Today's News - Thursday, March 6, 2014

The City of Johnstown has added three officers to its police department. According to The Tribune-Democrat, the new force members took their oaths yesterday at a city council meeting. One replaced an officer who recently left the force, the other two are filling open positions. The city was able to fund the new positions by increasing the earned income tax credit in the 2014 budget from 1.3 percent to 1.5 percent.

 

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Fifty-eight-year-old William Walter Walters, of West Union, Ohio, was sentenced in Somerset County Court Wednesday on two counts of indecent assault. Walters was accused of sexually assaulting a child beginning when she was just five years old in 2001. The abuse continued until 2004 and took place in Somerset Borough and Stoystown. He’ll serve 1- to 4-years in state prison.

 

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In January of last year, a 7-year-old girl was found walking alone in clothes unsuitable for the weather. Now her father, 47-year-old Clyde Fieg, of Somerset, has been sentenced to two years probation and fined $300 for endangering the welfare of a child. A motorist found the child and drove her to school, which was not even in session that day. Fieg said he left her at the bus stop and thought she had been picked up.

 

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Pennsylvania officials are looking into a provision in the state's new transportation funding plan that allows counties to raise their own money for infrastructure repairs. Under the provision, counties would be able to charge a yearly fee of $5 on all registered vehicles.

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Governor Tom Corbett announced yesterday that site selection magazine, a publication specializing in the corporate real estate and economic development field, has ranked Pennsylvania as the top state in the northeast region for new corporate facilities in 2013. Pennsylvania has more successful projects than all other eight northeast states combined. For the third year in a row, Pennsylvania also broke the top five nationally, ranking fourth nationwide for new or expanded corporate facilities last year.

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The head of the state National Guard is speaking out about proposed cuts to military forces. Major General Wesley Craig recently had a meeting with National Guard officials in Washington about the 15-hundred Pennsylvania soldiers who would be cut under the proposal. Craig says the guard operates about 30 percent below the cost of the active component. Governor Tom Corbett sent a letter to defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this week saying the National Guard must be preserved as it has a dual role in assisting in domestic emergencies and deploying overseas.

 

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The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is making a change in its heating assistance program that will translate into hundreds of millions in food stamp benefits. The Pittsburgh “Post-Gazette” reports that the agency will spend $8 million to preserve $300 million in food stamps for up to 400,000 families. Connecticut and New York have taken similar steps, and others could follow before a deadline next week.

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The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission says nearly 7,000 people have contacted them about high electric bills for January and February. Many who previously signed up for variable-rate plans opened their bills in February to find they had doubled or even tripled. The PUC is now looking at the providers’ disclosure statements and other issues. To file a complaint, you can call 1-800-692-7380 or go to AttorneyGeneral.gov.

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Attention high school students: The SATs are changing. College Board President David Coleman says every income-eligible student who takes the SAT will directly receive four fee waivers to apply to college, removing a cost barrier faced especially by low- and middle-income students. The College Board is also partnering with Khan Academy to provide free test preparation materials for the redesigned SAT starting in spring 2015. Students will be able to prepare for the exam with free, sophisticated, interactive software. Beginning in spring 2016, the newly-designed test will have 3 sections: evidence-based reading and writing, math and the essay.

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More emotional and vivid testimony is expected on the fourth day of the "Blade Runner" murder trial in South Africa. First to take the stand today is a man who lived near Oscar Pistorius' Pretoria home where he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day of 2013. The same neighbor testified yesterday about hearing gunfire and shouting on the night Steenkamp died.

 

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President Obama is trying to talk to Latinos about Obamacare. The president is participating in a question-and-answer session hosted by the Asegúrate campaign Thursday at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The administration is trying to boost minority enrollment in the federal exchange before the March 31st deadline.

 

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The CIA is accused of monitoring Senate staffers' computers. The CIA Inspector General's Office reportedly asked the Justice Department for a review of the claims. The "New York Times" and "McClatchy" reported on the alleged spying Wednesday, saying it had targeted staffers preparing a report on the detention and interrogation of terror suspects.

 

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The country's frigid weather is expected to cool the February jobs report. Most economists seem to agree that Friday's monthly jobs report should show the economy added 150-thousand jobs last month. The economists say the number would have been higher if temperatures hadn't been bone-chillingly cold across so much of the U.S.

 

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Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing for a diplomatic solution to the tensions over Ukraine. After talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris, Kerry said he will continue talking with the Russians and leaders of Ukraine's new government. The U.S. and allies are threatening sanctions over Russia's deployment of troops into Ukraine's Crimean region.

 

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Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says she will do all she can to boost a U.S. economy that's running far short of the Fed's targets. Speaking in Washington Wednesday, Yellen said the economy's come a long way since the recession, but that "Too many Americans still can't find a job or are forced to work part-time."

 

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After nearly three years of unanswered questions, a neighbor of a missing Tennessee nursing student is being charged with her murder. Zachary Adams was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping in connection with the disappearance of Holly Bobo. The 20-year old was last seen being taken from her home in Parsons, about 110 miles southwest of Nashville in April, 2011.

 

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Alzheimer's disease is now the third-leading cause of death in the United States. A new study says more than half-a-million people died from Alzheimer's in 2010, nearly six times the number cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC lists Alzheimer's as the sixth leading cause of death, but the new study says only heart disease and cancer kill more Americans than Alzheimer's disease does.

 

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Cosmetics supply chain Sally Beauty Holding is investigating a possible data breach. Officials announced this week that they've hired a "top-tier security firm" to look into the possible intrusion, involving their wholesale division.

 

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Four Indianapolis SWAT officers are lucky to be alive after an attempt to serve a warrant on a known drug house turned into a shootout. The suspect was killed in the exchange of gunfire Wednesday. Officials said one officer suffered a gunshot wound to the arm, while the other three were hit in their bulletproof vests, which likely saved their lives.

 

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It's up to authorities in Florida to decide if a pregnant mother should face criminal charges after driving her three kids into the ocean. Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson says the woman remains hospitalized and will undergo a mental evaluation. Johnson says that a few hours before the incident Tuesday afternoon, a concerned family member called police saying the woman was having some mental issues.

 

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Bitcoins are sending the Winklevoss twins to space. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are investors in Bitcoin, and used the digital money to book two tickets on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo for a quarter-million dollars apiece. The Winklevosses are best known for accusing Mark Zuckerberg of stealing their idea for Facebook.

 

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March Madness is moving from the court to the workplace. Nearly a third of the senior managers taking part in an OfficeTeam poll say workplace activities relating to the men's college championship series provides a morale boost. In addition, 27-percent believe it has a positive impact on worker productivity.

 

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Medical marijuana is heading to late-night TV. People in some cities will soon see advertisements for doctors that prescribe pot. The light-hearted spot for MarijuanaDoctors.com begins with a shady character pushing sushi on the street, then viewers are warned that "you wouldn't buy your sushi from this guy, so why would you buy your marijuana from him?"

 

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Facebook is going to censor posts advertising gun sales without background checks. Facebook says it won't permit people to post offers to sell regulated items and indicate they're willing to help people evade the law. The social media site said it consulted with gun control groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns to come up with the policy change.

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