- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2006

Schwarzenegger signs cell-phone ban

OAKLAND, Calif. — Drivers in California will need an ear piece or speaker to use their mobile phones while on the road under a bill signed yesterday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Motorists could face fines of up to $50 if they violate the law, which makes it an infraction to hold a cell phone while driving. It takes effect July 1, 2008, and is similar to laws in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington, D.C.

Cell-phone use is the top cause of accidents triggered by distracted drivers, according to California Highway Patrol statistics dating to 2001.

Calls made to emergency-service providers are exempt, as are drivers of emergency vehicles. Commercial vehicle drivers can use push-to-talk phones until July 1, 2011.

Mayor indicted in mischief case

JACKSON, Miss. — Mayor Frank Melton, who has been accused of being too heavy-handed in fighting crime, was indicted yesterday on charges he directed young people to use sledgehammers to smash up a residence where he suspected drugs were being used.

The charges included malicious mischief, home burglary and carrying a gun on school property.

Two police officers who served as Mr. Melton’s bodyguards were also indicted. All three were released after posting bail.

Their surrender came a day after Hinds County prosecutors announced that a grand jury would review charges stemming from the destruction of a duplex on Aug. 26 and a fight in a nightclub the same night.

Suspects thought planning a ‘Columbine’

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Two 17-year-olds suspected of plotting a shooting spree at their school were fascinated with the mass killings at Columbine High School and had homemade bombs and weapons at their homes, investigators said yesterday.

The boys were arrested Thursday at East High School after a student went to an associate principal. A detective said yesterday that one boy wanted to enact the plan Thursday but the other talked him out of it.

“If someone hadn’t come forward, we’d be talking about funerals instead of charges,” Brown County District Attorney John Zakowski said.

William C. Cornell and Shawn R. Sturtz were arrested for suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree intentional homicide and conspiracy to commit arson. Mr. Zakowski said he planned to file charges next Thursday.

Court Commissioner Jane Sequin ordered each teen jailed on $500,000 bond yesterday.

Priests to hear from abuse victims

WYNNEWOOD, Pa. — Hundreds of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese were summoned by their cardinal yesterday to hear from two adults who as children were molested by priests.

The meeting at a seminary was called as part of an effort by the church to teach members of the clergy about victims’ struggles to rebuild their lives.

Cardinal Justin Rigali said many priests have read newspaper accounts of abuse victims, but it was important for them to listen to the stories as well.

“It is extremely important for us to hear their stories firsthand so that we may see the human face and hear the human voice,” he said.

Victims’ advocates said the meeting was a positive effort by the Roman Catholic archdiocese to face its past.

From staff reports and wire dispatches.

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