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Local
5:12 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Game On: NCAA Tournament Begins in Pittsburgh

The NCAA basketball tournament kicks into high gear with 16 regional games on today's schedule. As one of the host cities, not only will Pittsburgh be turned into a college hoops hotbed, it will also bring exposure and revenue to the city. Beverly Morrow-Jones with VisitPittsburgh said "we're looking forward to about $7.1 million in direct spending which means great news for restaurants, hotels, and attractions."

She expects about 9,000 out-of-town visitors to come to the city for the basketball games Thursday and Saturday.

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Government
4:00 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Two Sides Battle Over Gun Control Bill

A coalition against gun violence is standing in opposition to state House bill 1523 which allows for the National Rifle Association to take to court any municipality that uses gun control law more strict than the state.

Max Nacheman, executive director for CeaseFirePA, said the rights of local municipalities to require reporting lost or stolen guns are in the language of the law. While they are prohibited from superseding state legislation when it comes to lawful gun use, ownership, transfer or transportation, but he said this is a different case.

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Arts
11:00 am
Thu March 15, 2012

Pittsburgh Filmaker Tackles Media Stereotypes of Black Women

Movies and television are often criticized for not showcasing enough diversity. One Pittsburgher got tired of seeing the same images of black women in mainstream media, so she started a project aimed at debunking stereotypes, specifically those of black women. Essential Public Radio's Deanna Garcia met with Brittany McBryde to discuss her first documentary film.

Deanna Garcia: Tell me about your film The Image of Black Women.

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Government
9:01 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

New Poll Shows Obama Up, GOP Down in Pennsylvania

According to a new poll, President Obama leads Republican challengers in Pennsylvania, and his approval ratings are on the rise.

The Public Policy Polling survey has the president with a 47% approval rating in Pennsylvania, up from 42% in 2011.

PPP Director Tom Jensen said Obama leads Republican frontunner Mitt Romney by seven points in the Keystone State, 49-42. The president also leads home-state candidate Rick Santorum by two points in the poll, 48-46.

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Transportation
7:39 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Green Boulevard Meeting to Highlight New Designs

Consultants working on the Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard will unveil their designs during a meeting Thursday in Lawrenceville.

The Green Boulevard will span the six and a half mile stretch of land that is currently the Allegheny Valley Railroad Right-of-Way. It could include riverfront park access, neighborhoods, kayak and boat access, and a multi-use rail corridor capable of transporting people to offices or entertainment downtown.

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Local
7:10 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

State Lawmakers At The Gate For Fight Over Horse Race Funding

Horsemen were up in arms almost immediately after Governor Corbett's February proposal to make a $72 million cut to the fund used to boost horse racing prizes. Now, they have the support of key Republican legislators.

The Horse Race Development fund distributed about $230 million in gaming revenue to the horseracing industry last year, but under the Governor's new budget, the total would drop to about 160 million dollars in 2012-2013.

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Government
6:19 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Voter ID Passes PA House

Pennsylvania's House of Representatives has approved a measure establishing one of the nation's toughest photo identification laws for voters. The vote comes less than eight months before the presidential election.

The 104-88 vote Wednesday in the Republican-controlled chamber came after three days of debate. The measure heads to Gov. Tom Corbett, also a Republican, who says he'll sign it into law immediately. The ACLU of Pennsylvania says it will mount a court challenge.

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Transportation
6:18 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Squirrel Hill Tunnel Restrictions Begin Monday

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will begin nighttime restrictions of the inbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel on Monday. It's part of the preliminary stage of a two-year, $49.5 million rehabilitation project.

District Executive Dan Cessna said crews will focus on the inbound half of the structure this year. In 2013, the repair work — and accompanying traffic restrictions — will move over to the outbound side.

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Economy
5:58 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Pittsburgh is “Winning” Economic Development Fight

Charlie Sheen is not the only one "winning." The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) announced Wednesday that the 10 counties in the region reported almost 300 economic development deals, or "wins" last year. That is up 14 from 2010.

David Malone, President and CEO of Gateway Financial and Chairman of the PRA says the "wins" were landed in large part due to the region's diverse economy.

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Health
5:51 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Duquesne Researcher Attempting to Develop Compounds to Fight Fatal Infections

All too often a patient who has battled an aggressive sickness ends up succumbing to a simple, but ultimately fatal, infection.

"These are patients … who are undergoing chemotherapy, whose immune systems get compromised," said Dr. Aleem Gangjee of Duquesne University, "patients who are transplant recipients — their immune system is also compromised — and of course for patients who are afflicted with HIV/AIDS."

Gangjee is a medicinal chemist who, along with a team of researchers, is developing compounds that will tackle the stubborn fugnal infection.

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Local
5:10 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

North Side Resident Recognized for Support of Prisoners Around Country

The Dignity & Respect Campaign promotes the idea that everyone deserves to be treated exactly as its title reads. The group's February 2012 award went to Rosemary Anderson, a disabled Air Force veteran who started "Spring Grass Book'em" five years ago. The effort sends books and letters to prisoners around the country. Many have told her "books are often the only good thing in their lives."

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Local
4:27 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Pitt: Cathedral of Learning Bomb Threat False

University of Pittsburgh students, faculty and staff have been told it's safe to return to the Cathedral of Learning after a bomb threat cleared out the building Wednesday morning.

The "all clear" signal was sent out shortly before 1:00 PM, said Pitt Associate Director of News John Fedele.

Fedele said university police used a bomb-sniffing dog to check the tower, but found nothing. He said school administrators took the threat seriously, despite initial feelings that it was illegitimate.

Government
10:52 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Corbett Mum on Presidential Pick

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's longtime political advisor has been named to lead the Pennsylvania ground game for Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

However, Corbett himself hasn't made any endorsements yet.

Brian Nutt ran Corbett's campaigns for Attorney General and governor. Rick Santorum's campaign has tapped Brian Nutt to be the Pennsylvania state campaign director, but Corbett says that doesn't affect his presidential pick in the slightest.

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Government
10:48 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Corbett Receptive to Mandatory Ultrasound Bill

A bill in front of Pennsylvania's House would require women to undergo an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion.

Unlike similar bills in other states, the Pennsylvania bill would not require an internal probe.

Republican Governor Tom Corbett said he would oppose requiring such invasive procedures, but said he sees no problem with a mandatory ultrasound.

"I don't know how you can make anybody watch, because you just have to close your eyes," said Corbett. "But as long as it's on the exterior, not interior."

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Local
9:10 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Reassessment Appeals Training Offered to County Residents

An Allegheny County Councilman is continuing his war against the court-ordered reassessment of all properties in the county.

Councilman Matt Drozd (R-District 1) said he'll hold a public seminar in Ross Township this Sunday on how to successfully appeal a reassessed property value. He offered to hold similar hearings in municipalities countywide.

The county's website also offers some instruction on how to appeal a new property value.

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Economy
7:13 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Study Shows School Bus Privatization Too Costly

The key argument for privatization of any government-controlled operation is that it saves money. However, that argument may not hold much actual merit, at least when it comes to public school busing.

According to a new study released Tuesday by the Keystone Research Center, Pennsylvania school districts end up spending more tax dollars on transportation than districts that manage their own bus fleets.

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Transportation
6:35 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

North Shore Connector Almost Set to Roll

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is putting the finishing touches on its project to extend light rail service to the North Shore.

The $523 million "North Shore Connector" is set to run its first public train on Sunday, March 25.

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Local
4:41 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

International Human Rights Activist Brings Message of Women’s Rights to Pittsburgh

Sameena Nazir lives and works in Pakistan fighting for women's rights. The Women's Studies program at the University of Pittsburgh brought her to the city to discuss her work and the challenges currently faced by women all over the world.

"We should not have different standards. We should not say, 'Oh, these rights are applicable in the U.S. but are not applicable in Pakistan,' that's not helpful. So Democratic governments in other countries should be protected and supported and we should all join hands," said Nazir.

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Local
2:05 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Brewster Seeks Full Term

With the committee charged with drawing new Pennsylvania legislative districts mired in debate, State Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) has decided to launch a campaign to hold on to his seat.

Brewster was first elected to represent the 45th district in a special election on November 2, 2010 when Sean Logan left the legislature to take a post with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. At the time he ran against Republican Paul Olijar and Libertarian Len Young.

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Science & Technology
1:00 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

CMU Research Sheds Light on Chinese Censorship

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have published a report showing that the Chinese government is censoring more internet content than previously believed.

Lead author David Bamman said Chinese censors blocked 16% of the 57 million microblog posts he monitored.

The posts were censored for a variety of reasons. Some were spam, others were pornographic, but Bamman said the most highly deleted terms were political.

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Local
7:50 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Future of Education in Pennsylvania Debated by Panel

The Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education formed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett gathered for its first meeting this morning with the governor himself in attendance. Corbett announced the panel in February, alongside deep proposed cuts to higher education funding from the state budget.

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Science & Technology
6:24 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Pittsburgh Zoo Loses “Unique Animal”

"Noname," the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium's Komodo dragon for more than 14 years, died during surgery on Sunday.

Henry Kacprzyk, curator of reptiles and Kids Kingdom at the zoo, said Noname came to Pittsburgh from the National Zoo. He said Disney's Animal Kingdom also wanted the animal, but the National Zoo thought the staff in Pittsburgh was more professional.

He said Noname became comfortable with people and their presence.

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Local
5:17 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Bill to Boost Disabilities Payments to Wounded Reserve Soldiers

A bill introduced to the U.S. House last week would increase disabilities payments to wounded Reserve members, putting them on a level with active-duty Purple Heart recipients.

Congressman Jason Altmire (D-PA4) is the Democratic sponsor of the legislation. He said soldiers currently get about 8% more in annual disabilities payments if they're wounded during active duty, rather than reserve duty.

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Local
3:32 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

PSEA Suggests New State Revenues for Education Budget

While committees in the state House and Senate continue to debate Governor Tom Corbett's $27.1 billion budget for 2012-13, the state's largest teachers' union is alarmed about spending for basic education.

The Corbett budget actually calls for a $338 million boost in education spending to $9.9 billion but nearly all of that increase goes to meeting mandatory pension payments. This follows an $818 million cut in basic education funding in the current budget.

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Transportation
3:22 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Billboards Across State To Remind Drivers of Texting Ban

Across the state, drivers should be putting away their cell phones to focus on the road, and will now likely catch sight of signs reminding them of the cost of getting caught texting while driving.

Beginning this week, 60 billboards will run for at least four weeks to inform drivers of the new statewide ban on drivers' texting which went into effect March 8. 35 states and Washington, D.C. prohibit drivers from texting.

Brian Newbacher, public affairs director for AAA East Central said many are outspoken against texting while driving, but they don't always act.

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Arts
2:57 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Women Artists Come Together for Pittsburgh SWAN Day 2012

Dozens of women artists from across the Pittsburgh region will gather on the North Side this week for a one-of-a-kind production.

SWAN Day Pittsburgh 2012 will bring together female poets, playwrights, visual artists, musicians, and other artists at the New Hazlett Theater on Thursday and Friday night.

SWAN Day (Support Women Artists Now) was founded in 2008, and is celebrated in hundreds of cities worldwide.

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Government
7:00 am
Mon March 12, 2012

State House Expected to Pass Voter ID Bill

The state House is poised to pass a bill that would require Pennsylvanians to show photo identification before voting, set to take effect this year.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said the bill is about upholding a constitutional principle.

"It's 'one person, one vote,' and I don't think anybody should object to that long-held constitutional principle," said Turzai. "I think voter ID specifically reinforces the notion that each person is entitled to one vote in this country."

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Health
7:00 am
Mon March 12, 2012

National Cancer Institute Studies Link Diesel Exhaust & Lung Cancer

A new study indicates exposure to heavy diesel exhaust fumes in workplace mines increases the risk of dying from lung cancer.

Mike Attfield led the initiative, titled "The Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study: A Cohort Mortality Study With Emphasis on Lung Cancer," [PDF] that he said aimed to improve upon previous thoughts and research.

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Economy
7:00 am
Mon March 12, 2012

AFL-CIO Wants Broad Powers for New US Trade Agency

The new federal panel to investigate unfair international trade practices should have teeth, according to the AFL-CIO.

The nation's largest group of labor unions said the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) should be adequately funded and wield subpoena powers.

AFL-CIO Trade Policy Specialist Celeste Drake said the creation of the agency is a step in the right direction. She said it would investigate international incidents of price-fixing, illegal subsidies, and unlawful favors to attract specific businesses.

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Government
7:00 am
Mon March 12, 2012

Pennsylvania “Important” Republican Battleground

Now that Super Tuesday has failed to shake any of the four Republican presidential candidates out of the race, it's looking like Pennsylvania's April 24th primary will be hotly contested.

There are five states holding their primary elections on April 24th, including New York and Pennsylvania, with big delegate counts at stake.

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