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Government
8:53 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

No Help in Sight for PennDOT Money Woes

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/PennDOT Funding Wrap_Mary Wilson_SOC.mp3

An update to Pennsylvania’s Transportation Program reveals PennDOT will likely have to deal with lower funding levels for the next dozen years.  The report recently released by the State Transportation Commission estimates $41.6 billion dollars will be available for transportation projects, which is about $10 billion less than the previous update two years ago.

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Government
7:50 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

Public Comment Period for Toxics Ends With Gathering of Local Businesses, Groups

To mark the end of the public comment period for Allegheny County's proposed new air toxics guidelines, local community groups and businesses gathered outside of the Allegheny County Courthouse and delivered a letter to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald encouraging him to sign-off on the new guidelines.

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Health
5:35 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

State Gives CMU $1 Million to Study New Cancer Diagnostics

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has given a $983,783 grant to Carnegie Mellon University to fund two studies of a new digital scanner that could improve cancer diagnostics.

The two-year project will compare the scanner's capabilities with the current methods of diagnosing a tumor's status by placing a biopsy under a microscope. CMU principal investigator Dr. Robert Murphy said each study will focus on the diagnosis of a specific cancer.

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Government
5:22 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

State Lawmaker Wants Commonwealth to Consider All-Mail Elections

With the ongoing debate over the state’s new Voter ID law, at least one state lawmaker thinks it would be easier to move to mail-in ballots in the future. Representative Nick Kotik (D-Allegheny) introduced a bill months ago that would allow for all-mail elections. That is needed, he said, as the state’s voting system becomes antiquated, “we need to a whole host of options to make it easier and more convenient for people to vote, especially in today’s technological world, I mean I can envision a system down the road where there will be no more polling places.”

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Transportation
4:15 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

Gas Prices Up, Up, Up

Drivers have probably been noticing an upward spike in gasoline prices, and consumers might not see relief until October.  According to Gregg Laskowski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, the average price in Pittsburgh today is $3.67 a gallon which is up 4.5 cents in the past week and 32 cents “believe it or not” just in the past month. The national average is also $3.67 a gallon.

Laskowski said crude oil trading is around $93 a barrel, and unless that price decreases, gasoline prices will steadily rise in the coming weeks.

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Economy
7:00 am
Mon August 13, 2012

PUC Studied Power Companies' Responses To Outages

As many Pittsburghers were reminded in July, inclement weather can cause major power outages, which also results in problems for the state’s electric distribution companies (EDCs). Three reports released by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) detail the corrective actions being taken related to severe weather in 2011. Jennifer Kocher, Press Secretary for the PUC, said collectively, the reports were centered around the storm-related power outages.

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Government
7:00 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Juvenile Court Judges' Commission Making Changes to System

The Pennsylvania Juvenile Court System has been working the last few months to make changes so that it will comply with legislation passed in May. The law now requires the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission to collect and analyze data to identify trends and determine the effectiveness of programs to ensure reasonable administration in the system.

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Science & Technology
7:00 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Arts, Crafts, & Robots: New Kit Brings Technology to Classrooms

Most teachers are preparing for the upcoming school year by organizing markers, pencils, and notebooks, but others will spend the next few weeks fiddling with wires, sensors and motherboards. Dozens of teachers across the region will help their students build robots this fall with the new “Hummingbird” robotics craft kit created by a local startup company.

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Economy
7:00 am
Mon August 13, 2012

U.S. Chamber Report Cites Union Favoritism in State Law

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Union Report Web.mp3

With a national focus on union-related policies in recent years, including Wisconsin’s recent recall election, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wanted to examine state laws and how they relate to labor unions.

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Government
7:00 am
Mon August 13, 2012

City Expands Energy Efficiency Grants

Small businesses in Pittsburgh have a new option when it comes to financing energy efficiency upgrades.  The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Board of Directors voted to expand its pilot Business Energy Savings Program citywide.

The program begins with a dollar for dollar matching grant of about $400 for an energy audit.  URA special projects manager Paul Svoboda says the goal is to make sure there is enough savings to be had before moving forward with the low interest loan of up to $50,000 to institute any upgrades.

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Health
7:00 am
Mon August 13, 2012

CCAC Gets Grant To Train More Caregivers For The Elderly

"They call it either the gray tsunami or the silver tsunami," said Linda Raimondi, coordinator of Geriatric Education at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC).  "This is a problem all over the world."  Raimondi was referring to the growing elderly population.

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Local
12:55 pm
Sun August 12, 2012

PennDOT's 12-Year Plan Needs Input from Residents

Pennsylvania residents have a chance to weigh in on what they think the state's transit priorities should be.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will hold a series of statewide public meetings this summer, where citizens can suggest their highway planning ideas.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar said the public comments will be rolled into the latest biennial update of the state's 12-year Transportation Program. Chizmar said the Transportation Program serves as PennDOT's "blueprint" of what highway projects will be a priority over the next decade.

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Government
6:15 pm
Sat August 11, 2012

Ryan Boosts Romney's Conservative Credentials, But Also Mobilizes Opponents

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney discarded his increasingly inert better-safe-than-sorry campaign strategy Saturday when he named budget hawk and Democratic bete noire Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate.

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Government
6:00 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Statewide Billboard Campaign Raises Awareness about Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is the second most pervasive crime in the world behind drug trafficking. In an effort to bring the issue to the minds of more Pennsylvanians,  State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) has launched a statewide billboard ad campaign.

“It is a huge problem, not just in other countries, but here in the United States. A lot of people don’t know that because it’s sort of a crime that’s in the shadows and it’s difficult to prosecute sometimes. So the most important thing we can do is raise awareness of the crime,” he said.

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Arts
6:00 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Joe Wos

Toonseum director Joe Wos has been rediscovering some old favorites, and discovering some groundbreaking new graphic novels.

Joe's comic picks for adult readers:

Charles Addams, My Crowd

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Government
5:00 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Open Records Director Says State Workers Given Misinformation

Some 58-thousand state workers have been receiving training on a new telephone system and the head of the Office of Open Records says the employees are receiving wrong information regarding the commonwealth's Right to Know law.  

Office of Open Records Executive Director Terry Mutchler says trainers told state workers that they could avert public records requests by using instant messaging. Mutchler says since she and lawyers and staff in her office are state employees, they underwent the phone training and heard the "misinformation" themselves.

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Government
4:45 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

PA Mortgage Assistance Program is Revived

A successful mortgage assistance program in Pennsylvania that began nearly 30 years ago, but was zeroed out this fiscal year, is being revived. The Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) will receive funds from a $25 billion national mortgage settlement with five of the country's largest loan servicers. Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo were found to routinely sign foreclose notices without make sure their documentation was correct.

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Transportation
8:45 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

PAT and Union Reach Contract Deal

The Port Authority (PAT) of Allegheny County and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 have reached a tentative contract agreement that could be the first step in staving off massive service cuts. The agreement was announced Thursday by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

In a written statement from the Executive’s office, Fitzgerald said the agreement will be considered by the Local 85 membership on August 19th and the Port Authority Board will take up the issue in the following days. No details of the plan are to be officially released until those votes are taken.

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Government
7:15 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Downtown Preservation Project Underway

A ceremonial removal of storefront tiles marked the beginning of restoration work on four different blocks in downtown Pittsburgh. The plan is to integrate old buildings with the construction of new facilities for retail and residential use.

Arthur Zeigler, president of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, said the $4 million Downtown Preservation Project will begin in earnest soon and be completed in 22 weeks.

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Arts
7:15 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Indian Independence Celebrated at Cathedral of Learning this Weekend

The Indian Nationality Room Committee at the Cathedral of Learning’s Nationality Rooms will observe India’s 65th year of Independence on Sunday. The annual celebration includes a parade around the Cathedral along with speakers, dancers, food, and other things.

“It’s important for us, for our children, to know the struggle those leaders who fought for this independence," said Saroj Bahl, India Nationality Room Committee Chair. "You know, India was under British rule, for 200 years they ruled India and it was not easy.” 

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Environment
7:00 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

PA Third Worst State for Toxic Air Pollution from Power Plants, Down from Second

For the second year running Pennsylvania made the list—the Natural Resources Defense Council’s ranking of the “Toxic 20.” The report lists the states where the most toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants is released.

The report analyzed the emissions of common power plant pollutants, such as mercury, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and ammonia, that were released during 2010, the most recent year data is available. The report is based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency and was first produced last year based on 2009 emissions.

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Local
6:45 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Anti-Violence Group Comes To An End

Citing funding difficulties, an anti-violence community group has closed shop in Pittsburgh after eight years.

But One Vision One Life founder and executive director Richard Garland is not giving up because he believes the need for such an organization is greater than ever, “simply because of a transient population, some housing communities closing putting people together who aren’t usually together, don’t get along with one another’s neighborhoods; Pittsburgh Public Schools putting some kids together that normally are not together.”

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Health
8:45 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

RMU Professor Finds Way to Send Chemotherapy Drug Directly to Tumor

A Robert Morris University (RMU) professor has created a computer simulation that showed incredibly small particles, or nanoparticles, could be manipulated into carrying a chemotherapy drug directly to a cancerous tumor. Since current chemotherapy drugs have more of an indirect route, the drug kills healthy cells as well as the cancerous ones, causing severe side effects, and limiting the dosage that can be given to patients.

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Local
8:45 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

“ReuseFest” Will Collect Variety Of Items For Non-Profit Organizations

The Pennsylvania Resource Council is giving Pittsburghers a good reason to clean out their homes and donate unwanted items during “ReuseFest” this Saturday, August 11. A wide variety of materials for reuse will be collected and then distributed to non-profit organizations.

Sarah Alessio Shea, the council’s Environmental Education Coordinator, said the event will be a “one-stop-shop” while spotlighting some of the city’s reuse-centered groups.

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Government
8:30 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

DeWeese Fighting to Remain on November Ballot

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is suing to remove former Greene County Representative Bill DeWeese from November’s general election ballot, arguing the convicted felon should be replaced with another Democrat because the candidate would be ineligible to serve if elected.

However, DeWeese’s lawyer said it would be premature to remove the former House Speaker from the election, because he’s pursuing appeals to his five felony convictions for using state workers and resources in a political campaign. State law prohibits convicted felons from holding public office.

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