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Sound Bites: Judge to decide Alex Jones’ debt to Sandy Hook families

Alex Jones talks to reporters during a break in his trial in Austin, Texas, on July 26.
Briana Sanchez
Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool
Alex Jones talks to reporters during a break in his trial in Austin, Texas, on July 26.

Good morning! The interactive aquarium chain SeaQuest announced the attraction is set to close its Trumbull Mall location this weekend. Its controversial four-year run in the space included a tax-battle with the town and several animal-related citations. The chain as a whole continues to face allegations of animal neglect. 

Keep reading for a bite-sized look at what we’re hearing.

Three mosquitoes in Darien, Connecticut tested positive for West Nile Virus this week. The virus was also found in mosquitoes around Norwalk, Stamford, and New Canaan this summer. Testing from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station began in June and will run through October, with results recorded and made public every 10 days. The new numbers follow the announcement that almost 20 mosquitoes were shown carrying the same virus on Long Island earlier in August.

A power substation on Fire Island has faced significant erosion from receding shorelines for decades, worrying residents of power outages during heavy storming. In response, the Long Island Power Authority announced plans to establish a temporary barrier against the shore. For the time being, the authorities ensure residents that they do not anticipate the loss of power.

Western Connecticut State University will be under new leadership. Interim President Paul Beran will step back into an advisory role after a year before the fall semester starts. Manohar Singh, the current dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Southern Connecticut State University, will take on the role Aug. 25.

Ex-fundraiser for U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) was indicted in federal court on charges of impersonating a high-level Congressional staffer in order to fundraise for Santos. The indictment, unsealed on Wednesday, reveals four emails Samuel Miele sent to contributors faking his identity, along with an email sent to Santos admitting to the act.

A Suffolk County resident has died from vibriosis, a rare bacterial infection which thrives in high-temperature environments with low salinity. The infection has made appearances in the area in the past, with three cases reported in Connecticut in July, of which two infected people have died. State health officials said to avoid swimming in warm seawater. Individuals with compromised immune systems should avoid consuming raw seafood.

A federal judge is to decide what Alex Jones will really pay Sandy Hook families. He was ordered to pay $1.5 billion in the defamation lawsuit against him, or instead his lawyers urged a more “realistic amount” to families affected. Jones, who called the 2012 shooting that killed 20 students and six educators in Newtown, “staged,” is arguing that the debt is one he could not pay in 100 lifetimes. Families affected by the defamation claim that Jones “does not deserve — and is not legally entitled to — a fresh start.”

An affordable housing proposal took another step forward in receiving funding from the New Haven Board of Alders. On Monday, the board’s Finance Committee voted unanimously in favor of a “land bank,” or a nonprofit, quasi-public organization that would work to buy, rehabilitate, maintain, and sell properties in the city to people rather than allow megalandlords to purchase the spaces. The effort is in response to the housing affordability crisis in the area, which advocacy groups claim is one of the top concerns of New Haven residents.

Officials broke ground Thursday to connect the Central Islip business district to the Suffolk County sewer system. The project is part of Islip’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which was awarded a $10 million grant by New York State in 2018 to fund community revitalization projects. The sewer system is expected to reach completion within the next 18 months.

Fewer New Yorkers lack health insurance since 2010. According to an analysis of the latest data from 2021, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli credits higher enrollment in public health insurance programs. New York was tied with Connecticut with the 10th lowest rate, below than the national average of about 9%. Twice the number of Black and Asian residents and three times the Latino New Yorkers are uninsured, compared to their white neighbors. Most insured were from households earning less than $49,000 annually.

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Eda Uzunlar (she/her) is a reporter for WSHU.