Former Goldman Sachs Partner Edith Cooper: Recruit, Retain, Mentor

EDITH COOPER: You know, I always chuckled when someone approaches me and says, “I want to know, how did you get to where you are?” And I’m like, “That is so not relevant because first of all, you might be 10 times better than me.” Like you don’t want to hear, “And then I did this, and then I did that.” I always believed that in a mentoring conversation, that I would walk away with as much knowledge as hopefully I was sharing. And the reason I’m highlighting that, for those who are beginning their journeys, or looking to shift journeys and seeking advice, is that you should go into it, a potential mentoring conversation with that in mind, that it’s not just a one-way street.

PORTER BRASWELL: From HBR Presents, this is Race at Work – the show where we explore how race affects our careers and our lives. I’m Porter Braswell. I left a Wall Street career to start a company called Jopwell – because I wanted to help corporate America build a more diverse workforce. Each week, we talk to a different leader about their journey with race, equity, and inclusion. These are the conversations we don’t usually have at work. But this show is a safe place to share and learn from each other.

PORTER BRASWELL: More so than any other episode, this one is more personal for me. I started my career in sales and trading at Goldman Sachs, and one of my early mentors is this week’s guest Edith Cooper. Edith is the co-founder of Medley, along with being a board member of Slack, Etsy, and Grain Management. Previously, she was Global Head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs. And when she was at Goldman, she played a pivotal role in driving the conversation about race at work. She also led initiatives that revolutionized the way banks in general think about recruiting and retention strategies. And she attributes her success to two of her earliest mentors – her parents.

PORTER BRASWELL: So, your parents grew up in the segregated South, they moved to New York to get away from the institutionalized racism that was occurring down there. So what were some of the major lessons you learned at home that stayed with you throughout your career?

EDITH COOPER: Well, I feel really fortunate, Porter, because I grew up with parents and family, where there was this expectation that it was our responsibility to first and foremost do well in school. Because when they looked at their experiences, it was really access to strong education that made a significant difference. They were from North and South Carolina respectively, both graduates of historically Black colleges. My mom Howard, my father Lincoln and dental school at Howard, and that really gave them this strong sense of what was expected and what the possibilities were. My parents instilled in me a willfulness, maybe it’s a bit of being stubborn, that if you want something, you have to go after it and don’t get deterred by other people’s expectations of what they think you’re capable of. Know what you’re capable of and commit to that.

PORTER BRASWELL: Well, you are now the parent of three adult children. What guidance or lessons have you and your husband provided to prepare them for the world that they will face as Black citizens and Black professionals?

EDITH COOPER: You know, it’s interesting when I listened to my description of what my parents instilled in us. I hope that we’ve done the same thing with our children. I also think that our children have seen that, despite my professional successes or my husband’s successes, that you never lose sight of where you come from. And the way that we relate to other people as people on the same level, it doesn’t matter who they are or what they’re doing. I would say also that we always welcomed our home, particularly as I began working at Goldman Sachs, to people of color. And we did it because it was important for us to show that we were welcoming, that the social avenues that were open to, often to the majority, that were limited for us, we could create. And I remember we had an event and it was a summer analyst and associate event, and my youngest was probably four or five and thought it was a great opportunity to use this as an opportunity to bounce his basketball around every human being that was at that event. And you know, at first I was like horrified, but then I realized that many of the people there were probably more entertained by him playing basketball than they were by the idle chit-chat. How do you create environments where people can just be real and comfortable?

PORTER BRASWELL: So you joined Goldman Sachs in 1996, and you made partner just four years later, and in doing so you became the first Black female partner and only the third Black partner in the firm’s 120-year history. So along that journey, what silent or not so silent obstacles did you face? And do you have a story that exemplifies a particular challenge that you may have come across?

EDITH COOPER: I benefited greatly, as every professional does, from sponsorship – not only my manager but from the organization. I would honestly say that in some ways, leadership of Goldman saw in me, potential that I hadn’t quite sort of crystallized in my own mind. At that point, I was a mom of three kids, my husband and I were trying to figure it all out, and I wanted to do well. Did I sit back and say, “I’m going to get to here by then?” No, not particularly. I just was trying to do a great job and make an impact. And I think there were some moments where honestly, if I didn’t have that support and sponsorship, I might’ve like stepped off that playing field, you know. When I had been there for a couple of years and had now management responsibility for the team, one of my peers was told basically he was going to report to me and he asked me out for dinner, and I said great, that was a thing, go out to dinner with your colleagues. And as we sat down, he said, “Listen, I just want to tell you that it’s clear to me that this is ridiculous and that I shouldn’t be working for you, and nobody thinks I should be working for you.” And I was like, “Okay.” And he said, “And by the way, I understand that if you don’t want to stay for dinner, because you want to think through this and think about what we should do about this.” And I looked at him and I said, “First of all, there’s nothing to do about this because this is it. You work for me, this is the structure. And by the way, I’m hungry, so we’re staying for dinner.” And I have to say, I don’t know where at that particular moment I got that moxie. But you know the truth of the matter is, it was just so ridiculous in my mind that I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, you’re not going to try to pull that on me. As a Black woman you just had to endure the constant nonsense of quote jokes around, “Oh you are Black and you’re a woman, so people get double credit for you. Yeah, I saw you in there again with the boss, he’s really getting his diversity credit.” And that is, for so many of us, a real obstacle because what it does, and I think what the intent of it is, is to chip away at your confidence and to basically say to you, “No, no, no, no, you are not deserving.” And I again was fortunate to have my dad who I would go home and I would say, “This is ridiculous, and I don’t have to put up with this.” And he was an avid reader and he pulled out articles all the time, the first Black person who was a member of the New York Stock Exchange, who I would call Vernon Jordan, who is extraordinary human being and civil rights leader, who would listen and [say] basically. “Get on back there.” And so it’s sort of this story of resilience and again knowing that at the end of the day, you control you and you got to keep yourself pushing forward.

PORTER BRASWELL: So on that topic of mentorship, you mentioned Vernon Jordan as one of your mentors. How did those relationships, how did they kick off? Did you find them, did they find you? And who were some other of your mentors that have been impactful throughout your career?

EDITH COOPER: Well, each story varies, but I think the pattern is, I came across or I met Vernon as a result of a personal relationship, and he took an interest and he made it easy. I look back then and I realize like, “Oh my God, he had to work way too hard.” If I had this opportunity again, I would have been the one in the early days calling him and saying, “Can I get on your calendar?” Instead, he recognized that I had quite a bit on my plate and he would always touch base and see how I was doing. And there are others, Gary Cohn actually was my boss and mentor for much of the time I was with Goldman Sachs. And although at a certain point our politics, let’s just say, went in different directions. I would say he was a terrific mentor and sponsor, in that that he was constantly pushing me into situations that were a little bit beyond my current skill set. So they were risky, and I remember an example where it didn’t actually go particularly well. I moved my family to the U.K., had never worked outside of the US. I had a real problem, credit situation, that I was responsible for sorting out. It was way outside of my comfort zone, and he would check in as we do daily, “What’s going on with the business?” And I was just like, “Listen, you got the wrong person for this job, because I don’t have this background or that grounding.” And after two or three of these calls, he said to me, “How is your family?” “They’re great. Everybody is settling in.” “That’s good. Let me be clear, you own this issue, and there is no out of this, like if you want to call me every day to walk me through the next steps and the questions or concerns, I’m all for that. But I am no more having conversations around the fact that this is not something that you’re going to be responsible for.” And so that’s another example of mentoring. And then the final one that I’d share, Porter, is actually what people don’t expect, which is, I have gotten a lot of mentoring from people who are actually not more senior or in more powerful positions than me, but those that are coming at things from a different lens. I’m going to embarrass you a little bit Porter, because, for those that might not know had the opportunity to work together when you were a summer and then a full-time analyst at Goldman Sachs. And I recall you coming to my office saying, “You know what I got this idea. I’ve got this idea. I want to be able to give other students in universities access to the knowledge that I so benefited from. And I’ve written this book and I’m thinking about starting this company.” And I have to say I was a little bit, but what about this wonderful job you have at Goldman Sachs?

PORTER BRASWELL: Along with my parents.

EDITH COOPER: And you were killing it – killing it in a positive sense. You were doing well and you were really starting to move through the organization. And I remember so vividly when you were in my office and that last conversation, and you said, “Edith, I really care about this work. It’s like my purpose.” And I think for once, I stopped talking and I listened and I said, “I’m starting to hear you. I’m starting to hear you in a different way.” And I highlight this as an example because I think about that moment often, particularly in the years that followed, because I was hearing from others that it was not just about climbing the ladder of Goldman Sachs and the economics or the professional attributes that went with that. It was really understanding purpose of your work, really knowing that you were intended to do things, and that going after those things was something that created one’s best self, and it increasingly was Goldman Sachs’s responsibility to create environments where people could be their best selves.

PORTER BRASWELL: Well, I appreciate that. And I’ve learned countless things from you, and you’ve been the one consistent mentor I’ve had throughout my professional journey. And I know how fortunate and lucky I was to be able to have you as a mentor at such a junior stage in my career. So for those listeners that are more junior and they are professionals of color, what was it that enabled you to invest your time in a junior person? Because oftentimes it seems like this Herculean task to get a senior person to take interest in somebody more junior.

EDITH COOPER: I always believed that in a mentoring conversation, that I would walk away with as much knowledge as hopefully I was sharing. And the reason I’m highlighting that, for those who are beginning their journeys, or looking to shift journeys and seeking advice, is that you should go into it, a potential mentoring conversation, with that in mind, that it’s not just a one-way street. And therefore it really is wonderful when you develop relationships with people and do a little bit of work beforehand to understand what is it that I can learn from this person and how can I be helpful to them? And how do you do that? Do your homework and get the basics out of the way. And so, for example, I always chuckled when someone approaches me and says, “I want to know, how did you get to where you are?” And I’m like, “That is so not relevant because first of all, you might be 10 times better than me.” Like you don’t want to hear, “And then I did this, and then I did that.” What you really want to understand is something that relates to experiences that will give you insight as to the things that you might encounter as you progress. And so, I’m less interested in telling someone how to get the promotion. I’m more interested in understanding who you are and what you are looking to achieve. And if you talk to anybody that’s ever had a conversation with me, you will hear that she’s going to want to ask you your story. And it’s not a complicated question, so what’s your story? Because I’ve got your resume, particularly in the construct of working at Goldman Sachs, but I don’t know how you got your resume and that’s what interested me. But other people might be way more tactical. They want your rank and serial number, they want where you went to school and when you graduated and what you were there for. But just do a little bit of homework going into that, and then make it easy for the person to maintain a relationship. Because these people are unfortunately usually oversubscribed and busy, so try to make the conversation easy. And, by the way, if someone doesn’t reply to your email, don’t take it personally, take a bit of a step back and try again.

PORTER BRASWELL: So while you were at Goldman, you made some big changes to recruiting. Looking back, what were some of the most important changes you made and what outcomes did they create, as your legacy at the firm?

EDITH COOPER: Well, Goldman Sachs, and it’s true with every organization, is in the talent business. And the success of Goldman Sachs hinges upon our ability to attract extraordinary people. But that’s not any different than any firm, everybody wants that. And I think first and foremost, is that we knew because of the brand we could attract, but we actually hadn’t done a lot of work and understanding what it took to retain people. And then, not just retain, but create an environment where people could flourish. So let’s take them in those three categories, attract. We were literally recruiting people out of university, in the same way we had done probably 10 years prior. We’d print out people’s resumes, we’d put them in books, we’d send them to the teams of individuals who went to those schools to flip through the book to identify people who would be interesting to talk to. Now, you can see so many flaws in that. First of all, we’re talking about, at this point 2010, 2012, technology was a thing at that point. And so the whole idea that we were not actually leveraging technology just to look at more applications was fraught with all sorts of issues. Secondly, we shouldn’t be surprised if we have people from schools, interview people from schools, like likes like. So the minute you sit down with somebody and you notice that you were on the same team or lived in the same dorm, it’s a different conversation. And it really is varied based upon your connections to that person, whether you’re the first interview or the last interview. I mean, it’s a bit of a random walk. Now, the reality is the person comes in, interviews with more people. But then we really started to look at the data and we wondered, if our ultimate goal is to get the best people and we are not truly attracting a balanced group of people to apply. If 50 percent of the applicants on campus, students on campus are women, then we should know that 50 percent of our applications should be women. If 8 percent of the students that are at a majority college are Black, then we should strive to get 8 percent of our applicants. And so we really got way more granular, as we were running a talent business, with respect to setting up our expectations and our goals, and then creating a more balanced way of assessment. As an organization, we had professional recruiters, we put recruiters in positions to do their jobs. We got rid of the in-person meet-and-greet interviews, and we started to do virtual video interviews, because we felt like that was an opportunity for people to not have to look at the person that they walk in, get that expression, react to whether the person is having a good day. So we basically took an outdated approach to identifying talent and we leveraged technology to bring it forward, to really get at the best candidates. The second step to that is retention. And you asked me specifically about recruiting, Porter, but the retention piece is just as important to recruiting because information flow is instantaneous. If you are recruiting extraordinary people, particularly people of color who go into these conversations, who go into work understanding that their experience is going to be somewhat different than the majority, if it’s not actually what you promise, people will know instantaneously and the candidates that you’ll be able to access will be more limited. The other thing that was most important was that we were just looking too narrowly. And so we just kept going back to the same core schools, and then we’d sprinkle a couple of historically Black colleges in there, to ensure that we were really getting at a more diverse population, and that was very, very important. But what we weren’t really doing was breaking it down and making it more accessible so that a student at City College could see that there was an opportunity. And we really weren’t doing a good enough job at helping people understand, not just the rules as they were articulated in our information sessions, but how do I present myself? How do I express my ideas?

PORTER BRASWELL: Do you think that the financial industry will ever really crack the code and get it right? To see the type of retention of under-represented communities that we all want to see?

EDITH COOPER: The great ones will. Great financial firms will crack the code and then have to reinvent and respond to the current code because it’s not a monolithic situation. I mean, Black people and people of color are not going to be the same today, tomorrow, 10 years from now. And organizations are going to have to be in line, in thinking that as the environment changes, as the economics of businesses change, so too will be the product of those environments, i.e. people who are coming into the workplace and wanting a say. And so, I believe great companies, not only will have to, but will make it the economic imperative for their success, that it should be.

PORTER BRASWELL: Let’s go back to 2016. That summer was oddly, and unfortunately similar to this past summer, and in just two days two unarmed Black men were shot to death by police. Goldman responded by holding a company-wide dialogue about race with then CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, and several of the firm’s senior leaders who were Black, and of course you were one of them. Can you tell us what you hoped to achieve by talking about race at work? And looking back, what did you achieve?

EDITH COOPER: As you’ve pointed out Porter, it wasn’t an unfamiliar story then, and it certainly isn’t an unfamiliar story now. I would say that then the role of companies to be engaged in conversations about these atrocities was not a given. And at Goldman Sachs, I would say the firm had done a good job really tackling gender, had jumped into LGBT rights, specifically as it relates to marriage, because Goldman felt that it was key to our business, i.e. if people are not able to marry who are same sex, they will not be able to have the same benefits, they can’t be placed around the world, et., etc. So it became a business imperative. And I remember a conversation vividly, with Lloyd Blankfein who was the CEO, who said, “You know, Edith, you know personally how I feel about this.” And we had had many conversations over the years. But as the CEO, is it really my place to be engaged in these conversations?” And at the time, there was only, I think one or two CEOs out there who felt it was important to make a statement. So we, with the firm’s support, wrote the piece, and it launched a series of conversations externally and internally, to the point where you mentioned Lloyd [Blankfein] personally hosted a conversation with several of us Black partners. I remember looking in the auditorium and it was packed, people standing in the aisles, and it was a real game changer. It was also supplemented and reinforced by conversations with Professor [Mahzarin] Banaji at Harvard on blind spots, unconscious bias. But I have to say, and for me, felt like, “All right, now we’re really making strides.” Let’s fast forward though to this spring, where again, same, same horrible circumstance. You know, I think people were raw, and the upswell of frustration and anger prompted by George Floyd’s death, Breonna Taylor, and others, really took it from let’s talk about race as a good thing, nice thing, to something that I felt was way more powerful. And CEOs were not, they were not staying silent, but they realized that they needed to have a point of view, as a CEO of an organization, about how it was wrong to kill unarmed Black people, and it was wrong to not aggressively support organizations whose purpose were to focus and fight for equality on a number of different dimensions. And so, the conversations and the statements were quite direct. The dollars started to come out of organizations to support really important thinking, anything that really made them feel like they were contributing to changing thinking. I think what really has made a difference is that it is a movement, and it is a movement fueled by younger people understanding that it’s their future, and I think a big part of why so many leaders have stepped up is because you all are not having it. And as we were all asked to have extensive conversations around the experience of being Black, I had to think about how to respond when someone says earnestly, “You know, Edith, I don’t see you as Black. I don’t see color. I don’t see race.” And to have to actually hear that, and respond and continue to engage. To have friends that you’ve had forever call literally sobbing saying, “I had no idea how hard it was for you.” But you know what, we’ve endured, and we have educated, and therefore the level of accountability I think is much greater. I remain incredibly optimistic, not because I think the work is done, I think it’s just beginning. This phase is, we’ve got a lot to do. But because I think that you all and society will not stand for anything short of real action, and that is going to make a difference.

PORTER BRASWELL: I think what also feels different this time around, it’s not just the Black community calling for change, it’s the majority community, as well. And people are taking notice of all the injustices and inequalities that have always existed. And so it does feel different this time. Back in 2016, when you decided to have this conversation? And then if so, how did you get them on board?

EDITH COOPER: Well, I think this is where it’s really important to have representation at all levels of the firm because at that point I was on the management committee of the firm. As executive vice president, I’d built relationships throughout the organization. So I had a voice, and I leveraged my seat and my relationships and experience over a period of time to get people to really understand and own the responsibilities that we had as leaders to create an environment where everyone could perform with their potential, specifically people of color. I had a seat at the table because of the barriers that had been broken down by leaders before me and therefore it was my responsibility to use my seat to continue to move the focus on racial injustice and opportunities for people of color forward. And so we’d been working on focus on the Black experience for probably five to seven years before that, at a different level. So this wasn’t like we just started from ground zero. Everything that we did across the talent organization, we did it with a lens of creating opportunities for everyone to perform to their potential. And you just have to be intentional and never ever take your eye off of that Regardless of whether it’s a good economic year or a bad economic year, you have to hold yourself accountable at all times for moving the culture forward.

PORTER BRASWELL: So you left Goldman in 2017. At that point, how would you describe the culture you entered into and the culture that existed when you left?

EDITH COOPER: So 20 plus years. I think the core of the culture was accountability and clients first, and I think that that remained throughout. And the reason that I’m bringing that up is because, at the end of the day, you can have all the chit-chats you want, diversity dinners, mentoring, sponsor, but if you don’t really hold yourself accountable, it’s not going to make a difference. And so I think that the culture of understanding cause and effect, holding ourselves accountable for results was really important when I joined and increasingly became important and applied to talent functions in the same way. I think that that’s the biggest change from when I joined. And as I left at the end of 2016, I would say that I started to see a real shift, that we saw the negative repercussions of when you treated things like judgment and operating in gray as soft skills, being a strong manager and leader as soft skills, and the reputational business hits that we took as a result of sort of losing a sight of those things. We had a different level of accountability and understanding around how the Goldman Sachs culture that we were so proud of actually was not as inclusive as it needed to be, and we understood why. You know, I’m seeing really interesting new ideas that are being put forth. And I know for sure that the work that I did with my colleagues within human capital management and as a leader of the firm provided foundations to that.

PORTER BRASWELL: I appreciate that. Since leaving Goldman, you’re still very active in corporate life. You serve on the board of directors for Etsy and Slack amongst others. What’s been your experience as a Black woman in those spaces, and do you still find yourself being the only?

EDITH COOPER: Yes, I’m the only Black person on every public board. I am not the only Black person as an advisor to Grain, which is a private equity firm – by the way, founded by an extraordinary Black person, David Grain. I have, over the decades, come to realize that these “onlys” are really a competitive advantage for me, because I think about things differently, and that’s a product of every experience that I’ve had. You know, again it’s not the first time I’ve been in a situation where I walk into the room and I’m like, “All right. I got work to do.” But that’s my DNA. I get inspired by having work to do. I have gotten comfortable being uncomfortable. We all have to get really uncomfortable, at times, to stay relevant and to stay current and to stay ahead of the game. I’d also say, all of the boards that I’ve chosen to be involved in have shared value system and strong cultures. And that’s not an accident. I chose to join boards that had leadership and a culture that resonated with me.

PORTER BRASWELL: So I do want to touch on your startup, Medley, which you launched with your daughter, Jordan Taylor, this past summer. Can you talk more about the company and the problem you’re looking to solve?

EDITH COOPER: Sure. So Porter, much of what we’ve talked about in our conversation today is centered around how are people connecting with each other. If you’re a junior person, you’re joining an organization, how do you connect with other people that could be helpful to you in your pursuit of your professional goals? I always had an open-door policy for people who sought my counsel on anything and everything. But I found that over time, just to try to be accessible, I said, “I’d love to spend time with you, but if you’d bring three or four people with you, you get to decide. We could try to meet once a quarter.” And I did that because I felt like, yes I had things to offer, but actually what we really needed to do was to try to create these connections and conversations that were not tactical. And that’s what we’ve created with Medley. My daughter, Jordan Taylor, and I have created an organization whose sole principle is to create human connections with others – ideally with people that are outside of your day-to-day lane. So we curate groups of eight people with a professional, a certified coach, to meet on a monthly basis to talk about things across personal and professional priorities. You know, Medley is about connecting with other people in meaningful ways. I come at it, having spent a career as a person who’s always done better with others, and as a leader who realizes that everybody needs a coach, everybody needs a mentor. And mostly the people who get it in the corporate world are the most senior people. And the people who could benefit the most and as an investment, are those that are up and coming in their career.

PORTER BRASWELL: That’s incredible, and it’s a really important company that can make a lot of impact. So this is my final question, and this is a question that we ask all of our guests. Should race be discussed at work?



EDITH COOPER: Because it is the core underlying dynamic for our society that needs to be reckoned with. And if you don’t talk about it at work, you are basically asking people who understand how critically important it is to everything in our society to put it on the back shelf. So you’re basically saying, not inside our commercial entity, and you’re ignoring the fact that when you look at the society, decision-makers, people who are spending money, et cetera, are increasingly going to be people of color. And if you don’t reflect that you have an interest in understanding the experience, the conflict, the challenges, you will not be relevant as an organization. If you don’t create environments where people can bring their true selves to work, people will not want to work at your organization. And your answer to that might be, “Well, that’s okay. We’re doing just fine.” I’d like to almost see you write that down and the date, and we’ll come back at you in a couple of years. We’ll see how you ‘re doing.

PORTER BRASWELL: Well, I appreciate it as always from every conversation we’ve ever had, I continue to learn from you. Thank you for all that you do, all that you will continue to do.

EDITH COOPER: Well, I really have appreciated the conversation. So thank you for the work that you’re doing as well.

PORTER BRASWELL: That’s Edith Cooper, co-founder of Medley and previously Global Head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs. This episode was produced by Amy Chyan and edited by Anne Saini. I’m Porter Braswell. Thanks for listening to Race at Work – part of the HBR Presents network.

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Cross-border Gibraltar workers to retain free movement even after Brexit, Spain says

FILE PHOTO: Drivers cross the Gibraltar border from Spain side in front of the Rock of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, after Britain and the European Union agreed terms of a trade deal on Brexit on Thursday, in La Linea de la Concepcion, southern Spain, December 24, 2020. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

December 28, 2020

MADRID (Reuters) – Cross-border workers who commute between Gibraltar and Spain will be exempt from border controls after Brexit even if no separate deal on free movement is reached with Britain, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said on Monday.

People who live in the British territory of Gibraltar on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula and work in Spain or vice versa, and who had registered their status before Jan. 1, will continue to be allowed to cross the border freely, Gonzalez Laya told a news conference.

Other travellers will require a passport stamp.

(Reporting by Nathan Allen and Inti Landauro, editing by Andrei Khalip)

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Rangers gain revenge over St Mirren to retain 16-point Premiership lead

Alfredo Morelos scored Rangers’ second goal

Rangers retain their 16-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership after avoiding a repeat of their League Cup defeat to St Mirren with ease.

The home side looked capable of two wins over Steven Gerrard’s side within a fortnight early on.

But first-half strikes from Kemar Roofe and Alfredo Morelos were enough to send Rangers into Saturday’s Old Firm derby on the back of 13 straight league wins.

Jonathan Obika scooped over St Mirren’s best chance shortly before the opener.

Rangers have responded to that League Cup exit with four wins in a row in their best top-flight start since 1928 as they prepare to host second-top reigning champions Celtic.

Despite the end of their seven-game unbeaten home run, St Mirren remain seventh.

Considering that League Cup exit and the fact St Mirren had made their own best league start since 1988, this was always going to be a big test for Rangers’ title credentials.

It was no surprise that home manager Jim Goodwin returned to the more defensive starting line-up that secured their place in the semi-finals and Jamie McGrath, scorer of two of their goals that night, was first to threaten as the midfielder dispossessed a lazy Steven Davis and fired a low drive straight at goalkeeper Allan McGregor.

St Mirren were looking as full of confidence as Rangers were with trepidation as two of the three players returning to the home line-up combined to give the visitors another scare.

McGregor, making his 400th appearance during two spells with the Ibrox club, was unable to hold Dylan Connolly’s low shot through a sea of legs and Obika could only scoop his close-range shot on the turn over the crossbar.

St Mirren’s early work was undone when Ianis Hagi pounced on a mix-up between two opponents and played through for Roofe to fire past goalkeeper Jak Alnwick via a deflection off the hosts’ other League Cup scorer, Conor McCarthy.

The striker’s 10th goal in 14 games was quickly followed by Morelos’ first in nine games as the Colombia international pounced on Joe Shaughnessy’s messy passback to slot past former Rangers goalkeeper Alnwick.

St Mirren again started the better after the break, but it was Rangers who came closest to adding to the scoreline as Alnwick saved from Morelos and the visitors appeared able to coast the rest of the game as they preserved energy ahead of that even bigger test to come.

Man of the match – Jonathan Obika

St Mirren's Jonathan Obika (right) in action against Rangers
Jonathan Obika (right) missed St Mirren’s best chance but was a constant menace to Rangers for a second game in a row

What did we learn?

Lightning did not strike twice for St Mirren – it rarely does for provincial sides against either half of the Old Firm – but they can take heart from troubling the league leaders once again.

Goodwin got his tactics spot on and will hope this is a mere blip in a fine run since ending a run of six straight defeats in October around the time of their Covid outbreak.

Rangers, meanwhile, continue to grind out the results despite in recent weeks failing to replicate their early season fluency but will need to combine those elements of teamwork and tenacity to overcome a Celtic side recovering from their own sticky patch.

It was also a win achieved while dropping winger Ryan Kent to the bench and that, along with Morelos’ goal on being restored to the starting line-up, leaves Gerrard with some big decisions to make on Saturday.

What next?

Rangers head for what could be a title-deciding top-of-the-table clash at home to Celtic on Saturday (12:30 GMT) before St Mirren visit a Kilmarnock side two points below them in the table (15:00).

More to follow.


St Mirren

  • 1Alnwick
  • 22Fraser
  • 5McCarthy
  • 4ShaughnessyBooked at 71mins
  • 2Tait
  • 21ConnollySubstituted forMcAllisterat 82′minutes
  • 7Doyle-Hayes
  • 17McGrathSubstituted forDennisat 77′minutes
  • 25ErhahonSubstituted forMacPhersonat 85′minutes
  • 3MasonSubstituted forDurmusat 77′minutes
  • 9ObikaBooked at 53mins


  • 8Flynn
  • 10McAllister
  • 11Durmus
  • 14MacPherson
  • 16Foley
  • 19Morias
  • 20Dennis
  • 23Erwin
  • 26Lyness


  • 1McGregor
  • 2TavernierBooked at 29minsSubstituted forBalogunat 89′minutes
  • 6Goldson
  • 5Helander
  • 31Barisic
  • 17Aribo
  • 10Davis
  • 18Kamara
  • 7HagiSubstituted forZunguat 80′minutes
  • 20Morelos
  • 25RoofeSubstituted forKentat 74′minutes


  • 3Bassey
  • 9Defoe
  • 11Itten
  • 14Kent
  • 15Zungu
  • 16Patterson
  • 21Barker
  • 26Balogun
  • 33McLaughlin

Live Text

Player of the match

RoofeKemar Roofe

St Mirren

  1. Squad number17Player nameMcGrath

  2. Squad number7Player nameDoyle-Hayes

  3. Squad number5Player nameMcCarthy

  4. Squad number9Player nameObika

  5. Squad number21Player nameConnolly

  6. Squad number2Player nameTait

  7. Squad number3Player nameMason

  8. Squad number25Player nameErhahon

  9. Squad number22Player nameFraser

  10. Squad number1Player nameAlnwick

  11. Squad number4Player nameShaughnessy

  12. Squad number20Player nameDennis

  13. Squad number11Player nameDurmus

  14. Squad number14Player nameMacPherson

  15. Squad number10Player nameMcAllister


  1. Squad number25Player nameRoofe

  2. Squad number20Player nameMorelos

  3. Squad number7Player nameHagi

  4. Squad number18Player nameKamara

  5. Squad number17Player nameAribo

  6. Squad number10Player nameDavis

  7. Squad number31Player nameBarisic

  8. Squad number2Player nameTavernier

  9. Squad number1Player nameMcGregor

  10. Squad number6Player nameGoldson

  11. Squad number5Player nameHelander

  12. Squad number14Player nameKent

  13. Squad number15Player nameZungu

  14. Squad number26Player nameBalogun

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Trainers concerned about long-term staff prospects as industry struggles to retain staff

As trainers vent their frustration at the longer hours they are being forced to work, it has emerged that 2020 is proving the most difficult year yet to attract and keep staff in the industry.

Eagle Farm conditioner Chris Anderson has been training 10 years and said it is more difficult than ever to find staff, particularly this year with COVID, where international workers have dried up and Job Seeker has incentivised others not to work.

“We used to employ so many foreign workers. That’s dried up this year,” he said.

“Staff are the most important aspect in racing. They are the number one priority because without them we have nothing.

“If we can’t have good staff, doing the best thing for our horses then we’re in trouble.”

David Vandyke, who spoke about the stresses that come with the long hours in the Sunday Mail, says changes made by the government to work visas have made it extremely difficult to employ international staff, which for a long time have been integral to training businesses.

“The idea behind the visa rule change was to encourage more Australians to work in our industry. But they don’t want to work in our industry and the country people we used to get, there’s a large number of them who have hung up their riding boots and are working in the mines,” Vandyke said.

“Where are we meant to get the new wave of staff under the current conditions?”

Anderson, like Toby Edmonds, believes the way of the future is to be able to train at later hours in the morning, negating the necessity for 2am and 3am starts.

“I think the days of having a horse on the track at 4am should be looked at. Why can’t we work it at 5.30 and try to make it more of a normal day for an employee, rather than asking them to do split shifts?” Anderson said.

“At the moment, it’s not much of a life and we need to find a better way forward.”

Racing Queensland is open to this suggestion, but noted it comes down to individual tracks and clubs.

“While participant views on track opening times differ, we need to be open to change and make a career in racing more appealing, rewarding and safer,” RQ chief executive Brendan Parnell said.

“While horse training venues are managed by the race clubs, we are happy to work collaboratively with industry to effect change.”


Group 1-winning trainer David Vandyke found himself in hospital this month, ordered directly there by his GP after he had been complaining of chest pain.

He was later cleared of any heart issues, but a question his doctor asked stuck with the trainer.

“The doctor said to me ‘are you under stress and are you getting enough sleep?’ I thought it was a gee-up and there must have been a camera somewhere,” Vandyke said.

The fact is trainers and their staff operate on very little sleep and the stresses that come with the occupation are long and varied and Vandyke said the way the industry has evolved into seven days a week, plus nights is a significant contributor.

“I obviously have a great passion for what I do, but sleep deprivation is a weapon of war. I’m struggling with it,” he said.

“Personally I hate night racing, because it goes against everything that is sustainable within the industry with regards to participants.

“If I have a runner late at night, I can’t go to sleep earlier because I know I have a horse running. The adrenaline and mental component around having a runner means I won’t go to sleep until it runs.

“If we are going to have night racing, a lot of the added revenue created by night racing needs to go back into managing the health and wellbeing of those that are putting it on.”

Vandyke is one of many Queensland trainers frustrated by the push for later finishes and desire for more night racing.

Combined with the early morning starts, they say it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep staff and fear it will be unsustainable long term.

Trainers are questioning whether the benefits of the extra wagering revenue attributed to late finishes is worth the cost.

Kelly Schweida is scathing of the Racing Queensland direction and says the staff who have to work later to make it happen, should be compensated.

“They say it’s good for racing. I want to see the figures,” Schweida said.

“Even that extra money, which Racing Queensland describes as ‘gold’, give some of the poor buggers that are digging the gold up something.”

Schweida is begrudgingly accepting of night racing, because “you can plan for that” but takes offence at day races being programmed close to 6pm and only finding out 48 hours prior, meaning staff arrive home by 8pm or later depending on the meeting venue.

“These people have families too and the way it is now, they don’t have any life,” he said.

“Staff are getting very hard to keep and I don’t blame them.

“I’ve lost three in a month and I normally wouldn’t lose three in a year.

Schweida says the situation is the same across the state. He said in North Queensland the problem is even worse because of the vast distances travelled.

“It’s no good having a racing industry if you’ve got no one to work in it,” he said.

“It might be good for racing, but at what price? It is killing the goose that lays the eggs.”

The Sunshine Coast’s leading trainer Stuart Kendrick agreed with Schweida about compensating staff who work the hours, outlining how difficult it is to attract skilled workers.

“Getting staff that do want to work those hours and are capable of handling horses is not an easy thing to find,” he said.

“You are asking people to work with horses that can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, so you need to have people who know what they are doing.

“We know this is the industry we are in and you know you are going to work long hours, most people are happy to put the hours in and don’t want to complain but at the end of the day you still have to physically do it.”

Gold Coast-based Toby Edmonds said the only way forward for a long term solution is to have a specialist centralised training facility.

“It’s not healthy having to start at three in the morning. It’s bullshit actually,” he said.

“It’s a gee-up for us having runners at the Sunny Coast at 9.45 on a Friday night.

“We have to work horses at 3am the next morning and be at the races the next day. I know night racing is good for turnover and everything, but it’s not healthy for anyone I don’t feel.”

Eagle Farm trainer Chris Anderson believes the current schedule is “non-sustainable.”

“I understand it’s probably an evil necessity that is going to happen and I understand there’s a lot of discussion around night racing, but we can’t ask our staff to start at 3am, six mornings a week, work split shifts, then every second Sunday and for them to keep wanting to turn up,” he said.

“Trainers are doing the same thing, but I choose to do what I do because I love what I do. I feel for my staff, their health and their wellbeing.

“To get more participants in racing, we need to make it more appealing.”


Racing Queensland says it is performing a balancing act of maximising wagering returns to the industry with the welfare of its participants.

RQ chief executive Brendan Parnell said it’s a complex issue as the data clearly shows finishing a meeting later in the day brings a significant boost to industry returns.

“Analysis of data indicates moving a race meeting back by 40 minutes results in a wagering uplift of between 8-10 per cent for that race day,” he said.

“This, along with night racing and non-TAB to TAB conversions, is driving the strong revenue growth which boosts participant payments.

“Our goal is to grow the overall pie which benefits everyone.

“Since 2018, we have grown returns to participants across all codes from $174 million to $223 million and are well on our way to realising our strategic ambition of $250 million. That will be up more than 50 per cent in just three years.

“While the abnormal wagering market is not expected to fully continue in 2021, punters continue to support our twilight and night racing programs which allows RQ to reinvest through increased returns to participants.”

Parnell said RQ is “open to discussion” on how the control body can make Queensland a better place to live and work in racing.

He said the recent 9.45pm finishes were a rarity owing to additional races fitting into the Sky schedule.

“The health and wellbeing of our participants is an important issue and is a matter that all states are constantly grappling with,” he said.

“In Queensland, it is important we continue to provide participants with the confidence to work and invest within the industry, while providing avenues for new staff to enter our ranks.

“There’s not one single solution.

“It requires a multifaceted approach, including our Registered Training Organisation which offers training programs across a range of roles.”

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Telecom Italia to retain Nokia as supplier, curbing Huawei’s share of 5G radio network – sources

FILE PHOTO: A smartphone with the Huawei and 5G network logo is seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture taken January 29, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

December 23, 2020

By Elvira Pollina and Supantha Mukherjee

MILAN (Reuters) – Telecom Italia has decided to retain Nokia as a supplier and reduce Huawei’s share of a planned purchase of equipment for building a 5G network, three sources close to the matter told Reuters, amid pressure to exclude the Chinese firm on security concerns.

The United States has lobbied Italy and other European allies to avoid using Huawei’s equipment alleging it could pose a security risk – a charge Huawei has rejected. Italy has so far declined to ban Huawei outright.

Former national phone company Telecom Italia (TIM) at the beginning of this year was considering dividing a supply contract for the radio access network (RAN) part of its 5G build-out between Huawei and Sweden’s Ericsson, sources told Reuters.

The RAN infrastructure includes the base stations and antennas that connect smartphones to the mobile network, and accounts for the bulk of the cost of a new network.

Finland’s Nokia – which has previously been among TIM’s mobile radio access network equipment suppliers – was set to miss out on the 5G RAN order, according to the sources.

But the agreement has since been reviewed.

“Ericsson will provide the bulk of the equipment, while Huawei and Nokia will get a 20-25% each”, one of the sources said on Wednesday.

“The negotiations are still going on about issues including the percentage of reduction,” another source said.

Huawei, TIM, Nokia and Ericsson all declined to comment.

The initial agreement which would have seen Nokia dropped was never publicly disclosed.

Even in countries where there is no ban on Chinese companies, telecom operators are wary of selecting Huawei and government and industry sources said Rome has de facto adopted a pro-U.S. line when it scrutinises 5G deals and urges companies to diversify their 5G suppliers.

In July, TIM left Huawei out of an invitation to tender for a contract to supply 5G equipment for its core network, where sensitive data are processed.

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina, Supantha Mukharjee;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Anthony Joshua knocks out rival Kubrat Pulev to retain heavyweight titles | UK News

Anthony Joshua has retained his heavyweight titles after knocking out Kubrat Pulev in the ninth round of their match.

Bookies’ favourite Joshua had put his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight championship belts on the line against Pulev, an IBF mandatory challenger, as they fought in their world heavyweight title bout at Wembley Arena.

The British fighter lasted nine rounds with the Bulgarian before landing him a huge right hand to KO his rival.

Kubrat Pulevis is knocked to the floor in the ninth round

Joshua quickly left the ring afterwards to embrace former boxing star Floyd Mayweather at the ringside.

Ahead of the match, former boxing star Mayweather called Joshua a “hell of a fighter and a gentleman”.

The Watford-born star, 31, walked out to The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army as the 1,000 fans in the arena belted out his name.

In the first round, both men were cagey at first, with Joshua the first to throw a punch before Pulev responded with a jab.

Things heated up in the third round and Pulev found himself in trouble, eventually being floored by Joshua.

But the Bulgarian was soon hitting back fiercely and holding his ground.

However, it was not enough to overcome Joshua, who landed four uppercuts before sending Pulev toppling to the floor.

As the Bulgarian rose to his feet, his rival unleashed a knockout blow.

Speaking after his win, Joshua told reporters: “I hope everyone was satisfied tonight.

“For me, I stuck to what I know best, boxing. You ask the crowd what they want to see!”

The rivals fought in Wembley Arena, London
The rivals fought in Wembley Arena, London

It was Joshua’s first fight in the UK for two years and it sets the stage for him to face fellow British boxing champion Tyson Fury in a fight planned for 2021.

Britain’s heavyweight rivals hold all the world boxing titles after Fury claimed the WBC belt with a stoppage win over Deontay Wilde in Las Vegas.

The pair have agreed to a heavyweight showdown in what is likely to be billed as the biggest fight in British boxing history.

Coincidentally, Tyson’s Fury first cousin Hughie Fury, who is also a heavyweight, won his fight earlier in the night by unanimous decision.

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Boxing: Joshua knocks out Pulev to retain heavyweight titles

Boxing – Heavyweight World Title Fight – Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev – The SSE Arena, London, Britain – December 12, 2020 Anthony Joshua in action against Kubrat Pulev Pool via REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

December 13, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua knocked out Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev near the end of the ninth round to retain his IBF, WBO and WBA belts at Wembley Arena on Saturday.

The 31-year-old Briton was close to winning when he floored Pulev in the third round after a sweet right hand but the challenger recovered to test the home favourite in front of a limited crowd of 1,000.

Pulev, 39, remained dangerous, without causing Joshua many anxious moments, but there was no escape in the ninth.

Joshua landed a clubbing right upper-cut which sent Pulev to the canvas. The Bulgarian got back to his feet but Joshua connected with another huge right hand to end the contest.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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St Helens retain Super League title

St Helens scored a dramatic try after the final hooter to beat fierce rivals Wigan 8-4 in Super League’s grand final and retain the British topflight title on Friday.

The lowest-scoring final in Super League history had a scarcely believable ending, with Saints’ Tommy Makinson attempting a long-range drop goal as the clock ticked past 80 minutes.

The ball struck the upright, bounced down and the second bounce kicked left to allow Jack Welsby – narrowly onside as he followed up the kick – to beat Wigan’s Australian star Bevan French to the ball to ground.

Wigan players sank to their knees as St Helens celebrated a 15th league title, going back to back for the first time in 20 years.

Trailing 2-0 at halftime to ex-Penrith Panthers star Lachlan Coote’s goal at an empty KCOM Stadium in Hull, Wigan scored their first points when Jake Bibby went over in the right corner in the 65th minute.

The conversion struck the bar, and Wigan missed another chance to add two points when Zak Hardaker’s penalty kick from just inside St Helens’ half fell narrowly short and wide.

Saints immediately went down the other end and snatched victory in the most cruel of ways as far as Wigan was concerned.

Wigan, whose captain Sean O’Loughlin was playing the final game of his distinguished 19-year professional career, was looking for a third Super League title in five years, and a record-extending 23rd overall.

“It was unbelievable to be part of but it’s a shame how it ended,” O’Loughlin said. “It’s gutting but that’s sport.”

Instead it was the perfect send-off for retiring St Helens prop and former NRL Bulldogs star James Graham.

“You couldn’t have scripted this,” Graham said. “I’m genuinely moved.”

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Argentina retain line-up to meet Wallabies

Argentina coach Mario Ledesma retained the same starting line -up that upset the All Blacks for the Pumas’ Tri-Nations clash with the Wallabies in Newcastle on Saturday night.

Playing their first Test in more than a year, the Pumas posted their first victory over New Zealand with a 10-point victory last Saturday at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium.

Ledesma kept his starting XV, including five-eighth Nicolas Sanchez, who was responsible for all of their 25 points.

In changes to the reserves, Santiago Socino replaced Facundo Bosch as back-up hooker Julian Montoya, while Facundo Isa was named as back-row cover instead of Tomas Lezana.

Emiliano Boffelli replaced rookie back Lucio Cinti on the bench.

A victory for either side on Saturday will move them above the All Blacks to the top of the Tri-Nation standings, with Argentina last beating the Wallabies in 2018 on the Gold Coast.

Team: Santiago Carreras, Bautista Delguy, Matias Orlando, Santiago Chocobares, Juan Imhoff, Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli, Rodrigo Bruni, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera (capt), Matias Alemanno, Guido Petti, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Julian Montoya, Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo. Res: Santiago Socino, Mayco Vivas, Santiago Medrano, Santiago Grondona, Facundo Isa, Gonzalo Bertranou, Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Cordero.

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Trump could retain the White House

Like Freddy Krueger, the serial killer in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Donald Trump could still return to haunt us.

It all depends on the Electoral College, a system unique to the U.S.

The Electoral College was created by the framers of the U.S. Constitution as an alternative to electing the president by popular vote or by Congress. Several weeks after the general election, electors from each state meet in their state capitals and cast their official vote for president and vice president. Members will meet on 14 December to certify each state’s election results. These results will be transmitted to Congress on 23 December. Normally, the electors are selected on the basis of the popular vote, but ever since Trump took over the Republican Party, nothing is normal.

Avid Trump supporter Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is presently urging the Trump base in battleground states to push their Republican legislatures to ignore popular-vote results.  CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta reports that Trump and his aides are also talking about electors “going rogue”.

Mark Levin, a popular Right-wing talk radio host and self-styled constitutional scholar, has fired off an all-caps tweet reminding Republican state legislators that the U.S. Constitution gives them the ‘final say’ to appoint electors:

States with Republican legislatures that could override the popular vote include Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

But could the “rogue electors” actually get away with defying the will of the people?

An article in Forbes has the title:

‘Trump allies suggest Electoral College could overturn a Biden win. Here’s why that (probably) wouldn’t work.’

Probably wouldn’t work?

The argument goes like this, according to Erin Chlopak, director of campaign finance strategy at the Campaign Legal Centre:

‘Americans should rest assured that a state legislature’s post-Election Day substitution of its own preferences would violate federal law.’

Forbes argues that:

‘Aside from all of the legal hurdles, disregarding the election’s outcome would likely be politically disastrous for any state lawmakers who did so: In September, Republican legislators in Pennsylvania – a battleground state that could end up deciding the election – categorically rejected the idea of overruling the popular vote.’

Perhaps, but if it comes to a question of the violation of federal law, all those judges Trump has appointed over the years (including the Supreme Court) could uphold the decisions of the rogue electors.

Why is Trump fighting so hard to deny the reality of losing the Election anyway? His niece, psychologist Mary Trump, knows the answer. She analysed Donald Trump in her book, ‘Too much and never enough: How my family created the world’s most dangerous man’.

His niece, who has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, writes of Mr Trump:

‘This is far beyond garden-variety narcissism. Donald is not simply weak, his ego is a fragile thing that must be bolstered every moment because he knows deep down that he is nothing of what he claims to be.’

Mary Trump says that her uncle Donald has never before suffered a loss from which he couldn’t escape. His many business failures were covered by wealthy friends, including Russian oligarchs. This time, however, no amount of money will help.

The fact is that Donald Trump lost the Presidential Election.

Trump spent the week after the Election festering, golfing and indulging in his other favourite pastime — firing people.

Donald Trump is still good for troublemaking

One of those he fired was Mark Esper, Secretary of Defence. Trump has been angry with Esper for being disloyal in general and, in particular, for not following Trump’s wishes to call out the troops during Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

The firing of Esper has alarmed senior defence officials, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley.

General Milley felt it necessary to make an unprecedented public statement while standing beside the newly installed acting Defense Secretary, Christopher Miller, at the opening of the U.S. Army’s museum:

We are unique among militaries. We do not take an oath to a king or queen, a tyrant or dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual. No, we do not take an oath to a country, a tribe, or religion. We take an oath to the Constitution, and every soldier that is represented in this museum, every sailor, airman, marine, coast guard, each of us will protect and defend that document regardless of personal price.

In other words, we will support the Constitution over the President. At least there are still some adults in the room.

And still, the Republicans are continuing to act as Trump’s enablers, denying the legitimacy of the Election and blocking Biden’s transition. In part, this may be a tactic to keep the base fired up for the upcoming runoffs in Georgia which will decide whether the Democrats or Republicans control the Senate. Whether or not the Republicans can flip the Electoral College remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue continues.

Could the “mentally damaged” Trump mobilise his assault rifle-carrying base or, even worse, punch the nuclear button? In Mary Trump’s words, Trump is ‘the world’s most dangerous man’. That world is holding its breath until 20 January 2021, when Joe Biden becomes the President of the United States.

Dr Norm Sanders is a former commercial pilot, flight Instructor, university professor, Tasmanian State MP and Federal Senator.

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