U.S Airstrike Kills Chinook Attackers

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 10 (UPI) — A U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan killed the insurgents thought to be responsible for an attack on a helicopter that killed 38 people, officials said Wednesday.

Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen said the military in Afghanistan tracked the insurgents after they shot down the NATO Chinook helicopter during the weekend, The New York Times reported.

NATO officials said Taliban leader Mullah Mohibullah, along with the insurgent who fired the shot on the helicopter, were killed in the precision airstrike Monday, CNN reported. Several other Taliban associates also were killed, the military said.

In the Saturday strike against the Chinook, Taliban insurgents attacked the helicopter, likely with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, the Pentagon said. The casualty list included 22 Navy SEALs, three Air Force special operations personnel, a five-person Army helicopter crew, seven Afghan commandos and a civilian Afghan translator.

It was the largest loss of American life in a single day in the nearly decade-old war.

In a video-conference briefing from Kabul Wednesday, Allen said the Chinook helicopter was flying a mission when it also encountered small arms fire as it entered the Tangi Valley in restive Wardak province, west of Kabul.

An investigation has begun to determine the exact cause of the crash.

The Chinook was flying to the scene of a firefight in which Army Rangers were trying to capture a local Taliban leader responsible for a series of attacks, who Allen said eluded capture.

“We will continue to pursue that network,” Allen said, declining to name the leader.

The remains of the 38 U.S. service members arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Tuesday. The Afghan remains will be returned to their families once identifications can be made, U.S. officials said.

U.S.: Cancer Researcher Falsified Data

BOSTON, Aug. 10 (UPI) — A researcher at the Boston University School of Medicine Cancer Research Center fabricated data in two papers published in scientific journals, authorities say.

Federal authorities say former BU Assistant Professor Sheng Wang engaged in research misconduct in projects supported by two federal grants from the National Cancer Institute, The Boston Globe reported Thursday.

Wang fabricated experiments used in six out of seven figures in one paper and six out of eight figures in the other, a finding issued by the Office of Research Integrity of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said.

Wang no longer works at BU, his employment having ended July 15, a university spokeswoman said, adding she could not comment on the terms under which he left.

Wang has agreed to retract the two papers in question, the university said.

“The retraction of these articles is in accordance with a decision reached by the Office of Research Integrity,” a university statement said. “ORI’s decision resulted from an internal review process initiated by Boston University in accordance with institutional policy and federal regulations.”

Wang will not be eligible for or involved in federally funded research for two years, the ORI said.

Man Sues Over Police Dog Bite To Groin

GRETNA, La., Aug. 10 (UPI) — A man says his civil rights were violated by a Gretna, La., police officer whose police dog bit into his groin area and virtually severed his penis.

Cody Melancon filed a lawsuit against the Gretna Police Department alleging the injury occurred when the officer loosed his dog onto Melancon without provocation, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Tuesday.

The attack left him sexually dysfunctional, Melancon’s suit says.

“I don’t have any sensation down there,” Melancon said. “I can’t get an erection. I’m 25 years of age.”

The incident occurred May 30 when Gretna police went to Melancon’s apartment to arrest him on charges of kicking in someone’s front door and hitting an occupant, charges Melancon denies.

Melancon says he surrendered to officers and was kneeling on the floor of his living room when Gretna officer Joseph Mekdessie allegedly trumped up an altercation and let his dog Zin go at Melancon.

“He started saying, ‘Stop fighting with my dog,’ and he released the dog on me,” Melancon said.

Melancon’s lawsuit seeks $31 million for medical and other expenses and for punitive damages, the Times-Picayune said.

Priest Faces Federal Child Porn Charges

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Aug. 10 (UPI) — A Roman Catholic priest in Missouri has been indicted on federal child pornography charges.

The indictment handed up Tuesday charges the Rev. Shawn Francis Ratigan still took sexually suggestive photographs months after church officials removed him from a parish position and ordered him to stay away from children, The Kansas City Star reported. At the time, Easter Sunday this year, officials had not yet reported Ratigan to police.

Ratigan also faces state charges.

“When a person who has been placed in a position of trust exploits and victimizes children, he victimizes the entire community,” U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips said. “The indictment today sends a strong message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”

Ratigan was ordained in 2004. The indictment charges that a year later he took lewd photographs of a 6-year-old girl at St. Joseph Church in Easton, Mo.

Late last year, Ratigan was removed from parish work and transferred to the Vincentian Mission House in Independence, Mo. but his alleged activities were not reported to police until May. The official in the Kansas City diocese in charge of dealing with allegations of clerical abuse was removed in June largely because of his handling of the case.

Crime Matriarch Gets 26 Years For Murder

MELBOURNE, Aug. 10 (UPI) — Judy Moran, matriarch of an Australian crime family, denied participating in the killing of her brother-in-law as she was sentenced Wednesday to 26 years.

The man who shot Des “Tuppence” Moran, Geoffrey “Nutts” Armour, received the same sentence, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Judy Moran was convicted in March of planning the killing in the Melbourne suburb of Ascot Vale and serving as the getaway driver. She was arrested when police saw her abandoning the getaway car.

“Sir, you are wrong,” Moran told the judge after the sentence was handed down. “I am innocent.”

Moran, 66, was married to Johnny Cole, who was killed in 1982, and then to Lewis Moran, who was gunned down in 2004. Her two sons were also homicide victims.

Judge Lex Lasry said the amount of bloodshed in her family made her decision to have Des Moran killed even less understandable.

Lasry denied a prosecution motion to seize the money Moran made from the sale of her house in Ascot Vale.

King Says ‘headwinds’ Are Gaining Strength

LONDON, Aug. 10 (UPI) — Bank of England Gov. Mervyn King said Wednesday public and private debt is a mounting barrier to economic growth, which has already turned sluggish.

In remarks accompanying the August inflation report, King said, “There are a number of headwinds to world and domestic growth over the forecast period, not least the private and public debt overhang.

“And these headwinds are becoming stronger by the day,” King said.

The bank predicted an economic trajectory consistent with previous reports, but at a slightly slower pace. In its way is slow growth, which in Britain fell to less than 1 percent over the past year, which reflects “a substantial squeeze on households’ real incomes,” King said.

Overall, “the mood in markets has taken a sharp turn for the worse,” King said. “Much of this reflects rising concern about the sustainability of indebtedness in the euro area and the outlook for growth and fiscal policy in the United States.”

Policymakers at the central bank predict fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth will “recover modestly … albeit at an uncertain pace, supported by expansionary monetary policy.”

The bank’s overnight lending rate is 0.5 percent. In its August report, the bank said the consumer price index remains “well above the 2 percent target.” Meanwhile, “output grew sluggishly.”

The annual rate was 4.2 percent in June.

Suit Filed In Car Crash Victim Mix-up

CHANDLER, Ariz., Aug. 10 (UPI) — An Arizona couple who prepared a funeral for their daughter only to learn she had survived a serious car crash say they’ve filed a suit against the state.

Sergio and Maria Guerra of Glendale say the state Department of Public Safety failed to follow a DPS policy requiring officers to positively identify a deceased person before informing family members, The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.

DPS officers had told the Guerras their daughter Abby, 20, died in a crash last July on the way back from a weekend trip to Disneyland in California.

Six days later, officers contacted the family to inform then it was a friend of Abby’s who had died in the accident and that their daughter was in critical condition at a Phoenix hospital.

A nurse at the hospital had inaccurately identified the young woman being treated at the hospital after officers had been unable to identify the other woman who died at the scene of the crash, a DPS report said.

A lawyer for the Guerras said they did not file suit to win damages, although a notice of claim sought $250,000.

“Our purpose all along has been to get policies and procedures in place to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other family,” attorney Mick Levin said.

Last month a state law, known as “Abby’s Law,” went into effect that allows families to meet with medical examiners if there are questions about the identity of a person who has died, the Republic reported.

Judge Rules Former Chicago Mayor Daley Can Be Sued

CHICAGO, Aug. 10 (UPI) — A federal judge has ruled former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley can be sued as a defendant in a police brutality case dating back to the 1980s.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer applies to just one of several lawsuits involving alleged brutality conspiracies that happened under former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The ruling means that attorneys for plaintiff Michael Tillman can begin proceedings to depose the former mayor.

Tillman spent 23 years in prison for rape and murder before his conviction was vacated in 2010, the Chicago Sun-Times and WMAQ-TV reported.

Attorney Flint Taylor said Tillman confessed to the charges because he was suffocated and beaten by Chicago police officers.

“They used a form of waterboarding, pouring 7-Up up his nose,” Taylor said. “That’s the kind of torture they used over a four-day period with Michael Tillman.”

In his civil lawsuit, Tillman alleges the city conspired to cover up police torture cases.

Burge is currently serving a 4 1/2-year federal prison sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Red Cross Warns Of Attacks On Workers

GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 10 (UPI) — Attacks on healthcare facilities and workers in war zones are a serious problem, the International Committee of the Red Cross in Switzerland said Wednesday.

The aid group said hospitals have been shelled, ambulances have been shot at and medical personnel who treated protesters have been put on trial, all in violation of international law.

“The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols assert the right of the wounded and sick — combatants and civilians alike — to be spared further suffering during armed conflict and to receive assistance,” a report by the group said.

The report examined hundreds of incidents across 16 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Sri Lanka and Colombia.

“From Colombia to Gaza, and from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Nepal, there is a lack of respect for the neutrality of healthcare facilities and personnel and medical vehicles, among both those attacking them and those who misuse them for military gain,” the report said.

The ICRC said it is launching a major four-year campaign to raise awareness of the problem and find a solution.

NATO Denies Libyan Casualty Claims

TRIPOLI, Libya, Aug. 10 (UPI) — NATO officials denied Libyan government claims that 85 civilians died in a NATO airstrike near the city of Zlitan, saying the target was a military facility.

“We do not have evidence of civilian casualties at this stage, although casualties among military personnel, including mercenaries, are very likely due to the nature of the target,” NATO spokesman Col. Roland Lavoie, spokesman for Operation Unified Protector, said during a news briefing Tuesday in Naples, Italy.

Lavoie said the target in the Monday night airstrike was one-time farm buildings taken over by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and converted into a “field military complex with temporary accommodation facilities used as a staging point” and being reinforced with troops, weapons and other military equipment.

Libyan officials accused NATO of killing 85 citizens in the airstrike and took journalists to nearby hospitals to view people Libyan leaders said were injured in the strike Tuesday.

“[We] had very clear intelligence demonstrating that this was clearly a military target,” Lavoie said. “So [there were] no expectations of any civilian casualties.”

He said he was aware of the press tour and that NATO officials took the allegations seriously, “although they are very frequent and frequently organized in a timely fashion to coincide with these news conferences.”

Lavoie said NATO officials conduct an assessment after every strike to “basically see the consequence of our action. At this stage, I have not received this assessment.”

While cautioning against drawing conclusions, the NATO spokesman said it was becoming apparent that pro-Gadhafi forces are losing their ability to conduct massive offensives.”

However, he said, “This does not preclude them, however, from operating from covert locations in agricultural, administrative or even residential facilities or schools from where they command and conduct attacks.”

Also Tuesday, Libyan state television showed footage of Gadhafi’s son, Khamis, making a hospital visit. Rebel leaders last week claimed the younger Gadhafi was killed during an air strike.

The Tripoli Post said the television footage was filmed Tuesday and provided the first visual proof that Khamis Gadhafi was alive.