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Climate Change, Pickleball, Moxie

Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
The Truth Network Radio
August 7, 2022 3:48 pm

Climate Change, Pickleball, Moxie

Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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August 7, 2022 3:48 pm

Hosted by Jane Pauley. In our cover story, Tracy Smith looks at actions being taken in Nevada due to climate change. Plus: Seth Doane talks with writer-director Michael Mann about his new novel, a prequel/sequel to his classic heist film "Heat"; Martha Teichner examines the Alex Jones defamation trial verdicts; Nancy Giles checks out Maine's favorite soft drink, Moxie; And Luke Burbank reports on America's fastest growing sport: pickleball.

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I'm Jane Pauley, and this is Sunday Morning. Searing heat, massive wildfires, catastrophic flooding, unequivocal evidence the United Nations says that climate change is real and that human activity is its primary cause. So how bad can it get? According to some scientists, the possibility of worldwide societal collapse or even eventual human extinction isn't out of the question.

It's a harsh warning, to say the least. And yet this morning, Tracey Smith finds there's still reason for hope. From the raging fires of the west, 95 to 100 degrees, to the killer heat in the east, and all the floods in between, climate scientists are afraid the summer of 2022 is but a preview of what's to come. 20 years from now, we will look back on the summer of 2022 and we will wish that we had it this good.

And that's not an exaggeration whatsoever. But there may still be reason for hope. A way forward, coming up on Sunday Morning. It's been around for more than 50 years, but Luke Burbank will explain why pickleball is suddenly center court. If you combine the rules of tennis, the simplicity of ping pong, and throw in a wiffle ball, you get this. The fastest growing sport in America.

It is easy to pick up, so that's why people love the sport, right? You got the underhand serve, a little aggression, a little competitiveness, kind of mix that all in and you got the pickleball player. Okay, here we go. Game on. All right.

Picking up pickleball, ahead on Sunday Morning. Our Nancy Giles has no shortage of moxie, as you'll see in her tale about a beloved beverage by that very name. Seth Stone talks with filmmaker and now novelist Michael Mann. David Martin introduces us to a former Marine who kept his word. Martha Teichner reports on the Sandy Hook parents' search for justice.

Plus, opinion from author David Sedaris, and more. It's Sunday Morning, August 7th, 2022, and we'll be back after this. It's been a summer of weather extremes the world over, prompting some to warn that when it comes to climate change, the future is now. Tracey Smith has been looking at the urgency of the issue and explains how we still can stem the tide. In Las Vegas, Nevada, it's come to this. Around here, climate change has helped make water even more scarce. So, under a new Nevada law, the grass has got to go. When we look at outdoor water use in San Francisco, we see a lot of grass, and we see a lot of trees, and we see a lot of trees. We see a lot of trees, and we see a lot of trees, and we see a lot of trees, and we see a lot of grass has got to go. When we look at outdoor water use in southern Nevada, landscaping far and away is the largest water user, and of that, it's grass. The city's already pulled up about 4 million square feet of grass on public property so far this year because thirsty green parkways are something they just can't afford anymore, says Bronson Mack of the Las Vegas Water Authority. So, this grass behind you is going. The grass that you see behind me is not long for this world. In fact, the next couple of months to a year, this grass will be completely eliminated, and it'll be replaced with drip-irrigated trees and plants. Possible broken sprinkler.

And every drip counts, so water waste investigators, also known as water cops, patrol the neighborhoods, taking note of who's watering when and how much of it goes down the drain. Living through the summer of 22 has made climate change harder to deny, whether here in bone-dry Nevada, or in the Caribbean, where rampant seaweed growth is choking beaches, or Kentucky, where too much water created a tragedy that's still unfolding. But it seems there are still those who could use convincing that climate change has become a climate emergency. Hold on, Jack, are you suggesting these weather anomalies are going to continue?

Not just continue, get worse. I think we're on the verge of a major climate shift. Hollywood scientists have been sounding the climate alarm for decades, but last spring, some real scientists chained themselves to a Los Angeles bank in protest over the lack of action. We're going to lose everything, and we're not joking.

We're not lying, we're not exaggerating. This is so bad, everyone. So do you feel like you're sitting on all this science, and you're trying to share it with the world, and no one's listening? That's exactly how I feel, yes.

How did you get into climate? Peter Kalmas, a NASA scientist and father of two, says that we should be scared to death about the climate right now. I think that if your house is on fire, you get the adrenaline, you get the panic, and that saves your life, because you get out of the house, and you put the fire out. So you want people to freak out? I do want people to freak out. Yeah, I don't think people are freaking out enough.

There's not enough public urgency over this. For starters, he wants people to know what the world is going to feel like in summers to come. So if this summer is so ridiculously hot, what is next summer going to look like? In general, it's a trend going up. 20 years from now, we will look back on the summer of 2022, and we will wish that we had it this good.

We will wish it was this cool, and that's not an exaggeration whatsoever. And for the most part, the scientific community is behind him. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is basically the last word on where we stand, and that word is grim, says report lead author Sarah Burch.

Tell me the bad news coming out of this report. The bad news from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that we are not on track currently to limit warming to less than two degrees, and this is that limit that we've set that scientists have told us is important because it helps us to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. So two degrees of warming?

What does that even mean? We ask Neil deGrasse Tyson to lay it out for us. How many degrees away was the ice age of 20,000 years ago? Eight degrees colder. Eight degrees colder.

We have an ice age where glaciers reach all the way down to the middle of the United States of America. So even a half a degree makes a huge difference. In your life, what's a half a degree to you or me? Two degrees? Who cares? Earth? It matters.

It matters. Eight degrees colder? Glaciers reach St. Louis. Two degrees warmer? We're losing our coastline.

Take it up a little higher? I don't even want to be around to see that. If the ice caps melt, how high could the waters get? From the ice caps, the water levels of the oceans will rise and reach the left elbow of the Statue of Liberty.

That's her left arm holding the document. I don't even want to think about that. Tyson, an astrophysicist who's put some of his cosmic perspectives into a new book, says our planet's future might be written in the stars, or at least in our planetary neighbors. Do you realize Venus is basically the same size as Earth, has the same surface gravity? Might have turned out just like Earth, but something bad happened on Venus. They have a runaway greenhouse effect. It is 900 degrees Fahrenheit on Venus. And I did the math on this.

You can cook a 16-inch pepperoni pizza on the windowsill in three seconds. So is that a benefit to this? Perhaps. But I want to know what knobs nature turned there, because if we are turning those same knobs on Earth artificially, that's bad. That does not bode well for the future of life on Earth, but especially for the civilization that was built over the past 10,000 years over a period of relative stability in our climate. The thing is, even if more and more people believe we're headed for disaster, and polls seem to show that they do, the key is actually doing something about it, and fast. So just simply put, do we know what we need to do?

Absolutely. We know that we need to move our electricity away from coal and highly polluting fossil fuels and towards solar and wind. We know what we need to do to our buildings to make them more efficient. We need to insulate them. We need to heat them with heat pumps instead of using natural gas, coal, and oil. We need to use clean electricity and switch to EVs. So we have this laundry list of really practical solutions that we know will work, but accelerating the uptake is the trick now. That's the challenge. Congress is inching toward legislation that'll provide billions in tax incentives for clean energy and more.

But for now, we've learned to adapt. And in Nevada, it means more than just pulling up grass. Lake Mead, one of the main water sources in the region, is drying up faster than ever. The white bathtub ring shows just how much. Some of the intake pipes that carry water downstream, like this one, are already sticking out above the water line. But if the lake's water level drops too low to flow downstream, or becomes what's known as a dead pool, the people in southern Nevada have a plan. They've built this low lake level pumping station near what used to be the water's edge.

These massive pipes connect to a new intake, almost a drain, at the very bottom of Lake Mead, so they'll be able to keep pumping water until the last available drop. Water authority chief, John Entsminger. You guys could see this coming, that you had to do something. Absolutely. But we didn't need a crystal ball to know that we needed to prepare to protect our community. And while scientists can see the worst of what lies ahead, they also can see a way forward.

Dr. Sarah Burch. Why do you still have hope? The flip side of that coin is that over the last 10 years, we've also seen evidence of real sustained greenhouse gas reductions. So what that tells me is we have a road map. We have the technologies, the policies, the actions already at play that we need to get where we want to go. We just have to follow the road map. That's right. And move faster.

Move faster along that road. We are all the same race, the human race. I'd like to think we can all band together and solve our problems without killing ourselves. Last weekend's drone strike that killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was the first conducted by the United States in Afghanistan since the American withdrawal almost one year ago. As that anniversary approaches, we're taking a look back at those difficult days.

To begin, here's David Martin. It's been a year since the chaotic end of America's war in Afghanistan, and it doesn't look any better in retrospect to Elliot Ackerman. This was a collapse of American morals and how we treated our allies.

It was a collapse of American competence, our ability to execute this mission. For Ackerman, who served four combat tours in Afghanistan, both with the Marines and the CIA, the collapse was also personal. Suddenly, I'm right back in the war. You know, I thought I left the war. He had been away from the war for a decade, making a living as a writer. Now, he has written a book about America's longest war called The Fifth Act.

Five Acts, check, check, check, Five Acts, Shakespeare's Tragedies. You have Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden, and the Fifth Act, the denouement, is the Taliban. The Taliban had outlasted the world's greatest superpower and were looking to take their revenge on Afghans who had sided with the Americans. A war that had begun before the iPhone existed was imploding in an endless stream of viral video. Through your phone, you could hear the collective voices of all of these Afghans who had believed what we told them, crying out for help. So Ackerman became part of a digital network of veterans working to get Afghans out. I was involved in efforts that got, you know, probably over 200 people out.

U.S. troops had taken control of the airport in Kabul, and Afghans swarmed the gates looking for some way anyway to get past the guards and onto a plane. It would be the equivalent of going to a Rolling Stones concert and walking into the back and getting the band to call you up on stage. So you had to know somebody in the band. You had to know someone in the band. Or someone in the Marines who guarded the gates. Ackerman's network texted them photos with arrows pointing where to look for specific Afghans with handmade signs, a pass to freedom for this man and his family. Most of them were strangers. All of them were desperate. My question, sir, please do something for us.

At least save my kids. Like the man Ackerman calls Aziz. He'd once worked for the U.S. government and was now sending anguished voice messages about his dread of the Taliban. We don't want to get caught by Taliban because they're looking everywhere, displaced by place, home by home, street by street looking for us. All the families in a very bad condition. They are so scared. Kids are so scared. How do you ignore something like that? So what did you think the chances were?

Low. That we were going to be able to help him. And then the bomb happened at the Abbey Gate and that shut everything down. A suicide bomber slipped into the crowd and killed 13 Americans and an estimated 170 Afghans. Four days later, the last American soldier flew out of Afghanistan. Ackerman could do little more than tell Aziz he was sorry. Then he sent me this text message. You did your best and more than you are the superhero of our family. I think it's our luck to die by Taliban.

Then Ackerman heard about a flight leaving from Mazar-e-Sharif. It's halfway across the country to the north in the mountains, you know, a long drive. And this is you in the green.

This is me in the green. Please go as quickly as you can. Okay, sir, you need to hurry.

All flights are leaving today. Hurry. Aziz sent videos of the drive north. He made it to Mazar-e-Sharif in time.

Sir, this is the place. But then the flight doesn't go that day. And it doesn't go the next day. And days and weeks are passing and he is in a safe house, which is really just a wedding hall. And he sends me this video.

On that balcony more than 100 people. He sort of stays in this limbo for about a month. And then one night, I knew that he was manifested for a flight. And I went to bed. And I woke up in the morning. And he'd sent me this. Hello, sir.

How are you? Aziz and his family had made it out of Afghanistan and into a refugee center in Qatar. Safe at last from the Taliban. We got all this stuff from our kids. I have no I have no idea how to thank. But I'm thankful of everyone, every single person of US America, because we never dreamed such a thing. But their love, their mercy. Thank you.

Thank you for everything. I was amazed that after going through the ordeal that he had been through, and seeing how disastrously it all ended, his impulse was to thank us. And he says, I thank every single American. Aziz now lives in California with his wife and children. We're not using his real name, and he does not want to be interviewed on camera, because he still has family in Afghanistan.

Just because we've decided as Americans to turn the page, that doesn't mean that the page gets turned for all the people who are still in Afghanistan, or all the Afghans who have come to America, whose families are still there. Filmmaker Michael Mann's Miami Vice was all the rage a few decades back. There have been no shortage of successful movies in the years since. Now he's trying something new, and telling our Seth Doan all about it. We're pretty close to where you're staying.

A wrist around the corner. Oscar-nominated Hollywood director Michael Mann has been in Italy long enough to develop a morning routine, and find a favorite cafe in Modena, where Mann is shooting his latest film, Ferrari. This city is the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari, and his company, and is famed for fast cars and good food. Cities fascinate me.

They have their own character, you know. What do you get out of a city like this one, Modena? What I get is a real challenge to understand what life is like if you're living here. For me, the challenge is to get so deep into this specific regional culture, because the deeper I do that, the more universal it becomes.

The detail-obsessed director has made a career of prompting audiences to feel for the characters in his films, whether it's the last remaining member of the Mohican tribe... No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you. ...or the plight of a tobacco industry whistleblower in The Insider. Do you wish you hadn't blown the whistle?

Yeah, there are times I wish I hadn't done it. There was the collective stress we felt for the taxi driver who realizes his passenger is an assassin in Collateral. Why didn't you just kill me and get another cab driver?

Because you're good. We're in this together. And he took viewers deep into the world of undercover detectives in Miami Vice. Hey, look, hallelujah!

The flashy police series the executive produced in the 1980s, which brought film-like storytelling to TV. You're not! What do you want from me? But Mann is particularly adept at making moviegoers empathize with some of the most unsavory characters, including those in his celebrated bank robbery film Heat. Everybody's life is as complex and rich in detail as yours is or mine is.

We want to hurt no one. Late film critic Roger Ebert complimented Mann's writing and directing of the heist film, calling his characters eloquent, insightful and poetic. What is it about this criminal underworld that fascinates you so much? Actually, nothing in particular.

What fascinates me, what I'm drawn to is drama and drama is conflict. What do you say I buy you a cup of coffee? There was plenty of both in Heat, that 1995 movie starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro. Yeah, sure, let's go.

Follow me! Val Kilmer and Ashley Judd. I had to learn L.A. for Heat. So I had been living there for 25 years. I thought I knew it and realized I did not know L.A. And so we probably shot on more locations in L.A. in 94, 95 making Heat than any other film before had shot.

Mann says he went out with police answering emergency calls every weekend for six months, preparing for that film. We know you as a director, but you're making a bit of a career turn or twist. It may be perceived as a twist for me. It's not really a twist. It's really the fulfillment of something I wanted to do for so long.

He's written his first novel, Heat 2, along with co-author Meg Gardner, which is being released this week. For me, I always try to go very, very deep. Here's why you are the way you are so that there's a whole life. The movie is a splinter.

It's just a fragment. Writing a book let him go deeper, concocting a prequel and sequel to the movie. I really wanted to do more with the three-dimensional understanding of these people, their past, and then also project them into the futures that they might have. Mann wanted the book to have the cinematic drive of his films. I wondered if while you were writing there was something freeing about the ability to write, to invent, just with your pen. Freeing and dangerous, because you could find yourself writing something and then I'm very self-cooked, saying, OK, great. I just spent a day and a half writing and it's a piece of crap.

I find I had to really struggle and hit myself on the head with a hammer to get in, get in and stay in. The book develops Heat's characters, particularly the one played by Val Kilmer, and the types of crimes evolve too. You've made a lot of different types of movies, but you have made a career in making violent, graphically violent at times, movies. I wonder how you see the actual violence, embrace of violence in America today. I'm not smart enough to analyze the complex, inter-reactive nature of the violence that's happening.

I do believe it's a combination of many, many different factors. The horrendous state of education in the United States, the role-playing phenomenon of a life. This isn't your avatar doing this, this is you doing it. But you were behind a lot of violent movies. Is there any responsibility that you feel? I'm against gratuitous anything. Gratuitous sentimentality, gratuitous violence, gratuitous horror. The bank robbery in Heat is scary.

It is not, oh wow, I wish I was one of those guys. He will not say who he's thinking to cast in Heat 2, if or when the book becomes a movie, but he knows who'd direct. This book you've written is part of a three-book deal, if I understand correctly. Right.

You're setting up quite a body of work that then you plan to direct. Yes. You're 79? 79. You know, healthy and strong and still doing 16-hour days and seven-hour days. Does being 79 push you to work harder or do you not think at all about age?

It pushes to be more careful about what I'm going to dedicate my time to and I'm somewhat successful, not a hundred percent successful in that. Now he's dedicating his time to Ferrari, his 12th feature film as director. Per usual, he's going deep, learning the city, the company, and its cars. Hearing you talk about cities like this one, like Moden, like Los Angeles, where you shop for Heat, it sounds really more that you're an academic, a researcher. Well, but it's all, yeah, well that's what you do as a director. I'm trying to create a fabric of reality that's as complex and powerful as it is. Unbelievable as you experience your own reality where you're from.

This is The Takeout with Major Garrett. This week, Steven Law, ally of Mitch McConnell and one of Washington's biggest midterm money men. List for me the two Senate races where you think Republicans have the best chance of taking a Democratic seat away. Nevada, New Hampshire. Not Georgia. Well, Georgia's right up there, but New Hampshire is a surprise.

In New Hampshire, people really just kind of don't like Maggie Hassan. For more from this week's conversation, follow The Takeout with Major Garrett on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Hi, podcast peeps. It's me, Drew Barrymore.

Oh my goodness. I want to tell you about our new show. It's the Drew's News Podcast. And in each episode, me and a weekly guest are going to cover all the quirky, fun, inspiring, and informative stories that exist out in the world because, well, I need it.

And maybe you do, too, from the newest interior design trend, Barbie Corps, to the right and wrong way to wash your armpits. Also, we're going to get into things that you just kind of won't believe and we're not able to do in daytime television, so watch out. Listen to Drew's News wherever you get your podcasts.

It's your good news on the go. Pickleball, anyone? Luke Burbank serves up a story about our fastest-growing sport.

It all started, more or less, out of necessity. The inaugural game was this very ball. Oh, wow. This is the Cosom Fun Ball. You can see his safety play is the little label on there. And so the bat was around here wherever, but the ball is what they grabbed, Bill Bell and Joe. And David McCallum remembers back in 1965 when a couple of neighborhood dads here on Bainbridge Island, Washington, Bill Bell and Joel Pritchard, were looking for something, anything to keep their bored kids entertained. They had some pieces of wood, a plastic ball, and a badminton court. So they made up a game on the spot and named it Pickleball. The Pickles version of the naming is that Pickles would run around here in these bushes and grab the ball. So they named it after Pickle the dog. But there's also some speculation that Pickles was born after the game was invented, which would make it impossible.

It would. While the origin of the sport's name might be complicated, the game itself was actually pretty simple. They came up and found the badminton court, which had a raised net, they had a ping pong paddle and a wiffle ball and started trying to hit the ball. And they lowered the net and figured the game of Pickleball out. Scott Stover and his wife Carol owned the house and the court where the sport was invented. They grew up spending their summers just down the road and watched, like David McCallum, as Pickleball took off within their tiny island community. And it started growing, you know, very small, but they needed paddles. Not everybody has a bandsaw in their basement, so they would call Barney to get paddles. Barney was David McCallum's dad, credited as the sport's third founder.

By day, he ran an envelope company. By night, he started making, with his son's help, Pickleball paddles for a growing fan base, first on the island and then for the wider world, which is where Doug Smith came in. The best thing we could do is be able to have a demonstration court and then get the teachers out there. Doug's task was to try to convince PE teachers to add Pickleball to their curriculum, which meant going to teaching conferences and letting them try it for themselves.

The teachers would be playing all during the conference. The plan took time, but worked, taking Pickleball from a game with a funny name invented in someone's backyard to what is currently the fastest growing sport in America. By some estimates, nearly 5 million people in the U.S. have taken up Pickleball, and that's having a profound cultural effect, from the repurposing of many tennis courts to how retirement communities are being built, to the themed restaurants, and of course, the hyper-competitive pro leagues. Jen Lucore is a Pickleball Hall of Famer, who, along with her doubles partner, Alex Hamner, has won five national championships. I have exactly zero Pickleball championships. In fact, the last time I played was 30 years ago during racket sports class at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle. So I figured I'd get a refresher from Jen. And then you're staying in line, and now you are a master dinker.

Look at you go! Fans of the game say the secret sauce of Pickleball is that anyone can learn the game and start having fun in 30 minutes. So Sunday Morning producer John Goodwin and I decided to test that theory. We had a few victories, and a lot of defeats, and also a lot of fun. Not bad for a game invented by a couple of desperate dads that's now taking the nation by storm. I got it, that's it!

Steve Hartman has an incredible tale of lost and found. That first set was like the day we brought him home. Before they had children, before they were even married, Jason and Liz McHenry of Annapolis, Maryland say this was their baby, a cat named Ritz. I mean, at that point, they are your kids.

Yeah, it is a member of the family. At least he was, until 2006, when Ritz bolted out the apartment door, down the stairs, and never returned. We spent months, you know, looking all around, talking to the shelters, and yeah, anything we could think of, we tried. When did you finally give up? I don't know that you ever really give up. In fact, she still has his lost pet poster.

It felt like if I deleted it, it never happened, and he'd be forgotten, and I couldn't do that. And so, her sliver of hope remained, through that decade and into the next, and into the next. Sixteen years came and went, until six miles from Jason's old apartment building, a woman found a stray cat living in this trailer park. The cat was in such terrible shape, she brought it over to this veterinary office to be put down. But before doing so, as is standard procedure, the vet scanned the cat for a microchip.

At that very moment, Jason got an automated text. Cat Ritz has been found. It was like, well, that's got to be a mistake. I mean, I'm thinking they recycled the microchip number, and she's upstairs, and she overhears me.

She goes, what did you just say? He's been gone for 16 years. I didn't think this was possible. Come on, Ritz. And yet, there he is, the record holder. No pet reunited because of a microchip has ever been lost longer. Today, despite two bum legs, Ritz is on the mend.

He already has his favorite chair picked out, and is now enjoying the attention of the brother and sister he never knew. Ritz has a very sweet demeanor, which means he may have been a house cat at some point. But there's no telling. All we know for certain is that for 16 years, Ritz was lost.

But hope was never. Nancy Giles tells us all about a beverage with Moxie. There's Coke, there's Pepsi, there's 7-Up. But in the state of Maine, the soft drink they celebrate is Moxie. Moxie, oh, Moxie, it's me for you, I don't know what I could do without you. Moxie actually outsold Coca-Cola nationally in the 1920s. And gave us a new word. The word Moxie is in the English language, meaning pluck and verve and strength. Few people know that that word came from the drink. Merrill Lewis enjoys spreading the word about his favorite drink at the Moxie Museum in Union, Maine. The birthplace of Dr. Augustin Thompson, who began selling his Moxie nerve food in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1885. What were some of the claims of things that it could cure? Well, it could cure nervous exhaustion, loss of manhood, imbecility.

I like to say everything from halitosis to hangnail. Moxie was actually the Viagra of its day, you know? Who knew? Jim Baumer wrote the book on Moxie. Moxie's real sort of heyday was early 1900s. Every major city in America had a large billboard about Moxie. Sides of buildings with the Moxie logo were these advertisements that were painted on the building. We had Moxie in magazines. Wherever there was a marketing sort of presence, Moxie jumped in and was part of that. It was a marketing blitz unheard of at the time. Moxie songs, celebrity endorsements, a Moxie game, Moxie candy, something called a Moxie horsemobile.

That is a horse mounted on a car chassis that somebody sat on and drove around the country. Every summer, with a two-year break for COVID, folks from all over have gathered in Lisbon Falls, Maine, to celebrate Moxie with parades, bake-offs, Moxie memorabilia, and Moxie ice cream. If you drink Moxie, you have Moxie. And you have Moxie if you drink Moxie. Simple as that.

Simple as that. By now, you are probably wondering what Moxie tastes like. Well, it's kind of hard to describe, but that doesn't stop anyone from trying. Not real sweet, but very good. Sort of like root beer and Coca-Cola and coffee all together. And you mix it up, and it's good warm, cold. It tastes like a rugged root beer. I personally think it tastes like a little bit of flat root beer, a little bit of flat Pepsi mixed with a little drop of cough syrup. So there you have it. A soft drink that inspired a word and, according to Moxie enthusiasts, might be just what we need today. What this country needs is plenty of Moxie, and it does. As you've heard, in Austin, Texas, a decision in the trial of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who for years now has insisted that the 2012 massacre of 26 students and staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax.

To help us make sense of what it all means, Martha Teichner has a Sunday Journal. Then I'm going to accept this as a verdict of the jury and order that the clerk... On Friday, a jury in Texas, Alex Jones's own home state, unanimously decided to punish him to the tune of $45.2 million. On top of the $4.1 million they had already ordered him to pay to Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, the parents of six-year-old Jesse Lewis, who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. I don't know what really happened with Sandy Hook, folks. We've looked at all sides. We played devil's advocate from both sides, but I mean, it's as phony as a $3 bill.

This is what the defamation lawsuit was all about. Alex Jones's regular rants on his Infowars website that Sandy Hook was a hoax staged that none of the 20 dead children or their parents were even real. Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake, with actors, in my view, manufactured. Jesse was real. I am a real mom. I know you know that.

That's the problem. The road to a reckoning for Alex Jones has been as ugly and wild a ride as last week's trial turned out to be. I can't even describe the last nine and a half years of the living hell that I and others have had to endure. Heslin described the harassment, the death threats he and other Sandy Hook victims' families have faced because Alex Jones's followers believed him.

But I have done some things that are wrong, and I didn't do it on purpose, and I apologize. In one of several stunning moments in court last week, a suddenly contrite Alex Jones admitted he had lied. Especially since I met the parents, and it's 100 percent real. Alex Jones is exposed as a liar. CBS News legal analyst Ricky Kleeman. And when Alex Jones then admits, admits that he knew that this happened at Sandy Hook and that it wasn't a hoax, if that didn't make you get the chills, I don't know what would. Another of those moments, the revelation that Jones's lawyer had mistakenly sent the other side years of text messages proving he lied.

They sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone. Phone records Jones claimed under oath didn't exist, now of interest to the January 6th committee. There is certainly the possibility that a prosecutor could look at the record in this case and say this is someone who committed perjury. How much trouble is he really in? I think Alex Jones is in a whole world of trouble. This is a kangaroo court, this is a political action.

Like a sideshow to the drama inside. Outside the courtroom, Jones cried witch hunt and then cried poor. His company, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy. Alex Jones is as much of a maverick as he is much of an outsider that he is a very successful man. Forensic economist Bernard Pettingill testified that Jones and his company are actually worth between $135 and $270 million and that he's been shielding money in shell companies. Pettingill told the jury, Everything flows to Alex Jones. I think Alex Jones made all the major decisions and I think Alex Jones knows where the money is. Will Scarlett Lewis and Neil Hesselen see the money they hoped would be a deterrent? Would stop Alex Jones and others profiting from spreading lies? Probably not.

Texas caps punitive damages. That $45 million is likely to be knocked way down. Alex Jones will be on the air today. He'll be on the air tomorrow.

He'll be on the air next week. But Jones still faces other trials in Texas and in Connecticut where lies may prove much more expensive. What a verdict really means is to speak the truth. Will it really change the tenor of the information age, the lies, the misinformation, the subterfuge, the falsity? I don't think we know that yet, but at least it's a start.

Time for something completely different. A summer travel tip from author David Sedaris. I always thought I'd know who I got my COVID from, but in the end, I have no idea. Someone in Alaska, I'm guessing.

And that's OK. If you've never been, you should, if only for the wildlife. One afternoon in Kodiak, a pilot offered to take me up in his coffin sized plane and give me a tour.

What are you interested in? He asked. I'd already seen more eagles than I could count, so I answered bears. They're not really congregating this time of year, he said, but I could fly you over my parents' house and you could see that instead.

So I did. In many of the towns I went to there, there was no place to buy a necktie, go to a restaurant or the grocery store, and everyone was dressed to kill something and then bathe in its blood. People's yards had piles of junk in them, old water heaters, outboard motors. I mentioned this to someone, and she explained that everything had to be shipped from the lower 48. Things were expensive and hard to procure, so people tended to hold on to them in case they or one of their neighbors needed it for spare parts. One thing I never understood about Alaska was the sense of community that people had there.

Oh, it exists everywhere on some level. If one of my New York neighbors needed me to run to the grocery store, I would. If their apartment flooded, I'd offer up my spare room for a night. But we're not in the wilderness together. We're not hundreds of miles from the nearest emergency room. So it's a good thing I caught COVID there and then returned to New York. Where hospitals are like eagles, you get sick of them, at least in my neighborhood. Only I won't need one.

My COVID was like a mild cold. It's the only thing I brought home from Alaska. That and a beautiful bracelet a man in Anchorage gave me. No reason.

He just did. All it takes are a few great people to convince you that everyone in an entire state is wonderful. The pilot who showed me his parents' house. This stranger at the airport.

A Jewish woman in Juneau named Libby who referred to herself as one of the frozen chosen. I'm telling you, Alaska, you got a gun. You got to go. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. The best way to protect the good people is to convict the bad. So here's to us. The Good Fight, the final season, now streaming exclusively on Paramount+.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-29 20:56:57 / 2023-01-29 21:14:33 / 18

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