Dozens Charged In Online Child Porn Ring

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Six dozen people were charged with participating in an online child pornography ring that spanned five continents, the U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the unsealing of three indictments and one complaint charging 72 people for their participation in an international criminal network that promoted pedophilia and encouraged the sexual abuse of very young children, the department said in a release.

Operation Delego, an ongoing investigation started in December 2009, targeted the 72 individuals and more than 500 others worldwide for their participation in Dreamboard, a private, members-only, online bulletin board that promoted sexual exploitation of children in a way that avoided law enforcement detection, the Justice Department said.

To date, 52 of the 72 charged defendants have been arrested in the United States and abroad. Thirteen have pleaded guilty.

The Justice Department said Dreamboard members traded graphic images and videos of adults molesting children no older than 12 years and created a library of images of child sexual abuse.

Operation Delego is the largest prosecution to date in the United States of individuals participating in an online bulletin board developed and operated to promote child sexual abuse, distribute child pornography and evade law enforcement, Holder said.

“The members of this criminal network shared a demented dream to create the pre-eminent online community for the promotion of child sexual exploitation but for the children they victimized, this was nothing short of a nightmare,” Holder said.

All 72 of the defendants are charged with conspiring to advertise and distribute child pornography. Fifty also were charged with engaging in a child pornography enterprise. The charges and arrests were conducted in three phases over the course of the operation, Justice Department officials said.

Factory Orders Off 0.8 Percent In June

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — U.S. factory orders fell 0.8 percent in June, twice the drop economists expected, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday.

Economists expected factory orders to fall 0.4 percent.

Orders fell for the second month out of the past three, dropping by $3.8 billion to $440.7 billion.

Excluding transportation items, orders rose 0.1 percent.

Orders in transportation by itself — the category that includes planes, trains, ships and trucks — fell by $4.3 billion or 8.6 percent to $45.3 billion, making up the bulk of the decrease.

For durable goods, orders fell by $3.8 billion or 1.9 percent to $192.4 billion.

Orders for non-durable goods rose slightly, the bureau said, to $248.2 billion.

Inventories of durable goods, up 18 consecutive months, rose by $1.8 billion or 0.5 percent to $357.8 billion.

Inventories of non-durable goods fell by $400 million or 0.2 percent to $236.5, the bureau said.

Police Search Dead Girl’s N.H. Home

WEST STEWARTSTOWN, N.H., Aug. 3 (UPI) — New Hampshire State Police Wednesday searched the house where Celina Cass, whose body was found earlier this week, lived with her mother and stepfather.

The 11-year-old girl’s death is being treated as “suspicious,” The Boston Globe reported. Celina’s body was found Monday in the Connecticut River a week after she was last seen.

New Hampshire Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said police were doing a more thorough search of the home because the nature of the case had changed. Police also towed away a Ford F-150 pickup truck.

On Tuesday, investigators said the autopsy didn’t establish a cause of death.

The family lives in a three-unit house in West Stewartstown, a hamlet less than 1 mile from the Canadian border.

Missing Student Search Moves To Landfill

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Indiana officials say a search for a missing college student may move to a landfill that receives trash from Bloomington, where the missing woman was last seen.

The company owning the Vigo County landfill says it is cooperating with the FBI in the search for Indiana University student Lauren Spierer, missing since June 3, The Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday.

“We own the landfill, and the FBI wants to search it,” Peg Mulloy, spokeswoman for Republic Services, said. “They know why they’re searching, and they’re going to determine when they’re going to start searching.”

Republic Services has been talking to the FBI for the past two to three weeks and has provided the agency with the blueprint of the landfill to help in the search, Mulloy said.

The landfill is the destination for trash from Bloomington, location of the university’s main campus, where Spierer was last seen in the early morning hours of June 3.

Fugitive In $5.7 Million Theft Arrested

LAWRENCE, Mass., Aug. 3 (UPI) — Massachusetts police say they arrested a fugitive charged in the theft of $5.7 million from Columbia University in a “large-scale white-collar” Internet crime.

Police in Lawrence, Mass., acting on information from New York City detectives, arrested Jeremy Dieudonne, 46, a Haitian man using the stolen Puerto Rican identity of Hector Santiago, the Eagle Tribune of North Andover reported Wednesday.

Dieudonne and two business partners face grand larceny charges in New York for allegedly siphoning $5.7 million from Columbia University into accounts under their own names.

The trio operated a company called IT & Security Solutions LLC and allegedly stole the money from a university payment account between Oct. 4, 2010, and Nov. 24, 2010.

Dieudonne, arraigned as a fugitive from justice in Lawrence District Court, did not fight extradition to New York and was taken into custody by NYPD detectives Tuesday.

Canadian Politico Member Of Three Parties

OTTAWA, Aug. 3 (UPI) — The new interim leader of Canada’s socialist New Democratic Party was busy Wednesday explaining how she was a member of three political parties at once.

Nycole Turmel was named interim leader of the NDP last Thursday by Jack Layton, who went on a leave of absence for cancer treatment. She is a Member of Parliament for a Quebec riding, or district.

In the meantime, it emerged she has been a member of the NDP since 1991 but also joined the separatist Bloc Quebecois Party in 2006 to support a friend who was running, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

She also acknowledged being a member of Quebec Solidaire, a provincial separatist socialist party.

NDP officials told reporters they didn’t permit members to belong to more than one federal political party but were confident Turmel wasn’t aware she was violating policy.

In an interview with the CBC, Turmel played down her separatist party affiliations.

“I am a federalist, I represent Canadians,” she said.

Meanwhile, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters Wednesday in Hamilton, Ontario, the NDP’s choice of an interim leader with a separatist history was “disappointing” to Canadians.

“I think Canadians expect that any political party that wants to govern the country be unequivocally committed to this country,” Harper said.

Judge Rules In Dispute Over Whale’s Fate

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A killer whale will remain in the Netherlands pending further considerations of her eventual fate, a judge in Amsterdam has ruled.

Last week, the Dutch government granted an export license to the Dolfinarium in Hardewijk, where Morgan a female orca, has lived since being found in a severely weakened state in the Wadden Sea a year ago, DutchNews.nl reported Wednesday.

The Dolfinarium had intended to send the whale to an amusement park in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, but the judge’s decision has put that on hold.

The responsible government minister should conduct an investigation into what should properly happen to Morgan rather than simply accept the Dolfinarium’s decision, the judge said.

Animal activists have been campaigning for Morgan to be released into the wild.

“We want the judge to give science a chance. Independent research will show that Morgan is very suitable for release,” a spokesman for The Orca Alliance said.

Experts from the Dolfinarium have said Morgan cannot not be returned to the wild because efforts to find and identify her pod — her family — using her DNA had failed.

Arrests After Pilot Blinded By Laser

GELENDZHIK, Russia, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Police say they arrested two men who allegedly blinded the pilot of a passenger plane with a laser pointer as it was landing at an airport in southern Russia.

There were no injuries as the plane with 115 passengers aboard landed safely Tuesday at the airport in the Russian town of Gelendzhik, authorities said.

“Two young men were arrested after it was reported that somebody was blinding plane pilots with a laser,” Krasnodar region police spokesman Igor Zhelyabin told RIA Novosti.

Zhelyabin said the two suspects told arresting officers they were just “testing” the powerful laser.

Thirty similar incidents have been reported across Russia so far this year, officials said. A bill mandating jail terms for people who attempt to blind pilots was recently introduced in the lower house of the Russian Parliament, RIA Novosti reported.

Dugard Kidnapper Passed Mental Exams: DA

PLACERVILLE, Calif., Aug. 3 (UPI) — Sex offender of Phillip Garrido got glowing reports from psychiatrists while he held Jaycee Lee Dugard captive for 18 years, California records show.

“His prognosis is excellent,” one wrote in 1997. “I do not suspect he will ever be at risk for violence.”

Dugard was kidnapped by Garrido and his wife, Nancy, in 1991 and freed in 2009. Garrido was on parole for a previous rape and kidnap conviction.

Both are now in prison for the rest of their lives.

“Law enforcement failed to see Phillip Garrido for what and who he truly is: evil,” declares a report issued Tuesday by El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson.

More than a dozen times, Garrido submitted watered-down urine samples, the report states. When he tested positive for amphetamines, no action was taken.

A marijuana arrest in 1993 put him in jail for only a month.

Since the Garridos pleaded guilty and there was no trial, there are “lingering unanswered questions,” Pierson said.

U.S. Encouraging Syrian Opposition

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Syrian activists in the United States are encouraged to work with allies back home to chart a united vision for transition, Washington said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Washington with members of the Syrian opposition in the United States.

The Syrian government is using military force to quiet demonstrations against the regime. Clinton, after meeting with opposition leaders, said Washington has “nothing invested” in a Syrian government that chooses to use force to stay in power.

She said she was encouraging the opposition leaders in the Syrian-American community to work with their colleagues back home to create a unified vision of a transition plan for Syria.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in a statement that European leaders have sent a strong statement to Damascus by recalling ambassadors and imposing new sanctions against the regime.

He said that while his country supported U.N. Security Council action on Syria, states like Russia, China and India fear any such action could led to another protracted situation like the one unfolding in Libya.

Clinton called on opponents in the Security Council to reconsider their action.

“Our view remains that strong action by the Security Council on the targeting of innocent civilians in Syria is long overdue,” she said.