MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2018

Revised Congressional Map Will Stay
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court is keeping in place a revised map of Pennsylvania's congressional districts, turning down a request from Republican leaders in the state Legislature. The court's order Monday declining to put on hold the revised map comes as incumbents and potential challengers are circulating petitions to get on the May primary ballot. The court is declining to halt a series of decisions by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that threw out a 2011 Republican-crafted map and established a new map of the state's 18 districts. Pennsylvania's 2011 map is generally considered among the most gerrymandered in the nation, and Democrats hope new district lines will boost their chances of reclaiming majority control of the U.S. House.

Federal Judges Reject Lawsuit Over New Map
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A panel of federal judges is throwing out a legal challenge by Republican congressmen to a district map developed last month by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The judges said Monday they have no authority to act in the matter except to throw out the case. The decision comes with a day left for the state's congressional candidates to circulate petitions to get on the May 15 primary ballot. The Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court ruled in January that the map Republicans crafted in 2011 amounted to an unconstitutional gerrymander. After lawmakers in the GOP-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf didn't produce a replacement, the state court enacted its own. The eight GOP congressmen and two Republican state senators filed the federal lawsuit a month ago.

Deadline Looms For Candidates To File Petitions
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Candidates are submitting petition paperwork ahead of the deadline to get on Pennsylvania's congressional primary election ballots. More than 20 candidates had filed by mid-day Monday, according to state elections bureau data. The deadline to submit at least 1,000 voter signatures to get on the May 15 primary ballot is Tuesday. Interest in running for Congress is high, especially after the state Supreme Court ordered the boundaries of Pennsylvania's 18 U.S. House districts redrawn in a gerrymandering case. The new districts will be in play in this year's mid-term elections. There are also six open seats, the highest number in four decades. Submitting signatures are several state lawmakers, including Democrat Greg Vitali and Republican Rick Saccone. They are seeking to run for open congressional seats in opposite corners of Pennsylvania.

Arrest Expected In Attempted Robbery
Washington Police say they plan to arrest a Westmoreland County man in connection with an attempted armed robbery at the Sunoco Station on Jefferson Avenue. Police say 48-year-old Brian Harding of Smithton was arrested by police in Fairmont, West Virginia for allegedly driving a stolen car. Authorities believe he drove to Washington and tried to rob the Sunoco for gas. Harding is being held in a jail in West Virginia on a charge of receiving stolen property. Police in Washington say they plan to charge him with robbery and a possible firearms violation.

Truck Driving Groups Sue Over Turnpike Tolls
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Several truck driving groups have filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the state Department of Transportation over toll increases. The lawsuit filed Thursday claims the increases violate federal commerce law and hinder a citizen's constitutional right to travel. The group says money collected from tolls is being used on projects unrelated to the Turnpike System. A 6 percent increase for cash and E-ZPass went into effect in January. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission previously said the increase was needed to meet funding and capital-improvement obligations. The commission says it is required by law to offer $450 million in supplemental funding to PennDOT annually. Both Turnpike and PennDOT representatives declined to comment on the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are seeking lower toll rates and a possible refund from earlier years.

Hearing Held For Man Who Fled With Teen
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A man who frequently checked a teenager out of school without her parents' knowledge and fled to Mexico with her will soon be in the custody of Pennsylvania authorities.
Federal agents and Mexican authorities found 45-year-old Kevin Esterly and 16-year-old Amy Yu in Playa del Carmen on Saturday and flew them to Miami. The Miami-Dade State Attorney's office says an extradition hearing was held Monday for Esterly, and he will be returned to Pennsylvania in the next two weeks. The girl arrived Sunday in Philadelphia and was taken home to Allentown, 60 miles away. Esterly faces a felony charge of interference with the custody of a child. Authorities believe Amy willingly traveled with him to Mexico.

Winning Powerball Ticket Sold In Lancaster
MANHEIM, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Lottery officials say the winning Powerball ticket worth almost $457 million was sold at a convenience store in Lancaster County. Officials said the ticket was sold at Speedway in Manheim. The store earns a $100,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket. It was the only winner of the huge March 17 jackpot, the eighth largest ever. The ticket matched all of the winning numbers: 22-57-59-60-66 and Powerball 7. Powerball is played in 44 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The largest jackpot in Powerball history was $1.6 billion. Three winning tickets were sold in that Jan. 13, 2016, drawing.

Jury Selection In Cosby Trial Delayed
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The start of Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial is being pushed back a few days to give both sides more time to wrangle over pretrial issues. Judge Steven O'Neill issued an order Monday moving the start of jury selection to April 2. It had been scheduled for March 29. O'Neill says he'll instead hold final pretrial hearings March 29 and 30. Cosby has pleaded not guilty to charges he drugged and molested Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. O'Neill hasn't ruled on whether jurors can hear about Cosby's settlement with Constand or if his lawyers can mention another accuser by name in their opening statement. Cosby's lawyers are objecting to O'Neill's ruling allowing up to five other accusers to testify. Cosby's first trial last year ended in a hung jury. The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

West Virginia Couple Have Rare Identical Triplets
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - A West Virginia doctor says a couple's three newborn daughters are "exceedingly rare" because they are identical triplets. WSAZ-TV reports parents Alex and Brianna Walls of Kenova are able to tell the babies apart now because they're different sizes, but they say they'll have to find another way when their weights even out. The girls were born Feb. 23 at Cabell Huntington Hospital and are named Kenadie Faith, Teagen Grace and Raelynn Hope. They have an older brother and sister, 8-year-old Addison and 4-year-old Barrett. Dr. Cynthia Massey at Cabell Huntington says she doesn't think anyone there has seen identical triplets before. She says the chances of having identical triplets are about 1 in 200,000.

Winter Wallop On First Day Of Spring
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A pair of back-to-back nor'easters is revving up to hit the East Coast on the official start of spring, when they'll merge into the fourth storm to slam the region in a month. The National Weather Service says the bulk of the dangerous, wind-driven snow and sleet is expected to wallop New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and parts of eastern Pennsylvania before heading off to Nantucket Island early Thursday. Sleet and freezing rain are expected on Tuesday afternoon, the first day of spring. On Wednesday, about 6 to 9 inches of snow is expected, with some areas getting nearly a foot. Officials are cautioning against unnecessary travel Wednesday afternoon and evening, when snow could be falling as much as 3 inches an hour. Widespread power outages are possible, especially Wednesday, with gusts of up to 35 mph at times.

Police Declare "Serial Bomber"
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Authorities are urging the public to provide surveillance video that could assist in the investigation into the string of bombings in the Texas capital of Austin.
During a news conference Monday, police Chief Brian Manley asked homeowners and others to forward video to investigators that might offer insight into the bombing Sunday night or three earlier this month. The latest explosion injured two men in their 20s who were riding or walking their bicycles through a neighborhood in southwestern Austin. The earlier blasts killed two people and injured two others and happened in other parts of the city. Authorities say the device that detonated Sunday featured a tripwire and was left near a road, while the prior bombings involved packages left on people's doorsteps. Police are now saying they believe they are dealing with a serial bomber.

Trump Jabs Mueller
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House says President Donald Trump isn't thinking or talking about firing special counsel Robert Mueller. That's the word from White House lawyer Ty Cobb in a statement late Sunday after a series of Trump tweets revived chatter that the frustrated president may be preparing to have Mueller fired. Mueller is investigating whether Trump's actions, including last year's ouster of FBI Director James Comey, amount to obstruction of justice. Trump believes the probe is biased against him, a point he made clear in weekend tweets that jabbed Mueller directly.
Cobb says: "In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller."

Putin Won Easily In Russian Election
MOSCOW (AP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin's crushing re-election victory puts his opponents in a tough spot. They gathered widespread examples of apparent voting violations in Sunday's vote, but it's unlikely to seriously damage Putin given his widespread support. With 99.8 percent of the vote counted, results showed Putin won almost 77 percent of the vote, well up from his showing in the last election in 2012. His closest rival, communist Pavel Grudinin, had less than 12 percent. The only candidate to openly criticize Putin in the campaign, TV star Ksenia Sobchak, got less than 2 percent. Putin's most serious foe, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race. He clashed publicly with Sobchak on Sunday night, accusing her of being a Kremlin stooge. Opposition groups plan a rally Monday in Moscow.

Trump Opioid Plan Includes Death Penalty

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump's plan to combat opioid drug addiction calls for stiffer penalties for drug traffickers, including the death penalty where it's appropriate under current law. Administration officials say Trump also wants Congress to pass legislation reducing the amount of drugs necessary to trigger mandatory minimum sentences on traffickers who knowingly distribute certain illicit opioids. The president is scheduled to unveil his plan Monday in New Hampshire, a state hard-hit by the crisis. He'll be accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, who has shown an interest in the issue, particularly as it pertains to children. Trump has mused openly in recent weeks about subjecting drug dealers to the "ultimate penalty." His three-part plan includes multiple steps to raise awareness, cut the illicit drug flow and expand proven treatment options.

Kentucky Residents Return After Derailment
GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) - Residents evacuated after a train derailed in neighborhood have been allowed to return home. The train derailed in Georgetown late Sunday night, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of Lexington. The superintendent of Scott County Schools, Kevin Hub, told The Associated Press early Monday morning that there is a plan in place to have the district open schools to shelter residents in case of an emergency. He says he was called by Georgetown police and told to put the plan in motion. WLEX-TV reported that Scott County Emergency Management Captain Robert Duncan said buses were sent to evacuate residents living in trailer parks near the scene to an elementary school.
He said the evacuation was a precaution due to a potentially hazardous material. He could not identify what the material was.

20 Vehicle Crash Injures Dozens
GERMANTOWN, Md. (AP) - At least 20 cars crashed outside the nation's capital this morning when a tractor-trailer spilled its load of gravel and stones across Interstate 270. At least two dozen people were injured.
Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer tweeted that drivers couldn't avoid running into the debris as they commuted toward Washington, D.C., at about 5:20 a.m. All lanes were closed as many units responded, taking people to hospitals, some with severe injuries. Police rerouted cars but the morning commute bogged down, with the Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination reporting delays five-miles long.

Seconds Mattered In Bridge Collapse
MIAMI (AP) - Mere seconds came between those who died and those who survived when a pedestrian bridge crumbled and fell atop motorists driving along a busy Miami highway late last week. Six people died in the rubble of the collapsed bridge and those who survived Thursday's ordeal gave harrowing accounts of what happened. The drivers were out on the most ordinary of errands. A teenager was driving her friend to the doctor's office to pick up some medicine. A father of three was heading home from work. A woman on her way to a nail salon was stopped at a red light. The bridge plummeted onto the highway below, killing some and narrowly missing others. As investigators try to determine what caused the bridge to fall, survivors and grieving families of the dead are left to cope with their sudden and explicable loss.

Is It Or Isn't It?
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jim Carrey is being criticized on social media for a portrait he painted that is believed to be White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The actor and comedian on Saturday tweeted the painting with the caption: "This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous!" Some Twitter users accused Carrey of shaming because of the unflattering portrait. Others were critical of his use of Christian. A spokeswoman for Carrey confirms it is his painting. But she would not confirm it is Sanders. The White House has not returned a message seeking comment.

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