Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today's News-Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shenandoah gets new mayor

A former Shenandoah councilman has assumed the mayor's office. Michael Whitecavage was appointed to the job to serve out the final year of Thomas O'Neill's term, according to the Republican and Herald. O'Neill submitted his resignation in October, citing his wife's health among the reasons for stepping down. Whitecavage takes office on Thursday.

DUI checkpoint bounty

Post Christmas partiers were met with a vengeance by state and local police looking for drunk drivers. Friday night, 788 vehicles were contacted and 21 detained in Shenandoah. Two adults were arrested for DUI, and 18 were given traffic citations. All area state and local police will continue to blanket the region looking for drunk and aggressive driving throughout the new year's holiday.

State parks offer way to get away this winter

The Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks is offering visitors a chance to enjoy winter rest and relaxation with modern accomodations at 23 state parks. The annual "Cabin Fever" lodging promotion offers visitors the opportunity to buy one night's lodging at a cabin, when arriving between Sunday and Wednesday, and receive the second consecutive weekday night free. The promotion is only offered through January and February. Outdoor activities like snowmobiling is just one of the opportunities that await winter travelers. For more information, log on to getoutdoorspa.state.pa.us.

Many Pa. restaurants reporting slow season

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - For restaurants like central Pennsylvania's Confit French Bistro, owner and chef Matt Black says New Year's Eve is usually a big night. But Black says reservations at the Camp Hill eatery are down about 20 percent this year for the night restaurants try to put some extra money in the bank. The Pennsylvania Restaurant Association is hearing similar reports elsewhere. Association President Patrick Conway says people's worries about disposable income, job security and up-and-down energy costs create a tough environment for all businesses, and restaurants operate on a tight margin to begin with. Another example, Scott's Grille in Harrisburg was booked up before New Year's 2007, but the reservation book was still only about half full on Monday. A manager, Mandy Rineer, says "We always anticipate walk-ins."

Pa. will enforce new power plant pollution rule

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania will begin enforcing a new federal rule designed to cut power plant emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. The Rendell administration said Monday that it will begin enforcing the rule this week after a federal court last week
reversed a lower court's decision to strike down the rule. Pennsylvania is among the nation's top producers of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide because it's home to so many coal-fired power plants. The pollutants contribute to acid rain and smog, which can cause asthma, bronchitis and other breathing problems. A representative of the state's power plant owners say they already have spent more than $4 billion at Pennsylvania's 30-plus coal-fired power plants to comply with the rule.

Philly mayor: Outside cash could save libraries

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - There's no word yet from a judge hearing a lawsuit that seeks to keep 11 Philadelphia branch libraries open. Mayor Michael Nutter says he must close them due to a budget crisis. Plaintiffs say he can't do so without City Council approval. Also, Nutter says the libraries might reopen as "knowledge centers" if the city can find financial partners. The announcement came at a raucous news conference during which Nutter was repeatedly booed. The mayor is shuttering the branches beginning Thursday in an effort to close an estimated $1 billion spending gap over the next five years. Nutter says the public-private partnerships could be with individuals, corporations, nonprofits or community groups.

Dow Chemical may seek lower price for Rohm & Haas

NEW YORK (AP) - The collapse of a joint venture with a state-owned Kuwaiti company may make Dow Chemical less willing to pay the $15.3 billion price for Rohm & Haas. Dow had initially agreed to that price for Philadelphia-based Rohm & Haas last summer as energy prices peaked. Kuwait's government backed out of the deal with Dow late Sunday. It called the K-Dow Petrochemicals joint venture, "very risky" due to the global financial crisis and crude prices that have tumbled more than 70 percent since July. Midland, Mich.-based Dow had expected more than $7 billion in pretax proceeds from the K-Dow deal. Dow would not comment Monday on the failure of the joint venture or negotiations with Rohm & Haas.

Report: Pollution is factor in crab decline

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A conservation group says Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania must also do more to control pollution from agricultural runoff. A Chesapeake Bay Foundation report blames pollution and overfishing for devastating declines in Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. According to the report, algal blooms caused by nitrogen and phosphorous pollution have damaged underwater grass beds that are a key crab habitat. Dead zones in the bay are blamed for killing thousands of tons of clams and worms each year, depriving crabs of a food source. The report was based on government data, scientific papers and interviews with leading crab researchers and water quality experts.

Pa. man kills self after killing girlfriend

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A prosecutor says a suburban Philadelphia man apparently accidentally strangled his live-in girlfriend days before killing himself. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman says police went to the Bridgeport apartment the couple shared to notify of her boyfriend's suicide by hanging on Saturday. Instead, police found her badly decomposed body. Ferman said Monday that it appears the 42-year-old woman was strangled during a consensual sexual encounter. She says the boyfriend left a note saying her death was a terrible accident. Police don't believe anyone else was involved in the deaths.

At age 79, Boscov bets $300M on retailer's future

READING, Pa. (AP) - Albert Boscov has a lot to learn about retail. He says so himself. The department store mogul spent more than 50 years at the Reading-based chain that bears his name, but Boscov retired three years ago - a lifetime in retail. He returned as chairman and CEO in early December to guide the troubled company out of bankruptcy. So he needs to bone up. That's why the 79-year-old Boscov has been doing a lot of listening as he gets reacquainted with the business his father started in 1921. Boscov and his brother-in-law, Edwin Lakin, made a last-minute bid for the privately held company when it became clear that liquidation was imminent. The gamble comes at a challenging time for retailers, with the economy in recession and holiday sales shaping up to be the worst in decades.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas government buildings in Gaza have been targeted on the fourth day of a deadly Israeli air assault. Witnesses say 40 people were hurt today when bombs hit five buildings. A militant rocket killed an Israeli woman last night in Ashdod, some 23 miles from the Gaza Strip.

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - European stocks have opened higher after most Asian markets posted gains on the final day of trading in what was a terrible year. Japan's Nikkei ends 2008 down 42 percent, while the market in South Korea fell by nearly 41 percent.

BEIJING (AP) - China's president says he wants the pace of reconstruction to pick up after his latest visit to the province where thousands died in a May earthquake. Thousands are still
living in tents and other temporary shelters as winter sets in.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Marine Corps says it's going to reach its goal of growing to 202,000 troops nearly three years ahead of schedule. Last year the hope was more recruiters, bigger bonuses and an elite reputation would help get the Corps to its target by 2012. Now, officials say it will be reached early next year.

MIAMI (AP) - The FBI is working to determine if a crime was committed when a woman vanished from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Her family thinks she took her own life. The woman's husband reported her missing eight hours after a surveillance camera captured a person falling overboard.


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