Hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump descended on the nation’s capital Tuesday to cheer his baseless claims of election fraud a day before a congressional vote to affirm Joe Biden’s victory.
Just blocks from the White House, protesters, many without masks, gathered in Freedom Plaza to decry the vote in the Electoral College. As temperatures dropped to the low 40s and a steady rain swept onto the streets, hundreds remained in the plaza into nightfall.
“I’m just here to support the president,” said David Wideman, a 45-year-old firefighter who traveled from Memphis, Tennessee.
Wideman acknowledged he was “confused” by a string of losses from the president’s legal team in their attempt to overturn the results of the election and didn’t know what options Trump had left.
“I not sure what he can do at this point, but I want to hear what he has to say,” Wideman said.
Trump tweeted his support for the protesters: “Washington is being inundated with people who don’t want to see an election victory stolen by emboldened Radical Left Democrats. Our Country has had enough, they won’t take it anymore! We hear you (and love you) from the Oval Office. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
The president was expected to personally address his supporters in Washington on Wednesday during a rally on the Ellipse, just south of the White House. The protests coincide with Wednesday’s congressional vote expected to certify the Electoral College results, which Trump continues to dispute.
The rallies had local officials and law enforcement bracing for potential violent street clashes. Many businesses in downtown Washington boarded up their windows, fearful that the protest could devolve into the unrest seen in May and June when dozens of businesses were vandalised.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser called in National Guard troops to help bolster the city’s police force. She urged residents to stay away from downtown Washington and to avoid confrontations with anyone who is “looking for a fight.” But, she warned, “we will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city.”
Election officials from both political parties, governors in key battleground states and Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have said there was no widespread fraud in the election. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two challenges rejected by the Supreme Court.
A pro-Trump rally Dec 12 ended in violence as hundreds of Trump supporters, wearing the signature black and yellow of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, sought out confrontations with a collective of local activists attempting to bar them from Black Lives Matter Plaza, an area near the White House. At least two local Black churches had Black Lives Matter banners torn down and set ablaze.On Monday, police arrested the leader of the Proud Boys, Henry Enrique Tarrio, 36, after he arrived in Washington ahead of this week’s protests. Tarrio was accused of burning one of the Black Lives Matter banners in December and was found with two high-capacity firearm magazines, police said. A judge signed an order Tuesday banning Tarrio from entering the District of Columbia, with very limited exceptions related to his criminal case.
The US House of Representatives has voted in favour of increasing the aid sent to individuals under the new coronavirus stimulus package from $600 (£445) to $2,000.
The Democratic-led House passed the bill with the support of more than 40 Republican members.
President Donald Trump has championed the increased payments.
However, the bigger relief package is likely to struggle in the Republican-led Senate.
In another development on Monday, the House also voted to override President Trump’s veto of a $740bn defence bill that was passed by Congress earlier this month. That bill also now moves to the Senate.
Although Democrats have a narrow majority in the House, Monday’s votes both required two-thirds support to pass.
On boosting the stimulus cheques, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Republicans had a choice – “vote for this legislation, or vote to deny the American people the bigger paycheques that they need”.
But many Republicans were concerned about the financial burden of increased payments.
“For me, I worry that this whopping $463bn won’t do what’s needed – stimulate the economy, or get the jobless back to work,” said senior Republican Representative Kevin Brady.
The House finally voted 275-134 in favour of the higher payments.
President Trump belatedly signed the coronavirus relief and spending package bill into law late on Sunday. The move averted a partial government shutdown.
But even as he put his name on the bill he called for the stimulus cheques to increase to $2,000, saying he wanted “far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people”.
The $900bn (£665bn) relief package is part of a $2.3tn bill that includes $1.4tn for normal federal government funding.
Republican and Democratic Party lawmakers had been pleading with him to sign it before a budget deadline of midnight on Monday. If he had not, about 14 million Americans faced a lapse in unemployment benefit payments and new stimulus cheques.
The House vote to override Mr Trump’s veto of the defence bill saw even more Republicans break with the president to see it pass by 322 to 87.
Republican Representative Mac Thornberry said he would “only ask that as members vote, they put the best interests of the country first”.
Mr Trump blocked the legislation despite it gaining strong bipartisan support. He complained it would limit troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Europe and lead to the removal of Confederate leaders’ names from US military bases.
He called the 4,500-page act, which had been nearly a year in the making, a “gift to China and Russia”.
The Senate will vote on Tuesday and again a majority of two thirds will be required to reverse Mr Trump’s decision.
If Congress does not override Mr Trump’s veto in this case, it would be the first time in 60 years that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) does not become law.
A Chinese tycoon who died on Christmas Day was poisoned, Shanghai police say.
Lin Qi, 39, was the chairman and chief executive of games developer Yoozoo, best known for the Game of Thrones: Winter Is Coming strategy game.
The Shanghai police statement pointed to one of Mr Lin’s colleagues – identified only by his surname Xu – as the main suspect.
Mr Lin was believed to have a net worth of around 6.8bn yuan (US$1bn, £780m), according to the Hurun China Rich List.
Many employees and ex-employees gathered outside Yoozoo’s office on Friday to mourn his death.
The company also issued an emotional statement on its official Weibo microblog.
“Goodbye youth,” it said, adding, “We will be together, continue to be kind, continue to believe in goodness, and continue the fight against all that is bad.”
The post attracted thousands of comments while the topic has been viewed more than 290 million times on Weibo.
President Donald Trump has turned to a fringe group of advisers peddling increasingly dubious tactics to overturn the results of the election, creating a dire situation that multiple senior officials and people close to the President say has led to new levels of uncertainty at how Trump will resist the coming end to his tenure.
China’s Chang’e-5 mission has returned to Earth with the cargo of rock and “soil” it picked up off the Moon.
A capsule carrying the materials landed in Inner Mongolia shortly after 01:30 local time on Thursday (17:30 GMT, Wednesday).
It’s more than 40 years since the American Apollo and Soviet Luna missions brought their samples home.
The new specimens should provide fresh insight on the geology and early history of Earth’s satellite.
For China, the successful completion of the Chang’e-5 venture will also be seen as another demonstration of the nation’s increasing capability in space.
Recovery teams were quick to move in on the returned capsule. It was first spotted by helicopters using infrared cameras. Support staff following up in SUVs planted a Chinese flag in the snow-covered grassland next to the module.
The Chang’e-5 venture was launched at the end of November.
A probe comprising several elements was sent into orbit around the Moon. These elements then separated, with one half going down to the lunar surface.
The lander system used a scoop and a drill to dig up samples. It’s not clear how much, but possibly in the range of 2-4kg.
An ascent vehicle subsequently carried the materials back into lunar orbit where they were transferred to an Earth-return module. This was shepherded home by a fourth element and released just before it had to make the fiery descent through Earth’s atmosphere.
Returning from the Moon, the Chang’e-5 module would have been moving much faster than, say, a capsule coming back from the International Space Station.
Engineers had chosen to scrub some of this extra energy by doing an initial “skip” in the atmosphere. This saw the module briefly dip into the gases that shroud our planet, before then plunging much deeper to try to reach Earth’s surface.
The Chang’e-5 capsule was targeted to float down on parachute to Siziwang Banner in Inner Mongolia. This is the same location used to bring Chinese astronauts home.
Again, infrared cameras were on hand to follow the action by detecting the heat of the module.
In the early hours of Saturday 11 January, Prof Teresa Lambe was woken up by the ping of her email. The information she had been waiting for had just arrived in her inbox: the genetic code for a new coronavirus, shared worldwide by scientists in China.
She got to work straight away, still in her pyjamas, and was glued to her laptop for the next 48 hours. “My family didn’t see me very much that weekend, but I think that set the tone for the rest of the year,” she says.
By Monday morning, she had it: the template for a new experimental coronavirus vaccine. The first death from the new virus was reported around the same time, but it was still a month before the disease it causes was named Covid-19.
Lambe’s team at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, led by Prof Sarah Gilbert, was always on the lookout for Disease X – the name given to the unknown infectious agent that could trigger the next pandemic. They had already used their experimental vaccine system against malaria and flu and, crucially, against another type of coronavirus, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (Mers). So they were confident it could work again.
That weekend was the first step on a journey to create a vaccine at lightning speed, for a disease that would, in a matter of months, claim more than 1.5 million lives. I have been following the efforts of the Oxford scientists since the start. There have been dramas along the way, including:
In the middle of January Prof Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, which runs clinical trials, shared a taxi with a modeller who worked for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. During the journey, the scientist told him data suggested there was going to be a pandemic not unlike the 1918 flu.
“I went from someone who was aware of a small outbreak in China, which was of academic interest, to realising that it was going to change our lives. It was a chilling moment,” Pollard says.
Pollard got in touch with Gilbert and found her team at the Jenner Institute was already working on a vaccine. They agreed to collaborate on a clinical trial.
By February the virus had spread to more than two dozen countries, including the UK and the US. There had been more than 1,000 deaths in China.
But getting funding for trials was still a struggle. It was all Gilbert thought about, getting up at 04:00 to “write the grant application trying to persuade somebody that money I’d been awarded for a different project would actually be better spent on this project,” she says.