Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - December 19, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania
IN NATION: CONGRESS PASSES EDUCATION BILL ► PAGE Cl
Paterno gives season recap
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Proper etiquette for fine diningAltona Mirror
© Copyright 2001WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2001
50C newsstandHospitals dispute death-rate report
By William Kibler
Staff Writer Four area hospitals had high death rates in Five treatment areas for 2(XX), according to a report of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.
But hospital spokesmen dispute the significance of the findings.
Alt(xma Hospital had death rates “significantly higher than expected" for complicated lung infections and kidney failure. Nason Hospital had high death rates for complicated 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.
Clearfield Hospital had a lower-than-exported death rate for pneumonia and septicemia.
Hospital spokesmen generally dismissed the findings as skewed, misleading and unreliable because the council’s meth ads 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 themselves- for differences in sickness in individual cases, council spokesman
Michael Bemey said.
The report contains outcome and cost findings for 22 common categories of illnesses to help hospitals improve quality and efficiency and to hold them accountable to patients, insurers and policy makers.
Please see Hospitals/Page A5
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 proposed by state Senate Republicans.
In a statement Tuesday, Murtha said he had not decided what he would do.
4‘I’ve not fully considered the options, but I’m sure they’ll work out a bipartisan agreement that will work.”
— Rep. John Murtha
“I’ve not fully considered the options, but I’m sure they’ll work out a bipartisan agreement that will work,’’ Murtha said in the written 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 cut the seats of four Democratic congressmen and create two predominantly Republican districts in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh suburbs. It would expand Murtha’s district to cover Cambria County, as well as parts 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. director of Homeland Security, learned of the statements at a roundtable interview with select Pennsylvania journalists. Ridge said he was not pleased.
“I look at Jack Murtha as a state treasure,” 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 conference committee between the House and Senate to decide the details of a final plan.
Pennsylvania will lose two of its 21 congressional seats starting next year because its population grew slower than that of other states in Census 2000.
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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. I Pages Ct, 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 were happy to brave strong winds Tuesday to walk around the fences that surround 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and snap a picture through the black iron bars.
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 I on terrorism.
In other words, many things appear to be getting back to normal in the United States since the Sept. ll terrorist attacks.
Inside the White House, Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge addressed IO 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 Rldge/Page A3
■ Judge denies Mumia Abu-Jamal’s claims for a new trial.
PHII. ADELPHI A (AP) — A feder-a1 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 supporters of Faulkner against antideath penalty advocates, who view Abu-Jamal, 47, as a political prisoner of a corrupt justice system.
“I’m angry, outraged and disgusted,’’ 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 appease both sides, and it doesn’t work.”
But Pam Africa, leader of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, said Abu-Jamal should have been released from prison altogether.
Developments In the Mumia Abu-Jamal ease:
■ Dec. 9.1981:
Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner is slain.
■ 1982: Abu-Jamal goes on trial.
■ 1989: Appeals reach the state Supreme Court, which affirms conviction and sentence.
■ 1995: Abu-Jamal seeks retrial. Judge denies request.
■ 1998: Appeals again reach the state Supreme Court, which upholds the denial of new trial request
■ Oct. 4: U.S. Supreme Court declines to review appeal.
■2000: Amnesty International calls for new trial.
■ 2001: Abu-Jamal fires his longtime defense team after one of them publishes a book about the case.
■ Dec. 18: Federal judge throws out death sentence.
Policy adopted to ban displays on county property
By Ray Stephens Staff Writer
HOLLIDAYSBURG - Don’t make plans for a display in front of the Blair County Courthouse or any other county-owned property. Commissioners Tuesday adopted a policy against it.
While some governments have been in court on disagreements over what can and cannot be displayed on their grounds, Blair
County has had only a few displays in front of the courthouse and no controversies or court battles.
But based on a recent federal court case, solicitor J. Michael Dorezas recommended Tuesday that commissioners adopt a policy prohibiting unattended displays.
“If you. open up to any group, then you open up to all groups,” Dorezas said, “and the day will
come when an unpopular group will want to [put up a display].”
Commissioner Donna Gority acknowledged the new policy will end displays such as the Children’s Wall of Honor in recognition of children or a display in connection with breast cancer awareness month set up earlier this year.
Dorezas said the county cannot put itself in a position of allowing displays it likes and forbidding
ones it dislikes.
Gority acknowledged that and voted to adopt the policy along with commissioners John J. Ebersole and John H. Eichelberger Jr.
“We don’t want to end up in court over viewpoint discrimination,” Gority said.
While Dorezas proposed that the policy apply to the courthouse, Blair County Chief Clerk Terry Wagner asked about other
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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 facility.
Please see Displays/Page A3
Housing construction rises to highest level since July.