News

Tensions Rise As Bill Cosby Jury Struggles To Reach Verdict

Jun 15, 2017
Matt Slocum / AP

As deliberations in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial continue into a fourth day Thursday, nerves are frayed, patience is shot and no one is certain when it will all end.

Some jurors appeared angry, the judge sounded exasperated and accuser Andrea Constand's mother broke down in tears Wednesday.

The sequestered jury has been at it for more than 27 hours since getting the case Monday, pausing a half-dozen times to revisit key evidence, including Cosby's decade-old admissions that he fondled Constand after giving her pills.

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University’s provost and chief academic officer, Farnam Jahanian, will take over as the school’s interim president next month.

The university’s board of trustees appointed Jahanian Wednesday. He’ll take over July 1.

Jahanian will follow Subra Suresh, who announced nearly two weeks ago that he will step down after a record-short tenure.

Matt Rourke / AP

A group of legislative Democrats are pushing no fewer than twelve bills on voter registration in the House and Senate. They would model expanded voting and voter registration in Pennsylvania after reforms already done in other states.

However, Democrats haven’t even been able to get the measures past the first stage of consideration in the GOP-controlled chambers—the House and Senate State Government Committees.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The tension between charter school advocates and those who support traditional schools often comes down to money. Charters are public and funded by tax dollars, but many argue the schools siphon scarce resources.

Last year, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called for an overhaul of the state’s charter school law.

“I am not saying we have the worst charter schools in the United States, " he said. "I am saying we have the worst charter school law in the United States." 

Irina Zhorov / Keystone Crossroads

The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously agreed Tuesday to create a bipartisan group tasked with investigating lead exposure in the state.

Cosby Jury Reviews Accuser's Testimony Amid Deliberations

Jun 14, 2017
Matt Slocum / AP

Jurors in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial reviewed portions of his accuser's testimony Wednesday as they deliberated for a third day over whether the 79-year-old star drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia estate.

Jurors made the request to have portions of Andrea Constand's testimony read back to them after deliberating about 21 hours without reaching a verdict in a case that has already helped demolish Cosby's nice-guy reputation.

Constand, 44, who spent seven hours on the stand last week, was in the gallery as the jury scrutinized her story.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade and rally drew an estimated 650,000 people downtown. Not bad for a city that, officially, has only 305,000 residents.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh is working to address the issue of lead in drinking water "on every front," according to Mayoral spokesman Tim McNulty.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Every day at Urban Academy Charter School in Pittsburgh’s Larimer neighborhood begins with students, teachers, support staff and administrators gathered in the cafeteria.

Mornings start with brief presentations on black history, followed by song: “I Believe I Can Fly,” the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and once in a while, a little Bruno Mars.

Gov. Tom Wolf / 90.5 WESA

Legislation’s being introduced in the Senate this week to change how Pennsylvania elects its lieutenant governor.

It was prompted by a scandal that hit Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack recently, which called attention to an apparent rift between himself and Governor Tom Wolf.

In its elections, Pennsylvania uses the relatively uncommon method of having the governor and lieutenant for either party run separately in the primary, and then together in the general election.

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Highmark Health says Allegheny Health Network will build a state-of-the-art cancer institute at Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital as part of a $200 million investment in cancer care.

The health network says about a half-dozen more community cancer treatment centers will be added in the region over the next two years. Officials didn't release the locations of the centers, which will bring as many as 175 health care jobs to western Pennsylvania, but said they would offer medical and radiation oncology care.

Brian Bruner/Bruner Photo / Farm Aid Flickr

Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp will headline Farm Aid 2017 at KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown in September, along with Dave Matthews, who became a board member in 2001.

The annual multi-artist concert to support and raise awareness about family farms and agriculture has been going since 1985. At that time, its goal was to keep small farms alive. The goal today has evolved, but organizers say the spirit remains.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny Health Network and Highmark are partnering to invest $200 million in a 50,000 square-foot academic cancer center on the North Side and satellite cancer care offices throughout the region.

Allegheny General Hospital president Jeff Cohen said the satellite centers are meant to improve access and make health care more affordable and convenient for patients.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The city is preparing for hundreds of thousands of people to flock to downtown Pittsburgh to celebrate the Penguins’ Stanley Cup win.

Road closures will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, with the parade starting at 11 a.m. It'll kick off on Grant Street and continue down the Boulevard of the Allies, ending with a rally at Point State Park.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Locks and dams on the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers are crucial to recreation, commerce and flood control. But local officials are worried the federal budget for 2018 won’t include money for an ongoing locks and dam project.

Frank Franklin II / AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee at 2:30 p.m. today, as the investigation continues into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

A deal that is expected to grow the region’s biotech sector has been inked by established biotech firm Helomics and the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse.

“We did a survey… and one of the things we recognized is the scientific community [in Pittsburgh] is missing an incubator where diagnostic people, pharmaceutical people and biotech people can get together,” Pittsburgh Life Science Greenhouse President and CEO James Jordan said.

Damian Dovarganes / AP

Automatic license plate readers – those cameras on police cars and light poles that capture plate numbers – have been in widespread use since the 1990s. But some argue regulations for how and how long police can use and store that information hasn’t kept up with the technology.

The Charges Against Bill Cosby And The Sentences They Carry

Jun 13, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

The fate of entertainer Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges is in the hands of a jury near Philadelphia, which began deliberations Monday.

A look at the charges, and the punishment he could face if convicted:

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WHAT IS COSBY ACCUSED OF?

Barney Moss / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s children are faring a bit better than their counterparts nationally in education, according to a new report form the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The 2017 Kids Count Data Book ranks the commonwealth 18th in the U.S. for overall child well-being.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

A route was selected, preliminary studies were planned and local officials intended to submit grant applications to fund the Bus Rapid Transit corridor in the fall.

Those plans may now be on hold.

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget provides no funding for new projects under the federal Capital Investment Grant which was expected to provide about $80 to $100 million for the roughly $233 million project, said Robert Rubinstein, executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

CMU Scientists Help Clairton Residents Find Out What's In Their Air

Jun 13, 2017
Kara Holsopple / AP

R. Subramanian has been working on air quality issues for about 15 years. He started with a background in mechanical engineering, then added chemistry and atmospheric science while working on a Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University.

“There are problems to be solved. And I’m an engineer. And I will learn what I need to solve them.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Fourth grade students at Propel Hazelwood gathered in a circle around another student summarizing a class text. As she spoke, each student gave her a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Jay LaPrete / AP

Time is running out for the millions of Pennsylvania eligible for a delinquent tax amnesty program being offered by the state.

The state legislature created the program as part of the 2016-17 budget with the expectation of collecting an additional $100 million in back taxes.  That’s on top of the roughly $600 million in back taxes collected each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Under the program, the state will waive the 5 percent penalty and half of the interest.

Pennsylvania Takes New Steps On Troubled Public Pension Plans

Jun 12, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania is moving to cut costs again in its big public pension plans, among the nation's most troubled.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Monday that's projected to provide a less expensive pension benefits structure for future school and state government employees beginning in 2019. It'll also shift some risk of investment losses off taxpayers and onto the public employees of tomorrow by introducing a 401(k)-style benefit.

Cosby Lawyer Tells Jury Comedian And Accuser Were Lovers

Jun 12, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Bill Cosby's trial raced toward a close Monday, with his lawyer telling the jury that the comedian and the woman who accuses him of drugging and molesting her were lovers who had enjoyed secret "romantic interludes."

Declining to take the stand in his own defense, the 79-year-old TV star left it to his attorney to argue that Cosby's 2004 sexual encounter with Andrea Constand was consensual. Lawyer Brian McMonagle said in his closing argument that while Cosby had been unfaithful to his wife, he didn't commit a crime.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Nowhere in the country can someone work 40 hours a week at a minimum-wage job and afford a two-bedroom apartment, according to a study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

On average, a Pennsylvanian earning minimum wage would have to work 83 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom rental.

There are a lot of misconceptions about low-income earners. Primarily, that they’re not working hard enough, said Phyllis Chamberlain, executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Mary Ann Merranko went to see one of her favorite bands, Rusted Root, at the now defunct venue The Beehive in Oakland in 2001.

She made her way to the front of the crowd and ended up right next to the speaker. When she emerged onto Forbes Avenue later that night, she noticed a ringing in her ears.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Consultant Brian Burley says his new book YNGBLKPGH (Young Black Pittsburgh) is proof that his community produces a lot of success stories and that the next generation can go even farther.

The book highlights 140 black professionals from the city. Each wrote an open letter to fellow young, black Pittsburghers.

90.5 WESA’s Virginia Alvino Young talked to the author about his book and the social movement Burley says he hopes it will create. 

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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