Heathrow reopens dedicated Covid-19 red list terminal | News

Heathrow has reopened its dedicated facility for passengers arriving from red list countries.

From today, Terminal 4 will act as a separate arrivals facility, keeping direct red list arrivals away from passengers in all other operational terminals.

This safety-first approach delivers a more efficient journey for all passengers, alongside a multiple layered approach that will keep passengers and colleagues safe – including mandatory requirement of face coverings, intensive robotic cleaning regimes across the airport, enhanced ventilation in immigration halls and Covid-19 marshals on hand.

As the whole of the UK experiences additional measures, intended to be temporary, Heathrow reassures its passengers that they remain safe and can fly with confidence in coming weeks.

Passengers flying into Heathrow will be able to use PCR testing facilities either on or close to the airport.

Those choosing to test at the airport must pre-book and enjoy a service that will shorten the time needed self-isolate in a move to protect business travel and those reuniting with friends and family for a short time only.

Heathrow chief operating officer, Emma Gilthorpe, said: “We are supportive of measures that protect public health and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“The rapid introduction of restrictions for international travel will nonetheless be a further significant blow for British exporters and those wanting to visit friends and relatives.

“Keeping the changes under constant review and a government commitment to the removal of red list countries, as soon as it is safe to do so, will help.

“Heathrow maintains the highest levels of Covid-secure measures to ensure our passengers, colleagues and partners know that Heathrow is a safe place to travel to and from.”

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Red Flags – Washington Post

The head of intelligence at D.C.’s homeland security office was growing desperate. For days, Donell HarvinDonell HarvinClose As the head of intelligence at D.C.’s homeland security office, Harvin led a team that spotted warnings that extremists planned to descend on the Capitol and disrupt the electoral count. and his team had spotted increasing signs that supporters of President Donald Trump were planning violence when Congress met to formalize the electoral college vote, but federal law enforcement agencies did not seem to share his sense of urgency. On Saturday, Jan. 2, he picked up the phone and called his counterpart in San Francisco, waking Mike Sena before dawn.

Sena listened with alarm. The Northern California intelligence office he commanded had also been inundated with political threats flagged by social media companies, several involving plans to disrupt the joint session or hurt lawmakers on Jan. 6.

He organized an unusual call for all of the nation’s regional homeland security offices — known as fusion centers — to find out what others were seeing. Sena expected a couple dozen people to get on the line that Monday. But then the number of callers hit 100. Then 200. Then nearly 300. Officials from nearly all 80 regions, from New York to Guam, logged on.

In the 20 years since the country had created fusion centers in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sena couldn’t remember a moment like this. For the first time, from coast to coast, the centers were blinking red. The hour, date and location of concern was the same: 1 p.m., the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6.

Harvin asked his counterparts to share what they were seeing. Within minutes, an avalanche of new tips began streaming in. Self-styled militias and other extremist groups in the Northeast were circulating radio frequencies to use near the Capitol. In the Midwest, men with violent criminal histories were discussing plans to travel to Washington with weapons.

Harvin was one of numerous people inside and outside of government who alerted authorities to the growing likelihood of deadly violence on Jan. 6, according to a Washington Post investigation, which found a cascade of previously undisclosed warnings preceded the attack on the Capitol. Alerts were raised by local officials, FBI informants, social media companies, former national security officials, researchers, lawmakers and tipsters, new documents and firsthand accounts show.

This investigation is based on interviews with more than 230 people and thousands of pages of court documents and internal law enforcement reports, along with hundreds of videos, photographs and audio recordings. Some of those who were interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions or sensitive information.

While the public may have been surprised by what happened on Jan. 6, the makings of the insurrection had been spotted at every level, from one side of the country to the other. The red flags were everywhere.

One of the most striking flares came when a tipster called the FBI on the afternoon of Dec. 20: Trump supporters were discussing online how to sneak guns into Washington to “overrun” police and arrest members of Congress in January, according to internal bureau documents obtained by The Post. The tipster offered specifics: Those planning violence believed they had “orders from the President,” used code words such as “pickaxe” to describe guns and posted the times and locations of four spots around the country for caravans to meet the day before the joint session. On one site, a poster specifically mentioned Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) as a target.

Key findings
  • Law enforcement officials did not respond with urgency to a cascade of warnings about violence on Jan. 6
  • Pentagon leaders had acute fears about widespread violence, and some feared Trump could misuse the National Guard to remain in power
  • The Capitol Police was disorganized and unprepared
  • Trump’s election lies radicalized his supporters in real time

An FBI official who assessed the tip noted that its criminal division had received a “significant number” of alerts about threats to Congress and other government officials. The FBI passed the information to law enforcement agencies in D.C. but did not pursue the matter. “The individual or group identified during the Assessment does not warrant further FBI investigation at this time,” the internal report concluded.

The paralysis that led to one of the biggest security failures in the nation’s history was driven by unique breakdowns inside each law enforcement agency and was exacerbated by the patchwork nature of security across a city where responsibilities are split between local and federal authorities.

While the U.S. government has been consumed with heading off future terrorist plots since 9/11, its agencies failed to effectively harness the security and intelligence infrastructure built in the wake of that assault by Islamic extremists to look inward at domestic threats.

Intelligence officials certainly never envisioned a mass attack against the government incited by the sitting president.

Yet Trump was the driving force at every turn as he orchestrated what would become an attempted political coup in the months leading up to Jan. 6, calling his supporters to Washington, encouraging the mob to march on the Capitol and freezing in place key federal agencies whose job it was to investigate and stop threats to national security.

For months, the president had been priming his supporters to believe that the election was rigged, that he was the rightful winner, and that Joe Biden’s victory was illegitimate and the product of a conspiracy by Democrats and the media. Throughout the fall and winter, Trump leaned on election officials in states such as Georgia and Arizona with a blizzard of tweets and personal phone calls, trying to get them to undo the results of the election.

When that failed, he turned his focus to Jan. 6, historically a pro forma ritual by Congress.

His words triggered rapid action by angry supporters who made plans to go to the nation’s capital, fusing together in a dangerous call-and-response.

Come to Washington, Trump tweeted to his supporters on the Saturday before Christmas, issuing a clarion call for them to gather and protest on Jan. 6: “Be there, will be wild!”

It was the first time since Election Day that the president had urged his backers to turn out in Washington and protest. His message immediately began to shift the intelligence landscape, with the volume of threatening messages about Jan. 6 expanding by the hour.

As Jan. 6 neared, Trump ratcheted up his calls for action on that day – and the pressure on Vice President Mike Pence, whose role was to preside over the joint session. The president embraced a cast of renegade lawyers who argued that Pence could reject electors from a handful of states and, ultimately, nullify Biden’s victory.

Trump primed his base to view Pence as either a would-be hero or villain, depending on the path the vice president took.

“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us,” he declared at a rally in Georgia two days before the joint session, adding: “If he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him as much.”

Trump’s supporters not only knew where the president wanted them to gather on Jan. 6. They knew whom to target.

Trump spoke at a rally in Dalton, Ga., on Jan. 4, a day before the state’s runoff election that determined control of the Senate. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post; The Washington Post; Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Again and again, as the pivotal day approached, top law enforcement officials fielded warnings of what was to come, but failed to respond in kind.

Politics was also at play. After months of the president threatening to fire FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, the agency’s senior leaders worried that any public statements by the director might be “asking for a desperate president to come after him,” as one person familiar with the discussions said.

At the Pentagon, leaders had acute fears about widespread violence, and some feared Trump could misuse the National Guard to remain in power, new accounts reveal.

At one point, Milley suggested locking down the city and revoking permits for protests, and acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller said he feared a bloody “Boston Massacre-type” altercation that could be exploited by extremists to claim they were under attack by the government.

In response to The Post’s findings, Capitol Police leaders said they have already instituted many reforms to correct the mistakes that led to Jan. 6. “The Department expected and planned for violence from some protesters with ties to domestic terrorist organizations, but nobody in the law enforcement or intelligence communities imagined, on top of that threat, Americans who were not affiliated with those groups would cause the mayhem to metastasize to a volume uncontrollable for any single law enforcement agency,” the department said in a statement. “The world should never forget our officers fought like hell on January 6 and at the end of the day nobody they were charged with protecting was hurt and the Legislative process continued.”

DHS said in a statement that it is participating in ongoing investigations about the security failings and “leveraging lessons learned to enhance its ability to prevent future acts of violence.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the Defense Department “continues to cooperate with the Congress as they examine the events of that day.”

Senior FBI officials defended the bureau’s work leading up to Jan. 6 as proactive and aggressive. In interviews and statements, they insisted much of the alarming online chatter agents saw was largely “aspirational” and therefore protected First Amendment free speech — not the detailed evidence of planning needed to launch an investigation or foresee a mass attack on the Capitol.

In a handful of cases, the FBI engaged with people who were already under investigation to discourage them from traveling to Washington for Jan. 6, officials said. A bureau official said in one instance, investigators received a tip about a person espousing violence toward police officers on Jan. 6 and sent agents and local police to interview the subject. Nationwide, the bureau also instructed field offices to be on the lookout for information on threats in the Washington region before the joint session.

FBI Assistant Director Cathy Milhoan said the bureau “was actively engaged in gathering intelligence, disrupting travel, and sharing information with our partners. The FBI specifically warned state, local, and federal partners about the potential for violence at the January 6 events.”

The Justice Department said it is awaiting the findings of ongoing investigations into its preparations for that day, adding that the Capitol attack “was a heinous event that sought to interfere with the cornerstone of our democracy—the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another. Holding accountable those who committed criminal acts on January 6th is a top priority.”

In a statement, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich disputed The Post’s investigation as “fake news” and falsely cast people who entered the Capitol that day as “agitators not associated with President Trump.”

102 days to go

The violent events of Jan. 6 had been months in the making.

Trump’s first allusion to the notion that Congress could determine the winner of the presidential race came more than a month before voters went to the polls, on Sept. 26, at a rally outside Harrisburg, Pa.

After rattling off his usual tropes about voter fraud, the president offered a new line: “I don’t want to go back to Congress either, even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress. Does everyone understand that? I think it’s 26 to 22 or something because it’s counted one vote per state.”

While the line didn’t register in Harrisburg, congressional Democrats in Washington took note.

In early August, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had quietly instructed members of her leadership team to begin contingency planning should Trump attempt to overturn the election in Congress in the case of a tie or dispute in the electoral college. In such a case, each state’s delegation in the House would be allotted one vote to determine the president. Ahead of the election, Republicans held the advantage, controlling 26 state delegations to the Democrats’ 22.

Recognizing this possibility, Democrats had begun targeting six races across Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Montana and Alaska, a list that would grow to more than a dozen. If a handful of those changed hands, it would give Democrats control of more than 25 state delegations when the new Congress was seated on Jan. 3 — enough to ensure that Biden would win a contested vote in the House on Jan. 6.

Trump’s remark in Pennsylvania confirmed Democratic suspicions. The next day, Pelosi sent a letter to her caucus revealing that a backup plan was already underway.

“The Constitution says that a candidate must receive a majority of the state delegations to win,” Pelosi wrote. “We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so.”

Three days after the Harrisburg rally, Trump made a more menacing declaration at the first presidential debate.

Asked by moderator Chris Wallace whether he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups for their part in compounding deadly violence that had beset U.S. cities during the summer of 2020 — including a 17-year-old who allegedly fired on protesters in Kenosha, Wis., killing two and wounding a third — Trump insisted that the violence was coming from the left, not the right.

Biden pressed Trump to specifically condemn the Proud Boys, a far-right group known for street brawls with liberal protesters. When Wallace sought an answer, Trump said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

On Parler, the social media network popular with conservatives and hate groups, the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, responded almost immediately:

To a man who felt that the homeownership his parents had achieved would always be out of reach, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan had struck a chord. The son and grandson of union elevator mechanics, Hodgkins had worked at factories, driven delivery trucks, sold firewood and scrapped metal, and until recent years had a side gig as a wrestler, sometimes making just $25 a match. For the past seven years, he had worked late-night shifts at a manufacturing facility, moving large steel coils.

His political affiliations were equally nomadic — he had backed Republican George W. Bush in 2000, independent Ralph Nader in 2004 and Democrat Barack Obama in 2008. In 2012, he wrote in his own name. But since 2016, he had been all-in for Trump.

LEFT: Paul Hodgkins volunteers at a Trump rally in Tampa on Oct. 29, 2020. RIGHT: Leading up to Election Day, Hodgkins stood along busy intersections, waving Trump campaign flags. (Photos courtesy of Paul Hodgkins)

“Ever since I was a kid, I remember many people saying they would love to see someone who wasn’t a politician, who hadn’t been bought and sold through the levers of Washington, become president. I saw that in Donald Trump,” Hodgkins said. “It seemed like both sides of the aisle didn’t want him, and that made me and a lot of other people want him all the more.”

Hodgkins volunteered for Trump phone banks, but what he really loved was a kind of performance art version of campaigning. In the weeks before Election Day, Hodgkins donned a pair of star-spangled MAGA tights and stood along busy intersections in Tampa, waving Trump campaign flags.

As Trump made misleading and false claims warning about voter fraud, Hodgkins grew concerned. He had never heard of tactics like “vote harvesting” or seen so much voting by mail.

“Previous elections we didn’t have that kind of thing go on,” he said.

63 days to go

In the wee hours of the morning after the election, as it appeared that he could be in danger of losing, Trump stepped before supporters in the East Room and falsely claimed that the election was rigged.

The next day, Trump tweeted that he “claimed” a win in Pennsylvania, falsely asserting that the state wasn’t allowing vote observers.

The tweets and other social media posts by Trump, his son Eric Trump and members of his campaign began to activate his supporters, especially in the must-win battleground states that he was on track to lose. Mentions of “stop the steal” exploded online. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh claimed without evidence that there were shenanigans at a ballot-processing center in Detroit preventing Trump’s votes from being counted fairly. By that afternoon, the president’s supporters had converged on the facility. By nightfall, protesters had also congregated outside government offices in Maricopa County, Ariz., where over 300,000 ballots remained to be counted.

At his computer in Colorado, Graham Brookie, who had served on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council and was now tracking domestic extremism as part of a group called the Digital Forensic Research Lab, watched “a million misinformation flowers blooming.”

Brookie and his lead researcher, Jared Holt, took note as extremists shared small scraps about the election and prominent figures rapidly amplified them, snowballing rumors into conspiracies and then discussions of action. “You get a little piece of information. ‘They just shut down all the voting machines in X.’ ” Brookie said. “Someone adds to that. Someone adds to that. Then you have them talking about what they can do.”

On the messaging app Telegram, users identifying as Proud Boys posted a rumor that officials in Maricopa, which encompasses Phoenix, were not counting all the votes because some people had used Sharpie pens to mark their ballots. County officials had debunked the rumor, but that didn’t matter.

Holt felt his first pang of worry about where it would all lead when he was monitoring video from Maricopa on Nov. 4. He could see some protesters openly brandishing rifles and handguns.

“You had folks with very extreme views armed,” Holt said. “It wasn’t just an airing of grievances, but some went with intention to intimidate.”

Trump supporters descended on the Maricopa County Elections Department in Phoenix on Nov. 4 after rumors proliferated about problems with the vote counting. Police escorted election workers to their cars. (Photos by Caitlin O’Hara for The Washington Post)

But now the president’s supporters were threatening his colleagues in the elections office and the democratic process they were carrying out. Outside the county elections building, a man wearing a fur robe and horns — a figure who was known as the QAnon Shaman — rallied alongside Infowars’s Alex Jones, who was shouting into a megaphone: “Resistance is victory! You are victory!”

The mob was pushing toward the building and spreading out into the parking lot nearby. Hickman imagined his own mother — who had volunteered to count votes in previous elections — at the center of such a crowd and grew angry. “I have to send these little old ladies into the parking lot to get their cars next to these people?” he recalled thinking.

Election workers tabulated ballots inside the Maricopa County building as protesters gathered outside for days. (Photos by Caitlin O’Hara for The Washington Post)

Protests organized under the hashtag #StopTheSteal soon spread to Atlanta, Harrisburg and Las Vegas. The movement was being promoted on a website called stopthesteal.us, which listed all of the protests in each state. The site was run by Ali Alexander, a far-right activist who had been invited to the White House social media summit in 2019 after questioning whether then-Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) should be called a Black American.

On Nov. 7, major news organizations called the race in Pennsylvania for Biden, putting him above the 270 electoral votes needed to secure victory. As Democrats celebrated, members of the self-styled militia group the Three Percenters, as well as followers of the QAnon extremist ideology, and others converged on state capitals. In Harrisburg, hundreds of supporters of an assortment of anti-government self-proclaimed militias stood alongside Republican lawmakers on steps to the statehouse, chanting “Donald Trump won” and “hold the line.”

That day, an FBI intelligence analyst in Alabama issued a warning over email to other agents. The analyst cited threats spotted on TheDonald.win and other Internet forums by the SITE Intelligence Group, a private service that monitors online extremism and counts employees in the FBI among its subscribers. An FBI agent in Seattle received the warning and blasted it out to dozens of his contacts, including local and state law enforcement officials.

One section was particularly alarming: “Death Threats: Militia groups are espousing increasingly violent rhetoric, expressing a new level of escalation by declaring, ‘The fight is now.’ On a popular militia forum, users called to execute Biden, Democrats, tech company employees, journalists, and other ‘rats.’”

As the vote counting continued, the results were changing the calculus for Pelosi and House Democrats. Although Trump had lost, he had done better than they expected, and Republicans gained seats in the House. That allowed Republicans to keep their edge in the number of state delegations they controlled — and provided Trump a path to win a vote in the House on Jan. 6 if somehow the electoral college vote could be challenged.

Trump supporters gathered at state capitals and at election offices in battleground states including Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. (Kevin D. Liles for The Washington Post; Kevin D. Liles for The Washington Post; Salwan Georges/The Washington Post; Mikayla Whitmore for The Washington Post; Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

53 days to go

As Trump refused to concede, angry supporters and self-styled militias geared up to fight. Quickly, plans for a “Million MAGA March” in Washington on Nov. 14 galvanized figures known for their hard-edge rhetoric.

Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the anti-government Oath Keepers, who declared in September that “civil war is here, right now” because of violence rattling Portland, Ore., said he was prepared to engage in violence on Trump’s command should he invoke the Insurrection Act — a rarely used law that gives the president the power to use the military to suppress uprisings and civil disorder that the police alone cannot control.

Days before the march, Rhodes appeared at a Stop the Steal rally in Northern Virginia. Live-streaming the event on the Oath Keepers’ YouTube channel, Rhodes told the audience that Trump supporters “must declare that Joe Biden is not … anyone’s president. He’s a usurper.”

Rhodes urged all citizens to be ready to fight while Trump “is commander in chief and has a narrowing window” to act.

Extremists associated with the Three Percenters planned to join the Oath Keepers on Nov. 14. Nicholas Fuentes, leader of the white-nationalist “Groyper” movement, and who was present at the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, called on his allies to join him in Washington.

A key set of Trump’s grass-roots supporters also jumped in. Former tea party activist Amy Kremer helped rebrand the pro-Trump group Women for America First into a Stop the Steal planning engine, propelling a wider audience of Trump supporters into action.

Extremists like the Proud Boys came to Washington on Nov. 14 to show support for Trump and the Stop the Steal movement. The president’s motorcade passed near his supporters, before things turned extremely violent after dark. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post; Matt McClain/The Washington Post; Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

At Georgetown University’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, Mary McCord watched the plans for the protest with growing apprehension. A former acting assistant attorney general for national security, she had begun coordinating with Brookie’s lab. She shared what his researchers had found in Nov. 11 letters to D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) and federal prosecutors in Washington. Based on public and private social media posts, she wrote, it appeared that groups with “track records of violent activity” were heading to D.C. and were likely to be met by counterprotesters, “increasing the potential for conflict.”

Inside Capitol Police headquarters, officials beefed up numbers of available patrol officers and made plans to station civil disturbance units — which use shields, helmets and other protective crowd-control gear — along the east side of the Capitol, where protesters were expected.

One of the units was led by Capt. Carneysha MendozaCapt. Carneysha MendozaClose A 19-year veteran of the Capitol Police, Mendoza led officers battling rioters in the Rotunda of the Capitol on Jan. 6., a former soldier known for arriving at the office as early as 3 a.m. to run flights of stairs.

Mendoza, a 19-year veteran of the force, had a knack for finding herself in the middle of disaster. She had been stationed at the Pentagon on 9/11, and was the watch commander in 2017 when a gunman opened fire on members of Congress practicing in Virginia for an exhibition baseball game.

As night dragged on, the extremists and groups of counterprotesters began to scuffle — they were soon brawling in the street between the Capitol and the Supreme Court.

Mendoza and her crew repeatedly waded into the melee to separate the warring sides. Punches flew. Officers were pushed through the crowd.

Far-right extremists marched through the city, and skirmishes with counterprotesters lasted well into the night. (Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post; Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post; Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post; Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)

There and across the city, the fighting went on for hours. Near midnight, members of the Proud Boys managed to take over the newly dedicated Black Lives Matter Plaza north of the White House and unfurl a massive banner that read “Trump Law and Order.”

By the time it ended, one person was stabbed, four officers were injured, police took eight firearms off protesters, and more than 20 people had been arrested, many for inciting violence.

The fighting was so intense that Mendoza could barely move when she awoke the next morning. The next night, she texted a colleague who had been there:

He was recovering, too, but wrote he’d toasted the job they’d done keeping it from getting worse — attaching a picture of an empty tumbler beside a bottle of Scotch.

48 days to go

At the White House, Trump was growing more agitated by the day as informal advisers and outside allies fed him increasingly wild claims, including that the vote may have been manipulated from overseas and that some voting machine software had weighted Biden ballots to count more than Trump ones. Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, and attorney Sidney Powell passed along purported evidence of fraud that one senior White House official who reviewed the material called “a joke.” On Nov. 14, the same day as the protest, researchers on Trump’s own campaign circulated a 14-page memo refuting many of their theories, including the notion that the company Dominion Voting Systems had ties to Venezuela or antifa, a loosely knit group of far-left activists.

But the president was so enamored with the conspiracy theories that he asked advisers if the government could research them — particularly whether foreign countries such as China hacked the vote.

And he gave Giuliani and Powell an ample platform to promote their claims, sidelining his campaign lawyers. On Nov. 19, the duo stepped before reporters at the Republican National Committee and laid out a dizzying explanation of how the election was rigged.

Rudolph W. Giuliani advances allegations of voting irregularities. (Washington Post video; Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post)

“We cannot let this happen to us,” Giuliani said, predicting doom if the election was not overturned. “We cannot allow these crooks, because that’s what they are, to steal an election from the American people. They elected Donald Trump. They didn’t elect Joe Biden. Joe Biden is in the lead because of the fraudulent ballots.”

Watching at home in Tampa as dark hair dye dripped down the side of Giuliani’s face, Paul HodgkinsPaul HodgkinsClose The 38-year-old crane operator from Tampa traveled to Washington to show his support for Trump after absorbing false claims that the election was rigged — a decision that would drastically upend his life. suspected rightly that the scene would become fodder for late-night comedians. But his overriding impression was of two nationally recognized former federal prosecutors making very serious allegations on behalf of the president of the United States.

Hodgkins had fallen into a deep depression after the election. He felt distant from longtime friends and family members who disdained Trump, including his mother, brother and sister, and closer to friends he made on the campaign, who believed the election was stolen.

Yes, Trump could exaggerate, Hodgkins knew, but the growing number of voices agreeing with the president was convincing.

“Lawyers like Giuliani and Sidney Powell are not known to chase fairy tales,” Hodgkins recalled thinking. “I don’t think they were just making up the claims. I am pretty sure if you were going to hire them to represent you, they are not going to be cheap. These are not ambulance chasers.”

He soaked up false allegations of election fraud on Fox News and the right-wing website Daily Caller. He took notice of Stop the Steal rallies popping up around Tampa.

The new movement helped Hodgkins shake off his post-election funk. He wrote a $10 check to the Trump campaign and attended a campaign meetup.

He was ready to help the cause.

36 days to go

Though it was clear that Trump’s rejection of the election was stirring his supporters to action, senior law enforcement officials at the FBI and Justice Department were feeling boxed in.

At the Justice Department, Attorney General William P. Barr was falling out of step with the president he had long defended. Barr had spent much of the run-up to the election echoing Trump’s claims that there could be mail-ballot fraud. After Election Day, he eased the rules for federal prosecutors to launch their own election investigations, and sided with FBI agents who wanted to run down at least one of the president’s fraud claims. But none of it had turned up evidence of manipulation that could have affected the outcome.

Justice Department and FBI officials stayed quiet in the face of mounting recriminations coming from the White House and the president’s Twitter feed. Some senior law enforcement officials felt Trump’s demands would eventually abate, while others argued that, if push came to shove, Barr himself could end it with a public statement.

“We can stop this whenever we want, but we’d rather not do that. It’s not our place,” said one senior official at the time.

A second senior Justice Department official familiar with Barr’s thinking said the attorney general wasn’t optimistic about that, although he felt that as long as Trump’s lawyers were focused mostly on state-related election issues, the Justice Department could steer clear of the fray.

Barr put them off, but on Nov. 23, he privately told Trump the claims of major problems with voting machines were nonsense.

After Thanksgiving came and Trump publicly chided the attorney general on Fox News for not turning up fraud, Barr decided to speak out. On Dec. 1, he gave an interview to the Associated Press, whose stories circulate in thousands of television and newspaper markets across the country. “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” the attorney general declared.

Barr and his advisers knew the statement would infuriate Trump but hoped it would also “breathe some reality into the situation,” the second official recalled, and shift the burden of proof back to the president’s lawyers. Instead, it marked the beginning of the end of Barr’s tenure. Two weeks after the statement, he announced he would leave the job.

Soon, Ali Alexander, Amy Kremer and Trump’s other backers were promoting a second rally in D.C. for Dec. 12 — two days before members of the electoral college would meet in state capitals across the nation.

Jared Holt, at the Digital Forensic Research Lab, was picking up intensely violent imagery in the calls for Trump allies to return to D.C. On Telegram, the Philadelphia Proud Boys, a chapter that had made repeated headlines for engaging in violence, shared an image of men in helmets and black tactical gear with assault rifles. A caption in large type on the bottom half of the picture read “Shatter Their Teeth.”

A New Hampshire Proud Boys group leader calling himself “biggdaddy” promoted the event on Parler and told members not to miss making history to “support our President.”

Rhodes published a national call for Oath Keepers to travel to D.C., specifically calling on law enforcement officers to join the cause, noting they were allowed to carry concealed weapons.

“We especially need LEO and military veterans with pertinent backgrounds for security (combat arms veterans, for example), or civilian equivalents,” Rhodes wrote.

Discussions Holt could see on the social network service MeWe suggested the number of militants who would be traveling to D.C. this time was far greater than in the previous month.

“They’re meeting up with like 750 Proud Boys over there,” wrote one user on a chat group for self-described Three Percenters in Pennsylvania.

Some of the groups were already making clear they wanted to pressure lawmakers where they worked. On Nov. 18, Alexander joined Fuentes, the Groyper leader; Tarrio of the Proud Boys; and Alex Jones, the far-right conspiracy theorist of Infowars; at a rally outside the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta.

“Who’s going to be ready to storm the Capitol with us in a couple of minutes?” Alexander called out through a megaphone. “Peacefully,” Jones added. “Peacefully,” Alexander said, laughing. The crowd then filed inside, chanting “special session,” urging state legislators to convene to investigate the 2020 election.

Alexander and other protesters returned to the Georgia Capitol each day for the next three days. On Nov. 21, Trump tweeted his approval. “Big Rallies all over the Country,” he wrote. “The proof pouring in is undeniable. Many more votes than needed. This was a LANDSLIDE!”

In Georgia, the torrent of fraud claims by Trump and his allies had triggered a wave of threats against election officials. Among them was a young technician for Dominion Voting Systems working in the Atlanta suburbs, who was spotted on a video transferring routine files between computers. Online, QAnon-affiliated accounts claimed the technician was manipulating votes, targeted him with an Internet GIF of a swinging noose and called for him to be hung for treason. He briefly went into hiding.

Gabriel SterlingGabriel SterlingClose A top official in the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) who warned that Trump’s rhetoric could inspire violence. , a top official in the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had had enough.

The longtime Republican official stood before the television cameras at a Dec. 1 news conference at the state Capitol, his voice shaking with anger: “It. Has. All. Gone. Too. Far.”

“Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia,” Sterling continued, and then added: “Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone is going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone is going to get killed.”

Days later, Alexander, the Stop the Steal activist, raised the stakes in a tweet: “I am willing to give my life for this fight,” he wrote. The post was retweeted by the Arizona GOP — which asked its followers whether they, too, were willing to die.

Several hundred Proud Boys were among the thousands of Trump supporters to descend on Washington on Dec. 12. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post; Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post; Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)

25 days to go

On Dec. 12, just as they had a month earlier, thousands of pro-Trump supporters and protesters converged on D.C., including what police estimated were — as advertised in advance by extremists — about 700 Proud Boys.

“This isn’t over, this is just beginning,” Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson told the crowd.

“We have to count the votes that day,” she said to herself. Cheney soon began a shadow effort to block Trump. She recruited 10 former secretaries of defense, from Republican and Democratic administrations, to sign an op-ed published in The Post that warned military officials to steer clear of any effort to use soldiers to thwart the peaceful transfer of power. And she began working on what would become a 21-page memo detailing why Congress had no constitutional right to block Biden’s victory.

At the rally, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was urging the president to declare martial law and redo the election, urged the crowd to keep fighting. “There are still avenues” for a Trump win, he said ominously. “The courts aren’t going to decide who the next president of the United States is going to be. We the people decide.”

Alexander told those assembled that if the electoral college endorsed Biden’s victory, his Stop the Steal organization would turn its attention to pressuring Republicans to object to the certification on Jan. 6.

As Trump left town for the Army-Navy game on Dec. 12, Marine One flew over his supporters. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post; Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post; Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post; Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

Trump flew over the crowd in a helicopter and cheered on his supporters.

With nightfall came chaos.

Tarrio, the Proud Boys leader, paraded a Black Lives Matter banner that someone had ripped from the side of Asbury United Methodist Church, a historic Black church in downtown Washington, and he and others set it on fire.

Protesters in helmets and bulletproof vests marched through downtown in militaristic rows, shouting “Move out!” and “1776!” They rushed down side streets and alleys, trying to reach counterprotesters. Hundreds of police in riot gear moved with them, trying to keep the militants away from their apparent targets.

Eventually, the two sides brawled. At least four people were stabbed, including members of the Proud Boys. Eight people, including two police officers, ended up in D.C. hospitals. Six protesters were charged with assaulting officers, and dozens more were arrested, including four charged with rioting and one for carrying an illegal Taser.

Trump returned to the White House in Marine One the night of the clashes. (Craig Hudson for The Washington Post; Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post; Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post; Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post; Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

The day after the Dec. 12 melee, D.C. police officials gathered and began reviewing the violence. Along with the vandalism of the church, officers reported several Proud Boys had worn earpieces and seemed to be communicating with one another to identify targets.

Within the FBI, many would draw the wrong lesson from that night — that the principal danger posed by Proud Boys or other extremist groups was street clashes. It would prove to be a grave miscalculation.

“Jan. 6 will be the MPD’s problem,” one federal law enforcement official said in December, referring to the D.C. police and echoing an oft-repeated and widely held belief within the FBI at the time.

As it turned out, much of the planning for Jan. 6 was preparation for the wrong kind of violence, in the wrong place.

Counterterrorism had been the FBI’s primary mission since 9/11, and out of the ashes of that intelligence failure, the bureau had rebuilt itself with the central goal of getting “left of bang,” the term investigators used for disrupting terrorism plots before they unleash violence. For more than a decade, though, when the FBI talked about terrorism, it primarily meant violence inspired by foreign groups.

A generation of senior FBI executives rose through the ranks of the International Terrorism Operating Center, located in a sprawling modern complex of buildings called Liberty Crossing in Northern Virginia. Domestic terrorism, by contrast, was a far smaller operation, focused around cramped, old office space in downtown Washington.

It wasn’t just that the international terrorism agents got more money and personnel, both in Washington and in the FBI’s 56 field offices around the country. The FBI also required agents to clear higher hurdles just to open an investigation.

Domestic terrorism cases are the only type of terrorism cases that require explicit authorization — and regular reauthorization — from the senior lawyer in an FBI field office to proceed. The rule is designed to keep a tight rein on agents who might cross legal lines and investigate constitutionally protected speech. Federal agents also had fewer legal options with which to charge domestic terrorism suspects than a person inspired by the Islamic State or al-Qaeda. For example, the charge of material support for a foreign terrorist has no legal equivalent for someone eager to commit violence for domestic extremists. As a result, domestic terrorism investigators often settle for filing gun or drug charges, and often in state, not federal court, which can mask the severity of extremist violence.

From 2016 to 2019, the annual number of domestic terrorist suspects arrested fell from 229 to 107, before jumping up to 180 in 2020. Wray has said that in the past 19 months, he has more than tripled the number of agents and analysts working on domestic terrorism cases, in order to handle the growing caseload.

In the week after the Dec. 12 protest, the FBI tweeted that it was partnering with local police, adding $1,000 to the reward D.C. had offered for information about suspects from that night. Outwardly, the FBI did little else — even as the bureau received a tip Dec. 17 that protesters were encouraging shooting at police at the joint session.

19 days to go

By mid-December, the electoral college had met and formalized Biden’s victory. Trump had just one more move: disrupting Congress’s count of the votes on Jan. 6.

“Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election,” the president tweeted on Dec. 19, sending out the pivotal message that set the congressional certification as the final showdown: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

The exhortation, more than almost any other words or action by Trump after the election, seemed to electrify his most devoted followers in chat groups and websites like TheDonald.win. Some took it as an order.

Among the messages the informant flagged from a MeWe chat group for members of the self-styled militia:

On that same day, Dec. 20, the FBI received a call alerting them to Trump supporters making plans online to bring arms to Washington and arrest lawmakers. The Sunday afternoon call was handled by the bureau’s National Threat Operations Center, a clearinghouse for tips about crimes, according to a document titled “Threats to Take Guns and Overrun the DC Police January 4th-January 20th.” The file was updated the following afternoon by an FBI employee seeking to reclassify the information: “More DT [domestic terrorism] than Criminal in nature… Criminal has received a significant number of Guardians as a results of threats to Congress and other government officials.”

The caller, according to the FBI document, said people were “planning on meeting in certain areas and sneaking guns into DC in an attempt to overrun the DC police, beginning January 4th-20th.” On three different sites, “there is discussion about recruitment, where to meet at, bringing guns, and arresting Senators and members of Congress to hold trials outside in public areas.”

Logistics — down to shopping malls in Scranton, Pa.; Louisville; and Columbia, S.C.; where people would meet to travel to D.C. — were being plotted on Discord, one of those websites. Posters were inserting iterations of the word “peaceful” to prevent their comments from being deleted by moderators, the caller said, citing the example, “Mitt Romney peacefully gets it first.” The tipster provided the screen name of one person who was encouraging others to violence.

Later that same night, the FBI received a similar call, which was written up with the title: “Additional Information on Washington, D.C. Protest Jan 6 2020.” In that tip, the caller told the FBI that the website TheDonald.win “is calling for violence on 01/06/2021 regarding the election results.”

Of the combined tips, an FBI official wrote: “None of these sites have specifics on what they’re going to do once they overturn the DC police. These sites are wanting to do this ‘because it will stop the steal.’ ”

By Tuesday morning, Dec. 22 – less than 48 hours after the first call was recorded in the FBI’s system — the threat assessment was closed, marked at the top: “Does not warrant further investigation at this time.”

An FBI official said that before closing the issue, the bureau first checked its databases and took “other follow up action,” including sharing the information with local police, Capitol Police and federal agencies. Most of the tips they received contained “vague and primarily First Amendment-protected speech,” the official said. The bureau documents show the pro-Trump site TheDonald.win appeared many times in the Bureau’s tip and investigative files: the FBI’s Guardian system had 190 results for the site, and a separate FBI database for tracking investigations, called Sentinel, had 128 results for the site.

Romney’s office could not locate a record that it had been alerted about the tip. An FBI official noted that the tip was shared with the Capitol Police.

McCord, top, and Brookie warned of a shift in tone in the extremist chat groups they monitored. (Photos by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

On extremist chat groups, Brookie, Holt and McCord saw a new tone of desperation take hold. Trump supporters were going further than before — talking about being citizen soldiers who might have to die for their cause.

Holt focused on the explicit talk of violence, writing in his report that Oath Keepers were “ramping up” pressure on their peers to join them in settling the election by force, “preferably with guns.”

“Nothing is going to happen unless we MAKE it happen,” began an exchange he highlighted in the report, which was passed along to the FBI.

“How much more of this s— do you need to see … There is only one way. It’s not signs. It’s not rallies. It’s f—ing bullets!,” read the post from a person identifying as an Oath Keeper.

Holt and Brookie soon spotted a shift from threats to planning.

Members of self-styled militias from all over the country were sharing plans for protester convoys to Washington. A map was being circulated on MeWe showing three rally points — code-named Cowboy, Minuteman and Rebel — for the “MAGA Cavalry” that would ride on Jan. 5. Proud Boys and others shared the meetup spots up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

At the White House, Pence began telling advisers that he knew he was in the crosshairs — Trump would expect him to act.

Soon the vice president and his team were being lobbied by a clutch of pro-Trump lawyers including John Eastman, a conservative attorney who had written an op-ed questioning Harris’s U.S. citizenship and whether she was eligible to run for vice president.

Behind the scenes, the White House chief of staff was also spurring on a looming confrontation between Trump and his vice president.

Still, many White House and campaign aides did not view Jan. 6 as a critical day and were not worried about violence. The goal of Trump’s tweet in which he said Jan. 6 would “be wild,” they believed, was simply to attract a big crowd to give the television cameras a counternarrative to the coverage of the Capitol that day.

One senior administration official said he only realized how much Trump’s focus on Jan. 6 was activating his supporters when his mother, who lives in a Southern state, told him in late December that her friends were coming by bus. “A lot of people from the church are going to D.C. on January 6 — are you going to be there?” she asked him.

16 days to go

For gun-carrying agents at the FBI and elsewhere, the nation’s network of fusion centers set up in response to 9/11 had long been viewed as producing uneven work. Some even disparagingly referred to them as “confusion centers.” Their mission was to keep tabs on open-source information and to make sure tips didn’t get lost between agencies. Yet early on, some social media posts that centers had flagged sent police on wild goose chases. “These guys often couldn’t find their lanes,” said one senior federal law enforcement official who was on the Dec. 22 call with the FBI and others.

The dynamic was particularly fraught in D.C. The National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium, or NTIC, as the fusion center is known, is supposed to share intelligence from all law enforcement entities in the region. But D.C. is home to the FBI and the country’s other preeminent law enforcement and intelligence agencies, turning the pecking order upside down.

The FBI put more stock in the analysis of its own agents. Plus, D.C.’s fusion center is one of only a handful in the country housed in a civilian agency and not a police department, making law enforcement reluctant at times to distribute sensitive intel about ongoing investigations.

Still, D.C. officials relied on it for intelligence, and Harvin assigned an analyst to each new permitted protest that might turn violent and tasked them with gaming out whether the city would be able to handle it.

The Jan. 6 assignment went to the office’s most junior analyst, who quickly became spooked about what he saw. Almost daily, he brought Harvin disturbing new posts found online.

Prominent members of the Proud Boys — the group that Trump had told months earlier to “stand back and stand by” and that had been at the center of violence at the previous two Trump rallies — was soliciting money online for communications equipment and protective gear.

Anti-government extremists known as “boogaloo boys,” some of whom with militia ties had been implicated two months earlier in a plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan, were discussing rendezvous points to stash weapons and stage rapid reserve forces to platoon into D.C. with avowed neo-Nazis — two elements in the far right that the analyst hadn’t commonly seen align.

By the time Harvin called a major planning meeting on Dec. 30, the young analyst was ready to present a worst-case scenario: Someone could plant an improvised explosive device near the Capitol, he said. With law enforcement distracted, extremists might then band together and attack government buildings, maybe even the Capitol.

Even as the meeting went on, Trump returned to Twitter and further egged on his supporters:

As a paramedic in the New York Fire Department, Harvin had responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11 and prided himself as someone who had learned to keep his cool. But now he was anything but. “This feeling came over that I was out of my depth, that I was in over my head,” he said. “I was kind of freaking out.”

Harvin called his boss, Christopher Rodriguez, director of the city’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. The city might not be ready for the “unholy alliance” of extremist groups and masses of Trump supporters about to descend on the city, he said.

Rodriguez, who had served as a counterterrorism analyst at the CIA for more than 10 years, wanted a full briefing. They brought in the analyst, went through the data and Rodriguez agreed. The chatter about bringing guns to D.C., in particular, was off the charts. He consulted with then-acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III, and the two briefed Bowser.

Bowser and her aides were worried about a repeat of the federal response to Black Lives Matter protests, when the Justice Department sent prison riot teams, U.S. marshals and others onto D.C. streets without name tags or badges identifying them as federal agents. The mayor would end up sending a letter to federal officials discouraging a repeat of such deployment on Jan. 6 unless federal agents would declare their presence to D.C. police.

She was also reluctant to request the National Guard, concerned that the troops could be given orders by the president and abandon their posts. But Bowser decided the city needed the manpower to free all available police officers to focus on the potentially armed protesters. On Dec. 31, the city submitted a narrow request to the Pentagon for troops to assist with mostly traffic control.

For their part, Pentagon leaders were not looking for a role in Jan. 6 security.

Miller, who had been appointed acting defense secretary by Trump after the election, did not believe Trump would misuse the military, but shared the worry that a conflict could erupt between the forces and those in the crowd, instigated by the Proud Boys and other far-right groups. “I thought the demonstrators were going to try to bait us into a Boston Massacre-type situation,” he said.

The three also agreed there was another problem: optics. Given Trump’s rhetoric, his critics could view the deployment of soldiers within range of the Capitol as intimidating on the day that lawmakers were affirming the results of the election.

“I was very cognizant of the potential that this could be misconstrued by so many people as a power grab and play into the narrative that the military was on the cusp of overthrowing duly elected officials to redo an election,” Miller said.

In a Jan. 2 phone call, the three ended up deciding that the D.C. mayor’s proposal — to send Guard members elsewhere in the city to run traffic control — was “a sweet spot,” Miller said. It would allow the Pentagon to say it was helping, but keep troops out of the way of protesters as they took aim at the Capitol.

McCarthy and Milley discussed the particulars. A letter would need to be sent, laying out clear guardrails for the 340 troops who would be deployed. And it should come with one special restriction, they decided: a requirement that any change to the soldiers’ orders come all the way back to the acting secretary of defense for explicit approval. McCarthy said he could sign the letter. Miller said, no, he would do it. Milley welcomed Miller’s direct engagement, telling others he thought it would slow the ability of Trump to redirect troops into the political fray, and put one of the president’s own on the line should Trump flex his power as commander in chief.

McCarthy followed Miller’s letter with his own, further putting the Guard in defensive mode. They would have no weapons, and in a verbal order, he added that Guard troops were to stay west of Ninth Street, essentially no closer than a mile to the Capitol. And in another unusual restriction, soldiers would carpool in vans to their traffic-control duties, leaving Humvees and other military vehicles at the armory.

7 days to go

On the last weekend of 2020, the FBI lost access to Dataminr, a third-party service that can alert agents and analysts to important social media posts about breaking news, as well as when, where and how often key words and phrases appear in online posts.

The shutdown had been months in the making. The bureau advertised in early 2020 that it wanted to sign a new contract for “social media alerting,” describing the service as “mission-critical.”

But the end-of-the-year changeover limited the FBI’s understanding of what was happening online at a key juncture, just as extremists were mobilizing. FBI agents started using an alternative service known as ZeroFox that was unfamiliar to many in the bureau. The change came as a surprise, causing confusion about how to use the new system.

“It wasn’t that we were blind, it just turned out to be a bad time to have less visibility into what was happening online, because we were changing systems and a lot of people didn’t really know the new system,” said one person familiar with the matter.

On New Year’s Eve, Harvin’s team set up a call with analysts at the Capitol Police. The growing intensity of online threats reminded John K. “Jack” Donohue, the new director of intelligence for the police department, of a foreign terrorism operation. As a young New York Police Department officer, Donohue had been an intelligence analyst and had trained in the methods of the Islamic State and related foreign terrorist groups after 9/11. He understood how isolated followers could be activated online, drawn to a violent cause that gave them purpose.

Donohue was especially worried by the volume of well-known white-supremacist groups whose members said they planned to come, as well as a sense among them that they had the approval of, if not a direct order from, the president of the United States.

All the while, Trump was keeping the pressure up, seeking a soft spot in the system.

In tweets, interviews and statements, he harangued the FBI, governors, state lawmakers and even local election officials. “The 2020 election was rigged. It was a scam and the whole world is watching and they’re laughing at our country. They’re laughing at us,” Trump said when he called into a hearing of Republicans in Arizona to discuss purported fraud.

Behind the scenes, the president zeroed in on three maneuvers in his attempt to overturn the election. He pressed Justice Department officials to assert there were irregularities in the vote. He goaded state officials to reopen the counts. And as a last resort, he kept lobbying his vice president to simply cast the results aside on Jan. 6.

The president’s supporters were following his lead, bombarding Republican officials in states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona to take action. “It’s pretty apparent you don’t know everything that is going on,” Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R) reassured one constituent in a Dec. 29 email, adding that the Senate had gone to court to enforce a subpoena on Maricopa County, in part to inspect its voting machines.

Clint HickmanClint HickmanClose As chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in 2020, the longtime Republican resisted Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results. , the Republican chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, was enjoying a New Year’s Eve dinner in Phoenix with his wife and some friends when his phone rang at about 8 p.m. It was a Washington number.

He let the call go to voice mail, then, curious, ducked out of the loud restaurant to check the message. It was from a man who said he was an operator at the White House switchboard, calling to inform Hickman that the president wanted to speak to him.

Hickman didn’t know what to think — he’d been receiving a lot of prank calls since he and the other board members voted to certify Biden’s win amid a flood of vitriol and protests. If it really was the White House, he wasn’t eager to speak to Trump. He returned to the table and announced incredulously to the group, “Well, that was the president.”

Three nights later, Hickman’s phone rang again. The Washington Post had just published a recording of a phone call that weekend between Trump and another Republican election official, Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state. On the call, Trump urged Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat.

Hickman again did not respond: “My mom always warned me nothing good happens after midnight.”

6 days to go

In Florida, Paul HodgkinsPaul HodgkinsClose The 38-year-old crane operator from Tampa traveled to Washington to show his support for Trump after absorbing false claims that the election was rigged — a decision that would drastically upend his life. had made the decision to go to Washington. He found a pro-Trump women’s group offering a package deal for about $300, which included a bus ride from Sarasota, Fla., to D.C. and two nights at the Westin Crystal City Reagan National Airport hotel.

Hodgkins put his blue Trump tights on for a New Year’s Eve party.

“As it got closer to Jan. 6, the people I talked to said it was important,” Hodgkins said. “That it was going to be a historical event, maybe the biggest political turnout ever in Washington.”

Ronald “Ronnie” Sandlin, a 34-year-old living with his parents in Memphis, was equally motivated. Sandlin had never been very political, but he was making plans to drive to D.C. and was calling for others to join him. In a post on Facebook, Sandlin vowed “to do my part to stop the steal and stand behind Trump when he decides to cross the rubicon.”

Theirs was one of numerous plans that coalesced in mostly public view. On Facebook, Sandlin posted what appeared to be an image of him holding a semiautomatic rifle and asking for financial help to pay for the trip. “Every penny is a boot in the a– against tyranny.”

On the same day, DeGrave asked for help learning how to shoot a gun. Who “can shoot and has excellent aim and can teach me today or tomorrow,” DeGrave wrote on Facebook. “I want somebody special forces or ex fbi to teach me … this is for a very patriotic cause.”

On Dec. 22, Parler had sent the FBI three screenshots from a user who threatened to kill politicians. On Jan. 2, the company passed along more, including a series of posts by a user making threats about Jan. 6. “This is the final stand where we are drawing the red line at Capitol Hill. I trust the American people will take back the USA with force and many are ready to die,” the user wrote, adding: “don’t be surprised if we take the #capital building.”

By early January, larger social media companies in Silicon Valley were also flagging scores of posts daily to the fusion center in Northern California. For companies to reach the threshold to report its users to law enforcement, such posts typically imply violence or the use of a weapon. Sena, the fusion center director, told the companies his office couldn’t keep up with the surge and asked them to start sending the concerning posts directly to the FBI’s analysis center in West Virginia.

On Jan. 1, an amateur historian of architecture in Washington who maintains a website on tunnels, including those under the Capitol, filed a report on the FBI’s website about an unusual spike in hits to his site from outside the D.C. area, including from the domains TheDonald.win, AR15.com and MyMilitia.com. He traced some of the traffic back to posts about Jan. 6.

In another batch of messages to the FBI, a bureau informant in the Midwest characterized the talk among members of self-proclaimed militias as heavy on planning to travel to D.C., and said the tone had become significantly more “anti-law enforcement.”

In defending their decisions, FBI officials said the bureau makes a key distinction between “aspirational” speech about violence and what they called “a specific intent to commit violence.” Aspirational talk is protected by the First Amendment, said a senior FBI official.

“Broad claims and online chatter often lack specificity or detail about concrete plans and participants and, therefore, are not susceptible to disruption,” said an FBI official.

Lawmakers gather on the opening day of the 117th Congress, when Nancy Pelosi was reelected House speaker, Steny H. Hoyer was elected majority leader, and Kevin McCarthy was elected minority leader. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post; Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post; Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post; Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post; Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

3 days to go

Miller, the acting defense secretary, couldn’t believe the Justice Department wasn’t more concerned.

Clark had drafted a letter to officials in Georgia, falsely declaring that the Justice Department had “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states” and recommending state legislatures convene in special session to consider appointing new presidential electors.

In the hours that followed, Rosen and the upper tier of the Justice Department would vow to resign should the president push forward with installing Clark.

“Jeff Clark will be leading a graveyard,” Justice official Steve Engel told the president in the Oval Office. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone warned Trump that Clark’s letter was “a murder-suicide pact” that would “damage anyone and anything that it touches.” Cipollone said he, too, would resign.

Still, Clark encouraged Trump. “Mr. President, we can do this,” he told Trump. “We can get it done. History is calling.”

After a three-hour standoff, Trump dropped the idea as unworkable, leaving only one person left who could help him set aside the election and retain the White House: Pence.

Unaware of the high-stakes moment playing out at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, officials at the Capitol were reaching their own fire-alarm moment.

Donohue and Farnam, of the Capitol Police, were sweating the final intelligence assessment for Jan. 6.

For weeks, their analysts had catalogued comments on TheDonald.win and other sites in which Trump supporters had discussed confronting members of Congress and police.

It had been a day after that when the FBI told Capitol Police it wasn’t investigating similar threats about overrunning police and arresting lawmakers.

Since then, Capitol Police had been following the lead of the bureau, which did not aggressively pursue many such posts out of First Amendment concerns. But the flow of troubling warnings now felt like a deluge. Since New Year’s Eve, there had been the debrief from Harvin, online chatter flagged by Donohue’s former intel contacts at the NYPD, and something else: The leaders of the two congressional chambers, Pelosi and McConnell, had had their homes vandalized with messages about a stimulus payment that Congress failed to approve, drawing heckles from Trump.

LEFT: RIGHT: Trump supporters who gathered in front of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s vandalized home protest the then-majority leader’s decision to block the most recent stimulus bill. (Photos by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Police found a pig’s head, smeared with fake blood, on Pelosi’s driveway in San Francisco, along with the message “Cancel rent, we want everything” scrawled on the garage door. In Kentucky, officers discovered someone had spray-painted McConnell’s home with the phrases “WERES MY MONEY” and “MITCH KILLS POOR.”

It seemed a menacing signal: Angry people knew where the two leaders lived and were willing to break the law to get their message across. The number of officers assigned to each leader was increased, and the details were issued semiautomatic weapons.

Donohue and Farnam made a grim prediction in their final internal report: Jan. 6 would be far more dangerous to the Capitol and its occupants than the pro-Trump rallies in November and December.

He met resistance from his superiors, the sergeants-at-arms for the House and the Senate — both former Secret Service agents who reported to Pelosi and McConnell. Paul Irving, of the House side, said the optics of bringing in the Guard probably wouldn’t be welcomed by leadership. Mike Stenger, on the Senate side, suggested Sund ask the D.C. National Guard to informally “lean forward” instead, so it could be ready to be summoned in case of an emergency.

Sund agreed not to press for a deployment — unaware of the new threat assessment being prepared by his own intelligence unit that very day.

A platform is under construction at the Capitol ahead of the inauguration. A protester waves a Stop the Steal flag outside the Capitol on Jan. 3. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post; Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

2 days to go

On Jan. 4, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, reached out to the FBI. He was alarmed after hearing reports from his staff of widespread online chatter of violence surrounding the Jan. 6 ceremony. He wanted to make sure the bureau was seeing the threat, and to learn what it was doing to counter the danger.

That day, the National Park Service allowed the number of people expected under a permit filed for the rally at the Ellipse to balloon from 5,000 to 30,000.

On Twitter, Trump kept hyping the event.

There was so much material now bubbling up about Jan. 6 that bureau analysts running the FBI’s online portal where social media companies were reporting suspected criminal behavior had begun using a hashtag to track and organize incoming threats: #CERTUNREST2021.

In short, Sena wrote in an email to all 80 fusion centers, “a significant number of individuals plan to or are advocating for others to travel to Washington, DC to engage in civil unrest and violence.”

It was part of a pattern of miscommunication, poor planning and sloppiness inside the department that left Capitol Police completely ill-equipped for what was to come.

Over at the Pentagon, officials remained worried about the level of preparedness.

“Why are we granting permits to groups that have already indicated their intent to commit violence?” he asked. “Is there a process for going back and revoking these permits?” Some on the call cited free-speech concerns and the challenge of revoking permits for properly registered protests.

Eastman’s allies, including Giuliani and former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon, were huddled blocks away in a makeshift war room at the Willard Hotel, conferring about how to put the plan into motion.

On the afternoon of Jan. 4, the vice president quizzed the professor on his plan to disrupt the electoral college count. Eastman said that it was an “open question” whether Pence had the ability to unilaterally decide which votes to count.

“You heard him say that, right?” Pence said to the president. Trump did not seem to be paying attention.

The vice president said the law seemed to leave him no choice but to preside over the formalization of Biden’s victory. But, Pence assured the president, he was still willing to read any materials on the topic that Trump wanted him to see.

38 hours to go

On Jan. 5, Hodgkins got off work in Tampa around 12:30 a.m. He’d slept only a couple of hours when he got up, collected his bag and a red Trump flag on a pole, and left for the bus terminal in Sarasota.

The flag wouldn’t fit in his bag, so he carried it in the car and, when he got to the bus, stowed it in the luggage compartment underneath. The mood inside among the mostly older, unmasked women was festive. Hodgkins was the youngest person and one of the few men. He had brought trail mix and beef jerky, and bought his favorite grilled chicken nuggets and a Blizzard milkshake at a Dairy Queen later that day.

His spirits were tempered by a text from his mother, accusing him of being blind to reality.

Also traveling north were DeGrave and Sandlin, and along the way, they were making good on a pledge made on Facebook to financial supporters to document their journey. They posted pictures and videos, including an eight-second clip of the two coughing when a can of bear spray accidentally discharged in DeGrave’s pocket.

“Nate’s bear mace was going off in his pocket and it started filling the van (with) bear spray,” Colt wrote in a caption posted with the picture. In another video, the two and others are heard debating carrying guns the next day. “For the camera’s sake,” DeGrave said, “we’re not going to carry.”

Late in the afternoon, in Des Moines, Douglas Jensen prepared to go, too.

As Trump’s supporters converged on Washington, his allies anticipated the unrest that would follow. “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” Bannon told listeners of his podcast on Jan. 5.

Trump supporters gather at D.C.’s Freedom Plaza a day before the riot. (Photos by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Across the city, officials charged with the nation’s security had wildly different expectations about what the next day would bring.

The lead attorney on the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee, which had convened several hearings on domestic extremism over the previous two years, told his committee staff to stay home. He packed snacks and clothes, unsure of whether it would be safe to leave the building the next night.

Miller also packed a gym bag with an extra set of clothes to bring to the Pentagon, on the off chance the situation spiraled out of control.

At Justice, Rosen told much of his staff they could work from home, reflecting a general sense of unease about possible traffic disruptions and disorder, but no serious concern that democracy itself could be at risk.

All day, a crowd kept growing blocks from the White House, where Trump surrogates took turns at a microphone declaring the election results were about to be overturned.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell urged Trump supporters to pray for Pence to “make the right decision for our country.” On Jan. 6, the country would experience a “miracle” and “great cleansing of evil,” Lindell said to applause.

In the crowd, a man thrust a sign in the air that read “Trump Won! Complete the American Revolution.” A woman waved a huge red flag with the numbers “1776 2.0.” As Lindell spoke, D.C. police surrounded a converted school bus that drove past a police line a couple blocks away. After searching the bus and finding firearms, officers cuffed the three occupants. Trump supporters walking nearby booed.

That evening, the multibillion-dollar security apparatus built in the wake of 9/11 to protect the country’s most critical functions produced a single, stark, final warning of the looming danger — much of it echoing the report the FBI received more than two weeks earlier. An intelligence analyst at the FBI office in Norfolk filed a situational information report describing alarming calls for violence circulating on TheDonald.win — it included more talk of the “MAGA Cavalry” and people heading for D.C.

The FBI analyst’s report cited one post that declared: “Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their … slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”

The report noted people had shared maps of tunnels underneath Congress, and planned rendezvous spots in the eastern part of the United States to travel together to Washington.

The memo — like the others before it — was jarringly prescient. But it also betrayed the FBI’s long-running institutional unease with investigating domestic extremism. The document cautioned that the people who had made the threatening posts “have been identified as participating in activities that are protected by the First Amendment. … Their inclusion here is not intended to associate the protected activity with criminality or a threat to national security.”

The intelligence analyst emailed the document to Washington’s FBI field office at 6:52 p.m., and that office forwarded it to other local law enforcement agencies at 7:37 p.m. Before 8 p.m., a Capitol Police officer embedded with the FBI also emailed it to her superiors at the department’s intelligence operations section.

While the memo was shared widely at low levels of various agencies, it was not flagged to the leadership of law enforcement agencies.

Outside the FBI, the bureau’s handling of the report sent the message that it was not particularly concerned.

Protests continued into the night on Jan. 5. (Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post; Samuel Corum/Getty Images; Jorge Ribas and Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post; Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

18 hours to go

Inside the Oval Office on the evening of Jan. 5, the Colonnade door swung open, filling the room with the frigid night air, but also the sound of the president’s supporters, gathered a couple blocks away.

Earlier that day, Trump had again pressed Pence to forestall Biden’s confirmation: Just delay the vote to certify the election; send it back to the states, the president urged. The vice president felt he’d been clear: he would not do so. He told Trump he would talk to him again in the morning.

Still, the president did not seem deflated after Pence’s departure.

“Stop, can you hear it?” Trump asked when Judd Deere, a press aide, came in. “This is just incredible music,” he said. The president encouraged Deere to round up his team to come listen, and before long, there was a small crowd, all watching Trump gleefully listen along to the ’70s and ’80s rock and pop songs common to his campaign events.

Scavino, perched in a chair by the crackling fireplace, read it back:

Trump was getting warmed up. He and Scavino workshopped a second tweet:

The crowd outside suddenly roared loudly. “They’re fired up. They’re fired up,” Trump said. The president looked at Scavino: He didn’t want violence the next day, he said.

Several in the room took Trump’s comment to mean he didn’t want counterprotesters brawling with his supporters as the two sides had in November and December, sending Trump into a rage at the time against D.C. police for what he claimed was soft handling of protesters.

Soon a third tweet finished his thought:

For nine weeks, the coda to Trump’s presidency had blared like a siren song. His false claims of election fraud had lured followers to act on their worst instincts. A wave of them had come to Washington, and more were on the way.

Trump turned to an aide and asked what he thought the crowd wanted to hear at the next day’s rally. The aide suggested Trump should highlight all of his accomplishments. “I mean, you’ve had an incredible four years,” he said.

“No, no,” Trump interrupted. “These people are upset. They’re angry.”

He issued a final message on Twitter:

Jackie Alemany, Emma Brown, Alice Crites, Tom Jackman, Tom Hamburger, Peter Hermann, Spencer S. Hsu, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Julie Tate, Elise Viebeck and Cleve Wootson contributed to this report.

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UK eases travel, takes all countries off virus ‘red list’

LONDON (AP) — Britain on Thursday said it was removing the last seven countries on its travel “red list,” meaning travelers vaccinated against the coronavirus will no longer have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel after arriving in the U.K.

The countries are Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. Once the change takes effect at 4 a.m. (0400GMT) on Monday, fully vaccinated travelers will no longer have to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of more than 2,000 pounds ($3,000).

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the red category would remain “as a precautionary measure” in case it was needed later.

He said Britain will also recognize vaccinations given in more than 30 additional countries, including Peru and Uganda, bringing the total to more than 135.

At one time there were dozens of countries on the red list, with other nations classed as amber, for medium risk, or green for low risk. Britain scrapped the amber and green categories on Oct. 4 and removed most countries from the red list three weeks ago.

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said the latest move was “a welcome and a significant step forward to normalizing international travel.”

The U.K. government only makes health policy for England, but Scotland and Wales said they would mirror the changes. The Welsh government expressed concern, however, that the change increased the chances of a new, more severe or vaccine-resistant strain of the coronavirus reaching the U.K.

Britain has had one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, with more than 140,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.


Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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UK eases travel, takes all countries off virus ‘red list’ | News

LONDON (AP) — Britain on Thursday said it was removing the last seven countries on its travel “red list,” meaning travelers vaccinated against the coronavirus will no longer have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel after arriving in the U.K.

The countries are Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. Once the change takes effect at 4 a.m. (0400GMT) on Monday, fully vaccinated travelers will no longer have to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of more than 2,000 pounds ($3,000).

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the red category would remain “as a precautionary measure” in case it was needed later.

He said Britain will also recognize vaccinations given in more than 30 additional countries, including Peru and Uganda, bringing the total to more than 135.

At one time there were dozens of countries on the red list, with other nations classed as amber, for medium risk, or green for low risk. Britain scrapped the amber and green categories on Oct. 4 and removed most countries from the red list three weeks ago.

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said the latest move was “a welcome and a significant step forward to normalizing international travel.”

The U.K. government only makes health policy for England, but Scotland and Wales said they would mirror the changes. The Welsh government expressed concern, however, that the change increased the chances of a new, more severe or vaccine-resistant strain of the coronavirus reaching the U.K.

Britain has had one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, with more than 140,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Travel UK update live: Red list likely to be scrapped today

The government is expected to announce further changes to the UK’s red list today, with the seven-strong list of countries expected to be heavily reduced or scrapped altogether.

Leaks from government indicate the nations will be removed from the red list, ahead of both the Cop26 climate summit and World Travel Market, the UK’s prime travel industry event.

The red list would continue to exist in case new variants appear, but changes could also be announced that would allow travellers from any new red list nations to self-isolate at home rather than a quarantine hotel.

Such a move would align the UK with many other European countries and ease the barriers to travel – but people in quarantine hotels will be expected to complete their 11-night stays.

Three weeks ago ministers cut the number of nations on the red list from 54 to just seven.

In other news, airline bosses have slammed the government’s decision to raise APD (Air Passenger Duty) on long-haul flights in yesterday’s Budget, with Iata director general Willie Walsh calling it a “cash grab masquerading as a green tax the week before COP26”.

Follow the latest travel news below:


Chancellor defends cut in flights tax

Rishi Sunak has defended the cut in Air Passenger Duty (APD) that will incentivise flying on UK domestic flights.

In the Budget, the chancellor announced that APD on domestic flights will halve from £13 to £6.50 from 2023.

Speaking on BBC Today, Mr Sunak said the tax cut would be “largely offset” by the introduction of a new ultra-long-haul APD band – even though the government’s own figures show that the overall tax take will decline by £35m in the first full year.

Simon Calder28 October 2021 08:38


Airline boss fury as APD hike announced for long-haul

The aviation industry has reacted strongly to yesterday’s news that Air Passenger Duty (APD) will rise for long-haul flights.

The increase of to £91 for an economy class flight above 5,500 miles will affect trips to key Asian and Latin American cities, including Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Santiago.

The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) described the move to increase tax on flights over 5,500 miles as a “Halloween horror for long-haul travellers”. The organisation called the move “political posturing that undermines the industry’s net-zero commitments”.

Meanwhile, Iata director general Willie Walsh calling it a “cash grab masquerading as a green tax the week before COP26”.

Simon Calder28 October 2021 08:23


Could the red list be scrapped today?

Leaks from government indicate that all seven remaining nations could be removed from the red list later today, ahead of both the Cop26 climate summit and World Travel Market, the UK’s prime travel industry event.

Reports suggest the red list will continue to exist in case new variants appear, but changes could also be announced that would allow travellers from any new red list nations to self-isolate at home rather than a quarantine hotel.

Such a move would align the UK with many other European countries and ease the barriers to travel – but people already in quarantine hotels would be expected to complete their 11-night stays.

However, some industry figures have suggested the “popular” red list will remain.

Simon Calder28 October 2021 07:55


Good morning

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s travel live blog, where we’ll be sharing all the latest updates.

Lucy Thackray28 October 2021 07:49

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First hotel brands unveiled for Red Sea Development | News

The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) has announced the signing of nine hotel management agreements with international hotel brands to operate resorts in the first phase of the project.

The agreements were unveiled at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) 2021.

The collection of hospitality brands is set to operate nine of the 16 properties currently under development in the first phase.

Collectively the brands confirmed total will control more than 1,700 hotel keys from the total of 3,000 planned for phase one.

These include Edition Hotels and St Regis Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott International; Fairmont Hotel & Resorts, Raffles Hotels & Resorts and SLS Hotels & Residences, part of global hospitality group Accor; Grand Hyatt, part of Hyatt Hotels Corporation; Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts and Six Senses, part of IHG Hotels & Resorts; and Jumeriah Hotels & Resorts, a global luxury hospitality company.

“Saudi Arabia is accelerating its development of a new tourism offering in the kingdom, fuelled by the ambitious Vision 2030 program.

“We are proud to unveil our collection of unique and diverse hospitality brands that cater to this growing market and underpin our commitment to creating a world-leading barefoot luxury destination which will soon serve as a gateway to one of the last undiscovered places on the planet,” said John Pagano, chief executive at TRSDC.

“Most importantly, such partnerships with globally recognized and respected brands signifies the growing confidence in our business, our flagship destination and in Saudi Arabia as a tourism destination.”

Grand Hyatt has snapped up a spot at the new tourism development

The announcement underscores the investment potential as Saudi Arabia continues its economic diversification in line with Vision 2030.

By 2030, the Red Sea Project expects to host one million visitors annually, capped in line with its sustainability ambitions, creating upwards of 70,000 new jobs and contributing SAR22 billion (US$5.3 billion) to the national GDP once fully operational.

Each brand at the Red Sea Project has embraced the vision of the project and have agreed to work together to collaborate in making the destination a success.

The partners have welcomed the industry-pioneering sustainability standards of TRSDC and the broader commitment towards regenerative tourism development.

Jumeriah will have a presence at the Red Sea Development in Saudi Arabia

‎“Hospitality is the anchor of The Red Sea Project.

“We are determined to create a world-class luxury destination and the hotel brands we partner with play a crucial role in delivering on this ambition.

“Our partnerships are cemented through a collaborative framework that emphasize synchronicity between all brands.

“In doing so, we aim to create more value and maximise destination success, empowering stakeholders to benefit from shared best practices and economies of scale,” said Jay Rosen, chief financial officer at TRSDC.

“The hotel management agreements unveiled today mark a significant milestone for us and we welcome more hotel operators, developers and investors to join us in our journey to build a thriving destination for visitors from around the world.”

Upon completion in 2030, the site will host 50 hotels offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and approximately 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites.

The first phase will also include a luxury marina, an 18-hole championship golf course, entertainment and leisure facilities, as well as an international airport.

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‘An explosion of red and gold’: readers’ favourite spots for UK autumn colour | United Kingdom holidays

Winning tip: The Falls of Clyde, South Lanarkshire

Follow in the footsteps of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Turner to enjoy the power and romanticism of the Falls of Clyde. Spectacular at any time of year, this walk reaches its golden, amber and feuille morte peak in the autumn months, especially after heavy rain. About 30 miles south-east of Glasgow, it’s home to badgers, otters and kingfishers on a trail that begins at the Unesco world heritage site of New Lanark (drop in to the visitor centre to find out all about the millowner and philanthropist Robert Owen) and leads to the 26-metre waterfall Cora Linn. You can have coffee at the Mill Café or stay at the New Lanark Hotel. A sepia and russet dream.

Wistman’s Wood, Dartmoor

Wistmans Wood
Photograph: David Clapp/Getty Images

Wistman’s Wood is interesting at any time of year – but especially so around dusk on Halloween, when it’s not hard to imagine the Hound of the Baskervilles might be on the loose. It is an ancient forest where time seems to have stood still. Walk around, over and under lichen-covered gnarled tree boughs and huge granite rocks at the 170-hectare national nature reserve, which also has fantastic upland heath and moorland birds –


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Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

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Kinver Edge, Worcestershire/Staffordshire

Autumn sunset views from Kinver Edge
Photograph: Ian Henley/Alamy

Kinver Edge, a National Trust site in south Staffordshire that extends over the Worcestershire border, is particularly stunning in the autumn. A remnant of the Mercian forest, this sandstone ridge is host to trees of all shapes and sizes, with fiery autumn colours in abundance. Follow the trails up to the top and you can see countryside for miles around. If you fancy a different walk, venture into the valley near Nanny’s Rock and see the old rock houses hidden in the trees – home to troglodytes until the 1960s.
Victoria Stevens

Coffin trails, Lake District

Grasmere Lake.
Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

For stunning autumn colours, a ghoulish twist and a dash of poetry, walk the coffin trail from Grasmere to Ambleside in Wordsworth’s Lake District. The walk is just under four miles and includes beautiful native woodland, lakes and two of the poet’s homes. Cumbria’s coffin trails were named for the corpses which had to be carried to the nearest consecrated ground. Large flat stones beside the path are where bearers stopped to take a break. En route, the Old School Room tea shop offers delicious homemade food and the bath buns at the Apple Pie cafe and takeaway would inspire anyone to poetry!
Zoe Gilbert

Hackfall Woods, Yorkshire Dales

Photograph: Bridget Mellor

Hackfall Woods in Nidderdale is a joy to explore. It was designed as a “wild romantic garden”, by 18th-century landowner and politician William Aislabie. A series of paths traverse the 47-hectare woods, with lovely ruined follies and grottos along the way. The colours in autumn are mesmerising … the view from the Ruin (the banqueting house) terrace feels like you are on top of a rainforest looking over a canopy of rich colours. Springs, cascades and an artificial waterfall operated by a pump make this a magical place.
Bridget Mellor

The Hermitage, Perthshire

River through autumn colours at the Hermitage near Dunkeld
Photograph: Sara Winter/Alamy

For the most beautiful autumn colours, enjoy a wonderful woodland walk around the Hermitage, Dunkeld. When the leaves turn, this magical area of Perthshire forestry is transformed into a wonderland where you will experience a breathtaking explosion of red and gold among the evergreen. The Douglas firs here are among the tallest trees in the UK. Keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels and watch salmon leaping up the dam as you enjoy the vibrant autumn scenery. Parking is £3. The picturesque village of Dunkeld, a five-minute drive away, is the perfect place to enjoy a post-walk coffee and cake.
Maggie Coll

Friston Forest, South Downs national park

The Cuckmere valley.
The Cuckmere valley. Photograph: Sam Moore/National Trust/PA

Close to the coast at Newhaven in East Sussex, the River Cuckmere’s wide meanders and water meadows are a fine sight. Looking up, you’ll see the faded green, yellow and orange leaves of Friston Forest’s beeches. This is a lovely place to walk at this time of year. The paths are covered in brown and gold leaves – particularly colourful in the dappled sunshine of a bright autumn day. With hills that aren’t too strenuous and Narnia-like avenues it is wonderful. Beautiful sea views can be enjoyed nearby on top of the Seven Sisters cliffs and at Beachy Head. A reward afterwards is a visit to the the Tiger Inn in East Dean, where the sticky toffee pudding is beyond question.
George Gilbert

Witton Woods, Norfolk

Bacton / Witton Wood
Photograph: Loop Images/Alamy

Witton Woods (also known as Bacton Woods to some) in north Norfolk has a great variety of trees – ancient sessile oak, ash, alder and chestnut and recent plantings of pine and wellingtonia – and patches of heather, broom and gorse, which make it lovely to visit in any season. It’s also great for a foraging session if you’re into spotting mushrooms in the autumn. There’s a bronze age burial mound and ancient pot-boiling site, too.
northwalshamguide.co.uk, north-norfolk.gov.uk

Allen Banks, North Pennines

The river Allen at Staward Gorge
Photograph: Clearview/Alamy

Ten miles west of Hexham, in the North Pennines area of outstanding national beauty, is Allen Banks. From the car park the footpath follows the river to Planky Mill, a good spot for a picnic, and to one of the largest areas of ancient woodland in Northumberland. Bordered by oak, beech, and birch, the gorge is framed in autumn by reds and golds. Below the canopy, the River Allen, which flows into the South Tyne just to the north, sparkles in autumn sunlight and the berries of the Scots fir gleam. Although it’s not a difficult walk, stout shoes are advisable. Allen Banks is a National Trust property: it’s free to walk there but there is a fee for parking unless you are an NT member.
Bernie Walker

Thorncombe Woods, Dorset

A grove of Beech trees Thorncombe wood.
Photograph: Andrew Wood/Alamy

There’s lovely autumn colour at Thorncombe Woods nature reserve next to Thomas Hardy’s cottage. The 26-hectare ancient woodland has an amazing range of mature trees, from majestic oaks to sweet chestnut, hazel and beech. The beech trees meld into a spectacular blaze of gold and copper in autumn. The woods, through which a well-preserved Roman road runs, eventually give way to Black Heath, which hosts Dartmoor ponies. There is a car park and also an independently run cafe.
Anita Hunt

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Red Arrows inspire engineers of tomorrow at Expo 2020 | News

Pilots and engineers of the future have been inspired by an interactive science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) event held at the UK Pavilion.

The show was hosted in partnership with the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) aerobatic team the Red Arrows and Heriot-Watt University Dubai.

Drones, robots, 3-D printing, and Formula One-style car building were featured during the learning session, providing an in-depth look at the field of engineering and the scale of opportunities for new generations.

Tadgh O’Donovan, deputy vice principle and head of engineering, Heriot-Watt University Dubai, said: “Sometimes people think engineering is all about maths and science, but there is so much more to it – and it’s so much fun.

“Engineers don’t do things twice.

“I always encourage my classes to play with the technology – it’s not an assignment.

“If students are not excited to get involved, then we’re doing it wrong!

“It’s for all ages; you’ll see kids here today as young as three years old looking up at the skies and seeing the amazing Red Arrows fly and they’ll wonder ‘how does that happen?’ and ‘how can I be a part of that?’”

O’Donovan added: “We have 60 members of the RAF here today; this entourage includes engineers and technicians – it’s not just one person flying the aircraft.

“It’s a great example of precision engineering.”

O’Donovan hailed Expo 2020 as the best stage in the world to display innovation, predicting that sustainability will be Expo’s most significant outcome: “It’s the biggest challenge that engineers face; it’s also the biggest challenge that society faces, but I believe engineers have a key role to deliver sustainability.

“We talk about how much energy is used taking a flight, but the question is that if we are to decarbonise, does that mean we fly less?

“I don’t believe that.

“I think engineers are going to come up with solutions in a sustainable way.

“There will be a development in sustainable fuels.

“The UAE is going to be a leader in hydrogen and how that is going to impact and support aviation in the future.

“Sustainability is what all aspects of engineering will be addressing in the next few years.”

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Travel bookings surge as U.K. takes S. Africa off red list

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African travel agencies report a surge in reservations for travel to and from Britain on Friday ahead of the country being removed from the U.K.’s COVID-19 red list next week.

Some companies said they were being overwhelmed by the number of people looking to travel since the British government announced it will lift restrictions on travelers arriving from 47 countries, including South Africa. The change will come into effect on Monday.

The decision to keep South Africa on the red list had been criticized by the country’s government, tourism operators and scientists, leading to a series of discussions between the leaders of both countries and their respective health experts.

The British rules banned anyone who had been in a red list country in the previous 10 days from visiting Britain. Only U.K. and Irish nationals or returning residents were allowed to enter from South Africa or other red list countries, and they faced a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

The rules also severely limited British tourists visiting South Africa as they were advised by their government they “should not” travel to red list countries and faced expensive hotel quarantine stays on their return home if they did.

The U.K. is South Africa’s biggest tourism source market outside Africa with more than 400,000 British travelers ordinarily visiting every year, according to official figures. That figure plunged to less than 10,000 so far this year because of the pandemic.

Flight Centre, one of South Africa’s biggest travel agencies, said it was struggling to cope with the demand sparked by the British announcement.

“The minute the announcement came through we could see on our online booking tools as well as our email inquiries and telephone calls this morning that there was a big surge,” Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group managing director, said Friday. “It has been pretty manic.”

“We see this as most source markets open up, the following day we are inundated, we just cannot keep up with the demand, to be honest,” he said.

Rosemary Anderson, chairwoman of hospitality association FEDHASA, said she is also seeing “a flurry of activity of South Africans wanting to travel to the U.K. and British people wanting to come to South Africa.”

“We are going into summer, the U.K. is going towards autumn and many British people have not been able to travel to sunny places, so that makes South Africa a great destination for them,” she said.

South African tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu also welcomed the British decision, which comes in time for the start of the country’s peak tourism season near the end of the year.

“We look forward to welcoming our British visitors in time for the South African summer season and we will continue to work tirelessly with all our national and international partners to ensure the success of South Africa’s tourism recovery,” Sisulu said in a statement.

South Africa’s important tourism industry has been decimated by the pandemic and the damage was prolonged by the U.K. keeping it on the red list, stakeholders said.

South Africa is Africa’s worst-affected country by the virus, with more than 2.9 million cases and 88,000 deaths reported. It is also the country where the beta variant was first detected. It has vaccinated 16% of its population of 60 million people, according to Johns Hopkins University, and started issuing digital vaccine certificates which may be used by travelers on Friday.

All of the 22 other African countries still on Britain’s red list will also be removed on Monday, leaving the strictest travel restrictions in place for just seven countries: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.


AP journalist Gerald Imray in Cape Town contributed.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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