Tag Archives: evidence

AstraZeneca says its vaccine review found no evidence of increased blood clot risks

AstraZeneca Plc on Sunday said it had conducted a review of people vaccinated with its COVID-19 vaccine which has shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.

The review covered more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and United Kingdom.

“A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and U.K. with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country,” the statement said.

Authorities in Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands have suspended the use of the vaccine over clotting issues, while Austria stopped using a batch of AstraZeneca-Oxford shots last week while investigating a death from coagulation disorders.

Ireland on Sunday temporarily suspended AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine “out of an abundance of caution.”

The drug maker said additional testing has and is being conducted by the company and the European health authorities and none of the re-tests have shown cause for concern.

There are also no confirmed issues related to quality of any of its COVID-19 vaccine batches used across Europe and rest of the world, the company said.

Health Canada says no issues with vaccine reported

While other countries paused use of the vaccine, Health Canada has maintained there is “no indication” the vaccine causes blood clots, adding that no adverse events from AstraZeneca doses have been reported in Canada so far.

“Health Canada authorized the vaccine based on a thorough, independent review of the evidence and determined that it meets Canada’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements,” the department said on March 11. 

Canada is one of many countries, including Germany, France, Poland, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom who continue to use the vaccine, citing a lack of any evidence of a link to blood clots.

WATCH | Reassurance on safety of AstraZeneca-Oxford’s vaccine:

Despite some European countries temporarily halting use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine after 30 cases of blood clots, experts maintain it is still safe to use in Canada. 2:01

There has been some confusion, however, related to Canada’s position on who should take the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended last week that Canadians over 65 not receive an AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccination despite emerging evidence from countries around the world demonstrating its ability to prevent severe COVID-19 in older adults.

The recommendation led provinces to reorganize their vaccination plans for seniors. The result was people aged 60-64 could receive AstraZeneca-Oxford shots ahead of older age groups, who are at greater risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Quebec is the only province so far to ignore the national recommendations. Officials there said this week they would administer the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to seniors in direct contrast to what the province considers outdated NACI advice.

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CBC | Health News

No evidence Antifa or ‘fake’ Trump supporters spurred Capitol riot, FBI’s Wray testifies

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday sought to beat back right-wing conspiracy theories suggesting that fake supporters of former U.S. president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

It was Wray’s first testimony in Congress since the attack — a failed bid to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s November election victory — was carried out by supporters of Trump who, in a speech near the White House, exhorted them to march to the Capitol in protest.

“I was appalled that you, our country’s elected leaders, were victimized right here in these very halls,” Wray testified before the Senate’s judiciary committee.

“That siege was criminal behaviour, pure and simple. It’s behaviour that we, the FBI, view as domestic terrorism.”

Early on, Republicans on the panel sought to equate the Jan. 6 riot to the occasional violence that ensued in months of racial justice protests in dozens of U.S. cities last year.

The senior Republican on the panel, Chuck Grassley, made repeated references to Antifa and violence committed by those who might be described as being left on the political spectrum, including a fatal shooting incident in Portland last year and the near-fatal shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise in 2017 by a suspect who posted a photo of Bernie Sanders on his Facebook profile.

But Wray was unequivocal in terms of what the agency has learned so far about the events of Jan. 6.

“We have not to date seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to Antifa in connection with the 6th,” he said.

Last month in another Senate hearing, Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin brought up the possibility that “agent provocateurs” and “fake Trump protesters” had circulated among the crowd on Jan. 6, citing an article by a right-wing think-tank.

Wray said there had been no evidence presented yet of fake Trump protesters crashing the event, which appears to have been planned for weeks according to previous testimony, and he reiterated his assertion from 2020 hearings that white supremacists “have been responsible for the most lethal attacks over the last decade” in terms of domestic terrorism.

Hundreds charged so far

The U.S. Justice Department has charged more than 300 people on criminal counts ranging from conspiracy to attacking police and obstructing Congress.

Five people in attendance died that day, including a Trump supporter who was fatally shot and a Capitol police officer who was killed in circumstances that are still unclear. Three others suffered fatal medical episodes, according to reports.

At least 18 people associated with the far-right Proud Boys — which Canada labelled a terrorist group last month — have been charged and nine people tied to the anti-government militia known as the Oath Keepers are facing charges they conspired as far back as November to storm the Capitol to prevent Biden from becoming president.

Biden took office on Jan. 20.

Federal investigators including the FBI have come under scrutiny since Jan. 6 over why more was not done to protect the Capitol ahead of the attack.

On Jan. 5, the FBI’s Norfolk, Va., office distributed a raw, unverified intelligence report which warned that violent extremists intended to disrupt Congress.

Still unclear how Capitol Police officer was killed

Wray told lawmakers on Tuesday the intelligence was shared with other law enforcement agencies three different ways, but acknowledged he personally did not see the report until a few days later.

As to why other top law enforcement officials did not see it, Wray said: “I don’t have a good answer to that.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said to Wray: “What I don’t understand is why this … raw intelligence didn’t prompt a stronger warning and alarm.”

The FBI has yet to arrest any suspects in the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, or for pipe bombs that were discovered outside the headquarters of both the Republican and Democratic national committees.

The FBI has obtained a video that shows a suspect spraying bear spray on police officers, including Sicknick, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.

Citing an ongoing investigation, Wray said he couldn’t yet disclose a cause of death for Sicknick.

Democrats and some Republicans condemned Trump for his weeks of false claims leading up to Jan. 6, that the election was stolen. He repeated that claim in his first significant speech since leaving the presidency last week.

But Wray said he stood by comments made by former attorney general Bill Barr, who had infuriated Trump after the election when he said the Justice Department did not have evidence of any widespread election fraud.

“We are not aware of any widespread evidence of voter fraud, much less that would have affected the outcome of the presidential election,” Wray told lawmakers.

We are not aware of any widespread evidence of voter fraud, much less that would have affected the outcome of the presidential election,” Wray told lawmakers.

In a newly unsealed search warrant, investigators say rioters carried weapons inside the Capitol including tire irons, sledge hammers, stun guns, bear spray and, in at least one case, a handgun with an extended magazine.

“Everyone involved must take responsibility for their actions that day, including our former president,” said Grassley, who was among those who voted to acquit Trump on a count of incitement of insurrection in a Senate impeachment trial last month.

WATCH | Former FBI agent Jack Cloonan on the domestic terrorism threat:

Given the events of Jan. 6, the likelihood of someone attempting an attack around the presidential inauguration is ‘extremely high,’ says former FBI special agent Jack Cloonan. 7:46

Senate judiciary committee chair Dick Durbin, a Democrat, said the government has not done enough to protect against threats from far-right extremists and white supremacists, and accused the Trump administration of playing down those threats.

He said the Trump administration “never set up a task force to combat the numerous incidents” from the far-right, and instead focused on Black Lives Matter activists.

With respect to other issues, Wray said he was concerned about violent attacks against Asian Americans during the past year. But he stopped short of condemning  what he called “rhetoric” — offensive language used by Trump and other legislators regarding the pandemic that Democrats have characterized as pejorative or racist.

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CBC | World News

Study offers ‘promising’ evidence that at least 1 COVID-19 vaccine may curb virus transmission

Real-world findings are starting to back expectations for the level of protection provided by several leading coronavirus vaccines, but there’s still a burning question among scientists: Could the shots actually reduce virus transmission as well?

New research out of Israel offers early clues that at least one vaccine — the mRNA-based option from Pfizer-BioNTech, which is also being used here in Canada — may lead to lower viral loads, suggesting it might be harder for someone to spread the virus if they get infected post-vaccination.

In a study released publicly on Monday as an unpublished, non-peer-reviewed preprint, a team of researchers from the Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University and Maccabi Healthcare Services found the viral load was reduced four-fold for infections that occur 12 to 28 days after a first dose of the vaccine.

“These reduced viral loads hint to lower infectiousness, further contributing to vaccine impact on virus spread,” the researchers wrote.

Virologist Jason Kindrachuk, an assistant professor in the department of medical microbiology at the University of Manitoba, said it’s been a waiting game to figure out whether the protection from illness offered by mRNA vaccines might also curb transmission — a key tool for winding down the pandemic.

“So the data from this, I think, is important,” he said. “It doesn’t answer all the questions, but it starts to tell us that there actually might be some added benefit to these vaccines beyond just reducing severe disease.”

Toronto-based infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a member of Ontario’s vaccine task force, agreed these early findings — which still require peer-review — aren’t a scientific “home run,” but do offer hope in the fight against COVID-19.

“This would point in the direction that people who have been vaccinated, who are still infected, may be less likely to transmit starting at about 12 days after their vaccine,” he said.

‘Significantly reduced’ viral loads

Israel is among the world leaders for COVID-19 vaccination rates, with Maccabi Healthcare Services vaccinating more than 650,000 people by Jan. 25, the paper noted, giving the researchers a large pool of data compared to what exists so far in many other countries. 

The team analyzed COVID-19 test results from roughly 2,900 people between the ages of 16 and 89, comparing the cycle threshold values of post-vaccination infections after a first dose with those of positive tests from unvaccinated patients.

So, what are cycle threshold values, and how does that potentially tie to viral loads and virus transmission?

Standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 identify the viral infection by amplifying the virus’s RNA until it hits a level where it can be detected by the test. Multiple rounds of amplification may be required — and the cycle threshold value refers to the number of rounds needed to spot the virus.

Toronto-based infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a member of Ontario’s vaccine task force, agrees these early findings — which still require peer-review — offer some hope in the fight against COVID-19. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

“If you can detect the virus with very few cycles, there’s probably a lot of virus there,” Bogoch explained. “If you need to keep looking and looking and looking and looking for it, it might be there — it’s just a lot harder to find evidence of the virus genetic material.”

A higher cycle threshold, then, usually means there’s less virus genetic material present, which usually translates to people being less contagious, he said.

Based on an analysis comparing post-vaccination test results up to Day 11 to the unvaccinated control group, the Israeli researchers found “no significant difference” in the distribution of cycle threshold values for several viral genes.

That changed by 12 days after vaccination, with the team finding a “significant” increase in cycle thresholds up to 28 days later.

A team of researchers from the Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University and Maccabi Healthcare Services found the viral load was reduced four-fold for infections happening 12 to 28 days after a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine. The findings have yet to be peer-reviewed and published in a medical journal. (Evan Mitsui/CBC News)

The result suggests infections occurring 12 days or longer following just one vaccine dose have “significantly reduced viral loads, potentially affecting viral shedding and contagiousness as well as severity of the disease,” the team concluded.

It’s a finding that appears to mimic the efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in its clinical trials, which offered some early protection starting 12 days after the first dose and fully kicks in a week after the second shot, with a reported efficacy of around 95 per cent.

More research needed, experts say

The observational study was not a randomized controlled trial — meaning researchers couldn’t conclude a direct cause-and-effect relationship — and has not yet been published in a scientific journal. The research also has notable limitations, its authors acknowledged. 

For one, the group of vaccinated individuals may differ in key ways from the demographically matched control group, such as their general health. The study also didn’t account for variants of the virus that may be associated with different viral loads, the team wrote.

Indeed, those variants are already proving to be roadblocks in the fight against COVID-19, with concerns ranging from higher transmissibility to reduced vaccine efficacy, including concern in South Africa and beyond after a small and yet-to-be-published study suggested the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine offered minimal protection against mild infection from the country’s now-dominant B1351 variant. 

With those concerns in mind, experts who spoke with CBC News about the Israeli study stressed that more research is needed to back up the results on a broader scale, and among diverse populations, before being used to fuel policy changes or current approaches to vaccination efforts.

“The data needs to be reviewed by experts and confirmed that it stands up to the quality that we would want to make a conclusion,” said vaccinologist Alyson Kelvin, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax who works with Canadian vaccine developer VIDO-InterVac in Saskatoon.

WATCH | The impact of variants on the race to vaccinate: 

South Africa has halted its rollout of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after a study showed it offered minimal protection against mild infection from a variant spreading there. While experts say it’s cause for concern, they say vaccines can be reconfigured to protect against mutations. 2:01

Even so, Kelvin said the data appeared to be treated with the necessary caution, and offers “promising evidence,” while Kindrachuk remains optimistic as well that the findings could prove a useful starting point.

“While we still have to have people using masks, and while we still have to have people distanced, the vaccines may actually also be able to reduce transmission,” he said. 

“So, those trends that we’re hoping to see, in regards to trying to curb community transmission for SARS-CoV-2, may be accelerated with a vaccine — and that will hopefully help us get out of this a little bit sooner.”

The Current21:46Vaccine concerns in South Africa

South Africa is facing another hurdle in its fight against COVID-19 after a new study suggested the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is largely ineffective against the dominant variant spreading in that country. Dr. Rinesh Chetty, who works on the front lines of the pandemic in Durban, South Africa, weighs in on the findings. And Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease specialist at Queen’s University and the Kingston Health Sciences Centre, tells us what it means for Canada’s vaccination efforts. 21:46

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CBC | Health News

Little evidence that colchicine benefits COVID-19 patients, Quebec advisory panel finds

Clinical experts with the Quebec government say there isn’t enough evidence yet for them to recommend widespread use of colchicine to treat COVID-19 patients, dampening hopes the drug could be a short-term tool to reduce hospitalizations and deaths.

Last month, the Montreal Heart Institute released a statement vaunting the results of a clinical trial that found the rate of hospitalization or death was 21 per cent lower among patients who took colchicine, compared to a placebo. It reported even more impressive results among “patients with a proven diagnosis.” 

The findings made headlines around the world. Premier François Legault called the results “big news.”

Colchicine is a cheap, widely available drug in Canada, well-known to doctors for its effectiveness at treating gout. And so far physicians have struggled to find effective drug treatments for the new disease.

The news release, though, left out key elements of the study. When the researchers released more detailed findings, their peers in the medical community struck a more cautious tone.

The $ 14-million colchicine study was funded by the Quebec government and several organizations. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

McGill’s Office for Science and Society joined several others in decrying a practise known as “science by press release,” where seemingly exciting findings are published by funding bodies before being peer-reviewed and with little in the way of data.

Amid the controversy, the Quebec provincial government’s clinical research institute (known by its French initials as the INESSS) quickly undertook its own detailed analysis of the colchicine study.

In a briefing Thursday with journalists, the INESSS experts said based on the available evidence they consider it “premature to support the use of colchicine in non-hospitalized persons with a diagnosis of COVID-19.”

Finding inconclusive, INESSS says

The $ 14-million colchicine study, funded in part by the Quebec government, was launched in March, initially with the aim of recruiting 6,000 people in six different countries.

Led by Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif, director of the Montreal Heart Institute’s research centre, the investigators wanted to see whether the anti-inflammatory medication would limit symptoms of the disease in people with pre-existing medical conditions. 

But the study was halted after recruiting 4,500 participants. The researchers cited both logistical issues and the desire to get results to health-care professionals as quickly as possible, given the strain the pandemic was placing on hospital resources.

In its review, the INESSS said that was the right decision given the circumstances, and acknowledged Tardif’s hypothesis and research design were sound.

Dr. Luc Boileau, the president of the advisory body, said the move to publish the results in a press release, ahead of peer-review, was “not irresponsible but is infrequent.”

“We’re in the context of a pandemic … and there is a legitimate public interest in the results,” he said.

But following a close reading of those results, the advisory body determined there was insufficient evidence to draw firm conclusions about the benefits of colchicine for COVID-19 patients.

A nurse at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, in Vermont, draws up the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer/The Associated Press)


The participants in the study included patients who tested positive via the gold-standard PCR test, as well as those who had been diagnosed simply by virtue of having been exposed to someone with the virus (known as an epidemiological link).

When those two groups were considered together, there was no statistically significant difference in hospitalizations or deaths between participants receiving colchicine and those receiving a placebo, said Dr. Michèle de Guise, who headed the review.

There was a statistically significant difference among those who tested positive through PCR. In this smaller group, those who received the drug were 25 per cent less likely to die or require hospitalizations when compared with the placebo group.

That was one of the findings that went into the news release put out by the Montreal Heart Institute. But when considered in absolute terms, the difference is less impressive.

In the placebo group, six per cent of the 2,084 subjects either died or required hospitalization. In the experimental group, 4.6 per cent of 2,075 subjects died or required hospitalization.

From a clinical perspective, that 1.4 percentage point difference “means that 71 patients would need to be treated with colchicine to achieve one less event,” said de Guise.

Potentially alarming side effect

The study also turned up a potentially frightening side-effect. Eleven participants who took colchicine experienced a pulmonary embolism, compared with two in the placebo group.

That alarmed the experts INESSS consulted, de Guise said.

“That was unexpected and it worried them,” she added.

The INESSS stressed its findings were preliminary and said it would review them as more data becomes available. 

In the meantime, COVID-19 patients interested in using the drug should have a discussion with their physician, said Boileau.

Quebec’s Health Ministry said it would issue guidelines on colchicine treatments for COVID-19 after taking the time to analyze the recommendations made by the INESSS.

A spokesperson for the Montreal Heart Institute said Thursday they too would read the INESSS report before commenting.

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CBC | Health News

New coronavirus variant may be more deadly — but more evidence is needed, U.K.’s chief scientist says

There is some evidence that a new coronavirus variant first identified in southeast England carries a higher risk of death than the original strain, the British government’s chief scientific adviser said Friday — though he stressed that the data is uncertain.

Patrick Vallance told a news conference that “there is evidence that there is an increased risk for those who have the new variant.”

He said that for a man in his 60s with the original version of the virus, “the average risk is that for 1,000 people who got infected, roughly 10 would be expected to unfortunately die.”

“With the new variant, for 1,000 people infected, roughly 13 or 14 people might be expected to die,” he said.

But Vallance stressed that “the evidence is not yet strong” and more research is needed.

WATCH | Boris Johnson discusses coronavirus variant:

While saying the variant of the coronavirus first detected in the U.K. may be associated with a higher degree of mortality, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it’s also putting additional pressure on the nation’s health-care system. 1:42

The findings come from a paper released on Friday by the U.K. government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) on the variant known as B117.

The team acknowledged there are “important limitations to the data,” which was based on a relatively small sample size of 2,583 deaths among 1.2 million tested individuals, with 384 deaths likely tied to infections of the variant.

“It should be noted that the absolute risk of death per infection remains low,” the NERVTAG team wrote in the paper.

The researchers also did not find evidence of increased mortality tied to the variant for hospitalized individuals specifically.

The variant has spread to several countries around the world — including Canada, where chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Friday there have been 31 confirmed cases. Tam said there have also been three confirmed cases of the variant first found in South Africa.

In Ontario, local public health officials are concerned by the presence of an unidentified variant among an outbreak at the Roberta Place Long-Term Care Home in Barrie — where more than 90 per cent of residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Dominik Mertz, who is based out of McMaster University in Hamilton, agreed the paper is just a first step and requires more confirmation.

“To my knowledge, this is the first study that suggests a higher mortality with the B117 variant, while previous data suggested no difference,” he said, noting the study’s limited sample size. 

“Hence, we remain uncertain whether B117 results in more severe infections.”

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician in Toronto and a member of Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force, agreed the uncertainty makes it difficult to draw conclusions on the increased deadliness of the variant.

“Other preliminary data did not demonstrate that this was the case,” he added. “Regardless, it’s best to be cautious and ensure we take steps to limit the transmission of this in Canada.”

In contrast to that uncertainty, Vallance said, there is growing confidence that the variant is more easily passed on than the original coronavirus strain. He said it appears to be between 30 and 70 per cent more transmissible.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead on COVID-19, said studies were underway to look at the transmission and severity of new virus variants.

She said so far “they haven’t seen an increase in severity” but that more transmission could lead to “an overburdened health care system” and thus more deaths.

British officials say they are confident that the vaccines that have been authorized for use against COVID-19 will be effective against the new strain identified in the country.

But Vallance said scientists are concerned that variants identified in Brazil and South Africa could be more resistant to vaccines, adding that more research needs to be done.

WATCH | An inside look at the U.K.’s mass vaccination program:

CBC News gains access to a unique inoculation site in the U.K., where vulnerable groups are being prioritized. 1:51

Concerns about newly identified variants have triggered a spate of new travel restrictions around the world. Many countries have closed their borders to travelers from the U.K., which itself has halted flights from Brazil and South Africa.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there could be further restrictions.

“We may need to go further to protect our borders,” he said.

Similarly, Bill Blair, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, said Friday that the variants are a concern and one of the reasons the government requires all international travellers to be swabbed within 72 hours of departure to Canada. 

Blair said further options to discourage people from making unnecessary trips include:

  • More restrictions on international travel.
  • Additional quarantine measures.
  • Greater enforcement.

“A loophole frankly does exist because the Americans previously had not placed any restriction on international flights coming into the U.S.,” Blair said. “We’ll be working with the Americans on developing new reciprocal measures that can further protect Canadians.*

The U.K. has recorded 95,981 deaths among people who tested positive for the coronavirus, the highest confirmed total in Europe.

The country is currently in a lockdown in an attempt to slow the latest surge of the coronavirus outbreak. Pubs, restaurants, entertainment venues and many shops are closed, and people are required to stay largely at home.

The number of new infections has begun to fall, but deaths remain agonizingly high, averaging more than 1,000 a day, and the number of hospitalized patients is 80 per cent higher than at the first peak of the pandemic in the spring.

Johnson, who has often been accused of giving overly optimistic predictions about relaxing coronavirus restrictions, sounded gloomy.

“We will have to live with coronavirus in one way or another for a long while to come,” he said, adding that “it’s an open question” when measures could be eased.

“At this stage you’ve got to be very, very cautious indeed,” he said.

Vallance agreed. “I don’t think this virus is going anywhere,” he said. “It’s going to be around, probably, forever.”

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CBC | Health News

2020 is the year athletes saw the evidence of their true power

This is a column by Morgan Campbell, who writes opinion for CBC Sports. For more information about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

No matter how many recounts lame-duck U.S. president Donald Trump finagles, he’ll never win Georgia. He’ll keep losing at the ballot box, where president-elect Joe Biden garnered 49.5 per cent of the vote, compared with 49.3 per cent for Trump. And he won’t win in the courtroom, where judges have rejected Team Trump’s legal challenges with the fervour of a prime Dikembe Mutombo.

We could attribute Biden’s margin of victory to several Georgia municipalities, densely populated blue islands in a largely red state, but let’s focus on Fulton County, which encompasses downtown Atlanta, and where locals could vote early at State Farm Arena, home of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. According to published reports, 40,000 Georgians voted at the State Farm Arena’s COVID-safe polling site.

Fulton County is also Biden Country, where the president-elect won nearly 73 per cent of votes. If the people casting ballots at State Farm Arena fit that statistical profile, Biden likely collected roughly 29,000 votes there — in a state he won by fewer than 12,000.

Erasing those votes — the fast-receding dream of Trump and his surrogates — would likely alter the outcome and divert Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes to Trump. But those votes accrued to Biden for a variety of reasons, including people like Stacey Abrams, whose relentless, years-long registration campaign yielded a bumper crop of African-American voters.

And also NBA players, who walked off the job in August to protest the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisc. They wouldn’t return to work until the NBA pledged to use its arenas as polling places in the November election, setting the stage for Biden to run up big numbers against Trump in downtown Atlanta during a pandemic.

Moves like that helped prompt Sports Illustrated to name The Activist-Athlete as its Sportsperson of The Year. The magazine singled out five individuals, including Kansas City Chiefs’ lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a Super Bowl champion and a medical doctor who opted out of the 2020 season to care for COVID-19 patients in his native Montreal.

So if anyone questions whether activism among high-profile athletes can yield concrete results, we can point to the U.S. electoral map, where Biden became the first Democrat to win Georgia since Bill Clinton did it in 1992.

Or to the WNBA, where since the summer players have supported Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock in his Georgia senate race even though his opponent, Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler, co-owns the league’s Atlanta franchise. The WNBA was also the home of Maya Moore until the star forward paused her career to help free wrongfully-convicted Jonathan Irons, who is now her husband, from a Missouri prison.

WATCH | Bring It In, with Morgan Campbell:

In the pilot episode of Bring It In with Morgan Campbell, panelists Meghan McPeak and Dave Zirin discuss the history made by Sarah Fuller, debate the need for novelty events in sports and participate in a rapid game of In or Out on this week’s biggest stories. 34:24

From Kaepernick to Dumba

Or we can witness major pro leagues’ quick and warm embrace of anti-racism messages once considered too politically fraught to coexist with their on-field product.

In 2016-17, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was essentially blackballed for sitting out the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism. This past summer the NHL handed Matt Dumba a microphone so the Minnesota Wild player could make a pre-game speech reminding fans that Black Lives Matter.

What’s less clear is whether, for sports industry cheque-writers and decision-makers, the current dedication to combating anti-Blackness is a permanent feature or just a trend. We don’t know if it’ll stick around, like the NBA’s three-point line has, or vanish when reactionary zeal subsides, like the NBA’s dress code did.

Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba takes a knee during the national anthem flanked by Edmonton Oilers’ Darnell Nurse, right, and Chicago Blackhawks’ Malcolm Subban after making an anti-racism speech before a playoff game in Edmonton on Aug. 1. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Leagues’ messaging rings hypocritical

Symbols of the fight against racism abound in myriad sports. The knee-taking and fist-raising before NBA games is now so widespread that it has become part of the spectacle, like the New Zealand All-Blacks performing a haka before an international match.

And we see slogans like “End Racism” stenciled into NFL end zones, or players with the names of Black victims of police shootings printed on the backs of their helmets. This season’s embrace of Black activism marks a stark departure for a league whose previous attempt at fighting racism involved hiring Jay-Z as a consultant, and promoting the self-consciously race neutral slogan “Inspire Change.”

But if you think the messaging rings hypocritical, you’re not wrong. Between positive tests and the isolation of close contacts, the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged NFL rosters so thoroughly that the Denver Broncos had to field a practice-squad wide receiver at starting quarterback two weeks ago — yet somehow NFL teams can’t seem to find Kaepernick’s phone number.

WATCH | The year athletes en masse refused to shut up and play:

Athletes around the world raised a collective voice in an unprecedented show of power. 5:03

A comfort with racism

NFL team owners, let’s remember, overwhelmingly support Trump and other Republicans. According to OpenSecrets.org, 85 per cent of the money donated by NFL owners to political campaigns in 2020 went to Republican candidates. Even team owners in the comparatively progressive NBA tend to give more money to Republicans — 53.4 per cent of donations since 2015, according to The Ringer — than to Democrats.

Those numbers alone don’t paint team owners as personally racist, but they certainly indicate a comfort with racism, and with a political party whose leader, Trump, has a high-profile history of racist acts.

In the early 1990s he campaigned for the execution of five Black and Latino teenagers wrongfully convicted of raping a white jogger in New York City’s Central Park. This year, instead of rejecting an endorsement from a white supremacist group, The Proud Boys, Trump told them to “stand back and stand by.” And since the election Trump’s legal team has tried, unsuccessfully, to disqualify votes in places like Detroit and Atlanta, where NBA arenas served as polling places, and where a critical mass of Black residents voted overwhelmingly for Biden.

We won’t know until the next election cycle whether this past summer’s activism and this fall’s electoral result will prompt sports team owners, who proclaim in public that they’re committed to fighting racism, to recalibrate their relationship with the Republican party.

Racism built into the structure of for-profit sports won’t disappear in a week, or a season, or a year. It took until this autumn for the NFL to accept that the words “End Racism” wouldn’t trigger an exodus of longtime fans. And it’ll probably still take years before NFL teams are as comfortable hiring Black head coaches as they are drafting Black defensive backs.

This year has reminded us that phasing racism out of the sports industry, and society, isn’t an event — it’s a process, non-linear and littered with pitfalls and setbacks alongside success. So, the activism driving can take the form of big acts, or a string of small acts forming an ongoing campaign.

Either way, 2020 has taught us that athletes don’t just intend to benefit from changing the sports industry’s racist habits. Athlete-activists intend to drive that transformation.

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CBC | Sports News

Justice Department finds no evidence of fraud that would change U.S. election result, Barr says

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Barr’s comments come despite President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the Nov. 3 election was stolen and his refusal to concede his loss to president-elect Joe Biden.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but they’ve uncovered no evidence that would change the outcome of the election. Barr was at the White House Tuesday afternoon for a previously scheduled meeting.

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” he said.

The comments are especially direct coming from Barr, who has been one of the president’s most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as people in the U.S. feared going to the polls and instead chose to vote by mail.

Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if they existed, before the presidential election was certified — despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.

That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around long-standing Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified.

Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.

Trump files lawsuit in Wisconsin

The Trump campaign’s legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani, has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence.

The legal team also responded to Barr’s comments, saying the Justice Department didn’t do enough to investigate voter fraud allegations.

They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed, including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence. Local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making similar unsupported claims.

U.S. President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin in a longshot attempt to overturn president-elect Joe Biden’s win in the battleground state. (Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press)

Most recently, Trump filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin on Tuesday seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two most Democratic counties, a longshot attempt to overturn Biden’s win in the battleground state that Trump lost by nearly 20,700 votes.

The president filed the day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission certified Biden as the winner of the state’s 10 electoral college votes. Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, rather than have it start in a lower court, and order Evers to withdraw the certification.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court gave Evers until 8:30 p.m. CT Tuesday to respond to the lawsuit, an unusually tight deadline that speaks to how quickly the court is likely to decide the case.

Trump is running out of time to have his legal cases heard. The electoral college is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14, and Congress is to count the votes on Jan. 6.

WATCH | Trump says he’ll step down if electoral college votes for Biden:

U.S. President Donald Trump for the first time said he would leave the White House if Joe Biden is confirmed as president, even as he continued to insist, without evidence, ‘This election was a fraud.’ 4:31

Trump is not challenging any ballots cast in conservative counties he won. The Biden campaign issued a statement calling the lawsuit “completely baseless and not rooted in facts on the ground.”

“The hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites targeted by this lawsuit did nothing wrong,” Biden campaign spokesperson Nate Evans said. “They simply followed long-standing guidance from elections officials issued under the law.”

Trump has railed against the election in tweets and in interviews, even though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. Trump recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he has still refused to admit he lost.

Special counsel appointed in Russia probe investigation

Barr has also given extra protection to the prosecutor he appointed to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, giving him the authority of a special counsel to complete his work without being easily fired.

Barr told The Associated Press that he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel in October under the same federal statute that governed special counsel Robert Mueller in the original Russia probe. He said Durham’s investigation has been narrowing to focus more on the conduct of FBI agents who worked on the Russia investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane.

The Russia investigations grew out of allegations of co-operation between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russians to help him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Barr also appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as special counsel and assigned him to keep investigating the origins of the U.S. government’s own probe into the role that Russia played in Trump’s 2016 election win. (U.S. Department of Justice/The Associated Press)

The current investigation, a criminal probe, had begun very broadly but has since “narrowed considerably” and now “really is focused on the activities of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation within the FBI,” Barr said. He said he expects Durham would detail whether any additional prosecutions will be brought and make public a report of the investigation’s findings.

Appointing Durham as a special counsel would mean that he could only be fired for very specific reasons under the law.

Under the regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons, such as misconduct, dereliction of duty, conflict of interest or other violations of Justice Department policies. An attorney general must document those reasons in writing.

The focus on the FBI, rather than the CIA and the intelligence community, suggests that Durham may have moved past some of the more incendiary claims that Trump supporters had hoped would yield allegations of misconduct, or even crimes — namely, the question of how intelligence agencies reached their conclusion that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.

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Biden gains ground in key states as Trump accuses Democrats, without evidence, of trying to ‘steal’ election

The latest:

  • Electoral college vote stands at 253 for Biden, 214 for Trump.
  • Election observer says no evidence for Trump’s fraud claims.
  • Michigan, Georgia judges dismiss Trump campaign lawsuits.
  • Get all the U.S. election results as they come in.
  • How the electoral college determines who wins the U.S. presidency.
  • What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gained more ground on U.S. President Donald Trump in the battleground states of Georgia and Pennsylvania on Friday, edging closer to the White House hours after Trump falsely claimed the election was being “stolen” from him.

Biden had a 253 to 214 lead in the state-by-state electoral college vote that determines the winner and was inching toward securing the 270 votes needed in the remaining undecided swing states.

In Georgia, which has 16 electoral votes, Biden edged into the lead more than 900 votes early Friday morning. In Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, Biden cut Trump’s lead to just over 18,000.

The numbers in Georgia and Pennsylvania were expected to continue to move in Biden’s favour, with many of the outstanding ballots being from areas that typically vote Democratic, including the cities of Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Biden did see his lead in Arizona shrink to around 47,000 earlier, and was still ahead in Nevada by only 12,000 votes. The Associated Press and Fox News have called Arizona for Biden, but CBC News still considers it too close to call and is waiting to make the determination.

Biden would become the next president by winning Pennsylvania, or by winning two out of the trio of Georgia, Nevada and Arizona. Trump’s likeliest path appeared narrower — he needed to hang onto both Pennsylvania and Georgia and also to overtake Biden in either Nevada or Arizona.

As the country held its breath three days after Tuesday’s election day, Georgia and Pennsylvania officials expressed optimism they would finish counting on Friday, while Arizona and Nevada were still expected to take days to finalize their vote totals.

WATCH | Trump makes unfounded allegations about ‘illegal’ votes:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Thursday that Democrats could ‘try to steal the election from us’ if ‘illegal votes’ cast after election day were counted. There is no evidence that ballots were cast after Nov. 3. 0:40

Trump has sought to portray as fraudulent the slow counting of mail-in ballots, which surged in popularity due to fears of exposure to the coronavirus through in-person voting. As counts from those ballots have been tallied, they have eroded the initial strong leads the president had in states like Georgia and Pennsylvania.

States have historically taken time after election day to tally all votes.

Trump continues baseless allegations

In an extraordinary assault on the democratic process, Trump appeared in the White House briefing room on Thursday evening and without basis alleged the election was being “stolen” from him.

Offering no evidence, Trump lambasted election workers and sharply criticized polling before the election that he said was designed to suppress the vote because it favoured Biden.

“They’re trying to rig an election, and we can’t let that happen,” said Trump, who spoke for about 15 minutes in the White House briefing room before leaving without taking questions. Several TV networks cut away during his remarks, with anchors saying they needed to correct his statements.

Biden, who earlier in the day urged patience as votes were counted, responded on Twitter: “No one is going to take our democracy away from us. Not now, not ever.”

With ballots still to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 73 million votes, the most in U.S. history, while Trump had more than 69 million, about seven million more than in 2016. “Democracy is sometimes messy,” Biden said from Wilmington, Del. “It sometimes requires a bit of patience, too.”

WATCH | ‘Democracy is sometimes messy,’ Biden says: 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden calls on Americans to be patient and calm as the final ballots are counted in crucial swing states. 1:14

And he reiterated that he feels good about where things stand and is confident he will be the winner when the count is complete. 

On Thursday, a Michigan judge dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit in a dispute over whether Republican challengers had access to the handling of absentee ballots. The lawsuit claimed Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, was allowing absentee ballots to be counted without teams of bipartisan observers as well as challengers. 

Michigan First District Court of Appeals Judge Cynthia Stephens said that the lawsuit was filed late Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the last ballots were counted. She also said Benson was the wrong person to sue because she doesn’t control the logistics of local ballot counting even if she is the state’s chief election officer.

Much of the dispute centred on the TCF Center in Detroit where pro-Trump protesters gathered while absentee ballots were being counted.

WATCH | Trump supporters angry as race tightens in Georgia:

Donald Trump supporters protested in Georgia as the lead he initially had over Joe Biden dwindled as more ballots were counted, with some making claims about fraudulent ballots. 2:09

A judge in Georgia, where Trump and Biden were neck and neck Thursday night with 98 per cent of votes reported, also dismissed a lawsuit over the vote in that state late Wednesday. 

It was unclear if any of the Trump campaign’s legal manoeuvring over ballot counting would succeed in shifting the race in his favour. Late Thursday afternoon, the campaign said it had launched yet another lawsuit, this time against the Philadelphia board of electors, seeking an injunction to bar ballot counting unless Republican observers are present. 

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said on Thursday afternoon that she was unaware of any allegations of voter fraud in her state as the final votes were being counted. 

WATCH | Pennsylvania’s secretary of state says it’s not yet clear who the winner is:

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters Thursday that several hundred thousand ballots remain to be counted in the state where results are highly anticipated amid a tight national electoral race. 0:54

What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.

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CBC | World News

As Biden gains ground, Trump again accuses Democrats, without evidence, of trying to ‘steal’ election

The latest:

  • Electoral college vote stands at 253 for Biden, 214 for Trump.
  • Election observer says no evidence for Trump’s fraud claims.
  • Michigan, Georgia judges dismiss Trump campaign lawsuits.
  • Get all the U.S. election results as they come in.
  • How the electoral college determines who wins the U.S. presidency.
  • What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.

Despite the fact votes are still being counted and there has been no winner declared in the election yet by any media organization, U.S. President Donald Trump renewed his unfounded claim Thursday evening that Democrats are trying to “steal” the election from him. He did not back up his allegation with any evidence.

“If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us,” Trump said, suggesting votes were being counted that were cast after election day. 

State and federal officials have not reported any instances of widespread voter fraud.

Trump spoke from the White House briefing room, unleashing harsh criticism of pre-election polling that showed him trailing Democrat Joe Biden and claiming the ballot-counting process is unfair and corrupt.

“This is a case when they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election, and we can’t let that happen,” Trump said of the Democrats, whom he accused of corruption while providing no evidence.

He also vowed to fight the election in court, perhaps right up to the Supreme Court. 

WATCH | Trump makes unfounded allegations about  “illegal” votes:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told reporters Thursday only ‘legal’ votes should be counted in the U.S. election and suggested some votes were cast after Nov. 3 despite no evidence of that. 0:55

The ballot-counting process across the country has been running smoothly, according to state election officials, and the count is ongoing in several battleground states.

“If America needed a wake-up call about how dangerous Donald Trump is, they got it tonight,” Anthony Scaramucci told CBC News. Scaramucci worked in the White House as Trump’s communications director for 11 days and has been openly critical of Trump since he left the White House. 

Biden tweeted in response, saying, “No one is going to take our democracy away from us.” 

Earlier in the day, a Michigan judge dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit in a dispute over whether Republican challengers had access to the handling of absentee ballots. The lawsuit claimed Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, was allowing absentee ballots to be counted without teams of bipartisan observers as well as challengers. 

Judge Cynthia Stephens said that the lawsuit was filed late Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the last ballots were counted. She also said the defendant was the wrong person to sue because she doesn’t control the logistics of local ballot counting, even if she is the state’s chief election officer.

Much of the dispute centred on the TCF Center in Detroit where pro-Trump protesters gathered while absentee ballots were being counted.

A judge in Georgia also dismissed a lawsuit over the vote in that state late Wednesday. It was unclear if any of the Trump campaign’s legal manoeuvring over ballot counting would succeed in shifting the race in his favour. Late Thursday afternoon, the campaign said it had launched yet another lawsuit, this time against the Philadelphia board of electors, seeking an injunction to bar ballot counting unless Republican observers are present. 

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden pushed closer to the 270 electoral college votes needed to carry the White House, securing victories in the “blue wall” battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Michigan and narrowing U.S. President Donald Trump’s path.

Biden’s victories in the Great Lakes states left him with 253 electoral votes, while Trump has 214.

Biden also holds narrow leads in Nevada and Arizona, while Trump was watching his slim advantage fade in must-win states Pennsylvania and Georgia as mail-in and absentee votes were being counted. The Associated Press and Fox News have called Arizona for Biden, but CBC News still considers it too close to call and is waiting to make the determination.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said on Thursday afternoon that she was unaware of any allegations of voter fraud in her state as the final votes were being counted. 

WATCH | Pennsylvania’s secretary of state says it’s not yet clear who the winner is:

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters Thursday that several hundred thousand ballots remain to be counted in the state where results are highly anticipated amid a tight national electoral race. 0:54

Biden called for calm Thursday afternoon as the final votes are counted.

“Democracy is sometimes messy,” he said from Wilmington, Del. “It sometimes requires a bit of patience, too.”

And he reiterated that he feels good about where things stand and is confident he will be the winner when the count is complete. 

With millions of ballots yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 71 million votes, the most in U.S. history.

WATCH | Biden says he feels good about where things stand: 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden calls on Americans to be patient and calm as the final ballots are counted in crucial swing states. 1:14

As of Thursday afternoon, Arizona state officials said about 450,000 ballots remain to be counted, while an election official in Georgia said more than 47,000 votes are still to be counted.

“The effort here is to make sure that everybody’s legal vote is counted properly and that the actual results are reflective of the voters’ intent,” said Gabriel Sterling, a voting system manager in Atlanta. “These close elections require us to be diligent and make sure we do everything right.”

Trump clung to a narrow lead in North Carolina as well, another must-win for him. Trump had to win the states where he was still ahead and either Arizona or Nevada to triumph and avoid becoming the first incumbent U.S. president to lose a re-election bid since fellow Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.

WATCH | Why one Native American woman says she supported Biden:

Allie Young is a member of the Navajo Nation who says she voted for Joe Biden because of his concern about climate change and his desire to strengthen the U.S. government’s relationship with her nation. 7:13

Nevada official responds to Trump campaign allegations

In Las Vegas, Trump allies alleged, without evidence, that there had been voting irregularities in populous Clark County, which includes the city. Former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt, a Republican, said a lawsuit would be filed in federal court to ask the judge to “stop the counting of improper votes.”

On Thursday, Clark County, Nev., election official Joe Gloria told reporters, “We are unaware of any improper ballots that are being processed.”

He said the counting is slow because there are far more mail-in ballots this year than in previous elections, and that the U.S. Postal Service will continue to deliver all ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 through Nov. 10.

WATCH | Clark County official explains why counting is slower than usual:

Clark County, Nev., election official Joe Gloria explains why counting ballots in his county, which contains Las Vegas, is taking so long. 1:06  

Bob Bauer, a senior adviser to Biden’s campaign, called the various Trump lawsuits “meritless” and designed to undermine the integrity of the electoral process.

In Georgia, a judge dismissed a different lawsuit by that state’s Republican Party and Trump’s campaign that asked him to ensure a coastal county was following state laws on processing absentee ballots.

Chatham County Superior Court Judge James Bass did not provide an explanation for his decision at the close of a roughly one-hour hearing. The county includes the heavily Democratic city of Savannah.

WATCH | Result of U.S. presidential election remains unknown:

The CBC’s Ellen Mauro has the latest from Washington on the race for the White House two days after the vote. 4:42

An appeals court in Pennsylvania on Thursday ordered that Trump campaign officials be allowed to more closely observe ballot processing in Philadelphia. Statewide recounts in Wisconsin, meanwhile, have historically changed the vote tally by only a few hundred votes; Biden led by more than 20,000 ballots out of nearly 3.3 million counted.

Election observer says no evidence for Trump’s claims

The head of an international delegation monitoring the U.S. election said his team has no evidence to support Trump’s claims about alleged fraud involving mail-in absentee ballots.

Michael Georg Link, a German lawmaker who heads an observer mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), told German public broadcaster rbb Thursday that “on the election day itself, we couldn’t see any violations” at the U.S. polling places they visited.

WATCH | No obvious legal grounds to stop vote count, law professor says:

University of Memphis law professor Steve Mulroy says vote recounts are common in the U.S. but stopping a count in any state would be a significant legal hurdle for President Donald Trump. 6:35

Link said he was “very surprised” by Trump’s claims about postal ballot fraud because the United States has a long history of this method of voting going back to the 19th century. The Vienna-based OSCE, of which the U.S. is a member, conducts observer missions at major elections in all of its member countries.

“We looked into this. We found no violations of the rules whatsoever,” Link told rbb. He said neither U.S. election observers nor media found any evidence of fraud either, though the OSCE team on Wednesday repeated long-standing concerns about disenfranchisement of some voters and the distorting effects of campaign finance laws.

Trump used his Twitter feed to falsely claim victory in several key states and amplify unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Democratic gains as absentee and early votes were tabulated.

He weighed in again on Twitter on Thursday, writing: “Stop the count!” Twitter later flagged a different Trump tweet as disputed and possibly misleading; Trump tweeted that “any vote that came in after election day will not be counted.”

Several states allow mailed-in votes to be accepted after election day as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. That includes Pennsylvania, where ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can be accepted if they arrive up to three days later. 

WATCH | Trump will not concede, U.S. politics professor maintains:

Scott Lucas, American politics professor at the University of Birmingham, believes no matter what happens next in the U.S. presidential election, President Donald Trump will not concede and that will bring considerable risk to the country.   1:21

What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.

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Did NASA Miss Evidence of Life on Venus in 1978?

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Scientists are still coming to terms with the slim possibility that life exists in the clouds of Venus. It turns out the inhospitable planet has traces of phosphine in its atmosphere, and that often points to living organisms. This new analysis got biochemist Rakesh Mogul curious about past scans of Venus. He examined NASA data collected in the late 1970s, and the analysis suggests the original team may have missed a phosphine signal all those years ago. 

The recent study in Nature Astronomy was a blockbuster in large part due to its thoroughness. The team consisting of researchers from Cardiff University, MIT, and other institutions reported the presence of phosphine and also explored numerous ways it could be produced on Venus. While there are some abiotic processes that can create phosphine molecules, they rely on extremely high temperature and pressure like you’d find in gas giants. Venus should not be able to make phosphine without life. 

Upon hearing the news, Mogul and his co-authors went back to the studies released decades ago following the 1978 Pioneer 13 mission. This NASA probe deployed an instrument called the Large Probe Neutral Mass Spectrometer (LNMS) in Venus’ atmosphere. The LNMS sampled the atmosphere and ran it through a mass spectrometer, which is a common way to identify chemical compounds. 

Mogul noted that the original researchers didn’t discuss phosphate-bearing molecules in their studies. Looking at the raw data again, the scientists spotted signals that looked very much like phosphine. It’s difficult to say for sure because the LNMS was not designed to detect these molecules. If the signals identified as probably phosphine are indeed the genuine article, the concentrations would be a rough match for the Nature Astronomy study. Mogul’s team also spotted several signals that could indicate chlorine, oxygen, and hydrogen peroxide. These are also compounds associated with life, but they could also have arisen in other ways. 

This analysis of retro NASA data has been released on the preprint arXiv database, so it has not undergone peer review. However, this is far from the only operation to take a closer look at Venus. With all the interest around Venus currently, we should get a steady stream of news on this topic until someone can either confirm or refute the claims made in the study published last month. 

The ESA, NASA, and even the private spaceflight firm Rocket Lab have missions that could shed light on what’s going on in the clouds of Venus. It might be a few years until we know for sure, but fingers crossed for floating aliens.

Now read:

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