FSB Team of Chemical Weapon Experts Implicated in Alexey Navalny Novichok Poisoning - bellingcat

A joint investigation between Bellingcat and The Insider, in cooperation with Der Spiegel and CNN, has discovered voluminous telecom and travel data that implicates Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in the poisoning of the prominent Russian oppositi

Link: https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2020/12/14/fsb-team-of-chemical-weapon-experts-implicated-in-alexey-navalny-novichok-poisoning/
This investigation has unearthed large volumes of data implicating Russia’s preeminent security agency, the FSB, in tailing Navalny over a long period of time using operatives that have specialized training in chemical weapons, chemistry and medicine – a skillset inconsistent with regular surveillance practices. These operatives were in the vicinity of the opposition activist in the days and hours of the time-range during which he was poisoned with a military-grade chemical weapon. They were in the vicinity of Navalny on at least one other occasion when a family member felt inexplicable symptoms consistent with a non-lethal, accidental dosage of the same toxin. They had previously tailed the opposition figure on over 37 trips in the last four years. Given this implausible series of coincidences, the burden of proof for an innocent explanation appears to rest purely with the Russian state.

Instagram’s Favorite New Yorker Cartoons of 2020

If you, like me, need a fun-filled break from the past twelve pretty uneventful months, feast your eyes on these cartoons.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/2020-in-review/instagrams-favorite-new-yorker-cartoons-of-2020
As I’m sure you know, this kind of bliss does get a bit tedious as time goes on—too much of a good thing makes Johnny a dull boy. So sometimes I crave something different. In these moments, I grab my cell phone and begin to look at various social-media sites. Instagram is one that I use in particular—I hear that it is quite popular. If you go to instagram dot com, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Images, more than any one person could possibly imagine, flood the senses! Any sensation of bliss is replaced with a rabid urge to scroll and see every last one. If you take a look, there are even a number of cartoons there! I’m told that it is part of “my job” to be “aware of this,” but in truth there’s excitement in discovering life’s little mysteries. I’ve even learned that the most popular cartoons we’ve posted on Instagram this year can be collected in one place, and enjoyed all at once! If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, you’re in for a treat. If you, like me, need a fun-filled break from the exalted state that this year has left you in, feast your eyes on the cartoons below.

She Stalked Her Daughter’s Killers Across Mexico, One by One

Armed with a handgun, a fake ID card and disguises, Miriam Rodríguez was a one-woman detective squad, defying a system where criminal impunity often prevails.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/13/world/americas/miriam-rodriguez-san-fernando.html
In three years, Mrs. Rodríguez captured nearly every living member of the crew that had abducted her daughter for ransom, a rogues’ gallery of criminals who tried to start new lives — as a born-again Christian, a taxi driver, a car salesman, a babysitter.

College Sports Has Reported at Least 6,629 Virus Cases. There Are Many More.

The N.C.A.A. does not track coronavirus cases, but a New York Times analysis shows the pandemic’s toll across college athletics. Many universities have kept their case counts from the public.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/11/sports/coronavirus-college-sports-football.html
The remaining schools, many of them public institutions, released no statistics or limited information about their athletic departments, or they stopped providing data just ahead of football season. This had the effect of drawing a curtain of secrecy around college sports during the gravest public health crisis in the United States in a century.

In Blistering Retort, 4 Battleground States Tell Texas to Butt Out of Election

The attorneys general of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia asked the Supreme Court to reject a lawsuit from Texas seeking to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victories.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/10/us/trump-election-lawsuit-states.html
The lawsuit, filed by the Republican attorney general of Texas and backed by his G.O.P. colleagues in 17 other states and 106 Republican members of Congress, represents the most coordinated, politicized attempt to overturn the will of the voters in recent American history. President Trump has asked to intervene in the lawsuit as well in hopes that the Supreme Court will hand him a second term he decisively lost.

Pentagon Weighs Sharp Drawback in Support for C.I.A.

A broad review of the military’s support for the agency is underway, including pulling back personnel and rethinking support for C.I.A. operations around the world.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/10/us/politics/pentagon-cia-support.html
The administration is considering multiple options that could take effect as early as Jan. 5. One would reduce the number of Pentagon personnel sent to the agency — many of them Special Operation forces who work in the C.I.A.’s paramilitary branch. But other changes being considered would be far broader and more consequential, making it harder for the agency to work out of military bases, use the Defense Department’s medical evacuation abilities or conduct covert drone strikes targeting terrorists in hot spots around the world.

Dianne Feinstein’s Missteps Raise a Painful Age Question Among Senate Democrats

Older lawmakers’ foibles and infirmities are coming under new scrutiny, violating an unspoken culture of complicity and coverup.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/dianne-feinsteins-missteps-raise-a-painful-age-question-among-senate-democrats
Twitter and other social-media platforms are exposing lawmakers’ infirmities to new and harsher scrutiny, violating an unspoken culture of complicity and coverup. Prior to the recent reëlection of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Internet was ablaze with close-up photos of his bandaged, purple hands, setting off wild speculation about the health of the seventy-eight-year-old Republican from Kentucky. The physical and mental fitness of Trump, who is seventy-four, and Joe Biden, who is seventy-eight, have also been extensively covered. “In the 24/7 news cycle we have now, you can’t really hide,” one former top aide to Feinstein told me.

The Life and COVID Death of a Revered Siberian Doctor

In a chaotic and overwhelmed hospital, a physician received the kind of indifferent medical care he spent his life trying to overcome.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/the-life-and-covid-death-of-a-revered-siberian-doctor
Perhaps the most macabre proof of the dysfunction in Tomsk came when, according to local media, a family picked up the body of their beloved aunt, who, as they had been told, died at Medical-Sanitary Unit Number Two. Just before burying her, they wanted to say a last farewell, and opened the lid of the casket—only to see that it was not their aunt at all but, rather, the body of an elderly woman whom they did not recognize. They rushed back to the city morgue, where administrators argued with them that a person can change in appearance after death—before eventually admitting their mistake. The family’s aunt was alive and being treated back at Medical-Sanitary Unit Number Two. They found her in a room, flipping through some magazines.

Interpreting America at the Minsk Book Fair

At the end of January this year, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko hosted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Independence Palace, a glassy, corporate-looking building on Prospekte Pob…

Link: https://lithub.com/interpreting-america-at-the-minsk-book-fair/
It’s jarring that an industry ostensibly built on understanding the world’s complexity is so basic and unvarying in the stories it tells and the perspectives it considers. Include too many of the bigger, weightier issues and suddenly you’re in the realm of hard-news journalism, which is filed in its own separate category with its own separate publications and its own separate faults—including, in a reversal of the gaps in travel writing, an all-too-common lack of cultural context and individual human stories and the specific everyday joys that exist even in the most troubled places.