Tuesday, December 7, 2021

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Local News

State Grant Is “Game Changer” For Peters Twp Project

The much discussed aquatic center in Peters Township has been given a big boost. In fact, Township Manager Paul Lauer calls it a ‘game changer’. 40th Legislative District State Representative Natalie Mihalek says the Township will receive $2-million in a state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program Grant for construction of the more than $10-million project. Lauer calls the grant ‘significant’ and says without this grant the project may not have moved forward. He also admits that the Township is awaiting word on two other grant applications for the project. One of those is to the Washington County Local Share Account fund. Peters Township council, earlier this year, ordered a re-design of the project after initial bids came in well over budget. Lauer says the township is currently preparing to re-bid the re-designed project.

Canonsburg House Fire Likely Accidental

A fire that broke out at in a home in Canonsburg early Tuesday morning is under investigation by the State Police Fire Marshal, however, firefighters say they believe the blaze was accidental.  Canonsburg Fire Chief Tim Solobay tells WJPA News that the house, in the 400 block of Bluff Avenue, which is owned by William Hook, was vacant and was undergoing some renovations.  Solobay say they believe the fire started in an area in the basement which had been recently worked on and was likely electrical in nature.  There were no injuries and according to Solobay, most of the damage was contained to the interior of the house.  (Photo:  WPXI) 

 

Testimony Continues In Homicide By Vehicle Trial

Day two of the trial of Hosea Holcomb, the 28 year old truck driver from Virginia saw expert testimony from three Pennsylvania State Police officers. Holcomb is accused of hitting John Marvin Isenberg III with his tractor-trailer in Fallowfield Township on January 11th and then leaving the scene of the accident.  First on the witness stand was Trooper Jason Altman who acted as the photographer for the Forensics Services Unit. He explained the photos he took at the accident scene and gave detailed explanation to fiber and tissue evidence found on Holcomb’s tractor trailer that had been pulled over 11 miles east of the accident scene. Corporal Todd Stephenson a collision analysis and accident reconstruction specialist took drone photos of the accident scene. His testimony corroborated that of Altman. Defense Attorney Michael Waltman disputed witness James Hamilton’s account of the accident on Monday when he asked Stephenson to explain how a video played in court does not seem to show the victim being propelled in the air as Hamilton testified. The third witness Trooper Zachary Casini was asked by Waltman about discrepancies between Hamilton’s written statement to him and what visual evidence showed. A fourth police witness was unable to attend the trial. The trial will be continued until January 14, 2022.

$6.6M Awarded To Tree Of Life Synagogue

The state of Pennsylvania is pledging $6.6 million toward redevelopment of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, where a gunman killed 11 people in 2018 in the nation’s deadliest attack on Jews. Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who survived the attack, said Monday that the state funding will help “transform this site that has been marked by horror …. into one full of hope, remembrance and education.” The money comes from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. The synagogue was one of 16 community redevelopment projects statewide to receive a grant from the program.

Sunoco Ordered To Dredge Lake, Pay $4M Over Spill

A pipeline developer will dredge part of a contaminated lake and pay more than $4 million for spilling thousands of gallons of drilling fluids at a popular state park outside Philadelphia. That’s according to Pennsylvania state officials, who announced the settlement with Sunoco Pipeline LP on Monday. The spill happened in August 2020 during construction of Sunoco’s troubled Mariner East pipeline. The spill contaminated wetlands, tributaries and part of the 535-acre lake at Marsh Creek State Park in Chester County. About 33 acres of the lake were placed off limits to boating and fishing because of the spill. The settlement will allow construction on the pipeline to resume.

Two Tigers At Pittsburgh Zoo Test Positive For COVID

(WPXI) – Two tigers have tested positive for COVID-19 at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, according to the zoo. According to a press release, the tigers began showing signs including occasional coughing and loose stool but have otherwise been in good condition. The initial results came from a rapid antigen test and was later confirmed by voluntary nasal swabs gathered from the cats. PCR testing of fecal matter has also been submitted for analysis. Animal care staff continue to provide supportive care to the tigers; the felines are eating normally and are expected to make a full recovery. “We are taking this situation seriously and are continuing to provide the best care possible to our tigers,” said Dr. Jeremy Goodman, president and CEO in the press release. “We do not allow any of our visitors to come within close proximity to any of our cats, so the risk of transmission to our guests is very low.” The infected tigers likely contracted the virus after exposure to an asymptomatic zoo employee.

World News

Amazon Web Services Sustain Major Outage

(AP) – Amazon Web Services suffered a major outage Tuesday, the company said, limiting service at many key and popular sites.  The company provides cloud computing services to many governments, universities and companies, including The Associated Press.  Amazon said in a post an hour after the outage began that it had identified the root cause and was “actively working towards recovery.” It did not disclose more about the cause.  The outage also affected Amazon’s ability to provide updates, it said.  The outage began midmorning on the U.S. East Coast, said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Kentik Inc, a network intelligence firm…“AWS is the biggest cloud provider and us-east-1 is their biggest data center, so any disruption there has big impacts to many popular websites and other internet services,” he said.  Madory said he did not believe the outage was anything nefarious. He said a recent cluster of outages at providers that host major websites reflects how the networking industry has evolved. “More and more these outages end up being the product of automation and centralization of administration,” he said. “This ends up leading to outages that are hard to completely avoid due to operational complexity, but are very impactful when they happen.  Kentik was seeing a 26% drop in traffic to Netflix, among major web-based services affected by the outage, Madory said. According to Down Detector, a clearinghouse for user reports on outages, Delta and Southwest have been affected, but not American, United, Alaska or JetBlue.  People trying to use Instacart, Venmo, Kindle, Roku, and Disney+ have reported issues. The McDonald’s app is also down.

Judge Blocks Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

(AP) – A federal judge has blocked President Biden’s administration from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors. It’s the latest in a string of court victories for Republican-led states and others challenging a series of federal vaccine requirements. In a ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker, in Augusta, Georgia, issued a stay to bar enforcement of the mandate nationwide.  (Photo:  AP)

Biden & Putin Speak For Over Two Hours

WASHINGTON (AP) – Face to face for over two hours, President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin squared off in a secure video call Tuesday as the U.S. president put Moscow on notice that an invasion of Ukraine would bring enormous harm to the Russian economy. The highly anticipated call between the two leaders came amid growing worries by the U.S. and Western allies about Russia’s threat to neighboring Ukraine.  Putin came into the meeting seeking guarantees from Biden that the NATO military alliance will never expand to include Ukraine, which has long sought membership. The Americans and their NATO allies said in advance that Putin’s request was a non-starter.  Biden, said U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, “told President Putin directly that if Russia further invades Ukraine, the United States and our European allies would respond with strong economic measures.  He added that Biden said the U.S. would also “provide additional defensive material to the Ukrainians above and beyond that, which we are already providing, and we would fortify our NATO allies on the eastern flank with additional capabilities in response to such an escalation.”  Sullivan said that could include additional deployments of U.S. troops to eastern European NATO allies.

Biden Honors Pearl Harbor’s Fallen

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have marked the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor with a visit to the World War II Memorial in Washington. The Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and other locations in Hawaii killed 2,403 service members and civilians and was a defining moment leading to U.S. entry into the war. Joe Biden touched a wreath at the memorial and saluted on Tuesday. The first lady laid a bouquet honoring her father, a Navy signalman in the war. In a White House proclamation last week recognizing National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the president thanked “the Greatest Generation.”

Defense Rests In Jussie Smollett Trial

(AP) – Jussie Smollett’s defense attorneys say they have rested their case in the former “Empire” actor’s trial on charges he lied to police about being the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack. Smollett’s lawyer said Tuesday that the defense has finished, wrapping up two days of testimony that included Smollett’s own account of what happened in downtown Chicago the night of the alleged attack in January 2019.  (Photo:  AP) 

Biden Touts Savings On Insulin & Other Drugs

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden is pledging his social agenda legislation will deliver tangible savings on prescription drugs for all Americans. Speaking Monday at the White House, Biden cited the story of a young woman with diabetes hospitalized because she couldn’t afford insulin. His legislation would limit copays for insulin to $35 a month. It would also cap what Medicare recipients pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs at $2,000 annually, and require drugmakers to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise prices faster than inflation. The bill would empower Medicare to negotiate drug prices, starting gradually. But first it has to pass Congress, and that’s not guaranteed.

Germany’s Merkel Bows Out After 16 Years

BERLIN (AP) – Angela Merkel is credited with raising Germany’s profile and influence, working to hold a fractious European Union together, managing a string of crises and being a role model for women in a near-record tenure that ends with her leaving office amid praise from abroad and enduring popularity at home. The former scientist, raised in communist East Germany, was already assured of a place in the history books when she became the first female chancellor in 2005. Sixteen years later, the 67-year-old is bowing out around a week short of the record for longevity held by her one-time mentor, Helmut Kohl, who reunited Germany during his 1982-1998 tenure. Her designated successor, Olaf Scholz, is expected to take office Wednesday.