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October 22, 2018

WikiLeaks founder and longtime resident of Ecuador's London embassy Julian Assange now has to pay for his own medical bills and phone calls, clean up his bathroom and living area, and take care of his cat, including paying for its food and cleaning the litter. Assange is suing Ecuador and its foreign minister, Jose Valencia, arguing that the new protocols are unfair and were created without his input. The obligations to clean up after his cat are particularly "denigrating," his lawyer Baltasar Garzón said at a news conference in Quito on Friday.

Assange sought asylum in Ecuador's London embassy in 2012, evading a Swedish arrest warrant for suspected sexual assault. Sweden later dropped the investigation, but Britain says it will arrest him if he leaves the embassy for violating the terms of his bail. Assange, who gave a boost to President Trump during the 2016 election, has said he believes Britain would extradite him to the U.S. to face prosecution for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents. Ecuador granted Assange, an Australian national, citizenship in 2017, then briefly tried to name him to a diplomatic post in Russia, Reuters reports.

Assange "has been held in inhuman conditions for more than six years," Garzón said. "Even people who are imprisoned have phone calls paid for by the state." He also said Assange hasn't had internet access since March, contradicting a statement from WikiLeaks last week. Garzón did not say who has been cleaning up after Assange's cat for six years. Valencia, named in the lawsuit because he is the intermediary between Assange and Ecuador's government, said Ecuador "will respond in an appropriate manner," but "the protocol is in line with international standards and Ecuadorian law." Peter Weber

3:42 p.m.

Count Fox News host Chris Wallace among those who think Attorney General William Barr is going too far in playing defense for President Trump in the face of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings.

Wallace said on Friday that Barr's press conference about Mueller's report on seemed "to go against the grain of what Robert Mueller was suggesting in his own report," especially on the topic of obstruction of justice. While Mueller's report said the investigation had not definitively ruled on whether Trump obstructed justice in his effort to influence and shut down the probe into Russian election interference, Barr characterized the conclusions as too vague to merit further scrutiny.

Barr's insistence that Trump deserves to be let off the hook "seems even more troubling, and perhaps even more politically charged when you read the report," said Wallace.

"The reason that Robert Mueller didn't make a finding on obstruction wasn't because he didn't feel capable of doing it, but because he thought in direct contradiction to what Bill Barr said yesterday," that further action should be left to Congress, Wallace continued.

Watch Wallace's comments below, via Fox News. Summer Meza

3:25 p.m.

Despite House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) trying to shut the door on impeachment this week, some Democrats are still trying to keep it open.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) is the latest Congressional Democrat to advocate for the impeachment of President Trump, appearing on MSNBC on Friday and making it clear he disagrees with Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

"I believe impeachable offenses have been committed," Cohen told MSNBC's Hallie Jackson. "And I believe it's worthwhile to put in history's files what this man has done, and impeach him. But I don't think it's going to happen politically."

Cohen also expressed little faith that the Department of Justice will comply with Democrats' subpoena for the full Mueller report: "[I'm about] as confident as I am that the sun's gonna stop shining."

He also suggested considering a censure, which he said would at least put a "historical note" to Trump's conduct.

Cohen's Democratic colleague Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, echoed his concerns over the report on MSNBC, "begging" voters to pay attention to Mueller's findings.

"I often say that people are going to look back at this time 200 years from now and ask the question, 'What did you do to reverse this?'" Cummings said.

Watch Cohen's MSNBC appearance on Mediaite, and watch Cummings below. Marianne Dodson

2:45 p.m.

This year's flu season is shaping up to be record-breaking in duration, despite a sharp decrease in the number of flu-related deaths from last year, reports The Associated Press.

A surprise second wave has drawn this year's season out to 21 weeks and counting, making it the longest in a decade and one of the longest seasons since the government started tracking seasons 20 years ago.

Despite the longer season, the number of deaths has significantly dipped from last year. An estimated 35,000-50,000 Americans have died from issues related to the disease in 2018-19, compared to 80,000 in 2017-18, per AP. Last year's season lasted 19 weeks and was the deadliest in 40 years.

Although an unpredictable virus, representative for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Lynnette Brammer says this year's flu season should be nearing its end, per AP. Marianne Dodson

2:01 p.m.

A federal judge ruled on Friday that residents of Flint, Michigan, can move forward with a lawsuit against the federal government regarding the city's lack of clean drinking water, reports The Associated Press.

The government is not immune from legal action, ruled Judge Linda Parker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She didn't rule that the government was negligent in 2014 when Flint's drinking water first became contaminated with lead, but said the Environmental Protection Agency could be sued by residents who have criticized the slow response to the crisis.

EPA employees knew lead was leaching from old pipes, said Parker, per The Hill, and the "lies went on for months while the people of Flint continued to be poisoned." Summer Meza

1:59 p.m.

Academy-award winning actress Emma Thompson joined climate change activists in London on Friday to cap off a week full of protests against British inaction on climate change, reports Reuters.

Thompson joined the group Extinction Rebellion, which has been leading protests throughout the week, resulting in traffic disruptions and the arrest of more than 570 people, per Reuters.

The group has called for nonviolent civil disobedience in an attempt to persuade lawmakers to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025, reports Reuters.

The actress said she was inspired to partake in the protests after seeing activists across the country this week. Thompson took time at the protest to read poetry celebrating the beauty of the earth.

"This is the most pressing and urgent problem of our time, in the history of the human race," Thompson said. "I have seen the evidence for myself and I really care about my children and grandchildren enough to want to be here today to stand with the next generation." Marianne Dodson

1:22 p.m.

Aspiring instagram influencers — maybe don't quit your day job just yet.

Instagram has considered doing away with publicly showing the number of likes on photos, reports The Verge. The feature, which is not currently being tested publicly, is part of an exploratory effort by the company to focus more on what is being shared versus how many likes are received.

The potential change is also an attempt to remove some distress that comes with Instagram.

Concerns over both mental and physical health have arisen due to the pervasiveness of social media platforms like Instagram. A recent proposal in the U.K. has suggested placing limits on letting users under 18 "like" posts on Facebook and Instagram or hold "streaks" on Snapchat, reports the BBC.

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said in 2016 that one of the reasons for the creation of Instagram Stories was to alleviate the pressure of receiving likes, reports Fast Company.

The potential shift in likes, which was uncovered by researcher Jane Manchun Wong, is currently only being tested internally, per Fast Company. Marianne Dodson

11:53 a.m.

The three beehives that inhabit Notre Dame remain abuzz after this week's devastating fire that sent much of the famous cathedral up in flames.

The hives were untouched by the blaze, CNN reports, since they are located nearly 30 meters below the roof where the fire spread. Each hive houses around 60,000 bees.

Had the beehives been closer to the fire and reached higher temperatures, the bees would likely have died due to melting wax, beekeeper Nicolas Geant told CNN. But because bees don't have human-like lungs, the smoke itself was not enough to cause them to perish, says Geant.

Geant told CNN he couldn't confirm with absolute certainty if all the bees had survived, but he's optimistic since the hives themselves did not burn and bees have been seen flying in and out.

"I was incredibly sad about Notre Dame because it's such a beautiful building, and as a Catholic it means a lot to me. But to hear there is life when it comes to the bees, that's just wonderful. I was overjoyed," Geant said. "Thank goodness the flames didn't touch them. It's a miracle!" Marianne Dodson

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