Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Today's News- Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Shenandoah pair freed on bail

It only took a matter of minutes for Schuylkill County President Judge William Baldwin to grant bail to those accused of beating a Shenandoah man to death. Family members along with attorneys for 16-year-old Brandon Piekarsky and 17-year-old Colin Walsh worked to secure 50-thousand-dollars bail and their release from Schuylkill County Prison. Three conditions to which Piekarsky and Walsh must comply-no drugs or alcohol, no contact with the other defendants and 7 o'clock curfews. They will also be subject to random monitoring from their probation officer. Defense attorney for Colin Walsh, Roger Laguna, says this has been a hard case:


Both were released yesterday afternoon.

Traffic stop leads to another drug bust in Pottsville

A Reading man is jailed after being caught with drugs in Pottsville. A traffic stop on 28-year-old Christopher Rodriguez on Railroad Street uncovered three bags of suspected crack cocaine, powder cocaine and marijuana. Following arraignment on the drug charges, Rodriguez was taken to the county prison, being unable to post bail.

Cars torched at dealership in East Norwegian Township

Several vehicles were damaged by fire early this morning at an auto repair garage in East Norwegian Township. Schuylkill Haven state police report that the vehicles, two cars and a truck, were set on fire at Ric's Service Station on the Port Carbon/St Clair Highway after 2am. The investigation continues.

Fight with sister results in arrest

A spat in Girardville Tuesday morning turned physical, and a borough man jailed. Gary Romanot and his sister, Susan Dietz, were fighting at their West Ogden Street home, with Romanot allegedly striking and pushing her. He was charged with simple assault and taken to Schuylkill County Prison, being unable to post bail.

Two charged in attempted prescription forgery

Two people are charged with criminal conspiracy and forgery after attempting to get prescription medications fraudulently at a Hometown pharmacy. 28-year-old Phillip Brinich and 22-year-old Ashley Balliet, both of Tamaqua, attempted to get prescriptions from Flamini's Pharmacy with forged scripts. Both were arraigned and taken to county prison.

Casey speaks of father, abortion

DENVER (AP) - Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey says he has "an honest disagreement" with Sen. Barack Obama about abortion. Casey wants to outlaw abortion and Obama wants to keep it legal. Casey praises Obama for showing respect for those who disagree with him - such as by allowing an anti-abortion senator to speak at the Democratic National Convention. In 1992, Casey's father was denied the chance to speak at the convention, creating a rift within the party. Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey Sr. also opposed abortion.

More emergency ballots requested for Pa. election

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Voters' rights groups say they are concerned that some Pennsylvanians will be unable to vote on Election Day if electronic voting machines break down.
The groups said this week they are pressing state officials to ensure that poll workers are trained to hand out emergency paper ballots while the machines get fixed. They want the paper ballots to be distributed when at least half of a polling station's machines malfunction. The groups, including Common Cause, Voter Action and the Advancement Project, say there were dozens of reports of inoperable machines in the April primary, but paper ballots were not always
available. In a statement, the Department of State said it is listening to the groups and considers the opportunity to vote a top priority.

USW wants strike authority in ArcelorMittal talks

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The United Steelworkers union has asked more than 14,000 of its members at plants run by ArcelorMittal to allow it to call a strike if ongoing contract negotiations fail. The Pittsburgh-based labor union says in a notice distributed at 14 plants nationwide that a "lack of progress" in the talks with the world's largest steelmaker has prompted the strike authorization vote. The negotiations began four months ago and the strike vote is scheduled for Wednesday. The union has been bargaining with Luxembourg-based
ArcelorMittal SA on behalf of the workers and tens of thousands of retirees. The current contract is set to expire Sept. 1. Union representative Tony Montana, who is participating in the
negotiations, says a work stoppage is still avoidable. U.S.-based spokesmen for ArcelorMittal have not responded to messages seeking comment.

Coroner: W.Pa. toddler dead after shooting self

SIGEL, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania toddler is dead after he picked up an unattended handgun and shot himself in the head. Elk County Coroner Louis Radkowski says 3-year-old Trey Rosenberger, who was from Beaver County, was at a camp in Millstone Township with family and friends and adults who were target shooting on Monday. Radkowski says the gun was left loaded and unattended on a chair when the boy picked up the gun around 11 a.m. The death has been ruled an accident. State Police are investigating. No charges have been filed.

Pa. state lawmaker planning for Iraq deployment

DILLSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania state lawmaker is making plans to serve with his Army National Guard unit in Iraq next year. Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican whose district includes parts of York and Cumberland counties, is part of a unit that's scheduled to go to Oklahoma in January and Iraq in April. The 46-year-old Perry is a lieutenant colonel and a battalion
commander in the Guard. He says he'll be counting on his legislative staff to handle day-to-day operations in his absence. Perry is expected to be gone for about a year. He is currently serving his first term in the House and is running unopposed for re-election in November.

House painters rescue dad, son from Philly fire

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A child and his father are expected to be OK after some quick thinking by Philadelphia house painters got them out of a burning house. Daniel Danger and Donald Miller say they were working nearby when they saw smoke billowing from a house and ran over. The father was holding the child out a third-story window. The painters say they yelled to the father to drop the child and he did. But the father was still trapped inside and firefighters hadn't arrived yet. The painters ran back to their truck to get their extension ladder and provided the father with a way to get out. The father and son were treated for smoke inhalation.

Expired parking meter stirs political debate

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Attorney General Tom Corbett's campaign says his opponent used an official pass to avoid a parking ticket, and it has photos to prove it. The pictures show Democrat John Morganelli's car next to a meter along a Harrisburg street, with a pass from the Northampton County district attorney's office on the dashboard. Corbett's campaign says it was parked for four hours Monday while Morganelli was making a political speech. Corbett's campaign says he should repay the city the six dollars he should have put in the meter.
Morganelli says he fed the meter to cover more than two hours' parking. When he realized the time was up, he says he had only a bill. He says he went to get change but got sidetracked.
He called Corbett's criticism "petty."

Looking ahead to tonight at the convention

DENVER (AP)- Hillary Clinton is making it clear to her supporters what they should do next.
In a rousing Democratic convention speech last night, Clinton declared Barack Obama her candidate and urged her backers to look ahead. She said regardless of which candidate Democrats voted for in the primary, it's time to unite as a single party. She said Democrats "don't have a moment to lose or a vote to spare." Clinton was greeted by a sea of "Hillary" signs and a cheering crowd. Obama's name will be placed in nomination tonight. Clinton has
not indicated whether she would have her name placed in nomination or seek a formal roll call vote. Party leaders are afraid of a national audience seeing discord. Former President Bill Clinton and vice-presidential choice Joe Biden will be tonight's headline speakers.

Former Governor Warner: Party must seize opportunity

DENVER (AP) - Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner is calling Barack Obama the right man for the country. Warner, speaking at the Democratic National Convention, said this presidential election year is a "race for the future." The U.S. Senate candidate was chosen by Obama to be a keynoter. Warner told delegates that the United States won't do well in the increasingly competitive 21st century with "a president who is stuck in the past." He also said America's leaders "have one shot to get it right" and that "the status quo won't cut it."

Romney joins Democratic critics in Denver

DENVER (AP) - Mitt Romney, a potential running mate for John McCain, has joined the Republican shadow operation at the Democratic convention in Denver. At a news conference, Romney charged that Barack Obama's policies would weaken America's economy and national security. The former Massachusetts governor told reporters that Obama has a history of raising taxes and has voted to raise taxes or prevent tax decreases more than 90 times. Romney compared Obama and McCain on spending, saying Obama constantly talks about raising spending. He said McCain is dedicated to reigning in excessive spending.

Stevens wins

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Even though a federal trial hangs over his head, Alaska Republicans have given Senator Ted Stevens a primary victory. Stevens survived by taking 63 percent of the vote against six GOP challengers. He'll face popular Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich in November. Begich easily took the Democratic primary, winning 91 percent of
the vote against two minor challengers. Stevens is accused of not disclosing $250,000 in gifts on Senate forms. In Florida, Tom Rooney will face Democratic Representative Tim Mahoney in November for the seat once held by disgraced congressman Mark Foley. Rooney won a tight three-way Republican race with 37 percent of the vote.

Gustav pummels Haiti

MIAMI (AP) - Gustav is back down to being a tropical storm. It weakened from a hurricane while moving over Haiti. The storm is expected to return to hurricane status later this
week, on its expected path between Cuba and Jamaica. Gustav dumped torrential rains across southern Haiti, setting off a landslide that killed at least one man. High water is threatening crops amid protests over high food prices. Oil prices have risen on fears the storm could batter oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Plans to dock boat in Poti canceled

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) - A U.S. Embassy spokesman says plans have been canceled to try to dock a military ship carrying humanitarian aid in the Georgian port of Poti. Russian forces are posted on the outskirts of the city. The ship, the Coast Guard cutter Dallas, was to have come to the Black Sea port on Wednesday morning. But Embassy spokesman Stephen Guice says the vessel instead will dock in Batumi, a port well south of the zone of fighting in this month's war between Russia and Georgia. Guice says he did not have information on why the plan was
changed. Poti's port reportedly suffered heavy damage from the Russian military. Russian troops have established checkpoints on the northern approach to the city and a U.S. ship docking there could have been seen as a direct challenge.

Six more senators seek end to oil drilling impasse

WASHINGTON (AP) - Six more senators have joined a bipartisan group of 10 others in supporting a bill they say will break the stalemate over offshore drilling in Congress. Three Democrats and three Republicans joined the so-called Gang of 10, making it the Gang of 16. The group supports a bill that would lift a ban on oil and natural gas drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the southeastern U.S. The bill would also invest 20 billion dollars in the development of petroleum-free motor vehicles and extend tax credits for renewable energy.
Among the new converts are two Republican senators facing tough re-election bids. By signing with the group, Senators Norm Coleman of Minnesota and John Sununu of New Hampshire have broken with the majority of their party. It would like to see the moratorium on drilling lifted along the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Death probed after fire

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Officials in Idaho are trying to determine if a fast-moving wildfire killed a Boise State University professor. The body of Mary Ellen Ryder was found in one of the 20 homes burned by Monday's fire. The English professor was supposed to teach her first class of the semester on Tuesday. No other residents were injured by the fire, which spread quickly from a vacant field of sagebrush, up a ridge and into a nearby neighborhood. Seventeen police officers and at least one firefighter were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries. The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but officials blame strong wind gusts for its rapid acceleration.

Hacker gets into FEMA phone system

WASHINGTON (AP) - The FBI is investigating more than $12,000 in calls made when a hacker broke into the Federal Emergency Management Agency's phone system. The hacker made more than 400 calls to the Middle East and Asia on a FEMA voicemail system in Emmitsburg, Maryland, two weekends ago. Calls were made to places like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia,
India and Yemen. Some lasted up to 10 minutes. One security expert says this type of low-tech and "old school" hacking was more popular 10 to 15 years ago. The voicemail system was recently installed, and is a traditional corporate phone network used by thousands of companies
and government offices. Many companies are moving to an upgraded version.

Hundreds of new moms get warning

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Kaiser Permanente is telling 960 mothers that they and their babies may have been exposed to a San Francisco maternity ward worker diagnosed with active tuberculosis. Kaiser started notifying patients Tuesday about the worker formerly employed in the postpartum unit of its San Francisco Medical Center. The part-time employee worked at Kaiser from March 10 to August 10 and no longer works for the organization. Kaiser learned of the employee's diagnosis last week and says the medical center followed all appropriate screening procedures when hiring the employee. Kaiser's infectious disease chief in Northern California says the infection risk for patients is low and the worker had a common strain of TB that responds well to antibiotics.


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