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Morning Briefing Nov 9: Biden wins - but what happens now?

President Donald Trump might still be railing against the US election result from the golf course today, but yesterday was all about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the Democrat duo finally won the bitter race for the White House.

Their victory came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes. 

The result saw celebrations erupt in cities across the US. Streets filled with spontaneous parties, celebrities posted in their droves on social media, and political commentators broke down on air as they talked about what Biden’s victory meant for them. 

Speaking to ecstatic crowds in Delaware, Biden promised to heal the nation and become a leader who “seeks not to divide, but to unify".

It was a big moment for Harris, too, as she became the first woman to be elected vice president.

In her own stirring speech following the victory, Harris said she was standing on the shoulders of America’s pioneering women.

"While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last," she said.

Biden and Harris are expected to get straight to work after they’re sworn in on January 20, with Biden reportedly planning to quickly sign a series of executive orders reversing Trump policies. Biden’s also set to announce a 12-member task force to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

But he still has a few hoops to jump through before officially becoming president – you can find those key steps in the months-long timeline here

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What will Trump do now?

Of course, a rather big thorn in the side of that process is Donald Trump.

The president still refuses to concede the election and has threatened further legal action. His supporters have also protested at state capitals across the US, echoing Trump’s baseless accusations that the Democrats won the election by fraud.

Trump is not expected to ever formally concede, according to those close to him, although his son-in-law Jared Kushner has reportedly urged him to accept the outcome of the election.

His ongoing efforts to cast doubt on the results is seen as an effort to soothe a bruised ego and to put up an appearance of still fighting for his loyal support base. 

As for what happens next for Trump, there are already whispers he could run for president again in 2024.

Until then, he might be busy with the civil lawsuits and criminal investigations he’s been protected from while president. His family will also be looking for work given they’ve been heavily involved in his presidency. 

But, for now, Trump is hitting his beloved golf course.

It was during a round of golf in Virginia yesterday that the president learned he’d lost his bid for re-election. A BBC White House reporter travelling with the president yesterday wrote about the experience – and said “the swagger was gone” as Trump returned to the White House.  

Auckland and Wellington on alert

Two Defence Force staff are at the centre of New Zealand’s latest Covid-19 community outbreak, with several Auckland and Wellington establishments now listed as having been visited by the cases.

The first person to fall ill with the virus is a service person working at Auckland’s Jet Park quarantine facility, while the second person is a civilian NZDF employee who met with the first case in Auckland last week.

A list of the locations visited by both cases can be found here.

The second person also flew back to Wellington on Thursday night. People sitting near them on the flight have been asked to isolate and get tested, although at least one person on the plane says they’ve had conflicting advice about what to do.

Defence House in Wellington has also been closed for deep cleaning with around 1300 staff currently working from home. 

Meanwhile, across the Tasman, a Covid-19 vaccine begins manufacture in Victoria today.

The first doses are planned for release in the first half of next year – pending the outcome of clinical trials and regulatory approval.

Pressure on over benefits

Jacinda Ardern’s new Government is already under pressure to raise benefits in time for Christmas.

More than 50 organisations, including Whānau Āwhina Plunket, the Salvation Army and Save the Children, have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister this morning, urging her to act now to help lift children out of poverty.

The letter says the situation for many families “is urgent and growing” and calls on the Government to “lift one of the biggest limitations on whānau and child wellbeing, before Christmas: not having enough income”.

The Government is currently issuing tens of thousands of emergency food grants a month and foodbanks are under enormous pressure as a growing number of New Zealanders struggle to put food on the table.

Kiwis flock home

Up to half a million Kiwi expats could return home in the next few years as they look to escape the pandemic, according to a new Kea survey.

The “brain gain” is expected to impact New Zealand significantly, with many planning to invest in a business here, potentially creating thousands of jobs.

TVNZ’s Sunday has spoken to one of those expats, celebrity chef Peter Gordon, who’s decided to return home to Aotearoa after 31 years in London. 

Other news of note this morning:

- Air New Zealand says people caught out by the requirement to have a managed isolation voucher before flying to New Zealand can change their flights.

- The families of the Gulf Livestock 1 crew missing at sea are offering a reward for information that leads to their loved ones being found. 

- A toxic algal bloom in the Wellington region is posing a risk to swimmers of both the dog and human variety.

- Banks Peninsula residents are being urged to start saving water as the region suffers from a lack of rain.

- And with Christmas approaching, it would appear fruitcake is fast falling out of favour amongst Kiwis (which is outrageous, quite frankly). 

And finally...

While we all wait with bated breath to see what Donald Trump does next, other questions need answering in the US election fallout, including: Did Trump’s legal team really mean to hold a press conference at a landscaping business in Philadelphia?

Trump told followers his lawyers would speak to media at a “big press conference” at the “Four Seasons” yesterday.

But as the luxury hotel distanced itself from the event, his tweet was corrected to Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a small business located next to an adult bookstore and a crematorium.

Trump’s team hasn’t said if they mistakenly booked the press conference at the landscaping business instead of the hotel, but yesterday’s unfolding action would have had the writers of Veep howling they hadn’t dreamed up the scenario for their own fictional band of hapless politicians.