TIME intelligence

Activist Defiant After Sentencing Over Stratfor Hacking

Nikki Loehr—freebarrettbrown.org Activist and journalist Barrett Brown was sentenced to five years in prison.

Barrett Brown, the activist, journalist and one-time associate of hacktivist collective Anonymous who has become an online cause célèbre, isn’t going to let prison silence him.

He was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday for threatening a federal agent on YouTube and interfering with a federal investigation related to the 2011 hack of the private intelligence firm Stratfor. On Friday, he told TIME that he planned to use his sentence to document American prison life from the inside.

“There’s things that go on there that they don’t want to talk about,” Brown told TIME in an interview from prison Friday, “so this is a great opportunity.”

Brown characterized his sentence as part of a larger problem in the United States of unjust laws and misconduct on the part of prosecutors and law enforcement.

“The prosecutor said one thing that was accurate—that I don’t have respect for the laws in this country,” he told TIME. “We have a situation in which the only way we can survive as a free nation is if our laws are not enforced.”

Brown, 33, was sentenced Thursday to five years and three months in prison and ordered to pay $890,000 in restitution and fines on charges stemming from his connection to the hack of private intelligence firm Stratfor in 2011. During the prosecution, he drew support from journalist Glenn Greenwald, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and liberal philosopher Noam Chomsky among others on a website called “Free Barrett Brown.”

In a statement released to journalists immediately after his sentence was handed down, Brown sardonically hailed the ruling as “Good news!”

”The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex,” he said, thanking the government for providing “free food, clothes and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by the Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world’s greatest prison system.”

Brown was arrested in 2012 and initially charged with aggravated identity theft and, most notably, with trafficking in stolen goods because he posted a link online to information others had pilfered in the Stratfor hack, including internal emails and credit card numbers. The latter charge drew widespread condemnation from civil rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which called the charge “a serious threat to press freedom” in a statement condemning the sentence. The stolen goods and identity theft charges were later dropped and Brown pleaded to three lesser crimes: accessory after the fact, interfering with an FBI investigation and threatening an FBI agent. The last charge resulted from YouTube rants a visibly distraught Brown posted that included threats to an FBI agent investigating Brown and his mother. The bulk of his sentence is a result of that threat.

In a statement to the judge before his sentence was handed down, Brown called the videos “idiotic” and expressed contrition over what he characterized as a lapse in judgment. “Although I made them in a manic state brought on by sudden withdrawal from Paxil and Suboxone, and while distraught over the threats to prosecute my mother, that’s still me in those YouTube clips talking nonsense about how the FBI would never take me alive,” Brown told the court in a prepared statement. In that statement and in conversation with TIME Friday, Brown accused prosecutors and law enforcement of repeatedly committing perjury over the course of his case.

Including the more than two years Brown has spent in prison since his arrest he could serve an additional three years, though he is reported to be up for supervised release after one year.

“I’m a very monastic individual anyway. I spend a lot of time reading and writing,” Brown told TIME. “People don’t want to be in prison of course but some people benefit from it. Dostoyevsky. Solzhenitsyn. I’m one of those people.”

TIME Food & Drink

Everything You Need to Know About Starbucks’ Newest Drink

Starbucks Flat White
Starbucks Starbucks' Flat White

Here's what I learned about the flat white on a recent trip to Australia

As of Tuesday, Americans will no longer have to leave the country to get a “flat white,” the Australian coffee drink Starbucks introduced at U.S. locations on Jan. 6. But that doesn’t mean a trek Down Under in search of good cup of coffee isn’t worth the trip.

There’s more than a little irony in the coffee chain’s latest menu addition: Starbucks was unceremoniously drummed out of Australia last year after failing to make inroads in a market dominated by local cafes. There’s some controversy as to where exactly the flat white was invented (was it Sydney? or Melbourne? Even New Zealand makes a convincing claim) but in any event the entire country has had a homegrown, thriving coffee culture for decades thanks to waves of immigrants, especially from Greece and Italy after World War II, who imprinted their love for the roasted bean on Australia at least as much as the English did their love for beer on the United States. The flat white has been available for several years at Starbucks in the UK but only now is the behemoth of coffee bringing the drink to American shores.

Australian coffee purists will be tempted to dust off their pitchforks and torches over the following two statements but the issues must be addressed so I’m dispensing with them here all at once.

1. A flat white is, roughly speaking, like a latte but silkier in texture, made with ristretto (extra-strong espresso), and served in a short and wide ceramic mug as opposed to the larger, taller, latte cup. For this writer, it’s Australia’s best cup of joe and easily one of the best vectors for java in the world.

2. Coffee culture is well-established and cultivated with care in cities throughout Australia, but Melbourne, with its artsy vibe, relatively large Greek and Italian populations and funky cafe scene, is the country’s coffee capital. On a recent visit to Melbourne I stayed with an old friend and longtime Melbournite, Tim, who lives in a Kazakh yurt near a goat barn on Hibi Farm, a small neighborhood farm in the city’s suburbs, if that gives you an idea of the general vibe.

Your correspondent is not a particularly sophisticated coffee drinker. For me, a cup of joe generally registers as either bad, decent or excellent. Suffice to say all the coffee described henceforth sips comfortably at the top end of that scale. With that side of things settled, the coffee experience is about place as much as bean.

Auction Rooms is certain to make an appearance in any discussion of coffee in Melbourne. The expansive cafe is a major North Melbourne gathering place and a sort of anchor in the city’s coffee scene—a local paper, The Age, held last year’s Good Cafe Guide Awards there. Comfortably drenched in natural light with high ceilings and a finished industrial interior, this places bustles. Small groups of young people (Auction Rooms isn’t far from the University of Melbourne) chatter and sip flat whites and long blacks (another Aussie coffee drink—it’s basically an Americano) and eat from an extensive menu.

Closer to the University is Seven Seeds Cafe, an understated hangout with a skylight that bathes the counters in sunshine. Exposed brick and plywood walls give the place an unfinished, industrial feel. It’s not easy to spot, located down quiet Berkeley Street, which makes it a good place for a quieter cup. As an added bonus, the cafe roasts its own beans too (and beans for a number of other shops around town).

My favorite cafe in Melbourne is one of the smallest, Brother Baba Budan, which serves Seven Seeds coffee out of a small storefront off Little Bourke St., a quirky and narrow one-way thoroughfare in the Central Business District. Not far from Melbourne’s historical Chinatown, Brother Baba Budan exudes a sort of zen garden-meets-Alice in Wonderland feel, with a ceiling tiled—if you can call it that—entirely by chairs. It’s a much loved establishment by locals and by this tourist, too.

When it comes to coffee, the full experience is as much about place as anything. Which is why, if you enjoy a Starbucks flat white, you should try and make the trip to Australia in search of the real thing. Though Brother Baba Budan won my heart, the best cups of coffee I had were in Tim’s yurt, made with beans roasted on the farm, steamed milk from the goats and sweetened with honey from a neighbor’s beehive. Tim’s own bees having been confiscated by friends tired of one-too-many trips to the hospital (Tim is allergic to bees and also stubborn). How’s that for homegrown?

TIME ebola

U.N. Official Says Ebola Can Be Beat in 2015

Red Cross workers carry away the body of a person suspected of dying from the Ebola virus, in the Monrovia, Liberia on Oct. 4, 2014.
Pascal Guyot—AFP/Getty Images Red Cross workers carry away the body of a person suspected of dying from the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia on Oct. 4, 2014.

"We have a long and difficult way to go," U.N. health official says

A United Nations official said Friday that the Ebola outbreak can be stomped out in 2015 but that months of hard work remain to stop the virus that has killed almost 8,000 people.

“We have not come anywhere close to ending the crisis. We’ve done a lot in 90 days in a very successful response but we have a long and difficult way to go,” Anthony Banbury, head of the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response told reporters.

His comments were reported by Reuters.

Read more: The Ebola fighters are TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year

“It’s going to go on for not just weeks but some months more,” Banbury said. “But I believe we will do it in 2015 and we’re going to do it by working very closely not just with governments of the countries but the communities.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon created the international body’s Ebola mission in September to ramp up the international response to the crisis. Banbury is the outgoing mission chief. He’ll be replaced by Ould Cheikh Ahmed on Saturday.


TIME movies

6 Things We’re Glad Back to the Future Got Wrong About 2015

Universal Studios

Marty McFly’s future doesn't look much like our present

We made it, folks. 2015, the year to which Marty McFly travels in 1989’s Back to the Future II. Sadly, some aspects of the future envisioned by the film have not yet come to fruition—ubiquitous hover boards, self-lacing shoes, dog-walking drones. But thank the heavens that other aspects of that future haven’t crept into ours. Fax machines everywhere? No thanks.

Here are six things we’re grateful Back to the Future II got wrong about the year 2015.

The double tie worn by future Marty

Granted, we’re just one terrible idea at an influential fashion house away from confronting a reality of people wearing two ties at one time, but it hasn’t happened yet and thank goodness for that. One tie is too many. Two is a crowd.

Fax machines are not really a part of life anymore

Certainly not to the extent they are in Back to the Future II—and that’s a good thing. The paper-wasting ink hogs get jammed, require maintenance, and are just no match for a nice scan and send or even just snapping a picture with a smartphone.

Griff’s hat

Or Griff’s entire costume, for that matter. His hat is some kind of meat tenderizer turned helmet, he wears pointy, elvish steel toed boots and his clothes have some kind of human-expanding element that makes him bigger and stronger (which would be cool to have, but not for bad guys to have). Actually this can go for most of the clothes worn in the future. Except for Marty’s sick threads. We want that jacket.

Dehydrated pizzas

They wouldn’t be as cool as you think anyway. Yes, a pizza in four seconds sounds nice, but at what cost? Fortunately, trends in food are moving away from such time-saving, health-and-enjoyment-destroying food disasters and toward taking a little more time to make good meals with real food. Making pizza is fun!

Computer glasses

Sure, Google glass is a thing, but there are already movements afoot to establish boundaries and good social practices with respect to wearable computers, and at least Google glass isn’t everywhere just yet.

Flying cars

Also a thing that would be a complete disaster in practice, which is something you know in your heart of hearts if you have ever driven in any big city. It’s hard enough to get people to politely navigate a two-dimensional roadway without terrible collisions all the time. Introduce above and below lanes and the entire social fabric would collapse. Any fender bender would result in cars crashing to the ground below, perhaps on pedestrians or buildings.

TIME North Korea

Watch North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un Take the Controls of an Airplane

The North Korean dictator appears in a bombastic new propaganda film “piloting” an aircraft

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un appears in a new propaganda film in which, for some reason known only to Kim and perhaps his team of propagandists, the king of the hermit kingdom appears to be flying an airplane, sort of.

In a video posted to YouTube on New Year’s Eve by the account ‘stimmekoreas’, which has posted other videos related to North Korea in the past, the supreme leader of the DPRK can be seen taking off and landing a large plane with what looks like a substantial amount of assistance from his co-pilot. The video is accompanied by a marching band soundtrack and bombastic narration typical of other North Korean propaganda masterpieces.

Read more: Check Out Kim Jong Un’s Magical Disappearing Eyebrows

Kim’s pilot movie went online around the time he delivered a New Year’s address in which he said the DPRK was open to engaging in talks with South Korea. The two countries have been in a state of mostly frozen warfare since the Korean War settled into an uneasy armistice after 1953.

Though certainly important, the message of that speech was somewhat overshadowed by the mystery of Kim Jong Un’s disappearing eyebrows.

TIME North Korea

Check Out Kim Jong Un’s Magical Disappearing Eyebrows

Kim Jong-Un's eyebrows
KCNA/Reuters (3) From left: Kim Jong Un delivers a New Year's address on Jan. 1, 2015, Jan. 1, 2014, and Jan. 1, 2013.

The North Korean leaders eyebrows appear suddenly shrunken

When you’re the dictator of a totalitarian hermit state built on fear and mass delusion, it can be really hard to make the right fashion choices for each season.

The new eyebrow look sported by leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un, may illustrate the pitfalls of having no one left to tell you “No…omg seriously just no.”

Kim Jong Un delivered a televised speech on Thursday in which he said the North is open to engaging in serious talks with South Korea. It was an important and almost conciliatory message, but one that was overshadowed — or undershadowed? — by the leader’s shrunken eyebrows.

READ MORE Watch North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un Take the Controls of an Airplane

In what looks to be a case of over plucking, Kim Jong Un has rendered his eyebrows in to mere dashes.

The South China Morning Post posits that Kim’s new forehead hyphens may be an effort to change his appearance to look more like his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the first leader of North Korea.

Maybe the DPRK hoped to distract from Kim’s new look by releasing a propaganda video of the leader piloting a large airplane.

Read next: Kim Jong Un Says He Is Open To ‘Highest Level Talks’ With South Korea

Listen to the most important stories of the day.


Civilian Deaths in Iraq Spiked Sharply in 2014

Double the year before

The number of civilians killed in Iraq doubled in 2014 from 2013, according to a new report out Thursday.

The public database project Iraq Body Count recorded 17,049 civilian deaths in Iraq in 2014, approximately double its tally in 2013 (9,743), which itself had doubled from the year prior (there were 4,622 civilian deaths in 2012). IBC, which has been recording civilian deaths in Iraq since the beginning of the American and British invasion of the country 12 years ago, attributed the growing violence on the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

The sharp rise in civilian deaths makes 2014 the third worst year for civilians over the entire 12 years of the conflict, after the bloodiest years of the Iraq War in 2006 and 2007.

TIME Shanghai

Families Clamor for Answers After 36 Die in Shanghai Stampede

New Year's Eve Stampede Kills At Least 35, Injures Many More In Shanghai
ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images The aftermath of a stampede that left at least 35 people dead and 42 people injured during Shanghai's New Year celebration on December 31, 2014.

And 47 more hospitalized

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for an official investigation into what caused a stampede in Shanghai on New Year’s Eve that left 36 people dead and 47 more hospitalized with injuries.

The stampede occurred during New Year’s celebrations in the popular Bund riverfront area at Chen Yi Square. Witnesses say the clamor began on a stairway as people trying to run up and down the stairs collided.

“I heard people screaming, someone fell, people shouted ‘don’t rush,'” said a saleswoman in her 20s, according to the Associated Press. “There were so many people and I couldn’t stand properly.”

Shanghai officials say one Taiwanese was among the dead, and two Taiwanese and a Malaysian are among the injured. Officials said an investigation into the cause of the tragedy is ongoing.

Rumors circulated that the mayhem was sparked by coupons tossed from a third story window, but police have discarded that explanation, maintaining that the coupons were thrown only after the stampede, the Associated Press reports. Last week, the English language site Shanghai Daily reported that the annual New Year’s Eve celebration at Chen Yi Square would be canceled in favor of a more “toned down” event due to crowd control concerns.

Read more at the Associated Press.

TIME France

Economist Thomas Piketty Declines Prestigious French Award

Economist Thomas Piketty in Frankfurt, Germany, in Oct. 2014.
Michael Gottschalk—Photothek via Getty Images Economist Thomas Piketty in Frankfurt, Germany, in Oct. 2014.

"I do not think it is the government's role to decide who is honorable"

Economist Thomas Piketty, whose mammoth work Capital in the 21st Century has sold 1.5 million copies and sparked debate worldwide about growing inequalities, declined a nomination for France’s Legion of Honor award Thursday.

“I have just learned that I was nominated for the Legion of Honor. I refuse this nomination because I do not think it is the government’s role to decide who is honorable,” Piketty told Agence-France Presse. “They would do better to concentrate on reviving (economic) growth in France and Europe.”

Once an ally of France’s socialist president Francois Hollande, Piketty has parted ways with the current administration over a disagreement about the government’s tax policies.

Also on the list of nominees for the award are Nobel economics laureate Jean Tirole and Nobel literature winner Patrick Modiano.


TIME Music

Kanye West and Sir Paul McCartney Team Up on ‘Only One’

Musicians Paul McCartney and Kanye West together at the Grammy's in 2009.
Lester Cohen—WireImage/Getty Images Musicians Paul McCartney and Kanye West together at the Grammy's in 2009.

Kicking off what appears to be a longterm collaboration between the two artists

Before the calendar turned over to 2015 Wednesday night, Kanye West unveiled a parting gift for 2014—a collaboration between himself on vocals and legendary Beatle Sir Paul McCartney on the keyboard.

The track, titled “Only One,” and can be heard on Kanye’s website, appears to be written from the perspective of Kanye’s mother Donda, who died in 2007 due to complications from surgery. In a statement, West said he felt that through the emotionally charged lyrics, “my mom was singing to me, and through me to my daughter.” He noted that the name “Kanye” means “Only one,” reports Rolling Stone.

This is neither artist’s first time to the duet rodeo, of course. In the past West has teamed up with Katy Perry, Jay-Z and others, and since the Beatles broke up, McCartney has partnered on tracks with Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and more.

You can hear the song on Kanye’s website or purchase the track in the iTunes store. “Only One” looks to be the first publicly available product in what a West spokesperson called “a prolific musical collaboration between these two legendary artists.”

[Rolling Stone]

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