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In the United States Capitol attack, judges take social media postings into account when determining criminal penalties.



For many insurrectionists, self-incriminating postings, photographs, and videos they published on social media before, during, and after the attack are influencing their criminal sentences.

Before she sentenced Pennsylvania man Russell Peterson to 30 days in prison this month, US district judge Amy Jackson read aloud several of his postings.

“Overall, I had a blast!” Peterson wrote on Facebook, using the social media acronym for “laugh out loud.”

The judge declared that Peterson’s messages made it “exceedingly difficult” for her to show him clemency.

“The ‘lol’ in particular kept me awake because, as I hope you’ve come to understand, nothing about January 6th was amusing,” he continued.

One of the most significant lessons from the Department of Justice’s criminal case against the insurrection is how important social media has played, with much of the most damaging evidence coming from rioters’ own words and films, as well as indications that they had entered the Capitol, damaged property, or injured people.

Following days of fanfare from the rightwing and a demonstration in Washington, DC, where the then president urged the crowd to try to prevent official election certification by Congress of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 presidential election, far-right extremists stormed the Capitol.

Agents have identified numerous rioters from public postings and records obtained via subpoenas to social media sites. Posts were used to build cases, and judges are now considering them in favor of stiffer penalties.

More than 50 people have been sentenced for federal crimes connected to the upheaval, according to a Friday statement from the US Department of Justice. In at least 28 cases, prosecutors have included a defendant’s social media posts into their sentencing requests, according to an AP review of court documents.

Some insurrectionists celebrated the bloodshed or spewed hateful language on social media. Others used it to spread misinformation, promote wild conspiracy theories, or downplay their involvement. Some defendants have been accused of attempting to erase postings in an attempt to conceal evidence.

Approximately 700 people have been indicted on federal charges as a result of the riot. About 150 of them have accepted responsibility. Over a dozen individuals have already been sentenced to time in jail or prison, while more than 20 offenders have received jail or prison sentences. Home confinement was handed down to over a dozen others.

A criminal complaint revealed that Indiana hair salon owner Dona Sue Bissey and her employees were involved in the riot, but the judge in the case, Tanya Chutkan, sentenced her to two weeks in jail for her role.

The court noted that Bissey had tweeted a screenshot of a Twitter post that read, “This is the first time the US Capitol has been breached since it was assaulted by the British in 1814.”

“Ms. Bissey did not experience guilt or regret upon returning home,” Chutkan added. “She’s delighted and bragging about her role in what essentially amounted to an attempted takeover of the government.”

Congressional investigations have provided considerable detail, which has astonished even experienced election-watchers in terms of the scale and intricacy of Trump’s attempted coup. After receiving a tip that Andrew Ryan Bennett live-streamed video from within the Capitol, FBI agents secured a search warrant for his Facebook page.

“You better be ready for chaos is coming and I will be in DC on January 6, 2021 fighting for my freedom!” exclaimed Bennett on Facebook a week before the riot.

The judge noted that argument as a “aggravating” factor in favor of house arrest rather than a completely probationary sentence.

“The foundation of our democratic republic is the peaceful transfer of power after elections,” the judge told Bennett. “What you and others did on January 6th was nothing less than an attempt to undermine that system of government.”

Meanwhile, a video of New Jersey gym owner Scott Fairlamb hitting a police officer outside the Capitol has gone viral. His Facebook and Instagram posts revealed that he was prepared to act violently there and had no sense of responsibility for his decisions, according to prosecutors.

Other rioters like Fairlamb, remarked the Senior Judge Royce Lamberth, would be “well advised” to strike a plea bargain. “You couldn’t have beaten this if you went to trial based on the evidence I saw,” Lamberth said before sentencing Fairlamb to 41 months in jail.

The use of social media has drawn fire from critics of the tech firms that provide the platforms. Facebook was found to have failed to detect red flags in the run-up to the assault.

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Why French President Macron’s Comments About COVID Are Raising Eyebrows



Following the continuing COVID-19 epidemic, French President Emmanuel Macron has offered an eyebrow-raising perspective on unvaccinated people. While visiting a French publication, the politician stated that vaccine requirements that force people to get vaccines for things like going out to dinner or watching a film are intended to irritate non-compliers. “I really want to piss them off. And so we will continue to do so, to the bitter end. That’s the strategy,” Macron commented.

The president’s call for a strong line on vaccinations has sparked controversy in France, according to the New York Times. Macron’s policy of making unvaccinated people miserable has generated some pushback in the country, with the president’s latest remarks receiving varied responses on Twitter. “To me, that’s leadership,” opined one person. “I like him…my kind of strategy. Keep the pressure on!” someone else weighed in. And another Twitter user commented, “Macron doesn’t force them, he puts baby in a corner, as he should. It works. They’re getting vax’d. No vaccine? Then no bars, restaurants, or clubs for you. You disqualified yourself by not caring abt overburdening the hospitals, taking up ICU space, vents, & exhausting staff.”

Not everyone likes Macron’s COVID comments

Despite the fact that French statesman Emmanuel Macron received a lot of backing on social media for his COVID remarks, many people were not pleased. “Macron’s comments are completely beyond the pale. Really vile stuff. In a just world, his election hopes would now be toast,” tweeted one person.

“When elected leaders can talk and act in the vile way that Macron and Trudeau do, othering and baiting millions of their own citizens, and most observers barely bat an eyelid, we’re facing very worrying times. An age of authoritarianism is upon us. It can’t end well,” opined another non-supporter.

And as another Twitter user joked, “Macron apparently skipped the part of history where the French ruler pissed off the French people.” 

Meanwhile, as The New York Times reports, French Parliament is in the process of approving a bill that will require proof of vaccination to take part in many aspects of French life, including eating at cafes and visiting museums.

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U.S. reports over 1 million new daily Covid cases as omicron surges



The United States has seen its most ever single-day number of Covid infections in a single day, with over 1 million new infections reported.

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, 1,082,549 new coronavirus infections were reported Monday, as the highly contagious omicron variant continues to spread across the country.

The fresh daily count has increased the total number of cases discovered in the United States since the pandemic’s start to 56,189,547. At a minimum, the virus has caused 827,748 deaths across the country as a whole.

The record single-day total may be attributed in part to delayed reporting over the holiday weekend. Many states failed to submit data on New Year’s Eve, and many do not submit data on weekends, suggesting that some of these occurrences could be due to prior positive tests.

Nonetheless, as of January 3, the seven-day average of daily new U.S. cases has reached 479,273, which is the highest such statistic for any country monitored by Johns Hopkins.

According to a seven-day average of data from the Department of Health and Human Services, as of January 3, 98,000 Americans were hospitalized with Covid-19, up 32% from a week ago. Covid recorded a peak of roughly 103,000 hospital admissions across the United States in early September, but it remains lower than last winter’s high of about 137,000 U.S. hospitalizations.

According to data from Johns Hopkins, the United States has recorded an average of about 1,200 daily Covid deaths each week since Jan. 3, well below the record numbers seen after last year’s holiday season, when the daily average hovered around 3,000 for roughly a month beginning in January 2021. In other words, the death toll tends to lag behind increases in case counts and hospitalizations.

The omicron variety has begun to surpass the formerly prominent delta strain of the virus in recent weeks, according to experts.

According to the latest available weekly data from the CDC in the United States, which ended on December 25, delta was responsible for around 41% of cases, whereas omicron represented about 58.6 percent of infections.

Given the new variant’s potential to spread, U.S. health officials have urged vaccinations and resistance immunization against the coronavirus while monitoring developments.

Early research suggested that Covid vaccines are less effective against the omicron form than other strains. However, three doses of vaccine — the two initial vaccinations plus a booster — significantly boost omicron resistance by threefold, according to the same research.

The omicron variant, according to study, causes less severe infections.

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Biden will deliver a speech to the nation during which he will announce that 1 million new cases were reported in a single day



Joe Biden will speak to the general public Tuesday about omicron variant COVID-19 cases continue to surge following the holidays, with more than 4,000 new infections.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, 0.1 percent of Americans have tested positive for the virus in the last week. On Monday alone, over 1 million incidents were reported in the United States, with many of them likely backlogged from New Year’s weekend.

While the holidays may have caused COVID-19 case counts to fluctuate, the increase in coronavirus cases across the country indicates a clear trend: another surge of the virus – and it’s likely that not all cases are reported from at-home testing. Before the new year, Biden committed $137 million to boost production of home screening devices

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with the White House COVID-19 Response Team. They’ll be educated on resources being delivered to states and local communities to assist with staffing shortages and hospital capacity, as well as expanding access to COVID-19 therapies and recent data on the omicron variant.

Today’s numbers: According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the United States has more than 56 million confirmed COVID-19 infections – one for every six people in the country – and almost 827,000 fatalities.

World totals: More than 292.6 million cases and 5.4 million deaths have been recorded worldwide as of today. The CDC has recorded more than 4,000 new cases in the last week, with a possible many more backlogged from New Year’s weekend.

According to CDC projections, it is estimated that between 35 and 50 percent of infected individuals will not show symptoms. The CDC has reported that 25 percent of infected people have been hospitalized or killed on average across all countries.

The number of cases in each state is kept private by the CDC, but it released a national map showing outbreaks occur across all regions. Bismarck ND has had at least one confirmed infection from reports from local hospitals, with many more being reported on a daily basis.

What we’re reading: In preparation for the reopening of schools during a COVID-19 outbreak, officials plan to increase coronavirus testing when classes resume in January. Leaders are still working out the details, leaving significant concerns about safety and logistics.

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