Nation Digest

Nation Digest: Charges Pending in Balloon Case

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Charges Pending In Balloon Case

The sheriff of Larimer County, Colo., said late Saturday that charges will be filed in the case of the 6-year-old boy who vanished into the rafters of his garage for five hours while the world thought he was zooming through the sky in a flying-saucer-like helium balloon.

The boy's father, Richard Heene, met with sheriff's officials earlier in the day amid lingering questions about whether he perpetrated a hoax.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden didn't say Saturday night what the charges would be, but he did say the parents, Richard and his wife, Mayumi Heene, aren't under arrest.

Richard Heene has insisted that the drama that unfolded Thursday wasn't a publicity stunt. He and his wife reported that their 6-year-old son, Falcon, had been inside the flying-saucer-shaped balloon when it launched from their back yard.

Falcon's brother later said he saw him inside the compartment before it took off, causing the parents to think he had been there when it launched. Heene said that before the launch, he had yelled at Falcon for getting inside.

-- Associated Press


Artist Admits to Lying About 'Hope' Poster

Artist Shepard Fairey, the creator of the famous Barack Obama "Hope" poster, says he was mistaken about which Associated Press photograph he used to create the image, an issue that is at the center of a court dispute between Fairey and the news service.

In a statement Friday, the Los Angeles-based artist retracted the claim that he had an Associated Press photo of Obama seated next to actor George Clooney. He said he recognized his error and tried to hide it.

"In an attempt to conceal my mistake, I submitted false images and deleted other images," he said. "I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions, which were mine alone."

By Friday night, his attorneys said they intended to withdraw from the case and said the artist had misled them by fabricating information and destroying other material.

Fairey and his attorneys had contended that the artist altered the photo with Clooney to the point that its use would have been permitted under "fair use," the legal claim that copyrighted work can in some circumstances be used without having to pay for it.

Instead, he used a picture AP has maintained was his source -- a solo picture of the future president that more closely resembles the iconic red, white and blue image of Obama, underlined with the caption "Hope."

Srinandan R. Kasi, AP's vice president and general counsel, said the news service will pursue its lawsuit alleging that Fairey willfully infringed its copyright. Kasi said Fairey's admission struck "at the heart" of his defense that he was protected by fair use.

-- Associated Press

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