Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots: Super Bowl 52 Highlights

The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions at last! With a backup quarterback at the helm, the gritty team pulled off three consecutive upset victories. Relive all the highlights with this video.

The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions at last

With a backup quarterback at the helm, the gritty team pulled off three consecutive upset victories. Relive all the highlights:

Continue reading “Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots: Super Bowl 52 Highlights”

Man Charged With Homicide After 71-Year-Old Mother Found Dead Inside Home, Police Say

Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook  | Twitter

LOWER SAUCON, Pa. (CBS) — A man is in custody after his 71-year-old mother was found dead inside a home in Lower Saucon on Monday. Authorities say Philip Looby has been charged with criminal homicide.

New Jersey Boosts Hourly Minimum Wage To $15 As Lawmaker Warns It Could Lead To Residents Pumping Own Gas In State

According to Lower Saucon police, officers were called to the 1900 block of West Point Drive around 9:30 a.m. after receiving a call from Bethlehem for a welfare check.

When officers arrived, they found Looby and a dead woman inside. She has been identified as Looby’s mother, Maryanne Looby.

Man With Cerebral Palsy Who Went Missing Last Week During Bitter Cold Found Dead Over Weekend, Police Say

Philip Looby was taken to Northampton County Prison and denied bail. He has a preliminary hearing set for Feb. 4.

New Report Finds Increasing Cancer Risk For Obese Millennials

Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook  | Twitter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Cancers fueled by obesity are on the rise among young adults in the United States and appearing at increasingly younger ages, according to a report released Monday by the American Cancer Society. Obesity has already been linked to increasing rates of diabetes, heart disease and knee replacements, and now, this new research suggests cancer can be added to the list of dangers linked to being overweight.

The new analysis from the American Cancer Society, tracking dozens of state registries, finds an increasing cancer risk for millennials and Generation Xers who are obese.

Delaware County Elementary School Student Diagnosed With Mumps

“This is sadly, as one might expect, as rates of obesity go up and they portend a high risk of health challenges in the years ahead,” said Dr. Clifford Hudis, of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The study shows a surprising jump fox six obesity-related cancers in young adults 25-49 years old: colorectal, uterine, gallbladder, kidney, pancreatic and cancer of the bone marrow.

The risk of gallbladder, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers in millennials was about double the rate that baby boomers faced at the same age.

While death rates for most cancers have been on the decline for decades, doctors are concerned this new trend could reverse that progress.

“The amazing thing that’s happened in the last couple of years is that with the rise in obesity and decline in tobacco use, obesity is slated to overtake tobacco to become the single most common cause of cancer, modifiable cause of cancer,” said Hudis.

121 Million US Adults Have Some Type Of Cardiovascular Disease, Study Finds

Experts point out it’s possible to buck the trend by eating healthier and working out more at an earlier age.

The World Health Organization warns obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally, with millennials on track to being one of the heaviest generations on record.

‘I Can Be Selfish’: Eagles QB Carson Wentz Speaks Out Following Report About Leadership, Character

Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook  | Twitter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is hitting back after a bombshell report about his leadership and character. There’s no hotter topic among fans than Wentz’s recovery from back-to-back season-ending injuries, which saw his backup, Nick Foles, lead the team with great success.

“I just think he got to step his game up,” said Eagles fan Nina Brockenberough.

Brady And Belichick’s Latest Super Bowl Win Makes Foles And Eagles’ Championship All The More Magical

A few weeks ago, Wentz was sharply criticized in a Philly Voice article with anonymous quotes from Eagles staff and teammates. Now, Wentz is responding.

At the end of last week, he sat down with a handful of beat writers and took responsibility for some of that criticism.

“I realize I have my shortcomings. Yes, I can be selfish. I think we all have selfishness inside of us. There’s human elements to that, that I really look at and say, ‘Well, I can get better,’” Wentz told reporters, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

However, he refuted several examples from the article of having a poor attitude.

“If there were guys that had issues, in hindsight, I wish we could have just talked about them,” said Wentz.

Eagles Expected To Pick Up Nick Foles’ $20 Million Option, Report Says

At SportsRadio 94.1 WIP, midday hosts Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie let CBS3 in on the Eagles conversation. Ritchie, a former Eagle, gave CBS3 his take if the Wentz situation could affect the team.

“He has said, ‘Hey, I’m prone to mistakes, I can mess up too and we all make those errors at times.’ Let’s not make them fester, let’s get to the bottom of it and moved past it,” explained Ritchie.

The Eagles have said that Wentz will be their starting quarterback heading into 2019.

source https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2019/02/04/i-can-be-selfish-eagles-qb-carson-wentz-speaks-out-following-report-about-leadership-character/

Puppy Named After Nick Foles And Featured In ‘Puppy Bowl’ Finds Forever Home

Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook  | Twitter

MEDIA, Pa. (CBS) — A local puppy featured in yesterday’s “Puppy Bowl” has found his forever home. Foles, a terrier-Akita mix, is named after last year’s Super Bowl MVP, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.

Foles represented the Delaware Valley in the popular Super Bowl Sunday tradition broadcast on Animal Planet.

He was available for adoption at the Providence Animal Shelter in Media but not for long.

On Monday, Foles was adopted.

source https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2019/02/04/puppy-named-after-nick-foles-and-featured-in-puppy-bowl-finds-forever-home/

New Jersey Boosts Hourly Minimum Wage To $15 As Lawmaker Warns It Could Lead To Residents Pumping Own Gas In State

Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook  | Twitter

ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBS/AP) — New Jersey on Monday became the latest state boost its hourly minimum wage to $15 after Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a measure phasing in the higher rate over five years. However, one state senator warns the new minimum wage law could lead residents to pumping their own gas in the Garden State.

Murphy signed the bill alongside Democratic legislative leaders in Elizabeth after the trio announced a deal on the higher wage last month.

Man With Cerebral Palsy Who Went Missing Last Week During Bitter Cold Found Dead Over Weekend, Police Say

“For far too long, too many of our fellow New Jerseyans have been struggling to survive on wages that have not kept up with the cost of living,” said Murphy. “I am incredibly proud to sign legislation that raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour, ensuring that the most vulnerable among us will have the means to put food on the table, while growing our economy and addressing priorities of the small business community.”

New Jersey joins California, Massachusetts, New York and the District of Columbia in phasing in the higher rate. The $15 wage is a prominent policy goal of left-leaning groups, as well as the fulfillment of a key campaign promise by Murphy.

“Working families deserve financial security. A higher minimum wage will support families, strengthen our economy, and help make New Jersey more affordable,” Murphy said in a tweet announcing his plan to sign the legislation Monday.

Republicans and many businesses, though, testified during hearings that the higher wage will increase costs and hurt commerce.

Republican state Sen. Declan O’Scanlon warns that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will lead people to pump their own gas in the state.

“New Jersey is basically famous for not wanting to pump our own gas. In fact, I’ve previously received phone calls making sure to let me know that ‘Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas’! Well, we better be prepared to start pumping our own gas soon because one of the industries that is bracing for massive losses is our fuel merchants. Local gas station owners testified before us that they cannot sustain employees and keep their businesses open without bringing in self-serve gas,” O’Scanlon said in a statement.

American Airlines Flight Bound For Newark Returns To Miami After Odor Reported In Cockpit

The bill raises the current $8.85 minimum wage to $10 an hour in July, and then increases the rate by $1 in subsequent years until it reaches $15 in 2024, but not for all workers.

Farm workers’ wages will climb to $12.50 over five years, for example. Small businesses with and seasonal employees would see their minimum wage reach $15 an hour in 2026. Tipped workers, who currently have a minimum hourly wage of $2.13, would see it climb to $5.13 an hour by 2024.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

source https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2019/02/04/new-jersey-boosts-hourly-minimum-wage-to-15-as-lawmaker-warns-it-could-lead-to-residents-pumping-own-gas-in-state/

John Dougherty, Councilman Bobby Henon, 6 others indicted in IBEW Local 98

UPDATED: 1 p.m.

___

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — City Councilman Bobby Henon and longtime electricians union IBEW Local 98 official John Dougherty (known as “Johnny Doc”) have been indicted.

The indictment, released Wednesday morning, charges Henon and Dougherty, as well as six other union officials — union President Brian Burrows; union Political Director Marita Crawford; union employees Michael Neill, Niko Rodriguez and Brian Fiocca; and local business owner Anthony Massa — with embezzlement, theft, wire fraud and other public corruption offenses. 

Collectively, the defendants are accused of embezzling $600,481 from Local 98, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In total, federal prosecutors announced 116 charges against the union officials.

According to the indictment, Dougherty used his control as business manager of Local 98 “to repeatedly and persistently steal from Local 98 and put his own self-interests over that of the membership of the union.”

He used Local 98 as his personal bank account, utilizing three Local 98 credit cards in his name to purchase groceries, household goods, and meals, as well as a way to pay contractors who worked on his home and other personal properties, including a tavern pub that he owned. He also used the account to divert union funds to others for personal use.

Prosecutors say Henon accepted a salary from the union for certain services, as did Dougherty. Henon used his position to threaten others, because Dougherty told him to, officials say.

U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain has been recused from the investigation to prevent conflict, said First Assistant Attorney Jennifer Williams.

Williams said Henon and Dougherty were in a position of trust, and they violated that trust. 

The complete, 159-page indictment can be viewed here.

“The indictment alleges that this exchange of contracts for personal gifts was an abuse of the trust placed in Dougherty as a leader of a labor organization and that it was a federal crime,” Williams said.

“This indictment charges that Robert Henon received a Local 98 salary and other benefits from John Dougherty in exchange for Henon advancing Dougherty’s personal, professional and financial agenda,” she continued. “This indictment charges that John Dougherty used Local 98 dollars to pay Philadelphia Councilman Robert Henon so that Henon would do his bidding from his seat on City Council. This indictment does not allege that city councilmen are prohibited from receiving private income, but it does allege that a public official, who accepts that money in exchange for taking actions on behalf of a third-party, breaches the duty of honest, faithful and disinterested service the public official owes to the people he serves.”

Henon accepted the personal benefits from Dougherty, “knowing that the benefits were given in exchange for Henon’s performance of official acts at the direction of” Dougherty, the indictment read.

Henon is also accused of having L&I shut down construction work at locations where non-union labor was happening, as well as “allowing Dougherty to demand concessions by Comcast during the franchise contract negotiations between the city and Comcast,” which resulted in Comcast hiring a contractor Dougherty favored.

If convicted of all charges, the defendants will face decades in prison. The investigation is ongoing.

An arraignment is scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m.

MORE: Second person charged in FBI probe into IBEW Local 98

After the two-and-a-half-year investigation, two people were charged last week in connection with the probe. Prosecutors indicted Dougherty’s chiropractor James Moylan Tuesday, claiming he stole more than $45,000 for a nonprofit he set up, called Neighborhoods for Fair Taxes. The money, prosecutors say, came from IBEW Local 98’s charitable fund. 

In court documents, officials say Moylan wrote a letter to Dougherty and asked for support for his nonprofit. He then received a $50,000 check from the union. They say it was mostly spent on Moylan’s personal and business expenses. 

Moylan has been indicted on 17 counts of wire fraud. He was the second person charged in the probe. On Monday, George Peltz pleaded guilty to tax evasion and making unlawful payments to Local 98 union official homes and businesses tied to Peltz, Moylan, and Dougherty. 

In August 2016, FBI agents raided the homes and businesses of Dougherty, Moylan and Peltz, as well as two offices connected to Henon. Henon worked as an electrician and served as political director for IBEW before running for council in 2011. He was re-elected to a second term in 2015, representing most of Northeast Philadelphia. Dougherty has worked with IBEW Local 98 since 1993. 

RELATED: City Hall abuzz after Henon, Dougherty charges, but no one’s saying much

IBEW Local 98 released a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

“For 25 years John has devoted all his energies to Local 98 and to those working in the trades in Philadelphia. Everyday his focus is on his family and his other family, IBEW Local 98. Every move he makes is done in order to better the lives of the membership of Local 98. And the dramatic increase in wages, health care benefits and the overall standard of living for the membership is a testament to that singular focus. To allege that John in any way attempted to defraud the Union he cares about so deeply is preposterous. He looks forward to his day in court and the opportunity to clear his name.”

Henon also released a statement following the press conference, emphasizing he has “done nothing wrong.”

“I have always reported every penny of my union income to the City, and the State. I have never committed fraud in my life. I have always served my constituents with honesty, integrity and have always put my constituents and the people of Philadelphia first. I will continue to serve, I look forward to clearing my name and I will never waiver in my pursuit to protect and serve the working people who live in and built this city.”

Mayor Jim Kenney said Wednesday the investigation is “disappointing.”

RELATED: Kenney ‘sad’ about Local 98 indictment, says it has nothing to do with him

“The justice system will work its way and there will be a conclusion. … I can’t comment on any more because I haven’t read it, and it has not been released yet, so speculation isn’t appropriate at the moment.”

Asked whether Henon should resign, Kenney said Henon should make that decision based on what’s best for his constituents, noting that if Henon were to resign now, his constituents would be unrepresented for 10 months.

City Council President Darrel Clarke responded to the charges, calling them “grave,” saying they must be taken seriously, and advising faith in the justice system to reveal the truth.

“As president of City Council and a fellow lawmaker, I sincerely hope the allegations of public corruption are not true.

“The law is clear on our obligation as a City if the charges are indeed proven true. Until that time, Majority Leader Henon is entitled to defend himself if he believes the government’s allegations to be erroneous.
 
“The terms of any elected official’s service absent a legally disqualifying offense should be determined by the people they serve. As such, Majority Leader Henon has a duty to proceed in the best interests of the 6th District and the City of Philadelphia.”

___

KYW Newsradio’s Kristen Johanson, Steve Tawa, Pat Loeb and Mike DeNardo contributed to this report.

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Reports of active shooter at UPS facility in Logan Township

UPDATED: 11:15 a.m.

___

LOGAN TOWNSHIP, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed gunfire inside a UPS distribution center in Logan Township, New Jersey.

Police are on site of what is being described as an active shooter scene inside the UPS Mail Innovations facility in the 200 block of Birch Creek Road. Authorities say they responded to a call around 9 a.m. 

A source from inside the facility told KYW Newsradio that the alleged ex-boyfriend of a female employee is holding her and another woman hostage.

The source added that the armed man came through a security guard station around 8:30 a.m., and there was some kind of altercation. During that confrontation, the guard tripped a panic button, alerting day-shift employees of an emergency, which summoned police.

The armed man then ran through the facility and found the ex-girlfriend and another woman. He is currently holding them hostage.

A UPS spokesman confirmed the active shooter situation in a statement: “UPS is working with law enforcement as they respond to an active shooter situation at one of the company’s supply chain processing facilities in Logan Township New Jersey,” said spokesman Matthew O’Connor. “We cannot provide information about the identity of people involved at this time.”

Police have closed several roads in the area as they have surrounded sections of the building.

State and local law enforcement agencies are on the scene, including the New Jersey State Police and SWAT units.

People were evacuated to the Holiday Inn by bus a couple miles down the road. It is unknown at this point whether there are any injuries or fatalities.

The Logan Township School District has placed all schools on lockdown following police reports as a precaution. “Per Logan Police Department directive, Logan Townships Schools are in a modified lockdown,” read a banner on the district’s website. “All staff and students are SAFE!”

An employee at a nearby Home Depot lumber warehouse in the industrial complex said workers are also being kept inside the building.

___

This is a developing story. KYW Newsradio’s David Madden and Steve Tawa are on the scene.

more Philly News (For Your Information)

Ex-Wilmington Trust president gets 6 years prison for fraud, conspiracy

The former president of the only financial institution criminally charged in connection with the federal bank bailout program has been sentenced to six years in prison for fraud and conspiracy.

Former Wilmington Trust president Robert Harra Jr. was sentenced Monday. He and three other bank officials were convicted in May of concealing the bank’s troubled condition from regulators and shareholders following the 2008 financial crisis.

Prosecutors were seeking a sentence of eight years, while Harra’s attorney asked for probation, citing his long history of community service.

The defendants were convicted of misleading regulators and investors about Wilmington Trust’s massive amount of past-due commercial real estate loans before the bank was hastily sold in 2011. The century-old bank imploded despite receiving $330 million from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program.

SUBSCRIBE 👍

Study raises questions about oversight of facilities that house foster youth in Pa.

Foster children who live in residential facilities in Pennsylvania suffered physical and verbal abuse in hundreds of documented cases between 2010 and 2018, according to a new report. The study found that at some facilities, which include group homes and larger institutions, violations continued to occur even after state inspectors recorded earlier instances of abuse.

Report co-author Elissa Glucksman Hyne considers the repeated violations “really alarming” because, she said, they show that children in foster care are “being maltreated by [facility] staff, and it seems nothing is done about it … It’s just business as usual, and nothing seems to happen.”

“No child should ever be removed from their home and then harmed in the places that they are supposed to be placed to be safe,” added Hyne, a senior policy analyst at the New York-based nonprofit, Children’s Rights. “If that happens, then we would hope that something is done about it.”

The inquiry was based on a sample of facilities located mostly in Philadelphia and central Pennsylvania, Hyne said. It included instances of abuse believed to have been committed by staff and other children, with staff accused in over 70 percent of cases.

Children’s Rights released the report with Pennsylvania’s Education Law Center last week, about a month after a separate study showed the state is more likely than the rest of the nation to place foster youth in residential facilities. According to that research, 47 percent of the Pennsylvania’s foster youths aged 14 to 21 live in these facilities, as opposed to with relatives or unrelated caretakers in a family setting. Nationally, 34 percent of foster youth live in residential placements.

In total, last week’s report said, more than 3,700 foster youth in Pennsylvania live in institutional settings, which “range in size from four-bed group homes to over 170-bed institutions.”

Dangers at these facilities, the report found, included physical injury as well as verbal threats of injury. At some facilities, Hyne said, staff punished children by choking them, grabbing them by their hair, and pulling their arms back to the point of pain. The study noted other cases where adults slapped, hit, or punched children.

Limited oversight information

These infractions are allowed to persist, the study found, “because [the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services] fails to adequately license and monitor residential placements in Pennsylvania.”

The department typically inspects facilities that house foster children at least once a year. The report’s authors found that, while inspectors report violations and review facilities’ subsequent correction plans, there’s scant evidence they follow-up to ensure compliance. Repeat violations, they added, further suggest the department does not provide enough oversight.

Spokesman Colin Day said the department is “engaged in a multi-year process” to improve its licensing process and that it plans to meet with the study’s authors.

But, he noted that his agency is “shortening timeframes for … licensing staff to act upon plan[s] of corrections submitted by providers. This also includes assuring timely verification of the plan of corrections.”

Day said the department is also working with the University of Pittsburgh to use predictive analytics “to identify struggling providers before actual harm occurs.”

What the research does and does not show

The findings in last week’s study were based on a sample of licensing compliance reports for nearly half of Pennsylvania’s 541 residential facilities. The reports, which are publicly available on the department’s website, span an eight-year period and number in the thousands, according to Hyne.

In total, the records show children at the sampled institutions were “physically maltreated” 156 times, “verbally maltreated” 43 times, and “exposed to inappropriate sexual contact” 73 times. Inspectors with the state’s Department of Human Services reported the abuse whether it was committed by staff or other children.

The data indicate that staff were responsible for three-quarters of the cases involving physical abuse, and all the cases of verbal abuse. They were about as likely as children to be accused of sexual misconduct.

While the study did not show how Pennsylvania compares to other states, it noted that the number of violations “is likely significantly higher than documented.” It is uncomfortable, the report said, for children to report trauma they experience at the hands of “authority figures who are in control of their living situation.”

Each of the 259 facilities reviewed belong to one of 36 separate legal entities. Within 44 percent of those entities, the study found, more than one violation for physical or sexual maltreatment was documented between 2010 to 2018.

The study acknowledged that it did not randomly select entities for review. Rather, it “focused primarily on facilities that house children from Philadelphia County because it has the largest population of children in foster care. It also “added facilities mentioned … by statewide stakeholders” and located in other counties.

Still, the authors contend that their findings “broadly reflect risks to which many children are exposed statewide as a result of [the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services] patterns and practices.”

Allegheny County, however, stood out as a bright spot in the report. The authors said it has reduced the number of children in congregate care, another term for 24-hour residential placements, by 60 percent between 2012 and 2017. Now, just 5 percent of Allegheny County foster youth live in residential facilities, according to the report.

The county has made such strides in part by “using residential facilities only for children whose needs require such restrictive placements,” said the report’s authors. Instead, the study said, it has placed an increasing number of children with relatives and switched to more community-based services.

“Ideally, that’s what should be happening in every county in the state,” said Hyne of Children’s Rights. “Some children, depending on their stage in the system or their level of need, they may require short placement in congregate care … But there should be a decrease in congregate care because children, at the heart of it, should be raised in families.”

SUBSCRIBE 👍

Obamacare sabotage is in the news again? Seriously?!

If your head swiveled 360 degrees, Exorcist-style, after learning Friday that a federal judge in Texas had ruled Obamacare unconstitutional, I totally get it. You have every right to be confused. The U.S. Supreme Court, six years ago, gave the green light to Obamacare by a vote of 6-3, so what the heck is this going on here? Why is Donald Trump crowing on Twitter that a lower judge’s ruling is “great news for America”?

Before I dispel the confusion, it’s important to understand that the roughly 20 million Americans who benefit from Obamacare will continue to do so, because, for the foreseeable future and quite likely beyond, the previous president’s signature achievement ain’t going anywhere.

Trump may not know much about jurisprudence, or have a clue about how things work, but I do. Prominent conservative legal scholars believe that the sweeping decision by federal judge Reed O’Connor is absolutely bonkers. Jonathan Adler, who’s no fan of Obamacare, says that O’Connor went “down a rabbit hole,” using “questionable legal arguments to support a political agenda. This is not how judges are supposed to act.” He says the “shocking” ruling is a “sad day for the rile of law.” Even the conservative, Obamacare-hating Wall Street Journal editorial page says that the ruling “is likely to be overturned on appeal and may boomerang politically on Republicans.”

And why might it boomerang politically on Republicans? That’s an easy one. This is the party that has tried and failed umpteen times to kill the coverage of 20 million Americans; the party that has refused to accept that Obamacare is the law of the land even after John Roberts’ court upheld it (with a vote from Roberts); the party that has tried and failed umpteen times to craft a health reform alternative; the party that was swept from power in the House because Democrats defended Obamacare on the midterm campaign trail. And now, to top things off, the judge in Texas got the opportunity to assail Obamacare only because a last-ditch Republican lawsuit landed in his lap.

In a nutshell – I promise to keep it simple – here’s what happened:

Republican attorney generals in 20 states decided to sabotage or kill Obamacare by suing it (never mind that the Supreme Court had basically settled the issue). Meanwhile, last year, when the Republican Congress passed its big tax bill (the bill that massively reduced rich people’s taxes), it also took aim at a key Obamacare provision. As you may recall, Obamacare requires Americans to pay a penalty if they forego health coverage; the Republicans, in their tax bill, reduced that penalty to zero. They did not abolish the penalty provision per se; they just neutered it.

Judge O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, got the lawsuit. In his Friday ruling, he basically decreed that because the Republicans had neutered the penalty, it meant that the penalty itself was unconstitutional; and that since the penalty was supposedly unconstitutional, that meant the entire law had to be unconstitutional. But O’Connor’s reasoning is “pretty bananas” (so says conservative legal scholar Adler), because, according to traditional (i.e. conservative) legal doctrine, the courts cannot blow away an entire law when Congress took aim at only one provision.

Cue the conservative Wall Street Journal’s editorial: “Millions of people now rely on Obamacare’s subsidies and rules – which argues against judges repealing the law by fiat.”

Repealing the law by fiat…True that. Conservatives always complain about “judicial overreach,” about liberal judges “legislating from the bench.” Yet here we have a classic example. The broad sweep of this ruling – if allowed to stand – would wipe out everything in the law, from the popular protection of people with preexisting medical conditions, to the popular coverage for young people until age 26, to the expansion of Obamacare via Medicaid – which has become so popular that it’s now a feature in 36 states, including Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, and West Virginia. Those I’ve listed are all red states.

But will this ruling be allowed to stand? Doubtful. Most legal scholars believe that the U.S. Court of Appeals (even the conservative circuit where it goes next) will nix the ruling for its judicial overreach. An appeals decision, either way, won’t happen until next spring. And even if it somehow winds up back in the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision there wouldn’t happen until the spring of 2020. In the meantime, Obamacare remains in effect; in the words of Trump’s health administrator, it’s “still open for business. There will be no impact to enrollees’ current coverage or their coverage in a 2019 plan.”

And in the meantime – here’s where we talk politics again – Democrats will hammer away at this latest manifestation of Republican sabotage. the newly empowered House Democrats will likely intervene in the case as it heads to the appeals court – as well they should. They believe in the policy that covers 20 million people, and they’re rightly confident about the politics. Their defense of Obamacare triggered a net gain of 40 House seats, and a nationwide winning House margin of 9.73 million votes. According to the ’18 exit polls, health care was the top voting issue by a decisive margin; those voters favored Democratic candidates by 75 to 23 percent.

Which is why Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar observed yesterday that the GOP “seems bound and determined to take away people’s health care.” They’d prefer not to re-fight this rhetorical battle, but the high road is wide open. And Republicans, forced again to play defense, will demonstrate yet again that political stupidity is their preexisting condition.

 

SUBSCRIBE 👍

What you need to know about the Affordable Care Act after Texas ruling

The Affordable Care Act faces a new legal challenge after a federal judge in Texas ruled the law unconstitutional on Friday. The decision risks throwing the nation’s health care system into turmoil should it be upheld on appeal. But little will be different in the meantime.

“Nothing changes for now,” says Julie Rovner, chief Washington correspondent of Kaiser Health News.

“If you need to sign up for health insurance you should,” Rovner tells NPR’s Michel Martin. “If you’re in one of the several states where it’s extended where you can sign up through January, you have time to do that too.”

Below are some questions and answers about the ACA.

1. What was the Texas ruling?

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the Affordable Care Act was not constitutional. O’Connor made his decision after 18 Republican state attorneys general and two GOP governors brought their case, Rovner reports. They claimed that the Supreme Court upheld the ACA in 2012 because it included an individual mandate — or a tax penalty for Americans who did not buy health insurance. After Congress repealed the individual mandate in 2017, O’Connor said the rest of the law fell apart.

2. Who might this ruling affect?

The Affordable Care Act runs for more than 1,000 pages and includes many provisions — the exchanges for individuals that are frequently political footballs — and a long list of other measures and protections designed to expand insurance coverage.

NPR’s Alison Kodjak reports that the ACA expanded Medicaid, which has allowed more than 10 million people to get coverage in states that chose to expand the program. The law also protects people with pre-existing conditions and allows people up to age 26 to be covered under their parents’ insurance; requires calorie counts at restaurants and gives protections to lactating mothers. The ACA also secured more money for Native American health care and made significant changes to allow for generic drugs and to provide funding for Medicare.

Rovner says people should act as if the ACA is still in place, but the ruling opens a possibility for “an enormous disruption.”

“It would really plunge the nation’s health care system into chaos,” Rovner says. “The federal government wouldn’t be able to pay for Medicare because all the Medicare payments have been structured because of the Affordable Care Act.”

3. What next?

Judge O’Connor did not rule the law has to be enjoined immediately. Saturday was the last day of open enrollment for the ACA in most states. NPR’s Kodjak reports people can still enroll in health plans in states with extended deadlines. She says even the newest ACA insurance policies will go into effect until more legal action plays out in courts. The federal site for insurance, Healthcare.gov, is running a banner that reads, “Court’s decision does not affect 2019 enrollment coverage.”

NPR’s Kodjak says the state of California has already said it will appeal the ruling. Other states will likely join California in the fight to preserve the law, Kodjak reports. Rovner says the case will probably reach the Supreme Court, though lower courts may reject O’Conner’s ruling first.

4. What are the political stakes in this decision?

The political stakes are great. Voters saw health care as an important issue in November’s midterm elections. Kodjak notes Congress voted multiple times in 2017 to repeal the ACA but did not succeed.

“Lots of Republicans were running ads during the midterms saying they were the ones who were going to protect people’s health care, and specifically protect people with pre-existing conditions,” Kodjak says.

The challenge to the ACA brought by Republican attorneys general is aimed at eliminating protections for pre-existing conditions, Kodjak says.

“So now you have Republicans trying to play both sides, which is going to be difficult,” she says.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SUBSCRIBE 👍

Why the Jersey Shore is worth a look during the holidays

Things seem pretty quiet on the Jersey Shore for the holidays, compared with the big crowds of summer. But all along the Shore, towns, business districts and homeowners pull out all the stops to light up the dark nights of early winter.

From Smithville in Atlantic County to Cape May at the southern tip of the state, displays celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah and other holidays help brighten the longest nights of the year.

It’s a good time to visit if you want to see how the Jersey Shore looks to the locals who are lucky enough to call this home year-round.

Absecon, New Jersey. (Bill Barlow/for WHYY)

Since Cape May transforms into a Victorian village each year, we decided to dedicate an entire gallery to this historic resort town.

Why so many people visit Cape May in December 

The Queen Victoria Bed & Breakfast in Cape May, N.J.(Photo courtesy of Werner Tedesco)

 

SUBSCRIBE 👍

PennEast now faces tough scrutiny from DEP after winning court battle

This story originally appeared on NJ Spotlight.

Now comes the hard part for PennEast.

While the pipeline company won a long-awaited federal court ruling on Friday, allowing it access to private and public lands in New Jersey, it must next meet a long list of permit requirements from other agencies, notably the Department of Environmental Protection, which is expected to provide the sternest test yet over whether the pipeline can be built.

To build its proposed 120-mile natural gas pipeline through New Jersey, the company must satisfy the DEP that it will not violate federal water-quality standards, and that it complies with many other state rules including those on flood hazards, storm water and endangered species.

In the hope of meeting those standards, PennEast must conduct surveys for environmentally sensitive features such as streams and wetlands on the properties of 136 landowners who have previously refused access but are now required by the ruling to allow PennEast officials on their land for surveying purposes.

U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti granted PennEast the right of eminent domain over the properties some eight months after hearing oral arguments over whether it has the right to take properties from landowners, including the state, which have rebuffed its offers of compensation.

Martinotti rejected the landowners’ arguments that a federal certificate approving the $1 billion pipeline was not final, and that the company could not “condemn,” or take possession of, portions of the properties immediately.

Pipeline company entitled to proceed

“This Court finds PennEast is entitled to the condemnation orders … and they are entitled to them on an immediate and expedited basis,” he wrote in a 50-page opinion.

The judge also rejected arguments by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office that the federal Natural Gas Act is silent on whether a private company can take land by eminent domain. In fact, he wrote, the law allows any party that has a certificate of public convenience from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — which issued one to PennEast in January — to acquire rights of way by exercising eminent domain in federal court.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s office, which earlier this year asked FERC to suspend its approval for PennEast, said it was reviewing Martinotti’s ruling, and would have no comment.

If built, the pipeline will carry natural gas from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania to Mercer County, New Jersey. The company says the project will give New Jersey customers better access to low-cost gas from the abundant reserves of the Marcellus Shale. Opponents say the company’s claims of strong demand for the gas are undermined by the fact that states are adopting strong energy goals that do not include fossil fuels like natural gas.

PennEast welcomed the ruling and said its next steps will be to conduct “routine land, environmental and other ground-level surveys” to meet state and federal permit requirements.

A promise to reduce environmental impact

Tony Cox, chairman of the PennEast Board of Managers, said in a statement that the company aims to reduce environmental impact such as tree cutting by running about half of the pipeline along existing rights of way, primarily those already occupied by overhead power lines.

Cox also said the company will allocate “millions of new dollars” for open-space preservation to comply with state law requiring mitigation of preserved lands where the company wants to build the pipeline. In February, the state rejected PennEast’s offers of compensation for several parcels of protected land in Hunterdon County where the pipeline would run.

Private landowners will be compensated for permanent and temporary impacts to their properties, and will retain ownership and use of the lands, including for farming, but will not be allowed to build structures or plant trees directly over the right of way, Cox said.

“We strive to build positive relationships with landowners, the community and agencies and will continue working toward that goal,” said Cox. “With today’s ruling, PennEast can collect and supply scientific data as required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the NJDEP for PennEast’s permits to ensure a thorough and complete application.”

In February, the DEP formally denied PennEast’s latest application for a permit to cross freshwater wetlands, saying the company’s application did not contain all the necessary information.

Will DEP stand in its way?

Martinotti’s ruling is the second recent boost for the pipeline project which has faced strong opposition in many communities, and been assailed as an environmentally damaging and unnecessary project by critics including the New Jersey Rate Counsel, an advocate for utility ratepayers.

In early December, a federal judge in Pennsylvania granted the company its first eminent domain rights in that state, over the property of one landowner who had denied survey access. Other Pennsylvania landowners have granted survey access but continue to fight the condemnation of their lands.

Meanwhile, PennEast’s critics say the company will have its work cut out to convince the DEP that it can build the pipeline without violating the federal Clean Water Act, which the state is responsible for implementing.

“I still think it’s going to be difficult for them to get the permits from New Jersey because they are going through so many environmentally sensitive areas,” said Tim Duggan, an attorney who represents about 40 landowners as well as several nonprofits and local government entities. “It’s going to be hard for them to show that there’s no adverse impact on our water quality.”

Duggan predicted that it will take about a year and a half for PennEast to do its surveys and submit a new application for a water-quality permit, and then for the DEP to evaluate the application. If so, the process would prevent the company beginning pipeline construction in 2019, as it has stated it will.

Company expects to start construction in 2019

PennEast spokeswoman Pat Kornick said Sunday that the company “still anticipates beginning construction in 2019.”

Critics say that preliminary work like tree cutting could still take place in 2019, raising the prospect that some of the rights of way will be cleared before the project gets its final permits from all agencies including FERC.

That would invite comparisons with the proposed Constitution Pipeline which cut trees on a northeastern Pennsylvania farm in 2016 but was then denied a water-quality permit by New York State in a decision that has since been upheld by an appeals court and by FERC. It is now unclear whether that pipeline will ever be built.

In New Jersey, Martinotti’s ruling was not a major surprise but still came as a shock to some landowners.

T.C. Buchanan, who grows fruit, vegetables, hay and Christmas trees on 32 acres in Delaware Township, Hunterdon County, said she had been in tears since hearing from a reporter that opponents had lost the latest battle in their long-running war against PennEast.

If the pipeline is built on the property which her husband’s family has owned since the 1960s, Buchanan said it would mean removing Christmas trees as well as those growing apples and Asian pears, and it would run through her two largest hay fields.

Landowner: ‘I find it very hard to believe…’

“I find it very hard to believe that anybody with a true sense of right and wrong would just allow a corporation that is totally about profit to take and destroy people’s lands that they have bought with their blood, sweat and tears, that they have worked their entire lives for. It blows me away,” said Buchanan, who has lived on the farm for 23 years.

But she expressed confidence that opponents will eventually win the fight, especially if the DEP denies water permits to PennEast.

“I believe we have a state government that cares about the environment, and the people and the drinking water,” she said.

While Martinotti’s ruling is a setback for PennEast’s opponents, the length of time it took to be issued signals that the judiciary is taking seriously its responsibility to consider environmental rights after other branches of government have “abdicated” their responsibilities in that area, argued Maya van Rossum, leader of the environmental group Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

“The judicial branch is an increasingly key player in holding government accountable, so while the outcome was expected, the process behind it sent a powerful message that the judge recognized he had a unique role and duty,” she wrote in an email.

The project also needs permits from the Delaware River Basin Commission, which has yet to begin its review of the PennEast application, and from some federal agencies. DRBC spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment late Friday.

SUBSCRIBE 👍

A fresh, new look at ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Lantern Theater Co.)

Lantern Theater has a Christmas gift, in the form of a finely considered reworking of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The storyteller is the theater artist Anthony Lawton, who joins forces with lighting and scenic designer Thom Weaver and sound designer Christopher Colucci — three powerhouses in local professional theater with individual track records over the years.

Their intimate, smooth production of Dickens’ novella, adapted by Lawton, uses a good deal of the original, venturing out of the story at times for some commentary from Lawton. He cites the retro quality of the phrase “Bah! Humbug!” and asks the members of the audience to replace it in their minds with something more current and meaningful. After Lawton tells of Scrooge dismissing a man who seeks charity for workhouses, he explains what a London workhouse was and why it was a place of despair. At one point, Lawton quotes C.S. Lewis on the subject of fear. (He has also adapted Lewis’ work for the stage.)

It all blends seamlessly with the story, which Lawton amends slightly and smartly in this one-man production. His Ghost of Christmas Present, for instance, takes Scrooge magically onto the London streets early Christmas morning, where they observe the happy rush before the day begins in earnest — people scurrying in the shops and making last-minute food purchases in the markets for Christmas dinner. And in a second we’re out of the crowded streets of London and into the Reading Terminal Market and the stalls along Ninth Street. In Lawton’s excited telling, it makes perfect sense.

He accomplishes this with little more than a lectern as a prop. He pushes it to one part of the bare wooden stage and, overturned, it’s the bed Scrooge sleeps in when he’s visited by his late partner Marley, who comes to introduce Scrooge to the nightmare that will be his transformation. The lighting and sound designs by Weaver and Colucci, respectively, become key as the 90-minute show moves forward with images of ghosts and bells and crowds mentioned in its narrative.

Lawton’s role goes all the way back to Dickens himself, who liked to give public readings of “A Christmas Carol” and, as the Lantern’s Meghan Winch writes in the program notes, even whittled the novella down to a reading he could give in 90 minutes. More recently, Dickens’ great-great-grandson, the British actor Gerald Dickens, has given readings of “A Christmas Carol” in historic places in the United States, including the Philadelphia region.

The Lantern version has several rich moments — two of my favorites are the appearance of Marley in Scrooge’s bed chamber, which Lawton offers up in stirring fashion, and that little Christmas morning tour, during which you can almost smell the roasts in the ovens all over London (and Philadelphia).

Costume designer Kierceton Keller dresses Lawton in a disheveled red morning coat and tattered tan pants, with a fluffy cravat falling down his shirt. His face is white-washed in grease paint and his nose is a clownish red — a makeup effect that seems out of place until the story begins to pump and in the stark lighting, Lawton looks much like we imagine a ghost. It’s a tremendously effective image in a new take on a story that’s inextricable with the holiday and the season.

“A Christmas Carol,” in a version commissioned and produced by Lantern Theater, runs through Jan. 6 in the Black Box Theater at Drexel University’s URBN Center Annex, 3401 Filbert St. 215-829-0395 or lanterntheater.org

SUBSCRIBE 👍