- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2007

NEW YORK

Feuding spouses lose divorce bid

NEW YORK — Feuding spouses who built a wall through their three-story row house because neither would give it up cannot divorce, a jury ruled.

Jurors on Wednesday shot down the “cruel and inhuman treatment” Chana Taub cites as grounds for divorcing Simon Taub after more than 20 years of marriage and four children.

“I’m dismissing the whole case. That’s it,” Justice Carolyn Demarest said.

To revive the case, Mrs. Taub would have to file it again, on new grounds. The case is one of the strangest divorces New York has seen, mainly because of the wall. A judge ordered the couple to put it up because neither wanted to move out.

OKLAHOMA

Spring tornadoes hit Plains

OKLAHOMA CITY — A tornado as wide as two football fields carved a devastating path through an eastern Colorado town as a massive spring storm swept from the Rockies into the Plains, killing at least four persons in three states, authorities said yesterday.

Sixty-five tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska on Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. One twister killed an Oklahoma couple as it blew their home to pieces. A Texas man was found dead in the tangled debris of his trailer, and a woman died early yesterday after the Colorado tornado threw her into a tree.

The massive storm system stretched from South Dakota to Texas yesterday morning, threatening flash flooding in central Nebraska and Kansas and more severe weather farther south.

Some of the worst devastation was in Holly, Colo., where at least seven persons were injured when the tornado plowed through the town late Wednesday. Dozens of homes were damaged, and the streets and yards were littered with broken power lines, tree limbs and debris.

CALIFORNIA

UCLA reverses security fee decision

LOS ANGELES — The University of California at Los Angeles has decided not to charge high security fees to a student group planning an immigration debate that has received threats of violence.

“Thankfully, UCLA has recognized that it cannot allow the most disruptive of the community to shut down speech with which they disagree simply by threatening violent protest,” said Robert Shibley, vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

FIRE fought the school’s decision to charge a student group $12,000 to $15,000 for 46 extra security guards at the May 1 forum.

Because of the steep fees, student group Liberty, Objectivity, Greed Individualism Capitalism (LOGIC) canceled a Feb. 6 debate between border security advocate Carl Braun, director of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps of California, and open immigration advocate Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute.

GEORGIA

‘Barbie Bandits’ went on spending spree

MARIETTA — Two young women charged with stealing nearly $11,000 in a bank heist went on a shopping spree, ate a meal and gave money to the homeless afterward, a police detective testified yesterday, as the judge lowered the bond for one suspect.

Detective Brad McEntyre testified during a probable cause hearing for Heather Johnston. Magistrate Court Judge Frank Cox agreed that there was probable cause to pursue the charges against Miss Johnston. He also agreed to reduce her bond from $26,000 to $10,000.

Miss Johnston, 19, and Ashley Miller, 18, the so-called “Barbie Bandits,” are charged with felony theft and marijuana possessions and have remained in jail since the Feb. 27 heist. Miss Miller has waived her right to the hearing.

Detective McEntyre said the pair, who were videotaped wearing sunglasses and laughing as they appeared to rob a Bank of America in Acworth, Ga., shopped at two upscale malls, gave their waiter a big tip after eating and went to a swank hair salon after the theft. He said Miss Johnston had $1,000 in her bra when apprehended.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Police recover stolen rare books

MADISON — Police acting on a tip recovered more than 400 rare books, including works from the 17th and 18th centuries, that were stolen from an estate here last month.

No arrests have been made, but Police Chief John Pickering said that clues to the $65,000 theft were found at the recovery site.

NEW MEXICO

‘Runaway bride’ inspires police ad

ALBUQUERQUE — Jennifer Wilbanks, the bride-to-be who skipped town just days before her planned wedding in Georgia, has a new starring role in New Mexico — as the inspiration for a police recruiting billboard.

The Albuquerque Police Department plans to reveal the ad on 10 digital billboards across the city next week, the Albuquerque Journal reported yesterday.

“Running away from your current job? Call APD recruiting,” the ad reads, above a photo of Officer Trish Hoffman grabbing the veil of a bride, adorned in gown and wedding shoes.

Officer Hoffman received national attention two years ago after Miss Wilbanks landed in Albuquerque, saying she had been abducted before she was set to marry. Photos of her leading Miss Wilbanks through the airport with a blanket over the runaway bride’s head appeared on televisions and in newspapers across the country. Now, she will be on billboards.

The ad will be up for a month at a cost of $16,000.

OHIO

Defendants banned from court cafeteria

CLEVELAND — No soup for you: A man and a woman accused of scamming stores out of millions of dollars have been banned from the courthouse cafeteria after a police officer said the two were spotted lifting food.

“If they do that in here, then what are they doing out there on bond?” said Richmond Heights police Sgt. Chuck Duffy.

Sgt. Duffy said Joan Hall, 65, loaded a takeout lunch into a plastic bag and set it atop a newspaper rack near the checkout counter. Then, he said, Roger Neff, 75, moved the lunch to the top of a trash can, where they waited for a few minutes, then left with the lunch.

Judge Nancy Fuerst banned them from the cafeteria during the trial. “You bring your lunch,” she said.

PENNSYLVANIA

Senator’s son charged in friend’s suicide

PITTSBURGH — The 17-year-old son of a state senator was charged yesterday with illegally possessing his father’s handgun — a weapon a teenage friend used to kill himself last year.

The filing of the misdemeanor count against Bobby Regola was confirmed by his attorney. Prosecutors cannot comment on the teen’s case, which is closed because he is a minor.

His father, state Sen. Robert Regola, was charged Tuesday with perjury, false swearing, reckless endangerment and illegal possession of a weapon by a minor.

If Bobby Regola is found delinquent because of the charge — the juvenile court equivalent to being found guilty — he could be detained in a juvenile facility or placed on probation up to his 21st birthday.

SOUTH CAROLINA

High school student shoots self in leg

MYRTLE BEACH — A high school student with a gun in his pocket shot himself in the leg yesterday during science class, authorities said.

The 18-year-old was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, police Capt. David Knipes said. Authorities did not say whether the shooting was accidental, but no charges were filed.

“He did not provide us any details,” Capt. Knipes said.

The student, Damien Julius Singleton, led the school’s basketball team in scoring this past season and scored more than 1,000 points in his career, according to the Sun News of Myrtle Beach. He was also a wide receiver on the football team.

More than 100 parents came to the school to pick up their children, but classes were not dismissed, the newspaper reported.

TEXAS

Office building fire kills 3, injures 6

HOUSTON — Fire ravaged the upper floors of a six-story office building, killing three persons and injuring at least six others as firefighters using ladder trucks helped survivors escape through broken windows.

Dawn Herring was in a fourth-floor office when the fire started late Wednesday afternoon and said she never heard an alarm.

“We didn’t realize there was a fire going on until I heard somebody scream,” Miss Herring told CNN yesterday. When she and her colleagues tried to leave, they found the hallways and both stairways filled with smoke.

“We had no other choice but to go back into the office,” she said. “We finally broke a window and we waited and waited. It seemed like forever for the fire department to bring the ladder over to our window.”

Authorities think the fire broke out in a medical supply firm on the fifth floor, but the cause remained under investigation.

WEST VIRGINIA

Massey gets top fine after mine fire deaths

LOGAN — The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has levied a $1.5 million fine against Massey Energy Co. for 25 violations that contributed to the deaths of two West Virginia coal miners in January 2006.

“The number and severity of the safety violations that occurred demonstrated a reckless disregard for safety,” MSHA Director Richard Stickler said during a press conference.

The fine is the largest the agency has imposed for a coal mining accident, surpassing the mark of $540,000 for a January 1991 methane gas explosion that killed two miners at another West Virginia mine.

Miners Don I. Bragg and Ellery Elvis Hatfield died in a Jan. 19, 2006, fire after getting lost in thick, choking smoke inside the Aracoma Coal Co.’s Alma No. 1 underground mine in Logan County. Aracoma is a subsidiary of Massey, based in Richmond.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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