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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

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Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

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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. 27, 2012, 9:03 p.m.

Laurel: To Khalid Hussein. When a would-be robber tried to stick up the Allentown Dairy Mart on Christmas Eve, Mr. Hussein, the cashier on duty, nailed him with pepper spray. Police say the alleged thief, Mark Givner of New Kensington, debilitated by that spray, was easy to spot trying to shed his coat as he hobbled away. Here's to Hussein being the first and better shot.

Lance: To the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lots of highly paid “talent.” Lots of public support (from fanatics and taxpayers). And this is what we get — a badly broken team that's not playoff bound and one that needs a win Sunday against Cleveland just to have a .500 season. Here we go? There they went. Here's to lots of off-season retooling.

On the “Watch List”:

A convention center hotel. More than a few of Pittsburgh's “leaders” continue to push for a new (and publicly subsidized) hotel at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. It's supposedly “needed” to make the center “more attractive” for convention bookers. But all manner of hotel rooms are being added in Pittsburgh proper and, dare we say it, more and more are being privately financed. There's a market for new hotel rooms, all right — the kind only the free market should build and support.

• The I-576 extension. Pennsylvania Turnpike officials say that, beginning in 2014, they'll resume construction of the highway (better known as the Southern Beltway) from Route 22 in Washington County to the Washington-Allegheny county line at I-79. The price tag — now — is nearly $633 million. While the project might be worthy, the agency's financial position is not: It's nearly $8 billion in debt. Adding to that debt outweighs the project's benefits.

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