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DiCaprio helps create environmental pact

NEW YORK (AP) — Leonardo DiCaprio is taking his environmental passion up a notch.

The actor is joining with billionaire investors and philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth to create a new nonprofit environmental powerhouse charged with tackling climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

It’s called Earth Alliance and it hopes to protect ecosystems and wildlife, ensure climate justice, support renewable energy and secure indigenous rights.

DiCaprio has long championed environmentalism, with his eco-focused Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation giving out $100 million in grants for everything from lion recovery and mangrove restoration to the defense of indigenous rights and better access to affordable solar energy.

His foundation will be folded into Earth Alliance.

Sundance co-founder gets at least 6 years

AMERICAN FORK, Utah (AP) — A filmmaker who co-founded the Sundance Film Festival and produced a movie whose lead actress won an Oscar in the mid-1980s has been sentenced to at least six years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of a child.

Judge Roger Griffin recommended the parole board keep Sterling Van Wagenen in prison longer than the minimum six years. His sentence is six years to life in prison.

Van Wagenen didn’t apologize because he said it would be “meaningless,” but said he feels the consequences of his actions deeply.

Prosecutors say the 72-year-old Van Wagenen touched a young girl on two occasions between 2013 and 2015.

He co-founded a film festival with Robert Redford that became the Sundance Film Festival but hasn’t been with the organization for over 20 years.

Sentence of author’s brother commuted

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf has commuted the sentence of the brother of prize-winning author John Edgar Wideman in a 1975 killing, clearing the way for his release.

Sixty-eight-year-old Robert Wideman was sentenced to life without parole in a case that was the subject of his older brother’s 1984 acclaimed memoir “Brothers and Keepers.” The book was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle award.

Wideman was convicted in a 1975 robbery that resulted in the shooting death of car salesman Nichola Morena, although he was not the gunman. The state Board of Pardons earlier this year recommended clemency.

Wolf on Monday cited the board’s finding that Wideman had used his prison time productively and “exhibits great remorse for the victim.”

Defense attorney Mark Schwartz said his client is “elated.”

By Patricia Older

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