Today's News - Thursday, May 8, 2014

“The Tribune-Democrat” reports that four airlines are competing for millions of dollars in federal subsidies to operate flights to the Altoona Blair County Airport and the Johnstown Cambria County Airport. Silver Airways of Florida currently receives $4 million a year in federal essential air service subsidies for flights between Johnstown-Altoona and Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.. Its contract ends in June. Also submitting proposals were: City Link Air of Florida, Boutique Air of Las Vegas and Sunair of Florida. No word when decisions will be made.

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Johnstown pain management Doctor Glenn Davis was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday and taken into custody Wednesday. His home and office were raided by federal agents last May and the U.S. Attorney’s office says Davis was giving out excessive amounts of prescription pain medicine. Davis is due in court Monday. If convicted, he could face 20 years in prison, a fine of $1 million or both.

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Cambria County officials say that the heroin that led to a dozen overdoses in the Greater Johnstown area last week did not contain the painkiller fentanyl, but it was clearly powerful. That combination had been linked to at least 22 deaths in the Pittsburgh area earlier this year. Officials also said two additional arrests have been made for dealing the “7 of hearts” heroin. Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan says Irief Littleberry and a 17-year-old girl are in custody along with Aaron Walters of Johnstown. Police found heroin, fentanyl, and drug paraphernalia at his home two weeks ago.

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Twenty-six-year-old Chad Flick escaped from the state prison in Greene County early this month after faking a heart attack. Police received a tip and he was arrested without incident Wednesday morning at an apartment at 800 East Main Street in Somerset. He’s been turned over to agents from the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.

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Voting ends at 9 a.m. today in the Penn State board of trustees election. Updated voting numbers released Wednesday show 29,208 alumni have cast ballots. Last year, about 33,000 had voted going into the final day. The results will be announced tomorrow at the trustees meeting at University Park.

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Legislation to regulate businesses that offer body piercings and tattoos is on its way to the Senate. The bill was passed by the House yesterday and would require body art facilities to obtain a license that would be renewed annually and could be revoked for violations. The Department of Health would set health and safety standards for the businesses and would conduct random inspections.

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A bill that would expand the state's prescription drug monitoring program is on its way to the House of Representatives. Senator Pat Vance, who wrote the bill said yesterday it would create a board to oversee an electronic database of all prescribed controlled substances. The bill would prevent drug abusers from "doctor shopping" to receive medications.

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Members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee will gather this morning to discuss the growing scandal involving the Veterans Administration. Serious questions about patient care at VA health clinics have been raised in Arizona and Colorado. Dozens of veterans may have died while waiting for appointments to be set at the VA clinic in Phoenix and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has been under increasing pressure to resign.

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The Republican-led House is holding former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. Lerner is at the center of the controversy over IRS targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny. Lerner cited constitutional protections and refused to answer questions during congressional hearings.

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The Internal Revenue Service audited ten percent of Americans who donated money to Tea Party groups. IRS commissioner John Koskinen testified to that fact before an oversight panel of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday. That's ten times the audit rate for all taxpayers.

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Investigators say a fire that killed four people inside a Florida home owned by former tennis star James Blake was intentionally set. Blake had rented out the Tampa mansion and his management company says Blake was in Connecticut when the fire occurred.

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A hearing is planned for today for the convicted Dallas rapist who was given probation because a judge believed the victim "wasn't the victim she claimed to be." Dallas County prosecutors have been pushing for new terms to Sir Young's probation ever since Judge Jeanine Howard made the comment to "The Dallas Morning News" last week.

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Severe and potentially dangerous weather is bearing down on some 40 million Americans. The huge weather system stretches from Texas to the Upper Midwest. Forecasters say storms today could unleash hail, frequent lightning strikes, heavy rains and flooding, and damaging winds, including tornadoes. People in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are directly in the storm's path.

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President Obama says we can eliminate all evil in the world. Speaking at the Shoah Foundation's 20th anniversary event Wednesday night at the University of Southern California, Obama stressed the importance of choosing "empathy over indifference." The Shoah Foundation was founded by Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg to document the horrors of the Holocaust.

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A bill that would create the nation's first financial co-op for marijuana retailers is advancing in Colorado. The Senate approved the measure Wednesday. Supporters of the bill say it'll take some of the cash out of the pot business, which should make those firms less of a target for crime.

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A team of military personnel will be arriving in Nigeria in the next few days to help in the search for hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls. The Pentagon says the team will be made up of logistics and communication experts. They will be joined by FBI agents with expertise in hostage negotiations and criminal investigations. An Islamist militant group is claiming responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls and vows to sell them as slaves.

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Attorneys for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are working to spare their client's life. They asked a federal judge Wednesday to declare the death penalty unconstitutional. The lawyers argue the federal death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

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The Democratic nomination for North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District is still too close to call. It could be several days, maybe even a week, before Clay Aiken or Keith Crisco is declared the winner. Right now, election officials are counting 276 absentee and provisional ballots.

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The Drug Enforcement Administration is cracking down on synthetic drugs. DEA officials say a nationwide operation is targeting the distribution and trafficking of synthetic drugs in roughly two-dozen states. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy says synthetic drugs, or designer drugs, pose tremendous health risks and represent a rapidly emerging threat.

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At least one former Southern California school official isn't surprised about the news that students at a school were holding a NFL-style draft to pick prom dates. Jane Garland tells the "Los Angeles Times" students at Corona del Mar High School live up to the stereotypes tied to Newport Beach and its entitlement culture. Garland was the head of discipline for the school district until she resigned this year after eleven students at Corona del Mar were expelled for cheating.

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A race-car driver who was paralyzed in an accident 14 years ago is getting the chance to hit the track at Indianapolis once again. An accident left Sam Schmidt paralyzed from the neck down, but thanks to two Colorado companies the former professional driver will attempt to hit 100 miles-per hour during Indy 500 festivities this month. The team has created a tricked-out 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray that Schmidt can drive entirely by the movement of his head and the clenching of his teeth.

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The late Tupac Shakur's mother, Afeni Shakur, is joining forces with The Trayvon Martin Foundation to provide support to mothers who have lost children to gun violence. Afeni will provide the keynote address at the foundation's Circle of Mothers later this month.

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A New Hampshire man has won the right to broadcast his dislike of law enforcement on his vanity license plate. The New Hampshire Supreme Court decided that the state was wrong to block David Montenegro's request for a personalized license plate reading "COPSLIE." Montenegro applied for the plate back in 2010, but was blocked because the words were considered "insulting."

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Most Americans plan to buy a gift for Mother's Day, yet very few feel confident their mom will like it. RetailMeNot.com just released its Mother's Day Poll, which shows 91 percent of Americans plan on buying their mom a gift this year. Of those, 85 percent said they are worried about choosing the wrong gift.

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