The Senate has voted 56 to 44 to proceed with the impeachment trial of Donald Trump for inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Six Republicans joined Democrats rejecting arguments from Trump’s defense team that it is unconstitutional for a former president to face an impeachment trial.
The Democratic House impeachment managers opened the day with a dramatic 13-minute video montage from January 6 featuring Trump’s remarks and graphic scenes of rioters attacking police officers and breaking into the Capitol, where lawmakers were preparing to count Electoral College votes. This is House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin.
Rep. Jamie Raskin: “You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our Constitution. That’s a high crime and misdemeanor. If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing.”
Around one in every 10 U.S. residents has now gotten at least their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, with close to 10 million fully vaccinated. New daily cases continue to trend downward, though the number of variant cases in the U.S. has surged by nearly 75% over the past week, and public health experts warn the U.S. could still see fresh surges if the spread of new variants outpaces the rate of vaccinations and people ease up on other protective measures. The U.S. government said Tuesday it will start sending COVID-19 vaccines to community health centers, which predominantly serve lower-income communities and communities of color.
The Food and Drug Administration has authorized Eli Lilly’s combination antibody drug for emergency use. The treatment can help prevent high-risk COVID-19 patients from developing severe forms of the disease and is expected to be better able to combat new coronavirus mutations.
A World Health Organization team probing the origins of COVID-19 confirmed the virus likely originated in a yet-to-be-identified animal before infecting humans and was not leaked from a laboratory.
Peter Ben Embarek: “The possible path from whatever original animal species all the way through the Huanan market could have taken a very long and convoluted path involving also movements across borders, travels, etc., before arriving in the Huanan market.”
In Ghana, Parliament was forced to shut down for several weeks after a COVID-19 outbreak infected at least 17 lawmakers and over 150 staffers.
In Burma, protesters continue to take to the streets against the military coup which overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi last week. Massive crowds have defied a ban on demonstrations and escalating attacks from the police, who fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons, as well as rounds of live ammunition at protesters. One woman was left in critical condition Tuesday.
In news from India, journalists and press freedom groups around the world are condemning the crackdown by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the progressive news site NewsClick, after authorities raided their New Delhi offices Tuesday. The homes of NewsClick’s directors and editors were also raided. The news site has been closely covering the historic farmworkers’ uprising, which has brought Modi’s neoliberal policies under international scrutiny.
The State Department said Tuesday the U.S. will continue to push for the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from Britain. Last month, a U.K. judge blocked Assange’s extradition, citing serious mental health concerns. Assange was indicted for violations of the Espionage Act related to the publication of classified documents exposing U.S. war crimes. He faces up to 175 years in prison if brought to the U.S.
On Monday, a coalition of prominent international rights groups called on the Biden administration to drop charges against Assange. “We are deeply concerned about the way that a precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be leveraged — perhaps by a future administration — against publishers and journalists of all stripes,” they wrote.
A new report finds fossil fuel pollution was responsible for 8.7 million, or one in five, global deaths in 2018 — far higher than previously thought. The study, conducted by Harvard and other universities, found regions with the highest concentrations of particulate matter from fossil fuels had the worst mortality rates and include China and India, as well as eastern North America and Europe.
In related news, a report released Tuesday by the Natural Resource Governance Institute says state-owned fossil fuel companies plan to invest $1.9 trillion over the next decade in projects that would make it impossible to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals.
Calls are mounting for President Biden to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline, after a federal appeals court last month upheld a lower court’s ruling that the pipeline is operating illegally. Indigenous youth braved subzero temperatures Tuesday to run a 93-mile relay to the site of the 2016 #NoDAPL protests, to draw attention to the issue and call on Biden to shut down the pipeline. Indigenous activists Phyllis Young and Chase Iron Eyes with the Lakota People’s Law Project addressed President Biden in a new video.
Phyllis Young: “The court has decided, at every level, that it is illegal. And the truth has prevailed.”
Chase Iron Eyes: “We are fighting for our spirit and our lives, that the human-caused climate catastrophe threatens not only everyone who’s alive at this very moment, but all of our children.”
Last week, five Democratic lawmakers asked Biden in a letter to shut down DAPL, writing, “By shutting down this illegal pipeline, you can continue to show your administration values the environment and the rights of Indigenous communities more than the profits of outdated fossil fuel industries.” Meanwhile, over 200 prominent activists, Indigenous leaders and celebrities urged the Biden administration to shut down DAPL in a letter published Monday. A court hearing scheduled for today to determine whether the pipeline must be shut down during its environmental review was canceled.
In labor and education news, Chicago teachers approved a plan to return to in-person teaching. Some teachers and students are expected to return to classrooms as soon as this week, with a staggered reentry for pre-K through eighth grade. No date has been set for reopening high schools yet. The agreement between the Chicago Teachers Union and the school district also calls for an increased allotment of vaccines for teachers, improved ventilation in schools, and better contact tracing protocols.
In related news, the White House said Tuesday the administration is aiming to have over 50% of schools hold at least one day of in-person teaching per week within its first 100 days, rather than the much more ambitious goal Biden announced in December of reopening “a majority of our schools” within his first 100 days.
In Louisiana, four police officers have been arrested for their involvement in cases of police brutality. In 2019, Ronald Greene, a Black man, died in state police custody after he was choked, beaten and jolted repeatedly with a stun gun by state troopers. Federal authorities have also launched their own investigation into Greene’s killing. Other charges stem from a May 2020 car chase and arrest, when officers reportedly deactivated their body cameras and falsified use-of-force and arrest reports.
Two prominent journalists at The New York Times have left the newspaper after recent revelations of improper behavior. Veteran reporter Donald McNeil Jr. was recently called out for using the N-word and making racist and sexist comments on a work-related trip with high school students.
Meanwhile, Andy Mills, co-creator and co-host of the podcast “Caliphate,” resigned after allegations surfaced of inappropriate behavior toward female colleagues when he previously worked at WNYC. “Caliphate,” a hit podcast about life inside the Islamic State, came under fire recently after the Times admitted it contained major inaccuracies, causing the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind its status as a 2019 prize finalist.