Today's News - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

In Somerset County Court Thursday, 25-year-old Denver Blough, of Windber, waived his right to a preliminary hearing. He allegedly shot his pregnant girlfriend, 23-year-old Caressa Kovalcik, to death in May. The baby was delivered by emergency C-section but died in a hospital 20 days later. Blough admits to shooting Kovalcik but says it was an accident.

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Michael Kitzmiller of Johnstown is in the Cambria County Jail on rape charges. Police say he argued with a woman Saturday night at a home in the West End. Kitzmiller allegedly knocked the victim unconscious and, when she woke up, he was having sex with her in front of her 5-year-old child. Bail is set at $85 thousand.

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The owner of Quaker Steak and Lube is trying to get Richland Township officials to take over noise enforcement duties in the municipality in order to hold more outdoor events without fear of breaking the law. Ray Joll addressed Richland Township supervisors Monday. They said that they might be interested in considering the idea but agreed that it would only happen if they could implement a township-wide noise ordinance. Currently, drinking establishment noise complaints in the Commonwealth are strictly dealt with through Liquor Control Enforcement.

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Fifteen state police barracks could be in danger of closing. There are currently more than 500 trooper vacancies. If the number tops 600, the colonel of the state police will consider shutting down some locations. Joseph Kovel, president of the Pennsylvania State Police Association says it’s estimated that around 1,000 troopers will be eligible for retirement in the next year or two, adding to the problem. No word which barracks could be in jeopardy.

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Congressman Glenn Thompson of Centre County and four other Pennsylvania congressmen are asking the NCAA to restore scholarships stripped from Penn State and to rescind a $60 million fine levied following the Jerry Sandusky scandal. In a letter sent to NCAA President Mark Emmert, they say the sanctions harm innocent students and erode the NCAA’s credibility. No comment from the NCAA.

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Attorney General Kathleen Kane is warning Pennsylvania consumers about a rash of phone scams that have been reported across the state in recent weeks. She says the calls involve someone asking the victim to make a payment. Reasons cited by the callers include unpaid debt, a tax to cover a sweepstakes prize or to have a virus removed from a computer. Kane is reminding people not to give out personal information over the telephone. And you should never wire money in response to an unsolicited telephone call.

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The White House says Russia is paying the price for its actions in Ukraine. In Monday's White House press briefing, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said Russia's economy is hurting due to sanctions. Meantime, new sanctions on Russian banks and energy companies are being finalized today by the European Union.

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Investigators from Australia and the Netherlands are still unable to reach the site of a downed Malaysian airliner in Ukraine. The group was turned away from the crash site for a third consecutive day on Tuesday. Australian Federal Police officials say the situation is too volatile without guarantees of safe access from Ukrainian and pro-Russian rebel forces.

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Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is calling Israel a "rabid dog" for its attacks on Gaza. Khamenei today also urged Muslims to arm Palestinians to enable them to counter what he called "genocide."

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As the Ebola crisis in Liberia and Nigeria worsens, a second American is reported to have caught the deadly disease. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said yesterday that the State Department is just one of many U.S. agencies working on the situation. Newly infected is U.S. citizen Dr. Kent Brantly, who is the director of a charity group working on fighting Ebola in Liberia.

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British oil giant BP reports a 34 percent increase in second quarter profits. The company says it will pay a dividend of 9.75 cents a share for the quarter that ended June 30. BP's second quarter profit grew to $3.6 billion, compared to $2.7 billion a year ago.

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A deal is being struck to reform the embattled Veterans Affairs Department. Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders called it a compromise effort aimed at reducing unacceptably long wait times for vets at VA health clinics. Sanders said Monday the proposed bill would give many vets the option of seeking care outside the VA system.

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Hundreds of people are returning to their homes as fire crews contain more of a Northern California wildfire. The fire burning in the Sierra foothills about an hour east of Sacramento is now at least 75 percent contained. It's burned close to four-thousand acres and destroyed 13 homes.

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A federal appeals court is striking down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling against the ban. The appeals court said Monday that the right to marriage includes a right to same-sex marriage. It's the latest of several rulings against state bans on gay marriage.

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A Dallas-area man is in federal custody after being charged with sending hundreds of hoax letters containing a mysterious white powder. Federal prosecutors say Hong Minh Truong of Rowlett sent more than 500 of the letters to schools, businesses and government offices since 2008.

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Everyone's okay after a Delta Airlines jet made an emergency landing Monday night at New York's JFK Airport. WABC reports the jet was headed to Dayton, Ohio from LaGuardia when the pilot learned of a tire problem shortly after takeoff. Passengers were evacuated from the aircraft once it touched down at JFK, and no injuries have been reported.

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The family of a missing Oregon woman is fearing the worst. Police are searching for Jennifer Huston, a stay-at-home mother of two young children who went missing last week. She disappeared after telling her husband she was going out to run errands in the Portland suburb of Dundee.

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Washington, DC attorney Michele Roberts is the new executive director of the NBA Players Association. She is the first woman to head up a major sports union. She replaces Billy Hunter as executive director.’

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Militias are reportedly now at the Texas-Mexico border. The "San Antonio Express-News" posted a series of photos Monday of people wearing camouflage, masks and carrying semi-automatic rifles. The photos don't show faces because militias are reportedly worried cartel and gang members will identify them.

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It appears Microsoft is being targeted by China in an anti-trust investigation. On Monday, government officials made unannounced visits to Microsoft's offices in four separate cities. The Chinese agency doing the investigating usually oversees bribery and corruption cases.

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A lot of people think Santa Fe is a special place. The capital of New Mexico is getting the nod as the "Best Small City in America" in a new "Conde Nast Traveler" poll. California's Carmel-by-the-Sea takes the number two spot, followed by Napa, Telluride, Colorado and Newport, Rhode Island.

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A little extra brown fat is actually a good thing. A new study shows people with higher levels of brown fat have a lower risk for diabetes and obesity. Unlike white fat, brown fat improves insulin sensitivity and fat burning metabolism. Previous research has suggested that brown fat also helps regulate body temperature.

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Most of the apps in Apple's App Store are barely being used. Analytics company Adjust says almost 80 percent of the more than one-million apps currently available are just sitting in the App Store with hardly any downloads. Sixty-thousand apps are added to the App Store every month, and it's increasingly more difficult for apps to stand out.

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A judge is denying Donald Sterling's attempt to block the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers. The judge in Los Angeles Monday ruled against Donald, saying his wife Shelly had acted appropriately when she negotiated the sale of the Clippers. Shelly Sterling said outside court she's relieved the situation is over, and she hopes to reconcile with her husband.

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