How Do I Cure My Online Rage?

What would I like for Christmas? How about some small bit of my lost humanity?

It was a reader (of course) who accidentally let me understand I’d misplaced some of my soul. I’d co-written a column about last week’s Senate Torture Report — for publication elsewhere — in which I suggested that torture is evil and that the United States has a moral duty to be better than it was in the first frenzied, terrifying days after 9/11.

My reader disagreed.

“Hope the next flight you or your family take is not forced into a building,” she wrote, “but if it is well what goes around comes around.”

Friends, I’ve been insulted so many times through the years, as both a straight reporter and as an opinion writer, that my skin is usually nice and thick. When somebody sends me hate mail, I pick the juiciest quotes and post it to my Facebook page for the amusement of my friends.

This time, I snapped.

“You are a horrible person to wish death on my family,” I wrote. “Kindly go to hell.”

I pressed send. I felt good for about a half-second. Then: Enormous regret.

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Shooting Suspect Bradley Stone Is Dead

[Update 4:30 p.m.] The Montgomery County D.A., Risa Vetri Ferman, confirmed Stone’s death at a press conference just now.

“At approximately 1:38 this afternoon the body of Brad Stone was found in a wooded area in New Hanover Township, just outside of Pennsburg. He was actually found in the rear of the block of 1300 4th Street, at a location approximately a mile from his home in Pennsburg.”

She added: “We believe he died of self-inflicted cutting wounds to the center of the body.” That has not been confirmed by the coroner, she said.
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“Toys for Tots” Party at Chima

Kristin Pultro, Nick Albater and Amanda Giddings,

Last night the law firm of Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy P.C. and Philadelphia Eagle Jeremy Maclin – along with his foundation JMac Gives Back – teamed up to collect more than 600 toys for Little Smiles Pa. In an evening filled with holiday cheer, city leaders and business executives from across the region gathered at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse in Center City. During the evening the Eagles’ “Green Magic” bus arrived with a donation of 300 toys, which Zarwin Baum and Maclin will deliver to Shriners Hospital for Children on Thursday. The remaining toys will be distributed by Little Smiles Pa. to other area hospitals.

Photos after the jump »

UPDATE: Trump Taj Owner Asks Icahn to Stay Open

Update, 2:40 p.m.: The Trump Taj Mahal’s CEO is asking primary lender Carl Icahn to keep the casino open until a court fight with the union ends.

Icahn has not yet responded to the plea. If he agrees, the casino would remain open well into 2015. Local 54 Unite HERE is currently appealing a court decision that canceled the workers’ pensions and healthcare plans.

Earlier: The union for workers at the Trump Taj Mahal ignored a deadline from the casino to drop its appeal of a court order canceling health insurance and a pension plan for workers.

Both sides remained mum on the deal. The casino is slated to close Saturday morning at 6 a.m., the fifth casino to close in Atlantic City in 2014.

“Every day fewer and fewer people patronize the Taj, and we lose more and more of what little money we have left,” Trump Entertainment Resorts CEO Bob Griffin wrote on December 11th. “We just cannot wait any longer.” Nearly 3,000 people work at the Taj.

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Court Rules Law Firm Can Forgive 2007 Brady Legal Fees

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled Cozen O’Connor can forgive a 2007 loan made to Bob Brady. O’Connor worked to keep Brady on the ballot in the 2007 election after a challenge made by Tom Knox.

The Commonwealth Court ruled the money paid to O’Connor was money paid to influence the outcome of the election, and so it could only be legally forgiven in $10,000 annual installments. The Supreme Court agreed with O’Connor’s argument that the legal fees accrued fighting a ballot challenge was not money paid to influence the outcome of an election. An appeals court said this argument “invites the willful suspension of disbelief.”

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3 Ironworkers Union Members Plead Guilty

Ironworkers Local 401 head Joseph Dougherty is the only member of the union facing trial after three members agreed to plead guilty today in court.

Earlier this year, several Ironworkers union members were arrested and charged with participating in what a U.S. Attorney called “goon squads” that used vandalism to intimidate non-union work sites. This summer, more charges were added, and two more were indicted. Then came the guilty pleas. Eventually, eight of 12 pleaded guilty.

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New Photos of Montgomery County Shooting Spree Suspect Bradley Stone

Police are now fanning across Montgomery County to search for Bradley Stone, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman told reporters at a press conference late Tuesday morning. At that time, she released new photos of Montgomery County shooting spree suspect Bradley Stone — one digitally altered to show him clean-shaven, since it is known he recently shaved.

Though they hunted for him there last night, authorities no longer believe Bradley Stone is in Doylestown. “He was known to frequent places we thought he might be. As you know, we followed up on leads in Bucks County,” Vetri Ferman said. “At this moment, it appears those leads were not valid, and we have discontinued pursuing them.” Teams are now concentrating on the northwest part of Montgomery County, she said.

Stone is accused of killing his ex-wife and five other members of her family on a shooting spree Monday morning. A seventh victim, 17-year-old Anthony Flick, is in “very serious but stable condition.” Stone’s current wife, his child with her and his two children with his victim Nicole Hill are all safe.

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Time to Fix Eminent Domain

James Dupree's studio.

James Dupree’s studio.

Congratulations to James Dupree.

After a long fight with the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), the artist last week learned that he can keep his studio in the Mantua section of the city. The fight began back in 2012 when the PRA, citing the city’s eminent domain authority, seized his property and offered him what they considered a fair market value to vacate. Dupree disagreed on that. The PRA claimed, and still claims, that the area is a “food desert” and needed his block so that a private developer could build a supermarket. Dupree also disagreed. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “A developer could easily build around my studio or on the vacant block next to me.”

The reasons can be debated. But there’s one thing that requires no debate: The eminent domain process has to change. Eminent domain is defined as: “The power of the government to take private property and convert it into public use. The Fifth Amendment provides that the government may only exercise this power if they provide just compensation to the property owners.”

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