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Archive for December, 2014

AirAsia Flight 8501 – Risky Environment and Yet Another Example of Need for Deployable Recorders and Satellite Tracking Systems for Airlines

Posted by Admin On December - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS


By Robert A. Clifford

Senior Partner, Clifford Law Offices in Chicago

AirAsia Flight 8501 was cruising at high altitude in an area of the world that has a reputation not only for high accident rates (3 times that of North America), but also for severe thunderstorm activity at altitudes that can exceed the ceilings of any airliner.  Air traffic control (ATC) voice recordings reportedly show the pilots had asked for diversion around a storm cell but ATC denied that request.  Minutes later, the airplane disappeared from radar screens and remained lost for 2 days until today’s discovery of floating wreckage and bodies.

Flight at high altitudes in thunderstorms poses dangerous system, flight control, and structural overload risks for airliners.  The most prudent course of action is to avoid these weather cells entirely by changing course, if possible.  However, some pilots try to climb over them, adding to the risk of an accident due to decreased safety margins and pilot inexperience in upset recovery at high altitudes and high speeds.  Airplane systems can also malfunction, especially in severe weather environments, and Airbus models including this one have had their share including recent events that prompted mandatory Airworthiness Directives from safety regulators just this month.

While the cause of the crash of AirAsia Flight 8501 remains undetermined it is once again clear that there are two existing technologies that would help prevent such airliner disappearance – albeit only 2 days of disappearance in this case – and that they should be required as soon as possible on all airliners world-wide.  The world is growing tired of watching families cry and wait for word from airlines and governments regarding the whereabouts of the large jet airplane their loved ones were flying on.

First, deployable recorders that jettison upon impact, float, and transmit their position to satellites world-wide, would assure location of the recorder with flight data and cockpit voice recordings within hours of a crash anywhere in the world, including remote ocean locations.  Deployable recorders such as those made by DRS Technologies have been installed on military airplanes, including variants of commercial airplanes such as the Boeing 707 and 737, for over 50 years.  And since the 9/11 terrorist tragedy, Congress has been funding various deployable recorder studies and demonstrations that show deployable recorders are ready to go for commercial airliners.

The commercial aviation industry and relevant government agencies have completed the required technical standards for deployable recorders for commercial airliners.  So now we just need the NTSB to recommend the use of deployable recorders to the FAA and for FAA to require them on all US airliners.  And ICAO should make them a recommended practice for airliners of all signatory nations.

Second, satellite asset tracking devices, some of which cost less than $100 to purchase and less than $150 per year in tracking service fees per asset/airplane, would allow authorities and owners to track airliners anywhere in the world on Google Maps from a smart phone, laptop, or desktop computer.  These devices, such as the SPOT Trace from Globalstar, can be hidden inside airliners to prevent tampering, operate off battery power for weeks after losing airplane power, and work anywhere in the world.  SPOT satellite tracking devices have been in use for tracking boats, cars, people, private airplanes, and other assets for many years.

So with a SPOT Trace on AirAsia Flight 8501, AirAsia and government authorities would have known its flight path from takeoff to the end in almost real-time.  And while FAA certification and standards development will add time and cost to these systems, the need and usefulness are obvious and justify the effort.  So as with deployable recorders, we now just need the NTSB to recommend their use to the FAA and for FAA to require them on all US airliners.  And ICAO should make them a recommended practice for airliners of all signatory nations.

Robert A. Clifford is  a senior partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago. He has handled and led litigation on behalf of aviation crash victims nationally and internationally for three decades.

To speak to these experienced aviation accident attorneys about this incident, please contact senior Partner Robert A. Clifford at 312-899-9090 or Communications Partner Pamela  Menaker at 847-721-0909 or email: pammenaker@aol.com

No Jury, No Trial, No Justice – An Indictment of the U.S. Justice System

Posted by Admin On December - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

By Verla Wiley

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) – Like Michael Brown and Eric Garner, I am African American. The circumstances involving the deaths of these two young men are horrendous as are the unconscionable efforts made to avoid a proper hearing in each case. Unfortunately, Brown and Garner made the ultimate sacrifice in a system that is deeply flawed. Instead of utilizing the more open and transparent public preliminary hearing process, secret grand juries failed to indict the police officer responsible for the shooting death of 18 year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the officer in Staten Island, New York, for the choke hold death of 43 year old Eric Garner. Since the deaths of these African American men and others, people across the country have been protesting against racial profiling, excessive police force and the failure of the criminal justice system to hold those responsible, accountable for their actions.

For the last 15 years, I have also been denied the right to a public trial by jury. Ive been forced to file three consecutive separate, but related civil rights complaints (1999-2014), because of the denial by the courts to rule in favor of my 7th Amendment right to a jury trial in any of cases.

In May 2005, I retired after thirty-nine years of service from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, (BBG) as an International Radio Broadcaster in the Africa Division of the Voice of America, the largest BBG network. I continued my service after retirement as a union volunteer vice president with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE Local 1812). I have now been associated with the BBG for over 45 years.

Like the police officers, the BBG is known for the harsh treatment of its people. For the last ten years, the BBG has ranked at or near the bottom in surveys conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), as one of the worst-managed agencies in the federal government.

On December 05, 2011, I filed a Pro Se, “Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial”, a personal civil rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court. My complaint alleged discriminatory and retaliatory treatment, as well as constitutional violations of my First Amendment right to freedom of speech and assembly, Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches, Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the law, and Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial. At the center of the discriminatory treatment were several measures designed to restrict my access and nullify my rights, including my right to exercise my personal choice to work in the field of advocacy work.

Just as the Brown and Garner cases were diverted to a grand jury instead of a public jury trial, my civil rights lawsuit was redirected to an administrative process by Judge Robert Wilkins via the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). The case centers around a restrictive Black-Codes-like “Building Access” policy the BBG created especially to implement against me. “Black Codes” were laws passed by southern states in the 1860s after the Civil War, restricting African Americans freedoms. I am the only retiree, (African American), that the policy was rigidly enforced against; the policy did not apply to Caucasian union retirees, who were similarly situated.

The Complaint included a litany of discriminatory, retaliatory and harassing actions with the intent to restrict my movement around the building. In March 2006, the BBG terminated the agreement that allowed retired union officials unfettered access into the Cohen Building. I am the only retiree who could no longer use the retired identification badge to gain entry into the building… I was forced to daily sign in as a visitor and be photographed… be escorted at all times, even to the restroom and cafeteria… subjected to invasive body searches of a sexual nature… required to complete security forms designated only for prospective employees… followed around the Cohen Building by security guards… deemed a “security risk”… and placed under surveillance, inside and outside the Cohen Building. When these BBG actions did not discourage me from coming into the building, an unsigned memo titled “Building Access” dated August 24, 2004, outlining the above restrictions was given only to me.

A hearing was held on July 22, 2013, and I expected Judge Wilkins to set a trial date since the BBG did not address my allegations. Instead, the judge issued an ORDER for the parties to address several FLRA cases researched by the court to establish whether I could file an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge as a non-employee. The judge ignored the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statutes (FSLMRS), which cover employees only. I told the court that I am not an employee of the union nor the BBG. The union could not file a ULP because I am not in the bargaining unit nor can I file as a union official on my own behalf. The court was the only avenue I had to address my personal lawsuit.

Judge Wilkins told me that the cases he researched allowed me to file a ULP charge as a non-employee. However, none of the cases he researched were filed with the FLRA by a non-employee representative, therefore, the case review exercise did nothing to disprove my position or strengthen the argument for dismissal of my case. One case Judge Wilkins used to dismiss my lawsuit, National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) v. Social Security Administration (D.C. Circuit 1992), was invalidated by the AFGE Assistant General Counsel who helped litigate the case. The General Counsel pointed out that the case had nothing to do with discussing the rights of non-employees to enter onto agency premises, but instead involved the labor union, NTEU, the charging party in the ULP charge.

Hearing transcripts indicate there was no intention of reviewing my case in a light favorable to me. When asked about my status by Judge Wilkins, BBG Counsel agreed with me and argued several times that under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and 5 U.S.C. 7116, Ms. Wiley had no rights, and that a ULP can only be pursued by a union or a current employee. Judge Wilkins continued to ask leading questions until the BBG reversed its position stating the Agency believes that Ms. Wiley does have standing to file its complaint, but the agency would respond that it is not a ULP.

The Brown grand jury hearing transcripts show that prosecutors asked police officer Darren Wilson leading questions designed to strengthen his self-defense claim. A prosecutor told Wilson, “You felt like your life was in jeopardy,” followed by, “And use of deadly force was justified at that point, in your opinion?” The transcripts also show that prosecutors did not ask for an indictment regarding Wilson. Instead, they acted as Wilsons defense attorney and challenged witnesses who contradicted the police officers testimony.

The evidence shows that my case is not an unfair labor practice nor union grievance issue. It is “personal animus” against an African American for advocacy work, and perpetuated in a way that effectively disguises that motive in a cloak of “internal security” that complicates the situation. I describe the situation as D.A.W.W.B. – Doing Advocacy Work While Black.” United States Attorney General Eric Holder recently gave a speech at Morgan State University about “racial inequality” and the recent public episodes of racial bigotry in which he said that it should not obscure the greater damage done by more systemic forms of prejudice and discrimination. The Attorney General warned that if we concentrate on that, “we are likely to miss the more hidden, and the more troubling reality behind the headlines. ”

The Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, without due process of law. Judge Wilkins now joins a chorus of court judges who have used the 7th Amendment as a Sword of Damocles above my head. My pursuit of a jury trial began in Chief Judge Thomas Hogans court in April 1999. It has been an expensive, costly endeavor. The Complaint, including filings with the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, lasted for almost ten years (1999-2008), before it was closed without a jury trial. The racial/sex discrimination case was re-opened in March 2014, to address a Transcript Redaction Notice.

In 2009, the discrimination and retaliation continued. I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in Judge Ellen Segal Huvelles courtroom. Documents confirm that the BBG considers me a “security risk.” I sought more documents to find out the underlying reason/s why, so that I can address the allegations. Judge Huvelle eventually granted summary judgment to the BBG, however, my lawyer, who is Caucasian, collected attorney fees, which is unusual when the client does not prevail. (2009-2010)

On September 16, 2013, Judge Wilkins granted summary judgment to the BBG and once again I was denied a jury trial (2011-2014). There were nine counts. Count 7 was dismissed with prejudice for lack of jurisdiction. The remaining 8 constitutional counts were dismissed without prejudice for failing to exhaust administrative remedies. Instead of recognizing the constitutional issues in my personal lawsuit, the court reduced the matter to that of an administrative practice which is completely violative of its judicial responsibility under Article III. Filing a ULP would have been untimely and irrelevant to my right to seek redress from the District Court for blatant and indefensible violations of my constitutionally-protected rights. On August 29, 2014, I filed a “Complaint of Judicial Misconduct” against Judge Wilkins, who, after three years serving as U.S. District Court Judge, was appointed on January 15, 2014, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The July and September 2013 transcripts shows what I believe to be unethical behavior; that the court acted as judge, jury and co-counsel for the defense. I made a request to the Judicial Council of the District of Columbia Circuit to investigate my allegations as well as the relevance and authenticity of the cases Judge Wilkins used to dismiss my case on a technicality for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

My experiences over the years as a civil rights and union activist taught me that the courts, attorneys and the BBG have used various techniques to prevent citizens from obtaining justice because they are African American or minorities who stand up for their rights, as well as advocates like myself who protect the rights of all people. My advocacy work not only caused the removal of abusive BBG managers throughout the years, but encounters with self-serving attorneys caused me to dismiss them for misrepresentation and misconduct; one attorney was eventually disbarred, another had to reimburse for missed deadlines and non-appearance at hearings, two others tried to force inadequate settlements; and yet another redirected the focus of my allegations on race and sex discrimination, and the case was dismissed.

With regard to my current 2011 Complaint, I subsequently filed an appeal on October 10, 2013. The Court of Appeals not only upheld the District Courts decision, but denied my requests for an Oral or En Banc hearing. In July 2014, the court issued the dismissal based on my submissions to the court, which is a violation of my First Amendment right to be heard. Several questions having direct relevance based on the errors of the District Court were presented to the appeals court who ignored the issues and did not honor its legal requirement to provide comprehensive and conclusive description about each question or error presented.

A review of my attempts for the last 15 years to obtain due process reveal that the Jim Crow laws of the past are still alive today within the halls of justice. The right to a public jury trial is recognized as a fundamental civil right under Article III of the United States Constitution. Yet, the manipulation of the justice system that works to ensure that justice for all is denied, serves to reduce the words “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER THE LAW” that appear above the United States Supreme Court Building to mere rhetoric, and reinforces the belief concerning the exclusion of justice for people of color. The 15 years that I have waited for fair exercise of my 7th Amendment right to a jury trial, and unencumbered exercise to the fundamental right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, serves to erode the premise of those words etched along the highest court in the United States.

In an amicus brief filed by the Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago, Inc., (Grutter v. Bollinger) regarding the University of Michigan and racial preferences, they point out that “The Supreme Court itself had a major role in framing the issues and shaping the impact of race in this country through its decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, and Plessy v. Ferguson, among others. As those cases demonstrates, not even this court was immune from discriminating against African Americans in this country. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that no segment of American society has been immune from the legacy of discrimination that began with the institution of slavery and continues today in other forms.”

Understanding our Black History is what helped me through these painful years. I have experienced what it feels like to be detained as the legacy of slavery and the Black Codes-like policy in its implementation restricted my movement in the Cohen Building of the Broadcasting Board of Governors where the union office is located. My Caucasian colleagues were never exposed to demeaning security searches conducted pursuant to a “policy” that opened the door to sexually harassing contact with my person. They did not have to continually consider the looming threat that I had to fear in terms of security following me around the building and the possibility of being taken out in a humiliating fashion for failing to obtain an escort. Fear of the possibility of being unceremoniously escorted out of the building still haunts me, and has caused me to reduce my trips to the Cohen Building. Instead, I often remain at home and participate in union meetings via telephone conference, and communicate with employees via email and telephone about any negative situation they may be facing.

The Cohen Building itself embodies a piece of American history dating back to the segregation era. There are many restrooms located in close proximity to each other. The larger restrooms once carried a sign on the door, “WHITE ONLY” and the smaller restrooms read, “COLORED ONLY.” The signs have been taken down. But I am being told in this day and age that I cannot go to either restroom without an escort.

My only infraction of the rules was that I tried to help somebody, and in doing so the situation escalated into a matter of “national security.” The evidence shows that the courts displayed dishonesty and improper motives when all of my lawsuits were dismissed without giving a jury the opportunity to hear my valid civil rights and constitutional claims.

Dorian Johnson was given the opportunity to be heard, but his eyewitness account was not believed in the Brown grand jury proceedings. Mr. Johnson was at the scene and saw his friend, Michael Brown, gunned down. He provided testimony rebutting police officer, Darren Wilsons claim that he was defending his life against a deranged aggressor. A review of Black History and the justice system in this country bears witness to the fact that the court system is more likely to believe the testimony of a white person more so than a black person. Wilson was allowed to give four hours of self-serving testimony at the grand jury proceedings to support his self-defense claims.

If the prosecuting attorneys had filed charges against the police officers in the Brown, Garner and other similar cases, a preliminary hearing would have occurred and steps would have been taken to protect the rights of all who were involved. What the public saw in these situations was the criminal justice system at its worst.

As the voices from the past speak out to us, we have to keep fighting, we have to keep marching, protecting and protesting, because who will save us, but us.

HANDS UP! DONT SHOOT! I CANT BREATHE!

Verla Wiley is a Civil Rights & Union Advocate. She can be reached at 301-538-1945 or vmwiley@aol.com

The War in Afghanistan Formally Ends, The War Informally Goes On

Posted by Admin On December - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The War in Afghanistan Formally Ends, The War Informally Goes On

New America Media, Question & Answer
By Andrew Lam

On Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, US led forces formally ended the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history. Some 18,000 foreign troops,  and about 10,600 of them American, however, are staying under the terms of two security pacts the Afghan government signed with the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The war formally ended but the war informally continues. Fariba Nawa is an Afghan-American journalist and author of  “Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan.” She was interviewed by NAM editor, Andrew Lam.

NAM: The US and NATO forces formally ended the war in Afghanistan but still have troops there. So what does it really mean, both for Afghanistan and the US?

End of U.S. combat means that fewer American lives will be lost in Afghanistan and less American money spent, but Afghans will continue to die, even more now because they no longer have the support of foreign troops.

The war officially ended but the news barely covered the event. Why is Afghanistan not on American mind, despite it being the longest war the US ever fought and cost us over a trillion dollars?

The American mind rarely holds on to any news longer than a week in this era of social media and gluttony of information. The bigger papers and outlets covered it but it was buried. For those who care about Afghanistan, they’ll find the news. Unfortunately, Americans care more about Kim Kardashian’s next shenanigan than the end of a war. As far as some Americans are concerned, the war ended when bin Laden was assassinated in 2011. The killing satisfied America’s appetite for what some might consider justice and others revenge. Then it was time to move on. The American narratives on Afghanistan can be summarized in three categories.

1-The Racists: Afghans are too barbaric to be saved by us, so let’s get out of there and let them kill each other. We’ve been there too long already.

2-The Isolationists: The U.S. needs to stop invading other countries and pretending to save them. We have enough problems at home to take care of before we help others.

3- The War Mongers: The U.S. war in Afghanistan should continue indefinitely until the Taliban and all other enemies are defeated.

As with Iraq, the US continues its military engagement long after it declared the war over, and in fact, expanding its airstrikes into Syria. On the ground, the war rages on in Afghanistan. And in Kabul we saw an increase in violence in recent months. What are the people of Afghanistan hoping to see happens next? WIll the war continues unimpeded?

The people of Afghanistan want simple things: jobs, security, education. More of them have jobs and an education now than they did before the U.S. and NATO intervention in 2001. For those who have advanced, especially for women, they hope to hold onto to what they gained. The fear is that women will lose their rights again. But Afghanistan and Pakistan are intimately linked, and Afghans are watching to see what Pakistan does to the Taliban now after the Taliban Peshawar attack on the army high school, which killed more than a hundred children.

Many Afghans rightly believe that Pakistan wants to control Afghan affairs, and will seize the opportunity now that Western troops are only there for training and special ops. Pakistan has trained the Taliban throughout the last 20 years, and that training has created a monster on its own soil. The fate of Afghanistan is partially in the hands of Pakistan’s government. The new Afghan president Ashraf Ghani is trying to root out corruption but the odds are against him in the face of broader geopolitics of the region. If Pakistan seriously tackles the Taliban on both sides of the border, then perhaps Afghanistan will enjoy a less turbulent future. I’m skeptical.

The Taliban declared that they have “defeated” the US and its allies. How much should we give credence to this declaration?

The old adage that there are no winners in war comes to mind. No side was defeated and no side has won. Most Afghans do not want the Taliban back, so they haven’t won the support of the people, and they’re not recognized as the official government. The war still goes on. The only change is that the U.S. has decided to sit on the bench instead of play in the field still. The war continues between Afghanistan’s armed forces against the Taliban, who most likely are still supported by Pakistan and the Gulf countries.

What is missing in the US coverage of the war in Iraq in your opinion?

More coverage of different sides. All I’ve been reading in my newsfeed is ISIS killing Americans, killing Yazidis and enslaving their girls and why foreign fighters join ISIS. What about the rest of Iraq? News nowadays has social media cheerleaders — if the article appeals to Western values, it goes viral. In the process, other viewpoints and angles are lost.

You wrote about war lords, child brides, and the drug trades in your book, “Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords, and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan,” and how drugs have really damaged the lives of the Afghan people. How has the the situation changed since your book was published in 2011?

The drug trade is booming. Counter narcotics programs have failed and officials in the government and the insurgency continue to benefit from the trade. Afghan addiction is on the rise. Since my book was published, a few drug lords were arrested but most of them bribed their way out in Kabul. I know of four Afghan kingpins extradited and convicted in the U.S. but their drug rings continue to flourish. The drug trade will not go away unless sustainable economic alternatives take its place, and the war actually ends.

As someone who was from Afghanistan and who is passionate about your homeland, what are you hoping as the best scenario for the country?

The current government will prevail, confront corruption, bring some level of economic prosperity and bridge the gap between the rural and urban divide, support endeavors that confront human rights, including women’s rights. I’d like to think that if the new generation of Afghans unite against ethnic schisms and corruption, there’s a chance for the country to move forward. But it’ll take time, perhaps decades.


Some stories written by Fariba Nawa for New America Media:

Taliban Talks Frigten Afghan Americans

What the Bronze Medal Means for Afghanistan

Reports of Violence Against Afghan Women are Sign of Change

Attorney General Madigan Applauds Governor’s Action on Bill to Stop Pension Benefits for Felons

Posted by Admin On December - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan applauded Gov. Pat Quinn for signing into law a bill drafted by her office to stop taxpayer-funded pension payments to public employees convicted of felonies related to their public service.

Senate Bill 2809 gives the Attorney General’s Office the authority to file a civil action to stop payment of pension benefits to public employees who have been convicted of a felony related to their employment. Madigan’s office drafted the law, sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul and Rep. Elaine Nekritz, in response to an Illinois Supreme Court decision preventing the Attorney General from suing to stop pension payments to Jon Burge, a former Chicago Police commander convicted of lying about his knowledge of and participation in torture and abuse of suspects.

“This legislation will ensure the state can challenge pension decisions that are not in the best interests of taxpayers,” Madigan said.

Madigan filed a lawsuit in 2011 following a decision by the Retirement Board of the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago to allow Burge to continue receiving his pension benefits despite his felony convictions. Madigan’s lawsuit against Burge and the Retirement Board was based on the Illinois Pension Code provision that prohibits the payment of benefits to any person convicted of a felony relating to, arising out of or in connection with his service as a policeman.

Earlier this year, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the current statute did not allow Madigan’s office to bring the lawsuit. Senate Bill 2809 was drafted in response to that decision to clarify that the Attorney General’s Office has the authority to file suit to protect taxpayers when a public employee who has been convicted of a felony related to his or her employment is receiving taxpayer-funded pension benefits. The law will take effect on June 1, 2015.

Raoul: New Law Protects Privacy, Freedom to Record Police

Posted by Admin On December - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) hailed the signing of eavesdropping reforms he and State Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Buffalo Grove) sponsored as a victory for privacy, free speech and accountability.

“After the court struck down our criminal eavesdropping law, putting Illinoisans’ privacy at risk, Rep. Nekritz and I made changes that affirm the right to record police and other officials while safeguarding private conversations,” Raoul said. “Today these efforts have borne fruit, and I’m confident we now have a law that’s constitutional and commonsense and doesn’t interfere with the basic American freedom to hold law enforcement accountable.”

For 51 years, eavesdropping was a crime in Illinois – with no exception for recording police officers performing their official duties in public.  In fact, the legislature increased the penalty for eavesdropping on a police officer or public official – as opposed to a private citizen – in 2000. In a 2012 case, ACLU v. Alvarez, a federal appeals court ordered the Cook County State’s Attorney to stop prosecuting people for recording police in public, holding that officers have no expectation of privacy when interacting with the public in the course of their official duties.

In March, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the entire Illinois Eavesdropping Act. No state law prevented people from spying on each other and circulating recordings of private conversations. Raoul and Nekritz introduced legislation to close the loophole, working closely with the ACLU to make sure the proposal did nothing to curb the right to record police. In a statement, ACLU public policy director Ed Yohnka clarified that the new law doesn’t ban recording police in public and follows the model used in federal law and in most other states when it establishes that listening to or recording a conversation is only a crime when a participant has a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

“If Michael Brown and Eric Garner had died in Illinois, our prior laws would have prohibited recording those encounters, but the law signed today would protect the right to document the events surrounding their deaths,” Raoul said. “Whenever citizens expose police misconduct or excessive force, our society gets a little closer to living up to its ideals. I encourage Illinois residents to exercise their right to record.”

During the upcoming legislative session, Raoul and Nekritz will work on passing a statewide protocol for the use of officer-worn cameras so departments can take advantage of federal matching funds to record more encounters between law enforcement and the public.

The Lira Ensemble Sends its Condolences to the Migala Family Following the Passing of Estelle Migala

Posted by Admin On December - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
ESTELLE (STANISLAWA) MIGALA
1916-2014

Estelle Migala (nee Suwala) died quietly, of natural causes, at her home in Antioch, Illinois on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at the age of 98.

Mrs. Migala was the first donor and supporter of the Lira Singers, co-founded by her daughter Lucyna. The performing company composed of a symphony orchestra, singers and dancers is now known as the Lira Ensemble and is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Mrs. Migala was an advisor to the company for most of those 50 years.

Estelle Migala is survived by three daughters and one son – Barbara Holtzinger, Lucyna Migala (wife of Frank Cizon), George Migala (husband of Grzazyna), Krista Dinges – as well as 6 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren. A fourth daughter, Diana Maria Migala passed away earlier this year.

Visitation will take place from 10-11am at St. Ladislaus Church, 5345 West Roscoe (church entrance is on Long Avenue) followed by a funeral Mass this Saturday, January 3, 2014.

The family sincerely requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Jesuit Millennium Center, 5835 West Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60634.

The Lira Ensemble

Health Club Complaints Climb for Second Straight Year Reports the Better Business Bureau

Posted by Admin On December - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – December 30, 2014- Every year the number one resolution made by individuals is to get in shape. That’s a boon for health clubs but can be a boondoggle for those who choose to join.

In the past two years, national complaints have grown 20%, topping 8,000 last year alone. The complaints range from billing and collection issues to overall unhappiness with the contract.

“The number of complaints filed show that the negative issues that surround gym memberships show no sign of change,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “Picking the best gym or fitness center for your personal interests can be a difficult choice, so check each one’s rating on the BBB website. It’s important to do careful research before making a final decision and signing on the dotted line.”

Five questions to ask the gym:

1. What are the terms of any introductory offers? Gyms often use special introductory offers to lure in new members. Make sure you understand the terms and what the price will be once the introductory period is over.

2. Will my membership renew automatically? Many times people who join a gym don’t realize that their contract renews automatically and that they would have to take specific steps to cancel their contract.

3. How can I get out of my contract? Getting out of a gym contract isn’t always as easy as getting into one, so make sure you understand what steps you would need to take to cancel your membership.

4. What happens if I move? Gyms have any number of different policies when it comes to how moving will affect your membership. It might depend on how far away you’re moving and if they have other locations nearby.

5. What happens if the gym goes out of business? Ask the gym to explain what will happen to your money if they suddenly close down.

Five questions to ask yourself when looking at potential gyms/health clubs:

1. What are my fitness goals? Determining your fitness goals in advance will help you select a facility that is most appropriate for you. If you have a serious health condition, consult with a medical professional when setting your fitness goals.

2. Is this location convenient? If the gym is across town, you’ll be less likely to work out. Choose a fitness club that is convenient to work or home so the location is not a deterrent to getting exercise.

3. Can I really afford this every month? Monthly gym fees add up and, after any introductory periods are over, the price could jump higher than your budget can handle. Do the math before you join and make sure you can afford a gym membership.

4. Am I feeling pressured to join? Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, and make an informed decision.

5. Did I get everything in writing? Read the contract carefully and make sure that all verbal promises made by the salesperson are in writing.  What matters is the document you sign, so don’t just take a salesperson’s word for it.

For more information on scams, visit www.bbb.org, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

African American Designer Releases Unique Smartphone Tripod

Posted by Admin On December - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Comes with a bluetooth remote that allows you to take amazing hands-free selfies and videos

Vincent Smith, creator of Popscope

Miami, FL (BlackNews.com) — “Trying with no luck to take a full body selfie at arms length before going out to send to a friend, I thought if I could set my phone on a small tripod that would work. I searched but, could not find a product that could accomplish that. This lead me to think how can I design something?” says Vincent Smith, inventor/CEO of the Popscope.

Popscope is a super portable compact tripod & monopod mount that works with virtually any smartphone. The devoice helps smartphone users extend their reach to get pictures never thought possible. Designed with portability and ease of use in mind, Popscope goes from 19 inches and collapses down to 6.49 inches with a swivel head allowing for a 90 degree bend, this device allows you to get the right amount of reach to get that perfect shot “over a crowd” or with a background.

With an innovative design, Popscope allows users to go hands-free and video chat, make personal videos, capture amazing vacation shots or recording yourself playing sports. Fitness lovers male & female will enjoy Popscope. Users no longer have to rest your phone on the floor or chair to use a fitness app.

A Bluetooth remote is included to make taking pictures from a distant a breeze. Last, but not least, it comes in a full range of attractive, bright colors.

Smith comments, “We pride this device on being versatile, compact and incredibly useful. We’ve nailed this concept as it fits most all phones, and is extremely easy to carry.”

This device is lightweight & durable, so it allows you to do the “unthinkable” such as: take pictures while you are with your friends any and everywhere without someone taking them for you.

Popscope was recently funded on crowd-funding site Kickstarter, and has been mentioned in such magazines and media websites as People, Frommers, Brash, Examiner and more with numerous glowing product reviews. Currently available at www.Popscope.net for $39.99 includes Bluetooth remote. Popscope will be launching into retail at the Atlanta Gift Show January 8th 2015.
Watch the YouTube video to see how the product works:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=3w_qJ1QGfDo
For more information, or to feature Popscope in your outlet, please contact Vincent Smith at Vincent@Popscope.net

Photo Caption: Vincent Smith, creator/inventor of Popscope


Tell Speaker of the House John Boehner: “It’s Unacceptable for the Number Three Republican in the House to Pander to White Supremacists…” – Sign The Petition

Posted by Admin On December - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
The number three Republican in the House did what?

Tell Speaker of the House John Boehner:
“It’s unacceptable for the number three Republican in the House to pander to white supremacists. Remove Rep. Steve Scalise from his leadership position as House Majority Whip immediately.”

Add your name:

Sign the petition â–º
Republicans must disavow white supremacy

News just broke that Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise gave a speech to a well-known group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in 2002. Scrambling for cover, Rep. Scalise has offered various excuses to explain away his actions, but the facts speak for themselves. As a 36-year-old aspiring politician in Louisiana, he made a choice to speak to a hate group led by David Duke, America’s most famous white supremacist.

Scalise’s pandering to white supremacists is appalling. But instead of taking action to remove Scalise from leadership, House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have stood behind him, confirming Scalise’s position as the number three Republican in the House.

House Republicans must disavow the white supremacy movement. Tell Speaker Boehner to remove Rep. Steve Scalise from his Republican leadership position immediately. Click here to sign the petition.

When reports of the speech first surfaced, Scalise initially claimed that he didn’t know the European-American Unity and Rights Organization was a white supremacist group. It’s a claim that holds little water given David Duke’s notoriety in his home state of Louisiana and nationally. It’s also clear that the conference caused a widely reported controversy for the hotel where it was being held. A hotel official disavowed the group’s beliefs and a minor league baseball team from Iowa moved to a different hotel to avoid being affiliated with the hate group.1

Speaker Boehner would like people to think of Scalise’s actions as a one-time mistake from the distant past. But Scalise has had other chances to distance himself from Duke’s positions on white supremacy and has made himself more than clear. In 1999 he was interviewed about Duke by Roll Call. Rather than denounce Duke’s hate, he claimed to embrace many of Duke’s “conservative” views but declared himself more electable.2 In 2004, Scalise was one of only six state representatives to vote against making Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a state holiday in Louisiana.

Speaker Boehner has presided over a House of Representatives that has refused to fix the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act and has blocked all attempts to pass comprehensive immigration reform. If he refuses to take action to remove Scalise from leadership, Speaker Boehner will be confirming that his Republican party is willing to stand with the most nativist and racist elements among its base.

Disavowing white supremacists should be a no-brainer even for Republicans. Tell Speaker Boehner to remove Steve Scalise from leadership now. Click the link below to sign the petition:

http://act.credoaction.com/sign/Boehner_Scalise?t=5&akid=12553.6338158.5SP5MY

Thanks for standing up against hate.

Heidi Hess, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Sign the petition â–º
  1. “Steve Scalise’s Denials Are Not Believable,” Mark Potok, SPLC Hatewatch, 12/30/2014.

  2. “What Scalise and Vitter Told Roll Call About David Duke in 1999,” Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call, 12/29/2014.

Fioretti Unveils Part of Bold Economic Plan In the Spirit of Yesterday’s 4th Principle of Kwanzaa: Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics

Posted by Admin On December - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Mayoral Candidate Bob Fioretti is calling on Chicagoans to re-imagine our economy and build it together. Bob knows that creating a strong economy means doing more than just asking for jobs or relocating corporate headquarters downtown. In addition to reforming our TIF program and directing resources to attract traditional businesses to all our neighborhoods, creating new opportunities by promoting worker cooperatives is another step in building a robust economy.

“I support a $15 minimum wage increase, but the key to building a strong economy is through building real wealth. To do that we need to create more owners – especially in our neighborhoods. Ownership builds wealth and cooperative ownership is the alternative to reliance on the current low-paying retail and service industry jobs that do not sustain individuals or families,” he said.

A worker cooperative is a democratically managed business that is owned and controlled by the workers. The cooperative form of organization allows ordinary people to combine their energy, capital, and skills to gain steady employment and income, participate in the ownership and management of their business, and share the profits made from their investment and labor.

Bob seeks to make Chicago the #1 city in the country for worker-owned cooperatives as part of a larger initiative to support the expansion of small business ownership in the city. He proposes creating an Institute for Cooperative Development within the current Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) with an initial investment that would in part be used to provide technical assistance to individuals interested in forming a cooperative.  He also plans to establish a revolving loan fund that would offer cooperatives start-up funding at low interest rates and use tax breaks as an incentive for start-up cooperatives.

“Cooperatives address Chicago’s stark income inequality by ensuring higher wages and salaries than traditional jobs,” he said. The largest cooperative in the United States, South Bronx, New York’s Cooperative Home Care Associates, has 2,000 home healthcare workers, who enjoy salaries 20% higher than the industry average, retirement benefits and health insurance.  New Era Windows on Chicago’s Southwest side is Chicago’s most well-known example of a cooperative. In 2012, four  years after the CEO abruptly shut down the company without notifying employees, employees banded together to create a cooperative that they now own.

Other examples of workers in New York City who have formed worker cooperatives have seen their hourly wages increase from $10 to $25 per hour within just a few years.

“In addition to higher-paying, stable jobs, cooperatives provide a pathway for young people, average residents, ex-offenders and others to become owners which increases household income while decreasing unemployment and poverty,” said Fioretti. “This creates stable, thriving communities and a stronger tax base for our city’s economy.”

By investing in the growth of worker-owned cooperatives and making Chicago the #1 city in the country, Bob Fioretti demonstrates that he has the bold ideas and strategies to build a thriving economy for Chicago’s future.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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