Dec 13, 2018

Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleads guilty to conspiracy charges

Maria Butina. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Maria Butina has pleaded guilty in a D.C. federal court to conspiracy charges alleging that she acted as an unregistered foreign agent on behalf of the Russian government. She has agreed to cooperate with U.S. authorities and faces up to five years in prison.

The big picture: In a copy of the plea deal obtained earlier this week by ABC News, Butina admitted that she and her American boyfriend, Republican operative Paul Erickson, agreed and conspired with a Russian government official to seek to "establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics." One of the ways Butina allegedly developed relationships with American politicians was through her involvement with the NRA. She is the first Russian national convicted for seeking to influence U.S. politics during the 2016 campaign.

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China tries to contain coronavirus, as Apple warns of earnings impact

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

As China pushes to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus — placing around 780 million people under travel restrictions, per CNN — the economic repercussions continue to be felt globally as companies like Apple warn of the impact from the lack of manufacturing and consumer demand in China.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,775 people and infected more than 70,000 others, mostly in mainland China. There are some signs that new cases are growing at a slower rate now, although the World Health Organization said Monday it's "too early to tell" if this will continue.

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Apple will miss quarterly earnings estimates due to coronavirus

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple issued a rare earnings warning on Monday, saying it would not meet quarterly revenue expectations due to the impact of the coronavirus, which will limit iPhone production and limit product demand in China.

Why it matters: Lots of companies rely on China for production, but unlike most U.S. tech companies, Apple also gets a significant chunk of its revenue from sales in China.

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.