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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 2:54 PM

click to enlarge Nina Ahmad - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMPAIGN
Photo courtesy of campaign
Nina Ahmad
Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Nina Ahmad said Pittsburgh’s economic rebound is an example of how to spread more prosperity across the entire state of Pennsylvania. Ahmad was campaigning in Pittsburgh on March 25 and sat down with  City Paper.

Ahmad, a former aide to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, commended Pittsburgh on its economic resilience and noted that Philadelphia has achieved similar results. She said the openness and inclusive mindsets of each city has helped Pittsburgh and Philadelphia bounce back.

“We need to get what Pittsburgh has done and what Philly has done, and get those accomplishments to the center of the state,” said Ahmad. “You need this diversity to have a sustainable economy.”

Ahmad also said she believes having a lieutenant governor that embodies diversity is important to showcase Pennsylvania as open to the new ideas that drive an innovative economy. Ahmad emigrated from Bangladesh when she was 21 years old and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also served as the former head of Philadelphia's branch of the National Organization for Women.

If elected, she would be the first woman of color to serve a non-judiciary Pennsylvania statewide office. “It’s critical for the statewide offices to have a women of color represented,” she said. “They have been the saving grace for the Democratic Party.” According to 2016 exit polls, 99 percent of black women and 82 percent of Latinas in Pennsylvania voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 4:47 PM

A Ford Focus model of an Uber driverless car - CP PHOTO BY KIM LYONS
CP photo by Kim Lyons
A Ford Focus model of an Uber driverless car
On March 18, a semi-autonomous Uber car struck and killed a pedestrian who was walking her bike across a street in Tempe, Ariz. Initial reports stated the crash was caused by the pedestrian darting out in front of the car, but those would prove inaccurate. A video was released a few days after the crash by Tempe police that showed the car’s technology failed to identify the pedestrian, who was walking across the street slowly in very low light. Additionally, an Uber employee sitting in the driver's seat appeared to be looking down, immediately prior to the crash. According to the Associated Press, experts who viewed the video have said Uber’s driverless-car technology should have picked up the woman and stopped before colliding with her.

On March 27, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey suspended Uber’s self-driving testing privileges throughout the state. Now, the bike and pedestrian advocates at nonprofit Bike Pittsburgh are hoping Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania also consider adding some regulations to the driverless-car testing that occurs in Pittsburgh.

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Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 4:07 PM

Photos courtesy of Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team
Since the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team had its first takeoff in 2006, Megan and Jonathan Plesset estimate they've rescued around 7,300 animals. The nonprofit enlists a fleet of volunteers, pilots, small passenger planes and landplanes (a.k.a. trucks) to take animals out of dangerous situations — areas affected by natural disasters, rural populations where shelters can't afford to feed their animals — and bring them to safety. Considering the expense, time, red tape, manpower and logistics of the operation — not to mention that this is a not-for-profit volunteer operation — 7,300 is an impressive figure.

Now, thanks to a donation from the Rachael Ray Foundation, the Plessets are hoping to see that number skyrocket. The foundation, started by the celebrity chef, TV personality and philanthropist Rachael Ray and funded from proceeds of her luxury dog food Nutrish, had contributed smaller gifts to PAART in the past, but earlier this year offered the largest gift to date.

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Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 3:46 PM

CP photo by Luke Thor Travis
The Lawrenceville restaurant Morcilla flooded right after the new year and has been under construction since. It will re-open its doors ahead of schedule on Wed., March 28. Not wanting to waste an opportunity, the co-owners Hillary Prescott Severino and Justin Severino focused reconstruction on updating the restaurant, with an expanded cooler for charcuterie production and more acoustic paneling to reduce noise inside the dining room.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 at 5:09 PM

Rally goer at March for Our Lives in Downtown Pittsburgh on March 24 - CP PHOTO BY JAKE MYSLIWCZYK
CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
Rally goer at March for Our Lives in Downtown Pittsburgh on March 24
In the month since a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. left 17 students and staff dead and several wounded, a renewed effort to reform gun laws has taken hold across the country, and in Pennsylvania.

This year, nearly a dozen pieces of gun-control legislation have been introduced in the Pa. state legislature. Some bills limit the sale and use of assault weapons, ban high capacity magazines and enact stricter gun-ownership laws. Some Pennsylvania elected officials are hoping young voters start to rally behind some of these bills.

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Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 at 2:39 PM

Each week we post a song from a local artist online for free. This week, it’s “Clarity,” by Clara Kent. The track is a smooth R&B number that details the struggles of a workaholic. The soulful hook calls for clarity, and to be present and honest with oneself.

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 5:58 PM

An online ad targeting Cris Dush (left) and Mike Turzai (right) - IMAGE COURTESY OF PA DEMS
Image courtesy of PA Dems
An online ad targeting Cris Dush (left) and Mike Turzai (right)
In January, Pennsylvania state Supreme Court justices voted to toss out the Republican-drawn map of the state’s U.S. Congressional Districts after ruling the map a partisan gerrymander. The five justices who voted in favor were Democrats and the two who voted against were Republicans. After the Pennsylvania legislature failed to agree on a drawing to replace the map, the state Supreme Court justices drew the new map.

State Republicans were pissed, and some even started calling for the state Supreme Court justices to be impeached. In February, state Rep. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson) introduced four different pieces of legislation that together called for the impeachment of four Democratic state Supreme Court justices. The pieces of legislation have not received widespread support in among legislators, but a handful of Republicans, including state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry), have co-sponsored the package of legislation.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 4:44 PM

click to enlarge Bill Peduto (center) at March 21 round table discussing tax cuts - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
CP photo by Ryan Deto
Bill Peduto (center) at March 21 round table discussing tax cuts
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has never been a fan of President Donald Trump. In June 2017, when Trump announced the U.S. would be leaving the Paris Climate Accords by saying, “I was elected by voters of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Peduto clapped back. “As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future,” he tweeted in response to Trump’s announcement.

And now, additional Trump-backed plans and announcements have raised Peduto's ire. On March 21, as part of a nationwide tour, the progressive coalition Not One Penny visited Pittsburgh to discuss the effects the recently passed tax-cut bill will have on Pittsburgh. Peduto took issue with that bill, but also with Trump’s budget proposal.

Trump’s proposed budget would make significant cuts to Community Development Block Grant funds (which help low-income neighborhoods build new development projects). Trump also has proposed cuts to funds associated with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation. Peduto said Pittsburgh and small rural towns in Southwestern Pennsylvania are reliant on these funds and that economic inequality could be exacerbated without their continuation.

“Look at the cities and places where disparities are increasing,” said Peduto. “These funds are necessary.”

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Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 2:16 PM

Today marks the soft opening of Chantal's Specialty Cheese Shop in Bloomfield. Until 6 p.m., customers are invited to stop in to see the space, talk to the staff and, of course, eat a little cheese. The shop is specializing in in artisanal, fresh-cut cheeses and a selection of charcuterie.

Owners Anaïs Saint-André Loughran, Donna Kyler and Chris Loughran met in Pittsburgh after Saint-André Loughran and Loughran moved from New York City. Saint-André Loughran and Kyler both have experience as cheesemongers and, through the trio's love of food and passion, Chantal's was born. Their collaboration is named for Saint-André Loughran's mother who passed away some years ago.

Look for imports and local cheeses at this new neighborhood joint, located across the street from Children's Hospital.

4402 Penn Ave., Bloomfield

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 5:15 PM

click to enlarge An attendee a March 20 environmental rally outside the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
CP photo by Ryan Deto
An attendee a March 20 environmental rally outside the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh region has the 8th worst air quality of any region in the U.S., according to the American Lung Association. Of regions that are outside of California, with its fast population growth and geography that encourages the buildup of ozone, the Pittsburgh region has the worst air quality in the U.S.

On March 20, a group of environmental advocates and grassroots groups gathered in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse in Downtown Pittsburgh to point out the region’s poor air-quality. About 50 people braved the snow and called on local elected officials to do more to ensure that Allegheny County has cleaner air. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Allegheny County, in 2016, recorded a weighted annual average of particular matter at a rate of 12.8. This is the 10th highest for any county in the U.S. and the highest east of the Mississippi.

Zachary Barber of statewide environmental group, PennEnvironment, says that the region has made significant progress since the heyday of steel production, but he believes the county needs to do better.

“Despite all of the progress we have made, people in the region still can’t breath clean air,” said Barber to the crowd. “No reason in America’s most livable city should people have to put themselves at risk when going outside.”

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