What the hell is going on in Pennsylvania!!!!???? How is this sign even allowed??? pic.twitter.com/a3InZfiDP4
— Alex Cole (@acnewsitics) March 26, 2019
From the State that gave us Rick Santorum and Snapper Soup. Read the rest
At least six empty houses owned by the estates of Philadelphians ended up in the hands of William Ernest Johnson III, a violent felon currently on parole; the houses were then sold on to developers who renovated and flipped them. Read the rest
I'm heading to the east coast next week, first for a lecture series in NYC for Columbia University (including a conversation with Radiolab's Jad Abumrad about Big Tech, monopolies and democratic technology); and from there I'm headed to Pennsylvania for a talk about my novel Walkaway at Swarthmore, on Sept 28 from 7-9PM at the Lang Performing Arts Center Room (LPAC) 101 Cinema. All the events are free, though some require tickets, so be sure to check in advance. Hope to see you there! Read the rest
Bill Donohue, the president of the ultra-conservative Catholic League, has called the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's report on the official coverups of the priestly rape of children an "obscene lie," insisting that rape was relatively rare, because most of the sexual abuse committed by the priesthood doesn't qualify as rape, because the priests didn't penetrate their victims. Read the rest
High school students in Pennsylvania's Northern Lebanon School District report that they are not allowed to walk through their schools' hallways unless they smile; if they refuse they are sent for mandatory counselling. Read the rest
When Rep Tim Murphy resigned in shame after he was outed for pressuring his mistress to get an abortion while serving on the "House Pro-Life Caucus," it triggered a special election in Pennsylvania's 18th, a rustbelt district in the southwest corner of the state, where a strong Democrat candidate named Conor Lamb is polling high against his Republican opponent, torture advocate Rick Saccone, who served as an Army intelligence support consultant at Abu Ghraib prison after its torture scandal. Read the rest
It took four years, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has finally ruled in favor of 72 year old grandmother Elizabeth Young, whose house was seized by the Philadelphia District Attorney under asset forfeiture rules when her son was caught selling $140 worth of marijuana to undercover agents.
Under civil forfeiture rules, cops and DAs get to steal property suspected of being the proceeds of a crime, then they sue the inanimate objects. The owners of the objects can hire lawyers to represent their property, while the taxpayers foot the bill for the state's side of the suit. If the government wins, it gets to keep the property or sell it and pocket the proceeds.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court blasted the DA for the seizure and reminded the state's lawyers and cops that they can only invoke civil forfeiture when there is good reason to believe that the property's owner "knew of and agreed to the crimes" in question.
The cop who bought the marijuana from Young's son is currently serving a 3.5 year federal prison sentence for planting drugs on suspects.
Read the rest
Young is far from the only person to have her house seized by the Philadelphia D.A. for a minor drug crime that she didn't even commit. In 2013, Philadelphia police seized the house of Christos and Markela Sourovelis after their son was arrested for selling $40-worth of drugs outside of it.
The Sourovelis' sued, with assistance from the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm that has challenged asset forfeiture laws in several states.
Real Alternatives organizes and funds the notorious, deceptive anti-abortion centers ("crisis pregnancy centers") that pretend to be abortion clinics, luring in women who wish to terminate their pregnancies with deceptive advertising and then lying to them about abortion procedures in an effort to coerce them into carrying their fetuses to term; they got $30,000,000 from the state of Pennsylvania and are now suing the state over an audit that was triggered by nearly $1M worth of unaccounted-for state funding. Read the rest
Since 1991, the number of full-time librarians working in Philadelphia's cash-strapped, budget-slashed public schools has declined by 94% -- only eight remain, while the state continues to trail the nation in literacy scores. Read the rest
A 26-year-old Pennsylvania man with a history of making bogus emergency calls to 911 dispatchers recently complained of chest pains so he could ask medics to help him fix his air conditioner. Read the rest
"Education reform," the charter school movement (that siphons state funding for well-off kids into private hands), the racialized segregation of inner-city and suburban school districts, No Child Left Behind, and the scapegoating of teachers' unions has produced an education system that hardly even qualifies as a 12-year babysitting service. Read the rest
Simply Secure, a nonprofit developing usable, free, open interfaces for cryptographic communications tools like OTR, is hiring! Read the rest
Created by a team from Pittsburgh's Techshop makerspace, the Origami uses a novel, fold-out arm that lets you laser-etch and -cut much larger designs than you could get into a normal, enclosed cutter. Read the rest
I'm headed to Philadelphia next week to be the guest of honor at PhilCon (Nov 18-20), and while I'm in the area, I'm giving a free talk at the Wharton School at UPenn (Nov 17, 5PM). On my way home, I'm stopping in DC to give a lunchtime talk at the New America Foundation on Nov 22 (details TBD). Hope to see you there! Read the rest