Biden to visit UK on first overseas trip and meet leader he once called a Trump clone – live
- 10.26pm BST 22:26California moves to ban fracking by 2024
- 10.19pm BST 22:19Interim summary
- 9.56pm BST 21:56CDC advisers recommend re-starting administration of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine
- 9.00pm BST 21:00Decision awaited on Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine
- 8.49pm BST 20:49New York man in court over threats to kill members of Congress
- 8.00pm BST 20:00US climate commitments turns spotlight on China and Russia
- 7.31pm BST 19:31Today so far
An unprecedented GOP effort to audit the vote in Maricopa county, Arizona got off to a rocky start today. A state judge has ordered the effort halted over concerns the auditors were not complying with state law. The audit ultimately wasn’t stopped, however, because the state Democratic party, which brought the lawsuit, declined to put up a £1m bond ordered by the judge to incur any lost funds during the pause, according to the Arizona Mirror.
A reporter for the Arizona Republic tweeted on Monday that those counting the ballots had pens with blue ink – a huge no-no among election officials because voters usually use black or blue ink to mark election officials. The reporter, who was only allowed into the audit because she signed up to work as an election worker, was later banned from tweeting updates.
Jen Fifield (@JenAFifield)
Doug is running this audit. He told me that his understanding was that blue ink was fine – that the ballots only read black ink.
Then he came back and said actually it seems I am correct. But he still seemed unsure. He said that they would work on this.
Jen Fifield (@JenAFifield)
I’ve been banned from further updates until my shift is over.
Republicans are counting all 2.1m ballots cast in Maricopa county, the largest in Arizona, even though two county audits have certified the validity of election results there.
Election experts have said the audit is unnecessary and appears to be a thinly-veiled effort to stoke fears about election results. During a press call on Friday, experts in election administration said they were deeply concerned about how little transparency the audit team was disclosing into their processes, including the exact processes and standards counters would use to adjudicate ballots and if and how the equipment being used had been tested. There are also lingering questions about who is funding the effort – the final cost is much higher than the £150,000 the Arizona senate allocated – and transparency, as reporters are not currently being allowed to monitor the event.
“It just feels so reckless to me,” said Jennifer Morrell, a former Colorado election official who specializes in election audits. “We’re setting a new precedent…we’re completely circumventing all the guardrails that are already in place, all the guardrails that are already there.”
California moves to ban fracking by 2024
Hi all – Sam Levin in Los Angeles here, continuing our live coverage for the rest of the day.
In California, the governor has moved today to ban new fracking permits by 2024 and halt all oil extraction by 2045. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that paves the way for the state to halt new fracking permits within the next few years, directing the state’s department of conservation to draft a mandate by 2024.
His order also directs the state’s air resources board to consider how to enact a ban on all extraction over the next 25 years. California is America’s largest state and produces the third largest amount of oil in the country. It would be the first state to end all extraction.
My colleague Maanvi Singh has the details here:
After that important news from the CDC advisory panel, the US east coast team will now hand the blog over to the west coast team, where Sam Levin will take readers through the next few hours.
Lots more to come as the news of the J&J vaccine develops further, so do stay tuned. Main news today so far includes:
- CDC advisory panel recommends re-starting administration of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine after a lengthy pause to assess risks of exceptionally rare blood clotting in a very small number of women.
- A US Capitol Police officer testified today against a New York man accused of threatening to kill members of Congress.
- When Joe Biden visits the UK in June in the first overseas trip of his presidency, he will not only attend the G7 meeting in Cornwall, the county in the south-west of England, but he will have a bilateral encounter with British prime minister Boris Johnson.
- Biden to address a joint session of Congress next Wednesday and travel to Georgia on Thursday, his 100th day in office.
- Jennifer Granholm, US energy secretary, said at the virtual climate summit this morning that clean technology was “our generation’s moonshot”.
- Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic decathlete, reality TV star and transgender activist, has filed her initial paperwork to run for governor of California.
- Joe Biden opened the second and last day of the virtual global summit on the climate crisis by addressing the task of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to help curb heating (in addition to cutting greenhouse gas emissions), saying that the US “looks forward to working with Russia and other countries in that endeavor. It has great promise.”
Members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices agreed the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine outweigh the risks from extremely rare instances of blood clots linked with the vaccine.
The one-shot vaccine, manufactured by J&J subsidiary Janssen, can resume in the US after a second week of being paused out of what the government called “an abundance of caution”.
The language of the vote by the advisory panel said: “The Janssen Covid-19 vaccine is recommended for persons 18 years of age and older in the U.S. population under the FDA’s emergency use authorization”, CNN reported.
“The vote is 10 in favor, four opposed and one abstention. The motion carries,” Dr. Jose Romero, Arkansas secretary of health and chair of ACIP, said, the cable news channel added.
Earlier, the US’s top infectious diseases official, Anthony Fauci, had said the risks of Covids-19 “far outweighs the risk of this very, very rare occurrence [of blood clots]”
CDC director Rochelle Walensky said earlier that there are “plenty of people who are interested” in receiving the J&J vaccine.
CDC advisers recommend re-starting administration of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine
This means it’s likely that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will agree that the pause in administration of the J&J vaccine can be lifted for people in the US over the age of 18. We’ll wait for more details coming out of the CDC HQ in Atlanta and bring you that shortly.
Georgia’s state attorney general has resigned as chairman of the national Republican Attorneys General Association. Georgia’s top prosecutor has resigned as chairman of the national Republican Attorneys General Association, saying he has had a “fundamental difference of opinion” with some of the other 24 members since the group encouraged the crowd that breached the US Capitol on January 6.
Chris Carr, Georgia’s GOP attorney general and a potential US Senate candidate, wrote in a letter last week that he was quitting as the leader of the association because of an irreconcilable rift over the organization’s direction, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
His letter cited the departure of the group’s executive director, Adam Piper, who resigned shortly after it was revealed that RAGA’s policy arm paid for robocalls urging supporters of then-President Donald Trump to march on the Capitol to press for overturning the outcome the election the day of the riot.
“The fundamental difference of opinion began with vastly opposite views of the significance of the events of January 6 and the resistance by some to accepting the resignation of the executive director,” Carr wrote in the April 16 letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“The differences have continued as we have tried to restore RAGA’s reputation internally and externally and were reflected once again during the process of choosing the next executive director.”
Carr’s spokeswoman has repeatedly said he had no knowledge or involvement in the robocalls, which were promoted by the Rule of Law Defense Fund. He’s also condemned the violence and joined other AGs who declared that “such actions will not be allowed to go unchecked.”
It’s not immediately clear what led to his resignation, as Carr previously indicated he would stay in his leadership post and work to overhaul the organization from within. But the decision to distance himself from RAGA comes as Carr weighs a challenge to U.S.
Sen. Raphael Warnock, a newly elected Democrat who is up for reelection in November 2022.
You can read the full report here.
Ted Cruz “maintains ties to right-wing group” despite its extremist messaging – report.
Now here comes a Washington Post investigation about the polarizing Texas right-wing Senator (so illuminatingly played on Saturday Night Live by Aidy Bryant these days).
The newspaper brings us this intriguing story:
4, 2019, the day after a gunman who had posted a hateful diatribe against Hispanics fatally shot 23 people at an El Paso Walmart, a leader of a tea party group in Texas said on Facebook: “You’re not going to demographically replace a once proud, strong people without getting blow-back.”
His wife, the founder of the group, in the Fort Worth suburbs of Tarrant County, added in a comment: “I don’t condone the actions, but I certainly understand where they came from.”
Ten days later, amid a brewing backlash over the comments by Fred and Julie McCarty, the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party posted an undated testimonial from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) wishing the group a happy 10th anniversary as it rebranded itself as True Texas Project.
“Thank you for the incredible work you do,” Cruz said, in the only on-camera endorsement from an elected official posted on the group’s Facebook and YouTube pages to mark the occasion. “Julie, Fred, thank you for your passion.”
A Washington Post review of True Texas Project’s activities and social media shows that Cruz has continued to embrace the group, even as its nativist rhetoric and divisive tactics have alienated some other conservative elected officials.
Cruz’s father, a frequent campaign surrogate for his son, spoke at a meeting of the group shortly after the Jan.
6 Capitol riot, at a time when the group’s leadership was defending the pro-Trump mob on social media. A spokeswoman did not respond to a request for an interview with the senator or to specific questions about TTP. “The Senator is not aware of every tweet, post, or comment of activists in the state of Texas,” the spokeswoman, Erin Perrine, said in a statement.
“If you want to know what he thinks on any issue — feel free to look at his decades-long record. Sen.
Cruz is unequivocal in his denunciation of any form of racism, hatred, or bigotry.”
In 2019, Cruz condemned the El Paso shooting as “a heinous act of terrorism and white supremacy.” The gunman’s manifesto had railed against a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” and many of those killed or wounded were Hispanic. Cruz’s ongoing ties to TTP contrast with the group’s fraught relationship with much of the Republican establishment in Texas.
There is a lot more to this report and you can read the full story here.
It will be two years since the mass shooting in El Paso in August.
Lawmakers urge Biden to back ‘moral’ patent waiver to speed vaccine access.
US lawmakers and nonprofit groups today heaped pressure on the Biden administration to back a temporary patent waiver for Covid-19 vaccines to help poor countries contain the pandemic. The groups delivered a petition signed by two million people, adding to separate letters already sent to the US president, Joe Biden, by a group of senators, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, nearly 100 members of the House and 60 former heads of state and 100 Nobel Prize winners.
Senator Bernie Sanders said it was also in the United States’ own interest to ensure as many people were vaccinated as quickly as possible, to limit the chance of virus mutations that could prompt further U.S. lockdowns.
But he also appealed to Biden’s desire to rebuild U.S. credibility in the world.
“On this enormously important health issue, this moral issue, the United States has got to do the right thing,” he told a news conference.
The United States and a handful of other big countries have blocked negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) involving a proposal spearheaded by India and South Africa that now has the support of 100 WTO members. The proposal would temporarily waive the intellectual property (IP) rights of pharmaceutical companies to allow developing countries to produce vaccines.
Proponents are pushing Washington to change course ahead of the next formal WTO meeting on the issue on May 5. One source briefed on the issue told Reuters U.S. trade officials realized “that something needs to be done, whether it’s the TRIPS waiver or some other solution,” a reference to the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property agreement.
Decision awaited on Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine
Vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering four choices for changing the agency’s recommendation on Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine, including label changes or a complete end to its use.
The cable news channel continues, on its website:
At issue: The vaccine has been linked to 15 cases of a rare blood clotting condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS, all among women. Three have died. It’s a tricky question because all but two cases have been in women under the age of 50, and no cases have been reported among men since the vaccine has been in general use, although the CDC says it’s unlikely the risk is zero among men.
CDC staff laid out several possible scenarios, all of which show that while resuming vaccination would result in more cases of blood clots, adding the J&J shot to the mix of available vaccines would save lives and keep people out of the hospital.
The committee’s four possible choices are:
- Recommend against use for all persons
- Reaffirm recommendation for all age and sex – US Food and Drug Administration to include warning statement with emergency use authorization
- Recommend vaccination only for adults aged 50 or older
- Reaffirm recommendations for use; women aged under 50 should be aware of the increased risk of TTS, and may choose another Covid-19 vaccine (ie mRNA vaccines)
Earlier, Johnson & Johnson officials said they had agreed with the FDA on new wording to add to the label saying the risk of blood clots is plausible and warning of the risks.
New York man in court over threats to kill members of Congress
A US Capitol Police officer testified Friday against a New York man accused of threatening to kill members of Congress.
He recounted how police struggled to quell the “surreal” January 6 insurrection in Washington, DC.
The Associated Press further reports that:
The defendant in the case, Brendan Hunt, was not part of the siege on January 6. But prosecutors in federal court in Brooklyn sought to use the testimony of Special Agent Christopher Desrosiers to frame the episode as a further catalyst for Hunt’s alleged call to massacre members of Congress.
Desrosiers, believed to be the first member of the Capitol force to testify at a criminal trial related to the insurrection, described for the jury how he was assigned to track the mob violence from nearby command center and was shocked to hear radio chatter of his colleagues “yelling for help.”
Asked what he was thinking at time, he said: “For myself, ‘surreal’ comes to mind.”
He testified that his team scrambled to figure out how to evacuate Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers. But the evacuation was called off when “a sea of backup came and we were able to re-secure the building,” he said.
Hunt, 37, an analyst for the New York court system, has pleaded not guilty to charges alleging, in part, that he called for the killings of lawmakers, including House Speaker and California Democrat Nancy Pelosi, New York Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and New York Democratic Senator and majority leader Chuck= Schumer.
Prosecutors say it was part of a monthlong online campaign to urge violence against members of Congress that culminated on January 8 in an 88-second video titled: “Kill your senators. Slaughter them all.”
Prosecutors allege Hunt was trying to inspire violence against members of Congress on Inauguration Day (Jan 21) as a follow up to the Jan.
Defense attorneys have called the charges overblown and argued that there’s no proof that Hunt was a legitimate threat. One of his lawyers, Jan Rostal, told jurors they could label her client “an idiot or clown,” but the First Amendment blocked his conviction on a criminal charge which could carry a decade in prison.
According to court documents, one week after the attack, Robert Chapman of New York told one of his Bumble matches that “I did storm the Capitol” and said that he “made it all the way into Statuary Hall.” He also claimed that he was interviewed by members of the media. CNN reports that the other Bumble user replied, “we are not a match.”
Prosecutors said the user then quickly reached out to the FBI and provided screenshots of the conversation.
Investigators said in court filings that they corroborated Chapman’s claims by comparing his Bumble profile picture to body camera footage from police officers who were inside the Capitol.
Chapman was charged with four misdemeanors, including disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. He hasn’t entered a plea and his lawyer didn’t respond to a request for comment on the charges.
According to screenshots in court filings, Chapman also posted to Facebook before the January 6 insurrection that he was traveling to the “District of Criminality,” referring to Washington, DC. And on the day of the attack, he allegedly posted, “I’M F—IN INSIDE THE CRAPITOL.”
Incriminating social media postslike these have become a hallmark of the Capitol riot investigation.
In dozens of cases, prosecutors quoted rioters’ posts from Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Parler, Snapchat, and other sites where they bragged about their alleged crimes.More than 390 people have been charged with federal crimes in connection with the attack. According to court records, Chapman was arrested on Thursday and released by a federal magistrate judge in the Southern District of New York. Most Capitol riot defendants who aren’t charged with violent crimes — including Chapman — have been released from jail before trial.
Joe Biden has closed out a two-day climate summit of more than 40 world leaders by warning that the planet risks reaching the “point of no return” if more isn’t done to escalate efforts to constrain the climate crisis.
Here’s a sneak preview and truncated version of Oliver Milman’s latest explainer, which will be live, in full, on the website before long.
Biden, along with several other national leaders, made a number of new promises in the summit. Here’s what it all means.
What has Joe Biden promised at the summit?
As its centerpiece announcement, the Biden administration has said planet-heating emissions will be cut by 50%-52% by 2030. The target was officially submitted to the United Nations as part of an overarching global system where countries submit voluntary emissions reduction goals in order to collectively avoid dangerous global heating.
On top of this, the summit saw an American promise to double financial aid for developing countries struggling with the escalating droughts, floods, heatwaves and other impacts of the climate crisis…The White House hopes the new commitments will spur other countries to do more.
Is that enough to deal with the threat of climate change?
No. But then very little at this stage is sufficient. Despite decades of warnings from scientists, global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to soar, only dipping last year due to pandemic-related shutdowns.
The cuts required to stave off truly disastrous global heating are now precipitously steep – reduce by around half this decade and then to zero by 2050. Some activists feel the US could be doing more, with a group of protesters dumping wheelbarrows of manure outside the White House on Thursday. The climate aid pledge has also been criticized as “very low” by ActionAid USA.
Conversely, the US goal is one of the most ambitious for a developed country. “Is it enough?
No,” said John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy. “But it’s the best we can do today and prove we can begin to move.”
How will big reductions in emissions change Americans’ lives?
Emissions have been gradually declining in the US for several years, largely due to the collapse of the ailing coal industry. Cutting emissions in half within a decade will require far more aggressive, and noticeable, changes – an explosion in solar and wind jobs, a rapid shift to electric cars, the refitting of energy inefficient buildings, the demise of coal country, a revamp of farming practices. Biden has framed this unprecedented transition as a glorious economic opportunity – “when I think of climate change, I think of jobs” has become a presidential slogan.
How likely is it Biden will be able to deliver this?
There are record levels of alarm among the American public over the climate crisis, with majorities of both Democratic and Republican voters supporting action to bring down emissions.
Big business, unions and city leaders have also swung strongly behind the push for a federal response.
Imposing barriers remain in Congress, however, where Republicans have clung onto Trump-era rhetoric that acting on the climate crisis will harm the economy…At some point Biden will have to bring in ‘sticks’ as well as ‘carrots’, such as a tax on carbon emissions and a directive to utilities to phase out fossil fuels.
Again, such measures face huge hurdles in Congress.
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