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Diane A. Wade

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Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has signed the article of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Donald Trump has become the first sitting president to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives.

Congress voted 232 to 197 on the sole article of impeachment.

Now, President Trump faces trial in the senate.

Ten Republicans voted with Democrats to impeach the president, making this vote the most bipartisan impeachment vote in US history.

They are:

  • Liz Cheney of Wyoming (the third highest-ranking Republican in the House)
  • Adam Kinzinger of Illinois (the only Republican that voted on a bill calling for Vice-President Mike Pence to take over as president yesterday)
  • John Katko of New York (the first House Republican to say he’d vote to impeach)
  • Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio
  • Tom Rice of South Carolina
  • Dan Newhouse of Washington State
  • Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State
  • Fred Upton of Michigan
  • David Valadao of Florida
  • Peter Meijer of Michigan

Senators will then act as jurors during the trial and ultimately decide whether or not to convict the president on the charge.

The lead manager is Jamie Raskin. He’s joined by Diana DeGette, David Cicilline, Joaquin Castro, Eric Swalwell, Madeleine Dean and Joe Neguse.

“Today the House demonstrated that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States,” Nancy Pelosi said before signing.

“That Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the country and that once again we honor that oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

“And now, I sadly and with a heart broken over what this means to our country, of a president who would incite insurrection, will sign the engrossment of the article of impeachment.”

Trump Impeachment: Democrats Call on VP Pence to Invoke 25th Amendment

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

In a video message posted to the White House’s Twitter account, President Trump has condemned the violence in the Capitol last week, saying “violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement”.

He did not make any reference to impeachment.

The president ends with a call for unity.

“All of us can choose by our actions to rise above the rancor and find common ground and shared purpose. We must focus on advancing the interests of the whole nation, delivering the miracle vaccines, defeating the pandemic, rebuilding the economy, protecting our national security and upholding the rule of law,” Donald Trump said.

“Today I am calling on all Americans to overcome the passions of the moment, and join together as one American people,” he said.

“God bless you, and God bless America.”

When he was first impeached in 2019, President Trump became part of a small group of rebuked US leaders.

After today, President Trump is the first president to be impeached twice.

Only two other presidents in history have been impeached by the House of Representatives – Andrew Johnson, back in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998.

President Richard Nixon stepped down and resigned.

But to date, no president has ever been removed from the White House by Congress.

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Photo credit: EPA

Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row in the US, has been executed for murder.

She received a lethal injection at a prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, after a last-minute stay of execution was lifted by the Supreme Court.

Her case attracted attention because her lawyers argued she was mentally ill and suffered serious abuse as a child.

Lisa Montgomery, 52, strangled a pregnant woman before cutting out and kidnapping her baby in Missouri in 2004.

Her victim, 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, bled to death.

Brandon Bernard Executed After Last Minute Clemency Pleas Were Rejected

Lisa Montgomery was the first female federal inmate to be put on federal death row in 67 years.

According to witnesses, a woman standing next to Lisa Montgomery during the execution process, removed the inmate’s face mask and asked her if she had any last words. Lisa Montgomery responded “no”, and said nothing else.

Lisa Montgomery was pronounced dead on January 13, at 01:31 AM. Her lawyer, Kelley Henry, said that everyone who had participated in the execution “should feel shame”.

The lawyer said in a statement: “The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman.

“Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice.”

Lisa Montgomery’s latest execution was postponed twice – first by Covid-19, then by a judge – until a Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for it to take place in the early hours of January 13.

In a dramatic move on January 11, an Indiana judge had halted the scheduled injection until a mental competency hearing could be held.

Lisa Montgomery’s lawyers argued that she had been born brain-damaged and was too mentally ill to be executed.

As a child Lisa Montgomery was routinely abused by her father and trafficked by her mother, family members said. Her treatment was so violent that it amounted to torture, her lawyers say.

Her defense team believe that at the time of her crime, Lisa Montgomery was psychotic and out of touch with reality. That opinion is supported by 41 current and former lawyers as well as human rights groups like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

However, Bobbie Jo Stinnett ‘s family and friends say the murder committed by Montgomery was so horrific that she deserved to be put to death regardless of her mental health.

Lisa Montgomery killed Bobbie Jo Stinnett in Skidmore, Missouri, after befriending the pregnant woman online over a shared love of dogs. After driving to Stinnett’s house, Lisa Montgomery overpowered the pregnant woman, strangled her with a piece of rope, and cut the baby out of her womb.

Police found Lisa Montgomery cradling a new-born girl she claimed to have given birth to the day before. After her story fell apart, she confessed to the killing.

Lisa Montgomery was found guilty of the crime in 2007. The next day, she was sentenced to death.

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Image source: Anadolu Agency

The FBI has warned of possible armed protests across the US as Trump supporters and far-right groups call for demonstrations before Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration.

According to the agency, armed groups are planning to gather at all 50 state capitols and in Washington DC in the run-up to Biden’s inauguration.

Security will be tight for the event after a pro-Trump mob stormed Congress on January 6.

House Democrats say a vote to impeach President Donald Trump will happen on January 13.

Democrats accuse President Trump of “incitement of insurrection” and say the vote will be held unless VP Mike Pence invokes constitutional powers to remove President Trump from office. There is no sign Mike Pence is prepared to do so.

Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris are expected to be sworn in at a ceremony at the Capitol. The Biden team had already urged Americans to avoid travelling to the capital because of the Covid-19 pandemic, a call that is now being repeated by local authorities.

According to security officials, there will be no repeat of the breach seen on January 6, when thousands of pro-Trump supporters were able to break into the building where members of Congress were voting to certify the election result.

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

Five people died in the riot, which happened after President Trump repeated unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the November vote and encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol.

Since then, calls for Donald Trump’s resignation, removal from office or impeachment have grown among Democrats and some Republicans.

President Trump has made no public statements since he was banned from several social media platforms – including Twitter – on January 8.

Donald Trump became the third president to be impeached in December 2019 over charges of breaking the law by asking Ukraine to investigate his rival in the presidential election. The Senate cleared him.

Image source Flickr

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stepped up the pressure on VP Mike Pence to act to remove President Donald Trump from office over his role in last week’s storming of Congress.

Lawmakers are expected to bring up a resolution asking VP Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare the president unfit for office.

Mike Pence is said to oppose the idea.

If he refuses, the House will hold a vote to impeach President Trump who had urged supporters to march on the Capitol.

Donald Trump has been accused by Democrats and an increasing number of fellow Republicans over the riot, following a rally in which the president repeated unsubstantiated allegations of vote fraud. Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol police officer.

President Trump has made no public statements since he was banned from social media platforms on January 8.

He is due to leave office on January 20, when Joe Biden will be sworn in as president.

Donald Trump has said he will not attend Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony.

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

Nancy Pelosi wrote to lawmakers saying the House of Representatives would present a resolution on January 11 to formally request that VP Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which would allow him to remove President Trump from the White House and become acting president.

The House could vote on the resolution on January 12. After that, Mike Pence and the cabinet would be given 24 hours to act before the House’s potential move toward impeachment.

Nancy Pelosi wrote in her letter: “We will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both.

“The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

Although Mike Pence has appeared to distance himself from the president by saying on January 10 he planned to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration, there is no sign that the vice-president is prepared to invoke the amendment.

In a separate development, First Lady Melania Trump, who rarely makes public comments about political events, condemned January 6 violence, saying the “nation must heal in a civil manner”.

Melania Trump said in a statement called Our Path Forward released by the White House: “I implore people to stop the violence, never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin or use differing political ideologies as a basis for aggression and viciousness.”

House Democrats have vowed to press ahead quickly with impeachment. To impeach, in this context, means to bring charges in Congress, and Nancy Pelosi said Democrats could introduce a charge of “incitement of insurrection” against President Trump.

Senior lawmakers say a vote to impeach President Trump in the House could be held by mid-week.

Donald Trump could become the only president in US history to have been impeached twice.

Joe Biden has said impeachment is for Congress to decide, even though he has thought “for a long time President Trump was not fit to hold the job”.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Congress has certified Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next president and vice-president of the United States.

The electoral votes were approved after both the Senate and the House of Representatives rejected objections to the votes in the states of Pennsylvania and Arizona.

The normally procedural session of Congress was disrupted on January 6 when supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building. The session resumed and continued through the night after the building was cleared.

The announcement was made by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, one of the four “tellers” appointed by the House and Senate to count the Electoral College votes.

She said: “The report we make is that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the president and vice president according to the ballots that have been given to us.”

VP Mike Pence, who as president of the Senate oversaw the certification process, confirmed to Congress that, of the 538 Electoral College votes cast, Joe Biden and Kamal Harris received 306 and Donald Trump and Mike Pence received 232 – mirroring the results of November’s election.

He said: “The announcement of the state of the vote by the President of the Senate shall be deemed as sufficient declaration of the persons elected President and Vice President of the United States, each for the term beginning on the 20th day of January, 2021 and shall be entered together with the list of the votes on the journals of the Senate and the House of Representatives.”

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

President Trump has just released a statement committing to “an orderly transition on January 20th” but repeating his unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” the president said, in a comment published on his spokesperson’s Twitter account.

 Meanwhile, Twitter has temporarily blocked Donald Trump from using his own account.

“I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!” he added.

More than 60 legal cases by Trump’s campaign team challenging the November result have failed.

Supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, alongside far-right pro-Trump groups, were planning the rally outside Congress for weeks.

QAnon is a baseless conspiracy theory that claims President Trump and a secret team of military intelligence officers have been waging a war against Satan-worshipping pedophiles in the Democratic party.

In addition, supporters of the “Stop the Steal” election movement, Proud Boys and other groups have been encouraging their followers to attend the march.

So-called “patriot caravans” and other initiatives were organized online to help transport activists to Washington DC in anticipation of today’s protest.

Many of those attending the rally had consumed viral conspiracy theories and misleading narratives about the presidential election on major online platforms, convinced that the vote was stolen from Donald Trump.

However, election officials have described the vote as the most secure in history.

Discussion on Gab and Parler, social media platforms popular with far-right groups banned from Facebook and Twitter, featured threats that anything other than Congress overturning the outcome would lead to “patriots” having to rescue their country from traitors, communists, Satanists and pedophiles.

Image source: Anadolu Agency

Chaos has broken out within the Capitol as pro-Trump supporters break into the building.

The ongoing special House and Senate sessions have been recessed amid the escalating clashes between protesters and police.

Lawmakers had gathered to confirm the election of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden – an outcome rejected by protesters.

Photos show demonstrators gathered just outside the Senate chamber. Other images show demonstrators carrying firearms.

Capitol Police have put the Capitol Building on lockdown amid violent clashes between police and Trump supporters, gathered to protest the 2020 election results.

Footage shows demonstrators swarming the Capitol building, breaking the temporary barrier that had been put in place ahead of today’s events. Media describe some protesters climbing on parts of the Capitol building, attempting to get inside.

Capitol police have detained some protesters as they continue to storm the building.

Some demonstrators have broken into the Senate chamber, climbing on the side of the walls as police drew their weapons.

President Donald Trump has just tweeted another message to protesters who have stormed the US Capitol, saying: “No violence!”

He tweeted: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”

Georgia Voters Head to Polls in Senate Runoff Elections

Capitol Hill police are calling for reinforcements as the violence continues at the Capitol.

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said members of the Secret Service and the Federal Protective Service are currently meeting calls to provide assistance.

The Department of Defense has not yet decided to deploy the National Guard to back up law enforcement on the scene.

Protesters who have stormed the US Capitol are trespassing on federal property and may face charges.

After a summer of protests against coronavirus lockdown measures, including in Michigan where armed militia members stormed the state capitol, we’re now seeing similar scenes playing out in Washington DC.

While both chambers of the US Congress were meeting on January 6 to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump, the proceedings were interrupted by police clashes with rioters in adjoining corridors.

President Trump has for weeks claimed to have been the true winner, saying without evidence that the votes cast for Biden in crucial swing states were fraudulent.

He and his supporters have been pressing VP Mike Pence to overturn the election result by refusing to certify Joe Biden’s win, something that experts agree he does not have the legal power to do.

In the days leading up to the certification, President Trump said that he would attend the “Save America” rally happening in Washington on January 6, promising on Twitter that it would be “very big” and “wild”.

About an hour after President Trump addressed thousands on the National Mall, promising to “never concede” that he had lost, chaos was unleashed.

Lawmakers and reporters inside the building say they have been asked to evacuate, shelter in place and put on gas masks.

Both chambers of Congress abruptly stopped proceedings as they were debating November’s election results.

As his supporters storm into the Capitol in quickly-escalating protests, President Trump has broken his silence and tweeted for demonstrators to “support Capitol Police and Law Enforcement”.

Media report that tear gas has now been used inside the Capitol building as a growing number of demonstrators enter the building.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has ordered a citywide curfew beginning at 18:00 EST.

Image source: Getty Images

Georgia is going to the polls for a second-round vote that will decide whether President-elect Joe Biden’s Democrats control the Senate.

The Democratic Party needs to win both seats in the state’s runoffs to gain full control of Congress – and with it the power to push forward his agenda.

The Republican Party of outgoing President Donald Trump needs only to win one in order to retain the Senate.

Joe Biden said Georgians could shape the US for years to come.

Meanwhile, President Trump told voters it was their “last chance to save the America” they loved.

Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue currently hold Georgia’s two Senate seats.

Kelly Loeffler is taking on Reverend Raphael Warnock and David Perdue is battling Jon Ossoff.

None of the candidates reached the 50% needed to win outright in the elections in November, forcing Tuesday’s runoffs under Georgia’s election rules. Voting began at 07:00.

The vote will decide the balance of power in the Senate.

President Trump Recorded Telling Georgia’s Secretary of State to “Find” Votes to Overturn Biden Win

Texas Judge Rejects Gohmert Suit Aimed at Empowering Mike Pence to Overturn Election Results

The Republicans currently hold 52 of the 100 seats. If both Democrats win on December 5, the Senate will be evenly split, allowing incoming Democratic VP Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.

This would be crucial for pushing through Joe Biden’s agenda, including on key issues such as healthcare and environmental regulations – policy areas with strong Republican opposition.

The Senate also has the power to approve or reject Joe Biden’s nominees for cabinet and judicial posts.

If Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both win, it would bring the White House, Senate and the House of Representatives under Democratic control for the first time since President Barack Obama’s election in 2008.

Voting should last about 12 hours, ending at 19:00 local time, although all those still in line to vote at that time will be allowed to do so.

Democrats are hoping for a large turnout and have been buoyed by the fact that more than three million Georgians have already cast their ballots – nearly 40% of the state’s registered voters. Early voting was a key benefit for Joe Biden in the presidential election.

The Democrats will be looking to turn out supporters in major urban areas, particularly the suburbs of Atlanta. The issue of long lines of voters could be more of a problem for them.

For the Republicans, getting out voters on the day is even more crucial, and they will be looking to the stronghold of north Georgia, as well as rural areas and smaller towns.

Generally, results come in quickly but if these races are close, it could take days.

David Perdue nearly won first time out against Jon Ossoff in November, falling just short of the needed majority with 49.7%. The other seat had more candidates, with Democrat Raphael Warnock recording 32.9% to Kelly Loeffler’s 25.9%.

A Democrat has not won a Senate race in Georgia in 20 years but the party will be boosted by Joe Biden’s presidential election win over Donald Trump there. Joe Biden’s margin of victory was about 12,000 votes among five million cast.

Georgia’s black community is more than double America’s national proportion, making up a third of the population.

Across America, nine in 10 black voters supported Joe Biden in the presidential election, according to a survey of more than 110,000 voters for the Associated Press.

Image source: Getty Images

President Donald Trump has been recorded telling Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn the election result.

The president told Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a recording released by the Washington Post: “I just want to find 11,780 votes.”

Brad Raffensperger is heard replying that Georgia’s results are correct.

Joe Biden won Georgia alongside other swing states, winning 306 Electoral College votes to Donald Trump’s 232.

VP-elect Kamala Harris called President Trump’s comments “a bold abuse of power”.

It comes ahead of two crucial runoff elections in Georgia on January 5 that will decide which party controls the Senate.

Since the November 3 vote, President Trump has been making unsubstantiated allegations of widespread electoral fraud.

All 50 states have certified the election result, some after recounts and legal appeals.

Congress is due to formally approve the election result on January 6 and Democrat Joe Biden is due to be inaugurated as president on January 20.

In excerpts of January 2 phone call released by the Washington Post, President Trump can be heard alternately cajoling and pressurizing Georgia’s secretary of state.

He insisted that he had won the election in Georgia and told Brad Raffensperger that there was “nothing wrong with saying you have recalculated”.

Brad Raffensperger responded by saying: “The challenge you have, Mr. President, is that the data you have is wrong.”

Later in the call, President Trump said the rumor was that ballots had been shredded and voting machinery had been removed from Fulton County in the state – claims denied by Brad Raffensperger’s lawyer.

The president then threatened the official with possible legal consequences.

He said: “You know what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal offence. You can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer.”

Joe Biden’s Presidential Election Victory Confirmed by Electoral College

The president then called for the extra 11,780 votes – which would have given him a total of 2,473,634 votes in the state, one more than Joe Biden, who received 2,473,633 votes.

President Trump told Brad Raffensperger he should re-examine the result in the state.

He said: “You can re-examine it, but re-examine it with people who want to find answers, not people who don’t want to find answers.”

Brad Raffensperger replied: “Mr. President, you have people who submit information and we have our people that submit information, and then it comes before the court and the court has to make a determination.

“We have to stand by our numbers, we believe our numbers are right.”

President Trump also warned Brad Raffensperger that by refusing to recalculate the election result he would deter Republicans from turning out to vote in January 5 runoff elections for the Senate.

If the two Democratic contenders win, then there will be equal numbers of Republican and Democratic senators, and Kamala Harris, as vice-president-elect, will have the deciding vote.

Joe Biden’s Democrats already control the lower House of Representatives.

Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are due to visit Georgia on January 4 to campaign ahead of the elections.

On January 3, President Trump tweeted that Brad Raffensperger had not given details of the fraud the president alleges: “He has no clue!”

Brad Raffensperger tweeted back: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”

The White House has not commented on the release of the audio.

Image source Twitter

A Texas judge dismissed a lawsuit by Republican Louie Gohmert that aimed to give Vice President Mike Pence the power to overturn the results of the presidential election.

Lawyers for VP Pence had asked for the case to be thrown out on December 31.

Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, will oversee the session on January 6 and declare the winner of the White House race.

President-elect Joe Biden is due to take office on January 20.

President Donald Trump is yet to concede.

Louie Gohmert told Newsmax TV that he planned to appeal against the verdict.

President Trump’s friends and colleagues in the Republican party have presented dozens of legal challenges to the November outcome which delivered a decisive win to Joe Biden.

Joe Biden’s victory was announced after days of vote-counting that took longer than in recent years because of the huge number of postal ballots cast due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Donald Trump Continues to Deny Election Defeat

CISA Rejects Donald Trump’s Vote Fraud Claims

Trump Still Planning Legal Challenges in Key States

President Trump has made numerous unsubstantiated claims that Joe Biden’s win, which saw the president-elect gain 306 Electoral College votes to his rival’s 232, was fraudulent.

Congressman Gohmert’s case sought to allow VP Mike Pence to reject some Electoral College votes when they are ratified by Congress on January 6.

The vice-president presides over the vote certification in Congress in a ceremonial role that involves opening and tallying the envelopes containing Electoral College votes before announcing the result.

Gohmert’s case aimed to expand that role to allow VP Pence to cast judgment on the validity of the votes and potentially replace votes for Joe Biden with ones for Donald Trump.

Judge Jeremy Kernodle, who was appointed to the Texas court in 2018 by President Trump, rejected the case, saying it was based on speculative events.

On December 31, a lawyer from the DoJ representing Mike Pence urged Louie Gohmert to drop the case, suggesting that it was not the vice-president’s office that should be scrutinizing the outcome.

Although most Republicans in Congress are expected to vote in favor of certifying the results, a small number including Senator Josh Hawley, say they plan to object. But their vote is not expected to change the outcome.

Joe Biden is due to be sworn in as president on January 20 at a scaled-back ceremony with just 1,000 tickets available due to Covid-19 precautions.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has rejected calls from an unlikely alliance of President Donald Trump, congressional Democrats and some Republicans to boost coronavirus aid.

The House of Representatives, held by the Democrats, had voted to increase aid cheques to Americans to $2,000.

Dozens of House Republicans, reluctant to defy President Trump, backed the increase.

Republican Mitch McConnell’s objections mean there will not be a direct vote on a revised Covid aid bill in the Senate.

He said raising aid cheques would be “another fire hose of borrowed money”.

The move could in effect kill off President Trump’s demands for bigger cash handouts to help the economy recover.

Congress had initially agreed to the smaller $600 payments in a Covid relief and government funding bill.

President Trump sent that back to Capitol Hill before Christmas, saying the stimulus payment should be higher.

He eventually, and grudgingly, signed the original bill with the lower payments into law on December 27, but has continued to demand more money.

On December 28, House Democrats – usually sworn political foes of President Trump – passed the measure for $2,000 cheques that he requested.

The president tweeted on December 29: “Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2,000 payments ASAP.”

President Trump Threatens to Block Covid-19 Relief Bill

The total number of people who have died with Covid in the US stands at nearly 350,000. There are concerns that the figure could continue to surge following Christmas and New Year gatherings.

California meanwhile became the second state to confirm a case of the new strain of the virus, considered to be highly contagious. The first case of new variant of coronavirus was confirmed in Colorado.

Mitch McConnell rejected Democrats’ calls for the upper chamber to vote on the $2,000 cheques package passed by their counterparts in the House.

The Kentucky senator said the bill had “no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate”.

Speaking in the chamber on December 30, he said: “The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help.”

Instead Mitch McConnell offered to roll the proposal for bigger cheques into another bill to include other measures that have been requested by President Trump but raised objections from Democratic leaders.

One would end legal protection for tech companies, known as Section 230. The other would set up a bipartisan commission to investigate President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of systemic electoral fraud.

Democrats said Mitch McConnell’s proposal was merely a legislative poison pill designed to kill higher stimulus payments.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who votes with Democrats, said on the Senate floor: “All we are asking for is a vote. What is the problem?

“If you want to vote against $2,000 checks for your state, vote against it.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said: “What we’re seeing right now is leader McConnell trying to kill the cheques – the $2,000 cheques desperately needed by so many American families.”

The GOP usually professes an opposition to government spending as an article of faith, but some of its top conservative senators have rallied behind President Trump’s call for $2,000 cheques.

They include Marco Rubio of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri, both considered possible presidential contenders in 2024.

Spain is planning to set up a registry of people who refuse to be vaccinated against coronavirus and share it with other European Union nations, health minister Salvador Illa has said.

Salvador Illa said the list would not be made accessible to the public or to employers.

The health minister said the way to defeat the virus was “to vaccinate all of us – the more the better”.

Spain has been one of the countries in Europe worst affected by the virus.

The country is currently rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which was approved for EU member states last week.

In an interview with La Sexta TV on December 28, Salvador Illa emphasized that vaccination would not be mandatory.

He said: “What will be done is a registry, which will be shared with our European partners… of those people who have been offered it and have simply rejected it.

“It is not a document which will be made public and it will be done with the utmost respect for data protection.”

The health minister added: “People who are offered a therapy that they refuse for any reason, it will be noted in the register… that there is no error in the system, not to have given this person the possibility of being vaccinated.”

According to a recent poll, the number of Spanish citizens who have said they will not take the vaccine has fallen to 28% from 47% in November.

In other comments, Salvador Illa said people would be contacted by regional authorities when it was their turn to be inoculated.

He told reporters: “People who decide not to get vaccinated, which we think is a mistake, are within their rights.

 “We are going to try to solve doubts. Getting vaccinated saves lives, it is the way out of this pandemic.”

The number of people who have died from Covid-19 in Spain rose above the 50,000 on December 28. Spain has registered more than 1.8 million infections during the pandemic.

The country is under a nationwide curfew, between 23:00 and 06:00, until early May. In many places, people are only allowed out in that period to go to work, buy medicine, or to care for elderly people or children.

Spain’s regional leaders can modify curfew times and can also close regional borders for travel.

Image source Flickr

President Donald Trump failed to sign the Covid relief bill into law leaving millions of Americans without their unemployment benefits.

President-elect Joe Biden had warned of “devastating consequences” if President Trump continued to delay signing but the December 26 deadline has now passed.

Unemployment benefits and a ban on evictions will be affected.

The package worth $900 billion was approved by Congress after months of difficult negotiations and compromises.

President Trump says he wants to give people bigger one-off payments.

The bill includes the payment of $600 to Americans earning less than $75,000 a year.

President Trump Threatens to Block Covid-19 Relief Bill

President Trump says he wants Americans to receive $2,000 but Republicans in Congress refused to agree to the change.

In a tweet on December 26, President Trump again defended his position on the issue, blaming China for the coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus economic relief is part of a $2.3 trillion spending package that includes $1.4 trillion for normal federal government spending. A partial government shutdown will begin on December 29 unless legislators pass a stopgap bill before then – but this would not include coronavirus aid and President Trump would still have to sign it.

About 14 million Americans would be affected by a lapse in unemployment benefit payments and new stimulus cheques.

In a strongly worded statement published on the transition website on December 26, Joe Biden described President Trump’s refusal to sign the bill as an “abdication of responsibility”.

He said: “It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority.”

Joe Biden praised the example of members of Congress in compromising and reaching a bipartisan agreement, adding: “President Trump should join them, and make sure millions of Americans can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads in this holiday season.”

President Trump had reiterated his objection to the bill, saying: “I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill.”

The coronavirus aid relief bill – with the larger budget bill rolled in – overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives and Senate on December 21 but, a day later, President Trump issued an implied veto threat, describing the package as a “disgrace” full of “wasteful” items.

He baulked at the annual aid money for other countries in the federal budget, arguing that those funds should instead go to struggling Americans.

According to his schedule, President Trump spent Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida with his family, where he held “many meetings and calls”.

Image source: Nashville PD Twitter

A parked RV exploded in Nashville, Tennessee, early on Christmas morning, injuring three people and knocking out communications systems across the state.

Police believe the blast outside a telecoms building was caused deliberately.

Officers responding to reports of gunshots just before 06:00 found a RV broadcasting a warning message to leave the area.

The van exploded a few minutes later.

According to officials, a police officer was knocked off the feet by the force of the blast.

Police have now released this image of the van – described by Nashville police as a recreational vehicle – arriving at the scene on Christmas morning.

Nashville PD tweeted: “BREAKING: This is the RV that exploded on 2nd Ave N this morning. It arrived on 2nd Ave at 1:22 a.m. Have you seen this vehicle in our area or do you have information about it? Please contact us via Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463 or online via http://fbi.gov/nashville. @ATFHQ

The RV blew up outside a building belonging to the telecoms giant AT&T, which also occupies an office tower nearby.

Buildings suffered structural damage, windows were blown out, and trees felled. Videos posted on social media showed water from damaged pipes running down walls as alarms howled in the background.

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Police emergency systems were knocked out across much of Tennessee. Flights out of Nashville International Airport were briefly halted as a result of damage done by the blast but have now resumed.

No motive has yet been established, nor do police know who was behind the incident.

A number of people have been taken to the central police precinct for questioning, a spokesman told the Associated Press.

It was not clear whether anyone was inside the vehicle at the time of the explosion, police said.

The FBI is leading the investigation. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also involved.

The explosion hit an area of Nashville known for its restaurants and nightlife.

Police spokesman Don Aaron told reporters: “To this point, we do believe that the explosion was an intentional act.”

Surveillance video posted on YouTube appeared to show the moments before the explosion, when a warning was broadcast, saying: “If you can hear this message, evacuate now.”

A loud bang follows and flames and smoke fill the screen.

In a tweet Tennessee Governor Bill Lee pledged to supply “all of the resources needed” to investigate what happened and who was behind it.

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the matter.

President Donald Trump has urged Congress to amend a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill to more than triple its stimulus payments to Americans.

In a video message posted on Twitter, the president said the package “really is a disgrace”, full of “wasteful” items.

He said: “It’s called the Covid relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with Covid.”

The $900 billion bill includes one-off $600 payments to most Americans, but President Trump said the figure should be $2,000.

Republicans and Democrats have been negotiating a coronavirus stimulus rescue package since July and President Trump – who has largely stayed out of the talks – had been expected to sign the legislation into law following its passage through Congress on December 21.

The package of measures is linked to a bigger government spending bill, which includes foreign aid funding as well as a $1.4 trillion spending measure to fund federal agencies for the next nine months. Those agencies will have to shut if the president vetoes or refuses to sign it by midnight on December 28.

Most legislation that comes from Congress requires the approval of the president before becoming law. If the president rejects this bill, it would require at least a two-thirds majority in each chamber – the House of Representatives and the Senate – to override the veto.

However, President Trump has not specifically said he would veto the bill.

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While Congress has overridden fewer than 10% of all presidential vetoes, media say there could be enough votes from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to do so in this instance.

In December 22 message from the White House, President Trump baulked at spending in the bill on other countries, arguing that this money should go to struggling Americans.

He said: “This bill contains $85.5 million for assistance to Cambodia, $134 million to Burma, $1.3 billion for Egypt and the Egyptian military, which will go out and buy almost exclusively Russian military equipment, $25 million for democracy and gender programs in Pakistan, $505 million to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.”

President Trump questioned why the Kennedy Center, a performing arts complex in Washington DC, was set to receive $40 million when it is not open, and more than $1 billion has been allocated to museums and galleries in the capital.

He concluded: “Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests, while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it. It wasn’t their fault. It was China’s fault.

“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple.

“I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a Covid relief package.”

On December 21, congressional leaders unveiled a 5,593-page package and voted on it several hours later.

Several lawmakers protested that they had not been given an opportunity to read the contents.

Nevertheless the bill sailed through the House of Representatives by 359-53 and the Senate by 92-6.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Deborah Birx has resigned after it emerged she hosted a Thanksgiving gathering.

Deborah Birx, 64, cited the criticism she had faced for a family get-together over Thanksgiving in Delaware in her decision to step aside.

She said: “This experience has been a bit overwhelming.

“It’s been very difficult on my family.”

Dr. Birx had reportedly been seeking a job from President-elect Joe Biden.

A world-renowned AIDS researcher, Deborah Birx has worked in the US government since the Reagan administration.

In December 22, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted President Donald Trump’s good wishes, saying he “has great respect for Dr. Birx and likes her very much. We wish her well”.

In an interview with Newsy aired on December 22, a masked Dr. Birx did not specify when she would stand down, but said she would help the incoming Biden administration and “and then I will retire”.

Dr. Birx had urged Americans in the days before Thanksgiving to restrict gatherings to “your immediate household”.

But it emerged on December 20 she had travelled from Washington to one of her other properties, on Fenwick Island in Delaware, where she was joined by three generations of her family from two households.

While in Delaware, Dr. Birx did an interview with CBS in which she noted that some Americans had “made mistakes” over Thanksgiving by travelling and they “should assume they were infected”.

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The CDC, whose director has often joined Dr. Birx on the podium during briefings, has warned Americans not to travel over the holidays.

As the US coronavirus caseload surges, the CDC has also cautioned against indoor gatherings with people from different households.

Dr. Birx had insisted she went to the property in Delaware to prepare it for a potential sale, though she acknowledged sharing a meal with her family during the visit.

Explaining her decision to gather with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, Deborah Birx told Newsy: “My daughter hasn’t left that house in 10 months, my parents have been isolated for 10 months.

“They’ve become deeply depressed as I’m sure many elderly have as they’ve not been able to see their sons, their granddaughters.

“My parents have not been able to see their surviving son for over a year. These are all very difficult things.”

According to the Associated Press, Deborah Birx owns another home in Potomac, Maryland, where her parents live, and where she visits from time to time.

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Image source: AP

Joe Biden has received his first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine live on TV.

The president-elect said he was getting the vaccine to show Americans it is “safe to take”.

Joe Biden joins a growing number of political leaders getting the jab, including VP Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

On December 20, the roll-out began for a second vaccine, by Moderna, which was approved last week.

More than 500,000 Americans are said to have now been vaccinated.

Joe Biden said from Newark, Delaware, where he got the vaccine live on TV: “I’m doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared when it’s available to take the vaccine.

“There’s nothing to worry about.”

The president-elect said the Trump administration “deserves some credit” for launching the country’s vaccine program.

His wife, Jill Biden, received her first dose earlier in the day, the president-elect said.

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Joe Biden’s running mate, VP-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff are expected to receive their first shots next week.

The Biden team has set a goal of 100 million Covid-19 vaccinations during the administration’s first 100 days in the White House.

During the pandemic, the US has recorded more than 18 million cases and 319,000 deaths.

President Donald Trump, who spent three days in hospital with the coronavirus in October, has not said when he intends to get the vaccine.

He is now one of last of the country’s top elected officials to have not received the first of the course of two jabs.

President Trump wrote in a December 13 tweet: “I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time.”

Some of the president’s advisers have defended the delay, saying he is still protected by the treatments he received to beat the virus.

According to the CDC, roughly three million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been shipped and more than 500,000 Americans have been vaccinated so far.

On December 20, distribution of the Moderna vaccine began in the country too, with some six million vaccine doses available for immediate shipment.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Coronavirus cases are now rising fast again in the UK, driven by a mutated variant of the virus thought to be much more easily transmissible than other strains.

A further 33,364 confirmed cases have been announced by the government on December 21.

Dozens of countries have introduced UK travel restrictions following the identification of a new strain of coronavirus.

The week-long ban on travel to or from the UK begins on December 23 and applies to all travelers coming from the UK or who have been in the country over the past 10 days.

Some exceptions do apply, however, with Pakistani nationals in the UK on visitor or temporary visas permitted to return if they provide a negative test 72 hours before travel, undergo another test upon arrival and quarantine at home for seven days afterwards.

EU officials are discussing a joint response to the new, more infectious Covid-19 variant in the UK.

Canada and India joined European states in blocking flights from the UK while Europe-bound train services via the Channel Tunnel have been halted.

The new Covid strain is said to be up to 70% more transmissible, but there is no evidence that it is more deadly.

There is also no proof to suggest that it reacts differently to vaccines.

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Two meetings were taking place in Brussels on December 21 – one involving health ministers and another with the EU’s crisis response team. But no decision is expected until December 22, when EU ambassadors meet.

Countries that have introduced UK travel restrictions include:

  • Europe: France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Belgium, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Croatia, Finland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Luxembourg, Malta
  • North America: Canada
  • Latin America: Argentina, El Salvador, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador
  • Middle East: Turkey, Israel, Iran, Kuwait, Jordan. Saudi Arabia has also suspended all international flights for a week. Oman has closed all of its land, air and sea borders for a week
  • Africa: Morocco, Sudan
  • Asia: India, Pakistan, Hong Kong

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Image source Wikimedia

France’s President Emmanuel Macron is just the latest world leader to test positive for coronavirus.

Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) died on December 14, four weeks after he tested positive for Covid-19.

US President Donald Trump contracted the virus in October. He was given an experimental drug cocktail and returned to the White House after three nights in hospital.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda contracted the virus in October and went into self-isolation.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has spent two months in hospital in Germany after catching the disease in October – last week he appeared in video for the first time since testing positive, saying he hopes to return to Algeria soon.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei tested positive in September – despite calling himself “high-risk” he did not appear to suffer a severe case.

President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro,tested positive in July and spent more than two weeks quarantining in his residence.

In June, the outgoing President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, died of an illness suspected by many to be Covid-19.

Russia’s PM Mikhail Mishustin contracted the virus in April and was admitted to hospital with moderate to severe symptoms.

UK PM Boris Johnson tested positive in March – he spent three nights in intensive care in a London hospital, later saying he owed the health workers there his life.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

French President Emmanuel Macron has been diagnosed with Covid-19 after developing symptoms.

Emmanuel Macron, 42, will now self-isolate for seven days, the Elysée Palace said in a statement.

The president “is still in charge” of running the country and will work remotely, said an official.

EU chief Charles Michel and Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez are both self-isolating after coming into contact with President Macron on December 14.

France this week imposed an overnight curfew to help deal with soaring cases there.

There have been 2 million confirmed cases in France since the coronavirus epidemic began, with more than 59,400 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The Elysée Palace said in a statement on December 17: “The President of the Republic has been diagnosed positive for Covid-19 today.”

The diagnosis was made following a “test performed at the onset of the first symptoms”.

It is not yet known how President Macron caught the virus but his office said it was identifying any close contacts he has made in recent days.

PM Jean Castex, 55, and Parliament Speaker Richard Ferrand, 58, are both self-isolating, their offices confirmed.

Jean Castex, who is not showing any symptoms, was due to introduce the government’s Covid vaccination policy in the Senate on December 17 – now Health Minister Olivier Véran is doing it instead.

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Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez, 48, and EU chief Charles Michel, 44, are both self-isolating after meeting the French president for lunch on December 14.

The Spanish prime minister’s office said he would be tested.

Emmanuel Macron’s wife Brigitte, who is 67, is also self-isolating, but has no symptoms.

President Macron is one of several world leaders who have contracted the respiratory disease since the pandemic began. Most notably, President Donald Trump tested positive in October, which led to him spending three days in hospital.

UK’s PM Boris Johnson also caught the virus and ended up in intensive care during the country’s first wave in March.

Earlier this week, France eased national lockdown restrictions imposed to tackle its second wave of the pandemic. However, infection rates still remain high and a daily 20:00-06:00 curfew was imposed. The new measures have forced restaurants, cafes, theatres and cinemas to close.

On December 16, France registered more than 17,700 new cases.

Emmanuel Macron has not tested positive for the virus before, sources have told Le Figaro.

The news website said: “His wife, the first lady Brigitte Macron, had already been a contact person [for Covid-19] a few months before but the presidential couple had until now managed to avoid contracting the virus.”

A presidential spokeswoman confirmed that all of Emmanuel Macron’s upcoming trips, including a visit to Lebanon on December 22, have been canceled.

Image source: Getty Images

Joe Biden’s presidential election victory was confirmed by the US Electoral College.

In a speech after the announcement, the president-elect said US democracy had been “pushed, tested and threatened” and “proved to be resilient, true and strong”.

He condemned President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the result.

Later Russian President Vladimir Putin became one of the last world leaders to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory.

Moscow had said it would wait for the official results before doing so. Most other national leaders contacted Joe Biden days after the vote on November 3.

Confirmation by the Electoral College was one of the steps required for Joe Biden to take office.

Democrat Joe Biden won November’s contest with 306 Electoral College votes to Republican Donald Trump’s 232.

Donald Trump, who shows few signs of conceding, has not commented. Shortly after the Electoral College’s vote, the president announced on Twitter the departure of Attorney General William Barr, who had said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election, despite President Trump’s claims.

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Speaking in Delaware, Joe Biden praised “ordinary men and women” who had refused to be bullied, referring to the president’s efforts to question and overturn the results, involving legal challenges which have been rejected by courts across the country.

He described the efforts as “a position so extreme we’ve never seen it before”.

“Respecting the will of the people is at the heart of our democracy, even when we find those results hard to accept,” he said.

“The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago,” he added.

“And we know that nothing not even a pandemic or an abuse of power can extinguish that flame.”

Joe Biden said it was time to “turn the page, as we’ve done throughout our history, to unite, to heal”.

But he warned that, with the coronavirus pandemic continuing to ravage the US, there would be difficult months ahead.

“There is urgent work in front of us,” Joe Biden said.

“Getting this pandemic under control and getting the nation vaccinated against this virus.”

Joe Biden stressed the importance of immediate economic help that was “so badly needed by so many Americans who are hurting today” and rebuilding the economy to be “better than it ever was”.

He was speaking as the coronavirus death toll in the US rose above 300,000.

Normally the electors do not get that much attention but this year, after uncertainty generated by a raft of challenges to results in Democrat-won states by the Trump campaign, the state-by-state vote was in the spotlight.

Solidly Democrat California, with its 55 electors, was one of the last states to vote on December 14 and took Joe Biden across the 270-vote threshold required to win the presidency.

Heightened security had been put in place in some states, including Michigan and Georgia, ahead of voting, which took place in state capitals and Washington DC.

In Michigan – a key swing state Joe Biden won – legislative offices in the state capital Lansing were closed due to “credible” threats of violence.

The vote at the capitol building went ahead peacefully although a group of Republicans tried to enter the building to hold their own vote and were turned away.

Joe Biden has vowed 100 million Covid-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days in office.

The president-elect said his first months in office would not end the outbreak and gave few details on a rollout plan but he said he would change the course of Covid-19.

Introducing his health team for when he takes office on January 20, Joe Biden urged Americans to “mask up for 100 days”.

On December 8, a report paved the way for a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be approved and rolled out for Americans.

Emergency authorization for its use could be issued by the FDA on December 10, with the country’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci saying mass vaccination could start as soon as next week.

Also on December 8, President Donald Trump attended a summit at the White House of his Covid-19 vaccination program, Operation Warp Speed, and hailed the expected approval of vaccines. His administration hopes to vaccinate as many as 24 million people by mid-January.

According to Johns Hopkins University research, the US has recorded more than 15 million cases so far and 285,000 deaths, both global highs.

Many parts of the US are seeing peak infections, with record numbers of people in hospital, with some experts blaming travel by millions over the recent Thanksgiving holiday.

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At a news conference in Delaware on December 8, Joe Biden laid out how he plans to address the pandemic in his first 100 days in office. That period is traditionally seen as a benchmark for new presidents to make their mark with new policies and ideas.

He vowed to get “at least 100 million Covid vaccine shots into the arms of the American people”.

Last week, Joe Biden complained he had been given no rollout plans by the Trump administration. Operation Warp Speed’s top scientist Moncef Slaoui has still to meet the Biden team and is expected to do so this week.

Getting children back to school would also be a priority, he said.

Joe Biden also introduced California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as his nomination for health secretary and his choice of Rochelle Walensky as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Among his other aides will be Dr. Anthony Fauci as chief Covid medical adviser. The expert also advised the Trump team and often fell foul of the president for his views.

Getting 100 million vaccines to Americans in just over three months is not expected to be easy. The large geographical size of the US and the logistics of rolling out a new vaccine could present challenges in achieving the goal.

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Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for Covid-19, the president has announced.

The president tweeted: “Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!”

Rudy Giuliani, who has been leading the Trump campaign’s legal challenges to the 2020 election results, is the latest person in the president’s inner circle to be infected.

President Trump and his team have been criticized for shunning safety guidance. He got ill in October.

Nearly 14.6 million people have been infected with Covid-19 in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University, and 281,234 people have died – the highest figures of any country in the world.

On December 6, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force co-ordinator, criticized the Trump administration for flouting guidelines and peddling “myths” about the pandemic.

She told NBC: “I hear community members parroting back those situations, parroting back that masks don’t work, parroting back that we should work towards herd immunity.”

“This is the worst event that this country will face,” she said.

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Rudy Giuliani, 76, has not commented publicly on his diagnosis.

It is not clear whether the former New York mayor is experiencing symptoms, whether he is self-isolating or when he caught the virus.

Since the November 3 election, Rudy Giuliani has travelled the country as part of efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s election defeat. During many of his events, he was seen without a face mask and ignoring social distancing.

On December 3, he travelled to Georgia where he repeated unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud at a Senate committee hearing about election security.

Dozens of people in Trump’s orbit are said to have tested positive for Covid-19 since October, including his chief of staff Mark Meadows and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

First Lady Melania Trump and sons Donald Jr. and Baron also contracted the virus.

President Trump’s own diagnosis upended his unsuccessful campaign for a second term in office, less than a month before he faced Joe Biden in the presidential election.

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President-elect Joe Biden has announced he will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office to curtail the spread of coronavirus.

Joe Biden told CNN he believed there would be a “significant reduction” in Covid-19 cases if every American wore a face covering.

He also said he would order masks to be worn in all government buildings.

The US has recorded 14.1 million cases and 276,000 deaths from Covid-19 – the highest of any country in the world.

Joe Biden is preparing to take office as pharmaceutical giants are poised to ship millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines to the American public.

In his first joint interview with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris since the election, Joe Biden said: “The first day I’m inaugurated to say I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days.

“And I think we’ll see a significant reduction if we occur that, if that occurs with vaccinations and masking to drive down the numbers considerably.” 

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The first 100 days of a new presidency is symbolically important in the US and is seen as a gauge of how a president will get things done.

However, constitutional experts say the president has no legal authority to order Americans to wear masks, but Joe Biden said during the interview he and his Vice-President Kamala Harris would set an example by donning face coverings.

The president’s executive authority does cover US government property, and Joe Biden told CNN he intended to exercise such power.

He said: “I’m going to issue a standing order that in federal buildings you have to be masked.”

He added: “Transportation, interstate transportation, you must be masked, airplanes and buses, et cetera.”

US airlines, airports and most public transit systems already require all passengers and workers to wear face coverings.

The Trump administration has rejected calls from American health experts to mandate masks in transportation as “overly restrictive”.

The DoJ is looking into claims that lobbyists have tried to use bribes to secure a presidential pardon from President Donald Trump, unsealed court papers show.

They say that in August investigators began investigating a “secret lobbying scheme” possibly involving attempts to contact White House officials.

The redacted filings do not give any names, but the DoJ says no government official is being probed.

President Trump tweeted: “Pardon investigation is Fake News!”

It is common for outgoing presidents to use their right to issue pardons, which wipe out convictions.

Donald Trump – who is due to leave office in January, although he is still contesting his election defeat in the courts – has used the procedure a number of times.

Last week, President Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

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Meanwhile, media say President Trump has been discussing the possibility of pardoning family members.

The document released by a federal court in Washington DC on December 1 relates to a request by the DoJ to use emails and other communications seized in a bribery-for-pardon inquiry.

The data, prosecutors say in the paper, points to potential “criminal activity”.

According to prosecutors, individuals – whose identities are redacted – appear to have “acted as lobbyists to senior White House officials without complying with the registration requirements” for such activity.

Their aim, according to the papers, may have been to secure “a pardon or reprieve of sentence” for another unidentified individual.

According to the documents, prosecutors in August sought a court order “so that the investigative team [could] access” the communications and confront the suspects.

It is unknown who the people targeted were.

On December 1, the DoJ said: “No government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing.”

According to the Pew Research Center, President Trump has so far been less enthusiastic in using his right to grant clemency than any of his recent predecessors.

President Barack Obama, whom Donald Trump replaced in 2013, granted 212 pardons and 1,715 commutations – the most since President Harry Truman in the 1940s and 1950s.

Image source: Getty Images

Dr. Scott Atlas, President Donald Trump’s controversial special adviser on the coronavirus, has resigned.

Thanking President Trump for the honor of serving the American people, Dr. Atlas said he had “always relied on the latest science and evidence without any political consideration or influence”.

During his four months in the role, Dr. Atlas questioned the need for masks and other measures to control the pandemic.

He also repeatedly clashed with other members of the coronavirus task force.

Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist and senior fellow at Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institution, joined the task force in August. As well as questioning the usefulness of masks he was against lockdowns and supported herd immunity as a strategy to deal with the outbreak.

He sparked further controversy last month when he tweeted “people rise up” in response to new restrictions imposed in Michigan.

Dr. Atlas’ tweet came just weeks after it emerged Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was the subject of an alleged kidnapping attempt by militia members opposed to virus mitigation efforts.

Public health officials – including top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci – had accused Dr. Atlas of giving President Trump misleading information about the spread of the virus.

As of November 29, the number of Covid-19 cases recorded in November in the US surpassed four million, double the figure recorded in October.

Academics at Stanford University welcomed Dr. Atlas’ resignation, saying it was “long overdue and underscores the triumph of science and truth over falsehoods and misinformation”.

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Fox News said Dr. Atlas had joined the administration on a 130-day contract, which was set to expire this week.

In his resignation letter, carried by Fox, Dr. Atlas said his advice had “always focused on minimizing all the harms from both the pandemic and the structural policies themselves, especially to the working class and poor”.

He also spoke of the “free exchange of ideas that lead to scientific truths”, adding: “Indeed, I cannot think of a time where safeguarding science and the scientific debate is more urgent.”

President-elect Joe Biden has taken a markedly different stance to his predecessor, urging everyone to wear masks and pledging a bedrock of science to his policy on tackling the pandemic.