Friday, March 16, 2012

Published:

College student guilty in webcam suicide case; 'Hopefully parents will use this as an example'

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- A former Rutgers University student convicted Friday in the webcam spying episode that ended in his gay roommate's suicide could be headed off to prison in a case experts say stands as a tragic lesson for young people about casual cruelties and unintended consequences in the Internet age.

A jury found Dharun Ravi guilty of all 15 counts against him, deciding that Ravi not only invaded the privacy of Tyler Clementi and another man but also committed bias intimidation -- a hate crime -- by targeting Clementi because he was gay.

Ravi, 20, could get up to 10 years in prison by some estimates and could be deported to his native India even though he has lived legally in the U.S. since he was a little boy.

The case stirred a national conversation about anti-gay bullying and teen suicide. It also illustrated the dangers of technology in the hands of people who have grown up with the likes of Twitter and Facebook.

"They don't feel like they're spying. It's just their own iPhone they're using, their own laptop," said Annemarie McAvoy, an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School in New York. "Hopefully, parents will use this as an example for their children."

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Clashes outside Syrian capital as rebels ignite new front

BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian rebels ignited a new front Friday outside the capital, Damascus, in the first significant fighting there since regime forces swept over the suburbs weeks ago. The clashes highlight the shifting nature of Syria's conflict, with rebels lying in wait to rise up when the regime turns its guns elsewhere.

The return of violence to the Damascus suburbs raises questions about how long troops can control areas before they re-erupt. Though government forces have shown they can crushed armed fighters, the regime has appeared unable to conduct major offensives in more than one place at once.

That points to the likelihood that a conflict that is now a year old and is estimated to have killed more than 8,000 could grind on as it slides closer to a civil war.

Diplomatic efforts have so far brought no result, but U.N. envoy Kofi Annan told the Security Council in a briefing Friday that he was determined to continue his mission and would return to Damascus. Talks last week between Annan and Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus saw no progress in attempts to cobble together peace talks between the two sides.

After the confidential briefing via videolink, Annan told reporters in Geneva that he urged the council "to speak with one voice as we try to resolve the crisis in Syria." Russia and China have blocked council action against Assad's regime.

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Spotlight on Illinois: Republicans Romney and Santorum -- and Democrat Obama -- trade new gibes

CHICAGO (AP) -- After two Deep South losses, Mitt Romney is intensifying his campaign efforts in the economically challenged Midwest -- a friendly region for him -- in hopes of regaining his front-runner's momentum when Illinois holds its Republican presidential primary Tuesday.

But the race for Illinois and its cache of 54 delegates is tighter than might have been expected, thanks to Rick Santorum's recent rise in opinion polls. And President Barack Obama, the Democrat they both hope to oust, is making his presence felt, too, in his adopted home state.

Romney is clearly mindful of the threat from Santorum. He and his allies are pouring money into the state, near Michigan where he grew up and his father was governor. Romney won the Michigan primary on Feb. 28.

Logistically, he's also looking to take advantage of Santorum's failure to get the signatures needed to ensure he's on the ballot statewide in Illinois.

And Romney's on the attack.

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US March weather: 80 degrees and twisters in Michigan and 250,000 tons of snow in Anchorage

WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's weather is stuck on extreme.

Nearly 11 feet of snow has fallen on Anchorage, Alaska, this winter. That's almost a record, and it's forcing the city to haul away at least 250,000 tons of snow. Yet not much snow has dropped on the Lower 48 this year.

The first three months of 2012 have seen twice the normal number of tornadoes. And 36 states set daily high temperature records Thursday. So far this month, the U.S. has set 1,757 daily high temperature records. That's similar to the number during last summer's heat wave, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Six rare, but not unprecedented, March tornadoes struck Thursday in Michigan, which also set 26 heat records. Temperatures were in the 80s in some parts of the state.

Nationwide, there have been 132 tornadoes confirmed in January and February, with preliminary reports of more than 150 already in March.

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US official: Afghan shooting suspect headed back to US; lawyer says war had impact on client

SEATTLE (AP) -- The soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers was on his way to a U.S. military prison, a senior defense official said Friday, as the soldier's attorney spoke of the impact the fighting had on his client.

The defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of security surrounding the move, said the soldier was en route to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the military's only maximum-security prison.

The Kuwaiti military said in a statement carried on the state news Friday that the soldier had left Kuwait. He had been moved there from Afghanistan on Wednesday because, officials said, there was no appropriate detention facility to hold him in Afghanistan.

The U.S. defense official said the suspect's move does not necessarily mean a decision was imminent on announcing formal criminal charges.

The soldier's attorney, Seattle attorney John Henry Browne, told The Associated Press on Friday that he and the judge advocate general had to cancel a 6 a.m. PDT video conference with the soldier because the suspect was either preparing to fly or was en route.

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Radio's 'This American Life' retracts story about Apple workers in China, cites 'fabrications'

CHICAGO (AP) -- The public radio program "This American Life" is retracting a story broadcast in January about Apple's operations in China, citing "numerous fabrications."

The program says in a statement that Friday's broadcast will detail inconsistencies in the episode that originally aired Jan. 6 and is the program's most popular podcast.

The initial program was an excerpt from a one-man theatrical show by writer Mike Daisey. In it, he describes meeting poisoned and mangled workers at Apple's factories in China.

"This American Life" now says Daisey fabricated the workers and interactions with them.

The discrepancies were uncovered by a correspondent in China for another public radio show, "Marketplace."

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Experts: Afghanistan shooting suspect may have post-traumatic stress; had head, foot injuries

They are questions already being debated: Did the soldier suspected of killing Afghan villagers have post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD? And did the people who sent him back to war after he was injured properly determine he was mentally fit to return?

It's way too soon to psychologically dissect the state of mind of the 38-year-old longtime soldier accused in the killings, who has yet to be identified. However, several mental health experts said PTSD is a reasonable thing to consider.

The soldier's lawyer said his client had seen a fellow soldier's leg blown off a day before the killings last weekend, and had suffered a head injury and lost part of a foot during three earlier deployments to Iraq. The soldier left for Afghanistan in December.

"This kind of a person would fit the profile for someone who might well have PTSD," said Dr. Roger Pitman, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist who heads the PTSD Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He has no knowledge of the case and spoke hypothetically, but said that if the soldier had recently witnessed a major injury to a comrade, it could have been an important trigger.

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Is 'pink slime' in your burger? You may not know until it's in your mouth -- or ever

All this angst over "pink slime" has made one thing clear: We don't always know what we're getting when we bite into a big juicy burger.

Which leaves unanswered some of the most basic questions in the debate over what the meat industry calls lean finely textured beef, a processed meat filler that experts say has found its way into much of the ground beef consumed in the United States.

But as a professional eater, I needed to know two things: What does this stuff do to the taste and texture of ground beef? And how can consumers know when they're eating it?

Neither answer came easily, the former because of the sheer volume of beef I needed to eat, the latter because of the rather opaque way ground beef is made.

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Clooney, others arrested in protest at Sudanese Embassy over claims of humanitarian crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) -- George Clooney and his father were arrested Friday during a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy, and the actor said he has asked President Barack Obama to engage China on stopping a humanitarian crisis in northern Africa.

The protesters accuse Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of provoking a humanitarian crisis and blocking food and aid from entering the Nuba Mountains in the county's border region with South Sudan.

Clooney, his father, Nick Clooney, and others were arrested after being warned three times not to cross a police line outside the embassy. Those taken into custody included NAACP President Ben Jealous, Martin Luther King III, and actor and comedian Dick Gregory.

Several members of Congress also were arrested, including Massachusetts Reps. James McGovern and John Olver, Texas Rep. Al Green and Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia. They were handcuffed and placed into a U.S. Secret Service van.

Clooney was released several hours later after paying a $100 fine.

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Peyton Manning works out for Broncos; 49ers in the chase as Dolphins drop out

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Peyton Manning won't be a Dolphin or a Cardinal. But he could still join the Titans, the Broncos or even -- get ready for this -- the 49ers.

The race to sign the NFL's only four-time MVP and the most prized free agent of the offseason heated up Friday as Denver Broncos executive John Elway and coach John Fox watched the star quarterback throw at Duke and San Francisco was revealed as a stealth suitor.

A person familiar with the situation said that Manning worked out for 49ers' coach Jim Harbaugh on Tuesday night at Duke. ESPN first reported on the session.

Manning also threw the ball at Duke's athletic fields Friday afternoon for the Broncos. He was seen leaving the Blue Devils' indoor practice facility wearing blue shorts, a gray t-shirt and no helmet heading to the outdoor practice field followed by Elway and Fox.

Manning came off the field about 4 p.m., and the Broncos contingent left about the same time.