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Entries in Website (10)

Saturday
Jan052013

Steubenville Officials, Under Scrutiny, Launch Website Regarding Alleged Teen Gang Rape

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- As Steubenville, Ohio, prepares for the high-profile rape trial of two high school football players, officials, battling allegations of a cover-up, announced the creation of a new website on Saturday to debunk rumors and create what they said would be a transparent resource for the community.

"This site is not designed to be a forum for how the Juvenile Court ought to rule in this matter," the website, called Steubenville Facts, said.

A timeline of the case, beginning with the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl at a party on Aug. 11-12, 2012, is posted on the site. Summaries of Ohio law relating to the case and facts about the local police force including statistics on how many graduated from Steubenville schools, is included.

The case gained national attention last week when hacking collective Anonymous leaked a video of Steubenville high school athletes mocking the 16-year-old female victim and making crude references to the alleged rape.

Anonymous has called for more arrests, however Steubenville Police have said their hands are tied.

"Steubenville Police investigators are caring humans who recoil and are repulsed by many of the things they observe during an investigation," the website said, addressing the video. "Like detectives in every part of America and the world, they are often frustrated when they emotionally want to hold people accountable for certain detestable behavior but realize that there is no statute that allows a criminal charge to be made."

Occupy Steubenville, a grassroots group, estimated 1,300 people attended a rally on Saturday outside the Jefferson County Courthouse, where rape victims and their loved ones gathered to share their stories.

The father of a teenage rape victim was met with applause when he shared his outrage.

"I've tried to show my girl that not all men are like this, but only a despicable few," he said. "And their mothers that ignore the truth that they gave birth to a monster."

Authorities investigated the case and charged two Steubenville high school athletes on Aug. 22, 2012.

The teenagers face trial on Feb. 13, 2013 in juvenile court before a visiting judge.

Attorneys for the boys have denied charges in court.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep142012

Mass. Voters Sent to Bogus Website Warning of Pot-Induced ‘Twinkie Addiction’

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Organizers of the committee opposing a Massachusetts state initiative to legalize medical marijuana were munching crow this week after mistakenly directing voters to a satirical website that warns a “Yes” vote could lead to a run on Twinkies, forcing residents to “eat Snowballs and other undesirable snacks that are left behind on store shelves.

“Do you really want your children growing up in a world without Twinkies?” the site warns.

If voters come out in favor of "Question 3" in November, Massachusetts would wipe out criminal and civil penalties for the use of marijuana, provided it’s prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner. The latest survey, taken by Public Policy Polling late last month, shows the measure passing by a 31 point margin, 58-27 percent.

When asked to provide information for the state voters’ guide, the opposition “Vote No On Question 3″ group submitted a link to votenoonquestion3.org, a Web address they had not yet registered. When Bostonian Scott Gacek noticed, he grabbed the domain name and built the site. It went live Tuesday, Brian McNiff, spokesman for the Massachusetts secretary of state, confirmed earlier Friday.

“The whole thing is pretty funny and tragic at the same time,” Kevin A. Sabet, a spokesman for the “No on Question 3″ committee, said in an email Friday evening. “The campaign was beaten to the punch by a satirist. Sadly, some voters may be uninformed of the ramifications of Question 3.”

Among the headlines on the fake “Vote No” homepage Friday: “Local Drug Dealers’ Union Says ‘Vote No On Question 3′” and “FACT: Medical Marijuana Will Hurt Opiate Based Medication Sales,” which makes a more serious accusation against the pharmaceutical industry:

“If medical marijuana is legalized in Massachusetts, thousands of patients will stop using opiate-based medications, like morphine and Oxycontin, which will hurt the shareholders of some of today’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

This could have potentially adverse effects on other industries, such as luxury car and yacht sales, as shareholders will have less disposable income to indulge on such luxuries.”


“Vote No On Question 3″ has since purchased another site -- mavotenoonquestion3.com -- which has replaced Gacek’s on the Massachusetts online voters’ guide. But for the millions of state voters who take their cue from the paper edition, it’s too late, they’ll be stuck contending with the “Fact” the "Red Sox are in Last Place Because of Question 3.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

Pentagon Launches Website to Stop Bogus Medal Winners

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Unscrupulous people will be less inclined to fake medals won in the military because of a new website launched by the Pentagon on Wednesday.

The White House and Congress were taken aback after a recent Supreme Court ruling that tossed out the Stolen Valor Act.  While admitting that pretending to be a military hero is reprehensible, the judges maintained that it's protected free speech and fakers should not be subject to fines or jail time.

But according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, "One of the most important things we can do for all veterans is to honor the service of those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty."

Therefore, the new site will list only those who have legitimately won special honors for displaying valor while in armed forces.

It will begin with Medal of Honor recipients and then gradually add other honors including the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy and Air Force service crosses.

That way, people who seek to fudge their resume might think twice about it if there's a list that can expose them as frauds.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul232012

Obama Announces New Website to Combat False Claims of Military Medals

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- President Obama announced Monday that later this week the federal government will launch a website to try to reduce the number of Americans fraudulently claiming to have been awarded medals by the military, a response to the June ruling by the Supreme Court that the “Stolen Valor” law was unconstitutional.

“It may no longer be a crime for con artists to pass themselves off as heroes, but one thing is certain -- it is contemptible,” the president told the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in Reno, Nev. “So this week, we will launch a new website, a living memorial, so the American people can see who’s been awarded our nation’s highest honors. Because no American hero should ever have their valor stolen.”

White House officials have worked with the military to compile and publish information about those who have received the military’s two highest awards for valor -- Medals of Honor and Service Crosses -- since Sept. 11, 2001. The website, valor.defense.gov, is scheduled to launch Wednesday.

Officials say that the effort does not replace the efforts of members of Congress to draft legislation that will pass Constitutional muster and allow for the prosecution of those who lie about awards. By launching a web site that lists those who have received awards, the White House hopes members of the public will be able to check to see if someone is lying.

Those in charge of the project hope to also gather information on the recipients of Silver Stars, and they’re reviewing the feasibility of including those who received awards before Sept. 11, 2001; some of the older awards don’t have the same backup records, making it difficult for the Pentagon to accurately assess whether an award was approved. Moreover, many of those who received awards prior to 2001 have since left the military, so their records may not be as current.

President George W. Bush signed the Stolen Valor Act into law in 2006. The bill amended the federal criminal code, “to expand the prohibition against wearing, manufacturing or selling military decorations or medals without legal authorization”; it also prohibits, “purchasing, soliciting, mailing, shipping, importing, exporting, producing blank certificates of receipt for, advertising, trading, bartering, or exchanging such decorations or medals without authorization.”

The law prohibited, “falsely representing oneself as having been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces or any of the service medals or badges,” and it increases, “penalties for violations if the offense involves a distinguished service cross, an Air Force Cross, a Navy Cross, a silver star, or a Purple Heart.”

Those convicted faced prison sentences of up to a year.

In 2007, Xavier Alvarez, a member of the Three Valley Water District Board in Eastern Los Angeles, identified himself as, “a retired Marine of 25 years. I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy.”

None of this was true.

Alvarez was indicted under the law, but he challenged its constitutionality and on June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court by a vote of six to three declared the Stolen Valor Act an unconstitutional abridgment of the freedom of speech.

Wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy, for the majority, “Were the Court to hold that the interest in truthful discourse alone is sufficient to sustain a ban on speech, absent any evidence that the speech was used to gain a material advantage, it would give government a broad censorial power unprecedented in this Court’s cases or in our constitutional tradition. The mere potential for the exercise of that power casts a chill, a chill the First Amendment cannot permit if free speech, thought, and discourse are to remain a foundation of our freedom.”

“The remedy for speech that is false,” Kennedy wrote, “is speech that is true.”

That, apparently, is the idea behind this new website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May222012

FBI Investigates 'Revenge Porn' Website Founder

Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The FBI is investigating the founder of a "revenge porn" website, where scorned lovers were posting nude photos and videos of their ex-partners anonymously.

Officials would only confirm to Nightline that there was an investigation, but declined to comment further on any other details.

Hunter Moore, 26, used to run a website called IsAnyoneUp.com, which he told Nightline he had launched as a place for "public humiliation." On the site, users could upload sexually explicit photos and videos without a victim's permission, and include screen grabs of Facebook accounts and links to Twitter accounts. A section on the website also allowed people to comment on the photos and videos.

The site became so popular that Moore said he was getting nearly 5 million hits a month. But in April, Moore sold his website for less than $15,000 to BullyVille.com, a social website on which people can share stories about being bullied and seek help. IsAnyoneUp.com was taken down.

But before that, Kayla Laws, a 25-year-old aspiring actress, said nude photos of herself that she took but never distributed surfaced on IsAnyoneUp.com. Laws claims her computer was hacked.

"To be seen on that website is like, breaks my heart inside," she said. "It ruins everything I've built up for myself. It's embarrassing to know that they've seen that photo of me and they know what I look like topless because of that site."

Her mother Charlotte Laws, who is a private investigator, said she was outraged and contacted the FBI after Moore refused to take down her daughter's photos.

"We first asked him, we sent him a cease-and-desist and a take-down notice, and he basically said 'screw off,' in so many words," Charlotte Laws said.

She said she convinced the FBI to launch an investigation into whether Kayle's computer was hacked.

"The FBI, I've been extremely impressed with them," Charlotte Laws said. "They're highly competent and extremely responsive."

Moore denied that he ever hacked anyone's naked photos.

Before IsAnyoneUp.com was shut down in April, Moore boasted to Nightline that he was a self-proclaimed "professional life ruin-er" and he had no scruples about hosting the website because the people on it were simply "characters and avatars and icons on a screen" to him and he wanted to take "full advantage of people's mistakes."

Moore also bragged about the multiple cease-and-desist letters and complaints he got from victims' lawyers, and said his typical response was either to send a dirty picture or a simple "LOL."

Just as YouTube hosts other people's videos, IsAnyoneUp.com fell into the same category -- the person submitting the picture accepts full responsibility for uploading it.

"Your only remedy is against the person who took the picture and posted it," said Bruce Johnson, an attorney in Seattle who specializes in First Amendment and media cases. "There's no real remedy against the website that's posting that photo. The best advice is not to disseminate the picture to begin with."

When BullyVille.com bought Moore's site and shut it down -- IsAnyoneUp.com's URL now re-directs to BullyVille.com -- it seemed that Moore had changed his tune. The site hosted a letter from him filled with words that sounded nothing like the rebel Nightline had previously interviewed.

"I think it's important that everyone realizes the damage that online bullying can cause," Moore wrote.

James McGibney, a former marine and founder of BullyVille.com, told Nightline he did a public service by shutting down Moore, something he said even the government wasn't able to do. However, several critics called the move a media stunt because the re-direct from IsAnyoneUp.com occurred less than a week after BullyVille.com launched, and BullyVille.com received two million visitors from it.

McGibney denied that shutting down IsAnyoneUp.com was for personal gain.

"Do you know what kind of base [Moore has], the subscriber base?" he said. "It's not the type of people I want on BullyVille."

But BullyVille.com isn't McGibney's only website. His bread and butter is CheaterVille.com, a website where anyone can accuse someone of cheating on a spouse or a partner and post it anonymously. But McGibney said CheaterVille.com is nothing like Moore's "revenge porn" website.

"There is no doubt I believe in what I'm doing or I wouldn't do it," McGibney said. "[CheaterVille.com] was not started for revenge or for malicious intent. It was designed to warn people, and I'm never going to change that thought because that's what I believe in."

Moore may have turned humiliation into a business model, but he hasn't cornered the market on getting even. Today, revenge is something he is trying to avoid.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr092012

George Zimmerman Releases First Public Statement About Trayvon Martin Case

ABC News/Orange County Jail(SANFORD, Fla.) -- After weeks of silence and seclusion, George Zimmerman has released a public statement about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, referring to incident as a "life altering event" on his website, therealgeorgezimmerman.com.

In a statement on the site, which Zimmerman's attorneys have confirmed to ABC News belongs to him, the 28-year-old wrote, "As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately my entire life."

Zimmerman says his website gives him an outlet to speak directly to his supporters. On the site he created a PayPal account where he also asks supporters to donate to his legal fund and living expenses. However, the site has been unavailable intermittently throughout the day.

These first public comments come as the special prosecutor investigating the shooting decided against empaneling a grand jury to seek an indictment against Zimmerman. The decision to forego a grand jury precludes a first-degree murder charge, but prosecutors insist that was never a viable option. Charges against Zimmerman, if filed, could come within days.

"The state must go forward and be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt," said Angela Corey, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, in a statement.

Corey, a state's attorney based in Jacksonville, took over the case three weeks after the Feb. 26 shooting. Her team has had to re-investigate virtually the entire case from scratch after a string of alleged police missteps.

Zimmerman told police that he shot the 17-year-old teen in self-defense. His attorneys tell ABC News they plan on invoking Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, which would be a tough defense for Corey to overcome.

"It makes the case, in general, more difficult than a normal criminal case," Corey recently told ABC News.

Hal Uhrig, Zimmerman's attorney, in a statement to ABC News called Corey a "fair" prosecutor, adding, "We are hopeful she sees the clear evidence, applies the law and declines to prosecute."

As Corey's investigation continues, Sanford remains a city on edge. Earlier protestors demanding Zimmerman's arrest blockaded the Sanford police department, forcing its closure for several hours. Emergency operation centers opened in three counties in anticipation of possible unrest as the days continue to drag on without an arrest.

"Are we are a kindling box? Sure," said Sanford mayor Jeff Triplett in an interview Monday. "But we plan for the worst and hope for the best…and so far all the protests so far have been absolutely peaceful."

In the first meeting of the Sanford city commissioners since the former police chief was publicly rebuked via a vote of no confidence, tensions continued to simmer over how the city has handled the investigation and response.

A black veteran yelled at commissioners, "If Zimmerman don't get arrested, I really believe there's going to be some retaliation … because we failed to take responsibility in Sanford."

The heated rhetoric forced one Zimmerman family member to lash out in a letter obtained by Daily Caller written to Attorney General Eric Holder. After citing the U.S. Department of Justice's published definition of a "hate crime," the Zimmerman family member wrote that there is "no other explanation for Holder's failure to authorize arrests of New Black Panther Party members other than the fact that Holder himself is black."

As a city, state and nation continue to fixate on this case, the Martin family says they remain hopeful that Zimmerman will be arrested. A statement from family attorney Benjamin Crump states that the family is "hopeful that a decision will be reached very soon to arrest George Zimmerman and give Trayvon Martin's family the simple justice they have been seeking all along."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan042012

Milwaukee Medical Examiner Creates Website to ID Unknown Corpses

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MILWAUKEE) -- A Milwaukee medical examiner is using new media to identify forgotten victims in old, cold cases.

Mike Simley, a forensic investigator in Milwaukee County, Wisc., built and launched an online database of unidentified deceased bodies that have been in his morgue for up to 30 years, awaiting a family member or friend who can claim them as their own.

"I was just desperate to get people identified," Simley said.  "Everyone is born with an identity and deserves to die and be put to rest with the same thing, rather than as a Jane or John Doe."

The database is filled with photos of the unnamed deceased that viewers can scroll through to see if they recognize any faces.  The website even includes a section for unidentified infants and fetuses found abandoned and deceased.  Many of the images, Simley acknowledged, are gruesome.

"I talked with the chief medical examiner here.  We see this stuff on a daily basis, but people who don't have to deal with death all the time. Obviously it would not be an easy thing for people to see, deceased individuals," Simley said.

He created the website to have multiple warnings and disclaimers about the types of pictures featured.

"I structured this website so you have to jump through some hoops, and read a big warning about what types of pictures they are, and a description of why I'm doing this (before you see the photos)."

[Click here to see the website]

Simley said he doctored some photos, changing the color or fading some details, to make up for natural body decomposition and make it a little bit easier for the public to view.

He hopes that through his website and a national database of unidentified bodies and missing persons family members will recognize a defining characteristic of their relative and contact his office to arrange burial.

Simley said he knew of only one other jurisdiction that had a similar website -- Clark County, Nev. -- which had some success matching bodies with family members.  The Milwaukee website has not yet had a match since its launch in mid-December, he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan032011

Ivy League Professors Launch Website to Donate Tax-Cut Proceeds to Charity

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Obama and his Republican rivals may have reached a compromise for a tax plan, but a group of Ivy League professors says the plan unfairly favors the wealthy -- and is encouraging taxpayers to take a stand by donating their tax cuts to charity.

Three professors -- two from Yale and one from Cornell -- have launched GiveItBackForJobs.org, a website that allows visitors to calculate their tax cuts and pledge some of the money to charity.

"You can see what your tax cut is and, if you can afford it, you can support the kinds of programs the government would be supporting," said Daniel Markovits, a professor at Yale Law School. "It allows you to tie your charitable donations to a statement of principle that taxes should be more equally distributed."

Markovits said the tax compromise, which extended the Bush-era tax cuts, decreases funding supporting programs for the economically disadvantaged and disproportionately helps the wealthy. Current income taxes, which have a maximum rate of 35 percent, are lower than the 50 percent under President Reagan, according to Markovits.

"You have a great deal of inequality, hardship in the middle class, and fiscal policy that's not distributing the burden equally. The tax deal that the Obama administration made combined modest stimulus to the middle class with huge giveaways to the wealthy."

Markovits said he and the others chose the name of the website to highlight that more jobs are what are needed for the middle class to recover from the economic downturn.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec132010

Gawker Websites Hacked, Perps Say Info Stolen

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Gawker Media is urging users to change their passwords after its site was hacked.

The company, which publishes the blogs Gawker, Gizmodo, Jezebel and others, temporarily stopped publishing new material Sunday after its user databases were stolen.

The hackers claim they took more than one million user names and passwords.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec042010

Colorado County Employee Posts Thousands of Sensitive Documents

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.) -- Officials in Mesa County, Colorado are scrambling to figure out how much damage may have been done from an accidental leak of thousands of secret documents containing phone numbers and personal information of informants, witnesses and sheriff's deputies.

Google has now stepped in to help the sheriff's department find and delete any other of the leaked documents that were stored on an unsecured website, shown to have been accessed by outsiders.

The sheriff's department is scouring the files, looking for the names of witnesses or confidential informants who might need to be warned that their names could soon go public.

The county employee who inadvertently put the files online last April has been fired.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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