Today is the first anniversary of the January 6 deadly insurrection, when supporters of Donald Trump attacked the Capitol in a bid to overturn the 2020 election. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are addressing the nation today. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will lay out “the singular responsibility President Trump has for the chaos and carnage that we saw.” On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed to continue investigating the insurrection. He said so far 725 rioters have been arrested and charged.
Attorney General Merrick Garland: “The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
In related news, Trump’s former Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham met Wednesday with the House select committee investigating the insurrection.
Former President Jimmy Carter has issued a stark warning on the anniversary of the Capitol insurrection. In a new op-ed in The New York Times, the 39th president warns about right-wing attacks on the country’s electoral system and the spread of disinformation. Carter writes, “Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss. Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy.” Jimmy Carter is now 97 years old and the longest-living former president in U.S. history.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed giving Pfizer booster shots to children between the ages of 12 and 15 as COVID cases continue to skyrocket amid the Omicron surge. The United States has reported an average of nearly 600,000 new COVID cases a day over the past week — by far the highest anywhere in the world. Hospitalizations continue to rise but are still lower than during the surge last winter. The surge is leading to a growing number of public events being canceled across the globe. The Grammy Awards have been postponed. The Sundance Film Festival has canceled in-person screenings. Brazilian officials in Rio de Janeiro have canceled the Carnival street parade for a second year in a row. And Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise are canceling new cruises. Meanwhile, in Chicago, schools are closed again for a second day following a vote by the Chicago Teachers Union to teach remotely.
Police in Kazakhstan have killed dozens of protesters who took to the streets in the largest demonstrations since the oil-rich former Soviet republic became an independent nation three decades ago. There are reports as many as 1,000 people have been injured in the police crackdown. The Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization is now sending in troops to help Kazakh security forces after protesters in the city of Almaty set the presidential palace and mayor’s office ablaze. State media in Kazakhstan is reporting 12 members of the Kazakh security forces have been killed during the unrest, which began as a protest against rising fuel prices.
North Korea is claiming it carried out a successful hypersonic missile test. State media said the missile hit a target more than 400 miles away. North Korea carried out a similar test in September. While the Biden administration condemned North Korea’s test, the U.S. is spending billions of dollars investing in hypersonic missile technology — as are Russia and China.
In Chile, members of the constitutional assembly have elected epidemiologist María Elisa Quinteros as its new president. The assembly is tasked with writing Chile’s new constitution, which will replace the current document created under the U.S.-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet. Quinteros spoke after the vote.
María Elisa Quinteros: “Thank you with all my heart. I hope we can guide this process with wisdom, understanding and strength, that we can unite every sector in favor of what we need for the country, for the peoples of Chile. Unity, transformation, peace and justice.”
Incoming Chilean President Gabriel Boric welcomed the news and said he looked forward to collaborating on his nation’s new constitution. It is expected to include major reforms addressing social and economic inequalities, the environment and Indigenous rights.
In Philadelphia, at least 12 people died Wednesday, including eight children, in the city’s deadliest fire in over a century. The dead included two sisters and several of their children. The blaze occurred in a row house owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. As many as 26 people were inside the building when the fire began. Authorities say none of the building’s four smoke detectors went off when it started.
Lawyers for convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell have asked a federal judge for a new trial after two jurors revealed they were survivors of sexual abuse and had talked about it during jury deliberations. Maxwell faces up to 65 years in prison for helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit and sexually assault teenage girls.
The Pentagon is building what The New York Times has described as a new secret courtroom for the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo. While President Biden has promised to close the prison, the military is spending $4 million on the new courtroom, which is being built without a gallery for journalists and other members of the public to view proceedings. This month marks 20 years since the opening of Guantánamo, where the U.S. still holds 39 men — most of whom have never been charged with a crime. The group Witness Against Torture plans to hold a rally outside the White House on Tuesday, January 11, to mark the anniversary.
In California, state investigators have concluded the utility company Pacific Gas & Electric is responsible for last year’s massive Dixie Fire, which burned over 1 million acres and destroyed over 1,300 homes. Investigators say the fire began after a tree fell on electricity lines owned and operated by the company. Two years ago, PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the company’s role in causing the deadly 2018 Camp Fire.
The new district attorney of Manhattan has announced a plan to reduce the number of people in jail by not prosecuting some nonviolent offenses, including marijuana misdemeanors, fare evasion on city buses and trains, traffic offenses and sex work. Alvin Bragg, who is Manhattan’s first Black district attorney, ran on a platform calling for criminal justice reform. In a memo to staff, Bragg wrote that “reserving incarceration for matters involving significant harm will make us safer.”
Investigations are continuing after nine historically Black colleges and universities received bomb threats on Tuesday. Campuses were evacuated or put on lockdown, but no bombs were found. Schools targeted included Spelman College in Atlanta and Howard University in Washington, D.C.
In California, a man has been arrested for attacking a COVID vaccination clinic outside of Los Angeles. Thomas Apollo reportedly entered the mobile clinic and started punching two workers, accusing them of being “murderers” who were “making people sick.” The clinic was run by the group Families Together of Orange County. One of the workers sustained serious injuries and was sent to a hospital in an ambulance.
Australian authorities detained Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic at a Melbourne airport after his visa was revoked amid outcry over a COVID vaccine exemption he received so he could play in the Australian Open. The number one-ranked men’s tennis player and defending champion had announced the vaccine exemption earlier this week, but a day later Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his visa had been canceled, saying, “No one is above the rules.” Djokovic has been transferred to a Melbourne immigration hotel for now. Australia has been experiencing a record-breaking COVID surge.
In news from England, four antiracist activists who toppled the statue of a slave trader in Bristol in June 2020 have been cleared of criminal charges. The four activists were arrested for pulling down a statue of Edward Colston and then throwing it in the river. The activists celebrated on Wednesday after being found not guilty.
Sage Willoughby: “And this is a victory for Bristol. This is a victory for racial equality. And it’s a victory for anyone who wants to be on the right side of history. Thank you, everyone. You’re all amazing.”
Outcry is growing over former Prime Minister Tony Blair becoming a knight with the highest possible ranking. More than 750,000 people have signed a petition calling for his knighthood to be rescinded due to his key support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The petition states, “He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts. For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes.”
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has issued a posthumous pardon to Homer Plessy, who was the plaintiff in the landmark 1896 U.S. Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson that upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine. Plessy was a Black man who was arrested in 1892 for refusing to leave a “whites only” passenger car of the East Louisiana Railroad. Governor Bel Edwards spoke Wednesday in New Orleans.
Gov. John Bel Edwards: “The cause of the pardon that we gather today to celebrate unfortunately isn’t limited to righting a historical wrong. The pernicious effects of Plessy linger still. In terms of race relations, equality and justice, we are not where we should be. And quite frankly, we’re not where we would have been, had at least four other justices had the same fidelity to the Constitution.”