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8.5.2022

Griner Sentence, Island Bribes, and How Italians Drink Wine Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Friday, Aug. 5, and we're covering a sentencing in Russia for a WNBA star, an arrest in Puerto Rico, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at hello@join1440.com.

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NEED TO KNOW

 

Brittney Griner Sentenced

Russia convicted US basketball star Brittney Griner of possession and smuggling of drugs yesterday, sentencing her to nine years in a penal colony, six months after she was caught with cannabis oil at an airport. The conviction was largely expected—Griner plead guilty, and Russian courts report a 1% acquittal rate—though observers said the sentence appeared unusually high.

 

Moscow officials stated the ruling is a precondition for a possible prisoner swap between Russia and the US. The exchange may include Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, imprisoned in the US since 2012 for conspiracy to support terrorists, and American Paul Whelan, jailed on espionage charges since 2018. Bout evaded capture for decades and was the basis for the lead character in the 2005 film "Lord of War."

 

Now that she is convicted, Griner may also seek a pardon from President Vladimir Putin. Her lawyers have 10 days to appeal the ruling. See a timeline of Griner's detainment here.

Island Bribes

The former governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vázquez, was arrested by the FBI yesterday, accused of corruption and accepting bribes while in office. The scheme reportedly involved multiple banking executives and a former FBI agent. 

 

Vázquez, the island's former top prosecutor, assumed office in 2019 after the previous governor was caught up in a separate scandal. While running for reelection in 2020, US officials allege Vázquez, 62, accepted a $300K campaign donation from Venezuelan banker Julio Herrera Velutini in exchange for agreeing to replace the island's top banking regulator. When she lost in primary elections, Herrera attempted to bribe her successor to end an audit of his San Juan bank—only to be caught in an FBI sting.

 

Former FBI agent Mark Rossini, who provided political consulting services to Herrera and reportedly acted as an intermediary, was also arrested. Each of the three faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Federal Charges in Taylor Death

Two former and two current Louisville, Kentucky, police officers were charged with federal civil rights violations in the death of Breonna Taylor, the Justice Department revealed yesterday. Charges include falsifying an affidavit to obtain a search warrant and making false statements to investigators (see details). 

 

The charges come more than two years after 26-year-old Taylor was killed by police attempting to carry out a midnight no-knock search warrant (officers say they attempted to announce themselves before entry). Though her name and residence were on the warrant (case fact-check), she was considered a soft target, with police having previously located the prime suspect elsewhere. Taylor was shot multiple times when her boyfriend exchanged gunfire with officers, believing them to be intruders. 

 

Neither of the two officers who fired shots that hit Taylor was included in the charges. Of the four, only one faced criminal charges related to the incident—former officer Brett Hankison was found not guilty of wanton endangerment in March.

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Reuters US journalists strike for first time in more than 30 years; over 300 unionized staff walked off the job yesterday amid contract negotiations (More)

 

> "Days of Our Lives" pulled from broadcast television after 57 years on the air; the NBC soap opera will be available exclusively via streaming (More)

 

> Manchester City will look to defend its title as the English Premier League season kicks off today; see team-by-team preview (More)

Science & Technology

> New study provides unprecedented detail on how vision systems develop in mice; results may have applications from treating congenital blindness to AI-based image processing (More)

 

> Hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring compound used in cosmetic products, found to help stem cells communicate with the immune system to repair damaged muscles (More)

 

> Instagram to roll out support for non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, on its platform across more than 100 countries (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with LEX

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 -0.1%, Dow -0.3%, Nasdaq +0.4%) ahead of today’s July jobs report (More) | Average US 30-year mortgage rates drop below 5% for first time since April (More)

 

> Bank of England increases interest rates by 50 basis points to 1.75% amid high inflation; highest increase since 1995 (More)

 

> Food delivery giant DoorDash sees shares pop double-digits in after-hours trading after delivering record numbers of quarterly orders (More) | Cryptocurrency trading giant Coinbase shares up 10% after announcing partnership with investment management giant BlackRock (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), previously the key undecided vote on the proposed budget reconciliation bill, says she will support package after Democrats drop changes to the carried interest tax provision (More)

 

> Biden administration declares public health emergency over monkeypox outbreak (More) | The US reports more than 6,600 cases, no deaths; see state-by-state breakdown (More)

 

> Alex Jones, radio host and founder of Infowars, ordered by jury decision to pay $4.1M to parents of children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting (More) | House Jan. 6 Committee requests access to Jones' text message history after Jones' attorneys inadvertently turn over data to plaintiffs' attorneys (More

IN-DEPTH

 

Planet of the Bored Apes

Input Mag | Jessica Klein. The Bored Ape Yacht Club created 10,000 non-fungible tokens featuring pictures of bored apes, and they've racked up billions. (Read)

The Sailor's Teeth

Criminal | Phoebe Judge, Lohren Spohrer. (Podcast) An attempt to solve a horrific 1982 assault by a navy sailor prompted the largest dental study ever. (Listen)

Farms of the Future

TED-Ed | Brent Loken. Feeding billions while protecting the environment will require a second agricultural revolution. (Watch)

'Nobody Would Choose This'

Portland Press Herald | Gillian Graham. The housing crisis in Maine has reduced one family to living in a van at a turnpike plaza. (Read)

(WATCHING) BASKETBALL SHORTS

 

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ETCETERA

 

How to drink wine like an Italian.

 

Rethinking England's infamous Jane Boleyn.

 

You could soon live in parts of Dublin’s iconic Guinness brewery.

 

Milwaukee is now home to the tallest timber building in the world.

 

Visiting the world’s tallest tree could come with a $5K fine.

 

Classic novels reimagined, without child care.

 

The best (so far) of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

 

Discover new artists with this music map.

 

Clickbait: This munching sea cucumber will give you nightmares. (via Twitter)

 

Historybook: Space pioneer Neil Armstrong born (1930); Marilyn Monroe found dead in her Los Angeles home (1962); The US, the UK, and the Soviet Union sign Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963); RIP Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison (2019).

 

"Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand."

- Neil Armstrong

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