While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Aug 13

Biden introduces running mate Kamala Harris in campaign to ‘rebuild this country’

Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden on Wednesday introduced his vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris at their first joint appearance as an inspiring woman who would help him to “rebuild this country.”

Accusing US President Donald Trump of failing to lead during the coronavirus crisis, Biden said that he and Harris would fix “the mess that President Trump and Vice-President Pence have created at home and abroad.”

The Democrat, who walked out with Harris onto the stage in his hometown of Delaware, said her historic role as only the third woman ever picked for the vice presidency by a major party was inspiring “little girls” across America.

“I have no doubt that I picked the right person to join me as the next vice president of the United States of America, and that is Senator Kamala Harris,” Biden said. “She’s ready to do this job on day one. We’re both ready to get to work rebuilding this nation,” he said.

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Surge in Spain’s coronavirus cases prompts regional smoking ban, field hospital

Coronavirus cases in Spain jumped by nearly 1,700 on Wednesday, part of a surge that has prompted the construction of a military field hospital in the hard-hit Aragon region and led authorities in Galicia to practically ban smoking in public places.

Health ministry data showed 1,690 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed in the 24 hours to Wednesday, up from the 1,418 reported on Tuesday and bringing the cumulative total to 329,784.

The new daily number excluded Madrid, which did not provide fresh data due to technical difficulties.

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UK’s Covid-19 death toll lowered to 41,000 after methodology change

Britain’s official death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic was lowered by over 5,000 on Wednesday because the government adopted a new way of counting fatalities after concerns were raised that the old method overstated them.

From now on, the authorities will publish on a daily basis the number of deaths that occurred within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test result, the Department of Health said.

Under the new method, Britain has an official Covid-19 death toll of 41,329 rather than the 46,706 recorded under the old system. The toll is still the highest in Europe, ahead of Italy on about 35,000.

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Taiwan says discussing purchase of US mines, cruise missiles

Taiwan is in discussions with the United States on acquiring underwater sea mines to deter amphibious landings as well as cruise missiles for coastal defence, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to United States said on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Washington’s Hudson Institute think tank, Hsiao Bi-khim said Taiwan was facing “an existential survival issue,” given China’s territorial and sovereignty claims over the island and needed to expand its asymmetric capabilities.

“What we mean by asymmetric capabilities is cost effective, but lethal enough to become deterrence – to make any consideration of an invasion very painful,” she said.

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2019 was one of three warmest years on record, researchers find

Last year was one of the three warmest on record, with glaciers melting, sea levels rising and a spate of wildfires, heatwaves and droughts, research published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) showed.

The BAMS annual State of the Climate Report, by 528 climate scientists from 61 countries, said only 2015 and 2016 were hotter than 2019, based on records dating to the mid- to late 1800s.

Each decade since 1980 has been successively warmer than the preceding one, with the most recent (2010-2019) being around 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer globally than the previous (2000-09).

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