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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

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Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 8:59 p.m.

On the “Watch List”:

• The Iron City project. Collier Development is proposing a $100 million-plus complex on the site of the old Lawrenceville brewery. It would feature a 100-room hotel, 150 apartments, some shops and restaurants. But Collier also says it will seek public funding. How much? It's not saying. Why should taxpayers subsidize (and, in the process, assume some of the risk of) yet another developer's pursuit of profit?

• UPMC. The tax-exempt status of the health care giant is under increasing scrutiny. Its untaxed holdings have become quite vast. Compensation for more than a score of executives is quite high. Its charitable care, while numerically high, is a small fraction of its income pie. Expect the matter to end up in some court somewhere sooner rather than later.

Lance: To Luke Ravenstahl. Pittsburgh's mayor said he opposed City Council legislation that established a likely unconstitutional 10 percent tax on billboards. A court challenge is virtually assured. On Wednesday, though, Hizhoner allowed that legislation to become law without his signature. Its veto-proof majority was cited. But what about principle? What principle?

The big return: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, out for a month with an injured shoulder and ribs, is set to return to play on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh, 7-5, pretty much has a lock on a wild-card berth. And it's not unfathomable to think the Steelers could end the regular season with an 11-5 record, hitting their stride just as the playoffs open.

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