First Thing: Musk ‘lied’ when he tweeted about Tesla takeover, attorney argues | US news

Good morning.

As arguments began in the San Francisco trial alleging that Elon Musk deceptively drove up the price of Tesla’s stock, the attorney for a group of shareholders suggested the businessman “lied” when he tweeted in 2018 that he had secured funding to take the company private.

The case seeks to hold the firm’s chief executive responsible for “billions” investors say they lost after Musk tweeted about a plan to take the carmaker private, which never came to pass. He could end up taking the stand as early as tomorrow.

While the plaintiffs portrayed Musk as a reckless liar who caused “regular people” to lose millions, the defense team for the tech billionaire painted him as a well-intentioned visionary who merely used the “wrong words” in describing the deal.

Glen Littleton, a Tesla investor, is seeking damages on behalf of shareholders who traded the company’s stock in the days after Musk tweeted the claim in August 2018.

  • What’s Musk’s defence? Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, said the controversial chief executive was “serious” about the deal. “You will come to learn very soon that this was not fraud, not even close,” he said during opening statements. Musk believed financing was not an issue and was “taking steps” to make a deal happen, Spiro added.

Jacinda Ardern resigns as prime minister of New Zealand

Jacinda Ardern
‘I am human, politicians are human. We give all that we can for as long as we can. And then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.’ Photograph: Getty Images

The New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has said she is resigning, in an unexpected announcement that came as she confirmed a national election for October.

At the party’s annual caucus meeting on Thursday, Ardern said she “no longer had enough in the tank” to do the job. “It’s time,” she added.

“I’m leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility. The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple,” she said.

Her term as prime minister will conclude no later than 7 February but she will continue as an MP until the election.

Ardern became the world’s youngest female head of government when she was elected prime minister in 2017 at 37. She has led New Zealand through the Covid-19 pandemic, and various disasters including the terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch, and the White Island volcanic eruption.

  • What did Ardern say when she made her announcement? “I am human, politicians are human. We give all that we can for as long as we can. And then it’s time. And for me, it’s time,” she said. The prime minister said she had reflected over the summer break on whether she had the energy to continue in the role, and had concluded she did not.

Germany will send tanks to Ukraine if US agrees to do same

German-made Leopard 2 tanks are lined up after a joint exercise between the Polish and US armies last year.
German-made Leopard 2 tanks are lined up after a joint exercise between the Polish and US armies last year. Photograph: NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

Germany will send German-made tanks to Ukraine so long as the US agrees to do likewise, a government source in Berlin has told Reuters, as Nato partners remain out of step over how best to arm Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Ukraine has pleaded for modern western weapons, particularly heavy battle tanks, so it can regain momentum after battlefield successes in the second half of 2022 against Russian forces that invaded last February.

Berlin has veto power over any decision to export its Leopard tanks, fielded by Nato-allied armies across Europe and seen by defence experts as the most suitable for Ukraine.

Several times in recent days, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, had stressed, behind closed doors, the condition that US tanks should also be sent to Ukraine, the German government source said on condition of anonymity.

  • How has the US responded? When asked about Germany’s stance, Joe Biden’s spokesperson, Karine Jean-Pierre, said: “The president believes each country should make their own sovereign decisions on what steps of security assistance and what kinds of equipment they are able to provide Ukraine.”

In other news …

Julian Sands attends The Painted Bird photocall at the 76th Venice film festival in September 2019.
Julian Sands attends The Painted Bird photocall at the 76th Venice film festival in September 2019. Photograph: Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis/Getty Images
  • The British actor Julian Sands has been reported missing after hiking in the San Gabriel mountains on Friday, according to the San Bernardino county sheriff’s department. The 65-year-old, known for his roles in A Room with a View, The Killing Fields, and Naked Lunch, lives in North Hollywood.

  • Chinese cyber authorities have announced a censorship crackdown to ensure there are no “gloomy sentiments” caused by “rumours” during the lunar new year festival. It came as the health forecasting firm Airfinity estimated more than 600,000 people had died since zero-Covid restrictions were lifted.

  • The US government’s star witness in a corruption trial over the broadcasting rights to some of soccer’s biggest events testified yesterday how he and two former Fox executives paid millions of dollars in bribes to undermine competing bids.

  • Donald Trump has petitioned Meta to restore his access to Facebook, as he reportedly looks to shift his 2024 presidential campaign into a higher gear. The former president was banned from Facebook more than two years ago, after his followers attacked the US Capitol.

Stat of the day: Usain Bolt’s lawyers say $12.7m is missing from Olympic champion’s account

Usain Bolt during during the Grand Prix in the United Arab Emirates last year.
Usain Bolt is a multiple Olympic and world champion. Photograph: De Coster Georges/ATP/SPP/REX/Shutterstock

A lawyer for Usain Bolt has said more than $12.7m is missing from his account with a private investment firm in Jamaica. Linton P Gordon, a lawyer for the former athlete, provided the Associated Press with a copy of a letter sent to Stocks & Securities demanding that the money be returned. Gordon said the Olympic champion’s account once had $12.8m but now reflected a balance of only $12,000. “If this is correct, and we are hoping it is not, then a serious act of fraud larceny or a combination of both have been committed against our client,” Bolt’s lawyers say in the letter. They threaten civil and criminal action if the money is not returned within 10 days.

Don’t miss this: ‘It felt good to be needed’ – how getting a cat prepared me for motherhood

A sad-looking kitten, sitting
‘Looking after a kitten made me happy at a very difficult time.’ Photograph: Prabhjot Kaur/Getty Images/EyeEm

When everyone else I knew seemed to be pregnant and I was not, I used to fantasize about responding to their baby photos with pictures of Mackerel, my cat, writes Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett. Perhaps this was an illustration of how I was mean, then. I certainly felt mean, or at least jealous. I left WhatsApp groups, I skived baby showers. I was very happy for people in public, and then went home and cried. At the same time, I wasn’t sure if I should become a mother. It was a very confusing time. You could call it a personal crisis, but that makes it sound unique. I think lots of women go through it: the push-pull of wanting and fearing. I was all fear.

… or this: Are cows at sea the future of farming?

Floating Farm illustration.
Cows at Floating Farm nourish the local community without using any land. Illustration: Yuanyuan Zhou/the Guardian

Samuel L Jackson can have his snakes on a plane. Peter and Minke van Wingerden have concocted something even wilder: a herd of cows floating on the sea. The Dutch husband and wife team’s experiment on sustainable agriculture, a hi-tech micro-dairy called Floating Farm, can be found bobbing in the port of Rotterdam. The modernist structure houses 40 Maas-Rijn-Ijssel cows, who collectively produce 200 gallons (757 liters) of milk a day. In addition to helping nourish the local community, the waterborne farm is playing a part in the global conversation about how the climate crisis is pushing farmers to reconsider how – and where – they produce food, writes Matthew Kronsberg.

Climate check: More than 90% of rainforest carbon offsets by biggest provider are worthless, analysis shows

An aerial view of a burning area of Amazon rainforest reserve, south of Novo Progresso in Para state, Brazil.
The Alto Mayo protection forest in Moyobamba, Peru, was supposed to be a flagship offsetting project but has faced human rights issues. Composite: Guardian Design

The forest carbon offsets approved by the world’s leading provider and used by Disney, Shell, Gucci and other big corporations are largely worthless and could make global heating worse, according to an investigation. The research into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard for the rapidly growing $2bn voluntary offsets market, has found that, based on analysis of a significant proportion of the projects, more than 90% of their rainforest offset credits – among the most commonly used by companies – are likely to be “phantom credits” and do not represent genuine carbon reductions, writes Patrick Greenfield.

Last thing: Kim Kardashian buys Attallah Cross pendant worn by Diana, Princess of Wales

Diana wore the Garrard pendant at a London charity gala in 1987.
Diana wore the Garrard pendant at a London charity gala in 1987. Photograph: Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

Kim Kardashian has acquired the Attallah Cross worn by Diana, Princess of Wales, after the pendant went on sale at Sotheby’s London. The 1920s pendant by the luxury jewellery designer Garrard, worn on several occasions by Diana, sold for £163,800 yesterday. The amethyst cross was reportedly competed for by four bidders during the last five minutes of the sale and was ultimately bought by a representative for Kardashian, the auction house confirmed. The pendant, which was most famously worn by Diana at a London charity gala in October 1987, sold for more than double its pre-auction estimate.

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