Altoona Mirror, December 19, 2001

Altoona Mirror

December 19, 2001

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Issue date: Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Pages available: 80

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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - December 19, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania IN NATION: CONGRESS PASSES EDUCATION BILL PAGE Cl S and looks ahead for Penn State Proper etiquette for fine 'dining Altoona Copyright 2001 WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2001 newsstand Hospitals dispute death-rate report BY VVfl.UA.M KlUI.KIl Staff Writer Four area hospitals had high death rates in five treatment areas far 2000, according to" a report of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. But hospital spokesmen dispute the sig- nificance of the findings. Altoona Hospital had death rates "signifi- cantly higher than expected" for complicat- ed lung infections and kidney failure. Nason Hospital had high death rates for complicat- ed pneumonia, while Miner's Hospital had high rates for blood clots in the lungs and UPMC Bedford Hospital for stomach and intestinal complications and disorders. CleaiTield Hospital had a lower-than- expected death rate for pneumonia and septicemia. Hospital spokesmen generally dis- missed the findings as skewed, misleading and unreliable because the council's meth- ods don't take individual circumstances fully into account, they said. On the contrary, the statistics are valid and show real quality-of-care differences between hospitals, said the council, whose report for western Pennsylvania included seven area hospitals. The council adjusts the statistics provided by the hospitals differences in sickness in individual cases, council spokesman Michael Berney said. The report contains outcome and cost findings for 22 common categories of ill- nesses to help hospitals improve quality and efficiency and to hold them account- able to patients, insurers and policy mak- ers. Please see A5 CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING Murtha warns of leave From Mirror staff and wire reports U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-12th District, will step down if he's forced to represent a district pro- 'posed by state Senate Republicans. In a statement Tuesday, Murtha said he had not decided what he would do. 'H've not fully considered the options, but I'm sure they'll work out a bipartisan agreement that will work." Mm Mititha "I've not fully considered the options, but I'm sure they'll work out a bipartisan agreement that will Murtha said in the writ- ten statement. The 69-year-old Democrat has told friends and confidants he would leave the U.S. House of Representatives rather than serve in a reapportioned district approved by the state Senate. The proposal would cuttheseatsof four Democratic congressmen and create [wo predominantly Republi- can districts in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh suburbs. It would expand Murtha's district to cover.Cambria County, as well as pails of Fayette, Greene and Washington counties, and he would have to run against U.S. Rep. Frank Mascara, D-20th District, for the seat. Former Gov. Tom Ridge, now U.S: d irector of Homeland Security, learned of the statements at a round table interview with select Pennsylvania journalists. Ridge said he was not pleased. look at Jack Murtha as a state he said. "He has always been the go-to guy and someone .who gets things done. His stepping down would be a great loss for the state of Pennsylvania." "The state House last week approved an alternative redistricting plan that would cut three Democratic seats but preserve Murtha's and Mascara's seats. It also would create one new district in Chester County. Both proposals will go to a con- ference committee between the House and Senate to decide the details of a final plan. Pennsylvania will Jose two of its 21 congressional seats starting next year because its population grew slower than that of other states in Census 2000. The Associated Press A curious anti-al-Qaida fighter looks into a small cave Tuesday that was used as an al-Qaida training camp for ammunition storage in the White Mountains near Tora Bora, Afghanistan. While local Afghan commanders have declared victory in Tora Bora, the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden remains unknown and the hunt continues. Paces Cl, C4 Ridge addresses job responsibility BY ROBERT IGOE Staff Writer WASHINGTON Although the White House gates are closed temporarily to the public, plenty of visitors to the nation's capitol wore happy to brave strong winds Tuesday to walk around the fences that surround 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and snap a picture through the black iron hars. However, others put themselves on the sidewalk around the White House to issue their grievances, including one quartet who held signs and passed out handbills protesting the military action in Afghanistan as part of the war on terrorism. In other words, many things appear to be getting hack to normal in the United States since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Inside the White House, Director of Ridge Homeland Security Tom Ridge addressed 10 invited journalists, most of whom were familiar with him from his seven years as Pennsylvania's governor, concerning the progress and future of America's domestic war on terrorism. Please see A3 sentence tossed 9 Judge denies Mumia Abu-Jamal's claims for a new trial. PHILADELPIirA (AP) A feder- al judge Tuesday overturned the death sentence imposed nearly two decades ago on Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former journalist and Black Panther both revered as a crusader against racial injustice and reviled as an unrepentant cop-killer who deserves to die. U.S. District Judge William Yohn cited problems with the jury charge and verdict form in the trial that ended with Abu-Jamal's first-degree murder conviction in the death of Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner. But Yohn denied all of Abu-Jamal's other claims and refused to grant a new trial. The ruling pleased neither side in a case that long has pitted sup- porters of Faulkner against anti- death penalty advocates, who view Abu-Jamal, 47, as a political prisoner of a corrupt justice sys- tem. "I'm angry, outraged and dis- said Faulkner's widow, Maureen. "I think Judge Yohn is a sick and twisted person after sitting on this case for two years and making this decision just before Christmas. He wants to play the middle road and try to 1 appease both sides, and it doesn't work." But Pain Africa, leader of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, said Abu-Jamal should have been released from prison altogether. Abu-Jamal TIMEIIN1 Developments In tlis Mumia Abu-Jamal case: H Dec. Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner is siain. n 1982: Abu-Jamal goes on trial. 1989: Appeals reach tti9 state Supreme Court, which affirms conviction and sentence. 1995: Abu-Jamal seeks retrial. Judgo denies request. 1998: Appeals again reach the state Supreme Court, which upholds'lhe denial ot new trial request HOcl. 4: U.S. Supreme Court declines to review appeal. Amnesty Inter- national calls for new trial. 2001: Abu- Jamal fires his longtime defense team after one of them a book about the case. Dec; 18: Federal judge throws out death" sentence. Policy adopted to ban displays on county property BY KAY STEPHENS Staff Writer HOLUDAYSBURG Don't make plans for a display in front of the Blair County Courthouse or any other county-owned properly. Commissioners Tuesday adopted a policy against it. While some governments have been in court on disagreements over what can and cannot be dis- played on their grounds, Blair County has had only a few dis- plays in front of the courthouse and no controversies or court bat- tles. But based on a recent federal court case, solicitor J. Michael Dorezas recommended Tuesday that commissioners adopt a pol- icy prohibiting unattended dis- plays, "If you, open up to any group, then you open up to all Dorezas said, "and the day will come when an unpopular group will want to [put up a Commissioner Donna Gority acknowledged the new policy will end displays such as the Children's Wall of Honor in recog- nition of children or a display in connection with breast cancor awareness month set up earlier this year. Dorezas said the county cannot put itself in a position of allowing displays it likes and forbidding onos it dislikes. Gority acknowledged that and voted to adopt the policy along with commissioners John J. Ebersoleand John II. Eichelberger Jr. "We don't want to end up in court over viewpoint discrimina- Gority said. While Dorezas proposed that the policy apply to the court- house, Blair County Chief Clerk Terry Wagner asked about other county locations. Dorezas said he was not aware of displays at any other county location, but county officials said if they have a policy prohibiting the displays at the courthouse, the next question will be if displays can be put up at Valley View Home, Valley View County Park or any other county-owned facili- ty. Please see A3 Subscription or home delivery questions: 948-7480 or (800) 287-4480 ..j 3 Lottei-y numbers, A2 WEATHER Partly sunny, Forecast, A2 Gift 946-7480 or Start that gift subscription today. !E5 LOCAL '0 NATION Business AIM A12 Obituaries Opinion AB B4 B5 Classifieds C6-14 Movies C5 HUFE-, i Local Scoreboard Comics D5 Community news D2 Puzzles Television D4 IN BUSINESS Housing construction rises to highest level since July. PAGE A11 ;

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