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Physicians in Pennsylvania can now register to participate in the state’s forthcoming medical marijuana program.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The historic Hunt Armory in Shadyside has been through a lot. It housed weapons and a unit of the Army National Guard, hosted home shows and polo matches, survived a fire in 2010 and a failed redevelopment attempt in 2016.

Those plans, for an Olympic-size ice rink and cafe, were sunk by lack of funding. In May, the Urban Redevelopment Authority requested new proposals that preserve the building and provide community recreation space.

Is Fracking An Environmental Justice Issue?

10 hours ago
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Kirk Jalbert started thinking about fracking and environmental justice last year.

Matt Rourke / AP, file

Federal authorities say Philadelphia Congressman Bob Brady agreed to pay $90,000 from his campaign fund to get a rival out of the 2012 Democratic primary.

Brady hasn't been charged, but prosecutors say in a court filing that he authorized a $90,000 money transfer to retire the campaign debt of his opponent Jimmie Moore, who dropped out of the race months before the primary.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The environmental engineer who worked to expose the Flint lead crisis in 2014 said Pittsburgh’s drinking water lead levels are higher than the Michigan city, but he’s encouraged by downward trends.

perzsonseo.com / Flickr

The way people buy things—both in Pennsylvania, and around the country—is changing.

Online shopping is on the rise, and sales in physical stores have correspondingly declined. But what hasn’t changed much in Pennsylvania is how it taxes sales. And that’s losing the commonwealth money.

Pennsylvania ended the last fiscal year with revenue from its 6 percent tax around 2 percent below projections—a blow that contributed to its substantial budget shortfall.

Matt Rourke / AP

State Senators are scheduled to return to session Wednesday for a two-day stint, in an effort to iron out differences in a budget that’s nearly a month overdue.

The chamber plans to pick up where it left negotiations two weeks ago, and appears to be largely disregarding last week’s House session.

The major options being considered to fill a $2 billion gap in the $32 billion budget have been borrowing against a state fund to plug last year’s significant shortfall, select fund transfers, and a gambling expansion.

Leaders have also floated some form of tax increase.

Carnegie Mellon University

John Essey and his wife Adrienne recently sold their house in Dormont and moved to Allison Park to be closer to family.

Essey said his “excessive” collection of sensors in his Dormont home was both a selling point and a drawback for potential buyers.

“They were impressed, and it was nice for someone who was tech minded, but some people were still kind of put off as far as why all these sensors were in your house? Do you have cameras? What’s the purpose of these things?” Essey said.

Duquesne School of Law / Facebook

A $7.5 million grant will help Duquesne Law School lead an effort to improve continuing education programs for Pennsylvania's judges, district judges, senior judges and justices.

Duquesne announced Tuesday the donation from alumnus Tom Kline that will create a center for judicial education named for the Philadelphia lawyer.

The state Supreme Court in December imposed a requirement that judges annually complete at least three hours of training in ethics and nine hours on other aspects of their job.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A few dozen protesters gathered outside of Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai’s McCandless office Tuesday, calling on the Republican representative to balance the budget by taxing natural gas and corporations.

Pine Township resident Linda Bishop led a small group of constituents into the office with a list of concerns. Others representing SEIU unions, the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network and Fight for $15, stayed outside chanting for more funding for education and fewer tax cuts to corporations.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed two measures Tuesday to clear the pipeline for removing and replacing the city’s lead water service lines.

The first measure allows the city to work with property owners to replace lead service lines on private property. The second requires property sellers to test for lead pipes and disclose those findings to the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

As U.S. Senators passed a bill that would allow them to continue debating over a replacement for the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and other top Pennsylvania officials warned that the bill would leave hundreds of thousands in the state uninsured.

National Energy Technology Laboratory

Researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory south of Pittsburgh are discovering valuable rare earth elements in coal waste.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

One afternoon nearly three years ago, Masedi Thata Kewamodimo walked to the radio station near her university in Botswana and said she wanted to go public about being HIV positive. Now she is visiting Duquesne University through the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

Back home, she focuses on HIV advocacy and helping people cope with the daily challenges of the stigmatizing status by speaking on government-owned radio stations, which reach everyone in the country. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania union leaders are attempting to chart a new course after decades of declining membership.

As members have dwindled, unions' once-strong political sway toward the Democratic party has also shifted.

The change was especially apparent last year, when an overwhelming number of white, union or former union members voted for Donald Trump.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's one of only four states that still hasn't passed a budget for the fiscal year that ended in June.

Retired Priest Accused Of Forcing Boy To Perform Oral Sex

Jul 25, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A now-retired Roman Catholic priest was charged Monday with forcing a 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy to perform oral sex on him while counseling the fourth-grader about misbehaving on a school bus.

The state attorney general's office accused the Rev. John Thomas Sweeney of committing felony involuntary deviate sexual intercourse at St. Margaret Mary Elementary School in Lower Burrell during the 1991-92 school year.

Kathy Willens / AP

A major toy manufacturer plans to hire about 400 new workers to staff a new distribution center in eastern Pennsylvania.

Mattel has opened the 1 million-square-foot center in the Gateway Logistics Park area of Jonestown.

The company will package popular toys including Barbie and Hot Wheels brands at the center, which will also handle Mega Brands and, eventually, Fisher-Price. The company says the center will employ as many as 400 during peak season.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

The federal government doesn't track how often or what happens when police shoot civilians, and there's no official national database to show how big or complex the problem is.

Journalist Ben Montgomery said he learned a lot by requesting documents from more than 400 jurisdictions in Florida alone. In six years and more than 800 shootings, not one incident resulted in criminal charges.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Asia Parker wants to be a mathematics professor.

“Math is just amazing. You can do anything,” she said.

Parker, 17 from Carrick, waited in a Duquesne University laboratory near a kiln heating materials she was using in semi-conductor experiments. Semi-conductors are often used in computers and solar panels. The high school senior wants to make new compounds for Jennifer Aitken’s research, which is looking at shifting the wavelength of lasers.

Elaine Thompson / AP, file

The attorney representing three former students who sued the Pine-Richland School District says the parties are expected to sign a settlement in the next few days.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, with New York-based Lambda Legal which advocates for LGBTQIA rights, declined to comment on the terms of the settlement until then.

Wolf Not Alarmed By Lack Of Budget Progress

Jul 24, 2017
Peter Crimmins / WHYY

While touring a cancer immunotherapy developer at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf insisted budget negotiations in Harrisburg are progressing well, even though House members came in on Saturday and then failed to strike a deal.  Wolf visited Adaptimmune, which received state money to build a new, LEED-certified medical manufacturing facility in the Navy Yard, two days after Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai called an emergency weekend session to hash out a way to fund the newly-approved state budget plan.

Alex Brandon / AP

Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, told lawmakers in a statement on Monday that he "did not collude... with any foreign government."

Kushner is meeting behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday and the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Both panels are investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and whether any members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

Northside Food Pantry

It was the holiday season of 2012 when Central North Side resident Jana Thompson first asked her neighbor, Darlene Rushing, to join her in volunteering at the Northside Food Pantry.

Rushing agreed, and came in to help on the pantry’s last day of operation before closing for the holidays.
 

Ron Larson / Ace Hotel

Amid Pittsburgh’s restaurant boom, a new conference this week aims to tackle tough issues within the food and service industry, including gentrification, sexism and cultural appropriation.

Going For A Swim In Lake Erie? You Might See Some Jellyfish

Jul 24, 2017
Mark Duncan / AP

They've been in the Great Lakes Basin for decades, but recently entered lakes Erie and St. Clair.

Freshwater jellyfish — about the size of a penny or quarter — are translucent, slimy blobs that inhabit lakes, streams, ponds, and some rivers in Pennsylvania and much of the northeastern United States.

Like their saltwater counterparts, freshwater jellyfish will sting people, but their stingers are so small they would not penetrate human skin.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro plans to announce criminal sexual abuse charges against a western Pennsylvania priest.

Shapiro's office says he'll be in Lower Burrell to announce the charges this afternoon.

It wasn't immediately clear if the priest serves at a parish in that area, and the priest has yet to be identified. Lower Burrell is about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh and is located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg.

WeMake Milano / Milano

The internet and cable company Comcast has chosen Pittsburgh for its new networking platform, MachineQ, which purports to offer quicker and more energy-efficient options for connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices.  IoT technology is the interconnectivity of objects through tiny implanted data-sending machines.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Six Pittsburgh students are spending their summer learning about the plants and animals in Frick Park and how to protect them with erosion control and managing invasive species. 

Students working in the Young Naturalist program don’t typically have access to nature. 

90.5 WESA’s Sarah Schneider spoke with Taiji Nelson, a naturalist educator with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, about teaching kids to be park stewards. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

StoryCorps

Sonya Chambers speaks with friend Jeanette Casicato.

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