UPDATE: Newspaper Journos Agree to Temporary Contract Extension

Updated with comment from the Newspaper Guild.

A possible strike by Philadelphia’s newspaper journalists has been averted, for at least a month: The union that represents them and Philadelphia Media Network, the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, have agreed to extend their expiring contract to June 27. The contract had been set to expire Saturday night.

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Temple Physics Chair Charged With Passing Tech to China

Xiaoxing Xi

Xiaoxing Xi

Xiaoxing Xi, the physics department chair at Temple University, has been charged by federal prosecutors with passing semiconductor technology back to his native China.

The indictment (see the full document below) alleges Xi — a naturalized U.S. citizen — went to work for a U.S. company in 2002 and 2003, obtaining access to a device that speeds the growth of superconductor film. He later used a U.S. Defense Department research grant to try to purchase the device. The unidentified company licensed the device to him after he signed a document promising not to reverse engineer, reproduce, or sell copies of that device to any third parties.

Instead, according to the indictment: Read more »

PHOTO: Philadelphia Newspaper Strike a Real Possibility

See updates below with PMN’s memorandum to journalists, and the guild’s commentary on that memo.

[Original] We’re still waiting to hear back on the progress of today’s scheduled negotiations between the Philadelphia Media Network and the Newspaper Guild, but we received some photographic evidence this afternoon that the guild is serious about its intent to call a strike authorization vote next week:

philadelphia-newspaper-strike-940x540

That was the scene this afternoon inside 8th and Market, where Philadelphia Media Network maintains the newsrooms of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com. The guild represents journalists at those outlets. Our tipster was clear: No strike has been called as yet. But the signs have been printed. Read more »

Report: Philly Public School Graduation Rates Rising

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.05.16 AM

Source: Project U-Turn

Nearly two thirds of ninth-graders entering Philadelphia public high schools in the 2008-2009 school year graduated on time, a new study says — the greatest percentage of graduates in more than a decade of close study.

The report from Project U-Turn shows that 64 percent of 2008’s ninth-graders graduated from high school within four years — up from a low of 43 percent of 2000-01’s ninth-graders.

“This report shows that Philadelphia public schools are graduating considerably more students than in the past,” the study’s authors concluded. “More can be done, however, to ensure that those being left behind receive the support needed before they drop out.” Read more »

Engineer’s Cellphone Examined in Amtrak Accident

Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. |Photo by Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. |Photo by Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

Investigators are trying to determine if the engineer of a doomed Amtrak train was using a cellphone at the time of a Philadelphia derailment that killed eight people, reports say. Read more »

Newspaper Strike Vote Possible Next Week

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Updated at 8:50 p.m. with comment from Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild.

Journalists at the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com could vote as soon as next Wednesday whether to authorize a strike against the company.

Negotiators for the Newspaper Guild, which represents those journalists, said in a Wednesday evening memorandum that an impasse over seniority and health care costs continue, and that they will not extend the guild’s contract with the company when it expires this weekend.

“The company’s offer for main unit employees now stands at: No raises, higher healthcare costs for worse coverage and weakened seniority,” negotiators said.

“If we can’t reach an agreement, please check your email over the weekend regarding what to do Monday should the contract expire Sunday night and be prepared for a Strike Authorization vote on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.”

“Our negotiating team is continuing to work with the mediator and Guild to try to find solutions to the remaining issues,” Amy Buckman, a spokesman for Philadelphia Media Network, said in an email to Philadelphia magazine. PMN owns all three news organizations.

How realistic is a strike threat? “I’ve never seen the membership more mobilized in the 15 years I’ve been here with the guild,” Bill Ross, the guild’s executive director, said Wednesday night.  He said guild members would “never accept” the company’s current health insurance proposal.

“They’re done making any type of concessions,” he said of his membership. “Our members won’t be able to survive if the company gets what it’s looking for.”

Read more »

Penn State AD: Paterno’s Legacy Will Be Restored

 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

How long before Joe Paterno’s statue returns to Happy Valley?

With the sidelining of most NCAA sanctions following the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the restoration of Paterno’s wins record, the full restoration of JoePa’s legacy on campus has seemed only a matter of time. Sandy Barbour, Penn State’s new athletic director, basically confirmed that this week in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I have no doubt that at the right time, as some of the legal issues have been sorted through . . . Penn State will honor not only Joe Paterno’s legacy but the Paterno family’s legacy,” Barbour told the Inky’s editorial board. “We’ll know when it’s time.” Read more »

Three Things We Learned From Fortune’s Big Comcast Story

Fortune today has a big postmortem of Comcast’s failed merger with Time Warner Cable. It’s long and interesting — read the whole thing — but here are three things that stand out.

We always knew the merger was really unpopular — thanks in part to the combined unpopularity of the companies as separate beings. Turns out it was really, really unpopular.

The movement to stop the merger gained momentum in the final weeks of the government’s evaluation as more and more people and companies—even entire municipalities, such as the town of Moultonborough, N.H.—stepped forward to voice their opposition. In all, an unprecedented 300,800 comments were filed with the Federal Communications Commission, which with the Justice Department was one of the two government bodies tasked with evaluating the proposed merger’s effect on consumers and competition. The vast majority of comments were against the deal. By contrast, AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile in 2011 elicited 40,526 comments before the parties abandoned the idea.

Emphasis ours. Read more »

Gov. Wolf Wants to Decriminalize Marijuana

wolf - marijuana

Good news for N.A. Poe: Gov. Tom Wolf says he is in favor of decriminalizing pot.

“I believe, for a number of reasons, that we ought to decriminalize marijuana use,” Wolf told Pittsburgh TV station WPXI. “I think our prisons are over-crowded as a result of people going to jail for reasons that, you know, we break up families for reasons that we shouldn’t.”

He added: “We destroy lives and we make it hard to find employment. So often right now possession of a small amount is a felony and an employer looks at that and dismisses (the person) automatically.”

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John Templeton Jr. Has Died

John Templeton, Jr., left, congratulates 2004 Templeton Prize winner Dr. George F. R. Ellis, a leading theoretical cosmologist and a professor of applied Mathematics at University of Cape Town, South Africa, at a news conference in New York, Wednesday, March 17, 2004.  The Templeton Prize, valued at $1.4 million, is awarded to an individual for "progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities." (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)

John Templeton, Jr., left, congratulates 2004 Templeton Prize winner Dr. George F. R. Ellis, a leading theoretical cosmologist and a professor of applied Mathematics at University of Cape Town, South Africa, at a news conference in New York, Wednesday, March 17, 2004. The Templeton Prize, valued at $1.4 million, is awarded to an individual for “progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities.” (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)kl

John Templeton Jr., who led the John Templeton Foundation after his father’s 2008 death, has died. He passed on Saturday, according to reports.

The New York Times says:

John M. Templeton Jr., a former pediatric surgeon who was president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation, died on Saturday at his home in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He was 75.

The foundation, based in West Conshohocken, Pa., announced his death on Tuesday, saying the cause was cancer.

Dr. Templeton retired from medicine in 1995 to manage the foundation and became its top executive after the death, in 2008, of his father, Sir John Templeton, who created the Templeton Fund in 1954 and the foundation in 1987. Under Dr. Templeton, the foundation’s endowment grew to $3.34 billion from $28 million.

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