Features & Special Reports

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf has issued stay-at-home orders across Pennsylvania as the coronavirus spreads. The directives are meant to save lives, but for victims of domestic violence, being stuck at home with their abusers can be extremely dangerous.


Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Four days after the Braddock Carnegie Library temporarily closed because of the coronavirus, executive director Vicki Vargo, who was working from home, stopped by to pick up the mail and a few other things. Outside the landmark building’s front door stood a library regular.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A new election law in Pennsylvania allows registered voters to cast their ballots by mail. It’s meant to make voting more accessible, which is why some organizers have been planning for months to use it to boost turnout. And as the coronavirus spreads, there may be unintended benefits of voting by mail.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Coronavirus has now spread to more than 100 countries, representing two-thirds of the world’s population. In Pittsburgh, large events are being canceled; college classes are moving online; and everyone’s taking extra long to wash their hands.

Helping explain the headlines this week from the WESA newsroom:

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Propel McKeesport elementary teacher Timesha Cohen said she is uncomfortable talking about race in her classroom. But, she said she knows it’s vital for her students.

Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Polling shows that health care is a top concern for voters across the country, and voters in Western Pennsylvania are no exception. The voters in our Split Ticket series are divided on how to address the issue. Two people want to expand government health care – and while the other two don’t, they have each turned to public services for help.

Courtesy Evolve EA

Two massive stone arches tower over Washington Boulevard in Pittsburgh’s Homewood and Larimer neighborhoods. The intersecting structures over Silver Lake Drive appear out of place along this curving, concrete road.

AP

When President Trump ran for office four years ago, he said the government could save hundreds of billions of dollars on drug costs -- if it was allowed to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Dolores Ochoa / AP

Legislation to decriminalize marijuana under federal law has gotten some traction in Congress, with a U.S. House committee passing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement, or MORE, Act in November. But the bill, introduced by New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, is not expected to become law.

David Eggert / AP

Like most people, Brett Stanford likes to unwind after work. Often he smokes cannabis, sometimes while watching the PBS period-drama “Downton Abbey.”

Scotland Is Turning Pennsylvania Shale Gas Into Plastic. But What Happens To It Next?

Dec 18, 2019
Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

It’s a windy day on the Firth of Forth, a wide river estuary in central Scotland, and Jasper Hamlet is jabbing at the sand on Ferrycraigs Beach with a stick. He peels back layers of sand, dried seaweed, and sticks, and finds what he’s looking for: plastic pellets called “nurdles.” 

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

Nancy Black has a host of health problems, including arthritis, fibromyalgia and asthma, and she used to have to take opioids every 12 hours for her pain. However, in 2018 she decided to stop taking her medication, which included OxyContin, and to use medical marijuana instead. 

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Pro-impeachment rallies are scheduled for Tuesday evening across Southwestern Pennsylvania – just hours before a US House vote on impeaching President Trump will take place on Wednesday. The effort will offer a response to anti-impeachment messages broadcast by Republican groups in recent months.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day,” Pittsburgh attorney Catia Kossovsky said with a laugh.

The day was January 4, 2018. And then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had announced he would let prosecutors crack down on the medical marijuana industry, undoing Obama-era guidelines that generally left states to enforce their own marijuana laws.

Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The path to presidential victory runs directly through Pennsylvania. The state holds 20 electoral votes and Donald Trump’s 2016 win was decided by less than 50,000 votes, or less than one percentage point. Polls show it will be a close race again in 2020. Over the next year, WESA is following four voters at the center of this election about the big issues that will sway their decisions at the ballot box.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Markita Wilburn says cannabis got her through pharmacy school.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

This past year has been a big one for climate activism, so much so, that the Collins English Dictionary declared "Climate Strike" the word of the year. Young people have largely led the movement, and 18-year-old Leandra Mira of Upper St. Clair has been the face of climate strikes in Pittsburgh.

Allvision

The city of Pittsburgh and East Liberty-based startup Allvision IO are embarking on a mission to track down the city’s streetlights.

 

The city's PGH Lab program, a startup incubator, recently named Allvision as a member of its latest cohort. The team will be working with the Department of Innovation and Performance to create a database of the city’s streetlights for Pittsburgh's Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, or DOMI.

 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Legally, it’s a lot easier to get married than divorced. After all, while getting married usually doesn’t require hiring a lawyer, a divorce often does. And paying thousands of dollars for legal help is not an option for some.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Franklin Park is both rustic and upscale, graced with million-dollar homes, state game lands and even the occasional large flightless bird. And as Matt Ferriolo drives through the community touting its virtues — “People really, really care about keeping the forested nature of this place,” he says at one point — an ostrich trots down the driveway of a nearby farm.

Women in Tech PGH

Women make up about one-quarter of technology workers in the U.S., and women of color are underrepresented to an even greater degree. An online community, Women in Tech PGH, aims to support and uplift women working in tech by compiling information about job opportunities, resources and events all in one place.

The Andy Warhol Museum/Abby Warhola

 

In late October, the New York Times announced the discovery of what some are calling a long-lost Lou Reed album

Discovered by Judith Peraino, a musicologist at Cornell University, the audio cassette’s B-side features 12 previously unheard songs recorded by Reed in late 1975. The cassette was found right here in Pittsburgh, among the 3,500 audio tapes from Andy Warhol's collection that is now housed in the Andy Warhol Museum's archive. 

Courtesy of Camera Bartolotta's legislative office

Pennsylvania lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pursued changes to the criminal-justice system. Republican state Senator Camera Bartolotta, of Washington County, has emerged as a leader in this effort. But when she was elected in 2014, she had little inkling that she would play such a role.

The new film “Dark Waters” depicts the real-life story of the 20-year battle waged by attorney Rob Bilott against chemical giant DuPont.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Machine learning is an integral part of Pittsburgh's tech economy, thanks to Carnegie Mellon University's position as one of the nation's foremost research centers on the topic. That's enticed tech giants such as Google and Uber to set up shop in the Steel City. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

At first glance, the finances of the Pittsburgh Public Schools look healthy. It has nearly $112 million in the bank, and the district hasn’t closed a school since 2012 or raised taxes in five years. But early budget discussions, and a dispute with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto may be a sign of trouble to come.

Photo by Lacey Terrell / TriStar Pictures

Fred Rogers died in 2003, at 74. He was already beloved, but his death seemed to accelerate a kind of secular canonization. In Pittsburgh, his hometown, he even got his own bronze statue. Erected in 2009, it stands 11 feet tall, overlooking the rivers near another civic shrine, Heinz Field.

Photo by Brittany Spinelli

Clare Barron’s acclaimed play “Dance Nation” is a comedy with dancing, but it’s no musical. It’s not really even, at its core, about dance.

On Tuesday, 16 universities across the United States and United Kingdom held #NoTechforICE events, urging the company Palantir to drop a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

Carnegie Mellon University

College students have access to an abundance of data to track their progress in classes, from test scores to grades on projects and assignments. Professors, however, often have to rely on subjective evaluations once a year to get a sense of how they are doing. A system developed by a Carnegie Mellon University team aims to give educators more data to work with so they can improve their teaching techniques.

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