Sam's Top 5 Things to Know for Friday

posted by Justice & Drew -

1. 1 Times Square pedestrian killed, others hurt after car jumps curb

Fox News: One woman was killed and 22 other pedestrians were struck when a speeding car plowed into a crowd in New York's Times Square on Thursday afternoon.

The suspected driver, Richard Rojas, was taken into custody in the incident, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a news conference. The 26-year-old Bronx man had two prior arrests for driving while intoxicated, in 2008 and 2015, and he was being tested for alcohol consumption on Thursday. Rojas is a U.S. citizen who previously served in the Navy, authorities said.

There's no indication the crash was related to terrorism, de Blasio said; however, the White House and FBI were made aware of the incident.

Of those who were hit, an 18-year-old woman was killed and her 13-year-old sister injured. Four of the 22 injuries were considered critical, officials said, though all were expected to survive. Three other people were in serious condition.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene as the car careened the wrong way down three blocks, mowing down pedestrians. 

2. A U.S. airstrike in Syria yesterday targeted pro-regime forces who were threatening a coalition base where advisers train anti-Islamic State fighters

KARE11: The forces came within a 34-mile defensive zone around the al-Tanf base in southern Syria, according to the official who was briefed on the action but not authorized to discuss the incident publicly.

U.S. military officials have not yet determined if Syrian army forces were targeted in the strike or if they were militias aligned with the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The airstrike targeted a tank and two earth movers that were building fighting positions within the defensive zone, the official said. The official did not provide an estimate of casualties.

The U.S.-led coalition attempted to use a hotline they have established with the Russians to warn the Syrian government to remove the forces from near the coalition base. The Russians relayed the message to the Syrian government, but the forces did not withdraw, the official said.

 3. Trump, Dogged by Questions at Home, Makes First Trip Abroad

KSTP: President Donald Trump's maiden international trip, a five-stop marathon across the Middle East and Europe, has long loomed as a crucial first test abroad for the chaos-courting president.

That was before he fired his FBI director — and the chain reaction of scandal that followed.

Now, with the eyes of the world upon him, the president will embark on his big trip carrying the baggage of dire troubles at home. As he tries to calm allies worried about his "America First" message, he'll be followed by fallout from his firing of FBI Director James Comey and the appointment of a special counsel to probe the president's campaign ties with Russia.

"There has never been a president taking his first international trip being dogged by scandal like this," said Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "He's already a president viewed skeptically by much of the world. And while the pictures from the trip may be great, the White House can't change the headlines that will follow him wherever he goes."

Trump's trip was always going to be dramatic. U.S. allies have been rattled by his warnings about pulling back from the world. He is tasked with urging a united front against terror by appealing to some of the same corners of the Muslim world he has tried to keep out of the United States with his travel ban. Last week, he added new layers of complication by disclosing classified intelligence to a longtime adversary.

4. Alex Jones Admits Defeat in Battle Against Yogurt Empire

AP: Alex Jones has learned the hard way that you can’t go up against Big Yogurt and emerge unscathed. A few weeks after losing a custody battle with his ex-wife, the conspiracy theorist settled a defamation lawsuit brought against him by Chobani.

In mid-April, Jones’s site, Infowars, posted a video connecting Chobani’s practice of hiring refugees to work at a Twin Falls, Idaho, plant with a recent (completely unrelated) reported sexual-assault case in the area. Chobani says that Jones did not respond to requests to take the video down, hence their suit seeking $10,000 in damages, along with a retraction.

Per the Los Angles Times, Jones settled and released the following statement of apology on Wednesday:

During the week of April 10, 2017, certain statements were made on the Infowars, Twitter feed and YouTube channel regarding Chobani LLC that I now understand to be wrong. The tweets and video have now been retracted, and will not be re-posted. On behalf of Infowars, I regret that we mischaracterized Chobani, its employees and the people of Twin Falls, Idaho, the way we did.

Not included in his statement was an admission that he actually prefers the sugary yogurts with the candy in the lid.

5.  Mom paralyzed after eating gas station nacho cheese

Newser: Lavinia Kelly went from being a busy, happy mother of three to a partially paralyzed hospital patient after putting nacho cheese on her Doritos at a gas station, family members say.

The Sacramento resident, who turned 33 on Wednesday, is one of at least five confirmed cases of botulism involving people who had eaten at Valley Oak Food and Fuel in Walnut Grove, with another four probable or suspected cases, the Sacramento Bee reports.

All nine are still being treated at area hospitals. According to a lawsuit filed this week, Kelly, who became ill within hours of eating the cheese on April 21, remains in the hospital in intensive care, unable to speak or even open her eyes on her own, Food Safety News reports.

Relatives say Kelly's symptoms started with fatigue and progressed to double vision, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. "We just don’t understand why this happened over a bag of chips and nacho cheese," partner Ricky Torres tells the Bee.

"Really? How does that happen?” Bruce Clark, an attorney specializing in food safety cases, is handling the family's negligence lawsuit. He says "only human mistakes create the environment for botulinum toxin to form," and those mistakes are thankfully rare: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent botulism report, only 15 of the 161 US botulism cases in 2014 were food-borne.

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