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Introducing The Lineup, a New Newscast on Roku and Apple TV from NBC10

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We’re proud to introduce The Lineup, NBC10’s new newscast on Roku and Apple TV!

Hosted by NBC10’s Erin Coleman and Keith Jones, The Lineup is a quick way to catch up on the news you need – and the news you’ll be talking about – all day long.

New episodes of The Lineup will premiere on the NBC10 Roku or Apple TV app at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, but you can watch any time that you need to get up to speed.

To watch The Lineup, search “NBC10” on in the app store on your Roku or Apple TV. Download our app, and you’ll see The Lineup.

man and woman in studio
Keith Jones and Erin Coleman

On The Lineup, Keith and Erin give you a quick summary of the most important local news and the national news that affects you. They get a chance to discuss and reflect. And you can join the conversation too, by following Keith and Erin on Facebook and Instagram.

And while you are in our Roku and Apple TV apps, make sure to check out the always-updated weather forecast and local news – plus NBC10’s special reports.


Find It on 10: Today's Links

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Looking for more information about a subject you saw featured on NBC10 News? Find it here!

TUESDAY, MARCH 30

The Monkey’s Uncle

FRIDAY, MARCH 26

CrossFit Main Line

Sign-a-Riffic

THURSDAY, MARCH 25

‘Big Time: Life in an Endangerous Age’ at the Philadelphia Zoo

Citizen’s Bank Park Career Fair

Lisa’s Army

Canceling NJ Vaccination Appointments

Virtua: Try to cancel via MyChart app; Visit https://www.virtua.org/cancel/ to request a cancellation; or call 888-VIRTUA-3

Camden County College: Cancel via the MyCooper platform or call 856-549-0530

Rowan Medicine Site: Cancel at this website: https://rowanmedicine.com/vaccine/cancel.html

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24

Ready. Set. Philly.

Widener University’s High School Leadership Awards

TUESDAY, MARCH 23

Brandywine Valley SPCA

MONDAY, MARCH 22

Independence Seaport Museum

SUNDAY, MARCH 21

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll

SATURDAY, MARCH 20

Philadelphia zip codes where residents can get walk-up vaccinations

FRIDAY, MARCH 19

NBC10 Responds: Amazon Impersonators

Boxed Sourcing

THURSDAY, MARCH 18

Visit Philly Jobs

Chinese Immigrant Family Wellness Initiative

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17

Brittingham’s Pub

TUESDAY, MARCH 16

Find a Blood Drive

St. Patrick’s Day ‘Stew Thru’

Philadelphia’s public meetings on water and sewer rates

MONDAY, MARCH 15

The list of 35 Philadelphia School District schools that will open March 22 is:

  • Bache-Martin School
  • Clara Barton School
  • James G. Blaine School
  • Bridesburg School
  • George W. Childs School
  • James Dobson School
  • Paul L. Dunbar School
  • Edwin Forrest School
  • Anne Frank Elementary School
  • Stephen Girard  School
  • Samuel Gompers School
  • Avery D. Harrington School
  • Jenks Academy for Arts and Sciences
  •  Francis S. Key School
  • Eliza B. Kirkbride School
  • Anna L. Lingelbach School
  • James R. Lowell School
  • James R. Ludlow  School
  • Alexander K. McClure School
  • William M. Meredith School
  • Robert Morris School
  • Motivation High School
  • George W. Nebinger School
  • Joseph Pennell  School
  • Richmond School
  • Roosevelt Elementary School
  • William Rowen School
  • Solomon Solis-Cohen School
  • South Philadelphia High School
  • Spring Garden School
  • James J. Sullivan  School
  • John H. Taggart  School
  • George Washington High School
  • S. Weir Mitchell Elementary School
  • William H. Ziegler School

Little Miss Moffitt Baker

FRIDAY, MARCH 12

AL DÍA Women of Merit

Pennsylvania COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP)

THURSDAY, MARCH 11

Teach in Philly

The Trouble I’ve Seen: COVID-19 Portraits

NBC10 Responds — Here are some links for those who want to file an unemployment claim or speak with a claims specialist, by state:

Here are community legal aid programs:

Pennsylvania:

New Jersey:

Delaware:

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10

Bridal Gown Giveaway

With Love Philly Notes

TUESDAY, MARCH 9

Mama’s Meatballs

MONDAY, MARCH 8

Poke Burri

FRIDAY, MARCH 5

Comcast RISE

THURSDAY, MARCH 4

Autsome Brushes

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3

Providence Animal Center

TUESDAY, MARCH 2

Shipmate Fulfillment

MONDAY, MARCH 1

Gross McCleaf Gallery

Project Tamale

FRIDAY, FEB. 25

Tilton Park by Sug Daniels

Six Flags Great America Job Fair

THURSDAY, FEB. 25

Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 24

Lucky Dawg Animal Rescue

TUESDAY, FEB. 23

Her Daughters Cafe

MONDAY, FEB. 22

Makers Off Main

FRIDAY, FEB. 19

Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium

Pennsylvania SPCA

ReAnimator Coffee Roasters’ Puppy Love Blend

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 17

Trunc

TUESDAY, FEB. 16

DIY Kit Creations

MONDAY, FEB. 15

National Constitution Center

FRIDAY, FEB. 12

Small Business Administration

New small business grants

Chef Big Rube’s Kitchen

THURSDAY, FEB. 11

Bucks County vaccine preregistration: 1-800-383-0371 or click here

Taqueria Amor

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 10

Neuchatel Swiss Chocolates

Vote for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

TUESDAY, FEB. 9

Pennsylvania’s “Your Turn” website to check on vaccine eligibility

Marks Jewelers

MONDAY, FEB. 8

Farrell’s Florist

SUNDAY, FEB. 7

Academy of Notre Dame de Namur’s 48th Annual Virtual Fine Art Show & Sale

SATURDAY, FEB. 6

PlowPHL map, tracking Philly’s snow-plowing progress

FRIDAY, FEB. 5

Go Red for Women

THURSDAY, FEB. 4

Karma Cat and Zen Dog Rescue Society

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 3

Meatball U:

Sun Reys Beach Rentals

FRIDAY, JAN. 29

Earned Income Tax Credit

La Famigilia Restorante

Simeti’s Gymnastics Academy

THURSDAY, JAN. 28

More on Philly’s Restaurant and Gym Relief program

Marriott Courtyard Philadelphia South at The Navy Yard

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 27

The Philadelphia Citizen

TUESDAY, JAN. 26

The Wellness Collective

MONDAY, JAN. 25

Simpson House Tea Room

FRIDAY, JAN. 22

Buddha Babe Boutique

THURSDAY, JAN. 21

Sugartown Soaps

TUESDAY, JAN. 19

TerraVida Holistic Centers

MONDAY, JAN. 18

Forgotten Angels Equine Rescue

SATURDAY, JAN. 16

Bensalem Unity Week

The Giving Tree

FRIDAY, JAN. 15

Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast in Philadelphia

THURSDAY, JAN. 14

Hilton Garden Inn Camden Waterfront

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 13

Delaware County Citizens Corps

Chris’ Jazz Cafe

TUESDAY, JAN. 12

Black Doctors Consortium

Hawthornes

Pivot Coffee & Soupery

MONDAY, JAN. 11

Bungee Brand

SUNDAY, JAN. 10

Build your path to a new job with the Occupational Mobility Explorer

FRIDAY, JAN. 7

Bison Coffee Company

THURSDAY, JAN. 6

Shawnee Mountain Ski Area

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 6

Old City Canning Co.

TUESDAY, JAN. 5

Harth Builders

MONDAY, JAN. 4

KP Aesthetics

FRIDAY, JAN. 1

The Federal Stimulus Bill Explainer webinar from the Urban League of Philadelphia, U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans and Pa. Sen. Vincent Hughes
(Note: This link does not work well in Chrome; if it does not work for you, try another web browser.)

THURSDAY, DEC. 31

Bethesda Project

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 30

Animal Rescue League of Berks County

TUESDAY, DEC. 29

Bald Birds Brewing Co.

MONDAY, DEC. 28

Historic King George II Inn

THURSDAY, DEC. 24

Delaware Humane Association

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 23

Brandywine Valley SPCA

TUESDAY, DEC. 22

Providence Animal Center

Holiday Movie Night at Bar Lucca

MONDAY, DEC. 21

Itri Wood Fired

Mental Health Resources in Pennsylvania

FRIDAY, DEC. 18

Bristol Riverside Theatre

CHOP toy drive

THURSDAY, DEC. 17

B101 Christmas Choir Competition Voting

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 16

PA 511 for road conditions

Naked Brewing Company

TUESDAY, DEC. 15

MVP Recovery Now

MONDAY, DEC. 14

ACCT Philly

TODAY teams up with Feeding America

SUNDAY, DEC. 13

“Dolls for Daughters” toy drive

The “Illegal is the Project” documentary

FRIDAY, DEC. 11

The Joy of Giving

Moderna at Rittenhouse

U.S. Construction Inc.

THURSDAY, DEC. 10

Curiosity Doughnuts

Pennsylvania SPCA Animal Cruelty Line

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 9

Cunningham Piano Company

TUESDAY, DEC. 8

Salon Glam

MONDAY, DEC. 7

Noble Earth

The Wardrobe

SUNDAY, DEC. 6

Musicopia

FRIDAY, DEC. 4

COVID testing at PHL

And more COVID testing at PHL

American Red Cross Blood Drives

Burlington County Sheriff’s Department Toy Drive

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Carlos Vega: Who Is the Man Running for Philly DA Against Larry Krasner?

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Carlos Vega, a former assistant district attorney for decades in Philadelphia, believes current District Attorney Larry Krasner has gone too far in his criminal justice reforms.

Vega, who was fired along with three dozen other veteran prosecutors when Krasner took office in 2018, thinks he can continue to reform the system in Philadelphia while also punishing the criminal element behind the historically high number of homicides and shootings.

“I’m that third third wave. I’m that person who believes that we need reform and we need safety. We deserve both,” Vega said in an interview with NBC10. “I’m that third choice, which is to say, I’m going to bring reform because I hear you, I’ve lived it, but I need to make you safe because I’ve lived it.”

He’s referring to previous approaches to law enforcement and criminal justice: the “lock ’em up” approach that led to mass incarceration for decades and, more recently, the progressive reforms of Krasner and other recently elected DAs in some American cities.

Vega grew up in the South Bronx, New York City, before going to law school and eventually calling Philadelphia home 35 years ago. He is the only challenger Krasner faces in the May 18 Democratic primary.

He sees himself as the right man for the times: an experienced prosecutor who grew up in a dangerous neighborhood without a lot of money, and who understands the plight of people of color in a post-Derek Chauvin verdict world.

Krasner, meanwhile, is trying to portray Vega as an obstacle to the progressive movement reshaping criminal justice in America, someone who would undo much of what Krasner’s supporters believe as strong gains made in the last three years for Philadelphia’s people of color.

“Carlos Vega’s way of doing things is simply to turn back the clock to a time when convictions were pursued regardless of truth, where the (District Attorney’s Office) did not worry about mistakes, and where it never dared question police or hold law enforcement accountable,” Krasner’s campaign manager Brandon Evans said Tuesday. “His approach does not work for the good of this city and it would be devastating to stop the progress that we have made and return to the ways of the past.”

Here is a primer on the South Bronx native who as a young man sold sunglasses on a street corner to get money for an apartment down payment and was recruited by former Gov. Ed Rendell to become an assistant district attorney in 1980s Philadelphia.

Philadelphia prosecutor Carlos Vega walks away from the criminal courthouse
Philadelphia prosecutor Carlos Vega walks away from the criminal courthouse after a murder trial, March 9, 2015, in Philadelphia.

Where Is Carlos Vega From?

Vega grew up in the South Bronx, New York City, one of four children. As the oldest son, Vega said he spent many hours working in his mother’s store, then later her newstand.

He said it was a dangerous neighborhood, with many people in the throes of drug addiction and others directly affected by violence. As a Catholic school student at the time, he said the suit he had to wear to school every day made him a target

“You didn’t want to get detention because you’d have to walk home by yourself, and then you’d be outnumbered,” he said.

Of the boys who were in his 30-student grammar school class, “only two of us made it out,” Vega said.

He went on to Fordham University and then law school in Boston.

“As a kid, I always said, ‘I’m going to be a lawyer,” Vega recalled, and while learning the law, he realized that he wanted to become a prosecutor. Helping crime victims’ families called to him.

‘It Was a Battle’: Getting Hired By the Philly DA’s Office Under Ed Rendell

After graduating, a federal judge who knew the law school graduate prodded Vega to apply for the District Attorney’s office in Philadelphia. It was run at the time by Ed Rendell, who would go on to become mayor and eventually governor of Pennsylvania.

Vega said 15 assistant district attorneys went hard at him in the interviews.

“It was a battle,” he said. “They were testing me.”

He passed the test, he said, because Rendell asked him to join the office as an ADA.

Within a few years, Vega was trying homicide cases. As the years went by, he tried hundreds of the highest-profile crimes. He worked under Rendell, then Lynne Abraham, and her successor, Seth Williams before Krasner, a former civil rights defense attorney, won the 2017 election.

‘I Saw Grown Men Cry’: Being Forced to Leave

Vega was among more than 30 prosecutors told their services were no longer wanted when Krasner took office in January 2018. It is not unusual for some turnover after a new DA takes office.

But Vega said Krasner’s reason for letting him go was different. He says the current DA called Vega a racist, which Vega calls not only preposterous but insulting considering he’s a person of color who spent decades fighting for Philadelphia families who lost loved ones.

Vega said he saw fellow prosecutors cry as they were forced from an office they believed in on a personal level.

“I remember seeing my colleagues. You know it when I say we grew up together. I mean, when you’re there 35 years and you’ve had a colleague 20 years, we know our children and everything. It was heartbreaking to see full grown men crying, seeing the females in the office crying, and to know that Krasner basically said we were racist, that anyone before him did not do the right thing, that we were wrong. We were racists. We participated in mass incarceration,” Vega said. “And it was horrible to say. You know, I spent thirty five years of my life here trying to do the best I could, dispensing justice, an exemplary record that I was never brought with any misconduct. You know, proud of the fact that my cases were never reversed. Yet I’m a racist and I’m Latino, that I don’t know about racism, which is interesting coming from a person who who’s rich, went to Stanford and me, who grew up poor, worried about violence.

Vega is currently suing Krasner and the district attorney’s office over his firing, claiming discrimination.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read NBC10’s profile on candidate Larry Krasner, CLICK HERE.

Krasner’s supporters say he needed to change the culture in the DA’s office to enact broad reforms. Those have included an overhaul of Philadelphia’s cash bail system, decriminalization of certain minor crimes, and vigorously pushing for better policing.

Carlos Vega (left) and Larry Krasner (right)
Carlos Vega (left) and Larry Krasner (right)

Why Vega Is Running

The career prosecutor believes Krasner has gone too far to reform the city’s criminal justice system, and says Krasner’s prosecutorial approach has contributed to Philadelphia deadly surge in shootings since the beginning of 2020.

“Four years ago, Larry Krasner promised us justice that would make us safer. But his failure to address violent crime, and his reckless approach to reform has made Philadelphia more dangerous today than before he took office,” Vega said.

The city is in the midst of a gun violence crisis unparalleled in recent decades. Last year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, 499 people were killed in Philadelphia, the second highest total of the last 60 years. In 2021, homicides are on pace to reach the highest total ever. Shootings are also very high in historical context, according to police department data.

Krasner disputes any direct link that his opponents say exists between his reforms and the gun violence.

“In 2017, Larry made promises to upend a broken system, and unlike most politicians, he has kept those promises. He has reduced unnecessary incarceration, implemented diversion programs that actually address the needs of the community, pushed for investments and programs that will serve the needs of Philadelphia, and held people who are causing harm accountable,” Krasner’s campaign manager, Evans, said. “He has actions he can point to and be proud of, not just empty words.”

Vega said he too will continue to push for better policing in Philadelphia, despite what Krasner says. Vega does have the support of police unions, at least when it comes to campaign funding. The two unions representing city officers and Pennsylvania state police have contributed $12,600 and $12,000, respectively, to Vega’s campaign.

Vega said wants every police officer to wear a body camera and every police vehicle to have a dash cam video. He also said he believes that the current rule allowing cops to move out of Philadelphia is one that should end.

“I disagree with the deal they made that officers after five years can move to the suburbs. I think if you’re a cop in Philly, you live in Philly, that’s where you buy a home, your kids are educated, be part of the community,” Vega said. “And I know the people will turn crazy with that attitude I have. But, you know, that’s the way I feel.”

The candidates will make their case to Philadelphia voters on live television and radio May 5 during the lone debate ahead of the May 18 Democratic primary.

The debate will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. and moderated by NBC10 and KYW Newsradio reporters. It will also air live on NBC10.com and the NBC10 app as well as NBC10’s Roku TV and Apple TV apps. It can be heard live on KYW Newsradio at 103.9 FM and 1060 AM.

The winner of the May primary will be the presumptive winner of the November general election, considering Democrats outnumber Republicans by a roughly 7-to-1 margin among the Philadelphia electorate.

HOW TO VOTE IN MAY 18 PRIMARY: Registered Democrats in Philadelphia will be able to cast votes in the race between Vega and Krasner. The deadline to register to vote or to change your party designation is 5 p.m. on May 3. Voter applicants can use Pennsylvania’s online voter registration system, and traditional paper voter registration forms must be received in county voter registration offices by close of business on May 3.  

What Riles Up Philly DA Larry Krasner? He's Feisty as Ever Amid Re-Election Bid

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Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has rattled the criminal justice system in the three-plus years he’s been the city’s top prosecutor, but the reforms he put in place are just the beginning, he says.

And he doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“I used to defend a lot of protesters. It was my professional hobby. I did it for 25 years. In order to do it at jury trials, I had to really study the history of these movements and their philosophy so I could stand up in front of a jury and say, ‘Look, yeah, they blocked the street. You don’t like your street blocked. But here’s the news. So did the suffragettes. And that’s why you can vote and that’s why you’re sitting on the jury if you’re a woman,'” Krasner said in an interview with NBC10. “And one of the things I drew from that is social movements take a long time. They usually take about 30 years to win a huge battle. I think we are in that cycle.”

Krasner has not disappointed most of his progressive supporters. He led an overhaul of Philadelphia’s cash bail system, supported decriminalization of certain minor crimes, and has vigorously pushed for better policing and law enforcement acountability.

He has also enraged opponents like the city police union and conservative law enforcement officials like the former U.S. attorney for Philadelphia who was appointed by President Donald Trump. The federal prosecutor, who resigned after Trump lost re-election, often criticized Krasner as being too lenient on criminals.

His challenger in the May 18 Democratic primary, Carlos Vega, believes Krasner has taken his reforms too far and that the current DA’s policies have made the city more dangerous. Vega served 35 years as a prosecutor in the Philadelphia DA’s office before he was fired when Krasner took office in 2018.

The candidates will make their case to Philadelphia voters on live television and radio May 5 during the lone debate between the two candidates ahead of the primary.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The debate will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. and moderated by NBC10 and KYW Newsradio reporters. It will also air live on NBC10.com and the NBC10 app as well as NBC10’s Roku TV and Apple TV apps. It can be heard live on KYW Newsradio at 103.9 FM and 1060 AM.

Vega believes he’s the moderate approach needed as Philadelphia grapples with a gun violence crisis unrivaled in recent decades.

“I’m that third third wave. I’m that person who believes that we need reform and we need safety. We deserve both,” Vega, who grew up in the South Bronx of New York City, told NBC10 in an interview last week. “I’m that third choice, which is to say, I’m going to bring reform because I hear you, I’ve lived it, but I need to make you safe because I’ve lived it.”

For Krasner, it’s not the criticism from others that he has found hardest to confront in his first term as an elected official. It’s his own personality.

“I didn’t realize what it was to go from being, basically, an unknown private citizen to being someone who had a platform. And I have learned over time maybe not to be quite as loud, not quite as direct,” Krasner said. “You know, on the one hand, you want to be transparent, you want to be direct. But on the other hand, you have to realize that somebody gave you a megaphone you never had before.”

Here is a look at what Krasner thinks about his successes in the first term, his opponent’s history in the DA’s office, and how holding police officers more accountable will eventually lead to greater respect for cops by all citizens.

On Police: ‘We Have Had a Culture That Attracted Bullies’

Since the civil unrest of 2020 over George Floyd’s murder at the hands of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, being a cop has become harder. It’s also become more difficult to find new recruits.

Krasner, who has long called for stronger police accountability, said he welcomes the challenge facing the Philadelphia police department.

“It’s probably healthy right now that it’s hard to recruit, because what it actually reflects is that in certain cities, we have had a culture that attracted bullies. Because they thought they could, you know, drive 150 miles an hour with the siren on and pull their gun whenever they wanted, and shoot it whenever they wanted,” he said. “If we’re not attracting bullies anymore, then that’s really good. And it might mean the city has got to do some things. Maybe they have to require a higher level of education. Maybe they have to pay more to get a smaller number of more qualified people. Maybe that’s a better way to police.”

On His Opponent, Carlos Vega

Krasner does not sugarcoat his feeling about Vega, who was among a wave of longtime assistant district attorneys let go by Krasner upon his taking office in 2018.

“Let me be direct. Mr. Vega seldom crosses paths with the truth,” he said when asked about Vega’s criticism of the way Krasner has handled prosecutions of police officers. “I always keep two pens when Carlos is talking because I usually run out of ink on how many untruths he tells.”

Vega believes Krasner takes a lot of credit for being tough on officers accused of criminal wrongdoing, but says the current DA’s tough talk has not translated into putting a single cop accused of a crime in jail.

“What he’s excluding from these magic numbers is the fact that, yes, some of these cases are being thrown out by judges and we then we charge them again,” Krasner said, noting that his office has charged 51 police officers with various crimes. One high-profile case of a beating caught on tape involving a police supervisor during the 2020 civil unrest was initially thrown out by a judge. Krasner’s office refiled charges against the officer.

Incumbent Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, left, is running for a second term, and is being challenged by former city assistant DA Carlos Vega, right, in the Democratic primary election, May 18, 2021.

“These cases are not all Derek Chauvin, with a knee on the neck of someone. They they run the gamut for all kinds of things that are very, very serious or not nearly as serious,” Krasner said. “And we do not want to treat police differently or unfairly.”

His office did charge a police officer with murder for the first time in decades in 2018. That case is expected to go to trial later this year.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read NBC10’s profile on candidate Carlos Vega, CLICK HERE.

On Bail Reform and Other Progressive Criminal Justice Changes

Krasner’s approach to bail reform has revolved around “reducing the number of broke people who end up in custody on low-level cases,” he says.

He described the results so far as “excellent.” The jail population in Philadelphia shows those results. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic altered the criminal justice center in ways that affected the number of people jailed in the city, the number of people held in city jails dropped considerably during the first couple years of Krasner’s term.

As of May 2, fewer than 4,500 people are in jails awaiting trial. That is down about 44% since 2015.

The system of cash bail in Philadelphia forces defendants to pay a certain amount to avoid being held in a city jail while awaiting trial. Under previous DAs, prosecutors would request cash bail and city bail commissioners would either agree with that number or set it at another amount. Critics of cash bail said it put an uneven burden on poor people.

Krasner’s office has not completely eliminated cash bail, but his assistant district attorneys very rarely request it now in many cases. Some of the city’s most fervent anti-bail advocates, however, say Krasner still hasn’t gone far enough.

The DA’s office now currently requests bail of $999,999 in certain cases involving gun violence or other serious accusations. Krasner defends bail in certain cases, and says the $999,9999 is humane for one particular reason: anyone with $1 million or higher bail is assigned to solitary confinement at city jail.

Krasner said he hopes Pennsylvania’s state lawmakers will eventually pass legislation like other states have in recent years that implements a “hold them or release them” system, essentially abolishing bail. He blames bail commissioners for setting bail that doesn’t match what his office or the crime alleged in a case is asking for.

“That’s what we need. As long as they keep giving money bail to judges, as long as municipalities keep sucking off a lot of that money bail for their own coffers, as long as there’s a private Dog the Bounty Hunter industry that gives political donations and lobbies our legislators, we’re screwed. We’re never going to really get there,” Krasner said.

He blames the system for failing the city as Philadelphia goes through the gun violence crisis.

The city is in the midst of a gun violence crisis unparalleled in recent decades. Last year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, 499 people were killed in Philadelphia, the second highest total of the last 60 years. In 2021, homicides are on pace to reach the highest total ever. Shootings are also very high, according to police department data.

Philadelphia has seen a large increase in homicides and shootings since the start of 2020, but so have many other American cities.

Homicides are up 30%, 40%, even 50% year over year in places like Chicago, Oklahoma City, New York City, Los Angeles and Phoenix, to name just of a few. Experts believe the pandemic played a large part in a conflux of problems that created historically high homicide totals across the country.

Krasner’s opponents say the DA’s office lets too many suspects back onto city streets after they have been charged.

“It is my opinion that we are getting lousy results when it comes to properly high bail for extremely serious cases. We have been less successful,” Krasner said. “But let us be clear, I don’t set bail. All I can do is argue for it. The judiciary is independent, even if that judiciary in this particular instance, at the bail commissioner level, is politically appointed, not elected.”

Meanwhile, Krasner has defended other reforms, including not seeking the death penalty and keeping juvenile defendants out of the adult criminal justice system.

In only 2% of cases involving under-age defendants, the DA’s office under Krasner has sought adult charges, according to a recently published report by news site Billy Penn.

“Criminal justice reform overlaps with many other extremely important issues around racial justice and so on. I think we’re about 10 or 11 years in. I think we got about 19 or 20 to go,” Krasner said, referring to his belief that social justice movements take aout 30 years. “I don’t think I’ll be there all 19 or 20 years, put it that way. I think that people we’re hiring now or that we hired in the last few years are the ones who are going to who are going to be able to finish that cycle, thank goodness. But, you know, I am prepared right now to run one more time, and that’s what I’m doing. And I won’t even be making a decision on whether I would run again probably for a few years.”

HOW TO VOTE IN MAY 18 PRIMARY: Registered Democrats in Philadelphia will be able to cast votes in the race between Vega and Krasner. The deadline to register to vote or to change your party designation is 5 p.m. on May 3. Voter applicants can use Pennsylvania’s online voter registration system, and traditional paper voter registration forms must be received in county voter registration offices by close of business on May 3.  

Kidnapping Victim Rescued in Connecticut When Police Stop Robbery Suspect

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Connecticut state police rescued a kidnapping victim when they stopped a Pennsylvania man in Trumbull who they said is suspected of a robbery.

Connecticut state police said the Bethlehem Police Department in Pennsylvania contacted them at 2:42 p.m. Monday about a robbery suspect traveling through Connecticut, on Route 15.

Troopers saw the vehicle on Route 15 North, near exit 46, in Trumbull and found a woman who was being held against her will, according to state police.

They identified the suspect as 41-year-old Jose Alberto Claudio-Diaz, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and said he is suspected of taking the victim across state lines without her consent.

During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Connecticut state police said they believe the victim was kidnapped from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Claudio-Diaz was traveling to Springfield, Massachusetts.

Claudio-Diaz was taken into custody and has been charged with kidnapping in the first degree and assault of a public safety officer.

Bond was set at $300,000.

Claudio-Diaz is due in Bridgeport Superior Court today.

The Bethlehem Police Department said they obtained an arrest warrant for Claudio-Diaz “relating to robbery, terroristic threats, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle” on April 15 and the initial complaint didn’t include allegations of unlawful restraint.

Bethlehem Police said they are investigating, along with Connecticut State Police and the Pennsylvania State Police to determine “where this offense originated.”

Philly DA Candidates Krasner, Vega to Face Off in NBC10/KYW Newsradio Debate

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Philly DA Larry Krasner, who defeated six other candidates in the Democratic primary four years ago, now faces only one challenger in his first bid for re-election, a former assistant district attorney who Krasner fired after taking office.

Carlos Vega is the lone challenger in the May 18 Democratic primary, and he is making the election a referendum on Krasner’s progressive reform agenda. Vega believes Krasner is a key contributor to Philadelphia historically high homicides and shootings since the start of 2020. Krasner and his supporters say national trends showing gun violence rising across the United States rebukes Vega’s argument.

The candidates will make their case to Philadelphia voters on live television and radio May 5 during the lone debate between the two candidates ahead of the May 18 Democratic primary.

The debate will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. and moderated by NBC10 and KYW Newsradio reporters. It will also air live on NBC10.com and the NBC10 app as well as NBC10’s Roku TV and Apple TV apps. It can be heard live on KYW Newsradio at 103.9 FM and 1060 AM.

Krasner has not disappointed his progressive supporters. He led an overhaul of Philadelphia’s cash bail system, supported decriminalization of certain minor crimes, and has vigorously pushed for better policing.

That last priority has made the city police union a constant foe to Krasner’s reform agenda.

Vega said in an email to NBC10 that he is excited to debate Krasner on the issues.

“I’m absolutely looking forward to sharing my vision for safety and reform,” he said. “I never thought I’d run for office. For 35 years, I devoted my life to public service, working on the frontlines protecting our communities as a prosecutor. This moment of crisis in our city demands serious leadership and bold action. And Philadelphians need and deserve a more responsible approach to reforming our criminal justice system and prosecuting violent crime.”

Krasner, who describes Vega as a “part of the old regime” of criminal justice, has long denied the connection between his office’s reforms and the rise in violence in the city.

Philadelphia has seen a large increase in homicides and shootings since the start of 2020, but so have many other American cities.

Homicides are up 30, 40, even 50% year over year in places like Chicago, Oklahoma City, New York City, Los Angeles and Phoenix, to name just of a few. Experts believe the pandemic played a large part in a conflux of problems that created historically high homicide totals across the country.

“He is excited for the debate because unlike his opponent, he knows that the facts and his record are both on his side,” Krasner’s campaign manager, Brandon Evans, said in an email. “He does not have to twist the truth or pretend to be someone he isn’t to try to appeal to voters. The easiest story to tell is one that is true. Larry has truth on his side.”

Four years ago, Krasner also had billionaire George Soros on his side. The progressive philanthropist spent millions on local DA’s races across the country hoping to reform criminal justice, and he pumped nearly $1.5 million into political advertising that supported Krasner’s promise to end mass incarceration in Philadelphia.

Vega was among three dozen veteran prosecutors in the DA’s office who were let go as Krasner changed the culture of the office.

“Carlos Vega’s way of doing things is simply to turn back the clock to a time when convictions were pursued regardless of truth, where the (District Attorney’s Office) did not worry about mistakes, and where it never dared question police or hold law enforcement accountable,” Evans said Tuesday. “His approach does not work for the good of this city and it would be devastating to stop the progress that we have made and return to the ways of the past.”

Vega said the biggest failure of Krasner’s tenure has been the incumbent’s inability to keep Philadelphians safe.

“Four years ago, Larry Krasner promised us justice that would make us safer. But his failure to address violent crime, and his reckless approach to reform has made Philadelphia more dangerous today than before he took office,” Vega said.

Krasner and Vega had nearly identical amounts of campaign cash at the start of April, according to their finance reports. Each had roughly $350,000, though Krasner had already spent about $250,000 in the previous few months while Vega had spent about $100,000.

The next campaign finance reports are due in early May.

HOW TO VOTE IN MAY 18 PRIMARY: Registered Democrats in Philadelphia will be able to cast votes in the race between Vega and Krasner. The deadline to register to vote or to change your party designation is 5 p.m. on May 3. Voter applicants can use Pennsylvania’s online voter registration system, and traditional paper voter registration forms must be received in county voter registration offices by close of business on May 3.  

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Lehigh Valley Zoo Mourns Death of ‘Gentle Giant' Murphy the Masai Giraffe

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A beloved giraffe at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, known as a “gentle giant” while interacting with guests during feeding sessions, has died.

Murphy, a 20-year-old Masai giraffe, was euthanized Monday morning after he didn’t respond to treatment for “age-related health ailments,” the Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, zoo announced on social media and its website.

“An iconic resident of the Zoo, Murphy brought smiles to guests and staff through his lovable personality, charismatic presence and adorable ear wiggles,” the zoo — which features a giraffe in its logo — said in its news release. “His loss will be greatly felt by the staff and guests who loved him dearly.”

Murphy came to the zoo from the Kansas City Zoo in 2017 as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums program, zoo CEO Amanda Shurr told NBC10.com.

The giraffe was “beloved” by zoo staff and a favorite of guests. Zoogoers really got to know him as part of the giraffe feeding program. Zoo staff appreciated the relationship he formed as a mentor to younger Masai giraffe Tatu.

Zoo staff will be keeping an eye on Tatu and will be positioned at the giraffe exhibit to answer any questions from visitors.

Masai giraffes — a subspecies native to Kenya and Tanzania — are endangered, reports National Geographic.

“It is clear to us that in the four years that he was living at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, he was able to touch the lives of so many people and help us to educate guests about his species and their conservation in the wild,” Shurr said.

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Delaware Governor Carney Eases Covid Restrictions on Businesses

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What to Know

  • Democratic Gov. John Carney is easing most capacity restrictions that he imposed on businesses in Delaware in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Carney announced Tuesday that all capacity restrictions inside restaurants, retail and other business establishments, as well as houses of worship, will be lifted effective Friday, May 21.
  • Officials said facilities will be able to use as much capacity as social distancing requirements allow, but that masks will still be required indoors. Social distancing requirements will halved from six feet to three feet.

Democratic Gov. John Carney is easing most capacity restrictions that he imposed on businesses in Delaware in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Carney announced Tuesday that all capacity restrictions inside restaurants, retail and other business establishments, as well as houses of worship, will be lifted effective Friday, May 21.

Officials said facilities will be able to use as much capacity as social distancing requirements allow, but that masks will still be required indoors. Social distancing requirements will halved from six feet to three feet.

However, gatherings of more than 250 people, whether indoors or outdoors, will still require approval from the Division of Public Health. DPH may also require masks for crowded venues and large gatherings including concerts and sporting events.

Officials also said customers must continue to remain seated indoors and outdoors at bars and restaurants, unless DPH approves a plan for dance floors and other areas.


Pennsylvania to Lift All COVID Restrictions – Except Mask Wearing – on Memorial Day

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What to Know

  • Pennsylvania will be relaxing its COVID-19-related safety measures on businesses and public places in time for the unofficial start of summer. But, Philadelphia and other municipalities can lift rules on their own timeline.
  • At 12:01 a.m. on May 31, all COVID restrictions will be lifted, the Wolf Administration said Tuesday. Mask wearing in public places will continue, however.
  • The state continues to urge every person 16 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccine as 70% of the adult population must be vaccinated to lift the mask mandate.

All statewide coronavirus-related capacity restrictions in Pennsylvania will be lifted in time for Memorial Day — with the exception of mask wearing in public — though Philadelphia health officials said the city would stay with its current plan for lifting restrictions.

The elimination of COVID capacity limits and other restrictions on gatherings, restaurants and other Pennsylvania businesses will go into effect just after midnight on May 31, the Wolf Administration announced Tuesday.

Local municipalities and school districts will have the option to continue with their own restrictions, the state said.

At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Philadelphia Health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the city was not yet ready to lift all restrictions at the end of the month and would need to review plans in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Philadelphia has often delayed relaxing restrictions within city limits to prevent the spread of the virus among its dense population.

Want to ditch the mask? Get the vaccine.

The lifting of restrictions, which was reached by the Wolf Administration and the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force, is predicated on the continued vaccination of most adults in the state.

Mandatory mask wearing in indoor and crowded outdoor spaces will remain in place until 70% of the adult population is full vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated don’t need to wear a mask in all situations, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

“We continue to make significant progress in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and as more Pennsylvania adults get vaccinated and guidance from the CDC evolves, we can continue to move forward with our reopening efforts,” ​Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam said. 

To date, nearly 3.6 million people in Pennsylvania are fully vaccinated and just over half (50.6%) of the total population had received at least one dose of a vaccine, the health department said. Just looking at adults 18 and older, the percentage vaccinated stood at nearly 42% on Tuesday, according to federal data, while 63% had at least one dose.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced his plan to have 70% of all Americans to have at least one dose by July 4th.

NBC10’s newsgathering partner KYW Newsradio first reported the plan to lift restrictions.

There are some other exceptions for coronavirus safety measures that will remain in place.

“Requirements such as testing and reporting new cases will remain in place for hospitals and long-term care facilities,” the state said in a news release. “Maintaining requirements for hospitals and long-term care facilities will allow Pennsylvania to continue to closely monitor COVID-19 spread while lifting other restrictions.”

Gov. Tom Wolf’s latest COVID-19 disaster emergency order also remains in place, the state said.

The lifting of restrictions was celebrated by lawmakers:

“I’m thrilled after more than a year that we are able to lift these restrictions so that we can move to more normal life,” Washington County Republican’s Rep. Tim O’Neal said. “This will help grow our economy and assist our small businesses that have sacrificed so much due to COVID-19.”

“With millions of Pennsylvanians getting vaccinated, it’s time to plan the transition back to normal,” Democratic Sen. Art Haywood, who serves parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery counties, said.

Tuesday’s announcement promised relief for Pennsylvania’s beleaguered restaurant industry, which has complained for months about capacity restrictions.

“The definitive timeline will allow owners and operators time to plan, but for far too many businesses who shuttered over the last few months, this announcement is too late,” said John Longstreet, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association.

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Diamonds in the Rough: Garbagemen Find Woman's Lost Rings in NJ Landfill

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A New Jersey woman is beyond grateful to a group of garbagemen who found her lost wedding and engagement rings in a local landfill after digging in the massive pile of trash for more than an hour.

Ruth Watson-Utley of Vineland was in a panic Friday morning when she realized her rings had been put in the trash and hauled away. 

“I mean, you can’t replace it,” Watson-Utley said. 

Watson-Utley told NBC10 her 10-year-old son accidentally threw away her wallet containing the rings. The wallet, at the time, was inside a grocery bag with some other belongings. 

“I immediately called the trash company,” Watson-Utley said. 

Word quickly spread to crews from the Atlantic County Utilities Authority. 

“I was like, ‘Alright. We got to go to the dump. Dump it,’” Jovani Quiles, a member of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority, told NBC10. 

For an hour and a half, Quiles, Ramon Nazario, Paul Deola and Alfredo Perez dug through about ten tons of trash at a New Jersey landfill. Finally, they found Watson-Utley’s precious rings. 

“It was very overwhelming and at the end, I was happy because I did a good deed for somebody that was looking for something valuable,” Quiles said. 

The crew told NBC10 if Watson-Utley hadn’t notified them so quickly, the outcome could have been different. 

“It would have been buried already so it would have been impossible for us to find it,” Nazario said. 

Watson-Utley said she tried to tip the group multiple times but they wouldn’t take the money. 

“If it was one of our wives, I would want somebody else to help as well,” Quiles said. 

Watson-Utley told NBC10 she now has a new level of respect for garbage collectors after the group went above and beyond to find her diamonds in the rough. 

Facebook Board Upholds Trump Ban, Just Not Indefinitely

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Former President Donald Trump won’t return to Facebook — at least not yet.

Four months after Facebook suspended Trump’s accounts, having concluded that he incited violence leading to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the company’s quasi-independent oversight board upheld the bans. But it told Facebook to specify how long they would last, saying that its “indefinite” ban on the former president was unreasonable. The ruling, which gives Facebook six months to comply, effectively postpones any possible Trump reinstatement and puts the onus for that decision squarely back on the company.

That could leave Facebook in the worst of all possible worlds — one in which Trump’s supporters remain enraged over the bans, his critics pushing for broader social-media regulation and the company stuck with a momentous issue it clearly hoped the oversight board would resolve.

The decision only “kicks the can down the road,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, who said it highlighted the need for greater government oversight of social platforms.

The board ruled that Facebook was correct to suspend Trump’s account four months ago. But it said the company erred by applying a vague penalty and then passing the question of whether to ban Trump permanently to the board.

“Indefinite penalties of this sort do not pass the international smell test,” oversight board co-chair Michael McConnell said in a conference call with reporters. “We are not cops, reigning over the realm of social media.”

In a statement, Trump did not address the decision directly, but said that actions by Facebook, Twitter, and Google are “a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country.” He added: “These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price.”

The board agreed with Facebook that that two of Trump’s Jan. 6 posts “severely violated” the content standards of both Facebook and Instagram.

“We love you. You’re very special,” Trump said to the rioters in the first post. In the second, he called them “great patriots” and told them to “remember this day forever.”

Those violated Facebook’s rules against praising or supporting people engaged in violence, the board said, warranting the suspension. Specifically, the board cited Facebook’s rules against “dangerous individuals and organizations,” which prohibit anyone who proclaims a violent mission and bans posts that express support or praise of these people or groups.

But it insisted that the company needed to take responsibility for its decision.

“Facebook should either permanently disable Trump’s account or impose a suspension for a specific period of time,” said board co-chair Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former Danish prime minister.

The board said that if Facebook decides to restore Trump’s accounts, it must be able to promptly address further violations. Among other recommendations, it advised against drawing a firm distinction between political leaders and other influential users because anyone with a big audience can potentially cause serious risks of harm.

There was some dissent within the board, according to its report on the decision. A minority of board members sought to characterize Trump’s statements about the election being stolen, coupled with praise for the rioters, as a violation of Facebook’s rules against inciting violence through calls for action or by spreading misinformation and unverifiable rumors. But the board said that adding that as a violation wouldn’t have affected its final ruling.

Facebook has long straddled that issue, granting political figures greater leeway than it allows ordinary users because, it argued, even their rule-breaking statements were important for citizens to hear.

“The same rules should apply to all users on Facebook, no matter how influential they are,” said board spokesman Dex Hunter-Torricke, a former speechwriter for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

If anything, he said, Facebook should look at the context of posts more carefully.

“A world leader or a very influential public figure has an enormous voice and reach, they are incredibly influential and that means their speech has the power to create all sorts of additional risks for people,” Hunter-Torricke said. “And Facebook needs to take that into account when acting on things which may potentially create harm.”

Facebook created the oversight panel to rule on thorny content issues following widespread criticism of its problems responding swiftly and effectively to misinformation, hate speech and nefarious influence campaigns. The board’s earlier decisions — nine of them before Wednesday — have tended to favor free expression over the restriction of content.

The board, which has 20 members and will eventually grow to 40, did not reveal how it voted on Trump’s suspension. It said a minority of members emphasized that Facebook should require users who seek reinstatement after being suspended to “recognize their wrongdoing and commit to observing the rules in the future.”

The decision has implications not only for Trump but for tech companies, world leaders and people across the political spectrum — many of whom have wildly conflicting views of the proper role for technology companies when it comes to regulating online speech and protecting people from abuse and misinformation.

Despite the board’s censure of Facebook, some renewed the argument that the oversight panel is nothing but a distraction.

“Let’s be clear: what should have been swift and decisive action from Facebook to remove Trump from its platform years ago was instead a months-long bureaucratic process because Facebook’s leadership refuses to take responsibility for their harms against our democracy,” said Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson, a longtime critic of Facebook. The board “is a ruse to stave off regulatory action,” he said. Facebook can’t be trusted to regulate itself and Congress and the White House should step in.

A day before the decision, Trump unveiled a new blog on his personal website, “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump.” While the page includes a dramatic video claiming, “A BEACON OF FREEDOM ARISES” and hailing “A PLACE TO SPEAK FREELY AND SAFELY,” the page is little more than a display of Trump’s recent statements — available elsewhere on the website — that can be easily shared on Facebook and Twitter, the platforms that banished him after the riot.

Barred from social media, Trump has embraced other platforms for getting his message out on his own terms. He does frequent interviews with friendly news outlets and has emailed a flurry of statements to reporters through his official office and political group.

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This story has been corrected to note that the board has not upheld a permanent ban of Trump.

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Associated Press Writers Jill Colvin in Washington, Tali Arbel in New York and David Klepper in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this story.

Tommy West, Co-Producer of Jim Croce's ‘Time in a Bottle' and Albums, Dies at 78

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What to Know

  • Music producer, singer and songwriter Tommy West, who played a role in the success of musician Jim Croce, has died of complications associated with Parkinson’s disease.
  • West’s family said he died Sunday in hospice care in New Jersey.
  • West and Terry Cashman coproduced three albums for Croce in the early 1970s that went on to platinum status. “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” “Life and Times” and “I Got A Name” included such hit singles as “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” and “Time in a Bottle.” Croce was killed in a plane crash in Louisiana at age 30 in 1973.

Tommy West, a music producer, singer and songwriter who played a role in the short-lived career of musician Jim Croce, died of complications associated with Parkinson’s disease, his family said. He was 78.

West died Sunday in hospice care.

Born Thomas Picardo Jr. in Jersey City, New Jersey, he developed his musical talents after his family moved to Neptune, according to his friend Mike Ragogna.

“His musical career began in 1958 as co-founder of the doo-wop group, The Criterions, with childhood friend and future Manhattan Transfer founder, Tim Hause,” Ragogna said.

West had met Croce while both were students at Villanova University in 1961.

West and Terry Cashman coproduced three albums for Croce in the early 1970s, which went on to platinum status. “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” “Life and Times” and “I Got A Name” included hit singles “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “Time in a Bottle.”

Croce was killed in a plane crash in Louisiana at age 30 in 1973.

West and Cashman also wrote songs for “The Partridge Family” television musical sitcom, featuring David Cassidy and his stepmother Shirley Jones.

West partnered with Mary Tyler Moore’s MTM Records in Nashville in the 1980s to produce for country artists including Holly Dunn and Judy Rodman.

In his later career, West operated his Somewhere in New Jersey studio from inside a barn in the northern part of the state.

He is survived by his wife, a daughter and two stepsons.

His funeral will be private, his family said.

Trillions of Cicadas Are About to Emerge After 17 Years Underground

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Sifting through a shovel load of dirt in a suburban backyard, Michael Raupp and Paula Shrewsbury find their quarry: a cicada nymph.

And then another. And another. And four more.

In maybe a third of a square foot of dirt, the University of Maryland entomologists find at least seven cicadas — a rate just shy of a million per acre. A nearby yard yielded a rate closer to 1.5 million.

And there’s much more afoot. Trillions of the red-eyed black bugs are coming, scientists say.

Within days, a couple weeks at most, the cicadas of Brood X (the X is the Roman numeral for 10) will emerge after 17 years underground. There are many broods of periodic cicadas that appear on rigid schedules in different years, but this is one of the largest and most noticeable. They’ll be in 15 states from Indiana to Georgia to New York; they’re coming out now in mass numbers in Tennessee and North Carolina.

When the entire brood emerges, backyards can look like undulating waves, and the bug chorus is lawnmower loud.

The cicadas will mostly come out at dusk to try to avoid everything that wants to eat them, squiggling out of holes in the ground. They’ll try to climb up trees or anything vertical, including Raupp and Shrewsbury. Once off the ground, they shed their skins and try to survive that vulnerable stage before they become dinner to a host of critters including ants, birds, dogs, cats and Raupp.

It’s one of nature’s weirdest events, featuring sex, a race against death, evolution and what can sound like a bad science fiction movie soundtrack.

Some people may be repulsed. Psychiatrists are calling entomologists worrying about their patients, Shrewsbury said. But scientists say the arrival of Brood X is a sign that despite pollution, climate change and dramatic biodiversity loss, something is still right with nature. And it’s quite a show.

Raupp presents the narrative of cicada’s lifespan with all the verve of a Hollywood blockbuster:

“You’ve got a creature that spends 17 years in a COVID-like existence, isolated underground sucking on plant sap, right? In the 17th year these teenagers are going to come out of the earth by the billions if not trillions. They’re going to try to best everything on the planet that wants to eat them during this critical period of the nighttime when they’re just trying to grow up, they’re just trying to be adults, shed that skin, get their wings, go up into the treetops, escape their predators,” he says.

“Once in the treetops, hey, it’s all going to be about romance. It’s only the males that sing. It’s going to be a big boy band up there as the males try to woo those females, try to convince that special someone that she should be the mother of his nymphs. He’s going to perform, sing songs. If she likes it, she’s going to click her wings. They’re going to have some wild sex in the treetop.

“Then she’s going to move out to the small branches, lay their eggs. Then it’s all going to be over in a matter of weeks. They’re going to tumble down. They’re going to basically fertilize the very plants from which they were spawned. Six weeks later the tiny nymphs are going to tumble 80 feet from the treetops, bounce twice, burrow down into the soil, go back underground for another 17 years.”

“This,” Raupp says, “is one of the craziest life cycles of any creature on the planet.”

America is the only place in the world that has periodic cicadas that stay underground for either 13 or 17 years, says entomologist John Cooley of the University of Connecticut.

The bugs only emerge in large numbers when the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees. That’s happening earlier in the calendar in recent years because of climate change, says entomologist Gene Kritsky. Before 1950 they used to emerge at the end of May; now they’re coming out weeks earlier.

Though there have been some early bugs In Maryland and Ohio, soil temperatures have been in the low 60s. So Raupp and other scientists believe the big emergence is days away — a week or two, max.

Cicadas who come out early don’t survive. They’re quickly eaten by predators. Cicadas evolved a key survival technique: overwhelming numbers. There’s just too many of them to all get eaten when they all emerge at once, so some will survive and reproduce, Raupp says.

This is not an invasion. The cicadas have been here the entire time, quietly feeding off tree roots underground, not asleep, just moving slowly waiting for their body clocks tell them it is time to come out and breed. They’ve been in America for millions of years, far longer than people.

When they emerge, it gets noisy — 105 decibels noisy, like “a singles bar gone horribly, horribly wrong,” Cooley says. There are three distinct cicada species and each has its own mating song.

They aren’t locusts and the only plants they damage are young trees, which can be netted. The year after a big batch of cicadas, trees actually do better because dead bugs serve as fertilizer, Kritsky says.

People tend to be scared of the wrong insects, says University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum. The mosquito kills more people than any other animals because of malaria and other diseases. Yet some people really dread the cicada emergence, she said.

“I think it’s the fact that they’re an inconvenience. Also, when they die in mass numbers they smell bad,” Berenbaum says. “They really disrupt our sense of order.”

But others are fond of cicadas — and even munch on them, using recipes like those in a University of Maryland cookbook. And for scientists like Cooley, there is a real beauty in their life cycle.

“This is a feel-good story, folks. It really is and it’s in a year we need more,” he says. “When they come out, it’s a great sign that forests are in good shape. All is as it is supposed to be.”

Pa. Gov. Wolf Takes Next Step to Start Carbon Emission Caps in 2022

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Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration on Tuesday solidified its intention to begin imposing a price on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants next year as part of a multi-state consortium, over the protests of coal- and gas-region lawmakers and elements of the energy industry.

After fielding thousands of written public comments, Wolf’s administration issued a final rule for the regulatory plan with the same timeline and same goals for reductions in carbon dioxide, considered a major driver of global warming.

The rule must still go through two state regulatory boards with veto power, although both are tilted toward Wolf appointees and allies.

Wolf, a Democrat, in 2019 ordered his administration to start drafting regulations to bring Pennsylvania into what is now an 11-state consortium of Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states that sets a price and declining limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

If Wolf is successful, Pennsylvania would become the first major fossil fuel state to adopt a carbon pricing policy and join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, called RGGI. Wolf has made both a centerpiece of his strategy to fight climate change in one of the nation’s biggest power states and polluters.

In consortium states, owners of power plants fueled by coal, oil or natural gas with a capacity of 25 megawatts or more must buy a credit for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit.

That gives them an incentive to lower their emissions while making non-emitting plants — such as nuclear power plants, wind turbines and solar installations — more cost competitive in power markets.

The cost of credits would generate an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars annually for the state in Pennsylvania.

Opponents — primarily lawmakers and blue-collar labor unions from coal- and gas-producing regions of Pennsylvania and some fossil-fuel industries — say imposing a price, or a “tax,” on carbon would devastate coal and natural gas jobs and businesses in their communities, including the home-grown economies that support those industries.

They also question the legality of the governor’s authority to join the consortium — nicknamed RGGI — or impose the associated price on carbon without legislative approval, raising the possibility of a lawsuit.

Last month, Senate Republicans threatened to block confirmation of Wolf’s appointments to the five-member Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission — which regulates public utilities, but not power plants or pollution — if Wolf did not agree to seek the Legislature’s approval first to join RGGI.

Wolf in 2019 broached the subject with lawmakers, but gained no traction before announcing his regulatory path months later.

While regulations do not normally require legislative approval to take effect, spending the money would if it goes beyond pollution-reduction programs allowable under the Air Pollution Control Act, administration officials have said.

The administration has estimated that its strategy would eliminate carbon dioxide emissions by more than 180 million tons between 2022 and 2030.

Opponents warn that it would drive up electricity prices for consumers. But Wolf administration projections show those prices being ultimately lower, partly thanks to using the money to boost energy efficiency measures.

Pennsylvania emitted 222 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2018, or fourth-most among states, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. Electric power production accounted for 74 million tons, or 33.5% of that, just ahead of the transportation sector, according to federal statistics.

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Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/timelywriter.

4 Girls, Aged 11 to 15, Arrested in AC Boardwalk Robbery That Ended in Store Owner's Death

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Four more children, ranging in age from 11 to 15 years old, have been arrested in connection to a robbery at the Atlantic City Boardwalk that resulted in a store owner collapsing and dying last month after one child pulled a knife on him.

The arrests include an 11-year-old girl, two 14-year-old girls and a 15-year-old girl, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office announced Tuesday in a press release. They are also implicated in what prosecutors called “additional criminal acts” prior to the robbery at 66-year-old Mahmood Ansari’s store.

The eldest girl is charged with second-degree robbery, theft, shoplifting  and second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery; one 14-year-old is charged with second-degree robbery, fourth-degree criminal mischief, shoplifting and second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery; the other 14-year-old is charged with second-degree robbery, theft and second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery; and the 11-year-old is charged with second-degree robbery, theft, shoplifting and second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery.

A 12-year-old boy – accused of pulling the knife on Ansari – and another 14-year-old girl were arrested when officers responded on April 4, the night of the robbery. Prosecutors say Ansari collapsed and stopped breathing shortly after officers arrived. A bystander attempted CPR, but Ansari was later declared dead at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center.

In the press release, Atlantic City Police Interim Officer in Charge James Sarkos called a “top priority” for his department.

“We know that this investigation is very important to our community.  Our detectives have diligently and expeditiously worked with our partners from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office to hold each individual accountable who were involved in these crimes,” he said.

Ansari’s death sparked an outcry from other Atlantic City Boardwalk store owners, who said he was well-liked and that it was not uncommon for groups of kids to go into stores and steal items.

“If we don’t fix this, tourists are not going to come to this city,” business owner Amer Kashmiri told NBC10.

Officials, including Sarkos and Mayor Marty Small vowed more police patrols in the area to keep stores safe.


‘Important Turning Point': Philly Convention Industry Wades Into In-Person Events

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Greater Philadelphia’s convention and large events industry is starting to transition back into the realm of in-person gatherings as COVID-19 vaccinations continue and people begin feeling more comfortable out and about, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

Last month Philadelphia hosted East Coast Volleyball’s 2021 Northeast Volleyball Qualifier tournament, marking the city’s first large-scale, in-person event in more than a year because of the pandemic. 

The citywide, meaning an event generating upwards of 2,000 hotel rooms nights on its busiest night, makes Philly the first major Northeast city to host such an event at a convention center in over a year ahead of Washington D.C., Baltimore, New York and Boston, according to the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A spokeswoman for the organization told the Philadelphia Business Journal that there are nine additional citywides on the books throughout 2021 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, which has spent upwards of $10 million on pandemic-related upgrades and other renovations during its downtime over the last year. 

PBJ.com digs deeper into the good news for Philly’s hard-hit convention and event industry that John McNichol, CEO at Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, said is “an important turning point” for the industry.

Get the latest business news from around the region from the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Man Deemed Incompetent for Trial in Kidnapping, Murder of Girlfriend's Baby

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What to Know

  • A man accused of having kidnapped and killed his girlfriend’s 7-month-old son in the Philadelphia suburbs years ago has been deemed incompetent to stand trial for the foreseeable future due to mental illness.
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that doctors from Norristown State Hospital testified in Delaware County late last month that the mental illness of Ummad Rushdi is not improving, making him unable to participate in a trial or accept a plea deal from prosecutors.
  • Authorities allege that the York County resident kidnapped 7-month-old Hamza Ali in August 2013 from Upper Darby, and they believe he then killed the child and disposed of the body.

A man accused of having kidnapped and killed his girlfriend’s 7-month-old son in the Philadelphia suburbs almost eight years ago has been deemed incompetent to stand trial for the foreseeable future due to mental illness.

Doctors from Norristown State Hospital testified at a Delaware County hearing late last month that the mental illness of Ummad Rushdi is not improving, making him unable to participate in a trial or accept a plea deal from prosecutors.

Rushdi was admitted to the hospital in 2018 after he was ruled incompetent for trial after five years in the county jail, and court-ordered medication hasn’t changed his condition, officials said. He has been charged with murder, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse since the 2013 disappearance of 7-month-old Hamza Ali.

Psychologist Jared Moore testified that Rushdi has paranormal and supernatural delusions and believes the “devil is trying to use the system to break him down.” Moore said it would be best for Rushdi to stay at the state hospital. Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Wills agreed and said that while the criminal case will remain active should his condition improve, the state hospital is the safest place for him to be.

Authorities said the child was kidnapped in August 2013 from the Upper Darby home of Rushdi’s parents, and they allege he killed the boy and disposed of the body. The remains were never found despite a search of the borough and the rural York County area where the defendant shared a home with the boy’s mother and other relatives.

In 2014, a detective testified that while being advised of his rights, Rushdi blurted out that he was sorry for what he did, that he had shaken the crying baby, who stopped breathing, the Delaware County Daily Times reported. He said he tried to give the child CPR, then buried him in York County, the detective said. He refused to say where, saying he “could only be judged by God,” authorities said.

Retired Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said the effective conclusion of the case didn’t surprise him given the defendant’s mental health issues, but he expressed frustration over the child’s disappearance.

“To this day, there’s no doubt in my mind that he knows where that baby is,” Chitwood told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “And he’s the only one who could tell us.”

Can Pot Money Rebuild Atlantic City? New Jersey Suggests It

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Rebuilding the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk to enable it to survive future severe storms; improving the look of the city’s main downtown business districts; helping people in underserved communities, and embracing the “blue economy” of the ocean are among recommendations from a state-appointed panel studying ways to improve the seaside gambling resort.

It suggested money from legalized recreational marijuana sales could help pay for the work.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday released a report from the The Atlantic City Restart and Recovery Working Group, designed to provide a roadmap for the city to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. It was the only such group the state created focusing on just one city’s recovery from the outbreak.

It included some well-worn recommendations that have already been tried to varying degrees — make the city’s economy less reliant on the casino industry, spruce up rundown commercial corridors and provide more for youths to do.

But it also went into deep detail on programs to help Atlantic City’s residents, suggesting things like an early pregnancy outreach program and increasing services to treat drug abuse and poor nutrition, among other challenges. It called for creation of new residential neighborhoods.

And it placed considerable emphasis on developing a so-called “blue economy,” involving the nascent offshore wind energy industry, fisheries, eco-tourism and wastewater management industries, in which Atlantic City could play a leading role.

“We are facing a recovery challenge unlike any Atlantic City and the state has faced,” said Murphy, a Democrat. “But every challenge also brings with it opportunities. The working group’s report has identified many of these opportunities and we intend to move forward on a number of them as we emerge from the pandemic.”

“Atlantic City has bounced back from adversity time and time again, and it will be no different with COVID-19,” added Mayor Marty Small.

It did not identify any new funding for the initiatives, but it did hint at one.

“The state should consider the opportunities that may be created by new initiatives, including the legalization of recreational use marijuana, as potential sources of political and financial support for the efforts to restart and recover Atlantic City,” the report said.

The group also said rebuilding the Boardwalk, which it called “the symbol of Atlantic City to the world,” needs to be a top priority.

“It is currently in an advanced state of disrepair, and in several places could well collapse in the near future,” the report read. “If the meteorologists are correct in predicting future costal storms, there is also the possibility that one of those storms could wipe out the Boardwalk in its present condition, unless it has been rebuilt, with disastrous and wide-spread negative implications for everything that we want to do to restart and recover Atlantic City.”

The report said a commitment by the state and city to rebuild the Boardwalk within the next two to three years would send a powerful signal that both parties “are really all-in” on improving Atlantic City.

The report also built on a previous document issued in 2018, when the state was two years into its takeover of Atlantic City’s main decision-making powers — a situation that remains in place today. It was signed into law under former Republican Gov. Chris Christie but extended by his Democratic successor, Murphy.

It echoed a longstanding criticism of Atlantic City: That visitors will not feel safe or welcome in areas they perceive to be run-down, including Pacific Avenue, where six of the nine casinos are located, and Atlantic Avenues, a main downtown business district.

The report called for “refreshing the structures and appearances” of those two streets.

“These are the two main thoroughfares in Atlantic City, and if these were given a new and refreshing look it could give a new facade to the City,” the report read. “This was done in Baltimore harbor and tremendous benefits were reaped by that city.”

It noted several projects are already under way with those goals in mind.

Republicans Want to Restore Work-Search Rule for Jobless Benefits in Pa.

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What to Know

  • Republicans in Pennsylvania’s GOP-controlled Legislature are advancing legislation to reinstate work-search requirements for people claiming unemployment benefits.
  • The sponsor, Rep. Jim Cox of Berks County, said many employers are having trouble finding workers.
  • Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has waived the requirement for now. Still, Wolf’s office said certain industries may have difficulty hiring workers because, for instance, some parents have children learning at home or some people are waiting for a second vaccine dose.

Republicans in Pennsylvania’s GOP-controlled Legislature are advancing legislation to reinstate work-search requirements for people claiming unemployment benefits, with one survey showing that workers aren’t taking open jobs at a record rate.

The bill cleared the House Labor and Industry Committee on a party-line vote Tuesday.

Lawmakers suspended the work-search requirement through 2020 amid the pandemic last year, and Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, extended the waiver administratively into this year. The bill would reinstate the requirement starting June 8.

Wolf’s office did not say whether he supports or opposes the bill, only that he would review it should it pass the Legislature.

Wolf’s office also did not say whether he plans to reinstate the work-search requirement, even as his administration prepares to drop his remaining pandemic restrictions on gatherings and business capacity starting on Memorial Day.

The bill’s sponsor, Labor and Industry Committee Chairman Jim Cox, R-Berks, contends that employers are having trouble finding workers, and that they often blame the additional $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits during the pandemic and the lack of a work-search requirement.

The extra $300 weekly is scheduled to last through the week ending Sept. 4. Pennsylvania reported about 255,000 initial and continued unemployment compensation claims last week.

Still, Wolf’s office said unemployment benefits only provide a portion of a worker’s lost wages, and countered that certain industries may have difficulty hiring workers because, for instance, some parents have children learning at home or some people are waiting for a second vaccine dose before returning to work.

As more people become vaccinated, the pool of workers can be expected to grow, his office said. Still, some workers may have chosen to change careers or get new skills during the pandemic, Wolf’s office said.

The National Federation of Independent Business reported that it’s March survey of small business owners found that 42% reported job openings that they could not fill, a record high that was 20 points higher than the 48-year historical average of 22%.

“It’s a common problem, it’s a national problem, not in only our state, but I think our state has exacerbated the problem by not reinstating the work-search requirement and with the federal government now giving more money to people collecting unemployment, there’s not a huge incentive for them to go back,” said Greg Moreland, executive director of Pennsylvania’s NFIB chapter.

Wolf’s office also suggested that employers need to pay more.

The Democrat wants lawmakers to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $12 an hour, up from the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

Employers paying “poverty wages” may have challenges attracting workers, Wolf’s office said. The Republican-controlled Legislature has rejected Wolf’s overtures to raise the state’s minimum wage since he took office in 2015.

Philly Sports Fans Are ‘Most Informed', ‘Most Obnoxious', President Biden Says

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President Joe Biden says Philadelphia sports fans “know everything,” apparently to a fault.

“Philadelphia fans are the most informed and most obnoxious fans in the world.”

The president made the remark while speaking to a self-described “girl from Philly” and others during a lunch stop at Taqueria Las Gemelas in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.

Biden noted that first lady Jill Biden is a huge Philadelphia sports fan.

“I never disagree with my wife, she’s always right,” the first-term Democrat said. “That’s smart, right? Kind of a Philly thing.”

Biden himself is also an Eagles fan and was on the field celebrating when the Birds won Super Bowl LVII in 2018.

Former Vice President Joe Biden looks on during the celebrations after the Philadelphia Eagles’ 41-33 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

His brief lunchtime conversation also touched on an “Irish” Philadelphia neighborhood where he says has spent a lot of time. Biden called Fishtown “a neat place” after learning the woman he was speaking to was from that neighborhood.

Here Are Some Jobs Hiring in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware

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As the country continues to economically recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, plenty of employers are searching for workers and plenty of people are looking for jobs.

In the spirit of helping people find employment, NBC10 is publishing a list of available jobs in the greater Philadelphia area. Check out the job descriptions below and see if any is the right fit for you:

Morey’s Piers and Water Parks

Location: 3501 Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ 08260

Description: Morey’s Piers and Water Parks is looking to fill a host of positions this summer. From ride and game operators to water park lifeguards, to restaurant cooks and servers and more, there is a plethora of jobs to choose from. Workers 18 and older would pe paid $15 an hour, 16 and 17-year-olds would get $14 an hour and 14 and 15-year-olds would earn $12.50.

Great Wolf Lodge

Location: Various, including Pocono Mountains

Great Wolf Lodge is looking to fill 2,000 jobs at 16 of its U.S.-based locations, including the one in the Pocono Mountains. Great Wolf Lodge Poconos is hiring for all positions, but the company has its greatest need for lifeguard, housekeeping and food and beverage roles.

King of Prussia:

Location: Various jobs throughout the town.

OK, so this isn’t just one job. King of Prussia is bringing together various employers looking to fill spots.

They include AVE King of Prussia, Bahama Breeze, bartaco, Bonefish Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chick-fil-A, KOP, Chili’s Grill and Bar, Crowne Plaza King of Prussia, Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse, Fogo de Chao, Founding Farmers , Grand Lux Café, Holiday Inn Express & Suites King of Prussia, Honeygrow, Hyatt House King of Prussia, Maggiano’s Little Italy, MISSION BBQ King of Prussia, Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue, Outback Steakhouse , Paladar Latin Kitchen, Seasons 52, Shake Shack, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, Sweetgreen, the Alloy King of Prussia – a DoubleTree by Hilton, The Capital Grille , True Food Kitchen, Valley Forge Casino & Resort, and Wurzak Hotel Group.

FedEx

Location: 741 Fifth Avenue, King Of Prussia, Pennsylvania / 161 Venture Dr., Seaford, Delaware

FedEx wants to hire around 200 package handlers to fill all four of its shifts at its King of Prussia warehouse. This is a non-driving job, with workers moving and scanning packages, documents and, at times, dangerous goods. FedEx is also looking for full-time and part-time package handlers at its Seaford, Delaware, location.

Suraya Restaurant

Location: 1528 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125

Suraya in Fishtown is looking for cooks. Anyone interested should email Managers@SurayaPhilly.com.

Adelphia Restaurant, Banquet Facilities and Nightclub

Location: 1750 Clements Bridge Rd, Deptford, NJ 08096

Owner Bill Balis told NBC10 he’s hoping to find wait staff and bartenders and the business that usually operates with 120 workers but is now having to make due with around 40.

Monarch Diner & Restaurant/Red Lion Diner & Bakery

Location: 500 Delsea Dr., Glassboro, NJ 08028 / 1753 US-206, Southampton Township, NJ 08088

Owner Paul Tsiknakis said he’s looking to full about 30 cook, server, dishwasher and busser jobs – and he’s increasing pay to attract workers.

Pa. College Students Urged to Get Vaccinated as Statewide Demand Flags

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Amid fresh signs of sagging statewide demand for the COVID-19 vaccine, Pennsylvania officials on Wednesday encouraged hundreds of thousands of college students to get their shots before they go home for summer.

Gov. Tom Wolf appeared in State College with the president and head football coach at Penn State University — with a cameo by a freshman tight end — to pitch younger people on the benefits of getting inoculated against the coronavirus.

“Penn Staters can and must demonstrate the leadership to do your part and get vaccinated,” Penn State President Eric Barron said. “This is the most important effort of our lifetime, and I call on all Penn Staters to lead now.”

Football coach James Franklin said he’s hoping for a packed house when the Nittany Lions host Ball State in September — made possible by Wolf’s announcement earlier this week that he is doing away with pandemic restrictions that had teams playing in empty stadiums last year.

Penn State said it’s working on a “variety of capacity scenarios” for Beaver Stadium, with the goal of opening fully.

“The more people who are vaccinated, the better chance we have to get back to 107,000 strong here in Beaver Stadium,” Franklin said. “We want our Ball State game on Sept. 11 to be our first family reunion in almost two years, and we want Beaver Stadium and all of Happy Valley rocking.”

Nearly 2,800 students at Pennsylvania’s flagship university have tested positive for the virus since December — the vast majority of them at the main campus — but new infections have been declining for weeks, according to the school’s COVID-19 dashboard. Penn State enrolls about 90,000 students at 24 campuses statewide.

Penn State, for now, will not require students to be vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall, but left open the possibility.

“We are continuing to monitor developments and vaccine availability carefully and may alter our approach in the future if it is determined to be in the best interest of our community or called for by public policy,” spokesperson Wyatt DuBois said via email.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the agency that oversees the 14 state-owned universities, said those schools do not have the legal authority to mandate vaccinations for students, faculty or staff.

With the spring semester drawing to a close, the Wolf administration said college students who get vaccinated on or near campus will be able to get their second dose at home. The Health Department on Wednesday relaxed its vaccine ordering rules to make it easier for Pennsylvania-based providers to fill second-dose requests from college students and others.

Wolf said the progress that Pennsylvania has made in getting its residents vaccinated played a key role in the decision to eliminate nearly all statewide pandemic restrictions beginning on Memorial Day, including caps on attendance at pro and college sporting events. More than half of the state’s population of 13 million has gotten at least one dose, and new COVID-19 infections in the state are down.

“There was no algorithm that said once we hit this, we get to opening. But there were just a lot of good indications moving in the right direction,” Wolf said.

Wolf is requiring at least 70% of the state’s 18-and-older population to get vaccinated before he will drop the state’s mask mandate. Nearly 64% had received at least one dose as of Wednesday, according to federal data.

But demand is starting to wane.

Statewide, the Health Department said that vaccine supply exceeded demand — however slightly — for the first time last week.

The federal government allocated 574,140 vaccine doses to Pennsylvania, but only 564,230 doses, or about 98% of the state’s allotment, were ordered by and delivered to vaccine providers. It was the first week “that we drew down less vaccine than what was allotted,” a Health Department spokesperson said.

State officials have said they are making it a priority to assuage the concerns of people who are reluctant to get the shot.


Employers, Employees Differ on Post-Pandemic Work Arrangements, Study Finds

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Expectations differ significantly between employers and employees when it comes to post-pandemic working arrangements, according to a new study from Radnor executive search firm Salveson Stetson Group.

About 80% of executive-level employees said they would prefer to continue working in either a completely remote environment or in a hybrid model, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. But 70% of corporate human resources professionals expect employees to work remotely less than half the time.

“That’s going to be a problem for employers,” Salveson Stetson Principal John Touey said. “Those that offer more flexibility will be more competitive for talent in areas like finance, HR, legal, IT and marketing. If you are someone like that who can work in a variety of different industries, you will probably look more closely at the companies that offer more options for work arrangements.”

Read more about the post-pandemic expectations of employers and employees at PBJ.com.

Keep up with all your business news at the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Decision on Betting on NJ College Sports Teams Could Wind Up With Voters

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What to Know

  • New Jersey’s voters could be asked this fall whether to allow betting on the state’s college sports teams. A bill advanced Wednesday in the state Legislature would set up a referendum in November asking voters whether to repeal prohibitions on betting on New Jersey teams, or on teams from out of state whose games are played in New Jersey.
  • Sen. Paul Sarlo says “a lot of money is being left on the table” under the current college betting bans. New Jersey’s casinos and tracks handled over $6 billion worth of sports bets in 2020.
  • The bill still needs approval in the full state Senate and Assembly.

Watching New Jersey’s legal sports betting market set national records last year, state lawmakers wanted to expand it to allow wagering on New Jersey college teams in time for the football and basketball championships.

Both those events have come and gone, and the bill that would have allowed it languished in the state Legislature.

On Wednesday, a state Assembly panel advanced the bill, bringing New Jersey a step closer to amending the state Constitution to allow wagering on New Jersey teams or games played in New Jersey involving teams from other states.

It was approved in November by a Senate committee.

“A lot of money is being left on the table for college betting, a lot of money,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo, a northern New Jersey Democrat. “Sports betting has become pretty mainstream now. I’m confident we’ll have this on the ballot in 2021.”

The question that would be placed before voters would read as follows: “Do you approve amending the Constitution to permit wagering through casinos and current or former horse racetracks on all college sport or athletic events? Currently, wagering is prohibited on college sport or athletic events that take place in New Jersey. Wagering is also prohibited on an event in which a team from a New Jersey college participates.”

The interpretive statement reads in part: “This amendment would allow the Legislature to pass laws permitting wagering on any college sport or athletic event. It would permit wagering even if a New Jersey college team participates in the competition. Such wagering would be permitted only through casinos and current or former horse racetracks.”

Assembly Member Eric Houghtaling, a Monmouth County Democrat, said there were concerns in some quarters about including New Jersey collegiate teams in the state’s original sports betting law.

“A lot of people had a problem with that being included, so we didn’t put it in the original bill,” he said. “But sports betting in New Jersey has been very successful since then, and it’s time. New Jersey is picking up its level of play in college sports, and this would shine a greater spotlight on it.”

The bill still needs votes in the full Senate and Assembly before being sent to Gov. Phil Murphy.

New Jersey’s casinos, tracks and associated online apps handled over $6 billion worth of sports bets in 2020, even as many gamblers stayed home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

PHL Relaunching 40 Routes, Adding New Ones

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Philadelphia International Airport plans to relaunch more than three dozen routes by the end of September as the travel industry looks to capitalize on pent-up demand this summer, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

Several new domestic routes are also slated to begin during the same period, including flights to Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport in Florida and Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Montana.

Of the 40 routes scheduled to resume over the next five months, 14 are international flights and 26 are domestic. 

Learn more about Philadelphia International Airport’s route expansion at PBJ.com.

Get all your business news at the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Uber Partners With Philly's Gopuff to Deliver Everyday Essentials, From Snacks to Toothpaste

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  • If you order potato chips, toothpaste or over-the-counter medication through the Uber Eats app, it will soon be fulfilled and delivered by start-up Gopuff.
  • The collaboration will launch in more than 95 U.S. cities next month with a national expansion later this summer.

If you order potato chips, toothpaste or over-the-counter medication through the Uber Eats app, it will soon be fulfilled and delivered by start-up Gopuff. The two Softbank-backed companies announced a partnership Tuesday.

Gopuff, ranked No. 22 on last year’s CNBC Disruptor 50 list, focuses on what it calls “everyday essentials,” items you would find in a convenience store.

We built a hyperlocal logistics network of micro-fulfillment centers,” Daniel Folkman, senior vice president at Gopuff, told CNBC on Tuesday evening, “We own all the inventory. We are buying all that inventory from manufacturers and distributors so we are able to fulfill those orders to customers in under 30 minutes, 24 hours a day.”

The collaboration will launch in more than 95 U.S. cities next month with a national expansion later this summer. Customers will order through Uber Eats, and that order will be sent to one of Gopuff’s 250 micro-fulfillment centers.

“With this partnership, we are able to leapfrog the competition in using Gopuff’s network of micro-fulfillment centers to instantly meet consumer demand for thousands of products,” Raj Beri, Uber’s head of grocery and new verticals delivery, said in a release.

Customers who order meals on Uber Eats and convenience items at the same time will have those fulfilled by different drivers. However, both companies said the order process will be seamless, with customers paying through the Uber Eats app. Gopuff has a flat $1.95 delivery fee, but orders over $15 will be free for Uber Eats Pass and Uber Pass subscribers.

While services such as Instacart and Target-owned Shipt are seen as competitors, Gopuff said it’s focused on convenience, not full grocery service. Last week, the company said toilet paper, Tylenol Extra Strength, White Claw hard seltzer, and Slim Jim snacks were among the popular items purchased.

“We buy the inventory. We sell it for more than we buy it, which is what has made the unit economics of our business much stronger than a number of third-party delivery services, because we’re actually making our money on the product margin, not on the people who deliver it,” said Folkman.

Gopuff was founded in 2013 by two college students in Philadelphia. The logistics start-up is now valued at $8.9 billion and recently acquired the BevMo liquor store chain with its more than 160 locations.

Uber has expanded its offerings and capabilities in recent months through acquisitions of delivery service Postmates, alcohol marketplace Drizly and grocery delivery service Cornershop.

Lace Up Your Roller Skates! Summer Fun Is Coming Early to Penn's Landing

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What to Know

  • Roller skating, carnival games, food and even a Ferris Wheel await visitors to the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest.
  • After 2020 claimed roller skating, the roller rink is open again this summer with COVID-related restrictions in place.
  • The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation’s Cherry Street Pier is also open and Spruce Street Harbor Park should open soon.

Roller skating is back at Penn’s Landing as Philadelphians can get an early start on summer.

The Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest rink opens Friday after COVID-19 caused the roller rink to be on hiatus in 2020, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation announced this week.

Besides skating, people of all ages can enjoy the Ferris Wheel, moon bounce, mini golf and boardwalk-style games on “The Midway” and arcade games.

Come hungry! Funnel cake, lemonade, Chickie’s & Pete’s famous fries and more foods are on the menu.

“It is so important for Philadelphians and visitors to be able to gather safely outside and enjoy precious moments together with friends, family, and loved ones. It continues to be our mission to make the Delaware River Waterfront the absolute best place to do just that,” DRWC President Joe Forkin said.

Guests must wear masks and groups need to keep 6 feet apart as part of Summerfest’s COVID protocols. The DRWC suggests purchasing tickets – skating is $5 for admission and $10 for a rental – in advance as “site capacity is limited.”

Hosting a party? You can reserve event space by emailing riverrink@drwc.org.

The DWRC said that an announcement about the return of Spruce Street Harbor Park is expected soon. They also said that Cherry Street Pier continues to offer a variety of events, exhibits and “appropriately-sized performances,” including a free ticketed performance on Saturday from the School of Rock.

“The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) is excited to welcome visitors back with continued socially distanced beer gardens and safe take-away food options, sit-down reservations compliant with current outdoor dining regulations, and additional measures in place to ensure that visitors can take advantage of the Summer and enjoy all that the Waterfront has to offer, comfortably and safely, from Washington Pier all the way to Race Street Pier,” the DWRC said.

Looking to get a jump start on a beer outdoors? Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Parks on Tap is back along the Schuylkill River at the Water Works and the south end of the Schuylkill River Trail.

Summerlike fun that we are missing out on? Please send us the information about the places and events where people can enjoy safe fun this summer.

‘Worst Nightmare', ‘Lasagna of Lies': The Testy Philly DA Debate Between Krasner and Vega

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Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and his lone challenger in the May 18 Democratic primary, Carlos Vega, clashed early and often in a debate on NBC10 and KYW Newsradio Wednesday evening.

Krasner slammed Vega as “having no regard for the truth,” and quickly brought up the exoneration of Anthony Wright, who had been charged with murder and found guilty in 1993. The jury at a new trial after years of appeals in 2014 found Wright not guilty. Vega was one of the prosecutors at the retrial. Wright was awarded $10 million from the City of Philadelphia after a civil rights lawsuit.

Krasner said the case exemplifies the “win-at-all-costs” prosecutorial approach of Vega during his time as an assistant district attorney.

Vega, meanwhile, said Krasner should be held personally responsible for the historically high numbers of homicides and shootings in Philadelphia since the start of 2020.

“Mr. Krasner, you have blood on your hands,” Vega said, before reading off names of several people killed in the last couple years. “The DA’s office has dropped the ball. Their attorneys are not doing their jobs.”

Krasner defended his first term by pointing to an 85% conviction rate on violent crime cases and saying that he has followed through on his promise to reform the city’s criminal justice system.

The two candidates met face-to-face for an hour Wednesday evening at the Comcast Technology Center.

Krasner, seeking a second term, defeated six other candidates in the Democratic primary four years ago. Vega is a former assistant district attorney who Krasner fired along with dozens of other prosecutors after taking office in 2018.

As Krasner and Vega were removing their mics following the debate, the animosity between the two grew sharper. “I’m your worst nightmare. You made a mistake a long time ago,” said Vega. “I’ve been in your head a long time.”

“Sure, Carlos,” Krasner replied.

“Do you want to give me a ride home?” Vega then asked.

“I think you need to walk,” Krasner replied, before Vega said “do you want to shake hands” and offered to “hug it out” as Krasner walked out of the studio.

During the debate, on the topic of juvenile justice, Krasner said his office has changed the way the criminal justice system handles underage suspects. He said nearly all youth charges now stay in juvenile court.

“We have managed in many ways to bring about deep transformational changes in juvenile justice,” Krasner said.

Vega said he would continue to overhaul the way juveniles are treated when charged with crimes. He suggested bringing a “child’s court” to Philadelphia that has been initiated in other big cities, including New York City.

The two candidates also sparred over issues involving how to work with the police department on cases and how to hold police officers accountable for their on-duty actions.

“The elephant in the room is that the Fraternal Order of Police has spent $120,000 on my opponent’s campaign,” Krasner said. “They’ve done it for a reason. The leadership of the FOP does not want accountability.”

Vega said he would repair the relationship between the DA’s office and the police department.

“With respect to vilifying the police, I have to be humble enough to be quiet and work with the police department,” Vega said.

Krasner has become a leader nationally in a push to reform criminal justice by ending what he describes as a culture of mass incarceration, and holding police officers more accountable.

Vega and his supporters, including the city’s police union, are making the election a referendum on that progressive reform agenda.

Krasner’s campaign describes Vega as a vanguard of the “lock ’em up” law-and-order approach to criminal justice in recent decades that caused mass incarceration and a aggressive prosecutorial strategy.

Krasner has not disappointed most of his progressive supporters. He led an overhaul of Philadelphia’s cash bail system, supported decriminalization of certain minor crimes, and has vigorously pushed for better policing.

That last priority has made the city police union a constant foe to Krasner’s reform agenda.

One of Vega’s main contentions, that Krasner’s reforms have contributed to the city’s soaring gun violence, remained central to his debate responses Wednesday.

“There are no consequences, which is why the murder rate has gone up,” Vega said at the debate.

Gun violence has increased nationally. Homicides are up 30, 40, even 50% year over year in places like Chicago, Oklahoma City, New York City, Los Angeles and Phoenix, to name just of a few. Experts believe the pandemic played a large part in a conflux of problems that created historically high homicide totals across the country.

Four years ago, Krasner had billionaire George Soros on his side. The progressive philanthropist spent millions on local DA’s races across the country hoping to reform criminal justice, and he pumped nearly $1.5 million into political advertising that supported Krasner’s promise to end mass incarceration in Philadelphia.

Krasner and Vega had nearly identical amounts of campaign cash at the start of April, according to their finance reports. Each had roughly $350,000, though Krasner had already spent about $250,000 in the previous few months while Vega had spent about $100,000.

The next campaign finance reports are due in early May.

HOW TO VOTE IN MAY 18 PRIMARY: Registered Democrats in Philadelphia will be able to cast votes in the race between Vega and Krasner. The deadline to register to vote or to change your party designation was May 3. Voters can vote by mail or in person. Mail-in applications are due by May 11. CLICK HERE to apply.

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Ben & Jerry's Founder Backs Larry Krasner in Philly DA Ice Cream War

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The Philadelphia district attorney race is, ironically, cooling down just as it’s heating up, and ice cream is now playing a factor.

Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, is joining the burgeoning ice cream war, publicly throwing his support behind incumbent DA Larry Krasner. Earlier, the city’s police union called him “soft on crime” while serving up free Mister Softee ice cream outside his office last week.

“To be clear, Mr Softee isn’t even ice cream. It is pumped up with a lot of hot air which is somehow frozen in a limp sort of way. It is chock full of artificial ingredients,” Cohen said in a statement. “In short, it’s fake ice cream. Just like the lies that the FOP has been telling about a courageous fighter for true justice and … one of the best DAs in the US.”

A Ben & Jerry’s spokeswoman said Cohen made the statement as a private citizen and not as a representative of the company.

Cohen also called the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5, which represents Philadelphia law enforcement officers, “out of control” and said they oppose Krasner because he attempts to hold police accountable.

The fiery riposte comes after the FOP’s campaign stunt last week, in which they also urged people to vote for veteran prosecutor and Krasner opponent Carlos Vega. For its part, Mister Frostee said on its Facebook page that, “We are not taking a position on the issue BUT who doesn’t like FREE ice cream?”

The FOP and its president, John McNesby, have long had a turbulent relationship with Krasner, an ex-defense lawyer who became district attorney in 2018 after running on a platform of reforming the criminal justice system.

His opponents frequently argue that his prosecutorial approach – including decriminalizing minor crimes – has made the city less safe. Meanwhile, Krasner has prosecuted police officers accused of misconduct during his tenure.

He and Vega also have a turbulent history, with Krasner firing his now-opponent when he became the city’s district attorney. Both men are running as Democrats, with the winner of the May 18 primary also the presumptive winner of the November general election in the overwhelmingly Democratic city.

The pair clashed on NBC10 Wednesday night in what was this election cycle’s only DA debate, which was punctuated by a post-debate dust up in which Vega, while they were removing their microphones, told Krasner, “I’m your worst nightmare. You made a mistake a long time ago. I’ve been in your head a long time.”

“Sure, Carlos,” Krasner replied.

Vega blamed Krasner for the historically high numbers of homicides and shootings in Philadelphia since the start of 2020, telling the incumbent, “Mr. Krasner, you have blood on your hands,” while arguing that prosecutors under his watch have “dropped the ball.”

Krasner defended his first term by pointing to an 85% conviction rate on violent crime cases and saying that he has followed through on his promise to reform the city’s criminal justice system.

At issue is also a philosophical approach to prosecution, one that has made Krasner arguably the face of the small but growing “progressive prosecutor” movement around the country. These new Das have veered away from the “tough on crime” policies that have for decades dominated the criminal justice system in America and contributed to the country’s overincarceration problem.

Krasner has been happy to cast Vega as a return to the old way of doing things, using the debate stage to accuse his opponent of taking a “win-at-all-costs” approach during Vega’s time as an assistant district attorney. He also pointed to the FOP backing Vega, saying that the group is supporting him because they do not want police accountability.


1,000s of Philly GOP Voters Became Democrats This Year. Where They Live and What It Means

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Thousands of registered Republican voters in Philadelphia have switched parties and become Democrats since the beginning of the year, and the city police union has been taking credit for the large migration.

The Fraternal Order of Police claims they have been pushing the party change to help get their candidate in the May 18 district attorney’s primary elected. The union backs Carlos Vega, a former city prosecutor who is challenging incumbent District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Only registered Democrats can vote in the primary, and the police union has put all of its resources into ousting Krasner, who has become a national figure in the criminal justice reform debate and is a strong supporter for more police accountability.

An NBC10 analysis of where the those voters who switched parties live gives some credence to the union’s claims that it has undertaken a “get out the party switch” effort. (For those still considering switching parties to vote in the primary, please note: you missed the boat. The deadline to do so was Monday, May 3.)

Here is a map of Philadelphia’s 66 political wards, and the number of voters per ward who changed parties. Wards with darker colors indicate a higher number of Republicans who became Democrats.

As the map shows, most of the Republicans who switched to the Democratic Party this year live in the Northeast section of the city. South Philadelphia Republicans also switched at a higher rate than GOP voters in other parts of the city.

Those sections of Philadelphia are traditionally home to many of the city’s police officers. A few years ago, the FOP recruited its union hall from Center City to the Far Northeast.

The high rate of party switching is the latest sign of a fight to the finish for Krasner and Vega, and a significant departure from previous elections.

In the previous two political cycles — the 2020 presidential election and the 2018 mid-term election — about 3,000 Republicans switched to Democrat in Philadelphia between Jan. 1 and the primary election, Berwood Yost, director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College, said this week. This year is a 200% increase over those previous elections combined.

Yost and other election experts said the party switching appears to be ignited by the political and social waves that Krasner created in his first term as DA. The former civil rights attorney who made a name by suing the Philadelphia police department vowed to reform longstanding institutions like cash bail, probation and juvenile incarceration.

He also rankled the police department, which for decades has worked hand-in-hand with the district attorney’s office, by charging more than 50 officers with a range of offenses.

Vega, meanwhile, is a former assistant district attorney for 35 years who has vowed to continue some of Krasner’s reforms while getting tougher on crime and working closer with police to make Philadelphia safer. He has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funding from the city and state police unions.

“It could make a difference if the race is going to be close,” Yost said of the party switching. “However, the other side of this is the DA is a progressive candidate and there are a lot of progressive Democrats in the city. The party switches only matter if this is a close race.”

It is hard, if not impossible, to predict whether the race is close or not. There have been no public polls conducted, and in an “off-off-election year” — meaning there are no higher offices like mayor or Congress or president on the ballot — turnout is hard to predict.

“I would be surprised if we didn’t have a higher turnout in the primary (this year) than in 2017 because this issue is so transparent and paramount,” longtime polling expert Terry Madonna said of Krasner’s reform agenda and the rise in gun violence in Philadelphia.

About 155,000 voters cast ballots in the DA primary in 2017, when Krasner beat out five other Democratic candidates to win his first term. That constituted about 22% of registered Democrats.

So far this year, 72,000 Democrats have requested mail-in ballots for the primary. That number is expected to grow before the May 11 deadline to apply for mail-in voting.

Last year, in Pennsylvania’s first primary and general elections using universal mail-in voting, about 50% of Philadelphia voters cast ballots by mail, City Commissioner Al Schmidt said.

But he cautioned against using those elections in a presidential election year as a predictor for this year.

“It’ll be really interesting to see” the mail-in to in-person voting ratio in the primary, Schmidt said in estimating turnout in future elections.

Schmidt, a Republican, said that it is notable that the 6,200-plus Republicans who switched parties come from certain parts of the city. Center City Republicans, for instance, do not constitute many of the party switchers while switching was heaviest in Northeast Philly neighborhoods.

“We’re not seeing much activity in Center City, where there are a lot of Republicans,” Schmidt said.

He declined to predict what the party switching means for the outcome of the race between Krasner and Vega, but said supporters of both candidates appear to have reasons to be confident.

“We’ll see if the progressive trend continues in the city,” Schmidt said of the movement that helped Krasner get elected. “In a low turnout election, it’s all about passion.”

HOW TO VOTE IN MAY 18 PRIMARY: Registered Democrats in Philadelphia will be able to cast votes in the race between Vega and Krasner. The deadline to register to vote or to change your party designation was May 3. Voters can vote by mail or in person. Mail-in applications are due by May 11. CLICK HERE to apply.

Philadelphia Police Officer Injured During Foot Chase

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Two people are in custody while a Philadelphia police officer is recovering after being injured during a foot chase Thursday night. 

The 22nd District officer was chasing after the suspects along the 2400 block of Glenwood Drive at 7:15 p.m. when he hurt his leg. The officer was taken to Temple University Hospital. His injuries are not life-threatening, according to police.

Two people were arrested in connection to the incident and two guns were recovered. 

This story is developing. Check back for updates. 

Muslim Teen Claims She Was Attacked by 2 Girls Due to Her Religion

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An investigation is underway after a Muslim teenager from Montgomery County accused two other girls of attacking her and ripping off her hijab at school due to her religion. 

“What they did was disgusting and horrible and it was a hate crime literally. That’s it,” Sanaa Beaufort told NBC10. “That’s all we’ve got to call it.” 

Beaufort, a 16-year-old junior and student ambassador at North Penn High School, told NBC10 two other girls attacked her Tuesday inside the school. Beaufort claimed one of the girls aggressively approached her and bumped her as she stepped out of the bathroom. As she took a defensive stance, a fight broke out and another girl jumped in, according to Beaufort. Beaufort said the girls ripped off her hijab, her religious head covering, during the fight. 

“You stripped me of my religion,” Beaufort said. “You took the most sacred thing I have on my body.” 

The incident also occurred during Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims. Beaufort told NBC10 the dispute between her and the two other girls began weeks ago when she asked them to stop using the “N” word. She claims after that there were constant threats of violence. She also claims the girls kept saying, “We got you now,” during the fight on Tuesday. 

A video that captured some of the fight’s aftermath surfaced on social media and is currently being viewed by the North Penn School District as well as the Ambler NAACP which had an emergency meeting Wednesday night. 

“We like to throw around these pretty words and pretty phrases like, ‘Hate has no home here.’ Well, hate is here and hate revisited us again,” Shayk Anwar Muhammad, a member of the Ambler NAACP, told NBC10. 

A spokesperson for the North Penn School District said they’re committed to developing a respect for diversity. 

“Any altercation taking place in our schools is investigated and individuals involved are assigned consequences,” the spokesperson said. 

As the investigation continues, Beaufort is staying home and doesn’t know if she’ll ever go back to the school. 

Beaufort is also facing a 10-day suspension for the fight and she’s scheduled for a disciplinary hearing next week.

More Violence, Less Cops. Why Are There Fewer Police Officers in Philly?

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Mileihka Colon has been waiting since January of last year to become a Philadelphia police officer. 

“I honestly thought that when I graduated I was going to already be a police officer by July or August,” she told NBC10. 

Colon applied while finishing college in 2020. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, putting a halt to many things, including the Philadelphia Police Academy. 

“I don’t know if my application is still out there and I don’t know if it’s pending,” Colon said. “I don’t know if I need to reapply again.” 

Colon isn’t the only one dealing with the issue. Hundreds of applications were put on hold indefinitely and there hasn’t been a new recruit class in the academy since March of last year. As a result, Philadelphia will not have any rookie officers during a year that’s on pace to be the most violent in recent history. 

Meanwhile, veteran officers continue to retire. The police department is down to approximately 6,100 officers, nearly 300 short of what it’s budgeted to have. 

“I think we’re still safe, but it’s worrisome,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said. 

The NBC10 Investigators found that an increasing number of officers are leaving the department each year. If the trend continues this year, the police force could soon fall to below 6,000. 

“If we don’t start paying attention to this now, later on down the road, months, years from now or at least a year from now, I think we’ll be at a point of criticality,” Outlaw said. 

Police departments in Baltimore, Phoenix and San Antonio told the NBC10 Investigators their academies didn’t stop during the pandemic. They went partially virtual and also held socially distant in-person classes. Philadelphia didn’t implement that strategy however. 

“I think we’re kind of slow to the game, quite frankly,” Outlaw said. 

That year-long gap in recruitment has consequences, according to experts. 

“Less officers translate into a less effective response time,” Maria Haberfeld, a police science professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said. 

Fewer officers also means more overtime. 

“If you are in your 13th, 14th, 15th hour of overtime, your effectiveness obviously goes down,” Haberfeld said. 

Colon, meanwhile, finds the entire situation frustrating. 

“Two days ago, somebody got shot down the street,” she said. “I’ve been living here nine years and that was the first time we saw something like that.” 

She told NBC10 she wants to help make Philly safer. 

“I’m trying to stay in my community because here’s where I grew up,” she said. “And this was the reason for me to become a police officer.” 

No date has been set yet for the next Philadelphia Police Academy class. The department is already calling applicants to go in for their reading and agility tests, the first hurdles in what may be a lengthy process. 

Grandma Gossip Helped Lead FBI to Capitol Riot Suspect, Officials Say

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A conversation between two women led to the arrest of a New Jersey man in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to court documents.

More than a week after the siege led by supporters of former President Donald Trump, the mother of Robert Lee Petrosh told a friend her son had participated in the mob that stormed into the Capitol, authorities said. That friend then told her grandson, who informed the FBI about his alleged role, according to the document.

Federal authorities first learned of Petrosh when an anonymous online tipster told the FBI he “was on the steps” of the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the complaint. Petrosh’s mother’s friend’s grandson and an FBI officer who knew Petrosh for about 15 years identified him in photos later that month, the document said.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com

Jersey City Man Wanted on Murder Charge in Mother's Fiery Death: Prosecutors

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Prosecutors in Hudson County are asking for help finding a 29-year-old Jersey City man they allege murdered his own mother in a possible arson case early Thursday.

Police and firefighters were called to a single-family home on Virginia Avenue just before 1 a.m. for a report of a disturbance and found a small fire, as well as 60-year-old Jacquelin Nelson in critical condition on the first floor.

Nelson was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead about three hours after authorities first got to the scene. Her cause and manner of death are pending autopsy findings from the medical examiner’s office.

The fire was said to have been under control within 30 minutes of crews arriving.

Nelson’s son, 29-year-old Terrance Nelson, is on the loose and has been charged with his mother’s murder, prosecutors said. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Hudson County prosecutor’s office at 201-915-1345.

8 Years After Sandy, $230M Hoboken Flood Plan Gets Kickoff

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More than eight years after Superstorm Sandy pushed the Hudson River over its banks and left Hoboken residents without power or water for days, the New Jersey city officially kicked off a large-scale flood prevention project Thursday that it hopes will be a national model for combating the effects of climate change.

The $230 million project received approval in 2017 for funding by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of its Rebuild By Design competition. The city spent three years reviewing alternatives before submitting its bid, which features bulkheads and flood walls, green infrastructure to absorb storm water, catch basins to hold it and improvements to the city’s sewer system to effectively discharge it.

“Given the impact of climate change, it’s not a question of if, but of when, Hoboken and this region will be struck by another severe storm,” former Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, a driving force behind the plan, said Thursday. “Through the challenges, the people of Hoboken showed their true resilience, and we owe it to them to build a resilient city.”

The one-square-mile city suffered heavily during and after Sandy, as 80% of the city — including four fire stations — flooded and its heavily used rail hub was unusable for months. In a quirk of geography, the areas hit hardest were in the lower-lying western parts of the city and not the ones closest to the river. Those areas are home to many of the city’s lower-income residents.

“They were the most impacted and they will be the biggest beneficiaries of this project,” current Mayor Ravi Bhalla said. ”So we don’t have to repeat the pattern of destruction and rebuilding, destruction and rebuilding, but instead have a comprehensive resiliency plan.”

Construction has been under way for a few weeks, Bhalla said, and is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge attended Thursday’s announcement on the Hoboken waterfront, with the New York City skyline in the distance.

“You have come out of this tragedy in a strong, strong way,” Fudge said. “You have made this work and talked about resiliency in a way that most people don’t.”

Sandy caused more than $70 billion in damage along the eastern U.S. coastline, and was blamed for nearly 200 deaths in the U.S. and the Caribbean.


I-76, Kelly Drive Closing This Weekend, but Luckily Not for Mother's Day

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It won’t be the same traffic nightmare as last weekend, but road closures on three major Philadelphia roadways could slow you down. Luckily, all the road closures are expected to be cleared on Mother’s Day.

Pack patience and have an alternate route in mind if you are heading down the Jersey Shore Friday night, heading to the Philadelphia Zoo Saturday or just looking to drive into or through Philadelphia Saturday.

A series of road and lanes closures due to repairs and the return of the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta on some major roadways could be causing traffic headaches.

The roads involved: the eastbound Schuylkill Expressway, a portion of the Kelly Drive and Girard Avenue by the zoo and near Fairmount Park.

Let’s start with I-76…

I-76 Eastbound Closed Overnight

If you are heading down the Jersey Shore or into Center City and South Philadelphia Friday night into early Saturday then you will be taking the long way.

PennDOT is closing the eastbound lanes of the Schuylkill Expressway (Interstate 76) from the Vine Street Expressway (Interstate 676) to University Avenue from 7 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Saturday “for installation of raised pavement markings.”

“Through traffic will be detoured east on I-676 and south on Interstate 95 back to I-76,” PennDOT said in a news release. “Eastbound I-76 local traffic will exit at Spring Garden Street and follow the signing for local detours. Traffic normally using closed ramps within the work zones also will follow the signing for local detours.”

About 130,00 vehicles speed (or inch along due to the heavy traffic) over the stretch of I-76 during normal days, PennDOT has said in the past.

The westbound lanes of I-76 are not scheduled to be closed over the weekend.

The Iconic Dad Vail Regatta Is Back on the Schuylkill River and so Is a Kelly Drive Detour

After a year of regattas lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, the boat races are back and so are the traffic detours along Kelly Drive (normally an alternate route for extra traffic on I-76).

The Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta is bringing collegiate rowers from around the country to the Schuylkill River Saturday.

To allow space for crews to load in equipment and needing to access the water, the Kelly Drive will be closed to traffic in both directions between the Strawberry Mansion Bridge/Reservoir Drive and Fountain Drive from 10 a.m. Friday until 7 p.m. Saturday, race organizers told NBC10.

Drivers will be detoured through Fairmount Park and should expect a slow go.

The ongoing closure of Martin Luther King Drive on the other side of the river for recreational activities makes this closure even more tricky.

A Potential Traffic Headache on Girard Avenue Near the Philadelphia Zoo

Folks who use surface roads to get into Center City should plan on avoiding Girard Avenue near the Philadelphia Zoo on Saturday.

A lane along West Girard Avenue (U.S. Route 30) will be closed between 34th and 38th streets this Saturday, “for bridge construction as part of a project to replace the bridge that carries four lanes of traffic and the SEPTA Route 15 trolley over CSX railroad tracks,” PennDOT said.

The lane closure will only happen in one direction at a time. And the project continues Mondays through Saturdays until May 27, PennDOT said.

The other issue that could cause you to slow down — and even potentially could slow traffic down onto I-76 — is the off ramp from eastbound I-76 that accesses Girard in the construction zone will be reduced to one lane throughout the project.

“Drivers are advised to allow extra time when traveling through the work areas because backups and delays will occur,” PennDOT said.

Have a Traffic Plan

The best bet is to check your traffic app before you leave and during your drive and to tune to our newsgathering partners at KYW Newsradio for the latest traffic reports.

Back to the Bar, Buffet in NJ; More People Can Dine at Philly Restaurants

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What to Know

  • In Philadelphia, more people can eat indoors at Philadelphia restaurants starting Friday. Indoor catered events are also allowed again.
  • Bar service and buffets are allowed again in New Jersey.
  • The relaxed restrictions come as more people get COVID vaccines.

You can now get served a drink and eat all you want while serving yourself food, again, in New Jersey. And over the Delaware River in Philadelphia more people can now eat indoors at restaurants and weddings are back.

Starting this weekend, you can walk up to the bar to order a drink and grab your own food from a casino buffet again, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced earlier this week while relaxing COVID-19 restrictions.

In Philadelphia as more people are vaccinated against the coronavirus, the city is easing restrictions on indoor dining and permitting indoor catered events, like weddings, with capacity limits.

Here is a breakdown by state of what is now allowed as of Friday, May 7:

Eased COVID Restrictions in New Jersey

  • People can begin to saddle up to bars again. It will be up to restaurant and bar owners to prevent people from congregating at the bar and to adhere to the 6-feet distance rule or put up petitions between parties.
  • The restriction on buffets and other self-service food at restaurants will be lifted. Indoor dining rules will remain in place for masking when not eating or drinking at your table.
  • The effective date for the increase of capacity at outdoor events to 500 people and the increase of indoor capacities for weddings, proms and other events up to 50% capacity to 250 people. Dance floors can be open for weddings this weekend.

Eased COVID Restrictions in Philadelphia

  • Indoor dining capacity in Philadelphia restaurants expand to 50% for all eateries and 75% for those businesses that meet “enhanced ventilation standards.”
  • Indoor table sizes can expand from four to six people. And, those people don’t need to be from the same household. Restaurants must still place tables 6 feet apart.
  • Outdoors, up to 10 people can sit at the same table.
  • The city is allowing for indoor catered social events such as weddings. Indoor catered social events — including alcohol service and dancing — can have up to 75 people (including staff) or 25% capacity. If cases continue to fall, the cap will go up to 150 people as of May 21.
  • Masking rules remain in effect when people are not eating.

Both New Jersey and Philadelphia plan to further loosen restrictions should COVID cases and spread continue to fall.

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Larry Krasner and His Progressive Reforms Face Old-School Challenge in DA Election

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Larry Krasner, now more than three years into the job as Philadelphia’s top prosecutor, didn’t have an easy path to victory in his first Democratic primary four years ago.

As a former defense attorney running alongside four well-respected local and federal prosecutors, a former municipal judge and a former city managing director, Krasner’s reform-minded progressive approach to criminal justice stood out in comparison to most of the platforms of the other six Democratic candidates.

It certainly helped that billionaire George Soros, who has spent millions on local DA’s races across the country hoping to reform criminal justice, pumped nearly $1.5 million into political advertising that supported Krasner’s message of change.

Krasner has not disappointed his progressive supporters. He led an overhaul of Philadelphia’s cash bail system, supported decriminalization of certain minor crimes, and has vigorously pushed for better policing.

His detractors, the city’s police union among the strongest, say his style is less prosecutorial-minded than a DA should be. The former U.S. attorney for Philadelphia, a Republican appointed by former President Donald Trump, often derided Krasner’s approach and said the city’s criminal element referred to Krasner as “Uncle Larry” for his supposed leniency.

Now, he faces his first re-election bid and his lone opponent in the Democratic primary May 18 is a former assistant district attorney, Carlos Vega, who was fired by Krasner back in 2018 at the onset of the new DA’s tenure.

Vega was among numerous veteran prosecutors in the DA’s office who were let go as Krasner changed the culture of the office.

“Carlos Vega’s way of doing things is simply to turn back the clock to a time when convictions were pursued regardless of truth, where the (District Attorney’s Office) did not worry about mistakes, and where it never dared question police or hold law enforcement accountable,” Krasner’s campaign manager Brandon Evans said Tuesday. “His approach does not work for the good of this city and it would be devastating to stop the progress that we have made and return to the ways of the past.”

Vega said the biggest failure of Krasner’s tenure has been the incumbent’s inability to keep Philadelphians safe.

“Four years ago, Larry Krasner promised us justice that would make us safer. But his failure to address violent crime, and his reckless approach to reform has made Philadelphia more dangerous today than before he took office,” Vega said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Krasner and Vega are taking part in a televised debate May 5 that will be moderated by NBC10 and KYW Newsradio reporters. It will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. and also air live on NBC10.com and the NBC10 app as well as NBC10’s Roku TV and Apple TV apps. It can be heard live on KYW Newsradio at 103.9 FM and 1060 AM.

The city is in the midst of a gun violence crisis unparalleled in recent decades. Last year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, 499 people were killed in Philadelphia, the second highest total of the last 60 years. In 2021, homicides are on pace to reach the highest total ever. Shootings are also very high, according to police department data.

The winner of the May primary will be the presumptive winner of the November general election, considering Democrats outnumber Republicans by a roughly 7-to-1 margin among the Philadelphia electorate.

The only declared Republican for the DA’s race is a defense attorney, Charles Peruto Jr., who has made a fortune as one of Philadelphia’s top defense attorneys representing high-profile criminal suspects for decades.

Following a fiery announcement that he’s running in February, Peruto has not been heard from and has only $11,000 in his campaign funds, according to his campaign finance report filed earlier in April.

Krasner and Vega had nearly identical amounts of campaign cash, according to their finance reports. Each had roughly $350,000, though Krasner had already spent about $250,000 in the previous few months while Vega had spent about $100,000.

The next campaign finance reports are due in early May.

It remains unclear if Krasner will receive another round of support from Soros or another outside change agent with a progressive platform. Four years ago, Soros’s advertising barrage came late in the election race, and changed the game for Krasner.

Krasner eventually won by 18% over his next closest competitor in the seven-candidate race.

“In 2017, Larry made promises to upend a broken system, and unlike most politicians, he has kept those promises. He has reduced unnecessary incarceration, implemented diversion programs that actually address the needs of the community, pushed for investments and programs that will serve the needs of Philadelphia, and held people who are causing harm accountable,” Krasner’s campaign manager, Evans, said. “He has actions he can point to and be proud of, not just empty words.”

It’s those very actions that have Vega and his supporters, including more than 150 former Philadelphia prosecutors in a letter they signed this week, calling for Krasner’s ouster.

“We can’t afford another four years of Krasner’s failures. We are on track to lose nearly 600+ Philadelphians this year, and Larry Krasner has yet to take responsibility for this crisis or provide meaningful solutions that will save lives,” Vega said. “I grew up in a working class Hispanic neighborhood where my family and I were victims of both systemic injustice and violent crime. I became a prosecutor to be a voice for people like my family and friends who were victims of both systemic injustice and violent crime. My experience as a prosecutor taught me what works and what’s broken in the criminal justice system. I will bring a more common sense, responsible approach to reform that doesn’t come at the expense of our safety.”

HOW TO VOTE IN MAY 18 PRIMARY: Registered Democrats in Philadelphia will be able to cast votes in the race between Vega and Krasner. The deadline to register to vote or to change your party designation is 5 p.m. on May 3. Voter applicants can use Pennsylvania’s online voter registration system, and traditional paper voter registration forms must be received in county voter registration offices by close of business on May 3.  

US Army Trainee Arrested After Hijacking School Bus Full of Children in SC

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A rifle-toting U.S. Army trainee from New Jersey allegedly hijacked a school bus full of kids in South Carolina, holding the driver at gunpoint, in what officials believe was a desperate attempt to get home.

A camera on board the bus in Columbia captured the man, identified as Jovan Collazo, get on and point his weapon at the driver Thursday morning. The 23-year-old trainee at nearby Fort Jackson boarded the bus, which was carrying 18 schoolkids from Forest Lake Elementary, and ordered the man behind the wheel to drive.

“I’ve been a sheriff for 25 years, a cop for 46 years, and this is the first time I’ve ever had a call like I had this morning,” said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

The commanding general of Fort Jackson said that Collazo had only been in training for three weeks, and that it appeared he was trying to get home to New Jersey. His only listed address is in Perth Amboy, with one known relative.

While the commanding officer said there were no indications that the trainee had any intention of harming himself or others, those who were trapped inside the bus with him as he pointed a rifle did not know that.

“They were upset, they were scared to death,” Lott said of the students and driver. “For six minutes they were traumatized, six complete minutes the bad guy was on the bus with a gun … the kids started asking lots of questions if he was going to hurt them or the bus driver.”

Police said that Collazo eventually let the students and the driver off the bus, unharmed. Older students had their arms around the younger kids after they were let go.

From there, Collazo allegedly left the rifle on the bus as he went through neighborhoods trying to get rides and clothes, police said. He was soon spotted by officers and was arrested without a struggle.

U.S. Army officials said the rifle was not loaded, as trainees at that level are not allowed ammo. Collazo faces a slew pf charges including kidnapping and carjacking.

Stray Dog Attacks Boy on Porch of His Northeast Philly Home, Police Say

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A stray dog attacked a young boy on the porch of his Northeast Philadelphia home Friday morning leaving the boy hospitalized.

The stray pit bull attacked the 5-year-old boy around 8:30 a.m. at a home along Shishler Street, near Comly Street, in Oxford Circle, Philadelphia police said.

Medics took the boy to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children where he was listed in stable condition. Police didn’t reveal the extent of the boy’s injuries.

The dog was taken to ACCT Philly, police said.

Investigators revealed no further information about the attack or the dog involved.

Voter ID Is a Flashpoint in Pennsylvania Election Law Talks

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What to Know

  • Republicans wanting a stricter voter identification provisions in Pennsylvania is emerging as an early flashpoint with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in what GOP lawmakers cast as a top-to-bottom update of state election law.
  • This follows a presidential contest that Donald Trump still baselessly maintains was stolen from him by fraud.
  • Wolf’s chief of staff, Mike Brunelle, said the House Republican in charge of writing election legislation called him to discuss the matter, and told him that voter ID needs to be part of negotiations. But Brunelle says it was a short conversation because Wolf opposes changes to the voter ID law.

Republicans wanting stricter voter identification provisions in Pennsylvania is emerging as an early flashpoint with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in what GOP lawmakers cast as a top-to-bottom update of state election law following a presidential contest that Donald Trump still baselessly maintains was stolen from him.

Wolf’s chief of staff, Mike Brunelle, said the House Republican in charge of writing election legislation called him to discuss the matter, but it was a short conversation.

Wolf is ready to discuss legislation to update the state’s election law, but opposes changes to the voter ID law, Brunelle told The Associated Press.

“When voter ID was put on the table, it made it clear that it was not a serious discussion,” Brunelle said.

Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, said he had called Brunelle to get discussions started and Brunelle asked him whether Grove wanted voter ID to be part of talks. Grove told him that it needs to be because House Republicans are concerned about it, Grove said.

“Well, I don’t want to waste your time, we’re not interested in it,” Brunelle told Grove.

Pennsylvania’s courts in 2014 struck down a GOP-penned law requiring a state-issued photo ID for voters, saying it imposed an unreasonable burden on the right to vote and that its backers failed to demonstrate the need for it.

The Blue Penguin Baby Boom at NJ's Adventure Aquarium Is Oozing Cuteness

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Oh baby, not just once, but five times at Adventure Aquarium.

The Camden, New Jersey, aquarium now has five blue penguin chicks on display in time for Mother’s Day.

Five baby blue penguin chicks at Adventure Aquarium
Five little blue penguin chicks on display at Camden’s Adventure Aquarium.

“(Guests) can now see these adorable slate-blue penguins, the smallest species of penguin in the world, playing on Little Blue Beach and practicing their new swimming skills,” the aquarium said in a news release Thursday.

The fab five were born in recent months with little Griffin the youngest and only boy of the group.

Griffin has joined Fairy, Phoenix, Pixie and Siren at Little Blue Beach.

The aquarium has adjusted water temperature, humidity levels, air circulation and lighting to work for “Southern Hemisphere species for a breeding season in the Northern Hemisphere,” Jamie Becker, bird and mammal biologist at Adventure Aquarium, said.

“This year, we made many changes to their exhibit and are proud these modifications worked for such a successful breeding season,” Becker said. 

The aquarium is open with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Click here to make your reservation to see the penguin chicks before they quickly “become Olympic-level swimmers in no time,” the attraction said.

And for those needing one more adorable look… here you go:

A blue penguin chick
A blue penguin chick at New Jersey’s Adventure Aquarium.

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Feds Lending Van to Help Short-Staffed Philly Forensics Unit Solve Gun Crimes

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The latest weapon in Philadelphia’s fight to curb gun violence comes in the form of a van from federal authorities.

Since early April, the city’s forensic unit has been getting help from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, using its mobile crime lab to analyze ballistic evidence while dealing with a current staffing shortage and surge in shootings, Philadelphia Office of Forensic Science Director Michael Garvey said.

“When you’re talking about the level of violence that we’re seeing, we need to aid investigations as quickly as possible, so once again, like in 2012 and like in 2016, and like in every case we have when we’re tracing firearms and running this evidence, we reached out to the ATF for help, and like no better partner, they showed up again,” Garvey said.

The van – one of only three of its kind – is part of the ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, the ATF’s national database of ballistic evidence, said Matthew Varisco, the special agent in charge of the ATF’s Philadelphia division.

It comes with a trailer – which Varisco said has been given to the Philadelphia Police Department to keep – in which firearm examiners shoot guns to examine the ballistic evidence.

Despite being a lab on wheels, however, the van is not being deployed to shooting scenes. Instead, it’s parked outside the city’s forensics lab and acts as a “force multiplier,” allowing for additional ATF staff to help analyze evidence, Varisco said.

Garvey said it’s a much-needed tool because COVID-19, a loss of resources, people leaving the forensics unit and a rise in gun crimes had been slowing down investigations. Those factors caused the process of screening evidence to jump from 48 hours to about four to six weeks, he said.

This year alone, authorities have recovered more than 2,100 guns used in crimes or carried illegally and are on pace to recover more than 6,200 such guns by the end of the year, Garvey noted. He added that crime guns recovered have increased substantially in recent years. “We are at a record pace of crime guns,” he said.

There has also been an uptick in “personally made firearms” – commonly known as “ghost guns” – which don’t have a serial number and are difficult to trace, Garvey said, adding that these type of guns make up about 10% of those recovered by law enforcement.

He noted that in a given year, the forensic lab’s firearms unit has to analyze some 100,000 pieces of evidence – including anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 spent shell casings – making for a mountain of evidence for the short-staffed team.

“With quicker turnaround on these cases, the hope is that we can continue to get dangerous individuals off of the street sooner,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said, while highlighting the cooperation between the PPD and federal authorities.

She said the forensic lab is looking to get back to its base level of staffing but is also in discussions about later expanding. Meanwhile, five forensic examiner trainees have begun the training program to become qualified firearm examiners, Garvey said.

In the meantime, there’s no timetable for ending the use of the NIBIN van.

“This is an absolute immediate need … They’re welcome to stay as long as they like,” Outlaw said.

There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.

NJ School: We've Addressed Educator's Trans-Rant Beer Toss

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A New Jersey school district says it has responded in a “swift and serious” way to the case of a vice principal who threw beer on people who were videotaping his wife’s extended rant against a transgender woman’s use of a public bathroom.

In a message on its website, the Neptune school district says that for legal reasons, it cannot make public the action it took regarding Michael Smurro, vice principal of Neptune Middle School.

He was shown on video tossing a cup of beer when he and his wife realized other patrons were filming them at an outdoor restaurant April 24 in Galloway Township.

In an email to The Associated Press days after the incident, Smurro apologized and said he should have just walked away from the situation. He did not respond to a message seeking comment Friday.

A small protest was held Friday afternoon in a parking lot near the Neptune Board of Education offices, during which the Philly Metro Activism Network said Smurro has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

The group based its claim on an item from the board’s April 28 meeting in which an unspecified employee was placed on administrative leave with pay “pending results of an investigation.” The employee’s district identification number was listed, but not the employee’s name.

Superintendent Tami Crader told The Associated Press on Friday she cannot discuss personnel matters publicly.

“I realize that the public becomes frustrated with what they perceive is a lack of action or a lack of transparency but I am obligated to maintain confidentiality with regard to all personnel matters,” she wrote in an email.

In a statement posted Thursday on the district’s website, Crader wrote, “Our response to the well-publicized incident involving a Neptune Board of Education staff member has been swift and serious but cannot be made public. We understand and share the public’s concern and frustration but cannot share more than an assurance that this situation is being addressed, not swept under the rug, and with our students’ social-emotional well-being at the forefront of any of our actions.”

The organization that held Friday’s protest called the district’s refusal to reveal its action regarding Smurro “careless and unacceptable.”

Video recorded by a patron at a table nearby shows the Smurros at an outdoor dining area. The footage shows Lisa Smurro complaining at length about a person she said is a transgender woman using the women’s bathroom.

Footage shows that the couple became aware that someone was videotaping them. They get up and walk near the table where the person filming was, and Lisa Smurro continues to complain about the transgender woman’s using the restroom. A woman at the table replies, “Please take your hate elsewhere.”

Michael Smurro then walks up and tosses the contents of a cup of beer at occupants of the table.

“Here you go, pal,” he says on the video. “There you go.”

Michael Smurro then takes several steps back and, gesturing toward himself, says, “Now you can come out. I’m right here,” before the couple walks away.

Police were not called, and as of last week, no charges had been filed regarding the incident. Police did not respond to an inquiry Friday.

New Jersey law prohibits discrimination based on gender identify. It permits people to use public restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

Delco Urging Renters to Collect Remaining $37M in COVID-19 Assistance

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Delaware County still has more than $37 million dollars in COVID-19 rental assistance, and it wants residents in need to collect.

The Delco Emergency Rental Assistance Program launched in March and still has funds to cover past due rent going as far back as April 1 of last year, as well as the largest past due utility bill and up to three months of future eligible housing/utility expenses.

To qualify, household income can’t be more than 80% of the median income in the area (see the income breakdown here), and applicants must show proof of loss of income due to COVID-19.

People can apply online, but the county is also offering three opportunities for people to get in-person help in Upper Darby. In-person assistance will be offered on the fourth floor at 20 S. 69th Street on May 8, 15 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. People can schedule their appointments by calling 484-729-4200 or emailing info@delco-era.com.

NJ Paying $1.3M to Consultant to Advise on Women's Prison Amid Criminal Investigation

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What to Know

  • New Jersey taxpayers are on the hook for about $1.3 million dollars in fees to a criminal justice consultant to help the Department of Corrections amid a criminal investigation
  • The department announced in February that it had hired the Moss Group as a consultant to provide technical support, policy development and other advice at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women
  • In January, guards attacked at least six victims, breaking a bone and pepper-spraying one woman, according to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal

New Jersey taxpayers are on the hook for about $1.3 million dollars in fees to a criminal justice consultant to help the Department of Corrections amid a criminal investigation into what the attorney general said was a “brutal attack” on inmates at the state’s only women’s prison, according to public documents.

The department announced in February that it had hired the Moss Group as a consultant to provide technical support, policy development and other advice at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. The cost of the agreement wasn’t announced at that time, but legislative budget documents show the cost of the two-year deal will tally about $1.3 million.

The agreement specifies that the group will provide quarterly updates, but a spokesperson for the state Corrections Department said the group is still in an “initial review stage,” which includes meeting with inmates in groups, as well as staff and management at the women’s prison.

Oliver Barry, an attorney for a woman imprisoned at Edna Mahan, said Friday neither his client nor he have spoken to anyone from the group, but he would welcome the chance to offer recommendations on improving conditions at the prison.

Lydia Cotz, an attorney in a federal civil rights lawsuit representing a former inmate at Edna Mahan, said the prison failed for years to provide adequate care for her client and that if a consultant was needed to make systemic changes there, then “so be it,” but she added that a federal monitor should also be put in place, along with a consent order.

The prison has steadily been in headlines over the last year.

In January, guards attacked at least six victims, breaking a bone and pepper spraying one woman, according to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, leading to 10 correctional officers being charged with official misconduct, among other charges. A motive hasn’t been given, and attorneys for several of the guards have said their clients will fight the charges.

That led lawmakers to call for the ouster of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks, with the state Senate passing a resolution seeking his dismissal. Hicks has defended his tenure and said he’s added body cameras and hired more women on staff, plus other changes.

The January attack also led Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy to hire an attorney to investigate what happened.

In April, the state announced it was settling lawsuits with inmates at the prison going back to 2014 for nearly $21 million. Hicks also said that a deal with the U.S. Justice Department on a consent decree was being finalized, with a federal monitor likely to be imposed.

The prison was the subject of U.S. Justice Department report last year that concluded inmates’ rights had been violated amid a culture of acceptance of sexual violence toward the women at the prison.

The Moss Group joins other firms hired by the state to provide legal counsel and help with investigations stemming from the January event.

The law firm Lowenstein Sandler was hired in 2018 to provide counsel stemming from the Justice Department’s investigation and has charged more than $600,000 for its work, according to public records. The firm has also billed more than $60,000 for separate work carrying out the investigation the governor commissioned.

Emily Salisbury, the director of the Criminal Justice Center at the University of Utah, said it’s common for states to hire consultants at prisons, and that the Moss Group is well known.

Some lawmakers questioned whether the state needed to hire a consultant. Republican state Sen. Joe Pennacchio, who’s advocated for those wrongly convicted and incarcerated, had other suggestions, including getting the Democrat-led Legislature more actively involved in overseeing the prison and using staff to check what other states have done.

“They hire somebody and give the bill to the taxpayers,” he said. “What’s so hard about picking up the phone, calling another state and saying what do you think?”

Hicks, the top corrections official, said in a statement when the group was hired that the agreement amounted to “significant step forward” to making sure inmates stay safe.

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NJ. Gov. Phil Murphy Not Ruling Out Cash for Vaccines

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is floating the possibility of offering money to people who get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Murphy made the comments Friday during an appearance on Fox’s New York affiliate, saying that, “All options remain on the table. We’re going to do what it takes to get our folks vaccinated.”

The governor said the goal is to inoculate 70% of the state’s adult population by the end of June. As of Friday, 67.4% of New Jersey residents 18 and older had received at least one shot, with 50.4% fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The country is currently struggling with a drop in demand from people who are eligible for the vaccines.

Murphy pointed out that the state is already attempting unconventional methods to get people vaccinated, including its “Shot and a Beer” program.

Paying people to get their shots isn’t unheard of, either. West Virginia, for example, is offering young people a $100 savings bond to get vaccinated.

NJ Announces $40 Million in Federal Aid for Undocumented People

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After being excluded from previous rounds of stimulus checks, some of New Jersey’s undocumented population might soon be eligible to receive up to $1,000 of stimulus benefits.

“As we emerge from this pandemic, we need to make targeted investments in both our small businesses and our workforce to lay the foundation for a stronger and fairer future that works for everyone,” New Jersey’s governor, Phil Murphy said in a statement.

Murphy added that the payments would be done using $40 million from the federal CARES Act, which was passed by Congress last March.

In the proposed program, the people who were previously excluded from the stimulus checks and unemployment benefits in the last three COVID relief packages would get a one-time cash assistance payment.

Here’s the proposed breakdown:

  • Up to $ 1,000 for individuals
  • Up to $ 2,000 for families

These payments, however, would only apply to people who earned less than $55,000 but different from the previous relief bills, ITIN holders would qualify for this aid.

Aside from the payments, Murphy also unveiled $ 235 million in funding for small business and non-profit relief. Here’s the breakdown on how that funding would be distributed:

  • Microbusinesses: $120 million
  • Bars and Restaurants: $20  million
  • Child Care Facilities: $10 million
  • New Businesses and Start-Ups: $25 million
  • Sustain and Serve: $10 million
  • Other Small Businesses and non-profits: $50 million

Murphy added that the individual payments could “begin accepting applications in the coming months,” though it is unclear how the funds would be distributed.

Flyers Offering COVID-19 Vaccines at Next Home Game

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The Philadelphia Flyers are the latest to try innovative methods to encourage people to get coronavirus vaccines.

They’re teaming up with Penn Medicine to offer free Johnson & Johnson shots at the Wells Fargo Center during the team’s final game of the season Monday. As an added bonus, those who get vaccinated at the game will also get two free tickets for a game next season.

Unlike other vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s only requires one dose.

Vaccines will only be offered to fans who have tickets to Monday’s game, as well as Wells Fargo Center Employees. The vaccination site will be outside Section 104 in the Southwest Food Hall on the arena’s Main Concourse. Shots will be administered from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

People who get vaccinated will also receive an “I Took My Shot” t-shirt, hand sanitizer and sticker.

The Flyers have been one of the teams leading the charge to encourage people to get inoculated, launching a “Take Your Shot” campaign in partnership with Penn Medicine and the Black Doctors COVID-19 consortium.

The U.S. is currently struggling with a drop in demand from people who are eligible for the vaccines.