Thursday, January 7, 2021

The AM Confidential: Trumpster Thugs Storm Capitol

➤FOUR DEAD AMID THE MAYHEM: Supporters of President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday in an unprecedented action as a joint session of Congress was being held to count the certified Electoral College presidential election votes, rioting through the halls and offices as lawmakers hid in barricaded locations and overwhelmed Capitol police were unable to hold them back. 

Four people died amid the mayhem, one a woman who was shot and killed and three others who had medical emergencies, and others were injured, including 14 police officers. The woman killed was part of a crowd of people breaking down the doors to a barricaded room where armed Capitol Police officers stood on the other side, and she was fatally shot by the police. 

Trump, who has since the election made frequent untrue claims of voter fraud, contending he really won not President-elect Joe Biden, had urged his supporters to come to Washington, D.C., yesterday to protest Congress' formal approval of Biden's election. He spoke to them at a rally outside the White House earlier in the day, declaring, "If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. Let's get the weak ones get out. This is a time for strength." His attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, told the crowd, "Let’s have trial by combat." Trump urged the rally-goers to march to the Capitol, saying he'd go with them, but he didn't. 

Members of Congress were involved in carrying out the electoral vote counting in the early afternoon when congressional leaders were swept away from the floor by security and lawmakers dove under their desks and put on gas masks as the rioters tried to get into the chamber after making it into the Capitol. The mob of people broke windows and pounded on doors as they roamed the halls looking for the hiding members of Congress. 

Biden, Trump Respond

Biden, who had intended to deliver a speech in Delaware about the economy, instead addressed what was happening, saying that American democracy was, quote, "under unprecedented assault," and saying, "I call on this mob to pull back and allow democracy to go forward." Biden tied the actions to Trump, saying, "The words of a president matter . . . At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite," and he called on the president to, quote, "go on national television now, to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege."

Trump instead, after being urged by staff, tweeted twice and made a brief video telling his supporters at the Capitol to go home. But he praised them, saying, "We love you" and calling them "very special," and repeated the false claims about the election. According to media reports, Trump resisted calling out the National Guard, which is under federal control in Washington, D.C. They eventually were deployed, but the rioters had little apparent pushback as they were in the Capitol for hours, ransacking offices and taking selfies in the House and Senate chambers and pictures of documents. 

Order Restored, Congress Reconvenes

After those who stormed the Capitol left or were removed when law enforcement and National Guard members finally arrived in force, Congress reconvened in the evening, with lawmakers condemning what had happened and vowing to finish the counting of the Electoral Vote, which went on into the early hours of this morning. Several leaders, including Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in their statements decrying the rioters' action that they didn't succeed and Congress would do its business.

Police recovered two pipe bombs, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee, and a cooler of Molotov cocktails. Overall, there were 52 people reported arrested.

➤CONGRESS AFFIRMS BIDEN'S VICTORY: More than 12 hours after the Capitol was stormed by supporters of President Trump seeking to disrupt the counting of the states' certified Electoral College votes from the presidential election, Congress affirmed President-elect Joe Biden's victory around 3:30 a.m. Congress had resumed its count of the Electoral College votes in the evening after the Capitol had been secured. It involves reading them out loud alphabetically, and the counting of Vermont's three electoral votes put Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris over the 270 threshold needed to win. Some Republicans objected to the votes in Pennsylvania, and, under the rules a two-hour debate period was allotted, but both chambers ultimately rejected the objection. A GOP objection to Arizona's votes had been underway when the Capitol was stormed, but that was eventually voted down too. Republicans had originally planned objections to more states' votes, but after the breach of the Capitol, the GOP senators decided against carrying out the others. Biden will be inaugurated on January 20th.

➤OSSOFF WINS SECOND GEORGIA RUNOFF, DEMS TO CONTROL U.S. SENATE: Jon Ossoff was projected yesterday as the winner of his U.S. Senate runoff against Republican Senator David Purdue a day earlier by the Associated Press and CNN, among other media organizations, hours after fellow Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock was projected the winner of the other Senate runoff in the state, against Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler. With the two victories, the U.S. Senate will be tied 50-50, flipping control of the chamber to the Democrats, who will hold the tie-breaking vote with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. At 33, Ossoff will be the youngest member of the Senate and will be holding his first public office. The results also mean that Democrats flipped three Senate seats in the 2020 election and Republicans flipped one, for a net gain of three by the Dems.

➤AT LEAST 52 CASES OF MUTATED CORONAVIRUS FOUND IN U.S.: At least 52 cases of a the mutated coronavirus first discovered in the U.K. that is more contagious have now been found in the U.S, according to data posted Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes at least 26 cases in California, 22 cases in Florida, two cases in Colorado, and one case each in Georgia and New York, however experts suspect there could be many more cases in the country. That came as The COVID Tracking Project yesterday reported 132,476 people hospitalized across the country, and 3,793 deaths for the day. The U.S. has had a total of more than 361,200 deaths as of yesterday, according to Johns Hopkins University's data.

➤CDC: SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTION TO COVID-19 VACCINE ‘EXCEEDINGLY RARE’: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that severe allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are “exceedingly rare.” The group says just 21 people out of 1.9 million vaccinated in the U.S. have reported such a reaction, and of those 21 who experienced anaphylaxis after being vaccinated, 17 had a history of similar reactions to other vaccines or medications, and all 21 recovered, though some required hospital care. The data covers vaccine doses administered through December 23rd. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said yesterday (January 6th) that the rate of the severe reactions amounts to 11.1 cases of anaphylaxis per one million doses administered, by comparison, the typical flu vaccine sees 1.3 cases of anaphylaxis per one million recipients. She adds, "The rate of anaphylaxis with the COVID vaccines may seem high compared to the flu vaccine, but this is still a rare outcome. It’s paramount people get vaccinated.”

➤ASSANGE DENIED BAIL: The same British judge who refused to allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to extradited to the U.S., yesterday denied him bail, ordering that he remain in a high-security prison while U.K. courts consider an appeal by U.S. authorities of the extradition's refusal. The U.S. is seeking to try Assange in the U.S. on espionage charges for WikiLeaks' publication of classified military documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser there is a good chance Assange would fail to return to court if he was freed. Baraitser on Monday refused the U.S. extradition request on health grounds, saying Assange was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions.

➤WHY WE USE OUR SMARTPHONES AT CAFES: Many use their smartphones without thinking about it, even in social situations, but why? Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology looked at why people in cafes pull out their phones, and found three main reasons: 1) to delay or pause a conversation; 2) to get out of a conversation, or 3) to share something with others. Delaying interaction is when you check your phone in the middle of a conversation for almost any reason, this is also known as “phubbing” (phone + snubbing) and can be taken positively (a good break from a long conversation) or negatively, while using your phone to get out of a conversation completely (leaving the room to take an “important call”, for example) is often seen as unpleasant, and content sharing is the most useful or pleasant way to use a phone, and can sometimes be the opposite of taking a break from interacting (think of sharing a photo or a document you want to show the person you’re talking to.) Study co-author Professor Aksel Tjora says, “The study dispels the myth that everyone is constantly staring at their screens no matter the occasion, and shows that a form of courtesy with the phone has been established, at least in situations where the social aspect is prioritized. Whatever the reasons, one thing seems certain: smartphones have changed how we behave socially, for better or for worse. But maybe socializing has just become different in a way we need to be conscious of.”

➤MORE THAN 50 PERCENT OF AMERICANS PLAYED VIDEO GAMES DURING CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWNS: Americans definitely embraced video games in 2020. SuperData, a Nielsen company, reports 55 percent of Americans they surveyed reported playing console, PC and mobile video games during the first phase of COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020. That could explain why video games and interactive media generated $139 billion in 2020, a 12 percent jump from 2019. Free-to-play games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone generated 78 percent of the total games revenue, but console earnings jumped up more than a quarter. Players cited boredom and a desire to avoid the real world as reasons for playing, and 25 percent reported playing games to stay-in-touch with loved ones.

➤STUDY: BABIES SHOULD HAVE SKIN-TO-SKIN CONTACT WITH THEIR FATHER AS MOM RECOVERS FROM C-SECTION TO BOOST THEIR HEART RATE:  Babies born via Caesarean section should get skin-to-skin contact with their fathers while mom recovers, finds a new study. Swedish researchers found that babies delivered via C-section will have a higher and more stable heart rate if they laid on their dad’s bare chest compared to being held or placed in a cot. This echoes previous findings that show various benefits from skin-to-skin contact between parents and newborn children. However, in many countries babies that come into the world via C-section are placed in neonatal units while their mothers recover. Study author and reproductive health expert Kyllike Christensson says, “Separating infants and their parents after a Caesarean section is still routine care worldwide. The results show that newborn infants can be safely and adequately cared for by their fathers if their mothers cannot take care of them straight after birth.”

🏀NBA TEAMS REACT TO CAPITOL STORMED, OFFICER WHO SHOT BLAKE NOT CHARGED: Several NBA teams reacted yesterday to the storming of the U.S. Capitol, as well as to the decision a day earlier by a Wisconsin prosecutor not to charge the Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in the back last year, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics put out a joint statement saying they were playing, quote, "with a heavy heart," and nearly all of the players and coaches knelt during the national anthem. The Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons both took turnovers on their first possessions intentionally, with all 10 players on the court kneeling. The Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors stood in a circle and linked arms for the U.S. and Canadian anthems.

🏀RIVERS SUGGEST DIFFERENT STANDARD AFTER CAPITOL STORMED: Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers suggested to reporters yesterday that the law enforcement response to the storming of the U.S. Capitol would have been different if the rioters were Black. He said, "Could you imagine today if those were all Black people storming the Capitol and what would’ve happened?" He contrasted it to yesterday's law enforcement reaction, saying, "No police dogs turned on people, no billy clubs hitting people, people peacefully being escorted out of the Capitol. So it shows that you can disperse a crowd peacefully, I guess, would be the one thing."

🏀MAGIC'S FULTZ TO MISS REST OF SEASON WITH TORN ACL: Orlando Magic point guard Markelle Fultz will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee during last night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Fultz, who was the Number 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, was hurt just minutes into the game.

🏀BEAL SCORES 60 POINTS, TYING WIZARDS RECORD: The Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal scored 60 points last night in a 141-136 losing effort by his team against the Philadelphia 76ers. It was Beal's first career 60-point game and tied a Wizards franchise record. 

🏈CLEMSON QB LAWRENCE DECLARING FOR DRAFT: Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is declaring for the NFL draft, announcing the news in a video on social media yesterday (January 6th). The 21-year-old junior said, "I really feel like I’m a man now and I’m ready to take on those challenges. Super excited for life ahead." Lawrence, who led Clemson to the national title after the 2018 season and on Tuesday finished second in the Heisman Trophy race, is expected to be taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have the top pick in the draft.

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