Bobby Allyn | KERA News

Bobby Allyn

Bobby Allyn is a general assignment reporter for NPR.

He came to Washington from Philadelphia, where he covered criminal justice and breaking news for more than four years at member station WHYY. In that role, he focused on major corruption trials, law enforcement, and local criminal justice policy. He helped lead NPR's reporting of Bill Cosby's two criminal trials. He was a guest on Fresh Air after breaking a major story about the nation's first supervised injection site plan in Philadelphia. In between daily stories, he has worked on several investigative projects, including a story that exposed how the federal government was quietly hiring debt collection law firms to target the homes of student borrowers who had defaulted on their loans. Allyn also strayed from his beat to cover Philly parking disputes that divided in the city, the last meal at one of the city's last all-night diners, and a remembrance of the man who wrote the Mister Softee jingle on a xylophone in the basement of his Northeast Philly home.

At other points in life, Allyn has been a staff reporter at Nashville Public Radio and daily newspapers including The Oregonian in Portland and The Tennessean in Nashville. His work has also appeared in BuzzFeed News, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

A native of Wilkes-Barre, a former mining town in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Allyn is the son of a machinist and a church organist. He's a dedicated bike commuter and long-distance runner. He is a graduate of American University in Washington.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali, who stepped away from his restaurants and television appearances after facing accusations of sexual harassment, pleaded not guilty on Friday in a courtroom in Boston, where he is standing trial over allegedly kissing and groping a woman against her will in 2017.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill on Friday that criminalizes abortions in the state after eight weeks of pregnancy, the latest in a series of sweeping restrictions passed by Republican-controlled legislatures that now threaten nearly 50 years of federal protections for abortion.

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

The Trump administration will provide $16 billion in aid to help keep farmers afloat as they reel from the yearlong trade war between the U.S. and China, the latest sign that the world's two largest economies are still far from striking a long-term trade agreement.

The bulk of the support, or about $14.5 billion, is direct aid to farmers, which producers will start to see some time this summer, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.

State corrections officials in Arizona are facing calls to reverse a ban on a book that that explores the impact of the criminal justice system on black men. Prison officials say the book contains "unauthorized content," while civil rights advocates claim that placing the book on a blacklist amounts to censorship.

The New York Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday that closes the "double jeopardy" loophole, permitting state authorities to prosecute someone who receives a pardon from the president. The vote was 90-52.

Top Democrats in the state framed the change as a way to stand up to President Trump by removing a shield that had protected defendants from being prosecuted twice for similar crimes and could have benefited those receiving pardons.

The College Board has been testing a tool that could give the millions of students who take the SATs every year a score measuring their economic hardships and other disadvantages, the nonprofit said Thursday.

The Environmental Context Dashboard includes information about students' high schools, including the rate of teens who receive free or reduced lunch, and their home life and neighborhoods, such as average family income, educational attainment, housing stability and crime.

A nonprofit group in Philadelphia is fighting in court to be allowed to open the first facility in the country for people to use illegal opioids under medical supervision. The group, called Safehouse, has the backing of local government, yet faces a legal challenge from federal prosecutors.

The idea of supervised injection sites is to offer people a space where they can use drugs under the supervision of trained medical staff, who are prepared with the overdose-reversal drug naloxone. Such sites supply clean needles and other supplies, but users bring their own drugs.

After months of threats, federal prosecutors in Philadelphia launched a legal challenge on Wednesday against the nonprofit Safehouse, which is hoping to open what could be the nation's first site where people with opioid addiction can use drugs under medical supervision.

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history has some of the country's poorest residents worried about how they are going to stay fed.

In Pennsylvania, no place has more trouble keeping food on the table than the city of Reading, population 88,000, about an hour outside Philadelphia. Nearly half of all households there receive food stamps, the highest rate in the state.

The human toll of that statistic can be found everywhere, including among the people lining up for a monthly food pantry operated by St. James Chapel Church of God.

More than two weeks after the nation's worst fire in a century erupted in Northern California, crews are still trying to find hundreds of people.

The Camp Fire has claimed at least 85 lives and, as of Sunday, is 100 percent contained. But now dozens of disaster workers from across the country are coming to the town of Paradise to help out with the search mission.

In Northern California, search crews continue to sift through the burned city of Paradise more than two weeks after the eruption of the fire, which has claimed the lives of 84 people and charred a land area larger than the city of Chicago.

Searchers say they will need several more days to sift through the more than 20,000 structures that the Camp Fire engulfed in this working-class community in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Driving around Paradise is a bleak and haunting scene, made even more grim with dark clouds and rain falling.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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The Department of Justice has launched an investigation of child sex abuse within Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic Church, sending subpoenas to dioceses across the state seeking private files and records to explore the possibility that priests and bishops violated federal law in cases that go back decades, NPR has learned.

In Philadelphia, a battle between local officials and the Trump administration is heating up.

In defiance of threats from the Justice Department, public health advocates in Philadelphia have launched a nonprofit to run a facility to allow people to use illegal drugs under medical supervision. It is the most concrete step yet the city has taken toward eventually opening a so-called supervised injection site.

The non-profit, called Safehouse, was formed after a political heavyweight, former Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, joined the board.

Copyright 2018 WHYY. To see more, visit WHYY.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

As the Senate remains in a pitched battle over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court on Monday will begin its new term with far less fanfare.

The high court is launching its nine-month term evenly divided — with four conservative and four liberal justices — as an F.B.I. investigation into sexual misconduct allegations lodged against Kavanaugh delays a full Senate vote on the nomination. Kavanaugh was nominated to fill the vacancy created by the retirement this past summer of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often cast the pivotal swing vote on cases.

Copyright 2018 WHYY. To see more, visit WHYY.

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Updated at 5 p.m. ET

Editor's note: This story contains a graphic description of sexual assault.

A Montgomery County, Pa., judge sentenced disgraced comedian Bill Cosby to three to 10 years in state prison Tuesday, saying that the words of Cosby's main accuser Andrea Constand that the entertainer took her "beautiful, young spirit and crushed it" helped him reach his decision.

"It is time for justice, Mr. Cosby," said Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill. "This has all circled back to you."

Copyright 2018 WHYY. To see more, visit WHYY.

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A top Justice Department official is putting cities considering medically-supervised drug injection facilities on notice: If you open one, prepare for swift and aggressive legal action.

With record numbers of fatal overdoses, several cities are working on plans to launch facilities where people can inject illegal drugs with staff on hand to help them if they overdose. Now, however, the Trump administration is vowing a major crackdown.

Ryen Aleman had headphones on and a controller in his hand, playing the popular football video game Madden NFL at a tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., when there were loud pops behind him. Other competitors began bolting out of the room. Something was wrong, he thought. When he realized the jarring sound was gunfire, Aleman told his video game opponent and instructed him to follow his lead.

"Let's crawl down. Let's crawl to the restroom," he said.

Hurricane Lane, now downgraded to a tropical storm, is expected to continue to dump heavy rain in Hawaii on Saturday, as officials warn of flash flooding that could inundate homes and roadways after already pouring more than 3 feet of rain across the island.

Dozens of residents have been forced to evacuate their homes over the past two days, wading through waist-high water, and sometimes spreading brush fires, to safety, while thousands of others remain in shelters.

In court documents released this week, internal emails from the Department of Homeland Security show that federal officials tried to prove countries were becoming safer, even when that was not the case, in order to justify ending Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war or natural disasters.

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