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Brittney Griner Has Been Sentenced to 9 Years in a Russian Prison on Drug Charges

Mason Peterson

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“I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans, and the city of [Yekaterinburg] for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them,” Griner said in her statement. “I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home.”

Responding to her sentence, President Joe Biden slammed Russia for “wrongfully detaining” Griner, saying he would “pursue every possible avenue” to bring her home.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” Biden said in a statement. “My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also released a joint statement condemning the verdict.

“Today’s verdict and sentencing is unjustified and unfortunate, but not unexpected and Brittney Griner remains wrongly detained,” they said. “The WNBA and NBA’s commitment to her safe return has not wavered and it is our hope that we are near the end of this process of finally bringing BG home to the United States.”

Griner previously testified that she used cannabis oil prescribed by her doctor to treat pain from sports injuries, but had packed her bags in a hurry and did not mean to bring them to Russia, where she was playing in the WNBA offseason. “As they ended up in my bags by accident, I take responsibility, but I did not intend to smuggle or plan to smuggle [illegal substances] to Russia,” she had testified on July 27.

Griner also complained that her rights were not read to her when she was first arrested and that she did not receive proper translation services during the investigation.

In a letter written to Biden last month, Griner said she was “terrified” she might be held in a Russian prison forever.

“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees,” she said. “Please do all you can to bring us home.”

Colas, Griner’s agent, said they appreciated the Biden administration’s efforts to bring basketball star and Whelan back to the US.

“Bringing Brittney and Paul home is the sole objective, and as such, we should use all available tools,” Colas said. “We must remain focused and unified. This is a time for compassion and a shared understanding that getting a deal done to bring Americans home will be hard, but it is urgent and it is the right thing to do.”

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Source: buzzfeednews.com

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World News

Soccer Legend Pel? Has Died at Age 82

Mason Peterson

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By age 15, he was already playing professionally for Brazilian team Santos, and at 16, he joined the country’s national team. At 17, he became the youngest player to make it to the World Cup final, where he scored two goals — securing Brazil’s first title and his place as an international sports icon.

In the almost two decades of his career that followed, he averaged more than one goal per game and holds the Guinness World Record for most career goals. He’d go on to win two more World Cups and rack up other accolades, and fans relished not just the victories, but how he played. He popularized soccer’s nickname, “the Beautiful Game,” a phrase which became synonymous with his style. In 1961, he was legally named a national treasure in Brazil — a political move aimed at keeping the popular player from being transferred outside of the country. He later revealed that European football clubs did come calling, but he continued to play for Santos and Brazil.

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Original Source: buzzfeednews.com

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Pope Benedict XVI Has Died at 95

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Arguably the most incendiary issue Benedict faced upon becoming pope was the ongoing fallout from the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, as well as accusations of a cover-up effort on the part of church administration.

When Benedict became pope in 2005, the Catholic Church was in the midst of a very public reckoning with its history of sex abuse — a crisis about which he was very well informed. In 2001, John Paul II empowered the CDF to centralize all investigations into abuse allegations, removing that power from local dioceses after it became clear that they often failed to take action against predator priests. As the head of the CDF, then-cardinal Ratzinger worked to establish new procedures for reporting and punishing clergy accused of sexual abuse.

As pope, Benedict repeatedly spoke out against the church’s legacy of child sex abuse, apologized to victims, and defrocked hundreds of priests who had been found guilty. However, for many, his actions fell short, in part because he failed to make public the Vatican’s investigations into abuse accusations — a lack of transparency that enabled dioceses to keep these accusations secret from parishioners and law enforcement authorities.

“In the Church’s entire history, no one knew more but did less to protect kids than Benedict,” the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said in a statement in 2013, in response to the pope emeritus’s public claim that he did not engage in a ‘cover-up’ of clerical abuse. “As head of CDF, thousands of cases of predator priests crossed his desk. Did he choose to warn families or call police about even one of those dangerous clerics? No. That, by definition, is a cover up.”

Rumors of corruption and secret cabals in the Holy See also plagued Benedict’s tenure as pope, culminating in the “Vatileaks” scandal in 2012.

On Feb. 10, 2013, Benedict shocked the world by announcing his resignation from the papacy. “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he said in his official statement.

His decision to retire was later dramatized in the 2019 film The Two Popes, in which Benedict was portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance.

As pope emeritus, Benedict made a conscious effort to stay out of the public eye. He apparently disliked being known by such a lofty title following his resignation and asked others to call him simply “Father Benedict.” He did, however, make public appearances at events of theological significance, such as the Canonization Mass of Pope John XIII and Pope John Paul II on April 27, 2014.

On Sept. 4, 2020, at the age of 93 years, four months, and 19 days, Benedict became the longest-living pope in history.

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Original Source: buzzfeednews.com

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World News

People in China Are Demanding the End of Strict COVID Restrictions After 10 People Died in a Fire

Mason Peterson

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Protests are continuing in China against strict COVID lockdown restrictions after a deadly apartment fire brought some people closer to a breaking point.

Across the country, demonstrators took to the streets — a mass movement that is rare in China — and defied laws designed to curb the spread of COVID-19. Some appeared with sheets of blank white paper, in place of traditional protest signs, as a criticism of the censorship limiting citizens from speaking freely.

After the fire in Xinjiang that left at least 10 people dead, which critics say was due to the stay-at-home measures that resulted in the building’s doors being locked, protests intensified Sunday. In major cities like Shanghai, protestors gathered to demand the end of the country’s ruling party and the resignation of the president. In clips circulating social media, some demonstrators can be heard repeatedly chanting, “Communist Party step down, Xi Jinping step down.”

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Original Source: buzzfeednews.com

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