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The [Tuesday] Papers

"The world is far less safe now than on September 11, 2001 due to US President George W. Bush's reaction to the attacks, notably in Iraq, the general who led UN forces in Bosnia said Tuesday.

"British General Sir Michael Rose praised the United States' invasion of Afghanistan in the immediate wake of the terror attacks in Washington and New York, saying the war on terror got off to a 'brilliant start.'

"Instead of following up the military defeat of the Taliban with civil action and ensuring permanent security, President Bush, in his haste and ignorance, transferred his attentions to Iraq.

"The result is that the world is far less safe today than before he declared his war,' he wrote in the Daily Mail, adding that Afghanistan remains unstable and the Taliban have regrouped."

We blew it.

We failed these people, and we failed ourselves.

Instead of standing up for ourselves - with the world at our back - and declaring a new age of liberty and rededication to our ideals, we let the psychosis of a religious fanatic and his fascist compatriots hollow out our souls.

Petraeus is a joke. A joke the Democrats are in on.

Family Secrets
The Family Secrets trial has been remarkable for its scope - 18 murders, several well-known - and the spectacle of figures like Joey "The Clown" Lombardo and the Calabrese boys taking the stand.

But the day-to-day hasn't lived up to its billing because, well, trials aren't TV shows, they are grinds. And in this case, we already knew the plot.

The best and most meaningful part of the trial to me, though, wasn't the brutal killings. Those are horrible, and horribly the logical end of the mob's modus operandi, but what said more to be about the way Chicago and the Outfit works - how it has insinuated itself into our everyday lives and wrapped itself around not just pols and dolls but the most elementary aspects of the city - was the tale of Connie's Pizza.

Connie's is a Chicago institution - and as such it was mobbed up.

Jim Stolfe, who founded Connie's in 1963, testified that one day in the 1980s a couple of gentlemen visited him with a request for $300,000. It seems his street tax payment was due.

Stolfe negotiated the payment down to $100,000 and allegedly became pals with his extorters.

"Mr. Stolfe went to my client's son's wedding-that'a all I really have to say. That doesn't sound like a shakedown," said Joe Lopez, the lawyer for Frank Calabrese Sr.

According to ABC-7's report, "Connie's original location is on 26th Street, the heart of the outfit's 26th Street Crew that controlled crime syndicate rackets from the Loop to Chinatown. According to Calabrese Sr.'s, attorney, the pizzeria would actually employ mobsters to follow these familiar looking home delivery vans, reporting back to Connie's owner which drivers were sleeping on the job. 'They were friends. My client was employed there for a number of years. They were friends and they remain friends,' Lopez said."

Another report noted that "Stolfe said Calabrese Sr. never threatened him and admitted he never complained about the street tax. Stolfe said he also lied for Calabrese Sr. before a grand jury.

"Even though Stolfe played handball with Calabrese Sr., went on a vacation with him and had dinner with him, he was still 'very intimidated' by him."

Which would still not add up to much beyond a dirty pizza joint until you consider Connie's status as Chicago's official pizza, honored with cloutlets at places like O'Hare and Navy Pier. In a way, being associated with the mob paid off. The city didn't seem to mind. It's a bite-sized example of the larger way the city that works actually works.

That's Todd!
"The Internal Revenue Service has slapped a federal tax lien on Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's campaign committee," the Sun-Times reports.

Seems the campaign failed to withhold income tax from its workers, though campaign treasurer and Sixth Ward Ald. Fredrenna Lyle explains that the real problem was that "we were trying too hard to do everything right."

Yes, I generally find that trying too hard to do everything right ends up with the IRS knocking on your door.

Stroger, through a highly-paid-by-the-taxpayers spokesman, declined to comment.

Fidel's Friend
"[A] top official with an Olympics-related event, the AIBA World Boxing Championships, to be held in Chicago Oct 23 through Nov. 3, said Monday that Cuba skipping the event will not damage the effort," the Sun-Times reports.

"At a press event, Jack Sandler, chairman of the organizing committee for the World Boxing Championships, said the Cubans were 'turning a wonderful, wonderful event into a political stage. I'm very discouraged. It's a shame it got politicized.'

"Cuba reportedly fears defection of its boxers.

"'I'd love [Cuban officials] to sit down and think through their decision. I would tell you, there will be no defections if they come here. We'll make sure of that,' Sandler said."

Sandler added it would be wonderful, wonderful to force potential defectors back to their island prison to avoid politicizing the event.

Mary Mitchell links an alleged smear campaign against interim police chief Dana Starks to her colleague, Michael Sneed.

In Today's Beachwood
* Carlos Zambrano is getting angry.
* Larry Craig sing-a-long.
* Chicago Ed Schwartz makes his Beachwood debut with a "betcha didn't know that" story about nuclear-tipped missiles in Jackson Park and Belmont Harbor.
* One helluva playlist.
* Our tribute/episode guide to the debut season of Maude continues.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Be a patriot.


Posted on September 11, 2007

MUSIC - Who's Next In Chicago Rap.
TV - Tribune-Nexstar Deal Is Bad News.
POLITICS - Big Soda Hates You.
SPORTS - Harold vs. the Haters.

BOOKS - Wright Brothers, Wrong Story!

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Go Ahead, Eat Raw Cookie Dough!

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