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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Guentzel a possible Penguins scratch with Hornqvist a game-time decision
Merkel, after discordant G-7 meeting, is looking past Trump

By The Washington Post

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 5:27 p.m.


LONDON — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday declared a new chapter in U.S.-European relations after contentious meetings with President Trump last week, saying that Europe “really must take our fate into our own hands.”

Offering a tough review in the wake of Trump's trip to visit EU, NATO and Group of Seven leaders last week, Merkel told a packed Bavarian beer hall rally that the days when Europe could rely on others was “over to a certain extent. This is what I have experienced in the last few days.”

It was a stark declaration from the leader of Europe's most powerful economy, and a grim take on the trans-Atlantic ties that have underpinned Western security in the generations since World War II. Although relations between Washington and Europe have been strained during periods since 1945, before Trump there has rarely been such a strong feeling from European leaders that they must turn away from Washington and prepare to face the world alone.

Merkel said that Europe's need to go it alone should be done “of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that works.”

But it was a clear repudiation of Trump's few days with European leaders. On Thursday, Trump had tough words for German trade behind closed doors. Hours later, he blasted European leaders at NATO for failing to spend enough on defense, while holding back from offering an unconditional guarantee for European security. Then, at the Group of Seven summit of leaders of major world economies on Friday and Saturday, he refused to endorse the Paris agreements on combating climate change, punting a decision until next week.

Merkel made similar comments shortly after Trump's November election. But they carry extra heft now that Trump is actually in office — and after Trump had a days-long opportunity to reset relations with Washington's closest allies. Instead, by most European accounts he strained them even more.

“The belief in shared values has been shattered by the Trump administration,” said Stephan Bierling, an expert on trans-Atlantic relations at Germany's University of Regensburg. “After the inauguration, everyone in Europe was hopeful that Trump would become more moderate and take into account the positions of the G-7 and of NATO. But the opposite has happened. It's as if he is still trying to win a campaign.”

Bierling said there was broad consensus among Germany's political parties that the country can no longer rely on the United States as a reliable partner.


Sounding off: Watching Fox News doesn't make one a cult member

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 12:12 p.m.


In response to the letter “Fox News cult” (May 16 and TribLIVE), I would like the opportunity to question the writer's concerns.

She wrote that Fox News is a cult that has captivated our citizenry, and its viewers are cult members. How does the writer explain that, according to Nielsen Media Research reports, Fox News is the most-watched cable news channel over the last 15 years? In my opinion, it is the only source of news that is fair and balanced.

The author also suggests that these cult members should educate themselves with multiple sources of information that offer all sides to an argument. Is this even possible with all the fake and twisted news that benefits the left's agenda? Why did the University of California at Berkeley cancel Ann Coulter's speech, as well as those of other conservative speakers? I believe it is important for young adults to listen to others' points of view instead of only their liberal professors. There's always a double standard with the left.

As an educated, professional, conservative woman, I am proud to announce that I am a Fox News viewer. I am so over the name-calling. I am not deplorable, delusional or a cult member. I'm not racist, sexist or homophobic. I socialize with and support all types of individuals in my personal and professional lives. I am an individual with good character and an empathic heart.

Don't worry about the Fox News viewers; we're good.

Pamela Anderson

Mt. Pleasant Township

Saturday, May 27

Taxpayers, county, workers gain

Recent letter-writers disagree with the project labor agreement (PLA) between Westmoreland County and the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council. Terms such as “bid rigging,” “unfair” and “costly” were used to describe this agreement.

I and many others agree with these types of agreements because we are educated on the benefits they provide for the end user — in this case, the Westmoreland County taxpayer.

With a PLA, the county is looking to improve the local economy: Workers making a family-sustaining wage can reinvest in it by spending money on luxuries after monthly bills are paid.

The PLA protects workers by ensuring that contractors provide workers' compensation insurance, health insurance, retirement plans and safety training.

It also provides the county with a highly skilled, well-trained and drug-free workforce, which is important for timely completion of the project at or under budget.

Many open-shop contractors try to skirt these provisions by paying workers a substandard wage or not offering benefits because they claim workers are part-time, which makes them less expensive in the bidding process. This is unfair to the employee trying to raise a family and to the local economy.

Contractors should have proof that these benefits are being provided so they can bid future projects. Do right for the employee who is working hard to make your company successful.

I applaud the county for protecting workers' rights while investing in the economy by utilizing a PLA.

Tim Custer

Hempfield

The writer is business manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 354.

Sunday, May 21

Unpersuasive on climate

The editorial “Another climate change canard: Warmed-over PR” (May 13 and TribLIVE) would have been more persuasive with a wider and more timely perspective.

Today, it is impossible to find any organization in the world representing active scientists doing current research published in peer-reviewed journals that rejects the connection between human-caused carbon dioxide and climate change. But major organizations in other disciplines have joined the call for policy action, such as the National League of Cities, the American College of Physicians and the American Society of Civil Engineers, among many others.

In March, the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, representing more than half of the nation's doctors, called on health-care professionals to save lives by advocating for climate-change policy action.

In the business world, corporate giants are committing to serious reductions in their operational emissions — companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Wal-mart, Target, Nike, Apple, Google, Ford, GM, General Mills, Cargill, Kellogg's, Mars and Unilever.

On Jan. 12, Ceres.org published a letter to President-elect Trump titled “630 Companies and Investors Tell Washington: Continue Accelerating the Low-Carbon Economy.” Letter signatories, including DuPont, Monsanto, Johnson & Johnson, Campbell Soup and Hewlitt-Packard, are all on board with the scientists.

Michael Segor

San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Monday, May 22

Fund early childhood ed

What can we do to offset the trends described in the article “Pennsylvania's budget woes will deepen with aging population” (May 8 and TribLIVE)?

For me, an educator with 13 years of experience, this article brought to mind an area of the budget that cannot be compromised: early childhood education. Pennsylvania's youngest citizens will determine our future and must be a priority.

Sadly, funding for child care and pre-K has fallen woefully short of the need. Local and state policymakers must remember that early childhood education matters. An ever-expanding body of research indicates that children who participate in high-quality early learning demonstrate improved school achievement, social competency and job market success.

Pennsylvania's dedication to its youngest residents would also go a long way in attracting and keeping young families.

Fred Rogers, Pennsylvania's champion of young children, once said, “It's easy to say, ‘It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

Let's respond. Let's make sure that our children receive the opportunities that prepare them well for the future.

Support early learning by visiting prekforpa.org, sign on to the advocacy campaigns, or simply call your legislator.

Be a hero; make bright futures in Pennsylvania a reality.

Diane Kendall-Olmstead

Winfield

Tuesday, May 23

Following suit

I was happy to see that David Waugaman, a 57-year-old man, decided to sue Ziggy's Hotel, alleging that the staff allowed him to drink so much that he fell and hurt his shoulder (“Drunken man falls off bar stool, sues Youngwood tavern owners,” May 13 and TribLIVE).

Surely it wasn't his lack of self-control or poor decision-making that led him to consume so much alcohol that he could no longer remain upright. Must have been somebody else's mistake.

Considering this, I've decided to do some suing of my own. First, I'm suing businesses that produce basketballs. They coerced me to play, and fall in love with, the game. Now, 55 years later, I have arthritis in both knees. Someone should be held accountable.

I'm also going after McDonald's and Burger King. After 55 years of eating their delicious products, I'm fat. They knew I couldn't control myself. Maybe responsible servers should have shut me off. They should have to pay.

Finally, I'm filing suit against the makers of the solitaire video game FreeCell. For 20 years, I have been addicted to sneaking in a game when I can. More than once this forced me to be unproductive, inefficient or late. They made the game so good, I have trouble resisting. They've got to pay.

Now that I can blame everyone else for my poor decisions, I'm ready to get paid. Know any shady lawyers, dumb judges or idiotic bleeding-heart juries? Those with common sense need not apply.

Richard Fondrk

Hempfield

Wednesday, May 24

Time to build

Building out and modernizing our region's and the nation's infrastructure is a critical goal that's broadly supported by voters across the political spectrum. Regionally, infrastructure development is a clear winner for Pennsylvania. According to a recent report from consulting firm ICF, U.S. energy infrastructure development can create more than 1 million new American jobs by 2035. In Pennsylvania, two critical energy projects, Mariner East II and PennEast, are projected to support more than 25,000 good-paying local jobs, including many for building-trades union members.

To meet these growing demands, local unions are expanding their apprenticeship programs to prepare workers for energy careers. As International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 business manager Jim Kunz said in the article, “Heavy equipment apprentices anticipate construction boom, train near New Alexandria” (May 15 and TribLIVE), energy development is “definitely good for our members, but it's also good for the region.”

Infrastructure is enabling a manufacturing revitalization for Pennsylvania families and workers. We're seeing this at the Shell petrochemical facility in Beaver County. And there's more opportunity on the horizon. A new IHS Markit report, commissioned by Gov. Tom Wolf's administration, highlighted those opportunities, noting Pennsylvania's abundant energy resources can transform the commonwealth into a petrochemical manufacturing hub. With the right regulatory and tax policies, given our world-class natural gas resources and workforce, Pennsylvania has the potential to attract investment, create jobs and fully realize a bright and promising future. For these reasons, and many more, it's time to build.

Erica Clayton Wright

North Fayette

The writer is vice president of communications and membership for the Marcellus Shale Coalition (marcelluscoalition.org).

Thursday, May 25

Captive audience

The other day I walked into my doctor's waiting room, and CNN's “AccentHealth” program was playing on the TV for patients to watch while waiting.

The program featured Dr. Sanjay Gupta and others trying to enlighten everyone about the latest health developments and handy tips to make us healthier.

I noticed at the bottom of the screen was a crawl with CNN's latest news stories. Actually, the “news” was the latest rumors, speculation and innuendo about President Trump. I mean, it was continuous.

Then it hit me: What better way for CNN to pump up its ratings? Just plaster its so-called news stories on a screen for a captive audience that has no choice but to sit there until they're called. The worst thing: You can't even get up and change channels.

After a half-hour of this, I started to notice that I felt worse when I left the doctor's office than when I arrived.

Walter Oliver

Penn Hills

Friday, May 26


Tarentum honors those who sacrificed for freedom

By JoAnne Klimovich Harrop and Madasyn Czebiniak

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 4:24 p.m.


The names engraved on the plaque represent their brothers and sisters, those who lost their lives defending the United States.

“I think sadness when I see all those names,” said Carl “Moch” Mochak, a Vietnam veteran from Buffalo Township, as he recently stood near the war memorials in Riverview Memorial Park in Tarentum.

“I wonder why I was able to come back, and they weren't. I believe it's important for people to see these memorials to remind us what those individuals went through.

I think about them, and remember them, every day.”

And, most especially, they have been in his thoughts this Memorial Day weekend.

Mochak was in the park again Sunday, a day after placing flags on veterans' graves in local cemeteries with others, for the borough's annual Memorial Day remembrance service dedicated to all veterans who lost their lives.

He attended with fellow veterans from the Tarentum VFW, including his friend and fellow veteran Steve Hloznik from Frazer, and, despite brief inclement weather, a large crowd that took the rain in stride under real umbrellas and makeshift ones before the sky cleared.

“These individuals stepped up, and Memorial Day is a day to remind us of what they endured,” said Mochak. “Their country called them. They answered. They left home … and they never came back.

“That is why I do what I do — to make sure they are remembered. We feel we owe it to them and their families and loved ones. They are the reason we have freedom, and we don't want people to forget.”

Despite membership numbers dropping at veterans' organizations and lessening attendance at such events, Mochak and Hloznik, both Army veterans, continue their passion for honoring the military.

“It was a privilege to serve my country,” Hloznik said. “We are all in this together. Veterans who lost their lives sacrificed for us, for our freedom. Unfortunately, the military is called upon and, when you are called upon, it's your duty to preserve our freedom.”

The two are part of team that makes sure flags are placed near the monuments in Riverview Memorial Park honoring World War I, World War II, Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq veterans as well as prisoners of war and those still listed as missing in action.

They also partner to participate in funeral services for veterans and place flags on graves at local cemeteries.

The relationship between the Tarentum VFW and the Brackenridge American Legion, which partner to hold the Memorial Day service, remains strong because of guys like Mochak and Hloznik.

“These two organizations work so well together,” said Tarentum Mayor Carl J. Magnetta Jr. “They have such a wonderful partnership. I had five uncles who served in World War II and our family was fortunate they all came back. I remember my grandmother crying when they left.”

“What bothers me is that people don't show up for Memorial Day services anymore. It's unbelievable. It's only 45 minutes to an hour of their time. Steve and Moch take this serious.”

Mochak says he's not sure why fewer people come to the Memorial Day services.

“It's only a short time out of your day,” said Mochak, who carries flags with him all the time to replace those that might be damaged or missing. “I am honored to do it and, as long as I can get around, I will do it. I feel I owe it to them, because I made it out and lot of my friends did not.”

He and Hloznik come to recognize the ultimate sacrifice that our fellow veterans have given to this country to preserve our freedom.

“And it is always with the upmost respect that we do this. We hope that no one will ever forget why they live in such a wonderful country,” Mochak said. “And we want to remind them how blessed they are that people were willing to give their lives so that all of us can live the American Dream.”

This year, however, the turnout was surprising.

The large showing brought Mochak to tears.

“It's an emotional day,” he said.

Carrie Fox, president of Tarentum's Recreation Board, said many people came for the plaque dedication for Army Sgt. Robert L. Adams, the first Tarentum resident to lose his life in the Vietnam War.

She said the board even ran out of programs they made for the event. They gave out 75.

“I'm assuming over 100 (people) showed up,” Fox said. “We had a great turnout.”

Wendy Koulouris is the daughter of Carol Czyzykiewicz Weiss, who was Adams' girlfriend. She was at the ceremony with her husband Harry, 46, and their children Elliana, 10, and Spiro, 8.

Harry Koulouris also is a veteran who served in Iraq. The two got engaged before he was deployed.

Because of what her mother endured, him not coming home was always something on the back of her mind.

“To have to go through that would be devestating,” Koulouris, 41, of Lower Burrell said. “I'm glad that he came back in one piece.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop and Madasyn Czebiniak are staff writers. Reach Harrop at 724-853-5062 or jharrop@tribweb.com. Reach Czebiniak at 724-226-4702, mczebiniak@tribweb.com, or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.


It's 'Open Streets' in Pittsburgh and people are loving it
Penguins 'Gold Outs,' big screen return for Stanley Cup Final

By WPXI

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 9:45 a.m.


PITTSBURGH - Penguins “Gold Outs” and the outdoor big screen will return for Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at PPG Paints Arena, the team announced Saturday.

Gold T-shirts and towels will be distributed to fans who attend the games against the Nashville Predators on Monday and Wednesday.

Outside the arena, the big screen will be located near the Peoples Gate, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Washington Place.

In addition to the “Gold Outs” and big screen, the KeyBank Fan Zone will be outside all three gates starting two hours before each home game. There will be different activities at each gate, including DJs, face painters and appearances by Iceburgh and the Penguins' Ice Crew.

More from WPXI.


Rain to continue through Memorial Day weekend

By WPXI

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 1:27 p.m.


PITTSBURGH - Rain is in the forecast throughout the rest of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but it will not be a washout.

Rain is expected to be widespread Sunday with not many showers in the morning.

Showers are more likely in the afternoon with heavier downpours possible. Rumbles of thunder could be heard later in the day as well.

Thunderstorms are most likely to appear Sunday night, including a gusty wind and a heavy downpour.

Flash Flood Watch issued until 10 p.m. for the following counties: Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Preston, Washington, Westmoreland.

While showers are still possible Monday, their coverage will not be widespread. Many areas could get away without any wet weather.

An isolated shower is possible, but it looks like many hours will be dry.

It will likely be dry in Pittsburgh for Monday night's Penguins game and at the big screen.

High temperatures will be in the low to mid-70s through Monday.

More from WPXI.


Victim identified in McKeesport shooting

By WPXI

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 10:03 a.m.


A victim has been identified in a shooting that took place in McKeesport Saturday night.

Antonio Wallace, 31, of McKeesport was shot and killed just after 10 p.m. Saturday in the 1800 block of Wesley Street, according to police.

The Allegheny County Police Department's Homicide Unit responded to the call in McKeesport.

First responders found Wallace suffering from a gunshot wound, according to police.

Wallace was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Homicide detectives are handling the investigation.

More from WPXI.


More warning buoys coming to Dashields Dam following deadly kayaking accident
Ex-Pittsburgh cop convicted in civil rights trial

By The Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:03 a.m.


A fired Pittsburgh police sergeant was convicted Friday of violating the civil rights of drunken teenager he beat at a high school football game.

Stephen Matakovich, 48, twice pushed and then punched Gabriel Despres, then 19.

The confrontation took place just outside Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, during a high school championship football game on Nov. 28, 2015. Stadium security guards had called Matakovich to forcibly remove Despres, who was drunk and had been denied entry.

Matakovich “was an annoyed bully who beat the crap out of a drunk kid,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Gilson told jurors on Friday. “This was an officer abusing his power.”

The jury acquitted Matakovich of a second charge, falsification of a document. Federal prosecutors contended Matakovich lied about or exaggerated Despres' actions in the reports he filed to justify pushing and hitting him.

The Steelers, who run the stadium, sent surveillance video of the altercation to then-police Chief Cameron McLay early last year. Mclay then fired Matakovich and ordered the investigation that resulted in related state criminal charges and, eventually, federal charges.

The federal civil rights charge carries up to 10 years in prison. Sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 15.

Matakovich, who testified in his own defense, said Despres' movements were “subtle” and “surreptitious.” A retired state police instructor testified for the defense that Matakovich was reasonable in his use of force, because he noticed things about Despres' posture and demeanor that the other witnesses - and the jury - weren't trained to observe.

Lead defense attorney Tina Miller, a former federal prosecutor, told the jury that dissecting the 29-second encounter in a one-week trial was unfair to Matakovich, who could be trusted for the “split-second” judgment he made.

“Nobody is going to say to a police officer, ‘I'm going to assault you,'” Miller told the jury. “You're not going to advertise what you're going to do. Your actions are going to be subtle. It's not going to be like some poster or (TV commercial).”

She defended Matakovich as “one of those guys on that thin blue line between chaos and order” before asking the jury, “Do we really want to second-guess?”

But Gilson mocked the defense, asking the jury if they really needed special training to tell the difference between an open hand and a closed fist.

“The only way (Matakovich) can convince you that what he did was reasonable is to convince you that you can't trust your own eyes,” Gilson said.

The video appeared to contradict several of Matakovich's claims, and prosecution witnesses - including five security guards - who testified they never saw Despres adopt a fighting posture, clench his fist or stare menacingly at Matakovich.

The fired sergeant also faces a state court trial next month on charges including simple assault, official oppression and perjury stemming from his testimony at an earlier court hearing.

Despres has since pleaded guilty to citations for public drunkenness and defiant trespass. He was ordered to pay more than $900 in fines and court costs, although more serious charges that he assaulted Matakovich were dropped.


4 ordered to trial in death of Somali cab driver in Pittsburgh

By The Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 6:42 p.m.


PITTSBURGH — Four men have been ordered to stand trial in the death of a Somali immigrant cab driver in Pittsburgh.

Prosecutors allege the group wanted to rob a pizza delivery driver on the night of Feb. 21 but, because of the late hour, opted for a cab driver.

Authorities say the men punched, kicked and beat 31-year-old Ramadhan Mohamed, who died three days later in a hospital.

At a preliminary hearing Friday, District Judge Armand Martin ordered all four suspects held without bail on charges of homicide, robbery and conspiracy. Attorneys said the four men are expected to be formally arraigned in June.

During the hearing, one of the men waived his right to a preliminary hearing and provided testimony about the beating, admitting to his role in it but also naming a co-defendant as the instigator.

At the time of his death, Mohamed was married with a 2-year-old son, and his wife was pregnant. He was a well-respected member of the Somali Bantu community and was known for wearing his religious garb. His killing prompted the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh and others to investigate his beating as a hate crime.

But police and prosecutors said then that they had no evidence the suspects were motivated by Mohamed's nationality, race or religion, although the investigation was continuing.

The four charged are Christen Glenn, 19, of Greensburg; Daniel Russell, 20, of Youngstown, Ohio; and King Edwards and Hosea Moore, both 20 and from Pittsburgh.

Moore testified Friday that he worked a shift at a fast-food restaurant that evening and he and the others decided later to lure someone to the neighborhood to rob them. He said they considered targeting a pizza delivery driver, but abandoned that plan because it was late and pizza shops were closing. He said Russell was the one who suggested the robbery.

Moore said he wasn't completely on board with robbing someone but “I did it anyway.”

When the cab arrived, Moore said, he was the first to reach the vehicle and he punched Mohamed. Moore testified that the others pulled Mohamed from the cab, threw him to the ground and began kicking and beating him. They then searched him for money or other valuables but found nothing, leaving with only the driver's cellphone and the vehicle's key, he said.

Moore's attorney, Kevin Abramovitz, said Mohamed “lost his life in a horrible, horrible set of circumstances.” He said he and his client have no deal with prosecutors but they are “certainly anticipating a benefit” from Moore's testimony.

Russell's attorney, Robert Carey Jr., said he looks forward to “challenging the credibility of this witness.”


Bus service for West Mifflin residents could be restored

By Theresa Clift

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 5:36 p.m.


An eight-year wait for bus service for low-income residents of a West Mifflin apartment complex is likely coming to an end.

A preliminary Port Authority of Allegheny County budget presented to the board Friday includes restoring bus service to Mifflin Estates, a 201-unit Section 8 housing complex, that was cut in 2009.

“The proposed bus service extension is a result of hours and hours of hard work from the Mifflin Estates residents who canvassed, held community meetings, wrote letters to Port Authority and elected officials, and addressed the Port Authority board and county council,” said Molly Nichols, director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, which assisted in the effort.

Residents had been attending meetings to ask for the service addition since October, Nichols said.

The service, an extension of bus Route 55, would come each hour, every day of the week, Nichols said.

“While it does not provide a direct connection to Downtown Pittsburgh, it is providing a lifeline for the residents who live there who do not have access to a vehicle,” Nichols said.

Residents' efforts got a boost in March when the County Council passed a motion to formally urge the authority to reinstate the service, sponsored by Councilman Bob Macey, D-West Mifflin.

Adding bus service is a competitive process.

Port Authority staff each year rank the dozens of service requests it receives to decide which three or four to select, based on projected riders, cost and other factors.

Last year, the West Mifflin project ranked near the middle of the list, but this year it was among three staff recommended for approval.

Staff also proposed extending Route 56 to Penn State's McKeesport campus on weekends, and rerouting Route 74 to serve Bakery Square.

The board is scheduled to vote on the service additions as part of the authority's annual budget next month.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, tclift@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tclift.


Pittsburgh Foundation event raises $1.3M to help 'most vulnerable'
Trump's budget cuts West Coast quake warning system funding

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 6:51 p.m.


LOS ANGELES — President Donald Trump's budget proposal would cut federal funding for an earthquake early warning system for California, Oregon and Washington state, a development that seismology experts and some local leaders say would be the end of the project.

The system being developed in conjunction with various universities is intended at providing critical seconds of warning when an earthquake has started and potentially dangerous shaking is imminent. The system would allow time for people to take cover and to slow or halt such things as critical industrial processes and transportation systems.

A version of the ShakeAlert system has been undergoing testing but still needs to have more seismic sensors installed in Northern California, Oregon and Washington. The proposed funding cuts for the next fiscal year starting Oct. 1 would come from the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, a bureau of the U.S. Interior Department.

Veteran seismologist Lucy Jones, who recently retired from the U.S. Geological Survey after years of providing earthquake information to the public, said she was deeply disappointed.

“Eliminating the $10 million (per) year that the government has been spending would stop the program and waste the $23 million that has already been invested,” she said in a statement. “The talented scientists and technicians that are working on the project now will go to other jobs, so their experience and expertise would be lost.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, a Los Angeles-area Democrat, said in a Facebook post that the system should not be stopped just as it is being expanded after years of work to educate the public and Congress on its benefits.

“Support for the early warning system in Congress is sustained, growing and bipartisan, and we will not accept this attempt by the president to cut a vital funding stream for a program that will protect life, property and critical infrastructure,” Schiff wrote.

Rep. Ken Calvert, a Republican who represents an inland Southern California district, is chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and the Environment and has supported funding of the earthquake warning system in the past.

Calvert said in statement Friday that he believes the warning system can be a “lifesaving tool” for millions of Americans in earthquake-prone areas.

“Obviously, the president's budget proposes some reductions for this program and other agencies that fall within the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee's jurisdiction, which I oversee as chairman,” he said. “During the appropriations process, important programs like this will be given full consideration.”

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said a major earthquake is inevitable and the president's proposal “is an abandonment of his duty to protect Americans.”

City Councilman Mitch Englander called the funding cuts “a threat to the lives of millions of people in California and beyond.”

Englander's district includes the epicenter of the deadly 1994 Northridge earthquake that caused billions of dollars in damage to Los Angeles and neighboring areas.

“When it comes to earthquakes, seconds matter,” he said in a statement. “A fully deployed early warning system would give time for elevators to shut down, hospitals to turn on backup generators, and people to take cover.”


Suspect in Wilkinsburg shooting turns himself in

By Natasha Lindstrom

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 6:03 p.m.


A 26-year-old man turned himself in Friday for a shooting earlier this week that left a 41-year-old Wilkinsburg woman in critical condition.

Darren Lamar Taylor is awaiting arraignment at Allegheny County Jail on charges of attempted homicide and aggravated assault, Allegheny County police Sgt. Scott Scherer said.

Taylor, who has ties to Wilkinsburg and Mt. Oliver, reported to police about 2:30 p.m.

Authorities had been searching for Taylor — whom they deemed armed and dangerous — since the shooting happened shortly before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on Elm Street.

The woman was allegedly arguing with a neighbor when Taylor, the neighbor's boyfriend, came outside and shot the 41-year-old woman in the abdomen, police said.

Taylor pleaded no contest in 2015 to conspiracy and harassment and was sentenced to 18 months of probation, according to court records. He received three months of probation in 2011 after pleading guilty to possession with intent to deliver. A guilty plea to simple assault in 2010 cost him a year of probation, records show.

A preliminary hearing for Tuesday's shooting-related charges has been scheduled for June 8.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or on Twitter @NewsNatasha.


Tarentum honors those who sacrificed for freedom
New traffic patterns to greet attendees of Westmore­land County air show

By Jeff Himler

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 7:51 p.m.


Fans who attend next month's Shop 'n Save Westmore­land County Airshow will find a high-flying spectacle waiting at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport — as well as new traffic patterns on the way to the Unity site.

Work is under way along Route 981 near the airport to widen sections of the road and replace its X-shaped intersection with Gravel Hill Road. PennDOT is constructing a circular roundabout that should allow traffic to flow more smoothly along Route 981, a new spur of Charles Houck Road and the entrance to the airport, which is being relocated.

PennDOT and airport officials say that roadwork, which is slated to continue into the fall at a cost of nearly $14 million, shouldn't affect the 100,000 or more motorists who are expected to travel to the annual air show June 24 and 25.

Work on the project has at times restricted two-lane Route 981 to a single lane during daylight hours, with flaggers allowing northbound and southbound traffic to alternate.

PennDOT notes those restrictions will continue, with two-way travel on Route 981 restored at the end of each workday.

But Troy Pritts, PennDOT's project manager, said the state is requiring that Plum Contracting's work create “no major traffic restrictions” during the air show weekend. He pointed out the contractor's crews have not been working on weekends.

“We've talked to the contractor for PennDOT, and we're all prepared for (the air show traffic),” said Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmore­land County Airport Authority. “We appreciate PennDOT working with us, and Plum Contracting, and we're all looking forward to a great show,” he said.

Monzo estimated about 80 percent of air show attendees arrive at the airport by turning onto Route 981 southbound from Route 30. He said those motorists will be admitted to the airport grounds through an alternate entrance just north of the PennDOT work zone and opposite a local discount store.

“They'll come in the entrance across from Big Lots,” Monzo said. “The construction won't affect them at all.”

Plum has been working to relocate underground water lines for the Latrobe Municipal Authority but is expected to shift its efforts to widening a section of Route 981 north of the main airport entrance and south of the headquarters of Kennametal.

The road will be broadened to three lanes, each 12 feet wide, with the central lane designated for left turns in either direction. The road's shoulders also will be widened, to 8 feet, Pritts said.

As part of that widening work, a lane shift is set to begin the week of Memorial Day, with placement of a temporary concrete barrier along the right edge of the southbound lane.

Because of the planned widening, West Penn Power has erected a new series of utility poles along the stretch of road. Pritts said any work Verizon must complete to relocate its phone lines to the new poles will occur behind the barrier and should not affect traffic.

Pritts said construction of the roundabout also should have no effect on traffic because the highway has been diverted onto a temporary bypass around that area.

“The only impact might be if they've got a truck coming in and out of that work area,” he said.

A detour using Route 30 is anticipated in late summer or fall, when the widening work reaches the northern end of the project, according to PennDOT.

Estimated attendance at past county air shows has ranged between 75,000 and 100,000 when weather is ideal for the event, which is held rain or shine.

“We think this will be a banner year because of the tribute to Mr. Palmer,” Monzo said, referring to late Latrobe golf legend Arnold Palmer, a pilot who lent his name to the airport and chaired the airport authority.

This year's show will feature a program and commemorative coin honoring Palmer and a display of his business jet and various memorabilia.

The show will include performances by the Navy's Blue Angels aerobatics team and the Army's Golden Knights parachute team. New this year, the airport is offering a VIP air show pass at a premium price. Monzo said last week about a fourth of the 400 available VIP spots had been reserved.

Monzo said there will be plenty of overflow parking available for air show attendees. Normally, parking at the airport is free, but a $5 fee during the air show benefits volunteer firefighters who direct motorists to open spaces.

Township supervisors have agreed to temporarily close some side roads in Unity near the airport in order to accommodate the air show.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.


Philadelphia house fire claims lives of 2 children, 1 woman
Philadelphia house fire claims lives of 2 children, 1 woman
Washington Twp. officer exposed to drug, given Narcan

By Madasyn Czebiniak

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 4:03 p.m.


A Washington Township police officer was given Narcan and taken to a Monroeville hospital early Sunday morning after coming into contact with suspected heroin, fentanyl or both, the department said.

The incident happened just before 12:30 a.m. on Route 356 near Reservoir Road.

Washington Township Sgt. Vincent Surace said officers were sent to the scene for a one-vehicle crash and found the driver intoxicated. The driver was identified as Travis Ross, 34, of Leechburg. He was placed under arrest by Officer Kenneth Sebastian for DUI.

A second officer, who Surace declined to name, had reached into Ross' vehicle to get his license when he was exposed to the substance.

According to Surace, the officer began to feel burning in his chest and developed a rapid heartbeat. Medics rushed to the scene and administered two doses of Narcan, an opioid-overdose antidote, before taking the officer to Forbes Regional Hospital, where he was treated and released.

The officer “is doing well at this time,” Surace said, adding he couldn't say how the drug got into the officer's system.

In addition to DUI, Ross faces charges of resisting arrest, possession of a controlled substance and summary citations.

The investigation is still pending, Surace said.

As the Tribune-Review reported last week , a police officer in East Liverpool, Ohio — about 25 miles north of Steubenville and a five-minute drive from the Pennsylvania border — overdosed this month when he patted down a man who was covered in fentanyl powder.

Patrolman Chris Green was assisting with a May 12 arrest of a man with suspected drugs in his car. Green patted the man down, not realizing until after that fentanyl powder was on the man's shirt. Finding powder on his own shirt, Green used his hand to brush it off.

Within seconds, he was overdosing. It took four doses of Narcan to revive him completely.


Man rescued from treehouse in Penn Township
Erie paratrooper, now 92, a 'true American hero'
Erie paratrooper, now 92, a 'true American hero'
Allegheny Valley Hospital's new top doctor looks to reduce costly readmissions

By Wes Venteicher

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:10 p.m.


Allegheny Valley Hospital's new chief medical officer faces a task that might seem counterintuitive: keeping people out of the hospital.

Dr. Suzanne Labriola, who took the job in April, oversees the hospital's efforts to help patients stay healthy after they leave the hospital so they can avoid costly return trips.

By scheduling rapid follow-up appointments with patients' doctors, making sure they fill prescriptions and ensuring they understand their medical needs, the hospital is trying to provide a more consumer-focused service than in the past, Labriola said.

“We're really following the patients beyond the walls of the hospital,” she said.

The hospital's transition to what is known as value-based care follows broader trends in the health care industry and within Allegheny Health Network.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services penalizes hospitals for allowing too many preventable readmissions, infections and other avoidable problems. Insurers, including AHN owner Highmark Inc., are pursuing the same goals, forcing hospitals to rethink how they provide treatment.

Labriola has worked at AHN hospitals for nine years and has focused on hospital quality as a hospitalist at Allegheny General, AGH Suburban, Forbes, West Penn and Canons­burg hospitals.

She became board-certified in palliative medicine because its focus on end-of-life issues afforded her the ability to pursue what she says is the part of medicine she likes best — working closely with patients and their families.

“It gives you opportunities to really understand what patients' goals are and help them develop a plan with their primary care doctors and subspecialties to reach those goals,” she said.

Labriola, 39, lives in Ross Township. Her father owns Labriola's Italian Markets. She has two sisters, both surgeons, and a brother, who she expects will take over the family business her grandfather founded.

She graduated from Fox Chapel Area High School, Duke University and Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh. She replaced Dr. Margaret Meals, who retired.

For years, Allegheny Valley has focused on reaching out to the community through educational efforts such as updating people on Lyme disease and screening for diabetes at workplaces, said Bill Englert, the hospital's CEO.

Labriola joins the hospital's leadership as it expands the role of nurses to include home visits and checkups on patients, to set them up with services such as Meals on Wheels, if needed, and provide health coaching, Englert said.

Allegheny Valley's 40-mile-wide service area requires the hospital to partner with a lot of doctor's offices, nursing homes, testing labs and other health care facilities to provide care close to home, he said. The hospital has about 40,000 emergency department visits per year, including many Medicare and Medicaid patients, he said.

Englert said Labriola became a candidate for the job because people who had worked with her kept recommending her.

“They gave me her name and said, ‘you've got to interview her. And I did, and they were right,” he said.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676 or wventeicher@tribweb.com.


Memorial Day 100 Run honors service members, first responders

By Joe Napsha

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 4:27 p.m.


Daniel Kelly of North Huntingdon had a homecoming of sorts on Saturday at the 14th Quartermaster Detachment Memorial in Carbon, meeting up with fellow members of the Marine Corps Reserve's 3rd Battalion 25th Regiment who fought together in Iraq and lost 48 comrades in intense fighting in Al Anbar Province.

“It's nice. I get to see everybody,” said Kelly, 37, who was among the runners participating in the Memorial Day 100 Run from the Army Reserve headquarters to the Avenue of 444 Flags in Hermitage, Mercer County. The run was organized to honor their fallen comrades as well as the sacrifices of first responders and to raise funds for various veterans organizations.

Kelly, a construction company owner, participated in memory of Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, a native of Arlington Heights in Pittsburgh who was killed in 2005. About 30 runners — several veterans of the 3rd Battalion 25th Regiment plus family and friends — signed up to complete the 100-mile relay in pairs running five miles at a time.

They expected to reach their destination by about 7 a.m. Sunday.

“We were friends. We worked together at Kennywood” amusement park, Kelly said of Goodrich.

Kelly was joined by two young Norwin High School graduates: Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Ridgeway and Kelly's younger brother, Dylan Francis, who is waiting to join the Marines when a slot opens for a combat engineer.

Before runners started in Hempfield Township, Oscar Aguilera of Plum, one of the organizers and a member of the 3rd Battalion 25th Regiment, told them that “today is about educating everyone out here” about the significance of Memorial Day — that it is more than a day for picnics.

“We're doing it for everybody who came before us,” Aguilera said.

Mike Heller of Ohio Township, Allegheny County, said he was running for fellow Marine reservist Lance Cpl. Ryan Kovacicek, 22, of Canonsburg, who was killed in July 2005.

“It's been weighing on our hearts for a long, long time. We're remembering their sacrifice for what we have,” said Heller, who wore a gray shirt with Kovacicek's name and the logo “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.”

Kelly said it was important for him to make the run.

“We have that brotherhood,” he said.

The run was started by members of the Reserve unit based in Moundsville, W.Va., in 2010 as a way of honoring the 48 reservists killed and the 150 Marines who were wounded in combat. The regiment is composed of Marines and corpsmen primarily from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia.

“We decided to do something productive to honor our fallen, to embrace the future by empowering our veteran community, so we started this Memorial Day 100 Run,” said Courtney Selma Ryan, a family member of the 3rd Battalion 25th Regiment and vice president of the Memorial Day 100 Run.

Their efforts over the past eight years have raised more than $140,000 for veterans' organizations.

As a light rain fell at noon Saturday, the group left the 14th Quartermaster Detachment Memorial, which is dedicated to the 13 members of the Army Reserve unit who were killed on Feb. 25, 1991, when a Scud missile launched from Iraq hit the barracks in Dhahran where the water purification unit was staying.

“This hits home,” Kelly said of starting the relay run at the memorial for fellow reservists who died in a fight against Iraq.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.


For Pa. lawmakers, 2016 just kept on giving
Police search for driver who crashed into Natrona Heights house

By Valley News Dispatch

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 2:00 p.m.


Harrison police are searching for a man who they say crashed into the back of an unoccupied house in Natrona Heights Sunday morning and then fled the scene.

The incident happened just before 6 a.m. at 1419 Dallas Avenue, according to Harrison police Sgt. Michael Ropelewski.

The vehicle involved is registered to Robert Springer Jr., 27, whose last known address is in Arnold, Ropelewski said. Police believe Springer was the driver.

The vehicle was headed east on Burtner Road when it went through a yard and struck the house, which sustained minor damage, Ropelewski said. Springer fled, and his vehicle was eventually towed.

Officers found blood in the vehicle but didn't know the extent of injuries the driver may have sustained.

Charges could be pending, Ropelewski said.


Family members convey Flight 93 victims' legacy to next generation

By Debra Erdley

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 4:24 p.m.


Ken Nacke and Ed Root were on the road again Saturday morning retracing a trek they've made many times.

Their destination: Stoneycreek Township, Pa.

Their goal: to keep the memory of the 40 passengers and crew members of United Flight 93 who died preventing hijackers from crashing the jetliner into the nation's capital the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, alive for another generation.

Nacke, whose brother Louis “Joey” Nacke, 42, was a passenger, and Root, whose cousin Lorraine Grace Bay, 58, was a flight attendant, said telling the stories of their loved ones over Memorial Day weekend at the Flight 93 National Memorial was a labor of love and a duty of remembrance.

It was yet another opportunity to tell how ordinary people — sons, daughters, fathers, mothers — who came together by chance on what should have been a cross-country flight, died American heroes.

“We need to honor the heroes of Flight 93 because who knows what the country would look like today if that flight had hit its intended target,” said Nacke, a Baltimore homicide detective.

For visitors such as Jim Silver, who came from Canonsburg to the memorial with his sons, Ryan, 13, and Jim Jr., 17, it was a chance to personally connect with history.

“Every teacher every year has a different take on how they want to teach it. Each tackles it his or her own way. This is different,” the elder brother said, gazing around the Flight 93 Memorial Center where about 120 visitors gathered to hear Nacke and Root — the inaugural participants in a speakers series this summer that will feature different participants each month through August.

Nacke, who was one of the first members of his family to visit the crash site, talked of how his brother, the eldest of four Nacke children, acted as a protector to his younger siblings as “number one son” and of his generosity to others.

“Anytime he saw anyone panhandling on a street corner, he'd give them a couple of dollars. He just had a big heart,” Nacke said of the brother, who had a Superman logo tattooed on his upper arm.

He was an athlete, a great student and a role model for his younger brother as the family grew up in towns like Olean, N.Y., and Monroeville.

Root, an only child, said he and his cousin — also an only child — became close sharing holidays as they grew up in eastern Pennsylvania and later as adults.

“She was the cool big sister I never had,” he said.

She was the “card lady,” the woman who always remembered friends and family members with a birthday card.

“Even after Sept. 11, people received cards she'd mailed on her way to the airport that day,” Root said.

After her death, Root said he and Bay's husband found cards purchased months in advance labeled for specific family members when they sorted through her closets.

Root and Nacke were active for years with local residents who joined the family members and the National Park Service in the decade-long effort to get the memorial built.

The final piece of the memorial, a massive Tower of Voice with 40 wind chimes, is scheduled to be dedicated next year.

For now, family members such as Root and Nacke are the voices of loved ones lost. Nacke said the Tower will add to their stories.

“What my mom thinks is it's kind of fitting. When the wind blows, you hear this music. You'll hear their voices,” he said.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996, derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.


Cheswick's years of missed pension payments may come home to roost

By Brian C. Rittmeyer

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


Cheswick may have to put off some planned projects as the borough works to make up years of missed contributions to its pension funds.

Resurfacing of Pine Avenue may not get done this year as a result, Borough Secretary Andy Bock said.

Susan Cellio bought her house on Pine in 1999. The road is bumpy in places and has been patched in others.

“It's not in bad shape. It would be nice to have it redone,” Cellio said. “I wouldn't be upset if they didn't do it. If they could do it, that would be great.”

The state auditor general faulted Cheswick for not making required contributions to both its police and nonuniform employee pension funds for 2014 and 2015.

According to the audits, the borough owes about $267,000, plus interest, for those two years.

The borough also did not make contributions for 2016, according to Bock, who is the pension fund administrator. That year has not yet been audited and it is not known how much is owed for last year.

The Auditor General's Office has warned Cheswick it could lose state aid for the pensions if they are not made whole.

Auditor general spokeswoman Susan Woods said that the office had not yet heard from the borough.

How much interest will add to the total due was unknown. Woods said the borough will calculate the interest due and the state will verify the amount.

In a letter to residents, council President Paul Jack said that the borough temporarily stopped payments into the funds while a number of incorrect assumptions and calculations that would have resulted in unnecessarily high payments were being corrected.

The corrections will save taxpayers about $35,000 annually, Jack said in the letter.

Bock said he has calculated how much the borough owes for 2014 through this year; those figures are being reviewed before being sent to the state, he said.

The goal, Bock said, is to have the pension contributions resolved next year.

In an interview, Jack said borough council has not yet decided if it will have to postpone paving planned for this year.

“We know which projects we would cut if we got to the point of having to cut anything,” he said.

In the audits, in addition to issues with the calculations, the borough told the state it had not paid the pension contributions because it was short on funds due to problems with its water billing system. As a result, it had to transfer money to cover the costs of water, which it buys from Harmar.

But that explanation doesn't add up with Pine Avenue resident Ron Linderman, who sees a lot of money going into the borough from a $35 administrative fee residents pay on their water bills every quarter.

“Where's all this money going? That's what I'd like to know,” Linderman said.

Linderman has lived on Pine, a street lined with similar mining houses, for nearly 40 years.

“It's been over 20 years since they've done this road,” he said. “Everybody wants this street done, but we can't get it done.”

Marilyn Collie of Cheswick was visiting her mother on Pine Avenue last week. She said a lot goes into budgeting, and she's not sure she buys the borough's explanations.

“I do believe our policemen are very important. They should have their pensions,” she said. “It's a shame it comes down to a choice between those who should have their pensions and a decent road.”

In the letter to residents, Jack said that the borough's finances are “in very good shape.”

“Council and (Bock) take very seriously their obligations to its police and non-uniform pension funds, and will not jeopardize the benefits our borough employees have earned,” the letter states.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.


Pennsylvania aims to smooth ex-convicts' path to employment
Group says Butler-Freeport Community Trail closures not being relayed to users

By Tom Yerace

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


The Butler-Freeport Trail repaving project has sparked some communications and safety concerns that Buffalo Township officials are trying to resolve.

Members of the Butler-Freeport Community Trail Association raised concerns about keeping trail users informed about when portions of the trail are to be shut down.

Chris Ziegler of Jefferson Township, association president, and member Debbie Swettenam of South Buffalo, pointed out to township officials Wednesday that the schedule posted on the township's website already changed when work did not begin this week as posted.

They said they are concerned about trail users going out early thinking no work is scheduled on a particular section and then work crews coming in afterward. Ziegler questioned whether trail users would be able to get back to their cars or might encounter hazards because of the construction.

“I would not go by the schedule on the township website if I were you,” Supervisor Ron Zampogna advised them.

Township Supervisors Chairman John Haven said the township does not set the schedule. He said that's something PennDOT works out with its contractor for the project, J.E. Lee Contracting of Meadville.

According to Haven, PennDOT provided a $760,000 grant for the multicommunity project, which PennDOT is overseeing. He said 10 to 11 miles of the 21-mile trail are being repaved as part of the project, which is expected to be completed Aug. 17.

The project area extends from Herman in Summit Township south through Jefferson, Winfield, Buffalo and South Buffalo townships and Freeport.

“He's only working on one section of the trail at a time,” Haven said. “While he is working on that section of trail, the whole rest of the trail is open.”

Haven said weather might affect the work schedule and create changes.

But Zeigler said the section that is closed at any one time is not the issue it's communicating the closures to people who are affected.

“I just want people to know it's being done,” Ziegler said. “It's just safer for everyone, including the contractor, that everyone knows.”

Solictor Larry Lutz concurred.

“From a legal standpoint, it is really important for us to inform people that they not be on the trail when they shouldn't be on the trail,” Lutz said.

Township officials have agreed to contact the contractor about communicating which parts of the trail definitely will be worked on the day before.

Haven said that communication probably would be through the township office staff, who would relay it to the trail association.

Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.


Greensburg Salem High School to offer 3 daily meals

By Jacob Tierney

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


For the first time, Greensburg Salem High School will offer students three square meals a day.

Starting in the 2017-18 school year, students will be able to take sandwiches, salads and other quick grab-and-go meals after school, all for free, said Kelly Patterson, regional manager for The Nutrition Group, the company that runs the district's food-service program.

The dinners will join the school's existing breakfast and lunch offerings.

“It's huge for some of these kids to be able to have three meals, especially with their busy activities in the evenings,” Greensburg Salem Food Service Director Denise Grandinetti said.

The meals will not impact the budget, because the district will be reimbursed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Child and Adult Care Food Program, Patterson said.

In order to qualify for the federal funds, at least 50 percent of a district's students must qualify for free or reduced-cost meals through the National School Lunch Program.

Greensburg Salem recently met this requirement, Patterson said.

“Certainly, this year they do qualify, and we wanted to go ahead and provide that for them,” she said.

The Nutrition Group already provides dinners at other area school districts, including Jeannette City, Mt. Pleasant Area and Yough.

“It's just been a really positive program for the districts that participate,” Patterson said. “The students are very happy to be able to grab something to eat.”

Schools must offer after-school activities to qualify for the program, but students do not need to be enrolled in these activities to get a meal. All students can eat free without filling out an application, regardless of their financial status or participation in after-school activities.

This has worked well at other districts, Patterson said.

“The athletic department and people who have after-school activities have been very accommodating to the program. They've pushed the start time back a little bit so that students have something to eat, so they're not just eating a bag of chips or whatever on their way to practice,” she said.

For now, the Greensburg Salem dinner program will be offered only at the high school, not at the middle school or three elementary schools.

Jeannette City School District Superintendent Matthew Hutcheson said the dinner program has been successful for the past three years, but it won't be making a return in September.

“We were serving between 80 to 120 students each night as part of the program,” he said.

However, Jeannette offered dinner in conjunction with a separate federally funded after-school program. The board opted not to continue its involvement with that program, so the dinner service will end along with it, Hutcheson said.

Greensburg Salem's dinner service will be tied to a variety of after-school activities, including sports and clubs, rather than a single program.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.


Rachel Carson Homestead hosts party for conservationist's 110th birthday

By Madasyn Czebiniak

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 7:12 p.m.


Noted marine biologist, conservationist and author Rachel Carson may have penned the book “Silent Spring,” but there was nothing silent on Saturday at the humble Springdale home where she gained her sense of wonder and love of nature.

The sounds of chirping birds harmonized with the soulful voice of Joyce Rouse, also known as “Earth Mama,” as visitors mingled and perused Carson's childhood home in honor of her 110th birthday.

The party, cake included, was thrown by the Rachel Carson Homestead Association, which tries to do something special for Carson's birthday every year.

The association teaches people about Carson and why she was important in addition to preserving, maintaining and restoring the homestead, said Jeanne Cecil, volunteer executive director.

“The house and the grounds are a destination for people who know and admire her,” Cecil said. “Part of her story is the fact that a young girl who grew up in very modest means was able to change the world. The power of one voice is really something that Rachel exemplified.”

Carson was born in Springdale on May 27, 1907, and died April 14, 1964, in Silver Spring, Md., after a long battle with breast cancer.

She is considered the founder and inspiration for the modern environmental movement, and her works are credited with the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and legislation such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, Cecil said.

Among Carson's long list of accomplishments were her books, including her prize-winning study of the ocean “The Sea Around Us” and “Silent Spring,” which warned of the long-term effects of misusing pesticides.

“When you know what a famous, world-renowned figure she is, and her impact is still relevant today, people are really honored to be part of it, part of helping to do something at the homestead and honor her legacy,” Cecil said.

Betty Wilson, a first-time visitor to the homestead, was impressed with Carson's achievements. She specifically highlighted a stamp designed after Carson and Carson's Presidential Medal of Freedom, which she was posthumously awarded in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter.

“She's famous for trying to keep the disinfectants away from many things,” Wilson, 86, of Plum said.

Rouse, who fittingly wore Earth-shaped earrings during her performance, was also a first-time visitor.

The 62-year-old said Carson has shaped not only her life but also her academic and musical work. She originally went to school for home economics education, but her real passion was music, particularly music for the Earth.

Because she wanted to make sure she had the science right in the songs she composed, she went back to school and earned a master's degree in Earth literacy. The additional schooling gave Rouse the chance to learn more about Carson, whom she admires for a litany of reasons.

In fact, two of her songs were written in honor of Carson.

“There's a song, ‘Standing on the Shoulders,' that was the official theme song of the 75th anniversary of women's suffrage,” said Rouse, who lives in Independence, Va. “I like to remind people that Rachel was one of my heroes and heroines that was in that song when I wrote it.”

Evelyn George, one of the original founders of the homestead association, said if Carson were alive today, her work would likely focus on pesticides; she would continue with what she had been doing, but on a bigger scale.

“She'd say we have a lot of work to do,” George, 92, of Plum said.

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4702, mczebiniak@tribweb.com or on Twitter @maddyczebstrib.


Newsmaker: Tay Waltenbaugh
Alle-Kiski Valley CPR pioneers to be honored

By Emily Balser

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 12:26 a.m.


Doug Kupas still remembers the first time he took an EMT class from Bob and Mary Kepics.

It was 1981 and Kupas was just 17 years old. Little did he know that this class would not only set the way for the rest of his career, but a lifelong friendship with Gilpin residents Bob, 83, and Mary, 81.

“The first class he came in and he had this incredibly gaudy tie on and started to talk and then said something like, ‘nobody's paying attention — you're all staring at my tie,'” Kupas said. “He took a pair of trauma shears out of his pocket and cut his tie off.”

Kupas, originally from Allegheny Township, took those initial skills learned from Bob and went on to become a doctor. He now works as the EMS medical director for the state Department of Health.

As emergency medical personnel were honored across the state for EMS Week this week, many with roots in the Alle-Kiski Valley are paying homage to the couple who they call pioneers in the field.

Bob and Mary Kepics began teaching first-aid classes when they became certified after one of their young children was burned with hot water.

After his son recovered from the accident, Bob decided he wanted to be prepared for any future accidents his five children may have.

“I said ‘we can't let his happen again. … I'm going to take a first-aid class,' ” he said.

And from there he, and eventually Mary, started teaching others in the early 1970s.

Bob was the 139th person to become certified as an EMT in the state. Now, there are hundreds of thousands who have become certified, Kupas said.

During this time, there was no 911 or ambulance services as there are today.

Most patients were transported in the back of the local funeral home's hearse. There was no care provided until they reached the hospital.

Dr. Kupas said, “It's people like them that saw the light and saw the reason why additional education, training, care and treatment was important, instead just being a vehicle to stick somebody in the back and drive someone to the hospital.”

Bob Kepics saw an opportunity to improve those services and started teaching EMT courses.

He was instrumental in creating the Lower Kiski Ambulance Service.

“These people — we touched their lives,” Bob Kepics said. “That's really what motivated us.”

Parks Township resident Brenda Coulter-Milliman, 54, first met the Kepics when she took their first-aid class as a 12-year-old. She went on to be a paramedic and eventually a registered nurse.

“Anybody who had the opportunity to know them and to be trained by them is certainly a better person because of them,” Coulter-Milliman said.

State Police Capt. Steve Ignatz, 54, also took his first class with the Kepics when he was 12.

“Bob sort of took me under his wing,” Ignatz said.

Kepics used to take Ignatz to work with him at the old Rainbow Control in Vandergrift, where emergency calls were dispatched before the 911 system was put into place.

“He used to take me up there on Sundays,” he said. “I'd just sit there and listen to the police radios.”

Ignatz said he owes his career to Bob and Mary.

“They are just the most wonderful people anyone could ever meet,” he said.

Bob, who still works as an Armstrong County deputy coroner, said his proudest accomplishment in his career is a happy one.

“I delivered three babies,” he said, smiling from ear-to-ear.

After raising five kids and training hundreds of people in first-aid, CPR and EMT classes, Bob and Mary still remain active in the community and emergency response field.

“63 years, but I'd do it all over again,” Bob said, looking at Mary.

“That's for sure,” Mary said.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4680, emilybalser@tribweb.com or via Twitter @emilybalser.


Pending state legislation would block Pa. municipalities from banning or taxing plastic bags

By Kevin Zwick

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


Brisk breezes commonly send plastic grocery bags zipping across roads or fluttering in trees and bushes.

That aspect of the litter problem in Pennsylvania isn't likely to go away, thanks to pending legislation in Harrisburg that one environmental group called a “favor” to the plastic industry.

“Recycling is, and has always been, the last resort to deal with trash,” said Logan Welde, a staff attorney with the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council. “Our first priority should be to reduce the use. Adding a small, reasonable fee for a harmful, yet useful, product is reasonable.”

That soon might not be allowed in Pennsylvania.

The state Senate will consider a measure passed last month by House lawmakers 102-87 that would thwart efforts by environmental organizations and allies in Harrisburg who want to discourage consumer use of the bags — efforts that included failed legislation that would have imposed a 2-cent tax for each single-use bag at a grocery store.

Such taxes or other disincentives no longer will be allowed under the bipartisan House bill, HB1071, that is essentially a first strike against efforts by local governments to impose a fee, tax or ban on single-use plastic bags.

According to the Plastic Bag Ban Report, a national advocacy group, more than 150 local governments across the country — from San Francisco to Austin, Texas, to New York City — have passed legislation regarding single-use plastic bags.

The two main sponsors of the Pennsylvania bill represent districts with major plastics manufacturers that employ hundreds of workers. Gov. Tom Wolf opposes the measure, a spokesman said.

Pittsburgh City Council urged lawmakers to vote against the bill. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who serves as president of the Pennsylvania Municipal League, also opposes the measure because it preempts local autonomy.

“Mayor Peduto respects the desires of elected officials to protect jobs in their districts,” said Tim McNulty, the mayor's spokesman. “But he also opposes any effort to pre-empt cities from making their own decisions on legislation.”

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, a Greensburg-based organization, hasn't taken a position on the bill.

“As local communities and the state work to determine the best way to manage single-use plastic bags, (we) will continue to promote the three R's: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle single-use plastic bags,” Shannon Reiter, the group's president, said via email.

Reiter of North Huntingdon said Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is educating consumers about the importance of recycling the bags, including working with grocers to promote various recycling programs.

Waste Management, the trash and recycling hauler for Greensburg, also hasn't taken a position, a spokesman said.

Ellen Keefe, executive director of Westmoreland Cleanways and Recycling, said plastic bags are not managed properly.

“There's a lot of ways to properly dispose of a plastic bag,” Keefe said, pointing to supermarkets that have recycling bins for customers to bring back bags.

Jobs over environment

Two prime sponsors of the legislation — Democratic Whip Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton, and Bucks County GOP Rep. Frank Farry — represent districts with plastics manufacturers. One of the main drivers of support for the legislation is jobs at companies such as Novolex, the world's largest manufacturer of single-use plastic bags with more than 7,000 employees across the country. That includes 500 workers at its Hilex Poly plant in Centre County — Hanna's district.

House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, supported the bill after hearing from Hanna.

“While he understands the desirability of cutting the use of plastic bags overall, he didn't want to put those people's livelihood at risk,” said Bill Patton, Dermody's spokesman.

Aside from direct jobs at plastics manufacturers, Keefe also pointed to downstream industries, including companies such as Virginia-based Trex Lumber, which uses recycled plastic bags to make deck products.

“They use tons and tons and tons of it a year,” she said. “There's definitely a beneficial use for plastic bags.”

“It's valuable stuff,” said Billy Johnson, chief lobbyist for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, a recycling industry trade group. “We don't want to see it buried or blowing around the streets. We want to see it being recycled and turned into a commodity-grade material for really great products.”

“Please take the stuff back to the store and get it back into the circulation,” he added.

Allegheny CleanWays doesn't have a position on the legislation but said recycling isn't good enough when dealing with plastic bags. The organization has supported bans or taxes on their use as a way to generate revenue to address illegal dumping and other blight issues.

“Single-use plastic bags are a major source of litter throughout Allegheny County,” said Myrna Newman, executive director of Allegheny CleanWays. “They clog storm drains, are an eyesore and are harmful to wildlife. We find them by the thousands each year — at every dump site, in the rivers and creeks and caught in the trees and other vegetation. They are mostly photodegradable but appear to never fully decompose. They just break down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic.”

It takes 10 to 20 years for the sun to break down plastic bags, but they become more brittle, making cleanup almost impossible, she said.

“Recycling plastic bags is good, but not enough,” Newman said. “Most of the estimated 100 billion plastic bags used each year never get recycled. Those that do generally end up as recycled lumber that has to be landfilled at the end of its life.”

Newman said her organization would like to see a reduction in all single-use products.

Kevin Zwick is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2856, kzwick@tribweb.com or on Twitter @kevinjzwick.


New Kensington-Arnold preliminary budget passed; final vote June 22

By Matthew Medsger

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 12:26 a.m.


Property owners in the New Kensington-Arnold School District likely won't be paying more in property taxes next school year.

The school board passed a preliminary budget Thursday night that would keep the district tax rate at 83.27 mills.

For a property in the district assessed at $15,000, the tax bill would continue to be $1,249.

The budget projects about $37.7 million in revenue but nearly $38.6 million in expenditures. That's an increase in spending over the school year that's ending of about $1.6 million.

The remaining deficit, about $875,000, will be offset by the district's projected fund balance of around $1.5 million, leaving just $660,000 of that balance going forward.

Superintendent John Pallone said that this small balance is far below what the state recommends, something he said indicates how strapped for cash the district is.

“The notable component here is that our fund balance is only 1.7 percent of our total budget and it is highly recommended that we have a 5 percent fund balance, which would be $1.9 million. So we're $1.3 million short of our recommended balance,” Pallone said.

According to Jeff McVey, director of administrative services, the cost of district special education services has increased by $330,000, projected federal funding is expected to be down 12 percent, and state education funding numbers won't be available until early June.

Money issues looming

Despite several years of keeping the tax rate from going up, it is unclear if the district will be able to hold the line on taxes in future years.

First, next school year's budget includes money that will not be available in subsequent budgets.

“This budget includes a one-time injection of $2.365 million from the pension fund to fund pension costs,” McVey said. “Removing that we would be looking at a deficit of $3.2 million.”

Further, most of the district's remaining fund balance heading into the next year represents money from the sale of the Greenwald Elementary School.

McVey also sited lowered property values in the district — a potential cause of future budget shortfalls.

Additionally, the cost of pension contributions has steadily increased in the past 10 years, projected to be up to $1.6 million next school year from $350,000 in 2007-08.

“We're working with a very, very tight budget,” Pallone said.

Teacher furloughs not included in budget

According to Pallone, 37 teachers furloughed in the last month are still included in the budget as of right now, but may not be in the final budget. Pallone said.

Staffing decisions will be made based off of scholastic programing and cannot, by law, be made based on economic decisions.

Pallone also said that the nuances of employee payroll make any savings from furloughed teachers hard to calculate until the deed is done, due to the way the contracting for teachers works.

He also said that one teacher scheduled for furlough may, through other certifications, be eligible to bump another teacher onto the furlough list and that every teacher is paid on a step scale and incurs other, non-salary based costs — meaning the district can't predict savings until an employee is officially let go.

Voting for the proposed 2017-18 budget were board President Bob Pallone, Eric Doutt, Robert Fusia, Ellyse Williams and Liney Glenn.

Board Vice President Pat Petit, Ron Balla, Kathleen Clark and Kristin O'Sullivan were absent.

That budget is available for public examination at the district's administration office is scheduled to be finalized June 22.

Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675, mmedsger@tribweb.com, or on Twitter @matthew_medsger.


Wrongful death lawsuit against Regola might go to trial next year in Westmoreland
High school grads throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley plan careers of service

By Leif Greiss

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 11:50 p.m.


As the Alle-Kiski Valley's high school seniors graduate, some are taking steps to serve their country while pursuing secondary education.

At Springdale High School, of the 78 seniors graduating, eight — about 10 percent — have enlisted for military service.

By comparison, Plum High School, which has a graduating class of 309, has 11 students — about 4 percent — going into military service.

Of the eight Springdale grads, two have been accepted into military academies; Collin Hurley is headed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and Matthew Alese was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.

Of the other six, Benjamin Sowinski, Jonathon Spencer and James Joyce are going into the Navy; Matthew Cicolini and Erik Brannock are going into the Army; and Damian Brand has signed up with the Marines.

Hurley will be joining his older brother, Spencer, who is wrapping up his second year at West Point.

Springdale school counselor Rebecca Dyer said most of the eight didn't know each other well in school but drew closer when they became aware of their military aspirations.

Alese said he's proud to be part of that group and considers them to be friends.

“It's amazing to know and definitely helpful to me that there will be such a large group of people going into the service that have similar experiences to me,” he said.

Hurley said he felt there couldn't be a better group going into the military.

“I think it's an honor and it shows the quality of character of these other gentlemen, that they are willing to make these sacrifices to serve their country and improve themselves and their community.”

Alese said that he had never thought about going into military service until he saw another Springdale graduate who had gone to West Point.

“He had changed; his time at West Point had made him more confident. He had become a stronger person.”

Hurley applied for similar reasons. His brother's appointment to West Point made him realize it was the ultimate way to improve himself and better serve his country.

Alese plans to pursue a position as a surface warfare officer with a nuclear option, where he would be an officer aboard a nuclear powered warship.

Sowinski also is going into the Navy with a nuclear focus.

Hurley said he plans to pursue mechanical engineering with a goal of a helicopter assignment.

Spencer's goal is to become a Navy SEAL.

Similar feelings elsewhere

Graduates from other A-K Valley schools are taking similar steps.

St. Joseph High School senior Thomas Klawinski will attend U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Klawinski said he also was offered ROTC scholarships to Virginia Tech and Penn State.

Klawinski said his sister, Amanda, is already at the Coast Guard Academy. He feels the Coast Guard is closer to police work than other military branches.

Klawinski has been surrounded by police officers his whole life, through his father, Westmoreland County Detective Tom Klawinski, and that inspired him to go into public service.

He already has found public service appealing through the Boy Scouts, in which he achieved Eagle Scout status.

He hopes to pursue a program where he will performs statistical analysis and optimize operational logistics.

At Burrell High School, Ally Spohn has been selected for a full ROTC scholarship to Arizona State University.

“When I checked it and saw I was accepted, I almost cried it was so exciting and fulfilling to know I achieved this,” she said.

Spohn was president of student government and captained both the swim and cross country teams, among other extracurricular activities.

Spohn will be pursuing a bio-medical engineering degree with a goal of becoming a military physician, so that she can help people while serving her country.

“I've wanted to be a doctor since my mom got pregnant with my brother,” Spohn said. “I'd be in the doctor's office with her and I'd see the charts and everything and I knew this is what I wanted to do. I used to walk around with a stethoscope saying ‘I'm gonna be a doctor.' ”

Leif Greiss is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4681 or lgreiss@tribweb.com.


Yukon waste treatment facility reaches settlement with South Huntingdon Twp.

By Joe Napsha

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


South Huntingdon Township reached an out-of-court settlement with the operator of a industrial waste treatment and storage facility in Yukon, putting an end to its most recent legal battle over noxious odors and dust blowing off the property.

In return for getting $67,500 from MAX Environmental Technologies Inc. of Upper St. Clair to settle citations filed last year, South Huntingdon agreed to drop citations filed in the last year, said township Supervisor Richard Gates.

At a hearing last month, representatives of the township and MAX Environmental told Common Pleas Court Judge William Ober that they were postponing the appeal process so they could discuss a settlement of citations South Huntingdon issued in 2016. The company allegedly violated the ordinance prohibiting dust and noxious odors from blowing off its property.

MAX had appealed Norvelt District Judge Roger Eckels' decision in September 2016 to fine the company $67,800 for allowing the dust and odors to waft onto Spring Street homes 101 times from July 2015 to February 2016.

Township officials also agreed to withdraw the citations they filed in January 2017 , alleging that odors and dust blew onto homes on 26 days from February through June 2016. The township wanted a judge to slap MAX Environmental with a $26,000 fine.

It was the fourth time in three years that the township had cited the company, which treats waste from oil and natural gas drilling and acid from steel mill operations. In 2015, Ober fined MAX $10,000 for odor and dust violations the previous year.

The state in September fined MAX Environmental $307,000 for illegally raising the height of a large portion of its landfill and knowingly taking in more waste than permitted.

Since South Huntingdon filed the complaint in January, MAX Environmental's owner, L. William Spencer, sold the facility to Altus Capital Partners II L.P., an investment firm based in Wilton, Conn. Robert Shawver, an executive with 25 years' experience in the environmental industry, was named CEO.

Shawver personally delivered the check to the township offices in Turkeytown, Gates said.

“That's pretty good for a man to do that. Talk is cheap, but he has been a good guy,” Gates said.

Gates said he hopes the new managers will be able to solve the problems impacting the community.

“The people over there deserve a break,” he said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.


Guentzel a possible Penguins scratch with Hornqvist a game-time decision
Will 'dream' with Penguins continue for 40-year-old Cullen?

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 5:42 p.m.


Matt Cullen isn't sure if he wants to play a 20th season in the NHL.

If he does, though, he knows where he wants to do it.

“Not that I can think of,” Cullen said Sunday when asked if he could picture finishing his career with a team other than the Penguins.

“Pittsburgh has been just a perfect fit in all regards for my family and me. Last year, there was a lot about my family and the boys and what a great setup we have. That's been unbelievable. The community's been awesome. For me, the hockey's been unbelievable. It couldn't go any better. You're sitting here in your second Stanley Cup Final in two years, obviously it's been a dream.”

Cullen's three sons, all under age 11, are regulars at the Penguins practice facility in Cranberry, even taking classes there from a tutor. It's a setup that has allowed Cullen to make the last chapter of his hockey career a family affair.

On the ice, Cullen's game has shown little drop-off. Last season, at age 39, he had 32 points. This year, at 40, he recorded 31. When the Stanley Cup Final opens Monday night, he'll be a key component of the team's fourth line and one of coach Mike Sullivan's most trusted penalty killers.

“It's a tough game. To be able to play this long, I know I've been really blessed,” Cullen said. “I feel fortunate to be here. I really do. Even more so, I feel blessed to feel as good as I do. Our bodies eventually give out on us, but I'm in a position right now where I feel as good as I ever have playing the game. I don't feel like a 40-year-old right now.”

Cullen said he owes some of that to the style the Penguins play. The team places a premium on speed, and that's always been a hallmark of Cullen's game.

“I've learned throughout my career that it's really important where you fit on a team,” Cullen said. “I think of Trevor Daley last year as a great example going to Chicago. It just wasn't a great fit. He's the same player, and he's a great player. He comes here and finds a fit and excels. For me, I understand that part of it. This is a perfect fit for me at this point in my career, the way that we play and the players that we have and the role that I'm used in.”

As far as his retirement decision, Cullen said he'll need a little time after the season is over to mull it over.

“For me, it's a decision that means a lot. It carries a lot of weight,” Cullen said. “I think it deserves some time after the season. When it's all said and done, I'll sit down with my family and decide what's best. I'm 40 here. I understand where the world of hockey is at. I know this could very well be my last chance.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.


Penguins' Daley savors drama-free return to Stanley Cup Final

By Bill West

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 5:54 p.m.


Trevor Daley remembers the 2016 Stanley Cup Final media day as a pity party, and not one he welcomed.

Most of the headlines involving stories about him from that day mentioned his crutches and walking boot, or they emphasized that he held out hope for a return to action in the final against San Jose, even after the Penguins publicly ruled out Daley with the broken left ankle he suffered in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final.

Much to Daley's relief, none of the questions at Sunday's media day at PPG Paints Arena delved into his medical history or status for Monday's Game 1 against Nashville.

“I like this one a little bit better,” Daley said. “There's a chance that (last year's media day) could be totally erased, but yeah, obviously, it was bittersweet. I wanted to be a part of this last year — not this (media) part — but I wanted to be out there on the ice. Obviously injuries happen. That's part of the game. I'm excited that we got back here this fast.”

His 2017 playoff run still involved a health setback, of course. He missed Games 5 and 6 of the Washington series and Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference final with a lower-body injury. But he never lost faith in the Penguins' ability to push through to another Cup Final appearance or in his chances of getting on the ice.

“From the time we beat Tampa last year up to this point, I've been thinking about it I don't know how many times,” Daley said, “but there haven't been many days where I haven't thought about what it'd be like to get back and play in a game. … I don't mind being greedy and (wanting to) have another special summer.”

Scott Wilson's wait for the fun and flurry of media day and the games to follow dated back even further. He suffered a lower-body injury in early March of 2016, just 24 games into his first significant season of involvement with the Penguins. An opportunity to return to the lineup never arose for Wilson, who watched as fellow rookies Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl and Matt Murray secured their places on the Cup while he lacked the necessary requirements for name engraving.

“That was one of the harder things I had to do in my career, watching the guys and just wishing I was out there,” Wilson said. “I felt pretty good about my game right before I got hurt. It's kind of taken me a little bit of time to get back to where I am now. Just trying to take full advantage of the opportunity that I have here. Being here with all of the guys and actually living it is pretty cool.”

With 78 regular-season appearances this season, Wilson is guaranteed to end up on the Cup if the Penguins repeat as champions. But as a winger earning ice time on Evgeni Malkin's wing, he wants considerably more than just a bit role in the series with Nashville.

“I'm trying to do different things this year, and I've kind of just tried to settle in and do what they ask me to do,” Wilson said. “I'm just glad that it's kind of worked out here at the end. I'm still trying to find myself I think a little bit, but I'm definitely happy with where I am throughout this whole year of going through ups and downs. … I've learned so much this year, compared to even last year when I played a little bit. I've been able to think the game a little bit better now, and I'm just trying to roll with it.”

Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.


Q and A: Western Conference scout breaks down the Stanley Cup Final

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 5:24 p.m.


A question-and-answer session with a Western Conference scout breaking down the series between the Penguins and Predators.

Q: How is the Penguins defense corps getting it done without Kris Letang?

A: I have no idea. We talked about it in our meetings. Even last year, I didn't love their D. I didn't love their D this year, and I certainly don't love them when they don't have Letang. Their forwards are so good, and they're so responsible. Their D are just good enough to get the pucks up to them, and they get going. Brian Dumoulin is not a flashy guy, and he doesn't wow you with anything he does but he's a smart guy. I think Ian Cole has really stepped up in the playoffs. He's been really good. (Olli) Maatta, I haven't seen him play well in a year and half. I know he's had injuries, and you wonder if he's ever going to recover from those. To me, his skating always didn't look very good. But he's stepped up. They've all stepped up as a group and collectively done a good job.

Q: What did you think of how Mike Sullivan handled his goalie situation last round?

A: I was surprised. I thought he would go back to (Marc-Andre) Fleury, Fleury would have a bounce-back game and they'd just continue along. (Matt) Murray's their guy, and he's Sullivan's guy, obviously, but I thought it was a pretty gutsy move. With the time off and the groin and how Fleury was great up until that game, to give him the hook and not let him get back in, I didn't know. But you know what? That's why he's a good coach. He has his finger on the pulse of that team. I really think either of those guys could be in there, and they're still where they're at. They're both really good goalies. But when it initially happened, I was like, “Oh boy, this could be a series-changer if it doesn't go the right way.”

Q: How did Nashville get to the Stanley Cup Final?

A: The biggest thing is their top four defense are as good as anybody in the league. They have four guys that go back, get the puck, make one pass and they're gone. Or they skate it out. They push the pace. I think that's the key to their team: those four D and (goalie Pekka) Rinne, especially now with (center Ryan) Johansen out. They've also had a lot of guys really step up, guys like (Colton) Sissons. Austin Watson is hitting everything in sight. Of all the teams, I think they've had more guys step up out of nowhere than anybody.

Q: What about Nashville's forwards? Is that a weakness?

A: (Filip) Forsberg is high, high-end talent. (Viktor) Arvidsson has got a great motor. He never quits. Goes to scoring areas. Good speed. (James) Neal can score goals. But they're not close to Pittsburgh as far as high-end talent up front, especially with their No. 1 center out. To me, that's huge. Losing your No. 1 center, playing against (Sidney) Crosby, (Evgeni) Malkin and (Nick) Bonino, that, to me, is going to be a big, big loss.

Q: Name someone on Nashville's roster who you think is underrated.

A: I think they're starting to talk about him now, but Mattias Ekholm. To me, he's a really good defenseman underrated because of where he plays. (Shea) Weber was there. (Ryan) Suter was there. You've got (Roman) Josi, (P.K.) Subban, (Ryan) Ellis. This guy, he's always kind of the No. 4 guy, but on a lot of teams, he'd be a top-pairing guy. He's big. He can skate. He defends well. He moves the puck. These playoffs have been a coming out for him.

Q: How about an underrated player on the Penguins roster?

A: Carter Rowney. He's really stepped up his game. He's the type of guy that, when he plays in the AHL, he's a No. 1 center who can produce and do all that, but always responsible defensively, good penalty killer. His physical play in the playoffs has been tremendous. He's involved. He's around the puck. He's been really good. Did I think he could be playing in Game 7 for a Stanley Cup? I'm not sure, but he's come a long way.

Q: Who do you think wins the series?

A: I think it's the Penguins in six. I think Johansen being out is huge. He was really playing well, probably the hardest I've seen him play in a while. It's a big loss. He's a big body, skill on the power play. He can make plays. I don't know how you replace that. The goaltending, Rinne's been the best goalie in the playoffs, so you have to give them a slight edge there but we all know what Murray can do. Defense, it's a clear edge for Nashville. Even their 5-6 guys have played well. But I think the forward group for Pittsburgh is too high end and too deep. I worry about Nashville's depth up front now.


Gorman: Penguins poised for Cup repeat
In Letang's prolonged absence, Dumoulin's stature increases among Penguins defensemen

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 8:24 p.m.


Penguins defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Trevor Daley have a ritual they perform before games.

They pull an energy drink out of a cooler and, before chugging it, pour a little bit into a locker-room garbage can in honor of the teammates who couldn't be with them that night, whether because of trade, injury or other circumstances.

When Dumoulin poured some for Kris Letang at the beginning of April, when the Penguins found out their top defenseman was done for the season because of neck surgery, he couldn't have known the position he would be in two months later.

When the Penguins open the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators on Monday night, they will do so with Dumoulin as their de facto No. 1 defenseman.

“If you look at last year in playoffs, it was kind of like Kris Letang,” Dumoulin said, holding his hand up near his chin, “and the rest of us,” he concluded, pushing his hand down near his waist.

“I don't think that's the case right now. Whatever role you're asked to do, whatever opportunity is there, I'm not going to be the offensive guy Kris Letang was. I don't think anyone in our lineup is going to be. For me, it's just kind of go out there and take a next-shift approach and try to play my best. Not look ahead. Not try to do too much. Just play like I have.”

Ultimately, it's probably not fair to call Dumoulin the team's No. 1 defenseman. The Penguins don't really have one. Their top six players on the blue line average between 19 and 22 minutes per game.

Still, there are indicators that suggest Dumoulin has slightly more responsibility than the others.

Although it's close, he leads the team in ice time, averaging 21 minutes, 55 seconds. He leads the team in short-handed ice time, too, a few seconds ahead of even committed shot blocker Ian Cole. No defenseman on the team has been on the ice for more defensive-zone faceoffs than Dumoulin.

While it's not a role the 25-year-old Maine native has played often in his two-plus years with the Penguins, it's not something unfamiliar to him.

A second-round draft pick who was a key part of the return for the Penguins in the Jordan Staal trade, Dumoulin climbed the hockey ladder with a prominent prospect profile. He was the No. 1 defenseman for most of his three seasons at Boston College and three seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL.

In a lot of ways, he's been groomed to be a lead dog.

“He was always really steady. I remember that,” said winger Conor Sheary, who faced Dumoulin during his college days at UMass. “It was tough to beat him, whether it was one-on-one or off the rush. He's always had a good stick. He's got the kind of lanky body where he's got the long reach and he keeps things to the outside.

“As far as coming to the NHL, I think he's been pretty much the same. He's kind of a guy that goes out there and takes care of business. He doesn't make too many mistakes. He makes the simple play a lot. He's good at breaking the guys out of the zone. I think if he sticks with that, he'll continue his success.”

Results for Dumoulin and the Penguins defense corps have been a mixed bag in the playoffs.

On one hand, none of the team's top six defensemen is in the black when it comes to shot-based stats. On the other hand, the Penguins have the fifth-best goals-against average among the 16 playoff teams, giving up 2.32 per game.

In other words, they are not always pretty, but they usually are effective.

Dumoulin and his comrades on the blue line won't get anywhere near the amount of positive press their counterparts on a star-studded Nashville defense corps will and, frankly, that's perfectly fair.

As long as they stay on the right side of the scoreboard, though, Dumoulin has no problem with that.

“We try to stay level-headed as much as we can,” Dumoulin said. “We know what we are as a ‘D' corps. There's a lot of talk, obviously. We just try to take the same approach as we have been and go from there.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.


Two key hits from Jaso lead Pirates to 10-inning win over Mets

By Rob Biertempfel

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:04 p.m.


Out of the corner of his eye, John Jaso saw Andrew McCutchen approaching with the Gatorade cooler and feared for his dreadlocks.

“I said, ‘Oh, no, you're not getting sugar in my dreads,' ” Jaso said with a laugh. “I would not have been happy. But Cutch knows.”

McCutchen used to wear his hair the same way and realizes what a shower of sports drink would do. So he lowered the cooler gently, produced two plastic cups and raised a toast.

McCutchen saved the dreads. Jaso saved the day.

Jaso's walk-off single in the 10th inning Saturday lifted the Pirates to an improbable 5-4 victory against the New York Mets.

The game-winner was Jaso's first hit off a left-handed pitcher this season — and his first since May 6, 2016.

“Yeah, how about that?” Jaso said. “I had it in my mind, either a walk or a base hit there.”

The Pirates tied the game in the ninth on Jaso's pinch-hit RBI single.

With one out in the 10th, David Freese singled off rookie Tyler Pill, who lost in his MLB debut after being called up from Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday.

McCutchen was hit in the side by an 88 mph fastball. Francisco Cervelli walked to load the bases.

With two outs, lefty Josh Edgin replaced Pill. The first two pitches to Jaso were sliders in the dirt.

“It seemed he was having trouble locating that slider,” Jaso said. “So I put that in my back pocket and stayed on the heater. That's the easier adjustment, stay on the heater and adjust to the slider.”

Jaso worked a full count, fouling off four pitches along the way.

“A very gritty at-bat,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He kept fighting. He finally got a ball that caught a little more of the plate than the ones he fouled off and drilled it.”

The ninth pitch of the at-bat was an 88 mph slider. Jaso recognized it out of Edgin's hand and lined it beyond the reach of right fielder Jay Bruce.

“The longer that at-bat went on, it kind of went to my advantage,” Jaso said.

The late rally was a vindication of sorts for starter Gerrit Cole, who was hit hard in his five innings yet managed to keep the Mets from breaking the game open.

“I bent but didn't break,” Cole said. “I didn't make mistakes in those situations. I made mistakes leading up to those situations, then, fortunately, was able to execute.”

It was the first time Cole served up three home runs in a game. The solo shots by Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud traveled a combined total of 1,289 feet.

Duda's blast cleared the seats in right-center field and crashed onto the concourse.

Over five innings, Cole allowed 10 hits, the most he ever had yielded in a game at PNC Park.

The Mets clubbed nine balls that had exit velocities greater than 100 mph. The hardest hit was d'Arnaud's 110.8 mph double in the fifth inning.

The only righty batter in the Mets lineup, d'Arnaud went 3 for 3 against Cole.

“Too many mistakes. Too many balls leaving the park,” Cole said. “I was falling behind in counts. I've got some work to do.”

Cole was visibly agitated on the mound. After Curtis Granderson walked on a low 3-2 pitch in the fifth, Cole barked something that caught the attention of umpire Cory Blaser.

Blaser took a couple of steps toward the mound, but catcher Francisco Cervelli intervened and kept the peace. Hurdle then had a brief chat with Blaser while Cervelli went to cool off Cole.

“You try to not get frustrated out there and try to go pitch to pitch,” Cole said. “But sometimes those emotions come out.”

It took Cole 98 pitches to get through his five innings. He gave up four runs, walked one and struck out three.

If there was any upside, it was that the damage against Cole could have been much worse. The Mets left eight men on base while he was on the mound.

McCutchen hit a long two-run homer in the second inning, then lined a two-out, RBI double in the sixth to pull the Pirates within 4-3.

Cervelli then rolled an infield single to the left side. Although shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera held onto the ball, McCutchen ignored third-base coach Joey Cora's stop sign and ran toward the plate.

Cabrera threw to catcher d'Arnaud and McCutchen was an easy third out.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.


Gorman: Penguins poised for Cup repeat

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 8:18 p.m.


When the Penguins last played in back-to-back Stanley Cup finals, it was amid talk of becoming the NHL's next dynasty.

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury are the lone holdovers from that team, which lost to Detroit in six games in 2008 and returned to beat the Red Wings in seven in '09.

The five veterans — Penguins legends, really — know what it's like to be mentioned in the same conversation as the 1997-98 Red Wings, '91-92 Penguins, '84-85 and '87-88 Edmonton Oilers, '74-75 Philadelphia Flyers and '68-69 Montreal Canadiens as back-to-back Stanley Cup champions.

“They talk about it. They went to two Cup Finals, then didn't get back to that point until last year, so they know at this point not to take it for granted,” Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin said. “If you're here, you've got to give it your best chance and your best shot. Especially for a lot of us, it's early in our career. You never know if you're going to get back to this point. You never want to let an opportunity slip.”

What followed the '09 Cup was a cruel combination of injuries and illness that led to six consecutive seasons of falling short of returning to the final.

That's why the New York Islanders ('80-83) and Canadiens ('76-79) were left off the list of repeat champions since NHL expansion in '67. Those teams won four consecutive Cup championships and qualify as dynasties.

This time, the Penguins' run isn't about a dynasty but winning another championship.

No wonder the Penguins are avoiding talk about their potential place in history before the start of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators, with Game 1 on Monday night at PPG Paints Arena.

“We don't really look at it as back-to-back,” Crosby said. “There's different guys here, but this is what you work hard for all year — to give yourself a chance to play in this situation. It's not something that happens very often, so it's a great opportunity for us.”

One personified by the presence of defensemen Ron Hainsey, who played 907 NHL regular-season games before experiencing the playoffs, and Mark Streit, a 39-year-old who has never won the Cup.

“It's a great opportunity, and our veteran guys know it,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “They've been around the game a long time, and they understand when they have something special. And we believe we have that with the chemistry of this team. We did it last year, and we're finding ways to do it again this year. But it's hard to win.

“This is the hardest trophy in sports, in my mind.”

That was proven in a most painful way, as the Penguins endured the sobering realization that a dynasty was lost before back-to-back Cups could be won.

That the Penguins are in position to win a second straight championship is a credit to Crosby and their veteran leadership. They showed resiliency and resolve by overcoming injuries to beat Washington and Ottawa in seven games, and can draw upon past playoff shortcomings and the chance to the escape the shadow of their '91 and '92 Penguins predecessors for motivation.

“To be a part of history like that is awesome,” winger Conor Sheary said. “We just want to focus on this year. We don't want to worry too much about whether it's a repeat or going back-to-back. ... The first to four wins, so the ultimate prize is at the end and we want to get there.”

So, given their history, it makes sense the Penguins don't want to talk about winning back-to-back Cup titles.

But, repeat after me, they are poised to do just that.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.


Guentzel a possible Penguins scratch with Hornqvist a game-time decision
Penguins' Daley savors drama-free return to Stanley Cup Final

By Bill West

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 5:54 p.m.


Trevor Daley remembers the 2016 Stanley Cup Final media day as a pity party, and not one he welcomed.

Most of the headlines involving stories about him from that day mentioned his crutches and walking boot, or they emphasized that he held out hope for a return to action in the final against San Jose, even after the Penguins publicly ruled out Daley with the broken left ankle he suffered in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final.

Much to Daley's relief, none of the questions at Sunday's media day at PPG Paints Arena delved into his medical history or status for Monday's Game 1 against Nashville.

“I like this one a little bit better,” Daley said. “There's a chance that (last year's media day) could be totally erased, but yeah, obviously, it was bittersweet. I wanted to be a part of this last year — not this (media) part — but I wanted to be out there on the ice. Obviously injuries happen. That's part of the game. I'm excited that we got back here this fast.”

His 2017 playoff run still involved a health setback, of course. He missed Games 5 and 6 of the Washington series and Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference final with a lower-body injury. But he never lost faith in the Penguins' ability to push through to another Cup Final appearance or in his chances of getting on the ice.

“From the time we beat Tampa last year up to this point, I've been thinking about it I don't know how many times,” Daley said, “but there haven't been many days where I haven't thought about what it'd be like to get back and play in a game. … I don't mind being greedy and (wanting to) have another special summer.”

Scott Wilson's wait for the fun and flurry of media day and the games to follow dated back even further. He suffered a lower-body injury in early March of 2016, just 24 games into his first significant season of involvement with the Penguins. An opportunity to return to the lineup never arose for Wilson, who watched as fellow rookies Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl and Matt Murray secured their places on the Cup while he lacked the necessary requirements for name engraving.

“That was one of the harder things I had to do in my career, watching the guys and just wishing I was out there,” Wilson said. “I felt pretty good about my game right before I got hurt. It's kind of taken me a little bit of time to get back to where I am now. Just trying to take full advantage of the opportunity that I have here. Being here with all of the guys and actually living it is pretty cool.”

With 78 regular-season appearances this season, Wilson is guaranteed to end up on the Cup if the Penguins repeat as champions. But as a winger earning ice time on Evgeni Malkin's wing, he wants considerably more than just a bit role in the series with Nashville.

“I'm trying to do different things this year, and I've kind of just tried to settle in and do what they ask me to do,” Wilson said. “I'm just glad that it's kind of worked out here at the end. I'm still trying to find myself I think a little bit, but I'm definitely happy with where I am throughout this whole year of going through ups and downs. … I've learned so much this year, compared to even last year when I played a little bit. I've been able to think the game a little bit better now, and I'm just trying to roll with it.”

Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.


Will 'dream' with Penguins continue for 40-year-old Cullen?

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 5:42 p.m.


Matt Cullen isn't sure if he wants to play a 20th season in the NHL.

If he does, though, he knows where he wants to do it.

“Not that I can think of,” Cullen said Sunday when asked if he could picture finishing his career with a team other than the Penguins.

“Pittsburgh has been just a perfect fit in all regards for my family and me. Last year, there was a lot about my family and the boys and what a great setup we have. That's been unbelievable. The community's been awesome. For me, the hockey's been unbelievable. It couldn't go any better. You're sitting here in your second Stanley Cup Final in two years, obviously it's been a dream.”

Cullen's three sons, all under age 11, are regulars at the Penguins practice facility in Cranberry, even taking classes there from a tutor. It's a setup that has allowed Cullen to make the last chapter of his hockey career a family affair.

On the ice, Cullen's game has shown little drop-off. Last season, at age 39, he had 32 points. This year, at 40, he recorded 31. When the Stanley Cup Final opens Monday night, he'll be a key component of the team's fourth line and one of coach Mike Sullivan's most trusted penalty killers.

“It's a tough game. To be able to play this long, I know I've been really blessed,” Cullen said. “I feel fortunate to be here. I really do. Even more so, I feel blessed to feel as good as I do. Our bodies eventually give out on us, but I'm in a position right now where I feel as good as I ever have playing the game. I don't feel like a 40-year-old right now.”

Cullen said he owes some of that to the style the Penguins play. The team places a premium on speed, and that's always been a hallmark of Cullen's game.

“I've learned throughout my career that it's really important where you fit on a team,” Cullen said. “I think of Trevor Daley last year as a great example going to Chicago. It just wasn't a great fit. He's the same player, and he's a great player. He comes here and finds a fit and excels. For me, I understand that part of it. This is a perfect fit for me at this point in my career, the way that we play and the players that we have and the role that I'm used in.”

As far as his retirement decision, Cullen said he'll need a little time after the season is over to mull it over.

“For me, it's a decision that means a lot. It carries a lot of weight,” Cullen said. “I think it deserves some time after the season. When it's all said and done, I'll sit down with my family and decide what's best. I'm 40 here. I understand where the world of hockey is at. I know this could very well be my last chance.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.


In Letang's prolonged absence, Dumoulin's stature increases among Penguins defensemen

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 8:24 p.m.


Penguins defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Trevor Daley have a ritual they perform before games.

They pull an energy drink out of a cooler and, before chugging it, pour a little bit into a locker-room garbage can in honor of the teammates who couldn't be with them that night, whether because of trade, injury or other circumstances.

When Dumoulin poured some for Kris Letang at the beginning of April, when the Penguins found out their top defenseman was done for the season because of neck surgery, he couldn't have known the position he would be in two months later.

When the Penguins open the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators on Monday night, they will do so with Dumoulin as their de facto No. 1 defenseman.

“If you look at last year in playoffs, it was kind of like Kris Letang,” Dumoulin said, holding his hand up near his chin, “and the rest of us,” he concluded, pushing his hand down near his waist.

“I don't think that's the case right now. Whatever role you're asked to do, whatever opportunity is there, I'm not going to be the offensive guy Kris Letang was. I don't think anyone in our lineup is going to be. For me, it's just kind of go out there and take a next-shift approach and try to play my best. Not look ahead. Not try to do too much. Just play like I have.”

Ultimately, it's probably not fair to call Dumoulin the team's No. 1 defenseman. The Penguins don't really have one. Their top six players on the blue line average between 19 and 22 minutes per game.

Still, there are indicators that suggest Dumoulin has slightly more responsibility than the others.

Although it's close, he leads the team in ice time, averaging 21 minutes, 55 seconds. He leads the team in short-handed ice time, too, a few seconds ahead of even committed shot blocker Ian Cole. No defenseman on the team has been on the ice for more defensive-zone faceoffs than Dumoulin.

While it's not a role the 25-year-old Maine native has played often in his two-plus years with the Penguins, it's not something unfamiliar to him.

A second-round draft pick who was a key part of the return for the Penguins in the Jordan Staal trade, Dumoulin climbed the hockey ladder with a prominent prospect profile. He was the No. 1 defenseman for most of his three seasons at Boston College and three seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL.

In a lot of ways, he's been groomed to be a lead dog.

“He was always really steady. I remember that,” said winger Conor Sheary, who faced Dumoulin during his college days at UMass. “It was tough to beat him, whether it was one-on-one or off the rush. He's always had a good stick. He's got the kind of lanky body where he's got the long reach and he keeps things to the outside.

“As far as coming to the NHL, I think he's been pretty much the same. He's kind of a guy that goes out there and takes care of business. He doesn't make too many mistakes. He makes the simple play a lot. He's good at breaking the guys out of the zone. I think if he sticks with that, he'll continue his success.”

Results for Dumoulin and the Penguins defense corps have been a mixed bag in the playoffs.

On one hand, none of the team's top six defensemen is in the black when it comes to shot-based stats. On the other hand, the Penguins have the fifth-best goals-against average among the 16 playoff teams, giving up 2.32 per game.

In other words, they are not always pretty, but they usually are effective.

Dumoulin and his comrades on the blue line won't get anywhere near the amount of positive press their counterparts on a star-studded Nashville defense corps will and, frankly, that's perfectly fair.

As long as they stay on the right side of the scoreboard, though, Dumoulin has no problem with that.

“We try to stay level-headed as much as we can,” Dumoulin said. “We know what we are as a ‘D' corps. There's a lot of talk, obviously. We just try to take the same approach as we have been and go from there.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.


Gorman: Penguins poised for Cup repeat
Q and A: Western Conference scout breaks down the Stanley Cup Final

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 5:24 p.m.


A question-and-answer session with a Western Conference scout breaking down the series between the Penguins and Predators.

Q: How is the Penguins defense corps getting it done without Kris Letang?

A: I have no idea. We talked about it in our meetings. Even last year, I didn't love their D. I didn't love their D this year, and I certainly don't love them when they don't have Letang. Their forwards are so good, and they're so responsible. Their D are just good enough to get the pucks up to them, and they get going. Brian Dumoulin is not a flashy guy, and he doesn't wow you with anything he does but he's a smart guy. I think Ian Cole has really stepped up in the playoffs. He's been really good. (Olli) Maatta, I haven't seen him play well in a year and half. I know he's had injuries, and you wonder if he's ever going to recover from those. To me, his skating always didn't look very good. But he's stepped up. They've all stepped up as a group and collectively done a good job.

Q: What did you think of how Mike Sullivan handled his goalie situation last round?

A: I was surprised. I thought he would go back to (Marc-Andre) Fleury, Fleury would have a bounce-back game and they'd just continue along. (Matt) Murray's their guy, and he's Sullivan's guy, obviously, but I thought it was a pretty gutsy move. With the time off and the groin and how Fleury was great up until that game, to give him the hook and not let him get back in, I didn't know. But you know what? That's why he's a good coach. He has his finger on the pulse of that team. I really think either of those guys could be in there, and they're still where they're at. They're both really good goalies. But when it initially happened, I was like, “Oh boy, this could be a series-changer if it doesn't go the right way.”

Q: How did Nashville get to the Stanley Cup Final?

A: The biggest thing is their top four defense are as good as anybody in the league. They have four guys that go back, get the puck, make one pass and they're gone. Or they skate it out. They push the pace. I think that's the key to their team: those four D and (goalie Pekka) Rinne, especially now with (center Ryan) Johansen out. They've also had a lot of guys really step up, guys like (Colton) Sissons. Austin Watson is hitting everything in sight. Of all the teams, I think they've had more guys step up out of nowhere than anybody.

Q: What about Nashville's forwards? Is that a weakness?

A: (Filip) Forsberg is high, high-end talent. (Viktor) Arvidsson has got a great motor. He never quits. Goes to scoring areas. Good speed. (James) Neal can score goals. But they're not close to Pittsburgh as far as high-end talent up front, especially with their No. 1 center out. To me, that's huge. Losing your No. 1 center, playing against (Sidney) Crosby, (Evgeni) Malkin and (Nick) Bonino, that, to me, is going to be a big, big loss.

Q: Name someone on Nashville's roster who you think is underrated.

A: I think they're starting to talk about him now, but Mattias Ekholm. To me, he's a really good defenseman underrated because of where he plays. (Shea) Weber was there. (Ryan) Suter was there. You've got (Roman) Josi, (P.K.) Subban, (Ryan) Ellis. This guy, he's always kind of the No. 4 guy, but on a lot of teams, he'd be a top-pairing guy. He's big. He can skate. He defends well. He moves the puck. These playoffs have been a coming out for him.

Q: How about an underrated player on the Penguins roster?

A: Carter Rowney. He's really stepped up his game. He's the type of guy that, when he plays in the AHL, he's a No. 1 center who can produce and do all that, but always responsible defensively, good penalty killer. His physical play in the playoffs has been tremendous. He's involved. He's around the puck. He's been really good. Did I think he could be playing in Game 7 for a Stanley Cup? I'm not sure, but he's come a long way.

Q: Who do you think wins the series?

A: I think it's the Penguins in six. I think Johansen being out is huge. He was really playing well, probably the hardest I've seen him play in a while. It's a big loss. He's a big body, skill on the power play. He can make plays. I don't know how you replace that. The goaltending, Rinne's been the best goalie in the playoffs, so you have to give them a slight edge there but we all know what Murray can do. Defense, it's a clear edge for Nashville. Even their 5-6 guys have played well. But I think the forward group for Pittsburgh is too high end and too deep. I worry about Nashville's depth up front now.


Penguins defensemen shoulder heavy load in Game 7 victory

By Bill West

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 8:22 p.m.


Kris Letang and Erik Karlsson, two of the NHL's elite defensemen and minute-eating machines, stood in a hallway outside of Ottawa's dressing room and quietly chatted not long after the conclusion of the Penguins' 3-2 double-overtime win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final late Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena.

Down the hallway, a few of the Penguins' healthy defensemen continued to linger in the team dressing room and answer media questions about how they kept their composure and outlasted the frustrating Senators. Letang's name came up here and there in queries and responses. Speculation of how coach Mike Sullivan and his staff might've distributed minutes to defensemen in the 85-minute series finale was saved for another day, though.

How the Penguins secured a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final without the services of their most valuable skater on the back end remains a fascinating topic. Letang, Chicago's Duncan Keith, Los Angeles' Drew Doughty and Boston's Zdeno Chara established a chain of workhorse No. 1 defensemen on Cup winners, and three of the last four teams in the 2017 playoffs possessed at least one bona fide elite blue liner.

Nashville, the Penguins' opponent in the Final, features arguably the best defense corps in the league. Anaheim, the other Western Conference finalist, also had a strong and deep group. And Ottawa thrived as long as it kept Karlsson on the ice — the Senators had a 23-11 edge in five-on-five goals when they sent their star defenseman over the boards.

A Game 7 win in which Olli Maatta, Brian Dumoulin and Ron Hainsey set career highs for ice time served as the latest example of the Penguins defying the narrative that they needed the steadying presence and playing style of Letang, who logged 664 minutes in the 2016 postseason, to make another Stanley Cup push.

“Just being in these situations before, we went into overtime knowing you didn't want to change anything,” said Maatta, whose 31 minutes and 57 seconds of action exceeded his previous career high, set in December of 2013, by almost four minutes. “You don't want to start playing hesitant or be too careful out there. You want to play the same way.”

It's difficult to define exactly what the Penguins defenseman consider normal, familiar or tried-and-true this season. Because of injuries and inconsistency, their pairings changed regularly — Maatta averaged a little more than 18 minutes during the regular season because he spent part of it as a third-pairing option. Ron Hainsey and Mark Streit, left-handed defensemen acquired around the trade deadline, accepted and embraced right-side duties after Letang and later Chad Ruhwedel and Justin Schultz dealt with injuries. Ian Cole, in the lineup for all but one game this season, took nothing for granted.

An acceptance of the idea that all is flux served Cole and his cohorts well Thursday when the Penguins twice squandered leads within minutes of scoring and then watching several pucks hit posts as the team pressed for a winner.

“You'd rather not drag it out,” Cole said, “but with the way that we responded to those close calls and continued to just methodically keep moving forward as a team, it shows the character in this room.”

Karlsson watched Chris Kunitz score the winner from the bench. Letang watched from afar. Schultz, back in the lineup for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury in Game 2 and the Penguins' closest thing to a Letang-esque playmaker, picked up an assist to go with the power-play goal he scored midway through the third period.

“If he's not playing at 100 percent and plays the game like that, I can't wait to see him at 100 percent hopefully in a couple days, because he was special (Thursday),” Cole said of Schultz. “What he does with the puck is, in my mind, second to none.”

One of the last players to speak to the media in the Penguins' dressing room, Schultz shied away from any grandiose conclusions about his return to action and reiterated what he and so many others emphasized at the start of the playoffs, when the idea of a Stanley Cup run sans Letang still struck many fans and media members as a bit of a stretch.

“It's not just one guy,” Schultz said. “Kris Letang is one of the best defenseman in the NHL. Not one of us is going to replace him. It's taken a group effort. We still have one more round to go.”

Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.


Breaking down Penguins-Predators in the Stanley Cup Final

By Jonathan Bombulie and Bill West

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 8:39 p.m.


At first glance, the Nashville Predators, who will face the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final starting Monday night, look like an NHL Cinderella story.

The team with the worst record among the 16 that qualified for the playoffs, the upstart Predators have gone on a storybook postseason run. They engineered a shocking sweep of a powerful Chicago team in the first round, then dispatched St. Louis and Anaheim, energizing a non-traditional hockey market and picking up famous fans, like the country music stars who have been singing the national anthem at their home games, along the way.

A closer look, however, reveals the glass slipper might not fit.

The Predators were one of the preseason favorites to come out of the Western Conference, only giving up that mantle when they got off to a poor start, losing eight of their first 11 games.

Since then, they've been one of the more dangerous teams around, led by an all-star mobile defense corps, a resurgent goaltender and enough offensive threats to bury any opponent who underestimates them.

In other words, the Penguins will have their hands full in the final.

Forwards

Generally overshadowed by Nashville's star-studded blueline, the forward corps creates headaches for opponents with its speed and youthful energy.

Winger Viktor Arvidsson tied for the team lead in regular-season points (61) and goals (31) as a 5-foot-9, 180-pound 23-year-old. He added 10 points through three rounds of the playoffs. Winger Filip Forsberg, 22, and center Colton Sissons, 23, also reached double-digit point totals in the postseason. Forsberg's 15 ranked first among the Predators.

Injuries have wreaked havoc up front for Nashville. Center Ryan Johanson underwent season-ending thigh surgery during the Western Conference finals, and winger Kevin Fiala suffered a broken leg in the second round. Veteran center Mike Fisher, who suffered an injury in Game 4 of the conference final, rejoined the Predators for practice Thursday.

EDGE: A significant advantage for the Penguins. They have four of the top five scoring forwards in the league.

Defensemen

While P.K. Subban commands attention with his elite playmaking and charming personality, he's far from the only headliner on Nashville's blueline.

Roman Josi actually led all defensemen and ranked fourth among the Predators with 49 points (12 goals, 37 assists) in the regular season. Subban followed with 40 points (10-30). Ryan Ellis tallied 16 goals and 22 assists. Mattias Ekholm also cracked the 20-point barrier with three goals and 20 assists.

Those four continued to factor prominently into Nashville's offense in the playoffs as Ellis tallied 11 points through three rounds, and Josi, Subban and Ekholm followed with 10, 10 and eight, respectively.

Less dynamic than Nashville's top two pairs, the third duo of Matt Irwin and Yannick Weber managed to tilt the ice in the Predators' favor.

They move the puck well, so the Penguins will not find it as easy to exploit weak pairings as they did during the previous three rounds.

EDGE: A significant advantage for the Predators. No Penguins defenseman could crack Nashville's top four.

After battling injuries in 2013-14 and a slump that lasted most of last season, there were questions coming into this year about whether 34-year-old Pekka Rinne's days as an elite goaltender in the NHL were over.

They're not.

Goaltending

Rinne has been brilliant in the postseason, recording a 1.70 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.

Of particular note to the Penguins is Rinne's stickhandling ability. If the Penguins have to dump the puck in to combat Nashville's neutral-zone play, they're going to have to deal with Rinne, who plays the puck like a third defenseman.

EDGE: Push. The only goalie with a save percentage better than Rinne in the playoffs is Matt Murray (.946).

Coaching

Peter Laviolette is best known to local fans as the coach of the Flyers team that knocked the Penguins out of the playoffs in a contentious first-round series in 2012. He's a lot more than that.

Laviolette is the fourth coach in NHL history to lead three teams to the Stanley Cup Final, winning a championship for GM Jim Rutherford and the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

On the ice, Laviolette favors a clogging defensive system much like the 1-3-1 that Guy Boucher uses in Ottawa. In the locker room, he's praised by players as a great communicator.

EDGE: Push. Laviolette is one of the game's great coaches, but so is Mike Sullivan. He's won seven straight playoff series.


Penguins-Senators Game 7 sets ratings records for NBCSN
Two key hits from Jaso lead Pirates to 10-inning win over Mets

By Rob Biertempfel

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:04 p.m.


Out of the corner of his eye, John Jaso saw Andrew McCutchen approaching with the Gatorade cooler and feared for his dreadlocks.

“I said, ‘Oh, no, you're not getting sugar in my dreads,' ” Jaso said with a laugh. “I would not have been happy. But Cutch knows.”

McCutchen used to wear his hair the same way and realizes what a shower of sports drink would do. So he lowered the cooler gently, produced two plastic cups and raised a toast.

McCutchen saved the dreads. Jaso saved the day.

Jaso's walk-off single in the 10th inning Saturday lifted the Pirates to an improbable 5-4 victory against the New York Mets.

The game-winner was Jaso's first hit off a left-handed pitcher this season — and his first since May 6, 2016.

“Yeah, how about that?” Jaso said. “I had it in my mind, either a walk or a base hit there.”

The Pirates tied the game in the ninth on Jaso's pinch-hit RBI single.

With one out in the 10th, David Freese singled off rookie Tyler Pill, who lost in his MLB debut after being called up from Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday.

McCutchen was hit in the side by an 88 mph fastball. Francisco Cervelli walked to load the bases.

With two outs, lefty Josh Edgin replaced Pill. The first two pitches to Jaso were sliders in the dirt.

“It seemed he was having trouble locating that slider,” Jaso said. “So I put that in my back pocket and stayed on the heater. That's the easier adjustment, stay on the heater and adjust to the slider.”

Jaso worked a full count, fouling off four pitches along the way.

“A very gritty at-bat,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He kept fighting. He finally got a ball that caught a little more of the plate than the ones he fouled off and drilled it.”

The ninth pitch of the at-bat was an 88 mph slider. Jaso recognized it out of Edgin's hand and lined it beyond the reach of right fielder Jay Bruce.

“The longer that at-bat went on, it kind of went to my advantage,” Jaso said.

The late rally was a vindication of sorts for starter Gerrit Cole, who was hit hard in his five innings yet managed to keep the Mets from breaking the game open.

“I bent but didn't break,” Cole said. “I didn't make mistakes in those situations. I made mistakes leading up to those situations, then, fortunately, was able to execute.”

It was the first time Cole served up three home runs in a game. The solo shots by Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud traveled a combined total of 1,289 feet.

Duda's blast cleared the seats in right-center field and crashed onto the concourse.

Over five innings, Cole allowed 10 hits, the most he ever had yielded in a game at PNC Park.

The Mets clubbed nine balls that had exit velocities greater than 100 mph. The hardest hit was d'Arnaud's 110.8 mph double in the fifth inning.

The only righty batter in the Mets lineup, d'Arnaud went 3 for 3 against Cole.

“Too many mistakes. Too many balls leaving the park,” Cole said. “I was falling behind in counts. I've got some work to do.”

Cole was visibly agitated on the mound. After Curtis Granderson walked on a low 3-2 pitch in the fifth, Cole barked something that caught the attention of umpire Cory Blaser.

Blaser took a couple of steps toward the mound, but catcher Francisco Cervelli intervened and kept the peace. Hurdle then had a brief chat with Blaser while Cervelli went to cool off Cole.

“You try to not get frustrated out there and try to go pitch to pitch,” Cole said. “But sometimes those emotions come out.”

It took Cole 98 pitches to get through his five innings. He gave up four runs, walked one and struck out three.

If there was any upside, it was that the damage against Cole could have been much worse. The Mets left eight men on base while he was on the mound.

McCutchen hit a long two-run homer in the second inning, then lined a two-out, RBI double in the sixth to pull the Pirates within 4-3.

Cervelli then rolled an infield single to the left side. Although shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera held onto the ball, McCutchen ignored third-base coach Joey Cora's stop sign and ran toward the plate.

Cabrera threw to catcher d'Arnaud and McCutchen was an easy third out.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.


Pirates notebook: Taillon to pitch for Altoona

By Rob Biertempfel

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 6:36 p.m.


Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon, who had surgery 19 days ago for testicular cancer, will begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with Double-A Altoona.

Taillon will pitch against the Erie Seawolves at 1:35 p.m. at UPMC Park in Erie. It will be his first game action since May 3, when Taillon gave up six runs in five innings against the Cincinnati Reds.

After that game against the Reds, Taillon told the team's training staff he had discomfort in his groin. He went on the disabled list May 6 and had surgery two days later.

Last Tuesday, Taillon threw a 25-pitch bullpen session at SunTrust Stadium in Atlanta. He ramped up his intensity level in a 35-pitch workout Thursday.

It's not yet clear what pitch or innings limit Taillon will have for his outing with Altoona.

Barring a physical setback, a pitcher's rehab assignment may last no more than 30 days. That means Taillon, who will be monitored via regular cancer screenings, should rejoin the Pirates' rotation by late June.

Hudson rebounds

Daniel Hudson has worked through the problems that caused his ERA to spike in late April. On Saturday, manager Clint Hurdle said Hudson is ready to resume his role as a set-up man for closer Tony Watson.

“Daniel's worked his way back,” Hurdle said. “There's been some growth and some consistency that wasn't there.”

Hudson's ERA shot up to 9.90 when he was rocked for seven runs over back-to-back outings against the Chicago Cubs on Aprill 26 and Miami Marlins on April 30.

Pitch efficiency was a problem. Hudson needed 27 pitches to get though one inning April 21 against the New York Yankees. He fired a total of 41 pitches against the Cubs and Marlins just to register three outs.

An inconsistent slider also was an issue. Too often, Hudson was forced to rely entirely on his fastball and changeup.

“I didn't really have a great feel for the breaking ball early on,” Hudson said. “I was joking with somebody that it took me six weeks for it to show up.”

Hurdle moved Hudson into a middle-innings role while he worked on his mechanics. Over his past five outings (5 13 innings), Hudson has allowed zero runs, three hits and one walk and has amassed seven strikeouts.

“I just needed to get some outings under my belt where I had some success,” Hudson said. “My stuff has been feeling good for a long time; I just wasn't getting results. Sometimes, when you're not getting results, you start trying to do too much and things get out of whack.”

Hudson signed with the Pirates last winter on the promise of being able to work the late innings. Hurdle will continue to also use Felipe Rivero and Juan Nicasio in certain high-leverage spots.

“The four of them all together have different looks and skills,” Hurdle said. “That plays really well late in the game.”

Bastardo, Lindblom on mend

Injured relievers Antonio Bastardo (strained left quad) and Josh Lindblom (left side discomfort) began rehab assignments with Triple-A Indianapolis. Bastardo has been out since April 25. Lindblom went on the disabled list May 20.

Hurdle said the reports on Bastardo's progress in extended spring training were “very solid.” At the time of his injury, Bastardo had a 16.20 ERA and a 3.30 WHIP and was being used only in mop-up situations.

“He feels good,” Hurdle said. “He feels competitive, he feels strong. So, we'll see where he can take it.”

Hurdle remembers Bunning

Hurdle had several off-the-field encounters with Hall of Famer pitcher Jim Bunning, who died Saturday at 85. Bunning pitched 17 seasons in the majors — including a stint with the Pirates in 1968-69 — then became a Republican congressman and senator from Kentucky.

“He was a pro on the field and just a class act, a gentleman and a scholar, off the field,” Hurdle said. “Just a very, very good man.”

Bunning threw no-hitters in both leagues, tossed a perfect game in 1964 and, at the time of his retirement in 1971, trailed only Walter Johnson on MLB's all-time strikeout list.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.


Scouting report for Sunday, May 28: Mets at Pirates

By Rob Biertempfel

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 7:36 p.m.


Pirates gameday

vs. Mets

8:05 p.m.

PNC Park

TV/radio: ESPN/ 93.7 FM, 1450 AM, 1480 AM

Probable pitchers

Pirates RHP TYLER GLASNOW (2-3, 6.69) vs. Mets RHP MATT HARVEY (3-3, 5.36)

Gamecast: Harvey has issued at least four walks in four of his last five starts, including the past three in a row. He has walked 26 overall this season (50 13 IP). Last year, Harvey walked 25 in 92 23 IP. … In his last outing, Harvey gave up two runs over five innings and beat the Padres. It was the first time since April 16 he did not allow more than two runs in a game. … In five road starts this year, Harvey is 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA. … Glasnow has never faced the Mets.

Next up

Monday, 4:05 p.m.: Diamondbacks RHP Randall Delgado (1-0, 3.82) vs. Pirates RHP Trevor Williams (2-3, 5.93)


Walker sinks former team with 2 homers as Mets top Pirates
Scouting report for Saturday, May 27: Mets at Pirates

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 8:21 p.m.


Pirates gameday

vs. Mets

7:15 p.m.

PNC Park

TV/radio: WPGH-53, WWCP- 893.7 FM, 1480 AM, Pirates Radio Network

Probable pitchers

Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole(2-5, 3.36) vs. Mets RHP Zack Wheeler(3-2, 3.74)

Gamecast: Cole had a streak of eight consecutive quality starts snapped in his most recent outing Monday in Atlanta when he allowed five runs on 10 hits in 4 23 innings. Before that and after a loss opening day at Boston, Cole had allowed 13 earned runs in 52 innings (2.25 ERA) in eight starts. … Cole hasn't faced the Mets since 2015. His 10 strikeouts against them May 22 of that year are tied for the third-most in a start in his career. … Wheeler is 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA (five earned runs and 35 strikeouts in 31 innings) in five career starts against NL Central opponents, but he never has faced the Pirates. … Wheeler has won his past seven decisions on the road.

Next up

Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Mets RHP Matt Harvey (3-3, 5.36) vs. Pirates RHP Tyler Glasnow (2-3, 6.69)


Hempfield's Fox bounces back to win javelin gold at PIAAs

By Paul Schofield

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 6:03 p.m.


SHIPPENSBURG — Hayden Fox received a congratulatory hug from his mother, Jennifer, for placing at the PIAA track and field championships Saturday at Shippensburg.

The look on her face when he informed her he won was priceless. Fox won the Class AAA javelin with a throw of 198 feet, 6 inches.

He captured his first state gold medal after a forgetful Friday in the pole vault when he didn't clear the qualifying height of 13-6. He placed third in the pole vault in 2016, but this year, he was off.

“She didn't know that I won,” Fox said. “She thought I finished second or third. I was real excited to come here and get some hardware. The goal was coming up here and taking first place. It wasn't my best throw but good enough to win.”

His winning toss came on his second throw of the competition. Then he anxiously watched his fellow competitors come up short.

“I was extremely nervous coming in, especially when I woke up,” Fox said. “I had a lot of expectations, and I wanted to meet them.

“I used Friday's disappointment as motivation. When you come off a day like yesterday, all you can do is rebuild. So I started to with a new foundation and tried to forget about the pole vault when I left the track.”

Fox received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, where he'll compete in the pole vault and javelin.

“I was always known as a pole vaulter, and I still want to be thought as a pole vaulter,” Fox said. “Javelin is still my secondary event, and I still want to do the best I can in all areas that I compete in.”

Hempfield javelin coach Melissa White said Fox knew he had to clear his mind.

“Hayden knew what he had to do,” White said. “We worked hard on both events. He's one of the most mentally tough athletes I've ever coached, and he's able to deal with adversity.”

The day ended with one of the most thrilling events of the weekend, the 1,600-meter relay. The Norwin team of Nicolas Coleman, Kyle Turcovsky, Kyle Coleman and Gianni Rizzo rallied to claim the school's first state relay title.

“When I saw Gianni come around the turn, I knew we had a great chance at winning,” Norwin coach Brian Fleckenstein said. “That's when he made his move.”

The Knights' time of 3 minutes, 18.26 seconds edged teams from Milton Hershey and Central Bucks West.

“We knew early in the season that we could be good,” Nicolas Coleman said. “We ran a 3:29, and each of us knew we could knock off three seconds apiece. When we won at the Baldwin Invitational, we knew we had a shot.”

“Because we were in Lane 7, we figured we had nothing to lose,” Rizzo said. “We went all out.”

Heading down the stretch, the anchor runner for Milton Hershey was hitting Rizzo in the back with the baton.

“Someone thought I cut them off,” Rizzo said. “I didn't.”

Norwin relay coach Thom Swanson said hard work all season paid off.

“They pushed each other,” Swanson said. “They worked hard on different stuff.”

Connellsville senior Madison Wiltrout captured her fourth PIAA Class AAA javelin title with a throw of 160-9. Wiltrout, a North Carolina recruit, has been bothered by a sore right elbow.

She said the elbow was no problem. She set the tone early by hitting the winning toss on her first attempt.

“That's what I like to do,” Wiltrout said. “Put one out there. This is awesome. After the last girl threw and knew I won, I teared up on the runway. I was so emotional.”

Two future Penn State runners, Greensburg Central Catholic senior Moira O'Shea and Penn-Trafford senior Nick Wagner, captured silver medals.

O'Shea ran 5:02.07 in the Class AA girls 1,600, finishing behind Sharon's Jordan Williams' 4:50.01.

Wagner ran a school-record 1:51.79 in the Class AAA 800 and finished behind Bishop Shanahan junior Josh Hoey's 1:50.13.

“I definitely wanted to win, but, honestly, to come from where I was and get her really is a blessing,” O'Shea said. “Last year, I didn't qualify for WPIALs. I had an amazing season, and I put myself in a position to win. I just started too early, and that comes with experience.”

Wagner said the 800 final was a race he's been anticipating all season.

“He was a great runner, and I was here paving my own way,” Wagner said. “This feels truly amazing, a 2-second (personal record). It's been more than a year since I ran a PR. This is a dream come true and a great way to go out.”

Others from Westmoreland County to earn medals included: Latrobe senior Austin Butler (sixth, Class AAA javelin), Norwin junior Jessica Kolesar (fifth, Class AAA long jump), Greensburg Salem sophomore Malia Anderson (sixth, Class AAA 800), Derry junior Shawn Broadway (sixth, Class AA 300 hurdles), Ligonier Valley junior Rachel Horrell (seventh, Class AA triple jump) and the Derry 1,600 relay, seventh in Class AA.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.


Burrell's Scherer sends coach out with gold-medal performance

By Chris Harlan

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:39 p.m.


SHIPPENSBURG — Nikki Scherer checked two items off her wish list Saturday when she won a state title and ran a personal best.

Her third wish?

The Burrell senior wanted to send her sprints coach, Frank Phelps, into retirement with a memorable performance in her final high school meet. Scherer did that by winning two medals at Seth Grove Stadium and running away with the 400 meters at the PIAA Class AA track and field championship.

The Pitt recruit finished in 54.82 seconds, more than a second ahead of her closest 400-meter rival and eight-tenths better than her previous best.

Scherer never had broken the 55-second barrier.

“This whole season (Coach) Phelps has said 54s, 54s,” Scherer said. “He's done coaching next year after 35 years. He and I have worked together, and it's been a really long process. I wanted to make sure I went out and did it for him because he's really important to me.”

Scherer took silver in the 200 (24.71). The 400 victory makes her a two-time PIAA champion after winning the 100 meters as a sophomore.

To her, this gold medal felt different.

“It just means more because I really, really wanted this,” Scherer said. “As a sophomore, I didn't really know what to expect. Winning that was awesome, but I worked my butt off for this.”

A year ago, Scherer finished fourth in the 100 and second in the 200. Afterward, she and her coaches devised a new strategy for this year: Scherer would transition from a short-distance sprinter into the longer sprints she will run in college. The 400 meters became her focus.

“She put in the effort and time, and that was rewarded with a gold medal,” Burrell coach Steve White said. “I'm not surprised with her success.”

Scherer's previous best in the 400 was 55.62 seconds.

She won the WPIAL title and qualified for states at 56.69, a mark that seeded her second in the PIAA field behind Neumann-Goretti's Mykala Perry (56.01). In Friday's preliminaries, Scherer ran 57.70.

As she warmed up for Saturday's final, she heard her mom shout motivation from the stands.

“She said: ‘Nikki, don't give up,' ” Scherer said. “Whenever she said that right before (we lined up in) the blocks, I knew I've got to do this. I wanted to go out with a statement. I'm not just here playing around.”

A smooth start had her ahead early, and Perry couldn't chase her down. The Neumann-Goretti freshman finished second (56.02), and Springfield's Sydni Stoval was third (56.30).

“My dad said that I had it from the first curve,” Scherer said, “and that's usually where I'm the slowest.”

Said White: “The goal was to really push from the first 200 (meters), and she did that. At 250, I kind of thought the race was over. Once she got to 275, she was not going to give up that lead. It was a great run.”

Scherer called it “a good sendoff” for Phelps, a veteran assistant who has worked with Burrell track since 1982. Phelps is retiring as coach but will remain with the team in “consulting nature.”

“I don't want him to, but Coach Phelps is retiring,” White said. “... He'll still help us, be a part of us and work out with the kids in the offseason. I just can't say enough positive words about him. He was my coach. And he's never accepted a dime. He's done this all these years as a volunteer.”

Combined, Burrell athletes won six PIAA events this year, including a seventh-place finish in the 400 relay by Taylor Johnson, McKenzie White, Alaina York and Olivia Kelly.

Scherer's was the Bucs' lone gold.

“I really wanted to win,” she said. “I worked the last nine months of my life to do so. It feels amazing.”

Eight for Weimer

Lizzy Weimer ended her high school career with another PIAA medal. Her third-place finish in the Class AA shot put gives her eight.

And her performance Saturday pleased her.

“I wasn't satisfied with my performance on Friday,” Weimer said. “My throw of 43 feet, 6 inches was more satisfying.”

Weimer tied for second with Neumann Goretti's Janese Lynch (42-8), but Lynch's second-best throw was an inch better than Weimer's (42-7).

“I couldn't catch a break,” Weimer said. “She beat me by an inch, but that was all right.”

Weimer will be throwing at Ashland in college.

“That was my last throw of my senior year,” Weimer said. “Being at Shippensburg taught me how to compete. That's really what I'm taking away from here.”

Freshman finish

Freeport runner Sidney Shemanski's first visit to Shippensburg ended with a medal. The freshman placed fifth in the girls Class AA 800 at 2:18.93. Her time was 1 second faster than she ran last week to win the WPIAL title.

Paul Schofield contributed. Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.


Freeport runner Reichenbaugh golden at PIAAs
Westmoreland County baseball programs aim to strike gold

By Bill Beckner Jr.

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:30 p.m.


Latrobe started a slogan at the beginning of the season: “Washington or bust,” a reference to playing in the WPIAL baseball finals a jaunt down Route 70 at Wild Things Park.

The finals are Tuesday and Wednesday at the Frontier League park in Washington, and the rallying cry from this end of the map could be, “Westmoreland or bust.”

Four county teams will play for titles, with the Class A game featuring Greensburg Central Catholic (12-4) and Jeannette (14-6), multisport rivals and Section 2 neighbors who will meet for the third time this season at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Latrobe (19-2) hasn't played in the championship game since 1985. The Wildcats will try for their first baseball title when they take on Mars (14-6), a finals first-timer, in the 5A game at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Mt. Pleasant (13-5), meantime, will play in the championship for the first time since 1989 when it faces Riverside (17-1) in the Class 3A final. First pitch is set for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The county has 14 WPIAL baseball titles but never has had multiple champions in the same season.

“Maybe someone will finally give this area some respect,” Latrobe coach Matt Basciano said. “I know (Mt. Pleasant) coach (Chris) Fairmont and (Jeannette coach) Marcus (Clarkson); Great coaches and great programs. We want to see one another do well.”

Greensburg Central, the Class A champion in 2015, will make its third straight title-game appearance.

Jeannette will make its first finals trip in school history.

“I coached Junior Legion for the last seven years and have seen first-hand the talent we have in this area,” Clarkson said. “From current D-I player J.J. Matijevic to my former player, Brian Weightman, who played D-I at St. Bonaventure. I am not surprised by the amount of (local) teams in the finals at all.”

Greensburg Central finished ahead of Jeannette but drew the No. 8 seed, while Jeannette is No. 7. The seeds don't matter much now, though.

Greensburg Central swept Jeannette during the regular season by scores of 5-4 — an odd, walk-off fielder's choice sealed that one — and 3-1.

Centurions ace Neal McDermott has carried the team on the mound and will be available for the final. The Seton Hill recruit also is one of the WPIAL's better hitters.

“We are just going to pitch Neal,” GCC coach Dennis Reist said. “If they beat us with Neal, then they are the better team. If not, we win. That is our strategy: Neal, go out and throw.”

GCC lost eight seniors to graduation — and senior standout Jack Liberatore, an Ohio recruit, to a midseason leg injury — but returned to the finals.

“A lot of my younger guys have stepped up and done a great job,” Reist said.

Jeannette won't back down. The team's trips to the batting cages at the local Dairy Queen have paid off — and return trips for ice cream after wins have brought game days full circle.

A football and basketball school — the finals matchup conjures memories of the 2006 WPIAL Class AA football final at Heinz Field when Jeannette won 24-14 — Jeannette quietly has nurtured its baseball program.

“This means everything to our town,” Jayhawks senior catcher Eric Hall said. “Being the first team in Jeannette baseball history to make the WPIAL championship, our town has been nothing but encouraging throughout this season. Our group is so solid because of our tightness.”

Jeannette won a pair of extra-inning games to reach the semifinals, including an 8-6 upset over No. 2 Eden Christian, and then took down Union, 7-3, to punch its ticket to Washington.

Third-seeded Mt. Pleasant has one WPIAL title, in 1970, and also made the finals in 1978. No. 1 Riverside will present a challenge with its dominant pitching. Riverside, in the finals for the sixth time since 2005 and the 2A champ last season, took a 0.86 ERA into the semifinals but edged Brownsville, 5-4.

Brandon McCormick threw a two-hitter Wednesday to lead Mt. Pleasant to a 2-1 victory over No. 7 Ellwood City in the semifinals. Vikings senior leader Jason Beranek said his team's run has brought fans out of the woodwork.

“Our school is known as a football school, but baseball has always been around in our community and it is well known how great our program once was,” Beranek said. “My goal during my high school tenure was to make strides in the right direction to get the program back to where it once was. (Reaching the finals) is a great way to do that and get all the people in our community rallying around us.”

Lately for Latrobe, the later the game, the better. The Wildcats pulled wins out of a hat in both of its playoff games, using a walk-off walk to cap a three-run seventh and edge Montour, 4-3, in the quarterfinals before a two-run sixth pushed them past Chartiers Valley, 2-1, in the semis.

Both games were pitchers' duels.

In a season of oddball finishes, Latrobe beat Laurel Highlands, 6-5, on a walk-off hit-by-pitch.

“Teams have been done for two weeks, and we're still playing,” Latrobe senior pitcher Ryan Shawley said. “And our softball team is in the finals, too. It's just an awesome time.”

In total, nine of the 24 teams in the WPIAL baseball and softball finals — over one-third of the field — are from Westmoreland County.

Hempfield and Latrobe will play for the 6A softball title Wednesday, and Yough and Belle Vernon are set to square off in the 4A final Thursday. Both games are at Cal (Pa.)'s Lilley Field, and, like Jeannette-GCC, are section rematches.

Monessen plays West Greene for the Class A softball title at 1 p.m. Thursday.

“Westmoreland County always gets overlooked when it comes to most sports,” Beranek said. “This showing by all four schools will hopefully open up the eyes of everyone in the surrounding counties to show we are here and we know how to play baseball, too.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.


Westmoreland high school notebook: Latrobe's Butler returns to childhood love of baseball

By Bill Beckner Jr.

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 6:09 p.m.


Austin Butler made his mark at Latrobe in basketball. But the senior's legacy might center on his all-around athleticism, which also made him a strong-armed quarterback and state-qualifying javelin thrower.

But many forget how good Butler was in youth baseball. He doesn't. He has a short memory when it comes to the sport he simply suppressed until recently.

Butler came out for the Latrobe Jethawks American Legion team and will play a few games before he leaves June 12 for Holy Cross, where he will continue his basketball career.

It was like riding a bike when the former ace pitcher took the mound again.

In his first time pitching in years, he struck out five over three innings in a 4-0 win over Somerset.

At the plate, he went 2 for 4 with a double, single and two RBIs across the doubleheader.

Butler is done playing AAU basketball, so he had some extra time. AAU is one of the main reasons he did not play baseball for the high school team.

Imagine that team with another pitcher.

“I'm just playing for a little while,” Butler said. “It's fun. Ryan Shawley convinced me to play. He's one of my best friends, so I figured it would be cool playing next to him until I leave.”

Class act

When it comes to football recruiting, St. Vincent has drawn a big circle around Westmoreland County. The Bearcats' incoming recruiting class consists of 18 county players who won't play far from home.

The class includes: Jake Herron and Nick Hall of Belle Vernon; Hunter Edmiston of Derry; Vince Pysnik of Franklin Regional; David Yasher of Latrobe; Lucas Bekar of Greensburg Central Catholic; Noah Clayton and Austin Woods of Kiski Area; Nick Fazekas of Mt. Pleasant; Johnny Yester, Jake Newill, Keith Kalp, and Chris Wagner of Mt. Pleasant; Christian Jantz of Penn-Trafford; George Hillen and Mike Moresea of Southmoreland; and Jake Lauteri and Tannor Vanyo of Yough.

Liberatore still out

Greensburg Central Catholic senior baseball standout Jack Liberatore is not optimistic about a return from injury for the WPIAL Class A championship game Wednesday against Jeannette. But he is not ruling out a return for the PIAA playoffs.

Liberatore, an Ohio recruit, has torn ligaments in his right ankle and has missed half the season. He is awaiting medical clearance to come back.

“It's killing me not being able to play,” he said.

Recruiting scene

Mt. Pleasant soccer standout Ally Bloom announced she will play at Seton Hill. Bloom scored 17 goals last season for the Vikings, who finished 11-5-2 and lost in the first round of the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs.

• Basketball player Julian Boykins is headed to Seton Hill after playing as a post-grad student at The Kiski School in Saltsburg. Boykins went to Kiski after two years at Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati. A 6-foot-2 guard, Boykins averaged 15 points, six rebounds and five assists for Kiski School. His older brother, Monty, transferred from Lafayette to Pitt.

• St. Vincent has the first two members of its new women's bowling team, which begins NCAA Division III play in the fall. Greensburg Salem's Rachel Heater and Danielle Koehler of Rockledge (Fla.). Heater averaged 180 last season. Koehler is quite a find: She is a former USA Today Florida Bowler of the Year.

• A couple of area football players picked up scholarship offers from Edinboro: Penn-Trafford's Cam Suman and Ligonier Valley's Jackson Daugherty.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.


WPIAL athletes win 17 gold medals at PIAA track and field meet

By Chris Harlan

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:21 p.m.


SHIPPENSBURG — Clearly, Ayden Owens was having a bad morning.

The North Allegheny junior reached Seth Grove Stadium early Saturday as the state's No. 1 seed in the long jump, but on a cool, damp day he placed just seventh at almost 2 feet short of his qualifying distance.

His frustration could have ruined the rest of his day.

“I was kind of angry,” Owens admitted with a laugh. “But I just wanted to forget about it and move on to the hurdles.”

Rather than ruminate, he chose instead to dominate.

Owens refocused to win both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles at the PIAA Class AAA track and field championship and broke a state record in the process, turning his rough morning into an afternoon to celebrate.

“When I was younger, it might have ruined my whole day,” Owens said. “But I've matured a lot, and I was able to say, ‘forget about it.' ”

He cruised through the 110 hurdles in 13.76 seconds, shattering a PIAA championship record set in 2008. The old record was 14 seconds flat, set by Montoursville's Keenan Michael. Owens' qualifying time was 14.19.

“I just went out as hard as I could and was running faster than I ever have,” said Owens, who also was seeded first in both hurdle events. “I was so clean, I didn't hit one hurdle.

“I got over the last hurdle, sprinted and saw 13 (seconds). I was like, ‘What?' I did not know that was in my range. Immediately I thought, ‘Is that the state record?' ”

The WPIAL had 16 individuals and one relay team win PIAA gold medals. Owens, Knoch thrower Jordan Geist (shot put/discus) and Avonworth/Northgate sprinter Hunter Robinson (100/200) were double winners in Class AAA.

Connellsville javelin thrower Madison Wiltrout won her event for the fourth consecutive year.

Other Class AAA winners from the WPIAL were Hempfield senior Hayden Fox (javelin), Upper St. Clair senior Harvey Kane (long jump) and North Allegheny junior Clara Savchik (3,200).

The Class AA winners were New Brighton senior Anthony Milliner (triple jump), Waynesburg senior Ben Bumgarner (3,200), Winchester Thurston junior Tristan Forsythe (1,600), Freeport senior Robert Reichenbaugh (800), Bentworth junior Brenna Cavanaugh (100 hurdles) and Burrell senior Nicole Scherer (400).

Norwin's 1,600 relay team with Nicholas Coleman, Kyle Turcovsky, Josh Coleman and Gianni Rizzo won the boys Class AAA title.

Geist felt a lot better with his performance Saturday at the PIAA Track and Field Championships than he did Friday.

Even though he didn't set a new personal record in the Class AAA discus, his throw of 207 feet, 6 inches set a new state record. Geist won the shot put Friday.

“I was hoping for a PR, but I'm satisfied with the state record,” Geist said. “I was pretty consistent. My first throw was 199, and I also threw a 207. Now it's time to move on.”

Geist drew large crowds every day to watch him compete.

When he hit two big throws, the crowd roared.

Wiltrout didn't let a sore right elbow stop her from winning her fourth PIAA Class AAA javelin title.

Wiltrout, seeded second, let her competition know right away that she meant business. Her first throw, the winning toss of 160-9, caught the eye of her opponents.

“That's what I like to do,” Wiltrout said. “Put one out there.”

Wiltrout, who set the national and state record of 185-8 in 2015, did attempt six throws. She only threw once at the WPIAL championship.

“This is awesome,” Wiltrout said. “After the last girl threw and knew I won, I teared up on the runway. I was so emotional, but this is a huge deal. I'm sort of speechless about it.”

Wiltrout said when she first started throwing the javelin as a freshman, she didn't know what to expect. Winning four state titles was beyond her wildest belief.

“The first year, I didn't think I'd win any,” Wiltrout said. “Now that I'm here, it's just a blessing.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.


Sewickley Academy sweeps state singles, doubles titles
South Park edges Southmoreland to qualify for PIAA softball tournament

By Doug Gulasy

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 6:42 p.m.


A familiar rival thwarted Southmoreland's chance at school history.

Katlyn Pavlick led off the top of the fifth inning with a home run, providing the go-ahead score as South Park beat Southmoreland, 4-3, Friday in the WPIAL Class 3A consolation game at Cal (Pa.)'s Lilley Field.

The Scotties, seeking their first PIAA playoff appearance, were denied by their Section 3 rivals, who beat them for the third time this season — the second by a single run.

“The girls never give up; they never do,” Southmoreland coach Todd Bunner said. “They have heart. I'm always proud of them, to be honest. They never give up 'til the last out. We just finished a little short.

“It could have gone either way.”

Southmoreland (11-8) battled back from a 3-0 first-inning deficit to tie the score on Courtney Myers' two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The Scotties nearly took the lead, but Myers was thrown out at the plate by South Park catcher Charlyn Blackburn as she tried to score on a wild pitch.

Pavlick, a junior Pitt recruit, began the fifth by hitting a 1-1 pitch from Southmoreland pitcher Katie Troisi-Clark over the wall in center field, which was moved back 20 to 30 feet this season.

“To be honest with you, we would have rather played somebody else other than them,” South Park coach Larry Mercurio said. “It's tough to beat somebody three times in the same season. That's not the team we wanted to see. Fortunately, it worked out for us, but they put up a heck of a struggle.”

South Park will play the District 10 champion in the PIAA first round, which begins June 5.

Penn State recruit Kaitlyn Morrison hit an RBI double, and Justine Dean a two-run double for South Park (17-3) in the first.

Southmoreland's Olivia Porter, a Pitt-Johnstown commit, made it 3-1 in the third with a single that scored Charity Henderson.

Dean pitched a complete game for South Park, allowing one earned run on five hits, striking out three. Troisi-Clark yielded four runs — three earned — on six hits in seven innings, walking five and striking out three.

“We just can't get over that hump, it seems like, but we'll keep working at it,” Bunner said. “The girls, you've got to give them credit: two playoff wins. You make it to the semifinals, you lose to the No. 1 team in the state (Elwood City) ... and then you come in and battle South Park and you almost win. They're a good team, and I'm proud of my kids.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.


Sewickley Academy's Ross, Carlynton's Phillips advance to PIAA semifinals

By Staff Report

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 10:45 p.m.


Sewickley Academy's Luke Ross and Carlynton's Luke Phillips could get one more rematch.

The WPIAL's top singles tennis players in Class AA each reached the PIAA semifinals after a pair of victories Friday, and with one more win they will face each other in the championship Saturday afternoon.

The two have played countless times during their high school careers.

This season, Phillips defeated Ross in the Section 4 singles finals, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. Ross returned the favor in the WPIAL finals, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

First they have to reach the championship match, however.

Ross will play New Hope Solebury's Adrian Roji, while Phillips plays Lancaster Mennonite's William Wanner. Both matches are at 9 a.m. Saturday at Hershey Racquet Club.

Also on Friday, Sewickley Academy's Sam Sauter lost his quarterfinal match to Wanner, 6-2, 6-1.

In Class AA doubles on Friday, the Sewickley Academy tandems of Arjan Bedi and Nishant Purewall and Neil Rana and Ryan Gex each won two matches to reach the semifinals. They also could meet in the championship match with semifinal-round wins Saturday morning.

California's John Monroe and Josh Wohar lost to Moravian Academy's Abbhi Sekar and Oliver Scott in the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-4.

In Class AAA, Peters Township freshman Connor Bruce reached the PIAA singles semifinals with a pair of straight-set victories. The WPIAL champion will play Lower Merion's Matt Robinson at 11 a.m. Saturday.

WPIAL runner-up Robby Shymansky from Fox Chapel fell short to Downingtown East's Michael Dickson, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, in the quarterfinals. Obama Academy's Rajan Alagar lost in the first round.

All three local doubles teams were eliminated. Upper St. Clair's Liam Gibbons and Kevin Kwok and Obama Academy's Krishnan Alagar and Sachin Thiagarajan lost in the first round, and Hampton's Ben Ringelsen and Ted Donegan won their first round match before falling in the quarterfinals.


Knoch's Geist claims 3rd PIAA shot put title, falls just short of own state meet record

By Chris Harlan

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 11:09 p.m.


SHIPPENSBURG — Heel to toe, one foot in front of the other, Jordan Geist measured his final shot put toss with his steps.

He counted 76 feet.

The overflow crowd around him had cheered in jubilation a few minutes earlier when his shot soared past the 70-foot line, beyond the state championship record he'd set here last year. But then they groaned when a meet official rightly red flagged him for a foul.

“Everybody got up on their feet, it was a lot of fun,” he said. “Unfortunately, I couldn't save it.”

Yet, before he took his slow walk, the crowd applauded again, this time in appreciation. Geist cemented his legacy Friday as one of the state's all-time great high school throwers when he won the PIAA Class AAA shot put title for the third year in a row with a distance of 71-4½.

But the Arizona recruit wished he could have let the crowd celebrate a little more.

“He feels he's letting all these people down (by not breaking his own record),” said Geist's mother Judy, a former All-American thrower at Slippery Rock University, who's also his coach. “He didn't.”

After Geist finished his walk, the two hugged, each teary eyed.

“It was definitely emotional,” Geist said, “especially once she started crying. I started to cry too. It's special though, just to sit back and think about the bond we've created over the last four years.”

Because of Geist, the small sections of metal stands were filled, but fans also lined the fencing several deep at Seth Grove Stadium.

He's certain to draw another crowd Saturday when he tries to become a three-time state discus champion and break that PIAA championship record, even if the winner is never in doubt. Geist's closest shot put competitor, North Poconos senior Matt Slagus, reached 59-8½.

After five throws that Geist considered technically flawed, he let loose on his sixth.

“I finally just settled down, got in the zone and hit better positions,” Geist said. “But I watched it and stepped out the front of the circle, otherwise it would have been a good throw.”

Geist walked off the distance because PIAA judges don't measure fouls and wouldn't make an exception — not even for the best in state history.

Here a year ago, Geist broke the PIAA championship record with a personal-best 74-3½.

“I just wanted him to hit it one last time, but it wasn't in the cards,” his mother, Judy, said. “He's a work in progress, and little by little he's getting better. He's doing what he needs to peak at the right time, which is going to be nationals. He has to trust the process. We all have to trust it. But emotionally, it's just hard to watch.”

Geist has trained differently this year than last, trying to peak later in the season. He has aimed for mid-June, when he will compete at the New Balance Nationals and later try to qualify for one of two national teams.

A year ago, he peaked at the state championships but faltered in the national meets. Choosing to stay patient has proven difficult, he said.

“I know I want to be throwing further, but I can't be throwing further now because we're focusing toward nationals,” he said. “The frustration is real, but hopefully we can take it out on discus.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.


Fishing report: Walleye warm up in Lake Wilhelm
Fox Chapel's Ganassi has shot at wins in Coca-Cola 600, Indy 500

By The Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 6:27 p.m.


INDIANAPOLIS — After 17 years, Chip Ganassi is on top of the two biggest racing series in America.

Now that he's there, the car owner puts little stock in his current position.

“Being the points leader in May, that and $4.50 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks,” Ganassi told the Associated Press. “It's a nice feather in the cap for the team, but it doesn't mean anything. We want to count the points up at the end of the season, not in the middle.

“But it does show the hard work and the dedication of so many people, that we've been working so hard in Charlotte and Indianapolis.”

Fox Chapel's Ganassi heads into the biggest Sunday in racing with drivers leading the point standings in NASCAR and IndyCar. Scott Dixon will start from the pole in the Indianapolis 500. Kyle Larson will start last in the Coca-Cola 600 but had a car capable of winning last week's All-Star race.

His teams also are leading the standings in the World Endurance Championship series and are ranked second in IMSA's sports car series. But it's the first time his IndyCar and NASCAR teams simultaneously are leading the standings.

If he's giddy about the possibilities for Sunday, Ganassi isn't letting on.

Sunday is considered the biggest day in auto racing, and Ganassi has chances to win two races. His Indianapolis lineup of Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton is strong, and Larson and Jamie McMurray have upped their performance in NASCAR and are contenders nearly every week.

“Any weekend is a big day for me when we are at the races,” Ganassi said. “Wins are wins, and that's what we are here for, and we are having a good season with Kyle. We are already in the (playoffs), and we can work on some things that maybe we couldn't have in years past.

“In terms of Dixon, this is early in the year for him to be leading the points. He usually is just about ready to start get going in June. So we're pretty happy right now.”

That should be obvious with Ganassi, who very much likes winners. He says so, often, on social media, using the hashtag #ILikeWinners in many of his social media postings. It's driven by the competitive fire of the owner, who already has five Indy 500 victories.

His drivers know the best way to keep the boss happy is to run well, and that pressure always exists. Last year Larson and McMurray gave Ganassi two cars in NASCAR's playoffs for the first time since the format launched in 2004. It's a big turnaround for an organization that had ranked in the second tier of the series since Ganassi entered NASCAR in 2001.

“For me personally, it's been very exciting to watch the Cup side,” said Dixon, a four-time IndyCar champion, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner and the longest-tenured driver in Ganassi history.

“We know there's a lot of talent over there, and it seems like they've finally got on a roll, and Jamie and Kyle have done a (heck) of a job. I am kind of pumped for them. On our side, I think we are always expected to be on the top. I just hope we haven't peaked too early.”

Ganassi's plan is to leave for Charlotte, N.C., after the Indy 500 — barring a victory, of course — but he wasn't interested in discussing travel plans.

“We'll see what happens come race day,” Ganassi said. “That's why they have race day.”


Double-overtime goal gives Peters Township 1st WPIAL boys lacrosse title

By Kevin Lohman

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 11:48 p.m.


After distributing two sharply passed assists earlier in the game, Peters Township attackman Danny Bacchiochi found himself working the baseline to the right of Mt. Lebanon goaltender Tucker Welch in double overtime of the WPIAL Class AAA boys lacrosse championship game Friday night at Robert Morris' Joe Walton Stadium.

This time, the junior didn't pass it.

Instead, Bacchiochi drove his defender toward the middle of the field with a jab step, pivoted back toward the baseline and launched a shot past the Mt. Lebanon keeper to win the game 12-11, and give Peters Township its first WPIAL boys lacrosse title.

“I was taking it to middle a couple of times in a row, so I think he thought I was going to do it again. And then, I just tried to go up-field real quick, and I saw him overcommit so I just spun back and shot it as hard as I could,” Bacchiochi said.

“I just wanted the ball, that's all I can say. I felt it. I wanted it.”

Both of Bacchiochi's assists came in the first quarter, when No. 7 Peters Township (14-6) took a commanding 5-1 lead. Soon after, however, No. 8 Mt. Lebanon (11-9) came roaring back, outscoring the Indians, 4-1, in the second quarter to pull within one score by half.

From there, the two evenly matched Section 2-AAA foes traded goals back and forth, tying each other five times in the second half.

“I told our guys at the end of the first quarter, ‘hey, you guys understand we're playing against Mt. Lebanon? They've been here quite a few times and they're seasoned veterans in championship games. You can't count them out,' ” Peters Township coach Mike Caplan said.

“Sure enough, Mt. Lebanon took off, and we had a double-overtime game.”

Ben Delaney, Colton Abate, Zach Casilli and Clayton Scott each scored two goals to help spearhead the scoring effort for the Indians. Will Delaney scored the game-tying goal with 54 seconds remaining in regulation to send it to overtime.

The Blue Devils leaned on two players for the bulk of their offensive firepower as John Sramac tallied four goals and Tim McMullen collected three.

“John's a very skilled player, and he's got incredibly soft hands. He does a really good job of keeping his head up and seeing the defense that's coming at him,” Mt. Lebanon coach Mike Ermer said.

“Timmy is another guy, he was inconsistent and playing through injuries, but in the last few games he's really been rounding into shape, and I think he played a great game for us out there tonight.”

Now in his fourth season at Peters Township, Caplan said this is a victory that represents his program coming full circle from where they were when he began his tenure. As far as team goals go, he said there aren't many he'd rather accomplish.

“Personally, this is the biggest honor I could've hoped for these guys to get,” Caplan said. “They definitely earned it. It's a credit to them. It's an honor for the school, and it's an honor for these guys.”

Both teams advance to play in the PIAA tournament Tuesday. Peters Township will play District 3 runner-up Manheim Township at 5:30 p.m. at Hempfield. Mt. Lebanon will take on District 3 champion Wilson at 7 p.m. at Central Dauphin.

Shady Side Academy defeated Upper St. Clair, 10-7, in the WPIAL consolation match Friday afternoon and will play District 6 champion State College in the PIAA first round at 6 p.m. at Cumberland Valley.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


Navy parachutist dies during demonstration over Hudson River
Merkel, after discordant G-7 meeting, is looking past Trump

By The Washington Post

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 5:27 p.m.


LONDON — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday declared a new chapter in U.S.-European relations after contentious meetings with President Trump last week, saying that Europe “really must take our fate into our own hands.”

Offering a tough review in the wake of Trump's trip to visit EU, NATO and Group of Seven leaders last week, Merkel told a packed Bavarian beer hall rally that the days when Europe could rely on others was “over to a certain extent. This is what I have experienced in the last few days.”

It was a stark declaration from the leader of Europe's most powerful economy, and a grim take on the trans-Atlantic ties that have underpinned Western security in the generations since World War II. Although relations between Washington and Europe have been strained during periods since 1945, before Trump there has rarely been such a strong feeling from European leaders that they must turn away from Washington and prepare to face the world alone.

Merkel said that Europe's need to go it alone should be done “of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that works.”

But it was a clear repudiation of Trump's few days with European leaders. On Thursday, Trump had tough words for German trade behind closed doors. Hours later, he blasted European leaders at NATO for failing to spend enough on defense, while holding back from offering an unconditional guarantee for European security. Then, at the Group of Seven summit of leaders of major world economies on Friday and Saturday, he refused to endorse the Paris agreements on combating climate change, punting a decision until next week.

Merkel made similar comments shortly after Trump's November election. But they carry extra heft now that Trump is actually in office — and after Trump had a days-long opportunity to reset relations with Washington's closest allies. Instead, by most European accounts he strained them even more.

“The belief in shared values has been shattered by the Trump administration,” said Stephan Bierling, an expert on trans-Atlantic relations at Germany's University of Regensburg. “After the inauguration, everyone in Europe was hopeful that Trump would become more moderate and take into account the positions of the G-7 and of NATO. But the opposite has happened. It's as if he is still trying to win a campaign.”

Bierling said there was broad consensus among Germany's political parties that the country can no longer rely on the United States as a reliable partner.


DHS considers banning carry-on laptops on all foreign flights

By The Associated Press

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 4:12 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday he's considering banning laptops from the passenger cabins of all international flights to and from the United States.

That would dramatically expand a ban announced in March that affects about 50 flights per day from 10 cities, mostly in the Middle East. The current ban was put in place because of concerns about terrorist attacks.

The ban prevents travelers from bringing laptops, tablets and certain other devices on board with them in their carry-on bags. All electronics bigger than a smartphone must be checked in.

Kelly was asked on “Fox News Sunday” whether he would expand the ban to cover laptops on all international flights into and out of the country.

His answer: “I might.”

The current U.S. ban applies to nonstop U.S.-bound flights from 10 international airports in Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. About 50 flights a day, all on foreign airlines, are affected.

Earlier this month, there were reports that the Trump administration would broaden the ban to include planes from the European Union, affecting trans-Atlantic routes that carry as many as 65 million people a year.

U.S. officials have said that initial ban was not based on any specific threat but on longstanding concerns about extremists targeting jetliners.

“There's a real threat,” Kelly said, adding that terrorists are “obsessed” with the idea of downing a plane in flight, “particularly if it's a U.S. carrier, particularly if it's full of mostly U.S. folks. It's real.”

Kelly said that the United States is going “to raise the bar for, generally speaking, aviation security much higher than it is now, and there's new technologies down the road, not too far down the road, that we'll rely on. But it is a real sophisticated threat, and I'll reserve making that decision until we see where it's going.”

While Kelly referred to “a real sophisticated threat,” the Trump administration's spending plan for the budget year that begins Oct. 1 would make significant cuts to airport security programs.


More arrests in Manchester attack; U.K. remains on high alert

By The Associated Press

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 4:51 p.m.


LONDON — British police made two more arrests and stormed three more locations Sunday as they hunted for suspects in the Manchester bombing, while a government minister said members of attacker Salman Abedi's network may still be at large.

Greater Manchester Police said two men — one 25 years old and the other 19 — were arrested in the city on suspicion of terrorist offenses. Eleven other men between the ages of 18 and 44 also were in custody.

Most of the searches and arrests since Monday night's bombing have been in multi-ethnic south Manchester, where Abedi — the son of Libyan parents — was born and raised.

Police say that 1,000 people are working on the investigation, trying to track down Abedi's accomplices and piece together his movements in the days before he detonated a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert. The explosion killed 22 people — including seven children under 18 — and injured more than 100.

Abedi died in the blast. Investigators say they have dismantled a large part of his network, but expect to make more arrests.

“The operation is still at full tilt,” Home Secretary Amber Rudd said, adding that some suspects could remain at large.

“Until the operation is complete, we can't be entirely sure that it is closed,” she said.

British police now have 13 suspects in custody — including Abedi's elder brother Ismail — and have searched properties across Manchester, a city in northwest England. Another brother and Abedi's father have been detained in Libya.

Police have released surveillance-camera images of Abedi on the night of the attack that show him dressed in sneakers, jeans, a dark jacket and a baseball cap. The straps of a backpack are visible on his shoulders.

Authorities are appealing for more information about his final days. They say he returned to Britain from Libya on May 18, and likely completed assembling his bomb at a rented apartment in central Manchester.

There were prayers for the victims Sunday at church services across Manchester. In Rome, Pope Francis led thousands of people in St. Peter's Square in prayer, saying he was “close to the relatives and all those who are weeping for the dead.”

On Saturday, Britain lowered its official terrorism threat level from “critical” to “severe” after police said they had dismantled a large part of Abedi's network.

But security remained high at major events across Britain on Sunday, including the Great Manchester Run road race, where police armed with submachine guns protected thousands of participants and spectators.

Peter Hook, a member of seminal Manchester band New Order, was among the runners and said the tragedy had brought people together.

“I've always had a pride in this city, ever since I was born,” he said. “They picked the wrong people to mess with this time.”

The government is facing criticism after acknowledging that Abedi was on security services' radar, but wasn't a major focus of scrutiny.

Rudd said Sunday that intelligence agencies were monitoring 3,000 suspected extremists and had a wider pool of 20,000 people of interest.

“I would not rush to conclusions ... that they have somehow missed something,” Rudd said.

The family of one victim, 18-year-old Georgina Callander, said her life had been cut short by “evil, evil men prepared to ruin lives and destroy families.”

“I wish I could say that Georgina is one of the last to die in this way, but unless our government opens its eyes we know we are only another in a long line of parents on a list that continues to grow,” the family said in a statement released through Greater Manchester Police.


Kushner ties to Russia questioned as Trump blasts media lies
To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost its meaning

By The Associated Press

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 12:21 p.m.


ANNVILLE, Pa. -- Allison Jaslow heard it more than once as the long holiday weekend approached - a cheerful “Happy Memorial Day!” from oblivious well-wishers.

The former Army captain and Iraq War veteran had a ready reply, telling them, matter-of-factly, that she considered it a work weekend. Jaslow will be at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to take part in the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. She'll then visit Section 60, the final resting place of many service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“You can see it in people's faces that they're a little horrified that they forget this is what the day's about,” said Jaslow, 34, who wears a bracelet bearing the name of a fallen comrade. “Culturally, we've kind of lost sight of what the day's supposed to mean.”

While millions of Americans celebrate the long Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start of summer - think beaches and backyard barbecues, mattress sales and sporting events - some veterans and loved ones of fallen military members wish the holiday that honors more than 1 million people who died serving their country would command more respect.

Or at least awareness.

“It's a fun holiday for people: ‘Let's party.' It's an extra day off from work,” said Carol Resh, 61, whose son, Army Capt. Mark Resh, was killed in Iraq a decade ago. “It's not that they're doing it out of malice. It just hasn't affected them.”

Veterans groups say a growing military-civilian disconnect contributes to a feeling that Memorial Day has been overshadowed. More than 12 percent of the U.S. population served in the armed forces during World War II. That's down to less than one-half of a percent today, guaranteeing more Americans aren't personally acquainted with a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.

With an all-voluntary military, shared sacrifice is largely a thing of the past - even as U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan and Iraq nearly 16 years after 9/11.

“There are a lot of things working against this particular holiday,” said Brian Duffy, commander in chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“It hurts,” Duffy said. For combat veterans and Gold Star families especially, “it hurts that, as a society, we don't truly understand and appreciate what the true meaning of Memorial Day is.”

Jaslow's group, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, is trying to raise awareness with its #GoSilent campaign, which encourages Americans to pause for a moment of silence at 3 p.m. Monday to remember the nation's war dead.

Of course, plenty of Americans already observe the holiday. At Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Annville, about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia, fresh flowers mark hundreds of graves, and fields of newly erected American flags flap in the breeze. Hundreds of motorcyclists thundered in for a Saturday service. By the end of the weekend, thousands of people will have come to the cemetery to pay their respects.

“This is our Super Bowl,” said Randy Plummer, the cemetery's administrative officer.

Jim Segletes, 65, a Vietnam-era Marine visiting the grave of his father-in-law, a World War II veteran who died in 2000, said he thinks Americans became more patriotic and aware of military sacrifice after 9/11.

“Everyone is more in tune with veterans, more so than when I was in the service,” he said.

Douglas and Rene Kicklighter, Iraq veterans at the cemetery with their 10- and 12-year-old sons, said they believe most people understand what the holiday's about. But they, too, cringe when they hear: “Happy Memorial Day.”

“It's not happy,” said Rene Kicklighter, 37, who retired from the Army National Guard. “It's somber. I try to flip the lens on the conversation a bit and gently remind them what it's really about.”

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was conceived after the Civil War as a way to honor the Union's war dead, with Southern states setting aside separate days to honor fallen Confederate soldiers. By the early 20th century, the holiday had evolved to honor all military members who died in service.

Some veterans say Memorial Day began to be watered down more than four decades ago when Congress changed the date from its traditional May 30 to the last Monday in May to give people a three-day weekend. Arguing that transformed a solemn day of remembrance into one associated with leisure and recreation, veterans groups have long advocated a return to May 30. For years, the late Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, asked Congress to change it back, to no avail.

That leaves it to people like Resh, the Gold Star mother, to spread the message.

Invited to speak to high school students in Allentown, Pennsylvania, she said she told them, “What is the true meaning of Memorial Day? Ask any Gold Star family and they'll tell you what it means. It's not about the picnics. It's about the men and women who have given their lives for this country.

“Every day is Memorial Day for us.”


'I ain't fit to live': Police say Mississippi gunman kills 8

By The Associated Press

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 12:15 p.m.


BROOKHAVEN, Miss. — A man who got into an argument with his estranged wife over their children was arrested Sunday in a house-to-house shooting rampage in rural Mississippi that left eight people dead, including his mother-in-law and a sheriff's deputy.

“I ain't fit to live, not after what I done,” a handcuffed Willie Corey Godbolt, 35, told The Clarion-Ledger.

The gunfire erupted Saturday night at a home in Bogue Chitto after the deputy arrived in response to a domestic disturbance call, and spread to two houses in nearby Brookhaven, about 70 miles south of Jackson.

The dead included two boys, investigators said. Godbolt was hospitalized in good condition with a gunshot wound, though it wasn't clear who shot him.

Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain said that prosecutors planned to charge Godbolt with murder but that it was too soon to say what the motive was. Authorities gave no details on his relationship to the victims.

However, a witness and Godbolt himself shed some light on what happened, with Godbolt giving an interview to the newspaper as he sat with his hands cuffed behind his back on the side of a road.

Godbolt said he was talking with his wife and in-laws when somebody called authorities.

“I was having a conversation with her stepdaddy and her mama and her, my wife, about me taking my children home,” he said. “Somebody called the officer, people that didn't even live at the house. That's what they do. They intervene.”

“They cost him his life,” he said, apparently referring to the deputy. “I'm sorry.”

The stepfather-in-law, Vincent Mitchell, told The Associated Press that Godbolt's wife and their two children had been staying at his Bogue Chitto home for about three weeks after she left her husband because of domestic violence.

When the sheriff's deputy arrived at the house, Godbolt looked as if he were about to leave, then reached into his back pocket, pulled a gun and opened fire, Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he escaped along with Godbolt's wife. But he said three family members were killed in his home: his wife, her sister and one of the wife's daughters.

“I'm devastated. It don't seem like it's real,” Mitchell said outside his yellow frame house, in a community of modest houses, trailer homes and small churches set among thick woods.

After fleeing his in-laws' house, Godbolt killed four more people at two other homes, authorities said. At least seven hours elapsed between the first shootings and Godbolt's arrest near the third and final crime scene in a subdivision of ranch houses in Brookhaven, a few miles from Bogue Chitto.

“It breaks everybody's heart,” said Garrett Smith, a 19-year-old college student who went to high school with one of the victims. “Everybody knows everybody for the most part.”

The slain deputy, William Durr, 36, had served two years in the sheriff's department and had previously worked as a Brookhaven police officer. Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said Durr was married and had an 11-year-old son.

“He had a heart of gold,” Rushing told The Daily Leader. “He loved doing anything with kids. He would go out of his way to help anybody.”

Off duty, he was a ventriloquist who took his puppets to schools and churches and performed for children.

Godbolt said he did not intend for police to capture him alive.

“My intentions was to have God kill me. I ran out of bullets,” he said. “Suicide by cop was my intention.”


Trump eyes White House overhaul, outside lawyers and PR team

By The Associated Press

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 11:27 a.m.


WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump is considering overhauling his White House staff and bringing back top campaign strategists, frustrated by what he views as his team's inability to contain the burgeoning crisis involving alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Expanding teams of lawyers and experienced public relations hands are being recruited to deal with the drumbeat of new revelations about Moscow's interference and possible improper dealings with the Trump campaign and associates. The disclosures dogged the president during his first trip abroad since taking office and threaten to overwhelm and stall the agenda for his young administration.

As he mulls outside reinforcements to his operation, Trump returned late Saturday from his nine-day journey to a White House seemingly in crisis mode, with a barrage of reports hitting close to the Oval Office and involving Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and influential adviser.

A rally planned Thursday in Iowa was postponed due to “an unforeseen change” in Trump's schedule.

On Sunday, Trump sought to downplay recent news reports portraying his administration in disarray, calling it “fake news” on Twitter. In a flurry of angry tweets, Trump said that “many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies.” He added that it is “very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers.”

The latest reports in the Russia matter said Kushner spoke with Russia's ambassador to the United States about setting up secret communications with Moscow during the presidential transition.

While overseas, Trump's longtime lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, joined a still-forming legal team to help the president shoulder the intensifying investigations into Russian interference in the election and his associates' potential involvement. More attorneys with deep experience in Washington investigations are expected to be added, along with crisis communication experts, to help the White House in the weeks ahead.

“They need to quarantine this stuff and put the investigations in a separate communications operation,” said Jack Quinn, who served as White House counsel for President Bill Clinton.

During the Monica Lewinsky investigation, the Clinton White House brought on a dedicated group of lawyers and a created a separate media operation to handle investigation-related inquiries so they didn't completely subsume the president's agenda.

Trump, according to one person familiar with his thinking, believed he was facing more of a communications problem than a legal one, despite the intensifying inquiries. The person, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private conversations.

As he mulls changes, Trump has entertained bringing his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and former deputy campaign manager, David Bossie, formally back into the fold. Both Lewandowski and Bossie discussed the prospect with the president before his trip, according to one person told of the conversations.

Lewandowski's return would be a particularly notable development, given the fact that he was fired by Trump after clashing with staff and Trump's adult children. Nonetheless, Lewandowski has the trust of the president - an advantage that many of Trump's aides lack.

Trump called his maiden trip abroad a “home run,” but while the White House had hoped it would serve as a reset, attention on the Russia probe has only increased.

Recently appointed special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, is starting off an investigation with a broad mandate that will allow him to probe both the possible Russian influence and whether Trump attempted to obstruct the investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey.

Comey is expected to testify before Congress after Memorial Day about memos he kept on conversations with the president that pertained to the investigation.

The White House also grappled with reports that Kushner proposed setting up a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team during a December meeting. Kushner spoke with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., about creating the secret line to make it easier to hold sensitive discussions about the conflict in Syria, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

The back channel was meant to connect Michael Flynn, who later became Trump's first national security adviser, with Russian military leaders, said the person, who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss private policy considerations and spoke on condition of anonymity. Flynn was fired in February, officials saying he misled Vice President Mike Pence about whether he and the ambassador had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia in a phone call.

Before departing Italy for the U.S., White House officials refused to address the reports about Kushner. But they did not dismiss the idea that the administration would go outside normal U.S. government and diplomatic channels for communications with other countries.

Other major issues await Trump at home. He has signaled he will make a decision on whether to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. And the search continues for an FBI director to replace Comey.

On the policy front, he must defend his budget plan, and the Republican health care bill that narrowly passed the House faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

Trump also has to decide soon on a Pentagon recommendation to add more U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, as well as boosting reinforcement for the beleaguered Afghan military.


Dems try to enlist military vets in fight for House majority
Back home after foreign trip, Trump faces slew of challenges

By The Associated Press

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017, 9:12 a.m.


WASHINGTON -- His whirlwind foreign trip complete, President Donald Trump faces a slew of political and policy challenges at home and mushrooming inquiries into allegations that Russia meddled in the U.S. election and had improper dealings with his campaign and associates.

Trump returned to Washington late Saturday after a nine-day trip to the Middle East and Europe, his first trip abroad as president. Awaiting him were reports that his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, spoke with Russia's ambassador to the United States about setting up secret communications with Moscow during the presidential transition.

White House aides prepared for potential changes ahead, with the president mulling a staff overhaul amid frustrations over what he views as his communication team's failures to push back against allegations. A rally planned Thursday in Iowa was postponed due to “an unforeseen change” in Trump's schedule.

While overseas, Trump's longtime attorney, Marc Kasowitz, joined a still-forming legal team to help the president shoulder the intensifying investigations into Russian interference in the election and his associates' potential involvement. More attorneys with deep experience in Washington investigations are expected to be added, along with crisis communication experts, to help the White House in the weeks ahead.

“They need to quarantine this stuff and put the investigations in a separate communications operation,” said Jack Quinn, who served as White House counsel for President Bill Clinton.

During the Monica Lewinsky investigation, the Clinton White House brought on a dedicated group of lawyers and a created a separate media operation to handle investigation-related inquiries so they didn't completely subsume the president's agenda. “I think that was enormously helpful,” Quinn said.

Trump, according to one person familiar with his thinking, believed he was facing more of a communications problem than a legal one, despite the intensifying inquiries. The person, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private conversations.

As he mulls new additions and outside reinforcements, Trump has entertained bringing his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and former deputy campaign manager, David Bossie, formally back into the fold. Both Lewandowski and Bossie discussed the prospect with the president before his trip, according to one person told of the conversations.

Lewandowski's return would be a particularly notable development, given the fact that he was fired by Trump after clashing with other staff as well as Trump's adult children. Nonetheless, Lewandowski, who led the small team that steered Trump's primary victory, has the trust of the president - an advantage that many of Trump's aides lack.

Trump called his maiden trip abroad a “home run,” but while the White House had hoped it would serve as a reset, attention on the Russia probe has only increased.

Recently appointed special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, is starting off an investigation with a broad mandate that will allow him to probe both the possible Russian influence and whether Trump attempted to obstruct the investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey.

Heightening concerns for the White House, Comey is expected to testify before Congress after Memorial Day about memos he kept on conversations with the president that pertained to the investigation.

The White House also grappled with reports that Kushner proposed setting up a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team during a December meeting. Kushner spoke with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., about creating the secret line to make it easier to hold sensitive discussions about the conflict in Syria, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

The back channel was meant to connect Michael Flynn, who later became Trump's first national security adviser, with Russian military leaders, said the person, who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss private policy considerations and spoke on condition of anonymity. Flynn was fired in February, officials saying he misled Vice President Mike Pence about whether he and the ambassador had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia in a phone call.

Before departing Italy for the U.S., White House officials refused to address the reports about Kushner.

Other major issues await decisions by Trump. He said in a tweet that he would make a final decision next week on whether to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, in which nearly 200 countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to combat global warming. As a candidate, Trump vowed to pull out of the accord, which was negotiated during the Obama administration, claiming the deal would be economically disadvantageous to the U.S.

The search continues for an FBI director to replace Comey. Trump interviewed potential candidates and said he was “very close” to deciding on a replacement before he left for the Middle East. But one of Trump's short-list candidates, former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, withdrew from consideration, and the White House has been mum on other possibilities.

Trump's policy agenda has run into road blocks since he departed Washington. The Republican health care bill that narrowly passed the House faces an uncertain future in the Senate after a Congressional Budget Office analysis said it would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured by 2026.

The president will need to defend his budget plan, which was released while he was abroad and drew criticism for deep cuts to safety net programs.

Trump also has to decide soon on a Pentagon recommendation to add more U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, as well as boosting reinforcement for the beleaguered Afghan forces. The Pentagon says it has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, about one-quarter of whom are special operations forces targeting extremist groups such as an Islamic State affiliate.


Al-Qaida seeks boost from bin Laden son

By The Washington Post

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


The voice is that of a soft-spoken 28-year-old, but the message is vintage Osama bin Laden, giving orders to kill. When the audio recording began turning up on jihadist websites two weeks ago, it was as if the dead terrorist was channeling himself through his favorite son.

“Prepare diligently to inflict crippling losses on those who have disbelieved,” Hamza bin Laden, scion of the Sept. 11, 2001, mastermind, says in a thin baritone that eerily echoes his father. “Follow in the footsteps of martyrdom-seekers before you.”

The recording, first aired May 13, is one in a string of recent pronouncements by the man who many terrorism experts regard as the crown prince of al-Qaida's global network. Posted just two weeks before Monday's suicide bombing in Manchester, England, the message includes a specific call for attacks on European and North American cities to avenge the deaths of Syrian children killed in airstrikes.

The recording provides fresh evidence of ominous changes under way within the embattled organization that declared war against the West nearly two decades ago, according to U.S., European and Middle Eastern intelligence officials and terrorism experts. Decimated by U.S. military strikes and overshadowed for years by its terrorist rival, the Islamic State, al-Qaida appears to be signaling the start of a violent new chapter in the group's history, led by a new bin Laden — one who has vowed to seek revenge for his father's death.

Encouraged by the Islamic State's setbacks in Iraq and Syria, al-Qaida is making a play for the allegiance of the Islamic State's disaffected followers as well as legions of sympathizers around the world, analysts say. The promotion of a youthful figurehead with an iconic family name appears to be a key element in a rebranding effort that includes a shift to Islamic State-style terrorist attacks against adversaries across the Middle East, Europe and North America.

“Al-Qaida is trying to use the moment — (with) Daesh being under attack — to offer jihadists a new alternative,” said a Middle Eastern security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss counterterrorism assessments and using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “And what could be more effective than a bin Laden?”

Hamza bin Laden is hardly new to the Islamist militant world. His coronation as a terrorist figurehead has been under way since at least 2015, when longtime al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri introduced him in a video message as a “lion from the den” of bin Laden's terrorist network. But in recent months, he has been promoted as a rising star on pro-al-Qaida websites, with audio recordings from him urging followers to carry out attacks or commenting on current events. Longtime terrorism analysts say the promotion of Hamza bin Laden appears calculated to appeal to young Islamist militants who still admire Osama bin Laden but see al-Qaida as outdated or irrelevant.


Trump considers reshuffling senior staff, creating 'war room'

By The Washington Post

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


President Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a “war room” within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.

After Trump's return to Washington on Saturday night from a nine-day foreign trip that provided a bit of a respite from the controversy back home, the White House plans to far more aggressively combat the cascading revelations about contacts between Trump associates, including Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, and Russia.

White House aides also are trying to find ways to revive Trump's stalled policy agenda in Congress and to more broadly overhaul the way the White House communicates with the public.

That includes proposals for far more travel and campaign-style rallies throughout the country so that Trump can speak directly to his supporters, as well as changes in press briefings, likely including a diminished role for embattled White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

While much remained fluid Saturday, the beefed-up operation could include the return of some of Trump's more combative campaign aides, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was fired nearly a year ago, and former deputy campaign manager David N. Bossie, who made his name in politics by investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton for two decades.

Lewandowski and Bossie have been part of ongoing discussions about how to build a “war room,” which have been led in part by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

Other Trump players who have drifted from his orbit in recent months, such as Sam Nunberg, also are being courted to play more active roles, either officially joining the White House or in an outside capacity, working through confidants of the president.

White House counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has been involved in related discussions, including with prominent Trump backers outside Washington and on Capitol Hill, and has contacted people from Trump's campaign network, asking them to be more highly involved in supporting the president, according to three GOP consultants working with the White House.

Kushner has played an active role in the effort to overhaul the communications team, improve the White House's surrogate operation and develop an internal group to combat the influx of negative stories and revelations over the FBI's Russia probe, said someone with knowledge of the coming changes.

“The bottom line is they need fresh legs; they need more legs,” said Barry Bennett, who served as a political adviser to Trump during the general election. “They're in full-scale war, and they're thinly staffed.”

As Trump has participated in meetings with world leaders in recent days, senior aides — including Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Bannon and Kushner — have met in the White House to discuss a potential reshuffle.

Kushner's own role has emerged as a particularly sensitive topic of discussion within the White House, as his actions have come under increasing scrutiny in the FBI investigation of Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.

Some White House aides have discreetly discussed among one another whether Kushner should play a lesser role — or even take a leave — at least until the Russia-related issues calm. But they have been reluctant to discuss that view with Kushner himself, and Kushner's network of allies within the West Wing has rallied behind him.

Those close to Kushner said he has no plans to take a reduced role, though people who have spoken to him in recent weeks say he is increasingly weary of the nonstop frenzy.

In recent weeks, the White House also brought on Josh Raffel as a spokesman to handle many of the issues in Kushner's broad portfolio.

During a lunch Friday, Kushner and Priebus talked about how Trump's foreign trip had gone and began outlining what's coming up in the weeks ahead. Earlier in the day in Kushner's office, the two briefly discussed the stories involving Kushner and Russia.

Underscoring the uncertainty of what lies ahead, some Trump associates said there have even been conversations about dispatching Priebus to serve as ambassador to Greece — his mother is of Greek descent — as a face-saving way to remove him from the White House. A White House spokeswoman strongly denied that possibility on Saturday.

The president has expressed frustration — both publicly and privately — with his communications team, ahead of the expected overhaul.

Though no final decisions have been made, one option being discussed is having Spicer — who has been parodied on NBC's “Saturday Night Live” to devastating effect — take a more behind-the-scenes role and give up his daily, on-camera briefings.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the principal deputy press secretary, is being considered as a replacement behind the podium, and is likely to appear on camera more often in coming weeks. White House aides have also talked about having a rotating cast of staff brief the press, a group that could also include officials like National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Having several aides share the briefing responsibilities could help prevent Trump — who has a notoriously short attention span — from growing bored or angry with any one staffer.

The White House has already been testing this strategy, sending Spicer to the podium along with another top staffer to talk about the news of the day: Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on budget issues, for instance, or McMaster on questions of national security.

On his foreign tour, Spicer conducted only one briefing, an informal gaggle with the small, traveling press pool. Otherwise, he served more as an emcee, introducing other senior administration officials at more formal briefings.

On Saturday, it was Gary Cohn, the National Economic Council director, and McMaster who headlined the U.S. news conference at the conclusion of the Group of 7 summit in Taormina, Italy. Spicer introduced them and then retired to the corner of the room to watch McMaster and Cohn parry questions from journalists.

The episode highlighted how difficult it is to drive Trump's agenda with Russia so prominently in the news. The briefing grew testy after several questions related to Kushner's activities were posed to McMaster, who largely deflected them.

The expected revamp in White House operations comes at a key juncture in Trump's presidency, as his job approval ratings continue to sag and he presses for progress on several marquee campaign promises — including revamping the Affordable Care Act and tax reform — before Congress takes its August recess.

A White House aide said Saturday that Trump is now also considering pushing some more modest initiatives in Congress that would stand a better chance of quick passage.

The aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely, said that could include measures on immigration or infrastructure-related initiatives that are well liked by most Republicans.

“They need accomplishments on issues that affect jobs,” said one Trump adviser. “If the White House and Congress have nothing in hand to tout by this summer, members of Congress are going to come back after their August recess freaking out.”

Conversations about what some are calling a “war room” have focused on a model similar to what emerged during President Bill Clinton's tenure to cope with the Monica Lewinsky scandal and other crises. Clinton pulled together a team of lawyers, communication and political aides to deal with those issues apart from the regular White House structure, with the aim of letting other business proceed as normally as possible.

Aides and allies of Trump say they have come to the realization that unflattering stories about Russia will be part of the daily conversation for the foreseeable future and acknowledge that the White House has been ill-equipped to handle them.

Christopher Ruddy, a longtime Trump friend, said the White House has been caught flat-footed on many of the Russia stories.

“Because they did not believe there's anything to it, they're playing catchup to get their side of the story out,” Ruddy said.

“At first, I thought the president was fretting too much about this,” said Ruddy, who is chief executive of Newsmax Media and a member of Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. “But it keeps growing like a bad fungus, even though there's nothing there.”

“The deep state and the swamp and many in the media are never going to let up,” added Jason Miller, who served as Trump's senior communications adviser during the campaign and remains close to the White House. He is not expected to come back in a formal role.

The White House has also been pushing the Republican National Committee to play a more active role in defending the president.

Members of the Trump family outside of the White House have also been ramping up their engagement in the president's political operation, eager to contribute and guide the party.

On Thursday, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Eric's wife, Lara, participated in a two-hour meeting at the RNC headquarters in Washington, according to three people familiar with the session who were not authorized to speak publicly.

RNC spokesman Ryan Mahoney declined to address the specifics of the meeting but said the RNC is stepping up efforts to bolster Trump.

“The RNC's role is to support the president,” he said. “We're focused on creating as much content as possible to ensure we're messaging effectively and doing so quickly in order to promote and defend this administration. It's our top priority. “

Aides say they think Trump's agenda will be boosted by making more targeted appearances around the country to tout it.

And several advisers are pushing Trump to do more of the campaign-style rallies like the one he had planned in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday night. It has since been postponed but will be rescheduled soon, according to Trump's campaign.

Being outside of Washington among his supporters, particularly in a state he won last year, energizes Trump and provides a way for him to communicate without the filter of the media, his advisers say.

“The conventional ways of communicating are not working for them,” one adviser said, adding that Trump should consider Facebook Live sessions and get out on the road “as frequently as possible.”

“They have to get the campaign brand back,” the adviser said.

Several Trump advisers cited the president's recent interview with NBC's Lester Holt, in which Trump made clear it was his idea to fire FBI Director James B. Comey, as the kind of thing to avoid going forward.

“I hope he'll travel more and do these rallies once a week,” Bennett said. “You get to say whatever you want to say, and you don't have to take questions.”

As the White House tried to bolster its operations, some staffers who once fell out of favor with Trump have been brought back into conversations.

Lewandowski, who was fired from the campaign amid serious clashes with Kushner and the president's daughter, Ivanka, has also been suggested as an effective messenger — either from inside the administration or from his current perch outside — to push back on the Russia controversy.

Nunberg, who was fired by the Trump campaign in 2015 and has been hostile to Lewandowski ever since, is now working with Ruddy. At a recent breakfast in Washington, D.C. with Ruddy, Lewandowski, and Alexandra Preate, a close ally of Bannon, the trio discussed whether Lewandowski and Nunberg could put aside their differences to again rally behind Trump, according to three people familiar with the conversation.

Aides to Trump say they're pleased with both the substance and the optics of his nine-day foreign trip, the first time he's traveled abroad as president, and hope that it could generate some momentum for his agenda back home. Others aren't so sure.

“He was given the chance to look presidential and change the pictures on our television screens,” said Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University. “But it will be harder for him to manage news back at home than abroad. . . . The worries he had when he left have not gone away. They've only gotten worse.”


Ancient Rome's secret weapon: A slingshot with the stopping power of a .44 Magnum
Trump delays decision on climate agreement

By The Washington Post

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


TAORMINA, Italy — President Trump failed to commit to remaining within the Paris climate agreement during a two-day meeting with world leaders that ended here Saturday, but he tweeted that he was still considering it and would announce a final decision “next week.”

In a final communique, the Group of Seven industrialized countries said that the United States “is not in a position to join the consensus.” The other six members reaffirmed their commitment to swiftly implement the 2015 accord to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The G-7 summit marked the last stop of Trump's first overseas trip as president, a grueling nine-day tour that included high-level discussions in the Middle East and with NATO, as well as a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

After leaving this picturesque town on the rugged Sicilian hillsides, Trump went by helicopter to the U.S. Naval Air Station at Sigonella on the island to board Air Force One for the flight home. He summed up his journey in a rousing campaign-style speech to assembled U.S. service members at the base, promising it would pave the way for “a lot of strength” and “a lot of peace.”

“From Saudi Arabia to Israel to NATO to the G-7, we made extraordinary gains on this historic trip to advance the security and prosperity of the United States, our friends and our allies,” Trump said. “And we paved the way for a new era of cooperation among the nations of the world to defeat the common enemy of terrorism.”

Trump reflected on how many places he had visited, saying, “We have been gone for close to nine days . . . and I think we hit a home run, no matter where we are.”

Earlier, in an off-camera briefing for reporters, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said of the climate discussions, “We're all trying to get to the right place, respectful of each other.” He described a “very robust conversation . . . a lot of give and take” in discussions that included leaders from Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Italy.

Asked if Trump had given a sign of which way he was leaning on the accord, which he called a job killer and vowed to rip up during his campaign, Cohn said, “I don't know.”

After a first round of meetings Friday, Cohn, who favors retaining the agreement, had said Trump's position was “evolving.”

National security adviser H.R. McMaster, who joined the briefing with Cohn, said that Trump had “delivered on all three” of his core objectives for the trip: reaffirming American global leadership and alliances, solidifying “key relationships” with world leaders, and bringing a message of tolerance and unity against terrorism to Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Cohn spoke of the most “amazing deals that have really been made by an administration ever” that Trump had clinched in Riyadh, including both private-sector investments and arms sales. He put the total at “close to half a trillion” dollars, although the administration initially set it at $380 billion and did not provide details of the agreements.

On the climate agreement, Cohn said that he did not know where Trump was in his thinking on the issue. “What you're asking me to do is tell you what's inside the president's mind. I'm not qualified to do that,” said Cohn, who has briefed the president numerous times on the issue and attended G-7 meetings about it.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the G-7 agreed to step up pressure on North Korea, including sanctions. He told reporters it was the first time that the G-7 had recognized the North Korean threat as a priority issue.

He said “the threat has entered a new stage” as North Korea tests missiles and nuclear weapons.

Abe added, “there is a danger it can spread like a contagious disease.”


Portland mayor: 'Heroes' died protecting women

By The Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 10:15 p.m.


PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

The attack Friday happened on the first day of Ramadan, the holiest time of the year for Muslims, and it sent shockwaves through a city that prides itself on its tolerance and liberal views. A memorial where the stabbing occurred grew steadily Saturday, and a vigil was planned.

“That people feel emboldened to come out and show their racism and bigotry in that way is horrifying to me. It's a gut check for everywhere — and absolutely for Portland,” said Christopher Douglas, who stopped at the memorial. “Portland ... floats in a little bit of a bubble of its own liberal comfort and I think the reality is sinking in.”

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, was being held in the Multnomah County Jail on suspicion of aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a weapon. He was arrested a short time after the attack on Friday.

He will make a first court appearance Tuesday, and it wasn't clear if he had an attorney. A phone at his home in Portland rang unanswered Saturday, and no one came to the door at his parents' home.

Police identified the victims as Ricky John Best, 53, of Happy Valley, Ore., and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, of Portland. Police say Best died at the scene and that Meche died at a hospital.

Meche's mother, Asha Deliverance of Ashland, Oregon, confirmed on Facebook that her son had been killed. She did not immediately return a call to her business phone listing or a message sent through social media.

“He was a hero and will remain a hero on the other side of the veil. Shining bright star I love you forever,” she wrote.

Meche graduated last year from Reed College in Portland with a bachelor's degree in economics, the college said on its website. Mayor Ted Wheeler said at a news conference that Best was an Army veteran and a city employee.

“These two men died heroes as a result of a horrific act of racist violence.”

Police say Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, of Portland was also stabbed in the attack and is in serious condition at a Portland hospital. Police say his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

“Their actions were brave and selfless and should serve as an example, an inspiration to us all. They are heroes,” Wheeler said.

Police said one of the two young women on the train was wearing a hijab. The assailant was ranting on many topics, using “hate speech or biased language,” police Sgt. Pete Simpson said.

Dyjuana Hudson, a mother of one of the girls, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the man began a racial tirade as soon as he spotted the girls. Her daughter is African-American and was with a friend who was wearing a hijab, she said.

“He was saying that Muslims should die,” Hudson said. “That they've been killing Christians for years.”

The FBI and U.S. Attorney for Oregon are working with Portland police. The FBI says it's too early to say whether the slayings qualify as a federal hate crime. Christian is charged with two counts of intimidation, the state equivalent of a hate crime.

Wheeler decried the charged national political environment surrounding immigration.

“Violent words can lead to violent acts,” Wheeler said. “All elected leaders in America ... must work deliberately to change our political dialogue.”

Court records show Christian served prison time for first-degree robbery and second-degree kidnapping after a crime committed 15 years ago and theft and weapons charges were dismissed in 2010.

The Portland Mercury, one of the city's alternative weeklies, posted an article on its website saying Christian showed up at a free speech march in late April with a baseball bat to confront protesters and the bat was confiscated by police.

The article included video clips of a man wearing a metal chain around his neck and draped in an American flag shouting “I'm a nihilist! This is my safe place!” as protesters crowd around him.

Simpson confirmed the man in the videos was Christian and said investigators were aware of them. He declined to comment further.

Neighbors who live next to Christian's parents' house — which was also his last listed address in court records — said the family was quiet and they often saw Christian's two adult brothers but never him.

One neighbor, Kenny Jenkins, said he occasionally saw Christian riding his bike around the neighborhood.

The neighborhood is on the northern outskirts of Portland, an area that has been rapidly gentrifying in recent years because it remains one of the last affordable sections of the city. The homes immediately surrounding the Christian residence now hold biracial families and same-sex couples, Jenkins said.

“The parents are very quiet. The dad was always helpful,” he said. “Good people.”

Christian has had several encounters with the law, and spent time in prison for robbery and kidnapping charges years ago, according to court records and a defense attorney.

In 2002, he was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery and second-degree kidnapping after he rode to a convenience store on his bike and held up employees there with a gun, according to court records and his court-appointed defense attorney at the time, Matthew Kaplan.

When police caught up with him, Christian aimed the gun at himself before he was shot and injured by police, Kaplan said.

He was sentenced to more than seven years in prison.

Kaplan said he remembers the case vividly because Christian was so young, so earnest and had never been in trouble before. At the time, the attorney suspected the onset of mental health problems.

“I'll remember this case forever because it made no sense,” he told The AP in a phone interview.

At the memorial to the stabbing victims 8-yearold Coco Douglas left a sign and some rocks she had painted with rainbow colors

Her stepmother, Angel Sauls, said the attack had been particularly hard on their family because Sauls is black and Coco and her father are white.

“I had hoped that it was Portland, Maine, and not Portland, Oregon,” Sauls said, after choking back tears. “I'm scared that this is going to make people afraid to stand up for other people. ... I'm just really sorry that their acts of kindness were repaid in such a horrible way.”


Defense chief cites Manchester in speech to West Point grads

By The Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 10:03 p.m.


WEST POINT, N.Y. — The deaths of 22 people at a concert hall in Manchester, England, last week shows the need for institutions like the U.S. Military Academy to produce soldiers willing to battle those who would commit terrorism, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Saturday.

“Manchester's tragic loss underscores the purpose of your years of study and training at this elite school,” Mattis told the 950 graduating cadets at West Point. “We must never permit murderers to define our time or warp our sense of normal. This is not normal.”

Twenty-two people were killed in a bombing at a concert hall in Manchester on Monday. Authorities say the 22-year-old bomber who struck the Ariana Grande concert was known to security services because of his radical views and had strong links to Libya.

“You will drive home a salient point,” Mattis told the cadets. “That free men and women will volunteer to fight, ethically and fiercely, to defend our experiment that you and I call, simply, ‘America.' ”

The retired four-star Marine general became defense secretary Jan. 20, hours after President Trump was sworn in.

He spoke on a sun-drenched day at the military academy's football stadium in New York's Hudson Valley, but spoke of “storm clouds gathering” around the world.

“Our enemies are watching,” he said. “By your commitment, you will prove the enemy wrong. Dead wrong.”

He drew loud cheers when he added: “We Americans are not made of cotton candy.”

Three brothers are among the cadets. Noah, Sumner and Cole Ogrydziak of Nederland, Texas, entered the academy in 2013. The last time three siblings graduated together was 1985.


Myanmar pulled by Chinese influence despite U.S. overtures
Mother of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick killed in boat accident

By The Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


FRESNO, Calif. — The mother of the CEO of the ride-hailing company Uber died in a boat accident Friday evening in Fresno County, the company said.

Bonnie Kalanick, 71, died after the boat she and her husband, Donald, 78, were riding hit a rock in Pine Flat Lake in the eastern part of the county, authorities said.

They are the parents of Travis Kalanick, 40, who founded Uber in 2009. The company has since grown to become an international operation with a market value of nearly $70 billion.

The couple from the Los Angeles neighborhood of Northridge have been longtime boaters. In a memo to Uber staff, Liane Hornsey, the chief human resources officer, called the incident an “unthinkable tragedy.” She wrote that “everyone in the Uber family knows how incredibly close Travis is to his parents.”

About 5 p.m. Friday, officers were called to the scene of the accident and found the Kalanicks on a shore of the lake, the Fresno County Sheriff's office said in a statement.

Bonnie Kalanick died at the scene, and her husband suffered moderate injuries, the sheriff's office said. He told officers the boat had sunk.

An autopsy of Bonnie Kalanick is planned, the office said.

Donald Kalanick is being treated at a hospital and is in stable condition, the company said.

Crews will try to remove the boat from the lake Saturday, the sheriff's office said.


Trump faces new controversies as trip winds down

By The Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:45 a.m.


TAORMINA, Sicily — President Donald Trump faced new controversies over his team's possible ties to Russia as he closed out his first trip abroad Saturday, a grueling five-stop sprint that ended with the promise of an imminent decision on the much-discussed Paris climate accord.

Trump tweeted that he would make a final decision next week on whether to withdraw from the pact. European leaders have been pressuring Trump to stay in the accord during their meetings with him this week, arguing that America's leadership on climate is crucial.

Following a second day of meetings at the Group of 7 summit in Sicily and remarks to U.S. troops stationed at a nearby air base, Trump was returning to Washington and a new crush of Russia-related controversies. On Friday, the Washington Post reported that Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner spoke with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. about setting up secret communications with Moscow.

Trump has held no news conferences during the nine-day trip, allowing him to avoid questions about the Russia investigations. His top economic and national security advisers refused to answer questions during a press briefing Saturday.

The White House had hoped to use Trump's five-stop trip as a moment to reset. The president was warmly received on his opening stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel, though he has come under more pressure in Europe, particularly over the Paris accord.

Trump was cajoled for three days - first in Brussels at meetings of NATO and the European Union, then in Sicily for G-7 - but will leave Italy without making clear where he stands.

As the G-7 summit came to a close Saturday, the six other members - Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan - renewed their commitment to the accord. The summit's communique noted that the Trump administration would take more time to consider whether it will remain committed to the 2015 Paris deal to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.

Backing out of the climate accord had been a central plank of Trump's campaign and aides have been exploring whether they can adjust the framework of the deal even if they don't opt out entirely. Other G-7 nations leaned heavily on Trump to stay in the climate deal, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying “we put forward very many arguments.”

The president's trip has largely gone off without a major misstep, with the administration touting the president's efforts to birth a new coalition to fight terrorism, while admonishing partners in an old alliance to pay their fair share.

“Big G7 meetings today. Lots of very important matters under discussion,” Trump tweeted between events. “First on the list, of course, is terrorism. #G7Taormina.”

Trump also touted a renewed commitment by NATO members to spend more on defense.

“Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger,” he said. Trump was referring to a vow by NATO countries to move toward spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024. Only five of NATO's 28 members meet the target: Britain, Estonia, debt-laden Greece, Poland and the United States, which spends more on defense than all the other allies combined.

There is no evidence that money has begun to “pour in” - and countries do not pay the U.S. or NATO directly. But Germany, for instance, has been increasing its defense spending with the goal of reaching the 2 percent target by 2024.

But after the pomp of presidential travel overseas, Trump will return to Washington to find the same problems that have dogged him.

As a newly appointed special counsel is beginning his investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, Kushner has become a focus of the probe. His lawyer said Kushner will cooperate with investigators.

James Comey, the former FBI director leading the Russian probe until Trump abruptly fired him, is still expected to testify before Congress about memos he kept on conversations with the president that involved the investigation.

The search for a new FBI director continues.

And Trump's policy agenda has run into problems. The GOP health care bill that passed the House faces uncertain prospects in the Senate, after a Congressional Budget Office analysis that it would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured by 2026. The president's budget was widely criticized for deep cuts to safety net programs. And some are starting to question the chances for tax reform.

---

Associated Press writer David McHugh contributed to this report.


Bombing puts British security officials back in hot seat

By The Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 8:18 p.m.


LONDON — There were plenty of warning signs before Salman Abedi unleashed carnage at Manchester Arena.

The concert bombing that left 22 people dead Monday night and dozens hospitalized raises the question of what, if anything, could have been done to stop him.

Relatives had alerted authorities that Abedi, 22, was flirting with extremist ideologies and had been involved in a fracas at a mosque after the imam there denounced terrorism.

One brother living in Libya allegedly had been investigated for links to the Islamic State group, and Abedi's father had allegedly belonged to a Libyan terrorist group years ago that was backed by al-Qaida. Abedi lived near the same Manchester neighborhood that was home to Abd al-Baset Azzouz, a master al-Qaida bomb maker and recruiter accused in the 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in the Libyan city of Benghazi.

Still, Abedi was no longer “under the microscope” of British security authorities, who years ago regarded him as a person of interest, a British government official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the investigation into the attack. The official would not specify why Abedi was of interest years ago.

“The decision to investigate one person means the decision not to investigate someone else,” said Nigel Inkster, a former head of operations at MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence agency. “You have to make pragmatic judgments of where to put your resources, and sooner or later, those judgments might turn out to be wrong.”

Britain's domestic security agency of MI5 is currently tackling 500 terror investigations and watching some 3,000 suspects. Putting one person under surveillance is expensive, requiring as many as 30 officers. That type of surveillance also requires a high threshold of suspicion that a suspect could turn to violence. British security officials say at least five terror plots in Britain have been thwarted in the past two months, although they have not released details of the plots.

Monday's bombing wasn't the first time in recent months that British security and law enforcement have come under scrutiny following an attack.

Khalid Masood killed five people and wounded several others in a March attack near Britain's Parliament, prompting headlines such as “Killer escaped from MI5's radar.” Masood, who was killed in the incident, had once been investigated for violent extremism but was described by Prime Minister Theresa May as “a peripheral figure.”

The month before, MI5 was criticized for not keeping track of a former detainee at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay who blew himself up at a military base in Iraq. The Islamic State group identified the bomber as Abu Zakariya al-Britani, also known as Ronald Fiddler, a Briton who converted to Islam and became known as Jamal al-Harith. He was freed from Guantanamo Bay in 2004. He is one of 16 men who were paid a total of more than $12.4 million in compensation by the British government in 2010 for their time in U.S. custody.

“Below the 3,000 (suspects) is another 12,000 people who have in the past come to our attention and haven't necessarily shown signs of doing anything at all, or no longer posing a risk,” said Britain's Security Minister Ben Wallace.

Still, ex-CIA officer Bob Ayers said enough was known to raise red flags on Abedi, who went back and forth to Libya to see his family and who, according to his father, was shortly heading off to a religious pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

“He has a dad with former links to al-Qaida and alleged connections to other militants, and his travel wasn't noted by the British?” Ayers said. “There's something seriously wrong about this. What are these guys watching for, and what constitutes the threshold? If they had any of this information, it wasn't properly analyzed.”


Winery to 'weedery': Vineyards rip up grapes, switch to marijuana
4 simple ways baby boomers can catch up on retirement savings

By Tribune News Service

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Listen up, baby boomers. More than half of adults 55 and older have less than $50,000 in retirement savings, and about one-third haven't even started saving for retirement. That means many of you have a lot of catching up to do before you punch the clock for the last time.

Some boomers are fortunate to have a job with a pension. Those without that guaranteed source of income or any savings will be forced to survive on Social Security benefits or the support of their children. In some cases, baby boomers simply might not be able to retire at all.

If those scenarios don't seem appealing to you, follow these expert tips to catch up on retirement savings.

P icture your retirement

Adults 50 and older can take advantage of IRS provisions to make catch-up contributions to retirement accounts — an extra $6,000 annually to a 401(k) and an extra $1,000 to an IRA. Such contributions are a great way for boomers to save more for retirement if they have fallen behind. But all of the provisions in the world won't help unless you're motivated to save.

Because the future is murky, many people find it difficult to get excited about saving for retirement, said Joe Sicchitano, head of wealth planning and advice delivery at SunTrust Bank. It's easy to delay setting aside money today when you don't have a clear picture of how you're going to benefit down the road.

Figure out what you want in retirement. Don't just rely on a rule of thumb for how much money you need to set aside or some number from a retirement calculator, as it's difficult to emotionally invest in a number, Sicchitano said. Instead, imagine your retirement lifestyle, and then find an actual picture that represents it.

Put the picture in your wallet, credit card sleeve or somewhere else where it will be a constant reminder that the more money you spend today, the more difficult it will be to realize your vision of retirement. “The whole point of that is to bring the future into the present to make better decisions today,” Sicchitano said.

A visual reminder can help you get excited about what's important and motivate you to save more for retirement, he said.

Automate your savings

Once you find motivation to save, make saving a habit. Don't rely solely on good intentions, because life gets busy and it's hard to maintain focus, Sicchitano said. To reinforce the savings habit, you need to automate it, he said.

Maximize contributions to your 401(k) or workplace retirement plan. If you don't have access to a workplace plan, save on your own with an IRA or other individual account. Schedule automatic transfers from your checking account on payday so you fund a retirement account before you can spend the money.

If you're already contributing to a workplace or individual retirement plan, increase your contribution. “If you get a raise, bank the raise,” Sicchitano said. “Take whatever the difference your raise is and send it to a savings or investment account.”

Set a reminder on your smartphone or scribble a note to yourself right now to automate your savings.

Budget more savings

You can't put more into retirement savings if you don't control spending. “Finding space in your budget is key,” Sicchitano said.

According to a recent GOBankingRates survey, 55 percent of Americans spend most of their money on guilty pleasures, such as fast food, alcohol, tobacco and gambling. Your discretionary spending is the area over which you have most control, Sicchitano said. When you reduce your spending on guilty pleasures, you can boost your health and accumulate more money to stash in retirement savings.

You also should tackle debt before retirement. “Debt is an expensive, real problem you have on a monthly basis,” said Terry Dunne, managing director of automatic rollovers at Millennium Trust, a financial services company based in Oak Brook, Ill. By eliminating debt quickly, you free up more room in your budget to save for retirement. Plus, you'll need less money in retirement to cover those monthly debt payments.

If you need more motivation, think about how much your money would grow if you put it into retirement savings instead of spending it. Sicchitano said he created a spreadsheet for a client to show him that the $1,000 he wanted to spend on a new TV would grow to $3,500 by the time he retired if he invested it. “All of the sudden, that TV doesn't look so good anymore,” Sicchitano said.

Take your goals public

Need even more motivation to save? Go public with your savings goal, Sicchitano said. You don't have to announce to the world that you're trying to save a certain amount. But if you challenge a few friends or family members to see who can squirrel away the most cash each month, the competition might motivate you to save more for retirement.

In other words, add a little fun to the otherwise boring task of setting aside money for the future. “Saving is like eating brussels sprouts,” Sicchitano said. “Even brussels sprouts are delicious if smothered in butter and bacon.”

Turning saving into a game not only makes it more enticing but also makes you accountable to others. “If you're public about it, that pressure can be positive,” Sicchitano said. “You feel the pressure to deliver on what you've gone public about.”


Why Americans are eating more pork now than they have in decades

By The Washington Post

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


HUMESTON, Iowa — The Iowa Select pig farm gives its visitors headphones, because the squeal of hogs is deafening. This is either a chorus for the damned — or the sound of pork's ascendancy.

Americans, long devoted to chicken and beef, are eating more pork now than they have in years. And brand-new farms such as this one, a $20 million facility one hour south of Des Moines, are opening to meet demand for everything from pork belly to pig ears.

In Iowa alone, meatpackers have recently broken ground on new slaughterhouses worth well over $500 million. By the end of 2018, the Agriculture Department predicts that U.S. pork production will equal — and occasionally exceed — that of beef, though neither red meat yet rivals chicken.

Some of that demand will come from growing foreign markets. But Americans have developed a new taste for pork, particularly bacon, as well. According to the market research firm Euromonitor, sales of pork are up 20 percent in the United States since 2011.

“More people are eating out, and pork is in a good position in the food service sector,” said Dennis Smith, a commodities broker and analyst at Archer Financial Services. “Just look at all the bacon they're putting on burgers.”

As Smith and others who watch the hog industry explain it, a confluence of factors appears to lie behind pork's growing popularity. Bacon is indeed one of them: Last winter, demand grew so high that the country's pork-belly supply hit a 50-year low — sparking (unfounded) fears of a bacon shortage.

The growing influence of Asian cuisines, particularly Korean and Vietnamese, have also made some cuts of pork newly popular. In its 2016 food trends report, Google named char siu, bulgogi and banh mi — which frequently include pork — among the year's hottest foods.

And Americans are increasingly turning to fast-food restaurants for breakfast, where bacon and pork sausage are both popular.

Demographics play a major role, as well: Pork is a popular meat in Latino cooking, and sales have grown with that population.

Pork has also benefited from the fact that Americans' spending on food, particularly at restaurants, has rebounded since the recession. According to the USDA, Americans have spent more money at restaurants in each year since 2010. A 2013 study by researchers at Purdue University found that spending on meat, in particular, spiked after the recession, especially for high-quality cuts of chicken, pork and beef.

If all that weren't enough, pork has also had a little help from an organization called the Pork Board — an industry group that works to grow demand for the “other white meat.” (They are, in fact, the ones who coined that tagline in the 1980s.)

For the past several years, the Pork Board has been waging an aggressive campaign to popularize different cuts of pork, explained Jarrod Sutton, a marketing executive with the organization. Aside from publicizing pork recipes and rebranding several cuts — a pork chop can now be a “porterhouse,” for instance — the board has worked behind the scenes with restaurants and retailers, getting things such as pork bellies on their menus and in their meat cases.

Recently, Pork Board partnered with Longhorn Steakhouse — a chain best known, as its name implies, for gigantic servings of beef — to feature a sous-vide pork chop with garlic-herb butter.

According to Datassential, a market research firm that tracks restaurant menus, that is only one of many U.S. restaurants that have recently begun introducing dishes made with pork belly, pork shoulder, pulled pork and better chop cuts.

“How much pork are people willing to consume?” Sutton asked. “Based on the intelligence we have, it's only going to grow in the future.”

Anticipated growth in the United States is not the only reason that new hog farms and slaughterhouses are popping up across the Midwest. Foreign demand is also strong in markets such as Mexico, China and Japan, and hog farms and processors are becoming more productive.

A number of companies have recently decided to embark on expansion projects. In Sioux City, an afternoon's drive from the Humeston pig farm, Seaboard Triumph Foods is building a huge, $300 million plant that will span almost a million square feet and process upward of 20,000 hogs a day. Prestage Foods, a large producer of pork and turkey, recently broke ground on a new pork plant in Eagle Grove, Iowa, that will process 10,000 hogs each day.

When these facilities open, USDA predicts, an additional 900 million pounds of pork will hit the U.S. market — which may edge prices down a bit and further stimulate demand. In either case, by the end of 2018 U.S. farmers are expected to produce as much pork as beef — which is, for the pork industry, an unprecedented accomplishment.

“It's never happened before,” Smith said. “It's the first time in history that pork has equaled or surpassed beef production.”


US growth in Jan.-March upgraded to still-slow 1.2 pct. rate

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 9:06 p.m.


WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy began 2017 with a whimper — though not quite as weak a whimper as the government had first estimated.

The gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of the economy — expanded in the January-March quarter at a 1.2 percent annual rate, the government said Friday. That was better than its initial estimate of a 0.7 percent rate but far below President Donald Trump's growth targets, which most economists consider unrealistic.

The government's upgraded estimate of first-quarter growth reflected new-found strength in consumer spending, business investment and state and local government spending.

Many analysts have estimated that growth in the current April-June quarter is rebounding to an annual rate above 3 percent. They envision stronger consumer spending fueled by solid hiring, with unemployment at a decade low of 4.4 percent, and increased consumer spending. They note that growth in the first quarter was held down by some unusual temporary factors, including unseasonably warm weather, which limited spending on utilities.

Friday's upgraded estimate of first-quarter growth “doesn't alter the fact that it was another disappointing start to the year,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. But Ashworth and other analysts said they still envision more robust expansion in the current quarter.

“Growth is bouncing back in the second quarter,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC. “Consumer spending continues to expand with job and wage gains, and business investment is picking up, especially for energy-related industries.”

After the expected rebound this spring, though, analysts generally foresee growth falling back to an annual rate of 2 percent to 2.5 percent in the second half of the year — the same modest pace that has prevailed for nearly all the eight years of this economic recovery, the slowest expansion in the post-World War II period.

During the campaign, Trump bemoaned the economy's weak growth and blamed what he called the Obama administration's failed policies. He had vowed that his program of tax cuts, deregulation and tougher enforcement of trade agreements would double growth to 4 percent or better.

The 2018 budget plan that the Trump administration proposed this week projects a lesser but still questionable rate of expansion: It assumes that a mix of sharp spending and tax cuts can both shrink the deficit and fuel growth of 3 percent a year, a pace it hasn't reached on a sustained basis in more than two decades.

Many experts have dismissed the notion that the economy can achieve a consistent annual growth rate of at least 3 percent at a time of sluggish worker productivity, an aging workforce and slower spending by consumers — on top of Trump's proposed spending cuts to education, research and social programs.

The economy grew 1.6 percent for all of last year, the poorest showing in five years. With Trump's legislative program meeting resistance in Congress, forecasters have been paring their growth estimates for the second half of this year.

Friday's upward revision for the first quarter — the government's second of three estimates — reflected a boost in consumer spending to an annual rate of 0.6 percent. That was still the slowest in seven years but was up from an initial estimate of 0.3 percent. Analysts generally say consumer spending is likely expanding in the current quarter at a much faster rate, lifted by modest income gains and by the tendency of consumers to spend more at a time of rising stock prices and home values.

The government's upgraded estimate was also driven by lower declines in spending by state and local governments than initially thought and stronger investment by businesses in structures and intellectual property.


Hard Rock charts different path for Trump's former casino
Market sets more records, barely, as stocks rise for 7th day

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 5:18 p.m.


NEW YORK — U.S. stocks made the tiniest of gains Friday as media companies and sellers of beauty products and food ticked higher. Major indexes added to their winning streak and record highs.

Stocks spent the day flipping back and forth between small gains and losses. Beauty products maker Ulta rose after a strong first-quarter report and competitor and Coty climbed as well. Media companies including Comcast and Disney also advanced while video game and drug companies slipped. The market has been steady in recent months, and with investors looking forward to the Memorial Day holiday Monday, trading was light.

It was the seventh gain in a row for the Standard & Poor's 500 index and Nasdaq composite following their biggest loss this year.

“Investors have been conditioned over multiple years to buy the dip any time there's a market pullback,” said Jason Draho, the head of American tactical asset allocation for UBS Wealth Management. He said that's one reason stocks have been so steady lately.

The S&P 500 index added 0.75 points to 2,145.82. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 2.67 points to 21,080.28. The Nasdaq composite rose 4.94 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,210.19. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fell 1.14 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,382.24.

Some of the market's biggest moves were based on company earnings, and many of those came from consumer-focused companies. Ulta Beauty gained $9.36, or 3.1 percent, to $302.40. Costco Wholesale rose $3.13, or 1.8 percent, to $177.86 after the warehouse club had a strong quarter as sales and member payments both increased.

Uggs maker Deckers Outdoor turned in earnings that were stronger than expected, and its stock gained $10.64, or 18.8 percent, to $67.21.

GameStop's first-quarter results were stronger than analysts expected, but sales of new software and wireless devices were disappointing. The stock gave up $1.40, or 5.9 percent, to $22.22. Video game publishers also fell. Activision Blizzard lost 94 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $58.28 and Electronic Arts slid $1.70, or 1.5 percent, to $112.13. Take-Two Interactive Software shed $1.46, or 1.9 percent, to $77.07.

The VIX, an index that is called Wall Street's “fear gauge” because it measures how much volatility investors expect, fell for the seventh day in a row. After a huge spike last Wednesday, the 27-year-old index is trading near all-time lows. It sank to 9.81 Friday. The only time it was lower was late December 1993.

The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew 1.2 percent in the first quarter, which was still weak but better than it originally estimated. Draho, of UBS Wealth Management, said that when the economy is steady, the market usually is, too.

The U.S. economy and stock market have both been moving up for eight years. Draho said that as a bull market gets older, stocks don't move in the same direction as often. When one stock or one sector rises and another falls, that makes the overall market flatter and less volatile.

Crude oil prices bounced back from a sharp drop the day before. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 90 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $49.80 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, added 69 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $52.15 a barrel in London.

On Thursday a group of 24 nations including the OPEC countries agreed to a nine-month extension of a cut in oil production. But energy companies, which have lagged the market dramatically this year, hardly budged. The S&P 500's energy company index is down 12 percent in 2017 while the broader S&P 500 is up almost 8 percent.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline added 3 cents to $1.64 a gallon. Heating oil gained 1 cent to $1.56 a gallon. Natural gas rose 5 cents to $3.24 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The dollar sank to 111.19 yen from 111.80 yen. The euro fell to $1.1176 from $1.1205.

As the dollar weakened, gold rose $11.70 to $1,268.10 an ounce and silver gained 13 cents to $17.32 an ounce. Copper fell 3 cents to $2.57 a pound.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.25 percent.

Germany's DAX lost 0.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in Britain rose 0.4 percent. The French CAC 40 fell by a fraction of a percentage point. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index shed 0.6 percent but the South Korean Kospi climbed 0.5 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was nearly unchanged.


OPEC extends output cut, but big oil price increase unlikely

By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017, 5:46 p.m.


VIENNA — An alliance of many of the world's biggest oil-producing nations extended an agreement to cut output for an additional nine months — an effort to support prices that will prove difficult in the face of growing production from the United States.

Thursday's decision by the OPEC cartel — now comprising 14 members with the entry of Equatorial Guinea — and 10 other countries led by Russia, means that the reductions of 1.8 million barrels a day agreed on in November will stay in place until March.

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid A. Al-Falih, who presided over the meeting, said he expected that the extension should reduce high crude inventories to a level corresponding to “the five-year average by the end of the year.”

Less oil on the market normally means higher value per barrel. But any uptick in prices may be modest and temporary.

The OPEC alliance faces competition from U.S. shale producers. Many have returned to the market since crude prices have risen from last year's lows to more than $50 a barrel, and more are set to resume operations if crude prices go even higher.

That could increase supplies and drag down prices again.

Investors seemed to focus on that reality Thursday, when they pushed the price of crude to levels seen before OPEC's meeting in November. The U.S. benchmark for crude was down $2.25 a barrel at $49.11.

The upshot is that the price of oil — and derived products such as fuel — is unlikely to increase much in coming months. That will be welcome news to consumers and energy-hungry businesses worldwide but could continue to strain the budgets of some of the more economically troubled oil-producing nations, including Venezuela and Brazil.

Tamar Essner, director of energy and utilities at Nasdaq Corporate Solutions, said the countries that had agreed to the cut had complied by easing production but continued to export at high levels from existing inventories.

“This is significant in partially explaining why crude stocks ... have stayed so high,” she said.

Al-Falih dismissed the market reaction, noting that world economies are growing and continue to depend largely on crude as their lifeblood.

“I never worry about the daily reaction of the market,” he told reporters.

The decision extends a cut of 1.2 million barrels a day by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Non-OPEC countries led by Russia chipped in with a further 600,000-barrel reduction.

The problem for OPEC is that while crude sits substantially below the highs around $100 a barrel reached in 2014, it is high enough to bring back into the market U.S. producers who eased back as prices tumbled last year. U.S. shale production requires a higher price to be profitable compared with traditional crude oil.

U.S. output since last year has increased by nearly a million barrels a day to 9 million barrels. That already puts American producers in the league with oil giants Saudi Arabia and Russia and cuts further into OPEC's past ability to play a role in setting prices and supplies.

More than 400 oil rigs are working U.S. shale fields — an increase of more than 120 percent from a year ago. And U.S. producers are poised to expand more, even if prices tick upward only moderately as a result of the oil-cut extension by OPEC and its partners.

Commerzbank cited data from the U.S. Department of Energy saying U.S. production was roughly 540,000 barrels per day higher in mid-May than at the start of the year.

“This offsets nearly half of OPEC's production cuts,” it noted.

With shale oil here to stay, OPEC officials on Thursday said they were reaching out to U.S. producers to coordinate actions, but acknowledged that their efforts were at the beginning stage.

“We have to break some barriers,” said OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo. He said “we broke bread” with shale producers at recent meetings in Houston and Vienna, adding, “we all belong in the same boat ... and with this breaking of the ice, we hope to develop this relationship further.”

Al-Falih said it is important for shale oil producers like those in the United States to pace their output. Too rapid a growth risks “potentially oversupplying the market and revisiting 2014” — a reference to the year when crude prices fell from over $100 per barrel to below $50.

At the same time, Al-Falih indicated OPEC is in for the long run. “We will do whatever is necessary,” he said. Holding out the possibility of a further extension in March, he said “we will cross that bridge when necessary.”

The decision to maintain oil cuts may in fact have only kicked the can down the road until March. Crude prices are unlikely to rise substantially — and that means the era of windfall profits appears to be over for member nations, at least for now.

While analysts at research firm IHS Markit expect OPEC revenues to rise modestly this year after dropping from their peak of $1.2 trillion in 2012, “the total will be less than half the level of 2012, when prices were more than double current levels.”


Home equity is back, so why aren't more people borrowing?

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 2:15 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Alicia Johnson and her husband wanted to renovate their home last fall but ran into a roadblock: When they tried to refinance their mortgage and borrow against their equity, five banks said no.

Problem was, the Johnsons' mortgage covered their home in Christiansburg, Va., and some adjacent land — a deal-breaker.

“They all pointed to the same thing: The rules have changed,” Johnson said. The banks refused to lend against both the home and the land.

Their frustration reflects a major factor slowing a still-sluggish U.S. economy: The inability of many to tap their home equity.

Americans have long borrowed against the ownership stakes in their homes to buy cars, build decks and renovate houses. That borrowing helped accelerate consumer spending, the U.S. economy's primary fuel — until the housing bust struck a decade ago and shrank home prices.

But prices have recovered, and housing equity now equals 58 percent of home values — the highest point since 2006. Yet borrowing against that equity has barely budged from post-recession lows, which helps explain why consumer spending remains weak eight years after the Great Recession ended.

On Friday, the government is expected to estimate that the economy grew at an annual rate below 1 percent in the January-March quarter, thanks in large part to anemic spending.

The main problem, according to consumer surveys and banking analysts, is that despite low interest rates, it's become harder to borrow. The web of lending regulations that was tightened after the financial crisis has yet to be eased. Many households would like to borrow more through home equity credit lines or cash-outs from loan refinancings. But having been burned by defaults during the financial crisis, banks are demanding nearly pristine credit.

“It's harder to do a cash-out refinancing or get a home equity line of credit than it used to be,” said Karen Dynan, who was a chief economist at the Treasury Department in the Obama administration. “That has dampened the housing wealth effect” — the tendency of households to spend more when home values rise.

Johnson, 54, had hoped to spend $30,000 on the renovation. It would have meant building a music studio and adding wheelchair ramps and other modifications for her husband, a disabled veteran. That project is now on hold.

Americans do carry slightly more overall debt than before the recession, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. But that's mainly because of huge increases in student loans. By contrast, the kind of debt that fuels consumption — credit-card borrowing as well as housing debt — remains well-below pre-recession peaks.


Certified pre-owned cars cost more, but come with perks
Moody's cuts China credit rating over rising debt


By The Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 6:48 p.m.


BEIJING — The Moody's ratings agency Wednesday cut China's credit rating because of surging debt, prompting a protest by Beijing and highlighting challenges faced by Communist leaders as they overhaul a slowing economy.

The downgrade adds to warnings about China's reliance on credit to propel growth after the 2008 global crisis. Private sector analysts say it could drag on the economy or threaten the health of the state-owned banking industry.

Moody's Investors Service cut Beijing's long-term local currency and foreign currency issuer ratings by one notch to A1 from Aa3. It said China's financial strength is likely to erode as growth slows and debt will rise further.

Moody's last downgraded China's credit rating in November of 1989, months after the bloody crackdown on democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

“We expect direct government, indirect and economy-wide debt to continue to rise, signaling an erosion of China's credit profile,” Moody's said in a statement.

The Chinese finance ministry criticized the decision. It said Moody's overestimated difficulties facing the world's second-largest economy and underestimated Beijing's industrial reform and financial strength.

Estimates of China's total nongovernment debt have risen from the equivalent of 170 percent of annual economic output in 2007 to 260 percent last year.

Communist leaders have cited reducing financial risk as a priority this year. They have launched initiatives to reduce debts owed by state companies, including by allowing banks to accept stock to repay loans. But private sector analysts say they are moving too slowly.

The Moody's announcement triggered a sell-off in Chinese stocks. The country's market benchmark, the Shanghai Composite Index, declined 0.6 percent by midday but recovered to end the day unchanged.

A finance ministry statement accused Moody's of using “inappropriate methods” that it said gave a false picture of China's financial outlook.

The ministry complained Moody's failed to give enough weight to economic reforms. The government is trying to make the economy more productive by giving market forces a bigger role and through “supply side reform,” or shrinking bloated industries such as steel and cement in which supply exceeds demand, which has depressed prices and led to financial losses.

“It overestimates the difficulties facing the Chinese economy and underestimates the government's ability to deepen supply side structural reform and appropriately expand overall demand,” the ministry said.

Chinese economic growth fell from 14.2 percent in 2007 to 6.7 percent last year, though that still was among the world's strongest.

The finance ministry noted the growth rate ticked up to 6.9 percent in the quarter ending in March and said tax revenue rose 11.8 percent in the first four months of the year.

Beijing is trying to steer the economy to slower, more sustainable growth based on domestic consumption instead of investment and exports. But growth has repeatedly dipped faster than planners wanted, raising the risk of politically dangerous job losses. Beijing has responded by flooding the economy with credit.

“The planned reform program is likely to slow, but not prevent, the rise in leverage,” Moody's said. “The importance the authorities attach to maintaining robust growth will result in sustained policy stimulus, given the growing structural impediments to achieving current growth targets. Such stimulus will contribute to rising debt across the economy as a whole.”

The agency changed its outlook to stable from negative, saying risks are now balanced and growth will likely remain relatively strong. Moody's expects economic growth to decline to close to 5 percent over the next five years.


Sunday pops
Memorial Day 2017: Lest we forget

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


For Memorial Day, a classic Trib editorial:

On this Memorial Day, be grateful that Americans' willingness to sacrifice for freedom's sake, instilled by each generation in the next, remains as strong as ever.

Today, Americans honor those most worthy of such gratitude — those who gave their lives in our nation's service. Be proud and thankful that their spirit of sacrifice lives on undiminished among our men and women in uniform, all volunteers, serving and dying today in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Veterans' graves are emblems of that same spirit, whether they hold the remains of heroes who fell in Baghdad or Saigon, on Omaha Beach or in a western European trench. To those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our liberty, all Americans owe the ultimate debt, one greater than we ever can repay fully.

We can, however, pay down that debt by ensuring that Memorial Day does not lose its meaning. We must put first thanking veterans marching in parades (by standing and applauding), paying proper respect to the flag for which so many have died (by saluting it or holding our hands over our hearts as it passes), caring for the graves of fallen heroes (by tending to them with quiet reverence) and praying for those lost (with the deepest of humility).

Their duty is done. Ours is to honor them, especially today, on Memorial Day, knowing full well that our obligation to them is as eternal, sacred and unchanging as their sacrifice.


The fracking-crew shortage: Good problem to have

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


Drilling for oil always has been a boom-or-bust business — before and after fracking brought new efficiencies and capacity to tap previously unreachable reserves. So it's no surprise that the U.S. industry, reacting to market forces just as it did when it reduced fracking crews during a recent global glut, is scrambling for such workers now that prices have firmed up.

Bloomberg News reports that independent U.S. drillers' first-quarter spending lagged projections due to the fracking-crew shortage, according to an oil field services and exploration consulting firm. Demand is so much greater than supply that Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. is among producers that have even seen some fracking crews pay penalties to ditch scheduled jobs and take higher-paying contracts.

The difficulties this situation presents for the industry and for fracking-dependent communities are real — but temporary. Market forces are at work that will resolve them. And the fracking-crew shortage means opportunity for workers, including those sidelined during the preceding glut.

Inextricably tied to the fracking revolution that has taken America from being at OPEC's mercy to the brink of energy independence, this crew shortage is a good problem to have. And with fracking making drilling profitable at ever lower per-barrel prices in the global market, U.S. oil should remain competitive — and keep blunting OPEC's influence — for years to come.


Bad for teachers, too: Better pension options

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


If $63 billion in unfunded public pension liabilities aren't reasons enough for Pennsylvania lawmakers to pass pension-reform legislation, a peer-reviewed journal offers a different but equally compelling case to correct the state's course.

The Education Next article projects that nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvania teachers — who need 10 years' service for vesting — will never collect full pension benefits under the existing defined-benefit system. And needing 25 years' service for their pension benefits to exceed their contributions (plus rate of return on that money), fewer than three in 10 will break even.

That perversely incentivizes less effective teachers to remain in classrooms and more effective teachers to leave after 25 to 30 years, when their pensions' value stops growing.

Thus, the pension status quo, already bad for taxpayers, is also “a bad deal for teachers,” according to the Commonwealth Foundation, which maintains that this revenue sinkhole is “crowding out other state programs” and is “the number one driver of school property taxes, and of teacher layoffs.”

It's time to pass Senate Bill 1, which would give new public employees better options for themselves and for taxpayers — “hybrid” plans combining aspects of traditional defined-benefit and 401(k)-style defined-contribution plans, as well as an entirely 401(k)-style plan.

As Commonwealth says, the longer pension reform takes, “the greater the taxpayer-funded debt and the longer employees are trapped in restrictive retirement plans.”


Pa.'s REAL ID fix: So far, so good
Saturday essay: 'Because they were'

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


On this Memorial Day weekend, an apropos reminder from the Trib Saturday essay archive:

“The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten,” said Calvin Coolidge, accepting the Republican nomination for vice president in 1920.

“In the aftermath, we are because they were,” offered author R.J. Heller.

Observed photographer Bob Richardson, “They were all in and they were all together, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms,” said G.K. Chesterton, the iconic English essayist. “It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.”

From evangelist Billy Graham, “When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

“For love of country, they accepted death,” said President James A. Garfield.

Said classic poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “They are dead; but they live in each Patriot's breast, And their names are engraven on honor's bright crest.”

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave,” said Elmer Davis, the great World War II-era radio reporter.

Fly the flag this Memorial Day weekend, dear reader. Honor the sacrifices of the fallen. Honor the memories of the brave. For, indeed, “we are because they were.”


Lessons from the Battle of Midway

By Victor Davis Hanson

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Seventy-five years ago (June 4-7, 1942), the astonishing American victory at the Battle of Midway changed the course of the Pacific War.

Just six months after the catastrophic Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. crushed the Imperial Japanese Navy off Midway Island.

“Midway” referred to the small atoll roughly halfway between North America and Asia. But to Americans, “Midway” became a barometer of military progress. Just half a year after being surprised at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy had already destroyed almost half of Japan's existing carrier strength.

The odds at the June 1942 battle favored the Japanese. The imperial fleet had four carriers to the Americans' three, backed up by scores of battleships, cruisers and light carriers as part of the largest armada that had ever steamed from Japan.

Japan's advance

No military had ever won more territory in six months than had Japan. Its Pacific Empire ranged from the Indian Ocean to the coast of the Aleutian Islands, and from the Russian-Manchurian border to Wake Island in the Pacific.

Yet the Japanese Navy was roundly defeated by an outnumbered and inexperienced American fleet at Midway. Why and how?

American intelligence officers had cracked the Japanese naval codes, giving the Americans some idea of the Japanese plan of attack.

American commanders were far more open to improvising and risk-taking than their Japanese counterparts.

In contrast, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto created an elaborate but rigid plan of attack that included an invasion of the Aleutian Islands as well as Midway.

But such impractical agendas dispersed the much larger Japanese fleet all over the central and northern Pacific, ensuring that the Japanese could never focus their overwhelming numerical advantages on the modest three-carrier American fleet.

The U.S. Navy was also far more resilient than its Japanese counterpart.

A month earlier at the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese suffered damage to one of their carriers and serious aircraft losses on another. The American carrier Lexington was sunk, and the Yorktown was severely damaged.

But whereas the Japanese took months repairing the bombed carrier Shokaku and replenishing the lost planes of the Zuikaku, the crippled Yorktown was made seaworthy again at Pearl Harbor just 72 hours after limping into port.

The result of such incredible adaptability was that at Midway the Americans had three carriers (rather than two), against four for the Japanese (instead of a possible six).

Midway was probably the best chance for Japan to destroy U.S. naval power in the Pacific before America's enormous war industry created another new fleet entirely.

Just months after Midway, new American Essex-class carriers — the most lethal afloat — would be launched. Before the war ended, 17 of the planned 24 carriers would see action.

Japan launched only four more fleet carriers to replace its growing losses. Japanese naval aircraft — the best in the world in 1941 — were becoming obsolete by mid-1942.

In contrast, in the months after Midway, tens of thousands of new and superior Hellcat fighters, Avenger torpedo bombers and Helldiver dive bombers rolled off American assembly lines.

During the Battle of Midway itself, Japanese Admiral Chuichi Nagumo fatally hesitated in launching his air fleet. He was wedded to rigid doctrine about prepping his planes with the proper munitions.

In contrast, American Admirals Raymond Spruance and Frank Jack Fletcher gambled and sent most of the planes they had at the first inkling of the approaching Japanese fleet.

Japan could not equal American industrial strength, but American aviators and seamen could certainly match the Samurai courage of their Japanese counterparts.

U.S. strategy

At Midway, 37 of the 41 slow-flying and obsolete American Devastator torpedo bombers lumbered to their deaths, as they were easily picked off by Japanese air cover.

But such heroic sacrificial pawns drew off critical Japanese fighter protection from the fleet. In its absence, scores of high-flying Dauntless dive bombers descended unnoticed to blast the Japanese carriers with near impunity.

Americans took chances to win an incredible victory. The Japanese command chose to play it safe.

Midway was not the beginning of the end for Japan.

Just five months later off the island of Guadalcanal, only one American fleet carrier was left undamaged in the Pacific after a series of brutal sea battles. Instead, the victory at Midway was the end of the American beginning.

Before Midway, the Americans had rarely won a Pacific battle; afterwards, they seldom lost. America's culture of spontaneity, flexibility and improvisation helped win the battle; Japanese reliance on rote probably lost it.

We should remember those lessons 75 years later.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.


Quote for a Sunday

By Tribune-Review

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

— Mark Twain


Digital tools connect with tech-savvy students
Safe spaces revisited

By Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


The world appears to be quite a terrifying place to a lot of people. They are convinced, for example, that unsupervised children will be abducted. Busybody neighbors are prone to involving the authorities, but what are the actual odds of that happening? About one in 750,000.

College students are similarly terrified. “Trump 2016” written in chalk on a sidewalk at Emory University was so jarring that the university provided counseling for everyone who saw or heard about it. One student put it succinctly, saying “I don't deserve to feel afraid at my school.”

Students at the University of Michigan claimed that wood paneling — yes, wood paneling — marginalizes minority students because it is “quiet, imposing, and masculine.”

And travel is also a place of, well, terror. Just last year, an airline passenger was so frightened of a foreign-looking economist scribbling mathematical equations that the pilot had to return to the gate. But then, math has always been scary.

The reality is that the United States has become so incredibly safe over the past generation that we have, thankfully, forgotten what real fear is. The downside is that people feel compelled to invent new and ever more ridiculous bogeymen to keep themselves occupied. And there is apparently nothing so asinine that it won't suffice.

Not to be outdone by college students, public school administrators have declared “zero tolerance” for nearly everything that ever scared anyone, reasonable or not, including bringing a squirt gun to school, which resulted in a year-long suspension for a Prattville, Ala., student. Could any rational person possibly be afraid of a squirt gun? The key word here is “rational.”

No, the problem isn't that the world is unsafe. The problem is that a vocal minority of people appear to have come unglued. When faced with possible fears, rational people take a deep breath and look at evidence. And there is plenty of evidence available.

According to FBI crime statistics , the incidence of murder and non-negligent manslaughter is down 47 percent since the 1980s. Robbery is down 51 percent, aggravated assault is down 25 percent, rape is down 26 percent and property crime is down 43 percent during the same period. Over just a few decades, virtually every category of serious crime has seen incredible declines.

The United States itself is a safe space — and it is getting safer.

As if that weren't enough, the firearm-homicide rate is down 33 percent since the 1980s — and down a whopping 49 percent from 1993. Yet in a 2013 Pew poll , 45 percent of respondents said they believed gun violence was up in recent years, and 39 percent said it was about the same. Think about that: 84 percent of people said they believed gun violence was either the same or worse over the same period that gun violence had actually declined by half.

These aren't people who are unjustifiably afraid. These are people who are woefully ignorant of reality or, worse, simply like being afraid. Either way, that these people vote at all is the real cause for concern.

If you need to be afraid of something, be afraid of that.

Antony Davies is associate professor of economics at Duquesne University. James R. Harrigan is CEO of FreedomTrust.


A beef with Pittsburgh Public Schools

By Colin Mcnickle

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


“Where's the beef?!” That was the catchphrase of the comical fast-food commercial of 1984. It was the retort of elderly actress Clara Peller when, upon removing the top of a competitor's “big bun,” she found a diminutive hamburger patty.

The Madison Avenue line quickly entered the popular lexicon, indicative of something presented as quite grandiose when, in fact, it is rife with shortcomings. Put another way — all sizzle and no steak.

Put yet another way: “So many plans and so little to show for them.”

That's how the president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy describes the “sad and long-running story of Pittsburgh Public Schools over the last several decades.”

“Overall student academic performance languishes in a sorry state and the academic achievement gap (between white and black students) persists,” says Jake Haulk.

“And of late, graduation rates for African-American students have plummeted,” he reminds. “Now a new superintendent offers yet another plan. It has serious flaws.”

Haulk notes that school superintendents have come and gone about every five years in Pittsburgh since 2000. “Each one has offered new ideas and strategies to combat the long-standing problem,” he notes. None has succeeded.

The latest plan comes from Superintendent Anthony Hamlet on the heels of January's devastating report by the Council of the Great City Schools. It found no progress in academic achievement since its last report a decade ago.

Haulk says the new improvement blueprint falls woefully short in describing the scope of Pittsburgh Public Schools' problems. It also fails to establish timely metrics by which the progress of the proposed initiatives can be measured, he says.

“But before the board and superintendent do anything, they should look at all the failed programs and previous strategies that have been announced with so much fanfare and at a cost of untold millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours of employees' time,” he says.

“(It's) time to stop looking for answers in jargon-filled, pretentious-sounding planning.”

Haulk says the district must take two important steps to have any hope of achieving the goals set forth in the latest strategic plan.

First, not only must annual targets be established for measuring overall performance, Haulk says separate goals must be set for black students “where the gains will have to be much larger than for white students if the gap is to ever be closed.”

Second, the district's massive absenteeism problem must be reduced. Attendance rates at many schools are unacceptably low.

Haulk says the seemingly endless efforts to improve academic standards and close the achievement gap never address the heart of the problems. Administrators and the school board “cannot bring themselves to admit they have been unable to solve the problems because they are blinded and hamstrung by politics and special interests,” he says.

Until Pittsburgh Public Schools officials can address the district's chronic problems honestly, the debate will be long on big bun and short on beef, shortchanging students and taxpayers.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghnyinstitute.org).


The New York Times' green baloney

By John Stossel

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


The New York Times' hostility to industry gets worse every day.

Recently The Times ran a big picture of a bay in Alaska with the headline “In Reversal, E.P.A. Eases Path for a Mine Near Alaska's Bristol Bay.” While this was just another of their stories about how Donald Trump will poison America, it caught my eye because of the big photo and because I once reported on that mine.

Attempted mine, I should say. No holes have been dug.

I reported on Pebble Mine because the EPA rejected the mine even before its environmental impact statement was submitted. There are documents that reveal collusion between the EPA and Pebble's political opponents.

One of America's richest environmental groups (they collect more than $10 million per month) is the Natural Resources Defense Council. Their website claims “Science empowers NRDC's work,” but the NRDC is run by lawyers, not scientists, and many are anti-progress activists upset about “corporate greed.”

NRDC spokesman Bob Deans told me that the NRDC isn't anti-progress — it just wants the “right” kind: “Wind turbines, solar panels ... this is what the future needs.”

“But we also need copper and gold,” I said.

“Well, that's right,” he replied. “But we have to weigh those risks.”

“Are there some mines where NRDC says, ‘Go ahead!'?” I asked.

After thinking for a while, he said, “It's not up to us to greenlight mines.”

I asked, “Are there any you don't complain about?”

“Sure,” he told me. He said he'd send us names. He never did.

Now Trump's in charge and his EPA says it will re-evaluate the mine. Good. It should.

But New York Times reporters can't stand that. They've smeared Pebble year after year.

The most recent smear piece was written by Tatiana Schlossberg. Name sound familiar? She's Caroline Kennedy's daughter, granddaughter of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Her Times articles are a litany of enviro-hysteria: “Mass Die-off of Whales”; “How Lowering Crime Could Contribute to Global Warming.” I'm not making this up.

Her last anti-Trump column was headlined: “23 Environmental Rules Rolled Back.” But the article lists only nine. Fourteen others were “under review” or in “limbo” — not rolled back.

Her Bristol Bay story claimed the proposed Pebble Mine was “on” Bristol Bay. But it isn't. It's more than 100 miles away.

When we asked Schlossberg about that, she replied, “I'm not going to comment on that. If you have a problem or a question, you can direct it to the standards editor.”

So we did, and to my surprise, the standards editor published a correction: “The mine is not on Bristol Bay itself.”

But he defended The Times' headline saying “near Bristol Bay” because “it is in the watershed of Bristol Bay ... (T)he mine could affect the fishery.”

I suppose it “could.” But “near” the bay? To me, “near” is 200 yards, or maybe half a mile, but not 100 miles.

The Schlossberg-Kennedys have hundreds of millions of dollars and already own 300 acres of waterfront property. They won't be crushed by insane environmental restrictions.

You, however, may be.

John Stossel is the author of “No They Can't! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed.”


Saluting a life of service
Small gestures key to honoring their sacrifice

By Tom Purcell

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


“Parades, mattress sales and burgers on the grill are all nice, but I feel we should do more to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

“Ah, yes, you speak of the Memorial Day holiday, a day intended to honor the men and women who gave their lives to protect the freedoms too many Americans take for granted.”

“That's right. Look, there should be debate about the wars we have been fighting, but there should be no debate about honoring the men and women who died serving our country — or the men and women who continue to serve.”

“I couldn't agree more. Millions of service people have sacrificed plenty over the years. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 42 million American men and women have served during wartime. Nearly 1.5 million were wounded. Nearly 1.2 million died.”

“Honoring these people with annual parades is a nice gesture, but we can all do more to support our troops.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“The Veterans of Foreign Wars says we can write to people who are serving overseas or recuperating in military hospitals. These individuals love receiving emails, letters and care packages.”

“A wonderful start. What else can we do to better support the troops?”

“Donate time. The local VFW, the American Legion and other legitimate organizations are always in need of volunteers to support a variety of fundraising and recognition events. Simply contact your local VFW or American Legion office to learn how you may help.”

“Surely we can donate money, too?”

“Anyone can help fund a variety of needed services for military members — or support the Red Cross to provide basic necessities to service members in military hospitals. Just be sure you are funding a legitimate organization. Regrettably, there are some charlatans out there. Before giving money, check out the organization at a respectable validation service, such as charitywatch.org .”

“That's sound advice. What else can we do?”

“Lori Felix, an Army veteran and founder of More with Less Today, offers simple and inexpensive ways we can serve the military and its families at Military.com . She suggests that even small gestures of kindness, such as volunteering to place flags at grave sites, are more than welcome.”

“Great!”

“Offering assistance to the families of service members who have been deployed is helpful, too. Life can be tough for a husband or wife left behind as his or her spouse serves overseas. Felix writes that we can ‘Extend a hand in friendship to a military family. Invite them over for a meal, bring them a meal or invite them out for dinner. Something as simple as running an errand or taking a walk together can forge a friendship.'”

“What can we do to help the older men and women who have served?”

“Felix suggests we contact a nursing home or a veterans hospital: ‘A visit can brighten a day and help veterans to know they are not forgotten. The Walter Reed National Military Center has a Facebook page that provides inspiration and ideas.'”

“I have another idea that is near and dear to my own heart. There are war memorials in many aging communities that are being neglected. It takes a few volunteers, basic lawn equipment and some elbow grease to bring them back to life. Cleaning them up for Memorial Day is one of the most rewarding projects I ever participated in!”

“So we have a plan: If we want to especially enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, first offer up a small gesture of kindness in honor or those who served and are still serving!”

Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, lives in Library. His books include “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a Sean McClanahan mystery. Visit him on the web at TomPurcell.com. Email him at: Tom@TomPurcell.com.


How to restore American self-reliance

By George F. Will

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


WASHINGTON

When in the Senate chamber, Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, sits by choice at the desk used by the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. New York's scholar-senator would have recognized that Sasse has published a book of political philosophy in the form of a guide to parenting.

Moynihan understood that politics is downstream from culture, which flows through families. Sasse, a Yale history Ph.D. whose well-furnished mind resembles Moynihan's, understands this: America is a creedal nation made not by history's churning but by the decision of philosophic Founders. Modern America, with its enervating comforts — including cosseting parents — and present-minded education that produces cultural amnesia, must deliberately make its citizens. This requires constructing a menu of disciplines, rigors and instructions conducive to the grit, self-reliance and self-possession required for democratic citizenship.

Sasse's argument in “The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance” is not another scolding of the young. Rather, he regrets how the no-longer-young have crippled the rising generation with kindness, flinching from the truth that the good pain of hard physical work produces the “scar tissue of character.”

Adolescents spending scores of hours a week on screen time with their devices acquire “a zombie-like passivity” that saps their “agency.” This makes them susceptible to perpetual adolescence, and ill-suited to the velocity of life in an accelerating world of shorter job durations and the necessity of perpetual learning. In this world, Sasse warns, “college graduates will change not only jobs but industries an average of three times by age thirty.”

Childhood obesity has increased 500 percent in five decades. For “the most medicated generation of youth in history,” sales of ADHD drugs have increased 8 percent a year since 2010. Research shows that teenage texters exhibit addictive, sleep-depriving behaviors akin to those of habit-denying addictive gamblers. Teenagers clutching their devices “are spending nearly two-thirds of their waking hours with their eyes tied down and bodies stationary.”

Five million Americans, many of them low-skilled young men, play 45 hours of video games per week.

A realist perspective

In the long-running rivalry between the realist and romantic views of human nature, Sasse is firmly with the former. This aligns him against those who believe that schooling should be “a substitute for parents” as life's “defining formative institution.” In the progressive view of education with which the philosopher John Dewey imbued America's primary and secondary schools, parents “with their supposedly petty interests in their children as individuals” are deemed retrograde influences, hindering schools' mission of making malleable young people outfitted with the proper “social consciousness.” Schools should embrace the need of “controlling” students and “the influences by which they are controlled.” Parents must be marginalized lest they interfere with education understood, as Sasse witheringly says, as “not primarily about helping individuals, but rather about molding the collective.”

When America was founded, Sasse the historian reminds us, “nobody commuted to work. People worked where they lived.” Before the “generational segregation” of modern life, children saw adults working, and were expected to pitch in. The replacement of “the gritty parenting of early America” by “a more nurturing approach” coincided with the rise of mass schooling.

Sasse, 45, a former university president, regrets neither nurturing nor mass education. He does regret the failure to supplement these softening experiences with rigors sought out for their toughening effects. With ancestral Nebraska memories of hard life on the high plains, Sasse thinks the generation coming of age “has begun life with far too few problems.” He has tried to spare his daughters this disabling aspect of modern life.

When his 14-year-old daughter Corrie spent a month at a cattle ranch, her texts included: “Kids learned that artificial insemination works 60% of the time. Then the ‘clean-up bull' gets called to duty.” “I've gone 4 days w/out a single ‘electrifying experience' with a fence. I might not have electrocution in my future.”

America, Sasse says, needs to teach its children what life used to teach everyone, and what F. Scott Fitzgerald told his daughter: “Nothing any good isn't hard.” What will be hard is the future of Americans who do not cultivate a toughness that goes against the grain of today's America.

George F. Will is a columnist for Newsweek and The Washington Post.


Oppose EPA cuts

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Be prepared to see headlines such as “Cancer cases on the rise as many fall prey to unregulated carcinogens in drinking water” and “Unsupervised hazardous waste site pollutes surrounding air, local residents complain” more often as the Environmental Protection Agency budget is slashed by 31 percent under the current regime.

What would this mean for citizens like you and me? The new budget proposes to cut back the EPA's clean-air programs, making leeway for corporate giants to go unchecked and threaten our health.

Enforcement of the Clean Water Rule that protects 8 million Pennsylvanians will also be weakened, enabling more Flint-esque crises in the coming months.

The Energy Star Program that has saved you thousands of dollars in utility bills in the last 20 years would be eliminated in the proposed budget.

We need an army of Erin Brockoviches to stop this from happening. In an era when basic science is being questioned without embarrassment and “facts” don't matter, let's commit to defending the EPA by making our voices heard by our elected officials.

We need Sen. Pat Toomey and members of Congress to vote against this ludicrous budget cut. Let's be on the side of science, on the side of the planet, this once.

Sohini Bagchi

Shadyside


Standing behind Trump
Neocons & N. Korea

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


The United States has no God-given right to wage war against North Korea based on American fear over the nuclear threat posed by that nation in future events.

There are a lot of aggressive, warlike neocons in America who suffer from vicious sinful pride, diabolical self-righteousness and political paranoia. The neocons are willing to drag down and destroy all of humanity in Armageddon because North Korea is a threat to the security of the United States.

The neocons would sacrifice thousands of American troops, inculding Navy personnel, and South Korea and Japan in a quest for victory that would lead to World War III.

Let the nation that is without sin cast the first nuclear weapon. No nation is innocent. In the eternal mind of the spirit of the universe, the competition between North Korea and the United States may be responsible for the destruction of all life on the planet.

God have mercy on our souls. Pacem in terris.

Raymond Daugerdas

McKees Rocks


For shame, Gen. McMaster!

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


An open letter to Gen. H.R. McMaster, national security adviser:

For shame, sir! As a midshipman at the Naval Academy, I learned to respect and admire the Army motto, “Duty, Honor, Country.” And I was happy when you joined the White House staff, considering you to be one of the few honest and honorable adults there.

But when The Washington Post published a story alleging President Trump blurted out highly classified information to Russian visitors in the Oval Office, you stepped forward with a short press conference, starting by saying the story was false and ending with saying, “I was in the room. It did not happen.”

And you had a few carefully crafted words noting that the president did not reveal either intelligence methods or sources, but that was not the gist of the story.

The following day, after Trump undercut you by saying he had the right to release classified information, you scheduled a news conference. I hoped it was to announce your resignation. But you doubled down on your statement.

It's a sad end to the career of a distinguished soldier and author of “Dereliction of Duty.”

Tobias W.T. Burnett

Murrysville


Ditch, here we come

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


Where is our country headed?

Abortion is still the law of the land. Males marrying males. Females marrying females. Men going to the ladies' room. Ladies going to the men's room. Boys in the Girl Scouts. Can girls in the Boy Scouts be far behind? Women in the Army Rangers and Navy SEALs.

Partisan rancor has rendered the federal government largely dysfunctional. Secularism seems increasingly important in the authority and control of our society.

Somebody said that when you take God out of government, the government becomes God. Our country is headed for the ditch.

Ken Mowl

Hempfield


'Get Trump' mentality
Viewer: No cult member


By Letter to the Editor

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


In response to the letter “Fox News cult,” I would like the opportunity to question the writer's concerns.

She wrote that Fox News is a cult that has captivated our citizenry, and its viewers are cult members. How does the writer explain that, according to Nielsen Media Research reports, Fox News is the most-watched cable news channel over the last 15 years? In my opinion, it is the only source of news that is fair and balanced.

The author also suggests that these cult members should educate themselves with multiple sources of information that offer all sides to an argument. Is this even possible with all the fake and twisted news that benefits the left's agenda? Why did the University of California at Berkeley cancel Ann Coulter's speech, as well as those of other conservative speakers? I believe it is important for young adults to listen to others' points of view instead of only their liberal professors. There's always a double standard with the left.

As an educated, professional, conservative woman, I am proud to announce that I am a Fox News viewer. I am so over the name-calling. I am not deplorable, delusional or a cult member. I'm not racist, sexist or homophobic. I socialize with and support all types of individuals in my personal and professional lives. I am an individual with good character and an empathic heart.

Don't worry about the Fox News viewers; we're good.

Pamela Anderson

Mt. Pleasant Township


Greensburg shop is perfecting the wedding dress experience
Show your Pens pride ... get free food

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 2:03 p.m.


Hometown favorites Primanti Bros. and Eat'n Park are showing their loyalty to the Penguins by offering free food Monday to patrons who wear fan gear.

At Eat'n Park, any guests wearing Pens attire on May 29, the day of Game One of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators, will receive a free Smiley Cookie. Any form of Penguins attire is acceptable, from T-shirts and jerseys to pins and hats. The promotion lasts all day at any Eat'n Park restaurant in the Pittsburgh region.

Primanti Bros. restaurants will offer free fries to fans decked out in support of the Penguins from opening until the 8 p.m. puck drop on May 29, at all locations.


Transforming nature: Bonsai takes special care and infinite patience

By Doug Oster

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 12:01 p.m.


There's a feeling of awe walking into the South Park backyard of Bob Dietz. Homemade display racks filled with hundreds of bonsai trees are the results of 30 years of passionate and artistic gardening.

Poking your head in the basement reveals shelves on every wall with pots, wire and other bonsai supplies. He's not only past president of the Pittsburgh Bonsai Society, he also runs Bonsai in the Burgh, where members and others can find everything they need to craft their trees.

Dietz always loved plants, but it was a chance meeting in 1995 with the late Keith Scott, who founded the bonsai program at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, that changed his life.

Scott acted as mentor, and the two spent countless days for years working together on shaping and forming bonsai trees. One of Dietz's most prized specimens belonged to the man who inspired him.

“I have a lion's head maple that came from Keith Scott,” says Dietz, who was with Scott when he bought the tree; back then it was just a little sapling.

One thing about bonsai, Dietz says, “you never have one tree.” He started with 12, a donation from a club member.

Most of the plants he grows are specifically offered for growing as bonsai. They have been bought from bonsai nurseries, grown by other like-minded gardeners or found another way. Part of the fun, he says, is discovering something at a nursery not originally meant for bonsai, and usually on clearance.

“We don't want the true upright specimen, we want something that's deformed, that has character so to speak,” he adds with a laugh.

The idea is to slowly transform a tree in miniature to look like one that has been growing for decades or longer in the wild. It could be one tree, a tiny forest or take many other forms. Dietz gets inspiration for his creations by spending time in the woods.

“I really enjoy nature,” he says. “To see a tree that is distressed and survived through the elements and now to be able to try and mimic the tree in a miniature form, that's pretty impressive.”

He spends hours meticulously trimming and shaping the trees. Some of the branches and trunks are held in position by wires. It's a very individual creative endeavor as each gardener has a different vision for the tree.

“It's a living art form,” he says. “They are always growing; they never stay stagnant. You have to prune the top; you have to work on the roots.”

Patience is key, he says, but the ability to visualize is essential. “One of the hardest things about this is when you're working on a tree, you're thinking about what it's going to look like five or 10 years from now,” Dietz says.

Part of the art is knowing the limitations of the tree, like all things in gardening, nature is always in charge.

“If you take an Alberta spruce, prune it all up, make it real nice and put wire on it, when you take wire off maybe a year later, that spruce will go right back into its original position,” Dietz says.

One of the things that all gardeners know is that plants don't live forever. When he lost a 250-year-old ponderosa pine that belonged to his mentor, it was tough. “I was pretty low to lose something of that caliber,” he says.

Anyone can learn bonsai, he says, but there's a certain dedication needed to growing these trees that can rule a gardener's life.

“Sometimes it dictates when you go on vacation,” he says. “Because you can't leave them in the summer unless you have someone (with some expertise) who can water them. If your not committed to daily watering during the summertime, it's not something you should do.”

After a lifetime in industrial sales working purely for commission, he now uses bonsai as a way unwind.

“I get enjoyment out of creating something that's different,” he says. “It's a way for me to relax. I don't have anybody talking back to me, I just work on the tree and talk to the tree.”

***

Where's Doug?

On May 28, Tribune-Review and Everybody Gardens home and garden editor Doug Oster will hold his 14th annual Plant Swap and Giveaway.

The event will be from 11 a.m. to noon at Soergel Orchards in Wexford. Bring divisions from your garden to trade with other gardeners. Be sure plants are labeled, and please don't bring anything invasive. Thousands of gardeners attend every year, and it's a wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded people.

He'll also be giving away ‘Limbaugh Legacy Potato Top' tomato plants. It's a Pittsburgh heirloom tomato introduced to Oster in 2000 by Fred Limbaugh, now deceased. Oster has been giving away the seeds and plants of this big, meaty, pink tomato since then. It grows all over the world now and is known for its wonderful old-fashioned taste. There are a limited supply of plants; they will be given away on a first-come, first-serve basis. One to a family, please. The idea behind the Potato Top project is to preserve the variety. Gardeners grow it and save the seed, then send it back to Oster.

Details: 412-965-3278 or everybodygardens.com

Doug Oster is the Tribune-Review home and garden editor. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or doster@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @dougoster1. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodygardens.com.


Got a creamy salad itch? Try one with broccoli, blue cheese

By Melissa Darabian

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Tis (almost) the season of backyard barbecues, picnics and outdoor potlucks. We gather with friends, or simply migrate to the backyard picnic table for family dinner, and that has me craving the classics: grilled meats, veggies and some creamy starchy sides like macaroni salad. Today, I have the perfect solution for scratching the creamy-side-salad itch while actually getting in some seriously healthy raw veg. Win-win.

Creamy Broccoli and Blue Cheese Salad stretches just a smidgen of silky-and-satisfying mayonnaise with some low-fat Greek yogurt, and the resulting salad is creamy, but not cloying. Blue cheese brings a nice sophisticated hit of flavor, and there is just enough to add complexity without being so overboard that kids won't eat. Well, most anyway: one of my four kiddos deemed this salad “too bluecheesy” for her palate, but I claim 75 percent as a victory here. Because a little blue cheese goes a long way, you get a lot of flavor for your cheese calorie, but feel free to swap for a milder cheese like crumbled feta or even shredded sharp cheddar.

The bulk of the salad, though, is brilliantly healthy raw vegetables: broccoli, thinly sliced cabbage and shredded carrots. Halved grapes add the perfect touch of sweetness that takes the salad almost to a slaw, and pairs perfectly with the tangy blue cheese, and red onion. You can spend10 minutes breaking down your own florets, chopping cabbage and grating carrots, or spend an extra dollar to buy them prepped in the produce aisle. Either way, the salad takes minutes to make, and it holds up well for a couple of days in the fridge. Which means leftovers can be brownbagged for lunch the next day no problem. And, you can feel great about having a plethora of one of the most touted health foods out there: simple raw broccoli.

Creamy Broccoli and Blue Cheese Salad

Servings: 6

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Salad:

4 cups small broccoli florets (raw)

12 small red onion, sliced thinly

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup shredded red cabbage

1 cup red grapes, sliced in half

14 cup blue cheese crumbles

Dressing:

14 cup lowfat plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoon light mayonnaise

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 small garlic clove, finely minced or pressed, or 1 teaspoon granulated garlic

14 teaspoon (or less or more) hot sauce

12 teaspoon kosher salt

14 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place all the salad ingredients into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and taste for seasoning. Pour the dressing onto the salad and toss. Best if chilled for an hour before serving to allow flavors to marry.

Melissa D'Arbian is an Associated Press contrinuting writer.


Greensburg shop is perfecting the wedding dress experience
TribLIVE.com story

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 9:57 p.m.


Limitedcollection

Macy's announced the release of CR by Cynthia Rowley, an exclusive new limited-time collection that taps into the cheerful and vivacious essence at the core of the celebrated designer's eponymous brand.

“Cynthia Rowley is renowned for her whimsical and feminine approach to fashion,” says Stephanie Muehlhausen, Macy's vice president/fashion director. “She has created amazing collections that are at the same time joyful, stylish and trendy, while remaining versatile. Everyone looks forward to summer, and we're excited to bring an exclusive collection to our customers with Cynthia Rowley's signature joie de vivre that's perfect for the season.”

Available in 149 stores and online, the collection is a celebration of summer and includes tops, skirts, pants, dresses and jackets rendered in wispy fabrics and fanciful prints. Prices range from $79-$179.

Details: macys.com

Workshop

Juju, an eclectic goods boutique, at 6739 Reynolds St., Point Breeze, will host an Animoon Workshop from 1 to 5 p.m. May 27. Learn how to make crystal jewelry.

Details: 814-460-1538 or shop-juju.com

A night of shopping

One Brilliant, a women's clothing and accessories boutique, 12 Brilliant Ave., Aspinwall, is having A Night of Shopping from 5 to 8 p.m. May 31. Enjoy wine, cheese, and special discounts. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Details: 412-781-3443 or onebrilliant.com

Trunk shows

• Larrimor's, 249 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh is having a Lafayette 148 New York trunk show from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 1 to 3.This line is known for its luxe knitwear Meet designer representative Angela Koster. Details: 412-471-5727 or larrimors.com

• Glitter & Grit, a bridal boutique, 5300 Butler St., Lawrenceville, is having an Antonio Gual trunk show June 2 to 4 by appointment. Details: 412-781-2375 glitterandgritpgh.com

Top it off

The Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra's Hat Luncheon is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 3 at Greensburg Country Club, 309 Pleasant Valley Rd., Hempfield. Guests will enjoy champagne, bellinis, gorgeous hats and an elegant luncheon all to benefit the symphony. Tickets are $75.

Details: 724-837-1850 or westmorelandsymphony.org

On the runway

The Glamorous Nights Fashion Show is at 6 p.m. June 3 at the Doubletree Hotel, 340 Racetrack Road, Washington County. Hosted by Blondie's Events, the evening benefits Domestic Violence Services of SWPA. Tickets are $10, $5 in advance

Details: eventbrite.com

Suit up

The time has come – it's swimsuit season.

Glamour.com shares tips for every body type

If you want to slim the hips:

Don't go wild on the bottom. The less going on there, well – the less going on there!

Do bring focus up with a top in a lighter color, or with fun details or a pretty pattern.

Do go for a fairly high-cut bottom to create the illusion of longer, leaner legs.

If you want to boost a small bust:

Don't rule out an underwire. It gives shape to small busts.

Do go for extras like ruffles, beading and pleating. They add bulk and visual interest.

Don't do bandeau. They'll flatten you out even more.

If you want some belly control:

Don't go for shine. It highlights every lump and bump. Matte is much better.

Do skip tankinis, unless you find one with an un-clingy top.

Do show some skin. A high-cut leg or low-cut top draws eyes away from your middle.

If you want to support a big bust:

Do nix triangle tops if you're bigger than a D-cup, -- not enough support.

Don't do high necklines unless you want a uniboob. Didn't think so.

Do know that underwire or a hidden bra is a must if your top's a halter.

Get it clean

Jolie Kerr, a cleaning expert and advice columnist offers tips on how to get men's workout clothes clean (but this could definitely apply to women's workout clothes as well) in esquire.com

Wash workout clothes inside out: The bacteria that causes our workout gear to stink to high heaven builds up on the inside of the clothes, so turning them inside out prior to washing will allow the water and detergent more contact with the source of the smells.

Don't overuse detergent: More detergent doesn't make your clothes cleaner, and soap residue will contribute to the presence of smells even in clothes that have been through the wash.

Add an odor-eliminating product to the mix: White vinegar is my go-to odor-eliminating product for use in addition to regular detergent. For regular loads a quarter or a half cup of white vinegar, added either at the start of the wash or during the rinse cycle, will kill odor-causing bacteria and keep workout gear smelling fresh. Increase the amount to a full cup of the stuff when you need to reverse a smell problem that's already developed.

Switch to a sports detergent: Sports detergents are formulated to address odor issues, and take away the need to use a second product in addition to your regular detergent. Some good ones to check out are HEX, SportsSuds and Tide Odor Defense.

Never use fabric softener, ever, ever: This one is so clutch that I'm screaming at you so you'll remember it. Fabric softener doesn't play super nicely with stretchy and moisture-wicking fabrics, as it leaves behind a coating that makes it difficult for water and detergent to fully penetrate the fibers. Skip it in loads that contain workout clothes.

Low-heat or air drying is crucial: Anyone who has experienced New York City in August already knows this: Heat will amplify odors. The same phenomenon that makes Manhattan smell like a urinal during the summertime will make your gym clothes smell like old feet, so when drying them in the machine, use a low- or no-heat setting. Even better, let the clothes air dry.

— Staff reports

Send fashion news to tribliving@tribweb.com.


Book spills origin tidbits, recipes from land of Shake Shack

By Leanne Italie

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


NEW YORK — Harken back to when Shake Shack was not a burger-flipping force in more than 130 locations around the globe.

Then, in 2001, it was a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park, where it opened as part of an art installation. It operated for three summers, losing money each year.

So says its creator, restaurateur Danny Meyer, in a new book full of origin tidbits and recipes from the land of the longest lines. Published this month by Clarkson Potter, “Shake Shack” was co-written by company CEO Randy Garutti and culinary director Mark Rosati.

If you're looking for culinary secrets, forget about it. The recipe for ShackSauce, for instance? Rosati, in an interview with The Associated Press, wasn't giving it up, but the book gets Shack fanatics close with another recipe.

It's a fun read, part Shack kitsch and part, if you must have crinkle fries, here's how to make some.

Rosati started as a line cook at Meyer's Gramercy Tavern before heading for the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park that replaced the cart.

“I didn't want to go. I thought it would destroy my career,” he said. “I was going from fine dining, cooking with white truffles and foie gras, to flipping burgers? Then I saw all the same ingredients we were using at Gramercy. The same beef, the same produce and the same hospitality our company is known for. So I thought, I'll do this for a year. Fast forward 10 years.”

Our conversation with Mark Rosati:

———

AP: Tell us how to think like a burger maker? Does kale ever belong on a burger? Why can't you get a burger rare at Shake Shack?

Rosati: It comes down to you need to find the finest ingredients possible if you're going to make a really stellar burger.

And kale, yeah, it can work in the right context. Maybe if it's in the summertime and you throw the kale on the griddle and it gets a little smoky and crispy, toss in some olive oil, maybe some garlic, maybe a little Parmesan cheese and put that on top of a burger. That's going to be pretty good.

We feel the best experience is in the burgers cooked medium. We want those juices to be a little runny and drippy. That's where the pleasure factor is. You need to use the whole muscle, or the steak, because that's where all the flavor is. If you take the trimmings, which most butchers do, they don't have the flavor. That's the real secret.

AP: What's your favorite burger?

Rosati: It's probably our SmokeShack burger. It's very personal why I love that burger. It was the first burger we ever added to the menu since the inception of Shake Shack. We wanted to add a bacon burger and we knew it would be too easy just to add bacon. We wanted to do a burger based around the flavors and textures of bacon. I thought about chopped and pickled cherry peppers. I grew up in an Italian household. My parents would cook a pork chop and put cherry peppers in the pan. The cherry peppers brought acidity and heat, which cut through the richness of an otherwise rich meat.

So it's a cheeseburger with ShackSauce, which is a mayo-based sauce, with bacon on a buttered bun. That's a lot rich flavors and textures, so I thought about the cherry peppers.

AP: The book mentions how Shake Shack comes out of the fine dining tradition. Are you suggesting that Shake Shack is fine dining?

Rosati: It's us going out and trying to source the absolute finest food, for not only our core menu, our ShackBurger, our fries, but also when we open a new city, it's the same thing. We look at going to a city like Los Angeles and we reach out to a lot of our fine dining friends, be it chocolate makers, be it bakers, that we admire and we bring in that talent.

When we opened in LA, I've always loved this jam maker called Sqirl. We blend their jam into our frozen custard for one shack in one city. It's one of our frozen Concretes called the Rainbow Connection with the strawberry jam from that chef, Jessica Koslow. And another friend who I consider one of the best bakers in all of Los Angeles makes us an old fashioned spice doughnut, then we add sprinkles to it. You can only get it at our West Hollywood location.

AP: What can you do about the lines? They're crazy.

Rosati: It's funny because I used to wait in that line in Madison Square Park. It's only three blocks from Gramercy Tavern and that's where I was working. I would go there early, wait in line for about an hour on a hot summer day, get my food and run back to the kitchen at Gramercy. My colleagues would come in and ask me to share and I was like hey man, I'm the one who put the time in there. You go and put your own time in and get your own burgers.

At the end of the day, the line is the line. We can't do anything to stop people from wanting to wait in line. The time you wait between ordering and when you pick up your food, that's on us.

We know couples who started in that line, started chatting, exchanged numbers, went out on dates. The next thing you know they're married and asked us to cater their weddings. It's just so surreal.

Leanne Italie is an Associated Press writer.


Got a creamy salad itch? Try one with broccoli, blue cheese

By Melissa Darabian

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Tis (almost) the season of backyard barbecues, picnics and outdoor potlucks. We gather with friends, or simply migrate to the backyard picnic table for family dinner, and that has me craving the classics: grilled meats, veggies and some creamy starchy sides like macaroni salad. Today, I have the perfect solution for scratching the creamy-side-salad itch while actually getting in some seriously healthy raw veg. Win-win.

Creamy Broccoli and Blue Cheese Salad stretches just a smidgen of silky-and-satisfying mayonnaise with some low-fat Greek yogurt, and the resulting salad is creamy, but not cloying. Blue cheese brings a nice sophisticated hit of flavor, and there is just enough to add complexity without being so overboard that kids won't eat. Well, most anyway: one of my four kiddos deemed this salad “too bluecheesy” for her palate, but I claim 75 percent as a victory here. Because a little blue cheese goes a long way, you get a lot of flavor for your cheese calorie, but feel free to swap for a milder cheese like crumbled feta or even shredded sharp cheddar.

The bulk of the salad, though, is brilliantly healthy raw vegetables: broccoli, thinly sliced cabbage and shredded carrots. Halved grapes add the perfect touch of sweetness that takes the salad almost to a slaw, and pairs perfectly with the tangy blue cheese, and red onion. You can spend10 minutes breaking down your own florets, chopping cabbage and grating carrots, or spend an extra dollar to buy them prepped in the produce aisle. Either way, the salad takes minutes to make, and it holds up well for a couple of days in the fridge. Which means leftovers can be brownbagged for lunch the next day no problem. And, you can feel great about having a plethora of one of the most touted health foods out there: simple raw broccoli.

Creamy Broccoli and Blue Cheese Salad

Servings: 6

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Salad:

4 cups small broccoli florets (raw)

12 small red onion, sliced thinly

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup shredded red cabbage

1 cup red grapes, sliced in half

14 cup blue cheese crumbles

Dressing:

14 cup lowfat plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoon light mayonnaise

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 small garlic clove, finely minced or pressed, or 1 teaspoon granulated garlic

14 teaspoon (or less or more) hot sauce

12 teaspoon kosher salt

14 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place all the salad ingredients into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and taste for seasoning. Pour the dressing onto the salad and toss. Best if chilled for an hour before serving to allow flavors to marry.

Melissa D'Arbian is an Associated Press contrinuting writer.


Show your Pens pride ... get free food
McCullough's book warns of dangers of ignoring history


By Rege Behe

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017, 10:30 a.m.


As a historian, David McCullough was riveted by the 2016 presidential election. But the coarseness of the political dialogue upset him, as did one candidate's lack of interest in history.

“I couldn't believe that the candidate for the Republican party (Donald Trump) told a reporter for the Washington Post that he had never read a biography of a president, or a book about the presidency,” McCullough says. “And he really didn't need to read books because his mind had a reach that went beyond that. And, I thought, ‘Oh no it doesn't, that mind of yours.' We cannot denigrate or dismiss the story of who we are and how we got here, and what we had to go through.”

McCullough's “The American Spirit” (Simon & Schuster, $25) is the Pittsburgh native's response to those who disregard or refuse to acknowledge the importance of history. A collection of speeches he delivered at college commencements, the White House, the U.S. Capitol and during other distinguished commemorations, they address topics that have always been close to the his heart: the importance of history education, the diverse coalition of men and women who founded the United States, and the intrinsic elements that define the country.

While McCullough is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning books about John Adams and Harry Truman, many of the speeches in “The American Spirit” focus on anonymous historical figures.

To a joint session of Congress in 1989, he talked about Simon Willard, a Massachusetts clockmaker whose clock was installed in the U.S. Capitol building in 1837. At the bicentennial ceremony for Ohio University in 2004, McCullough spoke about the Rev. Manessah Cutler, the university's founder and one of the key figures in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. In 2016 at the Capitol, McCullough paid tribute to the contributions of immigrants from the British West Indies, England, Ireland and Italy and the African-American slaves who erected “a building like no other.

“If we don't remember them, then there's little chance we'll repeat what they were like and were composed of,” he says.

Throughout “The American Spirit,” McCullough stresses the importance of education — history, of course, but also the arts and humanities. One of the speeches reproduced in the book was delivered at the University of Pittsburgh in 1994, and McCullough insisted that chapter be accompanied by a photograph of the Cathedral of Learning.

“How many of us grew up there and took it for granted?” he says of the Cathedral of Learning. “But the idea that a center of learning is a cathedral — that's right, that's what they are. If our universities were all rising high above the horizon as that one does, we might be more respectful of the importance of education. I think our universities are among the highest attainments of our civilization by far. Yes, they've gotten dangerously expensive, and yes, they have some problems that need to be worked out, but they are the greatest universities in the world and the greatest universities that have ever been in the world.”

“The American Spirit” also features stories about the Marquis de Lafayette, Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams and Theodore Roosevelt. They all made important contributions to the country, but McCullough emphasizes that their accomplishments could not have happened in a vacuum.

“One of the clearest of all lessons of history is that very little of consequence is ever accomplished alone,” McCullough says. “It's a joint effort, it has to be a joint effort. The books that I write are a joint effort. All those archivists and librarians and copy editors — it's the same with your work — you have to work together or you're not going to do much of anything. If every time someone disagrees with you, expresses their disagreement, and you start slandering them and smearing them with these awful, unkind words, that's childish. It doesn't help. It doesn't work.”

Rege Behe is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.


Strider Cup Race Series gets the little ones on the track
$12M UPMC operations center in Erie to add 200 jobs

By Wes Venteicher

Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 11:15 a.m.


UPMC plans to open a $12 million operations center in Erie that the hospital system says will create nearly 200 jobs within three years, according to a Wednesday news release.

The state's Department of Community and Economic Development kicked in $300,000 through a Pennsylvania First grant for the center, which UPMC is establishing in a 70,000-square-foot building on Bayfront Parkway, blocks from UPMC Hamot.

“We're very excited that this project will help grow Erie's workforce by creating so many meaningful new jobs for the Erie community,” David Gibbons, UPMC Hamot president, said in a statement.

Gibbons said UPMC has invested more than $150 million in the region through capital improvements, physician recruitment and other efforts.

The operations center will support UPMC's hospitals and UPMC Health Plan. The release said the health system expects to expand the center.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, wventeicher@tribweb.com or via Twitter @wesventeicher.


Midwives continue to gain popularity

By Tribune-Review

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


The use of midwives in childbirth continues to gain popularity. We asked Nicole Rawson, a certified nurse midwife at Allegheny Health Network's Jefferson Hospital for insight into the benefits of using a midwife.

Why is midwifery growing in popularity as a birth option?

Women in 2017 are desiring, and demanding, more partnership in taking care of their health and raising their families.

As midwifery has grown as a profession, studies have consistently proven the safety and benefits of midwifery-led care. Hospitals and health care systems have recognized the value of the improved outcomes at lower cost that midwives can offer. As a result, more midwifery practices and birth centers are being incorporated into health care plans and delivery systems. Insurance now also covers midwifery services.

What are the advantages of midwifery?

Women respond to the close personal relationship that can form with their midwifery care providers. Today's families realize the health benefits of limiting interventions that do not have a clear medical need.

Studies have shown midwifery care results in decreased preterm labor rates, fewer cesarean deliveries, and increased rates of breastfeeding - all while promoting the holistic care of the infant and mother.

Midwifery views pregnancy and childbirth as a natural occurrence in a woman's life. We partner with women and their families to empower them to have the information and support they need to make their own health care decisions. We believe in the normal while remaining vigilant in case of any unexpected occurrences or complications.

Just recently, in January of 2017, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology embraced what midwives have always been promoting: limited interventions for low risk women, continuous support in labor, use of non-pharmacological pain relief methods, and use of intermittent monitoring during labor, as well as advocating position changes in labor and during delivery.

What are the disadvantages of a midwife-assisted birth?

There really are none unless a woman is considered medically at risk, in which case she would not be eligible for exclusive midwifery care. Because midwives are not physicians, midwives in Pennsylvania need to have a collaborating group of physicians to whom they can refer medically high risk patients, or call in case a cesarean is needed.


Just one alcoholic drink a day increases risk of breast cancer, study claims

By The Washington Post

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 9:39 p.m.


Just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day significantly raises the risk of breast cancer, while vigorous exercise such as running and bicycling reduces it, according to an expansive review of research on the effects of diet, nutrition and physical activity on the disease.

The report, which was issued Tuesday, concluded that drinking the equivalent of one small glass of wine, beer or other alcohol a day — about 10 grams of alcohol — is linked to an increased cancer risk of 5 percent for pre-menopausal women and 9 percent for post-menopausal women. A standard drink has 14 grams of alcohol.

“This suggests there is no level of alcohol use that is completely safe in terms of breast cancer,” said Anne McTiernan, a cancer-prevention researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and one of the report's lead authors. “If a woman is drinking, it would be better if she kept it to a lower amount.”

The review, by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund, evaluated research in 119 studies encompassing data on 12 million women from around the world. It is the first such review since 2010, the groups said.

For the first time, researchers concluded evidence is strong that vigorous exercise reduces breast-cancer risk. Pre-menopausal women who were the most active had a 17 percent lower risk of developing malignancies compared to the least active women, while post-menopausal women had a 10 percent decreased risk.

The researchers noted that many things influence cancer risk and that women can't control factors such as a family history of cancer. But, McTiernan said, “having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol - these are all steps women can take to lower their risk.”

At the same time, she said, a healthy lifestyle is not a guarantee. Rather, it's more like wearing a seat belt. Many women will do everything they can to reduce their risks of breast cancer but still get diagnosed. “That's unfortunate, but that's what happens,” she said.

Researchers were not able to calculate the degree to which vigorous exercise might cut the risk of alcohol consumption. What happens, for example, if a regular drinker also runs daily?

“The mechanism suggests that it could be helpful,” McTiernan said. Alcohol increases estrogen, which is linked to increased breast-cancer risk, while physical activity reduces it. “But I can't say that for someone who drinks five drinks and then runs, that the exercise is going to negate the adverse effects of the alcohol.”

The report found women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of post-menopausal disease.

“If women lose just 10 percent of their weight, it's linked to reduced blood estrogen, inflammation” and other factors associated with breast cancer, McTiernan said.

The report also found limited evidence linking dairy foods, diets high in calcium and foods containing carotenoids to a lower risk of some breast cancers. Carotenoids include such fruits and vegetables as kale, apricots and carrots.

About 252,000 women in the United States are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. AICR estimates that 1 in 3 cases could be prevented if women did not drink alcohol, were physically active and maintained a healthy weight.


Fanfare: Jewish Association on Aging present Evening with Joel Grey
Fanfare: Nathalie Lemieux welcomes 350 for Austin's Playroom Project Luncheon

By Kate Benz

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017, 8:06 a.m.


No arm twisting needed for the 350-plus who showed up at the Fairmont on May 18 for a luncheon benefitting Austin's Playroom Project, an initiative of the Mario Lemieux Foundation.

“How long have I been coming? Oh wow, it's been years,” said Deb Wheeler, who made the drive in from Somerset to attend. “I really love and support their vision of creating a safe place for children.”

Having raised over $1 million since its inception in 2000, the luncheon brought out some of the city's boldest names, including Nathalie Lemieux herself, whose son Austin not only inspired the creation of the project but has been by her since the beginning.

“It's been seventeen years,” she said as they posed for photo ops. “He's all grown up.”

And while Lemieux Sr. is usually the one responsible for parting the waters while walking through a crowd, on this afternoon, it was his son who could barely make it past without inspiring a show of cell phone cameras.

“It's such a great cause,” said BJ Leber. “It's one of the best events in town.”

On the list was event chair Debbie Nute with table captains Nancy Angus, Ranny Ferguson, Heather Hillier, Laura Penrod Kronk, Ashley Cardosi, Nellie Kraus, Pilar Meyer, Virginia Montanez, Pam Schanwald, Katie Smith, Nicole Kriebel, Ellen Thomeier, Renee Vandall, Kristin Wells, Elyse Wright, Susan Skowron, Christy Hofmann, Lynne Marchese.


Fanfare: Dreams of Hope hosts Big Wig Ball

By Kate Benz

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017, 8:06 a.m.


It was hard to tell which aspect of the Big Wig Ball would prove more entertaining: the event itself or watching the heads turn as an amazingly coiffed crowd was seen making their way down Smallman Street.

“It took me less time to make than I thought it would,” said emcee Joseph Hall of the 40 plastic bags he had layered into flowing locks. “But I was up until the morning hour.”

Hosted by Dreams of Hope, whose mission embraces the power of the arts to support the LGBTQA+ community, guests arrived at the Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters in the Strip District on May 20 having sufficiently raided their friends' wardrobes in search of the perfect hair do.

“It came from a collection owned by a drag queen,” said Rebecca King, donning a hot pink beehive.

While ThaCrowBats took center stage with an acrobatic performance that defied the notion of what the human body is capable of, program director Adil Mansoor was fielding requests to get a photo of his shimmering gold glitter beard while also divulging how he got it to stay in place.

“I literally just took an Elmer's glue stick and ran it along my face,” he laughed. “A wig would have driven me crazy.”

By 10 p.m., Ratchet Ivy League, Theodore Rexx and “Soy Sos” Pearl had taken over for the Dance Party but rumor had it that an after-party at Hot Mass would keep the die-hards going until dawn.

On the list: executive director Seth Rosenberg, Dreams of Hope founder Susan Haugh, who was honored with the Champion Award, committee members Amanda Anderson, Casandra Armour Capri, Crystal Wilson, Debi Sciranka, Sarah Tafel, Katie Trupiano, Rene Cuenca, Randi Starr, Sarah Itzkoff. Also, Victoria Bradley-Morris, Eric D'Ambrogi, Henry and Carla Biaggi.


Fanfare: Pittsburgh Opera's Maecenas XXXIII Gala raises $370k

By JoAnne Klimovich Harrop

Published: Monday, May 15, 2017, 10:51 a.m.


The Pittsburgh Opera definitely hit the high notes at the Maecenas XXXIII Gala.

Held May 13 at the opera's Strip District headquarters, the evening was a who's who of the city's most fashionable individuals and recognized those who have helped define and distinguish our city.

The 350 guests dressed in their black-tie best helped raised $375,000 for the opera's mission. Spotted on stage were event co-chairs -- the mother and daughter duo -- of Dr. Lisa Cibik (with Bernie Kobosky) and Alexandra Good, Esq. (with Lt. Brian Linville), who on this Mother's Day weekend teamed to organize the elegant soiree.

“This is a labor of love, and was definitely a mother-daughter adventure,” Good said. “It's a great event to honor such a spectacular group of individuals.”

In the limelight were five of Pittsburgh's finest who represent civic leadership, healthcare, technology, energy and entertainment. They were recognized during the evening's second course. The event was themed, “We are Pittsburgh Proud” which represented the passion of the honorees such as Dr. Arthur S. Levine, senior vice-chancellor for the health sciences John and Gertrude Petersen Dean University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He was praised for his work in healthcare, because without his tireless commitment to biomedical research and healthcare, Pittsburgh would not hold a nationally acclaimed university and healthcare giants. In his acceptance speech, he gave a shout out to the Opera and said “the arts are essential contributors to society.”

Dr. Andrew W. Moore, dean, school of computer science and robotics institute at Carnegie Mellon University, was recognized in technology because of his commitment to technology, through bringing companies to Pittsburgh and through educating the next generation of giants. He has primed Pittsburgh to be the next major technological city. He said he loves living in a city “where arts, science and technology think about the future.”

David Porges, executive chairman EQT Corporation, was awarded for energy. Known for overseeing EQT's transformation into a major national exploration and production company, he applauded the opera for making the world premiere of “Summer King: The Josh Gibson Story,” the story of baseball legend Josh Gibson, available in Pittsburgh.

“There is such an importance of arts in education –there are kids who lack hope and opportunity – and the arts provide hope and opportunity,” said Porges, who bought 200 tickets for individuals who otherwise would not have been able to experience the production. “'Summer King' is an example of how the arts find ways to make themselves relevant in the lives of children.”

Doris Carson Williams, president and CEO African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania and board member Highmark Foundation, was honored for her civic leadership. She is committed to continuously providing access and opportunity to African American business owners and professionals. She said being recognized was truly an honor and thanked the opera for what it did for so many people with ‘Summer Kings.'

Grammy Award winning singer Daya, who grew up in Mt. Lebanon, is known for providing an extraordinary commitment and skill in entertainment. She thanked the opera via a video. Daya wasn't able to attend because of her touring schedule. She said “she is proud to be from a city that appreciates the arts.”

The evening opened with a VIP cocktail party of hors d'oeuvres such as chips with salmon and edible flowers, lamb sliders and mini-pizza slices served in the Opera's garage – but you would never have guessed that because Martin Potoczny of LUXE Creative spent six days transforming the area into what Opera general director Christopher Hahn, called “a magical space,” which included custom lighting and more than 1,000 yards of fabric. Potoczny's attention to detail continued into an Opera studio where dinner was held. Tables lined in silver linens sparkled as guests ate their first course while enjoying a musical performance by opera resident artists Andy Berry, Leah de Gruyl, Eric Ferring, Shannon Jennings, Claudia Rosenthal, Taylor Raven and Brian Vu.

Bob Sendall of All in Good Taste Productions provided a dinner of braised cabernet short rib, roasted breast of poussin, gratin of potatoes, grilled vegetable bundle and roasted beet, followed by a salad of petite local greens, baby kale, butterflied artichoke and roasted tomato. Dessert was a Toffee Taboo ice cream ball.

After everyone had eaten, they were invited to work off those calories to the beats of the Pete Hewlett band which had them dancing until late in the night.

Spotted during the evening were Kathleen and Demetrios Patrinos, Daniel Gorchynsky, Pittsburgh Opera board chair Michele Fabrizi, Melanie and Jim Crockard, Roseanne and Dr. Mark Wholey, Kiya Tomlin, Jean Horne, Rebecca and David Belczyk, Branden Moore, Carmen and Lance Hyde, Stephenie Anderson and John Scialabba, Graciana Rodriguez and Bill Vitale, Dr. Helene Finegold, Natalie and Dr. Bill Hoffman, Janera Solomon and Jeremy Resnick, Melissa and Samantha Sarnicke, Marilyn Egan, and Dr. Vonda Wright and Peter Taglianetti.


Fanfare: Persad Art for Change 2017
Fanfare: History Makers Award Dinner

By Tribune-Review

Published: Monday, May 15, 2017, 10:39 a.m.


The History Makers Award Dinner held by Heinz History Center celebrated its 25th year.

This year's class lauded Jerome Bettis, Dr. Art Levine, David Newell, Priya Narasimhan, and Dr. Vivian Davidson Hewitt. The event was held at the Westin in Downtown Pittsburgh on Friday, May,12,2017.


Fanfare: Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy hosts Spring Hat Luncheon

By Kate Benz

Published: Monday, May 8, 2017, 9:51 a.m.


Rain. Wind. Temperatures that tapped out at 44 degrees. Not exactly the kind of day that can entice people to step outside. But on May 6, not even a trifecta of brutal elements could stop an anticipated crowd of 600 from attending the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy's annual Spring Hat Luncheon.

“We sweat a little bit on this one,” said development manager Kathleen Gaines. “We can handle almost anything but mud is an issue. But the fact that people showed up on a day like this shows how much they love and care what we do. Why else would they come out in forty-degrees?”

With the uncooperative weather ensuring that Schenley Park would remain a mud bog even under the white tents, popular conversation hinged on how many wardrobe edits had to be made at the eleventh hour.

“We have our rainboots under our chairs,” said co-chair Emily Mack Jamison.

While the Duquesne Club ensured that glasses of mimosas and champagne were kept half full to keep spirits high, it was a house divided when it came to who was going to stay bundled and who would brave fashion over function.

“I should probably take off my coat so I don't look like I'm trying to solve a mystery,” said Mollie Hanna Lang.

The luncheon raised over $530K. It was also president and PPC founder Meg Cheever's swan song as she prepares to retire in March 2018.

Spied: co-chairs Ramsey Lyons, Charlene Petrelli, Kiya Tomlin and Christy Wiegand; Mary McKinney and Mark Flaherty, Gabriela Porges, VP Richard Reed, Diana Reid, Catherine Loevner, Dianna Loevner, Tim McVay and David Bush, Michelle Dialoiso, Jennifer Braham, Councilman Corey O'Connor, Councilman Dan Gilman, Jackie Dixon, Roseanne Wholey, Annie Engel, Debbie Dick and Art Stroyd, Barbara Luderowski and Michael Olijnyk, Sam Badger, Kathe Patrinos, Lara Bentz, Ellen Roth, Dan DelBianco, Gigi Saladna, Peggy McKnight, Lana Neumeyer, Steve Hough and Nachum Golan, Ranny and Jay Ferguson. Centerpieces by Allison McGeary Florist.


Fanfare: Pittsburgh Public Theater hosts Gods & Goddesses Gala

By Kate Benz

Published: Monday, May 8, 2017, 9:51 a.m.


What does one make of eight gladiators flanking a sweeping staircase that leads to a ballroom shimmering in 24 karat gold?

“It's totally Ted,” said Tim McVay with his husband, David Bush. “Don't you think?”

Keeping up his tradition of turning an ordinary evening into an epic event, Pittsburgh Public Theater producing artistic director Ted Pappas didn't just welcome 400-plus guests to the Wyndham Grand, he immersed them into another world in which the champagne flowed and nothing else mattered.

“I've always thought of the supporters of the Public Theater as gods and goddesses,” he said. “I worship them.”

Early on, a leisurely cocktail hour allowed plenty of time for mixing and mingling with the likes of co-chairs Bill and Vivian Benter and Deb Rice-Johnson and Blair Johnson while music by Ishtar filled the air.

Meanwhile, relieved of their duties on the stairwell, the gladiators moved in to hold court in front of the ballroom doors until the trumpets officially sounded.

Once inside, the Nick Dialoiso Orchestra was warming things up, with a dance floor that went from zero to full tilt in just under two minutes.

“I expected something completely over the top and something completely fabulous,” said Philip Ferland.

On the list: Nadine Bognar, Evan Frazier, Hon. Cynthia and Arthur Baldwin, Joanie and Sam Kamin, Andrew and Michelle Aloe, PPT co-founder Joan Apt, Charlotte and Hank Beukema, Annette Calgaro and Terry Lewis, Judy Linaburg, board president Mike and Cathy Ginsberg, Rep. Dan and Debbie Frankel, Randi Dauler and Donn Neal, Charlene and John Friel, Joe Smith, Richard Rauh, Richard Moriarty, David Cannon, Sara and Larry Walsh.

The event raised $470K.


Fanfare: Super, Natural. Glass Art Grand Opening Gala
Fanfare: Carnegie Museum of Art dares guests to wear work of art for Haute Wired Gala

By Kate Benz

Published: Monday, May 1, 2017, 9:49 a.m.


When the Carnegie Museum of Art invited 200 bold names to bid farewell to the “Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion” exhibit on April 28, the invitation came wrapped in a dare:

Wear YOUR work of art.

“I think these are eight inches total,” said Mary McKinney, arriving in a pair of heel-less platform pumps from Giuseppe Zanotti.

“Because I am so secure in my masculinity, it doesn't bother,” laughed her plus-one, Mark Flaherty.

What could top that?

“She's even wearing an Iris dress,” added Helene Finegold. “Just show all of us up!”

The exhibit, handcrafted couture doused with mind-boggling technological feats, had been responsible for the collective swoon emanating from the fashion sect since it debuted in early February.

“It's kind of a dystopian sci-fi vibe,” said curator of design Rachel Delphia.

Early on, rumor had emcee Brian Siewiorek of WYEP FM taking the win on behalf of the gents thanks to a gold lame blazer.

“It's Richard Parsakian's. It's on loan from the collection,” he said, swearing he'd be returning it to its rightful owner.

While models floated around wearing inspired creations from the minds of Pittsburgh designers Atticus Adams and Memphis George, a slow migration into the exhibit itself ended up resulting in a lengthy stay.

“They took a big risk,” said Michele Fabrizi. “To me, fashion is creative and it is also art. It affects our culture just like art does by evoking a reaction.”

On the list were gala chair Gail and Tom Murphy, Vivian and Bill Benter, Doug and Betsy Branson, Diana Reid and Marc Chazaud, David and Quirine Okonkwo, Debbie Demchak, Ramsey Lyons, Sloan Overstrom, Brian Wongchaowart, Ann Bridges, Greg and Margot Curran, Carnegie Women's Committee president Mary Margaret Stamy and her husband, Lloyd, Ina Gumberg, Steve Webster, Peggy McKnight, Dr. Lisa Cibik and Bernie Kobosky, Ali Good, Barbara MacQuown Tucker, Rebecca Cost Snyder. Also, Carnegie Museums president Jo Ellen Parker, CMOA director Lynn Zelevansky, CMNH director Eric Dorfman.

Tank and the Bangas, a New Orleans-based funk and soul band, provided the entertainment.


Fanfare: Women of Distinction - Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America

By Tribune-Review

Published: Monday, May 1, 2017, 9:54 a.m.


The 9th annual luncheon of the Women of Distinction - Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America honored Anne Lewis, Vicki McKenna and Dr. Vonda Wright for making a difference in the business and philanthropic community. The event was held at the Fairmont Pittsburgh, Downtown, on Friday, April 28, 2017.


Baudoux,  Robert W.
Bedard,  Mary E.
Mary E. Bedard, 73, of Plum Boro, died Tuesday, May 23, 2017, surrounded by her loving family. She was born Feb. 19, 1944, in Worcester, Mass.,...
Bedont,  John P.
John P. Bedont, 84, of Jeannette, passed away Thursday, May 25, 2017, in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital, Greensburg. He was born Feb. 12, 1933,...
Bickerton,  William R.
William Robert "Billy" Bickerton, 35, of Calverton, N.Y., and Spring Hill, Fla., formerly of McKeesport, died Wednesday, May 24, 2017. He was born...
Byers Jr.,  Frank C.
Clagett Jr.,  George H.
George H. Clagett Jr.,69, formerly of Plum Boro and Washington, D.C., passed away on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, at Scottdale Personal Care Home. He was...
Clark,  Harry H.
Harry H. "Sam" Clark, 73, of Unity Township, died Friday, May 26, 2017, in Excela Health Latrobe Hospital surrounded by his loving family. He was...
Clark,  Sarah
Sarah (Argo) Clark, just shy of her 61st birthday, passed away peacefully and comfortably Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in her Bainbridge home, surrounded...
Cole,  Laura A.
Dorko,  Keith E.
Keith E. Dorko, 62, of Greensburg, finished his battle with lung cancer and met his dog, Sabrina, at the rainbow bridge on Wednesday, May 24, 2017....
Fennell,  Sheila C.
Sheila Colleen Fennell, 19, of Greensburg, died suddenly on Friday, May 27, 2017, in a vehicle accident on the Parkway East. She was born Sept. 23,...
Gibbons,  Mercedes J.
Mercedes Jane Gibbons, 95, of White Oak, died Thursday, May 25, 2017. She was born May 31, 1921, in Port Vue and was the daughter of the late John...
Glowacki,  Robert J.
Gromek,  Edward A.
Edward A. Gromek, 90, of Latrobe, formerly of Cary, N.C., died Tuesday, May 23, 2017, at Excela Health Latrobe Hospital. He was born in East...
Howard,  Harold L.
Harold L. Howard, 77, of Acme, passed away Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, at his home. Born Sept. 21, 1939, in Acme, he was a son of the late Mehrl E. Howard...
James,  Patricia A.
Patricia Ann James, 85, of Englewood, Colo., passed away Monday, May 15, 2017, in Englewood, Colo. Pat was born in Greensburg to Michael and Louise...
Jankowski,  Josephine M.
Jenkins,  Marcella M.
Marcella Mae Jenkins, 84, of Star, Idaho, passed on peacefully as she went to be with the Lord on Saturday, April 29, 2017, after a nine-month...
Karenbauer,  Father  Richard P.
Father Richard P. Karenbauer, 74, a retired priest of the Diocese of Greensburg, died May 25, 2017, at his home in Latrobe. He had been a priest for...
King,  Ray E.
Ray Edward "Pap" King, 87, of Mt. Pleasant, went home with Jesus on Saturday, May 27, 2017. Ray was born at home April 13, 1930, in Bridgeport. He...
Kowatch,  Lewis F.
LaVella,  Melio L.
Melio L. LaVella, lovingly called "Mel" or "Sonny" by friends and family, 74, passed away Wednesday, May 18, 2017 at the Cape Coral Hospital,...
Long,  Elizabeth A.
Elizabeth Anne "Betty" Long, 73, died peacefully Tuesday, May 9, 2017, at Bethlen Home in Ligonier, after a brief struggle with cancer. In the days...
Malie,  Ida S.
Ida Sara (Haddad) Malie, 96, passed away on Friday, May 26, 2017, at 3:25 p.m., leaving her family and earthly home at The Grand Residence at Upper...
McChesney,  Gregory L.
Nebiolo,  Margaret
Margaret Nebiolo, 96, of Monroeville, passed away peacefully on May 26, 2017. She was the wife of the late Joseph Nebiolo; sister of the late...
Nigro,  Louis B.
Louis B. Nigro, 93, of Trafford passed away on Thursday, May 18, 2017 in the Forbes Regional Hospital, Monroeville. Lou was born on July 6, 1923 in...
Patterson,  Douglas A.
Douglas A. Patterson, 60, of South Buffalo Township, passed away peacefully on Friday, May 26, 2017, while in the company of family at his home....
Rebich,  Dushan
Sell,  Sister  Miriam Dolores
Sister Miriam Dolores Sell, SC, 94, died on May 25, 2017, at Caritas Christi, the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill in Greensburg....
Sethman,  Tina
Tina (Andrews) Sethman, 47, of North Huntingdon, died Monday, May 22, 2017, in Forbes Regional Hospital, Monroeville. She was born Sept. 10, 1969,...
Shively,  Donna L.
Donna Lee Shively, 76, of New Stanton, passed away Friday, May 26, 2017. She was the beloved wife of Wayne Shively; loving mother of Debbie (Dave)...
Springer Sr.,  Eugene W.
Wagner,  Charles D.
Charles D. "Chuck" Wagner, born Feb. 16, 1955, in Mt. Pleasant, passed away peacefully at home Thursday, May 25, 2017, after a lifelong, courageous...
Waryanka,  Wesley
Wesley Waryanka, 88, of Irwin, died Thursday, May 25, 2017, in the Walden View Senior Living Center in Irwin. He was born March 8, 1929, in Van...
Wells,  Ronald E.
Ronald E. Wells, 74, of West Newton, died Saturday, May 27, 2017, at home. He was born April 20, 1943, in Indiana, a son of the late Delbert D. and...
Zelazowski,  Dr.  Dennis A.
Zema,  Irene

Irene Balchik Zema, 88, of Mt. Pleasant, passed away peacefully Thursday, May 25, 2017. Born Nov. 4, 1928, in Gates, Pa. (Fayette County), she was a...