The Ongoing Case Against Jon Burge and Chicago Police Corruption

In case anyone is interested, this is a nice summary of the state of what is going on, from a law professor working to get wrongly convicted people out of prison. Here’s the Latest from the Case Against Jon Burge | Chicago magazine | Politics & City Life November 2014.

The basic story:

Can you give us a brief primer on Burge’s history of misconduct?

The allegations against Jon Burge go back well into the ’70s, but they weren’t well recognized until the late ’80s and early ’90s. He was suspended from his job in 1991 and was fired in 1993, when the police’s internal investigation came to the conclusion that he had been engaged in torture and other misconducts. That was the first official acknowledgement of what he had done. Since then, many individuals sought the post–conviction review or filed civil action. I believe there’s been $100 million or more paid out in settlements to victims of Burge and people who worked for him.

There are at least 20 and probably many more people still in prison that were put there by Burge and Company – not because they were guilty, but because it was easier to coerce confessions than it was to actually do the police work to find the bad guys. And it is (was?) all about winning. It is not about justice.

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France Wants More Time to do What they Promised to do a Long Time Ago

Euro symbolJust when you thought the Eurozone fiasco was getting better… EU faces division as it decides whether to finally sanction France – Telegraph.

There are supposed to be hard targets for government spending to be a member of the Euro. Greece lied about their budgets and the result was the meltdown of the Greek economy. But Greece isn’t alone in that. The French have also not met their obligations. They continually say, “If you give us a little more time, we promise to get it right.” Germany is sick of it.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, has called on the commission to enforce the eurozone rules “without any political compromises”.

“We need to show how much further we want to go in the direction of a fiscal union. This means, that eurozone countries make binding commitments to decrease their debt,” he said on Sunday.

What is the French solution? Redistribute the wealth.

Next year France hopes to help balance its budget at Britain’s expense after the Government was required to pay a £1.7billion EU surcharge, levied because the British economy has been more successful than other European economies.

Because success isn’t fair. So those pesky Brits should fork it over. (You can imagine how popular this is with the British taxpayer.)

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On That Island Where Great Britain Used to Be – Being “Too English” is a Bad Thing

School was dinged for not being “multicultural enough” for the folks handing out school grades. Apparently, being 'too English' is now a crime – Telegraph.

Test scores are great. But in this rural enclave, the students are handicapped….

The Market Rasen pupils are doubly handicapped because each and every one of them has English as his or her first language.

This sounds like it should be in the Onion, and not the Telegraph.

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UK Crime Reporting – Not Exactly Cooking the Books, Just Ignoring the Facts

The UK likes to pretend it has crime under control, the problem is that the statistics they use are screwed up. ‘Inexcusably poor’ records omit 1 in 5 UK crimes, says watchdog – FT.com.

For sexual offences and rape, the situation was even worse with 26 per cent of crimes going unreported, the study by police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found. It said that more than a fifth of rape records were removed or cancelled last year for “no good reason”.

Some of the problem is just laziness, but cops said in an anonymous survey that they have received pressure from superiors to not record all crimes. So that is cooking the books.

See this link for a review of the current stats for the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

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What if You Called 911 and No One Came

Calling 911 is a strategy for dealing with violent crime. The problem with relying on “the system” is that it doesn’t always work. Relatives of slain woman sue over Denver 911 delay – The Denver Post.

It took more than an hour for dispatchers to send officers to the home of Loretta Barela, 44, after her neighbor called 911 on Nov. 18, 2012. The neighbor, who told dispatchers she saw a man hitting shirtless Barela and dragging her across the street, called a second time when police had not arrived 45 minutes later. Officers left when there was no response to a knock on her door.

Police finally entered the residence and found her body, after her killer called 911.

Calling 911 is a fine thing. But it doesn’t always work. So if it is the only thing you do, you may wait a long time – like the rest of your life.

This isn’t the first time a person died in Denver because of screwed up 911 service. In June, a woman died while on the phone with 911, in part because the 911 operator did not relay the seriousness of the incident. That call lasted 13 minutes. In reality, no matter what they do, the response time will never be zero. Of course 13 minutes and 1 hour are a bit of a problem.

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They Suffered a Breakdown of the Victim-selection Process

They picked the wrong guy. Hartford homeowner shoots would-be assailant in the face, police say | AL.com.

The homeowner got out of his vehicle Friday night to unlock his front gate when he was approached by a group of four to five men, Assistant Hartford Police Chief Ben Berry told the Dothan Eagle. At least two of the men were armed with guns.

According to the report, one member of the group told the homeowner, “we’re going to kill you,” and the homeowner fired his gun in the air as a warning.

He didn’t mean to, but he shot one of his would-be attackers anyway. The rest ran like rabbits.

Self-defense is a human-right.

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Just One Guy Having a Bad Day? Not Hardly – Or How Things Work for Chicago PD

I would like to say that it is surprising this guy is still a cop, but it isn’t surprising, not in Chicago. Fire Chicago cop with rap sheet, Supt. Garry McCarthy urges | Early & Often.

Forget about all of the times he has been suspended or investigated for violating department policy. Concentrate on the big stuff.

He’s been arrested four times — by his own department — on charges that include domestic battery, child endangerment and aggravated assault with a gun, with Cook County prosecutors dropping the charges each time.

Why were charges dropped? Did evidence go missing, or are the DAs in on the whole “thin-blue-line” thing as well?

He isn’t fired, and I doubt he will be fired. The unions will go to bat for him. After all, he hasn’t been convicted of a crime. But then maybe if someone would actually charge him…

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Winter Wonderland

View from the front porchWith apologies to Tam, this is the view from the porch, my front porch that is. (Click the image for a bigger/better look at things.)

If you are going to exile yourself to the land of snow and cold, you need to be able to look on the bright side from time to time

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Musical Interlude – Glitch Mob

“Animus Vox” by Glitch Mob

“We Can Make the World Stop” also by Glitch Mob

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150 Years Ago Today: The Burning of Atlanta and Sherman’s March to the Sea

1864 was a Presidential election year. The Democrats held their convention and nominated George McClellan, former Union Army commander, to run on a platform that “the war was unwinnable” and the Union should sue for peace with the Confederacy. Lincoln was not expected to win that election.

But things changed when Sherman’s forces, moving south from Chattanooga, Tennessee captured Atlanta on 2 September 1864. Ordered to hold Atlanta until after the election, Sherman made preparations for his March to the Sea. This included sending some troops to Tennessee, and destroying the rail-yards and railroads in and around Atlanta.

On 14 November 1864, the fires were set.

[Sherman’s army] began its march for the sea on the morning of the 14th, when the entire city of Atlanta—excepting its courthouse, churches, and dwellings—was committed to the flames.

The buildings in the heart of the city, covering 200 acres of ground, formed a great conflagration; and, while the fire was raging, the bands played, and the soldiers chanted the stirring air and words, ” John Brown’s soul goes marching on!”

From November 14th until a few days before Christmas of 1864, Sherman’s force – totaling 60,000 infantry with associated artillery, and 5500 cavalry – cut a swath of destruction across Georgia. Sherman, had made his intentions clear. “I intend to make Georgia howl.” And he did. He removed from the Confederacy the support of the people. They were no longer willing to join the fight.

All confidence in President Davis and the Confederate government had disappeared in Georgia, and a great portion of the people were satisfied that it was, as they expressed it, “the rich man’s war, and the poor man’s fight,” and would no longer lend themselves to the authorities at Richmond. The National army moved steadily forward. At Griswoldsville there was a sharp engagement (Nov. 22, 1864) with a portion of Hardee’s troops sent up from Savannah, and several brigades of militia. The Confederates were repulsed with a loss of 2,500 men. Howard could have taken Macon after this blow upon its defenders, but such was not a part of Sherman’s plan.

The journals and letters of Mary Prescott, contain a first-hand report of the results of that campaign. If you haven’t seen Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” I can highly recommend it, and specifically that episode that deals with Sherman’s march across Georgia.

Sherman’s forces destroyed everything in their path. Houses, and barns. They built fires and twisted steel rails so they could never be used for railroads again. They slaughtered livestock, and burned provisions. They left a path of destruction and famine in their wake, but they accomplished their mission. They made it impossible for the South to continue to wage war.

And the political platform of the Democrats notwithstanding, Lee surrendered his Army of Virginia to U.S. Grant in April of 1865.

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