WESA Local News

RMU application for Green Star Awards.
Robert Morris University

Robert Morris University in Moon Township is being recognized for its beautiful and meticulous landscaping. In its first year submitting for the prize, RMU was awarded one of 23 Green Star Awards by the Professional Grounds Management Society.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Two green-winged macaws fly over the audience in the National Aviary's free-flight theater, then land on separate agility courses. A race ensues between the feathered siblings, Ben and Betsy, to see who can complete the system of ropes and pulleys first. Betsy wins this time, and the crowd goes wild.

This is one of a number of bird intelligence tests featured in "Bird Brains," the current interactive show at the Aviary.

This Thanksgiving, Put Everything On The Table

Nov 23, 2017
Loren Kerns / Flickr

Sometimes what’s on the holiday table isn’t nearly as exciting as the conversation, especially when it comes to hot topics like climate change. 

Why It's Hard To Know If Your Food Is GMO

Nov 23, 2017
Okanagan Specialty Fruits

Jean Halloran is director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union. That’s the policy and lobbying arm of Consumer Reports magazine — the people who test EVERYTHING, then tell you about it. Halloran’s been looking at GMOs with a critical eye, and Kara Holsopple spoke with her recently about them.

Kara Holsopple: How much of what’s sold to consumers in the produce aisle is actually GMO?

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Redevelopment of the 24 acres on which sits the now closed SCI Pittsburgh has not been put on hold while other developments proceed, according to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

“That’s just one parcel among many that are very valuable and very desirable in this region,” Fitzgerald said.

Jared Wickerham / AP

Thousands of police officers from around the country turned out to pay respects to a rookie Pennsylvania police officer who was fatally shot in a traffic stop last week.

HIPPONOTIZED / Flickr

For people with anxiety or depression, an online therapy can be similarly effective to seeing a mental health professional, according to researchers from the University of Pittsburgh. The cognitive behavioral therapy program (CBT), called "Beating the Blues," consists of eight one-hour video sessions that teach patients to overcome negative thoughts.

Chris Knight / AP

A Republican state lawmaker is expected to be released from a hospital, three days after suffering what's described as a moderate stroke.

The office of Pennsylvania state Rep. John McGinnis said he was hospitalized at UPMC Altoona on Saturday.

His spokesman said Tuesday he's in good spirits and doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

The 63-year-old McGinnis is a retired finance professor at Penn State Altoona.

He's serving in his third term in the state House of Representatives.

Laurel L. Russwurm / Flickr

A western Pennsylvania man who was found guilty of intentionally delaying traffic by riding his bike down the middle of the road is appealing his conviction on nine misdemeanor counts.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that 58-year-old David Smith of Hempfield Township was paroled Nov. 13 after being sentenced to time served. He spent about 20 months in jail as he contested cases dating back to 2012.

Matt Rourke / AP

The FBI has reason to believe U.S. Rep. Bob Brady unlawfully concealed a $90,000 payment made by his campaign to get an opponent to quit a 2012 primary race, according to court documents that confirm the Philadelphia Democrat is under investigation in a widening campaign finance probe.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Parents, side by side, held signs calling for Superintendent Toni Shute to resign.

“Give Shute the boot,” they chanted outside of a packed Oct. 9 Brooke County School District board meeting in Wellsburg, W.Va.

Hao Sun / University of Pittsburgh

A University of Pittsburgh researcher's work detecting the "health" of buildings has landed him a spot on Forbes' 30 Under 30 List in science.

Hao Sun, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt, has developed a method that could help detect structural problems in buildings after a damaging event such as an earthquake or a hurricane.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Teachers in Pennsylvania's capital city are asking for support after a series of violent altercations with students has led to multiple resignations.

The Harrisburg Education Association says at least 45 teachers have resigned since July and October. Association President Jody Barksdale says more have resigned since then.

Speaking at a school board meeting Monday evening, first-grade teacher Amanda Sheaffer says she has been hit and kicked by her students.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

In the late 1990s, Kristee Cammack was taking classes at Slippery Rock University. For one course, she had to write a paper on what she’d like to change in society. She decided to visit a homeless shelter.

Matt Rourke / AP

After a year of fights over how to pay for Pennsylvania’s claims system for jobless workers, lawmakers say they’re getting close to a bipartisan solution.

A standoff last year over financial mismanagement in the unemployment compensation program resulted in nearly 500 layoffs.

Some workers have since been brought back, but not all.

A new plan passed through the House Labor and Industry Committee on Monday would give the UC program $115.2 million, which would be gradually phased out over four years.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state House has passed a bill to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers kids from families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but can’t afford other insurance.

The routine bill became controversial this year, because the Senate included language that would have prohibited CHIP from covering transgender kids’ transition surgeries.

The House axed that provision; now the bill returns to the Senate, where lawmakers will have to decide whether to reauthorize CHIP without banning coverage of gender confirmation surgeries.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The 29-year-old accused of killing a New Kensington police officer last Friday has been charged with first degree murder of a law enforcement officer.

Sheila May-Stein / Twitter

Brandon Sears, 15, started playing soccer for Pittsburgh’s Obama Academy this fall. It didn’t take long for an opposing player to call him the n-word.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh-area robotics and 3-D printing companies displayed their designs as part of a preview of the Hazelwood Green’s Mill 19 facility.

The former steel mill will soon be the home to the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute, a public-private partnership between Carnegie Mellon University, community stakeholders and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Email Indicates Pennsylvania Election Chief Forced Out

Nov 20, 2017
Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania's former elections chief indicated in an email sent last month to Gov. Tom Wolf that he was forced out of his cabinet-level job, although he resigned.

The Associated Press on Monday obtained an Oct. 11 email from ex-Secretary of State Pedro Cortes in which he told Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that he could not understand why he was being pushed out.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has introduced legislation to City Council that would require companies contracting with the city to pay their full time employees at least $15 an hour.

Would This Bleeding Veggie Burger Get You To Skip The Meat?

Nov 20, 2017
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Few things have as big an impact on our environment as the food we eat. Agriculture accounts for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. And beef production, in particular, uses copious amounts of water, when compared with other foods. So, some environmentally conscious meat lovers have been working in the lab, to create a vegan burger that bleeds like beef, without all the downsides.

They’re serving these so-called Impossible Burgers at select restaurants around the country, so we went to check it out at Pittsburgh’s high end burger place, Burgatory, on the Waterfront.  

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The discussion around race in America has evolved over the past 20 years. That’s when the book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race was originally published. Now, author and researcher Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is out with an updated edition. 

An-Li Herring / WESA

Democrats have chosen former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon) to run in the March 13 special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District.

As women go through menopause they may express greater interest in trying new ways of being intimate with their partners as a way to adapt to changes in sexual function.

That's according to a new UPMC study, published online this month in the journal Menopause, which looked at 39 women ages 45 to 60, most of whom were heterosexual. During hour-long interviews with researchers, the women answered questions including, "How do you define satisfying sex?" or "What does 'sex' mean to you?"

Lars Ploughmann / flickr

 A Pennsylvania couple is suing the police and an insurance company because they say they were handcuffed for hours in a patrol car after their hibiscus plants were confused for marijuana.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is setting aside $1.8 million to assist low-income customers by replacing the private portions of their lead service lines.

Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate dropped in October to a new post-recession low, although the labor force, employment and payrolls all shrank during the month.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has a relatively concentrated downtown -- the distance between Firstside Park on the southern border and the David Lawrence Convention Center that hugs the Allegheny River is less than 1 mile.

Chris Ayers / 90.5 WESA

With a chill in the air and the holidays fast approaching, many people make plans to visit downtown Pittsburgh for Light up Night and other holiday festivities.

One of the highlights of the season is the traditional lighting of the official city Christmas tree outside the City County Building on Grant Street, downtown. But selecting the perfect tree is a long process that begins months earlier, during the warm days of summer.

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