On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Pentagon officials will testify on the withdrawal from Afghanistan. It’s still not clear if anyone will face criminal charges for the U.S. drone strike killings of children last month. Plus, Congress scrambles to avoid a government shutdown later this week, the Department of Homeland Security proposes a rule to preserve DACA, R. Kelly has been found guilty of sex crimes in New York and a new Netflix documentary looks at Britney Spears’ conservatorship fight.
Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below.This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Good morning, I’m Taylor Wilson. And this is five things you need to know Tuesday, the 28th of September, 2021. Today, testimony about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan plus Congress scrambles to avoid a government shutdown and more.
Here are some of the top headlines.
- The FBI is reporting a nearly 30% rise in murders last year. That’s the largest single year jump since the bureau began tracking crime statistics six decades ago.
- At least 37 people were killed in Nigeria’s North during an attack on a remote village on Sunday. The violence was blamed on a prolonged religious crisis and marks the latest violence in that part of the country.
- And investigators say the Amtrak train that derailed in Montana over the weekend was going just under the speed limit at about 75 miles an hour when it went off the track. It’s still not clear exactly what caused the deadly crash.
Officials from the Pentagon will testify in front of Congress today about Afghanistan. The US withdrew its military from the country at the end of last month after helping to evacuate more than 100,000 people from the country, largely Afghan civilians. Americans overwhelmingly supported ending the 20-year war, but there were widespread criticisms of how the Biden Administration and Pentagon pulled out. And lawmakers from both sides of the aisle blasted a number of moves. There was chaos in and around the Kabul airport, which the US controlled through August 31st. After the Taliban retook Afghanistan last month, many Afghans who helped the United States and allies during the war were immediately desperate to leave and crowded the airport. Some people even died clinging to the outside of a military plane as it took off. In the last days of evacuations, an ISIS cell in the country then killed nearly 200 people in a terror attack at the airport, including 169 Afghans and 13 US service members. The US responded with drone strikes and killed at least 10 innocent members of one Afghan family, including eight children.
The Pentagon has acknowledged the killings and apologized, but it’s not clear if that will be the end of that. What the US military did may have been a war crime and international charges could still come. There’s also the issue of the Afghanistan that the United States left behind. The Taliban has only been loosely recognized globally as in power and prosecutors from the International Criminal Court in the Hague are already looking into crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, particularly surrounding the treatment of women. The United Nations held a panel last week raising concerns in particular about schooling, something girls after a certain age were prohibited to attend during the Taliban’s last rule in the late 1990s. And just this week, the Taliban announced that women will not be allowed to attend one of the country’s best universities, Kabul University. Fawzia Koofi, a deputy parliamentary speaker in Afghanistan told the UN that the Taliban is again telling women and girls that there will be temporary stops to education, something she says they did last time in power.
I’m hearing that unfortunately the excuses the Taliban make right now for women, banning girls from education and university is for them to wait until a proper time when education environment is safe for them. This is exactly the same thing that happened to me and thousands of other girls when we wanted to go to university and school in 1996, that temporary measures to make the environment safe last for five years and became a permanent measure.
There are also reports that women’s shelters in the country have been closed or taken over by the Taliban, often giving women who have faced domestic violence and other abuses few choices for safety.
At today’s testimonies in Congress, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and US Central Commander Kenneth McKenzie will testify.
Congress is scrambling to avoid a government shutdown. Senate Republicans blocked debate on extending funding for the federal government and raising the debt limit, forcing democratic leaders to scramble for an alternative. The Senate voted 48 to 50 to begin debate on a bill already passed by the House, which was not enough to overcome a Republican filibuster. The bill would have extended government funding through December 3rd. Republicans argue Democrats should separate the government funding extension from the debt limit and then raise the debt limit themselves. Without a funding extension, the government will shut down this Friday and it’s estimated the country will reach its limit on borrowing by the middle of next month.
Meanwhile, the House began debate yesterday on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, but a vote isn’t expected until Thursday. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said this week that President Joe Biden is proactively working with democratic leadership to make that infrastructure bill happen and a broader $3.5 trillion plan for his social welfare priorities.
He is not naive about the challenge here and how challenging this is to get these two big pieces and historic pieces of legislation across the finish line. So yes, the conversations are not just about him silently listening. I can assure you all of that. He is not a wallflower. He is engaging in conversations. He’s having discussions with leaders. He’s looking to chart a unifying path forward and there’s a give and take and a back and forth in those conversations. For all the latest, stay with the politics section on USAtoday.com/news.
The Department of Homeland Security will propose a rule today that would preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA. The rule would recreate the DACA policy as it was announced in 2012, making sure DACA recipients are not a priority for removal from the United States. The program allows children who were brought to the US without documents to receive renewable periods of deferred action from deportation. The children who are part of the program are also known as dreamers. But just a month ago, a federal judge in Texas ruled the program illegal and stopped its acceptance of applications. And the judge ruled that DACA violated the US constitution because it undermines congressional authority on immigration laws. The Biden Administration later appealed that ruling.
R. Kelly has been found guilty. The R&B star was convicted yesterday in New York on all nine counts of sex trafficking and racketeering after a six week trial. The charges were based on Kelly running a criminal enterprise to have sex with underage girls and traffic them around the country for that purpose. The charges go back decades and involve six complaining witnesses, including the late singer Aaliyah. Acting US attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis told reporters after the verdict that justice has been served.
Today’s guilty verdict forever brands R. Kelly as a predator who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification. A predator who used his inner circle to ensnare under age girls and young men and women for decades in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation, and humiliation. To the victims in this case, your voices were heard and justice was finally served.
Kelly’s attorney, Devereaux Cannick continues to try and poke holes in witness testimonies.
Of course, Mr. Kelly is disappointed. He was not anticipating this verdict because based on the evidence, why should he anticipate this verdict? When you go with a discovery, you saw witness after witnesses giving 3, 4, 5 different versions as to what they said happened here. The government cherry picked the version that they thought would be a continuation of the narrative that was first put out by Cheryl Mack and Surviving R. Kelly. I’m sure that we’re going to pursue his appellate rights and hopefully the second circuit will agree with us and not endorse this conduct.
Kelly has already been behind bars since July of 2019. And sentencing in this case isn’t expected until next May. The 54 year old could spend decades more behind bars. The verdict comes 13 years after he was acquitted of 14 counts of child pornography. He still faces federal and state charges in Illinois and Minnesota, though it’s not clear when those cases might reach a trial.
It’s Britney vs Spears. Netflix will release a new documentary today looking at Britney Spears’ fight to leave her conservatorship.
I just want my life back.
Britney’s been silenced to speak out about anything that’s really going on. Britney never had one person she could trust. Not mom. Not dad. Britney had a fear that her family would barge in and take everything. What was going on inside the conservatorship and why was she still in one if she was quote, “okay”?
The film comes a day before Britney’s next hearing. She has said that her conservatorship is suffocating and prevents her from making her own decisions, even on things like personal healthcare. Earlier this month amid pressure from the media, Britney’s fans and Britney herself, her dad, Jamie Spears filed a petition to end the conservatorship that he’s controlled at least in part for the past 13 years. But a judge will have the final say. More recently, Britney Spears has been more vocal about her personal life, announcing on social media this month that she’s engaged to Sam Asghari, her boyfriend of more than four years.
Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us right here wherever you’re listening right now, seven mornings a week. Thanks as always to Shannon Green and Claire Thornton for the great work on the show. And I’ll be back tomorrow with another edition of 5 Things here on the USA Today Network.