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Joe Biden beats Donald Trump, is elected 46th president of the United States

Trump refuses to concede election, is jeered upon returning to White House after golfing; Netanyahu silent on Biden victory, reportedly ‘waiting for official results’

  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 6, 2020. (Angela Weiss/AFP)
    Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 6, 2020. (Angela Weiss/AFP)
  • Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest in front of the Clark County Election Department after the Nov. 3 elections, Nov. 6, 2020, in North Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)
    Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest in front of the Clark County Election Department after the Nov. 3 elections, Nov. 6, 2020, in North Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)
  • Journalists from all over the world wait for the result of the US Presidential elections on Black Lives Matter Plaza in front of the White House on November 6, 2020 in Washington (Eric BARADAT / AFP)
    Journalists from all over the world wait for the result of the US Presidential elections on Black Lives Matter Plaza in front of the White House on November 6, 2020 in Washington (Eric BARADAT / AFP)
  • Demonstrators supporting the continuing vote count gather outside the Philadelphia Convention Center three days after the presidential election polls closed as they await tabulation results, Nov. 6, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    Demonstrators supporting the continuing vote count gather outside the Philadelphia Convention Center three days after the presidential election polls closed as they await tabulation results, Nov. 6, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, below, protest across from supporters of President Donald Trump, above, in front of the Clark County Election Department, Nov. 6, 2020, in North Las Vegas, Nevada. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, below, protest across from supporters of President Donald Trump, above, in front of the Clark County Election Department, Nov. 6, 2020, in North Las Vegas, Nevada. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, November 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, November 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris arrive before Biden speaks, Nov. 6, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
    Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris arrive before Biden speaks, Nov. 6, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
  • Police separate US President Donald Trump supporters and pro-vote counting demonstrators outside the Philadelphia Convention Center three days after the presidential election polls closed as they await tabulation results, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    Police separate US President Donald Trump supporters and pro-vote counting demonstrators outside the Philadelphia Convention Center three days after the presidential election polls closed as they await tabulation results, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Times of Israel liveblogged results and developments in the US election, and other news, as they unfolded Saturday. Our new liveblog is here.

Biden increases lead over Trump in Nevada

Democrat Joe Biden has increased his lead over President Donald Trump in Nevada to 20,137 votes.

Results released from Democrat-heavy Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and three-quarters of Nevada’s population, along with two rural counties, put Biden at 627,104 votes and Trump at 606,967.

Biden’s lead nearly doubled from Thursday, when he was leading Trump by about 11,000 votes.

The Associated Press has not called the presidential race. Votes are still being counted in several battleground states.

Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria says his county has an additional 63,000 mail ballots to be processed over the next few days and 60,000 provisional ballots to be processed later.

Gloria said Clark County would release more results Friday afternoon but he said he did not know exactly how many ballots could be included in that release.

The state has said it will provide an update later Friday on how many ballots are yet to be counted statewide. On Thursday, they reported that number at 190,150.

— AP

Netanyahu said weighing nightly curfews in cities where virus numbers have spiked

As virus numbers spike in major cities including Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is weighing imposing nightly curfews, Channel 12.

Senior Health Ministry officials object to the idea, arguing that it won’t do enough to keep cases down, the network says.

Advocates race to find Georgia voters who cast bad ballots

Advocates for both presidential candidates are racing to find every person in Georgia who submitted a flawed ballot before time ran out to fix the paperwork in a race that could be decided by only a few thousand votes.

Counties are required to contact voters with problem ballots so they can be fixed. Both political parties also have those lists and were reaching out.

Cobb County Republican Party Chairman Jason Shepherd sent out a call Thursday for volunteers to help the state party, saying Republicans were trying to fix provisional ballots. State GOP Political Director Joe Proenza referred comment to a Trump campaign spokesperson who did not respond to an email.

Democrat Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump in Georgia by about 1,500 votes, but final results will not be known for days. Under Georgia law, a candidate can request a recount if the margin is less than one half of one percentage point.

The Associated Press has not declared a winner in Georgia because the race remains too close to call. The state’s 16 electoral votes could clinch the race for Biden in his quest for the 270 votes needed to win the presidency.

The secretary of state’s office says several thousand absentee ballots were still being counted. Another 8,900 ballots sent to military and overseas voters could be counted if received by the Friday deadline. Counties also have provisional ballots to review.

— AP

Gantz weighed being among 1st to congratulate Biden, decided against it — report

Defense Minister Benny Gantz considered being among the first world leaders to congratulate Democratic nominee Joe Biden on his apparent election victory, Channel 13 reports.

Ultimately, he has held off doing so for the time being due to fears that such a move would lead to a punitive response from Trump, who has yet to concede and will still be in office until January 20.

Senior White House adviser to CNN: ‘It’s over’

A senior adviser to the White House tells CNN, “it’s over.”

Nonetheless, CNN reports that Trump is instructing aides to double down and prepare for legal battles that will go through December.

GOP files Supreme Court suit regarding late-arriving votes in PA

The Pennsylvania GOP has asked the US Supreme Court for an emergency order to ensure no late-arriving mail-in ballots are added to the total vote count, ABC reports.

Trump currently trails Biden in the state by nearly 14,000 votes.

With Trump trailing Biden in the Pennsylvania vote count, state Republicans are asking the US Supreme Court for an emergency order to ensure that no late-arriving mail ballots are added to the totals and that they are instead segregated.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar has told ABC that those late-arriving ballots are not being included in the tally anyways, but the GOP suit argues that Boockvar’s directive is non-binding that some counties have not indicated explicitly that they won’t count late-arriving ballots.

The case is not expected to impact Biden’s lead in the decisive state.

Europe coronavirus deaths surge past 300,000

A second coronavirus wave has plowed on relentlessly through Europe which reported more than 12 million cases and 300,000 deaths as swathes of Italy returned to lockdown and the British city of Liverpool trialed city-wide testing.

The continent has become the new epicenter of the pandemic and a total of 300,688 deaths have been reported in Europe since the Covid-19 virus first hit, according to an AFP tally of health authorities figures.

Two-thirds of these fatalities have been registered in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain and Russia.

As countries raced to try and curb their spiking cases, they imposed new lockdowns despite signs of growing unrest, with several Italian regions shutting down and Greeks facing fresh stay-at-home orders from Saturday.

The United States is also struggling to rein in the pandemic, recording over 1,200 deaths and more than 120,000 infections between Wednesday and Thursday evening in another daily record, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

— AFP

GA Secretary of state: Georgia remains too close to call

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger tells reporters in a press conference that his state “remains too close to call” and that a recount is all but certain.

Biden currently leads by a 1,585 margin, with just several thousand more votes left to count.

Ethiopian PM announces airstrikes in country’s Tigray region

Ethiopia’s prime minister says his government has carried out airstrikes against the forces of the country’s well-armed Tigray region, asserting that strikes in multiple locations “completely destroyed rockets and other heavy weapons” and made a retaliatory attack impossible.

Abiy Ahmed’s evening announcement marks another escalation in clashes this week that experts say could slide one of Africa’s most powerful and populous countries into civil war. The conflict pits former allies in the nation’s ruling coalition, with the federal government and regional government now regarding each other as illegal.

There was no mention of casualties in what Abiy calls the “first round of operation” against the region’s government, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. He said the air force destroyed heavy weapons in Tigray’s capital, Mekele, and surrounding areas, alleging the TPLF “has the desire to use them.”

The operation will continue, Abiy says, “until the junta is made accountable by law.” And he warned the Tigray population: ”In order to avoid unexpected peril, I advise that you limit group movements in cities.”

There was no immediate response from the Tigray government, while the region is increasingly boxed in by movement restrictions and a six-month state of emergency imposed by the federal government.

The military operation launched early Wednesday after Abiy accused the Tigray government of a deadly attack on a military base. He asserted Friday that months of trying to resolve differences with the regional government have failed. Now, he said, the operation has “clear, limited and achievable objectives: to restore the rule of law and the constitutional order.”

And with that, the prime minister appears to close the door on dialogue, which some experts and diplomats say is desperately needed.

— AP

US agency pushes back on voter fraud claims

The federal agency that oversees US election security is pushing back at unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud without mentioning that President Donald Trump is making unfounded allegations about the vote count.

A new statement from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency notes that local election offices have detection measures that “make it highly difficult to commit fraud through counterfeit ballots.”

CISA, a component of the Department of Homeland Security, published the statement Friday on a section of its website devoted to dispelling rumors. It said it was countering a rumor about the role of DHS and CISA in the printing of ballots and auditing of results. Neither agency has a role in printing or auditing ballots. CISA principally helps local and state election departments protect themselves against cyberattacks.

CISA also put out a statement noting that the systems and processes used to tabulate votes and certify results “are protected by various safeguards that help ensure the accuracy of election results.”

The agency has been urging the public for weeks to be patient during the counting of results, which was slower this year in large part because of COVID-19 and the large number of mail-in ballots. It has made no comment on Trump saying without evidence that the ballot-counting process is unfair and corrupt.

— AP

Trump frustrated that not enough people are defending him on TV

US President Donald Trump is expressing frustration in the White House that not enough Republican allies are taking to the TV networks in order to defend him, CNN reports.

Rush Limbaugh insists he never conceded election for Trump

After appearing to acknowledge that US President Donald Trump has lost the election to Joe Biden, right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh walks it back.

“I’ve not conceded anything. All I’ve said was that the cable networks were waiting for Fox to do it!” he says on his radio show Rush Limbaugh Live.

Georgia confident votes being properly counted

Top Republican officials in Georgia say they are confident the secretary of state will ensure that ballots are properly counted.

The statement from GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and others comes a day after US President Donald Trump alleged without any details or evidence that election officials are trying to “steal the election” from him.

Trump said Thursday that the “election apparatus in Georgia is run by Democrats,” even though the top election official is a Republican whom he endorsed.

Democrat Joe Biden was leading Trump in Georgia by about 1,500 votes midday Friday. The Associated Press has not called the race for either candidate yet.

— AP

Some senior White House aides reportedly beginning to plan next career moves

CNN reports that some senior White House aides who aren’t as close to Trump have begun inquiring into their next career moves as the president’s chances for re-election have all but disappeared.

US stocks end best week in months with muted session

Wall Street stocks finish their best week in months with a muted session as Joe Biden inched closer to victory in the still-unresolved presidential election.

The broad-based S&P 500 finished at 3,509.44, down less than 0.1 percent for the session, but up 7.3 percent for the week, its best since April.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.2 percent to 28,323.40, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.4 percent at 13,254.32.

— AFP

Bannon lawyer quits fraud case after inflamatory remarks

A lawyer for US President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has quit defending him in a federal fraud case a day after Bannon made inflammatory comments about Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

In a letter dated today, defense attorney William Burck told a federal court judge in New York City that he was withdrawing from the case. He did not give a reason why. Reached by email, Burck declined to discuss the decision.

The lawyer quits after Bannon suggested on an online broadcast that Fauci and Wray should be beheaded for being disloyal to the president. The remarks prompted Twitter to permanently suspend Bannon’s account.

“I’d put the heads on pikes” as a warning to federal bureaucrats, Bannon said on video. “You either get with the program or you are gone.”

Bannon, 66, is facing charges he ripped off Trump supporters as an organizer of a group called “We Build The Wall” that portrayed itself as eager to help the president build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors have accused Bannon and co-defendants of misappropriating money from the group, which raised $25 million from thousands of donors who thought their cash would be used to build the wall.

Prosecutors declined comment on Friday. There was no new lawyer for Bannon named in the court record.

— AP

Missouri poll worker kept COVID diagnosis mostly to herself

A Missouri election judge who came to work despite testing positive for the coronavirus died in her sleep after a 15-hour shift at the polls, the director of her county’s election office says

The woman worked Election Day as an election judge supervisor at Memorial Hall in Blanchette Park in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles. Officials don’t yet know if COVID-19 was the cause of death. County officials didn’t release her name, citing privacy laws.

She tested positive on Oct. 30 but ignored advice to isolate and worked alongside nine other election judges. More than 1,800 people voted at the precinct. Judges were required to wear masks and were mostly behind a plastic glass barrier.

St. Charles County Election Authority Director Kurt Bahr said in a phone interview that the woman had previously worked several other elections, as had her sister at a different polling site. It was the sister who called Bahr’s office Wednesday to let him know of the woman’s death.

But Bahr says the sister didn’t know of the COVID-19 diagnosis.

“She was just as shocked,” Bahr says. “The family was unaware she had tested positive. As far as I understand, the only person that knew was the spouse of the judge.”

Bahr says that as an election judge, the woman would have shown up around 5 a.m. to help prepare the polling place; worked the entire time the polls were open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; then spent about an hour wrapping up.

She died in her sleep either late Tuesday or early Wednesday, Bahr says.

— AP

Study finds links between polling errors and states with strong QAnon support

Initial results from a study carried out by University of Southern California researchers indicate a strong statistical correlation between state polls that downplayed US President Donald Trump’s re-election chances and those with higher-than-average amounts of support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, the New York Times reports.

“The higher the support for QAnon in each state, the more the polls underestimated the support for Trump,” USC’s Emilio Ferrara tells the Times.

QAnon advances a baseless theory that US President Donald Trump is seeking to take down a network of pedophiles deep inside the government. Trump has not denounced the theory.

Biden’s slim lead over Trump in Georgia grows to 4,235 votes

Democratic nominee Joe Biden has slightly expanded his slim lead over President Donald Trump in Georgia, as more ballots are counted in the southern US state.

Biden’s lead over Trump is now at 4,235 votes.

Pennsylvania call not expected in coming hours

While Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump by over 14,000 votes in Pennsylvania, it is unlikely that major networks will be calling the state for the democratic nominee in the coming several hours.

The Associated Press says it won’t make a call until Biden’s lead reaches 35,000 votes, which is 0.5% and the threshold for avoiding an automatic recount in Pennsylvania.

The state tally is expected to be updated with 7,000 more votes from Allegheny County where Pittsburgh is within the hour, but that still won’t be enough to stretch Biden’s lead to 35,000.

Biden is said to address the nation on Friday night. The Trump campaign said earlier Friday that “this election is not over.”

Trump urges Biden not to claim victory as Democrat’s lead in PA grows

US President Donald Trump urges Joe Biden not to declare victory as the Democratic nominee prepares to address the nation in two hours.

Biden’s lead over Trump in Nevada grows slightly

Democrat Joe Biden’s lead over President Donald Trump in Nevada has grown slightly, putting the former vice president ahead by 22,657 votes in the battleground state.

The results this afternoon are mail-in ballots from Democrat-heavy Clark County, which include Las Vegas and three-quarters of Nevada’s population.

Biden has 632,558 votes, and Trump has 609,901. Vote counting in the state — and several other battlegrounds — is continuing.

The fresh batch of results is among 63,000 mail ballots that Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria said this morning that his workers were starting to process. He expected the bulk would be processed by Sunday.

Gloria has an additional 60,000 provisional ballots to be processed later.

— AP

CNN: Trump telling advisers he may not pull out a win

CNN quotes a White House source saying Trump “is starting to acknowledge to advisers around him that he may not be able to pull out a come-from-behind victory.”

This does not mean Trump is about to concede or abandon legal challenges, the source stresses, but the president is starting to be “realistic.”

The source pointed to Trump’s recent tweet telling Biden not to “wrongfully claim the office of the president,” and described it as very toned down, since Trump added the relatively mild: “I could make that claim also.”

If the president loses not only Pennsylvania but also Arizona and Georgia, the source reportedly adds, his legal challenges in Pennsylvania would be redundant since Biden would have more than 270 electoral college votes anyway.

“Not a puff of white smoke from the West Wing,” sums up CNN. But a certain new “realism.”

Supreme Court’s Alito grants GOP request to separate late Pennsylvania ballots

US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has ordered county elections officials in Pennsylvania to keep separate mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day. The state’s top elections official already had ordered those ballots be kept apart.

The order comes in response to a plea from the state Republican Party as Democrat Joe Biden inches ahead of President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania in the presidential race.

Alito, acting on his own, says he is motivated in part by the Republicans’ assertion that they can’t be sure elections officials are complying with guidance issued by Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat.

The justice handles emergency appeals from Pennsylvania. He orders a response from the state by Saturday afternoon and says he has referred the matter to the full court for further action.

The order is related to an ongoing Republican appeal to the Supreme Court to try to keep ballots received in the mail after Election Day from being counted. The state’s top court granted a three-day extension, and the Supreme Court refused to block it.

The Associated Press has not declared a winner in the state.

— AP

Biden’s lead over Trump in Pennsylvania further grows

Democrat Joe Biden’s lead over US President Donald Trump is growing in battleground Pennsylvania.

By Friday evening, the Democrat holds a lead of over 19,500 votes out of more than 6.5 million ballots cast. That’s an edge of about 0.29%. State law dictates that a recount must be held if the margin between the two candidates is less than 0.5%.

The Associated Press has not declared a winner in the state.

The Pennsylvania secretary of state’s website says there are 102,541 more mail ballots that needed to be counted, including many from Allegheny County, a Democratic area that is home to Pittsburgh, and the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia County.

Additionally, there are potentially tens of thousands of provisional ballots that remain to be tabulated, though an exact number remained unclear. Those ballots will be counted after officials verify their eligibility to be included.

Pennsylvania is among a handful of battleground states that Trump and Biden are narrowly contesting as they seek the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

— AP

US daily COVID cases hit record for third day, topping 127,000

WASHINGTON — The United States has set a third straight daily record for new COVID-19 infections, notching more than 127,000 cases, John Hopkins University reports.

Meanwhile, the death toll over the past 24 hours was 1,149, the Baltimore-based university says.

This is far below the levels of spring when the pandemic first hit, but it is still the fourth day in a row with more than 1,000 deaths — a rate not seen since August.

As of Friday evening, the US — the worst hit country in the world in terms of deaths and total cases — had more than 236,000 coronavirus-related fatalities and 9.7 million known infections.

— AFP

Incendiary texts sent out in Pennsylvania traced to outfit run by top Trump aide

BOSTON — A texting company run by one of President Donald Trump’s top campaign officials sent out thousands of targeted, anonymous text messages urging supporters to rally where votes were being counted in Philadelphia yesterday, falsely claiming Democrats were trying to steal the presidential election.

The messages directed Trump fans to converge at a downtown intersection where hundreds of protesters from the opposing candidates’ camps faced off Thursday afternoon. Pennsylvania is a crucial battleground state where former vice president Joe Biden’s supporters believe the outstanding ballots will put him over the top in the presidential election.

“This kind of message is playing with fire, and we are very lucky that it does not seem to have driven more conflict,” says John Scott-Railton, senior researcher at the University of Toronto’s online watchdog Citizen Lab. Scott-Railton helped track down the source.

The texts were sent using phone numbers leased to the text-messaging platform Opn Sesame, said two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition they not be further identified. The company’s CEO is Gary Coby, the Trump campaign’s digital director. It provides text-messaging services to GOP clients including the Republican National Committee.

“ALERT: Radical Liberals & Dems are trying to steal this election from Trump! We need YOU!” the text said, directing recipients to “show your support” on a street corner near the Philadelphia Convention Center where votes were being counted and tensions were running high.

A top Trump campaign official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says the message doesn’t come from the campaign. Because Opn Sesame is used by multiple customers, none of whom the company would identify, it can’t be determined exactly who sent the message. Coby declines to comment.

— AP

This image provided by Chris Bray on November 6, 2020, shows a message he received Thursday via a texting company run by Gary Coby, one of President Donald Trump’s top campaign officials. (Chris Bray via AP)

Biden’s lead continues to grow in Pennsylvania, narrows in Arizona

Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania over US President Donald Trump grows to over 27,000 votes, as counting continues in key battleground states.

In Arizona, meanwhile, Biden’s lead shrinks to 29,861 votes.

Biden says ‘we’re going to win this race’ as leads in Pennsylvania, Nevada grow

Though the US presidential election has yet to be called, Democratic nominee Joe Biden says the current vote tallies show “we’re going to win this race.”

Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden notes his growing margins in Pennsylvania and Nevanda, as well as his lead in Georgia.

“One of the things I’m especially proud of is how well we’ve done across America,” he says.

Biden predicts he’ll hang on in Arizona and touts his projected victories in Wisconsin and Michigan, which Trump won in 2016.

He also says those who voted for him “gave him a mandate for action.”

Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows diagnosed with COVID-19

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows has been diagnosed with the coronavirus as the nation sets daily records for confirmed cases for the pandemic.

Two senior administration officials confirm that Meadows tested positive for the virus, which has killed more than 236,000 Americans so far this year.

Meadows traveled with Trump in the run-up to Election Day and last appeared in public early Wednesday morning without a mask as Trump falsely declared victory in the vote count. He had been one of the close aides around Trump when the president came down with the virus more than a month ago, but was tested daily and maintained his regular work schedule.

— AP

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks on a phone on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, October 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Biden vows to act against pandemic on ‘day one’

Joe Biden vows to act against the pandemic on “day one” if he wins the presidential election in the world’s worst-hit nation.

More than 127,000 new infections are reported in the US, the third straight day of record cases, as votes from the bitterly fought presidential election are still being counted.

No winner has been declared but Biden promises that he would not waste any time in addressing the pandemic if he is victorious.

“I want everyone, everyone to know on day one we’re going to put our plan to control this virus into action,” the Democrat says.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks Nov. 6, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

US cases are fast approaching 10 million, with more than 236,000 deaths, and the pandemic has hammered the world’s biggest economy, leaving millions jobless.

US President Donald Trump has been a vocal opponent of lockdown measures, citing their impact on the economy, and has repeatedly clashed with his own government’s experts over coronavirus policy.

Unlike Biden, Trump held massive campaign rallies ahead of the November 3 vote, and had insisted that the US was “rounding the turn” on the virus despite the surges.

— AFP

Greece goes into lockdown amid relentless 2nd wave of virus

Greece goes into lockdown as the nation reels from a second, relentless coronavirus wave.

Under the measures, Greeks can only leave their homes if they make an official request via mobile phone and then receive authorization.

Only “essential shops” including supermarkets and pharmacies can stay open.

The measures follow the imposition of restrictions in Italy, France, Ireland and Britain, while Switzerland is also being hit hard by the virus.

Poland also imposes fresh measures, closing most stores in shopping centers, with some exceptions such as grocery stores, pharmacies and hair salons.

The government is also closing cinemas, theatres, galleries and other cultural institutions and making hotels available for business travelers only.

— AFP

Traffic jams a main road in central Athens, as at the background stands the ancient temple of Zeus, on Nov. 6, 2020, one day before the new national lockdown starts (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Man killed after car crashes, bursts into flames during Haifa police chase

A man is killed when a car crashes and ignites during a police chase in the northern city of Haifa.

Five people have been arrested in connection with the incident, police say.

Police officers identified the vehicle travelling erratically and against the flow of the traffic in the early hours of the morning.

A checkpoint failed to stop the car and the chase continued until the car crashed into a pillar and caught fire.

A number of people escape from the vehicle but one person is killed. Police say the man’s body “is found near the vehicle.”

The scene after a crash in the northern city of Haifa following a police chase, November 7, 2020 (Israel Police)

Murdoch’s Fox News, New York Post start distancing themselves from Trump

Fox News and the New York Post, magnate Rupert Murdoch’s main media outlets, start distancing themselves from Donald Trump as the US election vote counting drama drags on — a first since the president came to power and a potential turning point.

Fox News infuriated Trump and his people on election night by calling Arizona for Democrat Joe Biden.

Since that night, Fox News steps very carefully around allegations of massive vote fraud coming from the Trump campaign and the man himself.

“We just haven’t seen it. It hasn’t been presented to us,” Fox News anchor Brett Baier says on the air.

Laura Ingraham, one of the key presenters on the network with a show considered key to Trump supporters, acknowledges that the era may be coming to an end.

— With AFP

Biden’s lead in key state of Georgia increases to 7,248

Democrat Joe Biden is increasing his lead over US President Donald Trump in the state of Georgia.

Biden overtakes Trump by 7,248 votes after adding to his tally in Fulton County, which includes most of the city of Atlanta, with over 98% of the state’s ballots now counted, the New York Times reports.

Trump’s lead dwindled after Election Day when state officials began processing mail-in ballots, a form of voting that has skewed heavily in Biden’s favor after Trump spent months claiming — without proof — that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

If there is less than a 0.5% difference between Biden’s and Trump’s vote totals, state law dictates that a recount must be held.

A Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t won Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.

— With AP

Iran urges next US administration to ‘learn’ that sanctions don’t work

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says he hopes the next US administration will have “learned” that sanctions cannot make Tehran bow to American policy.

“We hope the three-year experience will be a lesson for America’s next administration to abide by laws and regulations and return to its commitments,” Rouhani says in a televised speech.

“Our people have faced economic terrorism for the past three years and shown unparalleled resistance and patience.”

Rouhani says Iran would “continue its resistance and patience until the other side bows before laws and regulations.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking in a pre-recorded message played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters in New York, September 22, 2020. (UNTV via AP)

The Islamic republic hopes that “those imposing sanctions realize their path was wrong and that they will not achieve their goals in any way.”

US President Donald Trump has applied a “maximum pressure” policy and punishing sanctions against Iran since his 2018 withdrawal from a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran.

— AFP

Egyptians vote in 2nd stage of parliamentary election

Egyptians begin voting in the second and final stage of the country’s parliamentary elections, after a relatively low turnout in the first stage that embarrassed the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Polling centers open in 13 of Egypt’s 27 provinces, including the capital Cairo and the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.

More than 31 million people are eligible to vote in this stage.

Critics say the 596-seat legislature will largely resemble the previous one, which was little more than a rubber stamp for the president’s policies, leaving the former military general with almost unchecked powers.

— AP

6 countries report coronavirus on mink farms, WHO says

Denmark and the United States are among six countries that have reported new coronavirus cases linked to mink farms, the World Health Organization says.

Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden are the other nations to have discovered SARS-CoV-2 in minks, WHO says in a statement.

Denmark has imposed strict measures on the north of the country after warning that a mutation of the virus had jumped from minks to humans and infected 12 people.

Copenhagen has warned the mutation could threaten the effectiveness of any future vaccine and has ordered the slaughter of all the estimated 15-17 million minks in the country.

— AFP

Seychelles said set to announce Israelis can visit without quarantine

The Seychelles will reportedly announce next week that Israelis can visit the Indian Ocean islands without needing to quarantine.

Channel 12 news reports travelers from Israel will need to present a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of departure, and fill in an online health declaration.

The cost of processing the entry application is reportedly said to be $45, and permission to enter the country will need to be granted before leaving Israel.

Earlier in the year it was reported that the archipelagic island nation would allow Israelis to visit without the need to self-isolate, but the plans were shelved after Israel’s virus rates surged.

Footprints in the sand, taken on a beach on Mahe island, Seychelles, Friday March 1, 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

89,282 mail-in ballots remain uncounted in key battleground of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has 89,282 mail-in ballots left to count, the state website reports.

Of those, Allegheny County, which covers Pittsburgh, has around 20,000 ballots to be tallied, says County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

“[It’s] painstaking because they have to be done by hand so they can match them up to make sure that those votes did not already get counted,” he tells CNN.

Biden leads Trump by over 28,000 votes in the key battleground state.

Lebanon’s president asks for proof after US sanctions his son-in-law, who is a Hezbollah ally

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s president has asked for proof against his son-in-law and ex-cabinet minister Gebran Bassil to justify US sanctions for alleged corruption, the presidency says.

The sanctions announced Friday are the first against a senior Christian ally of Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite group long targeted by US sanctions and blacklisted as a terrorist organization.

President Michel Aoun “has asked his foreign minister to obtain the proof and documents that pushed the US Treasury to direct accusations against lawmaker Gebran Bassil,” his office says on Twitter.

Aoun also stressed “the necessity of handing over the documents to the Lebanese judiciary to take the necessary measures,” it says.

A source at the presidency says the request was made as “Bassil is a Lebanese lawmaker and (former) minister accused of graft.”

“If there were evidence against him, the Lebanese judiciary should follow up on the issue,” the source says.

Bassil, 50, has been dubbed by many as the “shadow president.”

He is married to the president’s daughter and heads the Free Patriotic Movement founded by Aoun, which together with its allies holds a parliamentary majority.

— AFP

Iran judiciary says jailed rights lawyer Sotoudeh given prison furlough

TEHRAN, Iran — Jailed human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been granted temporary release, the Iranian judiciary’s Mizan Online news website reports today.

“Sotoudeh… has been released temporarily with the consent of the prosecutor in charge of women’s prisons,” the website says.

The UN had called on Iran to free Sotoudeh, a winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize, as well as other political prisoners excluded from a push to empty jails amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawyer was moved in late October from Tehran’s Evin prison to a women’s detention center outside the capital, while her family insisted she needed hospital treatment.

In August she announced she was going on hunger strike to demand the release of political prisoners and focus attention on their plight due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But health issues prompted the 57-year-old Sotoudeh to stop the hunger strike more than 45 days after she started it, her husband Reza Khandan said in September.

Sotoudeh was sentenced in 2019 to serve 12 years in jail for defending women arrested for protesting compulsory headscarf laws in the Islamic Republic.

— AFP

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in her office in Tehran, Iran, on November 1, 2008. (AP/Arash Ashourinia)

Trump again makes unfounded claims of illegality in vote counting: ‘BIG CHANGES TOOK PLACE!’

US President Donald Trump is again making unsubstantiated claims of impropriety in the counting of ballots in key battleground states, as the continued tallying of ballots shows his Democratic challenger Joe Biden inching closer to victory in the 2020 race.

In a series of tweets, Trump claims “hundreds of thousands of Votes were illegally not allowed to be OBSERVED” and that this was responsible for the disappearance of his election night lead in states such as Pennsylvania, where the counting of mail-in ballots has put Biden ahead by over 28,000 votes.

“Bad things took place during those hours where LEGAL TRANSPARENCY was viciously & crudely not allowed,” he says. “BAD THINGS HAPPENED INSIDE. BIG CHANGES TOOK PLACE!”

Shortly after Trump puts out the tweets, Twitter labels them potentially “misleading,” requiring users to click to read them.

Georgia poll worker in hiding after false social media claims

ATLANTA — With all eyes on Georgia’s razor-thin presidential vote margin, falsehoods are swirling on social media about supposed ballot counting irregularities there.

Among the most widely shared examples is a video that has racked up millions of views on Twitter. It claims to show a poll worker crumpling up an absentee ballot.

As it turns out, it shows no such thing. Richard Barron, the Fulton County elections director, said yesterday that the poll worker seen in the video was discarding paper instructions, not a ballot, which would have been much larger than the paper seen in the video.

Barron also said the worker was in hiding after being harassed online due to the false claims.

Here’s a look at the facts:

CLAIM: A video showing the ballot count in Fulton County, Georgia, shows fraud because a poll worker processing absentee ballots crumples one up.

THE FACTS: Election officials say the poll worker in the video did not crumple or discard a ballot.

“It’s been questioned whether the poll worker featured in the video was discarding one of those ballots. The answer is no, undeniably no,” Barron told reporters at a Friday evening news conference at the Fulton County elections warehouse in Atlanta. “At no time was the poll worker able to extract a ballot.”

— AP

Foot Locker, Nike stores fined for opening to customers a day early

Foot Locker and Nike stores at the Tel Aviv Port are fined NIS 5,000 a pop for opening to customers, according to the Kan public broadcaster, a day before many shops will be allowed to reopen as part of a rollback of coronavirus restrictions.

Hundreds in Baghdad demand US troops leave Iraq

BAGHDAD — Several hundred protesters gather in the Iraqi capital to demand US troops leave the country in accordance with a parliament vote earlier this year.

“We will choose resistance if parliament’s vote is not ratified!” reads one of the banners at the demonstration, which took place near an entrance to the high-security Green Zone, where the US embassy and other foreign missions are located.

Others carried signs bearing the logo of the Popular Mobilization Forces, a state-sponsored network of armed groups including many supported by Iraq’s powerful neighbor Iran.

Following a US strike on Baghdad in January that killed top Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani and the PMF’s deputy head, outraged Iraqi parliamentarians voted to oust all foreign forces deployed in the country.

The US has sent thousands of troops to Iraq since 2014 to lead an international coalition helping Baghdad fight the Islamic State jihadist group.

Washington has drawn down those forces in recent months to around 3,000, and other coalition countries have also shrunk their footprint.

Starting in October 2019, rockets regularly targeted those troops as well as diplomats at the US embassy.

Over the summer, there was a marked increase in attacks against coalition logistics convoys using roadside bombs.

Enraged by the ongoing attacks, the US in late September threatened to close its Baghdad embassy and carry out bombing raids against hard-line elements of the PMF.

— AFP

Supporters of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces pose before a banner showing a montage of (L to R) slain Iraqi PMF commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Lebanese Hezbollah military chief Imad Mughniyeh; during a demonstration outside the entrance to the Iraqi capital Baghdad’s highly-fortified Green Zone on November 7, 2020, demanding the departure of remaining US forces from Iraq. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)

Trump at his golf club outside Washington as vote count drags on

STERLING, Virginia — US President Donald Trump left the White House for the first time since Election Day, heading to his golf club in suburban Virginia as the vote count drags on with Joe Biden leading the Republican incumbent in decisive states.

After appearing twice at the White House in recent days to address the nation, Trump leaves the presidential residence for the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia.

Biden stands on the verge of winning the White House — a victory in battleground state Pennsylvania, where he is leading, would give him enough votes in the Electoral College, which determines the presidency.

Trump however is claiming: “I won this election, by a lot!” — a claim that is flagged by Twitter.

— AFP

US President Donald Trump walks to the motorcade on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on November 7, 2020, as he departs for an undisclosed location. (Andrew Caballero-Reyolds/AFP)

Weekly anti-Netanyahu protests held across Israel

Israelis are rally at sites across the country for the weekly protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his indictment on graft charges and handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe Biden projected to be 46th US president as win in Pennsylvania called

Democrat Joe Biden has won Pennsylvania, surpassing the 270 electoral vote threshold to take the White House and become the 46th president of the United States.

Biden also carried Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan on his path to the presidency, flipping states that President Donald Trump won in 2016.

Pennsylvania was a must-win state for Trump.

The 77-year-old Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and sought to contrast his working-class roots with the affluent Trump’s by casting the race as “Scranton versus Park Avenue.”

Biden’s victory came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes that delayed the processing of some ballots.

Trump is the first incumbent president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.

— AP

502 new coronavirus cases, 5 more deaths reported over Shabbat

The Health Ministry reports 502 new coronavirus cases over Shabbat, bringing the number of infections since the pandemic began to 318,904.

The death toll stands at 2,649, with five more fatalities reported.

The number of active cases further drops to 8,817, with 323 people in serious condition, including 153 on ventilators. Another 102 are in serious condition and the rest have mild or no symptoms.

Of the 30,644 tests performed yesterday, 2.3 percent came back positive. The ministry says 4,762 tests were performed today so far, 2.4% of which are positive. Testing rates typically fall off on weekends.

Fox projects presidential win for Biden, calling both Pennsylvania and Nevada

Fox News calls both Pennsylvania and Nevada for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, projecting him as the winner of the 2020 US presidential race against incumbent Donald Trump.

Numerous other leading outlets — including now the New York Times — already called Pennsylvania for Biden, but not Nevada.

Opposition Leader Lapid congratulates Biden on US presidential win

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid congratulates Joe Biden after the Democratic nominee was projected to be the next US president, defeating Donald Trump.

“Congratulations to the president-elect, my friend Joe Biden and his vice president-elect Kamala Harris. The relationship between Israel [and] the US is based on shared values and interests that I’m sure will be at the heart of your work,” Lapid, who heads the Yesh Atid party, says in a statement.

He adds: “I except to work with the new administration and with members of both parties in Congress to deepen and strengthen the special relations between Israel and the United States.”

Trump on Biden’s projected presidential win: ‘The election is far from over’

US President Donald Trump issues a statement after his Democratic rival Joe Biden is projected as the winner in the 2020 race, saying “the election is far from over.”

“We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him: they don’t want the truth to be exposed. The simple fact is this election is far from over,” Trump states.

“Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor. In Pennsylvania, for example, our legal observers were not permitted meaningful access to watch the counting process. Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.

“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated. The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots. This is the only way to ensure the public has full confidence in our election. It remains shocking that the Biden campaign refuses to agree with this basic principle and wants ballots counted even if they are fraudulent, manufactured, or cast by ineligible or deceased voters. Only a party engaged in wrongdoing would unlawfully keep observers out of the count room – and then fight in court to block their access.

“So what is Biden hiding? I will not rest until the American People have the honest vote count they deserve and that Democracy demands.”

Biden on projected election win: ‘America, I’m honored that you have chosen me’

Joe Biden issues his first response to being declared the projected winner of the US presidential race against Donald Trump.

“America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country,” he says in a statement released on his Twitter.

He also adds the title president-elect to his account.

Blue and White minister congratulates Biden, Harris on election win

Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn congratulates US president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris on their election win.

“I’m sure that that the close and strong bond between the United States and Israel will get stronger under a Biden administration,” he writes on Twitter.

Nissenkorn is a member of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party.

Kamala Harris says she, Biden have a lot of work ahead after election win

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris says she and President-elect Joe Biden have a lot of work to do.

Harris makes the comments in a tweet, shortly after Biden clinched the presidency by winning Pennsylvania.

She says, “This election is about so much more than Joe Biden or me. It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

The California senator makes history with her election as vice president. She is the first woman, the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the office.

— AP

AP projects Biden as winner in Nevada

The Associated Press is now projecting Joe Biden has also one Nevada, joining Fox News, which earlier called the Silver State for the US president-elect.

Kamala Harris phones Biden after election win: ‘We did it’

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris phones President-elect Joe Biden following their election win.

“We did it. We did it, Joe. You’re going to be the next president of the United States,” she is heard saying in a video shared on her Twitter account.

Bennett congratulates Biden on election win; Meretz chief hails end to ‘4 years of an evil spirit’

Yamina party head Naftali Bennett becomes the first prominent right-wing MK to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory in the 2020 US presidential race.

In an interview with Channel 12 news, Bennett says he’s convinced Biden is committed to ensuring Israel’s security.

He also hails Donald Trump, who has high favorability marks in Israel, noting some of the US president’s moves vis-a-vis the Jewish state during his time in office, such as moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.

MK Nitzan Horowitz, head of the left-wing Meretz party, also congratulates Biden, while striking a markedly different tone on Trump.

“After 4 years of an evil spirit, lies and thuggishness, the time has come for honest and decent leadership,” Horowitz writes on Twitter.

ADL, AJC congratulate Biden on election victory

The Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee congratulate US President-elect Joe Biden on his election win.

“This has been an election year without precedent in American history, not only due to the challenges of the pandemic, but also because it took place in the shadow of record levels of anti-Semitism and rising hate, the mainstreaming of online conspiracy theories such as QAnon, and attempts by domestic extremists to undermine the voting process,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt is quoted saying in a statement.

He adds: “And yet, despite the challenges, Americans turned out in historic numbers. The unprecedented level of civic participation is a powerful testament to the enduring strength of our democracy and the right of every American to have a voice and a vote.”

Greenblatt also issues a call for unity, saying he hopes “all Americans — liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, affiliated and unaffiliated — can unite after this bitter season and find common ground in working together to solve the myriad challenges that face our nation and the world.”

David Harris, the head of the AJC, says his group looks forward to working with Biden on issues important to it.

“For 36 years as a US senator, and eight years as vice president of the United States, Biden has demonstrated a profound interest in advancing many of AJC’s concerns. AJC has long known Biden and worked closely with his office while he was a senator and then as the vice president,” Harris says in a statement.

Nearly two dozen progressive Jewish groups also release statements hailing his victory in the race against incumbent President Donald Trump.

PLO official on US election result: ‘America Detrumped!’

A senior Palestinian official is cheering Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the US presidential race.

“America Detrumped!” PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi tweets. “Trumpism must be carefully scrutinized & remedied to restore the human, moral & legal equilibrium within and beyond the US. Such phenomena do not emerge from a vacuum. Now is the time for holistic & bold therapeutics.”

The Palestinian Authority has boycotted the Trump administration since its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and fumed over numerous moves seen as favoring Israel.

UK’s Johnson congratules Biden, Harris on election win

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulates Joe Biden “on his election” as US president and Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris “on her historic achievement.”

“The US is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security,” Johnson tweets.

— AFP

Former UK chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks dies at 72

Former UK chief rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks died this morning, his official Twitter account announces.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. (Blake Ezra/Courtesy)

Sacks, 72, revealed last month that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Sacks served as chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth from 1991 until 2013 and was among the most prominent expositors of Orthodox Judaism in the world, having authored dozens of books addressing contemporary spiritual and moral issues.

Related, from our archive — Lord Sacks wonders: Why have the Jews ‘forgotten what we’re all about’?

His most recent book, “Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times,” was published in September.

Obama says he ‘could not be prouder’ of Biden, Harris after election win

Former US president Barack Obama says he “could not be prouder” to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

In a statement, Obama says Biden has “got what it takes to be President and already carries himself that way,” because he will enter the White House facing “a series of extraordinary challenges no incoming President ever has.”

Acknowledging that the election revealed the nation remains bitterly divided, Obama says, “I know he’ll do the job with the best interests of every American at heart, whether or not he had their vote.”

He adds: “I encourage every American to give him a chance and lend him your support.”

Biden served as Obama’s vice president for two terms.

Two other former Democratic presidents are also offering their congratulations to Biden and Harris.

Bill Clinton tweets that “America has spoken and democracy has won.” The 42nd president also predicted Biden and Harris would “serve all of us and bring us all together.”

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, says in a statement that he and his wife, Rosalynn, are “proud” of the Democrats’ “well-run campaign and seeing the positive change they bring to our nation.”

Neither Clinton nor Carter mentioned President Donald Trump in their congratulatory remarks.

Biden was a young Delaware senator when Carter served as president from 1977 to 1981. Biden had risen in the ranks to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman by Clinton’s presidency in the 1990s and led confirmation hearings for Clinton’s two Supreme Court nominees: Justice Stephen Breyer and the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

— AP

First MK in Netanyahu’s Likud party congratulates Biden on election win

MK Nir Barkat congratulates Joe Biden on his win in the US presidential race, becoming the first lawmaker in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party to do so.

“I congratulate Joe Biden… and believe that under his leadership the courageous and positive relationship between the two countries will continue,” Barkat writes on Twitter.

He also thanks Trump for “his incredible contribution to the State of Israel” during his tenure.

“You will be forever engraved in history of Israel as a true friend of ours,” Barkat says.

France’s Macron congratulates Biden, says, ‘Let’s work together!’

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron congratulates US President-elect Joe Biden and his Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their election victory.

“We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!” Macron tweets after major US media networks announced Biden’s victory over incumbent Donald Trump.

— AFP

Islamic Jihad predicts little change in US policy vis-a-vis Palestinians after Biden win

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group is shrugging off Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump in the US presidential race, predicting it won’t lead to any change in US policy.

“We’re not betting on a change in Washington’s policies towards the Palestinian cause. We’ve had bitter experiences with successive American administrations,” it says in a statement carried by official media.

GOP Senator Mitt Romney congratulates Joe Biden on election win

Senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, is congratulating US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their election victory.

The Utah Republican tweets that he and his wife know Biden and Harris “as people of good will and admirable character.” He says, “We pray that God may bless them in the days and years ahead.”

Romney, President Donald Trump’s most vocal critic within the Republican Party, said yesterday that Trump was “damaging the cause of freedom” and inflaming “destructive and dangerous passions” by claiming, without foundation, that the election was rigged and stolen from him.

Trump has so far refused to concede and is promising unspecified legal challenges.

Romney had said earlier in the year that he wasn’t voting for Trump. He didn’t say for whom he did vote, however.

— AP

Biden win met with protest, tense moments and some celebration

A smattering of protests break out after former US vice president Joe Biden won the presidency, but they are mostly peaceful after days of tense standoffs and armed protesters gathering nightly outside offices where workers are counting the votes.

In a scene that might portend what is to come, a group of about 50 Trump supporters and a smaller group of marchers carrying Black Lives Matter flags converge on the Michigan State Capitol where they push, shove and shout at one another in a tense standoff. But within moments of the race being called, a few from both sides broke into prayers and at least one pair hugged.

Tensions grow again when more Trump supporters arrive on the scene and BLM members retreat through the growing crowd.

So far, though, celebrations and revelry are carrying the day.

In Brooklyn, several hundred people are heard erupting in cheers and dancing in the streets and the air is filled with honking horns. There also is a banging of pots and pans. One car stops in the middle of the street outside Barclays Center, the driver gets out and jumps on the hood of his car, motioning for people to come in to the street; the car is soon swarmed by people cheering.

In the nation’s capital, people stream into Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, waving signs and taking cellphone pictures.

It is in marked contrast to days of turbulence since the polls closed on Tuesday and several key battleground states — most notably, Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia — pored through thousands of ballots to determine the winner.

But tensions remain high among supporters of President Donald Trump, who believe unsubstantiated claims that fraud has denied him a second term.

“This election has not been called!” yells Jake Angeli, a regular at Trump rallies, who stands outside a tabulation center in Phoenix. “Don’t believe that lie! They got their hands caught in the cookie jar and we’re going to the Supreme Court!”

“Trump always looks like he’s going to lose. And then he wins, “ Angeli says.

— AP

Trump supporters demonstrating during the election results, at right, pray with a counter protester after the presidential election was called for Joe Biden outside the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, November 7, 2020. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Senior Abbas aide hails Biden win: ‘The Trump era was the worst’

Senior Palestinian Authority official Nabil Shaath hails Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the US presidential elections.

“The Trump era was the worst and salvation from him is an achievement,” Shaath, a key aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, says in a statement.

— Aaron Boxerman

Nabil Shaath speaks to reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 1, 2011. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Likud lawmakers reportedly instructed to say they hope Biden continues Trump foreign policy

Members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party have been instructed to say in response to Joe Biden’s election win that they hope the US president-elect continues with the same foreign policy as Donald Trump, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

The formulation is meant to allow Likud to compliment Trump — with whom Netanyahu has forged close ties — while also congratulating Biden on his victory without alienating either side, the broadcaster says.

Netanyahu so far has not commented on the US election results and only one Likud lawmaker has congratulated Biden.

Pictures show Trump golfing around the time networks call presidency for Biden

President Donald Trump was at the Trump National Golf Club on November 7, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia, as media outlets projected that Joe Biden has been elected president.

Photographs carried by AFP and other outlets show the president on the course around the time the networks made the call.

US President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 7, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia, around the time media outlets project that Joe Biden has been elected president. (Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

CNN reported that the president arrived at the club at about 10:30 a.m. ET, a little less than an hour before networks began calling the presidential race for his opponent Biden. (It said he last golfed on September 27.)

Soon afterward, the Trump campaign issued a statement in his name contesting the result, vowing to fight it through the courts, and accusing Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner.”

US President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 7, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia, around the time media outlets project that Joe Biden has been elected president. (Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

Egypt’s Sissi, emir of Qatar congratulate Biden on election victory

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi becomes the first Arab leader to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory over US President Donald Trump in the 2020 elections.

Sissi “looks forward to cooperation and common action so as to strengthen bilateral strategic relations between Egypt and the United States for common good of the nations and the two friendly peoples,” says Egyptian presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani also congratulates Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.

“My best wishes to the people of the United States and I look forward to working together to continue strengthening the friendship between our countries,” Qatar’s leader tweets.

— Aaron Boxerman

Ex-leader of Hamas on Biden’s victory over Trump: ‘An evil has distanced itself from us’

Senior Hamas official Khaled Mashaal hails US President-elect Joe Biden’s victory — or, more appropriately, US President Donald Trump’s election loss.

“An evil has distanced itself from us with the end of the Trump administration,” says Mashaal, who led the terror group from 1996 to 2017.

“We hope from President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority that they will be more careful and not hurry to agree to return to the pointless path of negotiations with the election of Biden,” Mashaal says.

— Aaron Boxerman

Former Chief of Hamas’ political bureau Khaled Meshaal speaks during a conference in the Qatari capital Doha, on May 1, 2017. (Karim Jaafar/AFP)

Thousands attend Tel Aviv memorial marking 25 years since Rabin assassination

A few thousand Israelis attend a memorial event in Tel Aviv marking 25 years since the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“We’re here today because Yitzhak Rabin left with a simple last will — to safeguard our country,” says Knesset opposition leader Yair Lapid, the keynote speaker at the event.

He adds: “We’re Zionists and won’t give up. We’ll defend the country from those who try to destroy it from the outside, from the inside or from the seat of power. They won’t define for us who we are and we won’t accept a lesson in patriotism from anyone.”

The movie “Incitement,” which is about Rabin’s murder through the eyes of assassin Yigal Amir, was set to be screened.

The event was held at Rabin Square, where Rabin was gunned down on November 4, 1995 by Amir, a Jewish extremist.

Israelis gather at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv for a memorial ceremony marking 25 years since the assassination of late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, held on November 7, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Netanyahu ‘waiting for official results’ until issuing response on Biden win — report

Prime Minister Netanyahu “is waiting for official results” until issuing an official response on Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump, the Walla news site reports, citing sources close to the premier.

It is unclear from the report what is meant by official results and if this means the certification of state results or Biden’s formal election by the Electoral College.

Hamas chief hails Trump’s defeat to Biden, says outgoing administration ‘extremist’

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh hails Donald Trump’s defeat in the US presidential race, calling the Trump administration’s policy “extremist.”

“Our Palestinian people have suffered in prior decades from the bias of American administrations in favor of the occupation, and the Trump administration was the most extremist when it came to [supporting] the occupation over the national rights of the Palestinian people,” Haniyeh says.

“We call on President-elect Joe Biden to perform a historic reparation to American policies which were unjust to our people, and which made the United States an accomplice to injustice and aggression, and which harmed regional and global stability,” he adds.

Haniyeh also calls on Biden to withdraw Trump’s peace plan and his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

— Aaron Boxerman

Poll indicates Bennett closing in on Netanyahu as preferred leader

A poll today indicates that Yamina leader Naftali Bennett continues to close in on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the best person to lead Israel in the eyes of the public.

Naftali Bennett visits the ultra-Orthodox city of Elad, September 6, 2020 (FLASH90)

The Channel 12 poll asks who is most suitable to lead the country. Thirty-two percent say Netanyahu, while 28 percent say Bennett who has seen his popularity surge since going into the opposition and presenting clear plans for dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

Netanyahu on the other hand has been widely panned for his handling of the virus and the economy. He has also faced widespread protests since being charged in three corruption cases.

Netanyahu also dropped when people were offered opposition leader Yair Lapid as an alternative. Netanyahu garnered 40% compared to Lapid’s 20%. The gap in a previous poll was 28%.

Bennett’s Yamina also surged in a poll over party vote.

If elections were held today, Likud would drop to 28 seats, Yamina would more than quadruple its support to 22 seats. Lapid’s Yesh Atid gets 17, Joint  List has 13 and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White would score 11.

The poll also gives 8 seats to each of the ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and UTJ, 7 seats to Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party and Meretz gets 6.

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Netanyahu ‘waiting for official results’ until issuing response on Biden win — report

Prime Minister Netanyahu “is waiting for official results” until issuing an official response on Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump, the Walla news site reports, citing sources close to the premier.

It is unclear from the report what is meant by official results and if this means the certification of state results or Biden’s formal election by the Electoral College.