- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

Miami bans holding phones while driving
MIAMI Miami-Dade County has voted to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving, a county spokeswoman said yesterday.
The South Florida county of 2.2 million people would require motorists caught talking on their cellular phones as of October 2002 to pay a fine or take a traffic safety course.
The fine would be $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses. Using hands-free devices such as headsets would still be legal.
The county commission voted 6-5 for the measure Tuesday, and County Mayor Alex Penelas is expected to sign it.

Judge puts widow back in the money
LOS ANGELES Former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith won a victory in federal court as a bankruptcy judge voided a Texas court's decision that had declared her ineligible for a $474 million inheritance.
Judge Samuel Bufford agreed Tuesday with Miss Smith's claim that the Texas judgment violated federal laws, an attorney for Miss Smith said.
Miss Smith has fought for the right to claim an inheritance from her late husband, J. Howard Marshall II. His son, E. Pierce Marshall, has argued that Miss Smith has no claim to the oil tycoon's estate.
In December, Judge Bufford ruled that Miss Smith was due $474 million. E. Pierce Marshall filed suit in Texas and a jury found that Miss Smith had no claim to the estate. Tuesday's ruling voided that decision.

Davis' popularity remains low
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Although not an official candidate for governor, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan leads incumbent Gov. Gray Davis in a new statewide poll.
The Democratic governor's popularity remains at the same low level it fell to last spring during the statewide energy crisis, according to the Field Institute poll.
Half of voters oppose Mr. Davis' re-election in November 2002, while 43 percent said they would be inclined to re-elect him.
Mr. Riordan, a Republican, is favored by 45 percent and Mr. Davis by 42 percent among registered voters in a potential 2002 contest.

State workers vote for Minnesota strike
ST. PAUL, Minn. Two unions representing nearly 28,000 Minnesota state workers have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike, and Gov. Jesse Ventura has ordered the National Guard to be ready to fulfill vital functions if they do.
The walkout deadline was pushed from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Last-ditch talks resume today on two-year contracts for the workers, who make up more than half of the state work force. Their former contracts expired June 30.

Murder charges dropped against boy
CHARLOTTE, N.C. Second-degree murder charges were dismissed yesterday against a 9-year-old boy after authorities concluded he was incompetent to stand trial for strangling his 5-year-old brother in 1999.
A forensic psychologist found the boy did not understand the seriousness of the charges against him and was unable to assist his attorney in his defense.
A prosecutor agreed to dismiss the charge after Judge Yvonne Mims Evans ruled the boy was not competent.

Miners' families say warnings ignored
BROOKWOOD, Ala. Families of men caught in two deep mine explosions accused the coal company of ignoring repeated warnings about gas levels before last weekend's disaster, which killed 13.
For a month, workers warned Jim Walter Resources Inc. that the mine had dangerously high levels of volatile methane gas, said Mike Boyd, whose brother, Clarence "Bit" Boyd, died in the blast.
Rather than halt production, the company kept miners working, Mr. Boyd said.

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