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Afghanistan conflict: US begins withdrawing troops

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The US has started withdrawing troops from Afghanistan as part of a deal with the Taliban aimed at bringing peace to the country.

The US agreed to reduce its troops from about 12,000 to 8,600 within 135 days of signing the agreement.

Drawing back troops was a condition of the historic peace deal signed by the US and the Taliban on 29 February.

The Afghan government did not take part in the deal, but is expected to hold talks with the Taliban.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani initially said he would not comply with an agreement to release Taliban prisoners as a pre-condition for direct talks with the militant group.

But reports say the president, who was inaugurated for a second term on Monday, will issue a decree for at least 1,000 Taliban prisoners to be released this week.

The peace deal appeared fragile last week after the US launched an air strike in response to Taliban fighters attacking Afghan forces in Helmand province.

The Taliban called for de-escalation and on Monday, Col Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, announced the first phase of the American withdrawal.

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Taliban fighters were celebrating the US deal earlier this week

The US retains “all the military means and authorities to accomplish our objectives” in Afghanistan despite the withdrawal of troops, Col Leggett said in a statement.

The US and its Nato allies have agreed to withdraw all troops within 14 months if the militants uphold the deal.

Under the agreement, the militants have agreed to refrain from attacks as well as not allowing al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control.

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Media captionIs peace with the Taliban possible?

The US invaded Afghanistan weeks after the September 2001 attacks in New York by al-Qaeda, then based in Afghanistan. The Taliban were ousted from power but became an insurgent force that by 2018 was active in more than two-thirds of the country.

More than 2,400 US troops have been killed during the conflict.

As the drawdown of US troops began on Monday, fresh political instability threatened any prospect of talks between all sides in the country.

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Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as president as his rival attended his own ceremony nearby

Two separate swearing-in ceremonies took place on Monday for two different politicians after disputed elections last year.

Afghanistan’s electoral commission says incumbent Mr Ghani narrowly won September’s vote, but Abdullah Abdullah alleges the result is fraudulent.

Experts warned the current political rivalry would “gravely affect the government’s position in the upcoming intra-Afghan talks”, which are due to begin on Tuesday.

The Trump administration said it opposed “action to establish a parallel government” in an apparent show of support for Mr Ghani’s presidency.

“Prioritising an inclusive government and unified Afghanistan is paramount for the future of the country and particularly for the cause of peace,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Monday.

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Viewpoint: What Bernie Sanders has that Joe Biden doesn’t

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Never a favourite among his own generation, Bernie Sanders has raised a movement of young people who are ready for the first major presidential candidate in their lifetimes to call himself a socialist, writes Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University.

Standing in front of the library of the University of Michigan on Sunday, Bernie Sanders could be excused if he paused a moment to reflect on the estimated ten thousands of cheering supporters.

It was 60 years ago at the University of Chicago that Sanders began what he later described as “the major period of intellectual ferment in my life”.

Sanders joined the Young People’s Socialist League and other organisations and organised his first protest. He could only marshal a force of 32 students to occupy the administration building, but he ultimately prevailed. Sanders spent much of his life fighting for big ideas with small crowds.

Now, he has not just the numbers but the movement that he always dreamt of. Indeed, he is the movement. While some might not want socialism, everyone in this crowd desperately wants Sanders.

Watching from the edge of the massive crowd was one person who knew all too well what Sanders may have been thinking as he stood before this university crowd. Alan Haber smiled while holding fliers for Earth Day, wearing a tiny pin that simply read “SDS.”

Read more on Bernie Sanders

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The initials stood for The Students for a Democratic Society, a radical student organisation from the 1960s. Sanders was the national secretary for the SDS while Hader was its first president. Although others grew more moderate or conservative with age, Sanders and Hader continued to organise and agitate and wait for the crowd that might eventually form.

Those crowds got smaller and smaller for decades. Now the crowd was finally here and waiting for the first major presidential candidate in our lifetimes to call himself an unabashed socialist.

Most of Sanders supporters would not be born for decades when he stormed the UChicago administrative building. However, they identified with this 78-year-old radical in a way that Joe Biden can only dream of. Before the rally, I found two students setting up the stage hours before Sanders would emerge.

Arden Shapiro and Hazel Gordon are precisely why the Democratic establishment is so worried about this movement – and so seemingly incapable of tapping into its energy. While they would vote for Biden if forced to in an election against Trump, they see Sanders as the only true and clear voice in the race.

Arden said that she was “really angry” about the level of corporate control in our system perpetrated by both parties. A trans woman, Hazel said that she saw Sanders as the only person truly fighting to help people secure medical insurance, particularly mental health coverage.

Hazel said that she viewed Biden as taking the side of corporations and did not support anything she believed in. Arden would later help introduce Sanders at the rally and called on her fellow students to bring five friends to the polling places to secure a win in Michigan over the establishment.

Others were even more direct. There were the guys distributing “Eat the Rich” T-shirts. Another supporter carried a sign reading “Make Racists Afraid Again”. Those images unnerve many traditional Democratic voters who see this movement as potentially careening out of control.

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Media captionA family split over Bernie Sanders

Sanders has never done particularly well with people of his own age. Many of those who once joined his causes in the 1960s are now worried about their 401k accounts and social security payments. Sanders had to wait for a new generation and they are here in droves. The problem for the Democratic party is that they are including leaders like Biden in their fight against the “establishment”.

Indeed Sanders drove home that point in his speech where he denounced Biden and his “billionaire backers” for trying to kill this movement. The only reference in the speech that drew greater boos than Biden was a reference to ICE raids.

For them, the future lies with Bernie and younger voices like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who electrified the crowd. Whatever happens Tuesday, Sanders has found his audience and they are not going away. Sanders has shaped a rising generation that does not recoil from the term “socialism” and believes, as he did, that compromise only invites betrayal.

Every establishment figure now appears lined up against Sanders and over a dozen people told me that the concerted effort has only angered them more with the Democratic party. While half insisted that they would reluctantly vote for Biden if needed, half were not sure or outright refused to support Biden.

In other words, many are likely to stay at home. They are ready to storm the White House, the ultimate administrative building,for Bernie but not willing to walk into a polling place for Biden.

One former Michigan graduate wearing a homemade “Socialist Butterfly” jacket with Bernie’s picture on it said that she became a socialist after listening to Sanders in 2016. She is back again in 2020 with the same commitment. She still “feels the Bern” but feels nothing for Biden.

The Democratic establishment is hoping that the hatred for Trump will fill that void, but the coordinated effort against Sanders is only reaffirming the view that it is the establishment writ large that is the problem.

Jonathan Turley gives legal analysis for the BBC and is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. He was called as a Republican witness to testify at the Trump impeachment hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.

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Harry and Meghan attend final working royals engagement

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined other senior royals at Westminster Abbey

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made their last public appearance as working members of the Royal Family.

Prince Harry and Meghan joined the Queen and other senior royals at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on Monday afternoon.

The couple have been carrying out a series of public appearances in the UK before stepping back as working royals.

From 31 March, they will stop using their HRH titles and receiving public money.

The duke and duchess joined the Queen – who is head of the Commonwealth – the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the central London church.

Last-minute changes meant the Cambridges and the Sussexes were led straight to their seats – rather than waiting for the Queen and taking part in the procession as they did in 2019.

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Yui Mok/PA Wire

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The couple held hands as they left the service

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The Queen praised the diversity of the family of nations in her Commonwealth Day message

Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace have not said why the late amendment was made.

It was the first time Sussexes have appeared with other members of the Royal Family since announcing their intention to “step back” as senior royals in January.

The service included Rwandan dancing and drumming as well as songs from Craig David and Alexandra Burke, hymns, and a reading from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Prince Harry bumped forearms with singer Craig David when they met at the end of the service – while Meghan opted to hug him.

Members of the congregation had been advised not to shake hands in greeting, to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, a spokeswoman for Westminster Abbey said.

Harry’s brother, the Duke of Cambridge, said that it felt “very odd not shaking hands” as he arrived at the event.

But when Prince William chatted to heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua, who gave a reflection during the service, the royal avoided shaking his hand and said: “I feel you’d crush mine.”

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Prince Harry and Craig David stuck to Westminster Abbey’s advice and avoided shaking hands

As the Sussexes left the abbey, the duchess crouched down to chat to children who were handing out flowers.

The duke waved to some of those gathered inside the abbey gates, and the couple held hands as they walked towards their car.

After the service, the Sussexes are expected to return to their current base in Canada, where their son, Archie, has remained during the UK trip.

It is where the couple are to begin their new life of personal independence, pursuing private commercial deals and charity projects.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived shortly after the Sussexes

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Harry and Meghan were greeted with a standing ovation at the Mountbatten Festival of Music in London at the weekend

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The couple posted a New Year’s message on Instagram, accompanied by a photograph of Harry holding their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds attended the service

Prince Harry and Meghan will retain use of Frogmore Cottage, in Windsor, and aides have said they will be in the UK regularly.

They will still attend some royal events but these will not be classed as official duties.

The new arrangements will be reviewed next year.

The duke and duchess have conducted a farewell tour of the UK with several appearances including the Endeavour Fund Awards and a military musical festival at the Royal Albert Hall.

At the scene

Daniela Relph, royal correspondent at Westminster Abbey

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The Queen was sitting next to Prince Charles and Camilla, in front of the Sussexes

This wasn’t going to be a quiet goodbye or an easing out of the limelight.

The final days of public events for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been picture perfect.

Their final engagement at Westminster Abbey showcased everything Harry and Meghan are now leaving behind – ceremony, pomp, formality and just a bit of royal hierarchy.

The Sussexes sat behind the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Was there a tension or any sign of family frostiness? It was impossible to tell.

But this can’t have been an easy afternoon for those involved.

The Queen has made it clear the departure of the Sussexes was not the outcome she wanted.

Prince Charles will now see far less of his son, his daughter-in-law and his newest grandchild.

Harry and Meghan, who many felt brought a new energy to the Royal Family, are now off.

Less than two years after she arrived, Meghan is walking away from royal life. And the man she married, who was born into that life, is going with her.

Meghan made a surprise visit to a school in Dagenham, east London, to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Meanwhile, the duke joined Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton to visit a new motor racing museum at the Silverstone Circuit.

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The Queen, as head of state, was the final member of the congregation to arrive

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Alexandra Burke sang Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua gave a reflection

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Media caption“OMG, that’s Meghan” – duchess surprises students on visit to mark International Women’s Day

The couple have made supporting the Commonwealth a priority for their royal duties and overseas visits.

In stepping down as working royals, the duke will relinquish his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.

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The service began with a presentation of “intore” – a dance with drums performed at Rwandan celebrations

But Harry will remain president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and Meghan will still be the Trust’s vice-president.

In her Commonwealth Day message, the Queen has praised the diversity of the family of nations whose blend of traditions “serves to make us stronger”.

Dr Linda Yueh, chair of the Royal Commonwealth Society, said “contributing from far away” was a key theme of the service.

“That’s probably the hope, that even as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have stepped down from formal duties they’ll still be contributing in a less formal capacity to the Commonwealth in the years to come,” she added.

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Last-minute changes meant neither the Sussexes or Cambridges joined the Queen in the procession, as they did in last year’s service (pictured), but instead went straight to their seats

Heavyweight boxing champion and Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua delivered a reflection at the service, while singers Alexandra Burke and Craig David performed.

The Duke of York was absent from this year’s service, having resigned from royal duties following criticism of his BBC Newsnight interview over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

A special broadcast of the Commonwealth Day service will be available on iPlayer.

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Highland dancers and musicians performed outside Westminster Abbey before the service began

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Coronavirus: Cruise ship Grand Princess to dock in California

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The Grand Princess has 21 cases of coronavirus on board

Authorities in the US state of California are preparing to disembark passengers aboard a virus-hit cruise liner held off San Francisco.

Nineteen crew members and two passengers on the Grand Princess have tested positive for Covid-19.

The vessel, which is carrying about 3,500 people from 54 countries, is due to dock in Oakland on Monday after five days stuck offshore.

The US has reported more than 560 coronavirus cases and 24 deaths.

Cases of the virus have been recorded in 34 states plus Washington DC.

The number of infections worldwide is more than 109,000, with about 3,800 deaths.

Italy now has the highest number of confirmed infections outside China, where the outbreak originated in December. It has confirmed 7,375 cases and overtaken South Korea, where the total number is 7,313.

Some 16 million people – a quarter of Italy’s population – are under strict quarantine measures.

The Grand Princess cruise ship came to the attention of authorities when a previous voyager on the vessel died last week after being stricken by the coronavirus.

The 71-year-old, who had an underlying health condition, had been on a round trip from San Francisco to Mexico in February.

The operation to move passengers from the Grand Princess will be a “two-three day process”, Governor Gavin Newsom told a news conference on Sunday.

Passengers requiring urgent medical care will first be taken to hospital. Then US residents not needing treatment will be moved to military bases in California, Texas and Georgia for a 14-day isolation period.

Several hundred foreign passengers, including 140 Britons, will be repatriated to their home countries. The UK Foreign Office said it was “working intensively” with US authorities on arranging a flight for British nationals.

The crew members will remain quarantined on board the ship, which will depart from Oakland as soon as the passengers have disembarked, officials said.

“No one will be quarantined in Oakland, or released to our community,” Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf told a news conference.

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The ship is operated by Princess Cruises, which also owns the Diamond Princess, which was placed into quarantine in Japan last month.

Several other Princess Cruises have been blocked, with the Regal Princess held off the coast of Florida until coronavirus testing is completed.

Another cruise ship, the Costa Fortuna, with around 2,000 aboard, was turned away by Malaysia and Thailand, an official said.

Coronavirus hits US capital

The virus’ spread has also reached Washington DC, affecting lawmakers and locals – and putting President Donald Trump only two degrees of separation away from the outbreak.

The first confirmed case of Covid-19 in the capital is a church rector in his 50s. DC officials on Monday urged the several hundred members of Christ Church Georgetown to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days.

The second DC case is a man currently in hospital in Maryland who had stayed in the capital for a night before being diagnosed.

Two Republican lawmakers – Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar – are also self-quarantining after shaking hands with an infected individual at a conservative political conference at the end of last month.

Mr Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence also attended the event. While neither directly interacted with the individual, Mr Trump did shake hands with the conference chairman who had had contact with the patient.

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US trading halted as shares plunge around the world

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Trading in US shares was briefly suspended after sharp falls led to an automatic halt in the selling and buying of stocks.

Once trading resumed, the three major US stock indexes were down over 6%.

The move follows dramatic falls globally with shares facing the worst day since the 2008 financial crisis.

A row between Russia and Saudi Arabia saw oil prices plunge by 20%, hitting markets already reeling from fears of the impact of the coronavirus.

The day has been dubbed “Black Monday” by analysts who described the market reaction as “utter carnage”.

Trading on the top three indexes in the US were halted for 15 minutes. When trading resumed 15 minutes later, shares continued to fall, before appearing to stabilise.

This is the first time the so-called circuit breaker has been triggered since December 2008.

The oil price fell nearly 30% to $31.14 on Monday, its biggest single-day fall since the start of the first Gulf war in 1991, before recovering slightly to trade 20% lower.

“It shows a level of nervousness in the market which I haven’t seen in a long time,” said Justin Urquhart-Stewart, co-founder of Seven Investment Management.

Investors are selling stocks at such a rate because they cannot quantify what Saudi Arabia and Russia might do, he said.

The UK falls came after stock markets around the world saw dramatic falls. In Europe, the main stock market indexes in France, Germany and Spain were all trading over 7% lower. Norway – a major oil exporter – saw its main stock exchange fall over 12%.

Among the fallers:

  • Oil firms saw the biggest falls, with shares in Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP down by about 15%, while Premier Oil saw its shares more than halve in value
  • Miners also saw steep declines, with De Beers owner Anglo American and BHP Group all down more than 10%
  • In Frankfurt, Deutsche Bank led the declines, falling 12%, followed by Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler, down 10%
  • Similarly in Paris, banks such as Crédit Agricole and Société Générale fell 10%
  • The Russian rouble fell over 8%, on track for its worst one-day drop since December 2014

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Among the winners:

  • Gold hit a seven-year high, trading at $1,700 per ounce
  • In a historic moment, the yields on benchmark gilts for two-, three-, four-, six- and seven-year maturities turned negative when the market opened, but have since turned positive again. This means investors will lose money from holding the bond.

Earlier on Monday, Asian stock markets had also fallen sharply, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index down 5% while Australia’s ASX 200 slumped 7.3% – its biggest daily drop since 2008.

In China, the benchmark Shanghai Composite fell 3%, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index sank 4.2%.

As well as the slump in the oil price, Asian investors also reacted to a steep fall in Chinese exports, and figures showing the Japanese economy shrinking at a faster pace than expected.

Why should I care if stock markets fall?

Many people’s initial reaction to “the markets” is that they are not directly affected, because they do not invest money.

Yet there are millions of people with a pension – either private or through work – who will see their savings (in what is known as a defined contribution pension) invested by pension schemes. The value of their savings pot is influenced by the performance of these investments.

Pension savers mostly let experts choose where to invest this money to help it grow. Widespread falls in share prices are likely to be bad news for pension savers.

As much as £600bn is held in defined contribution pensions at the moment.

So big rises or falls can affect your pension, but the advice is to remember that pension savings, like any investments, are usually a long-term bet.

Read more here.

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‘Political poker’

The price of oil had already fallen sharply this year as the coronavirus disease began to spread internationally, with demand for fuel expected to decline.

Last week, oil exporters’ group Opec – which includes Saudi Arabia – agreed to cut production in order to support prices.

However, it also wanted non-Opec oil producers such as Russia to agree to cuts, and on Friday Russia rejected the plans.

In response, Saudi Arabia has cut its official selling prices for oil and plans to increase production. The move is seen as Saudi Arabia flexing its muscles in the oil market to make Russia fall into line.

Michelle Wiese Bockmann, commodities analyst and editor for Lloyd’s List, said that the oil market has changed over the past few years and Saudi Arabia is scrambling to maintain its position in the market.

While cuts in production from Venezuela, Iran and Libya should have sent prices up, the US and its massive reserves of shale oil have stepped in at every turn, depressing prices.

“It’s already a very volatile situation,” she said.

Mr Urquhart-Stewart said the market has “gone from an issue over economic demand into more of a political game of poker”.

Given that Saudi Arabia has some of the lowest costs of production, they can send prices down a long way before having to relent, he added.


by Andrew Walker, World Service Economics Correspondent

The price of crude oil is about half the level it hit in early January.

The root cause of that is the coronavirus. It has hit demand for oil and some of the big exporters have been trying to stabilise its price.

Last week a group of them discussed production cuts.

But the biggest producer among them, Russia refused and the oil price fell further.

Then at the weekend, Saudi Arabia, the biggest of the producers that were pressing Russia to agree output cuts, announced it would increase supplies and offered discounts to its buyers. That sent the oil price into freefall.

That in turn undermined stock markets, although it wasn’t the only factor. The lower oil price is a problem for the credit markets.

Many American shale producers are likely to be unviable and they have borrowed in the high risk debt market, issuing what are called junk bonds. So there is the potential for losses for investors who hold those bonds.

Cheaper oil is obviously a benefit for users. Airlines have been hit by a decline in bookings, but cheaper fuel will offset that a little. And in time, there will be an impact on the price that motorists pay, although in many countries, including Britain, tax accounts for most of what they pay.

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Cory Booker: Joe Biden picks up endorsement from former rival

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Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden has picked up another prize endorsement from a former rival, Cory Booker.

The New Jersey senator tweeted: “The answer to hatred & division is to reignite our spirit of common purpose.”

He added that Mr Biden “won’t only win – he’ll show there’s more that unites us than divides us”.

Mr Biden and Bernie Sanders are vying to be the Democratic nominee who will face Donald Trump in November.

Ms Harris, who was the only black woman in the Democratic field before she ended her campaign in December, endorsed Mr Biden on Sunday.

The California senator’s thumbs-up has ignited speculation about whether Mr Biden might select her as a running mate if he wins the Democratic presidential nomination.

Both Ms Harris and Mr Booker, who is also African American, are expected to appear alongside Mr Biden at a rally in Detroit, Michigan, on Monday night.

Mr Booker will also reportedly campaign with Mr Biden in Flint, Michigan, earlier in the day.

In an email, Mr Booker – who dropped out of the race in January – said: “Joe is building the kind of campaign that will do more than remove one guy from one office.

“He will lead the Democratic Party to victory in races up and down the ballot across the country this November.”

A week ago, three other former Biden rivals – Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Pete Buttigieg, a former mayor from Indiana, and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke – all endorsed the now Democratic frontrunner.

Despite Mr Booker’s fulsome endorsement for Mr Biden, he has not always been so supportive.

After a live TV debate in September, the New Jersey senator seemed to express doubts about the 77-year-old former vice-president’s mental acuity.

Mr Booker said: “There were a lot of moments where a number of us on stage were looking at he each other, where [Biden] tends to go on sometimes.

He added: “There are definitely moments where you listen to Joe Biden and just wonder.”

While opinion polls have raised questions about Mr Sanders’ ability to connect with black voters, the Vermont senator picked up a coveted endorsement on Sunday from civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.

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Twitter labels edited Biden video ‘manipulated tweet’

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The video of Mr Biden has been viewed several million times

Twitter has used its new “manipulated media” tag for the first time on an edited video of a speech by Joe Biden.

The tag, introduced on 5 March, tells readers when a picture or video has been “significantly altered or fabricated”.

The footage of Mr Biden, which was posted by Dan Scavino, White House director of social media, claimed to show the democratic candidate calling for people to vote for President Trump.

The video was shared by Mr Trump twice.

The clip appeared to show Mr Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, telling a crowd in Kansas City: “We can only re-elect Donald Trump.”

However, it had been edited to remove key parts of the sentence.

Mr Biden actually said: “We can only re-elect Donald Trump if in fact we get engaged in this circular firing squad here. It’s got to be a positive campaign.”

Mr Scavino shared the video in a tweet on Saturday. The president then re-tweeted it, telling his followers: “I agree with Joe!”

The video was also shared on Facebook – which did not flag it as false content.

Did the Twitter warning work?

Twitter’s manipulated media policy covers content that is “likely to impact public safety or cause serious harm” including things that have been heavily edited. Under the policy, Twitter may remove a tweet, reduce its visibility, or label it as doctored.

However, the social media giant has been criticised for taking at least 18 hours to place a manipulated tweet tag on Mr Scavino’s post.

In that time, over five million people had viewed the video on the site alone.

The tag also failed to appear when people searched for the tweet. Twitter’s spokeswoman Katie Rosborough told the Washington Post that the tag was appearing in individuals’ timelines and the company was working on a fix.

Mr Scavino has defended the video, claiming it was not manipulated. He has also shared tweets defending him that allege the video was “clipped, not edited” and “simply shortened”.

Greg Schultz, Joe Biden’s campaign manager, called Facebook’s lack of action in handling manipulated footage a “national crisis” in a statement to CNN.

What are the new rules?

Twitter uses these factors to consider whether a tweet should be labelled or removed:

  • Has the content been edited in a manner that alters its composition, sequence, timing or framing
  • Has any visual or auditory information been added or removed
  • Has media depicting a real person been fabricated or simulated
  • Is the media being shared in a deceptive manner
  • Is it likely to impact public safety or cause serious harm

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Coronavirus: Trapped in a virus-struck care home.

A care home near Seattle is at the centre of America’s coronavirus outbreak, with more than a dozen deaths, and residents confined to their rooms.

Susan Hailey, 76, was in the Life Care Center to prepare for surgery, but is now quarantined in her room after experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

Susan is still waiting for test results to see if she has Covid-19.

Her daughters told the BBC’s Chris Buckler they feel helpless, and have only been able to see their mother through a window.

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Kamala Harris endorses Joe Biden as Democratic presidential candidate

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Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris after a debate in September 2019

California Senator Kamala Harris has endorsed Joe Biden with “great enthusiasm” as the Democratic party’s US presidential candidate.

“Biden has served our country with dignity and we need him now more than ever,” she said in a Twitter post.

Her announcement is another boost for Mr Biden, the Democratic front runner to take on Donald Trump in November.

Ms Harris, seen as a rising star within the party, dropped out of the presidential race in December.

Support for Mr Biden surged in the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries last week, with the 77-year-old winning 10 of the 14 states that voted.

The list of possible candidates who might realistically win the nomination then narrowed to become a contest between centrist Mr Biden and the left-wing Senator Bernie Sanders.

Throwing her support behind Mr Biden on Sunday, Ms Harris, 55, said in a recorded message on Twitter: “I really believe in him and I have known him for a long time.”

“We need a leader who really does care about the people, and can therefore unify the people,” the senator added.

Mr Biden later thanked Ms Harris for her support. “Kamala – You’ve spent your whole career fighting for folks who’ve been written off and left behind… from our family: thank you,” he tweeted.

The two have, however, previously clashed during the presidential debates.

Last June, Ms Harris attacked Mr Biden over his previous opposition to a policy combating segregation in schools.

Ms Harris – the only black woman in the Democratic field – pilloried Mr Biden for having recently reminisced about working with two Democratic senators who favoured racial segregation.

She said at the time that she did not believe he was a racist, but added: “It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”

Mr Biden’s wife, Jill, said the senator’s comments were “the biggest surprise” of the campaign, adding: “The one thing you cannot say about Joe is that he’s a racist… I mean, he got into politics because of his commitment to civil rights.”

Ms Harris, a fierce critic of Mr Trump, said she would be campaigning with Mr Biden in Detroit on Monday.

Separately, US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson on Sunday endorsed Mr Sanders, saying the Vermont senator’s progressive social and economic policies would give black Americans “the best chance to catch up”.

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