Archive for chicago

Young Master Chef Lost to Guns and Mental Illness, Melissa Harris-Perry Notes

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Master Chef finalist, fan favorite and troubled Chicago student Josh Marks lost his life and dreams to suicide, in the tragic intersection of mental illness and the shockingly normal high availability of guns.

It's probably more difficult to get good weed in Chicago than a firearm, if anything in that cute Ted movie can be believed.

MasterChef Finale Image Courtesy ClickClaque.com

MasterChef Finale Image Courtesy ClickClaque.com

Melissa Harris-Perry did an amazing piece on Josh Marks … the charismatic African American contestant from Chicago that won American hearts with his chaffy chops and fighting spirit. The hubs and I watched, and rooted for him. [We're oddly Gordon Ramsey fans but it Twas before Chef Graham lost like half of himself if you've caught Master Chef.]

The easy access to guns in the street … Chicago has so much gun violence … there are so many gun loopholes that the supply is always there … or they can go over the [state] border."

Tragically, this gun availability here led to suicide. CNN highlights from reporting on Marks (last and successful try) late 2013 suicide.

It is overwhelming to think that with proper, intensive treatment, Joshua may still be with us," his lawyer, Lisa Butler, said Sunday. "He was a jewel with so much talent to offer this world. But, in his state of mind, he turned to the streets for a gun and easily got it."

Marks, 26, died from a gunshot wound to his head. His death has been ruled a suicide, a spokesman for the Cook County, Illinois, medical examiner said Sunday.

The NRA has framed the question as one about 'strangers' said expert Eugene O'Donnell, and he showed why that gun-fondling fantasy is balderdash.

"Do we not care about suicide?," pled Melissa.

Bryan Smith who wrote a great piece on the story for Chicago Magazine, was there to discuss, below, as was 'Law and Order of the Mind' segment expert Eugene O'Donnell joined the discussion following revelations that Marks had both prior attempts at suicide and time at Cook's County Jail - from his nearby troubled term at college. And guns were no problem at all to obtain.

The 'vacuum of fear' theme was spot on, especially when this discussion is framed in politics, social stigma and racism.

Ironically, the writers of Law and Order and House of Cards add more to the human dignity questions at the heart of this conversation than the Know Nothing Do Nothing Congress and gridlocked D.C. with SCROTUS and Open Carry gun nuts running amok.

Maybe 'Scandal' can take a stab in Season 4. No doubt Ms. Shonda Rhimes would give the pitiable Congress a hand in common sense, reality and dignity of purpose. Calling Olivia Pope!

scandal-memes-olivia-pope-6In the meantime we have Melissa Harris-Perry's coverage to the sad story of one more life lost too young to mental illness, and over-availabilty of guns for either homicide or suicide tragedies … and where those volatile and violent issues intersect.

 

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Prison Guard Beats Inmate And Illinois Must Pay

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The headline in HuffPo reads:

James Degorski, Man Who Killed 7 At Brown's Chicken Restaurant, Awarded $451,000 In Civil Suit

So I was interested to see how a convicted killer was awarded money. Could it be related to his murdering 7 innocent people? I didn't think so but I had to read on.

CHICAGO (AP) — A former handyman serving life in prison for the 1993 murder of seven people at a suburban Chicago restaurant has been awarded nearly a half-million dollars in a civil lawsuit in which he alleged a jail guard punched him in the face.

Degorski, now 41, accused a Cook County Jail guard of punching him and breaking his cheekbone and eye socket in 2002.

As it turns out, this was really not about the inmate's crime, but about the inmate's treatment. His abuse. His being deprived of his civil rights.  Degorski's attorney put it this way:

"I think it's a beautiful day for civil rights when a jury can put aside emotions and say we are all entitled to our civil rights," she said. "It's about protecting the constitutional rights of the least among us."

Well, I'm not so sure that it's a beautiful day, but I do feel strongly that we have constitutional rights which, contrary to popular opinion, are not relinquished when someone's sentenced to prison.

Why should we care, or more importantly why should a jury care to the tune of nearly half a million bucks?

Simple. We have the eighth amendment which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The jury heard the facts, the details of this brutal attack on a brutal man who was in his care. Yet a prison sentence doesn't give the guards the right to dispatch their own kind of justice. Guards are there to serve the justice system, not create their own. And this guard evidently thought he could. Now the state must pay, which means the people of Illinois have to cough up half a mil for this crime.

If it seems like I'm taking the side of a killer, you're wrong. I'm taking the side of justice. We can't allow people behind bars to become animals, pets, treated unkindly by brutal guards. If we do, there's no chance at rehabilitation. I don't think prison should become a vacation spot, but basic human rights shouldn't be denied, either.

This prisoner who was beaten could just as easily been incarcerated for fixing the books at a financial institution or possession of a controlled substance. His crime got him put there for just punishment, not to become a guard's punching bag. But this guard took justice into his own hands, abused it and a jury found him guilty. Hopefully he will lose his job for this. But most certainly, the good and innocent people of Illinois will be covering the tab. Perhaps that's the real injustice in this case.

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God Unleashes Disasters, Dementia, and Autism. Why? LGBT Rights.

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Yes, friends, read the headline again. It's not a joke. It's for real. And that's what cuckoo-bird-crazy U.S. Congressional candidate Susanne Atanus had to say to the the editorial board of the Chicago Daily Herald in her interview for their endorsement. This Republican candidate is running against incumbent Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

According to TPM Livewire:

If you're afflicted with autism or dementia, or if you've lost your worldly possessions due to a tornado, Susanne Atanus thinks you should blame the LGBT community.

"We are provoking Him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military, it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”

Okay now, you LGBT folks, Stop it! Stop it right now! No more hurricanes or polar vortexes, and don't you go putting the dementia hex on any of us! And while you're at it, how about removing the autism you caused. I don't know how you did it, but if you women-hating,  minority loathing, gay-bashing Republicans say you LGBT people did this, you must have. The Tea Party doesn't lie.

A moment of reality here. Yesterday I wrote about a crazy man in the Tea Party, a candidate for Florida state's legislation, Joshua Black, who tweeted and Facebooked that Obama should be hung for treason. If you missed it, it's here, with video: FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PROPOSES OBAMA LYNCHING. Now we get this in Illinois. What state is going to be next?

Are the Republicans really this extreme? I think in many cases, yes. There are some who border on sanity, but they're becoming harder and harder to find. Hopefully this is a wake-up call to both parties. We've got to pay more attention to who our candidates are and what they represent. Could anyone really support a candidate like Sussane Atanus? You bet your ass. She's currently an outlier, but she and her ilk are starting to become the rule. This is scary. And we need to rally our votes before these nutsos are making the rules for the rest of us.

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Nine Year Old Gives Beatdown To ChiTown Mayor Emanuel, Saves His School

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Asean Johnson

For years preceding Obama's presidential first term, the man who was the power behind Barack Obama, the guy who wielded the big stick was Rahm Emanuel.  If there was a tough or dirty job that had to be done, you called on Rahm. He'd fall on his sword if need be to protect the once and future president. It was no surprise that when PBO was sworn in, his chief of staff, the man once again with the power, was the same Rahm Emanuel.

After a successful launch of the presidency (as successful as could be expected under the circumstances), Emanuel took his bat and ball and went home to stake out a larger personal power base -- the mayor's seat in his hometown Chicago. He wasn't a carpetbagger like Scott Brown moving from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. No, in this case, Rahm is a real Chicagoan.  And he had enough of Washington. He yearned to go back home to Chitown and toss his hat into the political arena there. As a native son, he knew the problems of the city and politics. He also knew where many of the bodies were buried -- even those that were still warm. He waltzed to a very large victory.

So it's no surprise that at the midway point of his first term, the Mayor would be feeling some heat. Even the best intentioned politician in the country's third largest city can't please all the people all the time. But who would have predicted his biggest, loudest and most outspoken opposition would come from a nine year old black boy from the ghetto? The issue that could bring down the mayor was going to be the closing of schools. Republicans take note. Here's a Democrat who wants to tamper with education and might very well lose his job. If the GOP insists on education cuts, this could happen to you.

The Grio:

With just hours until the fate of school closings is known in the third-largest district in the nation, students have joined their parents and teachers in protest and raised their voices in opposition to the mass shutter.

Heralded as the future mayor of Chicago in the year 2025, 9-year-old Asean Johnson, has spoken at school board meetings and hearings, and fired up a crowd of hundreds in a protest against school closings Monday that concluded three days of marches on the city’s South and West sides.

“I wanted to be there to support my school and for the other schools that are closing, because really, I think that no school should be closing,” he told the Grio.

If this kid, Asean Johnson is any indication of both the potential of students in this school district and the need to keep the Chicago schools open, it's never been more evident. Emanuel not only has a financial problem on his hands, he has a budding opposition candidate (Asean Johnson) for his political office when he becomes of legal age.

The largest criteria for closing the targeted schools is test performance. And Asean's school rates lower than the average. Yet look at the product of that test result driven policy. Because this boy's school doesn't make the test driven grade, students like him are going to be forced from their neighborhood and crowded into already burgeoning schools, risking safety and their home life.

Not surprisingly, after this public speech, his school has been spared. But there's still a major problem everywhere else that uses test scores as the main basis for keeping schools open. Maybe it's time to look at the way kids are taught and provide the proper funding to raise education levels. The answers are not is closing schools or raising test scores. It's in finding out how to motivate, cultivate and produce more Asean Johnson's in all of our neighborhoods.

Asean Johnson certainly put it succinctly to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel:

“We are not toys. We are not going down without a fight.”

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Video- The Daily Show: Strife of Pie

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Video Overnight Thread- Amazing moment baby dolphin is born at Chicago zoo

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That was just indescribable. Via.

Just a wee bit of housekeeping. If you haven’t already (stern look) please like us on teh Facebook, and we are all available to follow on Twitter. Gotta is great, David is fabulous and Lucian is smart and funny. Me, I’m still trying to get the font bit enough to read, but I will get there eventually. Or just follow the whole damn lot of us here. Thank you.

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Vacation Time - Where To Go This Year

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Vacation

Every year our family likes to go somewhere for vacation as a unit. It's our family time -- and for that I'm always thankful. When I get the tab, Dad's always seem to be the one who do the paying, I sometimes grimace. But being together as a family is the highlight of our year.

Schedules being what they are we have to plan long in advance. And there's a lot to take into consideration, once we pick a time. Is it going to be too cold, too hot, a monsoon or hurricane season. So timing enters into it. But we do like exotic so there's a few more considerations along with will there be anything fun to do there once we arrive.

We usually determine our final selection by a system of elimination.  When you remove places you've already been to or don't wish to go to, you easily pare down your choices. As Sherlock Holmes used to say, eliminate everything that can't be, and you're left with is what is. (that's a paraphrase). So thankfully, there's a new list out to help us chose where to go, or in this case, where not to visit and why.  It's the annual Most Dangerous Countries on Earth list which has just been released.  So if you find yourself looking for your next vacation spot, consult this list first. You may be surprised:

Johannesburg

#1 Johannesburg, South Africa - Our family actually has friends who live there.  But here's why we're crossing that off of our list: This country has been described as the ‘rape capital of the world’, with 118.3 rapes per 100,000 people. Not only is the high incidence of rape bad news for visitors, but there's also an incredibly high murder rate. This country consistently has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

Rio de Janeiro

#2 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Wow, I'd always heard of the Carnaval and the beaches, partying.  Sounded like a contender until I read: Street crime is rampant in parts of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, and it is common for tourists to have their lives threatened for their valuables. I can live with having my watch boosted, but not my life threatened.

Cartegena

#3 Cartegena, Columbia.  We actually went there, and I did get attacked when an anti-American rally broke out. Not because I was there'; just because...Colombia is truly a lawless state. It's the world capital for kidnappings. There were 12,338 in 2011. Of these 1,138 were killed by their kidnappers. Fourth in the world for murder rates with 69.98 per 100,000 people in 2011, many of those killed were local mayors, dozens being killed every year. In the states we vote officials out of office. In Cartegena, they carry them out, in body bags. Oh, and let's not forget Colombia supplies 75% of the worlds supply of cocaine.

map-united-states

Well, I guess we'll have to do some more looking around, maybe pick a nice safe spot in the States. One thing's for sure, it won't be Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit, St.Louis, Baltimore, Birmingham, Newark, Oakland, Cleveland or Memphis. Those are Americas ten deadliest cities.

You know, maybe we'll just stay home this year, have a big barbecue.  I mean, what can go wrong in L.A.?

Murder scene

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