Tornado Smashes Stores

In Miss. Town; 50 Hurt

NEWTON, Miss. -- A tornado smashed into stores jammed with holiday shoppers and flipped over trucks yesterday, injuring about 50 people, at least two critically, authorities said.

"We've got major damage here. It's a mess," said Hamp Beatty, mayor of this eastern Mississippi town of about 3,700 people, 60 miles east of Jackson.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D) said there were no reports of deaths. He declared a state of emergency and directed the Mississippi National Guard to assist local authorities. Emergency personnel from nearby counties were also sent in to help.

A spokeswoman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Amy Carruth, said two people were critically injured. About half of the 50 people sent to Newton Regional Hospital suffered relatively minor injuries, said administrator Tim Thomas. Other injuries included fractures and cuts, he said.

High winds peeled back the metal walls of Newton's Wal-Mart, tore letters off its sign and crushed a nearby Subway sandwich shop. The windows were blown out of the Wal-Mart storefront, along with nearly every car in the parking lot.

Some vehicles were overturned or smashed against utility poles. Torn-away roofs, Christmas tree decorations and tree branches were scattered along the roads approaching downtown.

* NEW YORK -- A New York man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for robbery, burglary and throwing his ex-girlfriend's dog out a 23rd floor window. John Jefferson, 43, pleaded guilty this month to aggravated cruelty to animals, robbery, burglary, criminal contempt and stalking his former girlfriend. He killed the woman's dog, a terrier-poodle mix named Ribsy, in a rage on May 26. Ribsy's owner, Eugenia Miller, tearfully defended Jefferson in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan, saying he loved her dog but had been "very, very high" on crack after a two-day binge.

* PHILADELPHIA -- Authorities found, buried deep in a mountainside, a lab that they said could easily fill orders for a million tablets of the illegal club drug Ecstasy. Prosecutors said engineer Duane Michael Policelli, 51, built the lab inside two gigantic metal tanks buried beneath the long driveway of a home that he dubbed "The Citadel." Policelli faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted on charges of participation in a corrupt organization; illegal manufacturing, possession and distribution of Ecstasy; and criminal conspiracy.

* MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson gave Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore a Jan. 3 deadline for removing a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building, but suggested the order may be put on hold during an appeal.

* MIAMI -- Miami has hired former Philadelphia police commissioner John Timoney to be chief of the Miami Police Department, tarnished by police shootings and allegations of brutality. Timoney, who has also served as a deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department, is set to take the reins of the 1,100-officer department on Jan. 2.

-- From News Services