Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Chicago Public Schools lays off 1,400 so it can make pension payment

Dirksen School, Chicago's
Northwest Side
In order to make a massive pension payment today, Chicago Public Schools announced it will have to lay off 1,400 employees. Even before these firings there were already more retirees collecting pensions than current workers paying into the pension system. If that sounds unsustainable--it is.

The devil's bargain Democratic politicians made with the teachers unions is a disaster for Chicago taxpayers. And for Chicago school children.

From CBS 2 Chicago:
The Chicago Board of Education made its pension payment on schedule Tuesday, but at a cost — massive layoffs.

The meet the $634 million obligation, the board used a combination of borrowed money, $200 million dollars in cuts and layoffs it promised before talks with the Chicago Teachers Union broke down last week.

The board is expected to lay off 1,400 employees, and Interim Schools CEO Jesse Ruiz said in a statement that classrooms will be impacted.

"As we have said, CPS could not make the payment and keep cuts away from the classroom," he said.
Bonds issued by CPS have junk status.

President Obama's secretary of education, Arne Duncan, is a former CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

(Classic car) 1966 Chevy Corvair

The Chevrolet Corvair achieved infamy when it was the featured vehicle in Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed. Nader, a shameless self promoter, unfairly singled out this low-cost sports car.

Human Events gave Nader's book an honorable mention in its list of the "Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries."

Yesterday morning in Des Plaines I saw a 1966 bright red Corvair as it rained.

Illinois teacher fired for stepping on US flag during classroom lesson

USA and Illinois flag
Exactly what kind of English class was this jackal teaching?

Clark County, where Martinsville is located, is not a liberal wasteland. In last year's gubernatorial election the Republican candidate, Bruce Rauner, collected nearly three-quarters of the vote.

From the Chicago Tribune:
A teacher in eastern Illinois has been fired for stepping on a small U.S. flag during a lesson on free speech.

The Martinsville School District board voted 6-0 to fire English teacher Jordan Parmenter. Martinsville is about 80 miles southeast of Champaign near the Indiana state line.

The district had placed Parmenter on leave after the May 15 incident.

Parmenter has said he used the flag as a pointer during a lesson on free speech at Martinsville Junior-Senior High School.
With teachers like Pamenter, it's easy to ascertain why students don't know the difference between a comma and semi-colon. Free speech is a subject for a civics class, correct speech is for an English class.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Illinois 24 hours away from government shutdown

The Land of Lincoln may very soon be the land of lights out. The gerrymandered Democratic-controlled Illinois General Assembly passed an unconstitutional budget that is at least $4 billion short of funds, which Republican reform governor Bruce Rauner vetoed. During the twelve years that the Democrats controlled the governor's mansion and both chambers of the General Assembly, Illinois' spending spiraled out of control and the state's public-worker pension system exceeded $110 billion in unfunded obligations.

Illinois has the worst credit rating of the 50 states. Sensible Prairie State residents chose Rauner to fix Illinois' fiscal calamity last year. But the Dems continue to live in the past.

At midnight on July 1--Illinois will probably suffer a government shutdown.

UPDATE July 1: What do you know! There is no budget but the state hasn't shut down. The Dems are working on a one-month unbalanced budget that the gerrymandered General Assembly will vote on today--and Rauner borrowed some cash from a couple of special funds.

Old pilings on the Illinois River

Some pilings are what's left of (I think) of an old pier on the Illinois River in Henry, Illlinois.

Photograph taken in 2011.

Chiraq: Three dead and at least 17 wounded over weekend

The last weekend of June was another bloody one in Chicago. Three men were murdered and at least 17 other Chicagoans were wounded.

Unhappy anniversary: Islamic State calls for violence on first birthday

Not even Nazi Germany was this brazen one year out from the gate of hell.

From the New Indian Express:
The latest message released by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on completing a year as a self-proclaimed caliphate has urged its supporters to take up arms and carry out acts of terror.

The fact that the Islamic caliphate’s first anniversary fell within the holy month of Ramzan was also used by the outfit to issue a call for stepped up attacks in the Middle East and around the world as jihad is 10 time more obligatory during the holy month. The terror outfit told its sympathisers that those who die in jihad will be rewarded by Allah 10 times as much as during the rest of the year, reported Fox News.

Ryan Mauro, national security analyst and adjunct professor of Homeland Security for the Clarion Project, said that the message would prompt ISIS supporters to attack right now in order to get the maximum award.

The ISIS established a caliphate run by a medieval version of strict Islamic laws on June 29 last year. The group has expanded throughout the region since then, luring and recruiting thousands of local and foreign fighters and unleashing a trail of death and misery.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Turks break up gay pride parade with rubber bullets and water cannons

Across the world hundreds of pride parades are taking place. But one in Turkey's largest city didn't go too well for the participants.

From Reuters:
Turkish police fired water cannon and rubber pellets to disperse a gay pride parade in central Istanbul on Sunday, after organizers said they had been refused permission to march this year because of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Police sprayed jets of water from trucks at crowds of hundreds who had gathered - many in colorful clothing and waving rainbow flags - near the central Taksim Square neighborhood, one of Istanbul's busiest shopping and tourist areas.

As the crowds fell back, men who appeared to be plain clothes police officers detained several demonstrators, according to footage from a Reuters cameraman at the scene.

While homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, unlike many other Muslim countries, homophobia remains widespread. Critics say President Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling AK Party he founded have shown little interest in expanding rights for minorities, gays and women, and are intolerant of dissent.
The normally righteous international Left is largely silent about attacks on gays in Islamic countries.

Look for President Obama not to say a word to Erdogan about today's parade attack.

Jewish population nearing pre-Holocaust levels

There are about 14 million Jews living on the planet now--which is near the level of 16 million when the Holocaust began 75 years ago. So yes, there is some good news to report.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

ILL-inois: Tourism marketing boss got 6-figure severance after just 2 years on job

Chicago River
Stories such this one contribute to the numbing of Chicago.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Choose Chicago, the city's taxpayer-subsidized tourism bureau, secretly gave its chief marketing officer a six-figure payout when he left after just two and a half years on the job, newly released records show.

Warren R. Wilkinson abruptly left the organization in July 2013. That was less than two months after Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed President Barack Obama’s former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers as chairman of the Choose Chicago board, replacing Bruce Rauner, who stepped down to run for governor.

Wilkinson's sudden departure caused a stir because he'd just crafted a new advertising and marketing campaign for the city.

Choose Chicago officials won’t disclose the amount of Wilkinson's severance. They say that as a private, not-for-profit organization, Choose Chicago doesn't have to explain how it spends its $32 million budget, even though 87 percent of its money comes from taxpayers.
Taxpayers should choose to tell the politicians to shut off the cash spigot to Choose Chicago.

Wilkinson's severance was $253,000.


(Photos) Common sundrops

Common sundrop, also known as narrowleaf evening-primrose, are rare in Illinois. but they are quite common in the restored tallgrass prarie in Morton Grove, Illinois' Miami woods.

The bright yellow four-petaled blossom are about an inch-and-a-half wide. The flower buds are bright red.

The blossoms resemble those of poppies.

ILL-inois: Ex-congressman Reynolds indicted again

You can keep a bad man down. Especially when he is his own worst enemy.

The saga of former Illinois congressman Mel Reynolds continues.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Reynolds, 63, who lost his South Side and south suburban 2nd Congressional District seat in 1995 after being convicted of having sex with an underage campaign worker, was indicted on the tax charges on Thursday. The indictment was made public on Friday.

Reynolds didn't file returns in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, according to the charges. Each count carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a $250,000 fine.

It's just the latest legal battle for Reynolds. Last year Reynolds was deported to the U.S. after paying a fine for violating Zimbabwe's immigration laws.

Reynolds was ordered to pay a $100 fine or five days imprisonment after pleading guilty to flouting the country's immigration laws by staying longer than his visa permitted. He also faced charges of possessing pornography after images of naked men and women were allegedly found on his iPhone. Those charges were ultimately dismissed.
While in prison for the sex offense--Reynolds was indicted and then convicted for campaign finance law violations. But in one of his midnight pardons, Bill Clinton commuted his sentence.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Who is Obama crappin'? He was against gay marriage 3 years ago

WSCR-AM in Chicago, better known as The Score, hosts a regular segment entitled "Who Ya Crappin?" The name comes from an off-hand comment made by legendary Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka--who is also a proud conservative. In Ditka-ese, it means, "Who are you trying to fool?"

After the US Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage this morning, President Obama gave a victory lap speech. Tonight the White House has been lit up in the colors of the gay flag.

But just three years ago Obama was against gay marriage.

Who ya crappin', Obama?

Related post:

Ditka: Not running against Obama in '04 "Biggest mistake I've ever made"

Now that gay marriage is the law--libs will find something else

Now that gay marriage is the law of the land--liberals will have to find something else to use to label conservatives as bigoted neanderthals.

It won't take long for them to find it.

(Photos) Wild garlic blossoms and bulbils

One of the most captivating wildflowers that grows in Illinois is wild garlic (allium canadense).

It's hard to believe that each photo is of the same plant.

The wild garlic blossoms consists of six tepals and and six stamens. The half-inch sized blooms are pink bordering on white.

And ant nourishes on the right blossom.

Beneath this sack-like covering are bulbils.

The sack after it opened.

A jewel of the woodlands.

I'm not sure if this is the right term--but the bulbils are ripe here. Wild garlic is one of the possible plants that gave Chicago its name--Chicagoua--a Native American word for onion, although the wild leek is the most likely namesake for Illinois' largest city.

Wild garlic, like the wild leek, is a member of the lily family. This plant is one of the native wildflowers that grows in each of Illinois' 102 counties.

The photographs in this post were taken at St. Paul Woods in Morton Grove, Dam Number 4 Woods East in Des Plaines, and Dam Number 4 Woods South in Park Ridge.

Slaughter on the beach: At least 27 dead in Tunisia

Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, is clearly a very dangerous place. Gunmen there murdered at least 27 people at a hotel on the Mediterranean.

In related news, in what French police are calling a terrorist attack, a man was decapitated at an American-owned chemical company. Arabic writings were found on the head of the deceased.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Illinois: Republican reformer vetoes Democrats' unbalanced and unconstitutional budget

"Proposed expenditures shall not exceed funds estimated to be available for the fiscal year as shown in the budget." Illinois Constitution, Article VIII, Section 2.

The bad old days are ending in Springfield--thanks to reform governor Bruce Rauner.

From ABC News:
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bulk of the Illinois budget Thursday that the Democratic-controlled Legislature sent him, increasing the likelihood that some state services could be disrupted when the fiscal year begins next week.

The new governor, in constant battle with powerful lawmakers for six weeks, announced he had vetoed 19 budget bills because even Democrats acknowledge they fall short on revenue by $3 billion to $4 billion.

"For too long, the state of Illinois has made spending promises that exceed available revenues, relied on accounting gimmicks to make budgets appear balanced, used borrowing and cost deferral strategies to push costs into the future, and delayed payments to vendors," Rauner said in his veto message.

Never said by Hillary or Obama: "I am running for president of the greatest country in the world"

Yesterday it was Bobby Jindal's turn to announce that he's running for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. The Louisiana governor made this seemingly bold proclamation at during his official announcement: "I am running for president of the greatest country in the world."

That's something Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has never said.

Damned-fool mistake: SCOTUScare wins

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Of his appointment of stealth-liberal Earl Warren as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Dwight D. Eisenhower called it "the biggest damned-fool mistake I ever made."

George W. Bush also thought he named a conservative to that position. But John Roberts is a liberal like Warren.

In a 6-3 decision, Roberts' court voted to uphold the belief that the purposefully "tortured" language in the ObamaCare allows for taxpayer subsidies for federal insurance exchanges.

From Fox News:
Chief Justice John Roberts, who was the key vote in 2012, again voted with his liberal colleagues in support of the law. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a dissenter in 2012, was part of the majority on Thursday.

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.

Conservative-leaning justices, though, issued a scathing dissent to the decision, referencing the several times the high court has had to rule on the health law.

"We should just start calling this law SCOTUScare," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chicago Public Schools borrows over $1 billion--mostly to pay for pensions

Since any bonds issued by Chicago Public Schools are junk status--I wonder what rate CPS got for its massive loan?

From ABC 7 Chicago:
The Chicago Public School board has approved borrowing more than $1 billion for operating costs and its teacher pension payments.

The interim head of CPS put the district's financial woes in blunt terms at a meeting Wednesday night.

"Without the help of lawmakers in Springfield, we face the tough decision of paying our pension obligations or operating our schools at the caliber that we believe should be operated for our students," said Jessie Ruiz, interim CPS CEO.

The meeting, heavily-attended by parents, students, community groups and members of the Chicago Teachers Union, comes as the school board faces a Tuesday deadline to make a $634 million teacher pension payment.
A predessor of Ruiz is President Obama's secretary of education, Arne Duncan.

Hell of a job you've done, Arne. Great choice, Barry!

Loans, by the way, are supposed to be paid back. CPS is just kicking the can down the road.

Milkweed blossom

With another assist from Google Effects--I present to you a milkweed blossom.

Flashback: 2012 Dem convention in Charlotte held near Confederate markers

Sanctimonious Democrats are waving their righteous fingers in the direction of states from the South that continue to use the Confederate battle flag in various ways.

But in 2012 the Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, a city I visited that spring. Proceedings were held in the Time-Warner Cable Arena in Uptown. Also in Uptown is a historical plaque noting the site of the Confederate Navy Yard, and within a one block stretch of Tryon Street there are markers at the site of where the last meetings of Jefferson Davis' cabinet was held, where Davis learned of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, and the location of the home where Judah Benjamin, the final Confederate secretary of state, resided as the cabinet fled Union troops.

They're just a five minute walk from the Time-Warner Cable Arena. And Democratic politicians never complained.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

From Doug Ross: CLINTON CASH COMIX: Helpfully Illustrated for Democrats

Some people learn better with pictures. Which is why Doug Ross created this volume: CLINTON CASH COMIX: Helpfully Illustrated for Democrats.

Dirty tricks continue in IL18 against conservative Mike Flynn

Chillicothe, Illinois--18th District
The milquetoast Republican Party of Illinois feels threatened by the grassroots campaign by conservative champion Mike Flynn in the special primary election in Illinois' 18th Congressional District.

From Breitbart:
Speaking to Breitbart News Sunday, Big Government founding editor Mike Flynn, a conservative activist running for the seat vacated by Aaron Shock, recounted the ways the central Illinois GOP is trying to quash his candidacy.

Flynn says that, instead of making robocalls which can be recorded, supporters of his primary opponent Darin LaHood are conducting live calls and telling voters in the deeply conservative district that Flynn is a liberal Republican.

"They're saying I support amnesty, that I support banning hand guns," said Flynn. "They're not even testing the truth — they're just outright lying, wholesale."

Related posts:

Exclusive interview with Mike Flynn, candidate for Congress in Illinois' 18th District

IL18: Dirty trick pulled on conservative Mike Flynn

(Video) Morning Joe panel mocks White House for lies about Gruber's role in ObamaCare

Smug know-it-all Jonathan Gruber, who claimed--then not claimed--that he was the architect of the unpopular Obama Care law, appears to have right the first time according to recently revealed emails.

Watch as an MSNBC panel mocks the White House.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Flip-flop: Cook County prez wants to bring back "Stroger Tax" for pension bailout

Five years ago Toni Preckwinkle, a Chicago Democrat, was elected Cook County Board President after promising to roll back the one-percent increase in the county share of the sales tax that was instituted two years earlier by another Chicago Democrat, Todd Stroger--and that gave Chicagoans the highest sales tax of any major city. In suburban Cook--where I live--it was pretty high too.

Preckwinkle easily bested Stroger in the Democratic Primary in 2010.

Now Preckwinkle wants to bring back the hated "Stroger Tax."


From the Chicago Tribune:
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is trying to muster enough support to raise the sales tax by a penny on the dollar — an about-face on the key issue that propelled her into office.

The money would help shore up the pension system for county government workers and balance next year's budget. But getting nine of the 17 commissioners to vote for the sales tax hike could prove challenging, given the enormous backlash that unfolded in 2008 after the County Board increased the sales tax by 1 percentage point.

The move by then-Board President Todd Stroger led to his ouster in the 2010 Democratic primary, as Preckwinkle emerged from a crowded field after pledging to eliminate what remained of the unpopular tax hike. Preckwinkle ran a campaign ad in which she shook hands with an actor portraying Benjamin Franklin.
Three years ago at a downstate luncheon Preckwinkle said that Ronald Reagan deserved "a special place in hell" for his anti-drug policy. I'm sure she was shocked when her audience gasped. Not everyone is a Chicago liberal from Barack Obama's Hyde Park neighborhood.

But contemporary Republicans don't escape my scorn either. Preckwinkle ran unopposed last year.

Our nation has become one where people who don't have pensions--like me--pay for the pensions for those who do.

Oh, would you be surprised to learn that public-sector unions have been generous contributors to Preckwinkle's campaign fund?

Related post:

While bodies pile up at Cook County morgue, Preckwinkle praises Occupy crowd (VIDEO)

Maryland governor suffering from "very advanced and very aggressive" of cancer

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a lonely voice of sanity during April's Baltimore riots, has a new fight on his hands: he is suffering from late stage 3 non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which the Republican says is "very advanced and very aggressive."

Hogan says he will fight the disease. Let's up for a speedy recovery for him--and keep the governor in your prayers.

(Photo) Wild hyacinth

In Illinois wild hyacinth isn't a particularly common wildflower but I found one--just one--growing last month in the restored tallgrass prairie at Morton Grove, Illinois' Miami Woods.

The light-blue-bordering-on-white blossoms have six petals--actually they are tepals--with six distinctive long yellow stamens. Wild hyacinth is a member of the lily family.

Chiraq: 3 dead and at least 32 wounded over weekend

Father's Day weekend was bloody--and horrifying--in Chicago.

From Fox 32 Chicago:
Three men were killed — including a man who died shielding his mother from gunfire — and at least 32 others were wounded in weekend shootings as summer started in Chicago.

James Jones, 21, tried to protect his 46-year-old mother Alicia Jones on the front porch of their home when a gunman opened fire from a gangway about noon Saturday in the 8400 block of South Colfax, according to their family and authorities.

The man was dead at the scene, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner's office. His mother was in critical condition and undergoing surgery at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn Saturday night.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Warning: Global warming will shrink loaves of bread

Lake Michigan
Yes, loaves of bread are under assault from global warming, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Loaves will be smaller because of increased carbon dioxide in the air.

But what if more grain is used?

Forgive me for generalizing, but I suspect that climate change scientists are terrible cooks.

From Da Tech Guy: Blackhawks Cup win gives Chicagoans a respite from troubles

I look back at last week's Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup triumph in my weekly column at Da Tech Guy: Blackhawks Cup win gives Chicagoans a respite from troubles.

ILL-inois: Coach who left under cloud of allegations got $48K payout

University of Illinois Student Union
Once again my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is embarrassing itself. Mike Divilbiss, a women's assistant basketball coach who resigned amid allegations of ill-treament of players--received a $48,500 payout when he left the school.

From the News-Gazette:
The allegations about the basketball program arose in April, when the parents of several former players wrote letters to UI officials.

They alleged that Divilbiss and head coach Matt Bollant tried to create racial tension among the team, verbally abused and berated players on personal — not basketball — matters, tried to discourage players to the point of voluntary scholarship withdrawal and threatened to take players' scholarships. One family also alleged that their daughter was forced to play while struggling with cardiac problems and mononucleosis.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Failure: Chicago Public Schools may run out of money as school year begins

Dirksen School, Chicago's
Northwest Side
Yes, just as the school year begins, Chicago's floundering government schools may be out of cash.

From the Chicago Tribune:
This month's scramble by Chicago school officials to find enough cash to pay the bills is the result of "an appalling situation" years in the making — a cascading financial crisis that could hit classrooms this fall when nearly 400,000 kids return to school.

To pay the huge tab due to the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund, make payroll and cover other costs, the nation's third-largest school system would have to drain its checking account, max out its line of credit and burn cash set aside to pay other debts, according to outlines of school finances presented in city documents.

If CPS resorts to those steps, the district has no clear way to close next school year's $1 billion budget gap without teacher layoffs, increased class sizes and perhaps even a late opening of schools.

The district has for years put off finding a sustainable solution to its annual budget shortfalls, opting instead for tapping its rainy day fund and, under former Mayor Richard M. Daley, stiffing the pension fund for an entire decade.
President Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan, used to run Chicago Public Schools.

Monday: Reagan statue to be unveiled inside California capitol

Reagan statue,
Dixon, IL
Because of the greatness of his presidency, it's easy to overlook that for eight years Ronald Reagan was governor of America's most populous state.

From the Auburn (CA) Journal:
A labor of love for many, a bronze statue of California Gov. Ronald Reagan – and, oh yes, a U.S. president as well – will be unveiled at the Capitol in Sacramento on Monday, the culmination of three years of artistic effort by Auburn's own Doug Van Howd.

Since 2012, Van Howd has been working closely with the Reagan family and the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation to create a memorial statue to be placed in the Capitol's lower rotunda that seamlessly replicates the ex-president's character.

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, who turns 94 on July 6, is giving the project the presidential seal of approval – and a shout-out to Sacramento as a bonus. She’s been providing input to Van Howd on the minutiae of the creation, down to tie tacks and shoe styles.

"We worked hard during our years in Sacramento, but it was also our home, and we truly enjoyed it," Reagan said in a release leading up to the ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday. "I'm thrilled that my husband's statue will stand in such a prominent place, welcoming all who visit the State Capitol."
Related posts:

(Photo) False sunflower

When is a sunflower not a sunflower? When it's a false sunflower. While it's also a member of the aster family, both the ray and disk florets of heliopsis helianthoides produce seeds--while with true sunflowers only the disk florets make seeds.

You got it?

This wildflower was photographed at the Linne Woods restored tallgrass prairie in Morton Grove, Illinois.

Classic car: 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix

The 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix marked the end of an era for this now defunct General Motors division--'81 was the last year Pontiacs produced their own V8 engines for their cars. After that year if a Pontiac had an eight cylinder motor it came was a Chevrolet or an Oldsmobile engine. The fall of Pontiac was slow but predictable.

This brown coupe wasn't just a muscle car--it had luxury features such as bucket seats.

Related post:

Classic car: 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix

Friday, June 19, 2015

Least skipper butterfly on birdsfoot trefoil

I found a least skipper--a tiny orange and black butterfly--resting on birdsfoot trefoil here in Morton Grove yesterday.

Baltimore mayor to head national organization of mayors

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the failed mayor of Baltimore who granted "space to destroy" to her residents during April's riots--will collect an undeserved honor this weekend. She will be named the president of the US Conference of Mayors.

On the other hand, in consideration of the condition of most American cities, perhaps she does deserve this post.

Chiraq: 3 dead and at least 17 wounded since Thursday night

The joy from yesterday's Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade didn't spread to Chicago's South Side.

From the Chicago Tribune:
Three men were killed and at least 17 people have been wounded in shootings since Thursday evening across the city’s South Side, police said.

Nine people were shot in the Englewood neighborhood, and two fatal shootings happened within a mile of each other in the Chatham neighborhood.

Around 9:50 p.m., a 43-year-old man died after being shot in the West Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side, police said.

The man was wounded while walking near his home in the 6600 block of South Champlain Avenue, police said. He was hit in the abdomen, chest and hip and was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he later died, police said.
Englewood is where Spike Lee is filming his "Chiraq" movie. City officials are angry with Lee, telling him his film will portray Chicago in an inaccurate light. .

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Blackhawks fans boo Rahm at Stanley Cup rally

Rahm Emanuel got an earful today.

From NBC 5 Chicago:
Blackhawks fans sent a nasty message to Mayor Rahm Emanuel during the Stanley Cup victory rally at Soldier Field Thursday.

When the team's president and CEO, John McDonough, thanked "the great mayor of the city of Chicago" for putting on the production, fans in the audience booed loudly in response.

Emanuel, who was standing behind McDonough, appeared unfazed by the booing and laughed it off with Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley and the team's owner, Rocky Wirtz.

Fans expressed their disappointment when the city announced it would host the rally at Soldier Field instead of Grant Park, where it was held in 2013, due to rain earlier in the week. More than 2 million people attended the rally in 2013, but Soldier Field could only house around 60,000 people.
One odd thing about the NBC Chicago article. These are the fans who were able to attend the rally--not the ones left outside. Think about that.

(Video) Illinois Turnaround--Crossroads

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, who sits on a gerrymandered supermajority in Springfield, has been at his post for 30 of the last 32 years. The Chicagoan is also chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party--his daughter is the state attorney general.

However, Madigan has been blaming Illinois' new governor, Republican reformer Bruce Rauner, for the state's dire fiscal condition. The governor has been in office for a mere five months.

The Turnaround Illinois video puts things into the proper perspective.

Maniac who killed 9 at SC church arrested

A racist demon who shot nine blacks who were attending a prayer meeting at a Charleston, South Carolina church--including a state senator--has been captured in North Carolina.

From CBS Columbia:
The circumstances surrounding the arrest of Dylann Storm Roof, 21, have not been released yet. Shelby is located about an hour drive to the west of Charlotte.

Earlier in day, there was a heavy police presence seen in lower Richland County, South Carolina because Roof grew up in the area and has family here.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin also told WLTX that Roof has multiple family members in the greater Columbia area.

A Facebook page belonging to a Dylann Roof that matches the picture released by law enforcement said Roof at one time attended White Knoll High School in Lexington County.
Please pray for the victims.

Fabulist Brian Williams headed to MSNBC

Serial liar Brian Williams, who was suspended from the NBC Nightly News anchor desk earlier this year for his tall tales, will not return to that job. He's headed back to MSNBC--where he'll handle breaking news updates.

But he's not worthy to handle the morning farm report on Rural TV.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Latvian foreign minister: East-West relations at lowest point since Cuban missile crisis

Saulkrasti, Latvia
A Latvian official today produced more evidence that Hillary Clinton's "reset button" policy with Russia is a complete failure.

From Channel NewsAsia:
Russia's nuclear "sabre-rattling" and refusal to abide by the terms of a ceasefire in Ukraine have dragged East-West relations to their lowest level since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Thursday.

This week Russia announced it was adding 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal, placing further strain on relations between Moscow and the West, already tense over the Ukraine crisis.

Rinkevics, who has a lead role in EU diplomacy, told Reuters in an interview in Sydney that Russian statements about its willingness to use nuclear weapons were alarming.

"I think that what we are witnessing is unprecedented since 1962, since Cuban missile crisis," he said.
Related post:

On this day in 1940: Soviets seize Baltic States

(Photos) Lots of Ohio spiderworts

The wet spring of 2015 seems to have been kind to a beautiful wildflower, the Ohio spiderwort.

The blossoms of this Ohio spiderwort, which I photographed at Morton Grove's Miami Woods, are emerging from buds here.

The blossoms have blue petals with stamens with yellow tips. Another name for this plant is--wait for it--snotweed.

While the Ohio spiderworts usually grow in isolation, the can form colonies, particularly on roadsides and near railroad tracks. Kloempkin Prairie in Des Plaines, where I took this photograph, is adjacent to Golf Road and a busy rail line.

Idiocy: Montana board wants to name school after member of Congress who voted "No" on war declaration on Japan

The board of trustee for a Billings, Montana school district wants to name a school after the only member of Congress who voted against the war declaration on Japan in 1941.

From the Billings Gazette:
Trustees, though, were drawn to Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to U.S. Congress who holds the distinction of being the only representative to vote against involvement in both World Wars. Her named garnered the most votes on a community survey last month, but it was last among student preferences.

"I don't think we step back from the potential of controversy just because it's a (person's) name," trustee Janna Hafer said. "I think we at least consider it."

Earlier this year, the board chose to name the Heights middle school after Crow scholar and war hero Joseph Medicine Crow, despite the name's poor showing on public surveys. The decision to disregard the surveys and the recommendation of a volunteer committee drew criticism on social media and prompted a Heights group to formalize its grievances in a letter to the board.

Trustees on Tuesday spoke with admiration about Rankin's famous vote against WWII, addressing concerns that it might rouse anger among those who might consider it unpatriotic. The vote against declaring war on Japan in the wake of the attacks on Pearl Harbor drew harsh criticism from her political peers and effectively ended her political career.
Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States--Rankin voted "present" in the war declaration vote on those two Axis powers.

Rankin should have researched St. Augustine of Hippo's writings on a just war.

As for Joe Medicine Crow, he's a World War II hero--and a centenarian. Trustees: Make an old man happy and celebrate America's triumph over evil.

On this day in 1940: Soviets seize Baltic States

Soviet era bread line in Latvia
While historians might quibble of the exact date, it was on June 17, 1940 when the Red Army occupied the Baltic States--Estonia, Latvia, and Estonia. Today Occupation of the Latvian Republic Day is marked in the middle Baltic State.

Seventy-five summers later Russian president Vladimir Putin--despite Hillary Clinton's "reset button" diplomacy with Russia, is making hostile gestures to these small nations, which are as much of a threat to Russia as a squirrel is to a tiger.

Sadly, we live in a dangerous world. Again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Black-eyed susan blossom bud

Black-eyed susans are starting to emerge in the Chicago area.

Here's bud opening up in Morton Grove's Miami Woods.

(Video) Let the Iowa 2016 Games Begin! Roger Simon Goes Hawkeye

PJTV's Roger L. Simon journeyed to Iowa to cover the run up to the 2016 presidential race.

Here is report.

Hillary's reset button: Putin adding 40 nukes

In 2009, Hillary offered "a reset button" to the Russians. Since then, Vladimir Putin has seized Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine and made provocative moves toward the Baltic States.

And now there is this:

From Reuters:
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said on Tuesday that Russia would add more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal this year and a defence official accused Nato of provoking a new arms race.

Putin made his announcement a day after Russian officials denounced a US plan to station tanks and heavy weapons in NATO states on Russia's border as the most aggressive US act since the Cold War.

"More than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles able to overcome even the most technically advanced anti-missile defence systems will be added to the make-up of the nuclear arsenal this year," Mr Putin, flanked by army officers, said in a speech to a military and arms fair.

Monday, June 15, 2015

CBS: Global warming causes polar bear to eat dolphin

2015 Super Bowl Sunday
Blizzard in Illinois
Does CBS really expect me to believe that this has never happened before?
Faced with a rapidly changing habitat, polar bears are adapting with a new entrée: For the first time, a polar bear was seen preying on a white-beaked dolphin carcass that had been trapped in the ice in Svalbard, a group of Norwegian islands in the Arctic Ocean.

In April 2014, a male polar bear with a full belly was spotted near a recently devoured white-beaked dolphin, which could have weighed 120 to 680 lbs. (54 to 308 kilograms) and measured 5 to 9 feet long (1.5 to 2.7 meters), the researchers said in an article published online June 1 in the journal Polar Research. The bear was also seen with another white-beaked dolphin's thawing carcass, which he was likely saving for a later meal.

These dolphins rarely venture so far north in the Arctic; they prefer the sub-Arctic, which has less sea ice and more open water. "If it had been a more usual sea-ice year, I do not think the dolphins would have been that far north in the spring," said Jon Aars, primary author of the study and a research scientist at the Norwegian Polar Institute. [See Stunning Photos of the Polar Bears Eating Dolphins on Svalbard]
So, because of global warming, dolphins are swimming farther north and getting trapped in ice.


(Photos) Foxglove beardtongue wildflowers

Miami Woods in Morton Grove, Illinois is filled with foxglove beardtounge, also known as foxglove penstemon, a member of the snapdragon family.

The flower clusters appear mostly white.

But sometimes there is a pinkish-purpleish tinge.

There are a whole lot of foxglove beardtounges here.

Fewer in this view--I only included it because I like the clouds in this one.

Chiraq: 4 dead and at least 22 wounded over weekend

Spike Lee's next movie "Chiraq" is being filmed on Chicago's South Side. Meanwhile, in the real Chiraq it was another bloody weekend. Four people were murdered--including a man who was selling socks outside of a North Side Target store--and at least 22 others were wounded in shootings.

The fatal stabbing occurred in the Uptown neighborhood. The socks stabbing is the seventh homicide in that North Side neighborhood--which is two more than last year.