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Germans give Greece mixed signals


Economy minister throws cold water reforms demanded as part of its (euro) 240 billion ($300 billion) bailout packon hope for change in bailout deal. ages. By FRANK JORDANS Associated Press


Witnesses: Sulfur smelled before blast

Members of a family walk on a street Sunday as flames rise after an explosion Saturday at the Amuay refinery near Punto Fijo, Venezuela. Venezuelans who live next to the country’s biggest oil refinery said they smelled a strong odor of sulfur hours before a gas leak ignited in an explosion on Saturday that killed at least 39.

BERLIN — Germany’s economy minister has rejected calls for Greece to get more time to implement economic reforms, saying in an interview Sunday that Athens needs to respect the bailout deal reached with its international creditors. Philipp Roesler’s comments to ZDF public television come after a visit by Greece’s prime minister to Berlin on Friday, during which Antonis Samaras told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that his country needs “time to breathe” before it can make all the budget cuts and

“What the Greeks have asked for, half a year or two years, that’s not doable,” said Roesler, who is also the vice chancellor in Angela Merkel’s coalition government. He added that “time is always money” and all parties had agreed that additional funds for Greece weren’t up for debate. Roesler, the leader of Germany’s probusiness Free Democratic Party, has long taken a hard line on Greece. Last month, he caused an outcry in Greece by suggesting the idea of the country leaving the17-nation eurozone had “lost its horror.” Those comments appeared to put him at odds with Merkel, who has always insisted that Greece should re-

nance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who told a newspaper in comments published Sunday that “more time generally means more money and that quickly means a new (bailout) program.” Merkel has so far shied away from making new promises to Greece. On Sunday, she dodged questions on the subject during an interview with German public TV station ARD. Instead, AP PHOTO she insisted that “we are at a crucial moGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel, ment in the fight against the debt crisis right, and German Economy Minister and that’s why I think we should all Philipp Roesler, left, arrive for the weigh our words carefully.” weekly cabinet meeting Wednesday. The question of how to avert a Greek debt default, which could spark a chain main in the euro. reaction among other ailing European But his latest views on the need for economies, has preoccupied EU leaders Greece to stick to the agreed time plan as they return from their traditional for reforms were echoed by German Fi- summer break.

Up tax to save SS, poll


Syrian massacre claimed

ritain said Sunday it was deeply concerned by emerging reports of a B “brutal massacre of civilians” in a Da-

mascus suburb where activists claim more than 300 people have been killed over the past week in a major government offensive to take back control of rebel-held areas in and around the capital. The British-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 32 more dead bodies were found in the streets of Daraya on Sunday and that they had been killed by “gunfire and summary executions.” Another activist group, The Local Communication Committees, claimed 300 bodies were discovered Saturday in Daraya and 633 people have been killed there since the government launched its assault last week. INDIANAPOLIS

Taliban seeks group prayer

An American-born Taliban fighter imprisoned in Indiana will try to convince a federal judge that his religious freedom trumps security concerns in a closely watched trial that will examine how far prisons can go to ensure security in the age of terrorism. John Walker Lindh was expected to testify today in Indianapolis during the first day of the trial over prayer policies in a tightly restricted prison unit where he and other high-risk inmates have severely limited contact with the outside world. Lindh, 31, a Muslim convert who was charged with supporting terrorists after he was captured by U.S. troops in Afghanistan and later pleaded guilty to lesser charges, claims his religious rights are being violated because the federal prison in Terre Haute deprives him of daily group prayer. SAN DIEGO

Quakes rattle California

Dozens of small to moderate earthquakes rattled Southern California on Sunday, shaking an area from rural Imperial County to the San Diego coast and north into the Coachella Valley. The largest quake, magnitude 5.3, struck at 12:31 p.m. about three miles north-northwest of the small Imperial County farming town of Brawley, according to Paul Caruso, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. It was followed minutes later by a 4.9 magnitude quake. An Imperial County sheriff’s dispatcher said there were no reports of damage or injuries. CHICAGO

Docs OK circumcision

The nation’s most influential pediatricians group says the health benefits of circumcision in newborn boys outweigh any risks and insurance companies should pay for it. In its latest policy statement on circumcision, a procedure that has been declining nationwide, the American Academy of Pediatrics moves closer to an endorsement but says the decision should be up to parents. “It’s not a verdict from on high,” said policy co-author Dr. Andrew Freedman. “There’s not a one-size-fits-all-answer.” But from a medical standpoint, circumcision’s benefits in reducing risk of disease outweigh its small risks, said Freedman, a pediatric urologist in Los Angeles. Recent research bolstering evidence that circumcision reduces chances of infection with HIV and other sexually spread diseases, urinary tract infections and penis cancer influenced the academy to update their 13-year-old policy.

Respondents still divide about evenly on Obama, Romney. The Associated Press


Shira Edllan Gervasi, of Israel, puts her name on plywood protecting a storefront in Key West, Fla., in anticipation of Tropical Storm Isaac on Saturday.

Isaac bears down

People in Key West chill out despite soaking out with a snorkel and mask, inflatable arm bands and a paddle, just for a laugh. She rode with Kelly IAMI — Hurricane Friend, who wore a wet suit, dive warnings have been cap and lobster gloves. issued for an area “We’re just going for a drink,” stretching from Mercer said. Louisiana to the “With the ones that are brave Florida Panhandle as Isaac churns enough like us,” Friend added. toward the Gulf Coast. Along famed Duval Street, many The warnings stretched from stores, bars and restaurants closed, east of Morgan City, La. — which the cigar rollers and palm readers includes the New Orleans area — packed up, and just a handful of to Destin, Fla. drinking holes remained open. Isaac lashed the Florida Keys as a But people posed for pictures at tropical storm on Sunday, bringing the Southernmost Point, while rain and strong winds. But resiDave Harris and Robyn Roth took dents for the most part took it in her dachshund for a walk and stride. However, preparations have checked out boats rocking along begun farther north as forecasters the waterfront. warn Isaac could be a strong Cate“Just a summer day in Key gory 2 hurricane by the time it reacWest,” Harris said. hes the Gulf Coast. That kind of ho-hum attitude exThe U.S. National Hurricane AP PHOTO tended farther up the coast. Edwin Center in Miami says Isaac is exReeder swung by a gas station in pected to hit somewhere between Yoni Haim, left, and Jessica Yeshalek board Miami Shores — not for fuel, but southeastern Louisiana and the their storefront as they prepare for Tropical drinks and snacks. Florida Panhandle either late Tues- Storm Isaac. Isaac’s winds were felt in the “This isn’t a storm,” he said. “It’s day or early Wednesday, the sev- Florida Keys Sunday morning. a rain storm.” enth anniversary of Hurricane KaWith a laugh, Reeder said he has not stocked up aside from trina. The storm was predicted to pass west of Tampa, the site of buying dog and cat food. The forecast wasn’t funny, however. Isaac was expected to the Republican National Convention, but it had already disrupted the schedule there because of the likelihood of heavy draw significant strength from the warm, open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and with more uncertainty than usual about rain and strong winds. Even before reaching hurricane strength, Isaac caused the path, a hurricane watch was in effect from east of Morgan considerable inconvenience, with hundreds of flights can- City, La., to Indian Pass, Fla. The storm, which stretched more than 200 miles from its celed at airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. There were scattered power outages from Key West to Fort Lauderdale center, was expected to make landfall as a Category 2 hurriaffecting more than 6,000 customers, and flooding occurred cane, meaning top sustained winds of 96 to 110 mph. The Gulf Coast hasn’t been hit by a hurricane since 2008, in low-lying areas. Wind gusts of 60 mph were reported as far north as Pom- when Dolly, Ike and Gustav all struck the region. Hurricane center forecasters are uncertain of the storm’s pano Beach, north of Fort Lauderdale. But while officials urged residents in southeast Florida to stay home, that rec- path because two of their best computer models now track ommendation was ignored by surfers and joggers on Miami the storm on opposite sides of a broad cone. One model has Isaac going well west and the other well east. For the moBeach and shoppers at area malls. In Key West, Emalyn Mercer rode her bike while decked ment, the predicted track goes up the middle. By MATT SEDENSKY Associated Press


WASHINGTON — Most Americans say go ahead and raise taxes if it will save Social Security benefits for future generations. And raise the retirement age, if you have to. Both options are preferable to cutting monthly benefits, even for people who are years away from applying for them. Those are the findings of a new Associated Press-GfK poll on public attitudes toward the nation’s largest federal program. Social Security is facing serious long-term financial problems. When given a choice on how to fix them, 53 percent of adults said they would rather raise taxes than cut benefits for future generations, according to the poll. Just 36 percent said they would cut benefits instead. The results were similar when people were asked whether they would rather raise the retirement age or cut monthly payments for future generations — 53 percent said they would raise the retirement age, while 35 percent said they would cut monthly payments. Social Security is being hit by a wave of millions of retiring baby boomers, leaving relatively fewer workers to pay into the system. The trustees who oversee the massive retirement and disability program say Social Security’s trust funds will run out of money in 2033. At that point, Social Security will only collect enough tax revenue to pay 75 percent of benefits, unless Congress acts. Lawmakers from both political parties say there is a good chance Congress will address Social Security in the next year or two — if the White House takes the lead. Yet so far, Social Security has not played a big role in the presidential election. In previous polls, Democrats have typically scored better than Republicans on handling Social Security. But the AP-GfK poll shows Americans are closely divided on which presidential candidate they trust on the issue. Forty-seven percent said they trust President Barack Obama to do a better job on Social Security, and 44 percent said they trust his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. The difference is within the poll’s margin of sampling error.

Penn State trustees see upcoming season opener as opportunity By PETER JACKSON Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE — Penn State trustees Sunday ended a two-day meeting on a positive note, swapping ideas about how the university’s looming football season opener could be used as the vehicle for a public-relations extravaganza. A presentation by the board’s hired public relations consultant sparked a spontaneous discussion about the image-rebuilding potential of the Sept. 1 home game against Ohio Uni-

versity, which trustees said is likely to draw disproportionately heavy national media attention in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Anthony Lubrano and several fellow trustees urged displaying messages on the scoreboard, buying advertisements and other gimmicks during the game to remind fans not only of Penn State’s athletic milestones, but its solid academic reputation. “When they walk into the

“This isn’t football, we’re an academic institution. Why not display that?”

Anthony Lubrano PSU trustee

stadium why not prominently display those successes?” Lubrano asked the board. “This isn’t football, we’re an academic institution. Why not display that?” “We’ll have a captive audi-

ence,” said trustee Kenneth Frazier. Lubrano brought up the Ohio game after New York public-relations executive Richard Edelman outlined his firm’s multifaceted campaign to repair the university’s image. It includes a “Faces of Penn State” piece that will promote individual students, professors and alumni on posters, Internet postings and a video slated to debut during the game. Trustees also discussed ongoing preparations to recruit a

successor to Penn State President Rodney Erickson, who plans to step down when his present contract expires on June 30, 2014. The search for the next president is slated to begin in early 2013 with the goal of selecting Erickson’s successor by early 2014. Erickson said he would not participate in the search but urged the trustees to “cast your net broadly” and seek input from diverse sources including students, faculty and alumni.

Times Leader 08-27-2012  

The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader 08-27

Times Leader 08-27-2012  

The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader 08-27