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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

City and Church Leaders Note Significance of Pope’s Independence Hall Stop

City and Church Leaders Note Significance of Pope’s Independence Hall Stop
Mayor Michael Nutter is flanked by World Meeting of Families' executive director Donna Farrell and president Bob Ciaruffoli as the pope's expected visit to Independence Mall is discussed.  Photo by Steve Tawa
Mayor Michael Nutter is flanked by World Meeting of Families’
executive director Donna Farrell and president Bob Ciaruffoli as the
pope’s expected visit to Independence Mall is discussed.
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When Pope Francis visits Philadelphia in September, he will be making a stop at Independence Mall to speak about subjects near and dear to him.

With Independence Hall as a backdrop, the pontiff is expected to reach out to the anticipated 30,000-50,000 spectators to talk about immigration issues.

“This is a classic illustration of his pastoral priorities,” says Donna Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families.  “He will be coming here to the birthplace of America, the country that has welcomed immigrants forever.”

For full story go to:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pope Francis Surprises Delegation Of Philadelphia’s Leaders With Personal Welcome

Pope Francis Surprises Delegation Of Philadelphia’s Leaders With Personal Welcome
ROME, ITALY (CBS) — At the Vatican, a delegation of Philadelphia leaders was greeted by Pope Francis himself.

Hands outstretched, smiles and even a few tears came from the Philadelphia delegation as Pope Francis greeted them on Wednesday.

Independence Blue Cross CEO Dan Hilferty was there for what he called an “emotional experience.”

“He is so charismatic. He goes out among the people, including our delegation, so it was a very special moment for my wife, for me and for my family.”

For full story go to:               

Police: Toddler Struck By Vehicle In West Philadelphia

Police: Toddler Struck By Vehicle In West Philadelphia

(credit: Chopper 3)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police say a toddler was rushed to the
hospital after he was struck by a vehicle in West Philadelphia
Wednesday night.

Authorities say the accident happened around 8:48 p.m. on the
4100 block of Cambridge Street.

For full story go to:

Dozens Line Up To Get Taste Of Pizza Named Best In America

Dozens Line Up To Get Taste Of Pizza Named Best In America

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Long before the doors opened, the line spiraled around the building full of pizza lovers anxious to taste the pie named the best pizza in America.

Forget New York and Chicago: Philly is officially home to the best pizza in America.
Bon Appétit, the ultimate food magazine, has named Fishtown’s Pizzeria Beddia the country’s best pizza shop.

For full story go to:

As South Carolina honors victims, Alabama lowers its flags

As South Carolina honors victims, Alabama lowers its flags 

AP Photo
South Carolina Highway Patrol honor guards stand over Sen. Clementa Pinckney’s body as members of the public file past in the Statehouse, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver the eulogy at Pinckney's funeral Friday morning at the College of Charleston.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- State senator and pastor Clementa Pinckney was carried Wednesday into the Statehouse where he served the people for nearly 20 years, becoming the first African-American since Reconstruction to rest in honor in the South Carolina Rotunda. Hours later, his congregation returned to the scene of a massacre, keeping up his work of saving souls.

To show their faith and restore their sanctuary, about 150 people packed into the basement of Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Church where Pinckney and eight parishioners were shot exactly one week before.

"We decided to come together rather than pull apart," interim pastor Norvel Goff told the multiracial gathering of people who sat in neat rows of folding chairs Wednesday evening.

"It's our choice. It's our choice not to raise hell and tear up the city or tear up the streets because something tragic happened," Goff said.

Among those attending the session were several family members of shooting victim Myra Thompson.

"It is a powerful testimony that they are able to come," Goff said of Thompson's relatives, who were applauded by others in the audience.

The killings appear to be creating waves of soul-searching that are reverberating far beyond the historic black church and the state Capitol where Pinckney's widow and two young daughters met his horse-drawn carriage, evoking memories of black and white images of other slain civil rights figures five decades earlier.

In state after state, the Confederate symbols embraced by the shooting suspect have suddenly come under official disrepute. Gov. Nikki Haley started the groundswell Monday by calling on South Carolina lawmakers to debate taking down the Confederate battle flag flying in front of the Statehouse. But Alabama's governor was able to act much more swiftly, issuing an executive order that brought down four secessionist flags on Wednesday.

In Montgomery, where the Confederacy was formed 154 years ago and where Jefferson Davis was elected president, Gov. Robert Bentley, a conservative Republican, compared the banner to the universally shunned symbols of Nazi Germany, a stunning reversal in a region where the flag has played a huge cultural role.

The iconic Confederate battle flag in particular "is offensive to some people because unfortunately, it's like the swastika; some people have adopted that as part of their hate-filled groups," Bentley explained.

In South Carolina, making any changes to "heritage" symbols requires a two-thirds supermajority of both houses of the state legislature. Prodded by Haley, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly for a debate later this summer, but few wanted to risk ugly words during a week of funerals.

As mourners filed by Pinckney's open casket, a makeshift drape over a huge second-floor window obscured the secessionist battle flag outside, only emphasizing how quickly this symbol of Southern pride has fallen into official disrepute.

The 41-year-old Pinckney, named lead pastor at "Mother Emanuel" in 2010, spent a lot of time in the lobby where, at one point in the day, five state senators and two former governors greeted mourners. Pinckney arrived at the Statehouse as a page, and in 1997 became the youngest African-American member elected to the House at that time. He became a senator in 2001.

Those honoring him also had to file past a statue of John C. Calhoun, the vice president who argued in the 1820s and 1830s that slavery was a "positive good," and that states should be able to pick the federal laws they want to follow.

Other conservative Republicans weighed in around the country Wednesday.

Both of Mississippi's U.S. senators and a U.S. representative endorsed removing the Confederate symbol from the flag the state has flown since Reconstruction, even though the state's voters decided to keep it back in 2001. Sen. Thad Cochran declared his intentions a day after Attorney General Jim Hood, the only Democrat holding statewide office in Mississippi, said "You've got to ask yourself the question: What would Jesus do in this circumstance?"

Other lawmakers and activists took aim at symbols including a bust of Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest in Tennessee's Senate, a sculpture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the Kentucky Rotunda, the vanity license plates used by thousands of motorists and Minnesota's Lake Calhoun.

Many said change is imperative after shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old white man, was charged with nine counts of murder.

Roof was captured after a motorist spotted his Confederate license plate. Images on a website created in his name months before the attacks show him posing with the Confederate flag and burning and desecrating the U.S. flag. He also poses at Confederate museums, former slave plantations and slave graves. In an essay on the same website, the writer wishes every white person had a chance to brutalize blacks before the Civil War.

Roof has been appointed federal public defenders, and Justice Department officials are in agreement that the massacre satisfies the definition of a hate crime, which means federal charges are likely, according to a federal law enforcement official. The official spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, while declining to discuss details, said Wednesday that hate crimes are "the original domestic terrorism."

Businesses also have acted swiftly. Wal-Mart, e-Bay, Amazon, Target and Sears are among those saying Confederate merchandise will be gone from their stores and online sites. At least three major flag makers said they will no longer manufacture the rebel battle flag.

And Warner Bros. announced it will no longer license toy cars and models of the "General Lee," car with the Confederate flag on its roof that starred in the 1980s TV show "Dukes of Hazzard."

For many, especially in the South, this is all happening too fast.

Ben Jones, the actor who played Cooter on the TV series, said these symbols are under attack by a "wave of political correctness" that is vilifying Southern culture. He said Confederate items will never be removed from the Cooter's Place stores he owns in Tennessee and Virginia.

A growing number of the Confederate symbols that appear all over the South have been defaced by graffiti.
The words "Black Lives Matter" were spray-painted Wednesday on a century-old Confederate memorial in St. Louis, not far from Ferguson, Missouri, where the phrase took root after a white officer killed an unarmed black man last August. In Charleston, the words "racist" and "slavery" were painted Tuesday on a monument to Calhoun, just a block from where the Emanuel AME church stands on Calhoun Street.

Historian Robert Chase says the vandalism reflects anger over deep-seated racism.

"The way Dylann Roof saw this was about recapturing the space of Charleston as a white space and the removal of African-Americans from that space," said Chase, a historian at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Rick Wade, a senior adviser on President Barack Obama's campaigns in South Carolina, wants more than flags to come down from statehouses.

"I want the flag to come down in our hearts. There has to be a deeper conversation," Wade said. "We as individuals have to look in the mirror and make sure you don't have a flag of hate waving in your heart."

The few lawmakers openly defending the flag include Republican Jonathon Hill, a freshman South Carolina representative who said it should remain above the monument to fallen Confederate soldiers, and that addressing it now disrespects the victims' families.

"Dylann Roof wanted a race war, and I think this has a potential to start one in the sense that it's a very divisive issue," Hill said. "I think it could very well get ugly."

But as Alana Simmons made funeral arrangements for her grandfather, Emanuel AME pastor Daniel Simmons Sr., she said the relatives are glad to see South Carolina and other states taking action. "We appreciate the efforts of the state to remove the flag," she said.

Other viewings and funerals for the nine victims are scheduled through Monday. Obama plans to memorialize the victims Friday morning during Pinckney's funeral at the College of Charleston.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Philadelphia Election Official Fined For Ethics Violation

Philadelphia Election Official Fined For Ethics Violation

(Philadelphia city commissioner Anthony Clark, in 2012 file photo by KYW's Steve Tawa)
Philadelphia city commissioner Anthony Clark, in 2012.
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City commissioner Anthony Clark has been fined $4,000 by the city’s Board of Ethics for getting involved in discussions about a pay raise for his brother, who has a job in his office.

Commissioner Clark — one of three officials who oversee Philadelphia elections — has reached a settlement agreement with the Board of Ethics in a matter involving his brother, Alex, who works in Anthony Clark’s office as a trades helper.

For full story go to:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Jersey Man Charged With Supporting Islamic State

New Jersey Man Charged With Supporting Islamic State
(File photo.  Credit: Thinkstock)

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man has been charged with
conspiring with three other men to provide material support to the
Islamic State terror group Samuel Rahamin Topaz, of Fort Lee, was
charged on Thursday with conspiring to travel overseas to join the
terror group.

Prosecutors say the 21-year-old was arrested at his home and made an initial court appearance in front of a federal judge in Newark. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney.

For full story go to:

Reverend Killed In Charleston Church Shooting Has Local Ties

Reverend Killed In Charleston Church Shooting Has Local Ties

(credit: CBS 3)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –“God just please don’t let it be Clementa.”

Patricia Hamm fights back tears after learning her cousin Reverend
Clementa Pinckney was killed at the Emmanuel AME Church shooting in
Charleston, South Carolina.

She says her cousin died doing something he lived for.

“He was in church… Having prayer…” said Hamm.

For full story go to:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Power WVSR1360.1 and Power88 The FM Radio Station to Drop World Premier Antoine Hepkins’ Video “Distant Harmony” by Van Stone (267) 293-9201

Power WVSR1360.1 and Power88 The FM Radio Station to Drop World Premier Antoine
Hepkins’ Video “Distant Harmony” by Van Stone (267) 293-9201 

Above: Antoine Hepkins, Independent Music Artist,
"Distant Harmony" Music Video (2015)

Philadelphia, PA / Dominican Republic Music News- Award-winning radio stations on the internet and the AM/FM radio frequency Power WVSR1360.1 AM and Power88 The FM has made music writer and song artist Antoine Hepkins’ original music video “Distant Harmony” (2015) available for viewing and streaming., the sister radio station from Van Stone’s Power  has premiered worldwide independent music artist Antoine Hepkins record Distant Harmony on video for its national and international viewers who are in the Dominican Republic, Latin America, and North America, USA.
Antoine Hepkins’ song title Distant Harmony is a Funk and Folk music mix for music lovers who are dedicated to world diversity and meeting of minds.
The music video soundtracks, and song lyric, one of the world’s fastest growing music category of social network, urban, and rural music sound, present a new concept soundtrack single, “Distant Harmony” featuring the original themes composed by Antoine Hepkins and music team for Hepkins style for mainstream radio station rotation play.

With over 190,000 music listeners and viewers, is sure to boost Antoine Helpkins’ song Distant Harmony to a top popular music choice with the music cd and online community.
And speaking of a music community, Antoine Hepkins has entered his song Distant Harmony together with the Sound Cloud community at to help push his music further on a journey to build his song and become the newest leading artist followed by registered users with Sound Cloud.

Antoine Hepkins has sat in the music studio writing and singing trying to get to his new fans, deciding to work his way together with the Sound Cloud community, build his own leading global music platform that helps artists and creators share their music & audio with all music lovers.

He invites fans to follow his song Distant Harmony all the way to going on the internet, creating their very own Sound Cloud account, and then click the heart under "Distant Harmony" because this is a like and counts as a vote for his song competition in the Sound Cloud song challenge.

At Sound Cloud Hepkins has access to stats as soon as he uploads his music track. And he can see how many times his track has been played and how many of his fans have liked it.
Hepkins has been ranked among Philadelphia Front Page News newspapers, another Van Stone media leader, and top independent music developers. And Hepkins is nationally renowned for his style of music playing live band sounds.

Born in London, U.K. to Jamaican parents Antoine Hepkins traveled with his family to Staten Island, NY at age seven.

Hepkins taught himself to play the string instrument, the guitar as he listened to the radio and played along with the radio sound.

He plays all of the three main types of modern acoustic guitar: the classical guitar, (nylon-string guitar), the steel-string acoustic guitar, and the archtop guitar.

Antoine Hepkins plays the electric guitar, including the semi –acoustic  guitar and electric bass guitar which is used extensively in his jazz, blues, bluegrass, country, R&B, flamenco, folk, jota, mariachi, metal, punk, reggae, rock, soul, and many forms of pop performance style.

In his mid-teens, Hepkins founded a Heavy Metal band called “Chemical Nightmare” which gained a solid fan base.  He became somewhat disillusioned by what many times happen behind the music and the music industry, Antoine decided to get a far reaching education in studies. Nevertheless, he found college to be an equally ridiculous proposition intertwined with music but completed his studies in spite of his misgivings.

Hepkins returned to music after a 13 year hiatus playing with several bands in the Woodstock, NY area before joining and touring with Symphony of Shred.

Antoine Hepkins has long ago abandoned the limelight and lives on a farm in Upstate NY with his wife Debra and family.

You’ll have access to stats as soon as you upload your first track. See how many times your track has been played and how many of your fans have liked it.

“Distant Harmony” music video is a unique mix single comprising Antoine Hepkins’ distinct and yet musically diverse sound themes spanning most of his kind of music.  And the music video is interactive and drives the viewer and listener to quickly get the message in the music- we are all so much alike.
For more information on Antoine Hepkins, Distant Harmony (2015) and the complete catalog of video and cd soundtracks, visit Antoine Hepkins  Facebook, like his Distant Harmony at and follow Antoine Hepkins music video on the radio at . Read more Antoine Helpkins at and

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Rowan University Student Crowned Miss New Jersey

Rowan University Student Crowned Miss New Jersey

(photo illustration credit: Dan Majka)

OCEAN CITY, N.J. (AP) — A Rowan University student has been crowned Miss New Jersey.

Lindsey Giannini, of Hammonton, won the title Saturday night at the Ocean City Music Pier, beating out 27 other contestants. It was the fourth time she had competed in the pageant, and her platform this year was raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

The first runner-up was Anna Negron of Vineland.

For full story go to:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

City Council Okays School Bailout, But With $25-Million Catch

City Council Okays School Bailout, But With $25-Million Catch

School Superintendent William Hite, SRC member Bill Green and SRC Chairwoman Marjorie Neff waited as City Council prepared to vote on additional school funding. (credit: Mike Dunn)
School Superintendent William Hite, SRC member Bill Green and
SRC Chairwoman Marjorie Neff waited as City Council prepared
to vote on additional school funding.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City Council on Wednesday gave initial approval to a school district bailout that falls short of what school officials wanted — and it was done in a way that left the Superintendent scratching his head.

Council, voting at the committee level, approved increases to three taxes — property, use and occupancy, and parking — that Council President Darrell Clarke said will bring the District an extra $70-million in the coming year.

“We’ve laid out what we believe to be a balanced plan,” Clarke said. “Some would say we’re spreading the pain. The simple reality is, we don’t think its fair to only go back to taxpayers as it relates to real estate. We will provide in $70-million in additional annual funding.”

For full story go to:

NTSB: Amtrak engineer wasn't talking, texting on cellphone

NTSB: Amtrak engineer wasn't talking, texting on cellphone
AP Photo
FILE - In this May 12, 2015 file photo, emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia. Accident investigators said Wednesday that the engineer driving an Amtrak train wasn't using his cellphone in the moments before the train derailed in Philadelphia last month, deepening the mystery of what caused the accident.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The engineer in last month's fatal Amtrak crash wasn't using his cellphone to talk, text or download anything just before the train sped off the tracks, investigators said Wednesday, addressing one big question about what might have caused the accident but only deepening the mystery of what did.

Eight people were killed and about 200 were injured in the crash in Philadelphia. For reasons still unknown, the train accelerated to 106 miles per hour in the minute before it entered a curve where the speed limit is 50, investigators have said previously. In the last few seconds the brakes were applied with maximum force, but the train was still traveling at over 100 mph when it left the tracks.

In its updated report Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said an examination of the cellphone of the engineer, Brandon Bostian, also indicated he didn't access the train's Wi-Fi system while he was operating the locomotive.

Bostian suffered a head injury in the May 12 crash, and his attorney has said he doesn't remember anything after the train pulled out of Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, the last stop before the derailment.

Bostian provided investigators with his passcode to the phone, allowing them access to the data, the NTSB said.

While investigators have ruled out the most obvious uses of the phone before the crash, they have not eliminated some others such as the use of an app, NTSB board member Bella Dinh-Zarr said at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on train safety Wednesday. The agency says that to determine whether the phone was powered off, investigators in its laboratory have been examining its operating system, which contains more than 400,000 files of metadata.

Investigators are also obtaining a phone identical to the engineer's and will be running additional tests to validate the data. Bostian's phone was used to make calls and send text messages the day of the accident, but inconsistencies in phone records presented difficulties, NTSB Chairman Chris Hart told Congress last week. The voice and text messages were recorded in different time zones and may not have been calibrated to the times of other equipment on the train, such as a camera focused on the tracks and a recorder that registers how fast the train was moving and actions by the engineer, he said.

Accident investigators have said previously that they have not found any mechanical problems with the train. The track had been inspected not long before the crash.

On Tuesday, the House passed a transportation spending bill that includes $9 million for Amtrak to install inward-facing cameras in locomotive cabs. Five years ago, the NTSB recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration require railroads install the cameras so investigators would have a video and sound recording of what was going inside the cab in the event of an accident.

Regulators convened an industry-labor advisory committee to work on possible regulations last year. But the committee has been unable to reach a consensus, and the railroad administration has said it will pursue regulations without the committee's endorsement. However, it could be years before regulations are proposed and then made final.

Rather than waiting for regulations, Amtrak will install the cameras on trains in the Northeast Corridor on its own, the railroad's president and CEO, Joseph Boardman, said recently.

The NTSB recommendation on cameras was made as the board wrapped up an investigation into the Sept. 12, 2008 head-on collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, California. The Metrolink train ran through a red signal. Twenty-five people were killed and scores injured. The NTSB faulted the Metrolink train's engineer for the collision, saying that he was distracted by text messages he was sending while on duty. However, that was a deduction because investigators didn't have a complete record of the engineer's actions that a camera would have provided.

At Wednesday's hearing, Dinh-Zarr also urged the swift installation by railroads of positive train control, a 
technology that can prevent trains from derailing because of excessive speed, as well as collisions between trains. NTSB first recommended trains have the technology in 1970, and has since investigated 140 accidents that it could have prevented, she said.

Congress mandated in 2008 that Amtrak, commuter railroads and freight railroads install positive train control by the end of this year. Amtrak still has to do extensive testing of the system but will meet the deadline in the busy Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, officials have said.

Most railroads, however, will not make the deadline. Robert Lauby, the railroad administration's associate administrator for safety, said 29 percent of commuter railroads will make the deadline and about half of the rest estimate they will be ready by 2018. But the nation's largest freight railroads don't expect to be ready until the end of 2020, he said.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Jewish Exponent Lays Off Half Its Staff, Will Continue Publishing

Jewish Exponent Lays Off Half Its Staff, Will Continue Publishing

(Photo provided by Jewish Exponent)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s Jewish newspaper, the Jewish Exponent, has laid off its entire editorial and production staff, but says it will continue publishing.

The Exponent is 128 years old and, if it wanted to live to be 129, says marketing chief Steven Rosenberg of its publisher, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, it had no choice but to fire all 15 people who produced the paper’s content.

For full story go to:

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    FPN/VSP® is in no way responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be listed on our Website and/or linked to our Website via hyperlink. VSP/FPN® makes no judgment or warranty with respect to the accuracy, timeliness or suitability of the content of any site to which the Website may refer and/or link, and FPN/VSP® takes no responsibility therefor. By providing access to other websites, FPN/VSP® is not endorsing the goods or services provided by any such websites or their sponsoring organizations, nor does such reference or link mean that any third party websites or their owners are endorsing FPN/VSP® or any of the Services. Such references and links are for informational purposes only and as a convenience to you.

    FPN/VSP® reserves the right at any time to modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, the Website and/or Services (or any part thereof) with or without notice to you. You agree that neither FPN/VSP® nor its affiliates shall be liable to you or to any third party for any modification, suspension or discontinuance of the Website and/or Services.

    You agree to indemnify and hold harmless FPN/VSP®, its subsidiaries, and affiliates, and their respective officers, directors, employees, shareholders, legal representatives, agents, successors and assigns, from and against any and all claims, actions, demands, causes of action and other proceedings arising from or concerning your use of the Services (collectively, "Claims") and to reimburse them on demand for any losses, costs, judgments, fees, fines and other expenses they incur (including attorneys' fees and litigation costs) as a result of any Claims.

    The Website is © 2009 by VSP®, or its designers. All rights reserved. Your rights with respect to use of the Website and Services are governed by the Terms and all applicable laws, including but not limited to intellectual property laws.

    Any contact information for troops overseas and/or soldiers at home provided to you by FPN/VSP® is specifically and solely for your individual use in connection with the services provide by Van Stone Productions Foundation VSP.

    FPN/VSP® soldiers contact information for any other purpose whatsoever, including, but not limited to, copying and/or storing by any means (manually, electronically, mechanically, or otherwise) not expressly authorized by FPN/VSP is strictly prohibited. Additionally, use of FPN/VSP® contact information for any solicitation or recruiting purpose, or any other private, commercial, political, or religious mailing, or any other form of communication not expressly authorized by FPN/VSP® is strictly prohibited.