Today's News - Thursday, December 19, 2013

29-year-old Michael Hellams of Johnstown is accused of causing burns to a 3-year-old boy with scalding water and a cigarette lighter. He waived his preliminary hearing yesterday. Hellams’ public defender says the boy scalded himself after he turned the hot water on in the bathtub. Hellams remains in the Cambria County Prison on $65,000 bond.

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Earlier this month, Cambria County Commissioners said the county is $13 million in debt, and they voted to take out a $5 million loan to help pay down some bills. Today, commissioners will introduce the 2014 budget proposal.

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In Cambria County Court yesterday, 51-year-old Gregory Conzo of Summerhill Township pleaded guilty to third degree murder for beating his girlfriend’s son, 37-year-old Michael Pcola of Beaverdale, with a baseball bat in November of last year. Pcola died two days later. Conzo claims he was acting in self-defense and that both men were drunk. Conzo faces 10 to 40 years in jail when he’s sentenced January 21.

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State and Johnstown drug agents served a warrant at a home on Iolite Avenue in the Woodvale section of town Wednesday morning and seized $50 thousand worth of heroin along with $2,000 in cash and stolen guns. Eric Westover and Marchel Robinson were taken into custody and are facing numerous charges.

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State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is pushing to have the state’s minimum wage raised. He talked about the issue yesterday saying it is the right thing to do both morally and politically. DePasquale supports President Obama’s recommendation that minimum wage should go from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

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In Harrisburg yesterday, Governor Tom Corbett signed ten bills aimed at making improvements to Pennsylvania’s child protection laws. The bills establish the offense of luring a child into a vehicle or structure and broaden the definition of perpetrator to include employees or volunteers who have regular contact with children. Corbett says this legislation will better equip our communities to protect children, and enhance the safety and security of the commonwealth’s children.

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Governor Tom Corbett is supporting legislation that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Corbett announced yesterday that federal law does not cover this type of discrimination and says he would like to convince the Legislature to pass the bill. Only 17 states and Washington, D.C., have such anti-discrimination laws.

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The grand jury testimony of former Penn State counsel Cynthia Baldwin has finally been released and it will help the judge decide if charges should be dropped against former Penn State administrators Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley. They claim they thought she was representing them when they testified before the grand jury in the Jerry Sandusky case, but according to the transcripts, a judge asked Baldwin whom she represented and she answered, “The university.” During his testimony, Spanier told the prosecutor Frank Fina that Baldwin was his counsel. According to PennLive, Baldwin claims she tried to get the administrators to cooperate with the Attorney General’s request for information, but they gave her no information.

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More calls today for limits on surveillance by the National Security Agency. A White House-appointed review board is calling for more oversight and tighter regulation but is not calling for an end to NSA eavesdropping, which the administration views as an important counterterrorism tool.

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Rumors are flying about a possible presidential run for California Governor Jerry Brown. Supporters are said to be rallying around the governor with hopes he will make a fourth run at the Oval Office. Political experts say they don't think Brown will actually toss his hat in the ring, but the governor hasn't entirely ruled it out.

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The controversy over the arrest and subsequent treatment of an Indian diplomat does not appear to be going away anytime soon. Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed regret to India over the treatment of Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York. He's expected to talk with that country's external affairs minister about the matter later today.

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An American convicted of trying to sell weapons to people he thought were Taliban militants is on his way to prison for 25 years. Oded Orbach was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan. The 55-year-old Chicago area resident and another U.S. citizen, a former Army translator, were found guilty last April.

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Harvard is being slapped with a $24,000 fine for animal welfare violations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says its treatment of primates at its research facilities led to the death of four monkeys in the past two years.

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A federal judge says Facebook and dozens of banks can be sued for misleading investors before the social network's initial public offering. The decision was made public Wednesday. Judge Robert Sweet in Manhattan said investors could sue Facebook for not disclosing internal projections on possible reductions in future revenue. -0- A nationwide outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella is putting victims in the hospital at twice the rate expected. The outbreak that has sickened more than 389 people in 23 states over the past three months has been linked to Foster Farms brand chicken.

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Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling for an investigation into the marketing practices of e-cigarette companies. Blumenthal and several of his Senate colleagues are calling for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate allegations that the companies are marketing their products to children.

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Beyonce has reportedly sold over one-million copies of her self-titled album. According to "The Huffington Post," the millionth sale of "Beyonce" came in on iTunes yesterday morning. The number is expected to keep growing.

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Barbara Walters is naming Hillary Clinton 2013's "Most Fascinating" person. The announcement was made on her annual "Ten Most Fascinating People" special on ABC-TV. Clinton wouldn't throw her name into the running for the 2016 presidential race. However, She explains that having a female president matters because women make up half the population and play such an important role in society.

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A&E is putting "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson on indefinite hiatus. The move comes as a result of Robertson's graphic anti-gay comments in recent interview with "GQ" magazine. In a statement released Wednesday, the cable network said it was "extremely disappointed to have read" Robertson's comments in the magazine. A&E says his remarks are based on his own personal beliefs and in no way reflect those of A&E Networks.

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Efforts are underway to rename the street where Paul Walker was killed after the "Fast & Furious" actor. An online petition calls for Hercules Way in Valencia, California to be renamed "Walker-Rodas Memorial Way" in remembrance of Walker and his friend Roger Rodas. The pair were killed on November 30th when the Porsche GT they were in struck a light pole on Hercules Way and burst into flames.

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