Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania House votes to ban abortions for Down Syndrome

gerber baby lucas

From ABC News: A proposal to prohibit abortions in Pennsylvania when the sole reason is that the fetus has or may have Down syndrome passed the state House on Monday by a comfortable margin.

The Republican-majority chamber voted 139-56 to send the Senate a bill that supporters said would protect a vulnerable population.

“I think sometimes, ‘Oh my goodness, what if my parents for some reason didn’t think I was good enough as an unborn child?'” said House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, the prime sponsor.

The fate of the bill is unclear in the Republican-controlled Senate, but Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf opposes it.

Opponents argued it would violate the right of women to make their own decisions about abortion and cautioned against forcing parents to raise children with the genetic chromosomal disorder.

“Doctors should not be forced to become grand inquisitors, but we’re left with a bill that does just that, one I hope the governor will be quick to veto,” said Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny.

Pennsylvania law allows abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy for any reason except to choose the gender. The bill would add to that prohibition “a prenatal diagnosis of, or belief that the unborn child has, Down syndrome.”

Majority Whip Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, disputed opponents’ arguments that the Legislature should be focused on doing more for people with Down syndrome and other conditions. He said lawmakers have funded such efforts. “It’s simply not accurate to say these individuals are overlooked or not cared for once they are born,” Cutler said.

A spokeswoman for Wolf called the bill “another example of Harrisburg Republicans exploiting vulnerable families and trying to undermine the doctor-patient relationship to score political points.”

“Pennsylvania Republicans are trying once again to criminalize a health care decision that Gov. Wolf has been clear should be made by a woman and her doctor, not politicians in Harrisburg,” said Wolf deputy press secretary Sara Goulet.

A similar bill that was enacted last year in Ohio has been put on hold by a federal judge, who said opponents were “highly likely” to show the law violates the U.S. Constitution.

Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates called the bill a coordinated attack on safe and legal abortion and women’s reproductive rights. The group and their allies on the House floor noted the legislation was not the subject of public hearings.

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Pennsylvania teachers given baseball bats to remind them to fight back against school shooters

possibly go wrong

From Daily Mail: A Pennsylvania school district has given its teachers small wooden baseball bats as a reminder to fight a school shooter with any weapon available should other options fail.

Superintendent William Hall of the Millcreek Township School District near Erie, Pennsylvania, said that the distribution of the 16-inch bats on Monday was primarily symbolic, but the district did want to have a ‘consistent tool’ for all teachers should they need to fight and attacker.

Hall told the Erie Times-News that the mini baseball bats were handed out to the approximately 500 teachers employed by the district’s elementary, middle and high school teachers during a training session on how to respond to school shootings.

Hall said the district’s revised school shooting response plan puts more emphasis on options other than ‘hiding and waiting.’ 

The president of the local teachers union said he supports the move — ‘It’s to make people comfortable with the idea that they can attack and not simply go into hard lockdown and just hide, as we’d been told in our training up to this point,’ Jon Cacchione, president of the Millcreek Education Association told the Erie Times-News.

The district spent about $1,800 buying 600 mini baseball bats. In addition to those given out during the training session, bats will be put inside offices and other school areas.

Millcreek Township School District has also been taking additional security measures at school entrances.

In March, another Pennsylvania district said it was arming teachers and students with buckets of rocks.

Blue Mountain School District Superintendent David Helsel said the five-gallon buckets of river stones would be kept in classroom closets. As part of their active shooter training, students and teachers were meant to use the rocks to help defend themselves and fight back against intruders who entered classrooms.

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Pennsylvania school wants to arm students with rocks to protect them against active shooters

good luck

From Fox News: Schools nationwide are debating President Trump’s call to arm teachers and security guards with guns – while one Pennsylvania school is getting attention for its last line of defense.

Blue Mountain School District Superintendent David Helsel made headlines recently after testifying to lawmakers at the state capitol that his students could be armed with rocks in case of an active shooter lockdown.

“Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket of river stone,” Helsel told lawmakers. “If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance into any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full students armed with rocks and they will be stoned.”

The superintendent told Fox News on Friday he was surprised by the added media attention for something he calls a “last resort.” He said he has received positive support from parents in the community.

Helsel said the school district has a series of safety measures already installed, including cameras and new security locks on classroom doors, as well as armed security and training for staff and students in a program called ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

But if an unarmed teacher decides to lockdown a classroom, instead of being passive as they had been trained to do in the past, Helsel said his kids will be empowered to defend themselves.

“Obviously a rock against a gun isn’t a fair fight, but it’s better than nothing,” he said, adding, “I’m not sure why some people feel that it’s more appropriate to be a stationary target under a desk in a classroom rather than be empowered to defend yourself and provide a response to deter the entry of an armed intruder into their classroom.”

Helsel said another district had recommended using golf balls, but he didn’t like that idea because they would bounce around whereas the rocks are shaped in a way to hit and fall after being thrown.

The plan has received mixed reactions from the community.

A senior at Blue Mountain High School supports the idea. “It matters because it will help protect the schools, anything helps, rocks are better than books and pencils,” he told WNEP.

“At this point, we have to get creative,” one parent said. “We have to protect our kids first and foremost. Throwing rocks? It’s an option.”

But not everyone thinks it’s a good idea. “It’s absurd,” another parent said. “Arm the teachers.”

Helsel said, while the teachers are not armed, the district is looking for volunteers at the school on maintenance staff to be properly trained and armed, adding that he hopes they never have to use any of the safety measures.

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Huge HIV/STD outbreak in Pittsburgh suburb; health officials say under-24s are more promiscuous than ever

that's gross

From Daily Mail: Pennsylvania officials have reported an alarming increase in sexually transmitted infections in a county outside of Pittsburgh as local health experts say young people are more promiscuous than ever.

Beaver County saw a 300 percent increase in HIV and 34 percent increase in gonorrhea among 15- to 24-year-olds in 2017 compared to 2016, and the trend has continued into 2018, according to the alert released early this month.

Rates of STIs in the US have increased significantly in the last three years on record, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 50 percent of cases are diagnosed in people aged 15 to 24.

Data suggests rates of sexual activity among teens and young adults have been consistent across the past few decades and use of contraception is increasing, so experts say budget cuts for STD prevention programs may be to blame. (Say what?) The Pennsylvania Department of Health issued an alert at the beginning of the month that there has been an increase in HIV and gonorrhea cases in Beaver County, located about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. There was a nearly 300 percent increase in HIV among 15- to 24-year-olds in 2017 compared to 2016.

Gonorrhea cases saw a 34 percent increase among the same age group, which is nearly double the national increase during that time period.

Health officials say there’s been a similar trend in Allegheny County, the second-largest county in the state where Pittsburgh is located. ‘Our incidence rates for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV have and continue to exceed the state’s incidence rates,’ Dr Karen Hacker, Allegheny County health department director, told KDKA.

Earlier this month, health officials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, revealed that at least 125 people had been diagnosed with HIV, syphilis or both.  The ‘cluster’ is being treated as a city-wide health issue particularly among people between the aged of 15 and 24.

Dr. Frank DiCenzo, an OB-GYN in Pittsburgh, claims that the increase is a result of teens being more promiscuous in recent years. ‘I’ve seen high school students who tell me they’ve had multiple sexual partners,’ DiCenco told KDKA.

‘Ladies as young as as 14. And they have what they call sex partners. Someone that is a friend that they have sex with.’

Read the rest of the story here.

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Newly-elected Philadelphia DA fires 31 from the DA’s office in first week

larry krasner

Larry Krasner: Put in office with the backing of George Soros

Last week I told you about this newly-elected DA, the one who vows to “trade jails for schools.”

Krasner is moving quite fast to fundamentally transform Philadelphia and focus on “fair and effective criminal justice”.

And take a wild guess as to which proggie player spent over $1.7 million to help get Krasner elected? You should not be shocked that it was the evil Soros.

From Philly.com: Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner ousted 31 members of the office Friday, a dramatic shake-up and the first major staffing decision announced by the city’s new top prosecutor, just three days after he was sworn in.

Krasner’s spokesman, Ben Waxman, said the dismissals were part of a “broad reorganization” of the office’s structure and a way to implement a culture change in an institution Krasner frequently criticized during the campaign.

In seeking their resignations, the new district attorney “thanks them for their service to the city,” Waxman said in a statement. “However, he made clear his intention to take the office in a different direction.”

The sweeping change affected lawyers of all ranks and could represent a 10 percent reduction in the number of prosecutors. Names were not released, but current and former employees — none authorized to publicly discuss the moves — said the group included trial attorneys and some supervisor-level staff, many with decades of experience. As many as a third of the office’s homicide prosecutors were asked to leave, sources said.

The announcement was the first bombshell in what some of his supporters have hoped — and his critics have feared — would be a wave of drastic changes accompanying the installation of the career civil rights lawyer to the city’s top law enforcement job.

During his campaign, Krasner pledged to reduce the number of people behind bars, never use the death penalty, and seek to end use of cash bail — goals that earned praise from fellow Democrats and liberal criminal justice observers, but skepticism or even scorn from other law enforcement officials. After his victory, Krasner reiterated his priorities but downplayed concerns about a possible exodus or mass purging of staff.

He wasn’t available for comment Friday, and Waxman declined to elaborate on reasons behind individual dismisals. He did say Krasner was in the office during the purge, even though it was officially closed due to the weather.

Some of those let go, who asked not to be identified in discussing their termination, said they were told Friday morning to come to the office as soon as possible. When they arrived, they said, they were escorted by the office’s detectives as they learned their fate — often without explanation — and cleaned out their desks. Several left in tears.

“This was done in darkness,” said one dismissed veteran.

Andrew Notaristefano, a homicide prosecutor and District Attorney’s Office employee for more than a decade, said he had a homicide trial scheduled to start Monday — and that he’d met with the victim’s family Thursday night to prepare. He was at his desk working Friday when a human resources employee took him aside and told him he was fired, he said.

Notaristefano, who secured dozens of murder convictions during his career, said he was given “no explanation.” He requested to leave after prosecuting his upcoming trial but was told no, he said. His request to speak to Krasner was also denied, he said.

“I’ve worked very hard and sacrificed a lot to make this city a safer place and to help people,” said Notaristefano, part of the team of prosecutors that unsuccessfully sought the death penalty last fall in a retrial for a decades-old murder. That case was dubbed the city’s “last death penalty case,” given Krasner’s opposition to capital punishment.

Read the rest of the story here.

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Philadelphia’s new DA vows to “trade jails for school”

larry krasner philadelphia magazine photo

Larry Krasner/Philadelphia Magazine photo

Didn’t criminals already have a chance at school?

According to Wikipedia: Philadelphia consistently ranks above the national average in terms of crime, especially violent offenses.It has the highest violent crime rate of the ten American cities with a population greater than 1 million residents, as well as the highest poverty rate among these cities. It has been included in real estate analytics company NeighborhoodScout’s “Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in America” list every year since it has been compiled.

And from the Philadelphia Police, the city ended the 2017 with 315 homicides.

From HuffPo: In an emotional swearing-in speech Tuesday, Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s new district attorney, promised to transform the city’s criminal justice system, fight inequality and lower the high incarceration rate.

“Today, we start the long road towards trading jails and trading death row for schools,” Krasner said. “Today, we trade fear for sanctuary.”

A civil rights defense attorney with a history of suing the Philadelphia Police Department, Krasner was elected as the city’s top prosecutor in November, defeating Republican opponent Beth Grossman.

Krasner, who has been applauded by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other progressives for his calls for reform and strong stance against capital punishment, said Tuesday that everyone deserves protection, support and a second chance. He spoke of human potential being lost due to incarceration, and of how the current system impacts residents across the city — from the police officer to the young student to the mother of a heroin addict.

“Today we start the long road towards trading division between police and the communities they serve for unity and reconciliation and cooperation, all of which make us safer,” he said.

Along with not pursuing death sentences, Krasner has said he will end the city’s use of cash bail and its controversial “stop and frisk” policy.

Krasner said the election was not about him as a person, but “a movement for criminal justice reform” that is sweeping the nation. His duty as a “technician” of that movement, he said, is “to seek justice in society.”

“That requires us to communicate the truth, to represent the public and to exercise power with restraint, with our roots dug deep in the rich soil of equality,” he said. “That’s what we need to do.”

Krasner replaces Kelley Hodge, who has been serving as acting district attorney since July, when she replaced Seth Williams(demorat). Williams announced in February that he would not seek a third term and was later indicted on 29 federal fraud charges involving campaign funds and other financial disclosures. He pleaded guilty to a bribery charge and was sentenced in October to five years in prison.

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Pennsylvania family ordered to take down offensive Jesus Christmas display

jesus display

Tolerance is only a one-way street for some people.

From Fox News: A Pennsylvania family was ordered by their homeowner’s association to take down their Jesus Christmas display after one of the neighbors reported it as offensive.

Mark and Lynn Wivell of Adams County, a Gettysburg subdivision, said they put up their Jesus display last Saturday, FOX43 reported.

“As part of our Christmas decoration, we would display the name Jesus to point out to everyone that we in this family believe that the reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of Jesus,” said Mark Wivell told FOX43.

But the homeowner’s association wasn’t having it. On Sunday, the association told the family to take down the sign after a neighbor complained it was offensive. The homeowner’s association also claimed the display was a sign, not a decoration – which is a violation of the rules, USA Today reported.

“After taking a look at it, it isn’t in accordance with normal Christmas decorations,” Bud Vance, the Courtyards president, wrote in a statement to the Gettysburg Times.

The Wivells insist they are following the rules.”We have ordinances with regard to Christmas decorations, and my Christmas decorations comply with the HOA ordinances on Christmas decorations,” Wivell said.

The Wivells also said many others supported their right to display the sign. “When this happened, we were really shocked,” Lynn Wivell said. “We have gotten tremendous support from our neighbors here at the Links and that just makes us feel so good.”

The family said they have no plans to take down the sign until January 15, when the association requires all displays to be taken down. Family members said they are unsure which neighbor was offended.

“People get offended by different things, but just because something offends you, doesn’t mean the whole world has to change to accommodate you, so I would say please be more tolerant,” Mark Wivell said.

Board members told FOX43 in a statement that it was “unfortunate” they were being portrayed as Scrooge. “It is, indeed, unfortunate that our attention has been unnecessarily redirected in this manner with a suggestion that Scrooge is alive and well in our community,” the statement read. “Many of our families will be in church on Monday with their spirit diminished by this attack.”

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