News

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

Twelve people gathered Downtown on Wednesday to deliver a letter to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s local office to support the Iranian nuclear deal because they "don’t want another war."

“If the only alternative to the current peace plan is war, then yes, the right answer is approving the plan,” said Joy Sabl of Point Breeze. “But the overwhelming message is that we have a lot of pressure to go to war and we are standing firm against that pressure. We’ve seen a lot of it, we recognize it for what it is and we don’t like it.”

Courtesy Alloy Pittsburgh

Alloy Pittsburgh was conceived as a biennial laboratory where emerging artists in the Pittsburgh region would create temporary, site-based artwork that explore the creative reuse of the Carrie Furnace national historic landmark. Chris McGinnis and Sean Derry are the co-founders.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

August 28, 1963--Sala Udin stood amongst the crowd in the sweltering August sun, waiting for Martin Luther King Jr. to take the podium at the March on Washington.  Little did he know that he would soon witness one of the most iconic speeches in the history of the United States.  King's 'I Have a Dream' speech instantly resonated with Udin. 

"That speech is what made me say, 'I want to join his army.  I want to be with him.'"  That, Udin says, is when he knew he become a Freedom Fighter at the height of the Civil Rights dispute. 

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The state Supreme Court has unsealed a trove of documents that show as early as last November Attorney General Kathleen Kane was claiming that the investigation into her stemmed from her efforts to release pornographic and insensitive e-mails exchanged by her critics.

The documents unsealed by the high court Wednesday show that Kane made multiple appeals to quash the investigation into her, saying it was “trigged” by two critics and former prosecutors in her office: Frank Fina and Marc Costanzo.

Hillary H / Flickr

As temperatures creep back into the 90s next week, one state lawmaker says he's looking ahead to protect dogs and other pets from being left in vehicles unattended.

The Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act would “prohibit the confinement of a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle in a manner that would endanger the health and wellbeing of the animal.” The violation would be a summary offense, which is the most minor criminal offense in the state and generally comes with a fine.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Two men rob a convenience store in Beaver County, killing the clerk in the process. They steal a car and head to Raccoon Creek State Park, where they open fire on beach-goers with automatic rifles.

This was the imaginary scenario that criminal justice and nursing students from Pittsburgh Technical Institute encountered Wednesday morning at a live disaster response exercise staged on park shores.

Should Michael Vick Be a Pittsburgh Steeler?

Aug 26, 2015
Jeff Haynes / AP Images

Free agent quarterback Michael Vick signed a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday night. The move has incited debate over Vick’s history and how that may affect the Steelers season. In 2007, Vick spent 21 months in federal prison for his role in a dog-fighting ring. Over 12,000 people have signed a digital petition protesting his contract. Tribune-Review reporter Ben Schmitt won an Emmy at the Detroit Free Press for his contribution to the series “Pit Bulls: Companions or Killers?” He offers his thoughts on the controversy.

Tyler Nienhouse / flickr

As a new school year gets underway how is the continued lack of a state budget impacting school districts in the region? Mike Crossey, the president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association says political "games" in Harrisburg are beginning to affect local schools in a negative way.  

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Republican Allegheny County Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh has not been shy about her dissatisfaction with the way the county’s legislative body operates.

In July, she suggested to the state Government Review Commission that the council be disbanded, decrying it as “superfluous” and a rubber stamp for County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s initiatives.

Last September, she unsuccessfully attempted to pull multiple pieces of legislation she had introduced out of committee for a full vote before council, citing a rule in the county’s administrative code that said bills must be voted upon within 90 days of their introduction.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The state’s embattled attorney general says her office may reconsider its refusal to release the same pornographic e-mails she says are at the root of criminal charges against her.

In a written statement released Tuesday, Attorney General Kathleen Kane suggested there may be a change in her office’s position against releasing pornographic e-mails it found were exchanged by current and former employees.

Five of the nine Pennsylvania schools that will receive federal School Improvement Grants are in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system, the state Department of Education announced Tuesday.

On one hand, it’s great news, because it means $7.3 million in additional funding is coming to PPS over the next five years. On the other hand, it means five of the lowest-achieving schools in the state that have not made substantial progress on state assessments are located in Pittsburgh.

PA School Districts Brace For Prolonged State Budget Battle

Aug 26, 2015
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The school year is soon to begin, and districts across the state of Pennsylvania are faced with a troubling proposition: How do you stay afloat when a very large chunk of your budget is nonexistent?

Nicola / flickr

University of Pittsburgh associate professor of international affairs Michael Kenney says while media attention often focuses on the young teenagers who have answered the Islamic State's call, another essential set of recruits are activists from Britain and other Western countries who are deeply committed to establishing the calliphate, both in their home countries and globally. Kenney has researched the issue and will discuss how we can reach the people the Islamic State is trying to recruit. 
A National Acrobat / flickr

UPDATE 8/26/15:

As of 8:00 am PennDOT has  postponed the work for 24 hours.  The project is now slated to begin Thursday Aug. 27.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Getting from Oakland to Bloomfield will get a bit harder starting Wednesday morning. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is closing Baum and Bigelow (officially designated as PA Route 380) boulevards from Melwood Avenue to the Bloomfield Bridge for an estimated 91 days.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium officials said Tuesday the facility dropped its membership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums willingly and won’t lose its famed sea turtle rehabilitation program.

The zoo has participated in the Sea Turtle Second Chance program since 2009, taking in several turtles a year and, ideally, releasing them all back into the wild again, according to Zoo President and CEO Barbara Baker. Of the 17 treated in 2015, 13 have been returned, including two newly slated for the North Carolina shore.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

    

The golden French fries and basket of wings ordered at the bar or restaurant are made delicious through the frying process. But the oil used in restaurants and commercial kitchens can’t go down the drain, so it’s set aside for pickup. Companies big and small specialize in the collection and recycling of the grease.

In Pittsburgh, Fossil Free Fuel is one business that reuses the residual oil. In this segment of On The House, Larkin Page-Jacobs looks at where the grease goes.

Interpreting Monday's Stock Market Volatility

Aug 25, 2015
Herval / flickr

  Stock prices fluctuated wildly on Monday and the Dow Jones industrial average fell over 1,000 points after the opening bell before recovering much of those losses and then dropping again nearly 700 points in late afternoon trading. What's causing all the volatility? We put that question to University of Pittsburgh business professor Jay Sukits and look at how these developments might impact the region.

Matt Rourke / flickr

Lawyers for Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane are preparing to defend their client as she heads to trial on criminal charges related to her alleged release of confidential grand jury information. WHYY's Dave Davies attended her preliminary hearing and says her attorney Gerald Shargel suggested a connection between the prosecution of Kane and her release of pornographic emails earlier this year. The discovery tied many top state officials to the explicit messages, which Kane has claimed caused retaliation against her. Davies shares what he heard and saw at Monday’s hearing.

First In PA: State Says Distressed City Of Nanticoke No Longer Needs Oversight

Aug 25, 2015
Keystone Crossroads

Nanticoke is the first city and 10th municipality in Pennsylvania to complete the Commonwealth's Act 47 program for distressed municipalities.

The city's consultants made the case in June that Nanticoke's financially stable enough to operate without their help.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

It’s no secret that Pittsburgh’s industrial past has resulted in environmental contamination along its waterfronts, in areas which have been dubbed “brownfield” sites.

But Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said there are brownfields embedded in neighborhoods too.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Many Pennsylvania public schools are starting the school year with a worried eye toward Harrisburg.

Some are putting off bills. Some plan to borrow money. But Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said Monday he's not sure how much longer the budget impasse can continue before school operations are compromised.

Frankie Leon / flickr

In the 95 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment, women have not only earned the right to vote, but have been consistently outvoting men in elections. While the trend is significant, no woman has held the nation's top office and only 19% of the Pennsylvania legislature are women.  Dana Brown is the Executive Director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. She’s helping to organize Chatham’s celebration of Women’s Equality Day on August 26th and provides a history of women’s suffrage in the United States.

UPDATE: Tuesday 8/25/15

Early Tuesday morning the teacher's union called off the strike after a tentative contract agreement was reached. 

“We are happy to have been able to reach a responsible agreement together with the BVAEA (Belle Vernon Area Education Association). We have a responsibility to the taxpayers and citizens of the Belle Vernon Area School District,” said School Board President Aaron J. Bialon.
 

Flickr user Sean Salmon

As social engagement increasingly becomes centered around mobile apps, many local businesses are turning to location-based apps such as Foursquare and Yelp to attract customers.

But a new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences and Stevens Institute of Technology suggests that special deals and discounts linked to social media apps aren’t all that effective at driving customers to businesses.

Cori Shetter is a college graduate and aspiring actress who’s worked minimum-wage jobs for 15 years.

“It’s like swinging from Tarzan vine to Tarzan vine. One vine’s about to end and break, so you just grab the next one, but you’re never really putting your feet on solid ground,” said the 31-year-old Pittsburgh resident.

Pennsylvania AG Kane In Court In Perjury, Obstruction Case

Aug 24, 2015
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Pennsylvania's top prosecutor will find herself at the defense table in the first evidence hearing on charges she leaked grand jury material to the press, lied about it under oath and ordered top aides to illegally snoop through computer files to keep tabs on the investigation that followed.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane insists she committed no crimes in her long feud with rival prosecutors, including top deputies who had left her office.

Matt York / Associated Press

With the back-to-school season upon us, many are starting to mourn the end of summer, but there are at least a couple months of warm and mild weather ahead – which is perfect motorcycle weather.

“Summer riding season for motorcyclists runs roughly from April to October.” This is when we see the majority of motorcyclists on our roadways,” said Juliann Sheldon, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

UPMC

Each year between 1.7 and 3 million people end up with a sports- and recreation-related concussion in the U.S. That’s according to statistics gathered by the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, which see more than 17,000 patients a year.

This fall, concussion experts from around the country will come to Pittsburgh to discuss the treatment of the mild traumatic brain injury.

“Thirty to 35 of the greatest scientific minds around the country will be meeting as a group to hopefully achieve an understanding and consensus on outlining active approaches to treating this injury,” said Micky Collins, executive and clinical director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

Paddy McCann / Flickr

Rugby is an intense sport in which players team up to tackle a ball-carrier. It is similar to football, except play is constantly ongoing and players wear very little padding.

Like football, rugby necessitates doctors to be on hand during matches in case of injury, according to Sam Akhavan, who will be traveling to England next month for the Rugby World Cup as a team physician for the U.S. National Rugby Team.

Flickr user Paul Sihvonen-Binder

NASA uses houseplants to help absorb dangerous pollutants on spaceships, and according to Matt Mehalik of Sustainable Pittsburgh, it’s an easy way for offices and other workplaces to keep their air clean as well.

Certain plants can absorb formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene and other chemicals that can contribute to a phenomenon known as “sick building syndrome.”

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