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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

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Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Lance: To Dr. Robert Petzel. The Department of Veterans Affairs' top health official, appearing at The National Press Club in Washington to tout planned tech upgrades, claimed he had a meeting, then stared straight ahead and refused to acknowledge a Trib reporter's questions about the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System's deadly 2011-12 Legionnaires' disease outbreak. The doctor's reprehensible stonewalling speaks volumes about the VA's arrogance, self-interest, dereliction of its sacred duty to America's veterans and disregard for public accountability.

On the “Watch List”: The Asian tiger mosquito. The Allegheny County Health Department warns that this transmitter of the deadly West Nile virus and other diseases has just been found in Lawrenceville. Seen elsewhere locally in previous seasons, it bites aggressively during daylight hours and can be distinguished from other mosquitoes by its black-and-white striped legs and body. Keep gutters clean and eliminate standing water, as the department recommends, to help minimize this summertime health threat.

Laurel: To the Pirates' winning new wrinkle. Not their stellar on-field record, but the 50/50 raffles new this season at PNC Park and enabled by the state's updated Small Games of Chance Act. They make winners of fans and such Pirates Charities projects as an upcoming Miracle League field for special-needs children in Indiana County. With big crowds drawn by the team's success pushing jackpots well into five figures, it's another way that the Bucs are proving they're winners.

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