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Biden picks black woman, Senator Harris as running mate


US Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, making history by selecting the first Black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket and acknowledging the vital role Black voters will play in his bid to defeat President Donald Trump.

In choosing Harris, Biden embraced a former rival from the Democratic primary who is familiar with the unique rigor of a national campaign. The 55-year-old first-term senator, who is also of South Asian descent, is one of the party’s most prominent figures. She quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.

She will appear with Biden for the first time as his running mate at an event Wednesday near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

In announcing the pick Tuesday, Biden called Harris a “fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.” She said Biden would “unify the American people” and “build an America that lives up to our ideals.”

Harris joins Biden at a moment of unprecedented national crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 160,000 people in the U.S., far more than the toll experienced in other countries. Business closures and disruptions resulting from the pandemic have caused severe economic problems. Unrest, meanwhile, has emerged across the country as Americans protest racism and police brutality.

Trump’s uneven handling of the crises has given Biden an opening, and he enters the fall campaign in strong position against the president. In adding Harris to the ticket, he can point to her relatively centrist record on issues such as health care and her background in law enforcement in the nation’s largest state.

The president told reporters Tuesday he was “a little surprised” that Biden picked Harris, pointing to their debate stage disputes during the primary. Trump, who had donated to her previous campaigns, argued she was “about the most liberal person in the U.S. Senate.”

“I would have thought that Biden would have tried to stay away from that a little bit,” he said.

Harris’s record as California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco was heavily scrutinized during the Democratic primary and turned away some liberals and younger Black voters who saw her as out of step on issues of racism in the legal system and police brutality. She declared herself a “progressive prosecutor” who backs law enforcement reforms.

Biden, who spent eight years as President Barack Obama’s vice president, has spent months weighing who would fill that same role in his White House. He pledged in March to select a woman as his vice president, easing frustration among Democrats that the presidential race would center on two white men in their 70s.

Biden’s search was expansive, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive; Florida Rep. Val Demings, whose impeachment criticism of Trump won party plaudits; California Rep. Karen Bass, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus; former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice; and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose passionate response to unrest in her city garnered national attention.

A woman has never served as president or vice president in the United States. Hillary Clinton was the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. Two women have been nominated as running mates on major party tickets: Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008. Their parties lost in the general election.

The vice presidential pick carries increased significance this year. If elected, Biden would be 78 when inaugurated in January, the oldest man to ever assume the presidency. He’s spoken of himself as a transitional figure and hasn’t fully committed to seeking a second term in 2024.

Harris, born in 1964 to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, spent much of her formative years in Berkeley, California. She has often spoken of the deep bond she shared with her mother, whom she has called her single biggest influence.

Harris won her first election in 2003 when she became San Francisco’s district attorney. In that post, she created a reentry program for low-level drug offenders and cracked down on student truancy.

She was elected California’s attorney general in 2010, the first woman and Black person to hold the job, and focused on issues including the foreclosure crisis. She declined to defend the state’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage and was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

After being elected to the Senate in 2016, she quickly gained attention for her assertive questioning of Trump administration officials during congressional hearings.

SOURCE: AP through Yahoo.com

Chinese-funded water cellars bring succour and health to Ethiopians in water-deficient areas


A Chinese-funded water cellar has become a precious asset of the family of Abebayehu, a villager in Ghadaig Town, Amhara region, Ethiopia.

In rainy season, rainwater moves down the iron roof and gathers at the eaves of the house, and then flows along a pipeline into the underground water cellar at the threshing ground of Abebayehu’s family. The water stored in the place can guarantee a stable and safe water source for the family during the dry season.

With a water storage capacity of 30 cubic meters, the water cellar can meet the basic water demand of the family of five for half a year at least.

Located in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has been long troubled by drought. In the 1980s, a severe famine caused by drought led to the death of more than 400,000 Ethiopian people.

Today, many families living in remote areas of the country have to walk dozens of kilometers of mountain roads to fetch water every day.

Since water source is so precious in these areas, people and livestock share the sources of drinking water. Diarrhea and communicable diseases like dysentery are still confronting the local people. Besides, water shortage and communicable diseases are the primary causes for the high mortality of infants and children in these areas.

In an effort to alleviate the difficulty in using water for Ethiopian people, China’s leading construction machinery manufacturer Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group (XCMG) and China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) jointly built a batch of concrete water cellars for villagers in water-deficient areas of Ethiopia.

Based on the successful experience of domestic areas which used to suffer from water shortage, the Chinese-built water cellars effectively store up water during the rainy season by utilizing such facilities as roofs and threshing grounds. The water stored in these cellars can not only meet people’s basic needs for water, but can even be used for agricultural irrigation for higher crop yield.

Initiated in August 2016, the Africa Public Welfare Project that is aimed at helping alleviate the problem of water shortage for areas suffering from droughts in Ethiopia, has entered the third phase.

The first and second phases of the project have built 81 water cellars for seven Ethiopian villages, benefiting more than 6,700 local people. The third phase of the project focuses on facilitating the supply of water for schools in remote areas of the country.

The serial number of the water cellar in the family of Abebayehu is No.23. It was built during the first phase of the project.

According to Abebayehu, he and his wife used to get up before dawn and drive the cattle to a pool located 15 kilometers away to fetch water during the dry season. Since the round trip took most of the day, they barely had time to take care of the crops. Therefore, the yields of wheat, corn, and teff were all very low.

Besides, since the water in the pool is always cloudy and the pool may dry up during severe drought, Abebayehu had to go to the town and buy water sometimes.

Now that they have the water cellar, Abebayehu and his wife don’t have to walk far away to get water and have time to carefully manage their crops, according to Abebayehu, who said he has witnessed higher crop yields and even started to plant fruit trees and vegetables in the backyard of his house.

All these fruit trees and vegetables were grown after the Chinese-funded water cellar was built in his family, Abebayehu said, referring to fruit trees such as orange trees, lemon trees, pawpaw trees, banana trees, as well as wheat, chili, and vegetables flourishing in the backyard of his house.

In 2019, XCMG, CFPA and a public-welfare organization jointly initiated a water purification project in 40 public elementary schools and kindergartens in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

The project provided all these schools with carbon fiber water tank with a capacity of 10,000 liters, VZN water purifier, five drinking water pools, and five hand washing sinks. These facilities can meet the water demand of 1,000 local students for drinking and personal hygiene as well as the needs of school kitchens for nearly three days.

Since the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Ethiopia, Ethiopia has achieved rapid development in such sectors as infrastructure construction, education, and culture, according to Anils Awon, director of irrigation for the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

More and more Chinese companies have made efforts to repay the society and fully fulfill their social responsibilities while carrying out operational activities in Ethiopia, said Awon.

The water cellar project has benefited a growing number of residents living in arid areas and brought water sources and health to the local people, Awon said, adding that he hopes Chinese companies and non-governmental organizations will continue helping accelerate the development of Ethiopia and improve the people’s livelihood of the country.

People’s Daily

China’s Ningxia region turns into prosperity from grape wine industry


The eastern foot of Helan Mountain, on the outskirts of Yinchuan, capital of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, is a contiguous area of wine production, which is hailed as a “purple business card” of the Hui autonomous region.

From the first grape seedling planted some 20 years ago, to building a complete industrial chain and influence, the grape wine industry is thriving on this once barren land.

Since 1996, China made the collaboration on poverty alleviation between the eastern and western regions a major national strategy. Xi Jinping, who then served as the deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Fujian Provincial Committee, was in charge of Fujian’s effort to assist Ningxia. Fujian-Ningxia collaboration officially set off since then.

Ningxia’s Xihaigu region was once listed as the “most unfit place for human settlement” by the United Nations for its barren land and lack of water resource. Fortunately, a resettlement township was founded on the sands of a Gobi desert south to Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia in 1997, absorbing over 40,000 residents from Xihaigu. To commemorate the close bond of collaboration between Fujian (also known as Min for short) and Ningxia (also known as Ning for short), the township was named Minning.

Poverty alleviation was carried out simultaneously as Minning started construction and resettlement work, and the grape wine industry was an important pillar for the town to shake off poverty. Entrepreneurs from Fujian believe that the Gobi desert where Minning locates is not an average one. Situated 38.5 degrees north of the Earth’s equatorial plane, Minning sees low precipitation, long sunshine hours, and high diurnal temperature variation. Besides, the rich minerals in its high-permeable sandy soil offer great growth conditions for wine grapes.

With capital and technical input, the Gobi desert of Minning was soon covered by green leaves and filled with the aroma of wine. Thanks to the grape wine industry, the relocated residents from Xihaigu have had stable jobs and increasing income. As a result, they stayed in Minning.

Yang Cheng resettled in Minning after living in the mountains for decades, where he planted potatoes and wheat and worried all day for irrigation. Since he moved to the new town, his family all started working in a vineyard. Yang became an electrician after training, and his wife a sanitation worker. Plus, his son drives excavators for the vineyard. The family of three earns over 10,000 yuan ($1,435) per month.

The vineyard where Yang’s family work is operated by Fujian businessman Chen Qide. Starting on a 6667-hectare wasteland, Chen vows to make the best wine in Ningxia. Now, the wine he makes wins international awards almost every year.

As of the end of 2019, the eastern foot of Helan Mountain had a total of 38,000 hectares of vineyards, offering around 120,000 jobs for relocated residents.

Poverty alleviation of Minning started from wine making, but never ends with it. Fujian-Ningxia collaboration also includes constructing reliable sales channels and marketing methods.

Lai Youwei is a cadre from Dehua, Fujian designated to serve temporary position in Minning. After arriving in Ningxia, he has invited many business people from his hometown to the vineyards in Minning, recommending products to them to expand the sales channel. He also joined a livestream marketing show this May to help sell the wine during which he finished orders of nearly 300,000 yuan.

Zhu Wenzhang, from Jinjiang, Fujian, is a wine dealer now working in the eastern foot of Helan Mountain. He introduced an innovative method of “shared winery” based on his connection with wine dealers who prefer high-quality grape wines. The method helped more than 50 enterprises “claim” a total of 200 hectares of vineyards as the origin of their production, so that the quality is better controlled. Besides, grape growers don’t have to worry about the sales.

The grape wine industry witnessed the efforts and results of Fujian-Ningxia collaboration over the past 20 years, and helped many families realize their dream of getting rich. Today, Fujian-Ningxia collaboration is still upgrading, aiming to achieve more splendid targets.

People’s Daily

Chinese company delivers clean water to FCT’s Kwali rural community


By Jiang Xuan, People’s Daily                  

“This is an important project for Kwali township and its surrounding areas, putting an end to water shortage,” said Estu Shaban Audu Nyizazo III, chief of the Nigerian township.

He made the remarks when introducing a water supply system donated by Chinese enterprise CGC Overseas Construction Group (CGCOC) that started operation two years ago.

“Everything about the system has been going well and the clean water will give us a great Durba this year,” Dogo Kwali Gambo, the chief geologist of Kwali Area Council recently told the CGCOC Nigeria Company over the phone.

The water supply system was proposed by Ye Shuijin, general manager of CGCOC’s Nigerian branch, when the Minister of the Nigerian Federal Capital Territory Administration Muhammad Bello inspected the CGCOC Water Co., Ltd. three years ago.

The town of Kwali had two small water plants built in the late 1980s. However, they weren’t able to offer constant water supply due to poor maintenance and became abandoned because of sand production and tube breakage.

The 600,000 residents in Kwali had lost their fixed source of drinking water ever since, and the water shortage was even more severe in the dry season, said a Nigerian employee of the CGCOC in charge of public relations, adding that water supply became the most pressing problem for the town.

Nyizazo III introduced that most of the privately drilled wells were shallow, so the water was always easily contaminated in the rainy season. Besides, the high maintenance and diesel price for generators were also a problem, he added.

To offer clean water for local residents as soon as possible, the CGCOC decided to transform the two existing water plants and upgraded them with an automatic solar-power system. The company also installed new tubes to connect villages and opened more stations for residents to fetch water.

In just 45 days, the project, commencing in early October, 2017, installed 4,400 meters of tubes, drilled 5 wells, built 5 automatic solar-power impounding reservoir, and established 29 water-fetching stations in major places and main roads.

The new system supplies 160 cubic meters of water each day, which is able to meet the demand of 10,000 people. It needs no manual operation and consumes no material, even in regular intensity of sunlight, which is both environmentally friendly and energy-saving.

“This is a special gift to Kwali by the CGCOC,” said Bello during the completion ceremony of the project, after taking a sip of the water that ran out of the system.

“We had to pay at least 300 naira ($0.78) for a bucket of water before, which made it 50,000 naira a year for a thrift family of seven, or my monthly salary,” said a man surnamed Emmanuel from Kwali. “Now we all have clean and healthy water,” he added.

Umar, another resident in his 50s is disabled due to polio, which makes it hard for him to fetch water from afar. “We never thought we could have clean water in the past, and now we are helped by the Chinese company. What runs in the water is the friendship from the Chinese people,” he told the People’s Daily.

“We came to Nigeria in 1983, and our development here could not have been achieved without the assistance from the Nigerian people. Therefore, we shall give back to them today,” said Ye, saying donating the water plant is a way for the Chinese enterprise to repay the local people.

Uganda’s economy on the rebound as lockdown eases


Uganda’s central bank said on Monday that although the country’s economy contracted in the second quarter of 2020, there are indications the economy is picking up as the country eases the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

   Bank of Uganda (BOU) in a statement issued here to announce the lending Central Bank Rate (CBR) for the month of August said economic activity contracted by 3.2 percent in the second quarter of 2020 as a result of a combination of COVID-19 containment measures and floods.

   The bank said complementary fiscal and monetary policy actions have provided a foundation for the recovery of economic activity as the lockdown is relaxed.

   “The Composite Index of Economic Activity grew by 5.7 percent month-on-month in June 2020, indicating a pickup in economic activity relative to the contraction registered in the three months to May 2020,” the statement signed by Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, governor BOU said.

   The Purchasing Managers’ Index also continued to register improvements since May 2020 and slightly crossed the 50 mark, indicating improvements in the business environment, according to the central bank statement.

   The bank said, as the easing of the lockdown continues, the economy is expected to slowly recover, reflecting the effects of a slow rebound in both foreign and domestic demand and, subdued confidence on the part of households and firms.

   The statement said many consumers are expected to be hesitant to resume their previous spending patterns, partly due to fears of contracting the virus and uncertainty about earnings. Even those whose incomes were not affected may increase their need for precautionary savings.

   The bank said low exports of goods and subdued tourism receipts are projected to continue to weigh on economic growth given weaker global demand.

   The slow recovery will lead the economy to grow at a projected range of 3.0-4.0 percent this financial year 2020/21, further increasing to 5.0-6.0 percent next financial year 2021/22.

   The country’s economic outlook, according to BOU, is extremely uncertain, largely because of the unpredictable intensity and duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

   “The downside risks to the economic growth projection include the possibility of a widespread and possibly more severe second wave of the virus, requiring a complete lock down, as well as, the locust invasion,” the statement said. The country is currently facing a locust invasion in the northern and northeastern parts of the country.

   The country, according to bank, remains highly vulnerable to recurring spouts of global financial volatility, stemming either from continued global economic weakness or the uncontrolled spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

   In addition, increasing Non-Performing Loans and high lending interest rates could delay recovery of Private Sector Credit extensions to pre-COVID levels.

   On the upside, economic growth could turn out stronger than projected if the spread of the virus is contained, or if a vaccine or effective treatment is available earlier than is currently being assumed. The bank said such a scenario could lead to greater business and consumer confidence, factors which would likely lead to stronger economic growth.

The bank, for the month of August, maintained the benchmark lending rate at 7 percent.