Today's News - Friday, January 3, 2014

A Cambria County man is in jail on $100,000 bond, charged with raping and sexually assaulting a mentally disabled 16-year-old girl at his Beaverdale home. Summerhill Township police tell WJAC they have a written confession from DAVID CARMAN. The abuse had reportedly been going on since about April of last year and there were approximately 10 assaults.

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“The Tribune-Democrat” reports that two skiers were taken by medical helicopter to hospitals on New Year’s day after colliding on a ski slope at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. Their injuries were not believed to be life threatening, but one of the skiers had a prior concussion within the last year. No word on their conditions.

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The game commission tells WJAC that a deer killed along Interstate 99 in Bedford County in November tested positive for chronic wasting disease. This is the fourth case in the state since the disease was first seen in 2012. The sick deer was harvested within the boundaries of one of Pennsylvania's two disease management areas covering 900-square miles in Bedford, Blair, Cambria and Huntingdon counties. Those who hunt in that area are asked to dispose of the possibly infected deer parts, including the brain and spinal column, but the meat harvested from the deer is fine to eat. If you want to have a deer tested, contact the Department of Agriculture.

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 The 98TH Pennsylvania State Farm Show opens tomorrow in Harrisburg and continues through January 11th. A record high $585,000 people attended last year’s event and this is the nation’s largest free indoor agricultural exhibition under one roof, with 24 acres of space. This year’s show also features a butter sculpture weighing almost 1,000 pounds. It celebrates the 60th anniversary of the milkshake and honors the state’s ag history and 7,000 plus dairy farm families.

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State health officials say confirmed flu cases in Blair County have climbed to 189 as of the last full week of December. Blair County leads the state, but most surrounding counties also reported an increase in the number of cases. Cambria is at 66 cases, Somerset has 32, Indiana is at 44 and Bedford County has 47 flu cases. There are actually more cases of influenza, because the state only counts lab-confirmed cases.

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Longtime Penn State defensive line Coach Larry Johnson will be interim head coach while the search is underway for Bill O’Brien’s replacement. According to a Penn State news release, Johnson is the point of contact for current players and recruiting. Yesterday, several current and former players used social media encouraging the university to give Johnson the job. Director of athletics Dave Joyner says Johnson will be granted an interview, however, it is considered unlikely that he will be hired.

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A hearing to determine the future of the defamation lawsuit filed by former Penn State president Graham Spanier will be held Tuesday at the Centre County Courthouse. Spanier wants to delay the suit against former FBI director Louis Freeh until the criminal case is resolved against Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.

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Traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike is about to get more expensive. A toll increase of 12 percent for cash-paying customers and two percent for EZ-Pass users will take effect Sunday. This is the sixth year in a row that tolls are increasing.

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More than 100 million people are in the path of a powerful Nor'easter this morning.  It's slamming 22 states prompting the cancellation of classes in dozens of school districts.  Blizzard warnings are in effect for New York's Long Island, Cape Cod and the North and South Shores of Massachusetts, and communities along the coast of Maine.

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Wicked winter weather on the East Coast is wrecking travel plans for people trying to get to and from parts of the West Coast.  Officials at Los Angeles International Airport say over five-thousand passengers have had their flights canceled.  The storm system also grounded hundreds of flights in New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.

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The violence in South Sudan is prompting the U.S. Embassy to evacuate additional staff from that country today.  More than a thousand people have been killed in three weeks of clashes between rebels and government troops in the capital of Juba.

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A new study out of Oregon raises questions about whether the nation's newly insured will go to the emergency room less often and instead visit their primary care physician.  That's a basic assumption of the Affordable Care Act as one way to reduce healthcare costs.  However, the new study published in the journal "Science" shows those with new coverage made 40 percent more visits to the ER than people with no insurance during their first 18 months of being covered. 

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The White House is keeping pressure on Congress to extend longterm unemployment benefits.  Jobless aid for roughly one-point-three million Americans expired Saturday.  Chief White House economist Gene Sperling told CNBC that the expiration of the longterm assistance will hurt the national economy.  The Senate will take a vote Monday on extending the benefits retroactively.  

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor expects to hear from the federal government today regarding her temporary healthcare law exemption to a group of Catholic nuns.  On Tuesday, Sotomayor granted the exemption that shields the nuns from having to comply with a part of the law that requires providing contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans. 

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The ongoing legal battle over a 13-year-old California girl who's been declared brain dead is heading to court in Oakland today.  A judge is scheduled to meet with attorneys for Children's Hospital Oakland and the family of Jahi McMath. 

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Authorities are still searching for a motive in the killing of a Northern California priest.  Humboldt County sheriff's deputies arrested Gary Bullock yesterday for the murder of Reverend Eric Freed.  The priest's body was found on New Year's Day inside St. Bernard Church.  Police say they found evidence of forced entry and a struggle but still don't know why Freed was targeted.

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Rising mortgage rates and home prices are squeezing Americans who want to buy homes.  The average for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is now 4.53 percent.  That's up from last week's 4.48 percent average and the highest since September, according to Freddie Mac.

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General Mills is no longer using genetically modified ingredients in Cheerios.  The company says it's changing the sources of ingredients such as the sugar in its popular cereal.  The oats in Cheerios have never contained any genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. 

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NASA is responding to the controversy surrounding Beyoncé's use of audio from the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster on her song "XO."  The six-second clip features the voice of retired NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt reporting a "major malfunction" after the shuttle exploded.  In a statement obtained by the "Hollywood Reporter," NASA says the Challenger accident "is a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized." 

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Former NFL punter Chris Kluwe says he was released by the Minnesota Vikings for his outspoken support of gay marriage.  Kluwe tells "Deadspin" that he was also the victim of homophobic comments by Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.  Kluwe tells ESPN.com that he didn't approach other team officials, the NFL or the Players' Association about the matter because he feared it might end his career.

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For a full year, a young Seattle woman, named Beautiful Existence, decided to eat all her meals at Starbucks.  She documented the experience on her blog called For1yearofmylife.com.  According to the "Los Angles Times," Existence claims to have shed some pounds and spent a total of seven-thousand dollars at the coffee shop over the course of her experiment.

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Most people admit they'll likely falter with their New Year's resolutions.  Just 12 percent of the respondents in Red Bull's Zero Regrets poll say they have no doubt that they'll follow through with the vows they've made for 2014.  However, 42 percent of the men along with 39 percent of the women would put the odds of their success at better than three-to-one.  But when it comes to motivation, men and women draw from different sources.  Just a third of the guys but 55 percent of the women say the satisfaction of achieving their goal is all they need to keep them on track.  Meanwhile, 27 percent of the men are driven by a monetary award, and 26 percent of the guys rely on encouragement from their significant other.  By comparison, financial gain only keeps 15 percent of women from abandoning their resolutions, and just 19 percent depend on support from their spouse.

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