STATEWIDE – It is Back to School, and for many kids, it is the sad return to the hallways, locker rooms and lunch tables, all bastions for bullying. And it’s no longer just about an ill-timed wedgie.  Cyber-bullying follows students home and continues every waking hour that he or she looks at Instagram, Snapchat and any other social media app that alienates. We offer a special, Back to School podcast with Dianne Grossman of Rockaway, who lost her 12-year-old daughter, Mallory, to bullying in 2017, and Eleni Theodorou, the author of children’s books designed to reach grade school students as early as possible. The pair tells us the latest about bullying now happening in our schools and what must be done to save children from the abuse. Listen here.

TRENTON – With reports that up to 15 young New Jerseyans have shown symptoms of severe lung disease — and that the only common denominator was their use of e-cigarettes — the state is now on the case, investigating whether there’s a connection, NJ Spotlight reports. More than 200 people nationwide have been similarly affected. But New Jersey and others should hold on a sec, argues all those well-meaning folks from the multi-billion-dollar vaping industry. They argue that health officials and the media have rushed to judgment, and that the likely culprit is illegitimate “street vapes” containing illegal drugs, not nicotine vaping products now being dangled to teens at a convenience store near you.

EAST RUTHERFORD – Just when you think they have officially run out of things to rank, SeatGeek offers a whole new perspective. Now we know that the bathrooms at MetLife Stadium are an awful place to go No. 1 and No. 2., when compared to the other NFL stadiums, with their fancy urinals and toilets. For Giants games, MetLife ranks 24th in the league. For Jets games, where perhaps fans have more of an aiming problem, the bathrooms dropped to 27th in the league, according to 3,200 NFL fans who were polled. The $1.6 billion stadium, opening just nine years ago, did just as poorly in other categories, like food and atmosphere. The best stadium? Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Damn you, Brett Favre.

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FREEHOLD – New Jersey’s only Republican congressman faces a challenge from one of his former student interns. Democrat Stephanie Schmid, 39, tells WHYY that although she was 16 and in high school when she interned for Rep. Chris Smith in the 1990s, she did not share his “extreme views” on women’s rights, abortion and health care. Schmid, now an attorney and women’s rights activist, says: “It’s time for Chris Smith to be sent into retirement in Virginia, where he lives and owns a home. He no longer represents the values of New Jersey.” Schmid moved back to the Garden State from D.C. just this year, and is one of four Democrats who hopes to oust Smith in 2020. The congressman should have flunked her when he had the chance.

NUTLEY - Well, if you are going to steal from a Costco, it is good to think small. After all, those 40-gallon jars of mayo are hard to hide. So, kudos to the local woman who did a switcheroo at the local Costco in Clifton on Sunday, asking to see a $28,000 ring and slyly handing back a $2,000 ring that she stole earlier in the day from another Costco in Wayne. Pretty sneaky, sis. That is until the cops came knocking and she led them to the Passaic River, where she buried the ring on the banks, under a fence. She is charged with theft, while the news-reading public is still amazed that Costco sells rings for upwards of $420,000.

NEWARK – A classroom straight out of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry might appear out of place in Brick City. But, one third-grade teacher hopes Harry Potter will inspire her students to find the magic in reading. So, News12 NJ says, teacher Alayna Victoria waved her wand to create “Classroom 9¾” at KIPP SPARK Academy, a Halsey Street K-4 charter school for brave young Gryffindors. What better way to fend off the Dark Arts than with a good book?

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NASHVILLE, TN – Meanwhile, Harry Potter just got booted out of St. Edward Catholic High School. The diocese pastor is under the delusion (or maybe an Imperius curse) that this popular seven-book series “contains actual curses and spells” that could encourage readers of any age to “conjure up evil spirits.” The Tennessean says the Rev. Dan Reehil consulted with trained Catholic exorcists in the U.S. and Rome before he waved his wand and – Poof! – those oh-so-frightening Harry Potter books vanished off school library shelves. Maybe they are replaced with copies of the Bible because, you know, there were no evil-doers in there.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1987 that John McEnroe was fined $17,500 for his screaming tirades at the U.S. Open, therefore earning a fortune in endorsements.

WORD OF THE DAY

Confrere – [KAHN-frayr] – noun

Definition: A colleague or comrade

Example: I asked my confrere at the bar to kindly pass the beer nuts to John McEnroe, still celebrating his fine.

WIT OF THE DAY

“If it’s the Psychic Network, why do they need a phone number?”

- Robin Williams

WEATHER IN A WORD

Thick

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