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Government & Politics
9:47 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Spokesman: Private Donors Will Bankroll Wolf Transition

In a break with recent history, Governor-elect Tom Wolf's transition will be paid for by private donations, not tax dollars.

A spokesman said Wolf will not take the $250,000 estimated by the state budget secretary to cover the costs of setting up offices for the changeover.

Instead, private donations will be accepted and disclosed on the Wolf's transition website by inauguration day, January 20. Late donations will be disclosed 30 days after the fact, said spokesman Jeff Sheridan.

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Arts & Culture
7:11 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Social Club for the Weekend of Dec. 5

Is there more to life than beer and cookies? Sure! There's also haggis, alligator tail, and other deep-fried curiosities.

Your weekend agenda in Pittsburgh:

Handmade Arcade

Brew Gentlemen's Food Truck Roundup

The Joy of Cookies

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Government & Politics
4:13 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Fitzgerald Announces Re-Election Bid For Allegheny County Executive

Governor-elect Tom Wolf introduces Allegheny County Rich Fitzgerald as he announces his bid for re-election.
Credit 90.5 / Michael Lynch

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, with the support of Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf, announced his bid for re-election Thursday.

The Squirrel Hill Democrat is seeking a second four-year term, and his campaign can be summed up in two words: jobs and transportation.

With desirable jobs come young talent, and according to Fitzgerald, that talent leads to progress.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:16 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Friday Rundown: The Business Behind Best-Selling Books

What does it really take to go from a manuscript, to a published book, to a bestseller?
Credit Nomadic Lass / Flickr

These topics air Friday December 5, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Bipartisan Support for the ABLE Act

For the first time since the early 1990’s, major legislation for people with disabilities is poised to be approved by Congress. The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, also known as the ABLE Act could make it possible for disabled people to live independently and work without fear of losing important benefits. The ABLE act just passed the House and is now making its way through the Senate. Bob Casey, a US Senator representing Pennsylvania has been sponsoring the legislation. He joins us along with Jillian Zacks, an estate attorney specializing in special needs planning, and a mother of 2 children on the autism spectrum.

On Pointe

Pointe Magazine has included Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre soloists Luca Sbrizzi and Gabrielle Thurlow among its Top 10 Standout Performances of 2014. The dancers, who will be featured in PBT’s production of the holiday classic The Nutcracker, take a moment from their rehearsal to speak with us.

The Business Behind An American Bestseller

Thousands of people set out to write a book each year and get it published. Many hope to see their book turn into a bestseller. But even when a writer tries to do everything right, there’s still no guarantee of success. For that reason, Irina Reyn, an Assistant professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the book “What Happened to Anna K?” has developed an undergraduate course focused how a manuscript becomes a book and how a book becomes a bestseller. She joins us along with Mitch Hoffman, Executive Editor at Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette, to discuss what it takes to get a new book into the hands of readers. 

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Government & Politics
5:13 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Bill Would Allow 529-Style Plans For Children With Disabilities

You can do it for your retirement, you can do it for your child’s education, but you can’t put money away tax free to help make sure your child with a disability will have the money he or she needs after you are gone. A bill up for a vote Wednesday in the U.S. Senate would make that a reality.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:12 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Lives: CMU's Breathe Cam Photographs Local Air Pollution

Credit Breathe Cam / Breathe Project and CREATELab

Improving air quality continues to be a major challenge in the region, but Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab has collaborated with the Breathe Project and introduced Breathe Cam.

It's designed to give area residents direct access to the world's most sophisticated technology for documenting visual pollution in the air they breathe. CMU Robotics professor Illah Nourbakhsh joins us to explain how it works. 

Pittsburgh’s air pollution has improved a great deal over the last few decades, but it still has a long way to go, and the city's air quality remains among the worst in the nation.

Illah Nourbakhsh shares a  haunting statistic about air pollution.

"Air pollution across the US is killing more people than prostate cancer, AIDS and breast cancer put together."

Community
5:05 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Fast Food Workers March in North Side for Minimum Wage Hike

Fast food workers march through the drive-through at the Wendy's on Allegheny Avenue in North Side. Protesters were calling for a hike to the federal minimum wage.
Credit Julian Routh / WESA

More than 100 fast food workers and supporters marched along Allegheny Avenue in the North Side Thursday morning to fight for a minimum wage hike.

The protest started at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church and ended at the Wendy’s restaurant two blocks away, where the workers marched through the drive-through. The supporters also entered the doors of the McDonald’s next door to yell chants including, “We can’t survive on $7.25.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:01 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Could a Pitt and Penn State Face-Off Be in the Works?

The University of Pittsburgh's first road win against the Miami Hurricanes in more than half a century has made the Panthers bowl eligible.

Some are speculating that it could lead to the first football game between Pitt and Penn State since 2000.

Veteran AP sports editor and journalist John Affleck, who was appointed in 2013 as Knight Chair at Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, joins us to sort out the potential bowl game scenarios.

Community
4:36 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Chanting 'Shut It Down,' Protesters Block Downtown Pittsburgh Streets

Dozens of protesters participated in a rally in downtown Pittsburgh Thursday.
Jessica Nath 90.5 WESA

“Hands up – don’t shoot!”

That was the cry of dozens of Pittsburghers who gathered downtown Thursday to protest the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers.

“The average person, the average citizen has to get involved in this. This involves all of us,” said organizer Julia Johnson. “Police brutality, systemic racism, the list goes on and on of the issues that our country is suffering from right now. Everyone must be a part of this movement. We must liberate ourselves from this oppressive system.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:49 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Julia Johnson on Protests Following Eric Garner Decision

Protesters in Oakland Demonstrate in the Wake of the Garner Decision, Dec. 3, 2014
Credit Britt Reints / Flickr

In the wake of a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the alleged chokehold death of Eric Garner, protests erupted around the nation -- including in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood. Local social justice organizer Julia Johnson joins us to offer her take on the local and national reaction to the Garner case.

Responding to critics who pointed out that last night’s protests in Oakland disrupted traffic and disturbed the community, Johnson explains, “that small inconvenience is the price people have to pay for allowing this system that oppresses people, that kills people and has no accountability for the murderers.”

The protests in the Garner case have been especially impassioned, Johnson says, because of growing momentum that has been built in recent weeks and months following the Ferguson case.

Johnson explains that in response to a series of national and local cases of police brutality against African Americans, a coalition of Pittsburgh activists and concerned citizens has created a list of demands in the interest of social justice and police accountability.

Protest footage courtesy of The Pitt News:

Behavioral Health
3:24 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Researchers Find Link Between Concussion-Related Depression and White Matter

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh looked at people with neuropsychiatric symptoms for following concussion and found that a link exists between white matter and concussion-related depression.

Saaed Fakhran a radiology professor at Pitt who led the research, said Alzheimer's and brain degeneration tend to get more attention.

“But in terms of just pure numbers, the number of people affected by depression and anxiety is just way, way more than anything else. And unlike brain degeneration and Alzheimer's, this is something that happens right away,” he said. 

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Arts & Culture
2:02 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Foundations Begin Restructuring of August Wilson Center

Do not expect to hear much out of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture for the next few months.

According to Pittsburgh Foundation spokesman Doug Root the Center will be entering a "quiet period" as an interim governing body has the facility assessed and searches for a new permanent oversight board.  

The temporary panel will include the heads of the Heinz Endowments, R.K. Mellon and the Pittsburgh Foundation — the three foundations that were instrumental in orchestrating a purchase of the bankrupt building from Dollar Bank.

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Government & Politics
11:05 am
Thu December 4, 2014

State Budget Czar Crosses Fingers for a Few Big Jackpots

Lottery players have been sitting on the sidelines for games like Mega Millions and Powerball, and state bean-counters can tell.

"We're seeing some weakness in our lottery fund revenues, where sales are not keeping pace to projections," said state Budget Secretary Charles Zogby at his mid-year budget briefing Wednesday. "That's certainly a risk that's out there that we need to be mindful of and potentially plan for."

The announcement came as a bit of a surprise, since lawmakers earlier this year made a technical tweak to maximize game profits.

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Government & Politics
10:54 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Budget Report Creates Another Source of Tension in Gubernatorial Transition

A mid-year progress report on the state's budget outlook is giving the outgoing Gov. Tom Corbett and incoming Governor-elect Tom Wolf a chance to put each other on notice, becoming the latest chapter in what's becoming a rocky gubernatorial transition.

With his legally mandated mid-year budget report Wednesday, Budget Secretary Charles Zogby confirmed what independent agencies have said for months: Next year's budget situation will be tough, due to rising mandated costs, weak revenues, and the amount of one-time funding sources used to balance this year's spending plan.

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Community
7:48 am
Thu December 4, 2014

At Rallies in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Activists Chant 'Black Lives Matter'

A man holds his arms up in the air while participating in a demonstration on Wednesday Dec. 3, 2014, in Philadelphia. Crowds protesting the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of police held demonstrations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In Philadelphia, the group rallied at the train station and marched through downtown before disrupting a tree lighting ceremony at City Hall.
Credit AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek

Crowds protesting the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers marched in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on Wednesday.

In Philadelphia, a group rallied at the train station and marched through downtown before disrupting a tree lighting ceremony at City Hall. The group's chants of "No justice, no Christmas!" and other phrases drowned out several performances at the City Hall celebration, but the tree was lit as scheduled.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:35 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Thursday Rundown: Tracking Air Quality with Breathe Cam

Two images of the Northside from the Breathe Project's Breathe Cam. Taken at 11:29AM on two separate dates – on a clear day (7/4) details on the horizon are clearly visible; on a hazy day (8/5) fine particle (PM2.5) concentration is high and white haze covers the hillside.
Credit Breathe Cam / Breathe Project and CREATELab

These topics air Thursday December 4, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Breathe Cam

Improving air quality continues to be a major challenge in the region, but now Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab has introduced Breathe Cam. It's designed to give area residents direct access to the world's most sophisticated technology for documenting visual pollution in the air they breathe. CMU Robotics professor Illah Nourbakhsh joins us to explain how it works.

WESA Celebrates - Paul Abernathy

Four years ago, after graduating from the seminary, Paul Abernathy made it his mission to help people living in the Hill District. His efforts resulted in the opening of the thrift shop called FOCUS. It stands for the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve. It also stands for Food, Occupation, Clothing, Understanding and Shelter, which are needed in this community. Paul Abernathy is the profile subject of this week’s WESA Celebrates.

Pitt-Penn State Rivalry Renewed?

The University of Pittsburgh's first road win against the Miami Hurricanes in more than half a century has made the Panthers bowl eligible. Some are speculating that it could lead to the first football game between Pitt and Penn State since 2000. Veteran AP sports editor and journalist John Affleck, who was appointed in 2013 as Knight Chair at Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, joins us to sort out the potential bowl game scenarios. 

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Pittsburgh
5:19 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

No Decision in Court Case Challenging Pittsburgh Buffer Zone Outside Planned Parenthood

For now, the 15-foot buffer zone outside of Pittsburgh’s downtown Planned Parenthood location will remain in place.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh has delayed ruling on a lawsuit challenging the city ordinance that requires protesters and other abortion opponents to stay outside a painted yellow line marking the zone. The lawsuit contends this violates the Constitution.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:48 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Ten Years of New Voices Pittsburgh and the Future of Reproductive Justice

The women of New Voices Pittsburgh were recently honored by Pittsburgh City Council for their reproductive justice work over the last 10 years.
NewVoices Pittsburgh Twitter

This week, New Voices Pittsburgh Women of Color for Reproductive Justice celebrates 10 years as a human rights organization in the Pittsburgh region.

Initially the grassroots group had some trouble defining themselves and their mission.

How do you advocate for reproductive justice when most people don’t understand what that term means?

But as they’ve partnering with organizations such as the Women’s Law Project, and brought attention to the treatment of incarcerated women in the state prison system, NVP has carved out a more defined mission and area for growth.

We’ll talk with LaTasha Mayes, Founder and Executive Director of New Voices Pittsburgh, about what reproductive justice means for whole communities and how grassroots organizing is evolving.

New Voices Pittsburgh Women of Color for Reproductive Justice will be celebrating their 10 year anniversary at the Andy Warhol Museum on Thursday December 4, 2014 click here for more information.

Community
3:15 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Red Kettle Collections Falling Behind

The Red Kettle Christmas Campaign isn’t seeing as much green as the Salvation Army would like in Western Pennsylvania.

According to the nearly 150-year-old charity, 24 of the 39 Worship and Service Centers are trailing behind last year’s pace. Allegheny County is off by more than $37,500. The charity hopes to raise $577,000 in the county.

Major William Bode, divisional commander of the Salvation Army’s Western Pennsylvania Division, said the popularity of online shopping could be one reason for lag in donations.

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Community
3:09 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

United Way Announces Program Expansion for Families, Women and Veterans

More than 60 percent of Allegheny County’s impoverished residents live in suburban neighborhoods, according to a 2013 report by the Brookings Institution, and veterans make up about 33 percent of Pittsburgh’s homeless population.

Those are just two of the reasons why the United Way of Allegheny County announced Wednesday that the nonprofit will expand several programs over the next three years to improve the quality of life for struggling families, women and veterans in the region.

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Environment
3:06 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

The Views May Be Scenic, But This Photo Project Aims to Document Air Pollution

Every minute of the last six months has been captured by a series of four high-end panoramic cameras trained on some of the most scenic views to be found in southwestern Pennsylvania.

But the collection of pictures has not been created to help the sell the city to tourists and businesses, instead they have been put up to document the pollution that often gets in the way of seeing the landscape.

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First Night Pittsburgh
3:00 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

'First Night' In Pittsburgh Set To Be A Blast

Sax Funk Group, Beauty Slap, will be performing at First Night
Credit Jess Lasky

This year’s First Night will be jam packed with events for the New Year right in the heart of Pittsburgh. Tens of thousands of celebrants are expected to crowd Downtown to enjoy events including fire dancers, musical performances, magicians, a parade and a lot more.

The event kicks off at 6 pm December 31st with a performance from funk group, Beauty Slap, and fireworks.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:03 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

The Death of Kosta Karageorge and the Psychological Impact of Concussions

Credit MGoBlog / Flickr

Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge, who disappeared last Wednesday, was found Sunday in a trash bin, the victim of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Research has shown that football players are three times more likely to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which can leave its victims depressed, disoriented and suicidal. We'll talk with Ohio Public Radio reporter Andy Chow, who has been following the story.

And in the wake of the death of Karageorge, we focus on the link between suicide and concussions with Erin Reynolds, a doctor in neuropsychology for the UPMC Sports Medicine and Concussion Program.

Could college football programs be more proactive when it comes to helping players who are dealing with concussion issues? What are some of the behavioral signs?

For parents, coaches, and athletes  Dr. Reynolds recommends the new website ReThink Concussions for information on diagnosis, management and rehabilitation.

STEM Education
12:58 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Central Catholic to Add STEM Academic Building

Ground was broken Wednesday on a four-story academic building at Central Catholic High School in Oakland that will be devoted exclusively to STEM—science, technology, engineering and math.

According to Brother Bob Schaefer, Central’s principal, the facility will include state of the art labs for traditional sciences with a focus on the “T” and “E” in STEM.  “We’re going to have an entire area of the building that’s dedicated to those kind of pre-engineering and computer science and particularly opportunities for the students to develop some courses with the robotics technology.”

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Government & Politics
7:13 am
Wed December 3, 2014

PA's Latest Legislative Session, By the Numbers

State lawmakers are spending the next month getting ready for the new legislative session beginning this month, lining up committee assignments and preparing the proposals they’ll introduce.

A bird’s eye view of the two-year session that just wrapped up in November finds that a total of 369 proposals were enacted.

House lawmakers introduced 3,610 measures (and 1,091 resolutions), and senators introduced 1,981 proposals (and more than 500 resolutions).

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Government & Politics
7:10 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Late Budget? Bill Would Halt Lawmakers’ Pay

A bipartisan duo of state senators is looking to make it a bit more painful for lawmakers to pass a late state budget — by putting top officials’ pay on the line.

Under the measure backed by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) and Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin), a budget passed after the end of the fiscal year on June 30 would trigger a suspension of pay for state lawmakers, the lieutenant governor, the governor and his cabinet. A similar measure introduced in the latest legislative session suspended pay for only the governor and state lawmakers.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:14 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: The Psychological Impact of Brain Injury

Exploring the ways brain injuries can effect us psychologically.
Credit Ars Electronica / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday December 3, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

The Violent Death of Kosta Karageorge

Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge, who disappeared last Wednesday, was found Sunday in a trash bin, the victim of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Research has shown that football players are three times more likely to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which can leave its victims depressed, disoriented and suicidal. We'll talk with reporter Andy Chow who has been following this story.

Concussion Research

In the wake of the death of Kosta Karageorge, we'll focus on the link between suicide and concussions with Erin Reynolds, a doctor in neuropsychology for UPMC's Sports Medicine and Concussion Program. Could college football programs be more proactive when it comes to helping players who are dealing with concussion issues?

10 Years of New Voices in Pittsburgh

This week, New Voices Pittsburgh Women of Color for Reproductive Justice celebrates 10 years as a human rights organization in the Pittsburgh region. Initially the grassroots group had some trouble defining themselves and their mission. How do you advocate for reproductive justice when most people don’t understand what that term means? But as they’ve partnering with organizations such as the Women’s Law Project, and brought attention to the treatment of incarcerated women in the state prison system, NVP has carved out a more defined mission and area for growth. We’ll talk with LaTasha Mayes, Founder and Executive Director of New Voices Pittsburgh, about what reproductive justice means for communities in the region and how grassroots organizing is evolving. 

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Arts & Culture
5:24 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

ARAD Approves Largest Budget in 20-Year History

The Allegheny Regional Asset District will allocate more than it ever has in its 20-year history to organizations and projects in 2015.

The Board of Directors of the ARAD approved a $93.7 million budget Monday that details the distribution of $89.3 million in operating grants and $4.4 million in capital grants to a total of 90 nonprofit or government agencies.

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Pets
5:20 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Legislation Aims to Protect Pets from Extreme Cold, Heat

If it’s too cold for you outside, then it’s too cold for your pet.

That’s the message Councilwoman Darlene Harris is sending Pittsburghers with the two pieces of legislation she introduced Tuesday.

The first piece of legislation would fine cat and dog owners a maximum of $500 dollars for leaving their pets outside for a long period of time when temperatures are below 32 degrees or higher than 90 degrees.

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Government & Politics
4:46 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Pittsburgh Department of Innovation and Performance Looks to the Future

Not even a year old yet, Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance addressed 2015 budget requests at one in a series of City Council budget hearings Tuesday.

The department’s budget has a proposed increase of about $255,000, a 1.84 percent change. Salaries in the budget decrease by about 2 percent. Department Chief Debra Lam said in less than one year, Innovation and Performance has already done a lot – including updating the 311 system.

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