News

Essential Pittsburgh: What Constitutes A Hate Crime?

Jun 22, 2015
AP Photo/David Goldman

The tragic massacre of members of an African American prayer group at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina has stunned the nation. While the shooting may be a hate crime South Carolina does not have laws to this effect. We’ll address what constitutes a hate crime with Wilson Huhn, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Akron, School of Law.

Huhn covers the severity of hate crimes and the grave repercussions compared to that of a non-hate crime:

"In all cases, in answer to punishment, it moves it from a less serious felony to a more serious felony, which means additional prison time. …With this particular crime, the motivation is one of the elements of the offense." -Wilson Huhn

Also, Samantha Bushman tackles the awkward stigma of sex education, transforming its delivery for a younger, and vastly unique generation. A new study links the ancient practice of yoga to increased health benefits for those with diabetes. 

The Pennsylvania House Health Committee approved a bill aiming to revise the state’s child care benefits so they gradually taper off as a family earns more income on Wednesday.

Casey Chafin / 90.5 WESA

  Local leaders and elected officials recited a pledge vowing to put an end to domestic assault and sexual abuse at a meeting Friday in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse.

Attendees spoke about why they choose to fight against domestic violence and signed a petition, but admitted they know words on a page won't begin to end the battle against domestic abuse.

bluedharma / Flickr

  It’s not every year you get to celebrate the completion of Mars’ revolution around the sun. In fact, it’s just under two.

According to NASA, one "year" on Mars lasts approximately 687 Earth days.

Pittsburgh marks World Refugee Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday in Market Square with musical performances, food and services for local refugees.

Agencies resettle about 500 refugees every year in the Pittsburgh area, an upward trend from 10 years ago. Most hail from Bhutan, Burma, Somalia and Iraq.

The city has become a hub for secondary migration for refugees initially placed in other areas who move to the Steel City for family, vibrant ethnic communities or employment opportunities. About a thousand secondary migrants have moved here every year since 2011.

Artists, bakers, professors, and ecologists are coming together to teach Pittsburghers how to write and perform spoken word poetry, how to bake a perfect loaf of bread, and how to incorporate plants in urban settings at the Steel City Folk School’s very first “pop-up event” this Saturday, June 20.

The folk school’s one-day event offers 11 half- and full-day courses to anyone interested in the Pittsburgh area.

But what exactly is a “folk school?"

The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum in Pittsburgh will be the first host of a traveling exhibit created to showcase the history of the flying disc. The exhibit coincides with the PDGA Professional World Disc Championships, which take place in Pittsburgh this August, according to The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA).

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 Each night at 6:59 p.m., the state-run lottery conducts a live drawing at the studios of WITF in Harrisburg. From behind the three cameras that face a Pennsylvania-festooned background and drawing machines, it’s possible to hear the control booth.

“Stand by ready to roll red in 5…4…3…2…1. Cue music.”

European Space Agency / flickr

Happy Martian New Year. That's right it's New Year's Day on Mars and it's being celebrated today and throughout this weekend in Mars, Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh. The goal of this three day celebration of the Red Planet is to encourage young people to pursue careers that will enable NASA's journey to Mars. Mars expert Jim Green who is NASA's Director of Planetary Science is giving a talk as part of this weekend's events and joins us by phone.

Green explains how exactly the Martian New Year works, and the reason we won’t be celebrating it next year:

“Mars is further away from the sun than we are so it has a longer year. In fact, there are more than 670 earth days to equal one year on mars. … So we won’t be celebrating this again for another two years.” -Jim Green

Also, the first Allegheny SolarFest will run completely on solar power and explore Western PA's options for renewable energy. Darren Miller takes on the Sub 3 Marathon on Lake Erie.

A year-long effort to take a hard look at the way state funding is distributed among schools has wrapped up with recommendations about how the state should divvy up any increases in education funding.  

A panel of lawmakers and state officials said the new funding formula will be fairer and based on tangible factors like population, poverty and tax base. A district’s wealth would be revisited every few years to adjust for changes. The population of students learning English as a second language would also be taken into account.

Local leaders announced $1.1 million in STEM funding for paid internships benefiting low-income, at-risk youth at a meeting Downtown on Thursday.

The 3 Rivers Workforce Investment Board will manage the pilot in partnership with city and county officials through the Learn and Earn program set up earlier this year. 

Pittsburgh-area Catholics can expect to hear about a topic this Sunday that is not usually the focus of their pastors’ homilies — the environment.

On Thursday, Pope Francis issued a teaching document laying out his theological argument on the imperative to curb climate change and protect the environment.

Francis framed climate change as an urgent moral issue in his encyclical, “Laudato Si’ (Praised Be),” and blamed global warming on an unfair, fossil fuel-based industrial model that harms the most poor.

In Rachel's opinion, the Urban Garden Party at the Mattress Factory is the social event of the year.

Rowhouse Cinema's one-year anniversary celebration features a marathon reprise of the year's most popular screenings.

21+ Night at the Carnegie Science Center is all about games.

Northside Sandwich Week is exactly what it sounds like.

Courtesy The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company

In most industries, companies want consumers to buy their products, not go make their own versions at home.

The craft beer world is not most industries.

The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company in Braddock will host the American Homebrewers Association for a rally celebrating all things craft and homebrewed beer from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Pennsylvania cities have more low-income households and fewer higher-earning households than the national average.

The Brookings Institution, analyzing data from the American Community Survey, broke up cities’ populations by what quintile of the national income distribution households fell into. The Brookings analysis found that “collectively, the smaller cities mirror the national income distribution almost exactly. In large cities, by contrast, both low-income (bottom 20 percent) and very high-income (top 5 percent) households are overrepresented.”

The Hill Community Development Corporation is holding a State of The Hill District event on Saturday.

Marimba Milliones, president of the CDC, said this event will be an opportunity for members of the community to learn about recent developments in the Hill District.

Milliones will discuss the Centre Avenue Redevelopment Plan at the event. She says it’s a plan that “honors the cultural legacy of the Hill District but contextualizes it in the future and the market that we can expect today.”

Office of State Senator Matt Smith

Last month Senator Matt Smith announced he would be leaving the PA State Senate. He departs Harrisburg to take over as head of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. Will his experience with the state legislature help in his new job?  He joins us for another in our series of exit interviews.

Smith indicates what he will miss most as a Pennsylvania State Legislator, specifically mentioning the relationships he has built with his colleagues and staff members: 

"The work that my staff has done for me over the last eight and a half years has enabled me to achieve the legislative success that I have been able to have in a bipartisan way. Really those relationships are always what’s tough when you move from one chapter of your life to the next chapter." -Matt Smith

Also, the Community Leadership Course for Veterans has won an award for utilizing the skills of Pittsburgh veterans to better the city. Elaine Labalme covers National Parks. 

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

John Tippins takes his nieces and daughter for an occasional ride on his farm in Ligonier -- on his tank.

That 1944 M4A3 Sherman is now parked in front of the Heinz History Center in the Strip Distrtict after a 60-mile journey Wednesday on a lowboy truck, which typically transports bulldozers, not military-grade vehicles. 

Tippins loaned it to the history center until Jan. 4 when the museum's World War II exhibition "We Can Do It" ends.

While the American West grapples with drought, lack of water isn’t much of a concern in Pennsylvania.

Still, it’s a natural resource that is finite. A bill in Harrisburg aims to promote the use of treated coal mine water rather than fresh water for natural gas development.

“It’s going to recycle the treated water that comes from a coal mine, which would typically be pumped right back into a mine to hold it,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington/Greene). “It would also really reduce the use of fresh water in the fracking process.”

Courtesy Jennifer England / Pink Coat Communications

Workers in Pennsylvania’s largest city now have the right to earn and use sick days without retaliation, thanks to a bill passed by Philadelphia City Council in February.

But for the state’s second biggest city, it might not be so straightforward.

A bill in the state House Labor and Industry Committee would prohibit municipal governments from mandating that businesses offer sick leave to employees.

Mary Wilson / WITF

A Republican state senator has officially announced his bid to take the state’s Office of Attorney General from the embattled Kathleen Kane, the first Democrat to win the seat.

Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) made his announcement flanked by fellow GOP state senators, police and fire fighters union leaders, and other representatives of law enforcement.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Pennsylvania school districts whose communities are similar economically are supposed to receive about the same amount of money per student from the state.

But officials have long complained that isn't happening.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Port Authority of Allegheny County officials are considering charging up to a $5 fee for their credit card-like ConnectCards to help offset more than $1 million already incurred to purchase and support their use.

More than 350,000 ConnectCards have been distributed for free since they began replacing paper passes and tickets in 2012. Spokesman Jim Ritchie said the authority swallows about $2.95 per card.

The proposed $5 charge would make the program more sustainable, he said.

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

Bill Fuller is the corporate chef for the big Burrito Group, a restaurant company that began in Pittsburgh two decades ago. Fuller grew up in Dubois, a small town a couple hours northeast of Pittsburgh and pursued degrees in chemistry before learning about the upstart restaurant group. He joined the team as a chef and today big Burrito has a portfolio of 5 specialty restaurants, 13 Mad Mex restaurants and a catering company.

In this segment of On The House, Larkin Page-Jacobs visits the kitchen at Eleven in the Strip District to ask Fuller what exactly the corporate chef job entails.

BikePGH

Pittsburgh is putting more capital budget dollars into bicycle lanes and infrastructure this year than it has in recent memory, but it’s still not enough to accommodate the growing number of cyclists on the road, according to Patrick Roberts, Pittsburgh's principal transportation planner.

Essential Pittsburgh: Monthly De-Brief With Mayor Peduto

Jun 17, 2015
Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto makes his monthly visit to the program. Among the issues we'll discuss are why Pittsburgh's homicide rate is getting federal scrutiny, his executive order enacting a long-term, strategic investment and maintenance plan for city owned facilities and the recently held CEO's for Cities Innovative + Inclusive City Workshop.

Mayor Peduto presents a new approach Pittsburgh officials are working on to better regulate and diminish crime in the area:

"There's an ongoing partnership that we've created with the Department of Justice in one of the few cities around the country to create, over the next few years, the model of community policing. Our officers have been engaged in participating in community events that occur. We're working it from both ends... to be able to not only just solve crime but try to stop crime." -Mayor Bill Peduto

Also in the program, Andy Masich explains Point State Park's involvement in Pittsburgh's legacy and we'll learn how Pittsburgh is celebrating World Refugee Day, locally. 

Women and Girls Foundation

One hundred high school girls are in Harrisburg this week shadowing legislators and participating in their own mock congress to kick off this year’s GirlGov program.

GirlGov was created in 2009 as an offshoot of the Women and Girls Foundation’s Girls as Grantmakers program.

Heather Arnet, CEO of the foundation, said they set aside $10,000 in grant money and asked the girls to work out how to appropriate the funds during their pseudo-congressional session.

Inventors are showing off their products to more than one thousand potential investors at the invention exhibition INPEX happening now through Thursday at the Monroeville Convention Center.

The trade show is open only to business attendees Tuesday and Wednesday, but will be open to the general public Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is a $10 entry fee at the door.

AP Photo/Ralph Wilson

Somehow Pennsylvania lost 160,000 gas industry jobs overnight.

What happened? Did drillers flee at the specter of a new tax on production? Not quite. Although companies have been laying off workers and cutting costs– lackluster market conditions don’t explain this shift.

glindsay65 / flickr

The manhunt continues for two escaped prisoners in the northeastern section of New York State. One of the men was serving a life sentence while the other, 25 years to life. The escapees present a danger to the public. However, what happens when prisoners serving a life sentence are diagnosed with a terminal illness? While they may not be a threat to the public should they be released? Public Source reporter Jeffrey Benzing looked at the issue of compassionate release and joins us in studio to address the topic. (starts at 11:56)

Benzing discusses the factors judges take into consideration when determining whether an inmate should qualify for compassionate release:

"The judge has the discretion to look at the threat to public safety. If there’s a risk for escape or someone committing some other awful heinous crime, that’s certainly something the judge considers. They hear testimony from the prosecutor. … They also can hear from the victim. It’s ultimately up to the judge to decide, but each of these parties is able to object if they wish to." –Jeffrey Benzing

Also, State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown removes his name after losing the Senate confirmation vote. WESA Celebrates tells the story of the day the South Fork Dam Broke, and a CMU grad travels to Vietnam to remove mines and bombs that still make the Quang Tri Province dangerous long after war's end.

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