Today's News - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Johnstown School District Superintendent Gerald Zahorchak says rumors were circulating Tuesday, but no weapons were brought to the middle school. Two students had reportedly been feuding and it turned into a fight. Zahorchak says that no alert was issued to parents because there was never a specific threat of weapons. Officials from the middle school say threats or rumors, such as these, are taken very seriously and they are investigated extensively.

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Emergency response crews from Loretto, Ashville and Cresson, as well as a state police helicopter, combed a wooded area for hours Tuesday just northeast of Loretto Borough. They had received reports that a hang glider may have been downed by the heavy rain storm. What they found turned out to be some large balloons – not weather balloons, but just birthday balloons. No injuries were reported.

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The United Way of the Laurel Highlands awarded over $760,000 in grants yesterday to programs and agencies that help support new parents, young children and individuals dealing with addiction. At $91,000, Home Nursing Agency received the most money.

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Three people were injured in a car crash Tuesday evening in Somerset Township, including Somerset County commissioner Joe Betta. Betta has been cited for driving at unsafe speeds, which caused him to cross the center line and into the path of an oncoming car. The vehicles hit head on, causing moderate injuries for both drivers.

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It will soon been air conditioner season, and Penelec customers will see a 12 percent hike in their bills starting Sunday. First Energy spokesman Scott Surgeoner says the residential rate will jumps from 7.73 cents per kilowatt hour to 9.28 cents. That will cost the average homeowner almost 12 more dollars.

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AAA Fuel Gauge says Western Pa. gas prices fell about two cents to $3.82 a gallon this week. The Memorial Day holiday saw drivers paying slightly more for gasoline than the previous two years.

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President Obama will keep nearly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of this year. In a statement at the White House, Obama noted that the U.S. will end combat operations in Afghanistan by year's end. Remaining troops will continue training Afghan security forces and advising on counterterrorism efforts.

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Classes will resume today at the University of California Santa Barbara for the first time since last Friday's violent rampage that left six students dead. During a memorial service yesterday, University of California President Janet Napolitano said it's important to honor the victim's memories. The memorial came just days after Elliot Rodger stabbed three people to death in his apartment before fatally shooting three other students.

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Nearly two-thirds of Americans don't think much of the health insurance law known as Obamacare, according to a new poll. The poll released this morning by Bankrate.com finds 43 percent of people surveyed say the Affordable Care Act has had a mostly negative effect. Another 21 percent say the act hasn't had much effect on the country at all.

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Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is about to begin a 12-day trip overseas. Hagel's tour begins Wednesday with a brief stop in Alaska, where he'll be briefed on missile defense. Hagel then travels to Singapore for a conference on security in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

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Egypt's presidential election is being extended for a third day because of low turnout. On Tuesday, officials allowed an extra hour of voting and declared it a national holiday in an effort to boost turnout. A higher number of voters is seen as key to making the winner legitimate. Egypt's former military chief is the clear frontrunner.

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A white supremacist accused of shooting and killing three people outside two Kansas City area Jewish centers is facing new charges. Prosecutors charged 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Cross, Junior with three counts of attempted murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of shooting a firearm into a building for allegedly trying to kill three other people during the April 13th shooting spree.

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Edward Snowden says he was trained as a spy. In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, the former NSA contractor says he lived and worked undercover overseas and was, quote, "pretending to work in a job that I'm not." He also said he was assigned a name that wasn't his. Snowden leaked classified information a year ago that exposed U.S. surveillance programs.

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First lady Michelle Obama is calling House Republicans plans to weaken school lunch nutrition standards "unacceptable." In a meeting today with school leaders and nutrition experts, Obama said House Republicans are "playing politics" with "our children's future."  GOP members of the House are backing a bill that would allow school districts to opt out of federal rules that limit sodium and require more fresh fruits and vegetables in lunches.

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Minimum wage workers are getting a raise in Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder has signed a bill to increase the wage to $9.25 an hour by 2018 and index future increases to the rate of inflation. The measure sailed through the House and Senate.

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More than a thousand Alaska families are back home this morning, three days after a huge wildfire forced them to evacuate. The Funny River fire is burning on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. The 600 firefighters battling the fire have it about 30 percent contained. The blaze has grown to more than 156,000 acres.

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A Phoenix judge is rejecting media requests to permit live broadcasts in the Jodi Arias sentencing retrial. The ruling dated May 21st was logged by the court yesterday. Arias was convicted last May of murdering her ex-boyfriend in his Mesa home six years ago, but the jury was deadlocked on whether she should get the death penalty.

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A new survey is finding that Americans prefer plastic to paper. According to a poll conducted by VoucherCloud.net, almost 60 percent of respondents say they "never" carry cash. Two-thirds say their biggest concern is a fear of being robbed.

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The arrival of swimsuit season doesn't have everyone slipping into their bikinis or trunks. A third of the women and men taking part in a new survey say it's been at least five years since they've worn a swimsuit in public. Twenty-percent haven't put on swimwear in at least ten years.

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An Iranian court is summoning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over privacy violations. The judge has ordered the Facebook apps Instagram and Whatsapp to be blocked and is ruling that Zuckerberg must appear in court to defend himself and pay for possible losses. Zuckerberg is unlikely to appear because the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Iran.

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