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Altoona Mirror Newspaper Archive: December 13, 2001 - Page 1

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - December 13, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                WORLD: ISRAEL CUTS OFF ALL CONTACT WITH YASSER ARAFAT PAGE Cl T, With Ravens waiting, Cowher hopes Brown's troubles over Blair Concert Chorale sets popular holiday children's book to music Altnmra Copyright 2001 WAR ON TERRORISM: More on Pages C1, C4 receives BY CHRIS TOMLINSON The Associated Press TORA BORA, Afghanistan Joined by U.S. special forces on their front lines in the eastern mountains, Afghan tribal com- manders set a new deadline Wednesday for trapped al-Qaida fighters to surrender and said they must hand over their leaders as well. American AC-130 guns hips did not stop their attacks during the negotiations, strafing a desolate canyon in the White Mountains where a group of Arabs and other non-Afghans fighting for al-Qaida were pinned down. Afghan tribal chiefs gave the fighters an ultima- tum to lay down their arms by mid- day today. Ghafar, a leader in the tribal eastern alliance, said the al-Qaida fighters are believed to include some from a list of 22 "most want- ed terrorists" made public by the Bush administration after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. "They have to hand them over, but they didn't [want said Ghafar, who goes by one name. He said a plan for the fighters to sur- render Wednesday morning col- lapsed in part over the refusal of leaders to give up. "They must turn over at least some of these people." He said it was not certain if bin Laden was among them. U.S. and Afghan officials have said he may be in the Tora Bora region of caves and tunnels, where the eastern alliance backed by U.S. bombing has been besieging al-Qaida. Gen. Petei- Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Washington that the Pentagon does not know if the al-Qaida lead- ership was in the Tora Bora area. He said it would be "great" if they were. He said, however, it is possible that some al-Qaida fighters had fled the country. "It is certainly conceivable that groups of two, three, 15, 20 could, walking out of there, in fact, get Pace said. An undetermined number of for- eign fighters is in the heavily forested canyon, where they fied after being routed from their mountaintop positions and caves the day before. The alliance had given them until 8 a.m. Wednesday to give themselves up, bvA the tteadline passed with no surrender. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2001 HOLIDAY MAIL Miiror photo illustration by Jason Worthington I Postal workers preparing for stress of annual rush SEND IT SOQN The period from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23 is traditionally the busiest time nf the year for thel.S. Postal Service. Some (leadlines for customers to remember: 9 Regular parcel post should be mailed tbis week, the sooner the better. Priority mail should be sent by Ihe third week oi December. Express mail should be sent by Dec. 21. Source: wnv.usps.gov BY Staff Writer Think it's hectic trying to get your Christmas cards in the mail on time? Try taking responsibility for getting them delivered. "It lints more stress on employees because of the vol- ume to get the mail out on a timely Howard Banks said while working at a window at the Altoona post office. "Not only do we have our home life to deal with, but we have increased mail with the same amount of employees and the same amount of hours in a day." Between Dec. 1 and Christmas Day, workers at the Altoona Processing and Distribution Facility in Duncansville are expected to cancel about 5.94 million pieces of mail, and that figure does not include packages, Altoona Postmaster Charles Burford said. "During the Christmas sea- son, our mail volume doubles and our parcel post volume increases by six he said. Saturday window service at the Altoona Post Office will be expanded from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the next two weeks. Eight temporary workers help process, collect and deliv- er the mail, and permanent employees are required to work overtime based on the volume of mail, Burford said. Additional delivery vehicles are rented to handle the vol- ume of mail. "It is hectic, but everyone pulls together and gefs (he job Martinsburg Postmaster Mark Olrlham said. "You try to do what you can to help people who are stressed. Please see A14 newsstand PIAA UNDER SCRUTINY H Improvements made in management, but more work needs to be done, study suggests. BY MICHAHL RACE HARRISBURG A statewide association that oversees high school sports still needs to boost its accountability but has made some improvements in its management, a legislative review suggests. The review, released Wednesday by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, found ques- tionable expenditures, lax policies and recurring budget shortfalls within the Pennsylvania Inter- scholastic Athletic Association. The PIAA a nonprofit group whose members include pub- lic and private high schools and middle schools across the stale establishes and enforces rules for Intel-scholastic athletics. John Rowe, the committee's chief analyst, acknowledged the PIAA has improved its operations in recent years after prodding by some lawmakers. But, he added, "more needs to be done in a number of areas where PIAA practices continue to fall short of best business and account- ing practices." Among other things (see box at the review found the PIAA continues to tally expenses that exceed its revenues. In fiscal 2000-01, the association had revenues of million but million in despite raising membership fees and ticket prices. In the past four years, the PIAA headquarters has had operating losses of million, according to the review, including to set- tle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by a female basketball referee who alleged the PIAA refused to let her officiate boys' basketball games. State Senate President Pro Tern and Lt. Gov. Robert C. Jubelirer, one of the most vocal critics of the PIAA, was not available to com- ment on the review Wednesday. PIAA Executive Director Brad Cashman downplayed the critical aspects of the review. Although he seemed receptive to recommendations for improve- ments, he refused to commit to any specific changes when questioned HAWS FOUND Among the problems discovered in the PIAA view released by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee: H Some "questionable" expenses, including to buy 26 walches lor board members, for a pair of 10K gold rings lor board members and more than lor clolhing for board members and staff. H A limited competitive bid policy that is "not sufficiently cleat" and applies only to certain merchandise and services. H A lack of a formal policy tor reviewing expenses and setting guidelines The PIAA, for example, lacks written guidelines regarding the staff's use of corporate credit cards. A lack of compliance with the PIAA's own open meetings policy. J by lawmakers who constitute the legislative committee. Cashman's contention that the PIAA is, for the most part, in com- pliance with its rules brought a harsh response from Rep. Frank Pistella, D-Allegheny. "That's sort of like being a little bit Pistella told Cash- man. "Either you are [in compli- ance] or you're not." The PIAA has had a rocky rela- tionship with many members of the General Assembly in recent years. Concerns about the association's accountability led to a legislative inquiry in 1998 and prompted a 2000 law that created a n-nieinber PIAA oversight board that includes lawmakers and school officials.. Sen. Gerald LaValie, who sits on both the oversight board and the legislative commit- tee, said there "seems to be sorii'e reluctance" by Cashman to eoopejv ate with lawmakers in improving the PIAA. f.'.j "Your organization has to he receptive to dealing with those LaValle told Cashmari; Please see All Final congressional redistricting plan could take months Haluska BY ROBERT IOOE Staff Writer HARRISBURG Democrats outraged by a congressional redistricting plan approved by the state Senate Republican majority ear- lier this week may find some relief in the House's counterproposal. But both sides likely will wail until early 2002 to agree on a final plan. The House's version, which was passed Wednesday, differs from the Senate version in that it would eliminate only two Democratic seats rather than the four in the Senate plan. Among the seals preserved would be U.S. Rep. John Murllia's 12th District seat, which under Hie Senate plan would have been dras- tically redrawn, pitting Murtha against fel- low Democrat and 20th District Rep. Frank Mascara in the 2002 primary. One prominent political analyst said it may be February until the final lines are agreed upon. "Maybe this will be put off until after Christmas, just as was done in 1981 and said Jon Delano of the H. John Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University. "in those years, redistricting plans were not approval until just days before (lie [February] filing date for nominating petitions." <-_ DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (600) 287-4480 BUS FOUR A 9 2 I I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Chance of showers, Forecast, A2 SPORTS High schools Scoreboard State Rep. Gary Haluska, D-Patton, said that while any redistricting plan will see the influence of the majority party in determin- ing nesv districts and the elimination of old ones, he said the Senate plan went too far. "That plan had too many political over- he said. "It was clearly being done to maximize the number of seats they could gain and Democratic seats they could eliminate. Please see All Peterson NATION A9 A13 A13 AS B4 Classifieds C7-14 Comics C6 D3 D2 D2 D5 Movies Nigh! Life Planner B5 Television IN BUSINESS Attorneys tor the stats arid the coalition of labor unions at the Hollidaysburg Car Shop. filed their briefing iX Wednesday with the 3rd Circuit Court ol Appeals,   

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