News

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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Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Just a few months after Pennsylvania approved its charter school law, a trailblazing Pittsburgh Public educator stood in front of the school board on a November night in 1997.

Helen Faison urged board members to approve the charter for the Urban Academy, a school that would operate independently from the district. It would remain public with open enrollment and the public school district would pay for students to attend it.

James Willamor / Flickr

Last week, President Donald Trump proposed privatizing air traffic control, separating it from the Federal Aviation Administration and putting it under the control of a notprofit corporation. The administration argued doing so would cut costs and help modernize the system.

Mark Humphrey / AP

It'll be tough to top this.

Sidney Crosby was awarded his second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and goalie Matt Murray made 27 saves for his second straight shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins became the first team to repeat as champion in nearly two decades with a 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 6 on Sunday.

StoryCorps Pittsburgh: Ken Gormley

Jun 11, 2017

Caroline Gormley interviews her dad, Duquesne University president Ken Gormley, about his childhood in Swissvale.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Does your street have sidewalks that end abruptly? Or spots on walkways without curb cuts? Bike Pittsburgh is documenting issues pedestrians and cyclists encounter in each of the city's 90 neighborhoods to bring attention to mobility obstacles in Pittsburgh.

Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh, said the work of identifying things like overgrown steps, cars parked on sidewalks and visible crosswalks is central to the nonprofit’s mission.

Matt Rourke / AP

Prosecutors' case against Bill Cosby drew toward a close Friday with the jury hearing the comedian's damaging, decade-old testimony about giving quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.

Testifying under oath in 2005, the TV star said he had obtained several prescriptions for the now-banned sedative in the 1970s but didn't take them himself, according to the deposition read to the jury.

"When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?" Cosby was asked.

"Yes," he said.

Dake Kang / AP

City leaders say they want to streamline tax abatement programs for developers willing to take risks in historically underserved neighborhoods.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Outside Woodland Hills Academy in Turtle Creek, there’s a little playground with swings, a jungle gym and a couple spring-mounted toy horses. You can’t see it or smell it, but according to data gathered by Carnegie Mellon University, the kids who play there are breathing in about 8 parts per billion of nitrogen dioxide and about 5 micrograms per cubic meter of black carbon.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

When police are called to the scene of a drug overdose they can treat it as a crime scene or an accident scene.  Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala wants it to be treated as a crime scene.

“Over the last year in Allegheny County, we’ve trained about 50 different police departments what they should do when they come on the scene,” Zappala said. “You have to move quickly [to gather evidence] but detectives have been trained specifically in those kinds of things.”

Proactive Child Abuse Prevention Gets Increased Attention As Fatality Rate Rises In PA

Jun 9, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

Summer Chambers, a chubby cheeked 5-month-old died of starvation and dehydration in her crib, four days after her parents died from drug overdoses in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Dana Difilippo / NewsWorks

For three days, the sound outside of the Montgomery County Courthouse, where Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial is unfolding, has been the steady rumble of TV news trucks, punctuated by bursts of reporters shouting questions at the elderly entertainer, his attorneys, the celebrities du jour who accompany him, and anyone else who looks remotely important.

Thursday, Helen Reddy belted out her female-empowerment anthem “I Am Woman.”

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Pride festival is no stranger to controversy. This year marks the 10th annual celebration hosted by the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania's Josh Shapiro has joined with fellow attorneys general from 19 other states to send a letter to Congress urging them not to pass the Financial Choice Act of 2017.

The bill is expected to pass in the House on Thursday, largely along partisan lines.

NASA Picks Up 12 New Astronauts, Including 2 From Pennsylvania

Jun 8, 2017
Bill Ingalls / NASA via AP

NASA chose 12 new astronauts Wednesday from its biggest pool of applicants ever, hand-picking seven men and five women who could one day fly aboard the nation's next generation of spacecraft.

The astronaut class of 2017 includes doctors, scientists, engineers, pilots and military officers from Anchorage to Miami and points in between. They've worked in submarines, emergency rooms, university lecture halls, jet cockpits and battleships. They range in age from 29 to 42, and they typically have led the pack.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state House of Representatives quickly introduced and passed a sweeping new gambling bill Wednesday evening, which would significantly expand the industry.

Jury May Soon Hear From Cosby, Even If He Doesn't Take Stand

Jun 8, 2017
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AP, Pool

A jury that heard seven hours of testimony from a woman who says Bill Cosby drugged and assaulted her may soon hear from Cosby himself — even if he doesn't take the stand.

Prosecutors are expected to show jurors an earlier deposition in which Cosby said that he routinely gave women pills and alcohol before sexual encounters and gave at least one of them quaaludes, a now-banned sedative.

The suburban Philadelphia jury on Wednesday heard trial accuser Andrea Constand offer her most direct denial yet that any of their earlier meetings were romantic.

Maranie Staab / Facebook

Pictures of young refugees from the war-torn countries of Syria and Iraq have been defaced with spray paint at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Journalist Maranie Staab, of Pittsburgh, is currently in Iraq photographing the ongoing crisis there in Mosul. She posted a photo of the defaced images and a message for the vandal or vandals on Facebook: "If the person that did this happens to see this, I would welcome the opportunity to speak to you about these kids."

The two defaced pictures showed refugee children. The vandals X-ed out their faces with spray paint.

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Approve Public Pension Plan Bill

Jun 8, 2017
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania lawmakers approved legislation Thursday that will cut retirement benefits for future hires in public schools and state government as part of a package of changes designed to slash risk and reap modest long-term savings from the state's deeply indebted public-sector pension systems.

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