TSA body-scanner guy says TSA is "strongly cautioning" reporters not to write about him

Jon Corbett, who posted a video explaining a vulnerability in TSA full-body scanners that might allow dangerous objects onto airplanes now reports that two different reporters have told him that they were contacted by a TSA spokesperson called Sari Koshetz who "strongly cautioned" them not to write about his video. Cory

Representative from Burzynski Clinic sends aggressive legal threats to skeptics who question "antineoplaston" cancer therapy

Houston's Burzynski Clinic is a cancer-treatment facility specializing in "antineoplaston therapy," a treatment involving urine developed 34 years ago by the clinic's founder, Stanislaw Burzynski. Mr Burzynski characterizes his treatments as "clinical trials." After 34 years' worth of these trials, I can find no record of randomized double-blind studies demonstrating this treatment's efficacy being published.

Many people are skeptical of "antineoplaston therapy," which has led to several skeptical posts about the clinic, and the ethics of offering an unproven treatment (which can cost £200,000, a fact that came to light when a UK family ran a fundraiser to get their child treated there) to families who fear for their loved ones' lives. An apparent representative of the clinic calling himself Marc Stephens has written to several of these skeptics threatening them with libel claims. In one case, he apparently sent a letter to the father of a newborn, threatening not just the critic, but his critic's family.

The people who've received missives from Mr Stephens can't locate any indications of his being admitted to the bar in Texas, though he implies that he is a lawyer ("So, when I present to the juror that my client and his cancer treatment has went up against 5 Grand Juries which involved the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Aetna Life Insurance, Emprise, Inc., Texas State Medical Board, and the United States Government, and was found not guilty in all 5 cases, you will wish you never wrote your article").

Whether or not Mr Stephens is a lawyer, his responses to several skeptics who questioned his "client"'s science are not, in my opinion, in keeping with good science or good public policy. The world of science has no room for angry threats when a claim is put forward. The scientific method demands that skepticism be rebutted with proof, not threats. On seeing this, I am led to the opinion that these threats are being offered because the proof isn't there.

I also stand with the scientists and skeptics who find themselves facing aggressive, hyperbolic legal threats for doing what we should all do: carefully research and debate matters relating to life-or-death health issues. No doctor should respond to critics in this way. No lawyer should address potential litigants this way. In my opinion, these are serious ethical breaches, and in my opinion, "antineoplaston therapy" is almost certainly without merit. I urge anyone considering spending their money at the Burzynski Clinic to carefully read the notes attributed to the clinic's representative and ask yourself why a clinic with a sound scientific footing would respond to critics with threats, not proof.

All articles and videos posted from your little network are being forwarded to local authorities, as well as local counsel. It is your responsibility to understand when you brake[sic] the law. I am only obligated to show you in court. I am giving you final warning to shut the article down. The days of no one pursuing you is over. Quackwatch, Ratbags, and the rest of you Skeptics days are numbered...

If you had no history of lying, and if you were not apart of a fraud network I would take the time to explain your article word for word, but you already know what defamation is. I've already recorded all of your articles from previous years as well as legal notice sent by other attorneys for different matters. As I mentioned, I am not playing games with you. You have a history of being stubborn which will play right into my hands. Be smart and considerate for your family and new child, and shut the article down..Immediately. FINAL WARNING.

From Ratbags: Although many citizens do not yet realize it, comments made to chat boards, newsgroups and even mailing lists are all forms of publication. Criticisms of companies or their goods can be a basis for libel charges if the poster misrepresents facts, or fails to qualify his or her post as opinion. [ed: this is incorrect. In the USA, the Communications Decency Act immunizes people from libel claims arising from message boards and similar]...

Ratman.....SIGN THE AGREEMENT. I've been asking you for WEEKS now. If you are so sure my client is a quack, fraud, and a criminal sign. I also reduced the legal language so you would not put your rat tale between your cowardly skinny legs, and hide behind your mouse by clicking on the X to close my email request.

My agreement is posted on your website you forgot?? Instead of signing a burzynski petition sign my agreement to disclose all Burzynski information to you, which by the way is already available to the public and you know it. That is why you are not signing. Skeptics are afraid of the truth, which is why you are a skeptic in the first place. A Skeptic is someone who habitually doubts accepted beliefs. Your network even had to create your own dictionary to hide from the true meaning..hilarious. The FDA, NCI all agreed my client and his treatment works, and is non-toxic. Sign the agreement and I will show you this in writing. Hint: Just look in court orders and you will find the answer.

From Anaximperator: View the MEDICAL RECORDS of the patients on the website. I am not politically correct..so you will not receive a sugar coated response from me. You are disrespectful and ignorant. DO THE RESEARCH. How about talking to the little kids that had brain cancer. How about looking at the news that followed them from initial diagnosis to being CANCER FREE.

I demand an apology from you on this matter. As well as reposting your answer after you do your research. The people you claim are DEAD are ALIVE and that is called DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. The patients of Dr. Burzynski are in the public eye as well as your comment about them, and you could be held liable for your “MEDICAL ADVISE”, and defamation of character. I recorded the screen with your comment as well as conducted research to, if necessary, file a legal suit if your comment is not corrected immediately. These people have families and you are causing great emotional distress to them by your uneducated comments and medical advise. Thank you. Marc Stephens

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind Mr Stephens that we have a long, honorable tradition of vigorously defending ourselves against legal threats and winning substantial costs from those who bring them.

Further, I would remind Mr Stephens of the principle that recipients of legal threats can and do ask courts to rule on those threats, and that it isn't uncommon for the court to award costs to recipients of threats in the event that the threats are found to be without merit.

Finally, I believe Mr Stephens should take note of the Streisand Effect.

Threats from The Burzynski Clinic (Thanks, Box!)

Benihana Kuwait sues blogger for $18,000 over bad review

Mark Makhoul, a Lebanese software developer and blogger in Kuwait, wrote an unflattering review of the newly opened Benihana restaurant in Kuwait. Quickly, his blog's comment section filled with clumsy astroturf posts, all sent from the same IP address, purportedly reports from satisfied diners who disagreed with his assessment.

Then it got weirder: the restaurant's manager, Mike Servo, posted a comment accusing the writer of shilling for his competitors, and threatened a lawsuit. A few hours later, he filed a lawsuit (English translation PDF) for KD5001 (about $18,000) against Makhoul, asserting that the review was "fabricated" to gain publicity.

And so, we order the payment of KD5001 as a compensation for the damages caused to the restaurant management and for encouraging large number of customers not to try the restaurant by insulting, doubting the quality and food served by Benihana and using expressions that disgust people from trying the food. The person has caused huge material damages to the restaurant, ethic damage to the restaurant's reputation as an international brand that has chains all over the world as well as hurt the restaurant's potential to expand in Kuwait by influencing all kinds of nationalities not to try a restaurant that offers a specific type of food that is subject to taste preference.
This morning, I spoke with Michael Kata, COO and Executive Vice President of Benihana of Tokyo, who license the Kuwaiti franchise. He hadn't seen the suit yet, and while he said he could not offer specific comment, he confirmed that a lawsuit over a bad review was "unprecedented" in the firm's history. He said that his company's franchise agreement did not give them the authority to order franchisees to sue or withdraw suit, but that they were empowered to terminate the agreement should the franchisee bring the brand into disrepute.

Kata was careful to hedge his words, saying that he hadn't reviewed the case and didn't know whether there was any merit to the (to my mind, obviously absurd) assertion that the claims were fabrications by a competitor. Let's hope he gets to the bottom of things quickly and gets this blogger off the hook before he has to spend too much money defending himself from a thin-skinned restauranteur.

Mike Servo did not return my call in time for this post. (Thanks, Usurp, via Submitterator)