Massachusetts Archives:

JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — U.S. Senator Scott Brown on Monday called on fellow Republican Todd Akin to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race in Missouri, a day after Akin suggested during a television interview that instances of “legitimate rape” rarely result in pregnancy.

Akin, who has served as the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s 2nd congressional district since January 2001 and is currently locked in a hard-fought campaign to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, made the controversial remarks during an interview on KTVI-TV on Sunday morning.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin said when defending his position on abortion. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

The remarks immediately set off a firestorm of criticism, and even fellow Republicans joined in to distance themselves from Akin’s remarks.

Republican Scott Brown, the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, called on Akin to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race in his state. “As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin’s comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong,” Brown said. “There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin’s statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri.”

McCaskill also condemned Akin’s remarks but said it should be up to voters to decide whether he is fit to be a U.S. Senator. “It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape,” she said. “The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive.”

Akin later released a statement in which he said he misspoke, but did not apologize. “In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,” he said.

He added: “I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.”

On the national stage, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney described Akin’s remarks as “inexcusable.” “Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,” Romney told the conservative website National Review Online. “Like missions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”

If Akin wants to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race, he would have to do so before 5 p.m. local time on Tuesday, the deadline set by Missouri election law.

McCaskill’s campaign used Akin’s remarks on Sunday to highlight several other controversial incidents in his past. The campaign noted that Akin co-sponsored a bill last year which would redefine a ban on federal funding for abortions to exempt only “forcible rape” and not rape in general, which critics said could include statutory rape or rape through the use of drugs or verbal threats.

And according to a local newspaper report in May 1991, Akin voted for an anti-marital-rape law but only after questioning whether it could be misused. Akin was reportedly concerned that the anti-marital-rape law could be misused in a “real messy divorce as a tool and legal weapon to beat up on the husband.”

Additionally, in 2005, Akin was among about 50 congressmen who voted against the creation of a national sex offender registry database that required those convicted of a sex crime to register before completing a prison sentence, The Hill newspaper reported earlier this month. The bill also increased mandatory sentences for those convicted of molesting children.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The remains of a U.S. Airman who went missing in a helicopter crash in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War in 1972 have been identified, the U.S. Department of Defense announced on Thursday. His remains have been returned to his family.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Allen J. Avery, of Arlington, Massachusetts, went missing on April 6, 1972, when he and five other airmen were flying a combat search and rescue mission in their HH-53C Super Jolly Green Giant helicopter over Quang Tri Province in South Vietnam. The aircraft crashed when it was hit by enemy ground fire.

About 16 years later, in 1988, Vietnamese authorities turned over remains they attributed to an American service member, although the name provided did not match anyone lost or missing from the Vietnam. The remains were held by the U.S. Department of Defense until improved technology could possibly facilitate identification.

Between 1989 and 1992, U.S. and Vietnamese investigators found evidence which led them to the helicopter’s crash site as well as two burial sites. “Team members recovered human remains and personal effects as well as aircraft debris,” the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement on Thursday.

The remains of the six crew members were accounted-for in 1997, but only three of the airmen were identified at that time. Improved scientific capability enabled progress in the mid-2000s, but it was not until 2010 that mitochondrial DNA testing matched the remains of the three other airmen.

The U.S. Department of Defense said Avery will be buried on Friday at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia with full military honors.

Since late 1973, the remains of more than 930 Americans killed in the Vietnam War have been accounted-for and returned to their families. With the accounting of Avery, 1,672 Americans remain missing from the conflict, which ended in April 1975 and left more than 315,000 people killed.

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BOSTON (BNO NEWS) — A Massachusetts man has pleaded guilty to a charge of foreign economic espionage for exchanging sensitive information with a person who he believed was an Israeli spy, officials said on Tuesday. The man worked for Akamai when he committed the crimes.

Elliot Doxer, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Denise J. Casper to a charge of providing trade secrets over an 18-month period from the finance department of Akamai Technologies to an undercover federal agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer.

In 2006, Doxer sent an email to the Israeli consulate in Boston stating that he worked in the finance department of Akamai Technologies and was willing to provide any information that might help Israel. His main desire “was to help our homeland and our war against our enemies,” Doxer said in later communications.

From October 2007 to March 2009, Doxer exchanged information with a federal agent posing as an undercover Israeli intelligence officer. Among this information was an extensive list of Akamai’s customers, its contracts, as well as a list of the company’s employees, including their contact information.

The former Akamai worker also described the company’s security systems and said he could travel to Israel or support special and sensitive operations in his local area if needed. The information was never in real danger of actual exposure because it was disclosed only to an undercover agent.

U.S. District Judge Casper has scheduled the sentencing for November 30 when Doxer could face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a three-year term of supervised release and a $500,000 fine. Doxer’s prosecution is the first in Massachusetts for foreign economic espionage and only the eighth in the United States.

Akamai Technologies is a content delivery network which provides cloud-based services to optimize web and mobile content applications, including HD video and secure e-commerce. It had a revenue of just over a billion U.S. dollars in 2010.

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FRAMINGHAM, MASSACHUSETTS (BNO NEWS) — Police confirmed on Tuesday that an uncle of U.S. President Barack Obama was arrested in Massachusetts last week, allegedly for driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to a Framingham police report, Onyango Obama was stopped on August 24 after a sport utility vehicle he was driving failed to make a proper stop at an intersection. The arresting officer, Val Krishtal, said the man had red and glassy eyes, slurred speech and appeared unsteady on his feet.

Police said Obama, 67, failed several field sobriety tests and blew a reading of 0.14 percent on a blood-alcohol breath test, which is above the maximum blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent when driving in Massachusetts.

News reports said Obama – who is originally from Kenya – is staying in the United States illegally and had an earlier removal order against him. He is now being held without bail at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to the police report, Obama was offered a phone call after he had been arrested and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to yield the right way. “I think I will call the White House,” he said, although it was not known if he actually made the call and if so who he spoke to.

Onyango Obama is the half-brother of President Barack Obama’s father, Barack Obama, Sr.

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OAK BLUFFS, MASSACHUSETTS (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on late Sunday evening said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his supporters need to recognize that his rule has come to an end.

Obama made the statement after he held a conference call with senior members of his national security team who briefed him on the fast-moving situation in Libya. Obama is currently on an island off the coast of Massachusetts for his annual vacation.

Heavy fighting was reported in parts of the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Saturday and Sunday evening, and continuing into Monday morning. Reports said rebels had taken over significant parts of Tripoli and the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed that the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Seif al-Islam, has been arrested by rebel forces.

“Tonight, the momentum against the Gaddafi regime has reached a tipping point,” Obama said. “Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant. The Gaddafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron first of a dictator.”

Obama urged Gaddafi to relinquish his power once and for all to stop the conflict. “The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Muammar Gaddafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Gaddafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya,” he said.

The U.S. leader added that the Transitional National Council (TNC), which the U.S. government has recognized as the legitimate governing authority of Libya, should continue to demonstrate the leadership necessary to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the Libyan people, avoiding civilian casualties, protecting the institutions of the Libyan state, and pursuing a transition to democracy that is ‘just and inclusive’ for all of the people of Libya.

“The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people,” Obama continued. “Going forward, the United States will continue to stay in close coordination with the TNC. We will continue to insist that the basic rights of the Libyan people are respected. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy.”

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Obama, who had also been briefed by counterterrorism adviser John Brennan earlier on Sunday, will continue to be updated as necessary and is scheduled to be briefed on the topic again on Monday morning.

Libya has been engulfed in a civil war since an uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime began in mid-February, leading to UN Security Council Resolution 1973 which authorized its member states to impose a no-fly zone over the North African country and take ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians. Since then, NATO forces have carried out hundreds of airstrikes across Libya to aid the rebels.

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OAK BLUFFS, MASSACHUSETTS (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on late Sunday evening said he will not comment on the fast-moving situation in Libya until he has received full confirmation on what is happening there.

Heavy fighting was reported in parts of the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Saturday evening and Sunday evening, and continuing into Monday morning. Reports said rebels had taken over significant parts of Tripoli and the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed that the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Seif al-Islam, has been arrested by rebel forces.

“We’re going to wait until we have full confirmation of what has happened,” Obama told reporters who asked about Libya. “I’ll make a statement when we do.” Obama is currently on an island off the coast of Massachusetts for his annual vacation.

Earlier on Sunday, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama had been briefed on the situation in Libya by counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. He also received information from U.S. teams on the ground in the unofficial rebel capital of Benghazi.

“The national security team will continue to provide updates to the President on this situation, as necessary,” Earnest said. “The United States continues to communicate closely with our allies, partners, and the Transitional National Council (TNC). We believe that Gaddafi’s days are numbered, and that the Libyan people deserve a just, democratic and peaceful future.”

Libya has been engulfed in a civil war since an uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime began in mid-February, leading to UN Security Council Resolution 1973 which authorized its member states to impose a no-fly zone over the North African country and take ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians. Since then, NATO forces have carried out hundreds of airstrikes across Libya to aid the rebels.

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LOS ANGELES (BNO NEWS) — FBI Agents on Thursday arrested top ten fugitive James J. “Whitey” Bulger and his companion in California after remaining a high-profile fugitive for 16 years.

Bulger, 81, of Dorchester, Massachusetts, was located with his longtime companion Catherine Greig,60, in Santa Monica, California after a recent publicity, which produced a tip that led FBI agents to their residence early Wednesday evening, according to the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s office in Boston, Richard Deslauriers, and the FBI’s Assistant Director in Charge in Los Angeles, Steven Martinez. 

As the leader of the Winter Hill Gang, Bulger was being sought for his alleged participation in 19 killings, racketeering, extortion, drug trafficking-related charges, conspiracy, and money laundering. A $2 million reward was being offered for tips leading to his arrest. Greig is being charged for harboring a fugitive.

In a highly criticized move, the FBI used Bulger since the early 1970s as an informant, allowing him to continue his alleged criminal activities. According to a report that made Bulger’s relationship with the FBI public, he would provide the FBI with information regarding gang rivals the Patriarca crime family, which operated in the New England area.

In 1995, the FBI was planning to indict Bulger, but FBI agent John Connolly Jr. tipped Bulger who quickly fled, using false identities across the U.S. and Europe and setting up safe deposit boxes to keep cash, jewelry, and passports. Bulger went on to influence the creation of character Frank Costello in Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film ‘The Departed.’

Connolly Jr. was later arrested, and in 2002, he was convicted of racketeering for protecting Bulger as well as another FBI informant, Stephen Flemmi. That same year was the last time federal agents received reliable information regarding Bulger’s location, as a businessman reported spotting him in London.

According to reports, Bulger and Greig had settled down and were living in Santa Monica’s The Princess Eugenia building at the time of their arrest, where they went unnoticed as they were able to blend in normally.

The FBI said the two were arrested without incident and both are currently scheduled for an initial appearance on Thursday in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California in Los Angeles. 

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BOSTON (BNO NEWS) — A U.S. man from Massachusetts whose case led to the discovery of a massive child sex abuse case in the Netherlands has been charged with distributing child pornography, according to court documents unsealed on Friday.

Robert Diduca, 47, was a member of an online forum for those with a sexual interest in children. He came to the attention of law enforcement last year when he sent a pornographic image of a child via e-mail to investigators of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), who alerted Massachusetts State Police.

Diduca was arrested at his home in Milford, a town in Worcester County of Massachusetts, in early November 2010. During a search of his computer storage devices, investigators discovered some 10,000 images and videos of young children engaged in sexual acts.

One of the images recovered from Diduca’s computer showed a two-year-old boy whose diaper had been opened to expose his genitalia, and one video showed an adult man sexually abusing a two-year-old boy. Investigators determined that the photos and videos did not appear to have been made in the United States and shared an edited image on Interpol’s secure system for international law enforcement officials in order to help identify the victim.

As a result, Dutch police soon recognized the material was of Dutch origin and requested additional photos to help in the investigation. An edited photo of the victim was eventually shown on Dutch television on December 7 after which someone recognized the child and called police.

Hours later, police in the Netherlands arrested 27-year-old Robert Mikelsons who confessed to sexually abusing dozens of young children while being employed at two Amsterdam nurseries between February 2007 and January 2010. He also offered his services through several websites. Mikelsons is believed to have abused at least 85 young children.

Diduca, who remains in custody until his detention hearing next Thursday, previously pled not guilty to similar charges. If found guilty, he faces at least 5 years and up to 20 years in prison, followed by up to lifetime supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS (BNO NEWS) — A Massachusetts man was indicted on Tuesday for attempting to murder his 83-year-old mother by setting her on fire, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Gary B. Cernak, 57, of Easthampton, Massachusetts, was found standing and eating salsa, and according to masslive.com, when police arrived and asked what had happened, he answered, “I just killed my mother. I poured lighter fluid on her and set her on fire.”

Rescue crews found Dorothy Cernak in a living room chair calling for help, suffering from burns on her upper body and face, while her hair was completely burned off.

According to Dorothy Cernak’s statements, her son was angry at her because she had called police and doctor during the previous day as she was worried about her son’s health.

Records show that police responded to the call, but Gary Cernak stated to be fine and wanted to be left alone.

However, following the incident, Dorothy Cernak has described her son as passive, stating that she is not afraid of him, as authorities instructed her on how to file a restraining order.

Gary Cernak, who was charged with attempted murder, arson of a dwelling, assault and battery on a person over 60, and mayhem, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and is currently being evaluated by doctors at the Bridgewater State Hospital to determine whether he is criminally responsible for his acts. He has no criminal record.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday approved the Selenia Dimensions System, the first X-ray mammography device that provides three-dimensional (3-D) images of the breast for breast cancer screening and diagnosis.

A mammogram is a safe, low-dose X-ray of the breast that is the best tool for early detection of breast cancer. However, with the limitations of conventional two-dimensional (2-D) imaging, about 10 percent of women undergo additional testing after the initial screening exam for abnormalities that are later determined to be noncancerous.

The Selenia Dimensions System, an upgrade to Hologic’s existing FDA-approved 2-D system, can provide 2-D and 3-D X-ray images of the breasts. The 3-D images may help physicians more accurately detect and diagnose breast cancer.

“Physicians can now access this unique and innovative 3-D technology that could significantly enhance existing diagnosis and treatment approaches,” said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends women ages 40 and older have a mammogram every one to two years. Nearly 40 million mammograms are performed each year in the United States.

As part of the approval process, the FDA reviewed results from two studies where board-certified radiologists were asked to review 2-D and 3-D images from more than 300 mammography exams. In both studies, radiologists viewing both the 2-D and 3-D images obtained a 7 percent improvement in their ability to distinguish between cancerous and non-cancerous cases as compared to viewing 2-D images alone.

While the combination of the Selenia’s 2-D and 3-D images approximately doubled the radiation dose the patient received, it improved the accuracy with which radiologists detected cancers, decreasing the number of women recalled for a diagnostic workup. There is uncertainty for radiation risk estimates; however, the increase in cancer risk from having both a 2-D and 3-D exam is expected to be less than 1.5 percent compared to the natural cancer incidence, and less than 1 percent compared to the risk from conventional 2-D mammography.

The Mammography Quality Standards Act requires that all health care professionals obtain eight hours of training prior to using new mammography technology on patients. The FDA also requires that the manufacturer provide each facility with a manual clearly defining the tests required for initial, periodic, and yearly quality control measures.

According to the NCI, nearly 200,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. And 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. There is a 98 percent survival rate when breast cancer is detected early and still localized to the breast.

The Selenia Dimensions System is marketed by Bedford, Mass.-based Hologic Inc.

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