Tuesday, April 24, 2007

National and State News-Tuesday, April 24th

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush and Congressional Democrats are heading toward a showdown over funding for the Iraq war, with Democrats seeking to tie (b) billions of dollars to a U-S troop withdrawal. Bush promises a veto. Democrats say military might alone won't make Iraq a democracy.

BAGHDAD (AP) - American troops are facing increasing danger as they enforce the security crackdown in Baghdad, and a bombing yesterday is evidence of that. Nine U-S troops were killed in an attack on a patrol base in Diyala province. It was the deadliest attack on American ground forces since December of 2005.

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - A House committee holds a hearing today on misleading information from the U-S military regarding the friendly fire death of football star-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan. Among the lingering questions: was a U-S drone flying overhead and if the incident was captured on videotape, where is the footage?

TOKYO (AP) - It's getting more difficult for General Motors to hold on to its title as world's top automaker. Rival Toyota became the world's top auto seller in the first three months of the year, selling more cars than G-M for the first time.

MOSCOW (AP) - Ordinary Russians get their chance today to pay their last respects to former President Boris Yeltsin, who died of heart failure yesterday. His body will be placed for public viewing at the Christ The Savior Cathedral, a vast, gleaming church that is the most potent symbol of the Russian Orthodox revival after decades of Communist atheism.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Starting today, instructors and coaches at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities will vote on whether to authorize a strike. The vote continues through Thursday. A union leader says negotiations are continuing with the State System of Higher Education, but the union wants to be prepared in case talks break down. A State System spokesman says about 25-thousand students who enroll in summer courses would be affected if a strike happens over the summer.

GIBSONIA, Pa. (AP) - A student from Allegheny County wounded in the Virginia Tech massacre is back home. Nineteen-year-old Hilary Strollo was released from the hospital
Monday and was home in Gibsonia not long after. She was released a week after she was shot three times in the abdomen, head and buttocks. Yesterday was also the first day of class at Virginia Tech since last week's shooting rampage. Officials say attendance was at about
75 percent.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - No one was reported injured when a six-alarm fire swept through a warehouse near the Delaware River in Philadelphia overnight. Flying embers forced the closing of the Tacony-Palmyra bridge that carries Route 70 traffic across the river to New Jersey.
The fire broke out about midnight in a warehouse that Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says was filled with shipping supplies. Motorists had to find alternatives to the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge for several hours. Ayers says the fire swept through the warehouse as firefighters battled wind and water problems, and it took until shortly before 3 a-m to control the blaze. The bridge reopened shortly before 5 a-m. Ayers says it will take time for the building to cool down
enough to determine the cause of the fire.

GREENSBORO, Pa. (AP) - A Washington man working at a Greene County power station has died after falling 70 feet. Allegheny Energy officials say 40-year-old Michael Cox was
working on the scrubber project at the Hatfield's Ferry power plant when he fell yesterday.
Cox worked for Minnotte Contracting in Pittsburgh. He was pronounced dead at Uniontown Hospital. Officials say it is not immediately clear what Cox was doing when he fell. No one saw him fall. The scrubber project is a 650 (M) million dollar plan to install scrubbers on the plant to remove sulfur dioxide from plant emissions. It is scheduled to be completed in 2009.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Is Sam Katz running for mayor of Philadelphia again? It's possible. The Republican nominee for Philadelphia mayor in the last two elections has left the party just in time to qualify to run as an independent. Katz won't say why he changed his voter registration. He told The Philadelphia Inquirer -- quote -- "It is what it is. I wouldn't read too much into it."
There are five major candidates in the May 15th Democratic primary. Poorly funded candidate Al Taubenberger is unopposed in the Republican primary. But election law allows him to
withdraw in favor of another candiate. That would be most likely to happen if a candidate thought to be weak in the general election wins the Democratic primary.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A bloody, bullet-filled weekend left eleven people dead across Philadelphia. Drugs and disrespect have trumped brotherly love and the murder rate is on pace to be the highest in a decade. The city has seen more than one killing a day this year,
totaling 127 as of yesterday afternoon. That's 17 percent higher than last year at this time.
New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have had fewer homicides this year, and all three of those cities have populations much larger than Philadelphia's one-and-a-half (m) million. The spike over the weekend was partly blamed on the first warm weather of the season.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh International Auto Show is going to open this week, more than two months after the event postponed because a section of the floor at the convention center collapsed. The auto show is annually one of the biggest events held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The show was supposed to be held in February, but was postponed after a huge concrete slab collapsed onto an outdoor walkway on February Fifth. No one was injured. Authorities say an expansion joint at the end of a beam failed and did not move with changing temperatures. The center reopened March Ninth. The auto show will run Thursday through April 30th.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Philadelphia Park expects to become Pennsylvania's first casino to plug in five-player slot machines that mimic table games. Philadelphia Park Casino's president Dave Jonas says eleven of the games made by Shuffle Master are set to arrive tomorrow at the
suburban Philadelphia racetrack and casino. That's just five days after the games received approval for use in Pennsylvania by state gambling regulators. Jonas says Philadelphia Park hopes to turn them on May 5th. Table games with a human dealer like poker and blackjack are
illegal in Pennsylvania. For now, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has approved just
the blackjack program on the Shuffle Master game, which comes with software that allows it to play multiple games. Its five-player capacity counts as five slot machines.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Philadelphia Inquirer plans to start a business news column that will be sponsored by a bank. Inquirer editor Bill Marimow says the column will be completely
independent of its sponsor, Citizens Bank. The bank's logo will appear above the column, encased in a border. Kelly McBride is in charge of the ethics department at the Poynter Institute, a think tank for journalists. McBride says readers will assume that the bank controls the column unless the newspaper does something to counter that perception. She says the
Inquirer might want to consider adding a line at the bottom of the column saying the content remains under the purview of the editorial staff.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressman Bob Brady is the acting chairman of the Committee on House Administration. He replaces Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald, a
California congresswoman who died Saturday at the age of 68. The committee oversees daily operations of the House, federal election procedures and management of the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution. Brady is the acting chairman; it's unclear who the permanent leader will be. Brady is one of five major candidates seeking the Democratic
nomination for mayor of Philadelphia. His chief of staff, Stanley White, says Brady has been able to balance his work in Washington and the campaign.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Hershey Company says it will close its plant in Reading next year, affecting 260 unionized workers. The move is the company's second plant-closing announcement in a little over two months, and is part of a wider move to cut labor and material costs. Spokesman Kirk Saville says the company's plants operate at less than half-capacity over seven days and it needs to make significant changes to remain competitive. Saville says the company will work out severance agreements with the workers. Hershey is looking to shift more manufacturing to India, China, Mexico and private contractors in the United States.
It has already announced it will cut up to 900 of three-thousand workers from three plants in its hometown and close a plant in Smiths Falls, Ontario.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's student loan agency has adopted a code of ethics for its lending practices. Officials say it's another step toward making the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency more accountable to the public. PHEAA spokesman Keith New says the ethics code formalizes what both PHEAA and its national business division, American Education Services, already practice. Provisions of the code include banning revenue sharing between PHEAA or A-E-S and colleges, They also include prohibiting the lenders from paying for gifts to or trips for university employees and not paying financial aid officers who serve on student-loan advisory boards.


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