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According to the state of Pennsylvania, an internet connection of 1.5 megabits per second qualifies as “broadband.” That 30-year-old standard is barely fast enough to perform essential tasks, like making Google searches and reading this newspaper’s editorials. Streaming video or making a video call over 1.5 mbps internet would be like trying to suck a milkshake through a coffee stirrer. Read more

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Why is abortion the most divisive issue in American politics? Because Americans are fundamentally compassionate and fair-minded people. They don’t want to bully pregnant women, and they don’t want to hurt babies. What decent person wants to impose (as pro-choice advocates put it) a “forced birth” on a woman? And what caring human being wants to (as pro-lifers say) “stop a beating heart”? Read more

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In a combination of overstatement and bad timing, the Legislature’s nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office needlessly has complicated the simple question of whether the state government underfunds about 200 of its 500 school districts. It’s of particular concern to the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre Area districts, two of the most badly underfunded. Read more

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PennDOT’s bid to toll nine interstate bridges across the commonwealth as part of a public-private partnership still has several hurdles to clear. But its toll collection partner — the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission — has already contracted for the nine toll gantries in question. Small wonder that the car-driving, toll-paying public suspects that their voice doesn’t really matter. Read more

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Families, adults with intellectual disabilities and autism, organizations that provide services, and disability advocates are witnessing the collapse of Pennsylvania’s intellectual disability and autism (ID/A) system. Day programs have closed or scaled back services, at least 6,500 people have lost services in the past 18 months, and families are facing unemployment and financial ruin to stay home and care for adults with disabilities. The reason is clear: the payment rates set by the Department of Human Services have not kept pace with the cost of providing home and community-based services (HCBS), so provider organizations are unable to recruit, hire and retain Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to work in these programs. Read more

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The COVID-19 pandemic transformed telehealth by creating a sudden imperative for remote delivery of medical care to the benefit of patients and providers alike. That transformation has catapulted telehealth and its many benefits to the forefront of mainstream medicine. The challenge now: Make those benefits permanent and expand them further to improve value in care delivery. Read more

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Bravo to Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin for urging the Biden administration to create a cabinet-level arts and culture post. In an open letter recently, Nézet-Séguin — who is also music director of New York’s Metropolitan Opera — said the pandemic’s crippling impact on the creative economy makes “a voice at the table” in Washington, D.C., even more critical. Read more

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Some Pennsylvania dairy farmers, after years of struggle with volatile and evolving markets for their product, entered 2020 cautiously optimistic about their financial situation. “Then, COVID-19 hit. And by mid-March, a government-ordered shutdown forced dairy-buying restaurants closed, instead sending customers to clear out grocery store shelves,” LNP ‘ LancasterOnline’s Sean Sauro reported for a story that appeared in the Sept. 27 Sunday LNP. “It was an abrupt change in the farm-to-consumer supply chain — one that left processors unable to quickly adapt, leading to waste and yet another round of profit loss.” Read more

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Normally when 2 p.m. arrives on Saturdays here in Latrobe, a certain peacefulness resounds and it’s as if the world is standing still. There is little movement and silence takes over. That’s been typical ever since I lived in this town. Now, however, that same silence has caused a certain stillness brought on by a disease that has spread around the world. To make it worse, government has mandated rules we stay inside causing more lack of movement. Read more

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Recently, Apple and Google caused a stir among cybersecurity experts and privacy advocates in particular with their announcement that they are jointly working on an application to enable contact tracing through their respective devices’ Bluetooth systems. But these digital applications could pose privacy and security concerns of which communities should be aware. Read more

SPECIAL EDITION

  • Once again we are showing our gratitude and asking for your support for our local volunteer fire departments in our Hometown Heroes 2020.

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