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News

Jessica Griffin / Philadelphia Inquirer, via AP Pool

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.

The sentencing of former Attorney General Kathleen Kane on felony perjury charges leads our look at this week’s news stories. Also on the program, a wrap-up of the legislative session in Harrisburg and we’ll discover why Pittsburgh lags behind the state and nation on some important economic indicators.

Matt Rourke
AP

On Election Day, Pennsylvania voters will decide whether the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court Justices in Pennsylvania should be increased from 70 to 75. 

The judicial reform group Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is staying out of the debate, which has often been contentious. 90.5 WESA's Josh Raulerson spoke with PMC's Maida Milone to unpack the key issues and their political implications.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Pittsburgh campaigning for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday while rocker Jon Bon Jovi will play a concert supporting the Democratic presidential nominee on Thursday.

Biden is scheduled to speak at Chatham University at 11:30 a.m. for what's billed as a Get Out The Vote event.

Bon Jovi's concert at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum is also billed as a Get Out The Vote event. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. though a start time has not been announced on the link where people can get tickets.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 

In 2014, three roommates in New Paltz, New York discovered that their $20 thrift store couch wasn’t lumpy with age, but envelopes stuffed with cash. More specifically, the life savings of a widow whose husband wanted to be sure she was taken care of when he was gone. 

Abortion Gets Heavy Attention In Pennsylvania Senate Race

Oct 23, 2016
Margaret J. Krauss

The battle to persuade swing voters in Pennsylvania's close U.S. Senate race includes a heavy emphasis on abortion rights.

This week it's bringing the presidents of Planned Parenthood and NARAL to moderate southeastern Pennsylvania to campaign for Democrat Katie McGinty.

McGinty supports abortion rights, and her allies have spent millions on TV ads attacking Republican incumbent Pat Toomey's record. Toomey opposes abortion rights, with exceptions for rape, incest and saving the life of the mother.

He's also voted to halt federal payments to Planned Parenthood.

Emma Lee / WHYY

 

Some people go out for dinner and a movie.

But for Heather Huff and her fiancé, Friday nights are for paying the bills.

PA Dept. of Labor and Industry

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.7 percent in September.

The state Labor and Industry Department said Friday that total nonfarm jobs declined 5,300 for the month.

The agency says jobs were down in seven of 11 categories.

The education and health services sector, and the government sector, each lost 6,400.

But state officials say two sectors reached record high employment levels — professional and business services with a gain of 6,700 jobs, and leisure and hospitality with 4,800.

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

Joshua Franzos / The Heinz Endowments

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.

We’ll discuss the faculty strike at Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities. Also, we’ll discover what ideas were suggested to improve the quality of life for Pittsburghers at the P4 Conference. From a White House-driven police initiative to the release of a crime report we’ll take a look at police issues.

Matt Rourke / AP

The former attorney general of Pennsylvania says she's been "humbled and embarrassed" by her perjury conviction and hopes to avoid jail time so she can raise her children.

Kathleen Kane is being sentenced Monday for leaking grand jury documents and lying about it under oath.

Defense lawyers say in court papers Tuesday that the fall from grace has been painful for Kane.

Prosecutors say the first-term Democrat disgraced the office by plotting revenge on rivals and blaming others for the leak.

Jared Wickerham / AP Photo

On Monday afternoon, candidates in the Pennsylvania race for U.S. Senate taped the first of two debates at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh. The outcome of the election could determine whether Republicans maintain the Senate majority.

Katie McGinty and incumbent Senator Pat Toomey attacked each other on state and national issues, including gun control, coal and steel jobs, and Obamacare.

In a charged exchange, they argued over who supported police more, both stating they'd received support from police unions and organizations.

Millersville University

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and its faculty union have agreed to a media blackout while they try to negotiate a contract before Wednesday's strike deadline.

The state system and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties jointly announced the blackout on Saturday.

Both sides say they're hopeful that minimizing distractions will help them reach a new deal.

The union says about 5,500 faculty and coaches at 14 state-owned universities will strike Wednesday at 5 a.m. if they don't reach a deal.

Lawyer: Penn State Not To Blame For Ex-Coach Not Getting Job

Oct 17, 2016
Gene J. Puskar / AP

 

It's not Penn State's fault that a former assistant football coach who reported Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a boy 15 years ago can't find a new coaching job, a lawyer for the university said Monday.

Nancy Conrad said during opening statements in Mike McQueary's defamation and whistleblower lawsuit that because he spent his entire career at Penn State, he hasn't developed the network of contacts needed to find a new position.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Chelsea Clinton campaigned for her mother, Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in downtown Pittsburgh this morning. Clinton highlighted her mother’s devotion to women’s rights and family issues, saying she was someone who had been working for women and minorities for her entire career.

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.

Harry Cabluck / AP

The University of Pittsburgh's football team is enjoying another winning season so far. The Panthers are third in the last four years. But it wasn’t always this way for Pitt. The program had bottomed out in the early 1970s and the Panthers won just one game and lost 10 in 1972. That was the season before the arrival of legendary coach Johnny Majors who led a dramatic turnaround. By 1976, Pitt went undefeated and won the national championship.

Story Corps Mobile Recording Booth Arrives In Pittsburgh

Oct 13, 2016
Marcus Charleston / WESA

An aluminum Airstream trailer parked in front of the Senator John Heinz History Center on Thursday, where it will stay for the next month.

The trailer is the mobile recording booth used by the Story Corps radio project, which archives the conversations of everyday Americans. The conversations in which two people interview one another take place over the course of an hour.

Sam Howzit / Flickr

 A Pittsburgh suburb wracked by a shooting at its major indoor shopping mall and other violent incidents now has new surveillance cameras in place.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. and the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce announced the move Wednesday.

Chamber of Commerce President Sean Logan said the new cameras are aimed at catching criminals and deterring others. 

Former Exec Gets Probation, $5K Fine Over Imitation Cheese

Oct 11, 2016
Maggie Hoffman / Flickr

A former executive will spend three years on probation and pay a $5,000 fine because two Pennsylvania cheese businesses her family controlled sold grated Swiss and mozzarella cheeses that were mislabeled and represented as parmesan and romano.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh sentenced 44-year-old Michelle Myrter on Tuesday.

Although U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspection reports and consumer lawsuits have raised questions about whether the cheeses also had too much cellulose — a filler made from wood pulp — that wasn't an issue in the criminal case.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Residents, developers and businesses curious about building permits they’ve submitted or the status of construction in their neighborhood can now access information directly from their phones or computers.

Chuck Szmurko / Wikipedia

Though Pittsburgh lost out on the $50 million Smart Cities grant, city officials are still participating in a project called MetroLab, under the same federal initiative.

The MetroLab network is a city-university partnership that’s part of the White House’s Smart Cities project, where schools serve as research and development arms.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Eight people waited expectantly in the basement of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Lawrenceville. They sat in pairs around a long table littered with construction paper and markers, Post-It notes and iPhones, waiting for Connor Sites-Bowen to start the speed dating clock.

“So go. Talk. You guys ask questions, you guys answer questions," Sites-Bowen said. 

Sue Ogrocki / AP

 

Chesapeake Energy, which is facing a royalty owners revolt here in Pennsylvania, will have to share more details of their accounting practices with the U.S. Department of Justice. The company revealed in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the Justice Department has subpoenaed records on the gas driller’s accounting methods for “the acquisition and classification of oil and gas properties and related matters.”

Katie Meyer / WITF

 

Faculty members from Pennsylvania's state university system are rallying over the continuing lack of a contract agreement.

The professors at the 14 state-owned schools have been without one for more than a year, and negotiations between the system and the union aren't going well.

A walkout is scheduled for Oct. 19, and many think it's looking like a very real possibility.

As hundreds of faculty members carried signs in front of state higher education headquarters in Harrisburg, several students also milled around.

istock

 

A state agency says it mistakenly cleared 28 people to work with children without noting their past.

The state Department of Human Services says it should have included incidents of abuse or neglect to the reports for the 28 people who pursued clearances through the state's Childline.

DHS blames its IT system for mistakes in eight of the cases, but says employees failed to note incidents in the other 20 cases.

The agency says it's made changes, is providing re-training for employees, and has hired a consultant to provide an independent review.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Bill Cosby's lawyers say his Pennsylvania sexual assault case followed "a perfect storm" of mistakes and misconduct by a federal judge, an ambitious prosecutor and a celebrity lawyer.

They argue in a filing Thursday that the 79-year-old Cosby can't properly defend the decade-old accusation when key witnesses have died and evidence has been lost.

Cosby is set for trial in June on charges he drugged and molested a Temple University employee in 2004. He calls their encounter consensual.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Diabetes cases are continuing to rise in the U.S. and according to the World Health Organization, the disease is projected to be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

 

Former President George W. Bush is in Philadelphia Friday to raise campaign money for Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

The event at the Union League in Center City includes a "VIP photo session" and a luncheon. It's closed to the media, as are many political fundraisers.

"He's going to raise a lot of money," said insurance executive and GOP fundraiser Manuel Stamatakis, a member of the host committee for the event. "I ask people for money all the time, but I've had people calling me, unsolicited, saying they want to contribute to Pat Toomey."

Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

When Steelers punter Jordan Berry was growing up in Melbourne, Australia, he didn’t follow American professional football and didn’t know there was such a thing as college football. But with his strong leg, developed playing Australian Rules football, he was offered an athletic scholarship by Eastern Kentucky University. He excelled there and was signed by the Steelers in 2015. 

Now, in his second season in Pittsburgh, Berry said the biggest adjustment to playing American football was learning how to be ready to come into the game cold.

CREDIT SAUL LOEB/JIM WATSON / GETTY IMAGES, VIA NPR

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’s topics include:

We'll look at the latest presidential race polls as well as Pennsylvania and Ohio's status as swing states in the election. We'll also have the latest on the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians strike. Later in the program we'll discuss some of the city's top news stories of the past week. 

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