Westboro Baptist Church first gained notoriety in 1998, when members picketed at the funeral of Matthew Shepherd, who was murdered because he was gay.
Since then, the members have protested at the funerals of public figures such as Elizabeth Edwards, children killed in bus accidents and soldiers killed in war. Shirley Phelps-Roper, the church spokeswoman, says the members want God to punish Americans for tolerating homosexuality. They picket funerals to make people angry, she says: They want people to reject God and be condemned to hell.
The First Amendment protects the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to hold anti-gay protests outside military funerals, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The 8-1 ruling backs an appeals court decision to throw out a $5 million victory for Albert Snyder, who sued the fundamentalist church after its members picketed his son's funeral.
Late last year, activists attacked websites belonging to companies that refused to do business with WikiLeaks, an online group that has disclosed classified U.S. government documents.
When the activists, who called themselves Anonymous, found out it was being investigated by the Internet security company HBGary Federal, it hacked the company's servers and stole thousands of private e-mails. And then it dumped them onto the Internet.
It was an embarrassment for the security company to get hacked — but the content of some of those e-mails is raising concerns.
Ten days after the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reported its working theory about the deadly Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion, mine owner Massey Energy presented its latest findings Friday to reporters and the families of the 29 miners killed.
"Our conclusion to date is different," said Massey Vice President and General Counsel Shane Harvey.