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Trump rails at judges as another court rejects his lawyers' claims of voter fraud - The Guardian
President phoned into Fox News to blame the courts for his campaign’s so far unsuccessful legal challenges
A day after Pennsylvanias highest court had thrown out a lower courts order preventing the state from certifying results from the 3 November US elections, Donald Trump blasted the judges decision. Saturdays case which had attempted to throw out 2.5m mail in votes in the crucial state was the latest of dozens of failed lawsuits by Trumps lawyers, with judges castigating his lawyers for failing to present evidence of fraud. With states certifying results, Trump has an ever dwindling route to contest the election as Joe Biden pushes on with preparations for his inauguration as president on 20 January and recruits the team for his administration. However, on Sunday in his first media appearance since losing the presidential contest to his Democratic rival, the president phoned into Fox News to blame the courts for his campaigns so far unsuccessful legal challenges, which are based on a series of debunked conspiracies alleging widespread voter fraud. Were not allowed to put in our proof. They say you dont have standing, Trump told Foxs Sunday Morning Futures. We have affidavits, we have hundreds and hundreds of affidavits, Trump added, noting hed file one nice, big beautiful lawsuit without providing any details on the supposed tremendous proof attorneys have. In the 20 days since polls closed, Republicans and Trump campaign officials have leaned into claims, without evidence, that some states allowed voters to turn in ballots after election day. His interview comes after weeks of legal challenges from the Trump campaign in battleground states including Pennsylvania, where the underlying lawsuit was filed months after the law allowed for challenges to Pennsylvanias year-old mail-in voting law. The defeat on Saturday followed Fridays decision by a federal appeals court to dismiss a separate challenge to the Pennsylvania result and back a district judge who likened the presidents evidence-free and error-strewn lawsuit to Frankensteins monster. The presidents legal team, led by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, had also demanded recounts in states like Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan, alleging that vote-counting machines were rigged in an elaborate scheme in which even the justice department, FBI and the federal court system were complicit. But none of these claims are true. In fact, Trumps own legal team has never formally challenged elections results in any state court under through substantiated claims of fraud. According to the Washington Post, the last-ditch effort has attorneys within the campaign describing Trumps legal advisor as increasingly deranged. One close adviser told to The Postthat Trump was like Mad King George going around the White House muttering, I won. I won. I won. Meanwhile, Milwaukee county completed its recount and certified its results on Friday, just 10 days after the Trump campaign filed a recount request for there and Dane county, the states two Democratic strongholds with large Black populations. After nearly 400 uncounted ballots were found, Biden actually increased his margin of victory gaining an 257 additional votes to the presidents 125 additional votes. Once Dane county certifies its results, the state will move forward in its final certification process. In response, Trump tweeted that the recount was not an effort to find mistakes in the tally, but about finding people who have voted illegally again invoking discredited conspiracies that his campaign has found many illegal votes. The outgoing president has yet to concede the 2020 election, even as Biden, now president-elect, announces cabinet appointments and his agenda for his first 100 days in office. After Biden crossed the 80m-vote threshold a more than 6m vote lead Trump demanded Biden prove that the votes he received in the election were not illegally obtained, which there is no legal requirement of any winning official to do before taking office. There have been a number or reports, based on anonymous official sources, that Trump is weighing up a run in the 2024 presidential election, including a report by the Daily Beast that he is thinking of announcing his campaign during Bidens inauguration.
Mystery metal monolith vanishes from Utah desert - The Guardian
Metal structure that prompted multiple theories about how it came to be was removed by ‘an unknown party’, officials say
The tall, shiny, metal structure, now famously known as a monolith was discovered in Utah last week, and had prompted multiple theories about how it had come to be there ranging from TV show set leftover, to art work, to aliens. But now, almost as mysteriously as it appeared, it has been removed by what local officials called an unknown party. [We] did not remove the structure which is considered private property, A Bureau of Land Management spokesperson said in a statement. The structure has received international and national attention and we received reports that a person or group removed it on the evening of 27 Nov. The bureau added it will not investigate crimes involving private property as they are handled by the local sheriffs office. The Utah Department of Public Safety, whose helicopter crew first discovered the installation on 18 November during a count of bighorn sheep, initially declined to reveal the structures location. A number of thrill-seeking visitors, however, had since found it located just east off Canyonlands National Park. By the time adventurers Riccardo Marino and Sierra Van Meter went to the spot late Friday night to get some photos, it was no longer there. All that was left in its place was a message written in the dirt that said bye bitch with a fresh pee stain right next to it, Marino posted to instagram. Someone had just stolen the statue, and we were the first to arrive at the scene. Marino said they saw a pickup truck with a large object in its bed driving in the opposite direction shortly before they got there. A Reddit user also found the structure, which many believed to be abstract art, had been formerly removed. The objects origins remain unknown but Bret Hutchings, the helicopter pilot who discovered it, estimated it to be between 10ft and 12ft high (about three metres). One of the biologists spotted it, and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it, Hutchings told local KSL. He was like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around! And I was like, What. And hes like, Theres this thing back there weve got to go look at it! Some have compared the art to minimalist sculptors, including the late John McCracken. A spokesperson for his gallerist, David Zwirner, told the Guardian earlier this week it was not one of McCrackens works. He later told the New York Times, however, it could in fact be by the artist. Since its disappearance, visitors have begun stacking rocks around the site, along with the top piece that was left behind.
Iranian nuclear chief's body prepared for burial as anger focused on Israel and US - The Guardian
Newspaper publishes comment urging retaliation with strike on Haifa that ‘causes heavy human casualties’
The body of Irans most senior nuclear scientist has been prepared for burial as anger at Israel and the US boiled over in the country following his assassination last week. Mohsen Fakhrizadehs coffin, draped in the Iranian flag and topped with flowers, was transported to a Muslim shrine for prayers and last tributes, the countrys state news reported. His remains will be taken from the Imam Reza shrine to Fatima Masumehs shrine in Qom, south of Tehran, and then to Imam Khomeinis shrine in the capital, according to the defence ministry. Fakhrizadeh was killed on Friday on a highway near the capital in a military-style gun and bomb assault that has led to an escalation of tensions in the Middle East. A bodyguard was also killed in the attack. High-ranking military commanders and his family will attend Fakhrizadehs funeral, Irans defence ministry said on its website. Israel has not claimed responsibility or officially commented on the attack. However, Tehran has long blamed its arch-foe Israel for killing several of its nuclear scientists, with Fakhrizadeh considered the most senior, having founded the Islamic Republics nuclear programme in the early 2000s. Irans supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has promised a definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered it, putting Israel on alert for a potential military response in the coming days. Fakhrizadehs coffin at the Imam Reza shrine. Photograph: Wana News Agency/Reuters An opinion piece published by a hardline Iranian newspaper on Sunday suggested that Iran should attack Haifa, a port city in northern Israel. The Kayhan newspaper published an opinion piece by an Iranian analyst, Sadollah Zarei, who suggested a strike that destroys facilities and also causes heavy human casualties. Such an attack would be an effective deterrent, he said, because the United States and the Israeli regime and its agents are by no means ready to take part in a war and a military confrontation. Iran has attacked Israeli targets overseas. Its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, has also conducted strikes during previous rounds of heightened hostility. Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Irans parliamentary speaker, said on Sunday that Irans enemies must be made to regret the killing. The criminal enemy does not regret it except with a strong reaction, he said in a broadcast on Iranian state radio. While Iran claims that its nuclear programme is non-military and focused on energy, Fakhrizadeh was the subject of US sanctions; Israels prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has accused him of leading a secret atomic weapons operation. The timing of the attack has led to suggestions that Israel, possibly with Donald Trumps support, is attempting to stop any future attempt by the incoming president, Joe Biden, to reconcile with Iran. To Israels dismay, Biden has said he is willing to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal abandoned by Trump and lift some economic sanctions if Iran comes back into compliance with the agreement. Ben Rhodes, who was deputy national security adviser when Biden was vice-president to Barack Obama, did not suggest who was to blame for this killing but criticised it as an outrageous action aimed at undermining diplomacy between an incoming US administration and Iran. All future UN inspections of Irans nuclear sites should be ended as a result of the assassination of Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian parliament agreed unanimously on Sunday. The response suggests the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, already breached by Iran by breaking the agreed limits on enriched uranium stockpiles, is going to come under severe pressure in the coming weeks as Iran responds to the attack. The parliament said in a reference to Israel that what it described as the hand of the murderous Zionist regime could be clearly seen in the assassination. Tehran said those that thought negotiation with the US was the right path had been proved wrong. The parliament said Iran should withdraw from so-called additional protocol the measure that gives the UN weapons inspectors from the IAEA access to Irans nuclear sites. Such a move would probably be regarded as the effective end of the nuclear deal by its three European signatories: Germany, France and the UK. Iranian hardliners have long argued that Israeli spies operate within the IAEA inspectorate. Parliament met in closed session on Saturday to hear an intelligence report on how the assassination happened, and to update on progress with the investigation. Sundays statement of its own creates no legal duty on either the Iranian government or the countrys Atomic Energy Organization, but members of parliament are finalising a bill on the strategic act to revoke sanctions to create that obligation. Numerous Iran military and political officials have said Iran will not respond militarily to the assassination at this stage since it would play into the hands of those in Israel and the US wanting to foment a war in the middle east before Trump stands down in January. But Iran is debating whether the assassination has shown diplomatic negotiations with the Biden administration will be pointless. The former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted: The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was reckless, provocative, and illegal. As a new administration takes power, it was clearly intended to undermine US-Iran diplomacy. We must not allow that to happen. Diplomacy, not murder, is the best path forward. Biden has not yet commented, but his allies say he remains committed to the US rejoining the nuclear deal. The UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, during an interview on Sky said the UK had no evidence on the responsibility for the attack, saying: We are still waiting to see the full facts of what happened in Iran but I would say that we stick to the rules of international military law, which is very clear against targeting civilians. On Saturday the Iranian Ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad, urged the UK government to unreservedly condemn the assassination of Fakhrizadeh, saying he was a dedicated scientist and said the attack was a clear violation of the international law as well as human rights values and standards. Raab said he was willing to meet Iranian leaders to discuss a way forward. He said: There is an opportunity to look at the JCPOA [the Iran deal] again with the Biden administration, but there are a series of choices for them to go further and further down the track with its non-compliance with its obligations under the nuclear deal, and we will be, right up to Christmas, I will be meeting with my colleagues, also with Iran, if they are willing to come into the tent, to make sure we hold them to account but also to try and find a peaceful path through. Javad Zarif, Irans foreign minister, defended the negotiation of the nuclear deal predicting some of the unnecessary tensions in US-Iranian relations could be removed under Biden. Trump, he said, had contracted Americas Middle East policy to Netanyahu, creating the worst era in US-Iran relations in 40 years. Agence France-Presse contributed to this report
Pennsylvania supreme court throws out Republican bid to reject 2.5m mail-in votes - The Guardian
Judge says plaintiff ‘failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted’
Pennsylvanias highest court has thrown out a lower courts order that was preventing the state from certifying dozens of contests from the 3 November election. In the latest Republican lawsuit attempting to thwart president-elect Joe Bidens victory in the battleground state, the state supreme court unanimously threw out the three-day-old order, saying the underlying lawsuit was filed months after the law allowed for challenges to Pennsylvanias year-old mail-in voting law. Justices also remarked on the lawsuits staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. They have failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted, justice David Wecht wrote in a concurring opinion. The states attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, called the courts decision another win for democracy. The week-old lawsuit, led by Pennsylvania Republican congressman Mike Kelly, had challenged the states mail-in voting law as unconstitutional. As a remedy, Kelly and other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5m mail-in ballots submitted under the law most of them by Democrats or to wipe out the election results and direct the states Republican-controlled legislature to pick Pennsylvanias presidential electors. The request for the states lawmakers to pick Pennsylvanias presidential electors also flies in the face of a nearly century-old state law, which grants the power to pick electors to the states popular vote, Wecht wrote. While the high courts two Republicans joined the five Democrats in opposing those remedies, they split from Democrats in suggesting that the lawsuits underlying claims that the states mail-in voting law might violate the constitution are worth considering. On Wednesday, commonwealth court judge Patricia McCullough, elected as a Republican in 2009, had issued the order to halt certification of any remaining contests, including apparently contests for Congress. A day earlier, Democratic governor Tom Wolf said he had certified Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election in Pennsylvania. Biden beat president Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Wolf had appealed McCulloughs decision to the state supreme court, saying there was no conceivable justification for it. The defeat followed Fridays decision by a federal appeals court to to dismiss a separate challenge to the Pennsylvania result and back a district judge who likened likened the presidents evidence-free and error-strewn lawsuit to Frankensteins monster. The three-member federal panel confirmed unanimously a lower courts decision last week to rebuff the arguments made by Trumps legal team, led by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, that voting in Pennsylvania was marred by widespread fraud. Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here, judge Stephanos Bibas wrote for the 3rd US circuit court of appeals. The judge denounced as breathtaking a Republican request to reverse certification of the vote, adding: Voters, not lawyers, choose the president. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections. [The] campaigns claims have no merit. The ruling, which was the Trump teams 38th court defeat in election lawsuits nationwide, reaffirmed US district judge Matthew Branns earlier view of Giulianis complaint, delivered after he listened to five hours of oral arguments last week. The lawsuit, Brann said, was: like Frankensteins Monster haphazardly stitched together. with Associated Press
Tony Hsieh, 'visionary' behind Zappos shoe retailer, dies aged 46 - The Guardian
The Illinois-born entrepreneur, who helped revitalize downtown Las Vegas, died ‘peacefully’ after being injured in a house fire
Tony Hsieh, the visionary developer of online shoe retailer Zappos who spearheaded the transformation of downtown Las Vegas in recent years, has died at the age of 46. According to his lawyer Puoy Premsrirut, Hsieh was injured in a house fire in Connecticut while visiting relatives over Thanksgiving. He died on Friday peacefully and surrounded by family, according to a statement from DTP Companies, the organization he founded in 2012 as an umbrella for the revitalization program. A DTP spokeswoman, Megan Fazio, gave no other details of the incident, but paid tribute to Hsieh, who retired from Zappos in August after 21 years as its chief executive. Tonys kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him and forever brightened the world, the statement said. Delivering happiness was always his mantra, so instead of mourning his transition, we ask you to join us in celebrating his life. Hsieh, who was born in Illinois to Taiwanese parents, was an internet pioneer, developing a banner advertisement company in 1996 soon after graduating from Harvard University with a degree in computer science. The sale of LinkExchange to Microsoft allowed him to become a venture capitalist for technology startups, including Zappos, which he and Harvard classmate Alfred Lin transformed from a small business selling shoes online to a $1.2bn company by the time of its acquisition by Amazon in 2019. Hsieh remained chief executive for another year, but his passions lay elsewhere, particularly efforts to transform downtown Las Vegas into a cutting edge 21st-century city at the heart of the technological revolution. He invested $350m of his money into DTP Companies, which in turn attracted a wealth of entertainment, dining and housing projects to previously rundown areas of the city. Supporting his city and the people within it, Tony Hsieh changed the landscape of downtown Las Vegas, hotelier Derek Stevens said on Twitter. Our community will miss him greatly, rest in peace. I will miss him greatly. Tony Hawk, the skateboard star who also became an entrepreneurial investor, called Hsieh a true pioneer. [He] was a visionary. He was generous with his time and willing to share his invaluable expertise with anyone. And he was very, very cool, Hawk wrote. Hsieh, who moved Zappos to Nevada in 2013, resided primarily in downtown Las Vegas, and owned a country retreat in the Southern Highlands development south of the city popular with celebrities and sports professionals. His 2010 book Delivering Happiness spent more than half a year at the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.
Ethiopian military shelling Tigray capital, reports say - The Guardian
TPLF leader says Mekelle under heavy bombardment and aid workers witness explosions
Ethiopian federal forces have reportedly used heavy artillery to bombard Mekelle, the capital of the northern region of Tigray, with shells hitting the outskirts of the city of 500,000. The reports of new violence around Mekelle on Saturday come almost a week after Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister, told the leadership and forces of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, the ruling party in the restive region, to surrender or face an assault on their stronghold. Debretsion Gebremichael, the leader of the TPLF, told Reuters in text messages the city was under heavy bombardment and that the Ethiopian military was using artillery. Aid workers in Mekelle said explosions had been seen and heard from around 10am, though it was unclear whether artillery or air strikes were responsible. Billene Seyoum, a spokesperson for the prime ministers office, denied the claim, saying the Ethiopian National Defence Forces do not have a mission to bombard its own city and people. [Mekelle] remains one of Ethiopias key cities and the efforts to bring to justice the criminal clique will not entail discriminatory bombardment as alluded by TPLF and their propagandists, Seyoum said. In recent days, Ethiopian federal forces have reinforced their positions in a rough ring around Mekelle, at a distance of 20-40km. This would put the city within range of heavy artillery firing at its maximum range at some points. Fighting over the last week has included clashes on ridge lines, mountain passes and key road junctions, with heavy casualties reported. With communications to Tigray cut off, it is difficult to confirm information and conflicting claims. Earlier this week, military officials warned of no mercy if residents of Mekelle did not distance themselves from the TPLF. On Friday, Ahmed said he remained determined to continue the military offensive launched three weeks ago in Tigray, and to enforce the rule of law in the region and the country. The 44-year-old leader, who won the Nobel peace prize last year, promised that civilians would be protected. In practice, however, it is difficult to see how civilian casualties can be avoided in any bombardment of, or fighting in, Mekelle. Western diplomats in the region and observers said Abiy might be reluctant to order an all-out attack on Mekelle, which would be costly for Ethiopian troops and civilians, and could swing international opinion against him. One said: So far, the Ethiopians have withheld all the pressure from the UN, the US, the pope, the African Union, whoever but that would get much harder if they go all out in Mekelle. But then [Abiy] cant back down either. So some shelling or air strikes for the moment is a compromise. The state-affiliated Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said the federal forces had identified key TPLF hideouts across Mekelle, including an auditorium and a museum. Government planes have dropped leaflets on the city warning inhabitants to stay out of harms way. Some residents have fled, with satellite images revealing lengthy queues of vehicles at petrol stations earlier in the week. The International Crisis Group said: A humanitarian catastrophe could unfold in Mekelle . Entering a heavily populated city would exact an enormous, intolerable toll on civilians [and] badly damage Ethiopias international repute. Analysts are sceptical that the TPLF high command, who withdrew to Tigray earlier this year as tensions with central government escalated, remains in Mekelle, but is likely to have scattered into remote hiding places. Abiy met envoys sent by the African Union to mediate an end to the crisis on Friday, but they have not been permitted to travel to meet representatives of the TPLF and gave no sign that the national government was contemplating a ceasefire or negotiations. The TPLF renewed a call for talks on Friday. Tigray is ravaged by war an immediate cessation [of hostilities] is of paramount importance, Getachew Reda, a political adviser to the leader of the TPLF, said. Ethiopian officials have made clear they do not recognise the TPLF as a legitimate negotiating partner. A statement from Abiys office said: Failure to enforce the rule of law [in Tigray] would nurture a culture of impunity in [Ethiopia] with devastating consequences. Abiy launched the military campaign on 4 November, accusing the TPLF of attacking federal military camps in Tigray and seeking to destabilise the country. The Ethiopian human rights commission has also blamed TPLF-linked militia for a massacre of many hundreds of labourers from the neighbouring Amhara region in Tigray. The TPLF denies the charges, saying they are concocted by the government as a pretext to launch a military operation to end its rule in Tigray. The party says it is defending its legitimate rights under Ethiopias devolved constitutional system. Ethiopian authorities have made some concessions to international pressure, offering to set up a humanitarian corridor to allow aid to reach the tens of thousands who have been displaced by fighting, and much larger numbers who are suffering from the disruption of supplies of food, fuel and medicine. Western diplomats and humanitarian officials said the promises were welcome but that nothing had changed on the ground. It is encouraging to hear these kinds of things but until there is actual movement to allow aid into Tigray then they dont mean a lot, one said. There are serious issues with the idea of setting up a humanitarian corridor under government control. Last week the UN said shortages were very critical in Tigray, with fuel and cash running out. Food for nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea will be gone in a week, according to a report released overnight, and more than 600,000 people who rely on monthly food rations have not received them this month. Fuel is crucial because electricity is cut in much of the region, making diesel-powered generators essential.
Joe Biden gains votes in Wisconsin county after Trump-ordered recount - The Guardian
Milwaukee recount, which cost Trump campaign $3m, boosts Democratic president-elect days before state must certify result
A recount in Wisconsins largest county demanded by President Donald Trumps election campaign ended on Friday with the president-elect, Joe Biden, gaining votes. After the recount in Milwaukee county, Biden made a net gain of 132 votes, out of nearly 460,000 cast. Overall, the Democrat gained 257 votes to Trumps 125. Trumps campaign had demanded recounts in two of Wisconsins most populous and Democratic-leaning counties, after he lost Wisconsin to Biden by more than 20,000 votes. The two recounts will cost the Trump campaign $3m. Dane county is expected to finish its recount on Sunday. Overall, Biden won the 3 November US presidential election with 306 electoral college votes to Trumps 232. Biden also leads by more than 6m in the popular vote tally. After the recount ended, the Milwaukee county clerk, George Christenson, said: The recount demonstrates what we already know: that elections in Milwaukee county are fair, transparent, accurate and secure. The Trump campaign is still expected to mount a legal challenge to the overall result in Wisconsin, but time is running out. The state is due to certify its presidential result on Tuesday. On Friday, Trumps legal team suffered yet another defeat when a federal appeals court in Philadelphia rejected the campaigns latest effort to challenge the states election results. Trumps lawyers vowed to appeal to the supreme court despite the Philadelphia judges assessment that the campaigns claims have no merit. Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here, Judge Stephanos Bibas wrote for the three-judge panel. With Reuters and Associated Press
Trump's baseless claims of Georgia voter fraud spark fears among Republicans - The Guardian
Trump’s party worries his comments could depress GOP turnout in key Senate runoff elections
Despite giving his strongest hints yet that he is coming to accept his loss of the White House to challenger Joe Biden, Donald Trumps continuing reluctance to leave office and baseless claims about electoral fraud are increasingly worrying his own party. In particular, Republicans are concerned that the chaos caused by Trumps stance and his false comments on the conduct of the election in the key swing state of Georgia, which Biden won for the Democrats, could hinder his partys efforts to retain control of the Senate. Control of the key upper chamber of the US Congress hangs in the balance as runoff races for the states two Senate seats play out over the remainder of 2020, with an election scheduled in early January. If Democrats win those seats, they grab the Senate while if Republicans emerge victorious, they keep control and can seriously hinder Bidens agenda, including his ability to freely pick his cabinet. Trump has attacked the election system in Georgia, even though it is headed by Republicans, after Biden flipped the southern state to the Democrats for the first time since 1992. On Thanksgiving a day usually reserved for presidential platitudes Trump broke with tradition and repeated those attacks in a now rare face-off with journalists. Im very worried about that, Trump said when asked about his previous baseless claims of fraud in Georgia. You have a fraudulent system. He then called Georgias Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, who has defended the states election process, an enemy of the people. Such attacks have Republicans worried as they seek to motivate Georgia voters to come to the polls in January, volunteer for their Senate campaigns and perhaps most importantly of all dig deep into their pockets to pay for the unexpected runoff races. In particular Trumps comments have spurred conspiracy theories that the states electoral system is rigged and prompted some of his supporters to make calls for a boycott of the coming vote something that local Georgia Republicans desperately do not want. His demonization of Georgias entire electoral system is hurting his partys chances at keeping the Senate, warned an article published by Politico. Even Trumps son, Donald Trump Jr, has jumped into the fray, tweeting: Im seeing a lot of talk from people that are supposed to be on our side telling GOP voters not to go out & vote.. That is NONSENSE. IGNORE those people. The president has also pledged to visit Georgia to hold rallies in support of the two Republican candidates, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The first of those events is expected to be on Saturday 5 December and could be a double-edged sword. Trump is still a powerful force with a loyal following whose endorsement is a key mobilizing tool for the race. On the other hand, in freewheeling his rallies, Trump may spout conspiracy theories that undermine their campaigns. Certainly Trumps mood has become increasingly erratic even as he has made the clearest signs yet that he will eventually leave the White House, which he convincingly lost to Biden in both the popular vote and the vital electoral college that actually picks the next president. On Thanksgiving Day, Trump grumpily said he would leave the White House when the electoral college voted for Biden. He has so far defied tradition by refusing to concede defeat and launching legal attempts to challenge the outcomes in battleground states includijng Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan. So far, those efforts have largely failed. Trump declined to say whether he would attend Bidens inauguration, which is due to take place on 20 January, and called one reporter a lightweight, telling him: Dont talk to me like that. Trump continued his rant on Friday, producing a long string of retweets and tweets making untrue claims about the election and his opponent. Biden can only enter the White House as President if he can prove that his ridiculous 80,000,000 votes were not fraudulently or illegally obtained, he tweeted. He even retweeted a video of a fight between a lion and a pack of attacking hyenas, over which was narrated a piece of movie dialogue by the actor Christopher Walken, taken from the film Poolhall Junkies. So much truth, Trump remarked. The Republican party has shocked many observers by mostly continuing its adherence to Trump and backing his wild claims and legal efforts, though daylight has started to appear between some top party figures and the White House. Were going to have an orderly transfer from this administration to the next one, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, told reporters recently. What we all say about it is, frankly, irrelevant.
‘Mini desk. Tiny hands. Small soul’: Trump mocked for giving speech at little table - The Guardian
#DiaperDon trends on Twitter after outgoing president’s furniture steals limelight
For a US president obsessed by size his hands, his wealth, his crowdsDonald Trump made something of a bold U-turn on Thursday night by addressing the country from a desk seemingly designed for a leprechaun. Trump said on Thursday he would leave the White House if the electoral college votes for the Democratic president-elect, Joe Biden the closest he has come to admitting defeat but his furniture stole the limelight. While he harangued reporters and repeated unfounded allegations of electoral fraud, the internet zeroed in on his unusually small desk. Some called it symbolic of Trumps diminished stature, some wondered if it was photoshopped (it wasnt), most just laughed. The actor Mark Hamill tweeted: Maybe if you behave yourself, stop lying to undermine a fair election & start thinking of whats good for the country instead of whining about how unfairly you are treated, youll be invited to sit at the big boys table. The hashtag #DiaperDon swiftly trended on Twitter, with people mocking the president as an infant banished to the childrens table for Thanksgiving. Thought this pic was photoshopped, but nope, just hilariously symbolic! Mini desk. Tiny hands. Infinitesimally small soul, tweeted Adam Lasnik. Trump later sent a blizzard of tweets accusing the media of misreporting his comments and Twitter of making up negative stuff for its trending section.
Denver mayor apologises after flying for Thanksgiving against his own advice - The Guardian
Michael Hancock urged people on Twitter to ‘avoid travel’, then flew to Mississippi
The mayor of Denver was forced to apologise after flying to Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with his family shortly after urging residents to follow official advice and remain at home because of the coronavirus. On Wednesday, Michael Hancock shared pandemic Thanksgiving advice on Twitter, advising people to Pass the potatoes, not Covid, by staying home as much as possible and by being sure to avoid travel. About 30 minutes later, according to 9News, the Democrat ignored his own advice, and that of city and federal officials, by getting on a plane to spend the holiday with his wife and daughter. The Colorado city which has recorded 34,212 cases and 515 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University has officially urged residents to celebrate Thanksgiving only with immediate members of their households and not to travel. Dr Anthony Fauci, Americas top infectious diseases expert, has also warned of the dangers of traveling over Thanksgiving. Hancock apologised and said his decision was born of my heart and not my head. He said: I fully acknowledge that I have urged everyone to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel My wife and my daughter have been in Mississippi, where my daughter recently took a job. As the holiday approached, I decided it would be safer for me to travel to see them than to have two family members travel back to Denver. As a public official, whose conduct is rightly scrutinised for the message it sends to others, I apologise to the residents of Denver who see my decision as conflicting with the guidance to stay at home for all but essential travel. I made my decision as a husband and father, and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are born of my heart and not my head. Hancock was promptly accused of hypocrisy by furious residents many of whom had cancelled Thanksgiving travel plans and politicians on both sides of the aisle. Tay Anderson, Denver school board director, tweeted: Hey America, Denver is looking for a new mayor. (One that follows their own guidelines re Covid). Anyone have any suggestions? He added: How many Denverites wanted to see their family for the holiday? I know my grandmother has been sick and at any moment we could lose her, but I didnt travel to Kansas because we need to stop the spread! Brianna Titone, a Democratic state representative, declared the mayor a turkey and a bad example. Lauren Boebert, a Republican congresswoman-elect who has expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, wrote: When Denver mayor Michael Hancock goes against his own orders, Denver residents need to stop taking orders from Mayor Hancock. Other government officials have been criticised for going against their own coronavirus advice. New Yorks governor, Andrew Cuomo, was forced to backtrack after announcing that he would spend Thanksgiving with his mother and daughters in Albany, despite telling his constituents to avoid such gatherings. Californias governor, Gavin Newsom, apologised after attending a friends birthday dinner earlier this month, with people from outside his household.
Superintelligence review – Melissa McCarthy can't save unfunny AI comedy - The Guardian
The two-time Oscar nominee sleepwalks through another underwhelming collaboration with her film-maker husband Ben Falcone
Melissa McCarthy, a respected two-time Oscar nominee and hysterically funny comic dynamo, has a problem, a longtime allegiance that leads an inarguable talent into inarguably dodgy territory time and time again. His name is Ben Falcone: actor, writer, director and also her husband. While it was cute enough to see him cameo alongside her in the excellent Paul Feig trifecta of Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy, its rapidly become less cute when he corrals her into making something hes directing, a reliably uninteresting film-maker whos mastered the art of crafting almost deliberately unfunny comedies centred around a star who deserves much much better. There were sparse scraps of vaguely amusing physical humour to be found in their first collaboration, Tammy, all of which had disappeared by the time they came together again for The Boss, a film which is a certified masterwork in comparison to their next, the punishingly joyless back-to-school farce Life of the Party, a string of throwaway films that have turned him into something of an albatross around her neck. One might have naively hoped that her breakthrough dramatic work in Can You Ever Forgive Me would have caused a much-needed step back, a re-evaluation of sorts, a move away from the one-note dross hed been peddling but sadly, shes doubling, or rather tripling, down with one set for release just in time for Thanksgiving and two more on the way. So before she plays a superhero in one and Santa Clauss wife Margie in the other (yes, really), shes up against a megalomaniacal Alexa in Superintelligence, a film thats actually not quite as interminable as it sounds and not as bad as the similarly themed Jexi, the faintest praise one can give a movie but praise nonetheless. McCarthy is Carol, an average Joan, who left behind a high-powered career in tech to focus on more philanthropic pursuits, a quest that also tanked her relationship. One day, her uneventful life gets an unlikely upgrade when shes contacted by a superintelligence, voiced by James Corden (the reason being that Carol is his biggest fan, one of many reasons why its hard to ever truly like Carol). Shes been picked to prove whether humanity is worth saving or not and she has just three days to prevent the end of the world. Theres a clear uptick in ambition here with a lower, family-friendly rating and a wider scope, both with the apocalyptic sci-fi plot and a lurch into a more straight-faced sentimentality, something thats not usually part of Falcones oeuvre. But in an effort to reach a larger audience, theres a smoothing out of McCarthys edges, often best on display in raunchier, less constrained comedies that showcase her ability to improvise and do whatever is needed to get a laugh, vanity be damned. She has a few bigger moments here, such as trying to gracefully land on a bean bag chair, but its mostly a rather thanklessly beige role, just ambling along from A to B without much to do in-between. So often with McCarthy, its hard to imagine any other actor being able to pull off one of her performances but here its hard to imagine any other actor who couldnt do this in their sleep. Theres something interesting to say about a self-confessed do-gooders good deeds taking on a destructive edge, how selflessness can ultimately be selfish but the script, from longtime Falcone collaborator Steve Mallory, avoids anything too knotty, choosing to make Carol a boringly blemish-free everywoman instead. Theres room here for more comedy than we end up getting but the script is so light on laughs, criminally so, that instead were forced to find something else to latch on to, such as Carols surprisingly low-key and likable romance with her ex, played by Bobby Cannavale. Their scenes are the most engaging even if their dynamic isnt sketched thoroughly enough for us to truly invest. The use of Corden is as charmless as he is while elsewhere, Jean Smart and Brian Tyree Henry are wasted as the president and Carols BFF respectively, turning up with enthusiasm but given little to play with. It speaks to the extremely low bar set by Falcone and McCarthys previous films together that something as forgettable and unfunny as Superintelligence wont be filed as a total disaster. Instead, its just another regrettable waste of her talent and another reminder that the best marriages can lead to the worst movies.
- Superintelligence is available on HBO Max on 26 November and will be released on the UK on 11 December
Dianne Feinstein to step down as top Democrat on Senate judiciary panel - The Guardian
California lawmaker, who has held position for four years, has faced growing opposition from progressives
The California senator Dianne Feinstein will not seek to retain her position as the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee. After serving as the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee for four years, I will not seek the chairmanship or ranking member position in the next Congress, Feinstein said in a statement on Monday. California is a huge state confronting two existential threats wildfire and drought that are only getting worse with climate change. In the next Congress, I plan to increase my attention on those two crucial issues, she added. Dick Durbin, the senator of Illinois and the Democratic whip, said he would seek the job. I intend to seek the top Democratic position on the Judiciary Committee in the 117th Congress. I have served on the Committee for 22 years, and I am its most senior member who does not currently serve atop another Senate Committee, he said. We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work on undoing the damage of the last four years and protecting fundamental civil and human rights. Feinstein, 87, has faced intensifying calls from progressives to retire from the judiciary committee following her handling of the supreme court confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett. Feinstein ended the contentious hearings with a full-body embrace of Lindsey Graham, the committees Republican chair, and praised the proceedings as one of the best set of hearings that Ive participated in, despite many other Democrats lamenting the Republicans approach to filling the seat of the late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Brian Fallon, Demand Justices executive director, argued that Feinstein had undercut Democrats position during the hearings. Naral Pro-Choice America, a leading reproductive rights group, called Feinstein wildly out of step with the American people, saying the committee needs new leadership. Feinstein also irked some of her fellow Democrats at Barretts first confirmation hearing, in 2017 for an appeals court, when she said that Barretts opposition to abortion must be rooted in her religion and questioned if it would influence her rulings on the bench, saying the dogma lives loudly within you. Republicans seized on the phrase, saying it was offensive to Catholics. The backlash helped Barrett rise in the ranks of supreme court hopefuls. Feinstein has had a long career in politics. She became mayor of San Francisco in 1978, following the assassinations of the activist Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone. She has served in the US Senate since 1992, and played an important role in the investigations into CIA torture during the wars in the Middle East as the former chairwoman of the intelligence panel. She faced a tough primary race in 2018, when the California Democratic party voted to endorse her opponent. Feinstein said she planned to continue to serve on the judiciary, appropriations and intelligence panels but would not seek the role of top Democrat on any of those committees. In a statement, the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said he was grateful for Senator Feinsteins leadership and contributions to our caucus and country in the judiciary post. Vivian Ho contributed to this report