March 16, 2012
By Steve Watson
“When you see massive crowds like this for Ron Paul – way more than any of his counterparts – it makes you wonder how he hasn’t won a single state yet.” –KTRN
GOP presidential contender Ron Paul continues to draw massive crowds as he campaigns across the country. Yesterday saw almost five thousand people turn out in Illinois to see the Congressman, while his rivals can only draw crowds in and below the hundreds.
Paul’s supporters will once again be asking serious questions as to where his rivals are getting their votes from, as another raucous mass of humanity provided the Congressman with a rock star welcome.
The original venue of Foellinger Auditorium, around a 1500 capacity building at The University of Illinois, had to be switched to George Huff Hall, a gymnastics and volleyball arena, following a deluge of early RSVPs.
As he introduced Paul, Illinois Republican Rep. Tim Johnson told the crowd that they were part of the single biggest turnout of Paul’s 2012 campaign to date.
February 16, 2012
By Hal Dardick
The Chicago area logged the most public corruption convictions of any federal jurisdiction in the United States during the past 36 years, according to a report released today by the University of Illinois at Chicago.
February 8th, 2012
By: Lindsey Tanner
Junk food remains plentiful at the nation’s elementary schools despite widespread efforts to curb childhood obesity, a new study suggests. Between 2006 and 2010, nearly half of public and private schools surveyed sold sweet or salty snack foods in vending machines or other places, the study found. There was little change over the four years, a surprising finding given vocal advocacy campaigns to improve kids’ diets, said researcher Lindsey Turner, a health psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the study’s lead author. The study focused on snacks not sold during mealtimes, which until recently weren’t subject to government nutrition standards.
Schools most likely to sell chips, cookies or similar foods were in the South, where obesity rates are the highest; these foods were scarcest at schools in the West. The results are concerning, Turner said, because they show that many schools have not heeded messages from health advocates including the Institute of Medicine, which in a 2007 report urged limiting availability of food in schools outside of mealtimes, and said these items should not be sugary, salty or fatty snack foods. Many schools in the study also offered more healthy foods outside of mealtimes, including fruit and vegetables. But selling them along with junk food may tempt kids to skip the healthy options, and sends “mixed messages about healthful nutrition,” Dr. Thomas Robinson, a Stanford University pediatrician and obesity prevention researcher.
Robinson called the study results “sobering” and said a key strategy for reversing childhood obesity includes improving nutrition in schools. Recent data suggest that almost 20 percent of elementary school children nationwide are obese. Policies that limit junk food sold in schools have been linked with less obesity among students, said C. Tracy Orleans, a senior scientist at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which paid for the study.
The study appears in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, released Monday. Robinson wrote an accompanying editorial. Anti-obesity advocates also have pushed to remove sugary sodas from schools, and some states and schools have enacted bans. Also, a 2010 report found a big decline in sales of these drinks to schools during some of the years studied. The new study, which focused only on foods, is based on surveys mailed to principals at public and private elementary schools. Nearly 4,000 responded, or more than half of those contacted. The participating schools were nationally representative and there were no geographic or economic differences in schools that didn’t respond that would affect the results, Turner said.
Overall, about 45 percent of schools sold sugary and salty snacks. Some schools sold low-fat salty snacks and baked goods, including pretzels and low-fat ice cream, but their high sugar or salt content makes them a poor choice, Turner said. Candy, salty snacks and regular-fat baked goods were more common at private schools than public schools; and low-fat ice cream was more common at both types of schools than full-fat ice cream snacks. The study authors say their results should encourage the U.S. Department of Agriculture to crack down on junk food in schools. A law enacted in December 2010, after the study ended, gives the agency authority to do so, and it is developing changes.
Before that measure, USDA policy restricted schools from selling foods “of minimal nutritional value” during mealtimes. Under the new law, the agency can set nutrition standards for all foods sold in U.S. schools.
Another USDA change announced last month focuses on making school lunches healthier, with changes including less sodium and more whole grains. The changes affecting snack foods “need to be comprehensive, they need to be strong, they need to be specific,” and they could be “a game-changer,” said Orleans. A website for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service says restricting these foods can pose challenges for schools, because many rely on sales of snack foods to boost revenue. But it also explains why changes are needed.
“The constant availability of foods and beverages may increase the likelihood of impulse buying and contribute to overeating by some students,” the USDA website says. It lists states and school districts that have imposed some restrictions on these foods.
January 23, 2012
By John Rubino
As the Greek default (and it is a default no matter what they end up calling it) is finalized this week, the consensus seems to be that failure to reach a deal would cause a global financial apocalypse.
That may be true. And if it is, why aren’t we more worried about Illinois? It’s more or less the same size as Greece, its finances are in the same generally catastrophic shape, and its leaders are just as feckless and dishonest. It owes tens of billions of dollars to various investors and stakeholders and will clearly have to stiff many of them at some point. The following article captures the “failed state” dilemma perfectly.
The question isn’t whether Illinois’ finances are in dreadful shape, it’s how to fix the problem. Or perhaps more accurately, will legislators have the political will to fix it when they return to Springfield for their spring session?
Even though the legislature and Gov. Pat Quinn last year imposed a temporary 67 percent state income tax increase, Quinn’s office expects to have a $500 million budget deficit this year.
Quinn is calling for a 9 percent cut in most areas of state government, except education and health care. But even with cuts at that level, the state would have a projected $800 million budget deficit for fiscal 2015, the year when most of the tax hike expires.
Quinn’s budget spokesman, Kelly Kraft, said the state’s fiscal situation is not pretty.
“These projections clearly demonstrate that action must be taken to control not only Medicaid costs but also (pension) costs, or all other areas of government will continue to be squeezed,” Kraft said.
Looking at the bigger picture, the state has a backlog of about $8.5 billion in unpaid bills and owes about $27 billion in outstanding bonds. And then there’s the roughly $80 billion owed to the state’s public employee pension funds.
Now, legislative leaders and Quinn are floating ideas to cut the two areas that account for the biggest chunks of the state budget — pension contributions and Medicaid.
In the proposed $33.7 billion budget for fiscal 2013, the state’s pension payment will be $5.3 billion, and Medicaid will cost taxpayers about $7 billion.
Proposals include reducing the benefits or the eligibility for Medicaid. On pensions, ideas include decreasing the benefits and increasing the contributions for current employees. A new pension system was approved last year, but it’s only for new employees, and there’s debate on whether the benefits for existing employees can legally be changed.
January 9, 2012
By Tara Green
While drinking Mountain Dew, have you ever seen (or perhaps felt on your tongue) a thick, jelly-like substance? Maybe you assumed the ingredients in the soda had gelled. According to Mountain Dew manufacturer Pepsi, you may have been ingesting some extra protein with your beverage in the form of a liquified rodent.
An Illinois man is suing Pepsi, claiming he found a mouse in his can of Mountain Dew. Ronald Bell of Edwardsville, a small town near St. Louis, alleges there was a mouse in a can of soda he purchased and drank in 2009. Bell says he spit out the mouse and called the company to complain. At the soda manufacturer’s request, he sent them the mouse corpse. Pepsi had a veterinary pathologist examine the body. Their scientific expert found the rodent could not have been in the can since the soda case was sealed in August 2008, and its body would have dissolved as a result of the acid in the soda.
Bell says that Pepsi destroyed the evidence in the case and is seeking judgment. Pepsi’s legal team has moved to dismiss the case. Bell’s suit initially also involved the owners of the convenience store chain where he purchased the beverage, but those defendants have been dropped from the case and an amended suit was filed. The trial was set to begin in late 2011; however a Madison County Circuit Court judge granted Pepsi another month to argue for dismissal.
November 7, 2011
Ron Paul was declared the winner on Saturday of a weeklong Republican presidential straw poll in Democratic President Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois.
Texas Congressman Paul won 52 percent of the combined 3,649 online and in-person votes cast between October 29 and Saturday evening. He won 66.5 percent of the votes cast over the Internet and 8 percent of those cast in person.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney earned 7 percent of the online votes cast and 35 percent of the in-person votes, winning the most in-person votes cast at 22 locations, the party said.
Businessman Herman Cain won 15 percent of the online vote and 29 percent of the in-person vote.
Romney’s and Cain’s combined totals were not immediately announced.
Each voter was required to make a $5 contribution to the Illinois Republican Party to cover costs of the straw poll and to support state and local Republican candidates.
October 20, 2011
By Ethan A. Huff
One of the primary reasons for the big push among public school districts across the country to vaccinate as many students as possible appears to have a lot to do with maintaining their eligibility to receive local and state funding, at least in the state of Illinois.
Section 27-8.1.7 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) Health examinations and immunizations law explains that if a school vaccination rate falls below 90 percent, state aid payments to that school are automatically cut by 10 percent until the school comes into “compliance” (http://www.isbe.state.il.us/account…).
According to the current Illinois General State Aid fiscal schedule, Illinois schools receive $6,119 per student from the state. Ten percent of this amount equates to roughly $612. So if a school has 2,000 students, for instance, and it maintains at least a 90 percent vaccination rate, it will receive $12,238,000 from the state per year. But if the vaccination rate falls below 90 percent at the same school, a whopping $1,223,800 will be shaved off this amount (http://nced.info/schoolfinance/file…).
Suddenly it all becomes clear why school administrators are aggressively pushing parents to have their children receive the full vaccination schedule. If students do not comply, the administrators own salaries are on the line! These vaccine quotas also explain why some school districts are actually having to resort to bribary campaigns like giving away free iPods to students who get their shots (http://www.naturalnews.com/032330_v…).
It all appears to be nothing more than a sick “pay-for-play” system where state officials pressure school administrators to comply with the vaccine agenda or else face budget cuts. And they do this because federal officials are pressing them to push the vaccine agenda or else lose funding. In other words, from the top down, Big Pharma has rigged an entire system that forces government workers to push the vaccine agenda or else face a loss of funding — and all this funding, of course, ultimately comes directly from taxpayers.
Illinois law currently allows for students to opt-out of school vaccination requirements on both medical and religious grounds (http://www.nvic.org/Vaccine-Laws/st…).
But if the vaccination rate ever consistently falls below the 90 percent threshold on a widespread scale, you can expect to see a lot more forced vaccination attempts fueled by lies and fear-mongering tactics.
September 1st, 2011
By: Paul Joseph Watson
41-year old Illinois mechanic Michael Allison faces life in jail for recording police officers after authorities hit him with eavesdropping charges based on the hoax that it is illegal to film cops, a misnomer that has been disproved by every other case against people filming police officers being thrown out of court.
The state of Illinois is trying to charge Allison with five counts of wiretapping, each punishable by four to 15 years in prison.
Allison refused a plea deal which would have seen him serve no jail time but would reinforce the hoax that it is illegal to film police officers, as well as acting as a chilling effect to prevent other Americans from filming cases of police brutality.
Allison has chosen to reject the plea bargain and fight to clear his name via a jury trial, arguing, “If we don’t fight for our freedoms here at home we’re all going to lose them.”
A judge is expected to rule on when the case will go to trial over the next two weeks.
As another report concerning the Allison case documents, in every other example where people have been arrested for recording police officers, the charges have been dropped and the case thrown out of court. Despite this fact, the state is so desperate to make an example out of Allison that an assistant from the Attorney General’s Office was recently sent to speak against him during a hearing.
The notion that it is illegal to film police officers is a mass hoax that is being promulgated by authorities, the media, and police officers themselves.
In the latest example, charges were dismissed against a woman who filmed cops in her own back yard in Rochester, New York.
In Illinois itself, eavesdropping charges against Tiawanda Moore for recording patrol officers were dropped, after a “Criminal Court jury quickly repudiated the prosecution’s case, taking less than an hour to acquit Moore on both eavesdropping counts.”
Despite the fact that recording police officers (public servants) is perfectly legal, Americans are still being arrested for doing so, and the establishment media is enthusiastically perpetuating the hoax that such conduct is unlawful, even though in doing so they are completely eroding protections that guarantee press freedom.
There is no expectation of privacy in public, the police are fully aware of this, which is why they have dash cams on their cars to record incidents, wear microphones and utilize other recording equipment as part of their job.
Cases like Allison’s have been thrown out all over the country and yet police continue to arrest people for filming them as a form of intimidation.
The fact that the state is knowingly ignoring its own laws in order to engage in acts of official repression highlights the rampant criminality that has infested every level of American government. This behavior is reflective of a predatory system that seeks to criminalize all first amendment activities.
It also highlights how petrified the system is about the public being able to document and record acts of police brutality.
Prosecutors in Allison’s case are deliberately attempting jail an innocent man for life for an activity that they know full well is not illegal. If anything, they should be the ones being charged with illegal conduct and official oppression.
August 12th, 2011
By: Dawn Xiana Moon
The State of Illinois is shutting down local, artisan ice cream makers for such terrible offenses as using fresh fruit instead of fruit syrup and fresh cream instead of pre-packaged soft serve mix. What, you say? How can this be? Health officials in this state are known for being overzealous when it comes to making sure that small, independent businesses follow obscure rules – and when I say small and independent, I’m talking about businesses that are often owned and run by 1-2 people renting space in a shared, licensed commercial kitchen. These are not corporations with large amounts of money who have the capital to hire lawyers or contribute significant sums to political campaigns. No, these are real people, individuals who do their best to follow labyrinthine food regulations based on the information that they’re given by governmental agencies who don’t always agree on what the rules should be.
Illinois health regulators seem to hate anything that isn’t incredibly processed. Last year, they destroyed thousands of dollars worth of local fruit that had no health issues. Why? Monica Eng from the Chicago Tribune put it this way: “At best it was a victim of paper work confusion among city bureaucrats who couldn’t agree on a policy.” One woman was put out of business for six months.
Now, the health department is saying that Nice Cream, a local maker (read: primarily one woman, Kris Swanberg) that I’ve followed since reading this 2009 profile from the Chicago Reader, is being forced to shut down because she lacks a dairy permit. Nevermind that she and others in her field have been creating artisan ice creams for years without ever hearing that such a permit existed – or that they needed one. Nevermind that the office that issued their business licenses (the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection) failed to inform any of them that they needed one in order to operate. IDPH has spoken, and now Swanberg and others will need to use sub-par ingredients or cough up around $40,000 for a pasteurizing machine.
Processed ingredients would mean that Nice Cream – which built its reputation by using fresh, organic ingredients that are sourced from local farms – would be allowed operate without needing the dairy license. The problem with the dairy license is that in order to pass inspection, you have to make sure your bacteria levels are so low that using real ingredients simply doesn’t work.
Technically, using fresh strawberries is legal. However, IDPH does not recommend using them, because “when you try and clean a strawberry to make sure it doesn’t have any bacteria, it kind of deteriorates.” Irradiated strawberries apparently look fine but are somewhat lacking in the taste department. So IDPH explicitly suggests “strawberry syrup.” Fresh cream requires the dairy license, so the alternative would be to use premade ice cream mix, the kind of stuff that is full of stabilizers and additives and usually found at places like Dairy Queen. (If you’ve never done it, read the label of your grocery store ice cream sometime – if you’re not buying Häagen-Dazs, Ben and Jerry’s, or Breyers, you’ll probably be reading a long list of ingredients, half of which are near unpronounceable.) Clearly, the results of these changes would turn Nice Cream into a generic brand that’s barely worth mentioning, rather than the wizards who made me realize for the first time that strawberry ice cream could actually taste good. Better than good. Amazing.
Which brings us back to the pasteurizing machine and its $40,000 price tag. That’s a lot of money for a small business to find. But it’s not a lot of money for a large corporation, and that’s the type of organization that the rules were invented for. In fact, the rules about dairy licenses apply to the mega-corporation and the one-man show equally in the eyes of the state. Something’s wrong with that. Something’s wrong with the fact that Cargill can stay in business after having to recall 36 million pounds of salmonella-tainted turkey, but Nice Cream may not be able to stay in business after keeping a clean record. Something’s wrong with the fact that health departments are pushing businesses to produce processed food rather than fresh, locally-sourced food, which is much healthier. Something’s wrong here, and local ice cream may be a casualty of it.
August 8, 2011
By Monica Eng & Christopher Borrelli
A few years ago, Kris Swanberg, having been laid off from her job as a Chicago Public Schools teacher, remembered she had gotten an ice cream maker as a wedding gift. The Chicago mom fished it out of her kitchen cabinet and eventually started a new career.
Today Swanberg’s Nice Cream — on offer at local Whole Foods and farmers markets — is considered a star of Chicago’s rich and beloved artisanal ice cream scene, one that could be shut down entirely by state rules, she recently learned.
She said that a couple of weeks ago, a representative from the Illinois Department of Public Health came to Logan Square Kitchen and informed her she’d have to shut down if she did not get something called “a dairy license.”
Swanberg and others in her field had operated for years now without ever hearing of such a thing and, indeed, they said, the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, to which they applied for business licenses, never informed them they would need one to operate.