Thursday, December 18, 2008

Today's News-Thursday, December 18, 2008

Debate brings more candidates to the table

The debate among Republican candidates for the 29th Senatorial District got a little more crowded Wednesday night in Hamburg. The three previously announced candidates, Dave Argall, Gretchen Sterns and Christopher Hobbs, were joined by three new hopefuls, Ed Balkiewicz of Schuylkill County, Willard Dellicker of New Tripoli and Joseph Gattone Jr. of Hamburg. All six were given the opportunity to talk about the issues facing the 29th district and the state in general. Fifty-seven Republican conferees will meet Saturday here in Pottsville to choose who will run for the seat held by the late Senator Jim Rhoades, and will face Democrat Steve Lukach in the special election March 3rd.

Penn State students charged in raid

Two students at Penn State Schuylkill were taken into custody on drugs and weapons charges Wednesday. A search warrant was executed at the campus apartment of Alvin and James Foster, of Philadelphia. Police found several pounds of marijuana, over $3-thousand-dollars in cash and two handguns, along with drug paraphernalia. The arrests were the result of an undercover investigation.

Drug arrest in Pottsville

A Philadelphia man was arrested Tuesday in Pottsville on drug related charges. Narcotics officers from the city police department and the County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at 818 Mount Hope Avenue. They uncovered 162 packets of crack cocaine valued at about $4-thousand-dollars, plus several cell phones and cash. 21 year old Ernest Harrod was charged with felony and misdemeanor drug counts. In addition, he could face stiffer prison time if found guilty, since the drug sales took place in a Drug Free School Zone.

Another day, another storm

Tomorrow's travel may be an adventure if we get what's forecast. A wintry mix is expected to start late tonight and run right through Friday, with snow sleet and freezing rain. John LeCourt, Meterologist at the National Weather Service in State College says that the weather scenario is familiar:

A Winter Storm Watch will be in effect from late tonight through Friday.

Mt Carmel teen kiled in crash

A Mount Carmel teenager died from injuries in a one vehicle crash in Mt Carmel Township Wednesday afternoon. Police report that 17 year old Robert Sowa's Cadillac SUV struck several trees on State Route 2026 around 3:30pm. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, Allison Plisiewicz, was flown to Geisinger Medical Center for injuries. She is in serious condition.

NRC issues new security rules for nuclear plants, beefs up protection against cyber attacks

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is beefing up security at commercial nuclear power plants, including more stringent requirements to counter potential cyber attacks. New regulations call for new training and qualification requirements for security officials. They require plant operators to produce new response strategies in case of the loss of part of a plant because of an explosion or fire. But nuclear watchdog groups say the rules fall short of what's needed. They say the NRC still is not addressing fully terrorist threats from aircraft, or from a determined, well-armed band of attackers. The agency rejected a demand by Three Mile Island Alert of Harrisburg, Pa., that power plants be required to post armed guards
at every entrance to a controlled area. The NRC says it is giving plant operators "flexibility to determine if such personnel postings are necessary."

No verdict in 1st day of deliberations in Fort Dix case; jurors peruse informant's testimony

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - Jurors are to resume deliberations in the case of five men accused of plotting an attack on the Army's Fort Dix. The panel finished its first day of deliberations without reaching a verdict. Members asked a judge for transcripts of testimony from government informant Besnik Bakalli, who says the suspects used a trip to Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains as training for waging a holy war. The suspects face life in prison if they're convicted of the most serious charges, which include conspiracy to kill military personnel and attempted murder. Defense lawyers told jurors their clients - all foreign-born Muslims who lived for years in Cherry Hill - were not seriously planning anything.

Mummers vote to march in Philadelphia on Jan. 1, ask for public's help to pay for event

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The annual Mummer's Parade in Philadelphia will go on as scheduled Jan. 1, but the groups of costumed performers are asking for the public's help in paying for the
event. The city and the groups have been discussing how to pay for the annual parade amid citywide budget cuts. The city has said it can only contribute $300,000, and organizers say they believe the event will cost at least $347,000 to pay for police and cleanup. The Mummers groups voted in favor of an agreement with the city Wednesday night for a shortened 6 1/2-hour parade that will follow the original parade route down Broad Street past City Hall.
Organizers are appealing to the public to go to to contribute money to defray their costs.

Man sentenced to 16 to 32 years for hammer attack on 4 women in Pa. beauty shop robbery

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A man has been sentenced to 16 to 32 years in prison for attacking four women with a hammer during last year's robbery of an eastern Pennsylvania hair salon.
Thomas Leyshon III, of Mountain Top, apologized to the women, who ranged in age from 58 to 76 years old. Authorities say he beat them while robbing the Hairem Family Hair and Nail Care in Luzerne County in August 2007. As Leyshon was led from the courthouse, he said, "I can't take back what I did. It is what it is." Assistant District Attorney Mike Vough says he has never seen such a crime. He says he is happy with the sentence, but the women are still suffering from the crime.

Feds allege Pa. nail salons used 'modern day slavery' and marriage fraud; 3 faces charges

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Federal authorities say they've broken up a conspiracy that forced Vietnamese people to work in what they're calling "modern day slavery" in Pennsylvania nail salons. The U.S. attorney's office in Harrisburg said Wednesday that three people were charged with conspiracy to commit forced labor trafficking, forced labor and marriage fraud. The defendants are 38-year-old Lynda Dieu Phan and 40-year-old Duc Cao Nguyen, both of New Cumberland; and 35-year-old Justin Phan, a resident of Tennessee. Authorities claim Lynda Dieu Phan recruited victims in Vietnam to work in her nail salons in the York area. They say fraudulent marriages were used to bring the victims into the United States.

Police: 2 arrested for burning down historic covered bridge in northwestern Pennsylvania

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Two men have been charged with setting fire to a historic covered bridge in northwestern Pennsylvania. The Gudgeonville bridge in Girard Township, Erie County, was
heavily damaged by fire on Nov. 8. The bridge was built in 1868 and is the oldest of three covered bridges still standing in Erie County. Police on Wednesday charged 23-year-old Jeffrey Adam Gleason, of Conneautville, and 21-year-old Joshua Michael Bell, of Albion, with arson, causing or risking a catastrophe and related crimes.

Financially troubled archaeology museum at U. of Pennsylvania may lay off 18 researchers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A famed Phliadelphia archaeology museum says it will lay off 18 researchers and try to upgrade its exhibits to attract more visitors and improve its finances.
Several prominent scientists are among those being laid off from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. But officials say some could keep their jobs if grant
money to cover their salaries is found. Museum director Richard Hodges says the institution's finances are unsustainable, and that it must refurbish its "tired exhibits" and increase income.
The 120-year-old museum has a worldwide reputation for its scholarship and for supporting expeditions, from the tombs of Egypt to the temples of the Mayans to the remains of Babylon, Gordion and Troy. The layoffs were first reported by Penn's student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Artifacts from Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali in new history exhibit

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A new touring black history exhibition opening next year includes artifacts such as a letter from President Lincoln guaranteeing the safety of abolitionist leader
Frederick Douglass. "America I AM: The African American Imprint" will open at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. The show is being presented by TV personality Tavis Smiley and includes more than 200 items from every period of U.S. history. It will travel to nine more cities over the next four years. Other artifacts on display include the key to King's jail cell and the stool on which he sat in Birmingham, Ala., where he composed his famous "Letter From the Birmingham Jail." Also included are Malcolm X's Quran and diary, and Muhammad Ali's robe from the "Rumble in the Jungle." The exhibition also includes the "Doors of No Return," through which Africans trod before boarding slave ships in what is now Ghana.

WASHINGTON (AP) - We'll learn more about how the economy is faring today. The Labor Department is expected to report that new claims for jobless benefits dropped last week, but remain near a 26-year-low. The Conference Board's forecast of economic activity is also due today.

DETROIT (AP) - The Big Three are scaling back some more. Chrysler is closing all its North American manufacturing plants for at least a month. GM is halting construction of a plant involved in producing the Volt and Ford also says it will shut down 10 plants for an extra week in January because of sluggish sales.

NEW YORK (AP) - Attorney General Michael Mukasey is recusing himself from the investigation into Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion investment fraud. The AG's son is representing, a top financial officer at Madoff's investment firm.

SINGAPORE (AP) - Oil prices are hovering near 4 1/2-year lows in Asia as persistent investor pessimism over global crude demand outweighed OPEC's largest-ever production cut. Light, sweet crude for January delivery edged up 26 cents to $40.32 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midafternoon in Singapore.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The storm that dumped heavy rain and snow in Southern California is moving out of the region. Still, several roads shut down by the snow remain closed stranding thousands of drivers. And a wind gust caused a helicopter to crash yesterday north of Los Angeles, killing an electrical worker on the ground.


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