Today's News - Halloween, October 31, 2013

Central Cambria School District officials confirmed a bomb threat was found written in a boys’ bathroom at the high school in Ebensburg yesterday. After students were dismissed for the day, a bomb sniffing dog searched the building and found nothing. District officials plan to review surveillance video in hopes of tracking down the person responsible.

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Two Johnstown men are behind bars, charged with beating and robbing a man of $550. The victim told police he was walking along Coleman Avenue in the Moxham section of the city Monday when 18-year-old Rahfeale Hinton and 20-year-old Brandon Zepeda jumped him. When officers went to Zepeda’s house, he ran and was found hiding in a garage in the 700 block of Grove Avenue, near where Hinton lives. Both suspects have confessed.

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Five people have pleaded guilty to running a drug ring between Windber and Roaring Spring. Accused kingpin Corey Harley of Waynesboro was the first sentenced yesterday in Johnstown’s Federal Court. He received a six-year sentence for distributing more than 500 grams of cocaine in 2011 and 12. Joseph Castro of Roaring Spring was sentenced to 5 to 10 years in a state prison. No word when the others will be sentenced.

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“The Altoona Mirror” says Blair County Judge Jolene Kopriva has given Altoona Attorney Richard Serbin another six months to work toward a settlement with five young men who claim they were molested by Franciscan Friar Stephen Baker while students at Johnstown’s Bishop McCort High School. Earlier this month, Altoona/Johnstown Bishop Mark Bartchak issued a statement saying the parties believe it would serve everyone’s interest to devote time and resources to resolving the claims as opposed to engaging in formal litigation. Quite a few former students have made allegations against Brother Stephen who committed suicide after the news broke that he had settled out of court with other victims in Ohio.

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As a result of the Affordable Care Act., One of Pennsylvania's largest insurance companies plans to discontinue 180 thousand individual health plans in our part of the state. Highmark tells WTAJ 140 thousand will lose their coverage at the end of next year. They'll pay more under the federal plan because they'll be required to buy more extensive coverage than they now have. Another 40 thousand people with individual health plans will lose their coverage at the end of this year. Highmark says they've been paying high premiums because of their medical conditions, but will get cheaper plans through the Affordable Care Act.

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Penn State’s Board of Trustees planned to hold a meeting tomorrow at University Park, apparently to announce a new president, but that meeting has now been delayed indefinitely. Officials say they want more time to consider and evaluate candidates. The Board will meet in executive session tomorrow, but that meeting is not open to the public.

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The NSA has reportedly tapped directly into communication links used by Yahoo and Google. The “Washington Post” reports that the agency and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters are mining vast amounts of data. The report is based on secret NSA documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.

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President Obama’s approval rating is sinking. A new NBC News-“Wall Street Journal” poll finds Obama’s job performance rating at 42-percent, down five points from earlier this month. That’s an all-time low for Obama. Pollsters say public frustration with Washington overall continues to grow.

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Americans are divided over whether problems with the HealthCare.Gov website can be solved. A new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll shows 37 percent of respondents think the woes are short-term technical problems that will be fixed. Thirty-one percent say the problems indicate long-term issues with the law’s design that cannot be corrected.

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A group of Democratic senators will issue a new report today on the impact of the budget crisis and federal government shutdown. The senators say the report will demonstrate that uncertainty caused by “budgeting by crisis” has, so far, cost the economy 900 thousand jobs and cut growth by 12-percent.

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A small group of protesters demonstrated at Barneys in Manhattan, as the state attorney general investigates whether the retailer and Macy's discriminate against African-American shoppers. About two dozen demonstrators gathered yesterday outside Barneys.

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New York is the first big city in America to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. The City Council passed a bill Wednesday banning people under 21 from buying cigarettes and other tobacco products. The bill includes electronic cigarettes which critics consider a gateway to smoking tobacco.

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Facebook has a lot to like today. The social media giant is reporting its quarterly revenue jumped 60 percent to just over $2 billion. The firm's earned net income in the three months ended September 30th was $425 million, or 17 cents a share. The numbers exceed expectations. Facebook also reported that the number of monthly active users on the service increased by about 40-million since June to just short of one-point-two billion.

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The “San Francisco Chronicle” is the latest organization to drop the Redskins nickname. “NBC Sports” says the newspaper has joined the “Kansas City Star,” “Slate” and Peter King of “Sports Illustrated,” who’ve decided to no longer print the term “Redskins.”

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Rumors are surfacing about possible plot lines for the sixth and final season of Fox’s “Glee.” A source is telling “E! News” that creator Ryan Murphy is considering moving one of the lead characters Kurt, played by Chris Colfer, to Russia.

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A new survey from Fandango.com finds Katniss, the lead character from the “Hunger Games” franchise, is the most popular choice for movie-inspired Halloween costumes this year. The bow-and-arrow carrying heroine played by Jennifer Lawrence is the favorite for 41 percent of women. Thor, the superhero recently popularized by the portrayal of Chris Hemsworth, is the top choice for men.

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