Philadelphia

Pennsylvania System Glitch Let Non-Citizens Register To Vote

Sep 21, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Some people who are in the U.S. legally but who are not citizens were mistakenly allowed to register to vote in Philadelphia because of a glitch in Pennsylvania's electronic driver's licensing system, a city election official said Wednesday.

Al Schmidt, a Republican who sits on Philadelphia's three-member election commission, said that since 2006 at least 168 noncitizens registered to vote in the city through the motor voter driver's licensing system. In some cases, they voted, and some of them voted in more than one election, Schmidt said.

Emma Lee / WHYY

This story is part of a WHYY series examining how the United States, four decades later, is still processing the Vietnam War.

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It was Bonnie Raines' job to case the joint.

Her target: the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. If all went according to plan, Raines and fellow anti-war activists would pull off a burglary that would go down in history as exposing J. Edgar Hoover's secret surveillance of groups demonstrating the war in Vietnam.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Last year, some schools in the Philadelphia area became "sanctuary campuses," promising to protect undocumented students and those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The Trump administration's announcement last week that it will end DACA, a program shielding some  young people from deportation, could test that resolve if it, in fact, sunsets as promised in March.

Leaders of some "sanctuary campuses," such as the University of Pennsylvania — President Donald Trump's alma mater, immediately condemned the government's reversal.

zeevveez / Flickr

Gnats!

The Philadelphia police department and other agencies in the suburbs were kept busy with calls reporting swarms of gnats which, experts say, are actually flying ants.

The reports Monday are a result of the insects mating, a one-day, once-a-year occurrence.

The swarms were reported in Philadelphia and up the Lehigh Valley into Bethlehem, as well as Bucks and Montgomery counties and other areas. Similar clouds of insects were reported in Michigan and Connecticut.

Matt York / AP

Politicians and organizations in Philadelphia are raising money to help pay for applications to a soon-to be-ended program that allows young immigrants without legal status to remain in the country.

Officials on Monday announced the launch of The Dreamers Initiative , a fundraising effort to cover the $495 fee needed to renew an application to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program.

Philadelphia Is The Latest City To Sue U.S. Government Over 'Sanctuary' Conditions

Aug 30, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Philadelphia on Wednesday became the latest "sanctuary city" to sue Attorney General Jeff Sessions over what officials say are unconstitutional immigration restrictions placed on a major federal grant.

The city is asking the court to stop Sessions from adding these conditions to a its Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant, which it uses to pay police overtime, upgrade equipment and courtroom technology and train officers.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Pittsburgh isn’t the worst place for bed bugs in the U.S., but it did make a list of the country’s top offenders, according to Terminix.

The extermination company released a list of the top cities for bed bugs based on the volume of service requests for the first half of the year.

Pittsburgh ranked No. 12, just below Philadelphia, which ranked No. 10 on the list. However, you don't have to travel far to find the worst city for bed bugs: Cleveland, Ohio.

Pennsylvania Grapples With New Sentences For Juvenile Lifers

Jul 31, 2017
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections / AP

On a long-ago summer night, 16-year-old Giovanni Reid accepted a neighbor's invitation to an International House of Pancakes restaurant as thanks for watching the man's infant son.

Matt Rourke / AP

Philadelphia's police commissioner is challenging Attorney General Jeff Sessions for blaming immigrants for much of the nation's violent crime.

Commissioner Richard Ross says "young men from here" who are hopeless and dealing with poverty are a bigger problem.

Ross also says he doesn't think local law enforcement "belongs in the immigration business." He says it's tough enough for police to build bonds with local residents without having them worry about their immigration status.

Bill Cosby Goes On Trial, His Freedom And Legacy At Stake

Jun 5, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP, file

Bill Cosby went on trial Monday on charges he drugged and sexually assaulted a woman more than a decade ago, with a prosecutor warning the jury not to fall into the trap of confusing the 79-year-old comedian with the beloved family man he played on TV.

Douglas Bovitt / AP

Granite from a Philadelphia park that was a skateboarding mecca, though for a long stretch an illegal one, is being put to new use at a skate park being built nearly 4,000 miles away.

Slabs from the city's famed LOVE Park, named for Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture, are being shipped to the city of Malmo, Sweden.

Malmo's skateboarding coordinator told KYW-TV that the granite will be used for a project he says will "rock the skateboarding world."

Philadelphia's Music Legacy Is Vast But Hard To Find

May 30, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Detroit has the Motown Museum. Mississippi has a blues trail. Memphis has Graceland, Sun Studio and the Stax Museum of American Soul.

But in Philadelphia — birthplace of the lush acoustic style known as The Sound of Philadelphia and the hometown of "American Bandstand" and Chubby Checker's "Twist" — there's no major place of pilgrimage for music fans.

"Tourists come here expecting and hoping to experience our music legacy, and we leave them wanting," said Patty Wilson Aden, president of The African American Museum.

A diverse musical legacy

AP

Harrisburg lawmakers accepted over $145 thousand in hospitality, gifts, and other travel in 2016, according to recently-filed financial interest disclosure forms.

The commonwealth has one of the loosest laws for reporting those gifts in the country.

The filings are coming as advocates across the state make a renewed push to get lawmakers to impose regulations on the amount of money they can take.

Republican Representative Rick Saccone, of Allegheny County, said regulations governing what needs to be reported--like dinners--are also loose.

Modern-Day Revolution Celebrated In Philadelphia Street Art

May 30, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Seeking to appeal to visitors more familiar with the words of "Game of Thrones" heroine Daenarys Targaryen than the writings of James Wilson, Philadelphia museums and historic sites are thinking differently, using creative art exhibitions and adding online components to their offerings.

iStock / WITF

As Philadelphia heads for a record year of drug overdose deaths, a task force is proposing a series of actions, from combatting stigma to considering allowing safe sites where drug users could inject heroin.

Mayor Jim Kenney was joined by Governor Tom Wolf in outlining the task force's findings Friday.

Kenney convened the 23-member group in January to focus on developing a plan to combat the city's opioid epidemic.

What Happens When You Mix An NFL Draft With Watercolors?

Apr 28, 2017
Emma Lee / WHYY

Art is having a hard time competing with football.

The NFL draft has taken over most of the Parkway, as well as the famous Rocky steps that lead to Philadelphia Museum of Art, completely blocking its front entrance.

The museum will remain open during its regular hours throughout the draft, via it West side entrance, at the rear of the building near the Schuylkill River.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

There are all sorts of eureka moments that might make someone decide to remake their lives, from a bad breakup to a health scare to job loss.

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps / University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

Rates of obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, breast cancer screenings and childhood poverty are all on the rise as Allegheny County fell in state rankings released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Gene J. Puskar / AP File Photo

Population data has a way of freaking people out. After all, population determines federal allocation dollars, which trickle down to the state, county, and local levels, said Peter Borsella, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau, which released county and metro-area population estimates on Thursday. 

So let’s get this over with: From 2015 to 2016 Pennsylvania waved goodbye to just fewer than 8,000 people. Most counties lost population, though 19 posted some growth.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

Jewish centers in York and Harrisburg were among those affected by a wave of bomb threats in at least 11 states Monday. This came the day after more than 100 headstones were knocked over at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.

Judge Rules Bill Cosby Case To Be Decided By Outside Jury

Feb 27, 2017
Bill Fraser/Bucks County Courrier Times / via AP Pool

 A jury from outside the Philadelphia suburbs will be brought in to decide the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby, a judge ruled Monday, rejecting a defense request to move the trial itself because of worldwide media reports that brand the actor a "serial rapist."

Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said jurors will remain sequestered during Cosby's June trial on charges that he drugged and molested a former Temple University employee in 2004.

Headstones Vandalized At Jewish Cemetery In Philadelphia

Feb 27, 2017

Philadelphia police say approximately 100 headstones have been damaged at a Jewish cemetery in the northeastern part of the city. The vandalism occurred less than a week after a similar episode in a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis, where more than 150 graves were targeted.

Ringling Bros. Circus To Close After 146 Years

Jan 14, 2017
AP

After 146 years, the curtain is coming down on "The Greatest Show on Earth." The owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus told The Associated Press that the show will close forever in May.

The iconic American spectacle was felled by a variety of factors, company executives say. Declining attendance combined with high operating costs, along with changing public tastes and prolonged battles with animal rights groups all contributed to its demise.

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

What little difference four years can make.

Students at Kenderton Elementary have seen five principals and heard countless broken promises in fewer years.

Pennsylvania Seeks Safer Ways To Buy And Sell Online

Dec 13, 2016
Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

Allentown’s Mayor Ed Pawlowski and Police Chief Keith Morris announced recently that people who are engaging in internet-based sales and purchases can now conduct their transactions at a designated parking spot in front of the police patrol station at 10th & Hamilton Street. The idea is to provide a place where people can buy or sell items with a heightened level of safety.

Philadelphia To Ban Employers From Asking Salary History

Dec 8, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

Philadelphia will soon ban employers from asking job applicants for their salary history.

Supporters have argued such questions perpetuate pay discrimination against women and minorities.

Councilman Bill Greenlee, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, told The Philadelphia Inquirer "it's about fairness."

He said employers should base the salary offer on what the job is worth and what experience the applicant brings.

A spokesman for Mayor Jim Kenney said he will sign it into law.

Around 4,700 public transportation workers in Philadelphia went on strike at midnight, shutting down many of the city's transit options.

The members of the Transport Workers Union Local 234 and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, were unable to agree on a new contract.

The strike is causing widespread disruption, and raising concerns that if the situation is not resolved it may interfere with Election Day next week.

Retraining The Brain After Losing The Ability To Smell

Oct 2, 2016
Todd Bookman / WHYY

  In 2012, Chris Kelly caught a cold, which then moved into her sinuses. It was a run-of-the-mill nuisance, until she woke up one morning and realized her condition had become something far more serious.

"I opened my eyes, I went into the bathroom, I uncapped the toothpaste, and was immediately aware that I couldn't smell anything," says Kelly, who was born in Maine and now lives in the United Kingdom.

This wasn't a stuffy nose. This was like the on/off switch had been flipped.

It's A Girl! Philly Zoo Determines Baby Gorilla's Gender

Sep 27, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

Workers at the Philadelphia Zoo have finally determined the gender of a baby gorilla born last month, and it's a girl.

The baby's 21-year-old mother, Honi, had been holding it so closely after its birth Aug. 26 that zookeepers couldn't confirm if it was male or female.

The zoo is encouraging the public to help name the baby western lowland gorilla.

It is partnering with a sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo that rehabilitates Grauer's gorillas whose families have been killed by poachers.

Biden Attacks Trump In PA Visit Over House Collapse Comments

Sep 27, 2016
David Goldman / AP

 

 

Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday questioned Donald Trump's "moral center" as a result of the Republican presidential candidate's comments about America's housing collapse.

At a rally for Hillary Clinton at Drexel University, Biden said that Trump had bragged at Monday's presidential debate about profiting from the failed housing market. He said Trump's policies are not helpful for the country, calling the candidate "painfully uninformed."

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