We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
R. Kelly is sentenced to 30 years in prison for federal racketeering, sex trafficking charges
R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday, following his conviction last year of federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges.
The disgraced R&B singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, used his status and fame to sexually abuse and imprison women and underage girls. Whispers of Kelly’s reputation had permeated the music industry for years. Still, it wasn’t until the combination of the #MeToo movement, the release of the powerful docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, and the social media campaign “Mute R. Kelly” that Kelly faced the consequences and scrutiny as survivors came forward with their stories about Kelly’s abuses.
During his 2021 trial in Brooklyn, New York, the court heard testimony from many former girlfriends about his abuse and control.
“The public has to be protected from behaviors like this,” Judge Ann M. Donnelly said when she delivered Kelly’s sentence. “These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years.”
Kelly faces a second federal trial in August in Chicago on charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice. —Gabriella Patti
AAP updates breastfeeding guidelines for the first time in a decade
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just updated its guidance on breastfeeding for the first time in ten years. The new guidelines encourage breastfeeding for two years or more “as mutually desired by mother and child” from the previous guidelines, which suggested breastfeeding should continue for a year or longer.
The organization continues to recommend exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months but has extended the overall recommendation based on evidence that shows the benefits of breastfeeding for more extended periods for both the baby and the mother.
“Human milk is all a baby needs for the first six months of life,” said Dr. Joan Younger Meek, MD, MS, RD, FAAP, FABM, IBCLC, lead author of the new recommendations. “Breast milk is unique in its nutrients and protective effects, and really quite remarkable when you look at what it does for a child’s developing immune system.”
The benefits of breastfeeding for babies continue beyond the first year. Evidence shows that breast milk is still a significant source of macronutrients and immunological factors in the second year of life, leading to fewer illnesses in general. For mothers, the benefits include decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
The AAP acknowledged in their statement that for this to be possible for mothers and their children, more societal and workforce support is needed. They encourage pediatricians to advocate for mothers and to have “nonjudgemental conversations” that acknowledge the specific circumstances of each family and mother.
“We need societal changes that will help to support this, such as paid leave, more support for breastfeeding in public and child care facilities, and workplace support,” Dr. Meek said. —GP
Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years in prison
Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate of Jeffrey Epstein found guilty of ensnaring and sexually abusing underage girls, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. In December, Maxwell was convicted on several sex-crime charges, including sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor. She was sentenced on Tuesday, receiving a prison term that was about a decade lighter than what prosecutors recommended.
“It’s been an incredibly long road to justice for myself and for many other survivors,” Sarah Ransome, one of Epstein’s accusers, said. “This is for the girls that didn’t have their say, the ones that weren’t here.”
Maxwell was first charged in 2020, nearly a year after Epstein died in jail while awaiting trial. During Maxwell’s trial, her defense had attempted to paint her as a victim of Epstein’s influence. Accusers, however, describe Maxwell as the force that turned Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking scheme into a reality. Maxwell and Epstein, whose associates have included some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world, allegedly abused scores of girls as young as 14.
In handing down her sentence, Judge Alison J. Nathan also imposed a $750,000 fine and noted that Maxwell had not expressed remorse for the harm she inflicted on so many innocent children. —Madeline Fry Schultz
January 6 hearing testimony alleges Trump knew the Capitol riot could get violent
Last week’s hearings from the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol focused on Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. This week’s testimony from Hutchinson suggested that Trump was aware that the January 6 march on the Capitol could turn ugly—and didn't do anything to stop it.
The January 6 committee on Tuesday reviewed testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, a Trump White House aide who said that President Donald Trump knew that his supporters would be arriving at the Capitol armed and still egged them on.
Hutchinson testified that though Trump had been told that supporters at his rally had been carrying weapons (which were confiscated), he told staffers to remove the metal detectors because “they’re not here to hurt me.” According to Hutchinson, Trump announced, “I don't f**king care that they have weapons,” before encouraging the crowd to march to the Capitol.
Testimony and White House records indicated that Trump planned to join his supporters at the Capitol right up until the mob grew violent.
Hutchinson also related a secondhand account alleging that after Secret Service told Trump they could not drive to the Capitol, he lunged at the steering wheel of the presidential limo and said, “I'm the f**king President. Take me up to the Capitol now.”
CNN notes, “Hutchinson's testimony established for the first time that people around Trump had advance knowledge of this plan.” —MFS
53 migrants found dead in San Antonio smuggling incident
More than 50 migrants were found dead after overheating in a tractor-trailer discovered in San Antonio on Monday. Four men are being charged for the smuggling scheme that resulted in 67 people from Mexico and Central America being packed into the truck and transported through Texas. The victims came from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and some are still being identified. More than a dozen survivors have been hospitalized.
This was the deadliest smuggling incident in U.S. history, which included in 2017 and 2003 in which 10 and 19 migrants, respectively, suffocated or overheated in trucks. On Monday, the temperature in San Antonio was nearly 100 degrees.
"This was a crime against humanity. This was nothing but pure evil, that someone could allow this to happen, to anyone, let alone that many people," San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said.
The tragic incident has reignited America’s ongoing immigration debate. Texas Governor Greg Abbott erroneously blamed President Joe Biden’s “open border” policies for the deaths. Also this week, the Supreme Court struck down former President Donald Trump’s Title 42 or “remain in Mexico” policy, which forced illegal immigrants and asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims were being processed. —MFS
Good News of the Week
A new mom’s workplace showed flexiblity for childcare, with uplifting results for everyone. Today reports:
“One mom was worried about balancing her new job as an assistant basketball coach at a small college just after she welcoming a baby boy, but her new boss had a simple solution: Just bring him to work! The results were too cute: Little Aiden made new friends with the whole men’s basketball team at St. Leo University in Florida and brought a lot of smiles to the court.”
In the photos accompanying the Today story, one can see how much joy a baby can bring just by simply being in the same room—and how much wonder a baby can experience in friendly new spaces! Cheers to supportive workplaces and accomodating associates. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Watch of the Week
Sometimes we just need to remember how gorgeous a peony is in bloom.