April 19, 2009

U.S. journalist sentenced to 8 years in prison by Iranian court

An Iranian-American accused of spying for the U.S. was sentenced Saturday by an Iranian court to eight years in prison.

Roxana Saberi, 31, who had reported for the BBC and National Public Radio, faced espionage charges Monday when she appeared before Iran's Revolutionary Court.

Saberi's lawyer said he will appeal the verdict, the reported.

Saberi was arrested about three months ago and is being held in Tehran's Evin Prison.

She was charged with spying on Iran, disguised as a journalist, and passing information and documents to U.S. intelligence agencies, the Pioneer Press reported.

The deputy prosecutor for the Revolutionary Court had told Iran's media that Saberi confessed to the charges.

Saberi grew up in North Dakota and holds duel U.S. and Iranian citizenships.

Reza, Saberi's father, traveled to Iran to visit his daughter and follow the trial. He told the Agence France Presse news agency that Saberi said in court that her previous confessions were not true and that she had been tricked into believing she would be released if she cooperated.

It is likely that Saberi's conviction has political motives, especially considering recent negotiations between the U.S. and Iran.

Pioneer Press - -

April 12, 2009

US freight captain rescued

The five day standoff between Somali pirates who were holding a U.S. captain hostage and the Navy ended dramatically Easter Sunday when snipers killed the three pirates.

Freighter Capt. Richard Phillips, 53, was taken hostage by pirates who tried to hijack the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama on Wednesday. Phillips was held on a small lifeboat that was making its way to the dangerous Somalian coast.

President Barack Obama personally approved the rescue operation, which helped quell fears that the standoff could drag on for months, even though warships were at th scene.

Navy snipers killed the three pirates when one pointed an AK-47 at the back of Phillips, who was tied up and in danger of being killed, the Star Tribune reported.

The commander of the nearly USS Bainbridge ordered his men to shoot, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said.

Phillips' crew said that they were saved by his action to offer himself as a hostage, reported.

The crew waved an American flag and shot flares in celebration when their captain was rescued.

According to, Jamac Habeb, a self-proclaimed pirate told The Associated Press that this was a good lesson, and that the pirates will now kill foreign hostages if their country tries to attack.

April 5, 2009

Washington man shoots his children

A Washington man shot and killed his five children and himself after discovering his wife was leaving him for another man, authorities said Sunday.

The bodies James Harrison's children, ages 7 to 16, were found with multiple gunshot wounds Saturday in the family's mobile home, most of them in their beds, reported.

Harrison's body had been found earlier that day with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, in his idling car.

The night before, Harrison and his eldest daughter discovered his wife, Angela Harrison, at a convenience store with another man, said Ed Troyer, spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff.

His wife told Harrison that she was not coming home and was leaving him for the other man.

Authorities did not release the names, but the family's relatives identified the couple and their children.

Authorities suspect that after the children went to bed, Harrison shot them multiple times. Four of the children were found in their beds, while the fifth was found in the bathroom surrounded by evidence of a violent struggle.

Investigators believe that Harrison returned to the store looking for his wife. When he didn't find her, he soon realized what he had done, and shot himself.

March 29, 2009

8 dead after nursing home shooting

Eight people are dead after a lone gunman opened fire in a North Carolina nursing home Sunday morning.

Authorities said that Robert Stewart, 45, killed seven patients, one nurse and wounded three others at Pinelake Health and Rehab in Carthage.

One of the wounded was a police officer who confronted Stewart in a hallway and stopped the attack.

Officer Justin Garner, 25, was wounded in his leg while exchanging gunfire and wounding Stewart.

Garner has been treated and released, according to

Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger charged Stewart with eight counts of first-degree murder and a single charge of felony assault of a law enforcement officer Sunday afternoon reported.

Authorites have not commented on a motive, but Stewart's ex-wife said he had been reaching out lately to family members, telling them he had cancer and was preparing for a long trip.

Stewart was not a patient or an employee at the nursing home, according to authorities, and isn't believed to be related to any of the victims.

February 22, 2009

Federal judge to face sex crime charges

U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent will made history in judicial court for being the first federal judge to face trial on a sex crime charge.

He is accused of fondling two female court employees as he tried to force himself on the women and have them perform sex acts, the Minnesota Daily reports.

Kent pleaded innocent to two counts of abusive sexual contact and one count of attempted aggravated sexual abuse, said.

Kent faces up to life in prison and a fine up to $250,000 if convicted.

Kent has pleaded innocent to five charges related to federal sex crimes and to one alleging obstruction of justice, in which he is accused of lying to an investigative committee, the Daily said.

Dick DeGuerin, Kent's lawyer, said “Judge Kent believes his conduct with both of the (women) was mutual and consensual.”

DeGuerin said Kent and his secretary were involved in a longtime affair and that she is one of his “staunchest supporters.” DeGuerin said that Kent didn't mention the affair to the judicial council out of the concern a “gentleman” would have for keeping a secret.

Prosecutors have discounted that, saying: “Neither erectile dysfunction ... nor any other physical or mental conditions cited by the defendant prevented him from committing the charged offenses.”

February 15, 2009

Peanut Company files for bankruptcy

Peanut Corporation of America, the company at the center of the salmonella outbreak, filed for bankruptcy in court on Friday.

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy papers were filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of Virginia. The president of Peanut Corp., Stewart Parnell, signed the papers. reported that the company said its debt and assets both ranged between $1 million and $10 million in the filing.

Jean Holloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union and publisher of Consumer Reports, said that the bankruptcy will protect the company from liability suits filed by consumers who became sick or whose loved ones died as a result if eating PCA's products, reported.

The recent national salmonella outbreak was traced back to one of PCA's plants in Blakely, Ga. Inspectors found

More products were recalled this week after inspectors found roaches, dead rodents, rodent excrement, bird feathers, mold and a leaking roof were found at a Texas plant.

February 8, 2009

65,000 gallons of oil sludge spill into Chicago suburb

A broken holding tank spilled 65,000 gallons of oil sludge and contaminated a 3-mile area in a Chicago suburb, the Start Tribune reported Sunday.

The spill came from a Caterpillar facility in Rockdale, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Six-thousand gallons seeped into the Des Plaines River near Joliet while the rest spilled onto land, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer William Mitchell said.

Though the sludge poses no threat to humans, wildlife is in danger.

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency and local officials are working to contain the sludge, Mitchell said.

Floating barriers were put in place to keep the spill from spreading and trucks will be used to suck up the sludge once the spill is contained.

Caterpillar released a statement saying that “an undetermined amount of wastewater has overflowed from a storage area,? and that “Caterpillar has notified appropriate authorities about this overflow and the company immediately began corrective action when the overflow was discovered.?

February 1, 2009

Body Discovered Entombed in Ice in Abandoned Warehouse

A man's body was found frozen in a block of ice by kids playing hockey in and old warehouse in Detroit.

WXYZ Detroit Action News reported that a friend of one of the players called to tip off Detroit News reporter Charlie LeDuff after learning of the body 15 feet down an elevator shaft.

The kids who discovered the man were afraid to call police because they were trespassing.

LeDuff investigated the tip himself Tuesday evening, and upon finding the man's legs and feet sticking out of the ice called police. LeDuff was not able to get anyone to investigate he scene until Wednesday night.

After two hours, firefighters were able to release the body from the ice using ladders, saws and other tools.. Officers say the man was likely in the shaft for months. The basement was flooded and froze once winter hit, trapping the body in ice.

Even though the body is exhumed, police don't know the cause of death. Police say the man's death may have been accidental, but are still not ruling out homicide.

The building where the body was found was once owned by the Detroit Public School System and used to store textbooks and supplies. The building has been long abandoned.

Some controversy may be developing regarding the number of people, including the trespassing hockey players, several homeless people taking shelter in the building, a police officer and others, who where aware of the body and the time it took for authorities to respond.