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Al Gore Sues Al-Jazeera America For Allegedly Withholding $65 Million

By Saba Hamedy and Meg James, Los Angeles Times

Former Vice President Al Gore has sued Al-Jazeera America, claiming the satellite TV service owned by the Qatari royal family has withheld $65 million of the proceeds from the sale of cable channel Current TV.

Gore and his business partner, Joel Hyatt, founded Current Media a decade ago as a youth-oriented news and pop culture channel. It struggled for traction and in early 2013, the partners sold the channel to Al-Jazeera America Holdings for $500 million. The channel was rebranded as news service Al-Jazeera America.

On Friday, Gore and Hyatt filed a fraud and breach of contract lawsuit against Al-Jazeera America Holdings Inc. in a Delaware court. The suit contends that Al-Jazeera America withheld $65 million, which was held in an escrow account.

The suit was filed on behalf of Gore, Hyatt and other unnamed shareholders of Current Media.

“Al-Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago,” Gore’s attorney David Boies said in a statement on Friday.

Following the January 2013 sale of the channel, $85 million of the agreed-upon purchase price was placed in an escrow account until Gore and his partners could satisfy some indemnification obligations, according to a public court filing in Delaware.

Gore and his partner received $20 million of that amount — but $65 million remained in the escrow account.

In late June, Al-Jazeera America submitted five claims against the $65 million. Gore’s attorneys said Al-Jazeera was attempting to “manufacture several ways to retain all of the escrow balance for itself in express violation of the merger agreement,” according to a statement by one of Gore’s lawyers filed in conjunction with the lawsuit.

The escrow period ended July 2, at which time Al-Jazeera was supposed to turn over the funds.

“We are asking the court to order Al-Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current’s former shareholders,” said Boies, the attorney who famously represented Gore in 2000 during the tense recount of the U.S. presidential election.

A representative for Al-Jazeera America said the network’s outside counsel was reviewing the lawsuit, and that it might offer comment later.

Gore and Hyatt filed the complaint under seal, apparently at the request of Al-Jazeera America. A copy of the court docket noted that the lawsuit was a “confidential” filing.

Gore and Hyatt said they want the document open to the public and have asked the judge to unseal the filing.

“We do not believe that our complaint should be sealed,” Boies said. “We have therefore filed the complaint under seal until the court can resolve this issue. We expect that the court will reject Al-Jazeera America’s argument.”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

2009 Fort Hood Victim On Latest Shooting: ‘I Kind Of Lost It’

By Saba Hamedy, Los Angeles Times

Amber Gadlin, 24, was driving home from the grocery store when she got the text Wednesday afternoon.

“Turn on the news,” her neighbor wrote. “My mom said there was another shooting at Fort Hood.”

Gadlin’s heart stopped.

The memories from the 2009 Fort Hood shooting came rushing back:

The four gunshot wounds in her back.

The three days she spent in the hospital.

“I started shaking and crying. I kind of lost it. I’m pretty sure I had a panic attack,” she told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday night from her home in Albuquerque, N.M., where she now lives. “It was kind of looking at the same situation in two completely different ways.”

Gadlin, who is a stay-at-home mom to her 18-month-old son, immediately called her mom.

“My mom said, ‘Oh, my God’ — and from what she told me, she lost it too,” Gadlin said.

Later, she updated her Facebook page.

“I can’t breath,” she wrote. “I am shaking so bad right now.”

About 30 people posted replies; many friends wrote that they were praying for her.

“You’ve been through hell and back, just glad you’re home and not going through it again,” one friend said.

Another wrote, “We’re out of the area physically but this pulls us right back emotionally, as I’m sure it does for so many.”

As far as safety at Fort Hood goes, Gadlin, who has arthritis in her back because of bullet fragments, said she didn’t think much could be done.

“The only way that you’re going to stop something like that from happening again is literally patting every single person down,” she said. “The last time I checked it was something like 70, 80,000 people that go on base every single day, so doing something like that is virtually impossible.”

But Gadlin thinks there could be more training to prepare for such events.

A couple of Gadlin’s friends who are still at Fort Hood posted on their Facebook pages that they were safe.

By 7 p.m., Gadlin was finally able to relax.

“I’m still thinking about it and everything,” she said. “But I’m not really panicking anymore.”

The shooting also brought back memories for Kimberly Cooke of Oneonta, N.Y., whose brother, Matthew, was shot five times at Fort Hood in 2009, and survived.

“I’m totally fine until I hear my family panicking and I know they are having flashbacks,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “I hear them tearing up on the other end of the phone line … thinking of the Fort Hood families.”

When the 2009 shooting occurred, Cooke said her family had trouble getting information about the incident.

“Nobody contacted us to tell us he was one of the victims,” she said. “The Army is not really forthcoming in with what’s going on.”

Cooke said her family still hadn’t told her brother about Wednesday’s shooting.

“He actually doesn’t know about the shooting today,” she told the Times. “My family hasn’t told him because he suffers a lot of PTSD issues. He has a lot of heavy depression. He’s still on anxiety medications, four and a half years later.”

U.S. Army Photo by John Byerly