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The Morning Rundown™

Morning rundown: Griner back in U.S.; Musk releases ‘Twitter files’

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Brittney Griner is back on U.S. soil; Musk releases the next round of his “Twitter-Files”; and the U.S. is monitoring China’s space debris. This is your morning rundown, aimed down the middle, for Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. 

Brittney Griner flight lands in San Antonio

Brittney Griner landed in San Antonio Friday morning. She is expected to first go to a treatment facility there to receive any medical care she may need after 10 months in detention. A medical evaluation is standard procedure for freed U.S. prisoners.

Griner was seen smiling in a video taken from the plane ride over to America from Russia.

Paul Whelan’s family reacts to Griner release

The administration was unable to bring a former U.S. Marine out of Russian captivity as part of the Griner deal. Paul Whelan, an ex-Marine still in a Russian prison, was able to talk with his family Thursday and expressed his support for Griner getting out.

While he’s grateful for her freedom, his hopes for his own return are diminishing. His brother, David Whelan, says Paul felt hopeful after his name was mentioned in negotiations, but now the family worries his chances for release are slim-to-none.

“And so, I think we aren’t really sure what the way forward is, to know what the likelihood is that he will ever be freed other than by serving his entire term,” David Whelan said.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema switches to Independent

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced she is switching her party affiliation. The onetime Democratic senator has now registered as an independent.

Sinema says she doesn’t anticipate any changes to the Senate structure, which stood at a 51-49 Democratic majority after midterms.

She didn’t say whether she would be running for re-election in 2024.

Musk claims censorship in new Twitter files

Last week, Elon Musk delivered the first installment of so-called “Twitter files” and promised more to come. Now a week later, new allegations have been dropped.

This time Elon Musk and his team posted internal communications from Twitter executives. They call it evidence the firm has been censoring conservative accounts, including activist Charlie Kirk, the founders of conservative account “Libs of TikTok” and Fox News contributor Dan Bongino.

Musk said Twitter built “blacklists,” prevented some tweets from trending, and limited account visibility.

U.S. to monitor China’s activity in space

The U.S. is looking to protect its assets in space after the amount of man-made objects and debris has nearly doubled in just three years.

The U.S. says they are keeping an eye on China as the world’s top countries look to expand on its space technology.

The U.S. says China’s activities in space could potentially threaten American satellites and space stations as more and more debris is being found in low orbit.

Space is the land of potential, as countries like the U.S. and China see the economic and military benefits it can bring.

Officer to be sentenced for George Floyd’s death

A former Minneapolis police officer will be sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting second degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. He’s expected to receive 3.5 years in prison.

The officer sentenced today had kneeled on Floyd’s back while another Officer Derek Chauvin had a knee on Floyd’s neck. There are a total of four officers who have been convicted in Floyd’s death.

FTC sues to stop Microsoft gaming expansion

Microsoft’s plan to grow its gaming space with the purchase of video game company “Activision Blizzard” has just been met with a legal challenge.

The Federal Trade Commission is now suing to block the merger, arguing it would limit a competitive gaming space, breaking antitrust laws. Microsoft owns the popular “Xbox console.”

The case isn’t likely to be taken up until August of 2023.

Microsoft says they will likely challenge the FTC’s lawsuit and welcomed the opportunity to present their case for the merger in court.

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KARAH RUCKER: BRITTNEY GRINER IS BACK ON U.S. SOIL. HER PLANE HAS LANDED IN TEXAS. THIS IS YOUR MORNING RUNDOWN AIMED DOWN THE MIDDLE WITH STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS.

BRITTNEY GRINER FLIGHT LANDS IN SAN ANTONIO

BRITTNEY GRINER HAS LANDED IN SAN ANTONIO THIS MORNING. SHE IS EXPECTED TO FIRST GO TO A TREATMENT FACILITY THERE TO RECEIVE ANY MEDICAL CARE SHE MAY NEED AFTER 10 MONTHS IN DETENTION. A MEDICAL EVALUATION IS STANDARD PROCEDURE FOR FREED U.S. PRISONERS.

GRINER WAS SEEN SMILING IN VIDEO TAKEN FROM THE PLANE RIDE OVER TO AMERICA FROM RUSSIA.

PAUL WHELAN’S FAMILY REACTS TO GRINER RELEASE

THE ADMINISTRATION WAS UNABLE TO BRING AN AMERICAN MARINE OUT OF RUSSIAN CAPTIVITY AS PART OF THIS DEAL. PAUL WHELAN IS ALSO TOP OF MIND TODAY AS AMERICA CELEBRATES THE RETURN OF GRINER.

PAUL WHELAN WAS ABLE TO TALK WITH HIS FAMILY YESTERDAY, AND EXPRESSED HIS SUPPORT FOR GRINER GETTING OUT.

WHILE HE’S GRATEFUL FOR HER FREEDOM, HIS HOPES FOR HIS OWN RETURN IS DIMINISHING. HIS BROTHER SAYS WHELAN FELT HOPEFUL AFTER HIS NAME WAS MENTIONED IN NEGOTIATIONS, BUT NOW THE FAMILY WORRIES HIS CHANCES FOR RELEASE ARE SLIM-TO-NONE.

DAVID WHELAN | BROTHER OF PAUL WHELAN: “And so, I think we aren’t really sure what the way forward is, to know what the likelihood is that he will ever be freed other than by serving his entire term.”

ARIZONA SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA SWITCHES TO INDEPENDENT

ARIZONA SENATOR KYRSTEN SINEMA HAS ANNOUNCED SHE IS SWITCHING HER PARTY AFFILIATION. THE DEMOCRATIC SENATOR HAS NOW REGISTERED AS AN INDEPENDENT.

SINEMA SAYS SHE DOESN’T ANTICIPATE ANY CHANGES TO THE SENATE STRUCTURE, WHICH STOOD AT A 51-49 DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY AFTER MIDTERMS.
SHE DIDN’T SAY WHETHER SHE WOULD BE RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION IN 20-24.

MUSK CLAIMS CENSORSHIP IN NEW TWITTER FILES

LAST WEEK, ELON MUSK DELIVERED THE FIRST INSTALLMENT OF SO-CALLED “TWITTER FILES” AND PROMISED MORE TO COME. NOW A WEEK LATER, NEW ALLEGATIONS HAVE BEEN DROPPED.

THIS TIME, ELON MUSK AND HIS TEAM POSTED INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS FROM TWITTER EXECUTIVES. THEY CALL IT EVIDENCE THE FIRM HAS BEEN CENSORING CONSERVATIVE ACCOUNTS. INCLUDING ACTIVIST CHARLIE KIRK, THE FOUNDERS OF CONSERVATIVE ACCOUNT “LIBS OF TIKTOK” AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR DAN BONGINO.

MUSK SAYS TWITTER BUILT “BLACKLISTS”, PREVENTED SOME TWEETS FROM TRENDING, AND LIMITED ACCOUNT VISIBILITY.

THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO THIS. ONE SCREAMS CENSORSHIP. THE OTHER SAYS IT WAS TWITTER’S WAY OF FILTERING OUT MISINFORMATION.

U.S. TO MONITOR CHINA’S ACTIVITY IN SPACE

THE U.S. IS LOOKING TO PROTECT ITS ASSETS IN SPACE. AFTER THE AMOUNT OF MAN-MADE OBJECTS AND DEBRIS HAS NEARLY DOUBLED IN JUST THREE YEARS.

THE U.S. SAYS THEY ARE KEEPING AN EYE ON CHINA. AS THE WORLD’S TOP COUNTRIES LOOK TO EXPAND ON ITS SPACE TECHNOLOGY.

THE U.S. SAYS CHINA’S ACTIVITIES IN SPACE COULD POTENTIALLY THREATEN AMERICAN SATELLITES AND SPACE STATIONS AS MORE AND MORE DEBRIS IS BEING FOUND IN LOW ORBIT.

SPACE IS THE LAND OF POTENTIAL, AS COUNTRIES LIKE THE U.S. AND CHINA SEE THE ECONOMIC AND MILITARY BENEFITS IT CAN BRING.

OFFICER TO BE SENTENCED FOR GEORGE FLOYD’S DEATH

A MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICER WILL BE SENTENCED, TODAY, AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO AIDING AND ABETTING SECOND DEGREE MANSLAUGHTER IN THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD. HE’S EXPECTED TO RECEIVE 3 AND A HALF YEARS IN PRISON.

THE OFFICER SENTENCED TODAY HAD KNEELED ON FLOYD’S BACK WHILE ANOTHER OFFICER “DEREK CHAUVIN” HAD A KNEE ON FLOYD’S NECK. THERE ARE A TOTAL OF FOUR OFFICERS WHO HAVE BEEN CONVICTED IN FLOYD’S DEATH.

FTC SUES TO STOP MICROSOFT GAMING EXPANSION

MICROSOFT’S PLAN TO GROW IT’S GAMING SPACE WITH THE PURCHASE OF VIDEO GAME COMPANY “ACTIVISION BLIZZARD” HAS JUST BEEN MET WITH A LEGAL CHALLENGE.

THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION IS NOW SUING TO BLOCK THE MERGER, ARGUING IT WOULD LIMIT A COMPETITIVE GAMING SPACE, BREAKING ANTI-TRUST LAWS. MICROSOFT OWNS THE POPULAR “X-BOX CONSOLE.”

THE CASE ISN’T LIKELY TO BE TAKEN UP UNTIL AUGUST OF 20-23.

MICROSOFT SAYS THEY WILL LIKELY CHALLENGE THE FTC’S LAWSUIT AND WELCOMED THE OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT THEIR CASE FOR THE MERGER IN COURT.