Monday, March 26, 2007

National and State News-Monday, March 26th

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush still stands behind Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, even as more Republican lawmakers are questioning whether he can hang on. On the Sunday talk shows, Senators Arlen Specter, Lindsey Graham and Chuck Hagel all voiced concerns about Gonzales' truthfulness in explaining the firings of eight U-S attorneys.

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) - An Australian man is scheduled to be arraigned today on charges that he trained with al-Qaida and fought for the Taliban in Afghanistan. David Hicks is the first Guantanamo detainee charged under new rules for military
trials. Hicks has been held since 2002.

LONDON (AP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the detention of 15 British sailors and marines by Iran is a "very serious situation." Blair says the Britons were not operating in
Iranian waters despite what Tehran says. Iran says the Britons could be tried for illegally entering Iranian waters off Iraq.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The largest study of child care and development in the United States shows a link between length of time in day care and behavior. The more time children spend in
child care, the more likely they are to have behavior problems in sixth grade. Also, quality child care resulted in higher vocabulary scores than low quality care.

UNDATED (AP) - Men's college basketball's Final Four are set. A rematch of last year's championship game will feature Florida against U-C-L-A. In the other semifinal, Georgetown will take on Ohio State. Georgetown defeated North Carolina in overtime yesterday.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Three reports say Pennsylvania's economic growth and quality of life are being undermined by outdated laws governing how municipalities function. The studies were conducted by the Pennsylvania Economy League, Penn State University and the Washington-based Brookings Institution. They say that improvement will come if municipal officials are given the ability, for example, to pool health-care costs or save money by regionalizing services. The economy league study says half of all Pennsylvanians live in
municipalities where taxes are rising, available services are dwindling and the population is moving away.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Negotiators for the Community College of Philadelphia and about 14-hundred faculty and staff have reached a tentative contract agreement that could end the faculty's nearly two-week-old walkout. The agreement will go to the faculty tonight for a ratification vote. College officials say if the faculty agrees, and it if the pact is approved by the schoo's board of trustees, students could return to class tomorrow. Faculty members have been told to return to work today. Union spokesman John Braxton says the agreement would allow
workers to have health care without co-payments. Salary was another major sticking point in the walkout that began March 13th. The college has about 37-thousand students.

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Police in Bloomsburg say they could know today whether skeletal remains found in the woods are those of missing university student Garrett Jay. The York County man was a student at Bloomsburg University when he disappeared ten months ago.
Police say clothing and personal items found with the skeleton on Saturday are consistent with what Jay would have had at the time.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Some Republican senators are questioning whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is being truthful about the firing of federal prosecutors. Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He says if the panel finds out Gonzales hasn't been "candid and truthful," that would be "a very compelling reason" for him to go. Gonzales is scheduled to testify before the committee next month. Specter says he'll wait until then to decide whether he'll continue to support Gonzales. Senator Chuck Hagel has already made up his mind on one point. The Nebraska Republican says Gonzales "does have a credibility problem." He adds the nation can't have its chief law enforcement officer "with a cloud hanging over his credibility." Specter appeared on N-B-C's "Meet the Press," and Hagel was on A-B-C's "This Week."

PITTSBURGH (AP) - With a new arena and a casino on the horizon and other projects underway, the Pittsburgh region is about to go on the largest construction boom since the late 1990s. Richard Stanizzo, business manager of the Pittsburgh Building and Construction Trades Council, says the multiyear projects may at times strain the labor pool. But, he says, that's a good problem. The council is the umbrella organization representing 20-thousand trades workers in the greater Pittsburgh region. Jason Fincke of the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania says carpenters and iron workers are already at full employment. Stanizzo says the council will be seeking out workers, possibly from as far away as Erie and Altoona, to meet demand.

GUYS MILLS, Pa. (AP) - The Erie National Wildlife Refuge is going native, plant-wise.
Administrators at the nearly nine-thousand acre refuge no longer plan to provide land to farmers to raise crops and instead want to reintroduce native vegetation. Refuge manager Tom Roster says plans call for farming to be phased out over eight years, beginning next year.
That means farmers will have to find someplace else to raise some crops. Farmers didn't pay a lease, but instead gave 20 percent of their yield to the refuge, which went to feed and shelter migrating waterfowl and other wildlife. Refuge officials say farming provided little benefit. They also say the refuge is downsizing and doesn't have the time or staff to devote to crops.
The 48-year-old refuge is in Crawford County about 25 miles south of Erie.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Zoo and P-P-G Aquarium will close tomorrow through Thursday for renovations. Zoo officials say they wanted to ensure visitor safety during
the work, which includes painting and paving. The zoo will resume its normal schedule on Friday.


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