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Updated: 14 hours 42 min ago

Muted Protests Across The Country After States Fortified Security

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 23:21

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The country braced for an extremist movement over the weekend.

"We need to settle down. And coming from the area I’ve lived in Virginia, it’s a pretty Trump area. But I would say we just need to calm down and believe in each other," said Bertram Dodson, Virginia Resident.

Members of the far-right group Boogaloo showed up in Michigan, Ohio, and Utah -- and arrests were made for people carrying weapons and impersonating police in Washington, D.C. But across the country, protesters were largely outnumbered… by law enforcement and journalists.

“Do I want to have the National Guard on my streets? No, but do I want anything that is destructive? You know burning the city or whatever else? Absolutely not," said Mayor Andy Schor of Lansing, MI. "I would rather be over prepared than not and so far things have been peaceful and that’s great and we are looking forward to that throughout the day.” 

Even in the nation’s capital, an eerie quiet.

Tall metal fencing and members of the National Guard as far as the eye can see… the unprecedented security, a lesson learned after rioters stormed the Capitol, sending lawmakers fleeing and causing five deaths. This crowd, at least some of them, wary to talk to journalists.

"To the extent that I would judge the president, or most of his supporters, by the activities of Jan 6 is the same as taking the worst of the left and saying that that’s representative of President-elect Biden. I think it’s unfair and not helpful," said one man in Washington, D.C.

This Trump supporter didn’t want to be named and says no one is changing their minds about the twice impeached president. 

People are accusing the president of basically inciting the riot. Where do you stand on that?

"I think it’s a hard question and it depends on where you come from to begin with," he said.

Counterterrorism experts say it’s a dark and uncertain time.

"The country is in a very dangerous moment, almost parallel to the feeling we had in the country after 9/11," says Javed Ali, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council.

They say an insurgency could continue after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration -- but it may not mean storming of government buildings:

"It's going to be a very sort of precarious time going forward because the Capitol event siege tactic may not be the tactic that we have to confront going down the road," Ali says.

An official tells Newsy National Guard members have been trained in handling improvised explosive devices, after pipe bombs were found outside Republican and Democratic headquarters. But protesters this weekend say the violence on January 6 doesn’t define them:

"I’m here for good. I’m not here to cause any rift or any trouble, nothing negative," said Steve Addyman, a Trump supporter from Minnesota.

"Joe Biden hasn’t even been inaugurated and our first amendment rights are already being taken away," said Becky Strohmeier, a Trump supporter and protest organizer there.

With investigations, arrests, and charges underway, the Department of Justice hopes to dissuade more extremists from acting out:

"I want to send a clear message to anyone contemplating violence, threats of violence, or other criminal conduct," said Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in a video statement. "We will have no tolerance whatsoever for any attempts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power on January 20 that our constitution calls for."

But members of far-right groups are getting harder to monitor, as they move their online chatter to private messaging apps, where experts say they will become more radicalized.

“Well I’m retired military and we were told, whenever you see a lot of military in a city, it’s not good. So it saddens me to my core," said Suba Saty, a Virginia resident. "I never thought it would be like this ever, in D.C. and it breaks my heart.”

72 Tennis Players In Quarantine Ahead Of Australian Open

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 21:46

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The already delayed Australian Open is facing another speed bump — 72 tennis players have been placed in a strict 14-day quarantine, making them unable to attend practice for days ahead of the tournament.

A charter flight carrying 25 players reported a positive test Sunday, the third flight to do so in the past week. Now... players who arrived without any positive tests on their flights will have five hours of training each day, while others will be confined to their hotel rooms.

Some players were frustrated they had to be restricted just for being on the same flight, but local health authorities say the players were warned in advance of the risks and rules. If they leave quarantine, they could be heavily fined or moved to a different quarantine spot with police guards.

The number of infected passengers is now at five, with no players testing positive so far. Former U.S. Open champion Sloan Stephens and former world number ones Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber are part of the quarantine group.

Even with the players benched for the next two weeks, officials say the tournament will go on as planned on February 8. 

Alexei Navalny Detained Upon Return To Russia

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 21:31

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Leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport after returning from Germany on Sunday. 

 

He was detained for multiple violations of parole and terms of a suspended prison sentence. The prison service said he would be held in custody until a court makes a decision in his case. 

Navalny has been recovering in Germany since August when he was poisoned with a nerve agent. 

He has blamed Russian President Vladmir Putin, but Putin has said that if he had wanted to kill Navalny he would have. The Kremlin says Navalny was never poisoned.

Human Rights Watch called Navalny's return to Russia "a real act of bravery" in the interests of democracy. President-elect Biden's pick for national security advisor called for him to be released immediately.

U.K. Pushes To Vaccinate All Adults By September

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 21:19

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The U.K is pushing to offer all adults a COVID-19 vaccine by this September.

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab shared that deadline in an interview with Sky News Sunday. 

“Our target is by September to have offered all the adult population a first dose. If we can do it faster than that, great, but that’s the road map.”

Raab said the government will begin testing a system to provide vaccines around the clock — while increasing delivery speeds and adding vaccination locations.

In the U.S. last week, President-Elect Biden said his administration hopes to provide 100 million doses of the vaccine within his first 100 days in office.

Phil Spector Dies From COVID-19 Complications At 81

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 20:57

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Famed music producer and convicted murderer Phil Spector has died at the age of 81. 

According to Spector's daughter, the producer died Saturday from complications related to COVID-19.

Spector, who has been incarcerated for more than a decade, reportedly contracted the virus four weeks ago. After a short stay in a hospital, Spector returned to the California Health Care Facility but fell ill again shortly after.

Spector was convicted for a 2003 murder of a woman in his Los Angeles home. He was sentenced to 19 years to life and had been serving time since 2009.

Spector's music accolades date back to the 1950s when he produced his first hit, "To Know Him Is To Love Him," by the Teddy Bears. He worked with a who's who of hit makers including the Beatles, Ike and Tina Turner, and the Righteous Brothers. His layered recording technique called "The Wall of Sound" is considered revolutionary in the music business. 

Spector is survived by five children.

Contains footage from CNN.

Nationwide Statehouses, D.C. Prepare for Potentially Violent Week

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 19:17

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Joe Biden will take his oath of office Wednesday in the same place mobs swarmed less than two weeks ago...on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. And the threat of a destructive week ahead has forced extra security...not only in Washington but at statehouses across the country.

In what's typically a celebratory week, the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol riots has made legislative halls nationwide tense, with police and National Guard troops on duty and some statehouse buildings fenced and boarded up.

The FBI is watching for potential violence at armed protests at all 50 state's capitol buildings.  

 

"We are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter is the best way I would describe it about a number of events surrounding the inauguration."

Some 25,000 National Guard troops will be in D.C. this week and the National Mall will be shut down to keep people away. 

Meanwhile, many state officials are hopeful they won't see a repeat of the U.S. Capitol riot in their buildings. 

"Together with our law enforcement partners, we are prepared for the worst, but we remain hopeful that those who choose to demonstrate at our Capitol do so peacefully without violence or destruction of property."

More than a third of governors called out the National Guard to aid local law enforcement officers, and some governors issued states of emergency. 

And the threat of insurrection isn't the only reason this year will be different than past inaugurations. COVID has forced the cancellation of the public parade from the Capitol to the White House, and members of Congress are being limited on the number of guests. There will also be no inaugural balls, and Tom Hanks will host a TV special in their place.

Even though it will be unusual this year, Biden's communications director says holding the inauguration is more than just swearing in a new president.

"I think that will send an incredibly important visual image to the world about the resilience of American democracy. So our plan and our expectation is that President-elect Biden will put his hand on the Bible with his family outside on the west side of the capitol on the 20."

Biden To Roll Back Trump Admin. Decisions On Day One

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 18:58

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Hours after his inauguration, President-Elect Joe Biden will begin his agenda day one.

That's according to his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain. 

He said in a memo to staff that Biden will undo controversial Trump administration policies and enact coronavirus protections.

In his first hours, Biden will move to rejoin the Paris climate accord and roll back immigration restrictions from Muslim-majority countries — both enacted by President Trump.

He will also require mask wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Additionally, he'll extend a freeze on student loan payment and interest and renew protections against foreclosures and evictions.

And that's just day one of a reported ten-day policy marathon.

Day two and three will see expanded virus testing, plans to reopen schools and businesses and provide economic relief for those struggling through the pandemic.

In the days to follow, Klain said Biden will make moves to address climate change and criminal justice reform. He will also expedite the process of reuniting families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border — among other immigration policies.

Incoming White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield confirmed parts of this agenda on ABC Sunday: "You're going to see him move on promises he made on the campaign trail to ensure we are focused on workers. you'll see him make good on his by American promise. you're going to see him toward a more just and racially equitable society."

Kamala Harris To Be Sworn In By Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Sun, 01/17/2021 - 18:05

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As we approach Inauguration Day Wednesday, there's sure to be some history-making moments...including future Vice President Kamala Harris being sworn in by another groundbreaking woman in D.C.

Aides close to Harris tell ABC that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will swear Harris in as the 49th vice president of the United States. The means Sotomayor, the first Latina woman in the Supreme Court will join Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman to be elected as vice president on the special day.

Harris will also swear on two Bibles for the ceremony. One of which belonged to Thurgood Marshall – the first Black man to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. The other belonged to a family friend.

Harris has called Marshall one of her "greatest heroes" and has also favored Sotomayor as a critical voice on the bench who quote..."shows all our children what’s possible.” The incoming president is typically sworn in by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The inauguration holds the theme of "America United" and is set for Wednesday January 20. 

Newsy is committed to keeping you informed on the latest developments as they unfold. Join us throughout the week for live, uninterrupted coverage of the swearing in of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris from the heart of Washington.

Man Arrested With Gun, Ammo And Non-Government Issued Credential

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 23:32

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U.S. Capitol Police arrested a man Friday at a security checkpoint carrying more than 500 rounds of ammunition. 

According to the US Capitol Police, Wesley Beeler of Front Royal, Virginia, was charged with five crimes, including illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. Police say officers found a Glock pistol, 509 rounds of ammunition and 21 shotgun shells.

Authorities say when the man stopped at a checkpoint they saw a firearm sitting in his car and the credentials he was using were not issued by the government. 

According to The Washington Post, Beeler's mother said he works private security and her son told her he was assisting in Downtown security. 

A D.C. Superior Court judge has issued Beeler a stay-away order and, according to The Post, says he will not be allowed back into the city until he appears in court.  

U.S. Executes 13th Inmate After 17-Year Pause In Federal Executions

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 20:52

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The Trump Administration carried out its 13th federal execution in six months, days before President Elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office. 

Dustin Higgs was found guilty of ordering the murders of three women at a wildlife refuge in Maryland in 1996. Higgs was the third person to receive a lethal injection in a week. Federal executions resumed in 2020 following a 17-year hiatus. The number of inmates put to death in the past year exceeds total executions over the past 56 years.

Higgs was pronounced dead early Saturday morning. In his final words, he maintained his innocence and told his family that he loved them.

Fifty other men remain on the federal death row. However, it is unlikely any will be executed. That's because, President-elect Joe Biden has signaled that he will end federal executions.

NRA Files For Bankruptcy, Seeking To Evade NY Lawsuit, Probe

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 18:29

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The National Rifle Association — the prolific gun rights group and major donor to Republican candidates — has filed for bankruptcy.

 Additionally, its looking to reincorporate in Texas as the New York Attorney General's office pursues a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the company over alleged financial improprieties.

The NRA filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Dallas after the pandemic forced the 5-million member group to cancel events and lay off employees in an election year.

In New York, Attorney General Letitia James accuses NRA leaders of diverting more than $60 million for private jets, luxurious vacations and paying off former employees to buy their silence

But the NRA insists it's in good financial health — instead saying it's leaving New York over what it calls an unfair political crackdown.

It said in a statement: “The move will enable long-term, sustainable growth and ensure the NRA’s continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New York.”

The New York A.G. said she will proceed with enforcement actions, even if the NRA bolts to Texas.

She said: "We will continue our efforts because this organization has gone unchecked for years."

The NRA disputes the allegations and says it will prevail in court.

India Launches World's Largest COVID-19 Vaccination Drive

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 18:27

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India kicked off its national COVID-19 vaccination campaign, starting with health care workers on Saturday. 

The government initially plans to vaccinate 300 million people in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people. Its first priority for the vaccine will be some 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers. 

"I'm feeling like hopeful, like 2021 will give us better days to go ahead," said Roshan Mathew, a doctor at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. 

The next phase of vaccinations will target some 270 million people who are 50 or older or have underlying health conditions.

India has some 3,000 vaccination centers across the country and plans to vaccine 100 people at each center on the first day of the campaign. The country has the world's second largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, behind the U.S. 

India has issued an emergency use authorization for two vaccines, including one developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca. 

"An emergency authorization have been given to them after ensuring that they are safe, they are effective and they have adequate immunogenic response," India Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said.  

For Newsy, I'm Gage Jackson.

Secretary Of Defense 'Cannot Wait To Leave' Ahead Of Inauguration

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 18:15

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Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller says he "cannot wait to leave" his job.

Miller has been a target of criticism over the Pentagon's response to the deadly Capitol riot on January 6. And his comments in a press conference Thursday came the same day his department mobilized at least 21,000 National Guard surrounding the inauguration.

He said of the deployment, "I have responsibility for everything, remember, if something goes wrong, I own it. Completely, 110%."

The outgoing defense secretary fielded questions on multiple topics. When asked about the military's most expensive weapons program - the F-35 fighter jet - he said: "We've created a monster." And when asked about irregular military tactics used by Russia, he quipped: "Good on them."

A defense official later told the Washington Post, "The Secretary often uses casual and humorous language with reporters." He said Miller's use of humor was "obvious to participants" at the press conference.

President Donald Trump picked Miller for the job just over two months ago after firing Secretary Mark Esper and other top defense officials. 

Alex Azar Resigns Over Capitol Riots, Decries 'Assault On Democracy'

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 18:02

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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is resigning, saying President Donald Trump's "actions and rhetoric" threaten to tarnish his administration's legacy.

In his resignation letter dated January 12, Azar praised the administration for its Operation Warp Speed drive for a COVID-19 vaccine and other public health initiatives. But he blasted the president for divisiveness that detracted from "historic legacies of this administration."

Azar said, "The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power... I implore you ... to demand that no one attempt to disrupt the inaugural activities in Washington or elsewhere, and to continue to support unreservedly the peaceful and orderly transition of power on January 20, 2021."

Azar says he won't leave his post until the moment Joe Biden is sworn in as the next president.

But he now joins a list of other Cabinet officials who have resigned after the Capitol riot. Earlier Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stepped down abruptly, both citing the riots and the rhetoric of President Trump.

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