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5 things to know for July 11: Jan. 6, Ukraine, Uvalde, Japan, Brittney Griner

By Andrew Torgan, CNN

A wildfire in California’s Yosemite National Park is threatening the famed Mariposa Grove of giant sequoia trees, but so far none of the trees have suffered significant damage. The 1,591-acre Washburn Fire began on July 7 and doubled in size from Saturday to Sunday, park officials said. Fire crews removed undergrowth near the famed trees and did a prescribed burn to create a safety zone. Mariposa Grove is home to more than 500 giant sequoia trees, with some believed to be more than 2,000 years old.

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1. January 6

Members of the House select committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol say the panel’s next public hearing on Tuesday will focus on how the violent mob came together and the role of extremist groups in the deadly insurrection. “We are going to be connecting the dots during these hearings between these groups and those who were trying — in government circles — to overturn the election,” Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. The congresswoman said the hearings will focus on connections between the Trump administration and militia groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. Florida Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who also sits on the committee, told NBC Sunday that the panel could present evidence that members of Congress encouraged extremist groups to come to Washington on January 6, echoing former President Donald Trump’s tweet the previous month that January 6 would “be wild.” She called that tweet a “siren call” for those groups.

2. Ukraine

Ukraine’s emergency services say the death toll from a Russian rocket strike on an apartment building in the Donetsk region over the weekend has risen to 18. The State Emergency Service said that six people had been rescued from the rubble of the building in the town of Chasiv Yar, which was hit on Saturday evening as Russia once again ramped up its assault on eastern Ukraine in an attempt to take control over the entire Donbas area. Chasiv Yar and other towns in Donetsk have been under heavy fire in recent days as Russian forces try to grind down Ukrainian resistance in the area and move west towards Kramatorsk and Slovyansk.

3. Uvalde

The Texas House Investigative Committee’s preliminary report into the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde could be released within the next 10 days, and the committee’s chairman is pushing for the report to include the critical 77 minutes of “hallway” surveillance video, according to a source close to the committee. The chairman is not pushing for the release of any video showing victims or footage of violence, per this source. The shooting took place May 24, when a gunman killed 19 young students and two teachers inside a classroom before authorities breached the door more than an hour later. Rep. Dustin Burrows, the committee chairman, said on Twitter last week that he is prohibited from releasing the video because he signed a non-disclosure agreement with Texas Department of Public Safety. In his tweet, Burrows attached a letter to the DPS asking for permission to release the video, and a response from DPS denying the request.

4. Japan elections

Japan’s ruling coalition swept to victory on Sunday in an election that took on heightened significance following the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe, 67, was shot on Friday in the city of Nara while delivering a speech in support of candidates from his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), stunning a nation with one of the world’s lowest rates of gun violence. Japan’s leaders had urged the public to turn out and vote, denouncing the killing as an attack on democracy. On Sunday, days ahead of Abe’s wake and funeral, the conservative LDP won more than half of the 125 seats up for grabs, according to Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK.

5. Brittney Griner

Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor and US Ambassador to the United Nations, is expected to travel to Russia soon to discuss securing the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, according to a source. The planned trip to Moscow by Richardson, who privately works on behalf of families of hostages and detainees, comes amid US government efforts to free the two Americans and mounting pressure to bring them home. Both Griner and Whelan are considered wrongfully detained by the US government, and both of their families have been working with the non-profit Richardson Center. News of the trip comes days after Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February after being arrested on drug smuggling charges, pleaded guilty in a court outside Moscow. She faces up to 10 years in prison. Whelan was arrested in 2018 on espionage charges he vehemently denies. He was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison.


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