WESA Local News

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

At least 49 genes contribute to whether one’s earlobes are attached or detached.

That's what researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found in a new study. Lead author John R. Shaffer says this work could help shed light on serious genetic syndromes.

"Some of these conditions, like an example is Mowat-Wilson syndrome, the ear involves earlobe malformations," said Shaffer. "In the same genes that affect normal variation in the morphology, when they're disrupted, they lead to genetic syndromes."

Lawyer: 'Voter-Proof' Pennsylvania Congressional Map Favors GOP

Dec 5, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

A lawyer for a group of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania told a federal court Monday that it should throw out the state's congressional district map favoring Republican candidates because it was created to be "voter-proof."

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

In September, a report from the state auditor general’s office declared Pennsylvania’s child welfare system “broken.”

Now, lawmakers have begun considering how to improve it. 

The first committee hearing on the report focused largely on how to keep qualified case workers on the job.

On average, those employees don’t make a huge salary. The audit showed the average entry level pay is just over $30,000 per year.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said that might be why some counties see up to half of their case workers quit within in a year.

Matt Rourke / AP

A bill narrowing the window to get an abortion in Pennsylvania could be on a fast track to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk sometime soon.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh will soon offer child care for city employees on days when Pittsburgh Public Schools are closed but city offices remain open.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

In a pilot program launching next spring, Uber is offering 100 Pittsburgh-area drivers a $500 incentive to go toward classes, fees and textbooks for the Community College of Allegheny County.

The initiative will take place in next year's spring and summer semesters.

In a press release, CCAC said the greatest barrier for many potential students is the price of textbooks and required fees, and the new program would address those needs.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A nearly 80-year-old public housing complex in the Hill District is in the running for millions of dollars of federal redevelopment funds as the community nears the end of a two-year planning process.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Two women have chained themselves to the doors of a downtown Pittsburgh building that houses U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's office to protest the Senate's tax bill.

They tell the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette they have a host of objections to the Senate Republicans' passing of their $1.5 trillion tax bill early Saturday.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Former Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders tells a Pennsylvania audience that America is drifting toward "oligarchy."

Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, came to Reading on Sunday to address the $1.5 trillion GOP tax overhaul.

The Senate voted Saturday to advance the legislation.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Amy Kline moved to Carrick eight years ago, and soon after, she became acquainted with Phillips Park. Kline sent her daughter to the park’s after-school recreation center, where kids play games, work on arts and crafts and play basketball.

But Kline noticed that some parts of the park were habitually underused. She said the long, sloping green space and the 18-hole disc golf course usually sits empty, and the park’s in need of new lighting and paving.

PA Sets New Guidelines In Prescribing Opioids To Kids

Dec 4, 2017
Emma Lee/WHYY

Pennsylvania’s top health official visited the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Friday to introduce new guidelines for prescribing painkillers to kids. It’s one of the state’s most recent efforts to address the growing opioid epidemic.

Pennsylvania Case Takes New Approach To Redistricting Rules

Dec 4, 2017
Keystone Crossroads

Judges have been asked repeatedly to decide whether the lawmakers in charge of drawing congressional district lines have gone too far to favor their parties.

Carla K. Johnson / AP

 

A series of community discussions and an interactive website featuring the stories of the opioid crisis will launch in Pennsylvania next year as part of a campaign to reduce the stigma associated with drug addiction.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Community College of Allegheny County is one local organization that plans to apply for a new state grant to fund apprenticeship programs.

Commission Seeks Fracking Ban In Watershed Supplying NYC

Dec 1, 2017
Julio Cortez / AP

A commission that oversees water quality for the watershed that supplies Philadelphia and half of New York City with drinking water took another step Thursday toward permanently banning natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, despite industry opposition.

WITF

In the wake of recent high-profile sexual harassment allegations coming to light, lawmakers in Pennsylvania are proposing to reform how state government handles allegations concerning legislators.

State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky (D-Delaware) plans to introduce a bill that would ban non-disclosure agreements and prohibit use of taxpayer money for settling claims in sexual harassment or assault cases that involve lawmakers.

Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

On the eastern border of Pennsylvania, north of the Philadelphia suburbs, a cluster of state Senate district appear — at first glance — to be arbitrarily drawn.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

In the 1970s, Pennsylvania had 300,000 volunteer firefighters, according to the State Fire Commissioner. That number has dropped to about 50,000, leaving some volunteer stations stretched thin and communities underserved.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s 2018 capital budget proposal does not include any funding for maintenance of the 1,400 vacant lots and 50 vacant structures owned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

'I Can't Just Step Away From My Grant': Scientists Grapple With EPA Head's Call To End Funding

Nov 30, 2017
Tim Evanson / Flickr

In October, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, ordered scientists who receive EPA grants to either end those grants or resign from EPA scientific advisory boards. But what about industry-backed scientists? He said they can stay.

Susan Walsh / AP

An outspoken county commissioner from northern Pennsylvania says he'll challenge U.S. Rep. Tom Marino in next year's Republican primary, citing Marino's role in writing a law that critics say weakened the government's authority to stop drug companies from distributing opioids.

Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko announced his candidacy Thursday and accused Marino of soliciting campaign contributions from drug companies and then sponsoring legislation that allowed them to flood communities with opioids.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

On a Tuesday night, the first floor of the Cathedral of Learning is brimming with students, their conversations bouncing off the high, arched ceilings. They sit on the ground, in more than a dozen small circles; at the center of each circle is a dog. 

Oliver, a golden retriever, lays on his side as he's pet by five or six people at once. Despite all the attention, Oliver is calm and quiet. That's because he, like every other dog here, is a therapy dog from the College Canines program at Humane Animal Rescue

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A Focus Features documentary dubbed “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” about the life and work of Fred Rogers is coming to the the big screen in June, officials announced Monday.

According to a release, the film will examine how Rogers navigated cultural and social issues in a forward-thinking way.

President and CEO of the Fred Rogers Company Paul Siefken said Rogers was a fascinating man on and off screen.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Multicultural Liaison Unit launched Wednesday to help bridge the cultural and communication gap between the Department of Public Safety and immigrant and refugee communities.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About two dozen graduate students chanted "kill the bill" outside the Cathedral of Learning on Wednesday. Many teach undergraduate classes or assist with research in exchange for waived tuition or a stipend. 

Google Maps

A local law firm decided to dig into PennDOT crash data to visualize the most dangerous intersections in Allegheny County. The study identifies 787 intersections that had five or more crashes from 2014 to 2016.

Dallas W. Hartman P.C. represents a lot of collision cases, and wanted to raise awareness about areas around the county where drivers are more likely to crash, said attorney Dallas Hartman.

Susan Walsh / AP

Democrats and some Republicans from the Philadelphia region are worried that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is trying to gut his agency from within.

The EPA has worked overtime to undo many Obama-era environmental regulations, while also scrubbing its website of any mention of “climate change.”

That’s triggered several red flags for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who said he and other Democrats warned the GOP not to tap Pruitt to lead the agency.

Chris Knight / AP

The field for the 2018 lieutenant governor election is filling up, with a number of Democrats jumping into the often-low-key race.

That could mean a tough battle for incumbent Mike Stack, who has struggled through public conflicts with fellow Democrat, Governor Tom Wolf.

State representative Madeleine Dean, who has served part of Montgomery County since 2012, is the latest entry to the race.

Matt Slocum / AP

There were fewer fatal crashes and more alcohol-related arrests on Pennsylvania's highways over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

State troopers investigated 981 crashes between Nov. 22 and Nov. 26. That's up from 931 during the holiday last year. Four of the crashes were fatal, down from six in 2016.

Police made 629 driving under the influence arrests compared to 610 last year. They say 85 of the 981 crashes were alcohol-related.

Police also issued nearly 16,000 speeding tickets.

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