Man Faces Sentencing In Ivory Case

NANTUCKET, Mass., Aug. 1 (UPI) — A Massachusetts scrimshaw artist facing sentencing in an ivory smuggling case is no smuggler, just a man who uses ivory “as his medium,” his lawyer said.

Charles Manghis of Nantucket, convicted of conspiring to smuggle ivory into the United States, faced sentencing in federal court Monday, The Boston Globe reported.

Prosecutors said Manghis helped fuel illegal poaching of animals for their ivory by purchasing it from the black market.

Manghis’ attorneys disagree.

“He is not a smuggler by trade; he’s not a reseller or a dealer of ivory,” said Max Stern, an attorney for Manghis, at a hearing last week. “He has obtained ivory for art and he uses it as his medium.”

Earlier this year a judge ordered the deportation of a Ukrainian man said to be Manghis’ ivory importer.

Importing sperm whale ivory was banned by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Prosecutors said Manghis clearly violated the law.

“There’s a reason we don’t hunt the whales the same way, we don’t use the products the same way — people don’t live that way anymore,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadine Pellegrini said after Manghis’ conviction.

The conservation group Care for the Wild International said the United States is the second-largest ivory market in the world, behind China.

“Stop the demand for it because that’s what keeps the species safe,” Pellegrini said.

Manghis was convicted of conspiracy, six counts of smuggling and two counts of making false statements regarding the purchase of ivory.

Arrests After Philly Flash-mob Attacks

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Police say four people, including an 11-year-old boy, have been arrested for allegedly participating in a flash-mob attack at Philadelphia’s City Center.

Raymond Gatling, 19, was arrested along with three juveniles, ages 11, 16 and 17, for allegedly taking part in a youth mob of 20 to 40 people Friday night, the Philadelphia Daily News reported.

Witnesses said the group targeted pedestrians at random, and police reported a 33-year-old man was robbed and assaulted and a 59-year-old man was beaten.

The victims were treated at a local hospital and released.

All four suspects were arrested shortly after the incidents, police said, and have been charged with assault, robbery and related offenses.

Twitter Takes Down Fake Va. Police Account

ROANOKE, Va., Aug. 1 (UPI) — A seemingly official Twitter account of the Virginia Sate Police, with links to its Web site, was suspended after it was found to be fake, officials said.

The account featured the official seal of the agency and included information on the force, with postings linking to actual agency releases, the Roanoke Times reported Monday.

But someone masquerading as a representative of the force was running the account so the agency asked Twitter to remove it, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

“It came to our attention when we had a reporter here in Richmond ask us about something we tweeted,” Geller said. “To look at it, one would think it was legitimate. But it was not.”

It was not known who set up the account, Geller said, noting that state police employees are not allowed to create such social networking accounts without authorization.

Battle Rages Near Somali Refugee Camp

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Somalia’s al-Shabaab battled African peacekeepers near a refugee camp outside Mogadishu as the group continued to block aid Sunday, witnesses said.

“They are trying to make it very impossible for the humanitarian groups,” Lt. Colonel Paddy Ankunda of the African Union force told ABC.

The militant Islamic group has also refused to set up refugee camps in the southern territory it controls, forcing millions of starving people to walk for hundreds of miles.

The United Nations has officially declared a famine in southern Somalia.

One mother said she walked for 15 days with her children to reach the camp.

Her son, Yusef, said he doesn’t miss home. “It was bad.”

London Worried By Turkey’s Borders

LONDON, Aug. 1 (UPI) — There are concerns about the security of the Turkish border in the event Ankara secures membership to the European Union, London said.

Turkish efforts to join the European Union hit a snag last year because of opposition expressed by several European governments.

Some European lawmakers expressed concerns about Turkish acrimony with Cyprus, declines in press freedoms, honor killings and the lack of protection for religious minorities.

The British Home Affairs Committee in a report said there were real concerns about the security of the external border for the European Union if Turkish accession efforts prove successful.

If Ankara wins its bid, the external border of the European Union would extend to Iraq, Iraq and Syria.

“Turkey must be required to ‘clearly and objectively’ demonstrate that it has met stringent criteria set by the EU for border management prior to accession,” a committee statement read.

Meanwhile, a land border between Greece and Turkey is what the committee said was a loophole for “irregular immigration” into the European Union. Though a proposed border fence could allay some concerns, the committee said it wasn’t necessarily a solution in and of itself.

“I am concerned that, if action is not taken now, it will become even easier for migrants from countries such as Afghanistan and Iran to enter the EU once Turkey is a member,” committee Chairman Keith Vaz said in a statement.

Boeing Resumes EMARSS Work

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 1 (UPI) — The U.S. Army reports that Boeing has resumed work in building the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System.

The stop-order on the project, which came amid a bidding war with protests last December against the Army and its selection process, was lifted in June.

The three losing bidders — L-3 Communications, Lockheed Martin/Sierra Nevada, and Northrop Grumman — had filed protests with the U.S. Government Accountability Office after Boeing’s Nov. 30 win of the contract.

“(Because of the protest) the GAO asked the Army to review its areas which did the selection,” said Lt. Col. Dean Hoffman, product manager for the Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System.

“The Army did that, went back to the source selection authority and gave its determination of which, once again, the authority decided that Boeing is the best value for the government.”

The EMARSS program aircraft is “a manned multi-intelligence system that (will) detect, locate, classify, identify and trace surface targets in day and night, near-all-weather conditions with a high degree of timeliness and accuracy,” the Army said.

Boeing’s EMARSS will consist of a commercial derivative aircraft — the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350 — equipped with an electro-optic and infrared full-motion video sensor, a communications intelligence collection system, an aerial precision guidance system, line-of-sight tactical and beyond-line-of-sight communications suites, two operator workstations, and a self-protection suite.

Its capabilities include an electro-optical/infrared with full motion video sensor, a communications intelligence sensor, and an Aerial Precision Guidance sensor — all supported by line-of-sight and beyond line-of-sight communications.

Hoffman said, “We’re hoping is to be able to have the first platform deployed … in the 2012, early 2013 timeframe.”

Sentence Imposed In Texas RICO Case

SAN ANTONIO, Aug. 1 (UPI) — A federal judge has sentenced an alleged member of a Texas-based prison gang on racketeering and drug charges.

Miguel “Mike” Guerrero, 39, of Uvalde, Texas, was sentenced to 18 years for violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, the San Antonio Express-News reported Monday.

Prosecutors said Guerrero is a member of the San Antonio-based prison gang Mexican Mafia that is involved in drug trafficking and violent crime across South Texas.

The gang would bring drugs in across the U.S.-Mexico border and distribute them in towns southwest of San Antonio, including Uvalde, while collecting a “tax” from local drug dealers, court records show.

In order to protect their business, the gang allegedly resorted to robbery, assault and killings, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Casey Anthony Told To Report For Probation

ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 1 (UPI) — A Florida judge Monday morning ordered Casey Anthony to report for probation for a check fraud conviction.

“From my reading of this, she should be reporting to probation in Orlando probably within 72 hours,” said Orange Circuit Judge Stan Strickland, who sentenced Anthony for the crime last year. “I suspect she’s going to be required to report to probation.”

Correction Department spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger told the Orlando Sentinel: “We’re in contact with Casey’s Anthony’s attorneys to set up her first report visit.”

Anthony, 25, walked out of the Orange County Jail July 17 with no restrictions after being acquitted of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Strickland said Thursday he intended for Anthony to get supervised probation if freed in the murder case. But prison officials took his order to mean she could serve her probation while in jail.

On Friday, Plessinger said the department would apply supervised probation now, if the judge amended his order. The document was amended, and Strickland signed it Monday.

Anthony’s lawyers could not be immediately reached for comment.

Repression In Belarus Concerns London

LONDON, Aug. 1 (UPI) — In a human rights report, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said political repression was a contentious issue in Belarus in 2011.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee said it had information to suggest that two men accused of murder in Belarus were executed despite an ongoing review of their cases by the United Nations.

Nearly 400 people were arrested during Independence Day celebrations in Belarus in early July and hundreds of political opponents to President Alexander Lukashenko were detained following contentious December elections.

“Repression of the political opposition, civil society and the independent media continued throughout the second quarter of 2011,” a report from the FCO read.

London blamed the Lukashenko government for taking an “increasingly repressive” approach to protests throughout the country despite the international condemnations.

Authorities in Minsk took a hard line against so-called silent demonstrations that coincided with Independence Day. Several were detained after the protest, which featured no slogans or signs.

“We believe that a more democratic Belarus, which acts in accordance with European Union values, would contribute to enhanced security in the region,” the report reads.

Lukashenko in June threatened to close the country’s borders if there were an economic catastrophe. Inflation in the country is in the double digits.

Holocaust Survivor Goes Skydiving

JAMUL, Calif., Aug. 1 (UPI) — An 85-year-old California man who survived the Holocaust said he celebrated his birthday by skydiving as a final swipe against Adolf Hitler.

Gary Lenzner of Mission Viejo, who jumped out of the plane at 10,000 feet Sunday morning and landed safely on Nichol’s Field in Jamul, said his birthday stunt was proof that “the idiot” Hitler “didn’t succeed,” The Orange County (Calif.) Register reported Monday.

“Not only didn’t he succeed, I had two children, eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren, and now I’m jumping out of an airplane,” Lenzer said.

Lenzer escaped from the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945 while being marched back from harvesting crops and hid in a farmhouse until U.S. tanks began rolling through the area.

Lenzer’s skydive came on the same day as 82-year-old Judy Wade celebrated her own birthday by jumping out of a plane at Skydiving the Ranch in Gardiner, N.Y., the New York Daily News reported Monday.

“The older you get, the better life gets — if you let it,” Wade said.