CONFIRMED BY ILL. SUPREME COURT– YOU ARE VIEWING THE MOST DANGEROUS BLOG IN ILLINOIS. This blog warranted a 3 year suspension by the ARDC/Jerome Larkin! Mottos: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant". Justice Louis Brandeis ; "If the truth can destroy something, then it deserves to be destroyed" Carl Sagan; "Justice is Truth in Action" Benjamin Disraeli. Illinois uses the ARDC to quash dissenting attorney activist blogs ; "The freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic Governments" — (1776-First Amendment preamble adopted by 8 US colonies)
To: Chicago Sun-Times <re-2JCP-S5BS-4225VU-C0412@suntimesmail.com>, illinoisgov <email@example.com>,and 50 others
Subject: The biggest ‘little secret’ = An open letter to Illinois Gov Rauner.
Date: May 31, 2016 9:07 AM
Dear Gov Rauner,
Illinois is on the verge of bankruptcy and from this spectator view you are that little boy who is standing in a puddle of water with a finger in the dike as all the people who will drown if you take you finger out of the dike jeer your efforts. Why this metaphor? That is exactly how most of the family and friends of the victims of elder cleansing feel! We know just how frustrating it feels when the ‘fix’ is in, the miscreants admit it, and every one else tells you that you are crazy.
To define terms, ‘elder cleansing’ is the systematic isolation and guardianship of targeted senior citizens (who usually have a little life savings) for the purposes of abuse, exploitation, deprivation of civil and human rights, robbery of life savings, and finally assisted involuntary suicide. If you wish further details they are available in four Government Accounting Office reports to congress, on the Blogs: MaryGSykes.com, Probate Sharks.com, NASGA (stopguardianabuse.org), AAApg.com, *****. The NASGA blog has a link to the four GAO reports (as does this blog) https://marygsykes.com/2016/02/01/from-ken-ditkowsky-60-minutes-and-gao-reports-being-ignored/. If you desire specific examples let me refer you to two Cook County cases – In re: Mary Sykes 09 P 4585, and Alice Gore. (The Alice Gore case is distinctive as it demonstrates the total avarice of the corrupt judicial officials = these miscreants pulled 29 teeth from grandma’s mouth so as to recover ever speck of gold she possessed!
Complaints to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, the Judicial Inquiry Board, law enforcement ***** have yielded absolute frustration. The ARDC for example pulled out all the stops to prevent inquiry or exposure. They unilaterally over-ruled the Supreme Court of the United States by misrepresenting its decisions and referring to the blog MaryGSykes as yelling fire in a crowded theater. They even rejected calls for an HONEST INVESTIGATION! No investigation occurred and ******.
Illinois has the distinction of being rated one of the most corrupt States in the Union. We hold a strong lead in populating the Federal Penitentiaries and even had two “former” Governors in jail at the very same time. The dirty little secret: CORRUPTION PAYS!
Corruption pays at every level, and especially pays in the Probate Courts. Dead people tell no tales! It is no secret that many of the guardianship cases were wired. In the Mary Sykes case the presiding judge on page 91 of her evidence deposition actually admitted the same. Of course, Mr. Larkin of the IARDC and his 18 USCA 371 minions ‘covered it up.’
My Point! Let’s take the profit out of Judicial corruption in the probate court. How do we do this? Very simple let’s collect the taxes due from all the miscreants. Illinois should make it unprofitable for a Judge or other public officials to not diligently and honestly comply with his/her oath to uphold the Constitution.
Let me explain. Each guardianship creates a fiduciary relationship. This fiduciary relationship occurs even when the Court wrongfully assumes jurisdiction – as in Sykes 09 P 4585. A fiduciary relationship imparts the highest degree of fidelity on the guardians as possible and when a dollar is stolen all hell is supposed to break loose. We all know that this happening in Illinois is almost unheard of as all themiscreants will close ranks to protect the guardian who has breached his/her fiduciary responsibility and Mr. Larkin and the IARDC will be johnny on the spot to punish all who might desire an Honest Investigation.
HOWEVER, THE LAW IS CLEAR. The theft is a TAXABLE EVENT and therefore the Illinois Department of Revenue has a duty to collect the taxes due for the theft from the Court appointed fiduciary. Under the doctrine of Constructive Receipt when theft one occurs taxes are due on the entire fund. Thus, the theft of a dollar creates a tax liability on the million dollars in the fund. Of course, restitution creates a deduction, but it must be claimed on the tax return (1040). The tax liability attaches to not only the miscreant offender but his co-conspirators as defined by 18 USCA 371. Thus, when guardian x steals $10.00 from Mary Sykes, everyone who has the public trust to report the crime (ABA Rule 8.3 and 18 USCA 4) incurs liability for the taxes, interest, and penalties from the date of the initial theft. Jerome Larkin in promulgating his cover-up of the three million dollars in theft from the Mary Sykes case owes taxes, interest, and penalties to the State of Illinois (and the USA). His liability is joint and several.
As an Illinois citizen I want to know why this tax liability is being ignored? Getting back to our original metaphor, Illinois citizens are tired of being lied to! When the Income tax was enacted the excuse was = the schools need funding. Of course the taxes went for other purposes and the political elite feathered their nest by enacting genereous pensions for themselves. Of course when more money was needed, Illinois enacted the lottery! Those funds ***** – they went to feed the fast growing corruption that you are fighting. Now a graduated Income tax (tax the wealthy) is being proposed; HOWEVER NO ONE IS PROPOSING COLLECTING THE TAXES GENERATED BY OFFICIAL CORRUPTION! Why not – government is being run for the benefit of political and judicial elite and not for the people.
The time for reform should start right this minute. It should start with the Illinois Department of Revenue calling on the public officials who are profiting by the elder cleansing in the Mary Sykes, Alice Gore **** cases and hitting them with tax liens and collection demands for all taxes, interest and penalties. We cannot restore to Alice Gore the gold that was taken from her mouth, but we can tax each miscreant who took the gold or aided and abetted in its removal.
corruption must be taxed! It is the untapped source of government revenue that is available and need to restore faith in Illinois democracy. Corruption is not limited to just elder cleansing – it is across the board. For instance, when Mary Sykes home (valued at close to a million dollars) was sold a judicial sale for a little over $200,000.00 the Estate should not have to incur a tax liability — each of the miscreants (including those who act in concert with the miscreants) should be taxed on the total value as ordinary income.
Similarly when Congressman x gets a campaign contribution from businessman y and there is a relationship between the contribution and favors that businessman y desires from congressman x such is not a political contribution, but a bribe (payment for special services) and taxable.
The legislature has to fund the pensions that the State of Illinois is about to default upon – as Governor we urge you to assist them by joining with us in demanding that the political and judicial elite pay their fair share and pay taxes on the graft and bribes that they receive.
Lawyers have taken an oath to uphold the constitutions of the US and their own state. We don’t “take up arms” because we know that the only time there is a win for a democracy it is done in a legislature or in a courtroom, generally a Federal District Courtroom, and yet the small person has been banned for most suits in Federal District Court.
Something has to change. We spend $2 billion per day on the Pentagon, while our rights are being slowly eroded away in the US and State courtrooms. I recall when the judges were very interested in justice and would brag about how they helped the common guy. Now the judges to your face brag about how they next have a $50 million case up next before them and your damages are pennies, so please get out of the way.
What happened? Well I think I can tell you what happened. It has now been one year since I have been suspended and 2 years since Ken has been suspended trying to protect YOUR first amendment rights. There is no public outcry, there is no stream of letters to anyone who care about 2 attorneys who served the public and the little guy without hope.
This tells me a lot about what is need in the practice of law and for the people, and that is pretty much nothing.
Most of you know that I am in need of money for rent ($18,000), now money for my office phones ($500), they are shut off. Now all I do is blog about cases and write books, but it seems like that isn’t important work. I do understand that other lawyers took your money, not me. I understand that the probate court seized assets of the innocent trying to protect the innocent, but there is no public outcry for you or for me or the elderly and disabled. Ken and I and Mr. Amu are pretty much it. Bev and Ken Cooper do some great work too.
I understand the Jesus healed 10 people, only one went back to pay him and there was no mention of payment out of gratitude. People have a long way to go, and I appreciate it. I really do.
So, those of you that care, keep on praying. But for now, everything waits until I get in my motion for Sanctions.
And then I promise that you, the little guy, will be at the top of my list. Not some mega corp always trying to screw us all over to make a few bucks and then have the courts rubber stamp their string of thefts from our bank accounts.
I want to protect the elderly and disabled and blog about it and perhaps represent some really, really bad cases and I want to do discovery and send out pleadings so people can represent themselves the world.
Please continue to send me you guardianship and custody horror stories. I do want to take these to the Senate and House and demand they both do something about the lack of accountability in our court systems and lack of justice.
To: “Dr. Sam Sugar” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Kevin Pizzarello <email@example.com>
Cc: Cindy_Burke Kirk <firstname.lastname@example.org>, This e-mail is a serious challenge to Larkin and his co-conspirators to either put up or give up their law licenses
Date: May 28, 2016 12:45 PM
To: Jerome Larkin, individually and as Administrator of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary commission (IARDC) and the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary commission.
From: Kenneth Ditkowsky
Date: May 28, 2016
Subject: Challenge to you to tell demonstrate that a public office is a public trust, and formal complaint concerning your ethically challenged and illegal conduct.
Cc: All interested parties, Honorable L. Lynch, Attorney General of the United States, Justice Department of the United States, Attorney JoAnne Denison, States Attorney of Cook County,
Dear Mr. Larkin, and the IARDC Commission,
With the pending scandals that are about to unfold in Washington concerning the participants in the current Presidential race, the public is going need an affirmation of the principle that a public office is a public trust. I understand that you are the last people to be considered to demonstrate that principle. Mr. Larkin’s conduct in violation of 18 USCA 4, 241,242, 371, 1341 etc. is a cornucopia of deceit, and perfidy. Subordination of perjury, perjury, conspiracy, and outright theft are the cornerstones of IARDC procedure and purpose. Few openly nefarious ‘cover-ups’, obstruction of justice, and spoliation of evidence are notoriously exhibited to the public.
Infamy will preserve the analogy of Ms. Denison’s blog to yelling fire in a crowded theater, and the intentional misrepresentation by IARDC lawyers in the name of Mr. Larkin of the holdings in Sawyer and Alvarez. The assaults on the First Amendment by the IARDC and Larkin are akin to ISIS terrorism, however, the ability to marshal the cover-up of the corruption evident in the Mary Sykes case 09 P 4585 (Circuit Court of Cook County) is beyond the pale. Knowing that guardianships were limited in scope because of Illinois and USA Constitutional core values, co-conspirator attorneys Adam Stern, Cynthia Farenga, Peter Schmiedel and others used the Illinois guardianship act to openly and notorious isolate Mary Sykes so that her estate could be looted. (I’ve estimated the booty at $3,000,000 dollars).
Mr. Larkin, Ms. Black, et al have accused me of not telling the truth concerning the Mary Sykes case. The allegation while unspecific accused me of defaming a group of judges claiming that they acted without jurisdiction and without following the law. Similar averments were made concerning Ms. Denison; however, the Commission added the offense of publishing the corruption in her blog entitled MaryGSykes. After my kangaroo trial (and during the kangaroo hearing concerning Ms. Denison) a letter surfaced authored by Cynthia Farenga complaining that our averments of corruption had been published in the Probate Sharks blog. Disciplinary proceeding followed. Exculpating evidence was barred, and requirement of clear and convincing proof was modified to mean – Larkin clairvoyance! The Subpoena of the Mary Sykes file, which verifies the truth of every averment made by Ms. Denison and myself was exclude from the evidence. The rationale was obvious – the ‘fix’ was in and therefore exculpating evidence had to be kept out of the record.
Unfortunately, the Judges whose corruption was being protected could not be totally orchestrated. (Subordination of perjury). Judge Connors admitted at page 91 of her deposition that she was ‘wired’ (and/or ‘fixed’). She testified that had she known of the jurisdictional deficiencies she would have stopped the proceedings, fixed the problem, however, the same result would have occurred. Judge Stuart outright lied. First she denied chaining Gloria Sykes (the daughter of Mary Sykes) in her courtroom – in an effort to torture from her the location of her (Gloria’s) assets, and then she (under cross examination) admitted the same. Larkin solved this problem by attorning to a slight modification of the hearing transcript to eliminate the perjury. Such spoliation of evidence appears to be quite common in lawyer disciplinary actions.
By way of background, as it appears that the IARDC and lawyer disciplinary commissions have during the relevant time period had the policy of interpreting the guardianship statute to not being an accommodation as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, but as a forfeiture of all human and civil rights. Interestingly enough the Illinois legislature (as well as the legislatures of most of the States of the union) make it abundantly clear that:
(b) Guardianship shall be utilized only as is necessary to promote the well-being of the person with a disability, to protect him from neglect, exploitation, or abuse, and to encourage development of his maximum self-reliance and independence. Guardianship shall be ordered only to the extent necessitated by the individual's actual mental, physical and adaptive limitations. 755 ILCS 5/11a – 3b
To make certain that senior citizens such as Mary Sykes, Alice Gore, **** are not exploited (as actually occurred) the person seeking a guardianship must prove not only the incompetency but the degree of incompetency by CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE. (This is the same standard that is applicable to the IARDC disciplinary proceedings) It is respectfully suggested that in neither proceeding is even the lowest standard of evidence (burden of proof) required. (See page 91 of Maureen Connors evidence deposition)
Of course, in kangaroo proceedings the result desired by the 18 USCA 371 cover-up is achieved. It is achieved with or without a scintilla of evidence. The orchestration of such is the subject of this letter of complaint. Rule 8.3 and 18 USCA 4 required both JoAnne Denison and myself to offend Ms. Farenga, Ms. Black, Mr. Stern, Mr. Larkin, Ms. Sharp, ***** and all the other attorneys who have participated in the actual miscreant conduct or its cover-up. As for Ms. Denison, Mr. Lanre Amu, ***** (including myself) to not offend Mr. Larkin and his 18 USCA 371 cover- conspirators we also would be subject to possible obstruction of justice averments. We however stood up to be counted and continue every day to demand Honest investigations, collection of the Federal and State income taxes (including interest and penalties) from the 18 USCA 241,242,371 co-conspirators, and abrogation of the cover-up. NB. It is my calculation that each conspirator jointly and severally owes very substantial taxes to the USA and the State of Illinois. For instance, in Sykes @$3 million dollars is due; in Gore $1.5 million, Tyler 8 million *******. 
My challenge. It appears at this point in time that Jerome Larkin and his 18 USCA 371 co-conspirators are not going to get away with their perfidy. The term “cover up” is going to be a very serious charge and the ‘great unwashed’ are not going to be led by the corrupt political and judicial machines in a euphoria of procrastination, deception, ******.
Therefore, let us get right to the chase. While Larkin has consistently refused to detail the charges made against either JoAnne or myself, it is clear that each charge has to do with the Sykes case and the issue of judicial propriety. Being more specific each charge has to do with whether a corrupt judge ignored a lack of jurisdiction to effectuate the elder cleansing of Mary Sykes. All the evidence is in the Mary Sykes file 09 P 4585. This file will unequivocally determine:
2.Whether safeguards of the Constitution were complied with
3.Whether a wrongful forfeiture occurred as to Mary’s liberty and property rights.
My challenge is for Mr. Larkin or any of the accused miscreants to produce out of the original file 09 P 4585 (Mary Sykes) the following documents. If the documents are not produced, honor requires Mr. Larkin and each of his co-conspirators as well as each of appointed guardian ad litem to surrender their law licenses and confess to the United States of America their part in the elder cleansing of Mary Sykes. Simply put – let us put this matter to rest right now!
1)Jurisdiction. In order for a person – disabled or not, the court must meet the due process standard of notice and hearing. The person who is to be adjudicated must be personally served with summons. The Summons must meet the criteria of the statute 755 ILCS 5/11a – 10, which is very specific and the criterion procrustean as there may be a taking of constitutionally protected Rights, privileges and immunities. In addition, there may be a stranger having control over another person’s property.
a. Challenge: Produce a copy of a summons that was actually personally served on Mary Sykes prior to any hearingon her competency that sought to ascertain the extent and nature, if any, of any disability that Mary Sykes might have actually suffered from 755 ILCS 5/11a -3b This is important as the legislature wanted in writing appropriate warnings so that the rights of the alleged disabled person were protected.
b.Challenge: Produce a Sheriff’s return of Summons in proper form attesting to actual service on Mary Sykes and the compliance with the Statute... This is particularly important as oral information must be given the alleged disabled person.
c.Challenge: Produce affidavits of notice being given to next of kin(close relatives, near relatives) prior to any hearing that was intended to obtain the information required by 755 ILCS 5/11a – 3b. This is jurisdictional pursuant to 755 ILCS 5/11a – 10. The people who should have received the prior notice include both of Mary’s sisters and Gloria Sykes.
2) Constitutional Safeguards. As human and civil rights are subject to forfeiture notice and hearing are prime requirements of due process. The statute is very clear, to wit:
(b) Guardianship shall be utilized only as is necessary to promote the well-being of the person with a disability, to protect him from neglect, exploitation, or abuse, and to encourage development of his maximum self-reliance and independence. Guardianship shall be ordered only to the extent necessitated by the individual's actual mental, physical and adaptive limitations.
Thus it is apparent that this is a very serious hearing and cannot be obviated by agreements of the two guardian ad litem and the attorney for the petitioner. Actual evidence must be presented that is clear and convincing that the alleged incompetent is in fact incompetent. Actual evidence must be presented as to the extent of the disability and how a reasonable accommodation must be obtained.
Challenge: produce a transcript of the proceedings in which a 755 ILCS 5/11a – 3b hearing was indeed conducted as to the competency and extent thereof of MARY SYKES. As the Court provides a court reporter for these very serious hearings the official court reporters office should have either filed or have available for transcription such a hearing.
As Mr. Larkin and the IARDC had the burden of proof to prove disciplinary breaches by both Denison and Ditkowsky if the IARDC can not produce the appropriate materials referred to supra, Larkin and every attorney involved directly or indirectly should resign his/her position immediately and surrender his/her law license as each is a participant in a very serious FRAUD.
If the IARDC and the miscreants can produce from the original file, either in its present form or the sanitized version that has evolved each of the Challenged items both JoAnne and yours truly deserve the punishment meted out plus and I will publicly acknowledge that fact and make a formal apology. HOWEVERif the IARDC, Larkin, Farenga, Black, Smart, **** cannot produce the appropriate returns of service from the Sheriff of Cook County, the affidavits of prior notice of the hearing required by 755 ILCS 5/11a – 3b, and a transcript of that hearing each of the attorneys, including the 18 USCA 371 IARDC attorney/attorneys should resign and surrender his/her license to practice law.
This ‘elder cleansing’ is a very serious business. Core Rights of citizens are being violated and confiscated along with their life savings and quality of life. In the 1930s and 1940s when the Nazi hordes were systematically prospecting in their victims mouths of the gold in their teeth were shocked and outraged; however, when **** orchestrated a similar scenario not only is not a word of protest forthcoming, but the Illinois Supreme Court and the IARDC join in a massive cover-up and attornment.
The gantlet has been thrown. Are we willing to accept less than HONESTY and Honor from our public officials? If so, WHY? A public office is a public trust. As Americans we are entitled to HONEST public officials who have actual integrity – not the nadir of society and our population. Larkin – put up or shut up!
Let me suggest that if you cannot produce a majority of the items demanded supra you are admitting to some very serious felonies that not only diminish you but all around you. Everyone makes errors and thus Americans are universally forgiving. Intentionally preying on the elderly is one of sins that cannot be forgiven! Your failure to either produce the items demanded or make restitution for your crimes against the ‘great unwashed’ is unacceptable.
Demand is made to the IARDC and the Illinois Supreme Court to enforce the Rule of Law equally and if Larkin and the miscreants who have acted in concert with him cannot produce the evidence required by this complaint appropriate punishment be handed out to Larkin and his 18 USCA 371 co-conspirators.
 It should be noted that the affidavits of Gloria Sykes, Scott Evans et al verify every statement that either Denison or yours truly makes concerning these cases. In the Alice Gore case, which does not appear to part of the original charges the offending Guardian ad Litem was accused by the Florida Attorney General of fraud – she was noted to have filed a claim as an heir to an estate that she was a stranger. (See Probate Sharks blog). Her benefactor, a large nursing home operator, has been fined by the USA and others for various Medicare, Medicaid **** frauds. The Gore Estate is reported to have extreme irregularities attorned to by the presiding judge**** The Holocaust becomes quite relevant to the Gore case as it was disclosed that the avarice of the judicial officials including prospecting his Mrs. Gore’s mouth for the gold in her teeth. Naturally, Mr. Larkin could find nothing amiss with the collecting of gold from the teeth of elder cleansing victims.
 As Illinois is on the verge of Bankruptcy and the legislature want to increase the taxpayer burden, it is now quite appropriate to collect from each of the miscreants their joint and several liability. It is my supposition that each of the lawyer defendants is guilty of not reporting the tax liability on his/her 1040 Tax return. Had they done so *****.
 This will be interesting as the Clerk of the Circuit Court has admitted that she did not even have such a form printed at the time of the Mary Sykes scenario was unfolding. The form summons thus had to be specifically drafted by the attorney representing the petitioner. It does appear that the wrong form summons were presented to the Sheriff of Cook County. These summons were not served because Mary was not a resident of Cook County – she had been abducted and removed to DuPage County. This bit of legerdemain suggested FRAUD was evident on day one.
 The Sheriff of Cook County wrote a letter denying any return of summons, however, Mr. Schmiedel claims a bench service. He does not claim that the 755 ILCS 5/11a – 10 form summons was ever served, nor has he claimed that the procedure required as followed.
 No prior notice has ever been claimed to have been given to Gloria Sykes (daughter), or two either of the two sisters of Mary. Even the kangaroo panel could not ‘find’ that notice was given, they instead said that the two sister had knowledge of some hearing.
 Interestingly Adam Stern wrote to Gloria Sykes an e-mail in which he disclosed that no such hearing had been had. The incompetency was determined by the two guardian ad litem meeting with the Attorney for the petitioner and the judge signing the order presented. If the e-mail is accurate, a key element of due process is missing (along with notice) and the proceedings are so tainted that gross criminal conduct has occurred in the Circuit Court of Cook County and not only must the offending judges be removed from office, but they are the attorneys attorning to such procedures must be subjected to serious disciplinary proceedings that include disbarment. Contrary to Mr. Larkin’s assertion – this offense against the Constitution of the State of Illinois and the United States of America is so obscene as to warrant criminal prosecution of the offending attorneys. Each of the attorneys and each of the judges involved knew of should have known that 18 USCA 241, 242 and 42 USCA 1983 were openly and notoriously violated. This lack of propriety coupled with the theft of a million dollars in Gold Coins (see Gloria Sykes affidavit on file in both the Ditkowsky and Denison disciplinary files) suggests some additional felonies! Exactly how the IARDC can ignore Ms. Sykes’ affidavit and the lack of due process is a mystery that suggest felonies galore!
 The attorneys on the various panels who were not independent enough to object to the kangaroo proceedings in the Denison and Ditkowsky proceedings are not being given a pass – they also are co-conspirators and wrongdoers as they rubber=stamped the cover=up in the Sykes case. Attorneys take an oath to uphold the Constitution. Upholding the constitution is not consistent with attempting to silence the exposure of judicial (or political) corruption.
okay, I voted her that, but I know she helps other women who have been through the worst–and that is prostitution. A crime that no one does anything about where in the US we have the most trafficked women, girls and boys.
I have had contact with trafficked women in Chicago, and believe me, no one helps. I faxed the FBI, the states attorneys (Madigan, Alvarez, etc.), the Chicago police department and no one responded.
For that, I am giving Brenda Powell my vote and this blog’s vote for Woman of the Year.
Brenda Myers-Powell was just a child when she became a prostitute in the early 1970s. Here she describes how she was pulled into working on the streets and why, three decades later, she devoted her life to making sure other girls don’t fall into the same trap. Some people will find Brenda’s account upsetting.
Right from the start life was handing me lemons, but I’ve always tried to make the best lemonade I can.
I grew up in the 1960s on the West Side of Chicago. My mother died when I was six months old. She was only 16 and I never learned what it was that she died from – my grandmother, who drank more than most, couldn’t tell me later on. The official explanation is that it was “natural causes”.
I don’t believe that. Who dies at 16 from natural causes? I like to think that God was just ready for her. I heard stories that she was beautiful and had a great sense of humour. I know that’s true because I have one also.
It was my grandmother that took care of me. And she wasn’t a bad person – in fact she had a side to her that was so wonderful. She read to me, baked me stuff and cooked the best sweet potatoes. She just had this drinking problem. She would bring drinking partners home from the bar and after she got intoxicated and passed out these men would do things to me. It started when I was four or five years old and it became a regular occurrence. I’m certain my grandmother didn’t know anything about it.
She worked as a domestic in the suburbs. It took her two hours to get to work and two hours to get home. So I was a latch-key kid – I wore a key around my neck and I would take myself to kindergarten and let myself back in at the end of the day. And the molesters knew about that, and they took advantage of it.
I would watch women with big glamorous hair and sparkly dresses standing on the street outside our house. I had no idea what they were up to; I just thought they were shiny. As a little girl, all I ever wanted was to be shiny.
One day I asked my grandmother what the women were doing and she said, “Those women take their panties off and men give them money.” And I remember saying to myself, “I’ll probably do that” because men had already been taking my panties off.
To look back now, I dealt with it all amazingly well. Alone in that house, I had imaginary friends to keep me company that I would sing and dance around with – an imaginary Elvis Presley, an imaginary Diana Ross and the Supremes. I think that helped me deal with things. I was a really outgoing girl – I used to laugh a lot.
At the same time, I was afraid, always afraid. I didn’t know if what was happening was my fault or not. I thought perhaps something was wrong with me. Even though I was a smart kid, I disconnected from school. Going into the 1970s, I became the kind of girl who didn’t know how to say “no” – if the little boys in the community told me that they liked me or treated me nice, they could basically have their way with me.
By the time I was 14, I’d had two children with boys in the community, two baby girls. My grandmother started to say that I needed to bring in some money to pay for these kids, because there was no food in the house, we had nothing.
So, one evening – it was actually Good Friday – I went along to the corner of Division Street and Clark Street and stood in front of the Mark Twain hotel. I was wearing a two-piece dress costing $3.99, cheap plastic shoes, and some orange lipstick which I thought might make me look older.
I was 14 years old and I cried through everything. But I did it. I didn’t like it, but the five men who dated me that night showed me what to do. They knew I was young and it was almost as if they were excited by it.
I made $400 but I didn’t get a cab home that night. I went home by train and I gave most of that money to my grandmother, who didn’t ask me where it came from.
The following weekend I returned to Division and Clark, and it seemed like my grandmother was happy when I brought the money home.
But the third time I went down there, a couple of guys pistol-whipped me and put me in the trunk of their car. They had approached me before because I was, as they called it, “unrepresented” on the street. All I knew was the light in the trunk of the car and then the faces of these two guys with their pistol. First they took me to a cornfield out in the middle of nowhere and raped me. Then they took me to a hotel room and locked me in the closet.
That’s the kind of thing pimps will do to break a girl’s spirits. They kept me in there for a long time. I was begging them to let me out because I was hungry, but they would only allow me out of the closet if I agreed to work for them.
They pimped me for a while, six months or so. I wasn’t able to go home. I tried to get away but they caught me, and when they caught me they hurt me so bad. Later on, I was trafficked by other men. The physical abuse was horrible, but the real abuse was the mental abuse – the things they would say that would just stick and which you could never get from under.
Pimps are very good at torture, they’re very good at manipulation. Some of them will do things like wake you in the middle of the night with a gun to your head. Others will pretend that they value you, and you feel like, “I’m Cinderella, and here comes my Prince Charming”. They seem so sweet and so charming and they tell you: “You just have to do this one thing for me and then you’ll get to the good part.” And you think, “My life has already been so hard, what’s a little bit more?” But you never ever do get to the good part.
When people describe prostitution as being something that is glamorous, elegant, like in the story of Pretty Woman, well that doesn’t come close to it. A prostitute might sleep with five strangers a day. Across a year, that’s more than 1,800 men she’s having sexual intercourse or oral sex with. These are not relationships, no-one’s bringing me any flowers here, trust me on that. They’re using my body like a toilet.
And the johns – the clients – are violent. I’ve been shot five times, stabbed 13 times. I don’t know why those men attacked me, all I know is that society made it comfortable for them to do so. They brought their anger or mental illness or whatever it was and they decided to wreak havoc on a prostitute, knowing I couldn’t go to the police and if I did I wouldn’t be taken seriously.
I actually count myself very lucky. I knew some beautiful girls who were murdered out there on the streets.
I prostituted for 14 or 15 years before I did any drugs. But after a while, after you’ve turned as many tricks as you can, after you’ve been strangled, after someone’s put a knife to your throat or someone’s put a pillow over your head, you need something to put a bit of courage in your system.
I was a prostitute for 25 years, and in all that time I never once saw a way out. But on 1 April 1997, when I was nearly 40 years old, a customer threw me out of his car. My dress got caught in the door and he dragged me six blocks along the ground, tearing all the skin off my face and the side of my body.
I went to the County Hospital in Chicago and they immediately took me to the emergency room. Because of the condition I was in, they called in a police officer, who looked me over and said: “Oh I know her. She’s just a hooker. She probably beat some guy and took his money and got what she deserved.” And I could hear the nurse laughing along with him. They pushed me out into the waiting room as if I wasn’t worth anything, as if I didn’t deserve the services of the emergency room after all.
And it was at that moment, while I was waiting for the next shift to start and for someone to attend to my injuries, that I began to think about everything that had happened in my life. Up until that point I had always had some idea of what to do, where to go, how to pick myself up again. Suddenly it was like I had run out of bright ideas. I remember looking up and saying to God, “These people don’t care about me. Could you please help me?”
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Brenda Myers-Powell spoke to Outlook on the BBC World Service
Dreamcatcher, a film about Brenda directed by Kim Longinotto, will be shown in the BBC’s Storyville strand in the UK later this year
God worked real fast. A doctor came and took care of me and she asked me to go and see social services in the hospital. What I knew about social services was they were anything but social. But they gave me a bus pass to go to a place called Genesis House, which was run by an awesome Englishwoman named Edwina Gateley, who became a great hero and mentor for me. She helped me turn my life around.
It was a safe house, and I had everything that I needed there. I didn’t have to worry about paying for clothes, food, getting a job. They told me to take my time and stay as long as I needed – and I stayed almost two years. My face healed, my soul healed. I got Brenda back.
Through Edwina Gateley, I learned the value of that deep connection that can occur between women, the circle of trust and love and support that a group of women can give one another.
Usually, when a woman gets out of prostitution, she doesn’t want to talk about it. What man will accept her as a wife? What person will hire her in their employment? And to begin with, after I left Genesis House, that was me too. I just wanted to get a job, pay my taxes and be like everybody else.
But I started to do some volunteering with sex workers and to help a university researcher with her fieldwork. After a while I realised that nobody was helping these young ladies. Nobody was going back and saying, “That’s who I was, that’s where I was. This is who I am now. You can change too, you can heal too.”
So in 2008, together with Stephanie Daniels-Wilson, we founded theDreamcatcher Foundation. A dreamcatcher is a Native American object that you hang near a child’s cot. It is supposed to chase away children’s nightmares. That’s what we want to do – we want to chase away those bad dreams, those bad things that happen to young girls and women.
The recent documentary film Dreamcatcher, directed by Kim Longinotto, showed the work that we do. We meet up with women who are still working on the street and we tell them, “There is a way out, we’re ready to help you when you’re ready to be helped.” We try to get through that brainwashing that says, “You’re born to do this, there’s nothing else for you.”
I also run after-school clubs with young girls who are exactly like I was in the 1970s. I can tell as soon as I meet a girl if she is in danger, but there is no fixed pattern. You might have one girl who’s quiet and introverted and doesn’t make eye contact. Then there might be another who’s loud and obnoxious and always getting in trouble. They’re both suffering abuse at home but they’re dealing with it in different ways – the only thing they have in common is that they are not going to talk about it. But in time they understand that I have been through what they’re going through, and then they talk to me about it.
So far, we have 13 girls who have graduated from high school and are now in city colleges or have gotten full scholarships to go to other colleges. They came to us 11, 12, 13 years old, totally damaged. And now they’re reaching for the stars.
Besides my outreach work, I attend conferences and contribute to academic work on prostitution. I’ve had people say to me, “Brenda, come and meet Professor so-and-so from such-and-such university. He’s an expert on prostitution.” And I look at him and I want to say: “Really? Where did you get your credentials? What do you really know about prostitution? The expert is standing in front of you.”
I know I belong in that room but sometimes I have to let them know I belong there. And I think it’s ridiculous that there are organisations that campaign against human trafficking, that do not employ a single person who has been trafficked.
People say different things about prostitution. Some people think that it would actually help sex workers more if it were decriminalised. I think it’s true to say that every woman has her own story. It may be OK for this girl, who is paying her way through law school, but not for this girl, who was molested as a child, who never knew she had another choice, who was just trying to get money to eat.
But let me ask you a question. How many people would you encourage to quit their jobs to become prostitutes? Would you say to any of your close friends or female relatives, “Hey, have you thought of this? I think this would be a really great move for you!”
And let me say this too. However the situation starts off for a girl, that’s not how the situation will end up. It might look OK now, the girl in law school might say she only has high-end clients that come to her through an agency, that she doesn’t work on the streets but arranges to meet people in hotel rooms, but the first time that someone hurts her, that’s when she really sees her situation for what it is. You always get that crazy guy slipping through and he has three or four guys behind him, and they force their way into your room and gang rape you, and take your phone and all your money. And suddenly you have no means to make a living and you’re beaten up too. That is the reality of prostitution.
Three years ago, I became the first woman in the state of Illinois to have her convictions for prostitution wiped from her record. It was after a new law was brought in, following lobbying from the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, a group that seeks to shift the criminal burden away from the victims of sexual trafficking. Women who have been tortured, manipulated and brainwashed should be treated as survivors, not criminals.
There are good women in this world and also bad women. There are bad men and also good men.
Following my time as a prostitute, I simply wasn’t ready for another relationship. But after three years of healing and abstinence, I met an extraordinary man. I was very picky – he likes to joke that I asked him more questions than the parole board. He didn’t judge me for any of the things that had happened before we met. When he looked at me he didn’t even see those things – he says all he saw was a girl with a pretty smile that he wanted to be a part of his life. I sure wanted to be a part of his too. He supports me in everything I do, and we celebrated 10 years of marriage last year.
My daughters, who were raised by my aunt in the suburbs, grew up to be awesome young ladies. One is a doctor and one works in criminal justice. Now my husband and I have adopted my little nephew – and here I am, 58 years old, a football mum.
So I am here to tell you – there is life after so much damage, there is life after so much trauma. There is life after people have told you that you are nothing, that you are worthless and that you will never amount to anything. There is life – and I’m not just talking about a little bit of life. There is a lot of life.
Is Edward Snowden, the twenty-nine-year-old N.S.A. whistle-blower who was last said to be hiding in Hong Kong awaiting his fate, a hero or a traitor? He is a hero. (My colleague Jeffrey Toobin disagrees.) In revealing the colossal scale of the U.S. government’s eavesdropping on Americans and other people around the world, he has performed a great public service that more than outweighs any breach of trust he may have committed. Like Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department official who released the Pentagon Papers, and Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear technician who revealed the existence of Israel’s weapons program, before him, Snowden has brought to light important information that deserved to be in the public domain, while doing no lasting harm to the national security of his country.
Doubtless, many people inside the U.S. power structure—President Obama included—and some of its apologists in the media will see things differently. When Snowden told the Guardian that “nothing good” was going to happen to him, he was almost certainly right. In fleeing to Hong Kong, he may have overlooked the existence of its extradition pact with the United States, which the U.S. authorities will most certainly seek to invoke. The National Security Agency has already referred the case to the Justice Department, and James Clapper, Obama’s director of National Intelligence, has said that Snowden’s leaks have done “huge, grave damage” to “our intelligence capabilities.”
Before accepting such claims at face value, let’s remind ourselves of what the leaks so far have not contained. They didn’t reveal anything about the algorithms that the N.S.A. uses, the groups or individuals that the agency targets, or the identities of U.S. agents. They didn’t contain the contents of any U.S. military plans, or of any conversations between U.S. or foreign officials. As Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists who broke the story, pointed out on “Morning Joe” today, this wasn’t a WikiLeaks-style data dump. “[Snowden] spent months meticulously studying every document,” Greenwald said. “He didn’t just upload them to the Internet.”
So, what did the leaks tell us? First, they confirmed that the U.S. government, without obtaining any court warrants, routinely collects the phone logs of tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of Americans, who have no links to terrorism whatsoever. If the publicity prompts Congress to prevent phone companies such as Verizon and A.T. & T. from acting as information-gathering subsidiaries of the spying agencies, it won’t hamper legitimate domestic-surveillance operations—the N.S.A. can always go to court to obtain a wiretap or search warrant—and it will be a very good thing for the country.
The second revelation in the leaks was that the N.S.A., in targeting foreign suspects, has the capacity to access vast amounts of user data from U.S.-based Internet companies such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Skype. Exactly how this is done remains a bit murky. But it’s clear that, in the process of monitoring the communications of overseas militants and officials and the people who communicate with them, the N.S.A. sweeps up a great deal of online data about Americans, and keeps it locked away—seemingly forever.
Conceivably, the fact that Uncle Sam is watching their Facebook and Google accounts could come as news to some dimwit would-be jihadis in foreign locales, prompting them to communicate in ways that are harder for the N.S.A. to track. But it will hardly surprise the organized terrorist groups, which already go to great lengths to avoid being monitored. Not for nothing did Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad go without a phone or Internet connection.
Another Snowden leak, which Greenwald and the Guardian published over the weekend, was a set of documents concerning another secret N.S.A. tracking program with an Orwellian name: “Boundless Informant.” Apparently designed to keep Snowden’s former bosses abreast of what sorts of data it was collecting around the world, the program unveiled the vast reach of the N.S.A.’s activities. In March, 2013, alone, the Guardian reported, the N.S.A. collected ninety-seven billion pieces of information from computer networks worldwide, and three billion of those pieces came from U.S.-based networks.
It’s hardly surprising that the main targets for the N.S.A.’s data collection were Iran (fourteen billion pieces in that period) and Pakistan (more than thirteen billion), but countries such as Jordan, India, and Egypt, American allies all, may be a bit surprised to find themselves so high on the list. “We hack everyone everywhere,” Snowden told the Guardian. “We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world. We are not at war with these countries.”
For most Americans, the main concern will be domestic spying, and the chronic lack of oversight that Snowden’s leaks have highlighted. In the years since 9/11, the spying agencies have been given great leeway to expand their activities, with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, which deals with legal requests from the agencies, and the congressional intelligence committees, which nominally oversees all of their activities, all too often acting as rubber stamps rather than proper watchdogs.
Partly, that was due to lack of gumption and an eagerness to look tough on issues of counterterrorism. But it also reflected a lack of information. Just a couple of months ago, at a Senate hearing, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, one of the few legislators to sound any misgivings over the activities of the intelligence agencies, asked Clapper, “Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” To which Clapper replied: “No, sir.” (He added, “Not wittingly.”) At another hearing, General Keith Alexander, the director of the N.S.A., denied fourteen times that the agency had the technical capability to intercept e-mails and other online communications in the United States.
Thanks to Snowden, and what he told the Guardian and the Washington Post, we now have cause to doubt the truth of this testimony. In Snowden’s words: “The N.S.A. has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.”
Were Clapper and Alexander deliberately lying? If so, perhaps Snowden should be extradited to the United States and dragged into court—but only as part of a proceeding in which the two spymasters face charges of misleading Congress. I suppose you could make the argument that he is a naïve young man who didn’t fully understand the dangerous nature of the world in which we live. You could question his motives, and call him a publicity seeker, or an idiot. (Fleeing to Hong Kong wasn’t very smart.) But he doesn’t sound like an airhead; he sounds like that most awkward and infuriating of creatures—a man of conscience. “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things,” he told Greenwald. “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
So what is Snowden’s real crime? Like Ellsberg, Vanunu, and Bradley Manning before him, he uncovered questionable activities that those in power would rather have kept secret. That’s the valuable role that whistle-blowers play in a free society, and it’s one that, in each individual case, should be weighed against the breach of trust they commit, and the potential harm their revelations can cause. In some instances, conceivably, the interests of the state should prevail. Here, though, the scales are clearly tipped in Snowden’s favor.
I’ll leave the last word to Ellsberg, who, for revealing to the world that that Pentagon knew early on that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable, was described in some quarters as a communist and a traitor: “Snowden did what he did because he recognised the NSA’s surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity. This wholesale invasion of Americans’ and foreign citizens’ privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we’re trying to protect.”
Most people in the US do not know who Edward Snowden is or what he has accomplished. Further, they think he is similar to Julian Assange which just dumped tons of data–mostly old information about how the Vietnam war was a farce and the US Govt knew it and wasted billions of dollars on it and killed tens of thousands of young US men. It was murder without bounds.
So I hope this article clears up the confusion. Snowden carefully leaked the unconstitutional aspects of the US Govt’s massive spying system, with out providing the underlying information of the secrets of US Citizens or the US government. He just stated the extent of spying on US citizens and explained why it was unconsitutional. He also revealed enough information on how the NSA works so that this information can show that NSA officials routinely went to Congressional hearings and just plain lied about what the NSA was doing.
Edward Snowden leaked the system and not the contents, for the most part. His information was crucial for Congress to know it had been substantially lied to over the years. He was a man of conscience.
Julian Assange does something similar but his activites appear to center on old data dumps and whisteblower type activites where he posts what other leak.
In a stinging slap at the Justice Department, a federal judge last week ordered practically all the lawyers in its main DC office to take ethics training for five years.
At that, they got off lightly: Judge Andrew Hanen said he would have disbarred the lawyers, who had deceived him, if he had the power.
Hanen was the judge who heard the request by 26 states to toss out President Obama’s 2014 executive order granting temporarily legal status to millions of immigrants who aren’t actually legal.
The case is now before the Supreme Court — which is the only reason Hanen didn’t issue a summary judgment against Obama and the lawyers who lied.
Federal rules of civil procedure require attorneys to neither mislead the courts, nor allow the courts to be misled. Hanen found that the Justice lawyers had done just that — in his court.
How so? The states were considering filing for an immediate injunction to stop Justice from implementing the Obama order. The lawyers assured Hanen in court that nothing would go ahead before February 2015, so there was no need.
Then the department went ahead and “legalized” 100,000 illegals — without ever telling the judge.
Hence his fury once he learned the truth.
Hanen not only barred the offending attorneys from ever appearing in his court again, he ordered ethics training for all lawyers from “Main Justice,” the DC central office, who might appear in courts in any of the 26 states.
He has also ordered Attorney General Loretta Lynch to present within 60 days her plan for making sure Justice lawyers never play such games again.
We don’t blame Lynch: This all went on under her predecessor, Eric Holder. But we hope she embraces Hanen’s order rather than trying to appeal.
All lawyers have an obligation “to act honestly in all of their dealings with a court,” as Hanen put it. And attorneys at the Justice Department have a clear duty to be candid with the courts.
Lynch might want to see if she can get her guilty subordinates disbarred.
“Clearly, there seems to be a lack of knowledge about or adherence to the duties of professional responsibility in the halls of the Justice Department,” Hanen wrote in a 28-page order in which he sought to emphasize his demand for “honesty” by quoting dialogue from the movie “Miracle on 34th Street.”
“The need to tell the truth, especially in court, was obvious to a fictional young Tommy Mara Jr., in 1947, yet there are certain attorneys in the Justice Department who apparently have not received that message or more likely have just decided they are above such trivial concepts,” the judge stated.