Today's News - Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has charged Travis Watt of Gallitzin, his brother Robert Watt of Claysburg, and Justin Radcliffe of Portage with the unlawful and out-of-season shooting death and butchering of a black bear May 4 in Portage. According to “The Tribune-Democrat,” the affidavit of probable cause says Radcliffe came home in the early morning and found the bear going through his trash. He allegedly called Travis Watt and told him to “bring the biggest gun you have.” Authorties say Travis Watt was the shooter and Robert Watt held a flashlight. The rifle was later hidden at their workplace. The Watts also butchered the bear. A court date is pending.

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The Cambria County coroner’s office is asking for help locating family members of 49-year-old Robert Rice who was found dead at his Vine Street Towers apartment on Friday. Rice had lived there for more than two years and in Cambria County for about six years. He died of natural causes and had been dead for several days before he was found by a friend who went to check on him. Anyone with information about rice’s family should call 535-6222.

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Cambria County’s 2014 Showcase for Commerce gets underway today at the War Memorial in Johnstown. The event attracts defense contractors to the area to see what the region has to offer, hopefully bringing in more money through government contracts. The showcase runs until 6:30 p.m. tomorrow.

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Cambria County’s unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of one percent to stand at 6.9 percent in April. Decreases were also reported in Bedford, Blair, Centre, Clearfield and Huntingdon counties. The state’s jobless rate is down three-tenths to 5.7. The national number dropped four-tenths to 6.3.

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Another state police “Click It or Ticket” campaign is underway. A child passenger safety seat check will be held today from 3:30 to 8:30 at the Cresson Volunteer Fire Department on Ashcroft Avenue. Certified child passenger technicians will inspect seats, make sure they are properly installed and check for possible recalls.

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State police have released Memorial Day weekend traffic statistics. Troopers investigated 709 crashes during the four-day driving period, resulting in five deaths and 277 injuries. Two of the fatal wrecks were alcohol-related. Police cited 1,570 people for not wearing seat belts and 250 for not securing children in safety seats. Nearly 13,000 speeding citations were issued and 485 people were arrested for driving under the influence.

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Health officials are reminding residents about the dangers of Lyme disease in warm weather.  Pennsylvania is often first or second in the nation in reported cases of Lyme disease, and doctors suggest taking precautions to avoid ticks, which carry the disease. Wear light colored clothing so ticks are visible, tuck in clothing so ticks can’t get in and shower immediately after being outdoors. If you find a tick on your body, remove it with tweezers and contact your doctor if you suspect you have been bitten.

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Environmental groups are trying to stop Governor Tom Corbett from expanding gas drilling underneath state forests and parks. The groups filed an injunction against the expansion yesterday, citing a right to clean air. The hearing was continued until Monday so more witnesses can testify. Corbett needs revenue for the state budget, which is due June 30, and the expansion could generate $75 million.  

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Default electric rates are going up in Pennsylvania starting June 1, depending on the provider. Rates go up quarterly, but could skyrocket this time to help utility companies recoup their losses from the frigid winter. This week, Penelec announced that rates will go up 12 percent and now West Penn says rates are jumping a whopping 50 percent. Officials say it's not too late to shop around for a better rate.  For more information visit papowerswitch.com.

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The Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs is expressing outrage over shoddy healthcare for veterans.  Republican Jeff Miller of Florida opened Wednesday's rare evening hearing by vowing to get to the bottom of the scandal that led to long wait times for healthcare.  Meanwhile, a late night House vote gives the Justice Department a green light to begin investigating claims of VA mismanagement.

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President Obama is vigorously defending his foreign policy.  Giving the commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the President said the landscape is changing.  He argued that the U.S. must devote more attention to domestic priorities after more than a decade of war.   

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Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden says he has no ties to Russia's government.  In an interview broadcast on NBC Wednesday, Snowden said he is not under the government's control and hasn't given any classified documents to Russia during the year he's been there under asylum.

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Australian officials now believe they've been looking in the wrong place for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.  The statement from the search agency agrees with comments from a U.S. Navy official, who says the pings the search was based on apparently came from man-made sources other than the black boxes from Flight 370.

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One person is missing after an oil tanker exploded off the western coast of Japan Thursday morning.  Seven crew members were rescued and three are seriously injured.  A spokeswoman for the shipping company says the tanker burst into flames after off-loading its cargo.

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Voters in two Northern California counties will cast ballots next week on whether they want to secede from the Golden State.  If approved, Del Norte and Tehama counties would essentially begin discussions to join three other northern counties in their push to secede.  People living in those counties have claimed they are under-represented both in Sacramento and Washington.

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A three man crew including an American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut is on board the International Space Station.  A German astronaut is also part of the crew that lifted off from Kazakhstan Wednesday afternoon.  The Soyuz capsule reached the space station in just six hours using Russia's new "express" flight path.

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Prosecutors say Aaron Hernandez killed two people he met at a Boston nightclub after one of them spilled a drink on him.  The state spelled out their case against Hernandez in a Boston courtroom today.  They say the former Patriots tight end believed the victim, Daniel Abreu, smiled and did not apologize after the incident, setting him off.  Hernandez pleaded not guilty to the 2012 double-murder.

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Microsoft is developing a language translator tool for Skype.  It allows speakers of different languages to communicate with each other.  A Windows 8 beta version is expected to be ready by the end of the year.

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A lawsuit against Wells Fargo for discriminatory lending is moving forward.  The lawsuit was filed by the city of Los Angeles.  It alleges Wells Fargo issued loans to minority borrowers that they could not afford.  A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the city's claims were adequate enough for the case to proceed.

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Powerball players will have to wait until Saturday night for another chance to win the multi-state drawing.  No one matched all six numbers Wednesday night, moving the jackpot to an estimated $173 million.  The numbers drawn Wednesday were 2-24-28-32-59 with the Powerball of 25. 

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Fans are answering LeVar Burton's call for the return of "Reading Rainbow.  Less than 24 hours after launching a Kickstarter campaign Wednesday, the actor and host has raised more than one-million-dollars in his efforts to revive the children's educational series.  Burton hosted "Reading Rainbow" on PBS from 1983 to 2006.

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E! is saying later to "Chelsea Lately."  The network has announced an August 26th end date for Chelsea Handler's late night talk show, sealing an early exit for the comedienne whose contract with E! isn't up until the end of the year.  According to the "New York Daily News," E! is rolling out a "month-long" celebration for Handler's send-off, which will include "special episodes" and "surprise guests."

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