Alex Jones ordered to pay $45.2M more over Sandy Hook lies

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas jury has ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a child who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, adding to the $4.1 million he has to pay for the suffering he put them through by claiming for years that the nation’s deadliest school shooting was a hoax. The parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis say they were tormented by the Infowars host’s false claims that the worst classroom shooting in U.S. history was orchestrated by the government to tighten gun laws. The total of nearly $50 million marks the first time Jones has been held financially liable for peddling lies about the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut.

'What recession?': US employers add 528,000 jobs in July

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added an astonishing 528,000 jobs last month despite flashing warning signs of an economic downturn, easing fears of a recession and handing President Joe Biden some good news heading into the midterm elections. Unemployment dropped another notch, from 3.6% to 3.5%, matching the more than 50-year low reached just before the pandemic took hold. The economy has now recovered all 22 million jobs lost in March and April 2020 when COVID-19 slammed the U.S. The red-hot numbers were reported Friday by the Labor Department. Economists had expected only 250,000 new jobs last month, in a drop-off from June’s revised 398,000. Instead, July proved to be the best month since February.

China cuts off vital US contacts over Pelosi Taiwan visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — China says it is cutting off dialogue with the U.S. on a range of vital issues from climate change to military relations and anti-narcotics efforts in retaliation for a visit this week to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The measures announced Friday are the latest steps intended to punish Washington for allowing the visit to the island claimed by Beijing as its own territory — to be annexed by force if necessary. China also is firing missiles in military exercises off the coast of the island. U.S.-China expert Bonnie Glaser warns China may be heading toward changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, with results that are negative for both Taiwan and the U.S.

Israeli strikes on Gaza kill 10, including senior militant

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes on Gaza, killing at least 10 people, including a senior militant. That's according to Palestinian officials who spoke Friday. Israel says it targeted the Islamic Jihad militant group in response to an “imminent threat” following the recent arrest of another senior militant. Hours later, Palestinian militants launched a barrage of rockets as air-raid sirens wailed in Israel and the two sides drew closer to another all-out war. Islamic Jihad claimed to have fired 100 rockets. Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have fought four wars and several smaller battles over the last 15 years.

Blaze kills firefighter's 10 relatives, 3 of them children

NESCOPECK, Pa. (AP) — Authorities say a fast-moving fire has killed seven adults and three children in northeastern Pennsylvania. One of the firefighters who responded to the blaze early Friday discovered the victims were his family. Investigators are looking into the fire in the community of Nescopeck. Pennsylvania State Police say the children who died were ages 5, 6 and 7. Volunteer firefighter Harold Baker says the 10 victims included his son, daughter, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, three grandchildren and two other relatives.

GOP Rep who voted to impeach advances in Washington primary

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse, who voted to impeach Donald Trump, advanced to the general election following days of vote counts in Washington state’s primary. But fellow Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler saw her advantage against an opponent endorsed by Trump rapidly shrink to within recount territory. Both drew interparty challenges due to their vote to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Newhouse, the four-term incumbent in the 4th Congressional District in central Washington and Democrat Doug White were essentially tied, with each capturing about 25% of the vote on a crowded ballot. White also advanced to the fall ballot.

Sinema gives her nod, and influence, to Democrats' big bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin sealed the deal reviving President Joe Biden’s big economic, health care and climate bill. But it was another Democratic senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who quietly shaped the final product. Democrats pushed ahead Friday on the estimated $730 billion package that in many ways reflects Sinema’s priorities. On taxes, health care and climate change, Sinema has pushed her priorities into the bill. In the 50-50 Senate, every vote matters. She is putting hers to uses that infuriate some, wow others and point to her emergence as a powerful political figure.

Breonna Taylor supporters relieved by charges against police

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville activists who put in long hours protesting the death of Breonna Taylor at the hands of police say they felt relief this week when federal officials charged four officers. They say the new civil rights charges turned the tables after more than two years of setbacks. Louisville Urban League President Sadiqa Reynolds says the charges have begun to lift “the cloud that has been hanging over us.” The indictments represent the first time Louisville police officers have been held accountable for Taylor’s shooting death. The 26-year-old Black woman was shot after officers knocked down her door during a search for drugs. None were found.

Record floods strand 1K people in Death Valley National Park

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — Record rainfall triggered flash flooding at Death Valley National Park that buried cars, forced officials to close all roads in and out the park and stranded about 1,000 people. Park officials say about three-quarters as much rain typically is recorded in an entire year fell in a single day on Friday. About 60 vehicles were buried in debris and about 500 visitors and 500 park workers were stranded. There were no immediate reports of injuries. California transportation officials estimated it would take into the night to open a road that would allow park visitors to leave. The park service says 1.46 inches of rain fell Friday. The annual average is 1.9 inches.

NCAA hoops leagues grapple with unequal pay for women's refs

The NCAA earned praise last year when it agreed to pay referees at its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments equally. The gesture only cost about $100,000, a tiny fraction of the roughly $900 million networks pay annually to broadcast March Madness. Now, as the NCAA examines various disparities across men’s and women’s sports, pressure is rising to also pay referees equally during the regular season. Two Division I conferences told The Associated Press they plan to equalize pay, and another is considering it. Others are resisting change, even though the impact on their budgets would be negligible.

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