On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus and his crew set sail from the port of Palos in southern Spain on three vessels: la Santa Clara (Niña), la Pinta and la Santa Gallega (Santa Maria). Two of the ships, the Niña and Pinta, were tiny by today’s standards—only 50 to 70 feet from bow to stern—but prized for their speed and maneuverability. The Santa Maria, Columbus’s flagship, was a larger, heavier cargo ship.
But 50 years later, the area’s Joint Union High School District is lunging at the logo.
[S]everal students and community members say is reminiscent of a shameful history of genocide and violence against Indigenous peoples at the hands of the Italian explorer.
Therefore, on Tuesday, the board canceled the Columbus-related craft on future mastheads, business cards, and all other district materials.
A new emblem is in the works.
In the meantime, Pioneer Valley High senior Yaquilina Auirre told SMT she’s delighted by the big difference:
“When they remove the logo, for me and the community, it would be really symbolic showing that the district is willing to change … it would show Indigenous students support, that we’ve got your back, that you’re allowed to embrace your culture.”
Future Leaders of America youth organizer Angel Lopez looks forward to what can happen in the situation’s wake:
“Moving forward, I think it can be important to address the anti-Indigenous bullying, derogatory comments and racism experienced by Indigenous students in these school settings.”
As of late, Columbus hasn’t exactly been hailed a hero.
“Like many communities across the country, Philadelphia is in the midst of a much-needed reckoning about the legacy of systemic racism and oppression in this country and around the world. Part of that reckoning requires reexamining what historical figures deserve to be commemorated in our public spaces.”
Apropos of intense analysis…
“In recent weeks, clashes between individuals who support the statue…and those who are distressed by its existence have deteriorated — creating a concerning public safety situation that cannot be allowed to continue.”
That same summer, 97,000 people petitioned to replace a Columbus effigy in New Jersey with that of black transgender icon Marsha P. Johnson.
[S]he was revered and was an inspiration to many in the LGBT+ community. She was a part of the Gay Liberation Front and staged a sit-in protest at NYU when the administration cancelled a dance sponsored by gay organizations. She also co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with her close friend Sylvia Rivera. They established a shelter for homeless, gay and trans kids called the STAR house, where they provided shelter, food, clothing and emotional support. She was referred to as “Saint Marsha” because of the things she did for New York’s LGBT+ community.
And that would make sense, as it’s in the city of Santa Maria.
The Santa Maria City Council chose the Santa Maria for Santa Maria’s logo.
These days, perhaps it’s the gesture itself that means something.
So as the Santa Maria Times reports (I withheld the outlet’s name for the big reveal), the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District in the city of Santa Maria is socking it to the Santa Maria City Council by refusing to give oxygen to the idea of the Santa Maria — by canceling a cartoon.
And that means something.
On Tuesday, the Santa Maria high school district board agreed to cease production of any new representations of its ship logo on business cards, mastheads, or other district supplies that have traditionally featured the image, and tasked Superintend… https://t.co/VX8CzcIZah
On Sept. 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States of America was signed by members of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
George Washington presided over the Convention, which featured Founding Fathers James Madison, James Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin.
According to James Madison, the Constitution was read to the delegates at the start of the Convention.
Benjamin Franklin, at 81-years old, wrote the speech urging the Convention’s delegates to sign the document. However, because of his poor health, James Wilson delivered the speech to the convention on Franklin’s behalf.
“I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them,” the speech began.
“I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected?” asked Franklin.
38 of the 41 delegates signed the Constitution. Elbridge Gerry, George Mason, and Edmund Randolph would not sign it.
After the Constitutional Convention, the Constitution had to be ratified by nine of the 13 states before it would become legally binding.
On Dec. 7, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, ratified the document. Massachusetts refused to support the document, arguing that did not protect freedom of speech, religion, and the press.
In 1788, Massachusetts, Maryland, and South Carolina agreed to support the Constitution after a compromise was reached that assured them that amendments addressing their concerns would be proposed. New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution on June 21, 1788, signifying the approval of a Constitution to the United States.
On March 4, 1789, nearly two months before George Washington was sworn in as President of the United States, the Constitution was officially adopted by the government.
A new book says President Biden’s father got a job in the 1980s at a scandal-plagued union group that continued to collect federal funds despite concern among officials in DC about financial irregularities.
Joe Biden Sr.’s role with the Council for Labor and Industry (CLI) in Philadelphia is not widely known and may represent an early instance of the Biden family cashing in on the senator-turned-president’s power — preceding examples involving first son Hunter Biden and the president’s brother Jim Biden.
Biden Sr. at first found success selling properties in Delaware, but when the early-’80s recession and housing slump hit, “he landed a client with less exposure to market forces,” according to an excerpt of the book shared with The Post.
The CLI was a quasi-governmental organization run by union members with public financing, ostensibly to promote employment. The organization and its members were dogged by accusations of illegal behavior.
Biden Sr. is believed to have worked with the group for at least 4 1/2 years — during which time the US Commerce Department’s inspector’s general office in 1985 alleged misconduct and recommended a cessation of federal funding, the book says.
The funding was not cut off, however. It’s unclear what role if any then-Sen. Biden played in that decision.
The book says “investigators at the US Commerce Department’s Inspector General’s Office discovered financial irregularities and recommended that the department cut off its funding to the council, but they were overruled by superiors.”
Congress has oversight powers and can exercise indirect influence over federal agencies, though the Republican Reagan administration controlled the executive branch at the time.
Later, when CLI collapsed under further scandal, “the US Department of Housing and Urban Development weighed in with a report that faulted the city Commerce Department for failing to keep the council in check.”
Biden Sr. placed a series of newspaper ads — signed J.R. Biden — in the Philadelphia Inquirer in December 1981 and January 1982 on behalf of CLI, offering to rent space at a warehouse complex, the book says.
CLI operated the Wissahickon Industrial Center in Philadelphia at the time. In 1981, Philadelphia officials axed CLI’s contract to store city voting machines at the facility because of water leaks and faulty temperature control — apparently explaining the available space on offer by the elder Biden.
Biden, first elected to the US Senate from Delaware in 1972, is a long-time ally to labor unions, including in Pennsylvania. In 1979 he was the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO’s keynote speaker for its annual dinner in Philadelphia.
CLI was originally known as the Council for Revitalization of Employment and Industry in Philadelphia — or CREIP — but was renamed after James Mahoney, a state AFL-CIO official who was treasurer for the CLI, was indicted on tax and mail fraud charges in late 1979. He pleaded guilty to offering contracts to businesses if they did free work on his home.
The rebranded CLI faced many subsequent legal issues. In 1982, the union group owed $500,000 in unpaid city taxes
According to businessman Rich Thoma, who worked with CLI, Biden Sr. was still working at the group’s headquarters in June 1986.
Thoma told Schreckinger that he saw Biden at the office the same day that CLI’s then-executive director James Toomey allegedly attempted to extort him by saying that a dispute over loan terms could be resolved if he gave the organization a stake in his hard disk storage company, called People & Technology. Toomey has since died.
CLI folded after losing the support of Pennsylvania Democrats.
In 1989, a nonprofit contractor accused the organization of misconduct and state labor secretary Harris Wofford — a future Democratic US senator — called for criminal probes. The city cut off funds.
The White House did not offer comment on this story.
“The Bidens” contains other reporting on the often murky links between Biden and his family’s business ventures, which drew harsh coverage in last year’s presidential campaign — most notably for apparent connections between the then-candidate and his son’s business relationships in Ukraineand China.
According to a book excerpt published by The Post, Jim Biden openly boasted about selling influence to his older brother as he and Hunter Biden sought to take over a hedge fund based in New York.
“Don’t worry about investors,” he allegedly told a corporate executive “We’ve got people all around the world who want to invest in Joe Biden… We’ve got investors lined up in a line of 747s ﬁlled with cash ready to invest in this company.”
Police are searching for a violent group of soccer hooligans who beat a man to death with a garbage can lid after an argument outside of South Philly’s famous Pat’s King of Steaks early Thursday morning, Philadelphia police said.
A fight broke out around 2 a.m., between two groups, in one of which at least seven had yellow soccer jerseys like those worn by the Mexico City’s Club America team that had defeated the Philadelphia Union just hours earlier in an international match, police said.
“That’s the info we’re getting preliminarily, that these individuals were soccer fans and that’s what may have been the motive of this fight that turned into a homicide,” Chief Inspector Scott Small told ABC 6.
Sources told the outlet that at one point in the rumble, someone struck the victim with the garbage can lid.
When he was wrestled to the ground, the assailants began punching and kicking him. He died of his injuries, police said.
The suspects fled in a white SUV. Police said they have security camera footage of the attackers and the incident.
Police believe alcohol may have been a factor in the deadly attack outside of the Philadelphia food attraction.
“Sometimes when alcohol is involved there are fights… Normally, these are well-run businesses that are quiet, safe. People just come here for a good steak sandwich. However, once in a while you get a fight that escalates into violence,” Small told ABC 6. In July, an argument between a New York Giants fan and a Philadelphia Eagles fan in line at the cheesesteak joint left one man dead after shots were fired.
Amid surging crime in Pennsylvania’s largest cities, it remains unclear if Democratic leadership is up to the task of ensuring law and order.
Take Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (pictured), who faces intensifying criticism as the city grapples with a public safety crisis. This year, 137 children under age 18 have been shot in city neighborhoods, and 32 have died. “That’s a bullet ripping into a young person’s body every 40 hours,” wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Helen Ubiñas.
Last month, after a 15-year-old girl was shot in the head in North Philadelphia (she died the next day), community activists called for Kenney to deploy the Pennsylvania National Guard in the crime-ridden city. Kenney, though, said it is not an “effective tool to bring in uniformed, camouflaged, gun-rifle-carrying people in helmets to address [the crime] problem.”
Recent data indicate that Philadelphia, where crime declined in the early 2010s, is now the second-deadliest city in the United States behind Chicago. As the Philadelphia Inquirer recently put it, “There’s only been one day so far this year – Jan. 2 – when not a single person was shot in the city.” The city experienced a 30-year homicide high in 2020. So far this year, homicides are up more than 24% and shootings more than 25%, according to data from the Philadelphia Police Department.
“The epidemic of gun violence in Philadelphia is out of control and our elected officials in the city need to step up and take responsibility,” said Nick Gerace, a retired longtime Philadelphia police officer and president of Protect Our Police PAC.
Prosecutions have fallen dramatically under Larry Krasner, the city’s progressive district attorney who has sparred with Kenney. As it stands, 65% of gun charges have been dismissed or withdrawn this year, marking a 17% increase since 2015. In 2015, there were 375 guilty pleas; in 2020, just 148.
Yet Kenney has deflected blame. In July, for example, the mayor sent a letter to a city council member who favors declaring the gun crisis an “emergency” and claimed that doing so “is not a solution that will demonstrably change conditions in Philadelphia.”
Earlier this summer, after the City Council voted to cut police funding by $33 million for fiscal year 2021, the mayor agreed to eliminate a $19 million increase and cut existing funding by $14 million.
Carlos Vega, a longtime assistant district attorney who unsuccessfully ran against Krasner in May’s Democratic primary, told me that the defund-the-police movement will fail.
“It’s communities of color being killed,” Vega said, observing how 85% of this year’s homicide victims are black. “People have not thought through the impact defund the police is going to have on communities who are suffering the most.”
Philadelphia is not alone among Pennsylvania cities in failing to stave off crime. Often overlooked amid the nationwide crime surge is Pittsburgh, in recent years considered the Rust Belt’s greatest urban success story.
Following last summer’s riots, homicides have about doubled in Pittsburgh in 2021 over the first six months. As recently as April, the city saw a 90% surge in violence, with police officers pleading for more programs and funding. Young people continue to fall victim to violence, and nonfatal shootings are up about 68%, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In late August, the University of Pittsburgh warned students about “violent criminal activity,” especially in the popular South Side neighborhood.
But Peduto’s praise for protesters wasn’t enough to survive the city’s Democratic mayoral primary this past May. The more progressive Ed Gainey is poised to win his job in November.
Gainey, a state representative who earned endorsements from Democratic socialists and a major health care union, went so far as to accuse Peduto of “overpolicing” the city. He has pledged to “redirect” law enforcement funds to social services.
Pittsburgh’s GOP insiders see no end in sight to the city’s surging crime. Bob Hillen, chairman of the Republican Committee of Pittsburgh, thinks that far-left Democratic leadership under Gainey will continue to give crime a “free pass.”
“We could use more police on the streets right now,” Hillen told me. “I mean, every night there is a shooting. This is well out of hand. We have to do something quick.”
Other regional Republicans are more optimistic. When asked about getting the Steel City’s crime situation under control, Republican state Rep. Rob Mercuri of Allegheny County said, “We can do this if we work together in the Pittsburgh region.”
The GOP is strategizing on how to oust Democrats in a historically moderate state. The focus is on Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. “Bill Peduto and Jim Kenney are gaslighting and deflecting blame,” says Allie Carroll, spokeswoman for the state Republican National Committee.
Kenney is term-limited, with Philadelphia’s next mayoral race in 2022, while Gainey is primed to assume office in a city that hasn’t elected a Republican mayor in 88 years. So Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, two Democratic strongholds, find themselves in similar straits. Will their problems trigger a statewide political backlash?
Gabe Kaminsky is a senior contributor for The Federalist. His work has appeared in RealClearPolitics, the New York Post, Fox News, and other outlets. Follow him on Twitter.
First responders in boats have gone door-to-door near Philadelphia to rescue dozens of people trapped in their homes, while 40 children were saved in Pittsburgh after their school bus was inundated by floodwaters from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
Aerial footage shot by FOX29 early Thursday showed some residents climbing down a ladder from a second-floor window in Bridgeport, just outside Philadelphia, and into a dinghy. Others were helped by crews onto boats after wading out of their homes through the waist-deep water.
The entire street was submerged by floodwaters after intense rain caused the nearby Schuylkill River to surge at least 12 feet and overflow overnight.
Bridgeport Borough manager Keith Truman told CNN about 50 residents had been rescued. First responders were still combing the area but no deaths had been reported so far.
The riverside neighborhood of Manayunk was also largely still underwater Thursday.
Major flooding swamped highways, submerged cars and disrupted rail service in the Philadelphia area.
City officials were still predicting “historic flooding” on Thursday as river levels continued to rise. The National Weather Service warned the Schuylkill River could surge to as high as 17 feet.
Meanwhile, dozens of kids and one adult needed to be rescued by boat in Pittsburgh early Wednesday after the yellow bus they were taking to Shaler Area High School became inundated by flash floods in Shaler Township.
“It got worse and worse, it was like a raging river,” Linda Reinhardt, who witnessed the rescue, told WPXI. “They described it as a wall of water coming down the hill.”
Four crews from the Cherry City Volunteer Fire Company were forced to respond to the scene on Seavey Road around 6:50 a.m. and used red, inflatable emergency rafts to rescue the kids and the bus driver, they said on Facebook. Photos of the rescue show the cheese bus’s tires completely submerged in the rising water.
“The kids opened the back door and they were ready to get out and we had to tell them to stay until the boats got there,” she told the outlet, describing the current as dangerously powerful.
Student Jason Vinski said his classmates were panicking.
“A lot of people were like screaming and stuff and I thought it was crazy because that’s never happened to me before,” the student said, saying the waters just kept rising.
“I looked out the window and I was thinking I could take a kayak out in it.”
The students were soaked from the rain and flood and some lost their shoes but no injuries were reported. They were later brought to school and given warm clothes.
Following the school bus rescue, the volunteer rescue teams responded to Millvale where they saved people from multiple residents after a local creek overflowed and flooded homes, the fire department said.
Numerous deaths were reported overnight across New York City and New Jersey as the storm-ravaged the area.
Rescuers were searching for more stranded people Thursday morning and were bracing for an increased death toll.
More than 200,000 electricity customers were still without power early Thursday across the northeast – mostly in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, according to PowerOutage.US.
CAUTION: Some material below is by its nature disturbing and graphic.
The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) is involved in barbaric experimentation using aborted baby body parts which are, by the university’s own admission, obtained by their abortionist partners, Planned Parenthood, from babies who are still alive when the organs are “harvested.”
What happens at Pitt after the aborted baby body parts are obtained is equally as gruesome. Just this May, it was revealed that in one experiment, Pitt was grafting aborted baby scalps onto lab rats to see if baby hair would continue to grow.
This depraved butchery must stop!
SIGN and SHARE this petition which calls on the Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh and the Board of Trustees to call an immediate halt to this appalling experimentation using preborn human beings.
Of course, all abortion is barbaric and wrong, but this is downright ghoulish!
But, to make matters even worse, some of this experimentation is paid for, in part, by your taxpayer dollars, in the form of NIH grants. And believe it or not, some of the grants even specify racial quotas of aborted baby parts for this grisly butchery.
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor, Patrick Gallagher, and to the Pitt Board of Trustees demanding that they put a stop to this ghastly experimentation.
At the same time, we will also CC this petition to the leadership of Pennsylvania State Legislature, urging them to do everything they can, including defunding (to the extent possible) any university departments involved in experimentation on aborted babies.
NB: You do not need to be from Pennsylvania to sign and share this petition. The University of Pittsburgh is a national leader in medical research and in receipt of millions of dollars in federal tax dollars, thereby necessitating a huge response from pro-lifers around the country!
After signing the petition, you might consider contacting the Pitt Board of Trustees directly to politely, but firmly, tell them to put a stop to this kind of barbarism masquerading as “scientific” inquiry.
(LifeSiteNews) – As pressure mounts on individuals to take the experimental COVID-19 vaccines, two more U.S. archbishops have refused to endorse religious exemptions for parishioners who wish to forego the abortion-tainted jabs.
Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle and Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia are the two latest Catholic prelates to actively discourage parishioners from seeking exemptions to accepting the ethically questionable COVID-19 jabs currently being rolled out across the nation.
Washington Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee announced August 18 that school staff working in both the public and private realms must have taken both COVID shots before October 18 or face losing their jobs. He also ordered that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals must wear masks, effective Monday. The only acceptable exception to the vaccine mandate is if the staff member can prove they have an excuse based on religious or health grounds.
Following this announcement, Etienne released a letter of his own the same day, instructing the clergy under his jurisdiction “not to provide or sign documents claiming a religious exemption,” the Northwest Catholicreported. In fact, the archbishop wrote to “highly encourage everyone to be vaccinated,” following the lead of Pope Francis, who characterized vaccinating as “an act of love.”
Etienne claimed that “it is not our place to sign any exemptions based on personal conscience. That is between each individual and their employer.”
The Seattle Archbishop added a note to clerics that, while denying vaccine exemption requests, they should “be gentle and pastoral with those who ask. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.” Etienne asked that his priests “[a]ffirm that the Church also emphasizes the voluntary nature of vaccinations,” as elucidated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its judgement on the qualifications for accepting the COVID-19 jabs. “Share your desire to accompany them and encourage them to consider what other steps they will take to protect the vulnerable and look after the common good,” he concluded.
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People of goodwill can disagree about the safety, efficacy and religious implications of a new vaccine for the coronavirus.
But, everyone should agree on this point:
No government can force anyone who has reached legal adulthood to be vaccinated for the coronavirus. Equally, no government can vaccinate minors for the coronavirus against the will of their parents or guardians.
Please SIGN this urgent petition which urges policymakers at every level of government to reject calls for mandatory coronavirus vaccination.
Fear of a disease – which we know very little about, relative to other similar diseases – must not lead to knee-jerk reactions regarding public health, nor can it justify supporting the hidden agenda of governmental as well as non-governmental bodies that have apparent conflicts of interest in plans to restrict personal freedoms.
The so-called “public health experts” have gotten it wrong many times during the current crisis. We should not, therefore, allow their opinions to rush decision-makers into policies regarding vaccination.
And, while some people, like Bill Gates, may have a lot of money, his opinion and that of his NGO (the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) – namely, that life will not return to normal till people are widely vaccinated – should not be permitted to influence policy decisions on a coronavirus vaccination program.
Finally, we must also not allow the rush by pharmaceutical companies to produce a new coronavirus vaccine to, itself, become an imperative for vaccination.
Unwitting citizens must not be used as guinea pigs for New World Order ideologues, or Big Pharma, in pursuit of a vaccine (and, profits) which may not even protect against future mutated strains of the coronavirus.
And it goes without saying that the production of vaccines using aborted babies for cell replication is a total non-starter, as the technique is gravely immoral.
However, if after sufficient study of the issue, a person who has reached the age of majority wishes to be vaccinated with a morally produced vaccine, along with his children, that is his business.
But we cannot and will not permit the government to make that decision for us.
Thank you for SIGNING and SHARING this petition, urging policymakers at all levels of government to reject mandatory coronavirus vaccination.
** While LifeSite opposes immorally-produced vaccines using aborted fetal cell lines, we do not have a position on any particular coronavirus vaccines produced without such moral problems. We realize many have general concerns about vaccines, but also recognize that millions of lives have been saved due to vaccines.
*** Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
Likewise in Philadelphia, the archdiocese has published a letter to priests, instructing them that they are not to sign their names to a parishioner’s vaccine exemption request.
The archdiocesan vicar for clergy Father Michael F. Hennelly wrote in the letter, reportedly obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer, that “[i]Individuals may wish to pursue an exemption from vaccination based on their own reasons of conscience,” but that “[i]n such cases, the burden to support such a request is not one for the local Church … to validate and we are not able to provide support for exemption requests on that basis.”
Philadelphia and Seattle join a slew of Catholic dioceses in which exemptions to the abortion-tainted jabs have been discouraged. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan has instructed his clergy to refuse to sign exemption letters for parishioners, based on the Pope’s continued support for the moral permissibility of the jabs.
Dolan was joined by Cardinal Blaise Cupich of Chicago, Archbishop José Gomez, the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, all three of whom cited the Holy See as having given its approval to the use of the morally dubious shots.
Going one step further, Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, has ordered that not only must there be no endorsement from the diocese on vaccine exemption requests, but that, before September 1, all diocesan staff “will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of their employment.”
In an August 17 letter, Stowe insisted that getting the jab “is an urgent matter of public health and safety,” adding his belief that there “is no religious exemption for Catholics to being vaccinated, and Pope Francis has repeatedly called this a moral obligation.”
Stowe made the claim that public health systems are overburdened “by a crisis caused primarily by those who refuse to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated.”
“This is unacceptable, and our diocese now joins those employers who have already made this basic commitment to the common good a requirement.”
The Kentucky prelate also used the opportunity to bring back “the policy of requiring masks for all employees at work at the Catholic Center.”
Meanwhile, the bishops of South Dakota and Colorado, as well as a bishop in Puerto Rico, have all given their support to those who have decided against being injected with the abortion-tainted jabs.
South Dakota Bishop Donald E. DeGrood of Sioux Falls and Bishop Peter M. Muhich of Rapid City signed a letter in which they explain that “one may accept COVID-19 vaccines in good conscience if certain conditions are met, but doing so is not a universal moral duty. We echoed the Vatican, which explained in a doctrinal note that ‘practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation.”
The bishops of Colorado took a similar position, noting that “well-founded convictions” inform the choice of many parishioners who forego the potentially life-threatening jabs.
“In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, we are convicted that the government should not impose medical interventions on an individual or group of persons,” the bishops wrote. This led them to affirm that “there is no authoritative Church teaching universally obliging Catholics to receive any vaccine. An individual Catholic may invoke Church teaching to refuse a vaccine that used abortion-derived cell lines at any stage of the creation of the vaccine.”
The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) also came out in support of freedom of conscience, with the Center’s president Joseph Meaney stating that “we do not approve of coercive pressure tactics or vaccine mandates, particularly ones without generous medical, conscience, and religious mandates.”
The NCBC has produced a template letter for Catholics who object to vaccine mandates, granting individuals an easy way to explain to employers “the principled religious basis on which a Catholic may determine that he or she ought to refuse certain vaccines.”
LifeSiteNews has produced an extensive COVID-19 vaccines resources page. View it here.
Even before the events of this past week, the United States was already facing a cascading set of challenges this summer, from surging consumer prices to the spiking of COVID-19 cases. Then, when Kabul fell, it became all the more clear that our political class had bungled another task to which it was entrusted.
But then again, should we be surprised? Our politicians cannot even ensure the safety of Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Oakland—let alone a foreign capital nearly 7,000 miles away.
Cities across the United States have experienced a wave of violent crime that has been on the march since last summer and has caused so much needless loss of life. This ongoing crime wave represents a fundamental failure in governance, in addition to the vapidness of the sloganeering that brought about this state of affairs. In the interest, though, of discussing solutions rather than just harping on the extent of the problem, we would like to put forward three concrete points that can help curtail our national revival of violent crime.
First, given federal statistics estimating that upwards of 80% of crime in certain jurisdictions is gang-related, law enforcement and local officeholders must make dismantling these criminal organizations a chief priority. The extent of the gang presence in certain cities can be so dramatic that it deters witnesses from coming forward. For instance, it has been more than a year since the June 2020 shooting in Charlotte that left four dead and 181 rounds fired into a block party, yet there still has not been a single arrest.
In Charlotte during the 1990s, however, the focus was always on arresting the most notorious gang members, which had an outsized impact on reducing crime—a result that was anticipated by decades scholarship demonstrating that targeted “gang takedowns” can result in dramatic reductions in crime.
Next, we must restore trust between police departments and prosecutors, two component parts of the criminal justice system that should be working together seamlessly. Many police departments, particularly in cities with progressive district attorneys such as Philadelphia, are suffering from low morale as trust erodes between police officers and prosecutors whose focus is on anything but taking criminals off the streets. It is demoralizing for police officers to go through the trouble of arresting suspects only to see them released and reoffending shortly thereafter. This—paired with so much rhetoric hostile to the police—also makes it more difficult to recruit stellar police officer candidates.
Finally, despite the spate of recent think pieces claiming that it is “racist” to enforce laws against loitering and similar lower-level offenses, it is essential to recall that social order is fragile and must be actively maintained. In Charlotte during the 1990s, for instance, people “tolerated no truancy,” and this was part of a broader focus on addressing homelessness, aggressive panhandling, littering and other so-called “quality of life” issues. The only difference this time around is we need a greater focus on alternatives to incarceration for certain drug offenders and those suffering from mental illnesses.
As much as one might be tempted, at first glance, to dismiss our ongoing crime surge as merely the result of activist district attorneys like Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner or San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin (pictured) paired with sloganeering (“Defund the Police”), these extreme examples sit within a broader climate of complacency about crime, which paradoxically could only have come into existence as a result of the relative safety achieved through the tough-on-crime policies championed from the 1990s until recently.
With political leaders on the back foot following recent events in Afghanistan, they would be wise to recenter competence and begin addressing the county’s many compounding difficulties. Crime is the place to start.
Pat McCrory served as the 74th governor of North Carolina from 2013 to 2017 and the 53rd mayor of Charlotte from 1995 to 2009.
Erich Prince co-founded and runs the online magazine Merion West.
As more cities push forward with vaccine mandates to one degree or another, one large city has moved to require all unvaccinated city workers to mask up — twice. Beginning September 1, all city workers in Philadelphia will be required to either receive one of the experimental vaccines or wear two masks. Proof of vaccination will be a prerequisite for all new hires. The mandate also extends to all healthcare workers and faculty, staff, and students at all city colleges and universities.
In an announcement last week, the City of Brotherly Love stated, “The City has a vested interest in ensuring that all staff are protected as thoroughly as possible from severe COVID infection and death.” The announcement went on to say that “as of September 1, the city will be instituting the following new policies” and listed the policies as: (1) “All City employees will be required to provide proof that they’ve completed their schedule of COVID-19 vaccinations,” (2) “New employees hired must be fully vaccinated as a condition of their employment,” and (3) “Employees who are not fully vaccinated by September 1 will be required to wear two masks (a cloth mask over a disposable or surgical mask) at all times while working on-site.”
Almost immediately following the announcement that city employees would need to vax or mask, the city also announced that starting October 15, all healthcare workers and all faculty, staff, and students at all Philadelphia colleges and universities will be required to receive one of the experimental vaccines. From that statement:
Starting on October 15th, all healthcare workers in the City of Philadelphia will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have a religious or medical exemption.
All staff, students, and faculty at colleges and universities in the city will also be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have a religious or medical exemption.
Philadelphia has a deep history steeped in liberty. This writer is reliably informed by his nine-year-old son (who has seen every episode of Liberty’s Kids several times) that Benjamin Franklin lived and worked there, using his printing press to sow the seeds of freedom into the hearts and minds of his fellow citizens; both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were written there, as was Thomas Paine’s Common Sense; the Liberty Bell resides there; and the Marquis de Lafayette traveled there at his own expense to present himself to the Continental Congress to volunteer his services as a military officer in the service of liberty.
Neither this writer nor his nine-year-old son can imagine the brave men and women of Philadelphia who fought for liberty against the tyranny of King George would be able to believe that their city is now mandating that free men and women receive an experimental pharmaceutical product against their will.
Neither liberty nor common sense appear to still have a place in government in Philadelphia.
Liberty would dictate that free men and women have the God-given right to make their own medical decisions. And common sense would laugh in the face of anyone wearing two masks — especially if one of those masks is a surgical mask.
This appears to be a simple matter of making it so much more difficult not to get the vaccine (by adding an arbitrary difficulty) that city employees will be more likely to cave to the pressure and get the shots.
As to mandating the vaccine at city colleges and universities, the city’s announcement claims that is because “vaccination rates in Philadelphia are the lowest in our younger folks and coincidentally, those are the folks with the highest rates of COVID infection these days” and so “it’s important that we do everything we can to cut that infection rate.” This does not address the medical fact that infections among “our younger folks” are still relatively rare and statistically are shown to be non-life-threatening.
And mandating vaccines for healthcare workers overlooks the fact that those who work in the industry are certainly not lacking information about either the risks or the efficacy of the experimental vaccines. That some of them have — even all these weeks and months later — still chosen not to get the shots should stand out as a point unto itself.
As to the “religious or medical exemption” clause in the mandate, it may not prove to be worth much. After all, Washington State University has just rescinded its “personal or philosophical” exemption for the experimental vaccines. And while a “personal or philosophical” exemption is not a “religious or medical exemption,” ask yourself which of those things actually carries more weight in our modern American society. “Personal or philosophical” ideas are the very hallmark of modern American society. A man who “identifies” as a woman is viewed as having a “right” to undress in front of women and girls in a female locker room or shower room. His “personal or philosophical” identity is seen as having more bearing than the physical reality of his male body.
If WSU can strike down “personal or philosophical” exemptions, “religious” exemptions won’t likely stand, either.
So far, cities across America — including New York City, and now Philadelphia, on the East Coast and San Francisco and Los Angeles on the West Coast — have begun implementing vaccine mandates to one degree or another. If that trend continues, the rest of America may find itself being squeezed from both sides.