Your Friday Briefing: Russia Sentences Brittney Griner to 9 Years

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We’re talking about Chinese military exercises in Taiwan and the conviction of American basketball star Brittney Griner.

A Russian court has sentenced Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who has been detained in Moscow since February, to nine years in a penal colony for drug possession.

The conviction, which most experts believe is predestined in a judicial system in which defendants are rarely acquitted, leaves Griner’s fate subject to diplomatic wrangling between Russia and the US. for one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers.

US officials allege Griner was wrongfully detained and held as a political bargaining chip. President Biden, who called the phrase “unacceptable,” now faces a tough choice between standing firm on his proposal to swap arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and another American, Paul Whelan, or sweeten the offer.

News from the war in Ukraine:


The Chinese military is currently conducting military tests in the waters around Taiwan — a show of force intended to punish the island for hosting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this week.

At least 11 Chinese missiles hit the seas north, south and east of Taiwan within 24 hours of Pelosi’s departure. The drills, some of which are being held in areas less than 10 miles from Taiwan’s coast, will also have given Chinese troops valuable training if they were one day ordered to surround and attack the island.

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While an imminent conflict is unlikely, the exercises, which are expected to last three full days, are putting the region on edge. Tensions can escalate dangerously, especially when things go wrong. The Japanese government said five Chinese missiles had fallen into its exclusive economic zone, the first time one had landed in those waters.

American view: US officials have expressed concern that the events could lead to an unintended confrontation between Chinese and Taiwanese forces, especially if the Chinese military launches a missile over the island, or if a raid on the disputed airspace sparks a mid-air conflict.

In China: On social media, many Chinese were disappointed with Pelosi’s limited response to Pelosi’s visit, especially given the government’s harsh rhetoric. Some users compared the military to the Chinese men’s soccer team, a laughing stock in the country because it has only qualified for the World Cup once.

Next stop: Pelosi met with political leaders in South Korea on Thursday and remained largely silent about China’s response, The The US Express News reported. The South Korean president, who is on vacation, spoke to her over the phone rather than in person — what critics saw as a deliberate rejection, bearing in mind South Korea’s relations with China.


Long criticized for ignoring the damaging effects of climate change, Australia – the world’s third largest exporter of fossil fuels – took an important step towards reducing its emissions.

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The country’s House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require the government to cut CO2 emissions by at least 43 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. The bill is expected to pass within be passed by the Senate in a few weeks.

“The impact of climate change is real. We need a response that is real,” said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who campaigned for the pledge when he challenged the long-ruling Conservative coalition in May elections. “The government offers that.”

But the move is widely seen as much overdue. A separate proposal by the Australian Greens that would have required a 75 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 was rejected. Greens leader Adam Bandt has argued that the government’s lower target will lead to the demise of the Great Barrier Reef, which is expected to continue to struggle under current warming trends.

Global context: The 43 percent pledge brings Australia closer to the reductions promised by Canada, South Korea and Japan, while still falling short on pledges from the US, EU and Britain.

Efforts are underway in Ireland to preserve the call of the corncrake – a small, shy bird related to the coot. Its loud and monotonous cry is rarely heard today, but for older generations it was a beloved sound of summer, evoking melancholy memories of warm weather, haymaking and romantic nights.

The New Zealand All Blacks have dominated men’s rugby for 119 years.

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With three World Cup titles and an absolute win rate of almost 80 percent, no country in the world has a winning record against them.

But after a series of defeats led to a humble drop in the world rankings, the team – and New Zealand – are faced with a prospect that once seemed unthinkable: The All Blacks are in decline, and this time they may not have what it takes to bounce back.

The All Blacks have lost four of their last five games and dropped to fourth in the world rankings, their lowest position ever. Their struggles left New Zealand wondering not only why its most iconic representatives faltered, but also what it means when the world’s greatest rugby team isn’t quite the best.

Part of the answer? New Zealand has changed. While rugby still fascinates many, the number of men playing the game is decreasing as interest in other sports increases. A recent survey found that only 7 percent of young New Zealanders play regularly.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Until next time. — Matthew

PS Matt Purdy was appointed Editor at Large, a new leadership position at The Times.

The latest episode of “The Daily” focuses on the Kansas abortion referendum.

You can reach Matthew and the team at [email protected].

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