City Guide 2015 Bringing you lots of hot spots and cool events to keep you thrilled, no matter the season
By Charlie Deitch
There’s an old joke that goes, “If you don’t like the weather in Pittsburgh, wait five minutes and it’ll change.” Spend five minutes in our fair city and you’ll quickly realize that it’s not a joke at all.As we prepared this guide in June, high temperatures for one weekend ranged from 85 on Friday to 58 on Sunday. We’ve seen it snow in late May and we’ve seen it reach 90 degrees on Christmas. Our weather is crazy, there’s no doubt about it. You have to be prepared to leave the house in the morning dressed for winter and adjust for summer on your evening commute. You can see that confusion in the outfits of our City Guide cover models, Ebony Cunningham and Lea DiMarchi.But regardless of the weather, this city is packed with fun things to do, great food to eat and lots of great neighborhoods to explore. And that’s the theme for this issue: Fun for All Seasons.On the following pages, you’ll find a calendar of seasonal activities. These are special local events and activities that are unique to the four seasons, and if you find yourself here on a visit during that time, you owe it to yourself to check them out.The second part of the magazine highlights some of our favorite spots throughout several city neighborhoods. We’ll even start you out with a few can’t-miss locations, a few highlights which are ideal for the short-term visitor. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage exploring on your own. But this guide will get you started, with suggestions of places and events to keep you busy and optimize your time in Pittsburgh.And if you set out on your adventure and it’s too cold or too rainy … just wait five minutes and you’ll probably be A-OK.
Read More: Pittsburgh City Guide 2015 | Pittsburgh City Paper
Damage and death toll were the highest in Pennsylvania, with more than $2 billion in losses and 50 fatalities.
When a storm named Agnes arrived in Pittsburgh in June 1972, she was the first tropical storm of the season and drenched this region with more than eight inches of rain.
Forty three years ago this summer, mountaineers in West Virginia lost their shacks and affluent people in New York’s affluent Westchester County experienced damage to their fancy homes because of the wettest tropical cyclone on record in Pennsylvania’s history.
On June 24, 1972, President Richard Nixon declared five states disaster areas: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida, Virginia and New York.
Two weeks before Agnes blew into town, a series of rains swept across New York and Pennsylvania, completely saturating the ground so that it was unable to absorb additional water.
In Pennsylvania, the storm left 220,000 people homeless. Damage and death toll were the highest in Pennsylvania, with more than $2 billion in losses and 50 fatalities.
Harrisburg was inundated; 8,500 people there had to leave their homes.
In Wilkes-Barre, 45,000 people went to emergency shelters; the community’s water supply was contaminated and it lost phone service due to the raging Susquehanna River.
The Ohio River swamped the city of Wheeling, W.Va.
But for the construction of 10 flood control dams that ring Pittsburgh, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated, the waters that inundated the Golden Triangle would have been two feet higher than that of the famous March 1936 flood on St. Patrick’s Day.
Hurricane Agnes inflicted $45 million in damage on Pittsburgh. If the flood control dams had not been built, the Corps of Engineers, estimated, damage would have soared past the $1 billion mark. Erie was the only Pennsylvania county to be spared.
Pennsylvania’s climate, location and terrain all played a role. A wet weather state subject to sudden and violent storms, Pennsylvania typically receives 40 thunderstorm days each year. The state also lies in a hurricane pathway and its steep valleys channel runoff from storms.
Taking into account damage in all five states, Hurricane Agnes killed 122 people, destroyed 5,000 homes and damaged 100,000 more, and left 400,000 people homeless, according to Gen. Richard H. Groves, a corps engineer for the North Atlantic Division who testified before Congress.
Half of Pennsylvania’s National Guard was mobilized to do relief work and used helicopters and boats to rescue people.
Gov. Milton Shapp knew all about the flood because the Georgian mansion he occupied, which is set on land overlooking the Susquehanna River, had two feet of water in it, covering the home’s first floor.
*A note on the images: The Pittsburgh Press librarians were known to fold oversized prints in half to fit them into standard-sized archival envelopes. Thus, many of the paper’s beautiful large photo prints are permanently creased, including many from Hurricane Agnes.
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pennsylvania is selling drivers’ personal information to insurance companies, credit businesses, and employers at $9 per driver.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the sold information includes gender, license class, expiration date, and up to 10 years of traffic violations.
The practice grossed $41 million for the Commonwealth in June, hitting a five-year high.
“In general, people don’t like it when companies, or in this case, government agencies, sell their data… Why should you be able to make money off of my data?” Carnegie Mellon University Professor Lorrie Cranor, who runs the school’s privacy engineering program, told the Trib.
While the Commonwealth’s practice raises privacy concerns, David Thaw, University of Pittsburgh School of Law information security expert said, “I would not place this on the high-risk end of the spectrum… providing the department and the insurance companies are following the rules.”
According to PennDOT spokesman Michael Moser, around two dozen other states also monetize drivers’ personal information.
By Melissa Daniels
Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 10:54 p.m.
Updated 15 hours ago
Pennsylvania is making tens of millions of dollars a year selling drivers’ personal information, raising concerns among some motorists and privacy experts who said they weren’t aware of the practice.
The records include gender, license class, expiration date and up to 10 years of traffic violations, all of which is available to insurance companies, credit businesses and employers at a price of $9 per driver.
Stephen Chesney, 41, an attorney from Brighton Heights, said he had no clue. “It’s definitely concerning,” he said. “No one likes their information being sold.”
Annual collections from the practice hit a five-year high of $41 million in June, according to the most recent figures, up from $30 million the year before. The increase is mostly because of a fee hike to $8 from $5 in April 2014 to raise money for state transportation projects; the fee increases to $9 this summer.
“For the state, it’s a revenue stream, but for the drivers, it’s a privacy concern,” said Mark Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
Pennsylvania has about 8.9 million drivers. Insurance companies can use their histories to validate what customers are reporting on their policies. Jonathan Greer, vice president for the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, said the federal Driver Privacy Protection act governs what kinds of records can be requested, and companies aren’t permitted to sell them to third parties.
Paying for the information does not concern the industry, Greer said. Neither did the fee increase.
“It’s the cost of doing business,” he said.
Lorrie Cranor, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who runs its privacy engineering program, said it’s the state’s profit that’s bothersome.
“In general, people don’t like it when companies, or in this case, government agencies, sell their data,” Cranor said. “It’s, ‘Why should you be able to make money off of my data?’ ”
The profit factor shocked Mary Lechok, 58, of Ross. “People don’t know that,” Lechok said. “They make money off everything.”
PennDOT maintains contracts with wholesale companies to purchase driver information in bulk, defined as at least 5,000 transactions per month. Those include LexisNexis, Acxiom, American Driving Records, Explore, Hireright, Insurance Services Office and TML Information Services. Drivers or their attorneys can request their information.
David Thaw, an information security expert at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, said the kinds of records that can be obtained don’t necessarily pose a threat of identify theft.
“I would not place this on the high-risk end of the spectrum,” he said, “providing the department and the insurance companies are following the rules.”
A proposal from state Sen. Don White, R-Indiana County, that passed 46-3 in June would allow companies to acquire driver records for all residents in a household without having all the drivers’ names to determine who isn’t paying correct premiums.
Gov. Tom Wolf opposes the proposal, citing privacy concerns, said PennDOT spokesman Michael Moser. But White said the practice is used in two dozen other states.
“This is routine information that PennDOT already has,” White said. “This will help with a small segment of the uninsured drivers in a household that aren’t added to a policy when they should be.”
Moser said the agency requires applicants to supply names, addresses and license numbers for drivers whose records they are requesting. They must declare they will use the information for one of several lawful purposes and sign an affidavit under penalty of two years in prison or a $5,000 fine.
Frank Zuber, 43, of West View, said he accepts that private companies sell consumer information for millions of dollars.
“That’s quite a scam,” Zuber said. “I expect it from a lot of things, but from the government, I don’t know.”
Then he paused and chuckled.
“Well,” he said. “I guess that’s sort of a stupid statement.”
Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A column of anti-austerity protesters are currently marching in a loop through central Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, and its seafront.
The mood is calm, and not everyone is in the streets – the marchers just passed a pirate-themed ship full of revellers.
“Maybe there’s about a thousand here – with VAT,” jokes one protester, in a reference to the huge VAT hikes that the new bail-out will precipitate, inflating the cost of daily living.
There is a sense of anger, but also of disorientation – and uncertainty about what to do, and who to blame.
“I feel very confused about the situation,” says Giorgos, a middle-aged pharmacist who lost his job two weeks ago.
“I feel very angry about the memorandum, but also I have no problem for the moment with Tsipras. He was under a lot of pressure, and this is a coup.”
Giorgos is resentful of the EU, whose leaders have shown no compassion to a family like his – a family whose two breadwinners have lost their jobs. But equally he doesn’t want to leave the euro, not yet anyway.The feeling shared by other marchers.
“It’s more complicated than that,” says Varvara Kyrillidou, an Italian teacher and Syriza member protesting against her party leader’s decision.
“To leave Europe behind, we need a plan – without a plan it’s very risky for our people. And at the moment we haven’t got one.”
Greece ideally needs to sit down and have a rethink, says Kyrillidou – but she knows there isn’t time.
“We’re between two walls that are closing in on us.”
Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Brian Moynihan has been hiring more sales staff, in areas ranging from commercial lending to wealth management, in his latest effort to boost revenue that has barely budged for years.
The hiring push is part of a shift in how the bank is trying to sell more products to existing customers. Previously, Bank of America tried training individual employees to sell multiple products, but now it is focusing more on hiring specialized sales staff that can refer business to one another.
So instead of a bank teller trying to sell a branch customer a credit card and a mortgage, the teller might refer the client to a home loan specialist.
The bank has added some 1,000 financial advisors since the second quarter of 2014, and increased the number of sales specialists for products like mortgages and credit cards by 3.5 percent to 6,963.
On a call with analysts, Moynihan said that while the bank is still encouraging individual employees to sell different products, having enough sales staff is important as well.
“It is really just having more of them,” he said.
The bank’s chief financial officer, Bruce Thompson told reporters on a conference call, “Ultimately revenues are driven by the number of client-facing personnel that you have and how well they do relative to their peers.”
So far, these new hires have had a limited impact on results. The bank posted a tepid 1.7 percent increase in revenue in the second quarter from the same period a year ago. Quarterly revenue at the bank has hovered around $22 billion since 2011.
With weak revenue growth, the bank has been trying to boost profit by cutting costs. Overall, the bank is laying off staff. It had fewer than 66,000 full time employees at the end of the second quarter, nearly 10 percent less than the same quarter last year. Bank of America has a regular cost-cutting program in place it calls “Simplify and Improve.”
Spokesman Jerry Dubrowski said Bank of America has been steadily increasing its sales force for some time.
But that growth has not been uniform across all products. While the number of consumer sales specialists for products such as credit cards and auto loans has steadily increased, the number of financial advisors dipped from 2013 to 2014, then rose over the past year. Bank of America doesn’t disclose the size of its sales force for loans to businesses. (Reporting by Dan Freed; Editing by Dan Wilchins and Nick Zieminski)
MEDIA COURTHOUSE >> Richard S. Plotts entered an open plea of guilty but mentally ill on Tuesday to charges of murder in the first degree, attempted murder and illegally possessing a firearm in the July 24, 2014, shooting at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital.
Killed during the shooting inside the Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center on Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital’s Yeadon campus was Plotts’ mental health caseworker, Theresa Hunt.
Plotts, 50, of Upper Darby, also admitted to shooting at psychiatrist Dr. Lee Silverman after killing Hunt. Silverman returned fire with a firearm he keeps in his desk drawer, critically wounding Plotts and allowing for his capture.
As a convicted felon for a prior robbery conviction with a history of weapons charges going back to 1990, Plotts was not allowed to own or possess a firearm.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Mattson offered a post-mortem report Tuesday indicating Hunt had died from two gunshot wounds to the head, as well as transcripts of statements given by Silverman to law enforcement and an affidavit of probable cause as the basis for the plea.
Plotts is currently housed at the State Correctional Institution in Graterford, where he said he has weekly access to a psychiatrist. He was well groomed with beard stubble and dressed in a blue, button-down Department of Corrections shirt at Tuesday’s hearing.
Mattson and defense attorney Chuck Williams also stipulated to a psychiatric evaluation by psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Mechanick.
District Attorney Jack Whelan said following his arrest that Plotts had more than 30 additional rounds of ammunition in his pockets and investigators believe he was prepared to kill more people.
Plotts appeared lucid and aware Tuesday as he answered questions from his attorney and indicated he wanted to enter the plea. read more
From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release
SOUTHWEST ASIA, July 14, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted seven airstrikes in Syria:
— Near Hasakah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
— Near Aleppo, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL towed artillery piece.
— Near Dayr Az Zawr, two airstrikes struck nine ISIL staging areas.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Bomber, attack, and fighter-attack aircraft conducted 20 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
— Near Fallujah, six airstrikes struck five ISIL tactical units destroying two ISIL excavators, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL heavy machine gun position, an ISIL mortar system and an ISIL fighting position.
— Near Habbaniyah, one airstrike destroyed two ISIL vehicle bombs, an ISIL armored personnel carrier and an ISIL excavator.
— Near Haditha, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units destroying an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL structure.
— Near Makhmur, one airstrike struck an ISIL rocket position.
— Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar position and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
— Near Ramadi, five airstrikes destroyed an ISIL excavator, an ISIL vehicle bomb factory, an ISIL armored vehicle, an ISIL structure and four ISIL vehicle bombs.
— Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying five ISIL buildings, two ISIL light machine guns, and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
— Near Tal Afar, one airstrike had inconclusive results.
Part of Operation Inherent Resolve
The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group’s ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.
Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Scott Stringer said the terms of settlement means that the city does not admit liability, but offers some measure of comfort to the family of the deceased father of six.
By Kevin Truong, Staff writer
A few days before the anniversary of the death of Eric Garner, New York City officials announced a $5.9 million settlement stemming from his controversial death during an arrest in Staten Island last summer.In his announcement of the payout, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said the terms of settlement means that the city does not admit liability, but offers some measure of comfort to the family of the deceased father of six.“I believe that we have reached an agreement that acknowledges the tragic nature of Mr. Garner’s death while balancing my office’s fiscal responsibility to the City,” Mr. Stringer said in a statement.Recommended: Race equality in America: How far have we come?On July 17, 2014 – a beautiful summer day – Mr. Garner was approached by two police officers on suspicion of committing the misdemeanor of selling loose unlicensed cigarettes. The father of six protested and was taken to the ground in what the medical examiner ruled a chokehold by New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo. A grand jury declined to indict Officer Pantaleo last fall. A federal civil rights investigation is ongoing. Race equality in America: How far have we come? A New Age of Street Protests After being subdued on the ground, Garner became unresponsive. He was transported to a hospital and pronounced dead one hour later.The cell phone video of Garner’s arrest went viral, sparking protests in New York, and his name was added to the list in the chants in the Black Lives Matter movement. Demonstrators took to the streets again last fall after the grand jury decision.His last words – “I can’t breathe” – became a rally cry for the movement.The announcement took note of the impact that Garner’s death had on the national consciousness.“We are all familiar with the events that lead to the death of Eric Garner and the extraordinary impact his passing has had on our City and our nation,” Stringer said in the statement. “It forced us to examine the state of race relations, and the relationship between our police force and the people they serve.”Edward Mullins, the head of the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association lambasted the city for the settlement, saying a jury would have come to more fair terms based on “neither politics nor emotion.”“In my view, the city has chosen to abandon its fiscal responsibility to all of its citizens and genuflect to the select few who curry favor with the city government,” Sergeant Mullins told the New York Post. “Mr. Garner’s family should not be rewarded simply because he repeatedly chose to break the law and resist arrest.”A medical examiner ruled the death a homicide stemming from the chokehold, compression on Garner’s chest, and the 43-year-old’s existing health problems. Chokeholds which are described in the NYPD handbook as “any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air” have been banned by the department since 1993.A series of bills to officially criminalize police use of the chokehold – inspired by Garner’s arrest – has been winding its way through City Council. The NYPD, which has prohibited the use of chokeholds since 1993, announced plans last month to match the language in the police handbook with the language of the legislation, The New York Times reported.
Amazon, Walmart reveal crazy deals ahead of big sales dayBy Ahiza Garcia @ahiza_garciaSneak peek at Amazon ‘Prime Day’ dealsMy sale is better than yours.Just hours after Amazon teased some of its major deals ahead of the kickoff of its “Prime Day,” Walmart previewed some of its own deep discounts to CNNMoney.The 24-hour sale-a-thon is set to begin at 12:01am PT on Wednesday.Amazon’s special savings day on Wednesday is to commemorate the company’s 20th anniversary and is being promoted as having “more deals than Black Friday.”After Amazon announced its plans last week, Walmart jumped in with a sales day of its own on the same day that will be filled with what it calls “atomic specials” and thousands of deals.Some of the Amazon discounts revealed Tuesday include a 40-inch TV for $115, savings of up to 70 percent on top kitchen brands, an Amazon Fire HD 7 tablet for $60 off (regularly retails for $139), over 50% off two Nikon COOLPIX cameras, and an iRobot Roomba Pet Vacuum Cleaning Robot for under $300, for a savings of at least $99 and possibly more depending on the model.Walmart’s specials included an Apple iPad Mini 2 for $265 (for a savings of $174), a Black and Decker Drill and 133 piece Home Project Kit for $50 (usually retails for $80), and a Toshiba 15.6″ Satellite laptop for $377 (customers save $253).One of Amazon’s dealsRelated: Amazon says new ‘Prime Day’ will bury all other salesThe Amazon sales are available only to its Prime members but Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) is currently offering the membership, normally $99 a year, for free as a 30-day trial.Shoppers will be privy to enticements such as “Lightning Deals” and “Deals of the Day” throughout Wednesday and will receive free and unlimited two-day shipping.Prime Day will also allow members the chance to win from $1,000 to $25,000 in Amazon gift cards and tickets and a trip to the season two premiere of Transparent, an Amazon original show.In addition to announcing its own sale, Walmart criticized Amazon for only opening the sale to Amazon Prime members. Amazon shot back, questioning the logic of retailers who make prices cheaper for online versus in-store shoppers.CNNMoney (New York) July 14, 2015: 12:51 PM ET