Christmas is just a few days away.
- The Week
FBI Director Christopher Wray, in his first public comments since the Jan. 6 violent siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Trump, said Thursday that law enforcement has arrested more than 100 people in connection with the assault and is aware of "an extensive amount of concerning online chatter" ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.Most of those arrested so far have been far-right militants, off-duty police, retired military personnel, GOP officials, QAnon adherents, and white supremacists. For example, the man photographed carrying a Confederate battle flag through the Capitol, Kevin Seefried, and his son, Hunter Seefried, surrendered to the FBI in Delaware on Thursday, the Justice Department said.Embed from Getty ImagesAuthorities also arrested "liberal activist" John Sullivan on Thursday, making him, Politico says, "the first person to be charged who appears to have been active in liberal causes." Sullivan, who filmed the siege, claims he was just following the rioters as a "journalist," but the FBI said his own video showed him to be a booster of the lawlessness and even an active participant.Trump supporters, including Rudy Giuliani, and conservative media outlets pointed to Sullivan's arrest to bolster their counterfactual claim that "antifa" or Black Lives Matter were actually behind the assault on the Capitol. But "even before his arrest, left wing activists had described concerns in that community, going back some time, that Sullivan was a provocateur working with others, including his brother James, who has ties to the Proud Boys and runs a pro-Trump organization," Marcy Wheeler notes at EmptyWheel.> pic.twitter.com/oRri9hyHGv> > — New York City Antifa (@NYCAntifa) January 7, 2021"Sullivan's presence in the Capitol, and his previous record of anti-Trump activism, has been the focus of frenzied attention in the right-wing media," Robert Mackey reports at The Intercept, while "left-wing organizers have been keen to stress that they ejected Sullivan from their ranks months ago." Since adopting the nom de guerre "Activist John" last summer, Mackey notes, Sullivan has been blacklisted by "left-wing organizers associated with Black Lives Matter and antifascism in Utah, California, and the Pacific Northwest" who say he's "either a right-wing infiltrator or a dangerously naive amateur."More stories from theweek.com Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious The worst-case scenario for America's immediate future Do Democrats realize the danger they are in?
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Selena Roth, a 25-year-old Army veteran and spouse, was killed at Schofield Barracks on Oahu.
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Less than a week before the inauguration, Vice President Mike Pence has reportedly called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to offer his congratulations.Pence and Harris spoke over the phone Thursday, with Pence congratulating the incoming vice president and offering "his belated assistance," The New York Times reported on Friday and The Associated Press confirmed.This is the first time Pence and Harris have spoken since their debate in October, and the call was "described as gracious and pleasant," the Times writes. President Trump has yet to speak with President-elect Joe Biden since the election, having spent more than two months falsely claiming to have won.Pence may invite Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, to the vice-presidential residence prior to next week's inauguration, according to the Times, though this is reportedly not set in stone due to scheduling issues created by the ongoing security concerns following last week's Capitol riot.Trump is reportedly expected to leave Washington, D.C. the morning of the inauguration. The president previously confirmed he will skip Biden's swearing-in, but Pence is expected to attend.More stories from theweek.com Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious The worst-case scenario for America's immediate future Do Democrats realize the danger they are in?
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An Army private first class was arraigned on sexual assault charges before a military judge.
- The Week
A reserve of second-dose COVID-19 vaccines set to be repurposed as first doses is already empty, state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans tell The Washington Post.Both the coronavirus vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. require two doses to be fully effective. So when distribution of first doses began, the Trump administration held back matching second doses to make sure recipients would be fully protected against COVID-19. Amid a massive demand for more doses, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced earlier this week that the department would begin doling out those reserved doses to more people, saying increased production speed would make up for the soon-to-be-depleted reserve.But as officials soon learned, the federal government had stopped stockpiling second dose vaccines weeks ago, they tell the Post. Both first and second doses were instead taken right off the manufacturing line. That meant Azar's announcement reportedly released a stockpile that didn't exist. The U.S. had already reached its maximum distribution capacity, and new doses distributors were expecting next week weren't coming, the Post reports.HHS spokesperson Michael Pratt confirmed in an email to the Post that the last of the reserve had been taken out for shipment this weekend. He didn't acknowledge Azar's comments, but said Operation Warp Speed had "always intended to transition from holding second doses in reserve as manufacturing stabilizes and we gained confidence in the ability for a consistent flow of vaccines." he also said states had only ordered 75 percent of the vaccines available to them. Read more at The Washington Post.More stories from theweek.com Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious The worst-case scenario for America's immediate future Do Democrats realize the danger they are in?
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Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) has apologized to Black Oklahomans for challenging Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, saying he did not realize his actions would be seen as "casting doubt on the validity of votes" in predominantly Black cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit.The big picture: Lankford was part of a group of 11 senators, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who planned to object to the Electoral College certification unless Congress launched a commission to audit the election results. He later withdrew his objection after the pro-Trump siege of the Capitol.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.Between the lines: "Lankford has been more involved with Black Tulsans, and particularly the historic Greenwood District, than any statewide Republican officeholder in decades," Tulsa World writes. * However, after Lankford's comments on the Senate floor, several state Black leaders said he should be removed from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, which is dedicated to educating communities about the massacre that killed 300 people. * Other Republicans involved in the election challenges, including Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have faced massive backlash.What they're saying: "My action of asking for more election information caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state," Lankford wrote in a letter addressed to "my friends in North Tulsa." * "I can assure you, my intent to give a voice to Oklahomans who had questions was never also an intent to diminish the voice of any Black American," he continued. * "I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you. I deeply regret my blindness to that perception, and for that I am sorry."Go deeper: GOP Sen. Josh Hawley under fire after Electoral College challengeBe smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
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Hong Kong police on Thursday said they arrested 11 people on suspicion of assisting offenders who are believed to be the 12 Hong Kong activists detained at sea by mainland Chinese authorities while attempting to flee the city last year. District councilor and lawyer Daniel Wong Kwok-tung posted on his Facebook page early Thursday that national security officers had arrived at his home. Wong, a member of the Democratic Party, is known for providing legal assistance to hundreds of activists arrested during antigovernment protests in 2019.
- Miami Herald