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Lawyer demands Fox apologize for Jan. 6 conspiracy theory

The lawyer for a one-time supporter of former President Donald Trump who has been caught up in a Jan. 6 conspiracy theory demanded Thursday that Fox News and host Tucker Carlson retract and apologize for repeated “falsehoods” about the man’s supposed intentions.

The action taken on behalf of Raymond Epps specifically mentions a voting machine company’s pending $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox, an indication that people caught up in political conspiracy theories are fighting back.

The lawyer, Michael Teter, said he gave Fox formal notice of potential litigation. Fox News had no immediate comment.

Epps, a former Marine from Arizona, traveled to Washington, D.C., for Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, rally and was caught there on video twice, once urging demonstrators to go to the Capitol.

He was never arrested, leading some to theorize that he was a government agent conducting a “false flag” operation to whip up trouble that would be blamed on Trump supporters. There has been no evidence to suggest that was true, and Epps told the congressional committee investigating the attack that he has never worked at or been an informant for a government agency.

Yet the theory, first posed on a fringe conservative website, spread to the more influential Fox News and to Congress and was even mentioned by Trump himself.

Epps told The New York Times last summer that he and his wife had to sell their business and home and leave for an undisclosed location because of threats.

“The crazies started coming out of the woodwork,” Epps testified to the congressional panel.

He has acknowledged being caught on video on Jan. 5, 2021, telling demonstrators to go to the Capitol the next day. He said he was trying to defuse a tense situation and meant that the demonstration should be peaceful. He testified that it was “something stupid” that he said and he regretted it.

Epps also was caught on video at the Capitol on Jan. 6, but said he did not enter the building. He has been mentioned on Carlson’s prime-time Fox News Channel show five times in 2023 alone, according to a search of transcripts found in Nexis.

On March 6, Carlson said: “What was Epps doing there? We can’t say, but we do know that he lied to investigators.”

Last July 13, on the day the Times story about Epps and his wife going into hiding was published, Carlson said he was “on camera repeatedly telling people to storm the Capitol. A lot of people who did that are still in jail, but Epps is not. But it’s a conspiracy theory?”

In his letter to Fox on Thursday, Teter demanded “that Mr. Carlson and Fox News retract the claim that Mr. Epps was working for the FBI or any other government entity when he attended the Jan. 6 events and the claim that Mr. Epps acted as an instigator or provocateur of the incident.”

He called on Carlson and Fox to issue a formal on-air apology “for the lies.”

Teter said revelations that have emerged through court papers in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit may explain why Fox acted the way it has with his client.

Dominion has said Fox knowingly and maliciously spread lies that it was involved in voting irregularities that hurt Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Documents have revealed the suspicion that many at Fox had about those theories, but also internal concern about how the network might be losing pro-Trump viewers who believed the false claims that the election was stolen.

Fox has said that it was doing its job in reporting on newsworthy claims made by the then-president and his allies.

In Epps’ case, Teter wrote that “fear of losing viewers by telling them the truth is not a defense to defamation and false light, nor will it absolve you of liability related to claims for infliction of emotional distress.”

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Florida

Erdogan unveils Turkey’s first astronaut on election trail

Turkey’s first astronaut will travel to the International Space Station by the end of the year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday after an illness forced him to cancel several days of appearances.

Air force pilot Alper Gezeravci, 43, was selected to be the first Turkish citizen in space. His backup is Tuva Cihangir Atasever, 30, an aviation systems engineer at Turkish defense contractor Roketsan.

Erdogan made the announcement at the Teknofest aviation and space fair in Istanbul, the president’s first public appearance since falling ill during a TV interview on Tuesday. He appeared alongside Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, and Libya’s interim prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh.

“Our friend, who will go on Turkey’s first manned space mission, will stay on the International Space Station for 14 days,” Erdogan said. “Our astronaut will perform 13 different experiments prepared by our country’s esteemed universities and research institutions during this mission.”

Erdogan described Gezeravci as a “heroic Turkish pilot who has achieved significant success in our Air Force Command.”

The Turkish Space Agency website describes Gezeravci as a 21-year air force veteran and F-16 pilot who attended the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.

Wearing a red flight jacket, Erdogan appeared in robust health as he addressed crowds at the festival. Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 14, and opinion polls show Erdogan in potentially his toughest race since he came to power two decades ago.

Turkey is dealing with a prolonged economic downturn, and the government received criticism after a February earthquake killed more than 50,000 in the country. Experts blamed the high death toll in part on shoddy construction and law enforcement of building codes.

While campaigning for reelection, Erdogan has unveiled a number of prestigious projects, such as Turkey’s first nuclear power plant and the delivery of natural gas from Black Sea reserves.

 

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Florida

Israelis rally for 17th week against judicial overhaul plans

Tens of thousands of Israelis protested judicial overhaul proposals Saturday in the 17th weekly rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

The demonstrations have been ongoing since the beginning of the year, and organizers plan to continue, despite Netanyahu delaying the changes last month. The leaders of the mass protests want the proposals scrapped altogether.

“We are just getting started,” read a banner that demonstrators held at the main protest in Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic hub. Smaller demonstrations were reported in several parts of the country.

Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez voiced support to the Israeli antigovernment protesters in a video message aired on a large screen in Tel Aviv.

We as Socialist International have always fought for freedom, equality, justice, and democracy. Yet, as many of you know, these are values that we cannot take for granted,” Sanchez said.

Protesters argue the proposed changes threaten Israel’s democratic values, hurting a system of checks and balances and concentrating authority in the hands of Netanyahu and his extremist allies.

They also say that the prime minister has a conflict of interest in trying to reshape the nation’s legal system at a time when he is on trial.

Such changes would result in weakening the Supreme Court, giving parliament, which is controlled by Netanyahu’s allies, authority to overturn its rulings and limiting its ability to review laws.

The protest gained support from the military’s elite reserve force, businesses, and large sectors of the Israeli community. But on Thursday, tens of thousands of right-wing Israelis who support the legal

 

 

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Florida

‘Total nightmare:’ As Florida insurance companies go insolvent, homeowners pay the price

Seminole county couple has three-year open claim because of insolvent insurer.

What happens when your property insurer goes out of business?

It is happening quite a bit in Florida and is leading to all policyholders paying more.

The Florida Insurance Guaranty is adding a 1% assessment to policyholders starting in October to cover claims for insolvent companies.

A Seminole County couple has lived without a fully functioning kitchen for three years because their insurer went out of business.

Sandra Braga Alfonso said what started as a leak under her sink has turned into a three-year nightmare.

She said there was already a fight with her insurer to pay out the claim, but then the company went under and it got worse.

Alfonso has a fridge and an oven but is missing lower cabinets, a stove, her normal sink, and a dishwasher.

“It has been a total nightmare,” Alfonso said.

It started in December of 2019 with a leak under her sink, she said.

She eventually discovered water in all her lower cabinets and in the sheetrock behind the cabinets, she said.

“The insurance company gave us approval to rip everything out that was damaged and now they don’t want to pay to put it back in,” Alfonso said.

The insurance company cut a check for $4,800, she said.

Of that $4,300 went to water mitigation to prevent mold. That left about $500, not nearly enough to replace her kitchen, she said.

“We’ve tried to settle, go to mediation, everything,” she said.

Finally, Alfonso and her husband filed a lawsuit against her insurer, but after two years of hearings and motions and waiting for a court date, her insurer went out of business.

She was with Capitol Insurance, but according to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Capitol was merged into Southern Fidelity, which is now one of 14 companies in liquidation.

“I’m over it. I just want my kitchen. I just want to be able to live again. I love to cook, and I can’t,” Alfonso said.

In the last year, Florida lawmakers have had three special legislative sessions to deal with Florida’s property insurance crises.

News 6 asked Alfonso if she thinks anything is being done in Tallahassee to help consumers with their insurance issues.

“No, it’s all for the insurance company,” she said.

One of the biggest moves made in Tallahassee over the last year is the legislature doing away with what is referred to as “one-way attorney’s fees.”

That means if you sued your insurer over a claim and won, the insurance company had to pay your attorney’s fees. Without it, Alfonso said she would never have been able to sue her insurer even though in her case, it didn’t do any good.

No. My husband’s retired. He’s on disability and he’s retired we’re on a fixed income,” Alfonso said.

Alfonso has now turned to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, which handles the claims of insolvent property and casualty insurance companies.

They are still negotiating the amount it will take to fix her kitchen — more than three years later.

“I owned my first home when I was 20-something years old,” Alfonso said. “I’ve been paying my insurance premiums since I’m like 25, never filed a claim and look where I am now,” Alfonso said.

 

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