First Thing: Senate Republicans set to block Capitol riot commission

·5-min read
<span>Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP</span>
Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP

Good morning.

Senate Republicans are expected to stymie the Democrats’ efforts on Friday to set up a bipartisan, 9/11-style investigative commission into the 6 January Capitol attack.

Debate on legislation to form the commission was set to begin late on Thursday, but work on another bill pushed consideration to Friday after the Senate adjourned at 3am. Friday is set to be another long day, with the Republicans expected to filibuster the House-approved commission.

  • If successful, “Filibuster Friday” will be the first filibuster in the Biden presidency to halt Senate legislative action, with the Senate evenly split 50-50 and a filibuster requiring a vote of 60 to cut off debate.

  • Today’s vote comes as a Guardian analysis found that at least 70% of people charged over the 6 January attack had been released as they wait for trial, in stark contrast to the 25% of federal defendants who are typically released before their trial.

  • Legal experts believe the disparity indicates a likelihood that many of the alleged rioters may not serve any prison time at all, even if they are convicted or plead guilty.

US investigating if Ukraine interfered in 2020 election

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating whether Ukrainian officials attempted to undermine Joe Biden and help Donald Trump win the 2020 presidential election, according to a report from the New York Times.

Part of the investigation includes looking into whether the officials used Rudy Giuliani, then Trump’s personal lawyer, to spread misleading claims about Biden.

Arizona preparing to start killing death row inmates again

Arizona has “refurbished” its gas chamber after 22 years of disuse as the state prepares to restart executions.

The move comes seven years after the botched lethal injection of Joseph Wood in 2014, and after the Guardian revealed last month that Arizona had spent $1.5m on a batch of pentobarbital, a sedative which it intends to use as its main lethal injection.

10 dead in mass shooting in San Jose, California

The father of shooting victim Paul Delacruz Megia outside San Jose city hall
The father of shooting victim Paul Delacruz Megia outside San Jose city hall. Photograph: Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images

More details have emerged about the shooting at a San Jose rail yard this week that left 10 people dead, including the shooter.

  • Authorities have identified the victims as bus and light rail operators, mechanics, linemen and an assistant superintendent: Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63, and Lars Kepler Lane, 63. A ninth victim, Alex Ward Fritch, 49, was transported to a local hospital in critical condition and died on Wednesday evening, the coroner’s office said.

  • The county sheriff has identified the shooter as a longtime maintenance worker at the facility. The shooter’s ex-wife said he had talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago.

In other news…

  • Three Washington state police officers charged in killing of Manuel Ellis: Moments before his death, the 33-year-old Black father of two called out: “I can’t breathe.” The charges filed against three Tacoma police officers mark the first time first time the state attorney general’s office has filed criminal charges against police officers for unlawful use of deadly force.

  • California launches a $1.5m Covid vaccine lottery, becoming the latest state to incentivize people to get vaccinated with the country’s largest single prize draw.

  • Whistleblower known to speak out about UFOs claims Pentagon tried to discredit him: Luis Elizondo, who headed the Pentagon’s now-defunct Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, lodged a complaint with the defense department’s inspector general alleging that his former agency threatened to tell people he was crazy.

  • Vaccination rate patterns in Wisconsin reflect those nationwide in that they vary widely between rural and urban areas and political, religious and racial groups.

  • The Biden administration is facing criticism for backing a Trump-era oil drilling project in Alaska.

  • Texas Democratic lawmakers killed a transphobic bill intended for student athletes by stalling until it passed its deadline.

  • Bill Cosby’s parole petition was denied after he refused therapy for sex offenders.

Stat of the day: 89% of new tobacco smokers are addicted by the age of 25

The number of smokers worldwide has reached an all-time high of 1.1 billion, with 8 million killed in 2019, according to a new study.

Don’t miss this: a conversation about American colonialism and sovereignty

The Oceti Sakowin camp during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota
The Oceti Sakowin camp during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota. Photograph: Stephanie Keith/Reuters

Jacqueline Keeler, founder of the #notyourmascot hashtag that highlighted the way sports teams use Native American mascots to perpetuate racist caricatures, spoke to the Guardian about her new book, Standoff, which explores the differences between two recent attempts to assert sovereignty on American soil: the Bundy clan’s far-right interpretation of Oregon’s constitution, and the Standing Rock Sioux protest over the Dakota Access pipeline.

Last Thing: A glass case of emotion

Amazon was torn apart on the internet on Thursday after sharing a video of “AmaZen”, a booth installed in an Amazon warehouse for employees to go focus on their mental health. “I feel like liveable wages and working conditions are better than a mobile Despair Closet,” writer Talia Levin tweeted.

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