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Chicago’s ‘independent’ cop watchdog not so independent in Laquan McDonald case

RT | January 1, 2016

A New Year’s Eve release of hundreds of internal emails by the City of Chicago reveals the Independent Police Review Authority not living up to its name as “independent.” In one email, the mayor’s office said the IPRA was giving a “statement we approved.”

After weeks of requests from multiple media outlets, thousands of pages of emails pertaining to the Laquan McDonald case have been released. The records dump took place on Thursday – New Year’s Eve – the start of a long holiday weekend when most people are more focused on celebrating. On October 20, 2014, 17-year-old McDonald was walking away from police while carrying a small knife when he was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke, who this week pled not guilty to murder charges following the release of a dashcam video last month.

The IPRA is billed as a civilian agency within the city government. It is responsible for assessing police shootings, but many emails reveal that the agency coordinated its handling of the case with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s staff.

On December 5, 2014, former IPRA chief Scott Ando emailed Janey Rountree, Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety, to provide a “list of cases pending review by either the [State Attorney’s Office] or the [US Attorney’s Office]” involving Chicago police misconduct. Ando also indicated which officers were being charged at the time.

“In this case it was a status update on cases that were being reviewed by prosecutors for possible criminal investigation. The mayor’s office obviously does not direct investigations, nor are any employees involved in those investigations,” Adam Collins, a spokesman for the mayor, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

In another email to Rountree, Collins expressed frustration with the IPRA for not taking his advice when responding to a question from the media regarding McDonald.

That May 26 email reads in part, “Against my recommendation, IPRA has already provided this response that was a little antagonistic. I’ve asked that they follow up with this as well to soften and reinforce their message,” while going on to provide a paragraph that played up IPRA’s investigatory powers and its independence.

In an earlier email dated April 10 to Stephen Patton Collins, a top legal adviser to Mayor Emanuel, Collins had expressed more satisfaction with the IPRA. In that one he reported that Jeremy Gorner of the Chicago Tribune had “just asked IPRA about the McDonald settlement,” alluding to the $5 million civil payout to the McDonald family.

“IPRA is giving him the statement we approved,” Collins wrote, going on to paste the two sentence statement.

On November 18, a week before the release of the dashcam footage showing McDonald’s killing, Collins emailed several representatives of police and law departments telling them, “we need one voice on this topic,” and then provided a “city statement” to provide talking points.

“Here’s a first crack. I don’t think we should stray far from where we have been all along on this,” the email reads, before providing a draft of an official explanation as to why the video has yet to be released.

The dump of internal emails has only fueled more criticism of Chicago’s government on social media and in the streets of Chicago, where protests calling for Emanuel’s resignation have not let up.

Dozens of protesters gathered at Emanuel’s home for the third evening in a row on Thursday, promising to show up for at least another 13 days to symbolize the 16 gunshots McDonald took from police.

Elsewhere on New Year’s Eve, protesters temporarily took over parts of City Hall and a Hyatt hotel lobby.

These demonstrations were anticipated in some of the released emails. In one dated November 20, a campaign donor of Emanuel, Graham Grady, writes to Stephen Patton, one of Emanuel’s top advisers, offering to finance what could be described as controlled opposition.

“Steve, I love Chicago and I’m concerned that the city may erupt when and if the video gets out,” Grady writes. “What if the Mayor and some community leaders such as Fr. Pfleger lead a peaceful demonstration with 100+ African-American youth wearing red mortar boards to symbolize education as the solution while also invoking the image of Laquan McDonald in a positive manner?”

“You can get red mortar board caps for $10 bucks a piece. I’ll pay for 100 of them. Please let me know if I may be of assistance in helping in any way,” the email ends.

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicago Cops Say Keeping Evidence of Misconduct Puts Cops in Danger – So They’re Destroying It

By William N. Grigg | The Free Thought Project | December 19, 2015

With protesters thronging the streets of Chicago demanding police accountability and clamoring for the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the city’s police union is frantically trying to destroy decades of records documenting police misconduct. As is always the case, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) sees “officer safety” as the highest priority – including protection from legal accountability.

“I protect all my members, and I will continue to do that,” Dean Angelo, president of the Chicago FOP, explained to CNN.

An injunction filed by the FOP insists that preserving those records violates Section 8.4 of its bargaining agreement with the City of Chicago. That provision specifies that all files of misconduct investigations and officer disciplinary histories “will be destroyed five (5) years after the date of the incident or the date upon which the violation is discovered, whichever is longer, except that not sustained files alleging criminal conduct or excessive force shall be retained for a period of seven (7) years after the date of the incident or the date upon which the violation is discovered, whichever is longer….”

Once that deadline passes, the episode of excessive force or other misconduct “cannot be used against the Officer in any future proceedings in any other forum” unless it deals with a matter subject to litigation during the five year period or “unless a pattern of sustained infractions exists.” This element of the bargaining agreement creates an incentive for the police department to delay, obstruct, and obfuscate investigations of misconduct and abuse complaints until the deadline expires – and to keep the process opaque to the public.

“Basically, they bargained away transparency and accountability,” points out Chicago University Law Professor Craig Futterman, who is fighting in court to prevent the destruction of the officer misconduct records. “In a world where an incident like [the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald] happens and the public statements are `Deny, deny, deny,’ and then close off and circle the wagons, and then a code of silence and an exoneration at the end of the day – in that system, you cannot create public trust,” Futterman explained to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

Futterman, who founded Chicago University’s Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project, has spent fifteen years trying to end the official impunity of police officers. Chicago, Futterman told the Sun-Times, “is the capital of the code of silence.”

Working with independent journalist Jamie Kalven, Futterman was able to exhume the video of the McDonald shooting and the autopsy report showing that he had been shot sixteen times – evidence that completely contradicted the official account that described the shooting as “self-defense.” Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald, has been charged with first-degree murder, an all but unprecedented development involving an on-duty police shooting in Chicago.

Through freedom of information requests, Futterman has also pried loose a small portion of the disciplinary files, which are available in an online database. The records Futterman seeks to preserve date back to 1967, and cover decades of corruption and abuse, including the now-notorious Jon Burge torture scandal and the unlawful detentions, interrogations, and abuse of citizens at the Homan Square “black site.” The FOP-negotiated contract requiring the destruction of records after five years went into effect on July 1, 2012 – and it is by no means clear that it applies retroactively to misconduct cases that occurred prior to that agreement. The FOP is essentially seeking to re-litigate the agreement for the purpose of obstructing an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the Chicago PD.

Although FOP President Angelo pouts that “I don’t understand why a 77-year-old retirees’ complaint in 1967 needs to be on a database,” the records his union seeks to destroy include disciplinary histories directly relevant to very recent incidents of excessive force.

According to CNN, “a search for Jason Van Dyke, the officer charged with the first-degree murder in the killing of Laquan McDonald, shows that he had 19 complaints before he fatally shot the teen, including 10 for use of force. The officer who shot and killed Cedrick Chatman has 30 complaints in the system, including 10 for use of force. None of the complaints, for either officer, resulted in disciplinary action. Van Dyke’s attorney says his client feared for his life in his encounter with McDonald. The Chatman shooting was ruled justified.”

Preserving the records, and making them publicly accessible, could help identify officers who pose potential threats to the public they supposedly serve. The FOP, in keeping with its long-established priorities, is more concerned about preserving blue privilege.

One measure of the depth and extent of the official privilege enjoyed by Chicago police officers is offered by the case of former CPD Command Jon Burge, who tortured and otherwise abused more than 100 Chicago residents over the course of three decades. Several innocent people were imprisoned on the basis of confessions extracted by Burge through torture – including the use of electric shocks, beatings, and suffocation with plastic bags. Last April, Mayor Emanuel approved a $5.5 million dollar reparations package for Burge’s victims. Even as city taxpayers absorbed the cost of Burge’s crimes, they continued to pay his pension: Despite being convicted in federal court for perjury and imprisoned in 2010, Burge continued to receive his $4,000-a-month pension.

Some of Burge’s erstwhile comrades in torture are still under investigation – and the documents necessary to continue that probe would be fed into a shredder if the FOP prevails in court. Those records most likely would also contain information about the Chicago PD’s off-the-records interrogation facility at Homan Square, a CIA-style “black site” where thousands of people were detained without cause and interrogated without constitutionally mandated access to an attorney, reports the Guardian of London.

An estimated 82 percent of the 7,000 people who were arrested and illegally held at Homan Square are black. Angel Perez, who was chained to a metal bar in a second-floor interrogation room at the facility in October 2012, alleges that he was sodomized with a metallic object by officers who taunted him with threats of prison rape if he didn’t cooperate. During a December 15 hearing before the Cook County Commission, several other detainees described being denied access to lawyers and being pressured to become police informants.

“There they interrogated me, asking me things that I had no idea about, for murder and things of that nature,” testified Kory Wright. “And I sat in that room, and they turned the temperature up and I was zip-tied to a bench.”

This Gitmo-style “rendition” site operated under Rahm Emanuel’s tenure, and it features very prominently in the accumulating demands for his resignation. With protests growing in intensity, the Mayor under political siege, and the police department desperately seeking to destroy evidence of long-festering corruption and misconduct, Chicago’s municipal government is beginning to look like an authoritarian dictatorship in the throes of a terminal crisis – Tehran circa 1978, perhaps, or Romania in December 1989.

December 19, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 3 Comments

Chicago’s Embattled Mayor

By Stephen Lendman | The People’s Voice | December 13, 2015

Career Democrat party member, former congressman, Obama White House chief of staff, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in May 2011 – reelected last April for another four-year term.

He’s notoriously hard-line, neoliberal and pro-Israeli to a fault. The late Chicago-based Citizens Committee to Clean up the Courts chairman Sherman Skolnick called him the “acting deputy chief for North America of Mossad.”

His father, Benjamin, was involved in smuggling weapons to the Jewish Irgun underground terrorist group (co-led by future Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin) in Palestine pre-1948.

Their elements were notoriously involved in bombing Jerusalem’s King David Hotel (July 1946 – slaughtering 92 Brits, Arabs and Jews, along with wounding 58 others), as well as the horrific Deir Yassin massacre (April 1948), randomly killing up to 120 defenseless Palestinians mercilessly, including women and children, dozens more in continued fighting – part of the future state of Israel’s genocidal ethnic cleansing master plan.

Emmanuel is a former civilian IDF volunteer during the 1991 Gulf War. It’s believed he holds dual citizenships – a dubious status for any US politician.

Throughout his political career, he’s been unabashedly pro-war, neoliberal and anti-populist. His abrasive style alienates him from anyone opposing his hard-line views.

Chicago notoriously earned a reputation as the police repression capital of America. A Gitmo type operation on the city’s west side is Exhibit A – operating off-the-books in a nondescript Homan Square warehouse, the domestic equivalent of a CIA or Pentagon black site.

Mostly Blacks are lawlessly arrested, detained, painfully shackled, interrogated, terrorized and beaten without access to counsel for a day or longer – to coerce confessions to offenses never committed or ones too minor to matter.

City police have virtual carte blanche authority to operate with impunity. Responsibility goes right to the top – Emanuel complicit with what goes on, likely much more illegally than now known, including cops killing Chicagoans unaccountably.

In late November, a seven-minute video surfaced, showing officer Jason Van Dyke extrajudicially executing 17-year-old Lanquan McDonald – guilty of being Black, threatening no one, innocent of any crime.

Van Dyke lawlessly shot him 16 times, twice in the back first, mostly as he lay dying. The incident occurred on October 20, 2014. Coverup and denial followed, police authorities calling cold-blooded murder justifiable self-defense.

Emanuel and other city officials lost a 13-month Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit battle to prevent release of the video. It’s damning.

A knife planted on McDonald’s body was exposed as a Big Lie. Video evidence showed him moving away from Van Dyke unarmed when gunned down from behind in cold blood.

Chicagoans are justifiably outraged. Thousands have been protesting outside City Hall for days, calling for Emanuel’s resignation, along with complicit city and police officials.

Police chief Garry McCarthy was sacked. So was chief of detectives Dean Andrews. Protesters want Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez removed for complicity in months of coverup.

Emanuel’s administration is a cesspool of corruption and other forms of lawlessness, perhaps the worst in city history – ill-serving the vast majority of Chicagoans.

On Thursday, state Rep. La Shawn Ford said “(p)eople are (being) hurt. People have died. People feel they are forgotten about in” a city serving powerful monied interests exclusively.

He introduced legislation to amend state law, authorizing a recall election, letting Chicagoans decide up or down if Emanuel should stay or go.

On Thursday, city medical students staged a silent “die-in” outside City Hall for 16 minutes – symbolizing 16 bullets Van Dyke fired into McDonald’s body.

They lay supine, at least one holding a sign saying: “DO NO HARM.” A much larger “die-in” protest occurred Thursday evening.

Some critics called for abolishing the so-called Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) – notorious for covering up cop killings. A criminal code of silence prevails.

Almost never are officers responsible for killing civilians held accountable. Even the right-wing Chicago Tribune said “it’s common knowledge that Chicago’s system of investigating shootings by officers is flawed…at so many levels…by design…”

Critics want a new independent, citizen-controlled police audit authority established, empowered to sue the city administration and police so killer cops and their superiors up the chain of command to the top can be held accountable for crimes too serious to ignore.

An Illinois Better Government Association study, covering the period 2010 – 2014, called Chicago tops among America’s largest cities in fatal shootings by police, most often targeting defenseless Black males.

Rarely do incidents make headlines. Video evidence showing officer Van Dyke murdering McDonald in cold blood is a rare exception – whether enough to convict him another issue altogether.

Almost never are cops prosecuted imprisoned, especially in cases involving extrajudicial assassinations. Emanuel’s hollow apology for McDonald’s murder and duplicitous promised “complete and total reform of the system” fooled no one.

Protesters outside City Hall chanted “no more killer cops” and “Rahm must go.” Chance for real reform by his or any other city administration is virtually zero.

Last of Chicago’s saloon keeper aldermen, Paddy Bowler, was right, saying: “Chicago ain’t ready for reform” – for sure not with Emanuel as mayor.

-###-

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III”.

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

December 13, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Chicago Police Adopt Israeli Tactics

By Todd E. Pierce | Consortium News | December 11, 2015

After more than a year of stonewalling and what some might call obstructing justice, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued an apology for the horrific execution of Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason van Dyke. Laquan McDonald was the black 17-year-old who was shot 16 times by the police officer on Oct. 20, 2014. The video showing the shooting was only released by Chicago officials when they were ordered to do so by a judge in late November 2015.

But apology or not, the underlying substantive issue is that the summary execution of McDonald was the sort of atrocity that one would expect to see in what the U.S. once called “police states.” In fact, one can imagine a death squad execution in El Salvador in the 1980s looking very similar on video to McDonald’s slaying.

“Police state” is a term which has fallen into disuse since 9/11 with the adoption of so many similar practices by the so-called “democracies” in their domestic policies. The term generally was applied to Fascist or Communist governments and described a country where the police and the military exercised martial law over citizens or military occupation powers that uses military force to control a civilian population.

Sometimes these arbitrary powers were enforced by summary executions, depending on how much the authorities could get away with in their “extreme measures.” This was the practice in countries such as Nazi Germany; Pinochet’s Chile; El Salvador and Guatemala during the Cold War; to a lesser degree, apartheid South Africa; and military occupied territories such as Tibet, Israeli-occupied Palestine, and Eastern Europe under the Soviet Union.

But Chicago isn’t under martial law or military occupation, is it? Nor is it an apartheid state, with apartheid enforced by domestic martial law and military force, is it? To a normal civilian-oriented mind, one would think it is not under military occupation or martial law.

Seeking Israeli Training

Yet, under Mayor Emanuel, a former Israeli Defense Force (IDF) volunteer, and Garry McCarthy, the now former Chicago Police Superintendent (Emanuel fired him Dec. 1), it seems that parts of Chicago were treated as if they were occupied territory under police or paramilitary rule.

That is, under arbitrary martial law, just like the repressive martial law regime of the IDF in the occupied territory of Palestine. Martial law or occupation law is arbitrary as it is not law, but is the manifestation of the occupying military commander’s “will.”

How could this be in the civilian government of Chicago? In part, because Police Superintendent McCarthy and the City of Chicago sought out and received training by Israeli occupation forces in “counter-terrorism” policing, that is, “pacifying” a population through aggressive intelligence gathering and the application of military force. Counter-insurgency is the term used for when this doctrine is applied by military forces.

This collaboration between Israel and U.S. police agencies, including Chicago, emerged after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. Since then, by one count, at least 300 high-ranking sheriffs and police from cities both large and small have received counter-terrorism training in Israel. For instance, in January 2003, 33 senior U.S. law enforcement officials from Chicago and other major American cities flew to Israel for sessions on “Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror.”

In 2009, Israel’s Midwest Consulate General co-sponsored “an intensive seminar” in Israel for senior Chicago police officials “on intelligence-led policing techniques.” Chicago Police Superintendent McCarthy was a key participant in this Israeli seminar. The Israel Trade & Economic Office of the U.S. Midwest Region invited police officials to “Join Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy & the Midwest Delegation to the Israel Homeland Security International Conference 2012, and be a part of an international gathering of public security officials and private technology companies.”

In 2012, these “security officials” got to “experience demonstrations of breakthrough technologies from Israel” and “tour security infrastructure at the Old City of Jerusalem,” a city under Israeli military occupation. It wasn’t made clear if the “demonstrations of breakthrough technologies from Israel” would extend to live subjects in occupied Jerusalem.

In November 2014, Chicago’s McCarthy “led a delegation of senior law enforcement officials to Israel” as part of a training mission “to engage directly with their Israeli counterparts to discuss best practices, unique strategies, and new technologies in a range of law enforcement areas,” according to the same Israeli trade office.

“The visit also aimed to build a foundation for enhanced collaboration between the Chicago Police Department and the State of Israel.” Included in the delegation was the Executive Director of Cook County’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office, the Chief of Staff of the Chicago Police Department, as well as police officials from other large American cities. [The itinerary of the delegation is explained more here.]

In other words, over more than a decade, senior Chicago police officials have been studying Israel’s militarized police practices for how best to maintain a repressive military control over an occupied population living under permanent, strict martial, or occupation, law.

An Occupation Mentality

Why this matters is that Israel doesn’t have a domestic civilian policing model but instead applies a counter-insurgency policing model intended for a population under military occupation, or otherwise considered as hostile under martial law.

This policing model is being sold by Israel’s government to gullible or authoritarian-leaning U.S. police officials as a legitimate domestic policing model when, in fact, it is a military model of the sort used by militaristic, authoritarian regimes, customarily referred to as “fascist.”

What many people fail to understand about Israel and the IDF is that since 1967, now going on half a century, the Palestinian civilians who “fell into [Israeli] hands” when the IDF conquered Palestinian territory have been kept in strict and harsh military captivity of the sort the U.S. condemned when the former Soviet Union did the same to its captive peoples.

This pattern continues even though the Israeli occupation has been repeatedly declared illegal under international law. Chicago police being trained by Israeli security police and occupation forces is analogous to, and merits the same condemnation as, a U.S. city sending its officials to receive “police” training from Soviet security police who maintained military occupation of Eastern Europe in the 1950s-1960s. Or to North Korea today.

But in this case, there is also the issue of colluding with Israeli occupation authorities in an illegal occupation. These U.S. police officials are put in what should be the awkward position of aiding and abetting illegality.

Of course, one killing by a Chicago police officer, though similar to some of the killings by the IDF of civilians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and far below the scale of killing of the periodic “mowing the grass” that Israel undertakes in Gaza every couple of years, does not mean that illegal military occupation tactics are being practiced in Chicago. Or does it?

Secret Interrogations

In isolation, no. But while Chicago police have always had the reputation of being simply a rival gang to the many other gangs in Chicago’s history, under Rahm Emanuel’s regime, it has come to resemble an occupying military force down to a “secret interrogation facility,” as reported by Britain’s Guardian newspaper in August 2015: “At least 3,500 Americans have been detained inside a Chicago police warehouse described by some of its arrestees as a secretive interrogation facility, newly uncovered records reveal.”

The Chicago Police Department maintained that the warehouse was not a secret facility “so much as an undercover police base operating in plain sight.” But, as the Guardian reported, people were shackled and held for hours or even days without access to attorneys in violation of the U.S. Constitution, but the sort of detention permitted of Palestinians under IDF occupation.

A Chicago civil rights activist said he was abducted by masked officers, shackled and held on false charges, “with no food, no water, no access to the outside world” at the behest of “covert operations.” In other words, he simply disappeared.

Another former “detainee,” Charles Jones, was told in the interrogation room that he would be allowed a phone call once booked and processed. But he said his requests for legal counsel were repeatedly denied during the six-to-eight hours he was held at Homan Square.

“The only reason you’re brought to Homan and Fillmore is to extract information,” Jones said, referring to the cross streets of the facility.

“The police probably feel they need those covert operations because that’s the only way to get the intel they need instead of doing the good work – the hard work. . . . It’s easy to just go grab someone, throw ’em somewhere – no food, no water, no access to the outside world, intimidating and threatening ’em,” he said.

That is similar to intelligence-driven techniques used in counter-insurgency warfare. Several ex-Homan Square detainees told the Guardian that their detentions “were out of proportion to their alleged crimes, if any – but calibrated to pressure them into becoming informants.” This, in fact, is just like what U.S. forces did in occupied Iraq and Israeli forces do in Occupied Palestine. Indeed, that is what occupying armies do.

According to the Guardian, while the police data is incomplete, the disclosures “suggest an intensification of Homan Square usage under Emanuel. Approximately 70% of the Homan Square detentions the Chicago police acknowledge thus far have occurred under the current mayor.”

At the time of the Guardian article, then-Police Superintendent McCarthy was attending a meeting on violence and policing in Washington and was unavailable for comment.

After the Guardian’s initial Homan Square exposé in February 2015, protests were held and local politicians called for investigations. But Rahm Emanuel was not among the concerned officials even though he was running for re-election in part on a platform of police reform. Instead, Emanuel took ownership of the unorthodox operation and “defended his police,” claiming, “we follow all the rules” at Homan Square and called the reporting “not true.”

Israeli Comparisons

To Mayor Emanuel and former Superintendent McCarthy, it seemed, affluent sections of Chicago’s North Side are to Chicago’s South and West sides what Tel Aviv is to Occupied Palestine’s Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Emanuel and McCarthy seemed to have imported the Israeli military occupation ideology that just as Palestine must be kept “under the heavy heel of Israeli military occupation,” so must Chicago’s poorer areas be kept under the heavy heel of the Chicago police, acting as a paramilitary occupation force.

That Emanuel bears responsibility for all that has taken place in regard to the McDonald execution is shown in his role in making the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), the civilian agency that investigates allegations of excessive force by police, irrelevant.

The Chicago Tribune published an examination that found that of the 409 police shootings since IPRA was created in September 2007, only two allegations against police officers were deemed credible. (Emanuel has been mayor since May 16, 2011.)

This week, in announcing that former federal prosecutor Sharon Fairley would take charge of the IPRA after the resignation of her predecessor, neither Emanuel nor Fairley addressed how IPRA would improve “its woeful track record in investigating shootings,” as the Chicago Tribune described it.

Instead, Fairley stated: “the mission of IPRA will remain the same: thorough, fair and timely investigation of police officer misconduct.” Absurdly, that seems to be a statement asserting that nothing would change, allowing the police to continue operating with a sense of entitlement as they run roughshod over a population they are supposed to protect.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago police officials under Emanuel stopped participating in meetings with the IPRA to discuss officer shootings, “a change that came with the knowledge of the mayor’s office.” Will that remain the same?

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was asked whether the federal investigation would extend to the mayor’s and state’s attorney’s offices. Notwithstanding Emanuel’s alleged role in shutting down police participation with the IPRA, Lynch said the investigation would focus on the Police Department’s practices.

That’s not all that remarkable when one considers that the U.S. Justice Department and President Barack Obama declared they would take no action on the issue of “war on terror” torture by U.S. government officials involving the CIA and the military. As President Obama’s former Chief of Staff, Emanuel seems to fall under a similar protective shield of impunity.

What is remarkable is that the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus “called for Lynch to expand her probe to include IPRA and the state’s attorney’s office, but it left out the mayor’s office.” That is remarkable because Mayor Emanuel appears to be the person who gave impunity for civil rights violations to Chicago police officers to the degree that they felt legally immune in summarily executing Laquan McDonald.

A Family History

If Mayor Rahm Emanuel seems to have brought a Fascist sensibility to Chicago and the police force, it can be said it’s part of a family tradition. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Emanuel “is the son of a Jerusalem-born pediatrician who was a member of the Irgun (Etzel or IZL), a militant Zionist group that operated in Palestine between 1931 and 1948.”

In addition, according to Emanuel’s father, Benjamin, his son “is the namesake of Rahamim, a Lehi combatant who was killed” and was obviously a close friend or seen as a martyr. Both Lehi and the Irgun were terrorist organizations, not only in the eyes of the British and the Arabs in pre-Israel Palestine, but in the eyes of their fellow Jews, whom they also attacked.

Furthermore, the clandestine terror squads considered themselves Fascist organizations, not only in their tactics but in their ideology which had aligned them with Mussolini’s Italy and other inter-war European Fascist parties.

In The Road to Power: Herut Party in Israel, author Yonathan Shapiro describes Irgun as the military wing of the Betar Movement. The two groups jointly published a paper, Die Tat. Shapiro writes: “Betar activists were swept up by the radical-right nationalism then at its height in Europe.”

This was shown in the Betar press in Poland, where the Yiddish-language Betar-Irgun paper Die Tat was sympathetic to radical-right parties. The paper ran a series of articles in late 1938 and early 1939 entitled “The Third Europe,” which Shapiro says “was the overall name given to radical-right movements such as the Nazis in Germany, the Fascists in Italy, the Iron Guard in Romania, and the Franco camp in Spain, and so forth.”

One article in the series explained that Hitler’s attempted putsch in 1923 derailed “the German leadership from its track of havlagah – the same term that Zionist leaders used for their policy of moderation in their dealings with the Arab nationalist movement in Palestine.” The implication was that the Jewish radical right had to do something similar to break the Jewish leaders from moderation in Palestine.

Another Die Tat writer who was based in Tel Aviv argued that anti-Semitism wasn’t “an integral part of Naziism, which in the final analysis was a version of Fascism,” of which he approved. In an editorial entitled, “Hitler and Judaism,” a few weeks later, “the paper wrote that it did not reject Hitler’s views, not even on the race issue. It only objected to the campaign that ‘in practice’ he was waging against the Jewish people, and its desire to establish an independent state.”

Lessons of Terror

In 1942, Menachem Begin arrived in “Eretz-Israel,” as Irgun members referred to Palestine. He was “offered command of the Irgun and leadership of Betar.” Begin refused leadership of Betar on the grounds that Ze’ev Jabotinsky, though dead, remained head of Betar, and Jabotinsky as the irreplaceable leader of Betar “came to symbolize the idea of the absolute leader.”

Begin, the future founder of Likud and prime minister of Israel, was his “pupil and successor,” who shared the view of other Fascist parties that “believed in the principle of the omnipotent leader.” These were the Fascist ideas that Rahm Emanuel’s father imbibed and celebrated in his youth, and shared with his Lehi friend, Rahamim.

The distinction between the Irgun and Lehi was that the Irgun later called a truce with the British during World War II when it finally became apparent to them that Hitler represented a threat to Zionist interests, whereas Lehi saw Great Britain as much or more of the enemy than Hitler. Lehi continued terrorist attacks against Britain throughout the war.

Whatever the elder Emanuel’s political thoughts are today, he seemed to retain his youthful Fascist-style contempt for Arabs as he commented when Rahm was named President Obama’s Chief of Staff: “Obviously he’ll influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House,” as reported in the New York Times.

None of this is to suggest that Rahm Emanuel shares any of the Fascist ideas of his father’s youthful associates in the Irgun or of his father in his youth. But if Rahm Emanuel is going to preside over secret interrogation and detention centers as the Mayor of Chicago and is responsible for a police force learning and using Fascist-style police tactics, people may begin to notice a resemblance to the youthful Benjamin Emanuel and the ideology of his Irgun associates.

Emanuel’s Style

True to form in some people’s eyes – after the court-ordered release of the video revealing the murder of Laquan McDonald – Mayor Emanuel didn’t actually take responsibility for the cover-up except to acknowledge the obvious with his statement that it “happened on my watch.” He didn’t explain how the murder was swept under the carpet for over a year so, as some allege, it wouldn’t interfere with his reelection.

NPR  reported, “Emanuel acknowledged there is an underlying ‘trust problem’ that Chicago needs to address,” and “the city now needs to begin the process of healing and restoring trust and confidence in the police department.”

Furthermore, “Emanuel says supervision and leadership in the police department failed, and he promises to address ‘the thin blue line’ and ‘the code of silence,’ in which police officers ignore, deny and cover up the bad actions of a colleague.”

But with Israel making its counter-insurgency police training a major export to U.S. police forces, with American cities such as Chicago eager to adopt that training, it is little wonder that minorities increasingly feel they are under repressive military-style occupation in their communities. They have good reason to feel that way since the police are getting training from a country that is expert at keeping a conquered people under an open-ended military occupation.


Todd E. Pierce retired as a Major in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in November 2012. His most recent assignment was defense counsel in the Office of Chief Defense Counsel, Office of Military Commissions. In the course of that assignment, he researched and reviewed the complete records of military commissions held during the Civil War and stored at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. 

December 11, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Fires Police Chief Even Though Mayor Was Part of Police Shooting Coverup

Garry-McCarthy-Rahm-Emanuel

By Carlos Miller | PNAC | December 1, 2015

In an obvious effort to detach himself from the growing scandal in the Windy City, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired the police department’s top cop today, saying it was the first step in restoring confidence in the Chicago Police Department.

But the coverup of the Laquan McDonald police shooting death extends way above Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, up through the state attorney’s office and to the mayor’s office.

To truly restore confidence, both Emanuel and Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez need to lose their jobs.

And it needs to be done now.

After all, it is pretty obvious they tried their best to coverup the shooting to protect their political positions as was pointed out by university professor Bernard E. Harcourt in a New York Times opinion piece:

The Cook County prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, must have had probable cause to indict Officer Van Dyke for the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting death of Mr. McDonald the moment she viewed the police dash-cam video, after her office received it two weeks later. That video, in her own words, was “everything that it has been described to be by the news accounts. It is graphic. It is violent. It is chilling.”

Ms. Alvarez, and other city leaders, surely knew they would have to indict Mr. Van Dyke for murder as soon as the public saw that footage. “I have absolutely no doubt,” Ms. Alvarez finally said last week, “that this video will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans.”

But the timing, in late 2014, was not good.

Then up for re-election, the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, was looking ahead to a contested election on Feb. 24, 2015, which would ultimately result in a runoff election on April 7. In Ferguson, Mo., a grand jury was hearing testimony on the police shooting of Michael Brown. The video of Eric Garner being choked to death during an arrest in New York had gone viral. The Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum across the country.

The video of a police shooting like this in Chicago could have buried Mr. Emanuel’s chances for re-election. And it would likely have ended the career of the police superintendent, Garry F. McCarthy.

And so the wheels of justice virtually ground to a halt. Mayor Emanuel refused to make the dash-cam video public, going to court to prevent its release. The city argued that releasing the video would taint the investigation of the case, but even the attorney general of Illinois urged the city to make it available.

In other words it was Emanuel who had the final say in whether or not the video was released.

With the help of Alvarez, of course, who recently announced her reelection campaign, and who has spent the past two terms protecting dirty cops.

Firing McCarthy is the first step, who admitted today that the initial information about the shooting of McDonald was inaccurate.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy admitted Tuesday on NBC Chicago that the initial press release sent out after 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was fatally shot 16 times by an officer last year was wrong.

“The initial press release was mistaken, no two ways about it,” he said. “I guess that’s my fault.”

Police initially said an officer shot McDonald in the chest when the teen refused to drop a knife and continued to walk toward officers. Authorities also said the boy lunged at officers with the knife.

But dash-cam video of the shooting shows an officer shooting the teen several times as he appeared to walk away from police.

McCarthy added that he didn’t see dash-cam video of the shooting until the day after the press release went out.

So not only do we have a mayor who ordered the video not be released and a prosecutor who waited a year to file charges – and also found no wrongdoing in how police deleted surveillance video from a local Burger King – we have a police chief who claims he did not even see the video before describing what took place on the video.

And for that, he was making more than $400,000-a-year.

McCarthy is a liar, of course, as is Emanuel and Alvarez. They all saw the video and chose not to release it. Had it shown exactly what they described, they would have wasted no time in releasing the video.

Also part of the coverup is the president of the police union, who told the media that McDonald “lunged” at Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. The Fraternal Order of Police also paid the $1.5 million to bond Van Dyke out of jail and is also handling his attorney fees as he defends himself from the first-degree murder charge.

But we expect that from police unions which have proven to defend police officers at all costs. We even expect that from police chiefs.

But we should expect more from our prosecutors and mayors.

December 2, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Chicago Tribune Sues Mayor Emanuel for Refusing to Release Private Emails About Corrupt Red Light System

By Joshua Brown | PINAC | October 30, 2015

The Chicago Tribune is suing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for not complying with public records requests after the mayor refused to release communications about city business conducted through private emails and text messages.

The lawsuit states that the mayor uses private phones and private emails to conduct city business as a way to avoid the public release of his city related correspondences and activity.

The Chicago Tribune seeks to receive emails and electronic communications pertaining to a controversial red light camera system in Chicago, a system mired in controversy and corruption.

The yellow lights were timed shorter with an intended outcome to catch more people running red lights, resulting in more traffic ticket money for the city, according to an investigative report by the Tribune last year.

More than $500 million was generated from the Chicago red light traffic system, the largest in the nation, according to the lawsuit filed last month, which can be read here.

City officials boasted the red light system would make intersections and driving safer, but an uptick in injury-related crashes occurred as a result of the red light system because of the shorter duration of yellow lights.

Because of these crashes, 50 of the cameras were removed at 25 intersections within the city.

Redflex Traffic Systems was the vendor that created the system along with former Chicago city official John Bills. It was quickly discovered that Bills and Redflex CEO David Kidwell were involved in a $2 million bribery scheme to implement the red light system in Chicago.

Kidwell and Bills were both relieved of their duties.

It is common for officials to use personal email to skirt Freedom of Information Act requests.

Recently, Phyllis Wise who is the Chancellor of The University of Illinois used personal emails to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests.

The Chancellor has since resigned from the university. Additionally, it was brought to light that Hillary Clinton used private emails to conduct official government business too.

This is the second time the Chicago Tribune has sued Mayor Emanuel; in June 2015 suit was filed regarding the non-disclosure of emails of a multi-million-dollar no-bid Chicago Public Schools contract. That suit is pending.

According to Chicago Tribune Editor Gerould Kern:

“We are seeking the release of public records on matters of great interest to citizens, but the city refuses to divulge them. Regrettably, the city’s denial is part of a pattern of resistance to releasing public documents covered by the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. We are compelled, therefore, to go to court for the second time in three months to force the city’s compliance.”

But Mayor Emanuel said he has done nothing wrong:

“We always comply and work through all of the Freedom of Information (requests) in the most responsive way possible. I have a practice that my political and personal stays on my private email, and city business is on the government, and that’s the way I operate.”

Written communications by government officials relating to city or government business are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, including electronic communications.

October 30, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

The Doctrine of ‘Superior People’: The Bond between Israel and World Zionism

By James Petras :: 09.04.2015

Introduction

The single greatest feat of Israel and its overseas missions has not been material success, or the military conquest of millions of unarmed Palestinians, it has been ideological – the widespread acceptance in the US of a doctrine that claims ‘Jews are a superior people.’

Apart from small extremist rightwing sects who exhibit visceral anti-Semitism and denigrate everything Jewish, there are very few academics and politicians willing to question this supremacist doctrine. On the contrary, there is an incurable tendency to advance oneself by accepting and embellishing on it.

For example, in August 2015, US Vice-President Joseph Biden attributed ‘special genius’ to Jews, slavish flattery that embarrassed even New York’s liberal Jewish intellectuals.

Israel’s dominant role in formulating US Middle East policy is largely a product of its success at recruiting, socializing and motivating overseas Jews to act as an organized force to intervene in US politics and push Israel’s agenda.

What motivates American Jews, who have been raised and educated in the US to serve Israel? After all, these are individuals who have prospered, achieved high status and occupy the highest positions of prestige and responsibility. Why would they parrot the policies of Israel and follow the dictates of Israeli leaders (a foreign regime), serving its violent colonial, racist agenda?

What binds a majority of highly educated and privileged Jews to the most rabidly rightwing Israeli regime in history – a relationship they actually celebrate?

What turns comfortable, prosperous American Jews into vindictive bullies, willing and able to blackmail, threaten and punish any dissident voices among their Gentile and Jewish compatriots who have dared to criticize Israel?

What prevents many intelligent, liberal and progressive Jews from openly questioning Israel’s agenda, and especially confronting the role of Zionist zealots who serve as Tel Aviv’s fifth column against the interest of the United States?

There are numerous historical and personal factors that can and should be taken into account to understand this phenomenon.

In this essay I am going to focus on one – the ideology that ‘Jews are a superior people’. The notion that Jews, either through some genetic, biologic, cultural, historical, familial and/or upbringing, have special qualities allowing them to achieve at a uniquely higher level than the ‘inferior’ non-Jews.

We will proceed by sketching the main outline of the Jewish supremacist ideology and then advance our critique.

We will conclude by evaluating the negative consequences of this ideology and propose a democratic alternative.

Jewish Supremacism

Exponents of Jewish Supremacism (JS) frequently cite the prestigious awards, worldly successes and high honors, which, they emphasize, have been disproportionately achieved by Jews.

The argument goes: While Jews represent less than 0.2% of the world population, they have produced 24% of the US Nobel prize winners; over 30% of Ivy League professors and students; and the majority of major US film, stage and TV producers.

They cite the ‘disproportionate number’ of scientists, leading doctors, lawyers and billionaires.

They cite past geniuses like, Einstein, Freud and Marx .

They point to the founders of the world’s great monotheistic religions – Moses and Abraham.

They lay claim to a unique learning tradition embedded in centuries of Talmudic scholarship.

Jewish supremacists never miss a chance to cite the ‘Jewish background’ of any highly accomplished contemporary public figures in the entertainment, publication, financial fields or any other sectors of life in the US.

Disproportionately great accomplishments by a disproportionate minority has become the mantra for heralding a self-styled ‘meritocratic elite’…. and for justifying its disproportionate wealth, power and privileges – and influence…

Challenging the Myths of Jewish Supremacists

There are serious problems regarding the claims of the Jewish Supremacists.

For centuries Jewish ‘wisdom’ was confined to textual exegesis of religious dogma – texts full of superstition and social control, as well as blind intolerance, and which produced neither reasoned arguments nor contributed to scientific and human advancement.

Jewish scholarship of note occurred among thinkers like Spinoza who revolted against the Jewish ghetto gatekeepers and rejected Jewish dogma.

Notable scientists emerged in the context of working and studying with non-Jews in non-Jewish institutions – the universities and centers of learning in the West. The majority of world-renowned Jewish scholars integrated and contributed to predominantly non-Jewish (Moslem and Christian) and secular institutions of higher learning.

Historically, highly talented individuals of Jewish origin succeeded by renouncing the constraints of everyday Jewish life, rabbinical overseers and Jewish institutions. Most contemporary prestigious scientists, including the frequently cited Nobel Prize winners, have little or nothing to do with Judaism! And their contributions have everything to do with the highly secular, integrated culture in which they prospered intellectually – despite expressions of crude anti-Semitism in the larger society.

Secondly, Jewish Supremacists persist in claiming ‘racial credit’ for the achievements of individuals who have publicly renounced, denounced and distanced themselves from Judaism and have dismissed any notion of Israel as their spiritual homeland. Their universal prestige has prevented them from being labeled, apostate or ‘self-hating.’ Albert Einstein, often cited by the Supremacists as the supreme example of ‘Jewish genius,’ denounced Israel’s war crimes and showed disdain for any tribal identity. In their era, Marx and Trotsky, like the vast majority of emancipated European Jews, given the chance, became engaged in universalistic organizations, attacking the entire notion that Jews were a ‘special people’ chosen by divine authority (or by the latter-day Zionists).

Thirdly, Supremacists compile a very selective list of virtuous Jews, while omitting areas of life and activity where Jews have disproportionately played a negative and destructive role.

After all is it Jewish ‘genius’ that makes Israel a leading exporter of arms, high tech intrusive spy systems and that sends military and paramilitary advisers and torturers to work with death squad regimes in Africa and Latin America?

Among the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are three Israeli Prime Ministers who waged wars of ethnic cleansing against millions of Palestinians and expanded racist ‘Jews only’ settlements throughout the occupied Palestinian territories. These include Menachem Begin (notorious career bomber and terrorist), Yitzhak Rabin (a militarist who was assassinated by an even more racist Jewish terrorist) and Shimon Peres. Among Jewish American Nobel ‘Peaceniks’ is Henry Kissinger who oversaw the brutal and illegal US war in Indo-China causing 4 million Vietnamese deaths; who wrote the ‘template for regime change’ by overthrowing the democratically elected government of Chilean President Allende and condemned Chile to decades of police state terror; and who supported Indonesia’s destruction of East Timor!

In other words, these Nobel recipients, who Supremacists cite as ‘examples of Jewish Supremacy,’ have sown terror and injustice on countless captive peoples and nations – giving the Nobel Peace Prize a dubious distinction.

Among the greatest billion dollar swindlers in recent US history, we d find a disproportionate percentage of American Jews – curiously not mentioned by the Supremacists in their usual litany: Bernard Madoff pillaged over $50 billion from his clients, Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken and Marc Rich are well-known names adding the distinction of ‘Jewish genius’ to a list of financial mega-felons.

Among the less respectable notables whose material successes have been tarnished by personal weaknesses – we have the billionaire and pedophile pimp, Jeffry Epstein; IMF President, rapist and debaucher Dominic Strauss Kahn, entrepreneur and ‘nudist’ Dov Charney, New York Governor and ‘repeat customer’ Elliot Spitzer, Congressman and exhibitionist Anthony Weiner and the fun-loving sports impresario who brought down FIFA, the piratical Chuck Blazer. Curiously, none of these extraordinarily successful notables have been cited as examples of Jewish Supremacy.

As we contemplate the millions of war refugees driven from the Near East and North Africa, we should credit the role of US neo-liberal and neo-conservative ideologues and policymakers –a disproportionate percentage of whom are Jews. Millions of Chilean workers suffered as Milton Friedman and his Chicago Boys ‘advised’ Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet on dismantling the welfare state (even if it required the murder of trade unionists!). Ayn Rand (Alyssa Rosenbaum) and her fanatical free market epigones have savaged all progressive social legislation and turned the most retrograde forms of selfishness into a religion of ‘superiority’!

The disastrous US war against Iraq was largely organized, promoted and justified by a disproportionate percentage of US Jews (Zionists), including leading policymakers in the Bush and Obama administration – Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams, Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, David Frum, Shulsky, Levey, Cohen, Rahm Emanuel etc… They continue to push for war against Iran and should be seen as the ‘godfathers’ of the tragedies of Iraq, Syria and Libya where millions have fled.

The biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression was largely due to the financial policies of Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. The trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street by Ben Shalom Bernacke and Stanley Fischer, while Janet Yellen ignored the plight of millions of Americans who lost their homes because of mortgage foreclosures. In sum, Jewish Supremacists should proudly take credit for the American Jews who have been disproportionately responsible for the largest economic and foreign policy failures of the contemporary period – including the horrific suffering these have entailed!

Back in the more normal world of crime, Russian-Jewish mobsters dominate or share supremacy with the Italian Mafia in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami and scores of cities in between. They display their unique genius at extortion and murder – knowing they can always find safe haven in the ‘Promised Land’!

On the cultural front, the finest Jewish writers, artists, musicians, scientists have emerged outside of Israel. A few may have immigrated to the Jewish state, but many other intellectuals and artists of note have chosen to leave Israel, repelled by the racist, intolerant and repressive apartheid state and society promoted by Jewish Supremacists.

Conclusion

The record provides no historical basis for the claims of Jewish Supremacists:

What has been cited as the disproportionate ‘Jewish genius’ turns out to be a two-edged sword – demonstrating the best and the worst.

Claiming a monopoly on high academic achievement must be expanded to owning up to the Jewish authors of the worst financial and foreign policy disasters – they too are ‘high achievers’.

Donations from financial billionaires, all ‘geniuses,’ have financed the war crimes of the Israeli state and made possible the expansion of violent Jewish settlers throughout occupied Palestine – spreading misery and displacement for millions.

In fairness, the most notorious Jewish swindler in contemporary America was even-handed: ‘Bernie’ Madoff swindled Jews and Goys, Hollywood moguls and New York philanthropists – he wasn’t picky about who he fleeced.

The latest fashion among Jewish Supremacist ‘geneticists’ is to extol the discovery of uniquely special ‘genes’ predisposing Jews to experience the ‘holocaust’ and even inherit the experience of suffering from long dead ancestors. Such ‘scientists’ should be careful. As Jazz artist and essayist, Gilad Altzmon wryly notes, ‘They will put the anti-Semites out of business’.

Ultimately, Jews, who have assimilated into the greater society or not, who inter-marry and who do not, are all products of the social system in which they live and (like everyone else) they are the makers of the roles they decide to play within it.

In the past, a uniquely disproportional percentage of Jews chose to fight for universal humanist values – rejecting the notion of a chosen people.

Today a disproportionate percentage of educated Jews have chosen to embrace an ‘ethno-religious’ Supremacist dogma, which binds them to an apartheid, militarist state and ideology ready to drag the world into a global war.

Never forget! Racialist supremacist doctrines led Germany down the blind ally of totalitarianism and world war, in which scores of millions perished.

Jews, especially young Jews, are increasingly repelled by Israel’s crimes against humanity. The next step for them (and for us) is to criticize, demystify and stand up to the toxic supremacist ideology linking the powerful domestic Zionist power configuration and its political clones with Israel.

The root problem is not genetic, it is collective political dementia: a demented ideology that claims a chosen elite can forever dominate and exploit the majority of American people. The time will come when the accumulated disasters will force the Americans people to push back, unmasking the elite and rejecting its supremacist doctrines. Let us hope that they will act with passion guided by reason.

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

End Game For Corporate School Reform: Privatized Holding Tanks, Remote Ed, Military Charter Schools

By Bruce A. Dixon | Black Agenda Report | October 30, 2013

Doug Henwood, a radical economist and founder of Left Business Observer, says it as succinctly as anyone when he sums up the goal of bipartisan corporate education reform imposed on poorer neighborhoods as “ … low cost privatized holding tanks leading to McDonalds jobs for the lucky, or to prison for the not so lucky …” along with classes delivered by computers rather than unionized teachers. But as useful as this summation is, it leaves out one element worth noting. You can’t run a global empire without a military class, any more than you can run a prison without prison guards.

So in Chicago, widely touted as a laboratory of educational innovation, mostly because its current mayor, President Obama’s former chief of staff holds dictatorial power over its public schools, one of the showpieces of education reform has been the handing over of entire high schools and even middle schools to the army, the navy and the marine corps.

Before the era of corporate reform there was at least one achievement of genuine small d democratic education reform pushed through by the administration of Chicago mayor Harold Washington in the 1980s. Since then parents in every public school have been allowed to elect parent councils, with reps from among rank and file teachers, which have veto power over title one funds and principal’s contracts, which are limited to two years. The “innovative” answer of downtown bureaucrats, corporate elites and subsequent mayors to parents taking a hand in running the schools has been to simply close Chicago public schools and replace them with charters over which parents have no say.

This year, Chicago closed more public schools than any other school district in a single year in the nation’s history. None were charter schools. This week Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he was moving the middle school which had earlier been given to the marine corps into the facility of a fully functioning neighborhood school, Ames Middle School.

The fact that Ames parents and community members had testified, had met with officials and overwhelmingly rejected the closing of their school meant less than nothing, and may even have contributed to the replacement of their school by a military academy. What mayor, and what alderman really wants organized parents running their own neighborhood institutions? It’s bad for business if you’re a privatizer, or a politician who takes cues and campaign contributions from privatizers. And ultimately habits of local democracy are bad for empire.

What Chicago, and corporate education reformers and privatizers and their contractors nationwide want, as Henwood observes, are low-cost holding tanks to funnel the well-behaved into low-wage precarious labor for the lucky and jail for the unlucky. They want distance education and computerized instruction because these are cheaper than human, potentially unionized teachers. And to Henwood’s list we should add, they want a sprinkling of military charter schools. After all, you can’t run an empire without soldiers, or a prison without guards.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Labor on the Ropes

By DAVID MACARAY | CounterPunch | September 14, 2012

There are plenty of notable labor events occurring at the moment.  And by “notable,” of course, we mean hideous and horribly depressing.  Clearly, management people all over the world believe the stars are in perfect alignment and that they now have a decided advantage when it comes to negotiating with their workforce.  Naturally, they’re looking to exploit that advantage.

First and foremost, at least from an American perspective, is the Chicago teachers’ strike, with nearly 26,000 teachers having walked off their jobs.  Predictably, the teachers are being portrayed by the mainstream media as greedy (they’re overpaid already), callused (they don’t care about their students), and gullible (they’ve been whipped into a frenzy by their militant union).  It’s positively stunning to see what the media are doing to America’s teachers.  This once noble profession is being treated with outright disdain.

There’s also a strike in South Africa, involving 41,200 miners; Lufthansa flight attendants have hit the bricks; Olive Garden and Longhorn workers have sued their employers for wage violations; American Crystal Sugar workers have been locked out for over a year; a salt mine in Louisiana was shut down for egregious safety violations; and union activists in Bangladesh are under assault (a Bangladeshi union leader was murdered last year).

Clearly, global management feels it’s in the driver’s seat.  And because they have so little to fear, they’re practically daring workers to put up a fight, utterly confident that the moneyed interests will win in the end.

One could argue that the scariest part of all this is the apparent lack of support from the public.  Historically, there have always been four components to a strike:  labor, management, government, and the public.  Each component played a role.  While the government almost always sided with management, there was a time when the citizens sided with the workers.  But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

I saw a Chicago mother on the news, plaintively asking, “What do I tell my daughter about why she has to miss class?”  She was furious.  “What do I tell her??!” she shouted.

It was obvious her anger was directed at the teachers and not at Rahm Emanuel, the smug, bullying, mega-maniacal mayor of Chicago, who, more than anything, needs to have a couple of motivated pilgrims take him out behind the woodshed and beat the crap out of him (Note:  we’re not advocating violence, only indicating that the only thing a bully understands is force).

Of course, the TV news crew was eating up this melodrama.  What a great visual for the six o’clock news—a tax-paying mother worried that her child’s education was being destroyed by arrogant union members.  But if anyone on that mobile crew (presumably union members themselves) had had the moral courage to speak up, they would have set her straight.

They would have advised her to tell her daughter that this is a classic labor-management dispute, that what the teachers are asking for is reasonable, that the arguments being used against them are frivolous, and that the anti-union fervor sweeping the country is being orchestrated by evil men seeking to fill their pockets with gold.  That’s what you tell your daughter.  And, believe me, she couldn’t get a better lesson than that if she spent a whole semester in civics class.

~

DAVID MACARAY, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.   He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

September 14, 2012 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , | Comments Off on Labor on the Ropes

Showdown in Chicago

Why the Teachers Must Prevail

By ANDREW LEVINE | CounterPunch | September 13, 2012

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the pesky little ankle-nipper charged in the first years of the Obama administration with dissing the left (“f…ing retards”), empowering Blue Dog Democrats and killing the public option in the Affordable Care Act, is Barack Obama writ obnoxious.   It is of the utmost importance that teachers in Chicago win their strike against his administration.

Theirs is the first battle in what will be a protracted war, during the second Obama administration, to save public institutions, public education especially, from the anti-worker, pro-corporate, privatizing predations of Democratic presidents.

To be sure, it is Republicans who prattle on about Ronald Reagan and advocate the retrograde policies associated with his name.    But while they are relentless in praising that villainous old actor, they are terrible at implementing the Reaganite agenda. This is understandable: when they are in the White House, their efforts inspire Democrats to fight back — not so much from conviction but because it plays well with the base and therefore pays off at election time.

Democratic presidents, on the other hand, are good at implementing the Reaganite agenda, whether their hearts are in it or not.  No one, so far, has been better at it than Bill Clinton.  This is because, as we saw again in Charlotte, he is adept at winning Democratic hearts and minds, and therefore at neutralizing potential opposition and even bringing it along.

This is how that old horn dog was able to win more for the Gipper than either Bush.  He did more even than Reagan himself to end the New Deal and Great Society “as we know it,” and to give Wall Street free rein.

Obama might have bested him had he not been stymied by Republican obduracy.  Now that obduracy is coming back to haunt the GOP.  By pandering to God-fearing, ignorant and stupid white men – and the women who stand by them — they have made themselves scary enough to assure a second Obama term.

Barring unforeseeable developments, therefore, it will be Obama, not Romney, who will be wielding the Reaganite cudgel in the next four years; and therefore Obama, the lesser but more effective evil, whom we will have to fight.

Obama is poised to leave the Clintons standing in the dust.  Hizzoner Da Mare is showing the way.  Workers be damned, and let the Grand Bargains begin!

*  *  *

Even before the Occupy movements of last fall, public workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere were beginning to fight back.  In Wisconsin, their efforts were unsuccessful, thanks in part to the indifference or connivance of the national Democratic Party and the Obama administration.

It isn’t just that Obama was AWOL throughout the winter and spring of 2011, when workers and their allies occupied the state Capitol in Madison, mobilizing tens of thousands of supporters.   When it came down just to a recall election a year later, the hope and change President couldn’t even be bothered to campaign for Tom Barrett, the anodyne Democratic rival to the execrable, Koch-funded, Republican governor Scott Walker.  All he could muster was a tweet at the final hour.

With the election less than two months away, Team Obama must realize that it will cost the President to betray the Chicago Teachers’ Union similarly.  But count on him to give it his best shot – the Obama-Emanuel tie is tight, and Emanuel’s anti-union, pro-corporate “reforms” are in line with Arne Duncan’s, Obama’s Secretary of Education.

Expect him therefore to remain aloof for as long as he can.  After all, who will stop him?  Not organized labor.  They’ve pledged their troth unconditionally to Democratic presidents so many times that they’ve forgotten how to do anything else, even when the object of their servility poses an “existential threat.”

For a long time, it seemed that the problem with Obama, and the Democratic Party, was their almost pathological “reasonableness,” their preference for compromising over winning.  But the real situation was becoming clear even before Emanuel became the face of militant Obamaism.

The problem is not just that Obama is inept at governance or that caution sometimes gets the better of him.  It is that he is on the wrong side.

Romney is scarier by orders of magnitude and more onerous by far.  But, like Clinton, Obama can deliver, especially nowadays when liberals are hell bent on cutting the man slack.  This is why he is, arguably, more dangerous even than his Republican rival.  Romney is unabashed class warrior for the one-percent; Obama is a more complicated figure.  But by their deeds, ye shall know them.

What Emanuel and Duncan and Obama want is what George Bush wanted: to despoil public education.  Of course, this is not what they say.  But it is hardly concern for kids, much less poor kids or for their families, that drives Bush-Obama efforts at reforming public education to ruin or that makes “market solutions” and privatization the order of the day.  Only hapless Republicans and market theologians (to the extent there is a difference) could believe that.

The Obamaites want to privatize public education, to the extent they can, for the same reason they want to privatize so much else:  because there is a lot of money – local, state and federal – involved, and the corporate interests Obama and his basketball buddies work for want to get their hands on it.

Obama and Duncan, and maybe even Emanuel, the “f-ing retard,” are too smart to be taken in by the meretricious charms of corporate bean counting.  They surely understand how detrimental teaching to tests can be, and how it serves no one other than corporate managers, or those who have internalized their values, to undermine educators’ morale by imposing impossible working conditions and assaulting workers’ dignity.

It is telling that Obama sent his own kids to the Chicago Lab School and then to Sidwell Friends.  Expensive private schools have always been about reproducing social elites – and, in recent years, coopting a few others for diversity’s sake — but Obama’s children, reared in the White House, have nothing to gain on that account.

The Obamas, like the Duncans and Emanuels of the world, just want their own children to get decent educations.  No doubt, they’d like that for working peoples’ children too, other things being equal.  But other things are not equal; the oligarchy has a different plan in mind.

They want a work force that is trained, not educated; workers ready to do what capitalist firms nowadays require — on the off-chance that capitalists find it more profitable, in certain circumstances, to exploit domestic labor instead of workers abroad.

Not long ago, the children of rich and poor alike were formed in the same schools, taught by dedicated teachers who, though underpaid, were treated with dignity and respect.  Not long ago, public higher education was cheap enough to be broadly accessible and good enough to rival or out perform even the richest private universities.

This is all inimical to the Reaganite agenda but, even now, public education, at all levels, is holding up tolerably well, notwithstanding chronic underfunding and increasingly vitriolic opposition from the minions of the one percent.  If Emanuel prevails, it will be harder, much harder, to hold the line.

This is a real danger.  Emanuel has the austerity mongers in the Obama administration, and Obama himself, at his back.  In an election year, he has the support of most Democrats.  And, of course, he has the implicit support of Mitt Romney, who at least has the decency to be more forthrightly anti-union and anti-(small-d) democratic than his rival.

Emanuel also has the “liberal” media doing its best to keep the Reaganite tide from receding.

Now that the New York Times has priced itself so much higher than it is worth and made itself, or at least its print edition, scarce, NPR has become perhaps the main source for conventional wisdom and pro-regime propaganda.

As the Chicago strike began, it was almost comical to listen to them struggle to find voices willing to berate the teachers for the inconvenience they are causing parents and students.  Evidently, Chicagoans, so far anyway, are behind the teachers because they realize that, in combatting Obama-style Reaganism – in taking on Rahm Emanuel — they are fighting for them.

They are absolutely right.  The Chicago teachers’ strike is the successor of last year’s demonstrations in Wisconsin and other states in the grip of reactionary Republican governors; it is the successor of the Occupy movements.  Its outcome matters more than the November election.  Chicago teachers must prevail!

ANDREW LEVINE is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

September 13, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Comments Off on Showdown in Chicago

Chicago teachers union to go on strike over low pay

Press TV – September 8, 2012

In the US state of Illinois, the Chicago Teachers Union is planning on going on strike and staging a walkout in demand of higher pay and job security.

The union says it plans to open its strike on Saturday and stage its walkout on Monday, the Associated Press reports.

However, the union and district officials in the country’s third most-populated city say they will negotiate with the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel to see if the walkout can be avoided or not.

Monday will be the first walkout strike by Chicago teachers in 25 years.

Last Monday, thousands of union workers gathered in Chicago’s Daley Plaza in support of the city’s teachers union.

This comes after several rounds of negotiations, which have failed to result in a solution to the demands of teachers.

According to a report released by the White House, as a result of state and local budget cuts, the US has slashed more than 300,000 education jobs since June 2009.

September 8, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Comments Off on Chicago teachers union to go on strike over low pay

MoveOn and Lesser Evilism

By STEPHEN ZIELINSKI | CounterPunch | September 7, 2012

I just concluded a brief phone conversation with a MoveOn activist. It’s an election year, and her natural and obvious goal was to promote Barack Obama’s cause in November. She did not say much, however, and did not have a chance to speak at length, for when I heard Obama’s name after her organization’s name, I told her that I would never vote for Obama.

“Why,” she asked.

“Because he’s a war criminal, a promoter of authoritarian government, a tool of Wall Street and an opponent of authentic health care reform, among many other reasons,” I replied.

There was a brief silent moment which I used to punctuate my claim that “I [was] criticizing Obama from the left.”

I told her this because I did not want her to consult her talking points when she formulated her response.

She didn’t. In fact, she was shocked, and indicated that she could not understand why anyone on the left would criticize the President.

And that’s one problem with those progressives who tie their political fate to the Democratic Party and its candidates. They lack imagination. Their commitment to a pseudo-pragmatic electoral strategy binds them to a corrupt Democratic Party, to its commitment to war-making abroad, the security-surveillance state at home, to elite lawlessness, to a general austerity, a predatory economic system and the oligarchs who own them.

They are blind to the false dilemma inherent in the lesser evil principle. Why is the dilemma false? Firstly, the Democratic and Republican Parties do not exhaust the political options available to America’s nominally free citizens. Secondly, whereas the policies of the two parties differ on this or that issue and their constituencies differ, they are not so distinct that they differ in kind. The Democrat and Republican Parties are system affirmative entities, and reflect this fact. Voting for a candidate of one party thus affirms the core principles of the other party. This point expresses the gist of George Wallace’s “not a dime’s difference” evaluation of the two legacy parties. Thirdly, both parties form a party system which affirms and reproduces the larger political system of which they are a part. They accomplish these goals because they and the elections they contest operate as filters which eliminate the political opposition as an electoral force while thereby producing legitimacy for the results of the election and for the political system as a whole. Barack Obama was elected President. He legitimately occupies the office of the President. Outsiders — Ralph Nader and his kind — typically are shunned and ridiculed. The party system reproduces itself, and changes little. An authentic democratic politics can be found only in the streets. Sheldon Wolin thus identified the early 21st century American political system as an inverted totalitarian regime, a system without an opposition. Fourthly, there are situations, electoral contests and political choices that feature lesser evils which are too evil to tolerate. A lesser Hitler remains a Hitler. An Obama acts like a Bush. A Clinton works hard to complete the Reagan Revolution. War, war crimes and lawlessness; mass murder, suppression of dissent and incarceration of whistleblowers; social austerity, economic predation and personal hardship — these are some of the policies and policy outcomes which MoveOn supports when it thumps the tub for Barack Obama.

The lesser evil principle acquires its persuasive force when one considers the New Deal and Great Society reforms which once marked the history of the Democratic Party. One may suspect that Americans who voted for Obama and “change you can believe in” affirmed the collective memory of and institutional residues left over from these past victories. But these memories are mostly just memories. The New Deal State and the political culture which supported it parted ways decades back. Militarism and empire, finance capital and the capitalist class pushed labor and the lesser sort to the margins of the Democratic Party. This is the place where one will find MoveOn and the like. Rahm Emanuel once denounced them as “fucking retarded.”

The ideologically committed liberal should ponder well Emanuel’s words and insolence.

Stephen Zielinski can be reached at: s.zielinski@comcast.net.

September 7, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment