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Biden Visits Governors, Creates Rapport While Trump Hinders Transition

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Biden Visits Governors, Creates Rapport While Trump Hinders Transition
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Joe Biden’s meeting Thursday with a group of Democratic and Republican governors is his latest attempt to fight through President Donald Trump’s unprecedented attempt to block the president-elect’s transition to power.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris planned a virtual session in the afternoon with the National Governors Association’s leadership team, which includes five Republicans and four Democrats. All the Democrats and a majority of the Republicans involved have acknowledged Biden as the winner of the White House election.

One expected participant, Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Md., told The Associated Press recently that Trump’s wild and unsupported claims of widespread voter fraud were “dangerous” and “embarrassing.”

The highest-ranking Republican on the NGA’s executive committee, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, said over the weekend that Biden would be the next president and he called on the Trump administration to give Biden access to the intelligence briefings he needs in order to be fully prepared to lead the country on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day.

So far, the governors have not swayed the Republican president.

Before Biden’s meeting, Trump came out with a new round of false claims of voter fraud in key states, even as courts continue to reject his challenges, and a small, but growing number of Republican officeholders publicly begin to accept Biden’s victory.

Beyond being a pillar of democracy, the peaceful transfer of power after an election is especially critical this year given the extraordinary governing challenges Biden will inherit in just nine weeks. The United States is struggling through the worst public health crisis in a century, state and local government are facing massive budget shortfalls, and millions of Americans remain out of work.

But more than two weeks after the Nov. 3 election, the Trump administration is refusing to let Biden receive detailed briefings on national security and pandemic planning that leaders in both parties say are vital to ensure Biden can govern effectively on Day One.

With Trump dug in and Republicans on Capitol Hill largely unwilling to challenge him, Biden has been forced to turn to diverse collection of outside allies to ratchet up the pressure on Trump to concede.

The CEOs of America’s largest companies have released a statement recognizing Biden and Harris as the clear winners. The heads of the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association issued a joint statement on Tuesday urging the Trump administration to share “all critical information related to COVID-19” with Biden. Not doing so, they warned, would jeopardize American lives.

Trump is showing no signs of giving in.

He is getting nowhere in the courts, and his scattershot effort to overturn Biden’s victory is shifting toward obscure election boards that certify the vote. The battle is centered in the states that sealed Biden’s win. In Michigan, two Republican election officials in the state’s largest county initially refused to certify results despite no evidence of fraud.

The officials then backtracked and voted to certify before flipping again on Wednesday and saying they “remain opposed to certification.” Some Republicans have called on the GOP statewide canvassers to so the same as Trump applies pressure from his social media accounts.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, planned to participate in the meeting with Biden.

AP NEWS


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U.N. chief calls for Afghan ceasefire and inclusive peace

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U.N. chief calls for Afghan ceasefire and inclusive peace
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Tuesday for an “immediate, unconditional ceasefire” in Afghanistan to create a conducive environment for Doha peace talks with the Taliban.

“An inclusive process, in which women, young people and victims of conflict are meaningfully represented, offers the best hope of sustainable peace,” Guterres told an Afghanistan conference in Geneva. “Progress toward peace will contribute to the development of the entire region, and is a vital step towards the safe, orderly and dignified return of millions of displaced Afghans.”

REUTERS


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US imposes $15,000 Visa bond for visitors from 15 African countries

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US imposes $15,000 Visa bond for visitors from 15 African countries
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Citizens of 15 African countries will have to post bonds of up to $15,000 ( £11,000) to visit the US, according to a new temporary travel rule which comes into effect on 24 December.

The six-month pilot program – which targets visitor and business visas – will act as a deterrence to those who overstay their visas, the US state department said.

Outgoing President Donald Trump, who lost a re-election bid earlier this month, made restricting immigration a central part of his four-year term in office.

President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, has pledged to reverse many of the Republican president’s immigration policies, but untangling hundreds of changes could take months or years.

The visa bond rule targets countries whose nationals had an “overstay rate” of 10% or higher in 2019 and will now be required to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000.

While those nations had higher rates of overstays, they sent relatively few travellers to the US, Reuters news agency reports.

The African countries affected are Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde, Burundi.


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At last Trump Gives-In Power Transition To Biden

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At last Trump Gives-In Power Transition To Biden
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After two weeks of grandstanding, U.S. President Donald Trump has finally accepted to allow a transition of power to his potential successor, Joe Biden.

In a Monday evening tweet, Trump said he had recommended that the General Services Administration (GSA) “do what needs to be done” in that regard. The president’s tweet came amid reports by local media that the GSA has determined Biden to be the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

GSA Administrator, Emily Murphy, sent Biden a letter earlier on Monday to inform him that his transition could now begin. ABC News quoted an unnamed official of the Biden transition team as confirming that the former Vice President had received the letter. With this, the president-elect’s transition team can now access government resources, including funds, for a smooth transition of power.

The GSA is a federal agency responsible for enabling the transition of power from one administration to another, and it controls the funds for the process. By law, the head of the agency must first “ascertain” the winner of a presidential election before setting the transition ball rolling.

But with Trump’s refusal to concede, the GSA administrator, who was appointed by the president in 2017, had held back from starting the process. Murphy had come under fire from Democrats and other critics, who accused her of allowing political influence to interfere in the agency’s independence.

Defending her decision in the letter to Biden, the GSA head denied being influenced by the White House or official of the executive branch of government “I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right. “Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. “I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” she said.

In his tweet, Trump said he advised the agency to start the process because he did not want Murphy, her family and employees of the GSA to continue to suffer harassment and abuse.

“I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country. “She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA”, Trump said. The president, who is in court challenging the election results in key battleground states, said his case would continue. “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!”

(NAN)


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