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A Russian judge sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to 9 years in prison on Thursday for smuggling several vape cartridges containing cannabis oil into Russia on February 17.

Judge Anna Sotnikova reduced Griner's 9.5 year sentence by 6 months for time already served.

The judge also ordered Griner to pay 1 million rubles ($16,700 USD) for intentionally breaking Russian law.

Griner stared blankly at the judge when her sentence was translated into English by an interpreter.

The Phoenix Mercury center told the judge she understood she had the right to appeal her conviction.

Rappers 50 Cent, Boosie Badazz, Meek Mill and others reacted to Griner's harsh sentence on social media.

Pop singer Justin Bieber also responded to her conviction and sentencing by offering to help free her.

The Grammy Award winner took to Instagram and asked his followers for suggestions to help him free Griner.

He shared an image of Griner on her way to court. "This hurts. If anyone knows of anyway I can help please let me know," he wrote.

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Griner, who has been detained since her arrest at a Moscow airport, pled guilty on July 7 to accelerate her drug trial.

The Biden administration had offered to swap convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan who was arrested in 2018 and charged with spying for the US.

Sources say Griner knew that any prisoner swap could not occur until her trial was completed. Griner's drug trial, which began in June, was expected to last 6 months under Russian law.

Viktor Bout was convicted in New York of conspiracy to kill Americans in 2012 and sentenced to serve 12 years.

But Russian officials did not express interest in a prisoner exchange for Bout.

BACKGRID

Malia Obama's new boyfriend has been identified. According to DailyMail.com, Dawit Eklund is an Ethiopian record producer whose father is a retired State Department employee.

Dawit turns 33 next week, making him nine years older than the former president's 24-year-old daughter.

Malia and Dawit were spotted together Thursday, for the third time in 2 weeks. They walked arm-in-arm as they visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

BACKGRID

Gossip blogs speculated that Dawit was her latest boyfriend after she dumped Rory Farquharson (pictured left).

Malia and Rory met in 2017 when the two were students at Harvard University.

BACKGRID

Malia graduated from Harvard last year and moved to the west coast. Presumably, Rory stayed on the east coast.

Dawit is co-founder of Washington, D.C.-based record label 1432 R, which specializes in Ethiopian music. He is also a registered Democrat, according to DailyMail.com.


BACKGRID

Besides bearing a strong resemblance to Barack Obama, Dawit has a cigarette smoking habit just like the former president.

Dawit attended George Washington University where he studied International Development in Africa.

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A Russian judge sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to 9 years in prison on Thursday. Griner pleaded guilty last month to smuggling cannabis oil in vape pens into Russia.

Griner's attorneys asked for leniency, but the judge agreed with the prosecution's recommendation for a sentence of 9.5 years.

AFP via Getty Images

Judge Anna Sotnikova reduced the sentence by 6 months for time served, since Griner has been in custody since her arrest in February.

Griner stared blankly at the judge when her sentence was translated into English.

Griner, 31, previously said she was rushing to pack and didn't realize the vape pens were in her luggage.

AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration has not responded to Griner's quick sentencing. Her trial, which began in June, was expected to last 6 months.

The Biden administration had offered to swap Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan who was arrested in 2018 and charged with spying for the US.

But former President Donald Trump objected to the prisoner swap. Trump called Griner "spoiled", and he said she should remain in Russia if a prisoner exchange meant endangering American lives.

Griner will be transferred from the detention center to a woman's prison to begin serving her sentence.

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Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King threatened to dox two New York Post reporters for exposing his extravagant purchases in a series of articles.

King was outraged that the reporters accused him of using donations to his political action committees (PACs) to buy a $40,000 purebred mastiff dog and a lakefront property.

King posted photos of two New York Post writers on his Facebook and Instagram pages and asked his followers to send him their home addresses and other personal contact information.

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"To Isabel Vincent of the @NYPost," King wrote on Instagram.

"You posted my house online. And caused white supremacists to show up at my doorstep to terrify my wife and kids. You interrupted our entire lives doing so. You know that would happen when you published my home. But you did it anyway."

"And you did it without consequence," he added, according to Daily Beast.

He also posted a photo of a male reporter and asked his supporters to dox him, according to Daily Beast.

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"This is Kevin Sheehan of the @NYPost. He has been attacking me and my family. Send me photos of his home. Send me photos of him. And his family," he wrote.

According to Sheehan, King reportedly used $40,000 in donations from his Grassroots Law PAC to purchase his mastiff dog, Marz.

Nenov / Moment

Sheehan co-wrote a report on Tuesday about King defending his purchase of the dog.

King, who is white, said the dog was necessary to defend his family from white supremacists.

King deleted his online threats to Sheehan and Vincent, but he later warned the journalists again.

"That's my word," King wrote. "I've been far too kind to all of you that disrupted my life and made my wife and kids cry. Not going to accept it. Cross my family again and see what happens. And I'm backdating this promise a few years."

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Shakira and her sons were seen leaving Miami amid reports she may face 8 years in prison for income tax evasion.

The Colombian superstar and her sons, Sasha, 7, and Milan, 9, were surrounded by bodyguards as they made their way through Miami's International Airport to board a flight.

The Shakira sighting came days after she was indicted for defrauding the Spanish treasury out of $14 million over three years.

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The charges were contained in the indictment and made public on July 29 in a court in Barcelona.

Prosecutors want the maximum sentence for the "Beyonce of Latin Music." She faces 8 years in prison if she is found guilty of income tax fraud.

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A rep referred to the singer as a law-abiding taxpayer.

"Shakira has always cooperated and abided by the law, demonstrating impeccable conduct as an individual and a taxpayer, and faithfully following the counsel of PriceWaterhouse Coopers, a prestigious and globally recognized tax firm."

The singer, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak, is the top-selling female Latin singer of all time. She has sold over 80 million records worldwide.

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Sisters Ashley Judd (center) and Wynonna Judd (right) were left out of their mother Naomi Judd's will.

Naomi, who took her own life on April 30 at age 76, cut her only daughters out of her will, Page Six confirmed.

Instead, the acclaimed country music singer left her entire estate to Larry Strickland, her husband of 33 years.

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Siblings Ashley (center) and Wynonna (right) joined Strickland onstage at a memorial for Naomi Judd on May 15, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Naomi requested that Strickland be the executor of her estate, according to Page Six.

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Naomi asked that the 76-year-old musician have "full authority and discretion" over any property that is an asset to her estate "without the approval of any court" or permission from any beneficiary of the estate.

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Naomi, pictured 2 weeks before she died, also stated that if Strickland was unable to be executor of the estate, she wanted her brother-in-law, Reginald Strickland, and Daniel Kris Wiatr, the president of Wiatr & Associates, to serve as co-executors.

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The star (pictured right with Wynonna in 2006) suffered from debilitating depression for most of her adult life. There was never any indication that the relationship between Naomi and her daughters Ashley, 54, and Wynonna, 58, was strained.

According to the will, which was prepared on Nov. 20, 2017, Naomi was of "sound mind and disposing memory" when she signed and approved the will.

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Twitter activist Shaun King allegedly spent donated funds on a fancy purebred show dog, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

King has been accused of misappropriating donations on pet projects in the past.

According to campaign finance disclosures filed by King's Grassroots Law PAC, $30,000 went to the California-based Potrero Performance Dogs.

The payments are labeled for "contractor services," according to the Beacon. But days after a $30,650 payment in February, King welcomed a "new member of the King family": an award-winning mastiff dog named Marz.

Nenov / Moment

Mastiffs are a British dog breed who grow to a very large size. Despite their imposing size they are not an aggressive breed.

Legal observers say the purchase by the PAC may not be illegal, but it "shows little respect for King's donors," said Scott Walter, the president of Capital Research Center.

Million-dollar donors to King's individual PACs include an heiress of the Hormel meatpacking empire (Spam canned meats), and Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife, who donated millions of dollars to Real Justice PAC, which King founded in 2018.

King has come under fire in the past for holding unauthorized fundraisers and allegedly pocketing the money.

The mother of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a Cleveland boy who was killed by a cop, said King "robbed" her by holding unauthorized fundraisers in her son's name.

King deleted his Twitter page after Samaria Rice called him a "white man".

King has denied allegations of fraud. "I have not received a salary or a stipend of any kind for the entire year," he claimed in 2019. "I do it all for free."

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Lil Durk nearly lost an eye when pyrotechnics exploded in his face while performing at Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, July 30.

Cell phone video shows the Chicago drill rapper performing when pyrotechnics went off directly in his face.

The stunned rapper staggered backwards, as the DJ asked him if he was OK. After taking a few moments to compose himself, the gangsta rapper continued the show.

On Sunday, he shared a photo of himself on Instagram, with gauze covering his right eye. He said he was taking a break from performing while he recovers from his injuries.

Durk captioned the photo: "Due to the incident that happened at Lollapalooza in Chicago on stage, I'ma take a break & focus on my health. I finished my performance yesterday for my fans. Appreciate y'all."

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There was no statement from Lollapalooza organizers. But Lil Durk's fans on social media are convinced that the pyrotechnics was no freak accident.

Lil Durk is a reputed member of Chicago's OTF/Lamron set, a faction of the notorious Black Disciples street gang.

Lollapalooza is considered one of the largest music festivals in the U.S. The 4-day summer music festival is held annually at Grant Park.

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Former President Donald Trump suggested the U.S. should not swap detained WNBA star Brittney Griner for a Russian arms dealer.

Trump made the statement during an interview on the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show. He insinuated that he would not swap "spoiled" Griner for the "Merchant of Death" Viktor Bout because it "doesn't seem like a very good trade."

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Griner was detained at a Moscow airport on February 17 after officials discovered vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She pled guilty in July.

"She knew you don't go in there loaded up with drugs, and she admitted it," Trump said. "I assume she admitted it without too much force because it is what it is, and it certainly doesn't seem like a very good trade, does it? He's absolutely one of the worst in the world, and he's gonna be given his freedom because a potentially spoiled person goes into Russia loaded up with drugs."

Viktor Bout was accused of conspiracy to kill Americans. He was convicted in New York in 2012 and sentenced to 25 years in a federal prison.

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Trump continued: "She went in there loaded up with drugs into a hostile territory where they're very vigilant about drugs. They don't like drugs. And she got caught. And now we're supposed to get her out — and she makes, you know, a lot of money, I guess. We're supposed to get her out for an absolute killer and one of the biggest arms dealers in the world. Killed many Americans. Killed many people."

In 2017, Trump asked China's president to help UCLA men's basketball player LiAngelo Ball and two other players who were caught stealing from a Louis Vuitton store.

After they returned to the US, the three athletes held a press conference where Ball thanked Trump for his help.
 

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Russian officials say no deal has been reached with the US to swap WNBA star Brittney Griner and another detainee for a Russian arms dealer.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the Biden administration made an offer to Moscow, Russia "weeks ago" to secure the release of Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.

Whelan was arrested in Russia in 2018 and charged with spying.

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After months of inaction, the Biden administration offered to exchange Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and Whelan.

Viktor Bout, who is dubbed "the merchant of death, is serving a 25-year prison sentence for "conspiracy to kill Americans." He was convicted in New York in 2012.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that "so far, there is no agreement" to swap Griner or Whelan for a prisoner in the US.

His statement may be an indication that Bout is not as valuable to the Russians as Griner or Whelan.

Blinken said he plans to speak with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in the coming days to discuss the prisoner swap.

"I plan to raise an issue that's a top priority for us: the release of Americans Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, who have been wrongfully detained and must be allowed to come home," Blinken said. "We put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release. Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal."

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Aspiring rapper Quando Rondo, 23, is in a hospital fighting for his life, according to a post on his Instagram page.

Sources tell Sandrarose.com that Rondo is in acute kidney failure after drinking lean, a concoction of prescription codeine and hard candy mixed in a soft drink.

Someone updated Rondo's IG page with the message: "pray for me, in da hospital fightin for my life [sic]." The post ended with the hashtag #fuclean.

Quando has over 3.7 million followers on Instagram.

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Rondo was in a different kind of fight with Chicago drill rapper King Von in 2020 when Von was fatally shot by Rondo's brother Timothy Leeks, a.k.a. Lul Timm, outside a hookah lounge in Atlanta.

Leeks is out on bond awaiting trial.

Rondo has been a wanted man ever since Von's death. Rumor has it that there's a million dollar price tag on Leeks' and Rondo's heads.

Both Rondo's and Leeks' rap careers were derailed after the shooting. Rondo travels with a huge entourage to protect him from aspiring rappers and shooters trying to make a name for themselves by ending his life.

Rapper Lil Keed died from multiple organ failure after drinking lean in May. He was only 24.

Stay tuned for more on this developing story.

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Rapper Drake is accused of being a "climate criminal" after a Twitter user tracked several 14-minute flights made by Drake's private jet in one month.

The Twitter account Celebrity Jet Tracker found that private planes owned by Drake and other celebrities, including Kylie Jenner, made multiple short trips that dumped tons of carbon into the Earth's atmosphere.

Drake quickly distanced himself from those flights, which he said were empty.

"This is just them moving planes to whatever airport they are being stored at for anyone who was interested in the logistics ... nobody takes the flight," Drake wrote in an Instagram comment.

According to reports, the refurbished cargo plane was a "gift" to Drake from Virgin Atlantic.

The plane was given to Drake for promotional purposes (Virgin Atlantic's logo is painted on the tail).

The Guardian reports that private jets dump 33 million tons of greenhouse gases and are 5 to 14 times more likely to pollute the air than commercial planes because they carry so few passengers.

The Virgin Atlantic cargo plane is designed to carry 200+ passengers.

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the Biden administration made an offer to Moscow, Russia "weeks ago" to secure the release of detained WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American.

Blinken said the U.S. offered a "substantial proposal" to Russia "weeks ago" for the release of Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.

Whelan was arrested in Russia on December 28, 2018, and accused of spying.

"We put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release," Blinken told reporters during a press briefing at the U.S. State Department on Tuesday.

"In the coming days, I expect to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov for the first time since the [Ukraine] war began," Blinken said. "I plan to raise an issue that's a top priority for us: the release of Americans Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, who have been wrongfully detained and must be allowed to come home. We put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release. Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal."

Meanwhile, Russian officials paraded Griner in front of the cameras on day 6 of her drug trial on Tuesday.

She testified in her own defense for the first time in open court. Griner complained that a Russian translator didn't explain everything to her during her arrest at a Moscow airport on February 17.

Griner was detained after vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were discovered in her luggage.

Griner said an interpreter translated a small portion of what was said during her questioning at the airport.

She said officials instructed her to sign documents without providing an explanation of what she was signing on February 17.

Griner said she was aware of a state department advisory warning Americans not to travel to Russia or Ukraine. But she said she wanted to help her Russian basketball team win another championship.

She previously pled guilty to carrying illegal drugs into the country, but she said she was rushing to pack and didn't realize the drugs were in her luggage.

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Brittney Griner's drug trial resumed on Tuesday, July 26. The slow-moving trial began on July 1 and is expected to drag on for five months, according to reports.

For her courtroom attire, Griner chose the same Cross Colours Black Lives Matter hoodie she wore when she was arrested at a Moscow airport in mid-February.

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The black hoodie features the words "Cross Colours" on the sleeves and "Black Lives For Peace" on the back.

In an earlier trial, Griner acknowledged carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage when she arrived in Moscow, Russia on Feb. 17.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and Phoenix Mercury center said she rushed to pack and did not realize the vape pens were in her luggage.

Her attorney presented a letter from a doctor who suggested she use cannabis oil for pre-existing conditions such as ADHD.

The US State Department has officially declared Griner a political prisoner who is "wrongfully detained".

But the Russian government rejected the designation, according to the NY Post.

"If a U.S. citizen was taken in connection with the fact that she was smuggling drugs, and she does not deny this, then this should be commensurate with our Russian local laws, and not with those adopted in San Francisco, New York and Washington," spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

She added: "If drugs are legalized in the United States, in a number of states, and this is done for a long time and now the whole country will become drug-addicted, this does not mean that all other countries are following the same path."

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An Iowa weather station has apologized after a racial slur was aired during a local Weather Channel TV broadcast.

The graphic containing the n-word went viral on Twitter after it "accidentally" aired during the Des Moines-based Weather Channel's "Local on the 8s" segment Thursday.

"I've blurred it, but I'm pretty sure you can figure out what it said," tweeted journalist Matthew Keys.

The graphic read: "Hello Des Moines, This is your weather my N----s."

The reaction was swift on Twitter. However, the Weather Channel denies that the racial slur originated with the station.

"This did not originate with us, and we are in the process of investigating it further," a spokesperson told Keys, in a tweet.

One television news expert backed up Matthews that the mistake originated with TWC.

"TWC has computer units at cable headends to produce the local on the 8s, and a rogue cable employee must've messed with the files and caused it to say that," wrote one Twitter user.

TWC has since deleted the slur and apologized for the incident on Facebook.

"A graphic during the Weather Channel cable network's 'Local on the 8s' presentation in Des Moines last evening included a racial slur," the post read. "We removed this graphic as soon as we learned of it. This did not originate with us, and we are in the process of investigating it further. We apologize to our viewers."