A year ago, rioters protesting the results of the 2020 election attacked the US Capitol building, infiltrating some of the most hallowed chambers of American democracy and setting off shockwaves of violence and division across the country. Much has happened since, but the consequences of that day continue to reverberate.
Here’s a look at the impact of this anniversary, plus everything else you need to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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1. Capitol riot
What’s happening today: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced several events at the Capitol that will commemorate today’s anniversary, including a prayer, a moment of silence on the House floor and a conversation led by two historians aimed at preserving narratives of the attack. Lawmakers will also share their accounts, and President Joe Biden is expected to deliver remarks later today.
More than 100 activist groups are planning nationwide vigils and gatherings as part of a “Day of Remembrance and Action.” The events will encourage people to demand more protections for democracy and voting rights.
Former President Donald Trump was scheduled to hold a press conference today, but canceled after advisers warned the event could be detrimental to him and other Republicans.
Security around Washington, DC will be tight today. Federal officials have seen an increase in violent rhetoric on domestic extremist forums leading up to January 6, though no specific or credible threat has been identified.
Where the investigations stand: A House select committee to investigate the attack was formed last July, and isn’t planning to release a report until this summer. However, over the last few months, the committee has issued more than 50 subpoenas to individuals and organizations — including some of Trump’s closest allies. Here is a partial list of those called to appear so far. The committee has also acquired texts and other communications that they say illuminate the actions of Trump and other leaders as the insurrection unfolded. During the committee’s first and only public hearing so far, law enforcement officers gave harrowing testimony of their firsthand experiences during the attack. Here’s more on what else the committee has done, and what its strategy is for 2022.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department is in the middle of the biggest investigation in FBI history. About 700 people have been arrested for their roles in the attack, and hundreds more are still at large. Prosecuting them all could take years, and some legislators are growing impatient with the investigation’s pace and perceived lack of aggression. However, Attorney General Merrick Garland said yesterday that the Justice Department “remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law” no matter how long it takes.
How January 6 has changed everything
It’s hard to quantify the impact of the insurrection, which has altered our political discourse, our social relationships, our technology and the lives of survivors.
It has put us in more danger. The director of an intelligence group that analyzes the global violent extremism community says the extremist momentum that drove the insurrection “has not diminished — it has spread in all directions.” One related example: About 9,600 threats were made against lawmakers in 2021, according to the chief of the Capitol Police — a dramatic uptick.
It has traumatized us. Law enforcement officers who survived the attack have tearfully shared the enduring trauma of that day. So have lawmakers, reporters, and others who were at the scene. Sadly, at least four officers who were working the day of the insurrection have taken their lives this year. Even our own memories of the attack are under assault as misinformation and lies persist. One expert says when people deny the hard realities of the insurrection, it puts the populace in danger of seeing such violence as the “new normal.”
It has made us question how we communicate. Lawmakers have tried to rein in social media giants like Meta, the parent company of Facebook, because of the role the platforms allegedly play in allowing misinformation and violent plans to circulate unabated.
And we think it will happen again. Experts have warned another major threat to our democracy is a very real possibility, and the public seems to agree. One recent poll shows we expect this to happen again, with 62% of Americans saying they expect the losing side in future presidential elections to react violently.
The CDC has updated its recommendations for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine booster to include children as young as 12, at least five months after they finish their primary set of shots. Separately, a bipartisan groups of senators floated the idea of more Covid-19 relief as event cancellations, closures and travel woes pile up due to skyrocketing Omicron cases. However, the talks failed to move forward.
A state of emergency has been declared in Kazakhstan after days of violent political unrest prompted by anger over increasing fuel prices, poor living standards and corruption. Protesters have set fire to city buildings and stormed the airport in the country’s biggest city, Almaty. The Prime Minister and the government resigned during the chaos, causing even more tension. The public is now dealing with a nationwide internet blackout, and a Russian-led military alliance has reportedly deployed “peacekeeping” personnel to help stabilize the situation.
Babies, pregnant women and nursing mothers are among the 97 hostages that have been freed in a series of rescue operations in northern Nigeria. Local police and the military collaborated on the raids, which targeted two well-known kingpins known for kidnapping in the area. Authorities say the hostages were held captive for more than two months.
Canada has announced a total of $31.5 billion in compensation for First Nations children who were taken from their families and put into the country’s child welfare system. Half of the money will go toward the potentially hundreds of thousands of children affected, and the other half will be used to reform the system that failed them. Indigenous and human rights organizations have long said such systems discriminate against First Nations children.
The 2022 Grammy Awards have been postponed
Show organizers said the event would be too risky during the current Covid-19 spike.
Two winning tickets sold in $636 million Powerball drawing
Shout out to all the people who thought they were going to be millionaires this morning but are back at work instead. There’s always next time.
Amazon’s Alexa is going to space on NASA’s Artemis moon mission
Lightning around the North Pole increased dramatically in 2021
Arctic lightning sounds so cool… until you find out the climate crisis caused it.
Exciting art exhibitions around the world this year
This lineup is so dreamy. Just picture yourself passing time in a classic gallery in Paris or Venice.
On solid ground
I’m sorry that today’s newsletter turned out to be pretty depressing. It’s important to remember that, despite it all, the Capitol still stands — and so do we. Here’s a beautifully produced visual timeline of the Capitol building over its 220+ years of existence. (Click here to view)
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