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Maria Butina pleads guilty, the French terror suspect has been killed, your weekend longreads

Posted on December 14, 2018, at 7:30 a.m. ET

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Maria Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a Russian agent in the US

Butina spent years trying to woo American conservatives. She sold herself as a Russian gun rights activist, and in the process became an exotic fixture at conservative events for five years.

Yesterday, she pleaded guilty to the charges against her, admitting she was involved in efforts to set up informal back channels between US and Russian officials leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

As part of her plea, Butina agreed to help prosecutors. The judge won’t set a sentencing date until she’s finished working with the government.

Two things you should read:

👉 Vera Bergengruen’s wild report on how Butina began her journey to Washington: family dinners and pheasant hunts with locals in South Dakota.

👉 Butina’s persona was clearly calibrated to appeal to US conservatives.

The suspected French Christmas market attacker has been killed in Strasbourg

Chérif Chekatt, 29, who is suspected of carrying out Tuesday night's deadly shooting at the city’s renowned Christmas market, has been shot dead by police.

After an international manhunt, police discovered the shooter on Thursday night not far from the original focus of the search in Strasbourg.

According to authorities, three police officers spotted Chekatt as they were on patrol. Chekatt then shot at the officers, who returned fire and killed him.

👉Our reporter Mitch Prothero talked to experts who explained why for many terrorists, survival is not the goal, so escape is rarely in the plan.

SNAPSHOTS

A 7-year-old girl died hours after being taken into custody by US Border Patrol agents. The Guatemalan girl, suffering from dehydration, started having seizures and was found to have a body temperature over 105 degrees after she and her father were detained in New Mexico.

A librarian was targeted and killed after she banned a man from the library. Amber Clark was fatally shot outside her California library this week. Police say she was targeted by a man who was apparently prohibited from entering the premises two months earlier.

A nationwide bomb threat email demanding a bitcoin ransom has panicked people across the US. The threat hit schools, businesses, government facilities, and other locations, causing widespread evacuations from coast to coast. The threat is not considered to be credible.

CBS paid Bull actor Eliza Dushku $9.5 million after she alleged the lead actor harassed her on set. Dushku claimed her character was written off the show after she accused Michael Weatherly, who plays the titular character, of joking that he wanted to rape her and suggesting a threesome.

An Instagram influencer charged $500 for a “Master Class” in social media. Now, angry students are calling it a scam. Aggie Lal, a travel Instagrammer with nearly a million followers, is under fire after netting almost $200,000 from the “exclusive” program, which people say was highly disappointing.

The public drama between Kanye West and Drake is back on Twitter. What started as Drake needing West's approval for a sample turned into claims that the Toronto rapper is threatening West and his family.

Netflix wants to change the way you chill

Don’t you hate the part where you open Netflix and find yourself scrolling endlessly, not quite getting excited about something to watch?

Guess what? So does Netflix.

In fact, according to its own research, the company has a 90-second window to help subscribers find a TV show or movie before they give up and go somewhere else.

Everything Netflix has been doing is toward a single goal: not losing your attention.

As the streaming entertainment space gets more crowded, Nicole Nguyen looks at the company’s efforts to maintain its head start in the race. Hint: Netflix has no chill about it.

Some longreads to keep you company this weekend

These Are The 11 Best Movies Of 2018. This year was bad, but at least the movies were good. Our film reviewer Alison Willmore gives us her list of 2018’s best. My favorite, Support the Girls, made the cut. Did yours?

The Teen Rom-Com Was Reborn In 2018. This year’s breakout teen movies all point to a new life for old tropes. Pier Dominguez wrote a smart piece about the resurgence of the genre. From the essay: “These films ... worked as almost reparative experiences for those who had never seen themselves as main characters in the genre.”

Glennon Doyle Is Trying To Wake Up White Women. Is It Working? The author, activist, and former mommy blogger has been encouraging her mostly white fans to speak up and empower themselves. Shannon Keating wrote about what happens when Doyle’s new advice is to shut up, listen, and let women of color lead the way.

I’m Tired Of Looking At All These Bad Wigs On Black Actors. From The Walking Dead to True Detective, 2018 was full of bad wigs on TV. It matters more than you think. Bim Adewunmi wrote a thoughtful piece taking these bad wigs on. Here’s a taste: “Bad wigs are the noxious fumes that crowd out everything else; they slowly fill the frame until that’s all you can focus on.”

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