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Essential Pittsburgh
3:56 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

After Charlie Hebdo, Local Editorial Cartoonists Defend Their Right to Satire

Credit Rob Rogers / Post-Gazette

In the aftermath of the shooting deaths of 12 people at a satirical weekly in Paris, what concerns does this tragic event raise for political cartoonists here at home? Award-winning political cartoonist Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Randy Bish, editorial cartoonist for the Tribune Review, discuss the Charlie Hebdo attack as an attack on free expression.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:41 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Winter Travel Destinations

Credit Elaine Labalme / WESA

As the temperatures plummet, how many of us don’t pass some of our time dreaming of relaxing on a warm, sandy beach?

Elaine Labalme, who tweets about food and travel under the Twitter handle New Girl in Town, joins us to suggest beach destinations you can escape to this winter.

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Environment & Energy
3:07 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Coal Company Wants PennDOT to Pay

A road is being built over land that can be mined for coal, and a lawyer is trying to figure out how his client will be compensated.

Robert Lightcap is an attorney for Penn Pocahantas Coal Company which owns approximately 16 blocks of coal covering several thousand acres in Somerset County where Route 219 is being constructed.

The highway will go over the coal reserves owned by his client.

Some of the coal is in release to PBS Coals. They already had a planned, permitted mine in place. Lightcap says acres of coal will be lost because of the road project.

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Weather
2:50 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

With Cold Temperatures, Warming Stations Open in Pittsburgh

Several warming centers are opening to give Pittsburghers refuge from the bitter cold temperatures this week.

The City of Pittsburgh has opened the Greenfield, Homewood, Sheraden and South Side Market House Senior Centers to help Pittsburghers get out of the cold.  They will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice.

The Light of Life Rescue Mission is also opening its front doors – and offering snacks and hot chocolate – during the day.

Kate Wadsworth, public relations manager, said the shelter is open Thursday for anyone looking to escape the cold.

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Environment & Energy
2:15 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Court OKs Drilling In PA Parks, Forests; Appeal Planned

An environmental group plans to appeal a court ruling that upheld the leasing of public lands for gas and oil drilling. Commonwealth Court rejected a 2012 lawsuit by the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation seeking to halt drilling in state parks and forests and diverting revenues from a conservation fund to the general operating budget.

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Animals
2:04 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Endangered African Penguin Chicks Make Public Debut at National Aviary

The newest members of the National Aviary's African penguin family.
Deanna Garcia 90.5 WESA

Less than a month after they hatched, two baby African penguins will now be on display along with their parents and other penguins at the National Aviary. The hatching of chicks is a somewhat rare and much-celebrated event.

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Keystone Crossroads
3:30 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Auditor General: Pennsylvania Needs to Better Monitor Corporate Tax Incentives

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale discusses the details of an audit at the State Capitol.
Credit Marielle Segarra / WHYY

Every year, Pennsylvania gives out hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, loans, and other financial help to companies. In exchange, the companies promise to invest. Maybe they'll build a new office, or create a certain number of jobs, for instance.

The Department of Community and Economic Development gives out this money, and it's also responsible for holding companies to their promises.

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Environment & Energy
6:51 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

County To Pursue Increased Air Quality Monitoring, Federal Compliance In 2015

Michael Bett is a Ben Avon Borough Councilman, and he wants to see the Shenango coke plant on Neville Island shut down, for good.

Bett, who is a co-founder of Allegheny Clean Air Now, made his case for shuttering the plant to the Allegheny County Board of Health meeting Wednesday, ahead of a presentation from the county’s air program manager about plans to improve air quality in 2015.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:19 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Thursday Rundown: An Attack on Free Speech and Connecting to the Community

Credit SLB Radio Productions / SLB

These topics air Thursday, January 8, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Terrorist Attack on Free Speech

In the aftermath of the shooting deaths of 12 people at a satirical weekly in Paris, what concerns does this tragic event raise for political cartoonists here at home? We’ll discuss terroristic threats to freedom of speech with award winning political cartoonist Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Randy Bish,editorial cartoonist for the Tribune Review.

Crossing Fences

Since 2012 the Crossing Fences project has been using audio and radio to connect generations. Their latest project helped African American males connect with leaders in their community. Joining us to discuss the project are Larry Berger, executive director and Chanessa Schuler, multi-media specialist of Saturday Light Brigade Radio. 

Winter Beaches

As the temperatures plummet, how many of us don’t pass some of our time dreaming of relaxing on a warm, sandy beach? Elaine Labalme, who tweets about food and travel under the Twitter handle New Girl in Town, joins us to suggest beach destinations you can escape to this winter.

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Media
5:02 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Local Editorial Cartoonists React to Attacks in France

Editorial cartoonists around the world, including Pittsburgh, are creating cartoons in response to the attacks against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Masked gunmen stormed into the French magazine’s office Wednesday morning, killed 12 people, including the magazine’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier, and wounded 11 others. The attackers have yet to be captured.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:57 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Pittsburgh's Improving Water Quality

Credit Joseph / Flickr

Although not as apparent today, Pittsburgh was once one of the top industrial cities in America- and one of the dirtiest.

Often described as “hell with the lid off,” Pittsburgh of old was a city of dark noons where workers had to change their white shirts during the day. Since the Steel City’s mid-century renaissance, the air quality has improved significantly.

Improving the water quality of the famed three rivers- which were often used as garbage disposal by past residents- has been a longer process.

But encouraging news came out of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently, when they announced that the Monongahela River had been removed from the department’s list of Rivers with Impaired Drinking Water.

The department’s Deputy Secretary of Water Management Kelly Heffner said that though this was a step in the right direction, there is still plenty of work to be done in Western Pennsylvania.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:54 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

PA Gun Legislation in Limbo

Credit Keary O. / Flickr

Last November, Governor Corbett signed into law Act 192, which allows Pennsylvania gun enthusiasts and groups to sue communities that have "lost and stolen" ordinances -- local laws requiring gun owners to notify police when a firearm goes missing. The law has supporters and critics. Post-Gazette reporter Chris Potter joins us to look at both sides of the issue.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:50 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

A Story of McCarthyism in Pittsburgh

Senator Joseph McCarthy
Credit United Press / Library of Congress


"I have here in my hand a list of 205,” said Senator Joe McCarthy during a speech given in 1950.

“A list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department."

What the senator said was completely untrue, but it didn’t stop his tactics- which came to be known as McCarthyism- from spreading across the country.

The nation was gripped by a communist panic, and baseless accusations were soon flying in both the public and private sphere.

Sixty years ago, five employees at the Westinghouse Electric Corporation’s East Pittsburgh plant were fired for being named in McCarthy’s Washington hearings as “undesirable”. Historian and author Charles McCollester stopped by Studio A to recall what happened.

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Health
4:21 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

County Health Officials Urge People to Climb, Not Ride on 'National Take the Stairs Day'

As part of the ongoing Live Well Allegheny Initiative, the county on Friday will encourage employees to take the stairs, rather than the elevators in the workplace.

“It’s a great way to get a little exercise," said Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Department of Health. "It’s very convenient and very efficient, and does have some real benefits.”

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Government & Politics
4:20 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Wolf's Inauguration Coincides With Construction at Capitol Complex

Governor-elect Tom Wolf joked frequently on the campaign trail that he started his career in the Wolf family cabinet-making company in a warehouse, driving a forklift. So maybe he’ll feel at home outside the Capitol complex on inauguration day in less than two weeks.

The Democrat will take his oath of office in a construction zone.

The Capitol complex is in the midst of a years-long project to make roof and lighting replacements, as well as fountain repairs.

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Government & Politics
3:53 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Survey Finds Trust in Government 'Can't Get Much Lower'

Trust in the state and federal governments have hit “historically low levels,” according to the Robert Morris University Polling Institute.

Of the 1,004 voters and nonvoters polled across the country following the November 2014 election, 21.7 percent said they trusted the federal government, while 20.3 percent said they had confidence in the state. Local governments were seen as the most trustworthy with about 40 percent approval.

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Government & Politics
7:37 am
Wed January 7, 2015

A Return by State Lawmakers Before Wolf's Inauguration Called 'Highly Unlikely'

It was fun while it lasted, but call this rumor bunk: Leaders and aides say the Republican-controlled House and Senate will not try to push bills to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk before Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf is sworn in.

“If you’re talking about something to get to Governor Corbett’s desk, there’s not even enough days now, at this point, unless we were in this week,” said Republican Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman as he walked to his office following Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremonies.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:45 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Wednesday Rundown: Local Water Quality Improves, But Is It Good Enough?

Credit Joseph / Flickr

These topics air Wedesday January 7, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Southwestern PA Water Quality

The good news is a new study by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reports improved water quality in the rivers of Southwestern PA. The bad news is more needs to be done. We’ll talk with Deputy Secretary of Water Management Kelly Heffner about the condition of the region’s waterways.

A Re-Examination of Local Gun-Control Ordinances

Last November, Governor Corbett signed into law Act 192, which allows Pennsylvania gun enthusiasts and groups to sue communities that have "lost and stolen" ordinances, local laws requiring gun owners to notify police when a firearm goes missing. The law has supporters and critics. Post-Gazette reporter Chris Potter joins us to look at both sides of the issue.

McCarthyism in Pittsburgh

During the first week of January 1955, five employees at the Westinghouse Electric Corporation's East Pittsburgh plant were fired as "undesirable" following hearings in Washington held by Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations and subcommittee. Historian and author Charles McCollester recalls the event. 

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Government & Politics
6:08 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Legislation Would Provide Paid Family Leave for City Employees

Legislation that would give city of Pittsburgh employees six weeks of full paid family leave was submitted in City Council Tuesday.

It would amend the current rules that allow leave, but must be unpaid if all vacation and sick time has been used. The current policy adheres to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak submitted the bill and said it applies to everyone, “regardless of their marital status, or their gender and it also allows employees who have children, who are adopting children, or who are fostering children to take advantage of this.”

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Cold Preparation
5:08 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

From Pets to Pipes, Cold Weather Takes a Toll

The National Weather Service is forecasting an overnight low of two degrees Wednesday night, well below the average temperature for this time of year.  The all-time record low for January 6th is one degree, and for January 7th is two. This current icy weather might be problematic for Pittsburgh’s home owners and pets.

John L. Sullivan, owner of Sullivan Super Service, says his company can handle approximately 20 service calls a day. When temperatures fall below 10 degrees, the company can receive as many as 300 calls in just a few hours. The culprit? Frozen pipes.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:52 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Ohio Earthquakes Linked to Hydraulic Fracturing

Credit Nicholas Tonelli / Flickr

Researchers at Miami University in Ohio have concluded fracking was most likely the cause of earthquakes that have taken place in the state.

Last March, 77 earthquakes occurred in Poland, Ohio, a town near the PA-OH state line. Reporter Julie Grant of the Allegheny Front joins us to discuss this recent report.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:14 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Would You Like to Buy an Ambassadorship?

Credit Ryan McFarland / Flickr

In 2014, a number of President Obama’s US ambassador appointees were confirmed by the Senate, despite their lack of diplomacy experience. Appointees such as Noah Bryson Mamet, the new ambassador of Argentina, have never visited the country where they will be stationed.

While a president naming political appointees as ambassadors is not new, international policy experts such as Penn State International Affairs professor and retired U.S. Ambassador Dennis Jett are concerned.

In his new book “American Ambassadors: The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats,” he looks at the various paths to becoming a diplomat.

Jett joins Dan Simpson, another former ambassador and a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist, to discuss the role of ambassadors in this ever more globalized world.

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Gambling
2:46 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Slot Machine Revenue Up in December, Down in 2014

Despite a bump in December, Pennsylvania’s slot machine revenues were down nearly 3 percent in 2014.

According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, nearly all of the state’s 12 casinos experienced growth in slot revenue last month, with the exception of Rivers Casino, which saw a .16 percent drop in revenue compared to December 2013.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:42 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Pittsburgh Neighborhood Focus: Allentown

Streetcar tracks on E Warrington Ave in the Allentown neighborhood
Joseph Flickr

Pittsburgh is made of dozens of neighborhoods, each with their own unique backgrounds, residents, businesses and other characteristics.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris focuses in on some of the city’s most interesting neighborhoods, and discusses her findings every first Tuesday of the month.

Today, she focused on Allentown, a neighborhood south of downtown and just up the hill from WESA’s South Side studio.

The "town" of Allentown was founded by an Englishman, Joseph Allen, in 1827, but most of its original occupants were German. Pittsburgh annexed the town in 1872.

Much has changed since then, as most of the original businesses have disappeared. But shops such as the Hardware Store have moved into the neighborhood.

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Health
2:42 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Flu Season Rages On, But There Are Ways to Protect Yourself

The flu season is reaching its peak and many have been feeling the effects.

That’s according to Dr. David Nace, director of long-term care and flu programs for the Division of Geriatric Medicine at UPMC and medical director at the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging.

Nace says the flu has been widespread this season, but not as virulent.
“We’re certainly seeing a lot more overall activity than we did last year, in terms of numbers of hospitalizations," he said. "What’s interesting though is last year we saw a lot more critical illness.”

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Government & Politics
8:08 am
Tue January 6, 2015

House and Senate Reconvene for Swearing-In Day

Pennsylvania’s state lawmakers will make a short visit to Harrisburg for their swearing-in Tuesday.

The House will elect a Speaker, the Senate will elect a President Pro Tem, and both chambers will adopt rules for the coming two-year session.

“This is all pretty much routine – scripted,” said House Chief Clerk Tony Barbush.

Sometimes people go off-book.

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Agriculture
3:30 am
Tue January 6, 2015

No, Agriculture Isn't Pennsylvania's Top Industry

Dale Rossman climbs into his combine while harvesting corn on his farm in Spring Mills, Pa. on Oct. 28, 2007.
Credit AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is set to begin the second weekend of January, giving public officials a chance to tout agriculture as the state's leading industry. But the data behind this oft-heard claim is fuzzy.

Agriculture isn't the state's top industry based on any ranking from the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I). The purported ranking is rooted in an assessment of the industry's economic impact: $75 billion, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:06 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Tuesday Rundown: Exploring the Value of Diplomacy

Credit Lorenia / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday January 6, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Ohio Earthquakes

Researchers at Miami University in Ohio have concluded fracking was most likely the cause of earthquakes that have taken place in the state. Last March, 77 earthquakes occurred in Poland, Ohio a town near the PA-OH state line. Reporter Julie Grant of the Allegheny Front joins us to discuss this recent report.

Would You Like To Buy an Ambassadorship?

In 2014, a number of President Obama’s US ambassador appointees were confirmed by the Senate, despite their lack of diplomacy experience. Appointees such as Noah Bryson Mamet, the new ambassador of Argentina, have never visited the country where they will be stationed. While a president naming political appointees as ambassadors is not new, international policy experts such as Penn State International Affairs professor and retired U.S. Ambassador Dennis Jett are concerned. In his new book “American Ambassadors The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats” he looks at the various paths to becoming a diplomat. Joined by Dan Simpson, another former ambassador and a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist, they discuss the role of ambassadors in this ever more globalized world.

WESA Celebrates Al Condeluci

For more than 40 years, Al Condeluci has been instrumental in changing the lives of thousands of disabled people in the Pittsburgh area. His awareness and dedication started first hand, with his cousin Carrie, who had Down Syndrome.

Business Segment - Allentown

Cities are made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique features and characteristics. On the first Tuesday of the month, business contributor Rebecca Harris will focus on one of the city’s neighborhoods. Today's focus is on Allentown. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:05 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Fracking in 2015, in Light of a New Pennsylvania Governor and the New York Ban

Credit Adam Welz for CREDO Action / Flickr

Last month the state of New York voted to ban fracking. While many celebrated this news some saw their visions of an economic boom go bust.

Journalist Tom Wilber has been covering shale gas developments and gives a first-hand account of this latest news and emphasizes the importance of timing for this decision,  fracking's impact public health and social consequences and its relation to Pennsylvania.

"New York and Pennsylvania are different states in terms of their history with mineral extraction. I think that Pennsylvania has a different comfort level with mineral extraction, going back to the days of the anthracite coal mining. I think there is more of an acceptance of the downside of mineral extraction in Pennsylvania. [ In New York] It's foreign to people [mineral extraction]."

Allegheny Front reporter, Reid Frazier responds to Wilber’s point by reminding us that along with the attention of environmental groups, PA Governor-elect Tom Wolf has said he will be focusing on the public health implications of fracking in Pennsylvania.

Essential Pittsburgh
7:52 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Innovative Medical Device Aims to Improve Quality of Life for Parkinson's Patients

Credit Noah Papas / Abilife

Developing an assistive brace for people with Parkinson’s disease was more than a humanitarian act for Courtney Williamson; it was personal. It has also served as her entrance into the medical devices industry. 

As the founder of AbiliLife and a PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University,  Courtney has gone through six prototypes to create a brace that she describes as a "light weight and breathable" vest, which aims to be as easy as putting on a T-shirt.

Courtney explained her motivation and inspiration for the making the Calibrace, assistive brace: 

"My mother has had Parkinson's for about 25 years. I noticed she had a lot of trouble with her day-to-day tasks, primarily with her posture and with her balance. I looked constantly for things to help her and I couldn't find anything. This really started because I wanted to help my mom."

The brace is scheduled to launch in April of this year. 

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