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Judge sinks Pa. Proud Boy's Capitol siege claim

Plus, Gov. Wolf calls House GOP's redistricting pitch 'highly skewed.'


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
December 29, 2021
Sorely disappointed, conspiracy case, parent trap, mystery flights, traffic breaks, limited choice, and weird things dropping on New Year's Eve. It's Wednesday.
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Dear reader, 

The home stretch: With just three days left in 2021, we're within striking distance of raising a massive $100,000 in support of Spotlight PA's vital journalism. If you've been putting off your contribution, make one now.

Thousands of Pennsylvanians have stepped forward to support Spotlight PA's investigative and public-service reporting because they know it's vital to upholding democracy in our state. Why not join them right now?

I hope those of you who are still on the fence will make a donation today to ensure this work continues.

Spotlight PA is in the final stretch of its most important membership drive of the year, and every dollar counts. Please give now.

Onwards together,

—Christopher Baxter, Editor in Chief

"When I was younger, I wanted to be white. I still feel guilt about that."

—Kelley Bashew, who was adopted at 3 months old and taken from South Dakota to Glenside as part of the decades-long forced assimilation of Native children
The final challenge has been issued, and with just three days left, we're within striking distance of raising a massive $100,000 in support of Spotlight PA's vital journalism. That's enough money to pay for one reporting position for an entire year. Help us end the year strong by making a tax-deductible gift now. 
» QUARANTINE CUT: The CDC now recommends that people who test positive for COVID-19 isolate for five days instead of 10 if they're asymptomatic, NPR reports.

» TEST RUN: With testing resources remaining scarce, Philadelphia is telling people with symptoms to act like they're positive, per WHYY.

» TEST SITES: Today is the last day for free COVID-19 testing at state-run sites in Berks, Blair, Centre, Clinton, and Luzerne counties. Find more info here.

» STRIKE TEAMS: Hard-hit Pennsylvania hospitals will receive "strike teams" via the federal government to help alleviate capacity strain, WGAL reports.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX).
» MAPPING POWER: Join us Thursday, Jan. 6 at noon EST for a free panel on the proposed state House and Senate maps, how they could shift political power, and their potential impact on Pennsylvanians. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
A telephonic time machine and history lesson, as spotted at Bill's Bike Barn in Bloomsburg by @lora_explores. Thanks for sharing! Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
SIEGE CASE: The First Amendment does not shield the head of the Philadelphia Proud Boys from criminal prosecution for his alleged role in the U.S. Capitol siege, a federal judge has ruled. "Even if the charged conduct had some expressive aspect, it lost whatever First Amendment protection it may have had," U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said. Zach Rehl of Port Richmond is one of four leaders of the far-right group under indictment.

UNSAFE SPACES: Hundreds of Philadelphia parents have had to patch together alternative visit and custody-exchange plans with the ongoing closure of a supervised family court space — a situation that advocates say puts survivors of domestic abuse in jeopardy without law enforcement present. While the family court space was far from perfect, advocates told The Inquirer the closure has revealed how much worse things could get.

NEW ARRIVALS: ICE denies it was behind a series of chartered flights that carried child migrants into Scranton four times this month — including twice on Christmas. An ICE spokesperson told the Times-Tribune another government agency may have been responsible. The airport's fixed-base operator — an entity that typically handles non-commercial flights — says passengers from at least one of the flights were bound for New York City. 

POLICE STOPS: Pittsburgh's City Council has approved a bill banning traffic stops for secondary violations involving headlights, brake lights, and license plates in a bid to prevent violent interactions with police, TribLIVE reports. The legislation is set to take effect in 120 days. Public comments heard before Tuesday's vote took issue with the timing, the data, and the reach of the measure. Philadelphia banned low-level stops in November.

STATE OF THE STATE: "Even though Pennsylvania doesn't currently have a ban like Mississippi, it's still difficult to receive an abortion," Sara Dixon of Planned Parenthood told the Post-Gazette. The paper took a look at the current state of abortion access in Pennsylvania, finding 85% of counties have no clinics, 50% of women live in counties without clinics, and attempts to further restrict access continue in earnest inside the state Capitol.
THE OZ SHOW: A whirlwind New York Magazine profile of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz includes an eye-opening lede about conservative "carpetbagger" pushback and a section where Oz and his wife think they've hung up on the reporter but remain on the line during an animated exchange

BIG SCORE: The most interesting part of the Pittsburgh Penguins now sharing owners with the Boston Red Sox may not be LeBron James' stake but rather how a savvy 1999 decision by former Penguins player Mario Lemieux ultimately turned $26 million in deferred pay into a $350 million windfall, per Huddle Up.

SWIM CLUB: A group of boxers from Scranton traveled all the way to New Hampshire to take the polar bear plunge this year, WMUR reports, and not because it's so unseasonably warm in Pennsylvania: They were raising money for a local charity that helps people get placed into sober living homes.

COUNTDOWN: New Year's Eve is Friday, and USA Today's roundup of unusual municipal traditions includes Lebanon's bologna drop, Bethlehem's Peep drop, and Mechanicsburg's wrench drop — the latter a nod to the borough's settlers who made and fixed wagons for westbound travelers. 

BAT BITES: One Twitter user's viral delight at discovering "nature has evolved a bat that looks exactly like a jam doughnut" was directly inspired by an "extra floofy," almost sugar-coated member of the Pennsylvania Bat Rescue family.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
Yesterday's answer: Hierarchical 

Congrats to our daily winners: Susan F., Irene R., Vicki U. (double winner, left off Tuesday's list), Susan D., Don H., Bonnie R., Elaine C., Craig E., Neal W., Susan N., Kim C., Craig W., Doris T., Michelle T., Mike B., Alan V., Gary C., Kimberly S., David W., Myles M., Jill K., Becky C., and George S.
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