Today's News-Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
Dauphin County man dies in two vehicle crash in Frailey Township
A Dauphin County teenager is dead after a crash in western Schuylkill County late Monday morning. Schuylkill Haven state police report that 52-year-old Donald White was driving a dump truck south on Route 209 near the intersection of I-81 when 18-year-old Jason Martin pulled into the path of the White's truck, hitting it in the drivers side. The truck was forced over the side of the overpass bridge. Martin died from injuries in the crash. White was injured as well, but his condition is unknown. The crash happened after 11am.
Burglary at East Norwegian Township restaurant
State police are looking for the burglars who broke into an East Norwegian Township restaurant. Troopers say that someone disabled the power at John's Family Restaurant on Route 209 and entered through the men's room window. Food was taken from the freezer inside, money was removed from a cigarette machine and video game and approximately $900 dollars in change and bills stolen. State police at Schuylkill Haven are asking anyone with information about the burglary to call them at 593-2000.
Tamaqua water authority issues water boil advisory
A water main break in Tamaqua has prompted officials to issue a water boil advisory. The Tamaqua Water Authority says that as a precaution, customers in the borough of Tamaqua and portions of Walker and West Penn Township should boil their drinking water and conserve it until further notice. The advisory applies to all Tamaqua Water Authority customers south of Taggartsville Road in Tamaqua. Customers in Hometown or north of the borough are not affected. Water for human consumption should be boiled for a full minute before use. If you have any questions, call the Tamaqua Water Authority at 668-3444.
Philadelphia police officer to be buried in afternoon
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The fifth Philadelphia police officer killed on duty in the past three years is to be buried in the afternoon. Thirty-year-old Officer Patrick McDonald was shot as he chased a man on foot following a traffic stop on Sept. 23. The gunman was then killed in a shootout with another officer. A funeral mass will be held at a downtown Philadelphia cathedral
at noon, followed by burial at Resurrection Cemetery in Bensalem. Bensalem Police say there will be road closings on sections of Street Road and Hulmeville Road during the procession, and during the service at Resurrection Cemetery.
Ex-judge spent insurance money on house, hot tub
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Federal prosecutors say a retired Pennsylvania superior court judge spent $440,000 in insurance money on a new house, hot tub, motorcycle, jewelry and cosmetic surgery for a woman he has since married. Michael Joyce is scheduled to stand trial Oct. 20 in federal court in Pittsburgh on charges he got the money by exaggerating loss claims in a 2001 car accident. The 59-year-old judge lives in the Erie suburb of Millcreek Township and retired in January after 10 years on the appeals court. Prosecutors listed the spending in a court document Monday in response to a defense motion. The defense wants to keep the judge's financial records out of the trial, saying the expenses are an attack on Joyce's character
and not proof he had a motive to commit fraud.
Pa. lawmakers weigh audio school bus surveillance
PITTSBURGH (AP) - State lawmakers are in Pittsburgh to take testimony on a proposal that would exempt school buses from the state's wiretapping and surveillance laws. Many schools use video cameras in buses, but under Pennsylvania law it is illegal to record the audio without the permission of those on the bus. The House judiciary subcommittee is considering a bill that
would make an exception for school buses. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. says audio recordings could help investigators deal with complaints about sexual harassment and bullying in ways that video-only recordings can't.
Pa. city eyes bond borrowing for surveillance net
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) - An eastern Pennsylvania city proposes a $2.9 million wireless surveillance camera network but assures residents it will not play the role of Big Brother.
Bethlehem police commissioner Randy Miller says the cameras that would be placed anywhere from concert venues to parking garages would scan only what goes on in public. He says masking software would block out views such as residents' windows. Miller says, "It's not '1984."'
Mayor John Callahan told the City Council on Monday that officials hope to pay for the wireless network and other projects with part of a $7.5 million bond next year. The council is expected
to receive details of the mayor's proposal later this week.
Pa. man appealing federal-gun application case
ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A man wants the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to decide whether state police can prosecute him for allegedly lying on a federal gun-purchasing form. Attorneys for 44-year-old Charles Baxter, of Erie, say he never bought the gun in question. Still, he's been convicted on charges that he omitted his mental health problems and criminal record on state and federal gun applications. An Erie County judge ruled the state police could prosecute Baxter about the state form, but not for omitting the same information on a federal form. The state Superior Court reversed that decision last month, so now Baxter's attorneys are appealing to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Police charged Baxter after he tried to buy the gun at a store near Erie in 2004.
Pastors' political endorsements draw complaints
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Philadelphia minister is defying a federal law that bans tax-exempt religious institutions from supporting political candidates. Pastor Fran Pultro of Calvary Chapel on the King's Highway is backing Republican presidential candidate John McCain. It's part of
a protest organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group that contends that the law is unconstitutional. The pastors intend to send copies of their sermons to the Internal Revenue Service. But another group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, didn't wait for that. That group filed complaints Monday with the IRS about Pultro and five other pastors whose sermons were detailed in news reports.
Pa. strangling suspect sought in Tampa, Fla.; Columbia, SC
JONESTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Police say the suspect in a Berks County woman's strangling death has ties to Tampa, Fla., and Columbia, S.C., and may have fled to one of those cities. Police say 32-year-old Julio Lastra strangled Marisol Rivera early Thursday in her Frystown home, then put the body in the trunk of a car. Later, Lastra was pulled over for a traffic violation just outside Harrisburg. He fled on foot and stole a vehicle that was found ditched in Baltimore. He remained at large Tuesday. Authorities say Rivera's sister was Lastra's ex-girlfriend and they had recently broken up.
Federal judge in Fumo corruption trial replaced
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The federal judge who has delayed the trial of Pennsylvania state Sen. Vincent Fumo due to illness has been replaced. Jury selection is expected to resume as scheduled on Oct. 20 with U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter replacing U.S. District Judge William Yohn Jr. Yohn battled flu-like symptoms during jury questioning earlier in September. He announced a monthlong postponement because of his illness. A one-sentence order on Monday put Buckwalter in charge. Both judges are in their early 70s, were appointed to the
federal bench almost two decades ago and are serving as senior judges. Federal prosecutors say the 65-year-old Fumo misused more than $3.5 million in funds and resources from the Senate, a charity and a museum. Fumo is charged with 139 counts of fraud and corruption. Fumo denies doing anything illegal.
Pot seized in central Pa. yard, couple arrested
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A central Pennsylvania couple says marijuana they are accused of growing for distribution was for their own use. Officials say police tipped by a neighbor seized 15 to 20 marijuana plants ranging from 4 to 7 feet tall in a Harrisburg-area back yard about a mile from a state police barracks. Officers confiscated bundles of plants being dried and jars and cans of marijuana buds. Officials say the pot is worth more than $60,000. Peter Vandermeij and Lori Flynn of Susquehanna Township were arraigned on charges of manufacturing marijuana and possessing it with intent of distribution. On the porch of their home Monday, the two said the marijuana was for personal use. Flynn says they used it to help them sleep. The two are free on $50,000 unsecured bail.
Pittsburgh-area man survives bridge-jumping bet
OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) - A man who survived jumping from a bridge over the Allegheny River near Pittsburgh told them he did so on a bet - and now police are looking for whoever made the wager. Police say 42-year-old August Futryk jumped about 50 feet from the Hulton Bridge in Oakmont into the river below. Oakmont is about 10 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Police say Futryk was visibly intoxicated and complained of chest pains so he was taken to a hospital after his rescue Sunday afternoon. He's facing public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and other charges. Oakmont police Chief David DiSanti says Futryk was wearing only undershorts at the time. The Associated Press cannot locate a listed phone number for Futryk.
W.Pa. county seeks injunction against Amish sect
EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania county has gone to court to prevent conservative Amish families from living in homes without sewage disposal permits. The Amish are members of the Swartzentruber Amish. While all Amish shun the modern world, the Swartzentrubers are known for their more severe restrictions on technology and interaction with the outside world. Swartzentrubers contend their religious convictions prevent them from disposing of outhouse waste according to state sewage laws. Cambria County's sewage enforcement and building code agencies sought the injunctions Friday to prevent one family from moving into a home being built and to prevent another family from continuing to live in their home. A Nov. 13 hearing is scheduled.
NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks appear to be rebounding after yesterday's record plunge. A report that Americans' confidence in the economy actually improved this month is helping. The Dow was up more than 250 points by midmorning.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush is warning of "painful and lasting" damage to the economy if Congress doesn't get a financial rescue plan back on track. Speaking at the White House this morning, Bush conceded the 700-billion-dollar proposal is huge, but he says it's dwarfed by the trillion dollars lost in yesterday's stock plunge. He says that "will have a direct impact on retirement accounts, pension funds and personal savings" of millions of Americans.
WASHINGTON (AP) - "Doing nothing is not an option," says House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The House is not scheduled to meet again until Thursday, but lawmakers are working to put together a new rescue proposal for the nation's financial system. President Bush is pledging to work with congressional leaders on it.
WASHINGTON (AP) - John McCain and Barack Obama are both calling for raising federal deposit insurance to $250,000. Obama says the move would help small businesses, make the banking system more secure and restore public confidence in the nation's financial system. McCain says Washington hasn't convinced people that it's "a rescue effort" that all Americans need and not "a bailout" for Wall Street.
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. (AP) - The forest service says more than 800 firefighters are battling a wildfire in California's Los Padres National Forest. It broke out Saturday night along the coast in Monterey County. It nearly doubled in size yesterday to more than 1,700 acres.