Capitol police lambasted for ‘failed leadership’ in January attack | First Thing

Good morning.

Capitol missteps

Police chiefs and mayors from across the US criticised the “failed leadership by Capitol police and a failure to plan” over the siege on 6 January at a meeting later that month, according to emails seen by the Guardian. Further emails also showed that in the aftermath of the attack, authorities in Washington state increased their focus on far-right groups including QAnon adherents and the Three Percenters.

“The emails show how the events of the attack on the Capitol sent ripples around the US, and how agencies in states across the country scrambled to monitor local far-right activists, track down locals wanted for their role in the insurrection, and protect their own state capitols from groups who were openly planning to breach them,” writes Jason Wilson.

Republicans in Texas and Florida are pushing to limit voting rights

People protest against the HB6 and SB7 voter bills in Texas. Republican lawmakers around the country are pressing ahead with efforts to tighten voting laws, despite growing warnings from business leaders that the measures could harm democracy and the economic climate. Photograph: Eric Gay/AP

Lawmakers in Texas are locked in a battle over legislation that would further restrict voting access in what is already the hardest US state to vote in. Republicans have used procedural loopholes to avoid public testimony on the bill, and keep the negotiations behind closed doors. Democrats were engaged in a late-night fight against the bill on Thursday, tabling more than 100 amendments.

The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, barred local news outlets from the signing of the bill on Thursday, instead giving an ‘exclusive’ to Fox News.
The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, barred local news outlets from the signing of the bill on Thursday, instead giving an ‘exclusive’ to Fox News. Photograph: Matias J Ocner/AP

Texas is by no means the only state pushing restrictive laws. Yesterday, Florida’s governor signed a bill that limits voting by mail, restricts the use of absentee ballot drop boxes, increases ID requirements and gives partisan election observers more power to raise objections.

Republicans appear to be using baseless concerns about the security of the 2020 presidential election – most notably peddled by Donald Trump who repeatedly claimed it was fraudulent – as a pretext to introduce changes to the voiting system.

  • The White House issued swift condemnation of the law, saying Florida was “moving in the wrong direction”. The deputy press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said the regulations were based on Trump’s “big lie“ about fraud in the presidential election, adding: “There is no legitimate reason to change the rules right now to make it harder to vote.”

  • Who else opposes it? Minutes after the bill was signed, the League of Women Voters of Florida and two other civil rights groups sued all 67 of the state’s counties in an attempt to block the restrictions. Derrick Johnson, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called the move a “blatant and calculated attack on the right to vote”. Critics also warned it would disproportionately affect black, Latino and disabled voters.

A sixth grader shot three people at her school

Three injured after sixth-grade girl shoots three at Idaho middle school – video
Three injured after sixth-grade girl shoots three at Idaho middle school – video

A sixth-grade girl shot two students and a custodian at a middle school in Idaho yesterday, before being disarmed by a teacher. According to the Jefferson county sheriff, Steve Anderson, the pupil fired multiple rounds inside and outside of Ridgy middle school in the city of Rigby.

The three victims were shot in extremities and are expected to survive. The adult was treated in hospital and released after a bullet passed cleanly through a limb. The two students were kept in hospital last night, and one may need surgery, but both were in a “fair condition”, according to hospital authorities.

Could US firms use patient data from the coronavirus vaccine rollout?

Walgreens pharmacy already makes all customers who want a vaccine appointment create an account, including an opt-in to marketing emails.
Walgreens pharmacy already makes all customers who want a vaccine appointment create an account, including an opt-in to marketing emails. Photograph: Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

Data rights organisations have warned it is unclear how patient information given during the coronavirus vaccine drive could be used if it is collected by private companies.

Some experts expressed concerns that data including information about their health, employment and contact or location details could be used for marketing or advertising, or sold into the health data industry, which is worth billions of dollars.

In other news…

People watch a Long March 5B rocket, carrying China’s Tianhe space station core module, as it lifts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China’s Hainan province. The Pentagon is following the trajectory of the rocket as it is expected to make an uncontrolled entry into the atmosphere this weekend.
People watch a Long March 5B rocket, carrying China’s Tianhe space station core module, as it lifts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China’s Hainan province. The Pentagon is following the trajectory of the rocket as it is expected to make an uncontrolled entry into the atmosphere this weekend. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
  • The US military is not planning to shoot down the remnants of a Chinese rocket that is expected to plunge uncontrolled to Earth this weekend, according to the defense secretary. “We don’t have a plan to shoot it down as we speak,” Lloyd Austin said. “We’re hopeful that it will land in a place where it won’t harm anyone. Hopefully in the ocean, or someplace like that.”

  • More than 20,000 people have been trapped near a gas plant in Mozambique for more than a month, after it was abandoned after a militant attack. The French energy company Total evacuated its staff after a militant group killed dozens of people in a nearby town, but government forces have stopped thousands others from escaping despite fears of violence and lack of food.

  • The US has deployed a dozen additional warplanes to Afghanistan to improve protection for American and coalition troops as they withdraw from the country, according to the Pentagon. It comes as Taliban insurgents ramp up pressure on Afghan government forces. US officials have long said they expected the Taliban to try to interfere with the withdrawal.

Stat of the day: 59% of US voters support a patent waiver for coronavirus vaccines

According to a poll, 59% of US voters support waiving patent protections from coronavirus vaccines and other life-saving medicines, which could make it easier to create and distribute the medicines around the world. But the economics and health experts David Adler and Dr Mamka Anyona argue that while the waiver is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough to alleviate health inequality around the world, saying we need a “total transformation of the pharmaceutical patent system”.

If you would like to learn more about what a patent waiver is and how it could affect the coronavirus pandemic, recap with this explainer.

Don’t miss this: the young climate activists taking governments to court

Around the world, children and young adults are taking their governments to court to force them to take greater action against the climate crisis. From Portugal to Peru, our reporters meet them.

Last Thing: a New Zealander has been drawing penises around potholes to get the council to act

One of Upson’s creations on Kahikatea Flat Road in Auckland, New Zealand.
One of Upson’s creations on Kahikatea Flat Road in Auckland, New Zealand. Photograph: Geoff Upsom

In a very literal interpretation of the phrase “drawing attention”, a man in New Zealand has been drawing enormous neon penises around portholes in his local area, in the hope that it will force the council to sort out the issue. Geoff Upson said he had become “sick of calling Auckland transport” so had “gone and drawn a great artist’s impression of a penis”. Upson reckons he has drawn a whopping 100 penises to date, but it has not quite gone to plan – he’s now been threatened with police action.

And one last thing…

This is my last day writing First Thing, though it will continue with a new writer as normal next week. Together we have gone through a pandemic, a siege at the Capitol, an inauguration, the unprecedented second impeachment of a president, a landmark trial in police accountability and a pivot in almost every aspect of US policy – all in six months. Thank you for letting me into your mornings and trusting me with your news. It has been a privilege.

If you would like to stay in touch, you can always reach me on Twitter.

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