Thursday, December 8th, 2022


Give and Go

Brittney Griner has never been happier to be caught traveling. She's coming home. In recent history's most anticipated give and go, the US has given Russia arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for letting Brittney Griner go, and with that, a BG's reunion is imminent. President Biden celebrated the prisoner swap with a tweet: "Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home." AP: WNBA star Griner freed in swap for Russian arms dealer Bout. The crossover wasn't exactly a fast break, but it's a good time to celebrate Griner's release. It's also a good time to consider how many people are rotting in America's jails for ridiculous drug possession charges.

+ It's a Bout Time: "Griner was accused of entering an airport near Moscow in February with vape cartridges containing less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage, which is illegal in Russia. Her lawyers said it was prescribed to treat chronic pain and other conditions. Bout, 55, is the most notorious arms dealer of his time, accused of profiting off weapons that fueled conflict in Africa, the Middle East and Asia ... What's less clear, however, is exactly why Russia cares so much about Bout. When CIA Director William J. Burns, at the Aspen Security Forum in July, was asked why Russia wanted Bout, Burns responded: 'That's a good question, because Viktor Bout's a creep.'" WaPo: Russia wanted Viktor Bout back, badly. The question is: Why?

+ The sports world reacts to Griner's release.


Mex and Balances

"'I have worked with your CIA,' Cienfuegos protested. 'I have been honored by your Department of Defense!' 'I understand,' the DEA agent said. 'But you have still been charged.'" ProPublica: The Cienfuegos Affair: Inside the Case that Upended America's Drug War. "Two years ago, the DEA arrested a Mexican general, hoping to lay bare the high-level corruption at the heart of organized crime. Then the case fell apart — and took down U.S.-Mexican cooperation on drug policy with it."

+ Meanwhile, as Mexico's epidemic of violence rages on, authorities seem powerless to stop it. "With more than 26,000 murders this year, it is clear the president's strategy of using the military to control the crime gangs has failed."


Fractured Family

"The baby woke up wailing just after 2 a.m., and the moment Sarah Perkins lifted her 14-week-old son, Cal, into her arms, she knew he had a fever. His temperature had climbed above 103, so Perkins was soon on her way to the emergency room while her husband, Josh Sabey, stayed at their apartment in Waltham, Mass., with their 3-year-old son, Clarence. In the pre-dawn hours of July 13, the doctors ordered an X-ray to check Cal's lungs for signs of infection, and that is when the family's nightmare began. The imaging revealed a healed fracture on Cal's rib cage, several weeks old, about the size of a thumbprint." An incredible, and apparently common, story that just gets more insane as it goes. WaPo (Gift Article): They brought their sick baby to the hospital. Three days later, the state took their kids away.

+ "After suffering decades of abuse, Helen Naslund was sentenced for killing her husband on their Alberta farm. She opens up for the first time about a life of violence and her fight for freedom." The Globe and Mail: In Her Defense.


Interesting Snippet

"Although there is scant national data on this surge, hospitals and doctors across the country are reporting a marked increase in both calls and appointments for the procedure, especially among young, childless men. On TikTok, the hashtag #vasectomy, which includes clips of women who assemble celebratory care packages for their partners, has been viewed 650 million times." How Dobbs Triggered a ‘Vasectomy Revolution.' (For no reason in particular, I'm pairing this story with a scene from Rocky.)


Extra, Extra

Gov and Marriage: "The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition of such unions that reflects a stunning turnaround in societal attitudes." Let's take a moment and look back at the day interracial marriage was legalized.

+ Peru the Day: "The president of Peru was ousted by Congress and arrested on a charge of rebellion Wednesday after he sought to dissolve the legislative body and take unilateral control of the government, triggering a grave constitutional crisis." (Wait, you can be ousted and arrested for trying to take over a national government?)

+ Veiled Threats: Iran executes first known prisoner arrested in protests. And, Iranian forces are shooting at faces and genitals of female protesters. "Doctors and nurses – treating demonstrators in secret to avoid arrest – said they first observed the practice after noticing that women often arrived with different wounds to men."

+ Old News: "Since the beginning of the pandemic, people 65 and older accounted for 75 percent of all American Covid deaths. That dropped below 60 percent as recently as September 2021. But today Americans 65 and over account for 90 percent of new Covid deaths." David Wallace-Wells in the NYT: Covid-19 Isn't a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated Anymore. It's a pandemic of the old.

+ Blood Cell: "Former Theranos executive Ramesh 'Sunny' Balwani was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 13 years in prison for his role in the company's blood-testing hoax — a punishment slightly longer than that given to the CEO, who was his lover and accomplice in one of Silicon Valley's biggest scandals."

+ Saudi With a Chance of Meet Schmalz: Sometimes a few images can tell the whole story. Saudi's MBS rolls out the red carpet for China's Xi, in a not too subtle message to Biden.

+ Break on Through: "Pictures of the beginning of the universe, medicine that can (kind of) reverse death, and other leaps of human ingenuity." The Atlantic: Breakthroughs of the Year. (I'm just bummed I didn't come up with that Saudi With a Chance of Meet Schmalz headline in time to qualify.)

+ Unlucky Stiff: Céline Dion says she's dealing with neurological condition known as stiff-person syndrome. And sadly, it has a negative impact on her vocal chords.

+ Why Luck Ran Out: "At first, Luck wasn't in the mood to hear it. He couldn't hear it. He wasn't sleeping well, he was in pain, he was fighting with Nicole, the team was halfway across the globe without him, and if he stopped to examine his life, the entire world he had constructed might start to unravel, perhaps revealing it to be fatally flawed all along. 'I understood myself best as a quarterback,' Luck says. 'I felt no understanding of other parts of myself at all.'" Andrew Luck finally reveals why he walked away from the NFL.


Bottom of the News

Sit back an enjoy the incredible bike skills of Danny MacAskill, matched by the endless beauty of his backdrop. Danny MacAskill's Postcard from San Francisco.