dismissed

Days after White House adviser dismissed Oklahoma City bombing, feds disrupt McVeigh-inspired plot

Last Thursday, Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to President Trump, went on Breitbart News Daily and made a case that the media should take it easier on white supremacists.

While dismissing the notion of “lone wolf” terror attacks, Gorka discussed Timothy McVeigh, a right-wing extremist who wasn’t connected to ISIS or al Qaeda and killed 168 people when he bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Gorka, however, suggested that the Oklahoma City was ancient history, and that McVeigh is not the sort of person we should be worried about in 2017.

“It’s this constant, ‘Oh, it’s the white man. It’s the white supremacists. That’s the problem.’ No, it isn’t, Maggie Haberman,” he said. “Go to Sinjar. Go to the Middle East, and tell me what the real problem is today. Go to Manchester.”

Gorka’s take was bad at the time — he overlooked data indicating that over a nearly 14 year span following the 9/11 attacks, a person in America was much more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim. But his comments looked even worse on Saturday, when an alleged Nazi sympathizer plowed his car into a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one.

Then, on Monday, news broke of another alleged right-wing plot. The Department of Justice announced that 23-year-old Jerry Varnell was arrested on Saturday “after he failed to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van he had parked in an alley” next to an Oklahoma City bank. Varnell was arrested after a months-long undercover FBI investigation.

The Washington Post, citing court documents, reports that Varnell was motivated by “an admiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy Mc­Veigh.”

“In one conversation he said he believed in the ‘Three Percenter’ ideology — a form of anti-government activism that pledges resistance against the United States government on the belief it has infringed on the Constitution, according to court papers,” the Post adds. “Those who subscribe to the ideology incorrectly believe that only 3 percent of the colonial population participated in the American Revolution, and they see themselves as their heirs.”

In a statement, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said “[i]t is chilling to think that a sympathizer of Timothy McVeigh would want to act on hate, as a tribute to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil before September 11.”

Contradicting Gorka, Lankford added that Varnell’s arrest “is another somber reminder that, as a nation, we must remain vigilant about home-grown extremism and radicalization in our communities.”

Gorka, meanwhile, has been unusually quiet over the course of the five very tumultuous days since he argued on “the platform for the alt-right” that white supremacists aren’t a problem.

Advertisements

Defamation case against Bill Cosby dismissed

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2017/02/16/defamation-case-against-bill-cosby-dismissed/98012988/

 

Bill Cosby won a legal battle against one of his accusers Thursday, an event so rare lately that he tweeted about his legal woes for the first time since December 2015.

A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against Cosby by accuser Katherine McKee, ruling that she had no legal basis to claim the comedian defamed her by defending himself against her accusations.

Cosby was so pleased he tweeted the dismissal order, his first in more than a year responding to developments in his ongoing legal battles, including the criminal charges he’s facing in suburban Philadelphia over a 13-year-old encounter.

Cosby has said virtually nothing in public since the rush of allegations against him began in the fall of 2014. His Twitter account shows his last post was a thank you to friends and fans, in December 2015. He started posting again in January of this year but only about civil rights history and heroes. Until Thursday.

McKee, one of some 60 women who have accused Cosby of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them in episodes dating back decades, came forward in late 2014 along with other women, claiming her friend of eight years had raped her in a hotel room in the 1970s.

When Cosby and his lawyers denied these and other accusations, some of the accusers sued him in civil court in several states for defamation, asserting that he and his team had suggested they were liars and extortionists by saying he didn’t do it.

“An accused person cannot be foreclosed … from considering the issuance of a simple and unequivocal denial — free from overall defamatory triggers or contextual themes. In the court’s view, such a situation would be inconsistent with basic First Amendment principles,” wrote U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni.

“It is paramount in a free society to be able to insist on one’s innocence in the face of serious public accusations, and today’s ruling reinforces that fundamental right,” said Cosby’s current lawyer, Angela  Agrusa, in an emailed statement to USA TODAY.

McKee’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment, according to the Associated Press.

This marks the third defamation lawsuit against Cosby that was either withdrawn or dismissed recently, prompting some Cosby crowing. However, another defamation case against him, filed by six accusers, is still pending in the same federal court in Massachusetts.

“Today’s ruling joins a growing list of dismissals of actions against Mr. Cosby,” the Agrusa statement said. “These decisions should also pave the way to the final dismissal of the remaining civil actions pending against Mr. Cosby,” including one brought by former model and reality TV personality Janice Dickinson in California.

But Cosby’s most serious legal problems are far from over. He has been fighting for more than a year state criminal charges of aggravated indecent sexual assault in connection with a 2004 encounter at his suburban Philadelphia home with a Temple University employee. She says he drugged her and molested her; he says it was consensual.

Since the charges were filed in December 2015, Cosby has been repeatedly thwarted in his efforts to get the case dismissed and to prevent some of the other women who have accused him from testifying against him at his trial, scheduled for this summer.

Currently, his lawyers are trying to get the case moved to a different venue due to pretrial publicity. Another pretrial motions hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27.

Woman claims her body brews alcohol, has DUI charge dismissed

Imagine being charged with a DUI when it’s been hours since you’ve had a drink, only to later discover that your body brews its own alcohol.

That’s what happened to an upstate New York woman when she blew a blood alcohol level more than four times the legal limit. Just before Christmas in Hamburg, New York, a judge dismissed the charges after being presented with evidence the woman suffers from “auto-brewery syndrome.”

“I had never heard of auto-brewery syndrome before this case,” attorney Joseph Marusak told CNN on the condition his client’s identity remain anonymous. “But I knew something was amiss when the hospital police took the woman to wanted to release her immediately because she wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms.”

“That prompts me to get on the Internet and see if there is any sort of explanation for a weird reading,” adds Marusak. “Up pops auto-brewery syndrome and away we go.”

“I’m in touch with about 30 people who believe they have this same syndrome, about 10 of them are diagnosed with it,” said Panola College Dean of Nursing Barbara Cordell, who has studied the syndrome for years. “They can function at alcohol levels such as 0.30 and 0.40 when the average person would be comatose or dying. Part of the mystery of this syndrome is how they can have these extremely high levels and still be walking around and talking.”

Extremely rare condition

Also known as gut-fermentation syndrome, this rare medical condition can occur when abnormal amounts of gastrointestinal yeast convert common food carbohydrates into ethanol. The process is believed to take place in the small bowel, and is vastly different from the normal gut fermentation in the large bowel that gives our bodies energy.

First described in 1912 as “germ carbohydrate fermentation,” it was studied in the 1930s and ’40s as a contributing factor to vitamin deficiencies and irritable bowel syndrome. Cases involving the yeast Candida albicans and Candida krusei have popped up in Japan, and in 2013 Cordell documented the case of a 61-year-old man who had frequent bouts of unexplained drunkenness for years before being diagnosed with an intestinal overabundance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or brewer’s yeast, the same yeast used to make beer.

Flat tire a blessing

It was a beautiful fall afternoon in 2014 when Marusak’s client met her husband at a restaurant for food and drinks. She consumed “four drinks between noon and 6 p.m.” says Marusak, “less than one drink an hour. We hired a local pharmacologist who said that a woman of her size and weight having four drinks in that period of time should be between 0.01 and 0.05 blood alcohol levels.” That would be beneath the legally impaired level of 0.08 BAC in New York state.

And here’s the “crazy thing,” says Marusak. “Her husband drives to meet friends and she is driving home. She gets a flat close to home but doesn’t want to change the tire so keeps on driving. Another driver sees her struggling with the car and calls it in as an accident. So if she hadn’t had that flat tire, she’d not know to this day that she has this condition.”

Because she blew a blood alcohol level of nearly 0.40, police procedure is to take the accused to a hospital, as that level is considered extremely life-threatening.

Instead of allowing his wife to be released as the hospital recommended based on her lack of drunken symptoms, the husband asked for tests to be run. Sure enough, Marusak says, the results showed a blood alcohol level of 0.30, hours and hours after her last drink. That prompted Marusak to do his own sleuthing.

“I hired two physician assistants and a person trained in Breathalyzers to watch her and take blood alcohol levels over a 12-hour period and had it run at the same lab used by the prosecution,” said Marusak. “Without any drinks, her blood level was double the legal limit at 9:15 a.m., triple the limit at 6 p.m. and more than four times the legal limit at 8:30 p.m., which correlates with the same time of day that the police pulled her over.”

Even more strange, says Marusak, is the fact that the woman exhibited no signs of the levels until she reached a blood alcohol level of between 0.30 and 0.40.

“That’s when she started to feel a bit wobbly on her feet.” Marusak explains that by pointing to the world of alcoholism, where the bodies of “functioning alcoholics” adapt to the high levels of booze in their blood.

Even though the Hamburg judge dismissed the case against his client, Marusak says it’s not over yet.

“I’ve heard the DA’s office says they plan to appeal. I’ll know more by the middle of January.”

Assistant Erie County District Attorney Christopher Belling confirmed a review of the judge’s decision is underway but declined to comment further.

In the meantime, Marusak’s client is treating her condition with anti-fungal medications and a yeast-free diet with absolutely no sugar, no alcohol and very low carbs. While that works for some, Cordell says, others relapse or find little relief.