scroll content left
scroll content right

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Julius Youngner, Pitt polio pioneer, dies at 96
Death penalty sought in 'horrific' killing of 4-year-old boy

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:54 p.m.


BUTLER -- Prosecutors in western Pennsylvania confirmed they will seek the death penalty against the man accused of raping and killing his girlfriend's 4-year-old son.

Keith Lambing, 20, is facing several felony charges in the March 21 death of Bentley Miller.

Lambing's mother, Kristen Herold, picked up Bentley that morning from a motel in Butler Township where Lambing and the child's mother were staying. Herold pulled over and called 911 after the child stopped breathing, court records show. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital less than an hour later.

Herold was charged with endangerment and hindering apprehension after helping her son hide from police. Officers found Lambing and the child's mother, Mackenzie Peters, hiding in an abandoned house the day after Bentley's death.

District Attorney Richard Goldinger called the case “horrific” and said “it asks for the death penalty.” Cases involving aggravated circumstances, such as the death of a child, can be tried as death penalty cases under Pennsylvania law.

Lambing's attorney believes his client is being assumed guilty before the trial.

“There are issues with this case,” Frank Walker said. “They don't even have DNA evidence back.”

Lambing is being held in the county jail without bail. Peters was charged with endangering the welfare of a child for not treating burns Bentley suffered before his death. She also is in jail, unable to post bond.


Duquesne law students learn the ukulele to relieve stress

By Chris Togneri

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 4:30 p.m.


Law students at Duquesne University are taking a unique approach to handling the stress of finals: They are learning the ukulele.

“As the school year progresses, I see (students) becoming more isolated, I see more stress,” said Robin Connors, coordinator of student organizations at Duquesne's School of Law. “I've tried different things over my six years here: bringing in a chair massage person throughout finals, making sure we have healthy snacks. We work with Animal Friends and bring in therapy dogs.

“They love it, but it's always just a band-aid. It never helps them long-term.”

So Connors, who took up the ukulele two years ago as she finished her law degree, approached professors at the Mary Pappert School of Music. They came up with “The Power of Music,” a four-week pilot program in which law school students learned to play the ukulele twice a week at lunchtime. Twelve students signed up.

“It's working because they're laughing at themselves and they're able to relax,” said Rachel Whitcomb, associate professor of music education. “There are very few things we do where we're not stressed about what's coming up next. In music, particularly when there's an intricate chord progression or you really have to think about, ‘where do my fingers go from here,' you can't be anywhere else but in the music.

“That is what sets music apart from any other discipline. It's an experience, it's a unique experience that isn't like anything else. And when you're involved in a song and you're playing an instrument along with a song, you have to be there.”

During lessons Monday and Thursday, students sat in a mock courtroom at the School of Law and played popular songs about letting go of stress and anxiety: “Let it Be” by the Beatles, “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett, and “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift.

During their last lesson, they performed an original song: “Vacation Elation,” written by Whitcomb and the law students, in which the students cast a hopeful eye to the day after finals.

School officials applied for and received a $750 grant from the American Bar Association Law Student Division to buy more ukuleles. Connors said she envisions a day when students can check ukuleles out like library books, then practice in a designated ukulele room at the Law School.

The ukulele is an ideal instrument for the program because it is inexpensive and easy to learn, Connors and Whitcomb said.

Plus, it evokes feelings of relaxation and levity, they said.

“You think of the beach and a type of fun sound associated with it,” Whitcomb said. “And the ease of playing it makes it enjoyable for them. ... It's working because they are laughing at themselves and they're able to relax.”

Chelsie Horne, a first-year law student, said the classes offer a needed “escape.”

“You're able to escape and laugh at yourself when everything else in law school seems so serious,” she said. “It's silly and it's fun and you get to take that moment to yourself and forget about everything legal.”

Chris Togneri is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5632 or ctogneri@tribweb.com or on Twitter @ChrisTogneri.


Tents pop up near Peduto's home in protest of homeless encampment

By Bob Bauder

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 12:27 p.m.


Paul Hendricks vowed to sleep in a tent next to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's Point Breeze home until the city rousts homeless people from a North Side encampment that neighbors have dubbed “Pedutoville.”

Hendricks, 56, whose Fineview home overlooks the encampment, said he recruited two homeless men to join him in a wooded space next to city steps near Peduto's residence.

“I'm going to stay out there until Mayor Peduto decides he's breaking the law,” said Hendricks, known as “Scrappy” to his friends. “I want to see how his neighbors feel about having homeless people outside their house.”

Peduto, 52, who is running for re-election, told police not to disturb people camped out by his home.

Peduto blamed City Councilwoman Darlene Harris of Spring Hill for what he considers a reprehensible political stunt. He said Harris is using homeless people as political pawns and called it a “new low in Pittsburgh politics.”

Harris, 64, who is challenging Peduto in the May 16 Democratic primary, denied the accusation, saying she knew nothing about Hendricks' protest until Friday.

“It never became an issue until two weeks before the election,” Peduto said. “Darlene is trying to use the most vulnerable in our society as a wedge issue in this campaign, and that is morally reprehensible.”

Harris, a lifelong North Side resident, said the encampment in a wooded area along isolated Howard Street is sanctioned by the city and violates zoning and sanitary ordinances, among others. She said residents are furious about litter, human waste and noise. They became more incensed when the city on Thursday placed a portable toilet on a sidewalk along Howard, she said.

“He's a liar,” Harris said of Peduto. “I have no control over what people do. Don't blame me. He should blame himself.”

Terry Araya, 46, who lives in a tent along Howard, said residents have the wrong impression. He invited visitors to inspect his tent site, which was neat and clear of most litter. He said trash that remains was left by others who have moved out.

He said children have thrown rocks at him and others from a street running above their camp sites.

“The problem is that most people judge homeless people as bad people,” said Araya, a Carnegie native, who moved there in February and has been homeless on and off for 15 years. “They're complaining we're down here littering. They also say we're doing drugs. None of us is doing drugs. The problem is they just don't know us.”

Araya said he's homeless because “bad things just keep happening to me.” He said he prefers to sleep outside in a tent rather than a shelter because it's his own personal space. Shelters move people out each morning, he said.

“We're not doing any of the things they think we're doing,” he said.

Peduto said his administration has worked with social service agencies and police, including UPMC Mercy's Operation Safety Net, in an attempt to find housing and jobs for homeless people in Pittsburgh.

He said homeless advocates have supported the establishment of out-of-the-way spaces like Howard Street where homeless can set up temporary camps.

“The spaces allow for homeless individuals and families to move away from highly public spaces by parks, schools and businesses to more secluded sites, such as that on Howard Street,” the mayor's office said in a statement. “The transitional sites allow Operation Safety Net and others to help supply medical and other care for homeless residents in one place, rather than in scattered sites, and to work to help them find new homes.”

“By rounding them up with police ... and throwing them away as Mrs. Harris wants to do, you don't solve homelessness,” the mayor said. “That only makes the problem worse.”

Hendricks and his neighbor Mary Ann Buggey said the city should help the homeless, but those on Howard Street have refused help and live in the woods by choice. They said they complained to no avail about litter and seeing people urinating.

Buggey said children who live on the street are scared of the homeless people.

Hendricks, owner of a North Side auto repair shop, said he plans to recruit more homeless to camp near Peduto's house. He said he plans to rent a portable toilet for the mayor's street.

“It's my home now,” he said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.


Pitt training center aims to breathe new life into Homewood, manufacturing
Julius Youngner, Pitt polio pioneer, dies at 96

By Ben Schmitt

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 7:07 p.m.


Julius S. Youngner, a key member of the University of Pittsburgh team that developed a polio vaccine with Dr. Jonas E. Salk, has died.

Youngner was a virologist and microbiologist who spent 56 years working at Pitt. He died Thursday night at his Squirrel Hill home surrounded by family.

He was 96.

A New York City native, Youngner came to Pittsburgh in 1949 after working on the Manhattan Project, the government's clandestine program to develop an atomic bomb.

The Army assigned him to a top-secret unit in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to examine the toxicity of uranium salts. Younger also worked at the National Institutes of Health, where he first became interested in virus research.

His contributions to Salk's vaccine were critical to its success.

The most prominent was a rapid color test he designed to measure the amount of poliovirus in living tissue culture. He also developed techniques for trypsinization — a method that used the enzyme trypsin to harvest the polio virus in large quantities. This technique enabled vaccine-makers to produce material to make vaccines for everyone.

At Pitt, he served as professor and chair of the department of microbiology from 1966 to 1985, and as professor and chair of the department of microbiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology from 1985 until his retirement in 1989. He maintained a large presence in the department, attending a seminar as recently as last year.

“Juli's infectious curiosity has fueled his own research and influenced all who had the privilege to work with him. As a direct result of his efforts, there are countless numbers of people living longer and healthier lives,” said Dr. Arthur S. Levine, Pitt's senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of Pitt's School of Medicine.

“Julius Youngner once told a reporter that he intended to stay at the University of Pittsburgh for only a short time following his work on the Manhattan Project. But he soon fell in love with Pitt and the research opportunities here. I am grateful he stayed and that his work, with Jonas Salk and others, led to the polio vaccine. He was one of the world's preeminent virologists and our university community will miss him immensely,” Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a statement.

His work with Salk was not without controversy.

Youngner told the Tribune-Review in 2005 that Salk failed to acknowledge his lab colleagues during a speech at the University of Michigan on April 12, 1955. On that day the world learned the polio vaccine worked. Salk's perceived oversight forever damaged his relationship with Youngner.

“Some of them were crying after we left,” Youngner said at the time of his colleagues. “People really held it against him that he had grandstanded like that and really done the most un-collegial thing that you can imagine.”

Salk's achievement along with his vaccine team ended years of fear and anxiety surrounding an illness that spread misery and death in the United States from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century.

At its peak, polio crippled an average of 1,000 children every day in more than 125 countries.

After his work on the polio vaccine, Youngner made major advancements in the fields of virology and immunology. Together with Pitt colleagues, he explored the antiviral activities of the immune protein interferon and identified what is now known as interferon gamma. Interferon is now used in many cancer therapies.

He received numerous honors and awards, including the Polio Plus Achievement Award from Rotary International in 2001.

He earned an honorary doctor of public service from Pitt in 2005, the Chancellors Medal in 2014 and the department of microbiology and molecular genetics established an annual lecture series in his honor in 2015.

Youngner is survived by his wife of 54 years, Rina Youngner of Pittsburgh; children Stuart Youngner of Cleveland and Lisa Youngner of Albuquerque, N.M.; grandchildren Jonathan Youngner of Chicago, Ill., Matthew Youngner of San Francisco, and Suzanne Youngner of Cleveland; and half-brother Alan Donheiser of Contuit, Mass. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Tula Liakakis Youngner.

Editor Luis Fábregas contributed. Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com. Reach him on twitter at @bencschmitt.


Duquesne law students learn the ukulele to relieve stress

By Chris Togneri

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 4:30 p.m.


Law students at Duquesne University are taking a unique approach to handling the stress of finals: They are learning the ukulele.

“As the school year progresses, I see (students) becoming more isolated, I see more stress,” said Robin Connors, coordinator of student organizations at Duquesne's School of Law. “I've tried different things over my six years here: bringing in a chair massage person throughout finals, making sure we have healthy snacks. We work with Animal Friends and bring in therapy dogs.

“They love it, but it's always just a band-aid. It never helps them long-term.”

So Connors, who took up the ukulele two years ago as she finished her law degree, approached professors at the Mary Pappert School of Music. They came up with “The Power of Music,” a four-week pilot program in which law school students learned to play the ukulele twice a week at lunchtime. Twelve students signed up.

“It's working because they're laughing at themselves and they're able to relax,” said Rachel Whitcomb, associate professor of music education. “There are very few things we do where we're not stressed about what's coming up next. In music, particularly when there's an intricate chord progression or you really have to think about, ‘where do my fingers go from here,' you can't be anywhere else but in the music.

“That is what sets music apart from any other discipline. It's an experience, it's a unique experience that isn't like anything else. And when you're involved in a song and you're playing an instrument along with a song, you have to be there.”

During lessons Monday and Thursday, students sat in a mock courtroom at the School of Law and played popular songs about letting go of stress and anxiety: “Let it Be” by the Beatles, “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett, and “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift.

During their last lesson, they performed an original song: “Vacation Elation,” written by Whitcomb and the law students, in which the students cast a hopeful eye to the day after finals.

School officials applied for and received a $750 grant from the American Bar Association Law Student Division to buy more ukuleles. Connors said she envisions a day when students can check ukuleles out like library books, then practice in a designated ukulele room at the Law School.

The ukulele is an ideal instrument for the program because it is inexpensive and easy to learn, Connors and Whitcomb said.

Plus, it evokes feelings of relaxation and levity, they said.

“You think of the beach and a type of fun sound associated with it,” Whitcomb said. “And the ease of playing it makes it enjoyable for them. ... It's working because they are laughing at themselves and they're able to relax.”

Chelsie Horne, a first-year law student, said the classes offer a needed “escape.”

“You're able to escape and laugh at yourself when everything else in law school seems so serious,” she said. “It's silly and it's fun and you get to take that moment to yourself and forget about everything legal.”

Chris Togneri is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5632 or ctogneri@tribweb.com or on Twitter @ChrisTogneri.


Tents pop up near Peduto's home in protest of homeless encampment

By Bob Bauder

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 12:27 p.m.


Paul Hendricks vowed to sleep in a tent next to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's Point Breeze home until the city rousts homeless people from a North Side encampment that neighbors have dubbed “Pedutoville.”

Hendricks, 56, whose Fineview home overlooks the encampment, said he recruited two homeless men to join him in a wooded space next to city steps near Peduto's residence.

“I'm going to stay out there until Mayor Peduto decides he's breaking the law,” said Hendricks, known as “Scrappy” to his friends. “I want to see how his neighbors feel about having homeless people outside their house.”

Peduto, 52, who is running for re-election, told police not to disturb people camped out by his home.

Peduto blamed City Councilwoman Darlene Harris of Spring Hill for what he considers a reprehensible political stunt. He said Harris is using homeless people as political pawns and called it a “new low in Pittsburgh politics.”

Harris, 64, who is challenging Peduto in the May 16 Democratic primary, denied the accusation, saying she knew nothing about Hendricks' protest until Friday.

“It never became an issue until two weeks before the election,” Peduto said. “Darlene is trying to use the most vulnerable in our society as a wedge issue in this campaign, and that is morally reprehensible.”

Harris, a lifelong North Side resident, said the encampment in a wooded area along isolated Howard Street is sanctioned by the city and violates zoning and sanitary ordinances, among others. She said residents are furious about litter, human waste and noise. They became more incensed when the city on Thursday placed a portable toilet on a sidewalk along Howard, she said.

“He's a liar,” Harris said of Peduto. “I have no control over what people do. Don't blame me. He should blame himself.”

Terry Araya, 46, who lives in a tent along Howard, said residents have the wrong impression. He invited visitors to inspect his tent site, which was neat and clear of most litter. He said trash that remains was left by others who have moved out.

He said children have thrown rocks at him and others from a street running above their camp sites.

“The problem is that most people judge homeless people as bad people,” said Araya, a Carnegie native, who moved there in February and has been homeless on and off for 15 years. “They're complaining we're down here littering. They also say we're doing drugs. None of us is doing drugs. The problem is they just don't know us.”

Araya said he's homeless because “bad things just keep happening to me.” He said he prefers to sleep outside in a tent rather than a shelter because it's his own personal space. Shelters move people out each morning, he said.

“We're not doing any of the things they think we're doing,” he said.

Peduto said his administration has worked with social service agencies and police, including UPMC Mercy's Operation Safety Net, in an attempt to find housing and jobs for homeless people in Pittsburgh.

He said homeless advocates have supported the establishment of out-of-the-way spaces like Howard Street where homeless can set up temporary camps.

“The spaces allow for homeless individuals and families to move away from highly public spaces by parks, schools and businesses to more secluded sites, such as that on Howard Street,” the mayor's office said in a statement. “The transitional sites allow Operation Safety Net and others to help supply medical and other care for homeless residents in one place, rather than in scattered sites, and to work to help them find new homes.”

“By rounding them up with police ... and throwing them away as Mrs. Harris wants to do, you don't solve homelessness,” the mayor said. “That only makes the problem worse.”

Hendricks and his neighbor Mary Ann Buggey said the city should help the homeless, but those on Howard Street have refused help and live in the woods by choice. They said they complained to no avail about litter and seeing people urinating.

Buggey said children who live on the street are scared of the homeless people.

Hendricks, owner of a North Side auto repair shop, said he plans to recruit more homeless to camp near Peduto's house. He said he plans to rent a portable toilet for the mayor's street.

“It's my home now,” he said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.


Pittsburgh groups work to rid schools and child care centers of lead, radon
Former CMU professor to lead Uber self-driving car efforts in Pittsburgh

By Aaron Aupperlee

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 2:06 p.m.


A former Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor has taken the wheel of Uber's self-driving car efforts in Pittsburgh.

Eric Meyhofer, who co-founded Carnegie Robotics and worked there until joining Uber in 2015, will take over for Anthony Levandowski amid Uber's legal battle with Waymo, Google's self-driving car company, Business Insider reported Friday

Levandowski, who had worked on Google's self-driving car project before starting the company Otto, sent an email to his team stating that he was stepping aside from LiDAR-related work and management at Uber during the company's court fight with Waymo.

Meyhofer will report directly to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, according to Levandowski's email, obtained by Business Insider.

Meyhofer has been based at Uber's Advanced Technology Center in Pittsburgh. He was part of the core team of CMU-related roboticists that Uber hired to jump-start its self-driving car work. Meyhofer had been Uber's engineering leader in Pittsburgh.

RELATED: How Uber built self-driving cars in Pittsburgh

Waymo has sued Uber, accusing Levandowski of stealing about 14,000 files related to its LiDAR technology, a key component to self-driving cars. Levandowski invoked the fifth amendment to avoid incriminating himself when Waymo tried to depose him in the lawsuit.

Uber has called Waymo's claims baseless and an attempt to slow down a competitor. The company also said Levandowski played a small role in Uber's work on LiDAR.

“I will have absolutely no oversight over or input into our LiDAR work. Going forward, please make sure not to include me in meetings or email threads related to LiDAR, or ask me for advice on the topic,” Business Insider reports the email states. “We should all be proud that our self-driving technology has been built independently, from the ground up. With this move, I hope to keep the team focused on achieving the vision that brought us all here.”

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.


Allegheny County's Port Authority hires interim CEO for $14K a month

By Theresa Clift

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:57 a.m.


David Donahoe, former executive director of the Allegheny Regional Asset District, will serve as Port Authority's interim CEO, the board decided Friday.

Donahoe, 68, of Stanton Heights, will make $14,000 per month, plus benefits, according to the resolution.

The Port Authority is paying a firm up to $111,575 to conduct a national search to find a new CEO to replace Ellen McLean.

The board in February extended McLean's contract, but only through June 1. She will receive a severance package of one year of her $224,771 salary and one year of health benefits.

Board member D. Raja abstained from the motion to hire Donahoe, because he wanted the job to have been advertised publicly, he said.

“I would have wanted a more formal process even for an interim CEO,” Raja said. “A public posting of the job description, submission of resumes for candidates both internally and externally.”

It has not been decided how long Donahoe will serve as interim CEO or when a new CEO might be hired, said Adam Brandolph, Port Authority spokesman.

Donahoe most recently served for six months as interim CEO of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Prior to RAD, he served as the Pennsylvania's secretary of revenue, Allegheny County's deputy controller, executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority and in other public sector positions.

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


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says marijuana is addictive and unhealthy for players

By Ben Schmitt

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:42 a.m.


A week after a medical marijuana conference brought former football players to Pittsburgh to advocate the benefits of cannabis use in controlling pain, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proclaimed on a sports talk show that the drug is addictive and unhealthy for players.

“It does have an addictive nature,” Goodell said Friday on the ESPN show Mike & Mike. “There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered. And it's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren't something that is something that we'll be held accountable for some years down the road.”

Last weekend's World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo at Downtown's David L. Lawrence Convention Center brought the likes of former Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL running back Ricky Williams to push pro-pot agendas.

While NFL players are allowed to take heavy prescription drugs, like opioids, for pain, marijuana remains a banned substance.

“If you get in the drug program and you get in trouble, it's so punitive,” Williams told the Tribune-Review when discussing NFL drug policies. “Players aren't getting help. They are only getting punished for something that I think we can at least make the argument is probably healthier than opioids and prescription drugs that players are taking.”

Whether marijuana is addictive has been debated among experts and users for decades.

Goodell acknowledged Friday that medical marijuana use is on the rise.

“We look at it from a medical standpoint,” Goodell said. “So if people feel that it has a medical benefit, the medical advisers have to tell you that. We have joint advisers, we also have independent advisers, both the (NFL Players Association) and the NFL, and we'll sit down and talk about that. But we've been studying that through our advisers. To date, they haven't said this is a change we think you should make that's in the best interests of the health and safety of our players. If they do, we're certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven't really said that.”

Dr. Bryan Doner, a co-founder of the medical marijuana consulting company Compassionate Certification Centers, helped organize last week's conference in Pittsburgh. He said he found some of Goodell's remarks hypocritical.

“We know for a fact that some of the current treatments used in treating NFL and other athletes, such as opiates and (anti-inflammatory drugs), can absolutely have undeniable and devastating long-term consequences,” Doner said. “At our recent convention, we had a number of former NFL athletes state this in no uncertain terms. If the treatment options the NFL is currently using and endorsing have known, well-documented, long-term negative consequences, is it fair or appropriate to leave those unaddressed while applying this to medical cannabis? The answer to me seems to be a very clear no, and in fact hypocritical.”

Medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is now legal and will be available in 2018 in pills, oils, tinctures or ointments.

Under state law, patients — after consulting with doctors — can apply for a state-issued medical marijuana card if a doctor certifies that they have one of 17 qualified medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com. Reach him on twitter at @bencschmitt.


School districts target teen suicide after Netflix's '13 Reasons Why'
New eateries energize life Downtown

By Tom Fontaine

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 6:05 p.m.


The surge in new restaurants Downtown has been a good recipe for drawing more people to the Golden Triangle, according to a report released Thursday.

“Food drives foot traffic,” the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership wrote in its annual State of Downtown report , which looks at a number of key economic factors related to life and business in Western Pennsylvania's most bustling central business district.

The Downtown Partnership said 30 restaurants opened in the Greater Downtown area last year. The organization defines Greater Downtown as the Golden Triangle, North Shore, South Shore, Uptown, the Bluff, the Lower Hill District and the Strip District to 31st Street.

Nine of the restaurants opened on the North Shore, six opened near Mellon Square and five near Market Square.

In a pedestrian traffic study conducted last year, the Downtown Partnership found that foot traffic was up 108 percent in the 900 block of Penn Avenue compared with 2012 and up 30 percent in Market Square in the same span. In the four-year period, eight new restaurants opened in the Penn Avenue corridor and 12 did in or near Market Square.

The increased number of people living Downtown also contributed to the extra foot traffic. The report said that 14,764 people called Greater Downtown home in 2016, up 2.6 percent from the year before and 22 percent from 2010.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847, tfontaine@tribweb.co or via Twitter at @FontainePGH.


No, wait — Penn Hills School Board did acknowledge its audit

By Natasha Lindstrom

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:39 p.m.


If you thought the Penn Hills School Board voted to reject a less than flattering independent audit of its embattled district on Monday, you'd be in good company.

The business manager and a solicitor who was filling in at the meeting each responded to questions about how not accepting receipt of the audit by CPA Mark Turnley would impact the district following the vote.

Superintendent Nancy Hines said the board would have to review the action and likely consider it again later.

And Board Secretary Dominique Ansani reported to media that the vote to accept the audit had failed. She identified the four board members who voted against the measure.

Turns out everyone was confused. And wrong.

The district said so in emails it sent out to the media this week: “I know there was confusion about how that vote went down. And, while I understand that, we want to make sure that the correct information gets out to the public,” said district spokeswoman Teresita K. Kolenchak.

The new vote released by the district was 4-3 in favor of acknowledging the audit.

The “confused” vote that turned the tables was cast by Denise Graham-Shealey, whose “yes” was counted as a “no” at the meeting.

“I did vote to accept it and send it to Harrisburg like we were supposed to,” Graham-Shealey said.

Hines on Thursday night released a statement via Kolenchak saying several factors were involved.

Some that night thought that at least five votes were required, rather than four.

Hines said she “spent several hours the next morning” with the board secretary comparing their notes, reviewing the audio recording of the meeting and consulting with three of the board's solicitors.

Spanning less than 90 minutes, the meeting was one of the shortest in recent months for the cash-strapped school district, which also is embroiled in an investigation of its finances by the Allegheny County district attorney and state attorney general.

The board quickly advanced one motion after another, at times several agenda items grouped into a single vote.

At one point during the meeting, an audience member called out to say that only one of the board member's microphones was working and people were having a hard time hearing what was happening. The district records its meetings on video, but officials said they were not able to provide the footage on Thursday.

“I can't speak for anyone else, but I do know that there did appear to be confusion on the tally,” board member Pauline Calabrese said Thursday.

Calabrese, President Erin Vecchio and board member Jennifer Burgess-Johnson voted against accepting the audit.

Burgess-Johnson said her vote was “a rejection of incomplete paperwork, lack of transparency and failure to correct this after it was revealed what was missing last month.”

The district put up a post on its website clarifying the vote and providing a link to the final version of the 2015-16 audit. It does not appear to include any significant changes from the draft audit released last month.

The 57-page audit described the district as confronting an “avoidable” financial burden that is “far and above what most districts are facing.”

In several cases, the district was unable to provide Turnley with the documentation he requested, such as records about how it spent money on school lunches and low-income students. The auditor warned the spotty record-keeping may put the district at risk of losing state and federal funding.

“The final draft of the audit is still missing these reports from the business office and is still, in my opinion, an incomplete audit,” Burgess-Johnson said.

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


PA 6th in number of lead-poisoned children

By Theresa Clift

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 5:21 p.m.


The rate of Pennsylvania children with elevated levels of lead in their blood is among the nation's highest, but the state's pediatricians are doing a “good job” of identifying and reporting cases to the federal government, new research shows.

Pennsylvania reported that 51,600 children ages 1 to 5 had blood lead levels of 10 micrograms per deciliter or higher in 2010, according to a Public Health Institute study published Thursday in the journal Pediatrics. That's 3.7 cases per 1,000 children.

Washington, D.C., had the highest rate, with 6.8 cases per 1,000 children. Ohio had 3.9 cases per 1,000 and Michigan, New York and Mississippi had 3.8 per 1,000.

According to 2010 data used in the study , areas in Allegheny County where lead-poisoning was most prevalent included Monroeville, Wilkinsburg, Plum and Pittsburgh's East End, South Side, Mt. Washington, Beechview, Brookline, West End, Crafton Heights and Oakwood.

Child lead poisoning is not just an issue for the Rust Belt, with its aging housing stock, the study found.

Several states in the West and South likely have many cases of children with high lead levels that aren't being identified and aren't being reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the study said.

For example, California reported 19,900 children with levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter in 2010, but the researchers suspect there actually were 53,400, the study found. The study urged clinicians in states such as California where cases were believed to have been underreported to pursue more aggressive testing.

Pennsylvania did a good job of testing and reporting cases of lead-poisoning to the CDC, said Public Institute of Health researcher Eric Roberts.

Since blood levels at or above 5 micrograms per deciliter can cause developmental and learning issues, child lead poisoning costs the United States about $50 billion in lost economic productivity annually, the study found.

Allegheny County could soon require all children to undergo blood lead testing at ages 1 and 2. The Board of Health will consider the measure May 3. If passed, it will go to County Council for full approval.

Last year, 14,088 of the county's children younger than 6 received a lead test, according to county data. That's less than half of the 39,374 residents who are 1 or 2, according to 2015 Census estimates.

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


Wilmerding rapist sentenced to up to 50 years in prison
McKeesport man gets prison in tattoo shop killing

By Megan Guza

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 3:21 p.m.


A McKeesport tattoo artist will spend at least nine years in prison for beating another man to death in 2015, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Common Pleas Judge Edward Borkowski sentenced Dustin Rice, 43, to nine to 18 years in prison for the killing of 54-year-old Dennis Pence in July 2015. Borkowski found Rice guilty of voluntary manslaughter in February.

The fight between Pence and Rice began shortly before 2 a.m. July 18, 2015, after Rice threw Pence out of his tattoo shop. Rice said he fell asleep in his tattoo chair and awoke when Pence came back to the shop and struck him with a walking stick, according to the criminal complaint filed at the time.

The two fought, and witnesses said at the time they saw Pence being struck again and again with the walking stick, both while standing and while he lay on the ground.

Rice said he pushed Pence out of the shop while they fought, though he did not remember much, as he'd been drunk, police wrote in the complaint.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her via twitter at @meganguzaTrib


Morning drug raids target dozens of dealers in Allegheny, Westmoreland counties

By Megan Guza and Chuck Biedka

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 10:42 a.m.


Authorities across Allegheny and Westmoreland counties charged nearly three dozen drug dealers Thursday in organized raids, working to attack what Attorney General Josh Shapiro called a plague on Pennsylvania communities.

“The drug most of these dealers were peddling in our communities was heroin,” Shapiro said in a morning news conference in downtown Pittsburgh. “Today those dealers are off the streets, and they won't be peddling their poison in our communities anymore.”

The roundups came after months of investigations and dozens of drug buys by undercover officers across the region, from Clairton and Wilkinsburg to South Strabane and New Kensington.

Authorities charged 22 people in a Sharpsburg-based investigation, which included arrests of mostly street- and mid-level drug dealers selling heroin and crack cocaine.

New Kensington police and drug task force officers raided a Leishman Avenue house as part of the raids, where officers found heroin, crack cocaine and pills. Needles, pipes, drug kits and at least $250 in cash also were confiscated, according to New Kensington Police Detective Sgt. Sam Long.

He said one woman was arrested on drug charges and three others on outstanding warrants.

The New Kensington raid and other roundups in Allegheny County resulted in 11 more sets of charges.

For a complete list of those charged, go to triblive.com.

“It is a plague affecting our communities, and it has overwhelmed law enforcement,” Shapiro said.

He noted that while the AG's collaboration with local law enforcement is making a difference, there is still much more work to do.

“We need to take this fight to the street corners of Pennsylvania, as we are doing here today,” he said, “as well as doctor's offices and corporate boardrooms.”

Megan Guza and Chuck Biedka are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach her at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib. Reach him at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.


CMU's Snakebot pulls Jimmy's leg on Fallon show

By Aaron Aupperlee

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 10:06 a.m.


A robot from Carnegie Mellon University that looks and moves like a snake was on Jimmy Fallon this week.

Literally on Fallon.

Howie Choset, a robotics professor at CMU, brought Snakebot to “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” for an episode that aired Tuesday.

Choset told Fallon the robot could be a tool for search and rescue workers, could inspect nuclear power plants or could perform minimally invasive surgery, if it was smaller, of course. He said the robot is great because it can go places humans and conventional machines can't.

And it's really great at climbing things.

“Can it climb me?” Fallon asked.

Things got a little funky as Snakebot made its way up Fallon's leg.

“Slow down there, mister,” Fallon said as Snakebot neared his knee.

Snakebot appeared as part of segment called “Tonight Showbotics.” It featured Snakebot, Sophia, a human-like robot by Hanson Robotics, and butterfly robots made by Festo AG.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.


New Kensington-Arnold gives furlough notices to 33 teachers
Norwin probes allegations against Guard recruiter

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:33 p.m.


Officials are investigating allegations of “inappropriate conduct” involving a Pennsylvania Army National Guard recruiter assigned to Norwin High School.

In a statement released Friday, Norwin School District said it is “participating in all aspects of the ongoing investigation” and “appropriate authorities have been notified,” including the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services' ChildLine program, the North Huntingdon Township Police Department and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Command.

Details of the circumstances that triggered the probe weren't provided. Acting township Police Chief Rod Mahinske wasn't available for comment.


Slain trooper's young sons in court as killer Eric Frein gets death
Slain trooper's young sons in court as killer Eric Frein gets death
West Deer traffic stop leads to heroin bust

By Chuck Biedka

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 5:09 p.m.


When West Deer police pulled over a Jeep with illegal window tint Wednesday, it resulted in drug trafficking charges being filed against a Pittsburgh man.

The SUV was pulled over along Saxonburg Boulevard near the West Deer No. 2 Fire Hall at about 10:40 a.m. Driver Ronnell Dkwan Bryant, 22, of Highland Park, Pittsburgh and a passenger who wasn't charged, told police they were looking for the Pittsburgh Mills mall.

Sgt. Darren J. Mikus said things didn't add up. He said police had information about a Highlands Park man suspected of delivering drugs into the township twice a week, so he said police had reasonable suspicion to call for a police dog.

Indiana Township's police dog walked around the car's exterior and alerted to drugs inside, police said. As a result, police search the car, Mikus said Friday.

He said police found 250 packets of heroin tucked up under the dashboard by the steering wheel.

Frazer, Indiana Township and state attorney general drug agents assisted West Deer police with the arrest.

The charges were filed the same day that the AG's office led a drug sweep in parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties but the stop wasn't part of that, said police Chief Jon Lape.

Lape said Bryant, who doesn't have a criminal record, took sole responsibility for the drugs and not the passenger, who does has a record.

Bryant is charged with having heroin with intent to sell, drug possession and a windshield tint offense.

West Deer District Judge Tom Swan formally charged Bryant and sent him to the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com or on Twitter @Chuck Biedka.


Southwest Greensburg councilman dies after long illness
Reception tepid for Pennsylvania House's liquor privatization plans
Reception tepid for Pennsylvania House's liquor privatization plans
3 Dems vie for 2 Fawn Township supervisor seats in May primary

By Madasyn Czebiniak

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:50 p.m.


Three Democrats are vying for two open Fawn supervisors seats in the May 16 primary election.

The candidates include incumbent Cliff Thompson, a former Fawn police chief and current volunteer firefighter; Carrie White, an ophthalmic technician; and Jay Swager, a local businessman.

Supervisor terms are for six years.

Police protection and new development were among the issues two of the candidates vowed to focus on.

The supervisors earlier this year discussed the possibility of scrapping the township's police department, which is made up of one full-time officer, Chief Tim Mayberry, and two part-time officers. For coverage at other hours, the township relies on the state police based in East Franklin, Armstrong County.

Candidates Jay Swager and Carrie White want to retain Fawn's police.

Swager, 61, thinks a local department is beneficial because it offers a quicker response time and some residents are familiar with the officers.

He would, however, like to see officers return to on-call duty, because he doesn't think Fawn can afford to pay for 24/7 coverage.

“Years ago we had police on-call,” he said. “They got paid so much for an hour, they could be home, and if there was an incident, they could be called in to be put on duty.”

White wants to make sure that not only the Fawn police department is retained, but also the township's two volunteer fire departments.

“The two fire departments that we have in this township have been at odds for years,” said White, 53. “I hope that we can try to put that to rest and make sure that our public safety is going to be there when we need it.”

Both Swager and White would also like to see the township become more proactive in seeking new development.

Swager, the owner of J&J Power Equipment on Howes Run Road, is pushing for new housing developments in Fawn. He's also interested in designating more areas for businesses.

“I know zoning is a good thing, but some people would like to start a business, and they don't have a place to start it,” Swager said. “You just can't decide that you want to put a big car dealership right in the middle of a residential area, but you just have to somehow make it a little bit easier.”

White said the township has no draw for people aside from a few gas stations and a car repair shop. She wants that to change.

“If somebody wants to have a meeting or have a function … they have no place to do it,” she said. “We really don't have anything in the township to want to bring people (here). I'm about bringing it in to benefit the community.”

Though Swager doesn't have any prior political experience, he said residents should vote for him because he can relate to them.

“You're not dealing with somebody that makes six figures a year and looks down on everybody else,” Swager said. “I'm just regular working people like most of the other people in the township.”

White serves on both the Fawn Planning Commission and Fawn Sewage Authority.

The May 16 primary is her third time running for supervisor.

White said she is the best candidate because she cares about the township.

“I care about the people, how they're affected by what goes on in this township,” she said. “I think in today's day and age that gets pushed aside. I think everything's based on numbers, everything's based on everything other than the human factor, and I think that that really needs to be brought back into why we do things.”

Thompson, 87, is seeking re-election for his third term as supervisor.

A 1948 graduate of West Deer High School, Thompson said he tries to do the right thing for the people and doesn't make promises he can't keep.

“I'm not a blowhard,” Thompson said. “I don't like to commit myself to anything I can't do.”

Thompson did not elaborate when asked what issues he would like to address if re-elected, though he did say he has been told that nobody has done as much for the township as he has.

“I'm just going to try to keep doing what I'm doing now,” he said.

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer.


War veteran gets Seton Hill baseball jersey a decade late

By Stephen Huba

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:12 p.m.


Friday was a homecoming of sorts for Brandon Rumbaugh, a former Seton Hill University student who went off to Afghanistan and came back a changed man.

“Being able to come back here 10 years later and speak to the team and experience all this – it's an amazing feeling,” Rumbaugh said, standing halfway between the pitcher's mound and home plate.

Rumbaugh, 28, of Uniontown returned to Seton Hill on Friday to accept a $500 donation for the It's About the Warrior Foundation and to receive the baseball jersey he would have worn back in 2007.

The ceremony was held after the first game of a doubleheader against Clarion University. Seton Hill players wore camouflage jerseys for the school's Military Appreciation Day.

“I just felt like if anybody deserved to have his own jersey, he did,” said Griffins head coach Marc Marizzaldi.

An outfielder, Rumbaugh was on the Seton Hill baseball team for one semester before deciding to join the Marine Corps. He practiced with the team but never played a game, Marizzaldi said.

“He was a very hard type of player. Very athletic,” he said.

Rumbaugh ended up doing two tours in Afghanistan. In 2010, the corporal lost both legs in an IED explosion.

Today, he wears a prosthesis for his left leg below the knee. His right leg was amputated at the hip. He gets around mostly with crutches and the prosthesis, although he uses a wheelchair at home.

Rumbaugh's involvement with the It's About the Warrior Foundation began after he got out of the hospital, he said.

“They reached out to me and asked if I needed help,” he said. “I thought it was pretty awesome that they approached me instead of me asking for help.”

The Butler-based foundation was founded in 2012 and serves military veterans whose service began after 9/11, regardless of whether they did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The nonprofit provides financial, therapeutic and home improvement assistance to veterans from western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia who have been honorably discharged.

Rumbaugh serves on the board of directors and oversees the financial grant program, which helps qualifying veterans and their families with such things as utilities, mortgage and car payments. Veterans can apply for up to $1,000 in assistance a year, he said.

Rumbaugh also travels and does motivational speaking for sports teams, schools, nonprofits and corporations. He founded ACT Motivational Speaking two years ago and spoke to the Seton Hill baseball team last year.

“Ever since I left (in 2007), I always wanted to come back here on good terms,” he said at Friday's ceremony. “When I left, I left a lot of stuff behind, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I just knew that I wanted to go into the Marine Corps.”

For more information on the It's About the Warrior Foundation, visit www.iatw.us. Rumbaugh's website is: www.brandonrumbaugh.com.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.


New Kensington woman faces animal cruelty charges
Fired Greensburg cop files race discrimination suit

By Brian Bowling

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 4:30 p.m.


Justin Adams received mostly good reviews from his Greensburg police supervisors — until the day they fired him, he claimed in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed Friday.

Adams, who is black, said white officers frequently made derogatory comments about blacks and used racial slurs against him, often in the presence of supervisors.

“There was a hostile work environment that was created through racial slurs and racial attacks,” said Lawrence Bolind, Adams' lawyer.

The city hired him on June 21, 2015. As Adams was nearing the end of his probationary period, he was called to Chief Chad Zucco's office on April 28, 2016, and fired for alleged performance deficiencies that were seven to eight months old, Bolind said.

“The day he was terminated, they show this extraordinary amount of performance deficiencies that were never brought to his attention during his probationary period,” he said.

The deficiencies were a pretext for getting rid of a black police officer while he was still on probation, the lawsuit states.

Adams is suing Zucco and the city, the police department and several police and city officials. Zucco, City Administrator Sue Trout and Solicitor Bernard McArdle couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Adams, 26, has been an accredited police officer since January 2013 and has never been reprimanded or suspended and has a “spotless employment record” at every department where he has worked, the lawsuit states.

When the city hired him, he was immediately used undercover to identify black drug dealers for other police officers, the lawsuit says.

During this assignment, officers frequently made racial comments including, “There was one black guy here prior to you for a reason,” the lawsuit states.

During a Feb. 1, 2016, conversation with other police officers outside of the Sheetz convenience store on Harvey Avenue, Adams said more blacks joining the police force would help community relations, the lawsuit states.

A police sergeant responded, “They could if they weren't so busy doing drugs and getting arrested … most of ‘them' have criminal records,” according to the lawsuit.

One of the more disturbing incidents was when one of the officer's spouses brought in spaghetti for the shift and an officer commented that Adams was disappointed it wasn't fried chicken, Bolind said.

While Adams informally complained about the behavior to supervisors, it was difficult to press a complaint since the supervisors witnessed many incidents and didn't do anything to stop them, he said.

“How do you take a complaint forward when your superiors were in the room?” he said.

Adams seeks punitive and compensatory damages, including lost pay.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, bbowling@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribBrian.


Emergency hydrant flushing completed in Springdale Township

By Brian C. Rittmeyer

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 3:06 p.m.


Emergency fire hydrant flushing has been completed in Springdale Township, according to the Allegheny Valley Volunteer Fire Co.

The fire department was flushing hydrants Thursday at High Street, Melzina, Adeline, Bucknell, Williams and Sycamore Ridge.

The flushing was necessary to ensure that all of the hydrants are working properly, the township said in a Facebook post.

Residents were advised to check water to be sure it's clear before doing laundry.

If water is discolored, run it for a few minutes until it clears, the township advised.

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


Power restored in North Huntingdon, Irwin

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 3:09 p.m.


Traffic lights were out of order for a few hours Friday along Route 30 from the Rocky Road intersection west of the Pennsylvania Turnpike exit in North Huntingdon to Irwin as a result of a power outage, according to township police.

Power was restored to customers at about 3 p.m., West Penn Power spokesman Todd Meyers said.

About 400 customers were initally without power when some switches on a pole failed at the intersection of Route 30 and Fairwood Drive, Meyers said. About 300 of the customers were in North Huntingdon and the remainder in Irwin, Meyers said.

The utility had to interrupt power to about 100 more customers to safely make repairs, he said.


Contract awarded for Parks Twp. nuclear dump cleanup
2 drivers dead in violent Route 30 crash

By Renatta Signorini

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 4:30 a.m.


Two Westmoreland County men died Thursday following a violent three-vehicle crash on Route 30 in Unity, authorities said.

Richard P. McLaughlin, 72, of Unity was pronounced dead at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg after the force of the 7:30 p.m. crash ripped in half his Buick Regal as he turned onto Route 30, state police and Westmoreland County Deputy Coroner Josh Zappone said.

Bryan Newhouse, 29, of Latrobe died at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office.

Debris from the crash, including an engine block and the back half of the Buick, stretched hundreds of feet on Route 30.

State police and the county coroner said in news releases that McLaughlin had a green light and was turning left onto the highway from Lewis Road when a Volkswagen GTI traveling west on Route 30 ran a red light and slammed into McLaughlin's car. The Volkswagen was driven by Newhouse, police said.

The back end of the Buick was thrown into the eastbound lanes and struck a sport utility vehicle driven by a 64-year-old Harrison City woman who was stopped at the red light on Route 30.

Jolene Hill, a nurse at a nearby doctor's office, was working late when she heard the crash and looked outside.

“I saw a lone tire just rolling down the westbound lane,” she said. “I ran up over the hill and that's when I saw the red car.”

Hill said two men in the Volkswagen were unresponsive when she ran up — in her bare feet because she'd taken her shoes off while catching up on paperwork. Police said two Latrobe men — ages 34 and 25 — were passengers in the Volkswagen.

Seeing that the driver was unconscious and struggling to breathe, Hill said she held up his head to keep his airway clear until another nurse, then firefighters, arrived. The rear-seat passenger also was unconscious but appeared to awaken after a few moments, she said. All three in the Volkswagen were transported to area hospitals.

The highway near Toyota of Greensburg was closed for several hours Thursday night. That stretch of Route 30 is traveled by about 33,000 motorists daily, according to a PennDOT map. The speed limit there is 50 mph.

Kepple-Graft Funeral Home is handling McLaughlin's arrangements. He died of multiple blunt-force injuries, Zappone said. Newhouse's cause of death was unavailable Friday.

Staff writer Matt Santoni contributed. Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, rsignorini@tribweb.com or via Twitter @byrenatta.


Three firefighters treated for injuries at Allegheny Township blaze

By Chuck Biedka

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 10:51 a.m.


Eve-Ann Fay had just taken her son and a neighbor's child to school for the morning when she received a frantic call.

A friend shouted that her Allegheny Township house was on fire.

Firefighters arrived just before 10 a.m. to find smoke pouring from the eaves of the two-story house cut into a hillside at 51 McCutcheon Shortcut Road.

No one was inside the house, but three firefighters were treated for heat-related problems.

Another was taken to a hospital to be checked for chest pain. His condition wasn't immediately known.

Firefighters later said it was an accidental blaze apparently caused by an overheated light in the basement ceiling.

While Fay, 46, wore her fuzzy pink slippers and waited in a car for her husband, David, to arrive from work in Pittsburgh, she shook her head.

Fay waved papers she had to buy the house that the Fays and their preteen son have rented for more than 10 years.

“Our closing was scheduled for June,” she said.

Fay, an intensive care unit cardiac care nurse, said she had two heart valves replaced and is still on medical leave.

When David Fay arrived, he said the family has house insurance.

“We just painted inside,” he said.

Later, the couple gathered with family and friends on a large back porch to plan what to do next. For now, they are staying with relatives.

Allegheny Township and Markle firefighters were joined by dozens of other departments to truck-in water.

There are no fire hydrants along the road.

“We had a good turnout despite the time of the day,” said Allegheny Township Assistant Fire Chief Don Nickels.

The fire heavily damaged the kitchen and some other parts of the house.

Part of the kitchen floor burned through, apparently because of the basement light malfunction, firefighters said.

“It was an accidental fire,” Nickels said.

“Vandergrift No. 2 fire Chief Steve Potoka is an electrician, and he traced it to the light.”

A damage estimate wasn't available.

Tankers loaded a portable pool that almost looks like an above-ground pool except for its firefighter golden-yellow color.

Numerous hoses were stretched a good 300 yards to reach the house.

More than one firefighter taking a break from the heat sat on the fender of a fire engine and one said the pool looked tempting.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or on Twitter @ChuckBiedka.


Life or death for 'Greensburg Six' killer to be decided in October

By Joe Napsha

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 12:03 p.m.


Five codefendants of convicted murderer Melvin Knight — who were involved in the 2010 torture and killing of a mentally challenged woman in Greensburg — may be called testify before a jury decides whether to sentence him to death or life in prison, a defense attorney said Friday.

Attorney Timothy Dawson said he could call Knight's codefendants to testify in the new penalty phase in connection with his 2012 plea to first-degree and second-degree murder of Jennifer Daugherty, 30, of Mt. Pleasant.

Dawson also plans to call psychologists, family members, friends and anyone who can support the mitigating factors admissible in a death sentencing, he said.

Following a brief court proceeding regarding the case Friday, Assistant District Attorney Leo J. Ciaramitaro said he does not anticipate “much difference in how the commonwealth proceeds in the case than the first time.”

Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway said jury selection will begin Sept. 25 and that she will allot two weeks for the penalty phase, which is to begin on Oct. 16.

Knight, 27, formerly of Swissvale, is being held at SCI-Greene near Waynesburg. He did not attend Friday's status conference.

Knight was one of six Greensburg roommates who held Daugherty captive for more than two days, beating her and torturing her before she was stabbed to death.

Knight is accused of raping Daugherty and stabbing her in the heart.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Knight's death sentence in November. The court determined jurors weren't properly told that they should have included Knight's lack of a criminal record among the “mitigating factors” when deciding if he should receive the death penalty.

The jury found Knight had “mental health issues” that were a mitigating factor but determined that alone was outweighed by the horrific nature of the murder.

One of his codefendants, Ricky Smyrnes, 31, was convicted by a jury and also sentenced to death. His death sentence, however was upheld in February by the state Supreme Court.

None of Knight's other codefendants received the death penalty. Angela Marinucci, 24, was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence. Amber Meidinger, 27, who testified against her codefendants, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and is serving a maximum of 80 years in prison. Robert Masters, 43, and Peggy Miller, 34, also pleaded guilty to third-degree murder. Masters is serving up to 70 years, and Miller was sentenced to spend up to 75 years in prison.

Dawson said he met with Knight on Thursday and described his demeanor as “quiet, but resolved.” Knight “talked extensively about his family, his background and his mental health background, all of which needs to be explored for the sentencing phase,” Dawson said.

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


Morning drug raids target dozens of dealers in Allegheny, Westmoreland counties
Greensburg museum of American art to serve as backdrop for citizenship ceremony

By Debra Erdley

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:54 a.m.


In a ceremony almost as old as the nation, 14 new Americans from 13 countries on Wednesday will take the oath of citizenship at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

The 1 p.m. ceremony, which is open to the public, marks the first time a naturalization ceremony has been held outside the Westmoreland County Courthouse.

Museum CEO Judith O'Toole said she pitched the idea to Prothonotary Christina O'Brien after hearing about another museum of American art hosting naturalization ceremonies.

Hosting the ceremony in a museum rich in the history of American art seemed like a great way to welcome new citizens to another important aspect of the nation, O'Toole said. She said museum staffers will welcome new citizens and their families to explore exhibits and take photographs by Rembrandt Peale's portrait of George Washington.

“We want them to know the museum is for everyone, not just wealthy people who get dressed up for special events,” she said. “We'd like them to be able to see the country through our artists' eyes.”

O'Brien jumped at the opportunity.

“It seemed like a nice way for (citizenship candidates) to get out into the community,” she said.

O'Brien said next week's ceremony will be distinctive in the number of countries represented among the citizenship candidates.

“The most varied groups usually represent no more than three or four countries,” she said.

While the setting may be new, the ceremony will hue to tradition. Common Pleas Court Judge Rita Hathaway will administer the oath of citizenship. Using a script that has changed slightly over the decades, she will ask each candidate to renounce all foreign powers and defend and protect the constitution of the United States.

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


BP gas station in Natrona Heights looks to add alcohol sales

By Kim Leonard

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 12:00 a.m.


Visitors to a BP gas station and convenience store in Natrona Heights may be able to pick up beer to go by the time football season starts.

Owner Gary L. Weleski said now that the Harrison commissioners have approved a restaurant liquor license transfer for the store, he'll seek the state's final OK for the license.

He'll also have an architect draw plans for a 10-foot-deep addition to the rear of the business, running across the width of the building at Alter Road and Route 908.

With the addition, the store can be reconfigured to allow for more coolers and the required cafe with seating for 30 people, said Weleski, president of Welmart Inc., which owns the station.

Altoona-based convenience store giant Sheetz Inc. is adding beer to more of its Pennsylvania locations, and has a pending restaurant liquor license application for a Sheetz that's under construction off Freeport Road in Harrison.

Giant Eagle Inc.'s GetGo gas station/convenience stores, other chains and independent stores are making similar moves.

Weleski is looking to keep up with the times and expand customer service.

“We just want to maintain our level ground with the other convenience stores in the area,” he said. “We didn't want to be the one without the beer license.”

The Harrison commissioners approved the license transfer to Welmart in a 4-0 vote Monday. Robin Bergstrom abstained, saying she felt it wouldn't be proper to vote because she operates a beer distributorship.

Mark E. Kozar, an attorney who represented Weleski at the public hearing, said the business would sell beer in six- and 12-packs. Weleski said bottles of wine could be sold later too, with an addendum to the license that is being transferred from a south suburban Pittsburgh location.

“This is not going to be a place where people come in to drink and hang out,” Kozar said at the meeting.

Weleski said the convenience store already sells Subway sandwiches and Anthony's pizza, named for his father.

Commissioners' Chairman Bill Poston noted at the meeting that other stores paired with gas stations are moving to beer and wine sales, and it's virtually a “no-brainer” for Welmart to go that route to stay competitive.

Fourteen Sheetz stores in Pennsylvania sell beer, out of a total of 261, spokesman Nick Ruffner said.

“Our goal is to eventually offer beer in every location that we can,” he said.

Wine also will be sold, although with training and additional permitting those products typically appear later.

Sheetz has 550 stores in six states, and all stores outside Pennsylvania sell beer, he said.

Coolers at Harrison's new Sheetz should be stocked with beer when it opens, tentatively on July 6.

The store also will be one of 90 with drive-thru windows where motorists can get almost anything in the store — except beer and lottery tickets, Ruffner said.

Also in Pennsylvania, 18 of Giant Eagle's GetGo stores sell beer, in addition to 42 supermarkets, spokesman Dick Roberts said.

Nationwide, 83 percent of convenience stores sold beer in 2015, said Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives with the National Association of Convenience Stores, based in Alexandria, Va.

And 63 percent of convenience stores are run by a one-store operator, versus a chain, he said. Pennsylvania has close to 4,800 convenience stores, and nearly 2,600 of them are single-operator businesses.

“So it's a lot of small businesses,” Lenard said.

And the stores aren't necessarily just vying with each other for customers.

“With convenience stores, it comes down to the idea of how you compete against everyone else” in a market where many states have a variety of restrictions, Lenard said. “Whether it's beer or any other product ... retailers just want to have the ability to offer these items to their customers because they are being offered in other outlets.”

Weleski wants to complete his store addition by late August or early September. He also operates Weleski Transfer, an Atlas Van Lines moving company in Tarentum; self-storage businesses in East Deer and Kittanning; and Atlas locations in Johnstown and Cleveland.

The convenience store site originally was to become another self-storage location, he said. A small insurance office was there when he bought it, but he discovered a clause in the deed that said if oil was to be sold on the site it had to be BP products.

Oil companies used to buy up parcels at key intersections and along highways, he said, and with the location just off Route 28 he opted to make the business a gas station and store instead.

Contributing writer Tom Yerace contributed. Kim Leonard is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 724-226-4674, kleonard@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KimLeonardTrib.


Salem Township neighbors, land heal year after pipeline explosion

By Debra Erdley

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:05 p.m.


The rolling green hills interspersed with brown ribbons of newly plowed fields on Randy Gillis' Salem farm are an image of spring fit for a postcard.

Little hints at the destruction that scoured the fields after a 30-inch natural gas pipeline exploded the morning of April 29, 2016, sending a huge fireball hundreds of feet into the sky, leaving a massive crater and a desolate reddish clay landscape in its wake.

A year later, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has yet to issue its final report about the blast that scorched about 40 acres of farm fields, leveled a brick ranch house, left a man seriously burned, melted the siding on several nearby homes and rattled windows for miles around.

In a preliminary report, investigators said one factor in the explosion was failure of the tape coating used to seal the weld joints on 40-foot-long sections of pipe when the line was installed in 1981. Failure of the tape, which has been replaced by new technology, contributed to accelerated corrosion of the steel pipe.

Safety administration spokesman Darius Kirkwood could not offer a release date for the final report. He said Enbridge Inc., the company that acquired pipeline operator Spectra Energy this year, remains subject to a corrective action order the agency issued last summer, detailing requirements for testing, investigation and startup processes for the affected lines.

Gillis, whose family has farmed the 150-acre spread since the 1930s, said the burn area has been treated with lime, fertilizer and new topsoil. He's planning to move his beef herd onto pasture on part of the site this week and hopes the fields he plowed on another portion do well this summer.

“It was hard when I plowed. But we haven't been through a growing season yet, so we just don't know,” he said.

Gillis lives on the farm with his wife, Wendy, and their three children. Although their farmhouse and barn escaped damages, the brick ranch house where his late parents once lived was obliterated by the blast.

James Baker, a 26-year-old newlywed who was renting the house with his wife, Kellie, was home that morning recovering from a broken ankle when the inferno tore through. Baker spent months in the hospital and lost part of a leg as a result of his burns. He and his wife have relocated to Greensburg, where friends say he is working to rebuild his life.

Wendy Gillis said she, her husband and children have driven out along the pipeline right of way and marveled at how the land and foliage are coming back.

Reminders remain

But watching workmen finally bulldozing the remains of the house where Randy Gillis' parents once lived and where the Bakers' lives were changed forever was emotionally trying.

“That was very hard for me and Randy. His brother and sister were out and each took out a brick to keep. It is really heart-breaking,” she said.

Their neighbors, retirees Richard and Linda Johnston, who live on a hill high above the Gillis farm, say the bare branches on one side of the tree in their yard are a reminder of the heat that seared the land that morning.

“I was having my coffee and he was reading the newspaper,” Linda Johnston said. “(The blast) was nerve-wracking. Our sliding glass doors melted. We grabbed our emergency papers and money and the dog and got out.

“About a month later when I was washing my car, I noticed that the side mirror was partway melted,” she said.

Persistent concerns

Don Deaver of Plano, Texas, a mechanical engineer with three decades of experience in the pipeline industry, was an investigator for plaintiffs' attorneys in a horrific 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif. A 30-inch line like the one in Salem exploded there, leveling 35 homes, killing eight and injuring dozens in the heavily populated suburb.

While the energy industry maintains that underground pipelines are the safest way to move their products, Deaver said too often they are near homes and schools.

“Each one of these is a precursor of what can happen out there. A 30-inch, high-pressure pipeline is capable of creating a zone of death of 700 to 800 feet,” Deaver said.

Deaver wasn't surprised that pipeline company officials excavated hundreds of locations along the pipeline between Delmont and Lamberstville, N.J., after the Salem explosion.

In a release to shareholders last summer, the company disclosed that costs for repairs and remediation were expected to run as high as $75 million to $100 million.

Company officials said their findings prompted them to reduce the interval between in-line inspections of such pipelines, which federal regulations require every seven years, to once every three to four years.

It's unclear what, if any, work remains on the lines that once again are buried in the earth.

Enbridge spokesman Phil West said the 30-inch pipeline that exploded and three others that run parallel to it have all have returned to service, with the exception of one section.

“Approximately seven miles of line 27 (the line that exploded) remains out of service, from the Delmont compressor station to the east,” West said.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer.She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.


9 seek 4 school board seats in Allegheny Valley School District
Marijuana-laced brownies land Greensburg Salem student in court

By Tribune-Review

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 2:00 p.m.


A Greensburg Salem High School girl has been charged with taking brownies baked with marijuana to school.

The 16-year-old shared the brownies with several students Wednesday, according to Greensburg Police.

She is charged in juvenile court with possession with intent to deliver, possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.


Leechburg Area students to continue half-day Lenape Tech schedule

By Tom Yerace

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 11:57 p.m.


Students in the Leechburg Area School District attending Lenape Technical School will continue doing it on a half-day basis.

With three board members absent due to work or illness, the board voted 5-1 Wednesday night to keep students on a half-day basis.

Those voting to retain half-day attendance were: Megan Hamm, Jean Stull, Neill Brady, Angelique Richards and Joseph Michadick.

Anthony Shea was the only member to vote against it, favoring the full-day option.

Absent were Terri Smith, Helen Yurjevich and Kathryn Vargo.

The vote came after about 15 or 20 people out of a crowd of at least 80, spoke to the board.

Most of the speakers, including teachers, students and residents, appeared to favor the half-day option — the less expensive of the two options.

Those championing the full-day choice said too much time is lost for the students because of the daily bus trips to Lenape, along with scheduling conflicts.

Those opposed to the full-day proposal argued that the cost would drive the district to financial ruin. Opponents claimed it would force cuts in programs such as arts, music and athletics, as well as reductions in the teaching staff.

Currently, Leechburg Area pays Lenape $435,700 for 52 students in grades 10-12 to attend the Manor school on a half-day basis.

Tenth-graders would be eliminated from attending full-day sessions, bringing the total down to 39 students.

Business Manager Brad Walker said Lenape's current cost of full-day tuition is $13,500 per student. The cost for half-day students is $8,400, about 60 percent of the full-day rate. For special education students, the cost is $20,300 per student.

For 27 students attending Lenape at the standard, full-day rate the cost would be close to $365,000 and about $240,000 for 12 special education students. That would be a total of $608,000.

The total difference between the full-time and part-time costs comes to more than $170,000 more for full day, according to Walker.

Walker said the cost of attendance in the Leechburg Area schools is about $11,900 per student.

“Just because a student goes to Lenape, that cost for us doesn't go away,” Superintendent Tiffany Nix said.

Walker affirmed that saying that if the 39 Leechburg Area students went to Lenape for full-days, the district would lose the state subsidy for those students and Lenape would gain that money.

Nix asked him to project each scenario and its impact on the district five years into the future. Either way, the path appears challenging for a school board trying to make ends meet.

According to Walker, based on current numbers, to keep students at Lenape on a half-day basis would put the district into a deficit of $4 million if there were no tax increases.

Taking the full-time option and again, figuring in no tax increases, the district would be looking at a financial hole of $5.5 million, he said. “If (Leechburg Area's) Lenape students are not offered full day, all of them are prepared to leave your district,” said Janine Remaley of West Leechburg, whose daughter attends Lenape.

Speaking for the other side, Julia Olshansky of Leechburg said, “If Lenape goes full-day, Leechburg goes bankrupt. Are you willing to sacrifice the needs of 700 students for the needs of 39?”

Shea said he is confident Nix will turn the district around so more opportunities will be available to students in the future, including those at Lenape. But Shea said he was concerned about the students there now.

“I looked at this as a stopgap until Ms. Nix gets her plan going,” Shea said. “They (Lenape) are going to raise their part-time tuition, and we are going to revisit this.”

Board vice president Jean Stull said she has been on the board for 7 12 years and the issue has come up three times. She said the last time it happened she voted to offer the full-day program at Lenape, but this time was different.

“To me, the numbers spoke volumes,” Stull said.

Stull believes the program cuts and teacher furloughs that people referred to would be a very real possibility had the full-day program been approved.

She echoed Shea's confidence in Nix and her plan to expand opportunities for students but she doubts that will include full-day attendance at Lenape unless the tuition at that school starts coming down.

Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.


Greensburg Community Development Corp. closing in on new director

By Jacob Tierney

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


The next director of the Greensburg Community Development Corp. will have to hit the ground running, said city planning director Barbara Ciampini.

“The city of Greensburg and the Greensburg Community Development Corp. are on the cusp of a lot of good things happening,” she said.

The corporation board has been looking for a new director since last month, when Steven Gifford announced he would step down from the position after 12 years to take over the Butler County Community Development Corp.

“We've got resumes in, we have a committee formed, and I believe we're going to be starting some of the interviewing next week,” board President Jeff Anzovino said.

The committee received more than 25 applications, which have been whittled to a final field of six, Anzovino said.

“I feel like there's probably someone in there who can fill Steve's very large shoes,” Ciampini said.

Gifford has been splitting his time this month between his job in Greensburg and the new position in Butler.

He'll officially leave Greensburg at the end of the month but will continue to assist the corporation until the new director is established, Anzovino said.

The GCDC is a nonprofit corporation designed to foster economic growth in the city. The director must be a skilled communicator, able to converse and connect with government officials, business leaders and developers, Ciampini said.

“The executive director of the GCDC and I are in constant communication,” she said.

Some of the finalists are from the Greensburg area. Anzovino said he would prefer a local candidate, but geography won't be a deciding factor.

“I'm not speaking for GCDC, but my preference is to have someone local, because I think having someone living in the area and trying to promote the area is more beneficial than someone coming in from outside the county or outside the city,” he said.

However, qualifications matter more than residency, Anzovino said.

Ciampini said a different perspective might be a benefit.

“Sometimes fresh eyes bring a whole new outlook into the community,” she said.

The next developer will have a lot to do, including fostering the fledgling tax-break program for developers who improve city properties, Ciampini said.

Gifford and the city spent years planning various initiatives, and Ciampini said she hopes to see them all come together when someone new takes the helm.

“It's finally coming together. Things are changing in a positive direction,” she said.

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


Grant to help repair blighted Westmoreland homes, aid the disabled
3 women seek GOP nod to oppose Prothonotary Christina O'Brien


By Rich Cholodofsky

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 10:33 p.m.


The three women seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Prothonotary Christina O'Brien, a Democrat, each said her administrative and leadership skills make her the best candidate for the GOP to win the office for the first time in decades.

The prothonotary's office is where all civil and family court records are filed and the only courthouse office where passports are processed. The successful candidate will win a four-year term and earn $67,504 annually.

Kimberly Horrell, a deputy in the register of wills office; Susan Ilgenfritz, a sales representative with AAA in Murrysville; and Gina O'Barto, an administrative assistant at a Greensburg machine shop, are seeking the Republican nomination in the May 16 primary.

Horrell of Hempfield started working at the courthouse last year after 27 years as a postmaster in Youngstown and holding marketing jobs with the U.S. Postal Service. She said she wants the prothonotary to better serve the public by taking its passport services on the road to senior centers and colleges.

She wants to make the office more accessible by coordinating with other courthouse offices with late afternoon or early evening hours. Several offices, such as the register of wills, the recorder of deeds and the prothonotary, remain open after the courthouse closes at 4 p.m., but on different days.

“My experience in government, my experience as a manger, allows me to reorganize the office to better serve the public. I'm dedicated to the county to make things better,” Horrell said.

Ilgenfritz of Murrysville, is the only GOP candidate with political experience, having served as a member of the Franklin Regional School board since 2013. She said her business and management experience will enable her to make the office more efficient.

She said she wants to improve the office's efficiency and customer service

Ilgenfritz said she favors term limits and would cap her position as head of the office at three four-year terms.

O'Barto, of Unity, works as an office assistant at EDM Services in Greensburg and is seeking public office for the first time. She previously worked at other businesses and in the administrative offices at Greater Latrobe Area High School.

“I am not part of the establishment,” O'Barto said. “I stand apart from them (her opponents). I'm a fresh, new face because I have never run for office before and I have fresh, new ideas.”

Those ideas include providing better training for employees to ensure all staff members can perform any jobs in the office. O'Barto said her business experience with budgets will enable her to establish a system to ensure the public has access to all information.

She said she will not release specific plans until after she is elected and is able to evaluate office functions.

O'Brien, 50, of Mt. Pleasant Township, is unopposed in the Democratic primary. She is seeking her third term.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.


Steelers' top pick T.J. Watt overcomes injuries to follow brothers to NFL
Gorman: For Penguins' Cole, win worth the bruise

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:03 p.m.


WASHINGTON

Believe it or not, Ian Cole swears that he had only one bruise Friday, albeit a big one on the underside of his left forearm.

You would have expected Cole to be covered in black-and-blue marks after the Penguins defenseman blocked eight shots in the 3-2 victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

That it's as many as the Capitals had as a team is a point of pride for Cole.

“It's not like I'm looking to block shots,” Cole said. “It's something that happens out of desperation, when something breaks down.”

That's the Catch-22 for Cole. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan credits his players for buying into blocking shots and their willingness to sacrifice their bodies, yet he doesn't want them to be in position to have to rely upon that tactic too often in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Penguins spent the second half of Game 1 in a defensive shell. Washington fired away, taking 83 shots. The Penguins blocked 29.

“Depending on how you look at statistics, attempts are an indication of territory, where the game is being played,” Sullivan said. “It doesn't always tell the true picture of the game itself, and the quality of chances or whatever it may be.

“When you look at it from that standpoint, we don't want to spend as much time in our end zone as we have. We think we're at our best when we control territory. We certainly don't want to be in a situation where we defend that much in a period.”

The Capitals spent most of the third period in the Penguins end, which forced the defensemen to put their bodies on the line by blocking shots.

It's become an art form for Cole, who set a team record for blocked shots this season with 194.

“He really puts 100 percent of his body into the game,” Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta said. “He plays with intensity. It's awesome to see him put his body on the line. It fires you up.”

Even so, Cole views blocking shots as a last resort and hopes to avoid taking them in soft spots, where there is no padding or muscle to absorb the impact of the puck.

“You try to take away the angle and close the space,” Cole said. “You try to stay square and keep your pads in front of you and, hopefully, it hits your pads. You try to stay tight. You don't want to have a lot of holes. You don't want to come out with your legs wide. I tend to go down on one knee — that's just how I do it.

“There's a high desperation level come playoffs, and everybody's doing it. You don't want to force it. You don't want to try to dive in front of every shot, but if the opportunity arises, you want to try get a shot block.”

Sullivan credited Cole for bringing a different dimension to the Penguins' defensive corps, calling him a “steady, solid player” who can play on the penalty kill.

“He's a brave kid. He gets in shot lanes. He plays the game hard, and that's what we really respect about him,” Sullivan said. “He's not flashy by any stretch. But it's the simplicity of his game, the competitiveness to his game, that we like most.”

Better yet, one of Cole's blocked shots led to the go-ahead goal. Cole blocked a Nicklas Backstrom shot and then sent a stretch pass to Scott Wilson, who fed Nick Bonino on a breakaway for the winner.

So, for Cole, the blocked shots and the accompanyingbruises were well worth it.

“Getting the win,” he said, “makes it all feel better.”

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


Sheary trying to shake off playoff slump

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:54 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Two weeks ago, Conor Sheary was the poster child for everything that's right about Penguins hockey.

In Game 2 of a first-round series with Columbus, he flew in on the forecheck, harassed goalie Sergei Bobrovsky into a turnover and helped set up Jake Guentzel for an important goal.

It set the tone for the series.

Columbus has big, mean forwards who like to punish opponents on the forecheck. They might even gain a possession advantage because of their bulk. But the Penguins would fly in undetected, steal the bully's lunch money and make him cry.

It was an approach that carried the Penguins to a Stanley Cup 11 months prior, and it was working again.

Two weeks is an eternity on the playoff hockey calendar, however, and as the Penguins get ready for Game 2 of a second-round series with Washington on Saturday night, Sheary is in a much different place.

His assist on Guentzel's goal was one of only two points he has recorded in six playoff games. He has yet to score a goal.

When he's been on the ice at even strength in the postseason, the Penguins have been outshot 70-46 and outscored 8-4.

In other words, Sheary is in a slump, and it's a good one.

“If you're out there for a couple goals against, it might hurt you, especially confidence-wise,” Sheary said. “If you're giving up goals and not scoring any, it doesn't look good on your part.”

At the end of the Columbus series, coach Mike Sullivan dropped Sheary from the team's top line, inserting Patric Hornqvist in his place. At the time, Sullivan was able to soft-pedal the move.

Just want to get a different look on Sidney Crosby's wing. Sheary isn't scoring, but he's still playing well away from the puck. Nothing to see here.

But in Game 1 against Washington on Thursday night, the Capitals outshot the Penguins, 10-0, when Sheary was on the ice at even strength. When Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the tying goal on a wide-open shot from the left faceoff circle in the third period, Sheary was the closest defender to him.

Sullivan now has to acknowledge the obvious.

“Certainly, we know Conor has a much better game, and that's what we're trying to help him get to,” Sullivan said. “He's had a great year for us. He's played so much great hockey. He's scored big goals, and he's a competitive kid. It's our responsibility as his coaches to try to help him get to his game, and that's what we're trying to do. The last couple (games) I don't think have been his best.”

Sheary said he had a couple of nagging injuries that were giving him problems at the end of the regular season, but they're no longer an issue. Now, what he has to do is put into action his plan for getting back on track.

First, don't dwell.

“Everybody gets there. I've been there a lot this year,” said winger Scott Wilson, a close friend of Sheary. “I know some teams have guys that kind of shake the locker room when they're not doing well or not getting bounces. Shears has done a good job of just saying positive. He'll come out of it soon.”

Second, remember his core competencies.

“For the most part, I'm trying to stick to my things: speed and instincts and elusiveness and quickness,” Sheary said. “I'm trying to get back to that as much as I can and play in the offensive zone.”

Finally, look to past successes as a model for future gains.

After all, the good, old days were only two weeks ago.

“It is only a six-game slump. It's not forever,” Sheary said. “But I would like to dig myself out of it.”

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


Gorman: For Penguins' Cole, win worth the bruise

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:03 p.m.


WASHINGTON

Believe it or not, Ian Cole swears that he had only one bruise Friday, albeit a big one on the underside of his left forearm.

You would have expected Cole to be covered in black-and-blue marks after the Penguins defenseman blocked eight shots in the 3-2 victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

That it's as many as the Capitals had as a team is a point of pride for Cole.

“It's not like I'm looking to block shots,” Cole said. “It's something that happens out of desperation, when something breaks down.”

That's the Catch-22 for Cole. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan credits his players for buying into blocking shots and their willingness to sacrifice their bodies, yet he doesn't want them to be in position to have to rely upon that tactic too often in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Penguins spent the second half of Game 1 in a defensive shell. Washington fired away, taking 83 shots. The Penguins blocked 29.

“Depending on how you look at statistics, attempts are an indication of territory, where the game is being played,” Sullivan said. “It doesn't always tell the true picture of the game itself, and the quality of chances or whatever it may be.

“When you look at it from that standpoint, we don't want to spend as much time in our end zone as we have. We think we're at our best when we control territory. We certainly don't want to be in a situation where we defend that much in a period.”

The Capitals spent most of the third period in the Penguins end, which forced the defensemen to put their bodies on the line by blocking shots.

It's become an art form for Cole, who set a team record for blocked shots this season with 194.

“He really puts 100 percent of his body into the game,” Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta said. “He plays with intensity. It's awesome to see him put his body on the line. It fires you up.”

Even so, Cole views blocking shots as a last resort and hopes to avoid taking them in soft spots, where there is no padding or muscle to absorb the impact of the puck.

“You try to take away the angle and close the space,” Cole said. “You try to stay square and keep your pads in front of you and, hopefully, it hits your pads. You try to stay tight. You don't want to have a lot of holes. You don't want to come out with your legs wide. I tend to go down on one knee — that's just how I do it.

“There's a high desperation level come playoffs, and everybody's doing it. You don't want to force it. You don't want to try to dive in front of every shot, but if the opportunity arises, you want to try get a shot block.”

Sullivan credited Cole for bringing a different dimension to the Penguins' defensive corps, calling him a “steady, solid player” who can play on the penalty kill.

“He's a brave kid. He gets in shot lanes. He plays the game hard, and that's what we really respect about him,” Sullivan said. “He's not flashy by any stretch. But it's the simplicity of his game, the competitiveness to his game, that we like most.”

Better yet, one of Cole's blocked shots led to the go-ahead goal. Cole blocked a Nicklas Backstrom shot and then sent a stretch pass to Scott Wilson, who fed Nick Bonino on a breakaway for the winner.

So, for Cole, the blocked shots and the accompanyingbruises were well worth it.

“Getting the win,” he said, “makes it all feel better.”

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


Pitt football dismisses senior defensive tackle Taleni
Capitals not in panic mode after loss to Penguins in opener

By David Driver

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 5:39 p.m.


ARLINGTON, Va. — Aden Perry, a second-grader from nearby Rockville, Md., played hooky from school to watch hockey Friday.

Perry was at the Washington Capitals optional practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex just hours after he was in the stands to watch the Penguins take a 1-0 series lead with a 3-2 win on Thursday night at Verizon Center.

But Perry, 8, at Kettler with his father, Carlos, held a brown cardboard sign Friday that read: “I Know We Will Win.”

He certainly hopes the Capitals feel the same way as they host the Penguins on Saturday night in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series.

Washington has won just one playoff series in nine tries against the Penguins, but the Capitals are 10-6 all-time in the playoffs in Game 2 after losing the first game.

So how important is it to win this Game 2?

“It is huge,” Capitals forward Tom Wilson said. “The next game is the biggest game. Hopefully we will bounce back with a big win. We just have to be more focused for 60 minutes.”

The Capitals spent Friday pointing out they dominated many aspects of Game 1. But two goals in a span of 52 seconds by Sidney Crosby led to a win by the speedy Penguins on Thursday.

“They are a great team,” Capitals forward Jay Beagle said. “They are going to capitalize on some mistakes. We played a good game. (We) woke up. The sun is shining. It is one game.

“We gave it everything we had. We just have to make sure in Game 2 we come out with more desperation and make sure we go after them. You can't focus too hard on one (game), especially when it is over.”

The Capitals outhit the Penguins, 41-17, on Thursday. All seven Washington playoff games this spring have been decided by one goal.

“We can be better in a few areas,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “We are going to be better tomorrow. The things that we can control we can do better. All of those critical little details ... add up to things. That was the difference, that one minute (in the second period).”

The Penguins defeated the Capitals in six games in last season's playoffs. But Trotz dismissed a similar feeling to the 2016 exit.

“We are in a different place,” he said. “We feel we can still build on our game. We know we can do more. We are not backing off. I am excited about the rest of the series, for sure.”

Washington goalie Braden Holtby had 18 saves but allowed three goals Thursday.

“I thought he was fine,” Trotz said. “He didn't think he played as good as he could. He is a guy that responds. He is going to be better tomorrow. That is good for us.”

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had 33 saves, including several in a flurry in front of his net with about three minutes left in the third period with several bodies, one helmet and his stick on the ice.

Trotz still was shaking his head Friday afternoon, wondering how the puck didn't go in for his squad during that wild sequence.

“They are a really good team. I think we had some momentum in the third period,” Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom said. “We have to be more careful what we do with the puck and we should be fine.”

Notes: Trotz said the status of defenseman Karl Alzner is “the same.” He has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury … Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored one goal Thursday and has 11 goals in 14 career playoff games against the Penguins. ... Washington won its last two playoff series after losing Game 1.

David Driver is a freelance writer.


Three Periods: An inside look at the Penguins-Capitals series

By Bill West

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 5:51 p.m.


three periods

FIRST

twice as nice

Marc-Andre Fleury's feel-good story continued Thursday with his best road performance of the 2017 playoffs. He turned away 33 of 35 shots in the 3-2 win over Washington in Game 1.

That save percentage (.943) represented Fleury's best mark in a road win since his 35-save shutout of the New York Rangers on May 5, 2014. And it lengthened a list of superb away-game performances that stagnated for a number of years.

“His last couple flurries, shots through screens, things he was picking up, he was seeing the puck really well,” Chris Kunitz said of his teammate's Game 1 play. “We have to do a better job for him of not giving up those quality chances.”

Of Fleury's 11 postseason save percentages in a game that ranked better than Thursday's .943, seven came in 2008 and '09. Another two went to waste in losses to the Rangers in 2015.

A big test follows for Fleury: Can the veteran netminder do put together strong performances in consecutive appearances?

Not since 2011 has Fleury finished a two-game bundle on the road with save percentages above .900. That season, he turned away 25 of 27 in a 3-2 win at Tampa Bay in Game 3 and 29 of 31 in a 3-2 double-overtime win in Game 4.

second

Saints and skeptics

After the Penguins avoided short-handed scenarios and received two power plays in Game 1 on Thursday, Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen declined to comment on the officiating, and winger Alex Ovechkin called the night “weird” partially because of the host team's absence of man advantages.

Washington's reaction proved fairly reasonable as it became just the third Penguins opponent this season to finish a game without at least one power play opportunity. That likely irked the Capitals, owners of the NHL's fourth-best conversion percentage (22.98).

The last instance of a night with no penalty kills for the Penguins was Feb. 3 against Columbus. The Penguins received one power play that night. In the other instance, a Dec. 28 matchup with Carolina, neither team took a penalty.

Washington twice went a full game without a power play this season — both against Chicago.

third

restricted lanes

Even the NHL's best shooters sometimes bemoan the many layers of shot blockers that teams deploy in their defensive-zone schemes.

A strategic theme emerged in the Penguins' shot-blocking habits in Game 1: Washington's vaunted forwards — notably Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom — struggled to get pucks past skaters' bodies, while its blue-liners found more success in getting their shots to Fleury.

Defensemen Niskanen and John Carlson tallied five and four shots on goal, respectively, and only once did each of their shot attempts end up blocked. A total of 15 shots came from Washington's six blue-liners, and 20 came from the 12 forwards.

Ovechkin had three shots on goal and three attempts blocked. Kuznetsov finished with four shots and four attempts blocked. For Backstrom, the totals were three and two. And for Justin Williams, they were one and four.

Penguins defensemen accounted for 19 of the team's 29 blocked shots. Ian Cole led the way with eight.

Washington finished with eight blocked shots as a team, and only six of them denied Penguins forwards, who generated 17 of the team's 21 pucks on net.

overtime

persistent pucks

The Capitals' 83 shot attempts in Game 1 ranked as the team's fifth highest total in a regulation-length game since the start of the 2012-13 season.

The 3-2 loss despite the attempt output mirrored an outcome from the 2016 second-round series, when the Capitals tallied 85 attempts in a 3-2 loss to the Penguins in Game 3.

—Bill West


Gorman: For Penguins' Cole, win worth the bruise

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:03 p.m.


WASHINGTON

Believe it or not, Ian Cole swears that he had only one bruise Friday, albeit a big one on the underside of his left forearm.

You would have expected Cole to be covered in black-and-blue marks after the Penguins defenseman blocked eight shots in the 3-2 victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

That it's as many as the Capitals had as a team is a point of pride for Cole.

“It's not like I'm looking to block shots,” Cole said. “It's something that happens out of desperation, when something breaks down.”

That's the Catch-22 for Cole. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan credits his players for buying into blocking shots and their willingness to sacrifice their bodies, yet he doesn't want them to be in position to have to rely upon that tactic too often in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Penguins spent the second half of Game 1 in a defensive shell. Washington fired away, taking 83 shots. The Penguins blocked 29.

“Depending on how you look at statistics, attempts are an indication of territory, where the game is being played,” Sullivan said. “It doesn't always tell the true picture of the game itself, and the quality of chances or whatever it may be.

“When you look at it from that standpoint, we don't want to spend as much time in our end zone as we have. We think we're at our best when we control territory. We certainly don't want to be in a situation where we defend that much in a period.”

The Capitals spent most of the third period in the Penguins end, which forced the defensemen to put their bodies on the line by blocking shots.

It's become an art form for Cole, who set a team record for blocked shots this season with 194.

“He really puts 100 percent of his body into the game,” Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta said. “He plays with intensity. It's awesome to see him put his body on the line. It fires you up.”

Even so, Cole views blocking shots as a last resort and hopes to avoid taking them in soft spots, where there is no padding or muscle to absorb the impact of the puck.

“You try to take away the angle and close the space,” Cole said. “You try to stay square and keep your pads in front of you and, hopefully, it hits your pads. You try to stay tight. You don't want to have a lot of holes. You don't want to come out with your legs wide. I tend to go down on one knee — that's just how I do it.

“There's a high desperation level come playoffs, and everybody's doing it. You don't want to force it. You don't want to try to dive in front of every shot, but if the opportunity arises, you want to try get a shot block.”

Sullivan credited Cole for bringing a different dimension to the Penguins' defensive corps, calling him a “steady, solid player” who can play on the penalty kill.

“He's a brave kid. He gets in shot lanes. He plays the game hard, and that's what we really respect about him,” Sullivan said. “He's not flashy by any stretch. But it's the simplicity of his game, the competitiveness to his game, that we like most.”

Better yet, one of Cole's blocked shots led to the go-ahead goal. Cole blocked a Nicklas Backstrom shot and then sent a stretch pass to Scott Wilson, who fed Nick Bonino on a breakaway for the winner.

So, for Cole, the blocked shots and the accompanyingbruises were well worth it.

“Getting the win,” he said, “makes it all feel better.”

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


Steelers' top pick T.J. Watt overcomes injuries to follow brothers to NFL
Gorman's 5 thoughts on Steelers' first-round pick T.J. Watt

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:00 a.m.


1. Drafting for need?

After a season in which the Steelers played little brother to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, they drafted the younger brother of one of the NFL's best players.

The immediate reaction to their selection of T.J. Watt with the 30th pick of the NFL Draft Thursday night is that the Wisconsin outside linebacker fits the profile of pass rusher they so desperately need.

That's my concern, that the Steelers drafted for need instead of taking the best player available. Some scouts gave Watt, a converted tight end, a second-round grade.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert considered Watt a first-rounder, however, and he joins Jarvis Jones (2013), Ryan Shazier (2014) and Bud Dupree (2015) to become the fourth linebacker they drafted in the first round in the past five years.

Then again, the Steelers had the 30th pick and watched players they supposedly coveted, like Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey, Missouri outside linebacker Charles Harris, Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, UCLA defensive end Takk McKinley and Miami tight end David Njoku drafted before them.

Watt only needs to be an upgrade over Jones, the bust he's replacing.

2. It's in the family

As far as little brothers go, J.J. Watt said his brother is “further along than I was.”

Consider that the Texans star defensive end is a four-time, first-team All-Pro and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and that's quite the compliment.

Even better are T.J. Watt's NFL Scouting Combine statistics. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.69 seconds, his 20-yard shuttle of 4.13 seconds was fastest among linebackers, ranked in the top 10 of all players and the top 10 of all linebackers the past five years. T.J. matched J.J.'s 37-inch vertical leap, bettered his broad jump (10-8 to 10-0) and had similar hand and arm measurements.

Difference is, J.J. Watt weighed 292 pounds to T.J.'s 252, and bench-pressed 225 pounds for 34 repetitions to T.J.'s 21.

But if J.J. Watt is proof of his brother's untapped potential, consider that he had 11.5 sacks in two seasons at Wisconsin and has 76 in six NFL seasons.

T.J. Watt had 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in his lone season as a defensive starter for the Badgers.

Then again, Jones had 45.5 TFL and 28 sacks in two seasons at Georgia. If you want to compare T.J. Watt and Jones, look at their bench press (Watt 21, Jones 20) and 40 times (Watt 4.69, Jones 4.92). The knock on Jones with the Steelers was more his strength than speed.

3. Passing on Foster

What had me scratching my head was the player the Steelers passed on to take Watt.

San Francisco traded a fourth-rounder to Seattle move into the 31st pick so it could select Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster.

Afterward, 49ers general manager John Lynch said that he got two of the top three players on his board in No. 3 overall pick Soloman Thomas, the defensive end from Stanford, and Foster.

That's how highly Foster was regarded. Of course, he hurt his draft stock by testing positive for a diluted sample at the combine and getting involved in an argument with a hospital worker at his medical check.

The Steelers have a pressing need at inside linebacker after allowing Lawrence Timmons to sign with Miami and whiffing on free agent Dont'a Hightower.

Character matters more than ever with the Steelers, especially after losing Martavis Bryant to a season-long suspension and Le'Veon Bell to a three-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

That made Watt a safe pick for the Steelers. We'll find out whether it's a smart one.

4. Running the North

The Steelers watched their AFC North Division rivals improve in important ways.

The Browns had three first-round picks, taking Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett first overall and adding the versatile Peppers at safety and Njoku at tight end.

Still, it's hard to believe the Browns passed on quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson when they return only Brock Osweiler and Cody Keller at the position.

The Bengals drafted wide receiver John Ross of Washington, who recorded the fastest 40 time in combine history, at 4.22 seconds. He joins a receiving corps that features A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd.

And the Ravens chose the cornerback Humphrey, adding to a secondary that signed safety Tony Jefferson and cornerback Brandon Carr in the off-season.

Which brings us to...

5. Steelers next picks?

The Steelers still have some holes to fill, and they have the 30th pick of the second round (62nd overall) and the 30th and 41st of the third round (94th and 105th overall) to address them.

Primary positions to address should be cornerback, tight end, safety, running back and defensive end.

Here are the question marks: The Steelers watched Will Gay lose a step but don't know if Senquez Golson, after missing two seasons with injury, can finally contribute as a slot corner.

Ladarius Green's status remains unclear, but the Steelers don't seem comfortable with Jesse James as the starter at tight end.

DeAngelo Williams likely won't be back, so there is a need for a backup to Bell at tailback.

The starters at safety should be Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis but their backups are an issue.

And when Cam Heyward went down with a midseason injury, it exposed the Steelers' lack of depth at defensive end.

But they got the pass rusher they wanted in Watt, and that's a strong start.

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


NFL commissioner says marijuana is 'addictive' and unhealthy for players

By Ben Schmitt

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:42 a.m.


A week after a medical marijuana conference brought former football players to Pittsburgh to advocate the benefits of cannabis use in controlling pain, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proclaimed on a sports talk show that the drug is addictive and unhealthy for players.

“It does have an addictive nature,” Goodell said Friday on the ESPN show Mike & Mike. “There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered. And it's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren't something that is something that we'll be held accountable for some years down the road.”

Last weekend's World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo at Downtown's David L. Lawrence Convention Center brought the likes of former Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL running back Ricky Williams to push pro-pot agendas.

While NFL players are allowed to take heavy prescription drugs, like opioids, for pain, marijuana remains a banned substance.

“If you get in the drug program and you get in trouble, it's so punitive,” Williams told the Tribune-Review when discussing NFL drug policies. “Players aren't getting help. They are only getting punished for something that I think we can at least make the argument is probably healthier than opioids and prescription drugs that players are taking.”

Whether marijuana is addictive has been debated among experts and users for decades.

Goodell acknowledged Friday that medical marijuana use is on the rise.

“We look at it from a medical standpoint,” Goodell said. “So if people feel that it has a medical benefit, the medical advisers have to tell you that. We have joint advisers, we also have independent advisers, both the (NFL Players Association) and the NFL, and we'll sit down and talk about that. But we've been studying that through our advisers. To date, they haven't said this is a change we think you should make that's in the best interests of the health and safety of our players. If they do, we're certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven't really said that.”

Dr. Bryan Doner, a co-founder of the medical marijuana consulting company Compassionate Certification Centers, helped organize last week's conference in Pittsburgh. He said he found some of Goodell's remarks hypocritical.

“We know for a fact that some of the current treatments used in treating NFL and other athletes, such as opiates and (anti-inflammatory drugs), can absolutely have undeniable and devastating long-term consequences,” Doner said. “At our recent convention, we had a number of former NFL athletes state this in no uncertain terms. If the treatment options the NFL is currently using and endorsing have known, well-documented, long-term negative consequences, is it fair or appropriate to leave those unaddressed while applying this to medical cannabis? The answer to me seems to be a very clear no, and in fact hypocritical.”

Medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is now legal and will be available in 2018 in pills, oils, tinctures or ointments.

Under state law, patients — after consulting with doctors — can apply for a state-issued medical marijuana card if a doctor certifies that they have one of 17 qualified medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com. Reach him on twitter at @bencschmitt.


Steelers take Wisconsin LB Watt with first-round pick in draft

By Joe Rutter

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:45 p.m.


The Steelers not only got a pass rusher in the first round of the NFL Draft, they picked someone with strong defensive bloodlines.

Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt, younger brother of three-time NFL defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, was chosen by the Steelers with the No. 30 overall pick.

Watt (6-foot-4, 252 pounds) was a one-year starter at linebacker at Wisconsin after beginning his college career as a tight end before missing his second season with a right knee injury. Healthy as a junior, Watt had 63 tackles (15 12 for a loss) and 11 12 sacks. He was named first-team All-Big Ten and second-team AP All-American.

Watt, 22, thinks his relative experience on defense can work to his advantage.

“That's my selling point,” he said, noting he has spent only 18 months on defense. “I truly am scratching the surface on what I can do, and I feel like the sky is the limit on what I can do on the football field.”

Watt and his oldest brother — another brother, Derek, is a fullback for the Los Angeles Chargers — will be reacquainted on Christmas Day in Houston when the Steelers play the Texans.

“It will be weird to be on the same field as J.J. in shoulder pads,” Watt said. “I was just thinking about that. I've played with him in the back yard a bunch, I've seen him play a bunch but I've never been on the same field in full uniform competitively before.

“It will be a really cool and weird day for me.”

Before announcing Watt as the pick, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell paid tribute to late Steelers chairman Dan Rooney. Hall of Fame running backs Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis were brought to the podium and also paid respects to Rooney.

The Steelers had a need at outside linebacker with James Harrison turning 39 next week and former first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones unable to hold down the starting job before leaving via free agency.

Harrison and 2015 first-rounder Bud Dupree will enter the season as the starters, with Arthur Moats and Anthony Chickillo as backups.

Add Watt to that mix.

“We don't even think he's the complete product at this point,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said, “and we are excited about where he can go.”

Former Pitt football coach Paul Chryst, shortly after returning to his roots at Wisconsin, convinced Watt to switch from tight end to defense. Watt was a backup in 2015, then moved into the starting lineup as a junior.

“It took all of 12 hours, if that,” Watt said when asked how long it took him to buy into the switch. “I went home, thought about it, came back and told coach I want to play defense.”

Chryst also had a hand in navigating Watt toward the Steelers. Colbert said he had scouted Watt during a game last season, and he received a text message from Chryst after the season was complete.

Chryst wanted Colbert to evaluate Watt's draft status. Watt was considering declaring for the draft after his junior season.

“I looked at the tape on him and said, ‘Coach, this kid is a first-round pick,' ” Colbert said.

The Steelers visited with Watt at the NFL Combine and took him to dinner the night before Wisconsin's pro day. In attendance at dinner were Chryst, Colbert, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and linebackers coach Joey Porter. They arrived in Madison after visiting with free-agent linebacker Dont'a Hightower earlier in the day.

Pass rushers Derek Barnett, Charles Harris and Takk McKinley were off the draft board Thursday before the Steelers' turn arrived. They acted quickly to select Watt.

“He's worthy of the pick but, boy, we are excited about the potential upside and growth given the short length of time he's played the position,” Tomlin said.

Watt had an idea the Steelers might draft him, particularly when the Green Bay Packers ­— picking at No. 29 — traded down.

“I knew schematically it was a great fit for me,” Watt said of the Steelers. “That's why I was intrigued by them so much.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.


Steelers draft profile: Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt
Indianapolis Colts select New Castle's Hooker

By Jerry DiPaola

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 10:03 p.m.


Malik Hooker could have bathed in ESPN's bright lights in Philadelphia on Thursday night when the Indianapolis Colts picked him 15th overall in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Instead, he was seated among family and friends at the Villa Banquet Center on New Butler Road in New Castle, his hometown. He had an official invitation from the NFL for its draft-night festivities, but he chose to stay home.

“That's his personality,” New Castle basketball coach Ralph Blundo said. “He doesn't need the limelight to feel good.”

“He wanted to be around friends and family,” said his mother Angela, who was in Philadelphia this week for a mother-son spa day, courtesy of the NFL.

Hooker is the first New Castle graduate to be drafted since Penn State defensive end Bruce Clark went to the Green Bay Packers fourth overall in 1980.

Hooker started at safety for Ohio State for only one season (2016). At New Castle, he skipped football as a freshman and sophomore before coach Joe Cowart was hired before Hooker's junior season.

Cowart started recruiting Hooker immediately.

“You put all the recruiters in the hallways you can get,” Cowart said. “Every assistant coach, every teacher, everyone of his buddies, you say, ‘Get in his ear and tell him he has to come out for football.' I had him in class. I wore him out every day.”

Despite his relative inexperience, he will bring unusual athleticism to the Colts, Buckeyes associate head coach/defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said.

“He's a rare talent,” Schiano said. “I had the opportunity to coach (former Baltimore Ravens safety) Ed Reed (at the University of Miami), and he's the only other guy who I've ever been around that has that kind of range. Malik can cover a great deal of distance and has great anticipation. He'll be a great NFL safety.”

Hooker was credited with seven interceptions last season, three that he returned for real touchdowns. Schiano insists Hooker scored four times.

“One got called back (by a penalty),” he said.

Hooker was named a first-team All-American by nine organizations, including the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America and Walter Camp.

Three days ago, he signed with Jordan Brand to help promote Michael Jordan's line of sports gear and apparel.

Which is only natural considering his basketball background.

“Football is my future and entrenched in my heart,” he said, “but as a child I always had basketball on my mind. Growing up as a two-sport athlete, I wanted to be like Mike.”

Blundo said Hooker “definitely” could have played basketball at a mid-major college level if he had pursued it. New Castle was 87-2 and won three WPIAL championships and one PIAA title while Hooker was on the team.

“He was a freakish athlete,” he said. “Very, very intelligent on the floor. Malik was the best player on the floor, night-in and night-out. It didn't matter if we were playing (Pennsylvania power) Lower Merion or teams from Philadelphia. He always played his best games against the best teams and best players.

“He chose football because that was where his upside was in terms of his career after college.”

Asked about the night Hooker scored 36 points against Pine-Richland, Blundo said, “He had plenty of games like that.”

Seneca Valley coach Victor Giannotta, whose team played several games against New Castle, appreciated something else about Hooker.

“He played hard and tough and never talked trash,” he said.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.


Live at Steelers draft headquarters: Steelers get their man in OLB Watt

By Chris Adamski

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 7:54 p.m.


Greetings. It's the final Thursday in April. In recent years, that's typically meant what is something of a holiday for the hardcore football fan – the beginning of the NFL's Annual Selection Meeting.

Otherwise known as the NFL Draft.


Analysis: If top-pass rushers are gone, expect Steelers to pick 'Bama cornerback

By Joe Rutter

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 8:09 p.m.


Will it be the converted defensive end or the standard two-point stance outside linebacker who is chosen with the No. 30 overall pick?

Or perhaps it will be the cornerback who excels in press coverage that hears his name called late Thursday night by the Steelers.

Don't like those options? Then, maybe it will be a wide receiver who gets chosen in the first round for the first time since Santonio Holmes in 2006.

Or maybe the Steelers think it's time to start developing Ben Roethlisberger's successor and will make the surprise pick of a quarterback in the first round.

Trade up? Trade down? Those also are possibilities.

The only thing that's certain is nobody really knows who is going to available when the Steelers step to the podium after 29 other choices are made Thursday.

Certainly not the so-called national draft experts, who have pegged everyone from A (Adoree' Jackson) to Z (Zay Jones) —­ and about a dozen other prospects in between ­— as the Steelers' top choice.

And likely not even the folks occupying the war room at 3400 South Water St. General manager Kevin Colbert called this draft class the most unpredictable in recent memory thanks to an inconsistently graded quarterback class that could trigger trades up and down the board.

The only certainty is one of the top 30 players graded by the Steelers scouting department will be available when it's their turn.

“We know we are going to get a player,” Colbert said. “So we will just be prepared to take them in the order we like them.”

And that could be either a pass-rusher, cornerback, wide receiver and, yes, quarterback at No. 30. Heck, safety (Jabrill Peppers) and tight end (Evan Engram) aren't out of the equation if you believe certain mock drafts.

To zero in on the greatest position of need, it might be best to heed the words of Steelers president Art Rooney in late January.

Speaking about a week after Tom Brady passed for 384 yards in the New England Patriots' 36-17 win that kept the Steelers out of the Super Bowl, Rooney said “getting pressure on the quarterback more consistently is something that we strive to do.”

A pass rusher cut from a different mold than Jarvis Jones would go a long way toward helping the Steelers accomplish that goal. NFL Network's well-regarded draft analyst Mike Mayock, a former Steelers draft pick and NFL player, said he expects one of Tennessee's Derek Barnett, UCLA's Takk McKinley and Missouri's Charles Harris to be available to the Steelers.

However, other national draftniks have all three players being gobbled up before the 30th pick. A run of outside linebackers could result in the Steelers turning to cornerback — or even offense.

In late January, Rooney also said the Steelers needed to be “better in the red zone.” Suspended wide receiver Martavis Bryant is back on a conditional basis, yet the Steelers could find, say, NFL Combine 40-yard dash record-holder John Ross available late in the first round. It could be too tempting to pass up.

Then, there's the unlikely chance a quarterback they fancy tumbles to the end of the round. There's no national consensus on the pecking order among Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and DeShone Kizer after Mitchell Trubisky comes off the board.

“We can guess as to when somebody might take them,” Colbert said. “But it really doesn't affect us. We just have to decide when we would take them in comparison to who (takes them).”

The safe bet for those trying to decide which position the Steelers will address is to start with defense. They have taken a defensive player in the first round for four consecutive seasons. Last year, five of the seven picks were defensive players. In 2015, it was six of eight.

That doesn't mean the Steelers will ignore offense, particularly skill position players. They will draft those players, but likely Friday and Saturday.

The guess here is the Steelers will hope a pass rusher falls to them at No. 30, but the ones they covet will already be gone.

That leaves them with a cornerback, one who can play man-to-man defense.

And if he's not already gone, that player will be Alabama's Marlon Humphrey.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.


Sheary trying to shake off playoff slump
Gorman: For Penguins' Cole, win worth the bruise

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:03 p.m.


WASHINGTON

Believe it or not, Ian Cole swears that he had only one bruise Friday, albeit a big one on the underside of his left forearm.

You would have expected Cole to be covered in black-and-blue marks after the Penguins defenseman blocked eight shots in the 3-2 victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

That it's as many as the Capitals had as a team is a point of pride for Cole.

“It's not like I'm looking to block shots,” Cole said. “It's something that happens out of desperation, when something breaks down.”

That's the Catch-22 for Cole. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan credits his players for buying into blocking shots and their willingness to sacrifice their bodies, yet he doesn't want them to be in position to have to rely upon that tactic too often in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Penguins spent the second half of Game 1 in a defensive shell. Washington fired away, taking 83 shots. The Penguins blocked 29.

“Depending on how you look at statistics, attempts are an indication of territory, where the game is being played,” Sullivan said. “It doesn't always tell the true picture of the game itself, and the quality of chances or whatever it may be.

“When you look at it from that standpoint, we don't want to spend as much time in our end zone as we have. We think we're at our best when we control territory. We certainly don't want to be in a situation where we defend that much in a period.”

The Capitals spent most of the third period in the Penguins end, which forced the defensemen to put their bodies on the line by blocking shots.

It's become an art form for Cole, who set a team record for blocked shots this season with 194.

“He really puts 100 percent of his body into the game,” Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta said. “He plays with intensity. It's awesome to see him put his body on the line. It fires you up.”

Even so, Cole views blocking shots as a last resort and hopes to avoid taking them in soft spots, where there is no padding or muscle to absorb the impact of the puck.

“You try to take away the angle and close the space,” Cole said. “You try to stay square and keep your pads in front of you and, hopefully, it hits your pads. You try to stay tight. You don't want to have a lot of holes. You don't want to come out with your legs wide. I tend to go down on one knee — that's just how I do it.

“There's a high desperation level come playoffs, and everybody's doing it. You don't want to force it. You don't want to try to dive in front of every shot, but if the opportunity arises, you want to try get a shot block.”

Sullivan credited Cole for bringing a different dimension to the Penguins' defensive corps, calling him a “steady, solid player” who can play on the penalty kill.

“He's a brave kid. He gets in shot lanes. He plays the game hard, and that's what we really respect about him,” Sullivan said. “He's not flashy by any stretch. But it's the simplicity of his game, the competitiveness to his game, that we like most.”

Better yet, one of Cole's blocked shots led to the go-ahead goal. Cole blocked a Nicklas Backstrom shot and then sent a stretch pass to Scott Wilson, who fed Nick Bonino on a breakaway for the winner.

So, for Cole, the blocked shots and the accompanyingbruises were well worth it.

“Getting the win,” he said, “makes it all feel better.”

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


Penguins notebook: Lineup decisions near as Hagelin closes in on return

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 3:12 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Carl Hagelin took a significant step forward in the laborious process of returning to the Penguins lineup Friday morning, taking part in a full-contact practice and working with regular personnel groups.

Hagelin, who has been out since March 10 with a lower-body injury, skated in drills on a line with center Evgeni Malkin and right wing Phil Kessel and took his place among the penalty killers during special teams work.

Coach Mike Sullivan said Hagelin will be a game-time decision when the Penguins take on the Washington Capitals in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series Saturday night.

Sullivan also said Hagelin is the type of player who could make a significant impact on a series upon his return.

“His skill sets certainly lend to the type of game we're trying to play,” he said. “Regardless of what line you put him on, he brings that element of speed, his ability to stretch the ice. His pursuit game forces turnovers all the time, and we create a lot of offense off if it.”

Hagelin stopped short of declaring himself ready to go for Game 2, saying it was a day-to-day process. He did have an idea of how he plans to play once he is given the green light.

“Simple. Make all the simple plays,” Hagelin said. “Get pucks deep and try to use my speed. Timing and stuff is going to be hard, but I think, for me, once I get back out there, I want to use my speed and try to play smart.”

If Hagelin returns, Sullivan will have to pick a winger to scratch in his place. Tom Kuhnhackl is the most likely candidate. Scott Wilson or the slumping Conor Sheary would be other options.

“We feel like we have depth to our organization,” Sullivan said. “These are difficult decisions we have to make, but they're good decisions. The healthier we get, the more difficult those decisions become.”

Maintenance men

Winger Patric Hornqvist and defenseman Brian Dumoulin and Trevor Daley did not practice Friday, taking the day off for maintenance, Sullivan said.

Daley is coming off knee surgery and regularly has skipped optional skates so far this postseason. Hornqvist has been packed in ice after games, so he likely is dealing with a variety of bumps and bruises.

Dumoulin's status, however, might be a little murkier. He didn't take a shift in the final two minutes of Game 2, and the NBC Sports broadcast said he headed to the locker room early.

Lining up

If Hagelin and Hornqvist play Saturday night, the Penguins will have to make some alterations to their line combinations. Most notably, they'll have to find a spot for winger Bryan Rust.

If Hagelin plays with Malkin and Kessel, Rust would be displaced from his regular spot. He skated on the top line with Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby at Friday's practice, but there was a vacancy on that line only because of Hornqvist's absence.

Solid return

Playing his first game since March 31 because of a lower-body injury, veteran winger Chris Kunitz made a solid return to the lineup in Game 1.

Playing about 13 minutes on the fourth line, he led the team with four hits and was tied for second with three shots on goal.

“What he brings to this team is his energy, his physical play, his edge, his compete level,” Sullivan said. “All of those things, we think, separate him from others. He's a quality player, and I know his teammates have a lot of respect for his game.”

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


Penguins' Bonino meets close friend Capitals' Shattenkirk in playoffs for 1st time

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:54 p.m.


WASHINGTON – From the perspective of Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, there was a lot to hate about the third-period goal Penguins center Nick Bonino scored Thursday night.

In the big picture, it essentially won the game for the Penguins, giving them a 3-2 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series.

On top of that, Shattenkirk was on the ice for the goal. He was a step or two too far away from Scott Wilson to prevent the Penguins winger from making the centering pass that sent Bonino in on net.

Worst of all, though, is the fact that he's probably never going to hear the end of it.

Shattenkirk and Bonino are the best of friends, classmates at Boston University who hit it off immediately after arriving on campus as freshmen in 2007. They were roommates for their entire college careers. Shattenkirk was the best man at Bonino's wedding.

They'll see each other regularly back home over the summer, and Shattenkirk has no doubt Bonino will make the goal a topic of conversation at some point.

“It kind of ticked me off even more that it was him,” Shattenkirk said. “He's someone I have to see later on in the summer. I have to hear about that. You have to give him credit. He's a performer in the playoffs and another guy on their team we have to worry about.”

Shattenkirk is sure Bonino will needle him about the goal because of the nature of their relationship. From Day 1, it's been about friendly competition.

“I also know that he's an extremely competitive person,” Shattenkirk said. “We've battled for years in many different ways. In practices, on the golf course. There's plenty of ways we've gone against each other, and we always want to beat each other.”

Not unexpectedly, then, when Shattenkirk said he's the better golfer of the two, Bonino scoffed.

“No,” Bonino said. “Not even close.”

The series is the first time Bonino and Shattenkirk have squared off in a postseason setting.

Bonino said he thought it might happen in the Stanley Cup Final last season. Shattenkirk and the St. Louis Blues were taking on San Jose in the Western Conference finals while the Penguins were facing Tampa Bay in the East.

The Sharks won the series, of course, delaying the matchup until Shattenkirk was dealt to the Capitals at this season's trade deadline.

“I think it was inevitable that we'd meet eventually,” Bonino said. “It being the Pens' biggest rival, it definitely makes it a little bit interesting. We're both going to play our game and then talk about it afterward.”

Perhaps when that conversation takes place, Bonino will brag a little more about the goal he scored Thursday night. On Friday afternoon, though, he sounded almost apologetic about delivering such a dramatic blow to a good friend's psyche.

Almost.

“It's a weird feeling playing against someone you're that close with,” said Bonino, who noted that he and Shattenkirk decided not to talk while the series is ongoing. “Even though he's on the other team, it's never good seeing your buddies feeling like that. If there's ever a circumstance where it's OK, that was it.”

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


Three Periods: An inside look at the Penguins-Capitals series
Capitals not in panic mode after loss to Penguins in opener

By David Driver

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 5:39 p.m.


ARLINGTON, Va. — Aden Perry, a second-grader from nearby Rockville, Md., played hooky from school to watch hockey Friday.

Perry was at the Washington Capitals optional practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex just hours after he was in the stands to watch the Penguins take a 1-0 series lead with a 3-2 win on Thursday night at Verizon Center.

But Perry, 8, at Kettler with his father, Carlos, held a brown cardboard sign Friday that read: “I Know We Will Win.”

He certainly hopes the Capitals feel the same way as they host the Penguins on Saturday night in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series.

Washington has won just one playoff series in nine tries against the Penguins, but the Capitals are 10-6 all-time in the playoffs in Game 2 after losing the first game.

So how important is it to win this Game 2?

“It is huge,” Capitals forward Tom Wilson said. “The next game is the biggest game. Hopefully we will bounce back with a big win. We just have to be more focused for 60 minutes.”

The Capitals spent Friday pointing out they dominated many aspects of Game 1. But two goals in a span of 52 seconds by Sidney Crosby led to a win by the speedy Penguins on Thursday.

“They are a great team,” Capitals forward Jay Beagle said. “They are going to capitalize on some mistakes. We played a good game. (We) woke up. The sun is shining. It is one game.

“We gave it everything we had. We just have to make sure in Game 2 we come out with more desperation and make sure we go after them. You can't focus too hard on one (game), especially when it is over.”

The Capitals outhit the Penguins, 41-17, on Thursday. All seven Washington playoff games this spring have been decided by one goal.

“We can be better in a few areas,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “We are going to be better tomorrow. The things that we can control we can do better. All of those critical little details ... add up to things. That was the difference, that one minute (in the second period).”

The Penguins defeated the Capitals in six games in last season's playoffs. But Trotz dismissed a similar feeling to the 2016 exit.

“We are in a different place,” he said. “We feel we can still build on our game. We know we can do more. We are not backing off. I am excited about the rest of the series, for sure.”

Washington goalie Braden Holtby had 18 saves but allowed three goals Thursday.

“I thought he was fine,” Trotz said. “He didn't think he played as good as he could. He is a guy that responds. He is going to be better tomorrow. That is good for us.”

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had 33 saves, including several in a flurry in front of his net with about three minutes left in the third period with several bodies, one helmet and his stick on the ice.

Trotz still was shaking his head Friday afternoon, wondering how the puck didn't go in for his squad during that wild sequence.

“They are a really good team. I think we had some momentum in the third period,” Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom said. “We have to be more careful what we do with the puck and we should be fine.”

Notes: Trotz said the status of defenseman Karl Alzner is “the same.” He has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury … Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored one goal Thursday and has 11 goals in 14 career playoff games against the Penguins. ... Washington won its last two playoff series after losing Game 1.

David Driver is a freelance writer.


Chipped Ice A.M.: The beat goes on for Crosby against Caps

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 7:09 a.m.


Editor's note: Visit triblive.com for the Chipped Ice A.M. report every morning the Penguins play or practice throughout their series with the Capitals.

WASHINGTON – Before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby was asked his impression of Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel, who led the league with five goals in the first round of the playoffs.

With all due respect, Holtby said he had bigger worries than Guentzel when Guentzel was on the ice.

“It's been a trend for years. If you're playing with (Sidney Crosby), you're usually going to get some pretty good looks. We know that,” Holtby said. “We know still the heartbeat of that line is Sid.”

It was beating loud and clear Thursday night.

Crosby scored a pair of goals 52 seconds apart early in the second period, leading the Penguins to a 3-2 victory.

The first goal was on a two-on-one with Guentzel 12 seconds into the period.

“Sid does that slap shot that kind of flicks its toe at the end and goes the opposite way,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “I just didn't keep my glove in the right position.”

After the goal, Crosby's line went to the bench. Following a brief shift by Evgeni Malkin's line, coach Mike Sullivan went right back to Crosby.

“Sometimes if we juggle a little bit, it gives us an opportunity to get what we think might be an advantageous matchup,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “It doesn't always happen on the road. It was an opportunity I thought we had to try to build on the momentum we had with the goal.”

It worked wonders. Holtby dropped an Olli Maatta point shot, allowing Patric Hornqvist to bump a pass over to Crosby at the bottom of the right faceoff circle.

“The first two shifts in the second period, they got two preventable goals,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “We've got to manage the puck. They're got some very high-talented guys that can stretch the zone. If you give them a loose puck, they can create some stuff.”

It's probably not accurate to call the two-goal effort a bounce-back performance for Crosby. After all, in the first round of the playoffs, he had two goals and seven points as the Penguins finished off the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games.

But he was staring at a couple of unpleasant statistics coming into Thursday's game.

For one thing, the Penguins were outscored 8-3 when Crosby was on the ice at even strength in the Columbus series. For another, he had no goals and two assists in a six-game playoff series with the Capitals last season.

He ended both those slumps in one 52-second flurry.

“It's just making sure we make good plays and if those opportunities present themselves, then great,” Crosby said. “I don't think we need to chase them. If they're there, we make the plays and execute, but we don't have to cheat. I thought we did a good job of that.”

After Crosby's goals, the Capitals had an answer. Before the second period was over, Alex Ovechkin ripped a blazing wrister past Marc-Andre Fleury's blocker to cut the Penguins lead to 2-1.

The series was billed as another matchup between the game's two greatest superstars.

Thursday's events will do nothing to tamp down that kind of talk the rest of the way.

“I know both athletes,” said Trotz, who coached Crosby at the World Cup last September. “They're both driven. I don't think they're driven by the other guy's success or whatever. They're driven athletes. That's why they're in the top 100 in the history of this league. They're the faces of both franchises.

“You could say in a lot of ways they saved our game when they first came into the league from lockouts and what have you. They're special athletes, both those guys. They look for those big moments and they capitalize on those moments. They're special players.”

THE SERIES: Penguins lead, 1-0

LAST GAME: Nick Bonino's third-period goal gave the Penguins a 3-2 win in Game 1 Thursday night.

NEXT GAME: The teams square off again in Washington in Game 2 Saturday night. The Capitals didn't lose back-to-back home games all season.

A NOTE: The Penguins' third line of Scott Wilson, Bonino and Conor Sheary was dominated from a shot-stats perspective in Game 1. When Bonino was on the ice at even strength, the Capitals had a 21-2 shot-attempt advantage. One of the two shots the Penguins attempted, however, turned out to be the game-winning goal.

A QUOTE: “It was kind of a weird game. No penalties against us on our side. Sometimes (stuff) happens. You just have to fight through it, put a puck in.” –Ovechkin

A NUMBER: 8 – blocked shots for Ian Cole in Game 1, the same total as the entire Washington team combined.

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


Bonino's tiebreaking goal helps Penguins escape Capitals with 3-2 win in Game 1

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 10:30 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Last season, Nick Bonino drove the final nail into the Washington Capitals, scoring the overtime winner for the Penguins in a clinching Game 6 of a second-round series.

On Thursday night, he was hammering again.

Bonino broke a third-period tie with his second goal of the playoffs, leading the Penguins to a 3-2 victory in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinals series.

Game 2 will be played Saturday night in Washington.

“It's big,” Bonino said. “We lost (Game 1) last year. We know you're behind the 8 ball when that happens. To steal a game in their rink and effectively get home ice back in the series, that's huge.”

Bonino's goal came after the Capitals rallied back from two goals down to forge a 2-2 tie.

The play was a perfect example of the bedrock principle the Penguins used to claim the Stanley Cup last season — speed, in all its forms, turning a puck in the defensive zone into a scoring chance in no time flat.

The play started when Justin Schultz gathered a puck behind his own net and quickly passed to his defense partner, Ian Cole, in the corner.

While that was going on, Bonino and winger Scott Wilson saw their teammates had control of the puck, cut off their forechecking routes and headed back up the ice.

Cole zipped a 110-foot pass up the boards to Wilson at the far blue line. Wilson quickly dished to the middle of the ice, where Bonino was charging to the net. He picked up the puck and beat goalie Braden Holtby to the blocker side.

“I haven't had a breakaway in I don't know how long,” Bonino said. “I just tried to get it on net, and it found a hole there.”

No one in the locker room seemed surprised Bonino played the hero. In last season's playoffs, he was a legitimate Conn Smythe Trophy contender with 18 points in 24 games.

“I just think Bones is a guy that's a high-stakes player,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He brings his best game when the games are most important.”

Another player who fits that description, of course, is Sidney Crosby.

In dramatic fashion, Crosby made sure the Penguins wouldn't be plagued by the slow starts that hurt them in the Columbus series by scoring two goals in a span of 52 seconds in the opening moments of the second period.

On his first shift of the period, he finished off a pass from Jake Guentzel on a two-on-one. On his second shift, Patric Hornqvist corralled the rebound of an Olli Maatta point shot and shuffled it over to Crosby in the right faceoff circle for a goal.

“That's how it goes sometimes,” Crosby said. “You don't get some for a while and then they come in bunches.”

After the Penguins took a 2-0 lead, the Capitals fired back with a vengeance.

Alex Ovechkin scored late in the second period, counter-attacking after a big hit by Washington defenseman John Carlson on Evgeni Malkin. Former Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen found a wide-open Evgeny Kuznetsov on the left wing for the tying goal eight minutes into the third.

By the time the game was over, the Capitals had an 83-41 edge in shot attempts.

“Listen, Washington's a real good hockey team,” Sullivan said. “They've got real good players. This is two good teams going at it. There are going to be times where they come at us. There are going to be times we come at them. That's what we expect.”

Washington's surge culminated in a wild scramble, fueled by Ovechkin and Carlson, in front of Marc-Andre Fleury with three minutes left in the game. Somehow, the puck stayed out of the net.

“I couldn't find it. I couldn't see it. My stick flew somewhere,” Fleury said. “A couple of times, it popped out of the pile. I tried to put a pad on it. It was fun. It was a fun way to come out on top.”

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


Fleury's scrambling saves during late scrum secure Penguins victory
Gorman: Hornqvist helps Penguins set tone against Capitals

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 12:12 a.m.


WASHINGTON

This was about setting the tone for their Eastern Conference semifinal, what Penguins coach Mike Sullivan calls putting their best game on the ice.

The plan for Game 1 against the Washington Capitals was simply to play hard and to compete, then react and respond.

The Penguins did just that in their 3-2 victory over the Capitals Thursday night at Verizon Center, thanks to the impact of Patric Hornqvist.

After sluggish first periods in the first-round series against Columbus, Sullivan shifted his starting lineup to get more aggressive.

Sullivan stayed with a move he made midway through Game 5 against the Blue Jackets, playing Hornqvist on the right wing of Sidney Crosby in place of Conor Sheary, and it paid off with two goals in the first 1 minute, 4 seconds of the second period.

“You know how he plays and the energy he brings,” Crosby said of Hornqvist. “This time of year, with how physical he is and how hard he goes to the net, he's going to create something, whether it's for himself or somebody else. He had some chances. He had some great passes. He's physical. He plays with a ton of intensity and a ton of energy. He's a big part of our team. It's important to have guys like that that can create so much different ways.”

Not only do the Penguins have a healthy respect for Hornqvist's hard-nosed play, but so do the Capitals — especially for his willingness to do the dirty work.

Hornqvist played for Capitals coach Barry Trotz in Nashville, who admired his tenacity to play net-front, and goalie Braden Holtby went as far as to say that if he was a forward he would play the game in the same fashion as Hornqvist.

The move paid off for the Penguins, as Hornqvist did what he does best: He played hard, competed and was disruptive in the crease. In the opening period, Hornqvist redirected one shot off the shoulder of Holtby and whacked away at another loose puck in front of Holtby. In the second period, Hornqvist helped set up two goals in two shifts in the first 1:04.

“I think it was our mindset going into this game,” Hornqvist said. “We were all over them in the first 10 minutes. Then, obviously, in the second period, we got those two goals. …

“We just have to keep playing fast.”

Hornqvist created enough havoc to assist on Crosby's two second-period goals. The first he fed to left wing Jake Guentzel on an odd-man rush that saw the Penguins rookie slide a pass to Crosby for a one-timer and 1-0 lead only 12 seconds into the period.

The second, only 52 seconds later, was all Hornqvist. After Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta's shot was fumbled by Holtby, Hornqvist nudged the puck toward Crosby, who finished it for a 2-0 lead.

“That's how the goals are going to be there,” Hornqvist said.

If the scoring sounds like vintage Crosby against the Capitals, it was.

Although his 17 points, including 10 goals, in 14 playoff games against Washington appear impressive, Crosby did most of the damage in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinal. The Penguins captain had eight goals and 13 points in that seven-game series, and only two assists in the six-game series against the Capitals last year.

Although Crosby scored three points in Game 2 against Columbus, he finished the series with two goals and seven points. The Sid and Kids line with Guentzel and Sheary wasn't as productive in that series as it was in their final 14 regular-season games, when they accounted for 24 goals and 54 points.

“Sid always brings a lot of things to the table, even if he doesn't score,” Hornqvist said. “Every night, he brings a lot of energy and a lot of confidence to this group.”

That confidence is missing from Sheary, who was demoted to the third line with Nick Bonino and Scott Wilson and was minus-1 in 12:21 of ice time before being benched. Bonino played the hero, scoring the winner, and the Penguins protected the space around goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the final minutes.

It was a furious finish, bettered only by a strong start that had Hornqvist's signature all over it.

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


Plus-Minus: Penguins at Capitals, Game 1

By Bill West

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:15 p.m.


No game sheet is complete without plus-minus, a sometimes misleading statistic that attempts to reflect a skater's two-way performance.

The Tribune-Review's version of plus-minus for the postseason also addresses two-play, albeit with more taken into account.

PLUS

Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury

After the Penguins went into a defensive shell, their goalie needed to deliver greatness. He found a way, even when scrambles for pucks ended up in his lap.

PLUS

Penguins F Sidney Crosby

Two goals and a team-high five shots more than sufficed as a contribution from Crosby, who also controlled territory better than most of his teammates.

PLUS

Capitals F Lars Eller

Credited with the primary assist on Alex Ovechkin's goal, Eller, one of the few players not involved with last season's second-round series, served as an effective solution to the Penguins' forward depth. Washington generated 19 more shot attempts than it allowed during five-on-five play with Eller on the ice.

EVEN

Capitals D John Carlson

He finished with four shots on goal and seven attempts, and the Capitals possessed the puck well with him on the back end.

EVEN

Penguins D Ian Cole

Eight blocked shots suggest Cole spent a lot of time in the defensive zone during a game in which he didn't need to kill a penalty. But those blocks almost meant the puck didn't reach an already busy Marc-Andre Fleury.

MINUS

Penguins D Brian Dumoulin

On a night when all of the Penguins' blue-liners went through rough stretches, Dumoulin maybe fared just a bit worse than his cohorts. Scorers charged him with three giveaways and credited him with just one blocked shot.

MINUS

Penguins F Conor Sheary

On the ice for just one Penguins shot attempt and 22 from the Capitals during five-on-five play, Sheary's struggles reached new lows.

MINUS

Capitals G Braden Holtby

His defenseman did him no favors, but Holtby nonetheless failed to live up to his Vezina-quality reputation and deliver at least one game-changing save.


Live on Game 1: Penguins 3, Capitals 2 final

By Bill West

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 2:00 p.m.


WASHINGTON – Barring an unforeseen circumstance, the Penguins and Washington Capitals will open the second round of the playoffs with the same lineups they used to close out the first round.

For the Penguins, winger Carl Hagelin is inching closer to a return but is not expected to play in Game 1 Thursday night.

Out since March 10 with a lower-body injury, Hagelin participated in morning skate in a regular practice jersey. He stayed on the ice late at the end of the skate, getting extra work in with the players likely to be scratched.

“Haggy is a day-to-day decision at this point,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He took limited contact this morning. The next step obviously will be the full-contact approach, but he's certainly making significant steps in the right direction.”

Washington coach Barry Trotz, meanwhile, confirmed he will make no lineup changes.

That means defenseman Karl Alzner, who has been out since Game 2 of a first-round series with Toronto due to an upper-body injury, will not play.

Trotz said the Capitals will enter the series with the Penguins with less anxiety than they had before the matchup with the Maple Leafs.

“I think you get calmer as you go through series,” Trotz said. “I think the first series is the one that can unnerve you a bit. It's the nervous series. You put eight months of work in for a series. Once you get through that series, seeing the level of play, seeing the intensity, the battles in the media, the battles on the ice, all those things that come up, I think you're calmer with it.

“It's like a firefighter going to his first fire. He's prepared all year. He's put all the work in. Now he has to go to his first fire and it's different. It ramps up. It's intense. It's exciting. It's fun. It's all those things, all those emotions. Once you go through it, you go, ‘I can handle it. I can handle it.' Things calm down for everybody.”

Sullivan said his team is ready to face the challenge the Capitals present.

“They've earned this opportunity to get to the second round, but we also understand we have to continue to earn,” Sullivan said. “I think our players are really excited about this opportunity.”

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


Photo gallery: Penguins vs. Capitals Game 1
Penguins notebook: Hagelin nears return; Kunitz on 4th line

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 7:48 p.m.


Carl Hagelin's return to the Penguins lineup has been a painstaking process.

Out since March 10 with a lower-body injury, Hagelin returned to practice Wednesday in Cranberry wearing a yellow, no-contact jersey.

Before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday in Washington, Hagelin participated in morning skate and upgraded to a regular practice jersey. Coach Mike Sullivan said Hagelin was cleared for limited contact.

The next step is a full-contact practice, after which Hagelin finally can rejoin the fray. Sullivan said he considers Hagelin's status day-to-day.

“He's certainly making significant steps in the right direction,” Sullivan said.

Winger Chris Kunitz, meanwhile, played his first game since March 31 because of a lower-body injury. He started the game on the fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnhackl.

Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, who has been out since Game 2 of a first-round series with Toronto because of an upper-body injury, resumed skating but did not play in Game 1.

“We're not going to put him at risk,” coach Barry Trotz said. “He's improving day to day.”

Get to the net

Penguins winger Bryan Rust knows going to the net is a big part of his game.

What he didn't realize is, statistically speaking, no one in the NHL did it better in the first round of the playoffs.

According to numbers complied by Corsica.hockey, Rust's average shot distance of 15.5 feet in the first round was the shortest in the league. The four goals he scored against Columbus came from an average of 13.3 feet from the net.

“I was thinking more like 6 feet or 8 feet, but I guess I had some longer ones,” Rust joked.

Most of the players sharing the leaderboard with Rust were physically imposing, ranging from Edmonton bruisers Zack Kassian and Patrick Maroon to 6-foot-7 Toronto center Brian Boyle. The presence of the 5-11, 192-pound Rust on the list is a testament to his quickness and drive.

“When I get to the net and around the net, I think it makes me more successful and I have some better results,” Rust said.

Unexpected destination

Leading to the March 1 trade deadline and knowing the St. Louis Blues intended to deal him, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk couldn't help but wonder where he would end up.

The Penguins and New York Rangers were two destinations that frequently crossed his mind.

“It seemed like, at any given moment, I could go to either one of those teams,” Shattenkirk said Thursday.

Instead, the Penguins added Mark Streit and Ron Hainsey, the Rangers picked up Brendan Smith from Detroit and the Capitals unexpectedly won the derby for the 28-year-old offensive defenseman.

“To be honest, Washington was probably the last team I expected to be wearing the jersey for,” Shattenkirk said.

Shattenkirk said he is pleased with how things have worked out in Washington. He's getting to be a part of one the NHL's most heated rivalries, and he isn't weighed down by the baggage of previous playoff disappointments like some of his Capitals teammates are.

“In a way, it's a good thing for me to not worry about what happened in the past here and just focus on now,” Shattenkirk said. “It's a new year. Last year, when (the Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks), it changed our mentality as a team. It was almost like a changing of the guard a little bit. That's what we're looking to accomplish here.”

Sabres candidate

Penguins assistant general manager Bill Guerin interviewed for the vacant GM position in Buffalo, TSN.ca reported.

Guerin and Penguins associate general manager Jason Botterill are considered among the top GM candidates in the league.

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


Chipped Ice A.M.: Penguins' slow starts could be killers against Capitals

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:09 a.m.


Those bad starts that plagued the Penguins in a first-round playoff matchup with Columbus? Nick Bonino would have preferred they never happened, of course, but now that the series is over, he wears them like a badge of honor.

“We didn't have great firsts and we won a series in five games,” he said. “That's a good sign that we can get things done no matter how we start.”

If Bonino is correct and the Penguins do have a repeatable ability to win games they start slowly, it's a trait that will almost undoubtedly come in handy in a second-round matchup with Washington.

The Capitals are one of the fastest-starting teams in the NHL.

In the regular season, they were second in the league with 80 first-period goals.

Nowhere was that tendency on display more than in their four-game season series with the Penguins.

-- In the season opener Oct. 13, the Penguins began their defense of a Stanley Cup championship by surrendering a goal to Andre Burakovsky 59 seconds into the game.

-- The next time the teams met Nov. 16, T.J. Oshie kick-started a 7-1 Capitals win with a goal in the first eight minutes.

-- On Jan. 11, Alex Ovechkin recorded his 1,000th career point on a goal 35 seconds into the game.

-- Five days later, Burakovsky gave the Capitals another 1-0 lead with a goal a little more than seven minutes into the game.

On top of that, the Capitals took a 1-0 lead before the game was 11 minutes old in three of six playoff meetings between the teams last season.

“We don't want to be playing from down every single game. That's not what our goal is,” defenseman Ian Cole said. “They're a great team. We know it's going to be a challenge. They're going to come at us hard on the forecheck, not dissimilar to Columbus. Maybe not quite as hard, but they're a hard forechecking team and they're really good at creating turnovers.

“They've got great sticks on the forecheck. They're good at reading plays. The ability to stay energetic, stay aware and stay ahead of the play mentally and read-wise is what will put us in a good spot.”

At times in the Columbus series, it looked like the Penguins were content to sit back in the opening minutes of the game, play a safe brand of hockey and wait for the aggressive Blue Jackets to punch themselves out.

Using a similar rope-a-dope strategy against the Capitals would prove far more problematic. For all of the Blue Jackets' strengths, they didn't have the finish the Capitals do.

“I think even Columbus started to realize the last couple of games that it wasn't worth it,” winger Scott Wilson said. “I thought the last two games were a little less physical. Obviously still intense, but they didn't come out banging in the first five minutes. We expect a fast-paced game (against Washington). We've got to get going in the first and hopefully it carries on through the series.”

In order to make that happen, coach Mike Sullivan said the Penguins have to make sure they get their minds right before the puck drops.

Sure, they've had six days off between series to pick apart the Capitals on tape and undoubtedly they'll make some tactical adjustments to better handle Washington's forecheck, but getting off to a strong start is about mental preparation more than anything else, the coach said.

“I firmly believe starts are all about a mindset and trying to keep the game simple so that you can get your adrenaline flowing and get yourself into the game physically,” Sullivan said. “I think everything falls from there.

“We've discussed it as a group. Now we just have to take action.”

LAST GAME: Bryan Rust scored twice and Marc-Andre Fleury made 49 saves as the Penguins beat Columbus to close out a first-round series in five games last Thursday.

NEXT GAME: The Penguins will visit the Verizon Center, a building where they went 0-2 and were outscored 12-3 in the regular season, for Game 1 of a second-round series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

A NOTE: The Penguins have lost Game 1 in eight of their previous nine playoff matchups with the Capitals. Seven of the eight times they dropped the opener, they came back to win the series.

A QUOTE: “I think the first-period thing was a little bit of a scare in the first round, but the last three or four days, I think we've had some really good days of practice. I think we're excited to get ‘er going.” – LW Scott Wilson

A NUMBER: 58 – all-time meetings between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, counting regular-season, playoff and international competition. Crosby's teams have won 37 of those meetings (.638 winning percentage).

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

Editor's note: Visit triblive.com for the Chipped Ice A.M. report every morning the Penguins play or practice throughout their series with the Capitals.


Pirates build early lead vs. Lester, hang on to defeat Cubs

By Chris Adamski

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 10:42 p.m.


Tyler Glasnow again lacked efficiency. He again struggled to make it deep into the game. He again allowed early runs.

But the Pirates again found a way to win.

Josh Harrison and Josh Bell homered, and the Pirates jumped on Chicago starter Jon Lester early and held on to avoid a sweep with a 6-5 win over the Cubs on Wednesday night.

“Obviously if the team can win, that's all that matters really,” Glasnow said after lasing just 3 13 innings. “Glad they could come through and score a lot of runs.”

To retire 10 Cubs, Glasnow needed 89 pitches (only 46 of them strikes), or 11 more pitches than Gerrit Cole threw Tuesday in going seven innings. It was likewise 11 more pitches than Ivan Nova needed in an eight-inning complete game April 17 in St. Louis.

“We are going to need more length,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We're coming into a month we have one off-day.”

Glasnow was charged with three runs (all earned). He faced 20 Cubs hitters. Eleven of them reached base (six hits, four walks, and a bases-loaded hit batsman to Anthony Rizzo), nine were retired by Glasnow (the 10th out came courtesy of a caught stealing).

Although his season ERA climbed to 7.98, the Pirates, who have the National League's worst offense, have won three of Glasnow's four starts. Contrast that to the 5-8 they've gone during starts of either Nova, Cole or Jameson Taillon (combined ERA: 2.62).

That said, despite needing a laborious 3 hours, 22 minutes to play and with a sparse-looking 16,904 on hand, Wednesday's game was a historic one. The first African-born major leaguer made his debut when Gift Ngoepe entered in the fourth inning.

“That was pretty cool,” closer Tony Watson said of Ngoepe, a nine-year Pirates organizational veteran. “He's worked really hard. It's been fun to see him to come up through the minor-league system. What a great guy and a great story.”

Recalled earlier in the day, the second baseman made his first MLB plate appearance the next half inning, lining a 3-1 cutter to the left of second base and into center for a single.

“I just couldn't believe I got a base hit off Jon Lester,” said Ngoepe, a slick fielder with a light-hitting reputation. “I'm going to keep that ball for me. I'm going to set it in a little case when I get a house someday.

“It was pretty awesome.”

Ngoepe had the evening's second-hardest hit ball (107.2 mph exit velocity), per Statcast. Bell's home run, into the bleachers in the deepest part of the park in left-center, traveled 424 feet at 107.5 mph with nobody on in the sixth.

A few hours after Hurdle dubbed him “Tabasco” for his ability to ignite at the top of the lineup, Harrison became the second Pirate to lead off the bottom of the first with a home run in six days. It foretold a trying outing for Lester.

A night after being shut out, the Pirates managed 10 hits off of the veteran left-hander, the most Lester had allowed in more than two years and tying the most he has allowed as a Cub.

Francisco Cervelli, Phil Gosselin and Andrew McCutchen had RBI doubles off Lester during the first two innings, and Gosselin would score despite botching a double-steal in which he was going to be out until Chicago catcher Willson Contreras dropped the ball.

But the 5-1 lead the Pirates carried into the third would be chipped away at by two-run fourth and Anthony Rizzo's towering two-run homer to right in the eighth.

The first run in the fourth came because of another Pirates defensive miscue: Polanco awkwardly misplayed an RBI double by Kris Bryant.

Rizzo's homer, his fifth, helped contribute to end Daniel Hudson's night an out earlier and necessitated a four-out save from Tony Watson — his first since April 22, 2015.

It was accompanied by more drama than necessary. Shortstop Jordy Mercer was charged with an error on what could have been a game-ending double play. But given a redo on the next ball in play, Mercer flipped to Ngoepe, whose turn was well in time to retire pinch-hitter Albert Almora Jr. at first to end the game.

“Jordy kept telling everybody, ‘(Ngoepe) is representing 1.62 billion people,' ” Hurdle said. “The rest of it you can't make up, involved in the plays he's involved in. He got a base hit, walk, three at bats, involved in the middle of a double play to end the game. Just a lot of really cool stuff.”

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.


Pirates notebook: Demand high for groundbreaking Ngoepe
Scouting report for Saturday, April 29: Pirates at Marlins

By Rob Biertempfel

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:26 p.m.


Pirates gameday

at Marlins

7:10 p.m.

Marlins Park, Miami

TV/radio: Root Sports/93.7 FM, 1480 AM, Pirates Radio Network

Probable pitchers

Pirates RHP Ivan Nova (2-2, 2.00) vs. Marlins RHP Dan Straily (1-1, 3.92)

Gamecast: In his last outing, Straily gave up two runs on four hits in seven innings vs. the Padres. Straily walked one and struck out 14, making him the 10th pitcher in Marlins history to collect 14-plus whiffs in one game. … Going into this series, Marlins outfielders had combined for 17 home runs and 51 RBIs in 19 games. They led the majors by driving in a run every 4.78 at-bats and homering every 14.35 at-bats. … Marcell Ozuna's 21 RBIs since opening day is his highest total in any month in his career. … Josh Harrison is 4 for 12, including two solo homers, vs. Straily. Two of the Pirates' best hitters vs. Straily — Jung Ho Kang (.333) and Starling Marte (.400) — are absent. … Nova has never faced the Marlins. In his last outing, Nova gave up one run in seven innings and picked up the win vs. the Yankees. … The Pirates are in a stretch of 17 games without a day off. Fourteen of those games will be on the road.

Next up

Sunday, 1:10 p.m.: Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63) vs. Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.14)


Scouting report for Friday, April 28: Pirates at Marlins

By Chris Adamski

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 4:48 p.m.


Pirates gameday

at Marlins

7:10 p.m.

Marlins Park, Miami

TV/radio: Root Sports/93.7 FM, 1480 AM, Pirates Radio Network

Probable pitchers

Pirates RHP Jameson Taillon (1-0, 2.13)

Marlins LHP Adam Conley (1-1, 3.00)

Gamecast: Taillon has pitched during 26 innings this season. He's allowed an earned run in three of them. ... The Marlins went 6-1 vs. the Pirates last season.... Conley has made 44 career appearances but has faced the Pirates just once before.

Next up

Saturday, 7:10 p.m.: Pirates RHP Ivan Nova (2-2, 2.00) vs. Marlins RHP Dan Straily (1-1, 3.92).


Last-place Pirates brace for road trip

By Jerry DiPaola

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 4:39 p.m.


While the Pirates stumble toward the end of the season's first month, pinpointing this team's identity — and future — appears to be more guesswork than science.

Is it a team whose defense is flawed after committing the most errors in the National League (20, tied with the Milwaukee Brewers)?

But what about Josh Bell's throw from deep first base that cut down a run at home plate in a 6-5 victory against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night? It might have been the best and boldest move on defense this season.

Is the team defined by three uncommonly good starters at the top of the rotation — Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole and Ivan Nova — who have a combined 2.62 ERA?

Or, is it a team whose often anemic offense (12th in the NL with a .233 batting average) continues to waste good pitching efforts?

Which is why it will surprise no one if the Pirates hit more bumps in their upcoming seven-game road trip that begins Friday when Taillon (1-0, 2.13) starts against the Miami Marlins. Nova is scheduled to start Saturday.

The Pirates are 5-8 when one of those three throws the first pitch and have combined to score four runs in the past four games started by Cole and Nova. Overall, the team has averaged 2.5 runs in the trio's 12 starts, seriously reducing their margin for error.

Good pitching, at least, gives the team a chance when the bats go silent.

“Unexpected, maybe for those outside,” Pirates general manager Neil Huntington said of his expectations for the top of his rotation. “We've loved this group. We love the potential of this group, and that's why we went with this group.

“We may have a couple tough turns through the rotation. That doesn't mean we're not going to like this group. It's the reality of young pitching.”

Nova has been the most impressive, walking one batter in four starts (27 innings).

“He has been an efficient strike thrower since he's been here,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “I don't think it's come without challenge. It hasn't come without work. It hasn't come without the ability to adapt, improvise and overcome.”

Outside of the top three, however, Hurdle's patience with Tyler Glasnow is running low. He has stayed in the game a total of only 14 23 innings in four starts, walking 13 batters and compiling an ERA of 7.98.

On-the-job training might work in some cases, but not when it puts too much stress on the bullpen while the last-place Pirates (9-12) are trying to climb over four rivals in the NL Central.

“We are going to need more length,” Hurdle said. “We're coming into a month where we have one off day. We are going to need more innings (from Glasnow).”

Strangely, the Pirates are 3-1 and have scored 20 runs in the past three games started by Glasnow.

Hence, the unpredictability of this season.

John Jaso, who is hitting .114 (4 for 35), points out the trail of a well-struck ball is sometimes hard to predict.

“You throw a good pass in football, it's caught,” he said. “You let out a good shot in basketball, you make the basket.

“Here, you can square up a ball and do everything you're supposed to do, and you get out and the pitcher gets to walk off the field.

“It's the only sport where the defense has the ball, too. I should have played basketball.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.


Up to 6 Pitt players could go over 3-day NFL Draft
Harlan: Aliquippa's Raines planning several official visits

By Chris Harlan

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 5:39 p.m.


With a four-word tweet, Aliquippa's Kwantel Raines tried to calm any speculation.

“I did not commit,” he wrote Monday.

As the top uncommitted junior in the WPIAL and one of the hottest football recruits in the country, Raines understands that college fans at more than a dozen schools analyze whatever he writes or says. In this week's case, optimistic West Virginia fans hoped he was becoming a Mountaineer.

“I said that I was coming there and lot of people thought I was committed,” said Raines, who wore a Penn State lanyard around his neck after school Tuesday. “I meant to go on a visit, so I had to clarify.”

There also was an Instragram screenshot that hinted he's headed to Pitt. The social media buzz isn't unusual for Raines.

“I've seen a lot of stuff already,” he said, laughing. “I'm not really surprised.”

For now, here's where he stands: The 6-foot-3, 190-pound, four-star safety has visited Pitt, Penn State, WVU and Maryland, but said he's “wide open” and hasn't made a decision. His cousin Kaezon Pugh has encouraged Raines to follow him to Pitt. However, Raines described last weekend's trip to Penn State as “amazing.”

He's eager to commit somewhere, but first wants to take more visits.

“The only thing that's slowing me down from committing is I want to see schools that are farther out,” Raines said, “because I didn't get the chance to see what they have to offer. Once I get the chance to see what they have to offer, I'm going to commit.”

There is no self-imposed deadline. Michigan State and Florida are on his shortlist of out-of-state schools to visit, along with Kentucky, Louisville and maybe a few others. Raines said he'll drive to the campuses within range and take official visit flights to the others.

He sat with his father in early March and narrowed his 30 scholarship offers into a 15-school list that also included California, Iowa State, LSU, South Carolina, TCU, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. He plans to cut his list to 10 in the next month.

“I'm looking for a school where I can have a good relationship with the coach,” Raines said, “and that I'll have a good life after football.”

Also important is a defensive scheme that fits his skills. Most teams envision him in the secondary, but Raines said Pitt has suggested he could play outside linebacker or maybe a hybrid position in coach Pat Narduzzi's defense.

“I'd rather play safety in college than linebacker,” he said. “If I can get on the field earlier playing linebacker I'd do that too. But I would prefer to play safety.”

He also stressed he wants teammates he can call close friends. In large part, that's what made last weekend's visit to Penn State stand out. Raines met four-star Nittany Lions commits Ricky Slade, Justin Fields and Trent Gordon, and was surprised how well he “clicked with the rest of the recruits,” he said, calling them “instant friends.”

“By far the best visit I've ever been on,” Raines said. “I got to talk to the other commits — and they're (highly ranked) recruits also — so they go through the same things I go through. I went on an atmosphere tour with all the guys and it was fun. Just being with them was fun.”

Whether that could lead Raines to Penn State, he's not ready to say — or tweet.

Sophomore stars

Norwin's Jayvon Thrift and Aliquippa's M.J. Devonshire, two standout defensive backs in the WPIAL's 2019 class, each announced their third Power 5 conference offer Wednesday.

Thrift added a scholarship from Syracuse, joining Pitt and WVU offers. Temple offered Thursday. Devonshire added Oregon State to Syracuse and WVU.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.


Deer Lakes avenges lone loss with 7th consecutive victory

By Doug Gulasy

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:48 p.m.


Deer Lakes saw earlier this season what could happen by leaving Burrell hanging around in a game.

The Lancers weren't about to let it happen again.

Becca Hoffman went 4 for 4 and drove in three runs, and No. 3 Deer Lakes avenged its only loss of the season with a 9-4 victory over Section 1-3A rival Burrell on Thursday at Bon Air Elementary.

“When we came out here during warmups, there was a feeling (that) we've got this today,” Hoffman said. “It was definitely a big challenge for us, especially because we're No. 1 in the section right now. We wanted to secure that place a little more.”

Deer Lakes (10-1, 6-1) won its seventh consecutive game and stayed a half-game up on No. 5 South Allegheny (8-1, 5-1) in the section race. The teams meet for the second time Monday at Deer Lakes, in a rematch of the Lancers' 5-4 victory.

“We have such a small margin of error in section play that really a couple of losses makes a huge difference,” Deer Lakes coach Craig Taliani said. “Every section game is a big game. Those are the ones that count the most, so we do our best to try and win those ones.”

In the first meeting between Burrell and Deer Lakes, the Bucs scored five runs in the top of the seventh to claim an 8-4 victory.

Thursday, Deer Lakes jumped out to a 6-0 lead by the fourth inning and answered Burrell's lone threat — a three-run rally in the fifth — with a three spot of its own.

“We always try to recognize the situation,” Taliani said. “When the game's on the line, what happens next is maybe going to determine the outcome of the game. We want to be ready for that. We don't want to be caught off guard and not doing the best we can do.”

Burrell dropped its second consecutive game, slipping a game and a half behind Freeport for third place in the section ahead of the teams' game May 2. The Bucs (5-6, 4-4) committed four errors, all in innings when Deer Lakes scored runs, and didn't crack the scoreboard until the fifth.

“We made way too many errors,” Burrell coach Brian Eshbaugh said. “We're not really putting runs up like we were earlier in the season; we're popping the ball up a lot. We're just trying to work through it. Hopefully, we'll get it corrected when the playoffs start.”

Deer Lakes scored three runs in the second on Hoffman's RBI single and Casey Buechel's two-run base hit, added another in the third on another Hoffman single and two in the fourth on Katelynn Blair's two-run single.

In a rare circumstance for Deer Lakes, the Lancers had just one extra-base hit — Brittany Dengler's second-inning double. But they still sprayed the ball around the field, finishing with 14 hits.

“You don't try to hit home runs — home runs are accidents,” Taliani said. “You can try to hit line drives, and really that's what we stress is hit line drives. They're going to fall in eventually. If you're hitting line drives all day, you can't go wrong.”

Burrell stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the third but finally broke through in the fifth, when Kasey Wolford drove in two runs with a double to the center-field fence, and Brittany Dunn followed with an RBI single. With a pair of runners on base, Deer Lakes pitcher Kristen Rudy induced a popup to get out of the inning.

The Lancers answered with three runs in their next at-bat, with Makayla Blair and Hoffman providing RBIs.

“That probably shoved the momentum their way, and it was tough to come back after that,” Eshbaugh said. “They're a good team.”

The biggest tests of the season face Deer Lakes next week, with games against South Allegheny on Monday and Freeport the next day.

“I love the competition because it makes us play as hard as we possibly can,” Hoffman said. “Last year, it was a little bit of a challenge, but this year I really feel the pressure and I just love that pressure.

“We feel the end of the season coming, and we really want to battle out there. Our coach said we haven't played our best game yet, and I'm ready for it.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.


Hempfield's Holmberg aiming to repeat MVP effort at WCCA meet

By Paul Schofield

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:03 p.m.


Hempfield senior Gabby Holmberg isn't satisfied by being good in track and field; she wants to prove she's one of the best athletes in the state.

Holmberg put in extra work with jumping coach Nick Keefer on Thursday at Spartan Stadium, preparing for not only the 95th annual Westmoreland County Coaches' Association meet Saturday at Latrobe but for the rest of the season.

The Duquesne recruit, who was named the meet's combined MVP last season, was doing various training drills on the stadium steps and in the pit, under Keefer's guidance.

Holmberg wants to improve on her performances at the WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA meets from 2016.

At the WCCC meet last year, Holmberg won the 200-meter dash, placed second in the triple jump and ran the anchor on the winning 400 relay team.

“It's very honorable to win the MVP at the county meet,” Holmberg said. “It was nice because my friends (Greensburg Salem's Julia Howard in field and Hempfield's Rianna Miedel in track) were also MVPs. I really haven't decided what I'm running at the WPIALs. I know I'll be concentrating on the 300 hurdles and triple jump for sure.”

She'll be busy again this weekend, competing in the triple jump, 300 hurdles, and the 400 and 1,600 relay teams.

As for this weekend and the next few meets, Holmberg said she's looking to set good qualifying times and jumps for the WPIAL meet.

“I just want to better myself every time I compete and push myself to be better,” Holmberg said.

Fox starting to soar

Hempfield senior Hayden Fox is starting to round into form again. The returning WPIAL pole vault champion was an MVP at the 2016 WCCA meet, winning the pole vault and javelin events.

Last week at Shippensburg University, the site of the PIAA track and field championships next month, Fox surpassed the 200-foot mark in javelin for the first time. He did it twice, throwing 206 feet, 8 inches and 206-1.

“I'd like to get over 220,” Fox said.

In the pole vault, Fox recently cleared 14-1 for the first time this season. Fox is starting to regain his form in the event, breaking out of a slump.

“It's coming around, and that's a good thing,” the Naval Academy recruit said.

Returning champs

There are six other returning county champs — Kiski Area senior Eric Kennedy (1,600), Latrobe junior Anna Ramsey (800), Greensburg Salem senior Riley Kwiatkowski (3,200), Hempfield junior Bailey Traczynski (100 hurdles), Hempfield senior Samantha Orie (shot put) and Hempfield junior Rachel Hutchinson (discus), the reigning WPIAL champion.

Who to watch

There are numerous athletes competing this weekend who have the top marks in their classifications.

In Class AA, the group includes Greensburg Central Catholic senior Moira O'Shea (1,600), Burrell senior Nicole Scherer (100, 200, 400), Burrell senior Elizabeth Weimer (shot put, discus) and Derry senior Kara McDonald (javelin). Scherer and Weimer were WPIAL champions in 2016.

In Class AAA, standouts include Greensburg Salem sophomore Malia Anderson (800), Hempfield junior Molly DeBone (high jump, pole vault), the Greensburg Salem boys 3,200 relay team, Norwin senior Nicholas Coleman (400) and the Norwin 400, 1,600 and 3,200 relays teams.

Team tournament draw

The WPIAL announced the semifinal pairings for the Class AAA and Class AA team tournament, which begins Tuesday.

The Class AAA sites will be Norwin, North Allegheny, Seneca Valley and Baldwin.

The Class AA sites are South Side Beaver, Shenango, Freeport and Derry.

North Allegheny is the returning Class AAA boys champion, and Hempfield is the girls' champion. The Hempfield teams will be at Baldwin, and Latrobe is at Seneca Valley.

Hempfield will face Baldwin, Uniontown, Gateway boys and Mt. Pleasant girls. Latrobe meets Seneca Valley boys, Butler girls, New Castle boys, Kiski Area and West Allegheny girls.

Norwin will host Franklin Regional, Canon-McMillan, Connellsville boys, West Mifflin boys and Trinity girls.

Coming to Derry are Washington boys, Riverview boys, Burrell girls, Brownsville girls and Keystone Oaks girls. Greensburg Central Catholic girls are at Shenango against South Park and Vincentian, while the Southmoreland teams are at Freeport against Quaker Valley and California girls.

Freeport is the returning AA boys champion, and Beaver won the girls title.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.


Tillerson eyes cutting 2,300 jobs at State Department
Congress approves stopgap spending bill to prevent federal shutdown

By Tribune News Service

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Congress avoided a government shutdown Friday as President Trump marks his first 100 days in office, but failed to serve up a decisive legislative accomplishment for the White House as Republican leaders shelved another attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The House approved a temporary spending bill, 382-30, providing a weeklong extension of federal funding as negotiators continue to hash out a broader deal to keep government running through the remainder of the fiscal year. The Senate unanimously followed, ahead of Friday's midnight deadline when funding expires.

The final deal is expected to include a boost in military spending, though smaller than what Trump wanted, and other provisions, including continued federal assistance to prop up a pension fund for retired coal miners that both parties support. Talks will continue next week.

Trump had orchestrated the 100-day spending showdown shortly after he won the election, insisting last year that Congress only fund the government through April 28 so he could put his stamp on federal spending after he took office.

However, the president's demands for funds to build a border wall with Mexico and his threat to withhold some payments for Obamacare fell by the wayside as even Republicans, who have the majority in the House and Senate, panned those initiatives.

Democrats also resisted Trump's spending priorities. Because Republicans have stark divisions within their ranks over spending levels, they must rely on Democrats for passage of most measures to prevent shutdowns.

Trump's push for border wall funding was quickly rejected by Democrats.

“Americans know that $50 billion, if that's what the wall will cost, is far better spent laying broadband throughout America, rebuilding our roads and bridges, doing things that help Americans,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., “Thankfully, for the American people, the president failed.”

Democrats are also fighting other so-called policy riders Republicans want to attach to the spending bill, including those related to abortion access, regulations on financial services professionals and one that would limit oversight of various flavors of electronic cigarettes, aides said.

Trump balked at including funds for Puerto Rico, which is seeking federal aid for its struggling Medicaid program, but that money is now likely to be included in the final deal as talks continue.

Congressional leaders hope to reach consensus in the days ahead so they can avoid another standoff at this point next week when the just-passed temporary funding for government operations will again expire on May 5.

A late push to salvage the Republican promise of dismantling Obamacare also was delayed when it became clear there were still not enough votes of support from rank-and-file lawmakers, who are concerned their constituents will lose their health insurance.

Lawmakers left town for the weekend frustrated after making only halting progress on either issue.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said he expects the House to vote “as soon as possible” on the latest version of the Obamacare repeal. A vote last month was shelved amid similar dissent.

“We're close, but we have some work to do,” said a GOP leadership aide granted anonymity to discuss the ongoing situation.

The GOP health care bill continues to face stiff headwinds, particularly from centrist Republicans, after leaders embraced an amendment designed to appease the most conservative lawmakers.

The provision would allow states to waive many of the regulations Obamacare slapped on insurers, which are some of the most popular parts of the law, including mental health coverage, maternity coverage and a ban on charging higher rates for patients with pre-existing conditions.

While the changes generated new support from lawmakers in the conservative House Freedom Caucus, they are driving away others those in more centrist districts, like Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who is now leaning against the bill.

“The proposed changes to this bill would leave too many of my constituents with pre-existing conditions paying more for health insurance coverage and too many of them will even be left without any coverage at all,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who remains opposed.


Trump signs order aimed at opening Arctic drilling

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 4:03 p.m.


WASHINGTON -- Working to dismantle his predecessor's environmental legacy, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday aimed at expanding oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

With one day left to rack up accomplishments before he reaches his 100th day in office, Trump signed an order reversing some of former President Barack Obama's restrictions and instructing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review a plan that dictates which federal locations are open to offshore drilling.

It's part of Trump's promise to unleash the nation's energy reserves in an effort to reduce oil imports and spur jobs, regardless of fierce opposition from environmental activists who say offshore drilling harms whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbates global warming.

U.S. oil production has boomed in recent years, primarily because of improved drilling techniques such as fracking that have opened up production in areas previously out of reach of drillers.

“This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration,” Trump said during a White House signing ceremony. “It reverses the previous administration's Arctic leasing ban and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of off-shore areas that will bring revenue to our treasury and jobs to our workers.”

“Today,” he said, “we're unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying energy jobs.”

The executive order aims to reverse part of a December effort by Obama to deem the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing.

It also directs Zinke to review the locations available for offshore drilling under a five-year plan Obama signed in November. The plan blocked new oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It also stopped the planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska, but allowed drilling in Alaska's Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage.

The order could lead to the opening of oil and gas exploration areas off Virginia and North and South Carolina, where drilling has been blocked for decades. It could also re-open the door to the use of seismic surveys by energy companies to map potential drilling sites for oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean.

The oil and gas industry has pushed for Atlantic drilling and pledged that exploration would be done safely, with lessons applied from the disastrous 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Many lawmakers from Georgia to Virginia support offshore drilling, but the plan faces broad opposition from the fishing industry, tourism groups and even the U.S. military, which has said Atlantic offshore drilling could hurt military maneuvers and interfere with missile tests the Navy relies on to protect the East Coast.

More than 120 coastal cities and towns from New Jersey to Florida-including cities such Wilmington, North Carolina, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia- have passed resolutions against Atlantic drilling and seismic testing.

Zinke said that leases scheduled under the existing plan will remain in effect during the review, which he estimated will take several years.

The order also directs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to conduct a review of marine monuments and sanctuaries designated over the last 10 years.

Citing his department's data, Zinke said the Interior Department oversees some 1.7 billion acres on the outer continental shelf, which contains an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas. Under current restrictions, about 94 percent of that outer continental shelf is off-limits to drilling.

Zinke, who is also tasked with reviewing other drilling restrictions, acknowledged environmental concerns as “valid,” but he argued that the benefits of drilling outweigh concerns.

Obama administration officials said they were confident that Trump would not be able to reverse Obama's December action designating the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing. The ban relies on an arcane provision in a 1953 law. White House officials said in December that the language of the statute provides no authority for subsequent presidents to undo so-called permanent withdrawals of oil and gas leases from the Outer Continental Shelf.

Trump's move was applauded by the energy industry, including the National Ocean Industries Association.

“It's a new day and a new attitude for American energy,” said the group's president, Randall Luthi. “The time is right for such a review.”

Environmental activists and many Democratic officials, meanwhile, railed against the signing, which comes seven years after the devastating BP spill.

“When Deepwater Horizon exploded, Floridians saw firsthand the catastrophic consequences of offshore drilling. Spills don't just devastate ecosystems - local economies that depend on the health of our environment and clean water also feel extreme pain,” said Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla. “I urge the Trump administration to reverse course and put the well-being of our coastal communities above oil industry profits.”


Trump tells NRA: 'You have a true friend' in White House

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 3:55 p.m.


ATLANTA -- President Donald Trump reaffirmed his support for gun rights Friday, telling attendees of a National Rifle Association convention that “the eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.”

Trump, the first sitting president to address the group's annual convention in more than 30 years, assured the audience that he would defend their right to bear arms in a campaign-like speech reminiscent of his election rallies.

“You have a true friend and champion in the White House,” he said.

The president's trip to Atlanta also served as his first foray into a congressional race since taking office. After delivering his NRA remarks, the president headed to a private fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Karen Handel, who is running in a special congressional race that has become a national referendum on his presidency.

During the speech, the president congratulated Handel and urged Republicans to support her.

“She's totally for the NRA, and she's totally for the Second Amendment, so get out and vote,” he said.

Trump has been a champion of gun rights and supportive of NRA efforts to loosen restrictions on gun ownership. During the campaign, he promised to do away with President Barack Obama's efforts to strengthen background checks and to eliminate gun-free zones at schools and military bases.

The last president to address an NRA convention was Ronald Reagan, who spoke to the 1983 gathering, according to the powerful gun rights lobby.

Trump's appearance in Atlanta sparked protests from people advocating for stricter gun control measures. They included Steve Hagen, who called the NRA's push for federal legislation to make any state's concealed-carry permits valid nationwide “the dumbest thing I've ever heard.”

“I guess the promoters are throwing states' rights out the window,” Hagen, a 68-year-old from the Atlanta suburb of Tucker. “It's just crazy.”

Opponents of the bill say the move would effectively turn the weakest gun standards in the nation into the law of the land. The GOP-led Congress already passed a resolution to block a rule that would have kept guns out of the hands of certain people with mental disorders, and Trump quickly signed it.

Trump, who also attended last year's NRA convention as a candidate, boasts of owning a pair of guns and mentioned again on Friday that his two adult sons are avid hunters. He stirred controversy during the campaign when he suggested that “Second Amendment people” could stop his opponent Hillary Clinton, which some interpreted to be a call for violence against the Democratic nominee. Trump disputed that charge.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on the plane trip from Washington that NRA members supported Trump during the election based on his strong commitment to gun rights. He also cited Trump's appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

“I know the NRA is glad to have a justice in that seat who is such a staunch defender of the Constitution,” he said.

Kevin Michalowski, executive editor of a magazine published by the United States Concealed Carry Association, said seeing that a president will be addressing the annual meeting “gives the gun industry a feeling of he's on our side.”

The political landscape has changed dramatically with a president now in the White House friendly to the gun industry and gun rights. But Michalowski said it's premature to get complacent with gun sales having tapered off since the election and “there's always a group out there that opposes the Second Amendment and what it stands for.”

Trump attendance at the private fundraiser for Handel is his first such endeavor for a congressional hopeful since he took office and confirmation that the GOP sees Georgia's 6th Congressional District runoff as a barometer of the 2018 midterm elections.

The affluent, well-educated district has been in Republican hands since 1979 - when voters put the future House Speaker Newt Gingrich to the seat - and it still covers the usually conservative northern suburbs of Atlanta. But an upstart Democrat, 30-year-old Jon Ossoff, used an anti-Trump wave to raise more than $8 million ahead of an April 18, multiparty primary and nearly won the seat outright, finishing almost 30 points ahead of Handel, the top Republican vote-getter.

Handel largely avoided mentioning Trump during the primary campaign, a nod to his struggles in November, when he barely won a district that usually gives GOP presidential nominees more than 60 percent of the vote.

But Handel has openly embraced the president in the opening days of the runoff campaign. Trump called to congratulate her on qualifying for the runoff and praised her via his personal Twitter account. Both major parties and their aligned organizations have flooded the district with volunteers, paid staffers and promises of millions in additional television advertising ahead of the June 20 second round.

The winner will succeed Republican Tom Price, who resigned to joint Trump's Cabinet as health secretary.


Judge to sentence former head of Chicago Public Schools
In Egypt, pope seeks Christian-Muslim rejection of violence

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 7:21 a.m.


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is brushing off security concerns to forge ahead with a two-day trip to Egypt aimed at presenting a united Christian-Muslim front that repudiates violence committed in God's name.

Three weeks after Islamic militants staged twin Palm Sunday church attacks, Francis lands in Cairo on Friday for a series of deeply symbolic encounters with Egypt's religious and political leadership. He will meet with Egypt's president, patriarch and the “other” pope, Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and pray for victims of the attacks.

Most importantly, he will also visit Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of learning in Sunni Islam. There, he will meet privately with grand imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, and participate in an international peace conference Friday afternoon.

Looking relaxed and cheerful and carrying his own travel satchel as usual, the pope climbed the steps of the Alitalia jet in late morning and chatted with the flight crew. The plane took off from Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport about 11 a.m. (0900 GMT).

The goal of the trip is to bring a message of peace to a country that has been ravaged by Islamic extremist attacks, and encourage a culture of respect and tolerance for religious minorities, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state.

“The fundamental issue is education, and educating those of different religious beliefs and especially the young, to have great respect for those of other faiths,” Parolin told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. “The question of language is fundamental: when you use a violent language, there is the danger that it can result in violent acts.”

After visiting Al-Azhar, Francis meets with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and then heads to the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which accounts for about 10 percent of Egypt's 92 million people.

Francis and Tawadros will preside over an ecumenical prayer service in St. Peter's church, the Coptic cathedral that was the site of a December suicide bombing claimed by Islamic State militants that killed 30 people.

Francis has frequently spoken out about today's Christian martyrs and the “ecumenism of blood” that has united Catholic, Orthodox and other Christians targeted for their faith by Islamic militants.

Parolin, the Vatican No. 2, said he hoped Francis' visit might help convince them to “stay in their countries despite the difficulties and continue to give their Christian testimony in a majority Muslim society.”

While Francis eschewed the armored popemobile his predecessors used on foreign trips, other security precautions were taken for the 27 hours he will be on the ground in Cairo: Streets around the Coptic Orthodox cathedral and the Vatican embassy were cleared of cars, and police swarmed the upscale Cairo neighborhood where Francis will sleep Friday night.


Arkansas executes 4th inmate in 8 days

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 12:36 a.m.


VARNER, Ark. Arkansas has wrapped up an aggressive execution schedule, putting to death its fourth inmate in eight days.

Thirty-eight-year-old Kenneth Williams received a lethal injection Thursday night at the Cummins Unit prison at Varner for killing a former deputy warden after he escaped from prison in 1999. At the time of his escape in a 500-gallon barrel of hog slop, Williams was serving a life term for killing a college cheerleader.

The state had planned to put eight men to death before its supply of the sedative midazolam expires on Sunday. At that pace, Arkansas would have executed inmates at the quickest rate since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorized the death penalty in 1976.

Courts issued stays for four of the men who were scheduled to die.


Trump, reversing Obama, will push to expand oil, gas drilling in Arctic, Atlantic

By The Washington Post

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


President Trump will take a major step Friday to expand oil and gas drilling off U.S. shores, directing the Interior Department to lift restrictions that President Barack Obama imposed in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. But local political considerations and the global energy market are likely to influence exploration far more than an executive order in Washington.

Several industry officials and experts predict that oil and gas firms will bid on areas the administration plans to open to drilling, including those off the East Coast. But the targeted Arctic areas are much less attractive to investors right now, and even potential drilling in the Atlantic could be complicated by long-standing resistance from coastal communities.

Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and a former Obama energy and environment adviser, said that while the Trump administration can rescind the former president's efforts to end exploration in the two regions, that process would be complex and involve at least two years of revamping the government's long-term drilling plans.

“The question then is, does anybody show up, and does anybody want these ⅛leases?” Bordoff said. “It depends quite a bit on what the oil market looks like in two years.”

If it looks anything like it does today, with low oil prices and most industry growth taking place onshore, Trump's new policy might have little practical effect.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has made it clear he wants to boost drilling in federal waters to generate more royalties. While this money goes directly to the U.S. treasury, Zinke suggested in a speech Tuesday that the royalties should be spent on a maintenance backlog within the national parks system.

“If you go back to 2008, the department made $15.5 billion more a year, just in offshore, than we do today,” Zinke said. “That's enough to pay for infrastructure.”

But opposition remains intense among politicians of both parties in the Southeast.

According to the advocacy group Oceana, 90 percent of coastal municipalities from Cape May, N.J., to Cape Canaveral, Fla., have formally opposed drilling or seismic testing off their coasts. Prominent South Carolina Republicans, including Gov. Henry McMaster and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, have come out against drilling there.

“It's not the environmentalists and the dolphin huggers,” said Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana's senior vice president for oceans. “It's the business community. What you've got is a different fight now.”

In Beaufort, S.C., Mayor Billy Keyserling said he is ready to again fight the prospect of offshore drilling — just as he did during the Obama administration — because of concerns over environmental threats, the potential impact on tourism and concern that more local jobs could be destroyed than created.

“We will fight it harder than we did in the past,” Keyserling said. “We all feel very, very strongly.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, opposes any drilling in federal waters off his state's coast. But Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., has introduced legislation calling for a lease sale off Virginia Beach within the next year, along with two additional lease sales off Virginia's coast during each subsequent five-year period. These lease sales would be exempt from review under the National Environmental Policy Act, according to the bill, which would accelerate the process.

Despite the drilling restrictions Obama put in place for Alaska's Arctic, activity continues there. The Italian oil giant Eni wants to reach reserves in a federal area of the Beaufort Sea off Alaska by doing directional drilling from an artificial island it is using in state waters. Hilcorp has taken over a project formerly owned by BP. And Shell, after deciding to drop further exploration plans, gave its offshore acreage to the Arctic Slope Regional Corp., an Alaska Native entity.

Christy Goldfuss, who headed the White House Council on Environmental Quality at the end of Obama's second term, said that the executive order he issued in December specifically allowed exploration in 2.8 million acres in the near-shore Beaufort Sea where commercial interest is greatest.

“The idea that people are breaking down the administration's door to get access to the Arctic is just false,” said Goldfuss, who now serves as vice president for energy and environment policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Several industry officials said that even with a change in leasing policy, additional regulatory changes would be needed to make drilling in the Arctic more economically viable.

Still, broader energy trends are likely to shape the future more than any regulatory decision.

“If the last 10 to 15 years teaches us anything at all, it's that we should be humble about our ability to forecast oil prices,” said Bob McNally, a former Bush administration energy official and president of the Rapidan Group consulting firm.

Over the past decade, he noted, those prices have fluctuated between $26 and $140 a barrel. They now hover around $50, but should that start to creep up, interest in offshore exploration and drilling could rise, too. McNally pointed to the recent five-year oil market forecast from the International Energy Agency, which found that demand is expected to “grow strongly” through 2022 and that “the need for more production capacity becomes apparent by the end of the decade, even if supply appears plentiful today.”

“At $100 a barrel, the economics and the politics change,” he said. “You'd see more industry interest and political calls for offshore development.”


Trump tells Reuters 'major conflict' with North Korea possible
School segregation controversy rekindled by ruling in Alabama

By The Washington Post

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


A federal judge's ruling this week that allows a predominantly white Alabama city to separate from its more diverse school district is stoking debate about the fate of desegregation initiatives after decades of efforts to promote racial balance in public education.

Judge Madeline Haikala of the U.S. District Court in Birmingham ruled that the city of Gardendale's effort to break away was motivated by race and sent messages of racial inferiority and exclusion that “assail the dignity of black schoolchildren.” She also found that Gardendale failed to meet its legal burden to prove that its separation would not hinder desegregation in Jefferson County, which has been struggling to integrate its schools since black parents first sued for an equal education for their children in the 1960s.

Still, Haikala ruled Monday that Gardendale may move forward with the secession, basing her decision in part on sympathy for parents who want local control over schools and in part on concern for black students caught in the middle. The judge wrote that she feared they would bear the blame if she blocked the city's bid.

U.W. Clemon, who represents black plaintiffs in the case, said the ruling undermines more than half a century of integration efforts.

“If this decision stands, it will have a tremendous adverse impact,” Clemon said.

Other majority-white communities in Jefferson County are already considering setting up their own school systems, said Clemon, who is a retired federal judge.

Haikala's ruling says to them that “if Gardendale can do it, with its history of racism ... then any other city would have the right to do what Gardendale has done,” Clemon said.

Backers of secession have said that they are seeking local control over schools, not racial segregation.

“We know that the community is anxious and ready to achieve its goal of a locally led public school system. We are, too,” Chris Segroves, president of the Gardendale Board of Education, said in a statement. “While the court's order is progress and represents a significant development in that process, we must ask for your continued patience and prayers in the coming days as we work through this together for the betterment of our community.”

The Justice Department, which under the Obama administration had opposed the separation, declined to comment this week on the ruling.

Gardendale, a bedroom community outside Birmingham, has been pushing for years to leave the predominantly black school system in Jefferson County and form its own small district.

Haikala's finding of a racial motivation in Gardendale's separation, and her defense of the ongoing need for federal oversight of school desegregation cases, made her decision all the more perplexing to civil rights advocates.

Federal judges have over the years allowed a succession of majority-white cities to pull their schools out of the Jefferson system, leaving the county schools with a smaller tax base and a growing proportion of low-income and black students. But until now, no judge has so closely examined whether efforts to draw new school-district boundaries here were racially motivated — much less concluded that they were.

“It's hard to square,” said Monique Lin-Luse, a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund who also represents black parents in the case. The court's acknowledgment that race played a factor in the secession effort was a vindication “even beyond what we had hoped for,” Lin-Luse said, but the notion that the city of Gardendale can take steps toward forming its own system anyway is “of deep concern.”

Clemon said the parents whom he and Lin-Luse represent are likely to ask Haikala to reconsider her opinion.

Haikala's 190-page decision recounts the decades-long battle over school desegregation in Jefferson County.

The judge offered a blistering critique of those who organized Gardendale's effort to split from the county system. Pointing to Facebook posts and public statements, Haikala concluded that they clearly saw secession as a way to control the demographics of city schools, erecting a barrier to black students who transferred from other parts of the county.

“Nonresident students are increasing at ⅛an⅜ alarming rate in our schools,” one organizer wrote on Facebook. “Those students do not contribute financially. They consume the resources of our schools, our teachers and our resident students, then go home.”

Such sentiments send a clear message to black students — many of whom live miles away in a community called North Smithfield and attend Gardendale's middle and high schools under a decades-old desegregation plan — that “these schools are not yours, and you are not welcome here,” Haikala wrote.

A flier distributed to Gardendale residents before a vote on whether to secede delivered “an unambiguous message of inferiority” to black students, Haikala wrote. The flier, bearing an image of a white child, asked, “Which path will Gardendale choose?” It presented a choice: a list of racially integrated or predominantly black cities whose schools remain part of the Jefferson County system; or a list of predominantly white cities — “some of the best places to live in the country,” the flier said — whose schools have broken away over the years.

Haikala decided that although she could opt to block the secession, given that it is likely impair the desegregation of county schools, she would allow it.

Black children from North Smithfield who are bused to Gardendale are in a “Catch-22,” the judge wrote, and without a concerted effort by the city's leaders are likely to feel unwelcome no matter who runs the city's schools. Gardendale proposed including North Smithfield students in its new school system only after leaders of the secession effort concluded that doing so was essential to winning court approval. “This is a tragic consequence of the way in which the Gardendale Board attempted to separate,” Haikala wrote.

Under Haikala's decision, Gardendale may begin operating the two elementary schools within its boundaries this fall. If the city shows good faith in carrying out desegregation efforts at those schools over the next three years — including by allowing and paying for transfer students and appointing a black member to the all-white city school board — it may be allowed to take over the middle and high schools within its boundaries.

Even then, Gardendale would have to pay Jefferson County for the high school building that sits at the center of town, which cost the county more than $50 million to build. The high school plays a key role in the county's efforts to integrate, using career and technical education programs to attract students from far-more-segregated areas.

Under Alabama law, cities of more than 5,000 residents can form independent school systems, and Gardendale had argued that the federal court should have no say over its separation. “Things have changed” since the Supreme Court's landmark decisions on school segregation, Gardendale argued in a brief, and federal courts must “open their eyes to the condition of the present.”

Haikala forcefully rebutted that argument, writing that Gardendale's message to black students that they are unwanted has been “unmistakable” and “intolerable.”

“The Court may not turn a blind eye to that message,” the judge wrote.

Pennsylvania State University professor Erica Frankenberg, who studies school segregation, said that the decision by Haikala — who was appointed by President Barack Obama and is relatively new to the Jefferson County case — is a significant departure from previous court decisions that allowed majority-white cities to break away from larger school systems without publicly explaining or grappling with the consequences. And Haikala has clearly signaled that she reserves the right to change course if Gardendale fails to meet its desegregation obligations.

Frankenberg said the decision also is an important defense of the federal government's role in monitoring and overseeing school desegregation. “You can't just say that the passage of time has gotten rid of the prior segregation,” she said.


4,000 Canadian families will soon get paid by Ontario for doing nothing

By The Washington Post

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


OTTAWA — The government of Ontario, Canada's most populous province, is joining the basic-income bandwagon with the launch of a three-year pilot program that will test how paying people an unconditional basic wage works in practice.

“Many people are concerned about what the world is promising their kids,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said at a Monday news conference announcing the three-year experiment. “It's a world of global competition, reduced benefits, more and more part-time employment.”

Under the plan, Ontario will provide a basic income to as many as 4,000 randomly chosen low-income households in Hamilton and Thunder Bay and Lindsay. The money will be provided to participants whether they work or not.

A single person could receive up to 16,989 Canadian dollars per year, while a couple can get up to 24,027 Canadian dollars per year a year plus 6,000 extra dollars for a person with a disability. To encourage participants to seek paid employment, the recipients would also be able to keep 50 percent of any money they earn from work and would continue to receive child-benefit payments from the Canadian and Ontario governments. The entire program is expected to cost around $150 million.

The idea of a basic income has been around for years in one form or another. It gets surprising support from both the left, which sees it as an extension of the social safety net, and the right, which sees it as a way to escape the intrusive, bureaucratic nature of traditional welfare programs. (The Ontario experiment will compare families receiving the basic income payments to a control group that will receive benefits under the current system.) Finland and the Netherlands are also conducting basic-income experiments, and a much smaller pilot project is underway in Oakland, Calif..

The idea has also been embraced by tech companies, which worry that increasing automation and the advent of artificial intelligence will someday eliminate millions of jobs. The Oakland project is sponsored by Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley start-up incubator.

Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, said he's sympathetic to the basic-income concept “but a skeptic” when it comes to cost. While he believes the idea would be an improvement on the current social safety net, Tanner estimates that providing a basic income to everyone in the United States would cost a staggering $4 trillion a year. He says tech industry likes the idea because it fears a political backlash against automation, which could end up leading to “anti-technology legislation.”

But Evelyn Forget, an economist at the University of Manitoba who specializes in community health, believes a basic-income program could be affordable, noting that Canada already spends 15 billion Canadian dollars a year on social welfare programs. Forget has studied the effects of an earlier basic-income experiment — a similar pilot program in Manitoba in the 1970s — on the town of Dauphin.

She said there was virtually no change in the number of hours worked by primary earners as a result of the basic-income project, but that the hours worked by teenage boys declined — and she later found that the high school completion rate for boys rose.

Her conclusion was that boys in low-income families who were previously under pressure to quit school and go to work were able to remain in school because of the support that the basic income provided. The Manitoba experiment ended without any follow-up because “governments changed.” But 40 years later, as society is moving increasingly toward a “gig economy,” Forget sees a growing role for a basic income.

“Basic income plays a nice job in filling in the gaps and in supplementing low wages,” she said.


2 U.S. troops die battling Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan

By The Washington Post

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


Two service members were killed during operations against the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Thursday, the latest sign of the security challenges the Trump administration faces in America's longest and most costly war.

Military officials said the deaths occurred during a joint U.S.-Afghan raid Wednesday evening in Nangahar province, where a small but virulent Islamic State cell poses a threat to Afghan and coalition forces.

A third service member was wounded in the same operation, the U.S. military command in Afghanistan said in a statement. The Pentagon declined to identify those killed.

“The fight against ISIS-K is important for the world, but sadly, it is not without sacrifice,” said Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, referring to the Islamic State branch in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State-Khorasan Province.

The incident took place in Nangahar's Achin district near a site where the U.S. military unleashed a massive 22,000-pound bomb this month, a sign of the scale of the ongoing conflict nearly 16 years after U.S. troops arrived in Afghanistan.

The recent fighting in Achin, including the first-ever use of the GBU-43 bomb and Wednesday's incident, which killed two Americans, illustrates the danger posed by just one of multiple terrorist groups in a conflict that U.S. officials have described as a stalemate.

A Taliban resurgence across Afghanistan has meant that the government in Kabul controls only slightly more than half the country's territory, according to a U.S. government watchdog, and that the United States has been forced to return forces to areas pacified at great cost under President Obama's 2009-11 troop surge.

At the same time, local forces are struggling to contain an array of militant groups along the country's border with Pakistan, including the Islamic State.

Faced with those challenges, the Trump administration is reevaluating its strategy for Afghanistan and considering sending additional U.S. troops to support local forces. Nicholson has called for thousands of extra service members to help train and support the Afghan military.

According to Navy Lt. Chris Donlon, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Wednesday's incident happened close to Achin and near where U.S. aircraft dropped the GBU-43 munition two weeks ago.

That bomb targeted a sprawling Islamic State tunnel complex, and although Afghan officials said between 36 and about 100 Islamic State fighters were killed in the strike, the U.S. military has not announced what exactly the bomb accomplished.

An Afghan military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss current operations, confirmed that there had been a joint U.S.-Afghan operation in a village near Achin district Wednesday but was not aware of any casualties. He said it had been a long day of fighting.

The Afghan branch of the Islamic State, mainly composed of militants pulled from other groups, has emerged as an increasing counterterrorism focus for United States in Afghanistan.

Although military officials say the group is far smaller than it was at its height in 2015, an estimated 600 to 800 militants, located mainly in remote mountainous areas, have proven to be a deadly adversary. Fighting has been fierce as U.S. and Afghan Special Operations forces, backed by hundreds of airstrikes, have sought to advance against militant strongholds in recent months.

The deaths mark the third time this year that a member of the U.S. military has died in combat in Afghanistan. On April 8, Army Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Md., was killed by small-arms fire, also in Nangahar.

They come just days after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Afghanistan to assess the security situation and advance deliberations about the Trump administration's approach to a war that has largely been overshadowed by events in Iraq and Syria.


Pentagon joins intensifying probe of former Trump aide Flynn
Protesters attack Macedonian lawmakers after leadership vote

By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 6:45 p.m.


SKOPJE, Macedonia — Chaos swept into Macedonia's parliament Thursday night when protesters stormed the building and attacked lawmakers to protest the election of a new speaker despite a months-old deadlock in efforts to form a new government.

Violence also swirled outside, with police firing stun grenades and clashing with demonstrators massed in front of the parliament building, and several people were injured. Authorities did not immediately confirm local television reports that up to 48 people had been hurt, including protesters and police officers.

Many of the protesters were supporters of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, whose conservative party won elections in December but didn't get enough votes to form a government on its own. He has been struggling to put together a coalition government and his supporters have been holding nightly street rallies for two months across the country to protest the political situation.

Dozens of protesters, some of them masked, initially broke through a police cordon after the opposition Social Democrats and parties representing Macedonia's ethnic Albanian minority voted to name a new parliament speaker.

Shouting, hurling chairs and grabbing camera tripods abandoned by startled journalists, the protesters attacked lawmakers, including opposition leader Zoran Zaev, who was seen bleeding from the forehead. TV footage showed a bloodied Zaev and other Social Democrat lawmakers surrounded by protesters waving national flags, shouting “traitors” and refusing to allow them to leave.

A spokesman for one of the ethnic Albanian parties, the Democratic Union for Integration, told Telma TV that three other lawmakers were also injured.

“This is a sad day for Macedonia,” the spokesman, Artan Grubi, said.

Police said lawmaker Ziadin Sela, who heads another ethnic Albanian party, was the most seriously injured and was taken to the emergency room of a Skopje clinic. Police said that about 10 officers were injured during the melee and that reinforcements had been sent to assist those inside the parliament building.

After several hours of a tense standoff, with hundreds of protesters swarming through the parliament building, police said 30 lawmakers and a number of journalists who had been trapped inside had been safely evacuated. Television station Alsat M.TV in Albania broadcast a picture of Zaev leaving the building, his head heavily bandaged.

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov went on television to appeal for calm and “for reasonable and responsible behavior.” Speaking in a brief address to the nation, Ivanov said he had summoned the leaders of the country's main political parties for a meeting Friday.

“Lawmakers are primarily responsible for restoring the situation in accordance to the constitution and laws, which were violated today,” he said.

Macedonia has been without a government since the elections. Coalition talks broke down over ethnic Albanian demands that Albanian be recognized as an official second language. One-fourth of Macedonia's population is ethnic Albanian.

Amid the coalition negotiations, the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, as the Balkan nation's parliament is known, has been deadlocked for three weeks over electing a new speaker.

Zaev, the opposition leader injured in the melee, suggested earlier in the day that a speaker could be elected outside normal procedures, an idea immediately rejected by the prime minister's party as an attempted coup. Zaev went ahead with the vote, and a majority in parliament elected Talat Xhaferi, a former defense minister and member of the Democratic Union for Integration. Protesters exploded in anger and fought their way into the building.

Both the European Union and the United States condemned the violence and said they would work with the newly elected speaker.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn issued a joint statement with European Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini calling the violence “wholly unacceptable” and urging calm and restraint.

“Democracy must run its course. We take positive note of the election of Talat Xhaferi as Speaker of the Parliament, as reported,” they said.

The U.S. Embassy condemned the violence “in the strongest terms,” saying in a statement that the assault “is not consistent with democracy and is not an acceptable way to resolve differences.”

The embassy noted that Xhaferi was elected by a majority of lawmakers. “We will work with him to support democracy and to advance the interests of Macedonia,” it said.


Israeli strikes inside Syria pick up tempo in proxy war

By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 6:42 p.m.


BEIRUT — Syria's military said Israel struck a military installation southwest of Damascus International Airport before dawn Thursday, setting off a series of explosions and raising tensions further between the two neighbors.

Apparently seeking to interrupt weapons transfers to the Hezbollah group in Lebanon, Israel has struck inside Syria with increasing frequency in recent weeks, making the war-torn country a proxy theater for Israel's wider war with Iran.

The increasing tempo of attacks risks inflaming a highly combustible situation drawing in Israel, Syria and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, a staunch ally of President Bashar Assad's government with thousands of fighters in Syria. Israel's military said later Thursday that its Patriot Missile Defense system intercepted an incoming projectile from Syria over the Golan Heights.

An Israeli defense official said the Patriot hit a drone, and the military is checking whether it was Syrian or a Russian aircraft that entered the Israeli side by mistake. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with protocol.

The Syrian government and Hezbollah, however, are mired in the country's 6-year-old civil war and are unlikely to carry out any retaliation that might ignite a bigger conflagration with Israel.

“Iran and Hezbollah are overstretched, and it's not clear they can afford to gamble with a direct showdown with Israel now,” said Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center. “Iran knows no matter how powerful they've become, they can't be fighting on two fronts at the same time.”

Israeli Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz would not comment directly on the incident but said any similar strike would be in line with established policy to interrupt weapons transfers.

“It absolutely matches our declared policy, a policy that we also implement,” Katz told Israel's Army Radio.

Just before the apparent Israeli missile strike, at least three cargo jets from Iran probably landed at the Damascus airport, said Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for the flight-tracking website FlightRadar24. They include an Il-76 flown by the Iranian cargo company Pouya Air that “was last tracked over Iraq headed towards Damascus,” he said.

It's unknown what they were carrying. Passenger flights and civilian cargo jets continue flying into Damascus, although there's suspicion that some commercial flights serve as cover for weapons transfers from Iran.

The Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a right-leaning think tank that has criticized the nuclear deal Iran struck with world powers, has said Pouya Air is the latest name for a long-sanctioned airline. It also has accused Pouya Air of funneling arms from Iran into Yemen's capital of Sanaa to supply Shiite rebels there.

Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the foundation, said he tracked a fourth cargo flight from Iran to Syria on Wednesday night, an Airbus A300 operated by Mahan Air, which is suspected of ties to Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. He also called one of the cargo flights, a Qeshm Fars Air Boeing 747, especially suspicious because the airline stopped operating in 2013, only to resume flights to Damascus three weeks ago.

“We don't know for sure, but let's say that we can fairly safely assume that the weaponry and fighters reach Damascus through these daily flights,” Ottolenghi told The Associated Press.

The explosions near Damascus reverberated across the capital, seat of Assad's power.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency said Israel had fired several missiles from inside the occupied Golan Heights, 37 miles south of Damascus, striking a military installation southwest of the airport that serves both military and civilian flights. It reported damage but no casualties.

“The buildings shook from the force of the blast,” said a media activist who goes by Salam al-Ghoutawi of the Ghouta Media Center in the opposition-held northeastern suburbs, about 9 miles from the airport. He said he heard the roar of jets in the distance.

Explosions were silhouetted against the night sky in a video published by the center. Debris was seen flying out as the explosions illuminated a sizeable cloud nearby.

Hezbollah's al-Manar media station reported a blast at fuel tanks and a warehouse next to the airport, which is 16 miles east of central Damascus.

The Syrian military said in a statement the attack sought to “raise the morale of terrorist groups” the government maintains are fighting Assad's forces. It made no mention of whether it would respond.

Israel is widely believed to have carried out airstrikes in recent years on advanced weapons systems in Syria — including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles — as well as on Hezbollah positions. It rarely comments on such operations.

Last month, Syria fired missiles at Israeli jets after they struck targets in Syria, in a rare military exchange between the two adversaries.

Hezbollah is an avowed enemy of Israel, and the two sides fought a monthlong war in 2006. Tensions between them along the Lebanon-Israel border have risen in recent weeks, with each side warning of a much more serious confrontation. Some Israeli officials have also recently been threatening grave damage to the Lebanese civilian infrastructure in case of a new conflict with Hezbollah, apparently in hopes the country can somehow rein in the militia.

Yahya, the analyst, said Israel is increasingly worried about the potential arsenal that Hezbollah's could acquire and the weapons already available in Syria.

“Most likely they see a window of opportunity where their intervention can degrade Hezbollah's military power,” she said.

The conflict in Syria, which pits Assad and his regional allies against local and foreign opposition forces, has killed more than 400,000 people since it began in 2011. The civil war is further complicated by militant factions such as al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria and the even more powerful Islamic State group, which in 2014 seized a large chunk of territory but lately has been losing ground in the face of a campaign by a U.S.-led international coalition.

Russia, another key Assad ally, denounced what it called an act of “aggression” against Syria. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova did not directly blame Israel for Thursday's explosion, but she cited Syrian media as saying Israel was responsible.

In other developments, at least 19 people were killed in air raids across rebel-held Idlib province in the northwest. Some appeared to target ambulances and medical centers.

The Civil Defense, a search-and-rescue organization, said four medical staff were killed in an attack on a university hospital in the town of Deir Sharqi, and four paramedics or ambulance operators died in an airstrike on an ambulance services in another town, Maarzita.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 19 civilians, including nine children, were killed around the province. The Civil Defense reported the same overall death toll.

The activists believe Russia or the Syrian government launched the raids. U.S. jets also are known to strike in Idlib province, targeting al-Qaida-linked fighters.


Physician dragged off flight settles with United Airlines

By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 4:42 p.m.


CHICAGO — The passenger who was dragged off a United flight after he refused to give up his seat to airline employees settled with the airline for an undisclosed sum Thursday in an apparent attempt by the company to put the fiasco behind it as quickly as possible.

David Dao's legal team said in a brief statement that the agreement includes a provision that the amount will remain confidential. One his lawyers praised United CEO Oscar Munoz.

Munoz “said he was going to do the right thing, and he has,” Thomas Demetrio said in the statement. “In addition, United has taken full responsibility for what happened ... without attempting to blame others, including the city of Chicago.”

The settlement came less than three weeks after the episode, before Dao had even sued. The deal means United will not face a lawsuit that could have been costly, both in legal bills and in further public-relations damage.

United issued a brief statement, saying it was pleased to report “an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard Flight 3411.”

Cellphone video of the April 9 confrontation aboard a jetliner at Chicago's O'Hare Airport sparked widespread public outrage over the way Dao was treated.

The footage showed airport police officers pulling the 69-year-old Kentucky physician from his seat and dragging him down the aisle. His lawyer said he lost teeth and suffered a broken nose and a concussion.

In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Demetrio said the settlement also averts any lawsuit against the city of Chicago. Airport police officers who work for the city pulled Dao off the jet.

“I praise Mr. Munoz and his people for not trying to throw the city under the bus or pass the buck,” Demetrio said. “He stood in front of the world and has stated that, ‘We, United, take full responsibility.'”

Demetrio said it was “unheard of” for a company to admit responsibility so quickly and completely.

“I hope corporate America notices when you goof up, people respect you a heck of a lot more when you admit it, instead of making people go through three years of depositions, motions, court hearings.”

He said Dao was also impressed that “United stepped up to the plate.”

The incident arose from a common air travel issue — a fully booked flight. Wanting to seat four crew members, the airline offered passengers $400 and later $800 to voluntarily relinquish their seats. When no one did, United selected four passengers at random.

Three people got off the flight, but Dao refused, saying he needed to get home to treat patients the next day. The airline then summoned the officers, who forcibly removed Dao.

The incident was a major embarrassment for United. The company's response in the immediate aftermath was widely criticized. Munoz first defended the airline and described Dao as “belligerent” before publicly apologizing days later and vowing to do better.

The three airport police officers who dragged Dao from the plane were placed on leave from the Chicago Department of Aviation.

The agency released a report April 24 in which the officer who pulled Dao from his seat, James Long, gave his version of events. Long said Dao was verbally and physically abusive and was flailing his arms before he lost his balance and struck his mouth on an armrest.

The department's roughly 300 officers guard the city's two main airports but are not part of the regular Chicago police force. They receive less training and cannot carry guns inside the terminals.

Also Thursday, the airline released a report detailing mistakes that led to the incident. United said would raise to $10,000 the limit on the payments it offers to customers who give up seats on oversold flights and increase training for employees.

United has vowed to reduce, but not eliminate, overbooking.

The airline has not said whether ticket sales have dropped since Dao was removed from the jet.


United raising limit on payments to bumped flyers to $10,000
Ivanka Trump microphone quip draws criticism for Fox host

By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 9:48 a.m.


NEW YORK -- Fox News host Jesse Watters says he enjoys Ivanka Trump's voice and wasn't making a joke “about anything else” when he mentioned that he liked the way she held a microphone.

Watters made the comment while hosting “The Five” on Fox News Channel on Tuesday. He criticized people booing her as she defended her father's attitude toward women while holding a microphone on stage at an event in Germany. Then he added: “I really liked how she was speaking into that microphone.”

The moment sparked online criticism from MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski and New York Post columnist John Podhoretz .

Watters explained on Twitter , “On air I was referring to Ivanka's voice and how it resonates like a smooth jazz radio DJ. This was in no way a joke about anything else.”


White House says Trump won't immediately pull out of NAFTA

By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 6:54 a.m.


WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump has told the leaders of Mexico and Canada that he will not pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement at this time, just hours after administration officials said he was considering a draft executive order to do just that.

The White House made the surprise announcement Wednesday in a read-out of calls involving Trump, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“President Trump agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries,” said the White House.

Trump said he believes “the end result will make all three countries stronger and better.”

The Mexican government confirmed the conversation in a statement issued late Wednesday.

“The leaders agreed on the convenience of maintaining the North American Free Trade Agreement and working together with Canada to carry out a successful renegotiation for the benefit of all three countries,” the statement read.

Trudeau's office issued a brief statement saying “the two leaders continued their dialogue on Canada-U.S. trade relations, with the Prime Minister reinforcing the importance of stability and job growth in our trade relations.”

The White House announcement came hours after administration officials said Trump was considering a draft executive order to withdraw the U.S. from the deal - though administration officials cautioned it was just one of a number of options being discussed by the president and his staff.

Some saw the threat as posturing by Trump to gain leverage over Mexico and Canada as he tries to negotiate changes to the deal. Trump railed against the decades-old trade deal during his campaign, describing it as a “disaster.”

Senior White House officials had spent recent days discussing steps that could be taken to start the process of renegotiating or withdrawing from NAFTA before the end of Trump's first 100 days in office, according to a person familiar with the president's thinking.

But the person, along with an administration official, who both spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations, had said a number of options remained on the table, and stressed discussions are ongoing about the best way to proceed.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment on the order, which was first reported by Politico.

“The president has made addressing the problems of NAFTA a priority throughout the campaign, and once the president makes a decision about how he wants to address that, we'll let you know,” he said.

The administration appeared to be divided Wednesday over how and when to proceed, as officials balanced a newfound cautiousness with the desire to rack up accomplishments before Trump's 100th day on the job.

Some were gunning for Trump to sign a draft order this week, while others were weighing the complications surrounding withdrawing from or renegotiating the deal without Congress fully on board. The debate played out in the press Wednesday as some outlets quoted officials insisting the signing was imminent, while other officials dismissed the reports as “just a rumor.”

“My practice is to comment on things we've actually done or are doing as opposed to commenting on rumors,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters at an unrelated White House briefing Wednesday evening.

Trump could withdraw from NAFTA - but he would have to give six months' notice. And it is unclear what would happen next. The law Congress passed to enact the trade pact might remain in place, forcing Trump to wrangle with lawmakers and raising questions about the president's authority to raise tariffs on Mexican and Canadian imports.

The decision came days after the administration announced it would slap hefty tariffs on softwood lumber being imported from Canada. Trump has also been railing against changes in Canadian milk product pricing that he says are hurting the American dairy industry.

Trump told The Associated Press in an interview last week that he planned to either renegotiate or terminate NAFTA, which he and other critics blame for wiping out U.S. manufacturing jobs because it allowed companies to move factories to Mexico to take advantage of low-wage labor.

“I am very upset with NAFTA. I think NAFTA has been a catastrophic trade deal for the United States, trading agreement for the United States. It hurts us with Canada, and it hurts us with Mexico,” he said.

Another senior White House official declined to comment on “rumors” of specific actions. But that official said NAFTA has been a top priority for the president since day one and said the administration has been working on it since taking office. That person also spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration's thinking.

The Trump administration last month submitted a vague set of guidelines to Congress for renegotiating NAFTA, disappointing those who were expecting Trump to demand a major overhaul.

In an eight-page draft letter to Congress, acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn wrote that the administration intended to start talking with Mexico and Canada about making changes to the pact, which took effect in 1994.

The letter spelled out few details and stuck with broad principles. But it appeared to keep much of the existing agreement in place, including private tribunals that allow companies to challenge national laws on the grounds that they inhibit trade - a provision that critics say allows companies to get around environmental and labor laws.

Reports Wednesday of the possible move drew objections from some in Congress, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

“Withdrawing from #NAFTA would be a disaster for #Arizona jobs & economy,” he tweeted. “@POTUS shouldn't abandon this vital trade agreement.”


Arson suspect in custody after 2 fires in Trump International Hotel

By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 1:27 a.m.


LAS VEGAS — Officials say one person was injured and a suspect is in custody after two fires were discovered at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.

The Clark County Fire Department released a statement saying toasters, towels and various other materials were used to ignite the fires at the hotel bearing President Trump's name.

One blaze was in the women's restroom, on the pool deck level, and the other was in the hallway of the 17th floor.

A county spokesman said a hotel security guard was injured. Information on the extent of the guard's injuries was not available.

A police spokesman tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the man in custody is facing charges of first-degree arson and burglary.


Blockbuster has survived in the most curious of places: Alaska
U.S. economy expanded at weakest pace in 3 years

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 9:04 p.m.


WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy turned in the weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter as consumers sharply slowed their spending. The result fell far short of President Donald Trump's ambitious growth targets and underscores the challenges of accelerating economic expansion.

The gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, grew by just 0.7 percent in the first quarter following a gain of 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The slowdown primarily reflected slower consumer spending, which grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.3 percent after a growth rate of 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter. It was the poorest quarterly showing in more than seven years.

Despite the anemic first-quarter performance, the U.S. economy's prospects for the rest of the year appear solid. Growth is expected to be fueled by a revival in consumer spending, supported by continued strong job growth, accelerating wage gains and record stock levels.

Weakness in the first quarter followed by a stronger expansion in the spring has become a pattern in recent years. The government's difficulty with seasonal adjustments for the first quarter has been a chronic problem and may have shaved as much as 1 percentage point off growth this year.

The sharp slowdown in consumer spending in the first quarter was attributed to a collection of temporary factors: warmer weather, which shrank spending on heating bills, a drop-off in auto sales after a strong fourth quarter and a delay in sending out tax refund checks, which also dampened spending.

Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said he expected consumer and government spending to bounce back, leading to a much stronger second quarter.

“Still, the report will mark a rough start to the administration's high hopes of achieving 3 percent or better growth, not the kind of news it was looking for to cap its first 100 days in office,” Guatieri said in a note to clients.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, one of the administration's top economic policymakers, said that the weak first quarter performance showed the need for the new policies Trump is offering.

“We need the president's tax plan, regulatory relief, trade negotiations and the unleashing of (the) American energy sector to overcome the dismal economy inherited by the Trump administration,” Ross said in a statement.

He said that strong business and consumer sentiment “must be released from the regulatory and tax shackles constraining economic growth.”

Averaging the two quarters, they forecast growth of around 2 percent for the first half of this year. That would be in line with the mediocre performance of the eight-year economic expansion, when growth has averaged just 2.1 percent, the poorest showing for any recovery in the post-World War II period.

Trump had repeatedly attacked the weak GDP rates during the campaign as an example of the Obama administration's failed economic policies. He said his program of tax cuts for individuals and businesses, deregulation and tougher enforcement of trade agreements would double growth to 4 percent or better.

In unveiling an outline of the administration's tax proposals on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he believed growth above 3 percent would be achievable.

Many economists are more skeptical. They are forecasting growth of this year around 2.2 percent. That would be an improvement from last year's 1.6 percent, the weakest showing in five years, but far below Trump's goal. Many analysts believe that the impacts of Trump's economic program will not be felt until 2018 because they are not expecting Congress to approve some version of Trump's tax program until late this year.

The GDP report released Friday was the first of three estimates the government will make of first quarter growth.

The 0.7 percent increase was the worst showing since GDP contracted by 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014.

In addition to weaker consumer activity, the first quarter slowdown also reflected a cutback in restocking of store shelves. The slowdown in inventory rebuilding cut nearly a percentage point from growth in the first quarter. Also acting as a drag was a reduction in government spending, which fell at a 1.7 percent annual rate with both the federal government and state and local governments seeing cuts.

On the positive side, business investment rose at a 9.4 percent rate, helped by a record surge in spending in the category that tracks spending in the energy sector. This category had seen sharp cutbacks in recent quarters, reflecting reductions in exploration and drilling as energy prices declined. Housing construction was also strong, growing at a 13.7 percent rate, the fastest pace in nearly two years.

Trump noted the weak 2016 GDP performance in a tweet Wednesday and contended that “trade deficits hurt the economy very badly.” For the first quarter, trade was actually a small positive after a major drag in the fourth quarter.


Sprawling nighttime food markets popping up in the U.S.

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


NEW YORK — Clouds of white smoke rise into the black sky from outdoor grills. The night air is scented with the fragrances of cuisines from around the world. Vendors in tiny stalls stir noodles, toss crepes and fill dumplings as lines of hungry customers stretch into the dark.

That was the scene at the Queens Night Market as it opened for the season in New York City. It's one of a number of sprawling nighttime food markets — inspired by the massive night markets of Asia — that have started popping up around the United States. There are also regular night markets in Philadelphia and Southern California, and occasional night markets held elsewhere.

The Atlanta area became the latest destination to host a new night market in late April, attracting 50,000 people and 130 vendors at its first three-day event, with another one scheduled for November. In St. Paul, Minn., the Little Mekong Night Market attracted 18,000 people one weekend last summer, and it's coming back June 10-11. In Jersey City, N.J., a Mother's Day-themed night market is scheduled for May 12, 6:30 p.m.-midnight.

Some of the markets are primarily Asian-themed, others promote food from around the world. The inexpensive, temporary market stalls also offer first-time entrepreneurs an opportunity to hone recipes and business skills without having to lay out the big bucks required for a brick-and-mortar shop or even a food truck. Some of the events even operate as non-profits with proceeds going to charity.

Lines can be long, as small quantities of food are being made to order on the spot. But part of the fun is watching the preparation as vendors stretch and fold crepes, pinch dumplings, sizzle and blend fillings and toss noodles. Other types of merchandise — arts, crafts, toys, along with games — are typically offered onsite as well as live music.

The events have a different vibe from laidback farmers markets or retail food halls. Instead, they have an after-dark energy and excitement that seems to pick up as the night goes on. Some charge a few dollars' admission, but food items typically average $5. Go with a friend, and for $25, you can stuff yourself sharing four or five dishes — a perfect budget outing.

John Wang spent his childhood summers in Taiwan, his parents' native land. “Every single night, I wanted to go to the night market there,” he recalled.

Those memories inspired him to start the Queens Night Market. The market kicked off its third season April 22 with 50 food vendors. Some 8,000 people turned out to sample a wide range of cuisine, from tamales stuffed with fried crickets to Indonesian coconut cakes.

The market is held on the grounds of the New York Hall of Science, a museum whose history makes it a fitting site for the international market: It was part of the 1964 World's Fair.

Wang is committed to keeping the market affordable for both visitors and vendors. The location is a working-class area with a diverse immigrant population, most menu items are $5 and food vendors can take part for $135.

“The last thing I want to have is a tourist trap but not get the locals,” he said. “I want this to be the most accessible thing in New York City.”

The Atlanta International Night Market, held April 21-23 at Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, featured vendors selling food from around the world along with a “vegan village” for non-meat-eaters. Founder David Lee, who was born in Vietnam and owns a chain of restaurants called Saigon Cafe, sees the market as a “platform” for Atlanta's diversity.

“When you have the food, culture, music, you bring everyone together,” he said. He hopes to hold the market four times a year, with the next one scheduled for Nov. 3-5.

Night Market Philadelphia began in 2010, and typically attracts 60 to 80 food vendors and 20,000 attendees. The cuisine ranges from empanadas and Jamaican jerk chicken to Khmer satay. “We try to elevate folks' food festival standards and offer more interesting fare than corn dogs and pizza,” said Diana Minkus, spokeswoman for The Food Trust, the local organization behind the markets.

The markets take place in different neighborhoods: May 11 in Northeast Philadelphia's Burholme neighborhood; June 29 in West Philly; Aug. 10 in Roxborough in Northwest Philly and Oct. 5 at the Italian Market.

Two night markets take place in Southern California. The 626 Night Market in Arcadia, which started in 2012, has 200 vendors, and the OC Night Market in Costa Mesa has 100.

Spokeswoman Holly Nguyen says the markets were inspired by the night markets of Taiwan and the “core” of both markets are “Chinese and Taiwanese vendors.” But they've become more diverse over time, with “pan-Asian vendors” serving Filipino, Vietnamese and Laotian cuisines, and others selling dishes ranging from Mediterranean shawarma to Texas barbecue. About 20 percent of vendors are first-time entrepreneurs.


5 apps to help grads start saving and investing

By The Washington Post

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


You've got the diploma. You've moved over your tassel.

Now the real work begins.

When you're paying off student loans, saving and investing may seem like the last things you can afford to do. But it's never too early to start squirreling away some money for the future, even if it's only a few bucks at a time. Financial apps can help, as long as you're not nervous about giving companies access to your financial data. If you're on board with that, these apps can help make spending and investing a little less daunting.

Acorns

This investing app takes the concept of “seed money” and runs with it. The app is designed to let you drop in $5 to invest. It also lets you round up purchases you make to the next dollar and invest the difference.

The app is simple to set up and makes it easy to start putting money into your account automatically. It's also easy to stop, if you have a bad month and can't afford to invest at the time. Acorns works best when you feed your account on a regular basis, even if it's just a little at a time.

Robinhood

Robinhood's goal is to make you rich without making brokerage firms richer, by letting you trade without commissions and fees.

The real benefit of Robinhood is that it's fast — much faster than traditional brokerage firms and built with a real-time pace at its core. Users can pick the stocks they want and track their performance on the market. It's also pretty easy to cash out, if you're done playing the market or want to reinvest in another stock.

There is a premium membership available for $10 a month, for those who want access to after-hours trading and a couple of other perks.

Stash Invest

Stash Invest is also designed to let you deposit just a little money at once.

Stash also provides a lot of educational information to help you pick investment options that work best for you. It offers ready-made portfolios . Choosing among these portfolios can be a little more work than other apps, but it also gives you a strong basis for moving on to more advanced investing by educating you on the culture of investing.

Clarity Money

With options to help you keep track of bills, streamline debt and set up automatic ways to save, Clarity Money is an (almost) all-in-one financial app.

It assesses your finances and suggests subscriptions you can cut or bills you can negotiate. The app also cleverly takes into account when your next paycheck is coming so you can better plan what your immediate financial moves should be.

Digit

Digit is laser-focused on getting you to put something away for a rainy day.

This app evaluates what's going in and out of your bank account and socks away money depending on your situation. Digit communicates with you by text message, giving you daily updates about the money it's pulled into savings. You can make a withdrawal at any time, if you want to spend some cash, or if you think that Digit has been overambitious with your savings abilities.

You won't make more money, because you're not investing or gaining interest.


The age of flying cars is here, Silicon Valley promises
CEOs salivate over Trump's tax-cut plans, vague as they may be

By Bloomberg News

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 9:30 p.m.


Nothing gets Corporate America going like a tax-cut proposal.

Chief executive officers are keeping their fingers crossed that the skeletal details offered up by President Trump's administration Wednesday will turn into a concrete proposal to slash the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from the current 35 percent. That would free them up to invest and fuel economic expansion, they said in interviews and conference calls this week.

“If you listen to the framework of tax reform, I find that incredibly encouraging for companies like ours,” Rick Gonzalez, CEO of drugmaker AbbVie, said on an earnings call Thursday. The proposed tax changes “would put us in position that would be far more competitive.”

Skeptics argue that companies would only pass along tax savings to investors, boosting special dividends and buybacks. The one-page list of principles that Trump's administration released Wednesday cited the elimination of “tax breaks for special interests,” signaling that some companies might have to give up subsidies they currently receive. But for now, the nation's business chieftains are rooting for the Republican president.

“We can be a cheerleader from the sidelines,” said Stephen Holmes, chief executive officer of hotel operator Wyndham Worldwide Corp., said Wednesday on a call with investors. “Lower taxes means better cash flow, more opportunity to invest.”

The White House is embarking on the arduous task of turning its one-page outline into legislation on a matter that has already divided Congress and large companies. Before the White House weighed in, a detailed plan backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan had drawn the ire of retailers and other industries because of a border-adjustment provision that would tax imports but not exports, leading many members of Congress to raise doubts about it.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who unveiled the White House's guidelines on Wednesday with National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, was vague on details. That's made it difficult for companies to plan. Should they get more aggressive on investments and merger opportunities, certain that tax reform will materialize eventually? Or should Trump's early legislative stumbles, such as a failed dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, give them pause about how much they can bank on major changes to the tax code?

“We continue to believe that something does get done this year, but the timing and the magnitude of it are anybody's guess,” Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, said Tuesday in a call with investors. “But achieving competitive corporate tax rates,­ this is probably the biggest catalyst available for our public policy makers if they want to increase capital investment and job creation.”

For some executives, a simplified tax code would present some tradeoffs. Waste Management Inc. noted that subsidies for fuel and low-income housing could go away, affecting its tax strategy. “But we'll be happy to give up the fuel tax credit for a term for a rate reduction in corporate tax rates,” CEO James Fish said on a call.

The White House has pitched Trump's wish list as a way to boost capital spending to create jobs and boost the economy. But one aspect may do more to help shareholders than workers. The administration reiterated its plan Wednesday for a one-time tax reduction for companies to repatriate cash from their foreign subsidiaries.

Though Mnuchin didn't specify a rate for overseas funds brought home, the president said on the campaign trail that he wanted a cut to 10 percent from the current corporate income-tax rate of 35 percent. More than $2 trillion in offshore profits is held overseas by U.S. companies.

A rate cut could be a boon for tech companies like Apple and Microsoft, and industrial behemoths such as General Electric. Their investors would do quite well, too, if history is any lesson. In 2004, a similar move led to an overseas influx of cash that was mostly returned to shareholders, not spent on building factories and creating jobs. While discussing repatriation Thursday, Gonzalez of AbbVie cited the company's commitment to increasing its dividends.

“The vast majority of that cash was spent in the form of share buybacks, which are good for stocks in the short run,” said Gina Martin Adams, chief equity analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. More than likely, “companies will give it back to shareholders.”

Such a boost to shareholder returns could help prolong the run-up in U.S. stocks since Trump was elected in November. The so-called “Trump bump” has seen the Standard & Poor's 500 Index surge 12 percent since then.

Repatriation “could be a nice benefit,” said Marshall Front, who oversees $800 million as chief investment officer at Front Barnett Associates in Chicago. On the other hand, investors could overestimate how much companies actually would give back, he said. “The danger is that people could carried away with the impact.”

There's another tantalizing benefit for companies with large operations overseas. A lower tax rate offers an opportunity to get a competitive edge against foreign competitors that have to pay more to their own governments.

“Doesn't matter what industry you're in,” said Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith on a conference call Wednesday. “If you're a global company, it's going to allow you to compete on a global platform. And so we're supportive of that.”


Trump to order investigation into aluminum imports

By The Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 10:24 p.m.


WASHINGTON — President Trump will direct his administration Thursday to expedite a new investigation into whether aluminum imports are jeopardizing U.S. national security.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the president will sign a memo ordering him to determine the impact of rising aluminum imports. High-purity aluminum is used in a number of defense applications, including military planes and the armor-plating of military vehicles.

Ross said that, thanks to steep competition from overseas, there is only one American smelter that produces high-purity, aerospace-quality aluminum still in operation.

“It's very, very dangerous, obviously from a national defense point of view, to only have one supplier of an absolutely critical material,” he said at a White House briefing Wednesday evening.

The move, which could lead to tariffs on aluminum imports, is the second such investigation the president has initiated. Last week, he asked Ross to look into steel imports to determine whether they, too, pose a national security risk.

“This is not an area where we can afford to become dependent on other countries,” Trump said then.

U.S. aluminum producers have been hurt badly by China's astonishing rise in the industry. Since 2000, China has increased its share of the world aluminum market from less than 11 percent to nearly 53 percent, increasing production almost 12-fold.

Meanwhile, in the United States, aluminum plants have shuttered and production has dropped 77 percent over the same period as aluminum prices plunged in the face of the onslaught from China. The U.S. share of the global market has dropped from a world-beating 16 percent in 2000 to less than 2 percent last year.

Trump has declined to fulfill his campaign promise to label China a currency manipulator as he leans on the country for help neutralizing the threat posed by North Korea's missile program.

But Ross said the aluminum action should not be seen as an attack on China. “This is not a kind of China-phobic program. This has to do with a global problem,” he said.

Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president the power to restrict imports and impose unlimited tariffs if a Commerce Department investigation finds they threaten national security.

“Section 232 gives Trump the discretion he wants to impose tariffs,” says William Perry, a Seattle trade lawyer who writes the US-China Trade War blog. “Section 232 is the prefect weapon to create a trade war.”

Aluminum-exporting countries might retaliate by imposing tariffs of their own on U.S. products, warned the law firm White & Case, which put out a report in January on the president's legal powers to restrict foreign trade. About 60 percent of U.S. aluminum imports come from Canada, which has been forced out of other markets by competition from China.

“Citing a threat to national security gives them a way they can impose tariffs, arguably, without violating WTO rules,” said Amanda DeBusk, a partner and trade specialist at the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed. The World Trade Organization “lets countries define what they believe is in their national security interest.”

On Wall Street, aluminum company stocks rose in anticipation of the news. Century Aluminum shares shot up 8.7 percent and Kaiser Aluminum shares rose 2.6 percent.

Ross said the move was part of Trump fulfilling his campaign promise to crack down on trade abuses.

“It's no doubt that you remember during the campaign, the president announced that he was going to be tougher on trade,” he said. “He announced that he was going to renegotiate existing agreements. He announced that he was going to do his best to bring jobs back to America. So this follows quite logically with him following through on his campaign promises.”


Reactor in China may be key to Westinghouse's future

By Bloomberg News

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 6:06 p.m.


The start-up of a nuclear power plant south of Shanghai later this year has a lot riding on it.

It'll be the first to use a new reactor designed by Westinghouse Electric Co., and its success is critical for the embattled company's future. Development of the same AP1000 model has been disastrous for the firm in the United States, leading to bankruptcy and doubts over the future of its owner, Japan's Toshiba Corp.

If all goes smoothly at the Sanmen facility, the Chinese could unleash a wave of approvals for new reactors. South Africa, India, Mexico and the Czech Republic are among other countries also considering the design, and are more likely to adopt it once China has taken the first, crucial step. That will boost the allure of Westinghouse should it be sold in the restructuring.

“Sanmen AP1000 is a showcase to the worldwide nuclear power industry, and its success will probably trigger a new round of construction,” said Shi Yan, a Shanghai-based utilities analyst at UOB Kay Hian Holdings. “Everyone wants to build AP1000 reactors, but very few want to be the first building it.”

The reactor is the culmination of decades of research and development at Pennsylvania-based Westinghouse, one of the oldest and most-respected reactor builders. It's simpler design and safety features are meant to avoid the type of meltdown Japan suffered in 2011. And it's the only current-generation reactor cleared by U.S. and U.K. regulators, a selling point for countries such as Mexico that say they won't build a reactor unless it's been cleared by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

But it's also taken Westinghouse, and its parent, to the brink of disaster. The company filed for bankruptcy last month amid cost overruns and delays related to the construction of four of the units in the U.S., which led to a $6.3 billion writedown at Toshiba.

Amid mounting speculation Westinghouse will be put up for sale, the company this week is due to decide on whether to continue with the projects in Georgia and South Carolina.

The Sanmen project in China's Zhejiang province has not been without challenges. It was scheduled to begin in 2013, but was delayed due to design problems, supply-chain bottlenecks and stricter safety measures after the Fukushima disaster.

It's now slated to start by the end of the year and Westinghouse's bankruptcy won't have a material impact, China's State Power Investment Corp., the lead developer, said last month. SPIC didn't respond to requests for comment this week. Fuel will be loaded into the reactor this summer and it's expected to come online this year, Westinghouse said Wednesday.

China's waiting for Sanmen to confirm that the AP1000 is safe and economical before going “all in” with more approvals, according to Shi Yan. The nation has 21 reactors under construction, of which four are AP1000s, according to data compiled by the World Nuclear Association. More than half of the 41 further planned units are pegged to be AP1000s, WNA data shows.

Once challenges associated with building the first-of-a-kind are overcome, the reactors will be cheaper, faster and more efficient to construct, according to Daniel Poneman, a former U.S. deputy energy secretary.

Potential customers realize “that this is the reality of building new reactors after a long hiatus,” Poneman said in an interview in Tokyo.

While the cost overruns in the U.S. are worrisome, they were triggered by the binding financial agreements on the project's expected cost, not flaws in the reactor design, according Phumzile Tshelane, chief executive officer at South African Nuclear Energy Corp., which is considering AP1000s for as many as eight reactors. The country can avoid construction risks by letting someone else to be the first to successfully build one, he said in an interview in Tokyo.

“The AP1000 design is a good design and I'm confident that the four plants under construction will be built,” said Trevor Cook, a nuclear engineer in the U.S. Energy Department's Office of Nuclear Energy, according to Bloomberg BNA. “Unfortunately, the builder was not as experienced and didn't have the people there to get the job done quickly and on schedule, and that led to the problems today.”

Westinghouse announced in February that it would no longer build nuclear reactors, focusing instead on selling designs. The company aims to pursue international projects without taking on construction risk, according to spokeswoman Sarah Cassella. It had 37 new AP1000 projects planned through the year ending March 2031, including in India, the U.K. and Turkey, it said in a presentation last year.

The AP1000 is one of a few reactors in the world to use a fully-passive system, meaning the core can cool itself without electricity or human interaction for 72 hours. That may avoid a disaster like the meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, which occurred when a loss of power left the reactor cores exposed.

India aims to build six AP1000s, and is currently in negotiations with Westinghouse, according to Satish Kumar Sharma, chairman and managing director of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India. Westinghouse is among suppliers Czech Republic is meeting for its Dukovany facility, according to Lenka Kovacovska, deputy minister for energy at the country's industry and trade ministry.

“We will need to wait to see what happens with Westinghouse and Toshiba, but of course the design is very good,” said Alejandro Huerta, deputy director general for nuclear policy at Mexico's Ministry of Energy, which is considering the AP1000 for three units. “We don't want to be the first-of-a-kind. We don't want to have construction delays as we have seen in other projects.”


Ford first quarter profits fall 35 percent
Nudge higher for stocks enough to push Nasdaq to record

By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 5:06 p.m.


NEW YORK — U.S. stock indexes fluttered up and down Thursday, then ended the day a hair above where they started. The slight gains were enough to nudge the Nasdaq composite to another record and the Standard & Poor's 500 index to within a whisper of its all-time high.

It was the second straight day where indexes made only modest, meandering moves, a downshift from big gains made early in the week. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.32 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,388.77 and is within a third of a percent of its record.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 6.24 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 20,981.33. The Nasdaq composite rose 23.71, or 0.4 percent, to 6,048.94 and reached a closing high for the third time in four days.

Gains by Under Armour, Comcast and other companies reporting stronger-than-expected profits on Thursday helped to offset a slump in energy stocks. The encouraging reports added to the lengthening list of companies saying they earned more in the first three months of 2017 than Wall Street had forecast. Analysts expect this to be the strongest quarter of growth in years.

The reports have helped lift stocks and temper concerns, at least a bit, that the market had grown too expensive.

“Expectations were high, and they needed to deliver, so thankfully they have delivered,” said Nate Thooft, senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management. “As long as earnings continue to follow through and economic data doesn't roll over materially, stocks can keep going. People will say that valuations are expensive, but I would say, ‘Yeah, but not relative to fixed income.'”

Under Armour jumped to the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after reporting bigger profits than analysts expected. A rise in sales abroad, particularly in Asia, helped push its revenue to $1.12 billion from $1.05 billion in last year's first quarter. The company's A-class shares climbed $1.96, or 9.9 percent, to $21.67.

PayPal Holdings jumped $2.74, or 6.2 percent, to $47.15 after also reporting stronger revenue and earnings than Wall Street had forecast.

Comcast's A shares rose 80 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $39.59 after stronger revenue at theme parks it acquired as part of its NBCUniversal purchase helped it to report stronger first-quarter results than analysts expected.

Even some of the day's losers reported better-than-expected results. American Airlines fell $2.42, or 5.2 percent, to $43.98, for example. Investors were paying more attention to its plans to raise pay for pilots and flight attendants, which would erode future profits, than its earnings from the latest quarter.

Energy stocks were also weak, slumping with the price of oil. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 65 cents, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $48.97 per barrel, while Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 38 cents to $51.44 a barrel.

Noble Energy lost $1.59, or 4.7 percent, to $32.57, and offshore-drilling contractor Transocean fell 39 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $11.06.

The incremental moves made by stock indexes the last two days belie the many crosscurrents coursing through the market. Stocks jumped early in the week, in part on relief following the first round of France's presidential election. Results indicate France may not try to break apart from the European Union.

Washington is also a big factor. White House officials unveiled the broad outlines of a tax plan Wednesday, though many specifics are still to be determined. Expectations for lower taxes, plus less regulation for businesses, have helped drive stocks higher since November. A potential shutdown of the federal government also looms unless Congress can agree on a spending bill.

In European stock markets, the French CAC 40 fell 0.3 percent, the German DAX slipped 0.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in London dropped 0.7 percent. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.2 percent, South Korea's Kospi added 0.1 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.5 percent.

The price of gold rose $1.70 to settle at $1,265.90 an ounce, silver slipped 10 cents to $17.27 per ounce and copper fell a penny to $2.58 per pound.

Natural gas slipped 3 cents to settle at $3.24 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil fell 3 cents to $1.51 per gallon and wholesale gasoline dropped 4 cents to $1.55 per gallon.

The euro fell to $1.0882 from $1.0899 late Wednesday while the dollar slipped to 111.23 Japanese yen from 111.38 yen. The British pound rose to $1.2903 from $1.2843.

Treasury yields ticked lower as government bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield edged down to 2.29 percent from 2.30 percent late Wednesday.


Stock indexes wobble as White House unveils tax plan

By The Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 7:18 p.m.


NEW YORK — Stock indexes wobbled between modest gains and losses Wednesday, as the White House unveiled broad outlines of its plan to slash tax rates but left many of the details to be determined.

Anticipation for a big tax cut, along with looser regulations on businesses, have been two of the main drivers behind the stock market's surge since November, when Republicans swept into Washington. The White House delivered a big number Wednesday, when officials said they hope to cut the top corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent.

But many specifics are still to be negotiated, such as how much it will affect the government's budget deficit, and they will need to be hammered out with Congress. That left investors questioning exactly how much benefit will flow through to corporate profits, and how much stock prices should climb beyond what they already have.

“Tax reform will be good, but a lot of that has already been priced into the market,” said David MacEwen, co-chief investment officer for American Century Investments.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped by 1.16 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,387.45. It had briefly climbed above its record closing level of 2,395.96 earlier in the day, only to give up its gains in the last minutes of trading.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 21.03 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,975.09, and the Nasdaq composite slipped 0.27 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 6,025.23. Stocks of smaller companies did better, with the Russell 2000 index of small-caps rising 8.35, or 0.6 percent, to 1,419.43.

Businesses are in the midst of reporting their profits for the first three months of the year.

On the losing end Wednesday was U.S. Steel, which reported a loss for the first quarter and cut its profit forecast for the year. Its stock sank $8.33, or 26.8 percent, to $22.78.


Trump's Ex-Im flip-flop
Laurels & Lances

By Tribune-Review

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


Lance: To denigrating progress. Discussing “gentrification” during a televised April 19 debate, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto declared “East Liberty has become too successful.” No debate panelist pressed him to explain, so we will: Exactly when did once-blighted, now-vibrant East Liberty cross the “too successful” line, Mr. Mayor? And would you prefer to somehow return it to the way it was?

On the “Watch List”: Woodland Hills' new head football coach. A 5-4 school board vote taken before public comment gave high school Principal Kevin Murray, assistant head coach for five years, the top job — despite many calls for firing him as principal. He was disciplined this year after allegedly threatening a 14-year-old special-education student. And the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office is investigating a school altercation between a Churchill police officer and a student, which he allegedly witnessed in part. Why hire a head coach carrying such baggage?

Lance: To muddying corporate-welfare waters. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald initially said incentives helped lure Alcoa's headquarters back to Pittsburgh from New York City. Then the Trib reported Alcoa “received no tax breaks or other government subsides” but the “state, (Allegheny County) and city told Alcoa” they'll work to add “certain flight destinations from Pittsburgh International Airport” — which almost always involves subsidies. So, even if there are no Alcoa-related subsidies now , there still might be.


Alle-Kiski Laurels & Lances

By Tribune-Review

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


Laurel: To Harrison, New Kensington, Arnold and Tarentum officials. The fight against blight may be one of the most important battles fought locally in our aging river towns. These towns are putting their money where their mouths are in terms of code enforcement, razing dangerous buildings and giving their code enforcers the tools they need to succeed. Here's to this attitude spreading across the Alle-Kiski Valley.

On the “Watch list”: Another Route 366 bridge replacement. We're all in favor of replacing decrepit bridges. But if history is any guide to the future, motorists using Greensburg Road better prepare for lengthy delays when traffic is reduced to a single, alternating lane on the busy thoroughfare. And remember: A little patience goes a long way.

Lance: To muddying corporate-welfare waters. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald initially said incentives helped lure Alcoa's headquarters back to Pittsburgh from New York City. Then the Trib reported Alcoa “received no tax breaks or other government subsides” but the “state, (Allegheny County) and city told Alcoa” they'll work to add “certain flight destinations from Pittsburgh International Airport” — which almost always involves subsidies. So, even if there are no Alcoa-related subsidies now, there still might be.


REAL ID compliance: Clock ticking on fix

By Tribune-Review

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


As the clock ticks on Harrisburg's efforts to ensure that Pennsylvanians won't need passports to board even domestic flights come Jan. 22, far more than vacationers' convenience is at stake.

More than 60 percent of 27.7 million passengers passing through Pennsylvania airports in 2016 would have been denied boarding had the U.S. Department of Homeland Security not originally extended the state's REAL ID compliance deadline through January 2017. Those figures come from a letter signed by executives of nine airlines, an airline trade group, FedEx and UPS. They point out that beating this clock matters for business travel, for air-cargo operations that often involve federal facilities that require REAL ID-compliant identification and for generating tax revenue.

With Pennsylvania's current, additional DHS extension closer every day to expiring, Hempfield GOP Sen. Kim Ward's bill to repeal the 2012 state law prohibiting REAL ID compliance has passed the state Senate. But PennDOT says the 2012 law prevents it from discussing compliance, including costs, with DHS, so the repeal bill must become law — pronto — for the overall effort to make real progress.

Indeed, myriad practical details of compliance — including its costs — await resolution. And if the stakes outlined above aren't enough to motivate the necessary steps, the ballot box should be.

If Harrisburg fails to resolve the REAL ID issue before the Jan. 22 deadline, voters must hold its elected denizens — from Gov. Tom Wolf on down — accountable next year.


The Thursday wrap
Assange reveals himself

By Pete Hoekstra

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


The United States soon may have the opportunity to request the extradition of WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange to its shores, which would allow criminal proceedings against him to finally begin.

Given his focused mission to cause momentous damage to the United States by disclosing secret and highly classified information, prosecution would be totally justified.

Let's put this in context.

I am a strong supporter of exposing government corruption and wrongdoing. I also believe whistleblowers are the appropriate mechanism of last resort for accomplishing that goal.

But there's a process whistleblowers must follow. It may not be perfect, but it allows abuses to be identified without compromising national security interests.

Whistleblowers in the intelligence community, including those working in the Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, have such paths outlined in a precise manner.

The process allows for the exposure of corruption while protecting classified information and ensuring that whistleblowers do not face retaliation. This is a balanced approach that protects all parties.

Those who operate outside of the process — Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, the recent leakers at the CIA and those who leaked the information on former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn — are criminals. They broke the law and blatantly ignored the avenues established for whistleblowers.

Manning was accordingly charged and convicted. Snowden, still hiding abroad, should be tried and convicted. The more recent leakers must be too.

These leakers all assumed roles well beyond their job descriptions. They perceived themselves as singularly possessing the authority and the judgment to determine right and wrong and, in turn, jeopardized the security of the country — not to mention their colleagues.

Assange is no different. While he may not have actually physically stolen information, Assange has claimed possession of stolen materials and published them for the world to see. His public comments and actions clearly outline his motives and desire to fundamentally damage the West, the United States in particular.

There will be thousands of pages of legal debate written about Assange. The back-and-forth will focus on whether his actions constitute a new type of news gathering and are thereby sheltered free speech.

They're clearly not, though, and he ought to be tried and found guilty.

Moving forward, Congress must strengthen whistleblower protections, direct our intelligence agencies to better secure sensitive and classified data, and put in place a modern legal framework to prosecute those who leak and make available classified information. These measures will ultimately protect the United States and its citizens from traitors and individuals seeking its demise.

Pete Hoekstra is a senior fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism.


Mon-Fayette Expressway no highway of dreams

By Colin Mcnickle

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


“If you build it, he will come,” the ghostly voice told the fictional Ray Kinsella in 1989's movie classic “Field of Dreams.” Change “he” to “they” and you'll find the nebulous rationale too often employed to justify the building of new toll highways in Pennsylvania.

The latest folly that comes to mind is the apparently scuttled 14-mile Route 43 toll road from Route 51 at Jefferson to Interstate 376 at Monroeville, the northernmost leg of the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission voted last month to table the $2 billion extension on a highway that, if fully completed, would link I-376 to I-68 in West Virginia. A day later, on March 21, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission halted engineering-design activities.

As Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, reminds, the expressway extension has faced growing reservations from planners and pols alike.

The former found the 20-year completion time frame inimical to more immediate transportation needs; the latter were struck by, on prior toll road projects, the disparity between pre-construction use forecasts and the lack of usage once built, the Ph.D. economist says.

But what Haulk finds quite troubling was supporters' use of a study by TRIP, a national transportation research group, that blindly touted the virtues of the expressway's northern extension.

“It is long on claims but short on useful data and analysis,” Haulk says.

Among the TRIP study's deficiencies:

• No data indicating current traffic patterns in the region by type, volumes or how much is through traffic or locally generated.

• No comparative analyses gauging utilization and effects of similar toll-road extensions, such as the existing legs of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, Westmoreland County's Route 66 and the Beaver Valley Expressway.

• No analysis of the types of industries that might come to or expand in the area of the expressway's Monroeville extension.

“But even more problematic for the study's usefulness is the methodology used to project the number of jobs that will develop in the area as a result of the extension's construction,” Haulk says.

Not only does the TRIP study appear to misrepresent another study's supposed existing business and jobs claims, Haulk says TRIP used old statistics and a dubious formula to project future jobs.

Haulk says whatever the merits of the Mon-Fayette Expressway extension from Route 51 to Monroeville might be, the TRIP study has provided no convincing evidence or reporting that would warrant spending many years and billions of dollars to build it.

“This is even more the case if there are efficient and less costly ways to improve transportation through widening existing key routes, traffic pattern improvements, enhancing connectivity with existing major regional arteries and setting up more usable mass transit to serve locally within the area,” Haulk says.

“Putting all the eggs in the (expressway) basket is likely to be disappointing and could preclude efforts to fix urgent needs,” he says.

Put another way, the extension would be no highway of dreams, very likely resulting in more pain than gain.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).


Trump borrows from lame-duck playbook

By Jonah Goldberg

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


One of the (many) things that makes the Trump presidency so hard to read is that the chapters are all out of order.

Traditionally, during the transition period, presidents-elect are out of the limelight. But while Barack Obama was still in the White House, Donald Trump was announcing “deals” and appointments, hitting the ground running to “Make America Great Again.” On the entirely subjective calculus of wins, he probably had more before his inauguration than any president.

Conversely, the first 100 days are supposed to be a time of big domestic legislative achievements. Instead, they've looked more like the lame-duck period of a president's second term.

Once sworn in, rather than get a political honeymoon with the news media, Trump had an angry divorce. And instead of giving Trump a big gift-wrapped box of legislation, Congress has mostly given him the sorts of headaches presidents have to deal with when they've lost their clout.

The White House is touting its raft of executive orders as proof that things are getting done and promises are being kept. That's a fair spin. But it doesn't change the fact that presidents usually turn to executive orders when getting big stuff through Congress is impossible and to prove they still have their mojo.

There's another thing presidents famously do in their second terms, when Congress isn't interested in the president's agenda: retreat to foreign policy. Ronald Reagan concentrated on dealing with the Soviets. Bill Clinton focused on peace negotiations in Northern Ireland and the Middle East. George W. Bush launched the surge in Iraq, gave a shot at Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and ramped up a humanitarian effort to fight AIDS in Africa. Obama's second term was dominated by his obsession with getting a nuclear deal with Iran.

And now Trump is trying the same trick. That's because he's eager for “wins.”

His biggest win to date was the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, which came when he turned to seasoned pros who know how to get things done in Washington, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. His other big win was his missile strike on Syria, for which he also had seasoned pros to thank: Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

That strike, combined with Trump's authorization of a massive bomb drop on an alleged Islamic State compound in Afghanistan, has yielded other apparent foreign policy wins. China seems to be cooperating in his effort to squeeze the North Korean regime. These moves succeeded in sucking some of the oxygen out of the media's feeding frenzy over Russia collusion allegations.

Trump's sudden transformation into a foreign policy president isn't necessarily sinister. Obama's policy of “strategic patience” and “leading from behind” left a lot of low-hanging fruit for Trump to pluck.

But what happens when the list of easy wins runs out? There's little evidence that Trump is operating with a coherent strategic vision, which means that he won't have thought-out criteria for knowing when to say no to the generals he clearly admires. For a true lame-duck president, that may not matter — when the wins run out, he's out of office. For a first-term president who just acts like a lame-duck president, it's another story.

Jonah Goldberg is an editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.


A Gallic Barack Obama
LGBT's intolerance

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


Earlier this month, members of the LGBT community at Duquesne University were disappointed that the university may allow a Chick-fil-A restaurant to be part of the campus and were concerned about their safety if it were allowed. This stems from Chick-fil-A donating to some organizations opposed to gay marriage.

The LGBT community wants Americans to be tolerant of their lifestyle and accept them for who they are. However, the LGBT community is very intolerant of others and wants everyone to think like they do.

LGBT activists also complained about Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of “Fixer Upper” on HGTV, who attend a church that believes in marriage between a man and a woman. This couple did not publicly speak of their beliefs and were only guilty of attending a church that had a different perspective than the LGBT community.

Bill Wilshire

North Huntingdon


Protect clean air

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


I was appalled to read that Pennsylvania has some of the worst air quality in the country. Air pollution causes asthma, respiratory problems and increased risks of heart attacks. It affects our most vulnerable people, the elderly and the young.

I want my two young, active grandsons to be able to play in a clean environment. I do not want to see our country become like China, where people have to wear masks every time they go outside.

President Trump's proposal to roll back protections on clean air and water is the wrong approach. We have spent decades trying to clean things up and the efforts are paying off. Do we really want to go backward?

There is no reason why we can't have jobs as well as a healthy environment. We have the means and technology to solve these problems.

One unhealthy air day is one too many. We must cut our carbon emissions before it is too late.

JoAnn Morse

Forest Hills


VA relies on, needs volunteers

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


Every day, citizens in our community thank veterans by volunteering at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System's facilities in Oakland and O'Hara Township and its five outpatient clinics, including one in Westmoreland County.

Our volunteers vary in age, gender, race, income and education, but all share a patriotic drive to improve veterans' lives.

Last year at VA Pittsburgh, 763 volunteers provided 24,315 hours of service and gave more than $1 million in monetary contributions and donated goods. They drove veterans to appointments, directed them throughout our facilities and visited them bedside so they were not alone in trying times.

National Volunteer Week runs through Saturday. It is a time to recognize and thank today's volunteers for their incredible efforts and inspiring actions. It is also a time to call everyone else in our community to serve those who served us first.

We have as many opportunities to volunteer as there are people willing to give of their time. To learn more about volunteering with us, please call David DiFuccia at 412-822-3096.

Karin L. McGraw

Oakland

The writer is medical center director for the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.


Readers sound off: Trib's coverage of death of suspended Greensburg Salem teacher 'insensitive'
Hypocritical enforcement

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


The lamentations on the evils of gambling, specifically unregulated gambling where players can keep winnings, assuming they win anything, are hypocritical. I'm not berating the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement lawmen, but please, Lt. Jones, do not insult the intelligence of informed citizenry ( “Nine officers, employees of New Kensington's Spartaco Sporting Club arrested” ).

I believe all gambling is wasteful. What is most silly is the comment attributed to state police records, if not Lt. James A. Jones Jr. himself, that complaints included stories of people putting entire paychecks into club gambling machines, leaving them unable to pay rent or buy food. Really? People do throw paychecks, their kids' college funds and retirement money into state-sanctioned venues.

Let's be honest. These officers are not enforcing the law to protect the citizenry. They are doing it to protect the monopoly of Pennsylvania's gambling syndicate.

Let's prevent excessive gambling. For state-sanctioned venues anyway, issue gambling ID cards. Remember the old LCB cards of decades past? Limit gambling to a percentage of one's earned income as reported to the Department of Revenue. If gamblers have no taxable income, they can't gamble at all.

Either outlaw all gambling or end the commonwealth's monopoly on this home-wrecking vice.

John Salsgiver

Bethel Township


Expand spirits outlets

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


The state House Liquor Control Committee recently approved the expansion of the number of outlets allowed to sell spirits in Pennsylvania, which would greatly improve consumer access and convenience. House Bills 438 and 991 allow limited spirits sales in restaurants, similar to wine and beer, and allows partner retail outlets to augment the number of state-run wine and spirits stores.

This is a significant and welcome next step toward modernizing the Pennsylvania market and builds on the momentum of last year's Act 39. Allowing spirits sales in grocery stores, beer retailers and restaurants is a commonsense solution to providing one-stop shopping, while allowing the Liquor Control Board to generate more revenue without raising prices.

By any measure, Pennsylvania spirits consumers are inconvenienced by a lack of outlets. According to an economic analysis by the Distilled Spirits Council, adding 900 spirits outlets would net the state $100 million in additional revenue. Pennsylvania currently has 0.67 spirits outlets per 10,000 population, versus a national average of 3.80.

Allowing businesses that currently sell wine and beer to also sell spirits would net the LCB additional revenue without having the capital burden or risk of opening additional state-run stores. Expanding the number of spirits outlets is a win for the agency, state coffers and, most importantly, for consumers.

David Ozgo

Washington, D.C.

The writer is chief economist for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (discus.org).


It's time again for May Marts
FutureFest celebrates and promotes the Pittsburgh's vision of a sustainable, achievable future

By Candy Williams

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


Joylette Portlock, president of Communitopia, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit dedicated to slowing climate change and creating healthier communities, wants people to embrace the future — and not be afraid of it.

“The problems out there are big and pretty dire,” she says, “but that's not the whole picture. We can be happier, healthier, more productive and fairer if we're thoughtful about solutions.”

Some of those solutions will be the focus of FutureFest, a free, public festival organized by Communitopia that celebrates and promotes the city's vision of a sustainable, achievable future through performances, art, demonstrations, science and hands-on activities for all ages.

The festival, to be held rain or shine April 29 on the front lawn of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens — one of Communitopia's partners in its efforts — is designed to connect people in ways other than fear and guilt, according to Portlock.

“We are working hard to show people that change can be a fun thing rather than a ‘this is what you have to do' thing,” she says. “A big part of what we're trying to do is to engage the community, not just give them a sack of literature that makes them sad.”

FutureFest will give participants opportunities to test-drive an electric bike and check out transportation of tomorrow with an electric vehicle showcase, visit the future through visual art from Creatives 4 Climate, design built spaces with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and Phipps and explore options for renewable energy at home.

Families can meet some of Pittsburgh's change-makers and learn about cool science, paint the future with muralist Bernie Wilke and shop for eco-friendly, locally produced artisan goods.

Attack Theatre will offer an interactive, future-themed performance and Bad Custer, Spacefish, Blak Rapp Madusa and other local artists will provide music.

Food will be provided by Phipps Cafe, and Cool Beans and Randita's Cafe food trucks.

Maria Wheeler-Dubas, science education and research outreach coordinator at Phipps, says the Conservatory will have two booths at FutureFest, featuring an activity related to growing food and healthy eating, and providing information on Phipps' SEED (Sustainable Education Every Day) classroom by the Science Education department.

“Phipps hopes families will feel the exciting possibilities to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle' — the three Rs of conservation,” Wheeler-Dubas says, “and to think of sustainability as not a scary concept, but an exciting future.”

Phipps is offering half-price admission to the conservatory and botanical gardens during the hours of the festival, which is free to the public.

The first FutureFest took place in 2015 at Phipps and attracted an estimated 1,500 people, according to Portlock.

“We were pleased with the turnout, considering when we woke up that morning, it was snowing,” she says. “We are working hard to make this appealing to everybody. We all have a stake in our future — our cities, our foods — and we're trying to reflect that in this event.”

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.


Everything's coming up roses

By Doug Oster

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 12:05 p.m.


The Rose Garden at Renziehausen Park in McKeesport is still a month away from being filled with fabulous blooms, but Georgianna (Georgie) Papale is there to care for the plants, just like she does every Wednesday on “work day,” along with the other volunteers who make this garden special.

It's a spectacular decades-old collection of more than 1,800 roses. Papale has been president of the Pittsburgh Rose Society “forever,” she says with a chuckle. She is dedicated to seeing the garden thrive. The rose society discovered the garden in the late 1980s, transforming it and rebuilding it with the help of the Garden Club of McKeesport and many other volunteers.

This is the perfect time to plant roses and just about anyone can grow them. “They can be fussy,” she says, “but it's not that bad, every plant is fussy.”

The first thing is to find the right spot.

“They'll do best with at least six hours of sun,” she says. “Dig a nice deep hole, a couple feet deep and supplement the soil with a mixture of compost and good soil,”

The hole should have good drainage too.

Newly planted roses and existing plants should be mulched and fertilized in the spring. At the park, they are using alfalfa pellets, as they give the plants the nitrogen they need to get started and they're inexpensive. Rosetone, she says, is a fantastic commercial product to use throughout the season. Papale recommends about a half cup around the bush every month.

All the plants here have been pruned to promote healthy growth and more blooms.

“They like to be cut back,” she says. “You want to clear out any dead growth. Roses do best when they have some air circulation through them, and it gives them a fresh start.”

The canes are cut back until the gardener sees good wood. That means observing white in the center of the cane.

Roses can be susceptible to fungal issues, there's an organic fungicide called Serenade that will combat those diseases. It should be applied once a week, she says.

When pressed to pick a favorite, Papale usually says, “the rose I happen to be looking at.” But after thinking for a while she picks one. “I love ‘Elina.' It's a pale yellow rose that blooms prolifically. I think it's a rose that everyone should have in their garden, it's beautiful.”

For years, she's watched visitors react to the fragrance and beauty of the thousands of blooms in the garden. “I think they are amazed at the roses,” she says. “Every time I look at a rose, it's like I'm looking at if for the first time.”

Michael Marriott is head rosarian for David Austin Roses, a company that breeds roses that look like old-fashioned varieties, but have modern features like repeat blooming and disease resistance. Its roses are available locally at garden centers and nurseries and online.

He's always loved plants, inspired by his parents and actually took over his grandparents' garden as a child. He didn't get into roses until later and has spent more than 30 years caring for them at the company.

In the 1950s, David Austin started hybridizing roses as a hobby in his teenage years. He wasn't impressed by the hybrid tea roses of the day and discovered old roses from a book by Edward Bunyard, which was a gift from Austin's sister.

He bought and planted some, but soon discovered their limitations. The varieties would only bloom once in a season and have a narrow color range.

“That's when the lightbulb went off in his head,” Marriott says. Austin decided to take the old varieties and cross them with newer types. “A plant that would have the beauty, the charm, the fragrance of the old roses and the wide color range and the repeat flowering of the modern roses,” Marriott adds.

Austin, 91, still is breeding roses in the same way, his varieties are often referred to as English roses. There is something about the flowers that are captivating. “He chooses his new varieties on beauty,” Marriott says proudly.

Sure, repeat blooming, informal style, fragrant and disease resistance is great, but the flowers are everything.

“I think that's the real secret of why his roses have been so successful,” Marriott says.

Marriott spends many of his days evaluating the aroma of the roses. “People say a rose is only half a rose if it doesn't have a fragrance,” he says. “The first thing you do when you see a rose is stick your nose in it, and if there's nothing there, you're a bit disappointed really.

“No two ever smell exactly the same,” he says. “It's a never-ending delight. It has this ability to excite you, raise your spirits and at the same time calm you down. It is magical.”

One of his favorites is ‘Gertrude Jekyll,' named for the famous English gardener and author. “Who could get tired of ‘Gertrude Jekyll'? When that starts flowering I reckon that summer has finally arrived because it has such a beautiful flower and wonderful fragrance,” he says.

‘Buttercup' has yellow semi-double flowers that's another variety he prizes for its fragrance. “It's totally delightful, I can never tire of it,” Marriott says. He describes the aroma as similar to orange blossoms then changing to cocoa powder as the flower ages.

‘Desdemona' is a newly released rose with pink buds that open to pure white flowers. It blooms early and repeats quickly. “It's the best white rose there is really,” he says.

Marriott has been under the spell of roses for more than three decades and hopes other gardeners will fall for them, too. “I think it just gives you great pleasure,” Marriott says. “It's as simple as that. Why do you have a garden — to give you delight.”

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.


Westmoreland colleges compete in Food Bank Campus Challenge

By Shirley McMarlin

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:56 a.m.


A lot of things get thrown out of dorm rooms at the end of spring semester, but what concerned Brian Root was that food was going to waste.

So in 2009, Root, the assistant director of housing and residence life at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, worked with the Westmoreland County Food Bank to establish the annual Campus Challenge food drive that takes place during the last two weeks of the school year on area campuses.

“The first year, we had Pitt-Greensburg, St. Vincent (College) and Seton Hill (University) on board,” Root says. Westmoreland County Community College joined soon after and this year, for the first time, Penn State New Kensington also signed on.

“We want to take advantage of that move-out time,” Root says. “Students who are moving out have nonperishables that they don't have an interest in taking home, but that can still go to good use.”

Residence hall staffs and student organizations coordinate the drives at each school. They get the word out via posters and set up bins in strategic locations around campus.

At St. Vincent, they take it a step further with “Storm the Dorm,” says junior Cheyenne Dunbar, who coordinates the drive through the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society.

Dorm residents are told in advance when honor society members will be knocking on doors in all six residence halls to collect donations.

Dunbar says students often are waiting at their doors with bags of food and other items, such as clothing that will be given to needy families or the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Proximity to New Kensington and Arnold, which have several of the poorest census areas in Westmoreland County, factored into the Penn State campus joining the drive, says Corinne Coulson, assistant director of enrollment management and adviser to Lion Ambassadors, the campus community service organization in charge of their collection.

“This is a great way to help our county and local area directly,” Coulson says.

“This drive helps over 7,000 households feed their families throughout the next few months. The food is brought into the warehouse and sorted for food safety purposes and then repacked and sent out to our network of over 40 food pantries throughout Westmoreland County,” says Jennifer Miller, director of development for the food bank. “This donated food is added to a planned food box and is an extra added bonus to what they would be receiving.”

Root says that, in 2016, the friendly competition resulted in these food totals: Pitt-Greensburg, 1,180 pounds; Seton Hill, 915 pounds; St. Vincent, 399 pounds; and WCCC, 170 pounds.

“Since we started the Campus Challenge in 2009, Pitt-Greensburg has contributed 8,239 pounds of food to the Westmoreland County Food Bank,” Root says. “It's a simple concept, but we've been blown away by the response.”

“I told our resident directors this year that our main goal obviously is to get food to people who need it, but also to strive to be as successful as Pitt-Greensburg,” says Jenna Konyak, assistant director for residence life at Seton Hill. “The main value of Seton Hill University is service and giving back to the community, so the students have that instilled in them.”

“The students can gain the sense of knowing that because of their donation, no matter how big or how small, that a child will not have to know the anguish of hunger, will not have to know the fear of being food insecure,” Miller says. “Parents will not have to worry about how they are feeding their children, and they will be able to have proper nourishment themselves as well.

“With funding cuts coming at us from all different levels, food drives become an imperative part of what we do, especially this time of year.”

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.


'Steel City Rehab' to follow Pittsburgh house flippers; debuts Sunday
Spice Affair fills a void with delightful Indian food

By Mary Ann Thomas

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


A Fox Chapel graduate is carrying on his family's traditional Indian cuisine at the Spice Affair in Aspinwall.

The owner, Harprett Pabla, 35, of Indiana Township fills a void where there are large Indian populations in the Fox Chapel School District and Hampton.

His family owns People's Indian Restaurant on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh's Bloomfield neighborhood.

For Pabla, his venture is distinctive in a sea of gourmet American bistros. Indeed, the Indian restaurant adds much needed diversity to the culinary offerings at the gateway of Pittsburgh's North Hills.

“The other restaurants have more of a competition among each other,” he says. “For us, if people are sick of burgers and pasta, come here.”

In the heart of Aspinwall's business district, Spice Affair's Brilliant Avenue address, previously home to Franco's and Luma, offers one of best positioned porches for outdoor dining, which will no doubt be a summer destination when a mango lassi ($3), a bright and sweet yogurt elixir, will hit the spot.

Spice Affair offers an expansive menu with vegetarian and non-vegetarian entrees.

Of course, a great way to sample the variety of the richly spiced and fragrant cuisine is to dine during the restaurant's daily lunch buffet, running from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

But a leisurely dinner is also a good way to go we recently found. The more than 120 moderately priced menu items allow for extra side dishes.

The vegetable platter ($9) appetizer offered a variety of taste sensations, from the crispy fried samosa stuffed with a savory potato and pea filling to pakoras, fritters made with spiced potatoes or peppers or vegetables. The hearty choice requires you to assess your capacity to make it to the main entree.

The Tandoori breads are varied as well, from onion to garlic to paneer, a homemade cheese stuffing, as well as nut, meat and green chili stuffings.

The Tandoori chicken half ($11) is served with a generous portion of onion and green peppers with that familiar spicy and salty undercurrent bathed in that vibrant crimson color.

The mushroom mattar ($10), with long-grain basmati rice, features green peas and mushrooms cooked in a mild curry sauce. The entree was smooth and nicely balanced with the earthy mushroom flavor not overtaken by the spicy sauce.

The grated coconut sauce of the fish malabari ($14) nicely tamed the chunks of boneless salmon in a flavorful thick sauce, perfect over rice or with naan.

If you are aching for Indian food but can't get out, delivery is available within a 3-mile radius. Spice Affair does not have a bar, but BYOB is welcome.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer.


Dancing Gnome Brewery embraces trend toward turbid beers

By Chris Fleisher

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Last July, an older man who happened to be a dead ringer for the actor Tommy Lee Jones stopped into the Dancing Gnome Brewery and couldn't seem to stop insulting the beer.

“He just was railing on how it was super yeasty and it was very, really had tannic character to it, yeast bite,” recalls Andrew Witchey, the owner and brewer at Dancing Gnome in Sharpsburg. “And I was like, the beautiful thing about beer, man, is you don't have to like mine. I don't expect you to, but I 100 percent promise you that that is a bias on your side and not what you're tasting.”

Witchey makes cloudy beers. Intentionally. And if he sounds a little defensive, it's because that experience last July wasn't the only time he's had to defend himself against what he perceives as unfair criticism. I don't know if you could call turbid beers a “style,” but it's certainly an emerging trend that is dividing the craft beer world.

Here's the thing: Witchey's “ugly” beers aren't going away. In fact, he and many other brewers (including Braddock's Brew Gentlemen ) have staked their fortunes on convincing even the snobbiest of drinkers to embrace their murky pale ales and IPAs.

Most people by now are familiar with hazy hefeweizens and wheat beers, which started going mainstream in America back in the 1990s with brands like Harpoon's UFO.

The trend toward turbid beers is something different.

You may have heard the term “New England IPA,” a reference to a style pioneered by Vermont brewers such as The Alchemist (owned by Gibsonia-native John Kimmich, who makes the world class “Heady Topper”) and Hill Farmstead , which are known for producing intensely aromatic hop-forward beers that are also softer on the palate and do not bring the bitter punch of 100+ IBUs like some West Coast IPAs.

I lived in New Hampshire for nearly a decade and enjoyed some of these delicious New England beers before many people outside the region had a name for them. And I don't recall that anybody seemed to mind or notice that they were cloudy. Heady Topper's success helped establish their legitimacy, but even then I think Kimmich was a bit hesitant to have consumers examine his beer in a clear glass. His pint-sized silver bullets of hop juice implored drinkers to “Drink From the Can,” which he argued was to preserve the flavor. I actually believe it was also about keeping novice drinkers from seeing how ugly it was, lest they be frightened by the chunks of hops floating in their glass like jellyfish.

It wasn't until I left New England that I realized how many people still had hang-ups about clarity. And to be fair, they had good reason to be skeptical.

Beer can be cloudy for a number of reasons, among them that the yeast is still in suspension. Generally, that's not a good thing, and can lend a harsh bitterness or fatty aspect that most of us find off-putting, if not repulsive. It's a sign that an impatient — or inexperienced — brewer packaged the beer before the yeast had finished its job.

Then there is haze caused by proteins contributed by non-malt adjuncts like wheat, oats and rye.

That is what is at the center of this latest turbid beer trend and is the foundation for Dancing Gnome's approach to the craft. Witchey uses a lot of oats and wheat, sometimes accounting for 30 percent of the grain.

“I think it's a more approachable style,” Witchey says. “You can have hop heads still say this is an IPA and it has a ton of hops in it, but you can have people who are hop averse in their minds come in and have it and say, ‘Oh, this is really good.' ”

There's some debate about what the addition of wheat and oats contribute to hop-forward beers. Generally, those grains can soften the mouthfeel to dial back the harsh astringency created by the hops. They also help with head retention, which may help “push” the hop aromas out of the glass and make the beer smell more lively.

And yet, it remains a divisive issue in craft beer. For proof, just check out the review on BeerAdvocate for “Hop Hands,” a pale ale from Tired Hands Brewing Co. in Eastern Pennsylvania.

This sessionable 5.5 percent hop-forward pale ale earned a score of 91, considered “outstanding,” from the collective reviews by Beer Advocate contributors. The guys who run the website, known as the Alstrom Brothers, tore it to shreds, giving it a “poor” score of 64.

“(E)xtremely cloudy and a mess to say the least,” they wrote. “Staff at the pub should not be pouring it. Milkshake beers are not a trend or acceptable with traditional or even modern styles.”

Witchey couldn't disagree more.

“I love Tired Hands, it's one of my favorites now,” he says. “And Hop Hands especially, just a straight crusher of a beer. Here's this great brewery that people all over the place know about and want to seek out and those guys want to tear it down.”

There are always going to be “those guys.” And it's perfectly legitimate to use a beer's appearance to evaluate the skills of the brewer. But at what point should that prevail over what we taste?

Even Witchey has his limits for how cloudy a beer can be. An early version of Dancing Gnome's “Jam,” a red ale, looked like it had been tapped from a sewer pipe. Witchey says even he couldn't get past the appearance.

“I still want to look at a beer and be like, man, that's a beautiful beer.”

Standards for beauty change. Most of the time, when Witchey looks at one of his turbid beers, he sees something beautiful. Perhaps, one day, Tommy Lee Jones' doppelganger will see the same.

Chris Fleisher has a turbid beer on tap in his basement and, no, he did not tap the sewer pipe. He believes it to be a thing of beauty. Follow him on Twitter @brewsreporter.


Spot birds of prey from your bike

By Mary Ann Thomas

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Cue the bald eagle.

The Steel Valley Trail Council is sponsoring the Raptor Row Ride on April 29, which is likely Pittsburgh's first-ever bike event spotlighting the nests of the region's birds of prey.

The off-road trail ride features stops at the nests of the Pittsburgh Hays bald eagles, ospreys, red-tailed hawks, American Kestrels, and a rescued live owl from the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center.

The 13.5-mile bike ride traverses the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and the Steel Valley Trail, which are segments of the Great Allegheny Passage. The route will follow the banks of the Monongahela River from Hays to McKeesport.

To help cyclists actually see the raptor nests without lugging around binoculars and scopes, the Three Rivers Birding Club, the National Aviary and local photographers will be stationed at the nest sites with optics and a guide to where the birds are.

Roy Bires, 68, of Swissvale, organized the inaugural ride to give the public a chance to see the raptor nests.

Bires was one of the several observers, including a National Aviary ornithologist and a Tribune-Review reporter, to witness the hatch of the Hays bald eagles' first chick in 2013, the formerly endangered birds' first young in the city in more than 150 years.

Bires has been an avid chronicler of the Hays eagles and other local birds of prey ever since.

Last year, he counted 10 newly hatched young raptors — bald eagle, osprey, great-horned owl and red-tailed hawk — within only a 6-mile section of the trail.

“We thought the ride would be a celebration of the success of those birds,” he says.

However, given that birds operate on their own schedule, there is no guarantee that cyclists will see all of the raptors.

Cyclists also will be given an opportunity to spot the recent handiwork of some beavers who have whittled down some young trees along the Monongahela.

Bires is expecting at least 80 riders who will travel in groups staggered throughout the morning.

The ride to all four of the 2016 nest sites is about 13.5 miles round trip on a mostly level paved surface. There will be an optional extension of the ride to a new kestrel nest site in McKeesport, making for an 18 mile round trip. Or riders can take a 4-mile route to just see the bald eagles

Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Steel Valley Trail Council, which is responsible for maintaining the portion of the Great Allegheny Passage from the end of the Sandcastle Waterpark parking lot through the Waterfront in Homestead, past Kennywood into McKeesport as well the connector to Clairton.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or on twitter @MaThomas_Trib


Got a hankering for a snack? It's only a quick click away
Dining News: Bull River Taco opens in Baldwin

By Tribune-Review

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Bull River Taco

Bull River Taco has opened a new location at 4849 Clairton Blvd., Baldwin. The eatery offers chicken, pork, beef and veggie tacos as well as nachos, chips and salsa and more.

Bull River also has a location in Westmoreland Mall in Hempfield.

Details: 412-885-9000 or bullrivertaco.com

Mother's Day brunch

Habitat, located at Fairmont Pittsburgh, 510 Market St., Pittsburgh, will host Mother's Day brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 14.

Executive chef Jason Dalling has prepared a seasonal brunch menu of breakfast dishes, spring-inspired salads and sides, carving stations and petite entrees. A dessert buffet crafted by pastry chef James Wroblewski and his team will feature select recipes inspired by their moms.

Live music by the Daniel May Trio will accompany the festivities.

Cost is $79 per person, half price for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children age 5 and under.

Details: 412-773-8848 or habitatrestaurant.com

Suds in the Strip

Osteria 2350, at 2350 Railroad St. in the Strip District, will host its next installment of Suds in the Strip series with a five-course tasting dinner featuring Dogfish Head Brewing Co. from 6 to 9 p.m. May 24.

Cost is $65 with optional $15 wine pairing per person plus tax and gratuity.

Details: 412-281-3090 or cioppinogroup.com

Couch Brewery

Couch Brewery is opening April 29, at 1351 Washington Blvd., Larimer.

The brewery features a selection of regular offerings such as the Recliner Stout with amarillo hops, Plush Pale Ale with hint of peach and Blonde Shag with Sorachi Ace hops, in addition to rotating seasonal selections. Customers can enjoy them in a laid-back, living room-style space.

Details: couchbrewery.com

Send Dining News to tribliving.com


Fashion FYI

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:39 p.m.


See more clearly

Optometrist Dr. Richard Lappen presents his 14th annual Sun-Sational Sun Glass Event & Designer trunk show at 1821 Jefferson St., Greensburg from 4 to 8 p.m. May 4 and 11. This is an opportunity to peruse sunglasses by well-known designer names such as Tiffany & Co., Persol, Prada, Ray-Ban, Burberry, Tory Burch, Dior, Gucci, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Boss and Carrera. Receive 40 percent off of sun wear during show days. Enjoy snacks and beverages, as well as a chance to win a prize valued at $300.

Details: 724-837-5350

Trunk shows

• The Four Winds Gallery, 5512 Walnut St., Shadyside is having a Kristen Dorsey Designs trunk show May 5 and 6. Dorsey will be debuting the Hatchet Women Collection as well as giving a demonstration of her ancient jewelry technique. This collection tells the story of how Chickasaw women defended their villages from the French in the 1730s. There will be a cocktail reception from 6 to 8 p.m. May 5 and a personal appearance and sculptural jewelry demonstration from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 6. Details: kristendorseydesigns.com

• Larrimor's, 249 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, is having To Boot New York shoes, Good Man Brand clothing and Randolph Engineering eye wear trunk shows from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 4 to 6. Meet David Bond of To Boot New York and Chris Findley of Good Man Brand. Details: 412-471-5727 or larrimors.com

Class time

Glam Earth Natural & Organic Beauty Boutique, 218 E. Main St., Carnegie is having a contour workshop at 1 p.m. April 29. Learn how to define your jawline, fake a slimmer nose or enhance your cheekbones.

Cost is $20. Details: 412-932-5644 or glamearth.biz

Pendant making

Pittsburgh Glass Center, 5472 Penn Ave., Friendship/Garfield area, is having a class on making compression pendants from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29. In this workshop you will use a torch to melt glass rods and combine colors to make pendants that look like an explosion of color.

Cost is $140. Details: 412-365-2145 or pittsburghglasscenter.org

Get dolled up

La Pomponnee in Mt. Lebanon is celebrating its 25th anniversary from 6 to 10 p.m. May 4 with Get Dolled Up, an evening of fashion and fun at Bella Sera, 414 Morganza Road, Canonsburg. The event, which includes a runway show, benefits Dress for Success Pittsburgh, which empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help them thrive in the workplace.

Tickets are $50. Details: 412-563-3990 or lapomponnee.com

Do the Derby

Savoy restaurant, 2623 Penn Ave., Strip District, is having a Do the Derby event from 3 to 7 p.m. May 6. Attendees are invited to wear Kentucky Derby-style hats, seersucker suits and sundresses. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Macedonia F.A.C.E. Family & Community Enrichment Center, a faith-based nonprofit community outreach of Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh with a mission to address disparities that impact the African-American family.

Tickets are $25, $20 in advance. Details: 412-281-0660 or savoypgh.com

Bridal show

The fifth annual Pittsburgh South Asian Bridal Show is from 1 to 6 p.m. April 30 at the Westin Convention Center, 1000 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh. There will be a runway event at 2 p.m. Organized by Divine Celebrations, more than 50 vendors will be available to help plan your big day.

Tickets are $5. Details: pghsabridal.com

— Staff reports

Send fashion news to tribliving@tribweb.com.


Spot birds of prey from your bike

By Mary Ann Thomas

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Cue the bald eagle.

The Steel Valley Trail Council is sponsoring the Raptor Row Ride on April 29, which is likely Pittsburgh's first-ever bike event spotlighting the nests of the region's birds of prey.

The off-road trail ride features stops at the nests of the Pittsburgh Hays bald eagles, ospreys, red-tailed hawks, American Kestrels, and a rescued live owl from the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center.

The 13.5-mile bike ride traverses the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and the Steel Valley Trail, which are segments of the Great Allegheny Passage. The route will follow the banks of the Monongahela River from Hays to McKeesport.

To help cyclists actually see the raptor nests without lugging around binoculars and scopes, the Three Rivers Birding Club, the National Aviary and local photographers will be stationed at the nest sites with optics and a guide to where the birds are.

Roy Bires, 68, of Swissvale, organized the inaugural ride to give the public a chance to see the raptor nests.

Bires was one of the several observers, including a National Aviary ornithologist and a Tribune-Review reporter, to witness the hatch of the Hays bald eagles' first chick in 2013, the formerly endangered birds' first young in the city in more than 150 years.

Bires has been an avid chronicler of the Hays eagles and other local birds of prey ever since.

Last year, he counted 10 newly hatched young raptors — bald eagle, osprey, great-horned owl and red-tailed hawk — within only a 6-mile section of the trail.

“We thought the ride would be a celebration of the success of those birds,” he says.

However, given that birds operate on their own schedule, there is no guarantee that cyclists will see all of the raptors.

Cyclists also will be given an opportunity to spot the recent handiwork of some beavers who have whittled down some young trees along the Monongahela.

Bires is expecting at least 80 riders who will travel in groups staggered throughout the morning.

The ride to all four of the 2016 nest sites is about 13.5 miles round trip on a mostly level paved surface. There will be an optional extension of the ride to a new kestrel nest site in McKeesport, making for an 18 mile round trip. Or riders can take a 4-mile route to just see the bald eagles

Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Steel Valley Trail Council, which is responsible for maintaining the portion of the Great Allegheny Passage from the end of the Sandcastle Waterpark parking lot through the Waterfront in Homestead, past Kennywood into McKeesport as well the connector to Clairton.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or on twitter @MaThomas_Trib


New eateries energize life Downtown
Spice Affair fills a void with delightful Indian food

By Mary Ann Thomas

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


A Fox Chapel graduate is carrying on his family's traditional Indian cuisine at the Spice Affair in Aspinwall.

The owner, Harprett Pabla, 35, of Indiana Township fills a void where there are large Indian populations in the Fox Chapel School District and Hampton.

His family owns People's Indian Restaurant on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh's Bloomfield neighborhood.

For Pabla, his venture is distinctive in a sea of gourmet American bistros. Indeed, the Indian restaurant adds much needed diversity to the culinary offerings at the gateway of Pittsburgh's North Hills.

“The other restaurants have more of a competition among each other,” he says. “For us, if people are sick of burgers and pasta, come here.”

In the heart of Aspinwall's business district, Spice Affair's Brilliant Avenue address, previously home to Franco's and Luma, offers one of best positioned porches for outdoor dining, which will no doubt be a summer destination when a mango lassi ($3), a bright and sweet yogurt elixir, will hit the spot.

Spice Affair offers an expansive menu with vegetarian and non-vegetarian entrees.

Of course, a great way to sample the variety of the richly spiced and fragrant cuisine is to dine during the restaurant's daily lunch buffet, running from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

But a leisurely dinner is also a good way to go we recently found. The more than 120 moderately priced menu items allow for extra side dishes.

The vegetable platter ($9) appetizer offered a variety of taste sensations, from the crispy fried samosa stuffed with a savory potato and pea filling to pakoras, fritters made with spiced potatoes or peppers or vegetables. The hearty choice requires you to assess your capacity to make it to the main entree.

The Tandoori breads are varied as well, from onion to garlic to paneer, a homemade cheese stuffing, as well as nut, meat and green chili stuffings.

The Tandoori chicken half ($11) is served with a generous portion of onion and green peppers with that familiar spicy and salty undercurrent bathed in that vibrant crimson color.

The mushroom mattar ($10), with long-grain basmati rice, features green peas and mushrooms cooked in a mild curry sauce. The entree was smooth and nicely balanced with the earthy mushroom flavor not overtaken by the spicy sauce.

The grated coconut sauce of the fish malabari ($14) nicely tamed the chunks of boneless salmon in a flavorful thick sauce, perfect over rice or with naan.

If you are aching for Indian food but can't get out, delivery is available within a 3-mile radius. Spice Affair does not have a bar, but BYOB is welcome.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer.


National Pretzel Day is big for Pennsylvania

By WPXI

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 9:03 a.m.


Happy National Pretzel Day!

National Pretzel Day was first recognized in 2003, according to Tribune-Review news partner WPXI-TV. Gov. Ed Rendell wanted to acknowledge the importance of the snack to the state's history.

Pretzels were introduced to North America by Dutch immigrants and Pennsylvania is still integral to the American pretzel industry, 80 percent of U.S. manufacturers are based here.

Early pretzels were soft and doughy. Bakers started making hard pretzels because they lasted longer on shelves.

Making soft pretzels at home can be a fun recipe with kids. Get the recipe and some tips here.


Dancing Gnome Brewery embraces trend toward turbid beers

By Chris Fleisher

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Last July, an older man who happened to be a dead ringer for the actor Tommy Lee Jones stopped into the Dancing Gnome Brewery and couldn't seem to stop insulting the beer.

“He just was railing on how it was super yeasty and it was very, really had tannic character to it, yeast bite,” recalls Andrew Witchey, the owner and brewer at Dancing Gnome in Sharpsburg. “And I was like, the beautiful thing about beer, man, is you don't have to like mine. I don't expect you to, but I 100 percent promise you that that is a bias on your side and not what you're tasting.”

Witchey makes cloudy beers. Intentionally. And if he sounds a little defensive, it's because that experience last July wasn't the only time he's had to defend himself against what he perceives as unfair criticism. I don't know if you could call turbid beers a “style,” but it's certainly an emerging trend that is dividing the craft beer world.

Here's the thing: Witchey's “ugly” beers aren't going away. In fact, he and many other brewers (including Braddock's Brew Gentlemen ) have staked their fortunes on convincing even the snobbiest of drinkers to embrace their murky pale ales and IPAs.

Most people by now are familiar with hazy hefeweizens and wheat beers, which started going mainstream in America back in the 1990s with brands like Harpoon's UFO.

The trend toward turbid beers is something different.

You may have heard the term “New England IPA,” a reference to a style pioneered by Vermont brewers such as The Alchemist (owned by Gibsonia-native John Kimmich, who makes the world class “Heady Topper”) and Hill Farmstead , which are known for producing intensely aromatic hop-forward beers that are also softer on the palate and do not bring the bitter punch of 100+ IBUs like some West Coast IPAs.

I lived in New Hampshire for nearly a decade and enjoyed some of these delicious New England beers before many people outside the region had a name for them. And I don't recall that anybody seemed to mind or notice that they were cloudy. Heady Topper's success helped establish their legitimacy, but even then I think Kimmich was a bit hesitant to have consumers examine his beer in a clear glass. His pint-sized silver bullets of hop juice implored drinkers to “Drink From the Can,” which he argued was to preserve the flavor. I actually believe it was also about keeping novice drinkers from seeing how ugly it was, lest they be frightened by the chunks of hops floating in their glass like jellyfish.

It wasn't until I left New England that I realized how many people still had hang-ups about clarity. And to be fair, they had good reason to be skeptical.

Beer can be cloudy for a number of reasons, among them that the yeast is still in suspension. Generally, that's not a good thing, and can lend a harsh bitterness or fatty aspect that most of us find off-putting, if not repulsive. It's a sign that an impatient — or inexperienced — brewer packaged the beer before the yeast had finished its job.

Then there is haze caused by proteins contributed by non-malt adjuncts like wheat, oats and rye.

That is what is at the center of this latest turbid beer trend and is the foundation for Dancing Gnome's approach to the craft. Witchey uses a lot of oats and wheat, sometimes accounting for 30 percent of the grain.

“I think it's a more approachable style,” Witchey says. “You can have hop heads still say this is an IPA and it has a ton of hops in it, but you can have people who are hop averse in their minds come in and have it and say, ‘Oh, this is really good.' ”

There's some debate about what the addition of wheat and oats contribute to hop-forward beers. Generally, those grains can soften the mouthfeel to dial back the harsh astringency created by the hops. They also help with head retention, which may help “push” the hop aromas out of the glass and make the beer smell more lively.

And yet, it remains a divisive issue in craft beer. For proof, just check out the review on BeerAdvocate for “Hop Hands,” a pale ale from Tired Hands Brewing Co. in Eastern Pennsylvania.

This sessionable 5.5 percent hop-forward pale ale earned a score of 91, considered “outstanding,” from the collective reviews by Beer Advocate contributors. The guys who run the website, known as the Alstrom Brothers, tore it to shreds, giving it a “poor” score of 64.

“(E)xtremely cloudy and a mess to say the least,” they wrote. “Staff at the pub should not be pouring it. Milkshake beers are not a trend or acceptable with traditional or even modern styles.”

Witchey couldn't disagree more.

“I love Tired Hands, it's one of my favorites now,” he says. “And Hop Hands especially, just a straight crusher of a beer. Here's this great brewery that people all over the place know about and want to seek out and those guys want to tear it down.”

There are always going to be “those guys.” And it's perfectly legitimate to use a beer's appearance to evaluate the skills of the brewer. But at what point should that prevail over what we taste?

Even Witchey has his limits for how cloudy a beer can be. An early version of Dancing Gnome's “Jam,” a red ale, looked like it had been tapped from a sewer pipe. Witchey says even he couldn't get past the appearance.

“I still want to look at a beer and be like, man, that's a beautiful beer.”

Standards for beauty change. Most of the time, when Witchey looks at one of his turbid beers, he sees something beautiful. Perhaps, one day, Tommy Lee Jones' doppelganger will see the same.

Chris Fleisher has a turbid beer on tap in his basement and, no, he did not tap the sewer pipe. He believes it to be a thing of beauty. Follow him on Twitter @brewsreporter.


Got a hankering for a snack? It's only a quick click away
Dining News: Bull River Taco opens in Baldwin

By Tribune-Review

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Bull River Taco

Bull River Taco has opened a new location at 4849 Clairton Blvd., Baldwin. The eatery offers chicken, pork, beef and veggie tacos as well as nachos, chips and salsa and more.

Bull River also has a location in Westmoreland Mall in Hempfield.

Details: 412-885-9000 or bullrivertaco.com

Mother's Day brunch

Habitat, located at Fairmont Pittsburgh, 510 Market St., Pittsburgh, will host Mother's Day brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 14.

Executive chef Jason Dalling has prepared a seasonal brunch menu of breakfast dishes, spring-inspired salads and sides, carving stations and petite entrees. A dessert buffet crafted by pastry chef James Wroblewski and his team will feature select recipes inspired by their moms.

Live music by the Daniel May Trio will accompany the festivities.

Cost is $79 per person, half price for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children age 5 and under.

Details: 412-773-8848 or habitatrestaurant.com

Suds in the Strip

Osteria 2350, at 2350 Railroad St. in the Strip District, will host its next installment of Suds in the Strip series with a five-course tasting dinner featuring Dogfish Head Brewing Co. from 6 to 9 p.m. May 24.

Cost is $65 with optional $15 wine pairing per person plus tax and gratuity.

Details: 412-281-3090 or cioppinogroup.com

Couch Brewery

Couch Brewery is opening April 29, at 1351 Washington Blvd., Larimer.

The brewery features a selection of regular offerings such as the Recliner Stout with amarillo hops, Plush Pale Ale with hint of peach and Blonde Shag with Sorachi Ace hops, in addition to rotating seasonal selections. Customers can enjoy them in a laid-back, living room-style space.

Details: couchbrewery.com

Send Dining News to tribliving.com


Fanfare: PATF's Moulin Rouge-themed gala honors Dr. Leahy with award

By Kate Benz

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 2:39 p.m.


Under ordinary circumstances, there's just no competing with living statues who have names like Jezebel Bebbington D'Opulence and Divauna Taravella, resplendent in green body paint, shimmering glitter, and not much left to the imagination.

“I'm sure it's the sparkles everyone is looking at,” came one keen observation.

Yet none of the 300-plus guests of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force's Moulin Rouge-themed gala seemed to be batting an eye. Instead, everyone was talking about the 2017 Kerry Stoner Awardee.

“What I love about Larry is that he's never been afraid of the backlash he could have received,” said Philip Ferland. “It could have ruined his practice, but he persevered.”

As the first dentist in Pittsburgh to knowingly see HIV-positive patients back in an era when most remained terrified of the little-known disease, Dr. Larry Leahy was putting his career on the line. Even within earshot of a shower of accolades at the J. Verno Studios on April 26, his response typified a selfless support of the HIV/AIDS community.

“People say it was pioneering, but I just did something I knew I should do,” he said.

Cocktail hour allowed just enough time to air kiss friends and supporters, who didn't hold back on their admiration and respect for a man who has been involved with the PATF for decades, including service as past president and board member.

“I think that what he did is absolutely groundbreaking and there are no words that can be expressed enough to thank him as he deserves,” said Gene Welsh.

“He's just an amazing person. Period,” added CEO Sean DeYoung.

Once the call went out from emcee Thea Trix that “The garden was open,” guests immersed themselves into a deliciously alluring space adorned with roses, Dutch tulips, daffodils, and edible centerpieces courtesy of creative chair Jose Diaz and Thommy Conroy.

On the list: board president Brian Balonick, honorary chairs Charlie Humphrey and Laura Jordan, Tim McVay and David Bush, Marty Healey, Nachum Golan and Steve Hough, Dr. Elliot Kramer and Bill Modrak, Sarah McKean, Kathe and Jim Patrinos, Richard Parsakian, Stacy Weiss, Toni Chiappini, Bob Sendall, Mary Beth Johnson, Bob Davis and John Klein, Rep. Dan Frankel.


Bike trails abound throughout Western Pa.
Spot birds of prey from your bike

By Mary Ann Thomas

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Cue the bald eagle.

The Steel Valley Trail Council is sponsoring the Raptor Row Ride on April 29, which is likely Pittsburgh's first-ever bike event spotlighting the nests of the region's birds of prey.

The off-road trail ride features stops at the nests of the Pittsburgh Hays bald eagles, ospreys, red-tailed hawks, American Kestrels, and a rescued live owl from the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center.

The 13.5-mile bike ride traverses the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and the Steel Valley Trail, which are segments of the Great Allegheny Passage. The route will follow the banks of the Monongahela River from Hays to McKeesport.

To help cyclists actually see the raptor nests without lugging around binoculars and scopes, the Three Rivers Birding Club, the National Aviary and local photographers will be stationed at the nest sites with optics and a guide to where the birds are.

Roy Bires, 68, of Swissvale, organized the inaugural ride to give the public a chance to see the raptor nests.

Bires was one of the several observers, including a National Aviary ornithologist and a Tribune-Review reporter, to witness the hatch of the Hays bald eagles' first chick in 2013, the formerly endangered birds' first young in the city in more than 150 years.

Bires has been an avid chronicler of the Hays eagles and other local birds of prey ever since.

Last year, he counted 10 newly hatched young raptors — bald eagle, osprey, great-horned owl and red-tailed hawk — within only a 6-mile section of the trail.

“We thought the ride would be a celebration of the success of those birds,” he says.

However, given that birds operate on their own schedule, there is no guarantee that cyclists will see all of the raptors.

Cyclists also will be given an opportunity to spot the recent handiwork of some beavers who have whittled down some young trees along the Monongahela.

Bires is expecting at least 80 riders who will travel in groups staggered throughout the morning.

The ride to all four of the 2016 nest sites is about 13.5 miles round trip on a mostly level paved surface. There will be an optional extension of the ride to a new kestrel nest site in McKeesport, making for an 18 mile round trip. Or riders can take a 4-mile route to just see the bald eagles

Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Steel Valley Trail Council, which is responsible for maintaining the portion of the Great Allegheny Passage from the end of the Sandcastle Waterpark parking lot through the Waterfront in Homestead, past Kennywood into McKeesport as well the connector to Clairton.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or on twitter @MaThomas_Trib


Blood test offers hope for better lung cancer treatment

By The Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 6:30 p.m.


BOSTON — Researchers have taken an important step toward better lung cancer treatment by using blood tests to track genetic changes in tumors as they progress from their very earliest stages.

With experimental tests that detect bits of DNA that tumors shed into the blood, they were able to detect some recurrences of cancer up to a year before imaging scans could, giving a chance to try new therapy sooner.

It's the latest development for tests called liquid biopsies, which analyze cancer using blood rather than tissue samples. Some doctors use these tests now to guide care for patients with advanced cancers, mostly in research settings. The new work is the first time tests like this have been used to monitor the evolution of lung tumors at an early stage, when there's a much better chance of cure.

Only about one third of lung cancer cases in the United States are found at an early stage, and even fewer in other parts of the world. But more may be in the future as a result of screening of longtime smokers at high risk of the disease that started a few years ago in the United States.

Early-stage cases are usually treated with surgery. Many patients get chemotherapy after that, but it helps relatively few of them.

“We have to treat 20 patients to cure one. That's a lot of side effects to cure one patient,” said Dr. Charles Swanton of the Francis Crick Institute in London.

The new studies he led suggest that liquid biopsies might help show who would or would not benefit from chemotherapy, and give an early warning if it's not working so something else can be tried.

Cancer Research UK, a charity based in England, paid for the work, and results were published online Wednesday by Nature and the New England Journal of Medicine .

To be clear: This kind of care is not available yet — the tests used in these studies are experimental and were customized in a lab to analyze the genes in each patient's cancer. But the technology is advancing rapidly.

The company that generated the tests for the study in Nature — California-based Natera Inc. — plans to offer the tests for research by universities and drug companies later this year and hopes to have a version for routine use in cancer care next year.

“This is coming, and it's coming fast,” said Dr. David Gandara, a lung specialist at the University of California, Davis, who had no role in the studies but consults for two companies developing liquid biopsies. A test that could spare many people unnecessary treatment “would be huge,” he said.

In the studies, researchers analyzed tumors from about 100 people with non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the disease. Even in these early-stage cases, they found big variations in the number of gene flaws, and were able to trace how the tumors' genes changed over time.

People with many gene or chromosome problems were four to five times more likely to have their cancer return, or to die from their disease within roughly two years.

They also looked at 14 patients whose cancers recurred after surgery, and compared them to 10 others whose did not. Blood tests after surgery accurately identified more than 90 percent of them that were destined to relapse, up to a year before imaging tests showed that had occurred.

The results suggest that using liquid biopsy tests to help select and adjust treatments is “now feasible,” at least from a scientific standpoint, the authors write.

A big issue is cost, though. Liquid biopsies sold now in the country cost nearly $6,000. Tests that more narrowly track a patient's particular tumor gene changes, like the one in these studies, may cost less. They may save money in the long run, by preventing futile treatment, but this has yet to be shown.


How to identify and treat sleep apnea

By Tribune-Review

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


The federal panel that recommends whether people should get screened for various diseases recently reviewed sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that researchers have shown increases the rate of death from cardiovascular problems and can bring other negative health effects. The United States Preventive Services Task Force found that there is insufficient evidence to balance the benefits and risks of screening for sleep apnea, while acknowledging the health effects of the disease. Dr. Deepa Burman, medical director of UPMC McKeesport's Portable Sleep Study Program, discusses symptoms and treatment methods for the condition.

Describe obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea refers to interrupted breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. It is a serious disorder that causes the throat to close until airways become blocked and breathing gets interrupted or stops for a varying amount of time during sleep. This may decrease oxygen supply to the brain, causing people to wake up multiple times in the middle of the night.

What are some common symptoms and effects?

Common symptoms are breath pauses, frequent snoring and choking or gasping sounds during sleep. Those who suffer from sleep apnea often feel fatigue throughout the day and, in some cases, people will unintentionally fall asleep at undesired times. The lack of sleep causes people to wake up feeling unrefreshed and with morning headaches. Untreated sleep apnea can worsen and in some cases result in medical problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and depression.

How do you know if you have sleep apnea?

In addition to having the symptoms and medical problems mentioned above, a sleep study is used to diagnose sleep apnea. In the past, a sleep study was only able to be conducted with an overnight stay in a sleep laboratory, but some patients had trouble sleeping in a new environment during the inpatient sleep study. Recent technological advances have made it possible for people to take the sleep study tests at home. This new form of testing is more convenient, cost effective and accessible to the public.

To participate in an at-home sleep study, patients simply pick up equipment at the hospital and are taught how to hook it up at home. The next morning, they return the equipment and the board-certified sleep medicine experts read the data to determine if sleep apnea is the cause of the sleep issues. Sleep apnea is a serious but easily treatable disorder, so people experiencing symptoms should contact their primary care provider.


E-cigarette industry gains allies in regulation fight
Hope for preemies as artificial womb helps tiny lambs grow


By The Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 6:45 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Researchers are creating an artificial womb to improve care for extremely premature babies — and remarkable animal testing suggests the first-of-its-kind watery incubation so closely mimics mom that it just might work.

Today, premature infants weighing as little as a pound are hooked to ventilators and other machines inside incubators. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is aiming for a gentler solution, to give the tiniest preemies a few more weeks cocooned in a womb-like environment — treating them more like fetuses than newborns in hopes of giving them a better chance of healthy survival.

The researchers created a fluid-filled transparent container to simulate how fetuses float in amniotic fluid inside mom's uterus, and attached it to a mechanical placenta that keeps blood oxygenated.

In early-stage animal testing, extremely premature lambs grew, apparently normally, inside the system for three to four weeks, the team reported Tuesday.

“We start with a tiny fetus that is pretty inert and spends most of its time sleeping. Over four weeks we see that fetus open its eyes, grow wool, breathe, swim,” said Dr. Emily Partridge, a CHOP research fellow and first author of the study published in Nature Communications.

“It's hard to describe actually how uniquely awe-inspiring it is to see,” she added.

Human testing still is three to five years away, although the team already is in discussions with the Food and Drug Administration.

“We're trying to extend normal gestation,” said Dr. Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at CHOP who is leading the project and considers it a temporary bridge between the mother's womb and the outside world.

Increasingly hospitals attempt to save the most critically premature infants, those born before 26 weeks gestation and even those right at the limits of viability — 22 to 23 weeks. Extreme prematurity is a leading cause of infant mortality, and those who do survive frequently have serious disabilities such as cerebral palsy.

The idea of treating preemies in fluid-filled incubators may sound strange, but physiologically it makes sense, said Dr. Catherine Spong, a fetal medicine specialist at the National Institutes of Health.

“This is really an innovative, promising first step,” said Spong, who wasn't involved with the research.

One of the biggest risks for very young preemies is that their lungs aren't ready to breathe air, she explained. Before birth, amniotic fluid flows into their lungs, bringing growth factors crucial for proper lung development. When they're born too soon, doctors hook preemies to ventilators to keep them alive but risking lifelong lung damage.

Flake's goal is for the womb-like system to support the very youngest preemies just for a few weeks, until their organs are mature enough to better handle regular hospital care like older preemies who have less risk of death or disability.

The device is simpler than previous attempts at creating an artificial womb, which haven't yet panned out.

How the “Biobag” system works:

— The premature lambs were delivered by C-section and immediately placed into a temperature-controlled bag filled with a substitute for amniotic fluid that they swallow and take into their lungs.

“We make gallons of this stuff a day,” said fetal physiologist Marcus Davey. It's currently an electrolyte solution; he's working to add other factors to make it more like real amniotic fluid.

— Then the researchers attached the umbilical cord to a machine that exchanges carbon dioxide in blood with oxygen, like a placenta normally does.

— The lamb's heart circulates the blood, without the need for any other pump.

The researchers tested five lambs whose biological age was equivalent to 23-week human preemies, and three more a bit older. All appeared to grow normally, with blood pressure and other key health measures stable and few complications during the weeks they were inside the womb-like device.

The study didn't address long-term development. Most of the lambs were euthanized for further study that found normal organ development for their gestational age. One was bottle-weaned and is now more than a year old, apparently healthy and living on a farm in Pennsylvania.

Flake stressed that the womb-like system isn't intended to support preemies any younger than today's limits of viability — not what he calls the more “sensationalistic” idea of artificially growing embryos.

He acknowledged that parents might question the approach, but notes that the preemies always could be whisked into standard care if they fared poorly in the new system. And while he said further adaptation of the device is needed before it can begin human testing, he envisioned parents being able to see the baby and even piping in the sound of mom's heartbeat.


Fanfare: PATF's Moulin Rouge-themed gala honors Dr. Leahy with award
Fanfare: Stepping into Spring Fashion Show and Luncheon

By Tribune-Review

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 12:15 p.m.


The Stepping into Spring Fashion Show and Luncheon, held by the Duquesne University Women's Guildn was held at the Duquesne University Union Ballroom, Uptown Pittsburgh on Sunday, April 23, 2017.


Fanfare: Pittsburgh Festival Opera's Gala Cubana toasts first new Cuban opera in 50 years

By Kate Benz

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017, 9:33 a.m.


Who knew that the gents would be the ones who upped the fashion ante during the Pittsburgh Festival Opera's Gala Cubana?

“This was another of those things just waiting for the event,” said Michael Kamin of his floral button down and matching kicks, which just happened to be hanging in his closet.

Having had in large part answered the call to dress the part, 150 guests arrived at the Pittsburgh Golf Club in Squirrel Hill on April 22 decked out in a rainbow of vibrant colors. Amongst them was Paul Gitnik, who maintained his tradition of turning heads with a sports coat popping with personality. Not to mention, a bronzed glow courtesy of time spent in Florida.

“That's not a tan… that's blood pressure!” joked Gene Svrcek.

As cocktail hour progressed, the steel drums proved too irresistible for Georgia and Gene Bokor, who carved out their own dance floor while models floated by wearing the vivacious fashions from designer Lana Neumeyer.

But it was the conga line led by dancer Teanna Medina that signaled the real start of the party.

On the list were Pittsburgh Festival Opera founder Mildred Miller Posvar and her daughter, Marina Posvar, party chairwoman Carolyn Smith and her husband, Bud, PFO chairman Dr. Jerry Clack, president Dr. Eugene Myers, Joyce Candi Grove, committee members Evelyn Castillo, Joseph Bielecki, Dr. Margaretha Casselbrant, Carole Kamin, Gail Novak Mosites.

The evening toasted Roberto Valera and Charles Koppelman's “Cubanacan: A Revolution of Forms,” the first new Cuban opera in 50 years. During the event, Pittsburgh Festival Opera artists Christopher Scott, Robert Frankenberry, and Stephanie Ramos performed excerpts from the show.


Fanfare: Foundation Night of Joy Gala

By Tribune-Review

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017, 9:45 a.m.


The fourth annual Foundation Night of Joy Gala welcomed 300 guests, with proceeds benefiting the foundation's efforts to create a model of care for postpartum depression.

The event was held at the Omni William Penn, Downtown on Friday, April 21 2017.


Fanfare: Evening of Birthday Cheer by Beverly's Birthdays
Pittsburgh Earth Day 2017 kicks off with fashion show utilizing recyclable materials

By Kate Benz

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017, 9:15 a.m.


“The models are from the Docherty Agency,” said Ecolution Fashion Show curator Richard Parsakian while backstage at the Fairmont. “Seventeen females. Two males… they're the eye candy.”

Both baring it all but for the body paint that took over an hour to apply, it was surely the artistic homage to earth and planet that had tongues wagging.

“Preserving the wonders of the universe,” Parsakian mused.

With an extra row of seating brought in to accommodate the overflow for the kickoff to the weekend-long, Pittsburgh Earth Day 2017 celebration that began April 20, it was up to area designers to deliver on the eco-friendly couture they were given less than two months to create.

Tasked with utilizing sustainable, recyclable, and organic materials like soda can tabs, window screening, blue prints, copper wire, cassette tape, floppy discs, and coffee bags, the models were further transformed by the creative prowess of 14 hair and makeup artists from Izzazu Salon.

“There's always a game time decision to throw glitter on everything,” said stage producer Brittany Spinelli.

Anticipation running high, baited breath remained just that while a lengthy string of video clips served to convey the message that art is political and fashion is political. While a few seats emptied in attempt to seize the opportunity to freshen their drinks, by the time the show began, all eyes were glued.

Spied: Emcees Brian Siewiorek of WYEP and Michele Michaels of WDVE, Dr. Larry Leahy, Ned Bartley, Ronda Zegarelli, Lynne Figgins, Rebecca Whitlinger, Emilio Cornacchione, Rich and Cindy Engler, Gina Pferdehirt, Lucas and Renee Piatt (guests were able to peruse jewelry pieces from her namesake collection during cocktail hour), Deb Docherty, Patricia Rodella, Ernest Baugh. Designers Karen Page and Thomas Higgs, Faith-n-Khaos, Bradford Mumpower, Terry Boyd, Michael Anthony, David Pohl, Carol Luckner, Brandon Darreff, Lessa Kassler, Beth Shari, Keith Kelly, Lana Neumeyer, RubyDawn Designs, Katy DeMent, Kat Belskey, Alana Yoffee, Becki Liu, and Domitille Angoulvant. Judges included Tereneh Mosley, Mary Lou Arscott, Natalie Bencivenga.

DJ Soy Sos provided the soundtrack.


Fanfare: City Theatre welcomes full house for opening night of 'Wild With Happy'

By Kate Benz

Published: Monday, April 17, 2017, 8:03 a.m.


It was promised that there would be dancing in the seats—of which only one remained ahead of opening night for City Theatre's latest comedy, “Wild With Happy,” on April 14.

Which probably wouldn't have sounded too strange… had the show not been inspired by conversations about death. But flipping convention on its head was kind of the point.

“We like to say the play is overflowing with love and laughter,” said director Reginald Douglas. “In this world, we need 90 minutes of fun.”

It's exactly what the full house got for the Pittsburgh debut of the Off-Broadway hit by Colman Domingo. For those 90 minutes, there was no stopping the release of audible delight as actors Monteze Freeland, Corey Jones, Jason Shavers and C. Kelly Wright pulled the room in for an unapologetic poke at the grieving process.

“It's a hot item,” said artistic director Tracy Brigden. “It's everything a play should be. It's hilarious. It's moving. It's up to the minute. It's fierce.”

And while it seemed a fat chance that the idea of carting mother's ashes to Disney World could strike a chord, it wasn't too farfetched for some.

“I did take my great aunt's ashes to prom by mistake,” said managing director James McNeel. “Not as a date, to clarify. They were in the trunk of her sister's car that I borrowed.”

Spied: Tacy Byham, Reshma Paranjpe, Ken and Pam McCrory, Denise Johnson and Norman Brown, Matt Galando, Joe and Laura Palmieri, general manager Natalie Hatcher, stage manager Joanna Obuzor, Theresa and John Ford, Dr. Valerie and Ron Lawrence.


Y108 FM holds Wine & Boots Bash to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

By Kate Benz

Published: Friday, April 14, 2017, 11:39 a.m.


What brought a fringed cowboy boot-wearing gal out for the Y108 Wine & Boots bash?

The promise of a glass half full evening?

Country music darling Michael Ray?

“St. Jude,” said Kelsey Spec. “I mean, we love Michael Ray, too, but I love anything for the kids.”

A pioneering facility that treats close to 8,000 patients that never receive a bill for treatment, travel, or food thanks to funding that relies primarily on a stream of public donations, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital served as the primary beneficiary for the April 13 event at the Twentieth Century Club, one that even the headliner didn't mind taking a backseat to.

“When you see everything they're doing, it changes you,” said the 28-year old Ray, who has been sitting pretty on the country albums charts following his 2015 debut on the Warner Music Nashville label. “It holds a special place in our hearts.”

With a pit stop in Pittsburgh that came on the heels of a manic schedule that recently took him halfway around the globe to Australia, the tour bus was kept running while The Andy Davis Band and the Stickers—both with southwestern Pennsylvania roots—warmed up the stage for an anticipated crowd of 350.

On the list were Barbara and Gary Bowser, Sr., Lisa and Gary Bowser, Jr., Michael Young, Mark Anderson, Caitlin O'Brien-Rice, Ryan Reczek, Rachel Abendroth, Brianna Farringer and Ryan Barancho, Amanda Monheim, Jessica Romanin, Tiffany Thomas, Denae Barnett and Justin Kopcak, Ryan Reczek and Rachel Abendroth, Zach Hoffman, Ben Hoffman, Brianne Schultz, Nicole Hoffman.

Y108 has been partnering with St. Jude's for more than two decades with events that include its annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Radio Broadcast which to date has raised more than $3.4 million.


Fanfare: Carnegie Library welcomes sold-out crowd for After Hours soiree
Fanfare: Bach & Brews at East End Brewing

By Tribune-Review

Published: Monday, April 10, 2017, 9:39 a.m.


The Bach Choir lets their hair down with a new spring fundraiser at East End Brewing in Homewood on Sunday, April 9, 2017.


Fanfare: Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh celebrates 25 years

By Tribune-Review

Published: Sunday, April 9, 2017, 11:15 a.m.


A cocktail reception celebrated the 25th anniversary of Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh bringing the Race for the Cure to Pittsburgh. The event was held at the Fairmont Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh on April 6, 2017.


Bartos,  Stephen
Biss,  Doris K.
Doris K. Biss, 101, passed away at Meadowview Terrace in Clarksville, Va. She was preceded in death by her parents, Charles and Elizabeth Kite, and...
Caschera Jr.,  Remo R.
Remo R. Caschera Jr., 83, of Mt. Pleasant, died Sunday, April 23, 2017, at Excela Health-Westmoreland Hospital, Greensburg. Mr. Caschera was born...
Greco,  Audrey J.
Audrey Joan Greco, 86, of Saxonburg, formerly of Oakmont and Tarentum, passed away Thursday, April 27, 2017, at UPMC Montifiore. Born Nov. 30, 1930,...
Harvanek,  Mark
Hiborik,  Anna M.
Anna Mae Hiborik, 75, of New Kensington, passed away Wednesday, April 26, 2017. She was born Aug. 27, 1941, in Johnstown, a daughter of the late...
Humberger,  Scott A.
Scott A. Humberger, 46, formerly of West Newton, died Thursday, April 20, 2017. He was born Dec. 31, 1970, in Jeannette. He was preceded in death by...
Kingan,  Raymond A.
Raymond "Ray" Arthur Kingan, beloved husband, father and friend, passed away at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital,...
Majocha,  Chester C.
McCreery,  Dale R.
Dale R. McCreery, 72, of Latrobe, passed away Thursday, April 27, 2017, at his home. He was born Feb. 2, 1945, in Peanut, Derry Township, a son of...
Mikan,  Carl J.
Carl John Mikan, born Feb. 19, 1963, in Greensburg, died Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in Santa Barbara, Calif. Carl is the son of Carl W. and Winifred...
Myers,  Ronaele J.
Ronaele J. Myers, 52, of Greensburg, passed away Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. She was born Aug. 4, 1964, in Homestead....
Pershing,  Betty C.
Puglia,  Charles J.
Charles J. "Pogo" Puglia, 92, of McKeesport, died Thursday, April 27, 2017. Born in McKeesport, he was the son of the late Joseph and Felicia...
Scarpo Sr.,  Joseph A.
Joseph A. Scarpo Sr., 82, of Greensburg, died Wednesday, April 26, 2017, in the Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital. He was born Dec. 22, 1934, in...
Tatarzyn,  Loretta
Loretta Tatarzyn, 85, of North Huntingdon, died Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at her home. Born June 15, 1931, in McKeesport, she was the daughter of...
Thompson,  Judith L.
Zackel,  Jerry

Jerry Zackel, 71, of Penn Township, died Wednesday, April 26, 2017. He was born Oct. 22, 1945, in Claridge, to the late John and Esther (Deola)...