As Thursday dawns, Joe Biden is closing in on the electoral votes he needs to become the 46th president of the United States — but the road ahead remains uncertain. Mostly peaceful protests accelerated across the U.S. demanding officials “count every vote” as states process mail-in ballots amid the highest turnout in American history: almost 160 million. With networks calling Michigan and Wisconsin for Biden, he needs 17 more electoral votes to reach the magic number of 270. Arizona (11 electoral votes), Nevada (6), Pennsylvania (20), Georgia (16) and North Carolina (15) are still in play. New ballots substantially narrowed President Donald Trump’s deficit in Arizona overnight, while Biden closed his gap in Georgia. Democrats’ hopes of taking the Senate were crushed with Susan Collins’ victory in Maine, meaning the chance of a 50-50 tie may rest on two runoffs in Georgia in January.
Biden, expressing confidence that he’ll prevail once all the votes are counted, took steps toward a transition to power Wednesday, giving a speech in Delaware that cast himself as a conciliatory figure in divisive times. “I will work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as I will for those who did vote for me,” he said. Trump stayed out of sight yesterday, except to tweet about what he saw as problems with the vote count. His campaign has filed lawsuits across the country to challenge various aspects of the counts. Many appear to be long shots at best but Pennsylvania’s could end up back at the Supreme Court, given how the court essentially punted on a preelection dispute over whether the state could accept late-arriving ballots postmarked by Election Day.
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As 17 mostly Midwestern states set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations, America’s pandemic surge continued, soaring past 100,000 reported cases for the first time. That matches a June prediction by Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom President Trump has threatened to fire as the nation’s top infectious disease expert. The nationwide death toll topped 235,000, including Bethany Nesbitt, 20, who died while isolating in her dorm at an Indiana evangelical Christian school from a blocked pulmonary artery for which doctors said COVID-19 was a contributing factor. Experts expect the death toll to continue increasing, as has occurred after previous surges.
He’s a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who could be going to war with his own people. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia warned Wednesday that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front had crossed “the last red line” by allegedly attacking a military base. Some fear that actions by Abiy, who won the prize in 2019 for helping conclude Ethiopia’s war with Eritrea, will spark a civil war between the government and the heavily armed political group. Washington has urged “immediate de-escalation,” while a former U.S. diplomat warned that a full-on war between the belligerents could resemble the long-running and bloody conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s.
It’s not that markets like uncertainty. But investors the world over seem cheered by the emerging likelihood of a Democratic U.S. president with a Republican-controlled Senate, meaning few regulatory changes or tax hikes. Many Asian indexes jumped today by a percentage point or more, with South Korea’s main index climbing 1.5 percent. China’s top stocks rose 0.8 percent in anticipation of a trade war de-escalation. At the same time, U.S. stock futures rose nearly 1 percent overnight, suggesting another good day for Wall Street, where the S&P 500 had its biggest jump since June yesterday.
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She had a point. Actually she had 20 spear points and blades stacked in her tomb when she was buried in the Andes 9,000 years ago. Archaeologists say it’s the tomb of someone who was obviously a respected hunter — and new forensic analysis has discovered that the person was female, which challenges the long-held theory that ancient cultures hewed closely to a dichotomy between male hunters and female gatherers. A meta-analysis of other Pre-Columbian burial sites found women buried with hunting gear almost as much as men, suggesting big-game hunting was gender neutral.
We’ve heard about dead voters, but in North Dakota, they’ve elected a deceased candidate. David Andahl followed in the president’s footsteps, contracting COVID-19, but succumbed to complications Oct. 5 at the age of 55. By then it was too late to remove the Republican from mail-in ballots for the state legislature, so the late rancher won a seat in the state House of Representatives Tuesday. GOP legislators can appoint a living rep, though voters in the state’s 8th District, who still face record levels of infection, can petition for a new election.
It wasn’t the dragons? Researchers from five British and Irish universities have published a study mapping out the 2,007 named characters and their 41,000 interactions in George R.R. Martin’s five ASong of Ice and Fire books. The result is a fictional social network that keeps readers engaged through encounters and conversations between characters. But so many interactions are difficult for fans’ brains to process, which is why each character interacts with 150 others at most, which a study co-author said demonstrates how good writers “work very carefully within the psychological limits of the reader.”
And the crowd went wild. No, actually Rafael Nadal won his 1,000th professional match Wednesday in monastery-like quiet in Paris’ 20,000-seat AccorHotels Arena, devoid of fans amid a European pandemic surge. But he got a fist bump from fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, whom he bested in the second round of the Paris Masters. Nadal, 34, is the fourth man to reach the 1,000-plus club. He joins contemporary rival Roger Federer and tennis greats Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors, the record-holder with 1,274 wins in the Open era. Lamenting the silence, Nadal was nonetheless pleased, saying, “I must have done a lot of things well.”