Message from Montie

News Archives

Aug. 22 movie screening discusses HR 4437 and immigration issues from Mexico to U.S.


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May 1, 2006 Immigration March in downtown Chicago (Photo courtesy of Susan Yunan, LSNA Program Director)

CHICAGO -- Over 26,000 immigrants have been deported after the SB 1070 law went into effect, and although it's only in Arizona for now, Illinoisans are concerned. Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) is reminding Illinoisans about the deportation threat in a free movie screening of "Immigrant Nation!: The Battle for the Dream" at 6 p.m., Sun., Aug. 22, at 2840 W. Logan Boulevard at Central Hispanic Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Click here for more info on the movie screening.

Click here to find out info on citizenship courses in the Chicago area.

Opposition from Chicago citizen about retrying Blagojevich, Chicago debt high enough


Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich returns to his Chicago home after speaking in Springfield at his impeachment trial. (Tribune photo by Phil Velasquez / January 29, 2009)

I followed the trial. I listened to Blagojevich on numerous talk shows. I heard the tapes. And although I thought he was going to be found guilty, I raised an eyebrow when he was only found guilty of 1 out of 24 counts. But after all the drama of the case, I simply don't want him to be retried again. Enough is enough.

While the juror who refused to find Blagojevich is still silent about her decision, other jurors are on Chicago news stations explaining their views. I was not in the courtroom and don't know what made certain jurors think he was not guilty on certain charges. I do think he was trying to sell the Senate seat, but the trial is over and should be over for good.


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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith interview Pres. Barack Obama

Will Smith, known for million-dollar movies like "Independence Day," "Hitch," "Bad Boys 1-2" and "I Am Legend" and "I, Robot" was nervous. Who would think that the star of the '90s TV sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" could be nervous in front of a camera? But he was nervous last week during a meeting, even with his wife at his side. Why? Because he was interviewing President Barack H. Obama.

Will Smith stated, "This is the first time I've been nervous in front of a camera in a long time."

Obama's response? "Just think back to Prince of Bel-Air, man."

Jada Pinkett-Smith, most popularly known as Lena James from "A Different World," the voice of the hippopotamus on "Madagascar" and the star of the show "HawthoRNe," seemed at ease. Check out the Smiths' interview with Obama on a Nobel Peace Prize speech comment "expanding our moral imagination," Internet communication, putting yourself in someone else's shoes and First Lady Michelle Obama.



Soul Vegetarian East restaurant closed down for over 700 mice droppings


Blogger's Note, 1/17/10: Judging from the massive amount of visits to this blog but so few on the follow-up blog stating that Soul Vegetarian has re-opened, some are still unaware that the restaurant is back in business. Readers, please feel free to check out "Soul Vegetarian and Eternity Juice Bar restaurants re-open after passing city inspection."


Soul Vegetarian East and Eternity Juice Bar restaurants were closed late Tuesday night on Dec. 15 by Mayor Daley's Dumpster Task Force. These two restaurants were temporarily shut down due to pest control and mice infestation, including over 700 mice droppings at Soul Veg and over 300 mice droppings at Eternity Juice Bar.


The Task Force was in the area because of complaints about garbage and rodent activity. When inspectors paid a visit to the vegetarian restaurant and juice bar, over 1,000 mice droppings were found in a common storage area, and the restaurants were immediately shut down. Soul Vegetarian restaurant is located at 205 E. 75th Street and Eternity Juice Bar is located at 203 E. 75th Street.


"They will not be able to open until they've cleaned their operations from top to bottom," said Matt Smith, spokesman for the Department of Streets and Sanitation, to ChicagoNow's Message from Montie blogger. "They've [also got to] show our task force inspectors plans for revamping their housekeeping and pest control efforts and then they have to inspect and pass a very tough re-inspection."



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Chris Brown leaves Twitter, how to make social media networking site Twitter useful


Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times (courtesy of

On Monday, Dec. 14, R&B superstar Chris Brown closed his account on Twitter after a weekend of ranting about the music industry blackballing him and retail stores not stocking his music. I heard this on Power 92 but went into a Skokie Walmart location a few minutes later and saw Chris Brown's new CD, "Graffiti," on an end deck at the top in plain sight. Now whether other retail locations really did sell out of his CDs, as reports, is something only the store managers can confirm or deny but I see Chris Brown's CDs everywhere in Chicago.


But what Chris Brown and a plethora of other celebrity Twitter users who left the social media site confirmed is that what you say in those 140 characters can help or hurt you. Swizz Beatz's ex-wife Mashonda lit into Alicia Keys' Twitter account for a tweet she made. Holly Robinson Peete got into a little bit of a verbal scuffle for comments she made about athlete Steve McNair. Willie of Day 26 had a little bit of drama over a conversation he had about his wife forgetting an item he wanted packed in his bag. Willie Twitter users didn't appreciate how he was talking to his wife, especially when she called him disrespectful, and they laid into him.


Other celebrities like Lil' Wayne and Kid Cudi left, and Beyonce publicly stated that she leaves Twitter up to her sister Solange Knowles and doesn't have a Twitter account. But Twitter isn't just trouble for celebrities who avoid the PR monitoring.



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Seven-year-old Lamya Cammon gets hair cut off by Milwaukee teacher

My older brother warned me about Ms. Ricks, my new third grade teacher, who loved to cuff people behind the ear when she was upset with them. But I was a studious kid and didn't look for trouble, so imagine my embarrassment when Ms. Ricks slapped me upside the head for not knowing the answer to a math problem. The class erupted in laughter, and I cried for the rest of class. Twenty-one years later, I still remember that. But when I read WISN's report about what happened to Lamya Cammon by her first grade teacher at Congress Elementary School, my incident seemed lightweight.


A Milwaukee teacher was charged with disorderly conduct and a $175 fine for cutting off one of the braids of Lamya Cammon. Why? Because the teacher got tired of her playing with her hair. I guess Chris Rock's "Good Hair" movie wasn't enough proof of how black women and girls regard their hair. You do not cut anybody's hair because you're tired of them playing with it. I don't care who you are. I've never even heard of a black mother cutting her daughter's hair off. Do you know how long it takes for black females' hair to grow back? We don't wake up a month later and the hair is just back to its previous length.


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It doesn't mean prayer like you think.


I've never voted for a Republican president. Oftentimes I do not agree with their views, but if somebody gave me a bumper sticker or a T-shirt praying for a Republican government official to die, I'd look at that person like he was insane. But on and, bumper stickers and T-shirts were being sold stating, "Pray for Obama Psalm 109:8." The King James' version of this psalm is as follows:



8 May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.

9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.


10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.


11 May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.


12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.


13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation.


14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.


15 May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.




I don't care how much you don't like President Barack Obama's policies. Wishing he'd not only be kicked out of office but dead, making First Lady Michelle Obama a widow and his children Sasha and Malia beg for food, is worse than "certainly not very nice." I read that "it's certainly not very nice" comment on USA Today's Web site from Cathleen Falsani and just shook my head. Something "not very nice" is shouting "You lie!" or throwing tomatoes. These folks supporting the "Pray for Obama Psalm 109.8" is flat out threatening. And with the history that Obama has created, it's not even realistic or logical to pray for.



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Tomatoes meant for Sarah Palin land in police officer's face


Jeremy Olson

I've daydreamed about hitting Sarah Palin with tomatoes, but Jeremy Olson actually followed through. Only problem was his aim apparently is only good for the boys in blue.


According to, 33-year-old Jeremy Olson was at the Mall of America today and allegedly had four tomatoes ready to aim and plow. He allegedly threw two in the direction of Sarah Palin during her "Going Rogue" book signing, missed completely, but he managed to hit Bloomington Commander Mark Stehlik right in the face.


Jeremy, what are you doing? As big as her mouth is and as much as she just loves to be in the spotlight, how could you miss? He threw two of the four tomatoes from the second floor balcony and was then arrested for suspicion of assault and disorderly conduct.



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Assist Her, Daughters of Donia and Lupe Fiasco Foundation create empowerment conference for teenage girls at Paul Robeson High School



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Photo courtesy of Ayesha Jaco

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Photo courtesy of Samantha Coleman





Chicago's south side Paul Robeson High School has developed quite the reputation lately for being labeled the school with one out of seven girls who are pregnant. But it turns out that the 115 Paul Robeson High School students reported as moms or moms-to-be aren't all moms, some are teenage fathers.


"Out of the 800 girls, 10 percent of those girls are in our program," Ms. Phillips, Parent Educator at Paul Robeson High School, said. "Eighty girls and we have about twenty-five guys that are in the program so that would bring our number to 115. That is [also] a combination of students that have given birth to their children already and students that are currently pregnant."


But the fact remains that there are still 115 teenage parents at the school and mentoring programs like the Lupe Fiasco Foundation, Daughters of Donia and Assist Her, Inc. have planned an event on Saturday, Dec. 5, to help change those statistics. The After I Met a Boy event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., on Sat., Dec. 5, at Paul Robeson High School on 6835 S. Normal Blvd.


Mentor group representatives Samantha Coleman, MA, LPC (the Executive Director of Assist Her, Inc.) and Ayesha Jaco (the co-founder of the Lupe Fiasco Foundation and the founder of Daughters of Donia) have created the After I Met a Boy empowerment conference focused on sexual education, prevention and mentoring for the ladies of Paul Robeson High School.


"I had heard about the high pregnancy rate at the school and a light bulb went off," said Jaco. "In lieu of the killings that have been going on and stats that came out last year--one in four girls between the ages of 14 and 21 have an STD--I was wondering what I could do to help."


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Bill Maher accuses Pres. Obama of sounding like Bush after presidential address on War in Afghanistan

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On the set of "Real Time With Bill Maher"

At 7 p.m. tonight, President Barack H. Obama talked about why he's sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, and as soon as he clarified his first reason, immediately I thought of HBO's political talk show host, Bill Maher.


Bill Maher was on "The Jay Leno Show" last night and compared America to herpes and cellulite because we (meaning America) just won't go away. On one hand, I see his point. America does hang around like the uninvited visitor after a war. However, I disagree with Bill Maher's latest Twitter Berry update stating: "Really Barry? U cldnt [sic] have sounded more like Bush if u mispronounced Nucleur."


I have consistently heard Maher say that President Obama is really intelligent, and he doesn't understand why Obama is keeping soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. At one point, I agreed with Maher. I felt like we shouldn't have gone to war in the first place and now Dubya put Obama in a frustrating situation since we've been at it for eight years.


However, after tonight's speech, I can kind of see where President Obama is going with his decision. Although I'm not thrilled with 30,000 more troops going overseas, the fact of the matter is that this particular president didn't just throw on some cowboy boots and try to look tough on a ranch before actually making his decision. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope his rationale for why America is sending over more troops is necessary. Although the numbers are down for al Qaeda, they're not eliminated. It didn't take a massive amount of people to strike on September 11. Remember that. 



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Illinois nonviolent prisoners released early this fall, will recidivism occur?


Governor Pat Quinn will be releasing 62 of 1,000 nonviolent prison inmates this fall to save Illinois $5 million, according to Chicago Breaking News. The nonviolent inmates are drug offenders and those convicted of nonviolent property crimes, but homicide or sex offenders will not be released, according to CBS2. The freed inmates will have to report to their parole officers each month, and these 400 parole officers are also in charge of monitoring 30,000 adult and juvenile parolees total.



The Illinois Department of Corrections 2003 study revealed that property offenders represent 30 percent of the prison population and drug offenders represent a little under one-fourth of the population even though they have the highest percentages of sentences imposed (38.5 percent imposed, 41.5 admissions and 43.1 released). If majority of the prison population are violent criminals and none of these criminals are being released, I can see why this decision was being made. I don't have a problem with it.


What I am concerned about is the current unemployment rate in Illinois. According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois unemployment skyrocketed to 10.2 percent leaving 15.7 million people unemployed.  If these unemployed people are fighting to find new jobs, I wonder whether newly released prisoners will hurt their chances. Probably not considering the hoops that ex-cons have to go through in order to find a job.


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Paintball gun shooting on south side of Chicago, Harmless Halloween prank or dangerous?


My mother called me this week and asked me was it quiet around my neighborhood during Halloween weekend. I told her that it was okay and nothing happened that stood out to me. Then she told me that my father had a different response. On his way home from a church event, two young guys aimed guns at my parents' car. My father took off speeding down the street thinking these guys were really going to shoot or rob him. Although he heard noises, he just kept on driving.


And then he got home, parked the car in the garage and finally got out of the car. He looked at my parents' car and saw yellow paint splashed all over their periwinkle Mercury Mystique. But instead of being mad, he was relieved that it wasn't real bullets. And while I'm glad he's relieved that these guys didn't have real guns, I'm relieved too. But I'm not amused. I'm pissed off that he even had to go through that type of scare.



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Mixed reaction on Twitter to Rihanna speaking out about domestic abuse on 'Good Morning America,' forehead trending topic


In this publicity image released by ABC, Diane Sawyer, left, interviews singer Rihanna about her relationship with ex-boyfriend Chris Brown in New York. The interview aired on the morning program "Good Morning America," Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009, and will also air Friday on the prime time news program "20/20: Good Morning America". (AP Photo/ABC, Ida Mae Astute)

A week before Valentine's Day, R&B singer Chris Brown was being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department for assault on his then-girlfriend pop star Rihanna. After the February 8 notorious fight that put Rihanna in the hospital with a bruised face, an image of her face taken by LAPD was then posted on TMZ's Web site. Nine months later, Rihanna finally spoke out after Chris Brown had already issued a public apology on his Web site and gone on CNN's "Larry King Live." In the interview on ABC's "20/20: Good Morning America" on Nov. 6 at 9 pm, Rihanna talked about what a woman goes through after being physically abused.


The terms "Rihanna" and "Chris Brown" immediately became trending topics on, but another topic to hit the top of the trending topics was "#rihannasforehead." Rihanna had finally decided to talk to the public about how horrifying, embarrassing and personal this tragedy was between her and someone she was in love with, and Twitter users treated it like a joke with tweets like "While driving up #RihannasForehead, I had to fill up twice and got lost three times!" (1:53 am) and "Can #rihannasforehead compete with #tyrasforehead" (1:53 am). Some Twitter users were not amused by this trending topic, declaring "#rihannasforehead This is the most mean and hateful thing ever. You people have no hearts. Rihanna is beautiful inside and out" (1:53 am) and "I C #rihannasforehead is trending, wow, people can be so rude, how do you think she's gonna feel when she C's this." (1:52 am)

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My counterargument: Principal Steve Perry wants Obama kids to go to public school


CNN featured Principal Steve Perry on "Black in America" Part 2

President Barack H. Obama voluntarily ran for the President of the United States of America, but I don't see one piece of documentation stating that Sasha and Malia Obama had to be the guinea pigs for public school education. However, tonight on CNN's "Black Men in the Age of President Obama," Dr. Steve Perry discussed Obama's decision to not send his daughters to a public school with CNN news anchor Don Lemon.


And while I respect Principal Steve Perry, of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut, for what he's done for his students, I disagree. Principal Perry was featured on CNN's "Black in America" Part 2, and his school boasts a nearly zero percent dropout rate. Principal Perry himself gets up at four something in the morning to take students to school who do not have the necessary transportation. Shirts must be buttoned and ties must be worn on male students, and suit coats are also worn. Capital Preparatory Magnet School is nearly 80 percent Latino and African-American, and every graduating member of Perry's school has gone on to a four-year university.


However, that's not the norm in most public schools. So while he wants President Obama to set the example by sending his daughters to a public school, the teachers worldwide should also have the same professionalism and drive that Principal Steve Perry has. In 12 years of being in public school, I don't recall one of my teachers being so in love with their jobs that they got up and took students to school. Perry is jumping the gun by thinking every teacher is going to be like him.


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Black hair filmmaker Regina Campbell has a hearing to sue comedian Chris Rock for 'Good Hair'


After seeing Chris Rock's film, "Good Hair" today, I found out that there is a hearing set for October 19, 2009 with Federal District Judge Dale S. Fischer about his film being released. Regina Campbell, the plaintiff, produced a film called "My Nappy Roots" and stated that Chris Rock did not tell her he was producing a film about black hair too before he saw her movie screening. Chris Rock apparently admitted to seeing the film, but there are mixed statements about whether Chris Rock told Regina Campbell about his HBO deal for a black hair film before or after the film.


Initially when I heard this news, I was wondering "What's the big deal?" You cannot copyright an idea. I worked with the Library of Congress for two years and read contracts repeatedly to make sure my previous employer's educational textbooks were properly registered. I've seen documentaries on black hair and the perm industry from films like Aron Ranen's black hair care documentary, in which he talked about how black hair care manufacturer Kizure was having a tough time selling its products because of the Asian market taking over, but I never heard about a lawsuit against Aron Ranen. (Ironically, even when I google "black hair manufacturers," I see a bunch of Chinese products.) Aron Ranen isn't trying to sue Chris Rock, although Chris Rock also touched on Koreans and Chinese people were discriminating against black hair care manufacturers.  

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Pres. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, but where's the peace?

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Me on the Magnificent Mile headed across the street to Grant Park

On Friday morning, Oct. 9, I was working on a financial project downtown when I heard the news from my mother about President Obama winning a Nobel Peace Prize. My first reaction was to ask aloud, "What for?" Up until this week, I'd never really paid attention to the rules and regulations of nominating or winning the prize, but after looking at the Nobel Peace Prize Web site, I'm still perplexed as to why Obama won. Prizes are given out for scientific (physics, chemistry, medicine); literary; and peaceful accomplishments.


According to the Web site, "Each year the respective Nobel Committees send individual invitations to thousands of members of academies, university professors, scientists from numerous countries, previous Nobel Laureates, members of parliamentary assemblies and others, asking them to submit candidates for the Nobel Prizes for the coming year." And if I was on that committee, there's no way I would have voted for him at this time. While Obama does make most Liberals and Democrats and some Republicans feel like we've gotten out of the George W. Bush catastrophe, Obama hasn't really done anything yet that deserves recognition in his presidential term.

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Music group The Myriad partners with HSUS to promote animal rights

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Souvenirs for The Myriad

 Before this week, I had no idea who The Myriad was. Outside of Aerosmith, Roisin Murphy, Ace of Base and Marilyn Manson, I'm pretty much an R&B and hip hop lover, but when the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) told me about The Myriad's concert to bring awareness to animal cruelty, I looked this group up. The Myriad has accomplished some outstanding things, including earning MTV's 2008 Artist of the Week and MTV2's 2007 Dew Circuit Breakout competition, and their 2008 album, "With Arrows, With Poise" was a number 13 debut on the Billboard Heatseekers , in addition to being a top 40 album on iTunes.


Music artists Tyrone Wells and Matt Hires also teamed up for a Fall 2009 tour with HSUS's faith outreach program around the country to talk about animal rights activism. They hit up Chicago on Saturday, Oct. 10, at Lakeshore Theater, located at 3175 N. Broadway St.


The songs were pretty good, and I shook my head at the creepy story they told about a band member who slept in the basement of what was believed to be a haunted house. Now they can't find him. (Timing is everything, I guess, since Halloween is around the corner.) During a break between songs, the audience found out that the drummer had a major medical issue before The Myriad went on tour, but his doctor agreed to let him travel anyway. I'd like to thank the drummer's doctor because I was completely impressed by the drummer's funk and skill playing his instrument. On top of that, for the intensity of his health issues, I give him the utmost respect for even agreeing to go on tour.


Wells and The Myriad performed between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., a video for the HSUS and the Myriad played and audience members were asked to text message to a certain number in order to win a free shirt.



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CTA bus crash on corner of Granville, Sheridan intersection


CTA bus crash on the corner of Sheridan and Granville

 Driving home around 1:52 a.m., on Saturday morning, Oct. 10, by the intersection of Granville and Sheridan, I saw a CTA bus (number 1855) that had apparently crashed into the fence of Sacred Heart Schools located at 6250 N. Sheridan Rd., a few blocks away from the Granville Red Line Station. There was no ambulance around, and the bus was dark. Two police cars were on sight. Right now, it is unclear whether passengers were aboard the bus when the crash happened. The driver was nowhere in sight.


Update 9:35 p.m. on October 10, 2009:

There is now a fence in place of the one that was crashed in. The bus has been removed. Construction trucks are on the inside of the area.


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New fence in place of crashed in fence

Chicago Public high school fight brings back memories of past rival high school incident, CTA hero


As much as I wish Chicago Tribune reporters Azam Ahmed, Kristen Mack and Annie Sweeney didn't have to report on stories like "Fenger kids tell why they fight" and that the Derrion Albert murder hadn't occurred altogether, I think it's a step in the right direction to let these kids speak up. This article gave these kids the opportunity to tell their side instead of the police brushing it off as "gang related." Fenger student Vashion Bullock's question, "How many times you want me to walk away? We've been running for so long and we're tired of running" struck a chord. But it was one sentence on the second page that really brought back my own high school memories: "Since Albert never claimed loyalty to either side, no one was sure with whom he was fighting, witnesses said."


And that's what I hope those who keep criticizing these kids understand. Although this particular fight was apparently neighborhood-related instead of gang-related, there are many similarities in attitudes. People join cliques (or gangs) for various reasons, and not all of them are these dangerous, crime-hungry children. I have known countless young men in my childhood and teenage years who joined for survival. They were tired of running home from gangs everyday. They were tired of being pulled out of cars and vans when sitting quietly trying to hide from the brothas on the corner. They were tired of being scared to go to school. And although they would complain to the principals, their teachers, their parents and family friends, these people could not be around them every single moment of the day. That's where the police come in, and oftentimes, once you left school grounds, you were on your own.

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Carroll Care Center partners with HSUS to eliminate dogfighting in Chicago

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Tio Hardiman, anti-dogfighting advocate recruiter, stands with pit bull Brisko

 Pit bulls have a bad reputation for being aggressive, only wanting to fight and not being good pets. This is why I never desired to have one, but after visiting Chicago's west side Carroll Care Center location in early September, I had to rethink that stereotype.


While waiting to complete interviews with pit bull trainers from the Carroll Care Center, I sat in the recreation area watching the owners of 12 pit bulls focus on the dog-training lessons that lead pit bull trainer, Jeff Jenkins, taught them. Carroll Care Center partners with the Humane Society of the United States to help in eliminating dogfighting, pit bull owners learn to train their dogs to be obedient and rescued dogs are often sent to the anti-dogfighting center. Of course there were dogs who weren't from a dogfighting background who were also being trained.


Gallery sneak peek (15 images):

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Teenage cop impersonator sentenced to three months in prison

When did prison become sexy? When did it become the hot spot for teenagers to go to?  The 15-year-old teenage cop impersonator seems to be deadset on going to prison while there are plenty of men out on the streets who wish they could get years back on their lives for making dumb decisions in their younger years. Three times total, the teenage cop impersonator is now sentenced to three months in prison, and I don't get the impression he even cares.


At 14 years old, the teenage cop impersonator walked into the Grand Crossing District dressed as a police officer and rode around in a squad car undetected for five hours, according to the Chicago Tribune. And in this January incident, he wasn't alone so he had to be believable to the officer sitting next to him. I thought that would be the last time I'd hear of him. If you want to be a cop, shouldn't you want to honor the legal system?

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New Chicago area code 872 goes into effect Nov. 7


On Nov. 7, 2009, all 312 and 773 callers in the Chicagoland area will have to dial the area code first on landlines and cell phones. The reason is because our new area code, 872, will go into effect. Keep this in mind for your cellular and print phonebooks. Don't wait until November to decide to edit those numbers.


According to an RCN notification I received, the price of a call, coverage area and other rates will remain the same. However, as a pricing precaution, I always test out local calls and local toll calls by using this Local Calling Guide Web site.

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Innocent bystander Derrion Albert killed, Chicago teenagers need alternatives to violence

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