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The vice-presidential debate was more courteous than last week’s horror show but still showed two contrasting faces of America

It was always going to be about the two faces of America.

One: white, male, midwestern, evangelical Christian. The other: Black, female, coastal, progressive.

What wasn’t so predictable about the face-to-face at Wednesday’s US vice-presidential debate was that Mike Pence would show up with bloodshot eye – never a good look during a pandemic – or that a fly would nestle in his snowy white hair.

Pence-Harris vice-presidential debate: five key takeawaysRead more

Equally striking was Kamala Harris’s ability to weaponise facial expressions. The California senator’s fusillade of raised eyebrows, pursed lips and withering stares at her opponent will live in Democrats’ memory long after the words are forgotten (and probably be viewed by Republicans as sneering elitism).

It was also notable that both candidates did a better job than their bosses in last week’s debate apocalypse. Both were adept at sidestepping questions – such as whether they had discussed “the issue of presidential disability” with their septuagenarian running mates – in favour of talking points. At times, it almost felt like a brief holiday in political normality:

In non-Trump, Pence or Harris news:

In a sign that restrictions are loosening in Asia, Yomiuri newspaper has reported that Japan plans to lift travel bans on people going to China and 11 other countries, including Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia, next month. Japan has banned travel to 159 countries and regions.

According to Chinese health officials, new Covid-19 cases remain low despite millions of people traveling across the country for an eight-day public holiday that began last week. On Thursday China reported 11 new cases, which were all imported infections.

In Hong Kong where authorities have kept restrictions on gatherings in place, bans that observers say are an excuse to bar protests, local media have reported that leading pandemic specialist, Keji Fukada, has been pushed out of his posting at Hong Kong University. Surprised observers and public health experts have warned that the firing of Fukada, one of a group of leading government advisers, will be harmful to Hong Kong’s Covid response efforts. Hong Kong University said in a statement on Wednesday night that it would not comment on individual cases.

His firing comes as several university professors in disparate fields have been let go, including law professor and prominent pro-democracy activist Benny Tai. Fukada was director of the university’s School of Public Health when Yan Limeng, a former postdoctoral fellow at the university fled to the US and gave interviews to US media claiming that the university failed to act on findings that Chinese authorities were aware of human-to-human transmission of the virus in late December, well before they warned the public about the contagion.

As expected, the first question was about coronavirus in a debate dominated by the pandemic. Pence’s staff had insisted the vice-president has tested negative for Covid-19, but the two Plexiglass barriers placed between Harris and Pence served as a constant reminder of the crisis.

Harris kept her point simple. She focused on the numbers dead, and the millions of people affected.

“Here are the facts: 210,000 dead people in our country in just the last seven months. Over 7 million who have contracted this disease,” Harris said.

“We’re looking at over 30 million people who in the last seven months had to file for unemployment.”

Harris pointed out, more than once, that Trump and Pence had known about the severity of coronavirus in January, and that Trump had sought to downplay the virus:

The vice-presidential debate on Wednesday was less openly hostile than the Donald Trump-Joe Biden debacle last week – but provided a further insight into the state of both campaigns ahead of November.

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence clash over coronavirus response in vice-presidential debateRead more

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence met in Utah for the only vice-presidential debate of the election, separated by Plexiglass barriers as a protection against coronavirus, and seeking to advance their boss’s cases.

As Biden continues to lead Trump in the polls, the pressure was particularly on for Pence to defend the administration’s record, just days after the president tested positive for Covid-19.

From the pandemic to healthcare to the supreme court to a fly, here are the key moments:

Read the original article at The Guardian

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