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We cover Chaos in Washington, a win for Democrats in the US Senate and relaxation in British political backbiting.
Legislators were evacuated in a mess that shook the core of American democracy before police, reinforced by members of the FBI and the National Guard in tactical gear, retook the Capitol complex after more than three hours. A woman who was shot dead in the Capitol died, police officers said. No information was released about who could have shot her.
Both chambers of Congress resumed the polling yesterday evening and waived many of the previously planned objections. Vice President Mike Pence had already told Mr. Trump that he could not and would not turn the process on its head. However, the interruption of the count led to uncertainties in the largely procedural measure.
International response: The rest of the world watched the once unimaginable scene in Washington with dismay at what it said about both the United States and other nations.
“This is not just a national matter for the US, it is shaking the world, at least all democracies,” said Peter Beyer, Germany’s coordinator for transatlantic affairs. Stéphane Séjourné, a member of the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter: “This is what happens when you sow hatred.”
Twitter ban: The social media site banned Mr. Trump’s account after posting inaccurate and inflammatory tweets during the day. Twitter said the account would be permanently banned if it continued to violate its policy on violent threats and election misinformation. Facebook later took the same step.
Resignation of the staff: In the hours after President Trump used social media to openly condone the violence at the Capitol, White House officials began filing their resignations, with more expected. Stephanie Grisham, former White House press secretary, chief of staff to Melania Trump, the first lady, was among those who stepped down.
Democrats take control of the Senate
Victories in Georgia state’s two runoff elections, overshadowed by the violence in Washington, will change the balance of power in Congress.
Although the Democrats will have the thinnest of advantages in the House and Senate, where Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will break the 50:50 tie, they will oversee the committees as well as the laws and nominations that have their say.
The result prompted some Republicans to blame President Trump for deterring voters from allegations that the elections in Georgia were rigged. Mr Trump’s term in the White House ends with Republicans losing the presidency, the House and the Senate on their guard.
Protest in Atlanta: The riots in Washington spread to the country’s capitals, including Atlanta, where a gathering of protesters led to the evacuation of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and some of his staff.
Mr Raffensperger had been heavily criticized by Trump supporters – and had received threats of violence against him and his wife – for confirming the results of the Georgian presidential election and delivering the 16 state votes to Mr Biden.
In the midst of the virus, some kind of political reprieve in Britain
The public health crisis the UK is currently facing is so dire that it has temporarily shut down the political debates that have raged in the country since the virus emerged eleven months ago.
When Prime Minister Boris Johnson entered Parliament with some of his toughest coronavirus-fighting measures to date, the chamber’s unruly benches were quiet.
Mr Johnson received overwhelming approval of the laws instituting a new national lockdown that could stay in place through March 31, although some measures could be relaxed until then.
EU vaccine: The European Union Medicines Agency approved the vaccine against Moderna coronavirus after making a decision that was scheduled for later in January. In December she approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for the 27 EU member states.
If you have 6 minutes, it’s worth it
Will the China-EU trade deal affect US relations?
Seven years ago, the European Union signed a trade deal with China, believing that engaging in Beijing is the best way to change its behavior and make it a committed stakeholder in the international system.
Today, a few weeks after the deal was signed, this is seen as doubting Europe’s willingness to work with the US on a common strategy for Beijing. And it gave China an important victory.
The following also happens
Julian Assange: A judge in London declined to bail the WikiLeaks founder while awaiting a final resolution to the case of extraditing him to the US on charges of violating espionage laws.
Russian hack: American intelligence agencies and private cybersecurity investigators are investigating whether a tool developed by the Czech Republic-based software company JetBrains has been used to gain access to public and private networks in the United States
Arrests in Hong Kong: Police arrested 53 elected pro-democracy officials and activists, the largest summary to date under the new Beijing-imposed national security law. Those arrested were specifically selected to select candidates for the city’s general election.
Snapshot: Above right a dwarf giraffe in Namibia. With an average height of approximately 16 feet, giraffes are the tallest mammals on earth. But now scientists are studying 8- and 9-foot giraffes who appear to suffer from dwarfism, a bone condition rarely seen in wildlife and never seen before in giraffes.
BBC tour: Richard Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker and advisor to the UK government, is expected to become the next BBC chairman at a time when purpose and funding are being reviewed. And June Sarpong, the BBC’s new director of creative diversity, has a job that puts her at the center of a political battlefield.
What we read: This Oprah Magazine profile of Stacey Abrams, the politician and activist who played a prominent role in her successful voter rights efforts in Georgia. If you’ve never heard of her before, this is a good place to start.
Now a break from the news
Cook: This risotto with peas and sausage is flexible. For vegetarians, the broth doesn’t have to be chicken. Skip the butter and cheese and you are in vegan territory.
Clock: The documentary “My Rembrandt” deals with art collectors whose interest in Rembrandt has taken on slightly obsessive dimensions.
To do: Is a beautiful garden one of your New Year’s goals? Before the growing season, it is helpful for gardeners to identify what went wrong in the past year and instead figure out what to do.
There is no need to be bored. At home, you have ideas for what to read, cook, see, and do while being safe at home.
And now for the background story about …
Ai Weiwei on the power of books
The Chinese artist and human rights activist spoke to our book counter about the Cultural Revolution, the books in his head and much more. His new book “Human Flow: Stories from the Global Refugee Crisis” was published in December and followed on from his 2017 documentary on the global migrant crisis.
What’s the last great book you read?
The last great book I read was “Permanent Record” by Edward Snowden.
Are there any classic novels that you recently read for the first time?
I stopped reading classic novels before I was 24 years old.
Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).
My ideal reading experience was when I was in exile with my father Ai Qing in a detention center during the Cultural Revolution. At that time, we burned all of his books to avoid further political persecution. I was not yet 10 years old; I think it was 1967.
It confirmed in me how powerful those words printed on paper and the images in between could be. My sister helped me when I asked her to bring me more books. She sent me books such as “Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism” by Vladimir Lenin and “The Communist Manifesto” by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx. I’ve completely disconnected from the concepts in these books, but I can still feel the power of the language and logic structure.
What’s your favorite book that nobody has heard of?
I have a book called “Yingzao Fashi,” an assembly guide from the Song Dynasty that was originally written 1,000 years ago.
Which book influenced your decision to become a visual artist the most or contributed to your artistic development?
I would say the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Franz Kafka were influential, and if you include artists, [Marcel] Duchamp’s letter too. There are only a few, but bright intellectual heads.
That’s it for this briefing. Until next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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