My Guardian colleague Daniel Strauss just reported this breaking news.
Marjorie Taylor Greene became the first supporter of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory to win a US House seat.
The incoming congresswoman has faced national scrutiny for racist and bigoted statements and her support of QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory rooted in antisemitic tropes whose followers believe Donald Trump is secretly fighting against a cabal of Democrats, billionaires and celebrities engaged in child trafficking.
The FBI has identified the movement as a potential domestic terrorism threat, and it has repeatedly inspired vigilante violence.
This is the same Marjorie Taylor Greene who was addressing the US Congress and the world during the impeachment process in the House last week all while wearing a mask saying “censored”.
And there was this gem earlier today:
Any demonstrations so far today add up to dribs and drabs, a situation most in America surely hope will prevail for the rest of the day, the week and beyond.
In Columbia, South Carolina, a group of about half a dozen people stood on the opposite side of the Statehouse lawn from pro-Trump loyalists, with one holding a sign that read: “What are you so PROUD of, BOYS?”
It was a reference to the far-right Proud Boys. The groups did not appear to be interacting, The Associated Press reports.
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Stephen Rzonca, who lives a few minutes from the state Capitol, said he came to greet any possible demonstrators, although there were none as of midday.
“I’m fundamentally against the potential protesters coming here to de-legitimize the election, and I don’t want to be passive in expressing my disapproval of them coming into this city,” Rzonca said.
And before demonstrators arrived in Lansing, the Michigan state capital, a truck showed up with a sign supporting Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer, who was the target of a foiled kidnapping plot last year.
At the US Capitol, in Washington, DC, as federal officers, District of Columbia police and National Guard troops patrolled the area, a lone protester walked the sidewalk wearing a sign that said “Renounce Trump!”
“Look at this world that has been created by Trump,” said the woman, a retiree who lives in the area. She said she was afraid to reveal her name, gesturing at the barricades and largely empty streets.
Griffith & Feil Drug has been in business since 1892, a family-owned, small-town pharmacy. This isn’t their first pandemic, The Associated Press reports.
More than a century after helping West Virginians confront the Spanish flu in 1918, the drugstore in Kenova, a community of about 3,000 people, is helping the state lead the nation in Covid-19 vaccine distribution.
West Virginia has emerged as an unlikely success in the nation’s otherwise chaotic vaccine administration program, largely because of the state’s decision to reject a federal partnership with the CVS and Walgreens pharmacy chains and instead enlist ‘mom-and-pop’ pharmacies to vaccinate residents.
More shots have gone into people’s arms per capita across West Virginia than in any other state, with at least 7.5% of the population receiving the first of two shots, according to federal data.
West Virginia was the first in the nation to finish offering first doses to all long-term care centers before the end of December, and the state expects to give second doses at those facilities by the end of January.
“Boy, have we noticed that. I think the West Virginia model is really one that we would love for a lot more states to adopt,” said John Beckner, a pharmacist who works at the Alexandria, Virginia-based National Community Pharmacists Association, which advocates for pharmacies across the country.
It’s early in the process, but that has not stopped Republican governor Jim Justice from proclaiming that the vaccine effort runs counter to preconceived notions about ‘the Mountaineer State’.
“Little old West Virginia, that was thought of for hundreds of years, you know, as a place where maybe we were backward or dark or dingy,” Justice said last week.
Instead, it turns out that “West Virginia has been the diamond in the rough,” Justice said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Some 250 local pharmacists set up clinics in rural communities. The fact that residents who may be wary of the vaccine seem to trust them makes a difference.
“As my uncle always told me, these people aren’t your customers, they’re your friends and neighbors,” said Ric Griffith, the pharmacist at Griffith & Feil in Kenova, and also mayor of the town near the Kentucky state line.
You can read the rest of The AP’s story here.
“I know masks have become a partisan issue — but it’s a patriotic act. Experts say wearing a mask from now until April will save more than 50,000 lives,” the Democratic leader just tweeted.
This hour, the Johns Hopkins coronavirus research center in Baltimore, the global statistics that the Guardian follows most closely, reports that the US has reached 396,549 recorded deaths from Covid-19, and 23.8m cases, by far the highest figures in the world.
The next highest death toll is Brazil, with just over 209,000 deaths. The UK is the fifth highest (after third-placed India and fourth-placed Mexico), with almost 90,000 deaths. The pandemic has never been under control in the US as a nation at any time in the last 12 months.
Earlier this weekend, Biden reiterated that things were getting worse and that would continue before things become fundamentally better as vaccinations rein in the outbreak.
The nation is on tense, high alert for any unrest that could on any scale echo the violence of January 6 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, as both chambers of Congress were in session to certify Joe Biden’s presidential election victory over Donald Trump in (it bears repeating as often as possible) what local, state and federal officials called “the most secure” election in American history.
In Lansing, Michigan, state police troopers walked around the state Capitol grounds as a small group of demonstrators stood near a chain-link fence surrounding the 142-year-old building, The Associated Press reports this afternoon.
Several National Guard vehicles were on a nearby street. One armed man falsely gave his name as Duncan Lemp, a Maryland man who was killed in a no-knock police raid and became a martyr for a loose network of gun-toting, anti-government extremists.
A supporter of Trump wore a red “Make American Great Again” hat while standing on the lawn with a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. The back of his shirt read: “PATRIOT NOT RACIST NOT TERRORIST.”
Texas also on alert, an Austin observer notes.
In Columbus, Ohio, about two dozen people, several carrying long guns, gathered outside the Capitol as dozens of state troopers and National Guard members guarded multiple points around the Statehouse, including every entrance. Nearly every business around the downtown capital square was boarded up.
Several dozen people were gathering at the South Carolina Statehouse, some carrying American flags.
It was not immediately clear if some in the group in downtown Columbia, SC, were also counter-protesters supportive of the incoming Biden-Harris administration.
The Capitol itself has been surrounded with metal barricades for several days, and state lawmakers have announced they will not hold their scheduled in-person session this week because of the possible unrest.
Here’s a quick summary of main events so far today:
- Incoming Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, a day before the US annual holiday celebrating the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, returned to the pulpit at the church where he and MLK served as pastor. Warnock’s victory in the Georgia run-off election earlier this month helped hand control of the US Senate to the Democrats in the Biden-Harris administration.
- More than a third of governors have called out National Guard troops to help protect their state capitols and aid local law enforcement officers. Several governors have issued states of emergency, and others closed their capitols (state legislatures) to the public until after Biden’s inauguration day on Jan 20, 2021, in a bid to ward off right-wing extremist Donald Trump-loyalists.
- Top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci asserted that Joe Biden’s promise to carry out 100m coronavirus vaccinations in his first 100 days in power is “absolutely a doable thing”.
- Downtown Washington, DC, is in a militarized almost-total lockdown this weekend, through the inauguration. The Guardian’s Julian Borger and Lois Beckett are on assignment in the nation’s capital and report that the White House, the US Capitol, the National Mall and several blocks on either side, are sealed off by thousands of national guard troops.
- Joe Biden will sign a series of executive orders in his first days in office, taking on the damage done at home and abroad by Trump, including on the economy, the coronavirus, immigration and the climate crisis.
A day before the nation’s annual holiday celebrating life of the Rev Martin Luther King Jr, Senator-elect Raphael Warnock returned to the pulpit at the church that was King’s spiritual home, calling for the nation to adhere to “God’s vision of equity”.
Warnock’s wide-ranging holiday message included a tribute to King and a remembrance of his last days organising an anti-poverty crusade before he was shot dead in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968.
“The tragedy is that the minimum wage had more purchasing power in 1968 than the minimum wage does in 2021,” he said at one point.
Warnock decried the pain and death of the Covid-19 pandemic. And he called the 6 January attack on the Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump “an unthinkable attack on the very house of the people by those who are driven by the worst impulses, stirred up by demagogues.”
Election victories over incumbent Republicans by Jon Ossoff and Warnock ensured a 50-50 Senate split, positioning Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote for Democratic control. But Ossoff and Warnock cannot join the chamber until Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger certifies the final vote tally. Raffensperger, a Republican, has said he could act as soon as Tuesday.
Warnock didn’t mention the outgoing president by name in his sermon but included clear criticisms of Trump as he named “crooked places” he said God seeks to make straight.
“You don’t like the facts? Just create some ‘alternative facts,”’ Warnock said, referencing a term once used by former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway. “Just exchange science for fiction, or your own imagination.”
Rightwing groups plotted to kidnap Michigan’s governor last year amid lockdown protests.
More than a third of governors had called out the National Guard to help protect their state capitols and aid local law enforcement officers. Several governors issued states of emergency, and others closed their capitols to the public until after Biden’s inauguration day.
Some state legislatures also canceled sessions or pared back their work for the coming week, citing security precautions. Texas, where police in riot gear guarded the Capitol on Sunday, was among the states closing their capitol grounds through the inauguration.
“The Texas Department of Public Safety is aware of armed protests planned at the Texas State Capitol this week and violent extremists who may seek to exploit constitutionally protected events to conduct criminal acts,” said Steve McCraw, the agency’s director.
More than 100 troopers in riot gear were stationed outside the Capitol in Austin earlier this week as lawmakers began a new legislative session. In Richmond, Virginia police braced for possible demonstrations early Sunday, with security fencing erected around the Statehouse.
In Columbus, Ohio, nearly every business around the downtown capitol square was boarded up. In Lansing, Michigan, police with dogs patrolled on foot, and a helicopter hovered overhead. In Atlanta, armored vehicles were stationed on Capitol grounds.
Wisconsin national guard troops armed with rifles, shields and body armor arrived near the state Capitol on Sunday morning. A man who drove a vehicle up the steps of the Capitol building was arrested overnight for driving while intoxicated.
The president-elect has announced ambitious initiatives to combat Covid-19 and its economic toll, seeking to overcome the struggles and failures of the Trump administration, which has presided over a slow start to the biggest vaccination drive in US history.
The challenge is steep: Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of staff, told CNN on Sunday, Biden’s team projected another 100,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the first five weeks of the administration.
According to Johns Hopkins University, by Sunday morning 23,760,523 cases and 395,855 deaths had been recorded in the US.
“It’s going to take a while to turn this around,” Klain said.
Fauci, the top US infectious disease doctor, told NBC’s Meet the Press: “I can tell you one thing that’s clear is that the issue of getting 100m [vaccination] doses in the first 100 days, is absolutely a doable thing. What the president-elect is going to do is where we need be, to invoke the [Defense Production Act] to get the kinds of things they need, whatever they may be, be they tests, be they vaccines or what have you.
“In other words, to just not be hesitant to use whatever mechanisms we can to get everything on track and on the flow that we predict. But the feasibility of his goal is absolutely clear, there’s no doubt about it. That can be done.”
You can read the full story below:
In Washington, a large area including the White House, the Capitol, the National Mall in between, and several blocks on either side, was sealed off by thousands of national guard troops. High steel fences on concrete stands protected key government buildings.
In the run-up to Wednesday’s inauguration, 20,000 troops will garrison the city, from national guards from DC and neighbouring states. By several measures, it is a bigger response than the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The scenes of recent days, with large numbers of soldiers resting in the corridors of the Capitol, have not been seen since the Civil War.
The protected area was divided into a highly restricted “red zone” and around that a “green zone”, accessible to its residents, an echo of the Iraq war, and the fortified government and diplomatic area in central Baghdad.
By lunchtime on Sunday, the city was quiet, with white supremacist militia leaders telling their followers to stay away.
In an email to supporters Thursday, Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, joined other extremists in begging Trump to declare martial law, but he also told supporters they should not gather at state capitols to protest, warning them of “false-flag traps.”
Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the neo-fascist Proud Boys, told USA Today that his group was not mobilizing as part of inauguration protests, saying, “I feel like this part of the battle is over.”
Original News : https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2021/jan/17/joe-biden-inauguration-donald-trump-protests-washington-capitol-latest-news-live-updates