December 20: Valid soda tax | Diversifying Mummery | climate data hoarding

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Philadelphia’s soda tax was deemed valid by the Court of Common Pleas, as judge Gary Glazer dismissed a legal challenge from the American Beverage Association. Bobby Allyn reports attorneys representing the beverage industry plan to challenge in Commonwealth Court even as the city will begin levying the tax on distributors come January 1.

Uber’s self-driving cars have hit the road in California, in defiance of state regulators, and have been caught committing traffic violations and evidently have an especially dangerous, but known, problem sharing the road with bikes, the Guardian reports. Bonus: Uber’s annual losses this year could hit $3 billion, reports Bloomberg.  

Pennsylvania is fighting for royalties it believes gas companies owe for drilling on state forestland through accounting audits, reports StateImpact. “There are 386,000 acres of publicly-owned forest land leased to gas companies, and like private landowners, the state has had problems getting paid properly.”

Next City takes a timely walk through recent attempts to diversify the Mummer’s parade, the addition of San Mateo Carnavaleros repping Philadelphia’s substantial Poblano population, and sensitivity training to introduce what could be a different sort of parade to ring in 2017. The city is reviewing every skit in advance to avoid negative surprises. To Nick Spitzer, host of American Routes and a cultural anthropologist at Tulane, carnival atmospheres don’t conform to social norms or politeness, but the healthiest ones make room for inclusion and competition through satire. “You can be vocal against something, you can shun something, but it’s always better if you can add something,”

Expect new pop-up food vendors rotating through Reading Terminal Market’s day carts, reports the Business Journal.

A Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed 38-story office building is planned to replace the parking lot at 13th and Market, reports Jacob Adelman.

The Washington Post reports climate scientists are racing to copy government data to independent servers fearing political interference by a Trump administration. “In Philadelphia, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, along with members of groups such as Open Data Philly and the software company Azavea, have been meeting to figure out ways to harvest and store important data sets.”

Fritz Steiner, PennDesign’s new dean, argues that our concept of “sanctuary city” should be broadened to “make all our cities refuges for learning, for health and safety, for tolerance and inclusion, and environmental quality.”

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