Books, Culture

Best autobiography and memoirs of 2020


Powered by article titled “Best autobiography and memoirs of 2020” was written by Fiona Sturges, for The Guardian on Saturday 28th November 2020 09.00 UTC

Motherwell: A Girlhood Hardcover – 23 Jan 2020 by Deborah Orr (Author) Hardback

In Motherwell: A Girlhood (W&N), the late author and columnist Deborah Orr reflects on her childhood in the eponymous Scottish steel town and her relationship with her formidable mother, Win. Alongside excoriating descriptions of Win’s controlling ways, Orr vividly evokes Scottish working-class life in the 1970s, and the shifting social and economic values that would ease her path to university and a career in the media. The author, who underwent treatment for cancer for the second time in 2019, died before the book was published, but her wish “to take charge, to take complete control, of my family, in my own words” was realised nonetheless.

Charlie Gilmour’s Featherhood (W& N) and Gavanndra Hodge’s The Consequences of Love (Michael Joseph) deal with themes of parental failure. In the former, Gilmour finds comfort in the company of an abandoned baby magpie while recalling how his father, the poet Heathcote Williams, left him and his mother when he was an infant, and subsequently rebuffed his son’s attempts to get to know him. Gilmour made headlines in 2010 when he was photographed swinging from the Cenotaph during a student protest. “It wasn’t the glorious dead I wanted to attack that day,” he writes, “but the glorious dad.” The Consequences of Love, meanwhile, is an elegant study of grief and memory that begins with the death of Hodge’s younger sister, Candy, aged nine. On becoming a mother of two girls, the author realised she had no recollections of Candy beyond the moment of her death. So she seeks to fill the “swirling, vertigo-induced void” by telling her family’s story, involving her drug-addicted father, who sold heroin to rich Chelsea layabouts, and her alcoholic mother who turned to religion to blot out her trauma.

A Dutiful Boy: A memoir of a gay Muslim’s journey to acceptance Paperback – 20 Aug. 2020

Mohsin Zaidi’s A Dutiful Boy (Square Peg) begins on the day its author brings his boyfriend home to meet the family. The story then jumps back in time to chronicle his parents’ move from Pakistan to east London and his upbringing in a conservative Muslim community. At 14, Zaidi realises he is gay and, fearful of his parents’ disapproval, resolves to keep his sexuality a secret. His book challenges Muslim homophobia as well as the racism of the London gay scene – some dating site profiles warn: “No Asians.” Yet Zaidi’s writing is underpinned by compassion and an understanding that acceptance can be a slow process, even for those who love you.

House of Glass (4th Estate) is a stunning family memoir by Hadley Freeman that examines themes of identity and belonging as it pieces together the histories of the Glass siblings, the youngest of whom was her grandmother, Sala. Their stories are varied, vivid and heartbreaking, each unfolding during one of the most traumatic periods in Jewish history.

Coming Undone- A Memoir

Terri White’s raw and remarkable Coming Undone: A Memoir (Canongate) describes her efforts to keep a lid on her childhood trauma while seeking comfort and escape in alcohol. Born in Derbyshire to a teenage mum, her early years were shaped by extreme poverty, violence and sexual abuse by two of her mother’s boyfriends. In adulthood, a job in New York sends her into freefall and White spares no detail as she recalls her unravelling.

In Hungry (Mudlark), the restaurant critic Grace Dent tells of her early life in Carlisle, and her relationship with her father, who would cook her “sketty” – his name for spag bol – when she was a child. Tender and witty, the book is both a love-letter to George, whose eventual decline from dementia she recounts, and the food that brought them together.

Broken Greek (Quercus) is Pete Paphides’s funny and evocative account of his Brummie childhood as the offspring of Greek-Cypriot parents, and his love affair with music. It starts in 1973 when the author, then aged four, stops speaking to anyone apart from close family. He never stops listening, however. Along with the sound of his parents’ bickering, he finds a new soundtrack: pop music. Paphides, a journalist and radio DJ, is brilliant on the formative impact of his favourite bands and the ways music can help us make sense of the world.

The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn

Notions of home are poignantly explored in Raynor Winn’s The Wild Silence (Michael Joseph), the sequel to the award-winning The Salt Path, as the author adjusts to living with a roof over her head after a period of financial hardship followed by homelessness. Winn moves to Cornwall, where she takes on a piece of farmland for rewilding. Her evocations of weather, landscape, the sea and her love for her partner, Moth, who has an incurable neurodegenerative condition, are wonderful.

For the author Sarah M Broom, home was once New Orleans East where her widowed mother, Ivory Mae, bought a house in 1961 with her late husband’s life insurance. Broom’s award-winning debut, The Yellow House (Corsair), is a history of a house, a family and a neighbourhood brought low by neglect, racism and inequality. The youngest of 12 children, she had moved away from the city by the time Hurricane Katrina hit, but she paints a harrowing picture assembled from the memories of her family. Their heartbreak is compounded by the city’s treatment of its residents: Mae’s house was eventually demolished without her knowledge, the notification letter having been sent to the abandoned property.

A Ghost in the Throat

Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s A Ghost in the Throat (Tramp Press) explores the author’s obsession with an 18th-century poem by an Irish noblewoman. A genre-defying blend of memoir and translation, flights of fancy and everyday domesticity, it draws out connections across the centuries for a captivatingly original meditation on creativity and motherhood.

In Inferno (Bloomsbury), Catherine Cho documents her experience of post-partum psychosis, which led her to see devils in her son’s eyes. Cho was eventually separated from her baby and institutionalised in a psychiatric hospital, where she took copious notes on her progress and the comings and goings on the ward. Her book veers away from being a heart-warming tale of triumph over trauma; it lays out, with frightening clarity, the spiralling pressures of new motherhood and the unvarnished reality of mental breakdown.

Parenting looms large in the columnist and writer Caitlin Moran’s More Than a Woman (Ebury), which examines being a woman and a feminist in middle age. Eye-wateringly candid and wildly entertaining, it reflects on looking after elderly parents, anal sex, smear tests, Botox, big bums and the daily to-do list. But it’s the chapters on raising teenagers that provide the book’s emotional heft as they tell of her daughter’s struggle with an eating disorder, and the parental fear, panic and disorientation that ensued.

Hungover Games by Sophie Heawood

Sophie Heawood’s riotously funny The Hungover Games (Cape) looks at unplanned parenthood, from pregnancy and childbirth to the chaotic infant years, and the withdrawal from her life of her child’s father, known here as the Musician. Heawood casts herself as the hapless goofball, careering from one calamity to the next, but there is wisdom and poignancy amid the self-mockery as she contemplates a new way of living and finding love where she never knew it existed.

Five best celebrity memoirs of 2020

Mariah Carey, pictured in 2019.
Mariah Carey, pictured in 2019. Photograph: Amy Sussman/FilmMagic

The Meaning of Mariah Carey
by Mariah Carey (Macmillan)

“I have seen, I have been scared, I have been scarred, and I have survived,” writes Carey in this rags-to-riches tale that delves beneath the diamond-encrusted public persona to reveal a woman who has overcome childhood neglect, racism, mental illness and abuse. A twinkling humour underpins her account of her post-stardom years in which she acknowledges her “propensity for extraness”, and throws fabulous shade at J-Lo without once mentioning her name.

 Rupert Everett

To the End of the World
by Rupert Everett (Little, Brown)

The actor’s third memoir is both a caustic reflection on the iniquities of show business and an account of his decade-long efforts to bring Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince to the screen. The writing is as sparkling as the anecdotes are riotous: he stands up Joan Collins for dinner and throws up on Colin Firth. All the while, he channels his hero, Wilde, whom he describes as “the patron saint of anyone who ever made a mess of their life”.

No Time Like the Future
by Michael J Fox (Headline)

Life was already tough for the star of Back to the Future, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 29. Then, in 2018, he had surgery to remove a tumour from his spine. In this moving, often funny memoir he reveals how he regained his sense of optimism, and reflects on age, family and living with a disability.

Just Ignore Him by Alan Davies

Just Ignore Him
by Alan Davies (Little, Brown)

While the comedian’s first memoir was a larky look at his teens, this second one bravely tackles the parts its predecessor missed out. An intimate, open-hearted book, Just Ignore Him tells of the “quiet, librarial molestation” Davies endured by his father from the age of eight to 13, and the bullying and gaslighting that ensured his silence. Davies was 51 when he finally went to the police, by which time his father’s ill health meant he would never stand trial.

by Matthew McConaughey (Headline)

A gloriously bonkers effort from the Oscar-winning star of Dallas Buyers Club: it is not a memoir, he assures readers, but an “approach book”. In between anecdotes about warring parents, travelling, fame, films and debauchery, Greenlights bulges with lists, photos, poems and notes scrawled with fortune-cookie homilies, all part of his basic philosophy that he likes to call “livin’ – there’s no ‘g’ on the end of livin because life is a verb.”

• Browse the best books of 2020 at the Guardian Bookshop. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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One-year-old boy killed after police open fire on alleged kidnapper


Powered by article titled “One-year-old boy killed after police open fire on alleged kidnapper” was written by Leyland Cecco in Toronto, for on Friday 27th November 2020 21.20 UTC

A one-year-old infant in Canada has been fatally shot in an incident involving police officers who opened fire on a pickup truck while responding to an alleged kidnapping.

Investigators have not yet confirmed if police gunfire killed the boy.

“It’s too early for us to know why officers fired at the vehicle, and it’s too early for us to know exactly what transpired,” Monica Hudon, a spokeswoman for the province’s police watchdog, told reporters.

Early on Thursday morning, officers in the community of Kawartha Lakes in Ontario were alerted to a domestic dispute involving a firearm and the suspected abduction of the one-year-old by his father.

A resident told Global News that a woman, her son, and a therapist knocked on his door, looking for shelter.

“Some people came to the house and wanted in, for a safe haven, and there was something about the husband had left with the little baby,” said Tom Deciccio.

Police soon located the father’s vehicle along a rural country road. After police attempted to stop him, the truck collided with a police car and another vehicle. An officer who was standing near the police car was struck by the truck and injured.

Three officers then fired their guns towards the vehicle, according to the Special Investigations Unit, an arms-length agency that investigates police action that result in death or injury of civilians. The child was in the back seat of the pickup truck.

“Inside the pickup truck was a one-year-old boy,” the SIU said in a statement. “He had sustained a gunshot wound and was pronounced deceased at the scene.”

The 33-year-old father was also struck by police gunfire and brought to a hospital “in grave condition”. The officer who was hit by the truck is recovering at a Toronto hospital.

The SIU told the Guardian it had no new information to provide.

The head of the Ontario provincial police tweeted his condolences to the family of the child – but called on the public to refrain from “speculation on the events as they unfolded”.

Seven investigators, including two forensic investigators and one collision expert, have been assigned to the case, the SIU said.

“The community is in disbelief that this is happening,” the Kawartha Lakes mayor, Andy Letham, told the Canadian press, adding that he could not provide more comment because the investigation was ongoing. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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India, Sport

Australia beat India by 66 runs in first one-day international – as it happened


Powered by article titled “Australia beat India by 66 runs in first one-day international – as it happened” was written by Adam Collins and Geoff Lemon, for on Friday 27th November 2020 12.14 UTC

That’s that. Steve Smith will soon be named player of the match for his brilliant ton. Thanks for your company. I’ll be back in a few hours for the next OBO on the page, the T20 series opener between South Africa and England at Newlands then Geoff will taken the baton for the first innings on Sunday. Until then, stay well.



50th over: India 308-8 (Saini 29, Bumrah 0) Target 375. Australia go one-up in the three-game ODI series. A dreary end, but 700-plus runs – nothing to sneeze at.

WICKET! Shami b Starc 13 (India 308-8)

Bowls him with the yorker. Something for Starc to take from his sketchy night.

49th over: India 307-7 (Saini 28, Shami 13) Target 375. Since I started this OBO, an international tour has been cancelled, I’ve had a flight to Australia finally confirmed after months of heartache and my daughter has probably taken her first steps downstairs. Josh Hazlewood, who took three wickets in the power play some weeks ago, finishes his night with 3/55. Now get some sleep, big fella.

48th over: India 299-7 (Saini 21, Shami 13) Target 375. And after that review, Starc is now running back to his mark after every ball. Sadly, the lights have remained on at 11pm – a DRS result would have been good craic after eight hours. Two to go!

NOT OUT. Not even close. Bonkers sport sometimes, cricket.

HAS STARC PICKED UP SHAMI DOWN THE LEGSIDE? Does anyone care? They’ve sent it upstairs anyway. Let’s go to the DRS.

47th over: India 297-7 (Saini 20, Shami 12) Target 375. Shami shows he has some muscle, lifting Maxwell over midwicket for a GIANT six then leaping down the track to clip him for four more. Fair play. Saini gets a boundary too, albeit off the edge. Ruining Maxwell’s otherwise tidy figures there. And… Starc to return. Sure.

46th over: India 282-7 (Saini 16, Shami 1) Target 375. Zampa finishes with 4/54. “He’s at his peak,” says Kerry O’Keefe. “And he’s very bullish about his next few years. He wants a Test cap.” Sure, his First Class numbers are poor but Australia do play a lot of cricket in the subcontinent, especially in 2022. Some chance.

WICKET! Jadeja c Starc b Zampa 25 (India 281-7)

Zampa gets a fourth – so well bowled. Forget that it comes from a Jadeja slog, pouched by Starc at long-on, he’s done a wonderful job tonight throughout.

45th over: India 273-6 (Jadeja 18, Saini 15) Target 375. Saini bombs Maxwell over his head for six, which won’t help if their goal is to wrap this up in 10 minutes! Shane Warne makes a point worth repeating: does the one-day World Cup super league includes a Net Run Rate component, so India don’t want to get bowled out.

44th over: India 264-6 (Jadeja 17, Saini 7) Target 375. And now we find out why the Australians are racing through… curfew at 11pm local time at the SCG! That’s 12 minutes away. Will they turn the lights off? Could we be so lucky?

43rd over: India 259-6 (Jadeja 16, Saini 4) Target 375. A carbon-copy effort from Maxwell, three singles again. Carey was interested in a stumping shout off Saini but they elected not to send it upstairs. TV tells me that India took four hours and six minutes to complete their 50 overs with the ball earlier today. Not good.

42nd over: India 256-6 (Jadeja 14, Saini 3) Target 375. Zampa’s turn for one of those 90-second overs, just three singles again. No intent from India at all; they’re trying to bat out the overs. As they say in AFL-speak, we’ve entered junk time.

41st over: India 253-6 (Jadeja 12, Saini 2) Target 375. Maxwell is trying to race through this over as quickly as possible – and doing it well. Fair to assume that Finch and Kohli will both be in trouble with the match ref for how long they have taken to get through their overs today. But why aren’t India trying to take it on? Have they given up? Just three singles here – how odd.

40th over: India 250-6 (Jadeja 10, Saini 1) Target 375. It shouldn’t be a relevation that Hazlewood is now a brilliant ODI bowler – he did play in a World Cup winning team five years ago – but coming in 2020 as it did after a couple of years where he was trending towards Test Matches Only territory, it’s been a fine turnaround.

39th over: India 247-6 (Jadeja 9, Saini 0) Target 375. One run and the (likely) matchwinning wicket of Pandya. When you consider where Zampa’s night started – dropping Kohli in single digits at fine leg – he’s going very well indeed now with 3/38 to his name after seven overs. With 11 to go, India require just on 12 an over.

WICKET! Zampa c Starc b Zampa 90 (India 247-6)

Pandya holes out to Starc on the long-on rope! That’s his sweet spot and he had to keep going for it but a fine innings comes to an end. With it, surely, India’s hopes.

38th over: India 246-5 (Pandya 90, Jadeja 7) Target 375. Up over ten an over for India now, Cummins in charge of this one. Pandya gets him away down the ground, a resourceful stroke where there is a man inside the circle at mid-on and getting four for it. But from here, they need better than a boundary an over.

37th over: India 237-5 (Pandya 85, Jadeja 3) Target 375. Zampa has been so impressive after Pandya got hold of him a couple of times early, still happy to attack the stumps and mix up his speeds. We see the wrong’un and a willingness to play the cat and mouse game as required. Just five from it, Zampa wins the over.

36th over: India 232-5 (Pandya 83, Jadeja 1) Target 375. Cummins pulls out a perfect over in a modern ODI defence, slamming it down and changing his pace throughout – just one run form it. With Jadeja struggling to get into the swing so far, Pandya has no choice – he has to take Zampa on. Also, an update to the Stoinis advice: it is his left side (rather than groin) causing his discomfort.

35th over: India 231-4 (Pandya 82, Jadeja 1) Target 375. CA have told us, through their spokesman, that Marcus Stoinis has a “minor groin strain” and won’t return to the field tonight. Meanwhile, Zampa finishes his successful over – four runs and the Dhawan wicket. He still has five of the 15 overs to bowl through to the death.

WICKET! Dhawan c Starc b Zampa 74 (India 229-5)

And a wicket they get! Via Zampa and Starc, two Australians who have had rollercoaster nights, but the latter on holds on at mid-off with Dhawan unable to clear him after using his feet to the spinner. That’s a big moment in this game.

34th over: India 227-4 (Dhawan 73, Pandya 80) Target 375. Cummins returns, has has five to bowl – good news for Finch. Dhawan flicks him to the rope at one stage but six runs off the over is a win for Australia. They just need a breakthrough.

Stoinis leaves the field

33rd over: India 221-4 (Dhawan 68, Pandya 79) Target 375. Two balls into his overm Stoinis is off with an injury. A leg issue? Looks to be. Maxwell finishes it off well, just three from it. A test for Aaron Finch here now – how does he stitch it together?

32nd over: India 218-4 (Dhawan 67, Pandya 77) Target 375. Three overs in a row where India have recovered an otherwise quiet set with a boundary at the end, Dhawan this time playing a glorious cut shot off Hazlewood behind point. So, 18 overs to go and a required rate of 8.7. Australia need to remember that out there – it’s a long way to the finish line with one wicket bound to change everything.


31st over: India 213-4 (Dhawan 63, Pandya 76) Target 375. Stoinis is Finch’s Mr Fixit here, this time swung around to replace Starc. Four balls into the fresh spell he has given up just one single, which is why Dhawan sets up early to pull just as Pandya did against Hazlewood in his previous set – a well-needed boundary.

30th over: India 208-4 (Dhawan 59, Pandya 75) Target 375. Hazlewood is back. The main man tonight, with three wickets to his name earlier, has four overs in the bank for Finch to carefully allocate. Pandya waits for the right ball to take a calculated punt, back deep before the ball is bowled to pull and pull for four.

29th over: India 201-4 (Dhawan 58, Pandya 69) Target 375. It makes sense that Finch is trying to get these Starc overs out of the way as soon as possible. This doesn’t go well though, Pandya up to the task of taking a length delivery over cover for four then getting off the turf to pull four more behind square later in the set. Three to finish, a clip into the gap at midwicket – that brings up the 100 stand in 97 balls. Drinks are on the field; the required rate is 8.3 for the final stanza. Game on.

28th over: India 190-4 (Dhawan 58, Pandya 58) Target 375. We’ve got to be on track for the slowest full 50-over international played without a weather intervention? This game started seven hours ago and there’s still at least two hours left if this goes all the way. Stoinis is playing is role so well, 0/19 from five.

27th over: India 185-4 (Dhawan 55, Pandya 56) Target 375. Okay, Starc again. He starts well enough but with the fourth ball, he’s well down legside again – the 50th run he’s conceded after 5.3 legal overs. But he gets to the other end of it only giving up three. He has 24 balls left and he can forget that tonight ever happened.

26th over: India 182-4 (Dhawan 54, Pandya 55) Target 375. Quality again from Stoinis, bowling it into the pitch with his range of cutters taking pace off the ball nicely. He’s bowled four overs, 0/14. Maxwell has sent down two. Stoinis might end up having to bowl a couple of Staerc’s as well if this goes to the death.

Dhawan to 50!

25th over: India 180-4 (Dhawan 53, Pandya 54) Target 375. Cummins drops one now! In fact, he barely got a hand on the Dhawan hoick, losing it in the lights at fine leg! Not at all what Starc needs when having a night like this. That’s Dhawan’s 50, too, as the ball trickles into the rope – 55 balls for him to reach the milestone; the backbone of this chase. It doesn’t any better for the left-arm quick when sending down a full toss to Dhawan that is, quite strangely, not given as a waist-high no-ball? It looked like it was referred to the third umpire? Hard to tell from the broadcast. Pandya’s turn and a top edge that… bisects two fielders! Starc is having some kind of night out there, 0/48 from his five so far. Has to keep it together.

24th over: India 173-4 (Dhawan 53, Pandya 48) Target 375. Stoinis is doing plenty right so far, both batsmen happy taking singles from him. As a bowler, his stocks have been on the rise over the last twelve months or so. Had a very good IPL.

Pandya to 50!

23rd over: India 169-4 (Dhawan 46, Pandya 51) Target 375. The answer to my rhetorical question from the previous over is… now. Pandya has taken down Maxwell to the tune of 18 from the over, pulling behind square for four then clipping over square leg for SIX then launching him for ANOTHER SIX over long-on to bring up his half-century in 31 deliveries. Will he keep the foot down or pull back an bit, picking his moments? Without a doubt he’s the key to this for India.


22nd over: India 151-4 (Dhawan 45, Pandya 34) Target 375. Stoinis is swung around to replace Zampa and it’s another beaut, just two singles. When will Pandya really pull the trigger? I’m tempted to offer a summary of the football/Maradona exchange between Warne and Waugh but I’ll leave it to your imagination.


21st over: India 149-4 (Dhawan 45, Pandya 33) Target 375. Right, so Finch has now turned to Maxwell for the second over from this fifth bowler allocation. Despite struggling in the IPL with the bat he was very handy with the ball, and did a nice job in England too at times too, so he’ll be up for this. And it’s an uneventful start, just what his captain would have wanted, five from it to the sweepers on the rope.

20th over: India 144-4 (Dhawan 42, Pandya 31) Target 375. For the second time Zampa had given Pandya some air and for the second time he’s been bombed over his head with a huge strike over long-on, that’s a BIG SIX. It should be a successful over for the spinner though, Dhawan driving straight to Maxwell at cover, but he’s put him down! That’s very rare from one of the best fielders of all time.

19th over: India 135-4 (Dhawan 41, Pandya 23) Target 375. Right, so here we are with the Australian fifth bowler, delayed until now due to those early wickets via Hazlewood. It’s Stoinis initially to play that role, with Maxwell in support with his spin if required. It takes until the final delivery to get the boundary they need from it, Dhawan holding his pose after dispatching the seamer through midwicket.

18th over: India 128-4 (Dhawan 36, Pandya 21) Target 375. Whack! That’s Hardik Pandya’s best play, launching Zampa long and high and straight, over long-on for SIX! When he hits it, as they say, it stays hit. Zampa beats him with some extra flight later in the over and wins an outside edge, but there’s no slip – four more.

17th over: India 117-4 (Dhawan 36, Pandya 10) Target 375. Pandya pulls Cummins away for four early in the over. They need these consistent boundaries, it won’t be enough to simply wait for the fifth bowler to cash in later. Speaking of Stoinis, he makes an outstanding diving stop running around from square leg later in the over, kept in by no more than an inch. The best of the modern game right there.

16th over: India 110-4 (Dhawan 36, Pandya 3) Target 375. Tidy again, Zampa – just four off it, and very close to Dhawan rolling a ball back onto his woodwork, saved by some savvy footwork to kick it away. We’ve seen the cricket/football crossover in full flight this week at Tottenham, pleasing to see it go the other away here.

15th over: India 106-4 (Dhawan 34, Pandya 1) Target 375. Finch is now ringing the changes, Cummins on for Starc; not allowing any rhythm to form in the chase. A front-foot no-ball to begin – accurately called by the TV official, what a joy it is to see excellent reform in action in Australia – but very little else. For all the runs in the first six overs, the require rate has swelled from 7.5 to 7.7 by the end of 15.

14th over: India 103-4 (Dhawan 33, Pandya 1) Target 375. Ooh, Zampa’s wrong’un goes past the edge of Dhawan, so close to that outside edge. Four runs and the wicket from Zampa’s first over. He can really relax into his work at the bowling crease now with what happened to him earlier at fine leg well behind him.

WICKET! KL Rahul c Smith b Zampa 12 (India 101-4)

Zampa into the attack and gets a bit of luck right away, KL Rahul driving a low full toss straight into the hands of Smith at short cover. And that’s drinks.

13th over: India 99-3 (Dhawan 31, KL Rahul 11) Target 375. With Gilchrist, O’Keefe and Julian now on commentary, the conversation broadens out a bit. One point from that: it’s a good thing that we have these white-ball matches ahead of the Test summer. Of course, scheduling is a nightmare – not least with an Aussie summer – but the playing Tests in early November never feels quite right. Assuming England are going to be in for three ODIs as well as Tests next summer (after the T20 World Cup, that is), I hope they find a way to slot them in before the Ashes. Meanwhile, Starc has finally pushed through an accurate over, just the one single to Rahul.

12th over: India 98-3 (Dhawan 31, KL Rahul 10) Target 375. First up in the Hazlewood’s new over and it nearly brings a fourth wicket through his short option, Dhawan not in control with a hook that hands just short of Zampa at long leg. An appeal for caught behind down the legside later in the over but an exercise in trying to avoid a wide being signalled – they aren’t successful.

“Social media has not been too kind to the Indian team so far,” emails Abhijato Sensarma. “The pitch might very well be a road, but they’ve still not been anywhere near their best. I’ve watched enough highlight reels to cross-verify that the standard of fielding has indeed been at par with its less rigorous performances of the 1990s … The batting threatens to collapse too, and there is no Sachin Tendulkar to pull it out of the hat for a retro kit-donning India anymore.”

11th over: India 93-3 (Dhawan 29, KL Rahul 8) Target 375. India’s turn to push back, and why wouldn’t they with these two stars in the middle? And why wouldn’t they try and keep Starc down after his first two overs? The returning quick gives Dhawan something to drive through cover to start his new spell and it is driven away for four, another top shot – a shame he hasn’t had more strike. At the other end, Rahul plays with such soft hands behind point to get his first boundary. 13 off the over, leaving Starc with the figures of 0/40 off three. Still has a job to do.

10th over: India 80-3 (Dhawan 24, KL Rahul 0) Target 375. Two in the over. Meanwhile, Dhawan (24 from 19) has been seen a delivery in the last four overs of the power play. The temptation will surely be to keep Hazlewood going for another couple while it is working so well. He has 3/27 from his five with the field up.

WICKET! Shreyas Iyer c Carey b Hazlewood 2 (India 80-3)

Two in the over! And once again, it’s the Josh Hazlewood bumper that does the trick, on this occasion too quick for the new man who tried to pull out of the shot but couldn’t get his blade out of way in time, ballooning up to Carey. Superb.

WICKET! Kohli c Finch b Hazlewood 21 (India 78-2)

Hazlewood gets Kohli! Pulled straight to Finch at short midwicket. Once again, he’s followed him with that accurate short ball after the Indian captain made some room – outstanding cricket from Bendemeer Bullet. And Zampa can breathe again.


9th over: India 76-1 (Dhawan 23, Kohli 20) Target 375. Good grief, that clip from Kohli! From about off-stump, he’s taken it from his hip deep into the audience at deep backward square leg. Absurd timing – he’s the best. Zampa is in the game again at short fine, Kohli turning in his direction, but he’s able to get down to it with a safe stop. So important that he’s in a good frame of mind before bowling.

8th over: India 67-1 (Dhawan 22, Kohli 13) Target 375. Hazlewood, fantastic. Again, just when Australia needed a solid over after the dropped catch he delivers. India still need 7.3 an over but if these two bat for 90 minutes that won’t be so daunting.

Zampa drops Kohli!

7th over: India 64-1 (Dhawan 21, Kohli 11) Target 375. Straight down Zampa’s throat at fine leg, Kohli’s hooked top edge straight to the spinner… in and out! OH, NO! Such super bowling from Cummins to draw the error but it is all for nothing, the Indian captain responding with a far more imposing pull for four before dancing down the track to hammer him through cover for four more to finish. What drama!

6th over: India 54-1 (Dhawan 21, Kohli 1) Target 375. What a roar as the King sprints out to the middle. But Hazlewood, after his breakthrough, is up to the task with three accurate dots then finding the inside edge of Kohli’s bat to finish. Super bowling just when Australia needed it. Watching the replay back, the best part of the wicket-taking delivery was how he adjusted to follow Agarwal, who was backing away to try and flay him over point again. Fast bowling at its best.

WICKET! Agarwal c Maxwell b Hazlewood 22 (India 53-1)

Top edge, taken by Maxwell! Short, bang on target – that’s Josh Hazlewood.

5th over: India 53-0 (Agarwal 22, Dhawan 21) Target 375. The change is made: Cummins on for Starc. But it doesn’t change a thing – a big full toss first up is helped away through cover for four more, Dhawan moving India to 50 in 25 balls. Aaron Finch won’t panic but he will know that his RCB teammate Virat Kohli is next in, the most dominant 50-over player of all time. Cummins is back into his awkward back-of-a-length channel soon enough but when he tries out a bumper to Agarwal it doesn’t work – another wide. A bit rattled? Looks it.

“Hi Adam.” Hello, Damien McLean. “Glad you and Geoff are on the OBO today with that classic Maxwellball innings, can’t wait to hear you both dissect it. Does it get any more Maxwell than that? 45 off 19 so no half century stat, that shot over first slip spinning the bat in his hand was outrageous, two switch hits in a row for 10 runs, probably was the key to getting up over 350 but will be overshadowed by Smith and Finch centuries. Totally Maxwellball for mine, was so glad to witness it. Thanks for your work.”

Indeed, Maxwellball at its best. I was watching with nine-month-old trying to explain to her why I was getting so carried away – I suspect she’s already worked it out. And lovely to be back on the OBO with Geoff, always our home ground.

4th over: India 46-0 (Agarwal 21, Dhawan 16) Target 375. Hazlewood was magnificently frugal (and effective) with the new ball in England, bowling some gorgeous spells at Manchester to set up that series win in September. Of course, there’s nothing for the hosts to be too worried about as yet, but they could do with a dot-heavy over from the giant right-armer. And that’s precisely what he’s giving them until the penultimate delivery when Agarwal opens up the off-side and lifts him over deep point for six! That’s an outrageous shot! Can play, this man.

3rd over: India 39-0 (Agarwal 15, Dhawan 15) Target 375. It continues! First ball of the new Starc over and Dhawan strokes him with class through cover point out towards the SCG members. Not much wrong with the ball, that’s a super stroke on the up. As Harsha Bhogle puts it best, India haven’t played an away game – as far as crowd noise are concerned – for 20 years. And sure enough, the fans of the boys in blue are making plenty of noise. When Agarwal gets his turn again, he’s given something short and wide but can’t put it away due to a piece of Maxwell brilliance at point. Another quality quick single to finish from Dhawan into the off-side.

2nd over: India 32-0 (Agarwal 14, Dhawan 9) Target 375. That was the second worst first over ever in an ODI, the TV tells me. By the time this is done, it could be the latest finish for a 50-over game at the SCG as well, already 7:30pm local time. Hazlewood’s turn, with whom there is no concern with his radar, but Agarwal takes advantage from a slightly overpitched offering to slam a cover drive for four. Lovely shot. Edge next, four more! India are 30 from 10 (legal) balls. A misfield to finish too, through Maxwell at cover. 12 off the over. We have a live one here.

1st over: India 20-0 (Agarwal 2, Dhawan 9) Target 375. Agarwal off the mark first ball, squeezing a quick single. Starc’s first ball to Dhawan is speered down the legside, the left-hander off the mark later in the over with a quick single of his own to midwicket. “They can’t win it in the first ten but they can certainly lose it,” says Adam Gilchrist on telly. Spot on. Later in the over, Starc goes out wide to Agarwal who tries to cut but misses. It’s called a wide – I’m not sure about that; the right-hander made it look worse than it was with his lack of footwork. Ooh, no such confusion with the next ball, waaaay down the legside – two feet down the legside! – giving Carey no chance. Wow, three wides in a row now, overcorrecting to Agarwal well outside the off-stump. It prompts a change to around the wicket. He’s bowled four all up and there are still three deliveries to come in the over. Dhawan gets the chance to clip off his pads from one of those and doesn’t miss out, tucking over Labuschagne at square leg, skipping away for four. And it has been called as a retrospective front-foot no-ball!. Another close call but that’s what the technology is there for. Free hit… back over his head for four! One ball to come in the over and India are already up to 20. He finishes with a dot but goodness me, where does that rank in terms of the worst overs that the big left-armer has sent down for Australia?

“There’s actually 3 series starting today,” writes Mani Deep. “You missed mentioning NZ vs WI that’s going on right now.” Of course! I was just reading about that before coming on. Interesting broadcast news from over there: in the absence of a TV partner in the UK, we can watch it over here for free on YouTube.

The players are back on the field! Shikhar Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal for India in the absence of Rohit Sharma, rested from this series. They need to go at exactly 7.5 an over to reach the hefty victory target of 375. Mitch Starc, the most effective quick in the history of ODI cricket, has the ball in his hand for the hosts. PLAY!

Of course, this is one of two international series starting today. The other, the T20s between South Africa and England, begins later this afternoon (UK time). I’ll also be with you on the OBO for that, as it happens – can’t stop, won’t stop. Here’s Ali Martin’s preview piece from Cape Town out of Eoin Morgan’s press conference.

Thanks, Geoff. I woke up in London just when Finch raised three figures, before Maxwell enjoyed his brilliant turn. Compare that to the last time I was logging on for a one-day international shift at the SCG in March when the ground was empty and silent, with a foreboding sense of what was the come. Lovely to see.

Perhaps less enjoyable for fans of the IPL franchises where the aforementioned Victorians, and Smith at the Royals, struggled to cut through in their recently completed T20 season. A different story today in the canary yellow on home soil.

Right, housekeeping before we get into it: you can drop me a line at any time, or ping me a tweet if that’s more your thing. And as you eat your dinner and wait for India’s chase, I’ll leave you with a lovely chat Geoff and I had during the week with Pete Siddle, ten years on from his birthday Ashes hat-trick at the Gabba.

India must chase 375 to win

A big innings comes to an end – big in every sense. It’s 40 minutes past the scheduled end of the innings, meaning that the chase should have started 10 minutes ago. The Australians had about 58 breaks to change gloves, and the Indians drifted in the field.

What an impressive day with the bat though for the Australians, who haven’t played international cricket in so long. Stoinis and Labuschagne were out very quickly but everyone else went big. Warner and Finch have an opening partnership that is entering the conversation as one of the very best. They put on 156 together today. Finch got another ton. Smith got his fastest by an absolute mile. Maxwell started a surge that added 120-odd runs in 10 overs. Carey did enough at the end. Only Shami, with 3 for 59 from his full overs, came out of the day unscathed.

India love chasing, but they have a huge task ahead here.

That’s enough from me, I’ll hand over to Adam Collins for the reply.

50th over: Australia 374-6 (Carey 17, Cummins 1) Pat Cummins will bat with three balls left in the match. Hits hard down the ground for one run to long-off. Shami around the wicket to Carey bowls a perfect yorker for none. Tries the scoop from the final ball, misses it, and Cummins is fast off the mark to get through for a bye.

WICKET! Smith b Shami 105 (65), Australia 372-6

Shami to bowl the last, and he keeps Smith scoreless from the first ball, beating the bat outside off. Not from the second, driven over cover for four! A flat loft, hard and flying away. The next ball ends this marvellous day for Smith though, a low full toss curling in a bit, Smith backing away trying to get something on it, and misses as it hits middle and off stump low down on the full.

Century! Smith 100 from 62 balls

49th over: Australia 368-5 (Smith 100, Carey 17) I’ve totally lost track of the fact that Smith is gunning for a century. What a mad last few overs. He’s facing Bumrah, and he…

he sweeps it for four!

A sweep shot! Against one of the best fast bowlers in the world. Down on one knee, to a wide ball outside off, and Smith just held the horizontal bat there, at the right angle, and almost let the ball bounce off the bat behind square leg. Hit the gap. Four runs.

Next ball? Drives it through point for one, and that’s his century! Surely that’s the fastest he’s ever made. The 10th of his career. What an innings.

Carey backs away again, gets a high full toss from Bumrah, and slaps it over cover for four. Next ball, two runs for Carey becomes three with a misfield from Kohli who was backing up, the ball keeping low and scuttling through his legs in the infield.

48th over: Australia 355-5 (Smith 95, Carey 10) Saini, to Smith, and the first ball of the over goes soaring into the O’Reilly stand! Over extra cover, lofted, long, and Smith has been blazing tonight. He comes across the stumps and tries to ramp, but only gets a bit of wood on it to short fine for a single. Carey tries to pull, bottom edge into his ribs and that hurts. Left-hander facing a right-armer coming around the wicket angling it in. So Carey backs away and slaps over cover for four! That’s the trick. A couple of singles to close the over.

47th over: Australia 342-5 (Smith 87, Carey 5) Bumrah has the ball in his second-last over, and he is absolutely nailing it. Yorker, yorker, yorker. Keeps them to three singles in a row while the commentators are talking about Australia making 400. Make that four singles in a row. Around the wicket to the left-handed Carey, angled in at his boots, perfect, dot ball! Carey scoops the last ball away through midwicket and they have to do some dicey running to get back for a second. Six from the over, a triumph for Bumrah.

46th over: Australia 336-5 (Smith 85, Carey 1) Labuschagne out off the second ball of the over, Smith misses a wide down the leg side and is furious that he doesn’t glance it for four. Gets a wide yorker from Saini next ball and drives that behind point for two. Smith shapes to ramp the next ball but bails out when it’s too short to do so, and manages to bunt a single behind point. Alex Carey on strike, a ton on his last start for Australia back in September. Drives a run, slower ball, well stopped by Dhawan at backward point who is being pursued by this ball. Smith swings and misses at a wide one, not too wide. Six from the over, a good one for Saini.

WICKET! Labuschagne c Dhawan b Saini 2 (2), Australia 331-5

Labuschagne doesn’t last long. Has to go for it. Tries a big loft down the ground, and two things happen for India: Dhawan gets a catch, after a hard day in the field, and Saini takes a wicket, after a hard day with the ball.

45th over: Australia 330-4 (Smith 81, Labuschagne 2) Out comes Marnus with 31 balls to go, and gets off the mark driving two runs down the ground right away.

WICKET! Maxwell c Jadeja b Shami 45 (19), Australia 328-4

Steve Smith has been down the non-striker’s end a lot recently, so he hits the first ball of Shami’s new over for six as well. Why not! Whips it off his legs and away over deep square! Follows up with a single to give Maxwell the strike.

“Glenn Maxwell is playing like Happy Gilmore,” says Ed Cowan on ABC radio.

Shami bowls very wide of off, and Maxwell swipes and doesn’t connect. Chahal has come off the ground with the medical staff, limping a bit. Might have hurt his ankle by the look the way he’s walking.

Shami might wish he was going off injured, as Maxwell plays a reverse lap shot for four! Over slip. Reaches wide of off stump, angles the bat like a ramp, then changes his wrist grip to divert it to the off side rather than the leg. What.

Fifth ball of the over, Shami gets some relief. And funnily Maxwell falls to the most conventional shot of his stay. Tries the lofted drive down the ground, doesn’t hit it sweetly enough, and Jadeja back on the rope comes in to claim the catch.

Catch your breath while we’re catching things. What a show.

44th over: Australia 317-3 (Smith 74, Maxwell 41) Navdeep Saini to bowl, and Smith just turns over the strike immediately. Saini just places the ball up there, and Glenn Maxwell plays a pick-up shot off his pads for six! Huuuuge! Just lifts that ball away from a fullish length, and it bounces deep into the concourse of the Ladies Stand, and takes an age to be returned and disinfected by the umpires.

Maxwell has 33 runs from 12 balls.

A couple of dots pass by as Saini bowls very wide of the off stump and Maxwell can’t make contact, then there’s another near catch for Dhawan that goes for four! Full and wide, Maxwell digs out the yorker with an open face, lofting it to deep point, Dhawan sprinting in has to dive forward, and it just half-volleys in front of him and through him for four. That’s three chances that have taunted Dhawan today.

Saini bowls the same ball. Maxwell plays the same shot! But better! Places it behind point this time, splits the outfielders to perfection!

He has 41 from 16 balls.

43rd over: Australia 302-3 (Smith 73, Maxwell 27) Ok, the spinner back on so Glenn Maxwell has called for the gold cap. Get some ventilation in there. Then he decides to ventilate Yuzi Chahal, and switch-hits him for six! A left-handed slog-sweep by a right-hander, along the ground between point and backward point for four!

No worries at all. Chahal stops and thinks. Bowls slow and really wide of the off stump. Maxwell makes it become his leg stump, and SWITCH-HITS FOR SIX!

Right out of the middle and it soars down to the Members’ Stand over the rope!


Fourth ball? Calmly flicked to deep mid for two runs. Fifth ball? Maxwell sweeps, gets a feather on it past his leg stump, and gets two more?

Sixth ball? Dropped, for six! Down the track Maxwell, drives long over extra cover, Dhawan running around from long-off, dives across to get a hand to it, and parries it over the rope.

21 from the over, 20 of them to G. J. Maxwell.

42nd over: Australia 281-3 (Smith 72, Maxwell 7) Bumrah to bowl, and Maxwell drives him for four!

That’s how we play Maxwellball!

Second ball he’s faced, opened his wrists at the ball, dipped through it as it arrived, hits the rope along the ground. Lovely.

Drives a run through point, Smith tucks another to the other side. Maxwell with this very open stance that he employs these days, both eyes on the bowler. Pull a short ball to the deep square sweeper. Smith adds another. Maxwell gets a bouncer from Bumrah, tries to uppercut over Rahul, misses out, then the umpire calls it a wide. Maxwell middles a drive but finds short midwicket for none.

41st over: Australia 272-3 (Smith 70, Maxwell 1) The first change in the batting order for Australia, with Glenn Maxwell coming in ahead of Marnus Labuschagne. This is pretty much Australia’s plan with Maxwell, that he can float as needed to finish an innings. He’s been getting on with Smith better than they did when Smith was captain. Now they’re batting together.

WICKET! Stoinis c Rahul b Chahal 0 (1), Australia 271-3

Marcus Stoinis to the middle. Had an amazing IPL (again), but historically he struggles to get moving early in an innings for Australia. Smith will keep things going, clearing the front leg against Chahal to slog-sweep six over midwicket. Drives a run down the ground. Stoinis on strike. Pushes at a ball outside the off stump, and he’s caught behind! Started walking before the umpire even moved.

At least he hasn’t soaked up any deliveries today.

WICKET! Finch c Rahul b Bumrah 114 (123), Australia 264-2

40th over: Australia 264-2 (Smith 63) Well, what a bizarre over. Having brought up his century, Finch is dropped! Dropped by Chahal at short fine leg. Bumrah the bowler, had Finch turning it away in the air, and Chahal shells it. Next ball? A misfield at deep square leg concedes four! Finch flicked it straight at Agarwal, who is beaten by the spin on the ball and lets it through his legs for a boundary. Bumrah’s next effort strays onto leg stump, and Finch glances four! He glances another brace, then from the last ball of the over, Bumrah goes short, Finch tries to uppercut over the keeper, and only gets a minor edge which sends it looping up for KL Rahul to take running back. Finally, Bumrah gets some reward.

Century! Finch 101 from 117 balls

39th over: Australia 252-1 (Finch 102, Smith 63) Well, Aaron Finch has all but disappeared in the last half hour. Steve Smith facing all the strike and scoring all the runs. Another boundary, as Smith cuts Chahal behind point, then gives Finch the chance to raise a hundred.

Finch takes it! Flicks Chahal away through deep midwicket for two, and starts his home season against a team that previously had his number, to raise his 17th ODI century for Australia.

Once he turns over the strike again, Smith finishes the over with six over extra cover! Ridiculous shot! A proper cover drive, only via the aerial route, and the deep cover watches it sail over his head. 14 from the over.

Fifty! Smith 50 from 36 balls

38th over: Australia 238-1 (Finch 99, Smith 52) Steve Smith is flying! Shami bowls in at the pads, decent ball, but Smith clips it over short midwicket for four! Next ball, fuller at the boot, Smith whips along the ground behind square for another boundary! He takes a single, Finch does the same. One ball to come in the over. Smith chops a run to deep third.

37th over: Australia 226-1 (Finch 97, Smith 42) Appeal for a stumping from India as Smith misses a cut shot, but his toe was grounded. He’s facing Jadeja, with a gap at deep cover, so Smith goes inside out and lofts four! Placement superb. Jadeja bowls a bit shorter next ball, so Smith back-cuts four more! Placement again, along the ground. Then to close out the over he lofts down to long on. The crowd sighs in anticipation of Shikhar Dhawan taking the catch, but the ball clears him for four! The fielder down there has been stationed well inside the rope all day, it must be said, even though the commentators are blaming Dhawan. It may have been a tactical blue rather than an individual one. No wicket, and it costs them four runs.

36th over: Australia 214-1 (Finch 97, Smith 30) Shami continues, taking a thick outside edge from Smith that squirts away for a run. Hits Finch on the pad and half appeals, but there’s a thick inside edge this time from Finch, the ball dribbling to midwicket for one more run. Finch on 97. Smith whips hard off his pads, but Kohli at short midwicket makes a spectacular diving stop, rendering them scoreless. Shami uses his bouncer, over Smith’s shoulder, but the umpire at square leg belatedly calls it wide. Not sure about that, looked a good short ball. Shami goes short again, Smith pulling away off a bottom edge to deep midwicket for one. Finch takes a leg bye straight of short midwicket. Smith keeps the strike with one.

35th over: Australia 208-1 (Finch 96, Smith 27) The batting pair just milking Jadeja here, or more accurately Smith is. Finch is batting a bit more nervously approaching his ton. A few dots, though he manages to drive two runs down the ground in between those.

34th over: Australia 203-1 (Finch 94, Smith 24) Finch with a single to start, then Smith plays the pull shot for four. Saini can’t stop bowling short balls, and it’s not working out for him. They play out a repeat version, except Smith doesn’t hit this as cleanly and gets a single to deep square. Short with width to Finch, who cuts along the ground, beating backward point for two as deep third comes around. Finch to 94, one hit away. Smokes a drive, but straight at Shreyas Iyer at cover. Smith is shadow-batting at the non-striker’s end. Course he is.

33rd over: Australia 194-1 (Finch 91, Smith 19) Jadeja is back, and has Smith down on one knee and hoicking a sweep shot away for a couple of runs. Two balls later, hit on the pad in front! Smith reviews quickly, he didn’t hit it but maybe he thinks it was high? It did strike him above the knee roll, he’s right back on his stumps but he might get this overturned here.

And he does! It is missing the bails by literally a millimetre! There is no visible gap between the ball and the bails on the ball-tracking projection, the ball is sitting right on top of those bails. A couple of pixels in it. He survives. He would have felt the contact was high, and his hunch proves right.

Smith celebrates by punting over midwicket for four!

32nd over: Australia 188-1 (Finch 91, Smith 13) Steve Smith with a bit of time to pick up the tempo: he was opening the batting at times for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, and today he’s got a full 20 overs to get himself into the game. Drives a couple of runs to deep cover from Saini, then nudges off leg stump for a single. Finch moves one run closer to a century, gets the strike back, then cuts four to move into the 90s!

31st over: Australia 179-1 (Finch 86, Smith 9) Finch turns over the strike against Chahal first ball, and Smith likes batting against spin. Down the track, to the pitch, picks it up beautifully over midwicket for four! A big gap out there with a long-on and a deep backward square only. Hits that gap easily. Turns over the strike again. Finch cuts two runs, then drives two more square of deep cover. Then runs keep flowing.

30th over: Australia 169-1 (Finch 81, Smith 4) Navdeep Saini is back with the ball, didn’t go too well for him earlier. But he gets back into things alright conceding a couple of singles and a couple of braces.

29th over: Australia 163-1 (Finch 78, Smith 1) Chahal to Finch, and we’ll see if the dismissal causes any bigger disruption to the rhythm of the batting innings. It is a tidy over, conceding two runs from six balls… but then the last delivery is an overstep! The third umpire picks it up, and that’s a no-ball! Meaning a free hit. Aaron Finch takes the opportunity, since he can’t be dismissed, of playing a switch hit! Not a shot he plays often, but he goes well outside what was his off stump, that becomes his leg stump, which is where Chahal bowls. Finch nails it along the ground past backward point for four.

28th over: Australia 156-1 (Finch 73, Smith 0) That brings Steve Smith to the middle for his first hit of the home season. He drives Shami to short midwicket to end the over with a dot.

WICKET! Warner c Rahul b Shami 69 (76), Australia 156-1

Four from Warner from the first ball of the over. That’s a dicey shot but he nails it this time: a pull shot against a ball that isn’t short, isn’t even back of a length, it’s on its way to being full. Warner goes across the line anyway, and gets it through midwicket.

Fifth ball of the over though, they go upstairs for a long DRS review. Full outside the off stump, Warner comes forward and pushes at it, and the question is whether the ball clipped the edge or whether the bat hit the ground. Snicko shows a spike, but that could be either of those contacts. In the end the third umpire rules it out, but we didn’t see a Hot Spot on that, so I’m not sure how sure the umpire could have been. Warner doesn’t seem too bothered, so perhaps he thinks he hit it. India finally get one.


27th over: Australia 149-0 (Warner 63, Finch 72) Finch takes the lead! Walks down at Jadeja, and drop-punts him over long-on for six. Bumrah was backpedalling anticipating a catch but in the end it went about 20 metres over his head and way back into the crowd. Huge hit! Finch goes along the ground next ball in a similar direction for two. Then a single to keep the strike. 11 from the over.

26th over: Australia 138-0 (Warner 62, Finch 62) Shami is back on, and looking sharp. Right-arm over the wicket, brisk. Both batsmen are using the pace and trying to chop through backward point, steering from back of a length. Shami slips in a yorker that Warner does well to keep out. He’s not a tall bowler, Shami, but gets skiddy lift from back of a length. Two singles from his first five, then Warner squeezes out two runs to third man from the last. The batsmen settle on a matching score.

25th over: Australia 134-0 (Warner 59, Finch 61) Tied down by one spinner, unleashed against the next. Warner reverse-sweeps Jadeja for four! Third man is up in the circle, and that beats him. Three in the deep on the leg side, plus a long-off for Warner. He drives two in that direction, through cover. Three dots, then a single to deep mid. This pair, they’re not flying, but they have such a good foundation at the halfway mark, this score could get huge.

24th over: Australia 127-0 (Warner 52, Finch 61) A good comeback over from Yuzi Chahal, who concedes a single from the final ball. Uses the googly a bit, didn’t give Warner room to swing. Kohli comes in to a short midwicket, which perhaps worries Warner too. He chips one shot to Kohli on the bounce, has the crowd interested for a second.

Fifty! Warner 50 from 54 balls

23rd over: Australia 126-0 (Warner 51, Finch 61) Classic late-era Warner: clips the ball square from Jadeja, perfectly into an outfield gap, and hustles a second run on the throw that looks dangerous but sees him make it back by a metre to raise fifty at just about a run a ball.

Finch goes a more direct run-scoring route, planting the front foot and launching Jadeja over midwicket for a one-bounce four.

22nd over: Australia 118-0 (Warner 48, Finch 56) Bumrah returns for his sixth, and Warner pulls him for four! Shot, rolled wrists, along the ground well in front of square. Bumrah responds with a perfume ball but Warner genuflects beneath it, angling in from around the wicket at the left-hander. The third umpire retrospectively picks up that one as a no-ball, Bumrah overstepping in the exertion. The bowler tries to angle in at Warner’s legs for the free hit, but Warner steps across towards it and misses his shot, getting some pad on it to deflect for four leg byes. Bumrah goes short again to finish the over, hitting Warner in the shoulder as the batsman misses another pull. Expensive!

21st over: Australia 107-0 (Warner 43, Finch 55) I know you’re all glued to this, so you’ll be thrilled to know that Warner and Finch have moved up one spot to become the 27th most prolific ODI partnership, passing Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka who made 3430 together.

Four singles from Jadeja’s over.

20th over: Australia 103-0 (Warner 41, Finch 53) Nearly run out! Should have been baked and basted! Finch had given up by the time the throw came in. Finch hits straight to mid-on, to Jadeja, the worst person in the world to take a fast single to. But Jadeja misses the throw! Not from long distance either. That’s a real chance gone begging.

Fifty! Aaron Finch 50 from 69 balls

19th over: Australia 100-0 (Warner 40, Finch 51) Jadeja doing the job, three runs from his over, one of them bringing up his 28th half-century in ODIs. Next comes the team hundred.


18th over: Australia 97-0 (Warner 39, Finch 49) There’s some ground caught up by Finch! Chahal floating the ball up, Finch slog-sweeping, huge over deep mid for six! That’s a long blow into the Members’ stand at the SCG. The over costs 13 with a couple of wides into the bargain.

17th over: Australia 84-0 (Warner 37, Finch 40) It’s an ongoing curiosity that Finch is a deceptively slow scorer in 50-over cricket. He’s played some famously destructive knocks in the T20 format, but often gets bogged down in the longer form. As he gets a single from Jadeja, he’s got 40 from 60 balls. Jadeja goes up for a caught behind as Finch tries to sweep down the leg side, KL Rahul is seemingly convinced, but they don’t review when the umpire turns it down.

There’s a round of applause around the ground too as the clock ticks over to 4:08pm local time – 408 is the Test cap number of Phillip Hughes, who died six years ago today after being injured while batting at this ground.

16th over: Australia 81-0 (Warner 35, Finch 39) Almost a chance! Chahal bowls slow and very wide of off stump, it would have been called if Finch hadn’t gone after it. He gets a thick toe top-edge, and the ball loops over point. Shikhar Dhawan runs back a long way, dives, and almost fingertips it but the ball just has enough on it to elude him. Finch gets two very ropey runs. Finch eventually gets off strike with a drive down the ground.

15th over: Australia 76-0 (Warner 34, Finch 36) Ravindra Jadeja now, it’s a double spin attack. Left-arm orthodox, flat and fast. He has a couple of lbw shouts in the over against Finch, the first not a good one as Finch had advanced and may have nicked it, the second looking much more likely as it strikes in line with the off stump with Finch playing back, but the umpire has some doubt about the bounce, and the video projection suggests it would have just gone over.

14th over: Australia 72-0 (Warner 33, Finch 34) Chahal to bowl, and Warner slog-sweeps for four! Deep midwicket, hit hard and flat, he played that on the length more than anything.

The crazy part about that partnerships list is that Tendulkar has four of the top 25, including three of the top 12. Those are with Azharuddin, Dravid, Sehwag, and Ganguly.

13th over: Australia 64-0 (Warner 27, Finch 32) Saini tries a bouncer against Finch, but he’s called wide for height. The batsmen are comfortably working him into gaps in the field, not trying anything too aggressive. At the moment they have… 3403 runs in partnership together. (Not today.) Which leaves them 28th all time.

12th over: Australia 56-0 (Warner 23, Finch 30) It’s spin time, and this is so often the key contest in India-Australia matches. A shame we won’t see Kuldeep Yadav today, the left-arm wrist-spinner, but we’ve got the right-arm version in Yuzvendra Chahal. He drifts down the leg side for a wide first up against Warner, but is right on the spot thereafter. Warner just pushes a single to square leg. Finch wanders out of his crease a few times, but Chahal is teasing him through the air with flight, some drift, giving him no room for five scoreless deliveries in a row.


11th over: Australia 54-0 (Warner 22, Finch 30) The first ten overs gone, Australia not flying but haven’t lost a wicket, which sets them up beautifully with a decent platform. They’re happy to work singles from Saini’s deliveries on the shorter side.

10th over: Australia 51-0 (Warner 20, Finch 29) Shami is back for Bumrah from the Paddington end of the ground, and immediately he’s bowling well. Had such a good IPL, he’s become a top-rate bowler in the short forms. Everything is in at the hip of Finch, giving him no room to swing. Takes three balls for Finch to dink a single. Shami asks Kohli and Bumrah to inspect the ball, then they carry on. At the hip again for Warner who glances a run. Finch defends a fuller ball on off stump, then another tailing into middle.

9th over: Australia 49-0 (Warner 19, Finch 28) Saini bowls short to start again, and Finch pings another boundary through the off side, airborne into the gap at cover point. He drops a single away, then Warner gets a short ball on his hip and plays that little low pull shot that he likes, helping it away behind square leg for four more. Saini 14 from 9 balls, then he bowls fuller and very wide across Warner, who utterly tees off and can’t reach it, trying to flog it over mid-off. Saini comes back in at the body of the left-hander, tying him up for the last two balls.

8th over: Australia 40-0 (Warner 15, Finch 23) Bumrah will bowl his fourth on the trot. Warner has hardly faced in the last couple of overs. Gets the strike now via an inside edge onto pad from Finch for a run. Warner picks up a couple of runs through midwicket. A strong off-side field in the ring for Warner: point, cover point, backward point. He hits into that trap a couple of times, no runs. Quiet over.

7th over: Australia 37-0 (Warner 13, Finch 22) There’s a hold-up in play with a couple of pitch invaders. These aren’t your typical drunken-afternoon types, they’re holding signs protesting against the Adani mining company. Some tangential relevance to an India match, given the giant wealthy and extremely suspect Indian company with a terrible environmental and ethical record is currently trying to dig up half of Queensland and burn a mountain of coal to further entrench the climate crisis.

Given virus restrictions, the players stay away from the protesters, and the protesters stay away from the players, and eventually some stewards trot out to the middle and escort the uninvited guests away.

Eventually Navdeep Saini gets his chance to bowl his first ball in Australia, which Finch cuts for four. Four dot balls follow, then a brilliant dive from Jadeja at backward point stops another cut-shot boundary and keeps it to a single.

6th over: Australia 32-0 (Warner 13, Finch 17) A bouncer from Bumrah to start, which Finch can’t get anything on as it angles in at a leg-stump line. But when Bumrah goes short again, at chest height, Finch nails a convincing boundary for the first time today. Third man and fine leg are the only two fielders out, and he pulls square of the wicket along the ground for four. With a single to mid-on, Finch raises 5000 ODI runs, trailing only Warner and Ricky Ponting in terms of how many matches it has taken him to reach that mark. He’s got 15 Australians ahead of him on the all-time runs list.

5th over: Australia 27-0 (Warner 13, Finch 12) The Australians start to get going. Warner drops a single, Finch guides two from Shami. Then flicks off the pads, but the ball slows up inside the midwicket rope and forces them to run three. Another three runs as Warner goes across the line and rather miscues a shot back over the bowler’s head, flying high and stopping when it hits the ground. Finch gets a wide ball and utterly smokes it with the cut shot, but straight along the ground to third man. Ten from the over.

4th over: Australia 17-0 (Warner 9, Finch 6) Bumrah bowls, Finch drives on the up for four! A streaky shot, punched even though it wasn’t full enough, hits it flat and airborne but Agarwal diving across from extra cover can’t get a hand to it. Bumrah tries to bang in a short one but errs down the leg side. KL Rahul is the part-time keeper in this team and he doesn’t stop the ball cleanly, allowing them an extra extra (read all about it). Warner dabs behind point, and there’s his other trademark: running the first so hard that it gives him time to come back for a second. That looked like a single from the get-go, hit just square of the deep third man, but he gets back for two. His speed between the wickets saves him on the last of the over, as Warner just checks to mid-on, and Finch is so conditioned to run on everything that they go on this shot too. India’s players erupt when Saini hits the stumps direct with an underarm diving throw, but the replay shows Warner’s own dive has just got some bat into his ground.

3rd over: Australia 8-0 (Warner 6, Finch 2) Shami continues from the Randwick End, with the Clive Churchill Stand behind him. Ties up Finch for three balls in a row, right on the off stump. Four balls. At the fifth, Finch marches at Shami and tries to clout through the off side, but Shami has bowled wider this time and it beats the shot. “It’s the control of length,” says Ed Cowan on ABC radio. Shami has been back of a length throughout, making it impossible to drive. Finch has the same movement from the final ball, but walks wider of his off stump, counters the wide line, and stabs a run out to the covers.

2nd over: Australia 7-0 (Warner 6, Finch 1) Jasprit Bumrah to bowl the second, who was so, so good on his last visit to these shores. Warner gets another drop-and-run single, but this time he didn’t want it – he was standing there holding his bat up saying no, but Finch had already committed and was running to the danger end with the ball rolling back near the bowler in Bumrah’s follow-through. Warner eventually takes off for the run, and Finch does a huge slip-n-slide dive all the way down the side of the house to the end of the yard. Finch gets off the mark with his own nudge and sprint, then Warner finds the first boundary of the match, his trademark back-foot punch square of the wicket on the off side.

“Great to have you back to interrupt my Excel nightmares!” writes Rohan O’Farrell. It’s not all bad, spreadsheets are where my best stats live.

1st over: Australia 1-0 (Warner 1, Finch 0) Here we go! India take the field with the new dark-blue retro uniforms. Mohammed Shami will start us off, and he’s right on the money immediately, bowling with pace and lift for a ball that bounces away from Warner’s outside edge. Warner shuffles forward the next ball and drops a single softly into the off-side. He’s so good at that. Finch now is the batsman being troubled outside his off stump. Left-hander, right-hander, doesn’t matter for Shami.

Australians, don’t fret about the score, even for Australia games we write it in the style used by… the entire rest of the world.

Iain Bannantyne has emailed in, very excited to see things underway. “Can you explain how many fans are allowed in and is booze unrestricted?!”

The capacity today is 23,000, which is about half the usual capacity. I’m not currently in a position to be eyeing off any drinks, but the bars downstairs did seem to be ready for trading as I made my way through the ground earlier. There is probably a consumption-in-seats rule as with a lot of venues.

Things of note on those teams are: Australia with a very conventional XI, but it’s interesting that Labuschagne is listed as low as No5 when he’s done all his good work for Australia thus far at No3. Smith up at first drop has necessitated that. Labuschagne’s ability to go up through the gears will be one thing to keep an eye on. Carey and Maxwell have swapped spots from the configuration that produced their epic match-winning stand in the most recent Australian match, at Old Trafford in September when they won the series 2-1.

For India, Agarwal over Shubman Gill is one talking point, Shreyas Iyer in the middle is interesting, and Navdeep Saini will play despite some recent troubles with his back.


Aaron Finch *
David Warner
Steven Smith
Marcus Stoinis
Marnus Labuschagne
Glenn Maxwell
Alex Carey +
Pat Cummins
Mitchell Starc
Adam Zampa
Josh Hazlewood

Shikhar Dhawan
Mayank Agarwal
Virat Kohli *
Shreyas Iyer
KL Rahul +
Hardik Pandya
Ravindra Jadeja
Mohammed Shami
Yuzvendra Chahal
Jasprit Bumrah
Navdeep Saini


Australia wins the toss and will bat

Interesting choice given India’s prowess while chasing in ODIs, but Australian coach Justin Langer subscribes to the scoreboard-pressure school of thought more often than not.

Get in touch

You can write to us on the internet. Observations, musings, remonstrations. My email address is pretty straightforward, Or if you want to send allegations of election fraud, the appropriate medium is Twitter, via @GeoffLemonSport.


It’s been a long time coming, but the Australian men’s team is back in action on home soil. The most recent occasion was the first one-dayer against New Zealand back in March, in a series that was abruptly called off when the Land of the Long White Cloud announced imminent border closures and the team had to jet home to avoid cancelled flights and weeks of quarantine. That one match was played behind closed doors in an empty stadium, but this match today will be able to have some semblance of a crowd in, under virus restrictions naturally.

The press box here at the Sydney Cricket Ground is also sparsely populated with attendees who are spaced out (in the physical sense rather than the mental). The pitch has some green tinges on it but I suspect those will be illusory in terms of any effect on the ball, and that the pitch will be hard and true. The outfield here looks pretty parched, a fair bit of white showing through the grass.

India is the opponent today, and what a match-up that will be. Virat Kohli with a limited time to have an impact before he heads home from the tour early just before Christmas. India’s players primed after a long IPL season, though they’ll have to adjust that approach a bit for 50-over cricket. We’ll have teams and the toss for you as they happen. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Corona Virus, Health, World

Coronavirus live news: Germany extends partial lockdown as Ukraine reports record daily cases


Powered by article titled “Coronavirus live news: Germany extends partial lockdown as Ukraine reports record daily cases” was written by Matthew Weaver(now) and Helen Sullivan (earlier), for on Thursday 26th November 2020 09.17 UTC

Sadiq al-Mahdi in 2019
Sadiq al-Mahdi in 2019.
Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Sudan’s last democratically elected prime minister, Sadiq al-Mahdi, who was overthrown in the 1989 military coup that brought Omar al-Bashir to power, has died after a coronavirus infection, Reuters reports.

Mahdi, 84, had been taken to hospital in the United Arab Emirates three weeks ago.

His moderate Umma party was one of the largest opposition parties under Bashir, and Mahdi remained an influential figure even after Bashir was toppled in April 2019.

Sudan’s transitional administration, which governs under a power sharing deal between the military and civilian groups, declared three days of mourning.

Last month, Mahdi’s family said he had tested positive for Covid-19. He was transferred to the UAE for treatment a few days later following a brief hospitalisation in Sudan.

In a statement, the Umma party said Mahdi would be buried on Friday morning in the city of Omdurman in Sudan.


A man wearing a protective mask walks in front of a public tv screen showing Tokyo governor, Yuriko Koike, speaking at a press conference
A man wearing a protective mask walks in front of a public TV screen showing the Tokyo governor, Yuriko Koike, speaking at a press conference.
Photograph: Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Bars and restaurants in Tokyo have been asked to close early for the next three weeks as the city attempts to avoid a year-end surge in Covid-19 cases.

The governor, Yuriko Koike, said places serving alcohol, including karaoke venues, should close by 10pm from Saturday until 17 December.

Speaking to reporters she said:

To prevent a further spread of infections and protect the lives of the residents of Tokyo, we are taking brief and intensive measures. We realise this is an extremely important time of year for business owners, but if we don’t stop this now it’s just going to keep going.

Japan’s national and local governments do not have the legal powers to enforce business closures or European-style lockdowns. Businesses that comply will be eligible for a one-off payment of ¥400,000 (£2,900) from the metropolitan government.

The requested restrictions on opening hours are the first since the end of August, when Tokyo was confronted by a second wave of infections. Daily cases have been rising again in recent weeks, with 401 on Wednesday, following a record 537 last week. The city now has a total of 38,598 cases.

In addition to health ministry advice to avoid the “three Cs” – confined and crowded spaces, and close human contact – Koike has unveiled “five smalls” – precautions that should be taken when dining out.

Under these guidelines, people should eat in small groups, keep their meals brief, avoid eating from shared plates, talk quietly and observe established preventive measures such as mask wearing, hand sanitising and visiting only properly ventilated places. Koike has also asked people to avoid non-essential outings and to work remotely where possible.

Several parts of Japan have witnessed a surge in new infections, prompting the government this week to remove Sapporo and Osaka from a subsidised tourism campaign aimed at propping up regional economies during the pandemic.

Japan’s third wave has prompted warnings about the strain the rise in serious cases is placing on hospitals. Toshio Nakagawa, the president of the Japan Medical Association, said more beds were being taken up by patients with severe Covid-19 symptoms, forcing staff to scale down the treatment of other illnesses.

“We need to act urgently or we will face a nationwide crisis,” Nakagawa said, urging authorities to restrict business operations. “As medical professionals, we believe that vigorous disease prevention is also best for the economy.”

Japan has fared better than many other countries since the start of the pandemic. As of Wednesday, it had 135,400 cases and 2,001 deaths, the health ministry said.


Merkel warns restrictions may last until next year

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wears a face mask before delivering a speech during a session at the Bundestag
German chancellor Angela Merkel wears a face mask before delivering a speech during a session at the Bundestag.
Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Restrictive measures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Germany will be in place until at least the end of December and possibly longer, the chancellor, Angela Merkel, has told parliament.

She said:

Given the high number of infections, we assume that the restrictions which are in place before Christmas will be continue to be valid until the start of January, certainly for most parts of Germany.

We have to say, unfortunately, that we cannot promise an easing for Christmas and New Year’s.

She confirmed that Germans will be allowed to congregate in groups of up 10 people over Christmas. But she urged the public to remember that there around 27 million vulnerable Germans who can’t be protected.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 22,268 to 983,588, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday, while the death toll rose by 389 to 15,160.

Merkel said the number of Covid cases in Germany was “stagnating at a high – far too high – level”.

Late last night she agreed with leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states to extend and tighten the coronavirus lockdown until December 20, but ease rules over the Christmas holidays to let families and friends celebrate together.

Merkel’s chief of staff said rules limiting social contact might be needed for longer.

“We have difficult winter months ahead of us. This will continue until March,” Helge Braun told RTL television.

“After March, I am very optimistic because we will probably be able to vaccinate more and more people and it will be easier to keep infection rates low with the spring.”

Merkel said vaccines could arrive before Christmas.


Finland’s coronavirus situation has worsened rapidly in recent days, the prime minister, Sanna Marin, has warned.

Finland’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants stood at 75.8 on Wednesday, Europe’s second lowest level behind Iceland, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data showed.

But Marin warned the number of new cases was rising at a worrying pace.

Speaking at a press conference she said: “I strongly appeal to the local and regional authorities to work together to ensure that the disease situation is kept under control.”

Arnaud Fontanet, an epidemiologist advising the government in France, has said the country can return to normal by autumn 2021 if more than 80% of the population can be vaccinated.

But in an interview on BFMTV he warned getting the vaccinate is no guarantee against becoming sick.

Speaking while wearing a mask he also cautioned that masks may be necessary while the virus remains in circulation. “We must be vigilant” he said.

The New Zealand government has issued the touring Pakistan cricket team with a “final warning” after six of the team tested positive following rule breaches while they were isolation in Christchurch.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health on Thursday said all 53 members of the travelling party, including players and staff, were tested on arrival on 24 November and the positive results are from those tests.

New Zealand Cricket said in a statement all players in the squad had tested negative four times before leaving Lahore. Two of the six results were “historical” infections while four were new. NZC said it had been made aware members of the squad may have breached strict biosecurity protocols on the first day of their 14-day mandatory isolation.

As part of measures to prevent Covid-19 being brought into the country, the team were not allowed to socialise, eat or train together outside their small bubbles while in isolation.

The health ministry said: the team as a whole has been issued with a final warning”. Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield added:

It is a privilege to come to New Zealand to play sport, but in return teams must stick to the rules that are designed to keep Covid-19 out of our communities and keep our staff safe.

Read more here:

The UK government is facing calls to publish scientific advice on the relaxing of Covid-19 rules over Christmas amid warnings that a single infectious guest could infect a third of those at a household gathering.

Under rules revealed by the prime minister on Tuesday, up to three households can form a “bubble” for five days over Christmas.

It prompted some scientists to speak out, warning that mixing will inevitably lead to an increase in infections come the new year, leading to deaths. Some said the government should have put greater emphasis on the dangers and potential control measures.

Now experts have called for the government to release advice given by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

Read more here:

People pay tribute in Buenos Aires to one of the best footballers in history
People pay tribute in Buenos Aires to one of the best footballers in history
Photograph: Roberto Tuero/REX/Shutterstock

There wasn’t much sign of social distancing in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires last night, at the start of three days of national mourning for the footballer Diego Maradona.


Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said he’s considering limiting Christmas celebrations to six people, Reuters reports.

Speaking on Wednesday Sánchez he said:

This is not a number we have pulled out of nowhere. It is a number which health professionals, scientists have told us is sufficiently rigorous and restrictive to prevent another surge in infections.

The central government is still negotiating the next round of restrictions with regional authorities, meaning some changes could be introduced.

The health ministry recorded 10,222 new cases on Wednesday, while the death toll rose by 369 to 44,037, slowing from the previous day’s jump of 537, which marked a record for the second wave.

Photographer Jill Mead has taken a poignant set of pictures of London during the second lockdown.


That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, in Sydney.

I’m off to our socially distanced office Christmas party and am very glad to be nowhere near this Turkey:

Ukraine reports record daily cases

Ukraine registered a record 15,331 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Thursday, up from a previous record of 14,580 reported on 21 November.

He said the total number of cases had climbed to 677,189, with 11,717 deaths.

Medical specialists pose for a picture in a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease in KyivDoctors and medical specialists wearing personal protective equipment pose for a picture in a hospital for patients infected with coronavirus, Kyiv, Ukraine 25 November 2020.
Medical specialists pose for a picture in a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease in Kyiv
Doctors and medical specialists wearing personal protective equipment pose for a picture in a hospital for patients infected with coronavirus, Kyiv, Ukraine 25 November 2020.

Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Disney to lay off 32,000 workers in first half of 2021

Walt Disney Co said on Wednesday it would lay off 32,000 workers, primarily at its theme parks, an increase from the 28,000 it announced in September, as the company struggles with limited customers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The layoffs will be in the first half of 2021, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Earlier this month, Disney said it was furloughing additional workers from its theme park in Southern California due to uncertainty over when the state would allow parks to reopen.

Disneyland Resort and Downtown Disney, Anaheim, California, USA.
Disneyland Resort and Downtown Disney, Anaheim, California, USA.
Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

Disney’s theme parks in Florida and those outside the United States reopened earlier this year without seeing new major coronavirus outbreaks but with strict social distancing, testing and mask use.

Disneyland Paris was forced to close again late last month when France imposed a new lockdown to fight a second wave of the coronavirus cases.

The company’s theme parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo remain open.
Disney did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on whether the 28,000 layoffs announced earlier were included in the latest figure, but a spokesperson for the company confirmed to Variety that the figure includes the previously announced number.


Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • Germany extends partial lockdown. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors on Wednesday agreed to extend a partial shutdown well into December in an effort to further reduce the rate of Covid-19 infections ahead of the Christmas period.
  • South Korea reports highest cases since March. South Korea has reported its highest daily number of Covid-19 cases since March, despite the recent introduction of stricter social distancing measuresin Seoul and other virus hotspots. The country reported 583 infections on Thursday, the first time they had topped 500 since 6 March.
  • CDC estimates only 1 in 8 infections caught. A new government report says the US is still missing nearly eight coronavirus infections for every one counted. By the end of September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that as many as 53 million Americans had been infected. That is just under eight times the confirmed cases reported at the time. Previously, the CDC estimated that one of every 10 infections were being missed.
  • Global cases surpassed 60m, according to researchers at both Johns Hopkins University. According to Reuters, the pace of new infections is accelerating and the United States is reporting its worst numbers of hospitalisations.
  • Authorities in Sicily asked Cuba’s government to send to the region about 60 health operators, including doctors and nurses, as hospitals are struggling with a shortage of medical personnel during the second wave. The request was filed this week to the Italian embassy in Cuba and consists of intensive care specialists, nurses, anaesthetists, resuscitators, virologists and pneumologists, the Italian newspaper la Repubblica reported.
  • The Americas reported more than 1.5m cases in the last seven days; the highest weekly number since the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization regional branch PAHO said. The rapid surge of infections in the US continued and cases accelerated in countries of North, Central and South America, PAHO said. In Canada, infections were rising particularly among the elderly and indigenous communities.
  • The daily death toll in the US reached 2,157 – one person every 40 seconds. It was the first time since May that deaths had passed 2,000 in 24 hours.
  • Germany reported 410 deaths in 24 hours; its worst such toll since the pandemic began. It came as the chancellor Angela Merkel met with 16 federal state leaders to discuss restrictions for the Christmas and new year holidays.
  • Iran recorded its worst daily caseload, with the health ministry reporting 13,843 new infections. That pushed the national tally to 894,385 in the Middle East’s worst-hit country. The ministry’s spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, told state TV the death toll rose by 469 in 24 hours to 46,207.

A little more than half the 26,700 Australians stranded overseas in September who Scott Morrison suggested could come home by Christmas have returned to Australia.

Despite the prime minister boasting on Thursday that 35,000 Australians have returned home since September, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials revealed that just 14,000 of those were registered with the department.

That means of the original cohort who had registered by 18 September, more than 12,000 Australians are yet to return home:

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 22,268 to 983,588, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 389 to 15,160, the tally showed.

Podcast: how vaccines lead to immunity – podcast

With a number of Covid-19 vaccines seemingly on the way, Nicola Davis talks to Prof Eleanor Riley about how they might help the body’s defence mechanisms fight the virus:

Six members of the Pakistan men’s cricket team have tested positive for Covid-19 in managed isolation in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The affected players have been moved to quarantine, the ministry of health said, and all training at outside facilities would be cancelled.

In addition, since their arrival, several team members have been seen on CCTV at the facility breaching managed isolation rules, MoH said.

All incidents of breaches occurred within the facility and there is no risk to the public, but the team as a whole has been issued with a final warning.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said any breaches of managed isolation rules were taken very seriously.

“It is a privilege to come to New Zealand to play sport, but in return teams must stick to the rules that are designed to keep Covid-19 out of our communities and keep our staff safe.”

It is unclear if the team’s match with the Black Caps on December 18 will go ahead.

India recorded 44,489 new coronavirus infections, data from the health ministry showed on Thursday, the 19th straight day that single-day cases have stayed below the 50,000 mark.

India’s coronavirus tally now stands at 9.27 million, the second-highest in the world, after the United States.

Deaths rose by 524, taking the total to 135,223.

South Korea reports highest cases since March

South Korea has reported its highest daily number of Covid-19 cases since March, despite the recent introduction of stricter social distancing measuresin Seoul and other virus hotspots.

The country reported 583 infections on Thursday, the first time they had topped 500 since 6 March.

While previous clusters were traced to large church gatherings, authorities are now battling several additional routes of transmission, including private get-togethers. The armed forces ordered a 10-day ban on leave after a series of outbreaks at military facilities, including 60 cases among recruits beginning their 18-month national service at a camp in Yeoncheon near the border with North Korea.

“Covid-19 has arrived right beside you and your family,” the health minister, Park Neung-hoo, said at a televised meeting with health officials. “In particular, the spread of infections among young generations is extraordinary.”

Some experts said the government had been too quick to ease social distancing measures earlier this year after a second wave of infections appeared to have passed.

“The easing was done because of economic concerns and growing fatigue but it was premature and sowed the seeds of complacency among the public,” Kim Woo-joo, a professor of infectious diseases at Korea University Guro Hospital in Seoul, told Reuters.

The surge in infections among younger people comes ahead of nationwide university exams on 3 December. Students have been told not to attend cram schools or take private lessons in preparation for the exams, which will involve around half a million college hopefuls.

“Infections are emerging concurrently in our daily lives including family gatherings and informal get-togethers which makes it difficult for the government to take preemptive action,” the education minister, Yoo Eun-hae, told a briefing.

Of Thursday’s cases, 553 were locally transmitted and almost 73% of those were in the greater Seoul area, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said. Total infections in South Korea, which has been widely praised for its response to the pandemic, stand at 32,318, with 515 deaths.


In a global push to end violence against women, activists held rallies Wednesday and world leaders called for action to stop the abuse, which has worsened because of the coronavirus pandemic this year, AP reports.

Protests from France to Ukraine were held on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to draw attention to domestic violence in what is an uphill struggle to protect millions of women killed or abused every year by their partners and close relatives.

In Rome, the office of the prime minister was being lit in red and red banners tumbled from trade union offices in Florence to demand an end to violence against women. Italy was a hotbed for Covid-19 infections this year, forcing the government to impose lockdowns to keep the virus out. In an unintended consequence, domestic violence cases began to grow.

Even if detailed statistics were hard to come by, organizations and countries, from the United Nations to the European Union, France and Britain, all said that the pandemic had so far been an additional source for men to mistreat women.

In Ukraine, the Femen feminist activist group staged a protest outside the president’s office with a brief topless protest.

Police officers arrest an activist of Femen movement protesting outside Ukrainian President’s to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Kiev on 25 November 2020.
Police officers arrest an activist of Femen movement protesting outside Ukrainian President’s to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Kiev on 25 November 2020.
Photograph: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

UN agency UNAIDS said that “evidence shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in significant increases in gender-based violence in nearly all countries,” especially for women trapped at home with their abuser.

“Men’s violence against women is also a pandemic — one that pre-dates the virus and will outlive it,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of the UN Women agency.

“Last year alone, 243 million women and girls experienced sexual or physical violence from their partner. This year, reports of increased domestic violence, cyberbullying, child marriages, sexual harassment and sexual violence have flooded in,” she said.

In Turkey, where at least 234 women were killed since the start of the year, according to government figures, riot police in Istanbul blocked a small group of demonstrators from marching to the city’s iconic Taksim Square to denounce violence against women. The government has declared the square off-bounds for demonstrations.

Elsewhere in Istanbul, some 2,000 other women staged a peaceful demonstration calling on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to remain committed to a European treaty on combatting violence against women.

Podcast: How the Covid-19 pandemic has increased Amazon’s dominance

As high street rivals were forced to close this year, Amazon has gone from strength to strength. But reports of conditions in some of its huge warehouses have brought a new level of scrutiny, as John Harris explains:

A recent survey conducted by the Novus polling institute suggested that 26 percent of Swedes do not plan to take any of the Covid-19 vaccines being developed and 28 percent are undecided, AFP reports.

Forty-six percent said they would get a jab.

Of those opposed, 87 percent said it was due to fears over as-yet unknown side effects.

Health authorities in the Scandinavian country in 2009 urged the public to voluntarily take the Pandemrix vaccine against swine flu, made by British drug company GlaxoSmithKline.

A woman rides an electric scooter wearing a protective mask, amid the continuous spread of the coronavirus pandemic, along Standvagen in Stockholm, Sweden, 20 November 2020.
A woman rides an electric scooter wearing a protective mask, amid the continuous spread of the coronavirus pandemic, along Standvagen in Stockholm, Sweden, 20 November 2020.
Photograph: Tt News Agency/Reuters

More than 60 percent heeded the call – the highest level in the world.

Hundreds of young Swedes suffered debilitating narcolepsy after a mass vaccination campaign against the 2009-2010 swine flu pandemic.

The experience has shaken Swedes’ confidence in any future vaccine against the new coronavirus, compounding fears about unknown long-term side effects.

In the US, national reading and math tests long used to track what students know in those subjects are being postponed from next year to 2022 over concerns about whether testing would be feasible or produce valid results during the coronavirus pandemic, the National Center for Education Statistics announced Wednesday.

AP: The biennial National Assessment of Educational Progress evaluations used for the Nation’s Report Card were slated early next year for hundreds of thousands of the country’s fourth and eighth graders. But widespread remote learning and health protocols would have added big complications and costs because the model uses shared equipment and sends outside proctors to conduct the testing in schools.

Pushing ahead with testing in 2021 runs the risk of spending tens of millions of dollars and still not getting the data necessary to produce a reliable, comparable picture of state and national student performance, NCES Commissioner James Woodworth said in a statement. By law, they would have to wait another two years for the next chance at testing.

Testing in 2022 instead “would be more likely to provide valuable — and valid — data about student achievement in the wake of Covid-19 to support effective policy, research, and resource allocation,” the leaders of the National Assessment Governing Board said in a separate statement supporting the move.

José Manuel Mireles, one of leaders of a civilian militia formed in 2013 to fight a drug cartel in western Mexico, died Wednesday, a government health agency confirmed.

Mireles was a physician who worked for the federal Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers.

The agency confirmed his death, but did not give a cause. Those operating Mireles’ personal Twitter account said he died of the effects of Covid-19.

Leaders like Mireles and Hipolito Mora organized people in the western state of Michoacan to fight the Knights Templar drug cartel. The cartel had controlled almost every aspect of life in parts of Michoacan, extorting money systematically from residents.

Doctor José Manuel Mireles.
Doctor José Manuel Mireles.
Photograph: Dario Lopez-Mills/AP

After largely expelling the cartel, some of the vigilante-style groups eventually fought among themselves, and some came under the influence of other gangs.

The government at first channeled weapons to the self-defense militias, and then tried to disarm and demobilize them.

Mireles was arrested on weapons charges and spent nearly three years behind bars awaiting trial before being freed on bond in May 2017. He was acquitted in 2018.


Barack Obama has said part of the reason more than 73 million Americans voted to re-elect Donald Trump in the election was because of messaging from Republicans that the country was under attack – particularly white men.

In an interview with the radio show the Breakfast Club on Wednesday to promote his new memoir A Promised Land, Obama said Trump’s administration, which he did not name directly, ‘objectively has failed, miserably, in handling just basic looking after the American people and keeping them safe’, and yet he still secured millions of votes:


CDC estimates only 1 in 8 infections caught

A new government report says the US is still missing nearly eight coronavirus infections for every one counted.

By the end of September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that as many as 53 million Americans had been infected. That is just under eight times the confirmed cases reported at the time.

Previously, the CDC estimated that one of every 10 infections were being missed.
The latest CDC calculation is meant to give a more accurate picture of how many people actually have caught the virus since the pandemic began. Of the 53 million estimated infections, the CDC says about 45 million were sick at some point and about 2.4 million were hospitalized.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has warned Britain that its Covid-19 economic emergency has only just begun after responding to news of the deepest slump in more than 300 years by pledging a fresh £55bn to tackle the pandemic.

On the day that the daily death toll from the virus reached a new second-wave peak of 696, the chancellor said that despite borrowing a peacetime record of £394bn this year, he would need to carry on spending in order to protect lives and livelihoods.

Sunak said his one-year spending plan for the economy included the biggest sustained increase in infrastructure investment for four decades, and involved more money for housing, railways, broadband upgrades and Boris Johnson’s green agenda, totalling £100bn next year:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed hope that the arrival of the first vaccines in coming weeks would help turn the corner on the pandemic.

“A lot indicates that 2021 will bring us relief,” she said.

The country’s disease control agency released a new version of its contact tracing app Wednesday that includes reminders for people to share positive test results with people they were in close proximity to.

The app had been downloaded 22.8 million times by Friday. Its decentralized, privacy-focused design has been copied by several other European countries.

More on Germany now, with the AP:

During a seven-hour video call, federal and state officials also agreed on a number of new restrictions.

These include:

—Limiting private gatherings to five people from up to two households, not counting children under 14. Over the festive period that number will be increased to 10, to allow for small family gatherings.

—Traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks will be discouraged, and banned entirely in some popular streets and squares.

—Employers will be encouraged to let staff work from home 23 December to 1 January.

—Masks will be required in front of stores, in parking lots and in most secondary schools.

—The number of customers allowed into larger stores will be reduced.

The government also plans around 17 billion euros ($20 billion) more in aid to compensate businesses hit by the shutdown, on top of 15 billion euros provided by federal authorities in November.

Germany, which has 83 million people, was credited with a relatively good performance in the first phase of the pandemic. It still has a lower death rate than several other European countries, and its current shutdown has been relatively mild.

Germany has reported a total of 961,320 virus cases since the pandemic began, including 14,771 deaths.

Germany extends partial lockdown

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors on Wednesday agreed to extend a partial shutdown well into December in an effort to further reduce the rate of Covid-19 infections ahead of the Christmas period.

Germany embarked on a so-called “wave-breaker” shutdown on 2 November, closing restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities but leaving schools, shops and hair salons open. It was initially slated to last four weeks.

Merkel said the measures will now be extended until at least 20 December, with a goal of pushing the number of new coronavirus cases in each region below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants per week.

“We have to continue to pursue this goal,” she told reporters in Berlin.

Merkel said that while existing measures have succeeded in halting a surge in new coronavirus infections, they have stabilised at a high level.

Germany’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 18,633 new cases over the past 24 hours — compared with 17,561 a week earlier.

“We can’t be satisfied with this partial success,” she said, noting that health officials on Wednesday also reported 410 deaths linked to Covid-19, the highest single-day total yet.

“(This) reminds us in the saddest way that behind the statistics are human fates,” Merkel said.


Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

My name is Helen Sullivan, and this time last year I was in Beirut preparing to have my first ever thanksgiving. Where were you – and do you celebrate the turkey holiday?

Let me know on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

As the world reported its highest daily death toll of the pandemic so far, with 12,785 Covid deaths reported in 24 hours, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors on Wednesday agreed to extend a partial shutdown well into December in an effort to further reduce the rate of Covid-19 infections ahead of the Christmas period.

Germany embarked on a so-called “wave-breaker” shutdown on 2 November, closing restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities but leaving schools, shops and hair salons open. It was initially slated to last four weeks.

Merkel said the measures will now be extended until at least 20 December, with a goal of pushing the number of new coronavirus cases in each region below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants per week.

“We have to continue to pursue this goal,” she told reporters in Berlin.

  • Global cases surpassed 60m, according to researchers at both Johns Hopkins University. According to Reuters, the pace of new infections is accelerating and the United States is reporting its worst numbers of hospitalisations.
  • Authorities in Sicily asked Cuba’s government to send to the region about 60 health operators, including doctors and nurses, as hospitals are struggling with a shortage of medical personnel during the second wave. The request was filed this week to the Italian embassy in Cuba and consists of intensive care specialists, nurses, anaesthetists, resuscitators, virologists and pneumologists, the Italian newspaper la Repubblica reported.
  • The Americas reported more than 1.5m cases in the last seven days; the highest weekly number since the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization regional branch PAHO said. The rapid surge of infections in the US continued and cases accelerated in countries of North, Central and South America, PAHO said. In Canada, infections were rising particularly among the elderly and indigenous communities.
  • The daily death toll in the US reached 2,157 – one person every 40 seconds. It was the first time since May that deaths had passed 2,000 in 24 hours.
  • Germany reported 410 deaths in 24 hours; its worst such toll since the pandemic began. It came as the chancellor Angela Merkel met with 16 federal state leaders to discuss restrictions for the Christmas and new year holidays.
  • Iran recorded its worst daily caseload, with the health ministry reporting 13,843 new infections. That pushed the national tally to 894,385 in the Middle East’s worst-hit country. The ministry’s spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, told state TV the death toll rose by 469 in 24 hours to 46,207. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Biden prepares key cabinet picks as Trump team cuts ties with attorney – live


Powered by article titled “GSA says transition process can begin – as it happened” was written by Maanvi Singh (now), Joan E Greve and Martin Belam (earlier), for on Tuesday 24th November 2020 03.09 UTC

2.37am GMT


From me and Joan E Greve:

  • The General Services Administration has allowed for the presidential transition to begin. After an initial delay, the agency’s head, Emily Murphy, has sent Joe Biden a letter recognizing him as the election winner – opening up access to funds, office space and classified briefings.
  • Donald Trump tweeted that he had directed Murphy to go ahead, in contradiction to her public statements that she had not consulted with the president. “In the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same,” Trump said, though he has yet to formally concede.
  • Republican senators Lamar Alexander and Bill Cassidy acknowledged Biden as president-elect as Michigan certified election results and the GSA unblocked the transition. Still, many top Republicans have continued to side with Trump in refusing to concede.
  • Joe Biden announced several key appointments and nominations for his national security and foreign policy team. Former secretary of state John Kerry will serve as the president-elect’s special envoy to address climate change, and former deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken will be nominated to lead the state department.
  • Former Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen will be nominated to lead the treasury department, according to multiple reports. If confirmed, Yellen would become the first woman in US history to serve as treasury secretary.
  • California senator Dianne Feinstein said she won’t seek to retain her position as the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee. She faced backlash from progressives after she praised the Republican judiciary committee chair, Lindsey Graham, during the confirmation hearings for Trump’s supreme court pick Amy Coney Barrett – rather than resisting Republican efforts to ram through a conservative justice before the election. Democratic Whip Dick Durbin has said he’s interested in the position.
  • The coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca has an efficacy of up to 90%, according to results from the final trial. The news comes after Moderna and Pfizer both announced their vaccine candidates have an efficacy of 95%.
  • More Americans are hospitalized with coronavirus than ever before, as infections surge across the country. Public health experts are urging Americans not to travel for this week’s Thanksgiving holiday in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.
  • A growing chorus of Republican senators are calling on the Trump administration to begin the formal transition process, as states move toward certifying Biden’s victory. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia both said today that they have seen no evidence of widespread fraud that could alter Biden’s win.

Updated at 3.09am GMT

1.57am GMT

Chris Krebs, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, on Monday reminded Americans that there’s still no evidence of significant voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Trump fired Krebs last week by tweet after the director had pushed back on the president’s baseless claims of voter fraud. Krebs’ agency was responsible for coordinating federal, state and local efforts to defend electoral systems from foreign or domestic interference. The agency had vouched for the reliability of the 2020 vote.

“All Americans should have confidence in the security of their vote,” Krebs said on Monday. “The disinfo likely won’t stop. Keep on the lookout and don’t fall for it,” he added.

1.30am GMT

Prior to the GSA’s move today, the Biden-Harris team had been raising money to fund the transition process, absent access to government-allocated funds.

In an email to supporters last week, they said: “We want to be clear: the Biden-Harris transition team will continue to steadily move forward. But, without ascertainment, we need to fund the transition ourselves, and that’s why we’re reaching out to you today.”

With the GSA’s go-ahead, the team will now have access to funds to hire and pay staff as they prepare to take office.

1.14am GMT

Reuters’ Jeff Mason reports that Donald Trump’s blessing of the GSA’s decision to unblock the transition is as close as the president might get to a concession …

Updated at 1.27am GMT

12.45am GMT

Dick Durbin, a senator of Illinois and the Democratic whip, said he’ll be seeking the top Democratic position on the Senate Judiciary Committee after California’s Dianne Feinstein said she would step back.

“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.”

Updated at 1.27am GMT

12.27am GMT

Last week, as the Biden-Harris team attempted to begin the transition process despite the GSA holdup, they reached out to Trump administration officials who had recently left their posts, in an attempt to glean key information while being locked out of official briefings.

A current administration official also told CNN last week that some officials within the government had informally reached out to Biden’s team. “Nothing that would get us in trouble,” the official told CNN. “Just an offer to be of help. They know what we mean, and what we can and can’t do or say.”

Still, what Biden’s team members couldn’t get was any classified information. That’s something they’ll have access to now.

Updated at 12.32am GMT

12.21am GMT

The transition can officially begin – what does that mean?

Now that the General Services Administration has allowed for the presidential transition to officially begin, Joe Biden and his team will finally be able to gain access to classified briefings, meet with government officials to coordinate a pandemic response and have access to office space, as well funds to pay the transition team.

“Because of the lack of ascertainment by the GSA, my transition team hasn’t been able to get access to the information we need to be able to deal with everything from testing and guidance to the all-important issue of vaccine distribution and vaccination plan,” Biden said on Thursday. “We haven’t been able to get into Operation Warp Speed” – the Trump administration scheme for accelerating coronavirus treatment and vaccine development.

Until now, the Biden team has also lacked cybersecurity support to shield email and other communication amid concerns that Russia, China, or other foreign adversaries could intercept classified information. With the GSA’s approval, Biden’s team can move over to government email, with help from the Department of Homeland Security to protect the privacy of incoming officials as they plan out, for example, national security strategies.

Updated at 12.31am GMT

12.10am GMT

With Donald Trump refusing to concede the elections, House Democrats had demanded last week that GSA administrator Emily Murphy provide a briefing to explain why she was delaying the transition process.

In a letter sent on 19 November, Carolyn B Maloney and Nita M Lowey – both Democrats of New York – sent Murphy a letter asking her, as well as her deputy chief of staff and general counsel, to participate in a public hearing to explain themselves.

“Your actions in blocking transition activities required under the law are having grave effects, including undermining the orderly transfer of power, impairing the incoming Administration’s ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, hampering its ability to address our nation’s dire economic crisis, and endangering our national security,” the congresswomen said.

“We ask that you personally brief us and our Ranking Members by no later than November 23, 2020,” they wrote.

This pressure likely played into Murphy’s decision to approve the transition process today.

Updated at 12.32am GMT

12.01am GMT

The Democratic representative who chairs the House oversight government operations subcommittee said “it should not have taken the ire of Congress and the American public” for the GSA’s Emily Murphy to greenlight the transition process.

Gerry Connolly of Virginia, who leads the congressional committee with oversight of the GSA, added he was “greatly looking forward to officially transitioning to an administration that follows the law the first time, without massive public pressure”.

Updated at 12.13am GMT

11.41pm GMT

Now that the GSA has allowed a formal transition to begin, more Republicans are starting to acknowledge the reality that Joe Biden is president-elect.

Here’s Bill Cassidy, a Republican senator of Louisiana:

11.37pm GMT

Yohannes Abraham, the Biden-Harris transition director, said Emily Murphy’s decision today “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track”.

“This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies. In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies,” Abraham said in a statement.

Updated at 11.42pm GMT

11.36pm GMT

It’s unclear that Murphy’s letter will earn her much sympathy from those who criticized her decision to block the transition for weeks after it became clear that Joe Biden had won the election.

Biden said the delayed transition was an “embarrassment” and his team’s inability to begin coordinating coronavirus vaccine distribution could cost lives.

Updated at 12.10am GMT

11.28pm GMT

Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee, drew criticism for initially refusing to sign a letter allowing Biden’s team access to government officials, as well as office space, equipment, and millions of dollars of funding.

In her letter to Joe Biden today, she tried to defend her actions. “To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination [on whether to begin the transition],” she said. “Contrary to media reports and insinuations, my decision was not made out of fear or favoritism. Instead, I strongly believe that the statute requires that the GSA Administrator ascertain, not impose, the apparent president-elect.”

She also said that she received “threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely. Even in the face of thousands of threats, I always remained committed to upholding the law.”

Her point, however, was almost immediately contradicted by Donald Trump, who tweeted: “In the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

Even as his campaign’s legal challenges fail to hold up, and Trump’s attempts to convince officials to block certification of election results falter, the president insisted, “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good … fight, and I believe we will prevail! “

Updated at 12.12am GMT

11.21pm GMT

GSA’s Emily Murphy says transition can begin

In a letter to Joe Biden, Murphy – who initially held up the transition process – told the president-elect that she will open up resources to allow the transition of power to formally begin, the Guardian can confirm.

“I take this role seriously and, because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, am transmitting this letter today to make those resources and services available to you,” she said. “I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right. Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official – including those who work at the White House or GSA – with regard to the substance or timing of my decision.”

Updated at 12.11am GMT

11.11pm GMT

Report: The GSA has informed Biden that the transition process can begin

Emily Murphy, head of the General Services Administration, has sent Joe Biden a letter informing him that the Trump administration is ready to begin the transition process, reports CNN, after obtaining a copy of the letter.

10.56pm GMT

California senator Dianne Feinstein said she won’t seek to retain her position as the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee.

The 87-year-old senator faced backlash from progressives after she praised the Republican judiciary committee chair, Lindsey Graham, during the confirmation hearings for Trump’s supreme court pick Amy Coney Barrett – rather than resisting Republican efforts to ram through a conservative justice before the election.

“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,” she said in a statement.

“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 said.

Updated at 11.10pm GMT

10.46pm GMT

Andrew Cuomo won’t be having Thanksgiving with his 89-year-old mother, following backlash.

The New York governor initially said during a WAMC interview that despite beseeching his constituents to refrain from gathering with family for Thanksgiving, he’d be attending an in-person Thanksgiving with his 89-year old mother and two daughters in Albany. But his office issued a statement clarifying that “plans have changed” following backlash.

“Given the current circumstances with Covid, [Cuomo] will have to work through Thanksgiving,” his senior advisor Rich Azzopardi told the Wall Street Journal’s Jimmy Vielkind.

Cuomo had been asking New Yorkers over the past few days to refrain from traveling or gathering with older relatives for Thanksgiving. “Next Thanksgiving, you’ll ask yourself: did I do everything I could to keep my community safe?” he said, just yesterday.

Although he had told reporters he’d already had a difficult discussion about Thanksgiving plans with his mother last week, Azzopardi said today that Cuomo’s mom hadn’t been told yet that their Thanksgiving was canceled.

Updated at 11.11pm GMT

10.21pm GMT

Republican senator Lamar Alexander acknowledges Biden as president elect

Alexander, a senator of Tennessee, is only the sixth Republican senator to acknowledge Biden’s victory. In a statement, he urged Donald Trump to “put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition”.

“The presidential election is rapidly coming to a formal end. Recounts are being completed. Courts are resolving disputes. Most states will certify their votes by December 8,” he said. “Since it seems apparent that Joe Biden will be the president-elect, my hope is that President Trump will take pride in his considerable accomplishments, put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition to help the new administration succeed. When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do.”

Updated at 11.11pm GMT

10.03pm GMT

Elizabeth Warren, whom many progressives had picked as their top choice for treasury secretary, has lauded Biden for picking Janet Yellen.

“She is smart, tough, and principled. As one of the most successful Fed Chairs ever, she has stood up to Wall Street banks, including holding Wells Fargo accountable for cheating working families,” Warren said.

The Massachusetts senator had pushed Yellen when she served as chair of the Federal Reserve, in particular, repeatedly asking that Yellen properly censure Wells Fargo for its fake accounts scam – which Yellen eventually did, to an extent.

Though the Federal Reserve did not order the bank to remove board members, as Warren had asked, it prevented the firm from growing any larger until it improved its governance – leading to the ousting of four board members.

The bank had opened millions of fake accounts and charged hundreds of thousands of customers for auto insurance they didn’t need.

Updated at 11.12pm GMT

9.39pm GMT

Michigan certifies election results – Biden wins

The state’s board of canvassers voted 3-0 to certify that Joe Biden won the state’s election. One canvasser abstained.

Biden won by about 154,000 votes, securing the state’s 16 electoral votes.

Updated at 9.49pm GMT

9.30pm GMT

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague Maanvi Singh will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden announced several key appointments and nominations for his national security and foreign policy team. Former secretary of state John Kerry will serve as the president-elect’s special envoy to address climate change, and former deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken will be nominated to lead the state department.
  • Former Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen will be nominated to lead the treasury department, according to multiple reports. If confirmed, Yellen would become the first woman in US history to serve as treasury secretary.
  • The coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca has an efficacy of up to 90%, according to results from the final trial. The news comes after Moderna and Pfizer both announced their vaccine candidates have an efficacy of 95%.
  • More Americans are hospitalized with coronavirus than ever before, as infections surge across the country. Public health experts are urging Americans not to travel for this week’s Thanksgiving holiday in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.
  • A growing chorus of Republican senators are calling on the Trump administration to begin the formal transition process, as states move toward certifying Biden’s victory. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia both said today that they have seen no evidence of widespread fraud that could alter Biden’s win.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated at 11.13pm GMT

9.18pm GMT

Although Donald Trump has refused to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, the Secret Service has reportedly already started preparing for the president’s post-White House life.

ABC News has the story:

Secret Service agents in the president’s detail are being asked whether they’re interested in transferring to Palm Beach, Florida, sources have told ABC News.

The Secret Service’s Miami field office also has begun looking at physical reinforcements to Mar-a-Largo, the president’s golf club to which he refers as ‘the winter White House,’ the sources added. These moves are considered unofficial as Trump has yet to concede to Biden. …

Renovations to living quarters expected to be occupied by Trump and first lady Melania Trump are underway, ahead of when they’ll be living there full time after the Jan. 20 inauguration, sources familiar with the planning told ABC News.

Sources have described the renovations as ‘updates’ to living quarters, in part because the residence has been used only on a temporary basis. The Mar-a-Lago club also had been opened only seasonally, and it remains unclear how a permanent residency by Donald and Melania Trump could change that.

9.01pm GMT

Shelley Moore Capito has joined the growing chorus of Republican senators who are calling for the formal presidential transition to begin.

The West Virginia senator noted she supported Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, but she said it was now clear the country overall voted to move in a different direction.

“While some irregularities and fraud have been found and should be punished, there is no indication that these are widespread enough to call into question the outcome of the election,” Capito said in a statement.

“I have been clear that President Trump — like any candidate for office— has the right to request recounts and to raise legal claims before our courts. However, at some point, the 2020 election must end.”

Capito concluded her statement, “I believe that Vice President Biden and Senator Harris should begin receiving all appropriate briefings related to national security and COVID-19 to facilitate a smooth transfer of power in the likely event that they are to take office on January 20.”

Capito’s statement comes hours after the Cincinnati Enquirer published an op-ed from Rob Portman, another Republican senator, saying there was no evidence of widespread fraud that would change the outcome of the election.

8.44pm GMT

Gary Cohn, the former chief economic adviser to Donald Trump, praised Janet Yellen as “an excellent choice for Treasury Secretary.”

Cohn said in a tweet, “Having had the opportunity to work with then-Chair Yellen, I have no doubt she will be the steady hand we need to promote an economy that works for everyone, especially during these difficult times. Congratulations.”

Cohn served as Trump’s first director of the National Economic Council until April 2018, but the former Goldman Sachs president has since expressed some skepticism about the president’s leadership abilities.

Cohn said in September that he still had not decided whether to support Trump’s reelection campaign.

8.29pm GMT

Some progressive groups have already indicated that they consider Janet Yellen to be an acceptable choice for treasury secretary.

“Among those not named Elizabeth Warren, Janet Yellen and Sarah Bloom Raskin are high up on the list of people that progressives would find acceptable,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told CNN today.

Green added, “Janet Yellen would faithfully implement the ambitious agenda Biden campaigned on.”

8.22pm GMT

Joe Biden said last week that he had made a decision on who he would nominate to lead the treasury department.

“We’ve made that decision,” Biden said at a Thursday press conference. “And you’ll find it is someone who I think will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic party … progressive to the moderate coalitions.”

That comment intensified speculation that the president-elect had chosen Janet Yellen, given the former Federal Reserve chairwoman’s impressive credentials.

8.10pm GMT

Janet Yellen to be nominated as treasury secretary – report

Former Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen will be nominated to lead the treasury department, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reports:

If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Yellen would become the first woman to hold the job. [Joe] Biden’s selection positions the 74-year-old labor economist to lead his administration’s efforts to drive the recovery from the destruction caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms. Yellen, who was the first woman to lead the Fed, would become the first person to have headed the Treasury, the central bank and the White House Council of Economic Advisers. …

She is viewed by Biden transition officials as a credible authority on the dangers of prematurely withdrawing government stimulus and as someone who could collaborate closely with the Fed and executive-branch agencies to engineer more support if Congress remains hesitant to act.

Ms. Yellen was confirmed with bipartisan support as a Fed chairwoman in 2014 and as vice chairwoman in 2010. She received 11 Republican votes in her 2014 confirmation, including the backing of three sitting Republican senators: Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Biden said last week that he had selected his nominee for treasury secretary and would announce his choice shortly before or shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

Janet Yellen pictured in January last year.
Janet Yellen pictured in January last year.
Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Updated at 8.27pm GMT

8.06pm GMT

Biden and Harris hold virtual meeting with US mayors

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are currently holding a virtual meeting with the US conference of mayors in Wilmington, Delaware.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in virtual meeting with mayors.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in virtual meeting with mayors.
Photograph: Reuters

The president-elect spoke about the need for local leaders to work with the federal government to confront coronavirus and the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Biden said his administration “will have an open door for mayors,” promising to be a “true partner” for local leaders.

7.56pm GMT

Joe Biden dismissed a question about whether he was concerned that Senate Republicans may try to block his cabinet nominees from being confirmed.

Asked about the possibility of Senate roadblocks, the president-elect laughed and said, “Are you kidding me?”

It’s still unclear whether Republicans will still control of the Senate in January, after Georgia holds its two runoff races.

However, if Republicans do control the Senate, there is reason to believe Biden’s nominees could face a lot of resistance. Two of the cabinet nominees that Biden announced today, Antony Blinken and Alejandro Mayorkas, were previously confirmed by the Senate with little to no Republican support.

7.40pm GMT

Antony Blinken has reacted to the announcement that Joe Biden will nominate him to serve as the next secretary of state.

Blinken, a former deputy secretary of state, said in a tweet, “The messages from friends and colleagues that I’ve received over the past 15 hours have been humbling.

“Honored to announce, officially, that I have been nominated to serve as Secretary of State. If confirmed, this is a mission I will take on with my full heart.”

Blinken served in a number of senior roles under the Obama administration, including working as Biden’s national security adviser during Obama’s first term.

7.22pm GMT

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden announced several key appointments and nominations for his national security and foreign policy team. Former secretary of state John Kerry will serve as the president-elect’s special envoy to address climate change, and former deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken will be nominated to lead the state department.
  • The coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca has an efficacy of up to 90%, according to results from the final trial. The news comes after vaccine candidates from Moderna and Pfizer were shown to have an efficacy of 95%.
  • More Americans are hospitalized with coronavirus than ever before, as infections surge across the country. Public health experts are urging Americans not to travel for this week’s Thanksgiving holiday in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated at 7.42pm GMT

7.01pm GMT

Joe Biden’s transition team denied the Bloomberg News report that it has asked Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard to stay at the central bank rather than leading the treasury department.

6.58pm GMT

Federal reserve governor Lael Brainard, who was considered a top contender for treasury secretary, has reportedly been asked by Joe Biden’s team to stay at the central bank.

Bloomberg News reports:

Brainard is the only Democrat on a Fed board filled mostly by President Donald Trump’s appointments, and she may be a leading candidate for Fed chair when Jerome Powell’s term expires in 2022. …

Brainard emerged as a top contender to become the first female Treasury secretary before the election, but in recent weeks liberal figures in the Democratic party have pushed Biden to choose former Fed chair Janet Yellen for the post.

Biden said last week that he has selected his nominee for treasury secretary and would announce his decision either shortly before or shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

6.45pm GMT

Alejandro Mayorkas, who will be nominated to serve as the secretary of the department of homeland security under Joe Biden, reflected on the historic nature of his nomination.

Mayorkas, a former deputy DHS secretary under Barack Obama, will be the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead the department if he is confirmed.

Mayorkas said in a tweet, “When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge. Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.”

6.30pm GMT

Michigan appears to be on track to certify its election results today, after a Republican canvasser indicated the state board had a “duty” to certify.

Aaron Van Langevelde requested additional time to hear public comments about the certification process, but he indicated he would ultimately support certification.

Van Langevelde’s comments came after Jonathan Brater, the director of the Michigan bureau of elections, said the state’s election this month was better run than its August primary election or its November 2016 general election.

Joe Biden leads Donald Trump in Michigan by 155,629 votes, representing 2.8% of the state’s total vote.

Updated at 6.32pm GMT

6.17pm GMT

Former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro celebrated the news that Alejandro Mayorkas would be nominated to lead the department of homeland security.

“Alejandro Mayorkas is a historic and experienced choice to lead an agency in desperate need of reform,” said Castro, who served as the secretary of housing and urban development under Barack Obama.

Castro added, “As an immigrant and a creator of the DACA program, he’s well suited to undo Trump’s damage and build a more compassionate and common sense immigration agenda.”

If confirmed, Mayorkas would be the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead DHS.

5.58pm GMT

Joe Biden’s nominees will have to be approved by the Senate, control of which will be determined by the two January runoff races in Georgia.

However, if Republicans maintain control of the Senate, Biden’s nominees could face a steep uphill climb to confirmation.

As a Politico reporter noted, both Anthony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, and Alejandro Mayorkas, who could become the first Latino DHS secretary, were previously confirmed by the Senate with little to no Republican support.

5.53pm GMT

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who will be nominated by Joe Biden to serve as the US ambassador to the United Nations, pledged to serve with “kindness and compassion.”

Thomas-Greenfield said in a tweet, “My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in Foreign Service – and, if confirmed, will do the same as Ambassador to the United Nations.”

Thomas-Greenfield previously served as the US ambassador to Liberia and as the assistant secretary of state for African affairs under Barack Obama.

5.40pm GMT

John Kerry expressed pride after being named as president-elect Joe Biden’s special envoy to confront climate change.

“America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” the former secretary of state said in a tweet.

“I’m proud to partner with the President-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the President’s Climate Envoy.”

As secretary of state, Kerry signed the Paris climate agreement, which Donald Trump backed out of shortly after taking office.

While campaigning for Biden’s presidential primary bid, Kerry warned Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement would cost American lives.

5.29pm GMT

Jake Sullivan offered a response to the announcement that he will serve as Joe Biden’s national security adviser.

Sullivan said in a tweet, “President-elect Biden taught me what it takes to safeguard our national security at the highest levels of our government. Now, he has asked me to serve as his National Security Advisor. In service, I will do everything in my power to keep our country safe.”

Sullivan is currently a policy advisor to the president-elect, and the senior aide served as Biden’s national security adviser when he was vice-president.

Sullivan also previously served as the director of the policy planning staff under then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, becoming one of her closest advisers.

5.21pm GMT

Biden unveils national security and foreign policy team

Joe Biden’s transition team has announced several key nominations and appointments for his national security and foreign policy team.

The president-elect’s team made the following announcements in a new press release:

  • Antony Blinken, a former deputy secretary of state, will be nominated to serve as secretary of state, as previously reported.
  • Alejandro Mayorkas, a former deputy secretary of the the department of homeland security, will be nominated to serve as DHS secretary. If confirmed, Mayorkas will be the first Latino and immigrant to serve as DHS secretary.
  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a former US ambassador, will be nominated as ambassador to the UN.
  • John Kerry, the former secretary of state, will serve as a special presidential envoy for climate and will sit on the national security council.
  • Avril Haines, a former deputy CIA director, will be nominated to serve as the director of national intelligence. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to lead the US intelligence community.
  • Jake Sullivan, a longtime Biden adviser, will serve as national security adviser.

4.57pm GMT

More Republican lawmakers are calling for Georgia’s recount to include signature verifications, even though that is not possible at this point.

Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Donald Trump’s closest congressional allies, said in a new tweet that he “completely” agrees with calls for another round of signature verifications.

Again, it is not possible to verify signatures on absentee ballots in Georgia at this point, as the president’s reelection campaign requests another recount in the state. (Georgia has already completed a full hand recount, which confirmed Joe Biden’s narrow victory in the state.)

Signatures are verified on Georgia’s absentee ballot envelopes before votes are processed. Once a signature has been verified, the ballot is separated from its envelope, and poll workers cannot reunite a ballot with its envelope. Therefore, calls to verify signatures again are meaningless.

4.38pm GMT

Republican senator: No evidence of any widespread fraud in the election

Senator Rob Portman, a Republican of Ohio, wrote an op-ed saying there has been no evidence of widespread fraud that would alter Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.

Portman writes for the Cincinnati Enquirer:

This process has now been going on for about three weeks. The Trump campaign has taken steps to insist that only lawful votes were counted in key states, including filing numerous lawsuits. At this point, the vast majority of these lawsuits have been resolved and most of the remaining ones are expected to be resolved in the next couple of weeks. There were instances of fraud and irregularities in this election, as there have been in every election. It is good that those have been exposed and any fraud or other wrongdoing should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but there is no evidence as of now of any widespread fraud or irregularities that would change the result in any state. …

Based on all the information currently available, neither the final lawful vote counts nor the recounts have led to a different outcome in any state. In other words, the initial determination showing Joe Biden with enough electoral votes to win has not changed.

I voted for President Trump, was a co-chair of his campaign in Ohio, and I believe his policies would be better for Ohio and the country. But I also believe that there is no more sacred constitutional process in our great democracy than the orderly transfer of power after a presidential election. It is now time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward.

Portman’s op-ed is the latest indication that Republican lawmakers are slowly coming around to accepting the reality of Biden’s victory and imminent inauguration, even as the president continues to peddle baseless claims of election fraud.

4.13pm GMT

Joe Biden has announced two more senior staff appointments, as the president-elect continues to build out his White House team.

The Biden transition team announced that Reema Dodin and Shuwanza Goff would serve as deputy directors of the White House office of legislative affairs.

Both Dodin and Goff come from Capitol Hill. Dodin currently serves as deputy chief of staff and floor director to Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin, and Goff was previously the floor director for House majority leader Steny Hoyer, making her the first Black woman to hold the role.

A Politico reporter said Biden has done an impressive job building out a strong legislative affairs team, as the president-elect faces the possibility of a Republican-controlled Senate:

Updated at 8.14pm GMT

3.58pm GMT

The lawyer leading Donald Trump’s legal efforts in Wisconsin could have his own ballot tossed out if judges accept his widely disputed definition of illegal voting.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the story:

Jim Troupis, a former Dane County judge and Cross Plains attorney who is representing the Trump campaign, would not answer questions about why he and his wife voted that way.

Troupis and his wife voted early using the state’s in-person absentee option — one of a group of voters whose ballots the Trump campaign has asked election officials to deem illegal.

Their names appeared on exhibits Troupis submitted to the Dane County Board of Canvassers on Sunday, during the county’s third day of retallying ballots. The exhibits include lists of voters who voted in a manner the campaign alleges is illegal, an argument the Board of Canvassers has rejected. The information was provided by Dane County to both campaigns.

Wisconsin is conducting a recount of the Democratic-leaning Milwaukee and Dane counties, as requested by the Trump campaign, after election officials reported that Joe Biden won the state by about 20,600 votes.

3.35pm GMT

More than 100 Republican national security experts have signed on to a letter calling on Donald Trump to concede and begin the formal presidential transition.

The letter, which was obtained by the Washington Post, warns that a delayed transition could pose national security risks to the country.

“We believe that President Trump’s refusal to concede the election and allow for an orderly transition constitutes a serious threat to America’s democratic process and to our national security,” the letter says.

“We therefore call on Republican leaders – especially those in Congress – to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”

The letter’s signers include former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge, former CIA director Michael Hayden and former director of national intelligence John D. Negroponte.

“The election is over, the outcome certain,” the letter concludes. “It is now time for the rest of the Republican leadership to put politics aside and insist that President Trump cease his dilatory and anti-democratic efforts to undermine the result of the election and begin a smooth and orderly transition of power to President-elect Biden.

“By encouraging President Trump’s delaying tactics or remaining silent, Republican leaders put American democracy and national security at risk.”

3.13pm GMT

Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine has up to 90% efficacy

The Guardian’s Sarah Boseley and Ian Sample report:

In case you missed it this morning: The Covid vaccine developed in the UK by Oxford University and AstraZeneca can protect 70.4% of people from becoming ill and – in a surprise result – up to 90% if a lower first dose is used, results from the final trial show.

The Oxford vaccine is the third to produce efficacy results, following Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna whose vaccines were made with a different technology. Both of those reported almost 95% efficacy and Pfizer has applied for a licence in the US and UK.

While the Oxford results may not immediately look so good, the scientists say they are not comparable, because they have included people who become mildly ill as well as seriously ill, unlike the other two. Their vaccine has some big advantages, because it is fridge-stable so easily transported and used anywhere in the world. It is also substantially cheaper, at about £3 a dose instead of more than £20 for the others.

The UK has pre-ordered 100m doses of the Oxford vaccine, which is central to its pandemic vaccination plans. Production has already begun and 4m doses have been supplied so far, which cannot be used until the vaccine is licensed.

Importantly, Oxford/AstraZeneca have already shown that the vaccine works as well in older people as in younger groups and is safe. There are early indications it might also help stop transmission of the disease.

2.57pm GMT

One Republican congressman from Georgia voiced support for Donald Trump’s request that the state conduct a recount, including signature verification, even though the state already completed a full hand recount.

Congressman Buddy Carter said in a tweet, “I fully support @realDonaldTrump request for a recount in Georgia that includes matching and verifying signatures. As I have been saying – all Georgians deserve a fair and transparent election. The state has to get this right.”

However, a Georgia recount would not include signature verifications, as that process has already been completed.

The Trump campaign has already requested a recount in Georgia, meaning the state’s nearly 5 million ballots will be tabulated for a third time by placing them through a scanner.

Georgia election officials completed their hand recount on Friday, and Joe Biden ended up with a 12,670-vote lead over Trump.

2.31pm GMT

This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.

Here’s what the blog is keeping an eye on today: president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris will hold a virtual meeting with the US conference of mayors in Wilmington, Delaware.

Donald Trump once again has no events on his public schedule, as the president has kept a very low profile since Biden was declared the winner of the election. Even Trump’s Twitter feed has been eerily quiet this morning.

But that might change as the events of the day unfold. The Michigan board of state canvassers is scheduled to meet today to certify the results of its election, but the board’s Republican members are facing pressure to delay the certification, as the president and his allies peddle baseless claims of election fraud.

That’s all still coming up, so stay tuned.

1.55pm GMT

Nic Robertson at CNN has this analysis of Trump’s tribulations over the weekend with the G20:

As stage exits go Donald Trump’s departure was something of a whimper, the US President leaving the top table of global G20 leaders to play golf. As his time in office draws to a close, despite his refusal to publicly accept the reality of the US election results, the combined unspoken message from the world’s leaders is: don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Evidence of the shifting attitude toward the outgoing US administration came from the lips of Saudi’s Minister of Investment, Khalid al-Falih. “When the world needed leadership [to combat Covid-19] there was none,” he said. The G20 had stepped up because some nations “turned inwards towards nationalism.” Al-Falih didn’t mention Trump by name. He didn’t need to; his audience understood.

As leaders spoke of the importance of sharing and working together to accelerate Covid-19 testing, treatments and vaccines for all, the White House struck a starkly different tone. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement: “President Trump highlighted how the United States marshalled every resource at its disposal to respond to the crisis, as well as the unprecedented economic recovery.”

At the virtual public panel, previous speakers praised the 2015 Paris Climate Change Accord. Trump, on the other hand, declared it a plan to kill America. “The Paris accord was not designed to save the environment, it was designed to kill the American economy,” he said in a pre-recorded speech from the Diplomatic Room at the White House. In a room full of reporters and officials in Riyadh, as Trump’s speech was played on a massive screen almost no one paid attention

Read more here: CNN – Donald Trump has left the world stage. Few will miss him

1.40pm GMT

It has been a long time coming but Hector Rivera is hopeful that one day soon he will be able to take a day off work. The 61-year-old works as a janitor in Miami, Florida, making just over an hour. Because the pay is so low, Rivera works two janitorial jobs and scrambles to find gig jobs on the weekends in order to cover his rent and bills every month.

On 3 November Rivera, and the millions of Americans fighting for a raise for low-wage workers, were given a boost when Florida passed a resolution to increase its minimum wage to an hour.

Raising the minimum wage was a central plank of Joe Biden’s election campaign and Florida’s vote came even as the state voted for Donald Trump. But while workers and activists are cheering the victory, the road ahead for Biden and a raise in the minimum wage looks tough.

It’s been eight years since fast-food workers walked off their jobs in New York City and began calling for a minimum wage. In that time the Fight for movement grew to be the largest protest movement for low-wage workers in US history and has won some important victories.

Florida is the first state in the south and the eighth state overall to adopt such a measure. And some big corporations including Amazon, Target and Walt Disney have raised, or promised to raise, their minimum wages to .

After Biden’s win, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a longtime supporter of the movement, urged the incoming Biden administration to use all the “tools in their toolbox” to push a raise through and Biden has promised to back unions who are also pushing hard for a statewide raise for low-wage workers.

But many Republicans still oppose the rise and, without control of the Senate, Biden may struggle to pass the first increase in the federal minimum wage in 11 years. In Florida the amendment was strongly opposed by Republicans, including Governor Ron DeSantis, who claimed raising the minimum wage would eliminate jobs and hurt businesses. The Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, blocked a raise in 2019.

Read more of Michael Sainato’s report from Florida here: Fight for minimum wage boosted in Florida but Biden faces tough task

1.34pm GMT

Over at the New Yorker, Charles Bethea has written up his stint observing the Georgia recount as if it was a spectator sport. And a very dull one at that…

The counting, which began on a Friday, was a sprawling affair, a television-unfriendly November Madness occurring simultaneously across Georgia’s hundred and fifty-nine counties, from a probate court in Peach County to a former Sam’s Club in DeKalb. The main action was in Atlanta, in Fulton County, where about a tenth of the state’s votes were cast. By Saturday morning, a hundred and fifty tables at the Georgia World Congress Center—the Peach State’s Roland-Garros of recounting—were staffed with masked-up counters. Observers hung around on the sidelines, speaking in mid-match whispers. “She’s fast,” one said, pointing to a woman at Table 113, who was tallying, stacking, and re-tallying with unusual speed. “Fast isn’t the goal,” someone else said.

His report is full of wonderful littler character sketches:

Over in the nosebleed section sat Marilyn Marks, an election-integrity activist wearing a colorful scarf, who’d come down from North Carolina. She was tweeting on her laptop. “This is a Frankenstein illicit audit,” she told an observer. “A big, muddled mess.” She offered her monocular, which she used to get a closer look at the action.

A man sat down next to Marks, looking overheated. Marks was paying him to help her observe, and to capture “problems with the process” with his long-lens camera, to be used in an ongoing lawsuit about the accuracy of state voting machines. “I saw unattended ballots,” Hursti said. “They were blank. Non-malicious—but just wrong.” He compared the US to Estonia and Indonesia, where he has also observed elections. “One of the worst on earth,” he said. Marks pointed to a man hunched over a computer. She was concerned about digital security; he was inputting official table tallies. “He’s using the Wi-Fi,” Hursti noted. “Not smart.”

Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican and Trump supporter, on Friday certified the results which showed Joe Biden won the state by just over 12,600 votes after the manual recount and audit were conducted.

Read more here: The New Yorker – In Georgia, the dullest spectator sport in the world

1.11pm GMT

Kate Kelly and Danny Hakim have this for the New York Times this morning on plans afoot to try and force Donald Trump’s hand into recognising the scale of his election defeat, and to get Joe Biden’s victory recognised so that an orderly transition of power can take place. They write:

Concerned that president Trump’s refusal to accept the election results is hurting the country, more than 100 chief executives plan to ask the administration on Monday to immediately acknowledge Joe Biden as the winner and begin the transition to a new administration.

As a way of gaining leverage over the GOP, some of the executives have also discussed withholding campaign donations from the two Republican Senate candidates in Georgia unless party leaders agree to push for a presidential transition, according to four people who participated in a conference call Friday in which the notion was discussed. The two runoff elections in Georgia, which will take place in early January, will determine the balance of power in the United States Senate.

In a letter they plan to send Monday, business leaders will demand that Emily Murphy, head of the General Services Administration, issue a letter of ascertainment affirming that Biden and vice President-elect Kamala Harris have won the election. Murphy has so far resisted calls to begin the normal transition planning, which includes providing resources and money to an incoming administration as it prepares to take control.

“Every day that an orderly presidential transition process is delayed, our democracy grows weaker in the eyes of our own citizens and the nation’s stature on the global stage is diminished,” the executives write in the letter, a draft of which was reviewed by The New York Times. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk.”

Read more here: New York Times – Business leaders, citing damage to country, urge Trump to begin transition

12.59pm GMT

More Americans hospitalised with Covid than ever before ahead of Thanksgiving

More people are hospitalised with Covid-19 in the US than ever before, as cases continue to rise steeply amid the countdown to a Thanksgiving holiday many fear will have disastrous effect, given mass travel and indoor family gatherings.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the US recorded 142,732 new cases on Sunday, down from the record high of Friday, when more than 196,000 cases were recorded. But 83,870 people were hospitalised, a record, while 921 people died. The total death toll is now 256,589.

On Friday, 1,448 people died – the equivalent of one death every minute.

In Washington, Donald Trump has faced criticism for a lack of action. The lame duck president played golf on Sunday. On Monday he had no events on his public schedule.

In Wilmington, Delaware, where Joe Biden continues to plan for the transition of power, the president-elect was due to hold a virtual meeting with the US Conference of Mayors. Biden spoke to governors last week.

Despite news of impending vaccines, states across the US are feeling the strain. In just one example, Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s front page headline on Monday was: “No beds anywhere: hospitals strained to limit by virus.” The paper reported 7,219 new cases and 41 deaths and said demand for testing was surging.

Resources are also strained in states which saw early peaks and are now experiencing a resurgence. In New York, where schools are closed again, the Wall Street Journal reported that hundreds of bodies from the spring surge were still in refrigerated morgues on the Brooklyn waterfront.

Citing the city’s medical examiner, the Journal said many of the bodies “are of people whose families can’t be located or can’t afford a proper burial”. Mayor Bill de Blasio ruled out mass burials after controversy early in the pandemic.

In Nevada, Democratic governor Steve Sisolak, having tested positive himself earlier this month, announced new restrictions on casinos, restaurants and bars and other public venues, while imposing a broader mask mandate.

“Whether you believe in the science of Covid or not,” he said, “the reality is this – Covid is filling up our hospital beds, and that threatens all Nevadans.”

Read more of Martin Pengelly’s report here: More Americans hospitalised with Covid than ever before ahead of Thanksgiving

12.55pm GMT

Julia Preston of the Marshall Project has this for us today, on the huge task facing Joe Biden to undo four years of cruel immigration policy descisions by the Donald Trump administration. She writes:

In one beating, the woman from El Salvador told the immigration judge, her boyfriend’s punches disfigured her jaw and knocked out two front teeth. After raping her, he forced her to have his name tattooed in jagged letters on her back, boasting that he was marking her with his brand.

The judge seemed moved by her testimony. In the hearing in September in the Baltimore immigration court, he found that the woman’s terror of going back to her country, where she said the boyfriend was lying in wait, was credible. But he swiftly denied her asylum claim, saying the danger she faced did not fit any definition of persecution under current interpretations of American law.

The outcome for the woman, identified in her confidential asylum case as L M, was the result of a decision in 2018 by President Trump’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Setting aside two decades of precedent, Sessions ruled that domestic violence and most gang violence could not be the basis for asylum.

As president-elect Joe Biden moves deliberately to transition towards the White House, even while Trump refuses to accept defeat, he has laid out a fast-paced agenda to unwind Trump’s harsh immigration policies. But even if Biden quickly orders a final end to family separations and re-opens the border for asylum-seekers, his plans could stall without action at the justice department, which holds extensive power over the immigration system.

To carry out Biden’s proposals, his attorney general will have to reverse decisions by Sessions and Attorney General William Barr that sharply limited asylum, particularly for people like L M who are fleeing from Central America. Biden’s justice officials will have to contend with an immigration appeals court loaded by Barr with conservative judges known for denying asylum.

Read more here: ‘Wreckage everywhere’: can Biden undo Trump’s harsh immigration policies?

12.49pm GMT

Just a quick snap from Associated Press here that Rep. Bryan Steil has become the latest Republican lawmaker to test positive for Covid-19. He represents Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district.

The congressman said he began experiencing mild symptoms over the weekend and contacted his health care provider while at home in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Rep. Bryan Steil speaking at a campaign rally prior to the election.
Rep. Bryan Steil speaking at a campaign rally prior to the election.
Photograph: Morry Gash/AP

Steil said he spent all of last week working in Washington, DC.

“Following CDC guidelines, I am immediately quarantining and will continue serving the people of Southeast Wisconsin from my home in Janesville,” he said.

12.41pm GMT

Axios this morning are reporting that one of Trump’s close allies – Blackstone chairman, CEO and co-founder Steve Schwarzman – has said that the president has lost the election. They write:

It’s all theatrics now. Even if Trump doesn’t move on fast, you can. Schwarzman said in a statement to Axios that Biden won and it’s time to move on. “I’m a fan of good process. In my comments three days after the election, I was trying to be a voice of reason and express why it’s in the national interest to have all Americans believe the election is being resolved correctly. But the outcome is very certain today, and the country should move on.

“I supported President Trump and the strong economic path he built. Like many in the business community, I am ready to help President-elect Biden and his team as they confront the significant challenges of rebuilding our post-COVID economy.”

Read more here: Axios – Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman says Trump lost

12.34pm GMT

Grace Segers and Lacrai Mitchell have this for CBS News on the crucial Georgia Senate races coming up in the new year.

This will be the first time there’s been a Senate runoff in Georgia since 2008. According to Kantar/CMAG data, nearly 5 million will be spent on the runoffs on TV and radio ads since election day by candidates and outside groups. The candidate spending the most is Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff with more than million, followed by Republican Kelly Loeffler with million. Her opponent Rev. Raphael Warnock has spent .9m with David Perdue spending .8 million.

Joe Biden’s projected win in Georgia was the first time the state flipped blue in a presidential contest since the state voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, and gave Democrats in the state a jolt of enthusiasm ahead of the January runoffs. But it also served as a siren for state Republicans, who will now have to keep their base motivated without Trump at the top of the ticket. Although Trump has not yet conceded the election, most Republicans recognize that they will need to win at least one of the Georgia Senate races to act as a check upon the Biden administration.

In a statement to CBS News, Georgia Republican Party spokesperson Abigail Sigler said the state party, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee were working with the Perdue and Loeffler campaigns to build a “massive field operation.”

“We are working around the clock to ensure voters understand they have a clear choice: they can elect radical liberals who will be rubber stamps for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s agenda or they can send two conservative outsiders to fight for their Georgia values,” Sigler said.

Read more here: CBS News – Both parties rev up campaigns for crucial Georgia Senate runoffs

12.19pm GMT

If you fancy something to get your ears around, then I can highly recommend today’s Today in Focus podcast.

Black and Latino voters overwhelmingly favoured the Democrats in the 2020 US election. Without their huge margins in key states, Joe Biden could not have won, Gary Younge tells host Anushka Asthana. By 2045, white voters will be in the minority. These changing demographics are a concern for the Republican party. In 2013, just a year after turnout rates for black voters surpassed those for white voters for the first time, the supreme court gutted the Voting Rights Act, which affected poor, young and minority voters.

It’s important to remember, Gary tells Anushka, that the US was a slave state for more than 200 years; and an apartheid state, after the abolition of slavery, for another century. It has only been a non-racial democracy for 55 years. And that now hangs in the balance. If Biden does not produce something transformative, the disillusionment among voters may grow and people may once again look for someone who can disrupt the status quo, which is how Donald Trump won in 2016.

12.17pm GMT

By the way, whoever Joe Biden ends up announcing in his cabinet this week, I think we can be fairly certain it isn’t going to be this fantasy line-up from Fox News.

12.14pm GMT

Trump planning to veto defense bill over proposals to remove Confederate names from bases – reports

While Donald Trump may be heading slowly and reluctantly to the White House door marked ‘one-term president exit’, he’s still in charge until 20 January, and NBC News are reporting on one of the things he is threatening to do before then – veto the defense bill over proposals to rename military bases that currently honor those who fought against the United States army as Confederates.

President Donald Trump is threatening to veto legislation to fund the military as one of his final acts in office unless a widely supported, bipartisan provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate military leaders is removed, according to White House, defense and congressional sources.

Trump’s stance has put in doubt legislation that had been agreed to by Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate. While some Republicans are now shifting their positions to align with Trump, Democrats are refusing to budge on the agreed-to amendment, threatening passage of the legislation.

The effort to change the names of military bases honoring Confederate military leaders has been a target for Trump for months. It was among the disagreements he had with his former defense secretary Mark Esper, who was quietly working with Congress to codify the renaming of bases in the bill before Trump fired him this month.

Both chambers overwhelmingly passed a provision that would change the names of Confederate-named bases as part of their defense bills. But the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, James Inhofe, indicated that he’s gotten the message from Trump, and he called it a “big issue” of contention in negotiations with Democrats.

Read more here: NBC News – Trump set on veto of defense bill over renaming bases honoring Confederates

12.07pm GMT

“My experience dealing with Covid-19 in South Dakota is one of failed leadership. Our governor has made it clear it’s up to the people, so we have to come up with creative ideas to help stop the spread.”

Those are the words of physician Nancy Babbitt, lamenting the heightened risks vulnerable residents are facing amid state governor Kristi Noem’s determinedly hands-off pandemic policy – including being the only state without a mask mandate to curb infection. Talli Nauman has been in Rapid City, South Dakota, for us.

South Dakota has an alarming positivity rate of almost 60% – nearly six out of 10 people who take a Covid test are infected – second only in the US to neighboring Wyoming.

More than 66,000 South Dakotans have contracted the disease and at least 644 have died, a number likely to rise as hospitals reach breaking point.

The South Dakota Medical Association has issued a statement in support of a mask mandate. The state’s largest city of Sioux Falls put one into effect, and the second largest, Rapid City, is awaiting a final council vote.

With USA Today newspaper headlines reporting earlier this month that South and North Dakota are in a situation “as bad as it gets anywhere in the world for Covid-19”, Noem held her first pandemic media availability in three months, firing back: “That is absolutely false” and citing different data sources.

Read more of Talli Nauman’s report here: South Dakota gripped by pandemic amid Kristi Noem’s no-mask approach

11.49am GMT

Several news outlets this morning are reporting case studies of families that have recently held large gatherings that have turned into Covid-spreading events. It’s a real concern in the run-up to Thanksgiving. For the Washington Post today, the case study is Enriqueta Aragonez:

Reclined on a hospital bed in Arlington, Texas, with plastic tubes snaking from her nose and pneumonia in both of her lungs, the 57-year-old had a message for everyone doubting the need for covid-19 restrictions.

“I went to my nephew’s house and loved seeing my family but now, I’m fighting against covid-19,” Aragonez said in a video message. “Please protect yourself. It’s real.”

Aragonez is one of 15 family members who contracted the coronavirus after a small indoor birthday celebration earlier this month where no one wore masks. Weeks later, in an emotional video shared by the City of Arlington, the family is begging others to avoid gathering with anyone outside their immediate household.

“Of course we regret getting together but we all have in mind that this could be a lesson for all of us,” Alexa Aragonez, Enriqueta’s daughter, told the Washington Post on Sunday. “One moment of carelessness has cost us a month of peace, has cost us sleep, has cost us laughs, has cost us a lot of money.”

Read it here: Washington Post – A birthday lunch left 15 Texas relatives battling covid-19: ‘Please don’t be like my family’

11.32am GMT

Doctors, nurses, infectious disease experts and hospital leaders have united in warning Americans against traveling or gathering in large groups for Thanksgiving, a US holiday traditionally marked by bringing extended family and friends around a dinner table.

Experts and frontline workers are fearful such events will cause an explosion of new Covid-19 cases, which could overburden hospitals struggling to recruit nurses amid an “exponential” rise in cases.

“Looking at the landscape right now and the number of people who are still set on having larger, multi-household, in-person Thanksgiving dinners, one can only assume that the current trend of new Covid cases will continue to increase,” said Dr Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

If people move forward with such Thanksgiving plans, Gonsenhauser anticipates it would extend the public health crisis “to the point of requiring strict lockdowns just in time for the Christmas holiday”. Several experts said they had canceled plans and limited their own celebrations strictly to members of their own household.

“In the strongest possible terms, we urge you to celebrate responsibly,” the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association said in an open letter to the American public. The letter urged Americans to have “scaled-back” celebrations, and to wear masks, wash hands and social distance.

“We must protect the doctors, nurses and other caregivers who have tirelessly battled this virus for months,” the letter said. “You can do your part to ensure they can continue to care for you and your loved ones.”

Read more of Jessica Glenza’s report here: Healthcare workers urge Americans to ‘scale back’ Thanksgiving gatherings

11.22am GMT

Yesterday CNN reported that the head of the US coronavirus vaccine program, Moncef Slaoui, said the first Americans to receive a vaccine could get it as soon as 11 December.

“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11th or the 12th of December.”

There were 142,732 new coronavirus cases and 921 more deaths recorded in the US yesterday.


Nurses are planning today to hold a virtual press conference to brief the nation on the challenges they are facing during the current Covid surge. The online event, at 1pm ET, is being organised by National Nurses United.

They say that nurses from a number of overwhelmed, hotspot areas across the country – including Minnesota, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, and Texas – will share their current experiences and challenges caring for Covid patients. These include accessing optimal personal protective equipment (PPE), getting tested, having the resources and staffing levels they need to provide safe care, getting notified when they have been exposed, being allowed to quarantine at home without loss of income when sick or exposed, and pressuring their hospital employers to practice proper infection control.

“With the infection numbers we are seeing now, we are on trajectory to see an unprecedented – and even cataclysmic – level of death and suffering if we don’t immediately correct course,” said Bonnie Castillo, executive director of NNU. “Nurses are calling on our elected officials, government agencies, our hospital employers, and the public to implement the science-based infection control measures that we have been demanding since the beginning of this pandemic.”

11.01am GMT

It was a deceptively low-key occasion on Capitol Hill: an older man in a dark suit, talking into a TV camera about an energy report.

According to his firm’s 362-page analysis, the fastest path to California’s climate goals included continuing to rely on fossil fuels. The analysis was funded by gas companies and groups related to them, but he wasn’t a lobbyist or industry consultant. Quite the opposite, he was the Obama administration’s well-respected energy secretary, Ernest Moniz.

Ernest Moniz during a meeting.
Ernest Moniz during a meeting.
Photograph: Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

“We certainly have to get beyond … the climate deniers,” he said in the April 2019 interview with C-SPAN. “But we also have to get beyond what we think are often completely unrealistic proposals for the pace at which we can decarbonize.” Fighting climate change at the pace needed would require a “broad coalition,” he said – one that included the oil and gas industry.

Moniz was wading into a dispute that will define how the new Biden administration tackles the crisis: can oil and gas companies be part of the solution? Or have they proven, with years of disinformation campaigns and efforts to slow climate action, that they will always stand in the way?

As the Biden transition team wrestles with this question, it is already facing pressure from activists not to hire more people with fossil fuel ties, like Louisiana congressman Cedric Richmond, who will join Biden’s White House as a top adviser.

Collin Rees, a senior campaigner for Oil Change International said Moniz’s links to fossil fuels aren’t “a blip on his resume”.

“It is his entire professional career for the last couple decades, which is deeply concerning,” Rees said.

Read more of Emily Holden’s report from Washington here: Why is Joe Biden considering this man to help fight the climate crisis?

10.55am GMT

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has this fact-checker of some of Rudy Giuliani’s most egregious claims of voter fraud.

Yesterday Giuliani tweeted “Want evidence of fraud. In 70% of Wayne County, Detroit, there were PHANTOM VOTERS. There were more votes than registered voters. 120%, 150%, 200%, even 300%.”

As Kessler points out, this claim has been throughly debunked already, and the origins of it appear to be mistakes by Trump’s own legal team. He writes:

Power Line, a conservative website, pointed out something very odd about the affidavit that made this claim. [It] pointed out that the precincts that were listed in the affidavit were from Minnesota, not Michigan. Someone had apparently mixed up two states that started with “Mi.” The precincts were not in Wayne County but in some of the reddest parts of Minnesota.

Our colleague Aaron Blake further dug into the data and found that even in those Minnesota precincts, the data in the affidavit was off. Minnesota has same-day registration and very high turnout rates. Blake determined that the number of voters matched the number of votes cast. He speculated that the affidavit might have been relying upon incomplete “estimated voters” data from the Minnesota secretary of state in the days after the election.

Finally, the affidavit has a quote from a Princeton University professor raising concerns about a particular type of Dominion voting machine, suggesting this was what was used in Wayne County. But Blake confirmed that the counties in Minnesota in question did not use Dominion machines.

Read more here: Washington Post – Giuliani keeps peddling debunked falsehoods on behalf of Trump

10.48am GMT

Nothing appears able to deter president Donald Trump from spreading disinformation about the election on social media. He was at it again overnight, promising his supporters victory after making a series of spurious claims. Twitter, as is usual for the social media platform, labelled the tweet as misleading, and then still allowed it to be retweeted over 34,000 times.

Trump was photographed at the weekend as he skipped the G20 summit’s “Pandemic Preparedness” event to visit one of his golf clubs. The event was on the same day that a record 195,500 new Covid-19 infections were reported in a 24-hour period in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins university.

Trump golfs at the Trump National Golf Club on November 22.
Trump golfs at the Trump National Golf Club on November 22.
Photograph: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

10.41am GMT

CNN have this morning published this analysis of the slight movement away from supporting Trump’s attempts to subvert democracy by a handful of Republicans. Stephen Collinson writes:

Trump’s effort to overturn the election he lost is being increasingly undermined by the inanity of his legal claims and is causing some high-profile Republicans to peel off even with most of his party mute amid his constitutional arson.

The president’s legal team, ruining time-honored traditions of a peaceful transfer of power, is firing off long-shot court challenges and heaping pressure on state election officials. The spectacle has some senior Republicans ready to call time. “It’s over,” GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan said on CNN’s Inside Politics Sunday. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a frequent Trump critic, said on CNN’s State of the Union that Trump’s behavior was akin to that seen in a “banana republic.” And even Trump’s friend, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, speaking on ABC News’ This Week, branded Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his cohorts a “national embarrassment.”

A critical point, however, may be nearing in the confrontation between the administration and the president-elect’s team over Trump’s refusal to initiate a transition, with vote certifications due Monday in Michigan and in most counties in Pennsylvania.

If local officials move ahead – despite the interference of a White House flinging baseless claims of mass fraud – they will effectively confirm yet again Biden’s capture of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Trump’s position will therefore become less tenable even if he refuses to back away from false claims that he won on 3 November.

Read more here: CNN – More Republicans are losing patience with Trump’s legal absurdities

10.37am GMT

Trump legal team member Sidney Powell made headlines with her statements at last Thursday’s news conference where, joined by fellow Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, she incorrectly suggested that a server hosting evidence of voting irregularities was located in Germany, that voting software used by Georgia and other states was created at the direction of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, and that votes for Trump had probably been switched in favour of Biden. All nonsense.

Much of this was over-shadowed because everybody was fixated on what was happening with with Giuliani’s hair.

Giuliani and Ellis have now distanced themselves from Powell, issuing a statement saying “Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own. She is not a member of the Trump legal team. She is also not a lawyer for the president in his personal capacity.”

Read more here: Trump campaign cuts ties with attorney Sidney Powell after bizarre election fraud claims

10.28am GMT

Israeli PM Netanyahu secretly flew to Saudi Arabia to meet Mohammed bin Salman and Pompeo – reports

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly flew to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and visiting US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, Israel’s Kan public radio and Army Radio said on Monday.

Reuters report that if confirmed, it would be the first publicly acknowledged trip by an Israeli leader to ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia,which has traditionally championed the Palestinian cause and shunned all official contacts with Israel.

Netanyahu was joined on his Saudi trip by Mossad director Joseph Cohen, who has spearheaded discreet diplomatic outreach to Gulf Arab states, said the Israeli media reports, quoting unidentified Israeli officials.

Riyadh has so far declined to normalise ties with Israel. But since August it has allowed Israeli airliners to overfly Saudi territory to newly available Gulf destinations and Asia.

As Donald Trump’s term winds down, Pompeo has been trying to coax the Gulf powerhouse to follow its neighbours, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, in establishing formal relations with Israel.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo boards a plane at Neom Bay Airport in Neom, Saudi Arabia, on November 22.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo boards a plane at Neom Bay Airport in Neom, Saudi Arabia, on November 22.
Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AFP/Getty Images

Netanyahu’s office and the US Embassy in Jerusalem have made no immediate comment on the reports. Saudi state media made no mention of any visit by Netanyahu, and the Saudi government’s media office did not immediately respond to Reuters queries.

The rapprochement between Israel and the Gulf states is built largely on shared concerns about Iran – and, potentially, about whether president-elect Joe Biden will review Washington’s regional policies.

10.11am GMT

After reports first emerged on Sunday night that Antony Blinken would be US secretary of state in the Biden administration, one particular interview from his past began circulating on social media.

It was a September 2016 conversation with Grover, a character from Sesame Street, on the subject of refugees, directed at American children who might have new classmates from faraway countries.

“We all have something to learn and gain from one another even when it doesn’t seem at first like we have much in common,” Blinken told the fuzzy blue puppet.

After four years of an administration that has separated migrant children from their parents and kept them in cages, Blinken’s arrival at the state department will mark a dramatic change, to say the least.

While Mike Pompeo has remained a domestic politician throughout his tenure as secretary of state, giving the lion’s share of his interviews to conservative radio stations in the midwest, for example, Blinken is very much a born internationalist.

He went to school in Paris, where he learned to play the guitar and play football (soccer), and harboured dreams of becoming a film-maker. Before entering the White House under Barack Obama, he used to play in a weekly soccer game with US officials, foreign diplomats and journalists, and he has two singles, love songs titled Lip Service and Patience, uploaded on Spotify.

All those contacts and the urbane bilingual charm will be targeted at soothing the frayed nerves of western allies, reassuring them that the US is back as a conventional team player. The foreign policy priorities in the first days of a Biden administration will be rejoining treaties and agreements that Donald Trump left.

Read more of Julian Borger’s profile of Antony Blinken here: Antony Blinken – Biden’s secretary of state nominee is sharp break with Trump era

10.07am GMT

Biden to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to UN

The US president-elect, Joe Biden, will nominate the veteran diplomat Antony Blinken as his secretary of state and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the UN, moving forward on his campaign pledge to restore the US as a leader on the global stage and rely on experts.

Blinken and Thomas-Greenfield bring deep foreign policy backgrounds to the nascent administration while providing a sharp contrast with Donald Trump, who distrusted such experience and embraced an “America First” policy that strained longstanding US relationships.

Antony Blinken, pictured in 2016.
Antony Blinken, pictured in 2016.
Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Blinken could be named as early as Tuesday, according to sources close to Biden, while Axios first reported Thomas-Greenfield’s impending nomination.

Blinken’s appointment made another longtime Biden aide and foreign policy veteran, Jake Sullivan, the top candidate to be US national security adviser, a source told Reuters.

Linda Thomas-Greenfields speaking in March 2020.
Linda Thomas-Greenfields speaking in March 2020.
Photograph: Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA

Thomas-Greenfield, served as the assistant secretary of state for Africa under Obama, and Axios reported that her appointment was intended to restore morale and help fulfill Biden’s pledge to choose a more diverse cabinet than Donald Trump’s.

Updated at 10.12am GMT

10.01am GMT

Welcome to our live coverage of US politics. Joe Biden is setting up his cabinet in preparation for becoming president on 20 January, even while Donald Trump continues to deny the result and pledges victory to his supporters. Here’s a quick catch up on where we are, and what we can expect to see today.

  • Joe Biden to expected to nominate Antony Blinken as his secretary of state. The veteran diplomat may be named as early as Tuesday. It will mark a sharp break with the Trump era. Blinken is a longtime Biden confidant who served as No 2 at the state department and as deputy national security adviser in Barack Obama’s administration.
  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield is expected to be named as ambassador to the UN, moving forward on Biden’s campaign pledge to restore the US as a leader on the global stage and rely on experts. Thomas-Greenfield served as the assistant secretary of state for Africa under Obama.
  • Israel’s Haaretz newspaper has reported that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly visited Saudi Arabia on Sunday, and met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and visiting US secretary of state Mike Pompeo there.
  • The Trump legal campaign – or at least Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis – have distanced themselves from attorney Sidney Powell after her bizarre election fraud claims. Powell’s raft of incorrect claims include that Georgia’s voting software was created at the behest of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
  • Nevertheless, overnight president Donald Trump has again been tweeting election disinformation and claiming “We will win!”. Joe Biden’s total vote lead over Trump in the popular vote is now more than six million.
  • Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have joined the ranks of Republicans breaking ranks with Trump’s attempts to undermine the election result.
  • There were 142,732 new coronavirus cases and 921 more deaths recorded in the US yesterday. Healthcare workers are urging Americans to ‘scale back’ Thanksgiving gatherings.
  • In El Paso, inmates have been used to help move bodies into morgues as Covid deaths soar.
  • A Trump supporter who exhaled over women during protests has been charged with assault. Video showed Deskins blowing air on two unidentified women after one of them asked him to get away and pointed out that he’s not wearing a mask amid the Covid pandemic.
  • President Donald Trump has no public engagements in his diary again. President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris will meet virtually with the US conference of mayors. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Corona Virus, Health, World

Coronavirus live news: Tokyo reports record daily cases as Mexico deaths pass 100,000


Powered by article titled “Coronavirus live news: Tokyo reports record daily cases as Mexico deaths pass 100,000” was written by Damien Gayle (now), with Calla Wahlquist and Lisa Cox (earlier), for on Saturday 21st November 2020 15.42 UTC

People wear protective face masks as they walk at Alexanderplatz shopping area in Berlin, Germany.
People wear protective face masks as they walk at Alexanderplatz shopping area in Berlin, Germany.
Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Hundreds of mink farmers and breeders have paraded their tractors through Copenhagen in protest against a decision by Denmark’s government to cull the nation’s entire mink herd to halt the spread of a mutant strain of coronavirus.

More than 500 tractors, many decked out with the Danish flag, drove past the government’s offices and parliament to the port, reports AFP, the French state-backed news agency. Another 400 staged a similar protest in the country’s second city, Aarhus.

Mette Frederiksen’s government has acknowledged that its decision to cull more than 15 million minks had no legal basis for those not contaminated by the Covid-19 variant, infuriating breeders.

Mink farmers drive their tractors through Copenhagen in protest at plans to cull 15m mink,
Mink farmers drive their tractors through Copenhagen in protest at plans to cull 15m mink,

Denmark, a country of around 5.8 million people, has been the world’s leading exporter of mink fur for several decades. It sells pelts for around 670 million euros ($792 million) annually, and is the second-biggest producer worldwide, behind China.

The mutated version of the new coronavirus detected in Danish minks that raised concerns about the effectiveness of a future vaccine has likely been eradicated, the health ministry said Thursday.

“It is not fair what has happened to the breeders,” said Daniel, 19, a mink farm worker.

“The entire sector will now have to shut down,” he added.

A further 316 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 38,112, NHS England said on Saturday.

Patients were aged between 28 and 102. All except five, aged between 64 and 96, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between 3 June and 20 November.

Twenty-two other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

Over in Greece officials are warning that lockdown restrictions are likely to continue beyond 30 November when the measures were initially meant to end, writes Helena Smith, the Guardian’s Athens correspondent.

Although transmissions have gradually begun “to stabilise,” infectious disease experts say the decline in infection rates has been slower than expected.

Speaking to Thema 104.6 FM radio today, leading epidemiologist Alkiviadis Vatopoulos who sits on the scientific committee that advises prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ centre right government, said: “The curve appears to be flattening, cases don’t seem to be increasing but this has happened very late in the lockdown to be honest. We were expecting it to occur earlier … the feeling is people haven’t taken [it] as seriously as they did [during the first lockdown] in March.”

It was vital that Greeks remained on guard, he added, insisting that infection rates could “get out of control at any moment” again.

Athenians exercising at night beneath the Acropolis.
Athenians exercising at night beneath the Acropolis.
Photograph: Helena Smith/The Guardian

Greece has seen a surge in confirmed transmissions especially in and around Thessaloniki, the country’s northern metropolis where hospitals are at breaking point.

On Friday the National Organisation for Public Health announced a record 72 patients had died from Covid-19 raising the total number of fatalities to 1,419.

A further 2,581 people had been diagnosed with the virus bringing the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 87,812.

With the case load not being reduced adequately, government ministers are now saying next week will be critical in determining when, and if, curbs are lifted. Measures include a 9PM to 5 AM curfew, with citizens having to inform authorities of their movements via text before they venture outdoors. Exercise in groups of no more than three is allowed as is dog walking.

“The response to the measures hasn’t produced enough yet in terms of lessening of cases so it’s best to re-evaluate the data again when the time comes,” said minister of state Giorgos Gerapetritis adding the coming days would be critical.

Another minister contacted by the Guardian, echoing Gerapetritis, said the intention remained to open the country’s retail market ahead of Christmas “because commercially and economically December is such an important month” but emphasised that everything would depend on epidemiological data.

The US president, Donald Trump, said on Saturday that his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, is doing “very well” in quarantine after being infected with coronavirus, the Associated Press reports.

“My son Donald is doing very well. Thank you!” Trump tweeted, following Friday’s disclosure that the 42-year-old Trump scion had become one of the nearly 12 million Americans infected by the virus.

Donald Trump Jr. learned of his positive test result earlier this week, has had no symptoms and was following all medically recommended guidelines for treating the illness, said a spokesperson, who was granted anonymity to discuss private medical information.

Police have imposed a dispersal zone in Liverpool, north west England, until midnight, as they attempt to clear the street of anti lockdown protesters.

According to the Liverpool Echo, about 200 protesters were marching through the streets of the city on Saturday afternoon, chanting “freedom” as they were shepherded by police.

Several arrests have been made, the Echo reports.

In a statement on the Merseyside police website, chief supt Ngaire Waine said warned that anyone taking part in an unlawful gathering of more than two people could face arrest and prosecution or a fine.

Such gatherings in Liverpool in recent weeks have involved several hundred people showing a lack of social distancing with many not wearing face coverings, and last weekend we brought in a Section 34 dispersal zone to disperse an unlawful gathering that formed at the Bombed Out Church.

We arrested a number of people on suspicion of breaching the dispersal zone after they had returned to the area, and investigations are ongoing. If people continue to gather unlawfully, we will not hesitate to take the same course of action.

Several thousand worshippers and clergy have paid their respects to the head of the Serbian Orthodox church, Patriarch Irinej, in a Belgrade church after he died aged 90 after contracting coronavirus.

Irinej, who was born Miroslav Gavrilović, tested positive for Covid-19 on 4 November and died on Friday, prompting the Serbian government to declare three days of national mourning in the predominantly Orthodox Christian country.

Some maintained tradition by kissing the glass-covered casket containing the patriarch’s body, which was dressed in a gold-embroidered robe and an ornate crown.

Most, however, solemnly walked past it wearing protective masks as they paid their respects to Irinej, who was enthroned as the church’s 45th patriarch and spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Serbs a decade ago, Reuters reported.

Mourners pay their respect over the casket of Serbia’s late Patriarch Irinej during his funeral service on Saturday.
Mourners pay their respect over the casket of Serbia’s late Patriarch Irinej during his funeral service on Saturday.
Photograph: Vladimir Zivojinovic/Getty Images


Tens of thousands of people in Pakistan defied a government ban on large gatherings on Saturday to attend the funeral of a hardline cleric in Lahore, according to Reuters.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi, 54, died of a heart attack on Thursday, just days after leading a violent protest march to the capital, Islamabad, against the publication in France of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.

With coronavirus infections rising, the government this month declared the country was experiencing a “second wave” of contagion and banned large events and meetings.

Official data released on Saturday showed 2,843 people had tested positive for the virus and 42 had died in the last 24 hours – both figures the highest for a single day since July.

Despite the coronavirus curbs, tens of thousands turned out to mourn Rizvi, and organisers of the funeral said the government had not told them to limit the gathering.

Government officials did not respond to a request for comment about the funeral, which wreaked havoc in Lahore as mobile phone services were shut down and major roads blocked for security reasons.

A local official, who asked not to be named, said he estimated that close to 200,000 people had attended the event. The gathering was so large that Rizvi’s coffin could not be carried through the crowd to the site set up for the ceremony, and had to be positioned on a nearby bridge for the prayers, said Reuters.

Rizvi, known for his fiery sermons, headed the Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan party, which has pressured the government on a number of issues in recent years by denouncing alleged blasphemy and staging protests.

Earlier this month, the cleric led a march of thousands of protesters to Islamabad that blocked a main entry road for hours and saw demonstrators clash with police. (Writing and additional reporting by Gibran Peshimam. Editing by Helen Popper)

A mass coronavirus testing pilot scheme has been launched today in Wales.

Lisa Mytton, the deputy leader of Merthyr Tydfil county borough council, said she believed the mass testing pilot was the best way to try to reduce the area’s high levels of coronavirus transmissions.

She told the PA news agency:

I just wonder what other way there would be to do it apart from this way?

I really am hopeful that it will get everybody out there so we can find and see those people who are asymptomatic, walking around unknowingly with coronavirus, so they can then self-isolate and we can reduce our transmission rate.

This will help in the end; people being able to see relatives, to get back to some sort of normality.

Obviously we didn’t want as many people having coronavirus in Merthyr Tydfil as the numbers have shown; that’s saddened us.

But I’m pleased we’ve been chosen to undertake this pilot because if it helps reduce the transmission rate in Merthyr Tydfil then that’s a good thing, definitely.

People use a test swab to take a lateral flow Covid test at Rhydycar leisure centre in Merthyr Tydfil.
People use a test swab to take a lateral-flow Covid test at Rhydycar leisure centre in Merthyr Tydfil.
Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA


Tougher restrictions have come into force in Iran, including closing non-essential businesses and restrictions on travel, in an effort to curb a third wave of coronavirus infections – as state media reported widespread flouting of the rules.

“Tehran streets are crowded despite the restrictions,” state TV said on Saturday morning, according to Reuters. It said some non-essential businesses were open, but later showed mostly empty streets and shuttered shops.

The semi-official ISNA news agency posted photos of crammed metro trains with the hashtag “coronavirus kills”. Other media sites posted photos of packed buses.

People walk in the rain past closed shops along a street in Iran’s capital Tehran on Saturday.
People walk in the rain past closed shops along a street in Iran’s capital Tehran on Saturday.
Photograph: AFP/Getty

The deputy health minister, Alireza Raisi, said the 10% of people who ignore the health regulations could spread the virus to 80% of the population, adding that family gatherings were the main cause of infections.

President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks on Saturday the two-week restrictions could be extended if the desired results were not achieved.

Iran’s health ministry reported 431 Covid-19 deaths over the past 24 hours, taking the overall toll to 44,327. The ministry spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, said total cases rose by 12,931 to 841,308.


The tally of coronavirus cases in the eastern European sub-region passed 5m on Saturday, according to a tally kept by Reuters.

The region, which comprises Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine, has the highest count of reported cases in Europe.

They collectively reported over 82,000 cases in a single day on an average in the last week, while adding over 1,500 deaths daily on average.

Russia, Poland, and Ukraine are among the top 20 countries with the most cases in the world.

Europe has so far reported more than 15 million coronavirus cases, making it the region with the highest number of cases. It has recorded more than 346,000 deaths, the second-highest in the world by region after Latin America, according to a Reuters tally.


People wearing face masks walk through Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoul.
People wearing face masks walk through Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoul.
Photograph: AFP/Getty Images


Poland’s prime minister has asked people in the country not to travel over Christmas, and announced that while shops would reopen most coronavirus restrictions would be extended.

“Please do not plan any trips,” Mateusz Morawiecki said at a press conference, adding that the government was looking at ways of imposing movement restrictions, according to the AFP news agency.

Morawiecki said theatres, bars and restaurants would remain closed until after Christmas, and schools would continue to be on distance learning.

“The situation is still very serious,” he said, voicing concern about Poland’s high death rate but pointing out that the number of new cases had stabilised.

The health ministry on Saturday reported 574 deaths over 24 hours, bringing the total toll to 13,288. The number of new daily infections in Poland was 24,213.

The number of coronavirus-related deaths in Poland over the past week has been the third highest in the EU after Italy and France, according to an AFP tally.


A planned travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was scrapped a day before its launch on Saturday after the southern Chinese city announced a sudden spike in coronavirus cases, according to AFP.

The two financial hubs have both suffered mild outbreaks. But with small populations and a heavy dependence on links to the outside world they have been hard hit as the global economy collapsed.

Desperate to help their key tourism and aviation sectors, they came up with the plan allowing limited, quarantine-free travel between the cities as long as visitors test negative for Covid-19.

The travel corridor was set to kick off on Sunday morning. But on Saturday, Hong Kong announced the scheme would have to be delayed for two weeks following a sudden rise in coronavirus infections.

“In the light of recent surge of local cases we have decided, together with the Singapore government, to defer the air travel bubble’s launch by two weeks,” the commerce secretary, Edward Yau, told reporters.

Hi folks!

The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, has used a video update from his self-isolation at Number 10 to urge people who are self-isolating to keep themselves socially distanced from those they live with.

Johnson has been self-isolating for six days after a meeting with Tory MP Lee Anderson, who later tested positive for coronavirus. Johnson said he wanted to “reach out” to other people forced to self-isolate.

NHS Test and Trace, which is getting ever better, has achieved what so many of my political foes have wanted to achieve for many years, put me under house arrest.

I know how frustrating it can be, so I just wanted to say to everybody else who is in my shoes, don’t forget that, of course, the isolation doesn’t necessarily apply to the people you share your home with – your partner can still go out shopping or whatever.

Your housemates can still go out to exercise but you have got to make sure that you continue to observe social distancing from them. Your kids can obviously continue to go to school but you’ve got to make sure you observe social distancing from them and follow the basics: hands, face, space.

And bear in mind what you are doing is incredibly important because that is how we are going to break the chain of transmission, stop the disease, get the R down – as I believe we are doing at the moment – and get in under control.

Thank you very much everybody for what you are doing, and if you do find it a strain and you do feel under mental pressure because of what’s going on, then get onto the web and look at Every Mind Matters.


The number deaths in the Czech Republic linked to coronavirus doubled in November and passed the 7,000 mark, health ministry data showed on Saturday, according to Reuters.

Recorded fatalities reached 7,021 as of Saturday, compared with the 3,523 recorded by the end of October, according to the figures. According to the Worldometers website, the country has a rate of 655 coronavirus-related deaths per million inhabitants, and 45,495 infections per million.

The country has experienced a fall in the number of new cases and patients sent to hospital in recent weeks, allowing the government to ease some curbs.

The health ministry reported 5,809 new cases for Friday, less than half the peak numbers at the turn of October and November. The number of hospital admissions dropped to 6,307 compared with a peak of 8,283 recorded on 6 November.


Temperatures have dropped in recent days in Turin, northern Italy, but that hasn’t prevented Anita Iacovelli from persevering in her protest against the closure of her school, writes Angela Giuffrida, the Guardian’s Rome correspondent.

Every day since 6 November, when schools across the city and the wider Piedmont region were closed because of escalating coronavirus infections, the 12-year-old, wearing a hat, gloves and face mask, has sat outside Italo Calvino school and continued with her lessons remotely on a tablet computer. Behind her is a handwritten poster that reads: “Learning at school is our right.”

Anita Iacovelli, left, and her friend Lisa Rogliatti, both 12, sit in front of the Italo Calvino school in Turin, Italy.
Anita Iacovelli, left, and her friend Lisa Rogliatti, both 12, sit in front of the Italo Calvino school in Turin, Italy.
Photograph: Marco Alpozzi/AP

It began as a lone protest but Anita was soon joined by her friend Lisa Rogliatti and other classmates, before the initiative gathered momentum across Italy.

It is not the most ideal way to study, but the children simply want to go back to class, having spent months cooped up indoors in front of computers during the first wave of the pandemic.

“At the very beginning, when they announced that schools were closing, we were happy as we had weeks of tests coming up and so we thought we would skip them,” Anita told the Guardian. “But then it became extremely heavy and we got very tired.”


A €10bn (£8.9bn) support package has been approved in Italy to support businesses hit by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Reuters.

Under the measures approved late on Friday, Rome will immediately offer €1.95bn in grants to coronavirus-hit businesses and food aid for poor people. The government is also preparing an additional €8bn to beef up aid schemes already in place.

Italy’s economy is expected to contract by at least 9% this year because of lockdown measures aimed at reining in the epidemic. The new measures are not expected to push this year’s budget deficit above the current goal of 10.8% of gross domestic product, the treasury said, as there was already spending leeway built into the target.

The government is planning to spend an additional €15-€20bn early next year to help the economy, which will push up the deficit in 2021, sources have said.

On Friday, the health ministry reported 37,242 new coronavirus infections and 699 deaths, as the country struggles to curb a resurgence of cases and fatalities which are stretching its health service to breaking point.


In the UK, a former chief government scientific advisor has expressed optimism at the prospect of an imminent vaccine for Covid-19, as he downplayed fears of side effects from the rapidly produced jabs.

Prof Sir Mark Walport said he had complete confidence in the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to determine the safety of any vaccine. Unlike traditional vaccines, which contain deactivated or attenuated viruses, two frontrunners are based on novel biotechnology that tricks recipients’ own bodies into producing the spike proteins that surround the Sars-CoV-2 virus.

Walport told Times Radio that the MHRA and other global regulatory agencies would take the job of approving any vaccine very seriously, despite pressure and demand for the new vaccines to be made available as soon as possible.

They are very clear what their job is, they are independent of the government, they will look at the data in a rigorous fashion. The safety of the vaccine is very important, they will take it very seriously because we want a vaccine that works but we want one that is safe.

There’s no reason to expect long-term side effects emerging. If there are going to be side effects there are the immediate ones.


The Hungarian-born biochemist who helped pioneer the research behind the mRNA technology used in the two Covid-19 vaccines showing positive results believes it was always a no-brainer, writes Julia Kollewe.

“I never doubted it would work,” Katalin Karikó told the Guardian. “I had seen the data from animal studies, and I was expecting it. I always wished that I would live long enough to see something that I’ve worked on be approved.”

This month has been the pinnacle of Karikó’s lifelong work researching mRNA, or messenger ribonucleic acid.

The 65-year-old, who left Hungary in 1985 to pursue an academic career in the US with her husband, toddler and just £900 hidden in a teddy bear, has now been suggested as a possible Nobel prize winner.

A third wave of coronavirus infections in South Korea could be the country’s largest yet, a senior public health official has said.

“We are at a critical juncture: if we fail to block the current spread, we could be facing a large nationwide infection that surpasses” the first two waves, said Lim Sook-young, a senior Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency official. The country was hit by jumps in cases in late February-early March and August.

A cheerleader performs during a baseball match between Doosan Bears and NC Dinos at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea.
A cheerleader performs during a baseball match between Doosan Bears and NC Dinos at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea.
Photograph: Ahn Young-joon/AP

Lim spoke after the KDCA reported reported 386 new daily coronavirus cases as of midnight on Friday, bringing total infections to 30,403, with 503 deaths. New cases topped 300 for the fourth day in a row, after Tuesday had the highest amount since August.

The standard for imposing tougher social distancing measures was expected to be reached soon, Lim said. The daily national tally was expected to reach 400 new cases next week and more than 600 in early December if the current rate of one patient infecting 1.5 people was not curbed, she added.

Because of recent infections spreading among college and private after-school tuition academies, she especially urged young people to refrain from meeting and to get tested early.


Russia reports record new cases and deaths

Russia reported a daily record of 24,822 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, including 7,168 in the capital Moscow, bringing the national tally to 2,064,748, Reuters said.

Authorities also reported 467 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, also a record, taking the official death toll to 35,778.

It is too early to think about easing coronavirus restrictions in England, despite community transmission rates slowing, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, the representative body for hospitals in England, has said.

Saffron Cordery told BBC Breakfast that a drop in infection rates in some part of the country hasn’t yet translated into a drop in hospital admissions. She said:

There is a lag in the spread reducing in the community and it actually reducing in terms of hospital admissions, because when someone contracts coronavirus it would probably be 10 days to two weeks before they become a hospital admission.

Cordery said the reproduction number – the R value – of coronavirus was reducing most sharply in the areas that had the strictest lockdown measures before the English national lockdown was imposed, but that increases had been seen in the south and south-west.

I think it would be really tempting to say: ‘OK, this lockdown is working, let’s lift all restrictions on 2 December and go back to where we were,’ but I think that could put us in danger in terms both in controlling the spread of the virus and what it means for the NHS.


Hullo. This is Damien Gayle in the hot seat in London for the live blog today, bringing you the latest coronavirus-related news and updates from the UK and around the world.

If you have any comments, tips or suggestions for coverage, or you simply want to reach out from lockdown and say hi, then drop me a line, either via email to, or via Twitter DM to @damiengayle.

So, to recap:


With that I’ll pass over to Damien Gayle in London. Be well, and to my South Australian friends – try not to party too hard at midnight.


Japan has announced that it will suspend a domestic travel campaign in areas where coronavirus cases are especially high.

The prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, announced the change on Saturday afternoon.


Ukraine reports a record 14,580 new cases

Ukraine registered a record 14,580 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the health minister, Maksym Stepanov, said on Saturday, surpassing the previous day’s record of 14,575.

The total tally climbed to 612,665 cases, with 10,813 deaths, Reuters reported.


The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, is set to receive an Emmy award for his coronavirus briefings.

The International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, one of the organisations that awards Emmys, said Cuomo’s award, the Founder’s award, is “in recognition of his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world”.

Prior recipients of the award include Oprah Winfrey and the former US vice-president Al Gore.

Cuomo said on Friday that the recognition is “flattering” and that “it’s flattering for the people of [New York]”. He joked that reporters at the press conference “helped hone my presentation skills and acting skills”.

In the early months of the pandemic, when New York City was the centre of the global pandemic, Cuomo’s popularity skyrocketed as people from around the country tuned into his blunt-talking daily televised press briefings. His approval ratings rose to 77% – a record in his nearly 10 years as governor – and he even developed a global following, especially by comparison to the chaotic briefings given by Donald Trump.

Read more here:


In case you missed it, the death toll from Covid-19 in Mexico has passed 100,000, with 719 deaths recorded overnight.

Mexico has now recorded 1,025,969 cases of Covid-19, with 6,426 new cases reported by the health ministry on Friday.

Health officials have said that the real number is likely to be significantly higher than the official tally.

The head of a medical research institute that is conducting the first clinical trial in Australia on whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent Covid-19 has been named Melburnian of the year.

The director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Prof Doug Hilton, was named by the Melbourne lord mayor, Sally Capp, on Saturday:

Prof Hilton leads WEHI, where researchers are using their expertise in infectious diseases and immunology to work on urgent research and treatments for Covid-19. This includes research into how immunity to Covid-19 develops, and antibody therapies that could block the virus from entering cells.

Prof Hilton is a passionate advocate for health and medical research, diversity and inclusion, and gender equality in science.

Hilton said:

It’s a great privilege as WEHI director to be able to bring together the brightest minds from around the world who are collaborating and innovating to help people live healthier for longer. Melbourne is an internationally recognised and vibrant hub of biomedical research, and it’s wonderful that the City of Melbourne recognises and supports our amazing researchers.


Tokyo confirms record daily coronavirus increase

Tokyo confirmed a record 539 new Covid cases on Saturday, beating its previous high of 534 cases, according to the Tokyo metropolitan government.

Saturday marks the third day that the daily number of cases has topped 500, according to the public broadcaster NHK, Reuters said.


A British genomics expert says the UK is the best placed country in the world to identify the reinfection of Covid-19, PA has reported.

Dr Andrew Page, head of informatics at the Quadram Institute in Norwich, a partner in the Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium, told PA that reinfections were likely at some point in the future, although it was unclear when immunity waned for Sars-Cov-2.

Page said:

We know from other coronaviruses that immunity wanes, but it is a question of how long. At the moment, we don’t really know – only time will tell. It may be a year, it may be five years.

He said the UK was well placed to identify reinfections because it has conducted genomic sequencing on so many different samples of the virus. The UK consortium has generated more than 100,000 genomes of the coronavirus responsible for the pandemic, making up more than 45% of the global total.

In the UK, we have now sequenced so many of the samples, and they link back to NHS numbers, so we will know when someone is infected twice.

There are about 200 different strains of the virus circulating in the UK, Page told PA. Those strains can be traced back to particular locations.

When someone comes back from, say, a holiday, with fair confidence, we can tell where it has come from, is it new, and whether it has been seen in the UK.

We can do these investigations and it does help inform the people who are doing the contact tracing simply by linking things together, so they can make better decisions.


Where things stand in Australia

A quick summary of where things are at at the end of the day in Australia:

  • South Australia’s 1.6 million residents will be allowed out of their homes at midnight, but are required to wear masks for the next eight days and comply with new restrictions. SA was put into a six-day hard lockdown on Wednesday, under the toughest rules ever seen in Australia, but it was shortened to three days after authorities learned one of the 26 positive cases in the Parafield cluster had lied in a contact tracing interview.
  • The person who allegedly lied to contact tracers is a 36-year-old man from Spain on a temporary graduate student visa, which expires next month. A team of 20 detectives is investigating the alleged deception.
  • SA recorded just one new case on Saturday, connected to the Parafield cluster.
  • Victoria recorded no new cases for the 22nd day in a row and now has just one active case. Virus fragments were detected in wastewater testing in the Altona area.
  • Victoria will lift its border restrictions against South Australia from midnight, with a new permit system to apply.
  • New South Wales recorded no new locally acquired cases for the 14th day in a row, but 10 in hotel quarantine. That’s one full infection cycle – it has to record 28 days with no new cases for Queensland and WA to reopen their borders. Victoria is just six days away from that target.
  • WA recorded one new case in hotel quarantine. Queensland recorded two new cases, also in people who are in hotel quarantine.
  • The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, says he is “very confident” the Australian Open tennis tournament will go ahead in early 2021.


The UK’s deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, takes Zoom etiquette very seriously.

Van-Tam was in isolation on Friday evening, after a close contact tested positive to the virus, so appeared at a coronavirus briefing via video conference. And, as one does to avoid confusion when talking over communications technology, he ended every contribution by saying “over”.

He may have started a trend.


Back to Australia quickly, where the state of Victoria, which was in the grips of an out-of-control second wave just over three months ago, now only has one active case.

Authorities did have concern over a test taken from a woman in her 80s, which showed a positive result. The Victorian health department’s expert review panel has now determined it is a false positive. The department said:

The case had no identified links to a known Covid-19 case and was not showing symptoms.

Close contacts of the potential case also tested negative yesterday.

The Expert Review Panel agreed the results are consistent with the original result being a false positive. Public health actions in relation to this case have been stood down.

Virus fragments were picked up in wastewater testing in the Altona sewage catchment, in Melbourne’s western suburbs. Affected suburbs are Altona, Altona Meadows, Laverton, Point Cook and Sanctuary Lakes. It follows the detection of virus fragments at Portland, about four hours’ drive west of Melbourne, and Benalla, about 2.5 hours north. Pop-up testing sites have been set up in Point Cook, Benalla and Portland, details here.


We mentioned earlier that the UK health secretary, Matt Hancock, is confident that the NHS can begin a national program to immunise people against Covid-19 next month, if the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved.

That’s the vaccine that needs to be stored at -75C. So what are the practical challenges of distributing it to a nation of 66 million?

Denis Campbell and Lisa O’Carroll explain:

If Pfizer’s vaccine is approved it will ship it from its production plant in Puurs in Belgium in freezer boxes containing 195 vials of the vaccine, each of which holds five doses. Dry ice in the double membrane boxes will keep the vaccine at the required -75C temperature.

Once it has reached Britain, it will be taken by truck to a network of 50 medicine storage warehouses at undisclosed locations which already supply 92% of the country’s drugs and deliver medications daily to 16,500 hospitals, pharmacies and primary care health centres.

Martin Sawer, the executive director of the Healthcare Distribution Association, which represents the warehouse owners, said the vaccine will be kept in specially-designed extreme-low temperature freezers acquired by the NHS and lent to warehouses for the duration of the rollout. Once an order is received from vaccination centres, stocks will be moved to “massive fridges the size of small bungalows” to be defrosted over three hours and, once thawed, placed in refrigerated vans immediately for distribution.

The boxes can remain stored at their sub-Arctic temperature for up to six months. But once opened and thawing begins, the NHS will be in a race against time to ensure it is delivered and administered before it expires, to avoid wastage. The government has ordered 40m doses of Pfizer’s vaccine. But with 20m-22m people in 10 priority groups the first to be immunised, and each due to receive two injections three weeks apart, NHS England has told GPs and everyone else involved in giving the jabs that no more than 5% of vaccines must be wasted.

You can read their full story here:


It’s beginning to look a lot like a Covid-safe Christmas. This video-conferencing Santa is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Brazil has recorded almost six million coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, with 35,918 new cases on Thursday.

A child interacts by video with Santa Claus at NorteShopping mall in Rio de Janeiro amid the Covid-19 outbreak
A child interacts by video with Santa Claus at NorteShopping mall in Rio de Janeiro amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Photograph: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters


Thanks to Lisa Cox for taking you through the day.

Let’s go to Germany now, where the confirmed number of coronavirus cases has increased by 22,964 to 902,528, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Saturday.

The reported death toll rose by 254 to 13,884, the tally showed.


I’m handing over to my colleague Calla Wahlquist, who will take you through to the early evening.

Some of the key things so far today:

  • The total number of Covid-19 cases globally has reached 57.5 million.
  • The number of deaths in Mexico has surpassed 100,000.
  • South Australia recorded one new case – a close contact of another case – as the state prepares to lift its hard lockdown at midnight. There have been no new cases in New South Wales and Victoria.
  • China is beginning three days of universal screening in Tianjin.


AAP reports:

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has welcomed a joint statement from Asia Pacific leaders calling for free and predictable trade for economic recovery out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Leaders of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, including US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping, agreed they would not resort to protectionist policies.

The joint communique, after a virtual summit hosted on Friday by Malaysia, was made in the midst of ongoing trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

“It was a very positive meeting,” Mr Morrison told Australian reporters via video link from The Lodge on Saturday.

“People are very focused on vaccines and affordable early access of safe vaccines – not just in developed countries but in developing countries – and on the recovery, that trade will play such an important role in going forward.”

The prime minister said he felt an undertaking from APEC nations to keep trade doors open had been “refreshed” during the meeting that ran until about 2.30am Canberra time.

“Part of that is making sure we all individually seek to engage with each other to deal with any issues as they arise – which is a point I made last night,” Mr Morrison said.

In the communique, the leaders said they recognised “the importance of a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment” to drive growth during the crisis.

Here is a look at the latest data globally from Johns Hopkins University. Global cases stand at 57.5m.

These are the countries with the highest total number of cases:

1. United States: 11,908,396

2. India: 9,004,365

3. Brazil: 6,020,164

4. France: 2,160,343

5. Russia: 2,023,025

Globally, these are the countries that have recorded the highest death toll from the virus:

1. United States: 254,383

2. Brazil: 168,613

3. India: 132,162

4. Mexico: 100,823

5. United Kingdom: 54,381


While lockdowns in South Australia will ease tonight, aged care facilities will still be on high alert, the ABC has reported.

Patricia Sparrow, the chief executive of Aged and Community Services Australia, says the sector has learned from what had happened in Victoria.

“The contact tracing in South Australia has been good, which is important because it allows providers to manage it better,” she says.

“There has been a South Australian aged care response centre set up. We didn’t have that in Victoria initially, it took a while to come on. So things that we did in Victoria as the situation unfolded, people have learned that lesson and that’s been stood up much more quickly.”

Sparrow says a group of aged care provider peak bodies and consumer peak bodies had updated visitor codes for residential aged care in South Australia.


Health authorities in Western Australia say the state has recorded one new case of Covid-19, bringing the state’s total to 797.

The confirmed case is a woman in her 30s who returned to Perth from overseas. She is in hotel quarantine.

WA Health is monitoring 16 active cases and 772 confirmed cases have recovered from the virus in WA.


Still in the UK, major trials will begin this weekend of an antibody cocktail that scientists hope will protect people against Covid-19 and could be swiftly used in care homes or on cruise ships in the event of an outbreak.

A UK volunteer will be given the first dose of a drug that is expected to give vulnerable people immediate protection.

The jab into the muscle of the arm takes effect straight away and could last for six months to a year. If it works as well as scientists predict, it could be used to protect those who cannot be given vaccines because of their state of health.

Read more here:


In the UK, the NHS could start immunising people against Covid-19 next month, if the medicines regulator approves a vaccine in time, Matt Hancock has said.

The health secretary held out the prospect of the unprecedented vaccination programme starting before Christmas, if the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech has been given the green light.

You can read the full story here:


In the Philippines, the president, Rodrigo Duterte, has approved ending a ban on deploying the nation’s healthcare workers, clearing the way for thousands of nurses to take up jobs overseas.

“The president already approved the lifting of the temporary suspension of deployment of nurses and other medical workers,” the labour secretary, Silvestre Bello, told Reuters on Saturday.

But to ensure the Philippines, which has the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in south-east Asia, will have enough medical professionals to fight the pandemic, only 5,000 healthcare workers will be allowed to leave every year, Bello said.


Covid vaccines and global economic recovery will be high on the agenda of this weekend’s G20 summit, which is being held virtually because of the pandemic, Reuters reports:

Leaders of the 20 biggest world economies (G20) will debate this weekend how to deal with the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic that has caused a global recession and how to manage the recovery once the coronavirus is under control.

High on the agenda are purchases and global distribution of vaccines, drugs and tests for low income countries that cannot afford such expenses themselves. The European Union will urge the G20 on Saturday to invest $4.5bn to help.

“The main theme will be to step up global cooperation to address the pandemic,” said a senior G20 official taking part in the preparations for the two-day summit, chaired by Saudi Arabia and held virtually because of the pandemic.

To prepare for the future, the EU will propose a treaty on pandemics.


In case you missed it earlier today, Andrew Giuliani, a White House aide and the son of Rudy Giuliani, confirmed he has tested positive for coronavirus. Reuters reports:

Andrew Giuliani, a White House aide and son of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, said on Friday he had tested positive for Covid-19.

“I am experiencing mild symptoms, and am following all appropriate protocols, including being in quarantine and conducting contact tracing,” he said on Twitter.

Andrew attended his father’s press conference on Thursday at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, according to multiple reports.

Jenna Ellis, another Trump lawyer who spoke at the press conference, said on Twitter on Friday that she and the elder Giuliani “have both tested negative for Covid-19”.

Andrew Giuliani at his father’s press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Thursday
Andrew Giuliani at his father’s press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Thursday.
Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters


South Korea has reported 386 new Covid cases. Authorities are warning tougher measures will be needed if the country’s third wave of the virus is not quickly contained, Reuters reports:

South Korea’s third wave of Covid-19 continued on Saturday after medical groups called for stricter social-distancing curbs and the government warned of tougher measures if infections are not quickly contained.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 386 new daily coronavirus cases as of Friday midnight, bringing total infections to 30,403, with 503 deaths.

New cases topped 300 for the fourth day in a row, after Tuesday saw the highest since August.

Without effective measures such as stricter distancing, the daily tally could reach 1,000 in the next two weeks, the Korean Society of Infectious Diseases and eight other medical societies warned.

“This winter is expected to be the biggest challenge in the Covid-19 response,” the groups said in a statement on Friday, calling on the public to take steps voluntarily.

“There has been good news on successful development of Covid-19 vaccines, but this winter we have to stop it without a vaccine.”

Although South Korea tightened prevention guidelines on Thursday and the prime minister, Chung Sye-kyun, called on Friday for all social gatherings to be cancelled, bars, nightclubs, religious services and sports events are still allowed with attendance restrictions.


A final note from Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison on the return of international flights to Victoria. He told premier Daniel Andrews:

I also particularly thank you for the work that has been done to get the international arrivals happening again – over 1,000 people coming in a week – that will greatly assist us in getting Australians home.

And we will look at that again after about four weeks and see how we go from there, but appreciate that getting back on well … that is tremendous and the more Australians we can get home before Christmas, the better. So thank you very much and have a good weekend, mate.


Terrific, thanks very much, PM.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a virtual press conference
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a virtual press conference.
Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Victorian premier ‘very confident’ Australian Open will go ahead in early 2021

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, says he is “very confident” the Australian Open tennis tournament will go ahead in early 2021.

Key to this going ahead is the return of international flights to Melbourne, which will happen from 7 December with the resumption of the hotel quarantine system.

This is not a simple thing, to have many hundreds or indeed potentially well more than 1,000 athletes and others who support them, media, being here for a very important event. It has to be done safely, it has to be done right.

I am very confident we will have an Australian Open in the early part of next year. The exact timing of it, the exact arrangements we put in place, they are not settled yet and as soon as they are I will be more than happy to share it with you.

But I would not read too much into some of the reports. A lot of people are doing a lot of talking about these things and while they are talking, we’re getting on with the work so that we can have one of our most significant major events, not just for the state but indeed for the whole nation, happen as close to normal, as normal as anything can be, Covid-normal, as possible.


Back in Australia, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, and the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, are giving a joint press conference via Zoom about the $4bn Melbourne to Geelong faster rail project. They are on video link because Morrison is undergoing quarantine at the lodge after returning from Japan this week.

The two leaders have been engaged in a power struggle in the past few months, which came to a head during Melbourne’s second wave of coronavirus. The federal government blamed the outbreak on the failures of Victoria’s hotel quarantine system and the Victorian government blamed the heavy death toll on failures in the commonwealth-run aged care system. Both of these things are true.

In recent weeks, Victoria has been facing federal pressure to begin accepting international flights again to ease the pressure on other states.

Morrison made sure to mention it in the joint press conference, saying that international travellers would have an expectation of a rail connection to the airport, which is part of an airport rail project connected to the Geelong rail project.


Let’s not forget the international travels, and they will be back soon we hope.


They will be back.


They have an expectation of world-class cities that such infrastructure will be in place and that is exciting that will now be realised for Melbourne.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison speak to the media during a virtual press conference
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison speak to the media during a virtual press conference.
Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


In case you missed this news earlier, Donald Trump Jr has tested positive for Covid-19. That takes the number of Trumps to have tested positive to the virus to four.

The outgoing president, Donald Trump, the first lady, and their son Barron tested positive to the virus last month and have since recovered. Trump Jr’s girlfriend also tested positive back in July.

It comes as the United States recorded 2,015 deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday, the highest single day death toll since May. The US also set a new daily record for the number of new infections recorded in one day, with 187,000 cases on Thursday.

A quarter of a million people have now died of Covid-19 in the US.

Victoria down to one active Covid case

In Australia, the state of Victoria currently has one active coronavirus case. However, residents and visitors to Altona, in Melbourne’s south-west, have been urged to get tested if they have even mild symptoms after traces of the virus were found in waste water, AAP reports:

Victoria has one active Covid-19 case but authorities are concerned about traces of the virus unexpectedly found at a Melbourne waste water facility.

The state has gone 22 days with no new cases.

One patient was cleared in the past 24 hours, leaving just one active case, that of an immunosuppressed person who the health minister, Martin Foley, said on Saturday was making a “slow and steady” recovery.

A weak-positive case that was under review, that of an elderly woman, has been ruled negative.

Authorities meanwhile have issued a plea for residents and visitors to Altona in Melbourne’s south-west from last Monday to Wednesday to get tested if they have even mild symptoms.

Virus traces have been detected in a wastewater sample collected from the Altona sewage catchment on Wednesday.

The result is unexpected because it has been about eight weeks since someone in the area tested positive.

Suburbs in the catchment include Altona, Altona Meadows, Laverton, Point Cook and Sanctuary Lakes.

“It could mean there is somebody in the community that we have missed,” Foley said.


China to begin three days of universal screening in Tianjin

China has reported 16 new coronavirus cases, as the city of Tianjin, near Beijing, launches a three-day universal screening programme covering nearly 3 million residents, Reuters reports:

Mainland China reported 16 new Covid-19 cases on 20 November, down from 17 the previous day, with seven cases of local transmission and nine cases originating overseas, the country’s health authority said on Saturday.

The National Health Commission said in its daily bulletin that five of the local transmissions took place in Tianjin and two in Shanghai.

Tianjin, which neighbours the capital Beijing, will launch a three-day universal screening programme covering nearly 3 million of its residents on Saturday.

Local officials said on Friday that one community in Tianjin had been placed in lockdown and around 1,900 people have been quarantined, according to the China Daily newspaper.

Mainland China also reported another 18 cases of asymptomatic cases on 20 November, up from 14 on the previous day.

It has so far reported an accumulated total of 86,414 Covid-19 cases, with the official death toll at 4,634.


Mexico records more than 6,000 new Covid cases

In Mexico, the Covid-19 death toll has passed 100,000, with more than 1 million cases.

Mexico’s health ministry on Friday reported 6,426 new confirmed coronavirus infections in the country and 719 deaths, bringing the official totals to 1,025,969 cases and 100,823 dead, Reuters reports.

Health officials have said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher than the official tally.


In case you missed it earlier:

In Australia, New South Wales has reached two weeks – one complete infection cycle – without a single locally transmitted coronavirus case, AAP reports.

Ten cases of the virus were diagnosed in hotel quarantine in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, from more than 16,000 tests.

While Victoria on Saturday announced it had just one active virus case remaining, NSW Health is still treating 70 cases.

“While there have been no new locally acquired cases in NSW for the past 14 days, we continue to encourage people to get tested, even if they display only the mildest of symptoms such as a runny nose, scratchy throat, cough or fever,” NSW Health’s Dr Jan Fizzell said on Saturday.

NSW has reached the milestone as South Australian brings its outbreak under control and as the due date for a decision on Queensland’s border with NSW approaches.

Queensland health authorities have said Sydney must go 28 days – two whole infection cycles – without any locally transmitted virus cases for restrictions to lift.


The coronavirus pandemic and Victoria’s 112-day lockdown has decimated the Australian state’s coffers, with treasurer Tim Pallas expected to outline a $23.3bn deficit and more than $150bn in net debt in Tuesday’s budget.

AAP reports:

But it is not all bad news, with the budget also expected to include tax cuts and incentives to lure global companies to the state, as well as already-announced boosts for mental health and social housing.

Details obtained by AAP show the Andrews government will undertake record borrowing which will grow net debt to $86bn in 2020/21, before reaching $154bn by 2023/24.

The state was already borrowing billions for major infrastructure projects before the pandemic hit.

Interest rates are at record lows, so increased borrowing is among the best ways to revive the economy and support Victorians, Mr Pallas says.

“This is a budget that puts the Victorian people first, with the support they need to recover and rebuild,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

“We’re following the blueprint of jurisdictions around Australia and the world, who are using their own budgets to protect household and business budgets.”

With economic output plummeting and unemployment skyrocketing as a result of the pandemic, much of the money borrowed will be spent on job-boosting infrastructure projects and social and business supports.

The government’s infrastructure spend is forecast to average $19.6bn each year over the forward estimates – which the treasurer says is four times the 10-year average prior to 2014.


Welcome to our ongoing live coronavirus coverage. Here is what you need to know about events around the world so far today:

  • The number of coronavirus cases in Brazil has surpassed 6 million, becoming the third country in the world to pass that milestone after the United States and India. Brazil recorded 38,397 additional confirmed cases in the past 24 hours and 552 deaths from Covid-19, the health ministry said. The official death toll has risen to 168,613, according to ministry data.
  • Donald Trump Jr tested positive for Covid-19 this week. A spokesman says he is quarantining but has had no symptoms.
  • The city of Toronto has returned to lockdown amid a surge of coronavirus cases in Canada.
  • France has recorded a further 1,138 deaths over the past 24 hours from the virus, taking the total to 48,265. France has also reported 22,882 cases in the past 24 hours, compared with 21,150 on Thursday.
  • Iran will impose tougher restrictions nationwide as the Middle East country hardest hit by the coronavirus battles a third wave of infections. The toughest measures, under which non-essential businesses and services are to close, will be imposed in the capital Tehran and about 160 other high risk “red” cities and towns, state media said.
  • In South Australia, police continue to investigate a Covid-19 case linked to a pizza bar in Adelaide after a worker lied to contact tracers about his job at there. South Australia recorded one new Covid-19 case on Saturday, a close contact of another case. The state’s lockdown lifts at midnight, Australian time.
  • The Australian state of Victoria has recorded its 22nd day of no new coronavirus cases but authorities are asking anyone in the Altona catchment to get tested if they have symptoms after coronavirus was detected in sewage. NSW recorded no new locally acquired Covid-19 cases. Two new cases were reported in Queensland today, both in hotel quarantine.
  • Portugal’s parliament approved a 15-day extension of a state of emergency from next week to allow continuation of coronavirus measures as the government considers fresh steps.
  • Drugmaker Pfizer Inc is hoping to rapidly roll out its experimental Covid-19 vaccine around Latin America soon after it gets emergency authorisation in the US, a senior executive said, which could be as early as next month.

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Biden’s likely pick to lead the Pentagon isn’t a win for feminism


Powered by article titled “Biden’s likely pick to lead the Pentagon isn’t a win for feminism” was written by Arwa Mahdawi, for on Saturday 21st November 2020 14.00 UTC

Sign up for the Week in Patriarchy, a newsletter on feminism and sexism sent every Saturday.

The woke-washing of war

It’s time to lean into the military-industrial complex, ladies! The US defense department is one of three cabinet agencies – the others are treasury and veterans affairs – that have never been led by a woman; now, however, it looks like one of the last glass ceilings is about to get smashed. It is widely expected that Joe Biden will appoint Michèle Flournoy as America’s first female female defense secretary.

There has been a lot of rhapsodizing about this historic appointment: “Biden likely to break barriers, pick woman to lead Pentagon,” an Associated Press headline proclaimed. The piece goes onto note that Flournoy’s appointment “would be consistent with Biden’s pledge to have a diverse cabinet”.

Excuse me if I’m not particularly excited about all this diversity. Flournoy, who was a senior defense adviser in Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s administrations, might become the first woman in charge of the Pentagon, but it seems unlikely that she’ll do anything to actually change America’s foreign policy for the better. Flournoy was widely considered to have been one of Obama’s more hawkish advisers and helped masterminded the escalation of the disastrous war in Afghanistan. She has called for increased defense spending, arguing in a 2017 Washington Post op-ed that Trump was “right to raise the need for more defense dollars”. She has complained that Obama didn’t use military force enough, particularly in Syria. She supported the wars in Iraq and Libya. She has lucrative ties with defense contractors, and serves on the board of Booz Allen Hamilton.

Look, I get it, anyone with a chance of becoming defense secretary is going to be problematic in some way. It’s not the sort of job you tend to get if you’re anti-war or if you’re opposed to American imperialism. But that doesn’t mean that we should be acting like Flournoy’s likely appointment as head of the Pentagon is some kind of win for feminism. There is nothing remotely feminist about women in rich countries dropping bombs on women in poor countries.

Nor is there anything feminist in the way that some people are already cynically weaponizing Flournoy’s gender to detract from meaningful critiques of her policies. According to Mieke Eoyang, senior vice-president for national security at a thinktank called Third Way, for example, criticizing Flournoy is sexist. “White progressives training their fire on women and women of color who are under consideration to lead the [national security] departments makes me deeply uncomfortable about their allyship for those communities,” Eoyang tweeted last week. “Especially when the [national security] community is dominated by white men.”

Got that? If you want to be an ally to women, you have to support them no matter how many bombs they want to drop. That’s what genuine “allyship” looks like! Three cheers for intersectional imperialism!

I worry that we’re going to see a lot of this kind of meaningless identity politics over the next four years. I worry that Biden is going to be applauded for appointing women and non-white people into powerful positions and this “diversity” will help woke-wash harmful policies.

I worry that anything unethical the Biden administration does will be shrugged off because it’s not as bad as the trauma of the Trump years. I worry that we’re going to go back to business as usual and forget that it’s business as usual that got Trump elected in the first place.

Prenatal testing and the future of Down syndrome

Advances in prenatal testing mean parents can now easily screen for conditions like Down syndrome very early on in a pregnancy and then decide to have an abortion. “Few people speak publicly about wanting to ‘eliminate’ Down syndrome,” Sarah Zhang writes in this thought-provoking Atlantic article, “yet individual choices are adding up to something very close to that.” They’re also reinforcing a narrow view of normal. “Genetic testing, as a medical service, is used to enforce the boundaries of ‘normal’ by screening out the anomalous,” Zhang writes. “[B]ut seeing all the anomalies that are compatible with life might actually expand our understanding of normal.”

We can exclude that the “like” came from the Holy See

Pope Francis’s official Instagram account “liked” a photo of a scantily clad Brazilian model, causing quite the kerfuffle. The Vatican has claimed they had nothing to do with it and are demanding an explanation from Instagram. Must have been an act of God.

Kim Ng becomes first female general manager in Major League Baseball

Ng, 51, was hired by the Miami Marlins last week and is the first female general manager in any of the four major US sports league.

Harry Styles wore a dress, triggering rightwingers everywhere

To be fair, I was a little upset by Styles posing in a ballgown on the cover of Vogue myself. He looks far better in it than I would.

Meet Gladys West: she helped invent GPS but prefers paper maps

Do read this profile of the incredible 89-year-old.

New Zealand police introduce hijab for female officers

Constable Zeena Ali will become the first officer to wear the official hijab.

The week in Ponziarchy

What do you do when the FBI come after you for running a $35m Ponzi scheme? Escape underwater using a submersible scooter, obviously. That’s what Matthew Piercey did anyway. According to official documents Piercey “spent some time out of sight underwater where law enforcement could only see bubbles”, but eventually had to emerge dripping wet to face justice – and, most likely, a horrible cold. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Trump makes futile last stand to overturn results as Georgia certifies Biden win


Powered by article titled “Trump makes futile last stand to overturn results as Georgia certifies Biden win” was written by David Smith in Washington, for The Guardian on Saturday 21st November 2020 00.44 UTC

Donald Trump was on Friday making a futile but dangerous last stand, without precedent in modern American history, to overturn the result of the presidential election so he can remain in power.

Even as Joe Biden’s victory in the state of Georgia was confirmed, the president met with Republican leaders from Michigan at the White House in an increasingly desperate bid to subvert democracy after a series of courtroom defeats over allegations of voter fraud.

The Trump campaign’s apparent strategy is to persuade Republican-controlled legislatures in Michigan and other battleground states in the electoral college to set aside the will of the people and declare Trump the winner, despite officials declaring it the most secure election in American history.

“The entire election, frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump,” Sidney Powell, one of Trump’s lawyers, told the Fox Business Network on Thursday.

Michigan’s state legislative leaders, the senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, and the house speaker, Lee Chatfield, both Republicans, visited the White House on Friday at Trump’s request.

Shirkey was greeted by protesters and media at Washington’s Reagan international airport. There were chants of “Certify the results!” and a shout of “Where is the evidence of fraud?”

However, following the White House meeting, Shirkey and Chatfield affirmed their commitment to abide by the electoral process, in an apparent blow to Trump’s efforts.

“We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors,” the pair said in a joint statement. “Michigan’s certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation.”

Most experts have dismissed Trump’s efforts as political fantasy and probably unlawful. But they warn that an American president trying to reverse a free and fair election could poison millions of minds, conditioning his base to lose faith in democracy and regard Biden as an illegitimate president.

Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state defeated by Trump in the 2016 election, tweeted on Friday: “Protecting one man’s ego is not worth damaging the legitimacy of our democracy.”

Biden, a former vice-president, won the election and is preparing to take office on 20 January, but Trump has refused to concede and is searching for a way to invalidate the results, alleging widespread irregularities without providing evidence.

Speaking in the White House briefing room on Friday about an initiative to lower prescription medicine prices, Trump maintained his baseless claim that he was the true winner. “Big pharma ran millions of dollars of negative advertisements against me during the campaign – which I won, by the way,” he told reporters.

“But, you know, we’ll find that out. Almost 74m votes. We had big pharma against us. We had the media against us. We had big tech against us. We had a lot of dishonesty against us.”

Biden received nearly 6m more votes than Trump but the winner is determined by the electoral college, where each state’s electoral votes, based largely on population, are awarded to the winner of a state’s popular vote.

Biden leads by 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 as states work to certify their results at least six days before the electoral college convenes on 14 December to ratify the vote.

The Trump campaign is particularly targeting Michigan, which Biden won by 154,000 votes, in the hope that Republicans there will manipulate the electoral system.

Both Shirkey and Chatfield have previously denied that they might try to overturn Biden’s win, noting that Michigan law does not allow the legislature to directly select electors or award them to anyone other than the person who received the most votes.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Delaware this week.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Delaware this week. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Even so, Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, told the MSNBC TV network: “It’s incredibly dangerous that they are even entertaining the conversation. This is an embarrassment to the state.”

Earlier this week, two Republicans canvassers blocked the certification of votes in Wayne county, Michigan, where Detroit is located, a majority Black city. They later relented, amid cries of racism, and the results were certified. It then emerged that Trump made contact with the canvassers, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, on Tuesday to express gratitude for their support.

On Wednesday, Palmer and Hartmann signed affidavits saying they believed the county vote “should not be certified” after all. But Michigan’s secretary of state said they cannot rescind their votes.

Trump’s dominance of the Republican party is such that few prominent figures have spoken out again his scorched earth strategy.

However, Mitt Romney, a senator for Utah and the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, broke ranks on Thursday. He said: “Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the president has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election. It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president.”

Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican and Trump supporter, on Friday certified results that showed Biden won the state by just over 12,600 votes after a manual recount and an audit were conducted. “The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state’s office or courts, or of either campaigns,” he told reporters.

Trump’s attempts to reverse his defeat via lawsuits and recounts have met with no meaningful success. Yet his campaign has not abandoned its offensive in the courts.

Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, said in an hour-and-a-half-long press conference on Thursday that there are plans to file more lawsuits. He accused Democrats of masterminding a “national conspiracy” to steal the election, referencing China, Cuba, the Clinton Foundation, billionaire George Soros and the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez but offering no proof.

“I know crimes, I can smell them,” said Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, sweating profusely as what appeared to be hair dye trickled down his face. “You don’t have to smell this one, I can prove it to you.” He offered no evidence to support his claims.

Chris Krebs, the Trump administration election official fired last week over the comments about the security of the election, tweeted: “That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history. And possibly the craziest.”

Biden, celebrating his 78th birthday – he is the oldest US president-elect in history – met the House of Representatives speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, on Friday after spending most of the week with advisers planning his administration, despite the refusal of the Trump administration to cooperate with his team, even over dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Trump targets Michigan as Biden remains winner in Georgia – live updates


Powered by article titled “Trump targets Michigan as Biden remains winner in Georgia – live updates” was written by Martin Belam, for on Friday 20th November 2020 13.26 UTC

‘Numbers don’t lie’ – Georgia’s secretary of state one of very few Republicans to accept Biden victory

Mitt Romney is one Republican who has stood up to criticise the president’s actions since he lost the 2020 election. His reward this morning is a barrage of abuse from Trump on Twitter.

Another Republican who has stood up to the pressure from the party and the Trump administration to overturn Joe Biden’s victory is Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger.

One of very few Republican figures to emerge with any credit from the last few days, Raffensperger, who called himself a proud Trump supporter, has again stated today that Joe Biden has won Georgia.

“Like other Republicans. I’m disappointed, our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral votes,” he said. “I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie. As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct.”

While it looks like Donald Trump and the Republican party’s attempted coup to subvert the outcome of the 2020 has little chance of succeeding, it does appear to be working for them in one way – firing up the base.

In Reuters interviews over the last couple of days with 50 Trump voters in Texas, all said they believed the election was rigged or in some way illegitimate. Of those, 20 said they would consider accepting Biden as their president, but only in light of proof that the election was conducted fairly. Most repeated debunked conspiracy theories espoused by Trump, Republican officials and conservative media claiming that millions of votes were dishonestly switched to Biden in key states by biased poll workers and hacked voting machines.

Many voters interviewed by Reuters said they formed their opinions by watching emergent right-wing media outlets such as Newsmax and One American News Network that have amplified Trump*s fraud claims. Some have boycotted Fox News out of anger that the network called Biden the election winner and that some of its news anchors – in contrast to its opinion show stars – have been skeptical of Trump’s fraud allegations.

The widespread rejection of the election result among Republicans reflects a new and dangerous dynamic in American politics: the normalization of false and increasingly extreme conspiracy theories among tens of millions of mainstream voters, according to government scholars, analysts and some lawmakers on both sides of the political divide. The trend has deeply troubling long-term implications for American political and civic institutions, said Paul Light, a veteran political scientist at New York University (NYU). “This is dystopian,” Light said. “America could fracture.*

Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of the US House of Representatives, is among the few party members to publicly recognize Biden’s victory. He called his Republican colleagues reluctance to reject Trump*s conspiracies a failure of political courage that threatens to undermine American democracy for years. If citizens lose faith in election integrity, that could lead to “really bad things,” including violence and social unrest, he said in an interview.

David Gergen – an adviser to four previous US presidents, two Democrats and two Republicans – said Trump is trying to “kneecap” the Biden administration before it takes power, noting this is the first time a sitting American president has tried to overthrow an election result.

It may not be the last time. Many Republicans see attacks on election integrity as a winning issue for future campaigns – including the next presidential race, according to one Republican operative close to the Trump campaign. The party, the person said, is setting up a push for “far more stringent oversight on voting procedures in 2024,” when the party*s nominee will likely be Trump or his anointed successor.

Brett Fryar, a 50-year-old chiropractor, owns a small business in Texas. He has two undergraduate degrees and a master*s degree, in organic chemistry. He told Reuters “If President Trump comes out and says: ‘Guys, I have irrefutable proof of fraud, the courts won’t listen, and I’m now calling on Americans to take up arms,’ we would go.”

Nothing will convince Fryar that Biden won. And as CNN’s Jake Tapper notes, this isn’t the fringes of the internet enabling it, this isn’t just Trump and his outriders, this is the Republican party itself.

Here’s the Washington Post today on the strategy that Joe Biden is pursuing while he waits for the transition period to the new Biden-Harris administration to become official.

President-elect Joe Biden tried Thursday to minimize as an irresponsible distraction the ever-escalating attempts by President Trump and his allies to undermine or overturn the presidential election results.

The decision reflected confidence among Biden’s advisers that Trump’s maneuverings — from pushing Michigan Republicans to block certification of the results to unfounded claims that US voting machine software had been tampered with by allies of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez — were little more than public spectacle aimed at satisfying Trump’s sense of grievance with no chance of overturning the vote.

Biden said he did not plan any new legal moves in response to Trump’s latest efforts, but also did not rule out taking action against the General Services Administration at a future date to force a belated recognition of his presidential transition. The GSA, following Trump’s dictate, has refused to allow the traditional exchange of information with the incoming administration, even blocking intelligence and pandemic briefings.

Democratic strategists and elected officials have largely closed ranks behind Biden’s strategy to avoid engaging directly with Trump’s efforts to spread false conspiracy theories about voter fraud.

“The president-elect has taken the right tack, frankly, to stay above it, to keep focused on preparing himself for the work ahead, to be meeting with people who can help prepare him, even if the president continues to stonewall the transition — and let other actors push back,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff said.

Read more here: Washington Post – Biden brushes aside Trump attempts to overturn the election, confident his victory will stand

The New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among members of the ‘Squad’, a group of progressive Democrats, who spoke at a Sunrise Movement rally in Washington yesterday to push Joe Biden on tackling the climate emergency.

AOC said they would urge Biden to ‘keep his promises’ to working families, women, minorities and climate activists as he fills his cabinet.

In July, Biden outlined an ambitious climate plan that would spend $2tn over four years investing in clean-energy infrastructure while vowing to cut carbon emissions from electrical power to zero in 15 years.


Chris McGreal has been in Howard county, Iowa for us, looking at how Donald Trump managed to boost his support among rural Americans in the election, despite his overall defeat.

Just a few months ago, Neil Shaffer thought Iowa was lost to Donald Trump.

“I was worried. We were in the midst of Covid and the economy wasn’t doing so good and Trump wasn’t handling the Covid interviews very well, and I was thinking this is gonna be a bloodbath,” said the farmer and chair of a county Republican party in the north-east of the state.

But on election day, rural Iowa turned out in force for Trump. He not only beat Joe Biden decisively in a state that opinion polls consistently predicted would be close, but the president significantly increased his vote in counties that put Barack Obama into the White House and which then flipped to Trump.

“Out here, I think 2016 was less a vote for Trump than a vote against Hillary,” said Shaffer. “A lot of people were not sold on her and so they were willing to roll the dice on Trump. Now they are Trump people. They believe in him. They came out in force.”

Shaffer said Trump commands a loyalty among a core of rural voters that he has not seen for a president before, and that it isn’t going away even when he leaves office.

Read more of Chris McGreal’s report here: ‘He made a connection’: how did Trump manage to boost his support among rural Americans?

Donald Trump is currently spreading more paranoid conspiracy theories about the election on social media, by retweeting charts that show that mail-in ballots were counted after election day. This is an extremely normal part of the election process, and has been for many years.

Indeed, it is worth reminding ourselves that in several of the crucial battleground states, Republican legislators took action to ensure that – unlike, in say, Texas or Florida – mail-in ballots were not allowed to be processed before election day. That is the simple reason that counts in Texas and Florida were much faster than those in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

I mentioned earlier that today Donald Trump is planning to meet Michigan’s state legislative leaders, Senate majority leader Mike Shirkey and House speaker Lee Chatfield, where he is expected to pressure them to find a way to award the state’s 16 electoral college votes to him, rather than Joe Biden who won the vote.

Also in the president’s diary today, early morning he is taking part in a virtual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting at, and later will be delivering remarks on lower prescription drug prices at 2.30pm.

He’s also up and tweeting and plugging Congressman Matt Gaetz’s book “Firebrand: Dispatches from the front lines of the MAGA revolution”, which I’m sure is a cracking read.

Vice president Mike Pence is in Georgia, and will be speaking at campaign rallies for Republican Senate candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Canton at 1.05pm and Gainesville at 4.10pm.

President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris meet House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer in Wilmington. Pelosi is also expected to give her own press conference this morning.

And there’s a couple of hearings worth keeping an eye on: House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the US military mission in Afghanistan at 9am, and Internal Revenue Service commissioner Charles Rettig testifies before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight at 10am.

What happens next after that Pfizer move for emergency permission to start deploying its Covid-19 vaccine? Here’s what Associated Press say:

The public’s first chance to see how strong the evidence really is will come in early December at a public meeting of the FDA’s scientific advisers.

So far, what’s known is based only on statements from Pfizer and BioNTech. Of 170 infections detected to date, only eight were among people who’d received the actual vaccine and the rest had the placebo shot.

On the safety side, the companies cites results from 38,000 study participants who’ve been tracked for two months after their second dose. That’s a milestone FDA set because historically, vaccine side effects don’t crop up later than that.

A few days before the meeting, the FDA will release its own internal analysis. That sets the stage for the advisers’ daylong debate about any signs of safety concerns and how the new vaccine technology works before rendering a verdict.

They’ll recommend not just whether FDA should allow broader use of the vaccine generally but if so, for whom. For example, is there enough proof the vaccine works as well for older, sicker adults as for younger, healthier people?

There’s still no guarantee. “We don’t know what that vote’s going to be,” said former FDA vaccine chief Norman Baylor.

If there’s an emergency green light, “that vaccine is still deemed investigational. It’s not approved yet,” Dr. Marion Gruber, chief of FDA’s vaccine office, told the National Academy of Medicine this week.

There will be a lot of unknowns. For example, the 95% protection rate is based on people who developed symptoms and then were tested for the virus. Can the vaccinated get infected but have no symptoms, able to spread the virus? How long does protection last?

And at least for now, pregnant women won’t qualify because they weren’t studied. Pfizer only recently began testing the vaccine in children as young as 12. A decision on Pfizer’s vaccine won’t affect other Covid-19 vaccine candidates in the pipeline, which will be judged separately.

It is another government group – advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – who decides who is first in line for the initially scarce doses. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he hopes that decision can be made at the same time as FDA’s.

Pfizer says it is asking US regulators to allow emergency use of its Covid-19 vaccine

A quick snap from Associated Press here – Pfizer has said it is asking US regulators to allow emergency use of its Covid-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month. and eventually an end to the pandemic – but not until after a long, hard winter.

The action comes days after Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced that its vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe Covid-19 disease in a large, ongoing study.

The companies said that protection plus a good safety record means the vaccine should qualify for emergency use authorization, something the Food and Drug Administration can grant before the final testing is fully complete.

In addition to today’s FDA submission, they have already started “rolling” applications in Europe and the UK.

Michigan Gov. Whitmer describes Republican leaders’ visit to White House over election ‘an embarrassment to the state’

Today’s meeting between Donald Trump and Republican leaders from Michigan has been described as “an embarrassment to the state” by Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Whitmer, who was subject to a right-wing kidnap plot earlier this year over her attempts to curb coronavirus in Michigan, added “It’s incredibly dangerous that they are even entertaining the conversation.”

Sidney Powell, one of Trump’s lawyers, told Fox Business television on Thursday “The entire election, frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned, and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump,”

Trump’s focus on Michigan and Pennsylvania for now, but even if both those states ignored the popular vote and their electors pledged for Trump, he would need another state to overturn its vote to surpass Biden

Michigan’s state legislative leaders, Senate majority leader Mike Shirkey and House speaker Lee Chatfield, both Republicans, will visit the White House at Trump’s request, according to a source in Michigan.

The two lawmakers will listen to what the president has to say, the source told Reuters. Shirkey had told a Michigan news outlet earlier this week that the legislature would not appoint a second slate of electors.

Is there any route for Donald Trump to retain the White House? Yesterday he was claiming his lawyers would outline a viable path to victory.

Tom Hals at Reuters writes that Trump’s latest strategy for attacking the legitimacy of the US election appears to be focusing on persuading Republican state lawmakers to overturn the vote in states won by his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

To succeed, Trump would have to surmount considerable legal hurdles, overcome public condemnation and sway lawmakers in at least three states to break with democratic norms.

Most election scholars said the odds of Trump ultimately being named president are exceedingly slim. But the laws have never been tested like this before.

Biden won by a comfortable 306-232 margin in Electoral College votes. The process for formalizing his win, however, will take place in the coming weeks. Electors are party loyalists who pledge to back the candidate who won the popular vote in their state and are allotted among the states based roughly on population.

Typically, a state certifies a Republican or Democratic slate of electors based on which candidate won the popular vote. Electors convene on 14 December to formally select the president, and the results are sent to Congress to tally on 6 January. On 20 January, one presidential term ends and the next begins.

Delaying or blocking the state certification process could potentially clear the way for legislators to appoint electors pledged to Trump, even in states where Biden won the popular vote.

Usually, the secretary of state or governor certifies the vote. State legislators generally have no role in the process. But Trump supporters have seized on language in the US Constitution that says each state shall appoint electors “in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.”

“Everyone should remember the central role of state legislatures in picking a president,” Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the US House of Representatives, said on Twitter on Saturday. “The Legislature, not the Secretary of State, Governor or court.”

The Trump campaign took this argument a step further on Wednesday, claiming in a lawsuit that the administration of Pennsylvania’s election was so flawed that state officials had usurped the power of the legislature to set election rules.

The campaign’s proposed fix: let the state’s Republican-controlled legislature appoint electors and declare Trump the victor of the state, even though Biden won the popular vote.

This is a difficult legal argument since the campaign is asking a court to override the vote of millions of Americans because of relatively minor alleged voting irregularities.

An obscure federal law provides another opening for lawmakers to appoint Trump electors in states won by Biden. That law allows state legislators to appoint electors if voters “failed to make a choice” on election day. Legal experts said legislators could pass a resolution saying the election was so marred by irregularities that the outcome could not be determined and then proceed to appoint their own electors.

This is particularly true in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where the legislature is controlled by Republicans while the governors and secretaries of state are Democrats. That would swing 46 electoral college votes away from Biden and to Trump, pushing the incumbent over the 270 vote victory threshold.

“There’s a lot of reasons to think that’s illegal and improper and politically infeasible,” said Paul Smith, a professor at Georgetown and a vice president for the Campaign Legal Center, a voter advocacy group. “But some people are talking about it for sure.”

“That’s what is so dangerous about this entire process which has been predicated on norms for so long that it has disguised just how rickety the system is if someone wanted to play this kind of hardball,” said David Daley of FairVote, which advocates for election reforms.

Rudy Giuliani’s stock as a lawyer has not exactly risen over the last couple of the weeks. First there was the Four Seasons Total Landscaping debacle, then a humiliating appearance this week in a Pennsylvania court, and yesterday his hair dye appeared to be running down his face as he made a series of further baseless claims and cited conspiracy theories about the election.


As several commentators have noted though, it may be an inept attempt to overturn the US election result and keep Donald Trump in the White House, but it is nevertheless an attempt to overturn the US election result – and one of the major parties plus a whole host of Senators and House representatives are going along with it. For whatever motive that may be, it is still a shocking moment in US politics.

Yesterday, for example, the official Republican Twitter account was putting out false statements that “President Trump won by a landslide”.

It is just not true. Joe Biden has 79,685,131 votes to Donald Trump’s 73,701,667. That’s a lead of just under 6 million votes. In terms of the electoral college, Biden currently looks set for 306 votes to 232.

Even, in the unlikely event that Trump can find some legal means to overturn that electoral college lead and bag another 38 votes, it would not by any stretch of the imagination be “a landslide”. The Republican party is simply putting out lies about the election on its social media channels.


Wisconsin recount to begin amid Covid surge – unlikely to make any difference to Biden victory

Wisconsin has another battle on its hands as well as fighting coronavirus. Today the state has to begin recounting election votes at the insistence of defeated president Donald Trump. It will do so using face masks, protective equipment and perspex screens to protect workers.

Workers place protective plastic sheets on tables in preparation for a recount of ballots in Milwaukee.
Workers place protective plastic sheets on tables in preparation for a recount of ballots in Milwaukee.
Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

It’s a ridiculously longshot bid by Trump who has paid a required $3 million fee to try and undo Joe Biden’s victory.

Trump, who lost by more than 20,600 votes in Wisconsin, has alleged “mistakes and fraud” in the two counties that will recount, though he has produced no evidence to back up his claims.

Biden’s victory over Trump was fueled by Democrat-heavy Milwaukee and Dane counties, making them targets for Trump to try and discount votes. The counties are home to Milwaukee, the state’s most racially diverse city, and Madison, the state capitol. Combined, Biden won the counties by a more than 2-to-1 margin, report the Associated Press.

The recount will bring together hundreds of people at a time when the coronavirus is ravaging Wisconsin. One in every 118 people in Wisconsin has tested positive in the past week. To help reduce the risk, both counties are renting convention centers so that workers and observers can be properly distanced.

A table chart sits before Milwaukee County Clerk George L. Christenson during preparations for the recount.
A table chart sits before Milwaukee County Clerk George L. Christenson during preparations for the recount.
Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

Both counties plan to use machines to recount the ballots, although Dane County says it will do some hand-counting from randomly selected precincts for an audit, as required by law.

Will this change things? Not likely. Wisconsin’s 2016 recount, which was statewide and was requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, barely moved the needle on any candidate’s totals, netting Trump an additional 131 votes.

More broadly, there’s no precedent of a recount changing the outcome of an election in which the margin between the top two candidates is as large as the one Biden holds over Trump.

Police stand guard over ballots from the election being stored in the Wisconsin Center before the start of the recount.
Police stand guard over ballots from the election being stored in the Wisconsin Center before the start of the recount.
Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The recounts must be finished by a 1 December deadline. Milwaukee County expects to be finished the day before Thanksgiving. Dane County is planning 16-hour days but hasn’t given expected completion date.


Faced with hospitals running out of beds and staff to treat the rising number of COVID-19 patients, the leader of the Wisconsin Hospital Association pleaded Thursday with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and state legislative leaders to come together immediately to fight the virus before the current crisis becomes a catastrophe.

“Wisconsin faces a public health crisis the likes of which we have not experienced in three generations,” Hospital Association President Eric Borgerding wrote in the letter. “A crisis of this magnitude caused by a virus that is so clearly raging across all of Wisconsin demands a unified and substantial response. Your joint leadership is critical to improve this situation, allowing everyone to get back to our way of life sooner.”

According to Associated Press reports, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who has sued Evers over his orders to slow the virus and who has not put forth any specific alternative plan of his own, said in a statement that he agreed more needed to be done to fight the virus.

“I join the call for unity in Wisconsin and hope my Senate colleagues and the governor can join me in putting aside partisan differences to find bipartisan answers,” Vos said.

Republicans have fought Evers in court over his attempts to curb the virus spread, including his “safer at home” order that was struck down by the conservative-controlled Wisconsin supreme court in May and his current mask mandate that the court heard arguments over on Monday.

As of Thursday, there were 2,104 coronavirus patients hospitalized across the state, down slightly from an all-time high recorded Tuesday.

Yesterday’s US coronavirus figures set two bleak landmarks. The 187,833 new cases recorded by the Johns Hopkins University tracker mark the highest single daily rise since the pandemic started. And with 2,015 deaths recorded, it is the first time since mid-April that over 2,000 people have died in a single day.

CNN report that experts warn the coming weeks will likely be brutal and the pandemic’s death toll will keep climbing.

“We expect daily deaths to reach a peak of over 2,500 a day in mid-January,” the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation modeling team wrote on Thursday.

The group also hiked its Covid-19 death forecast considerably, now predicting a total of 471,000 American deaths by March 1 — up more than 30,000 since their last projection about a week ago.

On Thursday, the US reported a new high of more than 80,600 hospitalized patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

“It’s sometimes very frustrating because we know what works,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday night. “If we had everybody pulling together as a country, doing the fundamental things that we’ve been speaking out, the mask wearing, the keeping the distance, the avoiding congregate settings and crowds, doing things outdoors … that’s not big stuff. It’s easy to do.”

The medium term prospects do not look good. As the New York Times reports:

Even if the current seven-day national average of about 166,000 daily cases were to hold until the end of the year, nearly seven million more people would contract Covid-19. That is roughly equivalent to about 2 percent of the population.

The eight states showing the steepest rises over the last 14 days are North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Montana.



Women have long been front and center when it comes to making things happen on the Navajo Nation. But never has that role been so apparent – or so perilous – as during the pandemic. Ever since the coronavirus arrived on the 27,000-square-mile reservation, women in this matriarchal society have been putting themselves at risk, taking on ever more responsibilities, culturally and in everyday life reports Sunnie R Clahchischiligi for us today.

“The sacred side of women has changed with Covid,” said Charles-Newton, 43, one of three female delegates on the Navajo Nation Council. Girls used to learn traditions through celebrations, face-to-face talks with elders and communal gatherings. But the pandemic has squelched those opportunities. “It’s taking away a part of the culture.”

Across every sphere – from economics and education to health – the impacts of Covid-19 are exacerbated for women and girls “simply by virtue of their sex”, the United Nations has concluded. Women are more exposed to the virus because they’re more likely to be frontline workers, such as nurses and healthcare staff. They hold more than 77% of jobs in US hospitals, healthcare facilities and nursing homes, US labor statistics show. They hold essential jobs, albeit low-paying ones, in groceries and retail stores.

On the Navajo Nation, women are even more vulnerable to the virus, as a result of poor healthcare, poverty, trauma and high rates of illnesses like diabetes.

Navajo women not only hold high-exposure jobs but also are keepers of the cultural flame – and caretakers of the many people around them who have tested positive for the virus. When they become sick or die, the whole culture suffers.

Read more of Sunnie R Clahchischiligi’s report here: Women have long been the leaders in Navajo culture. Now they’re steering the fight against Covid

Dr Anthony Fauci spoke at the coronavirus task force press briefing yesterday, marking his first appearance at the White House podium in months. Fauci has repeatedly displeased the Trump administration by contradicting the president’s upbeat message on Covid with a more sober facts-driven assessment of the state of the pandemic in the US. Prior to his election defeat, Trump threatened to fire him.

Yesterday the infectious disease expert moved to allay concerns about the speed with which the coronavirus vaccine has been developed, and implored Americans to continue basic public health measures until it is rolled out.


‘Wear those damn masks’ says San Diego sheriff as California imposes nighttime Covid curfew

California is imposing a nighttime curfew as its coronavirus figures soar. However it will lean heavily on voluntary compliance – and sheriffs of some counties have already said they won’t enforce it.

What officials are calling a limited stay-at-home order requires people who are not on essential errands to stay home from 10pm to 5am starting Saturday. The order will last until 21 December but could be extended if disease trends don’t improve, report the Associated Press.

The curfew covers 94% of the state’s nearly 40 million residents. It’s in place in 41 of the state’s 58 counties that have the most significant increases in virus cases and face the most severe restrictions under California’s four-tier system for reopening the economy.

It is less strict than the near-total ban on nonessential business and travel that Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed in March and which he credited with flattening the rate of Covid-19 cases, despite a summer peak.

But California is now seeing surges in virus infections, hospitalizations and deaths that threaten to overwhelm its health care system.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s top health officer, said late at night is the time most likely to involve social activities that bring increased risk of infection, particularly if people drink and let down their guard on precautions such as wearing masks and staying a safe distance apart. Hospitalizations are up nearly 64% in two weeks.

“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic, and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said in a statement Thursday.

The state recorded 11,478 cases Thursday, its highest total since mid-August. About 12% of positive cases end up requiring hospitalizations, Ghaly said, meaning that based on just the one-day total about 1,200 people will be in hospitals in the next two to three weeks.

“There is no single culprit”, Ghaly said, though he added that “This idea of Covid fatigue, Covid resentment is an important piece,” Ghaly said.

Sheriffs in counties including El Dorado, Orange and Sacramento were quick to say they would not enforce the curfew. However, in San Diego County, the state’s second-most populous with 3.3 million residents, Sheriff Bill Gore on Thursday announced a “full-time law enforcement presence” to get more businesses to comply with California’s tightening coronavirus restrictions, joining one of the most aggressive enforcement efforts in the state.

He also urged people to follow safety behaviors. “Bottom line is wear those damn masks out there, socially distance, and the sooner we do that, the sooner we’re going to get through this crisis,” Gore said.

When Tuajuanda Jordan first saw the newest addition to her college campus – a haunting memorial to enslaved people who lived, labored and died there – she stood and wept.

“So it’s a good thing that there weren’t many people around,” the president of St Mary’s College of Maryland says. “There was a photographer who has a photo of me and she’s behind me and my reflection is coming out of the steel and you can see the anguish on my face. It does its job.”

With the dedication of the Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland set for Saturday, one small public liberal arts college will be making a big statement about confronting its physical association with slavery. It will also be throwing down the gauntlet to other educational institutions to grapple with their own uncomfortable legacies.

Founded in 1840, St Mary’s has about 1,500 undergraduates, of whom an estimated 86% are white. The faculty is more than 90% white, though slowly diversifying. The college is located in a conservative and rural pocket of Maryland, a state that has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992.

“There are lots of people around here that have the Confederate flag and are very proud of that,” said Jordan, 60, who is African American. “St Mary’s county is a red dot in a blue state and our college is the blue dot within the red dot within the blue state. When things come up, there is tension sometimes between the folks in the area and our students.”

It was the summer of 2016 when the college began archaeological digging required before building a new sports stadium and uncovered artifacts associated with enslaved people’s quarters. Jordan immediately understood the significance. She asked focus groups of students, faculty, staff and community members to decide how best to honour the the enslaved people who lived in St Mary’s City between 1750 and 1815.

Last year the design firm RE:site was selected to build a memorial that would recast history from the perspective of those enslaved, instead of the land owners. The sculpture recreates an enslaved people’s cabin and incorporates “erasure poetry” culled from advertisements and other historical documents. At night, the lighting inside the memorial beams the poetry on to the surrounding landscape.

Read more of David Smith’s report here: Maryland college dedicates new memorial in effort to confront legacy of slavery

In that MSNBC interview last night, former president Barack Obama also had some words to say on the unique challenge facing vice president-elect Kamala Harris as she prepares for her new role.

I mean she’s gone through a twofer, right? I think the one thing we’ve learned over the last several years is that the challenges that women face as women are profound, just as race is a profound issue in our society, and women of color have to deal with both. The good news is, is that Kamala is accustomed to it. She’s been a first before. She’s been on the national stage. And my advice to her is actually really similar to my advice to Joe, which is, surround yourself with great people. Stay open to ideas wherever they come from. Reach out to the other side, but understand that you may not always get the cooperation you want, but you keep on trying just to make sure that you can – when you go to bed at night – be confident that you’re doing everything you can to try to unify the country. And then follow your instincts and follow your values.


While on the subject of the Democratic party progressives, that’s the topic for our Politics Weekly Extra podcast this week. Jonathan Freedland and Maanvi Singh discuss how Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will need to think long and hard as they embark on a bid to unify the moderates of the Democratic party and those further left.

It’s a familiar conundrum for parties on the left and centre-left all over the world. If you delight young, educated voters in the cities, how can you avoid alienating your traditional supporters, including blue-collar workers in the towns?

You can listen to it here: Can Biden and Harris unite the Democrats?: Politics Weekly Extra podcast



While Donald Trump continues to deny that he lost, Joe Biden is getting on with the task of putting together his teams. But Steve Peoples warns for the Associated Press that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are at risk of being excluded from the senior ranks of president-elect’s administration as the incoming president balances the demands of his party’s progressive base against the political realities of a narrowly divided Senate.

He writes that the senators remain interested in serving in Biden’s Cabinet, but even some of their allies recognize they face major political hurdles getting there. Sensing disappointment, progressive leaders have reluctantly begun to express support for less-controversial alternatives.

Warren, whose political career has been defined by efforts to diminish the power of big banks, is the progressive movement’s top choice for Treasury secretary. Sanders reiterated his desire to serve as Biden’s Labor secretary on Thursday, describing himself as particularly well-suited “to focus on the many crises facing working families in this country.”

Whether he is included in Biden’s cabinet or not, Sanders warned Biden not to freeze out progressives as he shapes his government.

“It seems to me pretty clear that progressive views need to be expressed within a Biden administration,” Sanders told the Associated Press. “It would be, for example, enormously insulting if Biden put together a ‘team of rivals’ and there’s some discussion that that’s what he intends to do which might include Republicans and conservative Democrats but which ignored the progressive community. I think that would be very, very unfortunate.”

The scrutiny on Biden’s staffing decisions reflects the tremendous pressure the president-elect faces. Biden’s transition team has hired Analilia Mejia, a Sanders’ adviser who served as his presidential campaign’s political director, to work on progressive outreach.

Biden told reporters Thursday that he had finalized his choice for Treasury secretary and said the pick would be “someone who will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic party, moderates and progressives.” He sidestepped a specific question about Sanders joining his Cabinet as he walked off stage.

Likely facing a divided Congress that could push back against the vast majority of his agenda, Biden is eyeing a series of executive actions to be implemented by his Cabinet that would force significant changes in health care, banking, environmental regulation, immigration and foreign policy, among other major issues.

And while progressives have not given up hope that one or both might still be nominated, they acknowledged the possibility even the likelihood that the high-profile liberal senators would remain in the Senate.

“It’s safe to say that Elizabeth Warren has definitely earned the trust and the ear of Joe Biden, and will surely have an influential role in agenda setting going forward whether it’s being a very powerful senator or a more formal role in his administration,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, among Warren’s most vocal supporters in Washington. “No matter what, she’ll be powerful when it comes to agenda setting for the Democratic Party.”

Here’s what the New York Times had to say in the early hours about Donald Trump’s renewed assault on the election results in Michigan. At present, Joe Biden leads the state by around 155,000 votes, and has 50.6% of the vote compared to Trump’s 47.8% – it has 16 electoral college votes at stake.

For Trump and his Republican allies, Michigan has become the prime target in their campaign to subvert the will of voters backing Biden. Trump called at least one GOP elections official in the Detroit area this week after she voted to certify Biden’s overwhelming victory there, and he is now set to meet with legislators ahead of Michigan’s deadline on Monday to certify the results.

The president has also asked aides what Republican officials he could call in other battleground states in his effort to prevent the certification of results that would formalize his loss to Biden. Trump allies appear to be pursuing a highly dubious legal theory that if the results are not certified, Republican legislatures could intervene and appoint pro-Trump electors in states Biden won who would support the president when the Electoral College meets on 14 December.

The Republican effort to undo the popular vote is all but certain to fail, as even many Trump allies concede, and it has already suffered near-total defeats in courts in multiple states, including losses on Thursday when judges in Georgia and Arizona ruled against the Trump campaign and its allies. The president suffered another electoral blow on Thursday when Georgia announced the completion of a full recount, reaffirming Biden’s victory there.


Former president Barack Obama was continuing his media rounds to promote his new memoir last night, and he was on MSNBC. He had this to say about Trump’s attempt to defy his defeat:

Look, Joe Biden’s going to be the next president of the United States. Kamala Harris will be the next vice president. I have been troubled, like I think every American, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat or Independent, should be troubled, when you start having attempts to block, negate, overturn the people’s vote when there’s no actual evidence that there was anything illegal or fraudulent taking place. These are just bald assertions. They’ve been repeatedly rejected by the courts. And I think I’m less surprised by Donald Trump doing this. You know, he has shown only a flimsy relationship to the truth.

I’m more troubled that you’re seeing a lot of Republican officials go along with it, not because they actually believe it, but because they feel intimidated by it, and the degree to which you’ve seen some news outlets that cater to the right and the conservative viewpoint somehow try to prop up these bogus claims.

Obama’s A Promised Land sold almost 890,000 copies on its first day of release.

New York’s AG sends subpoena to Trump Organization related to fees paid to Ivanka – reports

New York’s attorney general has sent a subpoena to the Trump Organization for records related to consulting fees paid to Ivanka Trump as part of a broad civil investigation into the president’s business dealings, a law enforcement official said Thursday.

The New York Times, citing anonymous sources, reported that a similar subpoena was sent to President Donald Trump’s company by the Manhattan district attorney, which is conducting a parallel criminal probe.

The records requests followed recent reporting in The Times, based partly on two decades’ worth of Trump’s tax filings, that the president had reduced his company’s income tax liability over several years by deducting $26 million in consulting fees as a business expense.

Ivanka Trump waits for a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in one of the few public appearances made by president Trump with his family since his election defeat.
Ivanka Trump waits for a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in one of the few public appearances made by president Trump with his family since his election defeat.
Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Records strongly suggested, The Times reported, that $747,622 of those fees had been paid to Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, through a company she owned at a time when she was also a Trump Organization executive.

If true, that wouldn’t necessarily pose a problem for Ivanka Trump herself, as long as she paid income tax on the consulting payments, which she reported publicly.

It could, however, raise questions about whether the Trump Organization’s related tax deductions were allowable. The Internal Revenue Service has, in the past, pursued civil penalties over large consulting fee write-offs it found were made to dodge tax liability.

The Times wrote that there was no indication Ivanka Trump is a target of either the state’s or the city’s investigation.

“This is harassment pure and simple,” she said on Twitter late Thursday. “This ‘inquiry’ by NYC democrats is 100% motivated by politics, publicity and rage. They know very well that there’s nothing here and that there was no tax benefit whatsoever. These politicians are simply ruthless.”

James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., both Democrats, are both conducting wide-ranging inquiries into Trump’s business affairs, according to the Associated Press.

Both investigations are at least partly related to allegations, made in news reports and by President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, that Trump had a history of inflating the value of some assets to impress banks and business partners, but lowering that value when seeking tax benefits.

Vance has been involved in a long court battle seeking access to Trump’s tax filings as part of the investigation, which eventually ended up in the US supreme court.

Here’s a re-cap of president-elect Joe Biden saying Donald Trump will go down in history as one of the ‘most irresponsible presidents in American history’, labelling his challenges to the election results ‘incredibly damaging’.

Biden said he was not concerned that Trump’s refusal to concede the election would prevent a transfer of power, but added it ‘sends a horrible message about who we are as a country’.


Welcome to our live coverage of US politics for Friday. Donald Trump and his campaign continue to mount legal challenges to Joe Biden’s overwhelming election victory. The preisdent has taken the unprecedented step of inviting Republican state leaders in Michigan to the White House to pressure them not to certify the state’s election results. All this against a backdrop of the number of coronavirus cases in the US and the death rate continues to grimly rise.

  • Georgia has completed its hand recount and found that Joe Biden remains the winner. Biden defeated Donald Trump by about 0.2 percentage points in the state, and has an insurmountable lead of 306 to 232 in the electoral college. He will become president on 20 January 2021.
  • Biden offered his condolences to the loved ones of the 250,000 Americans who have now died of coronavirus. Speaking at a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, the president-elect warned, “The country is still in crisis. And there’s a dark winter still ahead.”
  • Yesterday the US recorded its highest level of new daily cases of Covid – 187,833. There were 2,015 deaths, the first time the daily count has been over 2,000 since April.
  • The Trump campaign continued to push false claims of voter fraud, as states move toward certifying their election results. The president’s lawyers lashed out against the journalists, accusing them of “making light” of their false claims.
  • A Republican canvasser in Wayne county confirmed that Donald Trump called her on Tuesday night, after she and a colleague briefly tried to block the county from certifying its election results.
  • Wisconsin will begin a recount today in the state’s two biggest and most Democratic counties. It has cost the Trump campaign a $3m fee, and they are attempting to disqualify enough votes to claw back Biden’s 20,600 lead in the state.
  • Another 742,000 Americans filed claims for new unemployment benefits last week, marking a slight increase from a week earlier. The news comes a month before 12 million Americans are expected to lose their unemployment benefits unless Congress can pass another coronavirus relief bill.
  • Overnight the federal government carried out the latest execution since re-starting them earlier in the year. Orlando Hall, 49, was pronounced dead at 11:47pm after being given a lethal injection. He was the eighth federal inmate put to death this year after a nearly two-decade hiatus. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Coronavirus live news: Russia records worst day for new infections; India passes 9m cases


Powered by article titled “Coronavirus live news: Russia records worst day for new infections; India passes 9m cases” was written by Kevin Rawlinson (now); Martin Farrer and Helen Sullivan (earlier), for on Friday 20th November 2020 12.09 UTC


Here’s a summary of the most recent developments:

  • The drugmaker Pfizer applied to US health regulators for emergency use authorisation (EUA) of its vaccine. It came just days after the firm and its German partner BioNTech SE reported final trial results that showed the vaccine was 95% effective with no major safety concerns.
  • Russia recorded its greatest daily caseload increase since the pandemic began. Moscow said it had confirmed 24,318 new infections, bringing the cumulative national tally to 2,039,926.
  • India has recorded more than 9 million coronavirus cases. The country added , 45,882 new infections in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, and now has 9,004,365 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker site, and 132,162 deaths.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci, the US diseases expert, is back. After months of sparring with Donald Trump, the scientist spoke at a White House briefing again as the outbreak continues to spread rapidly. It is the only country with more cases than India, with the national total now on 11.72 million with 250,000 dead. California has imposed a curfew on most of its 40 million residents.
  • Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in Covid-19 deaths Thursday, becoming only the fourth country — behind the United States, Brazil and India — to do so.
  • The EU will pay more than $10bn to secure 425m doses of vaccines being developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and CureVac, Reuters reports. The bloc has agreed to pay €15.50 euros ($18.34) per dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and slightly less for the Curevac treatment.
  • Almost a million people in China have taken an emergency Covid-19 vaccine that is still in its testing phase, the company Sinopharm has said.
  • Remdesivir should not be used in hospitals to treat Covid-19, the WHO has warned. Donald Trump tried to push the treatment and took it himself when he contracted Covid-19. But the WHO says there is no evidence it works.
  • South Australia’s six-day lockdown is being cut short three days early at midnight on Saturday after it emerged that a man infected with Covid-19 had lied to contact trace investigators.

Vaccine manufacturer seeks authorisation in US

Pfizer has applied to US health regulators for emergency use authorisation (EUA) of its vaccine; a major step toward providing protection for pandemic-weary Americans.

The application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) comes just days after Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE reported final trial results that showed the vaccine was 95% effective in preventing Covid-19 with no major safety concerns.


Germany has managed to stabilise the number of infections but has not yet reversed the trend, a government spokesman has said.

The number of infections still needs to fall significantly, he added ahead of another meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel with state premiers over the issue on Wednesday. The government’s goal is to reduce infections to 50 cases per 100,000 people over seven days while the incidence now is around 140 cases, he said.

With the latest daily increase in case the worst such figure seen in the country since the outbreak began, pressure is rising on Germany’s 16 federal states to implement stricter restrictions.

The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases recorded 23,648 confirmed new cases and 260 new deaths, which now stand at 13,630, an increase of more than a third in four weeks.

The mass-selling Bild newspaper has reported that Merkel wants any new measures to remain in place until January instead of the weekly approach favoured by state leaders. Bild quoted Merkel as telling members of her conservatives that she wanted “proposals to be made, not only for two weeks but rather with a perspective until January”.

Poland has found 18 cases among mink farm workers as it continues tests among the animals, but does not believe the workers were infected by the animals, sanitary and veterinary authorities said.

Poland, which is a major producer of mink fur, started testing among its farmed minks and checks among the workers earlier this month after a mutated virus was detected in farmed minks in Denmark, leading to a nationwide cull there.

While the authorities have not yet received results of the animal tests, it said Covid-19 cases were confirmed among people connected with the farms.

The Chief Sanitary Inspectorate said there were 18 cases of infections among farm workers that were unrelated to each other. “Currently, there is no basis to conclude that minks were the source of infection for these 18 cases,” it told Reuters.

The inspectorate said it had analysed all infections among farm workers and their families since the beginning of the pandemic. Veterinary authorities said earlier this month they had ordered tests in 18 farms in four administrative regions of the country. Industry groups objected strongly to the tests, worrying they could lead to a nationwide cull.

Poland is one of the world’s top producers of mink fur, with 354 farms, containing around 6 million minks.

Coronavirus infections rose by 4,946 in a day, data from Swiss health authorities shows.

The total number of confirmed cases in Switzerland and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein increased to 290,601 and the death toll rose by 111 to 3,575, while 252 new hospitalisations added to the strain on the health care system.

A substantial part of the Spanish population will be vaccinated in the first half of 2021, the country’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez has claimed.

He said the government will unveil a vaccination plan next Tuesday but did not give any details. The government has created a special committee to establish who would be vaccinated first when a vaccine is available.

Ukraine hopes to receive 8 million doses of a vaccine in the first half of next year, its health minister has said, as the country reports 14,575 new infections in the last 24 hours; passing the previous worst toll of 13,357, which was recorded only the day before.

The tally climbed to 598,085 cases, with 10,598 deaths, Maksym Stepanov said.

The daily infection tally began rising in September and has been consistently high ever since, spurring the government to impose a national lockdown at weekends.

The lockdown means closing or restricting most businesses except essential services such as grocery shops, pharmacies, hospitals and transport.

Stepanov told Reuters on Wednesday that Ukraine faced a “very severe” period but will not tighten lockdown restrictions because measures taken last week should stabilise the situation.

Ukraine participates in the global Covax facility, which has been set up to provide vaccines to poorer countries. Stepanov said Ukraine hoped to receive enough vaccine for up to 20% of its population.

This is 8 million doses. By 7 December, we must sign all technical documents and expect that in the first half of 2021 we will already start receiving the vaccine.

He said the first tranche could total 1.2 million doses and it would be used primarily for groups most at risk. He gave no further details.

Stepanov said Ukraine had also held talks with all possible vaccine manufacturers and suppliers and already issued budget funds for the purchases.

The developers of Russia’s second vaccine have said mass production will begin in 2021.

A recent surge in cases has taken Russia past the 2 million threshold, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France in total infections. Authorities have resisted imposing lockdowns across the country as they did earlier this year, however, preferring targeted, regional measures.

Russia said its first vaccine, named Sputnik V, was 92% effective, according to interim trial results. Around 500,000 doses are due to be produced in November. Moscow approved it after only limited safety testing and without the support of the World Health Organization.

Post-registration trials for the second vaccine, EpiVacCorona, being developed by Siberia’s Vector institute, are underway. The institute said 15,000 doses of the vaccine have been issued and, by the end of the year, 50,000 doses would be released.

Vector’s vaccine centre said all volunteers injected with EpiVacCorona had developed antibodies, the Interfax news agency reported without specifying the number of people involved.

The vaccine’s effectiveness can only be assessed when preliminary or final results of the post-registration trials are released, Vector said.

Hong Kong has reported a spike in daily cases to 26 two days before an arrangement with Singapore to allow a limited number of passengers to fly both ways without having to go through quarantine kicks in.

Hong Kong has been spared the dramatic escalations seen in other major cities, but the rise was big by its standards, with daily cases having mostly been in the single-digits or low double digits in recent weeks.

Of the 26 confirmed cases, 21 were local transmissions, prompting the health secretary Sophia Chan to say the Chinese-ruled city “probably entered” a fourth wave of infections.

Hong Kong health authorities said another 40 people were likely to be infected, pending final confirmation.

It comes as a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is due to begin on Sunday, Reuters reports.

Under the arrangement, people would be allowed to travel between the two cities without observing quarantine but must take a test before departure and upon arrival. There would be no restrictions on the purpose of travel.

Travellers would also have to take designated flights, with only Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines having been selected to operate these flights for now. If the situation deteriorated in either city the travel bubble would be suspended, the two governments have said.

Hong Kong has recorded around 5,500 cases and 108 deaths since the pandemic began.

Public meetings of more than 20 people will be banned in the Helsinki region, Finnish authorities have said.

While Finland’s 14-day average of 58 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants remains Europe’s lowest, public health authorities said the rate was nearly twice as high in the capital region and, therefore, the new restrictions are needed.

The French high-end department store chain Galeries Lafayette, which expects the pandemic to halve its revenue this year, fears foreign tourist flows may not be back to pre-crisis levels before 2024. Its chief executive Nicolas Houze has told BFM Business radio:

This year, our revenue will be cut in half. 2020 will be difficult, 2021 also. We should return to break-even in 2022.

Retailers – particularly those who depend heavily on tourists – have been hit hard by government-enforced lockdowns and restrictions on international travel.

Moreover, some Russian hospitals are experiencing serious drugs shortages and cannot restock because of panic buying, high demand and problems with a new labelling system, officials, distributors and doctors have said.

Russia, which has reported the world’s fifth-highest number of cases, is struggling to cope with a second wave and the healthcare system outside Moscow is close to breaking point, Reuters reports.

Doctors in more than a dozen regions face big shortages of antibiotics, antiviral drugs and other medicines used to treat Covid-9, three local officials and three drugs vendors have told the news agency. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the co-owner of a large pharmaceuticals distributor said:

Head doctors call me every few minutes and beg for medicine. They have nothing to treat patients. And I have nothing for them to deliver.

The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week he was aware there were problems.

We know that there is a shortage in certain regions, this is unacceptable. The government is making very vigorous efforts to prevent this.

The health ministry did not reply to Reuters’ request for comment.

A doctor from the Bashkiria region in south-central Russia told the news agency a hospital in her town was short of antibiotics because of the large influx of patients. She declined to be identified.

Russian doctors use a specific programme with specific drugs to treat Covid-19 patients. It includes the antibiotics Levofloxacin or Azithromycinum, and local antiviral drugs such as umifenovir, documents seen by Reuters show. Those antibiotics and antiviral drugs are now running short, regional officials say.

Russia suffers worst day for new cases

Russia has recorded it worst daily caseload increase, with 24,318 new infections on Friday. That includes 6,902 in the capital Moscow and brings the national tally to 2,039,926.

Authorities also reported 461 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 35,311.

Gilead’s drug remdesivir is not recommended for patients hospitalised with Covid-19, regardless of how ill they are, as there is no evidence it improves survival or reduces the need for ventilation, a World Health Organization panel has said.

The advice is another setback for the firm, which grabbed worldwide attention as a potentially effective treatment in the summer after early trials showed some promise.

At the end of October, Gilead cut its 2020 revenue forecast, citing lower-than-expected demand and difficulty in predicting sales of remdesivir, which is also known as Veklury.

The antiviral is one of only two medicines currently authorised to treat Covid-19 patients across the world, but a large WHO-led trial known as the Solidarity Trial showed last month that it had little or no effect on 28-day mortality or length of hospital stays for patients.

Gilead has questioned the Solidarity Trial’s results.

Veklury is recognised as a standard of care for the treatment of hospitalised patients with Covid-19 in guidelines from numerous credible national organisations.

We are disappointed the WHO guidelines appear to ignore this evidence at a time when cases are dramatically increasing around the world and doctors are relying on Veklury as the first and only approved antiviral treatment for patients with Covid-19.

The WHO’s Guideline Development Group (GDG) panel said its recommendation was based on an evidence review that included data from four international randomised trials involving more than 7,000 patients hospitalised with Covid-19.

After reviewing the evidence, the panel said it concluded that remdesivir, which has to be given intravenously and is therefore costly and complex to administer, has no meaningful effect on death rates or other important outcomes for patients.


There are signs that the UK’s caseload curve is starting to flatten as a result of the lockdown, its health secretary Matt Hancock has said, paving the way for a Christmas period with less stringent restrictions. He has told Sky News:

There are encouraging signs that the number of cases is starting to flatten, and that the lockdown that we brought in, earlier this month, is working.

It of course won’t be like a normal Christmas, there will have to be rules in place, but we hope that they’ll allow for a bit more of that normal Christmas that people really look forward to.

Greek authorities are taking over two private health clinics and their staff in northern Greece as the region’s public hospitals are under severe pressure from a surge in cases over the past few weeks, the country’s Health Ministry has said.

According to the Associated Press, the ministry said it requested that beds in private hospitals be made available to the public health system, but that a “mutually acceptable solution was not possible”.

As of Friday, therefore, the ministry is forcibly appropriating the two clinics and their staff in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest urban centre which is at the centre of spiralling cases.

A nationwide lockdown has been imposed until the end of the month, with shops, schools, bars, restaurants and all entertainment venues shut and a 9pm to 5am curfew in place.

Those who wish to leave home can do so only for specific reasons and must notify authorities by telephone text message or carry a self-written permit. There is no limit, however, on how long people can leave their homes for, or how many times per day.

There is evidence that the firebreak in Wales has helped lower the rate of transmission, the country’s first minister Mark Drakeford has said.

It comes as Northern Ireland announces its own firebreak-style lockdown, due to start next week. The Labour politician told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

[Cases] have fallen every day for the last 10 days, so right across Wales we’ve seen the incidence rate going down, we’ve seen the positivity rate going down.

He cited Merthyr Tydfil, one of the worst affected areas before the firebreak, where cases had fallen from 760 per 100,000 to below 260.

Our assessment is that the firebreak has done what we hoped it would do.

Drakeford said there were the “first signs” of the number of people needing hospital beds reducing and bed numbers “stabilising”. He added that he has discussed a possible UK-wide approach to Christmas restrictions with the Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and the other first ministers of the devolved administrations. A further meeting is planned for next week.

We agreed some broad parameters on Wednesday and remitted officials of all four administrations to work now on the detail, so I remain hopeful that it will be possible to reach a four-nation approach to Christmas.

I certainly think that is the right thing to do – if it is achievable – and certainly Wales will be at the table next week looking to find an agreement.

Drakeford said an agreement on permitting travel across the UK during the Christmas season was “top of the list of things to agree”, even if a wider agreement was not possible.

I really do hope we can have a common approach to travel. It is very important for people in Wales, so many families here will have families in England and elsewhere and will be hoping to have visits from family members who live outside Wales. On travel, I am more hopeful than I was even on other aspects of our discussion.

Irinej, who has died aged 90, was a conservative who wielded major political influence. He had been diagnosed with the virus on 4 November and had been in a military hospital in the capital Belgrade since then.

He tested positive three days after attending the funeral of Metropolitan Amfilohije, the most senior cleric of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, who also died from Covid-19.

I was honored to know you. People like you never depart,” Vucic wrote on his Instagram account under a black and white photo of Irinej.

The Patriarch’s condition aggravated early on Thursday when he was intubated, his medical team said.

Irinej became the 45th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 2010. The church has around 12 million followers, mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia, and dioceses in the United States, Australia and Western Europe.

Irinej adamantly opposed the independence of Kosovo, Serbia’s former predominantly Albanian southern province, considered a medieval cradle of Serbian Orthodox Christianity and where some of church’s most important monasteries are based.

He said Serbia should join the European Union “if the EU respects Serbian identity, culture and religion”.

The election of the new Patriarch among bishops will take place in the coming months.

Coronavirus has so far infected more than 104,000 people and killed 1,110 in Serbia; a country of 7.2 million.


Thanks joining me in the blogosphere. I’m handing over to my colleague Kevin Rawlinson now but if you’re just joining us or just getting up to speed with the news, here are the main developments of the past few hours:

  • India has recorded more than 9 million coronavirus cases. The country added , 45,882 new infections in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, and now has 9,004,365 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker site, and 132,162 deaths.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci, the US diseases expert, is back. After months of sparring with Donald Trump, the scientist spoke at a White House briefing again as the outbreak continues to spread rapidly. It is the only country with more cases than India, with the national total now on 11.72 million with 250,000 dead. California has imposed a curfew on most of its 40 million residents.
  • Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in Covid-19 deaths Thursday, becoming only the fourth country — behind the United States, Brazil and India — to do so.
  • The EU will pay more than $10bn to secure 425m doses of vaccines being developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and CureVac, Reuters reports. The bloc has agreed to pay €15.50 euros ($18.34) per dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and slightly less for the Curevac treatment.
  • Almost a million people in China have taken an emergency Covid-19 vaccine that is still in its testing phase, the company Sinopharm has said.
  • Remdesivir should not be used in hospitals to treat Covid-19, the WHO has warned. Donald Trump tried to push the treatment and took it himself when he contracted Covid-19. But the WHO says there is no evidence it works.
  • South Australia’s six-day lockdown is being cut short three days early at midnight on Saturday after it emerged that a man infected with Covid-19 had lied to contact trace investigators.

Irinej, the patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox church, has died of Covid-19, the country’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, has announced, according to Reuters. He was 90 and had contracted Covid earlier this month.

Serbian patriarch Irinej.
Serbian patriarch Irinej.
Photograph: Darko Vojinović/AP

Ukraine registered a record 14,575 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Friday. It breaks the previous daily record of 13,357.

The country now has 598,085 cases, with 10,598 deaths, he added.


Almost a million people in China have taken an emergency Covid-19 vaccine that is still in its testing phase, the company Sinopharm has said.

Chinese authorities released the vaccine, developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), to select groups of people in July including Chinese government officials, students, and workers travelling overseas, before the vaccines had been proven to work.

Helen Davidson has the full story here:

One benefit of the slightly farcical early ending of the South Australia lockdown is that the first cricket Test between Australia and India scheduled for 17 December in Adelaide is looking more likely to go ahead.

The first test of the Australian summer was under threat after the state went into a six-day lockdown this week. But it is now set to be lifted three days early, giving a huge boost for cricket fans.

Here’s the full story:


EU to pay $10bn for vaccines – report

The European Union has agreed to pay more than $10bn to secure hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine being developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and CureVac, an EU official involved in the talks told Reuters.

The bloc has agreed to pay €15.50 euros ($18.34) per dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, according to the official.

FILE PHOTO: Syringes are seen in front of displayed Biontech and Pfizer logos in this illustration taken November 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

That would mean an overall price of up to €3.1bn ($3.7 billion) for 200 million doses, rising to €4.65bn euros if another optional 100 million doses are purchased under the deal, the official said.

The EU has separately agreed to pay €10 ($11.84) per dose for an initial supply of 225 million doses of the vaccine candidate from CureVac, a discount from the €12 the company set as the price for the shot, the official said.


The six-day lockdown imposed on South Australia will end three days early at midnight on Saturday after it emerged that a man infected with Covid-19 had lied to contact trace investigators.

To the fury of the state premier, Steven Marshall, and probably most South Australians, the man told investigators he had been a customer at Woodville pizza bar where a Covid-positive security guard from a quarantine hotel worked.

The Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide, South Australia.
The Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide, South Australia.

Photograph: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

The investigators thought the man’s case meant many other customers could have picked up the disease in an outbreak that was one of Australia’s most serious for weeks. But it turned out the man worked at the pizza bar and therefore was deemed a close contact of the security guard, lessening the risk to the wider community.

“To say I am fuming about the actions of this individual is an absolute understatement,” Marshall said.

“The selfish actions of this individual have put our whole state in a very difficult situation. His actions have affected businesses, individuals, family groups and is completely and utterly unacceptable.”

You can read more about the whole farrago here:

Germany added another 23,648 confirmed cases on Thursday, taking its total to 879,564, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday.

The reported death toll rose by 260 to 13,630, the tally showed.

As India passes the grim 9 million-case milestone, concerns about the coronavirus are particularly acute in the capital, New Delhi, Agence France-Presse reports.

The city is facing the dual scourge of winter pollution and Covid-19 and has seen infections soar past half a million with a record rise in daily cases.

On Thursday, the city’s government quadrupled fines for not wearing a mask from 500 rupees ($US6.74) to 2,000 in an effort to get a grip on the outbreak.

A health worker takes a break in Delhi.
A health worker takes a break in Delhi.
Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP

Hospital beds are also running short. A government mobile app showed on Thursday that more than 90% of intensive care beds with ventilators were occupied in the city.

Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, responded by announcing the addition of 1,400 intensive care beds.

The western city of Ahmedabad, home to six million people, has also seen an uptick in cases and the authorities have imposed an indefinite nighttime curfew.

Asian stock markets have struggled again overnight after US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin called for an end to coronavirus pandemic relief for struggling businesses.

He has written to the US Federal Reserve saying that the $450bn allocated to treasury for assistance should be handed back to Congress to reallocate.

That sent the Nikkei down 0.5% in Tokyo, although they’re flat in Sydney and Seoul and up 0.45% in Hong Kong. Chinese mainland shares are also up slightly.

The S&P500 on Wall Street will open 0.5% lower later as a result but the FTSE100 is on course for a 0.2% rise at the opening.

India passes 9 million cases

India has recorded more than 9 million coronavirus cases, with 45,882 new infections confirmed in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday.

The country now has 9,004,365 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker site, and 132,162 deaths.

India is only the second country to cross 9 million coronavirus infections, after the United States, but cases have slowed down in the country after hitting a peak in September.

Government officials and experts have warned that the country could still see a spike after the festival of Diwali was celebrated this month.


That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan for today. Thanks for following a long – and stay tuned for more updates from the inimitable Martin Farrer.

As a parting gift, I offer you this beautiful fashion editorial produced by my colleagues in Australia:

Leaders from Japan and New Zealand on Friday warned countries against the temptation of retreating into trade protectionism, saying that keeping markets open is the way to restore a global economy battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking by video link from Tokyo to a meeting of Asia-Pacific CEOs, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said a “free and open Indo-Pacific will be the cornerstone for the prosperity of this region.”

Japan and 14 other Asian neighbours on Sunday signed the world’s largest free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Suga, who took office in September, said Japan will next push for a wider free trade pact among the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

“Amidst a risk of inward-looking temptations in the face of the slump of the global economy, making rules for a free and fair global economy is critically important,” he said. “While continuing to promote WTO reform, Japan will aspire for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.”

The event came ahead of a meeting late Friday of APEC leaders hosted by Malaysia that will be conducted via video conference due to the pandemic. Malaysian officials said US President Donald Trump, who is busy challenging the outcome of the recent presidential election, will participate.

Trump last participated in the APEC forum in 2017 and last weekend skipped the East Asia Summits, also held online. Trump, or his representative, was initially due to speak to the CEOs Friday morning but that was canceled, with no reasons given.

Churches in the Philippine capital Manila have been told not to hold any Christmas carol activities this season as part of measures to limit the transmission of Covid-19.

The Philippines, a catholic majority country, has one of the longest Christmas periods in the world, with celebrations beginning at the start of September and, for some, lasting as late as Valentine’s Day.

It’s the country’s most important holiday, but this year’s festivities will be different: as well as a ban on carols in church, there are also limits on church attendance, a curfew and a ban on mass gatherings. Celebrations have also been dampened by the economic crisis, which has left millions without work.

Church officials said carols had been banned because experts believe the virus is more likely to be transmitted if people are signing, according to reports by the Philippine News Agency.

Customers walking away with newly-purchased lanterns for the festive season in San Fernando town in Pampanga province, Philippines.
Customers walking away with newly-purchased lanterns for the festive season in San Fernando town in Pampanga province, Philippines.
Photograph: Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

In Thailand, mask-wearing and hand-washing routines introduced to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have also led to far fewer cases of other respiratory diseases in Thailand this year, according to medical experts.

A report by KhaosodEnglish found that cases of influenza so far this year are 70% lower than across the whole of 2019. Reported cases are their lowest in five years.

“Even during this cold season – viruses love it – we are finding fewer patients than last year,” Rungrueng Kitphati, spokesman of the Ministry of Public Health, told the news outlet.

According to the Department of Disease Control, between 1 January and 10 November, there were 116,052 reported cases of influenza, including three deaths nationwide. This compares with 390,773 cases of influenza, and 27 deaths, recorded between 1 Jan 2019 and 7 Jan 2020.

Hand foot and mouth disease cases have also fallen.

Despite reporting the first known coronavirus case outside China, Thailand has managed to avoid a major outbreak, thanks to a strict lockdown, border closures and mask wearing. The country has recorded 3,888 cases and 60 deaths.

Here is the video of Dr Fauci speaking earlier at the coronavirus task force press briefing – his first appearance at the White House podium in months:



Lithuanian defence minister, senior Pentagon official test positive for Covid-19

Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis has tested positive for Covid-19 and Anthony Tata, one of several senior US defence officials who met him at the Pentagon last week, also tested positive on Thursday, the Pentagon said.

The Lithuanian embassy told the Pentagon of Karoblis’s positive test on Thursday, it added. Tata, who performs the duties of undersecretary of defence for policy, had met Karoblis on 13 November.

All the senior US defence officials who met Karoblis on 13 November and Monday, including Acting Defence Secretary Chris Miller, were tested for Covid-19, the Pentagon said in its statement.

Here is more on Rachel Maddow’s return to air:

Maddow made an emotional return Thursday to her MSNBC show, saying her partner’s bout with Covid-19 was so serious they thought it might kill her.

Maddow has been off the air for roughly two weeks since disclosing she had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. Maddow didn’t disclose who it was at the time, but said Thursday evening it was her partner, Susan Mikula.

“At one point, we really thought it was a possibility it might kill her and that’s why I’ve been away,” Maddow said.

“She is the centre of my life,” she added.

Maddow said her partner is recovering and will be OK, but that it didn’t seem that way at the outset of her illness. Maddow said she’s tested negative so far for the virus.
She is the host of MSNBC’s most-watched show and did the broadcast from inside her home, encountering some technical difficulties before laying out their coronavirus experience.

“Don’t get this thing. Do whatever you can to keep from getting it,” Maddow said. “For Thanksgiving next week, you really are just going to have it at home without people coming over.”

Maddow said her quarantine would end soon, but she’d be “broadcasting like this until it’s safe for me to be around my coworkers.”

A lesson on “acceptable risk” (and love) from MSNBC Host Rachel Maddow:

For a break from coronavirus, here is how a giant, inflatable duck became the symbol of Thailand’s protests:

Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious diseases expert, has promised that “the cavalry is on the way” in the form of a coronavirus vaccine but urged one last great national effort to stop the spread.

Fauci was speaking at the White House coronavirus taskforce’s first press briefing since July. He was joined by Vice-president Mike Pence and response coordinator Deborah Birx, but there was no sign of Donald Trump or his controversial adviser Scott Atlas.

The taskforce broke its long silence as the virus surges to new highs, infecting more than 158,000 Americans – and killing in excess of 1,100 – every day. The total death toll now stands at a quarter of a million. Trump, little seen in public and refusing to accept election defeat, has been accused of all but giving up on the fight:

A little more on the “lie” that sent an entire Australian state in lockdown. South Australian police commissioner Grant Stevens is clarifying this now. He says the state would NOT have gone into lockdown if this person were truthful.

The lie was -the person claimed that they had purchased a pizza from the pizza shop, where in fact they were working there and had been working there for several shifts

That clearly changes the circumstances and had this person been truthful to the contact tracing teams, we would not have gone into a six-day lockdown.

The second consequence of that lie is this person has numerous associates, persons of interest that we are now trying to identify and locate that we would not have had to do so had they been truthful from the beginning. There is an absolute need for us to move quickly over the next 24-36 hours to identify and locate these people so we know we have eliminated the risk of this particular strain spreading further into the community.

The state of South Australia will come out of its snap six-day coronavirus lockdown earlier than expected, with most activities permitted to restart from midnight on Saturday, state Premier Steven Marshall said on Friday.

Coronavirus infections have slowed dramatically in recent weeks in Australia, with South Australia one of the few places still recording community transmission of the disease.

Marshall said the state will ease restrictions, including immediately allowing people to leave their homes to exercise, after it was realised that contact tracers were misled by a person working in the epicentre of the recent outbreak.

Mexico becomes fourth country to pass 100,000 deaths

Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in Covid-19 deaths Thursday, becoming only the fourth country — behind the United States, Brazil and India — to do so.

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, announced that Mexico had 100,104 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

But the living will bear the scars too: along with their lost friends and loved ones, many surviving coronavirus victims in Mexico say the psychosis caused by the pandemic is one of the most lasting effects.

Mexico resembles a divided country, where some people are so unconcerned they won’t wear masks, while others are so scared they descend into abject terror at the first sign of shortness of breath.

Mainland China reported 17 new Covid-19 cases on Nov. 19, up from 12 a day earlier, the country’s health authority said on Friday.

The National Health Commission said all new cases were imported infections originating from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed infections, also rose to 14 from 10 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 infections to date in Mainland China stands at 86,398 cases, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Kevin Stitt said Thursday he planned to attend a college football game over the weekend and spend Thanksgiving with his parents and family, even as cases in the state continued to surge this week and the nation’s top public health agency pleaded with Americans not to travel for the holidays, AP reports.

During a press conference with state health officials, Stitt said he planned to attend the University of Oklahoma-Oklahoma State University football game in Norman on Saturday and spend time with his family, including his parents, over the Thanksgiving holiday.

“I think Oklahomans should be with their loved ones over Thanksgiving,” Stitt said.
Stitt’s plans contradict guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday that encouraged Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving and not to spend the holiday with people from outside their household.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, 16 November, 2020.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, 16 November, 2020.
Photograph: Sue Ogrocki/AP

Stitt also didn’t wear a mask during Thursday’s press conference inside a crowded conference room at the state Capitol, despite issuing an executive order this week requiring state employees to wear masks inside state buildings.

Meanwhile, mayors in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the state’s two largest cities, urged Oklahomans to consider taking even more precautions over the next 10 days to minimise the number of people they come into contact with as the number of cases and hospitalisations have surged in recent weeks.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said that while his Thanksgiving celebration typically involves dozens of family members, this year’s will be just with his wife and two children.
“We’re doing that because we want to keep our family safe,” Bynum said. “I think it’s important that elected officials set that example.”

WHO warns against taking remdesivir

Remdesivir, one of the drugs Donald Trump took when he developed Covid-19, should not be used in hospitals because there is no evidence it works, the World Health Organization has advised.

The US president was an enthusiastic proponent of the drug, to the point where he boasted in July that he had bought up the world’s entire stock for Americans. The WHO’s guidelines committee, however, has said Covid patients may be better off without it.

The WHO issued what it calls a “living guideline”, which can be updated as evidence comes in, largely as a result of a Solidarity trial it led in several countries. Solidarity allocated patients randomly to several drugs including remdesivir and found that those who took it were no more likely to survive severe Covid than those who did not.

There are other issues with remdesivir. Made by the US company Gilead, is extremely expensive and has to be given intravenously. The guideline, published in the British Medical Journal, concluded that “most patients would not prefer intravenous treatment with remdesivir given the low certainty evidence. Any beneficial effects of remdesivir, if they do exist, are likely to be small and the possibility of important harm remains”:

The NHS is preparing to open dozens of mass vaccination centres across England to vaccinate people against Covid-19.

There will be at least 42 centres, based in places such as conference centres, and the NHS is planning to hire tens of thousands of staff to run them, the Health Service Journal reported.

The fresh details of how people will get the vaccine come as NHS England prepares to publish its “deployment plan” for how it will store, distribute and administer the vaccine:

California enacts coronavirus curfew for majority of state’s 40m residents

California will impose a temporary overnight curfew affecting nearly the entire population beginning this weekend, as the state battles to get a surge in coronavirus cases under control.

The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, announced the limited stay-at-home order on Thursday, saying that all non-essential work and gathering must stop from 10pm to 5am. The order will apply to the 41 counties currently in the most restrictive tier of reopening rules, which accounts for nearly the entire state population of 40 million people:

CDC advises against Thanksgiving travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised Americans not to travel for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, due to the nationwide surge in new coronavirus cases.

“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Dr Henry Walke, the CDC’s coronavirus incident manager, said during a briefing today.

“For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living,” Walke added.

Walke particularly expressed fear about the possibility of Americans unknowingly spreading coronavirus to family members, saying, “One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it.”

In a set of updated guidelines, the CDC recommended celebrating Thanksgiving virtually or only with members of one’s own household.

The guidance says, “In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.”

The news comes a day after the US coronavirus death toll surpassed 250,000, which is far higher than any other country in the world:

China has given 1m people Sinopharm vaccine

Chinese President Xi Jinping is calling for closer international cooperation on making a vaccine for the coronavirus available, as his government announces that the vaccine developed by state-owned pharmaceutical company SinoPharm has been administered to 1m people.

Xi spoke Thursday in an address delivered via video at an event at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Xi said: “To beat the virus and promote the global recovery, the international community must close ranks and jointly respond to the crisis and meet the tests.”
He said cooperation would include closer coordination on policies for development and distribution of a vaccine.

Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm are in the late stages of testing vaccines, putting them among nearly a dozen companies at or near that level of development. That has introduced both commercial and political competition among countries and companies to be the first to offer a solution to the pandemic.

“To justify its authorisation of an unproven vaccine, Beijing said the products’ use had been restricted to high-risk individuals, though that included not only obvious groups like frontline health professionals, but also school, supermarket and public transport workers.”

The South China Morning Post reports that SinoPharm’s CEO has said there have been “no adverse effects” in any of those who have received the treatment. The paper reports:

Besides the recipients of the Sinopharm jabs, authorities in Zhejiang said they had made a Covid-19 vaccine developed by the privately owned pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotec available to high-risk groups in the east China province under the emergency use scheme.

Exactly how many citizens have received the jabs is unknown, but local and foreign media reports showed images of people lining up outside disease control and prevention centres to receive them.

To justify its authorisation of an unproven vaccine, Beijing said the products’ use had been restricted to high-risk individuals, though that included not only obvious groups like frontline health professionals, but also school, supermarket and public transport workers.


Hello and welcome to our rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest from around the world. I am on Twitter here if you need me.

The South China Morning Post reports that China has administered an experimental vaccine developed by state-owned company Sinopharm to 1 million people under the government’s emergency-use scheme. We’ll have more on this shortly.

Meanwhile authorities at the US Centres for Disease Control have told Americans not to travel next week for Thanksgiving celebrations, and not to spend the holiday with people who aren’t in their household.

Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • Northern Ireland faces two weeks of tougher lockdown restrictions from the end of next week, as non-essential retail will also close. Health minister Robin Swann had warned colleagues that a delayed lockdown risked seeing the country’s health services overwhelmed
  • Spain has announced 16,233 new cases and 252 more deaths from the virus. It takes Spain’s death toll to 42,291 since the start of the pandemic.
  • France’s health minister, Olivier Veran, has admitted that the mental health of the French was deteriorating during the second lockdown. The admission came as the French death toll from coronavirus increased by 429 to 47,127 people.
  • Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, warned Italians they would have to shun “hugs and kisses” at Christmas. The health ministry recorded 653 further coronavirus fatalities, taking Italy’s death toll from the virus to 47,870.
  • The US government will extend a ban on non-essential travel at land borders with Canada and Mexico until 21 December. The rules were first introduced in March to stop the virus’ spread, and will be in place for another 20 days. They were due to expire on Saturday.
  • A new mutated strain of coronavirus from mink farms in Denmark is “most likely” extinct, the health ministry said, following a cull of the animals. But the authorities in Sweden are investigating number of cases of Covid-19 among people who work in its mink industry.
  • The latest post Brexit trade talks between the UK and EU have been paused at a crucial stage after one of the EU team tested positive for Covid. The health of Brexit negotiators is the top priority, Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost, said after his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier announced the suspension of the talks.
  • Ireland’s department of health has recommended a cull of mink to stop the risk of the mink mutation spreading to Ireland. Ireland also announced that its R rate has increase from 0.6 to 0.7 to 0.9.
  • Hungary’s plans to import and possibly use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine raise safety concerns and could damage trust in potential shots, the European Commission has warned. Meanwhile, trials of the Sputnik V vaccine have resumed after a temporary suspension in Russia.
  • Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak has risen to 43,418, with 476 deaths in the past 24 hours. Ahmed al-Mandhari, director of WHO’s eastern Mediterranean region, expressed concern that countries in the Middle East are lowering their guard after tough lockdowns imposed earlier this year.
  • Poland reported a new daily high of 637 coronavirus-related deaths. There were 23,975 new cases reported on Thursday, the health ministry said.
  • Japan is on “maximum alert” after logging a record number of daily coronavirus infections, its prime minister has said. The comments came as Tokyo raised its alert level to the top of its four-tier system, with local media saying the capital would report a record number of infections for a second day running.
  • Russia has surpassed 2m coronavirus cases after reporting a record 23,610 infections and 463 deaths related to Covid-19.
  • The total number of coronavirus infections on the continent of Africa also surpassed 2m. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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