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Rounding Up 2014 Top Stories

Don Rose 29 December 2014 No Comment

Unless you are a Republican who can revel in the trouncing your party gave President Barack Obama in November,  it wasn’t a particularly good year. I chronicled some of the ups and many of the downs, including some  highly personal, in my weekly outpourings .

I lost a half dozen close friends including the sculptor Caroline Lee and the journalists Jon Anderson and Susan Nelson, but wrote of only about one: my dearest pal of many decades, Ron Dorfman, founder of the Chicago Journalism Review and crusader for gay rights, who, just more than a year ago, with his partner Ken Ilio became the first male couple to be wed under Illinois’s new law. (Also lost one of my best-known clients, Jane Byrne.)

Cattle Drive

Two weeks I wrote of the need to prosecute the perpetrators of American torture: those who gave the orders, who justified them and those who executed them. I was gratified when a week later the New York Times wrote a lengthy, detailed editorial proposing the same thing–the pattern of the editorial following my logic almost paragraph by paragraph. (I am not suggesting they saw mine, but great minds…)

Coincidentally, several weeks ago I did a discourse on  cyber attacks and cyberwarfare. Soon came news of (apparently) North Korea’s devastating cyberattack on Sony. It was first played for its gossipy elements, then threats against the movie “The Interview,” replete with presidential commentary, self-censorship, then a few movie houses bravely showing, based on most reviews, a sappy film.  But we are now all more deeply sensitized to the dangers of cyberwarfare.

In the course of the year I railed–as in past years–of the need for revolutionizing police-community relations through genuine community policing. It appears to be working in Los Angeles, Macon GA and other places. What seems an epidemic of police killings calls out for nationwide change in major parts of the justice system, including the prosecutorial level. A level of citizen control through elected police boards–not phony review boards such as we have in Chicago–could be part of the solution, though resistance would be immense. Murdering innocent cops randomly is no solution at all–it only makes things worse, as we see in New York.

More railing through the year against so-called  “education reform”–meaning standardized testing, mayoral control of the schools, promulgation of charter school and so on. And against CNN for its phony deification of Rahm Emanuel in its multipart series on Chicago.

On foreign policy, I immediately pointed out the hole in Obama’s strategy against ISIS–no Sunni troops on the ground–so the war grinds on and will for years. But I supported his immigration actions, noting the economic gains it would bring,  and–though I haven’t written about it–his opening to Cuba. On another overseas issue I despaired of the lessening prospects of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine crisis.

All this, including columns on race relations, won my second Chicago Journalists Association for best commentary columns of the year. I am humbly grateful. Let’s hope I have happier things to write about in 2015–and a happy New Year to all my readers, fans and critics included.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

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