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A Pa. Republican lawmaker eyes a run for governor — with a pitch that breaks from Trump

PHILADELPHIA — Republican state Sen. Dan Laughlin is moving toward a run for governor, presenting himself as a “center-right” conservative who can appeal to swing voters and avoid divisive cultural feuds — and drawing an implicit contrast with other Republicans trying to follow in the footsteps of former President Donald Trump. “If Republicans are to restore commonsense conservatism to the governor’s office,” the party needs “a candidate capable of reaching across party lines with an agenda focused on practical solutions and fiscal sanity,” Laughlin, of Erie County, said in a statement Friday ...

Philly elections officials reverse course and reject undated mail ballots amid impeachment threat

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia elections officials reversed course Tuesday and rejected undated mail ballots, hours after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said ballots must be signed and dated to count. The move came days after top Republicans in the state House threatened the two Democratic Philadelphia city commissioners with impeachment if they moved forward to count the undated ballots. Omar Sabir, a Democratic commissioner who voted last week to count the ballots, cited an email from the Pennsylvania Department of State in making a motion Tuesday to exclude them from the official ...

A year after police teargassed 52nd Street, Philadelphia activists and community members call for justice

PHILADELPHIA – One year ago Monday, Amelia Carter and her neighbors on 52nd Street watched in shock — and then panic and terror — as Philadelphia police lobbed tear-gas canisters throughout their residential neighborhood. The experience, she said, was like nothing she had ever been through. Unrest and looting in the West Philadelphia neighborhood amid a nationwide uprising over police brutality had been met with astonishing force from local police — who fired tear gas and rubber bullets indiscriminately at agitators, protesters and bystanders alike. On Monday, she told a crowd in Malcolm X Par...

Pennsylvania Republicans threaten to impeach Philly elections officials for counting undated mail ballots

PHILADELPHIA — Top Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature threatened Friday to impeach Philadelphia elections officials if they stand by their decision to count undated mail ballots from last week’s primary election. A four-justice majority of the seven-member Pennsylvania Supreme Court said in a complicated decision last year that voters must sign and date envelopes when returning their mail ballots. Republicans pointed to that case Friday, saying counties must reject the undated ballots. In a letter to city commissioners Lisa Deeley and Omar Sabir, the two Democrats who voted this week ...

Jake Tapper made up an entire Frank Sinatra song for his new novel. No, he won't sing it.

PHILADELPHIA — Fact and fiction become partners in "The Devil May Dance," a new novel by Philly's Jake Tapper that the CNN anchor set in the Rat Pack world of early 1960s Hollywood. In the sequel to Tapper's 2018 bestseller, "The Hellfire Club," the fictional New York congressman Charlie Marder and his zoologist wife, Margaret, find themselves on the West Coast, mixing it up with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, and JFK's brother-in-law Peter Lawford. It's all at the behest of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who's acquired leverage over the Republican congressman and is using i...

Man accused of stalking and raping Philly women may have targeted victims in 8 states, police say

PHILADELPHIA — An Indiana man accused of stalking and raping at least six women in Philadelphia may have traversed the Eastern Seaboard, targeting victims in as many as eight states, authorities said Monday. Kevin Bennett, 28, was arrested in Indianapolis on Saturday after Philadelphia police detected a pattern of a man in a gray Dodge Charger following, and in some cases sexually assaulting and robbing, women in the city. Almost all the women he targeted are employed as dancers or bartenders at gentleman’s clubs, leaving the tight-knit industry in Philadelphia on edge for days. “There’s a ver...

How misrepresentation in media impacts marginalized communities

When social epidemiologist Sharon D. Jones-Eversley speaks about false information circulated through media, she remembers a parable that her mother taught her. In the story, a man lies about another man in their tribe. "And the man [who lied], as he got older, he felt really bad about this lie," Jones-Everlsey explained in a recent Zoom call. Now an older, dying man in the tale, he went to visit the person he'd wronged. "He said, 'I lied on you. I messed up your life. I'm very sorry. And the man [replied], 'I forgive you.' He said, 'I been forgave you.' He said, 'But if you think that that li...

The NJ men accused of assaulting Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick will remain in custody until trial

Two New Jersey men charged with assaulting Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and others during the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington will remain in custody pending trial, a federal judge ruled Tuesday, despite evidence that cast certain aspects of the government’s case against them into doubt. Julian Khater, 32, and George Tanios, 39 — who grew up together in New Brunswick before moving to State College and Morgantown, West Virginia, respectively — have been behind bars since their arrest in March. But in hearings over the last two weeks, attorneys for both men attempted to convince the co...

As pollen torments millions, it might be getting worse, and it’s poorly measured in America

PHILADELPHIA – He found masses of pollen as thick as “oatmeal,” and once discovered that grains from palm trees had ridden the winds for hundreds of miles to reach his front porch. For 17 years, Timothy Craig intercepted the airborne gametes of trees, grasses, and weeds with a whirling trap, assiduously examined the captives with a microscope, and posted his inferred daily pollen counts for the benefit of science and the allergy-tormented. Not many people are going through that much trouble these days. “It’s very labor-intensive and time-intensive,” said Craig, a professor of medicine and pedi...

Biden touts a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ for Amtrak during Philly visit

PHILADELPHIA — President Joe Biden called Friday for a major investment in rail service to create jobs and fight climate change as he visited Philadelphia to promote his sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure proposal. “Today we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to position Amtrak and rail” to “play a central role” in the country’s economic future, Biden said at a blustery railyard just outside 30th Street Station. Touting a vision of new connections like one from Scranton and Allentown to New York, Biden, in a blue hat, said such investments would spark the economy with cleaner transportat...

Biden’s economic plan is vital for competing with China — and for US self-respect

Although President Joe Biden barely mentioned foreign policy in his address to Congress on Wednesday, it was really a foreign policy speech. In laying out a multitrillion-dollar plan to invest in infrastructure, education, basic research and the workforce, there was an underlying theme that may have eluded many listeners. “We’re in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century,” Biden said. “We have to compete more strenuously than we have.” He also said, “We have to prove democracy still works, that our government still works and can deliver for the people.” Indeed, Ameri...

Need another reason to get vaccinated? It prevents sepsis, the condition that makes COVID-19 deadly

PHILADELPHIA — The reason severe COVID-19 is so deadly is that it unleashes a condition called sepsis. Sepsis occurs when an abnormal immune response to an infection damages the body’s own tissues, leading to organ failure. Of the 26,266 people who were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Pennsylvania in the first seven months of the pandemic, about 8,000, or 31%, also were diagnosed with sepsis, according to a new report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). Among COVID-19 patients with sepsis, almost 1 in 3 died, compared with about 1 in 12 who were not diagnosed with ...

Supreme Court ponders the fate of a fracked natural gas pipeline to New Jersey

More than 230 years after the Founding Fathers adopted the Constitution, the nation's judiciary is still trying to figure out what "sovereign immunity" means, at least as it applies to a pipeline that delivers fracked Pennsylvania natural gas to New Jersey. The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments from the PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC, which complains that New Jersey illegally blocked it from acquiring key easements on land in which the state has an interest, thwarting the federally approved $1.2 billion pipeline. New Jersey says the U.S. Constitution's sovereign immunity clause e...

Police departments struggling with shortage of recruits, surge in retirements

PHILADELPHIA — Amid growing calls for police reform and national debate over the deadly use of force, police departments are struggling to retain and attract officers, law enforcement officials say. Across the nation, police officials and union leaders described the state of recruiting as in “crisis” mode. “It’s the perfect storm. We are anticipating that the department is going to be understaffed by several hundred members, because hundreds of guys are either retiring or taking other jobs and leaving the department,” said Mike Neilon, spokesperson for the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Polic...

Asian American leaders see ‘a pivotal moment’ for political participation amid rising hate

WASHINGTON — Andy Kim remembers the warnings from political professionals when he first considered running for Congress in South Jersey: There was no way an Asian American could win. “They just told me flat out, ‘No. No chance,’” Kim, a Democrat, recalled this month. “And that really hurt, because the district I represent is where I went to kindergarten, where my oldest son is going to kindergarten right now. It’s our home. And to tell me that people in my own home are going to see me as ‘the other’ and not see that I’m a neighbor? … I’m glad I proved them wrong. Twice.” Kim, whose district in...

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