Good Vibes Only | Five for the weekend

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    Happy Weekend, all.

    It’s been a long week and well, a long year.

    If, like me, you’re craving some good vibes and positive thoughts for the weekend ahead, take a look at a few headlines that promise to put some good vibes out into the ether.

    Science: Listen to the Superfluid MIT Scientists Have Modeled to Emulate the Sound of a Neutron Star
    Doing Good: She Was Stranded in Canada. A Stranger Drove Her 1,000 Miles to Alaska.
    Animals: ‘Best buddies’: Grieving pit bull finds joy again with new kitten companion
    In Pa.: Uniontown’s Mary House provides structure and stability for women | Helping the Helpers

    As always, the Top 5 Most-Read Stories from this week are below.

    Cheers to a leisurely weekend,
    Cassie Miller, Associate Editor

    1. Meet the Pa. Commonwealth Court judges who’ve recently sided with Republicans on election rulings, only to be overturned by higher courtsPennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court has been a big player in the ongoing attempts by the Trump campaign and other Republicans to overturn the state’s election results or invalidate ballots.

    But thus far, the Republican-dominated court has had all of its 2020 election-related decisions overturned or vacated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, despite conservatives like 17th Congressional District candidate Sean Parnell portraying the court decisions as victories.

    Take, for instance, Judge Patricia McCullough’s Nov. 25 order for Pennsylvania officials to halt the certification process for election results. It came one day after Gov. Tom Wolf certified the state’s results — and its coveted 20 Electoral College votes — for former Vice President Joe Biden. U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, argued the legislature’s decision to allow no-excuse, mail-in voting violated the state’s constitution.

    Wolf and Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar appealed McCullough’s ruling to the state Supreme Court, which dismissed the case with prejudice. The court said the petitioners, who include Kelly and Parnell, who lost this year to U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, didn’t bring their case in a timely manner and failing to certify the results would result in the disenfranchisement of millions of Pennsylvania voters.

    2. GOP leaders — once again — say they can’t overturn election results, but send letter disputing results to CongressRepeating a point they have made for the past month, Pennsylvania’s Republican legislative leadership released a letter Thursday affirming that the General Assembly cannot overturn the results of the 2020 election in the Keystone State.

    But, just 24 hours later, the top two House Republicans turned around and signed a letter calling for Congress to reject Pennsylvania’s electors sent to the state’s 18 representatives and two U.S. senators.

    Democratic candidate Joe Biden beat Republican President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, according to certified results, part of Biden’s path to presidency with a total of 306 electoral votes.

    Trump has since claimed, without evidence, that fraud led to his defeat, a claim rejected by even top officials in his own administration.

    3. Pa. lays out COVID travel restrictions ahead of holidays, without guarantee of enforcementOut of state travelers to Pennsylvania should have a negative test for COVID-19 within the last 72 hours or stay at home for 14 days, according to new guidance from the state Department of Health.

    That guidance comes as Pennsylvania averaged more than 4,000 new cases of the deadly disease a day for the past week.

    Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced the rule, among a number of smaller tweaks to existing health orders, as new coronavirus cases increase in the commonwealth as the weather turns cold and more people spend time inside.

    The new rules do not come with any new enforcement measures, but Levine, continuing rhetoric she and Gov. Tom Wolf have used throughout the pandemic, asked for citizens’ cooperation.

    4. New COVID-19 testing ‘strike teams’ will help Pa. expand its testing capacity, Wolf saysWith Pennsylvania facing rising case counts and with thousands hospitalized, the Wolf administration says it’s deploying new COVID-19 testing “strike teams” around the state to offer testing to further contain its spread.

    The teams will start work in Bedford, Mifflin,  Northampton and Tioga counties on Wednesday, expanding to Butler County on Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf and state Health Department testing head Michael Huff said in a joint news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

    The teams will eventually deploy statewide, working in 61 of the state’s 67 counties without their own health departments, officials said. The first round of counties were chosen because they have seen “recent, rapid increases in COVID case numbers,” Wolf told journalists.

    The five strike teams come through an expansion of the state’s contract with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare. They’ll offer the standard nasal swab test that’s become a familiar image of the pandemic.

    5. We say America is a ‘Christian nation.’ Here’s what that would look like if we really meant it | OpinionThere is a widely held view that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, and that our laws and policies should be shaped by Christian values. Not all Christians agree that our nation was founded as a Christian nation and will defend that viewpoint by citing the Founding Fathers, Enlightenment theory, and theological arguments.

    However, let’s go with the view that we were founded as a Christian nation, and therefore should be shaped by Christian values.

    But what are “Christian values?” It’s obvious that there is significant disagreement among Christians over just what that means. It strikes me that as Christians, we should go to the source — Jesus. What did Jesus say? Or what would Jesus do? What were the rules that guided the early Christian community that rose in the wake of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection?

    First, it should be noted that Jesus was born, lived his life, and died as a Jewish person living in a Jewish society under the oppressive rule of the Roman Empire, so what he said and did is not exclusive to Christians — but it did shape those who became our early Christian forebears.

    And that’s the week. Enjoy your weekend. We’ll see you all back here on Monday. 

    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. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.