Friday, March 27, 2009

Today's News-Friday, March 27, 2009


Eight men vying for the Republican nomination for the 124th Legislative District seat discussed property taxes, education and jobs before a select committee of Berks and Schuylkill county party members Thursday night. When the vote was tallied, political veteran Jerry Knowles came away with the nod. The 60-year-old Tamaqua man, who has been in Harrisburg for the last 13 years as a member of Dave Argall's staff, accepted the nomination, He ackowledged that not all supported him but said he'd work for everyone:


Knowles will face Democratic challenger Bill Mackey of Andreas, who was endorsed by his party Wednesday night. The special election to replace Dave Argall will be held on primary day, May 19th.


Senator Dave Argall called for party unity behind Jerry Knowles in the race for the 124th Legislative District special election on May 19th. Argall, who held the seat serving Berks and Schuylkill counties for more than two decades, spoke after the vote of party conferees last night in Orwigsburg. He said that the Republican party is down seats in the state House, and called for everyone to work together:


Eight candidates were allowed 5 minutes to address the conferees, with time for questions and answers. Jerry Knowles, Barron "Boots" Hetherington and Roy Timpe Jr. made it through the first cut, with Knowles receiving the majority. The 17 conferees who voted for Knowles were selected from the entire 124th district. The seven week sprint now begins to the May special election to replace Dave Argall.


Shenandoah police are looking for three men who robbed a borough convenience store earlier this week. After 1am Tuesday, the men entered the Turkey Hill Minit Market on Main Street and demanded money from the store safe. The clerk, being unable to comply, $30 dollars was taken from the register by one of the men, brandishing a knife. The men are believed to be in their late teens, between 5 feet 8 and 6 feet tall. Two are described as white males, one believed to be of Hispanic origin. Contact Shenandoah police if you have any information that may aid in their investigation.


A New York man is jailed following an incident in Shenandoah this week. Police say that 24 year old Givaun Brown, Brooklyn, New York reportedly threatened Arthur Needham of South White Street with a knife and took his car. Brown was charged with making terroristic threats and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He was arraigned and taken to the county lockup in lieu of $10 thousand dollars bail.

Hundreds of Pa. juvenile convictions reversed

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has overturned likely hundreds of juvenile convictions issued by a corrupt judge. The high court on Thursday voided the convictions of many youth offenders who appeared before former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella from 2003 to 2008. Federal prosecutors charged Ciavarella and another judge with
taking $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in private lockups. The judges pleaded guilty to fraud last month and face sentences of more than seven years in prison. The juveniles whose records were expunged were low-level offenders who appeared in Ciavarella's courtroom without lawyers.

Pittsburgh, Villanova to meet with Final Four berth at stake

UNDATED (AP) - Pennsylvania will be represented in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.
Big East rivals Pittsburgh and Villanova have advanced to the East Regional championship on Saturday. The winner of that game heads to Detroit for the Final Four. Top-seeded Pittsburgh advanced with a 60-55 win over Xavier, while Villanova beat Duke for the first time in more than 50 years, 77-54. F

Ex-legislator says he's innocent of corruption

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The lawyer for a once-powerful former Pennsylvania state lawmaker says corruption charges against former House Democratic Whip Michael Veon are "clearly politically motivated." Defense lawyer Joel Sansone says it's no coincidence that Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett has only charged Democrats. Corbett has said he's investigating allegations of corruption by both Democrats and Republicans and he's filing charges when they're appropriate. Veon and an aide, Anna Marie Perretta-Rosepink, are accused of
siphoning millions of dollars in state grants from a nonprofit organization for personal benefit. Perretta-Rosepink says she's "100 percent innocent."

Global warming giving nuclear new claim to clean

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (AP) - A Gallup Poll released in recent days shows 59 percent favor the use of nuclear power. That's the highest percentage since Gallup first asked the question in 1994.
If the U.S. nuclear industry is hitting a new high point, Saturday marks the anniversary of its low point. Thirty years ago, the partial meltdown of Three Mile Island's Unit 2 near Harrisburg
put the perils and shortcomings of nuclear power under the world's microscope. The industry says it has made major safety advances since then. Three decades later, fears of an atomic catastrophe have been largely supplanted by fears about global warming, easing nuclear energy into the same sentence as wind and solar power. Dogged by price spikes and an environmental assault on carbon dioxide emissions, fossil fuels are the new clean-energy pariah.

Pro- or anti-nuke? Depends how you ask

UNDATED (AP) - Americans' support for nuclear power skidded in polling after the Three Mile Island accident 30 years ago and slipped more after the Chernobyl disaster seven years later. In
more recent years, nuclear power has regained popularity, but the level of support depends greatly on survey question wording. A variety of national polls have found support for nuclear power climbing - as long as the survey question provided a rationale for building new reactors. For example, questions sometimes mention reducing U.S. dependence on foreign energy or helping to curb global warming. In contrast, ABC News-Washington Post polls since 2001 asked
simply "In general, would you favor or oppose building more nuclear power plants at this time?" That question finds majority opposition.

Suspect in Philladelphia officer's slaying held for trial

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia judge says a man accused of killing a police officer is a "domestic urban terrorist." Municipal Judge Patrick Dugan ordered 33-year-old Rasheed
Scruggs to stand trial for murder. Scruggs is accused of fatally shooting Officer John Pawlowski on Feb. 13. Two officers, including Pawlowski's partner, testified that they were responding to a report that Scruggs was robbing a cab driver when the defendant opened fire from a concealed weapon, killing Pawlowski. Scruggs was wounded in the ensuing shoot-out with police and
spent a week in the hospital. He appeared in court with a walker. Scruggs' lawyer says he offered to waive the preliminary hearing to spare the feelings of the slain officer's family. He says prosecutors declined his offer.

Chu, Solis bring 'green jobs' money to Pa.

OAKDALE, Pa. (AP) - Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis have announced $102.5 million in green jobs funding while visiting a community college near Pittsburgh. The cabinet secretaries are making the visit Thursday as the Obama administration touts $102.5 million for energy efficiency and conservation projects in Pennsylvania as part of $3.2 billion earmarked for such projects nationwide. Chu and Solis are visiting a training facility at the Community College of Allegheny County in Oakdale. Allegheny County is getting a little over $8 million, second only to Philadelphia which received $14.1 million, the most of any
city or county in the state. The Pennsylvania Office of Energy and Technology Deployment is getting more than $23.5 million.

65-mile stretch of Pa. turnpike to close for 5 hours

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A 65-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is to close for five hours starting late Saturday night so two bridges in Cumberland County can be demolished.
The closing affects the area between Breezewood and Carlisle. Eastbound traffic is to be diverted off the turnpike starting at 11 p.m. Saturday and westbound traffic at 11:30 p.m.
Drivers who are diverted off the turnpike are to be given cards with detour directions. By 4 a.m. Sunday, the turnpike should be open to one lane of traffic in each direction and traffic should be back to normal by 8 a.m. Sunday. The one-lane restriction is to give the contractor
time to do cleanup work after the blasting.

FBI slay suspect faces arraignment on new charges

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pittsburgh-area woman already accused of murdering an FBI agent who came to arrest her husband on drug charges says she's "absolutely not guilty" of new drug
trafficking and weapons charges. Forty-year-old Christina Korbe entered the plea when she was arraigned by a federal magistrate in Pittsburgh on Thursday afternoon. Korbe has been jailed since she shot and killed agent Samuel Hicks, who was the first of several officers to enter her Glenshaw home in a pre-dawn raid Nov. 19. Korbe's attorneys have portrayed her as a soccer mom who shot Hicks only because she feared he was an intruder endangering her children. Last week's superseding indictment accuses her of trafficking cocaine since 1990 and with illegally possessing drugs and a gun. Korbe's attorney, John Elash, has not returned a call for comment.

2 roadies from Spears tour arrested in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh police have arrested two road crew members who worked for a contractor on Britney Spears' concert tour, accusing them of assaulting police. Police say they saw 34-year-old Rockey Lee Dickey Jr., of Manhattan Beach, Calif., hitting another man on a city sidewalk while on patrol about 1 a.m. Thursday. Police say when officers stepped in, Dickey swung at one of them, knocking off his hat. They say 23-year-old Alex Montes, of Valencia, Calif., then put an officer in a headlock. Police say they had to subdue Dickey with a Taser.
Both men were being held in the Allegheny County Jail on charges of assault and public drunkenness charges. It was not immediately known if they had attorneys. Spears' Web site has a statement saying the men worked for a contractor, not directly for the concert tour. It says the tour doesn't "support or tolerate this type of behavior."

Police puzzled by Pa. youth football coach slaying

CLAIRTON, Pa. (AP) - Homicide detectives are stumped by the fatal shooting of a youth football coach near Pittsburgh who has no known ties to the drug trade and is known for his community work with children. Allegheny County police Lt. William Palmer says there's no clear motive for the shooting of 28-year-old Demonje Rosser, of Clairton. Police say Rosser was shot near his home in the suburb about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh about 12:30 a.m. Thursday. Police say his wife was home when he arrived and heard a single gunshot. He
died a short time later at Jefferson Memorial Hospital. Palmer says it appears Rosser was a "clean-cut" guy, well-known for his work with children. Rosser coached the Clairton Bears midget football team and used to coach a seventh-grade football team.

Fairchild Semiconductor to close Pa. factory

MOUNTAIN TOP, Pa. (AP) - A semiconductor company is closing its northeastern Pennsylvania factory, costing more than 200 people their jobs. San Jose, Calif.-based Fairchild Semiconductor says it's closing the factory in Mountain Top, Luzerne County. But Fairchild says it will maintain a small office in the area for technology and product line functions. Fairchild also plans to close a factory in Bucheon, South Korea. The company says the factories should be closed by June 2010.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to furlough 167

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette told 167 managers and non-union workers that they must take a week of unpaid leave over the next three months. The newspaper reports Thursday that employees were told about the furloughs Wednesday. The furloughs are to be taken in April, May or June. The newspaper said further furloughs may also be ordered later
in the year. The Post-Gazette joins many other newspapers across the state and country that have furloughed employees this year to cut costs. This week, The Express-Times in Easton and Harrisburg Patriot-News also announced they would be furloughing some employees.

Pa. city: 2 banks robbed 500 yards, 3 hrs apart

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. (AP) - Police have arrested a man suspected of robbing two suburban Pittsburgh banks about 500 yards apart in a little more than three hours. Police in New Kensington say a man with a handgun robbed the Citizens Bank branch in a Giant Eagle supermarket about 10 a.m. Thursday. A Parkvale Bank in a shopping plaza next door was robbed about three hours later. Police say they arrested a suspect after a short foot chase in
nearby Arnold. No other details were immediately available. The banks are located on Tarentum Bridge Road, a major roadway in the city along the Allegheny River.

Mass AG reaches final Big Dig accident settlement

BOSTON (AP) - The Massachusetts attorney general has settled with a Pennsylvania-based Big Dig contractor over the 2006 collapse of a tunnel ceiling, concluding all litigation in an accident that killed a Boston woman. Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement Thursday
that designer Gannett Fleming has agreed to pay $1.5 million into a Central Artery maintenance trust fund. The The Camp Hill, Pa.-based company, which designed the ceiling, will also pay $50,000 to the city of Boston and forgo $150,000 in payments from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. Coakley has also reached a settlement agreement with Sika Corp.
It made the epoxy glue used in the ceiling that collapsed. Sika, in turn, sold the product to Powers Fasteners Inc., which has already settled. Sika has agreed to pay $200,000 into the trust fund, which is being used for upkeep on the $15 billion tunnel complex.

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Doubts are rising along with the Red River in North Dakota. People in Fargo are increasingly wondering if they can hold off the waterway, which is expected to crest at up to 43 feet. Officials are stepping up sandbagging operations and vowing to build the dikes higher and higher to try to prevent flooding.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is expected to announce his strategy for the war in Afghanistan. Officials say the president plans to send thousands of more military and civilian trainers on top of the 17,000 combat troops he's already ordered. The strategy includes no timeline for withdrawing troops.

BEIJING (AP) - Chinese health officials say that hand, foot and mouth disease has sickened 41,000 people across the country and killed 18 children so far this year. The outbreak appears more widespread than in recent years, although a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization says that could be partly due to more awareness.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The octuplet mom's new home is quickly filling up. Two more of the world's longest surviving octuplets went home Thursday night. That means Nadya Suleman is caring for a total of 12 children at her four-bedroom home in Southern California. Two babies remain in the hospital.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The murder case against music producer Phil Spector is in the hands of a California jury again. The case was turned over to the jurors after the prosecution concluded its
rebuttal to defense closing arguments. Spector is being retried in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson six years ago.


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