Hello, dear readers of the Inquirer Morning Newsletter, and happy Friday.
First: In recent years, Philadelphia has accounted for one out of 10 homicide exonerations in the U.S. — a per capita rate 25 times higher than the rest of the country — and it’s raising serious questions.
Then: An art conservator found something hiding under two priceless portraits of Mexican royalty that will soon hang in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
And: Vaccine hesitancy among Republican men is soaring, so what are political party and public health officials doing to reach them? Not much, our reporting shows.
P.S. As you prepare for the weekend, keep an eye on the allergy sufferer in your life: Tree and grass pollens are forming an “alliance of torment.”
Philadelphia has seen a startling wave of exonerations: 20 murder convictions tossed since 2018, most of them hinging on some alleged misconduct by homicide detectives or prosecutors.
In the last two years, the city accounted for one out of 10 homicide exonerations in the country.
But similar allegations exist in scores of cases, in which witnesses, defendants, or lawyers said detectives hid evidence or coerced statements through threats, physical abuse, or prolonged isolation. Those exonerations cast a new light on Philly’s homicide-clearance rate, which was among the highest in the country for years, and plummeted after reforms were adopted in 2014. Read the full story from reporter Samantha Melamed.
A new Inquirer database compiles information from court filings, official records, and other reporting so that you can learn about some cases where misconduct has been alleged. Access the database.
And here’s more information about Pennsylvania’s rule on “prior inconsistent statements,” which allows even statements witnesses insist were coerced to be read into evidence.
When the Frank Gehry-designed galleries at the Philadelphia Museum of Art open today, paired formal portraits of Agustín de Iturbíde, emperor of Mexico, and his wife, the empress, Ana María, painted by Josephus Arias Huarte in 1822, will be on display, hung in a prominent corner.
But that is not all that will be there.
These two portraits are actually four portraits.
As reporter Stephan Salisbury writes, it all started in 2017, when an art conservator was scrutinizing works for an exhibition and noticed, staring up at her from within the belly of the empress of Mexico, was an eye.
Here’s when you need to wear a mask, according to CDC guidance. We broke it down with our expert-informed guide, whether or not you’re vaccinated.
This is what we know about rare “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections in vaccinated people.
Here’s what you need to know about taking allergy medicines before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Where can you get a COVID-19 vaccine in the Philly area? Use our lookup tool.
What you need to know today
Coronavirus vaccine skeptics in Pennsylvania need reassurance from elected officials they trust. But many Republican lawmakers are keeping quiet, and some of the officials who are actually speaking up are spreading misinformation.
For 70 years, a Wistar vaccine pioneer has studied immune responses. Now he’s working to understand just how much protection antibodies and the vaccine offer against COVID-19.
A judge dismissed a lawsuit by the wrestling official in the controversial South Jersey dreadlocks case.
Pennsylvania approved the private takeover of Royersford’s sewer system. Rates will increase 70%.
Peco improperly shut off nearly 50,000 customers because of computer glitches, according to a settlement.
The Element by Westin, occupying a section of the Center City skyscraper that will also host a W hotel, is set to open Friday. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s hospitality businesses are hoping that the easing of pandemic restrictions will help fuel a summer-tourism rebound.
Through your eyes | #OurPhilly
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🎻 Live. On stage. With an audience. Opera Philadelphia’s abbreviated Tosca at the Mann seemed like old times to classical music critic David Patrick Stearns.
🍻 Here is a list of the best things to do in Philly this weekend and next week.
🏈 Aaron Rodgers once explained why Jalen Hurts will face so much pressure this season with the Eagles, writes sports columnist Mike Sielski.
🚣 Drexel and Temple seniors are grateful for a fifth year and another shot at the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta.
“As more people get vaccinated, I am finding myself feeling increasingly hopeful, as if we might actually be closing in on the end — if only we can take the long, hard lessons of the last 14 months and not take so much for granted,” writes columnist Helen Ubiñas.
Waiving patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines will do little in the short term to help India obtain millions of doses, writes columnist Trudy Rubin.
Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities can be a ray of hope amid a battered Rust Belt economy, writes columnist Will Bunch, so why have GOP lawmakers suffocated them?
What we’re reading
Philly Mag goes long on Philly Fighting COVID, with whom the city formed a failed vaccine partnership that became a national embarrassment.
The Atlantic writes about eccentric billionaire Elon Musk, and his unwavering push to take people to Mars sooner rather than later.
The New York Times looks at the forthcoming Amazon series The Underground Railroad, and examines how Barry Jenkins and his band of indie filmmakers made television’s most ambitious take on American slavery since Roots.
Last summer, the pandemic forced Pamela Rogow to close her WPM Typewriter Shop in Mount Airy to the public. So the former museum exhibit and experience designer decided to move her operation outside, creating a Garden of Typewriters.