Today's News - Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Three to seven years in a state prison is the sentence for 42-year-old Steven Fisher of the Patton area. Fisher pleaded guilty to having a meth lab at his home which police found when they came to investigate a rape reported by his estranged wife in February of last year. The woman told police Fisher threatened to kill her and their children if she didn’t drop a protection from abuse order against him. He previously pleaded guilty to trespassing on Cambria Heights School District property in 2011, leading to a lockdown at the middle and high schools.

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Former Portage Township employee Lisa Flynn will not go to jail after all. A Cambria County Judge previously sentenced her to a minimum of nine months behind bars for stealing over $10 thousand in taxpayer money. The judge amended the sentence to seven years probation because Flynn has five children to care for, including two with disabilities. Flynn must pay $600 in restitution each month.

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AAA Fuel Gauge says Western PA gas prices increased a fraction of a cent to $3.33 this week. After falling to a multi-year low of $3.18 per gallon last Tuesday, the national average inched higher on seven straight days. Today’s average at the pump— $ 3.21 per gallon — is 3 cents more expensive than one week ago, but still 14 cents cheaper than one month ago and 21 cents less than on the same day last year.

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After a long battle, the State House finally passed a $2.3 billion transportation funding bill by a vote of 104 to 95. The proposal would raise gas taxes by 28 cents per gallon and also many driving fees including licenses and registrations. Governor Tom Corbett released a statement saying, “Today, the house of representatives made a dramatic choice to invest in the future of Pennsylvania. In doing so, they have set the stage for the safety of our children and the economic prosperity for Pennsylvania.” The measure now needs Senate approval, then it will go to Corbett for his signature.

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Two state senators will propose legislation today in hopes of making significant reforms to the structure of Penn State’s board of trustees. Democrat John Yudichak from northeast Pennsylvania and Senator Jake Corman of Centre County will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Yudichak says the board needs re-alignment to conform to standards at other universities across the country. It’s not likely that lawmakers will have time this year to take up the measure this year.

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The man in charge of building the online systems for the Obama administration's healthcare reform law says big pieces of that infrastructure are still unfinished. Testifying before a House committee yesterday, Medicare deputy chief information officer Henry Chao indicated that somewhere between 30 and 70 percent of the IT systems needed for the Affordable Care Act are still unfinished.

-0- Anyone under the age of 21 in New York City is now banned from purchasing tobacco products. Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the legislation yesterday. It makes New York the first major metropolitan area in the nation to have such a law. Electronic cigarettes also fall under the new law. They've been marketed as a healthy alternative to regular smokes.

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Global powers will try again to get a preliminary deal to stop or at least slow Iran's nuclear program when talks resume today in Geneva, Switzerland. Western powers suspect Iran is enriching uranium with the intent of developing nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge.

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Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says the Fed will keep its target interest rate low after it stops buying $85 billion of bonds every month. Bernanke said in a speech to economists Tuesday night that the central bank's policies are helping middle class Americans by supporting housing, strengthening financial markets, and beefing up consumers' cash flows.

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Virginia state Senator Creigh Deeds remains in fair condition after being stabbed at his home in what police say was an altercation with his son. His 24-year-old son Gus was found dead of a gunshot wound at the residence. The incident occurred yesterday and State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller says investigators believe the case is an attempted murder and a suicide.

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Many people have become enraged over a game in which players re-enact the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. "The Slaying of Sandy Hook Elementary" video game lets gamers storm virtual classrooms with an AR-15 assault rifle. It also displays a kill ratio at the end. Donna Soto, whose daughter died in the massacre, says it's absolutely disgusting that somebody thinks it's funny.

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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs a same-sex marriage bill into law today. The move will officially make Illinois the 16th state in the nation that allows gay couples to get married.

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Kansas City, Missouri will soon be home to the world's tallest, fastest water slide. It's slated to open next year. The exact details are being kept under wraps until construction is completed and the slide makes its big debut in May. However, those in the know say it will easily replace a 134-foot slide in Brazil as the world's highest.

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The shoes Michael Jordan wore in his legendary "flu-game" performance during the 1997 NBA Finals could make a mint at auction. The sports betting site Bovada pins the price at around $80 thousand. The shoes are currently at more than $37 thousand with three weeks left on the clock.

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The adult children of radio legend Casey Kasem have lost a court battle over the establishment of a conservatorship for their father. A Los Angeles judge on Tuesday rejected such a bid, saying there was no clear and convincing evidence the 81-year-old Kasem's health was at risk. Kasem is suffering from advanced Parkinson's disease.

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Vancouver is on its way to becoming a nearly doorknob-less society. According to "The Vancouver Sun," the Canadian city has approved changes to its building code outlawing doorknobs in favor of levers. Existing homes will be grandfathered in, but starting in March, all new homes in Vancouver will come with the easy-open entrance mechanism. And officials aren't stopping there. The city is also getting rid of faucets with knob-like handles. The changes are meant to help those with arthritic or otherwise weakened hands.

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Most agree that putting a man on the moon was American's greatest moment of the past half-century. According to a new poll by Harris Interactive, when asked which one event in American history they wish they could have witnessed firsthand, most say Neil Armstrong's "taking one small step for man." Twenty-seven percent chose the moon landing. Twenty-one percent say they wish they could have seen the fall of the Berlin wall, and 20 percent picked watching Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech in person. King's speech was the top choice for those ages 18 to 44. The top choice for best fashion trend of the past 50 years was the bikini, followed by the mini-skirt and skinny jeans.

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Most American adults agree when it comes to technology, you can have too much of a good thing. More than 60 percent of the respondents in Foresters life insurance poll say "overuse of technology" has had a "negative impact" on their family life. On average, Americans spend six-and-a-half-hours a day using electronic devices outside of work. More than three-quarters believe it would be beneficial if everyone in their family took a one-hour break from technology each day. Over half of those surveyed admit they find it "at least somewhat annoying" when someone uses an electronic device during family meals. And with Thanksgiving just around the corner, 64 percent of the parents are wishing they could ban electronic devices from the table when the family gets together for their holiday dinner.

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