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Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner killed in plane crash

Lewis Katz, a co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, was killed in a plane crash in Massachusetts. 

At the last minute on Saturday, Lewis Katz, a philanthropist and co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, invited Anne Leeds, a longtime friend and neighbor from Longport, N.J., to accompany him and two others on a quick day trip to Concord, Mass. They were going up to help support a nonprofit education effort.

The day before, Mr. Katz had also invited Edward G. Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania. Such spur-of-the-moment invitations from Mr. Katz were common, a function of his access to a jet and his spontaneous personality.

While Mr. Rendell could not make the trip, Ms. Leeds could, and she was ready to go within a couple of hours.
But on the way home on Saturday night, the trip ended in disaster when the plane exploded in a fireball in suburban Boston. Everyone on board — four passengers, two pilots and one cabin attendant — was killed.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here; or click here for the Inquirer's reporting.

Adaptimmune to develop early-stage cancer drug with GlaxoSmithKline

Adaptimmune, a local company Flying Kite has covered in the past, has reached a $350 million deal with GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical giant with a presence in the Navy Yard, to develop new cancer treatments.

Founded in 2008, Adaptimmune, which is privately held, is developing cancer treatments designed to strengthen a patient’s white blood cells. The company’s research arm is based in Oxford, England, and its clinical operations are based in Philadelphia.

Under the agreement, Adaptimmune could receive more than $350 million in payments from Glaxo over the next seven years. It would receive additional payments if Glaxo exercised all of its options under the deal and if certain milestones were met.


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

Can 30th Street become a hub for a 'livable' neighborhood?

Can the area around 30th Street Station be transformed into a mixed-used community? Next City investigates.

The first hurdle that the planners will have to overcome is the area’s zoning. Most of the parcels immediately adjacent to the station are zoned for industrial use only, essentially limiting their use to Drexel or Penn, since the area is too expensive for real industrial uses and the zoning also allows institutional uses. While the universities are no doubt the area’s anchors and will remain the most important employers, a truly urban neighborhood is hard to fashion out of an “eds and meds” monoculture.

Farther from the station, extending down Market Street to 34th Street and the streets farther south, the blocks are zoned for institutional use, again excluding office and residential uses not affiliated with a university or hospital.

Only in select locations — for example, on the block south of the old post office, where Brandywine is building the apartment building — are general residential and office uses allowed. This building is proof that there is a residential market in this location (and why wouldn’t there be, with the easy access downtown and to suburbs for reverse-commutes by regional rail or the highways?), and the first order of business must be changing the zoning so that developers can build housing and office space. This approach would complement the universities rather than allowing the neighborhood to be totally subsumed by them.


Original source: Next City
Read the complete story here.

GQ spends a season in Camden's Little League

GQ sent a writer into Camden to chronicle the power of youth baseball in a struggling city.

Three years ago, Camden ranked as one of the poorest cities in the country and the single deadliest, with a murder rate twelve times the national average. That was also the year that Camden, faced with a mounting deficit, decided to lay off almost half its police force. Ah shit,everyone was thinking, this is when all bloody hell breaks loose. Some drug dealers printed up T-shirts proclaiming January 2011: It's Our Time.

And Bryan Morton? He had an idea: "Let's start a Little League."

...For Bryan, baseball is a multipurpose tool: It can unify the neighborhood, and it pits the diamond against the corner. Since the dealers recruit kids at about the same age as the coaches do, Bryan's in a tug-of-war for the souls of these 12-year-olds, some of whose parents are out there slinging, too. "Look," Bryan says, "we can all agree on children, you know? That they should be free to be kids. And if Dad or Mom is at a game for a few hours a week, they're not hustling. They're at a game."

Bryan's philosophy in a nutshell: Don't let circumstances dictate your behavior. Reverse that dynamic. Fill the parks with kids and families and eventually the junkies and the dealers will drift away. Pretend that you live in a safe place and maybe it will become one.
 
Original source: GQ
Read the complete story here.

At Haverford College, drama surrounds (ex) commencement speaker

Protests at Haverford College forced the planned commencement speaker, Robert J. Birgeneau, to withdraw. Protests from the left have had similar impact at schools across the country.

Some students and faculty members at Haverford, a liberal arts college near Philadelphia, objected to the invitation to Mr. Birgeneau to speak and receive an honorary degree because, under him, the University of California police used batons to break up an Occupy protest in 2011. He first stated his support for the police, and then a few days later, saying that he was disturbed by videos of the confrontation, ordered an investigation.

Those at Haverford who objected to his being honored asked Mr. Birgeneau to apologize and to meet a list of demands, including leading an effort to train campus security forces in handling protests better; he refused.

Mr. Birgeneau bowed out a day after Smith College said that Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, had withdrawn from its commencement because of protests. Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, said this month she would not deliver the address at Rutgers University after the invitation drew objections. Last month, Brandeis University rescinded an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born activist, over her criticism of Islam.


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

The Atlantic's CityLab also highlights Mural Arts' Amtrak installation

With support from Mural Arts, Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse has tackled seven sites between 30th Street Station and North Philadelphia Station.

Using the train as a central vehicle, psychylustro is meant to be seen in motion.

This stretch of track into downtown sees 34,000 riders every day, including travelers heading to and from New York on Amtrak plus commuters on two lines of SEPTA Regional Rail and one New Jersey Transit line with service to Atlantic City.*

The installation, curator Liz Thomas says, is intended "an experience that asks people to think about this space that they hurdle through every day." The moving trains allowed Grosse to play with a wider number of variables: the viewer's perspective will change based on which direction they're traveling, how fast the train is going, and which track the train is using. The goal, Thomas says, is to create "a beautiful disruption into a daily routine."

The installation also asks travelers to think more critically about the history of this stretch of Philadelphia, which includes sections of downtown and huge swathes of formerly industrial neighborhoods. The sites include the sides of an occupied office building, an old railroad trestle, and an abandoned warehouse, which once housed a textile factory but now has trees growing up through its collapsed roof. The brilliant colors -- vibrant whites and oranges on that warehouse side -- draw attention to these contrasting pieces of Philadelphia's past.


Original source: The Atlantic's CityLab
Read the complete story here.

The Los Angeles Times looks at Philly's innovative blight management strategies

The Los Angeles Times covers our city's latest creative strategies for combatting neighborhood decay.

After decades of ignoring the blight that has spread through its neighborhoods, Philadelphia is trying to reclaim its vacant homes through aggressive initiatives designed to compel negligent owners to fix their properties or see them seized and torn down.

In just a few short years, the city has made impressive progress; experts say some of the tools used in Philadelphia may help other post-industrial cities coping with decades-long population decline and the neglected space left behind.?..

The door and window ordinance allows community groups to take over dilapidated properties and repair them. Another will establish a land bank for the city so it can begin to redistribute abandoned properties to people and groups who want to build something new.

Neighborhoods where the new strategies have been applied have seen home prices rise 31% over four years, compared with a 1% rise in comparable areas, according to a study by Ira Goldstein of the Reinvestment Fund. The initiatives increased home values by $74 million throughout Philadelphia, Goldstein said, and brought in $2.2 million more in transfer tax receipts.


Original source: The Los Angeles Times
Read the complete story here.

'America's first queer jazz festival' coming to the City of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia will host Outbeat, the country's first "queer jazz festival."

OutBeat, a four-day event that organizers are describing as the first jazz festival with a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender focus (its subtitle is America’s First Queer Jazz Festival), will be staged in Philadelphia from Sept. 18 to 21. The festival, which was announced by its sponsor, the William Way LGBT Community Center, at a news conference in Philadelphia on Wednesday, will include panel discussions and receptions as well as performances at several clubs and halls around the city.

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

Slate dubs PA 'the most linguistically rich state in the country'

A writer for Slate investigates our state's status as a "regional dialect hotbed nonpareil."
 
A typical state maintains two or three distinct, comprehensive dialects within its borders. Pennsylvania boasts five, each consisting of unique pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar elements. Of course, three of the five kind of get the shaft—sorry Erie, and no offense, Pennsylvania Dutch Country—because by far the most widely recognized Pennsylvania regional dialects are those associated with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The Philadelphia dialect features a focused avoidance of the “th” sound, the swallowing of the L in lots of words, and wooder instead of water, among a zillion other things. In Pittsburgh, it’s dahntahn for downtown, and words like nebby and jagoff and yinz. But, really, attempting to describe zany regional dialects using written words is a fool’s errand. To get some sense of how Philadelphians talk, check out this crash course clip created by Sean Monahan, who was raised in Bucks County speaking with a heavy Philly accent. Then hit the “click below” buttons on the website for these Yappin’ Yinzers dolls to get the Pittsburgh side of things, and watch this Kroll Show clip to experience a Pennsylvania dialect duel.

Original source: Slate
Read the complete story here.

Details on Philly's upcoming bike share released

B-Cycle will run Philly's upcoming bike share. Curbed Philly has some details:

According to B-Cycle's website, all of their bikes are equipped with lights in the front and back, a bell, a built-in lock, and a basket. They are also equipped with technology that tracks how many emissions each cyclist saves, and how many calories they burn.

The docking stations used by B-Cycle are solar-powered, and come equipped with a kiosk for unlocking bikes. Though the website says that a B-Cycle membership card cannot be purchased without a credit card, there will be cash payment options in Philly so that the bikes will be accessible to low income riders. Annual B-Cycle memberships in other cities cost from $30 to $80 (the least expensive memberships appear to be for students), and entitle the holder to unlimited free trips that last 30 minutes or less. Every additional half hour costs the user $4.
 

Original source: Curbed Philly
Read the complete story here.

Philly chef Michael Solomonov earns mention in trend piece on Middle Eastern flavors

Middle Eastern flavors are invading high-end kitchens, including those in Philadelphia.

Today Ms. Oliveira is one of many chefs, with and without roots in the Middle East and North Africa, who are pulling those regions’ rich and ancient culinary traditions into the limelight...

Elsewhere in the nation, chefs like Michael Solomonov in Philadelphia, Mourad Lahlou in San Francisco and Alon Shaya in New Orleans are delving into the Middle Eastern pantry. And some chefs who have no connection to the region but who embrace a global, nowhere-but-everywhere cooking style are rifling through the cupboards of Middle Eastern kitchens, then riffing on what they find there: new grains and syrups, cheeses and pickles, fresh herbs and dried beans.


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

City schools face new round of cuts

Budget issues continue to inflict pain on Philadelphia's public schools.

A $216-million budget shortfall could force Philadelphia’s public schools to make further staffing cuts next year, school officials said on Friday.

The superintendent of schools, William R. Hite Jr., said the 131,000-student district would not have the money it needed to maintain existing levels of education that he said were already "wholly insufficient" after a $304-million budget cut at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

The district, which has had chronic budget problems, laid off some 3,800 employees as a result of that cut. Although about a quarter of those employees were rehired as some funding was restored, about 2,350 jobs could be eliminated next year unless the district finds funding to bridge its new shortfall, Dr. Hite said...

The district is also looking to the private sector for financial help, but corporate or individual gifts tend to be for specific projects, not recurring revenue, he said. The district’s sale of some two dozen vacant school buildings is expected to raise $25 million by June 30, said the district’s chief financial officer, Matthew E. Stanski.


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

Check out the jaw-dropping Penn's Landing feasibility study

Last week, we wrote about the ambitious new plans fomenting for Penn's Landing and the rest of the Delaware Waterfront. Now, check out the awesome, inspiring feasibility study complete with renderings.

Original source: Delaware River Waterfront; HT PlanPhilly
Check out the whole document here.

Curbed Philly seeks new editor

The real estate-centric site Curbed Philly is hiring a new editor.

We're looking for a real estate obsessive to keep Philly apprised of all the good neighborhood news and development gossip on a daily basis. While you don't need to be a real estate expert, it helps to be completely fixated on architecture, city planning, and all the only-in-Philly weirdness that makes this place so great. Think you're up to the task?

Click through for more details.

Original source: Curbed Philly


 

The New York Times shines a light on Comcast's David Cohen

David Cohen, former chief of staff to Mayor Ed Rendell (and star of Buzz Bissinger's A Prayer for the City), takes a leading role at Comcast. The New York Times profiled this behind-the-scenes institution.

Mr. Cohen is well known in Philadelphia from his time as chief of staff to former Mayor Edward G. Rendell in the 1990s, a six-year tenure that established his reputation as a master of big-picture strategy, fine detail and just about everything in between.

"Whatever the issue is, David learns more about it than anyone, and he can keep it all in his head," Mr. Rendell says. "With me, he knew all about municipal pensions, and he knew about picking up trash — I mean the actual routes of the garbage trucks." 

...Mr. Cohen oversees Comcast’s robust lobbying operation and sets the strategies to shepherd its acquisitions past antitrust questions and other regulatory concerns. It’s a big job — and one that would fully occupy almost anyone else — because Comcast’s appetite for expansion is large, and it needs to be fed with a frequency that some find alarming...


Mr. Cohen has, as well, gotten into the weeds of Comcast’s cable and broadband customer service — a fraught subject since surveys have consistently shown that the industry in general, and Comcast in particular, are held in low regard by consumers. He has even gone on talk radio shows in Philadelphia to take calls from customers, a duty that few executives at his pay grade — Mr. Cohen pulled in just short of $30 million in compensation over the last two years — would seek.

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