Joblessness, Riot Investigation, Hottest Year: Your Thursday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Joblessness and job losses are up, again.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 1.15 million workers initially filed for state unemployment benefits last week, and another 284,000 claims were filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an emergency federal program for freelancers, part-time workers and others. The report follows a loss of 140,000 jobs in December.

Both numbers are the highest in months, and show that, unsurprisingly, the leisure and hospitality industries are the hardest hit. “We’re in a deep economic hole, and we’re digging in the wrong direction,” said Daniel Zhao, an economist. Above, a once-bustling corner of Canal Street in Manhattan.

President-elect Joe Biden has sought to steer above the governmental crisis caused by the Capitol riot and the second impeachment of President Trump. Tonight around 7 p.m., he’ll lay out his plans for trillions of dollars in government spending to fight the pandemic and shore up the economy. We’ll carry it live in our transition briefing.

2. Washington is figuring out what comes next.

Federal investigators are focusing on any military and law enforcement personnel who may have been involved in last week’s assault on the Capitol, a law enforcement official told our reporters. They have so far found no evidence that some members of Congress helped coordinate the siege, as a prominent pro-Trump figure has claimed.

Among the most recent arrests related to the riot: Kevin Seefried, who was identified as the man who carried a Confederate battle flag into the Capitol; his son; and Robert Sanford, who was identified as the man seen in a video throwing a fire extinguisher at police officers.

Republicans in Congress have split, deeply, and some are scrambling to determine the political consequences of breaking with President Trump — especially senators contemplating how to vote in his second impeachment trial.

It’s all but certain that the trial will take place after he leaves office next Wednesday. But the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, above with the formalized article of impeachment, may wait to send it to the Senate. That would give the Senate time to put Mr. Biden’s national security team in place.

3. Security concerns are rising across the country.

With thousands of National Guard troops flooding Washington and the pandemic raging, it’s clear the inauguration will be completely different this year. No crowds, a virtual parade, visible military security.

The F.B.I. is also urging police chiefs across the country to be on alert for extremist activity. And President Trump remains extremely influential among Republicans at the state and local levels.

For instance, Amanda Chase, a state senator in Virginia who spoke at a protest in Washington ahead of the riot, maintained this week that Mr. Trump could still be sworn in for a second term.

“They’ve got Mitch McConnell up there selling out the Republican Party,” Ms. Chase said in an interview. “The insurrection is actually the deep state with the politicians working against the people to overthrow our government.”

4. Millions of people are switching communication apps, either because they were cut off from Facebook, Twitter or Parler in the wake of the Capitol riot, or because they fear big tech’s sweeping power.

Prominent Republicans decried the cutoff of Mr. Trump and others as “cancel culture” and “Orwellian.” The encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram are the biggest beneficiaries of the switch.

Abroad, activists are frustrated that Facebook and Twitter have largely rebuffed calls to remove hate speech or inciting comments made by political figures and government officials in other countries.

Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel, two Opinion writers, say Facebook’s algorithms allowed the site to serve as an incubator for the scene in Washington last week.

5. The World Health Organization’s team arrived in Wuhan, after a year of trying.

The obstacles were immediate. Chinese authorities blocked two of the scientists from entry because they tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, and the remaining 13 scientists must undergo two weeks of quarantine before they begin looking into the origins of the coronavirus.

The investigation is a critical step in understanding how the virus jumped to humans from animals so that another pandemic can be avoided, but China is notoriously wary of outside scrutiny. The inquiry could take months or longer.

U.S. vaccinations are still stumbling. In New York City, a million residents over 65 became eligible, but buggy websites and multiple sign-up systems have made signing up for the shots maddening. And across the country, some hospital and nursing home staff members are loath to be inoculated, leading employers to offer incentives: cash, extra time off, even Waffle House gift cards.

6. Rick Snyder, the former governor of Michigan, was arraigned in connection with his role in the Flint water crisis.

If Mr. Snyder, above rear, is convicted on two misdemeanor charges of neglect, he faces imprisonment of up to one year or a maximum fine of $1,000. His lawyer said he expected the former governor to be exonerated.

Several other officials were also charged with crimes tied to the crisis, including Nick Lyon, the former state health director; Howard Croft, a former public works director; and Darnell Earley, the city’s former emergency manager.

Mayor Sheldon Neeley called the consequences of Flint’s water crisis, combined with the city’s raging coronavirus infections, a “perfect storm.”

The areas that warmed the most? The Arctic and Siberia. Above, the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk reached a record 100 degrees Fahrenheit in June, more than 30 degrees above average.

In the short-term, the reduction of tailpipe emissions during pandemic lockdowns may have allowed more sunlight to reach the surface and be trapped by greenhouses gases, increasing temperatures.

8. Siegfried, of Siegfried & Roy, has died.

The two German-born magicians were domestic and professional partners, known for their long-running Las Vegas act with big cats. Siegried Fishbacher met Roy Horn while performing magic tricks on a German cruise ship in 1957.

Their Vegas act was halted in 2003 when Mr. Horn was mauled by a tiger, and they officially retired from show business in 2010. Mr. Horn died last year at the age of 75 from complications of Covid-19. Mr. Fishbacher, 81, had pancreatic cancer. Here’s our obituary.

9. Electric eels are — surprise! — pack hunters.

A new study found that at least one species of the eel, which is actually a type of knifefish, conducts highly coordinated group hunts. “When I saw the tetras jumping after the attacks, I was in shock,” said one of the researchers who witnessed a hunt in the remote Amazon. “Group hunting is a rare event in freshwater fishes.

In other animal discoveries, a new orangutan-hued bat was discovered in Guinea.

10. And finally, sea shanties are back.

The songs once created a sense of community among working sailors, and their rhythms could distract from chores or keep time for hauling in sails.

Over the last two weeks, a video made by a Scottish postman singing “Soon May the Wellerman Come” has been shared and duetted thousands of times: by professional musicians, maritime enthusiasts, memers, a Kermit the Frog puppet, and more.

Experts might cavil that is not a true shanty, but rather a whaling ballad — but the two share a form that is kind regarding musical ability.

“That’s one of the things I love about sea shanties,” said one folk musician. “The accessibility. You don’t have to be a trained singer to sing on it. You’re not supposed to sing pretty.”

Belt it out this evening.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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