Tuesday, February 27, 2007

National and State News-Tuesday, Feb. 27th

BAGRAM, Afghanistan (AP) - It's not clear how many people died in a suicide attack outside a U-S base in Afghanistan. An Afghan official says 20 were killed but NATO says three died, including a U-S soldier. A-P reporters at the scene saw at least eight bodies. Vice President Cheney was at the base but he's fine.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A troubling new report to Congress on military readiness. The assessment from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says a military taxed by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan might
not be able to quickly and fully respond in the event of another crisis.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Despite the threat of further sanctions by the West, Iran's foreign minister says today that his country will never suspend uranium enrichment. That's something the U-S says is essential before any negotiations between Washington and Tehran over Iran's nuclear activities.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A three-member Florida appeals court will consider who should get custody of Anna Nicole Smith's body, almost three weeks after her death. Their decision means Smith's body can't yet be taken to the Bahamas for burial. Smith's mother wants her buried in Texas.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - It was all a hoax. Two North Carolina college students say they staged a Valentine's Day breakup that featured singers and hundreds of spectators. The fake breakup became an instant hit on the YouTube Internet site. Turns out the couple wasn't even dating.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A cadre of retired Philadelphia detectives brought flowers and a sense of regret to the grave of a small boy. Despite 50 years of sleuthing, the now white-haired men still don't know the child's name or that of his killer. But they maintain hope that police will someday identify the victim known as
the "Boy in the Box." Officer Elmer Palmer found the body in a thicket in the city's Fox Chase section on February 25th, 1957. Palmer was answering a call about something, perhaps a doll, seen inside a discarded
bassinet box. He said at yesterday's service that realizing it was a person is "something you never forget."

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A new report released says Philadelphia has improved in recent years because of a building boom and renewed optimism, but critical problems persist. The Pew Charitable Trusts report says Philadelphia's biggest problems are its high tax burden and lagging school test scores. Also, the city has declining numbers of people and jobs and an upswing in poverty levels and violent crime. However, it also pointed out successes. There's more optimism and activism by movers and shakers and an expansion of the
tax-abatement program that has fueled a building boom. There are also efforts by universities to improve their surrounding neighborhoods, and economic growth spurred by tourism and an improved airport.

FAIRLESS HILLS, Pa. (AP) - The 17-year-old Bucks County girl most seriously injured in a school bus crash last month has returned home from a hospital. That's according to the lawyer representing the family of Ashley Zauflik. She was initially discharged from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday but was readmitted Friday because of an intestinal blockage. Zauflik was the most seriously hurt of the 17 Pennsbury High School students injured when the parked bus suddenly accelerated into a crowd outside Pennsbury High School and then hit a retaining wall on Jan 12. The driver said he couldn't stop the bus. Her left leg was amputated to save her from a life-threatening bacterial infection.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The older brother of Philadelphia Mayor John Street is due in court today in Moorestown, New Jersey. T- Milton Street Senior says he will show up to take care of the unpaid traffic tickets that led to his arrest last week. Yesterday, Milton Street was in federal court in Philadelphia. He is accused of failing to report two (m) million dollars in airport consulting fees to the Internal Revenue Service.
A judge agreed to appoint a new lawyer for him since he couldn't agree with his first court-appointed lawyer on a legal strategy. Milton Street has has also made news by saying he's running for mayor of Philadelphia. But questions about his residency could keep him off the ballot.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A group of Muslim clerics and scholars from the Middle East served up plates of pasta and pizza at a downtown Philadelphia homeless shelter. It's part of an exchange program organized with the help of the federal government. The eight men from Jordan, Egypt and Syria smiled as they put food on the men's plates and spoke enthusiastically about taking home stories of what they learned at Saint John's Hospice. The shelter is run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The hospice's administrator answered questions from the Muslim visitors, including whether they served non-U-S citizens. They do,
except for 12 beds that have to go to U-S residents because of funding requirements. The shelter typically serves 300 to 400 men a day.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressman Joe Sestak says he will fight to have Boeing keep a 15 (b) billion dollar contract to make 141 helicopters for the Air Force. Boeing plans to build the helicopters in Ridley Park, which is in Sestak's district. Today, the auditing arm of Congress says the Air Force was "inconsistent" in its requirements when it awarded the contract. The Government Accountability Office said the Air Force should
reopen discussions with all competitors and request revised proposals. Sestak says he met with Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne two weeks ago about the matter. He says Wynne felt very strongly that the contract was awarded properly. The Air Force doesn't have to follow the G-A-O's recommendation.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell's press secretary is taking a three-month leave to become spokeswoman for Congressman Bob Brady's mayoral campaign in Philadelphia. Kate Philips says she plans to start her new job tomorrow. She intends to return to Harrisburg after the May 15th primary. Philips says Rendell, a former two-term Philadelphia mayor, has assured her that her job would be waiting for her.
Philips says Rendell's willingness to grant her leave should not be interpreted as an endorsement of Brady in the Democratic primary. She says Rendell does not intend to endorse any candidate in the mayoral race.
Democrats outnumber Republicans five-to-one in Pennsylvania's largest city, so the winner of the primary is heavily favored to win in November.


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