Today's News - Monday, July 21, 2014

A 22-year-old Somerset County man was killed when he was hit by a train early Sunday morning. Authorities say Christopher Reed from the Windber area was walking along the tracks in Seward when he was hit by a Norfolk Southern train heading east. Reed died at the scene. An autopsy is scheduled today.

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The Saint Francis University community is mourning the death of former longtime president, The Very Rev. Father Christian Oravec. Oravec passed away on Saturday at the age of 77. He was president of the Loretto College for 27 years, retiring in 2004.

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Despite its large percentage of people over the age of 65, pennsylvania is not a great state to grow old in. A recent report released by aarp ranked the state 42nd overall and 46th in relation to access and cost of long-term care. Pennsylvania also came in near the bottom of several other categories, including quality of care and support for family caregivers.

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U.S. House members from Pennsylvania and their staff accepted 41 privately paid trips so far this year, ranging from $20 thousand in business-class airline tickets to Japan for Representative Charlie Dent and his wife to $300-a-night hotel rooms for congressional staff at a luxurious Las Vegas casino resort. Privately funded travel is not prohibited, but House members must get ethics committee approval before the trip and file detailed information – including costs – within 15 days of returning. The increase in privately funded travel by members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation, from 17 in 2008 to 47 in 2013, tracks a steady increase in the House as a whole, from 1,012 in 2008 to 1,685 last year. In the Senate, Senator Pat Toomey’s office had taken 14 trips in 2013 and 2014 worth roughly $12 thousand while Bob Casey’s office had taken two at a cost of $1,100.

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On Wednesday, the speed limit on 100 miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is going up to 70 miles per hour. Officials say the change is from the Blue Mountain interchange near Shippensburg to the Morgantown interchange south of Reading. Some other speed changes will be announced next week.

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Secretary of State John Kerry says Russia supplied the missile system that most likely brought down a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine. Kerry told CNN's "State of the Union" Russia moved the system into Ukraine some time ago. He also said the U.S. and other nations are calling for a full investigation of the crash.

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The head of the UN is condemning the killing of dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Israel's shelling on Sunday an "atrocious action" and urged an end to the fighting.

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Texas is reportedly going to send a thousand National Guard troops to the state's border with Mexico. McAllen state Senator Juan Hinojosa tells "The Monitor" that Governor Rick Perry will make the announcement this afternoon in Austin. He accuses Perry of trying to politicize the issue to make a point. -0- President Obama is set to roll out a major expansion of his My Brother's Keeper initiative. Today in Washington, Obama will announce $104 million in private and public partnerships to help young minority men with programs from early childhood education to college.

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R. J. Reynolds is promising to appeal after the tobacco giant lost a case in Florida and was ordered to pay more than $23 billion in damages. The punitive damages were awarded in a suit filed by Cynthia Robinson whose late husband was 36-years-old when he died from lung cancer.

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Ukrainian officials are reporting the discovery of more than 250 bodies and dozens of body fragments where a Malaysian airliner crashed last week. A Ukrainian government committee also says pro-Russia separatists are blocking a train carrying the remains of almost 200 victims of last Thursday's crash.

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The Palestinian death toll is going up as Israeli forces continue shelling the Gaza Strip. A woman was killed Monday when Israeli tanks shelled heavily-fortified militant targets. Palestinian health officials say close to 450 people have died in the nearly two-week military offensive and many were civilians. Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed Sunday, including two with dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship.

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Four emergency responders are being taken off 911 duty as investigators look into their response to a man who died after a New York policeman put him in chokehold. Eric Garner died Thursday after getting into an argument with police. Video from a bystander showed a police officer putting Garner in a chokehold, which is against NYPD policy.

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A GOP lawmaker claims President Obama is holding migrant Central American children for ransom. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz told "Fox News Sunday" the President is making false promises of amnesty to migrant children.

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Fire crews are starting to make progress against the giant Carlton Complex wildfire in north-central Washington state. The fire has blackened nearly 350 square miles of parched timber and grassland in just one week's time while destroying around 150 homes. About 13-hundred firefighters battling the massive blaze managed to stop the flames from spreading any further by early Sunday.

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Medical marijuana laws in Illinois are changing. Governor Pat Quinn has signed into law a bill that allows kids with epilepsy to use marijuana to ease their symptoms. The law takes effect in January and would allow children who suffer from seizures to be treated with non-smokable forms of cannabis.

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Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe says he still plans to file a lawsuit against his former team. Kluwe accused special teams coach Mike Priefer of making anti-gay comments and claims the team let him go following the allegations. At the end of last week, the Vikings released a shortened version of their investigation into the comments.

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Hollywood is mourning actor James Garner, who died Saturday night at the age of 86. Garner played the role of Bret Maverick in the late 1950s Western TV series "Maverick" and then co-starred alongside Mel Gibson in the movie "Maverick" in 1994. He also played private investigator Jim Rockford in the popular 1970s TV show "The Rockford Files."

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"The Purge: Anarchy" couldn't remove "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" from the top spot on the weekend box office list. "Apes" remains the number one film for a second weekend, bringing in another $36 million. "The Purge" follows at number two with $28.4 million in receipts. "Planes: Fire & Rescue" is flying into third place, making $18 million in its opening weekend.

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Fox is confirming that there are only 13 more episodes left of "Glee." "E! News" says the network offered an explanation for the condensed final season during Sunday's TCA summer press tour. Chairman and CEO Peter Rice says it wants "Glee" to "go out in a way that celebrates it," and that it was mutually agreed that shortening its final run would be the best way to bring the series to a close.

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