Author Archive | aaroncynic

Why No One Really Won In The Trial Of The NATO 3

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

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Assistant State’s Attorney John Blakey dubbed the three men “Mr. Cop on Fire,” “Captain Napalm” and “Professor Molotov” respectively, and of hatching a nearly super-villanous terrorism plot that would have included attacks on police stations, President Barack Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters, Chase Tower and burning police officers in the streets.

The trial was the first time the Illinois State’s Attorney’s office prosecuted a case under a 12 year old terrorism law passed just after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Prosecutors argued the three men came to Chicago “ready for war” and presented the jury with inflammatory and incendiary statements the trio made recorded by undercover police, as well as four beer bottles filled partially with gasoline and a collection of various weapons including a bow and arrow, a throwing star, a slingshot and a homemade “shield” emblazoned with the words “austerity ain’t gonna happen.”

If one were to believe Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez Betterly, Chase and Church—who have spent nearly two years in Cook County Jail awaiting trial with $1.5 million bonds—were “cold, calculating terrorists.” Even Judge Thaddeus Wilson seemed to believe the rhetoric (at least in part) when he declined a move by the defense for a direct acquittal.

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Trial of NATO3 Reveals Police Spying Operation

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 9.58.35 AMTestimony from an undercover police officer in the trial of three activists arrested just prior to the Chicago’s NATO summit in May 2012 and now face terrorism charges, revealed a large surveillance operation Chicago Police had months prior to the summit.

The prosecution alleges the three men were planning to build Molotov cocktails to bring to the protests along with discussing “attacking” several locations, including President Barack Obama’s re-election headquarters and police stations. Police also allege they found several weapons including knives and a throwing star, a mortar made from PVC pipe and a bow during the raid.

Much of the case against the three is based on information garnered from two Chicago Police informants who infiltrated local activist groups many weeks prior to the NATO protests. Known as “Moe” and “Gloves,” the prosecution alleges the two officers were inside the apartment where Church, Chase and Betterly were staying when they say they filled beer bottles with gasoline.… Read the rest

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EBT System Glitch Shows Welfare Myths Just Won’t Die

nytimes_welfare_queenAaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Glitches in the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system caused major problems for recipients of food stamps over the weekend in 17 states. The problems began on Saturday when Xerox, the company responsible for running the system, experienced “technical difficulties” during a “routine test” of its backup systems. In some cases, EBT beneficiaries were unable to use their cards. In others, the spending limit on the cards was removed, allowing EBT users to purchase as much as they wanted.

As typical with any big breaking news story, the internet was flooded with comments and conversation about the matter, and much of the storm was filled with anger at people who receive any kind of government assistance in getting food at all. It seems that the Reagan era myth of the “welfare queen” still lives and breathes along with many other myths about food stamps in America.… Read the rest

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Despite Shutdown Threats, The System Keeps Spinning

Ted_Cruz,_official_portrait,_113th_CongressAaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Republican Senator Ted Cruz just spent a marathon 21 hours speaking at the Senate podium. While usually, such marathon stints spent in the same place are reserved for people trying to win used cars, Ted was stumping in protest of Obamacare, something so contentious that in addition to Republicans “symbolically” attempting to pass legislation killing it 41 times, both parties are willing to endure a government shutdown while they play political ping-pong over it. For those Americans who think a government normally set at the little turtle on the mobility scooter at the grocery store is bad, just wait until Uncle Sam locks himself out of the front gate completely. But, we don’t need to completely panic. While millions of regular government employees could be out of a paycheck for awhile, there are at least a few things American’s needn’t worry about.

Our leaders won’t go hungry.Read the rest

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Activists Descend On Chicago Hotel To Protest ALEC Conference

Photo by Aaron Cynic

Photo by Aaron Cynic

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Six demonstrators were arrested at the Hilton Palmer House hotel in the Loop for staging a sit-in Monday evening. Dozens of activists held a demonstration in the lobby to protest the upcoming American Legislative Exchange Council conference this week. Calling themselves the Chicago Moral Monday Coalition, demonstrators dropped several banners off the second floor balcony while Rev. Marilyn Pagan Banks, Senior Pastor of Namaste United Church of Christ, spoke:

“The American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, is one of the great nexi where money and politics meet in order to corrupt our democracy. ALEC brings together corporate lobbyists and state legislators in order to create legislation that promotes big business and the 1% while working to disenfranchise ordinary people.”

The Chicago Moral Monday coalition takes its name after the “Moral Monday” protests in North Carolina, a series of rallies that activists have held in the state for nearly three months to protest varying forms of legislation.… Read the rest

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What I Learned Walking The Picket Line

Picket line in front of Wendy's in the Chicago loop. Photo by Aaron Cynic

Picket line in front of Wendy’s in the Chicago loop. Photo by Aaron Cynic

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Yesterday’s hardest moment came for me when I watched a worker cry. I had been on the streets for about 5 hours with striking workers from the Fight for 15 movement and their supporters, who held a series of actions for two days in conjunction with a national week of strikes and protests to raise the minimum wage. I met the first picket in front of a Subway in the Chicago loop during the morning rush hour where several workers walked off the job. Organizers planned more than twenty pickets spread throughout the financial heart of the city for the day. Hundreds of demonstrators snaked along the sidewalks, stopping in front of retail and fast food outlets to deliver their message – “We can’t survive on $8.25.”

Morning was slowly turning to afternoon and demonstrators lined the sidewalk in front of a Walgreen’s on State and Randolph, a location sandwiched between the Chicago Theater and a Macy’s outlet in the loop.… Read the rest

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Protestors Plan ‘Birthday’ for Corporate/Government Boundary Busting Organization ALEC

f8b87fea7b913aa669c0cfce825add78Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

The American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization which pushes “model” legislation encouraging privatization in nearly every corner of American life under the guise of advancing “free market” principles, will hold their annual meeting in Chicago the second week of August. For 40 years, ALEC has worked to create deep connections between corporations and lawmakers while simultaneously limiting the rights of the American people to resist a corporate takeover of their democracy.

It’s fitting ALEC would host its annual conference in Chicago this year after Mayor Emanuel has spent his term pushing a model of government the organization has attempted to legislate for 40 years. Between the mayor’s push to privatize city services and attempts to dismantle the public school system along with the state of Illinois’ pandering to huge corporations via millions in tax breaks, Chicago provides a perfect backdrop. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, which publishes the website alecexposed.org, the “corporate bill mill” sponsored 117 pieces of legislation in 2013 alone which limit worker’s rights and keep wages down.

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‘If You Create The Democracy You Want To Have…’ – Interview With Jim Hightower

jimhightowerAaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

“Agitation is what America is all about. If it were not for agitators we’d be wearing white powdered wigs singing ‘God hail the Queen.’ Agitation built America,” said Jim Hightower to a packed hotel conference room on Sunday. The author, radio host, former elected official and “progressive populist” rabble-rouser was speaking at an event put on by a group called Common Cause, which was celebrating a recent victory in the movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. At the end of May, Illinois became the 14th state to adopt a resolution supporting the reversal of Citizens United V. FEC,, the Supreme Court decision which allowed even larger unfettered corporate spending in elections.

The push to amend the Constitution to reverse Citizens United is just one step in trying to get money out of politics, something Hightower, along with a growing number of Americans across party lines, have been fighting for.

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Massive Protests Planned Against Chicago Public School Closings

Pic: Shanna Riley (CC)

Pic: Shanna Riley (CC)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

While Chicago’s Mayor and other administration officials seem to believe the closing of more than 54 public schools in Chicago is a done deal, resistance to the closures is about to peak just before the school board votes on the closures. This weekend, thousands plan to march to say no to the closures for three days beginning Saturday.

Resistance to the closures however, began months ago, with several protests and hundreds of hearings where parents, students, teachers and their supporters aired their grievances and demanded their schools stay open. Mayor Rahm Emanuel touts the closures will help close the $1 billion deficit. Officials within CPS said they could save as much as $560 million by shutting the doors to neighborhood schools, shuffling students to other supposedly better performing locations. However, WBEZ reported the calculation was off by $122 million. CPS admitted its mistake in arithmetic, calling it an “honest mistake.”

Mistakes in math however, are only the tip of the iceberg.… Read the rest

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Outrage Over IRS Targeting of Tea Party Shows Glaring Double Standard

Picture: "Tea Party Bumper Sticker" Matthew Reichbach (CC)

Picture: “Tea Party Bumper Sticker” Matthew Reichbach (CC)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

This week, President Obama expressed “outrage” over the targeting of such groups from the IRS. “I’ve got no patience with it. I will not tolerate it. And we’ll make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this,” he told reporters at a press conference. The New York Daily News reports two Senate committees controlled by Democrats announced investigations on Monday and House Republicans said they would investigate as well. According to CNN, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said “We need to know who knew what, and exactly what mistakes were made.The American people have questions for the IRS and I intend to get answers.”

While it’s certainly troubling (and not surprising) the IRS would be investigating and scrutinizing certain groups with a political agenda more than others, the “outrage” from politicians of all political stripes is nearly laughable when placed in the larger context of law enforcement targeting other political and activist groups.… Read the rest

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