News

Philadelphia Is The Latest City To Sue U.S. Government Over 'Sanctuary' Conditions

Aug 30, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Philadelphia on Wednesday became the latest "sanctuary city" to sue Attorney General Jeff Sessions over what officials say are unconstitutional immigration restrictions placed on a major federal grant.

The city is asking the court to stop Sessions from adding these conditions to a its Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant, which it uses to pay police overtime, upgrade equipment and courtroom technology and train officers.

Lawyer: Penn State Fraternity Leaders Were Unaware Pledge Who Died Was In Danger

Aug 30, 2017
Bebeto Matthews / AP

The lawyer for a Penn State fraternity president accused in the death of a pledge after a night of drinking and hazing argued Wednesday that his client didn't see anything to make him think the pledge was at risk of dying.

Defense attorney Frank Fina said during a preliminary hearing that there was no evidence that former Beta Theta Pi president Brendan Young acted maliciously the night 19-year-old Tim Piazza, of Lebanon, New Jersey, was fatally injured.

2 Dead And 4 Injured At Pittsburgh-Area Coal Plant Accident

Aug 30, 2017
Keith Srakocic / AP

Two workers died and four others were injured in an accident at a Pittsburgh-area coal-fired power plant late Tuesday.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Despite reports of improvement in recent days, Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium officials said Wednesday morning that the facility’s baby elephant has been euthanized.

“Our hearts are broken, it’s just devastating,” said Pittsburgh Zoo president and CEO Barbara Baker in a press release. “She touched so many people in such a short time. We did everything we possibly could to care for her, but unfortunately in the end, it just wasn’t enough.”

Carolyn Kaster / AP

A regional bank is paying $720,000 for naming rights to a Pennsylvania hockey rink made famous in the cult hockey comedy "Slap Shot."

The deal means the building will now be known as 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.

The 67-year-old arena was home to the defunct Johnstown Jets, a minor-league team whose fictionalized exploits were the focus of the 1977 Paul Newman film. The team was called the Charlestown Chiefs in the movie.

The Johnstown Tomahawks play in the junior league North American Hockey League.

Colt Group / Flicker

 

In mid-September, the Pittsburgh Technology Council will take a delegation of Pittsburghers across the Atlantic to Bilbao, Spain for a five-day trip. The goal of the visit is to take a leaf out of our Spanish sister-city’s book.

Brian Kennedy, senior vice president for government relations and operations at the council, stressed that if Pittsburgh wants to keep bringing in talent to fill high-tech jobs, the city needs to be a place that’s both exciting to live in and easy to get around in.

 

Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

More than eight months after a fight over funding for the state’s jobless program, the Wolf administration says the program is still working inadequately, and needs more money soon.

At a House committee meeting Tuesday, lawmakers attempted to hammer out how to make a long-term fix. But many left saying they still didn’t have enough information.

In April, the legislature authorized a short-term, $15 million funding solution, which was designed to tide over the Unemployment Compensation Program and kick-start upgrades to its decades-old computer system.

Margaret Krauss / 90.5 WESA

On a recent afternoon, Steve Kubrick climbed to the brand new roof of one of his buildings to look at the last seven years of his life, poured into rebuilding the former Alcoa Research Laboratory in New Kensington. 

Marie Cusick / StateImpact PA

A group of Roman Catholic nuns has filed a lawsuit against the federal agency that approved construction of a major interstate natural gas pipeline, planned to run through the nuns’ property in Lancaster County.

The suit, filed by sisters from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, targets the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline and alleges the project violates their religious freedom, which is protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Bigstock / via WHYY

Teenagers are often thought of as irresponsible — or even reckless. But a group of local researchers recently came to a different conclusion about what's going on in the teenage brain.

Stereotypes about young people and their brains abound, and scientists have not been immune to those ideas, said Dan Romer, research director at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center.

First, it was raging hormones that explained those wacky teens. Then, Romer said, it was the fact that the prefrontal cortex doesn't fully develop until adulthood.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

An estimated 18,000 homes in Pittsburgh's northern neighborhoods, Millvale and Reserve Township will continue to be under a flush and boil water advisory until at least Thursday, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority officials said Tuesday.

Mark Humphrey / AP

The devastation from Tropical Storm Harvey along the Gulf Coast is starting to have a ripple effect on gasoline prices across the country.

The storm has taken about 14 percent the nation’s refining capacity offline. The national average price of gasoline has started to rise, as major refineries in the Houston area have shut down.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with the online price-tracking firm GasBuddy, said Pennsylvania’s average of $2.55 per gallon will probably go up by about 10 to 15 cents.

Piotrus / Wikimedia Commons

An online petition to remove a controversial statue of one of Pittsburgh's native sons in Oakland has gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

Volmar Beche / flickr

An elderly woman in Pittsburgh’s East End has contracted West Nile Virus, the first reported case in Allegheny County since 2015.

Allegheny County Health Department officials said, while the disease can’t be spread through human contact, infected mosquito activity is higher this summer than in the previous six years.

Wolf To GOP: State's Finances Will Soon Be 'Much More Dire'

Aug 29, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf warned House Republican leaders Tuesday that failing to fully fund the state budget will put Pennsylvania in "a much more dire financial situation" in the coming weeks.

Wolf's letter to Speaker Mike Turzai, Majority Leader Dave Reed and six other House GOP leaders urged them to act quickly to fill the budget's $2.2 billion revenue gap.

David J. Phillip / AP

Six airmen skilled in securing and re-establishing cellphone and satellite communications are on their way to help with Tropical Storm Harvey recovery in the Houston area.

The Wolf administration said Tuesday the members of the 193rd Special Operations Wing departed on a C-130 transport plane for Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio.

They're based at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

Officials say they don't know how long the team will be helping out in Texas after being activated by the National Guard Bureau.

Matt Rourke / AP

Prices are on the rise for some of the most popular wines and liquors sold in state stores.

It’s the first hike more than two decades, thanks to a new law passed last year that gave the LCB the ability to flexibly price its products.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta will announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

Campaign spokesman Jon Anzur told The Associated Press on Monday night that Barletta will release a video announcing his run for the Senate seat held by two-term Democrat Bob Casey.

The Pennsylvania Republican's entry into the race was widely expected after the AP reported last month that Barletta had relayed his plans to GOP officials and activists.

John Miller / 90.5 WESA

One of President Trump’s signature campaign speeches was at a scrap aluminum plant near Pittsburgh in January 2016.

“We are going to put American steel -- and aluminum – back into the backbone of our country,” he said at the speech in Monessen, Pa. “This alone will create massive numbers of jobs, high-paying jobs.”


Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Shell Chemical Appalachia has reached a settlement agreement with two environmental groups that had challenged the air permit for its new petrochemical plant being built near Pittsburgh.

Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority issued a precautionary flush and boil advisory Monday night for city neighborhoods north of the Allegheny River, as well as Millvale and Reserve Township.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Airmall at Pittsburgh International Airport is accessible to non-flyers for the first time since stringent security was enacted following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The Airmall, a collection of shops and restaurants, has been off-limits to all but ticketed passengers except on special occasions.

When the airport opened in 1992, the Airmall was touted as a major feature and attracted non-flying shoppers, because prices in its businesses are audited to ensure they're not higher than those charged by similar outlets elsewhere in Allegheny County.

David J. Phillip / AP

Volunteers and rescue workers from the Pittsburgh area are making their way south to help flood victims in Texas.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Before presenting initial findings on the state of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Monday, Steve Steckler of the consulting firm Infrastructure Management Group, Inc. said, “none of them are very good.”

Ryan Melaugh / Flickr

A new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released earlier this month shows the suicide rate among females aged 15 to 19 hit a 40-year high in 2015.

The new data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics finds suicide rates doubled for females and rose by more than 30 percent for boys in the same age group between 2007 and 2015. 

Courtesy of Rochel Tombosky

Rochel Tombosky was born in California, but she and her parents moved to Squirrel Hill to become a part of the Jewish community there.

What Will The House Do? It’s Pennsylvania’s $2B Question

Aug 28, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

The question of what Pennsylvania's House Republican majority will do about a $2.2 billion hole in the state budget is sending ripples of worry through some quarters.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Officials at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium say a baby elephant's appetite is improving following insertion of a feeding tube to help it gain much-needed weight.

Zoo spokesperson Tracy Gray said the still-unnamed female calf is taking in more food through the tube "and she's also taking more bottles."

On Saturday, the zoo posted on a blog devoted to the elephant that the baby had taken a short walk "and we're beginning to see her feisty personality return."

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Carnegie Mellon University will publish an anthology of poetry and prose pieces in the fall, written by high school and college students. They're winners of the school's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Writing Awards, which started in 1999. 

90.5 WESA's Sarah Schneider spoke to the CMU English professor and the director of the program, Jim Daniels, about compiling the pieces. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

SARAH SCHNEIDER: What do you encourage students to write about?

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The state Department of Environmental Protection is working to speed up the training of several new water inspectors, in an effort to bring water safety measures across the state up to snuff.

The move comes after the federal Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter saying the commonwealth is failing to enforce water safety standards, and urging DEP officials to seek emergency funding to fix the situation.

The DEP recently hired two staff members, and officials said they’re expediting training on four more.

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