Morning Headlines - Thursday, Oct 13, 2022

U.S. & World and Wisconsin trending headlines, and today's daily meme.

Morning Headlines - Thursday, Oct 13, 2022

U.S. and World Headlines

Jury Orders Alex Jones To Pay Nearly $1 Billion In Sandy Hook Defamation Trial

A Connecticut jury on Wednesday ordered far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his company to pay the families of eight victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting $965 million in damages for falsely claiming the massacre was a hoax.

The at least $965 million award comes on top of the $49.3 million in damages a separate Texas jury in August ordered Jones to pay to the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in the school shooting.

"Today, a jury representing our community rendered a historic verdict, a verdict against Alex Jones' lies and their poisonous spread, and a verdict for truth and our common humanity," Chris Mattei, the families' lead attorney said outside the courthouse.

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Middle East Round-Up: The Backlash Against OPEC+

With the global economy struggling, in large part due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States had lobbied OPEC+ not to cut oil production when the cartel met on October 5. But, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ seemed to ignore the US and decided to make production cuts anyway, in an effort to push oil prices higher.

The US took that decision as a snub by the Saudis, their long-time allies. And with the US midterm elections just around the corner, President Joe Biden was not particularly impressed – because if there’s anything US voters can’t stand, it’s higher gas prices.

Biden has now threatened the Saudis with “consequences” after a leading Democratic senator said US arms sales to Riyadh should be frozen. The president’s press secretary even accused OPEC of siding with the Russians, because higher oil prices will only help Moscow, as my colleague Federica Marsi explains. But the Saudis say it isn’t personal, it’s just business.

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How Finland Can Help US Fight Fake News

As the midterm elections approach in the US, the wave of false claims surrounding the vote is a reminder of how hard it is to combat fake news. Does Finland have the answer?

A few hours after Vladimir Putin called up 300,000 military reservists in September, a video showing long queues of cars at the Finnish-Russian border started circulating on social media.

The Finnish Border Guard was quick to point out it was fake. "Some of the videos were filmed earlier and now taken out of context," it said on Twitter. The tweet promptly made it to the top of the Ukraine live page on national broadcaster Yle's news website. The Border Guard's and Yle's response highlights a crucial element of Finland's success against disinformation - public trust in the authorities and the media.

Finland is a high-trust society. According to an OECD report, 71% of the Finnish population trust the government, compared to the OECD average of 41%. And it's not just the government - parliament, the civil service, the police and the media all enjoy high levels of trust.

That does not mean Finns believe everything they read in the papers and never look at social media for information. But when they do, most have the ability to critically evaluate information.

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Jan. 6 Panel Set To Hold Final Hearing Before Midterm Elections

The Jan. 6 committee's ninth and likely final investigative hearing Thursday will feature new testimony and evidence, including Secret Service records and surveillance video.

The hearing, set for 1 p.m. ET, will not include any live witnesses, a committee aide said. And unlike earlier hearings that focused on a specific aspect of the GOP plot to overturn the 2020 election and keep then-President Donald Trump in power, Thursday's presentation will take a more sweeping view of what happened before, during and after the Jan. 6 attack.

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ACT Test Scores Drop To Their Lowest Point In 30 Years

Scores on the ACT college admissions test have hit their lowest point in more than 30 years - the latest evidence of the enormity of learning disruption during the pandemic lockdowns.

The class of 2022's average ACT composite score was 19.8 out of 36 when the results released on Wednesday, marking the first time since 1991 that the average score was below 20.

An increasing number of high school students failed to meet any of the subject-area benchmarks set by the ACT.

The test scores show 42% of ACT-tested graduates in the class of 2022 met none of the subject benchmarks in English, reading, science and math.

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Wisconsin Headlines

Poll: Ron Johnson Widens Lead Over Mandela Barnes In Wisconsin Senate Race

Incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is widening the gap over his Democratic challenger, Mandela Barnes, in Wisconsin’s Senate race, a new poll from Marquette Law School found.

The poll, whose results were released on Wednesday, has Johnson racking up support of 52 percent of likely voters, compared with Barnes’ 46 percent. The results are a jump from September, when polls showed Johnson polling just 1 percentage point ahead of Barnes, but are still within the survey’s margin of sampling error. Barnes has seen a decline in the polls over recent months after facing a slew of attack ads depicting him as soft on crime.

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In Search For Ineligible Wisconsin Voters, Activists Uncover Gaps — But No Plot

Conservative activists are pushing officials to remove thousands of people from Wisconsin's voter rolls, pointing to holes in the state's voter database that have allowed some ineligible voters to cast a ballot.

But their efforts also have spread misleading information, Wisconsin Watch found, conflating ineligible and eligible voters and sowing doubts about the upcoming election during a volatile time for American democracy.

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Darrell Brooks Trial Day 8 Wraps Early Due To Storms

The trial continues for Darrell Brooks, the man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more after driving an SUV through the Waukesha Christmas Parade in 2021.

Prosecutors allege Brooks, 40, hit and killed six people and injured scores of others with an SUV on Nov. 21 in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha. Police said he turned into the parade after fleeing a domestic disturbance, though officers were not pursuing him at the time.

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DHS Reports 1,147 New Covid-19 Cases In Wisconsin

1,147 new COVID-19 cases were reported Wednesday in Wisconsin, according to the latest numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is at 837, according to the latest numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

DHS also reports two new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the seven-day average to five per day.

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Evers Shared Revenue Promise Faces Legislative Hurdles

At a Tuesday forum in Milwaukee, Governor Tony Evers repeated his promise to reset state government relations with cities and counties. Evers said increasing state shared revenues will be a budget priority – if he’s elected to a second term.

“Cities and counties do the hard work in this state,” the Democratic governor told a panel of journalists at an event sponsored by the Milwaukee Rotary Club and Milwaukee Press Club.

The Democratic governor has said his next two-year budget will include a more than $100-million increase in shared revenue. “There’s only so much that they can do without money and my goal is to provide those resources. Zero percent for the last 10 years is anything but adequate.”

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Last Update: Oct 13, 2022 6:22 am CDT

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