Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University have announced a preliminary agreement to merge. The deal to join the two fast-evolving institutions is expected to close by the end of June. The universities' leaders say the merger will help the institutions offer more programs focused on real-world problems. "Most schools say, 'Let's have this little program and try to make it special.' We're saying we have this university, and it will all be special," said Philadelphia University president Stephen Spinelli Jr. The agreement could boost Philadelphia University's profile and give some of its undergraduates a straighter shot to Jefferson's medical school, while Jefferson will see its enrollment nearly double. Read more
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane will not discipline her twin sister, a top prosecutor in her office, for exchanging emails that mocked minorities, immigrants and battered women.  A spokesman for Kane -- who has said others who shared similar messages should resign -- called some of the emails sent and received by Ellen Granahan "questionable," but said there were too few to warrant punishment. "As a whole, they don't meet the same standard of offense," spokesman Chuck Ardo said. Critics that include the chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association and the leader of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women are calling Granahan's emails "degrading" and "hateful." Read more
The warm December weather means flowers and trees in the Philadelphia area are poking out of the ground or blooming as if it's spring. Area horticulturists say the plants will probably survive whatever the weather brings, but spring might not be quite as pretty as normal because of the early blooms. "Plants are pretty resilient, said Lena Struwe, a plant biologist at Rutgers University. "The thing that kills plants off is really deep frost." Read more
A Philadelphia judge ruled that rapper Meek Mill again violated his probation from a 2008 drug and gun conviction, hinting that the star's next tour stop could be prison. He's slated to be sentenced Feb. 5. "I know the people who support you really want you to get probation," Common Pleas Judge Genece E. Brinkley said at a Thursday hearing. "I don't know that would be appropriate because you and I have been around the block a few times." The courtroom was packed with supporters and the 28-year-old's entourage, including superstar girlfriend Nicki Minaj. While Mill awaits sentencing, he is barred from performing and is only allowed to travel to five counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Read more
State officials have shut down a Franklinville day-care center where an infant died this week, saying it was operated with "gross incompetence, negligence and misconduct," with conditions presenting "serious danger to the life and health of the children." A Pennsylvania Department of Human Services report detailed more than a dozen violations at Sisters Childcare Center at 3539 Germantown Ave. Staff knew the 10-month-old girl wasn't well when she was dropped off Wednesday, but did not provide any "additional care or supervision" for hours after, and no one at the site had up-to-date first aid or CPR training. A staffer tried CPR while carrying the infant, whose name and cause of death have not been released, to Temple University Hospital. Read more