Tuesday morning news – January 5, 2021

Georgia voters head back to polls as control of Senate hangs in balance » Voters in Georgia will decide the balance of power in the U.S. Senate today. 

The double runoff election has shattered records for campaign spending. 

And on Monday, And President-elect Joe Biden campaigned for Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. 

BIDEN: We need you to vote again in record numbers to make your voices heard again, and again to change Georgia, to change America again!

If Democrats win both Senate seats, each party will control 50 seats. But soon-to-be Vice President Kamala Harris would break the tie, giving Democrats control of the chamber.

But if incumbent Republicans win at least one of the two races, the GOP will retain the majority. 

With that in mind, Vice President Mike Pence looked to turn out the vote for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

PENCE: If you don’t vote, there could be nothing stopping Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi from cutting our military, raising taxes, and passing the agenda of the radical left. 

In November’s election, Sen. Purdue beat Ossoff’s total by nearly 90,000 votes. 

In the other Senate race, Warnock grabbed 1.6 million votes … While Sen. Loeffler and a Republican challenger together split about 2.3 million votes. 

But no candidate in either race topped 50 percent of the votal, and by state law, that triggered today’s runoff elections. 

Polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. 

Georgia secretary of state refutes Trump election claims » Meantime, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger Monday answered President Trump’s complaints about vote counting in his state. 

He told ABC News…

RAFFENSPERGER: The data that he has is just plain wrong. He had hundreds and hundreds of people he said that were dead that voted. We found two. That’s an example of just—his bad data. 

He said President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state is legitimate. 

Raffensperger’s remarks followed a Saturday phone call from the president in which Tump again alleged widespread voter fraud. He insisted that he received enough votes to win Georgia and pressured Raffensperger to find them. 

The Washington Post obtained audio of the call. 

TRUMP: So look, all I want to do is this—I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state, and flipping the state is a great testament to our country. 

In the wake of that call, some Demcoratic lawmakers have called on the Justice Department to “open an immediate criminal investigation.” 

And in Atlanta, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis says her office is prepared to investigate whether President Trump violated state law. 

Iran ratchets up nuclear program, seizes S. Korean tanker » Iran is once again ratcheting up tensions in the Middle East. It has seized a South Korean-flagged tanker near the Strait of Hormuz and is now enriching uranium at the highest level in years. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Experts say Tehran appears to be looking for leverage in the waning days of the Trump administration. President-elect Joe Biden has expressed a desire to rejoin the 20-15 Iran nuclear deal, which the Obama administration helped broker. 

Iran is stepping up enrichment at its underground Fordo facility, putting Tehran a technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90 percent. 

And Iran’s seizure of a South Korean flagged tanker comes as a diplomat from Seoul was due to travel to Tehran to discuss the release of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets.

And if there is any doubt that Tehran is looking for bargaining power, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif erased it in a Monday tweet. 

He claimed other nations that signed onto the 20-15 nuclear deal weren’t adhering to its terms. And he wrote—quoting here—“Our measures are fully reversible upon FULL compliance by ALL.”

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

British prime minister announces new lockdown measures » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown on Monday that will last more than a month. 

That as a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus is helping to fuel a sharp spike in new cases. 

JOHNSON: It’s clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control. 

In a televised address, he said British hospitals are under more pressure than at any other point during the pandemic. Hospitalizations have surged more than 30 percent in just one week. 

The new lockdown measures will last until at least mid-February. 

Starting today, primary and secondary schools and colleges will be mostly closed for in-person learning. 

Many nonessential businesses will also close, such as hairdressers and restaurant dining rooms. 

Johnson said Britons can only leave home for certain reasons…

JOHNSON: Such as to shop for essentials, to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance, or to escape domestic abuse. 

In the meantime, Britain is ramping up its vaccination program by becoming the first nation to start using the shot developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca. 

Judge denies Assange extradition request » A British judge on Monday rejected the U.S. government’s request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage charges. 

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied the request citing concerns for Assange’s mental health. 

The Department of Justice said it will appeal the decision … while Assange’s girlfriend, Stella Moris, appealed to President Trump.  

MORIS: I call on the president of the United States to end this now. 

U.S. prosecutors say Assange not only published secret U.S. documents a decade ago, but took part in a plot to steal them. 

The defense argued that the charges are trumped up and politically motivated. 

The judge rejected those arguments, but said Assange was likely to kill himself under harsh U.S. prison conditions. 

The 49-year-old has been behind bars in a London prison for 18 months. His lawyers will ask for his release at a bail hearing today.

(AP Photo/John Bazemore, File) In this Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, file photo, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference in Atlanta. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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