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New York attorney a brave devil’s advocate: Devine

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Lawyers haven’t exactly been flocking to defend Trump voters charged in the Capitol riot. It’s an unpopular cause, and likely to lead to an attorney being shunned by colleagues or worse, and the defendants for the most part can’t afford to pay legal fees. 

But Joseph McBride is one of the heroic few attorneys who has stood up in the name of equal justice for the most reviled people in the nation. As a former Manhattan public defender, it’s what he always has done. 

McBride’s client today is the most reviled of the reviled: Richard “Bigo” Barnett, 60, the window installer from Arkansas who put his feet up on a desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office and has come to symbolize the “insurrection” that wasn’t. 

“I made my bones at Manhattan Legal Aid and the Innocence Project,” says McBride. 

“None of my colleagues from those places have supported my representing Bigo in any way. This is because . . . they fear being canceled by their own group more than anything.” 

After Barnett spent almost four months in solitary confinement without trial in a DC jail, McBride managed to secure his pretrial release. He is back home now under house arrest in Gravette, Ark., and must do battle with an adversary with infinite resources and a vested interest in maintaining the fiction that the Capitol Hill riot was an insurrection. 

Not one of 510 people arrested over the Capitol riot has been charged with insurrection, says McBride. 

He spoke up in court about the inhumanity of jail conditions endured by his client and other January Sixers. He called it “torture,” and said they were “political prisoners.” 

“The guards want to hurt them, and . . . feel like they have a green light from the government to do whatever they like.” 

Barnett complained that he was bashed by guards. He blew the whistle on physical abuse of other inmates, including one beaten so badly he went blind in one eye and started to suffer seizures, an incident the FBI reportedly is investigating. Barnett said the man’s face looked like “chopped meat.” 

No one deserves that, no matter how heinous their crime. 

For McBride, 43, preventing such injustices has been his life’s work. It’s why he became an attorney. 

Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protest inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC.
Richard Barnett, a supporter of Donald Trump, sits inside the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protests inside the US Capitol.
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

He was raised in Brooklyn in the violent 1980s and ’90s. “I was lucky to have two good Catholic God-fearing parents . . . but everybody I grew up with with — except for a handful — is dead or in jail.” 

His Irish father was from Flatbush and worked at Con Edison, and his mom was Puerto Rican, from Spanish Harlem. They fostered about 20 children, “the most damaged ones,” and ended up adopting a mentally disabled 6-year-old boy who had been born addicted to heroin. 

McBride saw his vulnerable adopted brother railroaded by the justice system, threatened into pleading guilty and spending 10 years in jail for a crime McBride said he didn’t commit. 

“It changed my world. I dropped everything to become a lawyer . . . to try to get him out.” 

By the time he graduated, his brother had been released, a broken man. But McBride vowed to beat a rigged system, working for six years as a legal aid attorney in Manhattan, defending mainly black and Hispanic defendants. More than 98 percent of people charged with a felony in New York City at that time pleaded guilty, and never went to trial, because they knew they couldn’t win, a sure sign the system is rigged, he says. 

“I learned when defending people who weren’t able to afford representation that the rules of the game were changed to disadvantage them . . . They were threatened with jail sentences so large they could take a plea for five years or risk going to jail for 50. Defendants made an informed decision that ‘this isn’t going to work out for me.’ ” 

That’s what happened to his brother and it’s what he sees happening to the January Sixers. 

In Barnett’s case, prosecutors offered seven years in jail in exchange for a guilty plea, which Barnett rejected. 

The charges he faces include obstructing Congress, entering the Capitol while armed with a stun gun and stealing an envelope, which could see him jailed for more than 10 years if convicted. 

pSupporters of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protest inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021
The charges Richard Barnett faces include obstructing Congress, entering the Capitol while armed with a stun gun and stealing an envelope
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

On the charge of possessing a “deadly weapon,” McBride says the stun gun, which doubled as a flashlight and walking cane, was “disarmed” because there were no batteries in it. 

Barnett had been with friends in a DC bar the previous evening showing off the new gadget and had worn out the batteries, which he threw in the trash. He never replaced them before going into the Capitol, as evidenced, says McBride, by the fact that a white indicator light, which should be visible on the device if it is charged, was absent from every photo of his client taken that day. 

Barnett maintains he was pushed inside the Capitol in the second wave of protesters well after the initial violent breach. 

He went into Pelosi’s office through an open door looking for a bathroom because Mayor Muriel Bowser had ordered all Porta Potties removed from DC. 

An AFP photographer asked him to pose at the desk, which he stupidly did. A cut on his finger bled on an envelope, so he left a quarter to pay for it, and a rude note for Pelosi. 

No one condones Barnett’s actions that day. 

But he committed no violence and seven years in jail is disproportionate punishment in any language. 

The FBI circulated a notice labeling him a “Tier One” terrorist — the worst category. 

How then should we describe someone who kills thousands of people by flying a plane into a building or plants a bomb at the Boston Marathon? 

Last summer’s rioters were treated with kid gloves, although more than two dozen people were killed. 

The terrorism label is just used to dehumanize Barnett and his ilk and make it acceptable to shun them and everyone associated with them. 

“Before I took this case I counted the cost,” says McBride. “I knew it would be difficult and that I would make enemies. That is OK. I know deep in my soul that we are on the right side.” 

Bravo to a good man.

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New York

These fatty foods could be destroying your memory, say scientists

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Ready meals and fast food could be destroying your memory.

Scientists say highly processed foods, crisps, and deli meats containing preservatives were linked with abrupt memory loss in older brains.

Researchers warn the amygdala — the part of the brain which regulates fear — is also affected.

So a bad diet could mean some dangerous decisions.

But diets with extra omega-3 fatty acid DHA, found in fish such as salmon, could ward off problems. Rather than supplements, researchers advised improved diets.

Scientists at America’s Ohio State University Institute for Behavioural Medicine Research did tests on lab rats.

Dr. Ruth Barrientos called the results “alarming”, adding: “Consumption of a processed diet can produce significant and abrupt memory deficits.”

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Biden and Lightfoot know mask rules are idiotic — so why haven’t they changed?

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It happened again because of course it happened again. The latest example of COVID hypocrisy, if you have enough hard-drive space to keep track, is a viral video of President Biden traipsing through a ritzy DC eatery with no mask, in defiance of the city’s strict rules. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot was photographed at a basketball game, the only bare face in a sea of muzzled fans.

This kind of thing has been so common that it is hard to stay outraged, even though we should.

But there is another, deeper question at play here. Why won’t the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update its masking guidance as vaccinations increase, case numbers diminish and politicians, among pretty much everyone else, ignore it across the nation?

The CDC website says that “If you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection from the Delta variant, and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public, if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.” A handy map shows the location of these areas — it’s basically the entirety of the United States. This guidance is vague, and not followed by massive swaths of the nation.

Mask mandate hypocrite Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot attended a basketball game where everyone except her was wearing a mask.
Mask mandate hypocrite Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot attended a basketball game where everyone except her was wearing a mask.
Twitter

Why is it being ignored? Because much of its application is nonsensical on its face, so to speak. What possible health benefit is there for wearing a mask from door to the table then taking it off to eat and drink and talk all night? Every one of us knows that 10 seconds of following the hostess to your table is not a potential superspreader event. It’s such performative idiocy.

Meanwhile, CDC guidelines still say if you take a kid across state lines, say on vacation, you have to quarantine for 10 days. Is any parent in the country actually doing this? We should hope not, because it’s insane. Even Fauci the Merciful, who has relented and has now pronounced we can have holiday gatherings, isn’t mentioning this. Because he knows he would look like a fool.

President Joe Biden leaves Washington DC restaurant Fiola Mare without wearing a face mask.
President Joe Biden leaves Washington DC restaurant Fiola Mare without wearing a face mask.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden went to Fiola Mare on October 16, 2021 for a date night.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden went to Fiola Mare on October 16, 2021 for a date night.
REUTERS/Tom Brenner

So why do these absurd rules, that most people don’t follow anyway, and seem to be based on about as much science as Tarot cards, still exist at all? And more importantly, what metrics do we need to hit for them to go away? That’s one query the exultant and high experts will never answer. When it comes to imposing restrictions the science is strict, settled, and exact, when it comes to easing restrictions it’s all a rich tapestry of who really knows.

Enough. When mask mandates made their first appearance in the Spring of 2020 many feared we would wind up wearing them forever. Those people were mocked as alarmists. Well, it’s almost 2022, what gives? Everyone over 12 can get a vaccine that we are promised gives fantastic protection, and young kids continue to only very rarely have significant illness.

People can decide for themselves whether they want to keep wearing masks, if they are high risk or nervous. As for the rest of us, what are we waiting for? We have long passed common sense. We need some answers about how and when these rules will end. And we need them now.

David Marcus is the author of “Charade: The COVID Lies That Crushed A Nation.”

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Cops face questions after missing Alabama woman’s body found in police van

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A missing Alabama woman’s body has been found in an unoccupied police van — prompting questions about her death and how she could go undetected as authorities were searching for her.

Christina Nance, 29, was discovered dead in a prisoner transport van Oct. 7, five days after she was reported missing, Deputy Police Chief DeWayne McCarver said.

The vehicle was parked at a public safety complex in Huntsville.

“The officer noticed shoes next to the van and approached, discovering Ms. Nance’s body inside. Windows on the van were observed to be opened and on this type of van they popped outward,” McCarver said on Friday at a press conference, CNN reported.

No cause of death has been determined, but preliminary autopsy results didn’t indicate that there was any foul play or bodily trauma.

“The official cause of death will be ruled by the state medical examiner once additional studies, including toxicology, are complete,” police said.

Police released surveillance footage of a woman believed to be Nance wandering through the parking lot on Sept. 25, then appearing to enter the van.

But her family — who reported her missing on Oct. 2 — said they have their doubts about the footage.

“The video was not clear enough to indicate that that was our sister Christina Nance,” Nance’s sister Whitney Nance told news station WAFF.

Police vehicles.
Police released surveillance footage of a woman believed to be Christina Nance wandering through the parking lot on Sept. 25.
Huntsville Police Dept. Facebook

“It was just very heartbreaking to know that we didn’t get the clarification that we really needed, that we wanted.”

Police have said it’s protocol for the vans to be kept locked.

“It is an accountability issue on our part,” McCarver said. “That should not have happened. And now we have to look at that, and we have to make sure that we have things in place so that does not happen again.”

It’s unclear how Nance went undetected in the busy police parking lot.

“Cars go by, people walk nearby the van. We just wish that she would have hollered out to someone or something, because there were plenty of … what we see as potential opportunities for this to not be a tragedy. And unfortunately, no one was able to realize she was in that van and that was the outcome,” McCarver said.

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