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Lights, Camera, Arrested: Americans Thrown in Jail for Filming Police PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 05:53
Once again, the U.S. government is attempting to police the world when it should be policing its own law-enforcement agencies. We’ve got a warship cruising the Black Sea, fighter jets patrolling the Baltic skies, and a guided-missile destroyer searching the South China Sea for the downed Malaysia Airlines flight. All the while, back home in the U.S., our constitutional rights are going to hell in a handbasket, with homeowners being threatened with eviction for attempting to live off the grid, old women jailed for feeding crows, and citizens armed with little more than a cell phone arrested for daring to record police activities.

Robin Speronis now finds herself threatened with eviction from her own Florida home for daring to live off the grid, independent of city utilities such as water and electricity. City officials insist the Cape Coral resident’s chosen way of life violates the international property-maintenance code and city ordinances. Mary Musselman, also a Florida resident, is being held in jail without bond for “feeding wild animals.” The 81-year-old Musselman, on probation after being charged with feeding bears near her home, was arrested after officers discovered her leaving bread out for crows. Meanwhile, Brandy Berning of Florida was forced to spend a night in jail after recording her conversation with an officer who pulled her over for a routine traffic stop.

Welcome to the farce that passes for law and order in America today, where crime is low, militarized police activity is on the rise, and Americans are being penalized for living off the grid, feeding wild animals, holding Bible studies in their backyard, growing vegetables in their front yard, collecting rainwater, and filming the police.

 
Newspapers Cross the Line with Rutherford’s Personal Life PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 16 March 2014 05:26

Way back in 1992, I did a story about Dan Rutherford’s first run for the Illinois House of Representatives.

The House Democrats back then were quietly spreading rumors about Rutherford’s private life, hoping that his conservative, rural district would refuse to support someone who they said seemed to be gay. It was a classic “barber shop” play: Go where people hang out and start spreading a rumor. Spread that rumor in enough places and lots of folks will hear it and spread it themselves.

I wrote all those years ago that the Democrats were deluding themselves. Those voters weren’t just conservatives; they were dyed-in-the-wool Republicans. They’d take a Republican over a Democrat any day of the week, pretty much no matter what the grapevine was saying. All the Democrats were doing was embarrassing themselves, I wrote, and they ought to cut it out. Rutherford won, of course. The Democrats’ tactic failed.

I remembered that story when the Sun-Times and the Tribune started publishing “exposés” about how gubernatorial candidate and state Treasurer Rutherford had a habit of staying in the same hotel room or apartment with his male travel aide on some government and political trips. These stories served little purpose outside of trying to gin up that very same rumor mill about the candidate. The pieces were almost adolescently prurient in nature.

As with the Democrats 22 years ago, the newspapers never should’ve done that and should’ve instead risen above such nonsense.

 
Quinn Bought Peace, Not Votes, with Grant Program PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 09 March 2014 05:56

“There was no money allocated at all before the election of 2010,” Governor Pat Quinn told Chicago TV reporter Charles Thomas about allegations that the governor had spent millions in state anti-violence grants to boost his flagging election campaign. Quinn used this to defend himself against growing criticism about a devastating state audit of the anti-violence grants.

But what the governor said was not true.

According to Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland, Quinn’s administration signed contracts with 23 local groups on October 15, 2010 – about three weeks before Election Day. Each of the groups, hand-picked by Chicago aldermen, was promised about $300,000 for a total of about $7 million.

“That is allocating money,” Holland emphatically said last week about the awarding of those state contracts.

 
Warning: Watching C-SPAN Will Not Make You Fun at Parties PDF Print E-mail
Editorials
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 23:06

Try something novel and experiment with your news diet. Stop consuming CNN, MSNBC, Fox, ABC, NBC, or CBS news broadcasts – as well as the equally redundant counterparts in talk radio (Rush Limbaugh, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Glenn Beck, Alan Colmes, Sean Hannity) – all of which strategically perpetuate political divisiveness. Instead, turn your dial to C-SPAN (channel 96 on Mediacom cable), C-SPAN 2 (channel 87), C-SPAN3 (channel 88), or C-SPAN.org. Be warned, however, that watching C-SPAN with any regularity will expose the mainstream media’s woeful neglect of the relevant news of the day. Prepare to be shocked at the amount of information that goes under-reported, or not reported at all. As America’s watchdog, C-SPAN is the most compelling indictment of the mainstream media’s systematic failure.

Sure, a lot of the legislators’ speechifying during C-SPAN coverage is vacuous and mugging for the camera. While Congress feigns oversight, especially during congressional hearings, panel members and/or legislators leak need-to-know information.

At a minimum, names and organizations are given, allowing anyone to do an Internet search to glean insightful information about these so-called experts and their connections and associations. DC begins to shrink with our expanding knowledge of its inhabitants and their activities, providing for better perspective, understanding, and manageability of relevant data moving forward. Information is empowering, and hopefully for some provides inspiration to get engaged more meaningfully and effectively.

 
Quinn’s Handling of Anti-Violence Program Comes Back to Bite Him PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 02 March 2014 05:05

Some Illinois Legislative Black Caucus members are saying “I told you so” in the wake of a stunning state Auditor General investigation into misspending, waste, and possibly even fraud in an anti-violence initiative hastily created by Governor Pat Quinn.

Quinn created the program in August of 2010, a few days after meeting with ministers from Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood about rising violence. In early September, several Chicago aldermen gave their lists of preferred local groups that could administer the state program. Quinn’s administration sent requests for proposal only to those alderman-recommended groups.

By October, just weeks before the November 2010 election, the program had mushroomed to $50 million.

Despite initial claims that a specific formula was used to choose the targeted neighborhoods for violence-reduction programs, no actual documentation exists for how those decisions were made.

 
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