Latest Pennsylvania news, business, and entertainment


EASTON, Pa. (AP) – Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has eulogized Margaret Thatcher as a “remarkable and towering figure” who will be missed on both sides of the Atlantic. Blair spoke about his predecessor during a speech at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. Thatcher died Monday at age 87. Blair says that even though he disagreed with Thatcher politically, she was a “great leader” who pursued her aims with fearlessness and determination. Blair recalled a time, early in his political career, when Thatcher got the better of him during an exchange in the British House of Commons. He says Thatcher taught him “one of my earliest lessons in politics.”


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania state lawmakers are joining a newly formed government reform caucus and hoping that its bipartisan membership and recent scandals will help propel their bills into law. The latest bills were unveiled Monday by Sens. John Eichelberger and Michael Stack. One bill is designed to prevent lobbyists from acting as campaign managers and consultants. Other bills would require more gifts to lawmakers and executive-branch officials to be publicly reported and prohibit the governor or his staff from accepting gifts from friends who do business with or are regulated by the state. Another would seek more transparency in state contracting. The proposals come in the wake of a state Supreme Court justice’s corruption conviction and state prosecutors filing charges in an alleged “pay to play” scandal at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.


HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) – A new report says Pennsylvania’s juvenile courts have made dozens of rule changes in response to an internal review prompted by a court scandal in Luzerne County. Chief Justice Ronald Castille produced the eight-page report Monday at the Juvenile Justice Academy in Hershey. The courts discourage using restraints on juveniles in courtrooms, require lawyers to be present during proceedings, speed up appeals when the sentence includes removal from the juvenile’s home and mandate tougher ethical rules for prosecutors. The Luzerne County scandal, which resulted in the criminal convictions against two judges, led to the expungement of criminal arrest records of 2,400 people.


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz is kicking off her 2014 campaign for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania governor. The 64-year-old Schwartz has said for weeks that she intends to run, but a spokesman said she plans to file papers to set up a state fundraising committee on Monday. Her chief of staff, Rachel Magnuson, says Schwartz will transfer $3 million from her federal campaign committee. The fifth-term congresswoman from the Philadelphia suburbs is the fourth Democrat to declare their candidacy for a primary that’s more than a year away. The other candidates include Tom Wolf, a York businessman and former state revenue secretary who has pledged to sink at least $10 million of his own money into the primary campaign, and state government veteran John Hanger.


(Copyright 2012, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved)


The Latest Business News


NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks ended modestly higher Monday, shrugging off an early decline, as investors waited to see whether big U.S. companies would deliver on expectations of strong earnings in 2013. Alcoa became the first major U.S. company to report earnings late Monday, and the results were mostly good. The aluminum maker’s income was higher than analysts were expecting, but its revenue fell slightly short of expectations. Later this week the pace picks up with reports from Bed Bath & Beyond, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48.23 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 14,613.48. The S&P 500 index closed up 9.79 points, or 0.6 percent, at 1,563.07. The Nasdaq composite index rose 18.39 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,222.25.


BANGKOK (AP) – Japan’s benchmark stock index rose for a fifth straight day today, extending a rally sparked last week after the Bank of Japan announced a bold program to revive the country’s moribund economy. Other Asian stock markets were modestly higher. The head of Japan’s central bank, Haruhiko Kuroda, on Thursday delivered on promises to take aggressive action to shake Japan out of nearly two decades of growth-crippling deflation. He unveiled plans to pump huge amounts of money into the economy via government bond purchases and pursue a 2 percent inflation target in order to spark lending and spending. Benchmark crude oil rose and remains above $93 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro but gained against the yen.


UNDATED (AP) – Its earnings season again and in addition to those reports, the Commerce Department will report today on February’s wholesale trade inventories. In addition, the Labor Department will release its job openings and labor turnover survey for February. The Treasury Department reports the federal budget for March on Wednesday and the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its March interest-rate meeting. On Thursday, there are some potential market-moving reports. The Labor Department releases the weekly jobless claims, and mortgage-giant Freddie Mac reports the weekly mortgage rates. Also on Thursday, selected chain retailers release March sales comparisons. Two big banks report quarterly financial results on Friday: JPMorgan Chase; and Wells Fargo. Also on Friday, investors will get a look at the retail sales data for March from the Commerce Department as well as business inventories for February. In addition, the Labor Department will release the Producer Price Index for March.


(Copyright 2012, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved)


Features & Entertainment


CHICAGO (AP) – A million-dollar robot named da Vinci is hot in operating rooms these days. However, problems are giving the high-tech helper new scrutiny. The Food and Drug Administration is looking into an increase in reported problems including deaths during robotic surgeries. Its medical device database lists dozens of problems and at least five deaths since early last year. The FDA is trying to figure out if there’s a real connection with the robot. Surgeons who use the robotic system say it leads to shorter hospital stays for some patients and is safer than surgery using big incisions. Critics argue that robotic surgeries cost more, and that newer doesn’t always mean better.


DETROIT (AP) – Ford Motor Co. says its Focus small car was the best-selling vehicle nameplate in the world last year, with a little more than 1 million sold. More than a quarter of all Focuses were sold in China, its largest market. The U.S. was the car’s second-largest market. It was the second year in a row the Focus has outsold the Toyota Corolla, according to data from automotive firm R.L. Polk. Rounding out the top five sellers were Ford’s F-Series pickup, the Wuling Zhiguang minivan and the Toyota Camry midsize car. Polk counts vehicles by nameplate, so versions of the Corolla sold under different names aren’t counted. Toyota says if its Matrix hatchback and other Corolla variants are included, it outsold the Focus by 186,000 vehicles.


HAYS, Kan. (AP) – The royal couple at one Kansas high school will actually be a threesome. Hays High will have a pair of kings and a queen at Saturday’s prom. Seniors Dustin Mulkey and Blake Ruder tied in the vote for king. Their queen will be Millie Cooper. School registrar Tammy Stewart has worked at Hays High since 1999. She tells the Hays Daily News she can’t remember another tie vote like it.


(Copyright 2012, The Associated Press, All Rights Rese7rved)





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