- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2009


Movie studio settles in fake news case

FAIRBANKS | Universal Pictures has agreed to pay $20,000 to the Alaska Press Club to settle complaints about fake news archives used to promote the movie “The Fourth Kind,” the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The Anchorage lawyer who negotiated the settlement for the Fairbanks paper and six other media outlets, John McKay, said the fake online stories undermined the credibility of the news organizations.

Universal created a series of fabricated online news articles to publicize the movie about a purported plague of alien abductions in Nome a decade ago. The articles posted appeared to be from real Alaska publications.

The articles included a fake obituary and news story about the death of a character in the movie, Dr. William Tyler, that supposedly were from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The settlement also requires Universal to remove the fake news articles from the Internet.


Evangelist faces child-sex sentencing

LITTLE ROCK | Evangelist Tony Alamo controlled his followers from behind bars for years when he was in prison for tax evasion. Even as he awaited trial on child-sex charges over the past year, he had sufficient power to warn a young follower who questioned an order not to cross him.

Now, with Alamo set to spend the rest of his life in prison, the question becomes whether his 200-odd followers will again obey his demands after the charismatic, apocalyptic preacher is led out of court in handcuffs.

The aging preacher, 75, faces up to a 175-year sentence from U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes when he returns to a Texarkana, Ark., federal courtroom Friday. A jury convicted him in July of 10 counts of taking girls as young as 8 across state lines for sex. Each count also carries possible fines of $250,000.


FBI sees $1 billion in suspected scam

NORTH MIAMI BEACH | The suspected Ponzi scheme run by a high-profile South Florida lawyer is likely to exceed $1 billion and involved thousands of investors in the U.S. and abroad, a top FBI official said Thursday.

John Gillies, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami field office, said investigators want more investors with lawyer Scott Rothstein to come forward so they can better understand the full scope of the purported scam. Mr. Gillies said the probe is likely to take weeks before any criminal charges are filed.

Profits of 20 percent or more were commonly promised, but a civil forfeiture complaint contends that Mr. Rothstein was running a classic Ponzi scheme in which money from new investors was used to pay off older ones - and Mr. Rothstein kept most of it himself. Mr. Rothstein’s attorney had no immediate comment Thursday.

The FBI and Internal Revenue Service have already seized much of Mr. Rothstein’s empire, including yachts, luxury cars and bank accounts, and placed liens on about $18 million in South Florida real estate that could be forfeited if Mr. Rothstein is convicted of a crime.


Japanese subs from WWII found

HONOLULU | Two captured Japanese submarines scuttled by the U.S. Navy just after World War II have been discovered in the Pacific Ocean south of Pearl Harbor.

Officials announced Thursday that the subs were found in February in 3,000 feet of water by the pilots of two Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory submersibles.

Hans Van Tilburg, maritime heritage coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Sanctuaries in the Pacific Islands, said one of the subs was 400 feet long and carried planes as well as enough fuel to travel around the world. The second sub had a streamlined body, conning tower and retractable guns, making it look more like a Cold War-era submarine.


Attorney points finger at FBI

BOSTON | A Massachusetts man accused of plotting to kill Americans was portrayed by federal prosecutors Thursday as a jihadist who is too dangerous to be released on bail, but the man’s attorney said he was charged only after he refused to become an FBI informant against Muslims.

Tarek Mehanna, 27, of Sudbury, was arrested a year ago and charged with lying to the FBI. New, more serious charges were added last month, when Mr. Mehanna was accused of conspiring with two other men to shoot shoppers at U.S. malls, to kill two unnamed prominent U.S. politicians and to kill American soldiers in Iraq.

Authorities said he and the other men never came close to pulling off an attack, but did seek training at terrorist camps in the Middle East.


Mother of 7 accused of animal torture

SELDEN | A mother of seven is accused of running a house of horrors for pets at her suburban Long Island home, forcing her children to help torture them and burying at least 20 dogs in her backyard - animals neighbors now fear were beloved pets that mysteriously disappeared over the years.

Sharon McDonough pleaded not guilty last week to six counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty on suspicion of abusing five dogs and a cat found crammed into cages, covered in feces and urine, their coats matted with filth. A judge took away custody of the 43-year-old woman’s six young daughters.

Ms. McDonough’s neighbors began fearing their missing pets met a worse fate than the abused animals after her son led officials to a yard filled with the shallow graves of 20 dogs.

Douglas McDonough, 21, who turned in his mother to authorities Nov. 5, called the home “a concentration camp for the animals” in comments to reporters after the arrest.

“She would have the oldest kids hold down the dog while we duct-taped his mouth and she would hit him,” he said, adding that he and his sisters were all forced to take part.

On Tuesday, a judge removed the six girls - ages 18 months to 13 years - from the custody of Ms. McDonough, who is widowed.


Boy suspended for Bengals haircut

HAMILTON | A young Cincinnati Bengals fan has been penalized for clipping.

Dustin Reader got the NFL team’s stripes and “B” insignia cut into his hair as a tribute to the team’s good season.

When he showed up to school in the southwestern Ohio city of Hamilton on Monday, officials put the eighth-grader into in-school suspension. The school says its code of conduct prohibits extreme and distracting hairstyles.


Japan drops case against dad

NASHVILLE | Authorities have dropped the case against a Tennessee father arrested in Japan when he snatched his children from his ex-wife, the man’s spokesman said Thursday.

Christopher Savoie was arrested Sept. 30 in Fukuoka, Japan, as he tried to enter the U.S. Consulate with his 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. Ex-wife Noriko Savoie had violated a U.S. court custody decision by taking the children from Franklin, Tenn., to her native Japan a month earlier.

Mr. Savoie, who is back in the U.S., was told Japanese authorities are closing the case, said his spokesman, Wes Yoder.


Protection sought for flying squirrel

CHARLESTON | Environmental groups are suing the federal government to return a type of flying squirrel to the endangered species list.

The small nocturnal squirrel is found only in higher elevations of West Virginia and one county in Virginia. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed it from the list under the George W. Bush administration after a count found 1,200 of the animals. That was up from 10 animals spotted in 1985.

The groups say they filed the lawsuit because they claim the agency did not follow its own recovery plan for the species. They’re also concerned that the squirrels’ habitat is now in danger of development. The Department of Interior declined to comment on the litigation.

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