Briefs: Vote today on a single impeachment article

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds a news conference on the day after violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Associated Press

The stunning collapse of Donald Trump’s presidency

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is on the verge of being impeached for a second time, the House planning the unprecedented vote one week after he encouraged a mob of loyalists to "fight like hell" against election results and the U.S. Capitol became the target of a deadly siege.

While the first impeachment of Trump last year brought no Republican votes in the House, a small but significant number of leaders and other lawmakers are breaking with the party to join Democrats on Wednesday, unwilling to put American decency and democracy at further risk, even with days remaining in the president's term. 

The stunning collapse of Trump's final days in office, against alarming warnings of more violence ahead by his followers, leaves the nation at an uneasy and unfamiliar juncture before Democrat Joe Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20. 

"If inviting a mob to insurrection against your own government is not an impeachable event, then what is?" said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a drafter of the articles of impeachment.

Trump, who would become the only U.S. president twice impeached, faces a single charge of "incitement of insurrection." 

What to watch as House moves to impeach Trump for 2nd time

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is on the verge of becoming the first president to be impeached twice, as lawmakers move quickly to punish him over last week's deadly U.S. Capitol attack. Trump's fiery speech at a rally just before the Jan. 6 riot is at the center of the impeachment charge against him, even as the falsehoods he spread for months about election fraud are still being championed by some Republicans.

A Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies.

What to watch as the Democratic-controlled House moves to impeach Trump for the second time in 13 months — now with just days left in the defeated president's term.

Trump's Republican wall eroding ahead of impeachment vote

Republicans offered only modest reproach when President Donald Trump said there were "very fine people" on both sides of a white supremacist rally. They stayed in line when Trump was caught pressuring a foreign leader and later defended his handling of a deadly pandemic.

But with a sudden force, the wall of Republican support that has enabled Trump to weather a seemingly endless series of crises is beginning to erode.

Trump's weakened standing among his own party will come into sharper focus on Wednesday when the House is expected to impeach the president for inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol last week. A handful of Republicans have already said they'll join the effort, a number that could grow as the vote nears. 

The choice facing Republicans isn't just about the immediate fate of Trump, who has just seven days left in his presidency. It's about whether the party's elected leaders are ready to move on from Trump, who remains popular with the GOP but is now toxic in much of Washington.

How they proceed could determine whether the party remains viable in upcoming elections or splinters in a way that could limit their relevance. 

Japan widens virus emergency for 7 more areas as cases surge

TOKYO — Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency for seven more prefectures Wednesday, affecting more than half the population amid a surge in infections across the country.

Prime Minister Yoshide Suga also said Japan will suspend fast-track business entry permits, fully banning foreign visitors while the state of emergency is in place.

Suga's announcement comes less than a week after he declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and three nearby prefectures. The new declaration, which adds seven other prefectures in western and central Japan, takes effect Thursday and lasts until Feb. 7. 

The government is asking bars and restaurants in Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Fukuoka, Aichi, Gifu and Tochigi prefectures to close by 8 p.m., employers to have 70% of their staff work from home and residents in the affected areas avoid going out for nonessential purposes. 

Suga has been criticized as being to slow to act as the country's number of reported coronavirus infections and deaths roughly doubled over the past month to about 300,000 and 4,100. Both states of emergency were declared only after local leaders had pleaded with him to do so.

Indonesia starts mass COVID-19 vaccinations with president

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday received the first shot of a Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine after Indonesia approved it for emergency use and began efforts to vaccine millions of people in the world's fourth most populated country.

After Widodo, top military, police and medical officials were vaccinated, as well as the secretary of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the clerical body that last week ruled the vaccine was halal and could be taken by Muslims. Others such as a health care worker, businesspeople and a social media influencer also received the shots to encourage people to get the vaccine when it is available to them.

"We need to do the vaccination to stop the chain spread of COVID-19 and give health protection to us and the safety to all Indonesian people. It will also help accelerate economic improvement," Widodo said.

"This vaccine is the instrument we can use to protect us. But more importantly, the vaccine is the instrument to protect our family, our neighbor, Indonesian people and the human civilization," Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Wednesday.

"This vaccine is given to achieve herd immunity. All 70% of the world's people must be vaccinated for that to be achieved. The participation of all Indonesians will greatly determine the success of this program," he said.

'Safest place in Washington' no more. A reporter's disbelief

WASHINGTON — I still can't stop watching the videos. 

There are so many of them, each with new clues about what happened a week ago today in familiar corners of the sprawling U.S. Capitol complex. Thousands of insurrectionists outside calling for a revolution. Images of broken windows and defaced relics. My own raw footage of the chaos in the House chamber. And of course the heroic Capitol Police officer who appeared to lead a mob away from the Senate doors by himself as they advanced up a staircase I have climbed so many times. 

In the last week, I have pored over the images again and again, muting videos if my children are nearby, pausing and rewinding. Finding new details. 

I still can't believe it happened. But it did, and the videos are the terrifying proof. 

I want to piece it all together, to better understand my own experience that day as hundreds of angry rioters supportive of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to protest his defeat in the election. At the time, I was convinced I would be OK even as I ducked on the floor in the upper gallery of the House chamber with members of Congress and other reporters.

World warily watches America's postelection aftershocks

PARIS — For America's allies and rivals alike, the chaos unfolding during Donald Trump's final days as president is the logical result of four years of global instability brought on by the man who promised to change the way the world viewed the United States.

From the outside, the United States has never looked so vulnerable — or unpredictable.

Alliances that had held for generations frayed to a breaking point under Trump — from his decision to back out of the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal, to quitting the World Health Organization amid a pandemic.

And then, by seeking to overturn his loss to Joe Biden, Trump upended the bedrock principle of democratic elections that the United States has tried — and sometimes even succeeded — in exporting around the world. How long those aftershocks could endure is unclear.

"It is one of the biggest tasks of the future for America and Europe — to fight the polarization of society at its roots," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. "We will only be able to preserve the belief in togetherness, in democracy as the most humane form of statehood, and the conviction in science and reason if we do it together." 

Demoted? Pushed aside? Fate of Kim Jong Un's sister unclear

SEOUL, South Korea — What has happened to Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader's influential sister?

That is a question many who watch the cloistered, nuclear-armed country are wondering after she failed to appear in absolute leader Kim Jong Un's newly released lineup for the country's powerful Politburo in recent days.

Some say Kim Jong Un may have demoted his sister over general policy failures. Others, however, believe he could be worried about her rapid rise and increasingly high profile as he tries to bolster his domestic authority in the face of growing economic challenges.

Rumors that Kim Yo Jong is her brother's heir apparent could be dangerous because they "raise the issue of Kim's hold on power and health inside North Korea," said Oh Gyeong-seob, an analyst at Seoul's Korea Institute for National Unification. This, he said, is why Kim Jong Un is slowing down her rise in power.

The development is a surprise because Kim Yo Jong, who became an alternate member of the Politburo last year, was widely expected to receive a full bureau membership during a ruling Workers' Party congress that ended Tuesday. A Politburo membership is viewed as crucial for high-level officials hoping to thrive in Kim Jong Un's government because he's made key decisions at bureau meetings, including the 2013 move to execute his powerful uncle Jang Song Taek, and the 2012 purge of military chief Ri Yong Ho.

US carries out its 1st execution of female inmate since 1953

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — A Kansas woman was executed Wednesday for strangling an expectant mother in Missouri and cutting the baby from her womb, the first time in nearly seven decades that the U.S. government has put to death a female inmate.

Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. after receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was the 11th prisoner to receive a lethal injection there since July when President Donald Trump, an ardent supporter of capital punishment, resumed federal executions following 17 years without one.

As a curtain was raised in the execution chamber, Montgomery looked momentarily bewildered as she glanced at journalists peering at her from behind thick glass. As the execution process began, a woman standing over Montgomery's shoulder leaned over, gently removed Montgomery's face mask and asked her if she had any last words. "No," Montgomery responded in a quiet, muffled voice. She said nothing else.

She tapped her fingers nervously for several seconds, a heart-shaped tattoo on her thumb, showed no signs of distress, and quickly closed her eyes. As the lethal injection began, Montgomery kept licking her lips and gasped briefly as pentobarbital, a lethal drug, entered her body through IVs on both arms. A few minutes later, her midsection throbbed for a moment, but quickly stopped.

Montgomery lay on a gurney in the pale-green execution chamber, her glasses on and her grayish brown hair spilling over a green medical pillow. At 1:30 a.m., an official in black gloves with a stethoscope walked into the room, listened to her heart and chest, then walked out. She was pronounced dead a minute

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