Morning! While you were sleeping (or staying up to binge-watch Friends for the tenth time, or pulling an all-nighter in the library), a few things went down that you’ll probably want to know about. So grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and get scrolling.
What in the World
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was charged Thursday in a superseding indictment with 18 counts related to his work with former U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning.
According to the Justice Department, these new charges from a federal grand jury in northern Virginia allege that “Assange’s actions risked serious harm to United States national security to the benefit of our adversaries.”
Assange, who was arrested last month at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had spent several years trying to avoid arrest, had originally been indicted on a single-count conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge, but the grand jury’s indictment adds 17 new counts related to him working with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to publish a plethora of classified information in 2010, HuffPost reports.
Among the new charges is the allegation of conspiracy between Manning and Assange to obtain and publish national defense information in violation of the Espionage Act, which is a rare act by prosecutors against someone who has not served in the government, ABC News reports.
The indictment alleges that “after agreeing to receiving classified documents from Manning and aiding, abetting, and causing Manning to provide classified documents,” Assange published those classified documents on WikiLeaks, which, according to prosecutors, put confidential sources used by the U.S. government in danger.
Assange faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for each charge, with the exception of the conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge, ABC News reports.
Assange’s attorney, Barry Pollack, said Assange was being charged “for encouraging sources to provide him truthful information and for publishing that information.”
“These unprecedented charges demonstrate the gravity of the threat the criminal prosecution of Julian Assange poses to all journalists in their endeavor to inform the public about actions that have taken by the U.S. government,” Pollack added.
John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, made it clear to reporters Thursday that the Justice Department “takes seriously the role of journalists in our democracy,” but that Assange is not a journalist.
“Some say that Assange is a journalist and that he should be immune from prosecution for these actions. The department takes seriously the role of journalists in our democracy,” Demers told reporters. “But Julian Assange is no journalist. This is made plain by the totality of his conduct as alleged in the indictment.”
WikiLeaks reacted to the news, tweeting that this was the “end of national security journalism and the first amendment.”
This is madness. It is the end of national security journalism and the first amendment. https://t.co/wlhsmsenFw
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 23, 2019
Assange is currently serving a 50-week jail sentence in Great Britain for skipping bail and is fighting extradition back to the U.S.
News You Can Eat
Taco Bell is bringing back their “Steal a Game, Steal a Taco” promotion during the 2019 NBA Finals, and while fans may not know exactly who to root for when things tip off on May 30, we know we’re rooting for: free Doritos Locos Tacos.
“While one G.O.A.T. didn’t make it to this year’s NBA Finals (sry King James), another G.O.A.T. did: the Doritos Locos Taco,” a representative for Taco Bell wrote in a statement: “Making its fourth NBA Finals appearance, Taco Bell is bringing back its ‘Steal a Game, Steal a Taco’ promotion for the 2019 Finals.”
Under the promotion, if either team “steals” a game by winning on the road during the NBA Finals, everyone scores one free Doritos Locos Taco, Delish reports. So you definitely want to tune in for this one.
The free taco redemption is set for Tuesday, June 18 between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. According to Food & Wine, for the first time this year, if you register on Taco Bell’s website or app, you can schedule your taco pickup for all day long.
“We’re excited to partner with the league for the NBA Finals once again, allowing sports and taco fans nationwide to unite over one thing — rooting for tacos,” Marisa Thalberg, Global Chief Brand Officer at Taco Bell Corp, said in the promotional announcement. “Regardless of which two teams make it to the Finals, we look forward to giving all fans, no matter the jersey they prefer to wear, the chance to win with everyone’s G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Tacos), the Taco Bell Doritos Locos Taco.”
While some people are invested in the NBA Finals, we’re definitely invested in the free tacos.
Then This Happened
Congress has reached a deal to provide $19.1 billion in emergency aid funding for a series of natural disasters after President Donald Trump dropped his demand that border wall funding be included in the bill.
The bill will provide aid to communities across the United States that have been impacted by hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters over the past three years, including Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
The bill contains approximately $1 billion in funding for Puerto Rico: $600 million in food stamp money, which began running out earlier this year, and $304 million in Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants to rebuild homes and infrastructure, BuzzFeed News reports.
Talks for the bill hit a roadblock after Trump demanded the bill contain security funding for agencies policing the southern border, including aid for humanitarian programs supporting asylum-seekers moving across the border, The Hill reports. Democrats, however, opposed the addition of border security funding to the bill.
Congress reached a deal on an emergency relief bill, ending a prolonged impasse over billions of dollars in aid for those hit by natural disasters https://t.co/mNVxcfliCX
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 23, 2019
It appeared that a deal wouldn’t be reached Wednesday evening when Congress was getting ready to leave town for the Memorial Day weekend, but the deal came back together when Trump decided to drop his border security demands.
The Senate voted 85–8 in support of the bill Thursday afternoon, and it is expected to the House on Thursday or Friday, with Trump signing it into law by the end of the week, The Hill reports.
While Democrats have applauded this as a victory, Trump insisted during a White House press conference Thursday afternoon that he would get his border security funding eventually.
“We’re going to get the immigration money later, according to everybody,” Trump said.
It’s time for a Whole New World with the new live-action Aladdin, which hits theaters today, May 24!