Tuesday, March 27, 2007

National and State News-Tuesday, March 27th

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) - A former kangaroo skinner who has been detained at the U-S camp for terror suspects in Cuba since 2002 could be back in his native Australia by the end of the year. David Hicks has pleaded guilty to helping al-Qaida fight the
United States. The U-S has agreed to let Hicks serve his sentence in Australia.

WASHINGTON (AP) - F-B-I Director Robert Mueller is to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee today on F-B-I abuse of the Patriot Act. The Justice Department's inspector general has outlined instances of illegal or improper gathering of telephone, e-mail and financial records of Americans and foreigners while pursuing terrorists.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran says 15 British sailors and marines are in good health and being treated humanely. Iran says it detained the 15 on Friday because they had trespassed into Iranian territory. Britain disputes that and is demanding their release.

JERUSALEM (AP) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says peace in the Middle East is possible before President Bush leaves office. She says the Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed to meet every two weeks to discuss day to day issues, as well as the "political horizon."

UNDATED (AP) - The only female umpire in professional baseball is about to get a taste of the big leagues. Ria Cortesio will be on the bases Thursday for an exhibition game between Arizona and the Chicago Cubs. A woman ump hasn't called a big league exhibition game since 1989, and no woman has ever worked in the majors during the regular season.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state Senate's Transportation Committee will hold a hearing today on Governor Ed Rendell's plan to impose a new gross profits tax on oil companies.
Rendell proposed the new tax last month as a way to raise more than 700 (m) million dollars annually to fund the state's mass transit agencies. Legislators have questioned whether it's possible to keep the companies from passing on the cost to motorists.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell will release a report today with the findings from an evaluation of Pennsylvanias response to the Valentine's Day snow storm. Rendell says he also will propose changes to the state's emergency response system. Rendell's transportation chief, Allen Biehler, says the report will blame local officials as well as the state
Department of Transportation. The storm left a colossal traffic jam on Interstate 78. Hundreds
of motorists spent a frigid night in their vehicles, many without food or water.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Classes resume today at Community College of Philadelphia.
Employees had been on strike for nearly two weeks before negotiators worked out a deal on Sunday. About 14-hundred employees had been on strike, leading to classes being canceled for about 37-thousand students.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Republican lawmakers say they have reservations about imposing a new payroll tax to help expand state-subsidized health insurance. Governor Ed Rendell is calling for a payroll tax on an estimated 100-thousand-plus employers that do not currently insure their employees. The tax rate would be three percent for each of the first three years, then increase to three-and-a-half percent in the fourth year.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The top brass in the Philadelphia Police Department is taking on street duty. Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson says every officer from captain on up will work four hours, one night a week, in uniform in a high-crime area. Johnson says that includes himself, plus about 150 captains, inspectors, chief inspectors and deputy commissioners.
Johnson says it will give regular patrol officers more flexibility and increase police presence in those areas. He says the order starts Monday and will continue indefinitely. The city already has nearly a hundred homicides so far this year and March isn't over yet. The homicide clearance rate has dropped to 56 percent from 62 percent in January. A big problem is
witnesses who aren't willing to talk to police.

EASTON, Pa. (AP) - The widow of an Easton police officer who was fatally shot by another police officer has filed a 20 (m) million dollar lawsuit. Carin Sollman alleges that the death of her husband, officer Jesse Sollman, was a result of a lack of safety procedures and discipline in the police department. Sollman was killed in a hall outside a gun-cleaning room and armory after he and the officer who fired the shot, Matthew Renninger, returned from a training exercise.
Renninger was on paid leave for more than a year after the shooting, and then was allowed to retire. His attorney, Gary Asteak, says Renninger should not be named in the lawsuit.
A state grand jury said Sollman's death was an accident and recommended that no charges be filed against Renninger, but it did recommend firing him and criticized a lack of policies and
procedures in the department.


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