Friday, March 23, 2007

National and State News-Friday, March 23rd

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - A bill that sets a deadline for withdrawing U-S troops from Iraq faces a very uncertain future. Democrats say passage in the House today would mark a major step toward ending the war. House leaders are increasingly confident of passage but many senators oppose a timetable and President Bush has promised to veto the bill.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The United Nations Security Council is poised to vote on a resolution that imposes new sanctions on Iran for continuing to enrich uranium. A vote could come as early as tonight.

WASHINGTON (AP) - One Democratic consultant says presidential candidates often are measured by how they respond under stress. And he says John Edwards has done as well as can be expected in coming forward quickly with word that his wife's cancer had returned.
Edwards is staying in the race but says he'll be by his wife's side whenever she needs him.

CAMERON, Texas (AP) - A Texas jury has acquitted a man whose six dogs fatally mauled his elderly neighbor in her front yard. The victim's husband says he was told the jury acquitted because there was no evidence the dogs were dangerous before the November 2005

UNDATED (AP) - College students struggling with tuition, books and other expenses have a new financial worry. The cost of birth control pills at student health centers is soaring, because
companies are ending the deep discounts they had provided to colleges. Health officials fear some women will turn to less effective contraception or stop using it altogether.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - "Pride," the film about Philadelphia's inner-city youth swimming program, opens today. The movie stars actor Terrence Howard as the program's coach and
founder, Jim Ellis. It tells the tale of Ellis' first year working for the Philadelphia Department of Recreation. That's when he took a group of city kids with no formal training and turned them into an official swim team. Ellis says he had to watch it three or four times before he
realized it was really about him, not just about his team. That realization, he says, was heavy.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - House Speaker Dennis O'Brien is asking his bipartisan reform panel to shift its focus to an ambitious array of topics. The next set of subjects includes the state law governing the release of government records and how state campaigns are financed. He also wants recommendations about reorganizing the House Ethics Committee, a code of conduct for state representatives, a smaller Legislature, the policy for granting staff bonuses and term
limits. O'Brien is asking the panel to complete deliberations by this summer so that the legislative committees can consider the recommendations. A little more than a week ago, the House of Representatives adopted nearly all of the changes the commission had recommended
regarding the chamber's internal operations.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Board members and employees of Pennsylvania's student-loan agency will face new limitations on travel expenses. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency approved the new policy at a public meeting yesterday. Just days ago, the agency under court order released expense records detailing how board members spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at trips to retreats at upscale resorts from California to
Virginia. While there, they billed the agency for bar tabs, golf outings and spa treatments, as well as hotel rooms, elaborate banquets and the use of state-owned airplanes. The new travel policy will not reimburse things like airline upgrades and limousines, and replaces a policy that was far less specific. It will also require the agency's 20-member board, 16 of whom are state lawmakers, to take per-diem business travel reimbursements established by the Internal Revenue Service. That's instead of being reimbursed for the full cost of their lodging and meals.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Rene Portland is out as Penn State women's basketball coach.
Portland has resigned after 27 years with the Lady Lions. She compiled a record of 606 wins and 236 losses, but also battled allegations that she discriminated against lesbian players.
The university says in a statement that Portland resigned Wednesday night. The move was announced yesterday. Portland built the team into a powerhouse, although the program
had slipped to subpar records in recent seasons. During her tenure, the coach had a string of discrimination allegations lobbed against her. Most recently, Portland settled a lawsuit filed by a former player, Jennifer Harris, who claimed that Portland had a "no-lesbian" policy on her team. Terms of the settlement were not announced.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Jauquin Byrd has been convicted of the stabbing and bludgeoning death of a catering office receptionist in January 2006. When he heard the verdict last night, Byrd immediately began shoving and kicking courtroom deputies as his family members screamed obscenities. A Montgomery County jury deliberated five-and-a-half hours
before convicting Byrd of first-degree murder, possession of instruments of crime, and lying to authorities in the death of Sarah Boone at Cricket Catering in Ardmore. Deputies handcuffed Byrd and hustled him from the courtroom.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Penn National Gaming says it will close its off-track betting center in Cambria County on June 20th. Manager Alan Flynn says business has been declining despite the company's best efforts to keep the center in Richland Township afloat. Penn National bought the property in 1998 from Ladbrokes and converted it into a multi-entertainment complex. The company says it will work with its 35 employees to find them jobs at other Penn National sites or in the area. Flynn says all eligible workers will get a severance package and
an extension of benefits.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The inbound lanes of Route 28 near Pittsburgh will remain closed this weekend while crews work to clean up a landslide -- and to shore up the hillside that gave way.
PennDOT officials say the outbound lanes will remain open, but inbound traffic will be detoured across the Highland Park Bridge until Monday morning's rush hour. The landslide happened just before the Route Eight interchange in O'Hara Township early yesterday, closing the inbound lanes to traffic. Route 28 is a major artery connecting Pittsburgh with its northern and eastern suburbs and carries about 80-thousand vehicles a day. PennDOT is trying to figure out what caused the landslide. It occurred in an area of the highway that typically doesn't have
those problems.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Wal-Mart says it has taken over control of its portion of a proposed shopping complex in Kilbuck Township, where a massive landslide occurred last year.
Wal-Mart says it has full operational control of the site, relieving the developer A-S-C Development and its subsidiary, Kilbuck Properties. A landslide on September 19th sent rock, dirt and debris onto Route 65, closing the highway for two weeks. One lane still remains
closed. Wal-Mart says it plans to stabilize the site. The state Department of Environmental Protection says it has been notified of Wal-Mart's decision. The D-E-P says that only work
related to ensuring permanent stability of the site will be considered.


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