First Thing: Six months on, Republican efforts to deny Capitol attack are working

·6-min read
<span>Photograph: José Luis Magaña/AP</span>
Photograph: José Luis Magaña/AP

Good morning.

As America marks six months since the 6 January attack on the Capitol on Tuesday, politicians and rightwing media are attempting to erase the insurrection from US history.

Despite being described as America’s darkest day since 9/11, interviews with supporters of the former president Donald Trump suggest that the riot denialism is working, writes the Guardian’s Washington bureau chief, David Smith.

Amid fears of a repeat of those events, many of those interviewed refused to condemn people who beat police officers, called for the former vice-president Mike Pence to be hanged and brought scenes of chaos and destruction to Washington.

  • All of these frightening things that we saw happen are now being denied or being laid at the feet of Antifa or the FBI or some other source, which just seems at this point ludicrous,” said Monika McDermott, a political science professor at Fordham University in New York.

  • What’s the significance for the future? Kurt Bardella, a former Republican congressional aide who is now a Democrat, said it could lead to the same thing happening again. “If those who would deny the gravity of what happened on January 6 achieved a position of power, it is almost a guarantee that this will happen again, only it will be even more violent and more deadly.”

  • At Trump’s first post-presidential rally in Wellington, Ohio on 26 June, riot denialism was widespread.

  • Meanwhile, Republican governors in Arkansas, West Virginia and Utah are urging vaccine-hesitant residents to get Covid vaccinations.

Four more victims of Miami condo collapse found, but 117 still unaccounted for

Baseball fans pay tribute to the victims of the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida after a baseball game between the Miami Marlins and the LA Dodgers on Monday.
Baseball fans pay tribute to the victims of the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida after a game between the Miami Marlins and the LA Dodgers on Monday. Photograph: Wilfredo Lee/AP

Four more victims of the condo collapse in Miami, Florida were found on Monday, bringing the death toll to 28. Twelve days after the deadly incident at Champlain Towers South in Surfside, more than 117 people are still unaccounted for.

Rescue crews used explosives to bring down the remainder of the structure, opening up a previously unreachable part of the site.

  • Nobody has been rescued alive since the first hours after the collapse. Danielle Levine Cava, the county mayor, said “chances are growing dimmer” of finding living survivors.

  • Miami-Dade police on Sunday identified David Epstein, 58, as one of the victims to have died in the fallen tower.

  • Tropical Storm Elsa is approaching, bringing added urgency to demolition plans. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Florida because of the storm.

The former head of a dam company has been found guilty over the assassination of an indigenous environmentalist

Supporters of Berta C&#xe1;ceres protest during the trial of Roberto David Castillo in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Monday.
Supporters of Berta Cáceres protest during the trial of Roberto David Castillo in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Monday. Photograph: Elmer Martinez/AP

The former head of a dam company has been found guilty over the assassination of the indigenous environmentalist Berta Cáceres.

Cáceres, who won the Goldman prize for environmental defenders, was shot dead by hired killers on 2 March 2016 after years of threats linked to her opposition to the Agua Zarca dam in Honduras, writes Nina Lakhani.

Roberto David Castillo – a US-trained former Honduran army intelligence officer and the former head of the dam company Desarrollos Energéticos, or Desa – was found guilty of being a co-collaborator in ordering the murder by the high court in Tegucigalpa, which ruled that Cáceres was murdered for leading the campaign to stop the dam being built.

  • What’s the background? The destructive dam on the Gualcarque river, which is considered sacred by the Lenca people, was approved despite not meeting national and international requirements.

  • As well as being known for her opposition to the dam, Cáceres was a political analyst, LGBTQ+ rights and human rights campaigner.

In other news …

Brazil&#x002019;s President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia last week.
Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, in Brasília last week. Photograph: Adriano Machado/Reuters
  • Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is coming under mounting pressure over reports of an embezzlement scheme. The far-right populist, who is already accused of mishandling Covid, has been implicated in an alleged corruption racket over his workforce’s wages.

  • Richard Donner, the director of Superman and The Goonies, has died aged 91. The New York-born Hollywood director and producer died on Monday, his wife, the film producer Lauren Shuler Donner, reportedly said. Steven Spielberg paid tribute to him, saying he was “gifted across so many genres” and “the greatest Goonie of all”.

  • Wisconsin’s gray wolf population plunged by as much as a third after they were removed from the endangered list in January. A study by the University of Wisconsin released on Monday found that poaching and a hunt in February were largely responsible for the huge drop in population numbers. Gray wolves in the lower 48 states were removed from the US Fish and Wildlife Service list of endangered and threatened species in January, soon before Donald Trump left office.

Stat of the day: an estimated 200,000 more US small businesses closed in 2020 than in an average year but “Sacramento’s Black Wall Street” lost only one

Amid Covid-19 closures, changing guidelines and a lack of financial support from the government hundreds of thousands of US small businesses were forced to shut last year. But amazingly, Florin Square, a shopping district in California known as “Sacramento’s Black Wall Street”, bucked the trend. Out of more than 60 largely Black-owned businesses, only one closed permanently. The shopping hub’s owner, Tom Donaldson, tells Abené Clayton it is the result of its unique approach to entrepreneurship.

Don’t miss this: the growing influence of anti-abortion extremists

Operation Save America, which opposes Covid vaccination, women in power and same-sex marriage, is one of the extreme anti-abortion groups gaining growing influence among rightwing lawmakers. With their millennial leadership, underground hit book and social media presence, they have evolved. Jessica Glenza reports from Phoenix, Arizona.

… or this: why living with Covid would not be the same as living with flu

As England prepares to drop coronavirus restrictions, despite soaring infections, and the UK government says people will have to “find ways to cope with it”, as they do with flu, the Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample, explains why life with the two viruses is not comparable.

Last Thing: RIP Big Jake, the world’s tallest horse

Jerry Gilbert brushing Big Jake at the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, Wisconsin in 2014.
Jerry Gilbert brushing Big Jake at the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2014. Photograph: Carrie Antlfinger/AP

At 6ft 10 in (nearly 2.1 metres), Big Jake’s staggering height earned him the Guinness Book of World Records title of the world’s tallest living horse in 2010. But his owner has reported that the 2,500lb (1,136kg) Belgian from Poynette, Wisconsin has died. Jerry Gilbert, who described the horse as a “superstar” and a “truly magnificent animal”, said life on the farm had been very quiet since his death. He told WMTV: “Jake was the center of attention around here. There is a huge void. It feels like he’s still here, but he’s not.”

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