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After weeks of hearing deeply disturbing evidence about the Parkland school shooting that killed 14 students and three staffers on Valentine’s Day in 2018, a Florida jury began hearing evidence about the shooter himself on Monday.

Nikolas Cruz, now 23, has already pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder, but the jury will decide whether he should be executed or imprisoned for life. The death penalty case represents a rare occasion where a jury has heard extensive evidence about a mass shooter, many of whom are either killed by authorities or kill themselves at the end of their rampage.

Lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill painted a portrait of a “damaged human being” whose future was sealed before he was even born due to his mother’s extensive drug and alcohol use while she was pregnant and experiencing homelessness. Cruz suffered from extensive developmental delays and mental health issues during his childhood, and he could often be so threatening to his family that police were called to the home more than 40 times.

“Nikolas was poisoned. He was brain damaged,” McNeill said. “Now, no one ever really figured out what was wrong with Nikolas until his current situation.”

No independently confirmed suspect behind Daria Dugina’s death

  • Russia’s domestic intelligence agency blames Ukraine for the death of Daria Dugina, a disinformationist and daughter of a close Putin ally. Dugina was killed by a car explosion outside Moscow on Saturday.
  • Ukraine has denied any involvement in Dugina’s death. The Russian agency’s claim has not been independently verified, and the organization has previously been suspected of staging attacks for political gain, the New York Times reports.

SNAPSHOTS

How sex workers and sex party attendees are dealing with monkeypox. “It feels like a slap in the face to have to deal with all of this stigma and to actually be trying to be as responsible as possible, but then to be thwarted in such a direct and obvious way.”

Three Arkansas police officers have been removed from duty after being filmed brutally beating a man. The incident is now under investigation by the Arkansas State Police.

One of the men who robbed Kim Kardashian in Paris said he feels no guilt despite leaving her “traumatized.” “I saw one of her shows where she threw her diamond in the pool, in that episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” Yunis Abbas told Vice News about the 2016 incident. “I thought, She’s got a lot of money. This lady doesn’t care at all.”

Let’s review how we got here:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is being sued by Twitter over his failure to close a $44 billion deal to buy the company — a deal Musk filed to back out of at the beginning of July. Musk claims that the company hadn’t provided him with information that would allow him to investigate fake Twitter accounts and misrepresented itself, its users, and its value.

Musk countersued Twitter in late July.

On Aug. 4, Twitter sent dozens of subpoenas to Musk’s associates in the tech industry. Musk retaliated last week by issuing his own subpoenas to numerous technology companies, executives, and even Twitter’s law firm.

Monday’s subpoena includes an extensive list of items Jack Dorsey is being asked to provide to Musk’s lawyers, including any communications related to the acquisition deal, executive compensation, user metrics, and how the company identifies inauthentic accounts. Dorsey stepped down as CEO in November 2021 and left Twitter’s board of directors in March.The trial will begin on Oct. 17 and will decide whether Musk will be forced to purchase Twitter, pay a fine, or be allowed to walk away from the deal without penalty.

I grew up believing The Satanic Verses was dangerous. Here’s why that matters.

The recent attack on Salman Rushdie — author of the legendary and controversial book The Satanic Verses — has become a cultural Rorschach test, Elamin Abdelmahmoud writes. On the one hand, multiple pundits have made efforts to blame the attack on Rushdie on “cancel culture” and the left’s mantra that “words are violence.” On the other, some see it as an opportunity for liberals to challenge censorship.

Right now, the US is embroiled in a significant battle over the danger of books. Works about gender and sexuality, racism, and class are being pulled from school shelves. Teachers in Texas, Tennessee, and other states are being forced to submit books for approval, including popular, mainstream titles like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me.

Rushdie’s alleged attacker didn’t invent the playbook for how to make people afraid of books. He’s simply playing a familiar note, a strategy that says: If you engage with this, there will be consequences. All over the US, young children are learning the same idea from a plague of book banning. For them, as for me, making a book forbidden has the same effect: It makes your world smaller, and makes you subject to your own fear.

Still reading, eh? Seems like you might want to get this in your inbox. No pressure though. Just some food for thought.

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