Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Being Barack Obama

Courtesy of Rob Tornroe

First, McCain adopted Obama's longstanding notion of sending at least three additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, even after McCain said for years that Iraq was the central battleground in the war on terror.

Now, McCain says that he thinks Obama's 16-month timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq is a "pretty good timetable."

Coming next week: McCain changes his position on the gas-tax holiday, calling it a "political gimmick."

Saturday, July 26, 2008


PORT CARBON — Eleven days after a Shenandoah man died from injuries he suffered in an assault, two teenagers were charged Friday with homicide — exposing them to possible life sentences — and an 18-year-old man was charged with less serious offenses.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Carney Video

4 to be charged in Shenandoah beating death

James Goodman, Schuylkill County District Attorney, says four people will be charged in the death of immigrant Luis Ramirez, Shenandoah. Three will be charged as adults, the fourth as a juvenile.The suspects are scheduled for arraignment in Port Carbon at 10 a.m. Friday.Goodman says he will provide more information at a news conference.

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NOTE: The AP is reporting 3 will be charged. The difference may lie in that 3 will be charged as adults and the fourth will be charged as juvenile.

UPDATE: From the Pottsville-Republican

Two teens were charged with homicide in connection with the July 12 beating and subsequent death of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala in Shenandoah. A third faces other charges related to the incident.

Brandon Piekarsky, 16 and Colin Walsh, 17, both of Shenandoah, are incarcerated in Schuylkill County Prison after being arraigned before Magisterial District Judge David A. Plachko, Port Carbon on Friday morning.

Piekarsky and Walsh are both charged with one count each of criminal homicide, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, simple assault, and ethnic intimidation.

Piekarsky is also charged with criminal solicitation to hinder apprehension or prosecution, and purchase or consumption of alcohol by a minor.

Derrick Donchak, 18, also of Shenandoah, is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, criminal solicitation to hinder apprehension or prosecution, ethnic intimidation, corruption of minors, purchase or consumption of alcohol by a minor, and selling or furnishing alcohol to minors.

Walsh and Piekarsky were sent to Schuylkill County Prison without bail. Donchak was incarcerated after he was unable to post 10 percent of $75,000 bail.

A fourth person is expected to be charged as a juvenile.

A preliminary hearing has been set for Walsh, Piekarsky and Donchak at 10 a.m. Aug. 4 before Magisterial District Judge Anthony Kilker in Shenandoah.

Obama's Speech in Germany

Thursday, July 24, 2008

City of Shamokin Faces Bankruptcy

$2.7 million in debt. Now Shamokin is morally and financially strapped.

If bankruptcy is declared, the state would take over day-day-to-day financial operations for several years, and may be forced to make cuts in personnel and equipment and services, and levee a substantial tax increase to generate necessary revenue.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Shenandoah beating victim dies

SHENANDOAH — A 25-year-old father of three with roots in Mexico died Monday morning from injuries he suffered in an altercation near Vine Street Park on Saturday night, an incident some say was racially motivated.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

The signing of HB1150 in Pennsylvania

At 11:30 on July 9th 2008, Pennsylvania took a big step forward for the rights of families with autism and the 8000 people who are diagnosed with colon cancer in Pennsylvania. Governor Rendell signed HB1150 into law.

Pictured above at yesterday's signing with Governor Rendell is Janet Bilger, co-chair of the Central Susquehanna Valley Colon Cancer Task Force. The task force has spent the last four years lobbying many members of the General Assembly to pass SB146 or HB972 for colorectal screening.

After the May Senate Hearing on SB146 and a conversation with Senator Don White head of the banking and insurance subcommittee, most thought colorectal screening would be pushed back to the January 2009 session. Pennsylvania has not passed an insurance mandate in over 10 years and once referred to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council where mandates go to die.

Senator Robert Tomlinson attached most of SB146 to HB1150. Tomlison was the original sponsor of SB146. The exception being the group plans with 50 members or less were excluded from the mandate. This was a concession to Senator White to protect small business.

In the end it was House Speaker O'Brien, prime sponsor of HB1150, coming together with Tomlinson with some concession by White and to White.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Govenor Rendell's Public Schedule

Governor Rendell’s Public Schedule - July 09, 2008

11:30 a.m. Governor Rendell to sign HB 1150 regarding Autism Services The Vista School 1249 Cocoa Ave. Hershey


Colon Cancer Screening legislation is also contained in the bill.

Kanjorski parking garage earmark blocked

A $5.6 million earmark that U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Wilkes-Barre, requested in a 2005 transportation bill to build a parking garage at the familiar sounding Kanjorski Center in Nanticoke is being blocked by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Colon Cancer Screening Bill goes to Rendell!!!

Under the radar of HB1150, colon cancer screening will go to Govenor Rendell's desk to be signed. This bill was known throughout PA as the Autism Bill.

Here is word from the PA American Cancer Society:

In May 2008, the American Cancer Society, represented by our Board Chairman, Dr. Sam Monismith, testified once again on behalf of Senate Bill 146, colon cancer screening coverage legislation. Dr. Ron Myers, Chair of the PA Cancer Control Consortium, also testified on behalf of the bill. Not long after that, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee merged colon cancer screening, autism services coverage, and state oversight of a merger between two large insurers (Highmark Blue Shield and Independence Blue Cross) into House Bill 1150. The House and Senate subsequently debated, amended and passed the bill in late June/early July.

On the evening of July 3rd, while most of us were beginning to enjoy the Independence Day holiday weekend, the PA Senate concurred with House Bill 1150, sending the bill to the governor's desk for signature. We do expect the Governor to sign the bill in the near future; it will take effect 60 days from that date.

Bill Contains Exemptions

While the bill contains two exemptions, it will result in increased coverage for colorectal cancer screenings in PA. The exemptions include policies written for small businesses (50 employees or less), as well as coverage for the two newest screening methods (FOBT/DNA and virtual colonoscopy). For those now included, the bill requires coverage for each of the original screening methods -- fecal occult blood test (FOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy, barium enema and colonoscopy. Although we are disappointed that the bill does not provide comprehensive coverage for all policy holders, we recognize that it does increase coverage for many.

I did attend the Senate hearing in May and thought colon cancer screening was a dead issue. Senator White claimed not to be a "saviour" in a post hearing conversation with me. Although his website claims something different.

In Other News

Monday, July 7, 2008

'Maroons Night' at Wachovia Arena getting 'lukewarm response

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers have received a “lukewarm response” to promotions encouraging people from the Pottsville area to attend Pottsville “Maroons Night” at Wachovia Stadium, Wilkes-Barre, on Saturday, Michael J. Slusser, director of media for the Pioneers, said Thursday.

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Friday, July 4, 2008