Today's News - Thursday, October 10, 2013

According to the Cambria County Coroner, two bodies – one man and one woman – were found inside a house on Benshoff Street in the Minersville section of Johnstown around 9:20 last night. Police cordoned off the entire block, but believe this to be an isolated incident. More details are expected today.

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In Johnstown’s Federal Court yesterday, Marguerite Lowmaster of Carrolltown pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver marijuana. She admitted to conspiring with her son, George Lowmaster, the accused kingpin of a huge drug ring that involved dozens of people and operated throughout Cambria County. Marguerite faces up to five years in prison when she’s sentenced in February. Jury selection for George Lowmaster’s trial is to begin October 28th. He’s looking at life in prison if convicted on all charges. Lowmaster’s father, Gerald, is also headed to court.

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Testimony is scheduled to begin today for the murder trial of a former Cambria County Prison inmate. 22-year-old William Cramer is accused of using a bedsheet to strangle his cellmate, 28-year-old William Sherry of Northern Cambria in August of last year, then trying to make it look like a suicide. They had only been sharing the cell for a few hours and Cramer was awaiting transfer to a state lockup.

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Despite yesterday’s story warning that home heating could be very expensive this year, Peoples Natural Gas tells “The Altoona Mirror” customers are paying less for their natural gas and may continue to do so for quite a while. AS of October 1, the cost recovery rate dropped from $4.59 per cubic feet to $4.32, which translates into about a $2 savings per month. A spokesman says the company has a strong supply situation as a result of the big Marcellus Shale deposits.

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A federal judge said Wednesday he would not set a trial date just yet for a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage. The judge wants to consider and rule on pre-trial motions, particularly one that claims the federal courts lack jurisdiction over state marriage laws. The judge plans to make his decisions by mid-November and a trial date could be set shortly thereafter.

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The state is putting web rankings of three thousand schools in the state online, but some of the performance information is missing. The School Performance Profiles are a way to compare schools in a number of areas. The acting education secretary has said the data is going out incomplete partly to meet federal guidelines. The Pittsburgh Public Schools watchdog group A Plus Schools says it won't put out its report until the state updates school scores later this year.

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President Obama will talk with a group of House Republicans today to discuss the partial shutdown of the federal government. Today's meeting follows a similar White House chat with House Democrats yesterday. Republicans and Democrats have not been able to break an impasse over continued government funding.

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The cost of shutting down national parks to surrounding economies is nearing a billion dollars. According to numbers from the Coalition for National Park Service Retirees, more than 700 thousand people visit national parks on an average October day. They’d spend about $76 million at the park and at local businesses.

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A former police officer is dead following a shooting at a West Virginia federal building. Witnesses say the suspect fired more than 20 shots before he was taken down by officers yesterday. The Wheeling, West Virginia chief of police said the gunman retired from the department in 2000, but would not confirm his identity.

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A Kentucky pastor is in jail, charged with murdering three people at a pawn shop last month. Police in Danville, south of Lexington, arrested 48-year old Kenneth Keith yesterday afternoon. Keith is accused of killing the couple who owned the shop and another man on September 20th.

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A new study claims New York City is getting hotter and cooling off doesn’t appear likely. Climate researchers say after 2047, temperatures in America’s biggest city won't return to the historical averages of the past 150 years. The study is in this week’s edition of the journal “Science.”

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The producers of the reality series “19 Kids and Counting” may need to have a new logo designed – again. The stars of the TLC show, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, have announced they’re trying to have another child.

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A new study has found that the average computer and smartphone-using American has lost almost five days worth of time due to the slow performance of gadgets. A poll, conducted by SanDisk, found that 53 percent of respondents reported frustration with a laptop or desktop computer, compared to 22 percent with a smartphone.

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The federal government shutdown is turning off the tap on new beers. A little known division of the Treasury Department must approve any new bottled or canned beers that cross state lines. The shutdown is leaving many breweries of craft beers with a backlog waiting for approval of their seasonal offerings.

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Jeffrey Katzenberg says he was willing to pay millions for more episodes of “Breaking Bad.” The DreamWorks Animation boss says he offered creator Vince Gilligan $75 million to make three additional episodes beyond the show’s recent finale on AMC.

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A toilet problem is being blamed for causing a Tokyo-bound Japan Airlines Boeing 787 to turn around and return to Moscow. A spokesman for the Japanese carrier said an electrical glitch was the likely cause for the lavatory malfunction forcing the flight carrying 141 passengers to head back to Moscow.
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Pasadena City College’s “Porn Professor” is calling it quits. Professor Hugo Schwyzer announced today he has resigned from his teaching post at the college, saying on Facebook that he wanted to express his “appreciation and thanks to his students and colleagues” Schwyzer made headlines earlier in the year when he invited a number of porn stars to speak in his “Navigating Pornography” class, with opponents saying such a class shouldn’t be offered at the school.

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