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POSTED January 21, 2013 9:42 p.m.

MCDONALD'S SETTLES MICH. SUIT OVER ISLAMIC DIET: DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — McDonald's and one of its franchise owners agreed to pay $700,000 to members of the Muslim community to settle allegations a Detroit-area restaurant falsely advertised its food as being prepared according to Islamic dietary law.

McDonald's and Finley's Management Co. agreed Friday to the tentative settlement, with that money to be shared by Dearborn Heights resident Ahmed Ahmed, a Detroit health clinic, the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn and lawyers.

The lawsuit alleged that Ahmed bought a chicken sandwich in September 2011 at a Dearborn McDonald's but found it wasn't halal — meaning it didn't meet Islamic requirements for preparing food. Islam forbids consumption of pork, and God's name must be invoked before an animal providing meat for consumption is slaughtered.

Daklallah said there are only two McDonald's in the United States that sell halal products and both are in Dearborn, which has one of the nation's largest Arab and Muslim communities. Overall, the Detroit area is home to about 150,000 Muslims of many different ethnicities.

The locations advertise that they exclusively sell halal Chicken McNuggets and McChicken sandwiches and they have to get those products from an approved halal provider, Dakallah said. He said there was no evidence of problems on the production side, but he alleges that the Dearborn location on Ford Road sold non-halal products when it ran out of halal.


SOUTHWEST: FLYERS CAN PAY $40 TO BOARD FIRST: DALLAS (AP) — Want to board first on a Southwest Airlines flight? Now you can pay $40 for the privilege.

Southwest Airlines will let people pay to be part of their first boarding group, group "A." The airline does not have assigned seating and lets passengers board in three groups, A, B and C.

Currently, passengers can ensure they board first by buying a special business class ticket or joining a loyalty program. Now, everyone will have that option if spots are available. Passengers will be able to pay at the gate starting 45 minutes before a flight leaves.

Facing higher fuel and other costs, airlines have sought to boost revenue in a variety of ways including charging extra to check a bag or sit next to a loved one.

FREE-SPEECH RULING AIDES ONLINE FIRMS, NOT USERS: IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court has given protections against libel lawsuits to Internet publishers but declined to extend them to average citizens, a ruling that media lawyers called significant Monday.

Friday's ruling extends free-speech protections long enjoyed by newspapers and broadcasters to companies that distribute Internet content, such as book publishers, experts said. But the court declined to extend those rights to individual social media users, saying the victims of cyberbullying and online smear campaigns should be able to more easily sue for defamation.

University of Iowa journalism professor Lyombe Eko said the court "has given protection to people who are bullied on the Internet, the victims of smears or lies or accusations posted on Facebook and Twitter." People will be able to sue the attacker, but not the company that hosts the site where the statements are posted, he said.

Media lawyers said the decision modernized Iowa's libel law by extending free-speech protections to Internet publishers. They had wanted the court to go even farther and give all online communication by citizens the same protections enjoyed by the media at a time when anyone with a computer can publish information.

 

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