Today's News - Friday, March 29, 2014

Police say 25-year-old Tyler Reed, a homeless man from Johnstown, held up the USSCO Credit Union in Moxham this month to support his crack cocaine habit. Yesterday, a district judge ordered Reed to stand trial after he waived his preliminary hearing. Police say Reed told a teller he had a knife and fled with over $3,800 which was recovered when he was arrested. Customers chased him from the bank, tackled him and restrained him until the police arrived. Reed remains in the county prison.

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During a status conference yesterday in Cambria County Court, the judge decided 21-year-old Demetrius Gibson of Johnstown will stand trial in august for the stabbing death of his estranged girlfriend, Liz Miller, last summer. Jury selection will begin August 25. The murder happened in a car wash parking lot in the city’s Moxham neighborhood. Gibson remained a fugitive for nearly two weeks before turning himself in to police. The defense is hoping for an out-of-county jury.

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Democratic Senator Daylin Leach is introducing legislation that would put a statewide tax on plastic bags. He says the bill will encourage consumers to cut back on plastic bag usage. The 2-cents per bag tax, added to grocery bills, would be used for statewide recycling programs and stores’ recycling bills. The legislation is currently stalled in the Senate Finance Committee.

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Pennsylvania’s overall population rose slightly last year. Census estimates show the number, as of July 1, was 12,773,801 – 9,300 from the previous year. Philadelphia County had the largest increase and Luzerne County the biggest drop.

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A new report shows that Pennsylvania hospitals are cutting jobs. The State Department of Labor and Industry says hospitals eliminated 3,900 positions in the past year. The Hospital Association of Pennsylvania also surveyed the hospitals statewide and reports that two-thirds plan to freeze hiring, lay off current staff, cancel or delay renovations or building projects, and cut some services. HAP also says the federal government has reduced hospital payments since 2010 and more cuts are scheduled in their Medicare payments.

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Some first energy solutions customers are going to see a one-time fee on one of their upcoming bills. Mailers have been sent out notifying fixed-rate customers that they will be paying a one-time fee to help the company recoup losses incurred over the frigid winter. Officials say there is a clause in some fixed-rate contracts that allows first energy to charge the fee. The PUC ordered the clause be removed in November of 2013, but customers who signed a deal prior to that date will have to pay.

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Penn State is supporting Northwestern University’s decision to appeal the National Labor Relations Board ruling that Northwestern football players are employees of the university and should be allowed to unionize. Penn State spokesperson Lisa Powers said in a statement to “The Patriot” newspaper that “Penn State is fully committed to the bedrock principles of amateurism, and we believe that all Penn State student-athletes are students, not employees.” Wednesday’s ruling applies only to private universities. Public universities would first have to appeal to the state’s labor board to try and take a similar stance.

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President Obama is taking a trip to Saudi Arabia today. The President's visit to the country's capital Riyadh is aimed at reassuring the Saudis of American commitment to their security. Negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have created tension between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

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Rescuers are still looking for survivors in the deadly Washington state mudslide. The official death toll stands at 17, but that number is expected to change dramatically in the coming days. Several more bodies have been located but not yet recovered. The search continues for 90 people who are still listed as missing nearly a week after the massive mudslide.

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Crews searching for the missing Malaysian jet are coming up empty-handed. Flight 370 hasn't been seen or heard from since March 8. That's when the Boeing 777 took off from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board.

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A judge is delaying the testimony of Oscar Pistorius. The South African track star's murder trial has been postponed until April 7. The judge hearing the Blade Runner's case announced the move this morning, blaming the delay on a court staffer's illness.

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Enrollment on HealthCare.Gov is meeting White House expectations. The Obama administration says sign ups for the new health insurance exchanges are over 6 million. The deadline for enrollments is the end of the day Monday, March 31st.

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says a new report shows he isn't responsible for the so-called Bridgegate scandal. In an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC World News, Christie said the report mirrors what he said in January, that he had no knowledge of the bridge closing before it happened, nor did he have anything to do with it. The law firm that released the report was hired by Christie's office.

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Public smoking bans are helping to lower the number of premature births by ten percent. That's according to new research from the United States and Europe. The study in "The Lancet" medical journal found that rates of both pre-term births and hospital attendance for asthma fell by ten percent within a year of the smoke-free laws coming into effect.

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A Texas law restricting abortions is staying on the books. Today, a U.S. appeals court said it was reasonable to require abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital. Over one-third of the state's abortion providers have closed since the new law took effect.

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The U.S. Senate is voting Monday on an unemployment-benefit extension. The bipartisan bill cleared a key procedural hurdle Thursday. The bill extends jobless benefits for several months. Longterm federal aid expired in late December. House Speaker John Boehner says he's not interested in scheduling a vote.

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A convicted killer in Texas is dead. Anthony Doyle refused to give a final statement Thursday night before he was executed for the 2003 murder of a delivery driver. He was given the death penalty in 2004 for murdering the woman with a bat near his parents' house.

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The Secret Service is under scrutiny again after a traffic accident in Florida. Two counter-sniper officers assigned to President Obama's protection detail wrecked a rental car after they pulled out in front of a semi in Islamorada. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper suspected alcohol was involved in the early morning crash earlier this month but the agent passed a field sobriety test.

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Web companies say the number of federal information requests keeps going up. Google and Twitter were among those that published transparency reports Thursday. The numbers show the government is asking for more and more users' data. However, the pace of those requests has slowed down.

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A California man says his late wife is behind his big lottery win. KCRA reports Timothy McDaniel's wife died of a heart attack last Saturday and on Sunday he won $650,000 on a one-dollar scratcher. McDaniel says he feels like his wife was instrumental in sending him the money to take care of their grandchildren.

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Singer Christine McVie says she's definitely back on board with Fleetwood Mac for their next tour and it's coming to Pittsburgh. It's been 16 years since McVie left the band and the trek will mark the first time since then that the group has toured with all five of its key members. On NBC's "Today" show Thursday, McVie revealed her fear of flying as the reason why she stopped touring with the group all those years ago. Fleetwood Mac will be in Pittsburgh Tuesday, October 14th at Consol Energy Center.

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The tailgating pickup driver who was caught on video crashing after making an obscene gesture is under arrest. Florida Highway Patrol says they arrested Jeffrey White in Tampa. Troopers used the video posted online this week to arrest White on charges of leaving the scene of a traffic crash, careless driving, and failing to wear a seat belt.

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