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First Thing: R Kelly found guilty on sex trafficking charges

·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA</span>
Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

Good morning.

A jury has found the R&B superstar R Kelly guilty of being the ringleader of a decades-long racketeering and sex trafficking scheme that preyed upon Black women and children.

The disgraced singer was found guilty on all nine counts on Monday afternoon after decades of avoiding criminal responsibility for numerous allegations of misconduct, in a major #MeToo victory for Black women and girls.

The panel of seven men and five women had begun deliberating the charges on Friday afternoon after prosecutors and defense attorneys finished their closing arguments at the end of a grueling six-week trial in Brooklyn, New York. There had been shocking testimony detailing Kelly’s abuse of women, girls and boys. He remained motionless, eyes downcast as the verdict was read.

“To the victims in this case, your voices were heard and justice was finally served,” the acting US attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said on Monday, announcing the verdict.

  • What was Kelly accused of? Prosecutors said he ran a Chicago-based criminal enterprise that recruited women and children and subjected them to unwanted sex and mental torment.

  • What will his punishment be? He faces up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for 4 May.

CIA officials under Trump discussed assassinating Julian Assange – report

Julian Assange is now in prison in London, from where he is fighting extradition to the US.
Julian Assange is in prison in London, from where he is fighting extradition to the US. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP

Senior CIA officials during the Trump administration discussed abducting and even assassinating the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, according to a US report citing former officials.

The discussions on kidnapping or killing Assange took place in 2017, Yahoo News reports, when the fugitive Australian activist was entering his fifth year sheltering in the Ecuadorian embassy. The then CIA director, Mike Pompeo, and his top officials were furious about WikiLeaks’ publication of “Vault 7”, a set of CIA hacking tools, a breach that the agency deemed to be the biggest data loss in its history.

Pompeo and the CIA leadership “were completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7”, Yahoo cites a former Trump national security official as saying. “They were seeing blood.”

Some senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration went as far as to request “sketches” or “options” for killing Assange.

  • What has Assange’s lawyer said? Barry Pollack, Assange’s US lawyer, said it was outrageous that the US government considered “assassinating somebody without any judicial process simply because he had published truthful information”.

  • Has the CIA responded to the report? No, it has declined to comment.

‘Blah, blah, blah’: Greta Thunberg lambasts leaders over climate crisis

Youth4Climate pre-COP26 conference in MilanSwedish climate activist Greta Thunberg arrives at the Youth4Climate pre-COP26 conference in Milan, Italy, September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
‘Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises,’ said the climate activist Greta Thunberg. Photograph: Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters

Greta Thunberg has excoriated global leaders over their promises to address the climate emergency, dismissing them as “blah, blah, blah”.

She quoted statements by the British prime minister, Boris Johnson: “This is not some expensive, politically correct, green act of bunny hugging,” and the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi: “Fighting climate change calls for innovation, cooperation and will power,” but said the science did not lie.

Carbon emissions are on track to rise by 16% by 2030, according to the UN, rather than fall by half, which is the cut needed to keep global heating under the internationally agreed limit of 1.5C.

“Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah,” she said in a speech to the Youth4Climate summit in Milan, Italy on Tuesday. “This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.”

  • The Cop26 climate summit starts in Glasgow, UK, on October 31 and all the big-polluting countries must deliver tougher pledges to cut emissions to keep the goal of 1.5C within reach.

  • Thunberg, Vanessa Nakate from Uganda, and hundreds of other young people from across the world are attending the Youth4Climate summit. It is hosted by the Italian government, the UK’s partner in running Cop26.

In other news …

The cross-examination of Mark Milley is expected to be the most heated of a senior US military officer in over a decade.
The cross-examination of Mark Milley is expected to be the most heated of a senior US military officer in over a decade. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP
  • The top US general Mark Milley can expect a hostile interrogation when he appears before Congress on Tuesday after accounts that he carried out acts of insubordination to prevent Donald Trump from starting a war as a diversion from his election defeat last year.

  • There has been a surge in murders in the San Francisco Bay Area during the pandemic. Guardian analysis reveals a region-wide increase in violent deaths, but Black and Latino residents make up the majority of victims.

  • Britney Spears’s legal team has accused her father, Jamie Spears, of crossing “unfathomable lines” after a new documentary alleged the pop star had been secretly surveilled during her conservatorship, including being recorded in her bedroom.

  • People risk developing type 2 diabetes if they can no longer fit into the jeans they were wearing when they were 21, according to one of the world’s leading experts on the disease. If people couldn’t fit into the same-sized trousers then they were “carrying too much fat”.

Stat of the day: Almost half a million US households lack indoor plumbing

Clean, safe, affordable water and sanitation are essential for human health, economic prosperity and environmental justice. Yet almost half a million American households lack basic indoor plumbing, with renters and people of color in some of the country’s wealthiest and fastest growing cities most likely to be living without running water or flushing toilets, new research reveals. Even though plumbing poverty appears to have declined in several major cities, tens of thousands of residents continue to rely on public restrooms, school showers and chamber pots.

Don’t miss this: Anita Hill on sexual harassment and survival

In the pantheon of women shamed for accusing high-profile men – before Christine Blasey Ford in 2018 and Monica Lewinsky in 1998 – there was Anita Hill. In 1991, Clarence Thomas was nominated to the supreme court. Senate hearings for his confirmation were completed without incident, until an FBI interview of Hill accusing him of sexual harassment was leaked to the press. The Senate hearings reopened, and Hill repeated her claims in a series of televised sessions. She was not believed. She explains how she withstood the tumult.

Climate check: is deep-sea mining required for an electric vehicle revolution?

China manufacturing index decreasingepa07961966 A man supervises a robot hand in the BYD (Build Your Dreams) electric car factory in Xi&#x002019;an, Shaanxi province, China, 14 October 2019 (issued 31 October 2019). China&#x002019;s manufacturing purchasing managers&#x002019; index (PMI) foaled for sixth month in a row, according to official data released on 31 October. The ongoing contraction illustrates a worsening business climate, despite Beijing&#x002019;s efforts to spark economic growth. Media reports state that the October PMI was below expectations at 49.3 points from September at 49.8 and the lowest since hitting the 49.2 in February 2019. EPA/ALEX PLAVEVSKI ATTENTION: This Image is part of a PHOTO SET
A man supervises a robot hand in the BYD (Build Your Dreams) electric car factory in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China. Photograph: Alex Plavevski/EPA

As countries strive to meet stringent carbon emission targets, and vehicle-makers phase out combustion engines, 145m electric vehicles are predicted to be on the roads within a decade, up from 11m last year. The car batteries they require, along with storage batteries for solar and wind power, have sent demand for metals soaring, taking mining firms to the bottom of the sea in the hunt for those metals. Deep sea mining firms claim their rare metals are necessary – but with even major electric car firms now backing a moratorium, critics say there is an alternative.

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Last thing: ‘Great grandma went to the Met Gala’: woman identifies A$AP Rocky’s quilt

Rihanna and A$AP Rocky attend the 2021 Met Gala.
Rihanna and A$AP Rocky attend the 2021 Met Gala. Photograph: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

A quilt worn by the rapper A$AP Rocky to the Met Gala in New York this month turned out to have a heartwarming story. Attending the exclusive gala with the pop star Rihanna, A$AP Rocky wore a quilt-style cape designed by Eli Russell Linnetz. The designer explained that on a visit to the young designer’s studio, the rapper gravitated to a giant quilt in the ERL spring collection. Then, a week after the Met gala, Instagram user “books_n_babies” posted about the quilt and said it was based on their great grandmother Mary’s design.

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