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Capitol Police Chief is pleading with the National Guard to stay.

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The Capitol Police Chief is pleading with the National Guard to stay.

 

Concerned about ongoing attacks, the acting chief of the United States Capitol Police has urged congressional leaders to use their clout to hold National Guard troops at the Capitol two months after the deadly Jan. 6 insurgency’s law enforcement breakdowns.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday, Yogananda Pittman told the leaders that the board that oversees her department has so far refused to extend an emergency declaration needed by the Pentagon to hold Guardsmen who have aided Capitol officers since the riot on the job.

Pittman said she wanted the leaders’ help with the Capitol Police Board, which is made up of three members and reports to them. She claims the board has sent her a list of steps it needs her to take, but she isn’t sure whether the points are directives or just suggestions.

The letter highlighted the uncertainty over how to better defend the Capitol following a shoddy lack of security in January and harsh criticism of law enforcement’s handling of the invasion.

It also came as authorities spent the day on high alert, anticipating a “possible plot” by a paramilitary group to storm the building again, two months after Trump supporters smashed through windows and doors in an insurgency intended to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

The list included a partial elimination of the intimidating fence encircling the Capitol grounds beginning Monday, as well as a reduction of the National Guard to 900 troops from the existing 5,200 in Washington.

The police want to keep the fence in place indefinitely. Pittman stated in her letter that she would request a deployment reduction “based on the threat landscape and physical and organizational protection capabilities.”

The Pentagon was evaluating a Capitol Police proposal to hold up to 2,200 Guardsmen at the Capitol for another 60 days, according to the Associated Press. Pittman had officially made the suggestion to the Pentagon, according to a police release.

Before Jan. 6 and even as rioters were storming the house, a similar conflict erupted between the Capitol Police and its board. The Capitol Police Board, which is made up of the sergeants at arms of the House and Senate, as well as the architect of the Capitol, is in charge of overseeing the police force.

Following warnings that white nationalist and far-right groups would threaten the building to disrupt the certification of Biden’s election victory over outgoing President Donald Trump, Steven Sund, the now-former Capitol Police chief, testified to Congress that he decided to order the Guard two days before the invasion. Sund did not ask Paul Irving, who worked on the Capitol Police Board as House sergeant-at-arms, to call the Guard.

As rioters rushed the house, breaching police lines and knocking over officers unprepared to fend them off, Sund testified that he repeatedly pleaded for the Guard to be called. Just before 2 p.m., he called the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who testified that the Defense Department had postponed the request for assistance. Hundreds of rioters marauded through the building and fled without being arrested until the appeal was accepted after 5 p.m.

The riot claimed the lives of five people, including a Capitol Police officer and a Trump supporter who was shot by police.

Despite alerts of new trouble, there were no signs of unrest at the heavily guarded building on Thursday. There was also no indication that a large group was planning to travel to Washington.

The most recent threat seemed to be linked to a far-right conspiracy theory, mostly pushed by QAnon supporters, that former Trump would reclaim power on March 4 and that tens of thousands would descend on Washington to try to depose Democrats. Until 1933, when it was shifted to Jan. 20, the original presidential inauguration day was March 4.

Trump, on the other hand, was in Florida, thousands of miles away. The National Mall in Washington was almost empty on one of the warmest days in weeks, save for a few joggers, photographers, and visitors attempting to photograph the Capitol dome through the fencing.

According to two law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk publicly, online chatter reported by authorities included conversations among members of the Three Percenters, an anti-government militia group, about potential plots against the Capitol on Thursday. Among the extremists who invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6 were members of the Three Percenters.

However, federal agents discovered no major changes in the number of hotel rooms rented in Washington, as well as flights, car rental reservations, or charter bus reservations. On extremist websites, online talk about the day was dwindling.

Law enforcement briefed U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, on the potential danger, and he said lawmakers were prepared for whatever could happen.

“We have razor wire and the National Guard,” says the narrator. On January 6, we didn’t have it. As a result, I have a lot of faith in the security,” he said.

Those steps, though, aren’t indefinite. Following news that some troops were forced to take rest breaks in parking garages or were served rotten food, some states have threatened to withdraw their Guardsmen. Other Guardsmen also confirmed that they were fed well and that vegan and halal diets were accommodated.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, which sent 1,000 soldiers, said she “had no intention of committing to an extension of this deployment.”

Meanwhile, despite the fact that such allegations have been refuted by judges and Trump’s own attorney general, Trump continues to spread lies that the election was stolen from him by mass voter fraud. On social media and in a heated speech on Jan. 6 in which he implored thousands of supporters to “fight like hell,” he repeatedly told those lies. Many of those supporters finally made their way to the Capitol grounds, where they outran officers and forced their way into the house.

The House of Representatives impeached Trump on charges of incitement to insurgency, but the Senate acquitted him. For their involvement in the riot, over 300 people have been charged with federal crimes so far.

Many national and local Republicans have repeated Trump’s election rhetoric, sharing online messages about voter fraud and challenging the validity of Biden’s win.

“A years-long epidemic of false theories fueling violence,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

“On the specifics of today’s threats, the FBI and DHS have cautioned that the threat of domestic violent extremism, especially racially motivated and anti-government extremists, did not begin or end on January 6,” she said Thursday.

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This “bizarre” creature is a massive sunfish spotted near Laguna Beach

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This “bizarre” creature is a massive sunfish spotted near Laguna Beach

A pair of paddlers encountered a massive sunfish just a few hundred yards off Laguna Beach’s shoreline that could rival in size a Guinness World Record set in 1996.

Rich German and friend Matt Wheaton, both of Laguna Beach, set out on Thursday, Dec. 2, to enjoy the clear waters off the coast. They came across a massive mola mola, also known as sunfish, floating on the ocean’s surface.

“We were just paddling and all of a sudden we were like ‘Oh my god.’ That thing was massive,” said German, author of the book “Blue Laguna” and founder of the ocean conservation nonprofit Project O.  “Most of my encounters are with dolphins and whales, but you never know what you’re going to see.”

German, comparing to Wheaton’s 14-foot stand-up paddleboard, guessed the fish was close to 9 feet in length.

Once home, he found a Guinness World Record set in 1996 when a fisherman caught an 8-foot-11 mola mola that weighed 5,070 pounds off the coast of Japan. While that record was for the heaviest fish, which would be tough to compare with the sunfish the pair encountered off Laguna Beach, German said he thinks theirs could be longer in length and is hoping to consult with marine scientists to see if it could be measured based on the size of the board.

Julianne Steers, founding board member of the Beach Ecology Coalition, said the sunfish was larger than most seen here – she’s seen fish about 6- to 7-feet long. But whether it was a record-holder would be tough to tell.

“The only true way to know is if it was out and weighed and officially measured,” she said, noting that there’s some records up in Northern California of sunfish reaching 13-foot long. “But it does look much larger than what we typically see out here.”

She called the mola mola a “lumbering” fish that likes to lazily float on the ocean’s surface to bask in the sun, hence their nickname, eating jellyfish and salps.

The species looks like a mad scientist put them together with spare parts, Steers said. “It’s such an oddball kind of assembly of parts.”

The mola mola is also the largest fish in the world that has a skeleton structure, she said.

Scientists once thought the mola mola drifted with ocean currents, but they’ve been tracked in Southern California swimming 16 miles a day at a top speed of 2 mph, the Monterey Bay Aquarium says on its website.

“With its tank-like body, the mola was clearly not built for life in the fast lane. But it holds its own against faster and flashier fish and is able to live in almost all of the world’s oceans,” the aquarium says. “It’s known to spend time near the surface, but tagging shows that the mola is also a prolific diver and migrates long distances at depth.”

German said he has seen many mola molas through the years, but typically further offshore and about half the size of the one encountered just south of Main Beach.

“The first time I saw one, I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was a mutilated shark,” he said, noting the fish’s fin often stands up above the surface. “They are so bizarre looking. They just lay there.”

Even if it’s not an official record-setter, German is still soaking in the interesting encounter.

“I just know it was really big,” he said. “It was a unique and very cool thing to experience, and another example of why we need to protect the ocean and the amazing life that calls it home.”

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Pearl Harbor survivors gather on 80th anniversary of attack

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Pearl Harbor survivors gather on 80th anniversary of attack

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — A few dozen survivors of Pearl Harbor and other veterans gathered Tuesday at the site of the bombing 80 years ago to remember those killed in the attack by Japan that launched the U.S. into World War II.

The USS Chung-Hoon, a guided missile destroyer, passed in front of the pier with its sailors “manning the rails,” or lining the ship’s edge, to honor the World War II veterans present.

David Russell, a 101-year-old from Albany, Oregon, who survived the attack while on the USS Oklahoma, stood to salute to the destroyer on behalf of the veterans.

Herb Elfring, 99, said he was glad to return to Pearl Harbor considering he almost didn’t live through the aerial assault.

“It was just plain good to get back and be able to participate in the remembrance of the day,” Elfring told reporters over the weekend.

Elfring was in the Army, assigned to the 251st Coast Artillery, part of the California National Guard on Dec. 7, 1941. He recalled Japanese planes flying overhead and bullets strafing his Army base at Camp Malakole, a few miles down the coast from Pearl Harbor.

Elfring, who lives in Jackson, Michigan, said he has returned to Hawaii about 10 times to attend the annual memorial ceremony hosted by the Navy and the National Park Service.

About 30 survivors and about 100 other veterans of the war joined him this year. Veterans stayed home last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and watched a livestream of the event instead. Most attendees this year wore masks.

They observed a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the same minute the attack began decades ago.

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro recounted in his keynote address how Petty Officer 1st Class Joe George tossed a line to the USS Arizona that six men trapped by fire in the battleship’s control tower used to cross to his ship, the USS Vestal. Five of the six survived. Among them was Donald Stratton of Red Cloud, Nebraska, who died last year. Del Toro said he recently met with Stratton’s family.

“We sometimes talk about our victory in World War II as though it was inevitable. Only a matter of time. But there was nothing inevitable about one sailor’s decision to toss that line,” Del Toro said.

He said it took millions of individual acts of valor and courage at home and overseas to get the nation through the war.

The bombing killed more than 2,300 U.S. troops. Nearly half — or 1,177 — were Marines and sailors serving on the USS Arizona.

David Dilks, 95, traveled to Hawaii from Hatfield, Pennsylvania, with his son-in-law. Dilks enlisted out of high school in 1944, going from playing basketball one day to serving in the Navy the next.

Dilks said his battleship, the USS Massachusetts, bombarded targets like Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Philippines during the war.

He recalls one day in March 1945 when he and his shipmates were watching the movie “Stage Door Canteen” on the ship’s fantail when a loud noise interrupted the film. They then saw a Japanese kamikaze plane crash into the USS Randolph aircraft carrier next to them.

“We never had a movie up topside after that,” he said.

Sitting at Pearl Harbor on the 80th anniversary of the attack, he said he’s thinking in particular about those that died.

“All of the sailors and soldiers who fought here — you should be proud of them. But more proud of those who didn’t make it,” he said.

Several women who helped the war effort by working in factories have come to Hawaii to participate in the remembrance this year.

Mae Krier, who built B-17s and B-29s at a Boeing plant in Seattle, said it took the world a while to credit women for their work.

“And we fought together as far as I’m concerned. But it took so long to honor what us women did. And so of course, I’ve been fighting hard for that, to get our recognition,” said Krier, who is now 95. “But it was so nice they finally started to honor us.”

This year’s ceremony took place as a strong storm with extremely heavy rains hit Hawaii, flooding roads and downing power lines. The ceremony was conducted under a pier with a metal roof. Skies were overcast but it was not raining during the ceremony.

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Denver weather: Will it finally snow this week? Here’s what to expect.

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Denver weather: Pleasant Saturday, windy Sunday, chance for snow Tuesday

It’s been a long time coming but Denver may finally get its first snow of the season. Although it’s very late and we’ve waited nearly a record number of days in between accumulating snows, the streak could come to an end this week.

The weather this season has been concerning. The overall lack of snow and precipitation, in general, is enough to have sent Denver back into severe drought. While the upcoming storm isn’t going to be a blockbuster, it is at least something and any kind of moisture is very much needed.

Denver as of Tuesday has gone 231 days without seeing measurable snow. The only year with a longer span between measurable snows in Denver was all the way back in 1887 when the city went 235 days without accumulating snow. With the way this forecast may pan out, it’s possible we could get a tenth of an inch of snow Thursday, which would snap the streak at 233 days. It is more likely Denver will receive measurable snow Friday, meaning we will fall one day shy of the all-time record. Regardless of when snow officially happens, it has been a very long time since Denver has seen snow.

The record latest date of the first snow in Denver has come and gone and is almost a distant memory at this point.

Latest first snow dates in Denver

1) 2021 — TBD
2) 1934 — Nov. 21
3) 1931 — Nov. 19
4) 2016 — Nov. 17
5) 1894 — Nov. 16

FORECAST

A cold front associated with this system will push across the region late Thursday night into Friday morning. Above-average temperatures are expected Thursday before the cold front moves in, so we have nice weather expected until then.

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