News

Francis Calls Clergy Abuse Summit As Issue Imperils Papacy

Sep 12, 2018
Alessandra Tarantino / AP

Pope Francis summoned the presidents of the world's bishops' conferences Wednesday to a summit on preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children, responding to the greatest crisis of his papacy with the realization that Vatican inaction on the growing global scandal now threatens his legacy.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner says he'd sue the makers of prescription painkillers to recoup Pennsylvania's cost of dealing with opioid-related addiction.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Immigrants comprise 3.4 percent of the Pittsburgh region’s population but are collectively much more likely to be entrepreneurs than native-born Americans.

Speaker Calls Window For Sex Abuse Lawsuits 'A Compromise'

Sep 12, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

The Republican speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives says his chamber is poised to take up changes to the state's limits on child sexual abuse lawsuits, predicting a 2-year window to allow victims with older claims to sue would pass.

Speaker Mike Turzai on Wednesday called the 2-year window "a compromise" compared to a different proposal to entirely eliminate limits of lawsuits for victims of all ages.

Last month's sweeping grand jury report on child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church also recommended a 2-year window.

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Federal officials say two small earthquakes have occurred in eastern Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Geological Survey says a 1.9 magnitude quake occurred around 3:50 a.m. Wednesday near Shillington. A 1.7 magnitude quake was then recorded around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday in Mohnton.

No damage or injuries were reported in either quake.

Officials say earthquakes with a magnitude between 1.0 and 3.0 aren't typically felt by residents.

Jeff Chiu / AP

New research from Duquesne University finds when a patient requests a high dose prescription for a certain epilepsy medication, it could be a warning sign of illicit drug use.

Gerald Herbert / AP

State Rep. Dan Frankel and state Sen. Jay Costa, both Democrats from Allegheny County, are calling on their fellow lawmakers to pass bills that would close exemptions to the state's Clean Indoor Air Act. The law was passed 10 years ago and bans people from smoking tobacco in most esetablishments.

However, the law does not apply to some bars and casinos, and Frankel said it's time that changed.

"We've given the law a decade to work, and we know it does," Frankel said. "Now it deserves to work for absolutely everybody in Pennsylvania."

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania court is upholding a $1.1 million fine against natural gas exploration giant EQT Corp., saying there is substantial evidence that it recklessly violated environmental laws when a wastewater holding pond polluted streams and groundwater in 2012.

Monday's Commonwealth Court decision faulted EQT's construction of the pit at a Tioga County well site and its investigation into and response to the contamination, citing evidence the company "dragged its feet."

FirstEnergy

Energy Transfer Partners has shut down part of the Revolution Pipeline as officials investigate why a section of it exploded in a Beaver County residential neighborhood on Monday.

Barrels to Beethoven

The steelpan drum, an instrument made popular in the Caribbean, is the catalyst for a new youth music program in Wilkinsburg.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Lowell Friedline struck out on his own as a dairy farmer in 1988 when he started buying his farm in installments from his dad. By the time his father died, Friedline was nearly debt-free. It’s been part of his philosophy ever since: don’t buy what you don’t know how to pay for. But for small farms like the one he and his family work, the margins are slim.

U.S. Department of Justice

The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania is the top law enforcement officer for the region, prosecuting federal crimes ranging from national security to civil rights, from public corruption to narcotics.

The office takes its marching orders from the sitting President, so Trump appointee Scott Brady says he understood that attorneys hired during the Obama administration might feel some trepidation about his arrival.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Friends, family and fans gathered at Blue Slide Park in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood Tuesday evening to remember hometown rapper Mac Miller, who died Friday at age 26.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Bishop David Zubik asked clergy members in the Pittsburgh Diocese to participate in a Year of Repentance. The announcment came one month after a state grand jury report alleged widespread child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

Every year, the families and friends of those killed on Flight 93 gather near the spot where the United Airlines jetliner went down, and read the names of their lost loved ones.

Agreement Would Allow 2 W. Va. Justices To Keep Seats

Sep 11, 2018
Steve Helber / AP

Two of four impeached justices on the West Virginia Supreme Court would be allowed to retain their seats on the bench after they reached a proposed agreement to be censured by the state Senate.

The agreement announced at the start of a pre-trial process Tuesday involves justices Beth Walker and Margaret Workman and was made with House of Delegates managers serving as prosecutors in upcoming impeachment trials. It would publicly censure and dismiss impeachment articles against them.

UPMC

Doctors often ask patients to rank their pain on a scale of one to 10, and responses inform prescriptions, diagnoses and help physicians monitor progress. But University of Pittsburgh assistant professor Charles Jonassaint says this isn't a very effective way for doctors and patients to communicate, because there are different types of pain and not everyone has the same tolerance for pain.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

In court Tuesday morning, East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld’s lawyer said he may file motions to seek a jury outside of Allegheny County and to have the judge hearing the case removed.

Zach Gibson/AP, Bastiaan Slabbers/WHYY

When I met U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick at his Capitol Hill office, I was surprised when the former FBI agent said we had to turn around and go do the interview outside.

Once we settled on a spot, his aide was then surprised that Fitzpatrick sent him away. But his office is a congressional office and his aide is an official aide and Fitzpatrick says he doesn’t want to blur the line between his campaign and official duties. His aide finally caught on as the congressman sent him back inside.

“I’m a former FBI agent,” Fitzpatrick said. “We do things by the book.”

Trump At Flight 93 Memorial: Nation Recalls When 'America Fought Back'

Sep 11, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, are at a memorial in Pennsylvania for those killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and have walked to an overlook to see the field where Flight 93 crashed to the ground.

Keith Srakocic / AP

On Sept. 11, 2001, four planes crashed: two in New York City, one outside Washington D.C., and one in a remote Pennsylvania field.

That last plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was diverted from its likely target by its passengers and crew. All 40 were killed.

Now their loved ones have dedicated the final piece of a memorial commemorating them: the Tower of Voices.

The newest and last feature of the Flight 93 National Memorial is 93 feet tall, and designed to hold 40 massive wind chimes.

Bringing The Forest Back After Shale Gas

Sep 11, 2018
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

In a clearing deep in Tiadaghton State Forest, Kelly Sitch stops to look at a clump of wild bergamot, a native plant whose light purple flowers resemble pom-poms.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


The 40th Street Bridge connecting Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood with the borough of Millvale is unlike the rest of the city’s more than 460 bridges.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Planning Commission presented their option for a 178-acre development in Hazelwood last month. At the time, project manager Rebecca Flora called the idea "transformative," but as the neighborhood moves forward, who might be left behind?

Jamil's Global Village

Pittsburgh’s Muslim community is mourning the loss of one of its leaders. Jamil Brookins died Sunday morning from cancer at age 70.

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Residents living downstream from a western Pennsylvania dam are being urged to evacuate following severe weather.

The Westmoreland County emergency management agency issued the warning Monday for residents downstream of Lower Ridge Dam in Derry Township.

Derry borough's municipal authority posted a warning telling people to "evacuate the area within the McGee Run stream valley" and said the warning "mainly affects those residents adjacent to McGee run.

Those needing shelter were advised to go to the Derry high school or St. Joseph's church.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Parts of Allegheny County received more than 7 inches of rain over the past few days, according to the National Weather Service. That helped Pittsburgh surpass its average annual rainfall of 38 inches, with this year's total above 40 inches. 

Carnegie Mellon University

The dean of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science is leaving higher ed at the end of the year to lead Google Cloud AI.

Marc Levy / AP

After a 12-day lockdown at all state prisons, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections says it’s resuming normal operations.

States Eye Pennsylvania’s Clergy Probe As Court Battle Looms

Sep 10, 2018
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Pennsylvania's sweeping grand jury report on child sexual abuse in Roman Catholic Church dioceses is drawing growing attention from prosecutors elsewhere as a court battle looms that could curtail such investigative reports in the future.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Friday that more than 15 state attorneys general and a senior Justice Department official have contacted him about his office's two-year investigation, what child advocates have called the biggest of its kind by a state into church cover-ups of abusive clergymen.

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