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  • πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ As it happened | Joe Biden elected 46th US president

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ As it happened | Joe Biden elected 46th US president

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Added 4th November 2020 03:10 AM

A historic moment in the US as Joe Biden wins the presidential race, with Kamala Harris becoming the nation's first woman vice-president-elect.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ  As it happened | Joe Biden elected 46th US president

A historic moment in the US as Joe Biden wins the presidential race, with Kamala Harris becoming the nation's first woman vice-president-elect.

USA DECIDES

Presented by Joseph Kizza


Democrat Joe Biden, who served as vice-president under Barack Obama, secured victory in a close presidential race against Republican Donald Trump on Saturday - and is set to become the nation's 46th president when he is sworn in in January 2021
.

(Source: AFP)




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9:48 pm  | World leaders congratulate Biden on 'historic' win



Political leaders from around the world were quick to congratulate Joe Biden after US networks declared him the winner of the bitter White House race over President Donald Trump.

As crowds poured onto the streets of Washington and other cities in exuberant celebration and former US president Barack Obama hailed Biden's win as "decisive" and "historic", here are some of the first reactions from political figures across the globe:

Ireland

Irish prime minister Micheal Martin was one of the first to take to Twitter and hail the Irish-America Democrat Joe Biden as "president-elect".

"I want to congratulate the new President Elect of the USA @JoeBiden," the Irish leader tweeted.

"Joe Biden has been a true friend of this nation throughout his life and I look forward to working with him in the years ahead. I also look forward to welcoming him back home when the circumstances allow!" Martin added.

Canada

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also quick off the mark.

"I look forward to working with President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect (Kamala) Harris, their administration, and the United States Congress as we tackle the world's greatest challenges together," Trudeau said in a statement.

Britain

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Biden "on his election as President of the United States and 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."

France

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: "The Americans have chosen their President. Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris! We have a lot to do to overcome today's challenges. Let's work together!"

Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Biden, saying Germany's trans-atlantic ties with the US were "irreplaceable".

And her Foreign Minister Heiko Maas hailed Biden's election as a "new start" for trans-atlantic relations.

"We want to invest in our cooperation (with the new president) for a new start in transatlantic relations, a 'new deal'," he tweeted, as Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the opening of a "new chapter".

European Union

In a joint statement, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, president of the European Council, which represents the leaders of EU member states, said: "We take note of the latest development in the electoral process.

"On this basis the EU congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on reaching enough Electoral Votes."

Greece

Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted: "Congratulations to US President-Elect @JoeBiden. Joe Biden has been a true friend of Greece and I'm certain that under his presidency the relationship between our countries will grow even stronger."

Belgium

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo tweeted: "Congratulations @JoeBiden with your election as 46th President of the United States. A record number of people have cast their vote in this election. This illustrates the vibrancy of the American political life and its democracy."



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9:12 pm  | UK's Johnson congratulates Biden and Harris



British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has congratulated 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 tweeted.





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8:55 pm  | Donald Trump joins rare club of defeated presidents

Donald Trump has boasted of being an atypical leader but he's now entered a rare club he will definitely not appreciate -- US presidents who have lost reelection.

Since World War II, only two other presidents who sought a second term from voters have failed: Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.



US TV networks called the race on Saturday for Democrat Joe Biden despite the Republican unabashedly seizing on the power of incumbency.

Trump held rallies across the country in front of Air Force One, insisted on putting his name on the 150 million pandemic stimulus checks to Americans and delivered his Republican convention speech at the White House.

His actions sparked accusations Trump violated the Hatch Act, which restricts the use of the federal government for political activity.

"There is a reason why it's unusual for incumbents to be defeated. Incumbents have the ability to use the bully pulpit to their advantage; they can change the storyline," said Matt Dallek, a political historian at George Washington University.

"They have all the trappings of the White House -- executive power, the Oval Office, Air Force One. These are powerful symbols that they have at their disposal."

The White House -- in the words of one of its fictional inhabitants, President Andrew Shepherd in Rob Reiner's "The American President" (1995) -- offers "the single greatest home court advantage in the modern world."

For Trump, the first president never to have previously held elected office or a military leadership position, the White House helped normalize a volatile man better known earlier to Americans as a television celebrity.

However unpresidential in tone his tweets, his every formal event took place behind lecturns bearing the instantly recognizable seal of the US commander in chief.

US presidents enjoy wide leeway on diplomacy and Trump, like his predecessors, eagerly brought foreign leaders before the cameras with him at the White House, including in September when the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain agreed to recognize Israel.

Party unity vital for incumbents

Trump is the first president never to cross 50 percent approval in Gallup polls and was intensely divisive over his nearly four years, with wide opposition to his handling of the pandemic, his abrasive rhetoric and incessant personal scandals.

George H.W. Bush, by contrast, basked in nearly 90 percent approval as he led the first Gulf War in 1991

The difference, Dallek said, is that both Bush and Carter failed to unify their parties.

Carter and George H. W. Bush faced primary challenges from the left and right of their parties respectively that weakened them heading into the general election.

Similarly, Lyndon Johnson -- who technically did not lose reelection but abruptly decided not to seek a second full term in 1968 -- was hit by a revolt on the left over the Vietnam War.

Gerald Ford, who took over after Richard Nixon's resignation and was never elected nationally on his own, also faced a spirited challenge in 1976 from Ronald Reagan.

Trump, on the other hand, virtually took over the Republican Party, whose 2020 platform said only that it backed his agenda.

"The challengers to Trump really had to go outside the Republican Party," Dallek said.

With Trump's election loss but dominant position in his party, chatter has already begun on whether he would seek an even more unusual feat -- winning a second but non-consecutive term in 2024.

Only one other president in US history has served two terms that were not back-to-back -- Democrat Grover Cleveland, who won his second mandate in 1892, four years after a narrow loss.




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8:42 pm  | Kamala Harris: America's first woman vice president

Kamala Harris crashed through one of the world's highest glass ceilings on Saturday to be elected America's first woman vice president, making history and helping bring to an end Donald Trump's turbulent rule.



Harris came into Tuesday's election already a repeat trailblazer as California's first Black attorney general and the first woman of South Asian heritage elected to the US Senate.

By winning the vice presidency, she will be a heartbeat away from leading the United States and poised on a stepping stone to the ultimate prize.

With the 77-year-Biden expected to serve only a single term, Harris would be favored to win the Democratic presidential nomination four years from now.

That could give her a shot at more history-making -- as the first female president of the United States.

"This election is about so much more than Joe Biden or me," she wrote on Twitter after US news media called the election in their favor based on state results.

"It's about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let's get started."

Since being tapped as Biden's running mate in August, she has slammed Trump on his chaotic handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also racism, the economy and the president's crackdown on immigration.

Harris, 56, was born to immigrants to the United States -- her father from Jamaica, her mother from India -- and their lives and her own have in some ways embodied the American dream.

'I'm speaking'

She was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, California, then a hub for civil rights and anti-war activism.

Her diploma from historically Black Howard University in Washington was the start of a steady rise that took her from prosecutor, to two elected terms as San Francisco's district attorney and then California's attorney general in 2010.

However, Harris's self-description as a "progressive prosecutor" has been seized upon by critics who say she fought to uphold wrongful convictions and opposed certain reforms in California, like a bill requiring that the attorney general probe shootings involving police.

"Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state's attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent," law professor Lara Bazelon wrote in The New York Times last year.

Yet Harris's work was key to forging a platform and profile from which she launched a successful Senate campaign in 2016, becoming just the second Black female senator ever.

Her stint as attorney general also helped her forge a connection with Biden's son Beau, who held the same position in the state of Delaware, and died of cancer at the age of 46 in 2015.

"I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her work, and that mattered a lot to me, to be honest with you, as I made this decision," Biden said during his first appearance with Harris as running mates.

A veteran campaigner, Harris oozes charisma but can quickly pivot from her megawatt smile to her prosecutorial persona of relentless interrogation and cutting retorts.

Clips went viral of her sharp questioning in 2017 of then-attorney general Jeff Sessions during a Capitol Hill hearing on Russia.

"I'm not able to be rushed this fast! It makes me nervous," an exasperated Sessions replied at one point.

Harris also clashed with Biden during the first Democratic debate, chiding the former senator over his opposition to 1970s busing programs that forced integration of segregated schools.

"There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school, and she was bused to school every day," she said. "And that little girl was me."

That clash didn't stop him from picking Harris, who has brought that feisty energy to Biden's carefully stage-managed campaign.

During her only debate against Vice President Mike Pence, Harris raised her hand as he tried to interrupt her.

"Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking. I'm speaking," she said with a glare, silencing Pence.

Within hours of the debate, T-shirts bearing her words were being offered for sale online.



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8:29 pm  | Joe Biden - a life's work in Washington

A stalwart of American political life for decades, Joe Biden, 77, has experienced many ups and downs during his long career in Washington. But in the end he won the biggest prize of all -- the presidency -- after edging out President Donald Trump.



Senate at 30

Active in local politics in Delaware, Biden scored a major surprise aged just 30 when he ousted a well-established Republican senator in the 1972 election.

Just few weeks later, Biden's wife and daughter died in a car accident. He thought of resigning to take care of his injured sons Beau and Hunter, but he was persuaded to stay on and was sworn in on January 5, 1973.

He was reelected to the upper house of Congress continuously until 2008.

Against 'busing'

In the 1970s, he opposed a government policy known as "busing," which organized buses to transport Black children to predominantly white schools to promote co-education.

Senator Kamala Harris attacked him over his stance during this year's Democratic primary race. Nevertheless, he chose her as his running mate.

Presidential flop

In 1987, Biden joined the race for the White House for the first time, buoyed by his image as a dashing man in his 40s and starting as a favorite among many in his party.

But he crashed out in humiliating style after making a series of exaggerations about his past and a scandal over plagiarized passages in his campaign speeches.

Women and the law

As chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden supervised the 1991 process of confirming judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court when accusations against the nominee of sexual harassment emerged.

Biden organized a televised hearing of Thomas's accuser, Anita Hill, which turned into a fiasco. Hill, a young law professor, was grilled in graphic detail by an all-white, all-male panel in scenes that shocked many observers.

Biden later apologized. Three years afterwards, he made up some ground by overseeing the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. He has described it as his "proudest legislative accomplishment."

Prison numbers

Biden was also a key architect of broader criminal justice reforms that have drawn much criticism.

At a time when crime was ravaging sections of American society, legislation under Bill Clinton's presidency marked a consensus between rival political parties on adopting a tough approach.

The 1994 "crime law" is considered by some to be responsible for the explosion in US prisoner numbers and also for the over-representation of African Americans in jail.

Its negative impact was due in part to severely punishing crack users, a drug more often consumed in poor neighborhoods.

"It was a mistake," Biden admitted during his final debate with Donald Trump.

War in Iraq

When serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in 2002, Biden voted to back the war in Iraq, after holding hearings of numerous witnesses who suggested -- wrongly -- that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed weapons of destruction massive.

He again has said that his stance was a mistake in hindsight.

Obama's number two

Biden was chosen by Barack Obama as his vice presidential candidate and entered the White House with him in January 2009, in the midst of the global financial crisis.

Biden secured Congress's adoption of a huge $800 billion stimulus package, which the president entrusted him to implement.

The plan was largely deemed a success as the US economy rebounded.

Biden may have run for the presidency in 2016 but for the death of his elder son Beau from a brain tumor. Obama and Biden have remained close allies.

White House bid

In 2019, he launched his campaign to beat Donald Trump and win the White House at last.

After a difficult start, he bounced back to victory in the Democratic primaries boosted by his support among African Americans and became the party's presidential candidate. In the end, after a campaign like no other, held amid the coronavirus pandemic, he went on to deny Trump a second term.




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8:20 pm  | Relief, excitement in Biden camp

The supporters of the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris tug team are ecstatic after days of anxious waiting.





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8:09 pm  | Kamala Harris' first message as vice-president-elect

USA's first woman vice-president-elect Kamala Harris has pinned her first tweeted message to the American people:

"This election is about so much more than JoeBiden 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. Let's get started."



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8:05 pm  | President-elect Joe Biden's first message to America

Joe Biden, who has just won the US presidential race, has taken to Twitter to deliver his first message as president-elect to the American people:

"America, I'm honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country. The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not. I will keep the faith that you have placed in me."


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7:51 pm  | Biden wins White House, ending Trump presidency



Democrat Joe Biden has won the White House, US media said Saturday, defeating Donald Trump and ending a presidency that convulsed American politics, shocked the world and left the United States more divided than at any time in decades.

CNN, NBC News and CBS News called the race in Biden's favor just before 11:30 am (1630 GMT) as an insurmountable lead in Pennsylvania took the 77-year-old over the top in the state-by-state count that decides the presidency.

Trump had no immediate reaction to the announcement, but as Biden's lead grew during vote counts since Tuesday's election, the Republican president lashed out with unsubstantiated claims of fraud and claimed, falsely, that he had won.

Earlier Saturday, as he headed to his golf course in Virginia, he repeated this, tweeting: "I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!"

However, the result now condemns 74-year-old Trump to becoming the first one-term president since George H. W. Bush at the start of the 1990s.

Biden, who got the votes of a record more than 74 million people, was hunkered down with his running mate Kamala Harris, in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware.

Late Friday he delivered an address urging Americans to "come together as a nation and heal."

The Secret Service has already begun intensifying its protective bubble around the president-elect, who will be inaugurated on January 20.

A centrist who promises to bring calm to Washington after four turbulent years under Trump, Biden is the oldest man to win the presidency -- a position he twice sought unsuccessfully during his long political career, before being elected vice president to Barack Obama in 2008.

Harris, a senator and former California attorney general, will make history as the first Black woman to enter the White House in either of the two top jobs. At 56, she is seen as a leading contender to succeed Biden and try to become the first female US president.

Polarized nation, COVID crisis

Overall turnout on Tuesday broke records with some 160 million people pouring out across the United States after a deeply polarizing campaign complicated by the resurgent Covid-19 pandemic.

Biden secured his win by recapturing the Midwestern states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin -- traditional Democratic territory that Trump had flipped in 2016 with his powerful appeal to white, working class voters.

With Pennsylvania in the bag, Biden has now accumulated 273 out of 538 Electoral College votes, clearing the bar of 270, thereby making it impossible for Trump to get a second term even if he were to win the remaining undeclared states.

Biden was also ahead in Arizona, Nevada and in a near dead heat in Georgia -- a southern state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992 and is now headed for a recount.

Results from congressional races indicate that Biden will face a divided legislature, with his Democrats holding a majority in the House and Republicans clinging to control of the Senate -- although that could still shift.

The division in Washington will likely complicate immediately Biden's ability to govern, starting with disputes in Congress over a delayed economic stimulus package for Americans hammered by the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.



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7:26 pm  | BREAKING NEWS

Joe Biden has been elected the 46th president of the United States of America, CNN has projected, after securing the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to win following his triumph in Pennsylvania, which carried 20 electoral votes.





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7:00 pm  | Trump at golf club outside Washington as vote count drags on

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

Here, President Trump walks to the motorcade on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday as he departs for an undisclosed location



After appearing twice at the White House in recent days to address the nation, Trump left 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 has claimed: "I won this election, by a lot!" -- a claim that was flagged by Twitter.



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3:28 pm  | The statistics so far



This is what the situation looks like as former US vice-president Joe Biden enjoys a lead in all the remaining key states, according to information from CNN:

PENNSYLVANIA (20 ELECTORAL VOTES)

Joe Biden - 3,336,887 (49.6%)
Donald Trump - 3,308,054 (49.1%)

GEORGIA (16 ELECTORAL VOTES)

Joe Biden - 2,461,455 (49.4%)
Donald Trump - 2,454,207 (49.3%)

ARIZONA (11 ELECTORAL VOTES)

Joe Biden - 1,604,067
Donald Trump - 1,574,206

NEVADA (6 ELECTORAL VOTES)

Joe Biden - 632,558 (49.8%)
Donald Trump - 609,901 (48.0%)

US POPULAR VOTE

Joe Biden - 74,391,066 (50.5%)
Donald Trump - 70,206,345 (47.7%)


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3:05 pm  | Wall Street cools as Biden nears finish line

World markets lost momentum Friday after four straight days of gains on Wall Street, as vote counting across US battleground states showed Democrat Joe Biden poised for victory.



US stocks from Monday to Thursday posted the best four-day streak since April, and Friday featured positive economic data for traders to peruse as unemployment dropped a full point to 6.9 percent in October, a bigger-than-expected fall.

The US economy regained 638,000 jobs last month, far more than analysts had been expecting, the Labor Department data showed, despite rising coronavirus cases and Congress's failure to pass another spending package to aid the economy's recovery.

But the Dow Jones index closed 0.2 percent lower, while the Nasdaq was flat for the day as was the S&P 500. But despite the lackluster Friday, this week was the best since April with a gain of 7.3 percent for the S&P.

In London, the FTSE 100 was almost unchanged but still added six percent for the blue chip index's best week since June, a similar pattern to other major European bourses.

Oil fell, with the WTI and Brent Crude falling back nearly four percent after a volatile week as US President Donald Trump continued making unsubstantiated claims he is being cheated of an election victory.

Latest vote tallies showed Biden is on his way to the White House.

Betting on Biden

US media reported that the challenger had pulled ahead in the key states of Pennsylvania and Georgia. A victory in Pennsylvania alone would give Biden the presidency based on the Electoral College tally.

Despite some profit taking Friday, stocks generally surged over the week as a Biden win became more likely, with traders betting on him paving the way for a bigger fiscal stimulus package compared to Trump, said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst with ThinkMarkets.

While control of the upper chamber has yet to be determined, a "Republican-controlled Senate will make it unlikely that Trump's corporate tax cuts will be rolled back," he added.

Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell on Thursday said more US stimulus was "absolutely essential" to support the economy.

Democrats and Republicans failed to reach a deal before the election, owing to disputes over how much to spend.

The prospect of further monetary easing measures from the Fed and a new stimulus have weighed on the dollar, boosting safe haven investment gold.

The rather less-traditional haven of Bitcoin meanwhile "blitzed through $15,000 for the first time since the beginning of 2018... as investors rode a momentum trade that has been building up a head of steam ever since PayPal announced it would let users buy, sell and hold a variety of major cryptocurrencies", noted Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.

Tokyo was the highlight in Asia as the Nikkei jumped 0.9 percent for its highest close in 29 years.



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2:48 pm  | Biden remains strong in key states

The former US vice-president, who is now on the verge of becoming the president-elect, is still leading President Donald Trump in the remaining four battleground states - Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada - as counting of votes continues to keep the US - and the rest of the world - still waiting.




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2:32 pm  | Joe Biden vows virus action on 'day one'

The United States reported record new coronavirus cases for the third day in a row, as Joe Biden vowed to act against the pandemic on "day one" if he wins the presidential election in the world's worst-hit nation.

Global infections have surged past 49 million and Europe has become the new pandemic epicenter in recent weeks with more than 300,000 deaths -- nearly a quarter of the global total.

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

No winner has been declared but Biden promised he would not waste 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 said.

The infection figures came as President Donald Trump, who survived a bout of Covid-19 in October and has been widely criticized over his handling of the crisis, trailed his Democratic challenger in the vote count.

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.

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, insisting the US was "rounding the turn" despite the virus surges.

Senior members of his administration have contracted the virus recently with Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows the latest to test positive, media said late Friday.

The pandemic has been cited as one of the factors for the delay in US election results, with state authorities deluged with millions of ballots mailed by citizens not willing to risk infection by voting in person.

'More distrust'

Across the Atlantic, Greece became the latest European nation to enter lockdown Saturday with the continent reeling from a second, relentless coronavirus wave.

Under the measures, which came into force before daybreak, Greeks can only leave home if they receive authorization to a mobile phone request. Essential shops can stay open, including supermarkets and pharmacies.

On the first day of the second lockdown Athens woke to checks on vehicle movements and doubled fines for not wearing masks, up to 300 euros.

The capital's main shopping throughfare Ermou street was quiet.

But hairdressers have been allowed to stay open for two more days and they were booked out.

"I want to have my hair done so that what I see in the mirror every morning during lockdown won't cause me sadness," said Petrina, ahead of her Sunday appointment.

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

Germany reported record daily figures on Saturday with 23,399 new cases and 130 deaths.

Thousands of demonstrators were expected to gather in Leipzig on Saturday to protest against mask-wearing and new  curbs to halt the virus spreading across Germany.

Poland was imposing fresh measures Saturday too, closing most shopping centers. The government is also shutting cinemas, theatres, galleries and other cultural institutions and making hotels available for business travellers only.

Governments are also exploring mass testing as a way to curb the pandemic.

In England, Liverpool on Friday began the country's first city-wide coronavirus testing program. All 500,000 residents will be offered repeat tests, even if asymptomatic, under a pilot scheme that could be rolled out nationwide if successful.

Britain on Saturday banned entry to all non-resident foreigners coming from Denmark after a mutated version of the coronavirus linked to mink farms was found in humans.

With populations growing increasingly weary of lockdowns, protests have broken out in some countries. Demonstrators and the police have clashed in parts of Italy and the Czech Republic in recent weeks.

Giorgio Gori, the mayor of Bergamo -- the epicenter of Italy's coronavirus crisis earlier this year -- said "there is more tiredness and more distrust around" than during the first lockdown, after people protested outside his home.

The Italian government announced new measures early Saturday to help businesses and families cope with the latest restrictions, including a national night curfew and lockdown in four regions.

The latest aid package would total 2.5 billion euros ($3.0 billion), media reported Saturday.


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8:14 am  | Trump's chief of staff tests positive for coronavirus

President Donald Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows has tested positive for COVID-19, US media reported late Friday.

Meadows, 61, told people he had coronavirus after the election, CNN reported. He first tested positive on Wednesday, a day after the poll, according to the New York Times.


Meadows was part of a crowd in a room at the White House early on Wednesday when Trump spoke to around 150 of his top aides and supporters, the Washington Post reported.

Several senior Trump administration officials have contracted the virus in recent weeks, including the president and his wife Melania.

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and policy advisers Stephen Miller and Hope Hicks are among more than a dozen other senior White House figures to be infected with since the start of October.

The United States has been hit harder than any other country by the COVID-19 pandemic since it swept the world at the start of this year.

More than 9.7 million people have contracted the virus nationwide, with more than 236,000 dead.



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7:57 am  | Is Rupert Murdoch dumping Trump?

Fox News and the New York Post, magnate Rupert Murdoch's main media outlets, have started 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.



On Thursday night in Phoenix, Arizona, supporters of Trump bluntly shouted "Fox News Sucks" in reference to the news outfit considered fiercely loyal to the president for the past five years.

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

Jared Kushner, Trump's advisor and son in law, called Murdoch in vain to try to get that call retracted. Other media held off from calling the battleground state for Biden as the tallying of ballots continued.

Since that night, Fox News has stepped 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 said on the air Friday.

So people are asking if Fox News, which helped bring Trump to power in 2016, is in the process of dumping him as Biden closes in on the magic number of 270 electoral votes that would win him the White House.

DePauw University communications professor Jeffrey McCall said Fox News has always had a twin identity -- on one hand, star anchors who are more editorialists than journalists and on the other a newsroom that is much more measured.

Some Fox journalists, such as Chris Wallace, who was the moderator at the first Trump-Biden debate, are very well respected professionals.

On the in-your-face editorial side stands Fox star Sean Hannity, who is very close to Trump and said on Thursday evening, "Americans have every right to be suspicious ... to distrust the legitimacy of the results."

McCall said that the way Fox News has treated Trump since the election and its early calling of Arizona for Biden show the more serious side of the network is trying to "operate as independently as possible from the opinion section and even from the ownership."

"These people have their own journalistic standards that they want to uphold."

But Reece Peck, who wrote a book about Fox News called "Fox Populism", said this distancing could alienate some viewers and prompt them to switch to another news source, such as OAN, a small new outfit, ultra conservative and extremely pro-Trump.

Behind Fox News, which chalked up 14.1 million viewers on US election night, is, of course, Murdoch.

The 89-year old media mogul is known for his conservative views but over the past few months has come to grips with the idea of a Biden win, according to the Daily Beast.

Still, said McCall, "My guess is that the Murdoch family is not calling into the newsroom to tell Bret Baier how to cover certain kinds of stories."

 'The political winds'

Murdoch's other pet US outlet, the New York Post, might be "a closer reflexion of Murdoch's own opinions politically than even Fox News," said Peck.

He said Murdoch exercises a lot more control over this tabloid newspaper than he does over Fox News.

As the vote count drags on and the world waits to hear the name of the winner, the Post has not embraced any of Trump's statements about fraud and the election being stolen from him.

Just days ago, right before the election, it did not hesitate to run a story that said Biden's son Hunter, sitting on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, sold access to his father, who was then vice president under Barack Obama.

On Friday the Post ran two opinion pieces that made the assumption that Trump would probably lose the election.

"Murdoch at times you can sense him understanding where the political winds are going," said Peck, who teaches at City University of New York (CUNY).

And Biden is a centrist Democrat that he could stomach.

"Biden is not very threatening to the business community in the United States," said Peck.



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7:22 am  | Supreme Court denies immediate halt of Pennsylvania count

A US Supreme Court justice on Friday denied a request by Pennsylvania's Republicans to immediately halt the counting of ballots arriving after Election Day -- referring the challenge to the full court for a ruling on Saturday.



Samuel Alito ordered Pennsylvania in the meantime to continue keeping the late-arriving ballots separate, affirming a decision already made by the state's top elections official.

The last-ditch petition for an emergency injunction -- filed as Democrat Joe Biden solidified his lead and was poised to defeat President Donald Trump -- targeted thousands of ballots.

Most are believed to favor Biden, and Republicans say they should be disqualified under Pennsylvania state law.

As a first step, the party wanted the high court to order ballots arriving after after 8:00 pm on election night to be kept apart from others and prevent them from being tallied.

The concern is that if they are mixed with other ballots, it would render any attempt to disqualify them impossible.

"Given the results of the November 3, 2020 general election, the vote in Pennsylvania may well determine the next president of the United States," the Republicans said.

"It is unclear whether all 67 county boards of elections are segregating late-arriving ballots," the petition added.

Republicans have for months been fighting a state decision to accept mail-in ballots postmarked by November 3 and arriving by Friday. Previously the deadline for acceptance was Election Day itself.

The state supreme court ruled the decision legal and it was then appealed in the federal system.

On October 19 the US Supreme Court, which had a vacant seat, let the state court's decision stand in 4-4 split decision along conservative-liberal lines.

But the high court indicated it could take up the case after the election, and now has nine members after the Trump-nominated conservative Amy Coney Barrett joined in late October.

Trump has explicitly said he wanted Barrett on the court for any election-related case.

Friday's petition appeared more broadly aimed at delaying the eastern state's vote tally from being finalized, which would effectively hand the election to Biden.

A delay could give the high court time to reopen the broader case of the legality of the late ballots.

Even if the court does issue a stay on counting, it might not make a difference. Election analysts say the number of late ballots could be far fewer than Biden's lead over Trump in the state.



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7:08 am  | 'Time to heal'

Joe Biden has said as he closes in on winning the US presidency that he will waste no time in addressing the COVID pandemic upon taking office.

"I want everyone, everyone to know on day one we're going to put our plan to control this virus into action," Biden said in a late night address from his hometown Wilmington, in Delaware.

Biden expressed confidence that he would defeat President Donald Trump as vote counting dragged on from Tuesday's election but stopped short of declaring himself the winner.

He pledged to unite a bitterly divided nation.

"It's time for us to come together as a nation to heal," Biden said.


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11:50 pm  | US election results show Biden closing in on victory



The outcome of the US presidential election remained in the balance Friday as a handful of battleground states complete their vote counts, but Joe Biden was edging toward victory -- barring a surprise.

The Democrat has racked up at least 253 of the 270 electoral votes that he needs, according to US network projections, and has taken the lead in Pennsylvania, which would put him over the top.

Donald Trump has amassed 214 electoral votes so far, and while the Republican incumbent was still in contention in several states that could afford him a path to reelection, that path was narrowing.

In addition to Pennsylvania, Biden has pulled ahead in the southeastern state of Georgia, which has 16 electoral votes, but it remains too close to call.



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11:32 pm  | Twitter flags 'president-elect Biden' posts as premature

Twitter on Friday flagged as premature posts referring to Joe Biden as "president-elect," as the vote count continued in the knife-edge US election with the Democrat leading Donald Trump in several key states.



Tweets referring to the former vice president with the victor's title and his running mate Kamala Harris as "vice president-elect" were tagged with messages saying counts were not yet final.

"Official sources may not have called the race when this was tweeted," read a message below a post from Democratic Coalition co-founder and podcaster Scott Dworkin using the two titles for Biden and Harris.

The notice came with a link to information about the status of the election.

Twitter and Facebook have been scrambling to flag, mask and limit the spread of premature claims of victory or false attacks on the voting process since the polls closed late Tuesday.

"As votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take enforcement action on tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election broadly," Twitter said.

"This is in line with our civic integrity policy and our recent guidance on labeling election results."

Unfounded claims by Trump regarding the voting process as well as premature claims of victory about either candidate in the race have been flagged or masked, with links provided to reliable sources of information.

Twitter's action made the comments less visible, and users seeking to read the posts were required to click through a warning.



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8:38pm  | Biden on brink of victory in tense White House race



Democrat Joe Biden is on the brink of winning the White House on Friday after taking the lead in the potentially decisive state of Pennsylvania but President Donald Trump has showed no signs of being ready to concede and his campaign has insisted the bitterly contested race is "not over."

Pennsylvania, and its 20 electoral votes, would be enough to vault the 77-year-old Biden past the magic number of 270 votes in the Electoral College, which determines the presidency.

With tens of thousands of votes remaining to be counted in Pennsylvania, many from heavily Democratic areas, Biden opened up a 9,000-vote lead over the Republican incumbent, according to real-time state election results.

Biden currently has at least 253 electoral votes and is leading in three other states -- Arizona, Georgia and Nevada -- where ballots from Tuesday's bitterly contested election continue to be counted.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, welcomed what she called the "strong mandate" given to "President-elect Biden." It is "a happy day for our country. Joe Biden is a unifier, because he is determined to bring people together," Pelosi said.

While his reelection hopes may be fading, Trump is making it clear that he is not ready to accept defeat, launching unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud during an extraordinary White House appearance on Thursday and claiming that he had actually won.

"This election is not over," the Trump campaign's general counsel Matt Morgan said after news of Biden's lead in Pennsylvania broke.

"The false projection of Joe Biden as the winner is based on results in four states that are far from final," Morgan said in a statement.

"Biden is relying on these states for his phony claim on the White House, but once the election is final, President Trump will be re-elected."

Morgan alleged there had been "improperly cast" ballots in Georgia, where a recount was expected, and Nevada and claimed Republican vote-counting observers had been denied access in Pennsylvania.

The Biden campaign fired back at the Trump campaign's refusal to admit defeat with a statement tinged with sarcasm.

"As we said on July 19th, the American people will decide this election," it said. "And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House."



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7:56 pm  | US state of Georgia says will recount razor-thin vote

The US state of Georgia said Friday it will recount votes from the election in which Joe Biden has eked out a razor-thin lead over President Donald Trump.

"With a margin that small, there will be a recount in Georgia," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told reporters in Atlanta.

Raffensperger, the top elected official overseeing elections, said that the presidential contest in the state "remains too close to call."

Almost complete results as of Friday morning showed Biden leading by just over 1,500 votes in Georgia, where changing demographics and strong turnout from African-Americans have put in play a Southern state once seen as reliably backing Trump's Republicans.

Georgia is equally critical as it is the only state holding elections for both its Senate seats this year, meaning it will determine which party is in control.

Under Georgia's system, Senate races go to a runoff if no candidate receives 50 percent in the first round.

"The final tally in Georgia at this point has huge implications for the entire country," Raffensperger said.

"The stakes are high and emotions are high on all sides. We will not let those debates distract us from our work. We'll get it right and we'll defend the integrity of our elections."

He said that Georgia was letting observers from both campaigns watch the counting after Trump, with no evidence, alleged widespread fraud nationwide.



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7:41 pm  | Top Democrat Pelosi calls Biden 'president-elect'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, on Friday called Joe Biden the "president-elect" of the United States after he pulled ahead in key election results.

"This morning it is clear that the Biden-Harris ticket will win the White House," Pelosi told reporters after Biden overtook President Donald Trump in the potentially decisive state of Pennsylvania.



"President-Elect Biden has a strong mandate to lead," she said.

It is "a happy day for our country. Joe Biden is a unifier, because he is determined to bring people together."

Pennsylvania would be enough to put Biden past the magic number of 270 votes in the state-by-state Electoral College, which determines the presidency.

Biden also took a razor-thin lead in votes counted from Georgia, which Trump until late in the campaign did not consider to be in play.

The Democrat has stopped short of declaring victory but said he expected that he and his vice presidential pick Kamala Harris would triumph.

Trump has angrily made unsubstantiated claims of fraud and sought to halt vote counting after prematurely declaring victory himself following the close of polls Tuesday.

Biden's performance came despite projections that Democrats will lose several seats in the House of Representatives, a major disappointment for the party which had hoped to expand its majority.

Pelosi played down the losses but said that the next House election in 2022 "will be a steeper climb" without Trump on the ballot.

The party of the president nearly always loses seats in Congress in the first midterm election.



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6:49 pm  | Guardiola compares Premier League title race with US election

Pep Guardiola has compared Manchester City's Premier League challenge with the US presidential election in a bid to downplay the impact of Sunday's clash with Liverpool, pointing out "all the votes must be counted".



City and Liverpool have been the two dominant sides in England for the past three years, with the Reds running away with the league last season after back-to-back titles for Guardiola's men.

However, with City just six games into their league season and every team in the top-flight having dropped points in at least two games so far, Guardiola believes he must steer his side into contention over the long haul.

"It's an important game, but like the presidential elections in the United States of America, all the votes must be counted," he said at his pre-match press conference on Friday. "So there are a lot of points to play (for)."

Liverpool's title defence has been rocked by a long-term knee injury to talismanic defender Virgil van Dijk.

The Dutchman is expected to miss the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury similar to that suffered by Aymeric Laporte last season that derailed City's season.

Guardiola, though, believes the Anfield side showed their strength with a 5-0 thrashing of Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday.

"The most important thing is I hope the surgery went good for Virgil and he can recover as quick and as soon as possible," added the City boss. "I will miss him. I like to play with the best players as possible on the pitch.

"Liverpool remain an incredible, top team because the structure is there, they know exactly every player what they have to do. The result against Atalanta, we know how difficult it is to beat them away, and they did it.

"That's why Liverpool remains a top, top-class team."

However, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss expects a much tighter title race this season, with Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Leicester also posing a threat.

"They (Liverpool) are the biggest favourite, but I think what happened with the pandemic this season is different so I see other teams really strong," he added.

"Leicester remain incredibly solid, Arsenal make a big step forward, Tottenham -- (Jose) Mourinho got the team like he wants -- Chelsea now is so stable, not conceding goals, a huge squad to rotate top players. Manchester United is not there in terms of results right now but I know the quality they have, we suffered from them a lot last season.

"I think this season will be a lot of teams being there and the last five to 10 games it will be important to arrive being there with the chance to fight for the title."



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6:19 pm  | Trump campaign says 'this election is not over'

US President Donald Trump's campaign said Friday that "this election is not over" as his challenger Joe Biden edged closer to victory in the cliffhanger White House race.



The statement came after Biden overcame the president's lead in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania, putting him in position to win its 20 electoral votes.

A win in Pennsylvania would give Biden the presidency, as he currently holds at least 253 of the 270 electoral votes needed.

"This election is not over," campaign general counsel Matt Morgan said in the statement, making further allegations of irregularities.

"The false projection of Joe Biden as the winner is based on results in four states that are far from final."

Trump has made a raft of fraud allegations without evidence, including on Thursday night, and Twitter has slapped warning labels on a series of his tweets.


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5:53 pm  | Biden gets more security as he edges toward win

The US Secret Service has increased its protective bubble around Joe Biden as chances increased that he will be the next US president, the Washington Post reported Friday.



The Secret Service sent an extra squad of agents to Biden's campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware as expectations rose that the Democratic candidate would be able to declare victory over President Donald Trump as early as Friday, the Post reported.

The Secret Service, an agency under the Department of Homeland Security, is in charge or protecting the White House and senior government officials, visiting high officials, and others.

It had already deployed some agents to protect Biden around early July after he triumphed in the Democratic Party's presidential primaries.

As a former vice president, Biden could have requested Secret Service protection before then, but reportedly did not.

If Biden becomes president-elect, Secret Service protection is expected to ramp up to a higher level.


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5:44 pm  | Biden takes lead in Pennsylvania

Democrat Joe Biden took the lead in key battleground state Pennsylvania on Friday, where a victory for the former vice president would push him past the threshold of electoral votes needed to win the White House, official data showed.

More ballots are yet to be counted, but shortly before 1400 GMT, Biden had moved ahead of incumbent President Donald Trump by more than 5,500 votes, according to official provisional results from the state government.

Biden currently has at least 253 electoral votes. The magic number is 270. If he wins Pennsylvania -- a state won by Trump in 2016 -- and its 20 electoral votes, he would pass that threshold.

US networks have said so far the race is still too close to call.

Biden is also currently in the lead in key states Arizona, Georgia and Nevada. Fox News and the Associated Press have already called Arizona in Biden's favor, but other US media have said the race is still too close to call.

Trump has amassed 214 electoral votes so far, with his path to victory narrowing. The Republican incumbent has made unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud.



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4:00 pm  | US election hanging on results in key states

The outcome of the US presidential election remained in the balance early Friday as a handful of battleground states complete their vote counts.

Democrat Joe Biden has racked up at least 253 of the 270 electoral votes that he needs, according to US network projections -- and 264 if Arizona is included, which Fox News and The Associated Press have called in his favor.

Donald Trump has amassed 214 electoral votes so far, and is still in contention in several states that would afford the Republican incumbent a path to reelection.

Overnight, Biden pulled ahead in the count in the southeastern state of Georgia, which has 16 electoral votes, but it remains too close to call.

Here is a look at the situation in the key states that are still up for grabs, and paths to victory for each candidate:

Nevada

Biden had been favored to win Nevada, and its six electoral votes could put him precisely at the number needed to win if he keeps Arizona. With more than 89 percent of the vote counted, Biden was leading by less than 11,500 votes in the Western state that is home to gambling mecca Las Vegas.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, which has 15 electoral votes, Trump had a lead of around 77,000 votes with 95 percent of the ballots tabulated. He had around 50 percent of the total compared to Biden's 48.6.

Trump is favored to win the southeastern state, but mail-in ballots sent on or before election day in North Carolina can be counted until November 12.

Georgia

In Georgia, Trump's initial lead over Biden steadily slipped away as vote counting continued in heavily Democratic areas, and the former vice president is now slightly ahead.

Biden's lead is just 1,096 votes, and he currently holds 49.4 percent of the total. Some 98 percent have been counted.

Georgia has not chosen a Democrat for president since Bill Clinton in 1992. Its 16 electoral votes would put Biden just under 270 -- or over the top if he holds Arizona.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is the biggest prize remaining, with 20 electoral votes. Trump is currently leading, but the majority of votes left to be counted are in Democratic-leaning areas such as greater Philadelphia.

Trump's lead had dwindled to about 18,000 votes with 95 percent of the ballots counted.

The remaining votes are expected to favor Biden, but the race there remains too close to call.

Arizona

One wild card that could upset these calculations: Arizona. Fox News and The Associated Press have already called the state's race in Biden's favor, but other networks including CNN and NBC have said it's still too close to call.

Biden had a lead of about 47,000 votes with about 90 percent of the ballots counted. He holds 50.1 percent of the total compared to Trump's 48.5.

Arizona has 11 electoral votes.

Paths to victory

Much of the delay has resulted from a flood of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic -- and those votes have tended to favor Democrats.

If Biden's lead in Arizona holds, and he wins Nevada or Georgia, he would pass the threshold of 270 electoral votes.

Should Trump hold North Carolina and Georgia but lose Arizona, he must take Nevada as well as Pennsylvania to win.

Simply winning Pennsylvania will not be enough for the president.

Much to Trump's chagrin, Pennsylvania has decided to allow mailed ballots sent by election day but received up to three days afterwards to be counted. Authorities expect to complete the count by Friday.

Another factor that could keep the battle alive: The Trump campaign has unleashed a legal blitz in key states vital to the incumbent's reelection.

It has sued to disqualify late-arriving ballots in Pennsylvania, sued in Nevada and Georgia over alleged irregularities, and has demanded a recount in Wisconsin.



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12:20 pm  | BREAKING NEWS: Biden takes the lead in Georgia

In Georgia, a generally Republican state, Democrat Joe Biden has leapfrogged President Donald Trump, who only a little while ago had a razor-thin and fast vanishing lead of just 600-odd votes. If Biden hangs on here, it is as good as game over for Trump.



Nonetheless, Biden still has other options in a race that is very much in his favour.

In Arizona and Nevada meanwhile, the former US vice-president Biden is holding on to slim leads and if he wins these states, he will win the presidency.

But the biggest piece of the puzzle is Pennsylvania, where Trump's early lead is again steadily draining away.

Biden currently is projected to have 253 of the 538 electoral college votes divvied up between the country's 50 states. He has 264 with the inclusion of Arizona, which Fox News and the Associated Press have called in his favor but other major organizations have not.

If Biden takes Pennsylvania, he will grab 20 more electoral college votes, thereby instantly topping the necessary 270 for overall victory.


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11:48 am  | Neck and neck race for Georgia

Mail-in ballots have tilted heavily to Democrats. In fact, CNN has just reported Joe Biden's steady closing in on Donald Trump in the key state of Georgia, one of the few remaining states that will determine the outcome of this election.

As it stands, from this state, Trump has 2,448,232 votes (49.4%) while Biden, who has been consistently gaining ground on the incumbent, now has 2,447,769 votes (49.4%) with 99% of votes counted.

The big shift to postal ballots this year reflected the desire of voters to avoid risking exposure to COVID-19 in crowded polling stations during a pandemic that has already killed 235,000 Americans.



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11:17 am  | Biggest voter turnout in US history

After three exhausting days of crunching the numbers, Americans and the rest of the world will soon know who the president-elect will be after one of the tightest contests in US history.

Democrat Joe Biden is on the cusp of becoming the nation's 46th president, with statistics placing him head of President Donald Trump.




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10:17 am  | 'Two detained outside Pennsylvania vote count centre'

US police have detained two men outside a Philadelphia polling station in Pennsylvania, a battleground state yet to declare a winner in the presidential election, local media reported Friday.

Ballot counting continues in four crucial states days after Tuesday's vote, with Democrat Joe Biden still confident of capturing the presidency from incumbent Donald Trump.

Trump, narrowly ahead in Pennsylvania, has made unsubstantiated claims about vote rigging in these key states.

Shortly after 10 pm (6am Ugandan time) two men were detained outside the Philadelphia Convention Centre where vote counting is ongoing, according to the Philadephia Inquirer.

The local newspaper said the men were detained following a tip-off, first reported by 6ABC Action News Thursday night, that an armed group were heading to the center.

No injuries have been reported.

Demonstrators hold up signs as they march during a Count Every Vote demonstration at Pennsylvania State Capitol on November 5, 2020 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania



The hugely contentious US election has come down to four states -- Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada -- deciding the victor.

Since Election Day the president has fired off tweets calling for ballot counting to be stopped, and contended without proof there has been voter fraud.

But his tweets have been masked with notices telling people the claims are misleading.

On Thursday Facebook shut down pro-Trump group "Stop the Steal" that was organizing protests against vote-counting.

Philadelphia police did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment.


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9:51 am  | Votes from key states: The latest statistics

It is not looking good for the Donald Trump camp, as vote results from the key states continue to indicate his challenger Joe Biden fast-catching him and inch closer to winning the US election.



CNN reports that in Georgia (16 electoral votes), Trump has 2,448,081 votes (49.4%) while Biden has 2,446,814 votes (49.4%) with 99% of the votes counted. It is very, very, very close.

In Arizona (11 electoral votes), Biden has 1,532,062 votes (50.1%) while Trump has 1,485,010 votes (48.5%) with 90% of the votes counted.

In Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Trump has 3,286,171 votes (49.5%) while Biden has 3,267,942 votes (49.2%) with 95% of the votes counted.

If Biden wins Pennsylvania, he is the next US president - because he will have garnered more than the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.


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9:13 am  | Kamala Harris: On the cusp of US election history

Kamala Harris is on the verge of what would be a double-dream for US Democrats: becoming the nation's first woman vice-president and ending Donald Trump's turbulent rule.



Harris came into the November 3 election already a repeat trailblazer as California's first Black attorney general and the first woman of South Asian heritage elected to the US Senate.

But winning the vice presidency, a heartbeat away from leading the United States, would be the most significant barrier she has broken yet and a stepping stone to the ultimate prize.

With the 77-year-Biden expected to serve only a single term if elected, Harris would be favored to win the Democratic presidential nomination four years from now.

That could give her a shot at more history-making -- as the first female president of the United States.

"My mother raised me to see what could be, unburdened by what has been," Harris, 56, wrote on Twitter.

Since being tapped as Biden's running mate in August, she has slammed President Donald Trump on his chaotic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also racism, the economy and the president's crackdown on immigration.

Harris was born to immigrants to the United States -- her father from Jamaica, her mother from India -- and their lives and her own have in some ways embodied the American dream.



She was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, California, then a hub for civil rights and anti-war activism.

Her diploma from historically Black Howard University in Washington was the start of a steady rise that took her from prosecutor, to two elected terms as San Francisco's district attorney and then California's attorney general in 2010.

However, Harris's self-description as a "progressive prosecutor" has been seized upon by critics who say she fought to uphold wrongful convictions and opposed certain reforms in California, like a bill requiring that the attorney general probe shootings involving police.

"Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state's attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent," law professor Lara Bazelon wrote in The New York Times last year.

Yet Harris's work was key to forging a platform and profile from which she launched a successful Senate campaign in 2016, becoming just the second Black female senator ever.

Her stint as attorney general also helped her forge a connection with Biden's son Beau, who held the same position in the state of Delaware, and died of cancer at the age of 46 in 2015.

"I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her work, and that mattered a lot to me, to be honest with you, as I made this decision," Biden said during his first appearance with Harris as running mates.

A veteran campaigner, Harris oozes charisma but can quickly pivot from her megawatt smile to her prosecutorial persona of relentless interrogation and cutting retorts.

Clips went viral of her sharp questioning in 2017 of then-attorney general Jeff Sessions during a Capitol Hill hearing on Russia.

"I'm not able to be rushed this fast! It makes me nervous," an exasperated Sessions replied at one point.

Harris also clashed with Biden during the first Democratic debate, chiding the former senator over his opposition to 1970s busing programs that forced integration of segregated schools.

"There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school, and she was bused to school every day," she said. "And that little girl was me."

That clash didn't stop him from picking Harris, who has brought that feisty energy to Biden's carefully stage-managed campaign.

During her only debate against Vice President Mike Pence, Harris raised her hand as he tried to interrupt her.

"Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking. I'm speaking," she said with a glare, silencing Pence.

Within hours of the debate, T-shirts bearing her words were being offered for sale online.


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8:25 am  | However the US election goes, Wall Street marches on

From the US presidential election to the state of the economy, on paper this week did not go well for Wall Street, and yet stock indices climbed ever higher.

A man passes by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 4, 2020 in New York



Wall Street's preferred candidate President Donald Trump has lost key states and may indeed lose the White House. The US economy is still suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, and Congress could remain split between Democrats and Republicans for the next two years, meaning much-needed stimulus spending may come haltingly or be undersized.

The ingredients are all there for US stocks to plunge -- and yet the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up seven percent for the week and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index rose nearly nine percent.

What can be behind this paradox?

No descent

At the final presidential debate in October, Trump warned the 43 percent of Americans who invest their retirement savings in stocks that if his challenger Joe Biden wins, "Your 401k will go to hell."

The markets have been Trump's preferred measure of success since taking office in 2017, and under his administration the Dow has climbed by a third and the Nasdaq almost doubled.

The growth has been helped by deregulation and corporate tax cuts passed by Trump, and a Fortune magazine poll in October found that 54 percent of investors thought the president was better for the stock market versus 42 percent for Biden.

Democrats aren't traditionally favored by traders, who view them as the party of tax increases and social policies that could cut in to profits.

But for now, Wall Street doesn't seem to mind: the fear before the vote was of weeks-long uncertainty before a winner is declared, but the final contested states are expected to announce results in coming days.

Stimulus

In fact, markets may welcome Biden's arrival in the White House, particularly if Democrats are denied control of the Senate, leaving Republicans in a position to temper his agenda.

A much-anticipated "blue wave" that would have given the Democrats control of Congress and the White House hasn't appeared, meaning Biden's program of tax hikes on the rich and corporations may be harder to get approved.

"With a split Congress, the market knows that, if President Trump wins, there won't be an adverse change in tax policy. The market believes that, if former vice president Biden wins, there won't be an adverse change in tax policy," said Patrick O'Hare of Briefing.com.

However Sam Stovall, chief strategist at CFRA, said the S&P 500 index has seen better returns under unified governments, where one party controls both the White House and Congress.

This also matters for the issue of passing another stimulus measure to help the US economy recover from the pandemic, after key provisions of a $2.2 trillion measure enacted in March lapsed.

Wall Street wants Congress to pass another massive package -- but not one so big that it would require higher taxes to pay for it.

Economy suffers, markets benefit

Outside the stock market, things are not looking great.

The United States this week saw two days of record Covid-19 infections, topping 120,000 new cases on Thursday, and few believe its economy will recover with the virus uncontained. Europe is also seeing a surge in cases, hampering its economies.

Yet investors are still betting on Wall Street, which has been aided by the Federal Reserve's decision to slash interest rates to zero at the pandemic's start and offer markets trillions of dollars in liquidity.

With scant returns on bonds, investors are now betting on riskier assets like stocks, and their boom has been helped by Congress's approval in 2017 of a measure lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, which Trump supported.

"The market is basically saying that whoever gets in, it will be comfortable, and that the winner -- whoever it is -- is likely to spend money," particularly on a stimulus or infrastructure bill, said JJ Kinahan of TD Ameritrade.



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8:02 am  | US networks break from live Trump address due to 'lies'

Several US TV networks late Thursday halted live coverage of Donald Trump's first public appearance since election night after concluding that the president was spreading disinformation.



Trump unleashed a flood of incendiary and unsubstantiated claims in a 17-minute address, insisting that Democrats were using "illegal votes" to "steal the election from us."

The president spoke as late vote counting in battleground states showed Democrat Joe Biden steadily closing in on victory.

"OK, here we are again in the unusual position of not only interrupting the president of the United States but correcting the president of the United States," said MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, as the network quickly ended its live coverage.

NBC and ABC News also pulled the plug on their live coverage of Trump.

"What a sad night for the United states of America to hear their president say that, to falsely accuse people of trying to steal the election," said CNN's Jake Tapper.

He described it as "lie after lie after lie about the election being stolen," with no evidence, "just smears."



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7:50 am  | Fact Check: Trump claims election rigged

As the tortuous US presidential election appeared headed to a conclusion, Donald Trump addressed the nation Thursday and claimed without evidence that he was being robbed of a second term.

The White House press conference was the president's first public appearance in more than 36 hours, and came after a day punctuated by tweets that showed his displeasure as his Democratic rival Joe Biden moved closer to victory.

In his 17-minute presentation Trump made a series of inaccurate comments about the election and its conduct. He left without taking questions.

AFP breaks down what he said:

'Illegal' votes

"If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us," Trump said.

Vote counting is ongoing. The president appeared to be drawing a contrast between votes cast on election day and ballots counted later.

In several key states including Pennsylvania -- which Trump must win to be reelected -- in-person ballots were counted straight after polls closed on November 3, giving him a large lead over Biden.

But as ballots sent by mail or deposited at official drop boxes --  done because of the coronavirus pandemic -- were counted, the president's advantage eroded. Both types of voting are legal.

Mail-in voting

"I've been talking about mail-in voting for a long time. It's really destroyed our system. It's a corrupt system and it makes people corrupt even if they aren't, by nature. But they become corrupt. It's too easy," Trump said.

The president has consistently railed against mail-in voting, saying it would cause a "rigged" election. But US officials and international observers have said there has been no fraud.

"They're finding ballots all of a sudden. It's amazing how all those mail-in ballots are so one-sided," he said, though his own warnings may well have persuaded Republican voters against voting by mail.

Mail-in voting was in use in the United States long before the coronavirus pandemic, and it is a tried and tested system that was greatly expanded this year.

"There's simply no basis for the conspiracy theory that voting by mail causes fraud," Ellen Weintraub of the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) said as part of a 66-tweet thread in May, as Trump ramped up his attacks on postal voting.

"We take all election-related threats seriously," said FBI Director Christopher Wray, testifying on September 24 at a Senate national security hearing.

"We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or otherwise," he said.

Claims of victory

"We were winning in all the key locations, by a lot actually, and then our numbers started miraculously getting whittled away in secret," Trump claimed.

He went on to claim that he won the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Georgia by "a lot," and also said he was victorious in Michigan.

Trump was once ahead in all three states, but his leads dwindled when mail-in ballots were counted. Biden now has a significant advantage in Michigan -- US networks called it in his favor -- and is rapidly narrowing the gap in Pennsylvania.

Trump's lead in the southern state of Georgia fell to 0.1 percent while he was speaking.

"This is a case where they're trying to steal an election, they're trying to rig an election," the president said of his opponents.

There is no evidence to support that claim.

Control of the Senate

"We kept the Senate despite having twice as many seats to defend as Democrats," Trump said.

With votes still being counted and at least one runoff to come, definitive control of the upper house of the US legislature has not been determined. As of 0230 GMT on Friday, the split is 48-48 between Democrats and Republicans, according to The New York Times.



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3:51 am  | Trump erupts as Biden closes in on US presidency

President Donald Trump erupted Thursday in a tirade of unsubstantiated claims that he has been cheated out of winning the US election as vote counting across battleground states showed Democrat Joe Biden steadily closing in on victory.

"They are trying to steal the election," Trump said in an extraordinary statement at the White House two days after polls closed.



Providing no evidence and taking no questions afterward from reporters in the room, Trump used the remarks of nearly 17 minutes to make the kind of incendiary statements about the country's democratic process that have never been heard before from a US president.

According to Trump, Democrats were using "illegal votes" to "steal the election from us."

"If you count the legal votes, I easily win," he claimed. "They're trying to rig an election. And we can't let that happen."

Beyond the rhetoric, Trump's complaints were specifically targeting the integrity of the huge number of ballots mailed in, rather than cast in person on Election Day.

The big shift to postal ballots this year reflected the desire of voters to avoid risking exposure to Covid-19 in crowded polling stations during a pandemic that has already killed more than 230,000 Americans.

However, because Trump often denied the seriousness of the virus and told his supporters not to support mail-in ballots, far fewer Republicans took advantage of the option, compared to Democrats.

Several major US television networks cut away from live coverage of Trump's event soon after it started, with MSNBC citing the need to correct false claims by the president.



Biden closes in

Trump's rant came as returns from still undeclared states around the country showed Biden trending toward victory.

Biden, 77, was just one or at most two battleground states away from securing the majority to take the White House. Trump, 74, needed an increasingly unlikely combination of wins in multiple states to stay in power.

In comments to reporters in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said "we continue to feel very good."

"We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Senator (Kamala) Harris and I will be declared the winners," he said.

Trump, who shocked the world in 2016 when he won the presidency in his first ever run for public office, lashed out in a series of written statements before holding the White House appearance -- the first in public since the night of Tuesday's election.

Biden, who has promised to heal a country bruised by Trump's extraordinarily polarizing four years in power, appealed for "people to stay calm."

"The process is working," he said in Wilmington. "The count is being completed. And we will know soon."



All about Pennsylvania?

In Georgia, a generally Republican state, Trump had a razor thin and steadily slipping lead of less than 3,500 votes. With 98 percent of ballots already counted, the president and Biden were headed to a photo finish.

In Arizona and Nevada, Biden held on to slim leads. If Biden wins both those states he would also win the presidency.

But the biggest piece of the puzzle was Pennsylvania, where Trump's early lead was again steadily draining away, as election officials homed in on processing mail-in ballots, which are more typically cast by Biden supporters.

The Democratic hopeful currently has 253 of the 538 electoral college votes divvied up between the country's 50 states. He has 264 with the inclusion of Arizona, which Fox News and the Associated Press have called in his favor, but other major organizations have not.

If Biden took Pennsylvania, he would grab 20 more electoral college votes, thereby instantly topping the necessary 270 for overall victory.  

With just over 325,000 ballots outstanding, the official overseeing elections in Pennsylvania, Kathy Boockvar, told an early evening press she could not give an estimate for a complete count.

"It's very close in Pennsylvania, right?" Boockvar said. "So that means it's going to take longer to actually see who winner is."

Latest results showed Trump's lead in the state had shrunk to around 61,000 votes.

Trump tries to stop counts

Trump's campaign continued to insist that the president has a way to win, citing pockets of Republican support yet to be counted in such close races.

But Trump's overwhelming focus was on claiming, without evidence, that he was a victim of mass fraud.

Trump prematurely declared victory Wednesday and threatened to seek Supreme Court intervention to stop vote-counting but it has continued nonetheless.

Since then, his team fanned out across the battleground states challenging the results in court and staging a series of press conferences where supporters lodged allegations of irregularities.

"STOP THE COUNT!" Trump tweeted earlier Thursday, referring to his unsupported claim that the mail-in ballots in particular are fraudulent.

But while Trump was demanding that counting be halted in Georgia and Pennsylvania -- where he is leading -- his supporters and campaign insisted that it continue in Arizona and Nevada, where he is trailing.

The campaign has announced lawsuits in Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania and Michigan -- where it has already been dismissed -- as well as demanding a recount in Wisconsin, where Biden won by just 20,000 votes.

Bob Bauer, a lawyer for the Biden campaign, dismissed the slew of lawsuits as "meritless."

"All of this is intended to create a large cloud," Bauer said. "But it's not a very thick cloud. We see through it. So do the courts and so do election officials."



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3:42 am  | Joe Biden inches closer to election victory

The picture is increasingly not looking good for President Trump, as vote results from the key states continue to indicate his challenger Joe Biden fast-catching him and inch closer to winning the US election.

CNN reports that in Georgia (16 electoral votes), Trump has 2,446,850 votes (49.4%) while Biden has 2,443,364 votes (49.3%) with 99% of the votes counted. Here, the President leads with 3,486 votes.

In Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Trump has 3,263,995 votes (49.8%) while Biden has 3,199,729 votes (48.9%) with 94% of the votes counted. The sitting president has a 64,266-vote lead over his Democratic rival.

If Biden wins Pennsylvania, he is the next US president - because he will have garnered more than the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.


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3:10 am  | Trump claims would win unless Democrats 'steal' election



President Donald Trump has claimed WITHOUT EVIDENCE that Democrats were trying to "steal" the US election with illegal votes, saying he would "easily win" the race against Joe Biden without the alleged interference.

"If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us," said the president as his reelection hopes hung by a thread.

Trump said his team had launched a "tremendous amount of litigation" to counter what he called the "corruption" of Democrats, even as several officials in battleground states where the vote remains undecided have defended the integrity of the vote.





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2:21 am  | Global stocks keep climbing after US election as dollar retreats

Stock markets continued to push higher Thursday on continued buying momentum following the US election despite the still unresolved presidential contest, while the dollar slid as the Federal Reserve pledged to continue to support the economy.



There were no major developments in the US presidential contest, with five states still undeclared. Challenger Joe Biden is ahead in the Electoral College tally following wins in Michigan and Wisconsin, but vote counting continued in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina and Nevada.

"Investors largely ignored the heated debates and the uncertainty regarding the too-close-to-call states and that points to strong underlying buying pressure on the Street," said Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman.

"All of the key sectors closed in the green following a clearly bullish session on Wall Street."

Analysts have said the rally reflects enthusiasm at the apparent outcome of the election, which may leave Washington politically divided and pose a barrier to sweeping policy changes that could upset investors, such as tax increases.

US stocks have risen four days in a row, with the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all gaining at least two percent on Thursday.

Markets also are expecting additional fiscal spending in the US now that the election is over.



Virus spike 'particularly concerning'

However, both the US and Europe are contending with rising coronavirus cases.

Europe has again become the worst-hit global region, and Romania became the latest government to announce tough new restrictions to counter the second COVID-19 wave washing over the continent.

Greece will go back into lockdown from Saturday for three weeks to battle a second wave of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced.

Worries about the virus also continue to cloud the outlook in the United States, prompting the Federal Reserve Thursday to reiterate its pledge to use all its tools to support the US economy.

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases is "particularly concerning," Fed Chair Jerome Powell told reporters following the central bank policy meeting.

While the United States has done better than expected economically, the outlook "is extraordinarily uncertain," he said.

The Fed chief warned that despite a jump in growth, "the pace of improvement has moderated" and spending has slowed, while the economy has regained just half the jobs lost in March and April.

"A full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it's safe to re-engage in a broad range of activities," he said.

That dovish posture weighed on the dollar, which fell sharply against the euro and other currencies.




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2:12 am  | Trump to deliver statement from White House

President Donald Trump will deliver remarks from the White House on Thursday evening (US time), a spokesman has said, in what will be the US leader's first televised appearance since election night.

Trump's statement is scheduled for 6:30 pm (2:30am Ugandan time), and comes as the president and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden await results from the remaining undecided states including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada that will determine the election winner.


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1:45 am  | Biden says has 'no doubt' he will win US election



Democrat Joe Biden has said he has "no doubt" he will defeat President Donald Trump and be declared winner of the US election, insisting that voters remain patient and that the result will be known "very soon".

"We continue to feel very good about where things stand. We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Senator (Kamala) Harris and I will be declared the winners," Biden told reporters in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden, 77, is leading Trump in the race for the 270 electoral votes that will put one of them over the top, with the Democrat's campaign asserting they believe he has enough votes to win in key battleground states that remain undecided, like Pennsylvania.


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1:29 am  | Gloved and masked, US vote counters keep focused on historic task

If it were at another time, what they were doing could seem like nothing much, maybe office sorting of some kind.

But the stakes could not have been higher on Thursday as workers in masks and gloves stood over folding tables to verify and count, one by one, the remaining ballots in the yet to be decided US presidential election.



The world was watching -- and so, of course, were the campaign teams for President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden along with their teams of lawyers.

Huge numbers of journalists from around the world were gathered, staking out space to record what will be a historic moment.

There was often not much to see -- just workers going about their task, sure and steady, dressed casually, sometimes with lanyards and IDs around their necks.

They made their way through a mountain of mailed ballots, the preferred method for many voters this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, checking their validity then sorting and running them through counting machines.

The number of mailed ballots was the reason there were repeated warnings ahead of Tuesday's election that the process could take longer this year and will require patience -- a prediction that proved accurate.

In some cities, such as Philadelphia, protesters gathered outside counting centers and Trump's team pressed for greater access, seeking, without evidence, to sow further doubt on the process as Biden moved to the cusp of gaining enough electoral votes for victory.

'Feel that pressure'

There were a handful of protesters during the day on Thursday in Atlanta, Georgia, a major city in the American south and one with a proud history of African-American activism as the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr.

Georgia unexpectedly became an epicenter of attention after Biden performed surprisingly well in the Republican stronghold, making a serious run at its 16 electoral votes.

Should he overtake Trump in the remaining ballots, he would become the first Democratic nominee for president to win the state since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Nevertheless, there was a relaxed, almost mundane atmosphere as counters focused on the job at the arena that is usually the home of the Atlanta Hawks NBA basketball team.

Officials defended workers against attempts to cast a cloud over the process.

Gabriel Sterling of the Georgia secretary of state's office, which oversees the organization of elections, spoke of the small margin between the two candidates in his state and said "we are aware of that fact."

"And the county elections officials feel that pressure. They understand. They are working hard," he said at the state capitol.

"My hats are off to them having to go through this process and be under this level of scrutiny."

He added, firmly, that they were "not involved in voter fraud. These people are not involved in voter suppression."

Sterling said early Thursday that about 60,000 votes remained to be counted.

'I feel safe'

On the other side of the country in the Las Vegas area -- more often known as the country's gambling mecca -- gloved workers separated by glass dividers fed ballots through counting machines, one of a series of steps in the process of verifying and tabulating the votes.

There were also few protesters on Thursday there, which is located in Nevada, another state that remained too close to call two days after the election.

Joe Gloria, registrar of voters for Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, seemed somewhat harried as he explained to journalists the work that remained, speaking through a mask.

But there was also a reminder that while the counting can seem drab and boring, there are heavy tensions underlying it.

Gloria was asked about protests on Wednesday night and if he felt safe.

"I can tell you that my wife and my mother are very concerned for me, but we have security here," he said.

"I feel safe. We're going to be OK. We're going to continue to count. We will not allow anyone to stop us from doing what our duty is in counting ballots."



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1:11 am  | Trump campaign faces legal action for using Village People song at rallies

Lawyers will file a complaint "in the next few days" over the unauthorised use of the Village People hit "YMCA" at campaign rallies for US President Donald Trump, a rights attorney said on Thursday.

The 1978 disco anthem was used both at rallies and as the soundtrack to a campaign video ahead of Tuesday's US presidential election.



The rights holders, including Scorpio Music "have discovered with amazement this misappropriation, moreover for partisan and electoral purposes for the benefit of Donald Trump, which they would never have accepted," said lawyer Richard Malka,

The unauthorised use of the song will "be the subject of a complaint in the next few days, both in France and in the United States, against any initiator or accomplice of what constitutes outright theft of the property of others ", he said.

The YMCA song was penned by French writers Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo and Village People lead singer Victor Willis.

The Village People had hits on both sides of the Atlantic with "YMCA" as well as "In the Navy" and "Macho Man" in the late 1970s.


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12:10 am  | One-by-one: Why is the US vote count so slow?

Fulton County election workers examine ballots while vote counting, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia

 

A slow grind of ballot counting has held the United States and the world in suspense since Tuesday's presidential election.

Fresh updates were coming in at a painful rate of a few thousand votes at a time, so why is it taking so long?

"Fast is great, and we appreciate fast. We more appreciate accuracy," said Gabriel Sterling, an elections official in Georgia.

The COVID mail-in

Worries about spreading COVID-19 pushed many to embrace voting by mail for the first time.

Some states have been overwhelmed by the volume of mailed-in ballots, which are expected to top 70 million out of more than 150 million votes.

The short time available to adapt to large-scale mailed ballots created multiple headaches.

Election officials needed new kinds of ballot papers, new processing machines, and simply more room, more tables and chairs and workers.

The creaking US postal service, hit with cutbacks of workers and machinery, has also been a bottleneck.

In preparation for the mail-in surge, a number of states stretched out the time after the November 3 election day that mailed ballots could be received.

Some however did not add time on the front end to open the envelopes and sort the ballots.

In Michigan, elections workers could only start opening envelopes on Monday, one day before election day.

Pennsylvania, where much attention is focused on the count, only began on Tuesday itself.

Envelopes and signatures

The process of sorting the mailed ballots is onerous.

In many states, though not all, the ballots must be verified by matching the voter's signature on the outer envelope with one in a database.

For ballots that arrive after election day, they also have to review the postmark to be certain it was mailed early enough. In the past the postal service did not always postmark envelopes.

Many places have machines that can do the initial work, but rejections can be high in number and have to be reviewed by hand.

Then the ballots have to be removed from the envelopes, and in many states, also from inner "privacy envelopes," and then stacked into piles to be inserted into voting counters.

If counting machines cannot read the ballots, they are checked and the votes logged by hand, with more than one official watching to ensure accuracy.

Legal and technical hurdles

Many other problems can bog down the count. In South Carolina one county had to resort to counting each of 14,600 ballots by hand because a printing error led to machines not being able to count them.

And each ballot has far more than presidential candidates: candidates for Congress, state and local government, police chiefs, judges, and even coroners.

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania -- where Pittsburgh lies -- had to temporarily halt the manual counting of some 30,000 problem ballots.

Trump's campaign and the Republican Party are also pursuing counting freezes, recounts and vote disqualifying rulings in court in several states, aiming to slow the process and hopefully turn it in their favor.



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11:48 pm  | It is crunch time

At this stage of the vote counting process, Joe Biden is leading both in the popular vote and the electoral vote.

The former US vice-president has 72,273,958 popular votes (50.5%) while Donald Trump has 68,511,282 votes (47.9%).

In the race for the 270 electoral votes, which guarantees victory for the candidate who reaches that mark, Biden has the advantage over the sitting Republican president. But it has now come down to the remaining uncalled states.

In Arizona (11 electoral votes), Biden (1,470,560 votes - 50.5%) has a slight edge over Trump (1,402,431 votes - 48.1%).

In North Carolina (15 electoral votes), Trump (2,732,120 - 50%) is ahead of Biden (2,655,383 - 48.6%).

In Nevada (6 electoral votes), Biden (604,251 - 49.4%) is leading Trump (592,813 - 48.5%).



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11:14 pm  | Pennsylvania could be decided Thursday - state official

Pennsylvania could finalize its election vote count as early as Thursday, a senior official in the pivotal battleground said, with Democrat Joe Biden winning the White House if the state's votes go his way.



Biden leads President Donald Trump in the all-important electoral vote count that determines the winner of the election, and prevailing in Pennsylvania would put the challenger over the magic threshold of 270 electoral votes needed to win -- regardless of the outcome in other states yet to be called.

"I think we definitely could" know a winner in Pennsylvania by Thursday, the state's Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told CNN.

"Counties are furiously at work and it is looking like we are ahead of schedule," she added.

"I have been saying we'll have the overwhelming majority counted by tomorrow, but it's looking like we'll have the overwhelming majority counted by today."

When Boockvar spoke to CNN she said an estimated 550,000 ballots remained to be counted. Biden was trailing Trump by 108,772 votes out of 6,442,296 Pennsylvania ballots counted as of 2:45 pm (1945 GMT).

But the gap has been narrowing steadily as the state counts mail-in ballots, which have mostly favored Biden.

The former vice president has racked up at least 253 electoral votes out of 538 at stake. Pennsylvania's 20 votes would put him over the winning threshold of 270.

Demonstrators for both Biden and Trump have converged on Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's largest city, as the state's vote comes down to the wire.

If Trump holds Pennsylvania, Biden could still prevail if he wins at least two of the as-yet undecided battlegrounds of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina.

Trump has launched legal challenges in multiple states including Pennsylvania in an effort to halt or invalidate the count of some mail-in ballots.



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10:25 pm  | ANALYSIS: A look at the latest situation in the race

The US presidential election could be settled Thursday (US time) as a handful of battleground states complete their vote counts.



Democrat Joe Biden has racked up at least 253 of the 270 electoral votes that he needs, according to US network projections -- and 264 if Arizona is included, which Fox News and the Associated Press have called in his favor.

Donald Trump has amassed 214 electoral votes so far, and is still in contention in several states that would afford the Republican incumbent a path to reelection.

Expected to report final vote counts on Thursday are Georgia (16 electoral votes), North Carolina (15), and Nevada (6).

However, mail-in ballots sent on or before Election Day in North Carolina can be counted until November 12.

Biden could reach the magic number to gain the White House with a win in any of the three, if he keeps Arizona. Trump needs to capture all three to stay competitive.

Here is a look at the situation in the key states that are still up for grabs, and paths to victory for each candidate:

Nevada

Nevada, where Biden is favored, could put him precisely at the number needed to win, if he keeps Arizona. With more than 87 percent of the vote counted, Biden was leading by about 12,000 votes, according to CNN.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, Trump had a comfortable lead of about 77,000 votes with 95 percent of the ballots, about 5.38 million, tabulated.

Georgia

In Georgia just after midday, Biden lagged Trump by just over 13,500 votes with about 98 percent counted.

But he could pull in the lion's share of the final votes being counted, which include thousands in Democratic-leaning areas.

Gabriel Sterling, who works for Georgia's secretary of state, told reporters early Thursday that about 60,000 votes remained uncounted.

"Fast is great, and we appreciate fast. We more appreciate accuracy," he said.

Georgia has not chosen a Democrat for president since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is the biggest prize remaining, with 20 electoral votes. As in Georgia, Trump is currently leading, but the majority of votes left to be counted are in Democratic-leaning areas like greater Philadelphia.

At midday, Trump's lead stood at about 116,000 votes, with 92 percent of the ballots counted.

Arizona

One wild card that could upset these calculations: Arizona. Fox News and the Associated Press have already called the race in Biden's favor, but other networks including CNN and NBC have said the race is still too close to call.

Arizona's Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told ABC News that she did not expect a final count on Thursday -- but also that she doesn't expect a recount.

"It's not looking like today, probably closer to tomorrow that we'll be closer to getting through all those ballots," Hobbs said.

On Thursday, Biden had a lead of about 69,000 votes with more than 86 percent of the ballots counted.

Paths to victory

Much of the delay has resulted from a flood of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic -- and those votes have tended to favor Democrats.

If Biden's lead in Arizona holds, and he wins Nevada or Georgia, he would pass the threshold of 270 electoral votes.

Should Trump hold North Carolina and Georgia but lose Arizona, he must take Nevada as well as Pennsylvania to win.

Simply winning Pennsylvania -- where Trump leads but faces a possible onslaught of pro-Biden mailed ballots -- will not be enough for the president, even if he takes Alaska's three electoral votes as expected.

Much to Trump's chagrin, Pennsylvania has decided to allow mailed ballots sent by Election Day but received up to three days afterwards to be counted. Authorities expect to complete the count by Friday.

Another factor that could keep the battle alive: the Trump campaign has unleashed a legal blitz in key states vital to the incumbent's reelection.

It has sued to disqualify late-arriving ballots in Pennsylvania, sued in Nevada and Georgia over alleged irregularities, and has demanded a recount in Wisconsin.



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9:26 pm  | It is a waiting game in Biden's hometown

In Joe Biden's hometown of Wilmington, residents anxiously check their phones for updates and run errands to keep themselves busy, as journalists twiddle their thumbs in hotel lobbies -- all waiting for the winner of the knife-edge presidential election to be announced.

"It's exhausting. I've had maybe two hours of sleep since Tuesday," says 55-year-old Zanthia Oliver, who has just been elected to a second term on Wilmington's city council.

As of Thursday morning, Democratic challenger Biden was edging closer to the magic number of 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House, as President Donald Trump's campaign filed several legal challenges to the ongoing vote count.

Biden supporter Oliver was trying to distract herself as the pain-staking process of counting votes drags on in five states, including the key battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

"I'm just running some errands, just trying to keep busy" she tells AFP, after depositing a check at a Bank of America downtown.

Oliver says she has been fielding calls throughout the night from friends wanting to know when the election is going to be called and if it is going to go the way of Wilmington's favorite son.

"At 2:00 am I was up drinking some sleepy tea. Three o'clock I ate a banana, I'm washing clothes. It must be the adrenaline because I can't sleep," she adds.

A short distance away, outside the public library in the sleepy city of 70,000 people -- where Biden lived for more than three decades while he was a senator before becoming Barack Obama's vice president -- 58-year-old Deon Backus is taking a philosophical approach.

"There ain't nothing you can do apart from just hope for the best," he tells AFP, adding that he has only been watching the television news on and off.

"I just watch 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there. I don't get stressed out over it. My wife, she's the one it's driving crazy, not me," adds the longshoreman.

'Frenzy'

On the main shopping thoroughfare of Market Street, 38-year-old Jason Williams is refreshing the results on the MSNBC app on his phone.

"Every few minutes I'm looking at it," says the maintenance technician.

"I'm a little anxious. I want to find out who's gonna be the next president. I guess everybody is like in a frenzy."

A little over one mile away, at the Chase Center Riverfront, the home of Biden's election headquarters, hundreds of media from around the globe wait for updates.

In between broadcasts from the venue's parking lot, they pass time idly in the adjacent Westin hotel, anxious to know if Biden will become America's 46th president.

Williams thinks they might have their answer on Friday but fellow Wilmington resident Backus is prepared for a longer wait.

"I truly hope Joe's gonna do it," says Backus.

"But I'm thinking it might be another week and a half or two weeks before we find out. And then it's still got to go back and forth through the courts," he adds, referring to Trump's legal challenges.



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9:18 pm  | Picture this . . .

With no winner yet declared in the presidential election, attention is focused on the outcome of a few remaining swing states.

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to the media about a court order giving President Donald Trump's campaign access to observe vote counting operations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



Chairman of the American Conservative Union Matt Schlapp (L) and Former Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell, (C) attend a press conference by members of the Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., outside Clark County Election Department in North Las Vegas.



Hats for sale supporting the two presidential candidates hang for sale near the White House in Washington, DC.



A supporter of President Trump holds a sign during a protest outside the Philadelphia Convention center as votes continue to be counted.





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8:53 pm  | US warns UK not to wait for election result in Brexit talks

Britain should not wait for the results of the US presidential election to determine its next move in post-Brexit trade talks, a top American government official warned Thursday.



Reports in British media claim London has put the brakes on crunch negotiations with the European Union until results of Tuesday's US poll come in.

There are suggestions a "no-deal" outcome could weigh more favourably with US President Donald Trump than his challenger Joe Biden, paving the way to a profitable transatlantic accord.

But US special envoy for Northern Ireland Mick Mulvaney warned: "I would discourage the British government from waiting to determine the outcome of the election."

Mulvaney, a former acting chief of staff in the Trump administration, said the election outcome may not be resolved until "late November, early December".

A UK-EU trade deal, which has been deadlocked in key areas such as fishing rights and competition rules, needs to be in place so it can come into effect on January 1.

Both sides this week said there remained serious "divergences" in gloomy statements after the latest round of talks broke up in Brussels.

With the clock ticking, it could  be "self-defeating" for Britain to stall, Mulvaney told the Dublin-based the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) via videolink.

Earlier Thursday British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said reports that London is waiting to see what happens in the United States were "simply untrue".

"We have said on a number of occasions that time is in short supply and we really need to be making more progress in bridging the gaps which remain between the UK and the EU," he told reporters.

Britain left the EU in January following a seismic 2016 referendum decision to sever ties with the continental bloc after nearly 50 years of integration.

Under a withdrawal deal, a transition period which maintains the status quo will expire on December 31.

Unless a deal to outline future trade arrangements is signed, Britain will then revert to World Trade Organization (WTO) terms with the EU.



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7:24 pm  | Picture this . . .

Supporters of President Trump bang on the glass and chant slogans outside the room where absentee ballots are being counted at TCF Centre in Detroit, Michigan.



An activist drives past the White House with a sign supporting election vote counting, during a protest organized by Shutdown DC in Washington, DC.










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6:52 pm  | Biden at 253/264 electoral votes, Trump at 214 - US media

Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden is edging toward the magic number of 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, but several battleground states are still in play, as incumbent President Donald Trump cries foul over the ongoing vote count.

As it stands, there are five states still left uncalled, including major prizes such as Pennsylvania, and key small state Nevada -- 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 22 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 three states won by Trump in 2016 -- Michigan, Wisconsin and, according to two sources, Arizona.

In the case of Arizona, Fox News and the Associated Press have already called the race in Biden's favor, putting him at 264 electoral votes. Politico and The Wall Street Journal are also using this figure.

But other networks including CNN and NBC News have held back thus far from calling Arizona, giving him a total of 253.

Nebraska split its electoral votes between the two candidates -- 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 264 electoral votes (or 253 without Arizona) and Trump 214.

If Biden holds on in Arizona, and wins Nevada, he would reach 270.

The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the projections of US media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC/NBC News, ABC, CBS and The New York Times.

DONALD TRUMP (214)

Alabama (9)
Arkansas (6)
Florida (29)
Idaho (4)
Indiana (11)
Iowa (6)
Kansas (6)
Kentucky (8)
Louisiana (8)
Maine (1)***
Mississippi (6)
Missouri (10)
Montana (3)
Nebraska (4)**
North Dakota (3)
Ohio (18)
Oklahoma (7)
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
Tennessee (11)
Texas (38)
Utah (6)
West Virginia (5)
Wyoming (3)

JOE BIDEN (253/264)

Arizona (11)*
California (55)
Colorado (9)
Connecticut (7)
Delaware (3)
District of Columbia (3)
Hawaii (4)
Illinois (20)
Maine (3)***
Maryland (10)
Massachusetts (11)
Michigan (16)
Minnesota (10)
Nebraska (1)**
New Hampshire (4)
New Jersey (14)
New Mexico (5)
New York (29)
Oregon (7)
Rhode Island (4)
Vermont (3)
Virginia (13)
Washington (12)
Wisconsin (10)

STATES NOT YET CALLED

Alaska
Arizona (*)
Georgia
Nevada
North Carolina
Pennsylvania

* Arizona has been placed in the Biden column by the Associated Press and Fox News, but other networks including CNN and NBC News have said the race is still too close to call.

** Nebraska splits its five electoral votes -- two electors are assigned based on the plurality of votes in the state, and the other three are awarded based on congressional district. Biden took one vote, in the 2nd congressional district.

*** Maine has a similar method to Nebraska. Of its four electoral votes, three have been projected for Biden, while the fourth went to Trump.


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6:36 pm  | Stocks rise again on expectations of divided US gov't

Wall Street stocks rose for a fourth straight day early Thursday, shrugging off uncertainty over the US presidential contest and a grim new record US coronavirus cases.



Analysts say the rally seems to be built on expectations for more benign regulatory and tax policy following Tuesday's elections, with divided government expected to continue in Washington.

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.6 percent at 28,295.42.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.8 percent to 3,506.94, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 2.2 percent to 11,843.00.

While there is still no official winner of the US presidential contest, former Vice President Joe Biden is within striking distance of achieving 270 electoral votes following victories in key swing states Michigan and Wisconsin.

But analysts expect the Republicans to maintain control of the Senate, although again the final results depends on a couple of outstanding contests, including one that will not be decided until January.

"What the market knows and what it believes, though, rests strongly on the premise of there being a split Congress, so it is key for the market, in light of its post-Election Day response, that it stays that way," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.

Meanwhile, economic data released Thursday showed new applications for unemployment benefits last week held essentially steady at 751,000, rather than declining as expected.

The data was released one day after the United States reported more than 99,000 new coronavirus cases, worsening what is already the world's largest outbreak.

Against this backdrop, the Federal Reserve will conclude a two-day policy meeting today at which will be watched for any signal of the central bank's willingness to roll out new tools to help the economy, as it continues to emphasize the need for more fiscal stimulus from Congress.


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6:12 pm  | Uncalled states: Who is leading where - and by how much?

The US election is being keenly watched around the world - including South Korea, like at this railway station in Seoul



The winner of this year's US presidential election will be determined by the outcome of the remanining key states that have yet to be called, as vote counting continues. CNN has provided an update on who is leading the other by how much:

In Nevada, Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump by 7,647 votes.

In Georgia, Trump is ahead by 18, 586 votes.

In Arizona, Biden is leading by 68,390 votes.

In North Carolina, Trump has a lead of 76,737 votes.

In the very large state of Pennsylvania, Biden has been steadily chipping away on an initially huge Trump lead, and now the president leads with 135,702 votes.


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5:22 pm  | Fine margins in Pennsylvania

One of the most closely followed key states that will decide this presidential election is Pennsylvania, which is 20 electoral votes-heavy.

US media has just reported that there are some 50,000 votes left to be counted in this battleground state that has President Donald Trump have a slight lead (of about 18,000 votes) over Democrat Joe Biden.

If the former US vice-president can work his way up and win Pennsylvania, which will guarantee him over the required 270 electoral votes, he will become the 46th president of the United States of America.



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4:55 pm  | How the world has reacted to US vote

From warnings to good wishes and mockery, governments around the world have reacted very differently to the hotly-contested US election race between US President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden as votes continue to be counted.

Here is a selection:

 

Russian red rag?

"Everything that concerns our country is seen in the United States like a red rag to a bull," Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters on Thursday. "That's why we won't make any comment. Americans probably need to put some order in their own affairs themselves."

He added, however, that the uncertainty linked to the election results in the world's biggest economy "could potentially have negative consequences for the world, above all for the global economy".

Iranian irony

"What a spectacle!" Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted Wednesday. "One says this is the most fraudulent election in US history. Who says that? The president who is currently in office."

Observers offended

The head of an international observer mission to the US elections accused Trump of a "gross abuse of office" after the US president called the polls a fraud and demanded that vote counting be halted.

"The most disturbing thing was that with presidential fanfare of the White House, that is, with all the insignia of power, the American commander-in-chief called for an end to the count because of his purported victory," Michael Link from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe told the German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung.

Brazilian bias

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he hoped Trump would win.

The far-right leader, who has been dubbed a "Tropical Trump," has cultivated a close relationship with the Republican president.

"You know where I stand, I've been clear. I have a good relationship with Trump. I hope he'll be reelected," Bolsonaro told supporters on Wednesday.

Balanced Britain

Britain insisted its close partnership with the United States was in safe hands whoever came out on top -- Trump or Democrat challenger Biden.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a populist ally of Trump, refused to be drawn in parliament when grilled about the Republican's premature claim of victory.

But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "I'm not worried about the relationship."

EU worries

Spain's Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya underlined the importance of respecting institutions.

"There are many populists who don't like institutions," she said Thursday. "I'm not speaking here about the United States, but populists in general around the world. That's why it is so important to protect our institutions... because ultimately they are the guarantors of our democracy."

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Wednesday the United States was facing a "very explosive situation" and a possible systemic crisis.

French agenda

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reinforced recent statements from Paris that the nature of US-EU relations had permanently changed under Trump.

Europe needs to build a "new transatlantic relationship, which is a new partnership" irrespective of who wins, he said Thursday.

France under President Emmanuel Macron is keen for Europe to move away from its reliance on American military might for defence in particular.

Melania admirer

Ignoring the caution of his EU colleagues, the prime minister of Melania Trump's homeland -- Slovenia -- went out on a limb Wednesday to congratulate Trump for winning re-election.

"It's pretty clear that American people have elected Donald Trump and Mike Pence for four more years," Janez Jansa wrote on Twitter.

Jansa, along with Hungary's Prime Minister Victor Orban, was one of the few EU leaders to endorse Trump's candidacy, and said Biden would be "one of the weakest US presidents in history".



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4:34 pm  | Election observer accuses Trump of 'gross abuse of office'

The head of an international observer mission to the US elections accused Donald Trump on Thursday of a "gross abuse of office" after the president alleged he was being cheated and demanded that vote counting be halted.



"The most disturbing thing was that with presidential fanfare of the White House, that is, with all the insignia of power, the American commander-in-chief called for an end to the count because of his purported victory," Michael Link from the told the German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung.

"That was a gross abuse of office," he said, adding that Trump's "claims of manipulation are baseless".

Link, who works for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, warned that Trump's repeated false allegations of fraud could have far-reaching consequences.

"The major concern is that the US will not be able put back into the bottle the genie that Trump has let out.

"Even if he were to admit defeat and hand over office properly, his supporters, incited by rhetoric, may see violence as a legitimate tool because they no longer feel democratically represented," said Link.

And that is "a danger that goes far beyond election day," added the mission chief of the OSCE, which monitors elections throughout Western nations and the former Soviet Union.

On Wednesday, the mission already released a statement saying that there was no basis to Trump's claims of cheating, and that Tuesday's vote was "competitive and well managed."

Trump, 74, has claimed victory unilaterally before counting in key battleground states has concluded.

He has also made clear he would not accept the reported results, issuing unprecedented complaints -- unsupported by any evidence -- of fraud.


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2:07 pm  | Biden claws hard at Trump in Georgia

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has made up a lot of ground in the key battleground of Georgia. With about 96% of votes counted already, Donald Trump is at 49.6% while Biden is at 49.2%.

This state has a massive 16 electoral votes up for grabs. If the former US vice-president manages to pip Trump here, it will be all but over!





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1:53 pm  | Iran's supreme leader critical of US democracy

Iran's supreme leader has mocked the rancorous aftermath of election day in the United States, saying that the vote has exposed the reality of US democracy.



Well over 24 hours after the last polling stations closed in the US state of Alaska, the battle for the White House remains undecided.

US President Donald Trump has caused disquiet among even leaders of his own Republican Party by flatly alleging fraud, while his Democratic challenger Joe Biden's campaign team has accused the incumbent of seeking to deny the electoral rights of tens of thousands of postal voters.

"What a spectacle!" supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted late Wednesday.

"One says this is the most fraudulent election in US history. Who says that? The president who is currently in office.

"His rival says Trump intends to rig the election! This is how #USElections & US democracy are."

The deepening polarisation of US politics since Trump's surprise election victory four years ago has drawn expressions of concern even from Western allies, with Germany warning of a "very explosive situation" in the aftermath of the poll.

Despite US allegations that Tehran sought to use social media to influence voters in the run-up to polling day, Iran's leadership has publicly insisted it favours neither candidate, despite their sharply divergent policies towards Tehran.

Trump has led a campaign of "maximum pressure" against the Islamic republic, pulling Washington out of a multilateral deal on Iran's nuclear programme and reimposing crippling unilateral sanctions.

Biden has signalled he is ready to rejoin the landmark nuclear agreement struck in 2015 when he served as vice president under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama.

But on Tuesday, Khamenei insisted the outcome of the election would have no impact on Iranian policy.



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12:30 pm  | A historical snack for you

Twenty years ago, in 2000, just a few hundred votes separated the winner and loser in the key state of Florida.

And four years ago, a meager 77,000 vote lead in three states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin) tipped the election in favour of Donald Trump.

Things are a bit different this year.




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12:18 pm  | Joe Biden: From tragedy to verge of triumph in storied political career



He has suffered profound personal tragedy and seen his earlier political ambitions thwarted, but veteran Democrat Joe Biden hopes his pledge to unify Americans will deliver him the presidency after nearly half a century in Washington.

Rarely has the profile of opposing presidential nominees differed so sharply as in the 2020 race, which pits the empathetic Biden, with decades of leadership and a blue-collar upbringing, against brawling President Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman who insists he remains the outsider.

But in his decades-long White House quest -- Biden has run twice before -- the optimist from Delaware maintains he can shift the tone in America from anger and suspicion to dignity and respect.

"We only have two more days! Two more days, we can put an end to this presidency that has from the very beginning sought to divide us, to tear us apart," he said at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania Sunday.

"Folks. In two days, we can put an end to a presidency that has failed to protect this nation. In two days we can put an end to a presidency that has fanned the flames of hate, poured gasoline on every opportunity he had all across this nation."

At 77 and leading in the polls just days ahead of the November 3 vote, Biden is on the cusp of becoming America's oldest ever president.

He would inherit a coronavirus pandemic that shows no signs of abating and an office he believes has had its credibility shattered by the "liar" Trump.

A loss to the unpopular president, the challenger said in a candid moment recently, would mean Biden is a "lousy" candidate -- and would certainly lower the curtain on a prolific if ultimately unfulfilling political career.

But Biden is no shrinking violet. He has relentlessly hammered away at Trump's handling of the pandemic and, in 2018, told students at a Florida university that he would "beat the hell out of him" if the two men were in high school.

Enduring compassion

Biden hit the national stage at just 29, with a surprise US Senate win in Delaware in 1972.

But just one month later, tragedy struck: his wife Neilia and their one-year-old daughter Naomi were killed in a car crash as they were Christmas shopping.

Biden's two sons were severely injured but survived, only for the eldest, Beau, to succumb to cancer in 2015. The tragedies help nourish the empathy that shines through in Biden's interactions with everyday Americans.

His retail politicking skills are peerless: he can flash his million-watt smile at college students, commiserate with unemployed Rust Belt machinists, or deliver a fiery admonishment of rivals.

That personable, gregarious propensity has been curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, which brought in-person campaigning to a halt in March and has prompted a more cautious Biden on the trail.

He no longer cuts the same figure he did during his eight years as Barack Obama's vice president. Though the dazzling smile remains, Biden's gait is more delicate and his fine white hair thinned.

Opponents, and even some Democrats, wondered whether Biden, garrulous and gaffe-prone, would stumble in his long campaign against Trump.

The 74-year-old president regularly calls him "Sleepy Joe" and accuses him of diminished mental acuity.

But Biden has shrugged off the attacks, and in a flash of frustration with the relentlessly interrupting Trump during their first debate, at one point told the president to "shut up."

Elected one of the youngest senators ever, he spent more than three decades in the upper chamber before serving eight years a Barack Obama's deputy.

Biden's message is built largely on his association with the still-popular Obama and on his ability to do business with the many world leaders that his former boss sent him to meet ("I know these guys," he often reminds people).

He offers moderate politics in a divisive time, but he has pledged to take progressive action as president, on climate change, racial injustice and student debt relief.

Historic comeback

Biden almost did not make it this far. Despite being the favorite of the Democratic establishment, he was deemed by some to be too old or too centrist.

His campaign looked like it was headed for disaster after disappointing primary losses to the fiery Bernie Sanders early this year.

But Biden came roaring back in South Carolina's primary on the strength of overwhelming backing from African-American voters, a crucial base of Democratic support.

Clinching the nomination marked a sharp contrast to his 1988 flameout, when he quit in disgrace after being caught plagiarizing a speech by British politician Neil Kinnock.

In 2008 he hardly fared better, dropping out after mustering less than one percent of the vote in Iowa's caucuses.

That year he was ultimately picked as running mate by Obama, who dubbed him "America's happy warrior."

After their victory Obama quickly assigned Biden to oversee the economic recovery during the last recession.

The two men differed over Afghanistan at the front end of Obama's first term, with Biden opposing a 30,000-troop "surge."

As a senator for more than 30 years, Biden was known to forge unlikely alliances -- and, like Trump, he developed a lack of fidelity to script.

He faced a reckoning among Democrats -- including Kamala Harris, who would become his running mate -- for associating with known segregationists in the Senate and, in the midst of 1970s desegregation, for opposing "busing" policies aimed at transporting Black children to predominantly white schools.

He also caught flak for helping draft a 1994 crime bill which many Democrats believe drove up incarcerations, disproportionately affecting African Americans. Biden recently called the push a "mistake."

Other Senate episodes also threatened to spoil his presidential campaign: his 2003 vote for the Iraq war, and his chairmanship of controversial hearings in 1991 in which Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

Last year he faced a storm over his own notoriously tactile approach with female voters that could suggest a man out of step with his modernizing party.

He apologized, and promised to be more "mindful" of women's personal space.

Biden relays the heart-wrenching details of his family stories so often that, despite his obvious grief, they have become part of a political brand.

The 1972 accident left his sons Beau, four, and Hunter, two, badly injured, and the 30-year-old Biden was sworn in beside their hospital beds.

Biden met his second wife, teacher Jill Jacobs, in 1975 and they married two years later. They have a daughter, Ashley.

Both boys recovered from their injuries and Beau followed his father into politics, becoming attorney general of Delaware -- but the Democratic rising star died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46.

'Get back up'

Lawyer and lobbyist Hunter Biden has had a different trajectory.

He received a lucrative salary serving on the board of a Ukrainian gas company accused of corruption while his father was vice president.

Trump's push for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens led to the president's impeachment last December by the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives, but he was acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.

Hunter was not personally accused of any criminal wrongdoing, but Trump hasn't let the issue die.

He repeatedly insists the Bidens are a "crime family" getting rich off of corruption, but the accusations are of dubious origin and polling suggests they have not stuck with American voters.

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr was born November 20, 1942 and raised in the Rust Belt town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, in an Irish-Catholic family.

His father was a car salesman, but when the city went through tough times in the 1950s and he lost his job, he moved the family to neighboring Delaware when Joe Biden was 10.

"My dad always said, 'Champ, when you get knocked down, you get back up,'" Biden says.

He made Delaware his political domain. As a young man he served as a lifeguard in a majority-Black neighborhood, an experience he said sharpened his awareness of systemic inequalities and strengthened his political interest.

Biden studied at the University of Delaware and the Syracuse University law school, and has expressed pride that he is not a product of the elite Ivy League.

He touts his working-class roots and recalls being hampered as a child by a stutter so bad he was cruelly nicknamed "Dash."

But he overcame the condition, and on the campaign trail has spoken about how he still counsels youngsters who stutter.

Biden often points to Jill, 69, as a powerful asset for his campaign, and recalled recently how she took over as mother to her husband's two boys.

"She put us back together," Biden has said.

'Proud of me?'

"It never goes away," Biden said of the pain that lives within him since losing Beau. The tragedy prevented him from launching a presidential bid in 2016.

Even today, he often stops to greet firefighters, recalling that it was they who saved his boys.

They saved Biden too. In 1988 firefighters rushed him to hospital after an aneurysm.

Biden's condition was so dire that a priest was called to give him last rites.

Nearly every Sunday Biden prays at St. Joseph on the Brandywine, a Catholic church in his affluent Wilmington neighborhood.

There in the cemetery rest his parents, his first wife and daughter -- and his son Beau, under a tombstone decorated with small American flags.

In January Biden confided about Beau and his undeniable influence: "Every morning I get up... and I think to myself, 'Is he proud of me?'"



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11:09 am  | A waiting game

Officials continue to the crunch the numbers in the key states, as America - and the rest of the world - eargely wait for the final result of one of the tightest presidential races in US history.

As it stands, Democrat Joe Biden has the edge over President Donald Trump in the electoral votes.

The final outcome of this poll is hanging on the vote count in a handful of key states.



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10:40 am  | Asian markets rally as stimulus hope trumps vote worries

Asian markets rallied Thursday as Joe Biden inched towards becoming the next US president, with investors now hoping lawmakers will soon pass a much-needed new stimulus package.



Traders brushed off Donald Trump's claims of fraud and calls to stop vote-counting by calling in lawyers, instead taking heart from the failure of a Democratic sweep of Congress, which would have likely led to tax hikes and regulation.

While crucial battleground states remain close, the former vice president said he was confident that "when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners".

All three main indexes on Wall Street surged, with the Nasdaq soaring almost four percent as tech titans including Apple and Facebook breathed a sigh of relief.

"For financial markets, though, the result is a boon," said Jeffrey Halley at OANDA.

"Gone will be a multi-trillion-dollar fiscal stimulus, in will come more monetary policy stimulus as the Federal Reserve takes the burden on its shoulders," he added.

"Even if President Trump were to make a miraculous comeback, that status quo would be unchanged. It is, therefore, little surprise that US equity markets powered higher and the US Dollar quickly unwound all of its gains yesterday."

However, Trump earlier claimed victory unilaterally and made clear he would not accept the reported results, issuing unprecedented complaints -- unsupported by any evidence -- of fraud.

"The damage has already been done to the integrity of our system, and to the Presidential Election itself," he tweeted, alleging without proof or explanation that "secretly dumped ballots" had been added in Michigan.

Still, analysts said that while Trump's court bids could cause some uncertainty, many investors were confident the uncertainty would not likely drag on.

Vaccine optimism

Hong Kong, Manila and Jakarta all rose nearly three percent, while Singapore and Seoul were also up more than two percent.

Shanghai, Sydney, Bangkok and Mumbai rallied more than one percent and there were also gains in Wellington and Taipei.

Hopes for a new economic rescue package out of Washington were providing support to equities, even though any spending bill will not be as big as previously thought under a Democrat-run Congress.

With politicians going back to work on Monday, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell lifted hopes for a quick resolution, saying: "We need another rescue package.

"Hopefully the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election. And I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year."

And in a sign that the impasse that prevented agreement over the past few months was subsiding, he indicated he would be willing to look at cash for local and state governments, which was a key sticking point.

Dealers were also keeping tabs on coronavirus developments with England going into lockdown for a second time, joining France and other key European economies, though observers said they had largely been priced into markets now.

"Accelerating Covid cases and new shutdowns are obviously not good, but I think the market will quickly look past these new measures," said Axi strategist Stephen Innes.

"Rolling shutdowns are part of the pandemic new normal, and most traders understand this will be a global feature until we get a vaccine or herd immunity."

He added that vaccine hopes were also rising, with Britain and Germany possibly on course for a jab by the end of the year.



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9:25 am  | Confident Biden edges ahead in US election, Trump claims fraud



The knife-edge US presidential race tilted toward Democrat Joe Biden early Thursday, with wins in Michigan and Wisconsin bringing him close to a majority, but President Donald Trump claimed he was being cheated and went to court to try and stop vote counting.

Tallying of votes continued through a second night in the remaining battleground states where huge turnout and a mountain of mail-in ballots sent by voters trying to avoid exposure to the coronavirus made the job all the harder.

Both candidates still had paths to hit the magic number of 270 electoral votes representing a majority of states, thereby winning the White House.

But momentum moved to Biden, who made a televised speech from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, to say that "when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners."

By flipping the northern battlegrounds of Michigan and Wisconsin, and also winning formerly pro-Trump Arizona, Biden reached 264 electoral votes against 214 so far for Trump.

To reach 270 he was hoping next to add the six electoral votes from Nevada, where he had a tiny lead, or, even better, the larger prizes of hard-fought Georgia or Pennsylvania.

In stark contrast to Trump's unprecedented rhetoric about being cheated, Biden sought to project calm, reaching out to a nation torn by four years of polarizing leadership and traumatized by the Covid-19 pandemic, with new daily infections Wednesday close to hitting 100,000 for the first time.

"We have to stop treating our opponents as enemies," Biden, 77, said. "What brings us together as Americans is so much stronger than anything that can tear us apart."

Trump claims being cheated

However, Trump, 74, claimed victory unilaterally and made clear he would not accept the reported results, issuing unprecedented complaints -- unsupported by any evidence -- of fraud.

"The damage has already been done to the integrity of our system, and to the Presidential Election itself," he tweeted, alleging without proof or explanation that "secretly dumped ballots" had been added in Michigan.

Trump's campaign announced lawsuits in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia and demanded a recount in Wisconsin.

In Michigan, the campaign filed a suit to halt vote tabulation, saying its "observers" were not allowed to watch at close distances.

Tension also shifted to the streets, even if so far there has not been the kind of unrest that some feared just ahead of the election, prompting businesses in several major city centers to board up windows.

In Detroit, a Democratic stronghold that is majority Black, a crowd of mostly-white Trump supporters chanted "Stop the count!" and tried to barge into an election office before being blocked by security.

US news networks showed an aggressive pro-Trump crowd also gathering outside a vote counting office in the important Arizona county of Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, with burly law enforcement officers forming a protective line at the facility's doors. Some of the protesters openly carried firearms, which is legal in the state.

Be 'patient'

The US election -- usually touted as an example to newer democracies around the world -- brought statements of international concern, with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer warning of a "very explosive situation" that could create a "constitutional crisis."

An observer mission from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which monitors votes around the West and former Soviet Union, found no evidence of election fraud and said that Trump's "baseless allegations" eroded trust in democracy.

Unless Biden racks up a winning score earlier, the whole contest could eventually wind up being decided by the winner of Pennsylvania, where Trump's initially big lead dwindled rapidly.

The state is a major target for Trump campaign lawyers, who have already challenged its rule on allowing mailed-in ballots received after Election Day to be counted in the US Supreme Court.

Tom Wolf, the Democratic governor of the state, insisted on everyone being "patient" and promised all votes would be "counted fully."

The tight White House race and recriminations evoked memories of the 2000 election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.

That race, which hinged on a handful of votes in Florida, eventually ended up in the Supreme Court, which halted a recount while Bush was ahead.

The US Elections Project estimated total turnout at a record 160 million including more than 101.1 million early voters, 65.2 million of whom cast ballots by mail amid the pandemic.



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8:24 am  | US election uncertainty turns focus on Fed

With America's knife-edge election yet to be called, and the COVID-19 pandemic surging across the nation, analysts will be watching the Federal Reserve on Thursday for signs of whether it may step in again to help the US economy survive the coronavirus downturn.

No victor has emerged yet following Tuesday's vote that pitted President Donald Trump against his challenger Joe Biden, which analysts hoped would also break the months-long deadlock in Washington over passing more stimulus to help the US economy recover from the pandemic.

The Fed's rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is unlikely to offer much in the way of specifics in its statement at the end of its two-day policy meeting on Thursday, besides repeating its commitment to keep the benchmark borrowing rate at zero for the foreseeable future.

But Fed Chair Jerome Powell could take the opportunity at his press conference following the meeting to signal a willingness to find new tools to help the economy, after the bank earlier this year pumped trillions of dollars of liquidity into the financial system and cut the lending rate.

The central bank chief has been increasingly vocal in his calls for Washington to spend more to help support the recovery after most provisions of a massive stimulus measure passed in March expired.

However Congress failed to reach an agreement on a new spending bill before the election, and poll results thus far show Biden with a better chance of winning the presidency than Trump, while Republicans will likely keep control of the Senate and Democrats the House.

"A split Congress will likely lead to a less-than-robust next round of household and business welfare payments and that, too, could weigh on the recovery," economist Joel Naroff said.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who won reelection, said Wednesday he wants to quickly approve new legislation in the "lame duck" session marking the final weeks of the current Congress, but in the past he has favored only limited spending programs.



Weaker recovery

The world's largest economy posted a solid rebound over the summer after Congress approved a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, but key provisions, including additional unemployment benefits and grants for businesses, have expired and recent data have shown hiring gains and other activity are slowing.

"The worry is that the Covid recession could suffer another leg down in the fourth quarter," economist Diane Swonk of Grant Thornton told AFP.

The Fed has pumped trillions of dollars in liquidity into financial markets and provided lending backstops to ensure corporations have access to funding, as well as rolled out loans for small- and medium-sized businesses -- although that program has made only 400 loans so far.

Powell has said the Fed has more tools at its disposal, though whether those would have the same efficacy as a fiscal package is unclear.

The central bank could increase ongoing purchases of government and private debt, and potentially create a financing vehicle for state and local governments which face intense budget pressures.

Meanwhile, as Trump launches multiple legal challenges against states where vote margins are tight, the uncertainty over the final outcome also could have a dampening effect on the economy.


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7:56 am  | Oregon police face off with anti-Trump protesters

Hundreds of state police and left-wing protesters were locked in a tense standoff in downtown Portland late Wednesday after rampaging anti-Trump groups smashed shop windows a day after the election, prompting the state governor to activate the National Guard.

Black Lives Matter protesters march through the streets of Portland, Oregon on November 3



The Multnomah County Sheriff's office declared a riot and made at least nine arrests, citing "widespread violence" in the city's downtown area and repeatedly warning it could deploy munitions and tear gas.

Armed police advanced on demonstrators in unison but there were no clashes, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

The protesters had earlier attended a peaceful rally in a downtown park hosted by a coalition of far-left, anti-capitalist groups featuring lectures and music.

"The mass gathering in downtown Portland is still declared a riot. Leave the area now," the sheriff's office posted on Twitter just before 8:30 pm ( 0430 GMT). It earlier said officers were being targeted with projectiles, such as glass bottles.

"In the interest of public safety, Governor Kate Brown, under advice of the Unified Command, has activated the use of the Oregon National Guard to assist local law enforcement," it said.

Portland has been the scene of months of clashes between police and protesters, angered at the repeated killings of Black Americans by law enforcement officers across the country.

Protesters who had gathered by Portland's river vowed to "protect the results" of Tuesday's close-run election and held banners proclaiming "Count Every Vote" and "The Vote is Over. The Fight Goes On."

"We want Trump out of office, that's the main focus," one protest leader told the crowd, to loud cheers.

But several of the demonstrators were openly carrying firearms, including rifles, and one anti-racism and anti-imperialism banner showed an image of an assault rifle, with the slogan "We Don't Want Biden. We Want Revenge."



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7:35 am  | In other developments . . .

On Wednesday, this man holds up his fist in the air as people gather at Copley Square at the Boston Public Library where activists called for a new political party and system, not happy with either political candidate, in Boston, Massachusetts.



The same day, protestors are arrested in New York City while taking to the streets as results of the presidential election remain uncertain.



Also on Wednesday, Minneapolis State Patrol arrest journalists and people protesting against racism and issues with the presidential election after they blocked interstate 94 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.



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6:58 am  | Where the key states stand in tight US election

The result of the US presidential election is hanging on the vote count in a handful of key states, with the race too close to call so far.

A worker with the Detroit Department of Elections celebrates after hearing the nearly final number of 167,000 absentee ballots that were counted is announced over the loudspeaker



Democrat Joe Biden has multiple paths paths to victory with his 264 electoral votes -- including Michigan and Wisconsin -- compared to 214 for President Donald Trump, who would need to take all the remaining states.

In order to win, 270 electoral votes are required. Those votes are divided up proportionately among the states.

As it stands, there are five states still left uncalled, including major prizes such as Pennsylvania and key small state Nevada, as well as Georgia, North Carolina and Alaska.

Much of the delay has resulted from a flood of mailed-in ballots due to the coronavirus -- and those types of votes have tended to favor Democrats.

If Biden's lead in Arizona holds, and he wins Nevada and its six electoral votes as expected, he will have 270 electoral votes and can claim victory.

Should Trump hold North Carolina and Georgia but lose Arizona, he must take Biden's home state of Pennsylvania as well as Nevada to win. Simply winning Pennsylvania -- or even Pennsylvania as well as Alaska and its three electoral votes, as expected -- will not be enough.

The paths to victory become more murky should some of the expected outcomes change.

Here is a summary of the situation:

Nevada

If Biden takes Nevada, it could be all over.

The Democrat is expected to win Nevada's six electoral votes, but the Western state that is home to gambling mecca Las Vegas remains too close to call.

With 86 percent counted, Biden had 49.3 percent to 48.7 for Trump.

State officials said Wednesday that further results would not be known until Thursday.

Pennsylvania

Perhaps the state that could take the longest to declare a winner -- and one that could potentially decide the outcome with 20 electoral votes at stake.

With 86 percent of the vote counted in the industrial Rust Belt state, Trump was ahead with 51.4 percent compared to Biden's 47.3 -- but the president's lead was shrinking as the vote counting continues.

Remaining ballots are expected to favor Biden, who was born in the state.

Much to Trump's chagrin, Pennsylvania has decided to allow mailed ballots sent by Election Day but received up to three days afterward to be counted due to coronavirus complications. Authorities expect to complete the count by Friday.

But on Wednesday Trump's campaign said it was suing to halt the count, accusing electoral officials of prohibiting its "observers" from approaching closer to 25 feet (7.6 meters) to vote counters.

North Carolina

Trump appeared favored to win North Carolina's 15 electoral votes despite a strong showing by Biden, but it remained too close to call.

With 95 percent counted in the southeastern state, Trump had 50.1 percent and Biden 48.6.

Mail ballots sent on or before election day can be counted until November 12.

Georgia

Biden performed unexpectedly well in the southeastern state that is traditionally a Republican stronghold, but Trump was still ahead -- though his lead was narrowing. The state has 16 electoral votes.

With 94 percent counted, Trump had 50 percent compared to 48.8 for Biden. US media were expecting an extraordinarily close race.

A final result was expected Wednesday or early Thursday (US time).



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6:45 am  | Fact Check: Claims of 2020 election fraud

Allegations of fraud and foul play in the 2020 election spread across the internet on Wednesday as officials counted ballots in battleground states that will determine the outcome of the closely fought vote between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

The claims echo repeated unfounded predictions by Trump and his campaign that fraud would occur, casting doubt on the results and laying the groundwork for legal challenges.

Challenging the results soon after the polls closed, Trump tweeted that: "We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election."

AFP examines several other claims of fraud that are circulating online.



Biden surge in Michigan

The number of reported votes for Biden in Michigan jumped by more than 138,000 on Wednesday morning, drawing online accusations of foul play.

"So while everyone was asleep and after everyone went home, Democrats in Michigan magically found a trove of 138,339 votes, and all 138,339 of those 'votes' magically went to Biden? That doesn't look suspicious at all," one Twitter user wrote.

But it was caused by human error when a zero was added as votes were counted. The mistake was quickly fixed after state officials noticed it, but a real-time report by an independent analyst fed claims of fraud online.

Caroline Wilson, county clerk for the central Michigan county of Shiawassee, told AFP: "I added an extra zero accidentally," thereby reporting 153,710 votes for Biden instead of 15,371.

"The minute it was discovered, it was corrected, probably within 20 minutes, so I'm amazed how fast this spread" Wilson said.

When the figure was lowered by the correction, 138,339 votes were removed from the Democrat's total tally without any changes to Trump's numbers.

Sharpie pen fraud in Arizona

It was also claimed that Arizona voters were pushed to use Sharpie pens on their ballots in a bid to make them unreadable and keep votes for Trump from being counted.

"The poll workers were taking the pens from voters and making them use Sharpies. Sharpies bleed through. All of the votes marked with Sharpies couldn't be read," said one Facebook post.

It included a video in which a man said: "People are coming here to vote for Donald Trump, and those votes are all getting invalidated."

But officials -- including Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs -- said using a Sharpie would not invalidate ballots, while voters also had the option of bringing their own pens.

"IMPORTANT: If you voted a regular ballot in-person, your ballot will be counted, no matter what kind of pen you used (even a Sharpie)!" Hobbs wrote on Twitter -- an assessment echoed by the election department of the state's most populous county.

Too many voters in Wisconsin?

Social media posts claimed that the number of people who took part in the 2020 election in Wisconsin exceeded the total number of registered voters.

"WISCONSIN REPORTING 101+% VOTER TURNOUT! 3,170,206 Votes Counted. 3,129,000 Registered Voters," an Instagram post said.

But it and other posts used an inaccurate number for registered voters. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, the figure stood at 3,684,726 as of November 1 -- and it may have risen since.

Reid Magney, public information officer for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, warned of numbers mentioned in online reports and that could be several days older.

"Wisconsin has election day registration… Typically hundreds of thousands of people register to vote on election day across the state," he said.



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6:30 am  | Could courts again decide the US election?

Democrats and Republicans girded Wednesday for a legal showdown to decide the winner of the tight presidential race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.

After Trump declared he was ready to go to the US Supreme Court to dispute the vote counting, his campaign announced a recount demand in Wisconsin and lawsuits in Michigan and Pennsylvania, three states critical to winning the presidency.

US networks have called Michigan and Wisconsin for Biden, while Pennsylvania remains a tossup.

Late Wednesday the Trump campaign filed suit in a fourth battleground, Georgia, as the president's lead there shrank to less than a percentage point.

Trump's behavior raised the specter of the election ultimately being decided, as in 2000, by a Supreme Court ruling on how states can tally votes.

The lawsuits

The Trump campaign lawsuits attack a unique aspect of the 2020 election -- that millions of voters cast mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Covid-19 threat forced states to promote mailed ballots and change rules on how they would be collected, verified and tabulated.

That included extending the periods for receiving ballots, due to an overburdened US Postal Service, adding time for vote-counting.

The Republicans say some of those changes were decided or implemented improperly and in ways that favor Democrats.

In Pennsylvania the Trump campaign said it would join an existing Republican suit over the state's deadline extension for receiving mail-in ballots.

If successful, they have the potential to disqualify tens of thousands of ballots that arrived after November 3.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the extension legal, and last week the US Supreme Court declined to get involved.

But the high court left the door open for a post-election challenge.

Trump's campaign also said it was suing to have Pennsylvania ballot counting temporarily halted, alleging the process was being hidden by Democrats. In Philadelphia the counting was live-streamed.

And they sued over changes to voter identification -- made to adjust to the pandemic -- saying it violated the election code.

In Michigan, the Trump campaign sued to halt ballot counting saying they were not given "meaningful access."

The Georgia suit wants counties to "separate any and all late-arriving ballots from all legally cast ballots" that arrived by the 7:00 pm Election Day deadline, Trump deputy campaign manager Justin Clark said.

Can courts decide the election?

In 2000 the White House contest between Republican George Bush and Democrat Al Gore rested on one state: Florida.

With Bush ahead by just 537 votes, and with problems with the state's punch-card ballots, the Gore campaign sought a statewide recount.

The Bush campaign appealed the case to the US Supreme Court, which ruled to effectively block the full recount, handing Florida -- and the election -- to Bush.

Experts say such lawsuits are only practical if focused on a real problem and the vote gap is narrow.

If the margin separating candidates in that state is two or three percentage points -- say, a 100,000 vote difference in Pennsylvania -- "that's pretty difficult to be litigating at the end of the day," said Derek Muller, a law professor at the University of Iowa.

However, said Muller, "if it comes down to one state, then I would expect really serious litigation."

Skittish Supreme Court

If a campaign or candidate sues over state regulations, it has to first exhaust its options in the state justice system before heading to federal court and the US Supreme Court.

By piggybacking on the existing ballot extension case, the Trump campaign  has raised its chances of reaching the high court.

But the Supreme Court has been cautious over involvement in voting matters that are decided by states, and is aware that it risked its standing as an independent body by effectively handing the 2000 election to Bush.

A case would put the political leanings of the court's six conservative and three liberal justices in the spotlight -- especially on Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the court only last month.

Trump said he rushed her appointment in part so she could be in place to hear any election cases.

The Supreme Court felt like it needed to intervene in 2000, "but it's not necessarily clear they would feel the same way today," said Muller.



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2:15 am  | πŸ”ŽFact Check: Trump's premature declaration of victory

In an address early Wednesday from the White House, after polls had closed but while ballots were still being counted in battleground states, US President Donald Trump falsely declared that he had won reelection.

His remarks came hours after a tweet in which he said: "We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!"

Trump had a significant lead in Pennsylvania and slimmer edges in Michigan and Wisconsin at the time, according to US television networks.

But Twitter flagged the tweet, saying its content was disputed given the incomplete results. Trump's opponent Joe Biden had earlier said he was confident of overturning the president's advantage in the Midwest states.

AFP fact-checks key quotes from Trump's remarks:



Disenfranchised?

"I want to thank the American people for their tremendous support, millions and millions of people voted for us tonight. And a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people and we won't stand for it."

State officials are tallying votes that were legitimately cast for both candidates before polls closed. Millions of ballots were sent by mail or deposited at official drop boxes. Trump offered no evidence -- indeed, there is none -- that people who voted for the president are being disenfranchised.

Georgia

"We have won Georgia. We're up by 2.5 percent or 117,000 votes with only seven percent left. They're never going to catch us. They can't catch us."

The count in Georgia is incomplete, with tallies in several Democrat-leaning urban centers around the state capital Atlanta yet to come. At 2300 GMT, no television network had called Georgia for either Trump or Biden, and the gap had narrowed to 1.4 percent, with 6 percent of the count remaining.

Pennsylvania

"We're up 690,000 votes in Pennsylvania. These aren't even close... with 64 percent of the vote in, it's going to be almost impossible to catch."

Trump is leading strongly in Pennsylvania and Biden faces a hard climb to erase the president's advantage. However, most of the uncounted ballots are in traditionally Democratic-heavy areas.

Mail-in ballots and 'fraud'

"This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election."

No television network or the Associated Press, the main US news agency that compiles vote returns, has declared an overall winner. Therefore, Trump's declaration of victory was premature.

Trump, without evidence, has for months criticized mail-in ballots, saying it will lead to fraud and a rigged election. But Americans relied on postal voting -- which is expected to favor Biden -- in unprecedented numbers because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump's early leads in Wisconsin and Michigan were built up by high in-person voting on November 3. But that advantage evaporated on Wednesday when mail-in votes were tallied. US networks later called both races for Biden.

After his speech, Trump had reiterated his claims on Twitter, writing: "Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the 'pollsters' got it completely & historically wrong!"

Court challenge

"We'll be going to the US Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at four o'clock in the morning and add them to the list. We will win this and as far as I am concerned we already have won it," Trump said in the White House speech.

After Biden overtook Trump in Wisconsin on Wednesday, the president's team announced plans to seek a recount, and said it was suing to halt the vote counts in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Any legal challenge will have to be pursued in individual states or at a federal level before it can reach the country's highest court.


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2:05 am  |  Biden takes big stride to winning presidency



Democrat Joe Biden took a huge step to capturing the White House, with wins in Michigan and Wisconsin bringing him close to a majority, but President Donald Trump responded with a diatribe alleging mass fraud and demanding a halt to vote counting.

In a brief address on national television, flanked by American flags and his vice presidential pick Kamala Harris, Biden said he wasn't yet declaring victory, but said that "when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners."

By flipping the northern battlegrounds of Michigan and Wisconsin, Biden reached 264 electoral votes against 214 so far for Trump. By adding the six of Nevada, where he is narrowly ahead, he would hit the magic number of 270 needed to win the White House.

In stark contrast to Trump's increasingly heated rhetoric about being cheated, Biden sought to project calm, reaching out to a nation torn by four years of polarizing leadership and traumatized by the COVID-19 pandemic.



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1:27 am  |  Biden confident of winning US election

Democrat Joe Biden has said he is confident of winning the presidency once all votes are counted, saying he is leading Donald Trump in the remaining swing states that will determine the election's outcome.



With results from Tuesday's election showing Biden steadily nearing the threshold necessary to win the White House, Trump has mounted legal challenges in efforts to suspend the counting of ballots or force recounts in battlegrounds that will determine the next president.

"After a long night of counting, it's clear that we're winning enough states to reach 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency," Biden said in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

"I'm not here to declare that we won. But I am here to report, when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners," Biden added.

Even as US networks called Michigan -- and its 16 electoral votes -- for Biden Wednesday, the president's campaign announced a lawsuit to try and suspend the vote count in the fiercely contested battleground.

Biden, speaking in a measured and calm tone, pushed back, declaring that "every vote must be counted."

"We the people will not be silenced," he added, as his running mate Kamala Harris stood by his side.

The 77-year-old former vice president spoke about the three Great Lakes states that could be key to a Biden victory, noting he had won Wisconsin by 20,000 votes.

"In Michigan, we lead by over 35,000 votes and it's growing -- a substantially bigger margin than President Trump won Michigan in 2016," he said.

And when it comes to perhaps the pivotal state of the entire election, Biden said, "I feel very good about Pennsylvania."

Trump leads in the Keystone State with 84 percent of precincts reporting. But Biden said the vast majority of remaining ballots to be counted were mailed in, and that he has been winning some 78 percent of the votes by mail in Pennsylvania.



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1:14 am  |  US politician who died of Covid wins North Dakota seat

Meanwhile, a  Republican candidate was elected to the state legislature in North Dakota, despite the fact that he had died a month earlier of coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.

David Andahl, a farmer and businessman, died on October 5 at the age of 55 "after a short battle with COVID-19," his family said on the Facebook page of his campaign for the local assembly.

"He has been a public servant for many years and was looking forward to the opportunity to serve in the state legislature," the family statement said.

That ambition was fulfilled posthumously when the former race car driver was elected to North Dakota's 8th congressional district with a third of the votes, winning the last race of his life.

Faced with a deceased elected official, the attorney general of the rural northern state said the situation would be treated in the same way as a legislator stepping down or retiring, and that the local Republican party would name a replacement.

It was not the first time in recent US history that a dead candidate has won election. In 2018, well known brothel owner Dennis Hof was elected to the Nevada assembly on the Republican ticket a few weeks after his death.


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12:56 am  |  Biden at 264 electoral votes, Trump at 214 - US media

Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden on Wednesday neared the magic number of 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House with several battleground states still in play, as incumbent President Donald Trump challenged the vote count.



As it stands, there are five states still left uncalled, including major prizes such as Pennsylvania, and key small state Nevada -- 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 22 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 three states won by Trump in 2016 -- Arizona, Michigan 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 264 electoral votes and Trump 214.

The magic number of electoral votes is 270. If Biden were to win in Nevada, he would in theory have the necessary 270.

The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the projections of US media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC/NBC News, ABC, CBS and The New York Times.

In the case of Arizona, AFP used the projection made by the Associated Press.

DONALD TRUMP (214)

Alabama (9)
Arkansas (6)
Florida (29)
Idaho (4)
Indiana (11)
Iowa (6)
Kansas (6)
Kentucky (8)
Louisiana (8)
Maine (1)**
Mississippi (6)
Missouri (10)
Montana (3)
Nebraska (4)*
North Dakota (3)
Ohio (18)
Oklahoma (7)
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
Tennessee (11)
Texas (38)
Utah (6)
West Virginia (5)
Wyoming (3)

JOE BIDEN (264)

Arizona (11)
California (55)
Colorado (9)
Connecticut (7)
Delaware (3)
District of Columbia (3)
Hawaii (4)
Illinois (20)
Maine (3)**
Maryland (10)
Massachusetts (11)
Michigan (16)
Minnesota (10)
Nebraska (1)*
New Hampshire (4)
New Jersey (14)
New Mexico (5)
New York (29)
Oregon (7)
Rhode Island (4)
Vermont (3)
Virginia (13)
Washington (12)
Wisconsin (10)

STATES NOT YET CALLED

Alaska
Georgia
Nevada
North Carolina
Pennsylvania

* Nebraska splits its five electoral votes -- two electors are assigned based on the plurality of votes in the state, and the other three are awarded based on congressional district. Biden took one vote, in the 2nd congressional district.

** Maine has a similar method to Nebraska. Of its four electoral votes, three have been projected for Biden, while the fourth went to Trump.


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11:40 pm  |  Trump challenges counts as Biden inches closer to victory

Tension spiralled in the still undecided US election Wednesday after President Donald Trump made unprecedented claims of fraud and demanded a recount in Wisconsin, where Democrat Joe Biden notched up another win to inch closer to overall victory.

While there was no official winner more than 12 hours after the last polls closed on Tuesday, the fate of the most divisive contest in decades was coming down to just a handful of states where the Republican incumbent and his challenger fought over razor-thin margins.



In the latest blow to Trump, Biden, 77, was declared the winner of Wisconsin, with an unsurmountable lead of 20,000 after 98 percent of ballots had been counted.

This mirrored Biden's slow but steady march across the remaining toss-up states in the vast country, where counting was complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic and record numbers of early and mailed-in votes.

Biden led in Michigan by nearly 45,000 votes with 94 percent counted and has already been declared winner of another tight race in Arizona. Results were still being tabulated in Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania  -- all of them close contests.

The apparent shift in fortunes toward the Democrat prompted Trump, 74, to launch a tirade claiming mass fraud that he claimed on Twitter had made his victories "magically disappear."

Trump's campaign announced a lawsuit to try and suspend the vote count in Michigan, where it said its team was denied proper access to observe vote counting.

The campaign said it was also suing to halt the counting of votes in Pennsylvania -- after the president called overnight for Supreme Court intervention to exclude the processing of mail-in ballots after the close of polls.

And it demanded a recount in Wisconsin, citing "irregularities."

Biden's confidence

The Biden camp expressed confidence, with campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon calling victory by the former vice president a "foregone conclusion."

Biden himself was expected shortly to make a statement on the knife-edge race.

But Trump has made clear he will not accept defeat before he has exhausted every possible challenge.

During the night after polls closed Tuesday, he went on live television from the White House to claim "we did win this election" and to allege there had been "fraud on the American public."

He later repeated his vague accusations of vote rigging on Twitter, despite a lack of any substantiated reports of meaningful irregularities during voting or counting.

"Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled," Trump tweeted. "Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted."

'We have to be patient'

The tightest and messiest count could potentially unfold in Pennsylvania -- the biggest prize still outstanding.

Here, Trump had a roughly 500,000 vote lead with an estimated 78 percent of the vote counted but votes were awaited from heavily Democratic parts of the state, promising to level things up.

"We have to be patient," Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said. "We may not know the results today.

"There are millions of mail-in ballots," he said. "They're going to be counted accurately and they will be counted fully."

The Democratic governor shrugged off criticism from the White House over the slow vote count and said "our democracy is being tested in this election."

"Pennsylvania will have a fair election," he said. "And that election will be free of outside influences."

The tight White House race and recriminations evoked memories of the 2000 election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.

That race, which hinged on a handful of votes in Florida, eventually ended up in the Supreme Court, which halted a recount while Bush was ahead.

The US Elections Project estimated total turnout at a record 160 million voters including more than 101.1 million early voters, 65.2 million of whom voted by mail.



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10:16 pm  |  ANALYSIS: Could US election be decided in the courts?

Democrats and Republicans were gearing up Wednesday for a possible legal showdown to decide the winner of the tight presidential race between Republican Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Trump declared overnight he was ready to go to the US Supreme Court to dispute the counting of votes, as the results remained unclear in several key states, notably Pennsylvania.

Trump's threat raised the specter of the election being ultimately decided, as in 2000, by a high court ruling on how states can tally votes or conduct recounts.



The pandemic and mailed votes

The legal problems are mainly tied to the Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing put a premium on being able to vote by mail.

Each state sets its own voting rules, and many adopted or expanded mail-in vote programs. That required changing rules on how and when mailed ballots would be collected, verified and tabulated.

To accommodate millions of mailed ballots, state legislatures and election authorities extended the periods for receiving ballots, due to an overburdened US Postal Service, added time to count the votes, and took other steps to make the process easier.

Expecting that more Democrats -- who have by and large adopted a more cautious approach to Covid-19 -- would prefer to vote by mail, Republican groups around the country filed hundreds of lawsuits to block such rule changes, saying they violated existing statutes.

Some of those suits could be pursued in the seven key states where the vote count remained extremely narrow Wednesday, in some cases with ballots still arriving in the mail.

"It's clear that both candidates believe they still have a chance to win, so the fight is very much going forward. And the fight may take place in courts," said Ohio State University election law expert Ed Foley.

Possible challenges

As in Florida in 2000, the challenges will focus on what ballots are legitimate.

Already before election day, Republicans sued over whether states like Michigan and Pennsylvania can legitimately count ballots after November 3 election day, or count those which arrive by mail after election day.

Trump has claimed repeatedly, without offering evidence, that ballots counted after election day, particularly those in key state Pennsylvania, would be "fraudulent."

Pennsylvania is particular target because, unlike Michigan and others, it agreed to sequester ballots that arrive by mail after November 3, making them clear targets.

Republicans are also challenging oversight of the counting of mailed votes, if ballots have correct postmarks, and policies to allow voters to "cure" their mailed ballots to prevent them from being discarded due to incomplete forms or unclear signatures.

Close counts

All of those issues could give challengers the ability to disqualify individual or whole groups of ballots.

In Wisconsin -- where early returns show Biden leading by about 20,000 votes, within the one percent margin needed to request a recount -- Trump's campaign said Wednesday it will demand one.

But experts say neither party is likely to go to court unless the margin between the two candidates is very narrow, as in Florida in 2000, when the election hinged on just 537 votes.

Derek Muller, a law professor at the University of Iowa, said a candidate won't sue if he or she is trailing significantly in a number of states.

"If it comes down to one state," he said, "then I would expect really serious litigation."

But if margins turn out to be two or three percentage points -- say a 100,000 vote difference in Pennsylvania -- "that's pretty difficult to be litigating at the end of the day," said Muller.

"If you have a lawsuit about ... the loss of about 10,000 votes, it's not going to make a difference if the margin ends up being 100,000," said Foley.

Skittish Supreme Court

Even if asked, the Supreme Court has been cautious over getting involved in voting matters that are decided by state laws.

And, after its decision in 2000 handing the election to Republican George W. Bush left many unanswered questions about Florida's ballot counting, the court is aware that its intervention could damage its own standing in society.

A case would put the political leanings of the nine justices -- six conservatives and three liberals -- in the spotlight.

That light would shine most harshly on the newest member, Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the court only last month, chosen by Trump.

Trump said repeatedly that he rushed her appointment in part so she could be in place to hear any election cases, placing an immediate cloud over her.

"The Supreme Court doesn't have to intervene," said Muller.

"It felt like it needed to in 2000, but it's not necessarily clear they would feel the same way today."



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10:07 pm  |  Trump wants Michigan vote count suspended

The campaign manager of President Donald Trump has asked court to suspend vote counting in Michigan.



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9:23 pm  |  Kanye West notches some 60,000 votes

The US is on knife's edge waiting for electoral results, but the fate of one candidate was clear: Entertainer Kanye West will not win the 2020 presidential race -- but still has future aspirations.



The mercurial rapper, who decided to run for the nation's highest office late in the game as an independent candidate under the Birthday Party, received approximately 60,000 votes from the 12 states where he managed to get on the ballot.

His numbers were less than a pin drop in a razor-thin presidential race, with Democrat Joe Biden holding the slimmest of leads over Republican incumbent Donald Trump as many ballots were still being counted in key states.

The hip hop star and fashion designer saw his highest numbers in Tennessee, where some 10,000 people cast their ballots for West, according to The New York Times.

The mogul who once voiced ardent support for Donald Trump made a social media show of casting his own ballot in Wyoming, saying it was his first ever.

West wrote himself in on the ballot in the western state where he failed to qualify to have his name on the ticket.

According to the picture the rapper posted of his ballot, he did not participate in any of the congressional or local races.

"God is so good," tweeted the superstar, who made a public turn to Christianity in recent years.

"Today I am voting for the first time in my life for the President of the United States, and it's for someone I truly trust...me."

Later he appeared to concede defeat while hinting at a future run, tweeting: "KANYE 2024."

Big Brooklyn, a 31-year-old rapper and music producer, told AFP in Times Square he had voted for West -- and said who becomes the president is less important than vowing to push the future leader to listen.

"It's like everybody's being distracted by who is going to win," he said.

"It doesn't really matter who's going to win if we have a plan in place to present to that president about what we need to have done."

But more broadly the campaign by Kim Kardashian's husband, who suffers from bipolar disorder, raised more questions than enthusiasm.

West long ago broke ranks with most of the left-leaning entertainment industry to loudly voice his support for Trump.

In 2018, they met in the Oval Office -- a surreal tete-a-tete that included a hug from the rapper as well as an on-camera rant.

But in 2019 he said his support for Trump had been a way to razz Democrats.



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9:06 pm  |  Trump to ask for recount in Wisconsin

President Donald Trump's campaign has said it is demanding a recount in Wisconsin, where early returns show Democrat Joe Biden with a slender lead.

"There have been reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results," campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement. "The president is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so."

Wisconsin is one of a handful of states where the fate of the US election now hangs in the balance.




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8:41 pm  |  ANALYSIS: Biden takes lead in key states in tight White House race

US President Donald Trump fired off allegations of election fraud on Wednesday, setting the stage for a potential legal battle, as Democrat Joe Biden took a slim lead in key states that could decide the bitterly contested White House race.

Americans woke up on Wednesday not knowing who the next US president would be as votes were still being counted in six battleground states that could swing the election.

As Trump vented his frustration on Twitter over the slow vote count, the Biden camp expressed confidence it was on track to win enough of the remaining close state races.

Campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said a victory by the former vice president was a "foregone conclusion."

Fueling fears of a constitutional crisis, Trump prematurely declared victory overnight and threatened to demand the intervention of the Supreme Court to stop vote-counting.

"We did win this election," the 74-year-old president said even before the final vote tallies were complete. "This is a fraud on the American public."

Trump, in a tweet Twitter labeled as potentially "misleading," continued to allege without evidence on Wednesday that there had been instances of fraud.  

"Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled," Trump tweeted. "Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted."

There have been no reports of any irregularities and the leads in numerous states have been shifting back-and-forth between the candidates as votes have been counted.

Vote-counting has been slow in several states this year because of the coronavirus-related surge in the use of mail-in ballots.

Trump has spent months denouncing mail-in ballots, making unsubstantiated claims that they are liable to fraud.

The outcome of the White House race appears to hinge on the results from six states where a winner has not yet been declared -- Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

As of 11:00 am (1600 GMT), Biden had slim leads in Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin while Trump was ahead in Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

But state election officials cautioned that with tens of thousands of ballots outstanding in some states -- millions in others -- the leaderboard could shift.

'We have to be patient'



Trump had a roughly 500,000 vote lead in Pennsylvania with an estimated 78 percent of the vote counted but votes were awaited from heavily Democratic parts of the state.

"We have to be patient," Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said. "We may not know the results today.

"There are millions of mail-in ballots," he said. "They're going to be counted accurately and they will be counted fully."

The Democratic governor shrugged off criticism from the White House over the slow vote count and said "our democracy is being tested in this election."

"Pennsylvania will have a fair election," he said. "And that election will be free of outside influences."

Biden vowed on Wednesday to ensure that no American was disenfranchised.

"We won't rest until everyone's vote is counted," the 77-year-old former vice president said on Twitter.

The Biden campaign also slammed Trump's victory claim as a "naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens."

"If the president makes good on his threat to go to court to try to prevent the proper tabulation of votes, we have legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort," it said.

Trump "will be in for one of the most embarrassing defeats a president ever suffered before the highest court in the land" if he asks it to invalidate ballots counted after Election Day, said former White House counsel Bob Bauer, a lawyer for Biden's team.

The tight White House race and recriminations evoked memories of the 2000 election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.

That race, which hinged on a handful of votes in Florida, eventually ended up in the Supreme Court, which halted a recount while Bush was ahead.

Record turnout

The US Elections Project estimated total turnout at a record 160 million voters including more than 101.1 early voters, 65.2 million of whom voted by mail.

In an election that took place under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 230,000 lives in the United States, Trump appeared to have avoided a Democratic wave predicted by some polls.

But as of Wednesday afternoon neither candidate had captured the 270 votes needed for victory in the Electoral College that determines the winner of the presidential race.

Trump's premature declaration of victory was met with criticism from some of his Republican allies.

"Stop. Full stop. The votes will be counted and you will either win or lose. And America will accept that. Patience is a virtue," tweeted Adam Kinzinger, a Republican congressman who won reelection.

"I disagree with what he did tonight," said former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for his first debate against Biden.

"There's just no basis to make that argument tonight," Christie told ABC News. "There just isn't."

Pundits had been warning for weeks that this year's election results would take time -- and voiced fears Trump would cause chaos or even violence by questioning the process.

While there were no immediate reports of unrest, stores have been boarded up throughout the capital Washington.


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8:09 pm  |  Biden takes Maine

Joe Biden has been projected by CNN to win Maine, which has a vital four electoral votes.


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7:48 pm  |  Twitter flags Trump tweets as battle spills to social media

Twitter labeled two of President Donald Trump's tweets as misleading Wednesday as a battle over the knife-edge US election spilled into social media.

The latest action came when a tweet from the president claimed ballot irregularities during the vote-counting process.

Trump alleged that there had been "surprise ballot dumps" in states where he had been leading Democrat Joe Biden in the race for the White House.

Twitter's action made the comments less visible, and users seeking to read the post were required to click through a warning that "some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading."

A Twitter spokesperson said the action was taken "in line with our Civic Integrity Policy," and would "significantly restrict engagements" with the tweet.

A similar action was taken against an earlier tweet by the president suggesting the Democratic nominee was seeking to "steal" the election.

The Twitter spokesperson said it took action on a number of other comments including premature victory claims by a North Carolina Republican Senate candidate and one comment contending prematurely that Biden had won Wisconsin.

"As votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take enforcement action on Tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election broadly," Twitter said.

Facebook also added disclaimers to messages by Trump as social platforms scrambled to live up to a pledge to root out misinformation about the election.



Fighting misinformation

Facebook has activated a command center watching the platform and ready to react to misinformation during the vote.

"Our Election Operations Center will continue monitoring a range of issues in real time," said a Facebook statement.

Nonprofit activism group Avaaz said its "war room" was also keeping tabs on Facebook and reported "last-ditch" Spanish-language misinformation, including posts about the prospects of a post-election coup or civil war.

The Election Integrity Partnership research coalition said a Google search for swing states turned up a YouTube video channel that was displaying a fake live feed of election results.

"Thousands of people may have been duped into streaming a fake YouTube video purporting to show election night results," the researchers said in a post.

YouTube removed the video.

Some groups at Facebook were being used to share stories of going to polling places without face masks to "scare liberals away," according to a post by Kayla Gogarty of nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters.

And a #stopthesteal hashtag was being used on social media posts tailored to cast doubt on the voting process.

Facebook stressed that it would place warning labels on any posts which sought to claim victory prematurely.

The platforms have pledged to step up scrutiny of false election information, including premature claims of victory, seeking to avoid a repeat of 2016 manipulation efforts.

Over past days, Facebook and Twitter added disclaimers to Trump posts calling into question the integrity of mail-in ballots.

Twitter last month updated its policy aiming to prevent efforts to manipulate or interfere in elections. That calls for actions against false claims for victory or any incitement to violence.

YouTube has also sought to limit the sharing of videos with election misinformation. Last month it began adding information panels to videos about voting by mail.



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7:36 pm  |  Uganda's presidential polls for January 14

Speaking of elections . . .

Here in Uganda, the presidential elections will be held on January 14, according to an official announcement Wednesday.

"The 14th day of January is appointed polling day for presidential elections 2021," the acting spokesperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, Paul Bukenya, said on Twitter.

The commission has called on all candidates to attend a meeting on Thursday where the "detailed programme" of the election will be unveiled, he said.

Eleven people have filed their bid for the presidency, including President Yoweri Museveni.



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7:15 pm  |  Brazil's President Bolsonaro hopes Trump wins

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said he hopes Donald Trump comes out ahead in the down-to-the-wire US election, lashing out at Democratic contender Joe Biden's comments on protecting the Amazon rainforest.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro



The far-right leader, who has been dubbed a "Tropical Trump," has cultivated a close relationship with the Republican president, and has not been shy about endorsing his bid for reelection.

"You know where I stand, I've been clear. I have a good relationship with Trump. I hope he'll be reelected," Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace in Brasilia.

He denied backing Trump amounted to "interference" in US affairs, saying, "Who are we to interfere anyway?"

"How do you want me to interfere? Economically? Militarily? A cyber attack?" he joked.

Turning to Biden, who is locked in a tight race with Trump that could stretch Tuesday's election into hours or days of vote-counting, Bolsonaro attacked the former vice president for urging Brazil to better preserve the Amazon.

"The Democratic candidate has spoken twice about the Amazon. Is that what you want for Brazil? Now that's what I call interference," he said.

The Amazon has been a touchy subject for Bolsonaro since Biden said in September in his first debate against Trump that he planned to raise funds from the international community to offer Brazil $20 billion to "stop tearing down the forest."

"If you don't, then you're going to have significant economic consequences," Biden said.

Bolsonaro, who has faced international condemnation for presiding over a surge in deforestation and wildfires since taking office in 2019, called the statement "disastrous and unnecessary" the following day.



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6:36 pm  |  Trump alleges 'surprise ballot dumps' in states where he was leading

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has alleged that there was "surprise ballot dumps" in states where he had been leading Democrat Joe Biden in the race for the White House.

"Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled," Trump tweeted. "Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted."

Trump did not offer any evidence for his allegation of "ballot dumps" and there have been no reports of any irregularities.

The leads in numerous states have shifted back-and-forth between the candidates as votes are counted.






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6:17 pm  |  Stocks push higher despite US vote uncertainty

World stocks moved higher on Wednesday despite the US election outcome being clouded by huge uncertainty that could end up in court.

Wall Street opened with gains as both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden still had a path of victory with a handful of states still up for grabs.

The Dow climbed 0.9 percent while the broader S&P 500 rose 1.6 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 2.7 percent.

European stock markets, which opened sharply lower after President Donald Trump said he would go to the Supreme Court to dispute the US vote count, turned higher in late morning deals and in afternoon trading they were all posting gains of over 1 percent.

Around 1330 GMT, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 1.0 percent, while the pound fell 0.7 percent against the dollar.

In the eurozone, the Frankfurt stock market rose 0.9 percent and Paris climbed 1.3 percent.

The euro was down around a tenth of a percent versus the dollar, while oil prices surged over 2 percent.

Asian indices mostly closed up but that was ahead of Trump declaring he would dispute the election.

The US election was plunged into chaos early Wednesday as Trump prematurely declared victory and sought Supreme Court intervention to stop vote-counting --  even as his Democratic rival Joe Biden voiced confidence in his own chances.

"With Donald Trump already claiming victory even though millions of votes are still uncounted, investors may have to belt up and brace themselves for some volatile sessions of trading ahead," noted Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

In a divisive election cast under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 230,000 lives in the United States, Trump appeared to have avoided a Democratic wave predicted by some polls but he still needs key states to secure another four-year term.

"The polls got it wrong," said OANDA analyst Edward Moya. "Wall Street hoped for election certainty and what they will end up getting over the next couple days is recounts and lawsuits."

Biden's White House campaign slammed Trump's threat to try to stop the election vote count as "outrageous", saying its legal team was ready to prevent such an "unprecedented" act.

'Nightmare situation'

"The US election has become a mess," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Avatrade.

"Basically, we are seeing a nightmare situation come true because now we are talking about legal battles. This uncertainty is going to keep traders on edge."

Aslam added that investors still saw the dollar as a safe bet amid the volatility on stock markets.

Before Wednesday's shock turn of events, world equities had rallied this week as traders piled bets on Biden winning, with opinion polls showing him with a big national lead though with slim advantages in battleground states.

While Tuesday was formally Election Day, in reality, Americans have been voting for weeks. The Covid-19 pandemic caused a huge expansion in mail-in and early voting, and nearly 100 million people had already cast their ballots.

While a failure for Biden and the Democrats would jolt markets, the general consensus is that whoever wins will still push through a major stimulus package for the struggling US economy as it battles the virus.



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5:45 pm  |  Biden's campaign team see bright light

President Donald Trump narrowly won Michigan in 2016, and both he and Joe Biden campaigned heavily in the battleground state in 2020.

Biden has leapfrogged the Republican sitting president in this tight and key Michigan race.

Pictured below, a worker with the Detroit Department of Elections inspects an absentee ballot at the Central Counting Board in the TCF Centre in Detroit, Michigan.



At the same centre, other workers with the Detroit Department of Elections wait to process absentee ballots.

 





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5:05 pm  |  Biden now leading in Michigan

This is far from over!

Just in, Joe Biden has taken a slender lead over Donald Trump in the very tight Michigan race.




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4:25 pm  |  Democrats, Republicans flip one seat each in Senate battle

Meanwhile, Democrats flipped a US Senate seat in Colorado Tuesday in their bid to regain control of the upper chamber of Congress, but Republicans countered by ousting a vulnerable Democrat in Alabama, networks projected.

With control of the Senate up for grabs, Democrats put their stamp once again on the House of Representatives, securing another two years as the party in power with Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- President Donald Trump's chief nemesis in Washington -- likely to preside over her flock again.

"I'm very, very proud of the fact that tonight -- relatively early -- we are able to say we have held the House," Pelosi said.

In the more closely-watched Senate showdown, Democrats drew first blood when Colorado's former governor John Hickenlooper, a 68-year-old businessman and geologist, handily defeated one-term Senator Cory Gardner to pick up a seat.

"Thank you, Colorado! Serving you is the honor of my life, and I can't wait to be your Senator," Hickenlooper said on Twitter.



Republicans are scrambling to preserve their 53-47 Senate majority, with polls showing several races tilting towards Democrats. Election forecaster FiveThirtyEight.com give Democrats a three in four chance of winning Senate control.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden's party would need to gain four seats to seize the chamber -- or three seats if Biden wins the White House, as a US vice president breaks a tie in the Senate in the event of a 50-50 vote.

Republicans got a defensive boost though when retired American football coach Tommy Tuberville, 66, handily defeated Senator Doug Jones in a race that was widely expected to result in a Republican pick-up.

Jones had faced steep reelection odds in a ruby-red southern state after winning in a 2017 special election upset against Roy Moore, a Republican who faced sexual misconduct allegations.

And Republicans received more good news Tuesday when political veteran Lindsey Graham who oversaw the controversial process of confirming a Supreme Court justice weeks before the presidential vote, won reelection in South Carolina.

Graham, a Trump ally, survived a spirited challenge by Democrat Jaime Harrison, according to Fox News and The New York Times which called the race with nearly half the precincts reporting.

The African-American Harrison had been running neck-and-neck with the 65-year-old Republican incumbent just weeks before the election in a conservative Southern bastion, and raised an all-time record in campaign donations as Democrats saw the seat as a potential pick-up.

"We didn't get the result at the ballot box that we wanted, but we showed courage and determination," Harrison said in a statement.

Meanwhile the Senate's top Republican, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, won reelection against former fighter pilot Amy McGrath, ensuring that the most powerful Republican in Congress will remain in the chamber for another six years.

Controlling the Senate is vital as the party in power controls which bills reach the floor and which of the president's nominees receive confirmation votes.



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4:06 pm  |  An ubiquitous sense of hope

Many Americans - depending on which side of the political divide they fall - are clinging onto a thread of hope as the presidential race hangs in balance, with millions of votes still being counted.





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3:36 pm  |  Keeping pace with developments in US

In Kuwait City, this Kuwaiti man decided to follow the US elections on TV.



Another one decided to keep abreast with what is happening there via mobile phone over a meal.





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2:34 pm  |  Slovenia PM congratulates Trump despite vote uncertainty

Slovenia's conservative prime minister has congratulated President Donald Trump for winning re-election even though neither Trump nor challenger Joe Biden has yet won an outright victory.

"It's pretty clear that American people have elected Donald Trump and Mike Pence for four more years," Janez Jansa -- whose country is First Lady Melania Trump's homeland -- wrote on Twitter.

"More delays and facts denying from MSM (mainstream media), bigger the final triumph for POTUS," he said.



Trump himself declared victory on Wednesday despite results in several states yet to be called, and urged the Supreme Court to stop vote counting over what he alleged was "major fraud".

Jansa, leader of the anti-migrant Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), has been accused by Slovenia's opposition and mainstream media of using the coronavirus crisis to attack independent and critical media.

Jansa, along with Hungary's Prime Minister Victor Orban, was one of the few European Union leaders to endorse Trump's candidacy, and he said Biden would be "one of the weakest US presidents in history".



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1:30 pm  |  US vote result won't impact trade with Europe, France says



The outcome of the presidential vote will have little impact on US-Europe trade relations, France's finance chief has asserted Wednesday, saying Washington is unlikely to drop its confrontational stance whether Donald Trump wins or not.

"Let's not kid ourselves. The United States has not been a friendly partner to European states for several years now," Bruno Le Maire (pictured above) told Radio Classique.

"Whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump is elected by Americans tonight or tomorrow, nothing changes this strategic fact," he said. "The American continent has detached itself from the European continent."

The US administration has inflicted billions of dollars' worth of tariffs on European imports over the past four years, with Trump claiming unfair barriers against American firms trying to compete on continental markets.

His administration has also targeted China, saying it too had caused the American trade deficit to plunge by blocking US goods even while exporting massively to the US.

"Fundamentally, the only shift in American thinking is with regards to China, their relations with China and Asia as a whole," Le Maire said.

"Europe is now merely an adjustment variable for the United States," he said.



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1:08 pm  |  Biden camp: Trump bid to stop vote counting 'outrageous'

Joe Biden's White House campaign slammed President Donald Trump's threat to try to stop the election vote count as "outrageous" early Wednesday, saying its legal team was ready to prevent such an "unprecedented" act.

"The president's statement tonight about trying to shut down the counting of duly cast ballots was outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect," Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said in a statement as the election remained undecided.

"Never before in our history has a president of the United States sought to strip Americans of their voice in a national election."

The comments came shortly after Trump delivered an extraordinary speech from the White House, in which he claimed that "we did win this election" despite neither candidate reaching the electoral vote threshold for victory.

"We want all voting to stop," Trump said, appearing to mean halting the counting of mail-in ballots, which can be legally accepted by state election boards after Tuesday's election -- provided they were postmarked in time.

Several battleground states were still up in the air early Wednesday when Trump spoke, including Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Biden has long warned that Trump was seeking to diminish the integrity of mail-in voting, which has surged this year given the health concerns about going in person to polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Having encouraged Republican efforts in multiple states to prevent the legal counting of these ballots before Election Day, now Donald Trump is saying these ballots can't be counted after Election Day either," Dillon said.

Trump branded slow ballot tabulations in battleground states a "fraud" and said he would go to the Supreme Court to dispute the counting of votes.

But Biden's campaign insisted "the counting will not stop."

"We have legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist... and they will prevail," Dillon said.

The presidential election hung in the balance, with Biden so far winning 238 votes in the Electoral College and Trump securing 213 based on the states they have won so far, according to projections by US media.

The magic number for victory is 270 out of a total of 538.



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12:53 pm  |  The US election: What we know

The scenario many had feared has come true: November 3 has come and gone and we don't know whether President Donald Trump or Democratic candidate Joe Biden has won the White House.

Election officials count absentee ballots in Milwaukee, Wisconsin



Here's the current state of play and a preview of what to expect.

What results remain?

As it stands, Biden has won 238 electoral votes and Trump a maximum of 213, based on the states they've so far won.

Barack Obama's vice president was boosted by the addition of Arizona in the early hours of Wednesday morning -- as the two men try to eke their way to the magic number of 270 out of a total of 538.

That leaves the battlegrounds Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin still up in the air -- as well as the easier to predict states of Alaska (Republican) and Nevada (Democratic).

When will we find out?

Officials in many of the states have indicated how long it will take to count the ballots, with the situation complicated this year by the Covid-19 pandemic that has led to record mail-in voting.

Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, have all indicated a final picture could emerge Wednesday, Pennsylvania has said it could take up to November 6, while in North Carolina mail ballots postmarked election day are accepted until November 12.

But in reality things remain uncertain. In an open letter to voters, Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney asked citizens of Pennsylvania's biggest city to exercise "patience."

What can happen next?

While Biden has voiced confidence in his chances, President Trump has gone a step further, already claiming victory and saying he'll go to the Supreme Court to get his way.

The Republican said in a White House speech that "we want all voting to stop," apparently meaning that he wants to stop the counting of mail-in ballots which can be legally accepted by state election boards after Tuesday's election.

Democrats are widely thought to have cast more mail-in ballots than Trump's supporters and Republicans have already signaled they'll pursue an aggressive strategy in Pennsylvania to have the votes that arrived after the election thrown out.

Tom Wolf, the state's Democratic governor shot back Wednesday, tweeting that there were a million votes left to count. "I promised Pennsylvanians that we would count every vote and that's what we're going to do," he said.

The state's top court ordered a three day extension which the US Supreme Court refused to block, but said it could revisit the issue after the election -- and the ascension of new conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett could prove decisive in that decision.

The specter of civil unrest has worried many voters but failed to materialize on Election Day itself.



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12:23 pm  |  German minister warns of 'very explosive situation' in US

Meanwhile, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has warned the United States is facing a "very explosive situation" and a possible systemic crisis after President Donald Trump prematurely declared election victory.

Following Trump's remarks that he will go to the Supreme Court to stop ballots from being tallied, Kramp-Karrenbauer told public broadcaster ZDF "this election has not been decided... votes are still being counted".

She said Trump could create "a constitutional crisis in the USA".

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer adjusts her scarf during a session at the Bundestag on October 29, 2020 in Berlin





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12:11 pm  |  The world is following keenly

When the US sneezes, the entire world catches a cold, so goes the saying. And going by the global interest in the US presiential election, that saying holds a lot of water.

As we, here in Uganda, follow the polls, many people in Mongolia are keenly watching what is happening there too. Pictured below is a screen displaying news updates of the tightly contested US election during a watch party at the US embassy in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.




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11:45 am  |  Biden at 238 electoral votes, Trump at 213

As it stands, there are seven states still left uncalled, including major prizes such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- meaning both President Donald Trump and Joe 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 20 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 one state won by Trump in 2016 -- Arizona, in the southwest.

Nebraska split its electoral votes between the two -- four for Trump and one for Biden. Maine was won by Biden, but so far, he has only three of the four electoral votes on offer, with the last still to be decided.

So far, that gives Biden 238 electoral votes and Trump 213.

The magic number of electoral votes is 270.

The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the projections of US media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC/NBC News, ABC, CBS and The New York Times.

In the case of Arizona, AFP used the projection made by the Associated Press.

DONALD TRUMP (213)

Alabama (9)
Arkansas (6)
Florida (29)
Idaho (4)
Indiana (11)
Iowa (6)
Kansas (6)
Kentucky (8)
Louisiana (8)
Mississippi (6)
Missouri (10)
Montana (3)
Nebraska (4)*
North Dakota (3)
Ohio (18)
Oklahoma (7)
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
Tennessee (11)
Texas (38)
Utah (6)
West Virginia (5)
Wyoming (3)

JOE BIDEN (238)

Arizona (11)
California (55)
Colorado (9)
Connecticut (7)
Delaware (3)
District of Columbia (3)
Hawaii (4)
Illinois (20)
Maine (3)**
Maryland (10)
Massachusetts (11)
Minnesota (10)
Nebraska (1)*
New Hampshire (4)
New Jersey (14)
New Mexico (5)
New York (29)
Oregon (7)
Rhode Island (4)
Vermont (3)
Virginia (13)
Washington (12)
STATES NOT YET CALLED
Alaska
Georgia
Michigan
Nevada
North Carolina
Pennsylvania
Wisconsin

* Nebraska splits its five electoral votes -- two electors are assigned based on the plurality of votes in the state, and the other three are awarded based on congressional district. Biden took one vote, in the 2nd congressional district.

** Maine has a similar method to Nebraska. Of its four electoral votes, three have been projected for Biden, while the fourth is outstanding.



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11:25 am  |  Joe Biden vs Donald Trump

This one is going to the wire. Too close to call.

Joe Biden is slightly ahead in the electoral votes. His Republican challenger is hot on his heels as vote counting continues.




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11:06 am  |  Biden wins in Arizona -  it is a flip!

Democrat Joe Biden has won in the southwestern US state of Arizona, a traditionally Republican stronghold which was captured by President Donald Trump in 2016, according to a projection by Fox News and the Associated Press.

The call for Biden in Arizona, which has 11 electoral votes, has come after a speech from Trump, who claimed victory in the nail-biter election despite several key states not yet being called.





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10:50 am  |  Trump says will go to Supreme Court to dispute election count

President Donald Trump has claimed he has won the US election, despite the final results not yet being given, and said he would go the Supreme Court to dispute the counting of votes.

"We did win this election," Trump said in an extraordinary speech from the ceremonial East Room of the White House. "This is a fraud on the American public."



The Republican, who according to initial results is in a neck-and-neck race with Democrat Joe Biden, said he would go to court and "we want all voting to stop."

He appeared to mean stopping the counting of mail-in ballots which can be legally accepted by state election boards after Tuesday's election, provided they were sent in time.


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10:32 am  |  President Trump addresses supporters

The Republican sitting president has claimed that he is winning. However, vote counting is continuing and Joe Biden is currently in the lead as per the electoral vote projections.



Speaking during election night in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, Trump has alleged fraud in the system and that he will go to the Supreme Court to dispute the election count.



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10:15 am  |  Voters back new flag without Confederate emblem

Meanwhile, voters in Mississippi have approved a new state flag that will feature the magnolia flower, months after the southern state retired its old banner bearing a Confederate battle emblem.

Mississippi's flag was the last in the US to include a symbol of the Confederacy, a collection of southern states where slavery was legal and which seceded from the union in 1860.

Many African Americans believe the flag carries racist connotations, while white southerners argue it is a symbol of Southern heritage.

US media reported that Mississippi voters had backed the flag's new design, which also will carry the words "In God We Trust."

The old flag was retired over the summer, as the US exploded with the biggest protests in decades against racism and police brutality.

The ongoing movement for racial justice in the US also prompted the removal of statues of Confederate figures, either formally removed by local governments or forcibly toppled by protesters.



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10:03 am  |  Twitter flags Trump tweet alleging poll theft

Twitter has flagged a tweet in which President Donald Trump accused Democrats of trying to steal the presidential election.

"We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election," Trump wrote on Twitter moments after Biden told supporters he expected to win.

Twitter quickly flagged and hid the Trump tweet, saying "some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process."

In his tweet Trump said nothing to back up his charge of theft.



Throughout the campaign Trump has sought to cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral process, repeatedly alleging for instance that mail-in voting will lead to fraud.

Twitter, long criticized for not acting against baseless Trump claims, has asserted itself in recent months, flagging such comments and others in which Trump was seen as glorifying violence.



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9:54 am  |  Biden at 224 electoral votes, Trump at 213

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are battling it out for the White House, with polls closed across the United States Tuesday -- and a long night of waiting for results in key battlegrounds on the cards.

The results are flowing in, with US media projecting wins for the Republican incumbent so far 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 18 states including his home state Delaware and big prizes California and New York, as well as the US capital. As with Trump, so far, all states claimed by Biden were won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

So far, that gives Biden 224 electoral votes and Trump 213, after Nebraska split its electoral votes between the two -- four for Trump and one for Biden, CNN and Fox News projected.

A number of key battleground states are still up in the air, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The magic number of electoral votes is 270.

The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the projections of US media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC/NBC News, ABC, CBS and The New York Times.

DONALD TRUMP (213)

Alabama (9)
Arkansas (6)
Florida (29)
Idaho (4)
Indiana (11)
Iowa (6)
Kansas (6)
Kentucky (8)
Louisiana (8)
Mississippi (6)
Missouri (10)
Montana (3)
Nebraska (4)*
North Dakota (3)
Ohio (18)
Oklahoma (7)
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
Tennessee (11)
Texas (38)
Utah (6)
West Virginia (5)
Wyoming (3)

JOE BIDEN (224)

California (55)
Colorado (9)
Connecticut (7)
Delaware (3)
District of Columbia (3)
Hawaii (4)
Illinois (20)
Maryland (10)
Massachusetts (11)
Minnesota (10)
Nebrasks (1)*
New Hampshire (4)
New Jersey (14)
New Mexico (5)
New York (29)
Oregon (7)
Rhode Island (4)
Vermont (3)
Virginia (13)
Washington (12)

STATES NOT YET CALLED

Alaska
Arizona
Georgia
Maine
Michigan
Nevada
North Carolina
Pennsylvania
Wisconsin

* Nebraska splits its five electoral votes -- two electors are assigned based on the plurality of votes in the state, and the other three are awarded based on congressional district. Biden took one vote, in the 2nd congressional district.



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9:35 am  |  America waits . . .

This is still a very tight contest.

Meanwhile, pictured below are workers seen processing polling place equipment and materials at the Clark County Election Department after polls closed on Tuesday in North Las Vegas, Nevada.




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9:19 am  |  Biden, Trump both predict victory as president alleges theft

President Donald Trump early Wednesday said he expected a "big win" and accused Democrats of trying to steal the election after rival Joe Biden also predicted victory.

"We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election," Trump wrote on Twitter moments after Biden told supporters he expected to win.

"We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed," said Trump, who promised to speak more later.

Twitter, which has vowed to act against false information, quickly flagged Trump's tweet accusing theft.

The president has long charged, with no evidence, that mail-in ballots are a way to cheat in the election.

Mail-in ballots, sent due to health concerns during the Covid-19 health crisis, are expected to favor Biden and in some states were being counted later.

Trump appeared to be responding to Biden, who moments earlier told his supporters to be patient.

"We believe we are on track to win this election," Biden said to honks of approval in his home state of Delaware.

"It ain't over till every vote is counted," he said.

"It's not my place or Donald Trump's place to say who won this election."

Biden said he was confident at winning Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- all states carried by Trump in 2016.



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9:15 am  |  It is the voters' place to declare winner - Biden

In what is seen as a response to President Donald Trump's earlier tweet, Democrat Joe Biden, too, has taken to Twitter to deliver his point as the race to the White House continues.




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8:54 am  |  'A big WIN'

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to announce that he will be making a statement soon.




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8:45 am  |  'We are on track to win' - Biden

Democrat Joe Biden has come out to thank his supporters for exercising patience as vote counting across the US continues.

"We believe we are on track to win this election," he said, adding that "I am optimistic about this outcome".





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8:39 am  |  Win some, lose some - Trump takes battleground Florida

Donald Trump has won the key battleground Florida - and Iowa - while Joe Biden has taken Minnesota, according to US media.


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8:30 am  |  Biden at 213 electoral votes, Trump at 138

Joe Biden has captured 17 states, including his home state Delaware and big prizes California and New York, as well as the US capital. As with Donald Trump, so far, all states claimed by Biden were won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

So far, that gives Biden 213 electoral votes and Trump a maximum of 138, because Nebraska splits its electoral votes based on congressional district (see note below).

The magic number is 270. Observers expect the hotly contested race for the White House to come down to a handful of key battleground states that have yet to be called.

The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the projections of US media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC/NBC News, ABC, CBS and The New York Times.

DONALD TRUMP (138)*

Alabama (9)
Arkansas (6)
Idaho (4)
Indiana (11)
Kansas (6)
Kentucky (8)
Louisiana (8)
Mississippi (6)
Missouri (10)
Nebraska (5) *
North Dakota (3)
Ohio (18)
Oklahoma (7)
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
Tennessee (11)
Utah (6)
West Virginia (5)
Wyoming (3)

JOE BIDEN (213)

California (55)
Colorado (9)
Connecticut (7)
Delaware (3)
District of Columbia (3)
Hawaii (4)
Illinois (20)
Maryland (10)
Massachusetts (11)
New Hampshire (4)
New Jersey (14)
New Mexico (5)
New York (29)
Oregon (7)
Rhode Island (4)
Vermont (3)
Virginia (13)
Washington (12)

* Nebraska splits its five electoral votes -- two electors are assigned based on the plurality of votes in the state, and the other three are awarded based on congressional district. Biden could eventually peel at least one of these votes away.


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8:13 am  |  It is still early to call

America anxiously waits . . .




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7:59 am  |  Trump takes Ohio

President Donald Trump has prevailed in the hotly contested Rust Belt state of Ohio -- one he seized in 2016 and which is key to his efforts to win reelection over Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Fox News and NBC News called the Midwestern state -- which has 18 electoral votes -- for the incumbent.




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7:44 am  |  Nerves set in for Biden supporters gathered at White House

Several hundred Joe Biden supporters rallied near the White House Tuesday, but by nightfall a festive atmosphere was giving way to nervous tension as people fixed their attention on giant screens showing disappointing early results.



As the battleground state of Florida looked increasingly certain to go to President Donald Trump, Democratic party voters in the overwhelmingly blue capital Washington put on brave faces and said they were preparing to dig in for a long haul.

"We wanted to come out to support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, hoping for a celebration," said Tammi Girgenti, a 51-year-old retired government official, adding: "I'm a little disappointed with Florida, that's my home state."  

"I'm feeling okay, a little bit nervous and a little apprehensive, but I think Biden can squeeze it out by the end of the night or tomorrow or the next day," she laughed.

Trump was also leading in several other key battleground states including Pennsylvania.

Jake, a 22-year-old undergraduate student who came with a group of friends, summed up their mood: "We're not feeling too good, but I know that the mail-in the early voting was always going to be kind of later, and so I went in tonight bracing for an early Trump lead, but I think that Biden can still pull it off."

Starting from the afternoon, crowds had converged on two streets recently named Black Lives Matter (BLM) Plaza by the mayor of Washington, which was the focal point of opposition to Trump during racial justice protests over summer.

Others filled a nearby park, McPherson Square, after the traditional area for such gatherings, Lafayette Square, was shut off by a perimeter fence that went up some weeks ago.

A new, unscalable barricade has also gone up inside the perimeter, and dozens of police watched on.

There were no signs of tension between the police and the crowd, who were almost all anti-Trump. Supporters of the president were a rare sight, but when one appeared and expressed their views, they were quickly swarmed by Biden followers who wanted to debate them.

A brief scuffle broke out at one point, though it was unclear who it was between. The fight broke up when a smoke bomb was thrown -- apparently not by police, who had already left the area.



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7:31 am  |✍️🏽  ANALYSIS: Trump holds off Biden blue wave in nail-biting election

The most polarized US election in decades was on a knife-edge Tuesday as President Donald Trump appeared to have held off predictions of a sweeping Democratic wave but Joe Biden also scored key wins.



Against a backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed more than 230,000 lives in the United States, a quick Biden triumph -- dreamed of by some Democrats -- looked unlikely with key states too close to call.

Trump enjoyed a slim but vital lead in Florida, widely considered a must win to retain the presidency, despite opinion polls that had shown Biden edging even or ahead.

"It's happening," Trump senior advisor Jason Miller wrote on Twitter of the election, although only Fox News had so far called Florida for the president.

Exit polls showed Trump capturing swaths of the Latino vote, making strong gains among Cuban-Americans after the Republican tycoon's relentless attacks against leftist leaders in Latin America and rhetorical attempts to link them to Biden.

Biden's team has long insisted that it doesn't need to win Florida and analysts pointed to gains for the Democrat in some Trump areas of the state that might bode well in other big states.

Biden for his part enjoyed early strength in Arizona, which Trump carried four years earlier, and he was neck-and-neck in Ohio and Texas -- two states where the Democrat a few weeks ago saw little chance.

And Biden -- as expected -- collected the biggest prize of the night with a win in solidly Democratic California.

But attention quickly turned to results emerging from Georgia and North Carolina, two more states Biden hopes to wrest away, and the Midwestern trio of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- in which Trump squeaked out surprise 2016 wins over Hillary Clinton that handed him the White House.

With a record more than 100 million Americans having voted ahead of Election Day due to the Covid-19 pandemic, definitive final results could easily take hours or even days to be tabulated.

Race for Congress

Networks projected the Democrats to have maintained control of the House of Representatives, as widely expected, but it remains to be seen if they can win back the Senate.

The Democrats flipped one Senate seat from the Republicans in Colorado, with former governor John Hickenlooper projected to triumph, but were also expected to lose an especially vulnerable senator in Alabama.

Trump, 74, expressed confidence as the evening approached, tweeting in all his characteristic all-caps: "WE ARE LOOKING REALLY GOOD ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. THANK YOU!"

It was not clear whether Trump -- who was holding a watch party at the White House -- would speak to the public at some point but he said earlier Tuesday that he wasn't yet "thinking about a concession speech or acceptance speech."

"Winning is easy," he said. "Losing is never easy -- not for me."

Biden, hunkered down with family at home in Delaware, likewise said voter patterns during the day seemed to favor his side.

"What I'm hearing is that there's overwhelming turnout. And overwhelming turnout particularly of young people, of women, and an overwhelming turnout of African American voters, particularly in Georgia and Florida, over the age of 65," he told reporters.

"The things that are happening bode well for the base that has been supporting me."

Accepting the results?

Trump has repeatedly refused to confirm he will accept the results of the election -- a first for a US president. He argues, without offering proof, that the vast number of mail-in ballots could be used to rig the polls against him.

In the final run-up to Election Day, Trump focused especially on Pennsylvania, which allows ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted, even if they arrive afterward.

Trump somewhat dampened fears that he will try to declare victory prematurely, telling Fox News that he will only declare "when there is victory."

"There is no reason to play games," he said.

'Scary'

Americans could not be more divided over Trump.

For some he represents a breath of fresh air who brought his business instincts to shake up the Washington establishment. For the other half of the country, he is a corrupt leader who wrecked the US reputation abroad and stoked dangerous racist and nationalist sentiments at home.

In Miami, Juan Carlos Bertran, a 60-year-old Cuban-American mechanic, said Trump "seems better to me for the country's economy."

"Now I have two jobs," he said. "Before I only had one."

But voting in New York, Megan Byrnes-Borderan, 35, said Trump's threats to challenge the election results in the courts were "scary."

"I believe that Trump will go through all odds to try to win the election," she said.

Outside the White House, a boisterous, peaceful protest in a plaza renamed for the Black Lives Matter movement turned heated as the night wore on, with scuffling after a person appeared to throw a gas cannister.

In Portland, the center of confrontations this summer between leftist protesters and police, some 400 people marched toward the downtown under a watchful eye of state police.

Question of COVID

Biden has tapped into widespread public disapproval for Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more people in the United States than any country.

Trump -- who recovered quickly from his own bout with the virus in October -- is gambling that Americans want to put the crisis behind them and reopen the economy fully. Biden, in contrast, is preaching caution and accuses the president of having abandoned his basic responsibilities.

"We're done with the chaos! We're done with the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility," Biden said at an election eve rally in Cleveland, Ohio.

Fears of COVID-19 drove the huge flow of early voters, encouraged by Biden. Trump has countered by holding dozens of mass election rallies with no social distancing, underlining his message that it's time to move on.

One notable win in the Senate was for the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, who easily fended off a challenge in Kentucky.

And in Georgia, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene -- a political newcomer who has promoted the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory -- won a seat in the US House of Representatives, giving the widely debunked movement a voice in Congress.


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7:22 am  | Biden at 209 electoral votes, Trump at 116

Joe Biden has captured 16 states, including his home state Delaware and big prizes California and New York, as well as the US capital. As with his rival Donald Trump, so far, all states claimed by Biden were won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

So far, that gives Joe Biden 209 electoral votes and Trump a maximum of 116, because Nebraska splits its electoral votes based on congressional district (see note below).

The magic number is 270. Observers expect the hotly contested race for the White House to come down to a handful of key battleground states that have yet to be called.

The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the projections of US media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC/NBC News, ABC, CBS and The New York Times.

DONALD TRUMP (116)*

Alabama (9)
Arkansas (6)
Indiana (11)
Kansas (6)
Kentucky (8)
Louisiana (8)
Mississippi (6)
Missouri (10)
Nebraska (5) *
North Dakota (3)
Oklahoma (7)
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
Tennessee (11)
Utah (6)
West Virginia (5)
Wyoming (3)

JOE BIDEN (209)

California (55)
Colorado (9)
Connecticut (7)
Delaware (3)
District of Columbia (3)
Illinois (20)
Maryland (10)
Massachusetts (11)
New Hampshire (4)
New Jersey (14)
New Mexico (5)
New York (29)
Oregon (7)
Rhode Island (4)
Vermont (3)
Virginia (13)
Washington (12)

* Nebraska splits its five electoral votes -- two electors are assigned based on the plurality of votes in the state, and the other three are awarded based on congressional district. Biden could eventually peel at least one of these votes away.


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7:06 am  | Awaiting the BIG news

As election results continue to trickle in from across the US, these journalists below have gathered to report outside the White House West Wing while waiting for election news in Washington, DC.

You may want to know that about 250 guests were invited to join President Donald Trump at the White House to mark the conclusion of his re-election campaign.  




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6:53 am  | Democrats retain control of House of Representatives

Meanwhile, the Democrats have retained their control of the House of Representatives as expected, US networks reported, slightly expanding their majority in the 435-seat chamber.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected to increase her party's majority by at least four or five seats in the election, Fox News and NBC News reported.

Such a result would be a boost to Pelosi who has made clear she will seek to roll back several of President Donald Trump's first-term orders or actions if he loses reelection.


_________________________



6:51 am

Donald Trump is projected to win in Utah, Nebraska and Missouri while his challenger Joe Biden is projected to win New Hampshire.

Volunteers compute number of paper ballots and tabulations in Lumberton, North Carolina





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6:40 am  | Following keenly

Here, supporters of President Donald Trump cheer for him outside of the Versailles restaurant as they await results of the presidential election in Miami, Florida.



And in California, these people watch the election results at The Abbey Food & Bar in West Hollywood.





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6:15 am  | Asian markets swing as US election closer than expected

Meanwhile, Asian markets were mixed Wednesday as traders tracked results of the US presidential election, with an early rally pared by worries that the outcome might not be as clear-cut as hoped.



Shares have rallied this week as traders piled bets on Joe Biden winning the White House, with opinion polls showing him with a big national lead though with slim advantages in battleground states.

While the former vice president was still favourite, trading floors grew nervous after it appeared Donald Trump was on course to win Florida, which would be crucial to his success.

A better-than-forecast performance by the president could mean the final outcome might not be known until later this week, while it also throws up the chances of a challenge to the result, which could spell fresh market turmoil and legal chaos.

Investors had been increasingly betting on a Democratic sweep of Congress and the White House, which would pave the way for a massive stimulus package for the stuttering economy but early figures suggest that might not happen.

While Tuesday is formally Election Day, in reality, Americans have been voting for weeks. The Covid-19 pandemic caused a huge expansion in mail-in and early voting, and nearly 100 million people had already cast their ballots, though many of those will not be counted until polls close.

"Markets have taken a step back from the Democratic sweep scenario -- though are not yet giving up on it," said Axi strategist Stephen Innes.

"Biden is still favoured to win the presidency, but we now could be heading towards a delayed confirmation of the winner of the election, which is probably the worst-case scenario for risk."

Tokyo rose 1.4 percent by the break, while Seoul, Wellington, Taipei and Jakarta were all up around 0.2 percent up. Manila jumped more than one percent.

However, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney were all in the red.

"The extent that investors were hoping either for quick clarity or massive fiscal stimulus, those hopes are being pared back," said Max Gokhman, Pacific Life Fund Advisors.

And Erika Karp, founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Group, warned that "the closer the race is, the bigger the risk is". She added: "A close outcome is a risk to the market. The longer it drags out, the bigger the risks."

Still, while a failure for Biden and the Democrats would jolt markets, the general consensus is that whoever wins will still push through a major stimulus package for the struggling US economy as it battles the virus.

In Hong Kong, tech titan Alibaba sank more than seven percent after China's shock, last-minute decision to suspend the world-record $34 billion IPO of its fintech arm Ant Group less than 48 hours before it was due to debut.

Shanghai's stock exchange announced the suspension late Tuesday, a day after founder Jack Ma was summoned by regulators amid growing official pushback against the company.

The Shanghai exchange cited "major issues such as changes in the fintech supervisory environment" that it said raised concerns over whether Ant Group could now meet listing requirements.


_________________________


6:08 am

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has taken Kansas, US media reports.


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5:58 am  | Biden at 126 electoral votes, Trump at 89

Joe Biden has captured 11 states including his home state Delaware and big prize New York, plus the US capital Washington. As with Donald Trump, so far, all states claimed by Biden were won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

So far, that gives Biden 126 electoral votes and Trump 89. The magic number is 270. Observers expect the hotly contested race for the White House to come down to a handful of key battleground states.



The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the projections of US media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC/NBC News, ABC, CBS and The New York Times.

DONALD TRUMP (89)

Alabama (9)
Arkansas (6)
Indiana (11)
Kentucky (8)
Louisiana (8)
Mississippi (6)
North Dakota (3)
Oklahoma (7)
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
Tennessee (11)
West Virginia (5)
Wyoming (3)

JOE BIDEN (126)

Colorado (9)
Connecticut (7)
Delaware (3)
District of Columbia (3)
Illinois (20)
Maryland (10)
Massachusetts (11)
New Jersey (14)
New York (29)
Rhode Island (4)
Vermont (3)
Virginia (13)


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5:44 am  | Trump eyes Florida win

President Donald Trump appeared on track Tuesday to win the big prize of Florida in early results from his battle against Democrat Joe Biden for the White House after gigantic voter turnout in the most polarized US election for decades.

Florida is widely considered a must win for Trump to retain the presidency, but opinion polls had shown Biden edging even or ahead, offering the Democrat the tantalizing prospect of knocking his opponent out at the start of counting.

The Trump campaign claimed victory there after US media reports showed him capturing swaths of the Latino vote that had previously been loyal to Democrats -- although the state had yet to called for either candidate.

"President Trump wins Florida," the campaign tweeted over a picture of Trump giving the thumb's up.

Biden's team has long insisted that it doesn't need to win Florida and analysts pointed to gains for the Democrat in some Trump areas of the state that might bode well in other big states.

Attention quickly turned to results starting to emerge from Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas -- a traditional Republican stronghold where Biden is hoping to pull off a stunning upset.

Another of the chief battlegrounds, Pennsylvania, was expected to be some way behind in posting significant vote counts.

With a record more than 100 million Americans having voted ahead of Election Day due to the Covid-19 pandemic, definitive final results could easily take hours or even days to be tabulated.

Confidence on both sides

Trump, 74, expressed confidence as the evening approached, tweeting in all his characteristic all-caps: "WE ARE LOOKING REALLY GOOD ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. THANK YOU!"



It was not clear whether Trump -- who was holding a watch party at the White House -- would speak to the public at some point but he said earlier Tuesday that he wasn't yet "thinking about a concession speech or acceptance speech."

"Winning is easy," he said. "Losing is never easy -- not for me."

Biden, hunkered down with family at home in Delaware, likewise said voter patterns during the day seemed to favor his side.

"What I'm hearing is that there's overwhelming turnout. And overwhelming turnout particularly of young people, of women, and an overwhelming turnout of African American voters, particularly in Georgia and Florida, over the age of 65," he told reporters.

"The things that are happening bode well for the base that has been supporting me."

Accepting the results?

Trump has repeatedly refused to confirm he will accept the results of the election -- a first for a US president. He argues, without offering proof, that the vast number of mail-in ballots could be used to rig the polls against him.

In the final run-up to Election Day, Trump focused especially on Pennsylvania, which allows ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted, even if they arrive afterward.

"The whole world is waiting," Trump said early Tuesday.

"You can't have these things delayed for many days," he went on, adding ominously that "a lot of bad things" can happen.

"We should be entitled to know who won on November 3," he said.

However, he somewhat dampened fears that he will try to declare victory prematurely, telling Fox News that he will only declare "when there is victory."

"There is no reason to play games," he said.

'Scary'

Americans could not be more divided over Trump.

For some he represents a breath of fresh air who brought his business instincts to shake up the Washington establishment. For the other half of the country, he is a corrupt leader who wrecked the US reputation abroad and stoked dangerous racist and nationalist sentiments at home.

In Miami, Juan Carlos Bertran, a 60-year-old Cuban-American mechanic, said Trump "seems better to me for the country's economy."

"Now I have two jobs," he said. "Before I only had one."

But voting in New York, Megan Byrnes-Borderan, 35, said Trump's threats to challenge the election results in the courts were "scary."

"I believe that Trump will go through all odds to try to win the election," she said.

Fearing unrest, store owners boarded up windows in Washington and other major cities.

Question of COVID

 Biden has tapped into widespread public disapproval for Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 230,000 Americans.

Trump -- who recovered quickly from his own bout with the virus in October -- is gambling that Americans want to put the crisis behind them and reopen the economy fully. Biden, in contrast, is preaching caution and accuses the president of having abandoned his basic responsibilities.

"We're done with the chaos! We're done with the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility," Biden said at an election eve rally in Cleveland, Ohio.

Fears of Covid-19 drove the huge flow of early voters, encouraged by Biden. Trump has countered by holding dozens of mass election rallies with no social distancing, underlining his message that it's time to move on.

Roughly one-third of the Senate is up for grabs and Republicans risk losing their 53-47 majority.

A notable early win was for the senior Republican senator, Mitch McConnell, who easily brushed off a challenge from former fighter pilot Amy McGrath, in Kentucky. However, if Democrats capture the majority, he will lose his powerful position of Senate leader.

And Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene -- a political newcomer who has promoted the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory -- won a seat in the US House of Representatives, giving the widely debunked movement a voice in Congress.

All 435 House seats are at stake, but Democrats are confident of expanding their majority in the chamber.



_________________________


5:25 am  | Biden at 117 electoral votes, Trump at 80

Democrat Joe Biden has captured 10 states, including his home state Delaware and big prize New York, plus the US capital Washington Connecticut. As with incumbent Donald Trump, so far, all states claimed by Biden were won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.



So far, that gives Biden 117 electoral votes and Trump 80. The magic number is 270. Observers expect the hotly contested race for the White House to come down to a handful of key battleground states.

The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the projections of US media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC/NBC News, ABC, CBS and The New York Times.

TRUMP (80)

Alabama (9)
Arkansas (6)
Indiana (11)
Kentucky (8)
Louisiana (8)
Mississippi (6)
North Dakota (3)
Oklahoma (7)
South Dakota (3)
Tennessee (11)
West Virginia (5)
Wyoming (3)

JOE BIDEN (117)

Connecticut (7)
Delaware (3)
District of Columbia (3)
Illinois (20)
Maryland (10)
Massachusetts (11)
New Jersey (14)
New York (29)
Rhode Island (4)
Vermont (3)
Virginia (13)


_________________________


5:10 am  | More wins for Trump

Time to look away Joe Biden supporters.

Donald Trump has claimed victory in Louisiana, North and South Dakota and Wyoming, according to US media.


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4:57 am  | Biden at 88 electoral votes, Trump at 63

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are battling it out for the White House, with polls gradually closing across the United States Tuesday and a long night of waiting for results ahead.

The first results are trickling in, with US media projecting wins for the Republican incumbent so far in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia -- all states he won in 2016.

Biden has captured Connecticut, his home state of Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and New Jersey, as well as the three electoral votes given to the US capital Washington (District of Columbia). All were won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

So far, that gives Biden 88 electoral votes and Trump 63. The magic number is 270. Observers expect the hotly contested race for the White House to come down to a handful of key battleground states.



The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the projections of US media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC/NBC News, ABC, CBS and The New York Times.

DONALD TRUMP (63)

Alabama (9)
Arkansas (6)
Indiana (11)
Kentucky (8)
Mississippi (6)
Oklahoma (7)
Tennessee (11)
West Virginia (5)

JOE BIDEN (88)

Connecticut (7)
Delaware (3)
District of Columbia (3)
Illinois (20)
Maryland (10)
Massachusetts (11)
New Jersey (14)
Rhode Island (4)
Vermont (3)
Virginia (13)


_________________________


4:43 am  | Biden wins in Illinois & Rhode Island

Meanwhile, Democrat Joe Biden is tasting victory in Illinois and Rhode Island, according to US media.

Clearly, it is neck and neck.




_________________________


4:37 am  | Trump takes Alabama and Mississippi

Just in, US media is reporting that Republican Donald Trump has taken Alabama and Mississippi.




_________________________


4:27 am  | Trump takes five states, Biden six plus DC

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are battling it out for the White House, with polls gradually closing across the United States Tuesday and a long night of waiting for results ahead.

The first results are trickling in, with US media projecting wins for the Republican incumbent so far in Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia -- all states he won in 2016.



Biden has captured his home state of Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia and New Jersey, as well as the three electoral votes given to the US capital Washington (District of Columbia).

So far, that gives Biden 57 electoral votes and Trump 42. The magic number is 270. Observers expect the hotly contested race for the White House to come down to a handful of key battleground states.

The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the projections of US media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and The New York Times.

TRUMP (42)

Indiana (11)

Kentucky (8)

Oklahoma (7)

Tennessee (11)

West Virginia (5)

BIDEN (57)

Delaware (3)

District of Columbia (3)

Maryland (10)

Massachusetts (11)

New Jersey (14)

Vermont (3)

Virginia (13)


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4:15 am  | Trump wins Indiana, Kentucky, Biden takes Vermont, Virginia

Global stock markets surged and the dollar weakened Tuesday as Americans cast their ballots in the US presidential election where Democratic challenger Joe Biden aims to unseat Republican President Donald Trump.

Voters weighed in on Trump's four years in office, where the real estate mogul presided over an expanding economy with record low unemployment that ended suddenly with the world's largest coronavirus outbreak beginning in March.

Traders looked at the contest largely through the prism of the election's impact on the US response to the pandemic, particularly the possibility that a political rebalancing could get Congress and the White House to agree on a new economic stimulus package.

Asian, European and US equities rallied as traders put their bets on a Democratic sweep of both the presidency and the Republican-held Senate that likely would mean Congress would approve a new spending bill early next year, if not sooner.

"The main reason why a Biden win is so sought after from a market perspective, is that a 'blue wave' -- i.e. the Democrats crucially taking the Senate -- would see a stimulus plan far greater than anything Republicans would be willing to go for," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

But even if the Democratic onslaught falters, "Whoever gets in (is)... probably going to have to spend some money, be that through a stimulus package or infrastructure" bill, JJ Kinahan of TD Ameritrade told AFP.

The dollar slid against other major currencies, reflecting traders' expectations of more stimulus money that would weaken the value of the greenback.

Meanwhile, oil prices jumped higher, clawing back more of their recent losses.

Charging ahead

Investors also are betting the battle for the White House will be decided quickly.

After months of uncertainty, Patrick O'Hare of Briefing.com said Monday's rally is "predicated somewhat on the hope that we're about to get closure on the election."

In the previous presidential election in 2016, markets prematurely celebrated a victory by Democrat Hillary Clinton, only to be surprised when Trump triumphed in the vote -- a dynamic Campbell said is happening again this year with polls putting Biden ahead.

"Choosing to ignore the slim -- but not slim enough -- likelihood of Trump winning a second term, the markets continued to aggressively rebound," he said.

Traders nevertheless remain fearful that a contested result could spell fresh market turmoil, legal chaos and even violent unrest in a nation already bitterly divided.

"The risk is that investors are getting ahead of themselves, given the potential for a long, drawn-out battle over the result of the US election in coming weeks," warned analyst Chris Beauchamp at trading firm IG.

While Tuesday is formally Election Day, in reality Americans have been voting for weeks. The Covid-19 pandemic caused a huge expansion in mail-in and early voting, and nearly 100 million people had already cast their ballots, though many of those ballots will not be counted until polls close.

The United States is in dire need of a fresh rescue package as the disease flares up again, threatening a stuttering recovery in the world's top economy made worse by lawmakers' months of fruitless negotiations over more aid.

"Another potential uncertainty for markets would be the Republicans hanging on to the Senate in what would allow them to block some of the more contentious parts of the Democrat's plans for the US economy," CMC Markets UK analyst Michael Hewson said.

"The ideal scenario would be a clear-cut outcome."

The rebound in oil prices was fueled by news that Russia is considering extending a production cut agreed with OPEC this year by another three months.



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4:05 am  | Trump wins Indiana, Kentucky, Biden takes Vermont, Virginia



President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are battling it out for the White House, with polls gradually closing across the United States and a long night of waiting for results ahead.

The first results are trickling in, with US media projecting wins for the Republican incumbent so far in Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia -- all states he won in 2016. Biden has captured Vermont and Virginia.

So far, that gives Trump 24 electoral votes to 16 for Biden. The magic number is 270. Observers expect the hotly contested race for the White House to come down to a handful of key battleground states.

The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the networks' projections.

TRUMP (24)

Indiana (11)

Kentucky (8)

West Virginia (5)

BIDEN (16)

Vermont (3)

Virginia (13)


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3:57 am  | It is neck and neck in Florida

It is a tight race in Florida, where incumbent Donald Trump (49.6%) has a slight edge over Joe Biden (49.4%) in the early stages of the vote counting process.

According to a pre-election 2016 analysis, the 13 most competitive states were Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina, and Maine.




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3:45 am  | Biden supporters in cheerful mood outside White House

Meanwhile, earlier - on Tuesday evening - hundreds of Joe Biden supporters rallied at the White House, fueling a festive atmosphere with blasting music and dancing activists who voiced faith Democrats could win back the presidency.



The area, recently named Black Lives Matter (BLM) Plaza by the mayor of Washington, was the focal point of opposition to President Donald Trump during racial justice protests over summer.

Dozens of the city's police watched the crowds, who were kept hundreds of yards (meters) away from the White House perimeter by a fence surrounding Lafayette Square. A new, unscalable barricade has also gone up inside the perimeter.

"I'm here to celebrate, hopefully, the president getting out of here, an early celebration," Malik Williams, a 27-year-old school counselor from Maryland, told AFP.

Williams, who took part in the BLM protests, said he was buoyed by the polls and early voting records, adding: "I think everything will work itself out."

"I'm not honestly not concerned at all, I think he's gonna lose and I think it'll be a historic loss," he added.



Some had traveled from far and wide to be in the US capital on election day.

Ruby Estoy, 40, and her friend Concetta Leanza, 34, together with Leanza's terrier Hercules came from Florida on Sunday.

"We came here just to feel the energy and to be here, and to really make sure that our voices get heard," said Estoy.

The pair, who both work in the financial sector, said they voted early for Biden, but added they are "unsure" how their candidate would perform in their home state -- a traditional battleground that is leaning toward Trump, according to polls.

"Vote him out!" added Estoy.

Another pair of friends, Traci from Pennsylvania and Lori Ricks from Maryland, also said they had come to soak up the atmosphere and root for a Trump loss.

The two women, in their mid-fifties, said they took the day off work to be there.

"I'm just sick of what's happening to our country," said Ricks, a public school teacher.

She gestured to the perimeter barrier designed to keep protesters at bay.

"This has never happened before in an election. They never had to fence up the White House, board up the windows for an election. I think it says so much," she said.


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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4

3:15 am  | Polls close in first six US states



Polls closed Tuesday in six US states in a bitterly contested election between incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, including in the key East Coast battleground of Georgia.

Polling places also shut statewide in Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia in a landmark contest that saw tens of millions of American cast their ballots early amid the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN and NBC already projected a win for Trump in Indiana.

The United States was in for a long night of waiting for results, as some states say they could be counting ballots for several days. Polls were to close throughout the evening, untill the last votes are cast in Alaska.

President Donald Trump has claimed he has won the US election, despite the final results not yet being given, and said he would go the Supreme Court to dispute the counting of votes.

"We did win this election," Trump said in an extraordinary speech from the ceremonial East Room of the White House. "This is a fraud on the American public."
Stocks rise again on expectations of divided US gov't

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