AP PA Headlines, and ‘Robert Lee’ out as ESPN announcer

AP PA Headlines

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania prison officials say a pilot program designed to lower the re-arrest rate for nonviolent drug offenders is showing promise in its second year.  The Corrections Department said Tuesday the program known as SIP-HOPE is cutting recidivism by 13 percent, and participants are spending fewer days behind bars.  The program was developed with researchers at Drexel University, and put it in place at two halfway houses.

It uses a method called “swift, certain and fair supervision,” a 24-month program that incorporates inpatient and outpatient drug treatment along with clear rules and the use of breathalyzers every time the offenders enter the halfway houses.  They’re also subject to random drug testing. First time violators get 24 hours in prison, followed by more prison time and potential expulsion from the program.


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is urging House Republican leaders to “get their act together” and return to Harrisburg to resolve a badly out-of-balance budget that’s lingering seven weeks into the fiscal year.  Wolf supports a $2.2 billion revenue plan that passed the Republican-controlled Senate last month. It relies heavily on borrowing, taxing consumers’ utility bills and expanding casino gambling to fill gaps in Pennsylvania’s deficit-ridden finances.


House Republicans say they’re trying to develop a revenue package without increasing borrowing or taxes.  Some state officials are warning that, without a loan or an emergency revenue package within days or weeks, the state must start postponing payment on bills or freezing program money. Wolf isn’t discussing his contingency plans.


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A marketing study says Philadelphia’s 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on soda and other sweetened drinks is chasing customers out of the city.  Philly.com reports that the study by the Florida marketing firm Catalina showed sales of such drinks at nearly 1,000 franchised grocery and drug stores have fallen 55 percent, while sales at stores studied just outside the city’s border rose 38 percent.


Catalina says the study wasn’t paid for by any soft drink companies, but city officials are skeptical of the data. The tax has raised $39.3 million for prekindergarten and other programs, less than the city’s initial projection of $42.6 million.  City spokesman Mike Dunn says that Catalina is exaggerating the tax’s impact and that it doesn’t factor the inconvenience of traveling outside the city to buy the drinks.


Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved


Conversation starters and Features

NEW YORK (AP) — Preliminary figures from Nielsen show President Donald Trump’s speech on the war in Afghanistan was seen by nearly 28 million TV viewers, just under the number who watched his inauguration but significantly less than the number who viewed his February address to Congress.  A total of 17.3 million viewers saw the Monday speech on the big four broadcast networks, with NBC the most-watched with 5.8 million.


A total of 10.4 million people watched on the three cable networks, with Fox News Channel leading with 5 million viewers.  Viewership for the half-hour speech fell short of President Barack Obama’s December 2009 Afghanistan war address, which was seen by 40 million people.  An estimated 31 million viewers watched coverage of Trump’s inauguration, while 47.7 million saw his address to Congress in February.


NEW YORK (AP) — Billy Joel wore a bright yellow Star of David on his black suit during an encore at Madison Square Garden.  Monday’s performance by “The Piano Man” came more than a week after a rally by neo-Nazis and other groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, ended in deadly violence against counterprotesters.  When asked about Joel’s attire, his spokeswoman on Tuesday quoted Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”


Joel joined with Patty Smyth on stage in taking a swipe at President Donald Trump’s administration. Photos of fired officials appeared on screen as Smyth sang her hit, “Goodbye to You.”  Joel’s ex-wife Christie Brinkley and their daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, attended the concert. Many of his relatives died in the Holocaust.


NEW HAVEN, CT. – Yale University will remove what it calls a “problematic” doorway stone carving depicting a Puritan settler aiming a musket at a Native American.  School officials announced the move Tuesday, after being criticized for covering the musket with removable stonework last year. Critics called it whitewashing history.  The 88-year-old carving on Sterling Memorial Library will be moved soon to another location and made available for public viewing and study.


Yale officials say covering up the musket was against principles Yale adopted last year after the alteration. The school says it has an obligation “not to hide from or destroy reminders of unpleasant history.”  Yale earlier this year renamed Calhoun College after decades of debate, because its namesake was former Vice President, Yale alumnus and slavery supporter John C. Calhoun.


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Some Harvard University professors are fighting a proposal that would ban all fraternities and single-gender clubs on campus.  More than 20 faculty members have signed their support for a new rule that would forbid the Cambridge, Massachusetts, university from punishing students for joining “any lawful organization.” The professors say they aim to protect the “right of free association.” They’re led by professor and former dean Harry Lewis.


The move is in response to a July proposal from a separate faculty panel that would bar students from joining fraternities, sororities and all-male groups known on campus as final clubs.  Harvard’s administration has been trying to crack down on final clubs, saying they have problems with alcohol abuse and sexual assault.  University President Drew Faust will make the final decision. Harvard officials haven’t commented.


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Backlash continues after a Missouri state lawmaker temporarily posted a comment on Facebook in which she expressed hope that President Donald Trump would be assassinated. Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Parson sent a letter to legislators Tuesday asking for a special session to oust Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal. The St. Louis-area lawmaker has resisted calls to resign for posting the comment last week that said: “I hope Trump is assassinated!”


Parson’s request for a special session came hours after Republican and Democratic state Senate leaders removed Chappelle-Nadal from all of her legislative committee assignments.  Chappelle-Nadal later deleted the post and has since apologized. But Parson and Republican Gov. Eric Greitens have said senators should oust her from office if she doesn’t resign.  Expelling her from office would require a two-thirds vote.


NEW YORK (AP) — A man whose Confederate flag display in his Manhattan apartment windows was met with hurled rocks, a broken window and legal action last week says the reaction reflects a misunderstanding of the flag’s meaning.  William Green says in an email Tuesday that, in his words: “The problem here is media and schools abusing their power and leaving the population completely ignorant of what the Dixie flag symbolizes.”


He says it represents Confederate fathers who loved their country, and it’s about “heritage, not hate.” He’s says the flags were there for more than a year. But they attracted new attention after an Aug. 12 white nationalist rally to preserve a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, spiraled into violence.  They were gone as of Monday.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Visitors to the University of Southern California might be muttering, “What fools these mortals be,” as they stroll past a statue of the legendary queen of Troy and notice William Shakespeare’s name seemingly misspelled at the base.  To USC officials, it’s much ado about nothing.  “To E, or not to E, that is the question,” the school responded in a statement Tuesday when asked why Shakespeare’s name is missing the last letter E in a quotation attributed to him.


The school says Shakespeare’s name has been spelled many different ways over the years.  USC says it settled on a popular 18th century spelling because of the “ancient feel” sculptor Christopher Slatoff gave the work.  The statue, of Queen Hecuba, was unveiled at Thursday’s opening of the school’s new USC Village.


NEW YORK (AP) — “Transformers: The Last Knight” star Mark Wahlberg has outmuscled Dwayne Johnson to become Hollywood’s highest-paid actor in the past year with a transforming income of $68 million. Forbes magazine says the former rapper known as Marky Mark beat out “Baywatch” star Johnson, with $65 million, and Johnson’s “The Fate of the Furious” co-star Vin Diesel, worth $54.5 million.


The rest of the top five, released Tuesday, includes Adam Sandler, flush with a Netflix deal, at No. 4 with $50.5 million and Jackie Chan with $49 million. The top 10 actors banked a cumulative $488.5 million — nearly three times the $172.5 million combined total of the 10 top-earning women.


BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — ESPN broadcaster Robert Lee will not work Virginia’s season opener because of recent violence in Charlottesville sparked by the decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. A spokeswoman for ESPN says the decision was made “as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name.”


Plans to remove a statue of Lee led to a protest in Charlottesville earlier this month that attracted what is believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade. Violent clashes erupted with counter-protesters. ESPN says the decision to put Lee on another game was made “collectively.” It also says it’s “a shame that this is even a topic of conversation.”


WASHINGTON (AP) — It looks like automated safety systems are doing their job — preventing car crashes. That’s the finding of a couple of studies being released today. The two institute studies found that lane-keeping systems, some of which even nudge the vehicle back into its lane for the driver, and blind spot monitoring systems had lower crash rates than the same vehicles without the systems. One of the studies says if all passenger vehicles had been equipped with lane departure warning systems in 2015, an estimated 85,000 police-reported crashes would have been prevented.


Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved



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