Archive for Matthew Loh

15 photos that show what goes on behind the scenes of Singles’ Day, China’s biggest shopping festival that beats Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined

China Singles' Day Packages
Workers distribute express parcels at a logistics centre of China Post during Alibaba Group's Singles' Day global shopping festival on November 11, 2016 in Ganyu, Jiangsu Province of China.
  • Singles' Day is China's spending event of the year, with sales reaching a record $115 billion in 2020.
  • As consumers shop, ecommerce employees and delivery companies work overtime to keep the spree going.
  • Distribution centers bear the brunt of the workload and have to move billions of packages in days.

Singles' Day proper started in China on Thursday, marking the beginning of the country's largest online spending fest.

While this year's event included a discount period on November 1, the true 24-hour sales frenzy traditionally launches on November 11, when consumers flood online shopping platforms like Alibaba's Taobao and its rival JD.com.

Despite a crackdown this year from Beijing on lavish spending and consumer waste, reports creeping in from local media indicate Singles' Day is still going strong, with 382 brands each hitting $15 million in sales since the start of this year's event.

Here are some photos that show how China moves billions of packages to hundreds of cities on its biggest spending day.

Singles' Day sends China's logistics and delivery companies into overdrive. China shipped nearly four billion packages during last year's festival.
Chinese parcel sorting

At the event's peak last year, Alibaba handled 583,000 orders per second, the company said in a press release.

Alibaba traditionally gathers employees at a data center in its Hangzhou headquarters to watch soaring sales volumes.
China Singles' Day Alibaba Headquarters

Chinese shoppers spent a record $115 billion on Singles' Day in 2020, according to CNBC, easily trouncing the $9 billion Americans spent online on Black Friday and $10.84 billion on Cyber Monday.

Alibaba would traditionally boast its sales numbers in real-time to the public, though it's not doing so this year.
China Singles' Day monitoring 2020

The ecommerce giant said it's focusing on sustainability, supporting charities, and promoting sales for poorer consumers this year, reported The Associated Press, falling in line with Xi Jinping's push against extravagant wealth and environmental waste.

Alibaba did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

On Singles' Day, delivery company employees often work through the night, like these office workers in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, in 2017.
Chinese company Singles' Day working overnight
Livestreaming has been embraced by Alibaba, which promotes presenters who peddle products on broadcasted discount frenzies.
China Livestreaming Singles' Day

One livestreamer, dubbed the "Lipstick King," sold $1.7 billion worth of products in 12-hour broadcast leading up to Singles' Day.

But the real chaos occurs at the distribution centers, where Singles' Day is the overtime event of the year for workers.
Chinese workers on Singles' Day

Some distribution centers hire temporary staff to help with sorting goods, often recruiting college students looking to earn some extra cash, state media CCTV reported.

According to CCTV, one center in the city of Hefei hired 60 temporary workers to help with Singles' Day, on top of the 100 full-time staffers it employed.

Not all packages are sorted through big distribution plants - sometimes deliverymen have to sift through the orders on the street.
Singles' Day makeshift logistics station
Delivery workers, who are paid around 16 cents per order, have been increasingly overwhelmed by the sheer number of parcels on Singles' Day, according to Chinese media.
China Singles' Day Package Organizing

One delivery worker in Beijing said he was tasked with delivering 400 orders per day during last year's event, which is nearly triple his normal workload, reported local news outlet Ran Caijing.

He said the target is physically impossible to complete, but that his delivery company has stepped up penalties for workers who can't finish their orders on time, per Ran Caijing.

Workers in several provinces went on strike to protest their low wages and work conditions, unhappy that the boost in spending has forced them to work harder without any profit, The New York Times reported.

Express delivery, known as "Kuai Di" in China, and one-day waiting times have become an almost everyday expectation for Chinese consumers.
China Singles' Day
Delivery trucks hauling hundreds of packages through the winter snow are a common sight in Chinese cities after Singles' Day.
China Trucks Singles' Day 2019
In 2016, delivery companies began using bullet trains to send goods to more than 500 cities when Singles' Day quotas started ballooning year after year.
China Singles' Day Bullet Trains

Courier companies haven't said how much they spend on partnering with railway companies, but China's Express Association estimated they would move around one billion parcels on bullet trains for Singles' Day, per state media, and that was in 2016.

In 2020, railway companies said they organized 1,000 trains to deliver Singles' Day goods along 600 routes, according to China Daily.

Many deliverymen regularly use electric rickshaws to ferry items between neighborhoods. When Singles' Day arrives, they fill their rides to the brim.
China Electric Rickshaws for Singles' Day

 

 

The rickshaw cab and the carton behind provide delivery guys with more space to stuff their vehicles with goods.
China Singles' Day Rickshaw 2021
And it wouldn't be Singles' Day in China without deliverymen whizzing through the streets on electric bikes, which are a main staple of the delivery industry there.
China Singles' Day Deliveryman
Some consumers, mainly college students, choose to receive their parcels at designated pick-up points, forming massive queues on Singles' Day.
Students lining up for Singles' Day collection

 

 

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Lauren Boebert said she delivered one of her children in her truck, bringing it up as a supporting point against extended parental leave

Rep. Lauren Boebert speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill
In this June 23, 2021 file photo Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks at a news conference at the Capitol in Washington
  • Rep. Lauren Boebert criticized Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for taking several months of parental leave.
  • To back up her point, she said she gave birth to one of her children in the front seat of her truck.
  • Boebert accused Buttigieg of abandoning the nation during an ongoing supply chain crisis.

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert said she delivered one of her four children in the front seat of her truck, comparing her parenthood to that of Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg's as she criticized him for taking paternity leave during the supply chain crisis.

"I delivered one of my children in the front seat of my truck. Because as a mom of four, we got things to do," said Boebert in a video bulletin posted Monday by her YouTube account.

"Ain't nobody got time for two and a half months of maternity leave. We have a world to save here," she added.

Boebert blasted Buttigieg, who is gay and announced in August that he would take two months of paternity leave after adopting newborn twins. She said Americans would "know who to blame" if the supply chain crisis affects Christmas celebrations.

"The guy in charge of it all, Mayor Pete, was on a two-month maternity, paternity, whatever the heck you want to call it, leave. Okay, the guy was gone. The guy was not working," said Boebert.

"Because why? He was trying to figure out how to chest feed," she added, referring to a joke FOX News host Tucker Carlson made last month mocking Buttigieg.

Buttigieg has responded to criticism of his parental leave by saying the time with his family is "work," per The New York Times.

"The big thing is having a newly personal appreciation for the fact that this is work," Buttigieg said. "It may be time away from a professional role, but it's very much time on."

The White House has voiced its support for Buttigieg, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeting that the transportation head is one of the "role models on the importance of paid leave for new parents."

Studies have found that parental leave programs benefit the economy, improve children's health and reduce infant mortality rates, and prepare fathers for parenting.

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Elon Musk is now 3 times richer than Warren Buffet, and worth more than the entire GDP of his home country of South Africa

Elon Musk
Elon Musk on August 13, 2021 at a press event on the grounds of the Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin.
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk is now worth $335 billion after Tesla's stock rose another 8.5% on Monday.
  • That makes him three times richer than Warren Buffet and worth more than the GDP of South Africa, his home country.
  • Tesla's stock has risen 65.6% since the start of the year.

Elon Musk is now worth three times more than investing wizard Warren Buffet, just days after the Tesla CEO became the world's first person to hit $300 billion in wealth.

The tech mogul's fortune is now $335 billion, after it jumped by another $24 billion on Monday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. In comparison, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Buffet is worth $104 billion.

Musk, 50, is also worth more than the entire gross domestic product of his home country, South Africa, which hauled in $301.9 billion last year, per data from the World Bank.

His recent boost in wealth was driven by an 8.5% rise in Tesla's shares, Bloomberg first reported, as his net worth soared by a total $165 billion in 2021. The multibillionaire owned about 22.4% of the company at the start of the year.

Last week, a 13% leap in Tesla's stock netted Musk an additional $36 billion - the largest single-day surge Bloomberg has ever recorded - after news emerged that Hertz ordered 100,000 Teslas.

Musk now sits at a comfortable $142 billion above the world's second richest man, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who according to Bloomberg's index is worth $193 billion.

Tesla's stock has skyrocketed 65.6% since the start of the year, despite dips in March and May.

On Sunday, Musk tweeted he would sell his shares in the electric automaker and spend $6 billion to alleviate world hunger, as long as the World Food Programme could prove that the money would solve the global hunger crisis.

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Florida federal judge says Trump’s former status as a US President doesn’t exempt him from Twitter’s terms of service

Trump and Twitter
Former President Donald Trump is suing Twitter for suspending his account.
  • Twitter's terms of service still apply to former President Donald Trump, says a Florida federal judge.
  • Trump is suing Twitter and its CEO for suspending his account after the January 6 Capitol attack.
  • A clause in Twitter's agreement requires the lawsuit be moved to California, but Trump's lawyers argued that he's exempt because of his presidency.

On Tuesday, a Florida federal judge ruled that former President Donald Trump's status as a US president doesn't exclude him from Twitter's terms of service, according to court documents seen by Insider.

In July, Trump filed a lawsuit in Florida against Twitter and its CEO for suspending his account permanently on January 7, a day after the Capitol siege. The suspension was made on the grounds of Trump inciting violence through the platform, said Twitter at the time.

The former president cited censorship concerns in his lawsuit, saying that social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google were "silencing" conservative voices and were being coerced by Democratic lawmakers.

On Tuesday, Florida District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr granted Twitter's motion to transfer the case to the Northern District of California, as required by a clause in the social media company's user agreement signed by all Twitter users.

Trump's lawyers argued that he was exempt from the clause because he was sitting president at the time of his account's suspension, and that it was in the public's interest to keep the case in Florida.

They failed to convince Judge Scola. "The Court finds that Trump's status as President of the United States does not exclude him from the requirements of the forum selection clause in Twitter's Terms of Service," he said.

Trump resides in Palm Beach, Florida, with his wife Melania and son Barron, at the Mar-a-Lago resort.

Apart from suing Twitter, he has also launched legal action against Facebook, Google, and their CEOs for banning him on their social media platforms.

Earlier this month, Trump filed a request for preliminary injunction to have his Twitter account reinstated, pointing out that the Taliban is allowed to tweet their military victories in Afghanistan while he is censored.

He announced last week that he would launch his own social media network, Truth Social, to "stand up to the tyranny of big tech." A report later said that Truth Social had violated a license agreement and ripped off code, and that the platform had 30 days to resolve the violation before it would be sued.

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Trump lauds ‘great friend’ Jair Bolsonaro, as the Brazilian president has 9 criminal charges recommended against him

Trump Bolsonaro
Former US President Donald Trump declared his support for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday, describing themselves as "great friends."
  • Trump declared his support for Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, who just had criminal charges recommended against him for his pandemic response.
  • A 1,180 page report said Bolsonaro plunged Brazil into danger and caused needless COVID-19 deaths.
  • Bolsonaro, dubbed the "Trump of the Tropics," has regularly exchanged praise with Trump.

Former US President Donald Trump announced his endorsement on Tuesday evening of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who just hours before had criminal charges recommended against him by a Brazilian Senate committee for his pandemic response.

"President Jair Bolsonaro and I have become great friends over the past few years. He fights hard for, and loves, the people of Brazil - just like I do for the people of the United States," wrote Trump in a statement.

"Brazil is lucky to have a man such as Jair Bolsonaro working for them. He is a great President and will never let the people of his great country down!"

On the same day, seven senators of an 11-member Brazilian senate commission voted to recommend nine charges against Bolsonaro, including crimes against humanity and charlatanism.

They approved a 1,180-page report, the compiled findings of a six-month inquiry into Bolsonaro and his administration's pandemic handling.

It said Bolsonaro had repeatedly promoted dangerous, false claims about COVID-19 and had tried to stop Congress from introducing public health mandates around masks.

According to the report, Bolsonaro had "deliberately exposed" Brazilians to the coronavirus in a bid to get the country to reach herd immunity.

It added that the Brazilian leader ignored several offers of vaccines from the Butantan Institute, a government-owned biology research center, and failed to act when he was presented with evidence of corruption in a vaccine procurement contract.

More than 605,000 people have died in Brazil from COVID-19 - more than in any country except the US.

"Many of these deaths were preventable," Renan Calheiros, a Brazilian senator and the lead author of the report, told The New York Times. "I am personally convinced that he is responsible for escalating the slaughter."

The charges recommended against Bolsonaro may never materialize. The committee doesn't have the power to start a criminal or impeachment proceeding - that's in the hands of Brazil's attorney general, a Bolsonaro ally. But the Senate panel may seek to bring the matter to Brazil's Supreme Court or the International Criminal Court, per NPR.

Bolsonaro, who is seeking reelection, responded to the report last week by saying it was a "joke," reported Reuters.

He and Trump have regularly exchanged praise for one another. The Brazilian leader has been called the "Trump of the Tropics," and has supported Trump's unproven voter fraud claims.

In turn, Trump called Bolsonaro a "major non-NATO ally" and said he was "honored" to have his 2016 US election victory compared to Bolsonaro's in 2019.

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Paul Gosar assured Jan. 6 protest organizers they would get a ‘blanket pardon’ while they were planning rallies: report

Rep. Paul Gosar speaks at a news conference.
Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) speaks at a news conference on January 7, 2016.
  • Rep. Paul Gosar offered protest organizers a "blanket pardon" to motivate them to plan rallies on Jan. 6, reported Rolling Stone.
  • Gosar told the organizers he had spoken with former President Donald Trump about the pardons, which were never realized.
  • The GOP congressman has defended US Capitol rioters before, saying they were "peaceful protestors."

GOP congressman Paul Gosar encouraged pro-Trump rally organizers to plan protests in Washington DC on January 6 by telling them they would get a "blanket pardon" for another, unrelated investigation, according to two of the protest's planners.

Gosar had repeatedly assured them of the pardons, to the point where they believed it was a "done deal," they told Rolling Stone in an exclusive released Sunday. Both organizers have been speaking with the congressional committee investigating the US Capitol riots, per Rolling Stone, and were kept anonymous. It is unclear what the original unrelated investigation mentioned by the pair was.

In the interview, one organizer said they were given the impression that Gosar spoke to former President Donald Trump about the pardons and that they had been mentioned by name.

"They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support," the organizer told Rolling Stone.

The two anonymous sources said Gosar told them: "I was just going over the list of pardons and we just wanted to tell you guys how much we appreciate all the hard work you've been doing," according to the outlet.

To their dismay, the offer was never fulfilled, but they added that the pardons alone were not the sole impetus for their plans on January 6.

"I would have done it either way with or without the pardon," the organizer told Rolling Stone.

"I do truly believe in this country, but to use something like that and put that out on the table when someone is so desperate, it's really not good business," the organizer continued.

They told Rolling Stone that they were unsettled by how the pro-Trump rallies on January 6 eventually turned into the violent attack on the US Capitol, prompting them to cooperate with investigations.

Meanwhile, Gosar, the representative for Arizona, has said that he "never instigated violence," and that the idea that he involved in the Capitol riots was "devoid of reality."

But he has also been outspoken in his defense of US Capitol rioters, calling them "peaceful protestors" who were being harassed by the Justice Department. One of Trump's most ardent supporters, Gosar also said that Ashli Babbitt, a protestor who was shot by Capitol Police on January 6 and later died from her wounds, was "executed."

Gosar's office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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Chinese developer Modern Land asked for an extension to repay a $250 million bond. Its chairman and president have pledged to pay off around $123 million in shareholder loans in the meantime.

Beijing Skyline
The sunset glow is seen over buildings on June 11, 2021 in Beijing, China, where Modern Land is based.
  • Chinese developer Modern Land is asking for more time to repay a $250 million bond due later this month.
  • Its chairman and president said they would personally contribute $123.9 million to the repayment.
  • It's the latest in what's becoming a series of debt woes spread across China's real estate sector.

Chinese real estate developer Modern Land has asked for three more months to repay a $250 million bond that's due on October 25, according to a Monday exchange filing. The proposal signals further credit woes for China's property market as Evergrande's $300 billion debt crisis unfolds.

Beijing-based Modern Land, which says it owns 200 apartment and office properties across 50 cities in China, asked bondholders to extend its deadline to January 25, 2022, so it could use the time to improve its liquidity and cash flow management to "avoid any potential payment default under the [bond]."

On the same day, Modern Land President Zhang Peng announced that he and company Chairman Zhang Lei plan to contribute $123.97 million toward paying off shareholder loans within the next two or three months.

"Mr. Zhang Lei expressed that he would consider giving continuous support in due course depending on the Group's financial situation," wrote Zhang Peng. "It demonstrates his continuous commitment to the Group and his unwavering confidence in the Group's businesses and development."

Zhang Lei, the company's founder, owns a 65.3% controlling interest stake in Modern Land, which has around 2,240 employees, according to its 2021 interim report. The company is positioning itself as an environmentally-friendly developer, in line with Xi's carbon neutrality commitment, per its reports and company profile.

Stock in the company is down 45% year over year, according to CNN.

Modern Land is the latest in what's becoming a series of debt difficulties spread across China's property market. Last week, another Chinese developer, Fantasia Holdings, defaulted on $206 million in loan payments due last Monday, though its chairman said several weeks before that it had "no liquidity issues."

Meanwhile, property giant Evergrande Group, China's second-largest developer, is verging on collapse under the weight of its $300 billion credit crunch. Its multiple defaults in the past months have sent shockwaves across the Chinese real estate sector, upsetting unpaid suppliers, employees, and retail investors.

Modern Land did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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Evergrande punishes 6 execs who cashed out early on the company’s investment products while it faces a $300 billion debt

A view of Evergrande Center building with a Chinese flag in the foreground.
A general view shows the Evergrande Center building in Shanghai on September 22, 2021.
  • Six Evergrande executives have returned the money they got from cashing out early on the company's investment products, reported Reuters.
  • Evergrande said it punished the six, who redeemed wealth management products while the company told retail investors it couldn't repay them.
  • Hundreds of retail investors and suppliers were already furious that Evergrande is failing to make its payments.

Six unnamed Evergrande executives who cashed out early on the property giant's investment products have now returned their money, said the Chinese company on Saturday, reported Reuters.

The six were punished and held accountable for their actions, said Evergrande in a statement, but no further details were announced, per Reuters. Last month, the company said that "severe penalties" would be imposed.

The executives made early redemptions of 12 Evergrande wealth management products from May 1 to September 7, according to South China Morning Post - even while the company faced more than $300 billion in debt and said it needed more time to repay the thousands of retail investors who also bought such products.

Evergrande didn't name the products or say what kind they were, but its wealth management arm has come under fire for enticing investors with high interest rates while locking them into opaque terms.

Many people who bought these investments were not aware of how their money was being used or how their returns would be secured, in an era where the real estate developer was guzzling down loans to fuel its aggressive expansion across China. Its borrowing spree ground to a halt earlier this year when authorities ordered Evergrande to pay off its debts.

With Evergrande now mired in a massive liquidity crunch, it's struggling to repay more than 80,000 people holding around $6 billion worth of its wealth management products, including many of its employees.

Investors are up in arms. Hundreds of angry staff and retail investors confronted Evergrande alongside unpaid suppliers at its headquarters. One woman even pulled out a knife and threatened suicide in a meeting.

Evergrande, racing to offload its liabilities, is also now trying to repay these investors with apartments, parking spaces, or offices instead of cash.

Experts told Insider's Cheryl Teh that given the fallout from Evergrande's decline, it may be harder for Chinese companies to continue selling high-risk, high-return wealth management products the same way the real estate previously had.

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Trump baselessly claims Haitian immigrants entering the US ‘probably have AIDS’ and letting them come in ‘is like a death wish’

Trump
Former President Donald Trump.
  • Donald Trump blasted Haitian immigrants entering the US, saying they "probably have AIDS."
  • He said allowing them into the US is "like a death wish," doubling down on disparaging comments he made about Haiti before.
  • The prevalence rate of HIV among Haitian adults is 1.9%, and reports say the situation is improving steadily.

Former President Donald Trump lashed out against Haitian immigrants looking to enter the US, saying that hundreds of thousands of them were "flowing in" and "probably have AIDS," echoing disparaging remarks he made toward Haiti during his tenure as president.

Speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday evening, Trump said that allowing Haitians into the US is "like a death wish for our country."

He was likely referring to the thousands of Haitian refugees and migrants seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas. Many of them fled Haiti after two deadly earthquakes rocked their country and after Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July.

During his appearance on Fox News, Trump repeatedly claimed that Haitians trying to enter the US are infected with AIDS.

"Haiti has a tremendous AIDS problem. AIDS is a step beyond, AIDS is a real bad problem," he told Hannity. "So hundreds of thousands of people are coming into our country. And if you look at the stats, and if you look at the numbers, take a look what's happening in Haiti. A tremendous problem with AIDS."

Contrary to his assertions, the prevalence of HIV among Haitian adults aged 15 to 49 is around 1.9%, according to data from the United Nations. While that's higher than the global rate of 0.7%, reports say Haiti's HIV prevalence rate has declined significantly in recent decades.

In the 1980s, Haitians were stigmatized as a high risk group for AIDS who brought the disease into the US, a false notion that wiped out Haiti's tourism industry and perpetuated racism.

Trump has made such claims before. In 2017, he reportedly said at a White House meeting that 15,000 Haitian immigrants who were given US visas "all have AIDS," according to The New York Times. The White House denied that he used those words.

Later in 2018, Trump described Haiti as a "shithole" country when discussing the protection of immigrants, reported The Washington Post. This time, the White House didn't deny that he made the remarks, and Trump later tweeted that he used "tough" language at the meeting.

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Trump said the ‘real insurrection’ happened during the 2020 presidential election, not on Jan. 6

Capitol Siege
Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the West wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington
  • Former President Donald Trump said the Capitol siege was a day of protest for what he claims was a fake election last year.
  • In a statement, he said the "real insurrection" happened on November 3, when he lost the 2020 presidential election.
  • He swung out at the lawmakers investigating the attack, calling them an "Unselect Committee."
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday downplayed the US Capitol siege that's being probed by Congress, pointing instead to what he claims was a "fake election" as the real threat.

The storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 by pro-Trump supporters is currently under investigation by a bipartisan select House committee, which includes seven Democrats and two GOP lawmakers.

Trump took aim at the committee in a statement, calling it "the Unselect Committee of partisan Democrats and two very weak and pathetic RINOs," the latter term standing for "Republicans In Name Only."

He added that nine lawmakers "should come to the conclusion after spending many millions of dollars, that the real insurrection happened on November 3, the Presidential Election, not on January 6."

The attack on the Capitol, he also said, was a "day of protesting the Fake Election results."

Trump has repeatedly pushed unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, despite top government and industry officials saying that the election was "the most secure in American history."

Last month, a Republican-commissioned audit on the Arizona vote by Cyber Ninjas found no significant discrepancies in the ballot results. Cyber Ninjas instead found 261 fewer votes for Trump and 99 more votes for incumbent President Joe Biden in Maricopa County, Arizona's most populous county.

The former president's insistence that the election was rigged has been dubbed his "big lie." It's a concept that's been adopted by many of his supporters and by other politicians, such as Larry Elder, a GOP candidate for the California gubernatorial recall election who positioned himself to claim election fraud before results of his election were even in.

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