For the love of cats
We woke up today to the news that Julian Assange was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service on Thursday and that he was initially taken into custody at a central London police station. BBC News has been following the story and reports that Assange appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where he was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court. He also faces US conspiracy charges.
As for those US charges, Richard Pérez-Peña reports at The New York Times that Assange has been charged with conspiracy to hack a government computer (101,000+ shares). He notes, “It is not an espionage charge, a significant detail that will come as a relief to press freedom advocates. The United States government had considered until at least last year charging him with an espionage-related offense.”
How were the British authorities able to arrest him? Apparently, his Ecuadorean hosts had had enough and evicted him. Based on the reporting, Patrick LaForge says Assange is “Not a great houseguest, apparently.” You’ll have to read the story to understand why James Crabtree refers to him as “Julian Assange, cat neglecter.”
“Only one story that could push Brexit off our frontpage,” as Lisa O’Carroll says, and you can read more in Kate Lyons’ coverage at The Guardian, Julian Assange arrested at Ecuadorian embassy. A lot (or nothing) can happen in a short time: “Apparently Julian Assange’s internet access has been cut off since March so he probably thinks we’ve left the EU,” Jessica Elgot points out.
On Twitter, Cyrus Farivar shares, “Here’s the Assange indictment, unsealed today in EDVA. And today's @NBCNews story. And the time I tried to interview Assange for @arstechnica back in 2013 ago at the Ecuadorean Embassy. He didn’t show.” The NBC News story is by Alex Johnson and Patrick Smith, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested by police in London.
Mr. WikiLeaks has lost his pizzazz
In their coverage for The Washington Post, James McAuley, Karla Adam and Ellen Nakashima quote Sebastián Hurtado of a political consulting firm Prófitas, who says, of Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno, “I think the president has never been comfortable with Assange in the embassy. And it’s not like this is an important issue for most Ecuadorans. To be honest, we really don’t care about Assange.”
Kevin Poulsen of The Daily Beast, who’s been covering Wikileaks from the beginning, explains How Ecuador Finally Got Sick of WikiLeaks Founder and Ended His Refuge at the Embassy in London. As Sue O’Connell tweets, “Mystery solved. It was the cat, in the embassy, with the litter box.” Also says Tony Peyser, “Mr. WikiLeaks no longer possesses pizzazz at All. With his notorious body odor, I thought they’d send in a team from hazmat.” The shorter version: “World’s most obnoxious man,” tweets Tunku Varadarajan. Andrew Feinberg offers this “PSA: If you are tracking the Assange arrest story but don’t follow @kpoulsen you are making a mistake (especially if a CFAA charge is involved). Few people understand this stuff better than he does.”
Evicting the National Enquirer
Sarah Ellison and Marc Fisher of The Washington Post have the scoop that the National Enquirer is expected to be sold imminently as its parent company AMI faces pressure. They reveal that the hedge fund manager whose firm controls AMI became “disgusted” with the magazine’s reporting tactics. And really, how could they possibly have known?
An alternate headline, offered by Jason Schwartz: “Hedge fund manager who owns National Enquirer shocked to discover he owns National Enquirer.” More than a few people had the same idea as Garance Franke-Ruta, who tweets, “Jeff Bezos should buy it and give all its secrets to the Washington Post for followup reporting.”
And speaking of Bezos, the scoop from Erica Orden and Shimon Prokupecz of CNN is that Jeff Bezos will meet with federal prosecutors on extortion and hacking claims. Tweets Orden, “Meeting between Jeff Bezos & SDNY signals that prosecutors are escalating inquiry connected to Bezos's suggestion that Saudi Arabia was behind a National Enquirer story that exposed his affair & his claim that the tabloid attempted to extort him.”
Because of course
Next up, Clara Jeffery asks, “Can we end the myth of she's just an impartial federal judge who happens to have a ginormous compound next to Mar-a-Lago thing now? Because of course.” The “impartial” federal judge in question is Donald Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry. Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig of The New York Times report, Retiring as a Judge, Trump’s Sister Ends Court Inquiry Into Her Role in Tax Dodges.
Robert Maguire says, “Can we all just appreciate for a moment that the older sister of the sitting President of the United States just retired so as to avoid an inquiry into a decades-long tax fraud scheme she participated in *with the President* (who is still in office).” For the record, Craig confirms on Twitter: “Getting a lot of questions on this. No, The NYT did not time publication of this article so it would run on National Siblings Day.”
Tax Day is around the corner, and there’s good news if you’re a corporation. Kathryn Kranhold reports at NBC News that twice as many companies are paying zero taxes under the Trump tax plan. She writes, “At least 60 companies reported that their 2018 federal tax rates amounted to effectively zero, or even less than zero, on income earned on U.S. operations, according to an analysis released today by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.” Among those lucky companies are Amazon, Netflix, Chevron, Eli Lilly and Deere. (This story was originally published by the Center for Public Integrity.)
They hear you when...
If you’ve been wondering whether anyone is listening to you on Alexa, the short answer is “sometimes.” At Bloomberg, Matt Day, Giles Turner and Natalia Drozdiak write about the global team of Amazon workers who review audio clips in an effort to help the voice-activated assistant respond to commands. And “Occasionally the listeners pick up things Echo owners likely would rather stay private: a woman singing badly off key in the shower, say, or a child screaming for help.”
Max Chafkin thinks, “this seems like the kind of thing you should tell customers,” but Nick Confessore points out, “There is no basic privacy law in the US, which means companies like Amazon can do this, and not even tell you, as long as they don’t actually lie to you about it.” On the plus side, Frank Tantillo says, “As a parent of two (nearly) teenagers, I'm thrilled that anyone in my house is listening to me.” But for those who aren’t happy about it, Alex Wayne has a solution: “Alexa, throw yourself in the black hole.”
She made the impossible possible
Thanks to Katie Bouman, we now know what a black hole looks like. BBC News introduces us to Bouman, the 29-year-old computer scientist behind the first black hole image. She started making the algorithm three years ago while she was a graduate student at MIT. Tweets Reshma Saujani, “When we get girls into #STEM, they will do the impossible! So incredibly excited for Dr. Katie Bouman and her work to get the first picture of a #blackhole that was captured by the #EventHorizonTelescope and rendered by HER algorithm. #WomenInSTEM.”
Michelle Lou and Saeed Ahmed of CNN have more on Bouman in their story, That image of a black hole you saw everywhere today? Thank this grad student for making it possible (216,000+ shares). “Congrats to Katie Bouman for making history today and for reminding everyone why it’s essential to encourage more young girls to pursue an education in science,” tweets Darla Murray.
A few more
Sudan military coup topples ruler after protests, reports BBC News, and reporting by Gerry Mullany of The New York Times confirms, Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been removed as Sudan’s president. Tweets Nicholas Kristof, “Sudan has ousted President Omar al-Bashir, the butcher of Darfur, the man responsible for genocide in Darfur and in South Sudan, one of the most odious people of the 21st century. Sudanese people did this themselves with protests and raw undaunted courage.”
Julia Arciga, Kelly Weill and Adam Rawnsley of The Daily Beast report that Holden Matthews has been arrested in a string of Louisiana church fires. His arrest was first reported by local news outlet KATC. The son of a St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputy, Matthews “took an interest in black metal and pagan social media pages, which had connections to neo-Nazism and white supremacy.” As Arciga tweets, “.@KELLYWEILL and @arawnsley found Holden Matthews’ social media, which showed some connections to neo-Nazism and white supremacy.”
The latest from Kenneth Vogel at The New York Times, lawyers for ex-Obama counsel Greg Craig expect him to be charged soon in a Mueller-related case. The charges are related to his work for the Russia-aligned government of Ukraine.
In an interview with Lisa Mascaro of The Associated Press, Nancy Pelosi said she doesn’t trust William Barr and that his comments undermine his role. Alexandra Jaffe also notices, “Pelosi leaves door open on impeachment in great @LisaMascaro interview: ‘My view is that impeachment is very divisive in the country, and when we see what we need to see it may be imperative that he be impeached. But up until then, he’s not worth it.’”
The latest on Brexit from BBC News: UK and EU agree delay to 31 October. “Followed by the Day of the Dead. Does the EU have a black sense of humour?” Mike Gerrard wonders.