We all get those annoying robocalls on what seems like a daily basis. In the battle against them, one local college student has taken matters into his own hands. We introduce you to a new kind of superhero: Robocall Avenger. If you happen to live in a rural part of Pennsylvania, you might have a different sort of problem: internet connectivity speeds in these parts of the state are slow. A Penn State study found it's even slower than most expected. Back in Philadelphia today, a conference will tackle the issues faced by the city's homeless youth — a population many of us fail to ever see.

— Ray Boyd (@RayBoydDigital, morningnewsletter@philly.com)

Harold Perrong (left) and Andrew Perrong of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania view a 1939 Dodge during the 6th Annual Doylestown at Dusk Car Show Saturday July 18, 2015 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / For the Inquirer
Harold Perrong (left) and Andrew Perrong of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania view a 1939 Dodge during the 6th Annual Doylestown at Dusk Car Show Saturday July 18, 2015 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Your phone will probably buzz at some point today from a number you don't recognize. It's a robocall. Americans are losing the battle against them and the number of these calls is on the rise.

Andrew Perrong, a college student from Huntington Valley, is fighting back. He regularly sues and scores settlements against companies he claims call him illegally. We're talking about businesses from chimney sweeps to Verizon and he usually represents himself. 

Opponents call him a "career plaintiff" and say it's all about money for him. But Perrong is using an act that all of us can lean on next time we get one of those unwanted calls.

Good luck finding a decent internet connection in rural Pennsylvania. The scenic hills block signals and providers can't make a profit putting higher-quality lines in these areas.

In these parts of the state, connectivity speeds are drastically lower than the Federal Communications Commissions bar for "high speed." A Penn State study also found that speeds were actually slower than what providers were promising.

Penn State's full findings will be made public early next year and will lend to the debate on whether high internet speeds are a luxury or essential infrastructure like roads and electricity.

Hundreds of young Philadelphians are homeless. They are often overwhelmed by anxiety and endure abuse as they wonder where they'll sleep at night or where their next meal will come from.

"In Our Backyards: Pulling Back the Curtain on Homeless Youth Trauma" — a day-long conference taking place today at Temple — will focus on the experiences of Philly's homeless youth population and how to deal with the trauma that follows.  

An assessment of the city's homeless youth found that there is a lack of youth-dedicated supportive housing programs and that couch surfing is a near-universal experience.

What you need to know today

  • A community cleanup was part of Philadelphia's disaster declaration for Kensington as it continues to be gripped by the opioid epidemic. Many viewed Thursday's cleanup as a symbolic gesture, but city officials know it will take more than volunteers with brooms to fix this crisis.
  • The American Jewish Committee is urging not only Jews but everyone to #ShowUpForShabbat — gathering at synagogues today to stand in solidarity with those impacted and lost in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
  • New Jersey Health Department officials are putting on their sales hats. They're traveling to hospitals across the state to show off New Jersey's medical marijuana program, but it's been a tough sell for some.
  • President Trump has called for Election Day to be a referendum on his presidency as he's hit the campaign trail. A new poll shows that in Pennsylvania, the verdict seems to be a negative one for Trump and candidates closely linked to him.
  • A study shows that electroconvulsive therapy can be an effective way to treat depression. But some argue it's a violent treatment and it's struggling to shake the stigma.
  • A 10th patient has died after being treated in a New Jersey nursing center's pediatric unit. The adenovirus linked to the recent outbreak poses little threat to healthy people but can have grave consequences for those with weakened immune systems.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

Tourist or local, what's not to love about Reading Terminal Market? Thanks for sharing, @aimeebsiegel.

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

  • This week's episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia followed the gang to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl. It inspired my colleague Nick Vadala to rank the best sports episodes in the show's history.
  • Speaking of sports, the Sixers stayed undefeated at home last night. Joel Embiid went off for 41 points to lead the Sixers over the L.A. Clippers.
  • Meanwhile, the Flyers earned their first winning streak of the season by also defeating an L.A. squad — topping the Kings 5-2.
  • Several Philly-owned buildings will be powered by a solar farm if a City Council ordinance is passed. The director of the city's Office of Sustainability believes it will keep city energy rates from rising, even as rates for fossil-fuel plants go up.
  • A Horsham couple has had quite of few Amazon orders arrive at the door in the last few weeks. The problem: They didn't order any of it. It's a confusing case of right street, wrong town.

Opinions

November 2, 2018
Signe Wilkinson
November 2, 2018
"In a world that too often sees a person's disability before it sees the person, the Rosenthals were seen for all of who they were. Through the words of those who loved the brothers, the world has gotten to see that, too." — Columnist Ronnie Polaneczky on the legacy of two brothers whose lives were lost in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
  • Arts and lifestyle editor Molly Eichel admits that she isn't religious. But she writes that since the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, she's never felt more Jewish.
  • The tragedy has sparked a national conversation about gun policy. Our Opinion Department rounded up interview responses from local candidates that reflect their position on gun laws.

What we’re reading

  • "Dress for success," doesn't just apply to job interviews. Vox explains that in court, the likelihood of conviction and severity of sentences can be linked to how attractive, modest, or even light-skinned a defendant appears.
  • There's a misconception that Philly's drinking water (called "Schuylkill Punch" at times) isn't safe to drink. Billy Penn tackles this notion and sheds light on how this false idea is hurting certain Philly communities.
  • For generations, black women were told that their hair in its natural state is unacceptable. The Temple News shows how students are rocking the natural look as both a fashion choice and political statement.
  • For parents who worry their child learns nothing of value from playing on apps, The Atlantic writes that you don't have to worry. It turns out they're learning a lot about "manipulative" advertising.
  • Central Park birdwatchers got a spectacularly colorful surprise. Last month, a Mandarin Duck appeared in the park. As New York Times explains, it's native to East Asia and everyone is trying to figure out how it got to New York.
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.
Simon Pauly
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.

Your Daily Dose of | Butterflies

By all standards, opera singer Joyce DiDonato has reached the top of her profession. But ahead of her Philly shows next week, the opera great explains why she still feels a little anxious.