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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Al Gore says progress on climate change is happening despite President Trump

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 1:29 PM

  • CP photo by Rebecca Addison
  • Al Gore
In the months after the presidential election, former Vice President Al Gore spent time talking with President Donald Trump about the threat of climate change and the importance of sticking with the Paris Agreement, created to address greenhouse gas emissions. We now know those talks were futile, since in June, Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the global agreement.

But while things might appear bleak, in an interview with Pittsburgh City Paper this week, Gore said he remains hopeful. And he said projections indicate the United States is going to meet and exceed commitments previously made as part of the agreement, whether Trump likes it or not.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"East Texas Hot Links" begins Pittsburgh troupe's experiment with longer runs

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 1:20 PM

In years previous, this past weekend would have marked the final performances of Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co.'s run of Eugene Lee's 1991 drama East Texas Hot Links. Except for its popular stagings of plays by Pulitzer-winning native son August Wilson, all of the small company's runs have been three weeks long — usually about a dozen performances of each.

The cast of East Texas Hot Links - PHOTO COURTESY OF GAIL MANKER
  • Photo courtesy of Gail Manker
  • The cast of East Texas Hot Links
But inspired by Chicago's prolific theater scene, Playwrights founder and artistic director Mark Clayton Southers is literally doubling down: Instead of being wrapped, East Texas is now only halfway through a six-week run, a duration Southers intends to become his company's new standard.

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How a doodle by a Pittsburgh-based data analyst became the pseudo-logo for NPR's 1A radio show

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 12:38 PM


As a lover of stick figures and public radio, this story was too good to pass up.

Last week, I was discussing the NPR/WAMU show 1A with CP intern Hannah Lynn, and she mentioned that her friend John drew the lasso stick figure. I'm a big fan of the show, but I can't say I pay a whole lot of attention to its Twitter, so I didn't know what she meant. Basically, every Friday there's a weekly news roundup (a holdover from the program it replaced, The Diane Rehm Show); every tweet related to the roundup incorporates a small stick figure wearing a brown hat, holding a lasso, smiling (sort of).

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Pittsburgh civil-rights leaders urge city to settle with alleged police-brutality victim Leon Ford

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 11:53 AM

Leon Ford arrives for his civil trial on Sept. 26. - CP PHOTO BY CHARLIE DEITCH
  • CP photo by Charlie Deitch
  • Leon Ford arrives for his civil trial on Sept. 26.
At 19 years old, Leon Ford was stopped by police for a traffic violation in Highland Park on Nov.11, 2012. The encounter escalated when — even after presenting officers Andrew Miller and Michael Kosko with his license and registration — police believed Ford was not who he claimed to be and was instead a man who was wanted by police with a similar name, Lamont Ford. The officers called for backup and Detective David Derbish arrived on the scene to determine Ford’s identity.

Confused and afraid, Ford remained seated in his car after the officers asked him to step out. Miller tried to forcibly remove Ford from the car. Derbish entered the passenger side of the car and claims he thought he saw a bulge indicating that Ford was carrying a weapon. Derbish then shot Ford, who was unarmed, five times in the chest at close range after the car started to move.

“With the presence of three police officers insisting that Ford was not who he really was, we could understand why such an encounter might cause a young 19-year-old to be fearful,” Tim Stevens, chairman and CEO of the Black Political Empowerment Project, said at a press conference on Monday. “Particularly in the light of the many negative encounters between young black males and white police officers which have been televised so frequently over the recent years, both locally and nationally.”

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Monday, October 16, 2017

George Takei at Pittsburgh's Soldiers and Sailors on Tuesday night

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 3:50 PM

Tickets remain for An Evening with George Takei.

The actor, activist and social-media genius will discuss his experiences during World War II, when as a child he was interred in a government camp along with his family as part of the forcible locations of Americans of Japanese descent.

Takei will also speak about his experiences as a gay Asian man throughout his acting career.

Takei, 80, first gained fame as Sulu on the original Star Trek TV series and in subsequent films. He's now equally well known as an activist for social justice, LGBTQ rights and marriage equality.

The event is part of the University of Pittsburgh's International Week.

An Evening With George Takei takes place at 7 p.m. at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, 4141 Fifth Ave., in Oakland.

Tickets are $30-40 or $10 for students and are available here.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Community mourns the loss of Pittsburgh LGBTQ "pioneer" Chuck Tierney, co-owner of city's first public gay bar

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 5:47 PM

Chuck Tierney (left) and Chuck Honse in April 2007, a few weeks before they closed their LGBTQ bar, the Holiday. - CP FILE PHOTO
  • CP File Photo
  • Chuck Tierney (left) and Chuck Honse in April 2007, a few weeks before they closed their LGBTQ bar, the Holiday.
Chuck Tierney, a longtime LGBTQ activist and former co-owner of The Holiday Bar in Oakland died Oct. 11 from complications of liver cancer. And while he may be gone, his impact on Pittsburgh's LGBTQ community will be long remembered.

“I have gotten many calls from friends, who said they will really miss Chuck,” says Chuck Honse, Tierney's partner in The Holiday. “It is a big loss for me, but an even bigger loss to the community.”

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Scenes from Pittsburgh City Paper's and Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania's #ISTANDWITHPP Glitter Box Bash

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 11:52 AM

  • CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
Last year when City Paper published its very first Pink Issue, we decided a portion of the paper's proceeds would go to the nonprofit featured on the cover. This year, with Congress and the president more adamant than ever before about defunding Planned Parenthood, we decided to feature the health-care provider on the cover.

But rather than just provide a portion of the  proceeds, we decided to hold a benefit for Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania at the Glitter Box Theater. Local artists Childlike Empress and Merlette donated their time and talents to the fundraiser. Both shared stories of why the organization was important to them. Childlike Empress shared her story in the Pink Issue.

In addition to music, there were crafts, conversation and great food from the Franktuary Truck and beer from Roundabout Brewing. Thanks to all those who came out to perform, donate and support the event.

  • CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
  • CP photo by Charlie Deitch
  • CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
  • CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
  • CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
  • CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
  • CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
  • CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
  • CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
  • CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk

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Call for Submissions: Videos of Your Super-Cute Cat for Upcoming Film Fest

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Does your cat live in Western Pennsylvania? Is it a potential film star? The next Grumpy Cat or Keyboard Cat or Random Cat Falling Off Something?

Row House Cinema, in Lawrenceville, is looking for videos of your funny/adorable/clumsy/whatever cat for its upcoming Cat Film and Cultural Festival, to be held Nov. 11-16. One highlight of this catastic event will be the compilation film, "Pittsburgh's Pretty Kitties," and Row House is looking for YOUR videos of YOUR cat.

Videos can be submitted for consideration in four categories: Cutest, Funniest, Bravest and Most Yinzer. Humans can submit up to three videos; videos must be 30 seconds or less; and the submission period is open until Nov. 1. Videos should be sent to, and entrants should view full video technical specs here.

Get started meow.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Advocates call on state Rep. Dom Costa and Port Authority to drop fare-check policy proposal

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 4:13 PM

Advocates march through Morningside to protest Port Authority's proposed fare-check policy - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Advocates march through Morningside to protest Port Authority's proposed fare-check policy
The Port Authority of Allegheny County is proposing a new fare-check policy on its light-rail trains, in which Port Authority police officers will be patrolling stations and cars and asking for proof of payment. If a rider fails to prove payment, officers will run the name through a background check and give the passenger a warning. Upon repeat infractions, riders can be issued criminal charges.

On Oct. 12, a group of 30 advocates marched in Morningside, requesting that state Rep. and Port Authority board member Dom Costa (D-Stanton Heights) reject the fare-check proposal. Gabriel McMorland, of the social-justice advocacy group The Thomas Merton Center, has met with Port Authority officials and spoken at multiple authority board meetings about the potential harm this policy could have on vulnerable populations that often use public transit, like low-income earners, the homeless and undocumented immigrants. Before the march, McMorland said that possibility of putting someone into the criminal-justice system for failing to pay a $2.75 fare is overly punitive.

“They do not appear at all concerned about the potential dangers we brought up,” said McMorland. “We want to stand up against over-policing in this community.”

Nationwide, there are a handful of other transit-police agencies that use armed officers to enforce fare-evasions, such as in New York, Dallas and Cleveland. The policy of Cleveland's Regional Transit Authority is similar to the proposed Port Authority policy, as it makes multiple infractions of fare-evasion a criminal offense. However, recent news reports from Cleveland have highlighted flaws in the RTA system.

In September, the Cleveland Scene wrote about how some RTA transit cops believe that RTA’s fare-check policy is merely a way to generate revenue, and how citations were disproportionately targeting black riders. And in July, TV station WKYC reported how the RTA was charging teenage students with criminal offenses for failure to show their school ID, which acts as their transit pass.

At the Oct. 12 rally, Brandi Fisher, of the Alliance for Police Accountability, worried that if Port Authority were to institute this policy, a minor fare-evasion infraction could escalate, given the oft-tumultuous relationship between minorities and police officers. “Things like traffic stops and pat-downs often escalate to a place where serious things occur, like death or major injury,” said Fisher. She cited the case of Leon Ford, who was severely injured by Pittsburgh Police officers after being pulled over for running a stop sign.

Alma Brigido, the wife of deported immigrant-rights activist Martin Esquivel-Hernandez, told the crowd that this policy will likely decrease ridership among undocumented immigrants, who utilize public transportation because Pennsylvania doesn't allow them to obtain driver’s licenses. “We are obligated to use public transportation in our daily lives.”

As City Paper reported in June, undocumented immigrants could be potentially in threat of deportation with their first fare-evasion infraction. Even though the proposed Port Authority policy prohibits officers to ask for identification, authority officers will still run people’s names through a database that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has access to.

A coalition of advocacy groups surveyed local Latino transit riders and found that about 80 percent of them would stop taking the T, if the proposal were implemented. Monica Ruiz, of Latino-service organization Casa San Jose, said this is troubling because many Latino residents and many undocumented immigrants live in Beechview and other South Hills neighborhoods which the light-rail serves. Ruiz told CP she spoke to one woman who would stop taking the T if the policy were implemented, and she told Ruiz that armed officers on the light-rail would make her and her children “very afraid.”

The group of 30 marchers ended their march at the office of Costa and delivered more than 300 letters from constituents, asking Costa to oppose the proposed change.

When asked for comment on this story, Costa’s office directed CP’s request to the Port Authority. Adam Brandolph, spokesperson for the Port Authority, emailed CP  the following statement: “Interim CEO David Donahoe delayed implementation of the proposed fare policy on our light-rail system in June due to unexpected equipment issues. He has taken that time to review how other transit agencies enforce fare payment, and he has not recommended any changes thus far.”

The date for the Port Authority vote on the fare-check policy has not been determined.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New Mexican restaurant in Beechview seeking crowd-sourced loan funds

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 5:06 PM

Demetrio Aragon (right) and his family inside the La Catrina kitchen - PHOTO COURTESY OF DEMTRIO ARAGON
  • Photo courtesy of Demtrio Aragon
  • Demetrio Aragon (right) and his family inside the La Catrina kitchen
In May 2016, City Paper reported about the economic revitalization of Pittsburgh’s Beechview neighborhood and the role Latino residents were playing. The South Hills neighborhood had been marked by several vacancies in its business district for decades, but over the last few years, Latino entrepreneurs have been opening up restaurants and other businesses, bringing vitality back to the neighborhood.

Recently, La Catrina, a new Mexican restaurant joined the ranks, and the owners are looking for a little help so they can improve their operations and offerings. Demetrio Aragon and his family have lived in the Pittsburgh area since 2000. Aragon worked in Japanese restaurants until one day his wife convinced him that the family should open up a restaurant to serve the traditional Mexican dishes they had trouble finding in Pittsburgh.

“My wife, it was her idea,” says Aragon. “She saw the Hispanic population growing, and that there was a need for real food. We serve sopes, and tamales, but not like some I see here that are served unwrapped. We wrap ours up [in a corn husk]. That is the way it is supposed to be done.”

Aragon says the restaurant, which occupies a space across the street from the IGA/Las Palmas grocery store on Broadway Avenue, has been open for more than three months, but the place still needs a griddle, refrigerator and mixer to become fully functional. Aragon, with help from the Beechview-based Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation, is trying to secure a crowd-sourced loan through As of print, La Catrina’s loan is 94 percent funded with only $550 left to reach its $10,000 goal, with only three days remaining to contribute.

“We just need some equipment,” says Aragon. “It’s just me and my wife and daughters. We don’t have investors.”

Ashleigh Deemer, chief of staff to Pittsburgh City Councilor Natalia Rudiak, wrote in an email to CP that La Catrina deserves a little support, so that Beechview can continue to grow economically. "Beechview has been a hidden gem for years, but Broadway Avenue's small-business culture is really taking off, and La Catrina is a perfect destination for anyone who wants to visit and see all Beechview has to offer," she wrote.

Aragon and his family live in Dormont, but choose Beechview to cater to the neighborhood’s growing Latino population. Aragon is from the Álvaro Obregón district of Mexico City (the same district as deported immigrant-rights activist Martín Esquivel-Hernandez), and he says there is a big opportunity in Pittsburgh for ultra-authentic Mexican food because there aren’t many authentic Mexican restaurants.

La Catrina specializes in many hard-to-find Mexican recipes, all crafted by Aragon’s wife, Angelica. La Catrina offers chilaquiles (deep-fried tortillas bathed in chili sauce), lamb barbacoa (and a soup made from all the lamb’s juices), and sopes (a corn masa dumpling typically topped with slow-cooked meats, lettuce and avocado).

Aragon says that all of La Catrina's traditional Mexican recipes are made from scratch, including all of the chili sauces that covers most dishes. La Catrina offers Tex-Mex food as well, but not all of those items are scratch-made.

Aragon says that La Catrina's clientele has mostly been Latinos looking for a taste of home, but many native-born Americans have also eaten there. He hopes that La Catrina will be a restaurant welcoming to everyone.

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