First Thing: Capitol breach should be investigated like 9/11, lawmakers say

Politicians on both sides of the aisle have made fresh calls for a commission into how the Capitol was breached. Plus, is a change of direction brewing in the GOP?

Supporters of Donald Trump during the deadly siege on the Capitol building, which left five dead and the building smashed and looted.
Supporters of Donald Trump during the deadly siege on the Capitol building, which left five dead and the building smashed and looted. Photograph: Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters of Donald Trump during the deadly siege on the Capitol building, which left five dead and the building smashed and looted. Photograph: Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

Last modified on Mon 15 Feb 2021 06.50 EST

Good morning.

Democrats and Republicans have made fresh calls for a 9/11-style bipartisan commission to investigate how rioters were able to breach the Capitol on 6 January. After the 2001 terrorist attacks, a commission reviewed how the incidents were possible and laid out plans to prevent them being repeated. Now politicians on both sides of the aisle have called for the deadly Capitol siege to be given the same treatment. As expected, Donald Trump was acquitted at the weekend for his role in inciting the violence, with 57 senators voting to convict against 43 to acquit, meaning Democrats fell short of getting the two-thirds majority required for a conviction.

The former president didn’t seem rattled by the experience, saying in a post-acquittal statement that “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to make America great again has only just begun”. But perhaps he shouldn’t get too comfortable, with some hinting that a change of guard is due and disunity is still rife within the GOP. Senator John Cornyn of Texas told the Hill that despite the case’s result, “I think that [we’re] already beginning to see some groundwork being laid by other people who aspire to succeed [Trump]”.

Trump’s lawyer, Michael van der Veen (second left), celebrates after his client is acquitted during a historic second impeachment trial.
Trump’s lawyer, Michael van der Veen (second left), celebrates after his client is acquitted during a historic second impeachment trial. Photograph: Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

Questions are also being asked of the Democratic party, over their decision not to call witnesses in the impeachment trial. Specifically, the Senate didn’t hear evidence from a Washington congresswoman about a call between Trump and the Republican House leader, Kevin McCarthy, during the siege, showing that the president would not tell his supporters to stand down. But Democrats defended their decision, with one impeachment manager saying: “We didn’t need more witnesses, we needed more senators with spines.”

  • Lara Trump’s prospects for reaching the Senate seem better after the senator whose seat she is interested in running for voted to convict Donald Trump, a key ally of the former president said. Richard Burr will retire at the end of the current term, and Lindsey Graham said his vote “made Lara Trump almost a certain nominee” if she runs.

  • The leader of the Australian Proud Boys sought people trained in combat to help him confront police at anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne. Messages on anti-lockdown social media groups show an increasing crossover between those opposing lockdowns and the far right.

Coronavirus infection rates in the US are dropping

Nurse Lillian Wirpsza administers a Covid vaccine to Shylee Stewart, a labor and delivery nurse at George Washington University hospital.
Nurse Lillian Wirpsza administers a Covid vaccine to Shylee Stewart, a labor and delivery nurse at George Washington University hospital. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP/Getty Images

The average number of daily new cases of coronavirus ein the US has dropped below 100,000 for the first time in months. The average for new infections hit 250,000 in January, but dropped below 100,000 on Friday and stayed there on Saturday.

However, scientists urged caution. The cases are still two and a half times as high as the summer, and there are still between 1,500 and 3,500 deaths each day. New variants, including the one first detected in the UK, are beginning to spread in the US, and are thought to be more contagious.

It’s encouraging to see these trends coming down, but they’re coming down from an extraordinarily high place,” said Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

  • The extent of the coronavirus pandemic in Africa is still unknown, experts have said, which could cause a rush for vaccines because the continent has not been considered a priority. Many African countries do not have a mass-testing infrastructure in place or the capacity to collect reliable data on coronavirus cases and deaths.

  • A World Health Organization investigator said China refused to share key data on the origins of coronavirus, during their visit to Wuhan last month. A team member, Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious disease expert, said it had requested raw patient data but were only given a summary, saying the raw data information was extremely important.

Myanmar gets internet back, but Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention is extended

Myanmar: armoured vehicles are deployed in the largest city, Yangon – video
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Myanmar: armoured vehicles are deployed in the largest city, Yangon – video

Internet access has been restored in Myanmar after an eight-hour blackout, as the leaders of a military coup, which occurred two weeks ago, attempt to stamp out dissent. Despite the rollout of armoured vehicles across various cities, demonstrators returned to the streets on Monday.

The military also revealed that the civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained during the coup, would be remanded for a further two days. She had been held on charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkies, a charge due to expire on Monday. However, her lawyer said she would be remanded in detention until Wednesday for a court hearing.

  • Indian police have charged a 22-year-old climate activist with sedition over claims she edited and distributed a toolkit document from Greta Thunberg relating to the ongoing farmer protests in India. Delhi police said the toolkit that Disha Ravi shared was evidence of a conspiracy “to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India”.

How a Chicago recycling plant led to mass protests and exposed inequality

A marcher attends the Block the Permit block party in front of Loris house in Logan square, Chicago, in November.
A marcher attends the Block the Permit block party in front of Loris house in Logan square, Chicago, in November. Photograph: Oscar Sanchez

In December, a recycling firm closed an old metal scrapyard in an affluent, white part of Chicago over a series of environmental violations. Now, the same firm is set to open a new metal recycling plant on the polluted Southeast Side, which has large black and Latino populations. The plant uses machines known to produce dangerous dust, which can cause heart and lung problems, in a community that already has high levels of respiratory illness. In an effort to stop it, community activists have been protesting and launched a hunger strike. Taylor Moore meets locals and community activists.

In other news…

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released this photograph along with the announcement, saying that “Archie is going to be a big brother”.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released this photograph along with the announcement, saying that ‘Archie is going to be a big brother’. Photograph: Misan Harriman/The Duke and Duchess of Sussex ©/AFP/Getty Images
  • Prince Harry and Meghan are expecting another child, they confirmed yesterday. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared a black and white picture of themselves along with the news, confirming their one-year-old son, Archie, was going to have a younger sibling.

  • Michael McDowell stormed through a crash to win the Daytona 500 as cars piled up behind him, erupting into smoke and flames. In total, 16 vehicles were involved in the incident.

  • Texas is experiencing one its coldest winters in decades with temperatures expected to drop to 11F in Houston and 9F in San Antonio. Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for every county in the state on Friday.

Stat of the day: almost 6,000 unaccompanied children tried to enter the US last month

Customs and Border Protection has reported a spike in the number of unaccompanied immigrant children attempting to enter the US amid the coronavirus pandemic, with many believed to be motivated by natural disasters, violence and economic hardship in their native countries. Last month, the agency reported 5,871 children at the south-west border without a parent or legal guardian, the largest figure since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

Don’t miss this: Bill Gates on solving the climate crisis

Despite proclaiming that private jets are his “guilty pleasure”, the billionaire Bill Gates has written a book about how to avoid climate breakdown. In this interview, he discusses the effectiveness of climate activists, why electric cars might not be the answer and which lesser-known industries need to be targeted in our efforts to green up (clue: he talks a lot about steel).

Last Thing: An Australian magazine gets it very wrong on the royal announcement

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the cover of New Idea magazine.
Prince Harry and Meghan on the cover of New Idea magazine. Photograph: New Idea

An Australian magazine published a front page story declaring that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had split, just hours before the couple announced they were delighted to be expecting their second child. New Idea’s dramatic headline, proclaiming “It’s all over”, hit the newsstands on the same day as the royals’ announcement. This isn’t their first misstep: in 2008 the magazine reported that the prince was serving with the British army in Afghanistan despite a ban on publishing the information, and Harry resigned from his post citing security concerns a month later.

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