Today's News - Friday, August 8, 2014

For the second time this summer, Johnstown’s Inclined Plane has been shut down due to an apparent electrical issue. It was closed for more than three weeks after two resistors failed on June 28 during Thunder In The Valley, and now during the AAABA Baseball Tournament. Camtran officials expect the problem to be fixed quickly.

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38-year-old Michael Kitzmiller of Johnstown waived his preliminary hearing yesterday. He’s charged with knocking out a woman late last month and raping her while she was unconscious in front of her 5-year-old son. Kitzmiller is in the Cambria County Prison.

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The list of charges keeps growing against 28-year-old Jon Beltz Jr. of Johnstown. West Hills Regional Police say he and Nicole Cairns went door to door with a small child in May and June selling Little Caesar’s pizza kits, then they used the money to buy heroin. The pizza and cinnamon sticks were never delivered. The list of victims now stands at 69 and counting.

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State Attorney General Kathleen Kane says four people have now been charged with stealing at least $162 thousand in a "grandparent scam." The investigation identified 11 senior citizens in eight states as known victims. One Texas woman is out almost $65 thousand and an Altoona woman wired a total of $4,000. Spencer Compas, Witson Lavilette, and Johanne Wesh, all of the Philadelphia area, are being held on $1 million bail with a preliminary hearing set for August 21. An arrest warrant is still active for Kens Wesh, who is believed to be in New York City. They allegedly called victims and told them their grandchild had been arrested and needed money wired immediately.

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Robert Bourne of Lancaster County is jailed and accused of threatening the state attorney general. Authorities say Bourne called the AG’s office Wednesday and said he intended to travel to Harrisburg the following day to kill Kathleen Kane and the person who answered the call. Bail is set at $250 thousand.

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Hurricane Iselle is being downgraded to a tropical storm. Forecasters had said the first of two hurricanes heading for Hawaii might hit the Big Island as a Category One hurricane. Iselle could dump up to eight inches of rain on the Big Island.

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The World Health Organization is declaring the Ebola epidemic an international health risk. The Geneva-based health agency also said today that the Ebola virus is an "extraordinary event" that is "particularly serious." The WHO is calling for a coordinated international response to stop and reverse the spread of Ebola.

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President Obama is authorizing "targeted airstrikes" in Iraq to protect U.S. personnel and facilities there. Addressing the nation from the White House Thursday, the President said he also ordered humanitarian air drops to help thousands of Iraqis who are stranded atop a mountain. The Iraqis became trapped after fleeing Islamist militants.

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The director of the CDC claims the deadly Ebola virus can be controlled and stopped. In a House hearing Thursday, Dr. Tom Frieden said it must be stopped at its source in Africa. Frieden is confident that there will not be a large Ebola outbreak in the U.S. Meantime, the U.S. is ordering the relatives of its embassy employees in Liberia to leave the country.

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Closing arguments are under way again in the murder trial of South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius. Defense attorney Barry Roux is expected to finish his final statement to the court today. Pistorius is accused of intentionally killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp when he shot her through a bathroom door in 2013.

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Israel is renewing its air attacks on Gaza. A witness told the Reuters news service that a huge explosion and plume of smoke were visible in Gaza City today.

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A bill aimed at overhauling the troubled Veterans Affairs Department is in the books. President Obama signed the VA legislation at the Fort Belvoir Army base in Northern Virginia. He said all veterans should have access to the care they have earned and deserve.

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Barnes & Noble is teaming up with Google to offer same-day book deliveries. Google Shopping Express is handling the deliveries which started on Thursday to customers in New York City's Manhattan borough, West Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. The delivery deal comes as Barnes & Noble tries to compete with online retail giant Amazon.

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The Secret Service says an unusual intruder triggered a security alert at the White House Thursday. According to witnesses, Pennsylvania Avenue was shut down momentarily because an 18-month-old baby crawled through the fence and onto the north lawn triggering the alarm system. Secret Service agents returned the screaming child to his mom without asking any questions.

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The woman arrested for sneaking onto a flight from San Jose to Los Angeles is in more trouble. Marilyn Hartman was arrested again Thursday at Los Angeles International airport a day after she was ordered to stay away from LAX. Officials say the 62-year-old woman managed to sneak past security and board a Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose to LAX before she was caught and arrested Monday.

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