Archive for the ‘Public Safety’ Category

Medical Districts and Their Arterial and Access Streets Should be Off Limits to Demonstrations

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

With demonstrations an almost daily occurrence in Chicago, it now makes sense to bar demonstrations from medical districts and from the arterial and access streets leading to those districts within a two mile radius.

While police can sometimes allow emergency vehicles to pass through a demonstration, too often surgeons, physicians, nurses, technicians, expectant mothers, the ill, the elderly, and critical supplies, if not organ donations, are delayed in traffic to and from hospitals, particularly Northwestern Memorial, especially by demonstrations along the Magnificent Mile. Ohio and Ontario Streets, Lake Shore Drive, and all streets leading directly to and from, should not be obstructed by demonstrations within two miles of Northwestern Memorial.

The same should go for the Illinois Medical District on the Near West Side, and for the University of Chicago Hospitals.

There are plenty of places in Chicago where demonstrators can make their point. But their point should not come at the cost of putting the medical care and health of others at risk. Health care providers and critical supplies should at all times be able to travel to and from medical centers unimpeded. Expectant mothers, senior citizens, and the ill should not be stuck in traffic for hours because of the demonstration du jour, however worthy the cause.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Aphorism CIV

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

The dramatic increase in public awareness of police excessive force and killings is due to the proliferation of Internet-linked cameras following technological advance and to new forms of association due to social media, not due to an increase in police excessive force and killings.

There have been police excessive force and killings with impunity for thousands of years. But the new integration of phone and camera technology has made these killings visible, and has made it possible for citizens to respond in coordinated ways to police excessive force and killings.

Now police excessive force and killings cannot occur with impunity. This change has been the dream of reformers for millennia.

Technology has brought us to a new point with the age-old question, Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Who will guard these guardians?

There have always been police excessive force and killings. Now we can see more of them, and react in appropriate ways that protect the rights of citizens.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Lead Piping and the Chicago Plumbers Union in the 1980s

Monday, August 8th, 2016

Many have forgotten, but I didn’t. The removal of lead pipes and lead solder from water piping installations was fought bitterly by Local 130 of the plumbers union in Chicago in the 1980s, prior to federal legislation later in that decade that overruled local legislation and banned such use of lead. This is one clear case in US history in which organized labor defended a dangerous environmental hazard with which we are living today.

Here’s a quote from the Chicago Tribune on March 30, 1986 from an article by Casey Bukro: “More than a decade after other major American cities outlawed lead in drinking water pipes, Chicago officials hope to overcome resistance from the influential plumbers union and enact a similar ban here.” Read in the light of 2016, the rest of the article is damning.

Nowhere in the many lead-in-the-water stories today does one find the role of plumbers unions in fighting the removal of lead from the water piping installations, which was clearly and indisputably documented by the Chicago press in the 1980s.

Unions do many good things, but in some cases such as the above, when they put their own interest above the public interest, they can harm the common good.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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The Rise of Virtual Shirt Movements

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

In a 2010 post, I wrote about the history of “shirt movements” like the Blackshirts and the Brownshirts, and how these violent thugs drove more moderate associations and leaders from the public square in the 1920s, 30s, and thereafter, allowing Fascist and other totalitarian movements to take power.

Thanks to Twitter and other social media, it is now possible to mount a virtual shirt movement of hundreds of thousands of participants (but usually a much smaller, but very vocal group) to marginalize individuals and one’s political or social opposition.

Since this virtual shirt movement phenomenon is still immature, many individuals are shaken when seemingly thousands of persons virtually gang up on them. However, as this phenomenon does mature and become better understood, we may see a situation in which only virtual reactions involving one million or more participants will be taken seriously, and only if they sustain themselves over time. Universities are especially susceptible to relatively small virtual shirt movements.

Right now, virtual shirt movements seem very powerful. This power may degrade as it is better understood, and as information countermeasures are established.

A virtual shirt movement may seem “fierce,” but these “virtually fierce” ones eventually can be virtually discredited and even ignored as their manipulative efforts are themselves revealed and better understood.

But if virtual shirt movements are taken too seriously and are allowed to succeed, we will see the makings of a new virtual fascism or totalitarianism. One sure harbinger of Fascism is a group of thugs who drive their opposition from the public square, virtually or otherwise.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Without a Legislative and Regulatory Reform Agenda, Police Reform Related to Deadly Force and the Suppression of Evidence Will Fail

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

So far, activists protesting the killing of Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police have naively generated no viable legislative or regulatory change agenda.

Without such an agenda, in the end all their public demonstrations will be for naught, and some day, there will be another such killing, and another such suppression of evidence by rogue police. So far, hucksters and anarcho-tourists without any real legislative or regulatory agenda have dominated the activist response, which means that, in the end, all the activism is about them, and not about lasting, effective change.

Much more formality needs to be added to the process for police to acquire security video from the proximity of crime scenes, so that such acquisitions are a matter of public record and that the data are protected. Police hiding and/or alteration / destruction of video and phone records related to any crime should be subject to stringent federal penalties, both to the perpetrators and to the offending police department.

Police internal regulations can also be changed, as can the law governing the use of deadly force, in order to limit deadly force and in order to protect evidence. Now is the time to obtain commitments from mayors, governors, legislators, and regulators, for real legislative and regulatory change. The activists instead are focusing on replacing officials without demanding a legislative and regulatory change agenda.

But as is often the case in political action, identity maintenance supporting the egos of the activists or supporting their favored candidates and not supporting real legislative or regulatory change is dominating the scene.

Until the activists go back to school on how to change laws and to change regulations, they will remain glorious failures, and in the end will have accomplished nothing of substance. What a lost opportunity!

© Copyright 2015, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Start by Enforcing the Mandated Reporting on Police Excessive Use of Force per the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, co-authored by Vice President Joe Biden when a senator, contains language mandating the reporting of local police “excessive force” to the federal government. According to reports, local police departments stonewall, and do not adequately report police “use of excessive force” as required under this Act.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is the ancient Latin phrase depicting the dilemma of finding someone to guard the guardians.

It is shameful that local police departments are out of compliance with federal law on reporting police use of excessive force. Had both local and federal government officials taken this reporting obligation more seriously, we might not be seeing as many deaths and the consequent social disturbances from police shootings. Perhaps there is something this present administration and Congress can do about getting better compliance to a law so closely connected with the Vice President. Certainly, a bi-partisan issue. . .

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Fighting College Sexual Assault Without Addressing College Alcohol Abuse Won’t Work

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

The President and Vice President unveiled on 9/19/14 a national effort to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses.

While the President’s statement mentioned a few tips about protecting inebriated students from harm, addressing college alcohol abuse itself, so closely related to college sexual assault, is apparently not front and center in the President’s campaign.

The President’s statement enumerated a long list of individuals responsible for addressing the problem of college sexual assault. But he left out mentioning the liquor industry, of which several state legislatures are wholly-owned subsidiaries. The liquor industry makes big money off of college alcohol abuse, and this alcohol abuse helps drive the economy of many a college town. College sexual assault is one of the sad results.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,
Each year an estimated 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol related sexual assault or date rape.

I applaud the President’s effort on reducing college sexual assault. But I caution that this effort will not address a root cause of college sexual assault unless it also comes to terms with the very strong link between college alcohol abuse and college sexual assault, and changes the way the liquor industry interacts with the college-age population.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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In Loco Helicopter Parentis

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

The following is an outtake from my run-of-the-mill hedonism essay–

Some colleges try to fight run-of-the-mill hedonism to a draw. At many campuses during major entertainment events where alcohol is served, “spotting the ambulance” reveals the contradictory dynamic. The ambulance in this case, often tastefully tucked around a corner, represents just about the last vestige of in loco parentis or the parental commonsense proposition in collegiate life, for near the ambulance are emergency medical technicians and student affairs staff: the alcohol poisoning rescue squad. Their job is to make sure no one dies at the event. This squad wades into the crowd when an imbibing student collapses at risk of cardiac arrest, and runs interference with the student’s friends who don’t think there is anything really wrong and who think they can all “handle it,” and gets the ill student quickly to the emergency room where the student’s life can be saved. The rescue squad represents a firm point of contradiction to our Zeitgeist’s rejection of parental responsibility, despite systematic efforts by civil libertarians over the greater part of a century to reduce parental authority. The rescue squad stands in loco helicopter parentis, whom, it turns out, colleges need after all.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Aphorism LXXI

Friday, November 8th, 2013

There has been much hoopla in the past several years over the economic success of the so-called “boystown” same-sex enclaves in a number of cities. While such areas very positively provide safety and security for citizens to quietly enjoy the benefits of life without harassment, it is also true that these enclaves cannot be solely sustained by the LGBTQ population itself, which is relatively small in number.

One secret to the economic success of the “boystown” neighborhoods is that they are located within larger “boozetown” drink and entertainment districts serving recent college graduates and young professionals.

Without “boozetowns,” “boystowns” would not thrive, nor would pride parades have grown to number in the hundreds of thousands.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Implications of the Weapons from The Day the Earth Stood Still

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Reports over the past years have tracked the progress of non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons, which can disable most electronic components within a given area, reminiscent of the classic 1951 science fiction film, The Day the Earth Stood Still. Here’s a recent update on the development of one such EMP weapon.

Such weapons have both offensive and defensive capabilities. A city hit by such a weapon would immediately be cast into the 1940s pre-transistor age, but without having access to the analogue technology of the 1940s. Not only would communications and vehicles not work, but neither would hospital equipment, furnaces and refrigerators built with modern digital components, nor would the utilities supplying electricity, nor would in some cases water and natural gas utilities function properly. The maintenance of human subsistence in such areas would decline rapidly. Supply chains of food and medicine would dry up. Police and public safety officers would not be able to communicate with one another, and the web of human care which has been so advanced by electronic technology would revert to verbal, paper, and the most basic forms of communications. Google and Facebook and cell phones would be worthless, transactions would revert to cash and barter, and it may be difficult after such an attack for a city to even effectively signal its own surrender.

I can imagine a scenario in which a nation constantly besieged by terror attacks would keep a permanent EMP zone around itself, to prevent coordination of terror attacks or the use of any but the most basic weapons against itself. I can also imagine a more strategic scenario in which an entire country could be kept in a permanent 1940s state by repeated EMP attacks, and be forced to remain totally dependent on other countries for technology and goods and services. The use of such EMP weapons will change warfare forever.

Preparations for civil defense against such weapons are just about non-existent. I remember what life was like without our present technology, and as a person who studies planning and systems, I shudder to imagine what society would become if the use of such weapons against cities became widespread.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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