The United States, the country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic and in the throes of a surge in cases, on Tuesday registered more than 2,500 deaths in a 24-hour period, the highest total since late April, Johns Hopkins University said.
More than 180,000 new infections were recorded, according to real-time data provided by the Baltimore-based university at 8:30 pm (01:30 GMT Wednesday).
The last time the daily death toll was higher than Tuesday’s total of 2,562 was in late April, at the height of the pandemic’s first wave.
The number of hospitalisations in the United states hit 99,000 on Tuesday, a new record, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The situation is particularly dire in several Midwestern states, including Indiana and South Dakota.
Donald Trump has discussed preemptively pardoning his three eldest children and his son-in-law to shield them from potential prosecutions after he leaves office, according to the New York Times.
According to the newspaper, the US president has told his inner circle that he fears Joe Biden’s administration would target his family in order to exact revenge on Mr Trump.
Mr Trump reportedly discussed granting preemptive pardons to his two eldest sons, Donald Jnr and Eric, as well as his eldest daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.
It is not clear what type of prosecution Mr Trump’s family could possibly face – but the president’s children have come to the attention of investigators in the past.
Donald Jnr was investigated by Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to probe potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, over meetings he had with a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. However the president’s son was never charged with any crime.
Special counsel Mueller wrote in his report that it was arguable that Donald Jnr’s behaviour could “implicate” him in attempting to solicit “an illegal foreign-source contribution” from Russia, but that he had done so without “general knowledge of the illegality of [his] conduct.”
The Mueller report, published in April 2019, did not find sufficient evidence that the 2016 Trump campaign “coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities.”
Inauguration Day 2021: when is Joe Biden sworn in as US president, and what will it look like during Covid-19?
Joe Biden is expected to be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on January 20.
Despite ongoing tensions with Donald Trump over the 2020 Election, the traditional outdoor ceremony is set to go ahead – though the coronavirus pandemic could scale back the usual celebrations.
When and where is the ceremony?
In keeping with tradition, the inauguration will be held on Wednesday January 20, in front of the US Capitol in Washington DC.
Mr Biden will be required to take an inaugural oath before assuming his duties and will deliver a public address.
It turns out the shiny monolith that was spotted in a remote southeastern Utah desert two weeks ago was not the only such object to mysteriously appear.
The alien-looking object was discovered in the US on November 18 before disappearing in equally baffling fashion on Friday evening.
Now it transpires a similar looking object has been found in Romania.
The four-metre tall upturned triangular prism appeared on Thursday on a hillside outside Piatra Neamt in the north of Romania, close to an important archaeological site.
A dark metallic structure that appears covered in concentric circles, it was spotted a few metres away from the well-known archaeological landmark the Petrodava Dacian Fortress, an fort built by the ancient Dacian people between 82 BC and AD 106.
“There is no reason to panic for those who think there is still life in the universe,” local mayor Andrei Carabelea wrote on Facebook.
“My guess is that some alien, cheeky and terrible teenagers left home with their parents’ UFO and started planting metal monoliths around the world. First in Utah and then at Piatra Neamt. I am honoured that they chose our city.”
Dr Scott Atlas, a science adviser to President Donald Trump who was sceptical of measures to control the coronavirus outbreak, has resigned his White House post.
A White House official confirmed that the Stanford University neuroradiologist, who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned at the end of his temporary government assignment.
Atlas joined the White House this summer, where he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, as he resisted stronger efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed more than 267,000 Americans.
Dr Atlas has broken with government experts and the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community to criticise efforts to encourage face covering to slow the spread of the virus.
In October, he tweeted: “Masks work? NO,” despite overwhelming scientific evidence proving the benefit of wearing masks. Twitter concealed the message as misinformation.
This month he said lockdowns had been “an epic failure” in stopping the spread of the virus. Just weeks ago on Twitter he responded to Michigan’s latest virus restrictions by encouraging people to “rise up” against the state’s policies.
He later clarified the tweet, saying he never meant to encourage violence.
A hiker who was trapped under a boulder for 12 hours was rescued after he used a penknife to cut his trousers open to grab a phone and call for help.
Jason Koch, 48, slipped while searching for a missing drone near Calistoga, California on Monday.
‘”Something slams into me and I have moments of excruciating pain,” he told CBS News.
“I found that my left arm was stuck down under below me. I’m kind of laying with my chest sort of flat, but my hips kind of rotated sort of sideways. So it’s a really weird position to be laying in.”
He was pinned by a boulder. Immobile and with his left arm trapped, he was helpless as the temperature dropped.
Determined not to panic, he slowed his breathing down as he weighed up his options.
He drew inspiration from a film called “127 hours” in which a trapped climber amputates his arm to break free and call for help.
Republicans indicated they would try to block one of Joe Biden’s proposed key economic advisers in what could be the first major confirmation battle of his administration.
Mr Biden on Monday nominated Neera Tanden, 50, as the first woman of colour to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Ms Tanden has for the last decade headed a liberal think tank, and is a former close aide to Hillary Clinton.
She has been a vocal critic of Republican senators including leader Mitch McConnell, accusing him of “breaking our democracy”.
A spokesman for Republican senator John Cornyn accused her of “an endless stream of disparaging comments,” and said she “stands zero chance of being confirmed”. Mr McConnell’s former chief of staff said Ms Tanden would be a “sacrifice to the confirmation gods”.
It came as Mr Biden received the Presidential Daily Brief for the first time, giving him an update on classified intelligence.
That would be expected to include the latest US intelligence assessments of the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
The president-elect also revealed his economic team, including confirmation that he was nominating Janet Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, as treasury secretary.
He also named an all-female senior White House communications team with Jen Psaki as press secretary.
Ms Psaki worked in Barack Obama’s administration, and has been a contributor to CNN.
The confirmation of Ms Tanden looked set to depend on who wins two Senate run-off races in Georgia on January 5.
If Democrats win both races they will take control of the Senate from Republicans, easing the confirmation process for Biden officials.
As the battle in Georgia heated up its secretary of state Brad Raffensperger opened investigations into left-wing groups trying to sign up new voters.
He said some groups had been encouraging people who lived outside Georgia to register to vote in the state.
Ms Tanden is also unpopular with some on the left wing of the Democratic party.
Last year Bernie Sanders accused her of “maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas”.
At first sight it was little more than a gelatinous blob, but scientists have for the first time ever been able to identify a new species of underwater creature using high definition video footage.
Researchers at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) broke new ground after studying images taken by cameras on its remote-control vehicle, Deep Discoverer, off the coast of Puerto Rico in 2015.
All three of the creatures – since identified as Duobrachium sparksae – were spotted floating off the seabed nearly 2.5 miles underwater.
It moved like a hot air balloon apparently attached to the seabed by two tentacles, according to NOAA oceanographer, Mike Ford.
His colleague, Allen Collins, a marine biologist and jellyfish expert, added: “When I saw this thing, just thought that is so weird looking,” said with NOAA.
“It’s like a party balloon only instead of having one string hanging down, it’s got two little dangly bits and on each of those dangly bits is a tentacle.”
The creature is a species of ctenophore – or comb jelly – an invertebrate similar to a jellyfish.
Unable to bring the creature to the surface, scientists spent years examining the footage before concluding they had found a hitherto undiscovered species.
“We don’t have the same microscopes as we would in a lab, but the video can give us enough information to understand the morphology in detail, such as the location of their reproductive parts and other aspects,” Mr Collins added.
The NOAA team ruled out trying to bring the ctenophore to the surface, he added.
“Even if we had the equipment, there would have been very little time to process the animal because gelatinous animals don’t preserve very well. Ctenophores are even worse than jellyfish in this regard.”
Approximately 200 varieties of ctenophore have been identified to date, with a new species being discovered around once a year.
However the chances of finding another Duobrachium sparksae in the near future are pretty slim, with scientists predicting it could be up to a century before the species is encountered again.
A mariner was found clinging to his capsized boat after being missing for two days off Florida in what Coast Guard officials called an “incredible” rescue.
Stuart Bee, 62, disappeared off the state’s Atlantic coast on his 32ft motorboat Stingray after setting out on Friday.
Following a search he was eventually spotted, on Sunday, 86 miles off shore, by the crew of a 225ft container ship called Angeles.
Photographs taken by an Angeles crew member showed Mr Bee holding on for dear life to the last remaining part of his vessel’s hull that had not been submerged.
Iran has laid to rest a nuclear scientist in a funeral befitting a top “martyr”, vowing to redouble his work after an assassination pinned on arch-foe Israel.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh died on Friday from his wounds after assailants targeted his car and engaged in a gunfight with his bodyguards outside the capital, according to the defence ministry, heightening tensions once more between Tehran and its foes.
State television showed several high-ranking Iranian officials mourning the nuclear scientist’s death at the ceremony, including defence minister Amir Hatami and the head of the Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami.
The funeral, held at the ministry, got underway with a religious singer praising Mr Fakhrizadeh and alluding to the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, the revered 7th century holy figure from whom Shiite Muslims draw inspiration.
“If our enemies had not committed this heinous crime and spilled our dear martyr’s blood, he might have remained unknown,” Mr Hatami said in a speech.