First Thing: Paul Pelosi attack suspect ‘wanted to break house speaker’s kneecaps’ | US news

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The man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi, the husband of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told police he wanted to hold the congresswoman hostage and “break her kneecaps”, authorities in California said on Monday.

David DePape, 42, confronted a sleeping Paul Pelosi in the couple’s bedroom in their San Francisco townhouse shortly before 2.30am last Friday, according to a federal affidavit filed in court yesterday.

Federal prosecutors have filed two charges against DePape, days after police say he broke into the Pelosis’ home and struck the Democratic House of Representatives leader’s 82-year-old husband in the head with a hammer.

Paul Pelosi was left seriously injured in the attack and was in surgery for several hours on Friday, as his wife hurried back from Washington DC to the hospital where he was taken. He was operated on for a fractured skull as well as serious wounding to his arms and hands.

  • What else has DePape been charged with? He also faces multiple charges at state level – including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, elder abuse and threatening a public official. Those charges were filed separately by the San Francisco district attorney, Brooke Jenkins, on Monday.

  • Why is Donald Trump Jr in the news? The former president’s son tweeted a crude meme featuring a hammer with the caption: “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready”. The internet backlash was swift but Trump Jr doubled down equally swiftly – posting another, this time clearly homophobic, meme that appears to reference a baseless conspiracy theory about the assault.

Elon Musk appoints himself CEO of Twitter as employees brace for mass layoffs

Elon Musk’s name above "Chief Twit" on his Twitter account, seen through a magnifying glass
Musk previously changed his Twitter bio to “Chief Twit”, alluding to his new role. Photograph: Dado Ruvić/Reuters

Elon Musk has appointed himself chief executive of Twitter and dissolved its board of directors, it was revealed in a company filing on Monday, as Twitter employees brace for extensive layoffs under a restructuring that could target up to a quarter of staff.

The Washington Post reported that Musk’s team had been discussing letting go of 25% of the company’s workforce in the first round of layoffs.

The reported move comes as the tech billionaire overhauls the company after buying it for $44bn last week. The celebrity lawyer Alex Spiro, a longtime Musk legal representative, led the conversations about the impending job cuts, according to the report.

After buying Twitter last week, Musk moved quickly to seize control, firing top executives including the chief, Parag Agrawal, head of finance, Ned Segal, and legal affairs and policy boss, Vijaya Gadde.

  • What else is Musk doing? He is considering charging Twitter users $20 (£17.30) a month or $240 a year for a blue tick on their account. Users verified by the platform – who carry a blue tick flagging them as an authentic source – would have 90 days to sign up to Blue or lose their check mark.

More than a million Americans ration insulin because of the high cost of the drug

A hand holding a bottle of insulin
A study finds that insulin rationing is most common among under-65s and the uninsured. Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Insulin rights activists and those who live with diabetes are calling for meaningful action to address the high costs of of the drug in the US as a study shows the widespread habit of rationing the life-saving medicine.

Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the US, though a 2017 study suggests the number of Americans dying from the illness is far higher due to it frequently being overlooked in causes of death. Humans require insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas to regulate glucose in the blood, to live.

A study published on 18 October in the Annals of Internal Medicine by researchers at Harvard Medical School, the City University of New York’s Hunter College and Public Citizen, found that 1.3 million Americans rationed insulin in 2021 because of the high prices. The staggering number represents an estimated 16.5% of the US population with diabetes.

The study found insulin rationing was most commonly reported by those without health insurance coverage and individuals under 65 not eligible for Medicare. Black insulin users were more likely to report rationing insulin, at 23.2%.

  • How much is insulin? One vial of Humalog cost $21 (£18) in 1999 and jumped to $332 (£287) in 2019. US list prices for insulin have soared in recent decades, while list prices have remained relatively the same at a fraction of US list prices in every other industrialized country.

In other news …

Mike Pence speaks during an event to promote his new book.
Mike Pence speaks during an event to promote his new book. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Mike Pence has blamed Donald Trump for events leading up to the January 6 insurrection in a memoir that will be published on 15 November. The former vice-president says a meeting at which advisers led by Rudy Giuliani urged Trump to not accept election defeat was “a new low”.

  • The Democratic candidate Elissa Slotkin says abortion is a top issue in Michigan and the fear of a ban will motivate voters to re-elect her. Slotkin is running in one of the country’s most tightly contested seats, as a Democrat who won Trump voters back from the Republican party in 2018 and 2020.

  • Taylor Swift scored 10 out of 10 to become the first artist in history to claim the top 10 slots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US, with tracks from her latest album, Midnights. Billboard reported yesterday that Swift had surpassed Drake, who had held the previous record with nine of the top 10 songs.

  • A US judge has blocked the $2.2bn planned merger of Penguin Random House, the world’s largest book publisher, with its rival Simon & Schuster. The justice department argued the deal would “substantially” harm competition in the market for the US publishing rights to anticipated top-selling books.

  • South Korea’s prime minister, Han Duck-soo, has called Saturday’s deadly Halloween crush in Seoul a “disastrous accident that should not have happened”, amid growing public anger. Expressing sorrow to bereaved families, he admitted that institutional failures in managing crowds.

Stat of the day: the battle to build a $1.5bn solar power field almost the size of Manhattan

Farmer Norm Welker on his land in Starke county, Indiana, where a solar power field is being constructed.
Farmer Norm Welker on his land in Starke county, Indiana, where a solar power field is being constructed. Photograph: Taylor Glascock/the Guardian

A massive solar farm, which could have its goal of completion next year delayed because of the lawsuits, has stirred up strong feelings among some in rural Indiana. The opponents of the solar project, a $1.5bn venture appropriately called Mammoth that is expected to span an area almost as large as Manhattan, say they are defying an egregious assault on time-honored farming traditions. However supporters of the project, expected to be the US’s biggest solar power farm, say those against it are small in number but with deep pockets and able to afford multiple lawsuits. “It’s just throw spaghetti and see what sticks,” the developer said.

Don’t miss this: How disasters like the Itaewon crush happen, how can they be prevented and the ‘stampede’ myth

A street in Itaewon district, Seoul, full of people before a crowd crush during Halloween festivities.
A street in Itaewon district, Seoul, full of people before a crowd crush during Halloween festivities. Photograph: Yonhap/Reuters

More than 150 people have died in a crowd crush while celebrating Halloween in one of Seoul’s most popular nightlife districts. Up to 100,000 people – mostly in their teens and 20s – poured into Itaewon’s narrow, sloping streets for one of the first big celebrations since Covid restrictions were lifted. South Korean authorities have opened an investigation into the disaster. But how do such crowd crushes happen? Experts say they are predictable and preventable. Here is what we can learn from the Halloween tragedy.

Climate check: Two-thirds of US money for fossil fuel pours into Africa despite climate goals

A Cop27 sign on a road leading to Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh
A Cop27 sign on a road leading to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. US funding for fossil fuel projects threatens to undercut Joe Biden’s message of climate leadership. Photograph: Sayed Sheasha/Reuters

Joe Biden will head to Egypt next week to tout the US’s re-emergence as a leader on the climate crisis at the Cop27 talks. But he will be landing in a continent that the US continues to pour billions of dollars into for fossil fuel projects, with seemingly no end in sight despite the president’s promises. The US government has funneled more than $9bn (£7.7bn) into oil and gas projects in Africa since it signed up to the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Two-thirds of all the money the US has committed globally to fossil fuels in this time has been plowed into Africa, where one in which 600 million people live without electricity.

Last thing: Victory for bikini baristas as federal court rejects city’s dress code

A barista at a Grab-N-Go Bikini Hut espresso stand holds money as she waves to a customer, just outside the city limits of Everett, Washington.
A barista at a Grab-N-Go Bikini Hut espresso stand holds money as she waves to a customer, just outside the city limits of Everett, Washington. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP

A Washington city’s dress code saying so-called bikini baristas must cover their bodies at work has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court. The decision in a partial summary judgment this week comes after a lengthy legal battle between bikini baristas and the city of Everett, on the outskirts of Seattle, over the rights of workers to wear what they want, the Everett Herald reported. It is difficult to imagine, the court wrote, how the ordinance would be equally applied to men and women in practice because it prohibits clothing “typically worn by women rather than men”, including midriff and scoop-back shirts, as well as bikinis.

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