First Thing: Georgia confirms Biden win while Trump targets Michigan

Molly Blackall
·5-min read
<span>Photograph: Megan Varner/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Megan Varner/Getty Images

Good morning.

Joe Biden has been confirmed as the winner of Georgia, after a recount demanded by Donald Trump. He becomes the first Democrat to take the state’s 16 electoral college votes since Bill Clinton in 1992, and edges closer to recording 80 million votes – with a 6-million-vote lead over Trump.

Trump meanwhile launched his latest assault on the election result, this time targeting Michigan. On Tuesday night, he called two Republican members of the county-level vote certification board, and the next day, the pair attempted to reverse their previous endorsement of a large chunk of the Michigan vote.

The president is also reportedly planning to fly in state lawmakers to meet him in Washington, all in an apparent attempt to derail the confirmation of Biden’s win in the state and its 16 electoral votes.

It was actions like these that led Biden to described Trump as one of the “most irresponsible presidents in American history”. Biden said he was not concerned that Trump’s refusal to concede the election would prevent him from entering the White House in January, but said it “sends a horrible message about who we are as a country”.

  • The Trump dynasty might be gaining another member. Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara, who is married to the president’s second son, is reportedly considering a 2022 senate run.

Fauci is back … and the coronavirus calvary is on its way

On Thursday, Dr Anthony Fauci spoke at the first press briefing of the White House coronavirus taskforce since July, where he promised “the cavalry is on the way” in the form of a coronavirus vaccine. He also revealed that taskforce members did not support a new national lockdown or school closures. Fauci was joined by the vice-president, Mike Pence, and the coronavirus response coordinator, Deborah Birx, but Trump did not make an appearance.

The briefing came as an ad from more than 100 US health systems was released, urging the public to wear masks to help exhausted health workers tackle the pandemic. More than 76,000 people are in hospital with coronavirus in the US, the highest number since the start of the crisis.

  • Don’t use the drug Trump took for Covid, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised. The president was quick to recommend Remdesivir after his successful treatment for coronavirus, but the health body says patients might be better off without it.

  • California has introduced a curfew for nearly all 40 million residents from this weekend. All non-essential work and gathering must stop from 10pm to 5am amid a stark rise in transmissions.

Trump’s US is finding few friends at the UN

Donald Trump addressing the general debate of the 75th session of the UN general assembly in New York in September.
Donald Trump addressing the general debate of the 75th session of the UN general assembly in New York in September. Photograph: Eskinder Debebe/UN/AFP/Getty

During Trump administration’s final days at the UN there has been “staggering” isolation for the US over social and health issues, and the country has been left with only a handful of allies. In one vote this week, the US was alone in backing its own amendment on childbirth, which called for the removal of references to the WHO.

The administration has been on a mission to remove mention of reproductive health from UN documents, which it sees as synonymous with abortion. Its only consistent allies during debates this week have been Russia, Belarus, Syria, Qatar and the Pacific island states of Nauru and Palau.

A European diplomat said:

It was more aggressive than last year. It’s not really surprising from the Trump administration, and we are used to this, but it was more aggressive now in that they teamed up with Russia, and they targeted African resolutions.”

In other news …

  • Climate activists have increased pressure on Biden with a demonstration at the Democratic headquarters. The group was protesting against the appointment of a key advisor who has connections to the oil and gas industry, and calling on Biden to make good on his promises of significant climate action.

  • Almost a million people in China have been given an experimental Covid vaccine that is still in its testing phase, the company behind the drug has said. It was released to select groups including government officials, students and workers travelling overseas in July, before it was proven to work.

  • An enormous US space telescope in the Puerto Rican jungle will be shut down after suffering two destructive mishaps in recent months. The Arecibo observatory, one of the largest in the world, featured in the James Bond movie GoldenEye.

Stat of the day: 338 older healthcare workers have died from Covid

A KHN and Guardian investigation has found that 338 frontline American health workers aged 65 or older have died from coronavirus, likely due to exposure at work. Some were in their 80s but had decided to continue working instead of taking retirement.

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A California lawmaker has announced that he will push to decriminalise psychedelics in the state. Scott Wiener said “the war on drugs has been an abject failure”, and that he was inspired by Oregon, which voted to decriminalise hard drugs, and the district of Colombia, which decriminalised psychedelics.

Last Thing: Another bad day for Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani also recited a scene from the 1992 Oscar-winning comedy My Cousin Vinny.
Giuliani also recited a scene from the 1992 Oscar-winning comedy My Cousin Vinny. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani hasn’t had an easy run of press conferences of late. His appearance at a landscaping company in Philadelphia’s industrial fringe, wedged between a sex shop and a crematorium, could comfortably be considered one of the greatest political blunders of all time. Giuliani’s luck continued yesterday, when he suffered a bizarre hair malfunction during his latest appearance, in which brown dye appeared to ooze down his cheek. If that wasn’t bad enough, the audio feed from the press conference suddenly featured unknown voices discussing “Rudy’s hair dye dripping down his face”.

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