Today's News - Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An autopsy showed no signs of foul play, but Cambria County authorities are treating the death of 30-year old Amanda Sherry-Griffon as a homicide. Her body was found Saturday night in the woods near the borough and the coroner says it likely had been there for days. State police found a large amount of blood in the bathroom of griffon’s apartment, but it’s unclear who is belonged to. Toxicology results are pending. Clayton Shultz, who lived in the same apartment, was arrested on an unrelated bench warrant Monday, and Griffon’s estranged husband, Chance Griffon, was also arrested Monday for drunkenly forcing his way into a home and trying to assault two people. The “Altoona Mirror” reports Griffon was arrested last month on simple assault and disorderly conduct charges. She pleaded guilty last year to passing bad checks.

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A deadly crash yesterday afternoon on Route 219 near Cherry Tree, Indiana County. A pickup truck apparently ran off the road and struck a tree, killing the driver. A passenger was flown to an area hospital.

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Today is Earth Day and the Cambria County Solid Waste Authority is holding an open house and recycling drive from 10:00 to 2:00 at its office at 507 Manor Drive in Ebensburg. Cambria County residents can dropped off items for free, including books and all kinds of electronics. Businesses or entities with larger quantities of material must call ahead to make arrangements.

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Governor Tom Corbett talked about small business yesterday during a visit to Duncansville, Blair County. He says those businesses are one of the main reasons unemployment numbers in Pennsylvania continue to decline. Corbett is facing a tough re-election battle. Fifty-five percent of people surveys in the latest quinnipiac poll say they don’t think he deserves another term. Corbett currently trails all four Democratic candidates.

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State police investigated 397 crashes over Easter weekend and two people were killed and 128 injured. Officers issued more than 6,500 speeding citations, charged 326 people with DUI, cited 600 motorists for not wearing seat belts, and 96 people for not properly securing their children. Last year two people were killed and 160 injured in 455 crashes.

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Peoples Natural Gas has filed a request with the Public Utility Commission asking for an overall rate increase of $18.9 million a year, beginning October 1. If the PUC approves the request – and that is not guaranteed – the average residential customer’s bill would increase from $80.87 cents per month to $85.07.

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The plaintiffs in a constitutional challenge to Pennsylvania's law banning same-sex marriage are asking a federal judge to make a decision. Civil rights lawyers filed the papers yesterday in federal court, saying a trial is no longer necessary because the state's lawyers haven't refuted their clients' claims about their inability to get the same legal and tax benefits as married couples. The trial was set to begin in June.

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Attorney General Kathleen Kane is warning consumers to be alert for electricity-related scams. Her office is receiving reports of calls from people pretending to be utility collection representatives. The scammers threaten the victim, saying the electricity will be shut off if the customer doesn't wire money or get a green-dot card, which is a re-loadable debit card that can be used to pay bills. Kane says consumers should not give out personal information to callers they do not know.

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One of the victims of the mass stabbing at Franklin Regional High School is being upgraded to good condition.  Seventeen-year-old Jared Boger got the news yesterday following four surgeries since the April 9th attack. Doctors say the knife came within millimeters of Boger's heart.  Three other male students remain hospitalized, two in fair condition and a third still critical.  Twenty-one students and a security guard were stabbed during the attack.  Sixteen-year-old Alex Hribal is being charged as an adult for the crimes.

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A federal court says the government has to release secret papers on drone attacks against suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens.  The appeals court in New York ruled Monday that the information has already been mentioned publicly by President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and CIA Director John Brennan. 

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President Obama will be at the site of last month's deadly Washington state mudslide today.  White House officials say the President will be meeting with victims' families.  The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office says 41 victims have been recovered.

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Vice President Joe Biden is in Kiev to meet with Ukraine's acting president today.  The White House says Biden will meet with president Oleksander Turchinov and the nation's prime minister.  Biden's visit comes as Russia is accusing Ukraine of violating terms of a fragile deal designed to curb the growing violence in eastern Ukraine.

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Officials in Hawaii are working to get a teenage boy who stowed away in a Hawaiian Airlines jet's landing gear back home to California.  The teen managed to survive a flight from San Jose to Maui by apparently stowing away in the wheel well of the jet. 

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The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments today in the civil case filed against Internet television service Aereo.  The major networks say the company is illegally transmitting their shows into online video streams for Aereo subscribers. 

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Tuesday's air search for the missing Malaysian airliner is being called off because of a tropical cyclone in the area.  The Joint Agency Coordination Center said the current weather conditions are resulting in heavy seas and poor visibility and would make any air search activities ineffective and potentially hazardous. 

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General Motors is asking a bankruptcy court to immunize the automaker against lawsuits.  GM filed a motion on Monday asking the court to bar anyone from suing the company for defects or bad behavior that happened before the company was re-created on paper in its 2009 bankruptcy filing.  GM is particularly concerned about lawsuits stemming from problems with ignition switches. 

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In the aftermath of last year's deadly bombings, Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was a celebration of resilience.  More than 36-thousand runners took part and Californian Meb Keflezighi became the first American man to win the race since 1983. 

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Netflix is opposed to Comcast's plan to take over Time Warner Cable.  The streaming movie and TV firm is the first media company to publicly come out against the merger that would create a huge business with 30-million subscribers across the U.S.  Netflix went on the record Monday opposing the merger in a letter to its investors. 

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Allergists in the Northeast are warning of a so-called "pollen vortex" this spring that's expected to hit allergy sufferers really hard.  Exceptionally high pollen levels could make things uncomfortable for people living in any part of the U.S. that was plagued by bitterly cold temperatures during this past winter's polar vortex.

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The U.S. has plans to trim the number of troops in Afghanistan to less than ten-thousand.  Administration officials say there's a belief in the White House that Afghan security forces are now strong enough to contain a Taliban-led insurgency.  There are now about 33-thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from over 100-thousand in 2011.

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A young Texas boy is making a big difference in his community, one smoke detector at a time.  Nine year old Hector Montoya spent months saving up 300 dollars to buy a new Playstation 4. Then he saw a local news story about a mother and her child who died in a fire in a home without smoke detectors.  Touched by this, he decided the Playstation 4 could wait and he bought about 100 smoke detectors instead. 

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The First Lady says splurging on junk food is okay if you're eating right most of the time.  Michelle Obama shared her insights with children journalists Monday at the White House.  Obama said her biggest guilty pleasure is French fries. 

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The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks on Earth Day, but the moon will dim the celestial light show.  The Lyrids will be brightest just before dawn today and visible most of this week. 

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When it comes to the travel sector, nothing ranks lower in customer satisfaction than the nation's airlines.  The annual American Customer Satisfaction Index found airlines scored 69 on a 100-point scale.  That's compared to 75 for hotels and 77 for Internet Travel Agencies.

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Lovers of cats and coffee will soon have a spot where they can go to enjoy both.  Purina is set to open the first American "cat cafe" this Thursday in New York City.  The cat food maker say visitors will be able to sip some joe and hang out with a few local felines up for adoption.  

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