First Thing: Disgraced Trump finally admits defeat ... almost

Molly Blackall
·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Cheriss May/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Cheriss May/Reuters

Good morning.

Two months after the election, Donald Trump has finally acknowledged that Joe Biden will be the next president of the US and promised a smooth transfer of power – although he still defended making his numerous failed legal challenges to the election. On Wednesday Trump incited his supporters to march on the Capitol and prevent Biden’s confirmation as president, leading to a mob attack which left a police officer and four citizens dead. Alongside smashing windows and looting artefacts, the pro-Trump mob also attacked a group of reporters, smashing up their equipment and writing “murder the media” on one of the Capitol’s door.

It appears the incident was a step too far even for some Trump loyalists, triggering a wave of resignations from administration figures and White House officials, and leading senior Republicans to cut ties with the president. With Democrats also calling for the 25th amendment to be triggered, which could remove him from office before the end of his term, the president finally decided to denounce the mob attack.

Despite his olive branch, politicians and activists fear Trump’s final days in office could pose a grave national security threat, with concerns about further attacks from his protesters or lashing out from Trump. Facebook and Instagram suspended his accounts indefinitely yesterday, but as the president returned to Twitter after a 24-hour ban, some experts say the action was too little, too late.

President-elect Biden issued further condemnation of the mob attack, denouncing those responsible as “domestic terrorists” and describing the assault as “one of the darkest days in the history of our nation”. But for those less friendly to the US, yesterday’s Capitol attack provided ammunition. Leaders in Moscow, Beijing and Tehran commented on the weakness of western democracy, and said the US was no longer able to preach democracy abroad. Some rightwing media outlets simply refused to acknowledge the mob had done anything wrong, while others blamed antifa.

  • Publishers have cancelled a book by a senator who backed baseless claims that the presidential election was rigged. Josh Hawley was one of more than 100 Republicans who objected to Biden’s victory during the congressional sessions yesterday.

  • Yesterday’s events followed increasingly violence far-right rallies, with many saying the attack was an inevitable conclusion to the past four years. From the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed protesting against racism in Charlottesville, to a black state lawmaker who was in Michigan’s Capitol when it was attacked in April, Lois Beckett speaks to those caught up in the path to yesterday’s violence.

Arizona becomes coronavirus ‘hotspot of the world’

The Arizona governor, Doug Ducey, pictured speaking about the coronavirus pandemic in June, has been criticised for inactivity over the rising case rates.
The Arizona governor, Doug Ducey, pictured speaking about the coronavirus pandemic in June, has been criticised for inactivity over the rising case rates. Photograph: Ross D Franklin/AP

Arizona is reporting the highest rate of new coronavirus cases in the US, with health officials describing it as the latest “hotspot of the world”. In the past week, one in every 119 people have tested positive, with close to 300 losing their lives on Thursday alone. Governor Doug Ducey has come under fire for failing to prevent the spread of the virus; he decided against introducing a statewide mask mandate, allowed business to stay open, and allowed schools to make their own choices about Covid measures.

December was by far the US’s deadliest month yet, but health experts warn that January could be worse because of the delayed impact of family gatherings and travel over the holidays. About 1.9 million lives have been lost due to coronavirus worldwide, with more than 360,000 in the US alone, making it the highest death toll of any country by far.

2020 was the joint hottest year on record

Last year there were record Atlantic hurricanes and western wildfires, including this one in California.
Last year there were record Atlantic hurricanes and western wildfires, including this one in California. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

Despite a 7% reduction in the amount of fossil fuels burned as a result of coronavirus lockdowns, global heating continued at an alarming rate in 2020. It was the joint hottest year on record with 2016, and the average surface temperature across the planet was 1.25C higher than in the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900. There were record wildfires in the Arctic last year and 29 tropical storms in the Atlantic.

  • Kenya needs $62bn to tackle the climate crisis in the next 10 years, according to a government document sent to the UN framework convention on climate change. The figure is equivalent to almost 67% of the country’s GDP.

  • Boeing has been fined $2.5bn by the justice department after charges of fraud and conspiracy over two fatal crashes of its 737 Max airliner. The head of the US’s airline regulator said the firm had tried to cover up its “deception”, and chosen “the path of profit over candor”.

In other news …

Elon Musk has overtaken the Amazon chief, Jeff Bezos, to become the richest man in the world.
Elon Musk has overtaken the Amazon chief, Jeff Bezos, to become the richest man in the world. Photograph: Alexander Becher/EPA
  • Elon Musk has become the world’s richest person, after shares in Tesla, the electric car firm he co-founded, soared on hopes that Democrats would usher in a new green agenda. From a bullied schoolboy to the world’s richest person, Rob Davies examines how he got here.

  • Biden formally selected Merrick Garland as attorney general on Thursday, saying he would be the “people’s lawyer”. “Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, to the constitution to the people of this nation,” the president-elect said.

  • Iraq has issued a warrant for the arrest of Trump, as part of its investigation into the killing of a top Iraqi paramilitary commander who died in a US drone stroke. The warrant was issued under article 406 of the penal code, which gives the death penalty for all cases of premeditated murder.

Stat of the day: More people filed for unemployment on Thursday than the population of Seattle

A further 787,000 claims for unemployment were filed in the US on Thursday, more than the entire population of Seattle. On average, almost 819,000 claims are being filed every four weeks, four times as high as the pre-pandemic rate. Michael Sainato speaks to those impacted.

Don’t miss this: Regina King on art, power and being black in America

Regina King has won an Oscar, four Emmys and numerous other awards for her performances in films including If Beale Street Could Talk.
Regina King has won an Oscar, four Emmys and numerous other awards for her performances in films including If Beale Street Could Talk. Photograph: Victoria Will/Invision/AP

The acclaimed actor Regina King is preparing to release her first feature film, about the meeting of African American legends Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown, filmed in 2020 against the backdrop of Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the world. In this interview, she discusses her career, the hurdles in its path and the “mental aerobics” required to be black in America.

Last thing: A New York borough is being terrorised by a ‘possibly deranged’ squirrel

The cause of the squirrel&#x002019;s highly unusual behaviour is not known. The squirrel pictured is not the one implicated in the violence.
The cause of the squirrel’s highly unusual behaviour is not known. The squirrel pictured is not the one implicated in the violence. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Multiple residents in the borough of Queens have been attacked by a highly aggressive squirrel, leaving some afraid to go out without pepper spray or other squirrel protection. Micheline Frederick was left covered in blood after being bitten by a “deranged” squirrel, and has seen her neighbour chased down the street by a vicious rodent. Despite being left unnerved and badly injured by the attack, Frederick said she was ready to face the small beast once again. “I came out of the house with a shovel after the first few days but now I think ‘I have the vaccine, I’m wearing heavy gloves, bring it on,’” she said.

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