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Biden Slammed for Viktor Bout, Brittney Griner Exchange

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Biden Slammed as Weak for Viktor Bout, Brittney Griner Exchange

US President Biden has been slammed as weak after Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer was exchanged for WNBA star Brittney Griner. Bout is widely known abroad as the “Merchant of Death,” fueling some of the world’s worst conflicts.

In Russia, however, he’s seen as a swashbuckling businessman who was unjustly imprisoned after an overly aggressive U.S. sting operation. In 2008, one of the world’s leading illegal arms dealers was apprehended in Thailand on suspicion of supplying weapons to a Colombian rebel group.

Victor Bout is a former Soviet air force officer who gained fame supposedly by supplying weapons for civil wars in South America, the Middle East and Africa.

The 41-year-old former Russian KGB officer allegedly sold weapons to anyone willing to pay, including Taliban forces and various warring factions in more than a dozen African countries.

Biden Slammed for Viktor Bout, Brittney Griner Exchange

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement the swap took place in Abu Dhabi, and Russian TV showed a video of Bout in a private jet, getting his blood pressure checked and speaking with his family by phone.

It later showed his arrival at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, with his wife and mother hugging him.

“They simply woke me up and told me to gather my belongings,” Bout said, referring to U.S. prison officials. “They didn’t provide any special information, but I understood the unfolding situation.”

Tass reported that Bout’s mother, Raisa, thanked President Vladimir Putin and the Foreign Ministry for freeing her son.

Russia had pushed for Bout’s release for years, and as speculation about a deal grew, the upper house of parliament opened a display of paintings he created while imprisoned, ranging from Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to a kitten.

The show of his art underlined Bout’s complexities. Though in a bloody business, the 55-year-old was a vegetarian and classical music fan who is said to speak six languages.

Even the former federal judge who sentenced him in 2011 to 11 years in prison was sufficient punishment.

“He’s done enough time for what he did in this case,” Shira A. Scheindlin told The Associated Press in July as prospects for his release appeared to rise.

Biden Slammed for Viktor Bout, Brittney Griner Exchange

Griner, arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were discovered in her luggage, was sentenced to nine years in August.

Washington protested her sentence as disproportionate, and some observers suggested that trading an arms merchant for someone jailed for a small number of drugs would be a poor deal.

Bout was convicted in 2011 on terrorism charges. Prosecutors said he was willing to sell weapons worth up to $20 million, including surface-to-air missiles capable of shooting down US helicopters. When they claimed at his sentencing in 2012, Bout yelled, “It’s a lie! ”

Bout has maintained his innocence throughout, describing himself as a legitimate businessman who did not sell weapons.

Bout’s case fits well into Moscow’s narrative that Washington sought to trap and oppress innocent Russians on flimsy grounds.

“From the resonant Bout case, a real ‘hunt’ by Americans for Russian citizens around the world has unfolded,” the government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta wrote last year.

Biden Slammed for Viktor Bout, Brittney Griner Exchange

Russia has increasingly cited his case as a human rights issue. His wife and lawyer claimed his health deteriorated in the harsh prison environment where foreigners are not always eligible for breaks that Americans might receive.

Bout had not been scheduled to be released until 2029. He was held in a medium-security facility in Marion, Illinois.

“He got a hard deal,” said Scheindlin, the retired judge, noting the U.S. sting operatives “put words in his mouth” so he’d say he was aware Americans could die from weapons he sold to require a terrorism enhancement that would force a long prison sentence, if not a life term.

Scheindlin gave Bout the mandatory minimum 25-year sentence but said she did so only because it was required.

At the time, his defence lawyer claimed the U.S. targeted Bout vindictively because it was embarrassing that his companies helped deliver goods to American military contractors involved in the war in Iraq.

The deliveries took place despite UN sanctions imposed on Bout in 2001 due to his reputation as a notorious illegal arms dealer.

Prosecutors had urged Scheindlin to sentence Bout to life in prison, claiming that if he was right to call himself a businessman, “he was a businessman of the most dangerous order.”

Biden Slammed for Viktor Bout, Brittney Griner Exchange

When Bout was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, in March 2008, his net worth was estimated to be around $6 billion. Authorities in the United States duped him into leaving Russia for what he thought was a business meeting to ship what prosecutors described as “a breathtaking arsenal of weapons — including hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, machine guns, and sniper rifles — 10 million rounds of ammunition, and five tons of plastic explosives.”

He was apprehended at a Bangkok luxury hotel following conversations with Drug Enforcement Administration informants posing as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as the FARC. Washington had classified the group as a narco-terrorist group.

He was extradited to the U.S. in November 2010.

A high-ranking Foreign Office minister bestowed the moniker “Merchant of Death” on Bout. The nickname was mentioned in Bout’s indictment by the US government.

Biden was Slammed as weak on Twitter.

Critics slammed the Biden administration’s deal to bring WNBA player Brittney Griner back to the United States after she was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison on drug-related charges.

In addition to critics claiming Russian President Vladimir Putin gained an advantage in this deal by regaining control of its “Merchant of Death,” they chastised Biden for failing to return U.S. Paul Whelan, a Marine veteran.

Whelan has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges and is serving a 16-year sentence.

On Twitter, critics slammed the entire transaction, with some calling it the worst trade they’d ever seen.

In a Thursday morning tweet, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy slammed the trade, writing, “This is great news until you Google Victor Bout and realizes Biden just got taken to the woodshed on this deal. This has to go down as the most lopsided trade in history. What happened to Griner was beyond f—-ed, but this feels like a short-sighted PR stunt.”

Sports journalist and conservative podcaster Jason Whitlock was not impressed with the trade either, commenting, “Help me wrap my mind around this Griner-for-Death trade.

Is this one of the lowest points in US foreign policy history, or am I exaggerating? Please provide some context: what compares? Bay of BIG 2.0?”

“While it’s nice that Griner is home,” former CIA member John Sipher tweeted, “we need to be honest. This is playing Putin’s game. Bout was an actual criminal charged through a credible legal process recognized worldwide. Griner was a hostage taken to extort us.”

RedState author Bonchie tweeted, “To accomplish this, you put a murderous arms dealer back on the street and left the US Marine who has been there three years out of the deal. Griner shouldn’t have been sentenced to nine years, but bragging like this? That’s pretty gross.”

National Review correspondent Jim Geraghty slammed President Biden’s tweet promoting the swap. He tweeted, “And all it cost the U.S. was putting the world’s most notorious arms dealer, with a near-ocean of blood on his hands, who equipped armies of child soldiers and sold weapons to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, back on the metaphorical streets.”

Geoff Thomas is a seasoned staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. With his sharp writing skills and deep understanding of SEO, he consistently delivers high-quality, engaging content that resonates with readers. Thomas' articles are well-researched, informative, and written in a clear, concise style that keeps audiences hooked. His ability to craft compelling narratives while seamlessly incorporating relevant keywords has made him a valuable asset to the VORNews team.

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Edmonton Oilers Beat The Florida Panthers 5-1 To Force A Game 7 In The Stanley Cup Final

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EDMONTON, Alberta — Connor McDavid was held without a point, so Leon Draisaitl and the Edmonton Oilers’ other best players stepped up, bringing them one win away from the Stanley Cup.

Draisaitl made his first significant contribution to the final by setting up Warren Foegele’s early goal, Adam Henrique and Zach Hyman scored in the second period, and the Oilers forced Game 7 by defeating the Florida Panthers 5-1 in Game 6 on Friday night.

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Oilers | AP News image

Edmonton Oilers Beat The Florida Panthers 5-1 To Force A Game 7 In The Stanley Cup Final

“At the end of the day, we play to win and this is going to be the hardest game for us,” Draisaitl told reporters. “We have to bring our game again.”

They are the first club to tie the final after trailing 3-0 since the Detroit Red Wings in 1945. The Oilers have a chance Monday night in Sunrise to join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only NHL teams to overcome a deficit and win the Stanley Cup.

“There was an unshakable belief,” Hyman remarked. “No matter what transpired over the year, we always thought we could make it through. Regardless of the grave situation, we believe we have a shot. It was a protracted season of adversity that prepared us. The next one will be the toughest. It feels surreal to do it in front of this crowd. This is our first chance to win.

The opportunity to make hockey history and break Canada’s three-decade Cup drought exists only due to McDavid’s exploits in Games 4 and 5, which lifted the Oilers from the brink of defeat. This was the first time in his nine-year career that they won a game without him scoring a point or taking a shot on goal.

Draisaitl, his longstanding running partner from Germany who has previously been named league MVP and is regarded as one of the top players in the world, provided a spark in Game 5 after being largely ineffectual against the Panthers.

“He’s a horse,” defenseman Darnell Nurse stated. “He’s always present at the most important occasions. When you look at his postseason performances, he’s one of the best to ever do it.

Draisaitl received the puck at center ice, skated around and between Florida defenders, and placed it on the tape of Foegele’s stick for a tap-in that Sergei Bobrovsky had little chance of stopping. That did not deter the ecstatic sellout crowd of 18,000+ from mockingly screaming, “Ser-gei! Ser-gei!” before the anthems and throughout the night.

The goalie known as “Bob” was scarcely to blame since blunders in front of him also contributed to the 2-on-1 rush that concluded with Henrique beating Bobrovsky off a brilliant feed from Mattias Janmark. In front of their goaltender, the Panthers appeared tight and hesitant, in stark contrast to the juggernaut that reached the final for the second year in a row and won the first three games to claim the franchise’s first championship.

Edmonton Oilers Beat The Florida Panthers 5-1 To Force A Game 7 In The Stanley Cup Final

“We have one game to go,” Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov said. “We were ready from the beginning to play a seven-game series, and nothing has changed. We went up three, and they played three good games. Now it is up to us to win at home.”

Florida had only six shots on goal halfway through the game and ended with 21. Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner made key stops to stop the Panthers, allowing only one goal to Aleksander Barkov less than 90 seconds into the third period.

The first time Barkov got the puck past him, 10 seconds after Henrique’s goal, Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch successfully challenged for offside. A thorough analysis revealed that Sam Reinhart entered the attacking zone about an inch or less before the puck, prompting a shout from supporters.

“I actually didn’t think it was that close,” Knoblauch explained. “In my mind, it was definitely offside.”

That wasn’t the loudest Rogers Place got; there were many contenders for that honor. When the Oilers took to the ice to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” the decibel meter on the video screens read 113.8.

Ryan McLeod and Nurse scored empty-net goals in the final minutes, eliciting chants of “We want the Cup!” “We want the Cup!” and a raucous celebration at the outdoor viewing party.

Edmonton Oilers Beat The Florida Panthers 5-1 To Force A Game 7 In The Stanley Cup Final

That was the fever level for a city bathed in blue and orange downtown in the hours leading up to puck drop. Friday might as well have been a holiday in Edmonton, where almost a million people can now dream of the Oilers hoisting another white championship banner to the rafters — and doing it in the most unlikely way possible.

We’re just excited to keep our season going,” McDavid added. “That is what it has been about. Take each game and each day as it comes. “I look forward to the next one.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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South Korea Summons Russian Ambassador As Tensions Rise With North Korea

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SEOUL, South Korea — On Friday, South Korea summoned the Russian ambassador to protest the country’s new defense pact with North Korea, as border tensions remained high due to vague threats and brief, seemingly accidental incursions by North Korean forces.

Earlier Friday, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a vague threat of retaliation after South Korean activists flew balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets across the border, while South Korea’s military said it fired warning shots the day before to repel North Korean soldiers who briefly crossed the rivals’ land border for the third time this month.

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Korea AP Image

South Korea Summons Russian Ambassador As Tensions Rise With North Korea

That happened two days after Moscow and Pyongyang signed an agreement promising mutual defense aid if either was attacked, and a day after, Seoul responded by stating that it would consider giving armaments to Ukraine to combat Russia’s incursion.

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hong Kyun summoned Russian Ambassador Georgy Zinoviev to denounce the agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un and urged Moscow to immediately suspend its purported military collaboration with Pyongyang.

Kim, the South Korean official, emphasized that any collaboration that directly or indirectly assists the North in developing its military capabilities would violate United Nations Security Council resolutions, represent a threat to South Korean security, and warned of the ramifications for Seoul’s relations with Moscow.

According to Russia’s embassy’s X account, Zinoviev told Korean officials that any attempts to “threaten or blackmail” Russia were inappropriate and that his country’s agreement with North Korea was not intended for specific third nations. The South Korean ministry said Zinoviev agreed to relay Seoul’s concerns to his superiors in Moscow.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded Russia and referenced U.N. Security Council sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name, which prohibits all countries from supplying the DPRK with material for nuclear or ballistic missile programs.

“Any relationship that any country has with the DPRK, including the Russian Federation, must entirely abide by those sanctions,” he told reporters at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Leafleting activities by South Korean citizen activists in recent weeks have resulted in a resurgence of Cold War-style psychological warfare along the inter-Korean border.

South Korean civilian activists led by North Korean defector Park Sang-Hak claimed to have sent 20 balloons with 300,000 propaganda leaflets, 5,000 USB sticks containing South Korean pop music and TV dramas, and 3,000 US dollars from the South Korean border town of Paju on Thursday night.

According to observers, Pyongyang resents such material because it worries it may demoralize front-line troops and people, weakening Kim Jong Un’s grasp on power.

In a statement released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, Kim Yo Jong, one of her brother’s top foreign policy officials, referred to the campaigners as “defector scum” and threatened punishment.

“When you do something you were clearly warned not to do, it’s only natural that you will find yourself dealing with something you didn’t have to,” she said, without mentioning what the North might do.

Following previous leafleting by South Korean activists, North Korea released over 1,000 balloons into South Korea, dropping tonnes of rubbish, destroying roof tiles and windows, and causing other property damage. Kim Yo Jong suggested that balloons could become the North’s routine response to leafleting, stating that the North would retaliate by “scattering dozens of times more rubbish than is being scattered on us.”

In response, South Korea resumed anti-North Korean propaganda broadcasts with military loudspeakers deployed at the border for the first time in years, prompting Kim Yo Jong to issue another official media statement warning that Seoul was “creating a prelude to a very dangerous situation.”

Tensions between the Koreas have reached their greatest point in years, as Kim Jong Un advances nuclear weapons and missile development and seeks to bolster his regional position by uniting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a standoff with the US-led West.

South Korea, a rising arms exporter with a well-equipped military backed by the United States, has said it is considering increasing its support for Ukraine in response. Seoul has previously supplied humanitarian aid and other assistance while supporting the US-led economic sanctions against Russia. However, it has not directly provided weaponry, citing a long-standing policy of not sending weapons to countries actively involved in conflict.

South Korea Summons Russian Ambassador As Tensions Rise With North Korea

Putin told reporters in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday that delivering arms to Ukraine would be “a very big mistake,” and that South Korea “shouldn’t worry” about the pact if it isn’t plotting an attack on Pyongyang.

According to South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, Minister Cho Tae-yul spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa separately on Friday to discuss the new accord. According to Cho’s ministry, the diplomats agreed that the pact poses a major danger to regional peace and stability and pledged to deepen trilateral coordination to address the challenges posed by Moscow and Pyongyang’s alignment.

North Korea is particularly sensitive to criticism of Kim’s dictatorial regime and attempts to reach its people through global news and other media.

When South Korea resumed loudspeaker broadcasts in 2015 for the first time in 11 years, North Korea launched artillery rounds across the border, leading South Korea to respond, according to South Korean officials. There were no casualties reported.

South Korea’s military said there are indicators that North Korea is placing its speakers near the border, albeit they are not yet operational.

In the most recent border incident, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that several North Korean soldiers engaged in undefined construction work temporarily breached the military demarcation line that separates the two countries around 11 a.m. Thursday.

South Korea Summons Russian Ambassador As Tensions Rise With North Korea

The South Korean military issued a warning and fired warning shots, prompting the North Korean soldiers to retreat. The joint chiefs did not immediately provide any information, such as why the material was released a day late.

South Korea’s military believes recent border incursions were unintentional, as North Korean soldiers did not return fire and left after the warning shots.

The South’s military has spotted the North sending massive numbers of soldiers on the front lines to construct suspected anti-tank barriers, reinforce roads, and place mines in an apparent attempt to bolster their side of the border. Seoul says the actions are intended to deter North Korean people and military from fleeing to the South.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Barry Sanders Says He Experienced ‘Health Scare’ Related To His Heart

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DETROIT  — a Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, Barry Sanders, said he “had a health scare related to my heart” last weekend.

“It was unexpected and served as a reminder of the importance of staying vigilant about our physical well-being, even when we are feeling fine,” the former Detroit Lions star wrote in a message on social media Friday.

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Sanders | lions wire

Barry Sanders Says He Experienced ‘Health Scare’ Related To His Heart

The Lions posted their social media statement, stating, “Get well soon Barry.”

“I am grateful for the amazing doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals for providing me with needed care,” Sanders told CNN. “My family and I appreciate your prayers and support at this time. As my doctors have advised, I am utilising this opportunity to prioritise my health and well-being. I appreciate your understanding and ongoing support.”

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Barry Sanders | AP news Image

Barry Sanders Says He Experienced ‘Health Scare’ Related To His Heart

Sanders, who turns 56 next month, was a six-time All-Pro with the Lions from 1989 to 1998 before retiring abruptly. He carried for 15,269 yards and 99 touchdowns, including 2,053 yards in his MVP season of 1997.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.

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Barry Sanders | AP news Image

Barry Sanders Says He Experienced ‘Health Scare’ Related To His Heart

Sanders played his entire career for the Lions, who took him with the third overall pick in the 1989 NFL draft following his Heisman Trophy-winning season at Oklahoma State.

SOURCE – (AP)

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