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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

November 21, 2020 - 8:04 PM

In blistering ruling, judge throws out Trump suit in Pa.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A federal judge issued a scathing order Saturday dismissing the Trump campaign's futile effort to block the certification of votes in Pennsylvania, shooting down claims of widespread irregularities with mail-in ballots.

The case was always a long shot to stop President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, but it was President Donald Trump’s best hope to affect the election results through the courts, mostly because of the number of electoral votes, 20, at stake in Pennsylvania. His personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, stepped into a courtroom for the first time in decades to argue the case this past week.

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann wrote in his order that Trump had asked the court to disenfranchise almost 7 million voters.

“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption," Brann wrote, so much that the court would have no option but to stop the certification even though it would impact so many people. “That has not happened.”

Even if he'd won the Pennsylvania case, Trump would have needed to win other lawsuits in other states where he'd also asked to delay certification. The campaign peppered battlegrounds states with litigation in the days after the election alleging widespread election fraud without proof, but the majority of those cases have already been dismissed.

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Week offers snapshot of how Trump, Biden approach presidency

WASHINGTON (AP) — One spent the week at his home in Delaware carefully trying to build a government and preparing to take on a pandemic.

The other largely kept to himself behind closed doors at a mostly empty White House, angrily tweeting and using his office and allies to try to subvert the results of an American election in a dangerous breach of democracy.

If the differences between President-elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump were not already clear, the days since the Nov. 3 election was decided have demonstrated the dramatically divergent ways in which each approaches the job of commander in chief.

Trump has largely abandoned governing, despite a pandemic that has now killed more than 250,000 people in the U.S. and is raging out of control. He has rejected the results of the election, concocted conspiracies that are now believed by his most loyal supporters and refused to allow his government to participate in the peaceful transition of power to the next administration while trying to pressure state legislators and election officials to overturn the will of the voters.

Denied the briefings, access to agencies and funding that are part of a traditional transition, Biden has nonetheless tried to move forward. He has named senior staff, decided on Cabinet members and attempted to glean information about policy and national security from former government officials and others, including governors, who have worked with the Trump administration.

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Wisconsin officials: Trump observers obstructing recount

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Election officials in Wisconsin’s largest county accused observers for President Donald Trump on Saturday of seeking to obstruct a recount of the presidential results, in some instances by objecting to every ballot tabulators pulled to count.

Trump requested the recount in Milwaukee and Dane counties, both heavily liberal, in hopes of undoing Democrat Joe Biden's victory by about 20,600 votes. With no precedent for a recount reversing such a large margin, Trump's strategy is widely seen as aimed at an eventual court challenge, part of a push in key states to undo his election loss.

A steady stream of Republican complaints in Milwaukee was putting the recount far behind schedule, county clerk George Christenson said. He said many Trump observers were breaking rules by constantly interrupting vote counters with questions and comments.

“That’s unacceptable,” he said. He said some of the Trump observers “clearly don't know what they are doing.”

Tim Posnanski, a county election commissioner, told his fellow commissioners there appeared to be two Trump representatives at some tables where tabulators were counting ballots, violating rules that call for one observer from each campaign per table. Posnanski said some Trump representatives seemed to be posing as independents.

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FDA allows emergency use of antibody drug Trump received

U.S. health officials Saturday agreed to allow emergency use of a second antibody drug to help the immune system fight COVID-19, an experimental medicine that President Donald Trump was given when he was sickened last month.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized use of the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. drug to try to prevent hospitalization and worsening disease from developing in patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms.

The drug is given as a one-time treatment through an IV. The FDA allowed its use in adults and children 12 and over who weigh at least 88 pounds (40 kilograms) and who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because of age or certain other medical conditions.

Emergency authorization allows use of the drug to start while studies are continuing to establish safety and effectiveness. Early results suggest the drug may reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients at high risk for disease progression, the FDA said.

Regeneron said that initial doses will be made available to roughly 300,000 patients through a federal government allocation program. Patients will not be charged for the drug but may have to pay part of the cost of giving the IV.

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Analysis: With silence, GOP enables Trump's risky endgame

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in Congress are engaged in a risky but calculated bet that once President Donald Trump has exhausted his legal challenges to the election, he will come to grips with his loss to President-elect Joe Biden.

But the opposite is happening.

As one Trump court case after another falls by the wayside, Trump is doubling down on efforts to disrupt the election outcome. Rather than accept the reality of the vote, the president is using the weight of his office to try to squash it. He summoned Michigan state lawmakers to the White House on Friday after personally reaching out to GOP officials ahead of next week's deadline to certify election results. Others from Pennsylvania may similarly be invited in.

Republicans are standing by as it all unfolds. What started as a GOP strategy to give the president the time and space he needed to process his defeat is now spiraling into an unprecedented challenge to the election outcome like nothing since the Civil War.

“It’s hit the point where the Republican Party’s letting Trump's pout go on too long,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, a professor at Rice University in Texas.

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Many GOP lawmakers shrug off Statehouse mask-wearing rules

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Many Republican lawmakers in states where coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have surged are not only rejecting statewide mask mandates. They're also resisting rules requiring them in their own capitols.

Efforts to require lawmakers and staff to wear masks have received a cool reception even in statehouses that have seen outbreaks of the virus or where Republican governors have issued statewide mandates. It's echoing a partisan divide nationwide over a simple step that health experts say is proven to help keep others safe.

“We’re supposed to be modeling for our constituents and for our residents in our state," said Arkansas state Sen. Stephanie Flowers, a Democrat in the majority-Republican Legislature who proposed a rule requiring senators to wear a mask or risk losing their per diem payments. “You’ve got the governor asking everyone to wear a mask and socially distance. It’s not like I'm asking for something nobody has heard of."

Many legislatures are still planning and drafting rules for their 2021 legislative sessions, while four chambers approved rules requiring masks for sessions this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Nearly 200 legislators nationwide have tested positive for the virus and four have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press. After at least four dozen Mississippi lawmakers tested positive in the largest outbreak in a legislature, where masks were encouraged but not required for lawmakers.

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COVID-19 deaths of Serbian clerics highlight virus worries

As coronavirus cases surge globally, the COVID-19 deaths of two senior Serbian Orthodox Church clerics — one who died weeks after presiding over the funeral of the other — are raising questions about whether some religious institutions are doing enough to slow the spread of the virus.

More reports are emerging about people who attended religious services and contract the virus — some after parishioners seemed to ignore the pleas of church and health officials officials to wear masks, practice social distancing and other steps to combat the virus that's killed nearly 1.4 million people worldwide.

In Belgrade, many mourners paying their respects Saturday to Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej ignored precautions and some kissed the glass shield covering the patriarch's body, despite warnings not to do so from Serbia's epidemiologists.

That scene unfolded three weeks after the 90-year-old Irinej led prayers at the funeral of Bishop Amfilohije in nearby Montenegro, an event attended by thousands where many kissed the bishop's remains in an open casket.

The highly publicized episodes happened as Serbia reported thousands of newly confirmed infections daily in the country of 7 million and as the government in recent days has tightened measures to hold off the virus. As the country's health system strains to treat more and more people for the virus, some patients in Belgrade hospitals with less serious conditions are being transferred to hospitals elsewhere.

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Judge rules against Trump global media chief after firings

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has ruled against the head of the agency that runs the Voice of America and other U.S.-funded news outlets who was accused of trying to turn it into a propaganda vehicle to promote President Donald Trump’s agenda.

The ruling effectively bars U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack from making personnel decisions and interfering in editorial operations.

Pack, a conservative filmmaker, Trump ally and onetime associate of former Trump political adviser Steve Bannon, made no secret of his intent to shake up the agency after taking over in June.

He proceeded to purge the leadership at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Open Technology Fund, which works to provide secure internet access to people around the world. The director and deputy director of VOA resigned just days before the firings. Pack also dismissed their governing boards.

His moves were criticized by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress who control the agency’s budget.

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Carson says he's 'out of the woods' after battling COVID-19

STERLING, Va. (AP) — Housing Secretary Ben Carson is crediting unapproved, experimental treatments with saving his life after he became “desperately ill” following his infection with the coronavirus.

There is no medical evidence that the treatments Carson cited worked.

A retired neurosurgeon, Carson said Friday that he believes he's now “out of the woods." He disclosed that his wife, Candy, also had COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes. Carson tested positive earlier this month.

Most people recover from the disease, which has killed more than 250,000 Americans and sickened more than 12 million, including President Donald Trump and members of his family.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Carson said he was “extremely sick” but saw “dramatic improvement” after taking a botanical treatment derived from the oleander plant. Carson said he has underlying conditions, which he did not specify, “and after a brief period when I only experienced minor discomfort, the symptoms accelerated and I became desperately ill.”

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Bodies of man and his slave unearthed from ashes at Pompeii

ROME (AP) — Skeletal remains of what are believed to have been a rich man and his male slave attempting to escape death from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago have been discovered in Pompeii, officials at the archaeological park in Italy said Saturday.

Parts of the skulls and bones of the two men were found during excavation of the ruins from what was once an elegant villa with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea on the outskirts of the ancient Roman city destroyed by the volcano eruption in 79 A.D. It’s the same area where a stable with the remains of three harnessed horses were excavated in 2017.

Pompeii officials said the men apparently escaped the initial fall of ash from Mount Vesuvius then succumbed to a powerful volcanic blast that took place the next morning. The later blast “apparently invaded the area from many points, surrounding and burying the victims in ash,” Pompeii officials said in a statement.

The remains of the two victims, lying next to each other on their backs, were found in a layer of gray ash at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) deep, they said.

As has been done when other remains have been discovered at the Pompeii site, archaeologists poured liquid chalk into the cavities, or void, left by the decaying bodies in the ash and pumice that rained down from the volcano near modern-day Naples and demolished the upper levels of the villa.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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