The Associated Press
Gretchen Whitmer wanted out.
The Michigan governor had caught the interest of Joe Biden and his vice presidential vetting committee, who were drawn to her prominence in a crucial battleground state and her aggressive response to the coronavirus outbreak there. But by late spring, the nation was in the midst of a reckoning over race and inequality following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes.
Whitmer sent word to Biden's team that while she was flattered, she no longer wanted to be considered for the running mate slot, according to a high-ranking Democrat familiar with the process. She recommended Biden pick a Black woman.
But Biden still wanted Whitmer in the mix, and he personally called her in mid-June to ask if she would continue on to the second, more intensive round of vetting, according to the official. Whitmer agreed.
But forces in the country, and within the Democratic Party, were indeed pushing Biden toward a history-making pick. As protests over the death of Floyd and other Black Americans filled the streets across the country, an array of Democrats urged Biden to put a Black woman on the ticket — a nod to this moment in the nation's history, to the critical role Black voters played in Biden's assent to the Democratic nomination, and to their vital importance in his general election campaign against President Donald Trump.
Kamala Harris' selection as VP resonates with Black women
DETROIT (AP) — China Cochran met Kamala Harris at a campaign event in Detroit last year and was swept away by her ambition, charisma and leadership. She hoped the California senator would advance in politics.
So when Joe Biden named Harris on Tuesday as his running mate — making her the first Black woman on a major party's presidential ticket — Cochran wasn't just struck by the history. It represented a full-circle moment for Black women, who for generations have fought for their voices to be heard and political aspirations recognized.
"It tells Black girls that they can be president," said Cochran, who recently ran for state representative in Michigan. "If you look back at Shirley Chisholm, she ran so that Kamala could lead at this moment. I think it's important for us to look at that and see other young women of color realize that they can go after their dreams and really make change in our world."
Harris' selection is historic in many senses. It also marks the first time an Asian American would be on the presidential ticket. Born to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, she often speaks of her deep bond with her late mother, whom she has called her single biggest influence.
Harris' boundary-breaking potential serves as an affirmation of the growing power of voters of color, according to nearly a dozen interviews with political strategists, potential voters and activists.
Companies test antibody drugs to treat, prevent COVID-19
With a coronavirus vaccine still months off, companies are rushing to test what may be the next best thing: drugs that deliver antibodies to fight the virus right away, without having to train the immune system to make them.
Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs; they attach to a virus and help it be eliminated. Vaccines work by tricking the body into thinking there's an infection so it makes antibodies and remembers how to do that if the real bug turns up.
But it can take a month or two after vaccination or infection for the most effective antibodies to form. The experimental drugs shortcut that process by giving concentrated versions of specific ones that worked best against the coronavirus in lab and animal tests.
"A vaccine takes time to work, to force the development of antibodies. But when you give an antibody, you get immediate protection," said University of North Carolina virologist Dr. Myron Cohen. "If we can generate them in large concentrations, in big vats in an antibody factory ... we can kind of bypass the immune system."
These drugs are believed to last for a month or more and could give quick, temporary immunity to people at high risk of infection, such as health workers and housemates of someone with COVID-19. If they proved effective and if a vaccine doesn't materialize or protect as hoped, the drugs might eventually be considered for wider use, perhaps for teachers or other groups.
He set out to mobilize Latino voters. Then the virus hit.
GRAHAM, N.C (AP) — Like many Americans, Ricky Hurtado had different plans for his summer.
He formally announced his first bid for public office in March and expected to spend sweltering days knocking on doors, clenching glossy campaign literature and making his case directly to voters. This was the summer he was going prove that a 31-year-old son of Salvadoran immigrants could give Latinos a say — even in North Carolina, even in part of Donald Trump's America.
But this is a story about waiting — and the detours on the path to power.
The novel coronavirus upended the Democrat's campaign for statehouse in an exurban district. Hurtado stopped door-knocking. The closest he came to potential voters was standing 6 feet (1.8 meters) or more away while volunteering at food banks or a virus testing site. And, still, he contracted the virus himself.
Across the U.S., the coronavirus outbreak is disrupting Latinos' long and difficult climb up the political ladder. The disease has disproportionately sickened Latinos, destabilized communities and impeded voter registration ahead of the November presidential election. In North Carolina, only 5,000 Latinos have been added to the voter rolls since mid-March, less than half the number added during the same period four years ago.
Minnesota's Omar holds off well-funded primary challenger
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota survived a stiff Democratic primary challenge Tuesday from a well-funded opponent who tried to make an issue of her national celebrity, the latest in a string of victories by a new generation of emboldened progressive lawmakers.
Omar, seeking her second term in November, easily defeated Antone Melton-Meaux, an attorney and mediator who raised millions in anti-Omar money.
Omar and her allies gained confidence in her reelection chances after primary victories last week by fellow "Squad" member Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and by Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist who ousted a longtime St. Louis-area congressman. They also claimed momentum from the renewed focus on racial and economic justice after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.
"Tonight, our movement didn't just win," Omar tweeted. "We earned a mandate for change. Despite outside efforts to defeat us, we once again broke turnout records. Despite the attacks, our support has only grown."
Melton-Meaux used the cash to paper the district and flood airwaves with his "Focused on the Fifth" message that portrayed Omar as out of touch with the heavily Democratic Minneapolis-area 5th District, which hasn't elected a Republican to Congress since 1960. He conceded defeat and acknowledged that his efforts weren't enough, while declining to speculate on why.
Children in Beirut suffer from trauma after deadly blast
BEIRUT (AP) — When the huge explosion ripped through Beirut last week, it shattered the glass doors near where 3-year-old Abed Itani was playing with his Lego blocks. He suffered a head injury and cuts on his tiny arms and feet, and he was taken to the emergency room, where he sat amid other bleeding people.
In the days since then, Abed has not been the same. Like thousands of others in Lebanon, he is grappling with trauma.
"When I got to the hospital, I found him sitting in a corner in the emergency room, trembling at the sight of badly injured people around him, blood dripping all over the floor," said his mother, Hiba Achi, who was at work when the blast hit on Aug. 4 and had left him in the care of his grandmother.
"He hates red now. He refuses to wear his red shoes," Achi said, adding that Abed insists that she wash them.
The massive explosion of nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate in Beirut's port killed more than 170 people, injured about 6,000 others and caused widespread damage. The U.N. children's agency UNICEF said three children were among the dead and at least 31 were hurt seriously enough to need hospital treatment.
Science and politics tied up in global race for a vaccine
WASHINGTON (AP) — No, Russia is not having a Sputnik moment.
The announcement Tuesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country was the first to approve a coronavirus vaccine did not provoke the awe and wonder of the Soviet Union's launch of the first satellite into orbit in 1957. Instead it was met by doubts about the science and safety.
But it also underscored how, like the space race, the competition to have the first vaccine is about international rivalries as well as science. The first nation to develop a way to defeat the novel coronavirus will achieve a kind of moonshot victory and the global status that goes along with it.
That's valuable to Putin, whose popularity at home has declined amid a stagnant economy and the ravages of the virus outbreak.
"To be the first one out of the block with a coronavirus vaccine would be a real — pardon the pun — shot in the arm for the Kremlin," said Timothy Frye, a political science professor at Columbia University who specializes in post-Soviet politics.
Political novices drawn to anti-Netanyahu protests in Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) — In a summer of protests against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the accusations of corruption and calls for him to resign could be accompanied by another familiar refrain: "I've never done this before."
The boisterous rallies have brought out a new breed of first-time protesters — young, middle-class Israelis who have little history of political activity but feel that Netanyahu's scandal-plagued rule and his handling of the coronavirus crisis have robbed them of their futures. It is a phenomenon that could have deep implications for the country's leaders.
"It's not only about the COVID-19 and the government's handling of the situation," said Shachar Oren, a 25-year-old protester. "It's also about the people that cannot afford to eat and cannot afford to live. I am one of those people."
Oren is among the thousands of people who gather outside Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem several times a week, calling on the longtime leader to resign. The young demonstrators have delivered a boost of momentum to a movement of older, more established protesters who have been saying Netanyahu should step down when he is on trial for corruption charges.
The loose-knit movements have joined forces to portray Netanyahu as an out-of-touch leader, with the country's most bloated government in history and seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax benefits for himself at a time when the coronavirus outbreak is raging and unemployment has soared to over 20%.
Women say they will fight sexism, 'ugly' attacks on Harris
CHICAGO (AP) — In the weeks before Joe Biden named Sen. Kamala Harris his running mate, women's groups were readying a campaign of their own: shutting down sexist coverage and disinformation about a vice presidential nominee they say is headed for months of false smears and "brutal" attacks from internet haters.
The groups put the media on notice in recent days that they will call out bias — one campaign is dubbed "We Have Her Back" — and established a "war room" to refute sexist or false attacks as they happen.
They didn't have to wait long. Within minutes of the presumptive Democratic nominee's announcement Tuesday, false information was circulating on social media, claiming that Harris had called Biden a "racist" and that she is not eligible to be president.
The women's groups say their efforts are informed by the sexism Hillary Clinton faced from Donald Trump, some of his supporters and the media during the 2016 campaign.
"This time we understand the patterns, and this time we have the organizational infrastructure to push back," said Shaunna Thomas, executive director of the women's advocacy group UltraViolet, which released a 32-page guide for media along with a coalition of groups including Color of Change PAC, Planned Parenthood Votes and Women's March.
1000s of Korean laborers still lost after WWII, Cold War end
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Shin Yun-sun describes her life as a maze of dead ends.
The South Korean has spent many of her 75 years pestering government officials, digging into records and searching burial grounds on a desolate Russian island, desperately searching for traces of a father she never met.
Shin wants to bring back the remains of her presumed-dead father for her ailing 92-year-old mother, Baek Bong-rye. Japan's colonial government conscripted Shin's father for forced labor from their farming village in September 1943, when Baek was pregnant with Shin.
As the 75th anniversary of the end of the war nears, the thousands of conscripted Korean men who vanished on Sakhalin Island are a largely forgotten legacy of Japan's brutal rule of the Korean Peninsula, which ended with Tokyo's Aug. 15, 1945, surrender.
Shin vows to never stop searching for her father but fears time is running out.