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Government & Politics
11:51 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Scarnati Backtracks on Tactics For Liquor Privatization

You can’t always get what you want in the state Capitol. But if you do, it’s all right to claim the high ground afterward.

Gov. Corbett is expected to announce Wednesday afternoon his plan to privatize the state’s liquor stores, less than a week before his budget address. But Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati is already wrinkling his nose at the plan and espousing a bargaining philosophy that’s exactly the opposite of what he’s said in the past.

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Government & Politics
10:28 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Governor Corbett Announces Funding for More State Police Training

In advance of Presenting Pennsylvania’s budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, Governor Tom Corbett announced Tuesday it will include plans to fund three new State Police classes. By the end of FY 2014, 290 new cadets will be trained. This, said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, comes at a critical time.

“The responsibilities of the Pennsylvania State Police continue to increase and because of retirements and some spaces for classes we didn’t have, our manpower is about 500 below what our compliment is supposed to be,” he said.

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Science & Technology
8:18 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

W28C4 Y68R P27S9O73S... (Watch Your Passwords)!

While teachers may have scolded your bad grammar in school, it could make for a stronger password.

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have built a password cracker that takes into account grammar and parts of speech to steal a password.

Ashwini Rao, a software engineering Ph.D. student at CMU who led the research team, said the cracker is different from others out there.

“Those take one dictionary word and make changes to it. They could combine maybe at max two words, but not more than that.”

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Government & Politics
7:27 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Pavlot Grilled in Orie Melvin Trail

Suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin's defense attorney is trying to cast doubt on the authenticity of documents prosecutors say ties the jurist to illegal campaigning in the office of her sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie.

Defense attorney Dan Brier asked the senator's former chief of staff Jamie Pavlot how documents dated in 2010 got into the files of political-related material that Pavlot testified she took home from Orie's office in November 2009 and turned over to prosecutors later that month.

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Transportation
7:01 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

AIRMALL Renovates to Draw in More Customers

The center core in the landside terminal of Pittsburgh International Airport will look very different once renovations to update its retail space are finished at the end of this year.

AIRMALL USA, the operator of Pittsburgh International’s shops and restaurants is beginning a $10 million project to increase business in the airport’s stores.  Because of federal security rules only ticketed passengers can access the mall's stores.

Jay Kruisselbrink, vice president of development for AIRMALL, said the changes will reflect the airport’s transformation over 20 years.

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Government & Politics
6:51 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Gov. Corbett's Approval Rating Tumbles

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s mid-term approval rating is the lowest it’s been since last June.  A Quinnipiac University poll finds 42 percent of registered voters disapprove of the way the governor is handling his job, while 36 percent approve of his efforts.

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Science & Technology
8:18 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Pittsburgh Researchers: Online and Mobile Technology Could Mark the End of Total Privacy

More than one billion people around the world are active on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and more than a billion people have smart phones. To mark “Data Privacy Day” professors at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science hosted a panel examining how mobile apps and social networking impact user privacy. The consensus was that as of now, mobile privacy is unchartered territory.

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Economy & Business
8:18 am
Tue January 29, 2013

DEP Expands Its Rebate Program For Alternative Fuel Vehicles

The Department of Environmental Protection is close to reaching a milestone and as a result is offering more rewards to drivers who want to purchase alternative fuel powered cars and trucks.

The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Rebate Program will be extended once it reaches its milestone of awarding 500 rebates of $3,500 for large-battery system plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery-electric vehicles.

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Government & Politics
8:26 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

PA Budget Chief: Pension Reforms Essential

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's chief budget adviser says his boss is likely to call for a reduction in future pension benefits for current employees in next week's budget speech.

Speaking at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg on Monday, state Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said deep cuts in education or other programs are inevitable unless the rising cost of Pennsylvania's two major public pension funds is reined in.

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Government & Politics
8:19 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

B-PEP Unhappy With Pittsburgh Police Review Board Appointment

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Pittsburgh City Council will vote Tuesday on the confirmation of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s nominee, Karen McLellan, to fill an unexpired term on the Citizen Police Review Board.  With the expected confirmation of McLellan, the CPRB will consist of four white males, two black females, and one white female.

Tim Stevens, Chairman of B-PEP, the Black Political Empowerment Project, said there should be an African-American male on the CPRB.  

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Government & Politics
6:43 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Former Aide For Sen. Orie Testifies in Justice Orie Melvin's Trial

<Strong> Updated 7:36am </strong>The case against Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin continues Tuesday with the cross examination of a key witness who testified Monday that the suspended justice tried to cover up alleged campaign corruption in the office of her sister, former state senator Jane Orie.

Jamie Pavlot was chief of staff for Sen. Orie, when the Allegheny County district attorney began investigating in 2009 whether Orie and Melvin — then a Superior Court judge — were misusing their respective state-funded staffs to do campaign work.

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Government & Politics
6:02 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

County Commissioners Jump on Block Grant Bandwagon

County commissioners across Pennsylvania are calling for a statewide expansion of a relatively new effort to change the way the state funds human services programs.  The state launched a pilot program where human service funds once earmarked for seven different services are instead all put into a single pot.

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Science & Technology
5:49 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

New Supercomputer in Pittsburgh Can Discover Never-Seen Patterns in Large Data Sets

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The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) is introducing its latest, one-of-a-kind supercomputer to the national community Friday.

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Education & Learning
8:17 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Are School Vouchers A Fit in Pennsylvania?

This week is National School Choice week, and with events from California to New York, the debate over school vouchers is still hard fought.

School vouchers, or "Opportunity Scholarships" as supporters call them, are tuition certificates issued by the government to a family allowing students to apply that money towards private schooling.

Steve Robinson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), believes vouchers are unpopular, unaffordable, and unproven.

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Health
8:17 am
Mon January 28, 2013

GERD Connected to Adult-Onset Asthma

A study published earlier this month in JAMA Surgery established the link between two common diseases - Gastroesophageal reflux disease also known as GERD and adult-onset asthma – which can be caused by GERD.

“That’s a very challenging diagnosis to make oftentimes because up until recently we didn’t have technology that had the sensitivity that enabled us to make that diagnosis,” said Blair Jobe, one of the study’s authors and the Director of West Penn Allegheny’s Institute for the Treatment of Esophageal and Thoracic Disease.

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Government & Politics
8:17 am
Mon January 28, 2013

PA Senate Debates More Money For School Security, Including Armed Guards

The Pennsylvania Senate’s top office holder says he wants to see millions more in grants for schools trying to beef up their security.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, of Jefferson County, said in a co-sponsorship memo that the legislation was prompted by the “nationwide discussion on the issue of school safety” after school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last month.

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Government & Politics
8:17 am
Mon January 28, 2013

PA Dems Question Corbett's Pension Reforms

Pennsylvania State House Democrats are calling Governor Tom Corbett’s search for pension reforms wrong-headed, because rising costs are on track to subside. They say the key now is to find new revenue to pay for the debt connected to the state’s pension plans.

Corbett has repeatedly said since last summer he wants to find a way to tamp down rising pension costs.  Next fiscal year, state and public school employee pension costs will require an additional $530 million just from the state’s General Fund.

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Arts & Culture
8:17 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Speaking Volumes: John Allison

Editor and critic John Allison works on the Sunday Books section at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Though much of his week is spent sifting through boxes of galleys for forthcoming books, it hasn't dimmed his enthusiasm for the printed word.

David Lodge, Nice Work 

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Education & Learning
12:07 pm
Sun January 27, 2013

Lengthy Election Process Opens for Penn State Trustees

The latest election for Penn State trustee members may serve as another barometer of how well the university is recovering from scandal in the minds of alumni.

Only a housecleaning will do, some of the school's more vocal alumni say, in order for them to regain trust in school leadership following the turmoil that started in 2011 with the arrest of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on child sex abuse charges.

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Environment & Energy
11:57 am
Sun January 27, 2013

Focus On Fracking Diverts Attention From Horizontal Drilling

Mention the recent surge in oil and natural gas production in the U.S. and one word comes to mind for a lot of people: "fracking." Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial technique that uses water, sand and potentially hazardous chemicals to break up rock deep underground to release oil and natural gas.

But there's another technology that is just as responsible for drilling booms happening across the country: horizontal drilling.

Environmental Consequences

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Government & Politics
11:51 am
Sun January 27, 2013

Long-time Women’s Rights/Environmental Advocate Announces Run for Pittsburgh City Council

Jeanne Clark officially announced her candidacy for Pittsburgh City Council on Saturday, she’s seeking the District 8 seat currently held by Bill Peduto, who is running for Mayor. Clark said there are four main areas she will focus on, among them city finances.

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Government & Politics
12:00 pm
Sat January 26, 2013

State Legislation Would Address LGBT Bullying

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State Representative Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, is supporting House Bill 156, which provides for anti-bullying programs in Pennsylvania schools that would specifically protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.  

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Government & Politics
6:42 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Orie Melvin Defense Tells Jury to Look for the North Star

Attorneys for suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sister, Janine Orie made their opening arguments to a jury of 9 women and 3 men Friday morning in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas downtown.  The two co-defendants are accused of misusing government resources and staffers for Melvin’s state Supreme Court campaigns in 2003 and 2009.  There are also counts of conspiracy, tampering with evidence and official oppression.

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Government & Politics
6:28 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Pennsylvania Study to Examine Radiation Levels in Oil and Gas Development

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will conduct a study examining naturally-occurring levels of radioactivity in by-products associated with oil and natural gas development.

“In the coming months DEP is going to analyze the radiation levels in flowback water, treatment solids and drill cuttings and also look at how these wastes are getting transported, stored and disposed of,” said DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday.

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Transportation
6:04 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Snow Comes Fast to Pittsburgh Region

<strong>UPDATED 4:10pm:</strong> The first flakes of snow began to fall in the Pittsburgh area a little after 10:00am Friday and the first reports of slippery roads and sidewalks were not far behind.  A winter weather advisory remains in effect for most of southwestern Pennsylvania until 1:00am Saturday. 

The National Weather service is calling for 1-2 inches of accumulation with as much as six inches in the Laurel Highlands where the advisory does not expire until Saturday afternoon. 

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