Federal officials sought ‘heat ray’ to clear Black Lives Matter protests in Washington – reports
The Washington Post this morning have a report from a whistleblower about the extent to which law enforcement official were trying to stockpile ammunition and source weapons before clearing protesters from Lafayette Square, Washington DC in early June.
The Post reports the sworn testimony DC National Guard Maj. Adam D. DeMarco, saying:
DeMarco’s account contradicts the administration’s claims that protesters were violent, tear gas was never used and demonstrators were given ample warning to disperse — a legal requirement before police move to clear a crowd. His testimony also offers a glimpse into the equipment and weaponry federal forces had — and others that they sought — during the early days of protests that have continued for more than 100 days in the nation’s capital.
The weapons sought included “devices that could emit deafening sounds and make anyone within range feel like their skin is on fire”. DeMarco said they were looking to use crowd control technology deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones.
Overnight Congresswoman Ilhan Omar responded to the reports, saying the current behaviour of authorities was “a test of the strength” of the US Constitution.
The clean-up may have started after Hurricane Sally hit the Gulf coast yesterday, but experts are warning that there may be more danger yet to come for residents in Alabama and Florida from rivers swollen by the storm’s rains.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned residents and visitors in flooded areas that they would need to remain vigilant as water from the hurricane subsides, because heavy rains to the north were expected to cause flooding in Panhandle rivers in the coming days.
“So this is kind of the initial salvo, but there is going to be more that you’re going to have to contend with,” DeSantis said at a Wednesday news conference in Tallahassee.
Pensacola bore the brunt, with nearly 3 feet (1 meter) of water covering streets downtown, the National Weather Service reported.
Some Pensacola streets looked like rivers with whitecaps at times. The waters swamped parked cars before receding.
A replica of Christopher Columbus’ ship the Nina was missing from where it was docked at the Pensacola waterfront, police said. The ship was later seen run aground in downtown Pensacola, Pensacola News Journal reported.
The storm was a nerve-racking experience for University of West Florida student Brooke Shelter. She was wide awake Wednesday morning as strong winds and rainfall battered her home, marking her first experience with a hurricane. “The damage around my home is pretty minor, for which I am thankful for,” Shelter said. “However, it is so sad seeing how flooded downtown is.”
Smoke from west coast wildfires stretching across US and pushing as far as Europe
Here’s some of the latest on the wildfires from the Associated Press, which reports that the smoke from the western United States is stretching clear across the country and even pushing into Mexico, Canada and Europe.
Susan Montoya Bryan writes that while the dangerous plumes are forcing people inside along the west Coast, residents thousands of miles away in the east are seeing unusually hazy skies and remarkable sunsets.
Although experts say the smoke poses less of a health concern for those who are farther away, and New Yorkers were flooding social media with shots of a spectacular sunset, on the west coast, air quality conditions were among some of the worst ever recorded.
Smoke cloaked the Golden Gate Bridge and left Portland and Seattle in an ashy fog, as crews have exhausted themselves trying to keep the flames from consuming more homes and even wider swaths of forest.
Satellite images showed that smoke from the wildfires has traveled almost 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) to Britain and other parts of northern Europe, scientists said Wednesday.
The current weather system, which favors a westerly wind across the higher levels of the atmosphere, is to blame for the reach of the smoke, experts explained.
“We always seem, at times, to get the right combination of enough smoke and the upper level jet stream to line up to bring that across the country, so we’re just seeing this again,” said Matt Solum with the National Weather Service’s regional operations center in Salt Lake City, Utah. “It’s definitely not the first time this has happened.”
Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York City, said she woke up Wednesday to a red sunrise and more haze.
She said millions of people who live beyond the flames can end up dealing with diminished air quality as it’s not uncommon for wildfire smoke to travel hundreds of miles.
Although the health impacts are reduced the farther and higher into the atmosphere the smoke travels, Knowlton and her colleagues said the resulting haze can exacerbate existing problems like asthma and add to ozone pollution.
Overnight Joe Biden continued his theme of calling Donald Trump a ‘climate arsonist’ and attempting to make the president’s response to wildfires a campaign issue.
Good morning and welcome to our US politics live blog for Thursday. Here’s a quick catch-up on where we are, and a taster of what might be coming up during the day
- The CDC director Robert Redfield said a coronavirus vaccine won’t be widely available until late 2021. Donald Trump outlined a national federal plan to distribute it, but contradicted him and said it would be ready mid-October.
- Redfield also suggested that face masks may be “more guaranteed to protect me against Covid” than a vaccine. Trump also later contradicted that, saying “No, vaccine is much more effective than the masks.”
- Joe Biden said “Let me be clear, I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump, and at this moment, the American people can’t either.”
- There were 993 new coronavirus deaths recorded in the US yesterday. There were also 39,124 new Covid cases. The last couple of days have seen a slight movement up again on the national caseload, and levels are very similar to that seen a fortnight ago.
- A study has found that minorities are much more likely than white people to test positive for Covid.
- Hurricane Sally has killed one person and left ‘historic flooding’ across the metropolitan areas of Pensacola, Florida, and Mobile, Alabama, encompassing nearly a million people.
- Wild fires continue to burn on the west coast as armed civilian roadblocks in the Oregon town of Corbett fuel fears over vigilantism.
- Acting secretary of homeland security Chad Wolf, FBI director Christopher Wray and national counterterrorism center cirector Christopher Miller will testify before the House committee on homeland security at 9am.
- Nancy Pelosi has demanded an investigation into a whistleblower’s claims that there were forced hysterectomy procedures at an Ice centre in Georgia.
- The president’s plans today include a credentialing ceremony for newly appointed ambassadors in the morning, delivering remarks at the White House Conference on American History which is being held at the National Archives Museum in DC, and then he heads for a campaign stop in Mosinee, Wisconsin.
- Biden will be fund-raising in the morning, and hosting a virtual Rosh Hashanah event this afternoon. Then later on in Scranton, Pennsylvania he will be doing a CNN town hall.
I’m Martin Belam and you are welcome to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org