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Brittney Griner Denied Appeal on 9-year Sentence in Russia

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Brittney Griner

On Tuesday, a Russian court dismissed Brittney Griner’s appeal of her 9-year prison sentence for drug charges, bringing her closer to a high-stakes prisoner swap between Moscow and Washington.

The Olympic gold medalist and 8time all-star center for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury was convicted on Aug. 4 after police said they seized vape canisters carrying cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Griner, 32, appeared via video link from a correctional colony outside the capital where she is being kept.

Griner admitted to having the CBD vape canisters in her suitcase during her trial but claimed she packed them accidentally in her rush to catch her trip and had no illegal intent.

Her defence team provided written declarations in which she stated that she had been prescribed cannabis to relieve chronic pain.

The 9-year sentence came close to Russia’s maximum of ten years, and Brittney Griner’s defenders contended that the punishment was disproportionate after his conviction.

In similar cases, they noted, defendants received an average sentence of around five years, with about a third given parole. While upholding the sentence, the court stated that Griner’s prison time would be revised to reflect her time in pre-trial detention.

One day in pre-trial custody will be counted as one and a half days in prison. Thus, she will still be sentenced to about eight years.

 Brittney Griner

Griner’s lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov wrote in an email that they were “extremely dissatisfied” with the judgment since “the punishment is harsh and defies normal court practice.”

“Brittney Griner’s greatest concern is that she will not be swapped and will have to complete the remainder of her sentence in Russia,” they wrote. “She had hoped for today because every month, every day away from her family and friends is important to her.”

They said they needed to consult Brittney Griner about the following legal actions.

Griner’s detention in February happened at a moment when Moscow and Washington were at odds, just days before Russia sent soldiers into Ukraine. Griner returned to Russia to play for a Russian team during the summer of the WNBA.

Biden warns Russia that nuclear weapons would be a “bad mistake.”

President Joe Biden cautioned Russia on Tuesday that using a tactical nuclear weapon would be an “extremely grave error.” He also stated that the White House is in “continuous touch” with Russian authorities for Brittney Griner’s release. (Oct. 25)

According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the decision is “another failure of justice, aggravating the unfairness of her confinement,” and “securing her release is our goal.”

 Brittney Griner

President Biden told reporters that the state department is in “continuous touch” with Russian authorities over Brittney Griner and the other Americans jailed in Russia.

While there has been no movement in getting her back to the United States, Biden stated, “We are not stopping.”

Before her conviction, the US State Department proclaimed Griner to have been “wrongfully held,” an accusation that Russia has categorically denied.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan states that Biden “is willing to go to tremendous lengths and make difficult judgments to bring Americans home.”

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated that the decision, “although regrettable, was not anticipated.” It’s time to put this case behind us and bring BG home.” According to the WNBA Players Association, the verdict “further validates that BG is not simply unfairly incarcerated — she is very certainly a hostage.”

Because the Biden administration is under increasing pressure to do more to bring Brittney Griner back home, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken revealed in July that the State Department had made a “substantial proposal” to bring Brittney Griner home, along with Paul Whelan, an American businessman serving a 16-years for espionage.

 Brittney Griner

Blinken did not clarify, but AP and other news outlets have reported that Washington has offered to swap Brittney Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, an arms dealer known as the “merchant of death,” captured in Thailand, serving a 25-year term in the United States.

The White House stated that it has yet to get a constructive response to the offer from Russia.

Russian officials have refused to comment on the US plan and asked Washington to debate the topic privately rather than publicly. However, some Russian officials have stated that a deal is more feasible when all appeals have been exhausted.

In September, Biden met with the wife of Brittney Griner, Cherelle Griner, and her agent, Lindsay Colas.

 Brittney Griner

Following the discussions, the White House stated that the president reiterated to the families of Brittney Griner and Paul his “continued commitment to working through all possible avenues to bring them home.

In April, the United States and Russia exchanged prisoners for the release of a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted of a cocaine trafficking conspiracy; Moscow released US Marines veteran Trevor Reed.

Moscow has also advocated for releasing other Russians detained in the United States.

Alexander Vinnik, for example, has been accused of laundering billions through an illegal cryptocurrency exchange. Vinnik was apprehended in Greece in 2017 and extradited to the United States in August.

Last month, Vinnik’s French lawyer, Frederic Belot, informed the Russian publication Izvestia that his client wished to be involved in a future swap.

Another possible candidate, according to the publication, is Roman Seleznev, the son of a Russian legislator. In 2017, he was sentenced to 27 years in jail on charges related to a hacking and credit card fraud conspiracy.

Source: AP, VOR News

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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Bangladesh closes Universities and Colleges indefinitely Following Deadly Protests.

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Bangladesh
Reuters

(VOR News) – Bangladesh has declared that it will shut down all public and private colleges indefinitely commencing on Wednesday, following the fatalities of student demonstrations against a quota system for government jobs this week.

At least six individuals have died as a consequence of the demonstrations, and numerous others have sustained injuries.

Demonstrations regarding public sector employment quotas have caused significant disruptions throughout South Asia over the past few weeks. A thirty percent reservation is included in these quotas for the family members of freedom fighters who participated in the 1971 War of Independence from Pakistan.

Students who are confronted with high rates of adolescent unemployment have become enraged.

There are nearly 32 million youthful Bangladeshis who are neither employed nor enrolled in another educational institution, out of a total population of 170 million.

Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, rejected the demonstrators’ demands.

Who cited ongoing court proceedings. She also referred to those who opposed the quota as “razakar,” a term that is reserved for individuals who are suspected of collaborating with the Pakistani army during the 1971 conflict. This prompted a heightened level of demonstrations.

This week, the demonstrations escalated into violence when thousands of individuals who were protesting quotas encountered members of the student branch of the Awami League party, the governing party in Bangladesh.

The police employed rubber pellets and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

Authorities have reported that the confrontations that occurred on Tuesday resulted in the deaths of six individuals, including at least three students.

In a post on X, Amnesty International issued an urgent call to the Government of Bangladesh to ensure the safety of all peaceful protesters and the appropriate treatment of all injured individuals. “We seek to ensure that all those injured receive the appropriate medical care.”

The authorities have dispatched riot police and the paramilitary force known as the Border Guard Bangladesh to university campuses to guarantee the preservation of law and order throughout the nation.

Towards the conclusion of Tuesday, the University Grants Commission issued an order directing all universities to promptly close their doors and requesting that students vacate the premises for the sake of both safety and security. Additional educational institutions, such as colleges and high schools, were also shuttered.

Students will participate in processions on Wednesday, carrying coffins as a symbol of their condolences for the deceased, as per Nahid Islam, the individual responsible for organizing the anti-quota demonstrations.

A female student at Dhaka University, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, stated, “Many have fled the dormitories due to attacks by cadres of the student league (the student wing of the ruling party).”

” Bangladeshis have said this out of fear of being punished.”

“Certainly, there are still a significant number of students, particularly in the male dormitories.” Leaving the dormitories will be a challenging experience for those of us who are currently residing there.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the most prominent opposition party, was raided by the police in Dhaka at approximately midnight on Tuesday. Seven activists, including a former commander of the BNP’s student section, were apprehended during the operation.

Harun Or Rashid, the director of the detective branch of the police, reported that they were able to recover a total of one hundred rudimentary explosives and numerous bottles of gasoline during the raid that was conducted in the vicinity of the BNP office, following the setting of a bus on fire.

Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, the senior joint secretary of the BNP, expressed his disapproval of the search and claimed that the government had positioned the items that were discovered to discredit the anti-quota demonstrations.

The protests are the first significant challenge to the administration that Hasina has been leading, as she was elected to a fourth consecutive term in January in an election that was boycotted by the BNP.

The sluggish growth of jobs in the private sector, which has made jobs in the government increasingly desirable, may be the cause of the unrest, according to the experts. These jobs offer regular wage increases and other benefits.

One percent of the positions in the Bangladeshi government are reserved for individuals with disabilities, ten percent are designated for women, ten percent are reserved for individuals from underdeveloped regions, five percent are reserved for indigenous groups, and fifty-six percent are reserved for women.

SOURCE: USN

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UK Heatwave: 30C Temperatures Expected This Week

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UK Heatwave: 30C Temperatures Expected This Week

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UK Heatwave 30C Temperatures Expected This Week

Following an abnormally damp start to July, parts of the UK could experience a burst of 30 degrees Celsius by the end of this week.

The warm blast is predicted to hit the South-East of England on Friday. Temperatures could set a new record for the warmest day of the year, with 30.5C recorded in Wisley, Surrey, on June 26th.

Areas that have already suffered a July downpour are expected to become significantly drier and warmer, albeit only momentarily.

But we shouldn’t put away our umbrellas just yet; the dry weather will be even shorter-lived in the northwest, and the entire UK might be unsettled as early as Saturday evening.

Most of us have had a damp and chilly start to the month, with temperatures falling below or near the seasonal normal. Some areas of the country, like Loftus in North Yorkshire and Northolt in London, have already received more than double the usual July rainfall.

On Monday, the Met Office issued a yellow rain warning, with some places receiving 15-20mm in less than an hour and 30-40mm over many hours.

VOR News

The warning was issued on St. Swithin’s Day, which may indicate rain for the next 40 days.

The cold and damp July was caused by the jet stream – a fast-moving wind high in the atmosphere – passing primarily over or to the south of the United Kingdom.

However, it has not been a washout everywhere. Some northern and western places, such as Castlederg in Northern Ireland and Machrihanish in western Scotland, have been relatively dry, receiving only 20 to 25% of their usual July rainfall.

Northern Ireland is far drier than last July, the wettest on record.

The jet stream, a fast-moving band of air high in the atmosphere that propels low-pressure storms in from the Atlantic, has angled towards the south of the UK, allowing frigid arctic air to flow in from the north.

It will now move farther north, deflecting rain to the north and west while enabling warmer air to slip in from the south.

High pressure will begin to develop from the Azores, indicating that the entire United Kingdom will be relatively dry on Wednesday.

Temperatures will be close to the seasonal norm, with 17-21C in Scotland and Northern Ireland, 18-23C in Wales, and low-to-mid-twenties in England. Of course, it will feel warmer in the bright July sunshine, something we have been lacking of late.

Rain will fall on Thursday and Friday throughout Northern Ireland and western Scotland, ushering in a return to dreary, damp conditions.

However, the dry weather may persist across much of England and Wales, with temperatures rising somewhat, particularly in south-east England.

By Friday, temperatures in London might reach 30 degrees Celsius before dropping again over the weekend.

Probably not; according to the Met Office, a heatwave is three or more consecutive days of temperatures above a certain threshold, which varies depending on where you are in the UK.

In the London area, the threshold is 28 degrees Celsius. The temperature in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and most of northern and western England is 25 degrees Celsius.

If temperatures exceed 25 degrees Celsius in July, it will be the first time this has happened in the UK.

The heat is not expected to stay long; a thunderstorm in the east on Saturday night will bring temperatures back to normal.

Next week, we can expect westerly winds with dry spells and occasional sunshine, as well as showers and prolonged spells of rain, particularly in the north and west.

Source: BBC

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Biden Set to Announce Support for Major Supreme Court changes

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Biden Set to Announce Support for Major Supreme Court changes

(CTN News) – According to two persons briefed on the preparations, US President Joe Biden is preparing to support dramatic reforms to the Supreme Court, including term limits and an enforced ethics code.

According to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose private conversations, he is also considering proposing a constitutional amendment to eliminate extensive immunity for presidents and other constitutional officeholders.

This declaration is a significant shift from Joe Biden, who, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has long opposed progressive judicial reform efforts.

The potential revisions are in response to growing outrage over recent ethical issues involving Supreme Court Justice Thomas Clearance and judgments made by an interim majority that overturned traditional law on issues such as abortion and the federal government’s capacity to regulate.

Joe Biden mentioned this move briefly in his Zoom meeting with the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Saturday. In an off-camera remark cited in a transcript obtained by the Washington Post, Biden stated, “I am going to need your help in the Supreme Court because shortly, very shortly, I will be coming out with a major initiative, reducing the Supreme Court.” He did not want to advance this news.

Getting term limits and an ethics code through Congress would be practically impossible for two reasons: the Republican-controlled House and the Senate’s razor-thin Democratic majority. Adopting such a bill would require a 60-vote majority in the Senate.

To repeal an amendment, two-thirds of both chambers must approve it, or a convention must be called by two-thirds of the states, followed by three-fourths of the state legislature.

Following the Washington Post’s publication, former President Donald Trump criticized the action on Truth Social.

“They seek to annul the Presidential Election, and hence the Justice System, by threatening their political rival, me, and the Honorable Supreme Court. We must safeguard OUR Fair and Independent Courts and our Country by granting Abbygail the God-given right to sue.”

Source: Washington Post

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