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Fire at homeless encampment prompted US Capitol lockdown, situation cleared

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Monday morning, the U.S. Capitol complex was forced to temporarily lock down due to an “external security threat,” Capitol Police (USCP) said, after reports of a fire a few blocks away from the Capitol at a homeless encampment under a bridge.

This scare comes as tension and fear grip Washington, D.C. following the January 6 attack on the Capitol by rioters and as the city is preparing for President-elect Joe Biden‘s Wednesday inauguration. The complex is currently under strict security protection by the National Guard, resembling a military zone.

MORE ON INAUGURATION: Up to 25,000 National Guard troops to be in D.C. on Inauguration Day

USCP has since lifted the shelter-in-place order, NBC News reported.

Shortly before 10:30 am (EST), an email alert from USCP was sent to lawmakers telling those indoors to “stay away from exterior windows and doors” and for those outdoors to “seek cover,” according to multiple outlets.

This lockdown occurred during a rehearsal of Biden’s inauguration, forcing individuals to leave the West Front and to seek refuge inside the Capitol for safety. In videos and pictures, smoke could be seen rising from behind the Capitol Building.

D.C. Fire and EMS announced just before 10:30 am that it “responded to an outside fire in the 100 block of H St SE that has been extinguished,” reporting no injuries.

The U.S. Secret Service announced at 10:50 am that “There is no threat to the public.”

Around 11 am, another USCP email alert was sent to lawmakers saying that “a small explosion occurred” under the bridge at First and F Streets SE but that “the incident has been contained,” according to multiple reports. Staff and personnel, however, “are directed to continue to avoid coming to the Capitol Complex area until further notice.”

Shortly after 11 am, D.C. Fire and EMS reported that the fire “involved a homeless tent beneath freeway” and that the tent’s occupant “indicated she was using propane.” This, the department noted, “may explain report of ‘explosion.'”

The department also reported that there was one person with a non-life threatening injury and no other injuries, saying that the same female occupant “declined transport to the hospital” and that they have asked the American Red Cross of the National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region to “provide assistance.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’

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Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social,  “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”

Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”

It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.

Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.

And the escalation of war is visible.

Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.

Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.

Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”

The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”

F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.

Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.

 

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