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Scores of hot dog costume-wearing dachshunds run through a grassy field while Harry Nilsson’s 1972 ballad “Without You” plays in the background.

What can’t they live without?

Heinz Ketchup of course. And mustard. And barbeque sauce, represented here by humans in condiment costumes. The dogs leap upon them, licking their faces while the announcer says, “It’s hard to resist great taste. Meet the Ketchups.”

Kraft Heinz has been trying to build buzz around their family of condiments with the hashtag #MeetTheKetchups.

Jason Howie / Flickr

People who spend more than an hour a day, or 30 times per week, browsing through social media often don't get a good night's sleep.

A study from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine found adults who use social media more have a greater likelihood of having sleep disturbances. Nearly 1,800 adults between the ages of 19 and 32 were surveyed on their levels of social media use and how often they had disturbed, or restless sleep. Researchers found 30 percent of participants had high levels of sleep disturbance.

Governor Tom Wolf is expected to sign legislation to allow people with low-level criminal convictions to have their records sealed from public view.

The plan, approved nearly unanimously by the Legislature, would let people petition the court to wipe minor, nonviolent crimes from their public criminal records. Charges like vandalism and trespassing could be erased from view of potential employers, landlords, and lenders, removing the handcuffs people live with long after they’ve served their time or paid the fines for low-level criminal convictions.

Shane Simmons / flickr

Described by City Controller Michael Lamb as a "runaway train," Pittsburgh is experiencing a problem paying overtime, holiday and other premium costs to public safety personnel.  Public Source reporter Eric Holmberg’s investigation of the matter found that existing workers earn nearly $30 million in additional funds to their salaries each year, but are burdened by under staffing and increased workloads. Holmberg shares his thoughts the issue and its contributing factors.

Twitter

A tall, stovepipe hat.  A buffalo skin fur coat.  A peg leg and bushy beard. A Pittsburgh icon. 

Charles Orton, better known as the XX Cough Drop Man, sold cough drops rain or shine on the corner of Market and Diamond Streets for forty years.  A native of Allegheny City, presently known as the North Side, Orton was not only a cough drop salesman, but a walking history book, sharing stories of Pittsburgh neighborhoods through the years. 

Joe Wos, Maze Toons creator and Essential Pittsburgh contributor says everyone in the late 19th century Pittsburgh knew Orton, but his story is much less well-known among Pittsburghers today.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The three democrats vying for a chance to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey discussed their stances on the issues at Carnegie Mellon University's candidate forum on Sunday.

Diane Curtis / Provided by Sisters of Charity of Nazareth

The site of a nun retreat in Fayette County will now be protected by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. 

The Sisters of Charity recently signed an easement agreement with the conservancy, ensuring the land they have used as a retreat site for decades is preserved and doesn't become over-developed.

wsilver / Flickr

Gay and bisexual adolescents in U.S. schools are twice as likely to be bullied as their heterosexual peers, which could hinder development.

That’s according to a recent study by the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health.

A total of 1,870 students were surveyed. Of those, 127 students identified themselves as being either gay or bisexual, and of those students, 24 percent reported being victims of bullying. Only 12 percent of heterosexual students reported the same.

Brett Levin / Flickr

 

Late last year, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced it was easing requirements for FDA-approved clinical trials of cannabis. 

Deciphering The Befuddling Budget Situation

Feb 1, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP Images

90.5 WESA Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with  House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) and  Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) about their concerns and the public’s perception that lawmakers can’t get along.  

Costa blamed lawmakers' philosophical differences.

“At the end of the day, we recognize that we want to do many similar things, investing in education, human service programs, economic development (and) job growth,” he said. “The question becomes about how we go about doing that.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

  The Pittsburgh Board of Education has posted the application for the district’s next superintendent, officials announced Friday.

The board held seven community forums in January inviting public input for the district’s next leader after current superintendent Linda Lane chose to let her contract expire in June after five years as superintendent.

Ryan Wick / flickr

Between now and February 20th you can see the five brightest planets in our solar system at the same time. It’s the first time this has happened since 2005. Point Park University professor and astrophysicist Brendan Mullan stopped by our studio to discuss happenings in outer space.

takomabibelot / flickr

 

Residents may not have seen the last of a century-old bridge over the Allegheny River in western Pennsylvania that was imploded earlier this week.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports the steel from the 107-year-old Hulton Bridge could end up in a construction project once it's recycled by P.J. Greco Sons Inc.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh's iconic sports commentator Myron Cope is being remembered Sunday at the Senator John Heinz History Center as part of a special public tribute called "Yoi! Remembering Myron Cope." We'll talk with Steelers and Pitt Panthers play-by-play voice Bill Hillgrove and David Schlitt, Director of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the Heinz History Center.    

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Every other Monday night, the basement of the Jefferson Avenue Methodist Church in Washington, Pa. is turned into a soup kitchen and a doctor's office. It’s called the “WeCare Street Outreach,” and it's run by Dr. Monica Speicher.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Sediment and pollution still plague the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which supplies water for agricultural purposes in several states, including Pennsylvania.

University of Essex / Flickr

About three years ago, Laura Offutt was between medical consulting projects and looking for something new to try. Around the same time, she noticed that her teenage children and their friends were not happy with the way health information was being presented in school. 

Additionally, Offutt said the teens seemed to have picked up bad information while attempting to fill in the gaps in knowledge from their school presentations. That’s how she started a teen health blog, now a website, called Real Talk with Dr. Offutt.

Kristi Jan Hoover / City Theatre

From the murderous Phantom in the musical Phantom of the Opera to the ex-convict Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, theater is notorious for making seemingly villainous characters appear sympathetic. But could anyone imagine feeling sympathy for an alleged Nazi war criminal? Some Brighter Distance, a new play premiering tonight at the City Theatre in the South Side, explores the possibility .

Some Brighter Distance tells the story of Arthur Rudolph, a German aerospace engineer who participated in Operation Paperclip, a post-WWII program in which scientists, technicians and researchers from former Nazi Germany were brought to the United States. Playwright Keith Reddin says Cold War-era American officials hoped these individuals would help the country achieve an edge over the Soviet Union in the Space Race.

David Amsler / Flickr

The holidays didn’t do much to ease Pennsylvania angst about state government, according to a new Franklin & Marshall College survey, showing most respondents take a dim view of the state’s future.

The poll found that 67 percent of registered voters surveyed said Pennsylvania is headed “off on the wrong track” – a record figure in the past five years of polling.

And 38 percent said the state’s “most important problem” is government and politicians.

401 (K) / flickr

For low-to-moderate income families, tax season can be a confusing and intimidating time.

Matt Rourke / AP

A state Senate panel tasked with exploring the unprecedented removal of a sitting state attorney general included some major hedges in its final recommendations Wednesday.

The snow has finally melted and the temperatures have risen (albeit a little). So now it's time to brace the outside and find some good food and brews! WESA Digital Editor Sarah Kovash hosts this week, with Yelp Pittsburgh's Rachel Carlson. 

If you like drinking and learning, this Thursday night, head over to the Heinz History Center for Tipsy History. Sip on Wigle Whiskey and check out the Glass: Shattering Notions exhibit, focusing on Pittsburgh's glass-making history. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers face additional challenges once they get to the United States. A panel of refugee experts, hosted by the Peduto administration’s Welcoming Pittsburgh initiative, addressed those issues Wednesday.

Beni Dedieu Luzau said for many refugees or asylum seekers, being LGBTQI means scrutiny and isolation from their own community, and in some communities could even mean death. He said they come to the U.S. for freedom, but then fear for survival if they come out.

PhotographyMontreal / flickr

After a lawsuit launched by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth has agreed to use more resources to house and treat criminal defendants with mental illnesses. ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Director Vic Walczak led the legal battle and spoke to Essential Pittsburgh about the case.

Lead-Tainted Water Has A Long History In The U.S.

Jan 28, 2016
Carlos Osorio / AP Photo

The municipal water crisis in Flint, Mich., has brought new attention to the dangers of lead in drinking water.

When the city starting using the Flint River as its source for municipal water in 2014, the water was so corrosive, it caused lead to leach out of pipes and fixtures. 

David Goldman / AP

Markets have been volatile at the start of 2016, and that could be bad news for municipal pension funds in Pennsylvania.

As it was, about half of the municipalities that maintain pension funds have distressed plans, with a total liability of $7.7 billion.

The commonwealth will devote more resources to treatment and housing for criminal defendants who have mental illness, under the terms of a deal approved by a federal judge Wednesday.

AP

 

United States Steel Corp. on Tuesday reported a fourth-quarter loss of $999 million, reversing a profit a year ago, as revenue plunged 37 percent and the company blamed cheap subsidized imports for hurting the price of flat-rolled steel.

Behind-The-Scenes At The Fort Pitt Museum

Jan 27, 2016
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Paintings, figurines and dioramas fill the hallways of the Fort Pitt Museum. However, for most of January, the doors of the museum have been closed, as the pieces underwent renovations and workers installed new exhibits. Essential Pittsburgh took a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility ahead of their re-opening to see what went into the process.

Matt Rourke / flickr

A state House panel is starting down a road that could end in the impeachment of state Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday sent to the full House a resolution that would empower a subcommittee to do a preliminary investigation into whether Kane “liable to impeachment for misbehavior in office.” The panel’s vote was unanimous.

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