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Facebook blocks events, 25,000 troops—How US Capitol is gearing up for Biden’s inauguration

The moves are part of a series of measures to bolster an unprecedented security posture for US President-elect's swearing-in on 20 January.

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Washington: Facebook Inc. said it will block users from creating events near the U.S. Capitol. Several key bridges to Washington will close on Tuesday, a day before the inauguration. As many as 25,000 troops will be in the city for inauguration. Members of Congress and their staff are being encouraged to work from home through inauguration.

There are five days until President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing in.

Facebook Inc. says it will block users from creating events on the social network hosted in areas that are close to the U.S. Capitol, the White House, or other state Capitols until at least Inauguration Day on Wednesday.

Facebook says it will also review existing events on the social network to weed out any that might violate its policies. The company is doing this to “further prevent people from trying to use our services to incite violence,” according to a company blog post updated Friday.

Social media companies like Facebook are still reacting to the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week that unfolded following the encouragement of President Donald Trump to protest the results of the Nov. 3 election. Facebook has since seen an uptick in posts using violent or incendiary language to promote events, and there is fear that more rioters may descend on Washington for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Trump’s Facebook page was suspended on Jan. 6, the day of the riot, and he is not allowed to post on the network until after Inauguration Day at the earliest. — Kurt Wagner

Key bridges into Washington to close on Tuesday (6:03 p.m.)

Key bridges between Virginia and Washington will be closed as part of security measures for the inauguration, according to a statement from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and state lawmakers.

Virginia officials said they reached an agreement with the United States Secret Service to close the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, Arlington Memorial Bridge, Interstate 395 Bridge and 14th Street Bridge starting at 6:00 am on Jan. 19 and ending at 6:00 am on Jan. 23.

The move is the latest in a series of measures to bolster an unprecedented security posture for the Jan. 20 inauguration. — Jarrell Dillardn

Up to 25,000 troops now approved for inauguration (2:59 p.m)

The number of troops in Washington for the inauguration continues to grow.

A spokeswoman for the National Guard announced on Friday that as many as 25,000 service members will protect the nation’s capital next week, up from 21,000 just a day earlier.

“The Defense Department has agreed to provide as many as 25,000 service members to support the Presidential Inauguration National Special Security Event,” said Darla Torres, a division chief for the National Guard Bureau of Public Affairs.

National Guard troops from every state, territory and the District of Columbia will be in Washington for the Jan. 20 inauguration. Governors have also activated the National Guard to protect state capitols after similar warnings of threats. — Sophia Cai, Travis Tritten

Members of Congress encouraged to work from home (2:17 p.m.)

Members of the House of Representatives and their staff are being encouraged to work remotely through the inauguration.

An email sent from the House Sergeant at Arms Friday afternoon noted that a number of roads and bridges into Washington have been closed as security ramps up around the city.

“As a result, access to the Capitol Complex is extremely difficult,” the email said. “Members and staff in the D.C. area are HIGHLY ENCOURAGED to work remotely through January 20th.”

In a press conference on Friday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that the inauguration is not the only target being discussed by extremist groups and that events leading up to it over the next few days could also be at risk.

In addition to roads and bridges, Metro and bike sharing stations have been shut down near the Capitol, and the National Mall is closed. — Billy House

Pentagon, DOJ watchdogs to probe riot (9:40 a.m.)

The inspectors general for the Justice Department and Pentagon are joining with other government watchdogs to examine their departments’ preparations and response for the assault on the Capitol.

Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, said in a statement that his office “ is initiating a review to examine the role and activity of DOJ and its components in preparing for and responding to the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.”

He said that will include “whether there are any weaknesses in DOJ protocols, policies, or procedures that adversely affected the ability of DOJ or its components to prepare effectively for and respond to the events.”

Simultaneously, the Defense Department’s Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell announced an inquiry into “roles, responsibilities, and actions to prepare for, and respond to, the planned protest and its aftermath.” Officials have engaged in finger-pointing on the failure to anticipate the riot by pro-Trump extremists and the several hours it took for National Guard troops to arrive in substantial numbers.

O’Donnell said his office will work with Justice and watchdogs for the Interior Department and Department of Homeland Security who are also doing inquiries. — Tony Capaccio, Chris Strohm

Hollywood stars to join Biden’s special (7:23 a.m.)

Hollywood heavyweights Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington are joining Biden’s inaugural television special, which was designed to replace traditional balls and parties to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee said the actors will introduce segments during the evening’s event, which is being hosted by Tom Hanks.

Among the musical guests will be the Foo Fighters, John Legend, and Bruce Springsteen, all performing from “iconic locations across the country.” Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Ant Clemons, and Jon Bon Jovi will also perform, with more announcements are expected.

The “Celebrating America” event will be aired live on television networks and streamed on multiple channels.

Biden’s inauguration is being held amid extraordinary security measures after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, demanding President Donald Trump be declared the winner of the November election. The violence left five people dead, including a police officer, and led to Trump being impeached by Congress for a second time.-Bloomberg

Also read: Joe Biden names Indian-American Sameera Fazili as deputy director of National Economic Council


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