Trump accused of ‘multi-part conspiracy’ by January 6 panel | First Thing

House committee publishes report three days after recommending criminal charges against ex-president. Plus, emperor penguins at risk of extinction

Good morning.

The congressional panel investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol has published its final report, accusing Donald Trump of a “multi-part conspiracy” to thwart the will of the people and subvert democracy.

Divided into eight chapters, the 845-page report includes findings, interview transcripts and legislative recommendations and represents one of the most damning official portraits of a president in American history.

Its release comes three days after the select committee recommended criminal charges against Trump and follows media reports that it is cooperating and sharing crucial evidence with the justice department.

The panel, which will dissolve on 3 January when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, conducted more than 1,000 interviews, held 10 public hearings – some televised in prime time – and collected more than 1m documents since forming in July last year.

  • What are the findings of the report? The report included 17 key findings. Among them it concluded that, beginning on election night and continuing through 6 January and thereafter, Trump disseminated false allegations of fraud related to the 2020 presidential election in order to aid his effort to overturn the election.

  • What has Trump said in response? The ex-president has condemned the House committee as “thugs and scoundrels”. In response to the criminal referrals, he said: “These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me. It strengthens me.”

  • What else is happening in government? The US Senate passed a $1.7tn government spending bill, sending it to the House to approve and send to Joe Biden for his signature, averting a partial government shutdown.

Potential bomb cyclone is ‘serious stuff’, Biden warns as Arctic blast looms

Traffic and snow maintenance vehicles are seen as a traffic sign cautions drivers about the conditions along State Highway 14/18 in Madison, Wisconsin.
Traffic and snow maintenance vehicles are seen as a traffic sign cautions drivers about the conditions along State Highway 14/18 in Madison, Wisconsin. Photograph: John Hart/AP

Thousands of flights have been cancelled after US forecasters warned yesterday of “potentially crippling impacts across central and eastern” parts of the country, producing widespread disruption to travel and utilities over the holiday season, as an arctic blast surged from west to east.

At the White House, after a briefing on the potential “bomb cyclone”, Joe Biden said: “This is not like a snow day when you were a kid. This is serious stuff.”

A bomb cyclone forms when atmospheric pressure drops very quickly in a strong storm. Forecasters expected that to occur near the Great Lakes, increasing winds and creating blizzard conditions.

About 200 million people in the lower 48 states were under extreme weather alerts, said Bob Oravec, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland. At least 4,400 flights have been cancelled, according to Reuters, disrupting holiday plans across the country.

An NWS advisory said the “powerful winter storm” would “produce widespread disruptive and potentially crippling impacts across the central and eastern United States”.

  • What does the forecast say? According to the NWS, the “major and anomalous storm system” was expected to produce “a multitude of weather hazards through early this weekend”, including “heavy snowfall, strong winds and dangerously cold temperatures. At the forefront of the impressive weather pattern is a dangerous and record-breaking cold air mass in the wake of a strong Arctic cold front diving southward.”

North Korea denies supplying Russia’s Wagner Group with weapons

View shows remains of MLRS and artillery shells, cruise and ballistic missiles used by Russian troops for military strikes, in Kharkiv.
Missiles used by Russian troops for military strike are seen in Kharkiv. Photograph: Reuters

North Korea’s foreign ministry denied a media report it supplied munitions to Russia, calling it “groundless,” and denounced the US for providing lethal weapons to Ukraine, NorthKorea’s official KCNA news agency reported today.

Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun reported earlier that North Korea had shipped munitions, including artillery shells, to Russia via train through their border last month and that additional shipments were expected in the coming weeks.

“The Japanese media’s false report that the DPRK offered munitions to Russia is the most absurd red herring, which is not worth any comment or interpretation,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement carried by the KCNA.

The White House said yesterday North Korea has completed an initial arms delivery to a private Russian military company, the Wagner Group, to help bolster Russian forces in Ukraine. The North Korean foreign ministry statement did not make any mention of Wagner, Reuters reports.

  • How did Volodymyr Zelenskiy make his high-security trip to the US? The Ukrainian president started with a secretive train ride to Poland late on Tuesday. The next morning he arrived in the southern Polish city of Przemyśl, where he was spotted at the train station, according to footage from private broadcaster TVN, along with the US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, who accompanied him.

In other news …

Charles Sobhraj is escorted by Nepalese police at a district court hearing in June 2014.
Charles Sobhraj is escorted by Nepalese police at a district court hearing in June 2014. Photograph: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images
  • Charles Sobhraj, the French serial killer known as “the serpent” who targeted western backpackers on the hippy trail in the 1970s, has walked free from a jail in Nepal after he was given early release. In 1975, he murdered an American tourist, Connie Jo Bronzich, and her Canadian companion, Laurent Carrière.

  • The extradition to the US of Muammar Gaddafi’s most trusted and notorious aide was abruptly halted by Libya at the 11th hour this week for fear of public anger after the handover of another ex-senior Libyan intelligence operative, officials in Tripoli have told the Guardian.

  • The number of US service members who have been exposed to toxic “forever chemicals” is much higher than the military has claimed, a new independent analysis of Department of Defense data has found. The numbers could top more than 640,000 people across 116 bases, and potentially even millions of people when past service members are factored in.

  • ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of popular video app TikTok, said yesterday that some employees improperly accessed TikTok user data of two journalists and were no longer employed by the company, an email seen by Reuters shows.

Stat of the day: Nobel-nominated vaccine expert warns of Covid complacency as there are still 200-300 deaths a day

A vial of the Moderna bivalent Covid-19 vaccine.
A vial of the Moderna bivalent Covid-19 vaccine. Photograph: Ringo Chiu/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden was wrong to declare the coronavirus pandemic over in the US, one of the country’s leading experts on the virus has told the Guardian. Dr Peter Hotez, the co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s hospital and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said the US president’s statement in September, that “the pandemic is over”, was mistaken and a poor message to send to the American public. “Well, it’s certainly not [over],” Hotez said. “We’re still in 200-300 deaths per day. [Covid-19] is still the third or fourth leading cause of death in the United States.”

Don’t miss this: Can’t choose your family at Christmas? Those rejected by their loved ones would disagree

Family ready to eat Christmas dinner
‘Sometimes, communities mobilise to fill the space vacated by a birth family.’ Photograph: SolStock/Getty Images

Parents rejecting their LGBTQ+ offspring might sound like a plotline from films of the 80s and 90s, not something that happens in 2022, when even Hallmark is releasing its first same-sex Christmas romcom, and we are more than 50 years on from the decriminalization of homosexuality, writes Owen Jones. But research from the anti-abuse LGBQT+ charity Galop found that family rejection is still all too common: almost three in 10 LGBTQ+ people had experienced abuse from a family member, rising to more than four in 10 trans and non-binary people. For some LGBTQ+ shunned by relatives, friends and community are rewriting what “family” means.

Climate check: Emperor penguin at risk of extinction, along with two-thirds of native Antarctic species, research shows

International study projects up to 80% of emperor penguin colonies will be ‘quasi-extinct’ by 2100. Photograph: Shane Bilston

Two-thirds of Antarctica’s native species, including emperor penguins, are under threat of extinction or major population declines by 2100 under current trajectories of global heating, according to research that outlines priorities for protecting the continent’s biodiversity. The study, an international collaboration between scientists, conservationists and policymakers from 28 institutions in 12 countries, identified emperor penguins as the Antarctic species at greatest risk of extinction, followed by other seabirds and dry soil nematodes.

Last thing: Spain’s El Gordo lottery dishes out Christmas joy with €2.5bn pot

El Gordo winners celebrate in Madrid.
El Gordo winners celebrate in Madrid. Photograph: Óscar del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images

A Gambian man who crossed from the Mediterranean by boat and an unemployed mother of two were among those rejoicing after the world’s biggest lottery sprayed money across Spain. The Christmas lottery known as El Gordo, or the Fat One, dished out €2.5bn ($2.6bn) in prize money. As the numbers were called out in Madrid’s Teatro Real theatre, the audience erupted into wild cheers as they realised a member of the audience was among the lucky ones, worth €325,000 after taxes. Perla Gavidia, originally from Peru, later told reporters she had lost her job at a cafe two years earlier. “I felt [the prize] would strike me here today,” she said as she choked back tears.

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Nicola Slawson

The GuardianTramp

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