Chicago PD's predictive policing tool has been shut down after 8 years of catastrophically bad results

In 2012, Chicago PD collaborated with the RAND Corporation and the Illinois Institute of Technology to automatically generate "risk scores" for people they arrested, which were supposed to predict the likelihood that the person would be a "party to violence" in the future (this program was called "TRAP" -- Targeted Repeat-Offender Apprehension Program" -- seemingly without a shred of irony). Now, that program has been shut down, and the City of Chicago's Office of the Inspector General has published a damning report on its eight-year reign, revealing the ways in which the program discriminated against the people ensnared in it, without reducing violent crime. Read the rest

Citing experience selling marijuana, unemployed Chicagoans seek permits to sell legally

Sweet home, Chicago!

Chicago Defender:

The men and women, some ex-felons, have turned to Tio “Mr. Ceasefire” Hardiman, executive director of Violence Interrupters, to assist them in their quest to secure permits, just like food vendors, to distribute and sell marijuana legally in their neighborhoods. For those who have felonies from illegal drug sales, they are requesting that Governor J.B. Pritzker clears the road for amnesty as soon as possible.

Hardiman and those seeking permits and amnesty will hold a rally and press conference outside The Herbal Care Center, 1301 S. Western Ave., on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, at 10:30 AM, calling on Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot to assist them in getting permits.

“Everyone is promising to direct profits from the sale of marijuana into the communities that have been most impacted by the sale of illegal drugs,” Hardiman said. “Well, these unemployed men and women are saying they can’t wait until that happens. And to be frank, they don’t believe it will happen. History shows those promises are never kept. The licensed cannabis businesses are already making millions of dollars from sales since January 1, and those citizens with the most experience in the industry are still in the streets unemployed.”

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Dave Riley, bassist for Big Black, RIP

Dave Riley, bassist for the influential 1980s Chicago noise-punk band Big Black, has died. He was 59. According to his partner Rachel Brown, he had throat cancer. What a fucking great player, he was. And what a fucking great band. From Rolling Stone:

“Dave was a fantastic musician and a critical part of the Chicago music scene,” (Big Black guitarist Steve) Albini tells Rolling Stone. “He bridged the gap between raw enthusiasm and outstanding musicianship better than anybody else in our peer group and I always admired him for it...”

“When I think about Dave, I think of him onstage, sweating, rolling on his heels, his bass making a rhythmic shrapnel cloud, the densest object in a very heavy construction," Albini wrote in his statement. “Then I think of him after the show, still sweaty but relaxed, easy with his humor and in possession of an impeccably sharp wit, comfortable with himself, comfortable being the hinge-pin of the evening. I miss playing with Dave, and I miss hanging out with him. He was a handful, but like most people we describe that way, he was worth it. Rest easy.”

Below, Big Black (Riley on right):

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Cards Against Humanity's Thanksgiving livestream pits a machine learning model against human joke writers

Cards Against Humanity asked Spencer Kelly to teach a computer to write mean, funny joke-cards for a new, AI-based expansion pack to the game; Kelly trained the popular GPT-2 generative language model (previously) on existing cards, and now the company is livestreaming a 16-hour competition between its AI and its human joke-writers, with a voting system to up/downvote the resulting jokes (at the end of the day, these votes will be "tallied up and thrown in the garbage"). You can choose to buy the resulting packs, and if the human team outsells the robots, it will receive a $5,000 bonus. If they fail, they will all be fired. Read the rest

Chicago teachers declare victory after 11-day strike

After 11 days, Chicago's teacher's strike is at an end, with the city agreeing to the majority of the union's demands, including: higher pay, limits on class sizes, a nurse and social worker in each school, 120 new "equity positions" (librarians, counselors and restorative justice coordinators), bilingual/special ed educators, and five make-up days for teachers and students to compensate for part of the missed instructional calendar. Read the rest

#RedForEd rebooted: Chicago's teachers are back on strike

The #RedForEd movement swept America in 2018 and 2019 as teachers in both "red states" and "blue states" staged massive -- sometimes illegal -- strikes, demanding a fair deal for themselves, their students, and their colleagues who drive buses, clean classrooms, and do other related work. Read the rest

Chicago driver goes full Blues Brothers, plows through suburban mall

A driver plowed through the Sears entrance of the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois this afternoon. The driver then continued on through the mall, destroying several kiosks and damaging storefronts before stopping. Read the rest

Abandoned coyote pup gets the care it deserves

Joey Santore's YouTube channel Crime Pays But Botany Doesn't has meat-and-potatoes approach to the wonders of the natural world: it's direct, informative and often funny as hell. Recently, while out in the field doing what he does, Santore came across what appeared to be an abandoned coyote pup. Emaciated, and possibly showing signs of mange, it was in pretty bad shape. After a quick chase, Santore cornered the pup and, well, just watch.

With the pup in rough enough shape that Santore was able to catch it, I'm hoping for the best, but assuming the worst. If it survives, I'll be happily surprised. Fingers crossed for a bit of good news on this one. Read the rest

Corruption is contagious: dirty cops make their partners dirty

Police unions have systematized and perfected the process of ensuring impunity for crooked cops, ensuring that even the most violent, lying, thieving, racist, authoritarian cops can stay on the force; at the same time, apologists for police violence and corruption tell us not to blame the whole force for the bad deeds of a few rotten apples. Read the rest

Pangea raised $180m to buy up low-rent Chicago properties "to help poor people," and then created the most brutally efficient eviction mill in Chicago history

Pangea was founded by Al Goldstein, a Deutsche Bank investment banker who quit to found a massive, intercontinental payday lending outfit; he tapped the investors that he enriched with his payday lending business to stake him $180 million and bought up thousands of low-rent buildings in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods (which are also Chicago's blackest neighborhoods). Read the rest

Uber drivers across America are going on strike -- UPDATED

Update: Shona from Gig Workers Rising clarifies: "Gig Workers Rising isn't organizing the national day of action. Drivers in each of the 6 cities taking action are coordinating the day of action together. Drivers in LA with Rideshare Drivers United Los Angeles called a strike and asked other cities to take action on the same day. Gig Workers Rising supports and educates drivers who are organizing across the state. We are not organizing drivers."

On May 8, Uber drivers are organizing a nationwide shutdown of Uber, with drivers turning off their apps in protest over low pay: so far, seven cities' drivers are signed up: Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Minneapolis, LA and DC. Uber and Lyft have both slashed pay for drivers and raised prices as they try to assuage the capital markets. Read the rest

Chicago is demanding that children on bail wear private-sector ankle-cuffs with mics that can record them without their consent

Children who end up caught in Chicago's policing and justice system are being outfitted with ReliAlert XC3 GPS ankle-cuffs supplied by the Track Group, who use them to log children's movements and to bark orders at them, as well as listening in on them. The children have to wear them 24/7 while on bail awaiting trial. Read the rest

Chicago's first gay, Black, woman mayor won all 50 wards, defeating the machine candidate with an anti-corruption campaign

Lori Lightfoot is Chicago's newest mayor, succeeding the notoriously corrupt establishment figure Rahm Emmanuel (who quit after two terms, triggering a race), and beating out Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who had been anointed by Chicago's legendarily unassailable Democratic machine as the next mayor. Read the rest

Free to a good home: 70 washed, empty cans of Popeye Spinach

Are you in Chicago? Do you want 70, washed, empty Popeye Spinach cans? Craigslist has you covered: "Stacked in a pyramid, they look like a modern art masterpiece one might find at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I ate a bunch of spinach years ago and never threw the cans away, if you’re wondering WTF." (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

Chicago! I'm at C2E2 this weekend with my new book RADICALIZED! Next up: San Francisco, Portland/Ft Vancouver, Seattle & Anaheim!

Last night's book tour event in Toronto was a smashing success! Thanks to everyone who came! I just checked in for my flight to Chicago for a weekend's worth of appearances at C2E2, and then on Monday I'll be at Berkeley Arts & Letters at 7:30PM with Richard Kadrey, then The Revolutionary Reads series at Ft Vancouver (outside of Portland, OR), and then the Seattle Public Library and finally a weekend of events at Wondercon in Anaheim. Come on out! (Image: Nikola Danaylov, CC-BY-SA) Read the rest

I'm going out on tour with my new science fiction book RADICALIZED and I hope to see you!

Radicalized is my next science fiction book, out on March 18 from Tor Books: it contains four novellas about the hope and misery of our moment, from refugees resisting life in an automated IoT hell to health care executives being targeted by suicide bombers who have been traumatized by watching their loved ones die after being denied care. Tor Books is sending me on tour with the book in the US and Canada and I hope you can make it to one of my stops! Read the rest

Chicago Police seek surveillance cams to ID attackers, 'MAGA' claims were true

UPDATE: Smollett lied, say cops: actor charged with filing false police report

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