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Two Bits from the “Only in Illinois” File PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 23 September 2012 05:05

I have two poll results to tell you about today. One is about an alleged criminal; the other is about a proven liar.

Expelled state Representative Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) is leading his only opponent by 38 points and is close to the 50 percent he’ll need to reclaim his seat.

According to a poll of 556 likely voters conducted September 12 by We Ask America, Smith is crushing third-party candidate Lance Tyson 48-9. The poll has a margin of error of 4.15 percent.

Smith was expelled from the House in August, months after his federal indictment for allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe. He’s still on the ballot, though, and faces Lance Tyson, who was picked to run by the district’s Democratic ward committeemen.

Tyson loaned his campaign more than $26,000 last week after I told my subscribers about this poll. That’s most of what he’s raised so far.

Smile, the Government Is Watching: Next Generation Identification PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 13:22

You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement was scrutinized.” – George Orwell, 1984

Brace yourselves for the next wave in the surveillance state’s steady incursions into our lives. It’s coming at us with a lethal one-two punch.

To start with, there’s the government’s integration of facial-recognition software and other biometric markers into its identification data programs. The FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system is a $1-billion boondoggle that is aimed at dramatically expanding the government’s current ID database from a fingerprint system to a facial-recognition system. NGI will use a variety of biometric data, cross-referenced against the nation’s growing network of surveillance cameras, to not only track your every move but create a permanent “recognition” file on you within the government’s massive databases.

By the time it’s fully operational in 2014, NGI will serve as a vast data storehouse of “iris scans, photos searchable with face-recognition technology, palm prints, and measures of gait and voice recordings alongside records of fingerprints, scars, and tattoos.” One component of NGI, the Universal Face Workstation, already contains some 13-million facial images, gleaned from “criminal mug shot photos” taken during the booking process. However, with major search engines having “accumulated face-image databases that in their size dwarf the earth’s population,” it’s only a matter of time before the government taps into the trove of images stored on social-media and photo-sharing Web sites such as Facebook.

“Tamed” Chicago Teachers Union Shows Its Claws PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 16 September 2012 07:55

Beginning in late 2010, for several months teachers’ union lobbyists warned that teachers went out on strike a whole lot more back in the days when they were prohibited by law from striking than in the years since they had gained the statutory right to strike.

They warned that attacking teachers was a dangerous game.

They warned that the education reforms being pushed by groups such as Stand for Children risked creating a dangerous and possibly uncontrollable backlash.

In the case of Chicago, anyway, they were right on point. Despite a bold prediction last year by Stand for Children founder Jonah Edelman that “the unions cannot strike in Chicago,” the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) hit the picket lines last week.

Apple: Rotten to the Core? PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by Thomas L. Knapp   
Tuesday, 11 September 2012 15:05

As a company over the past few years, Apple has come a long way in the wrong direction – exactly the opposite direction from that indicated in the seminal, game-changing Macintosh “1984” commercial. As time goes on, Apple seems to rely less and less on its ability to create a groundbreaking product, and more and more on its ability to use the power of government to prevent others from doing likewise.

The verdict in last month’s patent lawsuit – in which Apple managed to have Korean electronics firm Samsung sanctioned for, among other things, violating an Apple patent on the shape of tablet computers – is just the tip of an iceberg extending well below the waterline of recent history.

How Will the Presidential Campaign Affect Legislative Races? PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 09 September 2012 05:17

On the eve of President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention last week, a statewide poll showed the native son was leading his Republican opponent by 17 percentage points here.

The poll of 1,382 likely Illinois voters was taken September 5 by We Ask America. It had Obama at 54 percent to Mitt Romney’s 37 percent. Another 3.33 percent said they’d be voting for an unnamed third-party candidate, and 6 percent were undecided.

That’s way below where Obama was four years ago, when he won Illinois with 62 percent of the vote.

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