August 19, 2020

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) made history in many ways as she accepted the Democratic party's vice presidential nomination Wednesday. But in her Democratic National Convention speech, she was sure to thank all the women who'd helped her get there.

"That I am here tonight is a testament to the dedication of generations before me; women and men who believed so fiercely in promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all," Harris said to start his speech as the first Black and South Asian woman on a major party's presidential ticket. She then acknowledged how this week marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, and how hard Black women had to work after its ratification to ensure their own voting rights as well.

"Women like Mary Church Terrell, Mary McCleod Bethune, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Diane Nash, Constance Baker Motley, and the great Shirley Chisholm," Harris recounted. "We're not always told their stories, but we all stand on their shoulders." And then Harris pivoted to "another woman whose name isn't known:" her mother, Shamala Gopalan Harris. Harris then described how her mother immigrated to the U.S. and met her father at the University of California, Berkeley, and weaved her mother's story through the rest of her speech, knowing "she's looking down on me from above." Kathryn Krawczyk

12:22 a.m.

Organizers for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday finished setting up about 200,000 flags on Monday, representing the American people who cannot travel to the inauguration amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic and extraordinary security precautions. The flags represent all of the states and U.S. territories, and they also are meant to honor the 400,000 Americans who will have officially died from COVID-19 by the time Biden is sworn in.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

The Presidential Inaugural Committee highlighted the "Field of Flags" on Monday night, with 56 pillars of light — one for each of the 50 states and six U.S. territories — beamed into the air for 46 second, a reference to Biden becoming the 46th U.S. president.

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Biden arrives in Washington for his inauguration on Tuesday, and he and incoming first lady Jill Biden will spend Tuesday night at Blair House, near the White House. Outgoing President Trump plans to leave the White House on Wednesday morning, making him the first president since Andrew Johnson — the first impeached president — to skip the inauguration of his successor. Trump has made no public appearances in six days.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who resigned as a U.S. senator on Monday, volunteered in service events to honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. They will take part in a memorial at the reflecting pool near the Lincoln Memorial on Tuesday to honor the Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19. Peter Weber

12:19 a.m.

Due to COVID-19, there are so many dead bodies in Los Angeles County that air quality regulators have suspended limits on the number of cremations that can be conducted in the area.

The county's death rate is more than double the pre-coronavirus pandemic norm, The Guardian reports, and as of Friday, there were more than 2,700 bodies being stored at the coroner's office and local hospitals.

Los Angeles County has 28 crematoriums, but their permits all have a monthly cap on cremations due to environmental regulations. The South Coast Air Quality Management District said on Sunday that for the first time ever, it issued an executive order lifting those limits because there are so many bodies that need to be cremated. This was done at the request of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, which said the backlog of bodies was a potential threat to public health.

Studies show cremations release mercury emissions from dental fillings, The Guardian reports, but a spokesperson for the South Coast Air Quality Management District said the "air toxics impacts" from these extra cremations is expected to be "relatively small."

As of Monday, California has reported more than 3 million coronavirus cases. In Los Angeles County, the death toll hit 13,848 on Sunday, with more than half of those deaths occurring since Thanksgiving. Catherine Garcia

January 18, 2021

The FBI on Monday shared with law enforcement agencies an intelligence report warning that far-right extremists have talked about going to D.C. for the inauguration and posing as National Guard members, The Washington Post reports.

The Post obtained a copy of the document, which said "lone wolves" and QAnon followers — including some who participated in the mob that stormed the Capitol earlier this month — have indicated they intend on traveling to Washington for the inauguration. The report also said people have been observed downloading and distributing maps of sensitive locations in D.C.

The briefing did not include any specific plots, the Post reports, and noted that "numerous" extremist groups and militias have publicly stated they don't want to see any violence targeting the transition of power. At the request of the FBI, the Post did not share all of the details inside the intelligence report, in order to protect intelligence-gathering methods and avoid publicizing security vulnerabilities.

The Secret Service coordinates all security for the inauguration, while the FBI gathers intelligence on threats made against the event. Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said agents are monitoring an "extensive amount of concerning online chatter" and it can be difficult to "distinguish what's aspirational versus what's intentional." Catherine Garcia

January 18, 2021

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has received a letter from Dominion Voting Systems, warning him that litigation is "imminent" due to his false claims that the company's machines were rigged to change the outcome of the election.

Lindell, an enthusiastic supporter of President Trump, has been spreading baseless claims of widespread voter fraud for months. In the letter, Dominion's lawyers told Lindell, "You have positioned yourself as a prominent leader of the ongoing misinformation campaign. Litigation regarding these issues is imminent."

Lindell told The New York Times he would "welcome" Dominion to "sue me because I have all the evidence against them. They sent this letter a couple of weeks ago. They're lying, they're nervous because I have all the evidence on them." Lindell did not say why, if he has such evidence, he has kept it to himself this entire time, holding onto it as judge after judge rejected lawsuits filed in an attempt to overturn the election in Trump's favor. Catherine Garcia

January 18, 2021

Following his inauguration on Wednesday, President-elect Joe Biden plans on rescinding the cross-border permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, three people familiar with the matter told Politico.

"President-elect Biden is showing courage and empathy to the farmers, ranchers, and tribal nations who have dealt with an ongoing threat that disrupted their lives for over a decade," Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, told Politico.

The 1,200-mile pipeline was first proposed by TC Energy in 2008, an $8 billion project. The plan was to deliver crude from western Canada to the Midwest. In 2015, the Obama administration denied a cross-border permit for the pipeline, citing climate change concerns, but one of President Trump's first actions was to sign executive actions to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

Environmental groups have argued that the pipeline is a threat to wildlife and clean water, and will also increase greenhouse gas emissions. In a statement, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman told Politico her government "continues to support the Keystone XL project. Keystone XL fits within Canada's climate plan. It will also contribute to U.S. energy security and economic competitiveness." Catherine Garcia

January 18, 2021

On his first day in office, President-elect Joe Biden will propose a sweeping overhaul of the country's immigration laws, while also addressing the reasons why people migrate, The Washington Post reports.

Biden's legislative proposal will include an eight-year pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; the expansion of refugee admissions; and a security plan that deploys technology to the border, at and between ports of entry.

To qualify for the pathway to citizenship, a person must have been in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, several transition officials told the Post. Eligible immigrants will be placed in a temporary status for five years, and after meeting requirements like passing a background check, they will receive a green card. They will be able to apply for citizenship three years later. Undocumented immigrants who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and temporary protected status programs would be able to immediately apply for a green card.

Whether it's due to economic insecurity or safety concerns, "ultimately, you cannot solve problems of migration unless you attack the root causes of what causes that migration," one transition official said, adding that Biden "knows that in particular is the case in Central America." Read more at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

January 18, 2021

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced on Monday that he will resign on Wednesday, the day President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.

Dillingham's term was set to expire at the end of 2021, but last week, a watchdog agency said it found that Dillingham pressured employees to use state and federal administrative records to determine how many undocumented immigrants are in the U.S. He wanted a report on the information filed by Jan. 15; a whistleblower told the Office of Inspector General this was "statistically indefensible" and could be "misinterpreted, misused, or otherwise tarnish the bureau's reputation."

Several Democratic lawmakers and civil rights leaders called on Dillingham to resign. In a statement, Dillingham said he had thought about retiring earlier, but was encouraged to stay. "Let me make it clear that under other circumstances I would be honored to serve President-elect Biden just as I served the past five presidents," he added. A Census Bureau spokesman said Ron Jarmin, the current chief operating officer, will assume the director's duties. Catherine Garcia

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