- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Actors Cruise, Kidman decide to separate

LOS ANGELES After 11 years of marriage, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman said yesterday that they are separating because their work is keeping them apart.

Pat Kingsley, a spokeswoman for the actors, said the decision was made regretfully.

"Citing the difficulties inherent in divergent careers, which constantly keep them apart, they concluded that an amicable separation seems best for both of them at this time," she said.

The couple have two adopted children, Connor and Isabella. It wasn't known whether custody would be shared. Miss Kingsley denied further comment.

Amtrak-CSX crash injures 68 persons

SYRACUSE, N.Y. An Amtrak passenger train ran into a freight train yesterday, injuring 68 persons, four critically.

The eastbound Amtrak train had just left the Syracuse station when it hit the back end of the 92-car CSX freight train, also eastbound, said Robert Sullivan, a spokesman for CSX Corp.

The five-car train was headed from Niagara Falls to New York carrying 98 passengers and four crew members, Amtrak said.

In addition to those critically injured, 11 persons had injuries that were considered serious, and 31 persons in all were taken to hospitals, said Phil Politano, spokesman for Rural Metro Ambulance.

Countdown begins for space station lab

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. After three weeks of delay, the countdown has begun for the launch of Destiny, NASA's billion-dollar space station laboratory.

"It's been a long, hard-fought battle to get it here, and now we're ready to go," payload manager Jon Cowart said yesterday. "Those of us on the lab team are very excited after many, many years to be this close to actually launching this thing."

Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off at sunset tomorrow with the $1.4 billion lab module, the most expensive piece of the international space station.

Kenneth Cockrell, Atlantis' commander, and his crew were supposed to deliver the Destiny lab to the space station last month, but Atlantis had to be returned to the hangar for more inspection after NASA found some flawed wiring in its inventory.

Federal court upholds Michigan stalking law

LANSING, Mich. Michigan's anti-stalking law is not an unconstitutionally vague threat to freedom of speech, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, ruled that Jerry Lee Staley should remain in prison, overturning a ruling in Staley's favor last year by U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen of Kalamazoo.

Staley is serving a 15-to-25-year state prison sentence for stalking his ex-girlfriend. During his 1994 trial, Staley was accused of breaking into the victim's home, calling her up to 15 times per day, chasing her with a baseball bat and threatening to "slice her gut" with a knife.

Under Michigan's law, people may be convicted of felony stalking if they make unwanted contact with a victim two or more times and make a "credible threat" at least once.

Convicted molester marries his victim

SEATTLE An ex-schoolteacher who spent nearly four years in prison for having sexual relations with a 15-year-old student has married his former pupil.

Mark Blilie, 46, met Toni Pala, 20, when she was 13 and began a sexual relationship with her when she was 15. He married her earlier this month, six months after his release from prison, the Seattle Times reported yesterday.

"It's certainly not illegal," said Scott O'Toole, who once prosecuted Mr. Blilie. "He's paid his debt to society."

After Mr. Blilie's conviction in 1996, he was barred from any contact with her while he was in prison. After his release in 1999, the two resumed their relationship despite a judge's order that Mr. Blilie avoid contact with her. When their relationship was discovered, Mr. Blilie served five more months in prison.

After his release last July, a judge lifted the order, and the two re-established contact.

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