YouTube removes
anti-Muslim film

A U.S. appeals court ordered YouTube on Wednesday to take down an anti-Muslim film that sparked violence in many parts of the Middle East, prompting widespread riots and influential clerics to call for the death of an American actress who sued to have the clip removed from the site.

The decision by a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, reinstated a lawsuit filed against YouTube by actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who appeared briefly in the 2012 video that led to rioting and deaths because of its negative portrayal of the prophet Muhammad.

YouTube resisted calls by President Obama and other world leaders to take down the video, “Innocence of Muslims,” arguing that to do so amounted to unwarranted government censorship and would violate the Google-owned company’s free speech protections. Besides, the company argued that the filmmaker, Mark Basseley Youssef, and not the actress owned the copyright and only he and Google could remove it from YouTube.

But the appellate court ruled Wednesday that the case was far from typical and that the actress retained a copyright claim that YouTube must respect. Google, which has removed the clip, said it will appeal the decision.

— Associated Press

NASA near-drowning was preventable

NASA could have prevented last summer’s near-drowning of a spacewalking astronaut at the international space station, an investigation panel concluded Wednesday.

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano’s helmet filled with water July 16 during his second spacewalk in a week. He barely made it back inside alive.

But according to the panel’s report, his helmet also had leaked at the end of his first spacewalk a week earlier. The panel said the space station team misdiagnosed the first failure and should have delayed the second spacewalk until the problem was understood.

Space station officials — even the astronauts themselves — presumed the leak was from a water drink bag in the suit when, in fact, that was not the culprit, said Chris Hansen, NASA’s chief space station engineer and chairman of the investigation board. The precise cause is still under review.

— Associated Press

Judge removes Trenton mayor: The mayor of New Jersey’s capital city was removed from office by a judge Wednesday, 19 days after a jury found him guilty of corruption as part of a government sting. Trenton Mayor Tony Mack, 48, had fought to remain in office until his sentencing in May while also seeking to have his conviction thrown out. But Judge Mary Jacobson rejected his arguments and signed an order removing him from office. Mack also is ineligible to hold public office in the future and has been stripped of his taxpayer-funded pension.

W.Va. governor’s brother faces drug charge: The brother of West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) is facing a federal drug distribution charge. Carl Tomblin, 50, of Chapmanville was charged with illegally distributing oxymorphone, a prescription painkiller, on Dec. 6. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said the charge stems from an investigation by the U.S. 119 Task Force and the West Virginia State Police.

— From news services