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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic High School Celebrates 125 Years

Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic High School Celebrates 125 Years

 (credit: Justin Udo) 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than 1,000 alumni gathered Sunday morning to help Roman Catholic High School in Center City celebrate its 125th anniversary.

Current and former students celebrated the school’s milestone with an Alumni Mass and Communion Breakfast.

“I love it,” said Liam Wallis, a senior a Roman Catholic. “It’s great to talk to all the alumni. You see how excited they get when they see all their former classmates that they haven’t seen in a while. You just talk to them, pick their brain about the experience they have. You see they’re older now, but when they went to high school they were very similar to the way I am now.”

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Barnes Art Museum Looks To Build On Successful Move

Barnes Art Museum Looks To Build On Successful Move

 Visitors walk past a full size black and white photograph of a version "The Card Players" 1890-92 by Paul Cézanne owned by the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania, on February 7, 2011 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York during a preview for the exhibition, "Cezanne's Card Players." The show unites works from the famous series by Cézanne, bringing together a majority of the related paintings, oil studies, and drawings.   AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images) 

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — More than a million people have visited The Barnes Foundation since the art museum moved to Philadelphia from a suburb in May 2012. That’s almost three times the number of visitors who saw its extensive collection in its former home in the five years before the relocation.
The foundation’s leaders say that growth not only validates the contested and controversial move of the museum and its renowned collection of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern art, but also indicates a need for further change to build on that success.

“We’re operating on a strong foundation with high visibility, great attendance, great support from staff and other quarters. This is the best time to think about how to evolve,” said Thom Collins, the executive director and president. “The move was a means to an end, and not an end in itself. The end is expanded services.”

In a five-year strategic plan to be made public soon, the foundation intends to reach new audiences and deepen engagement, to expand art interpretation offerings and tours, to increase its endowment, and to bolster the foundation as a research hub. It aims to complete these goals before marking its centenary in 2022.

Sylvie Patry, who will take the job as chief curator in January, noted that while the foundation is well-established in some ways, the relocation three years ago “reshuffled the cards and has opened a new chapter, with specific and new changes,” she wrote in an email interview. “In this sense, the foundation has a long and rich history but is a young institution that needs to develop.”

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Shopping Underway At Christmas Village In Love Park

Black Friday Shopping Underway At Christmas Village In Love Park

 (credit: Mike DeNardo/KYW) 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some Black Friday shoppers traded the frenetic experience at the malls, for a more leisurely pace at Philadelphia’s Christmas Village.

Laureen and Michael Hagan of Drexel Hill strolled by the wooden booths of the Christmas Village at Love Park.

“We just thought it sounded like a great Christmas event — a way to start off the holidays.  We’re here with our daughter and her friend and my husband and I.  And we just thought it was a really good family event.  A nice way to look at some local stores.”

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A search for family in Haiti raises questions about adoption

A search for family in Haiti raises questions about adoption
AP Photo
In this July 13, 2015 photo, during a visit with her birth mother and other family, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, adoptee Mariette Williams shows pictures of herself, made when she was living at a Haitian orphanage in the mid 80's. For the first time in nearly 30 years, Mariette was reunited with her birth mother. Mariette was adopted by a Canadian couple in October 1986.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- As Mariette Williams waited for her flight from South Florida to Haiti, she paced the departure lounge, folding and re-folding her ticket and clutching the handle of a bag sagging with gifts. She was excited but terrified: For the first time in nearly 30 years, she was about to see her mother.

Colas Bazile Etienne was a shadow at the very edge of her daughter's memories, staying out of focus no matter how hard Mariette tried. She knew her mother was a desperately poor Haitian woman who had given her up for adoption, but why? Because she had too many children? Because she wanted to give Mariette a better life? Because she had hoped for exactly this, that her daughter would one day come back to help the family?

All Mariette remembered of her childhood was leaving it, the flight she was about to do now but in reverse. She had looked at the clouds out of the plane window and thrown up on her dress. She knew she shouldn't expect too much from this reunion, but she couldn't help it.

"Outside of my wedding and the birth of my children," she said over the noise of the airport, "this is probably one of the biggest days of my life."
Mariette is an English teacher at a private school who exudes the quiet authority of someone used to keeping a classroom of kids in line. She lives a middle-class American life in a condo in Boca Raton, a South Florida suburb of broad streets and manicured grass that couldn't be more different from Haiti. At 32, she has a husband, Terrence Williams, and two young children, Melia and Jaden.

Yet the itch to find her birth family has always gnawed at her, especially leading up to Mother's Day every year.

"I was celebrating the mother I had, but I was pushing away feelings of hurt and anger for the mother I lost," she wrote on a blog for fellow adoptees. "And so Mother's Day would come, and I would grin and bear it. A week would pass, then a month, and the sharp pain became a dull ache for the rest of the year."

Like Mariette, thousands of Haitian children in recent decades have gone to live with families in Europe, Canada and the United States. She tried years earlier to find her birth parents, but the orphanage listed in her adoption papers no longer existed. Her family name, "Etienne," is common in Haiti. And she knew of a town, Pestel, but had no online records to search.

For Mariette, as for many other adoptees, it was social media that opened up new possibilities. One day, she stumbled upon a Facebook page for Pestel. With the help of a translator, she posted a message online in Haitian Creole.

"My name is Mariette," she wrote. "I'm looking for my family."

Two weeks later, she got the contact number of someone who knew her parents. Her heart raced. At long last, this could be what she was waiting for.

Through a friend who spoke Haitian Creole, she found out that she had four sisters and two brothers in Haiti. 

Her mother was alive, but her father, Berlisse, had passed away about a year earlier.

She cried for the father she had never met. She also realized she was running out of time: Colas would soon be turning 70, old in a country where women have a life expectancy of 65.

Soon she was talking to Junette, a 45-year-old sister who was overjoyed to hear from her. In the back-and-forth, Mariette heard a name: Rose-Marie Platel, the orphanage owner listed in the adoption papers. At the mention of the name, she got goosebumps.

What Junette said next shook up everything Mariette believed about who she was and where she came from. Rose-Marie had been her godmother, her sister said, and had taken her to the capital, Port-au-Prince, for treatment when she got sick. But one day, when the family went to visit, both Rose-Marie and Mariette were gone.

Mariette's mother had never given her up for adoption after all. Junette asked: "Do you know your family has been looking for you for 30 years?"

It took two weeks to arrange a call with her mother, who did not have a phone and lived far from the capital.

Mariette's heart was pounding. The conversation through a translator was slow and at times awkward. But the voice was familiar -- like Junette's, only higher and softer.

Colas repeated the same story and said she had prayed, every day, to see her daughter again.

Junette promised to email Mariette a photo of her mother right after the call. Mariette stared at her screen saver, waiting.

Then it came.

"I had no words," Mariette later wrote. "I was by myself in front of the computer, and I just stared at the picture. I must have stared at it for a full five minutes before moving. And then I grabbed every single picture I had of myself on my computer and started comparing them."

She finally called her husband in and asked him, do we look alike?

He confirmed it with one look.

Now Mariette was unsettled. What had happened with her family? How could she not have known?

And what did her adoptive parents know?
Mariette was adopted in October 1986, at a time when adoption in Haiti was barely regulated. Most of the children in Haitian orphanages had at least one living parent, and the concept of signing away rights to see children was foreign, and still is.

"Even if mothers agreed to an adoption, they did not agree to a full adoption," said Mia Dambach, a children's rights specialist at the International Social Service in Geneva. "They often thought these children would go to America but that they would come back, that the child would always be part of their family."

Mariette's adoptive parents were Sandra and Albert Knopf, at the time empty-nesters in their 40s with three grown sons. Sandra said she felt God's call to adopt.

"I believed that I was doing it for the Lord," she said. "I was not doing it for the children and I was not doing it for me."

The couple lived in Langley, outside Vancouver, where Albert managed a plant that made polystyrene plates and Sandra stayed home. They were considered too old to adopt from Korea. So they found a man named Henry Wiebe who could arrange an adoption from Haiti for $3,500 per child, or $6,000 for two.

He came by with photos of older children, but Sandra only wanted girls under 2.

He called the next day. He had found them. She was going to call them Christa Gail and Jennifer Lynne, but they already had names: Mariette and Patricia.

Sandra arrived in Haiti with Wiebe at a tense time when the country had recently shaken off the rule of the infamous Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. She spoke neither Haitian Creole nor French, the two languages of Haiti. She had never seen such poverty before, and was overwhelmed.

They went straight to the orphanage run by Platel, the Christian Rescue Ministry for Children Home. The girls were infected with parasites, had runny eyes and seemed weak from malnutrition. Mariette was scratching at red bite marks that covered her body, and Sandra could tell she was older than the 17 months the adoption papers claimed. It was only much later that they found out she was nearly 3 ½.

Sandra never met the Haitian lawyer who processed the papers, or went to the hearing where the judge approved the adoption. Platel handled all that while Sandra got visas. It took a month.

As the plane took off from Port-au-Prince, she felt overwhelming relief.

"Circling the airport, I just looked down and thought, 'God, I never want to see this place again.'"

She ended up going back, 13 more times, for Christian relief work and to adopt three more children.

Mariette attended a private Christian school, studied the Bible and went to church every Sunday. She grew up with the idea that she should be grateful for her adoption. If she argued with Sandra, church friends would remind her of how much she owed her adoptive parents.

Now, suddenly, she started to wonder. She confronted Sandra over the phone.

To her dismay, her adoptive mother didn't seem surprised. Yes, she conceded, there had been red flags about the adoption. The fact that Mariette's age was off, the way the birth and other documents weren't available at first and then suddenly appeared, at night, some filled out by hand.

Four days later, Sandra gave her side in a letter to Mariette. Sandra noted that her adopted daughter could have ended up with some other family, or might not have survived in Haiti at all. She said she had always prayed Mariette would return to her country to meet her family. "I feel we have all been victims of deception, but I also believe God is ultimately in charge," she wrote.

For almost two months afterward, Mariette didn't speak to Sandra.

She was furious.

Now the trip to Haiti was about even more than meeting her mother. It was about walking into the different life she could have had, seeing the different person she might have been.

"I gained an education, I was able to attend private school, I'm a college graduate, I have my master's degree, I am a teacher. I have two beautiful children. I have a husband," she said. "And I lost my family. So, if you were to ask anybody today, would you trade your family in for a college education, they would probably say no.

"I never had that choice, but that's what I did."

She decided to go to Haiti to celebrate her mother's 70th birthday. Sandra gave her a necklace and earrings as gifts for Colas.

Mariette seethed. She left them behind.
It was bright and hot when she arrived in Port-au-Prince, just before noon. She had worn a white dress, thinking it made her look more Haitian. The Customs officials waved her toward a checkpoint for citizens.

She was surprised, and a little annoyed, that her Haitian relatives weren't at the airport. After a half-hour drive through the dusty streets, she arrived at the guest house where she had booked rooms for her family for the week. They weren't there either.

Her adoptive parents had always raised her to be 10 minutes early to everything. "I'm not sure I like Haitian time," she said.

But then her mother and two sisters arrived at the steel gate. Colas climbed slowly out of an SUV. She paused and stared at her daughter's face, so like her own. Then a smile spread over her thin features.

As they embraced, the frail older woman disappeared into the arms of Mariette, a head taller, with the athletic build of the college volleyball player she once was. The first words she said to her mother were, "You're so little!"

Colas leaned back, cradled her daughter's face to study it. It was too soon to let go, so they didn't. They walked arm-and-arm into the guest house, the rest of the family trailing behind.

They chatted straight through lunch with a translator. The next time you come, Colas told Mariette, you must bring your family, let me babysit the kids. "They will stay with grandma," she laughed. "They can stay the whole week."

Colas slid her chair closer to her daughter, so their shoulders touched. She reached out, and stroked Mariette's braided hair.

Mariette bit by bit gathered her mother's story, how she had 10 children, seven of them still alive, and earned money from selling vegetables. She heard that her father was tall, like Mariette, and had three children by other women. Colas raised them all. "My father was a rolling stone, apparently," she said.

About a half hour later, the conversation took a serious turn.

"Do you remember your godmother, Rose-Marie?" Colas asked.

She told Mariette how Rose-Marie, an assistant to a Haitian pastor who worked in the village, had offered to take her into her home in Port-au-Prince. Mariette was sick and the family was struggling, so Colas said yes. She said she had visited Mariette.

Then one day she went to the orphanage, and Mariette was gone.

"So, you never wanted me to be adopted?" Mariette pressed her. No, her mother said, she never agreed to her child going away.

What did she do next, Mariette asked. "I prayed," her mother replied. "I didn't know what to do. I felt sick."
Over the coming days, Mariette could get little more from her mother. She cursed herself for not learning Creole.

The gap between mother and daughter only widened the next day, when she traveled to the family home in the countryside, Colas in the blouse, skirt and new shoes her daughter had given her.

It took a day. And when Mariette got there, she was shocked.

The house was made of chipped cinderblock, with a roof of tree limbs topped with steel and a hard-packed dirt floor. There was no electricity, no running water. A cluster of plantain leaves out back served as the latrine, shared with several neighbors.

The nearest drinking water was a half-hour walk away, and the family washed with rain that ran off the roof into a plastic drum. A tall, faded pink sheet of plywood passed for a front door, which could be picked up and set back. The only windows were spaces in the concrete filled with old clothes for privacy.

Mariette walked inside with Colas, not taking off her sunglasses. She exited almost immediately.

"My initial reaction was, holy crap, I have to get out of here," she said later. "It's not like I haven't seen poverty in Haiti before, but it was so personal. It's my mom."

She had planned to spend the night at the house. Instead, she traveled two more hours to the one hotel in Pestel.

The next day, Junette said she would like to either move their mother to the capital or fix up her home, where two or three of her children and their families stay at any given time. The implication was clear: Mariette would pay.

Her brothers walked through the home with two barefoot contractors. Mariette ended up with a rough estimate of around $5,000 - far more than she could afford.

Her family saw her as the rich American relative. Her youngest sister and a niece hinted that they could go to nursing school, if they could only come up with the tuition. Colas wanted to prepare a meal, but didn't have money to buy a chicken. Mariette paid.

The neighbors flocked to the house to see the visitor. Some villagers from Deron claimed to have put children in the same orphanage as Mariette's, hoping for adoption. They praised Platel for helping the community, and one man said he was disappointed his child wasn't chosen for a life abroad.

"People are told these kids will have a better life and one day may come back," said Ilmer Resil'homme, a pastor. "Some of them understand. Some don't."

Back in Port-au-Prince, on her final night in Haiti, Mariette brought the family for dinner at the guest house. Junette was there with her daughter. Her brother Feni came, as did her sister Aliette, with her five children. 

Mariette barely ate as they all talked. They wrote out a family tree that included Mariette and her kids.

Toward the end of the night, Mariette was yawning. They hugged each other, and then her family began singing hymns in Creole. Mariette had no idea what they were singing, but she recorded it on her phone. It felt like Thanksgiving.

She left Haiti with a passport photo of her father, a gift from Colas. It was the only photo her mother had of Berlisse.
The details of Mariette's adoption remain a mystery. Wiebe, the Canadian facilitator, can't be located. Sandra lost touch with him and believes he died five years ago. It is unclear how much he knew.

A woman by the name of Rose-Marie Platel lives in a small apartment in the Boston neighborhood of Mattapan, where many Haitians have settled. She says she used to live on the same street where the orphanage was located. Her friends back in Haiti and Sandra insist from photos that it's the same woman.

But this woman says she knows nothing about orphans, and was too busy raising her own children. She dismisses a visitor with a brusque wave.

Adoptions in Haiti are now much more regulated. Birth parents can give up parental rights only after appearing before a court official, and attempts are made to keep the family together. The government matches children with adoptive parents, so that they can no longer choose kids directly from an orphanage, as Sandra did.

Sandra's acknowledgement of doubts about the adoption angered Mariette for a time, but she has tried to let it go.

"I still think it's messed up, but I'm no longer bitter," she said.

She has stayed in close touch with her new yet old Haitian family, and her brother told her Colas now sleeps with her daughter's photo under her pillow. Mariette is trying to come up with money for them while putting her kids through school and buying a house. She plans to run a half-marathon in Miami to raise funds and visit Haiti with her husband and children.

She may not know everything about her adoption, but she knows enough.

"Every single day for my entire life I have always thought of my mom," she said. "When I wake up now I have a face to put to the name."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Camden County Prosecutor Investigating Fatal Shooting Involving Two Police Officers

Camden County Prosecutor Investigating Fatal Shooting Involving Two Police Officers

 (credit: CBS) 

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Authorities say two Camden County Police officers were involved in a shooting that has left a suspect dead.

The officers were responding to a 911 call for domestic violence on the 3200 block of Rutledge Walk at around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The caller told the dispatcher a male who was involved in the incident was possibly armed.

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Officer charged with murder in teen's death; video released

Officer charged with murder in teen's death; video release

AP Photo
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy speak at a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago, announcing first-degree murder charges against police officer Jason Van Dyke in the Oct. 20, 2014, death of Laquan McDonald. The city then released the dash-cam video of the shooting to media outlets after the news conference.
CHICAGO (AP) -- A white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times last year was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing that many people fear could spark unrest.

City officials and community leaders have been bracing for the release of the dash-cam video, fearing the kind of turmoil that occurred in cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after young black men were slain by police or died in police custody.

A judge ordered that the recording be made public by Wednesday. Moments before it was released, the mayor and the police chief appealed for calm.

"People have a right to be angry. People have a right to protest. People have a right to free speech. But they do not have a right to ... criminal acts," Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said.

The relevant portion of the video runs for less than 40 seconds and has no audio.

Laquan McDonald, 17, swings into view on a four-lane street where police vehicles are stopped in the middle of the roadway. As he jogs down an empty lane, he appears to pull up his pants and then slows to a brisk walk, veering away from two officers who are emerging from a vehicle and drawing their guns.

Almost immediately, one of the officers appears to fire from close range. McDonald spins around and crumples to the pavement.

The car with the camera continues to roll forward until the officers are out of the frame. Then McDonald can be seen lying on the ground, moving occasionally. At least two small puffs of smoke are seen coming off his body as the officer continues firing.

In the final moments, an officer kicks something out of McDonald's hands.

Police have said the teen had a knife. Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said Tuesday that a 3-inch knife with its blade folded into the handle was recovered from the scene.

Shortly after the video's release, protesters began marching through city streets. Several hundred people blocked traffic on the near West Side. Some circled police cars in an intersection and chanted "16 shots."

"I'm so hurt and so angry," said Jedidiah Brown, a South Side activist and pastor who had just seen the video. "I can feel pain through my body."

Small groups of demonstrators marched up Michigan Avenue with a police escort before being stopped by officers as they headed toward Lake Shore Drive. After a short standoff, the crowd turned around.

At one point, demonstrators also gathered outside the police department's District 1 headquarters in the South Loop. Officers formed a line in front of the building, blocking anyone from entering.

At least one person was detained, which led to a tense moment as protesters tried to prevent police from taking him away. Some threw plastic water bottles at officers and sat behind a police vehicle, refusing to move. Officers pulled them away, and the vehicle sped off.

City officials spent months arguing that the footage could not be made public until the conclusion of several investigations. After the judge's order, the investigations were quickly wrapped up and a charge announced.

Alvarez defended the 13 months it took to charge officer Jason Van Dyke. She said cases involving police present "highly complex" legal issues and that she would rather take the time to get it right than "rush to judgment."

Alvarez said concern about the impending release prompted her to move up the announcement of the murder charge.

"It is graphic. It is violent. It is chilling," she said. "To watch a 17-year-old young man die in such a violent manner is deeply disturbing. I have absolutely no doubt that this video will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans."

But she insisted that she made a decision "weeks ago" to charge Van Dyke and the video's ordered release did not influence that.

Some community leaders said there was no doubt that Alvarez only brought charges because of the order to release the video from Oct. 20, 2014.

"This is a panicky reaction to an institutional crisis within the criminal-justice system," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who said he hoped to see "massive" but peaceful demonstrations.

Months after McDonald's death, the city agreed to a $5 million settlement with his family, even before relatives filed a lawsuit.

The city's hurried attempts to defuse tensions also included a community meeting, official statements of outrage at the officer's conduct and an abrupt announcement Monday night that another officer who has been the subject of protests for months might now be fired.

"You had this tape for a year, and you are only talking to us now because you need our help keeping things calm," the Rev. Corey Brooks said of Monday's community gathering with the mayor.

An autopsy report showed that McDonald was shot at least twice in his back and PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, was found in his system.

At the time of his death, police were responding to complaints about someone breaking into cars and stealing radios.

Van Dyke, who was denied bond on Tuesday, was the only officer of the several who were on the scene to open fire. Alvarez said the officer emptied his 9 mm pistol of all 16 rounds and that he was on the scene for just 30 seconds before he started shooting. She said he opened fire just six seconds after getting out of his vehicle and kept firing even though McDonald dropped to the ground after the initial shots.

At Tuesday's hearing, Assistant State's Attorney Bill Delaney said the shooting lasted 14 or 15 seconds and that McDonald was on the ground for 13 of those seconds.

Van Dyke's attorney, Dan Herbert, maintains his client feared for his life and acted lawfully and that the video does not tell the whole story. Van Dyke, stripped of his police powers, has been assigned to desk duty since the shooting.

Herbert said the case needs to be tried in a courtroom and "can't be tried in the streets, can't be tried on social media and can't be tried on Facebook."

Chicago police also moved late Monday to discipline a second officer who shot and killed an unarmed black woman in 2012.

McCarthy recommended firing officer Dante Servin for the shooting of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, saying 
Servin showed "incredibly poor judgment." A judge acquitted Servin of involuntary manslaughter and other charges last April.

Monday, November 23, 2015

“Creed” Star Learned How To Fight At Legendary Philadelphia Gym

“Creed” Star Learned How To Fight At Legendary Philadelphia Gym
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —   “Creed” is the latest installment in the Rocky film franchise and it opens up this week.

Michael B. Jordan plays the son of the Rocky Balboa’s original rival Apollo.

Jordan plays Adonis Creed and boxing is in his character’s bloodline.

But in real life, it’s not in Jordan’s.

His boxing skills had to be sharp and a local guy made sure that they were.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving Feast Served To Local Seniors In Need Of Company

Thanksgiving Feast Served To Local Seniors In Need Of Company

 (Credit: Molly Daly) 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging hosted its annual Thanksgiving dinner for isolated, low-income seniors Sunday at Septa’s Jefferson Station.

The invitation-only dinner is a joint effort by the PCA, SEPTA and the merchants of the Reading Terminal Market.

“There are probably 300 people here today,” organizer Tootsie Iovine D’Ambrosio tells KYW Newsradio, “and they’re gonna have turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, string beans, pumpkin pie, apple pie, lemon bars…”

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Special Fashion Show Supports Cancer Patients And Their Families

Special Fashion Show Supports Cancer Patients And Their Families
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Supporting cancer patients and their families, beyond medical interventions with a special fashion show.

The ordeal of cancer isn’t just about treatments, medicine and tests. There is also all the emotional issues for patients and their families. Sometimes you just have to have fun.
Strutting their stuff at Saks Fifth Avenue, among the professional models, are cancer patients and their families.

Dakota Fisher-Vance is only 26-years-old and has already battled two bouts of cancer. On the runway, she gets to take a break from cancer.

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Pa. Senate Could Vote To End School Property Taxes (But Raise Sales And Income Taxes)

Pa. Senate Could Vote To End School Property Taxes (But Raise Sales And Income Taxes)
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  The Pennsylvania State Senate could vote next week on a proposal to end school property taxes. It would be a historic first, the end of all school property taxes in the state.  “More than 80 local taxpayer groups came to me about a year ago and essentially said forget trying to tweak the property tax, the only way to reform property tax is to kill it,” Berks County Republican David Argall told Eyewitness News.

Argall is sponsoring a bill in the senate that is receiving bipartisan support. It proposes eliminating school property taxes for homeowners and landowners in exchange for raising the state sales tax from 6 to 7 percent and increasing personal income tax from 3.07 to 4.34 percent.

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Discarded cell phone led to Paris attacks ringleader

Discarded cell phone led to Paris attacks ringleader
AP Photo
A girl takes a picture from the banks of the River Seine of the illuminated Eiffel Tower in the French national colors red, white and blue in honor of the victims of the terrorist attacks last Friday, in Paris, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. A woman wearing an explosive suicide vest blew herself up Wednesday as heavily armed police tried to storm a suburban Paris apartment where the suspected mastermind of last week's attacks was believed to be holed up, police said.
PARIS (AP) -- French investigators tracked down the alleged ringleader of last week's Paris bloodshed after receiving a startling tipoff: The Islamic militant wasn't in Syria but in Europe, plotting yet another attack. A discarded cellphone found near a bloodied concert hall led them to his cousin, and then to a suburban Paris apartment where both died in a hail of bullets and explosions.

As a manhunt intensified Thursday for a fugitive connected to the carnage, details emerged about the intelligence operation that allowed authorities to zero in on Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian-Moroccan extremist they say orchestrated the attacks in Paris and four plots thwarted earlier this year.

The narrative provided by French officials raised questions about how a wanted militant suspected of involvement in multiple plots could slip into Europe undetected.

Investigators quickly identified Abaaoud as the architect of the deadly attacks in Paris, but they believed he had coordinated the assaults against a soccer stadium, cafes and a rock concert from the battlefields of Syria.

That situation changed profoundly on Monday, when France received a tip from a non-European country that Abaaoud had slipped into Europe through Greece, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

"It was a big surprise when the intelligence came in," said a police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information was sensitive. "There were many people who didn't take it seriously, but effectively it was confirmed."

As it turned out, not only was Abaaoud in Europe, but right in front of the noses of French investigators, a 15-minute walk from the Stade de France stadium where three suicide bombers had blown themselves up during the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 129 people and wounded hundreds.

"We have strong reason to believe that this cell was about to commit massive terror attacks in France," Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday, speaking on public broadcaster France 2.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Abaaoud was traced to the apartment in Saint-Denis through phone taps and surveillance.

Two police officials briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press that a cellphone dumped in a trash can outside the Bataclan concert hall - where 89 people were killed - proved crucial. It contained a text message sent about 20 minutes after the massacre began that read: "We're off, it's started."

The phone had contact information for Abaaoud's 26-year-old cousin, Hasna Aitboulahcen, one of the police officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information hasn't been released by investigators.

Both she and Abaaoud were killed as heavily armed SWAT teams raided the apartment in Saint-Denis early Wednesday, prosecutors said.

Her final moments were marked by a brief, angry exchange with police before she is believed to have detonated a suicide vest - an explosion that hurled parts of her spine and other body parts onto a police car on the street below.

An audio recording, confirmed by a police official, captured the exchange. As gunshots rang out, an officer was heard shouting: "Where is your boyfriend?"

"He's not my boyfriend!" Aitboulahcen responded angrily. Then a loud explosion was heard, which police officials said was the bomb in her vest detonating.

Prosecutors said Thursday that a fingerprint check had confirmed that another mangled body found inside the heavily damaged building was that of Abaaoud. Eight people were arrested in connection with the raids, including two who were pulled out of the rubble.

Authorities initially gave Abaaoud's age as 27, but on Thursday, Paris prosecutors said he was 28.

"Abaaoud played a decisive role in these attacks," Cazeneuve said. "The investigation will establish precisely how this Belgo-Moroccan was involved."

Abaaoud was also believed to be behind four of six attacks thwarted this year, including on a church in the Parisian suburb of Villejuif that was foiled when the would-be attacker shot himself in the foot. French authorities are investigating if Abaaoud was involved in an attempted attack on a high-speed train, where three young Americans tackled a heavily armed man, Cazeneuve said.

In addition, he was suspected of links to two jihadis returning to Europe from Turkey, and a "wannabe jihadi" who upon his arrest in August told French intelligence that he had been recruited by Abaaoud to carry out a "violent act" in France or another European country, the interior minister said.

Abaaoud is believed to have gotten to know some of the attackers responsible for the Paris massacre in the Moleenbeek neighborhood of Brussels where he grew up, including Brahim Abdeslam who blew himself up outside a cafe in one of Paris' trendiest neighborhoods. Abdeslam's brother, Salah, is still being sought as a suspected accomplice.

Authorities in Belgium on Thursday launched six raids in Molenbeek and other areas of Brussels linked to another of the suicide bombers, Bilal Hadfi, a French citizen who blew himself up outside the soccer stadium. 
An official in the Belgian federal prosecutor's office said the raids targeted people in Hadfi's "entourage."

How and when Abaaoud entered France before his death remained unclear. He had bragged in the Islamic State group's English-language magazine that he was able to slip in and out of Europe undetected.

Abaaoud was wanted in Belgium, where he was sentenced in absentia this year to 20 years' imprisonment for serving as an IS recruiter and kidnapping his younger brother, Younes. Belgian authorities say Abaaoud brought the boy, then 13, to Syria last year to join him in IS-controlled territory.

News of Abaaoud's death seemed to ease some tension in a country deeply shocked by the attacks, though officials said the aftermath was far from over.

"We now know that Abaaoud, the brain behind these attacks - one of the brains, because we must be particularly cautious, and we know what the threats are - was among the dead," Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the lower house of the French Parliament.

He spoke as lawmakers voted to extend a state of emergency for three months. The measure now goes to the Senate, where it likely will be approved. The state of emergency expands police powers to carry out arrests and searches, and allows authorities to forbid the movement of people and vehicles at specific times and places.

Valls had pressed for the extension, and warned Thursday that an attack using "chemical or biological weapons" could not be ruled out, though he did not mention a specific threat.

France requested a meeting of European interior and justice ministers Friday in Brussels to discuss the fight against terrorism. "Everyone must understand that it is urgent for Europe to recover, get organized and defend itself against the terrorist threat," Cazeneuve said.

French President Francois Hollande was going to Washington and Moscow next week to push for a stronger international coalition against IS.

Meanwhile, Italian authorities were searching for five people flagged by the FBI in connection with a U.S. State Department warning Wednesday that St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Milan's cathedral and La Scala opera house, as well as churches, synagogues, restaurants, theaters and hotels had been identified as "potential targets."

French military spokesman Col. Gilles Jaron said Thursday that French forces have destroyed 35 Islamic State targets in Syria since the attacks on Paris.

Monday, November 16, 2015

New Rules Have Some Mormons Questioning Their Faith

New Rules Have Some Mormons Questioning Their Faith
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  Turmoil for the Mormon Church as new rules have some members questioning their faith.

“It’s really heartbreaking,” Holly King Bennett tells Eyewitness News.

For some, this is a deep wound.

“I just stayed up crying. The ramifications for this will just be… horrendous,” Bennett says.

Growing up in the Church of Latter-Day Saints, Philadelphia Ward Member Holly King Bennett knows she’s taking a risk by speaking out.

For full story go to:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Jewish Relief Agency Marks Milestone While Helping The Hungry

Jewish Relief Agency Marks Milestone While Helping The Hungry

 (credit: Molly Daly/KYW) 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A local charity that packs and delivers food to the needy marked a milestone Sunday.

The Jewish Relief Agency‘s warehouse in Northeast Philadelphia was buzzing with volunteers filling boxes with food. Executive Director Amy Krulik says it marks a first in the JRA’s 15-year history.

 “We are packing and delivering to 3,169 households throughout the five-county Philadelphia area. This is a real record-setter for us, and since it’s in advance of both Thanksgiving and Chanukah, it’s especially meaningful to our recipient families,” Krulik said.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thousands Volunteer For ‘LOVE Your Park Fall Service Day’

Thousands Volunteer For ‘LOVE Your Park Fall Service Day’

 (Credit: Dan Wing) 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For the 6th year in a row, thousands of volunteers filled neighborhood parks around Philadelphia for the LOVE your Park Fall Service Day. The effort helps keep parks clean, while also preparing them for the winter ahead.

The city-wide effort is led by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy, whose Executive Director – Kathryn Ott Lovell – describes the event as a massive group effort.

“We have about 2,000-volunteers spread out across parks in every neighborhood of the city,” says Ott Lovell. “They’re picking up leaves, they’re cleaning and painting and mulching, and basically closing the parks down for the winter season.”

The chilly Autumn wind didn’t deter volunteers at Miflin Square Park, which was inspiring to Ott Lovell.

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Gov. Wolf, NJ Police: No Known Threats After Paris Attacks

Gov. Wolf, NJ Police: No Known Threats After Paris Attacks

 File photo of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. (credit: CBS3) 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf is asking Pennsylvania residents to be vigilant and report suspicious activity following the Paris terror attacks but says “there remains no known imminent threat” to the commonwealth.

Wolf said the Office of Homeland Security has advised him that police in Philadelphia have stepped up security for the weekend. He said citizens may also experience increased security in other areas of the commonwealth.

The governor said Pennsylvania residents “should be vigilant, remain patient and be respectful” to law enforcement officers.

For full story go to:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Student Demonstrators Take To Center City Streets

Student Demonstrators Take To Center City Streets
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  College and high school students are clogging the streets of Philadelphia Thursday afternoon in a march and rally in support of the fight for a $15 minimum wage, and free college tuition.

Students from Drexel, the University of Pennsylvania, Temple, the Community College of Philadelphia and area high schools are marching from their respective school to City Hall. The will be converging there at around 4:30 p.m.

For full story go to:

Diwali Celebration Brings Festival of Lights To Center City

Diwali Celebration Brings Festival of Lights To Center City

 (photo credit Kristen Johanson) 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Many turned up outside City Hall Thursday night to mark Diwali, the popular holiday celebrated by many in the Indian and Hindu communities in our region.

Known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali observes happiness, joy and light.

Shivani Raina is with the Main Line Indian Association and says the holiday originated with the story of a king fighting off a demon.

“To welcome back Lord Rama, who left the kingdom for 14 years, and had fought a big battle and was coming back to his kingdom,” Raina said.

She says the celebration is about being with family and friends, eating, dancing and singing– and rejoicing in life.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Arrest Made In Connection To Hit And Run Death Of 9-Year-Old

Arrest Made In Connection To Hit And Run Death Of 9-Year-Old

(Credit: CBS 3)

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, P.A., (CBS) — Authorities announced the arrest of Royce Atkins on Monday night. The arrest was made in connection to the hit and run death of a nine-year-old boy in Northampton County.

Darius Condash was struck on Schoenersville Road on Friday around 6:30 p.m. according to authorities.
Condash, along with two other young boys had just made a purchase at Wawa before the accident police said.

Police explain that Condash had dropped a piece of candy in the road while the children were returning home. Authorities say he ran back across the roadway and was struck by a vehicle which failed to stop.
Condash was transported to the hospital where he later died from his injuries.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Philly’s First Veterans Parade Day Marches Through City

Philly’s First Veterans Parade Day Marches Through City

 Philadelphia's first ever Veterans Day Parade. (credit: Molly Daly/KYW) 
Philadelphia's first ever Veterans Day Parade.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The city’s first Veterans Day parade marched through Center City, winding its way from Broad and Walnut to Independence Hall on Sunday.

Police on motorcycles led the way, followed by uniformed horsemen in gleaming silver helmets with black plumes, from the Philadelphia City Troop Cavalry, established in 1774. They were followed by dignitaries in classic cars, one of them a Pearl harbor vet.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Owner Reunited With Stolen Puppies After Her Dog Was Killed

Owner Reunited With Stolen Puppies After Her Dog Was Killed
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Finally, good news to balance out a tragic act of animal cruelty in the Logan section of Philadelphia Wednesday night.

While one pit bull was killed, her puppies were found today, alive and well.

It’s been an emotional 48 hours for Latanya Thomas after she discovered her female pit bull and the dogs- a pair of 3-month-old puppies- were missing on Tuesday.

Wednesday, the mother pit bull was found hanging from her own leash on a neighbor’s fence in the 5100 block of Marvine Street.

Her two puppies were nowhere to be found, until today.
SPCA officers say a woman found the puppies but thought they were strays until she saw the the story on the news last night. She promptly brought puppies to the SPCA.

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Phila. Mayor-Elect Jim Kenney Names 170 To Transition Team

Phila. Mayor-Elect Jim Kenney Names 170 To Transition Team

Jim Kenney, the night of his Democratic primary win in the Philadelphia mayoral race.  File photo by KYW's Pat Loeb

Jim Kenney, the night of his Democratic primary win in the 
Philadelphia mayoral race. 
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If many hands make light work than Mayor-elect Jim Kenney’s transition should be almost effortless.

He’s named 170 people to his transition team.

The list reads like a directory of civic activists, including leaders from business, labor, non-profits and politics. Co-chairs are state representative Dwight Evans and Vanguard executive Alba Martinez. The steering committee includes former HUD secretary Estelle Richman, one-time mayoral candidate Ken Trujillo and AFL-CIO head Pat Eiding.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: High School Soccer Player Collapses During Game

EXCLUSIVE: High School Soccer Player Collapses During Game
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — “I don’t remember anything, I just remember the hospital,” William Tennent freshman Trevor Newhouse still doesn’t remember much about his soccer game at Pennbrook Middle School October 19th where he went into sudden cardiac arrest.

“It was just awful,” said Trevor’s mom Patti Newhouse.

Family friend and first responder John Izak was in the stands at the time and rushed out to help.

For full story go to:

Monday, November 2, 2015

DE Man Convicted Of Helping Slaves Escape Pardoned 168 Years Later November 2, 2015 7:45 PM

DE Man Convicted Of Helping Slaves Escape Pardoned 168 Years Later

 (photo credit Jack Markell, DE Governor) 

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Exactly 168 years after he was convicted, a black man who lost his own freedom to help others escape slavery was posthumously pardoned Monday by Delaware’s governor.

Samuel D. Burris, a free black man, was found guilty in 1847 of helping slaves in central Delaware escape on the Underground Railroad. As his punishment, Burris was sentenced to 10 months in prison and to be sold into servitude himself for 14 years. He was saved from slavery by abolitionists who purchased him for $500 in gold and rushed him to Philadelphia to be reunited with his wife and children.

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Phila. Mayoral Candidate Says Immigrants Should Be Treated Like Human Beings

Phila. Mayoral Candidate Says Immigrants Should Be Treated Like Human Beings

Kenney campaigning at an event  in May (credit: CBS3)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  It’s not an issue in Philadelphia’s mayoral campaign, but candidate Jim Kenney spent part of his last day on the campaign trail discussing immigration policy.
It’s a front-runners luxury to spend the closing hours of the campaign on an issue he cares about but that he, himself, acknowledges is unlikely to generate votes.
“People who are not documented or not citizens can’t vote for me. It’s not about them voting for me. It’s about them being treated like human beings,” Kenney said.

For full story go to:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hundreds Help Raise Awareness, Funds For Brain Cancer At Race For Hope Philadelphia

Hundreds Help Raise Awareness, Funds For Brain Cancer At Race For Hope Philadelphia

 KYW's Lynne Adkins and her team walk in memory of Lynne's husband, Gerry. (credit: Mike DeNardo) 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hundreds stepped out Sunday morning for the National Brain Tumor Society‘s Race for Hope Philadelphia walk and run.

The run started at Eakins Oval and looped through Fairmount Park and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Under a cloudy sky, family and friends paid tribute to those lost to brain tumors, and honored those who have fought, like survivor Chad Szapor, who was diagnosed seven years ago, at age 17.

“It feels great,” Szapor said. “when you see and show how much love people have for you when they show up for things like this.”

For full story go to:

Former Sen. Fred Thompson, had TV and film roles, dead at 73

Former Sen. Fred Thompson, had TV and film roles, dead at 73
AP Photo
FILE - In this June 2, 2007, file photo, former Sen. Fred Thompson speaks during an interview with the Associated Press prior to a fund raiser in Richmond, Va. Thompson, a folksy former Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee who appeared in feature films and television including a role on "Law & Order," died Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, his family said. He was 73.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Fred Thompson, a folksy former Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee who appeared in feature films and television including a role on "Law & Order," died Sunday, his family said.
He was 73.

Thompson, at 6-foot-6 with a booming voice, appeared in at least 20 motion pictures. His credits include "In the Line of Fire," ''The Hunt for Red October," ''Die Hard II" and "Cape Fear." By the early 1990s, Thompson said he had become bored with his 10-year stint in Hollywood and wanted to go into public service. That's when he headed back to Nashville and launched his Senate campaign. A man of many roles in life and on the screen, he was a lawyer by training and also once served as a chief minority counsel during the Senate Watergate hearings.

The family statement said Thompson died in Nashville following a recurrence of lymphoma.

"It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, father and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville," it said. "Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of ... his home."

Thompson, a lawyer, alternated between politics and acting much of his adult life. Once regarded as a rising star in the Senate, he retired from that seat when his term expired in January 2003.

"I simply do not have the heart for another six-year term," Thompson said in a statement at the time. "Serving in the Senate has been a tremendous honor, but I feel that I have other priorities that I need to attend to."

However, he returned to politics in 2007 by announcing he would seek the Republican presidential nomination. But he dropped out in January 2008 after faring poorly in the early caucuses and primaries. "I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort," Thompson said at the time.

After leaving the race, he campaigned extensively for his party's presidential nominee, John McCain, then sought support to become chairman of the Republican National Committee but quit that quest after a few months.

Thompson took stock of his life after the January 2002 death of his daughter, Elizabeth Thompson Panici, 38, following an accidental prescription drug overdose.

Thompson's rise to the Senate was atypical. He had never before held public office, but he overwhelmingly 
won a 1994 special election for Al Gore's old Senate seat after connecting with voters. In 1996 he easily won a six-year term.

Thompson's key prop was a red pickup truck that he used to crisscross the state throughout the campaign. In the end, Thompson captured 60 percent of the vote against then-Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper.

"He's got a little pizazz, he's got a sense of purpose and he's got an independent streak," Lamar Alexander said shortly after winning election to succeed Thompson in the Senate.

Alexander, the Republican senator, said Sunday that Thompson would be greatly missed: "Very few people can light up the room the way Fred Thompson did. He used his magic as a lawyer, actor, Watergate counsel, and United States senator to become one of our country's most principled and effective public servants."

The son of a car salesman, Thompson was born in Sheffield, Ala., and grew up in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., where he was a star athlete. He was 17 when he married Sarah Lindsey. The couple, who divorced in 1985, lived in public housing for a year as newlyweds.

Thompson graduated in 1964 from Memphis State University - now the University of Memphis - and earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1967. To pay for school, he worked at a bicycle plant, post office and motel.

Thompson went on to become a lawyer in Nashville. In 1969, he became an assistant U.S. attorney, then volunteered in 1972 to work on the re-election campaign of former Republican Sen. Howard Baker. A year later, Baker selected Thompson to be chief minority counsel on the committee investigating the Watergate scandal.

Afterward, Thompson returned to Tennessee and represented Marie Ragghianti, the head of the Tennessee Parole Board who was fired in 1977 after exposing a pardon-selling scheme.

Ragghianti won reinstatement and her case was made into a 1985 movie titled "Marie," based on the 1983 book "Marie: A True Story," by Peter Maas. The producers asked Thompson to play himself, and the role launched his acting career.

Thompson once called the Senate a "remarkable place" but, like Hollywood, said there was "frustration connected with it."

He said he was disappointed the Governmental Affairs Committee didn't get more time in 1997 to investigate the fund-raising practices of the 1996 presidential election.

Some thought his high-profile role as chairman of the hearings could launch a presidential bid. That did not materialize in 2000 after the hearings were dismissed as political theater.

"They ran me for a while and then they took me out of the race, and all the time I was kind of a bystander," Thompson said in 2002 about speculation over his presidential prospects two years earlier.

Nevertheless, he won praise from some for his commitment to better government.

"He has a real dedication to a lot of the nuts and bolts government reform issues that others just don't care about," Norm Ornstein, a political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said at the time.

Just before leaving the Senate, Thompson said too much time was spent on meaningless matters and partisan bickering. "On important stuff, where the interests are really dug in on both sides, it's extremely difficult to get anything done," Thompson had told AP at the time.

After retiring from the Senate, Thompson took a role on the TV show "Law & Order." In 2007, he portrayed Ulysses S. Grant in the TV movie "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee."

In June 2002, Thompson married Jeri Kehn, a political and media specialist.

After retiring from politics, Thompson hosted a conservative radio talk show between 2009 and 2011 and became a TV advertising pitchman for a reverse mortgage financial company.

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