Today's News - Monday, October 21, 2013

Five people are dead in a crash Saturday in Franklin County, near the Maryland border. Police say 68-year-old Marjorie Smith of Johnstown was one of those killed when the SUV she was riding in crossed the center line and struck a motorcycle. The vehicle was then broadsided by another bike. Smith’s husband, Gordon, is in a Hagerstown hospital, but is expected to survive. The other victims are David and Michelle Russell of Mount Joy, Douglas Hoffer Jr. of Quarryville and Colleen Nesbitt of Gap, Penn.

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Johnstown Police are investigating an attempted armed robbery that happened Saturday night on Fairfield Avenue in the West End section of Johnstown. The suspect approached another man, shot at him and hit him with his gun. The victim wasn't injured, and did not have any money to give the thief.

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Flames tore through a house on Howell Street in Gallitzin Borough Sunday night. Nearly a dozen fire departments were called in to battle the blaze. Everyone made it out okay. No word on the cause.

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State police at Ebensburg will take part in “Operation Safe Stop” this week to make sure motorists know the dangers of passing stopped school buses. During National School Bus Safety Week, troopers will patrol roadways, look for violations by riding on buses, escort school buses and conduct stationary patrols near bus stops. Motorists are reminded that passing a stopped school bus with the red signal lights activated and the side stop-signal arm extended will result in 5 points on your license, a $250 fine and a 60-day suspension of driving privileges.

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Starting today, those seeking or claiming unemployment benefits over the telephone will have to deal with a change. The state department of labor and industry says under the new system anyone calling the first two days of the week will be asked to call on either Monday or Tuesday based on the last digit of their Social Security number, whether it is odd or even.Oofficials think the change will reduce wait time. Call centers will not change how they operate on Wednesday through Friday.

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Gas prices are continuing a downward trend. According to the latest Lundberg Survey, the lower cost of crude is driving the price down and the national average is now around $3.36 a gallon, 22-cents lower than it was six weeks ago.

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President Obama is expected to address problems with this month's launch of the Affordable Care Act website in a White House event later today. On Sunday, the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged in a blog post that millions of Americans have had trouble accessing the HeathCare.gov website.

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Bad news for hundreds of thousands of commuters. The Bay Area Rapid Transit strike continues in California. A BART spokeswoman said Sunday the BART Board of Directors will hold a special meeting later on today. However, no official talks between the two sides are scheduled at the present time

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Gay couples are tying the knot for the first time ever in New Jersey this morning. Just after the stroke of midnight Eastern time, Newark Mayor and U.S. Senator elect Cory Booker officiated several same-sex weddings. A protester got escorted out by police after interrupting the weddings by saying “it's unlawful in the eyes of God.”

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A federal housing regulator wants Bank of America to pay at least six-billion dollars to settle claims the bank sold faulty mortgage bonds to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The government claims B of A and its Countrywide home lending unit generated thousands of unsound mortgage loans and sold them to Fannie and Freddie. A person with direct knowledge of settlement talks reportedly told the “Financial Times” about the Federal Housing Finance Agency's position.

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Comedy heavyweights dropped into the nation’s capital on Sunday, gathering to honor Carol Burnett as the recipient of this year's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. According to “USA Today,” the 80-year-old accepted the award at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, joking that “this was a long time coming.” The tribute is set to air in full on PBS on November 24th. -0- The 40-foot rubber duck that has been floating at the Point in Pittsburgh is gone. Despite an online petition to keep the duck, it has been taken down and is now in storage. Officials say the duck could make a return someday but contractual terms with the artist will keep it in storage until at least January. More than a million people have visited the duck since it was set afloat in September.

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A group in Cleveland is burning up the records books. According to the “Cleveland Plain Dealer,” over the weekend 21 people set themselves on fire along the Cuyahoga River for 32 seconds to set a Guinness World Record. The flame-filled event was all for a good cause since it benefited the Cleveland Foodbank and Brick by Brick – a nonprofit that brings relief to impoverished women and children in South Africa.

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Usher is taking a stand against the high school dropout epidemic in an upcoming documentary. According to the “Hollywood Reporter,” the R&B superstar has signed on to executive produce the film “Undroppable.” Apparently, Justin Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun, introduced Usher to the project. Scooter says he decided to introduce Usher to the film because he knew the singer was “passionate about the issue of education.” Directed by Jason Pollock, “Undroppable” is set to hit theaters next year.

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