Cornyn says Congress has ‘no reason’ to overturn Electoral College, given Trump’s inability to show fraud

WASHINGTON — Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a senior Republican and adviser to the majority leader, said flatly Thursday that President Donald Trump has no realistic path to overturning the election.

a couple of people that are talking to each other: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), middle, talks with AISD Board President Geronimo Rodriguez, left, and Derrick Chubbs, CEO of the Central Texas Food Bank, at a food distribution center in Austin, Texas.

© Ken Herman/Austin American-Statesman/TNS
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), middle, talks with AISD Board President Geronimo Rodriguez, left, and Derrick Chubbs, CEO of the Central Texas Food Bank, at a food distribution center in Austin, Texas.

After weeks of court defeats, he noted, Trump’s legal team has yet to show evidence of fraud and ballot tampering despite claims of massive, widespread tampering that padded Joe Biden’s tally by hundreds of thousands if not millions of votes.

“It looks to me like a pathway for the president has narrowed if not closed,” Cornyn said.

And if Trump allies try to overturn the will of the Electoral College in Congress, they won’t find an ally in Cornyn.

“I know of no reason that would justify Congress not doing that,” the senator said in a call with Texas news outlets.

Members of the Electoral College meet Dec. 14 to cast ballots. Biden’s tally is 306-232. The half-dozen states where Trump mounted recounts and court challenges have all certified their votes.

By law, Congress meets Jan. 6 to certify that result, and that’s almost always a mere formality.

But some Trump supporters in the House have threatened to try to derail that, which requires at least one House member and one senator to object in writing. No senator has stepped forward so far to say they’d be willing to do that.

Cornyn has refrained from referring to Biden as the president-elect, or the winner. On Thursday’s call, he referred to him as “Former Vice President Biden” in discussing some of Biden’s picks for Cabinet and other senior posts. Asked directly whether he views Biden as president-elect, Cornyn said “no,” reiterating the stance he’s taken for weeks.

Only two Texas Republicans in Congress have explicitly acknowledged Biden’s victory. Rep. Will Hurd of suburban San Antonio did so as soon as Biden was declared the winner on Nov. 7. Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth said Nov. 20 that “it’s time to move on.”

Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz, along with 20 other GOP members of the House from Texas and seven incoming House freshmen have all refrained from acknowledging Biden’s win.

Thursday marked one month since Election Day. Saturday will mark four weeks since Biden’s victory became apparent, and the TV networks, Associated Press and other independent election analysts deemed him the winner, after results in Pennsylvania became clear enough to put him over the top—at least 270 out of 538 electoral votes.

As counting of mail ballots has continued, Biden’s lead in the popular vote has hit roughly 7 million.

Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million four years ago, though he notched the same electoral margin initially. His final margin was 304-227, because some electors refused to cast votes in line with their states’ voters.


©2020 The Dallas Morning News


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Photos show the Arecibo telescope before and after collapse

  • The Arecibo Observatory’s radio telescope collapsed Tuesday morning, when its 900-ton suspended platform crashed into the enormous dish below.
  • Arecibo was one of Earth’s best radio astronomy tools for 57 years. Its death is a blow to asteroid-tracking efforts and the hunt for alien life.
  • Photos of the iconic telescope show what it looked like before and after the crash.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Arecibo Observatory’s enormous radio telescope collapsed on Tuesday morning. Its 900-ton platform crashed into the 1,000-foot-side disk below, yanking down the tops of three support towers as it fell. 

The demise was not entirely a surprise. After the telescope suffered two cable breaks in August and November, the National Science Foundation, which owns the telescope, determined it was too structurally unsound for workers to repair safely. The Foundation decommissioned the Puerto Rico telescope in late November, and engineers were working to figure out how to deconstruct it. But the platform crashed before that work could progress.

arecibo telescope collapse thumb  2x1

Juxtaposed screen grabs from a video taken by the Arecibo Observatory show the telescope’s platform as it fell.

Courtesy of the Arecibo Observatory, a US National Science Foundation facility

“Friends, it is with deep regret to inform you that the Arecibo Observatory platform has just collapsed,” Deborah Martorell, a meteorologist in Puerto Rico, tweeted in Spanish on Tuesday morning.

Before the crash, the telescope’s massive platform hung 450 feet in the air above its giant bowl-shaped disk. The disk reflected radio waves from space to instruments on the suspended platform.

arecibo observatory puerto rico

The Arecibo Observatory in 2012. The Gregorian Dome hangs over the 1,000-foot reflector dish.

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

But on Tuesday morning, cables that connected the platform to one of the towers snapped, sending it plummeting down.

Jonathan Friedman, who has worked on the Arecibo Observatory’s scientific staff since 1993, told local news outlet NotiCentro the collapse sounded like the rumble of an earthquake, a train, or an avalanche.

arecibo observatory damage platform receiver crash

The 900-ton platform crashed into the Arecibo telescope’s main dish on December 1, 2020.

Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images

A life spent hunting asteroids and starring in movies

Since it was completed in 1963, the Arecibo telescope has played a role in some of humanity’s most exciting findings about space.

It discovered the first known planet beyond our solar system, sent out powerful broadcasts for potential aliens to intercept, and tracked potentially hazardous asteroids to see whether they could hit Earth. 

It even helped scientists confirm Einstein’s theory of general relativity by detecting the first binary pulsar: a highly magnetized, compact star orbiting another star.

Arecibo also enabled researchers to hunt for radio waves from potential alien technology. The only other radio telescope that equals Arecibo’s former power is China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST).  

The telescope’s scale and setting also led it to a life onscreen: It starred in the 1995 James Bond film “GoldenEye” and the 1997 movie “Contact,” starring Jodie Foster.

contact jodi foster arecibo telescope

Jodi Foster in the film “Contact,” which is based on a

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Maya Water System Discoveries Show the Ancient Civilization in a New Light

During the two centuries Western archaeologists have excavated and investigated ancient Maya sites, comparatively little time has been spent understanding the structures that kept cities functioning for centuries. “Unfortunately, there’s this almost 200 year legacy of people focused on burial chambers and temples and hieroglyphics,” says Kenneth Tankersley, an archaeological geologist at the University of Cincinnati. “No one had been asking the question, ‘well, how did these people survive in this biologically stressful environment?'”

But over time, a decidedly mundane portion of ancient Maya life has entered the spotlight: water management. Research and excavations have gradually shown that ancient civilizations in what is now Mexico, Guatemala and Belize modified landscapes to ensure regional water cycles worked for farmers and fed thriving cities. In a stretch of land hit with alternating hurricanes and droughts, Maya ancestors scooped out reservoirs and dug drainage systems capable of holding and transporting water. And the more researchers learn, the more the forged landscapes shine as marvels of ancient Maya culture.

A Flawed Western Perspective

When early archaeologists first examined ancient Maya remains, they fixated on wealth and power, such as temples, graves and their extravagant contents. This was in part because the investigators themselves were rich. The work was a hobby conducted and funded by wealthy Europeans. “Early gentlemen scholars were interested in the elite because they were elite,” says Adrian Chase, an archaeologist at Arizona State University. Europeans also first arrived in Central America on a quest for wealth. That attitude — and search — bled into the first archaeological explorations. Additionally, Western ideas about agriculture influenced how researchers thought residents could put land to use. Dense jungle seemed somewhat impossible to transform into agricultural fields for those who were used to seeing flat plains.

As research continued over the years, archaeologists began to reconsider their assumptions. In the 1970s, attempts to map Tikal, a major Maya city in Guatemala, showed that it was so densely populated that the inhabitants must have relied on a kind of agriculture that farmed the same plots of land repeatedly. It seemed to be the only way to feed a relatively packed metropolis.

Further excavations showed that terraces, or giant shallow steps, carved into hillsides contain layers of modified soil. Each step carries so few rocks that residents must have intentionally removed material from the Earth, and the design of each step allowed water to flow from one to the next.

In the early 2000s, LiDAR technology made its way into ancient Maya research projects. The imaging system emits bursts of radar beams from above and builds a topographic map of the land below by tracking where each of those beams makes contact. LiDAR maps can show a landscape as if it were stripped of any plants — a particularly handy feature when working with former Maya settlements now covered in dense jungle.

With this technology, archaeologists started to see the landscape features, reservoirs and terraces with exceptional detail. They also saw buried infrastructure they didn’t necessarily know

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College Football Playoff rankings release time, channel to watch second 2020 CFP selection show

Decisions aren’t getting easier anytime soon for the College Football Playoff selection committee.

As its second set of 2020 rankings are unveiled Tuesday night, the landscape of Playoff contenders remains complicated by COVID-19 cancelations and vastly different strengths of schedule. Ohio State, one of the teams named in the initial top four last week, couldn’t suit up against Illinois because of a coronavirus outbreak. USC, the last remaining Pac 12 squad with any hope of a Playoff appearance, might struggle to complete six games this year as the West Coast buckles down for a surge of hospitalizations and subsequent shutdowns.

Cincinnati and BYU, meanwhile, might not get a crack at the Playoff even if they go unbeaten through nine-plus contests.

MORE: SN’s Playoff predictions after Week 13

For now, the expected pecking order includes Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Clemson in some order. But if one of those teams loses before the end of the season, the field would plunge into complete chaos.

That’s why the weekly CFP rankings are interesting beyond the top four. With each update, the committee lays out a roadmap for what it intends to do if one of the best teams falters. It telegraphs which programs it will likely believe in come the Dec. 20 final selections and which ones it might snub.

With that in mind, here’s what to know about the second CFP rankings release of 2020:

What time are the College Football Playoff rankings released?

  • Date: Tuesday, Dec. 1
  • Start time: 7 p.m. ET

The College Football Playoff will unveil its second set of rankings at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 1. According to the official Playoff site, that will be the case for each of the ensuing rankings until Dec. 20, when the rankings will be released at noon.

Video: What are the odds?: Alabama opens as huge favorite over LSU, per BetMGM (SMG)

What are the odds?: Alabama opens as huge favorite over LSU, per BetMGM



CFP rankings schedule 2020

The CFP rankings will be released on four consecutive Tuesdays from Nov. 24 to Dec. 15. The final rankings will be unveiled Dec. 20, the weekend all Power 5 conference championship games are played.

Here’s a look at the remaining schedule:

Date Time (ET)
Tuesday, Dec. 1 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 8 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 15 7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 20 (Selection Sunday) Noon

MORE: AP Top 25, Coaches Poll rankings

How to watch CFP selection show

Each of the Playoff rankings will take place on ESPN and can be live streamed on WatchESPN. All rankings leading into the College Football Playoff selection show on Sunday, Dec. 20, will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET. The final show will take place at noon.

Each set of rankings can also be streamed on ESPN via fuboTV, which offers a 7-day free trial.

Projected CFP rankings: Who are the top four teams in college football?

1. Alabama (8-0)

2. Notre Dame (9-0)

3. Ohio

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Sheep show the contamination by microplastics in the agricultural soils of Murcia

Sheep show the contamination by microplastics in the agricultural soils of Murcia
Sheeps during the study. Credit: Nicolas Beriot (Diverfarming project)

In recent times, the increase in plastic residues has been reasserted as being a major environmental problem. This material, which is present in packaging and day-to-day objects, plays a decisive role in intensive agriculture zones.

In the Region of Murcia, known as ‘Europe’s market garden,’ mulch film (plastic covering over the crop lines) increases production in vegetable fields, but involves using large amounts of plastic. This low-density plastic is difficult to completely remove from the fields and, with time, decomposes into smaller particles which are absorbed by the soil, transported by water or wind, and are also ingested by other animals.

In order to know the status of contamination by microplastics in this zone, researchers from the universities of Wageningen and Cartagena analyzed the presence of these plastics in agricultural soil, and also in sheep feces, to determine the possible ingestion of plastics by the livestock that feed on post-harvest agricultural residues.

They found that 100% of the soil samples analyzed contained microplastics, as did 92% of the samples of sheep feces studied. This, in turn, translates into concentrations of 2,000 particles of microplastics per kilogram of soil, and 1,000 particles per kilogram of dry feces.

This analysis reveals a relevant concentration of plastics and warns about the ingestion of this material by sheep; future studies should analyze how ingesting the plastic affects the organism of these animals.

Despite the negative effects of the plastic and its accumulation in intensive agriculture zones, it is very difficult to do away with that material since techniques such as the use of mulch film enable savings in water and pesticides; these prove to be determining factors in semi-arid zones with scant rainfall, as is the case of the Murcia zone.

Reverting this trend will therefore require a change in paradigm in current agricultural production so as to relegate intensive cropping to a secondary role. The Diverfarming project, financed by the H2020 call of the European Commission seeks, in this sense, to bring about a change in European agriculture towards an agriculture that is more sustainable and respectful to the environment. By means of the combination of crop diversification and sustainable farming practices they seek to look after the planet whilst ensuring the farmers’ economic benefits.

First look at a sustainable agricultural mulch

More information:
Nicolas Beriot et al, Low density-microplastics detected in sheep faeces and soil: A case study from the intensive vegetable farming in Southeast Spain, Science of The Total Environment (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142653
Provided by
University of Córdoba

Sheep show the contamination by microplastics in the agricultural soils of Murcia (2020, November 25)
retrieved 25 November 2020

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Fossils show 66 million years of insects eating kauri trees

Fossils show 66 million years of insects eating kauri trees
Agathis microstachya and Agathis robusta growing near Lake Barrine, Australia. Credit: Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Exquisitely preserved feeding marks on fossil conifer leaves show that the same insect feeding and fungi persisted for millions of years on the same type of plant, from ancient Patagonian rainforests to the modern rainforests of the tropical West Pacific.

Over 50 million years ago, rainforests teeming with life stretched across the ancient supercontinent Gondwana, including what is now South America, Antarctica and Australia. Based on fossil evidence, many plants that now live in places like Australia, New Guinea and Borneo are survivors from the Gondwanan rainforest. Fossil leaves from the Patagonian region of southern Argentina also preserve an astonishing variety of insect-feeding damage traces like those seen in modern rainforests, showing that the Gondwanan forests were also home to diverse plant-feeding insect communities. Did those ancient plant-insect communities survive the breakup of Gondwana and the dramatic range changes of the host plants, and are they still alive today?

An international group of researchers focused on fossils of Agathis, a majestic, tall conifer commonly known as kauri, comparing thousands of modern specimens from Australasia and Southeast Asia to 482 Patagonian fossils ranging in age from 66 to 48 million years, latest Cretaceous to middle Eocene. Their findings were published today (Nov. 25) in Communications Biology.

Fossils show 66 million years of insects eating kauri trees
Leaf mine on a leaf of cf. Agathis from the latest Cretaceous Lefipán Formation, Chubut, Argentina. Similar blotch mines on Agathis from before and after the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction (when the non-avian dinosaurs went extinct) represent the first evidence of a probable surviving leaf mine association on the same plant genus during the mass extinction. Credit: Cleveland Museum of Natural History

“We found remarkably similar suites of insect and fungal damage on fossil and living Agathis leaves over a vast span of time and space,” said Dr. Michael Donovan, Senior Collections Manager of Paleobotany & Paleoecology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and lead author of the paper.

Insects have evolved many different plant-feeding strategies, and hundreds of damage types have been recognized in the fossil record. On both the fossil and modern Agathis leaves, the team found highly specialized leaf mines that insect larvae create as they tunnel through leaves, tumor-like galls, bite marks along leaf edges from hungry insects, the waxy protective armor of scale insects, and rust fungi.

Notably, the researchers found extremely similar elongated, blotchy leaf mines on Agathis at all the fossil sites and on multiple living species of the same conifer.

Fossils show 66 million years of insects eating kauri trees
Leaf mine, a tunnel made by a larval insect, on a leaf of Agathis zamunerae (a conifer in the family Araucariaceae) from Laguna del Hunco, an early Eocene fossil locality in Chubut, Argentina. Similar mines were found on fossil Agathis from the latest Cretaceous to middle Eocene in Patagonia and modern species in Australasia and Southeast Asia. Credit: Cleveland Museum of Natural History

“While working on a previous study on the recovery of insect feeding after the end-Cretaceous “dinosaur” extinction, I

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Time, TV and streaming info for rankings show

The first College Football Playoff rankings will be released Tuesday after weeks of speculation and uncertainty about whether the season would even get to this point during the COVID-19 pandemic.    

a group of football players on a field: Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams (23) celebrates with offensive lineman Robert Hainsey after a touchdown in the first overtime against Clemson at Notre Dame Stadium.

© Matt Cashore, USA TODAY Sports
Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams (23) celebrates with offensive lineman Robert Hainsey after a touchdown in the first overtime against Clemson at Notre Dame Stadium.

This year’s process will be different. The initial release comes three weeks later than usual with conferences delaying their schedules. There will be three more Tuesday night rankings in December before the final release Sunday, Dec. 20 that will decide the four teams in the playoff.

The varying starts for conferences have placed an additional burden on the committee with some contenders playing as many as eight games while Ohio State and Oregon only taking the field four and three times, respectively.

From NFL plays to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day.

WHAT TO KNOW: Everything to know before first rankings are released

FIELD ANALYSIS: Where the College Football Playoff stands after Week 12

TOUGH CHALLENGE: Playoff committee must mange muddled regular season

College Football Playoff rankings start time

The initial Top 25 will be released at 7 p.m.

TV and streaming info

Coverage will air on ESPN and and can be streamed on fuboTV.  

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Precise maps of millions of bright quasars show our place in the cosmos as never before | Science

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