Biden At 248 Electoral Votes, Trump At 214: US Media

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President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are squaring off for what could be a legal battle for the White House, running neck-and-neck in the electoral vote count, and several battleground states still in play on Wednesday.

As it stands, there are six states still left uncalled, including major prizes such as Pennsylvania and Michigan — meaning both Trump and Biden still have a path to victory.

US media outlets have projected wins for the Republican incumbent in 23 states including big prizes Florida and Texas, as well as Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio — all states he won in 2016.

Biden has captured 21 states including his home state Delaware and big prizes California and New York, as well as the US capital. The former vice president has flipped two states won by Trump in 2016 — Arizona and Wisconsin.

Nebraska split its electoral votes between the two — four for Trump and one for Biden. Maine was won by Biden, but he seized only three of the four electoral votes on offer, with the last allocated to Trump.

So far, that gives Biden 248 electoral votes and Trump 214.

The magic number of electoral votes is 270.

IS Supporter Who ‘Fooled’ The System

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The gunman responsible for an attack in Vienna which left four people dead on Monday night was a convicted supporter of the Islamic State (IS) group who the government says “fooled” official de-radicalisation efforts.

The 20-year-old, named as Kujtim Fejzulai, was shot dead by police and was armed with a shortened Kalashnikov, a handgun, a machete and a fake explosive belt.

According to Interior Minster Karl Nehammer, Fejzulai had dual Macedonian-Austrian nationality and had already been convicted last year of attempting to travel to Syria and trying to join IS.

After that conviction, Fejzulai, whose name suggests he is of ethnic Albanian origin, was sentenced to 22 months in prison, but was released early on parole in December.

“The perpetrator managed to fool the justice system’s de-radicalisation programme, to fool the people in it, and to get an early release through this,” Nehammer said, suggesting that the attacker had made special efforts to deceive probation officers.

“Therefore there were no warning signs of his radicalisation,” he added.

Justice Minister Alma Zadic said that, in line with Austrian law, Fejzulai had been paroled in December 2019 after serving two thirds of his sentence, but also put on three years’ probation.

“This

Germany Shuts Down As New Virus Curbs Spur Anger And Frustration

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Despite sporadic popular protests, Germany on Monday led a tightening of coronavirus curbs in many parts of Europe while the Covid-19 crisis deepened in the United States on election eve.

The virus has infected over 46 million people worldwide, with more than 1.2 million deaths, and the acute outbreaks in Europe and America are sparking further alarm about the state of the already devastated global economy.





The coronavirus has infected tens of millions of people worldwide, with close to 1.2 million deaths
 AFP / Luka GONZALES

To curb the spike in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to citizens to help achieve a “turnaround” by respecting a new round of shutdowns from Monday until the end of the month.

Germans will not be confined to their homes, but bars, cafes and restaurants must close, as well as theatres, operas and cinemas.



Graphic highlighting the countries with the largest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the past week.


Graphic highlighting the countries with the largest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the past week.
 AFP / John SAEKI

Looking ahead to the festive season, Merkel ruled out any “lavish New Year’s Eve parties”, but held out hope that families would be allowed to celebrate Christmas together.

The frustration over the economic and social cost

Campaigning At Hectic Pace, Trump Vows To Disprove Polls

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Donald Trump vowed to again defy the polls as he sprinted through five swing states Sunday in a blitz of campaigning against Joe Biden with just two days left before a US presidential election that has already mobilized a record number of early voters.

The last-minute scramble came as polls showed Biden maintaining his overall lead but with some slight tightening in key states including Pennsylvania, where he leads by four points, and Florida, now a tossup, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls.





US battleground states
 AFP / Sophie RAMIS

“We’re now leading,” Trump insisted before a raucous rally of supporters in Washington Township, Michigan. “Look, we’re leading in Florida. We’re leading in Georgia… They say it’s a very close race in Texas. I don’t think so. They did that four years ago and I won in a landslide.”

Snow flurries fell on Trump and the crowd as he shivered and joked repeatedly about the brisk winds and freezing conditions.



President Donald Trump -- pictured at a rally in Tampa, Florida -- has stuck to his strategy of downplaying the danger of the coronavirus and calling for businesses to reopen


President Donald Trump — pictured at a rally in Tampa, Florida — has stuck to his strategy of downplaying the danger of the coronavirus and calling for businesses to reopen
 AFP / Brendan Smialowski

He warned, in a state

Johnson Announces Month-long Virus Lockdown For England

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced a new four-week coronavirus lockdown across England, a dramatic shift in strategy following warnings hospitals would become overwhelmed within weeks under his current system of localised restrictions.

Under the stringent new rules set to come into force from Thursday, people must stay at home except in cases where exemptions apply, such as for work, education or exercise, while all but essential shops will close.

In contrast to the months-long UK-wide lockdown earlier this year, schools, colleges and universities will remain open.

But pubs and restaurants will shut unless serving takeaway food, while all leisure and entertainment venues and non-essential shops will close.

The restrictions are planned to end on December 2.

“Now is the time to take action because there’s no alternative,” Johnson said at a Downing Street news conference after convening his Cabinet earlier in the day to sign off on the plan.

“We have got to be humble in the face of nature. In this country, alas, as in much of Europe, the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers,” he added.





Other parts of the UK have already imposed more restrictions to slow

US Salutes Greece, Turkey Earthquake Diplomacy

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The United States on Friday hailed diplomacy between uneasy neighbors Greece and Turkey following a major earthquake and said it was ready to assist the NATO allies.

“It’s great to see both countries putting their differences aside to help each other during a time of need. The United States also stands ready to assist,” said Robert O’Brien, the national security advisor.

At least 14 people died in the 7.0-magnitude quake near the Greek island of Samos, with much of the damage in the coastal Turkish city of Izmir.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus offered US condolences for the loss of life and said the United States was “heartened” by cooperation between the Turkish and Greek foreign ministers.





Rescuers search for survivors in a collapsed building in the Turkish city of Izmir after a powerful earthquake
 AFP / Berkcan ZENGIN

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis placed a rare call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the earthquake.

“Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together,” Mitsotakis said on Twitter.

Erdogan aide Fahrettin Altun tweeted that the disaster “reminds us once again how close we are despite our differences over policy.”

Tensions have soared in recent

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