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The [Wednesday] Papers

Posting will be sporadic through the holiday break, which at Beachwood HQ extends through January 1st.

A few items for your pleasure:

* Meet Part-Time Chicago Suburbanite Tom Stuker, United Airlines' Million-Mile Man.

"Like many frequent fliers, Tom Stuker is reflecting on his past year of accumulating miles in the air. Unlike many of us, he reflects on the fact that as of last week he had flown more than a million miles so far in 2012, all on United Airlines," the

"And yes, for those who are slapping their heads in skeptical astonishment, that is a million miles of actual flying, not a million piled up in frequent-flier mileage programs."

Stuker appeared in the Beachwood last year too - see the item United He Stands near the bottom of this column.

* When U.S. Drones Kill Civilians, Yemen's Government Tries To Conceal It.

"[T]he deaths have bolstered the popularity of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network's Yemen affiliate, which has tried to stage attacks on U.S. soil several times."

See also: Obama's Gift To al-Qaeda.

* Suburban Chicago Factory Owner Looks For Ways To Cope With Obamacare.

"Sales at Automation Systems LLC, a parts-assembly factory in the Chicago suburbs, dropped 60% following the 2008 financial collapse. Owner Carl Schanstra was able to get the firm back on its feet by breaking into new markets, such as the auto industry. Sales are up 12% this year, and are likely to rise again next year, too.

"But for the 34-year-old, the expected growth in sales brings a new concern. He is worried that as Automation Systems continues to expand, it will be subject to a provision in the health-care overhaul that could damage its bottom line.

Mr. Schanstra is contemplating various strategies he can take next year in order to sidestep what he believes are significant burdens of complying with the law. In fact, he's considering whether he should split his manufacturing firm in two."

* Illinois Couple Makes Pizza Beer.

"Tom and Athena Seefurth of Campton Township, IL, outside of Chicago, are marketing Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer with some success after an experiment in their home brewery.

"They say the plan was to invent a beer that would pair nicely with pizza but in the end, they ended up with one that almost was pizza."

* Mark Cuban Wanted To Buy The Cubs But Wasn't Allowed Anywhere Near Them.

"When I couldn't get the owner of the Cubs to sit in a room with me that pretty much told me it wasn't going to happen. I never made a final formal bid."

* Bedsheet Escape Only Latest Embarrassment For Downtown Federal Jail.

"The daring overnight escape last week of two convicted bank robbers who descended several stories from their federal jail cell in the South Loop on a rope made of bedsheets was a marvel to many for the ingenuity it required.

"But the escape also was a massive security breach at a building that has long drawn sharp criticism for less publicized, routine problems.

"Those familiar with the inner workings of the Metropolitan Correctional Center say the concrete high-rise facility is overcrowded. Though intended as a pretrial jail, it has become more of a long-term prison that houses inmates for up to five or six years, they say.

"Critics also complain of inconsistent job performance by the guards, some of whom have been accused of crimes while on duty, including smuggling contraband. Some observers say the MCC, like other federal correctional facilities, is stretched thin by federal budget cuts."


Previously this week:

* The Great Chicago Christmas Credit Card Fiasco of 1966.

"As Christmas approached in 1966, Chicago's banks gave criminals the best gift of all: free credit cards.

"They didn't do this intentionally, of course, but that holiday season the city's banks put thousands of credit cards into criminal hands, with disastrous consequences. Although embarrassing and costly, the Chicago credit card fiasco did have an upside: It eventually led to consumer protections that are still with us today."

* Last Christmas For 132-Year-Old Church?

"It's been around for more than 130 years, but St. James Catholic Church on 29th and Michigan in Chicago will likely be torn down in the new year unless it's saved as a historic landmark."

* Stranger Provides Best Gift - A Kidney - For Grandma.

"For 60-year-old Donna Fitzmaurice and her family, this year brought home the true meaning of Christmas.

"'Giving something of yourself that nobody else ever would, and giving it to a stranger - making life better for someone else - that's the greatest Christmas gift I could ever have gotten,' the Burbank grandmother said Monday.

"Earlier this year, Joseph Trent, 26, of Palos Hills, an electrician, offered to donate one of his kidneys to someone in need, and that someone turned out to be Fitzmaurice."

* Bears Need Help From Packers To Make Playoffs.

We get it. It's "ironic." Does every reporter writing this story think they are the first to point this out? One even asked Lovie Smith if he'd have a hard time rooting for the Packers - even though saving his job may depend on a Green Bay victory. Are we children? Or, better question, are they?

* Kraft Isn't Just Staying In Northfield, It's Expanding.

"Northfield avoided major economic problems in 2012 when Kraft decided against relocating from the near-north suburb.

"Kraft, which moved to Northfield in 1992, split into two companies this year, and entertained the notion of moving its international headquarters to Chicago."

Macaroni & Cheese better watch its back.

* Cool Holiday Train Photo. (via Grid Chicago)

* SportsMonday: Bears Scratch Out Ugly Win Over Third- And Fourth-String Quarterbacks Of Minor League Team At Online University Stadium In Desert Suburb; Still Alive For Playoffs.

* Chicago: Tension City.

* QT: On The Third And Fourth Day Of Christmas . . .

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock: The Western, Flosstradamus, Stonethrone, The Killers, The Bright White, Andrew Bird, Eruptors, Every Avenue, Kill Hannah, Bear Claw, Tyler Ward, The Ridgelands, Criminal Kids.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Unwrapped and ready.


Posted on December 26, 2012

MUSIC - Spring Awakening Wake-Up Call!
TV - Exclusive! Rahm's New TV Gig.
POLITICS - The Political Odds UPDATED.
SPORTS - NHL: CTE Not Our Fault.

BOOKS - Stan Lee, Flawed Hero.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: I Am Iron Man.

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