Julian Assange Gets A(nother) Day in Court

Happy Friday! Your Morning Dispatchers are no saints when it comes to being “too online,” but we humbly submit that insisting the Gonzaga men’s basketball team is actually buses of “illegal invaders” might be a sign it’s time to touch grass

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with House Speaker Mike Johnson on Thursday, urging House Republicans to pass additional aid to Ukraine. “In this situation, quick passage of U.S. aid to Ukraine by Congress is vital,” Zelensky tweeted following the call. “We recognize that there are differing views in the House of Representatives on how to proceed, but the key is to keep the issue of aid to Ukraine as a unifying factor.” Johnson said last week that he’d take up the issue once the House returns on April 9. Meanwhile, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said yesterday that continued U.S.  aid to Ukraine is essential in deterring Chinese action against Taiwan. 
  • A three-judge federal district court panel ruled Thursday that South Carolina can use a new congressional map for this year’s election, pausing enforcement of an earlier decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina that found the new maps include a district that “constitutes an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.” The Supreme Court heard a case in October brought by a chapter of the NAACP alleging the district harmed black voters, but has yet to issue a decision. “With the primary election procedures rapidly approaching, the appeal before the Supreme Court still pending, and no remedial plan in place, the ideal must bend to the practical,” the South Carolina judges wrote.
  • Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters crashed within 48 hours of each other earlier this week. One helicopter crashed on Wednesday during routine training at an Army base in Colorado, the base announced, injuring two pilots. The incident followed an Apache helicopter crash at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state during training exercises on Monday, which left two pilots with injuries of undisclosed severity. Both incidents are under investigation.
  • The White House Office of Management and Budget on Thursday announced revisions to the U.S. Census questions about race and ethnicity that will take effect for the 2030 head count.* The census will now have one combined question about race and ethnicity, and respondents will be directed to “select all that apply,” encouraging people to choose multiple racial categories if they feel more than one applies. Middle Eastern and North African will be new categories added to the race and ethnicity list, and Hispanic, previously considered only an ethnicity, will be included in the new combined race and ethnicity list.
  • Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was sentenced on Thursday to 25 years in prison for fraud related to the collapse of his digital currency platform. A Manhattan jury convicted Bankman-Fried in November on seven criminal counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and money laundering, among other charges, finding that the 31-year-old stole some $10 billion from customers and investors. 

Getting Up to Speed On Julian Assange’s Potential Extradition   

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at the Westminster Magistrates Court in London on April 11, 2019. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at the Westminster Magistrates Court in London on April 11, 2019. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

There are lots of words one might use to describe the nearly 15-year Julian Assange saga, but perhaps the very least we can say is that “messy” is among them.

The founder of WikiLeaks is facing extradition to the United States from the United Kingdom for 17 charges under the U.S. Espionage Act and one charge of computer misuse, after he published hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents that former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning leaked in 2010. This week, a British court temporarily delayed Assange’s extradition, but set up what could be the final decision point for the man who’s spent the last decade trying to avoid extradition to two different countries. 

To get us up to speed: The story of Assange’s current legal battle begins in 2010, at the height of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning, then a private first class in the Army, went to WikiLeaks—a website Assange started in 2006 as a repository for leaked documents and emails from governments and organizations around the world—with hundreds of thousands of “significant action” reports detailing U.S. military engagement in Iraq. Manning later submitted classified diplomatic cables and a video of a U.S. Apache helicopter strike on Iraqi insurgents that also killed two Reuters employees. 

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