AP PA headlines and features

 

Budget deadlock politics are first debate in governor’s race

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The slow-motion arc of Pennsylvania’s budget negotiations is a sort of first debate stage for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the would-be contenders hoping to contest Wolf’s re-election bid next year.  Wolf has kept a low public profile. He’s refused to discuss the ins and outs of negotiations, or cast blame, saying only that his administration continues to negotiate and that he’s optimistic about getting a deal.

The potential Republican nominees have each tried to paint Wolf as out of touch or unable to lead.  They include Paul Mango, a former health care consultant from suburban Pittsburgh and state Sen. Scott Wagner, of York County.  House Speaker Mike Turzai, of Allegheny County, has all-but declared his candidacy.

 

YARDLEY, Pa. (AP) — Hundreds of family, friends and community members in Pennsylvania have gathered for a vigil to remember four missing young men who were killed and their remains buried on a farm.  The vigil was held Sunday night at the Garden of Reflection in Lower Makefield Township. Matthew Schuler, a former contestant on NBC’s “The Voice” and a Bucks County native, sang “Hallelujah.”

The vigil was held in honor of 22-year-old Mark Sturgis, 21-year-old Tom Meo, 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro and 19-year-old Jimi Tar Patrick.  Police found the missing men’s remains on a farm in Solebury Township last week.  The farm owners’ son and his cousin have been charged in the slayings.  In a statement given to reporters after the vigil, the grandparents of Patrick thanked investigators “who worked so long and hard to bring our boys home.”

 

MILL RUN, Pa. (AP) — Officials say an overflowing stream following heavy rain toppled a large bronze statue at architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater house in Pennsylvania.  Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Director Lynda Waggoner says Bear Run, which flows beneath the National Historic Landmark in Fayette County, “rose to a deluge” early Saturday.

The water didn’t damage the interior of the house, but Waggoner said it toppled a tree that hit a wall that the “Mother and Child” statue by sculptor Jacques Lipchitz rests on. It dislodged it from its place between the creek and a plunge pool beneath the house. Trees by the guest house were also damaged.  Waggoner said the submerged statue, held up by a chain installed after a 1956 flood, was removed after water levels dropped and damage is being assessed.

 

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia man has finally received his high school diploma — at 97-years-old.  Charles Leuzzi left high school in his junior year and fought in World War II.  His heroism earned him two Purple Hearts and four Bronze Star medals. On Sunday, the School District of Philadelphia gave him his honorary diploma.  Leuzzi says he had to wait a long time, but he finally did it.  When asked about going to college, Leuzzi says he might as well.  “I don’t have anything else to do,” he says.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

 

Oddities and Conversation Starters

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act hinges in part on enticing young adults into the insurance market with cheap, bare-bones plans. The argument is that keeps prices lower for everyone.  But cheap isn’t free, and some young adults would rather play the odds than buy insurance.

Analysts say other young adults, especially ones with low incomes or pre-existing conditions, could see their costs soar or drop out of the market.  The retooled bill in the Senate includes a proposal from conservative Sen. Ted Cruz to allow insurers to sell plans with minimal coverage, as long as they also offer more complete coverage.  Insurers could deny the slimmer coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charge them more.

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Technology companies and civil liberties groups have joined Facebook in a fight over government access to social media accounts.  The Washington Post reports that the timing of the government’s request and other references in court documents suggest the search warrants relate to demonstrations during President Donald Trump’s inauguration, when more than 200 people were charged with rioting.

A court order blocks Facebook from letting users know when law enforcement investigators ask to search their online information, particularly their political affiliations and comments.  Facebook argues the court order violates First Amendment protections of the company and individuals.  A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on the case, which is in the D.C. Court of Appeals.

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Should you be tipped off by Facebook if someone from law enforcement asks to check your online information — including comments you may have posted? Facebook says it should be able to let you know — but the government says no. And that is the basis of a legal battle being waged in Washington D.C. Facebook is fighting a court order that prevents it from alerting users that law enforcement is sniffing around your account. Major tech companies and civil liberties groups are siding with Facebook in the case. It’s unclear when the issue will be decided.

 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The second person to walk on the moon is rolling out the red carpet for the red planet.  Buzz Aldrin is hosting a sold-out gala for his nonprofit space education foundation, ShareSpace Foundation, at the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday. The event will commemorate the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. He believes people will be able to land on Mars by 2040. That’s a goal that NASA shares.  Aldrin’s foundation says the gala is the first part of a three-year campaign to help fund advancements that will lead to the future habitation of Mars.

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — A robotics team of six girls from Afghanistan is attending an international competition in Washington, after clearing visa obstacles that prompted intervention from President Donald Trump.  The team was the first to be introduced at an opening ceremony Sunday for the three-day high school competition.

They will compete against entrants from more than 150 countries in the FIRST Global Challenge. It’s the first annual robotics competition designed to encourage youths to pursue careers in math and science.  The girls are entering a robot they made that can recognize blue and orange and sort balls into correct locations.  The team was twice rejected for U.S. visas. They arrived in Washington from their hometown of Herat, Afghanistan, early Saturday after Trump’s last-minute intervention to sidestep the visa system.

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An astronomy buff and her fiance want to make sure nothing eclipses their Missouri wedding ceremony. Samantha Adams tells The Kansas City Star that her longtime fascination with the stars prompted her to schedule the ceremony for 12:30 p.m. Central time on Aug. 21 — coinciding with an extremely rare total solar eclipse.

She says she couldn’t think of a “more dreamlike wedding.” Adams, who has a tattoo of the space probe Voyager on her left arm, says she once dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but multiple knee surgeries forced her to take a different path. Now she lives in Overland Park, Kansas and has a master’s degree in industrial education.

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Like the weather, summer at the box office is starting to heat up. The latest numbers show there is room for at least two big hit movies at the same time. This week’s box office champion is “War for the Planet of the Apes.” It took in $56.5 million dollars in tickets, taking over the box office lead from “Spider Man.” Spidey took in $45.2 million after taking in $117 million in its debut last weekend. Usually summer is a time when the critics hold their collective noses while the dollars roll in. But this year the season appears to be flush with good movies.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

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