Friday, April 27, 2007

National and State News-Friday, April 27th

LAPORTE, Ind. (AP) - At least seven people have been hurt in storms slamming the Midwest. High winds have been racing across four states. Tornadoes hit Tennessee and Illinois. A police car was tossed over a three-foot-high fence in Indiana. The detective driving escaped with cuts and bruises.

WAYCROSS, Ga. (AP) - No relief yet for hundreds of Georgia residents repeatedly evacuated because of a stubborn wildfire. Ninety-five square miles in a parched forest and swamp have been scorched over the past week and a-half. Eighteen homes have been destroyed.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Republicans and Democrats are already maneuvering for position on a follow-up bill to the war-funding legislation President Bush plans to veto. A new version would
likely drop a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq and add goals for Iraq's government.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jack Valenti once said his ringside seat to the world of politics and Hollywood made him "the luckiest guy in the world." He was a White House aide before taking charge of the Motion Picture Association of America. Valenti died yesterday of complications from a stroke suffered in March. He was 85.

MOSCOW (AP) - Master cellist Mstislav Rostropovich has died in Moscow. Rostropovich had been living in self-imposed exile in Paris and suffered from intestinal cancer. He fought for the rights of Soviet-era dissidents, and later played Bach suites below the crumbling Berlin Wall. He was 80.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Rainstorms dumping two inches or more are prompting flood warnings today in parts of southeastern Pennsylvania. The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for Chester and central Bucks and central Montgomery counties as the storms moved through, first until 4 a-m and now extended to 7:45. Officials say water is over roads in some areas in Montgomery and Bucks counties and some roads are closed. Officials are warning motorists not to drive into water over roads where the pavement cannot be seen and may be washed out.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - State College police say they will announce criminal charges today in an off-campus apartment confrontation that involved members of the Penn State football
team. Police yesterday called the matter a "burglary, criminal trespass, simple assault incident." Several players were interviewed by police, but it was unclear whether any player will be charged. Penn State coach Joe Paterno said last weekend that the investigation had not become a distraction. Police say they were told that about 10 men pushed their way into an apartment shortly after midnight on April first and assaulted several partygoers. Investigators say the clash apparently stemmed from a "street confrontation" about an hour earlier. A university spokesman says residents of the apartment received a letter a few days later asking them to drop the charges and signed, "The Voice of the Penn State Student Body."

WASHINGTON (AP) - U-S Senator Bob Casey says he wants to see a tax on what he calls "excess" profits in order to help poor people pay for gasoline. The Pennsylvania Democrat's proposal was announced on the same day that Exxon Mobil Corporation reported higher first-quarter profits. Casey wants a 50 percent tax on major oil companies profits' from crude oil priced at more than 50 dollars per barrel, where it has been trading for most of the past two years. The bill, similar to others proposed by members of Congress in recent years, also would eliminate oil industry tax breaks and raise the royalties companies pay to the government for offshore drilling leases. The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the oil industry, says the earnings of the oil and gas industries are similar -- as a portion of overall revenue -- to those of other industries.

SHERBURNE, N.Y. (AP) - A New York company has begun voluntarily recalling pet foods manufactured with a certain shipment of rice protein concentrate that officials say may be contaminated. The U-S Food and Drug Administration says rice protein concentrate shipped to Chenango Valley Pet Foods may be contaminated with melamine. Melamine is an industrial chemical used to make plastics and fertilizers. It can lead to illness or fatalities in animals if consumed. The pet foods were sold to customers in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, who in turn sold the products to their customers through catalog mail orders or retail outlets. No illnesses or injuries have been reported to date. Pet owners who purchased the products should not use them and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at: 610-821-0608.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Governor Ed Rendell's administration wants to reduce the amount of money the state's student-loan agency must contribute toward health benefits for retirees. State Budget Secretary Michael Masch says that would free up an additional eleven (m) million dollars for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency to spend on state grants to college students next year. Masch says the agency asked the administration in December to look into its contribution rate because they believed it was high compared to that of other state agencies. The agency originally planned to use 60 (m) million dollars from its student-loan proceeds for the grant program. Spokesman Keith New says reducing the contribution requirement, coupled with other savings, would allow 75 (m) million dollars to be used for student grants.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal judge dismissed a former Temple University student's lawsuit alleging that he was denied a master's degree because of his political views. Former graduate student Christian DeJohn says he was denied his degree because of his views on the Iraq war. Attorneys for the university say DeJohn was a marginal learner who turned in an awful thesis. Before a jury could take up the case, U-S District Judge Stewart Dalzell ruled that DeJohn's free speech and equal protection rights had not been violated. University attorneys hailed the decision, saying the case was not about free speech but about the right of professors to grade poor work. Attorney David French of the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, says his client was disappointed with the decision. The judge earlier upheld DeJohn's objections to former provisions of the university's sexual harassment policy. Yesterday, he barred Temple from reimplementing the policy but awarded DeJohn only one dollar in damages. University attorneys have appealed but say the policy has already been changed.


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