News

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Over the last half-century, there have been few pop culture phenomenons that have exceeded the popularity of Star Trek. The original TV series starring William Shatner as Captain Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, made its network television debut on NBC 50 years ago this month.

Elvert Barnes / Flickr

Black health experts want to leverage growing awareness of racial inequality into a fight against cigarettes.

Lung cancer kills black men at higher rates than any other group nationwide, and last week a group of health experts and activists called for President Barack Obama to ban menthol cigarettes, making a direct link between health and social justice.

It's A Girl! Philly Zoo Determines Baby Gorilla's Gender

Sep 27, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

Workers at the Philadelphia Zoo have finally determined the gender of a baby gorilla born last month, and it's a girl.

The baby's 21-year-old mother, Honi, had been holding it so closely after its birth Aug. 26 that zookeepers couldn't confirm if it was male or female.

The zoo is encouraging the public to help name the baby western lowland gorilla.

It is partnering with a sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo that rehabilitates Grauer's gorillas whose families have been killed by poachers.

Biden Attacks Trump In PA Visit Over House Collapse Comments

Sep 27, 2016
David Goldman / AP

 

 

Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday questioned Donald Trump's "moral center" as a result of the Republican presidential candidate's comments about America's housing collapse.

At a rally for Hillary Clinton at Drexel University, Biden said that Trump had bragged at Monday's presidential debate about profiting from the failed housing market. He said Trump's policies are not helpful for the country, calling the candidate "painfully uninformed."

City of Pittsburgh

Municipal officials hope to submit a final “green first” plan for dealing with the region’s stormwater management problem to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the end of this year.

The plan relies heavily on green infrastructure, which involves planting trees and restoring the natural water cycle.

Fracking Billionaire Backs Trump

Sep 27, 2016
Reid R. Frazier / Allegheny Front

 At an oil and gas conference in Pittsburgh last week, one of Donald Trump’s top energy advisers warned that a Hillary Clinton presidency would harm the drilling industry.

Fracking billionaire Harold Hamm spoke to the Shale Insight Conference, telling the audience that he was impressed with Donald Trump when the two met while working on the Mitt Romney campaign and that he thought Trump was the right choice for the oil and gas industry.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

 

You know the old adage "Never judge a city by (just) its bond"? Or "Forgive and forget: bonds have histories, too"? No? How about that bumper sticker: "Reductive is as reductive does"?

OK, none of those are real.

BarnImages.com / Flickr

An app could be key in helping track sexual assaults and domestic violence.

Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Chief of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital, said she and a team of researchers have developed an app called TIPS, or Trauma Informed Personalized Scrips, to help health care professionals identify women who are victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence. 

Plum Borough School District

  A western Pennsylvania school board is preparing to release a report on how administrators handled reports and rumors that teachers were having sex with students.

The Plum School board has moved its Tuesday night meeting to the junior high school to accommodate a larger-than-normal crowd.

Edward Conner / via AP

A Pennsylvania fair vendor, who turned out to be a registered sex offender, was booted from the event after visitors complained that he was selling Nazi flags.

Visitors to the Bloomsburg Fair, which started Saturday, posted photos of the vendor's flags on the fair's Facebook page. The photos showed a red-and-white flag with a black swastika draped from one side of a booth and a flag endorsing Donald Trump and declaring "Make America Great Again" on the other side.

A Natural History Museum Questions What 'Natural' Means

Sep 27, 2016
Irina Zhorov / 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.

Trump Tells Oil And Gas Drillers They Will Like Him. Will They?

Sep 27, 2016
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?"

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

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.

Pages