Essential Andy Conte

U.S. Attorney David Hickton, on left, stops by WESA's Studio A to talk with me about Internet criminals.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton, on left, stops by WESA’s Studio A to talk with me about Internet criminals.

Pittsburgh’s NPR station, WESA-FM, handed me the keys to its daily news talk program Essential Pittsburgh.

I talked with U.S. Attorney David Hickton. This was his first live radio interview and he brought the passion for going after hackers — as well as some advice for computer users. “This is the crime of our age,” he said.

Steven_Labalme_Eiffel_TowerWe also chatted with @NewGirlInTown Elaine Labalme — about her recent trip through Europe. We compared notes about the continent’s more liberal attitudes. Of course you want the kids to see Amsterdam’s red-light district!

And finally, wIMAG1315e went out of the studio for a behind-the-scenes tour of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Observatory. You won’t believe what they have hiding in the basement! We also sat down with observatory director Lou Coban, who has one of the most unique jobs in town.

Many thanks to producer Marcus Charleston (below) for bringing this all together. You can hear the full rundown here.


Why Nutella?

nutellaJif crunchy peanut butter would have felt much more threatening, right? Like, how did this ISIS fighter in Syria get his hands on the most-American of sandwich spreads? Instead, the guy went for Nutella. Don’t get me wrong. I love Nutella. But that’s more of a threat to Italians maybe. Europhiles, for sure. ProdAdminImageRegardless, my latest cyber story looks at jihadist fighters using Twitter to taunt the United States and Europe from the frontlines of the battle.

As an aside, the New York Post had this take on an ISIS fighter mourning Robin Williams’ death. These guys might be fighting Western culture — but they also are deeply embedded in it.

My story…

One British fighter mockingly says he was so upset about American bombing raids on jihadists like himself in northern Iraq that he took a selfie while buying Nutella to “comfort my brittle heart.”

Another jihadist, dressed in black, posed for a photo with a young boy dressed likewise, adding a hashtag about swapping PlayStation video games for a real gun. Others posted images of American equipment left behind in Iraq, inviting troops to return.

Online taunts might seem glib, but fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — or now simply the Islamic State — have a growing desire to strike in the United States and Europe as a result of bombing to support Kurdish fighters, security experts told the Tribune-Review. Read more.