new development in the United States — the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and countless others have led to significant public outcry in recent years. Four years before Floyd’s fatal arrest in Minneapolis, Philando Castile was shot to death during a traffic stop in a nearby Minnesota suburb. Floyd told the officer who kept his knee on his neck, “I can’t breathe,” echoing the words of Eric Garner who died after being held in a chokehold in a police encounter in New York in 2014.
If it feels like we’ve seen this crisis before, it’s because we have. And still so many things haven’t changed.
Floyd died on Monday; Chauvin was charged on Friday
Floyd grew up in Houston and moved to Minneapolis in 2014 to look for work, according to CBS Minnesota. He got a position as a security guard at a Salvation Army store downtown, and then later began to work two jobs as a truck driver and a bouncer. He had a 6-year-old daughter who still lives in Houston with her mother. In the weeks before his death, he’d been laid off due to Minnesota’s stay-at-home order.
Vox’s Catherine Kim explained the circumstances of his May 25 encounter with police following a purchase at a convenience store and, ultimately, his death, as shown by video footage captured of the incident:
Although the video doesn’t capture the moments leading to the arrest, the Minneapolis Police Department said they were responding to a call that a man was trying to use a $20 counterfeit bill, according to the Star Tribune. In a statement, the police department said officers arrived at the scene to find Floyd — who matched the description of the suspect — sitting on a car and appearing to be intoxicated. They added that Floyd physically resisted the police and seemed to be “suffering medical distress,” which is why they had called for an ambulance.
The police’s excessive use of force seemingly has no excuse: The department does not permit the technique that was used to pin Floyd’s head to the ground, according to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
The four officers involved were fired on Tuesday, May 26, and the next day, Mayor Frey called for Chauvin to face criminal charges. Local officials on Thursday said they were investigating Floyd’s death “as expeditiously, as thoroughly, and as completely as justice demands” and asked for patience from the public. On Friday, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, and the Justice Department said it would investigate Floyd’s death as well. Chauvin’s wife has filed for divorce, and his bail has been set at $500,000.
The day the officers involved were fired, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis said in a statement that all video of the incident should be reviewed, and called for waiting on the medical examiner’s report. “Officers’ actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements,” the federation said.
According to the criminal complaint against Chauvin released on Friday, Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, including two minutes and 53 seconds during which Floyd was “non-responsive.” Officer J.A. Keung — another of the four officers fired — tried to find Floyd’s pulse shortly after he became unresponsive, and could not.
The county medical examiner’s preliminary autopsy findings say there were “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” and said that the “combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions, and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.” Floyd’s family is seeking an independent autopsy.
The reaction to Floyd’s death has been massive
The public reaction to Floyd’s death has been swift and enormous.
Politicians, celebrities, athletes, and multiple other public figures have spoken out. Former President Barack Obama released a lengthy statement calling for the country to work for a “new normal” for black Americans. “This shouldn’t be normal in 2020 America,” he wrote.
Former Vice President Joe Biden called the moment a “national crisis” and one that necessitates “leadership that will bring everyone to the table so we can take measures to root out systemic racism.” President Donald Trump expressed his condolences to Floyd’s family and said he spoke with them.
Even members of law enforcement spoke out condemning the circumstances in which Floyd was killed. “To be honest with you, it was very difficult to watch,” Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith told local news outlet WBRC. He continued, “It degrades the trust in all law enforcement, not just one area. When things like this happen, it spreads throughout the country. It makes all of us go back and check our relationships and make sure we are doing things the right way.”
Protests have been ignited in Minneapolis — and across the country — as people express their outrage not only about Floyd’s death, but about the underlying racism and inequality that renders being black in America dangerous, particularly at the hands of police.
Minneapolis has seen days of unrest. There have been a number of peaceful protests, but some businesses there have also been looted, including Target and TJ Maxx; other businesses have been vandalized, and police stations and other buildings burned down. Demonstrations have become increasingly volatile as local officials have asked the public for peace. The governor has called for the full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard.
Uprisings have also spread across the country. On Friday, protests in Atlanta grew tense and violent — cars were set ablaze, and windows at the CNN building were smashed in. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms pleaded with protesters for calm: “If you care about this city, then go home,” she said at a press conference.
Rapper Killer Mike, in a speech at the same press conference, struck a similar tone. “I am duty-bound to be here to simply say that it is your duty not to burn down your own house for anger with an enemy,” he said.
Protesters and police also clashed in Brooklyn on Friday evening. Cars were set on fire and windshields were smashed, and both protesters and police were harmed. According to ABC 7, there were more than 200 arrests reported. Some disturbing videos emerged online of the evening, including one of an officer pushing a woman to the ground and another of a police car door hitting a protester.
In San Jose, California, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, and dozens of cities across the country, protests and arrests are taking place. Crowds of protesters have gathered outside of the White House as well. In Louisville, police officers shot pepper balls at a reporter.
Some of the details of the protests have been a little bit murky. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday said that about 80 percent of people arrested were from outside the region, and Mayor Frey said many people protesting are not from the city as well. But media reports cast doubt on claims that most of those arrested were from out of state. There has been some suggestion that white supremacists or cartels may be involved, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
“Let’s be very clear, the situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said on Saturday.
New York Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who took part in the Brooklyn, New York, protests on Friday, noted he saw “non-black allies in particular” escalating the situation. “That decision should not be yours to make,” he warned. He also spoke out about the “heavy police presence” at the outset of the protests on Friday, before anyone was outside. “We are dealing with people who are grieving and who are angry. The response to that cannot be a show of force,” he said.
Some states have mobilized the National Guard to respond, and mayors have enacted curfews to try to tamp down demonstrations. It is not clear how effective these will be at stemming the protests — a Friday night curfew in Minneapolis was ignored by many, for example.
President Trump isn’t exactly helping the situation. Overnight on Thursday, Trump tweeted out an apparent threat to protesters declaring, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” mirroring language used by segregationist law enforcement officials during the civil rights era. In the same tweet, the president called demonstrators “THUGS.” Twitter put a warning on the tweet saying it glorifies violence, fueling the fire of the president’s battle with the social media platform.
Trump later walked back the tweet, saying he was trying to warn that looting could lead to shootings because it intensifies the situation.
Into the weekend, the president weighed in online on the protests, suggesting they’re driven by antifascists and the “Radical Left,” and lashing out at CNN for its coverage of the demonstrations. He also commended the Secret Service for protecting him from White House protests — and suggested Saturday night should be “MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE.”
This isn’t about the protests, it’s about what the protests are about
Beyond the debates about the tactics demonstrators are using and who is and isn’t involved, there is a much deeper issue here that must remain in focus: the way black people are treated in the United States.
Of course the protests are about George Floyd’s death. Political leaders fear violence at the protests — and any destruction of property or bodily harm is, of course, worrisome — but their concerns actually demonstrate the fundamental asymmetry that the protesters are pushing back against. The state has a monopoly on legitimate violence, and it is often directed at young black people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice — the list goes on. When they die, the police officers responsible too frequently face no repercussions because they are protected by the law. If the men who killed George Floyd go to prison for their actions, they will be exceptions that prove that longstanding rule.
As Scott lays out, there are countless data points on how black Americans are targeted and mistreated by law enforcement. Black men have 1 in 1,000 odds of being killed by the police. Black people are twice as likely as whites to be pulled over by police, and they’re likelier to be searched. When they’re murdered, their murders are less likely to be solved. They’re sent to prison more often, and they are given longer prison sentences.
And for black Americans, these aren’t data points — they are real and lived situations each and every day.
And racial disparities are not just limited to criminal justice. Inequities are present in so many aspects of American life. Just look at the coronavirus crisis: The disease is disproportionately sickening and killing people of color, and it’s hitting in areas where minorities live harder. That’s true in Minnesota, where Floyd lived. Women of color are disproportionately essential workers who are putting themselves at risk, often for low-paid jobs with no health insurance. Black and Hispanic people are likelier to be laid off or furloughed during the pandemic. That’s what happened to Floyd.
In the flurry of news around the protests of Floyd’s death, on top of everything else, it can be easy to lose sight of the real problem: The centuries of racism in the bedrock of American society continue to do enormous damage. And that damage is borne in large part by black Americans.
Egypt said that it is willing to resume negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia over the filling of a controversial mega-dam that has been a source of tension between all three Nile basin countries.
“Egypt is always ready to enter into negotiations and participate in upcoming meetings ... to reach a fair, balanced and comprehensive agreement,” the foreign ministry said.
The ministry said the agreement would have to take into account “Egypt’s water interests as well as those of Ethiopia and Sudan”.
Cairo’s thawing stance comes after Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok held a virtual meeting with his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmad earlier Thursday to hammer out a deal.
The online meeting comes after Addis Ababa said it would not delay filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which it began constructing in 2011.
In April, Ahmad proposed proceeding with the “first stage filling” that would collect 18.4 billion cubic metres of water in the dam’s reservoir over two years.
But both Egypt and Sudan fear the reservoir, which has a capacity of 74 billion cubic metres, will trap their essential water supplies.
Hamdok and Abiy’s talks were the first after a diplomatic spat that broke out between Egypt and Ethiopia reached the UN Security Council.
Filling and operating the dam “would jeopardise the water security, food security, and indeed, the very existence of over 100 million Egyptians, who are entirely dependent on the Nile River for their livelihood,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in a letter to the UN Security Council dated May 1.
In a response dated May 14, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew accused Egypt of being obstructionist.
“Ethiopia does not have a legal obligation to seek the approval of Egypt to fill the dam,” Gedu said.
Egypt wants Ethiopia to endorse a draft agreement emerging from the talks earlier this year facilitated by the US Treasury Department, which stepped in after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sissi put in a request to his ally US President Donald Trump.
But Ethiopia skipped the most recent round of those talks and denies any deal was agreed upon.
Cairo’s heavily worded letter to the Security Council raised the spectre of the possibility of armed conflict stemming from the dam deadlock.
U.S. and Chinese negotiators are nearing a trade deal, but President Trump isn't ready to sign off, White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow said.
The two sides are "getting close" to an agreement, Mr. Kudlow said Thursday during a question-and-answer event at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Negotiators for the U.S. and China have been working to come up with a written "phase one" trade deal in which Beijing would commit to buying American farm products and the U.S. would agree to roll back tariffs it has imposed on Chinese imports.
Both countries were initially working toward a deal that Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could sign at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile, but the summit was canceled because of rioting in Chile. The cancellation, combined with difficulties at the bargaining table, has disrupted the time frame.
Mr. Trump has said that China has agreed to buy up to $50 billion in U.S. farm goods annually, but The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that China was balking at making a specific dollar commitment.
The expected rollback of tariffs has emerged as a major stumbling block, with China pushing the U.S. to remove all levies while the U.S. has pushed for a limited or phased rollback as leverage to ensure China lives up to its promises.
The U.S. Commerce Department is expected to extend a reprieve given to Huawei Technologies that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from U.S. companies so that it can service existing customers, two sources familiar with the situation said.
The "temporary general license" will be extended for Huawei for 90 days, the sources said.
Commerce initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in May shortly after blacklisting the company in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers, many of which operate networks in rural America.
An extension will renew an agreement set to lapse on August 19, continuing the Chinese company's ability to maintain existing telecommunications networks and provide software updates to Huawei handsets.
The situation surrounding the license, which has become a key bargaining chip for the United States in its trade negotiations with China, remains fluid and the decision to continue the Huawei reprieve could change ahead of the Monday deadline, the sources said.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to discuss Huawei in a call this weekend, one of the sources said.
Huawei did not have an immediate comment. China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
When the Commerce Department blocked Huawei from buying U.S. goods earlier this year, it was seen as a major escalation in the trade war between the world’s two top economies.
The U.S. government blacklisted Huawei alleging the Chinese company is involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.
As an example, the blacklisting order cited a criminal case pending against the company in federal court, over allegations Huawei violated U.S. sanctions against Iran. Huawei has pleaded not guilty in the case.
The order noted that the indictment also accused Huawei of “deceptive and obstructive acts”.
At the same time the United States says Huawei's smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied.
The world's largest telecommunications equipment maker is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without additional special licenses.
Many Huawei suppliers have requested the special licenses to sell to the firm. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters late last month he had received more than 50 applications, and that he expected to receive more.
Out of $70 billion that Huawei spent buying components in 2018, some $11 billion went to U.S. firms including Qualcomm, Intel and Micron Technology.
The Commerce Department late on Friday declined to comment, referring to Ross’s comments to CNBC television earlier this week in which he said the existing licenses were in effect until Monday.
Asked if they would be extended he said: “On Monday I'll be happy to update you.”
Google and its operations in China have come under the spotlight in the past few days.
Billionaire investor Peter Thiel last week accused the U.S. technology giant of working with the Chinese military and called for the U.S. government to investigate Google. In response, President Donald Trump said his administration will “take a look” into Google.
The tech giant has denied working with the Chinese military.
Still, the controversy has sparked interest in what Google is doing in China. CNBC took a closer look at Google’s business dealings in China.
Google ended its search product in China in 2010 and is effectively blocked in the country. However, a report emerged last year that the search giant was looking to launch a censored version of its search app in China. The initiative, which the company acknowledged publicly, was in its early stages. In China, all internet services are required to censor information which the government deems sensitive.
However, Vice President for Government Affairs and Public Policy at the company, Karan Bhatia, said this week that Google had abandoned plans for “Project Dragonfly,” the name of its China search product initiative.
So right now, Google is still blocked in China and can only be accessed via a virtual private network (VPN), which helps mask a user’s internet location.
One of Thiel’s accusations is that Chinese spies have infiltrated Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) projects, but he did not provide any evidence.
Google does have AI projects in China though. In 2017, the company opened up an AI research center in China.
On its website, Google says AI research in China is focused on education and so-called natural language understanding — which refers to an AI technique focused on getting machines to understand human language. Google is looking to apply AI to auctioning so that the bidding process for ads can be more efficient. This could be important for Google, which operates an advertising marketplace.
In China, the work is also contributing to AI products that Google makes available globally, such as TensorFlow. This is an open source library that can help other companies develop AI products.
Technology giants such as Alibaba and Tencent dominate the cloud market in China. So Google’s tactic is to try to sell its cloud products to Chinese firms that have international operations in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
A search of Google job postings in China showed the company is looking for cloud computing engineers, data managers, sales and business development roles across Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
The company is also hiring people to target customers in specific industries — from media and entertainment to manufacturing.
Google sells a number of hardware products including smartphones, smart speakers and thermostats, under the Nest brand that it owns. Some of that is manufactured in China.
The company is currently advertising roles for engineers to test products and for manufacturing and supply chain managers. On LinkedIn, a number of Google employees in Shenzhen, a key technology hub in China, listed their jobs as hardware-related.
However, Bloomberg reported in June that Google was moving the production of some Nest thermostats and server hardware out of China to avoid tariffs from the U.S.
App developers and the Google Play Store
The Google Play Store, the company’s app store, is blocked in China. So Google is trying to work with app developers in China to help them bring their products onto the Play Store in international markets.
Under its job listings, Google advertised for two roles for a business development manager related to the play store.
“As a Business Development Manager of Google Play, you will empower developers to build successful businesses on Play/Android globally, and inspire the ecosystem to innovate on/invest in Android and Play,” the job description reads.
Google also has individual roles for the gaming section of the Google Play store. Games are a huge part of its app store.
Advertising is a core part of Google’s revenue but because its services are blocked in China, it can’t really sell ads on those platforms there. So the company focuses on Chinese businesses looking to advertise on Google platforms abroad, whether that is on its search engine, YouTube or something else.
One job that’s being advertised is for a business development consultant in Shanghai who will be “responsible for driving business growth and attracting new medium to large size advertisers for Google.” There are also people focused on getting advertisers from specific industries like retail or entertainment.
Overall, Google’s business in China is mostly aimed at getting Chinese companies to use its products outside of China.
Credit: CNBC AFRICA
The United States and China agreed on Saturday to restart trade talks after President Donald Trump offered concessions including no new tariffs and an easing of restrictions on tech company Huawei in order to reduce tensions with Beijing.
China agreed to make unspecified new purchases of U.S. farm products and return to the negotiating table. No deadline was set for progress on a deal, and the world's two largest economies remain at odds over significant parts of an agreement.
The last major round of talks collapsed in May.
Financial markets, which have been rattled by the nearly year-long trade war, are likely to cheer the truce. Washington and Beijing have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars of each other's imports, stoking fears of a wider global trade war. Those tariffs remain in place while negotiations resume.
"We're right back on track," Trump told reporters after an 80-minute meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in Osaka, Japan.
"We're holding back on tariffs and they're going to buy farm products," Trump said, without giving details about the purchases.
Trump tweeted hours later that the meeting with Xi went "far better than expected."
"The quality of the transaction is far more important to me than speed," he tweeted. "I am in no hurry, but things look very good!"
The U.S. president had threatened to slap new levies on roughly $300 billion of additional Chinese goods, including popular consumer products, if the meeting in Japan proved unsuccessful. Such a move would have extended existing tariffs to almost all Chinese imports into the United States.
In a lengthy statement on the two-way talks, China's foreign ministry quoted Xi as telling Trump he hoped the United States could treat Chinese companies fairly.
"China is sincere about continuing negotiations with the United States ... but negotiations should be equal and show mutual respect," the foreign ministry quoted Xi as saying.
Trump offered an olive branch to Xi on Huawei Technologies Co [HWT.UL], the world's biggest telecom network gear maker. The Trump administration has said the Chinese firm is too close to China's government and poses a national security risk, and has lobbied U.S. allies to keep Huawei out of next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure.
Trump's Commerce Department has put Huawei on its "entity list," effectively banning the company from buying parts and components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval.
But Trump said on Saturday he did not think that was fair to U.S. suppliers, who were upset by the move. "We're allowing that, because that wasn't national security," he said.
CHEERS FROM CHIP MAKERS
Trump said the U.S. Commerce Department would study in the next few days whether to take Huawei off the list of firms banned from buying components and technology from U.S. companies without government approval.
China welcomed the step.
"If the U.S. does what it says, then of course, we welcome it," said Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese foreign ministry's envoy for G20 affairs.
U.S. microchip makers also applauded the move.
"We are encouraged the talks are restarting and additional tariffs are on hold and we look forward to getting more detail on the president's remarks on Huawei," John Neuffer, president of the U.S. Semiconductor Association, said in a statement.
Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, however, tweeted that any agreement to reverse the recent U.S. action against Huawei would be a "catastrophic mistake" and that legislation would be needed to put the restrictions back in place if that turned out to be the case.
Last month, Rubio and Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner urged Trump to not use Huawei as a bargaining chip for trade negotiations.
Huawei has come under mounting scrutiny for over a year, led by U.S. allegations that "back doors" in its routers, switches and other gear could allow China to spy on U.S. communications.
The company has denied its products pose a security threat. It declined to comment on the developments on Saturday.
The problems at Huawei have filtered across to the broader chip industry, with Broadcom Inc warning of a broad slowdown in demand and cutting its revenue forecast.
Trump said he and Xi did not discuss the extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, who was arrested in Canada in December on charges alleging she misled global banks about Huawei's relationship with a company in Iran.
RELIEF AND SCEPTICISM
Scores of Asia specialists, including former U.S. diplomats and military officers, urged Trump to rethink policies that "treat China as an enemy," warning that approach could hurt U.S. interests and the global economy, according to a draft open letter reviewed by Reuters on Saturday.
Investors, businesses and financial leaders have for months been warning that an intractable tit-for-tat tariff war between the United States and China could damage global supply chains and push the world economy over a cliff.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Saturday urged G20 policymakers to reduce tariffs and other obstacles to trade, warning that the global economy had hit a "rough patch" due to the trade conflict.
Although analysts cheered a resumption of talks between Washington and Beijing, some questioned whether the two sides would be able to build enough momentum to breach the divide and forge a lasting deal.
"Translating this truce into a durable easing of trade tensions is far from automatic ... especially as what's in play now extends well beyond economics to include delicate national security issues of both immediate- and longer-term nature," said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz.
The United States says China has been stealing American intellectual property for years, forces U.S. firms to share trade secrets as a condition for doing business in China, and subsidizes state-owned firms to dominate industries.
China has said the United States is making unreasonable demands and must also make concessions.
The negotiations hit an impasse in May after Washington accused Beijing of reneging on reform pledges made during months of talks. Trump raised tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200 billion of Chinese goods, and China retaliated by raising levies on a list of U.S. imports.
Mexican and U.S. officials were preparing on Sunday for upcoming talks aimed at averting a major trade clash after U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to impose punitive tariffs on all Mexican goods in an intensifying dispute over migration.
Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez said on Sunday she would meet with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Washington on Monday, as the two governments begin holding talks to resolve the issue in the U.S. capital in the coming week.
Trump says he will apply tariffs of 5% on Mexican goods on June 10 if Mexico does not halt the flow of illegal immigration, largely from Central America, across the U.S.-Mexican border.
The U.S. president lashed out on Twitter on Sunday morning, calling Mexico an "abuser of the United States, taking but never giving," and repeating his tariff threats. He doubled down a few hours later.
"Mexico is sending a big delegation to talk about the Border. Problem is, they've been 'talking' for 25 years," Trump wrote. "We want action, not talk. They could solve the Border Crisis in one day if they so desired. Otherwise, our companies and jobs are coming back to the USA!"
The tariffs will gradually rise to 25% if Mexico does not comply with Trump's demands. That threatens major economic damage to Mexico, which sends about 80% of its exports to the United States.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador hinted on Saturday that his government could agree to tighten migration controls to defuse Trump's threat, and said he expected "good results" from the talks in Washington.
Speaking on Sunday afternoon at an event to mark the start of construction on an oil refinery in southern Mexico, Lopez Obrador did not refer directly to the trade dispute, but said he wanted to send a "memorandum" to the American people.
"The Mexican government is a friend of the United States government. The president of Mexico wants to stay friends with President Donald Trump. But above all, we are friends of the American people," Lopez Obrador said.
In words directed at the U.S. public, he added: "We want nothing and no one to break our beautiful and sacred friendship."
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard is heading the Mexican delegation, which includes Marquez. Marquez said she spoke to Ross during the inauguration of El Salvador's new president on Saturday, without giving details.
Ebrard is expected to meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for talks on the crisis on Wednesday, although Mexican officials say they will be holding other meetings beforehand.
Trump's ultimatum has hurt Mexican financial assets and global stocks, but it met resistance from U.S. business leaders and lawmakers worried about the impact of targeting Mexico, one of the United States' top trade partners.
In his Sunday Twitter broadside, Trump also hit out at U.S. companies operating in Mexico.
"Our many companies and jobs that have been foolishly allowed to move South of the Border, will be brought back into the United States through taxation (Tariffs)," Trump wrote. "America has had enough!"
Lopez Obrador said on Saturday that Mexico would not engage in a trade war, but noted that his government had a "plan" in case Trump did apply the tariffs, without providing details.
He also noted that Mexico reserved the right to seek international legal arbitration to resolve the dispute.
Some Mexican business groups have urged the government to strike back against any Trump tariffs.
On Friday, Mexico's top farm lobby said Lopez Obrador should target agricultural goods from states that support Trump's Republican Party if the U.S. president carries out his threat.
Apprehensions at the U.S. border with Mexico have surged in recent months, although Mexican data also show more deportations and detentions at Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, mostly of Central Americans trying to reach the United States.
The bulk of migrants are fleeing widespread violence and poverty in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Many seek asylum in the United States when they cross the border.
Trump is pushing Congress to change U.S. law to make it more difficult for the migrants to claim asylum.