Today's News - Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A family member tells “The Tribune-Democrat” that Caressa Kovalcik’s baby daughter remains in critical condition at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. She was delivered by c-section Saturday after her nine months pregnant mother was fatally shot. Police have charged Kovalcik’s boyfriend, 25-year-old Denver Blough, with homicide. The couple also had an 11-month-old son.

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Police in Cambria County say St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Beaverdale and South Fork Cemetery were vandalized over the Memorial Day holiday. Nearly 200 brass flag holders on veterans’s gravesites were ripped out and stolen. Some dated back to World War I and World War II. Officials believe they were taken so the thieves could sell the brass. Area scrap yards are warned to be on high alert.

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Two bills that would eliminate some state government offices passed the Senate State Government Committee yesterday. They would shrink the house from 203 to 153 seats and the senate from 50 to 45 seats. The bills would also eliminate the lieutenant governor position and would have the senate president pro tempore succeed the governor if necessary. If the measures make it through the legislature, they will be brought to voters in a statewide referendum in 2015.

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After multiple noise violation citations from the state Liquor Control Board, Quaker Steak and Lube has requested Richland Township to take over noise enforcement. Over the past decade, some municipalities have made this move in order to make it easier for businesses that serve alcohol to have outdoor entertainment. Township officials say that research will need to be done on the matter, as well as a public hearing held, before any decision can be made.

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AAA Fuel Gauge says Western Pa. gas prices remained about the same, averaging $3.82 a gallon this week. On the national front, entering the summer months, AAA expects drivers will experience little relief and prices are likely to remain near a range of $3.55 to $3.70 per gallon. Currently, the national average for regular unleaded is $3.66 per gallon. This is about four cents more than on the same date last year.

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The Pittsburgh “Tribune-Review” reports that a judge reviewing State Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s investigation of how Governor Tom Corbett handled the Jerry Sandusky case as the state’s top prosecutor has approved the report and the document could be released soon. Kane’s inquiry into why it took Corbett three years to investigate and charge Sandusky needed the judge’s approval because the report contains grand jury testimony, which had expectations of secrecy. Kane wouldn’t go into specifics about the report, but she called it factual, fair and complete.

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President Obama is meeting with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko in Warsaw today. The meeting will signal continued strong U.S. support for Ukraine amid ongoing threats from Russia.

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A new video shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl being handed over to American custody. A Pentagon spokesman says the Defense Department is reviewing the video, but has no reason to doubt its authenticity. Meantime, an investigation into Bergdahl's disappearance in Afghanistan in 2009 reportedly indicates that he left the outpost of his own free will.

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The Brevard judge involved in a fight with a public defender earlier this week is now on temporary leave. Chief Judge John Harris said that Judge John Murphy will undergo anger management counseling during his leave. Criminal charges are unlikely since the judge and the public defender involved, Andrew Weinstock, didn't file a complaint.

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Senate leaders are squabbling over campaign financing and free speech. In a Senate hearing, Majority Leader Harry Reid ripped U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have removed restrictions on campaign financing. Reid testified that a flood of "shady money" is threatening the U.S. political system without limits or transparency.

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The NTSB says black box data indicates the brakes were being applied before a Gulfstream jet crashed last weekend outside Boston. Preliminary data from the flight data recorder shows reverse thrusters being deployed and brake pressure increasing. Seven people were killed in the crash last Saturday night.

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General Motors CEO Mary Barra appears likely to be cleared in an internal investigation of possible wrongdoing in the carmaker's recall crisis. The "New York Times" reports investigators are expected to find company executives, employees, and departments were responsible for the delayed recall of millions of cars for faulty ignition switches.

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A man arrested for walking through the finish line area of the Boston Marathon carrying a backpack on the anniversary of the 2013 attack will not face bomb threat charges. In April, Kevin Edson carried a backpack containing what he said was a rice cooker, which led to the evacuation of the area.

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The NRA is apologizing for calling Open Carry Texas' strategy "weird." Chris Cox told NRANews.com a staff member gave his "personal opinion" in last week's blog post criticizing OCT's strategy of carrying their rifles into restaurants as a way to show open carry is safe. Cox says the NRA made a mistake and the blog post shouldn't have happened.

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The head of the Cleveland Clinic is being considered as the next Department of Veterans Affairs secretary. Sources tell the "Wall Street Journal" Delos Cosgrove is being considered for nomination. The story says Cosgrove is seriously considering the position.

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It's been a wild day and night of weather for people living in the center of the country. Strong storms packing winds up to 100 miles an hour and baseball-sized hail rolled through the central plains. Heavy downpours led to flash flooding around Omaha causing the airport to close for several hours.

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Jonah Hill is apologizing for hurling a homophobic slur at a paparazzo over the weekend. Appearing on Howard Stern's radio show Tuesday, the "22 Jump Street" star said he was upset with himself because he's been a longtime supporter of gay rights. Hill explained he let the offensive word fly in a moment of weakness, saying the paparazzo had been following him around all day and saying hurtful things about his family and himself personally.

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Americans are becoming increasingly tolerant of many issues that were once thought to be taboo. A new Gallup poll shows 90 percent are now okay with using birth control. Divorce, premarital sex, stem cell research, gambling, having a baby outside of marriage and same-sex relationships were all found to be largely acceptable.

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A church in Alabama now thinks it was a bad idea to use a quote from Adolf Hitler on its billboard. Life Savers Ministries in Auburn had a billboard put up Friday that featured five smiling children next to the Nazi leader's quote saying, "He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future." The billboard created a firestorm of criticism on social media and it was taken down Tuesday.

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