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Good morning. Joe Biden chose Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. Russia announced it had approved a vaccine, despite not having completed testing. And two major conferences canceled their college football seasons.
Joe Biden selected Senator Kamala Harris of California as his running mate on Tuesday. She is the first Black woman, and the first person of Indian descent, to be nominated for national office by a major party.
In Monday’s newsletter, we looked at some of the factors weighing on Biden’s decision. Today we turned to our colleague Alex Burns, who covered the announcement, to explain why Biden decided on Harris.
1. Broad appeal. Harris, long viewed as a rising Democratic star and an embodiment of the party’s diversity, was a relatively safe pick. She falls comfortably within the mainstream, but her embrace of a more left-leaning agenda as a presidential candidate last year meant that “liberals never mobilized against her during the V.P. search,” Alex told us.
2. Governing chops. Harris’s experience and pragmatism sync with Biden’s political style. Her ideological flexibility also matches his recent openness to more left-leaning economic and racial-justice policies amid the pandemic and protests over police violence.
3. Political panache. Harris sharply criticized Biden during a primary debate last year over his opposition to busing as a means of integrating public schools, an attack that left some advisers wary of putting her on the ticket. Picking Harris suggests a recognition that her more energetic style could prove an asset.
Still, some wariness persists. Some in the Biden campaign privately worry that moderate and center-right white voters will balk at Harris — “especially given how freely President Trump attacks his opponents on the basis of race and gender,” Alex says. “After 2016, there’s just a different degree of concern about the way racism can shape close elections.”
But if Trump loses, the decision could also shape the Democratic Party for years to come. A President Biden who chooses not to seek a second term could leave Harris the de facto party leader — and a front-runner to become the first female president.
The two are expected to appear together in Wilmington, Del., today.
More on Harris:
Our politics team has much more coverage of the pick, including: where Harris stands on the issues, a look back at her political history and how she came to be fluent in both activist and establishment circles.
“The significance of this decision and its meaning for Black women, the most loyal members of the Democratic Party, cannot be overstated,” Chryl Laird, a Bowdoin College political scientist, writes in a Times Op-Ed.
“Biden seriously considered others but returned to Harris as the ‘do no harm’ candidate, unlikely to thrill or outrage many,” David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s former senior adviser, writes for CNN.
THREE MORE BIG STORIES
1. Russia’s risky vaccine plan
On Tuesday, Russia became the first country to announce it had approved a coronavirus vaccine. But with no evidence from large-scale clinical trials or published data from earlier trials, the claim received international skepticism.
Vaccines must clear a high bar of safety standards, and they generally go through three stages of human testing before approval. In Phase 3, the vaccine is given to large groups of people and tested against a placebo to ensure that it works and to help identify harmful side effects.
Though the Russian vaccine has not yet entered Phase 3, the minister of health said that the country would begin vaccinating teachers and medical workers this month, followed by a mass vaccination campaign in the fall.
“That’s like taking a plane up in the sky, claiming that it works, when you’ve never actually taken a test flight,” Carl Zimmer, who wrote about the response from the scientific community, told us. “Maybe it will work, or maybe you’ll crash into the ground.”
2. Inside a Houston hospital
Houston Methodist, the city’s largest hospital, opened one intensive care unit after another as the coronavirus swept through Texas last month. Veteran staff members said they had never seen so much severe illness and death all at once.
In one unit, patients and their families allowed Times journalists to observe as doctors worked to save their lives. Here are their stories.
In other virus developments:
A team of scientists confirmed what many experts have long suspected: Tiny droplets that float in the air can contain live, infectious coronavirus.
A Georgia school district returned to the classroom last week. Already, more than 900 students and faculty members have been ordered into quarantine.
3. Are racial attitudes really changing?
Though a national protest movement against racial injustice continues in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, many community activists are skeptical that they will see tangible changes for Black Americans.
Our colleague Astead Herndon, a politics reporter, tells the story through Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood, a community on the South Side “famous for molding a young Barack Obama and infamous for its current blight,” he writes.
The area, which continues to vote for Democrats in overwhelming numbers, has long been ignored by city officials. “Fifty thousand people live in Roseland, and we don’t have one dry cleaners or one grocery store,” said one local activist. “Basic human needs are not being met here.”
In related news:
This week’s unrest in Chicago was set off after police officers shot and wounded a man in Englewood, another South Side community. The police have said the man shot at them first, but The Chicago Tribune reports that the lack of a body camera on the officer has left them unable to back up the claim with video so far.
The Black Lives Matter movement in Australia has offered a rare moment for the descendants of South Pacific plantation laborers to make their family histories known.
Here’s what else is happening
The Big Ten and the Pac-12, two major college sports conferences whose schools include Ohio State, Penn State and Oregon, have called off their football seasons for the fall.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a firm believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory who has made racist and anti-Semitic remarks on camera, won her Republican primary runoff for a congressional seat in Georgia. In Minnesota, Representative Ilhan Omar fended off a well-funded primary challenger. Here are the full results from yesterday’s elections.
Françoise Brougher, the former chief operating officer of Pinterest, alleged in a lawsuit that she was fired from the $21 billion company for complaining about sexist treatment.
The State Department inspector general said the agency had failed to take proper measures to reduce civilian deaths in Yemen from American-made bombs used by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The social media platform TikTok tracked user data using a tactic banned by Google, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Lives Lived: The singer and guitarist Trini Lopez punctuated many of his songs with joyous hoots and trills drawn from Mexican folk music, emphasizing his heritage at a time when many Latin performers kept theirs hidden. “I’m proud to be a Mexicano,” he said. He died of Covid-19 at 83.
IDEA OF THE DAY: How to rebuild the middle class
The American middle class is in decline, hollowed out by decades of slow growth, stagnant incomes and two recessions in 10 years. But Jim Tankersley, an economics correspondent for The Times, is optimistic about the future of the middle class.
In a new book, Jim argues that the removal of discriminatory barriers preventing women, minority groups and immigrants from entering the work force helped lift wages, spur innovation and create shared prosperity after World War II.
The reversal of some of those gains since the 1980s — and the rise of new barriers like mass incarceration — have contributed to middle-class decline, he says. Making the economy more open to more Americans could help rebuild it.
So where to start? More accessible child care is one idea. Greater investment in nonwhite entrepreneurship could also foster innovation in the health care or energy industries.
But “the simplest and most daunting answer is that there isn’t a five-point plan to set off another middle-class boom,” Jim told us. “What we really need is a determined national commitment to ending discrimination and liberating all Americans to put their full talents to use.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, TACO
Make some tacos
In the Mexican state of Sonora, a carne asada is so much more than grilled meat. It’s a weekly ritual bringing together friends and family, writes the chef and TV personality Pati Jinich. The dish also combines the pillars of the state’s economy: Beef from the cattle that roam the region’s ranches and pillow-soft tortillas from the wheat that sprouts in its fields. Try Pati’s recipe for carne asada lorenza, a crunchy open taco slathered with refried beans and melted cheese.
Listen to some sports
Just because you can’t attend games in person doesn’t mean your summer has to be athlete-free. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or allergic to sports, this list of sporty podcasts will help fill the entertainment void.
Among the picks: “Sideline Tackle” dives into moments in soccer history and clocks in at less than 15 minutes per episode. And “Tea With A & Phee” reveals what life’s like inside “the bubble,” the campus in Florida where all W.N.B.A. players are living, through the eyes of two of the league’s players.
A thought-provoking read
Admiration, sex, a home where someone else takes care of the children and housekeeping: These are among the things that the philosopher Kate Manne says men have been conditioned to feel they automatically deserve.
Her new book, “Entitled,” explores how an “illegitimate sense of male entitlement gives rise to a wide range of misogynistic behavior,” Manne writes. In a review, The Times’s nonfiction critic Jennifer Szalai writes that Manne is “like a pathologist wielding a scalpel, methodically dissecting various specimens of muddled argument to reveal the diseased tissue inside.”
Jason Farago, a Times art critic, leads a guided tour through his favorite woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai, the most famous Japanese artist of the 19th century.
The late-night comedy hosts discussed the selection of Kamala Harris (which could mean more work for Maya Rudolph on “Saturday Night Live”).
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Old MacDonald” refrain (five letters).
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow.
P.S. Reporters and editors from The Times’s politics team will host a virtual conversation about the selection of Kamala Harris, and what it means for the Biden campaign and the election. R.S.V.P. here for the event, which starts at 6 p.m. Eastern.
David Leonhardt, this newsletter’s usual writer, is on break until Monday, Aug. 24.
You can see today’s print front page here.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the Biden-Harris ticket.
Jonathan Wolfe contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.