5 things to know for January 19: Inauguration, transition, Covid-19, Russia, Uganda

Dangerous winds are sweeping over parts of California, and that means a greater wildfire risk and the possibility of power losses for hundreds of thousands of residents.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Inauguration 

In Washington, DC, and states around the country, authorities are boosting security before tomorrow’s presidential inauguration. The head of the DC National Guard even said the FBI is vetting troops involved in securing the US Capitol to prevent any insider threats. However, there is no intelligence indicating such a threat is afoot, the acting defense secretary said. Smaller protests broke out in some state capitol cities over the weekend, including crowds of armed demonstrators who gathered yesterday in Richmond, Virginia. Meanwhile, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris officially resigned her Senate post in anticipation of her new role, and Melania Trump will break with tradition by not inviting her successor, Jill Biden, to tour the White House living quarters.

2. White House transition 

President Trump is expected to issue around 100 pardons and commutations today, his last full day in office. The list of clemency actions reportedly includes white-collar criminals and high-profile rappers but so far not Trump himself or members of his family (there’s been talk of Trump pardoning himself in the wake of the Capitol riots). The President also wanted to declassify information related to the Russia probe before he leaves office, but with the hours ticking down, it’s not clear if that will get done. Even after he leaves office, Trump has at least one thorny battle waiting for him: his impeachment trial, which will likely start in the Senate soon. Speaking of the Senate, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell are hammering out a plan for how the evenly split Senate will be run. Democrats will make the schedule, and each party will likely hold an even number of committee seats.

3. Coronavirus 

China and the World Health Organization could have acted quicker and more forcefully to contain the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. That’s the conclusion from the Switzerland-based Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. The panel also said the world needs a “global reset” on how it deals with such situations. In the US, there’s bad news and, well, slightly less bad news. More than 60% of all Covid-19 cases nationwide have been reported since Election Day, leading to nightmare-level infection rates. However, cases have declined 11% since hitting a peak last week. Experts say it’s too soon for optimism, since such a dip may not be sustainable. Also in China, a dangerous situation is unfolding as state media have launched disinformation campaigns to hit back against questions about the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine produced by Chinese medical company Sinovac.

4. Russia 

Alexey Navalny has been ordered to stay in custody for 30 days after returning to Russia this weekend. The Kremlin critic was immediately detained after flying to Moscow from Germany, then subjected yesterday to a surprise hearing. Navalny was placed on the country’s federal wanted list last month for violating terms of probation related to a 2014 conviction for fraud, which he dismisses as politically motivated. It’s only been five months since Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent. Several Western officials and Navalny himself openly blamed the Kremlin for the act. Following his hearing yesterday, Navalny urged his followers to “not be silent” and take to the streets. A nationwide demonstration is being organized to demand his release.

5. Uganda

Most of Uganda is back online after a five-day internet outage that critics are calling a “textbook case of pre-meditated, pre-election internet blackout.” Ugandans recently held their presidential election, and internet connectivity was restored after incumbent President Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner for a record sixth term. His opponent, Bobi Wine, a singer-turned-politician whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has protested the results and says he has evidence of fraud and intimidation. Wine has been under house arrest after military surrounded his home on Friday, he said. Heavily armed military and police raided his party offices in Kampala yesterday. Museveni’s house arrest of Wine and blocking of the internet have been met with international condemnation.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Even a small portion of fried food can increase risk of heart disease, study says

Terrible news for the recent fried chicken sandwich wars.

He flew to Paris to surprise his girlfriend. She flew to Edinburgh to surprise him

The Trip of the Magi.

Man ‘lived undetected in Chicago airport for 3 months’

He said he was scared to go home because of Covid-19, but frankly, he ended up doing the scaring.

Oscar Mayer hiring team to drive its Wienermobile across the US

And they say the perfect job doesn’t exist!

For all of your 2021 stress relief needs, there’s a hotline that urges people to call in and scream

“Hello, yes, I’d just like to … AAAAAAAaAAAAAaaaGGGHHHHHH.”

TODAY’S NUMBER

$12.2 million

That’s the depth of the deficit at which the National Rifle Association operated in 2019. The NRA filed for bankruptcy over the weekend, following leadership shake-ups and allegations of financial mismanagement in recent years.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“My father always believed in the people of our nation. Certainly, he would be greatly disappointed in how we have chosen to conduct ourselves at this particular moment.”

Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, on what he thinks his father would have to say about the current political climate in the US

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

Sit by the water, pat a cat 

It seems like it will be a stressful week. Best to take in a nice waterside view and a few feline friends when you can. (Click here to view.)