Chicago Environmentalists Take Fight To Doorstep Of 'Worst Corporate Polluters'

Grassroots groups from all over Chicago’s progressive landscape came together for a Climate Convergence on Earth Day, chanting for environmental and economic justice. The activists marched to corporations they say are the worst environmental offenders to deliver cease-and-desist orders, including Boeing Co., JPMorgan Chase Bank, and the British Petroleum oil company.

“If we do not have immediate change, we will face climate catastrophe by 2050,’’ said Jackie Spreadbury, an organizer with Global Climate Convergence Chicago. She called for people, planets and peace over profits as the rally began in front of the State of Illinois Center Tuesday, The event included speeches and protest songs like “This Land is Your Land’’ and original songs tailored to the event.

“The forces against us are strong, so fight not just these ten days, but every day,’’ she said, referring to the 10 days of action GCC has scheduled through May 1, or May Day. The May Day event is a march from the historically significant Haymarket Square to the ICE building on Congress Street to fight for immigration rights. Click through for more details and check back with Progress Illinois for coverage of Chicago's May Day events.

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Congresswoman Kelly Committed To Renewing Push For Federal Gun Control Legislation

Although gun-control legislation has stalled in Congress, "common-sense gun reform" remains one of U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly's top priorities, the Democratic congresswoman said at a Monday night event in East Hazel Crest to review her first year in the House.

Kelly, a former state representative, was elected last April to fill the 2nd congressional district seat left vacant by disgraced former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. after he resigned in 2012. The district covers Chicago’s far Southeast Side and a large swath of the southern suburbs.

While in Congress, Kelly introduced gun-control legislation meant to place stricter safety standards on guns and keep "violent, dangerous people" from being able to purchase firearms. But supporters of gun curbs simply cannot get gun-control legislation to the House floor for a vote, Kelly said. 

"There is gun legislation dealing with background checks, and there is about 180 to 190 bipartisan signatures, Democrats and Republicans," the congresswoman said. "But we cannot get it called to the floor, so what I tell people when people come and see me about the gun issue [is], 'I'm your choir.' So we need to call other people across the United States and call Speaker [John] Boehner [to] at least [bring] the bill to committee and to the floor and let it be voted up or down." 

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Dvorak Elementary Supporters Urge CPS To Hold Off On Proposed AUSL Turnaround

Supporters of Dvorak Technology Academy in North Lawndale held a rally Monday night in a last-ditch effort to save their school from having its entire staff fired and replaced next year by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), a controversial school turnaround contractor. 

Parents, students and other community stakeholders held a protest outside of Dvorak to call on the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district to put in place a moratorium on school turnarounds.

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Foster Pushes Back Against Federal Immigration Detainee Quota

Imagine a criminal justice system that required police to make sure 34,000 people filled its cells every night, regardless of crime, severity or conviction.

While that sounds improbable, it is exactly how the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement goes about its business following a 2009 Congressional mandate. Under the requirements, the agency must fill 34,000 detainee beds in its system every night at an annual cost of $2 billion to taxpayers.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL,11), along with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, (D-FL,21), praised the Obama administration’s recent letter opposing the requirement last week, and put renewed energy behind their fight to end ICE detention quotas. Earlier this year, the two legislators introduced a measure to make undocumented immigrants more aware of their rights and set up an Office of Legal Access Programs. The legislation is called the Immigrant Detainee Legal Rights Act  H.R. 3914.

“The budget issues are not lost on either party,’’ Foster said, noting that a policy based on need rather than an arbitrary quota could cut the cost of detentions by $1.4 billion. “That’s why we have bipartisan support.’’

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Madigan's Office Investigating Herbalife Pyramid Scheme Allegations

Miguel Calderon thought he was part of the American Dream when he heard about Herbalife. You put your money to work to make more money, he believed. He started with an $11,000 investment, using his savings that he earned while working at Abbott Laboratories.

But every time the Waukegan resident asked why all of his efforts for the nutrition and diet company failed to yield any profits, he was told he needed to invest more. By the time he realized there were no profits to be had, he had invested more than $20,000 in what a Latino advocacy group says is a pyramid scheme that preys on immigrants, in particular.

"Herbalife knows Latinos are easily victimized because they face barriers in language, and culture and legal status,’’ said Julie Contreras, president of the League of Latino American United Citizens of Lake County. “We came out and supported Attorney General Lisa Madigan in her election, now we want to see her support our community.’’

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