Conspiracy theorist congresswoman has her wings clipped | First Thing

The House of Representatives voted to strip extremist congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee roles yesterday. Plus, Biden has withdrawn US support for the Yemen conflict

Senate passes budget plan to allow Biden’s $1.9tn Covid relief package without Republicans – live

Good morning.

The House of Representatives on Thursday voted to strip the extremist Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee roles. The vote fell broadly along party lines, with 230 in favour and 199 against, and just 11 Republicans crossing to vote with Democrats to end her roles on House budget and education and labor committees.

The vote came in response to Greene’s repeated peddling of conspiracy theories and extremist views, including support for QAnon, and for the execution of prominent Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. Before the vote, the House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, delivered a fiery speech railing against Greene’s malice towards her fellow lawmakers. Hoyer showed an image Greene posted on Facebook which depicted her holding an AR-15 against the backdrop of pictures of “the Squad” group of progressive Democratic congresswomen, saying, “Squad’s worst nightmare”.

  • Donald Trump will not testify at his impeachment trial at the Senate next week where he faces a charge of inciting the deadly violence at the US Capitol, his lawyers have said. It followed a letter from the House impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin, asking him to testify under oath to explain why he disputed key facts in the charge.

  • A voting technology company is suing Fox News, three hosts and two former lawyers for Donald Trump for $2.7bn, accusing them of spreading false claims that the firm helped to “steal” the US presidential election. The case, filed by Smartmatic, is one of the largest libel suits undertaken.

Biden pulls US support for the conflict in Yemen

Joe Biden withdrew US support for the conflict in Yemen, which has caused a humanitarian disaster, saying ‘this war has to end’
Joe Biden has withdrawn US support for the conflict in Yemen, which has caused a humanitarian disaster, saying ‘this war has to end’. Photograph: Nabil Hasan/AFP/Getty Images

Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the US would no longer support the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, in his first foreign policy speech as president. The conflict in the country has “created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe”, the presiden said, killing more than 100,000 people and displacing 8 million. He also announced an eightfold increase in the number of refugees the US would accept.

The speech was presented as an assertion of American autonomy on the world stage, with Biden pledging that “America is back”. He signalled that the US would cease to be an unquestioning ally to Gulf monarchies and declared the country would no longer be “rolling over” for Putin.

  • Schools in Hong Kong must prevent participation in political activities, under new rules to overhaul the curriculum. Children as young as six will be taught about the national security law and there will be increased monitoring of employees and teaching materials.

  • The Romanian Orthodox church is under pressure to change baptism ceremonies after the death of a baby from cardiac arrest during the rituals. The rituals involve immersing infants three times in holy water, but the death has led to calls for an end to the practice,

Newborn US citizens have been dropped off in Mexico with no birth certificates

A member of the Mexican national guard patrols on the banks of the Rio Bravo River at the border between Mexico and the US
A member of the Mexican national guard patrols on the banks of the Rio Bravo River at the border between Mexico and the US. Photograph: José Luis González/Reuters

At least 11 migrant women were sent to border towns in Mexico without birth certificates for newborn babies who were US citizens, an investigation by the Fuller Project and the Guardian has found. The incidents, since March last year, took place after the babies’ mothers were subjected to Trump’s border ban. The real number could be much higher, with many of the expulsions occurring without lawyers or the knowledge of the public.

  • Ice cancelled a deportation flight over allegations of brutality by its agents just minutes before it departed, marking a shift in attitude from the agency. The cancellation of the flight, due to head to west Africa from Louisiana, gives the would-be deportees the opportunity to testify as witnesses of the alleged brutality.

A single-dose coronavirus vaccine could be on the horizon

The Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine can be stored in normal refrigerators
The Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine can be stored in normal refrigerators. Photograph: Dado Ruvić/Reuters

Johnson & Johnson has asked American regulators to approve the world’s first single-dose coronavirus vaccine. The firm published a report at the end of January that showed its vaccine had 66% efficacy in preventing coronavirus infections across a global trial, and has now made an application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rollout the vaccine.

In California, officials are optimistic that the latest, most deadly wave of the state’s coronavirus pandemic is beginning to subside. However, healthcare workers in Fresno county said their hospitals were still inundated with patients, with shortages of ICU beds, staff and equipment. In the county, about one in every 11 people has tested positive for coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and the county has eight times as many coronavirus cases as ICU beds.

  • More than 25% of Americans are likely to refuse the vaccine, according to an international study. Only 11% of US citizens said they trusted their government to be a reliable source of information on vaccines, compared with 30% in the UK.

  • A cheap drug used to treat gout could support patients fighting coronavirus, a study from Brazil has indicated. The research found that colchicine reduced hospitalizations and deaths among Covid-19 patients by more than 20%, and could reduce the length of a stay in hospital and need for extra oxygen for Covid-19 patients.

In other news …

The payments from McKinsey will be used to tackle the raging overdose and addiction crisis
The payments from McKinsey will be used to tackle the raging overdose and addiction crisis. Photograph: Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images
  • McKinsey has agreed to pay nearly $600m for its role in America’s opioid crisis, after it advised businesses on how to sell more prescription opioid painkillers amid a national overdose crisis.

  • Staff at the New York Times criticised the paper’s response to reports of racism from a journalist on a company-sponsored student trip. More than 150 staffers wrote to the executive leadership over the incident, saying they were “deeply disturbed” over the handling of the allegations.

  • Alexei Navalny has appeared in court for the second time this week, charged with defaming a second world war veteran. The Russian opposition leader, who was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison earlier this week, said the hearing was a “disgusting PR trial”.

Stat of the day: one in every 33 people will need humanitarian assistance this year

Around the world, one in every 33 people will need humanitarian aid, an increase of 40% from last year, according to the UN. More than half of countries who need international support to cope with coronavirus are already dealing with other crises. But despite this extreme need, aid budgets have been declining. In 2020, the UN reached 48% of its funding appeals, compared with 63% in 2019. Could coronavirus cause an overhaul in the aid sector?

Don’t miss this: a night with silvermen in Jakarta

The coronavirus pandemic has caused mass job losses in Indonesia, with 2.67 million people becoming unemployed. To survive, some Indonesian men, women and children are risking their health to dress up in metallic paint and beg for money, known as “silvermen”. Gemma Holliani Cahya spent a night on the streets with them to find out what is driving this trend, and the risks the individuals are taking.

Last Thing: Jackie Kennedy Onassis made a private White House visit years after JFK’s death

The Kennedy family at the White House at Christmas in 1962
The Kennedy family at the White House at Christmas in 1962. Photograph: John F Kennedy Library/Getty Images

The widow of JFK made a private visit to the White House eight years after her husband’s death, a letter on display at the presidential libraries of Richard Nixon and Kennedy reveals. Onassis made the trip ahead of the unveiling of official portraits of herself and JFK. Writing to the then first lady, Pat Nixon, Onassis said she felt she “didn’t have the courage to go through an official ceremony” and did not want to put pressure on her children, and instead suggested they “slip in unobtrusively” to see the portraits privately.

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Molly Blackall

The GuardianTramp

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