News

D-Day: Normandy 1944 / via Rossilynne Culgan

On June 6, 1944, around 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops stormed the shores of Normandy in the largest Allied operation of World War II, according to the D-Day Museum & Overlord Embroidery.

Audiences in Pittsburgh can experience that battle in Carnegie Science Center’s Rangos Omnimax Theater starting May 15.

Rossilynne Culgan, the marketing communications manager, said D-Day: Normandy 1944 presents a different perspective than your typical history book.

The primary election for the state Supreme Court is next week, giving voters a chance to pick their party’s nominees to vie for three open seats on the seven-justice bench.

The number of vacancies is unprecedented in the court’s modern history, and the results of the general election this fall will determine the political balance of the state’s high court for the near future.

Sound like a recipe for a closely-watched election? Not quite.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The American Civil Liberties Union and the City of Pittsburgh have reached an agreement on "cutting-edge" improvements to police hiring methods, including strengthening minority hiring procedures. The settlement agreement stems from a federal class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU in August 2012 on behalf of minority applicants who scored high in Pittsburgh Police testing but were passed over for job offers. We'll speak with Ellen Doyle, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs.

Doyle says that previously, the city of Pittsburgh was being forced to diversify its ranks by hiring an African American and a woman for every four hires, as outlined in a Supreme Court order. She explains that this is no longer the case:

"The city was reporting for a number of years that [the police force] was disproportionately white in terms of the population of the city. But the difference between what happened with the prior federal lawsuit and what happened now is that the Supreme Court has seriously reduced the use of any race-conscious remedy." -Ellen Doyle 

Also on the program, after rioting and chaos in Ferguson and Baltimore, how should police departments adapt? How can departments encourage minorities to join the police force?

Pennsylvania state senators have for the second time sent legislation to legalize various forms of medical marijuana to the House, where it faces an uncertain future.

The Senate voted 40-7 Tuesday.

It passed a similar bill last fall, but it died in the House. This latest version expands the number of eligible medical conditions to 15 and expands the methods of delivery to include vaporization along with oils, pills, liquids and gels.

Smoking it wouldn't be allowed.

Flickr user Jon Cassie

Real estate agent Helen Perilloux has lived in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood for nine years, and says off the top of her head, she can think of about 30 buildings that have been demolished in that time.

Only one has been replaced with a new structure, she told Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus and members of the City Planning Department at a public hearing Tuesday.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

It’s become a familiar and iconic sight– the dinosaur stationed outside the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland.

The life-size cast of a Diplodocus carnegii, so-named for its discovery by a team of Carnegie scientists in 1899, was the first major dinosaur fossil in the museum. An accompanying statue, “Dippy,” took shape at its centennial, and so he's stood with no major maintenance since.

Flickr User Shinichi Sugiyama

More Pennsylvania students and schools would benefit from private funding if State Representative Jim Christiana’s bill to expand two education tax credit programs becomes law.

The state Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal to legalize medical marijuana, a move that would send the measure to the House for the second time in two years.

The bill poised for a vote would allow doctors and nurse practitioners to recommend medical marijuana as treatment for more than a dozen ailments, including epilepsy, Crohn's disease and chronic pain.

Flickr user Chesapeake Bay Program

‘Tis the season for landscaping, gardening and yard work, and the Allegheny County Conservation District is hoping homeowners will include storm water management in their plans for improving their outdoor spaces.

To make that task easier, the ACCD and a consortium of other organizations have put together the first ever Southwestern Pennsylvania Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater, available online and at conservation district offices.

Ride-sharing magnate Uber wants to add 1,000 new drivers in Pittsburgh in the next 12 months as part of a larger effort to attract 50,000 new drivers in east coast cities.

Dubbed UberUP, or Urban Partnership, officials hope to reach into more diverse neighborhoods for new drivers and passengers. 

“We’re working with those organizations to understand what is the local community need in each of the different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh,” Uber Pittsburgh General Manager Jennifer Krusis said.

How The Port Authority Is Trying To Make It Easier To Ride The Bus

May 12, 2015
Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Have you ever tried to take a city bus without planning ahead? We're talking no Google maps, no bus tracker apps, no folded paper timetables. Just you, walking around a neighborhood, trying to catch the bus somewhere.

Probably not. Because in most places, that's not easy to do.

Jason Pratt / flickr

Despite the urban unrest that has garnered national headlines in recent weeks; many people are still choosing to live in cities as opposed to suburbs. What factors need to be in place for residents to co-exist, and even thrive, in a “happy city?” We’ll pose that question to Urban Experimentalist Charles Montgomery author of the book Happy City. Also taking part in the conversation is Pittsburgh Design Center CEO Chris Koch to fill us in on what can be done to make Pittsburgh a happier city.

Montgomery touches on the key factors in achieving a "happy city":

"The most important ingredient for human happiness is social connectedness, positive experiences with family and friends, and high levels of social trust. The happy city is most of all a social city." -Charles Montgomery

Also in the program, Pittsburgh and Citiparks present their new Spark! film series to engage Pittsburgh's cultural diversity. WESA Celebrates the history of Kennywood, and Rebecca Harris has the business of accommodations.

Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

Economic issues are central to women’s health, according to Pennsylvania State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), co-chair of the legislative Women’s Health Caucus, which on Monday announced its 2015-2016 Agenda for Women’s Health.

The bi-partisan, bi-cameral group has four main goals goals: creating family-friend working conditions, promoting economic fairness, enhancing healthy lives and raising awareness for domestic violence and sexual assault.

To Pittsburghers concerned about the latest uptick in data breaches, health care giant UPMC has a singular message: the information they collect is safe.

UPMC keeps electronic data on every patient that comes through the system — more than seven million patient files. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Before she brought the students into the main area of Willy Tee’s Barbershop in Homewood to listen to a story, Cynthia Battle asked parents and police officers what their favorite childhood book was.

Battle, a community outreach specialist for the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), said she loved "The Pancake Man."

Around 2,000 young people have applied for the Learn and Earn program, which connects teens and young adults to six-week paid summer internships, but employers don’t seem as interested.

The open enrollment period for the initiative ended Friday, but according to 3 Rivers Workforce Investment Board CEO Stefani Pashman, only about half of the companies, nonprofits and government agencies needed for the project have signed up.

The state Senate GOP's plan to change to the state's pension system is a heavy political lift that remains untested in the Legislature.

After months of silence on the details of a pension overhaul proposal, Republican leaders are gearing up for a fast and furious week. They expect to receive an actuarial analysis Tuesday on how much their proposed changes could save for the retirement systems' collective $53 billion liability. By the end of the week, they expect to hold a final vote on the bill. The measure would close the traditional pension system to any new workers and ask more of the employees enrolled in it now.

AP Photo/Don Ryan, File

Heroin abuse has been on the rise in America, killing hundreds in Allegheny County last year. Public safety and public health officials are scratching their heads for a solution as nothing seems to be slowing down the drug.

Dr. Neil Capretto, medical director at Gateway Rehabilitation Center, said he’s watched the numbers grow.

“In 1985 there were 22 drug overdose deaths in Allegheny County," Capretto said. "Last year 2014, the count is already up to 299, they’re still working on those numbers. It’s probably going to be somewhat higher, and the vast majority of those are prescription medicine and heroin."

Essential Pittsburgh: Pitt Chemist Alters Genes With Light

May 11, 2015
pixabay

Gene manipulation by scientists has been taking place for a while. Joining us in studio is Pitt chemist Alexander Deiters who’s had a breakthrough in this area. He is the first to create a light tool for gene editing. We’ll discover how it works and what it means for the future of gene research.

Deiters explains how they target a gene in order to manipulate it: 

"Nothing is 100% perfect, so you always have effects on to other genes, which is certainly not desirable. If you have that systemic in your entire body it could cause significant problems, but if you could limit that to certain locations like cancer for example you may be able to minimize these off target effects using light as a trigger for genetics." -Alexander Deiters

Also in the program, the book "We Could Not Fail" tells the story of the first African Americans in the space program, set in the formative years of the Space Age and prior to the Civil Rights Act. 

Flickr user GSCSNJ

72 percent of working moms say they would still work if they didn’t have to, according to a new poll released today by the staffing company Express Employment.

That’s only slightly lower than working fathers: 80 percent said they would still work even if they didn’t need the money.

Deb Gray, franchise owner of the Pittsburgh West Express office, said the number of mothers in the workforce has increased drastically over the last sixty years, including mothers-to be.

PA Law Prohibits Needle Exchanges That Can Save Lives

May 10, 2015
Connor Mulvaney / PublicSource

Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians crave daily injections of heroin. Beyond the threat of overdose is the threat of being exposed to HIV and hepatitis C, both deadly and expensive illnesses that are easily spread through contaminated needles.

But in Pennsylvania, distributing sterile syringes is a criminal act.

One-tenth of an inch of rain over an hour is all it takes for the region’s sewers to overflow.

That’s according to the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN), which has already issued two Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) alerts this season.  The Authority is hoping that as the river recreation season takes hold more recreational users will take note.

wyliepoon / Flickr

  A $130 million investment by the city and its partners over 15 years has resulted in $4.1 billion in riverfront and adjacent development in Pittsburgh.

That’s according to Riverlife, a task force created in 1999 to encourage riverfront development in Pittsburgh, which released its economic impact report Friday.

Jay Sukernek – the acting director, vice president and chief financial officer – said they looked at the impact of the public amenities and the value of property since 2001.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Its name is Claudico, and it’s the first artificial intelligence (AI) program of its kind to take on humans in poker matches: 80,000 hands to be exact.

Four of the world’s top poker players spent two weeks at Rivers Casino. Three of the four pros had higher winnings than Claudico, but their $732,713 collective lead wasn’t large enough to be considered scientifically reliable.

Allegheny County Council

The family of Barbara Daly Danko released a letter Friday written by the County Councilwoman to her District 11 constituents not long before her death. 

Danko died Wednesday at age 61 after a 10-year battle with breast cancer. Working with and for Allegheny County was "an honor and a privilege," she said.

90.5 WESA

This year, six-year-old Sean Stanley was finally tall enough to ride Phantom’s Revenge, a roller coaster at the 117-year-old Kennywood Park in West Mifflin. 

Standing outside the coaster’s gate, Sean sported the preoccupied look of the newly infatuated.

“It was like a hurricane because there was lots of wind,” he said, describing the ride.

Irina Zhorov / 90.5 WESA

Homer City Police Chief, Louis Sacco, is one of just three people – two active and one retired – in his pension plan. He drives around the tiny borough, about 50 miles East of Pittsburgh, with views of looming power plant stacks in the distance and a partly shuttered Main Street.

Intel Free Press / Flickr

About 1,700 high school students from around the world will be in Pittsburgh starting Sunday for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the largest pre-college science competition in the world.

Twenty percent of the competitors hold patents or have published papers — this fair features high-level science.

John Marino / Wikipedia

The end of a three-year agreement between the Port Authority and the Steelers and Rivers Casino corporations that enabled T riders to reach Allegheny Station free of charge may upset the transit system's free fare zone. Without funds from either organization, the Port Authority must either pick up the tab itself or start charging riders who use the T stop to attend sporting events. Alex Zimmerman has been covering the story for the City Paper and joins us to discuss the issues surrounding the suspension of the deal. 

Zimmerman says the change is due, in part, to the Port Authority's desire to separate subsidies from advertising rights for the two stations on the North Shore:

"Port Authority went to [the subsidizing entities] and said 'We're happy to continue our agreement with you, but we want to retain ad rights.' ... The Steelers and casino aren't saying much about what their negotiating position is." -- Alex Zimmerman

Also in the program, local entrepreneur Mont Handley describes the peat moss substitute that he invented, Margaret J. Krauss tells an untold story about Pittsburgh during WWII, and Johnstown Tomahawks representative Chad Mearns talks about Johnstown's recent recognition as "Hockeyville USA."

Attendees to every one of Pittsburgh's six summertime conventions are expected to generate about $1,000 each, says Jason Fulvi, executive vice president for VisitPittsburgh.

The group expects 40,000 to flood the Steel City for convention season, bringing in about $40 million total.

“We have more conventions and larger conventions than ever before," Fulvi says. "So (guests) will be able to really partake in the different activities, festivals and attractions that we have."

Pittsburgh should be a gracious host.

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