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Inside Pittsburgh (Nov 8th, 2019)

It's Friday, Inside Pittsburgh readers!

We've made it to the weekend, and we made it past our first "snow"fall of the season. (I didn't see a flake flying.)

– Bobby

1. Cameras used at many sites across the region – including school campuses and busy Carson Street – for security purposes were made by Chinese companies that have been banned by the federal government over concerns of hacking. The cameras in question are in place within the Seneca Valley School District, Montour School District and along a number of city streets, including Carson Street, Forbes Avenue and Penn Avenue. WTAE says the cameras were made by Dahua, which has been accused of collecting data from cameras at Fortune 500 companies and then sending it back to China. Allegheny County DA Stephen Zappala, whose office bought the cameras for city streets, said he wasn't concerned by the hacking. “You want to hack into a camera down on Carson Street? I mean, what information are you generating?” he said. But a Dahua camera is situated near the campus of Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute that has a $731 million contract with the Air Force. – WTAE

2. Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board's (PLCB) record profits are troubling some state lawmakers. The group took in $2.67 billion last year, according to its annual report. That figure represents the most amount of sales ever recorded for the PLCB, which regulates the sale and distribution of wines and spirits across the state. Of that figure, the PLCB returned more than $185 million to the state's general fund. PLCB officials say flex-pricing, approved by state lawmakers a few years ago, is the reason for the higher revenue. But Rep. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford County) equates the flex-pricing strategy to a tax on consumers. “The difficult thing about having a system that is state-owned—it’s not a free market,” he said. It's not known how successful Topper's bill to end flex-pricing would be given that lawmakers – even with Republican control – haven't been able to privatize liquor sales. – WESA

3. Democratic voters in battleground states – including the Keystone State – want a more moderate nominee, a new poll finds. A New York Times/Siena College survey released Friday shows Democratic voters in Arizona, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin would prefer a candidate who promises to "find common ground with Republicans" rather than "fight for a bold, progressive agenda." The poll shows former Vice President Joe Biden – who made a surprise appearance Tuesday night in Pittsburgh – with a lead over other top-tier candidates in every battleground state except Wisconsin where Sen. Elizabeth Warren had the preference of 25 percent of Democratic voters to Biden's 23 percent.  – NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this item first appeared in our Inside 2020 newsletter. Subscribe to get a twice-weekly look at the campaign.

4. The Humane Animal Rescue is offering free adoptions of senior pets throughout the month of November. Senior pets are considered to be 7 years old and older. The discount is part of a national Adopt a Senior Pet Month that focuses on families finding an older animal – and not a puppy or kitten – to add to the family. Adoption fees generally vary based on a number of factors, but the shelter website says most dog adoptions are $175 and most cat adoptions are $100. Those considering adoption would still need to go through the usual adoption application process. You can find details on adoptable animals here. – WTAE

5. In the December issue of The Atlantic, journalist Tom Junod shares his story of meeting Mister Rogers. "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," which is set for release this month," is inspired by the 1998 Esquire article "Can You Say... Hero?" by Junod. In the piece, Junod ponders why the television icon befriended him –of all the journalists who ever profiled Mister Rogers. "I still don’t know what he saw in me, why he decided to trust me, or what, to this day, he wanted from me, if anything at all. He puzzles me now as much as he did when I first met him at the door of the apartment he kept in New York City," Junod wrote in The Atlantic, referring to their first meeting more than two decades ago. Junod also touches on the oft-asked question of what Mister Rogers would think of our world today. "What he would have made of what is generally called our 'polarization' but is, in fact, the discovery that we don’t like our neighbors very much once we encounter them proclaiming their political opinions on social media," Junod wrote. – THE ATLANTIC

6. The Laurel Highlands was named among places like Nova Scotia, Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan and Ecuador as one of the top emerging destinations in the world for 2020. The Laurel Highlands landed at No. 27. The region, of course, offers beautiful scenery among a number of destinations, including Fallingwater, Seven Springs Mountain Resort and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Part of the entry reads: “Who would have thought that one of the best nature destinations in the United States was just an hour outside of Pittsburgh?" We thought it, of course. It's a beautiful area. – PENNLIVE

7. InstaBurgh: We're chugging into a fall weekend with this awesome photo from @barkandshutter.

Bobby Cherry is a senior editor at and Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist. Follow his love of all things Pittsburgh and more on Twitter and Instagram. He also shares his love of the holiday season at

Editor: Kim Lyons, Inside Managing Editor and Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist.

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