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A Johnstown man was sentenced Tuesday for running an illegal taxi service. [...] A judge sentenced him to 15 months probation and community service. He will also have to pay $900 in fines and is not allowed to operate a cab or even wear a hat that says “Taxi Cab.”

Johnstown Man Sentenced For Running Illegal Taxi Service [WJAC-TV]

Gettysburg’s Great Lincoln Statue

The seventh graders at St. Martha’s always went to Gettysburg for their class trip. (They could still do it now.) But what my teachers did not show us — or showed us and I forgot, or they showed us and I didn’t know who Perry Como was — was this Gettysburg statue of Abraham Lincoln next to Perry Como:

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Further investigation (done by RJ) reveals the statue might just “look like” the crooner, and it’s apparently supposed to be Lincoln with “the everyman.” But whatever: This is the best thing ever. How random, how awesome.

For those of you who don’t know who Perry Como is, author Andrew Ferguson (Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe’s America) explains: “People have forgotten Perry Como, this is awful to say the least. He was a crooner, a sort of a Frank Sinatra without the overtones of danger and sexuality but anyway, so he just looks like every man, which was Perry Como’s appeal and he’s in a cable neck sweater and Lincoln is talking to him.”

I would be remiss if I did not note Pennsylvania-born Perry Como also appeared with Superman. Let’s hope in 100 years somebody puts up a statue of Barack Obama talking to Celine Dion or something.

Time travel or feverish hallucination? [of Battles and Bibliophiles]

Pa. Woman Sues To Carry Gun To Child’s Soccer Match

120108mcfc.jpg It’s been a while since we’ve had a really fun, really Pennsylvania story in the news. (Or at least a while since I noticed one.) But, today, like manna from heaven, the Harrisburg Patriot-News comes through with this gem:

The Lebanon woman who stirred controversy by openly carrying a handgun to her child’s soccer game filed a lawsuit in federal court today claiming that her rights were violated and seeking more than $1 million in damages.

Meleanie Hain’s concealed weapons permit was revoked Sept. 20 by Lebanon County Sheriff Michael DeLeo, who maintained she showed poor judgment wearing her gun to her daughter’s soccer game Sept. 11. The permit was reinstated Oct. 14 by Lebanon County Judge Robert Eby.

What?! We’re going to punish someone who was carrying a gun to protect us from terrorists on 9/11?! For shame.

“My client has been harmed more than that court is empowered to adjudicate,” said Hain’s attorney, Matthew Weisberg, referring to the reinstatement of her permit in county court.

The suit seeks reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and costs and lost wages, since Hain’s baby-sitting business has suffered, Weisberg said. She also seeks compensation for emotional distress, punitive and statutory damages, and mandatory education for the sheriff’s department on Second Amendment issues. [...]

The primary reason Hain carries a gun is for safety, Weisberg said. “She believes she is made safer by openly carrying,” he said.

Yes, those shoot-’em’-ups at kids’ soccer games are becoming a real nuisance. Frankly, I wouldn’t go to one without carrying.

I’d probably keep it concealed, though.

Gun-carrying Lebanon mom files civil-rights lawsuit [The Patriot-News]

Pa. Not So Competitive

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Hey, look! Some libertopian think tank has ranked the states in terms of competitiveness (whatever that means), and guess what two states are not so competitive!

The eighth annual competitiveness report from the Beacon Hill Institute, a free-market think tank based at Suffolk University in Boston, ranked Pennsylvania 39th out of the 50 U.S. states and New Jersey 42nd. Delaware was ranked 19th.

Massachusetts came in at the top of the list, while Mississippi was 50th.

Researchers preparing the study looked at areas such as security, government and fiscal policy, environmental policy, human resources, technology and “business incubation.”

Oh no what will we do Pennsylvania has ranked low in a survey?! It turns out, though, the state scored well in “technology.” So, um, yeah, we have that going for us.

Pa., N.J. among least competitive states, think tank says [PBJ]

Pa. Man Assaults Bar Patrons Over Obama Win

110608obamano.jpg A voter in Luzerne County — the only county in the U.S. where a plurality of residents are of Polish ancestry! — was kind of upset about Barack Obama’s election win. Hell, Obama even won over the Polacks in Luzerne!

Faced with having to live with such events, this man did the only sensible thing: He bit the nose of another man.

Police were called to Pizzle’s Bar on Cherry Street at about 2:20 a.m. Wednesday for a man, identified as [Alexander J.] McKenna, swinging a cane at other patrons.

Police found McKenna on the ground yelling obscenities, the criminal complaint says.

Joe Blight and Ronnie Blight told police, the criminal complaint says, that they were inside the bar when McKenna began screaming obscenities about President-elect Barack Obama winning the presidential election.

McKenna walked across the bar and bit Joe Blight on the nose, and swung his cane at Ronnie Blight, according to the criminal complaint.

Oh, also, this dude is 70. And he fought the Blight Brothers! What a tough cookie.

Police: Man assaults bar patrons over Obama win [Times Leader via Wonkette]

Heroin Dealers You Can Believe In

Hey, kids, do you like Barack Obama? Probably, at least a little, this site’s demo skews young and nobody under 35 even knows who John McCain is. And do you like heroin? Well, no, probably not, if you’re reading this site you most likely prefer your opiates in convenient pill form. But no matter. If you like narcotics and you like Barack Obama, do I have a drug dealer for you!

Authorities in Wilkes-Barre found 240 heroin packets stamped with “OBAMA 09″ and a likeness of Barack Obama during a raid last week.

Police said [some arrested person] also used the residence at 302 Hazle Ave., Wilkes-Barre, where the heroin packets stamped “OBAMA 09″ were found in the basement, Noonan said.

“I’ve never seen a stamp like that before,” Frank Noonan [of the state attorney general's office] said. [...] “Once you have a heroin customer, you have a daily customer,” Noonan said, adding that heroin is more addictive than other illegal substances.

Noonan said there is an increase of heroin trafficking in the Wyoming Valley due to demand.

Don’t quotes like that just make you love American hard news writing? I know that’s what it does to me. Anyway, yes, heroin you can believe in, change to Barack Obama-brand heroin, hope your next shot of it isn’t your last, etc. Did I get them all? I think I did. If anybody wants to stamp Sarah Palin’s face on some bricks of cocaine I have a bunch of “original team of mavericks” jokes to make, too.

Police: Three-town trafficking ring shut down [Times Leader via Philly EDGE]

Ed Rendell Enlists Puppy Army

Gov. Ed Rendell spoke today at a rally in favor of his puppy mill law, which some legislators are attempting to shoot down because it might cost them (or their donors) money. And the world continues to spin.

The puppy mill law supporters are pulling out all the stops, though, with an army of cute doggies.

Rendell made his comments on Tuesday during a capitol rally attended by dog lovers, when he could get a word in edgewise:

“Each and every one of you have to go to your senators and tell them this is an issue that you’ll vote on! [barking] [cheering] A smart dog as well, right?” The governor was upstaged by his own dog, a golden retriever named Maggie.

That’s funny, because I bet Maggie does better football analysis, too.

Rendell Rallies Supporters of His Puppy Mill Proposal [KYW 1060]
Photo by CavinB, Creative Commons license

Stadiums For Every Rich Person In Town!

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A group of rich owners of a soccer team recently got Pennsylvania to give them millions of dollars (somewhere north of $30 million) to build a soccer stadium even though it’s a horrible investment. Since the Keystone State is so happy to give away money, it appears New Jersey has jumped into the ring, to.: Camden County (!) and Atlantic City (!!) are looking to give millions of millions of dollars to Comcast (!!!) to build a stadium (!!!!) for the minor-league hockey Phantoms (!!!!!).

Yes, since Comcast will soon knock down the Spectrum and build a pre-packaged neighborhood/theme park/hotel/water slide (hopefully), a bunch of local governments are hoping to get the Phantoms to move to their town by giving rich people a ton of money. Allentown, too, is attempting to lure the Phantoms its way. Are the Kixx that far away from getting a boffo stadium deal?

Actually, there’s something even funnier than the Kixx getting a stadium deal: People in Chester County want to build a minor-league baseball stadium. And they’ll want some state money to do it, too. No, really.

In other news, Philadelphia Will Do has announced plans for a 10,000-seat stadium permanently hovering over the city of Philadelphia via an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys. The state has already kicked in $25 mil.

Will Comcast-Spectacor’s plans for hockey arena haunt taxpayers? [Philly Inc.]
If Chester County builds it, will you fund? [Philly Inc.]

Out-Of-State Winies, The LCB, And God

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In the beginning, God created man and the ethyl alcohol molecule. Later, man discovered the ethyl alcohol molecule was psychoactive. In other words, he discovered how to get drunk.

Alcohol is officially endorsed by both God and Jesus, and as such it’s one of the most popular drugs in the world. But even though God and Jesus both love alcohol, some people thought it shouldn’t exist. So the U.S. banned alcohol and everything was fine except for the flagrant violation of the alcohol laws and the gang wars and the deaths from contaminated alcohol and (most importantly) the loss of tax revenue. America got rid of Prohibition and Pennsylvania founded the Liquor Control Board.

Officially, Pennsylvania hoped for the return of Prohibition, if only to shut down the saloons in Philadelphia (see, in some ways this Prohibition wasn’t about alcohol at all!). But soon the state did discover the value of the tax revenue of drunks, and now it restricts the sale of “wine and spirits” to state-owned stores that usually suck.

The most-famous alcohol tax in Pennsylvania is the Johnstown Flood Tax, originally levied at 10 percent to help the Western Pa. town recover from a 1936 flood. Now the money goes to the general fund. As you might have guessed, the rate is now 18 percent, having been raised for reasons not related to flooding in Johnstown.

Yes, the state loves alcohol revenue. It gets better: The state once banned out-of-state wineries from shipping directly to consumers in Pennsylvania, because that makes sense. But a bunch of court rulings eventually made that law unconstitutional, so now somehow the state is going to make a new law that will do the same thing and (I guess, you never know) be constitutional.

All of this is being done to “protect the children,” because allowing wineries to ship alcohol to Pennsylvania residents would make it easier for kids to get booze. They, apparently, do not have access to it now.

For more information, consult your local anti-Pennsylvania LCB bloq.

Pa. Lawmakers May Restrict Wine Shipments [AP/NBC 10]
Photo by RobotSkirts, Creative Commons license

Rendell Signs Statewide Smoking Ban

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Yes, it’s official: Gov. Ed Rendell has signed a statewide smoking ban, according to a release from his office. It’ll take effect in 90 days; like the Philadelphia ban, bars that make 20 percent or less of their revenue from food can apply for an exemption.

The bill will also allow smoking in nursing homes (it’s ageist!), on sections of casino floors and in private clubs. Oh, and you can still smoke in your own home, but you all know they’re coming after you next.

Update: Also in Pennsylvania news, a woman who claims Michael Jordan fathered her child (he didn’t) has been barred from contacting him again.