Mitch McConnell Says Capitol Rioters Were ‘Provoked by the President’ & More in Today’s News

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Las Notis is a daily news column that gets you up to speed on the political, media + other going ons in the United States, Latin America and the diaspora—all in one quick digest. 

Here’s your glimpse at what’s going on today:

  • More than 400,000 people have now died of COVID-19 in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. This is the highest number of deaths of any country in the world, and more than the number of Americans who died in World War I, Vietnam War and the Korean War combined. [CNN]
  • There are now at least four COVID-19 variants in the world giving scientists a cause for concern. One of them is the highly contagious strain that was first found in the U.K. and has now appeared in multiple states; another is a different variant that has shown up in California. Other mutations have been identified in South Africa and Brazil. [CNN]
  • On Trump’s last full day as president, Mitch McConnell called him out publicly, saying that the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol had been “provoked by the president and other powerful people” and that they were “fed lies.” He added, “They tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.” [NYT]
  • Joe Biden, who will be inaugurated tomorrow, announced that he will nominate Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s top health official, as his assistant secretary of health. Levine could become the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by the Senate.“She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts,” Biden said in a statement. [WaPo]
  • About 7,000 migrants, a majority of them from Honduras, have entered Guatemala, hoping to travel through Mexico and eventually reach the U.S. border. As they approached, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged the U.S. and the incoming Biden administration to make major reforms to its immigration policy. [BBC]
  • Despite President Jair Bolsonaro questioning the science of vaccines, his country kicked off iits vaccine rollout this week. Still, the process is expected to be slow; as of now, Brazil has just six million doses of vaccine on hand for a nation of 213 million people and one that’s been among the hardest hit by the virus. [NYT]
  • Ozuna will perform alongside DJ Cassidy on “Pass the Mic: Inaugural Edition” during Joe Biden’s 90-minute inauguration special “Celebrating America.” The program will include Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, among others. [Billboard]