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What Is Early Word?
The Philadelphia Inquirer's experimental online "morning show", which began in Sept. 2005, went on hiatus in the summer of 2006, after a gradual shift to putting more of its content directly on

About the Host
Peter Mucha, husband and father of two, grew up in Cherry Hill and is a lifelong Philly sports fan. He's been writing and editing for The Inquirer for 18 years. His motto (at least for today): "If I'm not brief, give me grief."

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Friday, October 07, 2005

Morning News
Market East Station Reopened After Bomb Fear The suspicious package that led to the shutting down of Market East Station contained not a bomb, but some kind of propane nozzle as well as clothing, authorities said. Early this morning, a conductor on a citybound train on the R6 Norristown line became suspicious of a man in military fatigues who had something bulky in his backpack. SEPTA police met the train at Market East Station around 7:30. A dog from the canine unit showed special interest in the package. The man was taken into custody, the station was evacuated, and regional rail service through the station was shut down, as the city bomb squad was called in, a SEPTA official said. Eastbound commuters had to get off at Suburban Station or 30th Street. The Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines remained in operation. The station was reopened around 9:15. No injuries were reported.

Overnight News ...
Off-duty Firefighter Shoots Burglar
An off-duty firefighter fatally shot one man and wounded two others who broke into his home overnight, Philadelphia police told the Associated Press. A fourth man escaped. The firefighter was awakened early Friday by noises downstairs in his home in the city's Nicetown section, authorities said. Grabbing his handgun, he went to investigate and found four men in his living room. One burglar shot at the firefighter and he returned fire, hitting three men, authorities said. A wounded intruder was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where he died. The two others who were wounded were taken to Temple University Hospital. The fourth fled and remained at large, police said.
The incident took place in the 3800 block of 18th Street, a fire official told Early Word. Police don't expect to release identities of the firefighter, or the men who were shot, until this afternoon.

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
'Lost' Goes to Hell Arg. What kind of plotline is this? In an underground fallout shelter/psych lab, the castaways of ABC's hit drama Lost find a guy who has pushed a button every 108 minutes for years. Why? Because film of a babbling techno says to. Jack, physician/leader, scoffs, saying it's paranoid and ridiculous. But then he hits the button, renewing the cycle all over again. Nuts. People doing something pointless over and over is not my idea of good TV. It's more my idea of hell. Gee, this button hole is underground ... maybe it is Hell. Symbolism, oooh. And the guys who built a raft to escape? They got tossed in a pit by "The Others." And didn't Jean-Paul Sartre say, "Hell is other people"? Ah, I'm beginning to think the show's devolving into an annoying tease. Who or what gets your vote for most annoying tease? The Phillies? Beanpole engagement-breaker Paris Hilton? The war for democracy in Iraq? The $200 million Powerball jackpot?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Major Developing Story
Local Man May Have Been a White House Spy
"Both the FBI and CIA are calling it the first case of espionage in the White House in modern history," reports ABC News, and the man at the center of the investigation is from the South Jersey town of Deptford. Ex-Marine Leandro Aragoncillo (left), 46, a U.S. citizen born in the Phillipines, was arrested last month and charged with downloading and e-mailing documents from FBI computers in Fort Monmouth, N.J., and then passing the information to officials in Manila. Now he's suspected of spying while working in the White House for the last two vice presidents, Dick Cheney and Al Gore. According to an ABC News report last night, Aragoncillo admitted taking classified documents while working for Cheney. The report is likely to generate new worries for the beleaguered Bush administration, already heavily criticized for its handling of Hurricane Katrina and allegations that staffers leaked the name of a CIA agent. See reports from the Associated Press, ABC News, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Agagoncillo who lived on Branchwood Drive with his wife, Cynthia, was a member of the St. John Vianny Parish in Deptford, the Gloucester County Times reported after his Sept. 12 arrest.

Aragoncillo's 21-year-old nephew, Steven Gaano, told a reporter then that his uncle has two sons, 20 and 19, according to the Associated Press. "We're close, but I don't really talk to him about work or anything like that," said Gaano, who described his uncle as an avid jogger.

Local Briefing: Six Quick Stories
Abductee Found Talk about a case with twists and turns. Wallace Moody, who was abducted from his Oak Lane home yesterday by two armed men, turned up last night at a hospital. Moody knew Samuel Derry 3d, whose body was dumped and set on fire after he was shot twice in the stomach. Derry is the stepfather of rapper Beanie Sigel, who was acquitted on attempted murder charges last week. Police are investigating how all these pieces might be connected. See story. ... More than 330 soldiers have gotten high-tech limbs to replace ones they lost. Cpl. Pisey Tan, 24, of North Philadelphia lost both his legs in Iraq, but after bouts of terror and crying, he vowed to rehab with state-of-the-art replacements. Read his story and another about the latest prosthetics. ... The N.Y. Rangers spoiled the Flyers' season opener, 5-3. Game story. Phil Sheridan's column. ... Creations by Manayunk designer Paula Hian (left) are on display in Paris for its Fashion Week. Read Elizabeth Wellington's story, or ask her about it in the chatroom today at 2. ... A Harrisburg journalist is suing John Kerry. Carlton Sherwood claims the senator defamed him while attacking his anti-Kerry documentary during last year's presidential campaign. After protests by Democrats, only five minutes of the documentary on Sinclair Broadcasting's 62 TV stations. More. ... Philadelphia is holding its first citywide pretzel event. Architectural students will build pretzel replicas of famous buildings. Bakers will vie for title of best soft pretzel. Restaurants are concocting dishes like pretzel pizza and roasted organic chicken with pretzel-apple-fig dressing. See story and a recipe.

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Pa. Needs to Fix Law on Teen Driving
Yesterday, the first of three 16-year-olds killed killed in an Upper Bucks crash was laid to rest. Anthony Brandariz was the driver of the car that flipped and slammed into the pole last Thursday night. An Inquirer editorial makes a strong case for improving one of the state's rules for young drivers: "Neighboring states, including New Jersey and New York, limit the number of passengers a new driver can carry. Why? Because accident data show that the risk of a fatal crash increases with the distraction from each additional rider, especially among 16-year-olds. ... Pennsylvania's licensing rules, updated in 1999, have helped to cut teen road fatalities. Extended waiting times and greater practice-driving requirements prior to licensing are followed by late-night driving limits on new drivers. All good steps. But Pennsylvania imposes no other restriction on young motorists, other than that they wear seatbelts. It should do so, and soon. Even with road fatalities on the decline, more than 100 teen drivers died last year in Pennsylvania." Read full editorial. Read story on funeral. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Local Briefing: Five Stories Fast
The burning corpse found yesterday morning in Mount Airy was identified as Samuel Derry, the stepfather of rap star Beanie Sigel, who was acquitted last week of attempted-murder charges. "I heard something go 'whoosh,' and I saw the fire," said Denise Calhoun, 47, who lives nearby. "I had seen two men pull something out of their van, and I thought it was trash. Then I saw the body on fire. He must have been dead already, because he didn't react." The victim was shot twice, before his body was set ablaze. More. ... Testing criminals' DNA means solving more Pa. cases. Take the 1998 rape of an Upper Merion woman. No culprit was found. Then the state passed a new law requiring DNA to be collected from felons. Now a convicted forger stands accused of the sexual assault. More. ... The Moorestown women who were missing apparently "just wanted to go for a ride" and took a wrong turn. They were found in New York City. More. ... Pets, not just people, take part in clinical trials. "I think it's wonderful," said Karen Knapp, who, with her daughter, Devon, recently took their dog Hercules to Penn's Ryan Veterinary Hospital. (See picture.) More. ... During August, Philadelphia International Airport improved its on-time ranking for flights. Now it's only 24th out of 33 major airports. More.

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Letterman Blitzes, Owens Dances
"I'm going to get to the bottom of this," David Letterman promised Eagles fans last night. And he sure tried. Despite his jovial demeanor, the CBS talk show host was as relentless as a CSI investigator scrounging for any ugly evidence. But Owens, who once said, "I wasn't the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl," danced more nimbly than he has after touchdowns this season.
D.L: "How did you not win the Super Bowl?"
T.O: "It's hard to win when you have turnovers and we had a few of those. ... We had to be error-free and we weren't that." (Quarterback Donovan McNabb threw three interceptions.)
D.L.: "Did you say the quarterback was sick, the quarterback had run out of gas?"
T.O: "No, that wasn't me."
D.L: "Did you hear that someone had said that?"
T.O.: "Yeah, I heard that."
Did McNabb throw up in the huddle? "No." Did he almost throw up in the huddle? "No." Has he ever thrown up in the huddle? "I'm quite sure he has."
D.L.: "At any time during the game did you doubt his leadership abilities?"
T.O.: "Not at all. I wish I had some headphones right now. " Then he got a laugh as he made a gesture putting on headphones to cover his ears, as he'd done during training camp to tune out reporters.

T.O. didn't talk to McNabb about the Super Bowl after the game, he said, and while there had been some "friction," they were on the same page now.

As to outperforming a contract, Letterman asked if T.O. had underperformed it would he have given money back? No, said T.O. If I was the owner, said D.L., I'd say, gee, I paid all that money because I expected a great season, so T.O. didn't outperform it. T.O. laughed and said, "That's why you're doing the late show."

Finally out in the street we saw T.O. caught a ball flung from a machine -- followed by the image of a car slamming into a figure in a No. 81 Eagles jersey. Then there was T.O.'s body lying in the street. But he got up and laughed. It was all a gag.

That was the closest Letterman got to getting T.O. to spill his guts.

See also Shannon Ryan's report from The Inquirer.

Rip Up the Roads!
Here's a story full of contrarian vigor. In the hinterlands of Chester County, there's growing sentiment to tear out ashphalt and go for gravel roads. Dust and dings? Who cares! "It is to keep people the hell out of our township," said West Marlborough Township Supervisor Hugh Lofting (pictured). "In the next few years, traffic calming is going to get a lot of attention," said William H. Fulton, executive director of the Chester County Planning Commission. "Speed tables" and "roundabouts" are other strategies being tried, according Todd Mason's Inquirer story. Are we entering a new era of backlash against automobiles, and their gas-guzzling, nerve-jamming ways? Even the oil-baron-chummy Bush adminstration is promoting energy conservation with a mascot called the Energy Hog. See story. How hot is your love affair with autos these days?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Local Briefing: 7 Quick Stories
Flu shots for high-risk people first. Officials want two phases. More. ... NJ has mailed 1.1 million property-tax rebate checks to homeowners. More. ... The state has also lured back another discount car insurer: Progressive. More. ... Philadelphia names Earthlink as finalist to fulfill citywide WiFi plan. More. ... Both missing Moorestown women have been found. The cousins ran out of gas Friday on a trip to New York. Almeda Brooks (far right), 85, was found still waiting in the car under a bridge. Louise Marshall (also pictured), 68, was found wandering the streets with a head wound. More. ... Lawyers for four boys allegedly starved by their adoptive parents have signed on to a $12.5 million settlement with New Jersey. More. ... West Catholic High School has renamed its $100,000 Giliberti scholarship fund, after the school's onetime chaplain was named in the recent grand jury report. More.

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Wade, Thome, Wagner ... Who Stays? Who Goes?
If management wants to win fans back, either GM Ed Wade (pictured) and manager Charlie Manuel should go, or the team needs a smart, clear plan, Phil Sheridan writes in his column. C'mon, plans are fine, but the team's hand are tied in too many ways. Good luck trading Jim Thome, writes Jim Salisbury in his "On Baseball" column. Those are only two of the five biggest decisions, writes Todd Zolecki. Will Billy Wagner return? Is it time to trade Bobby Abreu or Pat Burrell, focusing on the younger players instead? And what to do about starting pitching? Read article.

You can also vote on whether to fire Wade in our sports poll.

Here's my heretical thinking: Left field, right field and first base are the easiest positions to fill. So trade Abreu, Burrell, Thome and even Howard to get better catching and starting pitching, a good third baseman and a true centerfielder. Closers are also overrated. You shouldn't have to pay $9 million to get out of one inning a few times a week. Put that money toward starters who go more than six innings instead. This is how the Eagles do it: Spend money on toughest positions to fill: quarterback, guys who protect the quarterback, defensive backs, and sorry about linebackers and running backs. What do you think?

Hey, Didn't I See That on CBS?
Angel Mejias had confessed and pleaded guilty to kidnapping a West Chester businessman's son. But yesterday Mejias dramatically changed his story, alleging the son masterminded the crime. Read story. Wait ... that sounds like the plot of Friday night's Numb3rs. The jewelry store was behind the heist of his own store and the kidnapping of her own wife. OK, it's not exactly the same, but observers sure wondered if Mejias made up his story. He had no receipts to back up his claim of getting $100,000 from the son. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenya S. Mann said in court the tale "makes no sense" and "appears to be concocted to avoid sentencing." The judge will rule tomorrow on what happens next.

Btw, anybody see the show? Seems phonier this season. The brainy gal pal researcher played by Navi Rawad (pictured) acts more like an eye-batting sexpot, and the new female agent's an airhead. Mistake: They'll lose geeks without gaining mathphobes.)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Would You Fire Ed Wade?
Spooky, isn't it? The Maximum Heartbreak Theory of Philadelphia Sports says fans here will always be tantalized and teased as long as possible. Like Smarty Jones nipped at the stretch at the Belmont, the Phils' playoff hopes lingered till the last out of the season yesterday in Chicago. So it's time to assess. Are you heartened by the late-season heroics, especially by Rollins, Utley and Howard? Or are you playing the cudda-wudda-shudda game, blaming the manager or GM? A couple of smarter moves could have made all the difference. Give Wade credit for NOT trading Howard or Utley away. But isn't he also to blame for staggering contracts that will hamper the team for years? What's your call?

How Is McNabb Like a Mythic Hero?
I see parallels between the Eagles QB and Odysseus and Hercules. Mythological greats face a series of incredible tests, and emerge triumphant. While D. Mac has yet to win a Super Bowl, his ability to conquer adversity might someday seem legendary. Wasn't he supposed to be crippled by injuries yesterday? Yet he engineered an amazing comeback victory over KC. So let's make up a list of his 7 Most Herculean Feats. Here are a couple for starters: Winning with a broken leg in Arizona. And triumphing over pill-popping chump Rush Limbaugh. Share your ideas by posting a comment.

Would You Donate Your Body to Science .... Exhibits?
Abra cadaver: Now sure I could stomach the much ballyhooed exhibit coming to the Franklin Institute. "Body Worlds," already seen by 17 million people worldwide, opens Friday, with more than 200 organs and 25 entire bodies preserved in plastic. "So that's what happened to Grandma!" is one of the remarks heard in L.A. "Total mind blow!" said a musician/actor. Read story. What do you think? Too grisly or unholy? Or a great way to learn about anatomy? Are you going to go? According to the company that pioneered the preservation process, "over 6,000 people have expressed their intention to donate their bodies" for future exhibits. Gee, there's a thought, ya think?

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