The interim newsletter writer’s baby arrived a few weeks early, so you got me. But starting tomorrow, our new newsletter editor, Aubrey Nagle, is logging in. So you are in good hands for the foreseeable future. For today, no matter whose hands are on it, there’s not great news to share. At least 26 people were slain in a Texas church shooting, and while the Eagles are on a roll, the weather is up and down. But don’t worry: Aubrey will be here to walk you through the latest developments the rest of the way. Me? I’m going back to bed.
If you like what you’re reading, it’s free to sign up to get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday. I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and feedback, so please email me, tweet me @tommyrowan, or reach our social team on Facebook.
— Tommy Rowan
A gunman dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault rifle opened fire inside a small South Texas church, killing 26 people in an attack that claimed tight-knit neighbors and multiple family members ranging in age from 5 to 72 years old.
Once the shooting started Sunday at the First Baptist Church, the place residents called the center of life in Sutherland Springs, there was likely “no way” for congregants to escape, said Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. Officials said about 20 others were wounded.
“He just walked down the center aisle, turned around and my understanding was shooting on his way back out,” said Tackitt, who said the gunman also carried a handgun but that he didn’t know if it was fired. Tackitt described the scene as “terrible.”
Will Bunch wrote this column last week. It’s eerily and frustratingly prescient: Why a story of random terror barely resonates with Americans today.
It keeps getting better for the Eagles. Whenever it seems they’ve played their best game, they surpass it. Whenever there’s an injury that could slow the Eagles, they overcome it. And whenever they’re hailed as legitimate contenders, they validate it, writes Zach Berman.
They strutted to the locker room at Lincoln Financial Field after a 51-23 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday screaming “8-1,” the record of the best team in the NFL. The Eagles remain on pace with the 2004 team that went to the Super Bowl. They already topped their seven-win finish from last season, and they enter the bye week on a seven-game winning streak after sweeping a three-game homestand. With the way they played Sunday, it’s fair to wonder how the Eagles could possibly play better — and just how good they can become.
While 15 or so followers of Father Divine still live on his estate Woodmont in Gladwyne, his International Peace Mission movement is almost forgotten.
Now, they’re reaching out to revive the legacy of Divine, a civil rights leader, religious icon and self-proclaimed god figure who once had millions of followers and a massive estate including properties all over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
They allowed Lower Merion-based documentarian Lenny Feinberg (The Art of the Steal, Black and White and Dead All Over) to come and shoot footage on Woodmont, and they recently opened a new library and museum dedicated to Divine’s archives.
What you need to know today
- Stephanie Mountcastle Claiborne runs a travel agency from her Southwest Philly home. At least 12 customers have sued her, alleging she scammed them. But she has not been charged with a crime and remains in business. Plaintiffs who have won judgments against here are still waiting for their money. Mensah Dean looks at how difficult it can be for the average person to get relief in such situations.
- Some portion of Pennsylvania’s 8.4 million registered voters will cast a ballot in Tuesday’s general election. How many of those registrations are held by immigrants in this country legally but ineligible to vote because they are not U.S. citizens? The Pennsylvania Department of State either does not know or will not say.
- Recap: Opinions and hot takes on the future of the Frank Rizzo statue, including a look back at the debate and how we got here, as well as comments from the sculptor, who’s not happy.
- Republicans spent an entire summer trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. When that failed, President Trump tried to dismantle parts of the law himself with executive orders. The Children’s Health Insurance Program still isn’t funded for next year. And yet, the ACA is still the law of the land — and the enrollment period to sign up for it started this week. Aubrey Whelan shadowed health navigators at the Free Library last week as they helped people get ACA insurance — and asks how they convince people to sign up for a program that may not be around much longer.
- The state Department of Environmental Protection confirms that its own testing, prompted by an Inquirer/Daily News investigation, found unacceptable levels of lead spread over the footprint of a former lead smelter.
- Delaware County never has been called a paragon of governmental competence. One thing it doesn’t have is a health department, unlike its neighbors. New Jersey’s 21 counties all have health departments and every municipality is required to have them. One consequence for Delaware County is that the county misses out on federal health funding. Residents voted down the creation of a health department in the ’60s. Democrats are making an issue of this in hopes of breaking a perpetual jinx in winning county elections.
Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly
We want to see what our community looks like through your eyes. Show us the park that your family walks through every weekend with the dog, the block party in your neighborhood or the historic stretch you see every morning on your commute to work.
- Oops. About 29 years ago Philadelphia repainted one of its most famous statues the wrong color. The LOVE statue, currently getting spruced up while the park undergoes renovations, was coated in red, green and a baby-blue. Turns out, Robert Indiana painted it red, green and purple back in 1976. “We think maybe the color had faded so it looked blue?” said Margot Berg, public art director. We try to track down anything more on how this happened and why Indiana, who visited the city in 1995, didn’t say anything. Or did he?
- Winery dogs that welcome and hang out with guests are becoming almost as ubiquitous as vines at wineries these days. And as form may be following function, the trend is becoming so de rigueur that it’s showing up in everything from the name of a band out of New York City, a series of new coffee-table books featuring stunning photos of wineries and their dogs in California, Oregon and New York state, to the Working Dog Winery in Robbinsville, N.J. And in South Jersey, as the wine industry continues to burgeon, wineries with dogs are becoming quite common, not only inviting you to stop by and meet their Fido but also to BYOP (bring your own to pet) to their dog friendly tasting rooms and events.
- If this story doesn’t get you to use those antibacterial wipes at grocery store entrances, nothing will. The California-based ReuseThisBag.com decided to celebrate its 10th anniversary of making “green” grocery bags, by running around to four different types of grocery stores swabbing for bacteria. It’s an odd choice considering most companies would have just popped for bagels and coffee but, whatever.
- Airbnb room rentals are growing in Philadelphia, with 3,000 listings available on any day in the metro area, up from 700 at the end of 2014 for private rooms, apartments, or homes. The listings account for 14 percent of the downtown hotel supply. Hotel rooms are in greater supply, too. Four hotels with 600 rooms have opened in Center City and University City this year, and three or four more hotels will open before early 2019.
- Million-dollar homes in West Philly? A new hot neighborhood? The latest on Philadelphia’s housing market.
- Donald Cairns from Parkesburg, named 2017 Farmer of the Year by the Chester County Agricultural Development Council, is committed to preserving his owned and leased 1,650 acres of wheat, corn and soy while helping two dozen local families preserve their farms.
“What we don’t know is where the money will come from.” — Writes our editorial board, calling Mayor Kenney’s plan to save Philly schools as surprising, and gutsy.
- After Trump’s victory one year ago, Democrats promised things were going to be different. Instead, writes Will Bunch, it is the same never-ending feuds, weak candidates and stale ideas.
- A seismic shift is on the verge of taking place in this country, writes Daisy Cruz, the Mid-Atlantic district leader for 32BJ SEIU, the largest property services union. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will expire next week for people who fled war-torn and environmental distressed countries such as Honduras, Nicaragua and in the coming weeks, Haiti and El Salvador.
What we’re reading
- Sex, Spies, and the National Anthem: How one of the world’s top conductors became ensnared in a WWI-era scandal. [Boston Globe]
- How TripAdvisor deleted bad reviews: The travel forum removed warnings about rapes and injuries at Mexico resorts, tourists say. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
- The Convert: The story of Tania Joya, the ex-wife of a jihadist from Texas. [Texas Monthly]
- ‘I Forgot My Pin.’ How it feels to lose $30,000 in Bitcoin. [Wired]
- Gunpowder, treason and plot: The story behind Bonfire Night and Guy Fawkes. [The London Telegraph]