Joe Biden officially secures enough electors to become US President

News Network
December 5, 2020

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Washington, Dec 5: California certified its presidential election Friday and appointed 55 electors pledged to vote for Democrat Joe Biden, officially handing him the Electoral College majority needed to win the White House.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla's formal approval of Biden's win in the state brought his tally of pledged electors so far to 279, according to a tally by The Associated Press. That's just over the 270 threshold for victory.

These steps in the election are often ignored formalities. But the hidden mechanics of electing a U.S. president have drawn new scrutiny this year as President Donald Trump continues to deny Biden's victory and pursues increasingly specious legal strategies aimed at overturning the results before they are finalized.

Although it's been apparent for weeks that Biden won the presidential election, his accrual of more than 270 electors is the first step toward the White House, said Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University.

“It is a legal milestone and the first milestone that has that status,” Foley said. “Everything prior to that was premised on what we call projections.” The electors named Friday will meet Dec. 14, along with counterparts in each state, to formally vote for the next president.

Most states have laws binding their electors to the winner of the popular vote in their state, measures that were upheld by a Supreme Court decision this year. There have been no suggestions that any of Biden's pledged electors would contemplate not voting for him.

Results of the Electoral College vote are due to be received and typically approved, by Congress on Jan. 6. Although lawmakers can object to accepting the electors' votes, it would be almost impossible for Biden to be blocked at that point.

The Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate would both vote separately to resolve any disputes. One already has arisen from Pennsylvania, where 75 Republican lawmakers signed a statement on Friday urging Congress to block the state's electoral votes from being cast for Biden.

But the state's Republican U.S. senator, Pat Toomey, said soon afterward that he would not be objecting to Pennsylvania's slate of electors, underscoring the difficulty in trying to change the election results through Congress.

“As a practical matter, we know that Joe Biden is going to be inaugurated on Jan. 20," Foley said.

That was clear in the days after the election, when the count of mail ballots gradually made clear that Biden had won victories in enough states to win the Electoral College.

It became even more apparent in late November, when every swing state won by Biden certified him as the winner of its elections and appointed his electors to the Electoral College. Trump has fruitlessly tried to stop those states from certifying Biden as the winner and appointing electors for the former vice president.

He made no effort in deeply Democratic California, the most populous state in the nation and the trove of its largest number of electoral votes. Three more states won by Biden — Colorado, Hawaii and New Jersey — have not yet certified their results. When they do, Biden will have 306 Electoral College votes to Trump's 232.

Trump and his allies have brought at least 50 legal cases trying to overturn the results in the swing states Biden won — mainly Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. More than 30 have been rejected or dropped, according to an AP tally.

Trump and his allies have also raised the far-fetched notion that Republican state legislatures in those states could appoint a rival set of electors pledged to Trump.

But state Republican leaders have rejected that approach, and it would likely be futile in any case. According to federal law, both chambers of Congress would need to vote to accept a competing slate of electors. If they don't, the electors appointed by the states' governors — all pledged to Biden in these cases — must be used. The last remaining move to block the election would be the quixotic effort to vote down the electors in Congress.

This tactic has been tried — a handful of congressional Democrats in 2000, 2004 and 2016 objected to officially making both George W. Bush and Trump president. But the numbers were not enough to block the two men from taking office.

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Agencies
January 12,2021

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Kuwait City, Jan 12: Kuwait government ministers submitted their resignation en masse to Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah on Tuesday, the government communications office said, after lawmakers submitted a motion asking to question the premier.

Sheikh Sabah must submit the government's resignation to the OPEC member state's ruler, Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah, for approval.

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News Network
January 10,2021

Jakarta, Jan 10: Indonesian rescuers pulled out body parts, pieces of clothing and scraps of metal from the Java Sea early on Sunday morning, a day after a Boeing 737-500 with 62 people onboard crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, officials said.

Officials were hopeful they were honing in on the wreckage of Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 after sonar equipment detected a signal from the aircraft.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi told reporters that authorities have launched massive search efforts after identifying "the possible location of the crash site".

"These pieces were found by the SAR team between Lancang Island and Laki Island," National Search and Rescue Agency Bagus Puruhito in a statement.

"As of this morning, we've received two (body) bags, one with passenger belongings and the other with body parts," Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus told Metro TV.

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Agencies
January 1,2021

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London, Jan 1: Britain and the European Union (EU) have started a new chapter in their relationship as the Brexit transition period ended on Thursday.

In an earlier message, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britain to seize the moment as the country embarks on a new journey as an independent global trading nation.

"The destiny of this great country now resides firmly in our hands. We take on this duty with a sense of purpose and with the interests of the British public at the heart of everything we do," he said, Xinhua news agency reported.

"11 p.m. (2300 GMT) on 31 December marks a new beginning in our country's history and a new relationship with the EU as their biggest ally. This moment is finally upon us and now is the time to seize it."

Also on Thursday, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II gave Royal assent to a new law spelling out Britain's future relationship with the EU, after the bill was approved in both the House of Commons (lower house of the British Parliament) and the House of Lords (upper house).

However, some major changes are still taking place from 2300 GMT regarding rules on travel, immigration, commerce and security, among others.

The free movement of people between Britain and the EU countries has ended, replaced in Britain by a "points-based" immigration system. Britons who want to stay in most of the EU for more than 90 days in any 180-day period will need a visa.

British police have lost instant access to EU-wide databases on criminal records, fingerprints and wanted persons.

Meanwhile, concerns remain over disruptions in ports like Dover due to border checks and new customs rules.

Rajneesh Narula, the John H. Dunning Chair of International Business Regulation at the Henley Business School, University of Reading, has warned that there could be difficult months ahead as many large issues are left out of the current deal, which will add uncertainties to Britain-EU future relations.

Most notably, the trade deal did little for the services sector, which makes up 80 percent of the British economy.

Although Britain ended its membership of the EU on January 31, 2020, it has followed EU rules during a transition period which expired at 2300 GMT on Thursday.

The EU and Britain announced on December 24 that they had reached an agreement that will govern their trade and security relationship starting from January 1, 2021.

The deal, which came after nine months of arduous negotiations between Britain and the EU, is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth around 668 billion British pounds ($913 billion).

The EU is Britain's largest trading partner. Britain is the EU's third-largest trading partner in goods, after the US and China.

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