PHL’s K9 Beagles: The Adorable Faces of National Security

From left: K9s Mattie, Auburn and Yoshi. Photo | Dan McQuade

From left: PHL K9s Mattie, Auburn and Yoshi. Photo | Dan McQuade

If you step off the plane at PHL after a long international flight this holiday season, there’ll be someone there waiting for you when you walk into baggage claim: An adorable, cuddly beagle.

While you’re waiting for your luggage, as many as three of these little guys could be wandering around baggage claim looking impossibly cute. But these dogs are not here to cheer you up after a weary trip. The beagles are working. They’re sniffing your luggage to see if you brought any food from overseas.

The beagles at PHL are part of Customs and Border Protection. They’re agriculture K9s. While other dogs hunt for explosives and drugs, the beagles at baggage claim are only trained to sniff out food. Travelers coming in from foreign countries are banned from bringing many foods into the U.S. Those who have food must declare it to a CBP officer. Read more »

Philly’s “Isis” Radio Station Considers Changing Its Name

iRadioPhilly logo

iRadioPhilly is a group of Internet radio stations local to the city. The streaming radio site broadcast the pope’s visit and the World Meeting of Families, and has a channel dedicated to Philly artists and talk radio.

It also has one dedicated to pop hits, aimed at women. Five years ago, iRadioPhilly came up with a name for that station. It chose Isis. Whoops. Read more »

Lehigh Professor, Wife Convicted of Defrauding NASA

A federal jury convicted a Lehigh Valley couple of defrauding the the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Yujie Ding, 53, and Yuliya Zotova, 41, are both from Center Valley, about 20 minutes south of Allentown. Ding is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Lehigh. About a year ago, Ding was first charged with wire fraud and accused of stealing $300,000 from NASA.

His wife, Zotova, was also charged. A grand jury indictment was unsealed in February. Read more »

Philly Pizza Shop Owner, Friend Told They Can’t Fly After Speaking Arabic

Photo | Facebook

Photo | Facebook

Two Philadelphians were delayed on a flight back from Chicago’s Midway Airport because a passenger was uncomfortable with them speaking Arabic, they said.

“We’re American citizens just like everybody else,” Maher Khalil told NBC 10 last night. He couldn’t be reached today at Pizza Point, the Feltonville pizza shop he owns.

Khalil, 29, and Anas Ayyad, 28, said they were profiled while attempting to board a Southwest Airlines flight back from Chicago to PHL on Wednesday night. A gate agent told them they wouldn’t be allowed to board after another passenger said she was uncomfortable flying with them after hearing the pair speaking Arabic. Khalil and Ayyad moved to Philadelphia from Palestine 15 years ago, they told NBC 10. Kahlil told Fox 29 he is a U.S. citizen. Read more »

Conservatives Contemplating Chris Christie Comeback

Christie 2016 campaign video

George Will, the longtime conservative commentator for the Washington Post, wrote a column last night saying that, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, there’s only one presidential candidate to turn to: Chris Christie.

Pitching Christie as an alternative to political neophytes Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina — and as better than, I am not kidding here, the values expressed in John Lennon’s “Imagine” — Will writes that “no candidate in the Republican field can match Christie’s combination of a prosecutor’s bearing and a governor’s executive temperament.” Will then spends most of the column bashing Trump, which he’s done consistently. Read more »

City Council Members: “Porngate” Prosecutors Should Resign

The binder of Porngate emails, available at the Supreme Court Office of Prothonotary at City Hall. | Joel Mathis

The binder of Porngate emails, available at the Supreme Court Office of Prothonotary at City Hall. | Joel Mathis

Nine members of Philadelphia City Council signed a resolution calling for the resignation of three city prosecutors involved in the Porngate email scandal. The resolution was sponsored by Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who was one of the leaders of a press conference of City Councilwomen last week.

In addition to Bass, Jannie Blackwell, Blondell Reynolds Brown, Wilson Goode Jr., William Greenlee, Kenyatta Johnson, Curtis Jones Jr., Marian Tasco, and Maria Quinones Sanchez signed on to the resolution. The full City Council will vote for it next week; with the support of that many members, it will pass.

They join State Sen. Anthony Williams, Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty and even Milton Street in calling for the jobs of city prosecutors Patrick Blessington, E. Marc Costanzo and Frank Fina. The three worked for the state when they received emails on state accounts from colleagues that many have deemed pornographic and/or offensive.

Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams has said the three have been disciplined, and ordered to undergo sensitivity training; Williams said only Fina sent such emails.

“Who conducted it? When was it conducted? What kind of training was it?” Bass told City Council today. “These are all very valid questions that the citizens of the city of Philadelphia want to have answered. And we call on our district attorney to do the right thing and tell us.”

Williams talked to Citified’s Holly Otterbein about Porngate in September. “I know Frank Fina and Pat Blessington and Marc Costanzo,” he told her. “Could they in the heart of their hearts have things I don’t know? Yeah, I don’t know what’s in the heart of everyone. But from what they demonstrated as employees here, from their work product, from people who go to lunch with them, from people reviewing their emails here, I can safely say that I think that they can operate and be productive and add to the District Attorney’s office here in Philadelphia as we try to mete out justice for everybody.”

In state-level developments in the porngate scandal, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin called for the Judicial Conduct Board to wrap up its investigation and forward the case directly to the Court of Judicial Discipline. (JCB investigates ethics violations and files charges; CJD decides cult or innocence, and imposes punishment.)

Eakin was the “John Smith” who received pornographic and offensive emails. After the Daily News reported he was a friend who helped out Eakin’s re-election bid, JCB chief counsel Robert Graci stepped aside from the investigation.

“In an effort to alleviate any mistrust of the process, I have asked the Judicial Conduct Board to forgo further deliberation of this matter, and remove the matter to the Court of Judicial Discipline immediately,” Eakin said in a statement. “The Board’s process is set forth in the Constitution and involves confidentiality, which has led to unfortunate and wholly misguided accusations against the integrity of its process, as well as the integrity of the Board’s members and staff.

“The CJD, however, is not bound by the same strictures and allows a fuller airing of the facts before a dispassionate body, which will have the opportunity to express without hyperbole the reasoning behind whatever result the Court may reach. It is my fervent hope that advancing the Constitutional procedure will in the end assure public confidence in the process, and its result.”

Pa. House Speaker Has ‘Boehner-Like Breakdown’ Over Medical Marijuana

Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, speaks Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.

Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, speaks Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.

A poll in June showed 87 percent of Pennsylvania registered voters support medical marijuana. So most of the state is OK with marijuana use if a doctor recommends it. But some people against medical marijuana use are really against it.

Take Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai. According to Jan Murphy in The Patriot-News, medical marijuana brought Turzai to tears. A source tells her he had a “John Boehner-like breakdown,” referencing the former Speaker of the House (federal version) who is known for crying. Read more »

These Texts from Camden Corrections Officers Are Incredibly Racist



The Courier-Post made an open records request recently, asking for the text messages that got nine corrections officers dismissed at the Camden County Jail. After some wrangling in court, the newspaper finally got the messages. Yikes.

As Jim Walsh details in a report today, the texts are incredibly racist. The n-word flows freely. One officer sent a text message saying a black Philadelphia Eagle “should be tied to a bumper and dragged.” One officer, during a conversation about New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio for some reason, said “Don’t forget his wife is a colored.” Texts called the African-American warden of the jail, David Owens, “HNIC.” That doesn’t stand for Hockey Night in Canada. Read more »

The Sixers Tried to Play with Six Men on the Court Last Night

Sixers - six players

The Sixers played with six players last night. Brett Brown wasn’t happy about it. (Images via Comcast SportsNet)

The Sixers were embarrassed last night. They turned it over 31 times. Our own Derek Bodner wrote that last night’s 112-85 loss to Indiana “may be as low as any point of the rebuild.” The Sixers are 0-12.

But let it be said that the Sixers’ last three seasons, while often depressing, have occasionally been hilarious. For example, last night the Sixers got a technical foul for having six players on the court. Out of a timeout, five players walked out onto the court. Then, just as play was about to resume, Jahlil Okafor followed. The refs called a tech on coach Brett Brown before play started. Brown reacted accordingly. Read more »

Porn Star Sues Josh Duggar for Alleged Assault in Philadelphia


In a lawsuit filed today in Philadelphia, adult actress Danica Dillon alleges that she “felt as if she were being raped” by Josh Duggar after a March appearance at a Center City strip club.

Philly attorney Marc J. Frumer filed suit today on behalf of Dillon, who has starred in such films as This Ain’t Avatar XXX, among many other titles. Dillion first told her story to In Touch Weekly in August.

Josh, the oldest of the Duggar children, starred with his parents and siblings on the TLC TV show 19 Kids and Counting from its debut in 2008. The show was canceled this May after In Touch obtained a police report in which Josh’s father, Jim Bob Duggar, said Josh had confessed to molesting five underage girls when he was a young teenager. He later said he “acted inexcusably, for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret.”

He was later revealed to have a paid Ashley Madison account after that website’s database was breached, and subsequently went to rehab.

The lawsuit alleges that Duggar first met Dillon during one of her performances at The Gold Club, off 15th Street in Center City, in early March. “He walked into the Gold Club like a normal patron and said he’d been a fan for a long time and has watched my career grow — he even said from before my boob job until recently — and that he loved watching my very first scene on [an adult website],” Dillon told In Touch earlier this year. “Then it got creepy.” The suit says Duggar paid $600 for lap dances at the Gold Club. Read more »

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