Amidst the Marcellus Shale discussions in City Council (and here on the Clog), one Pennsylvania resident went behind the scenes of the fracking industry to create an expose nominated for an 2011 Academy Award.
Josh Foxs documentary Gasland is an in-depth look at the gas drilling industry and hydraulic fracturing occurring throughout the country. The Marcellus Shale that lies beneath your feet is being drilled for gas and causing major issues that Fox calls absurd and astonishing. See what else Fox says in a CP interview with the write/director. This film has already won Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and is nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this years Oscars on Feb. 27.
Gasland is available to watch on HBO through next year, but for those of us without premium channels we can catch it at a free screening this Saturday, Feb. 19 at CCP.
In conjunction with CCPs Law and Society week, this Saturdays day-long program, Natural Gas in Pennsylvania, will feature two free screenings of Gasland at 9 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. The first screening will be followed by a speech by City Councilman Curtis Jones. The second will conclude with a Q&A with Protecting Our Waters founder, Iris Marie Bloom. Screenings and discussions will be held in room C2-5 of the Center for Business and Industry Building at 18th and Callowhill.
The demolition of the Windermere Court building, the West Philadelphia apartment complex that erupted in a massive blaze a month ago, may be postponed indefinitely, according to Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who helped former Windermere residents get a 48-hour extension on the site's demolition, originally scheduled for Monday, after residents protested being unable to retrieve pets and possessions from the building.e
Blackwell told CP today that the property owners will need to re-file for demolition. She explained that this process may take a while because the case will need to go through the court all over again.
CP contacted the Department of Licenses and Inspections, which oversees demolitions, for confirmation, but has not yet gotten a response.
An attorney representing 20-year-old George Spain had gone through an exhaustive final argument: Spain was up for murder one in courtroom 707 of the Criminal Justice Center on Monday afternoon. The sentence could land him in prison for the rest of his life and his attorney, Dennis Cogan, had explained the case in clear and uncertain terms:
Reginald James, Jr., 19, was shot and killed around 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 18, 2009 as he fled two assailants near a dark street corner in Germantown. Later than night, James girlfriend identified Spain and another man to police. They were taken into custody. The other man was released, however and two new suspects came under scrutiny after Spain supposedly told police what had really happened.
According to Cogan, Spain said two men -- Tyreese Copper and his father, Gregory Anderson (known as Little Ty and Big Ty) -- had targeted James Jr. because he had stolen a lockbox from them.
The Commonwealth wanted the jury to believe, Cogan said, that Spain had known about the planned murder, conspired to execute it, and then snitched to police to avoid implicating himself. This would make Spain liable for murder as an accomplice.
Cogan dismissed these notions outright and a host of others in just over an hour: Without Spain, Cogan said, the police had no case. He sets it right! Cogan said.
After the defense rested, it was John Doyles turn. Representing the District Attorneys office, he said Spain had been blowing up Little Tys cell phone in the minutes leading up to the murder. Spain knew the plan, he worked with Big Ty and Little Ty to corner James Jr., and Spain should be sent to prison for life.
Doyle rested and then Judge Stephen R. Geroff outlined the jurys options: convicting Spain of murder one would land the 20-year-old in prison for life. Murder three would earn him a maximum of 40 years in prison. And if the jury found Spain not guilty, well, he would be sent home. Its now up to the jury.
After less than two hours, the courts clerk announces that the jury has come to a verdict. Family members here to support both Spain and the deceased James Jr. fill the courtroom. Eight officers from the sheriffs department enter to keep things as calm as possible, standing on the courtrooms edge with their revolvers tucked away, their walkie-talkies off and their hands folded stalwartly in front of their belt buckles. The room is quiet; theres almost no sound but for occasional whispering and rustling clothes. The judge enters. The clerk asks that no one react to the verdict once its read. There are bated breaths and pregnant sighs. The jury enters one at a time and they sit. Another pause. The clerk reads the first count:
On murder in the first degree, how do you find the defendant, George Spain?
The jury foreman looks at the courtroom and demurs.
Not guilty your honor, he says. The courtroom stirs.
Murder in the third degree?
Not guilty your honor.
And on the conspiracy charge?
Not guilty your honor.
The room does, in fact, react. There are cries of joy and sadness from both sides of the room. Police officers, who testified for the prosecution and are now sitting in plainclothes in the front row of the court gallery, sit with arms crossed, visibly angry. They refuse to comment. A woman related to James Jr., who asks not to be identified, says the verdict just aint fair before breaking into tears.
And on the other side of the room where Spains family now begins to exit there are tears of jubilation. Donald Smith, Spains uncle, has tears rolling down his face when he says, justice has finally been done today.
But has it?
The unfortunate thing about all this is that someone is dead, says attorney Gary Silver, who worked with Cogans team on this case. And not only are the guys who committed this murder still out there, but you had Spain sitting behind bars for two years waiting for trial.
It feels like everyone loses, he says.
UPDATE: Tyreese Copper is, in fact, in lock up and is being prosecuted for murder; his trial is set for September (see this PDF of his docket sheet). His father, however, has not yet been arrested for this crime.
It's Our Money reporter Ben Waxman has a provacative column over at philly.com today, in which he argues that Nutter great achievement thus far is that he maintained the status quo in the face of potential economic disaster for the city.
It's not the most exciting argument to make for a mayor's success but maybe that's why nobody else has really been making it. Waxman essentially argues that those who say Mayor Nutter's accomplishments haven't added up to much are overlooking the fact that simply keeping the city running at more or less where it was before the crash of 2008 is itself a major accomplishment and that Nutter deserves credit for making that happen.
... The fact that many in the city don't recognize Nutter's accomplishment doesn't mean that he hasn't succeeded. It's just that Nutter's success has been less about what he's done and more about what he has avoided. During an economic crisis, preserving services isn't easy.
Those who wanted Nutter to hack and slash government and restructure the city's taxes and purge City Hall of inefficiency will disagree they'd rather see the mayor use the bad economy to leverage drastic changes. But that's easier said than done.
I donât know about you, but this photo has my eyes glued to my computer screen. It's probably the explosion and the the raining paper, but, either way, I can't help but wish I was in Chinatown when this was going down.
But just because the Chinese New Year is over, doesnât mean you canât go out and shoot an awesome photo like "lucindalunacy" did.
Once you do, visit City Paperâs Flickr group, login to your Yahoo! account, and post it to our page.
By posting to our Flickr page, you agree to let us publish your photo on the Photostream and, possibly, in the the print editionâs Photostream column. Send âem our way!
HALL MONITOR: City-wide "Computer Day," residents speak on Council ethics, and a silent protest against Southwest Philly prison
City Council met this morning and adjourned without making much headway into their proposed agenda.
Three resolutions on final passage were adopted:
110061: Councilmember Jannie Blackwell introduced a resolution to call for public hearings regarding the use of city Health and Social Service Agencies in conjunction with school district nurse and guidance counselor resources in public schools.
110062: Councilmember Bill Green introduced a resolution declaring Feb. 15 as Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) Day in the city. This day is set to honor UPenn and their invention of the first general-purpose electronic computer in the world on Feb. 14, 1946.
110064: Councilmember Frank Rizzo introduced the resolution to recognize USPS worker and City Hall letter carrier, Leonard Thomas, on his retirement.
Aside from the lack of passed bills and resolutions, there were two speakers from the public. Both Fred Fisher and Sandra Stewart went to the podium to discuss resolution 100128, an ordinance to amend the "Standards of Conduct and Ethics" section of the Philadelphia Code. The changes to this section will establish standards regarding political activities of city officers and employees, and provide penalties for violations.
Fisher took the podium quoting a recent Supreme Court ruling against City Council for violation of the Sunshine laws, previously not recognized by the Council. These laws were adopted by the Council last year.
Stewart also referred to the ethics ordinance on the floor. "This bill is long overdue," she said. "Philadelphia is the number one city with the longest running City Council members." She implored Council to start a discussion about limiting councilmember terms in office.
All of this Council business was conducted this morning in front of an audience of silent protesters. Southwest Philly residents (nearly 30) brought signs and stood behind Council to spread their messages of disapproval of the city's plan to build a prison in the neighborhood.
The bar scene may never be the same if Penn studentsâ MEEPME app takes off. Think Quizo-style interactive entertainment mixed with hints of sexting and a lot of fun.
MEEPME is a mobile app that employs anonymous flirting via SMS â or texting. The app uses cloud communication powered by Twilio to allow participants free, anonymous interaction with other participants in the same venue. The idea is to let people Â interact with and meet one another without the initial pressure of a clever pickup line.
Hereâs how it works:
1. Upon entry to a venue set up for MEEPME, a participant number is placed on your back.
2. The venue will have a phrase that you will text to a pre-set number.
3. This will register you and allow for unlimited âmeeping.â
4. All Meeps are automatically posted on one, or more, TV screens throughout the venue.
5. Your anonymity is secured until you reveal yourself with a specific command.
6. Love connections are made â maybe.
Maybe not love connections, but at least itâs meant to the next evolution of bar games, said Matt Newberg, one of the apps creators.
Newberg, along with three other Penn students, created MEEPME during the semi-annual PennApps Hackathon last month. The app won grand prize in the 48-hour competition and was immediately a hit with Penn students.
Yesterday, the Blarney Stone saw nearly 100 participants (mainly Penn students) whip out their phones to âmeep,â said The Daily Pennsylvanian. Last week, the app went live at Smokey Joeâs where over 5,000 meeps were sent from 150 participants.
The team plans to spread this app to various venues and bars throughout the city. "What we're doing right now is working with venue owners," said Newberg. He told CP that MEEPME's goal right now is to create the interactive experience in your neighborhood bar.
For now, we'll have to check out Newberg's "shiny new toy" in University City or next week at Yunker's in Manayunk.
closing three post offices in Philadelphia this spring, according to the Inquirer, in an effort to consolidate and streamline operations to allow USPS to become more efficient and effective. USPS said that the three stations were chosen based on a study they conducted last year. Adams Avenue, Girard Avenue and Wissinoming will be closing their doors on April 22. Residents using these post offices are being referred to the next-cloests facility. CP wondered: if lines at post offices are (sometimes, anyway) notoriously long already, what would these closures do to lines at other nearby post offices? And so CP set out to find answers. This photo was taken at the Girard Avenue station (scheduled to be closed in April) today after waiting over a half hour for them to re-open from being out of the office. CP counted 10 people waiting in line (three aren't visible).
|photo by Tanya Hull|
|photo by Tanya Hull|
Old Cityâs Grey Social, former âexclusive retreat aimed for a sophisticated audience,â wasÂ raided early Saturday and was ordered to cease operations. Why? Certainly not for the club full of sophisticated lounge-goers, but for the abundance of underage drinking.
According to a philly.com article, Sgt. William LaTorre of the State Policeâs Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement confirmed 18 underage drinking citations and possible criminal charges.
There were also 13 minors cited for being on the premises and five fake IDâs confiscated.
Interestingly, the club was mentioned prominently in a recent PhillyMag article, "What the Hell Happened to Old City?," in which author Richard Rys describes the Grey Social's bouncers checking IDs:
âMake it look like youâre showing me ID. Show me anything.â These words, allegedly from the mouth of a Grey Social bouncer, were directed toward several underage women attempting entrance into the club, says PhillyMag.
The article also called the clubÂ Old Cityâs ânew epicenter of debauchery.â
Thereâs that, and the fact more than one drunken (probably underage) club-goer said the place smelled like bad fish.
Do we live in a cold, uncaring universe guided by force which act in utter disregard to the human struggle?
Or is there some force which somehow pummels human auddacity with mouthfuls of its own medicine?
I just don't know. But arguments for the latter scenario were boosted last night and this morning, when yours truly was forced to acknowledge the stupidity of making fun of a snowstorm before it hit â and turned out be be roughly double the size it was supposed to be.
Buses were stuck, people were stranded, chaos reigned.So I offer an official acknowledgement: it was a lot of snow, even by Chicago standards.
But we still wouldn't have gotten off school for it. Why, I remember the time that ... oh, excuse me. I'm done.
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