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Science & Technology
7:00 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Searching For Savings, Drivers Turn To Natural Gas

Whether it's men­tal, writ­ten on an enve­lope or metic­u­lously doc­u­mented in a spread­sheet, a list of pros and cons often plays a role in the pur­chase of a new car.

What's the mileage like? How safe is it? How's it look?

If a shop­per was weigh­ing whether or not to buy a nat­ural gas-fueled car, the top item on the "pro" side would with­out a doubt be the cost of fuel: right now the gallon-equivalent of com­pressed nat­ural gas costs less than half as much as a gal­lon of gasoline.

Local
7:00 am
Thu July 5, 2012

School Districts Save Millions With AIU Joint Purchasing Committee

In a time of education budget cuts, several school districts in western Pennsylvania will be saving millions of dollars over the next year by teaming up to lower energy prices. The Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) has locked in low prices for gasoline, heating oil, and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel for districts throughout the region.

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Environment
7:00 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

DEP Underground Storage Tank Cleaup Will Continue Through 2017

A 5-year law extension, signed during the budget debate last week by Governor Corbett, will enable the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to continue to carry out its job of preventing and cleaning contamination caused by abandoned and/or leaking underground storage tanks. The program, which would have expired Saturday, has been extended through June 30, 2017.

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Local
5:20 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

Pittsburgh Joins National Effort to Raise Reading Proficiency by Third Grade

A coalition of lawmakers, charitable organizations, community foundations, businesses, and others will work together to boost literacy levels in young children. Pittsburgh this week became a charter member of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Communities Network. It's an effort that seeks to ensure all children can read well by third grade.

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Environment
5:00 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

Local Conservation Group Working For Sustainable Future

Members of the Student Conservation Association's (SCA) Green Cities Sustainability Corps program have fanned out throughout the region to work to implement climate action plans. It is all part of the service-learning projects taken on by the students and young adults in the program that aims to introduce initiatives to ensure a sustainable future.

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Health
7:00 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Study Shows Moderate Alcohol Consumption Enhances Social Bonding

The next time someone suggests going out for a drink, you may want to take them up on their offer because it could improve your friendship. A new study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh reveals moderate alcohol consumption in a social setting can increase positive emotions and decrease negative emotions while enhancing bonding among peers.

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Science & Technology
6:30 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

The Sounds of Science

For over a century, scientists have known that gases in the atmosphere can trap heat, making the planet warmer. To illustrate this Greenhouse Effect, we recorded a pair of singers, David Jennings-Smith, a singer with the Pittsburgh Opera, and Pittsburgh vocalist Angela Morelli.

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Government
6:15 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

President Visits Pittsburgh Friday

President Barack Obama will conclude a two-day campaign bus tour in Pittsburgh Friday afternoon with a public event at Carnegie Mellon University.

Mr. Obama's "Betting on America" tour will make stops in Maumee, Parma and Sandusky, Ohio before coming to Pennsylvania. Ben LaBolt, the national press secretary for the Obama campaign, said the president will speak to the need to continued investment in America.

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Government
6:00 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

New Law ‘Finally’ Allows Expert Witnesses in Sexual Assault Trials

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are able to call upon expert witnesses in sexual assault trials, under a new state law.

Kristen Houser of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape said Pennsylvania is the last state to allow expert testimony in sexual assault cases.

She said social workers, psychologists, counselors, and other experts can now tell jurors about "the range of normal behaviors that a victim may exhibit" following sexual assault.

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Government
5:10 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Senator Jay Costa: Don't Hold Speical Election

In a letter to Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, State Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) requested there not be a special election held in Pennsylvania's 37th District to replace Senator John Pippy (R-Allegheny). Pippy resigned this past weekend after the 2012-2013 budget was signed.

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Government
4:00 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

County Council to Consider Allowing Councilmembers to Run for Office without Leaving Office

The Allegheny County Council this evening will consider an ordinance that would ask voters to decide if its members can stay in office while seeking another elected position. Currently the home rule charter stipulates that if any of the part-time councilmembers want to run for higher office, they must resign.

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Transportation
7:00 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Huge Tugboat to Raise Awareness of Decrepit Locks & Dams

A 6,000 horsepower tugboat can lug around quite a bit of freight.

But when the AEP Legacy docked along the North Shore of the Allegheny River today, its most precious cargo was a message of warning.

"The infrastructure on the inland river system is in a dire state of repair," said Gretchen Chamberlain of AEP River Operations. Her company ships fourteen million tons of goods in and out of Pittsburgh every year, everything from glass and grain to coal and steel.

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Government
7:00 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Congressman Doyle Among Those Who Walked Off Floor During Holder Vote

Last week, as the U.S. House was preparing to take a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal and civil contempt for refusing to turn over documents related to the bungled gun-trafficking investigation known as Fast and Furious, more than 100 congressional members walked off the floor in protest. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) was among them.

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Local
7:45 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Pubilc School Teachers Will Be Evaluated With New Scoring Rubric

The commonwealth's school districts will have a new way of grading its teachers during the next academic year, but educators in state-funded charter schools won't be affected. The overhauled evaluations for traditional public schools use a wider range of scores, and at least half of a teacher's rating will be based in part on student performance.

The change is part of a bill passed during the budget debate in the final moments of the state's fiscal year.

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Government
7:15 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Pippy Resigns From Senate

John Pippy is ready for a new career. Pippy, a Republican from Moon Township, resigned his state Senate seat over the weekend after seven years in the House and nine in the Senate. Pippy announced in January that he would not run for reelection in the 37th district and leaves with five months remaining in his term.

"I felt like now was the time," said Pippy. "[When] you're realizing how much you're missing in the family life, I think that's probably a good indicator that it's time to try something different."

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Health
7:00 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Protesters Line Up Outside New UPMC Facility

Even though their community hospital is gone, Braddock residents gathered outside the new UPMC East hospital in Monroeville today to protest the facility's grand opening. The protesters complain that the old Braddock hospital was closed to make way for the new hospital. They see it as swapping healthcare for poor and minorities in exchange for healthcare for well-off suburbanites.

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Environment
6:00 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Pennsylvania Environmental Group says State Budget is a Mixed Bag

Citizen-based group PennEnvironment is applauding state lawmakers for working to restore funding to a couple of programs that had been on the chopping block in Governor Tom Corbett's initial budget proposal. Still, the group isn't over the moon about the recently-passed spending plan.

"The best you can say about the budget when it comes to the environment is it could have been a lot worse. Fortunately there were a number of rollbacks that were passed as part of the budget," said PennEnvironment Director David Masur.

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Science & Technology
5:45 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Summer Gas Bill Moves To Governor's Desk

With summer now in full swing, the State Senate has agreed to amendments made by the House to the Federal Clean Air Act in relation to compliance with requirements for low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) gasoline, more commonly known as "summer gas." The legislation aims to make gasoline cheaper for motorists in western Pennsylvania.

Michael Rader, Executive Director to the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said the original goal was to do away with the high-cost gasoline.

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Local
12:45 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

911th Gets Another Year

The 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township has been given a one-year stay of execution. Local supporters hope it is enough time for them to make their case.

The Defense Department has told the Air Force to postpone a decision on whether to close the facility as part of a force-wide cost saving effort.

Congressman Tim Murphy (R-18) said he and other legislators received a letter from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta explaining the order to hold off on a decision on the facility for at least one more year.

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Health
7:00 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Motorcycle Ride to Raise Awareness of Need for Organ Donors

A sizeable caravan of bikers will motor from West Mifflin to Morgantown later this month for "Operation Pledge-for-Life," a motorcycle ride to raise awareness of the need for organ donors.

The not-for-profit Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) is hosting the event for the second year running.

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Arts
7:00 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Summer Reads at the WYEP Summer Music Festival

Oakland's Schenley Plaza, just across from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh main branch, is one of the city's best places to relax with a book on a warm summer evening. It's also a great spot to enjoy live outdoor music. Josh Raulerson found plenty of people doing both on a recent Friday night, during the 2012 WYEP Summer Music Festival.

Some recommended titles for summer reading:

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Health
7:00 am
Mon July 2, 2012

UPMC Opens New Hospital in Monroeville

Today, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is opening a new 156-bed hospital in Monroeville. UPMC expects the facility to create a few hundred new jobs.

The new $250 million UPMC East hospital is about a mile away from the Forbes Regional Medical Center run by UPMC's rival, West Penn Allegheny Health System.

UPMC East President Mark Sevco said it was not built to compete with Forbes Regional. "Our focus isn't on Forbes at all. It's about spreading out and smoothing the demand for UPMC services across our system," said Sevco.

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Environment
7:00 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Game Commission Wants to Crack Down on Illegal ATV Use on Game Lands

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is looking to crack down on all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use on game lands and leased properties. The board of Game Commissioners proposed game commission officials be allowed to cite those who are illegally operating an ATV or snowmobile on game lands.

Jerry Feaser, Press Secretary for the Commission, said without the authority, there is no guarantee justice will be served.

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Local
7:00 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Effort Underway to Spark Civil Participation in Community Design and Planning

Design Allies is an education and advocacy initiative funded by the Heinz Endowments, with the goal of increasing citizens' engagement and advocacy for their neighborhoods, as well as their city and region. It's one of three core programs of the Design Center and intended to be a place on the web for people to have conversations about design, planning, and public policy.

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