Technology helps police guide Autistic boy home

– Two police officers in Camden County are receiving praise for helping a young boy with Autism find his way home. The boy was spotted wandering Walt Whitman Park. He couldn’t communicate to the officers where he lived and that’s when the officers used their detective skills to figure it out.

He’s just 5, he’s autistic and, the other day, Daniel Lugo woke up early and wandered away from his home in Camden. He walked out the front door, down the street and kept going. His parents were still sleeping. Someone saw him and called the police.

“My partner was approached by an area resident with the kid telling him, ‘Hey I got this kid. I don’t know him from my area. He’s running around,’” said Officer Vidal Rivera.

Patrolman Rivera and his partner approached the boy, but he couldn’t tell them anything. They knocked on a few doors, but no one knew the boy.

“He happen to have an iPad in his hand, but it was dead. So, we said let’s give this thing some juice. Maybe figure it out, maybe there was a picture that would show another person,” Patrolman Rivera said.

No luck with that, but they tried something else. The tablet was connected to WiFi, so they started searching for signal strength walking up and down the streets with the device.

“We got one bar, so we thought were closer. Then two bars – we’re here, we’re close. Then we got that third bar and we said it has to be within this immediate area,” Patrolman Rivera explained.

Sure enough, they found Daniel’s home and brought him inside.

“He doesn’t communicate with people, he doesn’t talk. I honestly want to thank them for actually helping my brother get home safe,” said Alyiha Colon, Daniel’s sister.

“It’s extremely commendable. They were creative, they used resources, they were determined, they were not gonna give up,” said Captain Gabriel Camacho with the Camden County Police.

It ended well. Daniel’s parents say Daniel unlocked two locks to get out while everyone was sleeping. In this situation, it was a good thing the boy had the tablet with him.
 

Made in America Festival set to open Saturday

– On the eve of the 7th year of Made in America things are lit up, barricades have been put up and sound checks are bringing a different kind of life to the parkway.

The two-day music festival starts at one tomorrow afternoon and Sunday.  Gates open at noon. Sarah Wilson is excited.

“I’m looking forward to it honestly,” she said.  She lives in Fairmount, the neighborhood with an up close and personal experience with the festival.

In years past some neighbors have complained about the crowds, noise and parking restrictions to name a few concerns.  Sarah isn’t one of them.

“You have plenty of events right down there on the parkway between races and other concerts so I don’t think this is any different,” she said.  New this year though the city says it’s trying to comfort neighbors who are concerned.

Officials have set up a hotline for any questions or complaints surrounding the event and an email that they say will be monitored to address community-related incidents.  The hotline is 917-732-7501 and will be made available for any questions, concerns, or complaints. The hotline will be staffed from 8 AM – 8 PM beginning Monday, August 27th to Friday, August 31st. During the Festival, the hotline will be staffed during Festival hours on Saturday, September 1st and Sunday, September 2nd. During off hours, messages will be collected, reviewed and processed during business hours. Info@madeinamerica.com will also be monitored to address community-related incidents.

 “They’re definitely not going to be able to solve the problem within every single call,” said Nicholas Jordan. He also lives in Fairmount and says it’s a great idea but he’s not convinced the hotline will be that effective.

“They’re going to be getting blown up so much. I don’t think they’re really going to be able to pick up on it and make something happen right away,” he said.  Philadelphia Police have also made a change that affects safety for those attending the event. 

“We had some issues with dark areas of the venue that we all pointed out after last year that we improved that this year. We actually set that lighting up and looked at it in the dark. We lit up the dark areas where we had problems,” said Deputy Commissioner Dennis Wilson.
 

More than a dozen forced out of homes in N. Philly

– More than a dozen people were forced out of two North Philadelphia homes Friday, homes they’ve lived in for weeks and say they fixed up.

The problem is the Philadelphia Housing Authority owns those homes. Officials were on hand Friday to clear everyone out.

On the North Philadelphia street, a woman wept. Others gathered their belongings, while some just watched a crew from the Philadelphia Housing Authority cut plywood and board up the two homes on Sharswood Street.

“We fixed up the house. We painted it. We put money into it, we turned on the electricity, we did everything. We made it nice and stuff. Just livable for us,” said activist Brandon Johnson.

According to city land records, the houses are owned by the PHA – the city’s largest landlord – housing low income residents.

The group of about 15, who say they were part of the ICE immigration protest at City Hall, says it found 2320 and 2322 Sharswood empty two weeks ago, so they moved in and started repairs. 

They say photos taken show what it looked like when they got there and what it is now.

“Now there’s a full bathroom. There’s a full floor, a living room,” said activist Trenae Jones.
“But, you’re out?” asked FOX 29’s Jeff Cole.
“It’s an actual living space. We weren’t squatters,” Jones replied.

But, the PHA thought they were.

Group leaders say they received a notice to vacate from the PHA on Wednesday. Friday morning, they were made to leave.

A truck was filled with some of what PHA found and driven off, while belongings were scattered in a lot across the street.

Security at PHA headquarters say staff went home at 1 p.m. Friday for the holiday and there would be no comment.

The activists say they’re simply trying to make things better. 

“This place was found a couple of weeks ago. People started moving in and fixing up the place since we’ve been here. The goal has been to have a positive impact,” said activist Tina Mascitti.
 

Crossing guard shortage issue for Philly schools

– Imagine children walking to school and back without any crossing guards. Parents tell FOX 29 that is the case in some sections of Philadelphia.

Crossing guards were back at their posts this week at intersections along Oregon Avenue in South Philly as schools opened, but not at all the intersections around the schools.

“That’s dangerous. They definitely need to have someone there to watch over our children at the intersections around here,” said parent Renae Johnson.

“There should be more security for the kids. They should not be walking alone. There should be somebody watching them the whole time, no matter how old they are,” stated another parent Anna Davis.

FOX 29 viewers say the usual guards at 9th and Johnston, 7th and Johnston near the Mastery Charter School, as well as 9th and Bigler were nowhere to be found this week. The city says there’s a shortage of guards.

“That’s not safe because there’s crazy drivers out there and they do not pay attention. Half the time, they’re on the phone,” Davis said.

Philadelphia police confirm that some corners aren’t being covered by crossing guards because of the guard shortage. City council recently authorized funding for 1,037 guards city wide. Right now, that number stands at about 900.

“School just started but they should have been working on that over the summertime and they should have been out here before school came into session,” said Johnson.

“Put it out there, advertisements all over, that crossing guards are needed everywhere,” said Davis.

Police are actively hiring guards to get up to the maximum, but with background checks and training, that takes time. In the meantime, when officers are available, they are manning those intersections where there are no guards available.

“I want my babies safe. I want both of them safe. I have two children who go down here. One goes to the elementary and the other to the senior school,” explained Johnson. 
 

Ocasio-Cortez stumps for fellow progressive Harris in Delaware’s U.S. Senate race

Kerri Evelyn Harris, the progressive Democrat challenging three-term incumbent Tom Carper in Delaware’s U.S. Senate primary Thursday, hopes to catch lightning in a bottle and topple a politician with 13 straight electoral wins — the most in state history.

So to help boost her chances, Harris was joined on the campaign trail Friday by a fledgling New York City politician who this year has already ousted an incumbent.

Her stumping partner was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who became an overnight U.S. political sensation on June 26 when she trounced three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary race to represent parts of Queens and the Bronx.

Harris helped her fellow progressive in that race, so the New Yorker returned the favor with visits to the University of Delaware and Kingswood Community Center in Wilmington.

“Kerri was there. She had my back, and I’m here to have hers because that’s how the progressive movement really works,” Ocasio-Cortez told the crowd of about 300 students and older residents at UD who showered the pair with applause.

Both women support a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for all and reforming the criminal justice and immigration systems. While the New Yorker favors free public universities, Harris supports free pre-K schooling.

Progressives must unite and draw more followers to make the government serve people’s true needs, Ocasio-Cortez said.

“When we build coalitions, when we break down barriers and show the importance of not only championing our own values but championing the values of our neighbors, we can create an unstoppable force in our politics,” she said. “We can transform not just the Democratic Party but the United States of America, and that’s what we’re here to do.”

Harris moved to Delaware when she served in the U.S. Air Force at the Dover base as a loadmaster and decided to stay.  An openly-gay, biracial woman with two young children, Harris does community organizing and has worked a variety of jobs, including auto mechanic. She contends the she has the pulse of working men and women who must sacrifice to support their families.

Harris, who has portrayed the centrist Carper as a politician who favors corporate interests over the general public, urged her listeners to do their research.

“Look at voting records. Did it serve you and your family and your communities the way they were supposed to,’’ she exhorted. “Vote your conscience, not what other people are telling you to do. Change can come, but only if you choose it.”

Harris and Ocasio-Cortez have attracted voters such as UD graduate student Ethan Scott Barnett.

“It’s an exciting moment in politics, and there’s a change in ideologies and an explosion in politics,’’ he said before Friday’s town hall. Harris and Ocasio-Cortez “are pushing on both sides of the ballot, and I think Delaware has an opportunity to be part of this expansion in political thought.”

In an interview earlier this week, Carper said he doesn’t engage in negative campaigns and always runs for office as if he’s 20 points behind, even as he tends to business in Washington. Results from regular polls that his campaign has conducted are encouraging, he said. And he alluded to working with Ocasio-Cortez should she win her overwhelmingly Democratic district.

“I’m told she’s a very impressive young woman,’’ said Carper, who has also been Delaware’s treasurer, governor and congressman. “Hopefully I’ll get to meet her somewhere down the line.”

The primary vote election is on Thursday. The Carper-Harris winner faces the winner of a Republican primary contest between Rob Arlett and Gene Truono.

No NAFTA deal: Canada-U.S. talks to resume next week

Updated at 4:39 p.m. ET

After days of intense negotiations, the U.S. and Canada failed to agree on a deal by a Friday deadline to update the North American Free Trade Agreement.

But U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that President Trump notified Congress of his intent to sign a trade agreement with Mexico “and Canada, if it is willing – 90 days from now.”

Lighthizer said the talks with Canada were “constructive, and we made progress. Our officials are continuing to work toward agreement.” U.S. trade officials will meet with their Canadian counterparts next Wednesday, he said.

Trump said he intends to enter into an agreement “in a timely manner, to meet the high standards for free, fair, and reciprocal trade,” in a formal letter to Congress. Trump said the proposed deal would help American farmers through improved market access, create “a more level playing field” for American workers, and include tough labor and environmental rules.

In a news conference, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland confirmed that the talks toward an agreement with all three countries would continue.

“We know that a win-win-win agreement is within reach and that is what we are working toward,” she said. “We’ve made good progress, but there’s still work to be done.”

Canada rejoined NAFTA talks on Tuesday, a day after the U.S. and Mexico reached a deal, tweaking the free trade agreement. Trump said he had a new name for that pact: the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement.

The White House had said a deal with Canada had to be reached by Friday, when it would send the Mexico agreement to Congress for a 90-day review required by law.

The new agreement would take over for NAFTA, the landmark pact reached in 1994. That deal was struck among three countries — Canada, the U.S. and Mexico — and removed many barriers to trade and investment among them.

Originally proposed by President Ronald Reagan, NAFTA was approved by Congress after lengthy negotiations and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Since the agreement took effect on Jan. 1, 1994, trade among the three countries has skyrocketed, and industries such as autos and trucks have flourished under elaborate supply chains that crisscross national borders tariff-free.

NPR’s Jim Zarroli contributed to this story.

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

Street trees at center of Frankford storm damage

– Heavy rain Thursday made a mess of things in Philadelphia’s Frankford section. As is often the case, street trees were at the center of the damage. They provide beauty and shade when the sun is shining, but when wind and rain arrive, they start falling like dominoes.

As tree removal crews delicately cleared debris from the top of his 1994 Volvo, Gary Simmons could only sigh.

“They don’t make them like that no more,” Simmons exclaimed.

It was shortly after 7 Friday morning, in the midst of monsoon rains, when Gary and his neighbors on the 4700 block of East Wingohocking heard the telltale sound everyone in these tree-lined neighborhood fears.

“It was like a cracking, that’s all it was,” said neighbor Lydia Pimentel.
“You look out the window, what do you see?” asked FOX 29’s Bruce Gordon.
“The tree is down!” Pimentel exclaimed.

“About ten seconds later, when I hung up with 911, it fell off. This one fell down and sparks flew all over the place,” another neighbor, Angelica Rondon said.

A massive street tree next door to Simmons’ place toppled over and took with it power lines, a utility pole and a huge limb from another tree that crashed down on Simmons’ car.

Simmons said he’s been complaining about the tree for several years and he contacted the city’s 311 hotline for help in mid-June.    

“They were going to come out and assess the problem, maybe trim it back or cut it down, depending on what the problem really was,” explained Simmons.
“And that was in June?” asked Gordon.
“That was around June,” answered Simmons.
“And nobody ever came out?” asked Gordon.
“Nobody ever came out,” Simmons replied.

The city sent crews out Friday morning, only because the downed trees were blocking the street. PECO crews had to cut power to several homes for several hours while the mess was cleaned up.

As for Gary Simmons’ Volvo? Just another casualty of the overgrown and under maintained trees all over the city.

And, that June telephone call for help? 

“You just do the best you can. You make the right reports to the right offices and hope they do what they’re supposed to do. And, you leave it in their hands,” Simmons said.

It’s not clear what kind of help the city would have, or could have, provided.

As has been reported by FOX 29, street trees – though planted by the city, perhaps years before the homeowner moved in – are, indeed, the homeowner’s responsibility.

Most residents say they can’t afford to maintain the trees, which, in a lot of cases, grow far too large for the spot in which they were planted.
 

Nonbelievers win suit over Pennsylvania House prayer policy

A federal judge has halted the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ policy banning people who don’t believe in God from giving the invocations made at the start of each day’s legislative floor session.

U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher Conner on Wednesday sided with atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and humanists who challenged the policy that has limited the opening prayers to those who believe in God or a divine or higher power.

Conner said the restrictions on who may serve as guest chaplain violate the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on making laws that establish a religion.

The judge said Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai, whose office manages the guest chaplains, has denied the people and groups who challenged the policy the ability to give an invocation “due solely to the nontheistic nature of their beliefs.”

“In light of this nation’s vastly diverse religious tapestry, there is no justification to sanction government’s establishment of a category of favored religions — like monotheistic or theistic faiths — through legislative prayer,” Conner wrote .

He said it was “the content of the prayers, rather than their theistic or nontheistic nature, that matters.”

Turzai and the other defendants had argued the Establishment Clause was not violated because they allowed people of different faiths to give the invocation, so no one religion was being favored.

A spokesman for the House Republican caucus said the decision will be appealed.

The head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which helped represent the plaintiffs, said the case was about government treating all citizens alike, no matter their religious beliefs or lack of belief.

“Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives failed in that task, and we’re glad the court has set them straight,” said Americans United chief executive Rachel Laser.

The lawsuit said 575 of the 678 House sessions over eight years started with an invocation. Non-lawmakers delivered it 265 times: 238 were Christian clergy, 23 were rabbis, three were in the Muslim tradition and one was not affiliated with a religion and gave a monotheistic prayer.

In recent years, there have been two that were not Christian or Jewish — a Sikh in 2017 and a Native American invocation by a Christian House member in 2015, Conner said.

The plaintiffs said they did not plan to disparage any faith and instead wanted to give an uplifting message, as one of them has done before the start of a Pennsylvania Senate session.

The state House maintained a permanent chaplain to give the opening invocation from 1865 until 1994. Guest chaplains were involved after that, and in 2004 they or incumbent state representatives would open the session. About a decade ago, the House began to invite guest chaplains or have the prayer made by lawmakers.

Then-Speaker Sam Smith, a Republican, denied a request in 2014 by a member of the Dillsburg Area Free Thinkers to give the invocation, and House rules were subsequently amended to dictate that all guest chaplains must be “a member of a regularly established church or religious organization” or a sitting member of the House. The plaintiffs sued in August 2016.

The lawsuit also challenged coercion by House staff to get people to stand during the opening invocation. That policy has since been changed to make standing optional. Conner said the former policy was not constitutional but it passes muster under the changes.

Labor Day weekend marks end of shore season

– Labor Day weekend is here and the inevitable wrap up of the summer Jersey shore season is upon the region. 

In a brief summary of the 2018 Jersey shore season, shops along the Ocean City Boardwalk were in consensus, admitting the season has been average to fairly slow. The reason? Many blame the rainy, damp and cool start to summer. Many say that hurt business.

One business owner admitted this has been the worst season he has seen in 40 years. Others say business was down roughly 10 to 20 percent.

According to FOX 29 Weather Authority, eight out of 13 weekends saw some precipitation.

 

Crossing the aisle: In the end it was the Dems who loved him most, McCain’s final poll numbers show

NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller sits down for his weekly conversation with Gallup’s Frank Newport to talk about trends in U.S. opinion.

The nation has been mourning the loss of Sen. John McCain this week, leading up to funeral services this weekend at Washington’s National Cathedral and his burial at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was a member of the Class of 1958.

What do we know about what the average American thought about McCain? His overall favorable rating varied pretty widely depending on where he was in his political career, but at the end, he had two very important distinctions as far as public opinion was concerned: A) He got majority favorable rating from Republicans, Independents and Democrats (a rare feat for a politician in today’s polarized world) and B) He got a more favorable rating from Democrats than from Republicans. Overall, he had a much more favorable rating among all Americans than President Trump, but Trump’s image is more positive among Republicans.

We are fast approaching Labor Day weekend. That makes it a good time to check in on Americans’ views of labor unions these days. Although few Americans are members of unions, six in 10 still approve of labor unions, not down that much from when Gallup first asked about unions back in 1936, one of the first questions Gallup ever asked:

There are two competing narratives about worker satisfaction these days. One is that workers should be upbeat and positive given the low unemployment rate and strong economy. The other is that workers should be downbeat because A) they see artificial intelligence on the horizon and realize they will be out of a job in the future, and B) their wages are not improving or keeping up with inflation.

The data show that we don’t see any signs of the concerns. On a trend basis, workers are more satisfied than they have been, and their satisfaction with their pay and their fear of being laid off are trending more positive rather than more negative.

Listen to the audio above to hear the full conversation.

Deadline passes for N.J. couple to turn over cash meant for homeless Philly man

The Burlington, New Jersey, couple who raised thousands for a homeless man living in Philadelphia has apparently missed a court-ordered deadline to turn over the remaining donations.

Superior Court Judge Paula T. Dow imposed the 24-hour deadline during a Thursday afternoon hearing that was scheduled after Johnny Bobbitt Jr. filed a civil suit against Katelyn McClure and Mark D’Amico.

He claims they have mismanaged a large part of the $400,000 raised through the viral GoFundMe campaign they launched to thank him after he bought gas for McClure with his last $20 when her car ran out of fuel in Philadelphia.

The order was handed down shortly after 3 p.m. on Thursday, according to Jacqueline Promislo, one of Bobbitt’s attorneys.

Dow ordered the couple to transfer the money into an escrow account controlled by Bobbitt’s pro bono lawyers at Cozen O’Connor PC. The funds can’t be used until Dow determines who will manage them.

Ernest Badway, the couple’s lawyer, declined to comment Friday.

Bobbitt helped McClure after she became stranded on I-95 in Philadelphia. McClure and D’Amico then started the fundraising page for Bobbitt that prompted more than 10,000 people to donate.

The couple later bought Bobbitt a camper with some of the money and parked it on land McClure’s family owns in New Jersey. But Bobbitt is now back on the streets in Philadelphia after they told him in June that he had to leave the property.

McClure and D’Amico have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying they wanted to control the cash because they feared Bobbitt would squander it on drugs.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Clive Davis recalls Franklin’s perfectionism

Record giant Clive Davis remembered Aretha Franklin as a woman with a thirst for knowledge, as a “true Renaissance woman” — and one with a streak of perfectionism.

Davis, who produced Franklin’s music for decades, including such later hits as “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” and “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” said once Franklin committed to a project, she’d go into “Aretha mode,” privately rehearsing and preparing so intensely that it was rare for her to need more than a few takes in the studio.

Said Davis: “Aretha’s voice will be influencing others, literally, for centuries to come.”

Davis recalled the time Franklin surprised him when he was getting a lifetime achievement award in New York by showing up onstage in a tutu.

“There was the Queen of Soul, accompanied by members of the City Center Ballet Company, she doing well-rehearsed pirouettes and dancing with most impressive agility and dignity. It was wonderful.”

Coast Guard rescues stranded grandfather, granddaughter

The U.S. Coast Guard made a multigenerational rescue in Cape May County Thursday evening.

Officials say the duo, a 79-year-old grandfather with his 7-year-old granddaughter, ran aground in shallow water in Grassy Sound off North Wildwood.

A commercial salvage company attempted to rescues the two but were foiled by shallow water. That’s when the company radioed the Coast Guard.

Air Station Atlantic City launched a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter, which hoisted the pair and brought them back to base uninjured.

“It’s always a great feeling to help people in need,” said Lt. Spencer Grinnell, the pilot of the rescue helicopter. “This case was a great example of boaters being prepared and wearing their life jackets on the water, and it was also a great example of other boaters noticing people in distress and reporting it to the Coast Guard so we could assist.”

Miss America Makeover

Guests: Heather French Henry, Jessica Bennett, Amy Kuperinsky, Crystal Lee

Fifty-one young women are in Atlantic City competing to be Miss America 2018. But the competition will look a little different this year– most notably, no bikinis. Gretchen Carlson, the new board chair of the Miss America organization ended the swimsuit competition, which angered a number of state organizations, and even led to a number of board resignations. Controversy and infighting still swirls around this year’s competition, particularly with Carlson connecting the swimsuit decision to the #metoo movement and women’s empowerment. This hour we take a look at all the turmoil and if Miss America can stay culturally relevant in these times. Our guests are HEATHER FRENCH HENRY, a Miss America board member and Miss America 2000, JESSICA BENNETT, gender editor of The New York Times, AMY KUPERINSKY, features writer for the New Jersey Star Ledger, and CRYSTAL LEE, Miss California and 1st Runner Up to Miss American 2014.

Staff is suspected of stealing $40,000 worth of rare creatures from the Philadelphia Insectarium

PHOTOS: Aretha Franklin’s soul celebrated at funeral

Flowers adorn Aretha Franklin’s casket at the start of her star-studded funeral at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit on Friday. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

Aretha Franklin’s funeral service remembers and celebrates the “Queen of Soul.” Beloved by millions around the world, Franklin — who died of cancer on Aug. 16 — also leaves behind a six-decade career of advocacy, becoming a symbol and transformative leader in both the women’s rights and the civil rights movements.

Here is a visual recollection of the funeral of one of America’s most celebrated artists. This collection will updated throughout the day.

Well-wishers left handwritten notes on boards outside the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History earlier this week during the public viewing for Aretha Franklin in Detroit.
(Paul Sancya/AP)
The casket carrying the late singer Aretha Franklin arrives at the Greater Grace Temple for her funeral service in Detroit. (Mike Segar/Reuters)
The Rev. Al Sharpton took a shot at President Trump during the funeral: “When word went out that Ms. Franklin passed, Trump said, ‘She used to work for me,’ ” he said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “No, she used to perform for you. She worked for us.” (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)
American gospel singers The Clark Sisters perform their hit “Is my Living in Vain?” at Aretha Franklin’s funeral. (Mike Segar/REUTERS)
Pop singer Ariana Grande sings the soul icon’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Guests arrive at the funeral on Friday, the culmination of a weeklong tribute to the singer whose voice and soul touched millions. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
More than 100 pink Cadillacs are parked outside the church to honor Franklin, who in “Freeway of Love” sang: “We goin’ ridin’ on the freeway of love in my pink Cadillac.” (Leah Millis/REUTERS)
It wasn’t just friends, family and the famous who turned out for the funeral. Fans also gathered in hopes of getting in to honor the singer. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)
A flower arrangement sent by the family of late singer James Brown sits in the lobby at the Greater Grace Temple on Thursday ahead of the funeral. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images)
Fans of soul music icon Aretha Franklin line up outside Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple for the singer’s homegoing celebration. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Former boxer Tommy Hearns (right) and friends head to the church for the funeral service. He was among many well-known attendees. (Mike Segar/Reuters)
Motown artist Martha Reeves, lead singer of the 1960s group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, arrives for the service. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images)
Aretha Franklin fans line up outside Greater Grace Temple at 2:30 a.m., hoping to be one of the thousand members of the general public allowed in to the singer’s funeral. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
People gathered throughout the night outside of the Greater Grace Temple ahead of the funeral for the “Queen of Soul.” (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images)
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

What they're saying about the Eagles: Predictions for the final 53-man roster are in

Congratulations to all of Eagles nation for making it through yet another preseason. It’s never an easy task to go from the excitement of football returning to the “Are we there yet?” mentality of the fourth preseason game, but we are through to the other side. Christian Hackenberg will never pollute your television screen again.

A lot of uncertainty remains down at the NovaCare complex, even as plans for the Week One opener against the Falcons begin to take shape. Doug Pederson will allegedly decide on his starter for the first game sometime today, but the outside world will be kept in the dark until the last possible moment. Carson Wentz’s readiness is the week’s big story without a doubt, but with Alshon Jeffery likely to miss time and other contributors sitting out large chunks of the preseason, it could be a tough start for the Birds.

It’s still full steam ahead for Howie Roseman and Co., as they attempt to finalize a roster suitable for a Super Bowl defense. The Eagles have a target on their backs this season, and they have to be prepared to receive every team’s best shot.

So farewell to the preseason, and hello to meaningful football.

53-man roster projection with analysis

Sheil Kapadia | The Athletic

We’ll start with the sort of thing football writers around the country are doing right now, putting their thinking caps on in an effort to predict the shape of the final rosters. Checking in first is The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia, whose instincts tell him the Eagles will go heavy at defensive line and wide receiver.

Jeffery will miss at least the first two weeks of the season, according to an ESPN report. That will leave a gameday rotation of Wallace, Hollins, Agholor and Gibson. The question is whether the Eagles will keep a sixth receiver. I like what I’ve seen from Carter this summer. He’s a shifty slot receiver who plays with a competitive edge and can make contested catches. Plus, he looks like he can contribute on special teams. I don’t know if Carter will stick around once Jeffery gets healthy, but I think he makes the initial 53-man roster. [theathletic.com]

Not the worst guess in the world, if you’re asking me. Sheil also believes Josh Adams will be the fourth running back for Philadelphia, a guess that has picked up steam in recent weeks based on the way the Eagles have divided up responsibility.

Life on the bubble

Tim McManus | ESPN

Speaking of Carter, his drive to make the Eagles extends a bit past the usual dose of self-interest. Having lost his brother to a tragic heart condition, Carter vowed to make an NFL roster way back in 2013 while his younger brother Kaylan was on his deathbed.

Sure makes it hard to root against the kid.

In the summer of 2013, his younger brother, Kaylan, went into cardiac arrest during a weightlifting session and fell into a coma. Kaylan, 17, was entering his senior season with the Enoch Eagles in Modesto, California. He was a standout running back and defensive back and aspired to play ball both in college and the NFL. But he had an undetected disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can make it more difficult for the heart to pump blood. 

 He remained in a coma for two months before he died. On his deathbed, DeAndre made a promise to his little brother and best friend that he would make it in the NFL in his honor. 

 “It was both of our dreams to play in the NFL and have successful careers,” he said. “I felt like I had a duty to do everything that he wanted to do that he never got an opportunity to.” 

It’s why Carter keeps getting off the mat. He’s lost track of how many times he’s been cut since joining the league as a 5-foot-8 undrafted free agent out of Sacramento State in 2015. Five? Six? 

Six is the answer. First by the Baltimore Ravens, then the Oakland Raiders, and twice by the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. In late July, he was signed by the Eagles. The move seemed simply to be a matter of adding camp depth, but Carter has been making noise, and after a four-catch, 73-yard performance against the Cleveland Browns in the third preseason game, buzz has picked up about him possibly making the 53-man roster. [ESPN.com]

What does Aaron Rodgers’ contract mean for Carson Wentz?

Reuben Frank | NBCSports Philadelphia

While most people are stressing patience as it pertains to the health of Wentz, there are some reasons for the Eagles to feel a little pressure to get Wentz back into fighting shape. One of those is a long-term issue: Wentz is going to get major paid at some point, and that will put stress up and down the roster, forcing Roseman into some difficult decisions moving forward.

And with Rodgers landing what is reportedly the biggest deal in NFL history, it’s not hard to see a future in which Wentz receives an all-time level deal.

Elite quarterbacks don’t come along very often, and Wentz was having an MVP season when he got hurt. Even missing the last 2½ games of the season, he set a franchise record with 33 touchdowns and became only the fifth QB in NFL history with 33 or more TDs and seven or fewer INTs in a season. 

Not coincidentally, Rodgers and Ryan are among the other four, along with Tom Brady and Brett Favre. And as guys like Cousins, Ryan and Rodgers sign deals worth close to or in excess of $30 million per year, it just drives the market up. And just makes Wentz richer and richer. 

So $30 million per year is a good starting point for Wentz, but his actual average salary will probably be higher. Probably somewhere between where Ryan and Rodgers currently are. 

This is why the Eagles must continue drafting well. They simply won’t have the cap space to sign a ton of expensive free agents once the Wentz deal is done. [nbcsports.com]

Brent Celek says goodbye to Philadelphia

There are few athletes in recent memory that personify a “Philadelphia guy” better than Brent Celek. Beloved in the locker room and the community, asked to shift roles as his career wound down, Celek always showed up ready to work and ready to lead.

And after an 11-year career in midnight green, Celek only saw one way to end things, according to a letter he penned for the Eagles’ website: as a champion.

I can clearly remember the day I was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. I was in the basement of my parents’ house. So many friends and family members over, and lots and lots of food. I didn’t eat much. Not sure if I was going to get drafted, I waited, feeling panicked. I mean, I wasn’t even invited to the combine. Then the phone rang: It was a 215 area code. As I answered, the person on the other end of the line said he
was a representative of the Philadelphia Eagles and that he was going to hand the phone over to Coach Andy Reid. Listening to Coach Reid say they were selecting me with the 162nd pick was life-changing. I vowed to him, and to the organization, that from that day forward they were going to get all of me. Nothing less. 

 Eleven years later I was part of a team that won the first Super Bowl in Philadelphia history. It has been an amazing journey – a journey that is now coming to an end. It’s a big decision, but it’s not a tough one: Though I know I’m still capable of playing football at a high level, and though I had offers to continue my NFL career, my heart told me that this was the time. The bottom line was this: When I thought long and hard about the prospect of putting on another uniform, it just seemed wrong. In the end, I couldn’t do it. My career began, and ended, with the Philadelphia Eagles – and man, did we go out in style. [philadelphiaeagles.com]

Did Josh Adams do enough to earn a roster spot?

Jeff McLane | Philly.com

Shifting back to present day Eagles, Adams has what is probably the strongest case for a roster spot behind the core three guys. With Donnel Pumphrey perpetually hurt, Wendell Smallwood representing a known and uninspiring quantity, and Matt Jones looking miserable during most of his preseason reps, it wasn’t going to take much.

Did he offer enough to convince the coaches? That’s up for debate.

Adams didn’t show much as a receiver. He finished with two catches for 2 yards. He had one pass sail through his hands in the flat when he took his eyes off the ball. But, overall, he was never given much of an opportunity to show his capabilities in the passing game and on special teams. 

 “I really wanted to make a bigger impact on special teams,” Adams said. “Felt like I could have done better in that area.” 

If he has a strength, it’s his vision and patience. He isn’t afraid to wait for his blocking to develop before making his move. The highest compliment would be to say that he runs like the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell. 

Adams isn’t in Bell’s class. But the Eagles aren’t the only NFL team to see promise in the 21-year old. He received the highest roster bonus among the league’s undrafted rookies. 

 The 6-foot-2 Adams will need to alter his running style. He runs upright and that makes him an easier target. But even when there’s contact, he keeps his legs churning and doesn’t fumble – at least he didn’t during the preseason. [philly.com]

What carries over from the preseason?

Dave Spadaro | Eagles.com

The answer to that rhetorical is usually, “Not a whole lot!” but there are certainly trends to follow and players to keep an eye on. I think a lot of people came out of preseason bullish on Dallas Goedert’s chances to impact the team this season, and rightfully so with how well he fit into an Ertz-like role.

For my money, though, the most important thing we saw in the preseason was a stout defense. And with uncertainty at QB to start the year, their performance will likely loom largest in determining their early season record.

Jim Schwartz’s defense has pieces. There is a lot of speed here, there’s some depth, and you can see how much more advanced the players who have been in the scheme for a couple of seasons have become. Defensive end Steven Means stated his case, emphatically, with three quarterback sacks against the Jets, so the question is can the Eagles keep both Means and Sweat, giving them six defensive ends on the 53-man roster? Pass rushers and cornerbacks. The Eagles have a lot of both, rare treasures in the NFL. 

The immediate question is replacing linebacker Nigel Bradham in the opener. Bradham, of course, is suspended for off-the-field actions from July 2016. His absence creates a void in the defense against a strong Atlanta offense. [philadelphiaeagles.com]

Did the Eagles tip their hand on who’s starting next week?

Zack Rosenblatt | NJ.com

There were plenty of people — yours truly included — who read into Nate Sudfeld’s absence Thursday night as an indication the Eagles would be starting Nick Foles in Week One. Why throw your backup into harm’s way if you know he might be one big hit away from playing in a meaningful game next week?

Doug Pederson quickly put that theory to bed after the game.

The logic: If the Eagles felt the need to keep Sudfeld out for the preseason finale rather than provide him valuable game reps, it would stand to reason they were keeping the young quarterback fresh and ready to be the No. 2 quarterback against the Falcons. That, implying that Wentz would remain inactive and Foles would start. 

Pederson quickly put out that fire in his postgame press conference at Lincoln Financial Field after the Jets game. “Not at all,” he said. 

“Not at all.” “I’ve seen a lot of Nate (Sudfeld) already,” Pederson said. “He’s played a ton this preseason. He’s played a ton of football. And really, I needed to get a fair assessment of” training camp arms Joe Callahan and Christian Hackenberg. 

He’s not lying — Sudfeld had played 86 snaps in three games while attempting 74 passes. He was sacked nine times, too. [NJ.com]

The proof will be in the pudding. Six days stand between the Eagles and the season opener, and the mystery lingers. Hold on to your butts.


Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleNeubeck

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports

Jersey Shore retailers hoping for a big Labor Day weekend after a rainy summer

The rainy summer has put a damper on sales for the Jersey Shore giving beach towns even more reasons to build up their off-season attractions.

“The summer of 2018 has mixed reviews,” said Michele Gillian, the president of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce. “One thing is the weather has been very dramatic.”

This summer has brought some extraordinary downpours to Ocean City and the rest of the shore, including one that dropped five inches of rain in about an hour, flooding streets in several areas of the resort.

But according to Gillian, a worse blow came from forecasts of extensive rain that never appeared, particularly when those forecasts were heavily played up in the Philadelphia news media market, with numerous stories on television and elsewhere suggesting a long week of heavy rain.

“That led the news on every station. You name it. All the media. It truly was fake news for us,” she said.

Those reports discouraged many visitors at the end of July and the beginning of August, typically the busiest time for the beachfront resort. Making it all the worse, she said, Boardwalk merchants were looking out at a sunny beach as those days unfolded, with far fewer visitors than usual.

“I feel bad for all of the small businesses, especially,” Gillian said, adding that most of the businesses in Ocean City were family owned. “They don’t get to go back and make that money up, that’s lost revenue at the end of the year will not help with the bottom line.”

According to Gillian, and almost everyone else at the shore, the weather makes or breaks a season. At times, rain in Philadelphia and its nearby suburbs kept people from heading to the beaches, while at the shore there were sunny skies.

Then there were the brief storms that rolled through on several evenings just about when most people were considering heading to the boardwalk for a night on the rides or dinner. The rain didn’t last long, Gillian said, but for many, many visitors, it was enough to change plans from pizza and a roller coaster to an evening at the rental watching a movie.

“It’s been a challenge,” Gillian said.

While the weather is supposed to improve over Labor Day weekend, the forecast has enough rain in it to be more trouble for merchants.  And with schools and colleges starting earlier, the traditional summer finale has not been as big a deal in recent years, especially with Philadelphia schools getting back in session before September.

On the Boardwalk, Becky Juzwiak at Johnson’s Popcorn said the store had a great summer, but she couldn’t compare it to previous years until all the numbers were in. She said July seemed a little better than August, with good crowds on the seaside walk most days.

Some hotels and motels saw some vacancies when rain was forecast, and some visitors cut their shore time short of a full week.

“None of this is a crisis. It’s an alright season, it’s just not a season where we’re seeing growth,” said Gillian.

Doug Bergen, a spokesman for the city of Ocean City, said seasonal and weekly beach tags seem like they held steady compared to other years, with daily beach tag sales down.

“As with everything else in Ocean City, weather makes all the difference,” he said. Parking revenue from meters and the city-owned lots near the boardwalk is expected to be a little better than last year. Last year, the city brought in a little over $4 million in beach fees, according to the city’s adopted budget for 2018, which also showed $3 million in revenue from parking meters. More detail on this year’s revenue is expected in September when city staff has time to go over the final numbers.

OCNJ open for business year-round

Labor Day on Monday will not mark the end of shore fun. Businesses in Ocean City have worked hard to make sure there’s plenty to do through the city’s New Years Eve celebration. Known as First Night, the alcohol-free event includes music and entertainment at venues throughout town, with a Jan. 1 dip in the ocean the next day for the numb or brave.

The event has become a major draw for the town, while Thanksgiving has also grown in recent years, with many second homeowners coming down with their families for the kickoff of the holiday season at the shore.

“We really have challenged ourselves to make sure that from now until Christmas there are special events every weekend,” Gillian said. “It really helps with the bottom line for businesses.”

Weekend events pick up immediately after Labor Day, Bergen said, with the Street Rod Weekend Sept. 7 and 8. Ocean City Pops concerts featuring former members of the “Jersey Boys” cast overlap that weekend, with shows Sept. 8 and 9.

The Airport Festival follows Saturday, Sept. 15, with a nighttime parachute pyrotechnic show that night starting at 8 and an aerobatic airshow on Sunday.

“From there, it’s still non-stop through First Night,” Bergen said.