The Week in Review
MONDAY, DECEMBER 6 This week of nine-hour speeches, lightly battered royals, and history-altering internet shenanigans kicks off with some bracing comeuppance for a shameless cyberbully. Details come from the New York Times, which identifies our bully as Vitaly Borker, the 34-year-old Brooklyn man described as an "internet merchant who mistreated customers because he thought their online complaints raised the profile of his business in Google searches." Borker first appeared in the NYT eight days ago, when the paper published an in-depth report on his campaign of intimidation against a woman who had purchased a pair of eyeglasses from Borker's website DecorMyEyes.com. "When she tried to return the glasses, which she believed were fakes, he threatened to sexually assault her and later sent her a photograph of the front of her apartment building." Questioned by the NYT about his aggressive scaring of not just one but dozens of customers, who echoed the woman's claims of shoddy products and shocking threats of violence, Borker defended his actions, presenting himself as the Howard Stern of online commerce, whose shocking outbursts only enhanced his website's stature on Google. "That was because Google's algorithm, he claimed, was unable to distinguish between praise and complaints," reports the NYT. "All of the negative postings translated into buzz, he said, which helped push DecorMyEyes higher in search results and increased his sales." As Borker proudly told the Times, "I've exploited this opportunity because it works. No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?" Today brought an answer to Borker's rhetorical "Why not?" in the form of federal agents who arrested him on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, making interstate threats, and cyberstalking. Cherry on top: "Judge Michael H. Dolinger denied Mr. Borker's request for bail, stating that the defendant was either 'verging on psychotic' or had 'an explosive personality.'" The mail fraud and wire fraud charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years each, the stalking and interstate threats charges carry a maximum sentence of five years each, and Mr. Borker will remain in custody until a preliminary hearing on December 20.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 7 Speaking of the splashy exploitation of the internet, the week continues with what history will remember as the Great WikiLeaks Scandal, in which a trove of classified government documents were made available online and the U.S. government freaked the fuck out. Today brought the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the 39-year-old Australian who was apprehended not for any allegations related to WikiLeaks but for allegedly nonconsensual sexual relations with two women in Sweden. Assange will remain jailed until next week, when he will be released on $310,000 bail, and may still face extradition to Sweden. Meanwhile, the vengeful activists behind Operation Payback waged virtual war on those who sought to hobble WikiLeaks, organizing distributed denial-of-service attacks on Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, and others after the companies banned all WikiLeaks-related activity. The saga continues.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 8 Now we travel to the glorious suburbs of Baltimore, where today brought a thrilling display of foiled terrorism. The would-be terrorist: Antonio Martinez, a 21-year-old man who decided to celebrate his recent conversion to Islam by allegedly plotting to bomb a military recruiting center. Citing the 18-page criminal complaint filed today in federal court, the New York Times reports: "Mr. Martinez believed that the United States was responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and had 'accused Muslims of committing the attacks as an excuse to fight them.' He said soldiers were legitimate targets..." And so Martinez allegedly embroiled himself in a plot to detonate a car bomb outside a recruiting office in Catonsville, Maryland, after which he planned to flee to Afghanistan. This morning brought the attempted execution of the plot, as Martinez parked what he thought was a bomb-laden SUV outside the recruiting center and allegedly tried to detonate the explosives. Lucky for all, the bomb was a fake, Martinez's would-be coconspirators were FBI agents, and Martinez was soon arrested on charges of attempted murder of federal officials and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Remember, kids: Jihad is no joke.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9 In better or at least not as bad news, the week continues with some real-life anarchy in the UK, as the scores of students rioting in protest of exorbitant college tuition hikes took time out of their busy setting-things-on-fire schedule to attack the motorcade of Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla. As the Independent reports, about 20 student rioters swarmed the royals' Rolls-Royce, hucking various objects and shouting, "Off with their heads!" "The Rolls-Royce has reinforced windows," reports the Independent. "But the passenger window on Camilla's side was wound down, reportedly enabling a rioter to push a stick through and prod her in the ribs."
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10 Speaking of dramatic backlash against flagrant displays of wealth and power, today brought a 70,000-word cri de coeur from Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont who took the Senate floor at 10:25 a.m. to speak out against the tax deal that President Obama brokered with Republicans—and didn't stop for nearly nine hours. "People cannot understand why in a million years, with a $13.7 trillion national debt, and a $1.4 trillion yearly deficit, we would be thinking for one second, for one second, about giving tax breaks to the richest people in this country who are already doing fabulously well," said Sanders during his marathon monologue, during which the 69-year-old senator had only water for sustenance. "In 2007, the top 1 percent of all income earners made 23.5 percent of all income... The fact is, 80 percent of all new income earned from 1980 to 2005 has gone to the top 1 percent... That is not apparently enough for our friends at the top who have a religious ferocity in terms of greed. They need more, more. It is similar to an addiction. Fifty million is not enough. They need 100 million. One hundred million is not enough; they need one billion. One billion is not enough. I am not quite sure how much they need. When will it stop?" Who knows, but Senator Sanders's heroic filibuster ended just after 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
••Meanwhile in Utah, the four-week trial of the man accused of abducting Elizabeth Smart and forcing her into sexual slavery came to an appropriate close, as 57-year-old Brian David Mitchell was found guilty of kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes, for which he faces life in prison.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11 The week continues with Mark Madoff, the eldest son of jailed multibillion-dollar fraudster Bernie Madoff, who today celebrated the second anniversary of his father's arrest by committing suicide. "Mark Madoff, 46, was found hanged in the living room of his New York flat as his two-year-old son slept in a nearby room," reports the Guardian. "He had apparently succumbed to the pressures of being unemployable, socially ostracized, and subject to a legal battering that included a lawsuit filed last week naming his young children in an attempt to recover funds lost to his father's $50bn Ponzi scheme." Condolences to all, including those Madoff victims taking grim pleasure in the Old Testament–style suffering today's suicide will inflict on jailed father Bernie.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 12 Nothing happened today, unless you count insane rain in Western Washington, which flooded rivers, closed highways, and inspired landslides—but thankfully killed no one.
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