Republicans attempting to undo President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to take up their lawsuit, three days after it was thrown out by the highest court in the battleground state.
In the request to the U.S. Supreme Court, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory.
They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions.
Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court on Saturday night threw out the lawsuit, including an order by a lower court judge blocking the certification of any uncertified races.
Justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively.
In the state’s courts, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law — most of them by Democrats — or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors.
COVID-19 infections were present in the United States as early as mid-December 2019, weeks before it was first identified in China and about a month earlier than the first case was officially confirmed in the United States, according to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In the study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, CDC researchers tested blood samples from 7,389 routine blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from Dec. 13, 2019 to Jan. 17, 2020 for antibodies specific to the novel coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2.
The study aims to determine if SARS-CoV-2 reactive antibodies were present in sera prior to the first identified case in the United States on Jan. 19 this year.
The researchers found evidence of infection in 106 of 7,389 blood donations from residents in nine states across the United States.
Antibodies were found in 39 samples from California, Oregon and Washington state collected between Dec. 13 and Dec. 16, and 67 samples in Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin or Iowa, and Connecticut or Rhode Island collected between Dec. 30 and Jan. 17.
The findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been present in the United States in December 2019, earlier than previously recognized, the authors wrote in the study.
The study also highlighted the value of screening routinely collected blood samples for evidence of viruses spreading in a population, said the researchers, adding the CDC is continuing to conduct ongoing surveillance using blood donations and clinical laboratory samples for SARS-CoV-2 infection in multiple sites across the country.
The results add to growing evidence that COVID-19 was circulating outside of China earlier than previously known.
The first COVID-19 infection in the United States was reported on Jan. 19, 2020 in a returned traveler from China, two days after domestic testing was initiated, according to the CDC.
Two other people who were subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States also developed symptoms in mid-January.
Some reports have suggested the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 into the United States may have occurred earlier than initially recognized, though widespread community transmission was not likely until late February, according to the study.
Police in Stockholm are investigating a woman in her 70s suspected of having kept her son locked up — reportedly for 28 years — in an apartment south of the Swedish capital, investigators said Tuesday.
Prosecutor Emma Olsson, who heads the preliminary investigation, said the woman who was held on suspicion of unlawful deprivation of liberty and grievous bodily harm.
Olsson said the 41-year-old son was found by a relative who then alerted authorities.
The woman has denied wrongdoing, Olsson said, adding that the son was admitted to a hospital to be treated for “the physical injuries he had when he was found.”
“We cannot go into what type of injuries” he has, Olsson said.
Swedish newspaper Expressen said the man was found Sunday by a relative who had learned that the elderly woman had been admitted to a hospital. The relative went to the flat, found the main door unlocked and entered it.
The relative who was not identified, told the daily that there was “urine, dirt and dust” all over the place and “it smelled rotten.”
She heard a noise from the kitchen and found the man sitting on blankets and pillows. According to the relative’s account in the paper, he had no teeth, had sores on his legs and his speech was slurred.
“He spoke very fast and a little incoherently, but he was not afraid of me,” the relative was quoted as saying by Expressen.
The daily said the man’s apparent captivity had started 28 years ago, which would have made him 13 at the time.
Olsson said investigators would be interviewing the mother, the son and witnesses.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said the Global Compact for Migration, adopted by countries in 2018 as a comprehensive framework for cooperation on international migration, is “taking root in promising ways”.
“The Compact reflects a growing global understanding of the great benefits of human mobility. But it also recognizes that, if poorly managed, migration can generate huge challenges, from a tragic loss of life to rights abuses and social tensions”, said Guterres, launching his biennial report on the Compact’s implementation on Tuesday, according to UN News .
While the coronavirus pandemic heightened challenges and negatively affected more than 2.7 million migrants, particularly women and girls, new practices have emerged to protect those on the move, added Mr. Guterres, in a video message to accompany the launch.
The Secretary-General outlined initiatives by countries such as extending residence and work permits, regularizing the status of undocumented migrants, and pursuing alternatives to detention.
“And while some States have suspended returns owing to unsafe conditions, others have made efforts to ensure that those returning or who have been deported are supported”, he said.
Strengthen societies ‘against the virus of hate’
Noting that “much more can and should be done”, the UN chief called for such initiatives to be expanded.
Mr. Guterres outlined three key recommendations, the first of which is to embrace the spirit of collaboration “no country can address migration alone.”
He also said that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of migrant labour, urging countries to “meaningfully” recognize their contributions, through action such as ensuring fair and ethical recruitment; decent work, and access to health care and social protection, without discrimination.
Alongside, social inclusion and cohesion should be strengthened between host communities and migrants, and discrimination issues addressed, added the UN chief.
“Migrants should not be stigmatized or denied access to medical treatment and other public services. We must strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate”, he urged.
Diversity an asset
Highlighting that human diversity is an asset, not a threat, the Secretary-General urged everyone to appreciate the “richness of our differences” while never losing sight of our common humanity and dignity.
“We can draw on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration to cover better from COVID-19, with greater inclusion and sustainability … and if we are united, we can make migration work for all.”
President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday introduced top advisers he says will help his administration rebuild an economy hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, declaring, “I know times are tough, but I want you to know that help is on the way.”
Biden said he'd chosen a “first-rate team” that is “tested and experienced" to tackle the country's economic crisis. He picked liberal advisers who have long prioritized the nation’s workers and government efforts to address economic inequality.
Unemployment remains high as the COVID-19 outbreak widens the gulf between average people and the wealthiest Americans. The virus, which has claimed more than 269,000 lives nationwide, is resurgent across the country amid holiday travel and colder weather sending people indoors.
As he did frequently while campaigning, Biden promised that the U.S. would eventually emerge with an economy that is dramatically reshaped to better stamp out economic inequality.
“From the most unequal economic and job crisis in modern history, we can build a new American economy that works for all Americans, not just some,” Biden said as he introduced his choices for some of the government's top economic posts during a speech at a theater in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has led his transition to the presidency.
Tuesday also marked the president-elect's first appearance since breaking two small bones in his right foot while playing with one of his dogs over the weekend. He wore a black walking boot and moved gingerly but tried to keep things light. As he emerged from his motorcade, Biden pointed to his boot and lifted his leg briefly to show it off.
Asked about his foot by reporters, Biden responded only, “Good, thanks for asking.”
The injury, while not serious, again intensifies scrutiny on Biden’s age, given that he just turned 78 and is the oldest president ever to be in his first term. Still, his team has tried to keep the focus on building out its government and upcoming policy challenges, chief among them the pandemic and the economy.
Biden repeatedly evoked his work as vice president when the Obama administration oversaw the economic recovery following the 2008 financial crisis, noting that many of those on his newly formed economic team worked closely with him then.
Most of his choices will require confirmation from the deeply divided Senate, where some top Republicans have already begun voicing opposition. Biden said he hopes “that we will be able to work across the aisle in good faith, move forward as one country.”
Janet Yellen, Biden’s nominee for treasury secretary, served as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, when she placed a greater emphasis than previous Fed chairs on maximizing employment and less focus on price inflation. Biden also named Cecilia Rouse as chair of his Council of Economic Advisers, and Heather Boushey and Jared Bernstein as members of the council.
Yellen called the economic havoc the pandemic has wrought “an American tragedy.”
“To the American people: We will be an institution that wakes up every morning thinking about you,” Yellen said of the Treasury Department, “Your jobs, your paychecks, your struggles, your hopes, your dignity and your limitless potential.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would be the first woman to serve as treasury secretary, after breaking ground as the first woman to chair the Fed.
“We might have to ask Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote a musical about the first secretary of the treasury, Hamilton, to write another musical about the female secretary of the treasury,” Biden joked.
Rouse would be the first Black woman to lead the CEA in its 74 years of existence. The president-elect also selected Wally Adeyemo to be Yellen’s deputy, which would make him the first Black deputy treasury secretary. Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick for director of the Office of Management and Budget, would be the first South Asian American in that job.
Rouse, Tanden and Adeyemo will all require Senate confirmation, and Tanden, in particular, is already drawing heavy Republican criticism.
“Budgets are not abstractions. They are a reflection of our values,” Tanden said during Tuesday's event.
All of Biden's picks are outspoken supporters of more government stimulus spending to boost growth — which Biden embraced on the campaign trail — though their proposals could face a difficult reception in Congress, which has stalemated on a new round of economic relief for months.
The prospects for a large-scale deal could hang on the outcome of runoff elections for both Georgia Senate seats. Victories in both would give Democrats control of the chamber — and its agenda —- by the slimmest of margins, but Republican victories will quickly test Biden and his team's ability to negotiate across the aisle to deliver on their promised relief for Americans.
As he has in recent weeks, Biden repeated calls for Congress to pass immediate pandemic relief funding even before he takes office.
“Right now, the full Congress should come together and pass a robust package for relief,” he said. But Biden added that any package passed during the lame-duck session before the end of the year is “likely to be at best just a start” and said his transition team is “already working on what I’ll put forward in the next Congress to address the multiple crises we’re facing.”
In the meantime, grim economic news is piling up. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Monday that the pace of improvement in the economy has moderated in recent months with future prospects remaining “extraordinarily uncertain.”
And Steven Mnuchin, President Donald Trump's treasury secretary, announced last month that, over the objections of the Fed, he would not grant extensions for five lending programs being operated jointly by the Fed and the Treasury Department that are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31 — including backstops for corporate and municipal debt and the purchase of loans for small businesses and nonprofits.