PA Headlines: Senators Toomey & Casey encourage wearing masks

AP PA Headlines 7/9/20

(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey encouraged residents on Tuesday to follow Gov. Tom Wolf’s universal masking mandate, despite continued pushback from some legislative Republicans.  Casey, a Democrat, and Toomey, a Republican, released a joint statement with the administration and state Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester and Sen. Pam Iovino, D-Allegheny, pushing the effort as scientifically sound and key to reopening the economy.

“As the commonwealth continues to reopen, mask wearing has taken on increased significance, as studies continue to affirm that masks helps slow the spread of the coronavirus,” said Toomey, who notes he’s supported the recommendation since March. “Put simply, wearing a mask is an important step that we, as Pennsylvanians, can take to protect one another – as my mask protects you, and your mask protects me.”

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed an order July 1 mandating masks in public when social distancing isn’t possible. The rule expands upon guidance in April that required residents to wear masks inside businesses. Enforcement remains a local decision.  “Public health experts continue to recommend mask-wearing in public, and ongoing research continues to support that recommendation,” Casey said. “When you wear a mask, you are sending a clear message to others in your community that you care about them and their well-being as much as your own. I know that if we each do our part, we will beat this virus and be able to start safely rebuilding together.”

GOP members of the House criticized the administration last week for months of mixed messages on the issue, pivoting back and forth between whether the face coverings were required or just recommended.  State Reps. Mike Jones, Daryl Metcalfe, Russ Diamond, Stephanie Borowicz and David Rowe, in a joint statement, questioned what science actually backs up the mandate and whether his advice even remains credible.  Wolf told reporters Monday he thinks residents should wear masks until a vaccine becomes available next year. He said he doesn’t envision enacting sweeping shut downs again, but would rather the state focus on broader efforts – like masking, contact tracing and improved testing capabilities..

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says the city will drop all code violation notices handed out to demonstrators during the protests against police brutality and racial injustice that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody. Kenney said in a written release Wednesday that he was taking the city Law Department’s recommendation and dropping the violations issued to protesters between May 30 and June 30. Kenney said that criminal charges filed during the protests are under the purview of the District Attorney’s office and were not included in the dismissal.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, which includes the city of Pittsburgh, is reporting a near-record number of new coronavirus infections. Allegheny County has been struggling with a spike in infections as residents patronize eating and drinking establishments and head to out-of-state virus hotspots. That has prompted health officials in the county of 1.2 million to impose restrictions on restaurants and bars, shutter a casino and limit gatherings. State health officials are expressing concern about the situation in southwestern Pennsylvania, but have made no move to reimpose pandemic restrictions in border counties that are also seeing increased spread.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives wants to ensure that it can block Gov. Tom Wolf’s effort to impose a price on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants as part of a consortium of states. Wolf, a Democrat, has made joining the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative a centerpiece of his strategy to fight climate change in a major carbon-polluting state. The House voted to pass a bill, 130-71, which would require legislative approval to join the consortium. Four Republicans joined most Democrats in opposition to it. Wolf plans to veto the bill, which still requires approval in the Republican-controlled Senate. Wolf’s administration is drafting regulations that it maintains could usher Pennsylvania into the consortium in 2022.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania will again seek to auction a mini-casino license on Sept. 2, under orders from state lawmakers in search of cash for a treasury starved of tax collections from shutdowns to contain the coronavirus. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Wednesday scheduled the auction. Owners of the state’s licensed casinos are eligible to bid under a 2017 state law expanding gambling authorized 10 mini-casino licenses that allow up to 750 slot machines and up to 40 table games. Bidders must submit a prospective site for the casino that cannot come within 40 miles of another casino location. Minimum bids are set at $7.5 million.

HARRISBURG (AP) – Six Pennsylvania inmates serving defacto life without parole sentences for crimes where they did not kill or intend to kill someone are challenging the state’s felony murder statutes as unconstitutional under the state’s ban on cruel punishment. The inmates represented by lawyers from the Abolitionist Law Center are suing the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole after they were each denied a parole hearing last month. The lawsuit filed Wednesday asks the state appeals court to grant them parole hearings, find the felony murder statute mandating a life without parole sentence for these inmates unconstitutional under state law and order the parole board to create a framework to review the parole requests for similarly sentenced inmates.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Features

UNDATED (AP) — A see-saw is nice, if you’re on a playground. But it isn’t so nice if the word is used to describe a company’s effort to wipe out hate speech, misinformation and bias. That is where Facebook finds itself these days. A two-year audit of the social networking site finds what auditors call “serious setbacks” in efforts to curb offensive and misleading information on the world’s largest online forum. A 100-page report released yesterday says there’s been a “seesaw of progress and setbacks” as Facebook tries to take stronger control over what appears on users’ homepages, chats and posts. The audit recommends that Facebook build a “civil rights infrastructure” for all aspects of the site — and take more concrete action on bias created by the site’s algorithms. The suggestions aren’t binding, and there’s no formal way to hold Facebook accountable failing to implement any of the audit’s findings.

NEW YORK (AP) — So much for President Donald Trump and Kanye West sharing “dragon energy.” The rapper, who has been wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap, says he’s no longer a Trump supporter. West tells Forbes he is “taking the red hat off.” The magazine says West mentioned his renouncing of Trump during what it calls “four rambling hours of interviews.” As for his weekend announcement that he’s running for president, West insists it isn’t a publicity stunt to drum up interest in an upcoming album.

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Officials in a Mississippi county unanimously voted to keep a Confederate monument where it stands because moving the statue wouldn’t fix racial tensions. In a 5-0 vote, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors rejected a proposal to relocate the Confederate statue in Oxford Square. Several members of the all white male board said they didn’t believe moving the statue would cause unity in the county. District 4 Supervisor Chad McLarty said he’s experienced racism because of the color of his skin but taking down monuments won’t get rid of bad people. District 2 Supervisor Larry Gillespie said he understands “how things like statues and street names can be offensive to some.”

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump is accelerating his use of racially divisive rhetoric and he’s seizing on  America’s racial tensions as a reelection weapon. The Republican president is denouncing the racial justice movement on a near-daily basis with language that’s stoking white resentment and is aimed at driving his supporters to the polls. But that’s alarming many in Trump’s own party and running contrary to the advice of some in his inner circle. There are worries Trump risks alienating independent and suburban voters by defending the heritage of the Confederacy while trying to promote cultural divides similar to those he successfully exploited in 2016.

President Donald Trump has accused his Democratic rival Joe Biden of having connections to the “radical left” and has pilloried his relationship with China, his record on criminal justice, his plans for the pandemic and even his son’s business dealings. But in a kitchen-sink offensive backed by a mountain of campaign cash, the 74-year-old Trump has so far invested in one line of attack above all: the accusation that his 77-year-old opponent is too old and mentally weak to be an effective president. The attack has drawn charges of ageism and there is evidence it may be ineffective. But Trump’s team vowed this week not to back off.

NEW YORK (AP) — It looks like the Washington Redskins are about to get a new name and logo. There’s word the team is gonna remove all Native American imagery before the start of the season. The NFL franchise announced a ‘thorough review’ of their name after several big sponsors started pulling out of deals with the team. ESPN says a name change is expected soon.

NEW YORK (AP) — COVID has forced a bunch of Division 1 colleges to permanently cancel their sports programs. Varsity sports like baseball, field hockey, soccer and wrestling have been cut from schools like Stanford and the University of Cincinnati. 57 Division 1 teams are gone. Ivy League schools also say they’re ditching their sports programs. Colleges are losing tons of money and it’s gonna be hard to keep programs going if students have to maintain their distance. (You try wrestling someone from 6 feet away?).

MEDELLIN, Colombia (AP) — Who needs Uber when you have Eros? People in Medellin, Colombia are rejoicing over Eros — and his skills. The 8-year-old Labrador retriever is being put to use as a delivery animal. He trots through the streets of the hilly city, carrying a straw basket in his jaws. The basket contains fruit, vegetables or other items ordered by customers of a mini-market. No need for an app to show appreciation for Eros, either; he’s rewarded not with tips, but with treats and massages of his furry head. Eros’ owner says having Eros make deliveries “helps us to maintain social distancing” amid the coronavirus outbreak. She adds, “people love it when we send the dog.”

RACINE, Wis. (AP) — A canine officer in Wisconsin was headed home from work with his dog partner Lou on Monday night. But even though they were off duty, they responded when duty called. Cory Radke spotted smoke and heard a radio call dispatching all squad cars to a nearby house fire. Arriving first, Radke kicked in a side door — and recovered a dog, which was on a sofa in the smoky living room. When firefighters arrived, they rescued a second dog from under a bed. The owners weren’t home at the time..

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