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Sports UK

Arsenal get welcome injury boost ahead of crucial Premier League fixtures

Thomas Partey trained with his Arsenal teammates on Monday as the Gunners were dealt another piece of good news off the back of beating Chelsea.

Mikel Arteta saw his side see off their London rivals 3-1 on Boxing Day as they rose to 14th in table, with back-to-back matches against Brighton and West Brom now seen as the perfect chance to rise up the table either side of the turn of the year.

Summer signing Partey hasn’t appeared for the Gunners since limping off shortly before the end of the north London derby defeat to Tottenham on December 6, as he trudged off the pitch while Spurs were breaking to score their second goal.

Arteta was criticised for selecting the former Atletico Madrid midfielder in that match in what was his first appearance for a month after a hamstring injury.

Partey (second right) trained with his teammates on Monday

Partey has so far only made six appearances for the Gunners in all competitions, with his only Premier League win coming at Old Trafford on November 1.

Speaking after the Chelsea win, Arteta confirmed that the Brighton and West Brom games are set to come too soon for Partey, but he hopes he’ll be back soon.

Asked if he’d be available for those games, he said: ‘Not yet, he hasn’t started to train with us yet so I think he’s a few more days away.”

Arteta oversaw the session on Monday

Gabriel, David Luiz and Willian also missed the Chelsea game, with Gabriel confirmed as registering a positive coronavirus case and Luiz and Willian displaying symptoms.

“They [Luiz and Willian] were having some symptoms, and we have to be really cautious when that happens,” said Arteta.

“The protocols say that they have to stay away, they have to test negative but still we have to be really careful we don’t pass that into the players until we are 100 per cent sure they don’t have it.”

Where will Arsenal finish this season? Have your say in the comments below

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Georgia Headline USA Politics

Pollster tells Fox News that Joe Biden’s victory defied crucial ‘metrics’

President-elect Joe Biden’s victory defied crucial ‘non-polling metrics’ that have a ‘100 per cent accuracy’ in predicting the election winner, pollster said.

Patrick Basham, founding director of the Democracy Institute, said Biden’s victory of Trump was ‘not statistically impossible, but it’s statistically implausible.’  

He told Mark Levin of Fox News that with the election results, ‘something very strange has happened because the numbers just don’t add up.’

According to Basham, there are a ‘dozen or more’ non-polling metrics that ‘have a 100% accuracy rate in terms of predicting the winner of the presidential election.’

Pictured: President Donald Trump

Pollster Patrick Basham said that Joe Biden’s (left) victory over President Trump (right) defied important ‘non-polling metrics’ that have a ‘100 per cent accuracy’

Patrick Basham (pictured) said Biden's victory was 'not statistically impossible, but it's statistically implausible'

Patrick Basham (pictured) said Biden’s victory was ‘not statistically impossible, but it’s statistically implausible’

The metrics included ‘party registration trends, how the candidates did in their respective presidential primaries, the number of individual donations, [and] how much enthusiasm each candidate generated in the opinion polls.’ 

Basham explained that Trump scored well with those non-polling metrics during his first presidential run in 2016 and again in 2020. 

‘In 2016, they all indicated strongly that Donald Trump would win against most of the public polling. That was again the case in 2020,’ Basham told Levin, host of ‘Live, Liberty & Levin.’

‘So if we are to accept that Biden won against the trend of all these non-polling metrics, it not only means that one of these metrics was inaccurate … for the first time ever, it means that each one of these metrics was wrong for the first time and at the same time as all of the others.’

Basham noted that Trump’s loss came after he performed better in several pivotal voting metrics compared to 2016. 

‘If you look at the results, you see how Donald Trump improved his national performance over 2016 by almost 20 per cent.’ said Basham.

‘No incumbent president has ever lost a reelection bid if he’s increased his votes [total]. Obama went down by three and a half million votes between 2008 and 2012, but still won comfortably.’

Basham noted that Trump gained ground with minorities, Catholics and other groups.

‘If you look at those results, you see that Donald Trump did very well, even better than four years earlier, with the white working class,’ Basham said.

‘He held his own with women and suburban voters against all of most of the polling expectations, did very well with Catholics, improved his vote among Jewish voters.

‘He had the best minority performance for a Republican since Richard Nixon in 1960, doing so well with African-Americans, and importantly with Hispanics.’

While speaking on Fox News, Basham even said that if 100 observers were sequestered on election night and only seen ‘the vote breakdown by demographic group,’ Trump was the winner.  

’99, at least out of those 100 independent, well-informed observers would say, well, obviously, Trump,’ Basham told Levin.

Pictured: US President Donald Trump points at the end of a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia

Pictured: US President Donald Trump points at the end of a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia

Basham also touched on mail-in and absentee ballots, which 65million Americans used to vote this election.

He discussed a ‘historically low ballot rejection rate for absentee and mail-in ballots.’

‘Rejection rates, which in the primaries earlier this year were well into the double-digits and which historically have often been very, very high in these key swing states, or at least in the key swing counties, we’re seeing rejection rates of less than 1%, often very close to to zero,’ said Basham.

‘Given the increase in absentee balloting and the lack of experience that most of the new voters and those doing the counting would have with those ballots, it is implausible, to put it politely, that that figure would be as low as it was.

On Friday, Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit in Georgia that called for a new statewide presidential election and furthered allegations of voter fraud. 

The lawsuit joined more than 40 other legal challenges brought forth by Trump's campaign and supporters that alleged widespread voter fraud

The lawsuit joined more than 40 other legal challenges brought forth by Trump’s campaign and supporters that alleged widespread voter fraud

The Trump campaign claimed in a statement there was ‘literally tens of thousands of illegal votes that were cast, counted, and included’ in the 2020 General Election.

‘The massive irregularities, mistakes, and potential fraud violate the Georgia Election Code, making it impossible to know with certainty the actual outcome of the presidential race in Georgia,’ wrote Ray S. Smith III, lead counsel for the Trump Campaign.

It also promised the lawsuit would include sworn statements from Georgia residents alleging fraud.

Initial returns showed Biden with a lead of more than 14,000 votes out of about 5 million cast. An initial hand recount put Biden’s margin at about 12,500. 

The Associated Press tallied about 50 lawsuits alleging voter fraud have been filed by Trump’s campaign.  

Categories
Delhi The Buzz

Ahead of crucial meeting with farmers, Union ministers meet PM


Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5

Ahead of their meeting with farmers at 2 pm on Saturday, top ministers, including Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, are meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the offer they are considering to make to them.

With farmers’ movement and demands growing by the day, there are concerns now regarding the length and breadth of the movement.

Sources say today is the make or break meeting and the fact that ministers are meeting the Prime Minister ahead of it shows the intent to resolve the matter as fast as possible.

The government is under attack for allowing the movement to fester for long and sounding it only as a Punjab agitation.

Farmers’ unions have given a call for ‘Bharat bandh’ on December 8. Farmers will also be burning effigies of the Narendra Modi government and corporate houses today — the day Punjab ‘jathebandis’ and other farmers’ leaders meet Agriculture Minister regarding the three contentious Farm Acts.

Farmers’ leaders, including from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana/Andhra Pradesh and Bengal, collectively decided that they would go for the meeting but will sit through it only if the Centre assured that the three laws would be repealed and guarantees MSP on all 23 crops across the country.

Incidentally, farmers are also planning to ghearao toll plazas to stop them from charging toll tax on a day announced later.





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Hawaii Headline USA Politics

‘It’s a f***ing joke!’ Democrats voice fury at Donald Trump’s threat to veto crucial defense bill

Democrats are furious at President Donald Trump’s threat to veto a crucial defense bill that contains a pay raise for service members if they don’t agree to repeal certain legal protections enjoyed by tech companies.

The section 230 of the law the president wants strip has nothing to do with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It’s part of 1996 Communications Decency Act. 

Trump issued his veto threat late Tuesday night as part of his war against social media companies. But the president is also unhappy the defense bill contains a bipartisan provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate military members.

‘It’s a fucking joke,’ a senior Democratic staffer on Capitol Hill told Politico of the president’s move.  ‘This is a complex debate that has no business as an eleventh-hour airdrop.’ 

The House and Senate have passed their own versions of the defense bill and are in conference, where a final version of the legislation is being worked out. 

Some congressional aides have expressed skepticism the president would actually veto the crucial legislation, suggesting his tweets were his way of try to influence the negotiations on the final product. 

Language changing Section 230 could be dropped in the defense legislation but it’s unlikely to happen without congressional hearings or additional input from lawmakers.  

Democrats are furious with President Donald Trump’s threat to veto the crucial National Defense Authorization Act if certain provisions protecting tech companies are not repealed

Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii agreed with President Trump that section 230 needs to be amended but said it should happen with hearings and separate legislation

Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii agreed with President Trump that section 230 needs to be amended but said it should happen with hearings and separate legislation

Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, charged Trump with issuing the veto threat because 'you're mad at Twitter'

Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, charged Trump with issuing the veto threat because ‘you’re mad at Twitter’

One Democratic senator said he agreed that changes need to be made to section 230 but said it needs to be done through hearings and separate legislation – not the defense bill. He charged Trump with really being angry about the Confederate bases. 

‘I have written a bipartisan bill to reform section 230 but the idea that it should be repealed, with no hearing, in the defense bill, is goofy. You will know who is serious about policy making in this space by whether or not they reflexively agree w Trump here,’ wrote Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii on Twitter. 

‘It’s not Section 230. It’s the confederate named bases. That’s why the President is threatening to veto the NDAA,’ he noted. 

And Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, charged Trump with issuing the veto threat because ‘you’re mad at Twitter.’

‘To be clear, Mr. President, Section 230 repeal wasn’t included in the House OR Senate version of the NDAA. You’re mad at Twitter. We all know it. You’re willing to veto the defense bill over something that has everything to do with your ego, and nothing to do with defense,’ he tweeted. 

The $740 billion legislation sets defense priorities for the coming year, including a pay raise for service members and funding for female-specific uniforms and body armor, which doesn’t yet exist. 

In addition to funding the typical defense needs of the military, this year’s legislation also has several quality of life provisions for service members and their families, including funding to support education for military children with special needs whose families have to frequently change school districts. 

Trump has bragged about his work for the military. Part of his stump speech is his claim that he got them their first pay raise in 10 years, which is false. Service members have received a pay raise every year for decades.

The president also reportedly called service members who died in battle ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’ as reported in a bombshell article from The Atlantic in September. Trump has denied saying that. 

The NDAA, as the defense act is known, is one of the few major pieces of legislation seen as a ‘must-pass’ because it governs all Pentagon operations, which is considered a national security necessity.

But President Trump and Republicans are pushing for greater regulations for Big Tech, charging the companies with unfairly silencing conservatives, and also want to remove their blanket section 230 protection from being sued for content on their platforms.

Trump specifically mentioned that protection in his veto threat issued Tuesday night. 

‘Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’ (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity, Trump tweeted.

‘Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,’ the president said. 

‘Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!’ he added in a second tweet. 

Trump has waged a war on social media throughout much of his presidency. 

In October he signed an executive order directing executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, to study whether they can place new regulations on tech companies.

Post-election, Twitter has tagged many of Trump’s tweets because of the president’s false claims he won a second term. Facebook also removed some of his pre-election day posts because of their material.

Trump will also lose certain ‘public interest’ protections he enjoyed as president when he leaves the Oval Office, meaning his accounts will be even more likely to face tags and warning from the tech companies. 

Twitter confirmed that Trump’s @realDonaldTrump account – which has 88.7 million followers – will be subject to the same rules as any other user – including bans on inciting violence and posting false information about voting or the coronavirus.

The company has special policies for world leaders and some other officials, leaving rule-breaking content online if there’s ‘a clear public interest value to keeping the tweet on the service.’ 

Twitter has left up Trump’s false tweets but flags them for inaccurate information. After he leaves the White House on January 20th, the company could remove his future musings if they violate user agreement rules. 

The $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act is seen as must-pass legislation as it funds the Pentagon, gives service members pay raises and contains additional financial support to families

The $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act is seen as must-pass legislation as it funds the Pentagon, gives service members pay raises and contains additional financial support to families

President Trump is also angry about a provision in the defense act that would allow military bases named after Confederate heroes to be renamed

President Trump is also angry about a provision in the defense act that would allow military bases named after Confederate heroes to be renamed

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act shields the websites from liability for content created by their users. The Communications Decency Act, which sets the laws governing the internet, was written in 1996 when companies like Google and Facebook didn’t exist. Tech companies are fighting to keep the blanket protections provided by the law as there is a rising call to increase regulation of them.

Section 230 is credited with allowing the modern internet to exist.  

Twitter and Facebook, in particular, are heavily dependent on Section 230 to build their businesses and boost their profits. Both companies have increased their internal regulations of user content this election year in the face of the growing threat of federal regulation.   

Additionally, Trump threatened this summer to veto the defense bill over the provision renaming Confederate bases.

It was an area where he disagreed with former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was quietly working with Congress to codify the renaming of bases in the bill before Trump fired him earlier this month.

Both chambers of Congress overwhelmingly passed a provision that would change the names of Confederate-named bases as part of their defense bills and it is expected to be in the final version of the legislation.

The president has defended the use of Confederate flags and vowed not to change the names of military bases named after figures from the Civil War.

‘We are in a culture war,’ Trump said in July. 

His comment came after Black Lives Matter protesters took down statues, mainly of Confederate figures, because of their links to white supremacy. Some states have officially decided to remove such figures because of their ties to racism.

Trump also announced in June he ‘will not even consider’ renaming American military bases that were named after leaders of the Confederacy.

‘These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,’ Trump tweeted.  ‘The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars,’ the president continued. 

‘Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations,’ Trump said. 

SECTION 230: THE LAW AT CENTER OF BIG TECH SHOWDOWN

Twenty-six words tucked into a 1996 law overhauling telecommunications have allowed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to grow into the giants they are today.

Under the U.S. law, internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act – itself part of a broader telecom law – provides a legal ‘safe harbor’ for internet companies.

But Republicans increasingly argue that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have abused that protection and should lose their immunity – or at least have to earn it by satisfying requirements set by the government.

Section 230 probably can’t be easily dismantled. But if it was, the internet as we know it might cease to exist.

Just what is Section 230?

If a news site falsely calls you a swindler, you can sue the publisher for libel. But if someone posts that on Facebook, you can’t sue the company – just the person who posted it.

That’s thanks to Section 230, which states that ‘no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.’

That legal phrase shields companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted – whether their complaint is legitimate or not.

Section 230 also allows social platforms to moderate their services by removing posts that, for instance, are obscene or violate the services’ own standards, so long as they are acting in ‘good faith.’

Where did Section 230 come from?

The measure’s history dates back to the 1950s, when bookstore owners were being held liable for selling books containing ‘obscenity,’ which is not protected by the First Amendment. One case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, which held that it created a ‘chilling effect’ to hold someone liable for someone else´s content.

That meant plaintiffs had to prove that bookstore owners knew they were selling obscene books, said Jeff Kosseff, the author of ‘The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet,’ a book about Section 230.

Fast-forward a few decades to when the commercial internet was taking off with services like CompuServe and Prodigy. Both offered online forums, but CompuServe chose not to moderate its, while Prodigy, seeking a family-friendly image, did.

CompuServe was sued over that, and the case was dismissed. Prodigy, however, got in trouble. The judge in their case ruled that ‘they exercised editorial control – so you’re more like a newspaper than a newsstand,’ Kosseff said.

That didn’t sit well with politicians, who worried that outcome would discourage newly forming internet companies from moderating at all. And Section 230 was born.

‘Today it protects both from liability for user posts as well as liability for any clams for moderating content,’ Kosseff said.

What happens if Section 230 is limited or goes away?

‘I don´t think any of the social media companies would exist in their current forms without Section 230,’ Kosseff said. ‘They have based their business models on being large platforms for user content.’

There are two possible outcomes. Platforms might get more cautious, as Craigslist did following the 2018 passage of a sex-trafficking law that carved out an exception to Section 230 for material that ‘promotes or facilitates prostitution.’ Craigslist quickly removed its ‘personals’ section altogether, which wasn’t intended to facilitate sex work. But the company didn´t want to take any chances.

This outcome could actually hurt none other than the president himself, who routinely attacks private figures, entertains conspiracy theories and accuses others of crimes.

‘If platforms were not immune under the law, then they would not risk the legal liability that could come with hosting Donald Trump´s lies, defamation, and threats,’ said Kate Ruane, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Another possibility: Facebook, Twitter and other platforms could abandon moderation altogether and let the lower common denominator prevail.

Such unmonitored services could easily end up dominated by trolls, like 8chan, which is infamous for graphic and extremist content, said Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman. Undoing Section 230 would be an ‘an existential threat to the internet,’ he said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS 

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Georgia Hawaii Headline USA Ohio Politics

Blow for Trump as crucial Michigan county certifies election results with win for Biden



Donald Trump does have a precarious – and politically explosive – path to keeping the White House. To do it he needs to get Joe Biden’s wins in a series of states set aside. 

With his claim that the Supreme Court would do that looking to have evaporated, instead he has to use the procedures of the Electoral College to turn it round. 

And he needs to do it in a lot of states: if Georgia and Arizona stay on track for Joe Biden, he will have 306 votes, far above the 270 needed. Trump appears to be taking legal action, or intending to, in six states: Pennsylvania, with 20 Electoral College votes; Georgia, with 16; Michigan with 16; Arizona with 11; Wisconsin with 10; and Nevada with six.

He needs to get at least any two of the larger three states plus one more state to go Republican to get Biden under 270. 

Here is how he might manage it: 

STEP ONE: GET COURTS TO PUT HOLDS ON CERTIFYING THE VOTE IN TARGET STATES 

The vote is not official until it is ‘certified’ – that is officially declared valid – which happens later in November. Georgia certifies on November 20, and Nevada and Wisconsin are last on December 1. 

Trump is already trying to get certification put on hold in Pennsylvania and Michigan, claiming large-scale irregularities.  

OR: GET AN ‘AUDIT’ REQUESTED OR EVEN BETTER ORDERED – AND KEEP IT GOING PAST CERTIFICATION

Michigan Republican state senators have asked for an ‘audit’ claiming that allegations of irregularity need to be looked into.  This could be a useful tool if courts don’t come through: at the very least it would allow Republicans to say they don’t trust the certification because it ha snot been audited.

STEP TWO: KEEP THE CERTIFICATION ON HOLD PAST DECEMBER 8

This is the ‘safe harbor’ deadline when all election disputes must be resolved. If they are not fully played out, whoever has a court ruling in their favor at this point keeps that result. So if Trump has certification on hold in target states, he has a chance to flip them to him starting now. 

STEP THREE: GET REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURES TO AGREE TO APPOINT THEIR OWN ELECTORS

You were not voting for the president directly: you were voting for electors to the electoral college. But the Constitution does not say that electors are winners of a popular vote. Instead the Constitution says: ‘Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.’ In the early 19th century, states rapidly moved to make the appointment of the electors the result of the popular vote; by 1832 South Carolina was the only holdout. It stuck with that approach until secession.

So Republicans in at least three and possibly more states would have to decide that because the results are not certified – or because they claim they don’t trust the certification because of an audit or the lack of one – that they can take back control for themselves. They would argue that because the results aren’t certified or trustworthy, it’s up to them to work out the will of the people.

Then – undoubtedly in the face of huge public protest – they would appoint Republicans who will vote for Trump.  

This has happened in recent history: in 1960 Hawaii had disputed elections and sent two slates of electors. 

STEP FOUR: SWEAT IT OUT WHEN GOVERNORS APPOINT THEIR OWN ELECTORS

All three of the biggest target states – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – have Republican legislatures and Democratic governors. So now the governors could simply appoint their own electors – voting for Biden – and say that their votes are what counts on January 6, when the Electoral College is counted and record in Washington D.C.

STEP FOUR: SURVIVE A SUPREME COURT CHALLENGE TO THE REPUBLICAN ELECTORS 

Such a dramatic change would go to the Supreme Court. It has never directly ruled whether states could do that: in 2000, three of the five justices who gave the election to Bush over Gore said that state legislatures had complete control – but that is not a precedent. Now Trump’s fate would be in the hands of nine justices, three of whom he appointed and one of whom – Clarence Thomas – said that legislatures are in charge.  

Democrats would of course argue that the governors’ electors are the right ones, and a titanic battle would play out. If Trump wins – again in the face of likely huge public protest – he is on to the final stage. 

STEP FIVE: HOPE THAT THE PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICAN SLATES DON’T GO FAITHLESS

If Pennsylvania is one of the states to ignore the popular vote, Trump needs its 20 Republican electors to stick to the plan – but the state allows faithless electors. So all, or even some, could make a difference in an already mathematically fraught bid to keep the presidency. But assuming he has enough votes not going to Biden, it is on to Washington D.C.

STEP FIVE:  MAKE IT TO JANUARY 6 

This is D-day for the plan: The newly-sworn in Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes. The vice-president, Mike Pence, presides, over a joint session. Normally the ‘certificates’ showing how each state voted are opened in front of the vice-president, the count is recorded and with a bang of the gavel, the electoral college winner is officially declared.

Now Trump needs Republicans in the House and Senate to work together. A member of the House and a senator can jointly object to a state’s certificate when it is opened. The last time this happened was in 1877, which caused a months-long crisis, ended by compromise and followed by the Electoral Count Act of 1887. 

This time the 1887 rules come into play. If there is an objection, they split into the House and Senate and there are two hours for debate. This has only happened once, in 2005, when a tiny number of Democrats objected to Ohio’s vote count. But it was voted down overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate. 

And finally, the vote count is in alphabetical order, so Arizona will be the first battleground state where all this could be tested. 

STEP SIX: MAKE SURE THE RULES ARE IN YOUR FAVOR

As the Trump ships enters uncharted waters, one issue is unresolved: how do you work out what a majority of the Electoral College is? That seems simple but it might not be. If the House and the Senate come to different conclusions on a state with rival slates of electors, then the question is what happens next. 

The most likely answer is that they are simply removed from Biden’s total but not added to Trump. But does that mean the states still count in the Electoral College? The 1887 law is not clear: it seems to suggest both options are available, so Congress might have to try to decide – or Pence as president of the joint session could rule.

If Congress goes for the shrinking college, that favors Biden unless Trump has Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – all the states being targeted by Trump. But if it stays at 538, then Biden could well lose without Trump actually winning: once it falls below 270, there is no majority and therefore it is up to the House to decide.

STEP SEVEN: KEEP MITT ROMNEY, SUSAN COLLINS AND LISA MURKOWSKI ON TRUMP’S SIDE (AND HOPE PENCE CAN VOTE)

If Trump is to win, he has to have the Republicans in the Senate vote for Arizona’s Republican slates as the first order of business. 

This is where the Georgia Senate race comes into play. 

If the Georgia runoffs are decided and Democrats take both seats, Pence would have to tie break in Trump’s favor – if that is allowed. The rules say he is president of the joint session. But they are unclear on whether he retains his tie-break power as president of the Senate. The two roles are not identical and the 1887 law appears to give him a passive, rather than active, role in the session – more like the chief justice presiding over Trump’s impeachment trial than a regular Senate session.

But if Republicans get one or both Georgia seats, the Senate will be 51-49 or 52-48, which means that any rebellion by Republicans is extremely dangerous. Assuming that Pence has a tie-break, it would take only two or three rebels to end Trump’s run. There are three obvious candidates: Mitt Romney voted to impeach him, Susan Collins owes him nothing after he refused to campaign for her, and he has called for Lisa Murkowski to be primaried. 

STEP EIGHT: WATCH A DEBATE WHICH HAS NO PRECEDENT

The 1887 law sets some ground rules for how the House and the Senate debate which slate of electors are valid. They have to decide what the true vote was at the safe harbor deadline – back on December 8 – and which slate of electors were appointed in line with state law. So the debate should – in theory – not be partisan but a determination of which side is valid. In principle, that could mean different outcomes for different states. But assuming that  a Arizona goes Trump’s way in the Senate and Biden’s way in the House, that state is tied – and then it’s on to a new constitutional crisis. 

STEP NINE: NOW IT’S GETTING REALLY MESSY – COULD THERE BE TWO PRESIDENTS

The law says that Congress can’t move on to the next state until debate is resolved over the one in question. But it also says that the meeting cannot be dissolved until all states are decided.

So the whole proceeding could be deadlocked at Arizona. And as long as it remains deadlocked, there is a looming deadline of January 20 – at which point Pence and Trump are out of office anyway. In that scenario, Nancy Pelosi becomes president automatically at noon. 

However, Pence could break the deadlock on Arizona by ruling that the votes are not to be counted at all, and debate can resume on the next item.

Democrats clearly would not agree. In that scenario, it is impossible to say what would happen. They could walk out, say the debate is not resolved – which it would not be – and therefore Pelosi would be sworn in on January 20.

But Pence can then rule that the debate in fact is going on even without Democrats, run through the votes with only Republicans and come up with a Trump victory: meaning two rival presidents both claiming they are in charge. Both can be sworn in at noon on January 20, with only one with their personal items in the White House.

What happens then is impossible to say: the Supreme Court could try to rule between them, or the military might have to decide who is commander-in- chief. 

THE OTHER STEP NINE: KEEP DEBATING (ALTHOUGH WHY WOULD DEMOCRATS WANT TO? 

Of course Democrats could stick with the debate and keep going, debating each state as they go along. 

If Trump overturns six states’ votes, it is inevitable that Democrats lose, regardless of the rules. If he has fewer states, he will want the 538 figure kept in play to get Biden into a minority. This highly unlikely step gets to neither having a majority in the Electoral College.

STEP NINE: THE HOUSE DECIDES – TRUMP HAS DONE IT

If Trump and Biden end up here this is safer ground: the House has decided before. It does not vote under normal rules. Instead each state delegation gets one vote and has to decide among the delegation how to allot it. 

So going by current House results, 27 states have Republican majorities, and all Trump has to do it get a simple majority of them. Trump has triumphed – but it is an exhaustingly long process to get back on the platform on January 20 to be sworn in. 



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Canada

Confidence in vaccines crucial to stop Covid-19


As the good news about a Covid-19 vaccine brings a wave of optimism, public mistrust of immunization could render even the most effective of products unnecessary, warns the head of the WHO’s immunization division.

“A vaccine that stays in a freezer or refrigerator or on a shelf and is not used does nothing to stop this pandemic,” Katherine O’Brien told AFP in a videoconference interview on Friday.

On Monday, the American Pfizer and the German BioNTech announced that their vaccine was 90% effective, according to preliminary results from their vaccine tested in phase III on more than 40,000 people.

Professor O’Brien judged these results, even preliminary, to be “extremely important” and she said she hoped that data from several other vaccines, also in the last phase of human testing, would follow soon.

If the complete data shows that “one or more of these vaccines are very, very effective, it would be good news to equip our toolbox with a new instrument against the pandemic,” she said.

But, she is deeply concerned about the misinformation and conspiracy theories that are pushing the anti-vaccine ranks up, as the pandemic is far from under control and has already claimed nearly 1.3 million lives.

There is a need to increase “confidence that WHO will not make any concessions on the safety or efficacy of the vaccines it is evaluating.”

Gigantic logistical challenge

Dr O’Brien acknowledged that there remained a number of important unknowns regarding vaccine candidates, such as the length of protection they will be able to provide and perhaps just as important the big question: “Does this change. How likely is it that you can transmit (the disease) to someone else? ”.

The WHO expects the arrival of these vaccines in the coming months but is preparing without delay for the gigantic logistical challenge of inoculating billions of people as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, WHO has developed recommendations to give the first vaccines to those who need them most.

“The goal is for each country to be able to immunize 20% of its population by the end of 2021, which would really help meet the needs of health workers and the highest priority populations, then, as the supply will continue to increase, we expect to receive many more doses in 2022 ”, explains Katherine O’Brien.

Access will also depend on the ability to manufacture the vaccines in astronomical quantities, package them, sometimes transport them while keeping them frozen at very low temperatures, and then finding sufficient staff to inject them.

“A vaccine that is highly effective, safe and manufacturable is of public health value only if it actually reaches the people it needs to protect and if it is widely used by populations. This is the next challenge that awaits us, ”she said.

“I recently heard an analogy that demonstrating the efficacy and safety (of a vaccine) is like setting up a base camp at the foot of Everest.

“But in reality, to achieve a real impact from vaccines, it is at the level of its distribution that it plays out and that means climbing Everest,” said Katherine O’Brien.



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Technology US

As Disney Plus turns one, the House of Mouse’s earnings reiterate how crucial streaming is


Disney is still facing unprecedented challenges in a number of its biggest divisions, including theme parks, but its fourth quarter earnings report highlights an area that hasn’t stopped growing: streaming.

On the whole, Disney’s Q4 revenue was better than expected, earning $14.7 billion as opposed to the $14.2 billion expected. A big chunk of that came from Disney’s streaming division, which continues to grow, now boasting just over 120 million subscribers across all its services worldwide. The return of sports also helped generate advertising revenue in its media networks division. It was the parks, experiences, and consumer products division, however, that continued to flail, dropping 61 percent year over year. With Disney’s final movies moved off the calendar year for 2020, there’s not much revenue coming in from Studios, either. Overall revenue was down 23 percent year over year.

In the last several weeks, Disney announced a major reorganization meant to prioritize streaming; shifted its next big Pixar release, Soul, to a Disney Plus-exclusive title; and is preparing for a major streaming-focused investor day on December 10th that will include more information about the launch of Disney’s new international streaming service, Star. Disney is publicly prioritizing its direct-to-consumer division under CEO Bob Chapek, and major shareholders like Dan Loeb are publicly asking Disney to go in even more on streaming. As Guggenheim analyst Michael Morris wrote in a note, Disney is making “streaming its primary mechanism for monetization.”

Today also just happens to be the anniversary of Disney Plus.

It’s easy for Disney to celebrate its position in the direct-to-consumer marketplace. Disney Plus has seen unprecedented growth, skyrocketing from 10 million subscribers within its first 24 hours to more than 73.7 million now. It’s outpaced nearly all of its competitors, save Netflix and Amazon Prime Video — the latter of which has the advantage of being tied to Amazon’s retail division.

Disney Plus’ first year was an incredible success. The company’s streaming bundle has also driven growth across its other platforms, with Hulu’s subscribers increasing to 36.6 million and ESPN Plus up to 10.3 million. Streaming isn’t a sprint, though; it’s a marathon. The bigger question is how does Disney keep this momentum going? How does it stop people from canceling their subscriptions and giving their attention to other competitors like Netflix and HBO Max or free video platforms like TikTok and YouTube? Right now, the number of people canceling their Disney Plus subscriptions is just below the industry average, according to data from Antenna Analytics, but Disney has to find ways to ensure its growth continues.

Two of Disney’s biggest issues are delivering a more consistent output of shows and movies and offering a much more diverse content lineup. The first is easier to fix. Production on series and films designated for Disney Plus has resumed. Other highly anticipated series like WandaVision will help kick off the New Year, giving people currently opening Disney Plus for The Mandalorian a reason to stick around. And Disney is spending time figuring out exactly how to keep Disney Plus feeling fresh. That may include asking studio heads to reallocate a film or show meant for theatrical release or network TV to Disney Plus as an exclusive.

The more challenging hurdle Disney has to face is figuring out how to find subscribers in audiences who aren’t interested in Star Wars or Marvel. Disney Plus’ biggest spike in subscribers didn’t come from The Mandalorian or Mulan — it came from Hamilton.

Data from Antenna Analytics looking at movies and TV shows that drove sign ups on Disney Plus.
Image: Antenna

Chapek told Disney employees in an all-hands at the time that Hamilton’s audience was important because it represented a group of subscribers who were different from the company’s usual customers. Disney needs to find more Hamilton moments to keep non-Disney fans subscribing, and having a substantial library offering of things that will interest them — not just Disney classics — that will keep them there after they’ve finished watching a movie or TV show.

Several of Disney’s departments have a long road ahead of them. Disneyland is unlikely to open anytime soon, and more parks around the world may face shutdowns (like in Paris) as cases rise. Disney’s Studios business is reliant on movie theatres returning to some semblance of normalcy, which is, in turn, reliant on people feeling comfortable in a movie theater again. That might not happen until after a vaccine is out. While Disney’s Media Networks division is seeing some return in advertisement, people are still cutting their cable packages. It’s a trend that won’t slow down.

Much of Disney’s future is uncertain — streaming is the one thing that’s not.



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Headlines UK London

Blair, Brown and Cameron told Boris Johnson test and trace crucial


Boris Johnson was urged to make a fully functioning test and trace system his Government’s ‘number one overwhelming priority’ in the summer in an extra-ordinary intervention by his predecessors in Number 10.

Former chancellor George Osborne has revealed that Conservatives David Cameron and Sir John Major and the Labour former prime ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair wrote a private letter to the current occupant of Number 10 in July.

In it they urged him to focus on making the struggling and badly under-performing system the centre-piece of the fight against the pandemic to get the country back up and running.

But speaking to Times Radio Mr Osborne said that the system had been left to the NHS and health officials to manage instead of having Mr Johnson’s full attention.

‘All the former Prime Minister’s bar one wrote privately to Boris Johnson in July, saying this was the priority, and I still feel it’s been too much something that has been given to the health department, given to the NHS, and the rest of the government has not thrown the full weight of the British state behind it,’ he told the broadcaster.

‘And it’s been distracted by other things, you know, and it shouldn’t be this is the absolute number one overwhelming priority facing the country’

The only living PM not to sign the letter was Mr Johnson’s immediate predecessor Theresa May – who is still a serving Conservative MP –  Mr Osborne claimed.

It came as Baroness Dido Harding, the beleaguered chairwoman of NHS Test and Trace, told MPs today that the scheme was not a ‘silver bullet’ to holding back the spread of coronavirus. 

Boris Johnson was urged to make a fully functioning test and trace system his Government’s ‘number one overwhelming priority’ in the summer in an extra-ordinary intervention by his predecessors in Number 10

Tony Blair

Sir John Major

Former chancellor George Osborne has revealed that Conservatives David Cameron and Sir John Major (above right) and the Labour former prime ministers Gordon Brown (below left) and Tony Blair (above left) wrote a private letter to the current occupant of Number 10 in July.

Gordon Brown

Theresa May

The only living PM not to sign the letter was Mr Johnson’s immediate predecessor Theresa May (right) – who is still a serving Conservative MP – Mr Osborne claimed

Asked by presenter Matt Chorley who had put their names to the letter, Mr Osborne added: ‘My understanding is it was everyone but Theresa May. I don’t know why she didn’t want to write the letter… 

‘If you’ve got Conservative and Labour Prime Ministers who’ve between them have got many decades of experience … that I think is something that should have been listened to.’ 

The Test and Trace system developed by the Government has been widely criticised after being badly delayed and then failing to achieve widespread results.

Baroness Harding, the Tory peer who runs it, faced the Health and Social Care and Science and Technology committees today.

Asked why the service had not stopped a second wave of infections, she said: ‘Much as I would love that testing and tracing on its own would be a silver bullet to holding back the tide of Covid, unfortunately the evidence in the UK and in every other country in Europe is that’s not the case.

‘That, actually, the way we have to tackle the disease is through a variety of different interventions and we are one of the ways, not the only way.’

Baroness Harding also said the R number was much lower during the second wave than in the first and part of that was due to the test and trace system.

It comes after more than 40 per cent of close contacts of people who tested positive in England were not contacted through the system in the week ending October 28. 

Speaking to Times Radio Mr Osborne said that the system had been left to the NHS and health officials to manage instead of having Mr Johnson's full attention

Speaking to Times Radio Mr Osborne said that the system had been left to the NHS and health officials to manage instead of having Mr Johnson’s full attention

Dame Anne Johnson, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London, told the joint session of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee that contact tracing is ‘always a leaky system’.

‘So even with the best contact tracing system, given what we now know, which is that around 40 per cent of cases are asymptomatic, you will never, even with the best system, be able to identify those cases,’ the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member told MPs.

‘There are losses at every stage of that cascade. People may not get tested if they’re symptomatic, they may not isolate, they may not report all their contacts, and so on.

‘And so it’s always been a leaky system.’

Dame Anne said that contact tracing was ‘only one part of the system’, emphasising the benefits of other non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as face coverings and social distancing.

She added: ‘We were very clear that the test and trace system is very important, but it’s only one part of the many interventions we have to make to keep on top of this epidemic.’



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Birmingham Headlines UK Liverpool London Manchester

Londoners outperformed the rest of Britain at social distancing during crucial summer months


London was better at following social distancing rules than the rest of Britain during the sweltering summer months, new data has revealed.

Anonymous mobile phone movement data collected by Google revealed that as the rest of the country was opening up after months of draconian lockdown measures, Londoners remained cautious.

While revellers flocked to bars, restaurants, non-essential shops and offices in the rest of the UK between July and early September, Londoners instead opted to stay inside or take advantage of socially-distanced outdoor spaces, the figures suggest.

The difference may account for London’s comparatively lower coronavirus hospitalisation numbers – and its already-ebbing second wave stats.

In the summer months, visits to newly-reopened venues were between 50 and 30 per cent less popular than they were before lockdown in London.

The rest of the UK were between 40 and 10 per cent less busy, analysis by the Daily Telegraph has found.

London was better at following social distancing rules than the rest of Britain during the sweltering summer months, new data has revealed. Pictured: An empty London restaurant this month

London saw a 27 per cent drop in the number of people visiting retail and recreation facilities compared to pre-lockdown figures between September and November

London saw a 27 per cent drop in the number of people visiting retail and recreation facilities compared to pre-lockdown figures between September and November

North Yorkshire also saw an increase of 2 per cent on pre-lockdown numbers between September and November (pictured)

North Yorkshire also saw an increase of 2 per cent on pre-lockdown numbers between September and November (pictured)

Revellers descended on to Broad Street in Birmingham wearing Halloween fancy dress last month

Revellers descended on to Broad Street in Birmingham wearing Halloween fancy dress last month

The contrast is likely down to lifestyle differences in London – with the capital seeing different patterns in working and commuting which make adhering to social distancing less difficult. 

This data corroborates similar figures released in September which showed a 69 per cent drop in the number of people visiting non-essential shops in London – compared to northern cities where the dip was much smaller. 

Less than 150 people per 100,000 are hospitalised with coronavirus in London.

In the North-West and Yorkshire and the Humber, the figure stands at around 400 per 100,000 – however many factors may play into these differences.

A further 413 people have died after testing positive for the virus, official figures released yesterday revealed, bringing the UK's total death toll during the pandemic to 48,888

A further 413 people have died after testing positive for the virus, official figures released yesterday revealed, bringing the UK’s total death toll during the pandemic to 48,888

The UK confirmed a further 24,957 positive Covid tests, up just 13.9 per cent on last week's total, yesterday

The UK confirmed a further 24,957 positive Covid tests, up just 13.9 per cent on last week’s total, yesterday

Policy and strategy analytics academic at Loughborough University said: ‘London is a young city.

‘Many Londoners may be able to work from home, decreasing mobility and risk. 

‘Some Londoners do not have that privilege, being key workers who cannot avoid the use of public transport, increasing their risk.’

However he warned that intensive care figures remain high in the capital.

And the trends follow through between September and November. 

While London saw a 27 per cent drop in the number of people visiting retail and recreation facilities compared to pre-lockdown figures  – Cornwall saw an increase in footfall of 14 per cent.

North Yorkshire also saw an increase of 2 per cent on pre-lockdown numbers. 

The West Midlands – which includes major cities such as Birmingham – saw a drop of just 12 per cent in the same category.

While London saw a 27 per cent drop in the number of people visiting retail and recreation facilities compared to pre-lockdown figures - Cornwall saw an increase in footfall of 14 per cent between September and November

While London saw a 27 per cent drop in the number of people visiting retail and recreation facilities compared to pre-lockdown figures – Cornwall saw an increase in footfall of 14 per cent between September and November

The West Midlands - which includes major cities such as Birmingham - saw a drop of just 12 per cent in the same category between September and November

The West Midlands – which includes major cities such as Birmingham – saw a drop of just 12 per cent in the same category between September and November

Earlier this week, it was revealed that London’s second wave of coronavirus had already started to slow down before the national lockdown forced workers to stay at home and high street shops to pull down the shutters.

More than half of the capital’s 32 boroughs — including the three hotspots of Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kingston upon Thames — saw infections fall in the week ending October 30.

The city’s overall infection rate also declined from 152 to 146 cases per 100,000 people over the same period, according to weekly data from Public Health England.

The stark figures raise questions over whether London and its nine million residents could have been spared a second lockdown, had over-zealous officials kept their fingers off the panic button for another more week.

Officials possess only two weeks of accurate infection data from when the city’s Tier Two restrictions — banning households mixing indoors — were imposed. 

But experts say it can take at least three weeks before it becomes clear whether the restrictions have driven down the rise in infections.

Liverpool, Lancashire and Manchester — all previously under the toughest Tier Three curbs — also saw sharp falls in infection rates, sparking suggestions the Government’s knee-jerk reaction came too soon and should have been delayed. Boris Johnson even admitted yesterday that the Tiers were working before the crunch vote.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said ‘thanks to the efforts of Londoners we are seeing initial signs that the increase in infections across the capital has started to slow down’ but he warned cases still remained high and the number of patients in hospital continues to rise. Data shows there are currently only 990 people in hospital with Covid-19 in London, miles away from the almost 5,000 infected patients on wards at the peak of the first wave.

Conservative London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey said Mr Khan must now ‘stop demanding more restrictions’, warning Londoners ‘won’t forgive him if their favourite restaurants and businesses fail to make it through the restrictions he shouted so loudly for’.

The mayor was slammed for his over-zealous decision to push the city into Tier Two, while other regional authorities fought with the Government to negotiate concessions.



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Sports UK

Man Utd player ratings as Bruno Fernandes stars in crucial victory over Everton


Two first-half goals from Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani’s first for the club saw Manchester United come from behind to beat Everton 3-1 and relieve some of the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Toffees took the lead on 19 minutes when Bernard converted from Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s knockdown.

But just six minutes later United equalised through a superb Fernandes header from Luke Shaw’s cross.

Fernandes got his brace when Marcus Rashford failed to make contact with his cross and the ball sailed into the net via the post.

And he set up Edinson Cavani for his first United goal to seal the win in the dying stages.

Bernard gave Everton the lead with an accomplished finish

Here are the Manchester United player ratings from Goodison Park…

David De Gea 6

Spaniard was busier second half but still not called on to make any big saves

Aaron Wan-Bissaka 6

Usually solid with one v one defensive situations but backed off Bernard for opener

Victor Lindelof 6

Solid enough but beaten by Calvert-Lewin as Everton worked a route one opening goal

Harry Maguire 8

Has recovered well for his form blip and put in another commanding performance

Bruno Fernandes’ superb header drew Manchester United level

Scott McTominay 7

Physical presence in midfield, aggressive and increased United’s tackle count

Fred 7

Much maligned Brazilian was bright and aggressive, neat and tidy and had good tempo

Juan Mata 8

A surprise starter on right side but put in a decent shift as always

Bruno Fernandes 9

United’s heartbeat, superb header to equalise then added another to put his side ahead

Anthony Martial 6

Looked focused with clever movement, always trying to sniff out a chance

Fernandes scored again to give his side the lead

Marcus Rashford 6

Sharp and alert, pace on break a constant problem for Everton’s right flank

Subs:

Tuanzebe 6 (for Shaw 67) Looked comfortable at left back and added power to United back line 6

Pogba (for Mata 81)

Cavani (for Martial 81)

Unused Subs: Henderson, James, Matic, van de Beek.

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