Today's News - Thursday, March 13, 2014

In Cambria County Court yesterday, 32-year-old Belinda Hancock waived charges to trial including kidnapping and interfering with the custody of a child. Hancock is accused of taking her 3-year-old god-daughter from Johnstown and moving to Washington, DC. US Marshals arrested her there in January. The child, Kayada Martin is now in the custody of her grandmother. Hancock’s public defender says she had the authority from the parents to have the child.

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Indiana Borough police are looking for the man who robbed First Commonwealth Bank on Philadelphia Street around 10:30 Wednesday morning. The suspect is described as white, thin and about 45 years of age. He walked around the counter in a threatening manner and demanded money from a teller who gave him some small bills.

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Representatives of Penelec and the union representing about 140 locked out workers returned to the bargaining table yesterday, but they tell the “Altoona Mirror” no agreement was reached. This was the fifth session with a federal mediator in Pittsburgh since the lock out began in November. Both sides believe some progress was made and more talks are planned.

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Mount Aloysius College is offering assistance to individuals who need help with their tax returns. For the past five years, the school’s Student Accounting Society has been holding the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Accounting majors and masters of business administration students offer free tax return preparation and free electronic filing to those who qualify – families earning $50,000 or less. To schedule an appointment, call 886-63-65.

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Thirty-four-year-old Chad Heinlein, of Johnstown, pleaded guilty to charges of harassment in Cambria County Court yesterday. Police say he entered the home of a Daisytown woman earlier this month while she slept, then entered her bedroom and looked at her cell phone to discover if she was communicating with other men. The woman awoke and struck Heinlein a few times before he fled. Charges of burglary, criminal trespass and stalking were dropped. Heinlein is in the Cambria County Prison.

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Jerry Sandusky's wife, Dottie, is finally speaking out, telling Matt Lauer of NBC’s Today show that she still believes her husband is innocent and the alleged victims were manipulated by lawyers and motivated by money. She says she visits her husband once a week in jail and that he is still a happy person who is hopeful he will be allowed out on appeal. Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years.

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Another day and still no sign of that missing Malaysian airliner. The search continues, but so far no lead has panned out. Malaysian authorities say no traces of Flight 370 have been found at the site where Chinese satellite images suggested there could be wreckage.

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Two people are dead after a chaotic scene outside a South by Southwest festival venue in Austin, Texas. Police say nearly two dozen were hospitalized after a car slammed into a crowd early this morning. While there's been no official word on what caused the accident, the driver has reportedly been arrested.

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Attorney General Eric Holder is trying to shorten jail time for federal drug offenders. Holder is announcing his support for a proposal that would knock about a year off prison sentences for many drug law violators, according to an unnamed Justice Department official. He plans to announce at today's meeting of the U.S. Sentencing Commission that he's backing a recommendation the panel made earlier this year.

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The owners of General Motors vehicles with faulty ignition switches will be offered a rebate. GM says a $500 rebate will be available for the purchase or lease of any 2013 through 2015 vehicle. The automaker says it will not purchase the vehicles involved as a remedy to the problem.

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GM says now that it knew of ignition switch problems in more than one and a-half-million vehicles in 2001. That's three years earlier than the automaker previously had reported. GM says the switch problem has been connected with at least 34 crashes and is linked to at least 12 deaths.

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The Illinois Department of Corrections is facing a lawsuit over a policy that keeps some inmates behind bars after their parole date. The lawsuit claims the "turnaround" policy unfairly targets sex offenders. In fact, more than a-thousand-of the eleven-hundred inmates who were turned around last year had been locked up for sex crimes.

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Four people are now dead in Harlem, New York following Wednesday's massive gas explosion and building collapse. The blast leveled two buildings and scattered debris onto the roadway and nearby elevated railroad tracks.

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The National Security Agency has reportedly been posing as Facebook to infect user computers. A report released Wednesday by "The Intercept" shows the agency has used automated systems to spread malware since 2010. Up to 100,000 malware "implants" may have contaminated computers worldwide. The report cited documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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President Obama is expected to sign an executive order this week expanding overtime opportunities for more U.S. workers. The President is expected to direct the Labor Department to issue new rules requiring overtime pay for several million workers who are classified as "executive or professional employees."

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The New Jersey teen who sued her parents for financial support is now back home with her family. No word on what brought on the reconciliation, but 18-year-old Rachel Canning's family lawyer says her return home was not contingent on any monetary or other considerations. The lawsuit, in which the young Canning claims her parents kicked her out and that they should pay for her college education, is still pending.

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As many as 50,000 customers in the Washington, DC area are without power as high winds pound the region. Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia reported wind gusts of up 61 miles-per-hour. The weather system is bringing with it frigid temperatures as wind chills are in the 20s.

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A Dallas museum is announcing the discovery of a pygmy Tyrannosaurus Rex. Officials at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science say a fossil of the tiny T-Rex was originally found north of Fairbanks, Alaska in 2006, but scientists didn't start examining it until last year.

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Kobe Bryant will be keeping the bench warm for the rest of the season. The Los Angeles Lakers announced Wednesday that due to the fractured knee Bryant suffered a couple of months ago, he will not be back on the court for the remainder of the season.

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Pope Francis is leaving behind a year of soaring popularity and magazine covers. The Pope marks the first anniversary of his papacy today amid expectations of change in the Roman Catholic Church. The church's agenda for the coming year is hinged on family and social issues, including divorce, homosexuality and contraception.

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It turns out the five second rule is much more than schoolyard superstition. British researchers found that food has much less bacteria when picked up right away, compared to food that's left on the floor longer. Their study measured common bacteria found on toast, pasta, cookies, ham, dried fruit, and a sticky dessert left on floors that were carpeted, tiled, and covered with laminate.

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Tech-savvy coffee lovers are getting more options on their Starbucks app. The coffee chain is adding a tip option next week. The update will give users the option to leave baristas a tip ranging from 50 cents to $2.