WEDNESDAY, Jan 27
Top United States Capitol security officials have apologised for “failings” during the deadly attack on the Capitol building by followers of former-president Donald Trump in a bid to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
The officials specifically acknowledged several missteps: conflicting intelligence, inadequate preparation and insufficient mobilisation of partner agencies, and called for improving accountability systems and communications structures.
“I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the department,” said Yolanda Pittman, the acting chief of Capitol Police, according to a prepared statement for the US House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee.
“The department failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours.”
About one dozen officials from agencies including the FBI, National Guard, Justice Department and US Capitol Police briefed House appropriators who are looking into the events of January 6.
Afterwards, Democratic Representative Tim Ryan told reporters that police officers guarding the Capitol were ordered not to use lethal force against the angry mob that pushed its way into the Capitol to commit violent acts and damage the historic building.
“That was the directive they were given,” Mr Ryan said, adding that once a lockdown was ordered at the Capitol and adjacent buildings, it was not fully enforced.
“You still had people blowing in and out … that whole entire thing needs to be reviewed,” Mr Ryan, who chairs a House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees US Capitol Police and its funding, said.
Mr Ryan emphasised that a series of investigations were still in the early stages, with many unanswered questions.
He said the force’s budgets will be reviewed, noting that officers did not have enough riot gear and other equipment to deal with the mob.
Public hearings are expected.
Pro-Trump supporters stormed the building following the former president’s encouragement at a rally.(AP: Jose Luis Magana)
Ms Pittman said many of the officers are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after the January 6 assault in which five people died, including one Capitol police officer.
Ms Pittman said the death of a second officer was indirectly linked.
She and Timothy Blodgett, the acting US House of Representatives’ sergeant at arms, said security officials are working to do more to boost protection of the US Capitol.
In the weeks since the attack, security has been heightened around the Capitol and in Washington in general, with a close to 2.5-metre-high fencing surrounding the perimeter and National Guard troops brought in for Mr Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
Some 5,000 National Guard troops will remain in Washington through mid-March.
A regional New South Wales council has been overwhelmed by donations as it joins the “next clear frontier” of Australia’s waste crisis — the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of unwanted textiles thrown out each year, reports the ABC.
Reporter Mollie Gorman writes the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that about 800,000 tonnes of textile, leather and rubber waste was discarded in the 2018-19 financial year, with a little less than 75 per cent sent directly to landfill.
Bathurst Regional Council waste management coordinator Ray Trevorah is determined to solve the problem, the report said.
“Residents have been doing the good thing, sending them to op shops,” he said.
“But with COVID restrictions, and increasing amounts of clothing waste, we are seeing more and more of that material ending up in people’s kerbside bins or ending up in the pit, decomposing in landfill, which has been contributing to council’s, and everyone’s, emissions.”
The council partnered with Sydney-based company Textile Recyclers Australia (TRA) to offer a three-month clothing recycling trial, in what is believed to be a first for regional NSW.
“It seems to be going very well, with a large uptake from the community, with more than 1,600 kilos of textiles recycled in the first month of the trial,” Dr Trevorah said.
“We underestimated it — we thought it would be something new, it might be a handful of people.”
The unwanted textiles are reused in three ways—as clothing in developing nations; cut up for rags and cleaning uses; and innovatively, broken down into fibres, for re-creation into entirely new fabrics, for bags, tea towels and t-shirts.
The majority of the clothing has come from the community, but the Bathurst Community Op Shop has also used the bins to move unwanted items.
Volunteer Moira Spinazza said blankets and pillow cases were given to local vets for animals, but there were still “tonnes” of unwanted textiles.
“We try and utilise as much as we can, without putting it into landfill,” she said.
Ms Spinazza blamed fast fashion for the proliferation.
“It’s too easy to get rid of,” she said.
“It’s too cheap to buy, and too easy to just throw out.
“It’s a throwaway society.”
TRA is among a handful of companies finding solutions to the textile waste problem.
Others include Sydney-based Blocktexx, which believed it was one of only three companies globally to find a way to chemically break clothing down into its “building blocks”.
Adrian Jones said he was inspired to find another way to deal with unwanted textiles after a career in the fashion industry.
“Bed sheets, or work shirts, or football uniforms … through a chemical process we separate those back into polyester, and cellulose, which can both be reused as high value, raw materials back into other industries,” Adrian Jones, co-founder of Blocktexx, said.
The company has patented its technology, and will begin constructing a facility to handle industrial quantities of textiles near Brisbane, later this year.
Mr Jones said more than 30,000 tonnes had already been committed, and the new plant will be able to process 3,800 tonnes a year initially, and up to 10,000 tonnes a year long-term.
“We’ve already sold the output, two or three times over, because people want to use it locally, into injection moulding, into building materials,” he said.
The trial was expected to wrap up in March but the council expected it will be extended, due to its success.
Police have visited the home of Kellyanne Conway after the former Trump adviser allegedly posted a topless photo of her 16-year-old daughter on Twitter, news.com reports.
Claudia Conway, who has gained a large social media following by publicly clashing with her high-profile parents, posted a TikTok video on Monday addressing the topless photo which appeared on her mother’s “Fleets” — Twitter’s new feature which deletes posts after 24 hours.
“I guess she accidentally posted it, or somebody hacked her. But nobody would ever have any photo like that ever. So, Kellyanne, you’re going to f***ing jail,” Claudia told her 1.6 million followers.
On Tuesday, however, the teen posted another video saying she believed her mother had been hacked and begging people to stop contacting police. “Yesterday when I was made aware of the situation I was distraught and very, very upset and I acted irrationally and impulsive and it is something I do regret,” she said.
According to the New York Post, four officers with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and Alpine Police Department showed up with papers in hand to the family’s New Jersey mansion just before noon on Tuesday. They spent about an hour inside before leaving.
Alpine Police Chief Christopher Belcolle confirmed that “an investigation is being conducted” but that “no additional information can be released”, noting that records about minors were not made public.
Meanwhile, an article of impeachment for Donald Trump has been formally presented to the US Senate but it seems unlikely to succeed. At least 17 Republicans would need to vote in favour of finding Mr Trump guilty in order for him to be convicted, and President Joe Biden told CNN he didn’t think that would happen.
Mr Trump has also given his first public update since leaving the Oval Office, announcing the establishment of his “Office of the Former President”, which will manage his correspondence, public statements, appearances and official activities.
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