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An American accused of spying in Russia, how Trump reshaped the judiciary, Taylor Swift's NYE party. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, Jan. 2.

Posted on January 2, 2019, at 7:21 a.m. ET

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The family of the man arrested for allegedly spying in Moscow says he’s innocent

Paul Whelan, a US citizen, was arrested on suspicion of spying, according to Russian news agencies.

A spokesperson for the US State Department said it had requested consular access to Whelan, which it expects to be granted.

Meanwhile, Whelan’s family released a statement saying, “Paul is a retired Marine and was visiting Moscow to attend a wedding.” They said they were “deeply concerned” for his safety.

TASS, a news agency owned and controlled by the Russian government, said Whelan could face between 10 and 20 years in jail if convicted.

👉 The big picture: This is the latest flare-up in a worsening diplomatic rift between the US and Russia. A few weeks ago, Russian national Maria Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring as a foreign agent in the US.

Trump’s new judges are everything conservatives hoped for and liberals feared

Donald Trump has more than made good on his promise to reshape the judiciary.

The president has gotten more judges confirmed to federal appeals courts in his first two years in office than any president in modern history. The numbers are huge: 30 new circuit judges on the bench, and a dozen nominees pending in the Senate.

The consequences of this will last for some time — these judges have lifetime appointments, and they haven’t wasted time asserting themselves on everything from gun rights to abortion.

Read Zoe Tillman’s analysis of the new crop of judges, and how they will impact the bench.

SNAPSHOTS

A NASA spacecraft just captured images of the most distant space object ever seen by humans. New Horizons, a probe launched in January 2006, sent images of Ultima Thule, an icy object 4 billion miles from Earth.

The Time’s Up movement released a powerful video marking the campaign’s first anniversary. According to statistics provided by Time's Up, more than 4,000 people have contacted its Legal Defense Fund. To date, the fund has raised more than $22 million to fight workplace sexual harassment — the most raised in GoFundMe history.

Netflix just announced the third season of Stranger Things and everyone’s losing it. The new season will be released on July 4, which means you have to choose between fireworks and monsters. And we all know what the right choice is.

Tennis legends Serena Williams and Roger Federer faced off for the first time in a doubles match. Williams, playing for the US alongside Frances Tiafoe, went head to head with Federer, representing Switzerland with Belinda Bencic. The Swiss pair won 2–1. The legends shared an excellent selfie afterwards.

Taylor Swift threw an epic New Year’s Eve costume party. Swift herself dressed up as Ariel. It’s unclear who or what Ryan Reynolds was supposed to be, but here’s everyone else who was there.

Here’s how a Colorado dentist became Big Sugar’s worst nightmare

It’s no secret that the sugar industry has sought to normalize the substance in American lives — indeed, to a large degree, it’s succeeded in doing that.

However, the efforts and lengths that Big Sugar was willing to go to have mostly been kept confidential and buried — until now.

Cristin Kearns hung up her dental coat to become a unique blend of investigative journalist, historian, and health researcher. She crosses the US looking for libraries with formerly confidential archives from now-defunct sugar manufacturers, trade groups, scientists, consultants, and executives.

What Kearns and her team have discovered has provided new clarity into the machinations of the sugar industry. For example, they’ve found that a trade group knew as early as the 1950s that sugar causes tooth decay.

Read the story of how Kearns became a thorn in Big Sugar’s side.

An art gallery turned hate mail into its unofficial slogan and people love it

Bleu Cease, the executive director of the Rochester Contemporary Art Center, received an ugly piece of hate mail. It was mean and it was anti-gay and it was trollish.

The letter contained the sentence “You think you're ‘cool, artsy, and with it’ but you're nothing but a freak.” Cease wanted to flip the script and turn the hate into something positive.

Now the art center’s supporters are having T-shirts made that read “cool, artsy and with it.” People are absolutely loving this response. They’ve already sold more than 100, a huge number for the small organization.

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