News Wrap: Parkland jury deliberates Cruz sentence, new protests sweep Iran

In our news wrap Wednesday, a jury in Florida starts deliberating on whether Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz will be sentenced to death, seven more people were killed in Ukraine as Russia fired missiles and artillery rounds into major cities and new protests swept Iran despite heavy police presence and an internet outage that hindered communications.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    A jury in Connecticut has ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay nearly $1 billion in damages for defamation. The host of the Infowars show had claimed the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax.

    Relatives of eight of the 26 victims and an FBI agent brought the suit. They said today's verdict is a hard-fought victory.

    Robbie Parker, Father of Sandy Hook Victim: All I can really say is that I'm just proud that what we were able to accomplish was just to simply tell the truth.

    And it shouldn't be this hard, and it shouldn't be this scary. I shouldn't have to worry about what my daughter is going to go through when I tell them that it's best if they just tell the truth.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Jones already faced a $50 million penalty that a Texas jury imposed in August. We will return to this story later in the program.

    A jury in South Florida has begun deliberating on whether Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz will be sentenced to death. Cruz already pleaded guilty to killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. He is now 24 years old. The defense is asking for life in prison without parole.

    In Ukraine, seven more people were killed today, as Russia fired more missiles, drones, and artillery rounds into major cities. In all, the new Russian offensive has killed at least 26 people since Monday. The latest attacks came as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other NATO defense ministers met in Brussels on bolstering Ukraine's weapon supply.

    Lloyd Austin, U.S. Secretary of Defense: And that resolve has only been heightened by the deliberate cruelty of Russia's new barrage against Ukraine cities. Those assaults on targets with no military purpose again reveal the malice of Putin's war of choice.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Russian fire also knocked out power to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant for the second time in five days.

    And, at the United Nations, the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia's attempt to annex more of Ukraine.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow is set to resume natural gas deliveries to Europe. He said today that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany could still be used, despite being damaged by explosions last month. Germany quickly rejected the offer as another attempt to renew Europe's dependence on Russian energy.

    New protests swept Iran today, despite heavy police presence and an Internet outage that hindered communications. Demonstrators rallied in at least 19 cities over the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. Women marched in the streets, defiantly removing their mandatory hijabs.

    In Tehran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei blamed foreign elements for the unrest.

    Ayatollah Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran (through translator): Some are either agents of the enemy or they are aligned with the enemy. Others are just excited. The first group must be dealt with by judicial and national security officials.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The regime has carried out a violent crackdown on the protests. At least one human rights group estimated today that at least 200 people have been killed.

    Back in this country, the former head of the Los Angeles City Council has resigned her council seat over racist remarks that were leaked. Nury Martinez had already stepped down from her post as council president. On the leaked recording, Martinez and two other councilmembers talked about attracting Latino voting power and made abusive or marks about other groups. The attorney general has announced he will look into the process for drawing new council districts.

    Former President Trump was ordered today to give a deposition in a defamation lawsuit. A federal judge issued the order in New York. Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll says Mr. Trump defamed her when he denied raping her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. The former president's legal team has repeatedly tried to quash the lawsuit.

    The CDC today approved updated COVID-19 booster shots for children as young as 5 years old. The latest Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are tailored to better provide protection against the highly contagious Omicron variant. The CDC approval came hours after the FDA authorized the boosters for the younger age group.

    And on Wall Street today, stocks ended slightly lower after news that wholesale inflation rose 8.5 percent in September from a year earlier. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 28 points to close at 29210. The Nasdaq fell nine points. The S&P 500 slipped 11.

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