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Phillies build strong ties to Latin America, how to pick the perfect Christmas tree | Morning Newsletter

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Wilson Ramos, gets a cooler dumped on him by fellow Venezuelan Odubel Herrera after his first game as a Phillie.
Wilson Ramos, gets a cooler dumped on him by fellow Venezuelan Odubel Herrera after his first game as a Phillie.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

It's not quite baseball season, but for my colleague Bob Brookover it's the perfect time to take a look at how far the Phillies have come. Today that includes a three-part series on the team's connections to Latin America, from their roster to their work in Venezuela. It's a must-read for any Philly sports fan. It is the holiday season, though, and if you're in the market for a Christmas tree, it's your lucky day: we've got a guide to picking the right one and keeping it alive.

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— Aubrey Nagle (@aubsn, morningnewsletter@philly.com)

To win baseball these days, a team has to be good at signing and developing players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and the other countries where it is the king of sports.

The Phillies have taken that to heart, using the most Latino players of any team in the National League in 2018 — and their influence is felt on and off the field.

In a new three-part series, reporter Bob Brookover examines the bond between the Phillies' Latino athletes, the roster's lack of Latino superstars, and the team's continuing work in Venezuela during civil unrest.

Once again, the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s annual present to the city — free Saturdays at parking meters Thanksgiving through New Year’s — is making seasons bright … for some.

The PPA and local businesses pitch the gift as a way to attract out-of-towners to the city's holiday events and shopping. But critics point out that the agency loses $400,000 of its annual parking meter revenue, a portion of which goes to Philadelphia schools, in exchange for this "gift."

No one quite knows whether the free parking actually does boost city businesses, and so the debate rages on.

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it’s time for many Philadelphians to put up their Christmas trees. If you’re looking for one that will last you through New Year’s, follow reporter Grace Dickinson’s tree-hunting advice.

More holiday advice comes courtesy of columnist Elizabeth Wellington: she traveled around Philly to find the best specialty boutiques with unique gifts for everyone on your list.

If you still have time (and energy) after all that shopping, you can keep spirits bright this week by creating a Philly-themed advent calendar in time for Dec. 1.

What you need to know today

  1. A dramatic decline in volunteer firefighters during the last 40 years has led to a "public safety crisis" in Pennsylvania, according to a new report which says incentives and funding are needed to fill the gap.

  2. The independent watchdog commission that reviewed how Philadelphia Police handled this past summer's Occupy ICE protests made suggestions for the police in a new report released Wednesday, including using social media better.

  3. Limited liability corporation-owned rentals are legal and growing nationwide, but a new bill in city council wants to require the people behind them to reveal their identities for the city's and tenants' sake.

  4. The Flyers have continued to clean house, firing assistant general manager Chris Pryor and assistant coach Gord Murphy. The team also put goalie Cal Pickard on waivers.

  5. Gaming regulators cleared a path Wednesday for Parx Casino in Bensalem and SugarHouse in Philly to launch sports wagering soon. In other casino news, South Philadelphia's long-delayed Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia is eying 2020 for its opening. 

  6. The owner of Lombardi's Pizza had a less successful day with state gaming regulators Wednesday as they revoked his permit to do business with Parx casino for alleged organized crime ties.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

That sparkly display is such a gift to holiday visitors, isn't it @justseas_21?

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

  1. This season the Sixers have had a knack for either getting off to slow starts or losing sizable leads. But on Wednesday they came in hot and pummeled the Knicks 117-91. 

  2. Philadelphia's first purpose-built mosque opened just last month, a moment that represents a milestone for the city's Muslim community, writes architecture critic Inga Saffron.

  3. The Army-Navy game, one of the greatest rivalries in college football, takes over Lincoln Financial Field next weekend and will put a friendship to the test: the teams' head coaches are best buds. 

  4. This year's must-have holiday toy was made just for the YouTube generation: the fun part is taking the dolls out of the box for 20 minutes. Confused? Same.

  5. This is good news or bad news depending on your willpower: you can now get Geno's Steaks delivered via Uber Eats.

  6. Years in the making, a bold new mural was unveiled at South Philadelphia High School Tuesday providing a colorful reminder of the student body's diversity and talents.

Opinions

"Kenney's not afraid to sue the Trump administration over his sanctuary city policies, or convince a reticent City Council to back his soda tax, take on running the school district, or antagonize his South Philly base by suggesting we move the Frank Rizzo statue. But street sweeping really, parking is a bridge too far."
— Columnist Mike Newall on Mayor Kenney’s “positively Dickensian” view of street sweeping.
  1. Russia's military attack on Ukraine ships is Putin's test of President Trump's mettle, writes columnist Trudy Rubin.

  2. The Trump administration's denial of transgender identity is a denial of science, writes Widener University professors Katherine Goodrich, Justin Sitron, and John Culhane.

What we’re reading

  1. Don't miss Philadelphia Magazine's mega-photo story on a day in the life of Philadelphia. From before dawn until well into the night, the pictures paint a captivating portrait of the city.

  2. The Philadelphia division of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration hosted a summit for elementary school students in Kensington Tuesday, WHYY reports, but it was no standard assembly. The kids learned to break dance and even watched a play inspired by their own poems.

  3. Gotta love research on Philly's unique way of speaking: a University of Pennsylvania professor is now studying how the city's accents are (gasp!) changing, the Daily Pennsylvanian reports.

  4. The Chicago Tribune got a little nostalgic with their look back at the fascinating slice of history that is Sears kit homes, houses you could order through their popular catalog.

  5. Some food for thought: examining a recent spate of art exhibits, films and TV shows that present fiction as history, the Guardian is asking what impact "imaginary facts" have on our culture.

Your Daily Dose of | Miracles

Talk about living life in the fast lane: earlier this month a South Philly woman delivered her own baby in the middle of a snowstorm on I-95 in Boston in a car going 90 miles per hour.

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