Today's News - Thursday, February 20, 2014

Somerset County Deputy Coroner James Hahn died following a crash on an icy water level road in Milford Township about 9:30 Wednesday morning. His car collided head-on with another vehicle when the 17-year-old male driver lost control and crossed into the opposite lane. The 73-year-old Hahn was also a retired Somerset Borough police officer. The teenager suffered moderate injuries.

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The cost to house an inmate at the Cambria County Prison dropped by about $6 a day compared to the year before. According to “The Tribune-Democrat,” Warden John Prebish released his annual report to the prison’s board which detailed that it took an average of $47.91 a day to house an inmate in 2013, compared to $54 in 2012. The reduction happened in spite of increases for food and labor costs.

 

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In Johnstown’s federal court, sentencing has been postponed until May 13th for 43-year-old George Lowmaster of Carrolltown. He faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of running a huge drug ring in several counties for many years. Twenty-five other people, including Lowmaster’s parents, also pleaded guilty to being involved.

 

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Additional charges have been against two women accused of robbing a home in the West End sectin of Johnstown over the weekend. Police were searching for 23-year-old Stephanie Huff and 19-year-old Meaghen McKenzie when they found them in a home on Park Avenue in Moxham. Police also found marijuana, drug paraphernalia and an 8-month-old baby. The women were charged with child endangerment, possession and other charges. A third person at the home, 19-year-old Seth Ferg, had drugs on him and was also charged. The three are in the Cambria County Prison.

 

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The public defender representing 18-year-old Penn State Altoona student Vladislov Miftakhov is asking a federal judge to re-affirm his decision last week to grant him bail. Police found homemade bombs when they searched the Russian native’s Juniata apartment last month. According to the “Altoona Mirror,” the lawyer says Miftakhov is not a threat and should be released into his mother’s custody. She lives in California. The prosecutor says Miftakhov is a flight risk and a citizen of Russia. He was on scholarship, studying electrical engineering.

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Attorneys for Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley are still hoping to have perjury, child endangerment and conspiracy charges thrown out. According to StateCollege.com, the lawyers claim the judge and Deputy Attorney General in the Jerry Sandusky grand jury investigation acted unfairly. They are still battling over the role played by former Penn State general counsel Cynthia Baldwin. A trial has not yet been scheduled.

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Eric Barron’s last day as president of Florida State University is April 2. Then, on May 12th, he will become Penn State’s 18th president, replacing the retiring Rodney Erickson. Florida State’s governing board accepted Barron’s resignation during a special meeting Wednesday. Barron will have a little more than a month to shadow Erickson to ensure a smooth transition of power. Barron was previously on Penn State’s staff for 20 years as a professor and later as Dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

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Airlines are being warned about the possibility of a shoe-bomb threat. The Department of Homeland Security is telling airlines to pay special attention to overseas flights entering the U.S. The bulletin urges screeners to use explosive trace detection swabs to check passengers shoes.

 

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A second Wisconsin National Guard soldier is suspended over photos of troops apparently making fun of military funerals. Specialist Terry Harrison was suspended first after she put up the images of the group goofing off in front of a flag-draped casket during training. Now Sergeant Luis Jimenez has been reassigned over comments he posted online in support of Harrison.

 

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The West Coast appears to be home to the latest Powerball winner. One winning ticket for last night's massive jackpot was sold in Milpitas, Cali. That's in Santa Clara County. The ticket is worth more than $425 million with a cash value of just over $238 million.

 

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If "Craigslist Murder" suspect Miranda Barbour is convicted, her father says he'll support her execution. Sonny Dean said Wednesday that if his daughter is sentenced to death in the killing of Troy LaFerrara, he'll hold LaFerrara's widow's hand as his daughter is executed. Dean also told the "Daily Item" newspaper of Sunbury, Pennsylvania that he believes Barbour might have been involved in more than one murder, but might also simply be a liar.

 

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President Obama is touting free trade among the U.S., Canada and Mexico. During a news conference yesterday in Mexico, Obama said the three nations will also continue to cooperate on energy and efforts to reduce carbon pollution. Obama took part in a North America summit with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

 

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A ten-year-old Missouri girl didn't know the man who's accused of killing her. Officers have arrested 45-year-old Craig Michael Wood on suspicion of first-degree murder and kidnapping. He's suspected of luring Hailey Owens into his pickup truck in Springfield on Tuesday.

 

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The Department of Homeland Security is dropping plans to create a national license-plate tracking system. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency wanted to develop a database from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle passing by the machines. Officials said the information would have helped apprehend fugitive illegal immigrants, but privacy advocates raised concerns.

 

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President Obama is putting pressure on Ukraine over violent anti-government protests. During a Wednesday news conference in Mexico, the President said the Ukrainian government and military have a responsibility to show restraint in confrontations with protesters. Obama expressed optimism about an announcement by Ukraine's president that he will negotiate with opposition leaders to stop further bloodshed.  

 

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Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman is planning to appeal a court ruling that would keep the Keystone XL pipeline out of his state. A state judge Wednesday invalidated the governor's decision to allow the controversial pipeline to pass through Nebraska. The court order says landowners' objections to the pipeline were upheld because the Governor's decision was based on "an unconstitutional statute."

 

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Authorities are investigating the deaths of two former Navy SEALs working as security officers on the container ship portrayed in the movie, "Captain Phillips." The Maersk Alabama was docked in Port Victoria in the Seychelles and police there say Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy were found dead Tuesday in Kennedy's cabin.  Police are not saying how the two men died.

 

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The suspected Colorado movie theater gunman is being ordered to undergo another sanity evaluation. Judge Carlos Samour said that a new team of psychologists chosen by the state will conduct the exam of James Holmes. The judge wrote that the new exam will look only into whether Holmes was sane the night he allegedly killed 12 people and wounded dozens more at an Aurora theater.

 

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A Georgia court is taking Martin Luther King's Bible and Nobel Peace Prize out of the hands of his feuding children. The family heirlooms are the subject of a legal battle for control among his kids. The items will be kept in a safe deposit box until their court case is resolved.

 

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Philip Seymour Hoffman's last wish for his son is that he be raised in New York. The contents of Hoffman's will, unveiled Wednesday, show the Oscar winner insisted that longtime girlfriend Mimi O'Donnell raise their son Cooper in "Chicago, Illinois or San Francisco, California," if not New York. Hoffman stated that he wants his son to be exposed to the "culture, art and architecture that such cities offer."

 

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Facebook is adding to its arsenal. The company has plunked down a reported 19-billion dollars for the mobile voice messenger app known as WhatsApp. Facebook says the acquisition includes four billion dollars in cash, approximately 12-billion-dollars worth of Facebook shares and an additional three-billion-dollars in restricted stock units for WhatsApp's founders and employees.

 

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A major university is the latest victim of hackers. The University of Maryland confirms the school's database had been breached, exposing records containing personal information. The database contained more than 300 thousand records of students, faculty and staff, including names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth.

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