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Government
1:38 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Rally Calls For End To Human Trafficking

State lawmakers and human rights advocates rallied Tuesday at the state capitol in support of legislation aimed at putting an end to modern-day slavery.

Human trafficking is the second most pervasive crime in the world, behind drug trafficking. 

Under Senate Bill 388 and its companion, House Bill 235, the Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline number must be placed prominently in certain establishments and locations.

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Transportation
1:08 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Fancourt Bridge to Close

As of Thursday night the Francourt Bridge will be closed for long-term repairs, according to PennDOT District 11. The bridge carries the ramps from Fort Duquesne Blvd. to I-376.

Crews will be removing and replacing the superstructure, bridge deck, beams, bearing, and approach slabs during reconstruction.

Work will also be done on the walls adjacent to the bridge along the 10th Street Bypass.

Ramps from eastbound I-376 and southbound I-279 to the 10th Street Bypass will also close. According to PennDOT, the closures are necessary for work on the Fancourt Bridge.

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Economy
10:29 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Dozens Lobby City Council for 'Ban the Box' Legislation

Several dozen people gathered in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers Tuesday morning to demand that The Council pass a bill commonly known as "ban the box" legislation.

The bill would prohibit any criminal background inquiries on initial job applications for both public and private employers in the city, deferring those questions until the interview process. The measure was introduced last year by Council Finance Chair Ricky Burgess, but it is still awaiting a legal opinion from the city law department.

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Government
7:50 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Reported Crimes in Pennsylvania Decreased in 2011

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The overall number of crimes in the commonwealth dropped .7 percent in 2011, while violent crimes declined .9 percent and were at their lowest rate since 2003. The data comes from crimes reported to the State Police through the Uniform Crime Reporting System.

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Government
6:37 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

State Makes New Offers in Court to Move Voter ID Forward

At a court hearing Tuesday, Pennsylvania state officials once again produced an 11th-hour attempt to salvage a new law requiring all voters to show a particular kind of photo ID at the polls this November.

A senior Department of Transportation official, Kurt Myers, testified in Commonwealth Court that a newly streamlined process for get a voting-only photo ID card from the state was finalized Monday night in an effort to satisfy a week-old Supreme Court decision. The new process was supposed to become effective Tuesday morning.

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Government
6:25 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Labor Calls For Passage of Renewable Tax Credit

Ryan Motel was furloughed this year from his job making turbine parts at a Gamesa plant in Ebensburg Pennsylvania when demand for the company’s product slipped.  In all 73 workers from that plant and 165 Gamesa workers in Pennsylvania were sent home.  While Motel said the company did not tell him directly that the slowdown was a result of congress not taking action on the renewable electricity production tax credit, he said “[Gamesa] beat around the bush, that’s what it was.”

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Arts
6:17 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

This Week is Banned Books Week

Short films about banned books, a theater performance of The Wizard of Oz, and notable Pittsburghers reading from censored works will highlight Pittsburgh’s 17th Banned Books Week.

The ACLU of Greater Pittsburgh, in conjunction with the Carnegie Library and WYEP, is hosting “FREADom” on Thursday  to celebrate free expression in art and literature.  

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Government
2:00 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Pittsburgh Office Slow in Processing Veterans' Disabilities Claims

For more than two years, former Marine gunnery sergeant Matt Hannan has waited for a ruling on whether he is entitled to disability payments for PTSD.

The 35-year-old New Kensington resident said he filed the claim with the Veterans Benefits Administration before he was medically discharged in 2010, following 15 years of service and two tours of duty in Iraq. “Everytime I try to get an answer, I get no answer,” he said.

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Government
1:45 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Rendell Gives Mock Praise to Turzai

The state’s former governor is sweeping through Harrisburg to offer some mocking praise to the state House Majority Leader for a now-famous comment made in June.

On the eve of the state’s voter ID law’s second hearing in Commonwealth Court, Ed Rendell said it’s obvious the law was not passed to prevent voter fraud.

For that clarity, said the former governor, Pennsylvanians can thank the top Republican in the state House.

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Local
1:40 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Voter ID Goes Before Judge... Again

Pennsylvania’s voter ID law is heading back to the same Commonwealth Court judge who refused to block it last month.

Judge Robert Simpson will consider new information to help answer the question of whether or not the photo identification requirement at the polls is being implemented well enough that no voters will be denied their right to cast ballots.

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Government
7:35 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Medical Assistance Redetermination Process Frustrates Workers and Recipients; Produces Churn

Eva Bednar’s 44-year-old son Andrew is an epileptic, he has been diagnosed with intermitent explosive disorder and he is borderline intellectually disabled.  This summer he was one of thousands of adults who the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare cut from its medical assistance program for the poor and disabled.

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Transportation
7:35 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Electric Car Charging Station Now Open At Station Square

The next time you find yourself dining or shopping at Station Square on Pittsburgh's South Side and your electric car needs a charge, you don't have to worry about getting home.

Forest City Enterprises, the company which owns Station Square, has partnered with Car Charging Group (CCG) to install an electric car charging station that is now operational.  This is the latest car charging center in the Pittsburgh area. There are plug-in stations at some Giant Eagle supermarkets, UPMC hospitals as well as Whole Foods in Wexford.

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Health
7:35 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Profits for Pennsylvania’s Ambulatory Surgery Centers Up Slightly in 2011

Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) did slightly better in 2011 than they did in 2010 according to the Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council (PHC4). An ASC is a facility that individuals visit for outpatient procedures, rather than going into a hospital. These are procedures that don’t require an overnight stay, such as a colonoscopy or endoscopy.

The financial margins for such facilities rose to 25.19% in fiscal year 2011, compared to 24.99% in fiscal 2010.

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Government
1:35 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Former Pennsylvania Governor Sings Praise For House Majority Leader

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On the eve of the state’s Voter ID law’s second hearing in Commonwealth Court, Ed Rendell said it is obvious the law was not passed to prevent voter fraud. The former governor also said Pennsylvanians should be grateful of House Majority Leader Mike Turzai for comments he made about the Voter ID law last June.

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Government
10:07 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

City Council Holds Information Gathering Session on Strip District Development

Stakeholders met in Pittsburgh Council chambers Monday to try and answer questions posed by council members about the proposed “Riverfront Landing” development by Buncher Co. in the Strip District.

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Health
8:35 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Study Shows More Antibiotics Prescribed To Elderly Patients In The South

Elderly patients in the southern states might need to be more cautious when it comes to their medications.  A recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh shows doctors are more likely to prescribe antibiotics to older patients in the south than any other region in the United States.

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Transportation
8:30 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Smart Signals Cut Pollution and Travel Time

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they have been able to reduce travel time through an area of Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood by 26-percent and reduce car emissions by 20-percent through the installation of a smart signal system.  The project is part of the Traffic 21 Initiative looking at the place where traffic management and information management collide.

The project spent a little more than $150,000 to add video cameras and other technology to nine intersections around the Target store near Penn Circle in East Liberty.

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Government
6:44 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Open House for Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

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Women and minority business owners can receive some tips on how to better compete for government contracts.

Allegheny County’s Department of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (MWDBE) will host its ninth annual Open House tomorrow evening from 5:30 to 7:30 in the Liberty Room of the Human Services Building at One Smithfield Street downtown.  

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Education
6:44 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Pittsburgh & Irish Universities To Cooperate Through Student and Faculty Exchanges

Colleges and universities in Pittsburgh will cooperate with schools in Ireland on education, innovation, research and training.  The 10 members of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE)  will work with the 13 members of Ireland's Institutes of Technology which according to PCHE executive director Kenneth Service have a reputation for supporting business development.

Service says the partnership will initially be student exchange between Ireland and Pittsburgh, but then will expand into other ventures.

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Transportation
3:44 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Grant Street Ramps To I-376 Restricted For 2 Weeks

Motorists wanting to access eastbound I-376, the Parkway East, using Grant St. in downtown Pittsburgh will have to find an alternative for two weeks. There will also be some restrictions for the ramp from Grant St. to westbound I-376.

“Well the main ramp, the ramp that we are doing the work on to eastbound I-376, will be closed around the clock, and that will occur starting today through October 7," said PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi.  "The other ramp to westbound I-376 is only going to be closed at night from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night, including weekends."

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Government
2:34 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

NRC Meets with Nuclear Plant Owners

Senior management from FirstEnergy Operating Co. (FENOC) will sit down with officials from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NEC) Wednesday to discuss the performance of the company’s three nuclear power plants.

FENOC currently operates three plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio including Beaver Valley in Shippingport.

Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said they periodically meet with companies running nuclear power plants to discuss issues such as expectations of performance and the commission’s activities at the plants.

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Education
12:55 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Pennsylvania Envirothon Awarded With $300,000 Grant

Nearly 15,000 students from approximately 700 schools representing all 67 counties are expected to participate in this year’s Pennsylvania Envirothon. The long-standing environmental competition for high school students has received a $300,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

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Government
12:27 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Senators Argue Payday Loans In PA

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So-called payday loans are not legal in Pennsylvania, but a bill passed by the state House to allow them is now getting a vigorous hearing in the Senate.

Kerry Smith, an attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, said there is no great clamoring for short-term loans in the commonwealth. 

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Government
12:24 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

AG Candidates Spar Over Independence

Three candidates vying for the role of the state’s top fiscal watchdog have faced off in a debate in which independence and political ambitions were strong themes.

The major party candidates – Republican John Maher and Democrat Eugene DePasquale – are both running for re-election to their state House seats while each has a simultaneous bid for Auditor General.

Enter the Libertarian, self-appointed thorn-in-side to the two-party system.

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Government
9:00 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Major Changes Proposed In Child Welfare Practices

A state lawmaker is calling for changes in local child welfare practices, which could save the commonwealth money by moving children out of costly foster care and institutions. Meantime, child welfare advocates are asking to clarify legislation about the process of placing and counseling children.

The two measures aim to involve family members in the placement of children who receive services from Pennsylvania’s county child welfare offices.  Both bills would impose new rules about searching for next of kin and meeting with a child’s extended family.

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