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For the time being, the Jan. 6 commission is stalled due to political bickering.

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For the time being, the Jan. 6 commission is stalled due to political bickering.
For the time being, the Jan. 6 commission is stalled due to political bickering.

For the time being, the Jan. 6 commission is stalled due to political bickering.

 

Democrats and Republicans are divided about the scope and structure of a study that would revisit the deadly attack and determine former President Donald Trump’s position, so legislation forming an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurgency at the US Capitol is stalled for now.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has advocated for the committee, which will be modeled after the commission that investigated the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. But, unlike 9/11, which brought Democrats and Republicans closer together almost two decades ago, Trump’s supporters have pushed a wedge between them, even on the simple issue of what should be investigated.

It’s a symptom of Congress’s political divisions, but also of a legislative branch suffering from the Trump era’s aftermath, with legislators struggling to find common ground, or a common set of evidence, even after a mob broke into the Capitol and threatened their lives.

Democrats accuse Republicans of inciting the riots by aiding and abetting Trump’s election deceptions — many signed onto a failed lawsuit challenging Joe Biden’s victory — and challenge whether GOP politicians were involved with the rioters. Some Republicans, such as Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, have downplayed the attack’s seriousness.

“The scope of the issue is the problem,” Pelosi said on Wednesday. “Were we going to try for the facts or are we going to pretend we don’t think something happened that day?”

Last month, Republicans slammed Pelosi’s commission plan, which would select a group of four Republicans and seven Democrats to “conduct an investigation of the specific facts and circumstances related to the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol.” She has indicated that she is open to compromise on the commission’s partisan makeup, but she has taken a firm stance on the commission’s reach.

The bill makes no mention of Trump’s demands that his supporters who stormed the Capitol “fight like hell” to reverse his presidential election loss. Republicans, on the other hand, slammed the commission’s limited powers to investigate the insurgency’s roots. They also took issue with a series of findings in the bill that quoted FBI Director Christopher Wray as saying that racially motivated violent extremism, especially white supremacy, is one of the most important threats to national security.

The investigation, according to Republicans, could not only concentrate on what contributed to the Jan. 6 insurgency, but also on violence during demonstrations over police brutality in the summer of 2020 — a hot topic among GOP voters and an idea that Democrats argue is a diversion from the real causes of the violent assault.

In an interview with MSNBC, Pelosi said, “We can pass a bill, but that’s not the point.” “You want it to be bipartisan,” says the speaker. And it can’t be bipartisan if the aim is to avoid drawing any conclusions about what occurred that day as the foundation for how we’ll proceed with our investigation.”

Failure to establish a commission will leave it up to House and Senate committees to investigate what went wrong on Jan. 6, as some lawmakers prefer. These bipartisan hearings are well underway and have already reported issues with Capitol Police. However, they are unlikely to have the same stature and reputation as an independent inquiry.

It’s uncertain if the commission is in the midst of talks. According to a House Republican leadership aide, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is also pressing for Republicans to have fair representation on the panel and more subpoena power, similar to the 9/11 commission. The aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to address the private discussions, refused to comment on whether the reach of the investigation was still a sticking point.

Last month, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the terminology is “artificial cherry picking,” and that the commission should either look narrowly at particular security failures in the Capitol or “potentially do something wider to investigate the full extent of political violence here in our country.”

A probe “with a hardwired political slant will never be valid in the eyes of the American people,” McConnell said.

If Pelosi goes ahead with the bill on a partisan basis, it would almost certainly face resistance in the Senate, where passage will require 60 votes, including 10 Republicans.

Senate Republicans questioned whether the commission had enough funding.

“My instinct is that this is not going to happen,” said Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee, which is conducting its own investigation. “Right now, I think the better way to do it is for the committees to keep working on it and try to come to faster conclusions.”

According to Blunt, a commission could take too long to produce recommendations that could strengthen Capitol security.

If the law isn’t updated, South Dakota Senator John Thune, the No. 2 Republican, believes the commission won’t be established.

“I hope it can be restarted,” Thune said, “but I guess they’ll have to look at how they can restructure it.”

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Miner’s Candle fire burning near Idaho Springs is 100% contained

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Miner’s Candle wildfire forces evacuations near Idaho Springs

The Miner’s Candle fire burning near Idaho Springs is 100% contained, fire officials said Tuesday.

The wildfire started Sunday as a structure fire and it forced residents of about two dozen homes to evacuate. The fire, which destroyed two homes, a cabin and a small number of outbuildings, burned about 15 acres, according to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office.

Strong winds on Sunday and extremely dry weather fueled the fire. There were no reports of injuries or fatalities.

 

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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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