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School Funding
5:34 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Cyber Charter Schools Raise Larger Questions About Public Ed Funding

As state lawmakers consider proposed changes to funding cyber charter schools, larger problems with how public education is funded are drawing attention. 

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Robotics
4:33 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Frisbee-Throwing, Climbing Robots Take Over Pitt’s Peterson Events Center

Students carry a robot as they prepare for a practice run Thursday as part of the FIRST Robotics Pittsburgh Regional Competition.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Frisbee-throwing robots are the main event in a competition at Pitt’s Peterson Events Center Friday and Saturday.

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Homestead Gang Violence
4:17 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

U.S. Attorney Announces Indictments of 'Uptown Crew'

Supervisory Special Agent Michael Christman speaks to reporters on Thursday, releasing details of a drug ring bust in Homewood. United States Attorney David Hickton is also pictured.
Credit Tim Camerato / 90.5 WESA

United States Attorney David Hickton announced the indictments of 34 people alleged to be part of Homestead’s “Uptown Crew” for violent offenses and the trafficking of heroin.

This morning, police arrested 29 of those charged in the criminal operation.

The investigation into the group was led by the FBI’s Safe Streets Taskforce beginning last year and implemented surveillance, control purchases, confidential tips and wiretapping to collect information on the gang.

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Environment
3:13 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Raises Funds to Protect State’s Beauty

Volunteers from Phillips Elementary in Pittsburgh work in the WPC garden at Carson St and Sarah St on the South Side.
Credit Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) has protected 230,000 acres of state land in its 71-year history. With the announcement of its first comprehensive fundraising campaign, the WPC seeks to safeguard even more of the state’s beauty. The WPC seeks to raise $40 million.

Though WPC may be best known for its management of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, a National Historic Landmark, they seek to conserve water, land and life in diverse environments throughout the region, said Tom Saunders, WPC President and CEO.

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Pennsylvania
1:34 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Police: Pa. Boy Calls 911 After Dad, Grandma OD

NEW BRIGHTON, Pa. — Police have charged a man and his mother with endangering a 10-year-old boy who called 911 when they passed out at home while allegedly using heroin.

The Beaver County Times reports police found both adults unresponsive when they arrived Friday evening.

Online court records don't list attorneys for 34-year-old Chad Kiser and 52-year-old Ginger Ray Foust of New Brighton. The boy is Kiser's son and Foust's grandson.

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Education & Learning
12:47 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Quarter Million Taken From Butler Catholic Church

A former secretary and bookkeeper at Holy Sepulcher School in Butler has been formally arraigned today on theft of funds charges. Officials at the Diocese of Pittsburgh said forensic audits found that as much as $250,000 was taken from the school by Lynn Tomlinson over a six-year period.

“With the assistance of diocesan auditors, we undertook a thorough financial investigation. Major diversions of school tuition, receipts and scrip purchases were revealed,” wrote Father Gizler, pastor of Holy Sepulcher, in a letter sent Thursday to parishioners and school parents. 

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City Finances
12:16 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Pittsburgh Council Questions City's Cash Management

As the FBI continues its investigation of the Pittsburgh Police Bureau's handling of finances, the City Council is exploring whether there should be an overhaul of cash management policies citywide.

The FBI is looking into the depositing of checks meant for the police bureau into an unauthorized account at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union.  Federal agents took records from the credit union and police finance and special events offices.

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Election 2013
10:08 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Poll Shows Corbett Losing to Potential Democratic Challengers

A new statewide poll measuring how Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett would fare against several possible Democratic challengers in 2014 finds Corbett might need all the time he can get between now and the general election.  That vote is more than a year and a half away.

If the gubernatorial election were tomorrow, a Quinnipiac University poll predicts Corbett would lose by nine points to former Democratic congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak.

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Pennsylvania
9:23 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Feds: W. Pa. Woman Collected Dead Dad's SS Checks

Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh say a woman collected $180,216 worth of Social Security benefits meant for her father — for nearly 23 years after he died.

Online court records don't list and age or address for Roni Halsel who is represented by the federal public defender's office, which has a blanket policy of not commenting on criminal cases.

But according to charges filed Wednesday, Halsel collected and cashed the checks meant for her father, Robert Shelton, who died Aug. 26, 1989. Authorities say the alleged thefts finally ended in July.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Choosing a New Pope

Cardinal Jorge M. Bergoglio SJ (later to become Pope Francis) celebrating mass in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He's the first Latin American Pope.
Credit Aibdescalzo / Wikipedia

It was white smoke and a new Pope Tuesday evening. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review Middle East correspondent, Betsy Hiel has been covering the historic event from Vatican City. She talks about reactions in Rome to the selection of Pope Francis.

And Pope Francis decided to adopt the name of the patron saint of the environment and animals--St Francis of Assisi. Catholic nuns who have devoted their lives to living in the way of St Francis were over the moon when the announcement was made. Our content partners at the Allegheny Front talked with the Sisters of St Francis of the Providence of God Convent in the White Hall section of Pittsburgh about the 12th century saint.

Then, Protocol and ceremony are always part of the selection of a new Pope. So what goes on behind the scenes in the Conclave? What went into the selection of Pope Francis, the first Latin American Pope? What's next for him? Duquesne University Law Professor and Canon Law Scholar, Nicholas Cafardi  talks about the conclave and the papacy.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

What's a St. Patrick's Day Parade Without Bag Pipes?

Taking a look at the history of the bag pipe and it's connection to St. Patrick's Day
Credit Bonnie Cousins / Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade

Award Winning Bagpiper, E.A. Channon, author of "Ballad of a Bagpiper: Whatever Blows Up Your Kilt" has performed for royals like Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana and icons like Bill Gates and President Reagan. He tells us everything we could possibly want to know about bagpipes.

Then, Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee Chairman Pat O'Brien joins us to talk about how the Steel City's St. Patty's Day parade has become the second biggest in the country.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Spa Day with the New Girl

Our Travel Contributor, Elaine Labalme also writes for the e-zine Pop City
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Whether it’s an exotic locale or a local day spa, a massage, facial and aromatherapy could be just what the doctor ordered. Travel contibutor Elaine Labalme offers some tempting spa suggestions.

Religion
5:36 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Bishop Zubik Welcomes New Pope

Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Bishop David Zubik welcomed the selection of a new pope.
Credit Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA

Pittsburghers are quickly reacting to the word that a new pope has been chosen including Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Bishop David Zubik who said he "prayerfully and joyfully" welcomes Pope Francis I.

“Our new Holy Father brings with him the experience of a dedicated pastor who has served the Church so well in his many years of ordained ministry,” said Zubik.  “That experience – and the rock-steady faith that has guided him – will be his comfort and strength in the challenging days ahead.”

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City Government
5:25 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Pittsburgh Council Holds Off on Off-Duty Police Reimbursement

Pittsburgh City Council postponed voting on two bills sponsored by Councilwomen Theresa Kail-Smith and Darlene Harris that would create a "Secondary Employment Trust Fund" as a depository for money earned by police from off-duty jobs as well as create a flat reimbursement for that work.  The reimbursement would be taken out of the trust fund account.  

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St. Patrick's Day Parade
5:13 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

More than 200,000 Expected For Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day Parade

Credit Jeff Meade/Flickr

On Saturday Pittsburgh's annual family-friendly St. Patrick's Day parade and festivities will begin at 10 a.m. The Pittsburgh parade is held March 17 or the Saturday immediately preceding that date.

Leave the green beer at home though, because city code prohibits drinking alcohol in public. The ordinance is more commonly known as the "Open Container Law."

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Transportation
3:06 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Eight Charged in T-Pike "Pay to Play" Scandal

Eight people are being charged for their alleged involvement in what the state attorney general is calling a “pay to play” scheme at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane said a grand jury investigation, which began in 2009 after public complaints, found that the Turnpike Commission has been awash with improper influence.

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Women's Rights
2:06 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

The Women's Rights Movement in Pittsburgh: 1967 to Today

The Women's Rights Movement is a feature of the 1968: The Year that Rocked America exhibit. Freedom Trash Cans were used during the 1968 Miss America Pageant protest as a way to discard things such as bras, Playboy magazines, girdles and other items in symbolic gesture.
Credit Heinz History Center

1968 was a notable year in American history, the Vietnam War was raging, Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated, and the Women’s movement was gaining national attention.

Pittsburgh was among the hotbeds of change with civil unrest in the hill district, war protests on campuses and through all of that, the women’s rights movement was charging forward.

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Pennsylvania
1:47 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Convicted State Supreme Court Justice Melvin Likely to Lose Sizeable Pension

Suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin stands to lose a sizeable state pension once she's sentenced on corruption charges in May.

Information obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press from the State Employees' Retirement System through a Right-to-Know request shows Melvin qualifies for a maximum annual pension of as much as $140,322.

The request also covered Melvin's sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie, who is serving a prison sentence in a related corruption case. Based on that information, the AP calculated Orie's maximum annual pension at $37,700.

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Government
12:55 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

911th Airlift Wing Will Not Be Closed, Will Remain at Full Strength

The United States Air Force announced today the 911th Airlift Wing will remain open through 2014, a decision based on funding years.
Credit Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA

The United States Air Force has announced it will not close the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township. The base had been slated for closure as cost saving measure, but federal, state, and local officials have been involved in a year-long fight to keep it open.

“All eight planes will remain, the 911th will remain at full strength, and also the 171st Air Refueling Wing will also remain at full strength with 16 planes. All in all, it’s great news for the region,” said Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18).

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Pennsylvania
11:46 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Mine on Pa.-W.Va. Border Still Closed Due to Smoke

A Consol Energy mine on the West Virginia-Pennsylvania line remains closed while officials check for a suspected underground fire that prompted the mine's evacuation.

Consol officials say elevated carbon monoxide levels in the Blacksville No. 2 mine shaft "suggest that we have smoldering or the possibility of a fire in the mine."

More than 120 day-shift workers were safely evacuated when the smoke was first spotted Tuesday afternoon.

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Government & Politics
9:34 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Genetically Modified Foods Might be Required to Carry Label in PA

Sam Bernhardt, a Pennsylvania organizer for Food & Water Watch speaks at a capitol rally for new GMO labeling legislation.
Credit Mary Wilson/90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania could follow in the footsteps of a popular retailer if one state lawmaker’s idea to require labels on genetically engineered foods takes root.

The national grocery store chain Whole Foods did something unprecedented in the country recently when it announced it would label all products containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in its U.S. and Canada stores by 2018.

A Pennsylvania Senate proposal would require the same of food manufacturers and distributors selling products in the commonwealth.

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Health
9:23 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Sen. Smith Wants State Tax Dollars Better Used for Nursing Home Care

A study released today by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare PA found that Pennsylvania nursing homes generated $511 million in net income for 2011, but one in three failed to fully spend state funds on direct resident care.

State Senators Matt Smith (D-Allegheny / Washington) and Sean Wiley (D-Erie) proposed three bills that would mandate minimum spending levels of state appropriations as well as require nursing homes to meet and report on staffing levels.

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Pennsylvania
8:37 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Puppy Lemon Law Updates Moves in PA House

A bill designed to help more puppy buyers get their money back after buying a sick or diseased dog is on its way to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

A bill passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday to strengthen Pennsylvania's 1997 Puppy Lemon Law in several ways.

Under the bill, the buyer could seek reimbursement for the treatment of incurable conditions, such as hip dysplasia. Currently, buyers may only get their money back for the treatment of curable conditions.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

South by Southwest: Spotlight on Pittsburgh

Each year, thousands gather at the Austin Texas Convention Center for SXSW Music, Film and Interactive conferences & festival
Credit Scott Beale / Flickr

One of the best known music events in the country is the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival. We'll take a look at the growing relationship between music and innovation at the festival, and how Pittsburgh innovation fits in. This year marked the first time Pittsburgh has had an official presence at SXSW. The Pittsburgh Innovation Party was hosted by Heinz College at CMU and the Pittsburgh Technology Council. Ari Lightman, Distinguished Service Professor and Director of the CIO institute at Heinz College and Brad Stephenson, senior web media and marketing manager at Heinz College have just returned from SXSW and talk about Pittsburgh's interactive presence.

And Pittsburgh-based electronic music Producer and DJ, Buku talks about his future plans, including a performance at SXSW, and the challenges of getting noticed in the music business. Sample his music at Soundcloud.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Christopher Kennedy Lawford: Kicking Habits and Recovering to Live

Christopher Kennedy Lawford has been sober for 24 years. Hear how he recovered from drug and alcohol addiction.
Credit Christopher Kennedy Lawford

New York Times Best selling Author, Activist, and Actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford  chronicled his battle with near-fatal drug and alcohol addiction in the memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal. We'll talk with him about his latest book RECOVER TO LIVE: Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction and his journey back to sobriety.

Government & Politics
4:44 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Wagner and Four Other New Names Enter Mayoral Race

Jack Wagner meets with reporters after filing his nominating petitions to run for Mayor in the Democratic primary.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

There are now seven candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Pittsburgh Mayor.

Joining Bill Peduto and Michael Lamb, who have been running for months, are State Senator Jim Ferlo, State Representative Jake Wheatley, City Council President Darlene Harris, Community Activist A.J. Richardson and former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner. 

Wagner filed his nominating petitions two-and-a-half hours before Tuesday’s deadline.

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Government & Politics
3:40 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

New Oakland Career Center Opens Doors

A once shuttered building in Oakland has been given new life as a place that residents can go if they are looking to launch a career or improve on the one they already have.  The Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (OPDC) will hold an Open House at its new Oakland Career Center at 294 Semple Street (corner of Louisa) on Wednesday at 4 o’clock.  

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Pine Creek Regulation
1:36 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

New Limits Could Make Pine Creek Safe for Fun

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is setting limits on pollution into Pine Creek—hoping to make fishing and recreation safe in the watershed.

Pine Creek flows through 14 municipalities in the North Hills of Allegheny County before joining the Allegheny River in Etna.

Jon Capacasa, Director of Water Protection Division in the EPA’s Mid-Atlantic region, said they are establishing a TMDL, or a Total Maximum Daily Load for Pine Creek,

A TMDL identifies the leading sources of pollution and assigns responsibility in reducing it to each major source. 

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Behavioral Health
12:47 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of PA Prisoners with Serious Mental Illness

The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Corrections on behalf of prisoners with serious mental illness alleging prisoners were not given adequate treatment in solitary confinement.

The lawsuit alleges the Department of Corrections violates the Eighth Amendment rights of prisoners with serious mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder by isolating them in solitary confinement and not offering them sufficient or proper treatment.

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Economy & Business
12:40 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

PA Unemployment Numbers Tell Only Half the Story

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate in January rose to 8.2 percent and is now at its highest point since October 2010 and Democrats in the state are hoping to use the numbers as political fodder.

The numbers were released Friday afternoon. By Monday morning, Senate Democrats were pointing to the report as all the proof they need to show the Corbett administration’s policies have failed to spur investment and, in turn, job creation.

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