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Right-wing site's legal warning to PA Dems

Plus, Philly gun violence drops sharply in 2024.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Today: Dem 'defamation,' Philly shootings plummet, Cutler's Capitol concern, secret board meetings, Norcross indicted, and proposed pet limit. 
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The social media site Rumble has warned Pennsylvania's Democratic Party that lawmaker claims of rampant antisemitism on the platform could prompt a defamation suit, according to letters obtained by TribLIVE. 

The notice stems from a March news conference with state Democrats, during which state Rep. Dan Frankel (D., Allegheny) criticized the platform as a hotbed for antisemitism and a haven for "hate-mongers."

Rumble, which has opened its site to far-right creators and conspiracy theorists booted from others, calls itself "proudly content-neutral" and said Pennsylvania Democrats could face "substantial liability" if they don't make correcting statements about past claims against the platform.

Paul Barrett of NYU’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights said any lawsuit is unlikely to succeed due to free speech protections. 

Democrats have also raised Rumble in Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race, noting GOP challenger Dave McCormick invested at least $1 million in the site, according to candidate financial disclosures from September.

Read TribLIVE's full report: Social media company Rumble clashes with Pa. Democrats over antisemitism, defamation allegations.

“[Ohio] is primed to open their market with the lion’s share of their licenses perched on the border of Pennsylvania as they seek to capture Pennsylvania dollars into their market.”

—State Reps. Aaron Kaufer (R., Luzerne) and Emily Kinkead (D., Allegheny) in the latest bill looking to legalize recreational cannabis in Pennsylvania
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PROPERTY VALUE: Join us Thursday, June 20 from 6-7 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free panel discussion about how outdated property assessments affect schools, roads, and more. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
A serious-looking toad, via Penny W. from Northumberland County. Have a photo of your own to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
A portrait of a toad in grass.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
NEW SCORES: Penn State’s football team improved its academic rating in the 2022-23 academic year, after earning its worst score in a decade the year prior. A team’s four-year average must be above 930 to avoid NCAA discipline. Penn State football scored 959 for the 2022-23 academic year, a significant improvement, per Spotlight PA.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
SUDDEN SHIFT: Philadelphia became emblematic of a pandemic-era surge in U.S. gun violence. But after several years of record-setting statistics, The Inquirer (paywall) reports this year's pace rivals the lowest seen in decades. It's not entirely clear why. And while other big U.S. cities are seeing drops, Philadelphia's may be the steepest.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
IN DISPUTE: House GOP Leader Bryan Cutler (Lancaster) alleges taxpayer-funded resources were inappropriately used for President Joe Biden campaign events at the state Capitol this month. LNP (paywall) reports, via sister site WITF, that Republicans say this is different than non-legislative events joined by their members there.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
'THE WAREHOUSE': York County school board members were called together by a right-wing political action committee in March to discuss the work of a law firm that advocates for book bans and anti-LGBTQ+ policies in schools. York Dispatch (paywall) reports many of those officials' schools have signed on with the firm since.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
UNDER INDICTMENT: Democratic New Jersey powerbroker and former Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner George Norcross has been indicted in a sweeping racketeering case alleging a long-running corruption scheme, per Politico. The charges were announced at a news conference that had Norcross (surprisingly) in attendance.
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TREE OF LIFE: Groundbreaking on a memorial to the victims of Pittsburgh's Tree of Life massacre will take place Sunday with Second Gentleman of the United States Doug Emhoff set to deliver remarks, per the AP.

WITH GRATITUDE: Lancaster County native Jonathan Groff's Tony Award acceptance speech on Sunday included a thank you to his English teacher at Conestoga Valley Middle School, LNP reports, via sister site WITF.

PET LIMIT: Residents of West Mifflin Borough in Allegheny County would be limited to three dogs and no more than five dogs and cats total per house under a proposed ordinance, KDKA-TV reports.

FIRST PRIDE: Months after Democrats flipped the Dauphin County Board of Commissioners for the first time in 100 years, the county is recognizing Pride Month, one member says for the first time ever, via The Burg.

MOMENT OF ZEN: The roses are in full bloom at Hershey Gardens and LNP has a colorful one-minute virtual tour.
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