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LGBT couples now have weddings to plan

After the recent ruling legalizing gay marriage, couples get to wedding planning -- which should be a boon to the state's economy.

Getting married was not a pressing priority for Christine Donato and Sandy Ferlanie, despite their being plaintiffs in the case that led a federal judge to strike down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage on Tuesday.

But Gov. Tom Corbett’s decision not to appeal the ruling by Judge John E. Jones III of Federal District Court suddenly transformed marriage for the couple from a distant prospect into a near-term reality...The women received the news of Mr. Corbett’s decision while sitting in the living room of their shingle-clad suburban home. Tears, cheers and hugs quickly followed...

For Ms. Donato, 45, and Ms. Ferlanie, 46, the legalization of same-sex marriage in their home state will allow them to tell their 5-year-old son, Henry, that his parents are finally getting married, just like the parents of many of his kindergarten friends.

They also hope that an early wedding ceremony will allow them to be married in the presence of their parents, who are in their 70s and 80s.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Penn State researchers explore happiness in the workplace

Researchers at Penn State looked at cortisone levels to determine how happy people are at work.

While work is widely viewed as the major source of stress for Americans, new research shows that people have significantly lower stress levels when they are at the office compared to their time at home.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University tested the cortisol levels of 122 workers during the workday and on weekends. Using saliva samples, they found that levels of cortisol – which is a biological marker for stress – were on the whole much lower when the person was at work than when he or she went home.

The finding suggests that for many people, the workplace is a sort of haven away from life’s daily problems. At home, the pressures of juggling work and family responsibilities set in and cause us to feel more stress.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Pennsylvania Food & Wine Festival set for this weekend

Pennsylvania Food & Wine Festival at the Monroeville Convention Center will showcase the state's top producers.

Sure, you can buy wine from all around the world, but the 15 wineries participating in a festival this week want to show folks what's being made right here in Pennsylvania.

The second annual Pennsylvania Wine & Food Festival, set for June 14 at the Monroeville Convention Center, will feature more than 60 exhibitors, including 15 wineries from Western and Central Pennsylvania and other parts of the state.

“We look forward to this event,” says Tina West, co-owner of Allegheny Cellars Winery in Sheffield, Warren County. The winery makes red, white, blush and fruit wines and is bringing eight kinds of wine for visitors to taste.

“I think it educates the people in Pennsylvania about Pennsylvania wines and the different types of grapes that we grow here, as opposed to California,” West says.

At the festival's entrance, visitors will be given a 2-ounce wine glass, which they can take from booth to booth to get unlimited samples from 150 wines. If they make a purchase, they can pick up the bottle or case on the way out or drink it at the festival along with any food they buy. The food vendors, largely local, offer items including homemade dips, cheeses, meats, cookies and fudge.


Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Read the complete story here.

A journey through Pennsylvania history through its farm buildings

Pennsylvania is filled with beautiful farm buildings that tell the state's rich agricultural history.

The rustic beauty of Pennsylvania’s farmhouses, barns and outbuildings often strikes motorists traveling the highways that crisscross the rural heartland of the state, but few people realize the stories these buildings can tell us about the past — and maybe the future — of agriculture.

They can reveal how farm families in Pennsylvania lived and worked, as well as who settled the state, says Sally McMurry, professor of American history, Penn State. Handsome farmhouses and barns often literally and figuratively overshadow plainer and smaller agricultural outbuildings, but the latter structures focus a historic spotlight on the diversity and entrepreneurialism of Pennsylvania farming operations.


Original source: Gant Daily
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner killed in plane crash

Lewis Katz, a co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, was killed in a plane crash in Massachusetts. 

At the last minute on Saturday, Lewis Katz, a philanthropist and co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, invited Anne Leeds, a longtime friend and neighbor from Longport, N.J., to accompany him and two others on a quick day trip to Concord, Mass. They were going up to help support a nonprofit education effort.

The day before, Mr. Katz had also invited Edward G. Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania. Such spur-of-the-moment invitations from Mr. Katz were common, a function of his access to a jet and his spontaneous personality.

While Mr. Rendell could not make the trip, Ms. Leeds could, and she was ready to go within a couple of hours.
But on the way home on Saturday night, the trip ended in disaster when the plane exploded in a fireball in suburban Boston. Everyone on board — four passengers, two pilots and one cabin attendant — was killed.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here; or click here for the Inquirer's reporting.

Adaptimmune to develop early-stage cancer drug with GlaxoSmithKline

Adaptimmune, a local company Keystone Edge has covered in the past, has reached a $350 million deal with GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical giant with a presence in the Navy Yard, to develop new cancer treatments.

Founded in 2008, Adaptimmune, which is privately held, is developing cancer treatments designed to strengthen a patient’s white blood cells. The company’s research arm is based in Oxford, England, and its clinical operations are based in Philadelphia.

Under the agreement, Adaptimmune could receive more than $350 million in payments from Glaxo over the next seven years. It would receive additional payments if Glaxo exercised all of its options under the deal and if certain milestones were met.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Tax advice for PA's LGBT spouses

Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage law means a complicated tax riddle for newly-hitched LGBT couples. The Business Journal provides some advice.

Now that the federal courts have ruled that Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, and Governor Corbett has announced that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will not appeal the ruling, it is an appropriate time to consider the gains and losses, pluses and minuses, and financial planning challenges for LGBT and other non-traditional couples.

It has been determined that LGBT couples can file joint federal income tax returns if they are married. In fact, if they were legally married in a state or country that recognized same-sex marriages, they are required to file joint federal income tax returns or, alternately, “married filing separately.” As with traditional heterosexual couples, the decision to file either married or married filing separately can be based on a variety of financial and other considerations.

Perhaps most importantly, with the law in Pennsylvania now settled, Pennsylvania LGBT couples need to look at income tax planning, estate tax planning, gift planning and other aspects of their wills, trusts and joint decisions with essentially the same options for processes and pitfalls, as traditional married couples. Other nontraditional couples -- whether same-sex or opposite sex, living together, owning property together and considering themselves to be “life partners” -- need to continue to recognize where good planning, tax advice and legal advice are required to avoid unforeseen problems for the couple, their families, their children and other loved ones.


Original source: The Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the complete story here.

Taking a deeper look at Pennsylvania Dutch cooking

Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is often misunderstood; a writer for The Tribune-Review examines this delicious culinary tradition.

Pennsylvania Dutch cooking does not seem to capture the food lover's imagination the way barbecue, Southern, Cajun/Creole, Pacific Northwest or other American cooking styles do. Ask most people what they know of it, and they are likely to mention the tourist smorgasbords of Lancaster County or — gasp! — scrapple.

As a native son of the cuisine, I've always wondered why. While you might not hanker for crispy fried slices of scrapple the way I do, there's much appealing comfort food to be found. And, while it is overlooked and often misunderstood, it is more widespread than you think; as food historian William Woys Weaver says, “You can get Pennsylvania Dutch cooking in Ontario.”

Why hasn't it become more famous, then? Weaver says it's because there are two very different cookeries involved: the real thing (home cooking) and the tourist fare that developed in the 1930s.

“The great myth is that Pennsylvania Dutch means Amish, when, in fact, the Amish represent only about 5 percent of the total Pennsylvania Dutch population,” says Weaver, director of the Keystone Center for the Study of Regional Foods and Food Tourism in Devon, Pa. “They are good farmers, but culinary art is not what they are about.”


Original source: The Tribune-Review
Read the complete story here.

Executive director also departs Pennsylvania Ballet, following artistic director

The executive director of the Pennsylvania Ballet has followed the artistic director out the door.

It’s all change at Pennsylvania Ballet. Just two weeks after the announcement that its artistic director, Roy Kaiser, would leave the company once a successor was found, the troupe has announced that its executive director, Michael Scolamiero, will also depart. He will take up the same position at Miami City Ballet...

The Pennsylvania Ballet has appointed an interim executive director, David Gray, who has held executive director positions at a number of cultural institutions (and is the husband of the former New York City Ballet principal Kyra Nichols). Mr. Gray will work alongside Mr. Scolamiero until he leaves at the end of June. “Now that our 50th Anniversary Season is winding down, it seems like an appropriate time for change,” Mr. Scolamiero said in a statement, closely echoing Mr. Kaiser’s comment on his own departure.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Pushing BRT in bustling urban centers, including Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system has been a huge success -- but there is still a battle over its integration into Downtown.

Space is the biggest battle, says Weinstock, but the problem is largely illusory. In technical terms, any street 40-feet wide can handle BRT. Drivers and businesses often fear the loss of traffic lanes or parking and delivery areas, but traffic patterns and customers tend to find a way of rerouting themselves — as they did when New York repurposed hundreds of miles of city streets during the Bloomberg administration (albeit for bikes and pedestrians).

More often, says Weinstock, the challenge is political will masquerading as street space. "People like to say there's no space," she says. "It's more that there's not the political will to take the space that exists."

Take the case of the East Busway — a dedicated BRT highway in metro Pittsburgh. The busway has done loads of good for the city: it's stimulated hundreds of millions of dollars in development and contributed to the 38 percent of city commuters who reach downtown by bus. ITDP recently gave it a bronze BRT rating.

But the East Busway loses a lot of its impact when it enters mixed traffic downtown. Bus traffic is so bad within the city center, with riders crowding sidewalks, that businesses have urged local officials to eliminate buses from entering the downtown area at all. Weinstock say the problem could be avoided by running true BRT downtown, because the buses would be organized in an attractive and efficient way.


Original source: The Atlantic's CityLab
Read the complete story here.

The Los Angeles Times examines Philly's innovative blight management strategies

The Los Angeles Times covers our city's latest creative strategies for combatting neighborhood decay.

After decades of ignoring the blight that has spread through its neighborhoods, Philadelphia is trying to reclaim its vacant homes through aggressive initiatives designed to compel negligent owners to fix their properties or see them seized and torn down.

In just a few short years, the city has made impressive progress; experts say some of the tools used in Philadelphia may help other post-industrial cities coping with decades-long population decline and the neglected space left behind.?..

The door and window ordinance allows community groups to take over dilapidated properties and repair them. Another will establish a land bank for the city so it can begin to redistribute abandoned properties to people and groups who want to build something new.

Neighborhoods where the new strategies have been applied have seen home prices rise 31% over four years, compared with a 1% rise in comparable areas, according to a study by Ira Goldstein of the Reinvestment Fund. The initiatives increased home values by $74 million throughout Philadelphia, Goldstein said, and brought in $2.2 million more in transfer tax receipts.


Original source: The Los Angeles Times
Read the complete story here.

Looking back at the work of a Wilkes-Barre street photographer

Works by Mark Cohen, a longtime Wilkes-Barre resident and street photographer, are on display at the Danziger Gallery in Manhattan. The New York Times looks back at Cohen's love affair with his hometown.

After 40 wonderful years, Mark Cohen has abruptly ended his relationship with his muse. It might seem like cold betrayal, but it’s really more complicated than that.

His muse isn’t a woman. It’s Wilkes-Barre, his Pennsylvania hometown, where he has been making stark street photographs since the 1970s. Last year Mr. Cohen, 71, moved to Philadelphia and into an apartment more manageable than the house where he raised his children and had his commercial studio.

His old romance was a black-and-white affair, literally, and he is showing some of those gritty images from the 1970s and 1980s at the Danziger Gallery in Manhattan. But this time he has included many lesser-known color photographs from the same era.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story (and check out some images) here.

Raves for the Pennsylvania Ballet's triple bill

A Director’s Choice triple bill marks a time of transition for the Pennsylvania Ballet.

In its resident choreographer, Matthew Neenan, it has one of the freshest and most remarkable American ballet choreographers based outside New York. Another American, Trey McIntyre, made a world premiere that was the most remarkable feature of this triple bill. How will the company change under its next director?

...In this final solo, which is in waltz tempo, [Alexander] Peters never loses his energy or openness; but the directions and dynamics he takes contradict themselves, compellingly. This way? That way. Left? Right. Jump? Walk. At the end, center stage, facing us, he raises one arm. Then, keeping it aloft, he takes his other hand, and slowly brings it down that raised arm, then down and across his torso until it hangs by his side; both arms now make a single vertical line, and his head and torso tip sideways. It’s a weirdly eloquent image (not without sensuousness), suggesting that he is helplessly caught by an impulse larger than he is. This is his fate; he presents it to us, frankly, even sensuously. Marvelous dancer; compelling solo.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia schools face new round of cuts

Budget issues continue to inflict pain on Philadelphia's public schools.

A $216-million budget shortfall could force Philadelphia’s public schools to make further staffing cuts next year, school officials said on Friday.

The superintendent of schools, William R. Hite Jr., said the 131,000-student district would not have the money it needed to maintain existing levels of education that he said were already "wholly insufficient" after a $304-million budget cut at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

The district, which has had chronic budget problems, laid off some 3,800 employees as a result of that cut. Although about a quarter of those employees were rehired as some funding was restored, about 2,350 jobs could be eliminated next year unless the district finds funding to bridge its new shortfall, Dr. Hite said...

The district is also looking to the private sector for financial help, but corporate or individual gifts tend to be for specific projects, not recurring revenue, he said. The district’s sale of some two dozen vacant school buildings is expected to raise $25 million by June 30, said the district’s chief financial officer, Matthew E. Stanski.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

The artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet is stepping down

After 35 years, Roy Kaiser is stepping down as the artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet.

In a news release Mr. Kaiser, 56, said that he felt that the end of the company’s 50th season was the right time to “transition the Company over to a new artistic leadership.” A search committee has begun to look for a new director, and Mr. Kaiser will continue in his post until a candidate is chosen. A company spokeswoman said that the board hoped to name the new director in the fall. Mr. Kaiser will remain associated with the troupe as artistic director emeritus.?

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
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