Catholic League insists that it's only rape when priests "penetrate" children

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 who will not smile in the hallways are sent to mandatory counselling, while bullying is rampant

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

Teachers on four continents stage mass strikes

In the USA, there are tens of thousands of teachers in open rebellion, in Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, and things are heating up in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa and Colorado. Read the rest

GOP candidate Rick Saccone hates government waste, bills the taxpayer like crazy on his own personal expenses, which totalled $435,172

Rick Saccone (@Saccone4PA18) is the Republican challenger for the seat vacated by Tim Murphy, the Pennsylvania anti-abortion Congressman who resigned after being outed for pressuring his pregnant mistress to get an abortion. Read the rest

The Republican candidate for Pennsylvania's 18th District is a torture advocate who worked at Abu Ghraib

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

PA supreme court: was illegal to steal elderly woman's home because her son sold $140 of weed

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.

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.

Read the rest

Forced-pregnancy scam that masqueraded as abortion clinics won't account for $1M in Pennsylvania tax-dollars

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

94% decline in librarians for Philadelphia's public schools

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

Man calls 911 to try and trick medics into fixing his air conditioner

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

Philadelphia schools have $5/student/year for supplies

"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

Help wanted: crypto-usability research director & ops manager

Simply Secure, a nonprofit developing usable, free, open interfaces for cryptographic communications tools like OTR, is hiring! Read the rest

Kickstarting The Origami, a new kind of portable laser-cutter

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

Philadelphia's Hacktory hackerspace is looking for artists-in-residence

Lee writes, "Philadelphia's Hacktory has just announced its Call For Artists for its new Unknown Territory Fellowship and Artist-In-Residency." Read the rest

Cory in Philly, DC

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