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New tools for detecting cancer come out of Thomas Jefferson

New blood tests -- or "liquid biopsies" -- are making the cancer detection process more painless.

Telltale traces of a tumor are often present in the blood. These traces -- either intact cancer cells or fragments of tumor DNA -- are present in minuscule amounts, but numerous companies are now coming to market with sophisticated tests that can detect and analyze them.

While the usefulness of the tests still needs to be proved, proponents say that because liquid biopsies are not invasive, they can be easier to repeat periodically, potentially tracking the disease as it evolves and allowing treatments to be adjusted accordingly...

"You will have a chance to identify a treatment sometimes and sometimes not," said Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli, director of the breast care center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, who is treating Ms. Lewis and is a leading expert on liquid biopsies. Still, he said, "you are certainly much more advanced than going blindly." 


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Qatar Airways comes to Philadelphia International Airport

Qatar Airways has started daily service out of PHL.

Qatar Airways launched service to Philadelphia on Wednesday, kicking off daily round-trip service to its hub in Doha.
Philadelphia becomes the carrier's fifth city in the United States, joining New York JFK, Washington Dulles, Chicago O'Hare and Houston Bush Intercontinental.

"This is a huge deal for us," Mark Gale, CEO of Philadelphia International, says to CBS Philadelphia. "Tied with the merger of US Airways and American Airlines and this airport becoming a oneworld Alliance hub, an East Coast gateway. We think there's just a tremendous amount of positive impact."

With the debut of its Doha flights, Qatar Airways becomes the first new foreign-flag carrier start service to Philadelphia since Swissair in 1990, Gale adds to The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Original source: USA Today
Read the complete story here.

Redefining 'elevator music' as a community booster

Inspired by the development of Muzak, Artist Yowei Shaw, a freelance public radio reporter and producer, has been working on "elevator music" that actually improves the community.

Shaw has been grappling with questions of engaging listeners in public spaces as part of her residency with the Philadelphia-based Asian Arts Initiative's Social Practice Lab. Muzak's social engineering history, she says, gave her an idea: "What if we could make our own kind of elevator music, but do it with pro-social intentions, to promote community?"

And so her project, Really Good Elevator Music, was born. Shaw asked six local musicians from Philly's Chinatown North/Callowhill neighborhood to produce tracks that would help "foster community" in the area. The result is the 13 track album of "really good elevator music," which is playing in the elevators of the nearby, mixed-use Wolf Building for the month of March.


Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia's population continues to rise

According to recently-released census data, Philadelphia's population continues to rise -- though the rate has slowed slightly.

The city's population as of July 1, 2013, stood at an estimated 1,553,165 people, an increase of 4,518 residents, or 0.29 percent from the previous year. It marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for the city, according to the Census Bureau’s population estimates. So the turnaround continues, but not as dramatically.

Philadelphia saw steep declines in the latter part of the 20th century as it continued to struggle with the loss of its industrial base. That trend continued into the new millennium. Indeed, the city’s population declined every year between 2000 and 2006, losing nearly 26,000 residents during the span. But since 2006, the city has added more than 64,000 people.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

The city simplifies rules for farmers' markets

PlanPhilly reports on changes to how the city regulates farmers' markets.

Last week City Council approved changes that eliminate the farmers’ market licensing fee, simplify the rules for operating a market and require a simplified registration with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health...

“There’s been a real growth in farmers’ markets in recent years, and so these rules were kind of updated to reflect their popularity, and folks in public health have come to view farmers’ markets as good sources of fruits and vegetables for people, so the code kind of reflects the changing times,” said Nicky Uy, senior associate of the farmers’ market program at The Food Trust, which operates 25 farmers markets in Philadelphia and has plans to open four more this year.

 
Original source: PlanPhilly
Read the complete story here.

Citizens Bank named one of the best ballparks for craft beer

The Phillies' home stadium came in No. 6 in a list of the country's best ballparks for craft beer. (In fact, a local microbrew will run you the same cost as a Miller Lite.)

It comes as no surprise that two Pennsylvania cities (the only two with major league teams) made it into the top five. The state is well represented by a number of great breweries and both stadiums felt it only right to serve that amazing beer. At Citizens Bank, Phillies fans drink beer from Tröegs Brewing, Victory Brewing, Flying Fish (in nearby New Jersey), Sly Fox, Yards Brewery, Prism Brewing, and Philadelphia Brewing. The list continues with several out-of-state breweries, like Goose Island, Long Trail, Otter Creek, Allagash, Anchor, Dogfish Head, Lagunitas, Ommegang, Samuel Adams, 21st Amendment, Oskar Blues, and Sierra Nevada.

Original source: The Daily Meal
Read the complete list here.

Drop in traffic on local highways speaks to broader societal changes

A drop in traffic on local highways indicates a change of habits in the metro area -- and could lead to a changes for infrastructure planners.

Before beginning a $2.5 billion project to widen the New Jersey Turnpike, turnpike officials said the construction was necessary to reduce existing congestion and to cope with future traffic.

"Turnpike traffic is on the rise," the state Turnpike Authority said in its justification for the project. "By 2032 northbound traffic volume is expected to increase by nearly 68 percent [above 2005 levels]; southbound traffic is forecasted to increase by 92 percent."

Now, one-third of the way through that 27-year forecast, turnpike traffic is actually about 10 percent lower than it was in 2005...

"The millennials are really changing the world dramatically," Hughes said. "We have a younger generation that is driving less and doesn't want to live in Valley Forge. They want to live in Center City Philadelphia."

"We had a 50-year period of unrestricted suburbanization, and now there's a dramatic shift."

Cars and driving are less important to young adults, who find that trains and buses allow them to work and socialize on mobile electronic devices, he said. That may mean fewer cars on future roads.

"Nobody was really anticipating this," Hughes said. "The models have to be recalibrated."

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.


A Vancouver Sun writer falls for the City of Brotherly Love

A travel writer for the Vancouver Sun is surprised to find himself "smitten" with Philadelphia. 

It is a city that has taken me by surprise and made me happier than I imagined with its innate spirit of creativity, inventiveness, progressive thinking and generosity. I love, love, love its unswerving focus on freedom and tolerance. I think it is a city that deserves more attention...

When I came to Philly for the first time to see the flower show, which is an amazing work in itself, I was not expecting to be dazzled also by the quirkier side of the city’s personality, such as walking into the shoe department at Macy’s and finding the world’s biggest pipe organ or the Magic Garden of Isaiah Zagar, a whimsical mosaic garden built on a back street, composed out of tens of thousands of pieces of found art and ceramics.


Original source: The Vancouver Sun
Read the complete story here.




Layover Lift: The Free Library opens outpost at the airport

Bored travelers now have an exciting new distraction -- the Free Library has come to Philadelphia International airport.

The Free Library of Philadelphia recently opened an outpost in the Philadelphia International Airport in the form of a book-themed lounge with free Wi-Fi access to the library’s digital catalog.

Passengers are encouraged to relax in the reading room, in the concourse between the D and E terminals, and download books or author podcasts from the library’s collection of nearly 30,000 titles.

"We brought our high-speed line out to the airport in that little area. That Internet connectivity is extraordinarily robust, it matches what we have in the library," said Siobhan Reardon, president and director of the Free Library.

The idea was inspired in part by an especially snowy winter, she said.

"We were having extensive blizzards here in Philadelphia, and we knew that there were thousands of people camping in the airport," Ms. Reardon said. "We thought, 'What if we put a library in?'"


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Public transit use at highest level since 1956

According to the New York Times, ridership on public transit is higher than its been in a generation.

More Americans used buses, trains and subways in 2013 than in any year since 1956 as service improved, local economies grew and travelers increasingly sought alternatives to the automobile for trips within metropolitan areas, the American Public Transportation Association said in a report released on Monday.

The trade group said in its annual report that 10.65 billion passenger trips were taken on transit systems during the year, surpassing the post-1950s peak of 10.59 million in 2008, when gas prices rose to $4 to $5 a gallon.

The ridership in 2013, when gas prices were lower than in 2008, undermines the conventional wisdom that transit use rises when those prices exceed a certain threshold, and suggests that other forces are bolstering enthusiasm for public transportation, said Michael Melaniphy, the president of the association.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

High tech gadgets improve quality of life for urban dwellers

New high-tech solutions are changing the way renters and homeowners interact with their environments.

In San Francisco, a homeowner gave his house a Twitter account that posts an update when there is unanticipated movement on the first floor, and welcomes him home when he walks through the door. A tech-savvy renter in Philadelphia programmed a gadget to chart how often the temperature in his apartment changed, and proved to his incredulous landlord that the air-conditioner was not, in fact, functional...

Still, it seems that as long as consumers are on the winning end of the cost-benefit analysis, the Internet of Things will continue to bulldoze its way into America’s living rooms. Especially if the rest of us can make the technology work as well for us as it did for Thomas Murray, a tech-savvy designer who tinkered his way into a brand-new apartment.

Mr. Murray, 34, configured a rubber box filled with sensors to take the temperature in his home regularly, record the results on an online chart...For weeks he and his wife, Heather, watched as the chart zigged and zagged through temperatures in the low 80s and back down. The landlord sent maintenance workers in by the droves. But every time they declared victory, Mr. Murray showed them a chart bearing unequivocal proof that the apartment was still an inferno.

Eventually, the landlord gave up, and moved the couple into the apartment down the hall, which was almost twice as big as their old place, didn’t cost any more, and had a working air-conditioner to boot.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

2014's greatest battle: Fox 29 weatherman versus the snowplow

An epic moment between one Philadelphia man and one plow goes viral. Click here for all the GIF-goodness.

Original source: Fox 29 (via The Atlantic Cities)


Hidden City tackles the 'complicated' CHOP expansion

Hidden City takes an in-depth look at CHOP's expansion to the eastern banks of the Schuylkill.

Doug Carney, CHOP’s senior vice president of facilities, said his hopes were that CHOP would continue to “be attractive to the world-class researchers we compete for.”
 
Carney’s invocation of “world-class,” however, left an opening for those in the audience unhappy with CHOP’s plan for a 23-story, half-a-million-square-foot tower right next to the low-rise neighborhoods of Graduate Hospital and the Devil’s Pocket, which would bring 1,000 CHOP researchers to the site each day. (Note that this is not going to be a place for patient care, as with CHOP’s complex across the river, but an office building for research.) “Is it world-class,” a follow-up questioner asked the CHOP team, “to drive 76 then take a ramp into a parking garage?”

It doesn’t seem that CHOP’s institutional ambitions and the city’s ideal planning needs will coalesce. But CHOP, which is currently undertaking a remarkable amount of expansion, has goodwill on its side -- it is, after all, devoted to the care of children -- as well as, frankly, considerable leverage to do what it wants. The Graduate Hospital Area project serves as a good insight into CHOP’s role in the city and illustrates the influence it wields.


Original source: Hidden City Philadelphia
Read the complete story here.

Al Jazeera looks at transportation funding via SEPTA

Flying Kite contributor Jake Blumgart writes about transportation funding struggles in Al Jazeera, using SEPTA as a prime example.

In late November, after two no votes, a transportation bill scraped through the state legislature. It allows for baseline repairs and vehicle replacement, including, finally, trolleys that are accessible for handicapped riders. SEPTA pleaded for $454 million in 2014, with increases to follow. Instead, the bill will ramp up to giving the agency $345 million annually, an amount that will not be reached until 2018. The message from Harrisburg was clear: Preservation, not expansion, is the name of the game.

Philadelphia’s brush with disaster is typical of the perpetual crisis of public transit in the United States. Ridership levels spiked during and after the recession, but local and state budgets were forcibly contracted, forcing almost 80 percent of the nation’s transit systems to raise fares or cut back operations. In 2012, Boston suffered fare increases and service cuts, and ridership fell, and Pittsburgh faced a transit crisis similar to Philadelphia’s. In 2013, Detroit lost $7 million in funding for its buses.


Original source: Al Jazeera
Read the complete story here.



SEPTA mulls extending subway service to 3 a.m. on weekends

SEPTA is considering a return to late-night service on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines.

Because of increasing nightlife and residential activity in Center City, SEPTA may continue service after midnight, when subways now are replaced by "night owl" buses, general manager Joseph Casey said.

The service might continue until 3 a.m., officials said. Initially, it would be limited to Friday and Saturday nights, in a pilot program to test the response.

Chief financial officer Richard Burnfield said his staff was still assessing the costs - for security, operators, cashiers, and maintenance - to determine if a resumption of some late-night subway service would be included in the agency's proposed budget that will be released next month.

 
SEPTA halted late-night subway service in the early 1990s because of security and cost concerns. About 3,600 riders a day were forced to shift to nighttime buses.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

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