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A virtual reality program hopes to help kids with autism interact with police; You may be paying too much in property taxes

Philadelphia Inquirer - 7/30/2019

Jul. 30--The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the city's police department are partnering with a virtual reality company to work with people with autism. They are hoping that virtual reality will be an effective learning tool for teaching children with autism about how to interact with police officers. Also, homeowners throughout the Philly region have been paying too much in property taxes. This week is your last chance to try to change that.

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The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Autism Research wants to see if virtual reality can be an effective tool to help people with autism interact with police officers in the real world.

It's not very common for cops to receive training about autism. For example, a person with autism may not make eye contact. And to an officer, that may seem like evasiveness.

Researchers hope that people on the autism spectrum can use this new technology to learn how to handle difficult encounters.

Thousands of homeowners in the Philly region may be overpaying on their property taxes. For example, more than 40% of Delco homeowners might be paying too much this year, and will be next year, too.

But that should change in 2021, when new values take effect. Right now, though, an Inquirer analysis shows that just over a quarter of homeowners in the region will be paying taxes based on fair assessments, with other homeowners paying too much and too little in taxes.

If your house is overassessed, you can file an appeal by Aug. 1.

-- The Fox Chase Cancer Center will change hands. Temple University is selling it to Thomas Jefferson University, the two Philadelphia nonprofits announced yesterday. They are also partnering on a bid for the bankrupt St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.

-- Yeah, it's hot again in Philly, which is now facing another heat wave. And, across the pond, there's record-breaking heat in Europe right now.

-- Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) is holding an event in Philadelphia on Aug. 7. And tomorrow night, the former Newark mayor will take to the debate stage in Detroit. It's the second of two debates this week hosted by CNN. The first one is tonight, starting at 8 p.m.

-- Another mass shooting in Southwest Philadelphia claimed the life of a 21-year-old on Sunday night. It was second mass shooting in six weeks in the small section of the city.

-- A Trump administration official visited a Delco refinery yesterday with Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), delivering an address that touted the administration's energy policy.

-- Philadelphia has begun its own efforts to raise money to prep for the 2020 census. That's because Pennsylvania lawmakers rejected a request for census funds in this year's budget.

... or the week! Thanks for the pic, @jasoncoopman.

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-- What's it like to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, while also trying to prove yourself on a local professional team? Meet Philly's Brittany "Ice" Hrynko.

-- When a family's 15-year-old daughter had to get her four wisdom teeth removed, her mother made sure the hospital and surgeon were part of their insurance network. The one thing she forgot about checking: the anesthesiologist. That led to a bill totaling thousands of dollars.

-- Shore officials are cracking down on partying at a spot called "the Cove." But who's to blame for the chaos? Locals point to the tourists.

-- Experts agree that cough and cold medicine, especially over-the-counter drugs, should not be given to little kids. It seems that doctors are getting the message.

-- Soup is for summer. Wait, what? --Cold-- soup is for summer, and Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan shares his favorites in Philly right now.

"The people who say that gentrification can be helpful are the same people who go into communities and use words like 'growth' and 'opportunity.' The 'growth' and 'opportunity' that comes from newcomers into a neighborhood often fails to benefit the long-term residents." -- Angelita Ellison is a long-term resident of Philadelphia who lives in Northwest Philly with her son. She writes about how gentrification displaced her family from Point Breeze.

-- Robert Field, a Drexel professor of law and public health, writes about what happens to Medicare if "Medicare for All" eliminates private insurance, a key policy debate for 2020 Democrats.

-- More police complaints should mean more transparency in those reports, not less, The Inquirer Editorial Board writes.

-- KYW Newsradio has the story about a new perk for SEPTA riders: free books to read during their commutes.

-- Bon Appétit shares its view on "how to spend a big fat weekend in Fishtown."

-- The Verge explores how the Fortnite World Cup Finals turned a tennis stadium into a video game amusement park.

Philadelphia museums are banking on theme nights, activities, food, and booze to intrigue young audiences enough to visit them.


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