March 22, 2016 Last Updated 4:38 pm

At least two dozen known dead in attacks in Brussels; FBI postpones court showdown with Apple

Morning Brief: WordPress plug-in for Apple News fails to deliver content, according to the Apple News team, leaving digital publishers relying on manual input of copy in order to use the Apple News Format, or else rely on their RSS feeds

There were new terrorist attacks this morning in Brussels as explosions took place at Zaventem airport and near EU Commission buildings following the arrest recently of Salah Abdeslam, a member of the group responsible for the attacks in Paris on November 13 of last year.

Brussels-map-800Early reports say 11 were killed in the airport explosions, 15 may be dead at the Metro blast near the EU Commission. Many more appear to have been injured.

(Update: The Belgian health minister corrected her original report and said that 11 were killed at the airport, and another 20 at the metro station. 250 were injured.)

Belgium’s border with France has been closed down, and extra security now has been deployed at Charles De Gaulle Airport outside Paris and at Schiphol in The Netherlands (and likely elsewhere, of course).

Further explosions have been heard near Maelbeek station in Brussels, likely by the police who are looking for additional explosive devices.

The attacks come one day after the FBI surprised everyone by calling for the postponement of a court hearing regarding Apple’s refusal to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers. The FBI claims that it needs time to test a method to unlock the phone suggested by an unknown third party.

Already there is speculation that the FBI is looking to damage Apple’s reputation by claiming that it has found an vulnerability in the iPhone – whether one may, or may not exist. The FBI asked for the postponement until April 5th.

After a full week of not hearing anything from Apple regarding Apple News, TNM was finally notified that there were issues involving the WordPress plug-in designed to interface with the Apple app. No details were given, and the email address used by the Apple News team does not work when trying to reply to the team. A call to Apple developer support reveals that they have no clue how to get a hold of the Apple News team themselves and they have not been trained to answer questions from publishers.

AppleNews-icon-150The problem with the plug-in appears to be common and in the end it appears to be not functioning as promised.

Like many other parts of Apple Inc., the Apple News team has been placed behind a firewall so as to make effective communications impossible, a pattern well known to the media who only hear from Apple PR people when they want to communicate.

Apple News has proved quite a bust, with low readership, much publisher frustration. Nonetheless, Apple CEO Tim Cook yesterday claimed that the app is being used by more than 50 million iOS device owners – a claim that is, of course, preposterous.

Those publishers still interested in having their content inside Apple News, and who use WordPress, are advised to use Apple’s manual method of creating Apple News Format copy, or else continue using RSS feeds until Apple and WordPress get their at together. By then, of course, it is likely that Apple will have moved on to another way to get publishers to waste their time.

Journalism websites are having a bit of trouble figuring out what exactly is going on with Matter, the Kickstarter-funded journalism project acquired by Medium in 2013. The online magazine looks like it is evolving from a place for original, self-created content, to a sort of content incubator.

1*_7glC9rnvZFy1PTkj7nv6w“For starters: It’s not a website. It’s not a website. Matter won’t even be a publication, not anymore, or a publisher, not precisely. We’ve been describing it as sort of a studio and sort of an incubator,” wrote editor-in-chief Mark Lotto.

“We’re going to make stuff and we’re going to get stuff made. That’s the idea, though we have no real idea where it’s going to lead.”

Well, either do we, so good luck!

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