Federal Officials Blame Conrail for Train Derailment

Image via NTSB

Image via NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board met today to release its report on a train derailment almost two years ago in New Jersey. The blame was placed squarely on Conrail. The NTSB says the train was allowed to attempt to cross the Paulsboro bridge despite a red light showing the rail slide locks were not engaged.

The train was allowed to proceed because Conrail was “relying on a training and qualification program that did not prepare the train crew to examine the bridge lock system,” according to the report. The NTSB also faulted the emergency response to the derailment, which caused a cloud of vinyl chloride to be released into the air. The report says state and local officials, along with Conrail, did not properly prepare first responders for the incident.

An earlier NTSB report said much of Paulsboro was sickened by the release of the dangerous petrochemical.

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You Can Now Exercise While Waiting for Your Flight at PHL

First, pop-up beer gardens. Now, pop-up gyms.

If your flight’s been delayed at Philadelphia International Airport, there’s more to do now than just browse Brookstone and Brooks Brothers. In a gym that’s been moving around the terminals this summer, there are now exercise bikes and elliptical machines! The pilot program is just for the summer, though an airport spokesman says there is an indication the bikes could become a permanent fixture.

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Ex-Sixers GM: ‘Girls in Philly Wanted to Kill Me’ When I Traded Kyle Korver

Photo | USA Today Sports, Mike DiNovo

Photo | USA Today Sports, Mike DiNovo

ESPN’s Grantland has an engaging profile of ex-Sixers guard Kyle Korver today, which speaks of the NBA sharpshooter as one of the NBA’s more underrated players. Korver played with Philadelphia from his rookie year in the 2003-04 season to Dec. 27, 2007, when he was traded to the Utah Jazz.

Here’s what’s fun: The article goes into how Korver ended up with the 76ers. The New Jersey Nets, fresh off an NBA Finals appearance, selected Korver with the 51st pick in the NBA Draft. Korver had spent four years as a sharpshooter at mid-major Creighton University. In order to pay for their summer league team, the Nets traded Korver to the Sixers for $125,000 of Comcast money. The Nets bought a new copy machine with the leftover money from the Korver trade.

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SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel on Body Cameras and Cheese Sandwiches

On Twitter, at least, SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel might be the most gregarious police officer in the city, virtually palling around with journalists and regular citizens alike. (He runs neck and neck, digitally, with Philly Police Detective Joseph Murray.) He regularly posts photos of fare-jumpers being caught by his officers, appended with the #cheesesandwich hashtag — the cheese sandwich being what they serve you as a meal in jail.

But Nestel also takes his job seriously. He recently announced a pilot program to put body cameras on his officers — a move that should cheer civil libertarians who point out that similar programs have resulted in steep drops in complaints against officers where such systems are already used.

“I’d like to see a reduction in the incidents where we have to respond to resistance. I’d like to see a reduction in the number of complaints,” he told Philly Mag recently. “And I think that this would also be a tremendous tool to help us reduce court overtime, because with audio and video evidence, offenders are going to be more likely to plead guilty and minimize the number of times that we have to send officers to court.”

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Del. Beach Trinket Shop Owner Loses First Amendment Fight

Jeremiah's via Google Street View.

Jeremiah’s via Google Street View.

The owner of Jeremiah’s, a beach trinket shop in Dewey Beach, has lost a federal lawsuit on first amendment grounds. The Delaware beach town had been fining the owner of Jeremiah’s for its “junkie” displays.

Jeremiah’s, at the corner of Dagsworthy Street and Coastal Highway in Dewey Beach, has three stories of beach goods and other shore town trinkets displayed on the outside of its building. The store began doing this in 2006; in 2008 Dewey passed an ordinance limiting the seasonal displays stores could have outside. The town says the merchandise was a distraction for drivers and could block the sidewalks.

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Expired Press Pass Lets Man Skip TSA Screening at Philly Airport

expired-press-pass-philadelphia-TSA-airportNotice to would-be terrorists: An expired City of Philadelphia press pass is apparently good enough to get you through security at Philadelphia International Airport without a lick of scrutiny.

On Tuesday morning, a Philadelphia man was flying out of Philadelphia International Airport to a Midwestern destination on business.

When he got to security at PHL, the man — a media professional — says he presented the City of Philadelphia press badge seen here. Note the expiration date of over a year ago. (We’re obscuring his face and name to protect his identity.)

Instead of putting him through the normal security screening process that the rest of us have to endure, he claims that TSA agents allowed him to use the same line used by pilots, flight attendants and TSA employees. Read more »

Driver Plunges into Delaware River Fleeing Scene of Crash

A man fleeing the scene of a car crash at Fourth and Arch streets drove his car into the Delaware River, police say. He sped down a bridge connecting the Chestnut Street Bridge to Columbus Boulevard, went over a barrier and flipped into the river. The incident happened last night at around 6 p.m.

Bystanders who live in the Pier 3 condominiums dove into the river in an attempt to rescue the man. The driver, later identified as 25-year-old Marc Oliverio, of South Philadelphia, was pronounced dead an hour later.

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Why Stephen A. Smith Hasn’t Been Fired for His Domestic Abuse Victim-Blaming

stephen-a-smith-apology-940x540

Stephen A. Smith (or “Screamin’ A,” as one of my Twitter followers calls him) gave a corporate apology at the top of ESPN’s First Take yesterday for his ridiculous domestic violence victim-blaming in relation to Ray Rice’s controversial two-game suspension resulting from an ugly incident earlier this year at Revel. It was the type of apology that we’ve all come to expect during a dust-up when a public figure who gains prominence for vocalizing a controversial opinion wants to sweep the furor under the rug. In that way, it was entirely uneventful.

It took 72 hours (he should be thanking God for small favors in the form of the weekend news cycle drag), but with a smidge less heat surrounding him, Smith delivered his contrition with standard applications of feigned revelation and self-interest. There are debates about whether or not Smith should be allowed to keep his job; those debates are not without merit, though as of this writing Smith has announced (well-timed!) plans to leave the network and head over to more irreverent pastures at SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio.

That the same hand of mercy covers Smith and Ray Rice in equal measure.

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Historian: Proclamation Naming Pa. State Gun Gets Facts Wrong

A Maryland historian and author, who used to live in Berks County, fired off an angry letter to a Lancaster newspaper recently, and it ran Monday. Patrick Hornberger — a member of the Pennsylvania Antique Gun Collectors Association, the Kentucky Rifle Association and the Arms and Armor Club — believes the recently signed proclamation naming the Pennsylvania long rifle the official state gun is riddled with errors.

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Pa. House Legislation Would Strip Welfare Benefits from Convicted Drug Dealers

Republican State Rep. Mike Regan, who lives in York County, has introduced legislation that would strip welfare benefits from those convicted of drug distribution.

House Bill 2413, which has 44 co-sponsors of both parties, was referred to the Health committee last week. Earlier this year, Regan sponsored a similar bill that stripped welfare benefits for convicted sex offenders on Megan’s Law registration lists. That bill passed the House unanimously, but the Senate has not taken action yet.

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