NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week

Table of Contents

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No, Georgia officials did not make a mistake in releasing the Trump indictment with the names of the grand jurors.

After the 2020 election, the grand jurors in Fulton County, Georgia, who were not properly identified by officials, indicted former President Donald Trump this week.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with other agencies, is currently investigating threats against jury members, according to Thursday’s statement. In an email, Elizabeth Taxel explained that while there is no explicit Georgia statute requiring the inclusion of grand jurors’ names in the indictment, this requirement is implied by the laws governing the grand jury process and has been established through decades of case law. Elizabeth Taxel, an assistant clinical professor of law at the University of Georgia, stated that the Georgia Supreme Court consistently considers an indictment without the names of grand jurors to be “defective.” Adam Hames, a former Georgia assistant attorney general, explained that including the grand jurors’ names allows the defense to challenge if necessary, despite the generally confidential nature of grand jury proceedings. Gabe Banks, a former Fulton County deputy district attorney, confirmed that the names of grand jurors have always been included in the indictment in his experience as both a prosecutor and defense lawyer in felony cases in Georgia. Banks added that struck-through names on the indictments indicate jurors who were absent or did not vote. Legal experts affirm that in Georgia, it is customary to include the unredacted names of the grand jurors. On the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, a popular post seemed to reference the accidental posting of a list of criminal charges against Trump before his actual indictment, stating, “First they ‘leak’ the indictment before the jury even voted, then they forget to redact juror names.” According to legal experts who spoke to the AP, some quickly spread a claim that officials made a mistake by including the jurors’ names when releasing the indictment after the grand jury indicted Trump and 18 others on Monday for their alleged attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state. Legal experts who spoke to the AP explained that including the names of the grand jurors in indictments in Georgia is standard practice, as it allows defendants to challenge the composition of the grand jury.

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– This report was contributed by Angelo Fichera, a writer from the Associated Press, in New Jersey.

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False conspiracy theories connect the Maui wildfires to ‘smart cities’ and technology conferences.

The claim is that a conference will be hosted in Maui in January, where they will discuss using artificial intelligence to govern the island and transform reality into ideas, proving that recent wildfires were set intentionally.

The upcoming summit, which takes place in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, is also the 13th year for the event. In addition, the speaker has not given presentations on other events that have taken place on Maui. Shaw, however, stated that he would not be speaking at the conference due to a scheduling conflict. The official agenda only mentions a talk from Jack Shaw, an expert technology consultant, focusing on the power of emerging technologies, specifically AI, to improve government practices. Philip Bertolini also mentioned that the gathering is not exclusively focused on using AI in the public sector, but rather aims to bring together both the public and private sectors to engage and share best practices in government technology. Bui wrote in an email that the idea of transforming Maui into a smart island, which could potentially cause harm and fatalities, was not the main focus of the conference. About a dozen presentations were related to smart cities, not specifically Maui, and the conference included a wide range of topics on information technology. Tung Bui, an IT professor at the University of Hawaii, explained that the conferences in Hawaii are not solely focused on smart cities, but cover a broad scope of technology issues. However, the posts about smart city concepts do misrepresent the conferences, as they are not exclusively focused on smart cities. The upcoming government summit also mentions an upcoming “digital summit” where they will discuss utilizing AI to govern the island. One man shared a widely circulated video where he talks about how they had a conference in Maui in January about turning the entire island into a smart city. However, there is no truth to the assertion that fires were deliberately set to raze the historic town of Lahaina, which is considered the epicenter of the destruction in Maui. Green’s office in Hawaii wrote in an email statement that they will continue to investigate the claim. The Next Government Digital Summit in Hawaii is an annual gathering focused on emerging issues in the global information technology sector, not specifically on using AI in Maui.

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– This report was contributed by Philip Marcelo, a writer from the Associated Press, in New York.

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Trees and poles positioned amidst the wreckage caused by the Maui fire are not uncommon, in contrast to conspiracy theories.

The source was not a wildfire, implying that vehicles and structures in close proximity to trees and poles that remained upright were severely affected in the scenes of the Maui wildfires.

Wildfires in Maui are the deadliest in the U.S. In more than a century. The wind can blow embers past poles and trees, making them particularly vulnerable to flying embers and accumulating fire. Under these conditions, you can find unburnt patches of vegetation and structures. “Firebrands” or flying embers can spread fires through contact with radiation or flame, as noted by Arnaud Trouvé, a fire protection engineering professor at the University of Maryland. Large trees, with their water and bark protection, don’t simply vaporize during a forest fire, unlike smaller pieces of wood. In photos from the 2020 fire in southern Oregon, some neighboring trees remained standing while homes were destroyed, which is unusual. However, the report stated that the wildfire did not engulf the homes itself, but rather the spread between the houses caused the most residential damage. Wildfires often spread to structures and homes through small burning particles, such as embers. It’s actually very common for wildfires to burn structures and vehicles, according to Michael Gollner, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Despite this, utility poles and nearby trees can still remain standing upright, and not all vehicles and glass are completely burned. This wildfire, which destroyed trees and buildings but left some untouched, was not a typical wildfire. Embers that are larger and can hit targets like cars and homes often spew fiery particles during wildfires.

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– Angelo Fichera.

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The CEO of Pfizer has not been apprehended by the United States Marine Corps.

CLAIM: The CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, was apprehended by the U.S. Marine Corps and his bodyguards were fatally injured.

The AP has previously debunked multiple false claims, including claims made by the FBI that Bourla was arrested. On Monday, he tweeted about a treatment for aggressive blood cancer called myeloma. In the evening of August 7th, he mentioned his college sophomore mentoring experience. The claims of Bourla’s arrest in the morning were falsely stated. The anonymous source cited by the General Eric M. Smith’s office did not provide any credible evidence for its claim. The post about Bourla’s supposed capture also did not provide any credible evidence. The site includes a disclaimer stating that it contains satire and parody humor. Many of its posts about arrests are made-up. The website Real Raw News frequently publishes fabricated stories using anonymous military sources. Last week, they published a false post claiming that Bourla was captured by United States Marines during a military-sanctioned operation to apprehend a fiendish clot shot manufacturer. Despite being false, the post was shared by social media users. A similar false claim was made in a post by a website that claims to publish satire and parody humor. Pfizer has confirmed in a statement to the AP that Bourla has not been arrested. The FACTS are clear: Bourla has not been arrested by Pfizer.

– This report was contributed by Melissa Goldin, a writer for the Associated Press, in New York.

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