4 shot dead in Philadelphia home’s basement

(19 Nov 2018) Police say two men and two women were shot and killed in a basement in Philadelphia. The bodies were discovered in the west Philadelphia home on Monday, each with a single gunshot wound to the head. (Nov. 19)

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First lady speaks on opioid crisis at Pa. hospital

(17 Oct 2018) US First Lady Melania Trump spoke briefly at a conference at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia on newborns who were exposed to opioids while in the womb. (Oct. 17)

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Trump: US in midst of ‘manufacturing renaissance’

(2 Oct 2018) Celebrating a new U.S. trade deal with Mexico and Canada, President Donald Trump is highlighting what he calls and “economic revival” as he addresses electrical contractors in Philadelphia. (Oct. 2)

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Cosby sent to prison in handcuffs for three to 10 year sentence

Disgraced US television icon Bill Cosby leaves court after being sentenced to three to 10 years in prison by a judge and branded a “sexually violent predator” for assaulting a woman at his Philadelphia mansion 14 years ago.

Bill Cosby leaves court after receiving jail sentence

Disgraced US television icon Bill Cosby leaves court after being sentenced to three to 10 years in prison by a judge and branded a “sexually violent predator” for assaulting a woman at his Philadelphia mansion 14 years ago. IMAGES

Cosby returns to court to learn sentencing fate

(25 Sep 2018) Bill Cosby doesn’t plan to make a statement in court before he’s sentenced for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman. Cosby returned to a suburban Philadelphia courthouse Tuesday to learn his fate for the 2004 attack. (Sept. 25)

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Cosby arrives for start of sentencing hearing

(24 Sep 2018) Bill Cosby has arrived at a suburban Philadelphia courthouse for the start of a sentencing hearing that will determine the punishment for the 81-year-old comedian convicted of sexual assault. (Sept. 24)

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Obama in Pennsylvania, hoping to boost Democrats

(21 Sep 2018) Barack Obama turned his political attention Friday to Pennsylvania — a state Donald Trump won in 2016. The former president campaigned in Philadelphia with two leading Democrats running for re-election, Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. (Sept. 21)

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Cosby sentence options: prison, jail, probation

(20 Sep 2018) Bill Cosby could be sent to prison next week for drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004, in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era. (Sept. 20)

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Aziz Ansari Didn’t Address His #MeToo Moment At A Sold Out Show In Knoxville

Aziz Ansari is making a comeback.

Over the last month, the comedian has started hosting “pop-up shows” in cities across the country. They’re billed under the title “Working Out New Material” with the intent of doing exactly that.

With only a few days’ notice, he’s sold out venues in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Madison, Bennettsville, South Carolina, and most recently, Knoxville. They’re some of the first advertised stand-up sets Ansari has done since sexual harassment allegations were made against him in January by an anonymous 23-year-old photographer in a Babe.net article, which added his name to a long list of powerful men swept up in the #MeToo movement. Ansari subsequently shrank himself from the spotlight: no performances, no interviews, barely any paparazzi shots.

Ansari’s position in the constellation of Hollywood #MeToo stories is a complicated one. It happened on a date, while many of the other incidents happened under more professional guises. It’s one woman’s story, in contrast to the scores of victims who have shared stories about Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose. These details, however, don’t render Ansari’s accuser’s story or feelings any less valid. If anything, they warrant an even more nuanced conversation about enthusiastic consent and victim-blaming.

But so far, if anyone has gone to one of Ansari’s shows looking to gain clarity on his accusations, they haven’t found it.

Thursday night’s Knoxville show at the Tennessee Theatre was announced a week ago and just a few days after Louis C.K. made a surprise appearance at New York City’s Comedy Cellar. Tickets went for $42 and sold out quickly despite the short-notice. Par for Ansari’s previous “Working Out New Material” shows, the audience was warned that phones and smart watches would be locked away during the show. It’s a practice that’s become de rigueur at comedy shows to prevent jokes from hitting the internet and spoiling the experience of future audiences.

After brief sets from Wil Sylvince and Phil Hanley, Ansari made his way to the stage, wearing a T-shirt from Kanye West’s Yeezus tour, and was welcomed by roaring applause. A bit about staying off his own phone rolled seamlessly into jokes about how quickly and incisively the internet vilifies people — without leaving room for a nuanced conversation. He talked about Roseanne, the CEO of Starbucks, and the teen who was accused of cultural appropriation for wearing a Chinese qipao to prom.

At one point, he quizzes the audience on a new outrage he saw online: Pizza Hut is embroiled in scandal because some customers thought they were delivered a pizza with the pepperonis arranged in the shape of a swastika. But some people online think it looks more like a Star of David. Other people think it just looks like a regular pizza. He likens it to the Laurel/Yanny auditory illusion that went viral in May and encourages the audience to weigh in.

Clap if you saw a swastika. Clap if you saw a Star of David. Clap if you just saw a pizza. (There are no visual aids, he’s operating on the assumption that you know what he’s talking about.) At the end of the poll, Ansari reveals he made the whole thing up, but everyone who clapped chose to take a side anyway. It’s a believable premise, and the bit easily functions as an allegory for a variety of outrage greatest hits like The Dress, “fake news,” or even Ansari’s own experience with the Babe.net article.

To be clear, there is no “Babe.net,” no “#MeToo,” no “Louis C.K.” no “Harvey Weinstein” in this show. The majority of Ansari’s Knoxville material meditated on race in America, especially his own experiences as an Indian actor in Hollywood — getting mistaken for Kumail Nanjiani, his take on The Problem With Apu, having difficulties casting a younger version of himself for Master Of None, and the realities of dating as part of a mixed race couple in the public eye.

Ansari goes on to explain that sometimes his girlfriend doesn’t pick up on racist microaggressions because she’s a white woman from Denmark. He had to explain to her why publications refer to her as “Becky.” When someone yells at them on the street that she probably gets a lot of free taxi rides with him as her boyfriend, she takes it to be a comment on her being perceived as a gold digger, only dating him for his wealth. But Ansari explains to her that the man is using the stereotype that Indian people are taxi drivers to make fun of him.

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