Pennsylvania kindergartener uses Hello Kitty bubble-gun at school, suspended for "terrorist threat"

Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in Pennsylvania suspended a five-year-old girl for pointing a Hello Kitty bubble-gun at another student, characterizing this as a "terrorist threat." The little girl had to undergo psychiatric evaluation before she was allowed back in. Her parents say that they couldn't get their daughter into another school, because no one wanted a kid with "terrorist" on her transcript. They're considering a lawsuit.

The school claims "the information supplied to the media may not be consistent with the facts" but declines to correct the record. They do, however, offer this empty, mealy-mouthed rubbish: "The Mount Carmel Area School District takes the well-being and safety of students and staff very seriously."

The kindergartner, who attends Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in Pennsylvania, caught administrators’ attention after suggesting she and a classmate should shoot each other with bubbles.

“I think people know how harmless a bubble is. It doesn’t hurt,” said Robin Ficker, an attorney for the girl’s family. According to Ficker, the girl, whose identity has not been released, didn’t even have the bubble gun toy with her at school.

Kindergartner Suspended Over Bubble Gun Threat (via Reddit) Read the rest

School freaks out because students making a science video with an umbrella were mistaken for school shooters

A school in Pennsylvania went into full-on lockdown when some children who were making a video about the immune system, which involved some sort of play-fighting with an umbrella, were mistaken for gun-toting lunatics. There is a balance between disaster preparedness and "when in trouble, or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout," and this isn't it. A deputy chief in the video excuses the exercise because the kids were doing something "suspicious," but of course, there's a difference between being secure and being terrified of anything out-of-the-ordinary. Alerting parents and locking down kids when nothing bad is happening isn't making us more secure, it's making us more scared.

School Goes Into Lockdown — Complete with Kids Crying in Closet — Over Umbrella Read the rest

Voter suppression: targeting the poor, the old, and students

The Atlantic's Andrew Cohen describes the seven-hour early voter lines at polling stations in Democratic strongholds like Miami, where Republican officials like Governor Rick Scott has reduced the number of early voting days, making it harder than ever for working people with marginal incomes to vote.

When the remaining restrictions were challenged in federal court, a George W. Bush appointee said there was no proof that the reduced hours would "impermissibly burden" minority voters. How many hours in line must a Florida voter wait before the burden upon her becomes an "impermissible" one? If Florida's election officials, and its Republican lawmakers, and its state and federal judges, all were required to stand in line for seven hours to vote those long lines would go away forever. You know it, I know it, and so do those officials.

How about Ohio, another "battleground" state governed by partisan fiat. Its election rules are administered by a secretary of state, Jon Husted, who just a few years ago was the GOP speaker of the state house. Like their counterparts in Florida, Ohio's Republican lawmakers sought to restrict wildly popular early-voting hours around the state. And again the federal courts blunted the impact of their new rules. So what has Husted done? He's focused his energy this weekend ginning up ways to justify discarding provisional ballots cast by his fellow citizens.

These are just two recent examples. There are more. But they all have a few core things in common. In each instance, elected officials are making it harder for American citizens to vote and to have their votes counted.

Read the rest

Cory in Philly tonight

I'm heading to Philly today for an event at Indy Hall, co-sponsored by the awesome Geekadelphia and the Hive76 hackerspace. From there I go to Bethesda, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Toronto, then, finally, Boston! Here's the schedule, looking forward to seeing you! Read the rest