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Government
5:17 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

PA Republicans View of Fiscal Cliff Differs from Democrats

Earlier this week several Democratic lawmakers from across the state called for a fiscal cliff deal that increases revenue to cities, but G-O-P county commissioners aren’t singing the same tune.

Lancaster County Commissioner Scott Martin said of more concern for him is that a fiscal cliff deal won’t cut spending enough.

“We have the ability locally to provide services and tax for those services,” he said. “If we can’t afford it, maybe we shouldn’t be doing it.”

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Science & Technology
12:16 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Are Electronic Health Records Safe, Secure?

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/EHR Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

The increasing use of electronic health records (EHRs) raises a concern for patient safety and their sensitive medical information.  Some claim it's just as easy for a doctor to write a prescription for the wrong drug on paper than it is to pick the wrong medication from a drop-down menu on a computer.  Critics of EHRs claim that patient safety and confidentiality is compromised when records are put on a computer server.

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Health
12:16 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

The Victims Of DUI

Pennsylvania might have fewer DUI-related crashes than it did in the past, but each DUI still has a victim.

That was the point of a discussion at a City Council session chaired by Council member Bruce Kraus to discuss driving under the influence.

Kraus represents the South Side—the scene of some recent highly publicized DUI incidents.

One such incident Kraus noted allegedly involved Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Alameda Ta’amu, a fourth-round pick out of the University of Washington.

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Economy
8:28 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Fancy Sodas Gaining in Popularity in the U.S. - Pittsburgh-area Store Putting an Adult Spin on the

You can walk into any gas station or grocery store and find an array of national-brand sodas. At Village Candy in Sewickely you will find a soda case – but you won’t find Pepsi, Sprite, or Mountain Dew. The small store stocks different sodas from around the world.

 “We have bacon soda, we have something called Leninade, we have black lemonade” said owner Doug Alpern.

Craft sodas aren’t quite on the same playing field as craft beers.

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Economy
9:25 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Chemical Industry Could Reuse Brownfields to Develop Shale Gas, says Trade Group

Abandoned industrial sites or "brownfields" across Pennsylvania could be key to the continued development of the state's natural gas industry, according to a trade group of businesses tied to the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation.

At a conference on brownfield redevelopment in Monroeville on Tuesday, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) said brownfield sites are not so much ideal for drilling as they are for large-scale industrial operations related to natural gas, including the processing of gas byproducts into plastics and other products.

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Government
9:06 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Senate Democrats Push for Transportation Funding

Pennsylvania cannot afford to keep waiting for a solution to the state’s transportation funding problems, say two Senate Democrats.

State Senators John Wozniak (D-Cambria County) and Tim Solobay (D-Washington County) are asking Governor Tom Corbett and the legislature to focus on finding more revenue to support the state’s infrastructure problems when they return to Harrisburg for a new session in January.

Senator Tim Solobay said fixing transportation infrastructure is a matter of safety.

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Health
8:39 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Deadline Nears For PA-Run Health Insurance Exchange

State Senate Democrats are making one last, largely symbolic effort to get the governor to put Pennsylvania's health care exchange firmly in state regulators'’ hands.   Governor Corbett has said even if the exchange isn'’t run by the state from the outset, he can always opt to switch from a federally-run exchange to one that is overseen by the commonwealth. 

Senator Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia), a member of the Banking and Insurance Committee, acknowledged that's an option.

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Government
8:35 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Makes Changes in Juvenile Justice System

New changes made by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court aim to speed the appellate review of cases where juvenile offenders are placed outside their homes in court delinquency matters. These are the types of cases in which juveniles are usually sent to a detention center of a residential facility.

The changes mark a difference in the length of time out-of-placement cases are reviewed.

Court officials say this should help appellate courts identify instances of sentencing abuse, as was the case in Luzerne County. 

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Government
7:31 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Pittsburgh Landlord Shame Law Passed

A bill that would use shame to try to get Pittsburgh landlords to clean up their properties is on its way to the mayor’s desk.  The final vote Tuesday came after the measure was amended twice--once to soften the legislation and once to make it a bit stronger. 

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Transportation
6:22 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Woman Struck by 3 Vehicles in Strip Dist. Dies

Pittsburgh police say a woman has died after being struck by three vehicles, including a box truck which left the scene.

Police say it's possible the truck driver didn't realize he had run over 53-year-old Judith Kollar, of West Mifflin, about 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The incident happened in the Strip District, a section of the city dominated by vegetable and fresh food wholesalers, where freight trucks unload overnight and into the morning.

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Science & Technology
6:10 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

What Goes On At Google's Pittsburgh Office?

Google is one of the most high-profile companies contributing to Pittsburgh's resurrection as a tech industry hub, its familiar multicolored logo unmistakable atop the Bakery Square development its offices anchor. 

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Government
2:38 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Turnpike Blasted for Freebies

The Pennsylvania Turnpike could be paying a high price for a policy to allow free travel for employees, contractors, and state officials.

According to numbers from the Turnpike requested by the Auditor General’s office, the toll road lost $7.7 million dollars in toll revenue between 2007 and 2011 due to free passes it offers to employees and others for work and personal travel. The figure also includes toll fare never collected from consultants, contractors, State Police, PennDOT officials, and people from the governor and lieutenant governor’s offices.

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Local
12:41 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Navy SEAL From Monroeville Killed in Afghanistan

A Navy SEAL killed during a weekend rescue mission in Afghanistan was identified by the Pentagon on Monday as Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque of Monroeville, PA.

The 28-year-old died of combat-related injuries, the Defense Department said in a statement that gave no further details of the mission.

Checque was a member of SEAL Team Six, which freed an American doctor abducted by the Taliban. The same team killed Osama bin Laden last year, but it's unclear whether Checque was involved in the bin Laden mission.

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Government
9:21 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Businesses Learn About Disaster Preparedness, How They Can Help

A Corbett administration representative will brief the region's business leaders on the state's response to Hurricane Sandy as part of a Tuesday meet-and-greet between public emergency response officials and private sector leaders.

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Government
8:20 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Local Hospitals Will Lose Federal Subsidies

Hospitals provide care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. That care comes at a high cost. For years, the federal government has helped offset that cost. Now, with the Affordable Care Act, those payments will be reduced. 

More than 70,000 people a year pass through the Emergency Room doors of UPMC Mercy in Uptown. They come via helicopter or ambulance. They drive themselves or are driven by others. And Will Cook, the president of UPMC Mercy, says many just walk in.

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Government
11:19 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

PA Mayors Urge Congress Not to Cut Funding For Cities

As President Barack Obama and House and Senate leaders try to reach an agreement on revenues and spending cuts to avoid going over the "fiscal cliff," mayors across Pennsylvania are urging Congress to avoid large funding cuts for cities in the commonwealth.

“If the federal deficit reduction plan does not include significant new revenues, cities, and counties, and school districts all across Pennsylvania and across the country unfortunately will bear the significant burden of those reductions,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

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Government
11:15 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Pittsburghers Call on Casey to Stand with Middle Class – Raise Taxes for Wealthy

As talk of avoiding the fiscal cliff continues in Washington, a group of local labor leaders and community activists took to the streets of Pittsburgh to call on Senator Bob Casey to make good on his promise to “stand with the middle class.” Members of advocacy group One Pittsburgh spoke with Casey shortly after his re-election and said they were told he would.

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Health
11:10 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Family Sues Federal Government over Infection Death at VA Hospital

A North Hills family filed suit against the federal government Monday for the death of Navy veteran William Nicklas, who died of Legionnaire's disease contracted at a Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs hospital late last month.

The 87-year-old husband and father of three passed away on November 23, days after checking into the University Drive hospital in Oakland for health problems unrelated to Legionnaire's disease. Nicklas was one of five patients to contract the legionella pneumonia bacteria at the hospital over the past several months, but he was the only fatality.

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Government
5:48 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Parking Meter Enforcement: 6 PM or 10 PM?

Nearing the end of the year...facing a deadline over parking in the city of Pittsburgh.....sound familiar?  

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Government
5:35 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Corbett Not Pushing For Right-to-Work

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says he doesn't see a strong will to make Pennsylvania a "right-to-work" state, a key issue for conservatives as fellow industrial state Michigan is poised to become the 24th state to pass such a law.

The Republican governor told a radio interviewer Monday the lack of momentum has to do with local and state politics, but he didn't elaborate or say whether he'd support such legislation.

Right-to-work bills prohibit requirements that employees join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.

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Government
9:03 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Free Clinic Busy; Expects to Stay Busy Even With Affordable Care Act

As Annette Fetchko walks the corridors of Catholic Charities’ health clinic in downtown Pittsburgh the head administrator greets everyone she sees. There are doctors, nurses, pharmacists - and there are patients – all hues, shapes and sizes and from all over southwestern Pennsylvania. They’re here for medical care.

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Economy
9:03 am
Mon December 10, 2012

PNC Halts Evictions

Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services is suspending evictions this holiday season. No one will be kicked out of foreclosed homes for which PNC is the investor.

“We hope this suspension provides families who are experiencing financial hardship some stability over the holiday season,” said PNC Mortgage CEO Saiyid Naqvi. 

The company is not releasing details on how many families this could impact but PNC spokesperson Fred Solomon said it could be a substantial number given that PNC holds mortgages “from coast to coast.”

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Arts
9:03 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Speaking Volumes: Justin Aion

Woodland Hills math teacher Justin Aion uses young adult novels in the classroom and enjoys genre fiction in his downtime. Lately he's been reading:

 

David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

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Government
9:03 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Fight Over Voter ID Far From Done

State Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) assures he is not against the Voter ID law, but does have some ideas for improvement. In a letter to Governor Tom Corbett, he suggests state offices serve as intermediaries to make the process of obtaining a valid voter ID easier.

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Government
9:03 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Auditor General Elect Speaks Out on Lottery Plans

The state’s Auditor General-elect has joined Democratic colleagues in protesting the governor’s effort to put a private company in charge of the Pennsylvania Lottery. Eugene DePasquale said Thursday he won’t make a habit of speaking out about issues before he’s sworn in next month as the state’s top fiscal watchdog, but he said he felt compelled to raise his concerns since the deadline is fast approaching for the state to close a deal to privatize the Lottery.

“We should be able to take the time to make sure it’s a good deal for everyone, not just one company,” said DePasquale.

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