September 5, 2018
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After a long wait, the third season of the hit podcast Serial is being released later this month, but it's going to be a bit different from the first two seasons.

Serial first launched in 2014 and was originally conceived as a podcast telling one story over the course of an entire season. Season one focused on the murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee. The show earned 40 million downloads in its first two months and became the most popular podcast ever. It also helped kickstart a wave of true crime documentaries and podcasts. The second season came out in 2015 and focused on the Army desertion of Bowe Bergdahl.

In its third season, Serial will tell multiple stories, though they are all set in the Cleveland criminal court system, Entertainment Weekly reports. Sarah Koenig will once again host, with reporter Emmanuel Dzotsi joining her. Some of the stories will only last one episode, while others will go on for several.

Koenig says she expects listeners to be surprised and potentially disturbed by the way the featured cases unfold, telling EW that "for the past year I've had this urgent feeling of wanting to kind of hold open the courthouse door, and wave people inside. Because things are happening — shocking things, fascinating things — in plain sight."

Serial's third season will premiere on Sept. 20. Two episodes will be released that day, and thereafter, new episodes will be available on Thursdays. You can listen to a trailer for the new season here. Brendan Morrow

April 19, 2018
AP Photo/Amr Nabil

It was the hottest ticket in Saudi Arabia — an invitation to a private screening of Black Panther in Riyadh.

On Wednesday, the first cinema to open in Saudi Arabia in more than 30 years welcomed excited moviegoers. In the 1980s, the kingdom prohibited public movie screenings, due to ultraconservative clerics labeling Western movies as sinful, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman lifted the ban amid a series of reforms. By 2030, Saudi Arabia plans on hosting 300 movie theaters with 2,000 screens.

Just two weeks ago, AMC signed a contract to open the inaugural theater, and public screenings are expected to start Friday. Government censors will have the final say on what moviegoers get to see — in Black Panther, a final scene featuring a kiss has been cut — and the theaters will likely be separated with women and related men sitting in the family section and single men in another. "It's a new era, a new age," moviegoer Rahaf Alhendi told The Associated Press. "It's that simple. Things are changing, progress is happening. We're opening up and we're catching up with everything that's happening in the world." Catherine Garcia

February 8, 2018

Twitter on Thursday reported its first quarterly net profit — $91 million — after it slashed expenses and its revenue beat analysts' expectations, Recode reported. The microblogging company's inability to start making money had confounded Wall Street, given its broad reach and popularity among celebrities and power brokers, including President Trump.

The company said it also expected to show profit, using generally accepted accounting principles, for the full year in 2018. Still, Twitter's user growth missed expectations, falling flat for the quarter at 330 million monthly active users, although that marked a 4 percent increase from a year earlier. A change to Apple's Safari web browser cost Twitter about 2 million active users. The company also stepped up efforts to reduce spam and automated or fake accounts, according to Reuters. Twitter shares shot up by 20 percent after the report. Harold Maass

December 13, 2017
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President Trump's ex-ghost-hunting federal judicial nominee — deemed "not qualified" by the American Bar Association but nevertheless approved by Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote — will not ultimately "be moving forward" in the appointment process, NPR learned from a Trump administration official Wednesday. Brett Talley, 36, was in line for a lifetime appointment despite having never tried a case in his life, only practicing law for three years, and forgetting to mention his wife is the chief of staff to White House counsel Don McGahn and thus a potential person of interest in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible obstruction of justice by Trump.

The head of the judiciary committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), urged Trump not to proceed with the nomination of Talley on Tuesday, CNN reports. The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), weighed in, saying: "I would hope that Chairman Grassley's request that the White House pull these nominations leads him to reconsider the breakneck speed at which the Judiciary Committee has been considering nominees."

The next step in Talley's nomination process would have been a full Senate vote, where it was unclear he had the support to be confirmed. Trump, on the other hand, had earlier directly praised Talley as being an "untold story" that "nobody wants to talk about." Jeva Lange

July 4, 2017
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) late Monday announced a budget deal with Democrats that would end a three-day shutdown of non-essential state government services.

"I'm saddened that it's three days late, but I'll sign the budget tonight," Christie said. The deal hinged on giving the state greater influence over the operation of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, a nonprofit that is the state's largest insurer. The agreement came after Christie faced a backlash over photographs showing him lounging with his family on a beach at a state park he had ordered closed under the shutdown. Christie dismissed the issue as "B.S., gotcha journalism," saying he made no apology for making a brief visit to his family at their summer house between budget meetings back in Trenton. Harold Maass

May 19, 2017
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Huma Abedin has filed for divorce from her husband, Anthony Weiner, the New York Daily News reports.

On Friday, Weiner pleaded guilty to a sexting scandal involving a 15-year-old girl. "I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse," he told the court in tears.

After The Daily Mail published the news last year that Weiner exchanged sexually explicit messages with a high school sophomore whom he knew was underage, the FBI got involved, seizing Weiner's laptop. That resulted in the discovery of emails on the laptop from Hillary Clinton to Abedin, a top aide to Clinton, reopening the (ultimately unchanged) FBI investigation into Clinton's handling of classified emails — which Clinton has blamed in part for her election loss.

While Weiner and Abedin, who have a 5-year-old son, have been living separately since the most recent scandal, they were reportedly "working hard" on their marriage as recently as March. Jeva Lange

March 27, 2017
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Under a proposed settlement announced Monday, the state of Michigan will pay $47 million to replace lead pipes in Flint and distribute free bottled water to residents.

The water crisis in Flint started in 2014, when the city changed its water source to the Flint River, which was contaminated and exposed residents to lead. In 2016, several activists filed a lawsuit against the state, saying officials violated the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the settlement will be reviewed Tuesday by a U.S. district judge in Detroit. In addition to the $47 million, which will be used to replace lead and galvanized steel pipes with copper service lines at 18,000 residences, bottled water will be delivered to people who are unable to leave their homes and provided at water distribution centers operating every day except Sunday. Flint residents will also still be able to have their tap water tested for free for the next four years, up to four times annually.

The state has already budgeted $40 million to cover the water crisis and set aside $10 million for any unexpected expenses. Earlier this month, Michigan was awarded a $100 million emergency grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to upgrade Flint's infrastructure; the grant was approved by Congress in December and signed into law by former President Barack Obama. Michigan State Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich of Flint called the settlement "very fair," and said he has received "assurances" the city will get enough money to replace all of its lead pipes over the next several years. "I'm gonna hold them to that," he told The Detroit News. "We'll make sure that the resources are there." Catherine Garcia

December 15, 2016
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Facebook announced Thursday its plans to address the spread of fake news, an apparent response to critics who have blamed the site for making it easy to peddle misinformation or even swing the election. The social media network has long been cautious about interfering with what gets shared, not wanting to be, as The New York Times puts it, "an arbiter of truth." But while "we really value giving people a voice … we also believe we need to take responsibility for the spread of fake news on our platform," said Adam Mosseri, a Facebook vice president.

Facebook plans to experiment with gutting fake news websites' revenue by scanning third-party links for pages that are mainly advertising, or are pretending to be another website, like a fake New York Times. Users will also be able to report posts that appear to be fake:

Users can currently report a post they dislike in their feed, but when Facebook asks for a reason, the site presents them with a list of limited or vague options, including the cryptic "I don't think it should be on Facebook." In Facebook's new experiment, users will have a choice to flag the post as fake news and have the option to message the friend who originally shared the piece to let them know the article is false.

If an article receives enough flags as fake, it can be directed to a coalition of groups that would perform fact-checking, including Poynter, Snopes, PolitiFact and ABC News, among others. Those groups will check the article and can mark it as a "disputed" piece, a designation that will be seen on Facebook.

Disputed articles will ultimately appear lower in the News Feed. If users still decide to share disputed articles, they will receive pop-ups reminding them that the accuracy of the piece is in question. [The New York Times]

Opinion pieces, or satirical ones like those published by The Onion, will not be affected by the changes, Facebook said.

"The fake cat is already out of the imaginary bag," explained Emily Bell, the director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. "If [Facebook] didn't try and do something about it, next time around it could have far worse consequences." Jeva Lange

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