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First Thing: House begins Capitol attack inquiry


Show caption Pro-Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building in Washington in January. Photograph: John Nacion/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock First Thing First Thing: House begins Capitol attack inquiry House select committee will investigate circumstances around 6 January attack on US Capitol amid Republican boycott Vivian Ho Tue 27 Jul 2021 11.22 BST Share on Facebook

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Good morning.

The investigation into the 6 January attack on the US Capitol opens on Tuesday, with the special committee established by the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, convening to hear testimony from law enforcement.

Republicans are set to boycott proceedings in an attempt to undermine any findings, with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy pulling all five of his appointees after Pelosi rejected two staunch supporters of Donald Trump, Jim Jordan and Jim Banks.

Republican representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger remain on the panel – Pelosi appointed them herself.

Cheney hinted that one of the appointees that Pelosi rejected “may well be a material witness to events that led to” the attack. Sidney Blumenthal, former senior adviser to Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, is of the same mindset and has some questions for congressman Jim Jordan.

California and New York City to require vaccine for government workers

A city-operated mobile pharmacy advertises the Covid vaccine near Brighton Beach in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

California and New York City announced on Monday they would mandate that all government employees either get the coronavirus vaccine or face weekly Covid testing.

Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first major federal agency to require healthcare workers to receive the shot.

These mandates come as the number of cases rise due to the highly transmissible Delta variant. California saw 218% increase in cases over the last two weeks, while hospitalizations are up 62%.

California remains one of the most vaccinated states in the country, with 77% of adults having received at least one dose. The state saw a 16% increase in vaccinations over the last week. The new infections are mostly among the unvaccinated, according to experts.

This comes as the US announced it will not lift any existing travel restrictions due to the Delta variant and rising US cases.

Democrats call for possible action over Pegasus revelations

United States Representative Tom Malinowski (Democrat of New Jersey), speaks during a hearing in Washington. The hearing is investigating the firing of Steve Linick. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

Democratic lawmakers have called on the Biden administration to consider placing NSO Group on an export blacklist, saying that recent revelations of misuse reinforced their conviction that the “hacking-for-hire industry must be brought under control”.

The statement by four members of Congress followed reports by the Pegasus project, a collaboration of 17 media organisations including the Guardian, which investigated NSO, the Israeli company that sells its powerful surveillance software to government clients around the world.

The leak at the heart of the Pegasus project contained tens of thousands of phone numbers of individuals who are believed to have been selected as candidates for possible surveillance by clients of NSO. The numbers included those of heads of state such as the French president, Emmanuel Macron, government ministers, diplomats, activists, journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers.

NSO has also said the data has “no relevance” to the company, and has rejected the reporting by the Pegasus project as “full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories”. It denied that the leaked data represented those targeted for surveillance by the Pegasus software. NSO has said the 50,000 number is exaggerated and said it was too large to represent individuals targeted by Pegasus. The company has also said that its government clients are contractually mandated to use Pegasus to target suspected criminals and terrorists and has said it would investigate any allegations of abuse.

Pentagon chief concerned by sharp rise in suicides among US troops

Some of the 200 US Marines during an official welcome ceremony at Robertson Barracks in Darwin. Photograph: Xavier la Canna/AAP

In 2020, 385 active-duty soldiers died by suicide, a marked increase from the 326 cases reported by the Pentagon in 2018. Since 30 December, at least six soldiers have died by probable suicide in Alaska.

“I’m deeply concerned about the suicide rates, not only here but across the force,” defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, said on a visit to the Eielson air base in Alaska.

Britney Spears asks for accountant to replace father as conservator

A fan holds a poster of Britney with her mouth taped shut as supporters gather outside the Los Angeles county courthouse in Los Angeles earlier this month. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

An attorney for Britney Spears has requested in court filings that a new conservator be named to oversee the pop singer’s finances following recent impassioned testimony that she wanted her father ousted from the role.

In other news…

A woman prays as she visits a makeshift memorial where the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building stood in Surfside, Florida. Photograph: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

The final victim in the Miami suburb condo collapse has been identified one month after the catastrophe that claimed 98 lives.

The US is monitoring over 200 people for potential exposure to monkeypox , after an individual who contracted the disease in Nigeria returned to Texas this month.

Indigenous Americans across North and South America are demanding a reckoning with colonialism’s brutal legacy of genocide and erasure.

Jeff Bezos offered Nasa $2bn in exchange for his company Blue Origin to receive a contract to make a spacecraft designed to land astronauts back on the moon.

Stat of the day: US Covid cases may have been undercounted by 60%

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences builds on research that found that the number of reported cases “represents only a fraction of the estimated total number of infections”.

Don’t miss: the story of the massacre of 216 wolves

Hunters are allowed to use hound dogs to hunt wolves in Wisconsin, the only state to permit it. Activists are now filming hunts to raise alarm.

Climate check: hotter than hot

The recent heatwave that swept through the Pacific northwest melted power lines, cracked roads and brought infrastructure to a halt. Worse heatwaves – “record-shattering heatwaves” – are set to become much more likely in future, according to research.

Want more environmental stories delivered to your inbox? Sign up to our Green Light newsletter to get the good, bad and essential news on the climate every week

Last Thing: Afghanistan’s gutsy female cyclists

Afghan refugee road cyclist Masomah Ali Zada will compete at the 2020 Games for the Olympic Refugee Team. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

In Afghanistan, female cyclists face both verbal and physical harassment every time they go out – motorists try to hit them with cars, shopkeepers throw vegetables at them and passersby pelt them with stones. Watching Afghan refugee Masomah Ali Zada make her Olympic debut has been a source of inspiration for these women.

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