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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.

Friday, July 24, 2009

On the "Watch List":

• Dan Onorato and Luke Ravenstahl. The Allegheny County chief executive and the mayor of Pittsburgh have begun an eight-month push to bolster census-response rates. Indeed, an accurate count is to the benefit of all. But here's a critical question for them:

Do they support the involvement of ACORN in the survey process• That would be the same ACORN that's accused in a number of states, Pennsylvania included, of voter registration fraud. That would be the same ACORN that aided the subprime mortgage mess by bullying banks to lend to those with dubious financial means.


• The G-20 economic summit. The powers that be keep talking about all the benefits of the Group of 20 meeting scheduled for Pittsburgh in late September. But given the security and restrictions that will be in place, it's time to start asking this: What will the G-20 cost the region's economy• You can't tout "benefits" without calculating the cost of lost business.


Lance: To Anthony Leffler. He's accused of indecently assaulting a child on a Port Authority bus. And here's the kicker: Mr. Leffler was the bus driver -- and he was driving the bus at the time. Investigators say they have videotape evidence of the alleged molestation from the bus' surveillance camera. Stunning. Shocking. Sick.

Laurel: To benevolence. The families of three slain Pittsburgh police officers will share about $1.5 million raised throughout the community. That's a testament to the kind of people Pittsburghers are. And it's a testament to the kind of respected and upstanding people Officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo II were.

Lance: To Ed Rendell. The Democrat governor who said he would stay neutral in next year's gubernatorial race says on a nationally syndicated radio show that Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato is "probably our next governor." So much for neutrality. The governor has yet to learn that the best position for his mouth oftentimes is closed.

Laurel: To the ACORN investigation. A half-dozen people associated with the community activist group and charged with voter registration fraud now will stand trial on the charges in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. The local cases could go a long way in bringing to justice an organization now the subject of investigation in many states.

And that's despite a frivolous federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of ACORN that seeks to use euphemisms to rationalize fraud.

Lance : To The Block Bugler. Those wacky, tax-happy editorialists at the Toledo, Ohio, paper are urging that any state budget agreement be put "on ice" until the Legislature authorizes the city of Pittsburgh to raise taxes on nonprofits and commuters. Sounds like dementia to us. If not, it's definite proof that drinking and editorializing don't mix.

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