Today's News - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The State Game Commission says a Johnstown-area restaurant owner has been charged with buying the gallbladders of at least two wild bears. David Horton, the owner of NyKo's in Richland Township, says he is not guilty, but authorities say they have proof that Horton paid an undercover informant a total of $160 in cash on the same day in 2011. In some Asian cultures, the gallbladders and bile of bears are considered a delicacy. They are also used as an aphrodisiac in different medicines. A hearing is scheduled for February.

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The State Game Commission is still investigating the accidental shooting death of 42-year-old Timothy Bruce of Ashville, Cambria County. He was killed while hunting with a large group of men Saturday near Sidman. Officials say they are still unsure who actually fired the shot and charges are a possibility if they determine the shot was fired with carelessness or negligence.

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In Cambria County Court yesterday, a district judge ordered Edward Smith Sr. of New York to stand trial on charges that he raped a 4-year-old several times in Ebensburg and throughout the county. Smith was arrested on drug charges in New York back in January and he was returned to Cambria County on an outstanding warrant. He’s jailed on $50 thousand bond.

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A preliminary hearing is scheduled today for St. Francis University student Aftyne Green of Altoona. The 21-year-old is charged with sexually assaulting another student in his dorm room last month. Green claims there was no sexual contact and they had just been drinking beer together. He is free on bail.

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The senate is considering a bill that would change the name of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services. A senate Committee approved the bill yesterday and it could go to the final vote next month when the legislature returns to voting sessions. Supporters say the word "welfare" is demeaning and say "human services" is a more accurate description.

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In Hershey yesterday, Governor Tom Corbett discussed his “Healthy Pennsylvania Plan” and said he supports expanding community-based health clinics throughout the state. Pennsylvania will submit a proposal to the federal government in hopes of getting funding. Corbett’s plan also has strategies to recruit and retain physicians to rural and under-served areas. Doctors and other healthcare professionals who agree to work in under-served areas would be eligible for loan forgiveness.

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Legislation that would require drug tests for people applying for a job in Pennsylvania schools is on its way to the Senate. The bill, which would require prospective employees of public, private and vo-tech schools to submit to a pre-employment drug screening, passed the House of Representatives yesterday.  Employees are currently required to pass pre-employment criminal record checks and child abuse clearances.

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AAA Fuel Gauge says Western Pennsylvania gas prices rose a little over three cents to $3.41 this week. Today’s national average is $3.26. That’s seven cents more expensive than one month ago, but fractions of a penny less than one week ago and eight cents less than the same date last year.

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Most of the U.S. is getting a break today from the stormy weather that's blasted the country since last week.  But people in states around the Great Lakes won't notice much difference.  Lake-effect snow is likely with the heaviest snow falling in upstate New York and there's a good chance of snow in parts of Michigan.  

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President Obama and two other heads of state remain under fire today for posing for a selfie at Nelson Mandela's memorial service in South Africa.  Obama, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British Prime Minister David Cameron leaned together and smiled for the smartphone picture, while dignitaries around them – includeng First Lady Michelle Obama – remained serious and focused on the memorial.  

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Three days of mourning in South Africa are underway for former president Nelson Mandela.  The anti-apartheid leader's flag-draped coffin is lying in state in Pretoria, the seat of South Africa's government.  Thousands of people lined the streets as the procession made its way through the capital city early today. 

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Lawmakers are taking the wraps off a bipartisan budget deal to fund the federal government for two years.  In a Capitol news conference, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan said the deal doesn't raise taxes and reduces the deficit.  Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington said the deal ends a pattern of lurching from "crisis to crisis."  

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This Saturday marks one year since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut and donations have poured in to help the families of those who lost loved ones.  Charities have collected 28-million-dollars since the attack last December.  

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For the first time, a woman will serve as the CEO of one of a global automaker.  Mary Barra will succeed Dan Akerson at the helm of General Motors in January when he retires.  The 51-year-old Barra is currently an executive vice president for GM and has worked for the company since 1980.  

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Hospital officials in Nevada say a family of six that had been missing since Sunday is in good shape after being found Tuesday by rescue workers.   Dr. Douglas Vacek of Pershing General Hospital credited James Glanton for doing all the right things for keeping his girlfriend and the four children warm.  The couple and four children went missing after heading to an abandoned mining camp in Northwestern Nevada to play in the snow. 

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Americans are getting healthier.  The annual America's Health Rankings report notes improvements in more than two-thirds of the areas measured.  Fewer Americans are smoking, there's a significant drop in physical inactivity, and for the first time since 1998 there's a leveling off of the obesity rate. 

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The lure of the Red Planet apparently is pretty strong for some people.  A Dutch company says it's moving forward with its plan to send four people to colonize Mars.  According to Mars One's CEO, more than 200-thousand people have signed up to be prospective astronauts.  The chosen few will have to like their new home, because technology for a return flight doesn't exist yet.

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Women of the Millennial generation are the first to begin their working lives at near pay parity with men.  However, a new study makes it clear that doubts still linger about gender equality.  The Pew Research Center study shows most believe additional change is needed. 

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The fourth largest jackpot in Mega Millions history is getting bigger.  No one matched all six numbers Tuesday night, making for 19 straight drawings without a winner.  The multi-state game's new jackpot should be worth at least $400 million when the next numbers are drawn on Friday.  

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A six-year-old Colorado boy is back in school after being suspended this week for kissing a girl on the hand.  First-grader Hunter Yelton claims he has a crush on the girl, who likes him back.  But, the superintendent at School District RE-1 in Cañon City called the boy's actions sexual harassment.

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One family in Louisville, Kentucky is hoping the promise of a new car will motivate the community to look for their lost dog.  Because they don't have money for a cash reward, the couple has offered their 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix as a reward for the return of their four-legged family member.

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Paul Walker's family is preparing a small, private ceremony to finally lay the actor to rest.  E! News says Walker's remains were released Monday from the Los Angeles County coroner's office to the Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills mortuary.  Funeral arrangements for the "Fast & Furious" actor have yet to be announced. 

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Facebook is out with its 2013 trends report. The most added life event on users' timelines around the world was adding a relationship or getting married.  Pope Francis was the most talked about topic in the world, with the Super Bowl the most talked about in the United States.

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