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Elaine Thomson / AP

A federal judge on Monday ruled that three transgender students at a Pennsylvania high school, including the sister of a singer who performed at President Donald Trump's inauguration, can use bathrooms that correspond to their stated gender identities while their lawsuit challenging the school district's policy continues.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

In a lab at Carnegie Mellon University, Adam Feinberg is using 3-D printing to create human tissue.

The associate professor of materials science & engineering and biomedical engineering said he often downloads 3-D images to print dollhouse furniture and Pokémon characters out of plastic for his children. He said that led him to ask: why not do that with the images made by an MRI or CT scan?

He said making a computer model from a scan is actually pretty easy.

Shortly after the president concludes, Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will deliver the Democratic Response to President Trump’s address. Beshear was chosen by Democratic Party leaders for his record, expanding affordable health care. NPR will have a transcript of Beshear’s remarks and journalists across the NPR newsroom will also be annotating his remarks.

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Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

In the country's housing race, Austin, Texas is the hare and Pittsburgh is the tortoise.

According to data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, housing costs in the city’s seven-county metropolitan region have remained steady for 20 years, even during tough economic times.

Marufish via Flickr

The number of jobs in Pennsylvania’s solar industry increased by a sunny 23 percent in 2016, according to the National Solar Jobs Census.

The report found industry jobs have risen 25 percent since 2015, resulting in 260,077 solar workers nationwide.

Andrea Luecke, president of the Solar Foundation, which commissioned the annual report for the U.S. Department of Energy, said American solar companies are expecting another 10 percent increase this year.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

Jewish centers in York and Harrisburg were among those affected by a wave of bomb threats in at least 11 states Monday. This came the day after more than 100 headstones were knocked over at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak says she's planning to introduce legislation Tuesday to create a task force charged with finding funding for children otherwise unable to attend preschool.

Citing a 2016 Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers report, Rudiak said 1,500 Pittsburgh children do not have access to full-day preschool deemed "high quality" by the Pennsylvania Keystone STARS initiative. The standards evaluate programs for staff qualifications, curriculum, facility environment and community and family involvement, among other things. 

Pennsylvania's 2018 U.S. Senate Race Gets Going With GOP Entry

Feb 27, 2017
Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania's 2018 race for U.S. Senate is getting underway.

Rick Saccone, a fiery Republican state lawmaker from suburban Pittsburgh, formally declared his candidacy Monday to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. Saccone held the event in the Pennsylvania Capitol, where he was joined by conservative supporters.

The 59-year-old Saccone is one of the state Legislature's staunchest conservatives and is a strong backer of President Donald Trump.

Auslandsoesterreicherflickraccountinhaber / Flickr

Ticks don’t always wait until the spring to become active. A warm snap in western Pennsylvania could mean more breeding among the insects, and more cases of Lyme disease.

Pennsylvania has had the highest rate of Lyme disease in the nation for years – and that number is going up. More than 12,000 cases were reported last year -- one-third the total cases of Lyme disease across the country.  

Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety / AP

Four men have now been arrested in the robbery and fatal beating of a Somali immigrant cab driver.

Christen Glenn, 18, of Greensburg, and Daniel Russell, 19, of Youngstown, Ohio, were arrested Sunday in Youngstown, Pittsburgh police said.

Judge Rules Bill Cosby Case To Be Decided By Outside Jury

Feb 27, 2017
Bill Fraser/Bucks County Courrier Times / via AP Pool

 A jury from outside the Philadelphia suburbs will be brought in to decide the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby, a judge ruled Monday, rejecting a defense request to move the trial itself because of worldwide media reports that brand the actor a "serial rapist."

Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said jurors will remain sequestered during Cosby's June trial on charges that he drugged and molested a former Temple University employee in 2004.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's top prosecutor estimates that legal bills stemming from his convicted predecessor's actions cost about $3.6 million.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro told a state Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday that his staff had tallied the costs related to former Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Kane resigned last year after being convicted of leaking secret grand jury information and lying about it. She's been sentenced to 10 to 23 months, but is free on bail while she appeals.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and community activists have recently called attention to what many say is an “affordable housing crisis” in Pittsburgh. As new development comes to neighborhoods like Lawrenceville and East Liberty, many low- and moderate-income homeowners and renters are being priced out of the neighborhoods.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Seven sweaty people stood panting in the Saturday morning light beneath a fading red and gold mural on the east side of a tattoo parlor on the corner of 11th and Carson streets. 

Trista Yerks described the work, created by street artist Shepard Fairey in 2009. It was one of several he installed throughout the city, made of layered wheat posters that degrade over time.

“You can see that it's very weathered. It's kind of starting to come down because of all the weather that Pittsburgh has,” she said. “So it makes me sad, but it wasn’t meant to last.”

Pittsburgh International Airport / Flickr

U.S. Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey is calling on the White House to increase funding for Customs and Border Patrol agents at Pittsburgh International Airport.

In a letter sent to President Donald Trump this month, the Democrat argued current customs staffing at the airport is insufficient and it will only get worse in the coming months.

The number of passengers arriving in Pittsburgh on international flights grew by 30 percent in 2016 and airport spokesman Bob Kerlik said the trend is expected to continue.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The sounds of buzzing chainsaws echoed through the hills around Raystown Lake on Thursday afternoon as contractors for Sunoco Logistics cleared trees to make way for the new Mariner East 2 project.

The 8,300-acre lake in Huntingdon County is a popular spot for swimming, boating, hiking and mountain biking. It draws about 1.5 million visitors annually.

Port Authority of Allegheny County

A white man convicted of throwing a black man onto the downtown Pittsburgh Wood Street T-station tracks has been sentenced to three years in federal prison. 

It is the first federal hate crime to be prosecuted in the region.

Ryan Kyle, 23, of Brentwood, was sentenced to three years in prison, a sentence that will run concurrently with his state prison term for the same assault.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The state police are facing shrinking ranks and a funding shortage as a slew of troopers approach retirement age.

Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a $25 per-person fee for each of Pennsylvania's 2.5 million residents in nearly 1,300 municipalities that rely on state police coverage instead of a local police force.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

President Trump will address the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, on Friday at 10:20 a.m. ET, just outside of Washington, D.C. The conference is billed by its organizers as “the birthplace of modern conservatism.” As a candidate, Trump did not attend the annual gathering of conservative activists. Now, he will speak as the leader of a Republican-controlled government. NPR’s Politics team will be annotating a transcript of his remarks as he makes them.

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Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

A new film fest is coming to Pittsburgh.

The inaugural Black Bottom Film Festival will showcase contemporary, classic and independent black cinema this Friday through Sunday at the August Wilson Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

Joe Lewis of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust said there aren't enough platforms for black video, particularly locally produced and independent films. He said the jumping off points for selecting media for the festival, were the themes frequented by famed Pittsburgh writer August Wilson.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week’s topics include the recent nationwide rise in constituent-led town halls; interfaith support for, and the economic impact of, Pittsburgh’s immigrant residents; and bills proposed to combat the commonwealth’s opioid epidemic.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Sharon Serbin describes herself as a Jane-of-all-trades: an artist, a personal trainer, and most recently, a life skills counselor at the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services. Serbin lost her hearing in her teens, and has spent many years working in the hearing and deaf communities. 90.5 WESA’s Margaret J. Krauss interviewed Serbin as part of an ongoing series in which we speak with leading experts and people of interest in the Pittsburgh community. Their conversation has been edited for length.

 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Sprout Fund is collaborating with city and county leaders to help young black men build digital literacy skills and find jobs.

The City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the Sprout Fund will partner together as part of the national My Brother’s Keeper initiative to connect organizations that work with youth to help close the digital divide and prepare men of color between the ages of 16 and 24 for the workforce.

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

Updated: 1:53 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, 2017.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools District says it is committed to supporting transgender students and has not changed its nondiscrimination policy following the Trump administration’s move to rescind protections.

Hitcher / Flickr

Authorities say a trench collapse at Fitz Henry and Reduction roads in Westmoreland County killed a man working at the site on Wednesday.

The county coroner's office said 18-year-old Adam Skokut Jr., who graduated from Yough Senior High School last spring, was installing a sewer pipe at the South Huntingdon Township property at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when the trench began to fill with water.

He tried to escape but fell back into the nine-foot-deep trench, and the side walls collapsed, trapping him beneath tons of dirt.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

On Feb. 17, 2016, Kelsey Williams got some devastating news.

“I went in for my routine anatomy 20-week ultrasound with my second child – my husband and I have a 4-and-a-half year old – and nothing had been indicated as anything but typical up to that point in the pregnancy," she said.

The National Council on Teacher Quality and the EducationCounsel
Nathan Forget / Flickr

The nonprofit that runs the needle exchange program in Allegheny County is leaving it's current location in Oakland. 

Each Sunday, as many as 75 intravenous drug users or their surrogates visit the Prevention Point Pittsburgh needle exchange program at the Oakland office. But the exchange will move to East Liberty in April.

The health department is moving its clinic and wasn't able to guarantee Prevention Point would be able to use those facilities on Sundays. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Fifth grader Jaylen Hocker popped up from his front row seat at the O’Reilly Theater. He walked onto the stage, held up a hand to block the bright theater lights from his eyes and waited for the OK from a panel of judges before he began. 

“He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies. And what’s his reason? I am a Jew," he said, reciting William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

At a people’s town hall in Washington, Pa., southwest of Pittsburgh, an audience of about 45 listened to Leeann Howell talk about how repealing the Affordable Care Act would affect her.

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