Randall Coleman / Redd Vision

Pittsburgh Hip Hop Artist Benji. Recounts The Album That Almost Wasn't

Benji. holds little, if anything, back on his latest album, "Smile, You’re Alive!" The Pittsburgh native spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar for the Live & Direct series about the inspiration behind his music, his career trajectory and how he almost lost his entire album before its release. Benji. was recently named one of NPR's top artists to watch in 2019.

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Politics & Government

Mel Evans / AP

Officials in 18 Pennsylvania counties accepted gifts, such as wine festival tickets, trips and dinners at high-end restaurants, from voting equipment vendors ahead of the 2020 election, according to the state auditor general.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

About 1,300 Pennsylvania communities don’t have their own police departments and rely instead on state police.

Democratic Group To Spend $100M Targeting 2020 Battlegrounds

Feb 22, 2019
John Locher / AP

A major Democratic group on Thursday announced plans to spend at least $100 million in battleground states during the 2020 election in hopes of denying President Donald Trump a second term.

Surveys conducted by Priorities USA suggest Trump is vulnerable in many of the same Rust Belt states that sealed his victory in 2016, such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as well as Florida. Their research indicates antipathy toward Hillary Clinton drove some of the party's traditional voters to Trump and third-party candidates like Jill Stein, while others simply did not turn out.

Science, Health & Tech

Keith Srakocic / AP

Western Pennsylvania’s largest health care company is suing Pennsylvania’s attorney general in U.S. District Court.

Identity & Justice

AP

After a day in federal court, the state Corrections Department is settling a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups over a boost in legal mail security the groups say violated inmates’ First Amendment rights. 

Jacqueline Larma / AP

Planned testimony has been halted in a federal case contesting the legal mail policy used in Pennsylvania’s prisons.

Instead, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups bringing the case say they’re likely headed toward a settlement.

Education

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Investigators hired by the Pittsburgh Public School District say there isn’t enough evidence to determine who signed the name of board representative Kevin Carter’s on a letter attempting to lure Amazon's HQ2 to Pittsburgh.

 

Good Question!

Allyson Ruggieri / WESA

What Happened To Pittsburgh's Chinatown?

Pittsburgh is known for its historically ethnic neighborhoods – such as the Italians of Bloomfield, or the Polish of Polish Hill, but one area of downtown has an ethnic history that is less apparent.

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Development & Transportation

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A disagreement over allowing double-stack trains through the North Side and East End of Pittsburgh is growing heated.

Pittsburgh International Airport

Pittsburgh International Airport's terminal redesign plan was unveiled Wednesday, and is expected to be approved by the Allegheny County Airport Authority Board of Directors at a special noon meeting. 

Paul Davenport / AP

Amtrak is modifying its Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, because of the impending winter storm.

On Wednesday, Trains 647 and 651 will terminate in Philadelphia. Train 656 will originate in Philadelphia and Train 620 is canceled.

Amtrak says Northeast Corridor service between Boston and Washington and points south will continue to operate as scheduled.

Amtrak passengers are advised to check on their train's status throughout the day.

Arts, Sports, & Culture

Randall Coleman / Redd Vision

 

Benji. holds little, if anything, back on his latest album, "Smile, You’re Alive!" The Pittsburgh native spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar for the Live & Direct series about the inspiration behind his music, his career trajectory and how he almost lost his entire album before its release. Benji. was recently named one of NPR's top artists to watch in 2019.

Photo by David Bachman Photography

In December 1963, an Army captain named Floyd James Thompson shipped out from Fort Bragg, N.C. to Vietnam. 

Environment & Energy

The Pageant Queen On An Environmental Mission

Feb 22, 2019
Kara Holsopple

There is no one way to be an environmentalist, and no one knows that better than Rachel Rakovan.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Of the 8 million vehicles registered in Pennsylvania, just 15,000 of them are electric.

Solar Jobs Grow In Pennsylvania, While Declining Nationally

Feb 18, 2019
Emma Lee / WHYY

Jobs in Pennsylvania’s solar industry grew 10 percent last year, while declining three percent nationally, according to a new analysis.

Economy & Business

Nam Y. Huh / AP, File

Kraft Heinz disclosed an investigation by federal regulators and will slash the value of its Oscar Mayer and Kraft brands by $15.4 billion.

Shares plunged 26 percent at the opening bell Friday, the company's biggest single-day decline, after posting a stunning $12.6 billion loss for the fourth quarter.

Kraft Heinz divulged the receipt of a subpoena in October from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission related to its procurement operations. Those operations handle interactions with outside suppliers. The company said that it is fully cooperating with the SEC.

Local Headlines

Google Earth

Authorities say a landslide has caused a road and home to collapse in western Pennsylvania.

The landslide occurred Friday morning in the Perry North section of Pittsburgh. The cause was not immediately known.

No injuries were reported. But it's not yet clear if anyone was in the home at the time.

The home on Semicir Street was destroyed, except for a fire escape that remained standing.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP

School officials in Pittsburgh say a kindergartener was found with a handgun on a school bus.

Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman Ebony Pugh says the gun was found in the student's backpack Monday after school was dismissed. The student attends the Pittsburgh Faison K-5 school.

Pugh says another student alerted the bus driver to the weapon, and the gun was removed without incident. She says parents were notified via the district's phone system.

Food & Drink

Chain Store Beer, Wine Sales Press Some Dry PA Towns To Go Wet

Feb 19, 2019
Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

The little town of Cleona is the latest to feel some pressure to allow alcohol sales.

Nearly 700 towns across Pennsylvania are dry or partially dry, restricting the sale of beer, wine and liquor to some extent. In the greater Harrisburg region alone, 165 boroughs and townships restrict alcohol sales.

National & International

Prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller say they take no position on what Paul Manafort's prison sentence should be, but say President Trump's former campaign chairman acted in "bold" fashion to commit a multitude of crimes.

Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced next month after pleading guilty in a Washington, D.C. court last year to charges of conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

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