Outside the Outbreak: Electoral College casts votes, states file anti-trust lawsuit against Google

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Electoral College makes it official: Biden won, Trump lost

President-elect Joe Biden speaks after the Electoral College formally elected him as president, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Electoral College decisively confirmed Joe Biden as the nation’s next president, ratifying his November victory in an authoritative state-by-state repudiation of President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede he had lost.

The presidential electors on Dec. 14 gave Biden a solid majority of 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, the same margin that Trump bragged was a landslide when he won the White House four years ago.

Heightened security was in place in some states as electors met to cast paper ballots, with masks, social distancing and other pandemic precautions the order of the day. The results will be sent to Washington and tallied in a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress over which Vice President Mike Pence will preside.

Dozens of states file anti-trust lawsuit against Google

A group of 35 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, alleging that the search giant has an illegal monopoly over the online search market that hurts consumers and advertisers. The lawsuit, announced by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. by states represented by bipartisan attorneys general. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Dozens of states are joining an escalating effort to prove Google has been methodically abusing its power as the internet’s main gateway in a way that hurts consumers habitually feeding personal information into its search engine and advertisers pouring billions of dollars into its vast marketing network.

The lawsuit was filed Dec. 17 in federal court in Washington by attorneys general of 35 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. It seems likely to be combined with a similar complaint by the the U.S. Department of Justice in late October that is also trying to defuse Google’s dominance of online search and digital advertising.

“Consumers are denied the benefits of competition, including the possibility of higher quality services and better privacy protections. Advertisers are harmed through lower quality and higher prices that are, in turn, passed along to consumers,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in announcing the action.

Family behind OxyContin attests to its role in opioid crisis

FILE – This Oct. 21, 2020 file photo shows Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn. Two members of the Sackler family have agreed to make a rare public appearance to take questions from a congressional committee that is investigating the role of the company they own, Purdue Pharma, in fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic. The agreement to appear Thursday, Dec. 17 headed off the possibility of the U.S. House Oversight Committee issuing subpoenas. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Two owners of the company that makes OxyContin acknowledged to Congress on Thursday that the powerful prescription painkiller played a role in the opioid epidemic but they stopped short of apologizing or admitting wrongdoing.

“I want to express my family’s deep sadness about the opioid crisis,” David Sackler, whose family owns Purdue Pharma, said at a rare appearance in a public forum. “OxyContin is a medicine that Purdue intended to help people, and it has helped, and continues to help, millions of Americans.”

The company’s marketing efforts have been blamed for contributing to an addiction and overdose crisis that has been linked to 470,000 deaths in the United States over the past two decades.

Russia can’t use its name and flag at the next 2 Olympics

FILE – In this Feb. 23, 2014 file photo the Russian national flag, right, flies after it is hoisted next to the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The ruling on whether Russia can keep its name and flag for the Olympics will be announced on Thursday Dec. 17, 2020. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Wednesday that three of its arbitrators held a four-day hearing last month in the dispute between the World Anti-Doping Agency and its Russian affiliate, known as RUSADA. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)

Russia will not be able to use its name, flag and anthem at the next two Olympics or at any world championships for the next two years after a ruling Dec. 17 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Lausanne-based court halved the four-year ban proposed last year by the World Anti-Doping Agency in a landmark case that accused Russia of state-ordered tampering of a testing laboratory database in Moscow. The ruling also blocked Russia from bidding to host major sporting events for two years.

Russian athletes and teams will still be allowed to compete at next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, as well as world championships including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, if they are not banned for or suspected of doping.

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