'Unconscionable': Biden criticises Trump while accepting electoral college victory – live updates

Lauren Aratani in New York has been looking for us at the vexed issue of whether US employers can mandate that their workers take a vaccine.

Vaccinating a whole country – especially one as large as the US – was always going While the vaccine will only be available to the majority of Americans by summer 2021 at the earliest, the coming months may see serious debate over whether businesses, including hospitals and long-term care facilities, should mandate the vaccine for their employees to ensure things can go back to normal as quickly as possible.

Employers, particularly in sectors that have been radically changed by the pandemic, have shown an eagerness to get their workers vaccinated. The National Restaurant Association and other food and agricultural organizations wrote a letter to Donald Trump and Joe Biden asking them to prioritize getting food workers vaccinations “to ensure the agricultural and food supply chains remain operating”.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers unions in the country, has also said that the union supports schools requiring teachers to get vaccinated, saying it is “just like we have vaccines we require kids to take to be in school in normal times.

And in the private sector other bosses are hoping to get all their staff vaccinated. Daniel Schreiber, the CEO of Lemonade insurance company, wrote on the company’s website that he will be trying to get a 100% vaccination rate at the company. While he said the company will not enforce vaccination, he wrote: “A corporate directive, coupled with educational sessions, can inject the urgency and reassurances needed to move the needle.”

Employers generally have the right to require employees to get vaccinations. Employment in the US is typically at-will, which means an employer can fire an employee for any reason as long as it does not have to deal with an employee’s protected identity, for example, an employee’s race or religion. Barring some religious and health-related exemptions, private businesses have the specific right to maintain their own health and safety standards and are legally able to fire employees who violate their rules, including if they do not get certain vaccines.

Read more of Lauren Aratani’s report here: Can US employers order workers to get the coronavirus vaccine?

China appears to have used mobile phone networks in the Caribbean to surveil US mobile phone subscribers as part of its espionage campaign against Americans, according to a mobile network security expert who has analysed sensitive signals data.

The findings paint an alarming picture of how China has allegedly exploited decades-old vulnerabilities in the global telecommunications network to route “active” surveillance attacks through telecoms operators.

The alleged attacks appear to be enabling China to target, track, and intercept phone communications of US phone subscribers, according to research and analysis by Gary Miller, a Washington state-based former mobile network security executive.

Miller, who has spent years analysing mobile threat intelligence reports and observations of signalling traffic between foreign and US mobile operators, said in some cases China appeared to have used networks in the Caribbean to conduct its surveillance.

At the heart of the allegations are claims that China, using a state-controlled mobile phone operator, is directing signalling messages to US subscribers, usually while they are travelling abroad.

Signalling messages are commands that are sent by a telecoms operators across the global network, unbeknownst to a mobile phone user. They allow operators to locate mobile phones, connect mobile phone users to one another, and assess roaming charges. But some signalling messages can be used for illegitimate purposes, such as tracking, monitoring, or intercepting communications.

US mobile phone operators can successfully block many such attempts, but Miller believes the US has not gone far enough to protect mobile phone users, who he believes are not aware of how insecure their communications are.

Miller focused his research on messages that he said did not appear legitimate, either because they were “unauthorised” by the GSMA, an international standard-setting body for the telecommunications industry, or because the messages were sent from a location that did not match where a user was travelling.

Read more of Stephanie Kirchgaessner’s exclusive investigation: Revealed – China suspected of spying on Americans via Caribbean phone networks

If Dick Cheney gained notoriety as George W Bush’s “Darth Vader”, William Barr, the US attorney general, appeared a worthy successor as Donald Trump’s Lord of the Sith.

Barr played the role of presidential enforcer with apparent relish, whether spinning the Russia investigation in Trump’s favour or defending a harsh crackdown on this summer’s civil unrest.

But even he could not or would not pass the ultimate loyalty test: shredding the US constitution to help his boss steal an election. As Trump’s niece, Mary, puts in the title of her book, it was a case of Too Much and Never Enough.

Trump tweeted on Monday that Barr will resign before Christmas. Barr, for his part, issued a resignation letter that noted election fraud allegations “will continue to be pursued” before going on to lavish praise on Trump’s “historic” record despite resistance that included “frenzied and baseless accusations of collusion with Russia”.

David Axelrod, the former chief strategist for Barack Obama, observed in a Twitter post: “In writing his fawning exit letter, Barr reflected a fundamental understanding of @realDonaldTrump: Like a dog, if you scratch his belly, he is a lot more docile. Just as[k] Kim [Jong-un] !”

But the sycophantic words could not conceal how Barr, like the attorney general Jeff Sessions and the FBI director James Comey before him, had refused to do the 45th president’s bidding once too often. With democracy in existential danger, he was the dog that did not bark.

Barr, who previously served as attorney general under George HW Bush in the early 1990s, had always been a believer in expansive presidential power and being tough on crime. He was therefore “simpatico” – to borrow one of Joe Biden’s favourite words – with Trump from the off.

Read more of David Smith’s sketch from Washington here: Barr couldn’t pass Trump’s loyalty test: shredding the US constitution