Vaccinations, Fewer Cases Brighten COVID Outlook

Last month saw more encouraging signs that southwestern Pennsylvania is turning the corner in the battle to regain normalcy after a year of living under the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 2 of 3 people have been vaccinated against COVID in Allegheny County, one of the highest rates in Pennsylvania, according to state Health Department data. …

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A Well-Deserved Drue Heinz Prize-Winner

In The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories, winner of the 2020 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, Caroline Kim offers an expansive debut collection of stories that transports the reader across continents and centuries. Kim is a gifted writer of tremendous range—each story conjures a world unto itself. Throughout the collection, settings shift from the …

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Me and Mr. W

After I posted last week’s blog, a large number of people wrote in to ask how the private antitrust case turned out: Did I actually get eaten by rats? Did the case go to trial or settle? Did we win or lose? Previously in this series: “Antitrust Is More Interesting Than You Think” Your Humble …

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A Seismic Shift in Higher Ed

Between declining enrollment, rising costs and at least one more pandemic-disrupted semester, Pittsburgh’s colleges and universities are facing 2021 budget shortfalls that may impact this mainstay sector of the regional economy for generations to come. Though often hailed as a bright spot in western Pennsylvania’s relatively moribund economy, the higher education sector—locally and nationally—was already …

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Training Guidelines to Improve Strength and Endurance

Question: “I want to improve my overall level of strength and endurance. Are there any guidelines to ensure I can do it safely, correctly and effectively?” Getting the most out of an exercise program can best be accomplished by understanding and implementing fundamental principles that apply to all forms of physical training. These principles include …

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In the WomanCare Waiting Room, I Consider Flamingos

The pink robes at WomanCare smell like bleach. I wonder how many times they’ve been washed and reused. I wonder how many women have worn the robe I am wearing, how many of them were fine, how many were not fine, where they are now, if they have healed, if they are still here at …

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Consumer Confidence Trending up in Region

Confidence in the economy and their personal financial situation is rising among consumers in southwestern Pennsylvania as pandemic restrictions on businesses ease and the COVID vaccine reaches more people. But confidence in the local economy and their own employment outlook remain much lower than before the pandemic, despite the recent surge in optimism, according to …

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Antitrust Is More Interesting Than You Think

When I was a 3L, that is, a third-year law student, I — like every other 3L — spent half my time studying dismal areas of the law and half my time interviewing with law firms for permanent legal jobs. One of the firms I was interested in was Cravath, Swain & Moore. (Cravath, by …

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My Vegetable Garden, in Springtime

“The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.” —Rudyard Kipling My favorite time in the vegetable garden is in spring, after the soil is tilled and before the seeds are planted. Perennials are poking up—chervil, lovage, sorrel—but otherwise there’s little growth, just a blank canvas. The weather is cool, less humid and with …

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Unemployment Stable but Labor Force Shrinks

Unemployment in the Pittsburgh region held steady in March, but the local workforce continued to contract as it has throughout the pandemic. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 7.5 percent from February to March 2021, according to data from the state Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Information & …

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A Love Like No Other

All genuine love stories have moments of joy as well as moments of sadness. They may vary in intensity or duration, but they are never absent. Those who think of love as uninterrupted joy are romantics. Those who are obsessed only with sadness deserve their misery. This love story came to me out of coincidence. …

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The Dramatic Conclusion

Professor H was a formidable, brilliant, intimidating and impossibly rude professor, and I’m sure he was the model for the notorious Prof. Kingsfield in the movie “The Paper Chase” (which was about Harvard Law). Previously in this series: “The Senator’s Big Idea: Joe Biden Saved Me from Pocatello, Part III” Under normal circumstances, I’d never …

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New Paradigm

In 1889, Andrew Carnegie, whose immense wealth was earned along the banks of Pittsburgh’s rivers, called upon his peers to direct their fortunes toward the public good. In “The Gospel of Wealth,” he pitched “an ideal state, in which the surplus wealth of the few will become, in the best sense, the property of the …

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How Can We Motivate Kids to Exercise?

Question: “I have read that American children are falling behind the rest of the world in performance on basic fitness tests. How can we get kids to exercise more and improve their fitness?” Your assessment of the physical status of our younger generation is spot on. Over the last few decades, American children have become …

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Ode to the Nose

Somebody once asked Princess Di to name one thing she would change about herself. Without hesitation, she replied, “My nose.” Ah, the poor, long-suffering nose! Dissed by royals, no less. It’s the most maligned facial feature, but arguably the most indispensable. The eyes may be the windows of the soul, but the nose is the …

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The Senator’s Big Idea

Joe Biden was my new client because he’d called Joseph Hill Associates to ask about something called “federal revenue sharing” (FRS). Most people live long and happy lives without ever hearing that phrase, but, alas, not me. I was JHA’s resident expert on FRS. Previously in this series: “The Law Works in Mysterious Ways: Joe …

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Gimme Shelter

Emelee Mihalick, 37, a wife, mother of two and former teacher, has been involved with something else even longer than those three things. The Squirrel Hill resident is a volunteer who cares for dogs at shelters. Currently she is volunteering at the four-year-old Humane Animal Rescue in Pittsburgh’s East End. “My mom walked dogs,” remembered …

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Decorating the Silver Screen

Jan Pascale would be really great on a scavenger hunt. Fifty place settings of vintage Blue Willow china? A candlestick telephone? Camera equipment from the 1930s? A lineup of old, clunky manual typewriters? As a set decorator, she found all this and much more just for one movie, “Mank.” As Pascale said, “We did a …

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Region Adds Jobs, but Growth Is Slow

Employers in the Pittsburgh region added workers to their payrolls in March, but the modest job gains were a weak signal of recovery from the damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area gained about 9,000 jobs from February …

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Municipal Time Bomb

The fear was real last spring as local taxes—the lifeblood of boroughs, townships and cities—were trickling in. The COVID-19 pandemic was closing or impairing businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania, the state and nation. The U.S. unemployment rate soared to nearly 15 percent. “We worried that our revenues would collapse,” said Scott Andrejchak, the municipal manager of …

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Light as Air

Leanne Ford is working from home these days, just like everyone else. But home for Ford means Pittsburgh, as in the entire city and its environs. The interior designer and star of HGTV’s “Restored by the Fords” is positioning her new season, “Home Again with the Fords,” as part of a national trend. People across …

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It’s a Bird, Not an Insult

One April morning when I was watching my feeders, I noticed a woodpecker on a branch. At least I thought it was a plain, old woodpecker. Black and white plumage, chisel-like beak. But there was red on the front of its face and chin. Not the back-of-the-head, red splotch of the male downy or hairy …

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