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The commonwealth needs more investment to ensure children have access to high-quality preschool and child care programs according to a report by the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC).

The PPC releases the School Readiness report each year analyzing the commonwealth’s access to high-quality early learning programs.

Flickr User, Creative Commons

With blood loss as the leading cause of death in trauma victims, blood transfusions are a vital part of emergency medicine.

For more than 20 years, MedEvac helicopter teams at UPMC have given trauma patients transfusions before reaching the hospital, but the life–saving effects of this procedure have not been confirmed until now.

Essential Pittsburgh: Staving Off the Winter Blues

Feb 23, 2015
Hman2 / Flickr

Today's topics: a review of the recent Pennsylvania Democratic Leadership meeting, a new surgical adhesive created by a Pittsburgh company and tips on dealing with the winter blues.

How to Beat the Winter Blues (30:55)

Have the bone chilling temperatures been bringing you down and keeping you indoors? Are you eating too much comfort food and binge watching Netflix to help you deal with the winter? Point Park University Humanities and Human Sciences professor, Brent Robbins offers tips to help combat the winter blues and some actual benefits:

“ Winter season is much more of a melancholy period of time where people sort of get self-reflective and turn more inward…they're not active and out in the streets so much. But along with that, comes I think an opportunity to self-reflect, to think about what we want to accomplish, what we have accomplished so far, changes and goals."

Courtesy The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon

Hundreds of students are spending this weekend dancing inside Penn State University’s Bryce Jordan Center, the culmination of a year-long, multi-million dollar fundraising effort.

The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, THON for short, is an annual 46-hour dance marathon meant to give “kids and their families the opportunity to forget about their cancer diagnosis.”

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Carnegie Mellon University are joining forces to celebrate the humanities in March.

Smart Talk about Stuff that Matters is a humanities festival with a broad definition of humanities—knowledge of humankind and its works. The event will include speakers presenting ideas on everything from art, literature, and music, to science, and politics. 

The University of Pittsburgh and UPMC have signed an agreement to streamline the commercialization of medical research technologies and techniques.

The arrangement skips the negotiation process by pre-setting the terms of licensing, royalties and new company equity, allowing technology to get out of the lab and into the hospital between 60 and 90 days sooner, according to Marc Malandro, director of Pitt’s Innovation Institute.

This Saturday, Carnegie Library in Oakland will be filled with groups of people hunched over tables “frowning” at their laptops and working to build web applications for the 2015 Steel City Codefest.

That’s according to Toby Greenwalt, director of digital strategy and technology integration at the library, who said the coders will be there all day and night.

National Institutes of Health / Flickr

Vaccines have garnered lots of national attention lately, due largely to a measles outbreak tied to Disneyland and an Illinois day care center.

In particular, more attention is being paid to anti-vaccination groups, those opposed to vaccines for reasons that are not religious or medical in nature.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

A duplex on a residential street in Brentwood will now be a rotating home for homeless male veterans with children.

It’s Project Journey for Men’s first shelter, and it's emergency housing is for veterans in transition. The housing comes fully furnished. The men will receive assistance in getting benefits and getting a job and then 60-90 days later they will move out.

Testy Over Testing: More Students Snub Standardized Exams

Feb 20, 2015
Flickr user Alberto G. / via Creative Commons

When it comes to standardized tests, parents across the country are (a) concerned; (b) demanding change; (c) pulling tens of thousands of children out of the exams; or (d) making themselves heard at the top levels of government.

Answer: all of the above.

The backlash is kicking into high gear this spring as millions of students start taking new, more rigorous exams aligned with Common Core standards. Officials say the high-stakes assessments are crucial to evaluating student progress and competitiveness.

Brian Primack, a physician and researcher at The University of Pittsburgh, is the lead author on a content analysis published Friday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

According to the analysis, the 70 most popular videos that depict drunkenness on YouTube have more than 330 million views.

Primack and fellow researchers searched YouTube for words synonymous with alcohol intoxication: drunk, buzzed, hammered, tipsy and trashed.

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Poison Center is located about halfway up “Cardiac Hill” within the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center complex. It’s an unassuming place: a reception desk, a few offices, a conference room and a call center.

Essential Pittsburgh: The Steel City's Role in Cyber Defense

Feb 20, 2015
Faruk Ates / Flickr

Today's topics include cyber security, a cross country fundraiser for Haiti, and the Pittsburgh connection to the Oscars.

Cyber Security

How devastating could a cyber 9/11 be? Tribune Review reporter Andrew Conte shares the results of his recent investigation into the vulnerability of the nation’s infrastructure to cyber attacks. 

Andrew gives his thoughts on what the government and corporations can do to maintain security in the cyber world:

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As Pittsburgh deals with single-digit temperatures and subzero wind chills, some organizations are looking out for the city’s most vulnerable — the homeless.

There are several warming centers open throughout the city, including the Greenfield Senior Center and the South Side Market house Senior Center. There are also numerous churches and shelters offering a respite from the cold.

Gov. Tom Wolf is holding off on a search for a permanent director of the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records while a state court considers whether he had legal authority to fire the last one.

Wolf's lawyers said in court filings this week, ahead of a Commonwealth Court hearing next month, that he has delayed the national search "out of respect for the expedited judicial process."

Another new filing, by the Office of Open Records, argues the court should remove it from the case brought by Erik Arneson and the state Senate Republican caucus against Wolf.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A task force charged with examining and recommending changes for Pittsburgh Public Schools has released its report after a year of work. It focuses on five areas: public safety, out-of-school-time programming, community schools, school funding and marking the city’s schools.

The University of Pittsburgh has debuted a new crowdfunding site where people can make gifts to specific projects and campaigns.

Through EngagePitt, donors can fund a medical musical the fourth-year students at the Medical School are putting on, or if they want to give to the Pitt Men’s Glee Club, that too is an option.

AP Photo/Office of the Governor of West Virginia, Steve Wayne Rotsch

Speed doesn't appear to have been a factor in an oil train derailment in southern West Virginia, a federal transportation official said Thursday.

The CSX train was going 33 mph at the time of Monday's crash in the town of Mount Carbon.

AP Photo/Chris Tilley

Topics on today's Essential Pittsburgh include the West Virginia train derailment, and ski resorts near and far  

Oil Train Safety   

An oil tanker derailment and fire in West Virginia is raising questions about the apparent failure of safer tank cars to prevent an explosion. 

Dave Mistich, Digital Editor/Coordinator for West Virginia Public Broadcasting offers an update on how residents have been effected by the derailment,

Left-Leaning Groups Offer Tax Policy Suggestions

Feb 19, 2015
Courtesy Photo/ Better Choices for Pennsylvania

The Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition released a set of 19 tax recommendations Wednesday aimed at making the state’s tax system “fairer,” according to Mike Wood, Research Director of the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a member organization of the coalition.

Six Documentaries Featuring Pennsylvania Cities You Can Stream Online

Feb 19, 2015
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

As a winter cold front settles in over most of Pennsylvania and the eastern U.S., you may find yourself surfing your Netflix queue for something to escape the deep freeze and cabin fever.

May we suggest a few “home grown” documentaries worth watching that you can easily steam online? 

Shivering in your boots, hats, scarves and mittens? We are too. Luckily, there are a bunch of events happening around town this weekend (and even next Tuesday!) to keep us entertained and warm. 

Kids in the Pittsburgh area have a chance to learn game design skills, and then compete nationally.

On Saturday National STEM Video Game Challenge is hosting a hands-on workshop with game industry professionals at The Ellis School to teach youth how to design video games.

State Senators Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) and Randy Vulakovich (R–Allegheny) are calling on Pennsylvania business owners to help house homeless veterans.

The senators are reintroducing legislation to amend the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program (NAP), which provides a tax credit to businesses in exchange for monetary contributions to neighborhood-based housing and community improvement initiatives.

The tax credit is worth between 55 and 80 percent of the business’s contribution.

The continuing effort of Duquesne University adjunct professors to form a union got another boost this week.

The National Labor Relations Board denied Duquesne’s appeal opposing the effort; the university had asked for a religious exemption. But a similar case at Pacific Lutheran University set new criteria for qualifying as a religious institution.

United Steelworkers Organizer and Adjunct Professor at Duquesne, Robin Sowards, said the school doesn’t qualify, in part, because many professors don’t teach religious content.

Flickr user JulianBleecker

The U.S. Conference of Mayors has predicted that Pittsburgh will add more than 18,000 jobs in 2015, and according to a new report from the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, those jobs are likely to either be high-paying or low-paying.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Last Friday, Governor Tom Wolf announced a hold on all executions in Pennsylvania, due to ongoing questions about the effectiveness of capital punishment.

While the death penalty is on hold, State Senator Daylin Leach is taking steps to repeal the practice in PA altogether.

Rob McCord website

Former Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord pleaded guilty Tuesday to two federal counts of attempted extortion, admitting that he tried to use the position of his office to strong-arm state contractors into donating money to his failed gubernatorial campaign.

WESA's Capitol correspondent Mary Wilson joins us to discuss McCord's steep and fast fall from public office.

August Wilson Documentary Debuts

Feb 18, 2015
The Huntington / Flickr

 

We talked with the producers of a new documentary nearly ten years in the making; "August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand" which focuses on the Pittsburgh born playwright and his ten plays over twenty years covering a one-century cycle of American history.

Our guests are Executive Producer Darryl Ford Williams and Deesha Philyaw, manager of the August Wilson Education Project.

Homeless Shelters Struggle With Frigid Weather

Feb 18, 2015

“We’re all stretched to the max at this point and we’re just trying to get through it,” said Stephanie Chiappini, program manager for Allegheny County's severe weather homeless shelters.

The shelters, one for men in downtown Pittsburgh and one for women in Uptown, open when temperatures fall below 25 degrees.

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