- - Monday, June 14, 2010


Flash-flood warnings went out 4 times

LANGLEY | Before a wall of water swept through a narrow gorge in the Ouachita Mountains, worried forecasters sent warnings four times in a single hour to advise of the potential for flash flooding.

But those warnings, issued in the middle of the night, never reached vacationing families in a remote campground in the floodwaters’ path. The camp had no ranger on location, no cell-phone service and no sirens, and deputies at the nearest sheriff’s departments were at least an hour’s drive away.

By the time authorities could have reached the campsites, the Little Missouri River would have already risen by 14 feet and started to cut off low-water crossings.

As searchers on Monday recovered the body of a 20th person killed in the raging torrent, attention shifted to preventing similar disasters in the future.

Federal and state officials planned to conduct a review to determine what factors contributed to the disaster.


Teen sailor’s mom: No reality-TV plan

LOS ANGELES | The family of a 16-year-old California girl rescued from the Indian Ocean as she tried to sail solo around the world abandoned plans for a reality show before the girl set sail and has no interest in revisiting them now, Abby Sunderland’s mother told the Associated Press on Monday.

Marianne Sunderland also said the family has no interest in cashing in on her daughter’s rescue with a documentary or other deal.

“There is no reality-TV show, there’s no documentary that’s going to be made, there’s no book deal,” Mrs. Sunderland said.

The New York Post reported Monday that Abby Sunderland’s father, Laurence, said he signed a contract for a reality show weeks after his daughter set sail from Southern California in January.

Mrs. Sunderland said that report and others were based on misinformation and misunderstandings.


Starbucks: Free Wi-Fi at 6,700 U.S. sites

CHICAGO | Starbucks Corp. will begin offering unlimited free wireless Internet access at all company-operated U.S. locations starting July 1, part of an ongoing effort to bring more customers in the door.

The Wi-Fi access, which eventually will include a new network of news and entertainment content exclusively for customers, comes as Starbucks works to take business back from rivals including McDonald’s Corp. and independent cafes that have long offered free Internet.

The cafe chain, which earlier this year recorded its first quarterly increase in customers in 13 quarters, previously offered two free hours of Web access each day to registered customers.

On average, laptop users spend about an hour using the wireless Internet in Starbucks stores while mobile phone users who can use Wi-Fi spend about 15 minutes on the network.


Temple-plot trial delayed over evidence

WHITE PLAINS | The federal trial of four men accused of plotting to blow up New York synagogues and shoot a missile at military planes was delayed Monday — probably for months — at the request of prosecutors after they were dealt a setback on evidence.

An angry Judge Colleen McMahon said she would consider a defense request to dismiss the case on grounds of government misconduct. She also set bail hearings next Monday for the defendants, who have been imprisoned more than a year.

James Cromitie, 44; Onta Williams, 32; David Williams, 28; and Laguerre Payen, 27, are accused of placing what they thought were bombs outside two Bronx synagogues last year. They also are accused of planning to use what they thought was a live Stinger missile against planes at an Air National Guard base near Newburgh.

They have pleaded not guilty and claim they were entrapped by a federal informant who proposed and directed the plot and then supplied the fake bombs and false missile.

The judge ruled last week that a document in which a federal agent dismisses the likelihood that anything bad would happen at the base had to be turned over to the defense.

Prosecutor David Raskin asked Judge McMahon to reconsider, but she announced Monday that she would not. Mr. Raskin then said that if that document had to be turned over, there could be many more, some of them classified, that also would have to be given to the defense.


Letters with powder sent to federal offices

SEATTLE | FBI officials say envelopes with white powder have been found in eight federal buildings in seven different cities across Washington, Idaho and Utah. No illnesses were reported.

Special Agent Frederick Gutt said the letters were found at a federal building in Seattle, Internal Revenue Service offices in Bellevue, Wash.; and an FBI office in Spokane, Wash.

In Idaho, FBI spokeswoman Debbie Dujanovic Bertram said envelopes with powder were found in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and an FBI office in Coeur d’Alene, an FBI office in Pocatello and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boise.

Miss Bertram said the FBI office in Salt Lake City also received a letter with a substance.

Mr. Gutt said the FBI has collected the substances for testing. Miss Bertram said field tests in Idaho indicated the substances weren’t hazardous.


Comic-book titans battle over ‘Spawn’

MADISON | An epic battle between comic book titans will be continued as a judge struggles to decide whether artist Todd McFarlane owes author Neil Gaiman for three characters in the classic Spawn series about a murdered CIA agent who becomes a demon.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb heard Monday from Mr. Gaiman, Mr. McFarlane and comic book author Brian Holguin, but did not rule on Mr. Gaiman’s claim that he is owed royalties from three characters — the demon Dark Ages Spawn and two scantily clad female angels. The judge gave both sides until June 25 to submit additional arguments.

Mr. Gaiman testified Monday that he believes Dark Ages Spawn was essentially a copy of Medieval Spawn, a character he created in the ninth issue of the Spawn series in 1993. He also said the angels known as Domina and Tiffany were copies of the red-haired Angela, a character who also debuted in Spawn No. 9.

A jury found in 2002 that Mr. Gaiman was due money for being a co-copyright holder for Medieval Spawn and Angela, as well for as a character named Cogliostro, a one-time Spawn ally.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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