Good morning — it’s Friday. Grab your coffee or tea. The District will allow restaurants to resume indoor dining, as long as they fill no more than 25 percent of their seats at a time.
Today’s weather: We’re cooler but still mild today, ahead of a cold front that brings a chillier weekend. Tomorrow is notably colder and windier, perhaps more so than today’s breezes. Highs mid-40s to about 50.
“Is this the Capitol or the White House?” one of the people who came to mob the U.S. Capitol asked me.
“Where is the Mall?” another out-of-state rallygoer wondered while standing on the lawn of the National Mall, which constantly confounds tourists with its puzzling lack of a Cinnabon or Foot Locker.
There are way too many Americans who have little understanding of the nation’s capital and what happens here. And that was on full display on Jan. 6 and after, when we saw thousands make their first trip to D.C. either to storm the Capitol or to protect it. And it gave me an idea.
I know President Biden is going to be busy bringing the United States back into the good graces of the world, restoring sanity and replanting all the Truffula trees. But I have one more proposal for the new administration to consider in its early days: a mandatory, government-subsidized trip to D.C. for every high school student.
To honor Kamala Harris, these women are bringing a traditional Indian art form to D.C.
By Sydney Page
A traditional South Indian art form will head toward the U.S. Capitol to welcome President Biden and Vice President Harris, in part as a nod to Harris’s Tamil heritage.
Called a kolam, it will form a quilt-like ground cover made from about 2,000 individual tiles decorated by people across the country. They will be woven together and offered as a cultural touchstone and greeting for the new administration and vice president, whose mother was an Indian immigrant.
Three Indian American women joined forces in late November to spearhead Inauguration Kolam 2021 and produce the sprawling crowdsourced public welcome — all on recycled cardboard. It is modeled after the geometric Indian art traditionally created by women.
Back when it was known as Black Broadway, U Street wasn’t just a neighborhood where you could hear Louis Armstrong at Club Bali. Or stroll down the street on a Sunday afternoon, still in your church clothes, and take in the magnificent buildings designed by Washington’s leading architects. Or watch first-run movies at the Republic Theatre. Or dance late into the night at the lavish auditorium inside the True Reformer Building.
It was a place where African Americans could escape the gaze of White Washington.
In the early and mid-20th century, America in general, and Washington specifically, was still a segregated land, with an imbalance of power established by laws, informal agreements, vigilantes and racist stereotypes. One of the most persistent, and pernicious, stereotypes involved fried chicken, that staple of the American South. Through postcards and ads, films and commercials, interviews and memes, Black Americans were (and continue to be) subjected to a multigenerational smear campaign designed to erase their expanding social and political status. It linked them to a dish that they had a large hand in creating, based on a bird with a sacred history in West Africa, all somehow trying to “prove” the inferiority of African Americans.
Scores of National Guard members were forced out of a U.S. Capitol cafeteria resting area and into a parking garage nearby, putting them in close quarters with moving cars, exhaust fumes and troops potentially infected with the coronavirus, two soldiers told The Washington Post.
The abrupt transfer came Thursday afternoon with no explanation, the soldiers said. Images of National Guard members sleeping on concrete sparked outrage and an apparent reversal later Thursday night, as lawmakers said the service members would be moved back to the Capitol.
The Guard members have hotel rooms to sleep in, officials said. But soldiers are on duty for a day or two, working shifts a few hours at a time and cannot easily return to their hotels, many of which are in Virginia and Maryland. So they nap wherever they can — on concrete, indoor tennis courts, or if they are lucky, on carpet floors.
Officials said the 24-year-old driver of a car died after a head-on collision with a Metrobus.
The incident happened around 11:53 p.m. Thursday at the intersection of Benning Road and Minnesota Avenue in Northeast Washington.
D.C. police said an initial investigation found that a Metrobus was headed east on Benning Road and as it was making a left turn onto Minnesota Avenue when it was struck head-on by a Nissan Altima that was coming in the opposite direction. Police said the car swerved into the left lane and hit the bus head-on.
The driver of the Altima — who was later identified as Marion Dante Fields, of Clinton, Md., was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Two passengers in the car were also taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Metro spokeswoman Sherri L. Ly said in an email that seven passengers on the bus had non-life-threatening injuries.
Roads in the area were shut down for some time.
Virginia Democrats seek to remove member of state’s new redistricting commission
RICHMOND — Virginia Democrats took aim at a member of the state’s new bipartisan redistricting commission as it prepared for its first meeting Thursday evening, with one lawmaker promising legislation to enable the panel to remove a Republican appointee who made comments on social media that used crude language and disparaged women.
Del. Vivian E. Watts (D-Fairfax) said she was filing a bill to allow the commissioners to vote to remove a member for “neglect of duty or gross misconduct.”
Her target, she said, was Jose A. Feliciano Jr. of Fredericksburg, one of eight citizens appointed to the commission earlier this month by a panel of retired judges, who chose from names nominated by leaders of the General Assembly.
The Washington Football Team is poised to make Jennifer King the NFL’s first Black woman to be named a full-time assistant coach. A contract has not yet been signed, but the deal is expected to be completed in the coming days, according to two people familiar with the situation.
King joined Washington’s staff in February as a full-time intern, becoming the first woman in franchise history to be hired in any capacity as a coach. She worked primarily with the running backs and earned the praise of Coach Ron Rivera and running backs coach Randy Jordan.
Hiring King would just be the latest groundbreaking personnel move by Washington. The team is finalizing a deal for Martin Mayhew to be the next GM, a move that would give Washington minorities as team president, coach and GM (Jason Wright took over as team president in August).
The race for cash for the 2022 governor’s race is underway in Maryland, with Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) raising the most money last year among known potential contenders for the job.
Although Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans in Maryland, they have lost three out the last five gubernatorial races. They are aiming for an aggressive campaign to reclaim the governor’s mansion when term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan (R) leaves office in 2022.
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R), who is still weighing to whether to run for the top job, raised nothing in 2020, according to campaign finance reports made public week, and had just $23,000 in his campaign account.
The U.S. Capitol Police department has launched an investigation after Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) set off a magnetometer near the House chamber while carrying a concealed gun Thursday afternoon, according to a Hill staffer with knowledge of the incident.
Harris set off the magnetometer — installed after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol — as he was on his way to the chamber, leading security to pat him down, said the staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the incident.
“One security official present saw a firearm on the person of Rep. Harris and relayed that to his superiors,” the staffer said in a text message. “To be clear, Harris did not enter the Floor.”
Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, said the agency is “investigating the matter” but declined to elaborate, saying she could not discuss an ongoing investigation.
Hundreds of people are expected to say their final farewells on Friday to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., the nation’s longest-serving president of a state Senate and a titan in Maryland politics.
Miller died Jan. 15 after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 78.
On Thursday night, Miller’s casket was escorted by state troopers to stops throughout his district — including at Surrattsville High School and his law office, both in Prince George’s County, and his hometown of Chesapeake Beach in Calvert County — as it made its way to Annapolis, where Miller served in the General Assembly for 50 years.
Miller’s casket was then carried into the historic State House by troopers who served along with him and placed under its dome, steps away from the Senate chamber where he was a fixture at the rostrum for three decades.
Well, the Capitals made it four games before they were hit with serious coronavirus-related issues. After goalie Ilya Samsonov tested positive for the disease on Tuesday, he, along with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov, will miss at least four games. The team was also fined $100,000 for violating the league’s coronavirus guidelines involving social interactions among players.
It was a rough week for both of Capital One Arena’s tenants. After their own coronavirus outbreak, the Wizards finally returned to practice on Wednesday, but with only eight eligible players. The league postponed the team’s sixth straight game, which was scheduled for today at Milwaukee.
The Washington Football Team closed its training facility this week after coaches and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus, but still managed to take care of some business. Washington officially announced Martin Mayhew as its general manager this morning. A member of Washington’s last Super Bowl team as a player, Mayhew previously served as the vice president of player personnel for the San Francisco 49ers. In other staff news, Jennifer King, who joined Ron Rivera’s staff as a coaching intern last year, is poised to become the NFL’s first Black woman to be named a full-time assistant coach.
What to watch this weekend
The shorthanded Capitals host the Sabres in their home opener tonight after a 2-0-2 start to the season. (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington)
The U.S. women’s national soccer team, which features Washington Spirit defenders Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett, takes on Colombia in a friendly tonight. (7 p.m., ESPN2)
The Wizards visit the Spurs on Sunday. Washington hasn’t won in San Antonio since Dec. 11, 1999. (8 p.m., NBC Sports Washington)
Maryland officials call for schools to reopen no later than March 1
In a forceful push to get Maryland’s public schools reopened, Gov. Larry Hogan and State Superintendent Karen Salmon called Thursday for immediate efforts to return students to classrooms, at least part time, no later than March 1.
The state leaders cited health metrics that have begun to show improvement and research showing that schools are not virus “superspreaders,” while making the case that the academic and psychological toll of virtual schooling is too great — and that it falls hardest on Maryland’s most vulnerable students.
Hogan (R) said that while the state cannot order school boards to move to in-person learning, it will be taking a firm approach.
Rosa Wilson never forgot a birthday. Family, friend or casual acquaintance, a card with a personal note and a prayer attached came your way. Her husband, Lester Wilson, was a skilled carpenter who used his free time to build tables and chairs.
The couple — he 91, she 87 — died at a hospital early Thursday after D.C. firefighters pulled them from separate floors at the rowhouse in Northwest Washington’s Petworth neighborhood that they had owned and lived in for the past half-century.
“They were the soul and the heart of the people in this community,” said Maj. Srikant Bhatnagar, who along with his wife, Indrani, are corps officers for the Salvation Army on Sherman Avenue NW, where the Wilsons worshiped.
The blaze broke out around 2:50 a.m. in the 4200 block of Eighth Street NW. Investigators on Thursday had not determined the cause or origin of the fire, which extended to at least one adjacent home and displaced its occupants. A rear porch partially collapsed, and one firefighter was injured.
RICHMOND — A Republican state senator and candidate for Virginia governor who called rioters at the U.S. Capitol “patriots” struck a deal on Thursday that could spare her from a formal censure by the state Senate over her remarks.
If state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (R-Chesterfield) stands up on the floor of the Senate on Friday to “clarify” her remark about patriots and offer a general apology for insults she lobbed at Democrats, Sen. John J. Bell (D-Loudoun) will withdraw the resolution he introduced Jan. 13 to censure her, according to three people with direct knowledge of the deal.
They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the tentative agreement, which some feared could fall apart. Chase and Bell did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday night.