Good morning, Philly. Unfortunately all that rain isn’t over yet; there’s a flood watch in our region and the forecast is wet through Saturday. But while you’re stuck inside, may I recommend opening up the last installment of our Toxic City: Sick Schools series? Our reporters already explored how lead, asbestos and mold are making children sick in Philly classrooms. Now they’ve uncovered how bad repair jobs often made things worse, when something was done at all. It’s another important, though truly devastating, report on the state of our schools. Don’t sleep on it.
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One January day in his second-grade class at Loesche Elementary, Lucas Sims fell ill from carbon monoxide poisoning. The culprit? A portable generator construction workers were using while repairing the school’s roof.
As part of the latest installment in our “Toxic City” series, reporters found that the School District of Philadelphia can take months or even years to address reported environmental hazards making kids sick at school. And even when it gets to repairs, its in-house workers and contractors often create more problems with shoddy work.
Catch up on Toxic City: Sick Schools
- Part 1: Philly kids face dangerous, ‘frightening’ conditions in schools
- Part 2: Dangerous asbestos levels could pose risks to students, teachers in Philadelphia schools
- Concerned about your local school? Use our checkup tool to see how healthy your classrooms are.
For weeks last summer, the region was transfixed by the disappearances and, as was later discovered, murders of four young Bucks County men.
When the men’s bodies were found on a Solebury Township farm owned by the parents of Cosmo DiNardo, the case began to unravel. Nearly a year later, DiNardo pleaded guilty to their murders Wednesday and was sentenced to life in prison. He is said to have lured them to the property to sell them marijuana.
DiNardo’s cousin and accused co-conspirator, Sean Kratz, rejected a plea deal and opted instead for a trial.
Philadelphia prison officials do not use the term “solitary confinement,” but more than 11 percent of inmates in city jails are currently in segregation. That typically means they spend at least 23 hours a day locked in a cell.
Nationwide, that statistic is just 2.7 percent. The U.N. has called solitary terms longer than 15 days “torture”and many in Philadelphia are sentenced to 15, 30, or even 60 days of segregation.
Experts say it can be particularly harmful for young people. So why have Philly jails increased the practice among juveniles?
What you need to know today
- The former president of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at Temple University has been charged with attempted rape and statutory sexual assault. Temple suspended the fraternity last month amid an investigation into reports of sexual assault.
- Dontia Patterson, a man sentenced to life in prison who spent 11 years behind bars, was cleared of all charges Wednesday after the District Attorney’s Office asserted his case was not investigated or prosecuted correctly.
- George Hopkins, the former longtime director of Allentown’s renowned Cadets drum corps, is now the target of a criminal investigation in Lehigh County after 11 women accused him of sexual harassment or assault.
- In what one organizer calls an “unprecedented” move (and what is surely a logistical nightmare), the Stotesbury Cup Regatta is moving from the Schuylkill to the Cooper River in Camden County, thanks to this weekend’s weather forecast.
- The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting for those who observe the Islamic faith, starts this week. But to determine exactly when to begin, local Muslim leaders had to check with the moon, and the stormy weather didn’t make it easy.
- Any day now, the Supreme Court will rule on whether employees can be barred from filing class-action lawsuits against their employers. A few recent arbitration cases explain what any changes could mean for workers.
Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly
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- Gather ’round, anglophiles, the royal wedding is this Saturday. If you want to get up bright and early for the 7 a.m. ceremony, you can watch it on TV (along with several related specials) or go out for mimosas and pastries at Philly bars celebrating the occasion. Staying home? You can even make your own version of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding cake. Cheerio!
- The question must be asked: yanny or laurel? Reporter Tom Avril, with his endless curiosity, dug up the scientific reason the internet went nuts over one clip of audio.
- Dozens of celebrities are headed this way for Philadelphia’s 16th Wizard World Comic Con, which starts today. Keep an eye out for Justice League‘s Jason Momoa and Ray Fisher, Game of Thrones‘ Natalie Dormer and more.
- Downtown Camden’s formerly grim food desert is making progress with pop-up lunch spots, bakeries, and cafes. But is local businesses booming enough to keep the scene afloat?
- Bloody floors, expired baby food, moldy tomatoes, and mouse droppings are not what customers want in a restaurant. That’s why the city closed these Philadelphia eateries this month.
- Well, look at that: Sixers dynamic duo Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are finalists for NBA awards. Yes, one of them has “rookie” in the title.
“Aspiring hair braiders must complete 1,200 hours of approved instruction in cosmetology and hairstyling. Not one of those 1,200 hours includes training in hair braiding.“ — Economics professor Dr. Edward Timmons on why new bills introduced to deregulate hair braiding in New Jersey would benefit entrepreneurs.
- Tuesday’s extraordinary primary day was a wake-up call to the old boys as four Pennsylvania women bested their opponents to run for congressional seats this November, writes columnist Maria Panaritis.
- Like it or not, Cheryl Bettigole, M.D., of Get Healthy Philly writes, research shows the soda tax may be a huge health win for Philadelphians.
What we’re reading
- Last month the Pennsylvania House passed a bill that would ban abortions in cases where there’s a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Gov. Tom Wolf said he would veto the measure if it reaches his desk but, as WHYY reports, it’s already divided the special needs community.
- Philadelphia Magazine’s latest “I Love My Job” column is especially poignant this week. In light of another cyclist death, bike messenger Joe Cox wishes Philly drivers would care more about the cyclists they share the road with.
- Snail mucin — yes, the slime on snails — is a major trend in beauty products right now. In response, the Outline has probed whether harvesting the slime is ethical.
- Whether you follow the royal wedding or not, you’re bound to see photos of the funny and funky hats guests will don to the ceremony. Get the scoop on how the colorful toppers are made via Fast Company.
- It’s almost grilling season! Ok, we need drier weather first. But when we have it, you might want to try out food writer Mark Bittman’s eight new grilling techniques. Warning: it will make you hungry.
Your Daily Dose of | Grease
This weekend, locals can
train for next year’s Super Bowl victory try their hands (and feet) at legally climbing a greased pole during the Italian Market Festival.