Drexel Criticized for Noam Chomsky Honor

Noam Chomsky (AP Photo/Nader Daoud)

Noam Chomsky (AP Photo/Nader Daoud)

Drexel University is under continuing criticism from Jewish groups for awarding an honorary degree to left-wing scholar and activist Noam Chomsky during its mid-June graduation ceremonies.

Chomsky, critics say, has been a virulent and unfair critic of Israel.

“Chomsky has seldom missed an opportunity to author a screed against Israel,” Abraham Miller, a senior fellow with the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought, wrote last week in an essay that has been carried in The Jewish Exponent and the Algemeiner.

Chomsky, 86, a linguist at MIT, is Jewish. His own website features him among “famous Jews who have opposed Israel,” along with this quote: “In the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much worse than apartheid. To call it apartheid is a gift to Israel, at least if by ‘apartheid’ you mean South African-style apartheid. What’s happening in the Occupied Territories is much worse.”

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Gay Activists: We’ll Protest Pope’s Visit If We Want

One day before the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling on same-sex marriage, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said that gay people can attend Pope Francis’ visit to the city this fall — but only if they don’t use it to protest the Catholic church.

The response from gay activists in Philadelphia? Try to stop us.

Take it from “someone who’s been protesting since 1969,” said Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News. “If someone wants to protest, they will find a way.”

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Phillies Name Andy MacPhail New Team President

Andy MacPhail, new leader of the Phillies' front office, is seen during spring training baseball practice, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

Andy MacPhail, new leader of the Phillies’ front office, is seen during spring training baseball practice, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

The Phillies have a message for their fans: We care about sabermetrics. They used the word a bunch. John Middleton, the most prominent member of the Phillies’ silent partnership, said it. Interim president Pat Gillick, who put together the Phillies’ 2008 championship team, said it. Andy MacPhail, who will be the new Phillies president at the end of the season, said it many, many times.

Sabermetrics, a term coined from the acronym for the Society for American Baseball Research, is at its core the empirical analysis of baseball (as Wikipedia puts it). But it’s also code for a way of thinking that values statistics over scouting when putting together a baseball club. The Phillies have been chastised for doing the opposite, such as relying on 7-year-old scouting reports when signing outfielder Delmon Young in 2012.

“I don’t care about walks,” General Manager Ruben Amaro said in January 2013. “I care about production. To be frank with you, I’ve said this all along. All of the sabermatricians and all of the people who think they know exactly what makes a good club… to me, it’s more about run production and being able to score runs and drive in runs.”

The Phillies clearly attempted to make introduction of MacPhail as president a new start for the franchise. The Phillies say they plan to be more forward-thinking. Middleton said the Phillies were creating a “custom-made system” for evaluating players, and said the team would hire new analysts sometime this season if they needed to. MacPhail didn’t say what that meant for general manager Ruben Amaro, but said he was looking to use statistics.

“In Chicago, I was the president and CEO,” MacPhail said. “I had a GM who I loved that was not very saber-friendly, but I made him hire two kids to help him with that. We used to use it in Minnesota, for God’s sake. We don’t really advertise it, why would we? … Nobody’s got all the tools. You have to hire people around you.” All three brought this up before being asked about it. Read more »

Report: Sixers to Pay Pelicans $3 Million for Breaking NBA Rules

sixers-logoThe Sixers hired Sam Hinkie in May 2013, but The Process really didn’t start until the NBA Draft the next month. That night, Hinkie traded Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans. At the time, it came as a shock: Holiday was expected to be the team’s point guard for years.

The haul, it turned out, was pretty good: The Sixers got the sixth pick that season (Nerlens Noel) and another first rounder in 2014. The Sixers turned that first-rounder into Dario Saric, two second-round picks and also got the Orlando Magic to waive the pick the Sixers owed them sometime in the future. Jrue Holiday has played just 74 games over two seasons in New Orleans, missing time in both seasons due to stress fractures in his legs. He had surgery in 2014.

The Inquirer reports Holiday first suffered stress fractures in his last season in Philadelphia, and that the Sixers have to pay $3 million to New Orleans for failing to disclose the injury. A Sixers team source disputed the report. The paper’s Keith Pompey also said the Sixers were looking to get compensation from the Lakers over the Andrew Bynum trade. Read more »

Black Bear Crashed Lehigh University Party

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

College parties have a tendency to get crazy, but things escalated Saturday evening when a 300- 400-pound black bear showed up.

The Associated Press reported yesterday evening via NJ.com that the black bear was spotted in south Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in the wee hours of Sunday morning near Lehigh University’s campus. The bear scared many of the surprised students, prompting tons of emergency calls to area police.

The bear “lumbered close to the party and scared the living daylights out of people,”  Bethlehem police Chief Mark DiLuzio told AP. Read more »

There Are Still Confederate Flag Shirts for Sale in Wildwood

Confederate Flags in Wildwood

Confederate flags for sale on the boardwalk in Wildwood (Photo: Dan McQuade)

For four years now, I’ve been chronicling Wildwood boardwalk t-shirts in a silly column on this website. Last year, I wrote about a constant presence on the Wildwood boardwalk for as long as I can remember: Confederate battle flag t-shirts.

This is particularly odd, since New Jersey was a Union state (it was the last state in the north to abolish slavery). White people wearing the Confederate battle flag can’t go with a lame “southern pride” defense when they’re in New Jersey. I checked out a sampling of 15 t-shirt stores while in Wildwood this weekend; I was able to find Confederate flag merchandise in 13 of them. Read more »

Newspaper Guild Releases Details of Agreement

With the future of Philly’s two major daily newspapers at stake and the clock ticking down toward a likely work stoppage, both sides on Friday gave a little something to get something.

Philadelphia Media Network — which owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — decided that it would pay the increased health insurance costs of its employees. The Newspaper Guild — which represents journalists, advertising staff and other support workers at the papers — decided it would give a little bit on seniority, allowing the company some bit flexibility in deciding which staff it wants to keep in the event of future layoffs. (The details of the deal were released in a memo to guild employees this morning; see the full document below.)

The result? After eight months spent at impasse mostly over those issues — and barely 24 hours before their contract was due to expire — the two sides struck a deal, with the resulting handshake (seen above) between Stan Wischnowski, the company’s vice president for news operations, and Howard Gensler, the guild’s president.

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Gloucester County Residents Still Without Power

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-123174094/stock-photo-clouds-and-thunder-lightnings-and-storm.html?src=x5Pk2sfkKafgHoRsdV4TPA-1-4

Shutterstock.com

All across Gloucester County, power is still out from last Tuesday’s massive thunderstorm. And Gloucester County’s local politicians are angered by the lack of help coming from the state.

According to CBS Philly and NBC Philadelphia, 4,400 customers of Atlantic City Electric remain without power almost an entire week after the large storm that swept across Philadelphia and southern New Jersey. Mayor George Shivery of Greenwich Township called upon Governor Chris Christie to declare a state of emergency for the area and help out with the restoration efforts. Meanwhile, Atlantic City Electric, for their part, has pledged that 99 percent of customers will get power back. Read more »

The Dick Cheney-ization of America

Vice-President Dick Cheney is joined by his openly gay daughter Mary, at right, and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, left, as they attend church services in Washington, Monday, September 11, 2006. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Vice-President Dick Cheney is joined by his openly gay daughter Mary, at right, and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, left, as they attend church services in Washington, Monday, September 11, 2006. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Back in 2004, then-Vice President Dick Cheney horrified conservatives when, at a town-hall meeting in Iowa, he came out in favor of gay marriage, a stance at odds with then-President George Bush, who at the time was advocating a constitutional amendment to ban such banns. “Lynne and I have a gay daughter,” Cheney announced, “so it’s an issue that our family is very familiar with. … With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be able to be free … ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.” Eleven years later, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.

What happened in the interim? People like Cheney’s daughter Mary publicly came out and wrote and sang and talked about their lives, and the six degrees of separation Americans liked to pretend existed between them and homosexuality gradually vaporized, became five degrees, then four, then one. If you didn’t have a child or a parent or a friend who was gay, you knew someone who did—someone you were close to. The other nudged closer and closer until she was teaching your class and sitting at your Thanksgiving table and staying at your beach house. And even if you sort of didn’t get what those people did in their bedrooms, so what? They didn’t care what you did in yours. Read more »

Trump Plaza Could Be Closed for 10 Years

Trump Plaza in November 2014

Trump Plaza in November 2014, after it had closed. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Trump Plaza was the last casino to close in Atlantic City’s tumultuous 2014, shutting down on September 16th after 30 years in business. Now, it may not re-open for another decade.

As reported by the Associated Press, Trump Entertainment Resorts is seeking a deed restriction on the property that would prohibit it from being used as a casino for a decade.

Trump Entertainment Resorts made the move due to a bill that just passed the New Jersey Senate last week. The bill, which has already passed the assembly, would replace property taxes them with a payment-in-lieu of taxes of $120 million for all A.C. casinos. Casinos would not be able to appeal. It applies to any building that operated as a casino for at least part of 2014, which includes Trump Plaza. “The Plaza could be required to make mandatory payments under the PILOT program notwithstanding the fact that it generates no revenue and its hotel rooms are closed,” Trump Entertainment Resorts wrote in a bankruptcy court filing.

The filing, per the AP, says that Showboat was kept out of the PILOT program with a similar deed restriction. (Yes, the same Showboat casino that also has a legal covenant with Trump Entertainment Resorts restricting it for use as a casino. Atlantic City is confusing.) Read more »

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