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Rep Jackie Walorski killed in crash, Alex Jones admits Sandy Hook was real, and more trending news

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Here's some trending topics for today, Aug. 3:

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Rep. Jackie Walorski

Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski was killed Wednesday in a car crash in her northern Indiana district along with two members of her congressional staff and another person, police said.

The crash happened about 12:30 p.m. when a car crossed the center line on a state highway and collided head-on with the SUV Walorski was riding in, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office said. Three people in the SUV, including Walorski, 58, were killed, as was a woman driving the other car, authorities said.

Walorski, who served on the House Ways and Means Committee, was first elected to represent Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District in 2012. She previously served six years in the state's Legislature.

Find out more here:

Newtown Shooting-Infowars

Alex Jones attempts to answer questions about his text messages asked by Mark Bankston, lawyer for Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, during trial at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Wednesday Aug. 3, 2022. Jones testified Wednesday that he now understands it was irresponsible of him to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and that he now believes it was “100% real."

Alex Jones

For years, bombastic far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones ranted to his millions of followers that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax, that children weren’t killed and that parents were crisis actors in an elaborate ruse to force gun control.

Under oath and facing a jury that could hit him with $150 million or more in damages for his false claims, Jones said Wednesday he now realizes that was irresponsible and believes that what happened in the deadliest school shooting in American history was “100% percent real.”

Jones’ public contrition came on the final day of testimony in a two-week defamation lawsuit against him and his Austin-based media company Free Speech Systems brought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of a 6-year-old Jesse Lewis.

Read more about it here:

4. Greitens' comeback collapses

Democratic hopes of picking up a U.S. Senate seat in deep-red Missouri faltered Tuesday after Republican voters selected Attorney General Eric Schmitt as their nominee over former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in disgrace in 2018.

Greitens, they predicted, would be toxic in a general election. Democrats landed a strong recruit in beer heir Trudy Busch Valentine, who won her primary Tuesday. And the state's Republican establishment prepared to put millions of dollars behind an independent candidate in the general election, potentially fracturing the GOP vote.

But Greitens came up short Tuesday, finishing a distant third behind Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler. His campaign's tailspin can likely be traced back to March, when his ex-wife submitted a bombshell legal filing in the former couple's child custody case.

Sheena Greitens said in a sworn statement that Eric Greitens had abused her and one of their young sons. She also said he displayed such "unstable and coercive behavior" in the lead-up to his 2018 resignation that others took steps to limit his access to firearms.

At the time, Greitens faced potential impeachment after his former hairdresser testified that he blindfolded and restrained her in his basement, assaulted her and appeared to take a compromising photo to pressure her to keep quiet about an affair.

He resigned from office — and avoided testifying under oath about the affair.

He launched his comeback campaign for Senate last year, marketing himself as an unabashedly pro-Trump conservative. And while many in Missouri wrote him off, one important political figure didn't: Donald Trump, who mused publicly about Greitens' attributes.

But in the end, Trump stopped short of issuing an endorsement, instead issuing a vague statement this week throwing his support behind "ERIC."

And on Tuesday, the other "ERIC" in the race — Schmitt — won.

Eric Greitens

Republican leaders got their wish with the defeat of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in the U.S. Senate primary. Now, they face another complication: A well-funded, right-leaning political newcomer who could splinter some of the Republican and independent vote in November.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt pulled off a stunningly dominant win in the GOP primary on Tuesday. Greitens, forced by sex and campaign finance scandals to resign in 2018 and accused by his ex-wife of abuse in a March court document, didn't even finish second, bested also by U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler.

Schmitt will face Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine in November.

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***

Get more of today's trending topics here:

"Lightyear"

Kansas abortion decision

Peter Meijer

This morning's top headlines: Wednesday, Aug. 3

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi concluded her visit to Taiwan with a pledge that the American commitment to democracy on the self-governing island and elsewhere “remains ironclad.” Pelosi was the first U.S. speaker to visit the island in more than 25 years. The trip drew the wrath of China, which swiftly responded by announcing multiple military exercises nearby. The speaker’s departure for South Korea came a day before China was scheduled to launch its largest maneuvers aimed at Taiwan in more than a quarter of a century. Before leaving, a calm but resolute Pelosi repeated previous remarks about the world facing “a choice between democracy and autocracy.”

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Kansas voters have sent a resounding message about their desire to protect abortion rights by rejecting a measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten abortion restrictions or ban the procedure outright. The vote Tuesday in a conservative state with deep ties to the anti-abortion movement was the first test of voters’ feelings about abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. Voters rejected a change in the Kansas Constitution to ensure that it does not grant a right to an abortion, overturning a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision protecting abortion rights. Opponents predicted a ban would be coming if the measure had passed.

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Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has defeated scandal-scarred former Gov. Eric Greitens and 19 others in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. He will face Trudy Busch Valentine, a nurse and philanthropist who defeated Marine veteran Lucas Kunce and nine others in the Democratic primary. Republican leaders have long feared that a Greitens win would jeopardize a red state Senate seat in the November general election. Greitens resigned four years ago. His resignation followed a sex scandal, two criminal charges that were eventually dropped, and a risk of impeachment. This year, his ex-wife accused him of abuse. Republican Sen. Roy Blunt’s announcement last year that he would not seek a third term set off a frenzy for his job.

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Vote counting continues in the close race to determine the Republican nominee for governor in Arizona, with former television news anchor Kari Lake narrowly leading lawyer Karrin Taylor Robson. The race is seen as a barometer of Donald Trump’s enduring influence after establishment Republicans came out in force behind Robson. Lake is closely aligned with the former president, who could gain allies with influence over how elections are run as he considers a 2024 White House campaign. The winner will advance to the November general election to take on Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. And Trump-backed Mark Finchem won the GOP primary to be secretary of state, who oversees elections.

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Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers has lost his bid for a state Senate seat after refusing former President Donald Trump’s pleas to help overturn the 2020 election results and testifying before Congress about the efforts. Bowers was trying to move to the state Senate because of term limits but faced an opponent in Tuesday’s GOP primary who criticized him for refusing to help Trump or go along with a contentious 2021 “audit” that Republican leaders in the Senate commissioned. He lost to former state Sen. David Farnsworth. Bowers faced an uphill battle in the eastern Phoenix suburb of Mesa, especially after the state Republican Party censured him following his June testimony before the panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Congress.

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Businesswoman and conservative commentator Tudor Dixon has won the Republican primary for Michigan governor. The win Tuesday sets up a tough general election race against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has millions in her campaign fund. Dixon defeated four male candidates in a race between little-known Republicans. Dixon was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and the family of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, as well as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and several anti-abortion organizations. The mother of four made education a top issue of her campaign, saying she wants to keep drag queens and talk of sex and gender out of elementary schools. She opposes abortion, except to save the life of the mother..

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Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer, who witnessed the Capitol riot days after taking office in 2021 and then cast one of the 10 Republican votes to impeach Donald Trump over the attack, has lost his reelection bid. Meijer was defeated in a primary Tuesday by Trump-endorsed John Gibbs, a businessman and missionary who served in the Trump administration. Two Republicans in Washington state who incurred Trump’s wrath by voting for impeachment also went before voters. Races involving Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse were too early to call by Wednesday morning. Trump vowed revenge against the 10 who crossed party lines on the impeachment vote, and he endorsed party challengers to them in the midterm elections.

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An Arizona lawmaker who embraces election conspiracies and was endorsed by former President Donald Trump has won the Republican primary for the top elections post in the presidential battleground. Mark Finchem beat out three other GOP candidates Tuesday in the race for secretary of state. Democrats and election security advocates warned that a victory for Finchem in the November general election will be dangerous for democracy. Arizona’s was the most high-profile secretary of state’s race in Tuesday’s primaries. In Kansas, the top state elections official beat back a far-right challenger who promoted conspiracy theories, while in Washington voters were choosing from a mix of Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated candidates in that state’s top-two primary.

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The Senate has given final approval to a bill enhancing health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden's desk to be signed into law. He has said the bill “makes good on our sacred obligation” to care for veterans and their families. The Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation once before, but the process briefly derailed when Republicans made a late attempt to change the bill. The GOP objections delayed final passage, infuriating veterans groups and advocates, including comedian Jon Stewart.

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President Joe Biden will sign an executive order aimed in part at making it easier for women seeking abortions to travel between states to obtain access to the procedure. One of the directives Biden will issue Wednesday will allow states that have not outlawed abortion to apply for Medicaid waivers that would help them treat women who've traveled from out of state. The order will also call on health care providers to comply with federal nondiscrimination laws and streamline the collection of key maternal health data. The order falls short of what many Democratic lawmakers and abortion advocates have demanded of Biden since the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe vs. Wade.

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The parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre say conspiracy theorist Alex Jones made their lives a “living hell” by pushing claims that the murders were a hoax. Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was killed at Sandy Hook, testified Tuesday on the final day of testimony in the two-week trial. They’re seeking at least $150 million from Jones. Jones was not in court when Heslin began testifying, but he was there when Lewis took the stand. Both parents said they had received death threats and harassment and experienced ongoing trauma because of Jones. Jones later testified and apologized to the parents, saying he never intended to hurt them. The 2012 attack killed 20 first-graders and six staffers at the Connecticut school.

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Authorities say two more bodies have been found within the burn zone of a huge Northern California wildfire, raising the death toll to four in the state’s largest blaze of the year. The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office says in a statement that search teams discovered the bodies Monday at separate residences along State Route 96. Two bodies were also found Sunday inside a charred vehicle in the driveway of a home near the tiny unincorporated community of Klamath River. More than 100 homes, sheds and other buildings have burned in the McKinney Fire since it erupted last Friday.

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Bestselling author Stephen King has testified in a federal antitrust trial in Washington. Tracing his own history beginning as an unknown author in the 1970s, King laid out a portrait of a publishing industry that has become increasingly concentrated over the years. He testified as a witness for the U.S. Justice Department. The government is trying to convince a federal judge that the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and rival Simon & Schuster, two of the world’s biggest publishers, would thwart competition. In his testimony Tuesday, King described himself as “a freelance writer.” He said publisher consolidation "is bad for competition.”

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Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, whose dulcet tones provided the soundtrack of summer while entertaining and informing Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years, died Tuesday night. He was 94. The Dodgers say family members informed them that Scully died at his home in the Hidden Hills section of Los Angeles. As the longest tenured broadcaster with a single team in pro sports history, Scully saw it all and called it all. He began in the 1950s era of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson and went through to 2016, when he retired.

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Baseball’s trade deadline day was an action-packed affair — and no one had more fun than the Padres. San Diego made the biggest splash, acquiring Juan Soto in a massive deal with the Washington Nationals. The sweet-swinging Soto, still just 23 years old, joins Manny Machado in the middle of the Padres’ order, and Fernando Tatis Jr. is on his way back after being sidelined by a broken left wrist. The Cardinals and Yankees also swapped big leaguers, with Gold Glove-winning center fielder Harrison Bader going to New York in exchange for left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery.

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Abortion backlash in Kansas. Greitens' collapse in Missouri. Trump's revenge against disloyal Republicans. Here are the takeaways from Tuesday's primaries.

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