Latest Pennsylvania news, sports, business, and entertainment

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Forecasters say snow has begun to fall in some parts of western Pennsylvania as a system expected to be the biggest storm this winter moves into the commonwealth. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for southern Pennsylvania in advance of the storm expected to bring up to a foot of snow is expected for higher elevations between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. The weather service projects 6 to 12 inches in parts of Cambria, Blair, Huntingdon, Somerset, Bedford, Fulton and Franklin counties. About 4 to 8 inches is expected in York and Lancaster counties and 4 to 7 inches in Chester County.

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s acting secretary says about 3,000 people who had been bumped off the state’s Medicaid rolls were found to be eligible for the health care program. Bev Mackereth told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that her agency made the discovery after sending more than 100,000 letters to people who’d had their cases closed. The letters were sent to settle claims that families were improperly purged from the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. State figures show there’s still 88,000 fewer children on Medicaid since August 2011, when caseworkers began an eligibility review. Mackereth defends her agency as doing its duty to contact people who had lost coverage. Federal officials last year said they suspected caseworkers didn’t appropriately review information before closing cases.

 

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

 

The Latest Business News

 

NEW YORK (AP) – The stock market is back. Five and a half years after the start of a frightening drop that erased $11 trillion from stock portfolios and made investors despair of ever getting their money back, the Dow Jones industrial average has regained all the losses suffered during the Great Recession and reached a new high. The blue-chip index rose 125.95 points Tuesday and closed at 14,253.77, topping the previous record of 14,164.53 on Oct. 9, 2007, by 89.24 points. The NASDAQ gained 42 points and the S&P 500 rose 15 points, putting it within striking distance of its record. The S&P 500 is up 128 percent from its March 9, 2009 low, about the same as the Dow. One analyst says Tuesday’s rally signals that “things are getting back to normal” after the worst recession since the 1930s. Nicolas Colas, chief market strategist at BNY ConvergEx, says unemployment is still too high and economic growth too sluggish, but “stocks are anticipating improvement.”

 

BANGKOK (AP) – The Dow’s new all-time high and better economic data from the United States are propelling Asian stock markets higher. Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.6 percent, while other benchmarks in the region also are higher. Markets continued to shrug off a budget impasse among political leaders in Washington, as investors take their cues instead from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who has overseen a campaign of massive bond buying to support the U.S. economy after the 2008 financial crisis. Analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore say: “The lesson is clear. Don’t bet on Capitol Hill. Bet on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke instead.” U.S. shares were helped by service-sector data, as the Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday said its survey of purchasing managers – the executives who buy supplies for their companies – showed more optimism than analysts had expected.

 

BANGKOK (AP) – Oil markets are so far taking the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in stride, with the price of crude rising only slightly on Wednesday. Chavez died Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer. Venezuela sits on the world’s second-largest oil reserves. However, during his 14 years as Venezuela’s leader, the country’s oil production dropped and analysts don’t expect that trend to change immediately. Analysts say global oil supplies are ample and that’s keeping markets at ease. Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 20 cents to $91.02 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, the contract rose 70 cents to finish at $90.82 a barrel on the Nymex, just hours after Chavez died.

 

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

 

Features & Entertainment

 

WASHINGTON (AP) – A bill introduced in the U.S. House would protect conscience rights that backers say are threatened by the new health care law. The Health Care Conscience Rights Act would exempt employers from providing contraceptives or other services for which they have a religious or moral objection. Supporters say it would prevent the government from forcing health care providers to be complicit in abortion. Those alleging conscience rights violations would be able to sue. The bill’s sponsor, Congresswoman Diane Black, R-Tenn., is a nurse. She was joined by other women in health care and business who said obeying their consciences shouldn’t subject them to crippling fines and penalties. Black would like the bill’s conscience protections to be attached to the budget measure that Congress must pass this month to keep the government running.

 

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A federal judge in Connecticut has again ruled that competitive cheerleading is not a sport, and Quinnipiac University remains under an injunction that requires the school to keep its women’s volleyball team. Several volleyball players and their coach successfully sued the university in 2009 after it announced it would eliminate volleyball for budgetary reasons and replace it with a competitive cheer squad. The judge issued the injunction at that time. Monday, the judge ruled that upgrades to cheerleading – now called acrobatics and tumbling – still do not make it a sport, and said that even with the addition of a women’s rugby team, the school must keep volleyball out of Title IX restraints that ban sex discrimination in federally funded school programs, including sports.

 

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – Carly Rae Jepsen is hanging up on the Boy Scouts. The singer says on Twitter that she has canceled plans to perform at the national Boy Scouts of America Jamboree because the organization doesn’t allow gays. The Canadian-born singer says she has always supported the gay community – and is locked in on the battle for gay rights around the world. Train is also to perform at the Jamboree – but is taking a different approach. They said last week their performance is still on, but that they are asking the Boy Scouts of America to change the policy. The Jamboree is set for July in West Virginia – and is expected to draw more than 45,000 scouts and adults.

 

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

 

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