WHAT NEXT FOR CAPITOL CHAOS?
The US Congress has formally certified Joe Biden’s presidential win after a siege by Trump supporters left four people dead. ABC reports that Donald Trump has announced there will be an “orderly transition” despite him encouraging the march on Capitol Hill and, mid-takeover, telling the far-right extremists to leave but that “we love you”.
One woman was shot dead as the militia attempted to storm a barricaded door, while two pipe bombs were found on the Capitol grounds — outside the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee respectively — along with a “long gun” and Molotov cocktail.
Biden has since named Barack Obama’s blocked-Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland for attorney-general. Yesterday’s events have led to calls for impeachment from some Democrats, although Congress will not sit until after inauguration, demands for Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump, including from at least one Republican, and resignations from White House staff.
The ramshackle coup attempt follows months of Trump’s entirely fabricated election conspiracy theories being validated not just by fellow Republicans — many of whom attempted to challenge Biden’s victories even post-siege — but many media voices, including, as Gizmodo explores, Australian counterparts such as George Christensen, Malcolm Roberts, Miranda Devine, and Sky News host Cory Bernadi.
PS: As SBS documents, some police officers in the Capitol were filmed taking selfies, opening barricades, and helping Trump supporters down stairs during the siege, whereas Black Lives Matter protesters were tear-gassed and shoved out of the way a few months back so Trump could hold up a big Bible.
See also, going back to 2014, the shooting death of Black woman Miriam Carey by Secret Service guards following a car chase from the White House to Capitol Hill.
PPS: Because yesterday wasn’t wild enough, ABC reports that an Iraqi court has issued an arrest warrant for Trump over the assassination of Iranian general Qassim Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
EXPERIENCING INTENSE STRAIN
A Queensland hotel quarantine worker has contracted the highly infectious UK COVID-19 strain, The Guardian explains, prompting state health authorities to lock down aged care facilities across Brisbane.
The government has since released a list of potential exposure sites:
- Train from Altandi station to Roma street, Sunnybank, Saturday January 2, 7am
- Train from Central Station to Altandi station, Brisbane City, Saturday January 2, 4pm
- Woolworths Calamvale, North Calamvale, Sunday January 3, 11am-12pm
- Coles Sunnybank Hills Shoppingtown, Sunnybank Hills, Tuesday January 5, 7.30-8am
- Nextra Sunnybank Hills Newsagent, Sunnybank Hills, Tuesday January 5, 8-8.15am.
The news comes after the Morrison government announced plans to bring forward vaccinations to February, with The Mandarin reporting of a target of 4 million immunised within 83 days. The national cabinet will meet today to discuss the vaccine rollout as well as new international travel rules, with South Australian Premier Steven Marshall to again push for pre-flight testing.
Elsewhere, The Age reports a mutant strain that scientists believe was a precursor to Britain’s variant escaped hotel quarantine in Victoria in June, amid the state’s second wave, but the public was not informed at the time because, in the words of a Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity virologist, “we did not want to spook people that we had a real problem with mutants here”.
PS: On the international side of things, Japan has declared a state of emergency for Tokyo; leaked projections warn London will run out of hospital beds within two weeks; China has locked down 11 million people in Shijiazhuang following the announcement of 51 new cases yesterday; and, while it may have been overshadowed in yesterday’s insanity, the US has clocked another daily record for COVID-19 deaths at 3865.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
[On whether Donald Trump bears responsibility for inciting violence in DC]: I’m not here to offer a running commentary on what should be happening in the United States … I’m not here to offer commentary on other world leaders, I don’t do that out of respect for those nations…
[On George Christensen peddling made-up allegations of ‘dodgy extra votes for Joe Biden‘]: Australia’s a free country. There’s such a thing as freedom of speech in this country, and that will continue.
While condemning the violent takeover of the US Capitol, Australia’s prime minister goes firmly limp on the conspiracy theories and lies that led to it.
“You fall asleep thinking about the exciting/boring news day ahead, when 11 US senators and up to 100 House members will challenge certified election results. All the procedural guff, ‘all that is required for evil to triumph…’, ‘Mr President I yield my time…’, blah blah blah, some bogus procedural coup aimed at the 2024 Republican primaries.
“And you wake, flick on The Washington Post, and see a horned protester in American flag body paint heading a mob forcing their way into the marble halls of the US Congress.
“God damn it, history actually happened. Protesters lolling in the Senate president’s chair, after the chamber was evacuated, rifling through people’s desks. Extraordinary scenes.”
“‘We will not take it anymore’. These were the words that started it all.
“Speaking to a rally in Washington DC, Donald Trump whipped his supporters into a frenzy, telling them he would ‘never give up’ and “never concede’.
“Less than two hours later they were violently storming the Capitol building, forcing politicians to flee and igniting a day of violence and upheaval commentators have compared to the Civil War.”
“As the hours passed, people began to wonder, where is Prime Minister Scott Morrison? There was no statement from him, nor from Foreign Minister Marise Payne. Eventually, after what felt like interminable silence, he managed a fairly tepid tweet at 9.40am:
Very distressing scenes at the US Congress. We condemn these acts of violence and look forward to a peaceful transfer of government to the newly elected administration in the great American democratic tradition.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Impeach and convict. Right now. — Bret Stephens (The New York Times): “It wasn’t hard to see, when it began, that it would end exactly the way it has. Donald Trump is America’s wilful arsonist, the man who lit the match under the fabric of our constitutional republic. The duty of the House of Representatives and the Senate, once they certify Joe Biden’s election, is to reconvene, Wednesday night if possible, to impeach the president and then remove him from office and bar him from ever holding office again.”
There’s a lot of blame to go around for the chaos in the Capitol, but some belongs to Australia — Emma Shortis (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Australia’s former ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, was widely praised for his diplomatic skill in facilitating the invitation and for how close he had managed to get to Trump. And while Hockey played golf with the President, Australian parliamentarians gleefully wore MAGA hats and appeared on conservative television, expressing their unqualified support for the white supremacist in the White House and spreading his misleading theories. There was no rebuke from their leader.”
Social media giants have finally confronted Trump’s lies. But why wait until there was a riot in the Capitol? — Timothy Graham (The Conversation): “Amid the chaos in the US Capitol, stoked largely by rhetoric from President Donald Trump, Twitter has locked his account, with 88.7 million followers, for 12 hours. Facebook and Instagram quickly followed suit, locking Trump’s accounts — with 35.2 million followers and 24.5 million, respectively — for 24 hours.”
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