The Chicago Syndicate

Monday, September 21, 2020

Rage, the new book from @realBobWoodward, is an unprecedented and intimate tour de force of new reporting on the Trump presidency facing a global pandemic, economic disaster and racial unrest

Bob Woodward’s new book, Rage, is an unprecedented and intimate tour de force of new reporting on the Donald Trump presidency facing a global pandemic, economic disaster and racial unrest.

Woodward, the #1 international bestselling author of Fear: Trump in the White House, has uncovered the precise moment the president was warned that the Covid-19 epidemic would be the biggest national security threat to his presidency. In dramatic detail, Woodward takes readers into the Oval Office as Trump’s head pops up when he is told in January 2020 that the pandemic could reach the scale of the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed 675,000 Americans.

In 17 on-the-record interviews with Woodward over seven volatile months—an utterly vivid window into Trump’s mind—the president provides a self-portrait that is part denial and part combative interchange mixed with surprising moments of doubt as he glimpses the perils in the presidency and what he calls the “dynamite behind every door.”

At key decision points, Rage shows how Trump’s responses to the crises of 2020 were rooted in the instincts, habits and style he developed during his first three years as president.

Revisiting the earliest days of the Trump presidency, Rage reveals how Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats struggled to keep the country safe as the president dismantled any semblance of collegial national security decision making.

Rage draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand witnesses as well as participants’ notes, emails, diaries, calendars and confidential documents.

Woodward obtained 25 never-seen personal letters exchanged between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who describes the bond between the two leaders as out of a “fantasy film.”

Trump insists to Woodward he will triumph over Covid-19 and the economic calamity. “Don’t worry about it, Bob. Okay?” Trump told the author in July. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll get to do another book. You’ll find I was right.”


The mafia has hijacked images of the Virgin Mary in an attempt to convince people that they are doing God's work

The Pope addressed a letter to a new Vatican think tank, which was launched by the Pontifical Marian Academy which was launched at a "Liberating Mary from the Mafia" conference on Friday, Sept. 18.

The mafia has commonly used images of the Virgin Mary due to its close ties with the Catholic Church. A number of mobsters also hijack images of Mary and other Catholic figures to claim that God is on their side.

Pope Francis, however, is attempting to put a stop to this and, speaking at Friday's conference, he said that religious and cultural images of the Madonna "must be preserved in its original purity."

The Pope additionally said that any displays of devotion to Mary "must conform to the message of the Gospel and the teachings of the church."

Francis said that mobsters simply can't live Christian lives because their lifestyles and their actions "blasphemes" God, according to the Associated Press.

Pope Francis's message to the think tank was dated Aug. 15, a major Catholic feast day devoted to Mary.

The recently-established think tank is made up of clergymen and law enforcement experts with experience fighting organized crime.

The Argentinian Pope is following the footsteps of Pope John Paul II, who previously tried to put an end to the mafia's associations with the Virgin Mary, warning mobsters that they needed to change their ways or face the wrath of God.

In 1993, John Paul II famously visited the island of Sicily after two highly-publicized killings of anti-mafia prosecutors.

The Catholic Church has historic ties with the mafia in Italy. Some priests have openly supported the mafia, facing criticism and police interest for holding elaborate weddings, funeral and celebrations of other sacraments for mafia dons in addition to accepting mafia donations. Other priests have publicly opposed the mob and paid for it with their lives.

The mafia reportedly exploits popular veneration of the Virgin Media to foster a culture of obedience to its own authority.

Mafiosos commonly fund huge religious processions where a statue of Mary is made to "bow" to a mafia boss.

This tradition is used to send a political message to local Catholics that the mafia is doing God's work and working for the good of the community.

The notorious ’Ndrangheta crime group in Southern Italy has also conducted councils at Sanctuary of Santa Maria di Polsi, in the Calabrian mountains.

Thanks to Shane O'Brien.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Judge with Distinquished History, Including with Jeff Fort El Rukn Trial and Mob Hitman Harry Aleman Retrial, Denied Endorsement by Democratic Party, in Reputed Retaliation Over Jussie Smollett Fake #MAGA Attack Case

The Cook County Democratic Party on Monday voted not to endorse the judge who ordered a special prosecutor to investigate how State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office prosecuted charges that actor Jussie Smollett staged a hate crime against himself.

The Tribune reported Cook County Democrats led by Foxx's former boss, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, voted to not endorse Toomin, citing an investigation of his record on overseeing the juvenile justice division, and not the Smollett case.

Toomin cited "unprecedented irregularities" in Foxx's handling of the Smollett case. He appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb as a special prosecutor to investigate. Webb found Foxx and her office abused its prosecutorial discretion and lied to the public, but didn't commit crimes.

On Monday, Toomin issues a statement saying the Democratic Party "ignored 40 years of distinguished service and sought retribution" related to the Smollett case, according to published reports.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, said she was "deeply concerned" about the party's decision. "The optics of this are terrible it looks like retaliation. Not something we should have in this time and I'm deeply concerned about it," the mayor said at an unrelated news conference Monday.

Toomin has a long history handling high-profile cases. In 1988, he sentenced El Rukn gang leader Jeff Fort to 75 years in prison for murder. Toomin ordered a new trial for Chicago Outfit hitman Harry Aleman after it was determined he was acquitted on murder charges after a judge handling the case was bribed. Aleman was convicted and died in prison.

The Smollett case wasn't the first time Toomin ordered Webb to investigate whether political connections in the State's Attorney's office had stood in the way of justice.

In 2012, Toomin ordered a special prosecutor to investigate whether law enforcement officials suppressed evidence to impede the investigation of the death of David Koschman.

Ultimately, Webb indicted former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew Richard J. "R.J." Vanecko of delivering the punch that led to Koschman's death. Vanecko ultimately pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

The Cook County Democrats also decided not to endorse Judge Mauricio Araujo, who has been accused of sexual harassment.

Among the judges that did win the party's support was Judge Jackie Portman-Brown, who was caught on video locking up a 10-year old girl in a courthouse jail cell earlier this year to teach her a lesson. Portman-Brown was placed on administrative duty following the incident.

Thanks to Mark Konkol.


Monday, September 14, 2020

Latin King Alonzo Horta Sentenced to 27 Years in Prison on Murder and Racketeering Conspiracy Charges #LatinKings

A member of a violent Chicago street gang has been sentenced to 27 years in federal prison for engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity that included murder.

ALONZO G. HORTA, 23, of Hammond, Ind., pleaded guilty to the federal charges earlier this year. U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall imposed the sentence, after a hearing in federal court in Chicago.

Horta admitted in a plea agreement that he conspired with leadership of the Latin Kings street gang to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity that included using violence and intimidation to protect the gang’s purported territory in Chicago. Horta admitted murdering Alfonso Calderon on the Southeast Side of the city on April 9, 2017, because Horta suspected that Calderon was a member of a rival gang. Horta was joined by two fellow members of the Latin Kings when they confronted him, and he fatally shot Calderon in order to advance the activities of the Latin Kings.

Horta was indicted in 2018 along with more than 30 other alleged members of the Latin Kings. The indictment charged numerous acts of violence allegedly committed by the gang’s members, including murder, attempted murder, and arson. Law enforcement uncovered the criminal activity through an investigation led by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; and David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Valuable assistance was provided by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and the Hammond, Ind., Police Department.

“Acting through the gang’s manifesto and constitution, members of the Latin Kings have infested the Southeast Side of Chicago and elsewhere with violence, drug-dealing, and witness intimidation,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys John D. Cooke, Ashley A. Chung, Brian J. Kerwin, and Grayson S. Walker argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “It is vital to communicate to the Southeast Side of Chicago and the rest of the district that carrying and using a gun can land you in federal prison for a long time, and that shooting a person to death will keep you in prison for decades.”


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Mafia Boss Goes Hannibel Lecter on Prison Guard

A Sicilian Mafia boss serving a life sentence for killing an investigator was so infuriated during a cell inspection inside his Rome prison that he bit off and swallowed a guard’s pinky finger, according to reports.

Giuseppe Fanara, 60, who is locked up in the Rebibbia prison, attacked seven guards when they came to inspect his cell, the Guardian reported, citing the daily Il Messagero.

The cannibalistic Cosa Nostra crook is nine years into his sentence under Italy’s tough penal code reserved for mob bosses, who are isolated behind bars to prevent them from running their clans from inside the joint.

“During the altercation (Fanara) bit off the guard’s little finger on his right hand,” the Italian paper reported. “The finger disappeared, leading a Rome prosecutor to conclude it had been eaten.”

Fanara then charged the six other guards, using a broomstick as a weapon as he shouted: “I’ll slit your throats like pigs!”

He has since been transferred to Sardinia’s high-security Sassari prison, where he faces new charges including aggravated assault and resisting arrest, according to the outlet.

Fanara was arrested in 1999 when police raided a mob conference, according to the Times of London.

At the time, he was on the lam after taking part in the murder of Giuliano Guazzelli, an investigator.

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