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Philly prepares for 2019; government shutdown continues | Morning Newsletter

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Saturnalian perform “The Greatest Show of Earth,” looking back on the Big Top circuses after the closing of Barnum and Bailey at the Mummers Fancy Brigade show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Saturnalian perform “The Greatest Show of Earth,” looking back on the Big Top circuses after the closing of Barnum and Bailey at the Mummers Fancy Brigade show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff PhotographerRead moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

You can feel the tension in the air: by the end of the day, we’ll know whether the Eagles will fly into the playoffs once more or end 2018 on a sour note. The outcome of today’s Eagles-Redskins game is sure to impact fans' New Year’s mood, but luckily the region is ready with fireworks and parades Monday and Tuesday to accompany any result.

This newsletter will go quiet over the next two days and return on Wednesday. In the meantime, we hope you have an enjoyable and safe start to the new year. See you in 2019!

— Aubrey Nagle and Tauhid Chappell (

The week ahead

  1. This afternoon the Eagles have one last chance to make the playoffs in what could be Nick Foles' last game as a Bird. It all starts at 4:25 p.m. as the Eagles look to beat Washington and hope Chicago defeats Minnesota. 

  2. A new year is on its way and Philadelphia is ready to send off 2018 in style tomorrow with events starting as early as noon and running into the wee hours.

  3. Following oh-so-closely behind those celebrations is a wake-up call to 2019 and New Year’s resolutions. This year it’s easy to get your kids involved in setting goals and start the year on a healthier note with check-ups and exercise routines.

  4. New Year’s Day also marks the return of a Philadelphia tradition: the 119-year-old Mummers Parade. And the forecast is looking good.

  5. The partial U.S. government shutdown, which is now in its ninth day, will continue into the New Year as a new Congress starts this week. Democrats take control of the House on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

This week’s most popular stories

Behind the story with Sam Wood

Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week, we spoke with cannabis reporter Sam Wood, who recently examined how Pennsylvania could capitalize on and profit off of the non-psychoactive sister of marijuana, hemp, which was legalized across the country after President Trump signed the Farm Bill.

What makes hemp such a lucrative commodity?

Hemp is said to have thousands of uses. Its champions say you can use it for rope, for interior car panels, to bioplastics to food stuff and nutraceuticals. [Cannabidiol], which is touted as a cure-all, is priced like liquid gold. Whether it works as claimed is debatable.

Are there already businesses in Pennsylvania that are in a position to capitalize on the plant’s legalization?

Not yet. There are a handful of enthusiasts and advocates who have participated in pilot hemp growing programs, but until a processing facility is built there’s no one selling Pa.-grown hemp products yet.

You mention in your recent report that Pennsylvania has had a two-year hemp pilot program which now gives it a leg up on other states trying to figure out hemp. What was that pilot program about and how has it benefited the state?

Hemp hadn’t been grown as a crop in the state for about 80 years. So the pilot focused on which genetic strains would grow best in Pennsylvania climate and soils. There’s a lot of research left to be done.

How do you think this will affect cannabis legalization at the state and federal levels?

As a crop, hemp must be isolated from marijuana. From what I understand, hemp cannot be grown within a 5 mile radius of a marijuana grow for fear it would lead to cross-pollination. When cross-pollination happens, you get a warehouse full of ditch weed. How will it have an impact on the law? It’s anyone’s guess. There’s hasn’t been active enforcement of hemp laws on the state or federal level for years. The agencies have bigger fish to fry with opioids, especially fentanyl. In our state, the Republican majority in Harrisburg will need a lot of convincing before the discussion can even begin about legalizing for adult-recreational use.

Contact Sam Wood at or on Twitter @SamWoodIII.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

Hedwig, is that you? What a rare shot, @soozi3q!

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!

#CuriousPhilly: Have a question about your community? Ask us!

Since Curious Philly launched earlier this year, we’ve answered more than a dozen questions from the community, from how street signs are repaired to why recycling is actually costing Philadelphia money. These questions couldn’t have been answered without our readers, so thank you for helping us help you! Something on your mind? No question is too big or too small, so feel free to ask us.

Our readers' latest question: What’s with the brassy plaques on the ground that read “The space between this sign and the building is not dedicated to the public?"

The answer: The plaque indicates that a building’s property line extends past the physical dimensions of the structure. In other words, the property owner owns more land than just the building.

What we’re...

  1. Baking: Eggnog Snickerdoodles, in the spirit of the holiday season and to show off to our friends and family.

  2. Drinking: Basil Hayden’s Two by Two Rye 80 Proof, a nice mix of two ryes and two bourbons that makes for a wonderful gift, according to restaurant critic Craig LaBan.

  3. Watching: On The Basis of Sex, a retelling of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Badger Ginsberg’s early life that focuses on her groundbreaking legal arguments regarding gender discrimination.

  4. Listening to: Laurin Talese, a jazz musician in Philly who just won the Sarah Vaughn Vocal Competition, a premier international contest for female jazz singers.

Comment of the week

“Seems like a reasonable program. I am happy the state is taking the initiative to expunge some of these records.” — Albert Z_89, on If you have an old criminal record, today you can finally get a Clean Slate in Pa.

A Daily Dose of | “History”

Could Nick Foles have saved the day during the British capture of Philadelphia, the nativist riots of 1844, or the Great Depression? Reporter Bethany Ao thinks the Super Bowl MVP could’ve come in handy.