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Government & Politics
2:24 am
Thu February 14, 2013

NETL Welcomes Department of Energy Official to Pittsburgh Facility

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is a collection of buildings on a large campus just south of Pittsburgh. The work done there includes research and development on energy and the environment. On Wednesday, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy for the Department of Energy, Christopher Smith, visited the labs. A lot of research surrounds technologies for developing coal and natural gas, both of which draw much criticism from environmental groups. Smith said NETL works to further the goal of Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

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Government & Politics
8:20 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Orie Melvin Defense Rests Without Justice Taking Stand

Suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has opted not to testify at her campaign corruption trial.

As a result, the defense has rested and the jury will return Friday for closing arguments and legal instructions before they begin deliberating. The jury must decide whether the justice and her sister and aide, Janine Orie, conspired to misuse state-paid employees for campaign work when Melvin, then a Superior Court judge, ran for the Supreme Court in 2003 and 2009.

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Government & Politics
7:59 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Pittsburgh Plans to Buy Hovercraft, Beef Up River Rescue Fleet

Pittsburgh leaders plan to use a federal grant to buy a new hovercraft and outfit the city's two main rescue boats with new motors. City Council gave preliminary approval to the necessary legislation on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh Emergency Management Deputy Director Ray DeMichiei said the hovercraft, which uses a cushion of air to float inches above water or land, is designed to reach places that traditional boats can't, such as ice and shallow water.

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Environment & Energy
5:42 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Model Ordinance to Streamline Solar Panels Installation Offered to PA Municipalities

A model ordinance and zoning code for solar power installation on homes and small businesses, which was one year in the making, is now available for all municipalities to consider with the hope that it will lower barriers residents and businesses face when looking to install new systems. The SunShot Rooftop Challenge initiative, funded by the US Department of Energy and coordinated by PennFuture, involved 24 local governments in Allegheny and Beaver counties including Upper Saint Clair, Pittsburgh, and Monaca.

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Transportation
5:26 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Still Looking for More Transportation Money

Governor Tom Corbett’s plan new transportation would generate more than $5 billion over a five year period, however, some say the budget might not be enough to fix Pennsylvania’s transit woes. The plan is projected to yield less money than the governor’s transportation funding advisory commission said would be necessary to keep up with the needs of the state’s ailing infrastructure.

Pennsylvania senate Transportation Committee chairman John Rafferty is leading the effort to draft legislation on the issue. He said he’s looking for something north of that.

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Government & Politics
1:11 pm
Sun February 10, 2013

Paterno Family Refutes Freeh Report Accusations

The family of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has released a report refuting some of the findings of the university’s internal investigation last summer, which alleged that Paterno covered up the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

The document released Sunday morning by the firm King & Spalding says “[t]here is no evidence that Joe Paterno deliberately covered up known incidents of child molestation by Jerry Sandusky to protect Penn State football or for any other reason.”

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Education & Learning
2:44 pm
Sat February 9, 2013

Faculty Members to Vote on PA State System Pact

A proposed four-year contract covering 5,500 faculty members at Pennsylvania's state-owned universities is headed for a ratification vote by the union rank and file.

The leadership body of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties endorsed the contract agreement Friday at a meeting in Gettysburg. Union spokeswoman Lauren Gutshall says the tally was nearly unanimous.

The faculty members of the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education have worked without a contract since June 2011.

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Environment & Energy
2:39 pm
Sat February 9, 2013

Winter Storm Batters Northeast; 500,000 Without Power

A storm that forecasters warned could be a blizzard for the history books, with a potential for up to 3 feet of snow, clobbered the New York-to-Boston corridor on Friday, grounding flights, sending office workers home early and knocking out power to half a million customers across the Northeast.

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Economy & Business
9:23 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Pittsburgh & Allegheny Co. Primed For Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) can spur economic, environmental, and access benefits for the Pittsburgh region.

That's one of the findings of a yearlong study, released by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD), into the potential for transit-oriented development in Allegheny County. 

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Government & Politics
8:34 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Allegheny County Airport Authority OK's $500M Gas Drilling Deal

The Allegheny County Airport Authority has approved a $500 million deal with Consol Energy for rights to drill for natural gas and oil at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The authority board unanimously approved the deal Friday.

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Government & Politics
8:34 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Allegheny County Airport Authority OK's $500M Gas Drilling Deal

The Allegheny County Airport Authority has approved a $500 million deal with Consol Energy for rights to drill for natural gas and oil at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The authority board unanimously approved the deal Friday.

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Government & Politics
7:47 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Western PA Law Enforcement to Maximize Efforts to go After Illegal Guns

80 percent of the murders in Allegheny County last year were the result of a gun, according to US Attorney David Hickton. In an effort to reduce gun violence, he announced his office and other law enforcement agencies are working to crack down on so-call straw purchasers.

“Straw purchasers are those who purchase firearms and lie about their identity or the identity of the actual purchaser,” said Hickton.

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Government & Politics
7:15 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

PA Blocks Online Gun Permits

Pennsylvania officials are closing a gun-law loophole that lets residents get permits online from Florida — sometimes when they can't get them at home.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced the decision Friday in crime-plagued North Philadelphia, weeks after taking office.

Kane says about 4,000 Pennsylvanians have gotten Florida permits since 2001.

Officials say that let them buy weapons at stores or gun shows in Pennsylvania, and potentially sell them on the street.

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Transportation
6:57 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Winter Storm Nemo Wreaks Havoc On Travel Plans

While winter storm Nemo won’t be hitting the Pittsburgh region, its impact will still be felt—especially when it comes to flights from Pittsburgh International.

JoAnn Jenny, spokesperson for the airport, said there wasn’t a final tally by the airport of the amount of cancelled and/or delayed flights, but it wouldn’t be surprising to her if there were going to be “hundreds if not thousands” of flights cancelled because of the storm.

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Education & Learning
6:42 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

MacArthur Foundation gives $500,000 for New Educational Approach in Pittsburgh

The MacArthur Foundation is awarding a $500,000 grant to create a Pittsburgh Hive Learning Network. The grant will be administered by the Sprout Fund. A Hive is a network of organizations including schools, museums, libraries, afterschool programs, community centers who collaborate to create new learning experiences. Sprout Program Officer Ryan Coon said the Hive is not a physical space.

"It's a program that supports activities in many places. Hive supported activities will occur at the museum, or at the Carnegie Library. It's a mechanism to support new learning activities."

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Government & Politics
5:15 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Ex-PA Lawmaker to Lead Welfare Agency

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Public Welfare has officially submitted his letter of resignation.  It was widely rumored that Sec. Gary D. Alexander would be stepping down from the post. His last day on the job will be Feb. 15.

The governor’s office said Alexander is leaving state government to pursue private-sector opportunities and spend more time with his wife and children who reside in Rhode Island.

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Government & Politics
3:00 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Horseracing Industry Balks at PA Budget

A horseracing industry group says the governor’s budget gallops away with too much money from a fund that supports it.

The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition is taking issue with Governor Corbett’s proposal to draw $31 million out of the Race Horse Development Fund for agricultural programs and other line items.

Last year, more than $54 million was diverted from the fund, but a spokesman for the industry group says this year’s plan is not an improvement, because revenues to the fund are on the decline.

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Government & Politics
8:34 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Dem Leaders Urge Corbett to Renounce Possible Electoral Changes

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Pennsylvania Senate Minority leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and House Minority leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) called on Governor Tom Corbett to disavow any plans to change the state’s Electoral College system.

Currently Pennsylvania follows the “winner take all” approach during presidential elections where the candidate who receives a majority of the state’s votes also receives its 20 electoral votes.

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Government & Politics
4:08 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Airport Fracking Proposal Draws Frustrated, Angry Crowd at Only Public Hearing on Issue

The only public hearing on allowing Marcellus Shale production on airport land drew a standing-room only crowd to Robert Morris University in Moon Thursday night. The evening started with Allegheny County Council Chair Bob Macey outlining rules which included asking for no heckling, threats, or other noise when speakers are at the microphone. Those rules went out the door when Consol Energy President Nick Deluliis gave his presentation, quoting the Duke Environmental Law Policy Forum.  

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Environment & Energy
7:53 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Emissions from Marcellus Shale Account for Small Portion of Health/Pollution Problems in PA

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In 2011, air pollutants from natural gas extraction and transportation in Pennsylvania cost the state between $7 million and $32 million in healthcare, agriculture, and infrastructure costs. That’s according to a recent study from the RAND Corporation. For comparison, the state’s largest coal-fired power plant alone cost $75 million in damages.

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Science & Technology
7:24 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Carnegie Museum Researchers Help "Find" Ancestor of Humans, Other Mammals

What’s bigger than a shrew and smaller than a squirrel?

It’s not a riddle for an international research team but rather part of the answer to a question the team explored.  With the 5,100 species of placentals alive today--from animals that walk, or fly or swim and, of course, humans, what could their common ancestor possibly look like. 

A team of 23 researchers has just completed a six-year groundbreaking study of the evolution of placental mammals, as they tried to construct “The Tree of Life” --well, at least the mammalian branches of that tree.

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Government & Politics
6:35 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Pittsburgh Controller Sees Improvement in Handling of Narcotics Fund

Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb says the Police Bureau’s administration of its Confiscated Narcotics Trust Fund has improved, but there is still work to do.

The Controller’s office this week released a follow-up to a November 2010 audit of the fund.

The fund pays for expenses associated with narcotics and undercover work performed by the Pittsburgh police. The money comes from cash and proceeds from the sale of items confiscated from local drug busts. The funds are reported to the federal government and the released back to the city.

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Arts & Culture
6:06 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Nationality Rooms Receive African Artifacts From Renowned Art Collector

The University of Pittsburgh’s African Heritage Classroom Committee has received a donation of eight important African artifacts from Ralph Proctor, a Pitt alumnus and professor at the Community College of Allegheny County who is a nationally recognized collector of African art.

Why donate? More like why not said Proctor, who has been associated with the room since its very beginning and just though it would be a good idea.

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Government & Politics
2:06 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

PA Budget Holds Mixed Bag for Agriculture

The governor’s budget proposal would mean a three percent boost in overall funding for the Department of Agriculture, due to special funds.  But Gov. Corbett wants to make a 10 percent cut to dollars earmarked for the agency in the state’s General Fund, and farmers are hoping some portion of that reduction can be rolled back.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau spokesman Mark O’Neill said not enough money is going toward crucial agricultural research programs run through Penn State, including Cooperative Extension.

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Science & Technology
8:39 am
Thu February 7, 2013

'A Digital Playground for Teachers'

In a bustling room jam-packed with hi-tech gadgets at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Waterfront office, Sam Cohen drags a cursor across his computer screen. A little pixilated dragon follows close behind. Sam and the dragon swerve to avoid airplanes, cars, and any number of other obstacles as they advance from level to level.

“This is my dragon, the basic sprite, and this first code here, that makes the dragon follow the mouse pointer," he explains, pointing to the screen.

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