Matthew Hatfield / AP Photo

In Memory Of Murdered Pitt Student, 'Alina's Law' Would Further Protect Domestic Abuse Victims

Two months ago, the parents of University of Pittsburgh student Alina Sheykhet found her dead inside her Oakland apartment. The 20 year old had been raped and murdered, allegedly by her former boyfriend, against whom she'd filed a protection from abuse order weeks earlier.

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Politics & Government

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Taxes are likely to increase for Pittsburgh homebuyers so the city can pay for rental assistance, affordable housing construction and the rehabilitation of existing homes in the city.

 

City Council voted 7-2 Wednesday to give preliminary approval to an increase in next year's realty transfer tax from 4 percent to 4.5 percent. The revenue would fund the Housing Opportunity Fund and jump to 5 percent in 2020.

 

Chelsea Beck / NPR

After passing their respective tax overhaul bills, the U.S. House and Senate are trying to reconcile the differences in their legislation. While they do that, President Trump is making a renewed pitch to the American people about the importance of overhauling the tax code. Watch the speech live as it happens, and read President Trump's remarks with context and analysis from journalists across NPR.

Keystone Crossroads

The gerrymandering case that could force a new congressional map continued Tuesday in Harrisburg.

Eighteen Democrats are suing, alleging Pennsylvania’s map – considered the nation’s most gerrymandered, by some measures – was drawn unfairly by state GOP leaders to advantage Republicans.

So far, the minutiae of mapmaking have dominated testimony.

Science, Health & Tech

Don Ryan / AP Photo

Some homes with solar panel installations also have solar batteries, which store energy for later use. A Pittsburgh start-up has developed artificial intelligence software that could make those batteries more efficient. 

Currently, solar batteries with decision-making abilities can only do so based on real-time information. For example, on a cloudy day when solar panels might not produce enough electricity to power a house, a charged battery would automatically kick in to make up the difference.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

The Allegheny County Lead Task Force has released a series of recommendations with the goal of minimizing childhood lead exposure. 

This Ancient Penguin Was As Big As Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby

Dec 12, 2017
Gerald Mayr / Senckenberg Research Institute via AP

Fossils from New Zealand have revealed a giant penguin that was as big as a grown man, roughly the size of the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The creature was slightly shorter in length and about 20 pounds heavier than the official stats for hockey star Sidney Crosby. It measured nearly 5 feet, 10 inches long when swimming and weighed in at 223 pounds.

If the penguin and the Penguin faced off on the ice, however, things would look different. When standing, the ancient bird was maybe only 5-foot-3.

Identity & Justice

Kathleen J. Davis

A woman who worked at a Penn State satellite campus apparently was shot dead by her estranged husband in a university parking lot on Wednesday, and the man then killed himself, police said.

Matthew Hatfield / AP Photo

Two months ago, the parents of University of Pittsburgh student Alina Sheykhet found her dead inside her Oakland apartment. The 20 year old had been raped and murdered, allegedly by her former boyfriend, against whom she'd filed a protection from abuse order weeks earlier.

Education

Jim Mone / AP

A contentious proposal to let students use state money to pay for private school is getting another chance to make it onto the Senate floor.

Senate Bill 2 would create education savings accounts—a similar concept to private school vouchers—that would let students in the lowest-performing public schools use the money the state would have spent on their education for alternative school options, as well as related expenses like textbooks.

Good Question!

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Steps Are A Unique Asset, With An Uncertain Future

Pittsburgh is many kinds of city: it’s a sports city, it’s a robotics city, it’s a ketchup city. But at its most essential, Pittsburgh is a city of steep hills. In the early 1900s, public staircases were built all around the city to help people navigate challenging terrain.

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Development & Transportation

Gene J. Puskar

Pittsburgh’s riverfronts host a vast range of activity: industrial, residential and recreational. That diversity lends vitality to the 35 miles of riverfront along the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, but it’s bedeviling for zoning, said Riverfront Development Coordinator Andrea Lavin Kossis.

“The zoning that already exists isn’t always doing a great job with the different kinds of developments that are coming these days," she said. 

Arts, Sports, & Culture

Allicia Leaper / Crush Photography via AP

A beloved Santa with "naughty" tattooed on one arm and "nice" tattooed on the other has been asked to tone down his typically goofy poses at a suburban Philadelphia mall, leaving some fans miffed.

Scott Diethorne is known for silly poses like hanging kids upside down and flashing his "naughty" or "nice" forearms.

Customers tell Philly.com that when they arrived at the Oxford Valley Mall in Bucks County for their annual photos recently, they learned Santa Scott could only take "traditional" Christmas pictures — no tattoos or upside-down poses.

Frank Victores / AP

 

In Monday night’s contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was taken off field during the first quarter with a back injury that reportedly caused him to momentarily lose feeling below the waist. The game was called “vicious” by many, but others, including Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, say that violence is normal for AFC North football.

Environment & Energy

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The company behind a new coal mine in Somerset County intends to open another in the area, and some residents worry the new operation could hurt their water quality.

The Keyser underground mine would produce metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel. Wilson Creek Energy, a subsidiary of Corsa Coal Corp., is seeking permits from the Department of Environmental Protection to begin operations.

Economy & Business

Katie Blackley / WESA

 

The city of Pittsburgh is preparing to defend two laws that would impact local workers – one requiring private employers to offer paid sick leave, and another creating new training requirements for security officers in many city buildings.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently decide to hear cases challenging the laws early next year. 

So far, the city has lost in lower courts because, the courts found, it does not have the authority to impose these regulations on businesses.

 

Local Headlines

Keith Srakocic / AP

A man accused of killing a Pennsylvania police officer then leading law enforcement on a four-day manhunt with the help of his mother will stand trial.

Centre County Correctional Facility / AP

A son of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, serving decades for child molestation, was himself sentenced to prison Friday on child sexual abuse charges.

Judge Ponders Reinstated Charges In Penn State Frat Death Case

Dec 8, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A prosecutor Thursday used a press release to sharply criticize a judge hearing the case against former Penn State fraternity members charged in a pledge's drinking death. Defense attorneys accused her of violating rules of professional conduct.

"While this case may be unusual and novel in complexity and number of defendants, the court has an obligation to handle it properly and be fair to both sides," Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller wrote in a statement. "To date, it has failed miserably."

Food & Drink

Oh Boi-lo! Holiday Beverage Source Of Cheer And Warmth

Dec 11, 2017
Mike Steinhoff / Flickr

'Tis the season for a hot beverage that warms from the inside out.

For many residents of the coal region, that means it's time to heat up a batch of boilo.

The sweet citrus drink has remained a popular beverage for cold winter days, even as other traditions from coal region's eastern European immigrants have faded.

National & International

Ten years ago this month, you may not have noticed the cracking and crumbling under you.

At the time, you may have had a job, a home and rising retirement savings. Sure, the housing market was hurting a lot, but stock prices were still holding up and Federal Reserve policymakers were offering reasons for calm, saying they expected strong consumer spending.

Stories from National Partners

12/13/2017: The abuse liability of a drug

13 hours ago

“Delayed absorption as provided by OxyContin tablets, is believed to reduce the abuse liability of a drug.” That’s a sentence from OxyContin’s original label, and after months of investigation, Marketplace podcast The Uncertain Hour has found it an important factor in setting off the opioid crisis. And today we break down Janet Yellen’s last news conference and review the deal the House and Senate struck to move the tax bill along.

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