News

Jaime Dillen-Seibel / Flickr

It’s being called the “largest crowdfunding event in history,” and Pittsburgh has the most nonprofits participating.

May 5 is Give Local America day, in which nonprofits are asking individuals to log on and donate gifts.

The United States Geological Survey / via the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Not much has improved five weeks after the Department of Environmental Protection declared a drought watch for 27 Pennsylvania counties.

Amanda Witman, DEP spokeswomen, said all of the original counties remain on a drought watch.

Fibonacci Blue / flickr

The six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray have been charged with a number of crimes, including murder and manslaughter. Pitt Law Professor David Harris joins us to explain the details behind the charges and what they mean.

Considering the charges, Harris explains how they figure into the usual categories of homicide charges:

"In the universe of homicide charges, there are different possibilities. One is first-degree murder, one is second-degree murder, then you go to manslaughter and then, maybe, negligent homicide. ... Both of the types of homicide charges involved here do not involve intentional killing. They involve degrees of reckless behavior." -- David Harris

Also in the program, Nazila Fathi talks about her book "The Lonely War," which paints an intense and intricate portrait of post-revolution Iran, and Pittsburgh cartoonist Joe Wos explains Mazetoons, his newly syndicated puzzle/cartoon hybrid.

Congressman Keith Rothfus (PA-12) is once again trying to crack down on bonuses being handed out to senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

“The VA is still failing veterans in Pennsylvania and across the country,” Rothfus said. “VA senior executives need to take responsibility, fix the problems and do their jobs.”

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

The original Frick Environmental Center was lost in a five-alarm fire 13 years ago, but on Friday, workers placed the final beam on top of the new education facility that is being called “one of the greenest buildings on Earth.”

The $10.5 million center is expected to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest possible designation, as well as a Living Building Challenge title, which requires the use of non-toxic building materials and measures water and energy consumption after construction is completed.

pittonkatonk.com

Pittonkatonk, Pittsburgh’s “May Day Brass Bar-B-Que” steps off Saturday in the Veteran’s Pavilion in Schenley Park.

Rich Randall, co-director of Pittonkatonk, describes the free event as a cross between a festival, and a family reunion. He and co-director Pete Spynda came up with the idea a couple years ago, and it's since taken off.

Pittonkatonk takes place from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Speaking to reporters outside a Braddock union hall Friday, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said he opposes so-called "fast-track" legislation which, in a few weeks, is up for a vote in Congress. 

The Trade Promotion Authority Legislation, or "fast-track," legislation would allow President Obama to submit trade agreements to Congress for up or down votes without amendments. Those opposed say its undemocratic. Those in favor say other countries won’t make good offers in trade talks if they know Congress could change things.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb said the city is doing well financially, but it could still improve spending.

Lamb released the 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report which showed Pittsburgh ended the year with a total fund balance of $183 million, an increase of $22.6 million from 2013.

Flickr User Jordan Schwartz

Urban farmers rejoice — it might soon become easier to raise farm animals in Pittsburgh, and to raise them legally.

Gov. Tom Wolf is opening his cabinet’s expense books up to the public. Department heads and select top aides have put their fuel costs, car leases, hotel bills and other expenses online.

Spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said this is the first governor’s administration in Pennsylvania to share its expenses.

“The governor is very much committed to restoring the public’s trust in government,” said Sheridan. He said the expenses will probably be updated on a monthly basis.

Backers of a state law struck down by a federal judge who said it would trample on free speech rights say they're hoping for a re-do.

The overturned law would have let victims and their families ask a judge to make offenders stop any behavior that is upsetting. Opponents called it baldly unconstitutional, and a U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner agreed, calling it the "embodiment of content-based regulation of speech."

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Nearly every follower of Islam living in the United States has a story of being bullied simply because they choose to worship Allah.

Humza Ahmed, a member of the University of Pittsburgh Muslim Student Association, said he was beat up after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Via The Associated Press

The letter appeared in The New York Times on April 29, 1940. It was brief — a couple of column inches — mixed in with opinions on higher subway fares, workers’ rights and risky mortgages. But the headline was hard to miss: “Reward for Hitler Capture.”

"He offered a million dollars to anyone 'who will deliver Adolph Hitler, alive, unwounded and unhurt, into the custody of the League of Nations for trial before a high court of justice for his crimes against peace and dignity of the world.'”

Chuck LeClaire

This Saturday is the Pittsburgh marathon. In addition to thousands of adults running and walking many children will be running their “final mile” as part of the 2015 Kids of Steel Program. Promoting healthy exercise and nutrition habits in younger runners are Patrice Matamoros, CEO of the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, and Michele Nichols, program director for Kids of Steel. (Starts at 20:20)

Matamoros explains that Kids of Steel grew out of the Pittsburgh Marathon's desire to see kids grow up with an early discovery of running as a sport:

"The American Medical Association was starting to say that kids of this generation were going to have a shorter life span than their parents...We certainly didn't want to leave them out and watch their parents and their guardians getting healthier and watching the kids' health not making improvements." -Patrice Matamoros

Also on the program, Dr. Ron Roth, Pittsburgh Marathon medical director and emergency medicine physician joins Dr. Kelley Anderson, overseer of elite runners, to instruct marathon runners on how to stay healthy in Sunday's predicted high heat. Emily Gordon is a biochemistry major at UCLA who won her very first marathon and has already qualified for the 2016 Olympic trials. 

Running the marathon on Sunday? Cheering from the sidelines? Don’t worry – there’s fun to be had, no matter what speed you’re going this weekend.  

On Friday, Wigle Whiskey kicks off the opening of their Barrel House in the North Side with their Barrel Roll event, starting at 5 PM. On Saturday, Wigle will host a Derby Party; complete with a best dressed and best hat contest, telecast of the Kentucky Derby, and mint juleps.

On Saturday, East End Brewing will host Crafts and Drafts from noon to 5 PM. Guests can enjoy fare from food trucks, a shopping market of 12 artists’ wares, a crafting station from Girls Rock! Pittsburgh, and more.

On Friday and Saturday, the GNC Live Well Pittsburgh Health and Fitness Expo will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and is free and open to the public.

Don Loarie / Flickr

In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 27,203 cases of Lyme disease nationwide, 4,981 of which were in Pennsylvania. And, for the last five years, Pennsylvania has reported more cases of Lyme disease than any other state.

As temperatures rise and people begin to spend more time outdoors, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is calling for an increase in federal surveillance.

State Senate Republicans plan to roll out a proposal to overhaul public pensions in early May, the first step toward making good on their promise to address pension debt before negotiating a commonwealth budget.

Caucus leaders have repeatedly suggested switching future hires into a 401(k)-style retirement system. Last month, the Senate majority leader said he might try to scale back unearned pension benefits for current state and public school employees.

Courtesy Photo/ Pennsylvania Resources Center

More than 1,500 Allegheny County residents are expected to drive to North Park next Saturday, not bearing bicycles or picnic baskets, but instead — hazardous waste.

The Pennsylvania Resources Council is beginning its 13th year of household chemical collections with a drive-through waste drop off in North Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 2.

People are encouraged to bring any leftover paint, bleach, furniture polish, gasoline, glue, cleaners, car waxes, and even fingernail polish they have in their homes or garages to the park, where trained disposal crews will haul the chemicals away for treatment and disposal.

AP Photo/Marc Levy

The Independent Fiscal Office was created five years ago to provide number-crunching with no spin, but it isn't getting the last word in the state budget debate.

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration has vigorously disputed the IFO finding that the governor's spending plan would stick even the poorest Pennsylvanians with a tax increase.

Courtesy photo

On a recent Friday evening, acoustic music was presented at Biddle’s Escape, a coffee shop in Wilkinsburg. Singer and songwriter Barbara Klein appreciates that the venue is “intimate and welcoming.”

Owner Joe Davis says, "We’re always looking for creative ways to showcase artists.”

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

In the wake of its 2001 riots, Cincinnati assembled an Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations, the results of which were released earlier this week. Cincinnati police studied community problem solving, revised use-of-force policies, worked to eliminate biased policing and collected data on police stops. In light of the recent events in Baltimore, former Pittsburgh Police officer and overseer of riot control Sheldon Williams, along with Andrew Conte, who was present at the 2001 Cincinnati riots, join us to discuss what other major cities can take away from large-scale riots. 

Giving his analysis of how the Baltimore case showed how rioting can sometimes interfere with the objectives of a demonstration, Conte says: 

"When you have this kind of rioting that goes beyond spreading the message to causing property damage and people are getting injured, they start to lose the impact of the message... The focus has to be on the message and -- yes, breaking the law, perhaps --  but doing it in a way that emboldens your message. In this case, they lost control of the narrative." -- Andrew Conte

Williams emphasizes that demonstrations like the ones seen in Baltimore can get out of hand easily, and that's why law enforcement needs to be ready with an appropriate response:

"This type of behavior has the ability to just spur out of control into a point where people -- and not only just property, but people -- can get hurt. So, that's why you have to have the response necessary to quell that type of activity" -- Sheldon Williams

Also in the program, Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conductor Robert Bernhardt talk about their upcoming collaborative performance.

Pennsylvania State Police are sending about 300 troopers to Baltimore beginning Thursday in a response to Maryland’s emergency request for help restoring calm to the city’s streets.

State police spokesman Trooper Adam Reed said the deployment is expected is cost $200,000 a day, which the state of Maryland will pay back later.

A report released this week by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program examined how well alumni of four- and two-year higher education institutions fare after school.

The study looks at predicted outcomes for students and compares actual outcomes. It’s an area not often looked at, according to researchers at Brookings. This report compiled its data looking at three main areas: mid-career salary of alumni, repayment rate on student loans and common careers among alumni.

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has received $252,950 in grants from the Walmart Foundation.

With this grant they’ll buy a large refrigerated truck to distribute food to partner agencies in the surrounding rural counties. At present when they deliver food they use two trucks. Now they’ll use one. They will also use this money for summer food program outreach and school breakfast programs.

Lisa Scales, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, said providing children with these school breakfasts is a priority.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

On Sunday 30,000 runners will take the streets of Pittsburgh for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon, Fed Ex Ground Marathon Relay, while even more people line the course to cheer them on.

AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File

Gov. Tom Wolf has hired a specialist in railroad engineering and safety to help limit the risk of a potential oil train derailment on Pennsylvania's rail freight system.

Wolf's administration said Tuesday that the hiring of Allan Zarembski of the University of Delaware is for three months at $38,000.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Although its air quality is improving, Pittsburgh still ranks among the most polluted U.S. cities.

That’s according to the latest State of the Air report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association (ALA). According to the study, Pittsburgh improved in all measures, including particle and ozone pollution levels, but still fell below national air quality standards.

AP Photo/Wally Santana

The Nepalese-Bhutanese community is the largest refugee group in Pittsburgh. In the aftermath of last weekend’s devastating earthquake in Nepal, we’ll discover how members of the local Nepalese-Bhutanese community are reaching out to aid their homeland with Bibhuti Aryal President / Co-Founder Rukmini Foundation.

Aryal tells how the actions of aid hope to raise awareness and support the people of Nepal:

"We need help from all our neighbors far and wide and we hope we can get a strong Pittsburgh community to come and mourn with us but also help us with the rebuilding efforts. It's part educational to show the scale of the damage and how much it is effecting our country and our people here as well but also to provide some hope that there is something we can do as a global community to make a difference. - Bibhuti Aryal

Also in the program,  Michael Kobald of the Soarway Foundation had several employees caught in the earthquake. Sasha King explains how networking doesn't have to be an overwhelming process, and Founder and CEO of Belt Publishing Anne Trubek describes how Belt is choosing to anthologize Pittsburgh.

Members of the Allegheny County HIV/AIDS Commission delivered an annual update to Pittsburgh City Council members Tuesday afternoon.

They recapped efforts they have made in the last year, spoke of partnerships and spoke of their plans for this coming year.

Commission member Betty Hill, who is also director of the Persad Center, said the awareness level of routine HIV testing is low, and the commission wants to change that.

Terence Wright / Flickr

  Western Pennsylvania gas prices have increased within the past few weeks, but before too much panic sets in, Chelsea Pompeani of AAA East Central says this rise isn’t unusual for the time of year.

The director of public affairs said gas prices normally increase during spring because the price of crude oil rises.

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