TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2018


Bill To Trim State House Advances
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Republicans on a state House committee are advancing a proposal to reduce their chamber's size from 203 members to 151, a change that's been touted as a way to improve efficiency. The House State Government Committee on Tuesday voted 14 to 10 in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that still needs approval by the full House and Senate before going to voters. A Democratic-sponsored amendment to establish a commission to redraw district lines failed, but a Republican-backed bill to cut the Senate from 50 to 37 was approved. A Republican spokesman says House leaders hope for a vote by the end of June, in time to make it on the fall ballot. Constitutional amendments must be approved by both chambers in consecutive sessions before voters can weigh in.

Woman Faces Charges In Fatal Hatchet Attack
MCGRANN, Pa. (AP) - A woman accused of attacking her husband with a hatchet as he lay in bed while her terrified children fled to a neighbor's house is now facing a criminal homicide charge following his death. Authorities say 41-year-old Thomas Snyder died last month after being hospitalized following the July 27 attack in the family home in Manor Township. Forty-one-year-old Melanie Snyder was originally charged with attempted homicide and aggravated assault. Armstrong County District Attorney Katie Charlton says the homicide charge was filed after an autopsy concluded that her husband died of pneumonia as a result of brain damage from the attack. A defense attorney questioned last summer why so little blood would be on someone accused of such an attack given the amount of blood at the scene.

6 Year Old Dies Of Flu In Wheeling
WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) - Health officials in West Virginia are reporting the first pediatric flu death of the current season. Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department administrator Howard Gamble tells media outlets his department was informed of the child's death Monday. State Department of Health and Human Resources spokeswoman Allison Adler says the 6-year-old is the first child to die of flu since the 2014-2015 season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 30 pediatric flu deaths have occurred in the United States this season through last Friday. The department says this is a severe flu season, with a record 55 outbreaks reported in health care facilities this month. West Virginia annually averages about 400 deaths associated with influenza and pneumonia, mostly among people over 65.

Reed To Stay GOP Leader During House Run
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's House Majority Leader Dave Reed is telling fellow House Republicans that he won't run again for his seat and plans instead to run for Congress to succeed U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster in southwestern Pennsylvania. House Republicans say Reed also told them during a closed-door meeting Monday that he'll remain in the job of majority leader the rest of the year. Reed told Republican Party officials last week that he'll run for Congress, but he hasn't made an official announcement or said publicly whether he's made up his mind.
The 39-year-old Reed's been in office since 2003 and majority leader for three years. The 9th District is solidly Republican and Reed could face a crowded GOP primary. Shuster is stepping down after holding the seat since 2001.

Philadelphia Wants Safe Injection Sites
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia wants to become the first U.S. city to allow supervised drug injection sites as a way to combat the opioid epidemic. City officials made the announcement Tuesday, saying they would seek outside operators to establish one or more safe injection sites. Safe injection sites are locations where users can shoot up under the supervision of a doctor who can administer an antidote if necessary. Philadelphia Public Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says the sites could be "a life-saving strategy and a pathway to treatment." Other cities have proposed the idea. No U.S. city has established such a site, though there are some in Canada and Europe. Philadelphia has the highest opioid death rate of any large U.S. city. More than 1,200 people fatally overdosed in Philadelphia in 2017, one-third more than 2016.

Elderly Bank Robber Gets Probation
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - An elderly woman has been placed on one year's probation after pleading guilty to lesser charges in a Philadelphia bank robbery. Court records indicate that 86-year-old Emily Coakley entered pleas to counts of possession of an instrument of crime and simple assault. Other charges including robbery and theft were withdrawn. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Coakley, who uses a walker, had a handgun when she demanded $400 from the TD Bank in University City on Nov. 21. Spokesman Ben Waxman of the Philadelphia District Attorney's office said Tuesday that Coakley believed the bank had shorted her $400. He cited her health issues and the fact that the gun was empty as factors in the plea deal for non-reporting probation. Coakley's attorney didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Cosby Returns To Stage In Philly
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Bill Cosby says he made his first public performance since a sex abuse scandal embroiled him in 2015 because he wanted to enjoy being with his friends and the people who turned out to see him. The 80-year-old entertainer took the stage Monday at a hometown Philadelphia jazz club in his first show since May 2015. He asked if the bass player's son knew who he was and deadpanned, "I used to be a comedian." After the show he declined to talk about his upcoming retrial in a sexual assault case. Cosby's last comedy tour ended amid protests as women were coming forward to accuse him of molesting them, which he denies. Cosby is scheduled for an April retrial on charges he drugged and molested a woman at his home in 2004. His first trial ended with a hung jury.

American Citizens Killed In Kabul
WASHINGTON (AP) - A State Department official says multiple American citizens were killed and injured in the Taliban's weekend attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. The official isn't giving exact figures for either the U.S. fatalities or injuries. The official wasn't authorized to comment by name and demanded anonymity. The State Department says the United States is sending "deepest condolences" to the families and friends of those killed and wishing the injured a speedy recovery. The Americans are among 22 people killed in the attack in the Afghan capital. An Afghan interior ministry official has said 14 were foreigners and eight were Afghans. More than 150 people were rescued or escaped. The 13-hour weekend siege started Saturday when Taliban militants in suicide vests stormed the hotel. It ended Sunday. (Photo: CNN)

Sessions Interviewed By Mueller Team

WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been interviewed in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said Tuesday that the interview with Sessions took place last week. The interview comes as Mueller is investigating whether President Donald Trump's actions in office, including the firing of FBI Director James Comey, constituted obstruction of justice. Mueller is also investigating contacts between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia. Sessions' interview was first reported by The New York Times.

2 Dead In Kentucky School Shooting
BENTON, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Matt Bevin says the fatal shooting at southwest Kentucky high school leaves a wound that will take a long time to heal.
Two students were killed Tuesday morning at Marshall County High School when a 15-year-old classmate opened fire. Bevin says 19 other people were injured, 14 of them suffering gunshot wounds. Speaking at a news conference, Bevin says one girl died at the scene. A boy died at a hospital.
Kentucky State Police Commissioner Richard Sanders says the shooter was armed with a handgun. The boy will be charged with murder and attempted murder.

Officials In Texas Note Concerns After Shooting
BENTO ITALY, Texas (AP) - The head of a Texas school district where a 15-year-old girl was shot and a 16-year-old boy has been arrested says in a statement to parents and the community that he understands they have "many questions and concerns." Italy Independent School District superintendent Lee Joffre said in the Tuesday statement that he met with the victim following the Monday morning shooting at the high school in Italy, located south of Dallas. He says the girl, who is in a Dallas hospital, was shot multiple times. A parent and a student in media interviews have expressed concern about past incidents involving the suspect. Cassie Shook, a 17-year-old junior at the school, told The Associated Press the boy got angry during a class and threw a pair of scissors at her friend and later threw a computer against a wall. She had said the boy was out of school for a time, but was allowed to return. At a Tuesday news conference that lasted less than five minutes, Joffre said he'd like to help "possibly address some of the concerns" about "conversations and speculation regarding student discipline." He noted though that while he could talk generally about disciplinary procedures, the law prohibits a district from speaking specifically regarding student discipline or any other student incidents.

Bodies Of Missing Workers Recovered
QUINTON, Okla. (AP) - Officials say they have recovered the remains of five workers missing since an explosion at an Oklahoma gas drilling rig. Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said Tuesday personnel from the state medical examiner's office began searching for the workers about noon once the drilling site had been stabilized. Morris says the bodies are being transported to Oklahoma City for identification. The blast happened Monday morning at a drilling site near Quinton, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) southeast of Tulsa. The explosion sent plumes of black smoke into the air and left a derrick crumpled on the ground. Morris says the five employees who were killed were in an area of the drilling rig known as the "dog house" where the rig hands worked.

Earthquake Hits Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska earthquake was a type that usually produces less vertical motion, which means less chance for waves to build for a tsunami. That's according to Paul Earle, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He says the earthquake was within the Pacific plate and was a so-called "strike-slip earthquake." That's the type when one side of the fault slides past another fault, like the San Andreas fault in California. In the Alaska earthquake, Earle says one side went more to the east and one side went more to the west. He says that's somewhat unusual because quakes in the area are usually thrust earthquakes where one side goes underneath the other. He says those are the type that cause more vertical motion and increase the chance for a tsunami. The Alaska quake was the planet's strongest since an 8.2 in Mexico in September.


Neil Diamond Has Parkinson's
NEW YORK (AP) - Neil Diamond is retiring from touring after he says he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Days shy of his 77th birthday, the rock legend is canceling his tour dates in Australia and New Zealand for March. He was on his 50th anniversary tour. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer offered his "sincerest apologies" to those who planned to go to his shows and says he plans to still write, record and work on other projects "for a long time to come." Diamond's numerous hits include "Sweet Caroline," "America," "Love on the Rocks" and "Hello Again." Diamond turns 77 on Wednesday and will get the lifetime achievement award at Sunday's Grammy awards.

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