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Idaho rescuers alter search operation for miner

Posted April 19, 2011, at 9:55 p.m.
Last modified April 20, 2011, at 12:50 p.m.

BOISE, Idaho — Rescuers trying to reach a trapped Idaho silver miner on Tuesday were forced by dangerous conditions to shift their efforts to a new route, more than quadrupling the distance that officials say workers must dig through to reach him.

They’re also still trying to get a separate air hole to Larry “Pete” Marek, a 53-year-old employee of Hecla Mining Co., who was trapped Friday in the cave-in and hasn’t been heard from since. The company expected to complete the air hole Tuesday.

Instability deep inside the Lucky Friday Mine led to the shift in plans to reach Marek, said Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman Amy Louviere. Before, workers needed to clear through about 40 feet of the collapsed area; from the new, safer set-off point more than a mile underground, workers face as many as 225 feet left.

It’s unclear just how the change of plans will affect the duration of the rescue or the time needed to reach the area where Marek might be. Company officials said the conditions underground are unstable, as rescue workers encountered a debris field laden with boulders, twisted wires, mesh and broken concrete that had been used to shore up the tunnel before it caved in.

“It’s a long tedious, process,” said Stephany Bales, a Hecla spokeswoman. “What they’re dealing with, under there, boulders, cement and wires, it isn’t an easy task, by any stretch. It is unstable.”

The company says its new effort will include blasting the rock with a jumbo drill, removing the material and then buttressing the newly exposed ground to keep it from collapsing, too.

Feds: Fake news sites link to acai berry diet

CHICAGO — Consumers searching for unbiased journalism on the acai berry diet clicked their way into a scam, according to federal regulators who have filed lawsuits in six states in an attempt to shut down the alleged Internet tricksters.

The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday it has asked federal courts to stop a wave of fake news sites that entice consumers to buy the unproven weight-loss products.

The sites violate federal law by using the logos of major news outlets to mislead consumers into thinking they’re reading real news reports, according to the court filings. In reality, the sites are advertisements.

Over the past seven days, the FTC filed complaints in federal courts in Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Georgia and Washington. The complaints named 10 website operators and asked the courts to freeze their assets.

The defendants paid more than $10 million to advertise their fake news sites, the FTC said. It’s not clear whether the defendants allegedly running the sites are connected, although content on the sites is similar or the same, said FTC attorney Steven Wernikoff in Chicago.

“We’re still trying to figure that out,” Wernikoff told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “There was some copying of content going on. Regardless of the genesis of the content, the operators are still responsible for the deception on their sites.”

Courts granted temporary restraining orders in some of the cases and many of the websites have been taken down.

Officials: Ex-pastor pleads to child porn charges

MOBILE, Ala. — Authorities say a former church leader from Kentucky pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of distribution of child pornography.

Officials say 63-year-old Jerry L. Cannon is in jail, awaiting expected sentencing in July.

Officials said the Federal Bureau of Investigation began an investigation after police alerted the FBI to a complaint by someone who reported seeing child pornography on a Facebook page.

Authorities said Cannon used a total of 13 phony accounts, in addition to his real profile, and had more than 600 pornographic images linked to his accounts.

The Mobile Press Register reported that Cannon — who is originally from Mobile — was previously a pastor at a nondenominational church in Dry Ridge, Ky.

Defense attorney Greg Hughes said his client’s legal problems are a tough thing he’s confronting.

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