News

Oil Train Traffic Is Down — For Market Reasons

Aug 26, 2016
Frederic J. Brown / Getty via Marketplace

 

 

Oil and its downstream products enable most transportation methods, from the gas in automobile tanks to the rubber in shoes. For oil itself, however, there are only a few methods of movement, and each is controversial. In the U.S., one method that saw a recent boom is now on the decline.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Look around any Rust Belt city and you can see the effects of urban decay. There's aging infrastructure, blighted buildings and abandoned homes. Even as cities begin to see a resurgence, it can be hard to shake the physical legacy of decades of decline.

But if you think post-industrial decay is hard to overcome, try something even more traumatic, like a dictatorship or, say, World War II. Some European cities have found a way to revive public spaces and re-engage the community in civic life, all while remediating the physical toll left by history.

    The truth is out there and WESA’s Josh and Sarah are putting on their Mulder and Scully hats to let you know all the weird things happening in Pittsburgh. They want you to join them in their investigations of the weird and paranormal. Do you choose to join them? They are without the help of Yelp Pittsburgh’s Rachel this week but no fears, WESA’s Megan Harris is here to join you in tracking down the strange and odd this weekend.

Cue the X-Files theme music and let’s begin.

Dick Thomas Johnson / Flickr

  An audit of the state Department of Education has found that the process to address appeals of charter school payment is unclear, and should be reexamined.

Jeff Brady / NPR

 

State and local officials attended a ceremony Wednesday morning to celebrate the groundbreaking for a 20-inch pipeline that will deliver Marcellus Shale gas to a new power plant in central Pennsylvania.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

On a Friday night in Altoona, the Blair County Convention Center was packed to the rafters with supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. There was an overflow room downstairs and a crowd waiting outside that couldn't get in. Trump discussed everything from ISIS to Supreme Court justices. 

PHOTOS: At 100 Years Old, National Parks Need $12 Billion In TLC

Aug 25, 2016
William J. Smith / AP

 

The National Park Service is celebrating its centennial this week. On August 26, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act putting 35 parks and monuments nationwide —including Yellowstone and Yosemite — under the new federal agency.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Students in Pittsburgh’s hilltop neighborhoods will go back to school in a fully renovated building next week.

The 78,000-square-foot property that housed the former Philip Murray Elementary in Mount Oliver is now home to the newly-upgraded Arlington Elementary.

In the school’s old location, a half-mile away from the new one, its students were housed in two buildings that had fallen into disrepair, Arlington K-8 Principal Holly Ballard said.

Pa. Immigrant Detention Center Strikers Pause For A Week, Citing Threats

Aug 25, 2016
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

 

*UPDATED

More than a dozen women who crossed into the U.S. illegally with their children continue to protest their long detention in a Pennsylvania facility.

A hunger strike that started Aug. 8 has paused for a weeklong "fast" of one meal a day, before the women resume the strike next week.

"We have been pushed to suspend the hunger strike by the threat of immigration officials, who have told us that, if our health weakens, the government will take away our children and send us to adult prisons," said the mothers in an emailed statement.

Nonbelievers Sue Over Pennsylvania House's Opening Prayers

Aug 25, 2016
Ken Marshall / Flickr

A group of people who don't believe in God are challenging the way prayers are handled before sessions of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Harrisburg federal court says nonbelievers are treated like a disfavored minority who can be discriminated against, and that House officials denied their requests to make an opening invocation.

Five people and three organizations are suing House Speaker Mike Turzai, the parliamentarian and five lawmakers.

Humphrey's and Partners Urban Architecture

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board plans to lessen the tax burden for a New-York based developer to build a high rise apartment building in Oakland.

The developer, Park 7, plans to turn several properties on Centre Avenue from North Craig to North Dithridge into a 17-story mixed use development with 14 floors of residential space.

Bob Studebaker (L), Sidewall Project (R)

A Pittsburgh artist, who prefers to be known simply as “Brick,” has been displaying art on an exterior wall of her house in Bloomfield for more than two years.

She refers to it as “The Sidewall Project,” and it began as an opportunity for artists to have their work displayed in a public space.

The current exhibit was created by Richard Pell and is a familiar sight to many Pittsburghers.

Emma Lee / WHYY

 

With its new student-weighted school funding formula, Pennsylvania took a big step forward this year to begin to correct decades of inequities.

National Parks Service

That National Parks Service is 100 years old today.

The government agency was created on Aug. 25, 1916, but a slew of celebratory events have taken place all over the country since January.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

  Gov. Tom Wolf created a new charter school oversight body through the state Department of Education on Wednesday, nearly two years after his gubernatorial campaign promised charter reform.

The Division of Charter Schools will be composed of a director, who has yet to be hired, plus three staffers. They're tasked with making sure the laws, processes and information already in place are followed, and that the data charter schools submit to the department is accurate and timely, Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan said.

St. Clair Hospital

 

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. is known for employing doctors with highly refined subspecialties, and now St. Clair Hospital doctors can tap into that expertise.

An agreement between the two hospitals, finalized this week, will allow St. Clair doctors to access eTumor Boards – a virtual version of tumor board reviews, in which multiple doctors brainstorm ways to treat an individual patient.

Ben Peoples / Flickr

 

Park ranger Doug Bosley stands at the crest of a quiet, green hillside, looking down a stretch of railroad track that appears to have gotten lost and wandered into the woods. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A national transportation research group has estimated that completion of the 14-mile stretch of the Mon-Fayette expressway and the extension of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Busway would create nearly 21,000 jobs in the Mon Valley region and beyond.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner wants an overhaul of the county’s ethics and disclosure process.

In an independent report over a two-year time period, Wagner said her office found multiple deficiencies in the county’s ethics code, which was enacted in 2001.

Epicast Network

When Pittsburgh comedian Ed Bailey opened for headliner Tony Rock at Pittsburgh’s Improv comedy club last Friday, his polished set landed plenty of laughs – until he mentioned his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio

WESA/Nicole Fallert

At least 10,000 bees squirmed next to one another fulfilling their duties as housekeepers, nurses and foragers.

The brood surrounded their queen bee in an enclosure, hanging vertically in the SEED classroom at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden in Oakland.

“This is a four-frame, observational hive, it’s a small nucleus colony,” said Christina Neumann of Apoidea Apiary. She’s the beekeeper of the hive, which was unveiled at Phipps this week.

Decision Days Away In Lancaster Refugee Case

Aug 23, 2016
Emily Previti / WITF

 

Five full days of testimony wrapped up Monday in the lawsuit against the School District of Lancaster.

The case claims six student refugees were denied enrollment altogether or placed at Phoenix Academy, a magnet school with an accelerated credit program where they allegedly didn't get adequate support learning English.

They’re seeking admission to Lancaster’s mainstream McCaskey High School.

National Human Genome Research Institute / genome.gov

At the most basic level cancer can be defined as the DNA of a normal cell going haywire. 

Flickr/TheNoxid

Pennsylvania will be at least 5 degrees warmer by 2050 than it was in 2000, according to Penn State University’s 2015 Climate Impacts Assessment Report. To combat a shifting environment, Gov. Tom Wolf has approved an update to the Climate Change Action Plan.

As part of the state’s Climate Change Act of 2008, the action plan is reviewed every three years in an effort to increase energy efficiency in all industries by 2030.

Matt Slocum / AP

U.S. Democratic Senate contender Katie McGinty went on the offense Monday, seeking to paint her opponent, incumbent Republican Pat Toomey, as an insincere flip-flopper.

Throughout her campaign, McGinty has played up her own working-class angle, presenting herself as a first-generation college grad—a claim she recently edited into a first generation four-year­ college grad—and a champion of the working class.

Toomey is the opposite, she said. 

Divided America: Diverse Millennials Are No Voting Monolith

Aug 23, 2016
Brennan Linsley / AP

 

The oldest millennials — nearing 20 when airplanes slammed into New York City's Twin Towers — are old enough to remember the relative economic prosperity of the 1990s, and when a different Clinton was running for president. 

eddie~S / Flickr

The City of Pittsburgh will hire EMTs for the first time since 2004 and raise the starting pay for paramedics.  

The city and paramedics union announced sidebar agreements to the existing union contract Monday. Pittsburgh hasn’t had dedicated EMTs since 2004, when they were laid off due to budget constraints, said Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich. Instead, they city has relied on paramedics, who undergo more training, but cost the city more per hour.

Reed Saxon / AP

 

Local courts that jail poor defendants because they can't afford to pay bail are unlawfully discriminating against the poor, federal attorneys say in a legal brief in a Georgia lawsuit.

The U.S. Justice Department says such policies are unconstitutional.

The federal brief was filed Thursday with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the lawsuit of a north Georgia man who spent six days in jail in the city of Calhoun because he couldn't afford $160 bail following his arrest on a misdemeanor charge.

Matt Rourke / AP

Former Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords is endorsing the re-election bids of Republicans U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, citing their votes on gun control.

Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, made the endorsements in a Monday editorial on behalf of their organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Giffords was gravely wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Arizona.

Alan Levine / Flickr

 

Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education shows an increase in unsolved bomb threats in its public schools over the last three academic years, but a general decrease in terroristic threats.

An Associated Press analysis of school threat data found the disruptions increasing nationwide at the expense of students' learning time and local police departments' resources.

The state department provided data gathered from Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts.

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