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    Imagine if Philadelphia were totally blacked out for a dozen hours daily, with no water or heat and no electricity or cellphone coverage. Imagine if high-rise apartment dwellers, including the elderly and moms with babies, had to lug water and food to upper floors because the elevators weren't working. Imagine if surgeons at local hospitals had to operate by generator, and cars had to drive in total darkness while pedestrians navigated by flashlight.

      On the surface, the holiday retail season is off to a great start. Almost 200 million U.S. shoppers turned out in person and online from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday, and holiday retail sales are expected to rise between 6% and 8% from last year to nearly $1 trillion. Amazon reported its most successful launch of a holiday shopping season ever.

      A looming national rail strike was narrowly averted, after the Senate voted 80-15 to impose a bargaining agreement on intransigent unions. Brokered by the Biden administration, the deal includes an extra paid day off, along with a 24% pay raise through 2024. Eight of the 12 rail unions ratified it, but four voted it down.

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