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Nation in brief

TV reporter convicted for not revealing source

By Associated Press
Published November 19, 2004

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A TV reporter was convicted of criminal contempt Thursday for refusing to say who leaked an FBI videotape of a politician taking a bribe - the latest in a string of cases in which journalists have been threatened with jail for protecting a source.

Jim Taricani of WJAR was found guilty by a judge after a 45-minute trial and could get up to six months behind bars when he is sentenced next month.

Taricani called the verdict an "assault on journalistic freedom" and said he never thought he would have to serve time for doing his job.

"No reporter should have to pay such a terribly high price for honestly and legally reporting the news," WJAR said.

Taricani is one of several journalists nationwide who are in battles with the government over confidential sources. That includes reporters for Time and the New York Times who have been held in contempt as part of an investigation into the disclosure of an undercover CIA officer's identity.

Taricani, 55, got in trouble over a video that shows an undercover FBI informant giving an envelope full of cash to a top aide to former Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr. Cianci and the aide, Frank Corrente, were convicted in a corruption case and are in prison.

The reporter broke no law by airing the tape in 2001, but a special prosecutor was appointed to find out who leaked it because the court had ordered no one to release tapes connected to the case.

U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres has said the leak was meant to either disrupt the investigation or deprive defendants of a fair trial by influencing prospective jurors.

Poison cake called prank "that went too far'

ATLANTA - The father of one of two 13-year-old girls accused of serving poisoned cake to about a dozen students said Thursday he and his daughter were sorry it happened.

"It was a horrible prank that went too far and a lot of people have suffered," the father said. The man asked that he not be identified by name to protect his daughter.

The girls were held on assault charges Wednesday, a day after handing out cornbread cake at East Cobb Middle School.

Lab tests showed the icing contained an expired prescription drug, bleach, clay and hot-pepper sauce, police said. Twelve students were treated at a hospital and released.

Both teens were charged with 12 counts of aggravated assault with intent to commit murder. One girl was also charged with terroristic acts and interference with government property. Both are in custody, the father said.

Because the investigation is ongoing, Cobb Police Department spokesman Dana Pierce declined to comment on exactly how dangerous the cake was believed to be, saying only that it was potent enough to cause nausea, vomiting, headache and diarrhea.

Illinois court rules

in favor of gunmakers

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois Supreme Court threw out two lawsuits accusing gunmakers of knowingly letting weapons fall into the hands of gang members and other criminals, ruling Thursday that the manufacturers cannot legally be blamed for street violence.

Both rulings were unanimous, but five of the seven justices were so disturbed by allegations raised in the case that they wrote a separate opinion urging the Legislature to create tougher gun regulations.

The lawsuits, filed by the city of Chicago and victims of shootings, claimed the defendants created a public nuisance by pouring guns into the Chicago area that are used to kill.

[Last modified November 18, 2004, 23:59:17]

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