Eleanor Klibanoff

You are in a foreign country. And things are certainly looking a bit foreign.

Do you sit or squat? Can you toss toilet paper down the bowl or hole?

Let the signs guide you.

That is, if you can understand them.

Doug Lansky, author of the Signspotting series of books, knows how toilet etiquette signs can be mysterious, misleading and hilarious. His books include all types of funny warning and advice signs, but the topic of toilets is especially popular.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

On the day before President Trump's inauguration, the outgoing Obama administration passed a last-minute directive banning the use of lead ammunition and fishing sinkers on federal land.

Recently, the deteriorating health of a bald eagle showed the effects of lead poisoning. Obama's regulation is intended to protect wildlife from exactly that.

But hunters are hoping Trump will soon overturn it.

Last week, an officer from the Pennsylvania Game Commission brought a bald eagle to the Carbon County Environmental Education Center in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

By 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, the ballroom at the 1863 Inn in Gettysburg was standing-room only. More than 300 people crowded in, paper numbers in hand, hoping to take home their own slice of history.

"With lot number one, we’re going to get the auction started here," Darren Dickensheets called the room to order before rolling on with his auctioneer's call. "President George Washington,  life-size wax figure, name plaque, six foot two [inches] tall."

Once the largest U.S. rail company, the Pennsylvania Railroad ceased operations nearly half a century ago. But volunteers are researching and protecting that history at the station in Lewiston, Pa.

Eleanor Klibanoff is a reporter for Keystone Crossroads, a statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities.

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads)

 After more than two years of contentious legal battles, Uber and Lyft may operate legally in Pennsylvania. On Monday, the Senate voted 47-1 to allow ride-hailing services to operate in the state — and to begin regulating them as their own transportation entity. Governor Tom Wolf plans to sign the legislation. 

Keystone College

 

Keystone College is a small liberal arts school in a rural area outside of the city of Scranton. No part of that preceding sentence screams "high earning potential."

But for graduates of Keystone College, salary might not be the most important consideration when getting a job after graduation. Many students want to go into the non-profit world, become teachers or pursue careers in the arts. Others want to stay close to family in Northeastern Pennsylvania, even if it means taking a lower-paying job. 

But wait, there's loans

The U.S Advisory Council on Human Trafficking issued its first-ever report on Tuesday. This group was founded last year when President Obama appointed 11 people, all of whom are survivors of human trafficking themselves, to run the council.

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti hard, devastating the southern end of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

It's hard to look at the photos coming out of Haiti and not be moved to action. But if you're thinking now is the time to hop on a plane and get involved in disaster relief work, groups working on the ground have one piece of advice: pump the brakes.

Google Maps

 

Usually, inadequate representation lawsuits go like this: your lawyer does a bad job defending your case, you're found guilty, and then you seek a new trial on the grounds of insufficient counsel. It's a single response to a single instance of misrepresentation. 

But what if a public defender system is so chronically underfunded and understaffed that criminal defendants know going into their case that they won't be able to get a proper defense? Must they wait, individually, for their case to be tried and then hope for some sort of relief? 

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

In Pennsylvania, seven out of 10 workers don't have a college degree. That's a demographic that has been particularly hard hit by unemployment and wage declines since the 1980s. 

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Look around any Rust Belt city and you can see the effects of urban decay. There's aging infrastructure, blighted buildings and abandoned homes. Even as cities begin to see a resurgence, it can be hard to shake the physical legacy of decades of decline.

But if you think post-industrial decay is hard to overcome, try something even more traumatic, like a dictatorship or, say, World War II. Some European cities have found a way to revive public spaces and re-engage the community in civic life, all while remediating the physical toll left by history.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

On a Friday night in Altoona, the Blair County Convention Center was packed to the rafters with supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. There was an overflow room downstairs and a crowd waiting outside that couldn't get in. Trump discussed everything from ISIS to Supreme Court justices. 

Each day, 520 trucks with more than 7,000 tons of garbage trundle through the potholed streets of Dunmore and Throop, Pa. The two small towns, just outside Scranton, are home to the Keystone Sanitary Landfill. The trash, however, comes from all over — just about half arrives from out of state.

Keystone Sanitary recently requested a 40-plus-year extension of its permit, which is slated for another eight years, but local activists are pushing back.

Glenn Koehler / NMIH

 

Visitors to the new National Museum of Industrial History, open today in Bethlehem, will be engaging with history before they even set foot inside the museum. It's built on the nation's largest privately-owned brownfield site, in what was Bethlehem Steel's electric repair shop.

Pennsylvania Cities Respond To Orlando Shooting

Jun 14, 2016
Branden Eastwood / NewsWorks

 

Early Sunday morning, a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fl. Omar Mateen killed 49 clubgoers and injured at least as many in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Mateen was killed at the scene after a prolonged hostage situation.

There were tributes offered across the country, from the White House to the Tony Awards. Over 1,000 miles north of Orlando, Pennsylvania residents reacted to the news with vigils, fundraisers and security concerns.

The parade must go on

Gene J. Puskar / AP

All taxpayers in Pennsylvania pay for the state police, and the state police serves all taxpayers. It just serves some taxpayers a bit more.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police, 1,287 of the 2,561 municipalities in Pennsylvania have no local police force. 

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

If you had $50,000 to improve your community, what would you do? Would you invest in infrastructure, build a park or fund a non-profit organization? Or might you try something a little more creative?

The Knight Cities Challenge pushes urban thinkers to do just that: think creatively about how to engage their community. There are 26 Knight Cities around the country, including Philadelphia and State College, and anyone in those cities can submit a project to the challenge. The winners, announced Tuesday, get a portion of $5 million.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

 

Surrounded by state health officials and fellow lawmakers, Senator Vincent Hughes said, "The only thing good that came out of the lead crisis in Flint, Mich., is a renewed, intense effort from states around the country to attempt to address what's going on with lead in their respective communities."

Babar760 / Bigstock.com

  When David Rosner was a kid, he'd go into his grandfather's garage and mix up cans of paint. 

"I can still remember just sticking a stick in to mix it up and hitting halfway down a solid mass of hard stuff," said Rosner. "That was lead." 

Emma Lee / WHYY

 

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay can't be with all of his officers, all the time. While they're driving their beat, responding to calls and policing the city, they're on their own. Negative reports, either by the officers or about the officers, are often he-said, she-said cases.

But that could be changing. Pittsburgh is one of five cities in Pennsylvania that received federal Department of Justice funding to outfit their officers with body cameras. The small cameras, worn on the officer's uniform, record interactions between police officers and the community.

Josh James / WUKY

 

A few weeks ago, we published a story about  Pennsylvania cities trying to recruit bilingual police officers. 

Although the Latino population is growing quickly in many cities, making up 40 to 60 percent of the population in some cases, police departments trying to hire Spanish-speaking officers are facing challenges. 

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

Loan payments and credit downgrades mean that the state's community colleges won't recover right away.

Some of the upsides of a community college — lower tuition, shorter programs, local funding contributions — have quickly become challenges during the budget impasse. Pennsylvania's 14 community colleges have been hurt by the six month delay, and may continue to feel the pinch even though state funds have been released.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

From the back of Barry Grossman's house, you get a panoramic view of Lake Erie: miles and miles of uninterrupted lake, anchored on one side by the popular Presque Isle State Park. And in the distance, a large ship making its way slowly across the lake. 

"Last two days, I've seen four major lake liners go by," said Grossman, the former Erie County executive. "Usually you don't see them this time of year."

Grossman hopes that means industry is starting to pick up around the lake again. But he worries Erie's workforce won't be ready for a big turnaround.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

It's the first thing in the morning, which means Ramona DiMassimo has already claimed her spot at one of the desks in the computer room of her apartment building. She says having Internet access down the hall from her apartment has been "habit forming."

Hazleton, Pa., was just another struggling coal city until a wave of Latino immigrants came to town in 2006. It was a dark time: A wave of violent crime swept across the city. People were afraid to walk around downtown.

Some of those crimes were committed by immigrants in the U.S. illegally, leading to an unprecedented crackdown on the Latino community. Then-Mayor Lou Barletta tried to bar the door.

"We want people to know that Hazleton is probably the strictest city in the United States for illegal aliens," he said at the time.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennslvania

The Marcellus Shale runs under 60 percent of Pennsylvania. But the areas where drilling takes place feel the economic effects more than most. On Thursday, those counties received $8.1 million in state funding to support 44 local projects that address housing availability, community development and rental assistance.

Keystone Crossroads

Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania is hundreds of miles from the boardwalk and the beach, but mere steps from the Susquehanna River. And while no one has made a reality show about this sleepy town yet, they do share one similarity with their namesake: flooding.

She fights for the rights of women by telling stories about heroic men.

"The struggle to end violence against women has always been carried out by women activists," says Samar Minallah Khan, who makes documentaries about gender-based violence in her native Pakistan.

Maya Weinstein is now a happy, bubbly junior at the George Washington University. But she says that two years ago, just a few weeks after she arrived on campus as a freshman, she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student.

"It was one of those 'acquaintance rape' things that people forget about, even though they are way more common," she says.

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