Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's News- Friday, December 19, 2008

Arsenal uncovered in Blue Mountain teens case


That's State Police Corporal Bernard Walasavage, commenting on the actions by Blue Mountain High School students in alerting school personnel to a possible threat alleged by a 17 year old male. State police uncovered several weapons, ammo, pellet guns and other military gear when they searched a North Manheim Township home Thursday in connection with a perceived threat at Blue Mountain High School. Investigators say students alerted staff at the school that a student might possibly bring a weapon to school to do harm. Troopers did not release the 17 year old male's name, and gave few details due to the ongoing investigation. The boy is charged with criminal attempt and criminal solicitation to commit homicide and 2 counts of terroristic threats. He is locked up in the county prison on $100-thousand-dollars bail.

Travel note

Motorists will not have to negotiate single lanes in a construction zone in southern Schuylkill County until spring. PennDOT says that barriers at the job site in Port Clinton were removed Thursday on the bridge across the Schuylkill River. With winter weather approaching, the bridge has returned to four lanes. The $1.9 million dollar project began in September and is not expected to be completed until July of next year. PennDOT also reminds motorists to drive carefully during the storm.

Pa. consumer advocate criticizes electric prices

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's utility consumer advocate says the region's wholesale electricity market is flawed. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission heard Sonny Popowsky and others testify on the region's electricity prices at a Thursday hearing. Popowsky says millions of customers across mid-Atlantic states are charged extra for electricity. But he says they get no guarantee in return from overpaid power plant owners that they will build cheaper and cleaner plants. Representatives of power plant owners and the wholesale market operator PJM Interconnection say the extra payments are necessary to ensure there's enough power for everybody. They also say the payments are persuading power plant owners to keep plants online that otherwise might be shut down and to build new generation.

3 Pa. Guard members face trial in sexual assault

LEBANON, Pa. (AP) - Three Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers will face trial on charges of sexually assaulting a woman inside a barracks building a year ago. The men waived their preliminary hearings Thursday before District Judge Michael Smith. Smith set a tentative March trial date. Police say the 37-year-old woman went to the Fort Indiantown Gap base with the men voluntarily after meeting them at a Jonestown tavern. Authorities say the woman told investigators she initially engaged in consensual sex with one of the men, but was later forced to engage in various sexual acts with all three. Twenty-seven-year-old Alan Ledford Jr., 24-year-old Sean McMenamin, and 23-year-old Matthew Taggart had been scheduled to be deployed to Iraq. They must remain in the United States to face trial.

Pa. loses 26,000 jobs in Nov., most since 1996

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania just got its worst monthly jobs report in over a decade as the rough economy continues to take its toll. The state Department of Labor and Industry said Thursday that Pennsylvania's nonfarm jobs count tumbled by 26,000 last month, the biggest monthly drop since January 1996. Meanwhile, the state's jobless rate rose three-tenths of a percentage point in November to 6.1 percent. That's the highest since it's been since 1994, but still below the national rate for the seventh straight month. The state now has 5.76 million nonfarm jobs, the fewest since August 2006. Still, the state is doing better than the national average. The national jobless rate is 6.7 percent.

Funeral director sentenced in Pa. body parts scam

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia funeral director is going to prison for his role in a macabre body parts scheme. A judge sentenced James McCafferty to 3 1/2 to 10 years on Thursday. Authorities say he and two partners sold at least 244 corpses to be harvested for tissue and body parts without relatives' consent. The often-diseased parts were then sold to medical companies for transplants. McCafferty had pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy and theft charges. His partners, brothers Louis and Gerald Garzone, got identical 8- to 20-year terms when they were sentenced in October. Ringleader Michael Mastromarino was sentenced to 25 to 58 years. He is already serving 18 to 54 years for running the scam in New York. A fifth defendant awaits sentencing.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - He was the Watergate whistleblower known to history as "Deep Throat." A family friend says W. Mark Felt, who kept his identity as the scandal's most famous leaker secret for 30 years, has died of congestive heart failure at the age of 95.

UNDATED (AP) - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says President George W. Bush wants to avoid automakers filing for bankruptcy protection and the No. 1 priority is putting them back on a viable path. But he's told a business forum in New York that an "orderly" bankruptcy is one option.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A labor official says President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Democratic Congresswoman Hilda Solis of California to be labor secretary. She's the daughter of a Mexican union shop steward and a Nicaraguan assembly line worker and would be Obama's
third Hispanic nominee.

NEW YORK (AP) - Caroline Kennedy has dined with the Rev. Al Sharpton at a famous Harlem eatery with a throng of about 30 journalists looking on. Reporters asked her why she's considering a run for the U.S. Senate after years of avoiding the political spotlight. She said this is a time when nobody can afford to sit out.

CHICAGO (AP) - Some Illinois residents may get a wake-up call from the elements overnight. Thunder snow or thunder sleet is possible as part of a wintry storm that had all of Chicago's 274
snow-fighting trucks hitting the streets late last night.


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