Two firefighters loaned to Washington for the day were the only medics on the Capitol steps Jan. 6, trying to triage injured officers as they watched the angry mob swell and attack police working to protect Congress.
Law enforcement agents were "being pulled into the crowd and trampled, assaulted with scaffolding materials, and/or bear maced by protesters," wrote Arlington County firefighter Taylor Blunt in an after-action memo. Some couldn't walk, and had to be dragged to safety.
Even the attackers sought medical help, and Blunt and his colleague Nathan Waterfall treated those who were passing out or had been hit. But some "feigned illness to remain behind police lines," Blunt wrote.
The memo is one of hundreds of emails, texts, photos and documents obtained by The Associated Press. Taken together, the materials shed new light on the sprawling patchwork of law enforcement agencies that tried to stop the siege and the lack of coordination and inadequate planning that stymied their efforts.
The AP obtained the materials through 35 Freedom of Information Act requests to law enforcement agencies that responded to the Capitol insurrection.
Pope arrives in Iraq to rally Christians despite pandemic
BAGHDAD (AP) — Pope Francis arrived in Iraq on Friday to urge the country's dwindling number of Christians to stay put and help rebuild the country after years of war and persecution, brushing aside the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns to make his first-ever papal visit.
Iraqis were keen to welcome him and the global attention his visit will bring, with banners and posters hanging high in central Baghdad, and billboards depicting Francis with the slogan "We are all Brothers" decorating the main thoroughfare. In central Tahrir square, a mock tree was erected emblazoned with the Vatican emblem, while Iraqi and Vatican flags lined empty streets.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said Iraqis were eager to welcome Francis' "message of peace and tolerance" and described the visit as a historic meeting between the "minaret and the bells." Among the highlights of the three-day visit is Francis' private meeting Saturday with the country's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a revered figure in Iraq and beyond.
Francis' plane touched down at Baghdad's airport just before 2 p.m. local time.
The government is eager to show off the relative security it has achieved after years of wars and militant attacks that nevertheless continue even today. Francis and the Vatican delegation are relying on Iraqi security forces to protect them, including with the expected first use of an armored car for the popemobile-loving pontiff.
A timeline of disaster and displacement for Iraqi Christians
BAGHDAD (AP) — In Iraq, two decades of back-to-back conflicts have left ancient Christian communities that were once a vibrant and integral part of the landscape scattered and in ruins.
Iraq was estimated to have nearly 1.5 million Christians before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. They date back to the first centuries of the religion and include Chaldean, Syriac, Assyrian and Armenian churches.
Now, church officials estimate only a few hundred thousand, or even less, remain within Iraq's borders. The rest are scattered across the globe, resettling in far-flung places like Australia, Canada and Sweden, as well as neighboring countries.
Many of those who remain in Iraq feel abandoned, bitter and helpless, some wary of neighbors with whom they once shared feasts and religious celebrations, Muslim and Christian alike.
The Vatican for years has voiced concern about the flight of Christians from the Middle East, driven out by war, poverty, persecution and discrimination. Pope Francis hopes that by visiting Iraq — the first visit by a sitting pontiff — he will be sending a message of hope and solidarity.
YouTube removes Myanmar army channels; UN to meet on crisis
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — YouTube removed five channels run by Myanmar's military for violating its guidelines, it announced Friday, as demonstrators defied growing violence by security forces and staged more anti-coup protests ahead of a special U.N. Security Council meeting on the country's political crisis.
YouTube said it is watching for any further content that might violate its rules. It earlier pulled dozens of channels as part of an investigation into content uploaded in a coordinated influence campaign.
The decision by YouTube followed Facebook's earlier announcement that it has removed all Myanmar military-linked pages from its site and from Instagram, which it also owns.
The escalation of violence by security forces has put pressure on the world community to act to restrain the junta, which seized power on Feb. 1 by ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Large protests against military rule have occurred daily in many cities and towns. Security forces escalated their crackdown this week with greater use of lethal force and mass arrests. At least 18 protesters were shot dead on Sunday and 38 on Wednesday, according to the U.N. Human Rights Office. More than 1,000 people have been arrested, the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said.
Reports: NY officials altered count of nursing home deaths
NEW YORK (AP) — Top aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo altered a state Health Department report to obscure the true number of people killed by COVID-19 in the state's nursing homes, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported late Thursday.
The aides, including the secretary to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, pushed state health officials to edit the July report so only residents who died inside long-term care facilities, and not those who became ill there and later died at a hospital, were counted, the newspapers reported, citing documents and people with knowledge of the administration's internal discussions.
The report was designed and released to rebut criticism of Cuomo over a March 25 directive that barred nursing homes from rejecting recovering coronavirus patients being discharged from hospitals. Some nursing homes complained at the time that the policy could help spread the virus.
The report concluded the policy played no role in spreading infection.
The state's analysis was based partly on what officials acknowledged at the time was an imprecise statistic. The report said 6,432 people had died in the state's nursing homes.
US job growth likely rose in February in rebound from slump
WASHINGTON (AP) — America's employers likely stepped up their hiring in February as confirmed viral cases declined, consumers spent big chunks of their government aid checks and the economy appeared to be sustaining a tentative recovery.
Economists have forecast that job growth reached 175,000 last month, according to data provider FactSet. That would mark a sharp improvement over an average of just 29,000 jobs a month from November through January.
Yet with the nation still 10 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level, monthly hiring would need to significantly accelerate to bring relief to the many people who remain laid off, especially at restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues and other areas of the hospitality industry that are far from recovered. The unemployment rate is predicted to have ticked up from 6.3% to 6.4% on the assumption that more Americans started looking for work in February and began to be counted as unemployed.
One year into the pandemic, most analysts are growing more optimistic that hiring will accelerate in the coming months, with the economy strengthening and gauges of consumer spending and manufacturing rising. Americans as a whole have accumulated a huge pile of savings after having slashed spending on travel, movie tickets and visits to bars and restaurants. Much of that money is expected to be spent once most people feel comfortable about going out.
And nearly all of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion economic rescue package looks likely to win approval in Congress in the coming weeks. It would provide, among other things, $1,400 relief checks to most adults, an additional $400 in weekly unemployment aid and another round of aid to small businesses.
By slimmest of margins, Senate takes up $1.9T relief bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is beginning debate on a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, after Democrats made eleventh-hour changes aimed at ensuring they could pull President Joe Biden's top legislative priority through the precariously divided chamber.
Democrats were hoping for Senate approval of the package before next week, in time for the House to sign off and get the measure to Biden quickly. After the Senate voted by the slimmest of margins Thursday to begin the debate, Democrats were encountering opposition from Republicans arguing that the measure's massive price tag ignored promising signs that the pandemic and wounded economy were turning around.
Democratic leaders made over a dozen late additions to their package, reflecting their need to cement unanimous support from all their senators — plus Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote — to succeed in the 50-50 chamber. It's widely expected the Senate will approve the bill and the House will whisk it to Biden for his signature by mid-March, handing him a crucial early legislative victory.
The Senate's 51-50 vote to start debating the package, with Harris pushing Democrats over the top, underscored how they were navigating the package through Congress with virtually no margin for error. In the House their majority is a scrawny 10 votes.
The bill, aimed at battling the killer virus and nursing the staggered economy back to health, will provide direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans. There's also money for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, aid to state and local governments, help for schools and the airline industry, tax breaks for lower-earners and families with children, and subsidies for health insurance.
Little damage from huge Pacific quake; tsunami threat passes
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — One of the strongest earthquakes to hit the South Pacific in modern history triggered tsunami warnings across the ocean and forced thousands of people in New Zealand to evacuate coastal areas Friday. Small tsunami waves were seen, but little damage was apparent hours later.
The magnitude 8.1 quake in the Kermadec Islands region about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from New Zealand's two main islands was the largest in a series of temblors over several hours, including two earlier quakes that registered magnitude 7.4 and magnitude 7.3.
The tsunami threat caused traffic jams and some chaos in New Zealand as people scrambled to get to higher ground.
Residents recorded videos of small wave surges in some places, including at Tokomaru Bay near Gisborne. In the afternoon, the National Emergency Management Agency said the threat had passed and people could return to their homes, although they should continue avoiding beaches.
One of the earlier quakes hit much closer to New Zealand and awoke many people as they felt a long, rumbling shaking. "Hope everyone is ok out there," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wrote on Facebook during the night.
China sets growth target 'over 6 percent,' tightening HK control
BEIJING (AP) — China's No. 2 leader set a healthy economic growth target Friday and vowed to make the nation self-reliant in technology amid tension with the U.S. and Europe over trade and human rights. Another official announced plans to tighten control over Hong Kong by reducing the public's role in government.
The ruling Communist Party aims for growth of "over 6 percent" as the world's second-largest economy rebounds from the coronavirus, Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech to China's ceremonial legislature. About 3,000 delegates gathered for its annual meeting, the year's highest-profile political event, under intense security and anti-virus controls. It has been shortened from two weeks to one because of the pandemic.
The party is shifting back to its longer-term goal of becoming a global competitor in telecoms, electric cars and other profitable technology. That is inflaming trade tension with Washington and Europe, which complain Beijing's tactics violate its market-opening commitments and hurt foreign competitors.
Li promised progress in reining in climate-changing carbon emissions, a step toward keeping President Xi Jinping's pledge last year to become carbon-neutral by 2060. But he avoided aggressive targets that might weigh on economic growth.
The NPC meeting focuses on domestic issues but is overshadowed by geopolitics as Xi's government pursues more assertive trade and strategic policies and faces criticism over its treatment of Hong Kong and ethnic minorities. The ruling party has doubled down on crushing dissent as Xi tries to cement his image as a history-making leader reclaiming China's rightful place as a global power.
AP PHOTOS: Madrid hospital staff learn to cope with virus
LEGANÉS, Spain (AP) — A voice shouts "Red Alert!" from the end of the corridor. An ambulance has just delivered the latest resident of an elderly care home in the Spanish capital. He's in a critical condition and time is of the essence.
A well-practiced choreography immediately goes into motion, sending an adrenaline rush through the emergency ward in this suburban Madrid hospital.
One by one, the medical team follows the steps they have revisited ever since the first coronavirus case was admitted to the Severo Ochoa Hospital one year ago. Only when the elderly man is stabilized and transferred to the so-called "red zone," an area reserved for treating COVID-19, does the team slow down and go back to their computers.
One year ago, staff had to deal with the exasperation of fighting an unknown enemy, the fear of bringing the virus back home, the scarcity of protective gear and the bodies lined up in the morgue. At the height of contagion, the corridors of this facility of nearly 400 beds were crowded with patients on chairs and on stretchers because there were no more beds for the steady flood of new patients.
The hospital's 10 beds with intensive care capabilities had to be expanded to 30 with a great deal of creativity and hard work. Iván Andrés, who keeps tabs on the hospital's maintenance needs, says that oxygen tank deliveries, which normally arrive every three days, went up to twice daily.