A cast of heroes and villains — and some in between — dominated the past week in world news.

US researcher Dr Katie Bouman, just 29, led the work that created an algorithm that helped capture the first ever image of a black hole, as part of a team of hundreds of scientists.

She instantly became a new inspiring face for budding female scientists everywhere.


The work of space scientists around the world continues to be an example of the very best of us in trying times.

In Sudan, new Arab Spring mass protests resulted in a coup that ousted autocrat and indicted Darfur war criminal Omar al-Bashir after 30 years in power.

The protests began in December over the price of bread and have claimed dozens of lives. Some soldiers have reportedly died protecting protesters. A student, Alaa Saleh, 22, was photographed leading protest chants and it brought attention on social media to the political struggle.

The cost of living, high youth unemployment and political inertia across the Arab world mean the underlying pressures of the Arab Spring are still there, eight years on.

Sudan's protest organisers want a transition to civilian rule whereas the country's military have said it will rule for up to two years before elections. The military council has made some concessions but there is scepticism about whether the regime is simply being preserved behind a facelift.

In London, Julian Assange's stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy ended when he was dragged out, looking like Russell Crowe in Noah.

The WikiLeaks founder is a polarising figure.

Assange, 47, jumped bail and sought refuge at the embassy in 2012 to avoid two separate sex assault cases in Sweden.

He has ties to Russian hackers and intelligence. In the 2016 US presidential election, WikiLeaks published hacked DNC emails allegedly sourced from Russia. The US Special Counsel indicted 12 cyber operatives from Russia's GRU.

Assange fell out with journalists he worked with over his disinterest in redacting names of people whose lives could have been endangered if published.

But WikiLeaks in earlier times also provided key information to the public on the financial crisis and Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

It released a video showing an attack by US helicopters in Iraq on a group of people including two Reuters journalists.

Assange worked with the New York Times, Guardian and Le Monde to publish US war files and diplomatic cables, based on what was in the public interest.

Assange has been charged in the US with conspiracy to hack. Prosecutors accuse him of conspiring in 2010 with whistleblower Chelsea Manning to crack a password to hack classified documents from government computers. The extradition treaty between the US and UK excludes political offences.

This legal strategy could be an attempt to smooth Assange's extradition by citing a common-sounding, non-journalism-sounding, crime.

But in journalism, cultivating sources and using leaks are an essential part of the job.

An Assange adviser, Geoffrey Robertson, told CNN that the claim Assange agreed to aid Manning didn't remove it from the journalistic realm. "Any American journalist who would buy a source a cup of coffee would be helping a source."

Long legal battles await Assange, to some people a hero, or villain, or someone in between.