Today's News - Friday, February, 28 2014

In Johnstown’s federal court today, a judge is scheduled to issue an order deciding if 18-year-old Penn State Altoona student Vladislav Miftakohv will be released on bond into the custody of his mother. Logan Township police say they found homemade bombs in his Juniata apartment last month, but his attorney claims he was just making fireworks. Miftakohv was already serving out three months of probation for a trespassing offense in California. The prosecution thinks the Russian native is a flight risk.

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A fire yesterday morning destroyed a Boswell area bar. The Oakton Hotel caught fire sometime around 3 a.m. Frigid conditions made fighting the blaze difficult. The Oakton had been operating since the 1970s.

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Carrolltown bar owner Gerald Lowmaster was sentenced yesterday in Johnstown’s federal court to 46 months behind bars.He pleaded guilty to laundering money as part of his son’s multi-million dollar drug ring. George Lowmaster is scheduled for sentencing May 13. Earlier this week, his mother, Dolly, received five years probation and one year of house arrest.

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Governor Tom Corbett signed the warrant and Stephen Rex Edmiston was scheduled to receive a lethal injection on April 16, but U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson in Johnstown yesterday granted a stay because his rights of appeal have not been exhausted. Edmiston was convicted in the kidnapping, rape and brutal murder of 2-year-old Bobbi Jo Matthew who was taken from a home in Beccaria, Clearfield County, in 1988. A status conference is scheduled April 2.

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Governor Tom Corbett is recovering after having hernia surgery in Pittsburgh. He handed over power to Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley yesterday while he was under general anesthesia for a little over an hour. Officials say the routine surgery was successful and Corbett will return to Harrisburg on Monday.

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Hillary Clinton is pulling ahead in Pennsylvania polls. A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday shows the Democrat leading potential rivals New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Senator Rick Santorum in the 2016 race for the white house. Fifty-nine percent of voters also said Clinton would make a good president. The poll surveyed more than 1,400 hundred registered Pennsylvania voters.

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Former Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel is out of prison. The Philadelphia Republican was discharged yesterday morning from Laurel Highlands Prison in Somerset after serving almost two years on a corruption conviction. Perzel will pay $1 million in restitution and will be on parole until 2017.

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The U.S. Navy will officially commission the USS Somerset tomorrow at the naval yard in Philadelphia. The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock is named in honor of the passengers of Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville during the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Following the ceremony, the $1.2 billion ship will head to its home port in San Diego.

 

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The latest round of winter storms is bringing subzero temperatures to the Midwest and Northeast, freezing weather to the South, and too much of a good thing to Southern California. Some people in Los Angeles County have been evacuated because of the threat of flash floods today and tomorrow.

 

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House lawmakers are considering a bill to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit. The measure introduced Thursday by New York Democrat Charles Rangel would raise Tax Credit aid to single people and raise income limits for those without children.

 

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Legislation aimed at expanding healthcare and education programs for veterans is being blocked by Republicans in the Senate. The bill got bogged down when Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell tried to attach legislation calling for possible new sanctions against Iran.

 

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Twitter is abuzz with reports about a colorful meteor, and the American Meteor Society is getting lots of calls about the sighting. More than 200 reports started coming in Thursday evening about a fireball dropping vertically out of the sky from people in several Mid-Atlantic states.

 

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Mandatory evacuations are in place for two Los Angeles foothills communities ravaged by a recent wildfire due to possible flooding and mudslides from a second heavy rainstorm. Forecasters say some areas could get from a half-inch to an inch of rain per hour from the storm moving into the region.

 

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A northern California high school is in the clear over its controversial decision to make some students turn their American flag shirts inside out on Cinco de Mayo. A federal appeals court says the school did not violate the students' constitutional rights. Administrators at Live Oak High School in the San Jose suburb of Morgan Hill feared the shirts would incite violence with Hispanic students celebrating the Mexican holiday.

 

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Kentucky is being ordered to recognize same-sex couples who were married outside the state. A federal judge's ruling says the state's efforts to deny equal recognition and benefits to legally married same-sex couples violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Thursday's ruling comes one day after a federal judge ruled that Texas' ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.  

 

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A trial date is set for the accused gunman in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting. Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour scheduled the trial to begin October 14. That would be the first day for about six-thousand prospective jurors who are set to be summoned to show up in court.

 

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President Obama's nominee for surgeon general is clearing a hurdle in the Senate. A Senate committee on Thursday voted to confirm Harvard physician Vivek Murthy as the president's choice. Murthy is best known for founding Doctors for America and is drawing praise from many public health advocates.

 

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Yahoo is denying a report that says a British intelligence agency collected and stored webcam images from millions of the Internet company's users. The "Guardian" says the information is based on documents provided by National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden.  

 

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Former NFL star Darren Sharper is now facing rape charges in two states, and more could be on the way. Sharper turned himself in to police in Los Angeles Thursday evening. Earlier in the day, the district attorney's office in New Orleans said Shaper and another man, Erik Nunez, each face two counts of rape.

 

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Autographed copies of Adolf Hitler's manifesto "Mein Kampf" end up fetching close to $65,000 at a Los Angeles auction. The two-volume signed set of books went under the hammer yesterday. They'd been inscribed as Christmas gifts to an officer in the German SS and a participant in Hitler's 1923 Munich coup.

 

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The jury will continue deliberating later on this morning in the Kerry Kennedy drugged driving trial. In closing arguments Thursday, the defense presented a medical journal article supporting the argument that users of the drug zolpidem often don't recognize their impaired state.

 

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Did you know you can name a crater on Mars for as little as five bucks? The space-funding company Uwingu.com is selling the privilege of naming one of the Red Planet's half-million unnamed craters.

 

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More wedding bells are ringing in Hollywood. E! News says Mila Kunis was seen sporting a diamond on her ring finger Thursday, and sources say she and Ashton Kutcher are indeed planning a trip down the aisle. Kutcher and Kunis – who played a TV couple on "That '70s Show" – have been dating in real life for nearly two years.

 

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Smartphones can almost do it all, but millions of Americans still aren't ditching their landlines. A new survey finds that 17 percent of Americans list the landline as a technology that would be very hard to give up. The Pew Internet and American Life Project questioned people to learn how Americans view and use technology.

 

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There are several ways to watch the Oscars this year. ABC will offer a live stream of the Academy Awards for the first time ever this Sunday, March 2. The move will present five different ways to watch the ceremony - on the ABC network – on Oscar.com; on ABC.com; WatchABC.com; and the ABC Watch app.

 

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Smoking is a major turnoff in the dating world. A new poll conducted by Pfizer and Match.com says nine out of ten respondents said they would prefer to date someone who doesn't smoke. Fifty-seven percent said smoking is a dealbreaker and would never date someone who did so regularly, and more than three-quarters said it's unpleasant to kiss someone after they've had a cigarette. Most cited concerns about their potential partner's long-term health, and others said it was the smell of the habit they find unattractive. When asked which actions are the most unacceptable on a first date, 51 percent said going on a smoke break. It ranked higher on the list above checking one's phone and even being late.

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A California man is reportedly suing McDonald's over an insufficient amount of napkins. TMZ says Webster Lucas stopped after he ordered a Quarter Pounder Deluxe he was given only one napkin. When he asked for more, he claims he was rudely turned away by the manager. Lucas, who is black, says things eventually got racist. In his lawsuit he says he was unable to work because of the "undue mental anguish" he suffered after the napkin incident. He's now suing McDonald's for one-point-five-million dollars.

 

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Who's your pick to win an Academy Award? The Oscars are coming up on Sunday, and participants in a CBS News poll are favoring Matthew McConaughey for the Best Actor prize. The "Dallas Buyers Club" star has 36-percent of the vote -- and a healthy lead over Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Wolf of Wall Street," who's getting nods from 22 percent. Eighteen-percent feel Bruce Dern deserves the honor for his work in "Nebraska." Chiwetel Ejiofor from "12 Years A Slave" and Christian Bale from "American Hustle" are each getting nods from fewer than 15percent. The competition is much tighter in the Best Actress poll. "Blue Jasmine" star Cate Blanchett leads the list with support from 25 percent. But 23 percent feel Judi Dench earned the honor with her performance in "Philomena." She's just edging out "Gravity" star Sandra Bullock, who's drawing a nod from 22 percent. Twenty-percent like Amy Adams' in "American Hustle" the best. Only Meryl Streep -- who holds the record for the most Best Actress nominations -- doesn't appear to have made much of an impression. Just ten-percent believe she should get the award for "August: Osage County."

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