Daily Archive: December 1, 2010


Urban areas less affected by PAT cuts

Despite an overhaul of Pittsburgh’s public transportation system, which went into effect last year and has carried on in recent months, rider complaints have continued. While the changes were directed at making service more efficient in an effort to increase ridership, many riders still complain about overcrowded buses and unreliable service. OUT IN THE COLD—Despite recent service changes, riders say buses are still over crowded and unreliable. (Photo by J.L. Martello) Last week riders were given something else to complain about when the Port Authority of Allegheny County Board of Directors voted in approval of a fare increase and more than 35 percent service reduction. “The next plan of action is, unless the state adopts a transportation solution, we will cut 35 percent of our service on March 13,” said Jim Ritchie, Port Authority spokesman. “Also, as our next fiscal year starts July 1, 2011, our board likely will be preparing for an additional service cuts starting with the new fiscal year.”


Churches launch Gun Violence Task Force

In response to the ongoing shootings claiming still more Black lives, the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network has announced the formation of a Gun Violence Task Force. During a Nov. 19 press conference at Valley View Presbyterian Church in Lawrenceville, PIIN President Rev. John Welch of Bidwell Presbyterian Church said the task force was an outgrowth of the network’s Holy Ground campaign and introduced Co-chairs Rev. Glenn Grayson of Wesley Center AMEZ and Rev. Chad Collins of Valley View. DIVINE RIGHT—PIIN Gun Violence Task Force Co-chair Rev. Glenn Grayson, left, explains the task force’s goals as fellow Co-chair Rev. Chad Collins and PIIN President Rev. John Welch look on. (Photo by Gail Manker) Reverend Collins said the task force is still in its formative stages, but there are already 15 members from the network’s 40 congregations working on defining strategies.


Bryant: Crack cocaine a key to community breakdown

The overwhelming existence of drugs within many African-American neighborhoods has taken a toll on the once close-knit communities. The influx of these illicit narcotics could not have been predicted by the people who live within the boundaries of once thriving and safe environments. Communities have witnessed a decline in the value of lives of the young, the care of the elderly and the security of trust among each other. MAURITA BRYANT Assistant Pittsburgh Chief of Police Maurita Bryant, a native Pittsburgher, remembers all too well the initial breakdown of the African-American family as a result of the infiltration of the highly addictive crack cocaine. When you watch the assistant chief of investigations update crucial crime information to the local audience, one is assured that she is both qualified and sagacious. Among those enviable attributes, you will also find a deep sense of commitment to her native Pittsburgh.


Troops buck historical trend by saying gays OK

by Anne Flaherty WASHINGTON (AP)—When a majority of troops told the Pentagon this summer they didn’t care if gays were allowed to serve openly in the military, it was in sharp contrast to the time when America’s fighting forces voiced bitter opposition to accepting racial minorities and women in the services. HISTORY LESSON—Thomas J. Woods, 78, holds his graduation photo from the Marine Corps in 1951 in his home in Fayetteville, Ga. The stories of Woods and other Black vets who served among the military’s first desegregated units during the Korean War offer an iconic history lesson amid the debate over whether gays should be allowed to serve openly in uniform. (AP Photo/David Goldman) The survey, due out Nov. 30, is expected to find pockets of resistance among combat troops to ending the ban on gays. But some 70 percent of respondents were expected to say that lifting the ban would have a positive or mixed effect, or none at all, according to officials familiar with the findings.


Keys, Lady Gaga to sign off Twitter for charity

by Mesfin Fekadu (AP)–Alicia Keys and Lady Gaga take charity work seriously, and they’re going offline to prove it. Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Usher and other celebrities have joined a new campaign called Digital Life Sacrifice on behalf of Keys’ charity, Keep a Child Alive. The entertainers plan to sign off of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday, which is World AIDS Day. The participants will sign back on when the charity raises $1 million. DIGITAL DEATH—Alicia Keys performs on stage May 9 at the Festhalle in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (AP Photo/Mario Vedder, file) “It’s really important and super-cool to use mediums that we naturally are on,” Keys said in a phone interview from New York last week.


Report: How to reduce jail inmates, cost

During his run for governor, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato pledged to reduce the state’s ever ballooning penitentiary price tag by changing sentencing guidelines and increasing alternative sentencing options for non-violent offenders. He said it had been done successfully at the county level, but a report release Nov. 18 by the PEW Charitable Trusts Philadelphia Research Unit paints a different picture—one of increasing costs and jail population. ALLEGHENY COUNTY JAIL WARDEN RAMON RUSTIN Of the 10 jurisdictions examined in the Local Jails: Working to Reduce Populations and Costs report, Allegheny County saw the fourth highest cost increase, 19 percent, and the second highest population increase, 49 percent, between 1999 and 2009. African-Americans comprise just over 50 percent of the jail population.


Reactions to A+Schools gap report

November was a troubling month for those fighting to improve urban education as a number of national and local reports examining the achievement gap between Black and White students were released. Though some reports were hopeful, painting a picture of a narrowing achievement gap, others looked deeper at the achievement of African-Americans to reveal disheartening results. RANDALL TAYLOR In particular, a report by the Council of the Great City Schools revealed that on a national level the achievement gap between Black students and other students has become even wider. According to the report African-American male students are less proficient as compared to their White counterparts than before.


Community Calendar

Anniversary luncheon DEC. 1—The Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force will host their 25th Anniversary Luncheon Celebration from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Rivers Club, One Oxford Centre, 301 Grant St., Downtown. The highlighted speakers will be Dr. Marty St. Clair and Dr. Ron Stall of the University of Pittsburgh. There will also be a press conference at 10:30 a.m. at the City-County Building with free confidential testing. For more information, call Susan Orr at 412-345-7456 ext. 596 or email sorr@patf.org.


Wal-Mart makes firm offer on South African group

JOHANNESBURG (AP) —The U.S. giant retailer Wal-Mart is offering to buy 51 percent of South Africa’s Massmart stores, the two companies said in a joint statement Monday. MOVING INTO SOUTH AFRICA—The Wal-Mart logo is seen on a delivery truck in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) Wal-Mart is offering 148 rand (about $20) per share to Massmart stockholders in a 17 billion rand (about $2 billion) deal that has sparked concern among South African unions. It would be Wal-Mart’s first African foothold. Massmart shares were trading at 143.75 rand Monday morning, up 1.45 percent from Friday’s close. Massmart shares have been buoyed since Wal-Mart’s interest first became public in September. Massmart will continue to be listed on the Johannesburg exchange, addressing a concern of some major Massmart stockholders that led Wal-Mart to revise an earlier bid to buy all of Massmart.


This Week In Black History

For the week of Dec. 3-9 December 3 1847—Frederick Douglas and Martin R. Delaney establish “The North Star” and it goes on to become a major anti-slavery newspaper. THOMAS HEARNS 1922—Ralph Gardner is born in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a pioneer chemist whose research into plastics led to the development of so-called hard plastics and aided product developments in the petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries. 1982—Thomas “The Hit Man” Hearns defeats Wilfredo Benitez for the WBC Junior Middleweight boxing title. Hearns becomes the first person to win boxing titles in five different weight classes.