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Irina Shorov / The Pulse

In a business district east of Pittsburgh’s downtown, between a pizza shop and a Vietnamese restaurant, is an easy-to-miss storefront marked Center for PostNatural History. Richard Pell is the center’s curator; he’s 40 but looks younger, informal in a pair of shorts, perpetually smiling. He greets visitors standing by a taxidermied goat that has been genetically modified to produce industrial spider silk in its milk.

Jeffrey Benzing / PublicSource

 A subtle breeze and pristine blue sky set a peaceful scene in the Hill District this morning, so the immediate thought might not be on the dozens of young men killed in the span of only a few blocks.

Evan Vucci / AP

  Donald Trump walked onto the stage at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and delivered a promise, introduction and prediction—all rolled into one.

“You will like me so much,” he said. “You will get that business.”

Trump was speaking to a gathering of oil and gas industry professionals in Pittsburgh. He promised to unleash America’s fossil fuel sector by reining in what he called “overregulation.”

AP file photo

On Election Day, Pennsylvania voters will decide whether to raise the retirement age for judges to 75, but the way the ballot question is posed continues to be tied up in the courts. 

Here's how the question is expected to appear on the ballot in November:

"Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices, judges and justices of the peace be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years?"

Andrew Bardwell / flickr

After more than 21 years in public safety, Sheldon Williams said he had little reaction to the news that the Pittsburgh Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Political recommendations are nothing new, he said, and don’t always carry a lot of weight for union members.

Saul Loeb/Jim Watson / Getty Images, via NPR

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton go head-to-head in the first presidential debate Monday night.

NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, is live annotating the debate. Portions of the debate with added analysis are highlighted, followed by context and fact check from NPR reporters and editors.

Follow highlights of the debate in NPR's updating news story at npr.org.

Morry Gash / AP Photo

First lady Michelle Obama will be in Pennsylvania on Wednesday to campaign for Hillary Clinton.

She's attending a late afternoon rally for Clinton at the University of Pittsburgh following a Democratic Party event at noon at LaSalle University in Philadelphia.

Obama will speak at Fitzgerald Field House at 3:30 p.m. Doors open at 1 p.m. 

Hartford Police Department via AP

Recently, paramedics in the midstate have been carefully approaching the scene of a heroin overdose.

They fear they'll come in contact with heroin mixed with a tranquilizer often used on large animals.

Emergency responders have already encountered carfentanil in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

It's said to be 10,000 times stronger than morphine, and is often used to tranquilize an elephant.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

An empty, three-acre parking lot lies at the corner of Station Street and Euclid Avenue.

You can’t actually park there. Weeds grow in the cracked cement between lines of faded paint.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

 

When Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf brings his message on combating the opioid epidemic to a joint session of the state legislature Wednesday, he will be speaking to a group that for the most part is already aware of the issue.

“They’re all fed up with this,” said State Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver, Greene, Washington) of her constituents.  “It’s a scourge and they know that we have to all stand together and try every angle we possibly can.”

Last year, more than 3,000 Pennsylvanians died of an opioid overdose including 424 in Allegheny County.

Flickr user hradcanska

A group of Pine-Richland school district alumni is planning to protest the district’s transgender bathroom policy at tonight’s school board meeting.

In early September, the board passed a resolution requiring students to use either the bathroom that matches their biological sex or a unisex bathroom.

But Molly Steadman, who is organizing the protest, said that policy is akin to the “separate but equal” doctrine that kept public schools legally segregated until 1954.

Paul Sableman / flickr

In the year since surplus items were made available online, Pittsburgh has made $433,361.52 on item ranging from hats to dump trucks, nearly doubling previous years’ earnings.

The revenue is another example of how technology can improve city government, according to Councilman Dan Gilman, who proposed online auctioning in 2014.

Joe Ulrich / WITF

 Following internal audits over the past year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has recovered $1.3 million in gas royalty money from drilling in state forests.

Court Throws Out Bargaining Rights For Home Care Workers

Sep 25, 2016
Orlin Wagner / AP

A Pennsylvania court is putting an end to a program established by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that the judges said improperly granted union rights to home care workers who look after elderly and disabled people.

 

Commonwealth Court ruled 4-to-1 Thursday in favor of plaintiffs who challenged an executive order Wolf issued in February 2015.

Six Dioceses Now Under Investigation In PA

Sep 25, 2016
Chris Dunn / York Daily Record

  State Rep. Mark Rozzi, who has said he was abused by a priest in 1984, said a grand jury investigation into clergy sex abuse can finally help victims understand how priests abused children in other parishes.

"It allows us to start getting answers we have been searching for our whole life," Rozzi, of Berks County, said Friday.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg has received a grand jury subpoena from the state attorney general's office, and Rozzi said he was asked to testify about child sex abuse in front of a grand jury in August.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Pennsylvania has extended a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in state forests and parks for five years.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a new five-year forest management plan spells out an oil and gas management policy that supports the public lands drilling moratorium ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf.

The 234-page plan released last week by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources also addresses climate change impacts for the first time.

State Department of Corrections

A federal judge is directing the state Corrections Department to end an inmate's stay in solitary confinement after 36 years.

U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher Conner has ruled any concerns 64-year-old convicted murderer Arthur Johnson might escape are outweighed by arguments he should be housed with the general population.

Johnson made several escape attempts after being convicted of the 1970 murder of a man in Philadelphia, but officials describe him as being a model prisoner for the past 25 years.

Clarion.edu

A university in northwestern Pennsylvania is allowing students and workers to use nicknames on some campus records, including student identification cards and emails, in an effort to better allow them to express their identities.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Clarion University says it's the first of the state's 14 state-owned universities to implement such a policy. It became effective this fall.

istock

 

A Philadelphia woman has pleaded guilty to plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.

Keonna Thomas, 32, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

Defense attorney Kathleen Gaughan said her client has accepted responsibility and "looks forward to putting this behind her and being a mother to her two young children."

Thomas, who was arrested in April at a public housing development in north Philadelphia, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 17.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Pennsylvania's auditor general says the largest online charter school in the state paid millions of taxpayer dollars to entities tied to the school's founder.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale on Thursday released the findings of a performance audit of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Midland, Beaver County.

Duquesne University

 

Law school dean and legal scholar Ken Gormley has taken the helm as president of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

The 61-year-old lawyer and professor was installed Thursday as the 13th president of the 137-year-old private, Catholic school.

Gormley was hired as a law professor at Duquesne in 1994 after first teaching at the University of Pittsburgh and practicing privately. He's been dean of the law school since 2010.

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

The Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center offers free medical and dental services to some of Pittsburgh’s poorest uninsured and underinsured residents. 

Volunteer Medical Director Dr. Edward Kelly helped launch the clinic nine years ago. The retired orthopedic surgeon spends at least three days a week seeing patients, filling out paperwork and organizing other teams of volunteers who make the services possible.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

An audience of about 50 people watched uncomfortably as a man named Jon confessed he raped a girl in high school.

The confession was actually part of a scene in the play, “Tape,” a story about sexual assault, performed at the University of Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The play follows the character Jon’s confession to his friend, Vince, that he raped a woman 10 years earlier. In the play, the two men both dated the woman, Amy, in high school.

Let’s face it. Winter is coming and these next few weekends could be your last chance to go outside. It’s just like Stanley Tucci said; fall is only good for about two weeks.  WESA’s Josh and Sarah and Yelp Pittsburgh’s Rachel are here to make sure you are able to thoroughly enjoy the last few good-weather weekends we have.

J. Dale Shoemaker / PublicSource

“Would you like to register to vote?”

Nearly every time Elaine Harris-Fulton asks the question, she gets a version of, “I’m already registered.”

The Men And Women Of Pittsburgh's Sewers

Sep 23, 2016
Lou Blouin / The Allegheny Front

Damon “Hop” Hopkins only needs three words to tell you about the grossest thing that’s ever happened to him working in Pittsburgh’s sewers. That—and a lengthy, well-timed pause between words two and three.

“Chest high. Feces.”

‘Nuff said.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

David Zak didn't know Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was supposed to speak in Pittsburgh today. The 33-year-old Friendship resident said he ran into protesters while walking to work Downtown and felt compelled to follow the action.

"I've never actually been this radical before," he said. "But I think this his happening for a reason."

Waze Sets Out To Eliminate 'Tunnel Blindness' On Mobile Maps

Sep 22, 2016
Matt P. / Flickr

 

 

The popular navigation app Waze is putting a new twist on the phrase "tunnel vision." It's trying to ensure drivers relying on digital maps don't lose their way when their GPS signal disappears in tunnels.

Evan Vucci / AP

 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went before a group of shale gas industry professionals gathered in Pittsburgh Thursday and promised that energy industry workers are going to “love Donald Trump,” if elected.

Joshua Franzos / Pittsburgh Foundation

 

A foundation in Pittsburgh will dedicate 60 to 70 percent of its grant making to address poverty and disparity in the region. 

Depending on the news outlet, Pittsburgh is a lot of things: it’s Steel City or the Paris of Appalachia; it’s the new Brooklyn; it’s the best place to eat, it’s the most underrated American city. 

But for many, the debate about whether or not Pittsburgh merits all this chatter is immaterial: 30 percent of people in the region live at or near poverty.

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