News briefs:July 27, 2010

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Former U.S. governor Palin signs TV deal with Fox News

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

According to a report by the New York Times that has now been confirmed by Fox News, former United States governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin has signed a multi-year deal to work as a news contributor for American television station Fox News. The deal is effective immediately, and Palin will reportedly contribute regularly to all Fox stations. The monetary terms to the deal have not yet been disclosed, but the agreement is rumored to be for three years.

“Governor Palin has captivated everyone on both sides of the political spectrum…,” said Bill Shine, Fox News’s vice president of programing,”We are excited to add her dynamic voice to the Fox News lineup,” he added in his comments.

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As well as contributing, Palin will also be hosting a new program slated to air on Fox News. Called Real American Stories, the series will portray stories of overcoming obstacles during current times and through current social or economic problems that may be going on at the time. The series has no planned release date, but will air sometime within 2010.

Palin released a statement herself Monday afternoon. “I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News. It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news,” she said.

After serving as mayor of the town of Wasilla, Palin was elected governor of Alaska in 2006. U.S. Republican candidate John McCain picked Palin to serve as his running mate in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, where she and McCain lost to Democrat Barack Obama and his running mate Joe Biden. In July 2009, she resigned from the governor position of Alaska governor, possibly opening up a run for U.S. president in 2012.

Linkin Park’s lead singer Chester Bennington dies at 41

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

On Thursday, Chester Bennington, lead singer of US rock band Linkin Park, died in his home in Los Angeles at the age of 41. The Los Angeles county coroner confirmed Bennington’s death; reportedly it was being investigated as a possible suicide.

A two-time Grammy award winner with the band, Chester Bennington joined Linkin Park when he was 23. Also featuring rapper Mike Shinoda, Linkin Park released their first album, Hybrid Theory, in 2000. The band went on to release six more albums featuring Bennington’s voice, including One More Light, which was released this year. The band was scheduled to go on a tour for One More Light, but it has been canceled.

Their song Crawling, from Hybrid Theory, won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance. The band was also nominated for Best Rock Album and Best New Artist. A year after releasing Meteora, Linkin Park collaborated with rapper Jay-Z for the Collision Course EP in 2004 whose single Numb/Encore won a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Meteora has sold more than 27 million copies, which featured the hit song Numb.

In his statement, Warner Bros. Records CEO Cameron Strang said, “Chester Bennington was an artist of extraordinary talent and charisma, and a human being with a huge heart and a caring soul.” The Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said, “We have lost a truly dynamic member of the music community”.

In 2013, Bennington performed at the MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert, whose aim was to aid addiction treatment. Born on March 20, 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona, to a nurse and a police detective, Bennington recounted being abused in his childhood, molested by an older friend over the course of several years starting when he was seven or eight. In a 2008 interview with Kerrang!, he said, “It destroyed my self-confidence […] Like most people, I was too afraid to say anything. I didn’t want people to think I was gay or that I was lying. It was a horrible experience.”

In an interview with Noisecreep in 2009, he said, “I don’t have a problem with people knowing that I had a drinking problem. That’s who I am, and I’m kind of lucky in a lot of ways because I get to do something about it.” Of the band’s Grammy-winning song Crawling, Bennington said the song was “about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs and alcohol.”

His first marriage ended in a divorce, and he said, “I knew that I had a drinking problem, a drug problem, and that parts of my personal life were crazy, but I didn’t realise how much that was affecting the people around me until I got a good dose of ‘Here’s-what-you’re-really-like.'” In 2011, he told The Guardian, “When I was young, getting beaten up and pretty much raped was no fun. No one wants that to happen to you and honestly, I don’t remember when it started […] My God, no wonder I became a drug addict. No wonder I just went completely insane for a little while.”

Bennington died on the day his singer friend Chris Cornell would have turned 53. Cornell hanged himself earlier this year. After Cornell’s death, Bennington said, “I can’t imagine a world without you in it.”

Bennington is survived by his six children and his wife, Talinda Bentley, whom he married in 2006.

Java creator criticizes .Net

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Saturday, February 5, 2005

AustraliaJames Gosling, the creator of the Java programming language, said last week that he believes Microsoft is wrong in its decision to support C and C++ programming languages in the common language runtime in Microsoft .NET. According to him, this decision may lead to severe security flaws in .NET. Gosling is currently in Australia, giving talks and visiting friends.

According to Gosling, the problem lies with the programming languages and some of their characteristics: “C++ allowed you to do arbitrary casting, arbitrary adding of images and pointers, and converting them back and forth between pointers in a very, very unstructured way.”

The Java language was developed due to limitations of C++. Gosling began using C++ for the former Sun Microsystems‘s star-seven project. At that time Gosling concluded C++ was inadequate and created the Oak language. The Oak language would become the language known today as Java. The former star-seven project shares its defining characteristics with networked software applications today: safety and portability.

Gosling continues: “If you look at the security model in Java and the reliability model, and a lot of things in the exception handling, they depend really critically on the fact that there is some integrity to the properties of objects. So if somebody gives you an object and says ‘This is an image’, then it is an image. It’s not like a pointer to a stream, where it just casts an image.”

Charles Sterling, a Microsoft developer and product manager of the .NET framework, didn’t entirely disagree with Gosling’s thoughts. But he said that .NET defines different types of code. And there is the code which is managed by the .NET framework. All new Microsoft languages, such as C# and Visual Basic.NET, produce only code managed by the .NET framework, so they are safe.

A key idea that has not shown up in Gosling’s talk is that Java itself allows a very similar process to occur. Java’s JNI (Java Native Interface) allows the integration of the same unsafe code that prompted Gosling’s central thesis.

However, Gosling says languages like C and C++ can still produce unsafe code which would not follow the rules of safety of .NET. This sort of code, usually found in old software applications, requires additional .NET permissions to execute. Sterling says it is up to developers to decide whether or not to use unsafe code in their .NET applications.

Interview with US political activist and philosopher Noam Chomsky

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Noam Chomsky is a professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Linguistics and Philosophy. At the age of 40 he was credited with revolutionizing the field of modern linguistics. He was one of the first opponents of the Vietnam War, and is a self described Libertarian Socialist. At age 80 he continues to write books; his latest book, Hegemony or Survival, was a bestseller in non-fiction. According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index Professor Chomsky is the eighth most cited scholar of all time.

On March 13, Professor Chomsky sat down with Michael Dranove for an interview in his MIT office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

((Michael Dranove)) I just wanted to know if you had any thoughts on recent NATO actions and the protests coming up at the 60th NATO conference, I know you’re speaking at the counter-conference.

Could be I give so many talks I can’t remember (laughs).

On the NATO conference, well I mean the obvious question is why should NATO exist? In fact you can ask questions about why it should ever have existed, but now why should it exist. I mean the theory was, whether you believe it or not, that it would be a defensive alliance against potential Soviet aggression, that’s the basic doctrine. Well there’s no defense against Soviet aggression, so whether you believe that doctrine or not that’s gone.

When the Soviet Union collapsed there had been an agreement, a recent agreement, between Gorbachev and the U.S government and the first Bush administration. The agreement was that Gorbachev agreed to a quite remarkable concession: he agreed to let a united Germany join the NATO military alliance. Now it is remarkable in the light of history, the history of the past century, Germany alone had virtually destroyed Russia, twice, and Germany backed by a hostile military alliance, centered in the most phenomenal military power in history, that’s a real threat. Nevertheless he agreed, but there was a quid pro quo, namely that NATO should not expand to the east, so Russia would at least have a kind of security zone. And George Bush and James Baker, secretary of state, agreed that NATO would not expand one inch to the east. Gorbachev also proposed a nuclear free weapons zone in the region, but the U.S wouldn’t consider that.

Okay, so that was the basis on which then shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed. Well, Clinton came into office what did he do? Well one of the first things he did was to back down on the promise of not expanding NATO to the east. Well that’s a significant threat to the Soviet Union, to Russia now that there was no longer any Soviet Union, it was a significant threat to Russia and not surprisingly they responded by beefing up their offensive capacity, not much but some. So they rescinded their pledge not to use nuclear weapons on first strike, NATO had never rescinded it, but they had and started some remilitarization. With Bush, the aggressive militarism of the Bush administration, as predicted, induced Russia to extend further its offensive military capacity; it’s still going on right now. When Bush proposed the missile defense systems in Eastern Europe, Poland and Czechoslovakia, it was a real provocation to the Soviet Union. I mean that was discussed in U.S arms control journals, that they would have to regard as a potential threat to their strategic deterrent, meaning as a first strike weapon. And the claim was that it had to do with Iranian missiles, but forget about that.

Why should we even be debating NATO, is there any reason why it should exist?

Take say on Obama, Obama’s national security advisor James Jones former Marine commandant is on record of favoring expansion of NATO to the south and the east, further expansion of NATO, and also making it an intervention force. And the head of NATO, Hoop Scheffer, he has explained that NATO must take on responsibility for ensuring the security of pipelines and sea lanes, that is NATO must be a guarantor of energy supplies for the West. Well that’s kind of an unending war, so do we want NATO to exist, do we want there to be a Western military alliance that carries out these activities, with no pretense of defense? Well I think that’s a pretty good question; I don’t see why it should, I mean there happens to be no other military alliance remotely comparable — if there happened to be one I’d be opposed to that too. So I think the first question is, what is this all about, why should we even be debating NATO, is there any reason why it should exist?

((Michael Dranove)) We’ve seen mass strikes all around the world, in countries that we wouldn’t expect it. Do think this is a revival of the Left in the West? Or do you think it’s nothing?

It’s really hard to tell. I mean there’s certainly signs of it, and in the United States too, in fact we had a sit down strike in the United States not long ago, which is a very militant labor action. Sit down strikes which began at a significant level in the 1930’s were very threatening to management and ownership, because the sit down strike is one step before workers taking over the factory and running it and kicking out the management, and probably doing a better job. So that’s a frightening idea, and police were called in and so on. Well we just had one in the United States at the Republic Windows and Doors Factory, it’s hard to know, I mean these things are just hard to predict, they may take off, and they may take on a broader scope, they may fizzle away or be diverted.

((Michael Dranove)) Obama has said he’s going to halve the budget. Do you think it’s a little reminiscent of Clinton right before he decided to institute welfare reform, basically destroying half of welfare, do you think Obama is going to take the same course?

There’s nothing much in his budget to suggest otherwise, I mean for example, he didn’t really say much about it, about the welfare system, but he did indicate that they are going to have to reconsider Social Security. Well there’s nothing much about social security that needs reconsideration, it’s in pretty good financial shape, probably as good as it’s been in its history, it’s pretty well guaranteed for decades in advance. As long as any of the famous baby boomers are around social Security will be completely adequate. So its not for them, contrary to what’s being said. If there is a long term problem, which there probably is, there are minor adjustments that could take care of things.

So why bring up Social Security at all? If it’s an issue at all it’s a very minor one. I suspect the reason for bringing it up is, Social Security is regarded as a real threat by power centers, not because of what it does, very efficient low administrative costs, but for two reasons. One reason is that it helps the wrong people. It helps mostly poor people and disabled people and so on, so that’s kind of already wrong, even though it has a regressive tax. But I think a deeper reason is that social security is based on an idea that power centers find extremely disturbing, namely solidarity, concern for others, community, and so on.

If people have a commitment to solidarity, mutual aid, support, and so on, that’s dangerous because that could lead to concern for other things.

The fundamental idea of Social Security is that we care about whether the disabled widow across town has food to eat. And that kind of idea has to be driven out of people’s heads. If people have a commitment to solidarity, mutual aid, support, and so on, that’s dangerous because that could lead to concern for other things. Like, it’s well known, for example, that markets just don’t provide lots of options, which today are crucial options. So for example, markets today permit you to buy one brand of car or another. But a market doesn’t permit you to decide “I don’t want a car, I want a public transportation system”. That’s just not a choice made available on the market. And the same is true on a wide range of other issues of social significance, like whether to help the disabled widow across town. Okay, that’s what communities decide, that’s what democracy is about, that’s what social solidarity is about and mutual aid, and building institutions by people for the benefit of people. And that threatens the system of domination and control right at the heart, so there’s a constant attack on Social Security even though the pretexts aren’t worth paying attention to.

There are other questions on the budget; the budget is called redistributive, I mean, very marginally it is so, but the way it is redistributive to the extent that it is, is by slightly increasing the tax responsibility to the extremely wealthy. Top couple of percent, and the increase is very marginal, doesn’t get anywhere near where it was during the periods of high growth rate and so on. So that’s slightly redistributive, but there are other ways to be redistributive, which are more effective, for example allowing workers to unionize. It’s well known that where workers are allowed to unionize and most of them want to, that does lead to wages, better working conditions, benefits and so on, which is redistributive and also helps turn working people into more of a political force. And instead of being atomized and separated they’re working to together in principle, not that humans function so wonderfully, but at least it’s a move in that direction. And there is a potential legislation on the table that would help unionize, the Employee Free Choice Act. Which Obama has said he’s in favor of, but there’s nothing about it in the budget, in fact there’s nothing in the budget at all as far as I can tell about improving opportunities to unionize, which is an effective redistributive goal.

And there’s a debate right now, it happens to be in this morning’s paper if Obama’s being accused by Democrats, in fact particularly by Democrats, of taking on too much. Well actually he hasn’t taken on very much, the stimulus package; I mean anybody would have tried to work that out with a little variation. And the same with the bailouts which you can like or not, but any President is going to do it. What is claimed is that he’s adding on to it health care reform, which will be very expensive, another hundreds of billions of dollars, and it’s just not the time to do that. I mean, why would health care reform be more expensive? Well it depends which options you pick. If the healthcare reforms maintain the privatized system, yeah, it’s going to be very expensive because it’s a hopelessly inefficient system, it’s very costly, its administrative costs are far greater than Medicare, the government run system. So what that means is that he’s going to maintain a system which we know is inefficient, has poor outcomes, but is a great benefit to insurance companies, financial institutions, the pharmaceutical industry and so on. So it can save money, health care reform can be a method of deficit reduction. Namely by moving to an efficient system that provides health care to everyone, but that’s hardly talked about, its advocates are on the margins and its main advocates aren’t even included in the groups that are discussing it.

And if you look through it case after case there are a lot of questions like that. I mean, take unionization again, this isn’t in the budget but take an example. Obama, a couple of weeks ago, wanted to make a gesture to show his solidarity with the labor movement, which workers, well that’s different (chuckles) with the workers not the labor movement. And he went to go visit an industrial plant in Illinois, the plant was owned by Caterpillar. There was some protest over that, by human rights groups, church groups, and others because of Caterpillar’s really brutal role in destroying what’s left of Palestine. These were real weapons of mass destruction, so there were protests but he went anyway. However, there was a much deeper issue which hasn’t even been raised, which is a comment on our deep ideological indoctrination. I mean Caterpillar was the first industrial organization to resort to scabs, strikebreakers, to break a major strike. This was in the 1980’s, Reagan had already opened the doors with the air controllers, but this is the first in the manufacturing industry to do it. That hadn’t been done in generations. In fact, it was illegal in every industrial country except apartheid South Africa. But that was Caterpillar’s achievement helping to destroy a union by calling in scabs, and if you call in scabs forget about strikes, in other words, or any other labor action. Well that’s the plant Obama went to visit. It’s possible he didn’t know, because the level of indoctrination in our society is so profound that most people wouldn’t even know that. Still I think that it’s instructive, if you’re interested in doing something redistributive, you don’t go to a plant that made labor history by breaking the principle that you can’t break strikes with scabs.

((Michael Dranove)) I live out in Georgia, and a lot of people there are ultra-right wing Ron Paul Libertarians. They’re extremely cynical. Is there any way for people on the left to reach out to them?

I think what you have to do is ask, what makes them Ron Paul Libertarians? I don’t happen to think that makes a lot of sense, but nevertheless underlying it are feelings that do make sense. I mean the feeling for example that the government is our enemy. It’s a very widespread feeling, in fact, that’s been induced by propaganda as well.

So pretty soon it will be April 15th, and the people in your neighborhood are going to have to send in their income taxes. The way they’re going to look at it, and the way they’ve been trained to look at it is that there is some alien force, like maybe from Mars, that is stealing our hard earned money from us and giving it to the government. Okay, well, that would be true in a totalitarian state, but if you had a democratic society you’d look at it the other way around You’d say “great, it’s April 15th, we’re all going to contribute to implement the plans that we jointly decided on for the benefit of all of us.” But that idea is even more frightening than Social Security. It means that we would have a functioning democracy, and no center of concentrated power is ever going to want that, for perfectly obvious reasons. So yes there are efforts, and pretty successful efforts to get people to fear the government as their enemy, not to regard it as the collective population acting in terms of common goals that we’ve decided on which would be what have to happen in a democracy. And is to an extent what does happen in functioning democracies, like Bolivia, the poorest country in South America. It’s kind of what’s happening there more or less. But that’s very remote from what’s happening here.

Well I think Ron Paul supporters can be appealed to on these grounds, they’re also against military intervention, and we can ask “okay, why?” Is it just for their own security, do they want to be richer or something? I doubt it, I think people are concerned because they think we destroyed Iraq and so on. So I think that there are lots of common grounds that can be explored, even if the outcomes, at the moment, look very different. They look different because they’re framed within fixed doctrines. But those doctrines are not graven in stone. They can be undermined.

Countryside Alliance lose legal case on UK fox hunting ban

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005The British Countryside Alliance has lost its legal bid to keep hunting with hounds after the High Court rejected their appeal, which had been made on the grounds that the Parliament Act 1949 was invalid. The High Court rejected this, ruling that the 1949 Act was valid. This means hunting with dogs for foxes, hares and badgers will be illegal from Friday 18 February in England and Wales in accordance with the Hunting Act 2004.

The Countryside Alliance has said it is challenging the decision in the House of Lords (the highest court in English Law) and the European Court of Human Rights.

The RSPCA has said the arguments were “wafer thin”.

However the CA as said that the police would have difficulty in policing the law. The League Against Cruel Sports has said it is setting up a “crimewatch service” to police the ban.

UK public sector workers strike over pension rights

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006Local Government workers in the UK withdrew their labour yesterday as part of a dispute over pension entitlements. The members of 11 different trades unions were involved in the 24hr strike. As the day began they declared that support for the strike was solid. Although the strikers work for local councils, their pay and conditions are agreed nationally. The Local Government Association which represents the local councils in England and Wales declared predictions that 1.5 million people would stay away from work as “wildly optimistic”.

The Unions’ complaint is that local government workers are being treated unfavourably compared to other public sector employees. They say that agreements on pensions that have been reached with civil servants, teachers and health workers will allow those staff to continue to retire at 60 while local government staff will be forced to work until they are 65. Civil servants work for national government, teachers work for local councils but have their own pension arrangements and most health workers are employed by the state-controlled National Health Service.

The Local Government Association claims that if council workers continue to be able to retire at 60, it will increase the levels of Council Tax (a tax on people living in properties which funds a proportion of local government expenditure) by 2%.

The striking workers provide a wide range of services from assisting teachers in the class room, through inspecting kitchens for hygiene to provising care to the vulnerable in society. In some places council workers collect tolls for road tunnels or manage ferries. Mainstream media have reported on the strike all day with heavy coverage of disruption to commuters where transport has been affected. The unions have emphasised the large number of their members who are women working in low paid jobs.

The Government which regulates the scheme claimed that the early retirement provisions (called the rule of 85) were age-discriminatory and had to be removed.

The strike ended at midnight. The Unions have not declared any further strike days.

The Unions involved were AEP, AMICUS, CYWU, GMB, NAPO, NIPSA, NUJ, NUT, TGWU, UCATT and UNISON.

wanker

News briefs:May 28, 2010

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US unemployment rate reaches 9.8%

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Companies in the United States are shedding more jobs, pushing the country’s unemployment rate to a 26-year high of 9.8%.

The US Labor Department said on Friday that employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, with companies in the service industries — including banks, restaurants and retailers — hit especially hard. This is the 21st consecutive month of job losses in the country.

The United States has now lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession officially began in December 2007. The new data has sparked fears that unemployment could threaten an economic recovery. Top US officials have warned that any recovery would be slow and uneven, and some have predicted the unemployment rate will top 10% before the situation improves.

“Continued household deleveraging and rising unemployment may weigh more on consumption than forecast, and accelerating corporate and commercial property defaults could slow the improvement in financial conditions,” read a report by the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, predicting that unemployment will average 10.1% by next year and not go back down to five percent until 2014.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, said that “it’s a very fragile and tentative recovery. Policy makers need to do more.”

“The number came in weaker than expected. We saw a lot of artificial involvement by the government to prop up the markets, and now that that is starting to end, the private sector isn’t yet showing signs of life,” said Kevin Caron, a market strategist for Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

Also on Thursday, the US Commerce Department said factory orders fell for the first time in five months, dropping eight-tenths of a percent in August. Orders for durable goods — items intended to last several years (including everything from appliances to airliners) — fell 2.6%, the largest drop since January of this year.

The US government has been spending billions of dollars — part of a $787 billion stimulus package — to help spark economic growth. There have been some signs the economy is improving.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that spending on home construction jumped in August for its biggest increase in 16 years. A real estate trade group, the National Association of Realtors, said pending sales of previously owned homes rose more than 12 percent in August, compared to August 2008.

A separate Commerce Department report said that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, rose at its fastest pace in nearly eight years, jumping 1.3 percent in August.

Other reports have provided cause for concern. A banking industry trade group said Thursday the number of US consumers making late payments, or failing to make payments, on loans and credit cards is on the rise. A survey by a business group, the Institute for Supply Management, Thursday showed US manufacturing grew in September, but at a slower pace than in August when manufacturing increased for the first time in a year and a half.

Stock markets reacted negatively to the reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 41 points in early trading, reaching a level of 9467. This follows a drop of 203 points on Thursday, its largest loss in a single day since July. The London FTSE index fell 55 points, or 1.1%, to reach 4993 points by 15.00 local time.

Four arrested in three Naperville, Illinois prostitution stings

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Monday, March 15, 2010

An undercover investigation by Naperville, Illinois law enforcement has led to the arrest last Thursday of four people allegedly involved in prostitution. The stings came after police received tips that people were using websites like Craigslist and Backpage.com to sell sexual performances in Naperville hotels. 

Patricia H. Scoleri of Naperville was arrested after an unidentified neighbor observed consistently suspicious activity at Scoleri’s home. Traffic was unusually heavy and consisted mostly of luxury cars in an otherwise quiet, middle-class neighborhood. Also, the visitors were mainly middle-aged men, and an odd string of lavender-colored lights were hung on the front window.

Police say Scoleri worked alone. She was arrested at 2 p.m. local time (2000 UTC) and is charged with violation of anti-prostitution laws, anti-cannabis laws, and the Massage Licensing Act. She apparently has four children, but the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has neither contacted her nor received a police report on her.

The second sting occurred at 5:30 p.m the same day (2330 UTC) and resulted in the arrest of Chicago resident Tonya M. Adams. She is charged with prostitution and driving without a license. Another sting about an hour later resulted in the arrests of Jessica M. Walley, a Skokie resident, and Mark A. Williams, a self-admitted Schaumburg gang member. “Walley was charged with prostitution and unlawful possession of cannabis. Williams was charged with pimping, obstructing a peace officer, driving with a suspended license and driving without insurance,” reports WBBM News Radio 780.

All four suspects are free, having paid the required ten percent of their $1,000 bail. They may face additional charges related to crack cocaine discovered during the police investigation. Arraignment is scheduled for next month at the DuPage County Circuit Courthouse in Wheaton.