7.26.2022

Myanmar, Alex Jones, and the World's Divorce Capital Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Tuesday, July 26, and we're covering executions in Myanmar, Alex Jones' return to court, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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NEED TO KNOW

 

Executions in Myanmar

The military government in Myanmar executed four imprisoned pro-democracy activists over the weekend, government officials confirmed yesterday. Carried out under the pretense of terrorism charges, they are believed to be the first formal executions by the government in decades and come amid a growing, multisided insurgency against the military government.

 

The prisoners included Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former lawmaker aligned with imprisoned leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as writer Kyaw Min Yu. Since the country’s pro-democracy government was ousted last February (see timeline), an estimated 14,000 civilians have been arrested and 2,000 others have been killed amid fighting and a military crackdown. The international community has largely refused to recognize the government, though Russia and China have both reportedly provided material support to the regime.

 

Formal, government-led executions have decreased globally over the last decade but jumped 20% in 2021, with a reported 579 executions across 18 countries. See last year's data here

A Sixth Exoneration

Steven Lopez, a codefendant in the Central Park Five rape case, had his conviction overturned yesterday, decades after serving a three-year prison sentence on related charges. 

 

The then-15-year-old Lopez was arrested in April 1989 along with a number of other Black and Latino teenagers, including a group that became known as the Central Park Five, for the assault and rape of a female jogger in New York’s Central Park. While the five teens—Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, and Yusef Salaam—were ultimately found guilty of the attack, Lopez struck a deal to plead guilty to a lesser charge of assaulting a separate jogger.

 

The five were exonerated in 2002 after DNA evidence linked a separate serial rapist to the crime. The five men received a $41M settlement from the city. Lopez was not part of the settlement, and his conviction remained in place following his release in the early 1990s.

 

The case became a flashpoint for youth crime, race relations, and policing practices in the city. See background of the night here

Alex Jones Trial

Jury selection began yesterday in Austin, Texas, for a defamation trial against Infowars radio host Alex Jones, who spread conspiracy theories claiming the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax. The outcome of the case will determine how much money Jones must pay in damages to the families of children killed in the worst mass shooting at an elementary school in US history. The trial is the first of three—two in Austin, where Infowars is headquartered, and one in Connecticut, where the shooting took place. 

 

The trial follows a three-month-long delay that was triggered after Jones filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (see 101) for Infowars and two of his other companies. Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the shooting, issuing judgments without trial.

 

Twenty-six people, including 20 children, were killed in the Sandy Hook attack. See the worst US mass shootings here.

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Paul Sorvino, actor known for "Goodfellas" and "Law & Order," dies at 83 (More) | David Warner, British actor best known for "Titanic" and "The Omen," dies at 80 (More)

 

> NFL launches NFL+, a $4.99/month streaming service which includes out-of-market preseason games and mobile streaming of in-market and prime-time games (More)

 

> The UK tapped to host 2023 Eurovision on behalf of 2022's winner Ukraine due to safety concerns (More) | Adele reschedules Las Vegas residency she canceled in January due to COVID-19 (More)

From our partners: A new rewards card with a significant welcome bonus just launched. Only continue reading if you're into 3x points in categories like dining, travel, gas stations, and more. And that's with no annual fee. You probably continued reading. 

Science & Technology

> Bombshell report suggests a highly influential 2006 report that linked amyloid plaques to Alzheimer's disease was based on doctored images (More) | See overview of probe (More)

 

> Scientists demonstrate up to a 40% increase in yield by adding a second copy of a single gene to a Chinese rice variety (More)

 

> Ancient underwater eruption on Mars may have produced an extremely rare form of quartz known as tridymite; discovery of the mineral in 2016 has been one of the longest unanswered questions raised by NASA's Curiosity mission (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 +0.1%, Dow +0.3%, Nasdaq -0.4%) ahead of tomorrow’s Federal Reserve rate announcement (More)

 

> Walmart shares slide 10% after company reduced its full-year profit expectations as inflation changes consumer spending habits (More)

 

> Weber shares fall 13% after grill maker announces CEO replacement amid slowing sales (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov implies Russia's objective is to topple Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's administration, an expansion of its current focus on the eastern Donbas region (More) | See updates on the war here (More)

 

> At least one person killed, several others injured after a gunman carries out multiple attacks against homeless communities in British Columbia (More) | Woman opens fire inside Dallas airport; suspect non-fatally shot by police and arrested, no other injuries reported (More)

 

> California's Oak Fire burning southwest of Yosemite National Park grows to almost 17,000 acres at 10% containment as of this morning (More)

IN-DEPTH

 

China's Spy Games

CNN | Katie Bo Lillis. A damning FBI probe reveals extensive Chinese espionage efforts, including a $100M garden in the nation's capital capable of covert surveillance and the potential for Chinese-made telecom equipment to disrupt the US nuclear arsenal. (Read)

The Tuskegee Syphilis Story

AP | Allen G. Breed. Former investigative reporter Jean Heller recounts how she broke a 1972 story on one of the biggest medical scandals in US history—a governmental study on hundreds of Black men in Alabama who went untreated for syphilis so researchers could observe the disease's effects. (Read)

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ETCETERA

 

The US states with the best (and worst) school systems.

 

How Reno, Nevada, became the divorce capital of the world.

 

Remastered footage of NYC's Central Park in the 1940s.

 

Rare 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card heads to auction

 

A visual history of every Air Jordan sneaker

 

The most popular emo songs since 1985

 

Humpback whale lands on a boat (w/video).

 

Is a chicken nugget showdown on the horizon?

 

Clickbait: Italy's lemon farmers leap among the treetops.

 

Historybook: US postal system established (1775); Federal Bureau of Investigation is founded (1908); HBD Sir Mick Jagger (1943); HBD actress Dame Helen Mirren (1945); RIP former Argentine first lady Eva Perón (1952).

 

"The trick in life is learning how to deal with it."

- Dame Helen Mirren

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