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For presidential elections, Berks County is a ‘microcosm’ of Pennsylvania | Morning Newsletter

And, today’s the first day of fall.

    The Morning Newsletter

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Happen to step outside early this morning? If so, you could have mistaken it for mid-October. Fall is officially here, and with it comes some changes that we should be talking about. And, today also marks six weeks until Election Day. There’s a county in Pennsylvania that’s correctly signaled the state’s presidential winner in four of the last five elections. My colleague was on the ground in Berks County to see what’s going on.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

About 90 minutes northwest of Philadelphia, Democrats and Republicans have descended upon Berks County to court support for their presidential candidates, and for good reason.

Voters in Berks County have backed the winner of Pennsylvania in four out of the last five presidential elections. A local Republican chair told my colleague Chris Brennan that Berks County is “a harbinger" for the state and a Democrat state senator called it a “microcosm” of Pennsylvania.

The autumnal equinox arrives at 9:30 this morning, meaning that for an instant the sun will divide its energy equally between Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres. In other words, it’s the first day of fall. And it sure feels that way with temps in the 40s early in the morning.

With the arrival of fall, sunlight is making way to darkness, which is increasing by more than two minutes a night. And that can disrupt sleeping and eating patterns. My colleague Anthony R. Wood spoke with experts about how to deal with the new season.

What you need to know today

  1. The U.S. House yesterday passed a bill unanimously that would make it easier for young people abused in residential facilities to hold the institutions accountable in court. It was inspired by The Inquirer’s investigation into decades of abuse at the Glen Mills Schools.

  2. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling about “naked ballots” could “cause electoral chaos,” according to Philadelphia’s top elections official.

  3. People who have a substance abuse disorder, especially involving tobacco or opioids, appear to be at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 and of developing a serious case of the virus, according to a new study.

  4. Construction on Washington Avenue’s major transformation will start next summer. My colleague Patricia Madej outlines what’s changing.

  5. A new study from a Penn researcher has found that some antidepressants might help reduce signs of Alzheimer’s.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Ready or not, the first day of fall is today. Thanks for sharing these shots, @tominphilly.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout-out!

That’s interesting

  1. 🍽️The Philly-area has lost some beloved restaurants so far this year. We’ve also seen some new ones open, but they’re coming at a slower pace than they have in previous years.

  2. 🕵️In Roxborough, there was a Democrats for Trump billboard. But there’s some mystery as to who paid for it. And, adding to the confusion, by Saturday it had been replaced with an ad about lowering blood pressure.

  3. 🐘Lucy the Elephant is welcoming guests via Airbnb this week, six months after the pandemic delayed overnight stays.

  4. 🦅The Eagles are 0-2 largely because “Carson Wentz stunk for the second game in a row,” writes columnist Marcus Hayes.

  5. 🎧Elise Greenberg and Steve Miller live at the corner of Second Street and Girard Avenue and have been hearing so many songs blasting from cars below that they decided to compile a public playlist called “Girard jams.” You can listen to it on Spotify here.


“I’m not trying to change your vote. But I am asking you to join me in working for the country that most of us believe in, where everyone counts and every vote is counted. There will be challenges to our election system this election season that we’ve never seen before. If we join together, I know we can meet them.” — writes Jane Palmer, a volunteer organizer and founder of Berks Stands Up, about Pennsylvanian’s needing to do more than vote this election season.

  1. The Parkway encampment isn’t sustainable, writes Dennis J. Boylan, the president of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

  2. Columnist Will Bunch writes about what he thinks should happen if President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell try to confirm a new Supreme Court justice.

What we’re reading

  1. The Philadelphia Tribune covers a new Philadelphia Housing Authority initiative to help out with virtual learning.

  2. Slate has an article about what appears to be a renaissance moment for Philadelphia-set movies.

  3. This story from Bon Appétit focuses on a chef who was imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay and would describe fellow prisoners' favorite dishes for them to create “these imaginary banquets [that] became a vital source of nourishment.”

Your Daily Dose of | Nature

Venezuelan artist Carols Gil takes photos of nature, then uses digital technology to combine between five and eight layers of pictures that he manipulates by mixing composition and color. They’re like paintings, my colleague Jesenia De Moya Correa writes. Gil is based in Philly and has a new exhibit called Apparent Spaces at Taller Puertorriqueño.

Correction: An earlier version of this newsletter misstated the number of times Berks County voted for the candidate who won Pennsylvania in the past five presidential elections. It was 2, not 4.