Capital-Star Book Club: Readers start on book two | Five for the Weekend

By: - April 10, 2021 6:30 am

Happy Weekend, all.

In February, the Capital-Star launched its very own book club. After seven weeks of reading, we’ve finished our first book: “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity.” 

For our next read, we are taking a book club member recommendation and reading “Amid Rage,” by Joel Burcat.

A work of fiction, “Amid Rage” follows the thrilling tale of a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection attorney whose work places him squarely in the middle of a coal mine operator and anti-mining residents.

The Capital-Star will review the first chapter on Monday, April 12, if you wish to join us. Subsequent chapter reviews will happen every Monday until we have finished the book.

For those interested, the Capital-Star book club and discussions can be found on here. 

You will need to create a free, GoodReads account in order to participate in the discussion.

We hope you will join us!

As always, the top five stories from this week are below. 

Cheers to a leisurely weekend,

Cassie Miller, Associate Editor

1. A Black lawmaker is crusading for mandatory minimums. He’s raising a lot of eyebrows

It’s not often a first-term legislator’s name is on the lips of everyone from the state attorney general to a former House speaker.

But just shy of three months into his Harrisburg career, 33-year-old Democratic Rep. Amen Brown, of Philadelphia, already has been paid a compliment by both.

Brown helped Attorney General Josh Shapiro to convince the biggest promoter of Pennsylvania gun shows to stop selling kits that allow the purchaser to put together their own, untraceable firearm.

Brown appeared alongside the rumored gubernatorial hopeful at a celebratory press conference last month, and Shapiro thanked him by name.

2. Why Easter is called Easter, and other little-known facts about the holiday | Analysis

The date of Easter, when the resurrection of Jesus is said to have taken place, changes from year to year.

The reason for this variation is that Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.

I am a religious studies scholar specializing in early Christianity, and my research shows that this dating of Easter goes back to the complicated origins of this holiday and how it has evolved over the centuries.

Easter is quite similar to other major holidays like Christmas and Halloween, which have evolved over the last 200 years or so. In all of these holidays, Christian and non-Christian (pagan) elements have continued to blend together.

3. Pa. GOP House bill would ban transgender athletes from women’s interscholastic athletics

With little chance of becoming law — let alone surviving a court challenge — five Republican lawmakers unveiled a proposal to ban transgender women from playing women’s school sports in Pennsylvania.

Exact language of the proposal is not yet available. But the legislation, sponsored primarily by Rep. Barbara Gleim, R-Cumberland, is titled the “Save Women’s Sports Act.”

It would “protect opportunities for women and girls in athletics by ensuring women are not forced to compete against biological males playing on women’s sports teams,” according to a memo sent to lawmakers on Feb. 5.

There is no evidence that transgender women outperform cisgendered women, or women whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth, in sports, according to a 2017 review of scientific literature.

One expert told Scientific American, a popular science magazine, last month that “studies of testosterone levels in athletes do not show any clear, consistent relationship between testosterone and athletic performance.”

4. A federal eviction ban has been extended until June. Here’s how to get help with rent payments in Pa.

Pennsylvanians who are behind on rent got another few months of stability on Monday, when the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that an eviction ban scheduled to expire on March 31 would endure through the end of June.

The federal public health order bars landlords from evicting tenants who lost wages or income due to the pandemic. It has provided renters in Pennsylvania a measure of protection since last September, when Gov. Tom Wolf allowed a stricter statewide ban to expire without issuing a new one.

Tenant advocates say the federal order has allowed renters to fall through the cracks in Pennsylvania, since it was up to judges in the state’s 67 counties to interpret and enforce it.

In Philadelphia, for instance, evictions zeroed out under Wolf’s ban, and then became erratic when the CDC order took effect, data from Princeton University’s Eviction Lab show.

5. Biden’s Amtrak bet excites Pa. officials, but much could derail efforts

After President Joe Biden announced his $2 trillion infrastructure plan on Wednesday, it was all aboard the hype train for rail fans across Pennsylvania.

The plan, which aims to repair roads, replace every lead pipe, and expand broadband access, also makes an $80 billion investment in Amtrak, a corporation owned by the federal government to operate passenger rail in the United States.

The rail system “has a bold vision to bring energy-efficient, world-class intercity rail service to up to 160 new communities across the nation, as we also invest in our fleet and stations across the U.S.,” CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement released on Wednesday night.

Among those new communities are three smaller Pennsylvania metropolitan areas — Allentown, Reading and Scranton — where local leaders have talked for decades about bringing rail service back to town.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the weekend and we’ll see you back here next week. 

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.