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The Alex Jones jury is still out, Trump’s nervous lawyers, a string of Biden victories, and the controversial Mass. state seal

Hello! It’s Friday, Aug. 5, the 217th day of the year. Sixty years ago today, actress Marilyn Monroe was found dead in the bedroom of her Los Angeles home, the victim of what is believed to have been a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs.

Sunrise in Boston was at 5:40 a.m. and sunset will be at 7:58 p.m. for 14 hours and 18 minutes of sunlight. The waxing moon is 54 percent full.

If you’ve got nothing to do but sit around and sweat this weekend, The Old Farmer’s Almanac says you should head to your local farmer’s market, stock up on fruits and veggies, and mash them up. Not for salads or soups or stews, but to slather on your face, rub on your hands, or massage into your hair. Just don’t go walking in the woods.

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What’s it like outside? What can I say? It’s still hot, and you can expect this high heat and humidity to last until next weekend.

From the Globe: How long will this heat last? Hint: Don’t expect a break any time soon.

Hey, sport: Lose 2, win 3, lose 2. That’s the Red Sox. After managing to blow a lead against the Royals last night, the Sox are in Kansas City for three more games this weekend.

Former Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour -- a versatile player who lined up virtually everywhere along the defensive line -- will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at noon Saturday. You can watch on ESPN.

From the Globe: Richard Seymour’s impact went far beyond sack totals. It’s what made him a Hall of Famer.

The Revolution are in Florida to face Orlando City Saturday night.

Now that WNBA star Brittney Griner has been sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison in Russia, Putin’s government has said that negotiations about a prisoner swap can begin -- as long as the Biden administration keeps its mouth shut about the talks.

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To clarify, Griner had two vape cartridges in her luggage. The Russians say that one of the cartridges contained 0.252 grams of hash oil and the other 0.45 grams for a total of 0.702 grams. That’s .025 ounces, or 1/40th of an ounce. And that is 3/20th of a teaspoon.


Today’s US coronavirus / COVID-19 numbers in the US

From the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University

Confirmed US cases: 92,049,015

Confirmed US deaths: 1,033,132


A jury is hearing testimony today on how much money conspiracy theorist and despicable human being Alex Jones should pay in punitive damages to the parents of a 6-year-old boy, Jesse Lewis, who was slaughtered along with 19 other first-graders and six educators in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Yesterday, jurors told Jones to pay that family more than $4 million in compensatory damages.

On his fake news website InfoWars, Jones decided to make millions off the grief and pain of the families of those kids by claiming that the attack never happened. He regularly berated the poor parents, calling them actors who were making the whole thing up because they were in cahoots with the federal government in a massive plot designed to take Americans’ guns away.

That led Jones’s dense and gullible followers to mercilessly threaten, attack, and torment the families online and in person. Neil Heslin, Jesse’s father, told the jury there were gunshots fired into his house and car. Other Jones’ acolytes confronted and shoved him on the street.

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In 2018, another parent -- Veronique De La Rosa, the mother of Noah Pozner, the youngest victim -- told The New York Times that she had moved about 10 times since the shooting and at the time, was hiding in a high-security community. Each time the family moved, conspiracists would rapidly publish the new home address, she told the Times.

But she’s hundreds of miles from where Noah is buried, and can’t go to visit. “I would love to go see my son’s grave, and I don’t get to do that,” she said.

Meanwhile, the loathsome Jones continues his reprehensible behavior. As soon as he was found guilty by default last Nov. 15 of defaming those families, he’s been scrambling to hide as much money as he can, like a guy going through a divorce who wants to screw over his wife and kids.

He’s also trying to put Free Speech Systems, the parent company of InfoWars, into bankruptcy.

In court today, an economic consultant and former professor of economics at Florida Institute of Technology, Bernard Pettingill Jr., told the jury that he estimated that Jones made $64 million last year, and that the net worth of Jones and Free Speech Systems is anywhere from $135 million to $270 million.

Since Nov. 15, Pettingill testified, Jones has been shoveling $11,000 per day into a shell company he controls. That’s close to $3 million so far that he’s trying to hide from the court and the parents.

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This current trial, being held in Austin, Tex., is one of four lawsuits filed by 10 Sandy Hook families against Jones.

The New York Times: Alex Jones, Pursued Over Infowars Falsehoods, Faces a Legal Crossroads

Yahoo! News: Alex Jones began putting $11,000 per day in ‘shell’ company after being found liable in Sandy Hook cases

Axios: Alex Jones uses bankruptcy to limit Sandy Hook reckoning, again

Live updates from the NYT: Jury weighs additional damages as family lawyer asks them to ‘stop Alex Jones.’


Interesting that Trump’s lawyers are now talking to the Department of Justice. What does it mean?

Preet Bharara, a former US attorney for the Southern District of New York, told CNN that he thinks the lawyers believe that Trump could be in legal jeopardy “and they should engage sooner rather than later.”

The attorneys also reportedly have told Trump to distance himself from his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, given how Trump likes to engage in witness tampering. Plus Meadows might decide that Trump isn’t worth jail time and decide to cooperate with prosecutors.

Not so sure that all of this indicates that the Justice Department intends to indict Trump, but maybe.

Liz Cheney, co-chair of the House Jan. 6 Select Committee, gave an interview to Kasie Hunt of CNN in which she argued that if Justice doesn’t act against Trump, given what she believes is clear evidence of criminal wrongdoing, it would be disastrous for the country.

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”Understanding what it means if the facts and the evidence are there, and they decide not to prosecute -- how do we then call ourselves a nation of laws?” she said.

CNN: DOJ talks with Trump lawyers mark a grave moment for the ex-President


So the economy is back at the jobs level it was before the pandemic, thanks to another strong job creation report today that showed that the country added 528,000 jobs in July and unemployment dropped to 3.5 percent. Doesn’t seem much like a recession.

But it’s not going to help inflation. When people get jobs, and earn money, they spend it. And with continuing unfilled jobs and shortages of some goods and services, the demand from people with money to spend will continue to fuel inflation. And put pressure on the Fed to keep raising interest rates.

BTW, when your conservative relatives and friends voice the falsehood that Republican politicians are better for the economy than Democrats, tell them this: In 16 years and 18 months of the Clinton-Obama-Biden presidencies, their administrations added 43.4 million jobs. In the 16 years of both Bushes and Trump, those Republicans added exactly 1.9 million jobs.

The jobs report is another in a string of recent accomplishments for Biden:

-- Gas prices have dropped for 52 straight days, down about $1 from June’s high. About half of that drop is because of Biden releasing a ton of oil from the country’s standard reserve. Half of stations in the US are now selling gas for less than $4 a gallon.

-- The stock market has rebounded, with the S&P 500 rising 13 percent since June 16.

-- Republicans had to tuck tail and grudgingly approve health care for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving overseas.

-- The US military killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri, who used to be Osama bin Laden’s deputy before taking over the terrorist organization, with no collateral damage.

Remember, al-Qaeda’s biggest financier has been the Saudi Arabian royal family and Saudi businessmen. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi.

That’s important context when you realize that while the Al Zawahiri strike was happening, Trump was hosting a Saudi-backed LIV Golf tournament at his Bedminster course, yukking it up with the likes of Tucker Carlson and Marjorie Taylor Greene as Trump supporters in the crowd yelled a vulgar chant about Biden.

The contrast is unsurprising.

-- Senate Democrats reached agreement on a substantial economic package that will tackle climate change, reduce the price of prescription drugs, extend Obamacare subsidies, close tax loopholes, reduce the deficit by $300 billion, and cut inflation.

Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, however, jumped to the aid of wealthy hedge fund managers, forcing leadership to preserve a hefty tax break for them. As Molly Jong-Fast tweeted, “Find someone who loves you the way kyrsten sinema loves her private equity donors.”


Finally, there’s a raging debate in Massachusetts over the state seal, which is also on the state flag. It depicts a Native American figure standing below a broadsword brandished by an upraised arm. Some Indigenous people see a symbol of white supremacy; others believe it’s a true depiction of what happened to Native people, a history that should not be forgotten. Interesting debate.

From the Globe: Racist symbol or historical reminder? The debate over the Mass. state seal.


Thanks for reading. Kyrsten Sinema ensured that she won’t want for campaign donations in her next race. E-mail comments and suggestions to teresa.hanafin@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @BostonTeresa.  See you next week.

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Teresa M. Hanafin can be reached at teresa.hanafin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @BostonTeresa.