Today News - Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In Cambria County Court yesterday, an East Taylor Township police officer testified that 38-year-old Brian Roles Sr. admitted he was driving when his pickup crashed along Route 271 last year, killing his 16-year-old son, Brian Jr. The officer says Roles was visibly drunk. Roles is charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs. Earlier this week, the defense claimed the teenager was behind the wheel.

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Authorities say that the death of a man found in Old Conemaugh Borough last summer was not suspicious. 57-year-old Robert Berkheimer died from blunt force trauma to the head, but Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski tells “The Tribune-Democrat” Berk­heimer’s injuries are consistent with a fall. Toxicology results showed no drugs and just a trace of alcohol in Berkheimer’s system. He had a pipe wrench with him and authorities think he may have been attempting a break-in to steal copper.

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State and local officials were on hand yesterday as ground was broken for an 11-mile, limited-access,four4-lane highway linking Meyersdale and Somerset. When completed, the new stretch of U.S. Route 219 is expected to spark economic development and improve safety conditions for drivers. The main construction work is scheduled to get underway next month. The project, which is expected to cost approximately $300 million, will be federally funded through the Appalachian Regional Commission.

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Local unemployment rates for July are out. The Department of Labor and Industry says Cambria and Bedford County dropped one-tenth to 8.7 and 9.1. Blair County’s number held steady at 6.8 percent.

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As we head into Labor Day weekend, AAA Fuel Gauge says Western PA gas prices increased almost to $3.59 this week. Today's national average stands at $3.54, fractions of a penny more than one week ago. Unrest and violence in the Middle East and North Africa are keeping global oil prices higher than recent summers.

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Here’s some good news for those who get home energy assistance. The Department of Public Welfare says some leftover federal funding will go towards mostly older adults and people with disabilities to help them pay their utility bills. More than 122-thousand households will get an extra $200. The heating assistance season begins in November.

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“The Centre Daily Times” reports that Penn State has settled with 25 men who claim they were abused by Jerry Sandusky. Lawyer Michael Rozen says their claims were vetted and the university went to “great lengths to verify and corroborate the stories” told by the men. Penn State has authorized $60 million for the settlements. There are six remaining claimants and Rozen says he expects one to settle, and one may file a lawsuit. Another has already filed a suit in federal court. Rozen says the last three have not provided any “credible evidence” to support their claims.

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A U.S. military strike against Syria may come soon, possibly as early as tomorrow.  Senior U.S. officials are telling NBC News that the U.S. could hit Syria with three days of missile attacks.  They say it would be meant to send a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rather than to topple him from power or cripple his military. 

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The “New York Times” website is back in business this morning after it was hacked yesterday.  Computer hackers calling themselves the “Syrian Electronic Army” claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday afternoon.  The Syrian Electronic Army supports embattled President Bashar Assad.

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President Obama marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington today.  Obama will be the featured speaker in an event at the Lincoln Memorial.  Obama will speak from the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, 50 years ago today.

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Jury deliberations get underway today in the sentencing phase of the court-martial for the man who carried out the deadly shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas.  Major Nidal Hasan represented himself through the proceedings and didn't do much to defend himself. 

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Fire crews in California have their hands full with a raging blaze near Yosemite National Park.  The Rim Fire has destroyed at least 111 structures, including 31 homes.  About 4,500 homes northwest of the fire and two groves of giant sequoias and some historic landmarks are being threatened.

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Actor Alec Baldwin is making headlines for yet another altercation with a photographer.  Pictures posted on TMZ.com show the “30 Rock” star grabbing a photog from behind on a New York street Tuesday.  Police apparently showed up after the photographer called for help.  He claims he did nothing to provoke the actor, only asking him questions before he says Baldwin “flipped” out on him.

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