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Cheyney University in trouble, Amtrak rebuked for safety lapses, Meek Mill appeals | Morning Newsletter

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This is Burleigh Hall at Cheyney University.
This is Burleigh Hall at Cheyney University.Read moreMichael Bryant

Welcome to Wednesday, friends. There's plenty to catch up on this morning, including sobering updates from yesterday's shooting in California and fresh accusations against Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams. Take a deep breath and dive in but don't skip the happier fare. A few tales of local do-gooders restored my faith in humanity for the day.

If you like what you're reading, it's free to sign up to get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday. I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and feedback, so please email me, tweet me @aubsn, or reach our social team on Facebook.

— Aubrey Nagle

» READ MORE: Cheyney University, nation’s oldest HBCU, in trouble

Cheyney University, the nation's oldest black college, is failing. Enrollment is plummeting, and the students that do attend are left riddled with debt. Fewer than 20 percent go on to graduate within six years.

Can the school survive? Alumni have rallied to save it, but if the school's accreditation is revoked in a hearing Thursday, the 180-year-old school would almost certainly close.

So, where did it all go wrong? An Inquirer and Daily News investigation into years of court records, audits, interviews, and federal data tell a grim story of mismanagement. Failing to open thousands of student applications and mishandling millions in federal grants are just the tip of the iceberg.

» READ MORE: Investigators say Amtrak’s lax safety culture led to fatal crash

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation lambasted Amtrak after it found 20 safety violations that led to the fatal crash in Chester in April 2016. Two workers were killed as a result, and 39 people on the train were injured.

The NTSB said Amtrak created a culture of fear among employees that led to lax safety measures. If not safety, what was Amtrak's priority? On-time performance.

The damning report follows a few years under the spotlight for Amtrak, after the 2015 derailment of one of its trains in Philadelphia killed eight. That accident drew attention to an automated speed control system that could have prevented it. Called Positive Train Control, that technology was in place where the Chester crash happened.

» READ MORE: Undercover Gangster: Another Twist, Another Crime

A surprising revelationand another crime scenegreet a detective chasing a manipulative gunman. The third chapter in David Gambacorta's five-part series "Undercover Gangster" is now available.

Need to catch up?

  1. Chapter 1: A detective has to untangle a shocking murder plot, while a key suspect is leading dual lives.

  2. Chapter 2: A hospital room visit helps him ID a gunman who feels compelled to take a deadly path.

What you need to know today

  1. Yesterday a Northern California man killed two of his neighbors before continuing a 45-minute shooting spree during which he killed two more people and tried to enter an elementary school. Here's what we know so far.

  2. A second woman has accused Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams of sexual harassment, and another woman was paid by state Democrats to settle. Williams has denied the claims.

  3. Myanmar's military has denied yet again that its security forces have committed atrocities against Rohingya Muslims despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

  4. Meek Mill is appealing his sentence and asked Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley to recuse herself from further involvement in the case.

  5. The race continues: Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai will seek the Republication nomination for governor.

  6. A billboard advertising a South Jersey gun club is being called racist, and activists want it taken down. Of course, the range's owner disagrees.

  7. Family, fans, and former teammates took to Florida's Spectrum Field to celebrate the life of Roy Halladay yesterday in a touching show of love for the former Phillie.

» READ MORE: #OurPhilly

We want to see what our community looks like through your eyes. Show us the park that your family walks through every weekend with the dog, the block party in your neighborhood or the historic stretch you see every morning on your commute to work.

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 to build those followers!

That’s Interesting

  1. Today in news that'll make you cry happy tears: earlier this year, Chester native Brennon Jones began offering free haircuts to the homeless. Now he's opened his own barbershop thanks to a stranger's good deed.

  2. It's really happening: Christmas Village returns to LOVE Park as of Thanksgiving Day. Bring on the schnitzel and Gluehwein.

  3. Having one Instagram account is so 2014. Kids these days have a "Rinsta" (real Insta) for personal brand management and a "Finsta" (fake Insta) to show off their authentic selves. Counter-intuitive? Yes. Fascinating? Also yes.

  4. Wanted: new owner for a Wayne hoagie shop where everyone knows your name. Jim Landis, 79, is closing his landmark Landis Restaurant after 50 years—unless someone wants to buy it, that is. Any takers?

  5. If you're a foodie who knows where to get tonight's hottest res, you've probably seen the work of Kate Rohrer, Bucks-bred creative and restaurant designer extraordinaire.

  6. Local 12-year-old rap phenom Matt Ox, whose music video "Overwhelming" has been viewed over 16 million times, just got a record deal. More like overachieving, am I right? Here all week, folks.


"People who are 'dealing marijuana' are essentially running small-scale wholesale-to-retail delivery services, almost like farm-to-plate." Philly420 columnist
— Chris Goldstein outlines the four

What we’re reading

  1. As our Instagram of the day illustrates, The Great Ginkgo-Tree Leaf Dump has come our way. The Atlantic explains why on earth the leaves seem to fall all at once.

  2. Did you know that jazz age superstar Josephine Baker helped French intelligence spy on the Axis during World War II? Learn all about it from a new book excerpted in The Daily Beast.

  3. Guess I'm in a bookish mood: you should dog-ear Curbed Philly's look at a new tome about PAFA's famed Frank Furness building.

  4. Bettye Kearse grew up learning an oral history that she was descended from a president and an enslaved woman. Her journey for answers through DNA, as recounted in The Washington Post, had me hooked with its twists and turns.

  5. If you've ever received a text that reads just, "Ok." you know how important a punctuation mark can be. This Buzzfeed exploration of the death of the period is great, nerdy fun. 

Your Daily Dose of | Creativity

A Pulitzer Prize-winning composer wrote a symphony for hundreds of broken instruments from local schools to raise funds to fix them. Because writing a symphony for regular instruments just wasn't a challenge anymore.