Daily Archive: January 20, 2012

Entertainment

Best kept secret

What do people do on a Monday night in Pittsburgh after they leave their day job? You can go to the mall, maybe go to church, how about going out to eat or to a movie. Or just go home until it is time to go back to work the next day. All of those are good options. But how about attending a staged reading during the “Readers Roundtable” at the August Wilson Center that is absolutely free? DURING INTERMISSION—Doreen Scott talks to playwright Randy Pitts. On Jan. 9, a sizeable audience enjoyed “Secrets of the Paranormal” by playwright and retired IRS employee Randy Pitts. So what is a staged reading? It is a reading of the play with script in hand, without costumes and blocking. The actors sit in chairs on the stage and read their parts. The reading can be a helpful tool for the writer. The writer can hear their work and often gauge audience reaction.

Entertainment

Shakespeare Gem ‘As You Like It’ features Smiling at O’Reilly Theater

Stage actor Lindsay Smiling loves performing the works of William Shakespeare. “Once people can see that you can handle the language of Shakespeare, you get more calls to do it,” explained Smiling whose theater credits have included “Othello” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” LINDSAY SMILING “What I enjoy about Shakespeare is that his work deals with things that we don’t deal with today like castles and banishment, but people then like today deal with love, family, friendship and all these great things. I also love it because I get to use the full musicality (of) the words to tell the story.”

Business

Housing bust still haunts banks

by Pallavi Gogoi NEW YORK (AP)—The economy may be healing, but banks are suffering from a housing hangover. JPMorgan Chase spent $3.2 billion last year to fight lawsuits, almost all of them over poorly written mortgages. That was down from $5.7 billion in 2010, but it made clear that housing still haunts the bank, five years after the bubble burst. INCOME FALLS—This Oct. 12, 2011 file photo shows the J.P. Morgan Chase logo at the base of one of the bank’s larger Lower Manhattan buildings in New York. JPMorgan Chase said Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, its income fell 23 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 after the bank set aside a large sum for litigation reserves and its investment banking income declined. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) The bank said Friday that it set aside $528 million in the last three months of 2011 to fight lawsuits. It also spent $925 million in the fourth quarter to carry out foreclosures and handle mortgage defaults.

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Health

HIV/AIDS

This sixth segment, with a focus on HIV/AIDS, is part of an eight-part series on health disparities in the Pittsburgh region. These segments are the result of a collaboration among the New Pittsburgh Courier, Community PARTners within the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI; http://www.ctsi.pitt.edu) and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. Pitt School of Medicine Assistant Professor Michael Yonas, DrPH, sat down with Esther Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, to discuss this month’s focus on HIV/AIDS among African Americans in Allegheny County. ESTHER BUSH

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Lifestyle

Be passionate

The first thing I noticed when I went to the August Wilson Center on Jan. 9 was the passion, particularly the passion of the playwright Randy Pitts. I saw that same passion in Marc Clayton Southers and the actors on the stage. I love to see people passionate about something that they like or really believe in. I see it often in the people that are around me—passion for their sorority, fraternity, club or hobby. I think everyone should find a passion or two. I work with a gentleman who is passionate about cameras, photography and film. He recently brought an old camera and had it delivered to work. I don’t blame him I wouldn’t have trusted it to be sitting on the porch while I was at work either. The camera was the style that looked like an accordion with a black drape that goes over your head. It is a film camera that he plans to use to take pictures of buildings.

Metro

Oliver, Arsenal prepare for mergers

On Nov. 22 the Pittsburgh Public School District approved a realignment plan that would see the merger of Oliver and Perry High Schools, Arsenal and Fort Pitt Elementary schools, and others. While some are still working to fight these mergers—namely Oliver and Perry—school district administrators and staff are working to ensure smooth transitions by the time the 2012-2013 school year rolls around.

Metro

Report: PPS achievement lowest in area

Six months ago, the New Pittsburgh Courier reported that the Pittsburgh Public School District spends more per student than area charter schools and neighboring suburban schools. Conversely, among these same seven charter schools and five suburban districts, PPS has the lowest achievement, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education Achievement Report 2010-2011. “That’s not shocking. The reality of it is, a lot of these different schools have way more resources,” said Alichia Parker, president and CEO of A PAR Educational LLC, a company that offers education consulting services and private tutoring. “You have to ask the question, what are they spending the money on. Is it going to those resources? I think the Pittsburgh Public Schools needs to be unique.”

Metro

Judge delays use of new property values

The good news for Allegheny County homeowners is while Common Pleas Judge Stanton Wettick has ordered the county to continue the 2012 property reassessment, he has delayed the use of the new valuations until next year. The 2002 property values will again be used for county, municipal and school tax bills. Wettick’s order came in response to a request from the Pittsburgh Public School District, which sought the delay to assure successful appeals did not leave it with a large hole in its budget. “It’s too risky,” Wettick said when announcing his decision Jan. 12. “School districts could lose a lot of money.”

National

Barely holding on to ‘The American Dream’

by Eric Mayes For New Pittsburgh Courier PHILADELPHIA (NNPA)—Jobless, facing a mountain of bills and the possibility of losing his house, Michael Timpson of West Philadelphia has begun to doubt the American Dream. “American dream? What American dream?” the 53-year-old asks quietly. KEEPING HIS HEAD ABOVE WATER—Michael Timpson, 53, of West Philadelphia, lost his job as a welder six months ago. He’s been unable to find work since, and now faces the loss of his home complicated by a family health crisis that makes keeping his head above water that much more difficult. (Philadelphia Tribune Photo/Abdul R. Sulayman/Chief Photographer)

Opinion

The American deficit: Where do we go from here?

(NNPA)—“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it. Not too many years ago, Dr. Kirtley Mather, a Harvard geologist, wrote a book entitled Enough and to Spare. He set forth the basic theme that famine is wholly unnecessary in the modern world. Today, therefore, the question on the agenda must read: Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life?”