Winter, where are you? Yesterday’s high in Philly hit 60. Today, despite the rain, will be yet another warm-for-January day. Was Punxsutawney Phil right?

In other news, the Iowa caucuses have been thrown into chaos, the fear about the coronavirus may be more damaging than the virus itself, and Gritty is cleared after a police investigation.

In 2019, Pennsylvania had nearly 52,000 international students enrolled at universities across the commonwealth. That’s the sixth-highest international student population in the country. And for many of these students, adjustments on all levels can be a struggle, making students more susceptible to anxiety and depression.

My colleague spoke with students about the challenge to open up due to cultural stigma while working with mental health professionals who may have too little understanding of their cultures to be truly helpful.

The current panic over coronavirus reminds social scientists of the 2002 outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in China. That’s because both incidents fed anxieties regarding globalization, immigration, economic disruption, national security, bioterrorism, and more. But now, digital and social media are making it worse.

While unknowns can be unnerving, the fear of a pandemic can be more dangerous than the actual virus. For example, governments, companies, and airlines have restricted travel and trade with China, despite the World Health Organization saying it’s unnecessary. And that fear, my colleague reports, often comes with persecution and prejudice.

What you need to know today

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

It looks like we’ll be getting some showers this morning 🌧️, but it’ll be rain, not snow. Sorry about that, @aimeebsiegel. Any other winter-lovers out there?

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


“The party’s bylaws do not currently prevent a person convicted of a crime related to their elected duties from holding a ward leader position, so unless something changes, Bobby Henon and Kenyatta Johnson could hypothetically have a direct vote on their replacements depending on the nature of their sentences.” — writes Jon Geeting, the director of engagement at the political organization Philadelphia 3.0, about why Democratic leaders should change the rules regarding their two indicted City Councilmembers.

  • Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen writes for The Inquirer that “safe injection sites” have nothing “safe” about them.
  • So many of Philly’s Indego e-bikes that use electric motors to boost pedaling power have gone missing that the city has temporarily taken the fleet out of service. The Inquirer Editorial Board writes that the e-bikes are a welcome addition, but not until the city can properly protect the public’s investment.

What we’re reading

Your Daily Dose of | A Heroic Pup

Billy is a Philly wonder dog. The 5-year-old bull terrier and his humans were walking earlier this month near their West Philadelphia home when two armed men confronted them. Sensing danger, Billy began to bark. The gunman opened fire, hitting Billy in the chest. Billy was then rushed to an animal hospital, where he had two surgeries and nearly three weeks of intensive care. "I belong to him,” Felipe Sinisterra, one of Billy’s owners, said, chuckling. “He rescued me.”