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DelVal Residents React to Queen Elizabeth II’s Death

You don’t have to be an anglophile to appreciate Queen Elizabeth II. The longest-serving British monarch passed away Thursday at 96. Queen Elizabeth was known for service to her country, including pitching in during World War II.

She lived to celebrate her platinum jubilee this year, which marked 70 years on the throne, the longest reign of a queen.

Some Delaware Valley residents shared their thoughts about her passing.

“I would like to convey my condolences to the people of the U.K. and the Commonwealth nations at the passing of Queen Elizabeth II,” said state Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Harleysville), who is running for state Senate. “I had the privilege to serve as a foreign liaison officer to the U.K. Ministry of Defense from 2007 to 2010…I enjoyed the ‘special relationship’ the U.S. has with the U.K. and loved seeing the royal family out and about in London. The Queen was inspirational in many ways, but for me, her service as a driver in World War II was simply amazing. To serve your country during war, knowing you will someday be queen, is an example of true selfless service.”

Main Line TV filmmaker Jill Frechie said, “Having spent a semester in England as a third-year college student, I can tell you firsthand that the Brits admired and revered Queen Elizabeth II. She was a tireless leader, outdoing all expectations of what women were capable of achieving, who lived and represented many difficult challenges–war, finances, politics, and the ‘royal’ image. I do not believe anyone can fill her shoes as she is a slice of England that will remain forever etched in its history books as one to praise.”

Wayne resident Susan J. Gerrity, national president of the Daughters of the British Empire (DBE), grew up in Manchester, U.K., and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s.

“Our British and Commonwealth of Nations Organizations are devastated,” said Gerrity.  “Though she looked frail in the past few weeks, she summoned enough strength to swear in the new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss. In June, the month of her Platinum Jubilee, the Queen had renewed her vows to serve the country as long as she lived, and she did. Her death has taken us by surprise.

“She died peacefully surrounded by her family at her favorite residence, Balmoral Castle in Scotland; the Queen loved the fresh air, horses, dogs, the hills, and heather.

“Queen Elizabeth was a presence in our lives for 70 years; most of us have never known another monarch. Not only are the British sad, all of the Commonwealth of Nations citizens, who comprise 30 percent of the world’s population, will mourn her. Many of us met the Queen on several occasions. She traveled widely and was readily accessible.

“All of England is mourning her death whenever possible and will be glued to their television watching plans for her funeral unfold and then a coronation for the new King Charles,” said Gerrity.

Ross McLaren, an Elkins Park resident, said, “For nearly all of us Brits, the Queen has been the one constant throughout our whole lives. While parents, friends, school, university, and work have all come and gone throughout our lives, the Queen has been the one constant, and, for me at least, she will be sadly missed.”

“I am so sad,” said Huntingdon Valley resident Anita Panton Sayers. “I am truly going to miss our beloved Queen Elizabeth II. (She was) always sporting her matching outfits, with a hat and purse. She was a constant in our family lives while living in England, Malaysia, and the U.S. She was a cornerstone to many over her reign of seven decades.”

The Bucks County Republican Committee said it “joins the world in mourning the loss of Queen Elizabeth II. We express our condolences to the Royal Family and the British people.

“The Queen has been a role model around the world and served her nation loyally. As Americans, we are grateful to her for her many years of friendship with the United States and the special relationship between our countries.

“Rest in Peace, Queen Elizabeth II.”

The Pennridge Area Republican Club tweeted: “Queen Elizabeth II. A model of strength, perseverance, duty, and dignity. Rest in Peace.”

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New Inflation Number Hits DelVal Politics — Hard

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s push to put abortion and gun control on the top of the midterm ballot suffered a severe blow when June’s inflation figure came out Wednesday morning: 9.1 percent.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped 1.3 percent in a single month, a higher increase than economists were expecting. Even the core CPI, which does not include food or gas prices, rose 0.7 percent month to month, also higher than projections.

“There is absolutely nothing good in the CPI report,” said economist Jason Furman, a top advisor to President Barack Obama. “Core CPI rose at a 9 percent annual rate in June. I expect that to come down, but how much? Coming down to 6 percent would be both a large decline but also a very high rate.”

Recent polls consistently show concerns about inflation and higher prices rank at the top of voters’ concerns, particularly among independent voters. A new AP-NORC poll found that 73 percent of Americans said inflation or rising gas prices were a top concern. Sixteen percent cited abortion.

Republicans put the blame squarely on the Biden administration.

“One year ago this week, President Biden’s reckless stimulus checks began flooding the economy, and we are seeing the result: Inflation is raging and getting worse, forcing massive pay cuts for American families,” said Ways and Means Republican Leader Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas). “Now congressional Democrats and the president are determined to make inflation even worse with $1 trillion in new tax hikes in a dangerous ‘slimmed down’ Build Back Better package. Raising taxes on local businesses and farmers as our country faces a recession is crazy and will drive prices even higher.

“Haven’t they done enough damage to America’s economy?”

Biden pushed back, releasing a statement dismissing the report as “out of date” and taking credit for “30 days of decreases in gas prices, that have reduced the price at the pump by about 40 cents since mid-June.”

According to the Energy Information Administration, the average price for a gallon of gas is currently around $4.77. When Biden took office, it was $2.39, or twice as expensive.

Pennsylvania Republicans also pointed the finger at Biden and his Democratic allies.

“Today’s inflation report is shocking and devastating for American families. This should be the final nail in the coffin of any additional spending binges by the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress, which would only make this disastrous situation even worse,” said U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican facing off against progressive Lt. Gov. John Fetterman for Toomey’s seat, said, “Big news: Today’s record-breaking inflation number of 9.1 percent—that’s the highest in 40 years—is robbing Pennsylvania families of their income. Gas prices have doubled. It robs your real wages.

“Now, John Fetterman’s radical policies to increase spending and crush energy production would make inflation even worse, and we would be suffering it a lot longer. Pennsylvanians deserve better than more failed career politicians. It’s time for change.”

Guy Ciarrocchi, the Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan in the 6th Congressional District, called the inflation number “frightening”

“Not because we don’t all realize how bad it’s been, as we keep losing ground with each paycheck. It’s frightening because the reports confirm how bad it is, that it’s going to get worse—and, worse yet, this reminds us that Houlahan, Biden, and Pelosi seem unwilling or unable to do anything about it.”

Local Democrats like state Rep. Napolean Nelson (D-Glenside) deflected blame from Biden. He blamed soaring prices on the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and “price gouging” by U.S. oil companies.

“Gasoline prices are at multi-decade highs while the crude oil prices that should dictate prices aren’t even at back to the levels they reached in 2015 and energy companies are producing record profits! We’re fighting to pass legislation to empower the attorney general to fight price gouging,” Nelson said.

State Sen. Tim Kearney (D-Delaware/Chester) also laid the blame on forces beyond the Biden White House. “The war in Ukraine spiking gas and diesel prices, the lack of enough housing driving rents and home prices up, and supply chain delays from China’s lockdown and other global disruptions are the main culprits behind U.S. inflation.

“Democrats have been pushing for a gas tax holiday to cut the cost of goods and travel, creating a better environment for businesses to restore manufacturing jobs from China back to Pennsylvania, and stabilizing and increasing our housing stock by enacting the Whole Home Repairs Act and $375 million  in affordable housing development in our state budget.”

Fetterman, in keeping with his progressive views, blamed big business for inflation.

“Dr. Oz won’t stand up to the special interests and corporate executives who are raising prices on us, but I will. I am going to go to Washington to fight to bring down prices. We need bold action now to make more s**t in America, fix our broken supply chains, and take on corporate greed to bring down the cost of everything, for everyone,” Fetterman said.

The challenge for Democrats, particularly incumbents like U.S. Reps. Chrissy Houlahan and Mary Gay Scanlon is that they voted for the $3 trillion of spending in the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure bill. They also voted for an additional $5 trillion of spending in the original Build Back Better bill. Most economists agree additional federal spending added to higher inflation.

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DelVal Residents, Politicians React to Supreme Court Decision Tsumani

People around the Delaware Valley reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court decision Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, some grateful that fewer abortions will be performed and others angry that women’s ability to choose might be taken away, depending on where they live.

“Roe was always legally dubious. Returning it back to the states was important,” said Joe Rittenhouse on Facebook.

Abington resident Carol Gash said, “Thank God. Roe was poor legislation [sic] to begin with. I hope that my church will be okay,” referring to damage that was done to churches by leftist mobs after the decision was leaked earlier.

Fenecia Redman of Malvern said, “Who can be against stopping the dismemberment of babies?”

“It’s a disgrace and I hate it here,” said Lyndsey Brown, a Delaware County resident, via Facebook.

Carol Bassetti, a Cheltenham resident said, “I knew it was coming but now that it’s actually here, I’m speechless. I had so much admiration and respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, may she rest in peace. But I honestly believe she would have stepped down and made room for an Obama appointment had she had any idea this could or would happen.”

Helaine Dubner Zlotnick of Elkins Park said she did not want Roe to be overturned.

“I think there is an over-reaction about this,” Zlotnick said. “I will deal with this in my own way and not over-react. People are dealing with their emotions and not the facts. It’s always only ‘their’ way, can never find a balance.”

“I am enjoying the eft melting down today,’ said a Chesterbrook man, who asked that his name not be used. “They are probably making Molotov cocktails as I type. I can guarantee they are planning violence right now.”

John Featherman, a Republican who ran for Philadelphia mayor, said, “Before today, Pennsylvania’s governor’s race was seen by many voters as a referendum on vaccine/masking policies and, to a lesser extent, mail-in voting…But after today’s Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortion has risen to the forefront of the race for governor. And for Mastriano, this is bad news, as Josh Shapiro has already run a commercial in the past 24 hours that quotes Mastriano as saying, ‘My body, my choice is ridiculous nonsense.

“Pennsylvania is still a blue state with 4 million Democratic voters and only 3.4 million Republican voters,” Featherman added. “Mastriano’s no-exception abortion ban policy will ultimately cost him the election.”

“Roe is overturned but let’s be 100 percent clear, abortion care won’t end. Instead, access will become even more inequitable and dangerous. We must fight state by state to ensure this decision remains between a pregnant person and their doctor,” said Dr. Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners and a Democrat, via Twitter.

“I am grateful to the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States for their willingness to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and for their opinion, which affirms the deep value inherent to every human life,” said the Most Reverend Nelson J. Pérez archbishop of Philadelphia. “As Catholics, we believe that life is God’s most precious gift and that we share a responsibility to uphold its beauty and sanctity from conception to natural death. In addition to being strong advocates for the unborn, this responsibility extends to caring for the hungry, the poor, the sick, the immigrant, the elderly, the oppressed, and any of our brothers and sisters who are marginalized. In short, to be truly pro-life means to recognize the presence of God in everyone and to care for them accordingly.”

State Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), said, “Today, and every day, I stand in support of a women’s right to make her own reproductive decisions and that includes access to a safe and legal abortion.  The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has thrown out a fundamental constitutional protection for millions of Americans — one that has existed for nearly 50 years. This is unacceptable.”

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SCOTUS ‘Dobbs’ Decision Could Impact PA Governor’s Race

No matter your views on abortion, today is a day when the U.S. Supreme Court changed history with its Dobbs ruling. And political leaders from Delaware Valley and in races for state office are speaking out about what the historic decision means for Pennsylvania.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro tweeted: “This is a devastating day in America. A woman’s right to choose now depends on the state in which she lives, and the decision will be made by our next Governor. Doug Mastriano will ban abortion with no exceptions. I will keep abortion legal.”

Writing as attorney general, Shapiro also sent this email: “The Dobbs decision will go down as a shameful moment for our country and for the Court. Today, five Supreme Court Justices upended fifty years of settled law and subjected the health and private lives of millions of American women to the whims of politicians. As a result of today’s decision, every American’s personal freedoms now depend on the state in which they live. Here in Pennsylvania, decisions about your bodies will now be left to elected officials in Harrisburg– giving those politicians more power than women in our commonwealth.”

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor, told the Delaware Valley Journal, “Roe v. Wade is rightly relegated to the ash heap of history. As the abortion debate returns to the states, Pennsylvania must be prepared to lead the nation in being a voice for the voiceless.

“While this decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a triumph for innocent life, it must not take our focus away from the key issues facing Pennsylvania families.

“Pennsylvanians will not be distracted by the hysterics of the left as they exploit this ruling to try to fulfill their far-left agenda,” Mastriano continued, “as they struggle with all-time record-high inflation, the price of gas and groceries, as well as out-of-control crime and good-paying jobs – which is exactly why I will prioritize these issues as their governor,” Mastriano said.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Memhet Oz tweeted: “The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is to many considered controversial. I respect those with a different view, but as a heart surgeon I’ve held the smallest of human hearts in the palm of my hand, and I will defend the sanctity of life. I am relieved that protecting the lives of America’s unborn children will once again be decided by the people through their elected representatives. As we lift up life, we must focus on the needs of mothers and children, for whom this decision can be the greatest gift of all.”

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat running for Senate, tweeted, “In Pennsylvania, the Governor’s pen will either protect abortion rights or eliminate them. The stakes can’t be any higher. We MUST elect @JoshShapiroPA He has been an absolute advocate of protecting abortion rights here in Pennsylvania. There is too much on the line.”

And in a statement, Fetterman said, “Deciding how and when to become a mother is a decision that should always be made by a woman and her doctor—not politicians. If there were any doubts left about what’s at stake in this race, it became crystal clear today. The right to an abortion will be on the ballot this November in Pennsylvania.  I will protect abortion rights. Dr. Oz will take them away. It’s that simple.”

How will the decision impact November’s election?

“I think the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe and Casey will undoubtedly become an important part of the fall campaign messaging,” said Berwood A. Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy and the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. “The abortion decision will be a catalyst for some voters, as will the recent decision on guns. In fact, the 2022 midterms are going to have many things for voters to think about, including their feelings about the economy, the direction of the state, and the state’s electoral procedures to name just a few others.

“The most important result of the recent Supreme Court decisions, from a political standpoint, is that they give Democratic candidates something to talk about other than the economy and the president’s performance in office, which most voters don’t feel good about,” said Yost. “It allows them to motivate their base voters and perhaps remind those with weak party attachments about what the consequences of their choice, or failure to choose, might be.”

Christopher P. Borick, political science professor and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, said the Supreme Court’s decision could be very important for the Pennsylvania governor’s race.

“The electoral implications of the SCOTUS decision are more significant in Pennsylvania than in almost any other state, with the outcome of the governor’s race determining where Pennsylvania policy on reproductive matters goes,” he said. “With chances good that the legislature remains in GOP control, a Mastriano victory would open the door for major reproductive rights restrictions in the state, while a Shaprio win would stop these types of measures as he would be able to use the governor’s veto power.
“In this election cycle where Democratic voters are not very energized, today’s Supreme Court decision does offer an energy source for Democrats who might not be engaged in the midterms,” Borick added.  “I’m skeptical that the energy generated by the court’s decision to overturn Roe will completely counter the cyclical advantages the GOP has, but along with some favorable candidate matchups, and a boost from the SCOTUS decision, the Democrat’s statewide chances have improved from where they were before the May primary.”

Other elected officials also weighed in.

“Today’s decision upends almost a half-century of legal precedent and rips away a constitutional right that generations of women have known their entire lives. This dangerous ruling won’t end abortions in this country, but it will put women’s lives at risk,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) via Twitter.

And U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) tweeted, “The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization restores the American people’s ability to determine abortion laws through their elected representatives, as the Constitution requires. Precedents that are wrongly decided should be overturned, just as Brown v. Board of Education was right to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson. This ruling is a win for the unborn, the Constitution, and democratic governance.”

“I was 13 when Roe became law of the land. 50 years later an extreme right-wing court has now ended the constitutional right to abortion – politicians can now control a women’s body. I have tears of anger — girls like my 10-year-old granddaughter have less rights than me at 13,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery).

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) called the decision “unprecedented” and said it “will have a devastating impact across our country. It is rare in the United States for millions of Americans to wake up with fewer rights than they had the day before, but that is precisely what the court has done here.”

She went on to call it “misguided” and “dangerous.”

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks) tweeted: “In less than 24 hours, the SCOTUS has ruled that states do NOT have the right to enact measures to protect from gun violence but simultaneously DO have the right to restrict a woman’s right to choose. This isn’t about state’s rights—it’s about advancing a political agenda.”

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) said, “As state legislatures across America begin to consider legislation on this extremely sensitive topic in response to today’s Supreme Court decision in Dobbs, I urge all state legislatures to always start from a place of empathy and compassion. Any legislative consideration must start with the process of seeing the world through other people’s eyes, and walking the world in other people’s shoes.

“Any legislative consideration must always seek to achieve bipartisan consensus that both respects a woman’s privacy and autonomy, and also respects the sanctity of human life. These principles are not mutually exclusive; both can and must be achieved…At the core of our democracy must always be the goal of building bridges, not driving wedges.”

 

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DelVal Residents Feel The Pain of High Gas Prices

The AAA Mid-Atlantic reported Monday that Pennsylvania’s average gas price hit $4.95 per gallon, up a penny overnight and 19 cents more the last week. That is higher than the national average of $4.86, up 2 cents overnight and 25 cents in the last week.

In Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, gas was averaging $5.05 Monday, up a penny overnight and up 21 cents in the last week.

On June 6, 2019, local residents were complaining about gas at $2.96 a gallon. On the same date in 2020, it had fallen to $2.24 but was up to $3.16 a year ago. Now it is more than five dollars a gallon, and local drivers are feeling the pain.

“How do you drive less? Gotta drive to work. Gotta drive to store to eat,” Scott Durning posted on Facebook.

Other Facebook fans were equally frustrated.

“Trips to the shore will be cut,” said Doylestown resident Ted Taylor. “Casual drives on a Sunday won’t happen. Hope everyone who elected this administration is happy now. I’m not!”

“Staycation…Again!” said Philadelphia resident Richard Pruett.

“I am truly blessed,” said Sara Pilling of Bryn Mawr. “And wish I could say smart to have purchased a Prius Prime Plug-in the Saturday before the pandemic began. Currently, I’m getting 230 mpg and with conservative driving, I can go four to five months between fillings.”

Elkins Park resident Nikki Gaston said, “It won’t stop me from my daily travels (which are minimal). But I will not be taking any ‘day trips’ to the shore.”

Kristen Ann Albone of Ambler said, “I already am driving less and if I cut back anymore, I’ll have to give up eating in addition to preventative healthcare. Can’t wait to see the whining about all of the unintended consequences of these restrictions (to) domestic energy production and distribution.”

President Joe Biden and his administration continue to insist that high prices at the pump are due to “Putin’s Price Hike,” as the president put it over the weekend.

“I led the world to coordinate the largest release from global oil reserves in history, directed the sale of gasoline using homegrown biofuels this summer, and more. These actions have already helped to blunt what would have been an even larger Putin Price Hike,” Biden tweeted.

But a new ABC News/Ipsos poll shows just 27 percent of Americans approve of how Biden is handling high gas prices.

Meanwhile, Susan Cook (@CookieinPA) tweets, “Joe Biden stomped on our energy independence and being a net exporter of energy on DAY 1 OF HIS ADMINISTRATION. DAY 1! It has gotten progressively worse each day in office.”

Gary Thober (@gary_thober) said, “Our country was and could be again…energy independent. Instead we are led by progressive “Green New Dealers” and a career demagogue. This week in Gloucester….$100 for 15 gallons of diesel!”

And rickygotskills.crypto (@RixNotez) said, “Paid $5.01 at a Sam’s Club yesterday. The price of everything will increase to cover the expense of traveling and shipping goods. Excuse me while I generate some invoices…”

“My thoughts are not fit for public consumption. Let’s talk in July when gas is $7 a gallon,” fishopine (@fishopine) tweeted.

 

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‘There Is Magic About Him:’ A West Norriton Woman Recounts Meeting With Zelenskyy

West Norriton resident Vera Andryczyk called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech to Congress Wednesday morning “amazing.”

“It contained all the elements of the last three weeks,” Andryczyk said. “It was very, very moving…He made an impassioned plea…He’s a leader.”

Andryczyk came to America from Ukraine with her family in 1949 in the aftermath of World War II. She was seven years old when her family settled in Philadelphia.

“We were lucky to have a sponsoring family,” she said.

But now with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she is distraught. Andryczyk has cousins and many friends in her native country. She and her husband, Roman Andryczyk, have traveled back to visit Ukraine and even own a condo in Lviv.

“It’s a beautiful town,” she said. “It’s very old and has beautiful architecture.” Many poets, artists, and writers live there, she said.

Ukraine became independent in December 1991 after the Soviet Union dissolved. Some 93 percent of voters approved independence in a referendum, she said.

“And so (Russian President Vladimir) Putin miscalculated,” Andryczyk explained. “He just didn’t understand. Once you open a window and get to inhale that fresh air (of freedom), they got a taste of it. Of course, there were challenges, but they started to prosper.”

But now Putin “comes with his vision of restoring the imperial, the Russian Empire,” she said. “Ukraine would play a subservient role. And of course, the people said, ‘No way.’”

She met her husband at a resort for Ukrainian Americans in the Catskills. She was a stay-at-home mom to her two children and an active community volunteer. Andryczyk also volunteered in Republican politics in Montgomery County and served as a committeewoman and vice-chair of the Montgomery County Women’s Leadership group.

It was her volunteer work that brought her face to face with Zelenskyy in September 2021. At the Ukraine House on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.  Zelenskyy gave her an award for volunteering, along with 15 other Ukrainian Americans who were honored.

“They brought us into this one room,” she said. Zelenskyy “was a little late. And when he walked in, he’s not a very tall person but there was something about him that commanded respect.”

“We were standing in a semi-circle…and I caught his attention. And his look was just so friendly and so sincere that I liked him immediately,” said Andryczyk.

“I can tell you, there is this magic about him,” she said. Before she met him, she wondered if he would be able to handle the job. Zelenskyy was a former comedian and entertainer before he got into politics. “But he projected calmness and leadership. He made a fantastic impression on us.”

And now, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the world is praising Zelenskyy’s leadership and courage. He remained with his people to rally them against Russia when he could have fled the country.

“Congress gave him a standing ovation,” said Andryczyk. “But they did not sound like they’re going to do anything about the no-fly zone. They’re not going to go for that.”

But what Ukraine needs is to stop the Russians from bombing their cities and people from the sky, she noted.

“You feel so helpless when it comes from the sky,” said Andryczyk. “I think he should keep asking for (a no-fly zone).” And she thinks whatever the U.S. and NATO do to help Ukraine should be kept confidential so that Putin does not have “a blueprint.”

There are also nearly 2 million displaced people that need humanitarian aid, she said. Thousands have died or been grievously injured.

In areas that the Russians bombed, “they have no hospitals…no infrastructure,” she said.

When Putin annexed Crimea in 2008 with little pushback from the West, it was a precursor, she said.

“We knew this would happen,” she said. “If we had shown strength even going back to 2008, and when he invaded Georgia. And he took two provinces there. It was somebody else’s territory.”

Andryczyk, like many, fears Putin will not stop with conquering Ukraine but will move on to other countries.

“I speak from my heart,” she said. “I’ve been involved so long and it’s so painful to see this (destruction).”

But she added, “We are very, very pleased and thankful for the support.”

She praised President Joe Biden and Congress for their pledges of aid for Ukraine.

“They’ve done so much more than we truly expected,” said Andryczyk. “We’ve always felt Ukraine is the lynchpin and that Ukraine is fighting Europe’s war.”

 

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Delaware Valley Residents Horrified, Heartbroken Over Ukraine

Delaware Valley residents with ties to Ukraine are watching in horror as the Russian army rolls toward Kyiv.

Many came to a rally at City Hall in Philadelphia Friday to show their support for the beleaguered country.

At Manor College in Abington, founded 75 years ago by the Ukrainian Sisters of St. Basil the Great, students and staff held a Zoom service Friday to pray for Ukraine. Signs with the message “Pray for Peace in Ukraine” abound on campus.  Many students, alumni, and staff at the small college have relatives in Ukraine.

Nicholas Rudnytzky, the college’s dean of academic services, grew up in Philadelphia. His parents immigrated from Ukraine after World War II. He still has family in Lviv in the western part of Ukraine, which is “very far from the front lines.”

Nicolas Rudnytzky

“They’re fine,” he said about his relatives. “They’re mad. They’re angry. Like most of the country, they’re defiant.”

Asked if they intend to fight, Rudnytzky said they do but added, “the Russian war machine is ranked third in the world.”

While it is shocking that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s army is invading Ukraine, in some ways, it is not, he said.

For one thing, the world did very little when Putin took Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, he said. And Russia and the Soviet Union have a centuries-long history of oppressing the Ukrainians.

“A good contingent of the Ukrainian community was expecting this,” said Rudnytzky. “Moscow had repeatedly denied our existence. The czarist government of the past made our language illegal. In 1946, the Russian Orthodox Church liquidated the Ukrainian Catholic Church.” Clergy were exiled, leaders killed or sent to Siberia. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin created a deliberate famine in Ukraine in the 1930s that killed millions.

“They committed genocide against our people,” said Rudnytzky. “This is horrifying that in the 21st century, in Europe, such a thing could happen.”

He questioned the efficacy of the United Nations and NATO. If it were somewhere else and did not involve Russia, “we’d have U.N. peacekeeping troops.”

In the 1990s, the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia signed an agreement with Ukraine, saying they would protect it if it gave up its nuclear weapons, he noted.

“We promised we’d protect them. But when Russia took Crimea, everyone looked the other way.

“Now there is a huge contingent wondering whether China will take a lesson from Russia,” he said. “This is an attack on a democracy in Europe.”

Eugene Luciw

Eugene Luciw is also the son of Ukrainian immigrants. He is the president of the Philadelphia branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and director of external relations for the Ukrainian Sports Center and Ukrainian National Soccer Club in Horsham.

He agreed Putin was emboldened by the lackluster response to his theft of the Crimea.

“Mr. Putin takes to weakness like a shark takes to blood in the water,” Luciw said.

He has relatives and friends in Ukraine.

“Many of them are in bunkers, in subways,” he said. “My heart is there with them. In the modern world, people I had visiting in the United States are in bomb shelters and subways trying to stay alive.”

The attack is personal for Luciw.

Leonard Mazur

“I feel violated,” he said. And the world order is now changed where “a heavily militarized imperial power can simply take another country over.”

Leonard Mazur, a Manor College trustee and chairman of the college’s Ukrainian Community Committee, said his parents also fled Ukraine after World War II, and his mother had been in a German forced labor camp during the war.

“What’s happening here is a tragedy,” said Mazur, who is appalled that “the world is standing by, letting this happen. I don’t know how people, how governments that have any degree of morality can do that. It’s awful.”

Putin is taking over a country “under false pretenses,” he said. He urged people to talk to their representatives, senators, and the White House to put still stronger sanctions in place and that the U.S. arms Ukraine so its citizens can fight back.

“How do you just stand by and watch people get slaughtered?” he asked.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Putin and other top Russian officials on Friday.

A sign at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia.

And on the prayer front, Philadelphia Archbishop Most Reverend Nelson J. Pérez w celebrated a Mass for the intention of peace in Ukraine, the Ukrainian People, and the Ukrainian community in Philadelphia this Sunday at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia was packed Sunday morning as people offered prayers for the war to end.

Tatayna Lylyk, a congregant, said, there are “a lot of reasons” for the war but the main one is Putin and “rich people who want power.”

Lylyk came to Philadelphia in 2002 from Kyiv when she was 36 but most of her family and many friends remain in Ukraine.  she is worried about them and fears for the future.

“It is prohibited to come out from “your” home,” she said. “There are saboteurs on the streets which want to help Putin  in this war. (But) people stay for their homeland.”

“Why (does Putin) need our Ukraine? I think he’s crazy. I think he’s scared in some way. He is wrong in his mind,” she said.

 

 

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DelVal Politicians React to Putin’s Ukraine Move

“I consider it necessary to take a long-overdue decision: To immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.” With that statement on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin shifted the balance of power in eastern Europe by re-drawing the map of Ukraine through brute force. As of late Monday night, he had reportedly ordered Russian military forces into these regions of eastern Ukraine.

Putin’s actions drew mixed messages from the Biden White House, with some talk that Russia’s move may not spark a massive backlash the way a traditional invasion would. Meanwhile, some Delaware Valley political figures did respond to Putin’s provocative actions.

“The grave predictions of our intelligence community are coming to fruition,” tweeted Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.). “Putin is violating Ukrainian sovereignty. Together, our nation, NATO Allies, and EU partners will hold him accountable.”

And while Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) didn’t release any reactions on Monday. However, a week earlier the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, Environment, and Cyber joined other House GOP leaders to announce the  Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act.

“As we have done before with other rogue powers, it is time for the United States to send a clear message: if Russia insists on threatening the sovereignty of another state and jeopardizing global security, there will be severe economic consequences and sweeping sanctions,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “Congress must act now to ensure that the United States continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine by providing our Ukrainian partners with the aid and resources they need to uphold their territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick is both a successful businessman and a veteran.

“Joe Biden’s weakness and incompetence have set the world ablaze, from Kabul and Kyiv to our southern border,” the Army veteran of the first Gulf War said. “We must return to strong America First policies and leadership that made us more respected abroad and more secure at home. I served in the military because I love our country. I’m running for the U.S. Senate to serve again.”

One of his GOP primary competitors made her point during Monday night’s debate. “Biden has no plans whatsoever,” said Kathy Barnette from Huntingdon Valley. “He’s playing whack-a-mole, whoever pops their head up, he ends up hitting it at the moment. That is not how you lead the greatest nation that’s ever existed in the world, and yet that is where we find ourselves right now. We have two different strategies that need to be employed. We’re talking about Russia potentially entering into Ukraine and being given the green light for them to enter in and do a little bit of damage. And then we have China with Taiwan. China is about to do a Hong Kong on Taiwan.”

And Republican candidate for the Fifth Congressional District, Former Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer (EOD) David Galluch, released this statement:

“Today, Vladimir Putin gave a speech that exacerbated the Ukraine crisis, indicating Russia’s pending recognition of two separatist eastern Ukrainian regions. This is a naked power grab and revision of European borders – and the United States appears powerless to act.

America has been on the retreat for more than a year. Given that Ukraine has already suffered cyberattacks and significant economic damage at the hands of Russia, the United States should have already implemented severe sanctions against Putin and the Russian regime.

The unfortunate truth is Vladimir Putin was allowed to control events and the narrative from the very beginning. Sanctioning Russia and signaling our resolve to deny Putin a free hand is more important now than ever. With a Russian military buildup only miles from the Ukrainian border, the time for action has already passed. However, it is not too late to take immediate and urgent
steps in an effort to de-escalate this situation.”

And Christian Nascimento, a Republican running for the Fourth District Congressional seat said, “Vladimir Putin recognizing the independence of breakaway countries is political theater and a transparent pretext to justifying the invasion of the Ukraine.

“Putin intends to upend the post-cold war global order and attempt to bring us back to the days of the USSR. Putin only understands strength, so the US must lead a global response, which should include arms and support to Ukraine, as well as economic sanctions on Russia while they continue to destabilize the region and beyond.”

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COVID Relief Checks Go to Cop-Killer Mumia, Boston Marathon Bomber

Convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal received a $1,400 taxpayer-funded check thanks to President Joe Biden’s COVID relief bill, Delaware Valley Journal has learned.

State corrections officials confirmed the payment to Abu-Jamal, the former WHYY radio journalist who was convicted of the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

He’s among the most high-profile prisoners in the Keystone State to receive a payout, much to the chagrin of those who have opposed his release over the years.

George Bochetto, an attorney for Faulkner’s widow Maureen, told DVJournal the payments to convicted felons like Abu-Jamal are “insanity.” He called out Sen. Bob Casey (D) for casting the vote that killed an amendment that would have nixed the payouts to incarcerated felons like Abu-Jamal.

During the debate over the American Rescue Plan Act — Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID bill passed on a straight party-line vote — a GOP-backed amendment denying COVID dollars to criminals in prison was defeated in a 49-50 vote. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey voted for the amendment, while Casey and the entire Democratic caucus voted against it. A single Democrat’s “yes” vote would have moved the ban forward.

Neither senator responded to repeated requests for comment.

“Whoever authorized the mailings of those checks out should be shot,” said Bochetto, who recently announced he was joining a crowded field of GOP candidates seeking to replace the retiring Toomey. “To send murderers $1,400 in prison is both a complete utter and waste of money, and it sends the absolute wrong message.”

The 2021 relief checks to prisoners became a national story last week when news broke that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had received a payment. Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to allow them to seize the funds as restitution to victims of the 2013 terrorist attack. The judge had yet to rule as of Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Bochetto said he expects Faulker’s widow to be “outraged” when informed her husband’s killer had received a government handout.

“What’s he supposed to buy – a color TV set for his cell?” Bochetto said. “Why should he be doing it at my expense?”

Opponents of the Biden relief bill argued at the time it was too big and spent too much money on non-COVID-related items. Popular at the time it passed, the massive spending bill is now being blamed for contributing to the inflation currently plaguing the economy. Even Biden has acknowledged his spending plan is part of the problem.

But money going to terrorist bombers and convicted cop killers is, for some, beyond the pale.

“On what planet could someone justify sending a taxpayer-funded check to the man who killed and wounded hundreds of Americans in a terrorist attack?” demanded the National Republican Senatorial Committee in a statement.

Abu-Jamal has been described by The New York Times as “perhaps the world’s best-known death-row inmate,’” and his case has become a cause celebre among progressives and social-justice activists. While some claim he’s wrongly convicted, his conviction has been upheld by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Third Circuit Court, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, however, was vacated by the District Court in 2001 over questions about jury instructions during the sentencing phase.

“I think that Toomey got it right, and I think Casey got it totally wrong,” Bochetto said about the vote on the payments. “It’s an insult to every taxpayer. I don’t want my taxes going to cop killers sitting in prison.”

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PODCAST: Corman Pans ‘Tone Deaf’ Democrats’ Vote on Build Back Better

On the latest episode of the Delaware Valley Journal podcast, Republican gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre) called the Democrats’ passage of the $1.75 trillion social spending “Build Back Better” bill “tone deaf” and a boon for the Pennsylvania GOP.

“I think the Democrats in D.C. are tone deaf,” Corman said. “They looked at the results of Virginia and said, ‘Well, we’re just not doing enough. That’s why we lost in Virginia,’ and nothing (is) further from the truth. Is what happened to Virginia? What happened…in New Jersey? It wasn’t that they weren’t progressive enough. It’s that they were too far progressive.”

The bill, which the Congressional Budget Office projected will add roughly $250 billion to the federal debt, passed the House on a party-line vote with one exception: Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) voted no. It now goes to the Senate where major changes are expected.

 

Corman says she believes the ideological extremism of this bill, which mixes social welfare spending and green energy subsidies, will help Republicans next year.

“All the polls are showing in the generic ballots, Republicans are nine, ten points up. If you’re Josh Shapiro, you’re gotta be pulling your hair out, thinking ‘What the heck happened?’

“Ever since this progressive movement has taken over the Democratic Party, you’ve seen Republicans do very well at the polls. Even in 2020, when President Trump lost, Republicans won nationwide. I can tell you from our own state Senate and state House races in Pennsylvania, we won almost every close race there was.

“Republicans are going to win next year,” Corman added.  “I’m confident of that.”