Sunday, March 19, 2017

Suphan Cobra Escapes

Searching for Ocala's Cobra
by Robert A. Waters

My hometown of Ocala sits dead-center in the middle of Florida. It's a one-time small town hoping to go big-city. Some of us would like to build a wall around the city so we can vet the tens of thousands of people who move here each year. But local politicians, like national politicos, want to keep our borders open. They see green while some of us see smog-choked traffic jams and a depleted aquifer.

Ocala rarely makes national headlines. But on Monday, March 12, just ahead of the one cold snap this year, local and national media began reporting that a cobra was missing from an Ocala home. Not just any cobra, but a suphan cobra. Only two-feet long, with gold and brown camouflage (like the leaves in my yard), the suphan's poison is deadly.  CNN, Fox News, CBS and most other outlets breathlessly reported the event. 

Brian Purdy, the cobra's owner, called to report the snake MIA. Soon the neighborhood was swarming with police, EMTs, and wildlife officials.  WTVM reported that the snake “got loose while [Purdy] was at work and an apprentice was taking care of the reptile. He says the snake jumped at him when he lifted the cover of its cage, and then slithered away. After the owner and apprentice could not locate the snake, they called wildlife officials to help.”

Authorities, out of their element and wisely unwilling to put their own lives at risk, called in snake experts from around the state. Inside the house, they found a gaboon viper, an African bush viper and two large venomous lizards. Purdy has a license to own the reptiles. For a week now, experts have repeatedly searched the home and surrounding areas, but the suphan still has not been located.

Fortunately, suphan cobras are warm-blooded and unlikely to stray far because of the cool nights.  But officials state that they will strike if they're disturbed. The weather is beginning to warm up again, and authorities are afraid the snake will be on the move.

Neighbors are understandably jittery. Dogs and children are locked away as residents tip-toe from their homes to their cars.

The Washington Post reports that one expert described how it feels to be bitten by a cobra. “Snake bites are generally very painful and cobra bites really hurt,” he said. “It’s usually almost like a burning pain, which evolves into a deep aching pain that makes you crush your eyes. It’s real deep and real hard, right around the bite area, but the burning pain is right around the fang punctures.”  Another expert stated that a bite from a two-foot suphan cobra could kill an elephant.

But not to worry. Anti-venom expert Jeffery Fobb from Miami Dade Fire Rescue stated that protocols are in place in case someone is bitten. The good thing,” he said, “is we're located on an air field and there is an air field next to the nearest hospital to the incident in Ocala. So a fixed winged aircraft can fly the [anti-venom] up there. We already have it packaged and ready to go in case there is an emergency.”

For real? Why isn't the anti-venom already here? Miami is 300 miles from Ocala.

What happened to the snake?  Did it escape from the house and die in the cold weather?  Did one of the large poisonous lizards eat it?  Or is it hiding in some cubby hole waiting for the activity to clear?

Here's hoping the snake is found and no one gets hurt.

Then Ocala can settle back into its nice, cozy old-fashioned ways, and the media will disappear.  I, for one, can't wait.

(One other thing: that part about building a wall around the city is a joke so don't send me nasty emails about it.  The rest of the article is true.)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Review of Gosnell

Gosnell: The Untold Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer
Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer
Regnery Publishing, 2017

Review by Robert A. Waters

Enter the three-storied maze of rooms filled with ghosts. You'll find jars of baby feet; pyramids of trash bags containing fetal remains; skeletons of cats that died from thousands of attacking fleas; floors with walked-on feces; bloody walls; and urine-stained furniture. You'll enter room after room, chamber after chamber, and nook after nook flooded with the foul stench of death.

But most of all, you'll encounter the memories of children who lived a few moments, or a few hours, then were snipped into eternity. (“Snipping” was Dr. Kermit Gosnell's term for using scissors to cut the spinal cords of infants who survived his abortion attempts.) Another term he liked to use was “ensuring fetal demise.”

Gosnell tells a sordid story that most of us can't imagine.

In 2013, Gosnell was convicted on three counts of first degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. The involuntary manslaughter charge was brought when he killed Karnamaya Mongar, who came to him for an abortion. The procedure was badly botched, and she died a few hours later. Gosnell attempted to cover up the death (as he had at least two others), and was successful for a time due to the indifference of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and other social service systems. The three first degree murder charges were for babies born alive and murdered by Gosnell or his staff.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell littered his Philadelphia abortion clinic with cast-offs, employees barely living above the flatline, to coin a phrase. For instance, Lynda Williams was bipolar, a drug addict, and had only an eighth grade education, but she became Gosnell's “anesthesiologist.” Assistant district attorney Joanne Pescatore said Williams “was in charge of mixing the concoctions and giving the anesthesia to patients while the doctor wasn't there.” In reality, she rarely used Gosnell's cheat sheet that told her which drugs to use, but administered what she thought was necessary. None of his other employees were qualified for the positions they held.

This proved fatal to Mongar, an immigrant from Bhutan. Williams administered numerous doses of Demerol, anesthetics, and other drugs in an attempt to sedate the frail patient.

In addition to the Women's Medical Society abortion clinic, Gosnell ran a pill mill, selling prescription drugs to dealers. (This, in fact, was the reason for the initial criminal investigation of his clinic.) He and his staff illegally sold Xanax, OxyContin, promethazine, and Percolet to drug dealers.

When cops busted Gosnell for drug crimes, they learned that he had been killing live babies for thirty years. Because the statute of limitations for infanticide is only two years in Pennsylvania, and because he destroyed much of the evidence, Gosnell was charged with only seven murders.

As the case unfolded, Big Media attempted to ignore it. Several reporters later admitted that the crimes did not fit their “narrative.” Finally, a storm of emails, blogs from the right-wing press, and the writings of a few respected columnists persuaded the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, and others to give in and cover the case.

After his conviction, Gosnell was sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison. Eight members of his staff received lesser sentences, including his wife, Pearl, who sometimes helped at the clinic.

Despite the sensationalistic title of the book, this is not a hastily-written pot-boiler. The authors studied thousands of pages of court documents, including the damning grand jury report. They interviewed cops, attorneys, prosecutors, some of Gosnell's employees, and even Gosnell himself. The doctor has shown no hint of remorse, and insists that history will vindicate him.

Whether you're pro-abortion or anti-abortion, I highly recommend this book.