New LED traffic lights: are they accidents waiting to happen?

Fueled by the goal of drastically cutting their expensive electricity bills, cash-strapped municipal governments around the United States have been changing over from traditional light bulbs to new energy-saving light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in traffic lights at thousands of intersections.  But unlike "impact studies" that often have to be done for zoning, planning and road construction projects, no one seemed to think twice about the impacts of such a move. Yes, it saves plenty of energy...

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Winter snow and ice is here: be careful so you don’t get sued for having icy sidewalks

Now that winter officially began on Dec. 21,  two days after a powerful storm dumped almost two feet of snow over Philadelphia and the region, it's the perfect time for homeowners, renters and business owners to review their responsibilities when it comes to clearing their sidewalks after a snowstorm. Think no one's watching if you leave the snow out there and skip the shoveling?  Think again. Most municipalities have laws requiring that sidewalks be cleared...

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Airline passengers finally getting some real rights

You've heard those horrific stories in recent years about airline passengers whose flights sit on airport taxiways or gates aprons for hours because the planes are waiting for the weather to improve or for an arrival gate to open up. You've heard about the problems as the planes just sit there for hours on end in the cold or the heat, as the planes become foul-smelling as toilets fill up and can't be used anymore. ...

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Free at last after 35 years in prison, any of us could have been James Bain

After spending 35 years in prison for a crime he always insisted he hadn't committed, James Bain walked out of the courthouse in Polk County, Fla., yesterday, a free man once again,  according to an Associated Press story in today's New York Times. It took many legal attempts to finally get the courts to analyze his DNA and compare it to DNA left at the scene of the kidnapping and rape of a nine-year-old boy...

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Satellite TV sports viewers rejoice: the FCC could end the Comcast “SportsNet” monopoly

Monopolies are typically not a good thing, unless you are playing the popular and beloved Parker Brothers game with your children. But for years, Philadelphia sports fans in the greater Philadelphia area who wanted to watch most of the games involving their beloved Phillies, Flyers and Sixers on television  haven't been able to watch unless they subscribed to Comcast Corp.'s cable TV services.  That's because most Phillies, Flyers and Sixers games are broadcast only on...

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T’is the season NOT to be driving drunk

With the December holidays in full swing, from Hanukkah to Kwanzaa to Christmas to New Year's Eve,  it's a perfect time for us all to remember and carefully consider the dangers of  drinking and driving as we celebrate family, friends and festive events. According to the activist group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), last year there were 11,773 fatalities nationally involving a driver with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater.  That's...

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Life sentences and juvenile offenders — what is fair and right?

A 13-year-old boy is not an adult. Yet when a 13-year-old boy commits a heinous crime, our court system in the U.S. can treat him like an adult and lock him up for life. That was the case for Joe Harris Sullivan, who was convicted 20 years ago in a Florida court of beating and raping an elderly woman after an in-home robbery -- all when he was 13 years old.  He'd been in trouble...

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