Today's News - Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Somerset County judge yesterday sentenced Jonathan Beal of Meyersdale to 10 to 20 years in a state prison. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence for the 2012 strangulation of his on-again/off-again girlfriend, 19-year-old Justine Jackson. Police say Beal buried the body in a shallow grave and some hikers found it about two months later. District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser says Beal admitted to the murder, but they don’t have a motive and that’s why they couldn’t put together a first-degree murder case.

-0-

Despite the ice storm, the Penelec lockout continues, affecting more than 140 union employees. Penelec officials say they have brought in additional contractors to continue service to customers who lose power. In other Penelec news, customers will see a decrease in their bills starting Sunday. The residential rate for electricity will drop from $8.08 per kilowatt hour to $7.20. The average residential customers will save about $6 a month.

-0-

32-year-old Mandy Klinkner didn’t show up for her preliminary hearing yesterday, but a Somerset County district judge ordered her to be held for trial. Klinkner is accused of taking money she claimed was for a 4-year-old girl fighting cancer. Authorities say she sold fundraising booklets from Sheetz but failed to reimburse Sheetz and did not give any money to the child. Authorities are searching for Klinkner, who is free on unsecured bond.

-0-

Local DUI task forces are teaming up for a special holiday enforcement program called “Operation Safe Holiday.” A PennDOT spokesperson says the Thanksgiving holiday is the highest rated alcohol-consumption time of the year and they want to keep drunk drivers off the roads with saturation patrols and checkpoints. Last year, there were 4,323 total crashes statewide at thanksgiving with 53 fatalities. Christmas and new years together totaled 1,640 wrecks with 19 deaths.

-0-

A storm system stretching from South Florida to the Mid-Atlantic is on the move on the busiest travel day of the year.  As millions of Americans prepare to travel out of town today, they might need to pack a whole lot of patience with them.  The massive storm has been unloading heavy rain on West Virginia, Virginia and the Carolinas.

-0-

Top executives at Microsoft are meeting this week to find ways to beef up encryption of the company's Internet services to keep the National Security Agency from spying on users.  The "Washington Post" reports sources at Microsoft say the software giant is worried that the NSA might have broken into Microsoft's Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger services.

-0-

President Obama has now approved federal funding for 15 Illinois counties damaged in the recent deadly tornado outbreak.  The disaster declaration allows uninsured property owners to get low-cost loans, provides grants for temporary housing, and helps businesses recover from the storm’s effects. 

-0-

The adoptive parents of a nine-year-old Ohio boy are being indicted for abandoning him.  Forty-nine-year-old Cleveland Cox and his 52-year-old wife Lisa had raised the boy since he was three-months old.  They're due in court today.

-0-

A Connecticut judge is ordering the release of the 911 tapes made during last year's deadly shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Supreme Court Judge Eliot Prescott instructed officials to release the audio recordings by December 4th, giving the state time to appeal the ruling.

-0-

The Washington Redskins are taking more heat, this time for honoring the Navajo Code Talkers during their Monday Night Football game.  The Code Talkers created an unbreakable code during World War Two based on their complex Navajo language.  Some observers felt it was part of a campaign to avoid changing the team's name.

-0-

A teen who admitted to beheading four people in Mexico is now back on U.S. soil.  Edgar Lugo was born in San Diego, California and was only 14 when he beheaded four boys in Mexico.  He claims he was drugged and threatened by a drug cartel to carry out the acts and feared for his life.  The governor of Morelos says the now 17-year-old is living in San Antonio with family.

-0-

An annual report on dangerous toys is out in time for the holiday shopping season.  The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has released "Trouble in Toyland."  The report advises parents to carefully examine all toys for possible choking hazards, including tiny magnets and balls. 

-0-

Homeless adults in New York City won't have to prove they have nowhere to go before getting into a shelter.  Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed policy was struck down by New York's highest court Tuesday.  Opponents like mayor-elect Bill de Blasio applaud the ruling, saying such policies make it harder for families in need to access shelters.

-0-

A book published in 1640 has fetched a record price at auction.  The Puritan book of psalms sold for more than $14 million at Sotheby's in New York on Tuesday.  David Rubenstein of the Washington, DC-base investment firm Carlyle Group made the purchase of what is known as the Bay Psalm Book.  The book is believed to be the first printed in English in North America.

-0-

SeaWorld’s float will be part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade despite an online petition with more than 80 thousand signatures and opposition from several animal-welfare groups and celebrities.  SeaWorld has an image problem thanks in large part to the recent documentary film "Blackfish." 

-0-

For the first time in many years, Thanksgiving and the Jewish holiday Hanukkah are converging.   The so-called Festival of Lights begins at sundown Wednesday and the first full day of the eight-day celebration is on Thanksgiving Day.  This is a rare meeting of the quinticential American and Jewish holidays with the next meeting of the two holidays not appearing for thousands of years into the future.

-0-

Motorists are paying a bit more when filling up their tanks this week for Thanksgiving travel. AAA Fuel Gauge says Western Pa. gas prices rose five cents to $3.38 this week. After falling to a multi-year low of $3.18 per gallon on November 12th, the national average has increased for 14 straight days and jumped 11 cents to a current average of $3.29. Today’s national average price at the pump is 8 cents more expensive than one week ago, but it remains a penny cheaper than one month ago and 14 cents less than the same date last year.

Category: