Today's News - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The former executive director of the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority has been indicted on federal charges. Six News reports that Ron Repak is accused of extortion and bribery and could end up behind bars for 90 years. Investigators said Repak received a new roof on his home, had construction done on his son's business, and accepted several Steelers' tickets from contractors, all valued at more than $22,000. Repak has received a summons to appear in court next week.

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In Cambria County Court yesterday, 25-year-old Elizabeth Lowmaster of Northern Cambria was sentenced to six months to four years in prison, then given credit for time served and released from jail. She is married to George Lowmaster of Carrolltown who has admitted being the kingpin of a multimillion-dollar drug ring. His parents, Gerald and Marguerite, have also pleaded guilty to being involved in the operation. They are all awaiting sentencing in Johnstown’s federal court.

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Taxes will not increase for Westmont Hilltop School District residents. At a meeting on Monday, the school board voted against raising taxes and also filled a board vacancy and hired Donald Irwin to serve as the district’s business manager and assistant superintendent. -0- The lockout of Penelec workers continues after no progress was reported in yesterday’s negotiations in Pittsburgh. About 140 workers have been picketing outside First Energy headquarters in Altoona and the surrounding area since November 25.

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An investigation is looking into whether a Cresson man’s death at a state prison near Washington, PA was a homicide. 22-year-old Ronald Yarbough was serving a 1- to 4- year sentence for aggravated bodily injury to a law enforcement officer at the State Correctional Institution-Greene when he was found unresponsive last Friday. An autopsy was performed but the results have not been released.

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Pennsylvania is advancing a bill to outlaw "revenge porn." The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously yesterday on the bill that would impose punishment on people who post sexually explicit photos or videos of ex-romantic partners online. Several other states are considering similar bills but only California and New Jersey have laws dealing with revenge porn.

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State Representatives Erin Molchany and Brian Simms are introducing legislation aimed at ending pay discrepancies in the state. Officials say women in Pennsylvania are paid approximately 77 cents on the dollar in comparison to men who do the same work. The Workplace Opportunity Bill states that gender cannot be a reason for employers to pay employees different wages. The bill is currently on its way to the Labor and Industry Committee for review.

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Nearly 100,000 computers around the globe are being covertly monitored by the National Security Agency. The "New York Times" reports the implanted software allows the U.S. to conduct surveillance on the machines. Most of the software is reportedly inserted into individual computers over the web.

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Hundreds of people are coming together in the aftermath of a school shooting in Roswell, New Mexico. They're praying for the full recovery of two students shot in the gymnasium of Berrendo Middle School. A prayer vigil was held last night after a 12-year-old boy walked into the gym, pulled a shotgun from an instrument case and shot the two other students.

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A water crisis is coming to an end in areas of West Virginia, with a ban on using tap water being lifted. People of the Charleston area were under a do-not-use advisory for days after a coal industry chemical leaked into the water supply West Virginia American Water now says about 38,000 of the 300,000 affected customers can use their water.

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A federal judge is overturning Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage. U.S. District Court Judge Terence Kern found the state constitutional amendment that excludes gay couples from marrying isn't legally justified.

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The alleged mastermind of the 9-11 terrorist attacks appears to be doing an about-face from his earlier boasts of waging violent jihad against the United States. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has written a rambling, deeply religious manifesto that suggests Muslims should not use violence to spread Islam. The 36-page document is titled, "The Road to Real Happiness."

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Israel's defense minister is coming under fire for comments made about Secretary of State John Kerry. The Obama administration says they are "offensive" and "inappropriate." A major Israeli newspaper reports Moshe Yaalon told other government officials that Kerry is obsessive in his quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

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The retired police captain accused of shooting a man inside a Florida movie theater on Monday remains jailed on no bond. A judge yesterday refused to release 71-year-old Curtis Reeves saying there was sufficient evidence to sustain a second-degree murder charge.

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The husband of a pregnant Texas woman being kept alive by life support against his will is turning to the courts for help. Erick Munoz filed paperwork Tuesday asserting his wife is dead and that John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth should remove her from life support.

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The Supreme Court will hear arguments today on the Massachusetts law requiring a buffer zone around abortion clinics. The court will decide whether the state law blocking protests within 35 feet of a clinic violates free speech. The case "McCullen versus Coakley" has national implications for cities and states wishing to restrict protests around the clinics.

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The legalization of marijuana in Colorado is having a huge effect on the court system. The "Denver Post" reports the number of cases involving at least one offense involving the drug have fallen off to the tune of 77 percent between 2012 and 2013.

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Justin Bieber is neither here nor there in terms of charges for an egging incident in his Calabasas, California neighborhood, but his friend is now facing felony drug possession and vandalism charges after cops showed up at the singer's home yesterday. Lil Za was arrested on the spot when police found what they believe to be Xanax and Ecstasy as they raided the residence.

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Sony is now off the hook in the Marvin Gaye-Robin Thicke legal dispute over the song "Blurred Lines." While the battle rages on over the similarities between Thicke's hit and Gaye's 1977 hit "Got To Give It Up," "The Hollywood Reporter" says the Gaye family has agreed to settle with Sony after it accused the music giant of failing to protect the late singer's catalog.

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Human explorers should have their tickets punched for Mars by NASA by the 2030s. That's according to a group of scientists, scholars, astronauts, aerospace industry veterans, and other experts who published their views on Tuesday. Their report summarizes conclusions from a workshop hosted by the American Astronautical Society and the nonprofit Explore Mars Inc.

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Today marks what would have been the 85th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King's tireless work in the name of civil rights won him legions of followers and forced the world to take note of social injustices within the U.S. At the age of 35, he became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Internet service providers are allowed to control what goes through their pipeline and how fast. That's what an appeals court judge ruled today by striking down the government's rules on net neutrality. The FCC's open Internet rules passed in 2010 required ISPs to treat all web traffic equally and give consumers equal access to all lawful content.

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AAA Fuel Gauge says Western Pennsylvania gas prices fell a fraction of a cent, remaining at an average of $3.54 a gallon this week. Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.31, half a penny less than one week ago and eight cents more than one month ago.

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