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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2018 at 4:00 PM

click to enlarge American and international students participate in Coming of Age ceremony at Pitt on Jan. 10 - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
CP photo by Ryan Deto
American and international students participate in Coming of Age ceremony at Pitt on Jan. 10
The University of Pittsburgh participates in a program every year that allows college students from Japan to live in Pittsburgh briefly, so they can improve their English language skills. And while the Japanese students benefit from learning a new language, some of them miss out on a very important holiday they would have experienced in Japan.

Coming of Age Day, or Seijin no Hi, is a national Japanese holiday celebrated on the second Monday of January, and held to encourage Japanese residents who have turned 20 years of age to partake in all the benefits of becoming an adult. In Japan, turning 20 means residents can legally drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, drive and gamble.

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Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2018 at 1:39 PM

In response to stalled contract negotiations and company demands for steep concessions, newsroom employees of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will begin a byline strike against management.

Pittsburgh City Paper
confirmed the action through several P-G staff members, who wished to remain anonymous. CP also read the email alerting employees of the action.

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh represents reporters, copy editors and photographers at the P-G. Employees with the guild have been working without a contract since March 31, 2017.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Posted By on Mon, Jan 22, 2018 at 6:24 PM

click to enlarge Pennsylvania's current U.S. Congressional Districts
Pennsylvania's current U.S. Congressional Districts
No more packing all the Democratic votes into a small number of urban Pennsylvania U.S. Congressional districts. No more Goofy kicking Donald Duck, a common descriptor for Pennsylvania's 7th U.S. Congressional District.

On Jan. 22, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the state's current U.S. Congressional District map, which was drawn by Republicans in 2011, was unconstitutional according to the Pennsylvania Constitution. The 5-2 decision affirmed the plaintiffs' claims that Republicans sought partisan advantage when drawing the maps. The decision was cast along partisan lines, with Democrats calling for the current map to be struck down and the court's two Republicans dissenting.

According to the order issued by the state Supreme Court, the new maps will be redrawn by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, currently in Republican control, by Feb. 9. Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) will then have until Feb. 15 to OK the map and submit it to to the state Supreme Court. The new maps will be available by Feb. 19 and will apply to the May 15 primary election and subsequent elections. However, they will not apply to Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District special election on March 15 between Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon) and Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth).

The order also says "congressional districts composed of compact and contiguous territory; as nearly equal in population as practicable; and which do not divide any county, city, incorporated town, borough, township, or ward, except where necessary to ensure equality of population."

In the current map, county splitting is very common. The 12th Congressional District, which stretches from Beaver County in the west all the way to Cambria County in the east, splits five different counties. Berks County in the eastern part of Pennsylvania doesn't have enough population to support its own congressional district, but is split up into four different districts regardless.

Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Marcel L. Groen issued the following statement on the decision: “The order issued by the Supreme Court today found that the congressional map violates Pennsylvania’s constitution and has provided the methodology for new maps to be submitted and acted upon before the end of February. I want to thank and compliment the attorneys and parties who brought this before the Supreme Court and helped right this obvious wrong.”

The Pennsylvania Republican Party has yet to put out a statement. But Mark Davin Harris, of Pittsburgh-based conservative political firm Cold Spark Media, tweeted after the decision that "PA Supreme Court ruling is an insane and unconscionable power grab. It’s a legal joke and a thinly veiled partisan hack job. They should be ashamed."

However, it's unclear if anything can be done to change it. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia) tweeted it's "not clear" if the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case if it is appealed, since the issue pertains to the state constitution, not the U.S. Constitution.

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Posted By on Mon, Jan 22, 2018 at 4:41 PM

Fawn Walker-Montgomery (left) and Austin Davis
Fawn Walker-Montgomery (left) and Austin Davis
Yesterday’s Women’s March was all about getting out the vote, and this week, some Allegheny County residents will have the chance to do just that in the first election of the year. Tuesday, Jan. 23, marks the special election for the 35th State House District.

The election for the state House seat vacated by former state Rep. Marc Gergely is set between McKeesport natives Democrat Austin Davis and Republican Fawn Walker-Montgomery.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 5:00 PM

click to enlarge Daniel Smith Jr. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATE
Photo courtesy of the candidate
Daniel Smith Jr.
Daniel Smith Jr. is a Butler County native and longtime resident, who grew up in Zelienople and now lives in Adams Township with his husband, Don. He has been paying close attention to his state representative, Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry), for years. Smith has grown frustrated as Metcalfe has continually focused on bombastic and divisive issues, such as opposing same-sex marriage and attacking immigrants’ rights. Over the years, Smith felt that with every controversial Metcalfe issue that made headlines, Pennsylvania’s 12th House District suffered from being cast in a negative light.

Then a video was released in December 2017 of Metcalfe freaking out when his colleague, state Rep.Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery), touched him on the elbow during a committee meeting on land use. Metcalfe exclaimed, “I am heterosexual. I love my wife, I don’t like men, as you might. Stop touching me all the time.” The video went viral and was mocked on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Late Night with Stephen Colbert.

“The moment he had at the committee meeting, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” says Smith. “Yes, what [Metcalfe] said pissed me off. But I saw the rest of the representatives in the meeting shake their heads. And I was thinking, ‘How does a district keep voting for this person?’ Then I thought, I needed to do something.”

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Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 3:35 PM

John Fetterman - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
CP photo by Ryan Deto
John Fetterman
Mayor John Fetterman found himself in the hot seat Tuesday night during an hour-long Q&A with the University of Pittsburgh’s College Democrats.

Fetterman is running for lieutenant governor in the upcoming election, and Pitt’s Young Democratic Socialists on hand took the opportunity to challenge him on some of his progressive stances. The local branch of the Democratic Socialists of America met with Fetterman in December and declined to endorse him in the upcoming election.

Prior to the event this week, the Young Democratic Socialists, lead by co-chair Sean Bailey, researched Fetterman’s positions on a wide range of issues. At the event, they quizzed him on topics ranging from fracking and abortion laws to minimum wage and nonprofit laws.

“We wanted to differentiate between a strong progressive platform and the Fetterman campaign, and I think we did,” Bailey said.

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Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 2:01 PM

On Sat., Jan. 20, Threadbare Cider House will be hosting a very special guest in preparation for spring. Pennsylvania's favorite groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, will be hanging out for the day before his big annual weather-predicting gig. Kids can meet him and learn more about this living piece of Pennsylvania history from the Groundhog Club of Punxsutawney, who will be on site visiting with Phil. Parents can grab a cocktail made with Wigle's new rye release, the commemorative Punxsutawney Phil’s Shadow Maple-Finished Rye Whiskey. Brunch will also be available.

For more information, visit

11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat., Jan. 20
1291 Spring Garden Ave.,
Spring Garden.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Posted By on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 6:00 PM

Are you a fan of the Food Network's Chopped, where cooking meets challenges in a face-off that can't be won by following the instructions found on a box? This Saturday, Jan. 20, the Northside Common Ministries (NCM), in partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Muslim Association, the Pittsburgh Somali Association, and members of the Latino community, are holding their annual Food Pantry Brunch Challenge, but with a bit of a twist.

This year, representatives from the local Muslim, immigrant and refugee communities will be joining the fundraiser. Using only food found commonly in a community food bank or soup kitchen, the 10 chefs will be tasked with making a brunch item.

There will be various brunch treats, and salsa music provided by Pittsburgh-based Latin fusion group, Gavas Beat. Funds collected will go toward helping the NCM continue to shelter hundreds of homeless men and women, and provide food assistance for families all over the Pittsburgh area.

The event begins at 11 a.m. at the New Hazlett Theater in Allegheny Center Mall on the North Side. Tickets are $25. To secure a ticket, call 412-323-1163 or email:

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Posted By on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 5:04 PM

CP photos by Charlie Deitch
On Jan. 18, President Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of about 200 invited guests at H&K Equipment in North Fayette Township, extolling the benefits of the recently passed tax-cut bill. The president claimed that many of the recent announcements by corporations about employee bonuses and expansions were due to the tax-cut bill.

“Because of tax cuts, Apple just announced a $350 billion expansion,” said Trump of the California-based tech giant. “Apple is gonna build plants, they are going to build a big campus. … The center of America’s resurgence is the tax cuts. ”

Trump also said that his tax-cut bill was having positive effects on H&K Equipment, an equipment-supply company to area manufacturers. "The signs of America's comeback can be seen at H&K,” said Trump. “They will be making a $2.7 million capital investment."

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Posted By on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 4:33 PM

click to enlarge Hillary Prescott Severino (left) and Justin Severino - PHOTO COURTESY OF ADAM MILLIRON
Photo courtesy of Adam Milliron
Hillary Prescott Severino (left) and Justin Severino
Long-time buddies Justin Severino, chef/co-owner at Cure and Morcilla, and Scott Smith, owner of East End Brewing Company, are collaborating to open a casual eatery inside the brewery's Larimer space. The space will offer 80 seats for patrons to enjoy a menu featuring beer-friendly 
click to enlarge Scott Smith - CP PHOTO BY CELINE ROBERTS
CP photo by Celine Roberts
Scott Smith
comfort foods, such as spatzle, Brussel sprouts, Italian sausage and poutine. Lighter options for those who prefer to eat vegetarian will also be available, such as falafel pita and escarole salad. The menu was specially designed by Severino to complement East End's brews, including its flagship ale Big Hop.

East End Brewing Company has long hosted a fleet of food trucks that change daily, but has never included any in-house food of its own.

“Scott and I have been friends for a long time,” Severino says, in a press release. “His beer has been a presence on the menus at Cure and Morcilla since we opened our doors, so in a way it feels like we have been collaborating for ages. We’ve talked about working together on a project for years, so when he approached me with this opportunity, I just couldn’t say no.”

Plans are to open in spring 2018.