Week in Review

by by Doreen St. Félix, Marcel Bertsch-Gout & Kate Van Brocklin

illustration by by Diane Zhou


In Defense

By Wednesday morning, a quiet had finally settled outside the Chicago Public Schools headquarters on 125 South Clark St. The night before, a majority of the 800 delegates in the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) had moved to suspend the teacher’s strike—the city’s first in over 25 years—that for eight days left classrooms empty, downtown streets engulfed with passionate protestors, and the parents of over 350,000 public school students frantically searching for child-care alternatives. Just that day, downtown was swarmed with thousands of vocal teachers and their supporters, protesting contract negotiations with Chicago public school officials.

If CTU President Karen Lewis, leading 26,000 teachers to protest, was the group’s bespectacled Moses, then Mayor Rahm Emanuel was the Brooks Brother’s-wearing Pharoah of Chicago. The chant “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Rahm Emanuel’s got to go” kept the marching protestors in rhythm. The signs branded Mr. Emanuel as a “bully,” a “liar,” and “Empermanuel.” Yet the sign 10th grade math teacher Mike Konkoleski toted on September 12 took smearing the controversial mayor to a new level.


“RAHM EMANUEL LIKES NICKELBACK,” read the sign, which instantly went viral across many Internet news sources and blogs. Mr. Konkoleski has declined any interviews about this or his other poster that read, “RAHM EMANUEL LIKES CREED.”


So does Mr. Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff and ballet dancer, like the Canadian rock band? “No,“ said his spokeswoman in a short, defensive email response to on September 14. Apparently, Mr. Emanuel is not a fan of the aggressively mediocre and clichéd boy band. A retroactive look at the tongue-in-cheek sign, though, points to what was at the core of the teacher’s strike: the union’s Number One enemy wasn’t—and still isn’t—school board officials but Mr. Emanuel himself. When Mr. Emanuel went to court on September 17 to file a temporary restraining order and court injunction against the union, his alpha male swaggering showed he isn’t a big fan of the union either.

Though a new contract has yet to be reached between the CTU and Chicago Public School officials, Lewis and Emanuel now speak about the bargaining phase in friendly tones. In a press statement, he called the outcome of talks between the two parties “an honest compromise.” She said she hoped the mayor “would carry out the [impending] contract in good faith.” According to The New York Times, a proposed three-year contract between the CTU and public school officials would include a double-digit pay raise, a limiting of standardized test scores to 30 percent of teacher evaluations and allowance for educators to create their own lesson plans. Mr. Emanuel’s desire to shut down certain and privatize other charter schools has been perceived by many members of the union as “corporate privatization of public education,” according to the Chicago Tribune. The CTU and its supporters view Mr. Emanuel as the unofficial figurehead of Chicago’s moneyed elite, and a threat to the traditional model of neighborhood public schools. Michael Rusin, a teacher at Lincoln Park High School, said it clearly in a September 18 Huffington Post blog post: “I encourage Chicagoans to share my vision of the future, and to speak out against those that seek to destroy our public education system.” — DSF





In a ferocious bid to cement their place in the annals of useless technology, Maryland’s Prince George’s County Police Department revealed that it plans to install cameras to watch over already existing speed cameras, which take license plate photos of speeders. Henceforth, there will be cameras that watch the speed cameras that watch the drivers who are watching the road.


To be fair, these speed cameras have seen their share of abuse. Reportedly, one was used for target practice by a pistol-toting man. Yet another camera was incinerated in an act of arson. A third bruised and battered camera is believed to have been the target of a roving gang of delinquents. These transgressions have gone unpunished and had to be pieced together based on the cameras’ later-found, pitifully savaged bodies—for privacy reasons, speed cameras are not legally allowed to record anything but license plates. This may be partially remedied by the new cameras, but it seems more likely that they will provide a generous concession to the barbarous incinerators. In justification of the extra measures, Major Robert V. Liberati, the police department’s Commander of the Automated Enforcement Section, declared, “I think the traffic itself is the cause of frustration [towards speed cameras]. We have a duty to make the roads safe, even if it takes a couple extra minutes to get to your destination. “If Liberati is right, the new cameras hardly get to the root of the problem. Meanwhile, these little symbols of government strictures clearly get people revved up, and every time a camera perishes, another $30,000 to 100,000 is drained from government coffers.


The proposed remedy seems only to be worsening the situation. Online commenters responding to reportage of the new camera initiative almost unanimously express added hatred to an additional prying eye and display imaginations that clearly outstrip those of the Prince George County police department. One reader suggests using “hornet and wasp spray whose aerosol-propelled streams can reach 20 feet,” to knock a new camera out of commission. Another reader recommends “flying a remote control airplane into the lenses.” These seem like risky proposals; after all, there may be a third camera they’re not telling us about. — MBG



Some 3,600 years ago, the last major eruption flooded the caldera of island of Nea Kameni on the Greek archipelago of Santorini. This blast, the second largest of its kind in human history after the eruption of Tambora in Indonesia, may have destroyed the Minoan civilization based on nearby Crete, which inspired the myth of Atlantis. According to Plato, in 9300 B.C. the legendary island and utopian civilization of Atlantis was a naval power that failed to conquer Athens and sank into the ocean “in a single day and night of misfortune.” Now a swelling magma chamber—a pool of liquid rock beneath the volcano—is awakening beneath Santorini once again.


Satellite radar technology has detected the source of some recent rumblings. The Santorini-magma study, published in the latest issue of Nature Geoscience, reported that between January 2011 and April 2012, a rush of molten rock swelled the magma chamber, by some 13 to 26 million cubic yards—about 15 times the volume of London’s Olympic Stadium. The pressure from this ballooning mass has already forced parts of the island’s surface to rise by 3 to 5.5 inches. A recent article in Science Daily reports that this seismic activity is drastically deforming the Santorini caldera, a cauldron-like collapse that is triggered by the magma chamber emptying, at levels never seen before.


According to University of Oxford vulcanologist David Pyle, massive eruptions on Santorini occur about 20,000 years apart. The last small earthquake struck the archipelago in 1950. Pyle predicts that imminent earthquakes will have minor effects on the island. “They might produce some ash, which could disrupt air traffic or interfere with drinking-water supplies. But most likely we’re not even talking about evacuations,” Pyle told National Geographic. More than 50,000 tourists a day flock to Santorini from May to October. One can often see as many as five cruise ships floating around the volcano.


Pyle chocks up the latest quakes caused by the inflated magma chambers on Santorini to the little restless patches that rattle volcanoes that spend hundreds or thousands of years in a state of dormancy. The molten rock moving around the depths of these volcanoes is the core of the change in these volcanoes’ behavior.


The volcano has been quiet for 60 years, but these tiny tremors don’t indicate an imminent eruption, geologist Nomikou Paraskevi of the University of Athens told National Geographic. “We simply don’t know enough about the lifecycle of large volcanoes in between eruptions to be certain,” said Paraskevi.


But studies at the volcano take the rumblings more seriously, suggesting that the current state of volcanic inflation is the only significant one since the eruption of 1939-1941. “It would be unwise to assume that the present state of unrest will not end in an eruption,” the researchers wrote. With luck the gods will spare Santorini rather than sending another “terrible night of fire and earthquakes” that caused Atlantis to sink into the sea. — KVB