Today's News - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cambria County is planning to celebrate its 210th anniversary this month. The county was founded March 26, 1804. A celebration will run from 3 to 6 on the 26th featuring speakers and presentations on the county’s history.

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In Cambria County Court yesterday, 35-year-old George Lucas Lane, of Portage, waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Lane is accused of harassing his estranged wife after he was released from the Cambria County Prison. He was in the prison after allegedly conspiring with others to vandalize her vehicle and other vehicles at her workplace. Police say once Lane was release, he called his wife’s workplace to report his own death, then called back and pretended he was the Portage Borough police chief. Lane is charged with impersonating a public servant, harassment, stalking and other charges.

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West Hills police say two women stole a purse from a local business and are searching for one of the suspects. 24-year-old Jessica Swetz, of Johnstown, has been charged with stealing the bag, which contained $400, at Westmont Gardens in Lower Yoder Township in December. An arrest warrant is expected today for 24-year-old Kyndra Edwards, of Johnstown, who failed to appear in court Monday. Swetz was ordered to pay restitution, fines and court costs.

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A fire totaled the Oakton Hotel in Boswell last week. Now investigators say the blaze was accidental and likely due to issues with a coal-fired boiler. No one was hurt in the fire.

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The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board says limited winery locations in the state are now permitted to sell wine for less than state store prices. According to a news release, the move ensures customers have access to the best Pennsylvania wines. Currently the PLCB sells more than 100 Pennsylvania wines in its listed and luxury products division. More than 150 wineries across the state add more than $2 billion into the economy.

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A new poll shows that a large majority of Pennsylvania voters favor legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, but residents are divided over whether possession of even small amounts for recreational use should be legalized. Survey results released Monday by Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University showed 85 percent believe adults should be allowed to use pot for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it. Asked whether they had ever tried marijuana, 55 percent of respondents said no and 44 percent said yes.

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The “Centre Daily Times” requested the information under the open records law…and reports it has so far cost over $96,000 to review the Jerry Sandusky case for State Attorney General Kathleen Kane. The special investigator, Geoffrey Moulton, was hired last February to investigate why it took Kane’s predecessors, current Governor Tom Corbett and Linda Kelly, more than two years to bring charges against Sandusky. No word when his report will be ready.

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Ukraine's future is hanging in the balance as Russia's ultimatum for surrender passes without incident. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to address the crisis in a meeting today with Ukraine's new interim government in Kiev. A State Department spokeswoman says Kerry's trip is intended to send a signal of support to the Ukrainian people.

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A deadly winter storm is pounding the East Coast and dumped at least four inches of snow on Washington, DC. Government offices and schools in the nation's capital and the surrounding areas were closed Monday. Icy roads are being blamed for at least one death in Virginia.

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President Obama is proposing a 2015 budget that expands the popular Earned Income Tax Credit. In the budget plan that will be released Tuesday, Obama proposes to pay for the 60-billion-dollar expansion by eliminating tax breaks claimed by wealthy Americans.

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The Obama administration says its Sprint bill is too high, so it's suing the phone company. The government on Monday filed suit against Sprint, accusing the company of overcharging for expenses it took on while complying with court-ordered wiretaps and other surveillance help.

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The murder trial of "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius continues today in South Africa. The first witness in the courtroom Monday was Pistorius' neighbor, who described hearing bloodcurdling screams and gunshots on Valentine's Day last year. Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to murdering his girlfriend.

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Is a high-speed police chase unreasonable force, and are officers who give chase protected against lawsuits? Those are questions the U.S. Supreme Court will consider today when it hears a case that started with a broken tail light and ended with two people dead.

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President Obama's nominee to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division may be losing Democratic support in the Senate. Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said Monday that he won't support Debo Adegbile's nomination. Several other Democratic senators are said to be uneasy about supporting Adegbile because he represented Mumia Abu-Jamal in the black activist's appeal of a life sentence in the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer.

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A new study reveals that even U.S. Army soldiers who never served in combat have taken their own lives in recent years. National Institute of Mental Health researchers think the Army's fast pace since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began has put a strain on soldiers that contributed to the suicide rate.

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Businesses hurt by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill may soon be getting settlement payments from BP. This, after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans voted two-to-one Monday to uphold an earlier ruling by a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Carl Barber ruled last December that BP had agreed to pay claims without requiring businesses to prove they were directly damaged by the spill.

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Police in Montana says a woman who was buried alive by an avalanche last week has died from her injuries. Sixty-eight-year-old Michel Colville died Sunday night. Colville and her husband were trapped in the snow for hours after an avalanche roared down a mountainside and swallowed their house.

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A police officer in Arizona is dead and another is struggling to survive in a Phoenix-area hospital after a gunfight. The Phoenix Police Chief says the two officers were pursuing a man who had a felony warrant for his arrest, when the suspect collided with a truck at an intersection. The man exchanged gunfire with the officers and was killed in a hail of bullets.

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Former Amazon employees are taking their lawsuit to the country's highest court. The Supreme Court decided Monday that it would hear a case by warehouse workers, who were required to spend up to 30 minutes waiting in line for security checks at the end of their shifts. The employees think they should be paid for the extra time spent waiting to have their bags searched.

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Petco is under fire by PETA over its sale of pet rats. The animal rights group has targeted the San Diego-based Petco pet store chain, saying such sales should be halted in the wake of a child's death involving a rat bought at a Petco store. The family of San Diego County resident Aidan Pankey says the ten-year-old died last year of a rare bacterial infection his family believes was contracted from the rat. PETA says suppliers for pet stores keep mice and rats in crowded boxes, creating a breeding ground for diseases.

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Crowd-funding company Kickstarter is now boasting more than a billion-dollars in pledges. The fundraising platform that opened for business in 2009 announced Monday that it had passed the major milestone. Kickstarter says half of the money was pledged in the last year alone to fund ventures that range from movies and comic books to consumer projects.

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Treasure hunters from Tampa, Florida will soon try to recover gold from a ship that sank off the East Coast more than 150 years ago. Odyssey Marine Exploration has reached a deal to recover the gold cargo from the SS Central America that went down 160-miles off the coast.

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A new season of ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" is just weeks away. The cast of the show's 18th run will be unveiled Tuesday morning on "Good Morning America." New co-host Erin Andrews, a Fox Sports reporter, will join longtime "Dancing" host Tom Bergeron with the reveal.

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Americans like spuds. Just three-percent of the respondents in an Idaho Potato Commission poll say they don't eat potatoes. Meanwhile, 84 percent of the men and 78-percent of the women surveyed enjoy "a plate of potatoes" at least once a week. Regionally, Midwesterners are the most inclined to dine on spuds, with 88 percent eating potatoes on a weekly basis. Potatoes are also the most craved vegetable, coming in ahead of leafy greens like lettuce, kale, or spinach; broccoli; tomatoes; and corn. Among the many ways potatoes can be prepared, baked is the favorite with 29 percent of the vote. A quarter prefer their potatoes mashed and 17 percent like French fries the best. Nine percent go for hash browns. Five percent are big fans of potato chips.

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A new survey has found that anti-gay sentiments may be the reason young people are feeling disconnected with religious groups. The poll, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, found that 70 percent of Millennials – those ages 18 to 33 – feel alienated from the religion they were born into. Of those, nearly one-third cited their religion's lack of acceptance towards gays as a major factor in their decision to no longer practice. Many haven't cut ties with their religion entirely, but say they no longer can identify with its teachings. Of those, more than 60 percent cite negativity towards gays as one of the factors.

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