Washington DC prepares for Biden inauguration

Security has been ramped up in Washington DC in preparation for an inauguration like no other.
Some 25,000 National Guard reserve soldiers have been deployed in the wake of the storming of the Capitol building by a pro-Trump mob on 6 January that left five people dead. The number of spectators will be greatly reduced due to the pandemic and Donald Trump will snub his successor by not attending – something that has not happened for more than 150 years.
Some 200,000 flags, bathed in light, have been planted on the National Mall to represent the crowds who cannot attend and reflect on those who have lost their lives to Covid.
A dozen members of the US National Guard have been removed from security efforts to protect tomorrow’s inauguration, according to US media reports.
The Associated Press news agency, which initially reported the number, said that all of the members had been found to have links with right-wing groups or to have posted extremist views online.
However, a Pentagon spokesman quoted by Reuters news agency said that not all were removed due to ties to extremist groups, while NBC news said that some of the guardsmen were ruled out due to “‘more routine’ vetting issues”.
Security in Washington DC has been bolstered since the Capitol riot on 6 January, which left five people dead.
Top Republican Mitch McConnell says President Trump provoked rioters who attacked the Congress building on 6 January
The mob were fed lies, McConnell said in the first statement since the attack in which five people died
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer has described Donald Trump as a “threat to our constitutional order, whether he is in or out of office”.
Schumer said that a vote to bar Trump from running again for the White House would take place if he is convicted during his Senate impeachment trial.
“Rioters, insurrectionists, white supremacists and domestic terrorists tried to prevent the transfer of power,” he said. “They were incited by none other than the president of the United States.”
His comments came after Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s most senior Republican, said the rioters were “fed lies” and “provoked by the president and other powerful people”.
Schumer is expected to take over from McConnell as Senate Majority Leader tomorrow after the Democrats won two Senate seats in Georgia earlier this month.
The Senate is now split 50-50 but Democrat Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will hold the casting vote.
McConnell has not yet indicated how he will vote in the Senate’s impeachment trial.
Joe Biden has announced a new White House Gender Policy Council.
A statement on the Biden-Harris transition website said the council will “guide and coordinate government policy that impacts women and girls”.
It will focus on issues including economic security, health care, racial justice and gender-based violence.
“Too many women are struggling to make ends meet and support their families, and too many are lying awake at night worried about their children’s economic future,” Biden says in the statement.
“This was true before the Covid-19 pandemic, but the current global public health crisis has made these burdens infinitely heavier for women all over this country.”
The council bears similarities to the White House Council on Women and Girls, formed under Barack Obama, which was later dissolved by Donald Trump.
Trump did create, along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a joint council on focused on the advancement of female business leaders. – BBC News