5 Things to know for August 4: Alex Jones, January 6, Covid, Taiwan, Jackie Walorski
By AJ Willingham, CNN
Gas prices have been sinking for more than 50 days straight now, with the average nationwide price hovering around $4.16 a gallon. Still high, but better than the average of $5.02 a gallon in mid-June.
Here's what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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1. Alex Jones
Court proceedings against far-right commentator Alex Jones took a dramatic turn Wednesday when a lawyer for two Sandy Hook parents revealed he had recently acquired evidence proving Jones had lied when he claimed under oath that he had never texted about the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. In another notable moment during cross-examination, Jones was asked whether he had connected the judge overseeing the trial to pedophilia and human trafficking. When Jones denied having done so, lawyers played an Infowars video for the court that featured Jones leveling just such an attack. Jones has been sued by several Sandy Hook families for his relentless peddling of conspiracy theories related to the tragedy. This hearing will determine how much Jones will have to pay one pair of parents who won a default judgment against him earlier this year.
2. January 6
Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin have been subpoenaed in the federal criminal probe of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Philbin and Cipollone were both key witnesses to former President Donald Trump's actions in the last days of his presidency, and these developments could suggest the Department of Justice's probe could be aiming straight for Trump. This is also significant because, unlike the House probe, the DOJ could bring criminal charges against former Trump administration officials if it sees fit. The probe could also survive a shakeup in November if Republicans win the House and shut down the select committee's investigation.
The CDC is expected to ease its guidance for Covid-19 control as early as this week, which could affect how the virus is handled in schools as a new year begins. A preview of the plans obtained by CNN shows the new recommendations ease quarantine restrictions for infected people and deemphasize social distancing. They also downplay regular screening testing for Covid-19 in schools as a way to monitor the spread of the virus. The recommendations aren't legally binding, so different school districts can still make their own plans, including options like masks. Right now, more than 200 million people -- about 60% of the total population -- live in a county with a "high Covid-19 community level."
China is following through on its promise to punish Taiwan for hosting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during her congressional visit to Asia this week. The country fired multiple missiles toward waters near northeastern and southwestern Taiwan and has begun exercises that Chinese state media claims simulate an air and sea "blockade" around the island. The display has already caused disruption to flight and ship schedules, and is causing unease among nearby powers like Japan. Taiwan, meanwhile, is bracing for further retaliatory attacks from China, which has long laid claim to the self-governing island. The Taiwanese government says it plans to strengthen security against cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns.
5. Jackie Walorski
Indiana Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski and two of her staffers were killed in a car crash Wednesday. Walorski, who was 58, represented Indiana's 2nd Congressional District and had previously served as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives. The congresswoman also served as the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee, a spot that put her in line to become chair of the panel if the GOP retakes the House majority in the upcoming midterm elections. News of her death sent shockwaves through the House, with representatives from both sides of the aisle honoring her for her civic service. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff in her memory.
The FAA is asking for public feedback on airplane seat size
Obviously we all want chaise lounges, but the FAA is just asking about safety issues -- not comfort.
Get free entry to all US National Park sites today
If you were thinking about playing hooky and just enjoying the day today, this is your sign to do it.
Equifax issued wrong credit scores for millions of consumers
As if credit scores aren't confusing enough.
Chrissy Teigen is expecting another baby with husband John Legend
One more super talented child on the way!
Oreo is bringing back pumpkin spice sandwich cookies for fall
Have we met critical mass on the pumpkin spice flavor phenomenon? Ha! Never. Hand 'em over.
Closing arguments are expected today in WNBA star Brittney Griner's drug-smuggling trial in Russia amid concerns that she is being used as a political pawn in the country's war on Ukraine. The two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist has been in detention for six months and is being accused by Russian prosecutors of trying to smuggle less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison.
That's how many games Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will be suspended as punishment for "non-violent sexual misconduct" stemming from 24 civil lawsuits filed against him by massage therapists. The situation has mired the sports world in controversy, and the NFL says it is appealing the decision and pushing for a harsher full-season suspension instead.
"The Tour has ventured to harm the careers and livelihoods of any golfers ... who have the temerity to defy the Tour and play in tournaments sponsored by the new entrant."
-- An excerpt from an antitrust lawsuit filed by six-time major champion Phil Mickelson and 10 other golfers on the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series. The PGA Tour announced in June that any golfers that participated in the breakaway tour would be suspended and no longer eligible to play in PGA Tour tournaments. The LIV Golf series has been controversial because it is backed by a fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, whom US intelligence reports say was responsible for approving the operation that led to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Quite a buzz
I have a lot of cool music things to share and I'm only in the 5 Things driver's seat until the end of the week. So anyway, here is Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" played on a theremin. What's a theremin, you ask? A very cool, very eerie electrical instrument that is played without any manual contact whatsoever. (Click here to view)
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