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Thursday, October 6, 2022

First Thing: Proud Boys leaders charged with seditious conspiracy | US news

Good morning.

The criminal investigation into the Capitol attack develops apace. Top leaders of the far-right Proud Boys group, including its national chair, have been charged with seditious conspiracy over an alleged plot to obstruct the rubber-stamping of Joe Biden’s election win on 6 January last year.

Federal prosecutors, in a 33-page indictment unsealed yesterday, said the chair, Enrique Tarrio, and his co-defendants Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola used encrypted messaging apps for months to conspire to stop Biden’s certification by force.

The parallel congressional inquiry into the Capitol attack is scheduled to start televised hearings in the coming days that are expected to examine, in part, the former US president Donald Trump’s personal culpability in the events of January 6.

  • The Proud Boys leaders used a group chat called MOSD Leaders Group, described by Tarrio as a “national rally planning committee”, according to the indictment. Other group chats told members to travel “incognito” for the “DC Trip”, the government said, without wearing their familiar black and yellow colors.

  • A nine-page document, entitled 1776 Returns, named after the year of American independence from Britain, allegedly laid out a plan to occupy “crucial buildings” on January 6. Only a grand jury knows the identity of the individual who is said to have sent this plan to Tarrio at the end of 2020.

Lawyers for Tarrio and the other four Proud Boys leaders have said there is no evidence they conspired to storm the Capitol.

Russian diplomat leaves UN meeting over accusation of turning control of food supply into ‘stealth missile’

Vassily Nebenzia at UN
Vassily Nebenzia, who walked out of the meeting. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Russia has been accused by the European Council president of weaponising food supply, making it “a stealth missile against developing countries”.

Charles Michel, addressing Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, directly at a UN council meeting yesterday, said Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine’s transport infrastructure and grain storage facilities were preventing the embattled country from shipping, planting and harvesting.

The frank remarks led to the diplomat walking out. Michel even went so far as to suggest that “Russia alone” was responsible for the looming global food crisis.

  • Russia is “pilfering” Ukraine’s grain exports to sell for profit, according to the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, who cited “credible reports” as prices of grain soar. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies.

UK PM Boris Johnson wins no-confidence vote but scale of internal rebellion is surprising

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has clung on to his job, for now. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

After 148 of his own Conservative MPs voted to boot him out of office, Boris Johnson was left hanging on to his job as UK prime minister last night. Although he survived the no-confidence vote after 211 of his MPs backed him, the vote exposed ructions in the party that have deepened amid growing concerns over his conduct.

The writing could be on the wall for the PM. His predecessor Theresa May (who arrived to vote in a ball gown) was forced to leave office six months after winning a confidence ballot by a wider margin. Margaret Thatcher, meanwhile, resigned a week after surviving such a vote in 1990.

There are further questions over whether he will be able to command a majority in the House of Commons in forthcoming votes, after so many of his MPs went some way to in effect desert the leader of their party. However, a leading critic said he would continue to support the government’s agenda.

  • After the vote, Johnson hailed an “extremely good, positive, conclusive, decisive result” that would allow him to “move on to unite and focus on delivery”. But the opposition leader, Keir Starmer, said the Conservative party “believes the British public now have no right to expect honest politicians”.

In other news …

Dom Phillips in Roraima state, Brazil in 2019.
Dom Phillips in Roraima state, Brazil in 2019. Photograph: João Laet/AFP/Getty Images
  • The wife of a British journalist and longtime Guardian contributor, Dom Phillips, pleaded for Brazilian authorities to intensify their search for her husband and a celebrated Indigenous expert Bruno Araújo Pereira after they went missing in a remote corner of the Brazilian Amazon known for illegal mining and drug trafficking on Sunday.

  • Video footage shows how a man from Arizona drowned in Tempe town lake as three police officers watched and refused to save him on 28 May. One told Sean Bickings, 34: “I’m not jumping in after you,” after officers had approached him around 5am in response to an alleged argument between Bickings and a woman.

  • An Israeli law giving settlers in the occupied West Bank the same rights as citizens in Israel has failed to be automatically upheld after two members of the coalition voted against it along with the opposition. While the law will continue to remain active before a now crucial follow-up vote in three weeks, it calls into question the stability of the government.

  • Elon Musk accused Twitter of “breaching” his $44bn agreement to buy the social media company and threatened to scrap the deal after charging the platform with refusing to provide enough detail on the number of false users. In a legal letter, the Tesla CEO’s representatives alleged the company was “actively resisting” his rights to access data.

Stat of the day: Carbon dioxide levels 50% higher than during pre-industrial era

The latest US government data shows humans are further pushing the planet into realms not experienced for millions of years after a CO2 concentration of 421 parts per million was recorded in Hawaii. The burning of fossil fuels and deforestation is frog-marching the global population, and the natural world, into disaster – just centuries after the Earth’s CO2 levels were about 280ppm for almost 6,000 years before the Industrial Revolution.

Don’t miss this: Russian-language Ukrainian TV channel seeking to help oust Putin

Luke Harding reports on how February Morning aims to help bring down the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. With a target audience of those living in Russia, the Ukrainian channel seeks to help prompt “an uprising of the masses”, according to its founder, Ilya Ponomarev, a former member of Russia’s parliament who was the only deputy to vote against the 2014 annexation of Crimea. He was kicked out of the Duma and later barred from re-entering Russia after a trip to the US. “We need to offer a credible vision for Russia’s future,” he said.

Climate check: Funding needed for climate disasters has risen ‘more than 800%’ in 20 years

Women drink water
Women drink water at a distribution point at Muuri, one of 500 camps for the half a million-plus people who have abandoned their homes in Somalia’s worst drought for 40 years. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Although the amount of cash required by UN climate disaster agencies has rocketed, the poorest countries of the world could be receiving only around half of what they have appealed for. Rich countries, according to Oxfam, are only meeting about 50% of the overall funding – and it comes after the third costliest year ever recorded for extreme weather events. The total economic cost of 2021, owing to floods, droughts, and wildfires, has been estimated at almost $330bn.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB’s chief executive, said “rich countries are not only failing to provide sufficient humanitarian aid when weather-related disasters hit, they are also failing to keep their promise to provide $100bn a year to help developing countries adapt to the changing climate, and blocking calls for finance to help them recover from impacts such as land that’s become unfarmable and infrastructure that’s been damaged”.

Last Thing: Doc Antle of Tiger King charged with laundering $505,000

Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle, who was arrested on Friday.
Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle, who was arrested on Friday. Photograph: AP

One of the stars of hit show Tiger King, Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, has been charged with laundering more than half a million dollars. Federal prosecutors alleged Antle believed the money was the proceeds of an operation to smuggle people north across the southern US border. Prosecutors say Antle, along with one of his employees, arrested alongside him on Friday, doled out checks for construction work at his safari park in return for a 15% cut while allegedly inflating visitor numbers. Antle also faces a wildlife trafficking felony charge.

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