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UPMC gobbles up federal aid as revenue soars

Plus, Pa.’s premier political gala loses its luster.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
December 6, 2021
Government galas, fair shares, under contract, home danger, map deadline, early exit, and Peach Bowl Panthers. It's Monday, thanks for checking in.
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"I was afraid and I left for safety with the children later that night after he passed out and did not return. I want him to leave us alone."

—Jana Russo, the wife of Greene County DA David Russo, seeking a PFA against him over an alleged history of abusive behavior
We're more than halfway to meeting our historic challenge of raising $70,000 by the end of the year in support of vital investigative journalism for Pennsylvania. If we can do it, we'll unlock $70,000 in matching gifts.

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» CONFIRMED CASE: A Philadelphia man in his 30s has the first confirmed case of the omicron variant in Pennsylvania, NBC10 reports. 

» MORE WIDESPREAD: Updated data show the coronavirus was more common in Pennsylvania long-term care employees than previously believed and more deadly for residents, the Courier Times reports.

» MERCHANT OF DOUBT: Social media giant Facebook is failing to enforce its own policies on COVID-19 misinformation, new research shows.

» TINY TRAVELER: A new simulation from The New York Times offers a compelling look at how the coronavirus moves from one human to another.

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).
» LAWFUL VS. AWFUL: Join us Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. EST via Zoom for a free panel discussion on why killings by police often are ruled justified and who oversees the process. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
Water birds stick together at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. Thanks for sharing, Nora O.!  Send us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
HOSPITAL BILL: As rural hospitals struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic, Pennsylvania-based health care giant UPMC claimed nearly a quarter of the federal money meant to sustain them — all while seeing surging profits itself, the Post-Gazette reports. 

DEAL DELVE: Republicans pushing a contested and, critics say, unnecessary review of Pennsylvania's 2020 election have released a redacted copy of their quarter-million-dollar contract with the rookie vendor leading the charge. Capital-Star breaks it down.

PROBATION PERIOD: A judge handed down a stern rebuke but no jail time to a Philadelphia-area nursing home manager whose negligence was linked to three deaths in 2017, LNP reports. Chaim Steg was given probation and is still part-owner of nursing homes statewide.

REDISTRICTING DAY: Pennsylvanians have until 5 p.m. today to submit their proposed revisions to the state's congressional map under a last-minute deadline extension. Advocates tell Spotlight PA it's still unclear how lawmakers will incorporate the feedback.

STEPPING DOWN: Philadelphia Director of Commerce Michael Rashid is resigning after reports of anti-Semitic remarks and verbal abuse that emerged following the publication of a "rogue op-ed."
MR. MAYOR: The sky appeared to be the limit after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's effortless reelection in 2019. Then the pandemic hit. Now, a former staffer is examining what the prolonged public health emergency might mean for "what's left of his legacy," via Philadelphia Magazine.

STRIKE STOP: Food giant Kellogg's has reached a tentative deal with striking workers, including hundreds in Lancaster County, per WGAL. A majority of union employees will need to back the deal to make it official. Voting was set to take place Sunday with a final tally expected on Tuesday.

HIGHS AND LOWS: If a shaded elevation map of Pennsylvania was on your holiday shopping list, Reddit has you covered. Find a purchase link and color-scheme debates aplenty in the comments, which is where I learned the Appalachian Mountains may have once been as tall as the Himalayas.

BOWL BOUND: The University of Pittsburgh Panthers football team is Peach Bowl bound after Saturday's win over Wake Forest, per TribLIVE. The Panthers will face Michigan State on Dec. 30 in Atlanta. 

GAME TIME: Best of luck to Penn State English professor Hester Blum, whose turn as a "Jeopardy!" contestant starts tonight along with the show's first-ever professors tournament, Centre Daily Times reports.
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.
Friday's answer: Crepuscular

Congrats to our weekly winner: Susan F.

Congrats to our daily winners: Edward M., Neal W., Don H., Bonnie R., Bill C., Alan V., Susan N., Heidi B., Dianne K., Eddy Z., George S., David I., Irene R., Cris F., James B., Craig E., Bill S., Susan D., Vicki U., and Beth T.
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