It's Friday! Whether your weekend includes plans for apple-picking, a Harry Potter festival or something else entirely, it looks like some beautiful weather is in store. But first, today's news.

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— Tommy Rowan

Kevin Brinkley leaves the building at SCI Forest.
Samantha Melamed / Staff
Kevin Brinkley leaves the building at SCI Forest.

It's been 40 years since Kevin Brinkley was charged for a crime that his family has always insisted his brother committed — a claim even the original prosecutor now acknowledges is most likely true.

Thursday morning, the family members who have been advocating for him for the past four decades rented a 15-passenger van and drove more than five hours to be there when Brinkley finally got to step outside prison for the first time.

When Brinkley finally emerged, he stood as a quiet man with a shy, timid smile, silently hugging his family members one by one. On a wheeled cart packed in a trunk were all the earthly possessions he'd accumulated over 40 years: a small television, his asthma inhaler, a file box containing his legal papers and a few personal documents.

"I'm all right," he said.

Washington Township High School officials are trying to calm racial tensions that erupted this week between some black and white students in the Gloucester County district following a nasty, racially provocative social media exchange that seems to have originated on the football team. A scuffle followed the next day in the school's hallways. The principal has called in the NAACP and others to help quell the anger.

The incident follows a similar outburst at a Quakertown High school, covered by columnist Jenice Armstrong, which also originated at a football game. At a soccer match Thursday night in Quakertown, the school superintendent told The Inquirer: "This is not just a one-time incident. We have a problem."

Former District Attorney Seth Williams — who has been in prison since pleading guilty to corruption charges in June — received another indignity on Thursday: He was officially disbarred by order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The disbarment was backdated to April.

He will be sentenced next week, and prosecutors are asking for Williams to get a five-year prison term.

What you need to know today

  • The School Reform Commission outlined the steps it must take to begin to dissolve itself at a meeting Thursday night. While this is not a strict commitment to doing so, the meeting marked the first time the SRC has publicly laid out a roadmap for killing itself off.
  • A new YouTube video is racking up millions of views, but also questions about how far is too far to go in dealing with customers suspected of shoplifting. The video shows 7-Eleven employees holding two black women hostage inside their locked store as police are summoned. Once the police arrive, one of the women swung at an officer. Meanwhile, an onlooker screams, "Black lives matter." Columnist Jenice Armstrong writes calls the situation a mess: "I don't cosign on watching ratchet behavior as entertainment, but the video offers up some reminders about the limits shopkeepers can go in dealing with customers and also for how people need to behavior in police custody."
  • People with direct knowledge of the environmental conditions inside city schools say that there are lots of other schools like J.B. Kelly, the Germantown elementary shut last week because of widespread mold. Kelly is the "tip of the toxic iceberg," said David Masur, head of an environmental group leading the charge on pressuring the district for more and better information about the conditions of schools.
  • Now that all the bids for Amazon's H2Q are officially submitted, let's take a look at where Philadelphia ranks among the contenders courting the e-commerce giant. Appearing in a video designed to lure Amazon to Philly, the Sixers' Joel Embiid didn't sugarcoat his opinion: "Philly is 'going to be tough on you."
  • Dana Baiocco has defended companies whose potentially unsafe products put them in hot water with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. So it raised some eyebrows when President Trump last month tapped her to join the five-member commission. But her husband's client list could prove more problematic for Baiocco than her own. Andrew Sasko, a Philadelphia attorney and Baiocco's husband, represented Ikea last year against three lawsuits filed by the parents of children killed by topped Ikea dressers, deaths that led to a recall of 29 million dressers. The recall is still being monitored by the commission Baiocco is now poised to join, prompting ethics experts to question her nomination.
  • In the homestretch of a race for New Jersey governor, nothing like a racially-charged attack ad to try to jolt what has been a relatively sleepy campaign to succeed Gov. Christie.
  • It's no secret that doctors can struggle to communicate with patients in the language of medicine. Imagine what it's like if they literally speak a different language. A new survey finds that in the Philly area, Vietnamese is the most common such "mismatch" — spoken by plenty of immigrants but few physicians.

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

  • Desiree Peterkin-Bell, a City Hall veteran who was an aide to former Mayor Michael Nutter, contributed to a "best-selling" book on Amazon. Clout goes behind the scenes.
  • This is the 30th anniversary of one of the more frightening single trading days in modern Wall Street history: Black Monday, Oct. 19, 1987. What would that day's 22 percent market crash look like today? The Dow Jones industrial average this week hit a new high of 23,000. To lose an equivalent 22 percent, the Dow would have to drop more than 5,000 points — 5,060, to be exact.
  • One thing to monitor as this Sixers season unfolds will be Brett Brown's ability to manufacture and exploit mismatches using Ben Simmons' unique combination of size and ball-handling ability, David Murphy writes. 
  • This Drexel prof has the same tip for start-ups and new college grads: Get a brand!
  • A two-story, "Star Wars"-inspired Halloween yard display in Ohio is enticing kids to get toy lightsabers and attracting hundreds of visitors from across the state. Most definitely the coolest parents alive.


Signe Wilkinson
"Would we have a haunted attraction with people "acting" like Alzheimer's patients? How about Pennhurst Haunted Chemo Ward or the Tunnel of Stillborn Infants? We wouldn't do it; the mere idea offends us." Writes Liz Spikol with disgust for a Halloween-themed attraction, setup inside a former mental institution, and populated with performers
— embellishing and exaggerating the mannerisms of the mentally ill.
  • Despite the first deal falling through, Malinda Jo Muzi quickly found another suitor to publish her first book. But before she signed a contract, she had to endure sexual advances from a male acquisition editor of a major book company. She was a pretty woman, he said, but added: If she lost 10 pounds, she'd be a knockout.
  • As news broke that Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Tom Marino abdicated his nomination for a plum White House gig, columnist Will Bunch was struck by a thought: Why are the Keystone State's congressmen becoming a national joke?

What we’re reading

  • Set your face to "Awwwww." This four-part series, The Loneliest Polar Bear, tracks the efforts of zookeepers in Ohio and Oregon to raise polar bears in captivity. [The Oregonian]
  • Thousands of inmates in Texas have donated more than $53,000 to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. [New York Times]
  • It's almost Halloween. If you still haven't figured out who or what to dress as, try consulting Harrison Ford's filmography. [GQ]
  • Even if you truly hate the Dallas Cowboys, you can sympathize with quarterback Dak Prescott's story of losing his mother to colon cancer in 2013. [Sports Illustrated]
  • One of the most basic duties of government is to protect its citizens. Yet, sometimes, the government fails so spectacularly in that charge that it instead endangers citizens, with devastating — and even deadly — consequences. [WHYY]
Mari A. Schaefer / Staff
Mari A. Schaefer / Staff
Mari A. Schaefer / Staff

Be careful carving up the household jack-o'-lantern, warns reporter Mari Schaefer. One slip of the knife, and you could wind up in the hospital with "Halloween hand."