Eastern hellbender voted Pennsylvania's official amphibian
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania is getting an official amphibian, a nocturnal, unsightly salamander that's sometimes known as a snot otter, lasagna lizard or mud devil. The House voted 191-6 Tuesday to grant the honor to the Eastern hellbender, which can grow to be more than 2 feet (a half meter) long and is battling declining numbers across much of its range in the United States. The path to legislative recognition was not smooth, as the Eastern hellbender faced a stiff challenge from another amphibian called Wehrle's salamander. Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, who helped shepherd the bill through the House, said hellbenders had been on decline. "Not many people have actually seen hellbenders," Everett said after the vote. "They live only in very clean streams, and they live under rocks." They are the largest North American amphibian, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, and their jarring appearance has inspired a colorful set of nicknames that also include devil dog, ground puppy and Allegheny alligator. Members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's student leadership council began the campaign to designate it as the state's official amphibian, and their efforts were aided by Lycoming College's Clean Water Institute. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation said hellbenders were plentiful in Pennsylvania as recently as 1990. Their numbers have since been decimated in Eastern states by pollution and sedimentation, researchers say. Their range generally covers the Appalachian Mountains, from southern New York to northern Georgia. Among the factors researchers also worry about are disease and warming water temperatures caused by climate change. Hellbenders do not have federal protected status, and while some states give them protected status, Pennsylvania does...
Retrasan uso de umpires robots y loma más lejana
NUEVA YORK (AP) - Los umpires robot tendrán más tiempo para calentar. La oficina de Grandes Ligas y la Liga del Atlántico dijeron el miércoles que el experimento con tecnología de radar para decretar bolas y strikes no se utilizará en cuanto arranque la actividad de la liga menor independiente el 25 de abril. En su lugar, "se implementará gradualmente a lo largo de la campaña 2019". No se anunció una fecha específica. Los umpires principales utilizarán auriculares y recibirán información de bolas y strikes de parte de TrackMan, un sistema computarizado que utiliza un radar Doppler. Los umpires podrán hacer valer su decisión por encima de la que dicte la computadora, que considera un strike incluso si la pelota rebotó en el suelo antes de cruzar por la zona. TrackMan tampoco evalúa los medios swings. De igual manera se postergó una segunda prueba: Prolongar 61 centímetros (2 pies) la distancia entre la placa de pitcheo y el plato a 19,05 metros (62,5 pies). Originalmente, el experimento estaba programado para comenzar después de la pausa del Juego de Estrellas de este año; sin embargo, se postergó hasta la segunda mitad de 2020. "Estos cambios reflejan el deseo conjunto de que las nuevas mejoras tecnológicas en los parques de la ALPB estén totalmente instaladas y calibradas antes de la implementación de estas reglas experimentales", dijeron la MLB y la Liga del Atlántico en un comunicado conjunto. Los equipos de la Liga del Atlántico son: Bridgewater, Nueva Jersey; Central Islip, Nueva York; High Point, Carolina del Norte; Lancaster, Pensilvania; New Britain, Connecticut; Sugar Land, Texas; Waldorf, Maryland; y York, Pensilvania.
Judge orders former Penn St. President Spanier to jail May 1
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A judge is giving former Penn State president Graham Spanier three weeks to report to jail and start serving a sentence imposed over his handling of a complaint about Jerry Sandusky showering with a boy. Court officials on Wednesday released an order from Judge John Boccabella that says Spanier can do his time in the jail near his home in State College if county jail wardens approve. Spanier has remained out on bail after his 2017 conviction for misdemeanor child endangerment. Spanier was forced out as university president in 2011, after Sandusky was charged with child molestation. The 70-year-old Spanier was sentenced to a minimum of two months in jail and two months of house arrest. The judge is also giving his approval to Spanier's participation in a work-release program.
Fight over sexual abuse victims' lawsuits returns to Senate
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's battle over giving now-adult victims of child sexual abuse another chance to sue perpetrators or institutions that may have covered it up is returning to the Senate. Competing bills landed in the chamber Wednesday, six months after wider child sexual abuse legislation inspired by Roman Catholic Church scandals stalled there. The fight that stalled the legislation was over providing a two-year window for victims to file civil lawsuits even if they'd lost that right because they passed Pennsylvania's legal age limit. The House overwhelmingly passed legislation to relax criminal and civil limitations and to start the multiyear process to amend the state constitution to create a two-year window. Senate Democrats are introducing legislation to allow a two-year window in the law, but opponents, including Roman Catholic bishops, say that's unconstitutional.
Flags lowered in memory of Marines killed in Afghanistan
NEW YORK (AP) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered flags lowered to half-staff in memory of two Marine Corps reservists from New York who were killed in Afghanistan. Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks and Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman were killed by a roadside bomb Monday along with Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, of York, Pennsylvania. Slutman was a 15-year member of the Fire Department of New York. Hendriks' aunt tells Newsday that the resident of Long Island's Locust Valley was a sweet, kind and loving young man. Lorraine Caliendo says Hendriks' brother Joseph, also a Marine, had just started a tour in Afghanistan but instead will be escorting his coffin back home. Caliendo says both brothers hoped to become police officers after their military service. She calls Robert's death a "horrible, horrible thing." ___ Information from: Newsday, http://www.newsday.com
Environmental groups criticize state's river pollution deal
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - PPG Industries Inc. is agreeing to pay $1.2 million and treat polluted water seeping into the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania from a long-closed waste site, although environmental organizations called it a "slap on the wrist." Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection and PPG signed the agreement Tuesday. The department says that, from the 1920s until 1970, PPG used an approximately 70-acre site near its Ford City glass manufacturing plant to dump toxic waste that continues to pollute runoff and groundwater. PPG says the agreement demonstrates its commitment to address conditions at the property. PennEnvironment and the Sierra Club sued PPG in 2012, yielding a federal judge's ruling last year that PPG is liable for the contamination. The groups say they'll continue with their lawsuit because the agreement doesn't require PPG to clean up the site.
Gas liquids pipeline owner agrees to safety study, new fine
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The heavily fined owner of natural gas liquids pipelines across southern Pennsylvania is agreeing to another $200,000 fine and a study on risks to the Mariner East 1 pipeline. Lawyers for a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer LP submitted the paperwork Wednesday to the state Public Utility Commission, whose members must approve a proposed agreement with agency enforcement lawyers before it becomes final. The case stems from a 2017 leak in Berks County on a section of corroded pipeline. The study must include an analysis of corrosion, structural issues and other threats to the 1930s-era pipeline. Energy Transfer's Mariner East 1, 2 and 2X projects are blamed for polluting waterways in dozens of places and causing sinkholes near homes. Pennsylvania's environmental regulators halted Energy Transfer's construction permits and prosecutors are investigating the projects.
Bellwether election in Pittsburgh suburb won by Democrat
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A special election is set for a vacant state Senate seat in politically divided suburban Pittsburgh where the sides are testing some national themes ahead of 2020's presidential election. Tuesday's contest pits Republican D. Raja against Democrat Pam Iovino for a seat largely controlled by Republicans the past half-century. Raja is chief executive of an information technology consulting firm he helped start. Iovino is a Navy veteran who held a top U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs post. Republicans control the state Senate, 26-21. The seat is in territory historically influenced by Republican-leaning neighborhoods, but is viewed as increasingly friendly to Democrats and has a Democratic registration edge. President Donald Trump won it by 6 percentage points in 2016. But Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf won it by 16 points in 2018.
Freshman's prayer in Pennsylvania House generates complaints
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A freshman Republican state representative's opening prayer in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is drawing complaints that it was inappropriately divisive. Rep. Stephanie Borowicz began the day's session on Monday with a Christian invocation that thanked Jesus for the honor and President Donald Trump for standing "behind Israel unequivocally." She made her remarks shortly after a Muslim Democrat from Philadelphia was sworn in after winning a special election. Democratic Leader Frank Dermody called Borowicz's invocation "beneath the dignity of this House" and asked that a group be set up to review the procedure. Borowicz represents a Clinton County district and insists she did nothing wrong. Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai is currently appealing a federal judge's decision that stopped his policy of preventing nonbelievers from giving the invocations.
Treatment firm accused of exploiting addicts, insurers
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania attorney general's office is charging the co-founder and executives of an addiction treatment firm and accusing them of profiting off addicts by fraudulently billing insurance companies for tens of millions of dollars. Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the charges Monday against 11 people and nine corporations. The case revolves around Liberation Way, a for-profit treatment company with centers in suburban Philadelphia that was sold to a private equity firm in 2017. Shapiro says the two-year investigation found more than $44 million in profits from fraudulent schemes. Those alleged schemes include billing for substandard, nonexistent or unnecessary treatment, generally targeting out-of-network insurance carriers. Shapiro also says the company got kickbacks from insurance coverage of unnecessary urine lab tests and warehoused addicts in poorly run unlicensed inpatient facilities.
Foreman defends acquittal of officer for black teen's death
PITTSBURGH (AP) - High school and college students are planning to stage walk-outs and a protest following the acquittal of a white police officer charged in the 2018 fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager outside Pittsburgh. The protest is planned for noon Monday at the Pittsburgh City-County Building. Former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld was charged with homicide for shooting 17-year-old Antwon Rose II last June. Rosfeld walked out of the courtroom a free man Friday after jurors rejected a prosecutor's argument that he acted as Rose's "judge, jury and executioner." Rosfeld says he thought Rose or another suspect had a gun pointed at him. Rose's family can pursue the federal civil rights lawsuit they filed last August against Rosfeld and East Pittsburgh, a small municipality about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from downtown Pittsburgh.
Surprise? Pennsylvania's 2020 primary could be competitive
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Beto O'Rourke's splashy campaign event in Pennsylvania this week appeared to herald the start of the state's presidential primary season. But if Pennsylvania's Democratic Party faithful are searching for a favorite from among the crowded 2020 primary field, it may be in vain. Early-voting states typically make that choice. Pennsylvania historically gets the short end of the stick in presidential primaries, rarely voting in time to help decide a party's nominee, despite being one of the most sought-after general election prizes. Yet, Democratic Party strategists and officials suggest that a crush of candidates could force a competitive race all the way until April 28, 2020, when Pennsylvania holds its primary election. "When you have a big field like this and it's possible to win early-voting states with 10, 12 or 15 percent, it really is open to everybody," said Aren Platt, a Philadelphia-area Democratic campaign strategist. Pennsylvania is the sixth-largest electoral prize for Democrats seeking the party's nomination and, next year, it will be the last of the delegate-rich states to vote, except perhaps New Jersey. It also occupies a unique place in the minds of Democrats. It flipped to Republican Donald Trump - by less than 1 percentage point - in the 2016 election after backing Democrats in six straight presidential elections. To some Democrats, a candidate must show strength in a Pennsylvania primary, since the state is a must-win in 2020. "To me, you would have to," said U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans of Philadelphia. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand. Trump won Pennsylvania. That's what put it in play." In the past, Pennsylvania's primary election was largely academic. Usually, earlier-voting states winnow the field to...
Lawmakers urged to fix Pennsylvania turnpike's fiscal plight
Pennsylvania's elected fiscal watchdog is urging state lawmakers to rescue a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission that is deep in debt from payments it must make to the state, despite annual toll increases going back 11 straight years.
Parents of Penn State pledge sue frat members over his death
The parents of a Penn State sophomore who died two years ago after a night of drinking and hazing have sued 28 members of a shuttered fraternity and a security company hired to help enforce alcohol regulations
Pennsylvania principal had no 'ill intent' when she wore blackface with Steve Harvey costume - NY Daily News
An elementary school principal in Pennsylvania said she meant no offense after a picture of her sporting black face as part of a Steve Harvey costume was shared online