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The [Wednesday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

"The roster of 449 inmates at the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility - dubbed the Supermax - includes a Sept. 11 conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui; the would-be 'shoe bomber,' Richard Reid; the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Yousef; and a former Chicago gang member accused of aiding terrorists, Jose Padilla," the Tribune reports.

"The cells here also house the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, of south suburban Evergreen Park, and Timothy McVeigh's accomplice in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Terry Nichols.

"But if having terrorists imprisoned a 10-minute walk from your home is a safety risk, there's no sign of that in Florence, Colo., a rural community about 110 miles south of Denver.

"'We still leave our doors unlocked at night,' former Mayor Bart Hall said."

Board of Mr. Ed
"Did you ever try to get reimbursed at work for business travel expenses?" Chicago lawyer and musician Matt Farmer writes at Huffington Post. "It's usually not too complicated. You turn in your receipts. You fill out a form with some basic information about your trip. You get the proper person in the office to sign off on the document. And bingo - within a few weeks, your expense check generally lands on your desk.

"Unless, of course, you work for the Chicago Board of Education. The board's reimbursement process is now shrouded in mystery ever since former board president Michael Scott used his board credit card to take his wife to Copenhagen for Chicago's 2016 Olympic bash."

Grilled Cheese Candidate
"The only candidate who hasn't been eager to sit down with me for a snack is former Illinois Republican Party chairman Andrew McKenna," John Kass writes. "He must be too busy spending millions on ads referencing Blagojevich's hair while avoiding how certain Republicans helped Blagojevich get elected, with little if any squawking from party establishment.

"If McKenna does call, I fully expect him to order a grilled cheese sandwich and Campbell's cream of tomato soup. That would certainly distract me from asking whether he's the one candidate Chicago Mayor Richard Daley would like to see in the governor's mansion."


DuPage County is bigger than six states, county board president Bob Schillerstrom tells Kass in today's column.

Cruise Control
Sun-Times Travel Editor Lori Rackl extols the virtues of Royal Caribbean's latest whiz-bang cruise ship, but only the print version includes this caveat at the end: "Information for this article was gathered on a research trip sponsored by Royal Caribbean."


Does that mean "paid for"?

I've had queries before about who was paying for Rackl's worldwide travels while the paper sunk into financial oblivion, but I've never found the time or energy to follow up. But this is basic stuff. You don't do it. Not if you're a pro, that is.

Does Royal Caribbean's "sponsorship" of Rackl's on-site visit mean she went in the tank for the company? Not necessarily. I'm sure the ship is as awesome as described. But Royal Caribbean's "sponsorship" meant they got a story in the Sun-Times that might not otherwise have appeared. And they got the story under a presumably respected byline.

Worse, there is absolutely nothing in the story that couldn't have been had by sitting in Chicago and reviewing the press materials.

The new ship is newsworthy, and times are tough, but there are a lot of other ways to write about it on the cheap - simply a chart listing its amenities, or perhaps a fun history of cruise ships, or maybe a "how do they do it" piece - than to let a company "sponsor" your coverage.

Daley's Big Oprah Joke
His latest lie.

A Chicago Thanksgiving
How local celebs will spend it.

That New Runway Is Really Loud
Park Ridge can't sleep.

Charity Case
"University of Illinois law professor Suja Thomas has launched a blog with her husband to motivate themselves and others to give away more money to charity," the ABA Journal notes.

Bloodshot Briefing
"I don't get how these rock bands live in some places, even like Brooklyn," Brighton, MA's Matt Kerstein tells our very own Matt Harness. "Or San Francisco. I mean, I tell my buddies to look into living in Chicago. But some of the people on the coasts don't give it the time of day.

"Music-wise I can't put my finger on it, but there is a certain thing out here that's hard to explain. Maybe it's because it's down to earth and not a lot of bullshit. The music is more matter-of-fact."

Saving Jay Cutler
"It takes a village to raise a quarterback," our very own George Ofman writes. "What the Bears desperately need is a new village."

Jolie vs. Obama
"Barack Obama does not have Angelina Jolie's seal of approval," US magazine reports.

"She hates him," a source close to the U.N. goodwill ambassador tells the magazine.

Wow. I guess I would care more if she ever actually made a good movie.

- via This Week In Education

World's Greatest College Football Report
A special double issue by our very own Mike Luce. Even if you are not a college football aficianado, this is a fun read.

The Pope's Nose Awards
Jay Cutler gets one. Find out who else is a winner.

Hamster Hell
"The must-have toy this holiday season is the electronic hamster," Ad Age reports.

"Zhu Zhu Pets, a line of five furry interactive hamsters (pronounced Zoo Zoo) have been selling so briskly they have gone missing from retailers' shelves for weeks. The little hamsters are so popular, Toys 'R' Us is using them as a Black Friday marketing centerpiece. Every Toys 'R' Us will have 100 of the furry bots for sale at midnight when the stores open for Black Friday shopping, with a limit of one per customer.

"Walmart and Target aren't even bothering to advertise it in their circulars anymore as the shelves empty as soon as the little critters arrive. And the play pets' $8 price tag has risen accordingly. On eBay and Amazon, just one pet is now going for $60 to $100, if you can even find them at all."


The Beachwood Tip Line: Dark and moist.


Posted on November 25, 2009

MUSIC - Who's Next In Chicago Rap.
TV - Tribune-Nexstar Deal Is Bad News.
POLITICS - Charter Schools Should Talk More About Racism.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Wright Brothers, Wrong Story!

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Hologram Arcade Machines.

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