Facts Matter: Trump is not facing the death penalty
Former President Donald Trump was in a Washington court on Aug. 3 to face indictment on four federal counts alleging he tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges.
After the court appearance, some social media users claimed the former president could be facing a tough sentence.
"There is little doubt that a DC jury will convict Trump of the felonies Biden's DOJ has leveled against him. The only question is whether Trump will be sentenced to death. Trump can run from prison ONLY if he's alive," read one tweet.
"They want to give President Donald Trump the death penalty........they can't get him on anything else so they're going for the ultimate. Whether you love him or hate him no one deserves this," a Facebook user wrote.
But it's not quite that dire, The Associated Press has noted. Trump isn't facing the death penalty for any of those charges.
Of the four charges brought against Trump, conspiracy against rights is the only one that could be eligible for the death penalty, but that's only if the violation results in death. The indictment doesn't hold the former president responsible for any deaths.
Peter Carr, a spokesperson for Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith's office, told The Associated Press the social media claims are not accurate.
"The indictment does not contain the special findings required," he said.
Columbia University professor of law Daniel Richman told the AP that the indictment "makes no effort" to connect Trump to any deaths or make him eligible for the death penalty.
"There is zero basis to believe at this point that is a possibility," Richman said.
Polls give Kamala Harris low marks
Vice President Kamala Harris, during a July 31 ABC News interview, appeared to overstate how the voters feel about the job she has been doing.
Interviewer Linsey Davis asked Harris if race and gender play a role in the vice president's low approval ratings. Without addressing the question, Harris said, "There are polls that also say I have great approval ratings."
No, there aren't, according to PolitiFact.
In the current public polls that asked participants' opinion of Harris as vice president, on average 39.7% approved and 52.3% disapproved of the job she has done.
October 2021 was the most recent time a poll showed more people approved than disapproved of Harris, when her 47.3% approval rating was slightly larger than those who disapproved.
When questioned about the interview, the White House told PolitiFact that Harris' answer was the result of an open-ended question and that the vice president has a high approval rating in polls of subgroups, such as Black voters.
Earth is safe from the sun -- for now
Recent social media posts claim the planet is in trouble. A Facebook post showed an image of a burned planet.
"Scientists Warn Earth Will Be Swallowed By The Sun," the post read. "They've sent a warning after watching a planet get swallowed up by a star."
The claim is accurate, but it's missing some context, according to The Associated Press. Scientists said this could happen -- but not for roughly 5 billion years.
After a study published in May that included the first observation of a star engulfing a planet about the size of Jupiter, scientists said that, billions of years from now, the Earth could be swallowed by the sun.
The phenomenon referenced in the study happened between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago. The event caused a hot outburst of light that was discovered in 2020 when researcher Kishalay De saw the outburst on sky scans taken by Caltech's Palomar Observatory.
It took another year for scientists to figure out what had happened.
No sunburn competition
As the temperature has been rising throughout the summer, social media posts show people outside, competing to see who can absorb the most sun.
A recent tweet included images of groups of people with very red skin, looking very sunburned.
"Extreme sunburn competition in Florida. & I didn't think this was a thing," read the Aug. 3 post on X, formerly Twitter.
But it's not a thing, according to Reuters. The photos aren't real. They were created using AI-generating software.
There are clues to show the images are fake and poorly done. In one photo, a woman's hand is in a fist, but there are also fingers sticking out. In another photo, two men appear to be morphed together and the faces are missing some features.
There were also no news reports or any coverage of a sunburn competition in Florida.
• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.