The Relationship With Your Long-Term Shore Landlord Is … Special

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The first time, we never dreamed it would last this long.

Frankly, yours was just another duplex, one in a long line of joints we’d rented down the Shore. You were a nice enough couple. (I thought you were old then.) We were a big, sprawling family: Dad, our patriarch; four kids and their spouses; a growing crew of offspring; a stray aunt and cousin; and assorted other friends and relations. All we were really looking for was a fridge, a couple of bathrooms and a bunch of beds. We tried you out. Something about you worked. Maybe it was the layout; maybe it was the location. Maybe it was the fact that you had the exact same kitchen tile as our patriarch did. We settled in, made ourselves at home, got sand in your carpet and ramen noodles under your dining room table. It was two weeks of bliss.

The next year, we came back.

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3 Reasons the Case Against “Tainted Justice” Doesn’t Add Up

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Something doesn’t add up.

The Inquirer on Friday did something pretty unusual: It printed a takedown of the reporting behind the Daily News’ Pulitzer-winning “Tainted Justice” series of reports about police corruption in 2009. The underlying question in the report: Why had Thomas Tolstoy — accused of sexually assaulting women on the job, as well as sundry other bits of corruption — been able to stay free and even keep his police job in the years since?

The Inky’s answer? Ethically questionable behavior on the part of the Daily News reporters, Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, may have compromised the case. Specifically, the two are alleged to have offered financial assistance to “Naomi,” a key witness who said Tolstoy jammed his fingers into her vagina during a 2008 drug raid. Naomi’s real identity has never been revealed publicly.

Commissioner Charles Ramsey, at least, is making the case that the reporters’ behavior was so egregious that Tolstoy — a bad cop by the commissioner’s estimation —  won’t get the punishment he might deserve. “It’s not a question of whether misconduct occurred. I think we have an investigation that does demonstrate that,” Ramsey told KYW Newsradio, “but this could very well be exploited by defense counsel when it comes to creating some doubt in the mind of an arbitrator.”

Here are three reasons — drawn only from the public reporting on this issue — that the “bad reporting kept a bad cop on the streets” story doesn’t quite make sense.

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An Ice Bucket Challenge Backlash? Really!?

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Predictably, this summer’s ice bucket challenge, which has raised millions for ALS research and clued a new generation (including my own children) into issues surrounding ALS, has created a backlash. Articles in Time and Philadelphia magazine, among many others, have criticized the challenge as either shallow, wasteful or even (despite all the money raised) counterproductive.

There have always been scolds and fogies, but the rise of the Internet and social media has turned reflexive naysaying into something of a sub-genre of media commentary. I’ve decided to call this dull contrarianism, because these arguments are rarely more interesting or clever than the parent at the Slip’N Slide party who starts talking about kids losing eyes.

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3 Feel-Good Stories the Internet Has Ruined This Week

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Have you noticed how angry everyone online is lately? Taking a confluence of factors into consideration, this might have been the most furious Internet week of 2014, and it’s not even over yet. But I’m not talking the myriad of real issues we as a people are facing. Below, let’s quickly look at three topics that seem to be pissing everyone off, when there seem to be much more important things toward which to focus our animosity.

What We’re Mad About: The Little League World Series

Why We’re Mad: Philly’s the type of city that could always use something or someone to root for, but it’s rare that we actually land legitimate options. Now, our very own Taney Dragons, led by breakout star/wunderkind/Sports Illustrated covergirl Mo’ne Davis, is one W away from playing for a national championship. Go Taney! Everyone loves to see awesome local kids have fun and succeed, right? NO OF COURSE NOT STOP BEING HAPPY.

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Where Is the Outrage Over James Foley’s Beheading?

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There have been two weeks of outrage over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The details of the shooting are still fuzzy, but the anger is crystal clear and exposes a still deep and ugly divide in America.

In sharp contrast, the beheading of James Foley by Islamic State extremists did not prompt the same outrage or protests. The details of the beheading are on video for anyone with the stomach to watch (WARNING: GRAPHIC). The international divide it exposes is equally ugly and far more dangerous. It should unite us as Americans, as the Islamic State on the other side of the divide wants to kill us all, regardless of color or class.

And yet the growing threat of the Islamic State is a secondary story to Ferguson. It speaks more to our national media than the greater population. Ferguson is easier and much less expensive to cover. The growing threat of ISIS — the greatest threat to America and the civilized world in recent history — is more dangerous and more expensive to cover.

And besides, stories that divide us rather than unite us make for better TV. Two sides yelling at each other is the formula for cable news success. The importance of a story and journalistic responsibility lost in the battle for ratings and revenue long ago.

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20 Easy Predictions for the Coming Year

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The Revel casino is closing down. Duh. Anyone could’ve seen that coming. And most of the people I know did. We saw the new casinos in Philly and Valley Forge. We heard about the high prices at Revel. Even my own mom, a hardened slot machine competitor who used to travel to AC a few times a month has preferred to gamble locally because it’s cheaper and she can lose her money closer to home.

You knew this too. You are old enough and smart enough to be able to predict the future. In fact, there are a lot of things that you know right now that will happen sometime in the next 12 months. Just take a moment and think about it…

Jose Garces will be fine. Sure, the closing of the Revel means he’s out four restaurants. But are you worried about him? Didn’t think so.

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Ramsey Makes Right Call on Body Cameras. But …

Well-done, Commissioner Ramsey.

No, that’s not patronizing or sarcastic. I’m genuinely excited that the commissioner has announced his support for outfitting Philadelphia Police officers with so-called “body cameras” — like the dash cams attached to police cars, only attached to the officers themselves.

The cameras can only aid the cause of justice in Philadelphia. They’ll aid police, backing up their descriptions of crimes and crime scenes that they witness, giving prosecutors and juries confidence that they’re getting the full story. (See the Wolfcon commercial above, compiled of clips officers apparently believed help back their stories.) But they might also restrain the worst impulses of the department’s rogue officers: In Rialto, California, use of force fell by 60 percent — and citizen complaints by 88 percent — in the first year. That’s astonishing.

And that’s why Ramsey wants to start a pilot program, testing the cameras, by year’s end.

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10 Ferguson Twitter Accounts You Need to Follow

People protest Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. As night fell Sunday in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street. Police attempted to push them back by firing tear gas and shouting over a bullhorn that the protest was no longer peaceful.

People protest Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. As night fell Sunday in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street. Police attempted to push them back by firing tear gas and shouting over a bullhorn that the protest was no longer peaceful.

Since the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown last Saturday, residents of Ferguson, Missouri, have taken to the streets to protest. Long before major media were on the ground, Twitter provided to-the-minute updates of events, and continues to be the most reliable reporting resource. Below is a list of 10 individuals you should follow on Twitter if you want to know what’s really happening on the streets of Ferguson, because the likes of CNN can’t be trusted to even report what’s happening outside of its own doors:

1. Antonio French (@AntonioFrench), St. Louis Alderman of the 21st Ward.

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American Slavery: Maliciously Born 395 Years Ago on August 20th and Markedly Raised in Philly

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President’s House. Photo | G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

A version of this article ran last year.

As you take your lunch break tomorrow in Center City, stroll over to Front and Market where the historic London Coffee House once stood, and celebrate the institution that made America one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world, the institution born exactly 395 years ago on Aug. 20, 1619: the institution of slavery. In fact, it was at that site in downtown Philly where black men, women, and children were bought and sold like cattle and like tools.

On that fateful date nearly four centuries ago, as noted by English settler John Rolfe, a wealthy tobacco planter and the so-called husband of Pocahontas, “ … there came a Dutch man of warre that sold us twenty and odd Negars” in the Virginia Colony at Old Point Comfort (now Fort Comfort in Hampton). They were the first enslaved blacks in a land that would become the United States of America.
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