US Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman argued to maintain increased law enforcement presence at the Capitol ahead of Joe Biden’s first address to Congress, following warnings from militia groups that she says want to “blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” in connection with the president’s upcoming State of the Union. “So based on that information, we think that it’s prudent that Capitol Police maintain its enhanced and robust security posture until we address those vulnerabilities going forward,” she said.
Angela Merkel has dismissed suggestions she should ignore her government’s guidelines and take the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. There have been calls for Mrs Merkel to “lead by example” and be vaccinated on camera in order to dispel German public fears over the jab. But the AstraZeneca vaccine is currently only approved for under-65s in Germany, and Mrs Merkel is 66. “I do not belong to the recommended age group for AstraZeneca,” Mrs Merkel told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. She also rejected suggestions she take the rival Pfizer jab, arguing it was “well accepted” by the German public. Mrs Merkel and other German leaders have been reluctant to be seen as jumping the queue for the vaccines, preferring to wait their turn. But there have been calls for them to set an example as widespread public resistance to the AstraZeneca jab stalls the country’s rollout. “AstraZeneca is a reliable vaccine, effective and safe, approved by the European Medical Agency and recommended in Germany up to the age of 65 years. All the authorities tell us that this vaccine can be trusted,” Mrs Merkel told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung .
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Erin Schaff/ReutersThe acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police just came with the receipts.Testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee about the catastrophic breakdown that allowed thousands of MAGA rioters to breach the Capitol, Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman revealed that her predecessor called the House sergeant-at-arms, Paul Irving, at 12:58 p.m. to request the National Guard as rioters breaching the building and forced lawmakers into hiding.Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the riot, called Irving again seven minutes later, according to phone records pulled by Pittman—and then called him at least three more times until 1:45 p.m.“When there’s a breakdown you look for those commanders with boots on the ground to provide that instruction,” Pittman said. “That did not happen, primarily because those operational commanders at the time were so overwhelmed, they started to participate and assist the officers… versus providing that guidance and direction.”First Capitol Riot Hearing Only Raised More Questions About Jan. 6The receipts–which support the narrative that a series of unanswered calls, withheld information, and conflicting orders led to complete malfunction—directly contradicted Irving’s testimony.On Tuesday, Sund testified that he asked for National Guard backup just after 1 p.m. But Irving insisted that was wrong. He said he did not remember the conversation with Sund and claimed he didn’t get an official request until “shortly before 1:30 p.m.” Troops were not approved to help overwhelmed officers at the Capitol until 2:10 p.m.“Mr. Irving stated that he was concerned about the ‘optics’ of having the National Guard present and didn’t feel that the intelligence supported it,” Sund said Tuesday. Irving, who resigned in the wake of the riot, said that was “categorically false.”On Tuesday, Irving said that if Sund, Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger, or any other leaders concluded ahead of Jan. 6 that unarmed National Guardsmen were needed, he “would not have hesitated” to ensure the reinforcement was ready.Pittman’s testimony—and her insistence that Capitol Police did everything possible to contain the insurrection—was just the latest twist in a series of finger-pointing between the top law enforcers in charge of securing the Capitol. During hearings before lawmakers this week, officials have blamed one another for the widespread failures.One failure, Pittman conceded on Thursday, was that nobody in law enforcement knew the mob would be so violent.She told lawmakers that they were prepared for militia groups, white supremacists, and other extremists to be present, but the small organization was not prepared for thousands of “everyday” Americans “who took on a mob mentality.” (Acting D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee revealed on Tuesday that the FBI intel consisted merely of an email sent on Jan. 5.)Officials believe over 10,000 demonstrators were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and that 800 breached the building. About 1,200 police officers responded, Pittman said.She also made the stunning admission that since Jan. 6, Capitol Police have maintained heightened security because they learned that militia groups have chatted about plans to “blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” in connection with the State of the Union, which has no scheduled date yet. “We know that the insurrectionists that attacked the Capitol weren’t only interested in attacking members of Congress and officers. They wanted to send a symbolic message to the nation as [to] who was in charge of that legislative process,” Pittman said. On Tuesday, Irving insisted that Capitol Police were privy to intelligence provided by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security that “did not support” the likelihood of a coordinated assault at the Capitol.An NYPD Cop’s Road From Terror ‘Victim’ to Capitol Rioter“The department was not ignorant of intelligence indicating an attack of the size and scale we encountered on the sixth. There was no such intelligence,” Pittman said Thursday. “Although we knew the likelihood for violence by extremists, no credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol. Nor did the intelligence received from the FBI or any other law enforcement partner indicate such a threat.”Pittman added that because officers at the Capitol were not prepared for a violent mob, lockdown procedure was not properly executed. She added that some officers were also not sure when to use lethal force, and that radio communications between law enforcers were not robust.Five individuals died during the violent riots. Four were pro-Trump protesters, including Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a police officer after attempting to break into the Speaker’s Lobby. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died after allegedly clashing with rioters. In the days after the siege, at least two officers died by suicide.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
A New York prosecutor has obtained copies of Donald Trump’s tax records after the Supreme Court this week rejected the former president’s last-ditch effort to prevent them from being handed over. The Manhattan district attorney’s office enforced a subpoena on Trump’s accounting firm within hours of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday and now has the documents in hand, a spokesperson for the office, Danny Frost, said Thursday. District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. had been fighting for a year and a half for access to Trump’s tax records for a criminal grand jury investigation into his business dealings.
Richard Michetti was arraigned Tuesday in Philadelphia over his alleged participation in the January 6 insurrection.
The first big real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be independently reviewed shows the shot is highly effective at preventing COVID-19, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies. Up until now, most data on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines has come under controlled conditions in clinical trials, leaving an element of uncertainty over how results would translate into the real world with its unpredictable variables. The research in Israel - two months into one of the world's fastest rollouts, providing a rich source of data - showed two doses of the Pfizer shot cut symptomatic COVID-19 cases by 94% across all age groups, and severe illnesses by nearly as much.
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The Swedish government said on Wednesday it would reduce opening hours for all restaurants, bars and cafes as well as tighten limits on the number of people allowed in shops as it seeks to ward off a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. "The situation in Sweden is serious, we have a high spread of infection and it is increasing," Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a news conference. Concerns about a possible third wave of the pandemic have been growing in Sweden in recent weeks as the number of new infections has risen, although deaths have come down significantly.
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AstraZeneca will deliver 180 million COVID-19 vaccines to Europe in the second quarter, including 20 million to Italy, the head of its Italian unit was quoted as saying on Thursday, but EU officials remained wary about supply. Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing an EU official directly involved in talks with the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, that AstraZeneca expected to deliver less than half the COVID-19 vaccines it was contracted to supply the European Union in the second quarter. Lorenzo Wittum, CEO and chairman of AstraZeneca in Italy, told daily Il Corriere della Sera that Italy would receive more than 5 million shots by the end of March, fewer than the 8 million previously agreed, leading to a total of 25 million doses by June.
Bahrain’s crown prince spoke with the Israeli prime minister on Thursday about the return to nuclear talks with Iran, Bahrain’s state-run news agency reported, as the U.S. administration tries to revive the tattered 2015 nuclear accord. Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, also the country’s prime minister, stressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “the importance of the participation of regional countries in any negotiations on the Iranian nuclear file” to support “security and stability in the region,” according to the official Bahrain News Agency.
Former Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa told a Japanese court Wednesday he believed the compensation for his predecessor Carlos Ghosn was too low “by international standards,” and so he supported Ghosn’s retirement packages to prevent him from leaving. “Mr. Ghosn had outstanding abilities and achievements,” Saikawa said, testifying in Tokyo District Court in the criminal trial of Greg Kelly, a former senior executive at Nissan Motor Co.
Explosive-laden drones that targeted Saudi Arabia's royal palace in the kingdom's capital last month were launched from inside Iraq, a senior Iran-backed militia official in Baghdad and a U.S. official said. Speaking to The Associated Press this week, the militia official said three drones were launched from Iraqi-Saudi border areas by a relatively unknown Iran-backed faction in Iraq and crashed into the royal complex in Riyadh on Jan. 23, exacerbating regional tensions. Attacks on the Saudi capital have been sporadic amid the kingdom's yearslong war against neighboring Yemen's Houthi rebels.
Two counties in Georgia want Donald Trump to pay for the cost of his failed lawsuits alleging voter fraud in the election.
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India's coast guard has found a boat adrift in the Andaman Sea carrying scores of Rohingya refugees, including eight who had died, officials said Thursday. The boat left Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh on Feb. 11 with 90 people, including 23 children, on board and its engine failed on Feb. 15, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said. Two Indian coast guard ships were sent to help the refugees, and the Indian government is in discussions with Bangladesh to ensure their safe return, Srivastava said.