- - Monday, May 16, 2011


Facebook settlement won’t be reconsidered

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court has refused to reconsider its decision ordering two former Harvard classmates of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to accept a multimillion-dollar settlement over the company.

Twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss sued Mr. Zuckerberg, saying he stole the idea for the social networking site. Both parties reached a settlement in 2008, but the Winklevosses claim they were misled during settlement talks.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the settlement, which calls for a $20 million cash payment and stock in the company now valued in the tens of billions.

On Monday, the court declined to assign the case to a special 11-judge panel for reconsideration.


Attorney: Imam will fight terror charges

MIAMI — An elderly Muslim cleric charged with supporting Pakistani terrorists will plead not guilty and should not be prejudged simply because of the seriousness of the case, his defense attorney said Monday.

“We only have the government’s side. He intends to challenge it,” said Khurrum Wahid, attorney for Hafiz Muhammad Sher Ali Khan, 76. “I’d ask the public to keep an open mind. I have no question that through this process we’re going to vindicate Mr. Khan.”

Mr. Khan, imam at the Miami Mosque, and his son, Izhar Khan, 24, appeared in federal court for the first time since their arrests on charges of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists.

They are among six people who allegedly worked to funnel at least $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban, which violently opposes Pakistan’s government and the U.S., prosecutors said.


Rural lack of access to surgery challenged

CHICAGO — A surprising study of nearly 46 million Medicare patients says older residents in rural areas are more likely to have any of nine common surgeries than people in cities.

Back surgery, hip and knee replacements, and prostate removal were among the operations performed more often in rural Medicare patients, the study found. Emergency surgeries and elective operations alike were more common among rural residents.

The results seem to challenge the idea that city dwellers have better access to medical care, but experts say the research raises more questions than it answers.

“When I first saw the result, I looked at it and said maybe I got it backwards,” said lead author Dr. Mark Francis, a researcher at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso. The study doesn’t indicate where rural residents had surgery. It’s likely many had to travel some distance, which would be risky when urgent surgery is needed.

The study didn’t report on how the patients fared after their operations. Nor did it say whether rural residents had worse health overall than city dwellers, although some previous research has suggested that is generally true.


Case over anonymity at school nixed

HONOLULU — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a dispute over whether to identify students challenging a private school system’s admissions policy that gives preference to those of Hawaiian ancestry.

The court on Monday left in place lower court rulings against four non-Hawaiian students who object to the Kamehameha Schools’ policy.

The challengers, who applied for admission to Kamehameha in the 2008-09 school year, wanted to file their lawsuit anonymously because of concerns about public humiliation and retaliation if they were identified. It wasn’t immediately clear Monday if their names would be released; an attorney for the students previously said they likely would drop the suit if they couldn’t remain anonymous.

The students contended in their lawsuit that the private school system’s preference for Native Hawaiians is at odds with federal civil rights laws. Only a few non-Hawaiians have ever been admitted to Kamehameha Schools.

The system teaches preschool through 12th grade and operates several campuses on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.


Sahara hotel-casino closes on Vegas Strip

LAS VEGAS — The venerable Sahara hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, where Elvis Presley stayed while filming “Viva Las Vegas” and the Beatles stayed when they performed in Sin City, dealt to its final gamblers and checked out its last guests Monday after six decades.

Visitors streamed through the casino before officials planned to shut the doors at 2 p.m., picking up souvenirs at a near-empty gift shop, playing $10 blackjack and visiting with dealers and bartenders one last time.

The Sahara is remembered as one of the Rat Pack’s favorite haunts and where an emphasis of lounge acts set standards for other joints that followed. Don Rickles, Johnny Carson and Louis Prima entertained here, and its first performance was from Ray Bolger, who played the scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz.”


Acting crime boss convicted of gangland hit

NEW YORK — A flashy New York City mobster has been convicted of federal charges he ordered a gangland hit in 2004.

A Brooklyn jury reached the verdict against former acting boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano on Monday, its fourth day of deliberations.

Basciano, 51, was serving a life sentence for an attempted murder conviction in 2007. This time, prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for the killing of a mob associate who ran afoul of the Bonanno organized crime family.

The trial featured testimony by former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, the highest-ranking member of a New York City Mafia family ever to testify against his own.


Home burns down during bedbugs treatment

CINCINNATI — A two-family home was destroyed when a heater being used to kill bedbugs set a carpet on fire, fire officials said.

The house was being treated Sunday by an exterminator who said he gets rid of the pests by raising a home’s temperature to 135 degrees using propane heaters. Residents are told to leave and remove anything flammable.

Cincinnati Fire District Chief Glenn Coleman said the carpet was ignited by one of six heaters inside the home. The fire went undetected until a neighbor saw smoke pouring from the house.

The exterminator, Richard Tyree, blamed an equipment malfunction for the fire and told the Cincinnati Enquirer he’s never had a problem before. He says his company has insurance.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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