Friday, November 29, 2013

Two Marcellus Shale Notes

Two notes in the inbox this week regarding Marcellus Shale.

new report was released today [Nov 22nd] by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative — a group of research organizations, including the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, tracking the impacts of shale drilling.

And, from the Nov. 26th inbox:

The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition, the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in the Commonwealth, today celebrated the approval of more than $28 million in Marcellus Legacy Fund grants to support recreation and critical land and water protection efforts throughout the state. 
“The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition is pleased that funds from the Marcellus Legacy Fund will be used to support vital recreation and land and water protection efforts,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition.  “These grants will have a lasting impact on the Commonwealth by supporting projects that provide numerous benefits including protecting watersheds, mitigating risk of flooding, building and maintaining recreational trails and treating former mining sites.”  
A result of Act 13, which was signed into law in 2012, the ‘impact fee’ collects fees on natural gas drilling.  To date, the state’s impact fee has collected more than $400 million.  Forty percent of the fees collected are allocated to the Marcellus Shale Legacy Fund.  A portion of the Fund is administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) to support statewide conservation and recreation efforts.  This initial round of grants distributed more than $28 million in grants.

The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition was instrumental in ensuring that funds collected through the Marcellus Legacy Fund be made available for statewide conservation and recreation projects. 

A breakdown of the grants distributed by the Commonwealth Financing Authority is as follows: 
 ·     $5.6 million to restore streams impaired by polluted runoff in 18 counties. 
·     $16 million to support 116 greenway, trail and recreation projects throughout the state. 
·     $5.2 million to support 12 abandoned mine drainage abatement and treatment projects statewide. 
·     $700,000 to support flood mitigation projects in Blair, Bucks, Lackawanna and Northumberland counties. 
·     $225,000 to plug orphaned and abandoned wells in Allegheny and Washington counties. 

Shapiro to Netanyahu: Keep Philly Embassy Open

from the inbox:

Josh Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, is urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia open.  Recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it is considering closing the consulate.
            In a letter dated November 26, Shapiro wrote that the consulate “is critical to the continuance of the longstanding relationship between the people of Israel and our region.”  Shapiro went on to say that the consulate “is of vital importance to our respective nations’ common interests and its continued operation will serve to enhance the mutually beneficial economic and business connection between Israel and our region in Southeastern Pennsylvania.”
            In the letter, Shapiro references Netanyahu’s upbringing in Montgomery County during which the future Prime Minister graduated from Cheltenham High School.  “The Greater Philadelphia region is an economic hub for Israel, processing 25 percent of Israel’s nearly $20 billion in exports to the United States each year,” Shapiro wrote, adding that the presence of the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia is integral in that process.
            Shapiro is active is many Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in the area.  He has traveled to Israel six times, and has met Netanyahu twice.

The Other 1%

Patrick Murphy's latest post on the MSNBC site, "Why I'm Thankful for the 1%," makes this point:

I’m so thankful for the 48,000 troops still serving in harm’s way during America’s longest war in Afghanistan. They serve on our behalf _ in danger _ always a mortar shell, roadside bomb or machine-gun fire away from the ultimate sacrifice. These heroic troops join 2.5 million from this generation who answered their nation’s call – less than 1% of all Americans.

Prez O Donates Pennsylvania Turkeys (the Feathered Kind)

one paragraph from the President's press release on pardoning turkeys, noting that the White House also donates turkeys:

On a more serious note, later today, Michelle, Malia, Sasha, and I will bring a couple less fortunate turkeys to a great organization that works to help out our neighbors here in D.C. who need it most.  And I want to thank Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania, for donating those dressed birds for the fifth year in a row.  This is a reminder that this is a season to not only be thankful for the incredible blessings that we have, but also to remember the neediest and generously serve those who are not as fortunate.

Philadelphia and Gentrification Relief

from the inbox:

Council President Darrell L. Clarke on Friday urged longtime owner-occupants to check their eligibility and apply for relief designed to protect them against property tax bill hikes driven by dramatic increases in surrounding property values.
 Commonly known as Gentrification Relief, this tax assistance will be targeted to senior citizens and to homeowners in financial need. House Bill 390 was introduced by Rep. Mike O’Brien, D-Phila., in January and signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett on Wednesday. 
“I would like to thank the entire Philadelphia Delegation for shepherding the Gentrification Relief bill through the legislative process in Harrisburg and Governor Corbett for signing it into law,” Council President Clarke said. “I urge qualifying Philadelphia homeowners to take advantage of this program and to contact their Council representativesand the Office of Property Assessment for more information.” 
Last month, Council President Clarke introduced legislation that would extend the deadline for Gentrification Relief applications from Jan. 15, 2014, to Feb. 17, 2014. Council is expected to give final approval to Bill No. 130854 by the end of the year. 
“I have been concerned that longtime residents in revitalized neighborhoods could be taxed out of their homes under the Actual Value Initiative,” Rep. O’Brien said. “This relief program is an important step toward full tax fairness in Philadelphia.” 
Also on Wednesday, Governor Corbett signed legislation introduced by Rep. Cherelle Parker, leader of the Philadelphia Delegation, that would enable the City to lien properties under common ownership anywhere in Pennsylvania when one property is delinquent in Philadelphia. This additional authority would enable Philadelphia to collect delinquent taxes more effectively from property owners who reside or own properties elsewhere in the Commonwealth, and is estimated to raise an additional $30 million in revenue annually.
 House Bill 388 gives additional lien authority to all counties in Pennsylvania.

National Health Care Update from Politico

an excerpt from Mike Allen's Politico Playbook:

SIREN - "'Surprisingly large' numbers of young people enrolling in health coverage," by POLITICIO's Natalie Villacorta : "Initial numbers from several corners of the country show that nearly a quarter of new enrollees have been between 18 and 35 years of age, the demographic bubble whose general vigor and well-being is crucial to the financial stability of Obamacare's new health exchanges. They're waiting through website error messages and wading through insurance plan details in places like California, Kentucky and Washington state as well as Washington, D.C. This early in the enrollment period, with most states not yet reporting, their response is hardly definitive. And there's no federal data broken down by age. But advocates say so far, so good. ...
"The headway to date could allay fears that the old and sick will be left treading water alone in health plan risk pools. Still, the Obama administration's goal is much higher than these early levels. It's aiming for 2.7 million of its 7 million March 31 enrollment goal - more than 38 percent - to be younger people. That tracks the bigger picture: Americans 18-35 comprise about 40 percent of the 41 million uninsured people eligible for coverage. By March, a national trend will be important psychologically, but what's really going to matter is the situation in individual states, since insurance is pooled at the state level. ... The totals so far are 'surprisingly large,' said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In PA Over 200,000 Save with ACA

from the inbox:

 Seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare prescription drug plan coverage saved $8.9 billion to date on their prescription drugs thanks to the Affordable Care Act, according to new data released today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).  In Pennsylvania, 207,036 seniors and people with disabilities saved $177,144,769, or an average of $856 per beneficiary, during the first 10 months of 2013. Overall, seniors in Pennsylvania have saved $580,285,146 since passage of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, these seniors will be free to use more of their Social Security benefit cost of living adjustment on what they choose because the Medicare Part B premium will not increase in 2014, thanks to the health care law’s successful efforts to keep cost growth low.

For more information see:

A state by state savings chart is available at:

Monday, November 25, 2013

White House Christmas Tree a PA Native

excerpt from a press release:

This year’s White House Christmas Tree, which will be on display in the Blue Room, is an 18.5-foot Douglas Fir grown by Chris Botek, a second generation Christmas Tree Farmer from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, PA.  Botek is the National Christmas Tree contest’s 2010 champion and his parents, Francis and Margaret, were the 2006 contest champions.
Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm in Belvidere, NJ has won the New Jersey state Christmas tree competition nine times, and this is the first year that the farm has won NCTA’s contest. The Wyckoff farm has been family owned for six generations, since 1839, and this year four trees from the farm will be featured throughout the White House during the holiday season.

One quick historical note -- the Wyckoff family settled in New York (then New Amsterdam) in the 1600's.  [Full disclosure: my grandfather's grandmother was a Wyckoff.]

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Painter Opposes Gas Tax

from the inbox:

State Rep. Mark Painter this week voted to support families and workers by opposing legislation that would greatly increase the gas tax.

"We desperately need to increase transportation funding, but this legislation unfairly hurts residents of our district.  Many of our residents drive long distances to work due in part to the lack of public transportation options available in our district and our long distance from Philadelphia.  As a result, our residents would be unfairly burdened by the increases in the gas tax and registration fees in this bill, with little benefit to show for it," said Painter, D-Montgomery. 
"There needs to be a substantial change in the way transportation funding is allocated. We need a system that puts more emphasis on traffic counts on roadways, and less emphasis on actual road miles. The current formula unfairly favors rarely used upstate back roads, which were designated as state roads years ago, at the expense of major highways such as 422, 202, and the Schuylkill Expressway. This legislation does little to change that unfair balance as well. 
"I understand that transportation funding is a major issue facing the commonwealth, but a major transportation bill like this only comes up about once every 10 years, so we need to make sure this is done correctly or additional problems will continue for years to come," Painter said.

The gas-tax hike Painter opposes (H.B. 1060) is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett.

Pennsylvania Gun Update

one paragraph from a press release:

  Today, based on the latest available FBI data, Mayors Against Illegal Guns updated its online Fatal Gaps map of the United States showing how each state is doing, or not doing, its part to report mental health records and make sure guns cannot be purchased by felons, domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill and others who are prohibited by current law from owning firearms.  Data released last month by the FBI, reflecting record submissions as of May 2013, show that NICS remains dangerously incomplete.  While more than one million additional records were sent to the database between October 31, 2012 and May 31, 2013, 87 percent of that data was submitted by just two states – Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

SEPTA Stop Hunger Update

from the inbox:

Recent reductions in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and colder temperatures mean that more people will be turning to Philabundance and the agencies it serves to help feed their families this winter. Thanks to the generosity of SEPTA customers and employees, who contributed more than 25 tons of food — a record — during the Authority’s fifth annual “Stop Hunger at Your Station” food drive, Philabundance’s shelves are well-stocked and ready to serve those in need.

"Pray for Pennsylvania" Steering Committee

from the inbox:

 Today, the Get Covered America campaign launched the “Pray for Pennsylvania” faith steering committee, which features faith leaders from across the state coming together to help Pennsylvania’s 1.3 million uninsured find affordable coverage in the new Health Insurance Marketplace. “Pray for Pennsylvania” is the first committee of its kind for Get Covered America in Pennsylvania, and the group will focus on coordinating across faiths to ensure that every uninsured Pennsylvanians can access quality care that fits their needs and their budget.

“The faith community plays a key role in the lives of so many Pennsylvanians,” said Bill England, Pennsylvania State Director for the Get Covered America campaign. “’Pray for Pennsylvania’ represents a more focused effort by Get Covered America to engage with faith leaders to meet our mutual goals of social responsibility and health. Across the state, faith leaders are pillars in their communities and they will be critical in spreading the word about the Affordable Care Act.”
Get Covered America announced the new committee on a statewide telephone conference call with members, where they discussed ongoing outreach and engagement efforts to uninsured in their communities.  Members of the “Pray for Pennsylvania” Faith Steering Committee, include: 

•         Reverend Fred White, Kingdom Life Fellowship in Pittsburgh
•         Pastor David Mcilwaine, Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Philadelphia
•         Pastor Natalie Mitchem,  Cavalry Church in Philadelphia
•         Rabbi Ron Symons, Temple Sinai in Pittsburgh
•         Reverend Sally Jo Snyder, United Methodist Church in  Pittsburgh

Info on the organization:

Get Covered America is a national campaign of Enroll America that is focused on educating consumers about the benefits of health coverage and the new health insurance options that are available under the Affordable Care Act. With operations in ten states (AZ, FL, GA, IL, MI, NC, NJ, OH, PA, and TX), our grassroots team is powered by passionate staff and volunteers with one motivating goal: to give Americans the information they need to choose an affordable health insurance plan that’s right for them and their families.

Enroll America is the nation's leading health care enrollment coalition, bringing together community and health organizations, businesses and others to inform consumers about the new health coverage options available and how to enroll in them. It is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Epi-pen Update

Last month I wrote about the cost of epi-pens ($400.00 for a box of two, without insurance, with my insurance $10).

This week President Obama signed a bill into law which will encourage schools to keep epi-pens on hand and allow trained personnel to administer them.  Valerie Jarrett wrote about this on the White House blog:

Today in the Oval Office, President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which will encourage schools to plan for severe asthma attacks and allergic reactions, and provide millions of families with greater peace of mind.
The law makes an important change to the Children’s Asthma Treatment Grants Program and other federal asthma programs, which authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to give funding preferences to states for asthma-treatment grants if they: maintain an emergency supply of epinephrine (EpiPens), if they permit trained personnel of the school to administer epinephrine, and if they develop a plan for ensuring trained personnel are available to administer epinephrine during all hours of the school day.  

 I've always wondered why schools couldn't keep a few epi-pens on hand in case of emergency.  Not all families, especially those without insurance, may not be able to afford to give the school an epi-pen in case their child needed it.  Usually schools won't administer any medication to a child unless the family has provided it.  And they require a doctor's note each year, which means a doctor's visit.

Gillibrand to Discuss Sexual Assault in the Military

from the inbox:

On Monday’s episode of the nationally syndicated daytime talk show "Katie," airing November 20, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York speaks about sexual assault in the military and her proposal to give victims an avenue outside the chain of command for prosecuting their attackers.
"Katie" airs in national syndication. or check your local listings for times and channels.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Gettysburg Address Event at Constitution Center

As part of it's Town Hall series, the National Constitution Center is holding "Town Hall Tuesday:  The Gettysburg Address: on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at noon.  On the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, join historian and Princeton University professor Sean Wilentz, Yale Law School’s Akhil Amar, and Jeffrey Rosen of the National Constitution Center for a wide-ranging conversation about the constitutional legacy of Lincoln and the Address itself.  Admission is free but reservations are recommended.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Barry Ritholtz on Wal-Mart as Welfare Queen

Interesting article over on by Barry Ritholtz, "How McDonals and Wal-Mart Became Welfare Queens."  He writes about the large number of employees at these two companies who receive welfare and / or food stamps.

MSNBC to Show Wound Warrior Project Films

Patrick Murphy's most recent column at MSNBC, "Leaving no one behind," announced not only his veterans day special, but also a year long celebration of veterans on the network:

That’s why I’m proud MSNBC is kicking off a year-long testament to the American veteran this Sunday at the National 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. MSNBC will highlight 12 inspirational films from the Wounded Warrior Project. The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 changed the lives of so many, especially the 2.5 million veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
Many of these stories will illustrate the challenges facing this generation of veterans as they come back home. But most importantly, they demonstrate the principles of selfless service, a lesson all too often forgotten in the halls of power.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Axis Philly on Possible Female Mayoral Candidates

Carla Robinson has written an article at Axis Philly listing women who might run for mayor of Philadelphia.  Read "Why not a woman for mayor?"  I recently met Renee Cardwell Hughes and Terry Gillen; both are impressive.  I've been reading about Wendy Beetlestone, Alba Martinez, and Maria Quinones-Sanchez for years.  Any of these women, and the others mentioned in the article, would make great mayoral candidates.  It is long past time that the city seriously considered a woman for mayor.

The New 202 (State House District)

The 202nd State House District, currently represented by Mark Cohen, changed dramatically in the 2012 redistricting.  The Philadelphia district as set after the 2000 census looks like a chopped up crescent, stretching from Pennypack Park, past Ziehler Playground, and over to Broad Street.  In some places it looks like it is only a few blocks wide.

In the 2012 map it is a far more compact district, resembling a slanted map of Indiana.  Pull them up and compare.  2000 map and new 2012 map

It is a whole new ballgame in the 202nd.  Another factor in the mix is a primary challenger, Jared Solomon.  With the changed district Rep. Cohen may not be a known factor to a large percentage of his new constituents.  This could be an interesting time to live in the 202nd.

Political Donation Maps

The Sunlight Foundation has put together national maps showing political donations by county, with a variety of alternative maps.  I found the political donations per capita to be interesting.  It usually breaks down into a dollar or two per person, but, of course, that's not how donations are actually made -- it's a few people making larger donations.

The map is at:

Interesting stuff.  (h/t Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post's The Fix blog)

Monday, November 11, 2013

New Brendan Boyle Video and Website

from the inbox:

In the first video of his campaign for Congress, Brendan Boyle recounts his path from row house to state house, with stops at Notre Dame and Harvard along the way.  Boyle, who’s father continues to work as a janitor cleaning SEPTA stations and who’s mother worked for twenty five years as school crossing guard relates his improbable story.  Mrs. Boyle sadly passed away just last week.  Brendan and Kevin Boyle each ran against incumbent machine politicians, including House Speaker John Perzel, and won seats in the statehouse where Brendan has fought to make college more affordable for working and middle class families.

In his video, Boyle talks about his wide support from more than twenty local labor organizations and says the following about why he is running:
“When millionaires are paying lower tax rates than cops and firefighters, and the largest corporations on earth are getting billions in handouts - while we cut proven anti-hunger programs and talk about privatizing Medicare - something is really out of whack with where we’re heading as a country.”
Watch Boyle’s New Video
Boyle also launched a new more user friendly website that is customized for use on smart phones and tablets.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Murphy's Veterans Special

If you missed Patrick Murphy's MSNBC special on veterans, "Taking the Hill," you can watch it on video:

Friday, November 08, 2013

Transit Changes for Philly Marathon

SEPTA has a separate page on their website to track transit changes for the Philadelphia Marathon.  See for altered routes and schedules.

On to the Next: Jared Solomon in the 202nd

Jared Solomon, who has been active in political campaigns and community organizations for years, has decided to run for the 202nd state house district, in Northeast Philadelphia.  The official announcement will be made later this month, but a campaign website is up and running at:

This will be a primary challenge to State Rep. Mark Cohen (known for his considerable use of per diems, see "State Rep. Cohen 'milks system;' claims 39K in per diems," by Dennis Owens, abc27, 8/16/2002)

The campaign will be lively.  This is definitely one to watch.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Some Montco Election Highlights

Here are a few election highlights from Montgomery County:

* Ambler elected Jeanne Sorg, the town's first woman mayor
* Two Abington Township commissioner races are tied and will be settled by a coin toss
* Abington, Ambler, Bridgeport and Royersford now have Democratic majorities in local government
* Gail Weilheimer and Steve Tolliver were elected to the county's Court of Common Pleas

HHS Grants to Two PA Health Centers

from the inbox:

The U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced $1,505,483 in grant awards to support 2 new health center sites in Pennsylvania. These funds, made available by the Affordable Care Act, will help care for approximately 8,343 additional Pennsylvanians by establishing new health center service delivery sites.  Nationwide, 236 health center programs will receive approximately $150 million in grant awards to serve more than1.25 million additional patients.
Health Center New Access Point grants, listed by organization and state, are available at

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, visit  To learn more about HRSA’s Health Center Program, visit

Pennsylvania health center sites receiving the grants, and the amounts received are:

Philadelphia Fight / Philadelphia / $56,733
Project HOME / Philadelphia / $648,750

Norristown High Speed Line Service Resumes

from the inbox:

Full train service from 69th Street to Norristown Transportation Center on SEPTA’s Norristown High Speed Line will resume on Monday, November 11, 2013.  Shuttle bus service has been in effect since July 8, 2013 between Norristown Transportation Center and Bridgeport Station while SEPTA completed a four-month repair project on the Bridgeport Viaduct. 

Prez O on ENDA

from the inbox:

Statement by the President on Senate Passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013
For more than two centuries, the story of our nation has been the story of more citizens realizing the rights and freedoms that are our birthright as Americans.  Today, a bipartisan majority in the Senate took another important step in this journey by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would help end the injustice of our fellow Americans being denied a job or fired just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  Just as no one in the United States can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love.    
Today’s victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago.  In particular, I thank Majority Leader Reid, Chairman Harkin, Senators Merkley and Collins for their leadership, and Senator Kirk for speaking so eloquently in support of this legislation.  Now it’s up to the House of Representatives.  This bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities.  They recognize that our country will be more just and more prosperous when we harness the God-given talents of every individual.
One party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do.  Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it.  I urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and send it to my desk so I can sign it into law.  On that day, our nation will take another historic step toward fulfilling the founding ideals that define us as Americans.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Delco Dems Report Election Victories

David Landau, Chair of the Delaware County Democrats, sent out a post-election email.  Here is one paragraph, where he spells out Democratic victories in the county:

In Upper Darby, in an historic victory, we won the 5th and 7th ward council races, an at large council race, and three of the four school board candidates.  In Sharon Hill we won the majority on council and the mayoral race, Morton now has an elected Democratic majority and in Ridley Park, Democrats won a seat on Borough Council. In Chester, we took a majority on the Chester Upland School Board.  The Southeast Delco School Board is now under Democraticcontrol. We won new seats in Chester Township. We continue to maintain control in Radnor, Media, Swarthmore, Lansdowne, East Lansdowne, Yeadon, Darby, Darby Township, Folcroft and Chester. 

PCN Programming Over Veterans Day Weekend

from the inbox:

PCN will pay tribute to those that have bravely served our country during new “Voices of Veterans” episodes. Throughout the Veterans Day weekend, PCN will feature candid interviews with veterans from across the state beginning Friday, November 8 at 8:30 p.m.
The “Voices of Veterans” series includes the personal wartime experiences of those who served spanning from World War II through the Iraq War.  
Those scheduled to be featured:
Friday, November 8:
8:30 p.m. – Clarence Krammes of Cornwall: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Air Force, WWII 
9:30 p.m. – Dennis Bicking of Levittown: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam War
10:30 p.m. – Bud Gallow of Willow Grove: Radio Operator, U.S. Navy, WWII 
Saturday, November 9:

8:45 p.m. – Monique Munro-Harris of Ambler: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Air Force, Iraq War
9:45 p.m. – Jay Snyder of Harrisburg: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Vietnam War
11:00 p.m. – Tom Sexton of Lemoyne: CarpenterMate Third Class, U.S. Navy SeaBees, WWII
Sunday, November 10:3:00 p.m. – Richard Burton of Harrisburg: Infantry Officer, U.S. Army, Vietnam War
4:00 p.m. – Albert Willis of Philadelphia: Sergeant Major, U.S. Marine Corps, WWII
 Monday, November 11
10:00 a.m. – Peter Rossetti of Southampton: Quartermaster, Third Class, U.S. Navy, WWII
10:50 a.m. – John Wear of New Hope: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam War
12:30 p.m. – Doug Etter of Lebanon: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, Iraq War
1:20 p.m. – Ruth Fairchild of New Castle: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Operation Desert Storm
2:10 p.m. – John Church of Wayne: Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps, Iraq War
3:15 p.m. – Lloyd Dull of Lancaster: Private, U.S. Army, WWII
4:30 p.m. – Coban Shaw of Pittsburgh: E-4 Specialist, U.S. Army, Iraq War
8:30 p.m. – Donald Lewis of Dresher: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Corps, WWII
11:15 p.m. – Ron Vellner of Chalfont: Corporal, U.S. Army, Korean War 
These interviews will also be made available online during the network airing by subscribing to PCN Select at For more information about the streaming service, click here
 Since 2002, PCN has gathered more than 300 interviews with veterans from all branches of service.  For historic preservation and education use, the network has donated a majority of those veteran discussions to the National Veterans’ History Project in Washington, D.C. 

"Legitimate Rape" Comments Based On Nazi Science Experiments

Remember during the 2012 congressional elections when a few candidates made unfortunate comments about "legitimate rape"?  Ever wonder where that theory came from?  Emily Bazelon writes an interesting article at (11/06) on the origins of it, and some other related issues.  The title gives it away, "Nazi anatomy history:  How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics."  It's a chilling but fascinating look at medical history.

Monday, November 04, 2013

SEPTA Achieves ISO Certification

from the inbox:

SEPTA’s Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) at Berridge Bus Overhaul Facility and Print Shop in North Philadelphia has achieved ISO 14001:2004 certification.

The certification is more than two years in the making. SEPTA managers partnered with front-line engineering, maintenance, and construction staff to review daily shop activities, products, and services to ensure that they are conducted in a manner that provides environmental, health, and safety benefits to SEPTA employees and contractors. “This certification demonstrates SEPTA’s commitment to reducing the environmental impact of our heavy industrial practices,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey, who added “the ISO 14001:2004 certification reinforces SEPTA’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading transit agencies, and possibly makes us contenders for additional grant and funding
opportunities for which we would not have otherwise been considered for.”

In the United States, SEPTA is one of only eight transit agencies to achieve this internationally recognized certification, attained only after undergoing an independent third-party assessment process.

A specific focus was paid to the usage, storage, and disposal of environmentally sensitive materials used during the bus overhaul process. SEPTA’s bus overhaul program rebuilds more than 150 buses each year, improving the condition of each bus and extends its useful life resulting in a higher quality rider experience and lower capital costs for the Authority.

“Our workforce is committed to safe, sustainable practices not only at Berridge, but in every place we operate across the Delaware Valley”, said Casey as he unveiled a special decal that will be placed on each vehicle as it completes the overhaul process at the shop. Placed by the bus entry doors, passengers will be able to scan the decal with a mobile device which will allow them to learn more about SEPTA’s sustainability programs.

Former US Speaker of the House and VoterID

Former Speaker of the House Jim Wright couldn't get a Texas voter id card because he didn't have the proper identification.  Wright is 90 and his driver's license had expired.  His faculty id card at the local university wasn't acceptable.   He plans to go back and try again with his birth certificate. 

If he has trouble getting a voter id card imagine the problems of those who don't have his advantages. 

Read more at "Voter ID law snags former House Speaker Jim Wright," Star Telegram by Terry Evans and Anna M. Tinsley (11/02).

Coal Company Refocuses on Natural Gas

"Big coal miners shift tack on fuel," by John W Miller and Kris Maher in the Wall Street Journal (10/29, still behind a firewall) notes this, with a Pittsburgh byline:

On Monday, Consol Energy Inc., the fifth-largest U.S. coal producer, said it would sell five large mines to closely held Murray Energy Corp. in a deal valued at $3.5 billion, one of the biggest transactions in recent years in the coal patch.  

The article later notes that Consol is shifting its focus from coal to natural gas.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

CNN Report on Income Inequality

"The most unequal place in America," by John D. Sutter, is a really thought-provoking piece on the CNN website.  It focuses on income inequality in the town with the greatest income inequality in the country.  The two items that really stood out for me were these:

Money might not buy happiness but it does frequently buy options and second chances.  It is also related to educational achievement and that, along with avoiding teen parenthood, are important factors in economic stability.

The second was the chart comparing farm subsidies and food stamps.  The average recipient of a farm subsidy receives about seven times the amount of the average recipient of food stamps.


Rendell Robocalls for Castillo

Ed Rendell, former Governor of Pennsylvania, and Mayor of Philadelphia, is making robocalls for Pennsylvana Supreme Court Justice Ron Castille.  This year Castille is up for a 10 year retention vote.  However, he will have to retire in a year, reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 then.

The Inquirer had a good article on this a couple of weeks ago.  See "Castille is big name on November 5 PA vote," by Amy Worden (10/22).