Today's News - Wednesday, September 18, 2013

87-year-old James Moore of the Johnstown area waived his preliminary hearing yesterday. He’s accused of raping a mentally challenged man at least three separate times at his Richland Township apartment. Moore was released after his arrest last week due to health problems. He's being supervised by family members.

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A preliminary hearing is scheduled today for 53-year-old Michael Grimm of Johnstown who is accused of raping a young boy over a 4 year period starting in 2005 when the boy was 6-years-old. The alleged victim says Grimm bought him a playstation and a dirt bike and threatened him with a hammer and a gun to keep him from talking about the abuse.

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State officials have scheduled a special election for January 28th to fill the 78th District State House seat. Longtime Representative Dick Hess, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, died earlier this month. The district covers all of Fulton County and parts of Bedford and Huntingdon Counties. Local party officials will choose candidates soon. The winner will only be in office for less than a year before the November 2014 election.

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is backing a ruling that says county commissioners can eliminate elected jury commissioner positions.  The governor signed a law that allows that if county commissioners are confident trials can still be fair and well managed.  The Pennsylvania State Association of Jury Commissioners had appealed the case.

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Three Pennsylvania appeals court judges heard a half-hour argument from Jerry Sandusky’s defense attorney yesterday in a Luzerne County courtroom. Norris Gelman says Sandusky was rushed to trial only seven months after his arrest. Gelman also thinks the trial judge mishandled jury instructions and a prosecutor made improper references to Sandusky not taking the stand in his own defense. No word when the judges will rule. Meanwhile, Sandusky continues his 30- to 60-year prison sentence. Sandusky did not attend the hearing, but his wife Dottie was.

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U.S. military facilities around the globe will be getting a security review in the wake of the deadly Washington Navy Yard shootings.  The review has been ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. It echoes a similar call by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. Gun control advocates are speaking out against the shootings that left 12 people dead.  A group gathered last night for a vigil in the nation's capital.  Those attending the vigil say they reacted to Monday's violence with fear, disbelief and anger about another mass shooting in the U.S.

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In the wake of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, Starbucks has reversed its long-standing policy that allowed firearms in its stores. Also, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is planning to make a major announcement about school security in his state today. The safety of the state’s schools has been the subject of much scrutiny since the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings last December.

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It’s being called the largest terrorism-related seizure in U.S. history: Monday’s court decision giving the government the go-ahead to take over a 36-story office building in New York City.  The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York says the office tower is a “front” for a major Iranian bank, and therefore, a front for the government of Iran.

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Home health care workers are now entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay.  Yesterday, the Labor Department passed a new rule granting those protections to people who bathe, dress, and feed the elderly and disabled in the patients’ homes.  It won’t go into effect until the start of 2015. 

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The Federal Reserve is expected to announce a plan to slightly scale back its bond buying program as it wraps up a closely-watched two-day meeting.  Most economists believe the Fed will scale back its monthly purchases by ten-billion dollars. 

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A 40-year-old man from Massachusetts who planned to cannibalize children will spend nearly 27 years in federal prison.  Geoffrey Portway was sentenced yesterday.  Prosecutors said he asked a Kansas man to kidnap a child for him to torture, kill, cook and eat in his soundproof dungeon.

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The U.S. is showing only slight improvement in an annual ranking of economic freedom.  It's dropped 15 places since 2000, from second place to 17th, but is up from last year's 18th place showing.  The Economic Freedom of the World Report gauges how supportive countries' policies and institutions are of economic freedom. 

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It looks as if it'll cost more for fans to attend the next Super Bowl.  The NFL is expected to raise ticket prices for the next Super Bowl to be played at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium in February.  The “Wall Street Journal” reports that a committee of NFL owners is likely to approve the plan that would more than double the prices charged for the best seats.  

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Physicist Stephen Hawking believes terminally ill patients should be able to decide when to end their lives. The world-renowned British scientist says he backs the right to die as long as there are safeguards. 

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A second commercial company will be launching a cargo ship to the International Space Station.  The scheduled lift off of Orbital Sciences' rocket is at 10:50 Wednesday morning, Eastern time.  If successful, Orbital Sciences will join privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, in bring supplies to the ISS.

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Wichita, Kansas is at the top of this year's list of worst American cities for people with fall allergies.  The list is part of a report from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.  Other cities high on the list are Jackson, Mississippi; Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee; and Louisville, Kentucky. 

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AAA Fuel Gauge says Western PA gas prices fell almost seven cents to $3.59 this week. Today’s national average for regular unleaded is $3.51, a nickel less expensive than one week ago, three cents less than one month ago and 35 cents less than the same day last year.

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A very big jackpot is on the line tonight.  The Powerball is worth an estimated $400 million and the lump sum cash option alone is more than $223 million. 

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