Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Did Chicago cop really say he's entitled to collect from his victim's family? Depends on which paper you read.

LaTarsha Jones, center, a daughter of Bettie Jones, is comforted by family and friends in front of Jones' apartment building in the West Garfield Park neighborhood Dec. 27, 2015. Jones was shot and killed by police the previous day along with 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier. Now killer-cop Rialmo is suing LeGrier family, saying the incident "changed him".
The Sun-Times and Tribune both had reporters at the second day of the trial over lawsuits stemming from Chicago cop Robert Rialmo's shooting of 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier and his neighbor, 55-year-old Bettie Jones following a report of a domestic dispute. But each paper reported a crucial part of the testimony differently.

The city’s lawyers this month avoided a trial with Jones’ family by reaching a proposed $16 million settlement, but the city made no such deal with LeGrier’s family.

The shootings were part of a long, recent string of CPD killings of unarmed African-Americans and took place just a month after a judge forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to release footage of a white officer, Jason Van Dyke, shooting black teen Laquan McDonald 16 times. That trial could have great implications for the upcoming mayor's race.

COULD IMPACT MAYOR'S RACE...The trial of three Chicago Police officers charged with filing false reports on the McDonald shooting to cover for Van Dyke has been pushed back to late November, after the election.

Rialmo, who is on paid desk duty, also remains under investigation for a December 2017 bar fight in which he punched two men in the face in an altercation caught on video.

After killing LeGrier and Jones, Rialmo turned around and with support from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) filed a counter-suit against the LeGrier estate and a cross-claim against the city, alleging he should collect because he was "poorly trained" and that he was psychologically damaged ("changed") by the event.

If you read each paper's coverage, you wonder if they were covering the same trial or if we're reading the same testimony. See if you can tell the difference.

Sun-Times reporter Sam Charles had it this way in this morning's edition:
“On Dec. 26, 2015, you shot Quintonio LeGrier?” Foutris [LeGrier family lawyer] asked.
Yes,” Rialmo responded.
“You shot him multiple times?”
“You shot him intentionally?”
Referencing Rialmo’s cross-claim against the city and countersuit filed against the LeGrier estate, Foutris asked:
“You want this jury to give you money for killing Antonio [LeGrier]’s kid?”Rialmo paused, shrugged and said, “Yes."
But here's the way that last exchange was reported in the Tribune by reporter, Dan Kinkel:
 “You think you’re entitled to money for killing Antonio’s kid?” Foutris asked. Rialmo did not answer as opposing lawyers quickly raised objections.
Sodid Rialmo answer, "yes", he thought he was entitled to money for killing Antonio LeGrier's son? Or did he not answer the question?

Depends on which paper you read.

Monday, June 18, 2018


Daniel José Camacho
When the US government snatches children, it's biblical to resist the law. -- Guardian
Jacob Soboroff, reporting from McAllen, TX
 "People in here are locked up in cages, essentially what look like animal kennels. I don't know any other way to describe it." -- MSNBC
Antar Davidson
...who quit his job at a nonprofit migrant child detention center in Arizona, says he was instructed to tell siblings not to hug before they were separated: "The three siblings were clutching each other for dear life, tears streaming down their face". -- Democracy Now
Cassie Cresswell, Raise Your Hand
 "We are deeply concerned about yet another improper sharing incident of student data in Chicago Public Schools." -- DataBreaches.net

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Korean summit about much more than Kim/Trump wrestling match

It was just a few months ago that Trump was threatening "fire and fury" and boasting, "My button is bigger than yours". He had Pentagon on a nuclear war footing and the U.S. armada sailing into Korean waters.
Big media is looking at the Singapore meeting as if it was a pro-wrestling event. Who will win, Trump or Kim? The talking heads on CNN ponder the question. Should Trump be shaking hands with a dictator? Has he done his prep work? Is Kim just playing him? Many Democrats hope to God that the Summit is a PR flop for DT and that he returns home without a feather in his fascist cap. Trump's base will stay with him come what may.

But the way I see it, once you cut through all the bullshit, the summit offers positive prospects in a dangerous, rapidly changing world order. With an economically self-confident China, now tamping down the trade war threat and working along with South Korea to push diplomacy on the Korean peninsula, both Trump's and Kim's hands have been forced.

With the U.S. declining in global power and stature and the atomic clock edging closer to midnight, these are dangerous times. Trump is playing on American fears of lost privilege and economic ruin.

Cold War with Russia, trade war with Europe, Canada and China, and Bolton itching for pre-emptive nuclear strikes against Iran and North Korea, and all this playing on our growing sense of national insecurity. Building on that fear and insecurity was the cornerstone of Trump's election campaign in 2016. Now it's seen as the only way out (aside from purging the voting rolls) for Trump and the Republicans in the November elections. The Summit changes none of this.

But remember, it was just a few months ago that DT had the Pentagon on a nuclear war footing and sending its lost armada into Korean waters (shadowed by Russian and Chinese war ships). Remember him saber-rattling, threatening "fire and fury", and boasting: "My button is bigger than yours..."?

Kim defied repeated economic sanctions and international pressure over its nuclear regime and vowed a “merciless response” to any US provocation. Hopefully, popular world pressure and current negotiations will put a damper on all that empty, but provocative, chatter.

To the people of the Korean Peninsula, who have suffered from war -- hot and cold -- for the past 68 years and more, with distorted economies and families on both sides of the arbitrary 38th Parallel torn from each other, both captives to superpower rivalry, this is about so much more than a personal rivalry between autocrats. The people on both sides of the line want assurances of peace on a nuclear-free peninsula, trade and normalization of relations, and ultimately national reunification.

None of those things will likely come out of this first round of diplomacy. But I'm glad the Singapore meetings are taking place. If nothing else, they buy time and pull us from the brink. And right now, time is the enemy of Trump and his Republican hangers-on.

Deja vu all over again?

The missing piece is still a powerful anti-war movement here on the ground. It was such a movement 50 years ago that pressured both Democrats and Trump's reactionary, Republican and anti-communist forbearer, Richard Nixon to finally end the war in Vietnam and normalize relations with China.

Deja vu all over again? Could be.

Monday, June 11, 2018


Now iconic photo from the G-6 +1 says it all. 
Gary Younge
The political situation in America is many things: it’s exhausting, exasperating, terrifying, volatile, vulgar, unsustainable and unhinged. The one thing it is not, is normal. -- Guardian
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau 
“Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we will also not be pushed around.” -- RCP
Brent Staples
 With black soldiers subjected to segregation even as they offered their lives for freedom, cultural icons of all kinds — including the national anthem — were subject to deconstruction and criticism. -- New York Times
FOX News host Abby Huntsman's Freudian slip
 “This is history. We are living — regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators — what we are seeing right now, this is historic.” -- Fox and Friends
Robert De Niro got a standing O
He introduced Bruce Springsteen’s Tony performance this way.
“I just want to say one thing,” De Niro said. ” F— Trump. It’s no longer down with Trump. It’s f— Trump.” He got a standing ovation from the audience. -- Variety
Anthony Bourdain (1956-2018)
Witness what Henry [Kissinger] did in Cambodia – the fruits of his genius for statesmanship – and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milošević.” -- Slate
Muhammad Ali’s lawyer, Ron Tweel
 “We appreciate President Trump’s sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary. The US supreme court overturned the conviction of Muhammad Ali in a unanimous decision in 1971. There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.” --  Guardian

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

If Rahm intended to run for re-election on CPS progress, his campaign may be over before it's begun

Rahm Emanuel is beginning to look like a politician whose re-election campaign may be on the brink of collapse before it's even officially begun. His political achilles heel surprisingly turns out to be his autocratic control over Chicago Public Schools. Most everyone thought his greatest vulnerability would be his cover-up of the Laquan McDonald police killing.

What should have been his strong suit, running as an "education mayor," is now buried in a volcanic lava flow of school privatization, corruption, inequality, and dysfunction.

His new schools CEO, Janice Jackson, the fifth CEO in six years, has gone from looking like a source of hope for change, to being little more than Rahm's political functionary, in just a few months, even fronting for the mayor in commercials touting the progress at CPS, bankrolled by a nonprofit with close ties to MRE.

Instead of talking about alleged increases in standardized test scores and graduation rates, the mayor could spend the next eight months leading up to the election dodging questions about the mountain of scandals piling up at CPS.

These include hundreds of recently revealed cases of sexual assault and abuse of students over the past decade, cases that were ignored or covered up by CPS' law department and the mayor.

My alderman, Scott Waguespack (32nd), put it bluntly:
“This is about more than politics, it’s a core issue of our humanity. We’re calling for a City Council hearing on what the Tribune found. Every alderman should be demanding to have CPS there and the mayor’s people, too. He’s the boss. Emanuel is the mayor.”
Then there's new reports of mountains of filth and vermin in the schools since custodial services were privatized by Rahm and former CEO Forrest Claypool, who resigned in December after being charged with "ethics violations."

The Sun-Times reports that SodexoMAGIC and Aramark Corporation have received nearly $800 million in contracts to privatize school engineers and custodians and bust their union. Coincidentally, SodexoMAGIC made an extraordinary campaign contribution of $250,000 to Emanuel. And Aramark has charged CPS with over $20 million in cost overruns.

U of C Lab School fired Aramark over mouse droppings
Chicago Public Schools officials have now agreed to give $259 million in additional work to Aramark. They will be handed control of all facilities work at most of Chicago’s schools on July 1, according to its contract, which CPS officials tried to keep under wraps.

The irony of all this is that the University of Chicago Lab School, the expensive private school where elites like the mayor and former Ed Sec. Arne Duncan send their kids, just gave Aramark the boot after finding mice droppings in school food. Looks like mouse poop is only OK for other people's children.

There's more, so much more, including pay-to-play scandals involving Rahm's hand-picked board members like Deborah Quazzowho colluded with former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, now doing time in prison, to enrich herself at the expense of the schools.

If Rahm had any intentions of building his campaign on his running of CPS, it's looking more and more like his campaign is over before it's begun.

Monday, June 4, 2018


CPS student, Tamara Reed
“I dreaded going to school. I cried every night." -- Chicago Tribune
Lori Lightfoot
 “This tragedy happened because of incompetency at the highest levels. Who are we as a city if we accept this as just another scandal du jour at CPS?” -- Politico
This household-based survey suggests that the number of excess deaths related to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is more than 70 times the official estimate. -- New England Journal of Medicine
John Boehner
“There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump party." -- Politico
Rudy Giuliani
Trump could have shot Comey and still couldn't be indicted. “If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day. "Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.” -- Huffington
Natasha Korecki on cost of IL gov's race
"How many Hulu ads can you buy?" -- Illinois Playbook

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Tale of shrinking Chicago doesn't tell the whole story

"If you think you've been seeing a lot more bright young people living in Chicago lately, you have", reads the lead sentence in yesterday's story by Greg Hinz in Crain's.

Substitute the word WHITE for BRIGHT and you get the picture.

Stories about Chicago's shrinking population are misleading. Cook County did lose 20,093 residents in 2017, according to the Census Bureau. Still, it maintained its spot as the second-most-populous county in the nation while also experiencing the largest numerical decrease in population compared with the nation’s other top 10 counties. It adds up to less than a 1% population change.

But as Hinz reports,
Between 2010 and 2016, the city of Chicago gained more households in a key category—total income of more than $100,000 with the head of household under age 45—than any city in the country except for far larger New York, according to newly analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data.
And while younger, wealthier white people move in, it is primarily the out-migration of African-American families that's responsible for the overall population decline. 

The population is booming in the central area and rising on the North and Northwest sides, as well as along the South Side lakefront. But it continues to plummet in what Hinz describes as, "gang-plagued areas" on the South Side and, to a lesser degree, on the West Side.

Hinz' racist code words notwithstanding, there's been a decline of nearly 300,000 black people from the Chicago area in the past three to four decades along with the disappearance of well-paying union jobs, school closings and disinvestment in black communities.

Gradually replacing them are mainly members of high-end households, those with incomes of at least $200,000. That group grew even faster in Chicago than the over $100K/under 45 group, rising 65% to just over 75,000, according to the ACS data.

In short, black people have been pushed out of Chicago in mass, being gradually replaced by wealthier whites. You can call it gentrification or whitenization as you wish.

The fact that it is being done by plan, rather than by accident has been pointed out by many other urban sociologists and politicians. It's implications for politics and for public education in the city are astounding. Topics for another post.