Tag Archives: Illinois

Chicago Marches to Oppose U.S. War Moves Against Iran, 4 January 2020

Photoessay: Chicago’s progressive and socialist left turns out to demonstrate against the impending war against Iran on Saturday, January 4, 2020. The demonstration was organized by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; dozens of organizations from Christian peace groups and Filipino left parties to revolutionary Maoists, and Trotskyists participated.  The demo was held just across the Chicago River from Trump Tower. At its peak, we estimate that the demonstration was several thousand strong.

Conspicuously absent were Chicago’s powerful trade unions, whose pro-capitalist Democratic-Party-subservient “leadership” *never* dares to bring their members into contact with the socialist left at events like this, quite correctly fearing that if they did, “their” members would be “led astray” and never again be happy, complacent & obedient pro-capitalist Democratic Party sheep.

The demonstration begins, 4 January 2020 at about 11:45AM. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demonstration against war with Iran, 4 January 2020, 12 Noon, photo by IWPCHI.

Chicago, IL, USA demonstration against war with Iran, Wacker and Wabash Ave’s, 4 January 2020, approx. 12 noon. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – Sample of protest signs #1. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – Sample of protest signs #2. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – Sample of protest signs #3. Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Presente! Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – Rally across river from Trump Tower #1. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – March up Michigan Ave., #1. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – March up Michigan Ave. #2. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – March up Michigan Ave. #3. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – March up Michigan Ave. showing huge growth of number of participants as march progressed #1. Photo by IWPCHI


Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – March up Michigan Ave. showing huge growth of number of participants as march progressed. By the time the march got to the Chicago River it was starting to take up both sides of Michigan Ave. #1. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – March up Michigan Ave. showing huge growth of number of participants as march progressed.  By the time the march got to the Chicago River it was starting to take up both sides of Michigan Ave. #2. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – March up Michigan Ave. showing huge growth of number of participants as march progressed.  By the time the march got to the Chicago River it was starting to take up both sides of Michigan Ave. #3.  Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – March up Michigan Ave. showing huge growth of number of participants as march progressed.  By the time the march got to the Chicago River it was taking up both sides of Michigan Ave. #3.  Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – March up Michigan Ave. showing huge growth of number of participants as march progressed.  By the time the march got to the Chicago River it was taking up both sides of Michigan Ave. #4.  Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – March up Michigan Ave. showing huge growth of number of participants as march progressed.  By the time the march got to the Chicago River it was taking up both sides of Michigan Ave., shutting down traffic on both sides #5.  Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – The demo progressed up Michigan Ave. until it reached the Water Tower, then headed east towards the lake. Here, it starts to move north on the frontage road on the west side of Lake Shore Drive. Navy Pier is in the background.  Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – The demo progressed up Michigan Ave. until it reached the Water Tower, then headed east towards the lake. Here, it starts to move north on the frontage road on the west side of Lake Shore Drive. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA demo opposing war against Iran, 4 January 2020 – The demo progressed up Michigan Ave. until it reached the Water Tower, then headed east towards the lake. Here, it starts to move north on the frontage road on the west side of Lake Shore Drive. Navy Pier is in the background.  A few minutes later the police apparently arrested a person or persons, or at least attempted to (this was the only instance of a confrontation between the cops and the demonstrators we witnessed).  The crowd started chanting : “Let him (or “them”) go!”  Photo by IWPCHI










News briefs for January, 2020

News and items of interest from around the world and around the Internet for January 2020 – by IWPCHI

1) If this is true and your revolutionary socialist workers party is not growing by leaps and bounds, then you are doing something wrong:  “More than a third of millennials polled approve of communism”!

The poll that this article was based on was apparently commissioned by a US Government-created anti-communist propaganda operation called the “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation”; the poll is conducted annually.  This foundation got its start as a bipartisan effort to spread massive disinformation about the history of the revolutionary socialist movement.  Racist Republican anticommunist scum like the late Sen. Jesse Helms laid down with Racist Democratic Party anticommunist scum like former US President Bill Clinton and gave birth to this deformed beast of an organization.  It’s planning to build one of the first museums in world history dedicated to the goal of systematic falsification of the history of revolutionary socialist working-class parties.  The “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation” website is here. Their organization’s leadership is, of course, replete with out-and-out fascists like US Major General John K. Singlaub (Ret.), founder of the Cold War-era fascist “World Anti-Communist League”, now operating under the name of the “World League for Freedom and Democracy”.  By the way: isn’t this an interesting use of these political terms as a name for a fascist organization?

Here is the link to the poll.

This is undoubtedly the effect of the “Great Recession” when young people across the nation saw their families and the families of their friends and neighbors’ lives destroyed by the capitalist system.  They are of course also feeling the full brunt of the vast increase in college tuition and rent, with wages – until very recently – stagnant at essentially 1980s levels.  The positive attitudes towards socialism range widely among the various “generations”; interestingly even the elderly “Silent Generation” have become slightly less anti-socialist; for Boomers and Gen X ers it’s a mixed bag.  The poll is well worth reading.

I also recommend reading the 1000-plus comments on the Marketwatch article at the top of this item. Americans don’t know anything about socialism or communism; massive confusion abounds, the result of decades of US Govt propaganda and capitalist-owned news media disinformation.  There’s enough material there for at least one article, which I hope to be able to write soon.


Just stumbled across this little gem while surfing the WHO website on some other errand; I did not know this!

2) #SocialismWorks: (2015) World Health Organization validates elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis in Cuba”


3) Illinois joins the growing list of states who have legalized marijuana, but the high taxes are designed to ensure the continued existence of drug cartel operations and profitability, as well as keep US prisons full of people busted for illegal drug dealing and (probably, eventually) for possession of illegal drugs. #DumpTheDems #BuildAWorkersParty #FightForASocialistFuture #Re-LegalizeAllDrugs

Receipt for legal weed purchased in Illinois on first day of legalization, 1 January 2020. Photographer unknown. Source: Twitter


4) Union of Concerned Scientists 2015 study: “Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave: How Electric Cars Beat Gasoline Cars on Lifetime Global Warming Emissions”

Very informative but unfortunately flawed IMO: in calculating the lifetime global warming emissions of BEVs they assume that owners will not replace the battery over the lifetime of the car.

If this assumption turns out to be wrong, the conclusions of this study may have to be significantly revised or even thrown out entirely. Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, “Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave – How Electric Cars Beat Gasoline Cars on Lifetime Global Warming Emissions” (2015)

As the manufacturing of Li-ion batteries is the #1 source of global warming emissions over the lifetime of the car, if this assumption turns out to be wrong, the conclusions of the study will have to be revised significantly – maybe even thrown out completely.  Early reports from Tesla owners indicate that their car batteries are often losing significant charging capacity over just a few years.  It appears to me that it is highly unlikely that owners of BEVs will wait until their car batteries lose even 30% of their charge-holding capacity before they either buy a new battery or sell the car (passing on that expense to the purchaser). We’ll soon know the answer to this question.


5) Apropos of the previous entry: global supplies of lithium for Li-ion batteries have been the subject of much discussion, but that’s not the only material used in a lithium-ion battery. Most natural elements necessary for their production have adequate supplies for at least the short-term needs of li-ion battery manufacture… except for cobalt.  I recommend this 2018 article from Scientific American; and I highly recommend this 2017 study the Sci Am article is based upon, from the scientific journal “Joule”: “Lithium-Ion Battery Supply Chain Considerations: Analysis of Potential Bottlenecks in Critical Metals”

Source: Joule 1, 229–243, October 11, 2017

Prosecutors Get Indictments from Grand Juries 95% of Time – Unless They Are Pretending to Attempt to Indict a Cop

In Ferguson, MO, the citizens are nervously and angrily awaiting the decision of a Missouri Grand Jury regarding whether or not the cop who wantonly murdered Michael Brown will be indicted for murder or not.

In Gretna, Florida a similar situation exists: there, members of yet another black family mourning the cop murder of one of their kids await the “verdict” of a Grand Jury decision as to whether or not a local cop will be indicted for the murder of a mentally ill unarmed youth – shot to death in his own home after his mother called the cops to help her handle her son’s refusal to go with her to a local hospital for treatment.

The likely outcome in both cases?  The cops will be acquitted by the Grand Jury and the respective towns will quite justifiably erupt in anger against the grave injustice that has been committed by the police and a justice system in which there is no justice for workers – especially if they “happen to be black”.  It is a fact of the U.S. Criminal Injustice System that even though prosecutors can get Grand Juries to indict 95% of the time, “somehow” they almost always fail to do so when the accused is a cop. “The fix is in” every time when it’s a cop facing a potential murder charge. We fully expect that the Mike Brown case in Ferguson, MO will not be an exception to this rule.

Grand Juries in the United States are notoriously unfair.

There is a famous legal saying that Grand Juries are so biased in favor of the prosecution that they could be expected “to indict a ham sandwich”.  The Wikipedia article on “Grand Juries in the United States” quotes from “Eliminate the Grand Jury” a much-cited 1973 essay by the late William J. Campbell –  a US Attorney and at one time the longest serving Chief Judge in the Northern District Federal Court in Chicago – in which he calls for the complete elimination of the corrupt Federal Grand Jury system: ” “[T]oday, the grand jury is the total captive of the prosecutor who, if he is candid, will concede that he can indict anybody, at any time, for almost anything, before any grand jury.” Campbell cites a famous study of the Grand Jury system by

A couple of months ago, a friend of ours was present at a local “temple” of notoriously racist justice here in Chicago’s Crooked C[r]ook County: the infamous Skokie Courthouse (where the conviction rate is an astoundingly Saddam-Hussein-regime-like 90 percent plus). There, he overheard two cops babbling to each other in the inimitable, timeless manner of all pigs throughout human history.  When they started stupidly yapping about one of their recent experiences as a member of a Grand Jury in Chicago, he opened up his ears real wide and grabbed a notebook and started jotting down their priceless nuggets of pig-wisdom.

The babblers were a METRA cop who was just about to enter a courtroom and casually commit perjury in an extremely minor trespassing case (with the likely cooperation and approval of the crooked Crook County prosecutors seeking to maintain their scandalous .900-plus batting average); his interlocutor was a Crook County Sheriffs cop – the bailiff.  Here is the edited conversation – they were already talking about service on a Grand Jury:

Crook County Bailiff (CCB): “It’s like a reunion – you know everyone there – ‘hey, how’s it going?’ ”

METRA cop (MC):  “We heard 899 cases [over 5 weeks – June 2nd to July 3rd]. Not a bad gig.  I had to testify before the Grand Jury 3 weeks before.”

CCB: [I’ve never been on one but my dad was a Chicago cop and he was on several. He said] it was real good money.”

MC: “Oh, yeah!”

Our friend could not resist asking the METRA cop: “Did you indict any ham sandwiches while you were there?”  The bailiff looked at him and said “what?”

He apparently had never heard that one before.  So our friend repeated the question.  Both cops looked at him uncomprehendingly.  Our friend, not wanting to miss the opportunity to pursue the question rephrased it: “Were there any cases that you did not indict?”

MC: “We can’t discuss anything about what goes on there.”

Our friend replied: “That’s OK: I already know the answer.”

[The cops resumed their conversation on other topics.  This doesn’t relate to the Grand Jury but it’s interesting to see what motivates cops – it ain’t “serving the public”. – IWPCHI]

MC: “One of the drawbacks working as a cop for Chicago is you got to live in the city.”

CCB (agreeing): “Uh huh. You guys [meaning METRA cops] get to live anywhere you want.”

MC: “Yeah we’ve got guys living everywhere.  We’ve got a guy who lives in Indiana, a K9 cop: [he’s got a] take-home car…”

CCB: “Cooool”.

MC: “Union Pacific [Railroad] cops get to take home an unmarked car… they’re considered management so they make in the 80’s to 90’s… [thousands of dollars a year – IWPCHI]. […] Lot of guys getting overtime tonight – Jay-Z/Beyonce concert.  They work for SPI.”  [most likely Security Professionals of Illinois]

Screenshot from SPI Incorporated video: SPI Level 2 Taser Training Final Cut

Screenshot from SPI Incorporated video: SPI Level 2 Taser Training Final Cut

[This is another good example of how nearly every story we research leads right into another seedy scandal that would bear investigating.  Thanks to our limited resources, this one’s going to get a pass for the time being…]







Racist Router Update: Niles, IL Anti-Discrimination “Hotline” Returns Call – After 6 Days!

[Update on the Niles, IL “racist router broadcast” that was discovered by one of our correspondents – IWPCHI]

Racist router broadcast, Panera Bread, 7023 West Dempster Street in Niles IL., as it appeared on computer 24 October, 2012. Credit: IWPCHI

This morning, our correspondent informs us, he finally received a return phone call from the Niles, IL “anti-discrimination hotline” regarding that racist router broadcast at Panera Bread!  Amazing!  We originally called them on the morning of October 18th, and gave them another cal a day later.  It only took them 6 full days to get back to us!  We are so glad that they don’t run the 911 hotline!

The call came from a very nice woman who identified herself as Cathy Spadoni, “Secretary of the  Community Relations Commission“.   [We are sure that Ms. Spadoni would be happy to receive calls from concerned members of the Niles community as well as from concerned workers all over Illinois.  You can reach her through the “hotline” at 847-600-5440 or by email at CommunityRelations@vniles.com]

The first thing Ms. Spadoni asked our correspondent was “when did you call us?”  Apparently, that “anti-discrimination hotline” really IS an old-school answering machine!   Our correspondent let her know that it was a week ago.

Ms. Spadoni apologized for the delay in returning our correspondent’s phone call and then proceeded to ask him a few questions.  First: “What is a router broadcast?”

Come on, now, it’s not that funny!  Not everyone knows the name of these things, though they are indeed familiar with using wifi.  This was the case with Ms. Spadoni, who immediately understood what our correspondent was talking about once it was explained to her.  He gave her the whole rundown of what he had observed at Panera Bread and how the router’s broadcast was being received throughout the residential neighborhood north of its apparent location as well as throughout the strip mall on the south side of Dempster Ave., in Niles.

Ms. Spadoni then told our reporter that she had not heard of the issue before and that she would bring it to the attention of the Chief of Police in Niles.  Our correspondent then let her know that the police have been aware of this racist broadcast for at least two years and have done nothing about it, saying that it was not a hate crime and was protected free speech.  He also made it clear to her that over the past two-plus years, tens of thousands of people have been subjected to this abuse at the hands of this racist and the Niles authorities have done nothing to stop it.

This information seemed to startle her a bit.  She paused and then stated that her commission’s mission was to deal primarily with housing discrimination – a statement completely at odds with the written declaration of the commission on its webpage as well as the recorded message on the “anti-discrimination hotline”.  The website states: “The Commission has a mission to promote fairness and eliminate discrimination in Niles” – a much broader definition of discrimination than what Ms. Spadoni asserted.

Ms. Spadoni then stated: “”It’s certainly not our intention to downplay this incident, but it may be that our hands are tied”, to which our correspondent replied that intentions don’t matter, actions do.  “My grandmother used to say: the road to hell is paved with good intentions” our correspondent told Ms. Spadoni.  “Yes, I’ve heard that saying before” Ms. Spadoni replied.  “What is important isn’t what people intend, but what they actually do that matters.  In this case it’s a question perhaps of taking a broader rather than a narrow view of what your commission’s responsibilities are,” our correspondent said.

He then told Ms. Spadoni that he intends “to run this up the ladder until I find someone who will do something about it”.  He stated that he intends to inform the NAACP and any other organization he can find that will work to get this case resolved.

The IWPCHI simply does not have the capacity to take up this case on its own.  If this is to go any further it must be taken up by as many pro-working-class political parties and as many anti-racist groups as possible.  Picket lines should be set up outside the Niles Village Hall to protest the phony “anti-discrimination hotline” as well as the complete inaction of the village authorities to a serious ongoing campaign of racist abuse of the citizenry by a person or persons unknown.  Once identified, the people or person responsible for this racist provocation should have their homes and/or businesses picketed and they should be compelled to cease and desist by the anti-racist workers in the region.  This work can and should be carried out by the unionized working class of Niles and Morton Grove primarily, meaning that the teachers unions, village employee unions and local trades unions should join together to make it clear to all the racist scum in the area that their provocations will not be tolerated by the working class.

Niles, IL has a vibrant and growing Korean and Indian population.  Youth from India and the Middle East working on their schoolwork and college classes crowd the coffee shops day and night where this racist router broadcast is occurring.  We believe that the racist(s) behind the broadcast are deliberately targeting these folks, as well as the many black and Hispanic workers in the strip mall – and any other decent people who stop there for coffee or for lunch.

There does seem to be a thread of racism running through the Niles community.

Fascist insignia painted on water conduit, Cook County Forest Preserve, Niles, IL.
Credit: IWPCHI

Fascist insignia carved into dead tree, Cook County Forest Preserve, Niles, IL.
Credit: IWPCHI

Racist graffiti on map of bike trail, 24 October, 2012. Cook County Forest Preserve, Niles, IL. Credit: IWPCHI

Nazi symbols have been found painted on water conduits and carved into trees in the Cook County Forest Preserve in Niles; racist graffiti has also been spotted written on a map of the bike path running through the Forest Preserve.  These little nests of fascist vermin exist all over the US, and are continually being fed by the US government’s disgusting racist attacks on immigrant workers.

Today, just after speaking with Ms. Spadoni, our correspondent returned to Panera Bread and confirmed, once again, that the racist router broadcast continues.

He will be taking steps throughout the day to bring this vile racist provocation to the attention of the working class in Northern Illinois.  We will continue to keep you updated as we receive more information in the case, and we look forward to seeing what Ms. Spadoni and the Niles, Illinois “Community Relations Commission” does about the matter.

[To Be Continued]


Corporate Murder in Glenview, Illinois – Union Pacific Knew Rails at Fatal Bridge Collapse Had ‘Sun Kinks’


Zorine and Burton Lindner – murdered by Union Pacific Railroad: July 4, 2012. Family photo via Chicago Tribune

The 4th of July – it’s a day traditionally associated with family barbecues, parades, political speeches and fireworks – and searing summer heat.

This past July 4th, 2012 in Glenview, Illinois, was no exception to the rule.  It was hot – over 100 degrees – and all around Illionois, roads buckled, lawns browned and people sought cover from the intensity of the temperatures. 

Burton and Zorine Lindner decided to take a drive in their car, cruising through their hometown undoubtedly enjoying the day and the air conditioning.  As they drove down Shermer Rd. at about 1:42 on that scorching afternoon, they approached a railroad viaduct as a Union Pacific freight train ran from the southwest, out of their view, and also approached the bridge.

The Lindners had probably driven under that bridge hundreds of times during their lives.  They were probably aware that this bridge had been the scene of at least 4 derailments in the past 40-odd years.  What they didn’t know was that it was about to happen again – and they were going to be the first people to lose their lives to the callous indifference of one of the biggest corporations in the United States, with a long history of placing human life at the bottom of their list of corporate priorities: The Union Pacific Railroad.

Earlier in the day, an inspector working for Union Pacific had been sent out to inspect the railway line that runs through Chicago and up to Wisconsin and passes through Glenview and its neighboring town, Northbrook.  The inspector was looking for

As the Lindners’ car approached the Shermer Rd. bridge, an inspector for the Union Pacific was waiting for a supervisor to arrive at the bridge.  This unnamed Union Pacific inspector had been sent out by the railroad to observe any deformation of the rails caused by the high temperatures the Chicago area was experiencing on July 4th.  Union Pacific railroad, on very hot days, sends out teams of inspectors twice a day to look for “sun kinks”.  These are sections of rail that overheat from a combination of the thermal expansion of metal when it’s heated as well as from the additional heating that occurs when heavy railcars pass over the track.  The friction of the wheels is intensified depending on how heavily loaded the railcars are, which intensifies this heating.  Modern railroads run on welded steel rails that don’t have the expansion joints that the old railroads had in between each section of rail.  Engineers believe that this modern welded rail performs much better than the old rail system with expansion joints; but there are still problems that do occur with welded rail, where there is nowhere for the steel to expand to when it gets overheated.  When that happens, the rails deform; sometimes they deform to such an extent that the wheels of the train run right off the track and a derailment occurs.  “If anyone has any ideas [as to how to prevent ‘sun kinks’ from forming in overheated rails] we would love to be a first adopter of your technology” a Union Pacific engineer snidely told the audience at the Community Meeting held at Glenbrook North High School on July 17th.

The inspector saw something wrong.  We still don’t know what he saw, and the Union Pacific officials, in their very superficial briefing at the Community Meeting last night wouldn’t tell us.  But the unnamed inspector – who was intitially faulted in the press for not seeing or reporting anything wrong – saw something wrong and did what he or she was required to do: he called the information in to his superiors at Union Pacific.

Someone at the Union Pacific offices – we don’t know who and they aren’t telling anyone – received that call from the inspector at the Shermer Rd. bridge on July 4, 2012.  The supervisors at UP should have been aware, as at least dozens of local citizens are, that there have been four derailments at this very bridge over the past 40 years or so.  They should have realized the high likelihood that the anomaly being reported by their track inspector – a highly trained professional not given to “crying wolf” every time he sees a small ripple in the rails – was a serious one and that something needed to be done immediately about it, because this section of track is a very busy one: 25 very long freight trains pass over this track every day, carrying hundreds of millions of dollars in freight, some of which can include very hazardous material, according to Union Pacific officials.

“Do those trains ever carry explosive materials?” asked a resident of Glenview at the Community Meeting.  Our trains running on that line are rated to carry “any kind of freight that our customers send us – provided that it is properly labeled” answered a Union Pacific spokesman.  We’re allowed to carry “anything, anytime” he continued.

Back  on July 4th, the train that was about to start passing over the Shermer Rd. bridge as the Lindners’ car approached was a coal train: more than 30 hopper cars were fully loaded with coal; each car was rated to carry as much as 260,000 lbs., give or take a couple thousand.  The cars were coming from Wyoming and were headed to a coal-fired power plant in Wisconsin.  “Why were the trains headed to Wisconsin coming through Chicago if they originated in Wyoming?  Is that the most direct route?” asked another Glenview resident at the Community Meeting.

“That is the most direct route” on our system for these shipments answered another Union Pacific spokesman.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here: let’s get back to the events that were transpiring on July 4th as the Lindners’ car approached the viaduct.

The inspector who had called in the track anomaly had called in his report to Union Pacific – when he or she did this, we do not know, because the Union Pacific feels it has no need to report details like this to the public, apparently.

The UP official who took that call – again an unnamed person – made another call: he ordered a senior inspector to travel out to the Shermer Rd. bridge to see for himself if this track anomaly was serious enough to warrant shutting down the rail line, over which another train was about to pass, loaded with millions of pounds of coal, worth tens of millions of dollars.  Obviously, this Union Pacific official who decided to call out another inspector rather than risk the anger of his bosses by shutting down the track until that inspector could arrive must be having second thoughts about the wisdom of that decision now.  Because while that senior inspector was heading out to the Shermer Rd. bridge in Glenview/Northbrook (it straddles the borderlines of both communities) cars and small trucks were passing back and forth under that bridge.  Children were riding their bicycles under it; joggers were running under it.  And a coal train was heading towards it, as were the Lindners, whose lives were about to end were also preparing to drive under this bridge.

It was a race against time.  And, though no one knew it at that time, two human beings were about to lose the race.

As the Lindners’ car approached the bridge,  the two lead locomotives of the coal train passed over it heading northeast.  

This train’s load was so heavy that the train had three locomotives: two in the front, pulling the train, and one radio-controlled locomotive at the end, pushing the cars together.  The idea is that by having a train providing force against the front locomotives, the cars are held closer together, reducing wear and tear on the couplings that connect the cars.  The radio-controlled locomotive is also provided with a safety feature in case of a derailment: a compressed air line runs from the lead locomotives all the way back to the engine in the rear of the train.  If any car derails, that air line is cut, and the engine pushing the train is supposed to shut down, so as not to worsen the impact of the derailment.

The first two locomotives made it across the Shermer Rd. bridge without incident, according to engineers hired by the Union Pacific, thus proving that at that moment that the Shermer Rd. bridge’s infrastructure – which had been repaired only one year ago – was still in proper alignment.

Then came the coal cars – 138 of them.  Each car was fully loaded with coal.  The train was moving at about 35 miles per hour, making for a tremendous combination of speed, weight and momentum pressing down on the already hot welded rail passing over the 103-year old Shermer Rd. bridge.

As the coal cars passed over the bridge, according to the Union Pacific engineer at the Community Meeting, the added heat caused by the steel wheels passing over the already overheated and deformed rails “caused [the rails] to go over the edge” of how deformed they could become before a derailment occurred.

As the Lindners’ car began its final, deadly approach to the bridge, they could see the train passing across the bridge they were about to go under.  It’s always kind of thrilling to see such a huge train moving across a bridge when you drive or walk under it: the roar of the locomotives; the blaring of the air horns;  the screech of the steel wheels as they grind against the rails.

Perhaps the Union Pacific inspector who originally called in the alarm that there was something wrong with the track over the Shermer Rd. bridge was still observing the scene as the coal train passed by.  What emotions were going through that unknown person’s mind as they saw the train approach?  What did they say to themselves as it began it’s passage over the bridge?  And what did they think as they saw their worst fears realized – as first one car, then another! then another! derailed and began to “accordion” into the northeast abutment of the bridge – each car weighing 260,000 lbs. and moving at 35 MPH!  The noise must have been horrible!  The shaking of the ground, the scream or ripping steel, samshing, grinding and then the bridge collapsing on to Shermer Rd., on to the Lindners as they saw, horrified, their lives coto an end!

28 fully loaded coal cars smashed into each other, over the next 30 seconds as the rear locomotive – still in motion from inertia in spite of the cutting of the derailment’s compressed air line being already cut – kept on pushing, pushing coal car after coal car onto the bridge until, overloaded beyond its ability to maintain its structural viability, the entire bridge collapsed onto the Lindners car – hopefully, mercifully killing both of them instantly.

This, at least, is the official version of the derailment, according to the Union Pacific Railroad, as they attempted to describe it to the assembled citizens of Northbrook and Glenview at the Community Meeting on July 16, 2012. 

But is this what actually happened? 


To be continued



Life In the Land of the Flag-Worshippers – UPDATED!

These two four images are of a display recently spotted at a public library in the near suburbs of Chicago.

The text reads:

“Have an old and worn flag and don’t know what to do with it?

“My name is [we’re not publishing this poor wretch’s name – IWPCHI] and I am collecting these old flags to be retired respectfully.

“Put any old flag in this box knowing that [Boy Scout] Troop 179 will respectfully retire them all.

“Any comments, questions, or concerns please contact me at [phone number mercifully ‘redacted’] or RetiringFlags@gmail.com”

Isn’t that precious?

And there was already a flag deposited “respectfully” in this trash can waiting to be “respectfully” retired.

UPDATE:  The flags are (gasp!) apparently reproducing in the trashcan!

All this flag-love is so… touching! *Sob!*

You see: they lined this TRASH CAN with a tablecloth with an American Flag motif, so that the flags aren’t really in a “TRASH CAN” – they are “respectfully” nestled in the bosom of another flag!  Oh, it’s so beautiful!

I’m sure that Mr. [mercifully redacted] is sleeping well at night, finally, knowing that all these flags will be “respectfully retired” by Boy Scout Troop [mercifully redacted]!  And so will we!

And so, we’re sure, will you!






UPDATE 2:  Our reporter on the scene says the trash can respectful temporary resting place is getting full… and several of the “worn out” flags being deposited there… don’t seem to be all that worn out at all!  In fact, they’re in pretty good condition!

Could it be that this “noble service” being provided by this Boy Scout troop might give the workers of this town a chance to “get rid” of a flag they’re sick and tired of defending day after day, only to see the US capitalist class, its US Government, military and bought-and-paid-for politicians bringing greater discredit to it with every passing hour?


Thanks to Everyone who Participated in our Venus Transit 2012 Event in Chicago on June 5th!

The Independent Workers Party would like to thank all the folks who stopped by our event  at Jackson and Canal Sts. in downtown Chicago yesterday to observe the Transit of Venus!  It was fun to meet you and to share this rare celestial even with so many people, many of whom were not aware that they could actually observe it from downtown Chicago, or who were thinking that they would not get the chance to see it due to work schedule conflicts or time constraints.

We were able to put together a number of instruments to safely observe the Venus Transit.  We had a telescope that we intended to bring, but as it was deemed impossible to make it 100% safe for small children, we left it at home.  We constructed 3 “pinhole camera” solar projector boxes, which, unfortunately, proved to be not of much use in observing the transit, as the images projected were too blurry to delineate the disk of Venus.

The weather conditions could not have been better: it was about 72 degrees (F.) and not a cloud in the sky.

Fortunately, we had purchased a couple of 4.5″ x 5.5″ pieces of #14 welders glass, which we duct taped to the cut-in-half tops of some bankers boxes we had lying around.  We just cut out a rectangle from the center of the half-box-top 3/4″ smaller all around than the glass, and duct taped it onto the inside of the box top.  This made a nice shield from the sun for the face and gave a nice big area in which to see the solar disk.

Our observations began at 5:00 PM using both the projector boxes and the welder’s glass.  It was obvious right away that the projector boxes would not work very well, as the image of the sun, even on the 6′ long box we made, was large enough but too blurry.  The welder’s glass, though, gave a nice, crisp image of the Sun… and within a few minutes of the start of the Transit – in commenced at 5:04 PM Chicago time – I (a rather experienced but very amateur astronomer – could barely make out the small semicircular “bite” that had been taken out of the solar disk at about the 1:00 position; others who tried to see it could not.  As the transit proceeded and the entire disk of Venus was surrounded by the solar disk, the planet Venus was clearly visible to nearly everyone who looked through our viewers.  Only a couple of people with apparently very poor eyesight and, thanks to our country’s lack of universal health care, no corrective lenses, were unable to see the black dot on the face of the Sun. Those with good eyesight and those who wore glasses correcting nearsightedness could immediately see the disk of Venus once it was engulfed by the solar disk.

We were somewhat surprised at the large number of people who passed us by, completely ignoring our offer to “See the Transit of Venus!  Next time you’ll get to see it is in 2117”!  Probably 85-95% of the hundreds – perhaps thousands (I wasn’t counting, but it was in the middle of rush hour) of people who passed us either ignored us or, obviously not having heard or understood what we were saying, said “no, thanks” or “not today” – as if those responses made any sense at all.  America is indeed a country where most people are conditioned to ignore their fellow citizens and to avoid making even brief eye contact with strangers.  Americans are, quite simply, afraid of each other. The brutality of the capitalist system of the United States, which pits every working person against their fellows in a savage struggle for survival of the fittest results in the dehumanization of the population.  Even beggars exhibiting the most pitiful and undoubtedly authentic signs of extreme physical and psychological distress are callously ignored and brushed aside by the citizens of the United States with heartless comments like “not today” or “no thanks”!   Americans are afraid to look into the eyes of the homeless because they seem to fear that doing so would cause them to “contract poverty” as if it was a communicable disease.  But it is just this kind of social dislocation and refusal to act together and to take the responsibility to care for our unfortunate brothers and sisters on the streets that sets the stage for our own downfall when we lose our jobs and find ourselves facing homelessness!  As long as we stick with the capitalist economic system we are all at risk of “contracting” the “disease” of poverty!

At times, I I felt as if I could have been standing there at the corner of Jackson and Canal with a bag of nuggets of pure gold, giving them away for free and the vast majority of the people would have just walked right past me without even glancing in my direction.

The redeeming feature of the event was, of course, that 10-15% of genuine human beings who either saw others viewing the sun through the viewers and were curious as to what we were doing or who knew about the Transit of Venus already and jumped at the chance to see it.  They were not ignoring what was going on around them and many heard my spiel and walked on a bit, only to turn around and come back and ask: “Can you see it from here?”  Some had heard about the event but were unable to get to the Adler Planetarium for their big public celebration of the transit, and thus who sadly expected to miss the whole show.

We stayed at Jackson and Canal until about 6:30, when the sun started to go behind the roof of Union Station.  We then had to edge east along the south side of Jackson following the rays of the sun until around 7 by which time we had crossed the Chicago river at Jackson and the sun disappeared behind the rows of office towers.  There were a bunch of people waiting for the CTA bus there who took a peek at the transit just before the sun disappeared – many others just brusquely walked by.  After that, we moved to a location southwest of Union Station on the north side of Clinton, where the sun was clearly visible across a parking lot there.  Here, we met with a handful of curious people who enjoyed a view of this rare event and thanked us for it.

Finally, I had catch a METRA train to make a trip out to the suburbs, so I had to leave.  It was getting close to impossible to find a downtown location with a clear view of the sunset anyway.  I hopped on the train heading to Fox Lake, which was going northwest, which I assumed would give me another chance to do some observations as the Sun would be visible from the left side of the train.  This turned out to be true and I made several observations of the transit while in transit* – and was able to share the view with several of my fellow passengers, while, just as before, the majority either didn’t care to look or were afraid to ask to join us as we observed the event.  Thanks to everyone on the Fox Lake Metra train who observed the transit with me – I believe we are part of a very select group of human beings who ever observed a Transit of Venus from a moving vehicle!  And you were able to see it because you were not afraid to ask the man with the piece of welders glass taped to a box top what he was doing.  Congratulations to you!

I had hoped to continue sharing observations with more people once I arrived at my destination, but by the time I got there, the sun had descended so far in the sky that it was no longer visible above the treeline a block or two away.

Our Transit of Venus event wasn’t entirely utterly altruistic: there was an element of shameless but (I hope) unobtrusive promotion of the Independent Workers Party that took place as part of the event.  I passed out some business cards promoting the IWP to a number of people who stopped long enough to chat a bit or who frankly asked “why are you doing this?”  In this way I was able to meet a bunch of people from Chicago and even some folks from out of state and at least one person from another country who were interested in the Party and said they’d check out the blog; we’ve had another 30 hits on the website since yesterday, so I suppose they did just that!  In fact, since I posted the “Transit of Venus” article on June 5th, our daily hits have more than tripled; so I conclude here by thanking everyone once again for making the Transit of Venus event – our Party’s first public event! – a successful one!



PS: If you missed the Transit of Venus and would like to see some amazing videos of the event taken by a couple of NASA’s solar observation satellites, check out these websites:

http://venustransit.gsfc.nasa.gov/  [amazing views of the surface of the Sun as well as the transit];

http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/home.html   [In these videos, Venus passes outside the solar disk due to the fact that this spacecraft’s orbit takes it below the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, giving it a different view of the event (see article at link below).]

An excellent article on the transit from the SOHO website is here along with an amazing story of a French Astronomer, Jean-Baptiste Chappe d’Autoroche, who risked his life – twice – to obtain accurate observations of the Transit of Venus in the late 1700s is here:


NATO Summit Weekend – Do-It-Yourself Postcard From Chicago

Hello, _______!

How are you?  Hope you and ___________ are doing fine!  How’s the _______?  I hope ____ feeling better.  My ________ is just out of the ___________ and is _________________________________!

The more things ___________ the __________  they __________________________!  Isn’t it true?

I am here in Chicago enjoying living in our wonderful Orwellian police state watching the city as it gets taken over by a gang of murderous thugs protecting another gang of murderous thugs calling themselves “NATO”!

It’s a beautiful time to be visiting Chicago, unless you are traveling by boat near the NATO summit, in which case you may have your boat sunk by the US Navy.

You could fly in by private plane, but don’t get too close to the McCormick place, location of the NATO summit, because the US Air Force has promised to shoot down any plane coming within 2 miles of the convention center.

If you plan to take the train, be careful not to carry any packages larger than 15 inches by 15 inches by 4 inches, as they will be confiscated.  Also, do not try to bring any liquids in containers larger than 3 ounces, as they too will be confiscated.  No bicycles are allowed on the trains, but you can bring a baby stroller… HOWEVER! If you are breast-feeding your baby, you can not bring more than 3 ounces of breast milk or it will be confiscated… and if you make a fuss about this, you, the stroller and your baby will go to jail!

If you are already in the city and would like to go out for dinner or to go shopping, you may have a difficult time finding a restaurant or shop that is open, as the ridiculous warnings by the police state of attacks by gangs of crazed protesters have caused the owners of many stores and businesses to close for the duration of the NATO summit.

Beware of the dangerous protesters, with their crazy demands for things like universal healthcare, an end to all wars, and feeding, clothing and sheltering all the world’s poor people!  Imagine living in a world like that!  No, really!  Imagine it!

Other than all that, I’m really enjoying my stay in Chicago… and remembering to always LOVE BIG BROTHER!

Wish You Were Here?