I have to post the entire article.  It just baffles the mind.

Bullied Student Records Bullies, Gets Threatened With Felony Charges For Violating Wiretapping Law

from the hammers-all-the-way-down dept

Here comes another story highlighting the danger of schools “outsourcing” their disciplinary problems to law enforcement. As we’ve stated before, this does nothing more than turn routine misconduct into criminal behavior, which is a great way to derail a student’s future.

A Pennsylvania teen, who claimed to have been bullied constantly (and ignored by school administration), made an audio recording of his tormentors using a school-supplied iPad. He brought this to the school’s attention, which duly responded by calling the cops… to have him arrested for violating Pennsylvania’s wiretapping law. (h/t to Techdirt reader btr1701)

[The student's mother, Shea] Love says that upon fielding her complaint, Principal Scott Milburn called South Fayette Township police Lieutenant Robert Kurta to the school to interrogate her son in the presence of Associate Principal Aaron Skrbin and Dean of Students Joseph Silhanek. The defendant testified before Judge McGraw-Desmet that he was forced to play the audio for the group and then delete it. Love says by the time she arrived at the school, her son was surrounded by school officials and the police officer and was visibly distraught. She says Milburn defended the teacher’s response to the classroom disturbance.

The administration, rather than consider targeting the recorded bullies, instead called the cops believing (on advice from district lawyers, no less) that they had a felon in their office.

Kurta testified before the magistrate that Milburn requested his presence at the school on February 12 at 8:20 a.m. The officer said, “He believed he had a wiretapping incident.” Upon his arrival, Kurta said Milburn advised him that Silhanek fielded a call that morning from Love notifying him “that she planted a recording device in her son’s backpack to record the activities in one of his classes.” According to Kurta’s testimony, after Milburn consulted with the school district’s attorney, he advised reporting the incident to the police and treating it as a crime.

As Scott Greenfield points out, calling a cop in to handle a school disciplinary problem doesn’t leave the officer with many choices.

At that moment, it was certainly within Lt. Kurta’s ability to pull the principal aside and tell him, “hey, you scared the crap out of the kid, which should do the job. You realize that this isn’t a crime of any sort, and so I’m just going to back away slowly, not embarrass you for bringing me here to waste my time, and you can go back to doing whatever it is you do in this big building. Have a nice day.”

That’s one option. But as these things go, that’s rarely, if ever, the option chosen. The officer, having been summoned, needed to find something to charge the bullied student with.

Kurta said, “After I left the school, I wasn’t sure what charge to file so I contacted the district attorney’s office. This would fall under a wiretapping violation, which is a felony.” He later answered as to why he thought the disorderly conduct charge applied to this case by saying, “Because his (the student’s) actions — he engaged in actions which served no legitimate purpose.” He then read the statute as, “Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by acts which serve no legitimate purpose.”

Because capturing evidence of bullying “serves no legitimate purpose,” apparently.

As Greenfield puts it, the officer was a hammer. Therefore, the bullied student must be a nail. This brought the student in front of yet another authority who could finally apply some common sense to the situation — the magistrate judge. But that was not to be. The judge dragged in her own faith in the malfunctioning system as justification for nailing the student for disorderly conduct. In fact, Judge Maureen McGraw made her statement in defense of the school before the student could make his statement.

“Normally, if there is — I certainly have a big problem with any kind of bullying at school. But normally, you know, I would expect a parent would let the school know about it, because it’s not tolerated. I know that, and that you guys [school administrators] would handle that, you know [...] Because it’s not tolerated, but you need to go through — let the school handle it. And I know from experience with South Fayette School that, you know, it always is. And if there is a problem and it continues, then it is usually brought in front of me.”

Greenfield again, pointing out just how wrong the judge’s statement is:

While this may not be a unique reaction, whether with school officials or police, it is decidedly flagrant. Where a judge’s function is so fundamentally undermined from the outset, that an accuser is so virtuous that it cannot be wrong, the prejudice can neither be ignored nor excused. The die was cast by dint of the school having “brought [the student] in front of” the judge.

The last part of the “unholy trinity” was the final hammer, coming down on the “nail” placed in front of it by school administrators (who can do no wrong) and a police officer (who is beyond fault). Guilty as charged.

The judge’s statement is particularly egregious, considering the situation in front of her. First off, the judge’s faith in the school’s ability to combat bullying is obviously misplaced. She saw no fault in her reasoning and, using that as her platform for the rest of her statement, she went on to act on her own information and beliefs.

But further than appealing to her own authority, the judge stated how these things should be handled, apparently completely unaware (or unwilling to recognize) that following the prescribed steps is what resulted in a bullied child standing in front of her, facing a BS “disorderly conduct” charge.

The judge said that bullying victims should first bring the problem to their parents — which this student did. Next, she says the parents should let the school administrators know — which she did. Finally, she says, let the school handle it — which it did. And now, the student faces her — having followed all the proper steps — charged with disorderly conduct. And yet, despite this, she asserts that the system works and, indeed, has always worked in regards to this particular school. Logical fallacy piled on top of logical fallacy until a bullied kid is charged with a crime while his recorded tormentors remain unpunished.

The judge refused to believe that any one of these esteemed administrators could have screwed up, failing to believe that they, too, are human and as prone to failure as anyone else. If they’ve never screwed up in the past, all future misdeeds are forgiven (and forgotten) in advance. This is the sort of rationale that should never be deployed by a supposedly impartial overseer like a judge, because it’s just as wrong as assuming every authority figure involved here is an irredeemable monster.

[P]eople are not so one-dimensional that they are horrible in every instance, to every person, under every circumstances. The cop who beats a man one day may have saved a kitten in a tree the day before.

Maybe the school has had an admirable track record on curtailing bullying. Maybe Officer Kurta doesn’t always seek to find something to charge a person with when put in this position. But everyone here came together to make a string of regrettable decisions that led to a bullied student being punished, rather than the aggressors. Maybe the future holds better outcomes, but for right now, everyone involved had a chance to stop this from reaching this illogical conclusion, but no one — from the administrators to their legal team to local law enforcement to the presiding judge — was interested in reining this in. In the end, it looks as though an innate desire to punish someone was satisfied every step of the way.

As a parent, this leaves me shuddering.  Where is the logic?

200 million social security numbers were sold on the Black Market.  Are they going to wait until the Second Coming before alerting anyone?

Investigators said sometime before March 2012, a Vietnamese man named Hieu Minh Ngo used a false identity to purchase Social Security numbers with a database called Court Ventures, and then sold that information on the international black market.

Experian purchased Court Ventures in 2012, but it is unclear when Experian officials became aware of the breach, and now members of Congress and authorities in multiple states are demanding to know whether Experian and Court Ventures took steps to protect consumer information and if they notified potential victims.

“Experian and Court Ventures are each pointing a finger at the other company, saying they have to notify their customers. Meanwhile the consumer is left the odd person out with all of their vital information exposed,” said financial crimes expert Chris Swecker.

Swecker, a former FBI agent, told Channel 9 the breach encompasses more information than just the 200 million SSNs. He said consumer addresses, vital information and credit-history reports are also at risk.

“From a consumer perspective, this is your worst nightmare. This is what every bad guy wants to get their hands on,” Swecker said.

They should have to pay the same penalties that healthcare billers have to pay when they screw up ($50,000 per incident).  I know that they will never be held to task, but what are we (200 million) supposed to do now?  Maybe they should be forced into monitoring the ss#s instead of trying to sell us a report for $4.

Gov’t says report on power grid threats mishandled

A March 13 story in the Wall Street Journal said federal officials had concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation’s three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse. Knocking out nine key substations could plunge the country into darkness for weeks, if not months, the newspaper said, citing the federal analysis.
Sens. Mary Landrieu and Lisa Murkowski, the top two leaders of the Senate Energy Committee, asked Friedman to investigate the “apparent leak” to the newspaper.
Murkowski, R-Alaska, called release of the information dangerous and irresponsible and said it “could provide a road map to those who wish to harm the United States.”
Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, called the leak reckless and said it “put lives in danger.”
Landrieu chairs the Energy Committee and Murkowski is the panel’s senior Republican. The committee is holding a hearing on the issue Thursday.
In a three-page “management alert” Wednesday, Friedman said at least one power-grid related presentation — prepared by FERC in response to the Metcalf incident — should have been classified as secret and protected from release.

Anyone with common sense  Does anyone have a clue about security?

At the expense of the US citizen who actually worked for those benefits.  Stunning.

President Obama’s aunt – who lived in the U.S. illegally for years after being denied asylum – has died in Massachusetts.

Zeituni Onyango, 61, passed away at about 4 a.m., Tuesday, at a Boston rehabilitation center where she was being treated for cancer and respiratory problems, her immigration lawyer Margaret Wong said.

Where was her sister all this time?


Funeral plans have not been finalized. It remains unclear whether Onyango will be buried in Boston or brought back to her native Kenya by her sister, who came to the United States a few weeks ago to help the ailing woman, Wong said.

Free public housing as an illegal alien, free medical care…and what did she do to earn it?  Nada.  I have no problem with people coming here to work, but do it the legal way.  Pay into the system.   It is unfortunate that our government rewards the foreign workers at the expense of the citizens.   We truly are a mess.

Great use of medical health records, don’t you think?

The 20-year-old history major has spent the past few months sparring with Yale’s health center over her low weight. Chan is 5’2” and 92 lbs., and Yale doctors were concerned her health was severely at risk.

She contended that she’s always been very thin, as were her parents and grandparents at her age.

Yet until Friday, Yale had been telling Chan she might be forced to leave school if she didn’t put on some pounds.

This young woman ate all kinds of fatty, unhealthy foods to pack on the pounds.


“It’s something we need to bring attention to,” Chan said. “I don’t want to get kicked out of school, but no one, so far, has been willing to stand up for me.”
The root of the problem, Chan said, was that Yale placed too much emphasis on the body mass index as the guiding measure of a person’s health. Body mass index, or BMI, is a number determined by a person’s weight and height. It is often used as a screening tool for a variety of possible weight problems in adults.

The nanny state wants to record your smoking habits as well as your BMI.  If your doc doesn’t chastise you about that weight or smoking, they are penalized now.

Think about all those pesky questions that you are now asked.  I’m fairly sure that your doc believes that as an adult, you can make a responsible choice about your lifestyle.  I’m sure the doc means well, but seriously why does the nanny state believe that I will bank on the physician’s last word?  It’s not as if I don’t see the extra in the mirror in the morning.

It is very difficult to believe that zerocare shot over the 7 million mark without a little tinkering.

HHS “Started” Individual Obamacare Applications Prior To Deadline,Obtained Personal Info From States

With a little help from the states, anything can happen.  Whatever happened to that “privacy” thingy?

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