Today's News - Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Pawlowski visited Johnstown yesterday. Pawlowski cited his success as mayor of Allentown and vowed to bring the same approach to the state, creating jobs and building a long-term strategy for the future. Six Democrats are currently in the run for the governor’s seat. Polls show Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz is in the lead.

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Somerset County Commissioners have announced taxes will rise for 2014 by a whopping 22 percent. The increase is 2-and-a-half mills. For an average taxpayer with a home worth $50,000, that means an extra $125 a year. Commissioners say that among other expenses, crime and drugs have increased and affected the county budget requiring the county to add new positions in the court system to deal with the surge.

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22-year-old Cardell Clinton, of Johnstown, pleaded guilty in Cambria County Court to selling heroin during an undercover operation in June. Clinton was part of a June 2012 deadly shooting outside Edder’s Den that was linked to an extortion case. Elip Cheatham was rushing Clinton to the hospital for a gunshot wound when Cheatham sped through a blockade and was shot by police.

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Somerset County is switching to a new 911 radio communications system next year. The system will cost $8.1 million and link the county system to a larger regional network, including seamless communication between all first responders.

-0- A Pennsylvania Senator is pushing legislation that would regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes. Western Pennsylvania Senator Tim Solobay appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday to remind them of the importance of Senate Bill 1055, which was introduced earlier this year. The bill would make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.

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The commute into New York City should be a little smoother this morning for people who ride one of the nation's busiest rail lines. Service is expected to be at or near 98-percent this morning. Sunday's derailment of a Metro North train on the Hudson line killed four people and injured nearly a dozen.

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The calendar says it's not winter yet, but the weather says otherwise in some parts of the country. A storm system has already unloaded at least 30 inches of snow in parts of Idaho and Wyoming. Areas of Minnesota have gotten 26 inches with the white stuff causing the University of Minnesota-Duluth to shut the campus.

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The recordings of 911 calls made to police during the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last year will be released today. Prosecutors have decided not to appeal a lower court ruling that requires the recordings to be made public no later than today.

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President Obama is on offense after weeks of playing defense over the rocky rollout of HealthCare.Gov. In a White House event, Obama vowed that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. Obama applauded fixes on the federal website for the new healthcare exchanges.

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Vice President Joe Biden is in China today for what's expected to be a tense meeting with that country's vice president. Biden's arrival in Beijing follows China's declaration of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea nearly two weeks ago.

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House Republicans returning from the Thanksgiving recess are resuming their assault on the healthcare reform law. In a Capitol news briefing, GOP House Speaker John Boehner said the law is hurting individuals, small businesses and the overall economy.

-0- The city of Detroit meets the legal criteria for bankruptcy protection. In summarizing a 140-page ruling on Tuesday in connection with the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history, Judge Stephen Rhodes said Detroit no longer has the resources to provide residents with services.

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Federal prosecutors say the man accused of shooting and killing a Transportation Security Administration officer at Los Angeles International Airport will make his first court appearance today. Paul Ciancia is charged with killing the TSA officer and wounding several others during the airport shooting November 1st.

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Two people are dead after colliding midair in a skydiving accident between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Police in Eloy, Arizona say Tuesday's accident happened at Skydive Arizona, a popular spot among skydiving enthusiasts.

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A Mississippi man accused of sending poison-laced letters to President Obama and two other public officials is pleading not guilty to a new indictment. The new charge alleges James Everett Dutschke tried to recruit someone from jail to produce ricin and send it in a letter to Senator Roger Wicker. Dutschke has denied sending the letters and will go on trial in May. He faces life in prison if convicted.

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Findings haven't been announced yet, but the autopsy on "Fast & Furious" star Paul Walker is reportedly complete. Walker and his friend Roger Rodas were killed Saturday when the Porsche Carrera GT Rodas was driving crashed into a pole after a charity event the two hosted north of Los Angeles.

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No one has won the Mega Millions jackpot so it continues to grow. No one walked away with the grand prize Tuesday night, the 18th consecutive drawing without a winner. That means the next drawing, on Friday night, will be worth at least $291 million.

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Wreaths Across America, says it is struggling to put a wreath on every grave at Arlington National Cemetery this Christmas season. The nonprofit group says donations are down, leaving them about 35-thousand wreaths short of their goal. Board Chairman Wayne Hanson says every 15-dollar donation will guarantee another wreath will be placed on the grave of a fallen servicemember.

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Move over Rover, Max and Bella are now the most popular dog names. Rover.com compiled its first-ever list of top dog names by gender from hundreds of thousands of registered users in the United States. After Max, Charlie was the second favorite name for male dogs, followed by Buddy, Jack and Cooper. As for the ladies, Lucy was runner-up to Bella, followed by Daisy, Lily and Molly.

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A National Research Council report claims global warming is occurring so rapidly that the world should expect abrupt and unpredictable consequences in just a few years or decades. Scientists are calling for an early warning system to anticipate sudden climate shifts.

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Universal Pictures is continuing Paul Walker's charitable works. The studio announced Tuesday that a portion of the sales from the DVD and digital releases of "Fast & Furious 6" will go to the late actor's charity Reach Out Worldwide. Universal Chairman Donna Langley said in a statement that the studio aims to keep Walker's memory alive and honor his legacy through continued support of the non-profit he founded to help those affected by natural disasters.

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