- - Thursday, December 29, 2011

PENNSYLVANIA

Bus line shut down because of safety violations

PHILADELPHIA | Concerns about vehicle and driver safety led federal regulators to shut down a bus company that took passengers from several cities to New York City’s Chinatown.

U.S. transportation officials have ordered Double Happyness Travel Inc. to immediately cease operations, deeming the company’s bus service “an imminent hazard.” Investigators said they found numerous violations of rules on vehicle maintenance and driver safety, including drug and alcohol testing and records on how long drivers were working.

Double Happyness runs buses from Albany, N.Y., Baltimore and Wilmington, Del., to midtown and Chinatown in New York City. Authorities did not cite any accidents involving the company in its news release.

The company did not return a message Thursday at its corporate office in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., near Philadelphia.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it has doubled inspections and safety reviews of the nation’s 4,000 bus lines in the past five years.

MINNESOTA

Money-transfer shops stop taking Somali cash

MINNEAPOLIS | Money-transfer businesses that cater to Somali immigrants in Minnesota stopped accepting money bound for the famine-stricken East African country Thursday, a day before a key bank was due to stop processing the transactions.

Hinda Ali, a spokeswoman for the Somali-American Money Services Association in Minneapolis, said 15 money-transfer businesses stopped taking the money because they would no longer be able to execute transactions through Sunrise Community Banks. Minnesota has the nation’s largest Somali population.

“They don’t have a bank account as of tomorrow,” she said of the businesses, which are sometimes known as hawalas.

Sunrise Community Banks previously announced it would stop processing the transactions Dec. 30 because it risked violating government rules intended to fight the financing of terror groups.

On Thursday, the bank released a statement saying it wouldn’t process the transactions without a governmental waiver or similar arrangement. It said it would continue to seek one.

ALASKA

Volcano sends ash plume up to 15,000 feet in Aleutians

ANCHORAGE | A volcano in the Aleutian Islands sent up an ash cloud Thursday that prompted scientists to increase the alert level for commercial aircraft traffic.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory said satellite images at 4:02 a.m. Alaska time showed Cleveland Volcano had spewed ash 15,000 feet into the air in a cloud that moved east-southeast. U.S. Geological Survey scientist-in-charge John Power called it a small explosion.

However, it was significant enough to raise the alert level from yellow, representing elevated unrest, to orange, representing an increased potential of eruption, or an eruption under way with minor ash emissions or no emissions.

Cleveland Mountain is a 5,675-foot foot peak on uninhabited Chuginadak Island about 940 miles southwest of Anchorage. The nearest village is Nikolski on another island about 50 miles east. Previous eruptions of Cleveland Volcano were not considered a threat to Nikolski and its 18 permanent residents.

ARIZONA

Boy, 15, charged in fatal Russian roulette game

KINGMAN | A western Arizona teen has been charged with a felony stemming from the death of another teen who shot himself in the head while playing Russian roulette.

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office says Edward Charles Angelo Jr., 15, of Dolan Springs, is charged with being a prohibited possessor of a gun, a felony because he previously was convicted of felony burglary and theft counts.

Investigators say the teen took a .22-caliber gun to a Kingman home Sept. 25 and a group of friends watched as Kevin Hudgens, 16, played Russian roulette, a game in which the player puts a single round in a gun, spins the cylinder, aims it at his head and pulls the trigger.

IDAHO

Pot wrapped as gifts leads to man’s arrest

COEUR d’ALENE | A Washington state man faces felony marijuana trafficking charges after an officer found 3.3 pounds of marijuana wrapped up as Christmas gifts during a traffic stop in northern Idaho.

Jason D. Palmer, 36, of Springdale, Wash., was arrested Dec. 22 as he returned from a trip to Montana, where he had been visiting family, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported Thursday.

Kootenai County sheriff’s officials said Mr. Palmer was stopped east of Coeur d’Alene because his vehicle was repeatedly changing lanes and following other drivers too closely. The officer said he smelled marijuana as he approached the vehicle.

Mr. Palmer told the officer he was a medical marijuana cardholder and had a small amount of “medicine” in the vehicle.

A drug-sniffing dog indicated the packages contained drugs and officers opened them, court records said.

Deputies also seized $800 in cash Mr. Palmer had with him.

CALIFORNIA

Man pleads not guilty in shooting of soldier

SAN BERNARDINO | A California man pleaded not guilty Thursday to attempted murder in the homecoming party shooting of an Afghanistan war veteran.

The arraignment for Ruben Ray Jurado, 19, in San Bernardino County Superior Court lasted about two minutes. He was remanded to custody at the West Valley Detention Center and ordered to return to court Jan. 9 for a disposition hearing. Bail was kept at $1 million.

In addition to attempted murder, Mr. Jurado faces four sentencing enhancements.

Army Spc. Christopher Sullivan has been in critical condition since being shot Friday night.

Spc. Sullivan is a member of the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Ky.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Ex-worker sued over Twitter followers

COLUMBIA | An Internet company has sued one of its former employees, saying the worker cost the company thousands of dollars in lost business when he took 17,000 Twitter followers with him when he left the firm.

PhoneDog LLC filed a lawsuit in July against Noah Kravitz, a writer who worked for the Mount Pleasant, S.C., company from 2006 until last year. Attorneys for the website, which reviews mobile devices such as phones and tablets, said Mr. Kravitz owes them $340,000.

The company said when Mr. Kravitz resigned, he changed his Twitter name from PhoneDog-Noah to noahkravitz, and kept his 17,000 followers. The company said the followers should be treated like a customer list, and therefore PhoneDog’s property.

PhoneDog said Mr. Kravitz should pay $2.50 per follower per month for eight months, or a total of $340,000.

MASSACHUSETTS

Bank robbery suspect found giving bills to children

BOSTON | Boston police say a woman suspected of robbing a city bank was caught a short time later handing out dollar bills to children at a park.

Police say workers at the Citizens Bank told them a woman walked into the branch just after 3 p.m. Wednesday, passed a teller a note demanding money and said she had a gun. She then left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

A cab driver told police that a fare had told him that she just robbed a bank.

Police found the suspect, Jasmin Rivera, at the park handing out the money.

Miss Rivera was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation at her arraignment Thursday. A doctor told a judge she has serious mental health issues. A not guilty plea was entered on her behalf.

NEW YORK

Out-of-state tourist tried to check gun at 9/11 memorial

NEW YORK | A tourist from Tennessee reportedly thought she could check her loaded gun at New York City’s Sept. 11 memorial.

The New York Post reported that Meredith Graves, 39, was visiting the memorial at the World Trade Center site on Dec. 22 and noticed a sign that said “No guns allowed.” The Post reported that Miss Graves asked police where she could check her loaded pistol. She was arrested on a gun-possession charge.

Miss Graves has a legal permit to carry a weapon in Tennessee, but New York’s gun laws are stricter.

The Post said Miss Graves posted bond and is due back in court March 19. She faces 3 1/2 years in prison if convicted.

The newspaper said her attorney at Legal Aid did not return phone calls.

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