January 12, 2017

WikiLeaks tweeted Thursday that founder Julian Assange would agree to be extradited to the U.S. from his hideout at the Ecuadorean embassy in London — if President Obama grants Chelsea Manning clemency:

Assange could potentially face the death penalty in the United States due to the fact that WikiLeaks released massive numbers of classified documents pertaining to the Afghan and Iraq wars in 2010.

Manning, a former U.S. Army soldier and whistle-blower, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. It was reported Wednesday that she is on the "short list" for commutation before Obama leaves office. Edward Snowden, who leaked confidential materials from the NSA, has also pleaded for Obama to free Manning before Trump assumes the White House. Jeva Lange

3:16 p.m.

Emilia Clarke is trading in dragons for Skrulls as she heads to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Game of Thrones star is in negotiations to join Marvel's upcoming Disney+ series Secret Invasion, according to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. The show is set to revolve around the infiltration of Earth by shape-shifting aliens and will see Samuel L. Jackson reprise his role of Nick Fury from Marvel's films. Ben Mendelsohn is also returning as Talos, his Skrull character from 2019's Captain Marvel, while Kingsley Ben-Adir will play the main villain, per Variety.

This would be Clarke's first role in the Marvel universe after she played Daenerys Targaryen on HBO's Game of Thrones for eight seasons, though she's no stranger to non-Thrones franchises, having also starred in Terminator and Star Wars films. She'll also be another Thrones cast member to head into Marvel's world, as Jon Snow actor Kit Harington and Robb Stark actor Richard Madden are set to make their MCU debuts in Eternals this November.

It hasn't been revealed who Clarke might play in Secret Invasion, but her reported casting comes just a day after it was revealed that the show was adding another major star: Olivia Colman. At this point, the day when it's simpler just to keep track of who isn't in the Marvel universe rather than who is might be fast approaching. Brendan Morrow

3:13 p.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is calling on investor Leon Cooperman to come face her and other lawmakers in a Senate Finance Committee hearing next week.

Cooperman, a billionaire investor and one of Warren's most prominent critics, is considering her invitation, which he received via a letter from Warren on Monday, reports CNBC. The subcommittee, chaired by Warren, has titled the April 27 hearing "Creating Opportunity Through a Fairer Tax System" in hopes of discussing the senator's wealth tax proposal.

Warren and Cooperman clashed during Warren's presidential campaign as a wealth tax became a central pillar of her campaign. Warren's latest Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act proposal seeks to "level the playing field and narrow the racial wealth gap" through increased taxes for the top 0.05 percent, she says. With a net worth of over $2 billion, Cooperman would be affected by the bill, which proposes a 3 percent annual tax on wealth exceeding $1 billion.

Cooperman previously argued Warren had no regard for the American Dream, and participated in an emotional 2019 interview with CNBC decrying her proposal and her "vilification of billionaires." In return, Warren's campaign created a mug with the tagline "BILLIONAIRE TEARS."

In a March 2021 interview, Cooperman told CNBC that if Warren's tax proposal passes, Americans should buy gold as a way of "hiding their wealth," and said while he believes the wealthy should pay more, Warren's strategy is an idea with "no merit." The saga may come to an end if Cooperman agrees to face lawmakers in the congressional hearing, where Warren plans to allow Cooperman to voice his concerns about her bill. Warren has requested he RSVP by Thursday. Anne St. Jean

2:21 p.m.

Johnson & Johnson is set to resume shipments of its COVID-19 vaccine in Europe as the pause in the U.S. continues.

The European Medicines Agency on Tuesday said that "unusual blood clots" should be "listed as very rare side effects" of Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, but it determined the vaccine's benefits "outweigh the risks of side effects," Axios and The New York Times report.

The agency, after reviewing eight cases of rare blood clots among the millions of people in the United States who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, found a "possible link" between the vaccine and the blood clots, but it said the "risk of having this side effect is very low."

"Healthcare professionals and people who will receive the vaccine should be aware of the possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within three weeks of vaccination," the agency also said.

U.S. health officials last week called for a pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while they examined these rare blood clotting cases. Johnson & Johnson says it will now resume shipment of its vaccine in the European Union, Norway, and Iceland. Meanwhile, the Times notes that an expert panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is set to meet later this week, and Dr. Anthony Fauci has predicted the vaccine's pause won't extend beyond this Friday. Brendan Morrow

2:09 p.m.

Archaeologist Julie Schablitsky believes she has found the site on Maryland's Eastern Shore where Harriet Tubman lived with her family during her teenage years, state and federal officials announced Tuesday, per The Washington Post.

Schablitsky, who works for Maryland's State Highway Administration, had been searching in the isolated area in Dorchester County for signs of the long-vanished cabin for some time when she found a coin from 1808 with her metal detector that suggested she had finally hit the jackpot. After that, officials said, bricks, pottery, a button, and a slew of other household items — all dated to the right time — further pointed to the location being the site of the property owned by Tubman's father, Ben Ross, whose enslaver freed him and granted him the piece of land. Tubman and her siblings were still enslaved (and their parents were far from safe) while they sheltered there.

The discovery is likely a crucial one and should help provide a lot of context to the famed abolitionist's story, experts told the Post. The wooded area where the cabin stood became Tubman's "classroom," biographer Kate Clifford Larson told the Post, explaining that it's likely where, with the help of her "committed" father, Tubman learned how to survive in such terrain and "read the night sky," skills that aided her during her days as a clandestine Underground Railroad conductor. Read more about the discovery at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

12:40 p.m.

With the jury now sequestered and cut off from the outside world, President Biden felt comfortable weighing in on Derek Chauvin's murder trial Tuesday.

Biden said he's praying for the "right verdict" and that the "evidence is overwhelming," indicating he believes Chauvin was responsible for George Floyd's death last May. He added that he has also spoken to Floyd's family over the phone.

Although Biden's stance on the trial seems clear, he once again called for "peace and tranquility" in response to the verdict, no matter what it is, amid government concerns about a potentially violent public reaction to an acquittal.

Some observers questioned Biden's choice to opine on the trial at all, even with the jury unable to access the public discourse at this point. Tim O'Donnell

12:26 p.m.

On Tuesday, Canada extended its border restrictions until May 21, according to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. Only essential travel will be permitted across Canada's border with the U.S., reports Reuters, continuing restrictions that have been in place since March 2020.

Canadian border restrictions have proven disastrous for residents of Minnesota's Northwest Angle, a geographical oddity surrounded on three sides by Canada, with a body of water on the fourth side. The Angle's only connection to land is its border with Canada's Manitoba province, but due to a surveyor's error, it's considered the northernmost part of Minnesota. As Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.) explained in a Star Tribune op-ed, border restrictions have cut the 120-odd residents off from friends and family in the U.S. hoping to visit by road, devastated the local fishing lodges and other tourist attractions, and made it nearly impossible for residents to buy groceries or receive medical care without risking being stranded away from their homes.

Residents have pleaded with Canadian officials to open the 80-kilometer passage in Manitoba to allow tourists into the Angle, reports CBC News. Tourism has been deemed non-essential in Canada's border restrictions, but in the tourism-based economy of the Northwest Angle, it's about as essential as it gets. Beyond business concerns, residents report being separated from their families while waiting days for negative results from molecular COVID-19 tests.

"With the eyes of the national media focused on the chaos at America's southern border, few have any idea this problem exists," writes Fischbach. "But the northern border is in crisis, too." Anne St. Jean

12:12 p.m.

Ted Nugent, who falsely claimed the COVID-19 pandemic isn't "real" and says he's refusing to get vaccinated, has now tested positive for COVID-19.

In a Facebook video, the singer revealed he tested positive for the coronavirus after having flu-like symptoms for the past 10 days.

"I thought I was dying," Nugent said, adding that he could "hardly crawl out of bed the last few days."

Nugent has falsely claimed that COVID-19 is "not a real pandemic," a "scam," and a "hoax," while labeling those who wear masks "sheep." He has also questioned why the U.S. wasn't "shut down for COVID one through 18," even though the 19 in COVID-19 refers to the year the virus was identified. Apparently because of these past comments, Nugent in his Facebook video said "everybody told me I should not announce" that he tested positive.

Even though every adult in the U.S. is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Nugent also said that he hasn't gotten one, falsely claiming that "nobody knows" what's in the vaccines. And he suggested that it served no real purpose for him to find out he had COVID-19, despite the fact that he also said he's quarantining after learning his diagnosis. Nugent ended his video, during which he coughed multiple times, by declaring he would now go "pee off my deck." Brendan Morrow

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