By Dana Malcolm
#USA, August 5, 2022 – American Basketball star Brittney Griner has been sentenced to 9 ½ years in a Russian prison after being found guilty in her drug trial.
Live video of the trial allowed the world to see Griner as she sat alone separated from her team by bars. As an unseen Court worker reads in rapid fire Russian, the basketball star and her translator lean their heads against the bars in an effort to get her to understand as her fate is decided in a language she cannot understand. When the verdict was read, Griner simply lowered herself to her chair ignoring calls from reporters as they were ushered out.
After the verdict a representative of the US embassy told the press, “Ms. Griner was sentenced to 9 years in prison for nothing more than an unintentional oversight. This is a miscarriage of justice. The US Department of state has determined that Ms. Griner is wrongfully detained, nothing in today’s verdict changes that decision. The entire US government remains committed to bringing Ms. Griner home safely to her family and loved ones.”
The prosecution in her case had pushed for the heavy sentence even after months of detainment and public outcry from U.S. citizens.
It was almost a guarantee that she would be found guilty, as Griner plead guilty to the charges. What was up in the air was how long she would be sentenced for, her team had said if she was not acquitted, she should get the lightest sentence possible as her testimony showed an absolute lack of intent to break Russian laws.
Russia is yet to announce whether they will participate in a proposed prisoner swap between Griner and another US citizen Paul Whelan in exchange for the ‘Merchant of Death’ Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms dealer.
Though Griner plead guilty, her lawyers had argued that exhausted from a long flight and only just recovering from COVID, she packed in a rush not realizing that the prescription marijuana cartridges which she only ever used in Arizona where they were legal had made their way into her luggage.
Additionally, they tried to present her to the court as the upstanding role model that she is.
“In sprinting there is Usain Bolt, in Formula 1 Michael Schumacher, and in women’s basketball there is Brittney Griner,” is what her lawyer told the court according to Reuters.
The court also heard testimony from members of her team in Russia and the doctor who prescribed the marijuana.
Griner will serve her time in a high security facility and pay a nearly US$17,000 fine. Though there is still hope of a prisoner exchange, unfortunately the US says Russia has been dragging its feet.
The basketballer’s fate rests now with the Kremlin.
Vessels sink with 900 barrels of fuel in Trinidad
By Shanieka Smith
#Trinidad, December 2, 2022 – The Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources in Trinidad reported on Wednesday that a ship carrying 900 barrels of diesel fuel had sunk in the Gulf of Paria. The six crew members on board were rescued and received medical assessment.
The statement revealed that the barge owned by Trinity Liftboat Services Limited was trying to demobilise Trinity Heritage Petroleum Company’s North Field when it capsized.
After receiving an SOS from a vessel in their North Field, Heritage sent out a response team. An investigation into the incident has started, however, the main focus is to redeem the barge without making any oil spills.
The owners of the sunken vessel said “there are no injuries recorded. (The vessel) now sits on the seafloor no longer posing a risk to any of Heritage Petroleum’s platforms or installations.” They said the captain made a good decision to abandon the ship so that the crew members could be rescued and transported back to base.
Digital coin created for Caribbean’s Dominica as island partners with Huobi
By Shanieka Smith
December 2, 2022 – The Commonwealth of Dominica has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, to issue its own national cryptocurrencies, Dominica Coin (DMC), and Digital Identity Documents (DID), already reports indicate a surge for the Huobi token.
This new collaboration with Dominica will bring the Caribbean one step closer to being a global cryptocurrency exchange centre. Huobi also announced its intention to move headquarters from Seychelles to the Caribbean.
It was explained, “The deal is noteworthy partly because of its connections to crypto billionaire Justin Sun, founder of the Tron blockchain where the Caribbean island’s new token will initially reside.”
Dominica Coin (DMC) and digital identity documents (DID) will be issued by Huobi Prime via the TRON network (a project dedicated to building the infrastructure for a truly decentralized Internet); both will serve as credentials for the future metaverse platform based in Dominica. DIDs can be used for cryptocurrency Know Your Customer verification, applying for loans, and opening bank accounts on the island.
The DMC is not yet ready for launch, but The HT token is up 15% over the last 24 hours to $7.12. It’s up 40% over the past seven days.
As one of the first Caribbean islands to adopt the citizenship-by-investment policy, the Dominican government is seeking to delve into the metaverse and Web3 technology as a means to boost the country’s development.
Imminent Worldwide Measles Threat; 25 Million CHILDREN miss First Dose
By Dana Malcolm
December 2, 2022 – Forty million children are at risk of Measles as what the World Health Organization is describing as an “imminent threat” takes shape. A joint report between the WHO and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control revealed that a record number of children missed their measles dose with 25 million children missing their first dose and 14.7 million children missing their second dose in 2021 alone.
Nine million cases of measles were recorded last year, twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks and 128,000 deaths occurred, the report says.
“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Measles is easily one of the most contagious viruses in the world and while many people think itchy spots when they think of the disease it can cause pneumonia, seizures and brain damage in about 30 percent of infected individuals.
Herd immunity will not work with this disease, say experts, unless 95 per cent of people or more are vaccinated; only 71 per cent of children in 2022 are fully vaccinated.
“Measles anywhere is a threat everywhere” the report said, emphasizing that no WHO region has achieved and sustained measles elimination.
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