Barack Obama

University of Pittsburgh

The Confluence – where the news comes together -- is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host, Kevin Gavin. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region. This week we look at the New Frontier's Conference at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, job growth and state Senate hearings on charter schools.

Susan Walsh / AP

The National Department of Transportation announced Thursday that Pittsburgh had received an $11 million grant for advanced technology transportation projects. The announcement was made shortly before Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx joined Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto in a panel discussion during the White House Frontiers Conference at Carnegie Mellon University.

Feds Preview Rules Of The Road For Self-Driving Cars

Sep 20, 2016
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Obama administration officials are previewing long-awaited guidance that attempts to bring self-driving cars to the nation's roadways safely — without creating so many roadblocks that the technology can't make it to market quickly.

Donald Trump finally addressed whether he believes the current president was, indeed, born in the United States. "President Obama was born in the United States. Period," he said Friday morning.

A chaotic and tense scene unfolded just after Air Force One touched down in Hangzhou, China, where U.S. and global leaders are gathered to discuss the world economy, promote growth and curb carbon emissions.

Obama's customary exit from the plane came not from the usual door high on the fuselage, but instead from a lower portal. It seems there were no higher stairs available to roll up to the usual door.

Fifteen prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been transferred to the United Arab Emirates — the largest single release of the Obama administration.

The population of the military prison in Cuba is now down to 61.

In an implicit rebuke of Donald Trump, President Obama praised the nation's Gold Star families, saying those who've lost loved ones in military service are "a powerful reminder of the true strength of America."

"No one has given more for our freedom and our security than our Gold Star families," Obama said Monday, in a speech to the Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta. "Our Gold Star families have made a sacrifice that most of us cannot even begin to imagine."

Tonight President Obama will take the stage at the Democratic National Convention with one goal: convincing voters to elect Hillary Clinton as his successor.

The stakes are high for the newly minted nominee, but they are arguably even higher for the incumbent president. A Clinton win would mean his policy legacy is kept intact and there's validation of his tenure in the White House.

President Obama likes to say he has run his last campaign. But he's determined to give Hillary Clinton a running start toward her own November election, mindful that much of his legacy depends on her crossing the finish line into the White House.

"I'm ready to pass the baton," Obama told supporters at a joint rally with Clinton in Charlotte, N.C., earlier this month. "I know she can run that race: the race to create good jobs, and better schools, and safer streets, and a safer world."

President Obama says he agrees with Donald Trump on one thing: There are "parallels" between the U.S. election and the United Kingdom's dramatic vote to leave the European Union.

Keith Srakocic / AP

President Barack Obama’s major climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan, is currently in legal limbo as federal courts decide its fate.  

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Michael Watkins / AP


Gov. Tom Wolf is asking for federal disaster aid to help Pennsylvania cover costs from last month's massive snowstorm.

Wolf sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he declare a major disaster in Pennsylvania to reimburse 31 counties for storm costs.

He says municipal, county and state agencies spent more than $55 million to respond to the historic storm between Jan. 22 and Jan. 23.

Pennsylvania recently became the first state to launch a federal campaign to stop sexual assault on college campuses.

The national initiative was announced in 2014 by President Barack Obama with the goal of building a movement to address, respond to and ultimately prevent sexual violence. A local "On Us PA" launched in late January.

Why Some Big Businesses Are Backing The Clean Power Plan

Dec 1, 2015
Mike Mozart / Flickr

Big businesses often oppose increased government regulations. But the Clean Power Plan—the Obama administration's attempt to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants—is drawing backers in the big box business world.

“This is really not a political issue; it’s a strategic issue, it’s a business issue,” says Mark Buckley, Vice President of Environmental Affairs for Staples. “It’s really rooted in practical economics for us.”

J. Scott Applewhite / AP File Photo

Leaders and community members released a local “playbook” on Friday reflecting how Pittsburghers can best harness their collective efforts to meet President Barack Obama’s challenge to become a My Brother’s Keeper Community.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Months-long wait times between appointments, rampant Legionnaire’s contamination, controversy over data manipulation and other problems plaguing Pittsburgh’s veteran’s affairs office were an unfortunate norm nationwide, the department head said Tuesday.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

President Barack Obama on Tuesday called the Legionella-related deaths of six veterans at a Pittsburgh VA hospital a “tragedy.”

“Whenever there are any missteps, there is no excuse,” Obama told thousands of veterans at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

More than 100 Pittsburgh students toured the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in South Park on Friday to talk to experts about science, technology, engineering and math careers.

The lab was one of four in the country selected to host the event as part of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which challenges cities to focus on programming for at-risk youth.

What’s the Right Rhetoric for the State of the Union?

Jan 20, 2015
Blatant World / Flickr

Tonight at 9 p.m., President Barack Obama will deliver the State of the Union address to Congress, the Senate and the rest of the country. But his office has already put forth many plans for the year.

Before the president gives his address, we'll get some perspective on what he'll propose, from University of Pittsburgh presidential rhetoric and political communication professor Jerry Shuster.

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.

Would You Like to Buy an Ambassadorship?

Jan 6, 2015
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.

Call it a “prebuttal” — a chance for the state GOP to respond to President Barack Obama’s visit to Pennsylvania before it happens.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf is scheduled to appear with Obama in Philadelphia at a rally on Sunday, and Republicans are treating it as an opportunity to make some of the president’s low poll numbers stick to Wolf.

Most polls show Wolf has a wide lead over Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, but indicate the president is far less popular.  

Can The House Sue President Obama?

Aug 6, 2014

As Speaker of the House John Boehner moves forward with an unprecedented lawsuit against President Obama, we checked in with University of Pittsburgh Professor of Law David Harris to explain what’s going on.

“This is the first time ... that the House of the Senate has actively moved to sue the president," Harris said. "There’s been nothing like that before.”

He added that although anybody in the United States can sue anybody else, he does not believe this to be a legitimate legal action.

“The major impediment to this suit going forward is what we call ‘standing to sue,’" Harris said. "In federal court, which is where the suit will be, the Constitution requires what they call a ‘case or controversy.’ What that provision has been interpreted to mean over the many years and decades is that the person suing actually has to have a personal stake in the outcome, in the sense that they will be harmed, they will be personally affected."

American manufacturing was the focus of President Obama’s visit to Pittsburgh Tuesday.

The president stopped at TechShop in Bakery Square, a facility that allows start-up businesses, tinkerers and hobbyists to use high-end instruments they may not otherwise have access to. Obama said part of continuing the manufacturing boom in the country will be finding ways to make resources of the federal government more available to the general public.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited the Community College of Allegheny County's West Hills Center campus in Oakdale Wednesday to announce system-wide reforms of federal job training programs.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Community College of Allegheny County’s mechatronics program trains students to work in high-tech manufacturing jobs, and President Barack Obama said Wednesday it’s the kind of program that should be available nationwide.

“What we want to do is we want to replicate your model across the country,” Obama said. “You’re doing something right that is making a difference in people’s lives, and we want to spread the word.”

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were at CCAC’s West Hills Center campus in Oakdale to announce system-wide reforms of federal job training programs.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were at the Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center campus in Oakdale Wednesday to unveil the administration’s new job training initiatives.

Obama called CCAC’s mechatronics program an outstanding model of job-driven training that he wants to see replicated across the country.

The program trains workers for high-tech manufacturing jobs in as little as six months.

The president and vice president will be in western Pennsylvania on Wednesday to talk about job training.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are scheduled to speak at the Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center in Oakdale on "jobs-driven skills training in a 21st century economy."

The visit was originally scheduled to be held at Leetsdale about 15 miles away, but officials said the community college could better accommodate the event.

President Barack Obama has offered his sympathy and gratitude to the principal of a Pennsylvania school where a teenager stabbed 22 people.

The White House says Obama called Principal Ron Suvak of Franklin Regional High School on Thursday as the president flew home from a two-day trip to Texas.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says Obama offered his deepest sympathies to those affected. He says Obama talked about the heroism of students, teachers and staff whose actions saved lives.