Dan Koob reports.
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U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office on Wednesday with only a few of his top chosen deputies in place. The Democrat's Cabinet appointees are awaiting approval by the Senate, who are set to hold their first confirmation hearings on Tuesday. Biden's pick for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, will meet with the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT).
- Associated Press
More than 125 people have been arrested so far on charges related to the violent insurrection led by supporters of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol, where a Capitol police officer and four others were killed. From a man pictured kicking his feet up on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to a far right-wing media personality known as “Baked Alaska” to the bare-chested guy sporting a furry hat with horns, here's a list in alphabetical order of some of the more notable arrests and allegations made by authorities. Richard Barnett, 60, of Arkansas was photographed sitting with his boots on a desk in Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6 riot.
- National Review
A senior Biden transition official is warning migrants hoping to cross the southern border into the U.S. during the early days of the new administration that “now is not the time” to come. “There’s help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey,” an unnamed Biden official said, NBC News reported. The Biden administration is looking to end the Trump administration’s policy of requiring that migrants wait in Mexico as immigration courts consider their asylum applications. Those who have been waiting at the border will be considered first for entry over migrants who only recently arrived. Additionally, the Biden administration will scrap the stricter restrictions the previous administration imposed on asylum seekers, which limit who is eligible for entry. However, any immigration legislation proposed by the Biden administration will address illegal immigrants living in the U.S. rather than new migrants arriving at the border, the official said. “The situation at the border isn’t going to be transformed overnight,” the official explained, saying that migrants seeking to gain asylum right away “need to understand they’re not going to be able to come into the United States immediately.” A caravan of about 2,000 Honduran migrants desperate to reach the U.S. forced their way past Guatemalan authorities Friday night and are expected to reach the southern border within the next few weeks. The caravan “will not find when they get to the U.S. border that from Tuesday to Wednesday, things have changed overnight and ports are all open and they can come into the United States,” the official cautioned. “We have to provide a message that help and hope is on the way, but coming right now does not make sense for their own safety … while we put into place processes that they may be able to access in the future,” the official said. In 2018, just before the midterm elections, a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants headed for America’s southern border. Similarly, in early 2017, just before President Trump took office, a caravan made its way to the border, drawing the ire of Trump.
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Trump news - live: President ‘won’t pardon himself or family’, as fire near Capitol disrupts inauguration prep
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- The Guardian
Jeffrey Yass, Club for Growth donor, told associate he did not foresee senator’s role in attempt to overturn US democracyJamie Raskin: ‘I’m not going to lose my son and my republic’ Josh Hawley speaks at the US Capitol on 6 January, the day of the Capitol attack. Photograph: AP A secretive billionaire supporter of Josh Hawley and other rightwing lawmakers suggested he had been “deceived” by the Republican senator from Missouri, who led the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Jeffrey Yass is a co-founder of Susquehanna International Group – headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a critical swing state – who has donated tens of millions of dollars to hardline Republican groups who supported Donald Trump’s effort to invalidate his defeat at the polls by Joe Biden. Yass privately told a longtime associate he had not foreseen how his contributions would lead to attempts to overturn US democracy. “Do you think anyone knew Hawley was going to do that?” Yass wrote to Laura Goldman, a former stockbroker who has known him for more than three decades. “Sometimes politicians deceive their donors.” Yass, who does not give interviews and generally avoids publicity, also told Goldman he did not believe the 2020 election had been “stolen”, even though he has directly and indirectly supported rightwing Republicans who have repeatedly – and falsely – sought to discredit the results. The latest fallout of the 6 January attempt to invalidate the election, in which 147 Republicans in Congress objected to electoral college results in the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, comes as both Hawley and his donors face pressure and criticism for his role. Hawley has said he objected to the counting of electoral votes in order to instigate a “debate” on the issue of election integrity. He has denied that his actions helped to incite the violent outburst and breach of the Capitol in which five people died, including a police officer. Goldman told the Guardian she emailed Yass because she was upset to learn about his support for Hawley and other Republicans, especially since the lawmakers were seeking to invalidate the election results in their home state, Pennsylvania, which helped Biden clinch the White House. “I approached Jeff Yass upset after reading the Guardian’s article [about his involvement in donations] because I was shocked he would allow my vote and the vote of his neighbors to possibly be invalidated by politicians to whom he gives millions of dollars,” she said. She added: “Yass lives here. He knows local politicians … he could simply call them and ask questions if he thought the election results were funky, which they absolutely were not. He doesn’t need Josh Hawley, a senator from Missouri, or Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas, to question the election results in the state that he has lived almost 40 years.” Goldman published snippets of Yass’s private remarks to her on Twitter. The Guardian was able to verify the authenticity of the statements. Yass, a trader and poker aficionado who is an active Republican donor and has been a force in Pennsylvania elections, donated about $30m to conservative Super Pacs in the 2020 election cycle, making him the eighth-largest donor in the election, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Most of those donations were made to the Club for Growth, an anti-tax group that in 2018 and 2020 supported 42 Republican hardliners who ultimately voted to overturn election results even after insurrectionists stormed the US Capitol. The Club for Growth has been a major backer of both Hawley and Cruz, his partner in seeking to invalidate the election. Yass has not responded to requests for comment from the Guardian. Nor has he responded to questions about whether he will continue to donate to the Club for Growth or whether he discussed issues with Hawley and others. Goldman said she sought out a discussion with him in part because she knows he is a “hands on” political donor. The Club for Growth did not respond to a request for comment. The group’s president, David McIntosh, has been an avid supporter of some of the most anti-democratic lawmakers elected in 2020, including Lauren Boebert, a QAnon follower and gun rights advocate from Colorado who has been criticized for tweeting the location of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, during the riot in the Capitol, against the advice of police. In an endorsement of Boebert in July 2020, McIntosh lauded the restaurant owner and political novice for her understanding of the “irreparable harm” caused by “government overreach” and said he had no doubt Boebert would be a “conservative firebrand” in Washington. Yass told Goldman he donated to the Club for Growth a year ago and suggested he could not have anticipated what Hawley and others might do. But public records show Yass also donated $2.5m to the Protect Freedom Pac on 10 November 2020, a week after the US election. The Protect Freedom Pac, affiliated with the Kentucky Republican senator Rand Paul, ran advertisements against Democrats ahead of two January runoff elections in Georgia, including ads that claimed Democrats were seeking to defund the police, institute “socialist healthcare” and raise “trillions in new taxes”. The Protect Freedom Pac’s website currently – and falsely – states that Democrats “stole” the 2020 election and used the Covid-19 crisis to illegally change election laws. It has also endorsed an in-person voter ID law, a policy that would disproportionately block minority voters. Yass has received far less attention than other billionaire donors, such as Mike Bloomberg or the late Sheldon Adelson, but has been known to get involved in local politics, donating money to candidates who support charter schools. Goldman told the Guardian Yass has been a longtime supporter of the Republican majority in the Pennsylvania legislature that led the fight to stop mail-in ballots from being counted until election day. Pennsylvania’s final results were not known until days after the election and Biden’s victory was clinched in large part because of hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots that were counted after in-person ballots. Hawley’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Got a tip? Please email Stephanie.Kirchgaessner@theguardian.com
- The Telegraph
China's Sinovac Biotech said on Monday that a clinical trial in Brazil showed its COVID-19 vaccine was almost 20 percentage points more effective in a small sub-group of patients who received their two doses longer apart. The protection rate for 1,394 participants who received doses of either CoronaVac or placebo three weeks apart was nearly 70%, a Sinovac spokesman said. Brazilian researchers announced last week that the vaccine's overall efficacy was 50.4% based on results from more than 9,000 volunteers, most of whom received doses 14 days apart, as outlined in the trial protocol.
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The latest updates from the White House and beyond on 17 January 2021
- The Telegraph
A Christian girl has been taken into care in Pakistan after allegedly being abducted by a Muslim man who forced her to marry him and kept her chained up in a cattle pen. The girl spent five months chained up in the pen in the yard of her 45-year-old captor's home, where she was forced to work all day clearing the animals’ dung, her family claim. They said that when she was rescued by police last month, she had cuts on her ankles left by the shackles put on her by captor, who is also said to have raped her repeatedly. The case has now been taken up by human rights groups, who say the family's initial complaint to police went ignored for three months. They claim that every year, hundreds of girls from Pakistan's Christian and Hindu minority groups are abducted and forced into Muslim marriage, with the justice system often turning a blind eye for fear of offending Islamic hardliners. They say that Britain, which gives £302 million in aid last year to Pakistan, should insist that more is done to counter prejudices against minorities and challenge institutionalised tolerance of sexual abuse. In November, The Telegraph reported on the case a 14-year-old girl allegedly kidnapped by a Muslim man who then used threats of violence to make her sign false papers consenting to marriage. When she escaped from his custody, a court initially ruled the marriage legal and returned her to her abductor's home. She is now in hiding, with the British charity Aid to the Church in Need petitioning Boris Johnson to allow her to seek asylum in Britain.