World number one Novak Djokovic published an open letter to the Australian public on Twitter on Wednesday night in which he tried to “clarify” demands he appeared to make to the organisers of the Australian Open.
Djokovic, an eight-times champion in Melbourne, was widely harangued on Tuesday after reportedly issuing a list of demands in a letter to Tennis Australia that included moving quarantined players into private homes with tennis courts and getting them better meals.
Australian media zeroed in on the demands, portraying them as petulant and selfish while fellow player Nick Kyrgios called him a “tool”.
In Wednesday’s tweet, Djokovic said his letter to Australian Open director Craig Tiley had been taken the wrong way.
“My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult and ungrateful,” said Djokovic. “This couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
Djokovic said he was merely speaking up for fellow players who were not being treated as well as him.
At least 72 players have been barred from leaving their rooms for two weeks after coronavirus cases were detected on their charter flights into the country.
Others are allowed out of their rooms for up to five hours a day to train under strictly-controlled conditions.
“I genuinely care about my fellow players and I also understand very well how the world is run and who gets bigger and better and why,” said the 33-year-old Serb.
“I’ve earned my privileges the hard way and for that reason, it is very difficult for me to be a mere onlooker knowing how much every help, gesture and good word mattered to me when I was small and insignificant in the world pecking order.
“Hence, I use my position of privilege to be of service as much as I can where and when needed.”
Djokovic said his letter to Tiley was a “brainstorm about potential improvements that could be made to the quarantine of players in Melbourne that were in full lockdown” and not a list of demands.
“There were a few suggestions and ideas that I gathered from other players from our chat group and there was no harm intended to try and help.
“Things in the media escalated and there was a general impression that the players (including myself) are ungrateful, weak and selfish because of their unpleasant feelings in quarantine,” he wrote.
“I am very sorry that is has come to that because I do know how grateful many are.”
The Australian Open is due to start on February 8.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal watchdogs launched a sweeping review of how the FBI, the Pentagon and other law enforcement agencies responded to the riot at the U.S. Capitol, including whether there were failures in information sharing and other preparations that left the historic symbol of democracy vulnerable to assault by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters.
The inquiries, undertaken by the inspectors general for the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Interior and Defense, carry the potential of yielding searing criticism of the government’s handling of a deadly breach at the Capitol in which armed loyalists of Trump overran the police and came in close contact with elected officials. The reviews will encompass everything from whether the FBI adequately shared information with other law enforcement agencies about the potential for violence to how the Pentagon mobilized for the Jan. 6 crisis.
The initiation of multiple, simultaneous inquiries comes as failings in the government’s preparation, coordination and response are coming into sharper focus more than a week after the riot. The Capitol Police, for instance, has said it had prepared for only First Amendment activity at the Capitol on the day that lawmakers had assembled to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump, even though Trump himself had for weeks encouraged his supporters to come to Washington and had called on them to “fight like hell” at a rally shortly before the riot.
The Pentagon has said the Capitol Police turned down an offer for help days before the riot. Once it became clear on the day of the event that its help would be needed, the Defense Department had to scramble to bring in a larger force to back up the police.
An FBI official who initially said there was no intelligence suggesting out-of-control violence later acknowledged that the bureau was aware of a warning on an internet message board, though the official said the message was not attributable to an individual person.
At the Justice Department, the inspector general investigation will examine whether information was adequately shared by Justice to other agencies, including the Capitol Police, about the potential for violence.
The inspector general said it “also will assess whether there are any weaknesses in DOJ protocols, policies, or procedures that adversely affected the ability of DOJ or its components to prepare effectively for and respond to the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.”
The review will almost certainly include an assessment of intelligence that the Justice Department — and particularly the FBI — had collected before and after the riot. It comes days after the FBI conceded that one of its field offices compiled an internal bulletin that warned of potential violence aimed at Congress.
The Washington Post reported that the Jan. 5 report from the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, said the bulletin detailed threats from extremists to commit a “war.”
Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said that once he received the warning, the information was quickly shared with other law enforcement agencies through the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington, D.C.
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general office said it would look into the response of its component agencies, focusing in part on the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. That unit issues alerts to law enforcement agencies around the country.
The Interior Department’s internal watchdog, meanwhile, will review the actions of the Park Police on the Ellipse, the site of Trump’s speech to supporters at a rally before the riot.
And the Defense Department’s inspector general announced it is launching a review of the Pentagon’s “roles, responsibilities and actions” to prepare for and respond to the protest at which Trump spoke and the subsequent insurrection at the Capitol.
Associated Press writers Ellen Knickmeyer and Ben Fox contributed to this report.
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Australia’s peak medical body is calling for a coordinated national response to bring an end to a syphilis outbreak that has spread through the country for 10 years.
An interstate syphilis outbreak has been spreading for 10 years
The AMA is calling for a national Centre for Disease Control to respond to the outbreak
Aboriginal medical groups are calling for more funding for on-the-ground prevention and treatment
The sexually transmitted infection is easily treatable but has been moving through parts of Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia since January 2011.
It has primarily affected young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote and rural areas, particularly Northern Australia.
More than 3,600 people have been diagnosed since the outbreak began, according to federal Department of Health data.
“It was fairly clear that there was a very ineffective response to this very significant disease epidemic across four states,” the Australian Medical Association’s NT president, Dr Robert Parker, said.
“And there was a total lack of coordination from the various states and territories in dealing with it,”
Australia does not currently have a national CDC, but the AMA has been calling on the Federal Government to establish one since 2017.
In a statement, a spokeswoman from the federal Department of Health said a body called the National Framework for Communicable Disease Control, endorsed by the COAG Health Council in 2014, was considered a better option than a national CDC.
Simple to treat, difficult to control
Syphilis can be diagnosed with a blood test and treated with a course of penicillin.
But Dr Andrew Webster, the head of clinical governance at the Darwin-based Indigenous health service Danila Dilba, said the infection can have catastrophic consequences if it isn’t dealt with early.
“It’s a really challenging disease to get on top of because people aren’t necessarily knowing they have the disease until they come to a clinic, get a blood test, and then are identified so we can treat it,” Dr Webster said.
“If left untreated, it can cause tertiary syphilis which can create something that sort of looks like dementia, I guess, in layperson’s terms.”
Syphilis can also be transmitted from pregnant women to their children, with the departmental data confirming at least 10 congenital cases and three deaths across Australia since 2011.
“If this epidemic had occurred on the Queensland-New South Wales border … there would have been a lot of federal interest and intervention.
“Because it’s Aboriginal kids in remote places, the Federal Government really doesn’t seem to care.”
Fears of funding cliff
In 2017, a group of state and federal government health officials developed a strategic approach to deal with the outbreak, which was endorsed by a ministerial advisory council alongside an action plan.
$21.2 million in federal funding was given to Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations to fund extra staff and point-of-care testing until 2021.
John Paterson, the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT, says the funding is due to expire next month.
He’s questioned what that will mean for screening and education programs in remote areas, which he says already need more resourcing.
“It’s not enough,” he said.
Dr Webster credited the Federal Government for its efforts so far in bringing the outbreak under control, and hoped funding and good relationships with Indigenous health organisations would continue.
The department spokeswoman said the government’s response would be reviewed this year before any further commitments were made.
She said a syphilis medication was also added to the Emergency Drug Supply Schedule in September 2019, and that was intended to treat the infection for Aboriginal populations in non-remote areas in a timely manner.
Indigenous medical groups hope the positive relationships they’ve built with governments during the COVID-19 pandemic response will help streamline the response to other major health issues in the future.
“It’s allowed us to have our input and have a say and ensure that Aboriginal voices are being heard,” Mr Paterson said.
“A very similar model is what we should be striving for to deal with STIs as well.”
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“We understand the significance of this disruption and sincerely apologise to our impacted merchants,” he said. “We are committed to genuinely considering all options to help our customers who have been impacted by this issue and these discussions will be prioritised once the issue has been completely resolved.”
Mr Cooke said Tyro had been actively collecting, repairing and returning terminals and was working “24/7” with terminal provider Wordline and partner Amtek.
“We are working at pace and will be in a position to update customers and the market on this shortly, when we will also have a clearer idea of how long it will take to have most impacted customers back to normal operations,” he said.
Tyro listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in December 2019 and is chaired by former Telstra chief executive David Thodey.
The fintech was valued at $1.4 billion on debut and reported a $19 million loss in February last year.
Melbourne craft brewer Moon Dog was one of the businesses hit by the outage with nine of its 14 Tyro terminals bricking on Wednesday last week and chief executive Maurice McGrath said the terminals still have not been replaced.
“It hasn’t affected us as much as other businesses as we have still been able to get by with the five still working,” he said.
However Mr McGrath said he would consider switching payment providers as a result of the outage.
“Our priority at the moment is to make sure they are operational again but the reality again is that when you have a significant technological issue you have to evaluate your options going forward.”
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THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT is under growing pressure to adopt stricter restrictions in response to the emergence of new, more transmissible mutations of the new coronavirus.
Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) stated on YLE A-studio on Monday that the government has no choice but to re-examine its strategy to combat the epidemic in light of the development.
Kiuru pointed out that the incidence of the coronavirus has been on the decline in Finland since Christmas. The more transmissible mutations, however, have stirred up concerns within the government, with reports indicating that they have caused at least 49 infections in the country in the past several weeks.
“Measures have been proposed to step up security at the borders, but so have tighter restrictions that we could adopt inside the country,” she stated to the public broadcasting company, estimating that the restrictions could target, for example, restaurants, public spaces and leisure activities.
“We’ll also have to consider the possibility of suspending upper-secondary [education] activities. We’re for the first time ever in a situation where it appears that the virus is transmitting more easily also to children and young people.”
Helsingin Sanomat on Monday revealed that nearly all of the infections caused by the mutations have been detected in passengers arriving in the country or people who have into close contact with them. The source of infection is unknown only in three cases, which were detected through regular diagnostic protocols not linked to testing at the borders.
“It’s impossible to point to any kind of travel-related contact in these cases,” Mika Salminen, the head of health security at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), confirmed to Helsingin Sanomat.
“That isn’t terribly surprising because it isn’t always possible to determine every close contact. There may, though, be an indirect contact with someone who has travelled in the background.”
The British variant of the coronavirus has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of new infections in, for example, Ireland. The incidence of the virus in the country has jumped from 80 to 1,129 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in roughly a month, with the latest data set showing that the new variant accounted for 45 per cent of new cases, according to the BBC.
Could the same happen in Finland?
“Travelling was at another level [in Ireland],” Salminen replied to Helsingin Sanomat. “It’s not surprising that the situation is like this in Ireland, if the variant has enriched in England and is now the prevalent form.”
It also remains premature to make predictions about its impact on the epidemiological situation in Finland. “Using the precautionary principle, we’ve tried to minimise the variant’s entry to Finland.”
The effort to combat the new mutations is founded on measures introduced at the border and sequencing the variants inside the country in an attempt to make sure any changes are detected as soon as possible. Salminen said he is not aware of any plan for the eventuality that the variant accelerates the epidemic in Finland similarly to Ireland or Great Britain.
“I don’t think there’s information at this time about what should be done and shouldn’t be done. The situation is fairly calm right now, but we’re naturally monitoring it constantly. I’m sure additional restrictions will be adopted if they’re deemed necessary,” he told Helsingin Sanomat.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
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Former President Barack Obama took to Twitter Friday to address why Civil Rights groups and lawmakers are furious over the vastly different approach law enforcement took to Wednesday’s U.S. Capitol breach compared to last summer’s Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.
Obama posted three articles to his Twitter that looked at different explanations as to why law enforcement and federal authorities were under-prepared for an event that led to the first time the Capitol was raided in over 200 years.
BIDEN JOINS CLAIMS OF ‘WHITE PRIVILEGE’ DIRECTED TOWARD US CAPITOL RIOTERS
A study reported by FiveThirtyEight found that between May and November last year, authorities were “more than twice as likely to attempt to break up” a left-leaning protest than a right-leaning protest.
The study, conducted by the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, also found that when law enforcement did chose to act, they were more likely to use force “34 percent of the time with right-wing protests compared with 51 percent with left-wing protests.”
President-elect Joe Biden also expressed his belief that had the crowds of men dressed in face paint and protective riot gear storming the Capitol been BLM supporters, the response by law enforcement would have looked differently.
“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. We all know that’s true, and it is unacceptable,” Biden said in a Thursday address. “Totally unacceptable.”
Some on Capitol Hill also agreed with the president-elect. “We would have been shot, had we tried to do all of that,” freshmen Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday night.
Bush, who took shelter in her office with her staff — just three days after being sworn into office — as rioters flooded through the Capitol building, got her start as a BLM organizer after first marching in Ferguson following the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr.
Obama also referenced an article in The New Yorker that claimed the Capitol Police just didn’t take the threat of Trump’s supporter’s seriously, adding the protesters were “familiar enough to be dismissed as clowns.”
“The invaders may be full of contempt for a system that they think doesn’t represent them, but on Wednesday they managed to prove that it does,” the article written by Masha Gessen read.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris voiced her frustration over the scene of pro-Trump supporters climbing the walls of the Capitol, breaking windows and barring doors said, “We have witnessed two systems of justice.”
“One that let extremists storm the U.S. Capitol yesterday, and another that released tear gas on peaceful protestors last summer,” she continued.
HOW WEDNESDAY’S CAPITOL RIOT COME TO FRUITION AND WHO MADE IT HAPPEN
Obama echoed Harris’ frustration by pointing out a CNN article that described strategic differences law enforcement took between Wednesday and last summer. The article included a photo that showed three rows of armed National Guard lining the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
But conservative groups have pushed back on the incoming administration and their claims of a double standard — accusing Biden and Harris of “gas lighting.”
“Four people are dead after what happened yesterday. And you know what? People died last summer, too. Countless businesses destroyed. People’s livelihoods set on fire and stolen. You refused to condemn that violence. Yesterday was horrific, but you’ve lost your right to moralize,” National Review writer Alexandra DeSanctis wrote on Twitter.
“This is complete nonsense,” conservative writer A.G. Hamilton said in reaction to Biden’s remarks. “It’s gaslighting that requires ignoring what we actually witnessed on a nightly basis last summer.”
Though Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had arranged for 340 National Guardsmen to be present in the city on Wednesday, none of them were armed or located at the Capitol at the start of the riots.
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The Pentagon later approved the full deployment of D.C.’s 1,800 National Guardsmen along with more soldiers from nearby Virginia and Maryland, but it took time for them to mobilize and travel to the Capitol.
FBI and ATF officers were immediately called in to assist the Capitol Police are they were overwhelmed by rioters.
One Capitol Police officer was killed during the raid.
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Ukraine tennis star Dayana Yastremska was suspended on Friday after testing positive for a banned anabolic agent used in male infertility treatment with the world number 29 insisting she was “astonished and shocked” by the result.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said Yastremska was positive for the banned mesterolone metabolite in an out-of-competition test conducted last November.
“I firmly state that I have never used any performance enhancing drugs or prohibited substances,” Yastremska said on Twitter.
“I’m astonished and under shock, particularly given that two weeks prior to this test on November 9, I tested negative at the WTA event in Linz.
“Only a very low concentration of mesterolone metabolite was detected in my urine. Given that low concentration and given my negative test two weeks earlier, I have received scientific advice that the result is consistent with some form of contamination event.
“Besides I have been informed that this substance is meant to be used as medication by men and women are advised not to use it due to adverse side effects.”
Yastremska has won three WTA titles in her career with a best Grand Slam performance a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2019.
She was embroiled in scandal six months ago after posting a picture of herself wearing blackface to social media.
Like many in Australia, I awoke Thursday to an America in crisis.
From Sydney, I pounced on the images as they filed in — MAGA-clad rioters scaling the walls of the Capitol, or taking selfies on the floor of the Senate, or laidback in the office of the Speaker of the House.
In those initial moments, they left me, above all else, confused. Where were the wounded? The fallen?
I’ve lived in DC and I’ve seen the forces that patrol our halls of government. Surely, I assumed, they didn’t give way willingly.
In the midst of the attack on the Capitol, CNN commentator Van Jones was one of many to echo a quickly growing call: “Imagine if #BlackLivesMatter were the ones who were storming the Capitol building”.
It wasn’t long ago that BLM occupied those same streets, so we don’t have to strain hard to imagine.
In June, authorities unleashed flash grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets upon peaceful Black Lives Matters protesters assembled in Lafayette Square, mere blocks from the Capitol, so that President Donald Trump could pose for a photograph in front of St John’s Church.
When speaking of protestors outside the White House the day before, Trump said that if they breached the gates they “would … have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least”.
Cities across the country witnessed violence unleashed on protesters — peaceful and otherwise — and over 10,000 people were arrested.
In response to Thursday’s violence, MSNBC commentator Joy Reid stated the seemingly obvious: “Guarantee you if that was a Black Lives Matter protest in DC there would already be people shackled, arrested or dead”.
A difference too stark to ignore
The contrast in responses to Thursday’s events and the BLM protests over the American summer was too stark to ignore. Black Lives Matter’s official account tweeted that authorities provided “one more example of the hypocrisy in our country’s law enforcement response to protest”.
But that is where they were wrong.
There was no logical inconsistency in authorities’ response to the attack; they simply upheld the mantel they’ve been handed. State-sanctioned, black brutalisation is as American as apple pie. So is violent white grievance.
Black brutalisation is woven into the very fabric of America. The nation was, quite literally, built upon it.
According to Yale historian David Blight, in the final years before emancipation, “the nearly 4 million American slaves were worth some $US3.5 billion, making them the largest single financial asset in the entire US economy, worth more than all manufacturing and railroads combined”.
The Capitol itself was constructed by enslaved peoples. The Civil War, the bloodiest in our nation’s history, was waged over the right to continue black brutalisation and in the century that followed, lynching, or mob justice, claimed the lives of more than 4,000 people.
Many of these executions were staged as communal spectacles — organisers often mass-produced postcards emblazoned with images of the bodies so attendees could commemorate the affair.
Today, black men are imprisoned at a rate of more than five times their white counterparts and are more than 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by the police. It is, of course, this last iteration that has grabbed headlines most recently.
For years we have been drip-fed videos of unarmed black Americans facing their final moments of life. Like a generation ago, the images of black suffering come home with us.
The airing of white grievance has, since our founding, been the other side of this coin.
The insurrectionists on Thursday marched under the Confederate flag, a fitting ode to their treasonous forebears who similarly failed in their attempt to overthrow our institutions.
Fruits of the same grisly tree
Decades after, in the summer of 1919, as World War I veterans returned from war to an economy unprepared to accept them, racial tensions flared in cities across the United States. Between April and October of that year, white mobs beat and lynched hundreds with impunity in a period known as the Red Summer.
Two years, later, white mobs decimated Tulsa, Oklahoma, then the most prosperous black community in America, killing dozens. Two years after that, white mobs did the same to Rosewood, Florida.
In 2017, we were reminded of this history when white supremacists organisations descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, clashing with counter-protesters there. Then, as now, police were ill-prepared to confront the threat. Counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed in that conflict.
Violent white grievance has long roots in our country and Trumpism itself is an inheritor to its legacy. That is the thinly veiled core of statements like “there were good people on both sides” and “stand back and stand by”.
Which is why it should come as little surprise that snarled at BLM protesters — “when the looting starts the shooting starts” — yet embraced Thursday’s rioters — “Go home. We love you. You’re very special. I know how you feel”.
It does not matter that protesters were, in the first instance, acting on the unjust killings of American citizens and, in the second, attempting to uproot the very foundation of our democracy.
Both reactions underscore a truth that black Americans have long known: it is safer to be white and wrong than it is to be black and right.
Grief is only legitimate when aired by white voices. That is our American legacy.
It is why a black man can kneel for the national anthem and receive the ire of a nation. It is why white men can storm the Capitol Building dressed in military fatigues, draped in the rebel flag, and toast to their own patriotism upon arrival.
Both are fruits of the same grisly tree.
Cole Brown is an American political commentator and author of Greyboy: Finding Blackness in a White World.
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The Centre’s subsidy bill for the current fiscal is likely to be higher than the budgeted ₹2.27-lakh crore by at least ₹40,000 crore, largely on account of higher spending on food and fertiliser.
Data with the Comptroller General of Accounts (CGA) show that expenditure by the Department of Fertilisers touched 92 per cent of the budget estimate (BE) by November this fiscal, while spending by the Department of Food and Public Distribution has already exceeded the full year target to touch 108 per cent of the BE.
Low oil prices helped contain the expenditure by the Ministry of Petroleum at 54 per cent of the BE by end-November 2020.
“On account of fertilisers and food, we may see an increase of ₹40,000-50,000 crore in the revised estimates (RE) for subsidy in 2020-21 compared to the BE,” said Devendra Pant, Chief Economist, India Ratings and Research (Fitch Group). He added that the subsidy bill is also likely to be higher for FY22 compared to BE FY21, but possibly lower than RE FY21.
However, experts say the increased subsidies will not have much of an impact on the exchequer.
The overall expenditure is largely under control, and the real shock is likely to come from low revenue receipts.
The higher outlay on subsidy must also be seen in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, with the Centre announcing relief measures under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.
Food subsidy scheme
This includes the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana that covered more than 80 crore people. Each family was provided with 5 kg of free wheat or rice, along with 1 kg free whole chana, per month. The Centre is bearing 100 per cent of the financial burden of the scheme.
Subsidies from the Centre and State have seen a steady uptake by beneficiaries, as can be seen from Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) data since even before the pandemic. Total DBT transfers so far this fiscal amount to over ₹2.61-lakh crore through 225.4 crore transactions, against ₹3.81-lakh crore last fiscal through 438 crore transactions.
About 75.8 crore people have benefited through cash transfers and another 71.91 crore through DBT in kind.
In the current fiscal, PDS (public distribution system) transfers through DBT amount to ₹50,695 crore while for fertiliser they add up to ₹54,763 crore. Similarly, DBT transfers for MGNREGA scheme stood at ₹50,221 crore.
Cash transfers under various schemes have also seen robust response from beneficiaries, as can be inferred from data on Aadhaar-enabled Payment System, where the value and volume of transactions have risen steadily this year.
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What can one say, really, in the wake of the unprecedented insurrection taking place in Washington, D.C., as a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol? Well, one thing that did not elude the notice of many, many people was that the Capitol Police had a decidedly different approach to previous protestors in and outside the home of the U.S. Congress—as recently as last summer during Black Lives Matter protests for racial equity in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and too many other Black people around the country.
Consider the images you’ve seen today of the pro-Trump mob roaming around the Capitol, even posing for photos and making a statement at the podium of the Senate chamber. Then look at these photos below and see if you can discern what might be different.
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