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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Daughter of Retired Philadelphia Fire Chief Announces Run For City Council

Daughter of Retired Philadelphia Fire Chief Announces Run For City Council

(Jenné Ayers announces her candidacy for a Philadelphia City Council at-large seat.  Photo by Steve Tawa)
Jenné Ayers announces her candidacy for a Philadelphia City Council
at-large seat.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A daughter of former Philadelphia fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers wants to become the youngest person ever to serve on Philadelphia City Council, today announcing her candidacy for a Council at-large seat.

Outside the main branch of the Free Library, on Logan Circle, 26-year old Jenné Ayers, whose father retired from the fire department after 40 years of service, admits that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
“You have to really give of yourself and be selfless,” she said today.

For full story go to:

Study: Binge Drinking Wreaks Havoc On Your Immune System

Study: Binge Drinking Wreaks Havoc On Your Immune System

(credit: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Binge drinking could be making you sick – but not in the way you think.
In addition to throwing up or suffering from a massive hangover, new research from Loyola University’s School of Medicine suggests drinking excessive amounts of alcohol “significantly disrupts the immune system.”

The study subjects, who had a median age of 27, were given four or five shots of vodka depending on their weight. At 20 minutes after “peak intoxication,” their immune systems showed increased activity. But two and five hours after maximum intoxication, the opposite proved true – the subjects’ immune systems were less active than they were when they were sober.

For full story go to:

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Philadelphia Charter School To Close

Philadelphia Charter School To Close

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The founder of a Philadelphia charter school says the doors will close for good this week.

In a letter sent to parents and a message on the school’s website, Walter D. Palmer says the Leadership Learning Partners Charter School will close Wednesday, December 31st.

For full story go to:

Friday, December 26, 2014

Celebration Held In Cherry Hill, NJ To Mark First Day Of Kwanzaa

Celebration Held In Cherry Hill, NJ To Mark First Day Of Kwanzaa
CHERRY HILL, NJ (CBS) – Today marked the first day of the African-American cultural holiday of Kwanzaa.

A celebration of Kwanzaa was held at the Garden State Discovery Museum.

“We celebrate Kwanzaa from December 26th until January 1st. It was founded by Maulana Karenga in 1966,” says Karen Abdul Malik, also known as Queen Nor, president of the National Association of Black Storytellers.

For full story go to:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hundreds Enjoy Free Christmas Breakfast In Center City

Hundreds Enjoy Free Christmas Breakfast In Center City

Early morning Christmas breakfast served in Center City. (Credit: Tim Jimenez)
Early morning Christmas breakfast served in Center City.
Five-star service is the goal, says Anita, a volunteer from Oreland.

“Honoring every person who comes through the door and giving them an opportunity, not just to get a meal in an atmosphere where they’re treasured,” she says.

For full story go to:

Christmas Day Services Celebrate The Holiday In Philadelphia

Christmas Day Services Celebrate The Holiday In Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Churches around the world are hosting special Christmas day services, and it’s no different here in Philadelphia where thousands of people are out celebrating the birth of Jesus.

As worshipers pack into the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, many took it as an opportunity to sing Christmas hymns with the choir.

“It’s a great opportunity to come together with fellow believers and to just consider the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ,” said one church attendee.

For full story go to:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Visiting Philadelphia Orchestra Conductor Pens ‘Rittenhouse Carol’

Visiting Philadelphia Orchestra Conductor Pens ‘Rittenhouse Carol’

(Bramwell Tovey plays his "Rittenhouse Carol" in his dressing room at the Kimmel Center.  Credit: Steve Tawa)
Bramwell Tovey plays his “Rittenhouse Carol” in his dressing room
at the Kimmel Center.
At the Kimmel Center, the spirit of the holidays is in the air as the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by conductor
Bramwell Tovey, performsThe Glorious Sound of Christmas.”

It has repeat performances tonight and tomorrow night.

For full story go to:

Local Local Community Group Brings Christmas Cheer To Families In Need

Local Community Group Brings Christmas Cheer To Families In Need
(credit: Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  A Southwest Philadelphia non-profit surprised several needy families with a little Christmas cheer a day early through a program called Operation Holiday Help.

“We got bikes, we got iPads, we got coats.”

Anton Moore is the founder of Unity in the Community. For the fifth year in a row, the non-profit is delivering Christmas to seven families who have had a tough time, nominated for the surprise by their friends.

“Fire victim families and one grandmother who found out she had cancer and had to leave work and is raising three boys on her own.”

For full story go to:

Officer kills armed 18-year-old near Ferguson

Officer kills armed 18-year-old near Ferguson
AP Photo
Police try to control a crowd Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, on the lot of a gas station following a shooting Tuesday in Berkeley, Mo. St. Louis County police say a man who pulled a gun and pointed it at an officer has been killed.
BERKELEY, Mo. (AP) -- The mayor of the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley called for calm Wednesday after a white police officer killed a black 18-year-old who police said pointed a gun at him. The shooting reignited tensions that have lingered since the death of Michael Brown in neighboring Ferguson.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the officer was questioning two men - one later identified as 18-year-old Antonio Martin - late Tuesday about a theft at a Berkeley convenience store when Martin pulled a 9mm handgun on the officer.

The officer stumbled backward but fired three shots, one of which struck Martin, Belmar said. No shots came from Martin's loaded gun, the chief said.

Martin died at the scene, though Belmar declined to specify where the fatal bullet hit Martin.

Berkeley is near Ferguson, Missouri, where white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old, on Aug. 9, sparking weeks of sometimes violent demonstrations. A grand jury's decision to not charge Wilson last month in the shooting has spurred a nationwide movement to protest police brutality.

The 34-year-old, white Berkeley police officer, a six-year veteran of the police force in the 25,000-resident suburb, is on administrative leave pending an investigation, Belmar said. St. Louis County police and the city of Berkeley are investigating, Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins said.

"He will carry the weight of this for the rest of his life, certainly for the rest of his career," Belmar said of the officer whose name was not immediately released. "There are no winners here."

The officer wasn't wearing his body camera, and his police cruiser's dashboard camera was not activated because the car's emergency lights were not on, Belmar said.

Police released surveillance video from the parking lot outside the store. The nearly two-minute clip shows two young men leaving the store as a patrol car rolls up, and the officer gets out and speaks with them. 

About 90 seconds later, the video appears to show one of the men raising his arm, though what he is holding is difficult to see because they were several feet from the camera. Belmar said it was a 9mm handgun - loaded with one round in the chamber and five more in the magazine.

Police were searching for the other man, who fled on foot.

Martin's relatives were not immediately available for comment Wednesday. The address listed for Martin turned out to be a vacant, boarded-up home, and a neighbor told The Associated Press that the family had moved out some time ago. He said he wasn't sure where they moved.

It was the third fatal shooting of a black suspect by a white police officer in the St. Louis area since Brown was killed. Kajieme Powell, 25, was killed on Aug. 19 after approaching St. Louis officers with a knife. Vonderrit Myers, 18, was fatally shot on Oct. 8 after allegedly shooting at a St. Louis officer.

Each shooting has been met by protests, and a crowd quickly gathered late Tuesday in Berkeley. The demonstration involving about 300 people turned violent.

More than 50 police officers, some in riot gear, responded. Video showed some wrestling with protesters. Belmar said officers used pepper spray but not tear gas. Four people were arrested on charges of assaulting officers.

Belmar said three explosive devices, perhaps fireworks, were tossed near gas pumps, and some protesters threw rocks and bricks. One officer hit by a brick was treated for facial cuts, and another was treated for a leg injury sustained as he retreated from an explosive.

"I understand police officers have a job and have an obligation to go home to their families at the end of the night," said 36-year-old Orlando Brown, one of the protesters. "But do you have to treat every situation with lethal force? ... It's not a racial issue, or black or white. It's wrong or right."

Brown said he was pepper-sprayed during the protest and that his friend was among those arrested.

Hoskins said it is unfair for protesters to compare the Berkeley shooting to the Michael Brown case, noting there was no video of the fatal encounter in Ferguson. Ferguson also was criticized for having only three black officers on its 53-member force. Seventeen or 18 of Berkeley's 31 officers are black, as is the police chief and the city's top elected officials, said Hoskins, who is black.

Hoskins' news conference was interrupted by a pointed exchange with Jason Keith Coleman, a black Baptist minister who insisted the shooting was the latest example of deadly aggression by "trigger-happy" police toward blacks.

"Call it what it is - a police officer has killed another black man and this has got to stop," Coleman shouted at the mayor.

"Everybody don't die the same," Hoskins countered. "Some people die because they initiate it, and at this point, our review suggests police did not initiate it."

Belmar said Martin had a criminal record that included three assault charges and others for armed robbery, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon.

Some protesters questioned why the officer couldn't use pepper spray or a stun gun.

"Frankly, that's unreasonable," Belmar said. "When we had somebody pointing a gun at a police officer, there's not a lot of time."

Monday, December 22, 2014

British singer Joe Cocker dies of lung cancer

British singer Joe Cocker dies of lung cancer
AP Photo
FILE - In this July 20, 2002 file photo, British Rock and Blues legend Joe Cocker performs on stage of the Stravinski hall during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland. Cocker, best known for the songs, "You Are So Beautiful," and the 1980s duet "Up Where We Belong," with Jennifer Warnes, died Monday, Dec. 22, 2014 of lung cancer in Colorado. He was 70.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Joe Cocker, the raspy-voiced British singer known for his frenzied cover of "With a Little Help From My Friends," the teary ballad "You Are So Beautiful" and a contorted performing style uncannily parodied by John Belushi on "Saturday Night Live," has died. He was 70.

His London-based agent, Barrie Marshall, said Cocker died Monday of lung cancer in Colorado, where he has lived for the past two decades.

Cocker, an interpreter more than a writer, became a star through his dazzling transformation of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends." Featuring a gospel-styled arrangement and furious call and response between Cocker and the backup singers, the song became a No. 1 hit in England and the highlight of his characteristically manic set at the Woodstock festival in 1969.

In a statement Monday, Paul McCartney remembered hearing Cocker's cover of the song he and John Lennon co-wrote for Ringo Starr and finding it "just mind blowing," a "soul anthem."

"I was forever grateful for him for doing that," McCartney said. "I knew him through the years as a good mate, and I was so sad to hear that he had been ill and really sad to hear today that he had passed away."

Cocker's "Mad Dogs & Englishmen" tour and travelling party of 1970, featuring Leon Russell and numerous top session musicians, produced a film and a recording that went gold. But future success was more sporadic, and Cocker suffered from both drug and financial problems.

He had a top 10 hit in 1975 on "You Are So Beautiful," his voice cracking on the final, emotional note, and won a Grammy Award in 1983 for his "Up Where We Belong" duet with Jennifer Warnes, the theme of the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman."

His cover of Bryan Adams' "When the Night Comes" was featured in the film "An Innocent Man" and became a top 20 single in 1990.

Cocker, who received an Order of the British Empire in 2011 for his contribution to music, released 40 albums and continued to tour after the hits stopped. His other popular covers included "Feelin' Alright," "The Letter" and "Cry Me a River," a song previously recorded by one of Cocker's greatest influences, Ray Charles.

His voice, at times so worn it seemed in danger of shredding, was just one part of his legend. No Cocker fan could forget his intense, twitchy stage presence, his arms flailing, his hips stretching, his face contorting. 

Among those watching were Belushi, whose expert imitation became a feature of his early National Lampoon shows and eventually a part of popular history when he joined Cocker in 1976 for a duet of "Feelin' Alright" on "Saturday Night Live."

Years later, Cocker told The Associated Press' Mary Campbell that he was playing an imaginary piano and air guitar while singing - the elements that contributed to this unique style.

"That was the frustration of not being able to play, really," he said.

Cocker was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and was singing with local bands by the time he was a teenager. His early groups included Vance Arnold and the Avengers and the Grease Band, which backed him on "With A Little Help From My Friends."

Cocker moved to Crawford, Colorado, a town of fewer than 500 people, in the early 1990s. He and his wife, Pam, ran a children's educational foundation - the Cocker Kids Foundation - that raised funds for the town and schools, and ran the Mad Dog Cafe for several years in town, said Tom Wills, publisher of The North Fork Merchant Herald, a local community newspaper.

Wills said Cocker bought about 40 acres of property and built a hillside mansion - which he called Mad Dog Ranch - when he moved to Colorado.

A group of Cocker's friends gathered Monday at community radio station KVNF to play Cocker's songs.

"He had a long battle with cancer. We're trying to do a little tribute for him," said Bob Pennetta, a real estate agent and board member of the Cocker Kids Foundation.

Cocker is survived by his wife, Pam; a brother; a step daughter and two grandchildren. A private memorial is planned. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Cocker Kids' Foundation, P.O. Box 404, Crawford, CO. 81415.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Philadelphia Non-Profit Needs Help Adopting Familes To Assist During Holidays

Philadelphia Non-Profit Needs Help Adopting Familes To Assist During Holidays

ABC Men Founder Jackie Wleh with Bonnie (R) and Tina (L) (credit: Cherri Gregg)
ABC Men Founder Jackie Wleh with Bonnie (R) and Tina (L)
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia non-profit that helps those in need adopted four families to help this Christmas. But they have nearly two dozen additional families on a waiting list.

ABC Men, Inc. is a group that helps seniors, the disabled and children in need. Every year for the past four, they’ve adopted families to assist during the holiday season, but this year, the group has seen a drastic increase in requests.

“We are receiving requests weekly,” said founder Jackie Wleh, “We just don’t know how to help these folks.”

Wleh said their Adopt a Family program uses donations to purchase gifts for families in need, but they need sponsors to donate $50 per person to fulfill family wish lists.

For full story go to:

Detectives: Shane Montgomery’s Keys Found In Schuylkill River

Detectives: Shane Montgomery’s Keys Found In Schuylkill River

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Detectives say the keys of missing student Shane Montgomery were discovered Sunday evening in the Schuylkill River.

The discovery was made after crews were out again on Sunday.
Shane went missing early Thanksgiving morning after going out with friends the night before to celebrate his 21st birthday.

For full story go to:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Annual Archbishop’s Christmas Benefit For Children Marks Its 58th Year In Philadelphia

Annual Archbishop’s Christmas Benefit For Children Marks Its 58th Year In Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some 400 youngsters attended the 58th annual Archbishop’s Christmas benefit for children on Thursday at the Sheraton Hotel in Center City.

There was ice cream, cookies, coloring books and crayons and all kinds of gifts for the youngsters who take part in various programs administered by Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Archbishop Charles Chaput says the event is a joyful time for the youngsters and those who organize it.

For full story go to:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mummers Add a Second Parade, Through Manayunk, Around Mardi Gras

Mummers Add a Second Parade, Through Manayunk, Around Mardi Gras

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If you don’t get enough of the Mummers during the New Year’s Day parade on Broad Street, a Manayunk version of the Mummers’ Parade is about to gain traction.

The Manayunk Development Corporation is guaranteeing the Mummers at least $10,000 for what they hope will become an annual fundraiser: a mile-long strut along Main Street, to be called the “Philadelphia Mummers Mardi Gras in Manayunk Parade.”

At least ten of the 16 string bands have committed to the February 22, 2015 event (which will miss Mardi Gras, February 17th, by a few days).

For full story go to:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Philadelphia Front Page News Breaking News! As forwarded by means of the Philadelphia Tribune State Reps. indicted on corruption charges

Philadelphia Front Page News Breaking News! As forwarded by means of the Philadelphia Tribune State Reps. indicted on corruption charges

State Reps. Ron Waters and Vanessa Lowery Brown were indicted Tuesday by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams on charges of political corruption.

Both surrendered and were taken into custody.

Waters, 64, and Brown, 48, were charged with criminal conspiracy, bribery, conflict of interest and failure to make required disclosures in statement of financial interests.

“When they were before the grand jury Ron Waters and Vanessa Lowery Brown admitted to taking money and acknowledged they knew it was wrong each time they did it,” Williams said.

Both elected officials turned themselves into authorities in Dauphin County.

Waters, a member of the state House of Representatives since 1991 and secretary for the House Democratic Caucus, allegedly accepted payments from confidential informant Tyron B. Ali beginning in October 2010. Altogether Waters allegedly took $8,750 in exchange for his “no” vote on House Bill 934. The grand jurors determined that Waters allegedly set up and attended a meeting with a Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) official. The purpose of which was regarding collections contracts and helping a friend of Ali get a job at PPA.

Brown, a member of the House since 2009, allegedly accepted five payments beginning in Feb. 2011. In total, she allegedly accepted $4,000 in exchange for a “no” vote against state liquor store privatization in addition to other legislative issues.

Williams also explained that the grand jurors carefully examine public criticisms about the investigation.

“In particular the grand jury investigated claims that the original investigation was racist and targeted African Americans,” Williams said. “They examined claims the informant wasn’t credible because of his own criminal case, that the subjects were entrapped and that a comprehensive review of the case found no basis for bringing charges. The grand jury found each of those criticisms empty. Regarding the criticism the investigation employed racial targeting the grand jury found that such a claim was false.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

6 dead, suspect on loose in suburban Philadelphia

6 dead, suspect on loose in suburban Philadelphia 

AP Photo
Police move near the scene of a shooting, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, in Souderton, Pa. Police are surrounding a home in Souderton, outside Philadelphia, where a suspect is believed to have barricaded himself after shootings at multiple homes. Police tell WPVI-TV the man is suspected of killing a five people Monday morning at three different homes.

PENNSBURG, Pa. (AP) -- A man suspected of going to three houses in the Philadelphia suburbs and fatally shooting six people, including his ex-wife and her teenage niece, was at large, and prosecutors said investigators didn't know where he was or how he was getting around.

Police recovered the cellphone and car of Bradley William Stone, who had recently been in court fighting with his ex-wife over custody of their two children. SWAT teams surrounded his Pennsburg home on Monday and pleaded through a bullhorn for him to surrender, but Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said it was unclear if he was there.

"As I stand here right now, we do not know where he is," Ferman said at an evening news briefing.

The shooting rampage started before dawn at the home of Stone's former sister-in-law in Souderton and ended about 90 minutes later at ex-wife Nicole Stone's apartment in nearby Harleysville, Ferman said.

Nicole Stone's sister, Patricia Flick, her sister's husband, Aaron Flick, and the couple's 14-year-old daughter, Nina Flick, were killed in the first wave of violence, discovered just before 8 a.m., Ferman said. 

Their 17-year-old son, Anthony Flick, was pulled from the home with a head wound and was taken in an armored vehicle and then by helicopter to a Philadelphia hospital for treatment.

Nicole Stone's mother, Joanne Hill, and grandmother Patricia Hill were killed next at their home in nearby Lansdale. Investigators were alerted by a hang-up call to emergency dispatchers, Ferman said.

Nicole Stone's neighbors at the Pheasant Run Apartments in Harleysville said they were awoken around 5 a.m. by the sounds of breaking glass and gunshots coming from her apartment. They said they saw Stone fleeing with their two children and alerted authorities.

"She would tell anybody who would listen that he was going to kill her and that she was really afraid for her life," neighbor Evan Weron said.

The two children Stone took from his ex-wife's house were safe, Ferman said. She did not say anything about what weapon or weapons were used.

Stone, who's white, about 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, was likely wearing military fatigues and was known to use a cane or walker, but it's possible he did not need them, Ferman said.

Harleysville, Lansdale and Souderton are within a few miles of each other. Police with armored vehicles and rifles moved to Pennsburg after spending several hours outside the Souderton home where several victims were found. 

Several school districts ordered students and teachers to shelter in place.

Later Monday night, police in neighboring Bucks County swarmed an area outside Doylestown after an attempted carjacking by a man dressed in fatigues and similar in appearance to Stone.

Brad and Nicole Stone married in 2004 and filed for divorce in 2009, court records show. Brad Stone, 35, remarried last year. Nicole Stone, 33, became engaged over the summer, neighbors said.

The former couple sparred over custody of their two children, with Brad Stone filing an emergency petition Dec. 5 and Nicole Stone responding with a counterclaim Dec. 9. The outcome of their dispute was unclear.

Weron, the neighbor, said Bradley Stone is a military veteran. Stone bartended at the American Legion hall in Lansdale, and court records show he recently faced several driving-under-the-influence charges, one of which was handled in veterans' court.

Weron said Nicole Stone would talk frequently about the custody dispute.

"(Nicole) came into the house a few times, a few separate occasions, crying about how it was very upsetting to her," Weron said.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Money Collected By Salvation Army Bell Ringers Helps Others All Year

Money Collected By Salvation Army Bell Ringers Helps Others All Year

(credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images) 
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Salvation Army bell ringers collect spare change during the holidays to help those in need, and that money is a portion of what’s raised to help people all year.

“Throughout the year, we do have various mailings that we send out,” says Major Paul Cain, administrator for the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center in Camden.

He says about half their annual funds are raised in November and December, much of the money coming into those iconic red kettles.

The money, he says, buys new coats for the needy, summer camp for veterans and their children, and helps children of imprisoned mothers visit once a month.

For full story go to:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Philadelphia Police Officers To Hear Message From Mayor Before Hitting The Streets

Philadelphia Police Officers To Hear Message From Mayor Before Hitting The Streets

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — CBS 3 has learned all Philadelphia Police Officers will hear a message from Mayor Michael Nutter before hitting the streets.

The video running approximately eight and one half minutes is being played at every district, citywide, for the next three days, with the Mayor reflecting on recent events in Ferguson and New York City, telling officers what he expects from them.

In the video, the Mayor reassures officers that he know how difficult and dangerous their jobs are. He also commends them for their success in dropping city crime rates and professionally handling recent protests peacefully.

For full story go to:

Democrats, Obama part on $1.1T spending bill

Democrats, Obama part on $1.1T spending bill 

AP Photo
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio holds what may be his last news conference of the 113th Congress, though critical legislation is still pending, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington. With a midnight Thursday deadline to keep the government running, a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill is teetering as many lawmakers find more in the measure to dislike than like. Boehner expressed confidence the measure would go through and he said he was looking forward to what he called "the new American Congress" that convenes in January with a Republican majority in the House and the Senate.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Joined in an unlikely alliance, the Obama White House and House Republicans worked into the night Thursday in a furious attempt to pass a $1.1 trillion governmentwide spending bill over clamorous protests from Democrats who said it would ease bank regulations imposed after the near-economic collapse of 2008.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered a rare public rebuke to President Barack Obama, saying she was "enormously disappointed" he had decided to embrace legislation that she described as an attempt at blackmail by Republicans.

The White House noted its own objections to the bank-related proposal in a written statement. Even so, officials said Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were both calling Democrats in an attempt to secure enough votes for passage of the broader measure, which combined government spending and a new course for selected, highly shaky pension plans.

The outbreak of Democratic bickering left Republicans in the unusual position of bystanders rather than participants with the federal government due to run out of funds at midnight.

Even so, there appeared to be no threat of a shutdown in federal services. Instead, a bill providing a 48-hour extension to existing funding was ready for passage if necessary as the two-year Congress neared an end.

As the nominal midnight deadline neared, Republicans reconvened the House with plans to call for a vote on both the $1.1 trillion measure and the stop-gap bill as well.

Hours earlier, conservatives had sought to torpedo the measure because it would leave Obama's immigration policy unchallenged. Speaker John Boehner patrolled the noisy, crowded House floor looking for enough GOP converts to keep it afloat.

He found them - after the vote to move ahead on the bill went into overtime - in retiring Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan as well as Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana. The vote was 214-212.

Even so, Republican defections required Boehner and supporters of the measure to seek Democratic votes for passage. "Remember this bill was put together in a bicameral, bipartisan way," he said. Officials in both parties have said Pelosi was fully aware of the bill's contents before it was made public and did not signal her opposition.

If there was political drama in the House, there was something approaching tenderness in the Senate, where several lawmakers are ending their careers. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., choked up as he delivered a farewell speech from his desk, and Republicans and Democrats alike rose to applaud him when he finished speaking.

The spending measure was one of a handful on the year-end agenda, with the others ranging from an extension of expiring tax breaks to a bill approving Obama's policy for arming Syrian forces fighting Islamic State forces.

The $1.1 trillion legislation would provide funding for nearly the entire government through the end of the budget year next Sept. 30, and lock in cuts negotiated in recent years between the White House and a tea party-heavy Republican rank and file.

The only exception is the Department of Homeland Security. It is funded only through Feb. 27, when the specter of a shutdown will be absent and Republicans hope to force the president to roll back an immigration policy that promises work visas to an estimated 5 million immigrants living in the country illegally.

When Congress convenes in January, Republicans will have control of the Senate for the first time in eight years and will hold their strongest majority in the House in more than eight decades.

A provision in the big bill relating to financially failing multi-employer pension plans would allow cuts for current retirees, and supporters said it was part of an effort to prevent a slow-motion collapse of a system that provides retirement income to millions.

"The multi-employer pension system is a ticking time bomb," said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who negotiated the agreement privately with Democratic Rep. George Miller of California, who is retiring after 40 years in Congress.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. estimates that the fund that backs multi-employer plans is about $42.4 billion short of the money needed to cover benefits for plans that have failed or will fail.

Miller said the legislation would give retirees the right to vote in advance whether to enter a restructuring that could cut their benefits. He, Kline and others said the alternative to the legislation might be an even deeper reduction in benefits.

More than 10 million people are covered by multi-employer plans, which involve agreements between labor unions and groups of companies, mostly in construction and transportation.

The legislation drew a mixed reaction from unions and the opposition of the AARP, but the White House written statement on the legislation did not mention it as a concern.

The White House did raise objections to a provision that would roll back one of the regulations imposed on the financial industry after the economic near-collapse of 2008, and to a separate element of the bill that would permit wealthy contributors to increase the size of their donations to political parties for national conventions, election recounts or the construction of a headquarters building.

Democrats cited the same issues, but Boehner on Wednesday rejected their request to jettison either or both of the provisions. Republicans noted that 70 members of the Democratic rank and file supported easing the bank regulations on a stand-alone vote in October of last year.

Remarkably, there was relatively little controversy about the spending levels themselves that form the heart of the bill.

Studio head, producer apologize for Jolie, Obama remarks

Studio head, producer apologize for Jolie, Obama remarks
AP Photo
FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2011 file photo, producer Scott Rudin attends The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures awards gala at Cipriani's 42nd Street in New York. Rudin, the high-powered producer at the center of the latest embarrassment stemming from the Sony hacking scandal, has apologized for remarks he made in leaked emails. In the series of private emails obtained by Gawker and Buzzfeed this week, Rudin, corresponding with Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal, called "Unbroken" director Angelina Jolie a "spoiled brat" and made jokes about President Barack Obama's race and presumed taste in movies.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin apologized Thursday for calling Angelina Jolie a "spoiled brat" and making racially offensive jokes about President Obama's presumed taste in movies.

The comments were made in a series of leaked email exchanges between Rudin and Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal, who also apologized Thursday. It was yet another embarrassment in the ongoing Sony hacking scandal, in which highly sensitive material is being leaked almost daily.

"Private emails between friends and colleagues written in haste and without much thought or sensitivity, even when the content of them is meant to be in jest, can result in offense where none was intended," Rudin said in a statement to industry site Deadline after the Obama remarks surfaced.

"I made a series of remarks that were meant only to be funny, but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive - and not funny at all. To anybody I've offended, I'm profoundly and deeply sorry, and I regret and apologize for any injury they might have caused."

In a statement released soon after by Sony, Pascal called her comments "insensitive and inappropriate" and "not an accurate reflection of who I am." She said that although the emails were "stolen," she accepts "full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended."

In a tweet later Thursday, "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes said the comments were "racist," not merely "racially insensitive."

This latest shocker in the Sony scandal erupted Tuesday, when the website Gawker posted email exchanges stolen from the studio's computer systems. The leaks gave the public a rare, unfiltered glimpse into the blunt, often crude way Hollywood does business.

The emails drawing most of the attention this week were primarily between Rudin, producer of the Academy Award-winning "No Country for Old Men," and Pascal, who has held the position since 2006. The two have a decades-old friendship, thanks, in part, to a longstanding deal with the studio, where they've worked jointly on projects like "The Social Network."

When juxtaposed with the saccharine graciousness of Hollywood's awards season, the emails reveal a much darker and, to some, surprising side of the industry.

"She's a camp event and a celebrity and that's all," wrote Rudin of Jolie in one exchange about a potential "Cleopatra" project.

In another, as reported by Buzzfeed, Rudin and Pascal also riffed about what she should talk to President Obama about at an upcoming fundraiser.

"Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?" Pascal asked, referring to Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained."

They continued the email chain joking about which films the President might enjoy, referencing "Lee Daniels' The Butler," "Think Like a Man" and "Ride Along" - all films with primarily African American casts.

"I bet he likes Kevin Hart," wrote Rudin.

In a separate email exchange obtained by Gawker, Sony CEO Michael Lyton also called Hart a "whore" for asking to get compensated for promotional tweets.

"I look at myself as a brand and because of that, I will never allow myself to be (taken) advantage of," Hart responded on Instagram.

Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement that the apologies were not enough, comparing Pascal to disgraced NBA owner Donald Sterling and demanding that she meet with black leaders immediately.

Beyond the scintillating behind-the-scenes peek at the film business, Hollywood is somewhat divided on how to feel to about the unflattering exposure and what it means for Sony. Many are concerned about the ethics of diving into the leaked assets, which have included films, executive salaries, and the Social Security numbers of nearly everyone who has received a paycheck from Sony.

"You can't hold people responsible on how they conduct (emailing) in private or between colleagues, unless they're doing something illegal," comedian Ricky Gervais told the AP.

"It almost seems like it's a story line from a film," said "Foxcatcher" star Steve Carell. "But the truth is stranger than fiction, I guess."

Representatives for Jolie did not immediately respond to the AP's request for comment, nor did the White House communications office.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Camden County Police Offer Reading Mentorship To City’s Littlest Residents

Camden County Police Offer Reading Mentorship To City’s Littlest Residents
(Officer Gabrielle Camacho reads to a kindergarten student at Bonsall Elementary School, in Camden, NJ.  Photo by Mike Dougherty) 
Officer Gabrielle Camacho reads to a kindergarten student at 
Bonsall Elementary School, in Camden, NJ.
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Some police officers in Camden are being paired up with kindergarteners as part of a program to promote the importance of reading.

Today, at Bonsall Elementary School, officer Gabrielle Camacho said she looks forward to her 30 minutes with the students each week.

“(It) gives them a positive idea of what officers are and that we are here to help them — we’re here to help guide them,” she said.

The program is called “Pacer” — Police And Congress [Mayor Dana Redd’s “Congress of Residents and Faith-Based Community Organizations”] Enjoy Reading — and it’s been popular with both the cops and the kids.  So popular, in fact, that Camden schools superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard is thinking about expanding it to more students.

“It promotes a joy of reading, and it allows our students to have mentors,” he said, “so the relationships they build with our local community leaders means a lot to them and it means a lot to our leaders as well.”

He says an early love of reading often translates into a thirst for knowledge that lasts a lifetime.

For full story or more news go to:

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates Skypes With Students at a North Phila. High School

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates Skypes With Students at a North Phila. High School

(Bill Gates speaks with students at a North Philadelphia high school via video link.  Photo by Paul Kurtz)

Bill Gates speaks with students at a North Philadelphia high school via video link.
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Legendary tech entrepreneur Bill Gates held a live nationwide video chat today with a select group of computer science students.  The group included more than 30 students from Carver High School for Engineering and Science, in North Philadelphia.

The Microsoft Corporation founder fielded questions from eight schools around the country, one question from each school.  Carver’s group focused on computer science and gender.

“What is the most effective strategy for high schools to help foster more young women to major in computer science?” asked Dafni Pratt on behalf of her classmates at Carver.

For full story go to:

Philadelphia Students Participate In National ‘Die-in’

Philadelphia Students Participate In National ‘Die-in’

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thousands of medical students across the country took part in a national “die-in” to publicly protest recent grand jury decisions in Staten Island, New York and Ferguson, Missouri.
Around 100 University of Pennsylvania medical students spread out in the middle of Walnut Street wearing their white coats.

“Protecting the citizens of this country is something that I’ve been doing since I got out of the military,” said first-year student Michael Spinnato.

For full story go to:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Project "You’re Worthy”: Musician Bob Conga, Graffiti Artist Lamont Nelson Celebrates at the Yeadon Library by Van Stone

Project "You’re Worthy”: Musician Bob Conga, Graffiti Artist Lamont Nelson Celebrates at the Yeadon Library by Van Stone 

From L to R: Bob Conga, Musician, Yeadon
Resident, Lamont A. Nelson, Designer Graffiti

Musicians, designer graffiti artists, and even social workers are joining libraries in both Yeadon and Philly to provide help where it’s needed.  As the Yeadon library evolves to reflect it is available for neighborhood improvement projects, people like Yeadon resident Bob Conga and Southwest Philly resident Lamont A. Nelson are finding the building is increasingly filled with regulars from the fringes of society looking for projects that support services, safety and access to technology.
And many of those people are about to find unexpected help.  Because the project called "You’re Worthy" is also a regular at the Yeadon library, for reasons of celebration. The independent music artist Bob Conga, who has written the lyrics and produced a single of the song called "You’re Worthy", plans to roam the corridors of the library to seek out and support children and adults who are down on their luck or want education about music history.
Volunteering along with Conga at the Yeadon Library is designer graffiti artist Lamont A. Nelson who says, ”I want to help restore dignity to youth who are frustrated about the way things are today.”  Nelson uses graffiti handwriting to show that there is a social component to art, and  the positive messages that can be shared with parents and students from drawing graffiti at the library.
In addition to following the library program’s academic setting, Conga uses rhythm and movement to teach children qualities such as determination, achievement and self-confidence.  As a trained musician and fashion model, Conga writes most of the songs that children can sing in a classroom and library.
Both men have the same goal in mind and that is to become a friend, a good listener to children, youth and adults who have enjoyed the most recent celebration of the grand opening of the new addition to the Yeadon Public Library, September 13, 2014.
Library Director Richard Ashby expressed his excitement about the new addition and offered details on the many programs being initiated to serve members of the community of all ages. The grand opening of the new addition to the library has attracted the attention of the You’re Worthy project volunteers, such as Bob and Lamont who live in both Yeadon and Southwest Philadelphia.  The two men want to establish outreach worker relationships going on between them and Yeadon residents.
“My story at the library will be the reminder of importance of the role of men who seek to make a positive difference in the lives of young children,” says Conga.
Many people who have been helped by the library, especially the Yeadon Library, will soon want to return, volunteering to help popular activities held at the library every day, afternoon or on a particular night.
The You’re Worthy project at the library can be to many like a last stand against despair,” says Nelson. Good urban and suburban space has become so tight these days because of bad economic situations.  When people are occupying library space, tight as it may become, the worthy usage increases its value and no one feels that they will be pushed away.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Protesters Organize ‘Die-In’ After Eagles Game In South Philly

Protesters Organize ‘Die-In’ After Eagles Game In South Philly
(Credit: Matt Rivers)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)Protesters were in the streets outside of Lincoln Financial Field after the Eagles game Sunday to protest grand jury decisions to not prosecute two white police officers who killed two unarmed black men.

Dozens of police officers lined the streets of Broad and Pattison as protesters took part in the die-in demonstration.

For full story go to:

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