Israel President To Visit US Within Weeks

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin delivers a speech during a ceremony marking one year since the death of the late Israeli President Shimon Peres on September 14, 2017 at the Mt. Herzel cemetery in Jerusalem. Gali TIBBON / AFP

 

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin is to visit Washington within weeks, his office said Wednesday, in the first such trip by a high-ranking Israeli official to meet US President Joe Biden.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken extended the invitation to Rivlin as they met on the second day of a Middle East tour aimed at shoring up a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that rules Gaza.

“Secretary Blinken conveyed President Biden’s invitation to visit the United States before the end of his term of office” on July 5, the president’s office said in a statement.

File photo:  U.S. President Joe Biden listens during a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate with 40 world leaders in the East Room of the White House on April 22, 2021, in Washington, DC. Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

Rivlin, whose post is largely ceremonial and cannot be renewed, “accepted the invitation and asked Blinken to convey to the president that he will gladly visit before his presidency ends”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Police Officer Convicted Of Floyd’s Murder Seeks New Trial

Blinken met Rivlin before travelling on to Egypt and Jordan.

During his visit, the top US diplomat reiterated support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks by Hamas, which he said must not benefit from the aid effort to rebuild the coastal enclave of Gaza.

Eleven days of Israeli air strikes and artillery fire on Gaza since May 10 killed 254 Palestinians, including 66 children as well as fighters, authorities in Gaza say.

Rocket and other fire from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel, including one child and an Arab-Israeli teenager, an Israeli soldier, one Indian national and two Thai workers, medics say.

AFP

Boeing Calls For Grounding Of Some 777s After Denver Engine Fire

An American Airlines Boeing 777 passenger plane is seen over the Courtyard by Marriott London Heathrow Airport hotel taking off from London Heathrow Airport in west London on February 14, 2021. 
An American Airlines Boeing 777 passenger plane is seen over the Courtyard by Marriott London Heathrow Airport hotel taking off from London Heathrow Airport in west London on February 14, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Boeing called for the grounding of 128 of its 777 planes across the world on Sunday as US regulators investigated a United Airlines flight whose engine caught fire and fell apart over a suburban American community.

United, Korean Air, and Japan’s two main airlines confirmed they had already suspended operations of 62 planes fitted with the same family of engines which scattered debris over Denver on Saturday.

The US National Transportation and Safety Board is also investigating the incident, in which no one was hurt.

Boeing warned similarly fitted planes should be taken out of service until the Federal Aviation Authority had determined an inspection procedure.

“While the NTSB investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines,” the company said.

Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) said they had respectively grounded 13 and 19 planes using PW4000 engines but had avoided flight cancelations by using other aircraft.

The Japanese transport ministry said it had ordered stricter inspections of the engine after a JAL 777 plane flying from Haneda to Naha experienced trouble with “an engine in the same family” in December.

United said it had voluntarily removed 24 Boeing 777 planes from service and expected “only a small number of customers to be inconvenienced.”

South Korea’s transport ministry said it had no immediate plans to ground planes, adding it was monitoring the situation.

But Korean Air, the country’s largest airline and flag carrier, said it had grounded all six of its Boeing 777s with PW4000 engines currently in operation.

“We have decided to ground all our PW 4000 powered 777s, and we expect the FAA’s updated protocol soon,” the company told AFP in an emailed statement.

The FAA earlier ordered extra inspections of some passenger jets.

Steve Dickson, the head of the regulator, said he had consulted with experts and that some airplanes would “likely” be removed from service.

“I have directed them to issue an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines,” he said in a statement.

Dickson added that a preliminary safety data review pointed to a need for additional checks of the jet engine’s fan blades, which were unique to the engine model and only used on 777 planes.

Officials from the FAA were meeting with Pratt & Whitney and Boeing representatives on Sunday evening, he added.

Fresh blow for Boeing

Flight UA328 had been headed from Denver to Honolulu when it experienced an engine failure shortly after departure.

Residents in the Denver suburb of Broomfield found large pieces of the plane scattered around their community.

No one onboard or on the ground was injured.

But the engine failure marks a fresh blow for Boeing after several high-profile aviation accidents.

The manufacturer’s 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after 346 people died in two crashes — the 2019 Lion Air disaster in Indonesia and an Ethiopian Airlines crash the following year.

Investigators said a main cause of both crashes was a faulty flight handling system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

Boeing was forced to revamp the system and implement new pilot training protocols.

The 737 MAX was a big hit with airlines, becoming Boeing’s fastest-selling aircraft until its grounding, which has now been lifted.

After the Covid-19 crisis decimated demand, airlines canceled hundreds of orders for the plane.

Global Trial Shows Johnson & Johnson’s Single-Shot Vaccine Is 66% Effective

 

Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid-19 vaccine has an overall efficacy of 66 percent, the company announced Friday, following results from a phase 3 trial of almost 44,000 people across many countries.

The figure however was as high as 72 percent in the United States but went down to 57 percent in South Africa, where a more transmissible variant is dominant.

The company added that the vaccine was 85 percent effective in preventing severe Covid-19 across all geographical regions.

“We’re proud to have reached this critical milestone and our commitment to address this global health crisis continues with urgency for everyone, everywhere,” the company’s CEO Alex Gorsky said.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: We Hope To Have Vaccines Before End Of First Quarter – Dr Muhammad

The company is quickly expected to apply for a US emergency authorization, and could therefore soon be the third vaccine available in the world’s hardest-hit country.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were the first to be authorized in the US, and both have efficacies of around 95 percent.

But the comparisons are not considered like-for-like, because those trials reported results before newer, more transmissible mutations of the virus became dominant in some parts of the world.

These variants, such as B.1.135 in South Africa and P.1 in Brazil, elude some of the blocking action of antibodies triggered from vaccines made against the common strain of the coronavirus.

The fact that the J&J vaccine requires only one shot, and can be stored for up to three months at 2-8 degrees Celsius, give it major logistical advantages over the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. These two are based on mRNA technology and require deep freezing.

Inauguration: Biden To Sign Executive Orders On Day One Amid High Alert

US President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 25, 2020. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP
File photo: US President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 25, 2020. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP

 

Joe Biden’s top aide said Saturday the incoming president would sign about a dozen executive orders on his first day in office, as police fearing violence from Trump supporters staged a nationwide security operation ahead of the inauguration.

Authorities in Washington, where Wednesday’s inauguration will take place, said they arrested a man with a loaded handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition at a security checkpoint, underscoring the tension in the US capital which is resembling a war zone.

However, the man said it was “an honest mistake,” and that he was a private security guard who got lost on his way to work near the Capitol.

READ ALSO: Man With Gun, Over 500 Rounds Of Ammunition Arrested Near US Capitol

Incoming Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said in a memo to new White House senior staff that the executive orders would address the pandemic, the ailing US economy, climate change and racial injustice in America.

“All of these crises demand urgent action,” Klain said in the memo.

“In his first ten days in office, President-elect Biden will take decisive action to address these four crises, prevent other urgent and irreversible harms, and restore America’s place in the world,” Klain added.

As he inherits the White House from Donald Trump, Biden’s plate is overflowing with acute challenges.

 

This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

The US is fast approaching 400,000 dead from the Covid-19 crisis and logging well over a million new cases a week as the coronavirus spreads out of control.

The economy is ailing, with 10 million fewer jobs available compared to the start of the pandemic. And millions of Americans who back Trump refuse to recognize Biden as the legitimate president.

Biden this week unveiled plans to seek $1.9 trillion to revive the economy through new stimulus payments and other aid, and plans a blitz to accelerate America’s stumbling Covid vaccine rollout effort.

On Inauguration Day Biden, as previously promised, will sign orders including ones for the US to rejoin the Paris climate accord and reverse Trump’s ban on entry of people from certain Muslim majority countries, Klain said.

“President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward,” Klain said.

– 500 rounds of ammunition –
Meanwhile, Washington was under a state of high alert after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6. The assault left five people dead, including a police officer.

Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists, possibly carrying explosives, pose a threat to Washington as well as state capitals over the coming week.

Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed in Washington and streets have been blocked off downtown with concrete barriers.

On Friday night, police arrested a Virginia man at a security checkpoint where he tried to use an “unauthorized” credential to access the restricted area where Biden will be inaugurated.

As officers checked the credential, one noticed decals on the back of Wesley Beeler’s pick-up truck that said “Assault Life,” with an image of a rifle, and another with the message: “If they come for your guns, give ’em your bullets first,” according to a document filed in Washington, DC Superior Court.

Under questioning, Beeler told officers he had a Glock handgun in the vehicle. A search uncovered a loaded handgun, more than 500 rounds of ammunition, shotgun shells and a magazine for the gun, the court document said.

Beeler was arrested on charges including possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.

“It was an honest mistake,” Beeler told The Washington Post after being released from jail.

“I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in DC because I’m a country boy,” he said. “I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me.”

Beeler told the newspaper he works as a private security guard near the Capitol, and presented a credential provided by his employer.

 

Flags and a podium are in place as preparations are made ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 16, 2021.ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP

 

He said he was licensed to carry his gun in Virginia, but forgot to take it out of his car before leaving home for his overnight shift in Washington.

Prosecutors did not object to Beeler’s release from jail, the Washington Post said, though he was ordered to stay out of Washington except for court-related matters.

In addition to the heavy security presence in the US capital, law enforcement was out in force at statehouses around the country to ward off potential political violence.

Mass protests that had been planned for the weekend did not materialize on Saturday, with security far outnumbering Trump supporters at several fortified capitols, US media reported.

In St Paul, Minnesota, for example, hundreds of law enforcement officers, some armed with long guns, ringed the Capitol with National Guard troops providing backup.

The number of protesters totaled about 50.

AFP

YouTube Suspends Trump Channel For A Week Over Violence Fears

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. U.S.  Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

Google-owned YouTube on Tuesday temporarily suspended President Donald Trump’s channel and removed a video for violating its policy against inciting violence, joining other social media platforms in banning his accounts after last week’s Capitol riot.

Trump’s access to the social media platforms he has used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington DC last week.

Operators say the embittered leader could use his accounts to foment more unrest in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“In light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” YouTube said in a statement.

The channel is now “temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a ‘minimum’ of 7 days,” the statement read.

The video-sharing platform also said it will be “indefinitely disabling comments” on Trump’s channel because of safety concerns.

Facebook last week suspended Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following the violent invasion of the US Capitol, which temporarily disrupted the certification of Biden’s election victory.

In announcing the suspension last week, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Trump used the platform to incite violent and was concerned he would continue to do so.

Twitter went a step further by deleting Trump’s account, depriving him of his favorite platform. It was already marking his tweets disputing the election outcome with warnings.

The company also deleted more than 70,000 accounts linked to the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims, without any evidence, that Trump is waging a secret war against a global cabal of satanist liberals.

Trump also was hit with suspensions by services like Snapchat and Twitch.

The president’s YouTube account has amassed 2.77 million subscribers.

The home page of the Trump channel featured a month-old video of Trump casting doubt on the voting process in November’s presidential election, and had logged some 5.8 million views.

On Tuesday, an activist group called on YouTube to join other platforms in dumping Trump’s accounts, threatening an advertising boycott campaign.

AFP

US Carries Out First Federal Execution Of Woman In Decades

 

 

An American woman who murdered a pregnant dog breeder in order to steal her baby was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday, becoming the first female to be executed by US federal authorities in nearly seven decades.

The US Justice Department said Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 am Eastern Time (0631 GMT) at a penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

It said the execution was “in accordance with the capital sentence unanimously recommended by a federal jury and imposed by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri”.

The US Supreme Court cleared the way for Montgomery’s execution just hours earlier — despite doubts about her mental state — after the government of President Donald Trump had pushed for the application of the death penalty.

Montgomery’s defenders did not deny the seriousness of her crime: in 2004, she killed a pregnant 23-year-old in order to steal her baby.

But her lawyer Kelley Henry, in a statement, called the decision — the first for a female inmate since 1953 — a “vicious, unlawful, and unnecessary exercise of authoritarian power.”

“The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight,” Henry said. “Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame.”

The execution came after a legal back-and-forth that ended with the country’s highest court allowing it to proceed.

Unable to have a child, Montgomery carefully identified her victim — 23-year-old dog breeder Bobbie Jo Stinnett — online.

Under the guise of buying a puppy, Montgomery went to Stinnett’s home, where she strangled her and cut the baby from her body.

In 2007 she was convicted of kidnapping resulting in death and handed a death sentence.

Her defenders believe that she suffered from severe mental health issues stemming from abuse she suffered as a child. She did not understand the meaning of her sentence, they said, a prerequisite for execution.

On Monday evening, a federal judge offered the defense a brief lifeline, ordering a stay of execution to allow time to assess Montgomery’s mental state.

“The record before the Court contains ample evidence that Ms. Montgomery’s current mental state is so divorced from reality that she cannot rationally understand the government’s rationale for her execution,” the ruling stated.

But an appeals court overturned that decision on Tuesday, leaving it up to the US Supreme Court to decide. It said the execution could go ahead.

– Clemency plea ignored –
Trump, like his many of his conservative constituents, is a strong supporter of the death penalty and ignored a plea for clemency from Montgomery’s supporters.

Despite the decline of capital punishment in the US and around the world, Trump’s administration resumed federal executions in July after a 17-year hiatus and has been carrying them out at an unprecedented rate ever since.

Since the summer, 10 Americans have died by lethal injection in Terre Haute. In addition to Montgomery, two men are scheduled for federal execution this week. Their executions were stayed on Tuesday due to them having contracted Covid-19.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin on Monday announced the introduction of legislation to end federal executions. It could be passed once president-elect Joe Biden takes office next week and Democrats regain control of the Senate.

In a scathing statement, Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun known for her activism against the death penalty, spoke over the weekend of federal prosecutors “working all day and through the nights” to counter the appeals of federal inmates.

“You may not have to see the fear or smell the sweat in the execution chamber, but your hand is in this,” Prejean wrote, urging them to “just say ‘no’ this week to working to get one woman and two men executed the week before the Inauguration” of Biden.

Former guards of the penitentiary in Terre Haute have written to the Justice Department to request that the executions be postponed until the penitentiary staff are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Between the executioners, guards, witnesses, and lawyers, an execution assembles dozens of people in a closed environment, which is conducive to the spread of the virus.

US states, including the deeply conservative Texas, have suspended executions for months due to the pandemic — unlike the federal government, which has pushed to carry out many before Trump leaves power.

AFP

Biden Urged To Renounce Sole Control Of US Nuclear Weapons

US President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 25, 2020. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP
File photo: US President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 25, 2020. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP

 

 

A former US defense secretary has called on President-elect Joe Biden to reform the system that gives sole control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal to the president, calling it “outdated, unnecessary and extremely dangerous.”

The call from William Perry came the same day US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with the nation’s top military leader about ensuring that an “unhinged” President Donald Trump not be able to launch a nuclear attack in his final days in office.

“Once in office, Biden should announce he would share authority to use nuclear weapons with a select group in Congress,” said Perry, who served under President Bill Clinton.

He was writing in Politico magazine with Tom Collina of the Ploughshares Fund, which advocates for stronger nuclear controls.

They said Biden, who takes office January 20, should also declare that the United States will never start a nuclear war and would use the bomb only in retaliation.

The piece argues that the current system gives the president — any president — “the godlike power to deliver global destruction in an instant,” an approach the authors call “undemocratic, outdated, unnecessary and extremely dangerous.”

Perry, who was defense minister from 1994 to 1997, calls Trump “unhinged” and adds, “Do we really think that Trump is responsible enough to trust him with the power to end the world?”

American presidents are accompanied at all times by a military aide who carries a briefcase known as “the football” which contains the secret codes and information needed to launch a nuclear strike.

Perry and Collina warn that presidents possess the “absolute authority to start a nuclear war.

“Within minutes, Trump can unleash hundreds of atomic bombs, or just one. He does not need a second opinion. The Defense secretary has no say. Congress has no role.”

They then ask: “Why are we taking this risk?”

Such vast presidential authority, the article notes, dates from the waning days of World War II, when President Harry Truman decided, after the nuclear horror unleashed by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, that the power to order the use of atomic weapons should not be left in the hands of the military — that it should be up to the president alone.

AFP

Democrats Forge Ahead To Impeach Trump, Again

Republican and Democrats clap as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) commends Capitol Police and law enforcement for their work after Pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the Capitol in the House chamber on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pool/Getty Images/AFP
Republican and Democrats clap as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) commends Capitol Police and law enforcement for their work after Pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the Capitol in the House chamber on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

US Democrats said Sunday they would push to remove President Donald Trump from office during the final days of his administration after his supporters’ violent attack on the Capitol, with some Republicans supporting the move.

Trump could face a historic second impeachment before the January 20 inauguration of Democrat Joe Biden, at a time when the United States is hit by a surging pandemic, a flagging economy, and searing division.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said there would be a resolution on Monday calling for the cabinet to remove Trump as unfit for office under the Constitution’s 25th amendment.

If Vice President Mike Pence does not agree to invoke the amendment, “we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation” in the House, Pelosi said.

“As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action,” she added.

Trump was already impeached once by the Democratic-controlled House in December 2019 for pressuring the Ukrainian president to dig up political dirt on Biden.

He was acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate.

Though time is running short, Democrats likely have the votes in the House to impeach Trump again and could draw increased Republican support for the move.

But they are unlikely to muster the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump in the 100-member Senate and remove him from office.

‘Incitement to violence’

Authorities are seeking to arrest more Trump supporters who violently stormed the Capitol on Wednesday after the president held a rally outside the White House repeating false claims that he had lost the election to Biden due to fraud.

Trump’s immediate resignation “is the best path forward,” Republican Senator Pat Toomey told CNN on Sunday, adding, “That would be a very good outcome.”

Toomey said that since losing the November 3 vote, Trump had “descended into a level of madness and engaged in activity that was absolutely unthinkable, and unforgivable.”

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the first Republican senator to demand Trump’s resignation, saying, “I want him out.” House Republicans, including Adam Kinzinger on Sunday, have echoed that call.

The article of impeachment is set to charge Trump with inciting Wednesday’s violence, which left five people dead.

Hundreds of off-duty police on Sunday lined Constitution Avenue in Washington and saluted as a hearse rolled slowly by carrying the body of Brian Sicknick, the police officer who died in the attack on the Capitol.

Capitol security has been stepped up, with a seven-foot-tall (about two meters) black metal fence erected around the historic building. Extremists have threatened new action in the coming days both in Washington and state capitals.

Trump goes quiet

One reason Democrats might pursue conviction, even after Trump leaves office, is to prevent him from ever being able to run again for federal office.

The president is reportedly furious over Pence’s rejection of Trump’s vocal pressure to somehow intervene in the Congressional confirmation on Wednesday of the election result.

Trump has gone largely silent in recent days — making few statements and holding no news conferences. Twitter, his favored public platform, has banned him for language that could incite violence.

He plans to travel to Texas on Tuesday in one of his final trips as president to highlight his claims of building a border wall to keep immigrants from Mexico out of the US.

Senate rules mean the upper chamber would likely be unable to open an impeachment trial before January 19, and Toomey said he was unsure it was constitutionally possible to impeach someone once out of office.

Some Democrats, for their part, have expressed concern that a Senate trial would overshadow and hamper Biden’s efforts to quickly lay out his agenda, starting with the fight against the coronavirus and the need to support the economy.

“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days” at the start of his term to deal with the most urgent issues, Democratic House whip James Clyburn told CNN.

“Maybe we’ll send the articles sometime after that.”

But Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a centrist Democrat whose vote could be crucial in the new, evenly divided Senate, told CNN an impeachment after January 20 “doesn’t make any common sense whatsoever.”

AFP

Biden To Receive Second COVID Vaccine Dose Monday

President-elect Joe Biden (L) receives a COVID-19 Vaccination from nurse practitioner Tabe Masa at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital on December 21, 2020, in Newark, Delaware. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images/AFP

 

US President-elect Joe Biden will receive his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, his office announced, three weeks after his first injection was broadcast live on TV to boost public confidence in the jab.

Biden, 78, told Americans “there’s nothing to worry about” when he got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware on December 21.

His team said that his second jab would also be done in front of the media, without giving further details.

More than 374,000 people have died from the coronavirus in America, and Biden on Friday slammed President Donald Trump’s administration’s troubled distribution of vaccines as a “travesty.”

About 6.7 million Americans have so far received their first shot — far short of the target of 20 million by the end of 2020.

But 22.1 million doses have been distributed nationwide, underlining the logistical challenge of getting the injections administered to the elderly and health workers who are the priority.

Both vaccines currently authorized in the US, developed by Pfizer and Moderna, require recipients to receive booster shots after three and four weeks, respectively.

Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20, plans to release every available dose of vaccine, rather than holding back half to make sure people receive their booster shots on time as is the current protocol.

US Vice President Mike Pence To Attend Biden Inauguration – Reports

File photo of US Vice President Mike Pence. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Mike Pence will attend the upcoming inauguration of Joe Biden, multiple media reports said Saturday, the vice president becoming the latest longtime loyalist to abandon an increasingly isolated President Donald Trump.

Relations between Trump and Pence — previously one of the mercurial president’s staunchest defenders — have nosedived since Wednesday when the vice president formally announced Biden’s victory in November’s election.

A mob of far-right demonstrators stormed the US Capitol the same day in a failed bid to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s win, in a riot blamed on Trump that left five dead.

Multiple media reports on Saturday cited senior administration officials as saying that Pence — who was forced to take shelter from the intruders during the riot — had decided to attend Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

The president-elect earlier in the week said Pence would be welcome at his formal swearing-in, due to take place in a scaled-down format due to the coronavirus.

“I think it’s important that as much as we can stick to what have been the historical precedents of how an administration changes should be maintained,” Biden told reporters.

“We’d be honored to have him there, and to move forward in the transition.”

In his final tweet before being removed from Twitter on Friday, Trump said he would not attend the inauguration.

The outgoing president has been accused of provoking Wednesday’s violence, and now faces an unprecedented second impeachment, expected to begin on Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that Democrats would launch the process unless Trump resigned or Pence invoked the 25th Amendment, in which the cabinet removes the president from office.

While Pence has not spoken publicly on the subject, the New York Times reported Thursday he was against invoking the mechanism, never used before in US history.

15 Indicted By US Justice Department Over Capitol Violence

Police detain a person as supporters of US President Donald Trump’s protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification.
ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP

 

 

The US Justice Department announced Wednesday that it has indicted 15 people involved in the assault on Congress, including one man accused of possessing bombs made to act like “homemade napalm.”

The department said it had arrested several suspects, including Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump who invaded the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and another man found with 11 styrofoam-enhanced Molotov cocktails in his truck.

Others whose charges were unsealed include a man alleged to have entered the US Capitol with a loaded handgun, another who is accused of punching an officer, and a West Virginia state legislator who took part in storming the Congress, said Ken Cole, a federal prosecutor with the Washington US attorney’s office.

Cole said that not all the charges over Wednesday’s violence had been unsealed and that more were in the pipeline as the FBI investigates.

“This investigation has the highest priority,” he said, with “hundreds” of Justice Department investigators working the case.

More charges and arrests were expected.

Dozens of people were arrested and charged by local Washington police, but the charges announced by Cole Friday were on the federal level, and potentially carry heftier punishment.

But he said the FBI was not investigating anyone on possible “incitement” or “insurrection” charges.

Some people have called for Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and others to be charged with incitement for openly encouraging the president’s supporters to take action just hours before the mob stormed the Capitol.

“We don’t expect any charges of that nature,” Cole said.

Washington’s Capitol Building Fenced In After Riots

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. ALEX EDELMAN / AFP

 

Washington residents looked on in dismay Friday as crews finished erecting a metal fence around the Capitol building following deadly riots that saw President Donald Trump supporters raid the famous complex.

The approximately seven-foot-tall fence (about two meters) sealed off the entire Capitol grounds, the scene of Wednesday’s extraordinary events that saw hundreds of Trump loyalists ransack the American legislature.

“It’s just incredibly sad,” a local author who asked not to be named said as he snapped pictures of the black fence that had shuttered the area where he normally enjoys a morning walk.

“The fact that violent protesters decided to overthrow the democratic process. It’s a sad week for everyone here.”

Five people died as a result of Wednesday’s mayhem, including one woman who was shot dead and a Capitol Police officer who was pronounced dead from his injuries Thursday.

While the areas around the Capitol and the White House are typically closed off before an inauguration, two Capitol Police officers told AFP the tall metal fence had been erected in direct response to Wednesday’s chaos.

President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will take place on January 20.

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy has said the “nonscalable” fence would remain for at least 30 days.

Scores of National Guard troops and Capitol Police officers were milling around the Capitol complex, though the area was mostly deserted except for a handful of residents and news crews.

“Our hope is never gone,” one Trump supporter yelled at journalists.

The Capitol building is one of Washington’s most distinctive structures, known for its gleaming white dome that tops a grand, neoclassical rotunda.