Features & Special Reports

Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

As protests against police brutality sweep across the country, polling suggests most Americans support law-enforcement reform. In our year-long Split Ticket series, we’ve been asking four voters about the issues that could sway their decision at the ballot box. This month, the many reported acts of police brutality – and the President’s response to them – have deepened one voter’s commitment to be heard in November.

Charles R. Martin Photographs / University of Pittsburgh


Lenore Williams was living in Homewood when civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. 

Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Reopening the economy has become a polarizing issue, and how elected leaders handle the task could sway voters’ decisions at the ballot box in November. For our Split Ticket series, we asked four western Pennsylvania voters about how they view reopening strategies.

Photos courtesy of the candidates / 90.5 WESA

Republican Mike Turzai represented the 28th state house District for nearly two decades before announcing his plans to retire at the end of this year. None of the three Republicans vying for his North Hills seat would have the same legislative clout as Turzai, the outgoing Speaker of the House. But they still believe they can help guide the state through the coronavirus pandemic.

Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

During the first few months of this year, the 2020 presidential race dominated the country’s attention – until the coronavirus arrived. 

Dickinson campaign/AP

In the run-up to the 2020 election, Democrats struggled to pick the national face of the party: a more moderate candidate in Joe Biden or a more radical choice in Bernie Sanders. 

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.

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