Democrat Kamala Harris ends 2020 White House bid

Kamala Harris, 55, was the only African-American woman seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. (Reuters)
Updated 03 December 2019

Democrat Kamala Harris ends 2020 White House bid

  • Harris was bumped to sixth spot out of 16 candidates after billionaire former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg recently threw his hat in the ring
  • She also challenged Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden head on in the party’s first presidential debate, a move that proved a strategic mistake

WASHINGTON: Democrat Kamala Harris announced Tuesday she is ending her 2020 White House bid following a period of campaign turmoil and disappointing fundraising that saw her fail to break out of a crowded field.
“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” the senator from California told supporters in an email.
“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”
Harris, 55, was the only African-American woman seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
She rocketed toward the top of the field with a promising campaign launch in January, but saw her prospects slide in recent months as she struggled to define her positions on various domestic issues including health care.
Harris is one of the biggest names to date to drop out of the race, along with former congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas and New York mayor Bill de Blasio.
After stagnating in fifth place in the polls, with about 3.4 percent support, she was bumped to sixth spot out of 16 candidates after billionaire former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg recently threw his hat in the presidential contest.
“I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign,” she wrote to supporters. “As the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.”
It was a biting and unveiled swat at some of her rivals, including Bloomberg and billionaire activist Tom Steyer, and a telling revelation about the piles of cash a candidate needs to mount a viable campaign in today’s overheated political environment.
Harris has been one the fiercest critics of Donald Trump among the 2020 candidates, directly attacking the embattled president and repeatedly calling for his impeachment.
She also challenged Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden head on in the party’s first presidential debate, a move that proved a strategic mistake as her support slid while Biden’s largely held steady.
Harris quickly received accolades from other candidates on Twitter after her premature exit from the race.
“Her campaign broke barriers and did it with joy. Love you, sister,” said fellow Senator Cory Booker, the other black candidate in the 2020 race.
Harris was the third candidate to drop out in recent days, along with low-polling Democrats Montana Governor Steve Bullock and former congressman Joe Sestak.


World Bank: Indonesia forest fires cost $5.2bn in economic losses

Updated 11 December 2019

World Bank: Indonesia forest fires cost $5.2bn in economic losses

  • Economic losses equal to 0.5 percent of Indonesia’s gross domestic product
  • Drifting smoke at the height of the dry season in September triggered a diplomatic spat between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur

JAKARTA: The total damage and economic loss from forest fires in Indonesia this year amounted to at least $5.2 billion, equal to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, the World Bank said in a report on Wednesday.
The estimate was based on its assessment in eight affected provinces from June to October 2019, though analysts at the multinational bank said fires had continued to rage through to November.
“The forest and land fires, as well as the resulting haze, led to significant negative economic impacts, estimated at $157 million in direct damage to assets and $5.0 billion in losses from affected economic activities,” the World Bank wrote in the report.
Over 900,000 people reported respiratory illnesses, 12 national airports halted operations, and hundreds of schools in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore had to temporarily close due to the fires.
Drifting smoke at the height of the dry season in September triggered a diplomatic spat between Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
More than 942,000 hectares (2.3 million acres) of forests and lands were burned this year, the biggest since devastating fires in 2015 when Indonesia saw 2.6 million hectares burned, according to official figures. Officials said the spike was due to El Nino weather patterns lengthening the dry season.
The World Bank also estimated a 0.09 and 0.05 percentage points reduction in Indonesia’s economic growth in 2019 and 2020, respectively, due to the fires. Its growth forecast for Indonesia is 5 percent for 2019 and 5.1 percent for 2020.
The blazes were “manmade and have become a chronic problem annually since 1997” because fire is considered the cheapest method to prepare land for cultivation, the bank said.
Because about 44 percent of the areas burned in 2019 were in peatlands, carbon emissions from Indonesia’s fires were estimated to be almost double the emissions from the fires in the Brazilian Amazon this year.
The European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecast estimated a total of 720 megatons of CO2 emissions came from Indonesian forest fires in January-November this year.
Longer-term effects of repeated fires were not included in this estimate, the World Bank said. Repeated haze exposure would reduce health and education quality and damage the global image of palm oil — an important commodity for Indonesia.