Heads Up: Morning headlines for Nov. 19

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Story of the weekend: A city contractor -- one with ties to police chief Nate Harper -- is facing charges of bribery, mail fraud, and conspiracy. A grand jury has accused Arthur J. Bedway Jr. of winning a city contract by passing off his firm as a woman-owned business, and getting some untoward assistance from a city employee. (You can see the indictment here.) You may recall Bedway's name from earlier media coverage about tensions between city police and a security company Bedway owns.

No surprise here: Pennsylvania's population is still getting older, and that has real consequences for governments, from Harrisburg on down to the school district level. According to a state financial panel, the number of workers under age 65 will stagnate ... while the number of residents over age 65 will grow by more than one-quarter. Meanwhile, the young folks who graduate from state colleges will also be hampered by massive student-loan debts -- among the highest in the country. Like it or not, this could be the state's future: Expect plenty of debate on healthcare spending, education, and whether or not dancing is a tool of the devil.

It's been two weeks since the elections, but some newspapers are still doing some major-league crushing on state Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane. Read all about how her upstart candidacy managed to garner more votes than any other campaign in the state -- even Barack Obama's.

On the flip side, the heat is on for state Rep. Jesse White, at least at the Tribune-Review. Some tough words for White -- a critic of natural-gas drilling who stands accused of lashing out because drillers didn't do him enough favors -- from Pitt professor Jerry Shuster. But White appears unbowed: He offered up feature-length account of his falling-out with the industry last week.

Finally, 'tis the season for stories about how the holiday shopping season starts earlier every year. Of course, part of the equation is that the stories themselves appear earlier every year too. Here are some yahoos -- also celebrated in today's Post-Gazette -- who have nothing else to do with their lives but camp out in front of a big-box retail store days before "Black Friday." Stories like this have become just one more incredibly tiresome holiday ritual, like 24-7 Christmas carols on the radio, and having to be nice to your sister-in-law. Part of the media's ritual, of course, involves a certain amount of hand-wringing over how nothing is sacred anymore and gosh, is this something we should be celebrating? But of course, such stories rarely address the media's own complicity in the problem. People camping out in front of Best Buy days in advance are, by definition, far less interesting than other human beings. And yet they are the ones who will become local-news celebrities. Because this is just the kind of story media outlets like: It's "quirky," and celebrates habits of consumption that may someday lead to additional ad revenues. Bah. Humbug.

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