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Two online gamers whose alleged dispute over a $1.50 Call of Duty WWII video game bet ultimately led police to fatally shoot a Kansas man not involved in the argument will make their first appearances in court Wednesday in a case of "swatting" that has drawn national attention.

Casey Viner, 18, of North College Hill, Ohio, and Shane Gaskill, 19, of Wichita, are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, wire fraud and other counts.

Viner allegedly became upset at Gaskill while playing the popular online game. Authorities say he then asked 25-year-old Tyler Barriss of Los Angeles to "swat" Gaskill, a form of retaliation sometimes used by gamers, who call police and make a false report to send first responders to an online opponent's address.

Barriss is accused of calling Wichita police from Los Angeles on Dec. 28 to report a shooting and kidnapping at a Wichita address. Authorities say Gaskill had provided the address to Viner and later to Barriss in a direct electronic message. But the location Gaskill gave was his old address and a police officer responding to the call fatally shot the new resident Andrew Finch, 28, after he opened the door.

Viner's defense attorney, Jim Pratt, declined comment. The attorneys for Gaskill and Barriss did not immediately respond to an email.

Viner and Gaskill have not been arrested and both were instead issued a summons to appear at Wednesday's hearing where a judge will decide whether they can remain free on bond. Both men are also likely to enter pleas, although at this stage of the proceedings the only plea a federal magistrate can accept is not guilty.

Barriss and Viner face federal charges of conspiracy to make false reports. Barriss also is charged with making false reports and hoaxes, cyberstalking, making interstate threats, making interstate threats to harm by fire and wire fraud. He will not be in court Wednesday.

A first court appearance on the federal charges has not been set for Barriss because the Sedgwick County district attorney is going forward first with his case on the state charges, said Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas.

A German court has ordered a donkey's owners to pony up 5,800 euros ($6,800) to the driver of a pricy McLaren sports car to cover damage caused when the animal chomped the backside of the vehicle.

Police said that Vitus the donkey may have mistaken the orange McLaren parked next to his enclosure as a giant carrot when he bit the back, damaging the paint and a carbon-fiber piece.

The dpa news agency reported that the state court in Giessen on Thursday sided with the car owner, who filed the suit after the donkey owner refused reimbursement for the incident last September.

At the time, Local media reported the owner of the donkey refused to pay for the damage, telling the McLaren owner he should have picked a better parking place.

Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang received a suspended two-year prison sentence for fleeing the scene after crashing a car into a guardrail while driving under the influence of alcohol.

The sentence handed down Friday by the Seoul Central District Court was a heavier punishment than the 15 million won ($13,000) fine prosecutors had sought, but still clears the 29-year-old Kang to join the Pirates for the baseball season.

"I am sorry, and I am repenting a lot," Kang said after the ruling.

Kang was previously fined twice on drunk driving-related charges in 2009 and 2011. He is in the third year of a four-year, $11 million contract he signed with Pittsburgh in 2015 after a stellar eight-year career in South Korean professional baseball.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement Friday that the team will work to secure Kang's work visa and sit down with him before deciding whether to discipline Kang.

"We look forward to meeting with Jung Ho as soon as he is able to travel to the United States and having a serious discussion with him on this issue and how he has and will change those behaviors that led to the very serious punishment that has been levied against him in Korea," Coonelly said.

According to police, Kang didn't stop after driving a rented BMW into a guardrail at about 3 a.m. while returning to his Seoul hotel in December. The crash damaged the guardrail and the car. Police said Kang's blood alcohol level at the time of the crash would have been 0.08 percent, which is above the country's 0.05 percent legal limit.

Last summer, a 23-year-old woman said she was sexually assaulted by Kang at a hotel in Chicago. He has not been charged.

Kang had 21 home runs and 62 RBIs in 103 games in 2016 during his second season in the majors.

High above the bustling city of Honolulu, in a quiet, exclusive hillside neighborhood where some of the island's wealthiest residents live, there is an extravagant home that's not quite like the others.

The 6,000-square-foot house has a view overlooking Diamond Head, Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean, and two Tesla cars in the driveway. It's not the two electric cars that set the property apart from its swanky neighbors.

The difference is that this solar-powered home is completely energy independent.

Homeowner Henk Rogers, 61, hopes the technology he is using in his home can help make other homes across Hawaii — and the world — energy independent as well.

Rogers is famous for discovering the video game "Tetris" more than 20 years ago. He now manages the worldwide rights for the game along with his business partner, Alexey Pajitnov, who wrote the program.

"If you're going to clean up the world, first of all you have to clean your own room," Rogers said, referring to Hawaii, which has some of the highest energy costs in the nation.

Rogers will announce his new company, Blue Planet Energy Systems, on Monday. The new venture, which will sell and install battery systems for homes and businesses running on solar technology, plans to begin sales on Aug. 1. He declined to say how much the systems would cost, but said there will be a five- to seven-year return on the investment for a typical project that his company will install.

The Blue Ion system, which Rogers has been testing in his home for the last year, uses Sony lithium iron phosphate batteries, which can last for 20 years and do not require cooling, he says.

Partnering with Sony, Rogers believes the batteries can be a solution to the long-standing problem of storing the sun's energy and helping lower energy costs in Hawaii.

Sony has been developing lithium ion batteries since 1991, and the units being used in Rogers' home are top of the line.

The batteries store energy from solar panels, allowing people to use it at night without having to rely on expensive energy from the grid.

Rogers' company will sell and install the battery systems for commercial and residential use, supplying everything from the housing to the software to monitor and maintain the systems.

Honey executive pleads guilty in import case

  Offbeat News  -   POSTED: 2010/08/06 09:58

Things are getting sticky for a 40-year-old honey import executive.

Hung Ta Fan, who also goes by Michael Fan, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to avoid more than $5 million in U.S. anti-dumping duties.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement alleges Fan imported Chinese honey and then falsely identified it as coming from South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and India.

Fan owns several California-based import companies, including Honey World Enterprise.

Fan admitted that between 2005 and 2006 he conspired to illegally import 98 shipments of Chinese honey to avoid paying duties.

In a plea deal, he also admitted that in 2009 he conspired to fraudulently import about $8 million of honey that was diluted and blended with artificial sugar.

Marathoner and health activist Yijoo Kwon is embarking on a 3,500 mile marathon run from Los Angeles to New York City to promote diabetes awareness worldwide. The cross country marathon will last 110 days, beginning on March 23rd and ending on July 9th.

At the age of 51, Mr. Kwon was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and was given an effective death sentence by doctors. The disease was an inevitable consequence from his unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle, and his future looked bleak. Mr. Kwon did not give up, however. He began walking, and little by little worked up to jogging and finally running. With sheer determination in the face of a potentially terminal illness, Mr. Kown was able to fight his diabetes and claim back his life through running. These days, he runs several marathons a year and fully controls his diabetes through exercise and a healthy diet, without medication.

Mr. Kwon is a passionate advocate for healthy and active living who has touched many lives and inspires others to push themselves to the limit. Since his diagnosis in 1996, he has completed nearly one hundred marathons across the globe, from San Francisco to Paris. His accomplishments include eight ultra marathons, the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run, the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run and the Leadville Trail 100.

As the founder of the Korean Road Runners Club in New York City, Mr. Kwon meets with more than 200 active members to run every Sunday at Central Park. He is constantly pushing and helping others to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle. With his invaluable life experiences he promotes the "Fight Against Diabetes" and supports fundraisers to combat adult onset diabetes.

Do law firms employ 'fixers' in real life?

  Offbeat News  -   POSTED: 2008/01/30 12:54

Q: The legal drama "Michael Clayton" last week received seven Oscar nominations, including for best picture and best actor for George Clooney in the title role. The character Clayton has worked 17 years for a white-shoe New York law firm. He is a "special counsel" with a big corner office; he is not a partner, and he doesn't try cases or rack up billable hours. He is a "fixer" -- to his own mind, a "janitor" -- called upon only to clean up big clients' embarrassing messes and kick down doors that need opening. "Who is this guy?" asks the general counsel of a client corporation. Tempo wondered the same: Do big law firms have "fixers" on their staffs?

A: "It makes a nice movie, but I don't think there's much support for the notion of a fixer in the modern law firm world," said Thomas Morsch, a Northwestern University law professor and former partner at Chicago's Sidley Austin LLP. Morsch said large law firms have people who are well-connected and adept at trading favors, but their principal business is bringing in new clients and/or billing existing ones. He didn't rule out that there might be fixers at small firms that big firms call on when some mopping up is needed.

On his "Law Career Blog," Gregory Bowman, director of the International Law Center at Mississippi College law school, has written six entries to date about "Michael Clayton." Bowman said in an interview the film "is a great vehicle for addressing lots of law firm issues."

He wrote on his blog last fall: "I practiced in a big law firm for a number of years [including eight with Baker & McKenzie, in Chicago and Washington]. I never, ever heard of -- let alone met -- a law firm 'fixer.' I don't think they exist. And if they do, then like the Loch Ness monster they probably want to stay hidden."

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