Archives October 12, 2020

US Intelligence Sources Discussed Poisoning Julian Assange, Court Told

Plans to poison or kidnap Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy were discussed between sources in US intelligence and a private security firm that spied extensively on the WikiLeaks co-founder, a court has been told. Details of the alleged spying operation against Assange and anyone who visited him at the embassy were laid out on Wednesday at his extradition case, in evidence by a former employee of a Spanish security company, UC Global. Microphones were concealed to monitor Assange’s meetings with lawyers, his fingerprint was obtained from a glass and there was even a plot to obtain a nappy from a baby who had been brought on regular visits to the embassy, according to the witness, whose evidence took the form of a written statement.

The founder and director of UC Global, David Morales, had said that “the Americans” had wanted to establish paternity but the plan was foiled when the then employee alerted the child’s mother. Anonymity was granted on Tuesday to the former employee and another person who had been involved with UC Global, after the hearing was told they feared that Morales, or others connected to him in the US, could seek to harm them. Details of their written evidence were read out at the Old Bailey in London on Wednesday by Mark Summers QC, one of the lawyers for Assange, who is fighting extradition to the US on charges relating to leaks of classified documents allegedly exposing US war crimes and abuse.

YouTubers are upscaling the past to 4K. Historians want them to stop

Shiryaev’s YouTube channel is a showcase for his company Neural Love, based in Gdansk, Poland, which uses a combination of neural networks and algorithms to overhaul historic images. Some of the very earliest surviving film has been cleaned, unscuffed, repaired, colourised, stabilised, corrected to 60 frames per second and upscaled to vivid 4K resolution.

But these vivid videos and images haven’t wowed everyone. Digital upscalers and the millions who’ve watched their work on YouTube say they’re making the past relatable for viewers in 2020, but for some historians of art and image-making, modernising century-old archives brings a host of problems. Even adding colour to black and white photographs is hotly contested. Luke McKernan, lead curator of news and moving images at the British Library, was particularly scathing about Peter Jackson’s 2018 World War One documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, which upscaled and colourised footage from the Western Front. Making the footage look more modern, he argued, undermined it. “It is a nonsense,” he wrote. “Colourisation does not bring us closer to the past; it increases the gap between now and then. It does not enable immediacy; it creates difference.”

The colours that suddenly flood into the streets of 1910s New York aren’t drawn from the celluloid itself; that information was never captured there. The extra frames added to smooth those New Yorkers’ 60 frame-a-second strolls are brand new too.

“There’s something that’s gained, but there’s also something that’s lost,” says Mark-FitzGerald. “And I think we need to have a conversation about what both of those things are.”