STATEWIDE - President Trump was busy attacking the news media yet again yesterday, as he continues to claim any negative reporting about his administration is "fake." Yes, this continues to be dangerous stuff, as the president is the zen master in breezily dismissing cold, hard fact as fanciful fiction. The future of journalism is at a crossroads, with constant credibility challenges from the highest office in the land. Joe Strupp, who has spent 30 years in journalism and recently penned a book called "Killing Journalism," is this week's guest on the Jaffe Podcast. He talks about the pressures for the news business to turn a profit, the prevailing laziness that allows the media to focus on the easy, "sexy" clickbait and how the media created its arch nemesis: Trump. Hear it all here.

TRENTON - So how did Massachusetts create millions of dollars of additional revenue and plenty of new jobs? It simply followed a grand New Jersey idea that allows supermarkets to have more liquor licenses. Great news for Massachusetts; bad news for New Jersey, which never actually adopted its very own plan. NJBiz tells the story of how Massachusetts is thriving with millions more in economic activity and millions more in alcohol excise-tax revenue since that state updated its antiquated liquor laws in 2012. That exact same proposal is still stuck in the mud, somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.

STATEWIDE - NJ Spotlight reports the cops made 7,200 official calls to New Jersey schools in 2017-2018 - and they weren't there to talk up a thrilling career in law enforcement. Another alarming fact: More than 150,000 instruction days were lost last year because students had been suspended. That works out to about 830 kids not in class on any given day because of disciplinary action. The numbers for violence (10,838 instances) and bullying (7,522) are equally disheartening, with race and gender the driving factors for harassment. We're regularly told New Jersey has some of the best school systems in the country. Numbers like this make it tough to give credence to that claim - or suggests these stats are even higher elsewhere.  Read more in today's NJ Spotlight.

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TRENTON - Huck Finn was an affable fellow. But that doesn't mean his book should be in New Jersey schools, say two African-American members of the state Assembly. Assembly members Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer) and Jamel Holley (D-Union) are calling on school districts to remove "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" from their curricula, Politico reports. "Huckleberry Finn," an anti-slavery story written in the 1880s about a white boy trying to help a slave escape, presents a very real depiction of the antebellum South. It includes the use of the despised N-word more than 200 times. The lawmakers are worried students would feel upset, marginalized or humiliated reading this widely-acclaimed novel, noting it has been banned, bowdlerized and bleeped from schools in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Minnesota and Mississippi.

MORRIS COUNTY - Want to "live long and prosper?" Well, get moving to one of this county's 39 towns. For a second year, Morris County got New Jersey's highest ranking in 30 healthy lifestyle categories from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Scraping the bottom of the list is, yet again, Cumberland County, deemed our most unhealthy county because of the record number of sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancies, low graduation rates, high unemployment, rampant obesity and heavy smokers. The silver lining? They get to live near Salem County, where people are usually just a smidge healthier.

WANTAGE - What the heck is happening on New York's highways? Now, a runaway cow captured in the Bronx is taking refuge here at Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue. It's the fourth time in 10 days that NYPD officers have lassoed farm animals running amok on city highways, including two goats and a lamb. This confused, eight-month-old calf was snarling traffic Tuesday morning along the Major Deegan Expressway near Yankee Stadium. It, along with the lamb and a goat, now have new digs at Skylands. The other goat went to farm sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY. This confirms it: NYC is becoming a zoo.

 

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

SANTA ROSA, Calif. - A resident gave his California neighbors something to look at during an ongoing argument over the height of a backyard fence - naked mannequins having a garden party. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports four of the fashion dummies are seated in wicker chairs around a matching table. Another is standing with her arms over her head and shamrocks over her breasts. And the best part: a hand-scrawled sign that reads, "Reserved seat for the nosey neighbor that complained about my fence to the city." The resident says the neighbor's complaint prompted the city to force him to lower the fence. "They wanted... to see inside my yard, and now they get to," he says.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Guaranteeing generations of enlightened Tennesseans, the state Legislature adopted the Butler Act on this day in 1925, making it a crime for any public school teacher to mention any theory that could contradict the Bible's account of creation.

WORD OF THE DAY

Splendiferous - [splen-DIF-ər-əs] - adjective

Definition: Splendid

Example: Have a splendiferous Thursday morning!

WIT OF THE DAY

"My way of joking is to tell the truth. It's the funniest joke in the world."

 

George Bernard Shaw

WEATHER IN A WORD

Wet

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