California certified its presidential election on 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 Mr 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 US president have drawn new scrutiny this year as President Donald Trump continues to deny Mr Biden’s victory and pursues increasingly specious legal strategies aimed at overturning the results before they are finalised.
Although it’s been apparent for weeks that Mr 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,” Mr Foley said. “Everything prior to that was premised on what we call projections.”
Donald Trump’s niece says her uncle is “criminal, cruel and traitorous” and belongs in prison after he leaves the White House.
Mary Trump, a psychologist, author and outspoken critic of her estranged relative, rejects the notion that putting a former president on trial would deepen the nation’s political divisions.
“It’s quite frankly insulting to be told time after time that the American people can handle it and that we just need to move on,” Mary Trump told The Associated Press in an interview this week.
“If anybody deserves to be prosecuted and tried, it’s Donald,” she added. “(Otherwise) we just leave ourselves open to somebody who, believe it or not, is even worse than he is.”
Asked about her comments, a spokesperson for Mr Trump’s presidential campaign emailed a one-sentence response: “Did she mention she has a book to sell?”
Mary Trump, the daughter of the president’s elder brother, Fred Jnr, announced this week she is writing a follow-up to this summer’s scathing bestseller about her uncle, Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man.
Her new book, “The Reckoning”, from publisher St Martin’s Press, won’t be out until next July.
It will trace what she says is America’s collective trauma from its founding on the backs of enslaved Africans to the burgeoning economic and mental health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
America is “looking down the barrel of an explosion of psychological disorders” from the “trauma of living in a country in which the pandemic didn’t just strike, but it was completely mishandled”, Ms Trump told AP.
Former White House counsellor, Kellyanne Conway, has acknowledged that Joe Biden won last month’s presidential election.
“If you look at the vote totals in the Electoral College tally, it looks like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will prevail,” she said in an interview with The 19th, a non-partisan political website.
“I assume the electors will certify that and it will be official. We, as a nation, will move forward, because we always do.”
While she defended Mr Trump’s right to exhaust “all legal avenues”, Ms Conway appealed for a smooth transition.
“You always need a peaceful transfer of democracy, no matter whose administration goes into whose administration,” she added. “We want the engines of government to keep going.”
The legalisation of cannabis across the US cleared a major hurdle yesterday when the House of Representatives voted to decriminalise the drug, although significant obstacles remain before it can be passed into law.
While recreational cannabis will soon be legal in 15 states and medicinal use allowed in 36, it remains outlawed at a federal level.
As a result, cannabis businesses are denied access to the banking system and, in theory, carrying a small quantity of pot from one state to another is an offence – even if the drug is legal in both.
The Democrat-led House of Representatives backed the change by 228 to 164 in a landmark vote that marked the first time either chamber of Congress had voted on decriminalising cannabis.
However the chances of the US falling into line with Canada, where the drug was legalised two years ago, could depend on the Democrats winning the two outstanding Senate seats in next month’s run-off election in Georgia.
China is conducting “human testing” to create “biologically enhanced soldiers,” the head of US intelligence has claimed as he warned that Beijing poses the biggest threat to America’s national security.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, warned that the US must be prepared for an “open-ended” confrontation with China which he likened to the Cold War.
Mr Ratcliffe, who oversees America’s intelligence agencies, said he believed China’s intention was to “dominate” the planet in every sense: economically, militarily and technologically.
He claimed that US intelligence showed China has “conducted human testing on members of the People’s Liberation Army in hope of developing soldiers with biologically enhanced capabilities”.
“There are no ethical boundaries to Beijing’s pursuit of power,” he said.
Mr Ratcliffe said his unique vantage point on the current security threats facing the US had led him to conclude that “the People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom world-wide since World War II”.
He went on to outline in granular detail China’s strategy of economic espionage, which he framed as: “rob, replicate and replace.”
“China robs US companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology, and then replaces the US firms in the global marketplace,” he said.
A teenage scientist whose inventions include an app capable of detecting and discouraging cyberbullying has been named TIME magazine’s first-ever “kid of the year”.
Gitanjali Rao, 15, was one of 5,000 nominees considered for the accolade which was inspired by the magazine having named 16-year-old environmentalist Greta Thunberg as its person of the year in 2019.
The Colorado teenager’s fascination with science began when an uncle gave her a chemistry set when she was only four or five years old.
“I am a very curious person, if that’s one thing you need to know about me,” she told TIME. “I cannot see a world filled with kindness without science and technology being involved.”
“I don’t look like your typical scientist. Everything I see on TV is that it’s an older, usually white man as a scientist.” Recently she has turned her attention to cyberbullying, with statistics showing that one in three students are victims every day.
She has devised a phone app and browser extension known as Kindly. It uses artificial intelligence to scan messages before they are sent and warn people that they could be accused of bullying.
“You type in a word or phrase, and it’s able to pick it up if it’s bullying, and it gives you the option to edit it or send it the way it is,” she explained.
“As a teenager, I know teenagers tend to lash out sometimes. Instead, it gives you the chance to rethink what you’re saying so that you know what to do next time around.”
Angered by the scandal of contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan, Gitanjali came up with TETHYS, which not only detects lead but sends a notification to a mobile phone using an app she created.
It relies on a sensor which can be put into the water which is capable of detecting chemical changes.
“It was so unacceptable that kids of my age were drinking poison every day. I realised something needed to be done to solve that problem.”
Gitanjali has also mentored 30,000 students who want to follow in her footsteps.
“I have been wanting to change the world and hopefully I am changing the world.”
Leading American infectious disease scientist Dr Anthony Fauci on Thursday walked back his criticism of Britain’s drug regulator after saying it had rushed through its coronavirus vaccine approval.
His comments came a day after Britain became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for general use, prompting some scepticism among the country’s European neighbors and suggestions of politicisation.
Widely respected Dr Fauci, who leads the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the BBC: “I have a great deal of confidence in what the UK does both scientifically and from a regulator standpoint.”
“Our process is one that takes more time than it takes in the UK. And that’s just the reality,” he said, adding: “I did not mean to imply any sloppiness even though it came out that way.”
Dr Fauci had earlier described Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as having “ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile” and “rushed through that approval.”
Chinese scientists claim to have built a quantum computer that is able to perform certain computations nearly 100 trillion times faster than the world’s most advanced supercomputer, representing the first milestone in the country’s efforts to develop the technology.
The researchers have built a quantum computer prototype that is able to detect up to 76 photons through Gaussian boson sampling, a standard simulation algorithm, the state-run Xinhua news agency said, citing research published in Science magazine. That’s exponentially faster than existing supercomputers.
The breakthrough represents a quantum computational advantage, also known as quantum supremacy, in which no traditional computer can perform the same task in a reasonable amount of time and is unlikely to be overturned by algorithmic or hardware improvements, according to the research.
While still in its infancy, quantum computing is seen as the key to radically improving the processing speed and power of computers, enabling them to simulate large systems and drive advances in physics, chemistry and other fields.
Chinese researchers are competing against major US corporations from Google to Amazon and Microsoft for a lead in the technology, which has become yet another front in the US-China tech race.
A third monolith was spotted – this time in California – before a group of men apparently removed the huge structure chanting: “Christ is king” and “America first”.
The shining metal edifice was found on the pinnacle of a Californian trail, days after the discovery and swift disappearance of two similar objects in Utah and Romania.
After photos were posted on social media, the tall, silver metallic structure drew hikers to the top of the Pine Mountain trail in an Atascadero park, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, KEYT-TV reported on Wednesday.
The 3-sided, 10-foot-tall, 200-pound monolith was similar to the other two and, like those structures, the origin of the California edifice is also unknown.
But by Thursday, the California monolith had vanished, apparently torn down by a group of young men that travelled five hours from farther south to remove it, the city of Atascadero said in a Facebook post.
California’s governor on Thursday announced new statewide bans on gatherings and “non-essential” activities, as hospitals in the nation’s most populous state face being overwhelmed by record Covid-19 cases.
In a move that could plunge the state’s 40 million residents back into lockdown, Gavin Newsom announced new limits that will come into effect once 85 per cent of intensive care unit beds have been filled – a development expected in four of California’s five regions “as early as the next day or two”.
“We are announcing and introducing a regional ‘stay-at-home’ order in the state of California, fundamentally predicated on the need to stop gathering with people outside of your household,” Mr Newsom said.
Once a region is placed under the new limits – an “emergency brake” which will last for a minimum of three weeks – the gathering of people from different households will be banned.
Bars and personal services such as hair salons will be temporarily closed, and restaurants will only be allowed to offer take-out and delivery.
“We’re also establishing a framework where all non-essential travel is as well temporarily restricted statewide,” Mr Newsom said.