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Top US military leaders condemn Capitol siege in rare joint message | US News

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General Mark Milley

America’s top military leaders have taken the unprecedented step of condemning last week’s violent US Capitol siege and reminding US troops their job is to serve and protect the constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.

The joint statement comes amid investigations into former and current military service members and law enforcement officers who are suspected of having participated in the protest and the ensuing riot by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, a vote in the House of Representatives spearheaded by the Democrats to impeach Mr Trump will take place on Wednesday, with several members of the Republican party saying they will back a charge of “incitement of insurrection”.

“The violent riot in Washington DC on January 6, 2021 was a direct assault on the US Congress, the Capitol building, and our constitutional process,” said the statement, signed by the eight members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including the country’s most senior general, Mark Milley.

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General Mark Milley is among the military leaders that have signed the joint statement

“We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection.

“Any act to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law.”

“Stay ready, keep your eyes on the horizon, and remain focused on the mission,” the statement from the top military brass added.

Last Wednesday’s uprising, which took place as politicians were counting Electoral College votes to confirm Joe Biden’s election victory, ended in the deaths of five people.

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How the Capitol came under attack – from its own people

Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, 35, was shot and killed by Capitol police as she and other protesters stormed the Capitol building to disrupt the proceedings.

The US Army is working with the FBI to investigate if any rioters were current service members, and with the Secret Service to see if any of the nearly 10,000 National Guard troops securing Mr Biden’s inauguration on 20 January would need additional screening.

It is also investigating 30-year-old Captain Emily Rainey, a psychological operations officer, who led 100 Trump supporters from North Carolina to the rally in Washington to “stand against election fraud” and told the Associated Press: “I was a private citizen and doing everything right and within my rights.”

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Republicans turn on Trump over impeachment

The FBI arrested Larry Rendell Brock, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel in Texas on Sunday, after he breached the Senate chamber wearing tactical gear and carrying zip-tie handcuffs known as flex cuffs.

There are calls for Doug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state legislator, to resign after he and his wife attended Wednesday’s event.

He has said he did not enter the Capitol or go beyond police lines, adding that he did not support the violence: “When it was apparent that this was no longer a peaceful protest, my wife and I left the area.”

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FBI says hundreds will be charged over riots

The Department of Justice is reportedly investigating 25 members of the service, though it is unclear whether they are retired or active in the military ranks.

While a number of Mr Trump’s cabinet including acting Defence Secretary Chris Miller have condemned the storming, General Milley has remained silent until now.

US officials said he had not commented on the events because he wanted to stay out of politics.

His actions are in sharp contrast to June, when he joined Mr Trump on his controversial walk from the White House to a church where the president staged a photo op holding a Bible after police officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area of Black Lives Matter protesters.

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TikTok video showing car parked across live railway line investigated by police | UK News

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The video had the caption 'would you take risk to get the shot no one else would?'

Police are appealing for information after a video posted on TikTok showed a car parked across a live railway track for a photoshoot.

The short clip shows the vehicle across the tracks in Bolton, Greater Manchester, with the caption: “Would you take the risk to get the shot no one else would?”

Network Rail’s North West route director has condemned the behaviour as “sheer stupidity at a staggering level”.

British Transport Police is investigating the footage.

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The video had the caption ‘would you take risk to get the shot no one else would?’

Inspector Becky Warren from the force said: “No picture or video is worth risking your life for.

“There is simply no excuse for not following safety procedures at level crossings. The behaviour shown by the individuals in this video is incredibly dangerous and reckless.”

The video showed the car across tracks at The Oaks level crossing, at Bromley Cross near Bolton.

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Police are investigating a video posted on TikTok that shows a car photoshoot on a live railway crossing at Bromleys Cross, Bolton
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The photoshoot took place in Bromley Cross in Bolton

Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: “The danger this person has put themselves and passengers in is sheer stupidity at a staggering level.

“Trespassing on the railway is a crime, as is endangering the lives of rail users.

“No-one should ever trespass onto the railway – so for it to be used as a backdrop for a photo shoot beggars belief.

“Lives could so easily have been lost by this reckless behaviour and we will be working closely with British Transport Police to make sure the person responsible for the video is brought to justice.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the British Transport Police on 61016 quoting the reference number 122 of 14/01/21.

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Alexey Navalny: Poisoned Putin critic faces jail on return to Russia | World News

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Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia pose for a selfie with their children in a video released on 31 December on his Instagram account

Alexey Navalny is flying back to Russia and straight into the hands of the authorities.

Not only does he face a slew of fresh criminal charges against him but he will also once again be at the mercy of Russia’s domestic spy agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), which he says tried to poison him.

It is an extraordinarily brave and risk-filled undertaking. It is also true to form.

Arrest for Alexey Navalny is nothing new. Nor is carving out a life of activism between court appearances, house arrest and prolonged periods in detention.

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Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia pose for a selfie with their children on NYE

He has repeatedly said he would return to Russia after his convalescence in Germany.

Had he not been poisoned by a novichok nerve agent, with treatment abroad the only way to keep him alive, he never would have left in the first place.

He is now on the Federal Wanted List and is implicated in a number of criminal and administrative cases which give law enforcement broad scope to keep him under prolonged investigation, most probably well beyond September’s parliamentary elections which the powers that be in the Kremlin do not want him around for.

Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service has submitted a request to revoke a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence which wrapped up in December and imprison him instead.

They say he “systematically and repeatedly violated” the terms of his probation both whilst he was in Germany and on a number of occasions before.

If the court agrees, he could serve three-and-a-half-years in jail, minus a few months already spent under house arrest.

Alexei Navalny is seen at a Siberian airport before boarding the plane where he was taken ill. Pic: @djpavlin
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Mr Navalny at a Siberian airport before boarding the plane where he was taken ill. Pic: @djpavlin

On top of that, Russia’s investigative committee has opened a new criminal case accusing him of the supposed misallocation of crowd-sourced funds at his RBK anti-corruption foundation.

“If they really want to go after him, this would be the worst case scenario,” says his lawyer Vadim Kobzev.

“Three-and-a-half-years and then 10 years on top of that which is the maximum he can get for this new criminal case.”

He thinks a jail term of that length is unlikely. Recent cases against Mr Navalny have all resulted in suspended sentences, “but we’re all trying to read the tea leaves here,” Mr Kobzev says.

Vladmir Putin is ready to improve ties with the US, the Kremlin says
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Mr Putin has joked that if the FSB were responsible, they would have ‘finished the job’

The authorities’ most likely course of action – at least in the medium term – will be extended periods under house arrest with restrictions placed on, for example, his use of the internet.

Mr Navalny off-line is far less of a threat to Mr Putin’s cronies than the anti-corruption investigations he posts to his YouTube channel. His team will endeavour to keep those going but it is not the same.

And suffice to say, despite the slew of investigations into Mr Navalny’s own alleged wrong-doing, authorities have still refused to open any kind of inquiry into how exactly the symbol of Russia’s democratic opposition ended up fighting for his life on a work trip to Siberia, with a deadly novichok nerve agent coursing through his veins.

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President Vladimir Putin’s glib comment that the FSB would have finished the job if they had really wanted him dead is no substitute.

Nor, as Mr Navalny so convincingly proved in a telephone call with one of the FSB officers tasked with cleaning up the evidence of his poisoning, is it true.

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COVID-19: Australians angry as elite tennis players arrive in country despite travel restrictions | World News

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Japan's Naomi Osaka arrives in Australia ahead of the tournament next month

A group of elite tennis players will have to self-isolate for 14 days after two flight passengers tested positive for coronavirus – as Australians expressed anger that they were allowed in the country while thousands are stranded abroad.

A chartered plane carrying tennis players and officials arrived in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open next month.

Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement on Saturday a crew member and an Australian Open participant, who is not a player, had tested positive for COVID-19.

The two people, who have not been publicly identified, have been taken to a health hotel where they will have to self-isolate.

Players and officials were supposed to have received a negative COVID-19 test before they boarded the flight.

It comes as roughly 37,000 Australians are waiting to return to the country, Sky News Australia reports.

The country has a weekly cap on the number of international arrivals during the pandemic – with people having to undergo quarantine in a designated facility.

After tennis stars were allowed to enter the country ahead of the tournament, angry Australians have been sharing their views on Twitter using the hashtag #strandedaussies.

One Twitter user wrote: “Thousands of Australian citizens are still stranded overseas. I’ve been a huge tennis fan for close to 40 years, but this is just wrong. I will not be supporting this Australian summer of tennis.”

A Twitter user named Jamie wrote: “Letting in 1,200 tennis players and their entourage feels like a Cummings moment; the point where the Victorian government can no longer claim it’s just about the science.

“This is a risky choice, and what hurts is that they’d take that risk for sport but not for #strandedAussies.”

Twitter user Allison Bradwell wrote: “Amazing how all these special quarantine arrangements can be put in place for sports stars & students but they can’t be used for #strandedAussies. Do better
@DanielAndrewsMP @GladysB.”

Australian Open organisers spent several months negotiating an arrangement that was acceptable to local and national government agencies regarding the admission of more than 1,000 tennis players and associated personnel to the country.

Players began arriving in the country on Thursday ahead of a two-week quarantine period, during which they are allowed out of their rooms to practise for five hours a day.

However the players and support staff on the affected flight from Los Angeles have been deemed close contacts and will not be allowed out to train.

Victoria state’s health department said in a statement: “All remaining 66 passengers on the flight have been determined to be close contacts.

“Any players and support people will not be able to leave quarantine to attend training.

“Upon arrival to Australia all players are immediately placed in a secure quarantine environment for 14 days under the authority of Covid Quarantine Victoria and will undergo a more rigorous testing schedule than for most returning travellers.”

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka arrives in Australia ahead of the tournament next month

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka was reported by local media to be among a group of players set to be under the strictest quarantine for two weeks.

Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper reported earlier that an email was sent to all players and officials who were aboard the flight stating that they would no longer be able to leave their quarantine hotel to train.

That would mean the only workouts they’d be able to have would be on an exercise bike left in the rooms of all of the players.

The coronavirus-delayed Australian Open begins on 8 February in Melbourne.

Five-time finalist Andy Murray‘s status for the tournament was put in doubt after he tested positive for COVID-19 only days before his planned flight to Melbourne.

The three-time Grand Slam champion, who was given a wild card for Melbourne, is isolating at home in Britain.

Australia is considered to have done a good job of containing the coronavirus, with only 909 deaths nationally.

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