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Prisons
3:30 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Corrections Secretary to Examine Prison Overcrowding on Task Force

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel has been named to a national task force that will examine the criminal justice system, and most importantly, the issue of overcrowding in federal prisons.

Wetzel will begin work in January with eight other corrections officials on the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections. The blue ribbon task force will undertake a comprehensive analysis of how to avert the continued growth of the federal prison population.  

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Business
3:30 am
Mon January 5, 2015

More Pittsburgh Companies Report On Social Responsibility Steps

For a growing number of companies in the Pittsburgh region, the bottom line is including more than gross revenues, operating costs and net profit.

Over the last five years, the demand by investors for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting by companies has tripled, and more and more Pittsburgh area firms are now incorporating sustainability and CSR data with their traditional financial reporting.

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Public Safety
9:40 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

Police Chief's Anti-Racism Sign Lauded, Criticized

Pittsburgh's new police chief is being praised by the mayor but criticized by a police union president for being photographed on New Year's Eve holding a sign that says: "I resolve to challenge racism @ work."

The sign also has a Twitter hash tag that says "# end white silence." Chief Cameron McLay was photographed holding up the sign that someone had brought to the city's annual First Night celebration.

Mayor Bill Peduto said he saw the picture on social media and liked it so much he re-posted it on his own Facebook page.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:17 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

Monday Rundown: New York's Ban on Fracking and Pennsylvania Shale Issues in 2015

One of many fracking protests in New York City in the last few years.
Credit Adam Welz for CREDO Action / Flickr

These topics air Monday January 5, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.  

New York's Ban on Fracking

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. We’ll get a first-hand account of this latest development from journalist Tom Wilber who covers shale gas developments. We’ll also talk with Reid Frazier, a reporter for the Allegheny Front, about what impact, if any, New York’s decision could have on Pennsylvania and how the commonwealth’s shale industry may change under the governorship of Tom Wolf.

AbiliLife

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. We’ll meet Courtney Williamson and discover how Carnegie Mellon University is aiding in her passion for care giving.

Pittsburgh Fitness Challenge

It’s a new year and many are resolving to get in shape. Our fitness contributor Joe Vennare is on a mission to help Pittsburghers get in shape in 2015 by taking the Fitness Challenge. He’ll help us get started and fill us in on healthy events taking place in the Steel City in January.

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Sports
9:46 am
Sun January 4, 2015

Steelers Slammed 30-17 by Ravens in Wild Card

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense on the bench as they are losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter of an NFL wildcard playoff football game Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Credit AP Photo/Gene Puskar

Ben Roethlisberger was helped to his feet and walked slowly to the sideline, trying to clear his head from a hard hit and a night that didn't go his way.

Postseasons don't usually end at Heinz Field. Not like this. Not to hated Baltimore.

Without injured All-Pro back Le'Veon Bell, the Steelers were one-dimensional on offense and didn't do nearly enough to stop the Ravens, who snapped a three-game playoff losing streak against their bitter rivals with a 30-17 victory Saturday night in the AFC wild-card game.

"This is going to sting for a while," Roethlisberger said.

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Community
7:06 am
Sun January 4, 2015

Transgender Man Who Committed Suicide Remembered At Vigil

Mourners left flowers and candles on the 10th Street Bridge, from which Andi Woodhouse jumped to his death on December 13th.
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Saturday brought to Pittsburgh some of the most unpleasant weather yet this season, but a few dozen people braved the cold and rain to hold vigil for someone they had never met.

Andi Woodhouse, 24, jumped from the 10th Street Bridge to his death on December 13th. Organizers of Saturday’s vigil say he was mis-gendered in reports from the medical examiner’s office and various media outlets, which had referred to Woodhouse as a woman named Amber.

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Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Sun January 4, 2015

Biological Autism Diagnosis Could Be Within Reach

Psychiatric disorders, including autism, are diagnosed by behavior and through questionnaires. But new research out of Carnegie Mellon University, published in the journal PloS One indicate that a biological-based diagnosis might become a reality.

With technology the researchers are using, they can directly see when thoughts are altered and what is spurring that change.

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Clean Energy
3:30 am
Sat January 3, 2015

Report Recognizes Pennsylvania as Clean Energy Leader

Pennsylvania is becoming a nationwide leader in the clean energy industry.

That’s according to a new report released by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which highlights eight states that have demonstrated leadership in clean energy policies, installation and economies. The goal was to analyze states outside of those usually credited with clean energy advances such as California.

Jessica Lubetsky, Clean Energy Initiative officer, said the commonwealth has positioned itself to take advantage of what it already has – especially its manufacturing industry.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:26 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

How Pittsburgh’s New Leadership Performed in 2014

Credit Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

From a new mayor to a new Police Chief, the City of Pittsburgh saw sweeping change among its leadership. Chris Potter of the Post-Gazette talks about Bill Peduto ushering in a new era of transparency in city government and how the hiring of police chief Cameron McLay will impact community/police relations.

Peduto has some accomplishments to be proud of, Potter acknowledged, citing in particular the formation of a new public safety team, an accord with the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority and a sympathetic city council. With regard to the new police chief, Potter suggests that McLay has already demonstrated a new approach to policing in Pittsburgh.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:12 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

What Governor-elect Wolf Faces in 2015

Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Patriot News and Penn Live editorial and opinion page editor John Micek joins us to look back at a year that saw the election of a new governor in Pennsylvania.

When Democrat Tom Wolf takes over for Tom Corbett this month, he will face a host of challenges as he tackles an ambitious agenda.

Micek says that the election of Wolf was definitely the biggest political story of 2014 for the Commonwealth; the Democrat’s win broke with Pennsylvania’s longstanding “eight-year rule” by forestalling a second term for Tom Corbett. When Wolf takes office later this month, among his biggest challenges will be a statewide budget deficit of around 2 billion dollars.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:58 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Was 2014 as Tumultuous as 1968?

Credit Seth Anderson / Flickr

Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman says when it comes to 2014, we probably haven't experienced as much turmoil in a single year since 1968.

From the riots in Ferguson and the nationwide demonstrations in reaction to police violence inflicted on African Americans to the debate over gay rights in the U.S., the American landscape was filled with social upheaval.

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Government & Politics
11:16 am
Fri January 2, 2015

How PA's Deficit Relates to Your Cell Phone, Online Shopping and an Aging Population

Pennsylvania’s money problems go beyond its pension debt.

The commonwealth could face a $2 billion spending gap this year, a hole attributed to rising public sector pension costs and an over-reliance on one-time funding sources in the budget. But the state does have a revenue problem – or rather, several problems. Its tax policies aren’t keeping pace with demographic changes and new technologies, leaving the commonwealth with a shrinking tax base.

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Community
3:30 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Neighborhood Hopes for New Grocer as Bottom Dollar Prepares to Close

After pushing for a grocery store in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood for years, Bottom Dollar Food opened on Penn Avenue in June.

In November it was announced that another grocery chain, ALDI, Inc. had bought the low-cost food company for $15 million and would be closing the city's Bottom Dollar stores, including the six-month-old facility in Garfield. It is unclear whether another grocery store will open in its place.

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Transportation
3:30 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Turnpike Tolls Will Go Up Again in New Year

For the seventh consecutive year Pennsylvania turnpike tolls will increase on Jan. 4.

The 5 percent increase affects both EZPass users and cash payers, but the EZPass will still save customers about 35 percent. Right now a person traveling from Pittsburgh (Monroeville) to Breezewood pays $8.97 with an EZPass or $12.60 with cash, and these prices will rise to $9.42 and $13.23 respectively.

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Community
3:30 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Where to Start if Your New Year’s Resolution is Volunteering

With a new year comes a new set of resolutions. 

If volunteering is one of yours, Riley Baker, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program at Pittsburgh Cares, suggests you ask for help.

“I think that a lot of times it can be really hard to navigate the world of volunteerism, especially if you don’t really know a ton about the nonprofits that are out there,” he said.

Organizations such as Pittsburgh Cares try to play matchmaker between potential volunteers and nonprofits that need help.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:49 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

Friday Rundown: Looking Back and Looking Ahead, Politics in 2015

PA Governor Elect, Tom Wolf on primary election night.
Credit Tom Wolf / Flickr

These topics air Friday January 2, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. 

Today we look at the political events that shaped 2014 at the local and national level, and what they can mean for us in 2015.  

A Year of Change for Pittsburgh

From a new Mayor to a new Police Chief, the City of Pittsburgh saw sweeping change among its leadership. Chris Potter of the Post-Gazette joins us to talk about Bill Peduto ushering in a new era of transparency in city government and how the hiring of Police Chief Cameron McLay will impact community/police relations.

A New Governor in Pennsylvania

Patriot News and Penn Live Editorial and Opinion Page Editor, John Micek joins us to look back at a year that saw the election of a new governor in Pennsylvania. When Democrat Tom Wolf takes over for Tom Corbett this month, he will face a host of challenges as he tackles an ambitious agenda.

How 2014 Compares with 1968

Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman says when it comes to 2014, we probably haven't experienced as much turmoil in a single year since 1968. From the riots in Ferguson and the nationwide demonstrations in reaction to police violence inflicted on African Americans, to the debate over gay rights in the U.S., the American landscape was filled with social upheaval. 

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Government & Politics
12:10 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

For Redistricting Reformers, Plans Start Early

Would-be reformers are already coming together to try to reform how Pennsylvania's congressional and legislative district boundaries will be drawn seven years from now.

"Believe it or not, for the 2021, we're already starting to get a little bit late," said Barry Kauffman, head of Common Cause Pennsylvania.

New district lines were only recently put into effect for this decade, but it would take so long to reform the process that a bunch of advocacy groups are gearing up now to push for changes.

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Government & Politics
12:04 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

Local Pharmacies Prep for Prescription Drug Database

In an effort to cut down on prescription drug abuse, the state is working to put together the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program (ABC-MAP) oversight board by Jan. 25. Part of the law that created the board will also create a prescription drug database.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Thu January 1, 2015

Republican Patrick Stefano Prepares to Take Senate Seat

Newly elected lawmakers in Pennsylvania will be sworn in Jan. 6. In Senate District 32, which includes Somerset, Fayette and Westmoreland counties, political newbie Patrick Stefano is taking over long-serving Democrat Richard Kasunic’s  seat.

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Energy
3:30 am
Thu January 1, 2015

New Law to Make State-Owned Buildings More Energy Efficient

Pennsylvania state agency buildings will now act as the testing ground for new, environmentally beneficial and energy-efficient technologies.

House Bill 1672, known as the State Agency Green Technology Implementation Act, allows the Department of General Services to identify new energy-efficient technologies, products, or processes and implement them in state-owned buildings.

Rep. Tom Caltagirone (D-Berks) was a co-sponsor of the bill and an advocate for energy-efficient efforts in the commonwealth.

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Health
3:30 am
Thu January 1, 2015

To Make a Change in the New Year, Try Setting Goals, Not Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are often hard to stick with, and by February many forget about their resolution altogether. One of the most popular resolutions each year is to lose weight.

If you actually want to shed some of the weight added during the holidays, holistic health coach Emily Levenson suggests setting goals rather than resolutions.

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Health
3:21 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Improving Education in Pittsburgh by Combatting Obesity

When the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh recently asked community leaders to identify the biggest unmet needs for children the number one priority was prevention of childhood obesity.

It just so happens that Children’s Hospital has a weight and wellness center, and a partnership with the Pittsburgh Public school district was quickly formed.

“When we interacted with [district leaders] they asked that we partner with some type of program with established outcomes that would help us better monitor our success,” said Children’s Hospital Vice President Kathy Guatteri.

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Health
3:14 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Health Data Isn't Shared, Researchers Say

The more public health data is shared, the better the world’s public health outcome.

So says an analysis that was recently released by a team of researchers, including several from The University of Pittsburgh. The analysis was published in the journal BMC Public Health.

At present, public health data isn’t always shared on a local, national or international data. Researchers wanted to know why public health data isn’t shared as widely as for example genomic data is.

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Health
7:53 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Resolved to Quit Smoking in the New Year? Better Plan Ahead

If you’re planning to quit smoking in 2015, you’re not alone. After losing weight, it’s perhaps the most commonly made New Year’s resolution.

If you’re still smoke-free by June, you’re in much more select company.

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City Government
3:30 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Peduto Reflects on First Year in Office, Looks Ahead to 2015

With his first year as mayor of Pittsburgh coming to a close, Bill Peduto said the first term was exhausting, but satisfying. He said the job is everything he thought it would be and more, though said there are some surprising aspects, namely having to deal with personnel matters.

“You have 3,500 employees, a certain percent of them are going to have issues with the people they work with and those issues don’t get resolved as you’d think – well a lot of them do – through the directors of personnel, they actually work their way all the way up the food chain,” Peduto said.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:11 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Author Interviews in 2014: Elizabeth Gilbert Aims High in Her Return to Novel Writing

Credit Jennifer Schatten

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite author interviews from the year.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

Before Elizabeth Gilbert wrote her best-selling memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” she was known for novels about travel, adventure, and characters that defy convention. Elizabeth came to town for the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Monday Night Speaker Series in November to talk about her latest novel, “The Signature of All Things,” and her return to fictional storytelling.

After the success of “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Committed,” she talked about what prompted her to return to writing novels and this one in particular.

“It had been twelve years since I wrote a novel, and I think part of me was a bit afraid that maybe I’d forgotten how to do it, and I wanted to aim high. I felt like I kind of have nothing to lose, so I wanted to write the kind of novel that I love to read.”

Essential Pittsburgh
3:02 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

2014 Author Interviews: Jonathan Auxier Combines Dense Language with Childlike Sensibility

Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

    

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite author interviews from the year.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

The success of the Harry Potter books has proven that adults and children can enjoy the same literature. Pittsburgh based author Jonathan Auxier writes books for ages 8 to 14. He’s visited our show a number of times in the past year to review the work of other children’s book authors.

When Auxier first visited our studios back in February, he described his new book “Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes,” featuring a small blind orphan who happens to be the greatest thief who ever lived.

“The book is actually fairly dense on a word level. It’s got very complicated language structure. I was actually working out of a tradition of the eighteenth-century neoclassical writers like Samuel Johnson or Swift or people like that. But the story itself has a very childlike sensibility, and I love mixing that.”

Essential Pittsburgh
2:58 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Author Interviews in 2014: Thomas Sweterlitsch on His Pittsburgh-based Sci-fi Novel

Credit Eric Fuentecilla / Penguin Books

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite author interviews from the year.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow” is a science fiction novel set in Pittsburgh, or rather a full-scale computer simulation of Pittsburgh, created in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that has destroyed the city. The book came out this summer and received good early reviews.

By the time this segment aired, the movie rights had been optioned by Sony Pictures -- an auspicious start to the literary career of cyberpunk author Thomas Sweterlitsch, a long-time Pittsburgher.

Among other things, WESA Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson asked Thomas when he started writing stories.

“I started writing when I was seven -- that’s my earliest notebook I still have. I remember very clearly writing stories about G.I. Joe. I think I was obsessed with the movie “Red Dawn.” So, all my stories were G.I. Joe/”Red Dawn” mashups. So, it’s kind of fun for me to go back because my mom had saved all of these notebooks that I’d filled up over the years, and they were just full of little horror stories that I was writing when I was nine and ten years old.”

Essential Pittsburgh
2:46 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Author Interviews in 2014: Mark Schultz Tells the Real Story behind “Foxcatcher”

Credit Mark Schultz / http://www.markschultz.com/

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite author interviews from the year.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

In 1996 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Dave Schultz was shot to death by John du Pont on the Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania. What followed was sensational media coverage and a murder trial. Du Pont was found guilty and died in prison. A movie about these events, called “Foxcatcher,” was recently released in theaters. It’s based on a new book by Schultz’s brother and fellow gold medalist Mark Schultz.

We spoke with Mark Schultz in November about the true story behind his brother’s murder. Schultz explained to us that although he and his brother were Olympic medalists, they were still struggling to make ends meet, and that’s how they first got connected with millionaire philanthropist John Du Pont.

“He was the opposite of a coach; he was a bad example. We coached him! He was the biggest loser on earth, but he just inherited all of this money, and he was the only guy in the country willing to pay us to just compete. And with Title IV wiping out all the men’s wrestling programs, he was the only game in town.”

Government & Politics
12:49 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

First Fight of the New PA Legislature Could Come Jan. 6

Republicans in Harrisburg are still floating the idea of trying to take advantage of a quirk in the state constitution that separates the swearing in of the Legislature and the governor by more than two weeks. 

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