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« October 2013 | Main | December 2013 »

November 29, 2013

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Machine Gun Kelly at the UIC Pavilion on Wednesday night.


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2. Metric at the UIC Pavilion on Sunday night.

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3. Lupe Fiasco at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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4. letlive at Reggies on Sunday night.

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5. Jagwar Ma at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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6. Chance the Rapper feat. Vic Mensa & Twista at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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7. Rick Springfield at City Winery on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors

Dining room and lounge.

mariesdiningorig.JPG(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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Holiday Sale:

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:04 AM | Permalink

November 28, 2013

The [Thanksgiving 2013] Papers

Saturday Update:

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The College Football Report: Is taking the holiday weekend off.

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The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: A Thanksgivukkah Miracle.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The Business: What happens when artists take a look inward? Jim and Greg play the best songs written about the music industry. And they review the new album from the California band The Warlocks."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Cowboy up.

saucer1130.jpg

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

Community Forum: SNAP Program Benefit Reductions

11-25-SNAPCuts.jpg

Paul Morello of the Greater Chicago Food Depository discusses how cuts to SNAP benefits will affect social service agencies and Chicago residents who rely on food stamps.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Sunday at 4 p.m. on CAN TV21 (en Español).

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Perspectivas Latinas: Centro Juan Diego

11-25-CasaJuanDiego.jpg

Liz Gonzalez of Casa Juan Diego shares how providing a safe and positive environment for youth contributes to their personal development.

Saturday at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Metal Recycling, Acme Refining Public Forum

11-25-RecyclingForum.jpg

Community members weigh in on proposals to build a new scrap metal recycling plant in Pilsen.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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From the Mines to the Streets: A Bolivian Activist's Life

11-25-FelixMuruchi.jpg

Author and activist Felix Muruchi connects his own experiences as a miner, union leader and political prisoner in Bolivia with the larger political forces at play in the country and across South America at the end of the 20th century.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Past, Present, & Future of the Labor Movement

11-25-LaborMovt.jpg

Dorian T. Warren of Columbia University traces the history of labor movements in America, including recent events like the Occupy movement and teacher strikes in Chicago, during a lecture sponsored by Roosevelt University's Center for New Deal Studies.

Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Perspectivas Latinas: From the Barrio

11-25-FromTheBarrio.jpg

Robert Renteria of the From The Barrio Foundation highlights ways that nonprofits can address the problems of violence, delinquency, drugs, and gangs in Chicago.

Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Status TV Chicago presents "Only One Way Out"

11-25-StatusTV.jpg

In this short film, a young man who moves to Chicago falls in love with a salsa dancer, but he must overcome the gangs of his new neighborhood - and his own lack of dancing skills - in his quest to be with her. This film contains some adult language.

Sunday at midnight on CAN TV19.

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Friday Update:

  • Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
  • The Week In Chicago Rock: Featuring Machine Gun Kelly, Metric, Lupe Fiasco, letlive, Jagwar Ma, Chance the Rapper, and Rick Springfield.

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The [Thanksgiving 2013] Papers:

1. Speed Camera System Flags A Parked Car.

That's okay, just write the check to the City of Chicago Children's Fund.

2. Thanksgiving Has Long Been a Commercial Sell-Out.

From day one.

"As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts." The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold?

It's the historical sellout we still haven't come to grips with.

3. Obama Can Pardon Turkeys, Why Not Immigrants?

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See also: The Story of Ju Hong, Presidential Heckler.

4. Thanksgiving Shopping? Not In States That Ban It.

5. Illinois Has The Second Most Turkey Deep-Frying Accidents.

Somehow I feel like it's John Kass's fault.

6. Michelle Obama Wants To Ruin Your Thanksgiving.

"As you spend time with loved ones this holiday season," she writes in a mass e-mail, "be sure to talk with them about what health care reform can mean for them - OFA has some tips to help get the ball rolling."

7. Tastes Like Rubber.

8. Pension Turkey.

9. Kill List.

10. Turkey Shot.

11. Don't Blow It, CTA.

12. Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

"An administration that took office promising to be the most transparent in history instead has carried out the most intrusive surveillance of reporters ever attempted."

13. Turkey Trots.

Flying and otherwise.

14. Dominick's 1977: Holiday Turkey With Pop-Up Timer.

USDA Grade "A."

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See also: Dominick's Still Selling Gift Cards Despite Imminent Closings.

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Seemingly related: Latest Gift Card: Online Time With A Doctor.

15. A Thanksgivukkah Miracle.

He led the team with this oil for six games.

16. Anthropologists "Wow" Chicago.

"My conference is cooler than your conference."

17. Hog With Big Nuts Must Report To Pen.

Sadly, he'll be out by Flag Day.

18. Too Much Thanksgiving Turkey Can Give Your Pet A Tummy Ache.

Or worse.

19. Walter Payton Goes Turkey Hunting.

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20. America's Native Prisoners of War.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Historically accurate.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:14 AM | Permalink

A People's History Of Thanksgiving

Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:

They . . . brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned . . . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features . . . They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane . . . They would make fine servants . . . With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus. Columbus wrote:

As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.

The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold?

The Indians, Columbus reported, "are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone . . . "He concluded his report by asking for a little help from their Majesties, and in return he would bring them from his next voyage "as much gold as they need . . . and as many slaves as they ask." He was full of religious talk: "Thus the eternal God, our Lord, gives victory to those who follow His way over apparent impossibilities."

Because of Columbus's exaggerated report and promises, his second expedition was given seventeen ships and more than twelve hundred men. The aim was clear: slaves and gold. They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives. But as word spread of the Europeans' intent they found more and more empty villages. On Haiti, they found that the sailors left behind at Fort Navidad had been killed in a battle with the Indians, after they had roamed the island in gangs looking for gold, taking women and children as slaves for sex and labor.

Now, from his base on Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior. They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town, who reported that, although the slaves were "naked as the day they were born," they showed "no more embarrassment than animals." Columbus later wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold."

But too many of the slaves died in captivity. And so Columbus, desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.

The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed.

Trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords, horses. When the Spaniards took prisoners they hanged them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began, with cassava poison. Infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead.

When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, known later as encomiendas. They were worked at a ferocious pace, and died by the thousands. By the year 1515, there were perhaps fifty thousand Indians left. By 1550, there were five hundred. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island.

The chief source-and, on many matters the only source-of in formation about what happened on the islands after Columbus came is Bartolome de las Casas, who, as a young priest, participated in the conquest of Cuba. For a time he owned a plantation on which Indian slaves worked, but he gave that up and became a vehement critic of Spanish cruelty.

In Book Two of his History of the Indies, Las Casas (who at first urged replacing Indians by black slaves, thinking they were stronger and would survive, but later relented when he saw the effects on blacks) tells about the treatment of the Indians by the Spaniards. It is a unique account and deserves to be quoted at length:

Endless testimonies . . . prove the mild and pacific temperament of the natives . . . But our work was to exasperate, ravage, kill, mangle and destroy; small wonder, then, if they tried to kill one of us now and then . . . The admiral, it is true, was blind as those who came after him, and he was so anxious to please the King that he committed irreparable crimes against the Indians . . .

Las Casas tells how the Spaniards "grew more conceited every day" and after a while refused to walk any distance. They "rode the backs of Indians if they were in a hurry" or were carried on hammocks by Indians running in relays. "In this case they also had Indians carry large leaves to shade them from the sun and others to fan them with goose wings."

Total control led to total cruelty. The Spaniards "thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades." Las Casas tells how "two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys."

The Indians' attempts to defend themselves failed. And when they ran off into the hills they were found and killed. So, Las Casas reports. "they suffered and died in the mines and other labors in desperate silence, knowing not a soul in the world to whom they could tun for help." He describes their work in the mines:

. . . mountains are stripped from top to bottom and bottom to top a thousand times; they dig, split rocks, move stones, and carry dirt on their backs to wash it in the rivers, while those who wash gold stay in the water all the time with their backs bent so constantly it breaks them; and when water invades the mines, the most arduous task of all is to dry the mines by scooping up pansful of water and throwing it up outside . . .

After each six or eight months' work in the mines, which was the time required of each crew to dig enough gold for melting, up to a third of the men died. While the men were sent many miles away to the mines, the wives remained to work the soil, forced into the excruciating job of digging and making thousands of hills for cassava plants.

Thus husbands and wives were together only once every eight or ten months and when they met they were so exhausted and depressed on both sides . . . they ceased to procreate. As for the newly born, they died early because their mothers, overworked and famished, had no milk to nurse them, and for this reason, while I was in Cuba, 7000 children died in three months. Some mothers even drowned their babies from sheer desperation . . . In this way, husbands died in the mines, wives died at work, and children died from lack of milk . . . and in a short time this land which was so great, so powerful and fertile . . . was depopulated . . . My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write . . . "

When he arrived on Hispaniola in 1508, Las Casas says, "there were 60,000 people living on this island, including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this? I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it . . . "

Thus began the history, five hundred years ago, of the European invasion of the Indian settlements in the Americas. That beginning, when you read Las Casas - even if his figures are exaggerations (were there 3 million Indians to begin with, as he says, or less than a million, as some historians have calculated, or 8 million as others now believe?) is conquest, slavery, death. When we read the history books given to children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure-there is no bloodshed-and Columbus Day is a celebration.

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And that is how Howard Zinn opened his landmark work A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present.

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For more like this, visit our History Club archives.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

Turkey Trots

1. "The Turkey Trot was invented in San Francisco around 1909 during the Ragtime Era. This was one of the more popular 'animal dances' done during that time."


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2. "The Turkey Trot" by The Winner Ragtime Band. London, November 1912.


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3. "Let's Turkey Trot," Little Eva, 1963.

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4. Kid Creole and the Coconuts, 1982.

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5. The inimitable Flying Turkey Trot, courtesy of Gary Richrath. Really the only Turkey Trot you need.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:07 AM | Permalink

Dominick's 1977: Holiday Turkey With Pop-Up Timer

"Here's a quick commercial for Dominick's Finer Foods, with a sale on USDA Grade 'A' Land O'Lakes young turkey with pop-up timer just in time for the holidays. Good through December 24th. Voiceover by Lloyd Hanson. This aired on local Chicago TV on Friday, December 16, 1977."


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See also:
* The Museum of Classic Chicago Television YouTube Channel.

* The Museum of Classic Chicago Television Website.

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Note: We here at the Beachwood give many, many thanks to The Museum of Classic Chicago Television; we plunder its video archive frequently and always with much gratitude.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: A Thanksgivukkah Miracle

Room For Improvement
The title isn't meant to be a sarcastic quip. I suggest we take the Bears defense into a room and beat them until they improve.

And by "we," I mean a group of guys who are in much better shape than I am. Possibly led by Bennie Cunningham or any other athlete who ever occupied a spot on the Rams running back depth chart (go get 'em Eric Dickerson!) or maybe even a star of the Food Network (go get 'em Robert Irvine!).

Sunday's game suuuhhhhh-cked.

You may be saying "Hey Carl, we clicked over here from the vintage porn site because we're looking for hard-hitting football analysis during our 20-minute refractory period. Tell us exactly what sucked so bad about it."

To which I say:

Juggle my left one.

Coincidentally, "vintageTenticalCam.biz" has been acquired "juggleMyLeftOne.org," which means that, because it was under the umbrella of the Patch family of websites and is for the moment an AOL company, my review of classic '90s adult cinema will be published on e-page 6 of the Huffington Post.

You know what cheers me up after losing millions on a merger and/or acquisition? P.J. Spaa-aarxx (he said sing-songingly)!

With a visit to the Minnesota Adrian Peterson looming, Chicago is going to have to do something about this mess. How fast do performance-enhancing-drugs kick in anyway?

Festival Of Cool Whip Lite
And with Jay Cutler injured again, the Bears searched and found only a single quarterback who had a cursory understanding of the playbook and whose salary would keep the team under the salary cap.

It appeared as though his knowledge of the offense and cruse of oil that he wore instead of a wristband with the plays on it would only permit him the resources to lead the offense for a single game.

A miracle occurred, and he led the team with this oil for six games!

And thanks to his leadership in the successful revolt against the Seleucid monarchy, and subsequent conquering of the Hopi, Sioux and Crow tribes in the battle of Tennessee, Bears fans established this week as days of festivity and praise and thanksgiving*.

And that is how Josh McCown saved the Pilgrims during the harsh winter at Valley Forge.

Meanwhile, those of you who aren't busy controlling the media and receiving a pack of Walmart gym socks from your Aunt Netanya this Thursday are just going to have to make due with America's greatest tradition: overindulgence.

I plan to eat three kinds of turkey and get drunk enough to ask my gay cousin a series of inappropriate questions spawned from baseless assumptions.

So like, you can just go to the park and bang? Why do you guys want to get married? The hairless guy over there, he's on the bottom, right?

Looking forward to it!

Getting Defensive
I don't think the Bears can stop Adrian Peterson, but they may be able to trick him.

It doesn't count as 12 men on the field if Chris Conte carries a cardboard cutout of Charles Tillman he stole from the Sports Authority.

And even if this cutout has a dialogue bubble that says "Ball punch high prices in the throat this holiday season," Christian Ponder may audible into a pass every fifth play, in which case we can expect only a 17-carry, 198-yard performance.

Other options include setting a plate of leftovers on the northern 40-yard line in hopes that Vikings offensive lineman Phil Loadholt will simply stop blocking or asking Tom Skilling to whip up a mud slide or some weather event that will slow down a run game.

Other than that, or lifting the NFL's ban on firearms, I'm out of ideas.

Kool-Aid (1 Out Of 5 Goblets Of Mulled Wine)
If you told me 29 minutes ago that something boiled in cinnamon would get me drunk 20 minutes ago, I'd tell you . . . where was I going with this?

Maybe it's the impending food coma, maybe it's the match-up, maybe it's because my football wood is aimed squarely at Thursday match-ups, but I'm not excited about this Sunday's game.

If the Bears win, and they should, it's against a team that can't even lose properly to a tandem of Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn.

If they don't, blech.

7-5, here we come!

Bears 28
Vikings 17

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* Looking forward to having a Menorah-shaped tomahawk thrown through my window this year!

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Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:05 AM | Permalink

Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection

On Tuesday night, ProPublica founder and executive chairman Paul Steiger received the Burton Benjamin Memorial award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Here are his remarks.

In recent days I thought a lot about the 16 previous recipients of the Burton Benjamin award, and re-read the words from this platform of some of them.

Their words are inspiring. Their deeds are awesome. I am humbled and deeply honored to be among them.

The first honoree, in 1997, was Ted Koppel of ABC, who for a significant time brought serious reporting to late-night TV with sustained high quality.

The most recent, last year, was Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian, who has the vision to be a leader in reinventing journalism for the digital age and the courage to challenge both his government and ours on the extent to which they spy on us.

Together, and with those in between, they inhabit an arc of profound change that I want to reflect on briefly tonight.

The arc actually goes back to 1981, when Michael Massing and other young writers with overseas experience founded CPJ.

American journalists were still basking in the reflected glow of All the President's Men, the Robert Redford/Dustin Hoffman movie that five years earlier had won three Academy Awards and anointed Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and by implication all reporters as rock stars with typewriters. Yes, typewriters.

Woodward's and Bernstein's reporting in the Washington Post, based partly on tips from anonymous sources, helped drive President Nixon from office. This came only a few years after the Pentagon Papers case, in which the Supreme Court denied Nixon's motion to bar the New York Times and the Post from publishing leaks of the papers, which detailed abuses during the Vietnam War.

U.S. journalists, in other words, were riding high.

What Michael and his young colleagues saw was that journalists in America had it far better than those abroad, particularly in repressive states. Americans had the protection of the First Amendment and the backing of wealthy, committed, and lawyer-stocked news organizations. In vast parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, reporters, editors, and broadcasters could be bankrupted, beaten, thrown into jail, or killed, by powerful people offended by what they wrote or aired.

As the experience of our incredibly courageous honorees tonight demonstrates, in many places around the world the life of a journalist who is determined to find and report the truth is no better today than it was 32 years ago. Reporters, editors, photographers, and publishers are still threatened, beaten, and murdered, often with impunity. The core mission of CPJ is just as critical as it ever was, in many respects more so.

What has changed is the position of us, American journalists. We are still far better off than our beleaguered cousins in danger zones abroad, of course.

But financially, I don't need to tell this group of the hammering our industry has taken in the last decade. Publications shrinking or even closing, journalists bought out or laid off, beats shrunk or eliminated.

And now, more recently, we are facing new barriers to our ability to do our jobs - denial of access and silencing of sources.

For the starkest comparison, I urge any of you who haven't already done so to read last month's report, commissioned by CPJ and written by Len Downie, former editor of the Washington Post. It lays out in chilling detail how an administration that took office promising to be the most transparent in history instead has carried out the most intrusive surveillance of reporters ever attempted.

It also has made the most concerted effort at least since the plumbers and the enemies lists of the Nixon Administration to intimidate officials in Washington from ever talking to a reporter.

Consider this: As we now know from the Snowden documents, investigators seeking to trace the source of a leak can go back and discover anyone in government who has talked by phone or e-mail with the reporter who broke the story. Match that against the list of all who had access to the leaked info and voila!

In my days editing the Wall Street Journal, I used to joke that no one in the Washington Bureau ever had an on-the-record conversation. Now I would have to wonder whether anyone was having any kind of conversation at all that wasn't a White House-sanctioned briefing.

It isn't just words. The White House has been barring news photographers from all sorts of opportunities to ply their craft. Routine meetings and activities of the president, of which they used to be able to shoot still and video images under certain constraints, now are often - not always, but often - off limits, according to the American Society of News Editors, which is protesting the action, along with other groups.

The administration has invited news organizations to pick up images handed out by the press office or from the White House website. Sort of like saying, "just print the press release," as some corporate PR people used to say to me years ago when I asked for an interview with the CEO.

I don't mean to suggest that this administration is always and everywhere implacably hostile to journalists. After its snooping into communications of the Associated Press and of a Fox News reporter was revealed, the administration agreed to certain restraints.

It ostensibly agreed not to prosecute anyone for engaging in journalism. News organizations will generally be given advance notice when the Justice Department wants access to their records, so that they can resist in court, and warrants for access to a reporter's records won't be sought unless the reporter is a target of a criminal investigation. Still, the government can waive these constraints if national security is involved.

CPJ chairman Sandra Mims Rowe noted in announcing the Downie Report last month that the founders of CPJ "did not anticipate the need to fight for the rights of U.S. journalists who work with the protection of the First Amendment." Limited resources, she said, had to be directed at countries with the greatest need. Even with declining revenues at U.S. news organizations, the principal need is still abroad.

But, she added, the time has come for CPJ to speak out against excessive government secrecy here at home. As just one supporter of CPJ, I agree. If we are going to be credible admonishing abusers of journalists abroad, we can't stand silent when it is going on at home.

One last thing. I don't want to leave the impression that I'm in despair. I'm definitely not.

A couple of billionaires, Jeff Bezos and Pierre Omidyar, have put up several hundred millions of dollars in funding to, respectively, rebuild one great old platform - the Washington Post - and erect an entirely new one.

From New York to Texas to California, and in scattered places in between, non-profit reporting teams, ProPublica happily among them, are enjoying increasing success with both their journalism and their fundraising.

And new forms of web-based reporting like Buzzfeed are both attracting young audiences and sliding towards profitability. I was at first cranky the other day when Buzzfeed stole one of our brilliant senior editors. But then I realized his new job is to recruit half a dozen reporters and start an investigations team. For society and for journalism, that is progress.

We can't rest. We need to stand up in stout opposition whenever the First Amendment is challenged at home. We need to speak out, even more vigorously than before, when journalists are abused around the world. We need to keep finding and funding more inventive ways to carry out serious reporting.

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Previously:
* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers To Self-Censor.

* 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Obama's FOIA Fail.

* Under Obama Administration, Renditions - And Secrecy Around Them - Continue.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* Recovery Redacted.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Boy's Death In Drone Strike Tests Obama's Transparency Pledge.

* Does The U.S. Pay When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

* NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

* Obama Administration Helped Kill Transparency Push On Military Aid.

* Congressional Compromise On Transparency Leaves Obama's Military Aid In Shadows.

* Six Months After Obama Promised To Divulge More On Drones, Here's What We Still Don't Know.

* One Month After Drone Report, Administration Still Fails To Explain Killings.

* Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

* Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

* Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

* The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies.

* Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

* The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

* How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

* Hearts, Minds And Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Strike Age.

* Sunlight Wins 13 Years Of Federal Contract Data.

* Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

Anthropologists "Wow" Chicago

The American Anthropological Association held its 112th Annual Meeting last week in Chicago. A record-setting 7,000 anthropologists took part in hundreds of sessions, workshops and special events. The meeting theme, Future Publics, Current Engagements, featured participants from all over the globe, representing over 60 countries.

The annual meeting also presented an opportunity to recognize a number of anthropologists who have made important contributions to the field. The major awards conferred include recognition for excellence in undergraduate teaching, an outstanding dissertation project by a minority group member, excellence in anticipatory anthropology, engagement with the media, exemplary service to the field, applied work by an emerging scholar, and significant achievements in public policy.

The 2013 AAA/Oxford University Press Teaching Award recognizes Triloki Pandey from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In his 40 years at UCSC, he has taught nearly 5,000 undergraduates, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in anthropology. Dr. Pandey received the Ph.D in Anthropology in 1967 from the University of Chicago, beginning his academic career in the Department of Anthropology at UCSC in 1973. He is regularly invited to give presentations about his work on the American Southwest, India's indigenous communities, Grande, and the intellectual history of Indian anthropology.

Karen G. Williams received the 2013-2014 AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship. This annual fellowship of $10,000 is intended to encourage members of ethnic minorities to complete doctoral degrees in anthropology, thereby increasing diversity in the discipline and promoting research on issues of concern among minority populations. Williams' dissertation, titled From Coercion to Consent?: Governing the Formerly Incarcerated in the 21st Century United States traces the day-to-day practices and strategies used to prepare people who are incarcerated for when they come home from correctional institutions.

Professor Jay Sokolovsky received the 2013 Robert B. Textor and Family Prize in Anticipatory Anthropology. Dr. Sokolovsky is a scholar whose career exemplifies an anticipatory mode of anthropological research in its broad contributions to the anthropology of aging, a nascent field he helped develop and grow over the years, organizing the field of the anthropology of aging in the United States and globally. In addition to making important intellectual contributions based on his own field work in multiple sites in the United States, Mexico, Croatia and England, Dr. Sokolovsky has spent over three decades establishing an aging research network and multidisciplinary community of practice spirit of the award and for all it stands.

The Anthropology in the Media Award recognized Kathy Reichs. The award honors "those who have raised public awareness of anthropology and have had a broad and sustained public impact at local, national and international levels." Over the last 15 years, Dr. Reichs has made significant contributions to raising public awareness of anthropology through her fiction writing, television production, and public service.

The American Anthropological Association presented the 2013 Franz Boas award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology to Louise Lamphere, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology (Emerita), University of New Mexico. Throughout her more than 45-year career, Dr. Lamphere has made significant contributions to anthropological knowledge through her studies of the Navajo, workplace life, family and kinship, U.S. immigration, and U.S. healthcare policy and to the American Anthropological Association through her vision and leadership. She is perhaps best known as a "founding mother" of feminist anthropology, influencing decades of research in anthropology and related disciplines on issues of gender inequality and knowledge production. Dr. Lamphere received the Ph.D in 1968 from Harvard University. She served on the faculty at Brown University and later the University of New Mexico, from which she retired in 2008.

The 2013 AAA/SfAA Margaret Mead Award recipient is Sera L. Young for her book Craving Earth: Understanding Pica, the Urge to Eat Clay, Starch, Ice and Chalk. Dr. Young will be presented with the award at the SfAA Spring Meeting in March 2014 in Albuquerque, NM. Dr. Young completed a Ph.D. in International Nutrition/Nutritional Anthropology at Cornell University in 2008 and a M.A. in Medical Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam in 2002. She is currently a research scientist in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University.

Finally, the AAA Committee on Public Policy recognized Nancy Scheper-Hughes for her contributions to public policy. Dr. Scheper-Hughes is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Medical Anthropology Program at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a nationally recognized expert on public health. The Anthropology in Public Policy Award was established in 2012 by the Committee on Public Policy to honor anthropologists whose work has had a significant, positive influence on the course of government decision-making and action. Dr. Scheper-Hughes' body of work, especially in the area of organ trafficking, has shaped how governments and international bodies address the issues of illegal transplantation.

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Previously: How To Nail A Dictator And Other Highlights Of The Upcoming Annual Meeting Of The American Anthropological Association.

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Also:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

November 27, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Attorneys for former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew want a judge to force three reporters working for the Chicago Sun-Times to turn over their interview records, saying their investigation may have contaminated key eyewitnesses who will testify at the nephew's upcoming manslaughter trial," the Tribune reports.

The Sun-Times reporters did more than simply interview the witnesses; they acted as pseudo-law enforcement officers by conducting photographic lineups, playing on witnesses' emotions to get information, and feeding them information," said the filing signed by Marc Martin, who along with Thomas Breen and Terence Gillespie are representing Vanecko.

The attorneys argued that eyewitness accounts to police in 2004 and 2011 that Koschman would not let the confrontation go and aggressively approached the other group "transformed into an incident of Koschman getting sucker-punched during a non-threatening verbal dispute."

"Either CPD officers are lying about what witnesses said to them, the witnesses lied to the Sun-Times, or the Sun-Times has altered or not reported the full account of what the witnesses told reporters," the attorneys wrote. "The answer to this conundrum will be a central issue at Vanecko's trial."

A few thoughts:

1. It's always noxious when someone - usually the government - attempts to subpoeana reporters' notes. We see it play out again and again and again. If the judge were to grant this motion, think about the precedent: in every case going forward in which reporters have questioned witnesses, their notebooks would almost automatically become part of the court record. Press freedoms have been eviscerated enough in this country; this is lunacy.

2. Because of that, reporters typically refuse to give up their notes, arguing that they are not arms of law enforcement and must be allowed to do their work independently in order to preserve the First Amendment. The twist in this case is that the request is coming from the defense - which accuses Sun-Times reporters of acting as arms of law enforcement (or acting as pseudo-law enforcers, which is an accusation you could lob at just about any investigative reporter and be pseudo-correct). This makes little sense given that the target of the Sun-Times' reporting is as much law enforcement as Vanecko.

3. Could a reporter influence a witness? Sure - just like their friends and family and TV shows and books and any communicant on Earth could influence someone's thinking. But journalism isn't a contaminant, it's a disinfectant. Recollections are cross-checked with other evidence, including documents and other witness statements. A molded memory doesn't stand on its own.

Does that mean I'm automatically giving the Sun-Times a free pass? No. I have no idea if any reporters there crossed ethical boundaries. But I can say their work seems to have stood up - besides having been validated by a judge, a power-friendly prosecutor and a grand jury. Besides that, those reporters have earned a benefit of the doubt that lawyers with clients don't get and Anita Alvarez (see below) lost a long time ago given her performance in office.

4. Witnesses can be placed on the stand under oath and say for themselves if they've been unduly influenced. That's the place to settle disputes about who said what. But one thing we know for sure is that witnesses did lie - to the police. (See the item Today's Worst People In Chicago - Again)

5. The accusation against Sun-Times reporters isn't new. To wit:

"[Cook County State's Attorney] Alvarez criticized the Sun-Times' reporting, saying that during interviews with Inspector General Ferguson's office, 'several of the witnesses have given sworn statements directly refuting information they purportedly gave to the Sun-Times. In fact, a series of witnesses have testified what they said to the reporters was false.'"

Not according to judge Michael Toomin, who made the decision to appoint a special prosecutor.

"Toomin - who choked up at one point - said police reports apparently were fabricated to portray Koschman as the aggressor in the drunken confrontation, contrary to sworn statements witnesses gave last year during a reinvestigation of the case by Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, prompted by a Chicago Sun-Times investigation."

Besides that, defense attorneys will likely be free to introduce those sworn statements at trial, though I'm not so sure they will be more important than what witnesses told prosecutor Dan Webb's grand jury - contributing to a report so explosive it has been sealed until after any trial occurs.

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"Vanecko's attorneys this week filed motions seeking to have the involuntary manslaughter indictment thrown out, to bar eyewitnesses from identifying Vanecko in court because photographs of him have appeared in the media and to revoke the judge's appointment of a special prosecutor.

"The only candid answer to the question of why a Special Prosecutor was appointed in this case was the Sun-Times insistence on it," the defense lawyers wrote.

I'm sure the Sun-Times is flattered, but they aren't institutionally that powerful. It was the reporting that led to Toomin's own review that led to the appointment of a special prosecutor.

"Declaring 'the system has failed' David Koschman, a Cook County judge took the rare step Friday of appointing a special prosecutor to re-examine the 2004 case of the 21-year-old from Mount Prospect who died as the result of being punched in the face by Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko, a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley," the Sun-Times reported in April 2012.

Cook County Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin said it would be an "injustice" not to bring in an outside prosecutor to review the politically charged case - including the way it was handled by the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

The judge had harsh words for police and prosecutors. He singled out their assertion that the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Vanecko, who was never charged, acted in self-defense when he hit the 5-foot-5, 140-pound Koschman, who never threw a punch.

"This was a defense conjured up by police and prosecutors," Toomin said, noting that Vanecko never spoke with police and calling it "the fiction of self-defense."

Perhaps defense lawyers would like to subpoeana Toomin's notes and put him on the stand.

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Of course I understand that Vanecko's lawyers are "only doing their job," but that doesn't mean we have to gladly accept their maneuvers. I certainly didn't when Dan Webb was on the other side of aisle.

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"I'd hate to be picked as a juror in the trial of Richard 'R.J.' Vanecko, accused of manslaughter in the 2004 death of David Koschman," Mark "Charlie" Brown writes for the Sun-Times.

"That's going to be a difficult decision."

Really? Toomin doesn't think so - and I'd be disappointed if any clear-thinking reader of the Sun-Times thought so either.

"I've just finished reading through a batch of motions filed Monday by Vanecko's defense lawyers in anticipation of the trial currently scheduled for February, and my head is swimming."

First time reading motions? Or still trying to sort out whether Rahm Emanuel ever promised us a Children's Fund?

A reporter whose head is swimming from reading motions is a reporter whose judgement I do not trust.

"I'm proud of what we've done, but I won't have trouble living with any verdict rendered by a jury of Vanecko's peers."

If you're proud of what your paper has done, how can you be okay with an acquittal? The reporting clearly shows that Vanecko dropped David Koschman with one sucker-punch and then ran away, never to cooperate with police while his friends lied to law enforcement about the whole affair. I'm sure Vanecko didn't intend to kill him, but that's why the charge is involuntary manslaughter. To me, the question rests with whether his actions were "likely to cause great bodily harm."

But Vanecko's lawyers have obviously chosen to try to fuzz up the entire incident in order to get the exact reaction from jurors that they've gotten from Brown. Juries have to be better than that, though they often aren't.

"Vanecko's lawyers want Sun-Times reporters Tim Novak, Chris Fusco and Carol Marin to be required to testify.

"There's not much sense in that. As hard as they've worked to reconstruct the events of April 25, 2004, the reporters weren't out on Division Street that night and didn't see what took place. "

Um, they wouldn't be asked about what they saw that night - or about that night at all. They'd be asked about their witness interviews.

"The defense is even arguing that the grand jury indictment of Vanecko is invalid because Webb conducted the grand jury sessions at the downtown law offices of Winston & Strawn instead of at the Cook County Criminal Courts building at 26th and California - and may have fed them lunch.

"That certainly was unusual, but I don't think the net effect was to make the grand jury any more captive of the prosecutor than is the norm."

But you considered the possibility enough to mention it with sincerity?

Mark Brown, you are Today's Most Naive Person In Chicago.

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Obama Breaks Latest Drone Transparency Pledge
Is there any pledge he's kept?

Alternate: But he welcomes the debate.

Kanye & Lupe's Oozing Wounds
In our Local Music Notebook.

The Pope's Nose Awards!
In Fantasy Fix.

The Chicago League Of Lady Arm Wrestlers
"[Featuring] the biggest, baddest, and most belligerent lady arm wrestlers decked out in over-the-top outfits, fast-talking managers, ebullient entourages and shady referees."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: No butt-flapping.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:03 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: The Week In Kanye & Lupe

1. The Week In Kanye West.

* Says he's gonna be the new Disney, the new Steve Jobs, the new Howard Hughes, the new David Stern, the new Michelangelo, the Tupac of product.

* Goes off on Sway: "You ain't spent 13 million dollars of your own money trying to empower yourself!"

* Blows the doors off Brooklyn.

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2. The Week In Lupe Fiasco.

* Ends Salt Lake City show early after a "fat white bitch" throws a tomato at him.

* Complains that "Everything I say turns political."

* Says the name of his new albm "doesn't mean anything. It's called Tetsuo & Youth, because I pulled it out of a hat. You know it was kind of just like two words I liked. So it doesn't really mean anything, you know?"

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3. Bloodshot Blowout Sale!

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4. Another 30 Minutes From Oozing Wound.

This video, in support of Retrash, made us instant fans. Now there's more:

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5. Chicago Punks Aim For The Big Time With New EP.

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6. Guitar World Exclusive On New Czar Video.

"Following an impressive debut album, Vertical Mass Grave, Chicago-based prog/sludge trio Czar have released their sophomore album, No One Is Alone If No One Is Alive, via Cracknation Records.

"The album, an expressive 44-minute slab of heavy sludge full of clean guitar tones and old-school industrial elements, is truly a worthwhile piece of music for any fan of heavy music."

Here's the video:

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7. Rebel Diaz ("Chicago Teacher") Announces Release Of Full-Length Debut.

"Peace to all! We are proud to announce the release of our debut full length album, Radical Dilemma, Wed. 11/27 in Chicago and Wed. 12/4 in NYC and worldwide!"

Video for their second single:

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8. Meet The Flatts & Sharpe Music Co. Of Rogers Park.

"Chris Bell is an economic rainmaker whose music education shop in Rogers Park has worked cultural wonders for the neighborhood. She tells now of her plan to expand in 2014 to the Norwood Park neighborhood of northwest Chicago."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:50 AM | Permalink

Meet The Chicago League Of Lady Arm Wrestlers

"[Featuring] the biggest, baddest, and most belligerent lady arm wrestlers decked out in over-the-top outfits, fast-talking managers, ebullient entourages and shady referees."


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See also:
* As featured in Penthouse in 2010.

* As featured in New City in 2011.

* Matt & Mandy's YouTube channel.

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And the movie trailer:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:35 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The 5th Annual Pope's Nose Awards!

It's that special time of year when we honor fantasy football flops, the players who by all rights should have delivered handsome returns to their fantasy owners but just couldn't seem to get it together. We're nice enough to invite them to the Thanksgiving table, but the award we put on their plates is The Pope's Nose, more or less the butt-flap of turkey. When you have ruined someone's chance at fantasy football glory, a bird's butt-flap is all you're getting.

This year's - ahem - winners:

QB

Eli Manning, NYG: His numbers - 2,760 passing yards, 14 TDs and 17 INTs - pretty much tell the full story of how bad this season has been for Manning the Younger. The thing is that Eli has always been a better real-world QB than fantasy QB, and because of that he's usually one of the final starting QBs drafted. Yet this year he has not lived up to even his typically average fantasy expectations.

RB

Trent Richardson, IND: In a year when so many RBs looked so good before the season started, there are so many options for biggest stinker at this position - Doug Martin, TAM; C.J. Spiller, BUF; Ray Rice, BAL - to name a few. Yet, Richardson is an easy choice. He went from being a top 10 overall pick in many drafts to being the centerpiece of the biggest trade of the season, a deal which should have enhanced his overall fantasy value. Yet, he's now not even the best RB on his own team. Over the last four games has averaged fewer than 10 carries, and hasn't surpassed 50 yards rushing in a game since Oct. 6. He's now a fantasy non-factor, and of all these guys, he should get first crack at the Pope's Nose.

WR

Roddy White, ATL: Tough choice here because he has missed a handful of games with an injury, but in the eight games he has suited up, he's collectively managed only 20 receptions for 209 yards and one TD (which he finally got in Week 11). ATL's offense has all kinds of problems, but White, a preseason top 10 choice at WR, should have done much better, especially considering that teammate Julio Jones went down with a season-ending injury that seemed to leave White the No. 1 offensive weapon on his team.

TE

Fred Davis, WAS: With Robert Griffin III healthy this year, Davis looked in the preseason to be at least a nice sleeper at TE, but the measly 25 yards receiving he tallied in his first two games still stand as his season total as he was quickly overtaken by rookie Jordan Reed, who himself became one of RG3's top targets. In the meantime, Davis has become a frequent healthy scratch.

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Expert Wire
* Sports Illustrated talks fantasy turkey.

* Bleacher Report has must-adds for Week 13.

* ESPN eyes consistency among fantasy defenses.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:48 AM | Permalink

One Month After Drones Report, Administration Still Fails To Explain Killings

A month has passed since Amnesty International released its report "Will I Be Next?" US Drone Strikes in Pakistan, but the Obama Administration still has not publicly acknowledged and investigated cases of potentially unlawful drone killings, including that of Mamana Bibi, a grandmother who was struck by a drone's hellfire missiles and killed while collecting vegetables in her family's fields.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Administration to disclose who is being killed and on what basis, and to ensure investigations into all credible reports of unlawful drone killings. It has also called on Congress to launch a full investigation and report any evidence of human rights violations to the public.

Thirty days after the release of Amnesty International's report, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA Steven W. Hawkins issued the following statement:

The Administration wants everyone to take it on trust that they are being transparent and that 'targeted' killings are lawful, but the reality is that people have been killed who were not fighters and were not posing an imminent threat and there's no known government investigation and no official acknowledgment. The spokespeople are referring us back to President Obama's speech, but this secrecy is totally counter to what he pledged six months ago.

Journalists have pushed the White House and the State Department to respond to the detailed evidence of unlawful killings that Amnesty International collected.

Activists mobilized and thousands signed the petition calling for independent and impartial investigations into the killings and for disclosure of who is being killed and why.

Last week, the U.S. State Department said its review of the report had "concluded," but it refused to confirm or deny the killings Amnesty International has documented or provide the civilian casualty numbers it previously said it possessed.

The State Department's reply referenced remarks President Obama made half a year ago at National Defense University. In that May 2013 speech, the president pledged to increase transparency and accountability on drone strikes. Yet with the Administration refusing to officially acknowledge specific cases of possible unlawful killings or unintended deaths, there is little indication this pledge will be kept.

Amnesty International's recommendations to the U.S. government include:

  • President Obama should disclose the facts and legal basis for the killings documented in Amnesty International's report. He should immediately commit to ensuring independent and impartial investigations into the documented killings and any other cases where there is reasonable ground to believe that drone strikes resulted in unlawful killings.
  • The Intelligence and Armed Services committees of Congress, which are charged with oversight of the CIA and Department of Defense, respectively, should promptly launch independent and impartial investigations into the killings documented in Amnesty International's report, and all cases where there is reasonable ground to believe that drone strikes resulted in unlawful killings.
  • The U.S. government should ensure that victims of unlawful drone strikes, including family members of victims of unlawful killings, have effective access to remedies, including reparation for harm suffered. Where there is sufficient admissible evidence, the U.S. should bring those responsible to justice in public and fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.
  • The U.S. government should end its practice of secrecy and disclose key factual and legal information about the drone program, including all available information on the number and identity of people killed or injured from drone strikes in Pakistan.

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    Previously:
    * Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

    * Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

    * Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

    * Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

    * The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies.

    * Everything You Wanted To Know About Drones But Were Afraid To Ask.

    * Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

    * The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

    * How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

    * Hearts, Minds And Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Strike Age.

    * Boy's Death In Drone Strike Tests Obama's Transparency Pledge.

    * Does The U.S. Pay Families When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

    * Confirmed: Obama's Drone War Is Illegal And Immoral.

    * Six Months After Obama Promised To Divulge More On Drones, Here's What We Still Don't Know.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

    November 26, 2013

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    "Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner and lieutenant governor candidate Evelyn Sanguinetti filed 10,000 signatures with their nominating petitions," his campaign announced Monday.

    That's 1,111 PHO - per homes owned.

    Or .00000018867925 PDE = per dollars earned.

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    From the Trib:

    "Bruce has never let his success change him," declares the campaign's official bio. "He still drives a 20-year-old camper van, wears an $18 watch, and stays in the cheapest hotel room he can find when he's on the road."

    That is, when he's in a state where he doesn't own a penthouse, a luxury high-rise, a waterfront villa, a ski resort condo or a ranch.

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    There's actually nothing wrong with being super wealthy - depending on how you got that way. It's usually not by helping others. Moral judgements about how one spends money is fair game too. For example, trying to buy a governorship in one's first run for public office.

    "On Monday, Rauner's campaign reported he gave his campaign $500,000 on Nov. 18, an additional $500,000 contribution a week earlier and a $249,000 donation in March - nearly $1.3 million so far from a candidate who has said he is willing to spend what it takes to win," the Tribune reports.

    I'd rather he buy a more expensive watch.

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    "Asked to name [on his Statement of Economic Interest] any company doing business in the state in which his ownership interest is more than $5,000 or from which he received a dividend of more than $1,200 last year, Rauner presented a three-page list."

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    Rauner says he "can't be bought" by special interests. That's because he's bought them!

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    Rauner - and his money - deserve scrutiny and these particular stories are fine pieces of reporting, but frankly the media is a bit obsessed with him; they're disproportionately covering the guy with the most money instead of the guy leading the polls.

    "State Sen. Bill Brady continues to maintain his lead over the rest of the pack, according to the poll of 1,191 likely GOP voters," Rich Miller reports.

    "Brady scored 25 percent, to Treasurer Dan Rutherford's 18 percent and state Sen. Kirk Dillard's 14 percent."

    Rauner is mired in last place with 11 percent - despite spending prodigious amounts of money already.

    That's right - the dominant media figure in the Republican primary is not only in last place, he's been there from day one.

    And he's already spent more money than I imagine - and someone correct me if I'm wrong - the rest of the candidates will spend on their whole campaigns.

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    The Beachwood Bookmaking Bureau, which has a far better track record than anyone else in the city, state and nation, has placed Rauner last from the get-go; he only recently attained a double-digit chance of winning the primary in our estimation, and that's because of his opponents' stumbles, not anything he did.

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    Seemingly related:

    "A new report finds 53% of financial services executives say that adhering to ethical standards inhibits career progression at their firm. A former Wall Street trader describes why."

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    And:

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    We Are Illinois

    Yes, we still have loyalty oaths - note the item after Statement of Candidacy.

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    Download one for yourself!

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    The oath is "optional" - just like saying the Pledge of Allegiance in class and standing for the national anthem at a ballgame and conceding to a prayer before a public meeting.

    Or wearing a pin - flag or otherwise.

    Popular Recipe
    "Charlie Trotter was Chicago's first celebrity chef, a prodigiously talented cook and gregarious personality who almost single-handedly raised Chicago's dining reputation from a steak-and-potatoes town to a serious restaurant city," Phil Vettel writes for the Tribune.

    Er, I mean Jean Banchet.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: Swear on us.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    November 25, 2013

    Could You Be Serving Up A Lawsuit With That Turkey Dinner?

    As millions of Americans host and attend Thanksgiving dinners across the street or across the country, many may be unaware of the risks. According to Trusted Choice and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big "I") party hosts need to understand their responsibilities when inviting others into their homes and serving food and drinks.

    "All hosts should be aware that if someone drives drunk or becomes sick after consuming food at a holiday party, the host could actually be liable," says Robert A. Rusbuldt, Big "I" president & CEO. "In fact, a casserole could bring just as many risks as a cocktail. Before hosting a party this holiday season, you may want to consult with a Trusted Choice independent insurance agent and ask questions."

    A 2012 survey by Trusted Choice and IIABA found that almost three-fourths of homeowners had served food in their home that was prepared by someone other than themselves. That means more than 111 million homeowners in the United States have put themselves at risk for a lawsuit by just feeding their guests.

    The Big "I" and Trusted Choice provide the following tips for holiday hosts and guests.

    Watch What You Eat And Feed Others: Even if food was prepared outside your home by a caterer, another guest, a local deli or the neighborhood pizza joint, YOU could be held liable if someone becomes ill from consuming it on your property. Make sure that you check food and don't put anything out that you suspect may be undercooked, spoiled or contaminated. Use only reputable food purveyors. Follow proper food-handling, heating/cooling and storage recommendations. When in doubt, throw it out.

    Mix Up The Activities, Not Just The Cocktails: If the party centers on drinking, guests will likely drink more. Schedule entertainment or activities that do not involve alcohol. Provide safe filling food for guests and alternative non-alcoholic beverages. Know who the designated drivers are ahead of time.

    Party Elsewhere: Host your party at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license, rather in a home or office to decrease your liability.

    Call A Cab, Get A Room Or Have A Slumber Party: Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who cannot or should not drive home.

    Just Say No: Do not serve guests who are visibly intoxicated. Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end. Stay alert and always remember your responsibilities as a host. You might also consider hiring an off-duty police officer or professional bouncer to discreetly monitor guests' sobriety or handle any alcohol-related problems as guests leave.

    Do Your Homework: When hosting a holiday party, individuals should look to the liability portion of their homeowners or renters insurance policy to protect them if they are sued and found liable for an accident involving a guest who drank or got sick after consuming food at their home. Consumers should regularly review their liability coverage limits to ensure they are adequately covered should an accident or illness occur.

    Know Your State Laws And Statutes: In many states, party hosts can be held liable if a guest is involved in an alcohol-related accident. Many courts have found hosts liable for damages their party guests cause as a result of consuming alcohol and then driving motor vehicles. Many states have also enacted statutes that can be interpreted as mandating non-commercial social host liability. So, if a guest or third party is injured in an accident that is related to alcohol consumption and the drinking can be linked to you, you could be held responsible for the payment of medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost time from work and - in the worst case - claims for wrongful death resulting in huge monetary settlements.

    Consider An Umbrella Policy: While holiday partygoers and hosts alike should act responsibly and know their limits, consumers need to acknowledge that most risks cannot be entirely eliminated. But planning ahead and learning about what's involved in hosting a reception is the best defense. Purchasing a personal "umbrella" liability policy - providing $1 million or more in additional coverage over the limit of a standard homeowners or renters policy - may be a prudent move for the frequent party host.

    "Thanksgiving dinner or even a neighborhood holiday potluck could have disastrous results for the host if someone is stricken with food-poisoning," says Madelyn Flannagan, Big "I" vice president for education and research. "Whether the food served came from your kitchen, a five-star caterer or a pizza delivery truck, if you serve it, you could be liable if anyone gets sick."

    The survey was conducted for Trusted Choice via telephone by International Communications Research (ICR), an independent research company in Media, Pa. Interviews of a nationally representative sample of 760 homeowners were conducted in November and December 2012.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:33 PM | Permalink

    The [Monday] Papers

    Um, if the surgery was successful, why is Derrick Rose out for the year?

    The worst-case scenario was a four-month rehab. That leaves the month of April and the playoffs.

    My guess is that the Bulls are playing it this way to avoid the drama of a possible Rose return before or during the playoffs that we witnessed last year.

    But he'll be playing a summer tour for Adidas in no time.

    *

    "According to a source in Rose's camp, indefinitely could last the season," the monstrous Joe Cowley reported over the weekend.

    "Derrick is going to do what's best for him long-term, no matter how long that takes,' the source said. 'If it's the year, it's the year."

    The source was not identified as Reggie Rose.

    Children's Fund Follies
    Here's Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown speaking about Rahm Emanuel's non-existent Children's Fund on last Friday's Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review:

    "I don't want to jump to the mayor's defense on this, but he never said there was going to be a special line item and a specific fund . . . he's been very transparent about it."

    THAT'S JUST NOT TRUE.

    "I promised that the revenue from new speed camera enforcement in children's safety zones would go to keeping our children safe, and this budget does exactly that," Emanuel said as he presented his spending plan last month. "We will be creating a Children's Fund to ensure that this . . . new money is dedicated to keeping our kids learning and safe."

    We will be creating a Children's Fund.

    Moderator Eddie Arruza pushed back a little but Brown was never corrected.

    "He said 'children's safety,' Laura Washington said.

    NO! He said the money was going into a dedicated Children's Fund. Instead, it is going into the general fund to be spent any way Rahm pleases.

    Occasional Tribune Op-Ed contributor and former longtime urban affairs reporter John McCarron said, "If there ever was a honeymoon between Emanuel and the press, it's over."

    Not on this show it isn't!

    *

    Earlier in the segment, Brown described the media's handling of CTA president Forrest Claypool: "We've definitely given him a pass."

    Yes. Yes you have. Stop it. Even if someone friendly to the media doesn't like it.

    *

    I have a slightly different view of "objectivity" than Jeremy Scahill, whom I admire greatly, but I agree wholeheartedly with his sad observation that most mainstream journalists have "a default position that the State is telling the truth and those in power are to be believed."

    I always thought the default position of journalists was supposed to be the exact opposite.

    Scahill reports on grave global matters far more important than the Ventra card, but the same dynamic plays out all across the country, where journalists give those with power "passes" and "honeymoons" and defend them when caught in the baldest lies. It's easy to fix - just stop doing it! But it takes overhauling a mindset and professional culture that seems largely immune to the critical thought it would take to change.

    Obama Library Follies
    What's next, Navy Pier?

    It's All Relative
    "A Yale University political science student from a Chicago suburb says he's still in a "state of shock" after being named one of 32 Americans selected as a 2014 Rhodes Scholar," AP reports.

    "Vinay Nayak spoke in a telephone interview Sunday, shortly after the winners were announced.

    "The 21-year-old from Oak Park worked on President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign and interned at the White House this past summer."

    Oh, and his father is going to prison soon.

    SportsMonday: Bush Whacked
    Just because you want him to be a short-yardage specialist doesn't mean he is a short-yardage specialist.

    *

    A lot of sports pundits excoriating the Bears defense like to say that injuries are no excuse for a terrible performance, and usually I would agree. But these are the same people who excused several editions of the Cubs, for example, based on injuries when it was far less warranted. In the Bears' case, the defense have more starters out (5) than playing. And in some cases, we're not just seeing the backups but the backups' backups. In this way the Bears defense is like recent Cubs teams: half-filled with minor leaguers.

    And the defense did tighten up in the middle of the game on Sunday while the Bears got themselves back into that game. I just don't understand Marc Trestman's insistence on repeatedly using Michael Bush in the end zone instead of Matt Forte.

    "It's taking us too long to score," Josh McCown said after the game.

    And it's killing them.

    Chicago's Baby-Making
    Who in our city is giving birth? We've got the data.

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock
    Yet again, just tremendous.

    Featuring: The Mowgli's, Cults, Zoe, Alestorm, The Avett Brothers, Black Uhuru, Agrimonia, Sky Ferriera, Capital Cities, Crown The Empire, Alesso, Paramore, Cat Power, August Burns Red, and David Cook.

    Kill Fee
    Never underestimate the determination of a small group of Chicago moms!

    Hint: Yes
    Could You Be Serving Up A Lawsuit With That Turkey Dinner?

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: Turkey lurkey.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:38 AM | Permalink

    Kill Fee

    "Investigative journalist Christina Thomas and the other stay-at-home mommies she has met in Hamlin Park have put-on-hold careers. They are jarred out of their mind-numbing boredom by something dangerously amiss in their upscale Chicago suburb.

    "When an odd but avuncular stay-at-home dad, a houseful of shadowy men, a creepy dentist with an eye for young busty strippers, and a secretive Israeli family move into her neighborhood, Tina's reporter-radar kicks in. Determined to uncover the breaking story that will reboot her career and spare her the monotony of writing society-page fluff pieces, she launches an investigation worthy of her Washington Post glory days. What she discovers, with a little help from her friends, will blow your mind!"


    -

    "Desperate Housewives meets Charlie's Angels in this action-packed mystery thriller by Wally Duff. Kill Fee, the first novel in the Hamlin Park Irregulars series, has more twists, turns, and thrill rides than the real housewives of Hamlin Park have bling, boob jobs, and Botox.

    "Wally Duff is a professional nose picker (E.N.T. Doctor), does magic tricks for his grandchildren, and writes books, not necessarily in that order. He and his wife, Mindy, have three grown children and three grandchildren, and live with their Bichon Frise puppy, Bentley, in Omaha, Nebraska."

    *

    Kill Fee was a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest.

    -

    See also:
    * The Kill Fee website.

    * The Short Story That Turned Into A Book.

    * Videomaker Richard Krevolin's YouTube page.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:09 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday: Bush Whacked

    Hey Bears brass, there is one thing you could do today that would absolutely energize everyone connected with the defense. And after Sunday's 42-21 loss to the Rams, it couldn't be clearer that something must be done.

    You could move Shea McClellin back to linebacker - at least some of the time.

    He is overmatched at defensive end. It is painfully obvious. The Rams repeatedly ran right at him to start the game and the result was a series of big plays. And the team has depth at end, what with David Bass having stepped up last game and with Corey Wootten sure to move back to his best position on the end of the line if the Bears can ever keep someone healthy at tackle for more than a game or two.

    On the other hand, it is hard to imagine the Bears could be worse at linebacker. The Rams sent mediocre back Zac Stacy (12 carries, 87 yards) slamming through the Bear line for much of the first half. When Stacy left the game with a possible concussion, the Rams went to backup backup Benny Cunningham, and all he did was amass 109 yards on only 13 carries.

    All totaled, the Bears gave up a whopping 258 yards on the ground.

    McClellin played 3-4 linebacker back at Boise State but Bears general manager Phil Emery saw something during the pre-draft process in 2012 that led him to believe McClellin could transition into a speedy defensive end. Of course it would be better if the Bears could switch McClellin back to his best position during an off-season but they are in the midst of a season that can still be salvaged. They have as good an offense as we've seen around these parts in a long time and if they can put together a defense that is just a bit better than it is now, they can go on an end-of-season run.

    Overall, the Bear defense had too many injuries to give the overall team a chance to compete against the Rams. But rash of injuries or not, McClellin is playing out of positon. Stand him up at the end of the line outside of a defensive end or even bring him inside behind the line every once in a while.

    As for the offense, well, I remember Bear running back Michael Bush 1.0. That version ran with a purpose last season. He made people miss and did a great job carrying the ball in tight quarters. What happened to that guy? Because he is long, long gone.

    I cannot remember a worse pair of goal-line runs than the ones Bush busted out after a pair of pass interference calls - both on rookie cornerback Brandon McGee - in the end zone twice gave the Bears first-and-goal on the one twice at the end of their first drive of the fourth quarter. The first time Bush plowed up the middle for no gain. The second time Bush had a blocker ahead of him who was essentially diving into the end zone, Bush decided to cut outside. If he had followed the blocker, he would have fallen into six points. Instead he went sideways and managed to lose two yards.

    On the next play, Josh McCown completed a touchdown pass to Earl Bennett that was called back because of a Jermon Bushrod hold. It was the second Bears touchdown called back in the drive, which began with Devin Hester returning a punt 62 yards for a score that was nullified because of a Craig Steltz hold.

    Now from the 13, it looked like the Bears scored for a third time on a McCown pass to Matt Forte, but the replay official reversed the call, saying Forte failed to break the plane of the goal line. So back to the 1.

    This time McCown lined up in the shotgun and was sacked at the 10. Fortunately, an incompetent referee called a ridiculous "roughing the passer" on what looked like a textbook hit and the Bears where back to first-and-goal from the 1. Again they went to Bush! He slammed into the line behind right guard for no gain. And then they went to Bush again! This time, off right tackle, Bush finally knocked it in.

    Twitter went wild.

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    All Marc Trestman would say in his post-game press conference was that "Bush did a heckuva job" - as a blocker.

    -

    If watching Bush in that sequence seemed like a severe case of deja vu, it was foreshadowed in the third quarter when the Bears first found themselves on the St. Louis 1. In this case, it was fourth down and Trestman, as is his wont, decided to go for it. That wasn't the problem. The problem was the play call.

    Was there any Bear fan out there who saw that power formation with - you guessed it - Michael Bush lined up deep in the back field who was confident the team was going to score?

    In addition to Bush's difficulties running, there was also the fact that the play called for Martellus Bennett to lead the way from a blocking back position. Bennett is a lot of things but he is not a stellar blocker. And sure enough, he simply dove into the line instead of finding the linebacker who was slipping through into the backfield. Jo-Lonn Dunbar was untouched and took Bush down for a four-yard loss.

    Trestman said after the game that he made the decision to go for it because the game was a track meet and three points wouldn't mean much in the long run. He figured his team would be in three-point range again - quickly, if the defense made a stop (and it had started to shore itself up a bit in the previous few series'). And this part he didn't say but was clearly presumed: You don't always get chances from the 1.

    But why oh why oh why Michael Bush? Just because you want him to be a short-yardage specialist doesn't mean he is a short-yardage specialist.

    Meanwhile, Matt Forte had a dazzling first half, making yards out of nothing will Payton-like elusivity, but only got six carries in the second half.

    Learn, dammit! Learn!

    -

    See also:
    * Biggs: Another Bears Foe Sticks To Ground, Pounds Away.

    * Mayer: Bears Plagued By Penalties For Second Straight Week.

    * Gruen: Forte Goes Over 100 Yards, But Haunted By Fumble.

    * Hoge: Sloppiness Again A Problem For Bears.

    * Rams 101: Rams Resurgence A Reflection Of Jeff Fisher.

    -

    Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. The Mowgli's at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.


    -

    2. Cults at the Metro on Saturday night.

    -

    3. Zoe at the Concord on Friday night.

    -

    4. Alestorm at Reggies on Friday night.

    -

    5. The Avett Brothers at the UIC Pavilion on Friday night.

    -

    6. Black Uhuru at the Mayne Stage on Saturday night.

    -

    7. Agrimonia at the Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

    -

    8. Sky Ferreira at the Vic on Saturday night.

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    9. Capital Cities at the Aragon on Friday night.

    -

    10. Crown The Empire at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.

    -

    11. Alesso at the Aragon on Saturday night.

    -

    12. Paramore at the UIC Pavilion on Sunday night.

    -

    13. Cat Power at the Old Town School on Thursday night.

    -

    14. August Burns Red at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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    15. David Cook at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    Chicago's Baby-Making

    Ever since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its study on fertility in September, there has been much discussion about American birth rates by the mainstream (and not so mainstream) media.

    Depending on one's political views and preferred media outlets, the interpretation of the results and corresponding opinions vary: While CNN reported that the rate is a record low, the Huffington Post and the New York Times stressed that the rate is stabilizing.

    USA Today took the news with characterisic optimism; the Washington Times and WND (formerly World Net Daily) expressed concern about a future of fewer American babies leading to fewer American workers.

    In any case, the chief takeaway from the CDC report is that fewer women are having children and the downward trend has been going on for the past several years. This trend includes a substantial decrease in teenage pregnancy and the rise of mothers in their 30s and 40s.

    Is this significant? Absolutely.

    In Chicago, 55.3 out of every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 50 told the American Community Survey between 2007 and 2011 that they had given birth in the previous 12 months.

    While women of all ages are generally distributed evenly throughout Chicago's neighborhoods, there is a definite geographical pattern when it comes to women giving birth.

    The data shows a lower birth rate along the lake and a higher birth rate in pockets of neighborhoods such as West Ridge, Hermosa, Archer Heights, Greater Grand Crossing, Pullman, South Chicago and West Englewood.

    The data also gives us a glimpse of the young gentrifying crowd having babies in the northern part of the Near West Side, otherwise known as the West Loop, and the northern part of Logan Square.

    Figure 1.jpg(ENLARGE)

    *

    A more distinct pattern emerges when we isolate the rate of birth among women between the ages of 20 and 34, the most fertile age group (86.5 per 1,000 women in this age group in Chicago) and therefore the most influential group in population change.

    Women in this age group living in affluent neighborhoods are less likely to have children than in years past and have lower birth rates than their counterparts in lower socioeconomic areas, creating a large circle of void centered near the North Side by the lake surrounded by higher rates of birth in North Park, Belmont Cragin, the western part of Humboldt Park, West Garfield Park, South Lawndale, New City, Calumet Heights and the East Side.

    Figure 2.jpg(ENLARGE)

    *

    Almost a mirror image is formed when we look at birth rates by older (35-50) women in affluent North Side neighborhoods along the lake. The most obvious explanation for this is the postponement of having children among mostly young professional women.

    Figure 3.jpg(ENLARGE)

    *

    When we sort by education, we see similar mirrored images.

    Figure 4.jpg(ENLARGE)

    Figure 5.jpg(ENLARGE)

    *

    This is consistent with the national trend; as the educational level of women and subsequent participation of in the workforce increases, the average age for having a first child increased from 22.7 in 1980 to over 25 throughout the 2000s.

    And, of course, women are not just postponing children, but going childless in record numbers.

    The varying rates of birth by socioeconomic status and age are hardly surprising. But the long-term impacts and consequences of this variation are considerable.

    For example, affluent parents are more likely to be mobile in order to accommodate the educational needs of their children. Real estate values are heavily influenced by school attendance boundaries in the city and quality of schools is one of the primary motivations for moving to the suburbs.

    While these decisions are personal, the aggregate impact is that it becomes incredibly challenging for planners and policy-makers to anticipate and project needs and school enrollment simply based on the number of births. Such a challenge extends to various types of government services from public health to park districts.

    Any large fluctuation in population is bound to create a problem: Too many people often leads to a greater degree of inequality, slow economic growth or even famine; too few people creates large economic burdens for individuals.

    Many industrialized nations around the world such as Spain, Italy, France and Japan have had problems with low birth rates for decades. China's one-child only policy has created a large elderly population that doesn't have enough young workers to support them. In fact, this policy effort to control overpopulation combined with cultural preference for boys in China is leading to the strange specter of importing women from other countries.

    Even at a lower rate than in previous decades, it bodes well for the future that the U.S. isn't experiencing the same problems as other countries. However, if the disparities in births found in Chicago are any indication, the belief and expectation that every new generation will be better off economically than the previous one will be true for fewer and fewer.

    Those at the bottom half of income distribution in the U.S. - those having the most babies - seldom escape their economic station.

    This means there are a vast number of children being born in the outer ring of Chicago who are likely to remain in the lower reaches of the income ladder. Without greater support in their educational opportunities, updated housing stocks, and more efficient public transit across the entire city, they will be locked into place even as they become more populous - and the affluent less so.

    -

    Kiljoong Kim is the Beachwood's sociologist-in-residence. He recently earned his Ph.D at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He welcomes your comments. Read more in the Who We Are archives.

    -

    1. From Bill Schuele:

    I appreciate Dr. Kim's statistical analysis of birth rates in the Chicago area. One statistic does not necessarily portend the future, but it does add information that with other information makes me think of a future of ladies and lords living in fortified castles surrounded by the restless masses.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

    November 23, 2013

    The Weekend Desk Report

    Natasha Julius is away this weekend on a mission of national import, so I'm filling in. One clue: the first, fifth and seventh letters to her name. We hope she returns soon.

    DRose By Any Other Name Is Jay Cutler
    Bulls former star and standardized test activist Derrick Rose will have an MRI on Saturday while the rest of the city will be given oxygen. At least that will distract the whiners from being reminded they live in Chicago.

    Good Enough For Government Vendor Work
    Ventra Says It's 'On Track.'

    No pun intended, other restrictions may apply.

    Shot Across The Bow
    Madigan Warns Of Fake 'Charities.'

    Red Flag: Excessive promises about children.

    Kid Stuff
    The Chicago Toy & Game Fair is this weekend at Navy Pier's Festival Hall. Here's what we're excited to check out:

    • Parker Brothers to introduce Chicago City Council game with 3D-printed rubber stamps and non-stain ink that doesn't leave fingerprints.
    • The Chicago version of Monopoly's new Chance card: You're mentally ill, go directly to Cook County Jail.
    • The Ventra 4 Kids card: Teach kids what it's like to be an adult; every time they tap, money is deducted from their allowance - sometimes twice!
    • The new Chicago Chess Board: All the black squares are on side and the white squares on the other. There is only one king and moves aren't allowed without his permission. There are nearly 3 million pawns, but for practicality's sake they are represented by 50 bishops. Wait, that's not new at all.

    Enjoy!

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    The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Fun, games.

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    The College Football Report: Who Needs A Palate Cleanser?

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    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Local Blackout Drunk.

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    The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: Hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot pay tribute to Lou Reed and review the new record from M.I.A.

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    The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

    Elephant and Worm TV

    11-14-elephantandworm.jpg

    This Emmy-nominated program hosted by the Elephant and Worm Educational Theater Company brings stories told by kids to life.

    Saturday at 12 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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    The Feminine Mystique at 50

    Newberry Library and the Chicago Area Women's History Council celebrate the 50th anniversary of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique with "The Feminine Mystique at 50: Reflecting On The Book That Inspired, Angered And Forever Changed America."

    Historians Reflect On The Feminine Mystique

    11-18-HistoriansReact.jpg

    Scholars including Elizabeth Fraterrigo of Loyola University examine The Feminine Mystique's historical impact on the role of women and American society.

    Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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    A Presentation Of The Norton Critical Edition Of The Feminine Mystique

    11-18-Norton.jpg

    Kirsten Fermaglich and Lisa Fine, editors of the Norton Critical Edition of The Feminine Mystique, share the insights they learned while preparing Norton's version of the seminal work.

    Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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    Activists Reflect On The Feminine Mystique

    11-18-ActivistsReact.jpg

    Moderator Mary Ann Johnson of the Chicago Area Women's Council and a roundtable of activists connect the influence of The Feminine Mystique with current feminism and women's rights movements.

    Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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    Groundswell: Challenging the U.S. War on Drugs

    11-14-warondrugs.jpg

    Margot Worfolk of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, joins this examination of the impact of the U.S. drug war on countries of the Americas and communities in the U.S.

    Sunday at 2 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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    The Journey Towards Marriage Equality in Illinois

    11-18-Loyola-sm.jpg

    Students from UIC's School of Communication discuss the recent passage of same-sex marriage legislation in Illinois on a live, interactive show.

    Monday at 4 p.m. on CAN TV21 and at cantv.org/live.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:47 AM | Permalink

    November 22, 2013

    The [Friday] Papers

    "In the latest Ventra snafu, CTA customers are rolling through turnstiles despite having negative balances on their Ventra cards," the Sun-Times reports.

    You know, I like the way the Sun-Times's morning newsletter put it better:

    "We congratulate Ventra on the nearly 23 hours it didn't have a scandal. Alas, the streak is broken. This meltdown involves the head of the CTA rail union showing reporters a photo of a negative balance of $272.50."

    More like that, please.

    *

    Also from this morning's S-T newsletter:

    "The Cubs continue to endear themselves to their petulant neighbors. Yesterday, the city granted the club an extra 10 feet of street and sidewalk and gave it permission to sell advertising on a branding arch that'll extend over Clark Street."

    *

    And:

    "You know what we don't have enough of? McDonald's. And we never will. At least not till CEO Don Thompson's dead. So says Don Thompson. Don Thompson also says that the world, desperate for more Big Macs, will receive 1,600 new locations at which to buy them next year."

    -

    Chicago Can't Handle The Truth
    "In our market you can't do [a broadcast] straight," Jerry Reinsdorf says. "It's not like New York."

    Paging Jon Stewart.

    *

    Now, by "our market," does Reinsdorf mean "the White Sox market," in which case he's saying White Sox fans are just too primitive and tribal to accept a fair, truth-telling broadcast? Or does he mean "the Chicago market," in which case he's saying that, unlike New York, we're insecure, Second City Syndrome flyover hicks who can't accept a fair, truth-telling broadcast?

    Either way, he's insulting a lot of people.

    Doprah Spinfrey
    Barack Obama awarded Oprah Winfrey the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday, saying. "In more than 4,500 episodes of her show, her message was always, 'You can.'"

    Here are some other messages Oprah has sent during her career that Obama might have missed.

    Reporting Malpractice
    "The biggest goal is to overcome really poor reporting that focuses on fleeting increases to crime and doesn't look at long-term causes," Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project tells The Chicago Bureau.

    "That's really the need we're trying to fulfill, which is give communities and journalists and policy makers access to data that is in context and that shows a pattern, rather than the monthly comparisons or the year-to-year comparisons that, depending on a whole slew of other factors, are completely invalid.

    "Reporters completely overstated the homicide issue, mainly because the main driver for the 2012 increase in homicides was the warm winter we had. And while that was mentioned in the reporting, it was (buried). It would never be the overall crux of the story, even though everybody knows it and all the criminologists know it.

    "Then in February, there were these really low numbers of homicides, and there was all this cheering about how great the superintendent was doing, how the Chicago Police Department was turning it around, when in reality we just had a very cold February."

    Truth.

    Spamalot
    "Somehow we endured the murders of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley without 'losing our innocence.'" - Tim Willette

    It Took A Lawsuit
    Sunlight Foundation Wins 13 Years Of Federal Contract Data.

    Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent
    Live/work.

    The Week In Chicago Rock
    Just tremendous. Please sample these bands and artists. I promise you won't regret it.

    Featuring: The Right Now, Temples, The Virus, Gary Clark Jr., Dave Davies, The Travelin' McCourys, MGMT, Obituary, The Coldies, MAMA, Young the Giant, In This Moment, and Now, Now.

    The College Football Report
    Who Needs A Palate Cleanser?

    Rebel Access TV Is In Your Face
    Raw, Fast and Super Exciting.

    Local Book Notes
    Chicago Book Expo & The Uptown Factor.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: By a factor of one.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:06 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report: Who Needs A Palate Cleanser?

    What is the right reaction to the emerging Jameis Winston allegations?

    College football fans, sports fans with passing interest, and anyone who scans the USA Today sports section has been inundated by a barrage of breaking news about the story this week.

    Winston, the leading Heisman Trophy candidate and quarterback for undefeated Florida State (#2), faces allegations of sexual assault stemming from an incident last year.

    In December 2012, a woman accused Winston of assault after an encounter at an off-campus apartment but stopped cooperating with authorities in February after reportedly being warned by a Tallahassee police detective that she should "think long and hard before proceeding" because Tallahassee is a "big football town" and "she will be raked over the coals." (All of which is true, but sounds far more like intimidation than thoughtful advice.)

    The case remained closed until last week, when officials released the police report in response to media requests for public records, reigniting the controversy.

    Florida attorney general Willie Meggs reacted by reopening the case, but could not explain why his office never conducted a review of the investigation (a standard procedure for sexual assault cases) for probable cause in the first place.

    (As an aside, someone from the Tallahassee.com editorial desk should change that headline.)

    Florida law enforcement confirmed this week that the agency had conducted a DNA test that linked Winston to the woman, based on a sample taken in December. But the results of the test were not public. Someone in the chain of communication, from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to the Tallahassee Police Department and State Attorney's Office, leaked the information.

    Winston's attorney did not express surprise at the results, pointing out that the player voluntarily cooperated and expected a match, but took the opportunity to turn the attention onto the leak: "The only thing we are surprised by is it was leaked out by law enforcement. The question the people should ask is, why is it being leaked? For what purpose?"

    The purpose is unclear, but it's unlikely the source was motivated by a desire to see justice done. We aren't so jaded to suggest that a disgruntled Miami Hurricanes or Florida Gators fan somewhere within the Tallahassee PD walked out of the office with a copy, but posters on internet message boards won't exercise the same restraint.

    Winston will continue to play unless officials bring charges, in which case FSU would indefinitely suspend him from the team. He denies the allegations and has not been interviewed by police or prosecutors. Renewing an investigation after an 11-month lag means we will wait weeks before officials reach a conclusion.

    Meanwhile, everyone suffers, especially the woman involved, as evidenced by a statement from her family's attorney: "She's a good girl, and this is a nightmare. She was trying to move on with her life, and there was no benefit to her." And yes, a sympathetic reaction to those words aligns with an assumption (i.e., reality) that the woman is not seeking retribution or any benefit from the case reopening.

    The ACC championship game, which will match Florida State against the to-be-determined winner of the Coastal division, takes place on Saturday, December 7 immediately followed by the BCS selections on Sunday.

    (Speaking of jaded: if you have money on Duke to win the ACC championship, you should be rooting for an arrest. The Blue Devils entered the season +12000 to win the conference, meaning a $100 wager nets $12,000. Duke currently leads the Coastal at 4-2 with games against 2-5 Wake Forest and 4-3 North Carolina remaining.)

    If we had to put an over/under on resolution, to the question of probable cause not the entire case, we would pick Friday, December 20. The bowl season starts with four games, including the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, on December 21 and officials will face increasing pressure to reach a decision as the postseason approaches.

    We don't want to think that the fix is in but disbelieving the allegations entirely and ignoring the strong-arm tactics of the local police seems horribly naive.

    We can say that all parties involved, except perhaps the Tallahassee PD and the State Attorney, deserve more careful treatment than ESPN exhibited on Thursday, when the network devoted an inordinate amount of airtime analyzing the impact of the allegations on Florida State's BCS chances and Winston's Heisman campaign.

    Who needs a palate cleanser? How about:

    • Central Florida RB William Stanback leveling a Rutgers defender on Thursday night.
    • The eerie similarity between Ohio State recruit Chad Mavety and OSU mascot Brutus the Buckeye?
    • The return of the Always-Give-The-Points-Against-The-Kentucky-Wildcats Strategy!
    • Auburn offering the school's basketball arena for a free viewing party of the upcoming Iron Bowl game against Alabama.
    • UAB asking fans to sit on one side of the field (the backdrop-for-the-broadcast-of-the-game-on-TV side) to create the appearance of a packed stadium.
    • Former college coach Rick Neuheisel's bizarre rendition of Harry Belafonte's "Day O" (the "Banana Boat Song") as "Ed O" in honor of interim - and aspiring permanent - head coach Ed Orgeron of USC, who is enjoying an unlikely 5-1 record after taking over for the Lane Kiffin.

    If your palate still isn't sufficiently cleansed, here is the "Banana Boat Song" as performed by Belafonte and, naturally, the Muppets.

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    Match-Ups of the Week
    Four games will command attention on Saturday: #4 Baylor vs. #10 Oklahoma State; #5 Missouri vs. #24 Ole Miss; #12 Texas A&M vs. #22 LSU, and; #17 Arizona State vs. #14 UCLA, but we find the match-up between #19 Wisconsin and #25 Minnesota especially intriguing. Consider:

    • Minnesota operates a deliberate, ball-control offense, averaging almost 31 seconds per play (second to last in the FBS), which will run up against Wisconsin's smothering (#5 in FBS) defense.
    • The Gophers still "control their own destiny" (as they say) for reaching the - and yes, we understand how improbable this sounds - Big Ten championship game.
    • With a win over Wisconsin on Saturday, along with a Michigan State loss to Northwestern, and a final win by Minnesota over the Spartans to close the season next weekend, UMinn could finish 6-2 in the Legends Division with a head-to-head tiebreaker over MSU for a berth in the championship against (probably) #3 Ohio State.
    • The Gophers haven't reached a New Year's Day bowl since 1962 and, while currently projected to play in the Texas Bowl on December 27, a win should get it done. (In case you're confused, the Texas Bowl is played in Texas, not be confused with another Big Ten tie-in bowl, the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which is played in Dallas.)
    • The annual winner of the longest-running rivalry in the FBS takes home Paul Bunyan's Axe, a trophy the teams have squabbled over since 1948.
    • Had it not been for the 1906 game, which was canceled by President Roosevelt due to "injuries and deaths on the field" in college rivalry games, the streak of consecutive games would run back to 1890.
    • Despite the rich tradition of the Axe, we yearn for the days of the Slab of Bacon, the original trophy awarded to the winner beginning in 1930.
    • The Slab became the "Missing Slab of Bacon" after disappearing in a post-game melee following a Minnesota win some time in the early 1940s, only to resurface in a storage closet under Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium in 1994. During its 40-something year sabbatical, an unknown person had dutifully recorded the outcome of every game in the rivalry on the back of the Slab until 1970.

      Now that is what college football is all about: underdogs, rivals, axes, and playing hide-the-bacon.

      Other Match-Ups

      Neuheisel vs. Belafonte
      Our pick: The Muppets, in a runaway.

      Rivalry of the Week (Honorable Mention)

      Bert vs. Ernie
      Our pick: Bert is the better of the two, despite all evidence to the contrary

      The Chicken Fights Not For Glory
      Legend holds that a cock fight saved Western civilization.

      Leading his troops to battle against the invading Persians in the fifth-century BC, the Athenian general Themistocles observed two roosters battling beside the road.

      Themistocles summoned his troops, crying out: "Behold, these do not fight for their household gods, for the monuments of their ancestors, for glory, for liberty or the safety of their children, but only because one will not give way to the other."

      The troops, emboldened by the plucky poultry, defeated the invaders.

      Apparently, no one thought to ask if the chickens were fighting for drachmas, which is the only driving force behind our College Football Report Sacred Free Range Chicken. Cash is the ultimate motivator.

      Michigan State (-7) vs. Northwestern
      Memphis vs. Louisville (-23)
      Tennessee-Chattanooga (+49) vs. Alabama
      Connecticut vs. Temple (-7.5)
      Indiana vs. Ohio State (Over 82)
      East Carolina (-6) vs. North Carolina State

      -

      Mike Luce is our man on campus. He welcomes your comments.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

      Local Book Notes: Chicago Book Expo, The Uptown Factor & Not Saying Thank You

      1. The Chicago Book Expo Is Happening On Sunday In Uptown.

      "The Chicago Book Expo is a pop-up bookstore and literary fair open to the public being held on Sunday in the Uptown neighborhood from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. at St. Augustine College, 1345 W. Argyle. An aftershow will follow at 5 p.m. at Fat Cat, 4840 N. Broadway.

      "The event features an expo with Chicago's best independent publishers and authors selling books, plus free author readings, panel discussions, writing workshops, and bilingual/Spanish programs. Nonprofits and associations serving the writing and publishing communities will be represented. All events are free and open to the public."

      Here's the schedule.

      *

      "Stemming from a project by the Chicago Writers House, the expo was started in 2011, with the first event being accompanied by more than 40 different publishers who were complemented by several workshops and other activities," Parker Asmann writes for the DePaulia.

      "Although the expo that has emerged this year is no longer associated with the Chicago Writers House, the vision that was created by these individuals has remained at the forefront of the new volunteers' mission."

      *

      "Several members of the Society of Midland Authors will be selling and signing their books at the Chicago Book Expo," the Society has announced.

      Here's that schedule:

      11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.: Christine Sneed

      11 a.m. - 1 p.m.: David J. Walker, Allen Salter and Mahmoud Saeed

      1 p.m. - 3 p.m.: Jim Bowman, Gunter Nitsch, Mike Raleigh and Rosina Neginsky

      3 p.m. - 5 p.m.: Sel Yackley, Bill Yarrow, Craig Sautter and George Levy

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      2. The Uptown Factor.

      "In the mid-70s, the Uptown neighborhood was filled with poor whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians. It was infected with gang activity, mental illness and a unique architectural style. One man decided to document it all with his camera, and is now sharing the images in his new book, Uptown: Portrait of a Chicago Neighborhood in the Mid 1970s."

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      3. On Doris Lessing And Not Saying Thank You.

      "Lessing's major political concern was the same as the one that is at the heart of feminism, and of all civil-rights movements: access.

      "In her Nobel acceptance speech, called 'On Not Winning the Nobel Prize,"'Lessing described visiting two schools. The first was in what by then had become the independent Republic of Zimbabwe: 'There is no atlas or globe in the school, no textbooks, no exercise books, or Biros. In the library there are no books of the kind the pupils would like to read, but only tomes from American universities, hard even to lift, rejects from white libraries, or novels with titles like Weekend in Paris and Felicity Finds Love.'

      "The second was an upper-crust London boys' school. She told the students there about the students in Zimbabwe who begged visitors to bring them books. The London boys looked at her blankly, polite but bored. 'I'm sure that some of them will one day win prizes,' she said. Look at Orhan Pamuk, she told her audience, look at V. S. Naipaul and J. M. Coetzee. All three, in their Nobel acceptance speeches, spoke of an early life spent with books. How can we better distribute knowledge?"

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      4. How Long Will I Cry?

      "[It's] the first publication of a newly formed nonprofit organization called Big Shoulders Books, which is affiliated with Chicago's DePaul University," Robert Koehler writes. "It's available free of charge, because . . . how could a cry in the wilderness be otherwise?

      "It's a cry in the wilderness punctuated by gunfire . . .

      "[The book is] the dream and collaboration of lots of people who live in and love Chicago, cultural mecca and, in recent years, 'murder capital' of America. This book begins telling the city's untold story, which is the untold story of so much of the country. It lets loose the voices of children, teenagers, adults who have been wounded by the violence that is the shadow side of American and human culture: the voices of those who have lost their children and their friends to it; the voices of those who have grown up with it; the voices of those who have participated in it and been dragged into it.

      "There are 35 interviews in all. Together they convey the complex dynamic of poverty, despair and hope beyond hope. We need to listen. We need to find a collective resolve to end the violence."

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      5. Latina/o.

      "On Thursday, December 5, the Poetry Foundation presents a reading by CantoMundo Fellows Eduardo C. Corral, Carmen Giménez-Smith and Sheryl Luna and CantoMundo co-founder Deborah Paredez," the foundation has announced.

      "Inspired by Cave Canem and Kundiman, literary organizations that cultivate the growth of African American and Asian American poets, respectively, CantoMundo is a national collective for Latina/o poets."

      *

      "Eduardo C. Corral won the 2011 Yale Younger Poets Prize for Slow Lighting, making him the first Latino recipient of the award. He is also the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and an NEA Fellowship.

      "Carmen Giménez-Smith is the author of four poetry collections - Milk and Filth, Goodbye, Flicker, The City She Was, and Odalisque in Pieces. She is currently blogging at Harriet, the blog of the Poetry Foundation.

      "Sheryl Luna received the Andres Montoya Prize for her first collection, Pity the Drowned Horses. Poets & Writers Magazine named Luna as one of the "18 Debut Poets who Made their Mark in 2005."

      "Deborah Paredez is the author of This Side of Skin, and the critical study, Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. She is the co-founder of CantoMundo and an associate professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin where she teaches in the New Writers School MFA program.

      "This reading is also made possible by Letras Latinas and the Guild Literary Complex."

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:58 AM | Permalink

      Sunlight Wins 13 Years Of Federal Contract Data

      On Monday, the Sunlight Foundation filed its first ever FOIA lawsuit and sued the General Services Administration for not responding to our FOIA request for six months. But good news; on Wednesday we received the documents.

      Sunlight is making available more than a decade's worth of federal solicitation and award notices from FBO.gov on our website.

      Unfortunately, the GSA refused to disclose the contact information for contracting officers from the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, citing FOIA exemption 5 U.S.C S 552(b)(6), an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

      This is a FOIA victory for Sunlight and for spending transparency, as Sunlight federal policy manager Ginger McCall notes:

      Despite the partial denial, these notices will allow the public and Sunlight's developers to do a close analysis of government contracting patterns.

      They include information about who is granting contracts, to whom contracts are being granted, what is being contracted for, and how much those contracts are worth.

      This will allow us to look for connections and patterns that could implicate government waste or corruption.

      It will also allow us to analyze the accuracy of information that the government is reporting elsewhere, including on USASpending.gov.

      Visit the Sunlight blog to download the solicitation and award files from 2000 to 2013.

      Please note that the notices are broken out in two parts. One file has records with the unique id for each notice, and almost all of the related data fields. The other file with the "_desc" suffix has the unique id for each notice and a longer prose field that includes the description of the notice.

      Additionally, the numbers at the end of the file name indicate the year range. So, "fbo_data_archive_00_04.csv" is for the years 2000-2004. The file "fbo_data_active.csv" contains all the active solicitations in FBO.gov right now.

      -

      UPDATE 12/19: FOIA Santa Comes Early To Sunlight!

      -

      Previously:
      * Dennis Hastert's Highway To Heaven.

      * Open Government On The Line: Tell Your Governor.

      * Save The Data!

      * Federal Spending Reporting System Still Broken; $1.3 Trillion In Misreported Funds.

      * Sunlight Files Government Spending FOIA Lawsuit.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:29 AM | Permalink

      Rebel Access TV Is In Your Face!

      REBEL ACCESS tv has been shown on the air both in the Chicago and Arizona local stations for over a decade. Now REBEL ACCESS tv brings the entire world, Music Videos, Live Concert Footage, and Interviews with Bands. Rebel Access takes you inside the mosh pits as we use multiple cameras with professional editing, Raw, Fast, and Super Exciting, that REBEL ACCESS tv is "IN YOUR FACE"!! Check us out on Facebook and be part of the Rebel Access family of misfits.

      Most recently added videos.

      1. All That Remains.


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      2. Crisis.

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      3. Haste The Day.

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      4. Devil Driver.

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      5. Mnemic.

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      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:12 AM | Permalink

      The Week In Chicago Rock

      You shoulda been there.

      1. The Right Now at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.


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      2. Temples at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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      3. The Virus at Reggies on Wednesday night.

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      4. Now, Now at the Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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      5. Gary Clark Jr. at the Vic on Tuesday night.

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      6. Dave Davies at City Winery on Monday night.

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      7. The Travelin' McCourys at City Winery on Sunday night.

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      8. MGMT at the Aragon on Tuesday night.

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      9. Obituary at the Cobra Lounge on Monday night.

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      10. The Coldies at the Burlington on Thursday night.

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      11. MAMA at the Burlington on Thursday night.

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      12. Young the Giant at the Metro on Monday night.

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      13. In This Moment at Mojoes in Joliet on Monday night.

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      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:13 AM | Permalink

      Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent

      Live/work.

      ForRent.JPG(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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      More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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      Helene on Twitter!

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      Meet Helene!

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      Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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      Previously:
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.

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      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:58 AM | Permalink

      November 21, 2013

      Forest Preserves Of Cook County Launches Major Natural And Cultural Resources Plan!

      The Forest Preserves of Cook County is teaming up with the Prairie Research Institute of the University of Illinois to create a comprehensive plan for the management of its natural and cultural resources.

      The Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan will draw together two traditionally separate disciplines. "Natural resources" include the land, water and wildlife communities inhabiting the Preserves' nearly 69,000 acres. "Cultural resources" include archaeological sites and artifacts left by early human societies who lived on these lands.

      The project will assemble into one central database ecological and archaeological data on the Forest Preserves' holdings, including previously unknown or inaccessible data such as physical collections by staff and paper records held by partner institutions. Once the data is compiled, scientists will identify gaps in information and work to fill them using rapid field surveys and other methods. The database will be a living document, allowing for continued updating as new information is discovered and future data collected.

      Forest Preserve ecologists and planners will be able to use the map-based database to gain greater insights into the land's history and better identify trends. The plan will standardize protocols for monitoring changing conditions over the long term. The public will also be able to access and use selected non-sensitive data.

      "This master plan will take our land management to a new level," says Forest Preserves general superintendent Arnold Randall. "We look at the land from many different perspectives - wildlife ecology, plant communities, archaeology, trail or building construction - but departments often focus on their individual piece of the puzzle. With the new plan, our staff and partners will be able to sit around the same map and take everything into account at once, based on all available data."

      The Prairie Research Institute houses the Illinois Scientific Surveys, including the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Illinois State Geological Survey, the Illinois State Water Survey, the Illinois State Archaeological Survey and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. "

      They were the ideal partner for this project," Randall said. "Since 1858, the INHS has essentially served as our state's biological memory. They have a breadth of expertise and an ability to organize and protect sensitive information. This partnership gives the Forest Preserves access to more than 600 scientists and technicians with knowledge of Illinois resources unavailable anywhere else."

      The Forest Preserves will also bring in experts to facilitate a public input process.

      Key staff from the Forest Preserves and the Prairie Research Institute met earlier this month to set the course for data consolidation, staff and public input, resource mapping and other initial steps. The plan will be completed by December 31, 2014.

      -

      Previously:
      * The Cook County Forest Preserves Actually Has A Lot Of Cool Things Going On!

      * Fall Fun At The Forest Preserves!

      * The Cook County Forest Preserves Have Trout Fishing!

      * New Restroom Facilities Offer Great Relief To Forest Preserves Visitors.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:09 AM | Permalink

      The [Thursday] Papers

      "For all the hullabaloo surrounding food stamps, one might think they're a worthwhile investment," Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute writes in an Op-Ed for Crain's.

      "Unfortunately, no one is really sure about that. In fact, the Government Accountability Office found that 'the literature is inconclusive regarding whether SNAP alleviates hunger and malnutrition for low-income households.'"

      Really? How could this be? I found this claim quite stunning. How could food stamps not alleviate hunger? Given that the GAO is a pretty credible source, I decided to follow up.

      Guess what? It's not true.

      Here's what the GAO really had to say:

      "Literature also suggests that participation in SNAP, the largest of the federal food and nutrition programs, is associated with positive effects on outcomes related to many of its goals."

      I suspect alleviating hunger would be chief among those goals, but let's go on:

      "According to the research, participation in SNAP has several positive outcomes related to the program's goals of raising the level of nutrition and increasing the food purchasing power of low-income households.

      "For example, participation in SNAP has been found to increase household food expenditures, increase the availability of nutrients to the household, and, as some research has found, reduce anemia and other nutritional deficiencies.

      "In addition, increasing household food expenditures is also related to SNAP's goal of strengthening the U.S. agricultural economy.

      "However, the literature is inconclusive regarding whether SNAP alleviates hunger and malnutrition in low-income households, another program goal."

      How could a program that "rais[es] the level of nutrition and increas[es] the food purchasing power of low-income households" not alleviate hunger?

      My first thought was that the program may to a small degree alleviate hunger in individuals, but not enough to significantly alleviate hunger in the aggregate, as a national issue. And that may be what the GAO is getting at. But there's more.

      "While studies show the program increases household food expenditures and the nutrients available to the household, research finds little or no effect on the dietary or nutrient intake of individuals.

      "The Economic Research Service cites several reasons why, despite increasing household nutrient availability, SNAP may not affect individual dietary and nutrient intakes."

      By the way, "may" and "inconclusive" doesn't mean it doesn't; whatever studies have been done haven't found the program failing at these goals either. But let's proceed.

      "For example, all household members might not share equally in the consumption of additional nutrients made available by SNAP benefits . . . "

      So someone in the family is benefiting, but not necessarily everyone in the family.

      " . . . some food may be wasted or consumed by guests . . . "

      The studies only measure the official recipient of food stamps, not friends or other non-family members who may share in the food SNAP provides. (Perhaps a mother on SNAP purchases food that she gives to children and/or other relatives not living in her home, a circumstance someone from the CATO Institute may not have the street smarts to consider. Has the program alleviated hunger? Yes. In the SNAP household? No.)

      " . . . and some household members might consume food from other 'nonhome' sources."

      I assume this applies to the nutritional value part of the research; and indeed, if you live in a food desert your choices for your SNAP dollar are generally limited to unhealthy and processed poison. Just receiving food stamps doesn't in any way suddenly provide healthier choices than not having food stamps; in fact, not having food stamps generally means you can afford to live near and/or buy healthier food. SNAP doesn't magically reverse that circumstance.

      "In addition, the availability of more food in the house does not guarantee individuals eat a healthier diet."

      What I just said.

      Finally, another reason why SNAP may not alleviate hunger as defined by researchers: The benefits are tiny.

      "This month, SNAP benefits were reduced to an average of just $1.40 per person, per meal," Diane Doherty of the Illinois Hunger Coalition noted in her own Crain's Op-Ed.

      "Congress allowed to expire a provision that provided a small increase in benefits to help boost the economy and ease hardship. That means a family of three lost $29 a month to put food on the table. That is equivalent to 16 meals a month."

      I know that when a lot of people see a figure like $29 a month they think it's not a big deal. As someone with less than a hundred dollars in his bank account and a load of unpaid bills and credit card debt, I can tell you that $29 a month can be the difference between eating one day or not; keeping the lights on or not; renewing a badly need medical prescription or not.

      It's the same thing when people - like our mayor - pooh-pooh increases in CTA fares, water bills and parking tickets.

      Instead of raising taxes on the wealthy, Rahm raises fees on the poor.

      "Look at any area of the city's 2012 budget, as proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and you won't see any bite larger than from the area labeled 'community services,'" Megan Cottrell reported about the mayor's first budget.

      "Most sections of the budget are getting cut. Finance and administration down by 3.1 percent. Legislative and elections down 9.5 percent. Infrastructure down 1 percent. City development, public safety and regulatory? Reduced 2.9, 1.4 and 10.7, respectively.

      "Community services? Their budget has been reduced by nearly a fifth, down 17.7 percent.

      "For poor residents in Chicago, it means they'll have even less help than before. While corporations get a cut in their head tax, poor Chicagoans will see the city services they rely on - health centers, child care, workforce development, mental health treatment, library services and the like - get smaller and, in some cases, disappear."

      That was a budget whose passage the media declared a "win" for the mayor, while ignoring the loss that it was for all but our richest residents.

      So while losing $29 a month for a family of three is hard enough, it's even harder when that same family is adding a multiple of $29 a month in expenses from every source Rahm can think of.

      And then there's the sequester, which the media forgot about once the political drama of avoiding it was over. The real cuts, though, have kicked in and they are painful.

      But by all means, let's cut food stamps.

      In fact, the Government Accountability Office found that 'the literature is inconclusive regarding whether SNAP alleviates hunger and malnutrition for low-income households.'

      In fact, that's simply not true as presented by Tanner.

      *

      Finally, I invite Tanner to ask 100 people receiving SNAP benefits if the program has in any way alleviated their hunger. I will eat a LINK card if he finds that it has not.

      *

      "Similarly," Tanner writes, "a study for the U.S. Department of Agriculture found for nearly all vitamins, minerals and macronutrients assessed, the dietary intake among SNAP participants was comparable to that of nonparticipants."

      Yes. Those on SNAP tend to eat the same kind of food that those not on SNAP eat. You know why? They're not aliens. SNAP isn't supposed to make you healthier, even if the government claims that as a goal. It's just supposed to fill your belly.

      But you know what would make SNAP recipients - and all of us - healthier? A better regulated food system, which I'm sure that Tanner would oppose with every processed fiber of his body.

      *

      Also, note that Tanner turns to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study - no doubt also cherry-picked - to make his case about the nutritional value of SNAP while ignoring the study he used to make his original claim. The study he started with found that:

      According to the research, participation in SNAP has several positive outcomes related to the program's goals of raising the level of nutrition and increasing the food purchasing power of low-income households.

      For example, participation in SNAP has been found to increase household food expenditures, increase the availability of nutrients to the household, and, as some research has found, reduce anemia and other nutritional deficiencies.

      Apparently that first study is only valid to Tanner when he can slice something out of it to disingenuously bolster his predetermined argument and otherwise not worth citing.

      -

      Comment:

      Maybe everyone on SNAP is also on a diet.

      - Tim Willette

      *

      Comment:

      It's an even ballsier version of the "throwing money at the problem won't fix [education, etc.]" - throwing food at the problem won't solve hunger!

      - Tim Willette

      *

      Reply:

      Throwing food at the problem won't solve hunger! That's like throwing jobs at unemployment!

      The next time one of my credit card companies calls, I'm going to say, "Look, throwing money at this debt won't solve the problem."

      - Steve Rhodes

      *

      Comment:

      "It's like throwing housing at the homeless!"

      - Tim Willette

      The Marriage Equality And Exorcism Soundtrack
      One Fine Day to Celebrate.

      HealthCare.Gov Fumble Creates Ad Opening
      Blue Cross Blue Shield rolls out new campaign.

      NSA Meddling In Encryption Sparks Review
      Your security when making purchases online, paying bills or simply visiting websites is at stake.

      The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
      The chances precipitation this week are slim.

      Wisconsin Comics Legend To Auction Rare Works
      Maggie Thompson's collection valued at more than $1 million.

      Forest Preserves Launch New Cultural Plan
      Mapping wildlife ecology, plant communities, archaeology, trail and building construction together for more creative and efficient management.

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Snapping, crackling and popping.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

      Wisconsin Comic Book Legend Puts Rare Works Up For Auction

      "Holy auction block, Batman! Comic book collector and industry legend Maggie Thompson has decided to put some 500 pieces of her personal collection up for auction over the next few months," AP reports.

      "The first wave alone includes the first issue of The Avengers, Journey Into Mystery No. 83, which features the first appearance of Thor, the first issue of The Incredible Hulk and the original cover art for the fourth issue of Conan the Barbarian.

      "News of the auction has comic lovers' wallets tingling. The books are in exceptional condition; auctioneers expect the total collection could fetch $1 million by the time sales wrap up next year."


      *

      From Wikipedia:

      "Margaret 'Maggie' Thompson (born Margaret Curtis on November 29, 1942), was the editor of Comics Buyer's Guide, a monthly comic book industry news magazine. Thompson and her late husband, Don Thompson (October 30, 1935-May 23, 1994), were among the instigators of what developed in the 1960s into comic book fandom.

      "Their Harbinger (a mimeographed one-sheet published in the autumn of 1960) announced the upcoming publication of Comic Art, one of the early amateur magazines devoted to all aspects of sequential art (a term not then in use).

      "The initial issue of Comic Art was released the following spring. Seven issues were published at irregular intervals between 1961 and 1968. As publication of Comic Art wound down, they shifted their attention to a new venture as the Thompsons started a fanzine titled Newfangles in March 1967. Unlike other comics news fanzines of the time it was devoted to the doings of comics fandom instead of news about comic books and comic book professionals."

      *

      "Thompson graduated in 1964 from Oberlin College as an English major, then worked as an assistant children's librarian in the Cleveland Public Library system through the summer of 1966, when she quit to have children (Valerie and Stephen).

      "She worked as a freelance writer and editor until coming to Krause Publications as the editor of Movie Collector's World and Comics Buyer's Guide in 1983. That same year she created and edited Fantasy Empire magazine and wrote Dark Shadows: Book Two #1-4 for Innovation Comics.

      "With her husband Don, she wrote a miscellany of articles and comic-book stories; The Official Price Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy (1989, House of Collectibles); five years of Comics Buyer's Guide Annual (1992-1996, Krause Publications); Marvel Comics Checklist & Price Guide 1961-Present (1993, Krause Publications); and Comic-Book Superstars (1993, Krause Publications). With others, she produced the Comics Buyer's Guide Checklist & Price Guide (now in its 15th edition, Krause Publications); and the Standard Catalog of Comic Books (now in its 5th edition, Krause Publications).

      "Krause later sold the movie newspaper, but she continued to edit Comics Buyer's Guide, long after her husband's death in 1994[4] and the transformation of the publication into a monthly magazine. In 2013 she began a column for San Diego Comic-Con International's Toucan blog called Maggie's World."

      *

      The official website of Maggie Thompson.

      *

      "I started collecting when I was about 5 years old - around 1947," Thompson told Antique Trader last month.

      "I do have original art in my collection that is connected to that early era, thanks to my parents' support. They began a correspondence with Pogo creator Walt Kelly, and he decorated his letters with his drawings. Of course, the family kept that correspondence.

      "However, I became the sort of person we think of today as a collector when I began to collect E.C. comics, starting with Mad #9 (1954). Don was also already a collector when we first met in 1957, focusing especially on Classics Illustrated and the E.C. comics.

      "When it was clear we were going to be a couple, we actually built a savings account and funded our collecting efforts out of it. Eventually, later, we sold the duplicates that resulted from our combined collections."

      *

      "Among the highlights featured in the Don & Maggie Thompson Collection when it comes to auction November 21-23, 2013 at Heritage Auctions at the Beverly Hills, California location will be one of the finest known copies of The Avengers #1, a CGC-certified 9.4 copy," Scoop reports. "It is expected to bring more than $80,000. According to Heritage, the collection is estimated at $1 million."

      *

      From Heritage Auctions:

      *

      Final word from Maggie:

      "When you appreciate something enough to want it with you - to be able to have it if you want to check a fact or revisit an entertainment at 2 a.m. - you'd better collect it."

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

      HealthCare.Gov Fumble Creates Ad Opening For Competitors

      "If HealthCare.gov were the product of a private-sector entity, it's likely that things would be playing out differently in the wake of its disastrous rollout," Ken Wheaton writes for Ad Age.

      "The figurative streets would be paved with figurative blood as heads rolled, legal action might be in the offing and competitors would definitely be jumping on the opportunity.

      "But it turns out that at least one company is taking advantage of the situation, if ever so gently."

      That company is Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is running a series of three commercials in Iowa and South Dakota touting the ease of buying health insurance from its website. To wit:

      1. Sample.


      *

      2. Reflex.

      *

      3. Blood Pressure.

      *

      Indeed, buying through Wellmark's site looks simple.

      "Our new plans offer you all the benefits and features you need like guaranteed coverage and the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) essential health benefits," the site boasts.

      And as the Obama administration reboots and rebrands, it might want to consider Wellmark's creative force Campbell Mithun, to reposition the ACA.

      A mixture of humility and humor could go a long way toward recovering the ball.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:14 AM | Permalink

      Government Standards Agency To Review Encryption Guidelines After Cryptographers Cry Foul Over NSA Meddling

      The federal institute that sets national standards for how government, private citizens and business guard the privacy of their files and communications is reviewing all of its previous recommendations.

      The move comes after ProPublica, The Guardian and The New York Times disclosed that the National Security Agency had worked to secretly weaken standards to make it easier for the government to eavesdrop.

      The review, announced earlier this month by the National Institute for Standards and Technology, will also include an assessment of how the institute creates encryption standards.

      The institute sets national standards for everything from laboratory safety to high-precision timekeeping. NIST's cryptographic standards are used by software developers around the world to protect confidential data. They are crucial ingredients for privacy on the Internet, and are designed to keep Internet users safe from being eavesdropped on when they make purchases online, pay bills or visit secure websites.

      But as the investigation by ProPublica, The Guardian and The New York Times in September revealed, the National Security Agency spends $250 million a year on a project called "SIGINT Enabling" to secretly undermine encryption.

      One of the key goals, documents said, was to use the agency's influence to weaken the encryption standards that NIST and other standards bodies publish.

      "Trust is crucial to the adoption of strong cryptographic algorithms," the institute said in a statement on their website. "We will be reviewing our existing body of cryptographic work, looking at both our documented process and the specific procedures used to develop each of these standards and guidelines."

      The NSA is no stranger to NIST's standards-development process. Under current law, the institute is required to consult with the NSA when drafting standards. NIST also relies on the NSA for help with public standards because the institute doesn't have as many cryptographers as the agency, which is reported to be the largest employer of mathematicians in the country.

      "Unlike NSA, NIST doesn't have a huge cryptography staff," said Thomas Ptacek, the founder of Matasano Security. "NIST is not the direct author of many of most of its important standards."

      Matthew Scholl, the deputy chief at the Computer Security Division of the institute, echoed that statement: "As NIST Director Pat Gallagher has said in several public settings, NIST is designed to collaborate and the NSA has some of the world's best minds in cryptography . . . We also have parallel missions to protect federal IT systems, so we will continue to work with the NSA."

      Some of these standards are products of public competitions among academic cryptography researchers, while others are the result of NSA recommendations. An important standard, known as SHA2, was designed by the NSA and is still trusted by independent cryptographers and software developers worldwide.

      NIST withdrew one cryptographic standard, called Dual EC DRGB, after documents provided to news organizations by the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden raised the possibility that the standard had been covertly weakened by the NSA.

      Soon after, a leading cryptography company, RSA, told software writers to stop using the algorithm in a product it sells. The company promised to remove the algorithm in future releases.

      Many cryptographers have expressed doubt about NIST standards since the initial revelations were published. One popular encryption library changed its webpage to boast that it did not include NIST-standard cryptography.

      Silent Circle, a company that makes encryption apps for smartphones, promised to replace the encryption routines in its products with algorithms not published by NIST.

      If the NIST review prompts significant changes to existing encryption standards, consumers will not see the benefit immediately.

      "If the recommendations change, lots of code will need to change," said Tanja Lange, a cryptographer at the University of Technology at Eindhoven, in the Netherlands. "I think that implementers will embrace such a new challenge, but I can also imagine that vendors will be reluctant to invest the extra time."

      In this month's announcement, NIST pointed to its long history of creating standards, including the role it had in creating the first national encryption standard in the 1970s - the Data Encryption Standard, known as DES.

      "NIST has a proud history in open cryptographic standards, beginning in the 1970s with the Data Encryption Standard," the bulletin said.

      But even that early standard was influenced by the NSA. During the development of DES, the agency insisted that the algorithm use weaker keys than originally intended - keys more susceptible to being broken by super computers.

      At the time, Whitfield Diffie, a digital cryptography pioneer, raised serious concerns about the keys.

      "The standard will have to be replaced in as few as five years," he wrote.

      The weakened keys in the standard were not changed. DES was formally withdrawn by the institute in 2005.

      The announcement is the latest effort by NIST to restore the confidence of cryptographers. A representative from NIST announced in a public mailing list, also this month, that the institute would restore the original version of a new encryption standard, known as SHA3, that had won a recent design competition but altered by the institute after the competition ended. Cryptographers charged that NIST's changes to the algorithm had weakened it. The SHA3 announcement referred directly to cryptographers' concerns.

      "We were and are comfortable with that version on technical grounds, but the feedback we've gotten indicates that a lot of the crypto community is not comfortable with it," wrote John Kelsey, NIST's representative. There is no evidence the NSA was involved in the decision to change the algorithm.

      The reversal took Matthew Green, a cryptographer at Johns Hopkins University, by surprise. "NIST backed down! I'm not sure they would have done that a year ago," he said.

      -

      Previously:
      * NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

      * Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

      * Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

      * Obama Vs. The World.

      * How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

      * UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

      * Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

      * Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

      * A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

      * Item: NSA Briefing.

      * The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

      * The NSA Is Out Of Control.

      * Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

      * Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

      * Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

      * Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

      * NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

      * Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

      * It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

      * What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

      * America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

      * Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

      * The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

      * America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

      * Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

      * Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

      * Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

      * NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

      * Does The NSA Tap That?

      * Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

      * FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

      * NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

      * Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

      * The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

      * Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

      * Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

      * ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

      -

      See also:
      * Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

      * James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

      * Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

      -

      Comments welcome.


      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:08 AM | Permalink

      The Marriage Equality And Exorcism Soundtrack

      As gleaned from Twitter, here's the music attendees at the marriage equality bill signing and Downstate exorcism heard during their events. You can suss out which was played where.

      1. One Fine Day.

      -

      2. Gift of Finest Wheat.

      -

      3. We Are Family.

      -

      4. America the Beautiful.

      -

      5. Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.

      -

      6. Celebration.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:01 AM | Permalink

      The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Local Blackout Drunk

      Depending on where you live in the Chicagoland area, you may have had your regularly scheduled Bears broadcast preempted by incessant weather reports or annoying gray screens insisting you "seek shelter."

      Hey, Mary Kay Kleist and the CBS meteorological team, if I want to know if it's raining, I'll step outside and attempt to prevent my grill from blowing through the concrete facade of the Taco Bell seven blocks from my home.

      So while the Bears were slogging their way to a gutsy/gusty 23-20 OT victory, my family and guests were huddled in the basement . . . which is where we put all of the exotic beers my buddy brings over. Nothing quells the fear of impending doom like a liter of Serpent's Stout.

      Game aside, certain questions come to mind. Like, why doesn't the word "tornado" get a game pushed to 3 p.m.? Is the Soldier Field turf laid on Snack Packs? And, is "Tornado" the name of the guy who was signed off the street to back up David Bass?

      For those of you who don't have the NFL Replay package, here's a recap of the game action for you, as told by me shouting at my computer:

      . . . The Bears run defense sucks worse than Ray Rice this season. Noted.

      . . . You're running that same corner route again? I'm mad too, Brandon!

      . . . This is AWESOME! WHO IS DAVID BASS?

      . . . There are three of you covering Torrey Smith . . .

      . . . Why didn't someone not named Torrey Smith of you catch that?

      . . . Did they only throw the ball like five times in the third quarter . . . oh, it was three.

      . . . BOWMAN!!!! NOOOOOOO!!! NOOOMAN!!!!

      . . . I hate you Dallas Clark . . .

      . . . Cap'n CRUUUUUUNCH!!!!

      . . . Huh, what am I doing without pants at my desk? Oh the Bears won? Sweet.

      Low Point
      I didn't learn anything from this game, and not just because I was in my basement getting annihilated on Blood Of The Unicorn, but here's an interesting nugget for those of you pining for such things.

      Thanks to the apocalyptic weather that rolled through the Midwest, the Bears defense boasted their season low with 20 points allowed.

      So, the football equivalent of not running into your boss because he spent most of the day on conference calls with his divorce lawyer is what the D-unit can hang their hat on.

      You Mess With The Wool, You Get The Horn
      If the names of whoever the hell is playing for your Chicago Bears have slipped your mind, then get ready to think twice about what you don't know, or should be expected to, about the anonymous squad of professional players that populate the team that is coming up next, whose name escapes me at the moment.

      Oh yeah, Jeff Fisher used to coach the Oilers.

      Now I was kind of hoping that another rash of severe storms would roll through and provide nearly two weeks for me to check out mentally, but no such luck. My milkman pointed out that St. Louis plays in a dome now and not in Los Angeles as I had previously assumed, so the chances of precipitation are slim.

      So get pumped to view guys who may or may not be employed by professional football teams next year, like Kellen Clemens.

      Clemens is a journeyman quarterback so journeyed that his picture on the NFL's official bio page appears to have been taken while he was still wearing a Menards employee polo.

      And did you know that Chris Givens was the leading receiver on the Rams? Neither did he, but he won't make that mistake again after he lays four catches and 56 yards all over Chicago this Sunday.

      It's gonna be an electric indoor festival of fire this Sunday . . . SUNDAY . . . SUNDAY . . . when the Rams newest star blazes onto the scene with the force of a guy named Zack! I don't know much about him!

      St. Louis Rams Football: Taste The Abbreviation.

      Kool-Aid (1 Out Of 5 Bottles Of Budweiser)
      The Bears are right on target to becoming the least scary 7-4 team ever, so I'm not super hyped about this contest, though I'm sure astute readers have already picked up on that.

      You've got yourself a game here that only lends itself to letdown, as has been the case with any Bears-Rams tilt since 2004.

      But just for the sake of a little fandumb:

      WOOT! Let's go! Rah Rah! Yay . . .

      Look, I'll be happier, you'll be happier, we'll all be a little happier if/when the Bears come out on top . . . but only a little happier.

      Bears 24
      Rams 21

      -

      Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:25 AM | Permalink

      November 20, 2013

      The World Almanac And Book Of Facts 2014 Is On The Way And It's Going To Be Awesome

      What were the most memorable milestones of 2013? Which Winter Olympic moments in years past had us at the edge of our seats? What essential information can prepare voters for November 2014 elections?

      The answers to these questions and more can be found in The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2014, available in print and as an eBook for all platforms on November 26.

      This latest edition of America's best-selling reference book will be your go-to source in the upcoming year, containing thousands of facts that are unavailable publicly elsewhere.

      The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2014 takes on a fresh, contemporary design this year. The new cover features a world studded with images of President Barack Obama, Justin Timberlake, Serena Williams, One World Trade Center, and other notable figures - a reflection of the year's top people, places, and events chronicled in its pages.

      As the federal government begins to offer marriage benefits to same-sex couples, The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2014 spotlights "Marriage in America: A Changing Picture," a brand-new special feature that provides an intriguing look at the changing demographic trends behind the institution of marriage, family structures, and social attitudes in the United States.

      Other new additions to look forward to include "Memorable Winter Olympic Moments" - a look at The World Almanac editors' favorite moments of the past Winter Olympics, preparing readers for the 2014 Games - and a "Voter Guide," which provides readers with a simple, state-by-state source for key election dates and information.

      Meanwhile, popular annual sections like "Year in Sports," "Top 10 News Topics," "The World at a Glance," and "Time Capsule" make their return.

      "This latest edition and its new look are a testament to our commitment and ability to stay current as well as relevant each year," said Sarah Janssen, senior editor of The World Almanac. "Our world might be changing at an increasingly rapid rate, but readers can be confident that The World Almanac will always be a reliable, up-to-date resource for any information they need."

      Highlights from The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2014 include:

      • Marriage in America: After a year in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and the federal government began to extend marriage benefits to same-sex couples, this feature on marriage in the United States reveals surprising details about the state of our unions.
      • Voter Guide: Prior to the 2014 midterm elections, tap this user-friendly, state-by-state guide for key election dates and information, including voter-ID laws adopted by many states.
      • Memorable Winter Olympic Moments: From Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan to the Miracle on Ice, the editors of The World Almanac chose their favorite moments from past Winter Olympics to prepare readers for the 2014 Games and beyond.
      • Year in Sports: Uncover hundreds of pages of trivia and statistics that are essential for any sports fan, including complete coverage of the 2013 World Series, the brand-new National Women's Soccer League, and more.
      • Year in Pictures: These striking full-color images from around the world in 2013 illustrate the top events in news, pop culture, science, and sports.
      • Top 10 News Topics: The editors of The World Almanac list the top stories that held their attention in 2013.
      • Time Capsule: The World Almanac features the items that most came to symbolize the year 2013, from news and sports to pop culture.
      • Offbeat News Stories: Recap some of the strangest news stories of the year with The World Almanac editors' selection of off-the-wall news stories you might have missed.
      • The World at a Glance: This annual feature provides a quick look at the surprising stats and curious facts that define the changing world today.

      • Health News and Statistics: Discover details about U.S. health care policy and the ongoing implementation of health care reform, plus factual information on common diseases and disorders (including a new section on ADHD), nutrition and diet, and Medicare and insurance.

      The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2014 is available for purchase at www.worldalmanac.com. For eBook versions, please check your online retailer.

      About The World Almanac
      The World Almanac's history as a publisher of award-winning reference titles dates back more than 140 years. The imprint includes such iconic titles as The World Almanac and Book of Facts, the best-selling American reference book of all time, and The World Almanac for Kids, the best-selling reference book for kids.

      The World Almanac brand is part of Infobase Holdings, an educational media company that owns such well-known brands as Facts On File, Films Media Group, Chelsea House, Bloom's, and Ferguson's. Infobase is a portfolio company investment of Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a private equity firm that invests in the media, information, and education industries.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:08 PM | Permalink

      The [Wednesday] Papers

      1. Trust Me, It's For The Kids.

      See also: The [Tuesday] Papers for essential background.

      2. RTA Launching Ventra Probe.

      "The Regional Transportation Authority is launching an inquiry into snafus surrounding the CTA's launch of its Ventra fare card, officials said today.

      "RTA Chairman John Gates Jr. asked the RTA's chief auditor to review the Ventra rollout, saying an independent analysis of the problems was needed.

      "This has morphed into far more than a computer glitch," Gates said.

      See also: The [Friday] Papers for essential background.

      Related: Song of the Moment: V.E.N.T.R.A.

      3. Exorcism Against Same-Sex Marriage Decried As 'Political Stunt.'

      "Heads likely won't spin and demons probably won't hover as Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield offers prayers for exorcism Wednesday in opposition to Gov. Pat Quinn's planned signing of Illinois' same-sex marriage bill.

      "So what do some Catholics believe will happen when Paprocki dons a purple stole at a church near the state Capitol, recites the litany of saints and implores, 'From all evil, deliver us, O Lord'?

      "Some Catholics would believe that God is being invoked to dispel evil, the condition of evil in this case," said the Rev. Gary Thomas, a California priest whose training as an exorcist was featured in the 2011 film The Rite. "It would be a rare Catholic to expect something dramatic to happen at the moment."

      Not even blood shooting from Quinn's pen?

      *

      "Thomas Paprocki was born in Chicago, Illinois; he has six brothers and two sisters," according to his Wikipedia entry.

      "A lifelong fan of hockey, he began playing at a young age in the basement of his father's drugstore and supports the Chicago Blackhawks."

      Paprocki is such a fan of hockey he's known as the Holy Goalie.

      "He was profiled in the December [2005] issue of USA Hockey magazine, where he was pictured in his episcopal robes holding a hockey stick and helmet," Tom Sheridan reported for the Catholic News Service in 2005.

      "The article's headline, appropriately enough, was 'Holy Goalie.' Bishop Paprocki has been playing hockey - floor hockey - since he was a boy, but it's only been in the past decade, he told the magazine, that he's taken to the ice. Now, twice a week he plays at McFetridge Ice Center stopping pucks in an over-30, no-check league."

      At the time, Paprocki was the Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Bishop of Springfield.

      Paprocki is one of God's special creatures.

      "During midnight mass, Paprocki ripped airport security personnel for not profiling Arabs and warned that Muslims could impose Islamist values in the United States if they keep moving here until they reach a majority," Bruce Rushton reported for Illinois Times in 2011. "He also gave a history lesson about a failed invasion of Europe by Muslim soldiers.

      "Paprocki didn't back down when Corey Brost, a priest and a high school teacher in Arlington Heights, wrote an opinion piece published in the State Journal-Register, saying that Paprocki had given an inaccurate portrayal of Islam, invited fear and advocated unconstitutional human rights abuses.

      "In a response published in the diocesan newspaper, Paprocki mocked Brost for writing that there is no modern onslaught of Muslims attacking Christians.

      "Oh, really?" Paprocki wrote. "That's easy to say from the calm and peaceful security of Arlington Heights, Illinois."

      "The homily was vintage Paprocki, a man known for damning torpedoes. In 2007, Paprocki told a group of judges and lawyers in Michigan that monetary awards to victims of sexual abuse by priests were excessive and that the legal system needed reform.

      "Today in North America and elsewhere, the law is being used to undermine the charitable works and the religious freedom of the Church," Paprocki said four years ago. "This attack is particularly directed against bishops and priests, since the most effective way to scatter the flock is to attack the shepherd. We must also use our religious discernment to recognize that the principal force behind these attacks is none other than the devil."

      Ah, the devil. That's right in Paprocki's wheelhouse. Three years ago, he organized an exorcism conference in Baltimore that made national news.

      Then last year, Wikipedia notes, "Paprocki told his parishioners that voting 'for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.' His [Catholic Times] article went on at length discussing how the Democratic Party embraced objectionable doctrines."

      *

      Trailer for The Rite, which got 21% on the Tomatometer:

      -

      4. R. Kelly's New Album Touts Provocative Cover Art.

      Not really, unless by provocative you mean "Are all of those women of age?"

      And I don't mean that as a joke, but as a remark of disgust. R. Kelly is on a roll again lately and few seem to be bothered by his documented history.

      See the updated (in comments) Lady Gaga's Affront To R. Kelly's Victims.

      5. Tribune Company To Cut Nearly 700 Jobs.

      "The 6% staff reduction will come primarily from the company's beleaguered newspaper unit, but will largely involve operations personnel rather than reporters and editors at its eight daily papers, Peter Liguori, Tribune's chief executive, said in an interview. "

      See also From Trees To Tribunes for a look at the way it was.

      6. Is Marc Trestman Awesome Or What?

      Yes. Yes he is.

      See also: Marc Trestman, Will You Be My New Dad?

      7. Congressional Compromise On Transparency Leaves Obama's Military Aid In Shadows.

      Administration forges half-hearted measures with gaping loopholes

      8. The World Almanac And Book Of Facts 2014 Is On The Way And It's Going To Be Awesome.

      Containing thousands of facts that are unavailable publicly elsewhere.

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Exorcise your demons.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:00 AM | Permalink

      Song of the Moment: V.E.N.T.R.A.

      Seemingly inevitable, yet not done yet to our knowledge.

      Song: V.E.N.T.R.A.

      Artists: ScratchetOA (Alan Linic and Ollie Hobson)

      The Story Behind The Song: Ventra Rap by Ticked-off Comedy Writers Blasts CTA, New Cards, Rahm.

      -


      -

      (There is also a more family-friendly "radio edit").

      -

      Previously in Song of the Moment:
      * Iron Man
      * The Story of Bo Diddley
      * Teach Your Children
      * Dream Vacation
      * When The Levee Breaks
      * I Kissed A Girl
      * Theme From Shaft
      * Rocky Mountain High
      * North to Alaska
      * Barracuda
      * Rainy Days and Mondays
      * Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
      * Baby, It's Cold Outside
      * Man in the Mirror
      * Birthday Sex
      * Rio
      * My Sharona
      * Alex Chilton
      * Surfin' Bird
      * By The Time I Get To Arizona
      * Heaven and Hell
      * Sunday Bloody Sunday
      * Lawless One
      * Tell It Like It Is
      * The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
      * Lake Shore Drive
      * On, Wisconsin!
      * Anarchy in the U.K.
      * Ballad of a Thin Man
      * White Riot
      * Know Your Rights
      * Chicago Teacher
      * Youngstown
      * Over The Cliff
      * Almost Gone (The Ballad of Bradley Manning)
      * Party at the NSA

      -

      See also:
      * Songs of the Occupation: To Have And To Have Not
      * Songs of the Occupation: Johnny 99

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:39 AM | Permalink

      From Trees To Tribunes

      "Public domain film from the Prelinger Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.

      "The film was silent. I have added music created by myself using the Reaper Digital Audio Workstation and the Independence and Proteus VX VST instrument plugins."

      In two parts.

      1. The process of making newsprint paper, starting with the spruce logging in Canada, for the Chicago Tribune.


      -

      2. The reporters and editors of the 1930s Chicago Tribune, with about half of the segment dedicated to cartoonists such as Frank King, creator of Gasoline Alley, and Harold Gray of Little Orphan Annie.

      -

      See also: Jeff Quitney's YouTube channel.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:25 AM | Permalink

      Is Marc Trestman Awesome Or What?

      Still-new Bears coach Marc Trestman opened his press conference on Tuesday by first extending his sympathy to victims of Sunday's tornadoes, and then to fans who stuck out the horrible weather to watch the game at Soldier Field.

      That might not seem unusual, but it's actually a 180-degree turn from the antagonistic Halas Hall culture that Lovie Smith created over his tenure.

      Trestman then turned to reviewing the game, telling reporters "First, I'll give you some content - some things you guys can work with."

      "Okay!" I heard The Score's Dan Bernstein over the station's broadcast of the press conference. I mean, thanks! Is this guy for real?

      And then Trestman did something really extraordinary - extraordinary in part because it shouldn't be unusual at all in professional sports but is incredibly rare: He explained a controversial strategic decision he made as fully as any head coach in the history of the NFL has done. And he did so without becoming defensive or patronizing. In other words, he behaved like an adult who understands not just his inside view of the game but the way the game looks from fans and reporters on the outside (desperate to know more).

      In the aftermath, reporters who wondered why Trestman made the calls he did at the end of regulation play on Sunday - namely, why he didn't use any time-outs to give the Bears a chance to retaliate as the Ravens drove down the field for a potential game-winning touchdown - revised their criticism or at least offered their newly enlightened respect for why Trestman did what he did.

      That, too, rarely happens.

      One effect: Trestman killed the drama and a week's worth of debate simply by telling the truth. And guess what? No harm was done - only good. The opposition didn't gain any particular insight that will help them defeat the Bears in the future, but we gained insight into factors that Trestman and his staff think about that we hadn't thought of ourselves.

      Here's that explanation. I listened to it live, but I've stolen the transcript from the excellent Adam Hoge, whose column about this you should also read, especially to get introduced to the team's analytics guy:

      I think it's a very fair question. But let me just give you a big picture. When you call time-outs at the end of halves, you want to call them in succession if you can. If you're calling them just hit or miss, there's really no value on that.

      So just a little bit of history, when you start a drive from the 16-yard line, you have a 13 percent chance, probably in the last five years, to score a touchdown. And you have to take that into consideration when you go into the game. And then when a team's driving, you need to know what they have and you need to know what you have. They had two time-outs at the time. And we had three time-outs.

      Well, the normal thinking is you never want to leave a game with your three time-outs. You want to get them back, especially in those situations. But the fact of the matter is that there was really no time to use the time-outs. And when you're in a two-minute situation and if you use your time-outs and there's no way you can call them in succession, you give them more time on each and every play to get the people out there that they want to complete that, to get that play done. So you have to consider that.

      So really, only the first time where I considered really calling a time-out was after Ray Rice had the 11-yard run down to the 5-yard line. And he took that ball with, I think it was about 1:16 when he had that ball. That was the first time. I was down there with the official. That was the first time. But when you put it all together, the numbers all together, if you call three time-outs right there in succession, you're still only getting the ball back at 18 seconds. OK? If you let it run, they're in a 2-minute mode and now they've got to call two time-outs.

      So a couple things come into play with them using their two time-outs. Number one, they didn't call a time-out on the first one which means they had to call a play out of their 2-minute package instead of using their red-zone package. So that's number one. They didn't call a time-out and get into different personnel groupings. They called a play. And then by using their two time-outs, we knew what they had to do on third down. They had to throw it. Because there wasn't enough time left to do anything else.

      So we cut the percentages in half of run to pass and then it was just one big leap of faith. If we had called three time-outs in a row, we've got 19, 18 seconds left at the max. So, the percentage of them scoring . . . It's a leap of faith. They went all the way down the field. Three points yes. Tied the game. Seven points? We're talking 13 percent.

      And then from an offensive standpoint as a play-caller, I know if you call time-out, you get what you want out there. If not, you've got a limited bag of plays you can use. So that's the reasoning behind it. I would have loved to have been able to have a situation when they were running the ball and they started to get into that field-goal area, where we could have plugged the time-outs, each one on top of each other. But that wasn't the case.

      Got that?

      I don't think the local sports media has caught on yet to the fact that Trestman is a football sabermetrician - everything Theo Epstein wants in a Cubs manager. (And can we get a shout-out to Bears general manager Phil Emery, who is beating Theo at his own game?) This also explains Trestman's penchant for going for it on fourth down, which is like the advanced metric of football that preserving outs is to baseball. Punting his highly discouraged.

      Trestman's touch has also been skillful in deflating as much as possible any notion of a quarterback controversy.

      After Josh McCown's successful starting debut against the Packers, Trestman said without being asked that Jay Cutler would return to starting as soon as doctors cleared him.

      After McCown's successful start against the Ravens on Sunday, Trestman said "Jay is the quarterback of our football team, and Josh is our backup quarterback, and the three of us all know that."

      Even if there is a quarterback controversy in his own mind, Trestman has made it clear inside and outside of the locker room that there is an unambiguous starter on this team, and an unambiguous backup, leaving no room for other possibilities to fester. It's a deft touch.

      *

      In September I wrote something similar about Trestman (I Might Be In Love With Marc Trestman) that described the culture change occurring at Halas Hall.

      Earlier this month, Hoge reported a story I don't think has gotten enough attention in light of recent events in the NFL:

      Marc Trestman had a clear message for his new football team.

      "I told the team the first night, when you haze somebody, you take their ability to help you win. Everybody's here to help you win."

      Throughout the offseason, training camp and preseason, Trestman preached the importance of treating teammates with respect and playing for each other. He did so to avoid the kind of divide that is going on in Miami right now, where Jonathan Martin left the Dolphins because of incessant bullying by Richie Incognito, who has since been suspended indefinitely.

      This is not just noteworthy on its own merits, but because A) Trestman has no fear of what others might think, i.e., that's he not "tough" enough himself and B) he tied his policy to the objective of winning. In other words, bullying isn't only wrong, it interferes with a team's goals.

      The Bears head coach has spent time with nine different NFL organizations, including the Dolphins in 2004, and he said some of those places had hazing and others didn't. He's seen it first hand as an assistant and he didn't want it in his locker room when he finally got his chance to be an NFL head coach.

      As Hoge notes, the Bears had a bullying environment pre-Trestman, citing former linebacker Hunter Hillenmyer's comments to The Score:

      The first year I filled in for Urlacher when he was on injured reserve (in 2004) for a large part of the year, I hated coming into work because of Olin (Kreutz.) He was a jerk. He was riding me because I was the third-year guy, or second-year guy trying to fill in for a superstar. I can relate in the sense that you're going to have people in your workplace that you don't necessarily like.

      (Kreutz) thought that everything he was always doing was in the best interest of the team. I don't want that to come across like I'm admonishing him or saying that he was a bad leader. He was a great leader, but at the same time, when you have a room full of alpha males who were all the best players on their high school teams and one of the best players on their college team, to get them to buy in and fall into line, you need people that take leadership roles in an aggressive way like that.

      If you're Jerry Angelo or you're Lovie Smith, as much as you might not approve of some of the methods, you like the results . . . People were going to come to OTAs and they weren't going to have loose lips with the media, they weren't going to do a lot of things to damage the locker room - not because they didn't want to, but because they were scared of Olin.

      Make no mistake - most players generally loved playing for Lovie. They thought he had their backs. He created a fortress in that locker room that outsiders were not allowed to penetrate. It was the us-against-the-world strategy.

      But it only worked for certain kinds of players - players like Kreutz and his defensive counterpart, Brian Urlacher. Trestman is building a team that works for everyone.

      Because, as Hoge notes, being scared of Olin hampered the team. In fact, Kreutz's presence was so large that when left to sign with the Saints in 2011, some local sports reporters commented to the effect that "Now this can be Jay's team."

      It was also Urlacher's team, and there likely has never been a professional athlete in this town as ungrateful and ingracious. (Cutler, too, has been known to voice his exasperation with the fans who pay his salary. Perhaps if Lovie Smith - and Jerry Angelo - had been as forthright as Trestman and not treated the team's inner thinking and locker room as sacred halls of Olympus, unnecessary drama would have been averted; we might still be paying for that one in watching an obviously hobbled Cutler staying in the Lions game too long, perhaps to prove a point.)

      Trestman played the game, in college if not the NFL, and has held innumerable coaching positions. He's been inside football culture his whole life. But he's also long been a forward-looking innovator unafraid of change. And, eat your heart out Theo, he's a guru of player development. He succeeds by doing the right thing, not in spite of it.

      We didn't love Lovie, but in Trestman we trust.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      -

      1. From Walt Jakielski:

      That was a great article. As a longtime Chicago Bears fan (50 years & counting), your article reflected my feelings exactly. I really admire Mr. Trestman. Thanks.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:43 AM | Permalink

      Congressional Compromise On Transparency Leaves Obama's Military Aid In Shadows

      Earlier this year, we detailed the Obama administration's opposition to congressional efforts to require more oversight of aid to foreign militaries and police forces.

      Security assistance - a broad category that covers about $25 billion in yearly spending on everything from sending equipment to Israel to training Afghan officers - skyrocketed in the wake of 9/11, growing by 227 percent from 2002 to 2012.

      A slew of recent reports from government watchdog agencies have found a glaring lack of accountability around such security assistance.

      In 2012, Congress drafted a bill that would have subjected all foreign aid, including security assistance, to stricter monitoring and transparency requirements.

      As we reported, the Pentagon successfully opposed the effort for security aid. The bill never made it to a vote.

      When the bill was reintroduced this year, congressional staffers worried that military aid would again escape increased oversight.

      But last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a compromise: The bill requires the administration to develop standards for all aid, but allows for more flexibility on military aid -- so long as the administration can show that a program already has sufficient oversight.

      The Secretary of State can also waive transparency requirements if he determines it is in the "national interest" of the U.S., or to protect the "health or security" of another country.

      While "weaker" than previous versions, the bill "is a good step in the right direction," said Lora Lumpe, senior policy analyst with the Open Society Foundations. It "keeps pressure on the administration to come up with credible monitoring and evaluation plans for security assistance," she said.

      A spokeswoman for Ben Cardin, D-Md., who co-sponsored the bill, said that the changes came about in months of negotiations with the State and Defense Departments.

      The transparency legislation has been championed by a curious alliance of Tea Party Republicans and prominent aid groups such as Oxfam. Foreign aid makes up only about one percent of the federal budget, but it is a favorite target for budget hawks. Aid groups, for their part, see more transparency as a way to justify their efforts.

      The latest bill requires the administration to publish aid data on a country-by-country, program-by-program basis on a public website. (That website, foreignassistance.gov, already exists, but with partial data. The bill makes the effort law.)

      A State Department advisers' report earlier this year recommended a complete overhaul of the government's approach to security assistance, calling for more interagency coordination and a bigger emphasis on non-military programs.

      Shortly after the report was released, the White House announced its own initiative to tackle the issue.

      -

      Previously:
      * Boy's Death In Drone Strike Tests Obama's Transparency Pledge.

      * Does The U.S. Pay When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

      * Obama's FOIA Fail.

      * Recovery Redacted.

      * Under Obama Administration, Renditions - And Secrecy Around Them - Continue.

      * The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

      * Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

      * What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

      * America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

      * Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

      * The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

      * America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

      * Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

      * Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

      * Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

      * NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

      * Does The NSA Tap That?

      * Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

      * NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

      * Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

      * The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

      * Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

      * Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

      * Obama Administration Helped Kill Transparency Push On Military Aid.

      * In Big Win For Defense Industry, Obama Rolls Back Limits On Arms Exports.

      -

      Comments welcome.


      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:39 AM | Permalink

      November 19, 2013

      Former Chicago Trader Is Human Behind Humans of New York

      "Modernism marked an aesthetic shift in the world of art," John Winters writes for the Brockton, Massachusetts Enterprise.

      "The idea or concept emerged to be just as important as content. The best exhibitions, of course, feature both.

      "Which brings us to Humans of New York, a collection of street photos by Brandon Stanton, a great idea that has produced some wonderful art - first, a blog full, and now an entire book. (See some of the photos.)

      "The beautiful volume virtually recreates the thrill of going to a compelling exhibition and wondering what's around the next corner. Crack open Humans of New York, and you can't stop turning the pages to see what street scene or interesting person pops up next. It's as an addictive art experience as I've ever had.

      "Stanton traded stocks for two years in Chicago before being laid off. He bought a camera with some money he'd won betting on football. With his free time, he started photographing people on the street, but hit pay dirt when he came to New York City.

      "There he found a bouillabaisse of normal, crazies, beauties, lovers, haters, heroes, losers, freaks, children and even two failed terrorists, each with a story to tell. When he began posting his work online, the project became the perfect mix of social media and social interaction. (By the time you read this, he'll have close to 2 million followers.). Meanwhile the book has already topped the Times bestseller list."

      *

      From Stanton's website bio:

      "During my senior year of college, I took out $3,000 in student loans and bet it on Barack Obama to win the presidency. A friend heard about this bet and got me a job trading bonds on the Chicago Board of Trade. I traded for three years. It went really well for awhile. But then it went really bad. Whoops.

      "After I lost my trading job, I decided to move to New York City and take portraits of strangers on the street. Mom wasn't too happy about that decision, but so far it's gone pretty well. I've taken nearly 5,000 portraits and written 50 stories. And I've met some amazing people along the way."

      *

      "With a combination of disarming folksiness and passable - though admittedly inexpert - photography skills, Mr. Stanton has achieved one of the most unlikely success stories in a city filled with them," Julie Bosman writes for the New York Times.

      "Now, hundreds of those pictures and interviews have been compiled into a book, Humans of New York, which has become an instant publishing phenomenon.

      "After its first week on sale last month, the book landed in the No. 1 spot on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list, catapulting past Bill O'Reilly's Killing Jesus."

      *

      "Stanton's daily quest to chronicle five or six interesting lives began as a hobby in 2010, when he was trading options in Chicago," Michael Kaplan writes for American Photo.

      The job became a grind and he unwound on the weekends by taking pictures downtown. After getting laid off, Stanton decided to focus on the single thing he loved doing: photographing interesting strangers on the street.

      The surprising but revelatory captions - such as one from a hookah-smoking fellow who declared, "Egypt is like a mango" - grew out of conversations with his subjects. His aha moment came after he posted an image of a green-haired woman dressed in green.

      "It wasn't a great photo; the lighting wasn't good and I botched the composition," he recalls. "But she said to me, 'I used to be a different color every day. Then one day I tried green and it was a really good day. I've been green every day for 15 years.'

      I put the photo up, added the caption, and it became the most popular photo I ever posted."

      "These days he routinely receives (and declines) corporate gigs, and offers for promotional deals roll in (he turned down Canon's social-media arm because they wanted him to promote a camera he doesn't use).

      "He did one gratis deal for Facebook - the company Stanton says played a major role in HONY's existence.

      "Facebook changed my life," he explains, adding that discussing it actually makes him emotional. "Everything has been possible for HONY because social-media platforms showed an interest in this new art form and found an audience for it. HONY would have a hard time flourishing under search engine optimization, which helps you find things you know you are looking for. Social media helps you find things you didn't know you were looking for."

      "Stubbornly independent, Stanton says that he has no problems with making money. But it has to be on his terms. He sold some prints to generate income and sold some more to help raise $250,000 for Hurricane Sandy relief. After DKNY used his images without permission, Stanton passed up the opportunity to sue or settle and received good-guy status for life by having the company make a $25,000 donation to the YMCA in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, where he works out every day."

      *

      From St. Martin's Press:

      "With 400 full-color photos and a distinctive vellum jacket."

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:32 AM | Permalink

      Random Food Report: McSeinfeld

      1. Cosmo Kramer Was Not Available For Comment.

      "McDonald's this week launched a pilot program under which patrons can build their own burgers," the Tribune notes.

      "The test, at two restaurants in the U.S., lets customers pick from a variety of toppings. To accommodate the change, and speed food delivery in general, the chain has begun outfitting stores with larger 'assembly tables' that can hold more ingredients."

      No worries - it's all supervised!


      -

      2. Starbucks Burnt.

      "Starbucks Corp on Wednesday said breaking up with Kraft was hard to do, but worth the high price, after an arbitrator ruled it must pay a whopping $2.76 billion for ending the companies' grocery coffee partnership early," Reuters reports.

      "The world's biggest coffee chain will restate results for the latest quarter to show an operating loss and issue debt following the bigger-than-expected award."

      The restated results will look something like this: "minus $2.76 billion."

      *

      "[This] is a one-time charge in a single moment in time, and now it's behind us," Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz restated on a conference call with analysts on Wednesday.

      "[This] was, without question, the right strategic decision for Starbucks, our brand and our shareholders," Schultz restated.

      "Oops," Schultz privately restated later.

      -

      3. Rick Bayless Doubles Down.

      "Scaffolding has appeared on the facade of the former Salud space on Milwaukee Avenue, meaning construction is underway on the first new stand-alone Rick Bayless restaurant in Chicago since XOCO opened more than four years ago," Eater reports.

      "In fact, that restaurant will be another XOCO - with a couple tweaks, Bayless says. But Bayless also says that his other new restaurant - on Randolph Row - will be 'a completely new concept that you've never seen before.'"

      That's a pretty big promise. We hope he didn't steal our idea for reprising the school lunchroom as a restaurant, or serving folks while sitting in airplane seats.

      Whatever the specific concept is, it's something that's been percolating in Bayless' brain for a long time. "We've been thinking (about Randolph) for quite some time," Bayless says. "That's the thing that we're really putting a lot of creative energy into, but working with the landlord on the lease was taking forever and ever and ever."

      He also says it's "sort of in the Frontera world but it's super rustic, and there's virtually nothing like it in the United States."

      So something that exists in the Mexico countryside . . .

      *

      As for Wicker Park, we still miss El Chino's.

      -

      4. The Menurkey For Thanksgivukkah.

      -

      5. Exporting Chicago.

      * Burger Joint Chicago Coming To Downtown Phoenix.

      "According to the restaurant's website, it operates one location on Franklin Street in Chicago. Its menu boasts hamburgers, gyros and a number of specialty French fry options such as spicy feta fries and blue cheese fries."

      * Restaurant Owner To Bring Chicago-Style Hot Dog Cuisine To Downtown Saline.

      That's in Michigan, and oddly the owner calls her joint The Detroit Dog Co.

      * Big Beef City Chicago-Style Restaurant In Packers Country.

      The Bears play the Packers again on December 29 - the last game of the regular season.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:17 AM | Permalink

      Local Music Notebook: Uncle Tupelo For Christmas

      1. Uncle Tupelo's Pivotal Debut No Depression To Be Reissued In January.

      "The release will be a special two-disc expanded edition featuring rare and previously unreleased material," Twang Nation reports.

      This is a pretty big move, considering that UT founders Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar apparently haven't been on speaking terms since the band's bitter breakup. At the same time, their involvement in the project isn't clear.

      "The reissue will also include bonus tracks that appear on the album's 2003 reissue; songs taken from their 1983 self-released Live and Otherwise cassette; and five cuts off the band's 1987 demo Colorblind and Rhymeless."

      American Songwriter reports that "On November 29, Legacy will kick things off with the release exclusive 7" vinyl single of Uncle Tupelo's cover of The Stooges' 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' for Record Store Day's Back to Black Friday. The B side features the band's take on Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Commotion.'"

      The original recording of the No Depression title track:

      *

      Performed at Lounge Ax with a pre-Bottle Rockets Brian Henneman, 1992:

      *

      In St. Louis, 1994:

      -

      2. Listen To A Song From The First Lawrence Arms Album In Eight Years.

      "There's a lyric on Metropole, the new album from the Lawrence Arms, that goes, 'I blinked twice and 20 years went by.' Fortunately, it hasn't been quite that long but still, the Lawrence Arms, one of punk's most beloved bands, have not released a new album in nearly eight years," Noisey/Vice reports.

      "For a while there, it looked like there might not ever be another album from the Arms. Guitarist/singer Chris McCaughan moved from Chicago to Portland, drummer Neil Hennessy was active with Smoking Popes and Treasure Fleet, and bassist/singer Brendan Kelly became a dad twice over.

      "But then, as if out of nowhere, the members announced that they were writing new songs together, and then recording them, and now, here we are, only a few weeks away from a full-on new release from the band."

      Here's the early release:

      -

      3. Rockie Fresh: I Have A Dream Job.

      Draws from a range of influences, having lived all over Chicago including the suburbs, and finding that genres like alternative rock and EDM touch him more than rap. Also: How his love of sneaker culture lead to a deal with Puma.

      -

      4. Chief Keef All Glowed Up.

      After drug rehab, he's slated to perform community service at an Illinois horse therapy center.

      Why?

      "I like working with kids, that's why."

      -

      5. Remembering Joe Kelley.

      "Joe Kelley, who played bass and guitar for the group The Shadows of Knight and was a major blues guitarist in the Chicago area, died after battling cancer," Vintage Vinyl News reported in September.

      We note it now because we just came across this tasty 1966 recording from Kelley's The Shadows of Knight:

      "After performing in and around Chicago's Northwest suburbs in 1964 and 1965, The Shadows of Knight became the house band at The Cellar in Arlington Heights," YouTube uploader Freedom writes.

      "A performance in support of The Byrds at Chicago's McCormick Place in early summer 1965 attracted the attention of Dunwich Records record producers Bill Traut and George Badonski. During that show, they performed 'Gloria' by Van Morrison's Northern Irish band Them. The band signed with Dunwich shortly thereafter and recorded 'Gloria' as a first effort.

      "Released in December 1965, 'Gloria' received massive regional airplay. The band had slightly altered the song's lyrics, replacing Morrison's original 'she comes to my room, then she made me feel alright' with 'she called out my name, that made me feel alright"'after influential Chicago station WLS had banned Them's original version.

      "This simple change overcame the prevalent AM radio censorship of the era, and got The Shadows of Knight's cover version of the song onto the playlist of WLS, which had censored the original.

      "The single reached the No. 1 position on the radio station's countdown, as well as on local rival WCFL. On the Billboard national charts, 'Gloria' rose to No. 10. The secondary publication Cashbox ranked 'Gloria' as high as No. 7. In Canada the song reached No. 8 on the RPM Magazine charts. 'Gloria' sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A."

      *

      Also:

      "Initially formed in 1964 as simply The Shadows, the band learned in spring 1965 of an existing British group, The Shadows. A friend of theirs, Whiz Winters, who worked for their manager, Paul Sampson in his record shop, came up with the name The Shadows of Knight to tie into the British Invasion in music of that time, and because all four of the band members attended Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, whose sports team had the name The Knights."

      *

      From Teardrop Records:

      "As the 1960s came to a close, Joe Kelley was earning a reputation as one of the hottest blues guitarist in Chicago. Joe honed his guitar and vocal skills on Chicago's South Side, working with many of the blues greats including Sam Lay. Joe spent many a late night and early morning taking in the wisdom of the great Willie Dixon. Joe has recorded with Wild Child Butler and Long John Hunter."

      His debut solo record: The Blue Shadow.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:59 AM | Permalink

      The [Tuesday] Papers

      "Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pitching the $70 million he expects to collect from speed camera tickets next year as a way to help children - spending the windfall on a mix of after-school programs, early childhood education, summer jobs, violence reduction, crossing guards, police outside schools and other efforts," the Tribune reports.

      "I promised that the revenue from new speed camera enforcement in children's safety zones would go to keeping our children safe, and this budget does exactly that," Emanuel said as he presented his spending plan last month. "We will be creating a Children's Fund to ensure that this . . . new money is dedicated to keeping our kids learning and safe."

      Of course, there's a catch. A huge one.

      "There is no children's fund in the proposed city budget. Instead, the money from speed camera fines will go straight into the city's $3.3 billion general fund to spend as the mayor and City Council see fit."

      Um, wow? What a great story.

      Unfortunately, the Trib mucks it up the rest of the way.

      "Talking about helping children is more politically palatable than discussing the revenue from speed cameras that drivers are starting to pay."

      I've never understood why reporters (and/or editors) find it necessary to plant such observations in their stories. In many cases, they serve to tell readers that "this is just what they do; don't be alarmed."

      In other cases, like this one, it's blindingly obvious. Just stick to the story.

      "If all of that sounds a little familiar, it should. Longtime Illinois residents remember a similar approach used to sell the state lottery in 1973. Lawmakers said all the proceeds would go to education. What they didn't advertise was that a like amount of money that had been going to schools was shifted to other programs - a move critics slammed as a shell game."

      Um, why go back to 1973 to find an example that sort of fits? That was 40 years ago!

      Why not just stick to the current duplicity you've just revealed?

      "A real children's fund would be one in which the lines went into a special fund and can only be spent for these purposes, and that's not what they're doing," said Dick Simpson, a former alderman and political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

      It's not Simpson's fault but, yes, we get that already! There is no Children's Fund. What of it?!

      "The mayor also is making a for-the-children pitch to sell a 75-cents-a-pack cigarette tax increase, saying it will pay for more free vision care and health care for Chicago Public Schools students. The smoke tax hike is expected to bring in about $10 million next year, but only about $1.1 million will be spent on the children. The rest goes into the general fund to help balance the budget."

      Yes, that's very interesting, but what about the non-existent Children's Fund? Did you run out of things to say about it?

      "The mayor defends the kids-first theme by noting that the federal government has cut grant funding for children's programs in recent years."

      I don't see the connection; because the feds have cut funding to children the mayor has to make up a kids-first theme to . . . fill the gap with . . . deceitful rhetoric?

      "This year the city lost $6.6 million in Head Start funding, used for early childhood education, because of automatic U.S. government spending cuts known as sequestration, city officials said."

      And that's a big, underplayed story. But it's not this one.

      "The city also has lost funding for after-school programming and summer jobs for youths, they added."

      Therefore, the city will make up a fund that doesn't really exist?

      "Despite those cuts and the loss of other funding, the city has maintained or increased spending on those programs during Emanuel's tenure, which began in mid-2011. The speed camera revenue will allow the city to fill those gaps and keep up with current spending levels should there be future cuts, the mayor told the Tribune editorial board."

      So what's happening now in this story is that it's being shaped by Rahm's pushback; sure there's no Children's Fund, but look at how much I'm spending on children! (And has that claim been vetted?)

      "The idea is to make sure 'the kids are held harmless,'" Emanuel said. "Whether it's after-school, summer jobs, pre-K, library (learning programs), crossing guards, police officers in front of schools that we have, those are the resources coming out of the safety zones that will pay for those, all those so the kids are never . . . at risk."

      I think the Trib left out "The idea behind the fund that doesn't exist . . . "

      And now we're a long way from the opening of this story. Are you trying to make us forget what drew us to it in the first place? In other words, what about the freakin' non-existent Children's Fund?

      "City budget officials say that the term 'children's fund' refers to $73 million that will be spent next year on after-school programs, early childhood education, summer jobs, violence reduction efforts, homeless youth programs, library programs, crossing guards and cops outside schools."

      Finally, back to the topic at hand. Now, city budget officials may say that, but Rahm clearly said "We will be creating a Children's Fund to ensure that this . . . new money is dedicated to keeping our kids learning and safe."

      That means a "fund" that is "dedicated," which in budget parlance means a pool of money with its own bank account or line item that can only be spent in a narrowly prescribed way. Instead, there's no guarantee that any camera revenue will be spent on children.

      "The city paid for those programs this year mostly out of the general fund before the first speed camera ever went up."

      Which is how they're saying they'll pay for the programs next year, too. There is no Children's Fund!

      "Some of the programs will be expanded next year."

      To not be paid for out of the Children's Fund!

      "The cost of the expansion and making up for other funding losses add up to at most $21 million, by the Budget Department's own reckoning.

      "The mayor, however, did not a create a special fund to limit spending of speed camera money solely to children's programs."

      Yes, we get that! Is this the most frustrating great story ever? There is no Children's Fund! Focus, people!

      "That would have boxed Emanuel and aldermen in during tight budget times, and the speed cameras are expected to bring in far more than the $70 million predicted next year."

      A) Why would that box in the mayor and aldermen any more than any other dedicated funding streams the city has? And what's wrong with a Children's Fund that would be safe even in bad times? That seems like a pretty good idea. Not only that, this is a news story - why is the Trib explaining away the mayor's deceit to make it seem rational?

      B) If the speed cameras are expected to bring in far more than predicted, wouldn't that argue in favor of setting at least a portion of that money aside in a Children's Fund that would actually exist? Is the Trib making an editorial judgement that that that's too much money for a Children's Fund?

      "The whole idea (the mayor presents) is it's all for the children, it's all for the safety of the kids," said Ald. Nicholas Sposato, 36th, who last year voted against allowing the speed cameras. "We all know it's about revenue."

      Now this is on-point. If it wasn't about the revenue, the revenue (arguably) wouldn't be used to fill gaps elsewhere in the budget. It would be about the children, and the money would be dedicated to . . . a Children's Fund!

      "To sell the speed cameras and cigarette tax revenue, Emanuel also is touting other benefits for children. With traffic slowed near schools and parks, kids will be safer, and with cigarette taxes higher, fewer kids are likely to take up smoking, he says."

      Okay, so the Trib clearly decided to take the angle on this story that the mayor says a lot of things are for kids, and, well, they just might be!

      I think there's a better angle. This episode certainly does sound familiar, but it's not the lottery that it recollects, but the mayor's previous falsehoods about his camera programs - as reported in part by the Tribune.

      And just last May, the city's inspector general "found that Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) was unable to substantiate its claims that the City chose to install and maintain red-light cameras at intersections with the highest angle crash rates in order to increase safety."

      That's the history that is repeating itself. And it's not just cameras.

      Just for starters, see:

      * Rahm's Fake Jobs.

      * Rahm's Pants Still Aflame.

      * The Moneyball Mayor's Credibility Gap.

      * Emanuel's Charter Stats Don't Add Up.

      * Emanuel Errs On Charter Performance.

      * Emanuel's 'Data Mayor' Image Doesn't Add Up.

      And, of course:

      * The Mayor, The Lobbyist And The 6-Year-Old Girl.

      That's the story. The Children's Fund is just the cherry on top.

      *

      "Budget Director Alexandra Holt also noted during budget hearings that about $3 million in speed camera revenue is going to be spent on so-called traffic calming devices, like speed bumps, and other traffic safety infrastructure, like street signs."

      So that $3 million won't be available for the non-existent Children's Fund.

      *

      "Selling a state lottery or new speed cameras by saying all the revenue is for the kids is a common political tactic that's hardly unique to Emanuel."

      Thanks for explaining that, Tribune!

      Rewrite: "Lying is a common political tactic that's hardly unique to Emanuel."

      And: "Therefore, we're not too upset about it. We're just passing it on."

      *

      "'It's the sugar-coating on the pill,' said DePaul University Professor Emeritus H. Woods Bowman, a government finance expert, former state lawmaker and onetime Cook County chief financial officer."

      First, it's not the sugar-coating on the pill. Sugar-coating on the pill would be something that makes the pill easier to swallow. Money going into a Children's Fund might do that. This story is about how there's no Children's Fund!

      In other words, I swallowed that pill thinking it would go down easier because of its sugar-coating and it turned out to not be coated in sugar at all! Now I'm choking!

      Second, you had to interview a government finance expert for that? Perhaps a government finance expert instead could examine budget documents to vet Rahm's claims about how much money he's spending on children - or better yet, explain the complex financial mechanisms that go into funding programs out of imaginary funds. (How do they do it? Volume.)

      "As Emanuel heads into the home stretch of budget approval, the welfare of children has become a central theme of his administration. For example, he mentioned children, kids or youths 32 times in his budget address.

      "'Our first and most important investment is in the children of Chicago,' he said early on, and later he noted that as a youngster he used to make hospital rounds once a month with his pediatrician father."

      And sometimes beat the shit out of his father's patients.

      But why spoil such a Hallmark ending. Isn't Rahm great?

      -

      By the way, for the holidays this year Rahm encourages you to donate to The Human Fund.

      *

      Uncle Tupelo For Christmas
      Plus: The Return Of The Lawrence Arms, Rockie Fresh's Chicagoland Influences, Chief Keef All Glowed Up & Goodbye To The Blue Shadow. In our Local Music Notebook.

      Former Chicago Trader Is Human Behind Humans of New York
      It all started here - when he lost his job.

      McSeinfeld & The Menurkey
      In our Random Food Report.

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Human funded.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:38 AM | Permalink

      November 18, 2013

      The [Monday] Papers

      So it turns out I chose a really bad time to upgrade my operating system this morning because it took way longer to install than I imagined. Now it's afternoon and I have to move on to other pressing duties, so I can't do a column today. I can offer some other posts on the site, however, and I'll scrape the weekend's highlights from the Beachwood Twitter feed to at least offer something for those who aren't already following it. Which you should do.

      Tornado Watch
      Essential news and views - including the Peoria anchors who had to evacuate while on the air.

      SportsMonday: Tiebreakers
      The Bears have been just good enough, and the Lions and Packers just bad enough, that it all still matters.

      Sunlight Files Government Spending FOIA Lawsuit
      Particularly important as the development of HealthCare.gov continues to come under scrutiny.

      For example:

      The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services originally signed a contract for "Enterprise System Development" in 2007, which eventually came to include work on the health exchange website, yet it is very difficult to find the original solicitation for the contract.

      The Week In Chicago Rock
      Featuring: Anti-Mortem, Monster Magnet, Built to Spill, Escort, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, Slayer, Slam Dunk, Citizen, Krewella, The Warm Hair, Polar Bear Club, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Michael Nesmith, The Mississippi Stranglers, Hi Rez, Fates Warning, Matthew Morgan & The Lost Brigade, Oneohtrix Point Never, Alkaline Trio, and Deep Fayed.

      -

      *

      *

      *

      *

      *

      *

      *

      *

      *

      *

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Mavericks.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:38 PM | Permalink

      Sunlight Files Government Spending FOIA Lawsuit

      The Sunlight Foundation today filed its first ever Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Sunlight is filing suit against the General Services Administration because the GSA is six months behind on a FOIA request for federal government contract information maintained by the website FedBizOpps.gov.

      "We are pursuing litigation as a way to support the work of Sunlight's technology arm, Sunlight Labs," says Ginger McCall, federal policy manager at the Sunlight Foundation. "The information we are requesting will give more oversight to how government contracts are bid, awarded and managed."

      This FOIA lawsuit is particularly important as the development of HealthCare.gov continues to come under scrutiny.

      The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services originally signed a contract for "Enterprise System Development" in 2007, which eventually came to include work on the health exchange website, yet it is very difficult to find the original solicitation for the contract.

      In May 2013, Sunlight sent a FOIA request to the GSA requesting a copy of all contract notices posted on the federal government website, Fedbizopps.gov, since 2000. These notices would allow Sunlight Labs developers (and members of the press or researchers) to analyze government spending patterns for inaccuracies, corruption and waste.

      Fedbizopps.gov, often shortened to fbo.gov, posts information about federal contracting opportunities and awards, as well as notices when a contract is sole-sourced without competition. However, fbo.gov users can only search its online archives from the previous year, preventing the public from researching the original solicitations when a contract goes bad.

      As Sunlight's analyses at Clearspending.org note, there are often huge discrepancies in government spending reports. The data we requested under FOIA would enable us to inspect those discrepancies on the procurement side, figure out where government money is going, and look for patterns related to no bid or low bid contracts. Once we get the notices from the GSA, we plan to make the data available to the public so that others can analyze it, as well.

      Learn more about why Sunlight sued the GSA on our blog, and read the full complaint filed with the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia here.

      -

      See also: Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:42 AM | Permalink

      Tornado Watch 2013

      1. WHOI-TV in Peoria Evacuates While On The Air.


      -

      2. AP: Deadly Storms Strike Midwest.

      -

      3. AP: Midwest Cleanup Underway After Sunday Storms.

      -

      4. Good Morning America's Monday roundup.

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      5. ABCNews.com: Man Recites Lord's Prayer As Tornado Rips Through Backyard.

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      6. CBS2 Chicago: Belongings Flung From Central Illinois To Chicago Suburbs.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:47 AM | Permalink

      SportsMonday: Tiebreakers

      Let's hear it for the defense!

      The Bear D gave up some long drives on Sunday and some big plays right from the start. But in the end they held the Ravens to 20 points and tossed in a touchdown to boot. That was just good enough for a 23-20 overtime triumph.

      And sure enough, the always reliable Lions dropped a winnable game (they scored 27 points in the second quarter alone!) versus Pittsburgh and the Midway Monsters moved right back into a tie for first place in the North Division.

      Yes, I know Detroit owns the tie-breaker. And yes the Lions lost on the road while the Bears barely eked one out at home and now play four of their next five games on the road. I've got it, OK? There will be plenty of time to talk about that tomorrow, or whenever.

      And on an even brighter side, the Packers lost again. This has been a delightful run of Packer ineptitude, has it not? Another ugly setback (27-13 to the Giants) dropped Green Bay to 5-5.

      Oh, and if the Pats can knock off the Panthers this evening, the Bears will also be tied for the top NFC wild card spot. And yes, the potential tiebreakers there don't look so good either, but hey, when teams have the same record they are tied, OK?!

      But back to the defense - it still seems as tough they are oftentimes playing without linebackers, like on the Ravens offense's second freaking play from scrimmage, when Ray Rice cut upfield through a hole untouched and traveled 47 yards before he was finally nudged out of bounds.

      Coming into the game, Rice was struggling to average even two yards per carry and the near universal assessment was that he was on the downside of his run as a top NFL running back. Thanks to the Bears, for a week at least, his career trajectory has at least leveled off a bit.

      Rookie linebacker Khaseem Greene in particular is completely lost out there, but fellow first-year man Jon Bostic seemed to make a few positive strides on Sunday, at least after the Ravens' first two possessions.

      "Bostic says he's feeling more and more comfortable in pass coverage," Dan Wiederer reports for the Tribune, "and provided supporting evidence with his second-quarter interception on a Joe Flacco pass to Dallas Clark. Bostic ran right with Clark up the seam and made an athletic, twisting catch."

      In the secondary, safety Chris Conte again put himself in position to make a play or two and when he does make a big play at some point (an interception of a brutal overthrow doesn't count), that will really be something.

      Major Wright didn't embarrass himself, and I suppose we'll take that even though it seemed as though it was the case because he was usually playing even further off the line of scrimmage than usual despite the fact that the Raven receiving corps isn't exactly the fastest in the league.

      And the wind helped, a lot. Way to go wind! The Ravens were seriously limited moving against it in the fourth quarter, until of course they drove 81 yards to the Bears' three until having to settle for a game-tying field goal.

      A quick paragraph or three about the quarterbacks. I had a chance to listen to Mully and Hanley for a little while this morning on The Score and they were full-throated in their defense of Jay Cutler and their belief that he is absolutely the guy who should be the team's primary signal-caller going forward. And I would agree that when Cutler is healthy again, he should return to the lineup. But after this season is a very different story.

      People talking about players' contracts ranks just above people talking about dental work on my list of conversational favorites, but banter about Cutler's free agent future is certainly more compelling than most such discussions. And if I'm the Bears, no way am I throwing the bank at this guy. He is brittle (in part because the line was so bad during his first four years here) and he is still prone to the monstrously stupid interceptions that lose games all by themselves.

      In the off-season, the Bears should be looking to re-sign Josh McCown at least at the same time as Cutler and Cutler's deal has to be cap-friendly.

      If you lose him because some other team throws goofy money at him, oh well. But that isn't likely to happen. Cutler knows he would be lucky to find as good an offensive situation (coaching, receivers and line) elsewhere. And he is, of course, the one who is always talking about the fact that this is again his first year in the current system (which has been the case each time the Bears have brought in new coordinators during the past five years). It will take a lot for him to give up another couple years with Trestman.

      But there are still (at least) six more games to go this season and who knows what we will learn during that time. Thankfully the Bears have been just good enough, and the Lions and Packers just bad enough, that it all still matters.

      -

      Field Note:

      Editor: Why did they start that game and then get caught not getting the field covered during the storm? Total lunacy . . .

      Coffman: Because it wouldn't have been a true Bears season without at least one game featuring players ripping up giant clumps of turf.

      -

      See also:

      * McCown: "I'm The Back-Up Quarterback On This Team."

      * Hoge: Rookies Come Through On Defense.

      * Potash: David Bass Was 'In Right Place At The Right Time' During Key Interception Return For TD.

      * Campbell: Gould Kicks 11th Career Game-Winning Field Goal.

      * Dickerson: Bears Guilty Of Season-High 13 Penalties.

      * View From Baltimore: Weather Story Undercovered.

      -

      In Trestman We Trust, Man

      -

      Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:14 AM | Permalink

      The Weekend In Chicago Rock

      You shoulda been there.

      1. Anti-Mortem at the Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.


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      2. Monster Magnet at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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      3. Built to Spill at the Metro on Thursday night.

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      4. Escort at the Metro on Saturday night.

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      5. JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound at the Metro on Saturday night.

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      6. Slayer at the Aragon on Friday night.

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      7. Slam Dunk at the Metro on Thursday night.

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      8. Citizen at Subterranean on Friday night.

      -

      9. Krewella at the Aragon on Saturday night.

      -

      10. The Warm Hair at the Metro on Thursday night.

      -

      11. Polar Bear Club at Subterranean on Friday night.

      -

      12. Cymbals Eat Guitars at Schubas on Friday night.

      -

      13. Michael Nesmith at City Winery on Friday night.

      -

      14. The Mississippi Stranglers at Elevenzees for ChillFest on Saturday.

      -

      15. Hi Rez at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.

      -

      16. Fates Warning at Mojoes in Joliet on Friday night.

      -

      17. Matthew Morgan & the Lost Brigade at the Jackson Junge Gallery for ChillFest on Saturday.

      -

      18. Oneohtrix Point Never at the Constellation on Friday night.

      -

      19. Alkaline Trio at the Aragon on Sunday night.

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      20. Deep Fayed at Sugar Fly for ChillFest on Saturday.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:49 AM | Permalink

      November 16, 2013

      The Weekend Desk Report

      Tough week to be a well-known brand from Michigan.

      Market Update
      It doesn't matter how fair and transparent you try to make it, when you Divvy things up, someone always feels like they're getting screwed.

      Fair's Fair
      CPS naturally believes all schools are fair. It's just some schools are more fair than others.

      Hoppin' Hopkins
      It looks as though a challenger has arisen in Chicago's second ward, although neither he nor incumbent Ald. Bob Fioretti live in the second. Because the new second ward can only be reached through the back of a magic wardrobe.

      Charred Bucks
      We'll always root for the little guy, even if Starbucks has a point about this whole Charbucks confusion thing.

      Buried Treasure
      Finally this week, it seems the global economy is less keen to tear open the planet and extract its riches. Maybe for a change they could try putting some if it back.

      -

      The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Giving back.

      -

      The College Football Report: Is on its bye week.

      -

      The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: The Ravens aren't great and the Bears aren't bad.

      -

      The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg take aim at the year's biggest musical disappointments during the annual Sound Opinions Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot. Later, they review Lady Gaga, and Jim takes a trip to the desert island.

      -

      The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

      Perspectivas Latinas: Family Focus

      10-28-FamilyFocus.jpg

      Family Focus Center director Mariana Osoria gives insight into the effectiveness of parenting, leadership, and other social skills training in improving employment opportunities.

      Saturday at 9 p.m. on CAN TV21.

      -

      Illinois Association of Hispanic State Employees Conference

      The 26th Annual Hispanic State Employees Conference, "Reinforcing our Roots in the Latino Community."

      Morning Session

      11-11-IAHSE-am.jpg

      Cook County commissioner Jesus Garcia joins other Latino leaders in discussing the state of Latino leadership in government today.

      Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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      Keynote & Awards

      11-11-IAHSE-Keynote.jpg

      Keynote speaker Antonio R. Flores, president & CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and University, discusses issues facing Latinos today.

      Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

      -

      Eyes On Chicago

      11-11-EyesOnChicago.jpg

      Police superintendent Gary McCarthy and 20th Ward Alderman Willie Cochran discuss gun violence and development at this neighborhood meeting.

      Monday at 9 p.m. on CAN TV19.

      Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:13 AM | Permalink

      November 15, 2013

      The [Friday] Papers

      "A new Ventra problem emerged Thursday in connection with the commuter benefits program, which offers tax advantages to employers and their employees to pay for transit fares using pretax income. Employees who formerly had their pretax money loaded onto Chicago Cards are now being transitioned to Ventra cards," Jon Hilkevitch reports for the Tribune reports.

      "But Thursday's debut of the Ventra commuter benefits website included instances of employees being associated with the wrong employers, several company administrators told the Tribune.

      "CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase confirmed that the transit agency received calls from 'a few employers' on the issue. A preliminary analysis indicates that no employer or employee information was compromised, she said.

      "But asked specifically by the Tribune whether employees' Social Security numbers and other private information was breached, Chase responded: 'We contacted Cubic, because it is their website and they are in the process of resolving the issue.'

      "Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., is the Ventra contractor. Cubic's policy is to refer all media questions on Ventra to the CTA, Cubic spokeswoman Kim Gregory said."

      What a Loop of Hell. It's like Comcast referring you to Peoples Gas and getting referred back again.

      But that's not all.

      "A new problem is hitting the Chicago Transit Authority's Ventra fare system, and this one potentially is much more serious than mere passenger inconvenience," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

      "According to JPMorgan Chase & Co., which has more retail customers in the Chicago area than any other bank, the Ventra system is deducting funds from the accounts of some clients whose Chase debit cards are supposed to work only if the customer punches in an authorizing personal identification number.

      "It has occurred when a CTA rider swiped their wallet or purse as they boarded a CTA vehicle, and the Ventra station reads and charges not the number on the Ventra card but a Chase debit card in the same wallet or purse."

      (Isn't that the same problem the Sun-Times reported on in September? Ventra: What's Not In Your Wallet.)

      It gets better.

      "CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase suggested the problem is at Chase's end, not the CTA's or that of Ventra provider Cubic Transportation Systems."

      Comcast says it's Sprint's problem, not AOL's! It's the Triple Lindy!

      *

      Even before these latest problems it had been an awful week for Ventra.

      On Monday, Jason Prechtel reported for Gapers Block that Cubic has a long record of dismal failure that spans the globe.

      On Tuesday, the Tribune reported that "A CTA public budget hearing [Tuesday] turned into a forum for commuters to air their grievances over the troubled Ventra fare-payment system."

      (CTA board members didn't respond to the complaining public speakers, which is frustrating, but at least they didn't tell them to go complain to Cubic instead. This, though, did happen.)

      On Wednesday, the Tribune reported that "The troubled Ventra fare-payment system took another hit during the Wednesday evening rush hour when some card readers at 60 of the CTA's 145 train stations failed, resulting in 15,000 free rides for commuters before the problem was fixed, according to the agency."

      And yet, Rahm Emanuel is standing by Ventra - and CTA president Forrest Claypool.

      The Ventra folks are not returning the favor.

      "The driving force here is the Chicago Transit Authority putting everyone on notice that they had to convert to a new card in a very short time period," Jay Thomas, Cubic's chief financial officer, told the company's hometown newspaper. "It's an unusual rollout strategy, but it is what the customer wanted to do."

      I'm gonna enter the realm of speculation here and guess that - besides Rahm's famous and intemperate impatience - the last thing the mayor wanted was to introduce Ventra in the winter. Could you imagine how much more miserable and maddening this would be in the dead of January? So it's entirely possible the CTA rushed the rollout.

      I don't see how Claypool isn't culpable, either. Obviously the right controls and testing weren't in place - particularly for a company with Cubic's track record (which makes one wonder how they got the contract in the first place).

      Somehow, though, I don't think we'll ever get a (sincere) "It's on me" out of Rahm.

      *

      *

      *

      There are deeper questions to ask about Ventra, though, and Mark W. Anderson of NBC's Ward Room blog is among those who have been asking them. From a series of his posts:

      1. The Money Trail Part 1.

      Public-private partnerships (PPPs), like the one the CTA entered into to run Ventra, involve all parties getting something out of the deal. For the CTA, it looks easy: they don't have to be in the fare collecting business anymore. And, a new contactless fare system can provide riders with an enhanced level of convenience.

      But for the "private" part of the PPP, there has to be a very good reason to enter into an agreement with a public agency that is looking to offload an asset or a service to someone else. After all, if the public agency can't make money performing the service, how can an outside company hope to do better?

      For the private partners in Ventra, the answer is simple: start adding fees to the process that didn't exist before, and hope no one really notices.

      Key to such a strategy involves adding another "service", i.e. revenue stream, to the once-simple fare collection process that can be completely controlled by the outside, private partner but enjoys access to the captive audience delivered by the public entity.

      Hence, the pre-paid debit card option offered by CTA's partner in Ventra, Metabank.

      With a minimum of discussion and seemingly very little oversight, the CTA delivered 1.6 million riders a day to a private, outside company that just happens to be in the business of - in its own words - personal banking services including checking, savings, CDs, loans, debit cards, credit cards, retirement planning, trust services, and much more.

      As part of the deal, Metabank inserted an "optional" prepaid debit card run by Mastercard right onto the Ventra fare card itself, in order to provide what both public and private partners in the deal are touting as additional convenience.

      Yet it's long been known in the banking community that such cards have historically been used heavily by the underbanked and unbanked population, which is often poorer and less sophisticated than other, wealthier demographics.

      And that the way to make money from what is seen by other banking providers as an undesirable customer base is to add expensive fees and charges to everyday transactions, such as using the card to make purchases and keep daily account balances.

      2. The Money Trail Part 2.

      "Ventra, the new CTA transit fare collection system, includes a pre-paid debit card function that gives riders the ability to load up their cards with funds and to use their transit card as a debit card.

      Many CTA riders are not accustomed to using their fare card to make purchases at the grocery store, for instance, but Ventra offers that option. Some riders who take advantage of this feature are going to encounter fees.

      It's a strategy that could well be used by CTA's banking partner in the Ventra program, Metabank, to make money off of transit riders who take advantage of an embedded prepaid debit card function on the Ventra card.

      Could is an operative word here. No one seems to know exactly how Metabank makes money from the Ventra deal. CTA officials say they don't know either.

      There are literally dozens of strategies a bank can use to turn a profit through fee collection.

      In fact, every Ventra card is delivered with a 12 page "Cardholder Agreement", a sure sign that the program is designed to do more than simply collect fares for daily public transit.

      In other words, what Ventra is designed to do has very little to do with convenience or efficiency but instead is a way to for selected financial services partners to issue debit cards to a captive audience. It's somewhat ingenious, if not downright sleazy. CTA's customers are now not only guinea pigs but marks.

      3. Metabank An Ethical Morass.

      The banking partner chosen as part of the Ventra program appears to have a long history of legal problems related to prior participation in prepaid debit schemes and other activities.

      Chicago values!

      *

      Okay, so what does the CTA get out of it?

      "[U]nder the Cubic contract, the CTA is guaranteed a minimum half-million dollars a year in nonfarebox revenue. Some of it will be paid by Ventra debit account customers who are assessed fees. For instance, the CTA will receive a portion of the $2 monthly inactivity fee that Ventra MasterCard customers will be charged if they don't use their retail card at least once over an 18-month period. The prepaid debit account program will be administered by First Data Corp."

      This is a really bad idea.

      *

      The Ventra system is, in effect, a transfer of wealth as private vendors prey on those who rely most on public transportation. The CTA will brag about its cut, but it comes from fees on passengers. For some, fares will become quite expensive!

      Meanwhile, another tradeoff that transfers wealth:

      "Coming a few days after Ventra's launch was another announcement - the elimination of 149 positions at CTA," Yana Kunichoff wrote for the Chicago Reporter in September.

      "About one-third of the jobs the Chicago Transit Board voted to remove will become redundant because of Ventra."

      This is what we're talking about when we talk about privatization: Less accountability, fewer jobs, more profits to the select few.

      Back to Kunichoff:

      "[T]he transition to Ventra was a move away from the CTA's 20-year-old fare collection system. 'When things get old and deteriorated enough, the technology is no longer available," [our old friend Tammy Chase] said. "Some of the jobs that we have had traditionally, where we would send a CTA employee out to fix [an issue,] now we don't have to do that anymore."

      This is not the first time the CTA has eliminated positions in the name of streamlining. It removed 200 jobs in 2011.

      "We are in the business of running trains and buses," said Chase, "not fixing fare equipment."

      Au contraire. Fixing fare equipment is part and parcel of running buses and trains. Maybe outsource your PR instead because you're not in the communications business!

      And that's what's really sad: The CTA, like the City itself, doesn't know what business it's in anymore. It's a classic business school case study, like when, to use a cliche, the horse-and-buggy people thought they were in the horse-and-buggy business when they were really in the transportation business. Dear CTA: You're not a bank.

      Another business school lesson: You have to own the customer experience from start to finish. Know your fare boxes, fix your fare boxes. Relying on contractors diffuses authority and accountability, and puts distance between yourself and the customer. Presuming you care about your customer.

      *

      Finally, just to add to the long list of things keeping you up at night: Cubic is also supplying our military with services such as combat training and advanced laser research.

      Kunichoff reports in another post that "Cubic provides weapons training for the military; offers technology that transmits surveillance data from unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones; and tracks assets all over the world for both private and military clients . . . In fact, the company's operations are so wide-ranging that its website says 'nearly every U.S. and allied soldier and fighter pilot has trained or will train for a mission using Cubic equipment.'"

      And then each soldier will be enrolled with a prepaid debit card!

      -

      The Week In Chicago Rock
      Featuring: Mazzy Star, Sleigh Bells, EstaBoN, Tim Kasher, the Velcro Lewis Group, Albert Hammond Jr., Tony Lucca, Certified Crazy, Dysrhthymia, Tyranny Enthroned, Suffer The Wrath, Heather Green, Vicci Martinez, Jessie Ware, and HEMI.

      Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's
      Bar & grill.

      The College Football Report
      Is on its bye week.

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Prepaid.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:33 AM | Permalink

      The Week In Chicago Rock

      You shoulda been there.

      1. Mazzy Star at the Vic on Wednesday night.


      -

      2. Sleigh Bells at the Metro on Sunday night.

      -

      3. EstaBoN at Reggies on Sunday night.

      -

      4. Tim Kasher at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

      -

      5. The Velcro Lewis Group at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

      -

      6. Albert Hammond, Jr. at the Double Door on Wednesday night.

      -

      7. Tony Lucca at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

      -

      8. Certified Crazy at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge on Sunday night.

      -

      9. Dysrhythmia at the Ultra Lounge on Wednesday night.

      -

      10. Tyranny Enthroned at the Cobra Lounge on Monday night.

      -

      11. Suffer The Wrath at Cobra Lounge on Monday night.

      -

      12. Heather Green at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

      -

      13. Vicci Martinez at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

      -

      14. Jessie Ware at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

      -

      15. HEMI at the Ultra Lounge on Sunday night.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:14 AM | Permalink

      Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's

      Bar & grill.

      olanagansbarorig.JPG(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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      More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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      Helene on Twitter!

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      Meet Helene!

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      Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

      -

      Previously:
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:56 AM | Permalink

      November 14, 2013

      The [Thursday] Papers

      "U.S. agencies collected and shared the personal information of thousands of Americans in an attempt to root out untrustworthy federal workers that ended up scrutinizing people who had no direct ties to the U.S. government and simply had purchased certain books," McClatchy reports.

      "Federal officials gathered the information from the customer records of two men who were under criminal investigation for purportedly teaching people how to pass lie detector tests. The officials then distributed a list of 4,904 people - along with many of their Social Security numbers, addresses and professions - to nearly 30 federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

      "Although the polygraph-beating techniques are unproven, authorities hoped to find government employees or applicants who might have tried to use them to lie during the tests required for security clearances. Officials with multiple agencies confirmed that they'd checked the names in their databases and planned to retain the list in case any of those named take polygraphs for federal jobs or criminal investigations.

      "It turned out, however, that many people on the list worked outside the federal government and lived across the country. Among the people whose personal details were collected were nurses, firefighters, police officers and private attorneys, McClatchy learned. Also included: a psychologist, a cancer researcher and employees of Rite Aid, Paramount Pictures, the American Red Cross and Georgetown University.

      "Moreover, many of them had only bought books or DVDs from one of the men being investigated and didn't receive the one-on-one training that investigators had suspected. In one case, a Washington lawyer was listed even though he'd never contacted the instructors. Dozens of others had wanted to pass a polygraph not for a job, but for a personal reason: The test was demanded by spouses who suspected infidelity.

      "The unprecedented creation of such a list and decision to disseminate it widely demonstrate the ease with which the federal government can collect and share Americans' personal information, even when there's no clear reason for doing so."

      There's a lot more, so please click through.

      -

      Also:

      -

      Today's Worst People In Chicago - Again
      "Ten people - including two Daley family friends and some Chicago police officers - were granted immunity from prosecution after they initially refused to testify before the grand jury investigating the death of David Koschman, which led to a manslaughter charge against former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

      "The two Daley family friends - Kevin McCarthy and his wife Bridget Higgins McCarthy - were with Daley nephew Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko at the time he allegedly punched Koschman during a drunken confrontation on April 25, 2004, at Division and Dearborn.

      "Vanecko and another companion, Craig Denham, took off in a cab. The police stopped and questioned the McCarthys, who at first denied knowing the two men who fled as Koschman lay in the street with brain injuries.

      "Kevin McCarthy repeated that story when detectives showed up at his home a few hours later. His wife eventually identified Vanecko to detectives during an interview on May 13, 2004 - a week after Koschman died.

      "Bridget McCarthy, 35, is the daughter of developer Jack Higgins, a longtime friend of the mayor who was chosen to build the city's police headquarters. He recently was picked by the Illinois Medical District to redevelop part of its West Side campus.

      "The McCarthys and an unknown number of police officers testified before the grand jury with a grant of immunity from prosecution after first invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the Sun-Times has learned."

      The Sun-Times has previously reported detailed accounts of just how uncooperative and dissembling the McCarthys and Daley family friend Megan McDonald, who was once the city's director of special events, have been; I urge you to go back and refresh your memory here and here.

      *

      Related:

      "A judge denied a motion Wednesday to unseal the special prosecutor's report in the involuntary manslaughter case against former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew because it contains secret grand jury testimony but said he will make the report public after the nephew's trial," the Sun-Times reports.

      "Cook County Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin rejected a bid by the Chicago Sun-Times and WMAQ-Channel 5 to make the 162-page report public.

      "Toomin had sealed the report at the request of Dan K. Webb, the special prosecutor he appointed last year to reinvestigate the 2004 death of 21-year-old David Koschman of Mount Prospect and also to determine whether police and prosecutors should be charged over their handling of the high-profile case."

      I still find it exceedingly odd that the prosecutor would want the report kept sealed; no one has explained to me why that isn't odd or even inappropriate.

      "Webb argued its contents may 'stoke the fires of pretrial publicity,'" the Tribune reports.

      Unless that publicity would be sympathetic to Vanecko, and all indications are strongly to the contrary, I don't see how that's any of Webb's concern.

      *

      "Toomin said he plans to release Webb's report after Vanecko's trial. He ruled against a request by the Fraternal Order of Police - the union representing rank-and-file Chicago police officers - to permanently seal the documents, which union lawyers said could damage the reputations of officers named in the report."

      I get the fair trial issue. Vanecko is facing charges based solely on the events of the night at/outside that bar, not of the events that followed. A hullabaloo following the release of the report could potentially taint a jury, ostensibly putting Vanecko on trial in one or more minds for the whole stinking mess. I don't find that likely, however. I doubt it will be hard to find a jury pool who've never heard of Vanecko, even in a media firestorm. And should it be necessary, the defense could always request a change of venue.

      That report is the public's business, and I don't find Toomin's reasoning to keep it sealed - that there are no constitutional issues and that grand jury proceedings are generally kept secret - very persuasive.

      "The court filing said letting 3 1/2 months pass to ensure Vanecko would get a fair trial was a 'short, reasonable delay' that trumped any First Amendment issues," the Trib account says.

      I don't find even short delays "reasonable" when it comes to trumping the First Amendment, and that's really my objection to Toomin, not arguments like those in a Sun-Times's editorial, which strikes me as a bit of a stretch:

      "Every minute the release of the report is delayed is another minute the public is kept in the dark. If reform of the system is necessary, it's important the cleanup process begin as soon as possible."

      Um, yes. But really, this is about the right to a fair trial vs. the First Amendment and the public interest. In this case, a balance needn't be met, if, for example, a stalwart jury can still be empaneled or a change of venue does the trick.

      *

      "[Toomin's ruling] also stated that the vast majority of the report is based on materials gathered by a grand jury, which is generally barred by law from public release while a case is pending unless the judge determines it is in the interest of justice to do so," the Trib reports.

      To be sure, Toomin has determined that it is in the public interest to do so, just not until after the trial.

      Artful Dodger Daley
      "Former Mayor Richard Daley will not have to take the stand in a post-conviction hearing of a man who said he was forced into confessing to a 1982 gang rape after detectives working under disgraced Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge tortured him," the Sun-Times reports.

      How many times now has Daley dodged having to give testimony in cases like this? I'm too pressed for time this morning, but I know it's at least a few.

      Then again, we already know what his answers would be: "Gee, I don't know . . . I don't recall . . . Jon who? Never heard of him."

      Still, I would think a skillful lawyer could at least have some degree of success - and/or a determined judge could cite him for contempt.

      An e-mail I sent to a friend after Daley's Millennium Park testimony:

      Seems to me that attorney did a lousy job with Daley. True, you can't bully the guy into giving up the goods, but can't you get on his case for being non-responsive? Or say, "So you are asking us all to believe that you can't remember if you attended the opening of the grill?" and "So you are saying, for the record, under oath, that you had no idea the Bean was going to be one of the pieces in the park?"

      Or: "Sir, is it correct that you are a public policy professor at the University of Chicago's Harris school and have taught at Harvard and you are an international business consultant?" Yes. "And that you are on the board of directors of Coke?" Yes. "And you are saying today, under oath, that you had no idea about the Bean?" "Do you believe an expert holding those kinds of positions and getting paid what you do should have a better memory?"

      Am I wrong? I know you can't "badger the witness," but c'mon!

      Back to today's story:

      "Before making his ruling Wednesday, Cook County Judge Richard Walsh told Stanley Wrice's lawyers that they failed to connect Daley to Wrice's case.

      "I'm not going to allow this fishing expedition to take place," Walsh sternly told defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean.

      "This isn't a fishing expedition," Bonjean said.

      "It most certainly is," the judge replied

      Daley was state's attorney at the time of Wrice's conviction.

      Hence, not a fishing expedition.

      *

      Walsh appears to be a respected jurist, even if he can't spell for shit.

      But questioning Daley is hardly out of bonds..

      "Wrice's attorneys say that Daley knew about Burge's reign of terror at Area 2 around the same time Wrice's was arrested and when another man, Andrew Wilson, was beaten and forced to confess to the murder of two Chicago Police officers.

      "At the time, Dr. John Raba, director of the Cook County Jail-based Cermak Hospital, wrote a letter detailing Wilson's injuries to then Chicago Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek.

      "Brzeczek, in turn, wrote a letter about Wilson's allegations of abuse to Daley."

      That much we already knew.

      "Where is it anywhere that says Burge and company were torturing people? . . . Nowhere in this letter does it say, 'Hey Richie Daley, your boys on the Southeast Side are torturing people,'" the judge said.

      That's just not true.

      Brzeczek referred in his letter to "allegation[s] of police misconduct," and enclosed the letter he received from Raba.

      From Raba's letter:

      I examined Mr. Andrew Wilson on February 15 & 16, 1982. He had multiple bruises, swellings, and abrasions on his face and head. His right eye was battered and had a superficial laceration. Andrew Wilson had several linear blisters on his right thigh, right cheek and anterior chest, which were consistent to radiator burns. He stated that he had been cuffed to a radiator and pushed into it.

      He also stated that electrical shocks had been administered to his gums, lips and genitals.

      All these injuries occurred prior to his arrival at the Jail. There must be a thorough investigation of this alleged brutality.

      We now know, of course, that Burge and his boys were the brutalizers. What more does Walsh need?

      *

      "Outside of court, Bonjean expressed disappointment over the judge's ruling but vowed to appeal, saying that Daley has again avoided talking about the torture that has cost taxpayers millions in Burge-related settlements.

      "'Why won't he come forward and explain what he knew and when he knew it?' Bonjean said."

      Indeed. Why?

      City Schmouncil
      The city council was particularly disheartening at its Wednesday meeting. I'll catch up with it as soon as my blood stops boiling and I can piece something readable together.

      Awesome Anthropology
      How To Nail A Dictator And Other Highlights Of The Upcoming Annual Meeting Of The American Anthropological Association.

      In all seriousness, I would love to see a team of anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists take up residence in City Hall for a year and report back to us on our strange alien overlords. What an award-winning project that would be.

      Explain The Pain Away
      Smug Steven Soderbergh visits The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report.

      Giving Up On Gonzo
      The tight end, not the journalism style. In Fantasy Fix.

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Gonzo Lite.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:05 PM | Permalink

      How To Nail A Dictator And Other Highlights Of The Upcoming Annual Meeting Of The American Anthropological Association

      In just a few short days, more than 6,000 anthropologists will descend upon the city of Chicago to unleash their expertise on a myriad of topics. Want to know how to go from geek to chic? Just how will society be able to adapt to climate change? How can we make our educational system better? Wondering what professors actual do in their retirement? Interested in how one can nail a dictator?

      Come find out at the 112th AAA Annual Meeting!

      2013-Logo-154x200.jpg

      Historically the AAA Annual Meeting has approximately 800 scholarly sessions, 200 special events, and 60 exhibitors; it's the largest global anthropological event of the year.

      The 112th AAA Annual meeting will be held at the Chicago Hilton November 20-24. The 2013 annual meeting theme is Future Publics, Current Engagements.

      "Hot button" topics include education, immigration reform, health care, climate change, armed conflict, and much more.

      Event highlights include:

      • AAA Presidential Address by AAA President Leith Mullings, entitled "Anthropology Matters"
      • Beyond PTSD: The US Military and the Sequelae of War
      • Narrating the Nuclear: Anthropologists and Others Engage with the Atomic Era
      • Food, Fuel & Fur.
      • Beyond the Arab Spring: Anthropologizing Islamic Futures
      • Race and Racism in Comparative Perspective
      • Gentrification and Race: Elements of the Elephant in the Room
      • Public Policy Issue of U.S. Immigration Detention and Deportation
      • How to Nail a Dictator: The Role of Anthropologists and Human Rights Activists in the Rios Montt Genocide Trial in Guatemala
      • Natural Resource Extraction: Focus on Fracking
      • Evolving Adaptation to Climate Change
      • Farmers Markets: Developing Indices for Measuring Sustainability
      • Quick Fixes for a Globalized Future: Fast Foods, Capitalism and Dietary Change in Urban Spaces
      • Nuclear Science, Reproductive Technologies, and the Making of Future Families: Genetics, Race, Kinship and Nation
      • Contested Birthings: Institutional and Community Politics of Reproduction in the United States
      • Globalization of Retirement: Seniors, Migration, and Mobility Practices in East Asia and Beyond
      • Caregiving and Communities: Challenging and Transforming Health Care
      • Revisiting the Chicago School: Engagements with Race, Class, and Gender through Contemporary Ethnography
      • The Legacy of the Chicago School: Doing Fieldwork in Occupational Settings
      • Black Women's Intellectual and Political Work Chicago Style: Conversations with Cathy Cohen and Barbara Ransby

      And much more!

      Full schedules:

      * Tuesday
      * Wednesday
      * Thursday
      * Friday
      * Saturday
      * Sunday

      -

      NEW IN 2013!

      * Installations: Anthropological knowledge off the beaten path of the written conference paper.

      Like work shared in art venues, presentations selected as part of the AAA Installations program will draw on movement, sight, sound, smell, and taste to dwell on the haptic and engage AAA members and meeting attendees in a diverse world of the senses.

      Check them out here!

      *Green Registration:- AAA is offering a Green Registration type in all registration categories. By registering at the Green Registration type you'll lessen AAA's impact on the environment by NOT receiving a printed copy of the program in Chicago. Instead, you'll be able to take advantage of the program downloaded in e-reader format as well as the online program scheduler. The most up-to-date program information is always located online. Green Registration rates are moderately reduced from the regular registration rates.

      Reminder: Green Registrations will not receive a printed copy of the Annual Meeting Program in Chicago.

      -

      Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association is the world's largest professional organization of anthropologists and others interested in anthropology, with an average annual membership of more than 12,500. The Arlington, VA-based association represents all specialties within anthropology - cultural anthropology, biological (or physical) anthropology, archaeology, linguistics and applied anthropology.

      -

      Bonus Video: What Is Anthropology?

      -

      Comments welcome..

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:48 AM | Permalink

      Explain Away The Pain

      Coming to theaters next summer, Jay Cutler (high ankle), Lance Briggs (mid shoulder), Peanut Tillman (Eastern arm tear), Brad Pitt, Henry Melton (most of knee), Kelvin Hayden (meat off of leg bone), George Clooney, Nate Collins (knee stuff still strewn about football field), Andy Garcia, Kristin Cavallari, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, The Ghost of Sir Francis Drake (deceased), Julia Roberts, D.J. Williams (ripped chest/shredded abs . . . damn you T25!), John Boehner and Ryan Seacrest star in Steven Soderbergh's Smug Caper Movie Number Six.

      A madcap tale about hotels and money laundering featuring actors in such a good mood, you'll have to assume they were paid triple their normal salary to declare injury and appear on location to film during the football season.

      That right, I've moved on to conspiracy theories.

      Decisions, Decisions
      It might have been the editorial narrative of the Fox broadcast, but even without the shots of Jay Cutler's hand looking like it had been stung by a mutant wasp, and the frequent cuts to the leader of the offense apathetically limping towards the sideline, it became pretty obvious midway through the second quarter that the Bears QB might have just been putting on the ol' poker face to get back in the game.

      Also, Josh McCown donning his helmet on the opening kickoff, Jordan Palmer dressing for the game and Jim Miller warming up in the tunnel should have been a dead giveaways that the team knew Cutler wasn't 100% . . . or even 65%.

      A pinch of pre-Trestman would have been worth a pound of cure, but ultimately the head coach felt that Cutler was good enough to go and thus we have the first controversial move of this coaching regime.

      Up to this point I've been pleased with the job the guy has done, but this seemed like a move to needlessly placate a fan base that has already resigned itself to a 9-7 season. We're fine, Marc. Just take us out for a pizza and get us home by Monday.

      But at least the choice to run Cutler out there had a waft of rationale; you want to show your team that the captain is tough, you all should be tough, we are tough, blah-blah-etc.

      The calls that really stuck in my craw were the last two.

      A double-bite at the apple against a team that just loves to come undone in the final minutes turned into 11 guys stumbling all over the damn place.

      Somebody needs to explain to me what that first play was, like at all. Just a little something we cooked up called "run around and toss the ball out of the back of the end zone," eh? They'll never suspect that Staley will make the game-winning catch as time expires!

      And also why running another sweep, or outside draw, or anything resembling a sideways run seemed to have merit given that it hadn't worked for the prior 59 minutes escapes me.

      Even two consecutive incompletions to a triple-covered Brandon Marshall would have sat better.

      Secondary Market
      Another match-up that looked awesome going into the season that's turned into a Fox graphic about notable departures and inactives.

      Hey Boldin! Good luck roaming the middle with Urlacher and Briggs on patrol! Err . . . we got a Dennis Pitta fan in the house? No? Well, here's one better.

      The Texans have officially released former Ravens superstar Ed Reed; I say the Bears should sign him.

      First off, we can get all handsy with him in pre-game and make Baltimore like, totally jealous.

      Remember when you got to get all up in this grandpa beard, Michael Oher? Now it's all mine!

      Secondly, and assuming that it wasn't a refurb, Reed's new hip is technically younger than either Major Wright or Chris Conte.

      F-it. He starts.

      Quoth The Baltimore
      As some of you know, and will likely not admit to your wife, I write a weekly column for the Baltimore-based website VintageTenticalCam.biz.

      Last week we plumbed the depths of several important topics, like a review of Seymour Butz' web reality series, and a lambasting of Dr. Wayland McTuffle, the monster who did Alicyn Sterling's boob job and posed the question, are there any hotter Asians than Asia Carrera?

      The answer may surprise you!

      In a shameless bit of cross-promotion, I invited readers of Carl's Cl-Ass-icks to use their one free hand to send in Baltimore-themed ideas for the headers of this week's BAOKAR.

      Most of them were utterly unusable, and several were just pictures of balls, and those that were fit to print weren't funny. So I split the difference.

      MisterMasterClense writes:

      Hi Carl, great stuff this week. I vote 'in her dresser' for the Reader Pole. It's a little creepier and a lot more satisfying. Anywho, name one of the sections Joe Sack-O and talk about the size of Joe Flacco's sack. The guy wins on the road more than anyone.

      Thanks MMC, but mixing the word "sack" into a compliment about a quarterback doesn't quite add up. Maybe, Sack The Flac, He Just Comes Back? I'll work on it.

      DaysOfGloryHole checks in with:

      C-mohr, I did some research and found a legitimate porn version of Married With Children. It stars Nikki Wild and was written by Mad Dad Dan. Have you considered The Pit And The Perineum for one of the headers of your football thing?

      Originally got there with the bit about Ed Reed, but was later edited for content. Also, you're talking to the guy who owns the complete works of K.C. Williams. I am aware of the film. I was hoping someone could find a video of Ed O'Neill actually boffing Katey Sagal.

      InSpace_NoOne_CanHear_YouReam:

      That's So Raven's Butthole!

      Winner.

      Kool-Aid (2 Out Of 5 Glasses Of Whine)
      I'll cop to it. The injuries have made me a little bitchy the last few weeks. Or maybe it's just that I wrote this week's column stone sober. That would explain the itching.

      I got so caught up, um, "researching" the source material for this column I totally forgot that I had to make a prediction.

      Let's see . . . the Bears will . . . play a . . . football game . . . and . . . something . . . come back in five minutes . . .

      [Time Passes]

      Ok, thanks!

      I'm not flushed, it's just hot in here. Shut up.

      Welcome to a real scary stretch, Bears fans. With the Packers sans quarterback, the Lions just itching for a chance to blow a two-game lead late in the year, and the Bears with enough offense to stay in most games, you're staring down the barrel of hope's purgatory.

      The Ravens aren't great, and the Bears aren't bad.

      I say "not bad" is good enough to get Chicago to 6-4.

      Bears 24
      Ravens 17

      -

      Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

      Fantasy Fix: Giving Up On Gonzo

      Back in the preseason, I was in love with the idea of drafting legendary tight end Tony Gonzalez. He was headed into the final year of his career as a still strong option in a prolific offense. I felt the Falcons would get him the ball often, especially near the end zone.

      Many weeks later, Gonzalez does have respectable numbers for his position - 505 yards receiving and four TDs - but more than 20 percent of his yards and half his TDs came in one game.

      Out of nine games played, he has had one week with the stats I expected for him all year, and two more weeks in which he delivered decent fantasy value.

      And now, there is a good chance that in Week 11, he will miss his first game in seven years with a foot injury, or will at least be very limited.

      With very little fantasy regular season left, I've decided to dump him on the waiver wire. But at a thin position, is there any way to come up with something better?

      Here are a few ideas, all available in more than 40% of Yahoo! leagues:

      Jordan Reed, WAS: I mentioned him last week as a potential second-half star. When RG3 is throwing, Reed is often the target.

      Tyler Eifert, CIN: The rookie is starting to play a larger role; he was targeted 10 times last week.

      Coby Fleener, IND: The Colts' leading receiver Reggie Wayne is done for the season, and though they have some other flashy options at WR, Fleener is a good bet to get more chances, particularly in the red zone.

      Delanie Walker, TENN: Really didn't do much until last week, when he collected 62 yards and a TD. The Titans favor him on third downs.

      Expert Wire
      * SI.com says a Buc and a Dolphin are hot pick-ups after starring on Monday Night Football.

      * ESPN recommends the NYG defense against the Packers this weekend - that's how bad the Packers are without Aaron Rodgers (or Seneca Wallace).

      -

      Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

      November 13, 2013

      Coming In January: Obamacare Rate Shock Part Two

      Media reports about the Affordable Care Act have been dominated by two themes lately: The ongoing glitches with Healthcare.gov and the "rate shock" that some consumers now face after insurance companies canceled their policies.

      But come January, a second rate shock may hit and could produce more bad news for Obamacare. That's when millions of Americans who select health insurance plans on the new marketplaces may realize that their new insurance plans don't pay the bills right away. They come with high deductibles and co-pays.

      In recent weeks, many people have focused on the monthly cost of buying a health insurance plan in the insurance marketplace. What I'm talking about is different: The out-of-pocket costs they may face when they go to use that new policy.

      The president has promised to deliver affordable care to all Americans who want it. But the notion of what's affordable may well be in the eye of the beholder.

      Many low-income people who haven't had insurance before will qualify for subsidies to lower their monthly insurance premiums and reduce their out-of-pocket costs. And some with current policies will find that their new ones are indeed more affordable.

      But many won't. Those on both the left and the right side of the political spectrum - and in between - acknowledge this may surprise consumers.

      "So many people may feel they have a grip on their premium costs and think they have reasonable coverage only to encounter unpleasant surprises in the form of deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance amounts," health care consultant Kip Piper told me in an e-mail.

      Consider a family of four making $59,000 a year. They will have to pay $400 a month toward their insurance premium, after receiving a subsidy, said industry consultant Robert Laszewski.

      "But then, they will get a plan with a $2,000 deductible and hefty co-pays," he wrote in an e-mail. "The Democrats that say everything is going to be OK really need to go on one of the open exchanges and take a hard look at what consumers will see."

      It goes without saying that the Affordable Care Act reshapes the insurance landscape. It prohibits insurers from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions and requires insurers to spend a minimum amount on health costs vs. marketing and profit.

      Beyond that, the act provides subsidies to working-class consumers. Earlier this month, the New York Times boasted that up to 7 million people could qualify for "free" policies under the law. That's going to cost about $1 trillion over the next decade.

      Let's take a brief, wonky diversion into some technical details (I promise it will be brief).

      There are four types of plans being offered on the exchanges - bronze, silver, gold and platinum. As you move up the medal ladder, the premiums generally increase, as do the benefits.

      Separately, there are two different kinds of financial assistance provided to people, depending on their income level.

      • Those with incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty rate ($45,960 for one person, $94,200 for a family of four) qualify for tax credits that lower the cost of monthly premiums.
      • In addition, those with incomes below 250 percent of poverty ($28,725 for an individual, $58,875 for a family of four) qualify for help with their deductibles and co-pays.

      You'll hear the phrase "actuarial value" used a lot to describe the value of different plans. Essentially this means that a plan is structured to cover a certain percentage (say 60 percent or 70 percent) of the benefits provided to the population it is designed to serve.

      OK, wonky diversion over.

      A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the marketplaces, said that when consumers apply for coverage, they will receive an eligibility determination detailing whether they qualify for tax credits and a cost-sharing reduction, as well as next steps to take.

      But the new coverage won't be a panacea, experts say. The problems with the Healthcare.gov website, which handles enrollment for 36 states, has made communicating details of the new policies challenging.

      "The website difficulties have meant that in much of the country people have yet to really see what the cost-sharing will look like in these plans, and they may be surprised to find out that the deductibles and co-pays in bronze and silver plans are higher than what one would find in typical employer-provided health benefits," Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in an e-mail.

      "I think it remains to be seen whether people see these plans as offering them good protection against catastrophic health expenses - which they do - or are disappointed that they won't generally provide much coverage for occasional visits to the doctor or prescriptions," Levitt added.

      Chris Jacobs, a senior policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, brings up another point. The sequester law, which calls for spending cuts in the federal budget, requires reductions to the cost-sharing program. But the Obama administration has not said how it will carry those out - whether it will cut the cost-sharing subsidies or make insurers absorb the cuts.

      "Someone (either carriers, consumers, or both) isn't being told by this administration that they're going to have to pay more - billions of dollars more," Jacobs wrote to me. "And just as millions of people didn't like discovering in recent weeks that the 'like your plan' promise was hollow, they won't like learning about other hidden costs not being disclosed either."

      Jacobs has written more about the issue, as has Kaiser.

      Ken Wood, a senior adviser to Covered California, the state's exchange, said that officials tried to structure their plans so they don't rely on deductibles as much as co-pays. They offer lower co-pays for trips to primary-care physician visits than to specialists and lower co-pays for visits to urgent-care than to emergency rooms.

      "Even with high deductibles, consumers stop paying retail for health care since they get the advantage of the health insurer's negotiated rates, and no plan has a higher out-of-pocket maximum than $6,350 (per person)," he said. "That is a lot of money, but it probably will not drive people into bankruptcy."

      Has your insurance been canceled? Have you tried signing up for coverage through the new exchanges? Help us cover the Affordable Care Act by sharing your insurance story.

      -

      Previously:
      * Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

      * How The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza Became A Mistaken Poster Boy For Obamacare.

      * Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare.

      * Answered: Why Two Obama Loyalists Lost Their Health Policies.

      * Health Care Delays Squeeze Patients In State High-Risk Pools.

      -

      Comments welcome.


      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:54 AM | Permalink

      The [Wednesday] Papers

      "What have you searched for today? This week? This year? Some law enforcement agency somewhere may love to know," ArsTechnica reports.

      "On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it had filed a formal request (PDF) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), asking various federal judicial agencies what 'policies, procedures, and practices [are] followed to obtain search queries from search engine operators for law enforcement purposes.' The ACLU also asked if a warrant or another legal process is required to make requests and if requests can be intercepted in real time.

      "Specifically, the FOIA request applies to a number of federal agencies, including the United States Department of Justice, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Office of Legal Counsel, and the executive offices of a number of United States Attorneys, including those in California, Massachusetts, Texas, and other places."

      *

      Meanwhile:

      "ProPublica [filed a motion Tuesday] in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking the release of various court opinions that provide the judicial rationale for the federal government's secret collection of telephone metadata," the news organization announced. "The Electronic Frontier Foundation is acting as ProPublica's pro bono counsel in this matter.

      "The motion follows ProPublica's extensive reporting on the National Security Agency's collection of phone and web records and its efforts to undermine the encryption that protects the privacy of everyday Internet communications.

      "It's critical for the court to publicly provide the rationale that allows this unprecedented government secrecy," said ProPublica President Richard Tofel. "The public has a First Amendment right to see and understand its opinions, and we hope this motion will persuade the court to release more of them."

      "The national ACLU, the ACLU of the Nation's Capital, and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School filed a similar motion last week, but Jane E. Kirtley, formerly executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said ProPublica's motion might be more effective on this particular issue.

      "'Federal judges routinely find that news media entities have standing to assert the public's First Amendment right of access to court records and proceedings,' said Kirtley, now the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

      "'The FISC therefore may be more likely to find standing on the part of a news organization to seek disclosure in such situations. And it may give an extra level of consideration to reach the First Amendment issues if a news organization is among the requesters.'"

      Coming Soon: Obamacare Rate Shock Pt. 2
      "Media reports about the Affordable Care Act have been dominated by two themes lately: The ongoing glitches with Healthcare.gov and the 'rate shock' that some consumers now face after insurance companies canceled their policies," Charles Ornstein reports for ProPublica.

      "But come January, a second rate shock may hit and could produce more bad news for Obamacare. That's when millions of Americans who select health insurance plans on the new marketplaces may realize that their new insurance plans don't pay the bills right away. They come with high deductibles and co-pays.

      "In recent weeks, many people have focused on the monthly cost of buying a health insurance plan in the insurance marketplace. What I'm talking about is different: The out-of-pocket costs they may face when they go to use that new policy."

      All-American Airlines
      "American Airlines and US Airways struck a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department that will allow the airlines to complete a $17 billion merger and create the world's largest carrier, the airlines announced Tuesday," the Tribune reports.

      The Justice Department had opposed the merger because it would further consolidation in the airlines industry, which would be bad news for consumers because of less competition, resulting in higher fares and fees.

      Under terms of the settlement, however, the new super-airline will actually give up gates at airports around the country, opening up opportunities for new, upstart airlines to get slots that were previously reserved for American or US Airways. In other words, a merger creating the world's largest airline would actually result in more competition.

      Or so the theory goes.

      "The deal, which heads off a trial planned later this month, calls for the combined airline to give up some takeoff-and-landing slots and some airport gates, including two American Airlines gates at Chicago O'Hare International Airport."

      Two? Two lousy gates?

      "Although the combined airline will lose two gates in concourse L at O'Hare, airline officials are optimistic they will be able to reconfigure existing gates to gain back a gate or two, said Andrew Nocella, US Airways senior vice president of marketing and planning."

      So, essentially, the new super-airline is giving up nothing. Nice negotiating, Justice!

      "It's not going to have a material impact on our ability to fly what we were intending to fly," said Doug Parker, CEO of US Airways and incoming CEO of the combined airline.

      Once again, I invite the Obama administration to my place this Friday night for poker. I'll even spring for the beer.

      *

      "[The deal] also requires the combined airline to maintain Chicago and other airports as hubs for at least three years, something executives said they intended to do anyway and will keep long past three years."

      The deal also requires the combined airline to continue using wings on its planes for at least three years, which the Justice Department counted as a major victory.

      *

      Four airlines will now control 80 percent of the market, according to the Justice Department.

      Yet, U.S. assistant attorney Bill Baer called the deal a "game-changer" that will likely drive down airfares.

      "It will disrupt today's cozy relationships among the incumbent legacy carriers," he said.

      Except what will now be the coziest relationship among incumbent legacy carriers ever - the merger of American and US Airways!

      "[It will] provide consumers with more choices and more competitive airfares," he said.

      Two big airlines into one hardly provides consumers with more choices; the slot give-backs might go to a low-fare carrier or two, but that will hardly dent the market.

      The only ones getting more choices will be American and USAir executives, who will now have to decide whether to buy new mansions or knock down and rebuild the ones they already have.

      *

      "There is no doubt that in markets where a merger reduces two competing airlines to one monopoly, fares increase," the Wall Street Journal reported in August.

      "In April, the Middle Seat crunched data to show that some big-city routes saw price increases of 40% to 50% or more after mergers reduced competition.

      "Between Chicago and Houston, the home bases of United and Continental, the average fare in the third quarter last year was 57% higher than the same period three years earlier, before those airlines merged. Over the same period, United's average domestic fare was up 16%."

      Name That Merger
      "Two realty brokerages with deep roots in the Chicago area's housing market - Koenig & Strey and Prudential Rubloff - are merging and adopting a name with an international reputation, that of Berkshire Hathaway," the Tribune reports.

      "Next spring, the combined entity will be renamed Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group."

      Will that even fit on a business card?

      *

      "Good morning, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group, may I help you?"

      *

      Strey is pissed. With all that, there wasn't room for his name?

      *

      "This is very much about the brand," Nancy Nagy, who will be CEO of the new entity, told the Trib.

      Which one? I count at least four.

      For branding purposes, as well as sanity and common sense, Koenig Rubloff would've been just fine. Rolls off the tongue. Berkshire Koenig Rubloff if you had to. BKR.

      "The addition of the Berkshire Hathaway name is very powerful," Nagy said.

      Well, if that's the thinking, why not Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group? Powered by Apple.

      *

      Buffett, by the way, isn't a fan of airlines investing.

      "At the recent Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, Buffett responded negatively when asked a question about airline investing," Ted Reed reported for Forbes last May.

      "Investors have poured their money into airlines and airline manufacturers for 100 years with terrible results," Buffett said, according to TheStreet. "It's been a death trap for investors," he said of the airline industry, after he was asked whether airline consolidation has altered his long-standing view that investors should stay away from airlines.

      Buffett invested in US Airways in 1989 and, according to Reed, eventually broke even at the least. Still, it was not a pleasant experience and Buffett has spent the last 20 years decrying the industry.

      But veteran airline analyst Bob McAdoo of Imperial Capital told Reed that Buffett needs to update his view.

      "The airline industry has changed since 1989," McAdoo said."It has consolidated and is more oligopolistic."

      Today, even more so.

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Powered by you.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:43 AM | Permalink

      November 12, 2013

      The [Tuesday] Papers

      1. One World Trade Center Is Ruled Tallest Building in U.S.

      Chicago's Hurt Feelings Named Most Insecure In U.S.

      2. Smokey Bear.

      "On Wednesday, former Cowboys and Bears receiver Sam Hurd will likely be sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking," Michael McKnight writes for MMQB.

      "Is he the cocaine kingpin the government has made him out to be, or the victim of an overzealous prosecution and excessively harsh narcotics laws? An exclusive 22-month investigation reveals how it all went wrong for one of the NFL's most promising and well-liked young talents - and why there's more to Hurd's downfall than we've been led to believe."

      *

      The opening:

      "At 7:35 p.m. on Dec. 14, 2011, Sam Hurd's black Escalade arrived in a light rain outside a Morton's restaurant in Chicago and backed into a street space near the entrance. The Bears' receiver, then 26, had driven to the steak house following practice to meet with two Mexicans who moved cocaine for one of their country's most violent cartels, the Zetas - a murderous army known for beheading its enemies and dumping their bodies on public streets.

      "It had been a tense workday for the Bears, who had just lost three games in a row after starting the season 7-3, and after practice Hurd had called one of the Mexicans, Manuel, and asked if he and his cousin would come to Hurd's suburban Lake Forest home instead of dining out. But Manuel (not his real name) had gently insisted on the restaurant, suggesting the Morton's near O'Hare because the traffickers were headed that way to pick up cash from an incoming courier."

      *

      Hurd, who played college ball at Northern Illinois University, says he smoked pot every day that he was a Bear.

      3. RedEye Got Me To Click.

      A rare event, but it happens to the best of us.

      4. Tribune Names Hyatt Sixth Best Workplace In Chicagoland.

      Climate-controlled work environment cited.

      5. Chicago State Tries To Shut Down Faculty Blog.

      Maybe just turn some hot lights on them instead.

      *

      "Last year, Chicago State University briefly required that all professors have prior approval to talk to any reporter, use social media or engage in most forms of public communication," Scott Jaschik reports for Inside Higher Ed.

      "Facing complaints that the policy was inappropriate and illegal, the university backed down.

      "But the university - where administrators have frequently clashed with faculty members - this week is demanding the shutdown of a faculty blog that has been highly critical of the university. The chief lawyer for the university sent a 'cease and desist' letter to the professors who run the blog demanding that they shut it down."

      The blog, of course, posted the letter. Long live blogs!

      *

      FYI: I believe the Tribune broke the story.

      6. Boeing Caught In The Act.

      "The Washington state legislature on Saturday passed a measure to extend nearly $9 billion in tax breaks for Boeing through 2040 in an embattled effort to entice the company to locate production of its newest jet, the 777X, in the Seattle area," Reuters reports.

      As we suspected when we saw the strange matchbook and lipstick-stained collar: Boeing is cheating on us.

      7. The Old Town School of Folk Disco.

      8. The Political Odds.

      Updated to reflect recent events.

      9. Blackhawks Croak Bullfrogs.

      10. NSA Surveillance Driving U.S. Writers To Self-Censor.

      11. Sculptures On The Boulevards.

      -

      Selected BeachTweets

      *

      *

      *

      *

      *

      *

      *

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Enabling.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 PM | Permalink

      Stayin' Alive: The Old Town School's Tribute To Disco

      They did a little dance, made a little love and got down Friday night.

      Highlights:

      1. Love Rollercoaster, Jive Talkin', Hollywood Swinging.

      -

      2. How Deep Is Your Love.

      -

      3. You Sexy Thing.

      -

      4. Dance, Stayin' Alive, Dancin' Queen.

      -

      5. Ring My Bell, Dim All The Lights.

      -

      6. The Poetry of Disco.

      -

      7. I Was Made For Lovin' You.

      -

      8. Turn The Beat Around.

      -

      9. More Poetry of Disco.

      -

      10. We Are Family.

      -

      See also: YorkMC's YouTube channel.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:13 AM | Permalink

      Blackhawks Croak Bullfrogs, Jump Back Into Stanley Cup Finals!

      The year is 2017.

      The captain is Stevie Shelton.

      The goaltender Michael Santiago.

      The uniforms are phosphorescent.


      - Video Uploaded By The WheatIsHeat96.

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:37 AM | Permalink

      Sculptures On The Boulevards

      "[F]eaturing dozens of works on display now through next fall along Logan, Independence, California, Western and Garfield Boulevards," the city says.

      Let's take a look and add value to the city's announcement through the wonders of images, links and video.

      *

      Note: "Several of the sculptures were previously on display for a year along the lakefront until last September, in an exhibit curated by Chicago Sculpture International."

      *

      Logan Boulevard:

      Eric Lindsey, Expanding Universe, at Rockwell

      LI-CSI-DL-007b.jpg

      *

      Austin Collins, Fern Temple IV, at Washtenaw.

      *

      Michael Brown, Another Thought, at Fairfield.

      *

      Terrence Karpowicz, Bouquet, at Mozart.

      *

      Jason Verbeek, Living Sculpture, at Richmond.

      -

      Independence Boulevard:

      Peter Gray, A River Runs Through, at Taylor.

      *

      Ruth Migdal, Flamenco Revisited, at Roosevelt Road.

      *

      Bobby Joe Scribner, Riversnake, at 13th Street.

      -

      California Boulevard:

      Robert Craig, Sea Saw, at 24th Street.

      *

      Kara James, Handmade Revolution, at 25th Street.

      *

      Leslie Bruning, Love/Embrace, at 26th Street.

      *

      Jennifer Dickson, We, at 27th Street.

      *
      Tess Little, Imagine Peace, at 28th Street.

      *

      Bobby Joe Scribner, Races, at 29th Street.

      -

      Western Boulevard:

      George Tobolowsky, My Grandfather's Start-Up, at 41st Street.

      *

      Dean Langworthy, Airship, at 42nd Street.

      *

      Mike Helbing, Mike's Pantree, at 44th Street.

      *

      Gary Kulak, Crown Chakra, at 45th Street.

      -

      Garfield Boulevard:

      Andrew Arvanetes, Ark, at Ashland.

      *

      Kai Schulte, Allegra, at Loomis.

      *

      David Noguchi, Soar, at May.

      *

      Mike Helbing, Dancing with Damocles, at Morgan.

      *

      John Adduci, Blaam O, at Halsted.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

      NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers To Self-Censor

      "In October 2013, PEN partnered with independent researchers at the FDR Group to conduct a survey of over 520 American writers to better understand the specific ways in which awareness of far-reaching surveillance programs influences writers' thinking, research, and writing," PEN, the world's leading literary and human rights organization, revealed on Monday.

      "The results of this survey - the beginning of a broader investigation into the harms of surveillance - substantiate PEN's concerns: writers are not only overwhelmingly worried about government surveillance, but are engaging in self-censorship as a result."

      Let's take a look at some of PEN's key findings.

      *

      "Freedom of expression is under threat and, as a result, freedom of information is imperiled as well.

      "Fully 85% of writers responding to PEN's survey are worried about government surveillance of Americans, and 73% of writers have never been as worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press as they are today.

      "PEN has long argued that surveillance poses risks to creativity and free expression. The results of this survey - the beginning of a broader investigation into the harms of surveillance - substantiate PEN's concerns: writers are not only overwhelmingly worried about government surveillance, but are engaging in self-censorship as a result."

      *

      "28% have curtailed or avoided social media activities, and another 12% have seriously considered doing so.

      "24% have deliberately avoided certain topics in phone or e-mail conversations, and another 9% have seriously considered it.

      "16% have avoided writing or speaking about a particular topic, and another 11% have seriously considered it."

      *

      "PEN's survey allowed participants to offer long-form comments on surveillance; PEN also invited members to share their thoughts and personal experiences via e-mail. In reviewing the responses, themes emerged centering on writers' self-censorship and fear that their communications would bring harm to themselves, their friends, or sources.

      1. PEN writers now assume that their communications are monitored.

      2. The assumption that they are under surveillance is harming freedom of expression by prompting writers to self-censor their work in multiple ways, including:

      a) reluctance to write or speak about certain subjects;

      b) reluctance to pursue research about certain subjects; and

      c) reluctance to communicate with sources, or with friends abroad, for fear that they will
      endanger their counterparts by doing so.

      *

      Some of the survey responses:

      [D]uring the Nixon years, I took it for granted that the administration had an eye on me, and if it didn't, I wasn't doing my job. For a political cartoonist, active early on against Vietnam, one expected tax audits and phone taps. Irritating, but not intimidating. In fact, just the opposite: I was inspired. I view the current situation as far more serious, and the culpability and defensiveness of the president and his people deeply and cynically disturbing.

      *

      I write books, most recently about civil liberties, and to protect the content of certain interviews, I am very careful what I put in e-mails to sources, even those who are not requesting anonymity.

      I'm also circumspect at times on the phone with them - again, even though they may not be requesting anonymity and the information is not classified.

      For example, I have recently interviewed reporters who write about national security and prefer to meet in person rather than talk with me by phone. This makes the work cumbersome and time-consuming.

      Some also want playbacks of their quotes so they don't inadvertently identify sources or describe precautions they take to protect them.

      Some of those precautions remind me of my days as Moscow Bureau Chief of [a major news outlet] under Communism, when to communicate with dissidents and refuseniks we had to avoid substantive phone conversations, meet in person in public, etc. It's not a good feeling to have reporters' work in your own country's capital resemble ours in Moscow in the bad old days.

      *

      I was considering researching a book about civil defense preparedness during the Cold War: what were the expectations on the part of Americans and the government? What would have happened if a nuclear conflagration had taken place? What contingency plans did the government have? How did the pall of imminent disaster affect Americans?

      But as a result of recent articles about the NSA, I decided to put the idea aside because, after all, what would be the perception if I Googled 'nuclear blast,' 'bomb shelters,' 'radiation,' 'secret plans,' 'weaponry,' and so on? And are librarians required to report requests for materials about fallout and national emergencies and so on? I don't know.

      I guess what's most pertinent is that when I was writing my book . . . which deals with a lot of difficult material, I hesitated to research anything that could be related to child abuse/pornography (hesitate to even write that now).

      I feel that increased government surveillance has had a chilling effect on my research, most of which I do on the Internet. This includes research on issues such as the drug wars and mass incarceration, which people don't think about as much as they think about foreign terrorism, but is just as pertinent.

      *

      One ramification of what the U.S. government does is that it may be taken as a blueprint for what other governments do. I am fairly sure that some of my e-mails and calls in another country have been subject to varieties of surveillance. So I'm just as concerned for what becomes 'business as usual' globally without serious pause and dialogue, as surveillance of all sorts (private and public information 'harvesting,' etc.) continues to escalate.

      *

      'Selected' for a special security search returning to the United States from Mexico twice last summer, I learned I was on a U.S. Government list. I was searched for 'cocaine' and explosives. I suspect . . . that I must have been put on the government list because of an essay I wrote . . . in which I describe finding a poem on a Libyan Jihad site, and ultimately express some sympathy for young men on the other side of the world who are tempted into jihad . . . one can see how [the poem] might be a comfort to jihadists.

      *

      Conclusion:

      "The findings of this survey and subsequent responses from PEN writers substantiate significant impingement on freedom of expression as a result of U.S. Government surveillance.

      "While it may not be surprising that those who rely on free expression for their craft and livelihood feel greater unease about surveillance than most, the impact on the free flow of information should concern us all.

      "As writers continue to restrict their research, correspondence, and writing on certain topics, the public pool of knowledge shrinks. What important information and perspectives will we miss? What have we missed already?"

      -

      Previously:
      * Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

      * Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

      * Obama Vs. The World.

      * How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

      * UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

      * Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

      * Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

      * A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

      * Item: NSA Briefing.

      * The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

      * The NSA Is Out Of Control.

      * Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

      * Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

      * Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

      * Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

      * NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

      * Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

      * It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

      * What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

      * America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

      * Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

      * The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

      * America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

      * Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

      * Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

      * Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

      * NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

      * Does The NSA Tap That?

      * Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

      * FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

      * NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

      * Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

      * The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

      * Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

      * Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

      * ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

      -

      See also:
      * Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

      * James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

      * Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:16 AM | Permalink

      November 11, 2013

      The [Monday] Papers

      "Gov. Pat Quinn launched a four-city fly-around Monday to talk up the latest Illinois Lottery ticket benefiting veterans, a move he said was intended to honor those that serve but one that also displays the benefits of incumbency as he runs for re-election," the Tribune reports.

      "[Quinn] scoffed at suggestions that his [taxpayer-funded] tour of the state doubled as a campaign effort, saying he's held events to promote the veterans lottery ticket for the past decade.

      "I've done this over and over again over the last decade," Quinn said. "I think it's important on Veterans Day to find ways - each and every one of us - to honor our veterans. That's exactly what I'm doing."

      And if it helps me get re-elected, that's just a happy coincidence!

      *

      "The Democratic governor began the day at a veterans home in the city's Humboldt Park neighborhood, with planned Downstate stops to follow in Peoria, Milan and Rockford."

      Because those are the places that most need encouragement to buy lottery tickets.

      *

      Seriously, I'd like to see someone FOIA all documents pertaining to the planning of this particular jaunt, just to see what political considerations went into choosing these locations. If only we could FOIA political strategists too.

      *

      It's a timeworn strategy, but that doesn't make it right; it just makes it cynical. Our system should make it easier, not harder, to challenge incumbents.

      *

      "Dan Rutherford's Twitter account chronicles the Illinois treasurer fixing home appliances, jogging on the treadmill and eating his sister's famous goulash," AP reported earlier this month.

      "It also highlights the gubernatorial candidate's regular practice of tacking political events onto official government travel funded by state taxpayers."

      I would be inclined to frame it the other way around: It also highlights the gubernatorial candidate's regular practice of tacking taxpayer-funded official business onto political events.

      *

      "Most politicians go to great lengths not to publicize when they switch between government and campaign work - even in Illinois, where experts say ethics laws separating them aren't as specific as the federal government's rules.

      "Rutherford, however, uniquely broadcasts even the most mundane details of the trips through Twitter, a catch-all for his personal, government and campaign activities.

      "'Just arriving to the DuPage Township Republicans Sunday Brunch fundraiser where I will be the guest speaker,' Rutherford tweeted one Sunday last fall. Hours later, he posted that he was speaking at a Joe Neal for Illinois Senate event and at a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling.

      "Those fundraisers came during his stay in the Chicago suburbs to promote the I-Cash program, which reconnects Illinois residents with financial property they misplaced. While the costs were hardly exorbitant - he stayed at a Red Roof Inn for $70 a night - the reports that Rutherford filed with the state don't mention the political events but justify the expenses for 'performing duties as state treasurer.'"

      *

      Give AP props for using Rutherford's twitter feed to track his wherefores and whereabouts. And while I wouldn't want to give credit to a smoother politician who would a better job covering his tracks, this is yet another example of what the Beachwood Bookmaking Bureau has to say about Rutherford:

      Dan Rutherford wins GOP nomination: 30 percent. Down five ticks; cementing reputation as a bumbler.

      (The Bookmaking Bureau, by the way, has the day off; the Political Odds will be updated on Tuesday to reflect recent developments, such as the injection of Paul Vallas into the race.)

      In fact, this sort of "perk" is exactly the reason why someone like Rutherford becomes state Treasurer in the first place; it's not like he had a lifelong dream of treasuring.

      It's the same reason why Tom Cross is running to replace Rutherford - and sending out e-mail blasts like this one:

      "Another session has concluded and Springfield has failed yet again to lead on a critically important issue to Illinois families: stabilizing and securing the nation's worst funded pension system. Each day of inaction costs taxpayers and drains state funds for critical services like education, healthcare and public safety. I am running for state treasurer to take on big challenges . . . "

      You know, Tom, or should I call you former House Minority Leader, if you were running to take on the big challenges you'd be running for governor. The duties of the treasurer's office, while important on a bureaucratic level, are among the narrowest among public offices anywhere in the state. We should just appoint a CPA to the job and be done with it.

      *

      "Illinois state Treasurer candidate Tom Cross is launching a three-market radio buy today - a day after the Republican made a switch and voted in favor of same-sex marriage legislation in the House," the Sun-Times reported last week.

      "Cross switched positions after his campaign told the Sun-Times just three weeks ago that he remained opposed to same-sex marriage."

      Huh. That's weird.

      "[H]is Democratic opponent - state Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign) - was calling on Cross to support same-sex marriage. 'I am proud to be one of only two Downstate Senators to co-sponsor and vote for both marriage equality and civil unions,' Frerichs said then."

      Oh.

      "Cross's vote neutralizes what could have been a contentious issue in a general election."

      That's typical mainstream media framing - give the credit for "neutralizing" a contentious issue instead of calling him out for his dishonesty.

      "Cross released a statement on Tuesday night saying he made the change after months of soul-searching."

      Really? Months of soul-searching? Perhaps, but we can't interview a statement. Then again, nobody seems to want to.

      *

      Frerichs is no better. He's the one who injected gay marriage into this race because, well, there's no sense in debating the "issues" in a state treasurer's race. There don't seem to be any.

      I wonder if any reporter asked Frerichs why it mattered if the treasurer was for gay marriage.

      *

      "While Quinn does normally mark Veterans Day by promoting various veterans programs, it's unusual for him to travel the state to do so."

      How unusual? I think he does it about once every four years.

      *

      Shenaniganery.

      *

      Assignment: See if sales of the Veterans Cash Specialty Ticket go up in the markets Quinn visited.

      *

      Also: How many buyers of said tickets are desperate veterans who could perhaps use more dependable state assistance?

      *

      "Quinn has been a vocal supporter of veterans, often attending the funerals of service members killed in action and visiting injured troops in Germany during the holidays."

      Which is great, but loses a bit of its sincerity when it seems like it's always brought to our attention through Sneed.

      *

      Which isn't to say Quinn isn't sincere. It's to say that his Machine-like performance as governor means he no longer gets the benefit of the doubt.

      "He's also sought to increase the number of state contracts going to veteran-owned businesses, though a Tribune report found that since 2011 just $32 million of roughly $13 billion in work has been awarded to those businesses - less than .25 percent."

      Because the Tribune won't even link to its own story, I will:

      "Surrounded by flags, lawmakers and Veterans of Foreign Wars members, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill two years ago that called for Illinois to award 3 percent of state government contracts to businesses owned by veterans," the paper reported last month.

      "The program, however, is off to a slow start. So far, only about 50 businesses have been certified as veteran-owned, a number bolstered by a recent surge of approvals following scrutiny and criticism. In the last budget, only $32 million in work went to such businesses out of a state pie of $13 billion or so - less than 0.25 percent.

      "Even those pulling for the program to succeed say the Quinn administration should be 'highly embarrassed.'"

      Maybe if Quinn Skyped a statewide pep fest for lottery tickets he could've stayed home and worked on those contracts he promised.

      -

      Esprit de Corps
      The Chicago-based National Veterans Art Musuem is unveiling a new exhibition today featuring the work of veterans.

      This one is by Jonathan Hancock. Click through for more.

      Jonathan Hancock, Pan Seared, detail.jpg

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      NSA's Chilling Effect
      Firsthand accounts.

      The Weekend In Chicago Rock
      Featuring: GWAR, Holy Ghost!, Pretty Lights, Kavinsky, Periphery, Anthony Green, Howie Day, Todd Carey, Curtis Peoples, Ayodele, Sleeping With Sirens, and Falling In Reverse.

      Trestman, Goat
      Bears coach abdicated his basic responsibility.

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      The Beachwood Tip Line: Abdicate.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:34 PM | Permalink

      Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation has provided a federal judge with testimony from 22 separate advocacy organizations detailing how the National Security Agency's mass telephone records collection program has impeded the groups' work, discouraged their members and reduced the numbers of people seeking their help via hotlines.

      The declarations accompanied a motion for partial summary judgment filed last week in which EFF asks the court to declare the surveillance illegal on two levels - the law does not authorize the program, and the Constitution forbids it.

      In First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, EFF represents a diverse array of environmentalists, gun-rights activists, religious groups, human-rights workers, drug-policy advocates and others who share one major commonality: they each depend on the First Amendment's guarantee of free association.

      EFF argues that if the government vacuums up the records of every phone call - who made the call, who received the call, when and how long the parties spoke - then people will be afraid to join or engage with organizations that may have dissenting views on political issues of the day.

      The U.S. government acknowledged the existence of the telephone records collection program this summer, after whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked a copy of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order authorizing the mass collection of Verizon telephone records.

      "The plaintiffs, like countless other associations across the country, have suffered real and concrete harm because they have lost the ability to assure their constituents that the fact of their telephone communications between them will be kept confidential from the federal government," says EFF senior staff attorney David Greene. "This has caused constituents to reduce their calling. This is exactly the type of chilling effect on the freedom of association that the First Amendment forbids."

      In last week's motion, the EFF asked the US District Court for the Northern District of California to review the undisputed evidence at hand and rule that the NSA's "Associational Tracking Program" is not only unconstitutional, but not authorized under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT ACT, the law the government has so far used to justify its surveillance.

      The statute authorizes the government to collect information only if the information "is relevant to an authorized investigation." Because the government collects the records of every telephone call made to, from and within the United States, the vast majority of the records it collects are plainly irrelevant.

      "Section 215 is a simple statute designed to give the FBI something like the subpoena power available in criminal investigations," says attorney Thomas Moore, an EFF special counsel. "It was not intended to authorize the dragnet surveillance the NSA has undertaken. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people should not be spying on the people."

      The motion could be argued as early as February 2014.

      Selected declaration excerpts:

      Rev. Rick Hoyt, First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles:

      "The threat of exposure has caused potential visitors to stay away, and members to withdraw from the community, resulting in the church losing its voice and damaging our faith and our organization. Even more damaging is the effect on our neighbors, many of whom depend on the church for basic necessities such as our weekly food distribution, and life-enhancing programs such as exercise classes, and math tutoring for children. Our neighbors now fear that a simple contact with the church inquiring about a church program will bring scrutiny upon other aspects of their lives, or bring their persons to the attention of a government that they may have reason to fear."

      Gene Hoffman, Jr., CalGuns Foundations, Inc:

      "Many gun owners are distrustful of government or of having any record of their status as gun owners. At least one of our members is only known to us by his online alias and he would only directly contact us via telephone from a blocked number. He has not phoned since the disclosures that lead to this action.

      "Many of our constituents have expressed concern about the confidentiality of the fact of their telephone communications with us. Those who do call now leave fewer details in their voicemails of the concern or issue they are calling about, forcing staff and volunteers to make additional contacts to the caller, or more quickly refer the caller to one of our outside attorneys. This creates more expense than if a non-attorney volunteer could have answered a question."

      Dinah PoKempner, Human Rights Watch:

      "We have experienced an increase in questions from our researchers, other staff, external partners and potential associates expressing concern about the confidentiality of the fact of their communications with HRW itself and among our staff and associates. While it is difficult to get precise information about communications that did not occur, based on the concerns raised by others, I believe that some individuals may have refrained from reporting human rights abuses to us and some partners may have refrained from contacting us due to their concerns about security and confidentiality."

      Jennifer Nimer, Council on American-Islamic Relations-Ohio (CAIR-Ohio):

      Because many of the persons CAIR-OHIO represents are subject to tangible manifestations of federal government scrutiny, discretion and confidentiality in their communications and associations with us is of paramount importance to such persons. Knowing that the government is certainly logging communications such persons may have with CAIR-OHIO deters these persons form seeking our assistance.

      "By virtue of this 'guilt by association' form of analysis, large swaths of the Ohio Muslim community may be subject to government scrutiny, simply by virtue of having contacted CAIR-OHIO and because of CAIR-OHIO's advocacy efforts on behalf of those wrongly accused. That is, is a CAIR-OHIO client accused or suspected by government of wrongdoing contacts us, all those who contact CAIR-OHIO - including our constituents and prospective clients - are accordingly put at risk of government scrutiny, solely through their shared association with CAIR-OHIO.

      "When the very act of communicating by phone with those we aim to serve puts our constituents at risk for further government scrutiny, our organizational mission is essentially undermined."

      Heidi Boghosian, National Lawyers Guild:

      "Revelations of NSA surveillance in the press has caused NLG members working on litigation and advocacy to restrict discussion of legal strategy, case updates and confidential information to in-person meetings or to written correspondence sent by mail. Practical restraints on the frequency of these meetings results-in less robust information to pass between attorneys and has potentially hindered Guild members from providing as vigorous a legal representation as would have otherwise been possible with secure electronic communication channels."

      Dale Gieringer, California Chapter of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML):

      California NORML experienced an abrupt drop in the number of hotline calls we received after revelation of NSA's phone surveillance program in late June. Prior to then, we received an average of about 15-20 calls daily on our hotline; afterwards, calls dropped to 5 -10 per day. This data supports our belief that the NSA program had a chilling effect on our constituents' willingness to communicate with us. Moreover, several of our members have expressed similar concerns in this regard."

      Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center:

      "I had trouble sleeping, delayed some essays and blogs I had been considering, and worried whether my actions might make trouble for nonpolitical relatives. I certainly felt a chill fall across my work of peaceable assembly, association, petition, and the free exercise of my religious convictions. Since as the Rabbinic Director of The Shalom Center I am the chief spokesperson for its religious outlook and religious work, this chilling effect has slowed down, inhibited, and distorted the expression of our religious concerns."

      Berin Szoka, TechFreedom:

      "For some policymakers, a change in their policy positions attributable to TechFreedom's advocacy may imply, accurately or not, an association or relationship that the policymaker might otherwise be unwilling to publicly acknowledge. This inhibition, in turn, hinders TechFreedom's ability to advocate effectively for its ideas.

      "Similarly, our communications with journalists and foreign nationals is limited by the risk of disclosure. Knowing that the government will retain a record of all our communications, and the inevitable possibility of disclosure, will reduce the likelihood of such individuals working with TechFreedom on important Internet freedom issues, which are inherently trans-national and often require collaboration with foreign civil society groups and policymakers."

      Dr. Deborah C. Peel, Patient Privacy Rights:

      "The Associational Tracking Program activities have harmed PPR because we have experienced a decrease in communications from whistleblowers, members and users who would have requested that their communications with Plaintiff remain secret.

      "PPR experienced a decrease in calls to our office phone line during the summer. For example, prior to the revelations of NSA tracking, we received on average 40 calls per month. After the NSA revelations became public, we received on average only 20 calls per month."

      Tracy Rosenberg, Media Alliance:

      "Several organizational members have asked to have their membership terminated and their data expunged from our database after purchasing products or services (and purchasing memberships for the purpose of receiving discounted prices on those products or services) in the wake of recent publicity about the extent of telephone metadata surveillance. Media Alliance has experienced a significant increase in the number of individuals expressing concern about the privacy of their inquiries and transactions with our organization, more than a doubling from any previous year. I have been in this position since 2007 and the increase is unprecedented. Moreover, we have had a large number of individuals go beyond expressing concern to request the end of their memberships."

      -

      Previously:
      * Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

      * Obama Vs. The World.

      * How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

      * UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

      * Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

      * Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

      * A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

      * Item: NSA Briefing.

      * The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

      * The NSA Is Out Of Control.

      * Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

      * Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

      * Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

      * Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

      * NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

      * Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

      * It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

      * What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

      * America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

      * Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

      * The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

      * America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

      * Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

      * Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

      * Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

      * NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

      * Does The NSA Tap That?

      * Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

      * FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

      * NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

      * Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

      * The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

      * Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

      * Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

      * ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

      -

      See also:
      * Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

      * James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

      * Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 PM | Permalink

      The Weekend In Chicago Rock

      You shoulda been there.

      1. GWAR at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.


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      2. Holy Ghost! at the Metro on Saturday night.

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      3. Pretty Lights at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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      4. Kavinsky at the Metro on Thursday night.

      -

      5. Periphery at Mojoes in Joliet on Thursday night.

      -

      6. Anthony Green at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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      7. Howie Day at City Winery on Saturday night.

      -

      8. Todd Carey at Martyr's on Saturday night.

      -

      9. Curtis Peoples at Martyr's on Saturday night.

      -

      10. Ayodele at the Double Door on Friday night.

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      11. Sleeping With Sirens at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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      12. Falling in Reverse at the Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:52 AM | Permalink

      SportsMonday: Trestman, Goat

      Marc Trestman apparently started to figure it out at some point in the 14 hours or so after his postgame press conference.

      "If we had to do it all over again, maybe it would be one series before the 2-minute drill," Trestman told WBBM-AM Monday morning when asked if he regretted not bringing Josh McCown into Sunday's 21-19 loss to the Lions sooner.

      At least. Others must have helped him understand that his decision to keep playing an obviously limited Cutler in the second half was met with universal disgust in Bear Nation. It COULD, NOT, HAVE, BEEN, MORE, OBVIOUS to everyone even slightly invested in the game that the Bears would have been better off with Josh McCown at quarterback after the injured Cutler struggled mightily with basic movements right off the bat in the second half.

      So thank goodness, really, that Trestman has at least started to understand. Because otherwise fans would be forced to have doubts about his basic competence.

      And it must also be pointed out that in this day and age, which would of course be the day and age of hyper-awareness of concussions, football coaches must not allow an injured player back on the field even if that player desperately wants to keep playing.

      Part of a coach's job is to not only protect his team from the ill effects of playing an injured player who still wants to play but to also protect the player from himself. Continuing to send an injured Cutler into the game was an abdication of one of Trestman's most basic responsibilities.

      But way beyond that there is simply no denying the Bears would have played much better offensively with their proven, more-than-competent backup quarterback in there.

      In case there were any doubts about that, the coach capped off this nightmare half of football by finally putting McCown in for the Bears' last possession and watching him march his team down the field and score on a play made possible only by McCown's mobility.

      It shouldn't have come down to that. Everybody saw Cutler grabbing his groin shortly after halftime - at least everyone who was watching on TV.

      "[F]rom the second drive, he had all kinds of things going on with him from his waist down," Brandon Marshall told reporters after the game.

      Even from the outset, Bears coaches mostly kept Cutler in the pistol or shotgun from the outset, in an apparent effort to spare him from having to get under center and then drop back five or seven steps, putting pressure on his groin.

      In the second half, Cutler struggled to do basic quarterback things like make handoffs and pitches. Yet Trestman left him in there for series after series after series - despite what should have been read as a cry for help.

      "Cutler's ankle stiffened as the second half progressed," Rich Campbell reports for the Tribune. "His athleticism diminished, and he sensed increased limitations in a close game with first place in the NFC North at stake. Between series, Cutler sought evaluations from Trestman.

      "I just asked him at one point, 'Do I look OK? And am I still getting it done?' Because I felt really restricted in the pocket with what I was able to do," Cutler said. "(The ball) wasn't getting out as quick. Some of my throws didn't have as much on them as I wanted. I knew Josh was ready to go, and I just didn't want to get to a point where I was hurting us more than I was helping us."

      That point was sooner than Trestman realized - and not just one series sooner.

      The Ugly View From Detroit
      "Want to pick apart the Lions, despite Sunday's 21-19 victory over the Chicago Bears?" Pat Caputo writes for the Oakland Press. "It's easy enough.

      "What were Nick Fairley and Willie Young doing on Chicago's last drive? When are the Lions going to get over taking such foolish personal foul penalties? Ever?

      "The Lions, absolutely, were fortunate the Bears decided to play quarterback Jay Cutler nearly the entire game despite a groin injury, which limited him in many ways. It played right into the Lions' hands.

      "How can a QB, as proficient overall as Matthew Stafford, make such a poor pass, like on his second-half interception with the Lions protecting a precarious lead?

      "The Lions' victory would have been easier if David Akers made his second-half field goal attempt. Kickalious would have made it (just kidding).

      "The point is, why?"

      Yes, why? Click through for the rest.

      -

      See also:
      * Wiederer, Trib: Cutler Confusion Clouds Picture For Bears.

      * Campbell, Trib: Bears Unable To Control Line.

      * Detroit Free Press: A Scout's Take: Lions Shine On Defense.

      * Hoge: Lions Knew Run Was Coming On Two-Point Conversion.

      Note: In his postgame press conference, Trestman said they called a run-pass option, and the Lions defense game them run, so that's what McCown called.

      -

      Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:48 AM | Permalink

      Esprit de Corps: New Exhibition Unveiled Today At Chicago's National Veterans Art Museum

      The National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) will celebrate the first anniversary in its location of 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue with a reception to unveil its newest art exhibition, Esprit de Corps, an exhibition highlighting the spirit of creative resilience.

      The show will be open to the public through August 1, 2014. Esprit de Corps is sponsored by Omicron, Bank of America and Paratech Incorporated.

      Drawing on breakthroughs in using art to assist with reintegration of veterans and for therapeutic expression, Esprit de Corps traces the process and roles of therapeutic art from the act of initial perception through expression of experience to an ultimate communal sharing and understanding of the real impact of war.

      Highlights of programming based on Esprit de Corps include a series of therapeutic art workshops as well as an expanded and interactive arts and civics education programming.

      Esprit de Corps features art by nine veterans of Vietnam, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terror. The NVAM will be free and open to the public with programming and light refreshments from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. on Veterans Day, November 11, 2013. A keynote address by Dr. Jack Bulmash, Chief of Staff of the Hines VA Hospital will take place at 6 p.m. A color guard by the JROTC from Taft High School will take place at noon.

      Featured artists include Joseph Fornelli, Jerry Frech, Jonathan Hancock, Peter Sullivan, Benjamin Suarez, Thomas Gilbertson, Theodore Gostas, Richard Williams and Erica Slone.

      Esprit de Corps is presented in conjunction with performances of Veterans' Voices.

      Veterans' Voices was created by Erasing the Distance with students from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and focuses on the mental health issues facing servicemen and women, veterans, and their families.

      Veterans' Voices opens on November 11 at 7:30 p.m. (at the Filament Theatre, downstairs from the National Veterans Art Museum) and runs for six performances.

      Tickets and more information is available from Erasing the Distance.

      The National Veterans Art Museum will also offer free creative art workshops for youth ages 3 - 18 during the performances on November 12, 13, 18 and 19 (so that parents can attend the performance).

      *

      Iraq War veteran Jerry Frech has loaned a series of journals that he kept during his service in the U.S. Air Force in Security Forces in 2006. These journals record his thoughts and observations in writing and in sketches. Of his journals, Frech notes, "I found myself surrounded by negativity, sorrow and, yes, drama. Without a lot of options to get away from all of the negativity, I escaped the only way I knew how: art."

      Jerry Frech, Journal Series, 2.jpg(ENLARGE)

      *

      Erica Slone, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force for six years who served multiple deployments in the Global War on Terror, will serve as an artist-in-residence with an open studio. Of her interactive and on-site work, Slone comments, "I have spent the past five years researching military veterans' experiences and making art around bridging the disconnection between veterans and contemporary civilian society. Through giving physical form to my own experiences of war, and through social engagement art projects, my work aims to create space for and facilitate intergroup dialogue around current, divisive, socio-political issues."

      slone.jpg(ENLARGE)

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      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

      November 9, 2013

      The Weekend Desk Report

      The Weekend Desk: Prepared to take some down time since 2006.

      Market Update
      The bottom dropped out of Women again as their defective Thigh products continued to drag down blue-chip earners.

      Roach Clipped
      The trial to determine Detroit's eligibility for bankruptcy has ended, with a ruling expected in several days. Meanwhile, the moral bankruptcy trial of nearby Ann Arbor is only just beginning.

      Pot Luck
      For the record, this isn't what the term "roach clip" means either.

      RahmArts
      CPS officials have denied that the Chicago High School for the Arts will relocate from transit-rich Bronzeville to a corner of Humboldt Park largely bereft of CTA options. After all, they totally promised not to open new schools where old ones were closed. So, you know, expect that announcement any day now.

      Divvy The Blame
      Finally this week, you know what they say: 75 new stations means 75 potential new settlements.

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      The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Conquer and divvy.

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      The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Art punks Parquet Courts appear at a special live recording of Sound Opinions."

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      The Weekend Desk Sports Preview

      * The College Football Report: We Can't Stop This Wrecking Ball.

      * The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Lather, Rinse, Retweet.

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      The Weekend Desk Ventra Update
      Tells hometown newspaper that CTA is to blame.

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      The Weekend Desk ObamaCare Update
      Health Care Delays Squeeze Patients In High-Risk Pools.

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      The Weekend Desk Told You So Report

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      The Weekend Desk Entertainment Report

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      The Weekend Desk Special Report On Paul Vallas

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      *

      *

      *

      *

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      Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:23 AM | Permalink

      Health Care Delays Squeeze Patients In State High-Risk Pools

      "This is what keeps me up at night," Tanya Case told me earlier this week.

      Case is executive director of the Oklahoma Temporary High Risk Pool, funded by the federal government to sell insurance to people denied coverage by private health insurers. Her worry is about some 300,000 people in her program and others like it who now must quickly find health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

      Many of the program are set to close by law on Dec. 31.

      By then consumers are supposed to be able to enroll in new plans that can't discriminate against them based on their health status. But as problems continue to bog down the federal health insurance marketplace, Healthcare.gov, it's an open question whether people in the risk pools can get a policy in time.

      "They are very frightened because many of them are undergoing chemotherapy or they're on high-dollar drugs, and they need to make certain that they have coverage effective Jan. 1," said Case, who is also chairwoman of the National Association of State Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans, which represents plans in 35 states.

      "One lady expressed to me, 'I'm in the middle of chemotherapy, and then I have to deal with this on top of everything else and quite frankly, I'm scared to death.' That's what she told me, and you hear that or a version of that quite frequently," Case said.

      People like this were supposed to among the biggest winners under the Affordable Care Act because insurers can no longer discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. As a result, the cost for many is expected to go down substantially. Advocates say they still hope that will happen despite the current glitches.

      "We're all in this tough spot right now of guessing whether people will reasonably be able to get through" to purchase insurance on Healthcare.gov, said Stacey Pogue, senior policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, Texas.

      The concern is particularly acute in the 36 states that are relying on Healthcare.gov to process insurance enrollments. The other states and the District of Columbia are running their own marketplaces.

      A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the agency believes that there is enough time for individuals in the high-risk pools to sign up by Dec. 15 for coverage that begins Jan. 1.

      Federal officials have pledged that Healthcare.gov will be fixed by the end of November. But even if they are true to their word, Pogue said, that would only give consumers two weeks to choose a plan and enroll.

      "I just don't know yet whether it's reasonable," Pogue said.

      Texas is one of 14 states that plan to close its high-risk pool by Jan. 1, according to Case's group. Texas gives its insurance commissioner a bit of discretion to certify that insurance options are "reasonably available" before the state plan shuts down, Pogue said.

      A federal program set up under the Affordable Care Act that serves much the same purpose (and funds Oklahoma's program) will similarly close then.

      Last week, Indiana became the first state to delay its program's closure, giving its 6,800 participants another month to find new plans.

      "The state of Indiana will ensure that these Hoosiers, who are facing significant health care challenges, maintain their health coverage until the problems with the federal marketplace are resolved," Republican Gov. Mike Pence said in a statement.

      Other states are considering similar moves, Case said.

      Although some consumers have been successful signing up for new coverage, she said, "I would say that the majority have not been."

      In California, officials are feeling good about the transition.

      "There are no barriers I am aware of with people from California's high-risk pool or anyone with pre-existing conditions getting covered for January," said Ken Wood, a senior adviser for Covered California, the state's insurance marketplace. "Based on the types of calls our service center has received, these individuals were reaching out the first week of October to understand their options and beginning to move through the enrollment process."

      Case said she and her colleagues in other states are encouraging consumers to shop around by calling different insurance companies - even if they cannot yet enroll on the marketplace website. They can use an online calculator to determine their eligibility for premium subsidies.

      The program Case runs will shut Dec. 31 because it is funded by the federal government. But Oklahoma runs a second program that isn't set to close right away, she said.

      tumblr_inline_mvxgy7B5X51qmqbhx.gif(ENLARGE)

      (Source: National Association of State Comprehensive Insurance Plans)

      -

      Previously:
      * Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

      * How The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza Became A Mistaken Poster Boy For Obamacare.

      * Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare.

      * Answered: Why Two Obama Loyalists Lost Their Health Policies.

      -

      Comments welcome.


      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:13 AM | Permalink

      November 8, 2013

      The College Football Report: We Can't Stop This Wrecking Ball

      Match-Ups Of The Week

      #13 LSU (7-2, 3-2 SEC) vs. #1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0)
      If LSU can't put a dent in the as-of-yet unblemished Tide, we might as well turn over the weird Dr. Pepper Crystal-Football-Paperweight national championship trophy to Alabama for good. Not that we expect the Tigers to win, far from it, nor are we (or anyone else for that matter) looking for another Game of the Century (LSU won the last so-called GOTC in 2011, by a riveting final score of 9-6) but at least make it interesting. (Is Miley Cyrus too passé, 'Bama? Or is "We Can't Stop" still your locker room jam?)

      Our pick: Alabama 24, LSU 13

      *

      #2 Florida State (8-0, 6-0 ACC) vs. Wake Forest (4-5, 2-4 ACC)
      The Seminoles will look to put this game to bed early. With a noon ET kickoff, the 'Noles could be showered and on the couch by mid-afternoon, eagerly awaiting a potential upset bid by LSU. With #2 Oregon losing to #6 Stanford (again!) and thus derailing the Ducks' hopes of national title berth (again!!), one less team remains between FSU and the BCS Championship game. As Tegan and Sara would say, you're one step closer, Seminoles.

      Our pick: Florida State by as much as they want; this is the same team that covered a three-touchdown spread over a rival ranked in the Top 10 last week.

      *

      #Missouri (8-1, 4-1 SEC) vs. Kentucky (2-6, 0-4 SEC)
      The Wildcats are a shocking 4-4 against the spread on the season, putting a wrench into the College Football Report's perennial Always Give The Points Against Kentucky strategy. UK will get back to its losing ways this weekend against the two-touchdown Vegas margin. Expect Mark Stoops to take a Wrecking Ball (too much Miley? Is there such a thing) to the program in the offseason.

      Our pick: Missouri 41, Kentucky 17

      *

      #9 Auburn (8-1, 4-1 SEC) vs. Tennessee (4-5, 1-4 SEC)
      How did we get here? Well, mostly by rail, in the words of Auburn RB Tre Mason: "We just feel like we're a big freight train and once we get started, it's hard to stop us." No one has had much luck slowing down the War Eagle Express, as Mason and mobile QB Nick Marshall have averaged more than 300 yards rushing a game, good for sixth in the nation. Tennessee has stopped on the tracks against a number of other top teams, getting run over by Oregon, Florida, Alabama, and Mizzou by a combined 162 points. The Volunteers can't offer much in response either: the Vols rank 108th in passing yards. An anemic air attack makes coming back against large deficits nigh impossible, but Tennessee has shown signs of life at times and can be a tough 'out' in Knoxville. Will we hear the Tigers "roar" on Saturday or will Auburn leave Tennessee with Rocky Top still ringing in their ears?

      In "Rocky Top," the singer pines for his girl, who is "part bear, the other part cat." We've heard of a rawgqcoon), but that girl sounds like something else. She was "wild as a mink but sweet as soda pop," making her feisty, but with a sweet side, we suppose. Sort of like Gozer the Gozerian in that way.

      Our pick: Auburn 27, Tennessee 23

      *

      Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2 ACC) vs. #11 Miami (7-1, 3-1 ACC)
      As Aloe Blacc says, "Wake me up when it's all over." Well, Miami, you can open your eyes: the Florida State game is over. Fortunately for The U, college football is a game of second chances, and a W over a respectable Va Tech team could help Miami climb back into competition for a BCS bowl.

      Sidebar: Miss College Football Report asked about the Miami mascot last weekend, comparing The U's Sebastian to, not unfairly, Daffy Duck. What is it, exactly? Turns out the university adopted the ibis as the mascot due to the folklore surround the bird's ability to weather the storm when hurricanes roll in. So, there you go. The College Football Report: your source for waterfowl intel.

      Our pick: Miami 24, Virginia Tech 18

      Rivalry Game(s) of the Week
      We like the idea of the multi-team rivalry but outside Texas and Florida, no one seems to pay much attention, possibly because no other state in the country can field more than one ranked team at a time. The "Tobacco Road Rivalry" among Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina and NC State, isn't well known, but two of the four will face off this weekend as the Wolfpack (3-5) visit Duke (6-2). So. Take note.

      Can you imagine a less inspiring rivalry than Illinois (3-5) and Indiana (3-5)?

      Penn State (5-3) and Minnesota (7-2) will battle for the Governors Cup on Saturday, although given the teams involved, the game may be best described as a skirmish. The Cup honors Penn State joining the Big Ten in 1993, making it one of those "we just made this up because we wanted to add some flavor" trophies. Sidebar: the Gophers (-2.5) are favored!

      Western Michigan (1-8) and Eastern Michigan (1-8) don't share a rivalry? Why not? Here's an idea: every year, the two could vie for control of the Silver Sump Pump. Or The Old Moldy Doormat. So many possibilities.

      The Chicken's Picks
      This weekend, the Chicken selects games from the bargain basement of the football schedule, just because he can.

      Old Dominion (-14) vs. Idaho
      Appalachian State vs. Georgia (-40)
      Hawaii vs. Navy (-16.5)
      Tulsa vs. East Carolina (-17)

      Finally, figure this one out: 6-3 Tennessee-Martin, which is 4-1 on the road, plays at Memphis on Saturday and the 1-6 Tigers are *favored* by nearly two (13.5) touchdowns. Maybe bragging rights in a hitherto unknown rivalry are at stake. Perhaps the winner takes home a prize boar or something. Ah, pageantry.

      -

      Mike Luce is our man on campus. He welcomes your comments.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:23 AM | Permalink

      The [Friday] Papers

      "A Chicago attorney specializing in tax law has been barred from preparing most tax returns for anyone other than he and his family, following allegations that he helped customers - including former Bear Kyle Orton and other NFL players - falsely claim more than $16 million in improper tax credits, according to court records," the Tribune reports.

      "Gary J. Stern consented to the civil injunction order, which was filed earlier this week, without admitting to the allegations against him.

      "Stern, currently at Stahl Cowen Crowley Addis LLC, is not allowed to prepare tax returns for individuals, estates, trusts, partnerships or corporations, among others, according to the order. "

      You mean Stern still has his job?

      *

      Stahl Cowen Crowley Addis.

      *

      "As part of his international law and immigration law practices, Gary has developed the 'Welcome to USA' program - a comprehensive program of services for Chinese companies and high net worth persons interested in the United States."

      Where taxes are optional!

      *

      Damn, missed Stern's webinar on reverse gifting.

      *

      "In a 37-page complaint, federal prosecutors allege that Stern organized, operated and promoted elaborate and bogus tax schemes, primarily to help wealthy people evade federal income taxes.

      "According to the complaint, Stern designed at least three tax-fraud schemes that enabled hundreds of people to falsely claim more than $16 million in improper tax credits and avoid paying income tax on at least $3.4 million.

      "While at Chuhak & Tecson, Stern promoted the schemes to customers, colleagues and business associates, according to the complaint."

      *

      Chuhak & Tecson.

      *

      "The complaint alleged his customers included lawyers, entrepreneurs and NFL players, including Orton and retired stars Ray Lewis and Terrell Owens. Those players have filed separate lawsuits against Stern in connection to the tax scheme, alleging fraud and professional malpractice."

      *

      Impressive, but Stern's no Paul Daugerdas.

      Infrastructure Bust
      "After more than a year of talk but little action, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Chicago Infrastructure Trust has made one of its first concrete proposals to help finance the retrofitting of old municipal buildings to make them more energy-efficient," Crain's reports.

      "In a Nov. 4 filing with the Illinois Commerce Commission, the trust outlined a new program that would enable it and other parties pursuing big-ticket energy-efficiency projects to defray at least some of their costs by collecting payments from Commonwealth Edison Co., furnished by ratepayers."

      You've already lost me.

      *

      "[T]he document elicited as many questions as answers. Reached yesterday, Claire Tramm, energy director for the trust, said she couldn't provide answers until late tomorrow at the earliest."

      And never at the latest.

      *

      No, seriously, Tramm won't have a clue how any of this works until Rahm's PR squad explains it to her.

      Infrastructure Rust
      Former Finkl Site To Be Turned Into Industrial Park.

      In a better world: Former Finkl Site To Be Turned Into Industrial Amusement Park.

      Infrastructure Mistrust
      "The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company's vast database of phone records, which includes Americans' international calls, according to government officials," the New York Times reports.

      "The C.I.A. program appears to duplicate work performed by the N.S.A. But a senior American intelligence official, while declining to address whether the AT&T alliance exists, suggested that it would be rational for the C.I.A. to have its own program to check calling patterns linked to overseas terrorism suspects. "

      This is starting to sound awfully familiar.

      Flagg: I'm with the CIC.
      Burns: Not the CIA?
      Flagg: No. I just tell people that so they'll think I'm with the CID.

      *

      Flagg to Hawkeye: I'm with the CID. Although I told your boss I was with the CIA. It throws people off who think I'm with the CIC.

      -

      Answered: Why Two Obama Loyalists Lost Their Health Policies
      Because the plan they already had and liked didn't offer pediatric dental to the 59- and 60-year-old.

      Alderman's Dad Has Book Out
      Former chief of medicine at Cook County Hospital.

      We Just Can't Stop This Wrecking Ball
      In The College Football Report.

      Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons
      Air patrol.

      The Week In Chicago Rock
      Featuring: Robbie Fulks, A$AP Ferg, Sinead O'Connor, the Mike Wheeler Band, Sparks, Charli XCX, The Devil Wears Prada, and Chief Ghoul.

      -

      The Beachwood Reporter Tip Line: Ghoulish.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:28 AM | Permalink

      A Chicago Alderman's Father Is A Doctor With A Book Out

      Ald. Brendan Reilly's father is the executive vice chair of medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital and the Gladys and the Roland Harriman Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

      I learned this after Reilly tweeted the link this week to an excerpt from his father's new book in the Atlantic.

      The excerpt, "How CPR Became So Popular," is from One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine. Let's take a look.

      *

      "What defines an excellent physician?" Dennis Rosen wrote for the Boston Globe in September.

      "Compassion, dedication, respect, professional competence, humility. Those traits would make a good start. All of these qualities shine through the many stories that make up the bulk of Brendan Reilly's One Doctor.' This book is much more than merely a gripping memoir written by an expert storyteller who also happens to be one of the nation's most respected leaders of academic medicine. Spanning a 40-year career, the deftly woven tapestry of anecdotes and scholarly analysis also presents a troubling picture of the ways in which the practice of medicine has changed, and not always for the better insofar as patient care is concerned."

      *

      "However harsh a place, the emergency room at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where Brendan Reilly works, is at least fair," Sam Kean wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

      "'[It's] one of the few truly egalitarian places in Manhattan,' he writes, 'a place where sniveling crack addicts from East Harlem and doubled-over undocumented Dominicans from Queens wait on gurneys alongside wide-eyed, terrified Park Avenue matrons.' Some of Dr. Reilly's patients there are worth millions, some are swindlers; some whine, some show heroic stoicism. All of them need Dr. Reilly's help, medical and otherwise, and he spends most of his powerful book, One Doctor, failing them as best he can.

      "One Doctor rambles over the entire landscape of American medicine - from the perversities of health-care economics to who, exactly, empties the bedpans - and even the book's shortcomings have merit. Dr. Reilly's many, many anecdotes about patients, although vividly written, come almost too quickly sometimes, with a new character appearing practically every page. But this barrage of detail serves an artistic purpose: It captures the chaos that Dr. Reilly faces every day on his rounds.

      "To his credit, the author doesn't censor or conceal what doctors actually think about. He describes how awful some patients smell: 'bodily effluvia mixed with medicinal vapors and bacterial decay.' He gives one elderly woman with brain damage the nickname 'Mona Lisa,' because her eyes, always open, seem to follow him around the room. He recalls the ribbing that one resident gets after a patient suffers a heart attack in the middle of a rectal exam. Most poignantly, Dr. Reilly describes the ugly desperation of much end-of-life care, and he sympathizes with those patients who simply want to die in peace."

      *

      Bloomberg audio: Reilly says everyone should have a primary care doctor who knows them well.

      *

      WNYC: The Leonard Lopate Show.

      "Dr. Brendan Reilly discusses dealing with daunting challenges of caring his patients at a renowned teaching hospital while also caring for his 90-year-old parents He looks at the ways medicine has changed during his career, for both better and worse. His book One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine explores a fragmented, depersonal­ized, business-driven health-care system where real caring is hard to find."

      *

      The book does not appear to have been reviewed in Chicago.

      *

      Reilly was once chief of medicine at Cook County Hospital, he writes in his book, "the famous (and sometimes infamous) 'mother' of American public hospitals."

      *

      From the Sun-Times in 2007:

      "[Ald.] Reilly was raised in Hanover, N.H., a self-described 'faculty brat.' His father taught medicine at Dartmouth College and was chief of medicine at a local hospital .

      "His parents moved here when his father, Dr. Brendan Reilly, became chief of medicine at what is now Stroger Hospital of Cook County .

      "The younger Reilly followed a few years later, a year after graduating from Hobart College in upstate New York in 1994."

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:28 AM | Permalink

      The Week In Chicago Rock

      You shoulda been there.

      1. Robbie Fulks at the Hideout on Monday night.


      -

      2. A$AP Ferg at the Concord on Sunday night.

      -

      3. Sinead O'Connor joining the Mike Wheeler Band at Kingston Mines on Wednesday night.

      O'Connor at City Winery on Monday night.

      -

      4. Sparks at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

      -

      5. Charli XCX at Schubas on Wednesday night.

      -

      6. The Devil Wears Prada at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

      -

      7. Chief Ghoul at Quenchers on Wednesday night.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:12 AM | Permalink

      Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons

      Air patrol.

      birdsroofsatellitedishes.JPG(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

      -

      More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

      -

      Helene on Twitter!

      -

      Meet Helene!

      -

      Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

      -

      Previously:
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:34 AM | Permalink

      Answered: Why Two Obama Loyalists Lost Their Health Policies

      Kaiser Permanente's decision to cancel the insurance policies of lifelong Democrats Lee Hammack and JoEllen Brothers generated a flood of interest.

      The couple, supporters of President Obama, may have to spend twice as much next year for a health insurance plan that has fewer benefits than the plan they have.

      Kaiser explained to them, and to me, that their plan didn't meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and therefore had to be canceled.

      But how could it be, many readers wondered, that the seemingly inferior plan offered for next year met the requirements of the act while the richer one they currently have does not?

      I spent hours trying to figure that out and in the process came upon a related dispute between California's insurance commissioner and the state's new health insurance marketplace over these cancellations.

      Here's what I learned:

      First, President Obama's now-infamous pledge that those who liked their health plan could keep it applied only to people enrolled in those plans as of the day the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, March 23, 2010.

      That became known as the "grandfather" clause.

      Hammack, a San Francisco architect, and Brothers have been members of Kaiser Permanente since 1995, but they've only been enrolled in this particular plan since January 2011. So they do not qualify for the grandfather protection.

      (Even if they did, Politifact has labeled the pledge "pants on fire.")

      Next, and more importantly, the benefits their plan offered didn't fully comply with the Affordable Care Act.

      It did not cover dependents in the manner set out by the law, and it did not cover pediatric dental and vision services, as well as "habilitative services," which include speech, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

      "We did not cover these services in 2013," Kaiser spokesman Chris Stenrud wrote in an e-mail. "Pediatric dental and vision obviously do not apply to this couple, but it is one benefit package, regardless of age."

      These seemed like pretty minor points. Is this really enough to tank this plan? I asked Ken Wood, senior adviser for products, marketing and health plan relations for Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace.

      "Any tiny point tanks the plan," he told me. "If it was just the pediatric dental, that alone would say it's a non-compliant plan."

      There was a bigger issue, too. The plan was medically underwritten, meaning that it carefully chose members based on their health status. The Affordable Care Act eliminates such screening and requires that insurers take all comers.

      "Because their current insurance pool is comprised of healthier people who use fewer medical services, the premium level needed to pay for those services is also less," Stenrud wrote.

      Put another way, Hammack and Brothers are casualties of an insurance system in transition. Until now, insurance companies could pick and choose which consumers to accept and reject. People were forced to pay different amounts based on their age and health status. The new system created by the Affordable Care Act does not allow plans to turn away people with pre-existing conditions or charge them more. As a result, sick people previously denied coverage and healthy people who currently have insurance will pay the same. That makes health care more affordable for many, but less affordable for some.

      But there was something else at play. Stenrud noted that Kaiser's contract with Covered California requires that insurers doing business on the exchange cancel existing contracts at the end of this year - rather than renew them - if they don't meet the requirements of the act.

      "We shared Covered California's view that most consumers would benefit from lower premiums and greater stability in the exchange if we all agreed to forgo early renewals in the individual market," Stenrud wrote.

      For more explanation of what's going on, I called the California Department of Insurance. The agency earlier this week forced Blue Shield of California to extend the canceled health policies of 115,000 members for three months because the insurer did not give them proper notice.

      Janice Rocco, the department's deputy commissioner for health policy and reform, said she anticipates that by year's end, between 900,000 and 1 million Californians will see their individual health insurance policies canceled.

      But it didn't have to be this way, she said.

      Wait, what?

      It's not the act, but the arrangement between insurers and Covered California that mandated the cancellations right now.

      While the Affordable Care Act aims to improve the quality of insurance plans offered, she said, it does not require that insurers cancel all of their contracts at the end of this year. In other states, she noted, consumers are able to keep their policies until they expire in 2014, giving more time to make thoughtful choices.

      Insurers, including Kaiser and Blue Shield, wanted the California legislature to require that all existing individual contracts expire at the end of this year, Rocco said. That could give them a marketing edge because of their size and the short window to make choices, she said. But her department opposed it, and lawmakers didn't go along.

      The insurers were more successful with Covered California, which adopted the requirement, Rocco said.

      "People who did the right thing, played by the rules, were responsible and had health insurance coverage are being forced out of their policies on December 31 by most of the health insurers in this state. This is not required by state or federal law," Rocco said.

      "People without insurance today will have until March 31 to choose which product is best for them," she said, noting the end of the 2014 open enrollment period.

      Covered California defended its requirement.

      "It has always been one of our stated goals to try to start on a level playing field in 2014 and start out the new year with a single risk pool," meaning a melding of young and old, sick and healthy, said Anne Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the exchange.

      Gonzales acknowledged that there will be winners and losers in this transition.

      "There are going to be people out there that are going to find that their premiums are about the same, some are going to have them go up, some are going to have them go down," she said.

      Of the 900,000 or so people whose policies are being canceled in California, she said, about 310,000 will qualify for financial assistance, in the form of premium subsidies, which will lower the cost of coverage. The rest will not.

      "The flip side is 32 million people [in California] will be keeping their plans, and 4 million people will get plans that they couldn't afford to buy before this reform," she said.

      Wood said the situation facing Hammack and Brothers is "unique in my experience" and that the rate they have been paying is more akin to rates for people in their 20s.

      Hammack is 60; Brothers, 59. Together, they pay $550 a month now and could pay up to $1,300 a month after Jan. 1. "At their respective ages, a more typical rate would be $550 each," Wood said.

      Hammack told me that he doesn't know what he's going to do. He makes slightly more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level - $62,000 for a couple - which means he isn't eligible for premium subsidies. But he's considering reducing his income below that level, which would reduce his premiums substantially.

      Wood says that's smart. If Hammack is able to get his income at or below $62,000, he stands to save $10,740, Wood told me in an e-mail.

      "Just as people think about the tax consequences of home ownership and retirement savings, I think health care will now become another area where the middle class will need to think about the tax implications of purchasing individual health insurance," he said.

      Has your insurance been canceled? Have you tried signing up for coverage through the new exchanges? Help us cover the Affordable Care Act by sharing your insurance story.

      -

      Previously:
      * Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

      * How The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza Became A Mistaken Poster Boy For Obamacare.

      * Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare.

      -

      Comments welcome.


      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

      November 7, 2013

      The [Thursday] Papers

      1. State Wedding Industry To Get $74 Million Boost From Gay Marriage.

      State divorce industry, too.

      2. Rahm Defends Ventra Rollout.

      "Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday defended the switch to the CTA's new Ventra fare card system despite major problems with the program's rollout.

      "Difficulties have abounded, from riders having trouble obtaining Ventra cards to getting overcharged for rides on trains and buses. The card readers also in some cases have failed to recognize the cards, forcing CTA employees to let riders board buses and trains for free.

      "The mayor disputed the notion that the Ventra switch has been a debacle.

      "I don't - you can use whatever word you want," Emanuel said. "First of all, 55 percent of people are using it."

      "The comments came the day after CTA President Forrest Claypool and an executive from California-based Cubic Transportation Systems Inc. told business leaders they couldn't say when Ventra cards will begin functioning properly. Emanuel said Cubic won't get paid until the system works smoothly."

      Cubic responded by demanding 55 percent of their fee.

      *

      For the record.

      3. Cullerton Neglected To Vote On Gay Marriage Bill.

      "Illinois Senate President John Cullerton was 'so focused' on the goal of passing gay marriage legislation this week that he inadvertently neglected to cast his own vote on the bill," AP reports.

      So focused on what? The bill passed his chamber 32-21. Josh McCown could have done his job.

      4. Son Too Fat To Fly Home.

      "A French family who came to the United States for medical treatment for their son is now stranded in Chicago because the airline that took them there now say their son is too fat to fly back."

      Can't they just seat him in grill class?

      5. Western Suburbs Eye Trading Gambling Support For Water Rate Drop.

      "The West Central Municipal Conference, which represents 45 municipalities and six community colleges, has proposed that if the General Assembly grants Chicago a license for a casino, then Chicago should lower water rates for the suburbs."

      That makes about as much sense as letting Kevin Costner make a sequel to Waterworld as long as he agrees to make a sequel to Casino.

      6. Rick Renteria Becomes Cubs Manager.

      Dibs on Rick Rentamanager.

      7. Bears Fans: More Concerned When Josh McCown Was Named Starter Last Week Or When Josh McCown Was Named Backup This Week?

      8. Chicago Infrastructure Trust Inches Toward First Financing.

      "The Chicago Infrastructure Trust settled on a model for its inaugural financing but may miss its goal of closing on $27 million deal by the end of the year."

      Not a debacle, Rahm insists.

      9. Keith Moreland Leaves Cubs Radio Booth.

      Team hopes to lure Joe Girardi as replacement.

      *

      Not all readers may know that Girardi has spent time as a broadcaster, which is what makes that joke work, even if weakly.

      *

      Matt Abbatacola of The Score, by the way, reported this morning that Theo Epstein knew from the start that Girardi wasn't leaving New York. I don't doubt that; I've doubted all the "sources" all along whispering into reporters' ears that Girardi was "torn" about coming "home" to Chicago. There is absolutely no indication of that whatsoever, unless Girardi is an unusually good liar. The real question, then, is why Epstein let the story fester. One guess is that it was another Tom Ricketts special. In any case, Abbatacola also reports that Rick Renteria was the Cubs' first choice all along, which isn't hard to believe. What is hard to believe, though, is his further reporting that the Cubs conducted interviews with five other candidates simply as a "courtesy" to them. Would they really waste their time doing so? Perhaps there was insight to gain from what other potential managers had to say about the team, and perhaps there was something to be gained from interviewing potential future managers, but conducting courtesy interviews sounds like a pretty ridiculous thing to do, particularly in turning the process into a circus that positions Renteria as a weak fallback candidate in the minds of fans - and maybe even players.

      10. Testicle-Eating Fish Found in Illinois Lake: "Huge Monster' Washes Up on Shore Near Chicago.

      -

      WGN-TV vs. Penn Jillette
      Mainstream media's war against atheism continues.

      Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare
      New policy: double the cost, half the benefits.

      Exclusive: Bears Template For Success
      In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report.

      Local Book Notes: Angry Parents, Wise Kids
      Orland Park Porn; Nebraska vs. Naperville.

      Dhoom 3: Chicago
      Bollywood by the lake.

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: For not-God's sake.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:15 PM | Permalink

      Dhoom 3: Chicago

      Coming December 20th.


      -

      See also: The Making of Dhoom: On The Sets In Chicago, August to October 2012.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:04 PM | Permalink

      Local Book Notes: Atheists, Graphic Artists & Angry Parents

      1. WGN vs. Penn Jillette.

      WGN-TV's Robin Baumgarten offended by Penn's book title.

      2. Kids vs. Adults.

      "The Illinois Library Association presented Lane Tech College Prep High School with its Intellectual Freedom Award, honoring the school for protesting the removal of the graphic novel Persepolis from Chicago Public Schools," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

      Seems adults never learn this lesson.

      3. Suburban Mom vs. First Amendment.

      "Suburban mom Megan Fox uses libraries regularly to home-school her children, but what she said she saw on a recent visit to a local library left her aghast: three men on three different library computers viewing pornography," the Tribune reports.

      "And, according to library policy, there's nothing wrong with that.

      "Fox wrote a letter to Orland Park library officials and followed up at a library board meeting last month, confronting officials about their policy and posting a video online of the meeting that has been viewed nearly 10,000 times.

      "The Orland Park Public Library cites the First Amendment in explaining why it allows patrons to look up anything - including pornography - on its adult-only computers so long as the material isn't illegal or obscene. The district's stance is an anomaly in the south and southwest suburbs, but other local library districts, including Chicago's, have policies similar to that in Orland Park.

      "Let's see how long their so-called First Amendment rights to porn can stand up against angry parents," said Fox, who lives in a nearby suburb but said she uses the Orland Park library often. "Who do they think they are?"

      Americans, that's who.

      4. U of C Grad Students vs. Fear.

      "In her book The Age of McCarthyism, Ellen Schrecker writes of a telling incident that sounds familiar to those of us who lived the period," Bill Boyarsky writes for Truthdig.

      "University of Chicago graduate students began circulating a petition for a coffee vending machine outside the physics department for late-night workers. But their colleagues refused to sign because 'they did not want to be associated with the allegedly radical students whose names were already on the document.'"

      5. Nebraska vs. Naperville.

      "Neebo, the online retailer and nationwide network of college stores owned by Nebraska Book Co., said it will be opening an office in Naperville, Ill., with operations beginning early next year," the Lincoln Journal-Star reports.

      "The company told employees last week the company's marketing, general merchandise, merchandise planning and Internet platform development functions would be moving to the Chicago area early next year. The company said it would be eliminating jobs locally, but wouldn't specify the number."

      6. Take A Book vs. Leave A Book.

      Movement Catching On.

      7. Old Books vs. New Sales.

      How Your Old Books Turn Into $14 Million In Sales.

      8. Chicago Manual of Style vs. Spanish.

      "The University of Deusto has presented its Manual de estilo Chicago-Deusto," Basque Research reports.

      "This is the adaptation into Spanish of the 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. The original work dates from 1906 and, since its 12th edition in 1969, it has sold more than a million copies. It is, thus, a classic in the sector of reference works and an indispensable tool for teachers and authors drawing up texts for publication, as well as for research, studies, PhD theses or articles for scientific journals.

      "An agreement between the Deusto University and the University of Chicago has enabled this complex process of translation and adaptation to be taken on. The final result is a highly interesting manual with which Deusto aims to position itself in the publishing market for Spain and Latin America."

      9. Poetry Foundation vs. Saturdays.

      10. Special: Chicago Bulls Robot Reading A Book.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:17 AM | Permalink

      Mainstream Media Continues Its War Against Atheism

      Apparently living every day as if it's a holiday is an angry act.


      -

      Baumgarten: I was attacked.

      -

      "Can you imagine Baumgarten saying to Pastor Joel Osteen, 'Your book title is Your Best Life Now . . . doesn't that imply that life up to this point has been very depressing?" the "Friendly Atheist" Hemant Mehta writes.

      -

      Let's break this down.

      1. Penn is playing it a little coy; his book title is not without subtle antagonization, implying that atheists don't need holidays based on myths to celebrate life (and that they celebrate life every day, not just on artificially proscribed days).

      2. Baumgarten is oddly befuddled to apparently not get Penn's larger point (or, if she gets it, to not come up with a better question). In fact, Baumgarten seems offended by Penn's thesis, no matter how much she protests that she "didn't mean anything" by her question.

      3. Mehta is right. More to the point, Osteen or any religious figure is not only automatically accorded respect, but their beliefs are never challenged. ("Joel, when you say 'your best life is now,' does that include Jews? Muslims? Gays?")

      4. Meanwhile, and this is not to be a killjoy, the media celebrates holidays religious and otherwise without regard to the falsity of the claims made by such holidays or the offense given to those who simply do not believe. While this has gotten better in recent years with grudging acknowledgement, for example, that, say, Christopher Columbus was just the worst, the media by and large propagates our nation's myths with more verve than Pravda.

      5. Atheists - and I'm not one; I'm agnostic and there is a difference - who dare to speak out are treated like oddities.

      So just be a little more thoughtful next time, Robin.

      -

      Note: Sorry about the autoplay, Tribune Co. insists on wringing cheap dollars out of its video by aggravating the very viewers whom their clients are selling to. Perhaps a softer sell would be more effective.

      - Steve Rhodes

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:39 AM | Permalink

      Lather, Rinse, Retweet

      I stand corrected.

      The Bears can beat the Packers in a game Aaron Rodgers starts.

      Meat-headedness aside, you hate to see a talented player lose time to broken things, though that sentiment doesn't extend to Christian Ponder who believes he'd been sidelined for the last several weeks with broken promises by the Vikings organization.

      My wife's wine-fueled, initial reaction likely reflected the mood of many a Bear fan. I counted 15 "suck it bitches" before we headed to the kitchen for refills.

      I know I'm getting on in years when I can only do a medium-range buzz on Monday nights*.

      Thanks to the omnipresent malaise of social media, we all have access to the first blush reactions of not only our spouses (I only have one wife, but my mistress is the sea) but countless sports enthusiasts throughout the land.

      Most of these reactions are slightly less intelligent than my wife's, and 22% were committed to e-print without the benefit of the author being tanked. I equally love and passionately hate the Internet.

      And since I couldn't stay away, here's a quick sampling of the Twitter-sphere.

      "H8t ya fakin bro! Kant jog to da tunnel w/brokeass collar bone! U must have broke yo 'gina Rodgers! #Commander-N-Spleef"
      @BarackObama

      "Anybody got a spare helmet? Mine's in the car."
      @SenecaWallace

      "Another white guy laying down on the job. Typical."
      @68Incognito

      "He must really be hurt if he's sitting this one out."
      @Jones_Drew32

      Credit Rating
      I said last week that the thing that most interested me about Monday's game was the play of Josh McCown.

      Now don't misconstrue that as an indication that I believe the journeyman backup is somehow a potential upgrade over Jay Cutler.

      After four years with the same signal caller, it's just nice to get a little strange, even if he does look like retarded Dolph Lundgren . . . or is it the other way around?

      Either way, Josh, I must break you . . . the bad news that you are probably headed back to the bench in the next week or so. Please accept this $840,000 salary as consolation. You knew what this was.

      I want to give Marc Trestman and Phil Emery a little credit here for being the first leadership tandem in a long time able to identify and prepare a serviceable backup QB able to lead the first-team offense when called upon.

      For their next trick, they will identify and prepare a safety who can start 16 games, as needed.

      Your move, gents.

      Lions Share . . . Their Foot . . . In Your Balls
      Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and the rest of the Detroit football team are coming to the lakefront with hopes of kicking Jay Cutler's ailing groin back into Daylight Savings Time.

      Fortunately for Cutler, he likely won't be active for Sunday's contest and the aforementioned Dolph McCown is being backed up by professional cartoon punching bag George C. Scott.

      Last time these teams met, Reggie Bush looked like he was young enough to have just been handed the keys to a $50,000 SUV by a creepily supportive 50-year-old man. I'll say it again: I don't get college football.

      The undercurrent of pedophilia is just too strong for me to give the NCAA any money, so nieces and nephews, I'm giving you an early heads-up that there will be no Florida International Golden Panthers hoodies under the Christmas tree this year.

      It will be interesting to see how the Bears, and their roster as it is currently configured, plan to impose their success template (see below) upon the Lions.

      Success.png

      Other than a drive-by (good enough for Biggie, good enough for you Matt Stafford), I can't come up with any ideas. I guess we'll have to leave it up to the guy who's transitioned from "early-round bust" to "long-term solution in a 4-3" in public opinion faster than any man alive.

      Though if I'm being honest, I'd much rather see Shea "The Hit Man" McClellin put Jim Schwartz in the Sharpshooter (look it up, kids) than Detroit's affable quarterback.

      It's not his fault he got drafted by a team full of pricks.

      Kool-Aid (3 Out Of 5 Soft-Boiled Eggs In A Fancy Cup)
      I'm not kidding. I'm eating those eggs.

      But they will be mixed with a strong Bloody Mary with extra pepper and tabasco so my farts smell weird.

      Looking forward to watching the game together honey!

      In addition to farts ( . . . and the Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Writing Award goes to . . . ), curiosity is what has me most excited about this game.

      Will McCown start again or will the Bears roll with Cutler at 65%?

      If McCown starts, can he be any good for a second-and-a-half consecutive game?

      Was Shea McClellin the one who shot J.R.?

      Is the defense still f-n bad enough for me to try putting one of those eggs into my drink just as an excuse to turn away from the TV?

      Probably!

      Just because I don't think any Jim Schwartz-coached team has finishing ability, the Bears split the season series thanks largely to continued success by the Chicago offense.

      Bears 31
      Lions 24

      *A tip for the budget-conscious drunk: $6 buys you a bottle of Romanian Pinot Grigio, Transylvania's finest export.

      -

      Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

      Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled by Obamacare

      San Francisco architect Lee Hammack says he and his wife, JoEllen Brothers, are "cradle Democrats."

      They have donated to the liberal group Organizing for America and worked the phone banks a year ago for President Obama's re-election.

      Since 1995, Hammack and Brothers have received their health coverage from Kaiser Permanente, where Brothers worked until 2009 as a dietician and diabetes educator.

      "We've both been in very good health all of our lives - exercise, don't smoke, drink lightly, healthy weight, no health issues, and so on," Hammack told me.

      The couple - Lee, 60, and JoEllen, 59 - have been paying $550 a month for their health coverage - a plan that offers solid coverage, not one of the skimpy plans Obama has criticized.

      But recently, Kaiser informed them the plan would be canceled at the end of the year because it did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The couple would need to find another one. The cost would be around double what they pay now, but the benefits would be worse.

      "From all of the sob stories I've heard and read, ours is the most extreme," Lee told me in an e-mail last week.

      I've been skeptical about media stories featuring those who claimed they would be worse off because their insurance policies were being canceled on account of the ACA. In many cases, it turns out, the consumers could have found cheaper coverage through the new health insurance marketplaces, or their plans weren't very good to begin with. Some didn't know they could qualify for subsidies that would lower their insurance premiums. So I tried to find flaws in what Hammack told me. I couldn't find any.

      Hammack recalled his reaction when he and his wife received letters from Kaiser in September informing him their coverage was being canceled.

      "I work downstairs and my wife had a clear look of shock on her face," he said. "Our first reaction was clearly there's got to be some mistake. This was before the exchanges opened up. We quickly calmed down. We were confident that this would all be straightened out. But it wasn't."

      I asked Hammack to send me details of his current plan. It carried a $4,000 deductible per person, a $40 co-pay for doctor visits, a $150 emergency room visit fee and 30 percent co-insurance for hospital stays after the deductible. The out-of-pocket maximum was $5,600.

      This plan was ending, Kaiser's letters told them, because it did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. "Everything is taken care of," the letters said. "There's nothing you need to do."

      The letters said the couple would be enrolled in new Kaiser plans that would cost nearly $1,300 for the two of them (more than $15,000 a year).

      And for that higher amount, what would they get? A higher deductible ($4,500), a higher out-of-pocket maximum ($6,350), higher hospital costs (40 percent of the cost) and possibly higher costs for doctor visits and drugs.

      When they shopped around and looked for a different plan on California's new health insurance marketplace, Covered California, the cheapest one was $975, with hefty deductibles and co-pays.

      In a speech in Boston last week, President Obama said those receiving cancellation letters didn't have good insurance. "There are a number of Americans - fewer than 5 percent of Americans - who've got cut-rate plans that don't offer real financial protection in the event of a serious illness or an accident," he said.

      "Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad-apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received, or use minor preexisting conditions to jack up your premiums or bill you into bankruptcy. So a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good."

      What is going on here? Kaiser isn't a "bad apple" insurer and this plan wasn't "cut rate." It seems like this is a lose-lose for the Hammacks (and a friend featured in a report last month by the public radio station KQED.)

      I called Kaiser Permanente and spoke to spokesman Chris Stenrud, who used to work for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He told me that this was indeed a good plan. Patients in the plan, known as 40/4000, were remarkably healthy, had low medical costs and had not seen their premiums increase in years. "Our actuaries still aren't entirely sure why that was," he said.

      While many other insurance companies offered skimpier benefits, Stenrud said, "our plans historically have been comprehensive."

      Kaiser has canceled about 160,000 policies in California, and about one-third of people were in plans like Hammack's, Stenrud said. About 30,000 to 35,000 were in his specific plan.

      "In a few cases, we are able to find coverage for them that is less expensive, but in most cases, we're not because, in sort of pure economic terms, they are people who benefited from the current system . . . Now that the market rules are changing, there will be different people who benefit and different people who don't."

      "There's an aspect of market disruption here that I think was not clear to people," Stenrud acknowledged. "In many respects it has been theory rather than practice for the first three years of the law; folks are seeing the breadth of change that we're talking about here."

      That's little comfort to Hammack. He's written to California's senators and his representative, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asking for help.

      "We believe that the Act is good for health care, the economy, & the future of our nation. However, ACA options for middle-income individuals ages 59 & 60 are unaffordable. We're learning that many others are similarly affected. In that spirit we ask that you fix this, for all of our sakes," he and Brothers wrote.

      Consumer advocate Anthony Wright said it's important to remember the way the insurance market worked before the act was passed, when insurers could deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. "It's impossible to know what the world would have looked like for these folks in the absence of the law," said Wright, executive director of the group Health Access.

      "We certainly had an individual market, especially in California which was the Wild Wild West, where there were huge price increases, cancellations, a range of other practices.

      "That doesn't mean that there weren't certain people who lucked out in the old system, who wound up in a group with a relatively healthy risk mix and thus lower premiums," he added. "The question is: Is health insurance something where people get a rate based on the luck of the draw or do we have something where we have some standards where people who live in the same community, of the same age, with the same benefit package are treated equally?"

      Wright said discussions should focus on how to provide consumers like Hammack with assistance if they barely miss qualifying for subsidies.

      So what is Hammack going to do? If his income were to fall below four times the federal poverty level, or about $62,000 for a family of two, he would qualify for subsidies that could lower his premium cost to as low as zero. If he makes even one dollar more, he gets nothing.

      That's what he's leaning toward - lowering his salary or shifting more money into a retirement account and applying for a subsidy.

      "We're not changing our views because of this situation, but it hurt to hear Obama saying, just the other day, that if our plan has been dropped it's because it wasn't any good, and our costs would go up only slightly," he said. "We're gratified that the press is on the case, but frustrated that the stewards of the ACA don't seem to have heard."

      -

      Previously:
      * Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

      * How The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza Became A Mistaken Poster Boy For Obamacare.

      -

      Comments welcome.


      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

      November 6, 2013

      The [Wednesday] Papers

      We'll leave it to others to do the heavy lifting on Charlie Trotter; fine dining is not our specialty around here. But we can offer the uninitiated a glimpse of what Trotter and his restaurant were like through some video culled from YouTube.

      *

      In his last public appearance, Charlie Trotter described himself - surely not for the first time - as an "excellentist."

      *

      Not being a foodie or restaurant aficionado per se, I have to say I'm most grateful to Trotter for bringing the phrase "nonsense upon stilts" into my life, even if the phrase originated from philsopher Jeremy Bentham.

      *

      I also appreciated Trotter's campaign against foie gras, which I wrote about in The Foie Gras Follies.

      *

      Trotter was also one of our candidates to light the Olympic flame should the Games have been awarded to Chicago:

      "Charlie Trotter will ignite the flame after adding bananas, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to the torch, along with a splashes of dark rum and banana liqueur. The torch will then be served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and garnished with powdered sugar and fresh mint."

      *

      Of course, Trotter was known for behaving badly, which has been and will continue to be duly noted in the memorials and tributes. I can only say it's never necessary to do so to pursue excellence, and I hope the lessons the media draws and propagates from Trotter's life don't mistake this.

      Rahm Emanuel vs. Rob Ford
      Compare and contrast.

      Rahm Emanuel vs. Betsy Hodges
      The people of Minneapolis elected Betsy Hodges their new mayor on Tuesday night. How different is the political culture there than it is here? From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's endorsement of Hodges:

      "She was working at a New Mexico home for the mentally ill in 1992 when three Los Angeles police officers were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King, and the event sparked her interest in racial inequalities and public service. That led her to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a master's degree in sociology before returning to Minnesota in the late 1990s."

      When Rahm was getting rich.

      *

      Also of note, Minneapolis voters approved an amendment in 2008 instituting "ranked-choice voting." This was the first time it was used without an incumbent standing for re-election.

      *

      Minneapolis voters had 35 candidates for mayor to choose from. To get on the ballot, one must simply submit an affidavit and pay a $20 filing fee.

      There aren't petitions like there are here, unless you want to avoid the filing fee, which you can do if you "gather enough signatures of support," Star Tribune notes.

      "That would be the lesser of two numbers: either 500 signatures or 5 percent of the total number of votes cast in the town, ward or other election district at the last general election when that office was on the ballot (which would be 2,298 for a Minneapolis mayoral candidate this year). So in the mayor's race, a candidate would need to gather just 500 signatures."

      Oh, Chicago, you live in a cave.

      *

      By the end of October, Hodges had raised about $250,000 for what would be her winning campaign.

      About Obama's Drone Transparency Pledge
      Six months later, we're still in the dark.

      Fantasy Fix
      Second-half stars to put you over the goal line.

      -

      Gaydar Illinois

      *

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Radar love.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

      Dining At Trotter's

      We'll leave it to others to do the heavy lifting on Charlie Trotter; fine dining is not our specialty around here. But we can offer the uninitiated a glimpse of what Trotter and his restaurant were like through some video culled from YouTube.

      1. From the chef's table.


      -

      2. An 18-year evolution of the same dish.

      -

      3. Steam through the nose.

      -

      4. From Mark Bazer's Interview Show, borrowing chicken from Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba and the Henry Ford school of dining.

      *

      -

      5. Trotter on his legacy.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:40 AM | Permalink

      Rahm vs. Rob

      At least our mayor doesn't smoke crack, though sometimes it sure seems like he's on it.

      Rahm: Noted fundraiser.
      Rob: Noted funraiser.

      Rahm: Closed 50 schools.
      Rob: Smoked 50 bowls.

      Rahm: Born with silver spoon in his mouth.
      Rob: Born with silver spoon on his Bunsen burner.

      Rahm: The fix is in.
      Rob: Needs a fix.

      Rahm: A dealmaker.
      Rob: Has a dealer.

      Rahm: Close ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
      Rob: Close ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

      Rahm:Self-identifies as a Koch brother.
      Rob: Self-identifies as a coke brother.

      Rahm: Lies about having enough cops to control the city's open-air drug markets.
      Rob: Lies about having visited the city's open-air drug markets.

      Rahm: Finds enough money to help DePaul shoot the rock.
      Rob: Finds enough money to smoke the rock.

      Rahm: Says he gets drugs off the street.
      Rob: Really gets drugs off the street.

      Rob: Smokes crack.
      Rahm: Taxes smokes.

      Rahm: Half a finger.
      Rob: Half an ounce.

      Rob: Denies what police have on video.
      Rahm: Denies what press has on video.

      Rahm: "I swim a mile on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and then I run two miles home. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I bike on the stationary for 25 minutes at a high level and then do 15 minutes elliptical and a weight routine. On Saturdays I bike 25 miles outside and on Sundays I take a private yoga class. And I take a multi-vitamin every day."
      Rob: "Crack."

      Rob: May seek treatment in city mental health center.
      Rahm: Shuttered half the city's mental health centers.

      Rob: Drunken stupor.
      Rahm: Stupor.

      Rob: Says reporters don't ask the right questions.
      Rahm: Says reporters don't ask the right questions.

      Rob: Needs drug treatment.
      Rahm: Needs anger management treatment.

      Rob: Approval ratings going up.
      Rahm: Approval ratings going down.

      Rahm: Baller.
      Rob: Does eight-balls.

      Rob: Smokes crack.
      Rahm: Breaks your mama's back.

      - Matt Farmer, Tim Willette, Eric Emery, Steve Rhodes

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:46 AM | Permalink

      Six Months After Obama Promised To Divulge More On Drones, Here's What We Still Don't Know

      Nearly six months ago, President Obama promised more transparency and tighter policies around targeted killings.

      In a speech, Obama vowed that the U.S. would only use force against a "continuing and imminent threat to the American people." It would fire only when there was "near-certainty" civilians would not be killed or injured, and when capture was not feasible.

      The number of drone strikes has dropped this year, but they've continued to make headlines.

      On Friday, a U.S. drone killed the head of the Pakistani Taliban. A few days earlier came the first drone strike in Somalia in nearly two years.

      How much has changed since the president's speech?

      We don't know the U.S. count of civilian deaths

      The administration says that it has a count of civilian deaths, and that there is a "wide gap" between U.S. and independent figures. But the administration won't release its own figures.

      Outside estimates of total civilian deaths since 2002 range from just over 200 to more than 1,000.

      The Pakistani government has given three different numbers: 400, 147 and 67. McClatchy and the Washington Post obtained intelligence documents showing that for long stretches of time, the CIA estimated few or no civilian deaths. The documents also confirmed the use of signature strikes, in which the U.S. targets people without knowing their identity. The CIA categorized many of those killed as simply "other militants" or "foreign fighters." The Post wrote that the agency sometimes designated "militants" with what seemed like circumstantial or vague evidence, such as "men who were 'probably' involved in cross-border attacks" in Afghanistan.

      The administration reportedly curtailed signature strikes this year, though the new guidelines don't necessarily preclude them. A White House fact sheet released around Obama's speech said that "it is not the case that all military-aged males in the vicinity of a target are deemed to be combatants." It did not say that people must be identified. (In any case, the U.S. has not officially acknowledged the policy of signature strikes.)

      Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed only that four Americans have been killed by drone strikes since 2009: Anwar al Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, Samir Khan, and Jude Kenan Mohammed.

      Holder said that only the elder Awlaki was "specifically targeted," but did not explain how the others came to be killed.

      Although Obama said that this disclosure was intended to "facilitate transparency and debate," since then, the administration has not commented on specific allegations of civilian deaths.

      We don't know exactly who can be targeted

      The list of groups that the military considers "associated forces" of al-Qaeda is classified. The administration has declared that it targets members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and "elements" of al-Shabaab, but there are still questions about how the U.S. determines that an individual belonging to those groups is in fact a "continuing and imminent threat." (After the terror alarm that led to the closing of U.S. embassies this summer, officials told the New York Times they had "expanded the scope of people [they] could go after" in Yemen.)

      This ties into the debate over civilian casualties: The government would seem to consider some people legitimate targets that others don't.

      Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch conducted in-depth studies of particular strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, respectively. They include eyewitness reports of civilian deaths. (Most of the deaths investigated happened before the Obama administration's new policies were announced, although the administration has not said when those guidelines went into effect.) The reports also raised questions of the legality of specific strikes, questioning whether the deaths were all unavoidable casualties of legitimate attacks.

      It does not appear that the U.S. plans to expand strikes against al-Qaeda to other countries - officials have reportedly told Iraq, for example, it won't send drones there. But the U.S. has established a surveillance drone base in Niger, and fed information from drones to French forces fighting in Mali.

      We don't know if the U.S. compensates civilian casualties

      CIA director John Brennan suggested during his confirmation hearing that the U.S. made condolence payments to harmed families. But there is little evidence of it happening. U.S. Central Command told ProPublica that it had 33 pages related to condolence payments - but wouldn't release any of them to us.

      We don't always know which strikes are American

      While unnamed officials sometimes confirm that strikes came from U.S. drones, other attacks may be from Pakistani, Yemeni, or even Saudi planes.

      (It's also worth noting that the U.S. has also used cruise missiles and Special Forces raids. But the bulk of U.S. counterterrorism actions outside Afghanistan in recent years appear to rely on drones.)

      We don't know the precise legal rationale behind the strikes

      Some members of Congress have seen the legal memos behind targeted killing of U.S. citizens. But lawmakers were not granted access to all memos on the program.

      Other congressmen have introduced bills with more reporting requirements for targeted killings. (Proposals for a "drone court" for oversight have not gotten very far.)

      It's far from clear that any of that additional oversight would lead to public disclosure.

      The government and the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times are still locked in court battles over requests for drone documents. While a judge has ruled the CIA can no longer assert the "fiction" that it can't reveal if it has any interest in drones, the agency hasn't been compelled to release any information yet. The government has also so far fought off disclosure of legal memos underpinning targeted killings.

      And here are some things we've learned through leaks and independent reporting:

      How the U.S. tracks targets: Documents provided by Edward Snowden to the Washington Post detailed the NSA's "extensive involvement." Lawyers in a terrorism-related case also uncovered reports that government surveillance of their client may have led to a drone strike in Somalia. The Atlantic published a detailed account of Yemen using a child to plant a tracking chip on a man who was killed in a U.S. strike.

      What people in the countries affected think: The Pakistani government's cooperation with at least some U.S. drone strikes - long an open secret - has now been well-documented. Public sentiment in the country is vividly anti-drone, even when violent Taliban commanders are killed, and politicians continue to denounce them as American interference.

      Limited polling in the region most affected by drones is contradictory, with some saying that at the very least, they prefer drones to the Pakistani military campaigns.

      Life in those areas is between a drone and a hard place: Residents told Amnesty International of the psychological toll from drones, and they also face reprisals from militants who accuse them of spying.

      Yemen's president continues to openly embrace U.S. strikes, though the public generally opposes them - particularly those strikes that hit lower-level fighters, or those whose affiliations with al-Qaeda aren't clear.

      Foreign Policy recently detailed the aftermath of an August strike where two teenagers died. Their family disputes they had any link to terrorism.

      The physical infrastructure: More of the network of drone bases across the world has been revealed - from the unmasking of a secret base in Saudi Arabia to the fact that drones had to be moved off the U.S. base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, after crashes and fear of collision with passenger planes.

      The CIA's role: The administration had reportedly planned to scale back the CIA's role in targeted killing, moving control of much of the drone program to the military. But the CIA reportedly still handles strikes in Pakistan and has a role in Yemen as well.

      The history of the programs: Revelations continue to change our understanding of the contours of the drone war, but two books published this year offer comprehensive accounts - The Way of the Knife, by Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times, and Dirty Wars, by Jeremy Scahill.

      -

      Previously:
      * Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

      * Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

      * Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

      * Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

      * The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies.

      * Everything You Wanted To Know About Drones But Were Afraid To Ask.

      * Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

      * The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

      * How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

      * Hearts, Minds And Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Strike Age.

      * Boy's Death In Drone Strike Tests Obama's Transparency Pledge.

      * Does The U.S. Pay Families When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

      * Confirmed: Obama's Drone War Is Illegal And Immoral.

      -

      Comments welcome.


      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:35 AM | Permalink

      November 5, 2013

      Fantasy Fix: Second-Half Stars

      We're officially into the second half of the football season, with only three weeks left in the fantasy football regular season in many leagues. It's time to look for a few late-bloomers who might provide the edge needed to make the fantasy playoffs and maybe even win a championship.

      Here are a few candidates:

      QB

      Nick Foles, PHI: Honestly, he was already a candidate before his record-tying seven-TD performance in Week 9, and he probably would be easier to steal off the waiver wire this week had he not gone crazy, and had Aaron Rodgers not gotten injured Monday night. Those two factors will make him the hottest waiver wire pick-up across all positions this week.

      Case Keenum, HOU: Threw for 350 yards and three TDs against a good Colts defense last week. Though the Texans have had their problems and now have a coach sidelined by a stroke, Keenum has talented receivers to work with and not much to lose by airing it out every week.

      RB

      Mike James, TAM: Doug Martin's replacement ran for 158 yards and threw for a TD in Week 9. He may not score much, but the rookie is making the most of his chance, and giving the Buccaneers a reason to sideline Martin for the rest of the season. The Bucs are stubbornly insisting Martin may play in Week 10, but I think they'll come to their senses.

      Rashad Jennings, OAK: Went wild for 176 total yards in Week 9 after Darren McFadden was injured. McFadden's injury is hamstring-related, which could mean a long layoff for him and many more touches for Jennings.

      WR

      Riley Cooper, PHI: Ended up at the other end of many Foles passes last week, to the tune of 139 yards and three TDs. Foles has a clear rapport with him, so if you miss out on Foles and find yourself thin at WR, Cooper could be a nice consolation prize.

      Aaron Dobson, NE: He essentially lost playing time early in the season to upstart Kenbrell Thompkins and veteran Julian Edelman, but he has 287 yards receiving and three TDs in the last four weeks. He's got a bye this week, but he seems to be emerging at the right time to be a postseason fantasy contributor.

      TE

      Jordan Reed, WAS: Has averaged about 80 yards receiving per game over the last four weeks. QB Robert Griffin III has been seeking him out, and with WAS having a porous defense, RG3 should be throwing a lot in the weeks to come.

      Expert Wire
      * ESPN has a guide to the biggest single-game fantasy scorers of all time. Foles now holds the single-game mark for 2013.

      * Bleacher Report shows us what's to be gleaned from Week 9.

      * CBSSports.com sizes up trade value for several players.

      -

      Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:34 PM | Permalink

      The [Tuesday] Papers

      Is there a quarterback controversy in Chicago? Josh McCown seemed to run Marc Trestman's professional offense with much more precision than Jay Cutler has. Cutler always seems like he's fighting whatever system he's in - reining in his impulses to play backyard gunslinger to fit into a box which doesn't suit him. McCown last night played like he was Trestman's long-lost identical twin. Even quarterback guru and TV analyst Jon Gruden marveled at McCown's ability to come off the bench and run through his progressions in terrifying speed, like he was Peyton Manning with extra sets of eyes on both sides of a head housing a mega-gigabyte brain.

      Along the way, Bears fans were treated to a prime example of why having a great offense lead the way in today's NFL instead of a great defense like in the Lovie years is the way to go: The Bears controlled that game. That's what you can do when you have the ball. Offense is proactive; defense is reactive. The Bears controlled the game's tempo and momentum - with a few disruptions like when the Packers' running game got in a groove and when Mike McCarthy outbolded a bold Trestman with that onside kick call - and in the end, on the Bears' final, beautiful drive, it made all the difference.

      Of course, there is no quarterback controversy in Chicago. Trestman made sure to say after the game that "When [the doctors] approve Jay to play, then Jay will be back in there" without having been asked. That might be sooner than Bears fans hope - sources are telling reporters that Cutler could be back this weekend against Detroit. That would be astounding, given how most local analysts kept cautioning us that four weeks out was an absolute minimum for an injury was awful as a torn groin. (It would also be vindication for Brandon Marshall, who was skewered by the local sports punditry for suggesting Cutler would be back sooner than everyone expected; Marshall, it was said, was setting up Cutler for the kind of criticism that Derrick Rose faced for not returning from injury last year.)

      McCown appears to be a relatively brainy guy who might make for a good coach one day; if you stuck his head on Cutler's body, you'd have superquarterback. Or if you glued Cutler's arm to McCown. McCown does not have Cutler's physical gifts. But then, neither did Joe Montana. In Trestman's offense, though, a rifle for an arm may not be the most important gift to possess.

      Still, Josh McCown is Josh McCown. (He's also no Seneca Wallace, thankfully.) McCown had a great night and has served the Bears extremely well. He's also a prime example of why every team in this league needs a savvy veteran as a backup QB, along with any young buck they are trying to bring along.

      *

      Here's the play I can't forget.

      *

      With Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte, the Bears have four potential All Pros just at the offensive skill positions alone. Remarkable.

      *

      For a rundown of the game, see our very own Jim Coffman's Maestros: Marc and McCown.

      Millennium Mess
      "Former Mayor Richard M. Daley borrowed nearly $30 million to cover the costs of running Millennium Park, loans that started the year after one of his signature achievements opened late and over budget and ended after he left office," the Tribune reports.

      "As a result, taxpayers so far have been saddled with $3.5 million in interest costs to keep open the 24-acre showpiece that features gardens, an outdoor pavilion and the Cloud Gate sculpture commonly called the Bean.

      "It was an unusual way to pay for day-to-day expenses, akin to a struggling family using a line of credit to pay for groceries. And it's a small amount compared with the billions of dollars in bond money Daley spent in a similar fashion as detailed in a Tribune investigation published Sunday."

      I haven't read the Trib's investigation into city bonds yet, but the Millennium Park story alone exemplifies how a) Daley's much-lauded financial management was an illusion and b) the parking meter lease deal wasn't a singular misstep but illustrative of how Daley did business.

      Also: Millennium Park was - and remains - an epic disaster no matter how much people have enjoyed and continue to enjoy its attractions. It's not clear at all that it's been economically beneficial to the city, especially considering alternative uses of the land and/or the resources that went into it (as I've long argued to considerable pushback).

      Police State Chicago
      "For decades, Chicago police officers have filled out a "contact card" after making a street stop, listing the individual's name, age, race and reason for the stop," the Tribune reports.

      "Under pressure to reduce violence, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has been prodding commanders in recent months to increase the use of contact cards, putting 'our hands on people,' as he put in at a meeting earlier this year.

      "The result: through the first 10 months of the year, officers had filled out more than 600,000 contact cards, already more than last year and far ahead of 2011 when McCarthy took office.

      "Civil libertarians and crime experts are raising concerns that the number of unconstitutional stop-and-frisks are also on the rise as a result."

      The rest of the story is behind a paywall, but I can tell you that this has been a contentious issue for years and is a chief driver of mistrust between people in communities where this occurs regularly and police. Essentially, the cops are asking people of color to show their papers.

      *

      Maybe the police are only collecting metadata.

      Sunny Payday The Chicago Way
      "A D.C. government agency paid a Chicago consulting firm $89,995 for one day of work at a recent city education conference, a fee that included a half-hour keynote speech, three 45-minute parent workshops and hundreds of copies of parenting books," the Washington Post reports.

      "The Office of the State Superintendent of Education hired the firm without soliciting or considering other bids, according to an agency spokeswoman. The agency sponsored the Sept. 7 conference in an effort to reach out to parents, using D.C. tax dollars to pay the Chicago firm even as many speakers that day - as well as the keynote speaker at the same conference in 2012 - volunteered."

      And now, the big reveal:

      "SPC Consulting is headed by Sunny P. Chico, a former U.S. Education Department official who contracts with school systems. She is married to lobbyist Gery Chico, who ran for Chicago mayor in 2011 and serves as chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education."

      Here's the contract.

      Broomstickets
      Street-Sweeping Warning Signs Are Broken, But City Still Issuing Tickets.

      Yeah, these didn't work in Wicker Park a few yeas ago either.

      MTV Loves Chicago Rappers
      Plus: U of C Prof Unearths First Replacements Interview & Illinois' Taylor Swift. In our Local Music Notebook.

      Local TV Stations Fear Implied Nudity
      Reject ad from notorious furniture store whose spots have inspired spoofs nationwide.

      Relief For Forest Preserves Visitors
      Sweet Smelling Toilet Technology is here!

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Sweet and sour.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:48 AM | Permalink

      New Restroom Facilities Offer Great Relief For Forest Preserves Visitors

      Installation has begun on the first of 10 new permanent toilet buildings for the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The restroom at the Bremen Grove Forest Preserve in south suburban Oak Forest is expected to open in mid-November. The remaining nine facilities will be installed in spring 2014.

      "We recognize that having access to clean bathrooms makes a huge difference to our visitors, especially families, and we are committed to meeting this need," Forest Preserves of Cook County General Superintendent Arnold Randall said. "Over the next year, we will add new bathrooms around the county, particularly in widely used picnic groves that don't currently have enough options."

      The new bathrooms at Bremen Grove are the first modern vault toilets in Cook County's Forest Preserves. These non-flush toilets are widely used in other Forest Preserves as well as national and state parks and use the U.S. Forest Service's "Sweet Smelling" technology.

      A vault toilet will also be installed at the Maple Lake East site in the Palos Preserves next year. The two vault toilet facilities will be open year-round and will be serviced regularly by Forest Preserves staff.

      The other eight restrooms will be secure, single-unit flush toilets. They will all be installed in popular picnic groves that currently have limited facilities. For example, Schiller Woods, the second most popular site for picnics in the Forest Preserves in 2012, has 13 picnic groves, but no permanent bathrooms. Schiller Woods will receive two of the pre-fab buildings next year. The new bathrooms will reduce the Forest Preserves' need for portable restrooms at these sites.

      "We're committed not only to building these new restrooms, but to making sure they are clean and welcoming at all times for the millions of people who visit the Forest Preserves each year. To that end, our maintenance staff will continue to make caring for our restrooms a top priority, including shifting more resources to these efforts during busy summer weekends." Randall said.

      The full list of sites receiving new bathrooms is below.

      FLUSH TOILETS:

      * Harms Woods (Morton Grove)

      * Barrington Road Pond (Hoffman Estates)

      * Schiller Woods (Schiller Park) (two units)

      * North Creek Meadow (Lynwood)

      * Carl Hansen Woods (Hanover)

      * Miller Meadow (Maywood)

      * Wampum Lake (Thornton)


      VAULT TOILETS:

      * Maple Lake East (Palos)

      * Bremen Grove (Oak Forest)


      The Forest Preserves is also building new bathrooms at Swallow Cliff (Palos), Rolling Knolls (Elgin), and enhancing the public restrooms at the Dan Ryan Woods (Chicago.)

      -

      SST!

      -

      See also:
      * Age of the Sweet Smelling Toilet.

      * The Sweet Smell of Success.

      * Vault Toilets: A Step Up From The Pit.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:26 AM | Permalink

      Local TV Stations Afraid Of Implied Nudity Reject Furniture Commercial

      "The Dump, the new discount furniture outlet in Lombard, wants to pour tens of thousands of dollars into local TV advertising this week," the Sun-Times reports.

      "Only problem is finding a station that will take its money. CEO E.J. Strelitz said that both the NBC and CBS affiliates in Chicago refuse to air a 30-second clip that features two middle-aged nudists, crossed legs, a couch and a fortuitously placed ball of yarn, a la the first Austin Powers.

      "Our DNA is, we're a disruptive retail concept," Strelitz says. "We wanted advertising introducing ourselves in the Chicago market to be equally disruptive."

      Click through to see a still from the completely non-offensive offending spot.

      Meanwhile, the Dump's commercials in other markets must be notorious in other markets because they've inspired a few spoofs. Let's take a look.

      1. The Dump Is Going Under - Under Its Own Prices!

      -

      2. The Dump Is Going Out Of Business - Again!

      -

      3. They've Been Dumped - For Real!

      -

      4. Oops, This Commercial Is Actually A News Report!

      -

      5. But It's Called The Dump!

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:47 AM | Permalink

      Local Music Notebook: MTV Loves Chicago Rap

      1. Vic Mensa Breaks Down Chicago Slang.

      -

      Rockie Fresh and Casey Veggies team up for a new mixtape:

      *

      Chance the Rapper is touring with Eminem but has never met him:

      -

      2. FakeShoreDrive: The Chicago Dates For The Yeezus Tour Have Been Postponed.

      3. Exclaim!: The Lawrence Arms Sign To Epitaph For New LP.

      4. University Of Chicago Professor May Have Conducted First Replacements Interview Ever.

      "On the night of January 30, 1981, Michael Bourdaghs was a 19-year-old sophomore at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota," 'Mats biographer Jim Walsh writes.

      "He spent most of his free time working at the college radio station, WMCN, and was a few weeks away from dropping out (he returned a couple years later, got his degree, and is now a professor of Japanese literature at the University Of Chicago).

      "Bourdaghs' buddy Frank Roetzel introduced Michael to The Replacements, and that night the two interviewed the band and recently installed manager Peter Jesperson in the dressing room of Zoogie's (formerly Jay's Longhorn) after their opening set for The Suburbs.

      "Bourdaghs recently found the tape of that interview. Through the hiss and years, it's all there, and here: The humor, camaraderie, irreverence, youthful abandon (Tommy Stinson is 15), and simmering ambition that would carry the band for ten more years and beyond. The interview begins with Bourdaghs asking the band members to state their name and the instrument they play."

      *

      Bourdaghs' U of C faculty bio.

      5. Teen Singer To Perform At Chicago's House Of Blues.

      "Selected out of 1,000 applicants in Illinois, a teenage singer and songwriter from Canton will be living her dream next month," the Canton, Illinois, Daily Ledger reports.

      "Heather Green, a 15-year-old sophomore at Canton High School, will be performing at the House of Blues in Chicago on Nov. 13.

      "The performance will be for Bringin' Down the House, which showcases high school musicians from the state."

      From "Music in the Park" in Canton in June:

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:55 AM | Permalink

      SportsTuesday: Maestros Marc And McCown

      Thank goodness they didn't blow it. Thank goodness ridiculous breakdowns on defense and special teams didn't cost the Bears a win the offense so richly deserved.

      Of course the defense did come through with the one huge play that changed everything. Shea McClellin, the player who had faced near universal disdain for his play at defensive end so far this season used his speed to take down Aaron Rodgers and possibly break his collarbone (that's the most likely injury when a football player hits the turf the way Rodgers hit the turf) in the first quarter.

      The Bears knew the one thing they could do to slow down Rodgers was to hit him hard early and McClellin made it happen. And really, the defensive line as a whole had a big night. Julius Peppers had that awesome tip and pick and Corey Wootton capped things off with that last, epic sack.

      The linebackers not so much but obviously injuries are a huge factor. The cornerbacks did okay but they were facing a Packer receiving unit seriously diminished by injuries of their own.

      The safeties, wow, they were brutal again. It doesn't help that Chris Conte and Major Wright seem to find themselves on an island more frequently than others who play their position. In other words, either they make a play or an opposing player breaks free. You probably have to blame defensive coordinator Mel Tucker's scheme for at least some of their shortcomings.

      In particular, the Bears initially did set up in a ridiculous cover-2 (playing both safeties deep) when Seneca Wallace came into the game. And therefore many of them were in terrible position on the Packers' first big run, James Starks' 32-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.

      They were in terrible position in particular because if the Bears were going to lose to a Wallace-led offense, everyone (except Tucker at least initially) knew they had to make the back-up quarterback beat them with his arm.

      And that touchdown was set up by the sort of brutal special teams breakdown that has plagued the Bears and coach Joe DeCamillis this season. After Adam Podlesh had a punt blocked, you could almost hear a familiar song wafting out of sports bars across Chicago: "Where have you gone David To-oo-oub? Bears nation turns its lonely eyes to you."

      Later in the game, the Bear defense seemed in position to switch out of the cover-2 just in time to be in better position to stop another big run, but Wright was late getting there and analyst Jon Gruden pointed out that he missed his gap. (Ex-Bear Hunter Hillenmeyer begged to differ.) The next thing you knew, Eddie Lacy was racing 56 yards to set up his one-yard touchdown on the next play.

      Whether it was Wright or McClellin who blew the play, a fan also had to wonder: Why were the Bears even in that set-up?

      Then came the onside kick and the Chicago area was threatened by a forecast of both gloom and doom.

      Except the offense saved the day, with a little help from some decent red-zone defense that held the Packers to a post-onside kick field goal and to a three-and-out the next time they had the ball (I mentioned that some of the Bears defenders had good nights didn't I?). First came the third touchdown. And then the Bears really stuck it to the Packers, capping off the game with an awesome clock-eater of a drive that started with 9:56 on the clock.

      It was clear all game that Marc Trestman is hitting his stride as a play-caller. He stayed one step ahead of the Packer defense all night - after one play Gruden gawked at how the Bears coach had called the perfect play against an anticipated Packers blitz - capping it off with the calls that led to the Bears driving more than 80 yards in over nine minutes, forcing the Packers to burn all of their timeouts and capping it off with Robbie Gould's 27-yard field goal with only 53 seconds left.

      Usually I hate giving coaches too much credit. I listen to the college basketball analysts/sycophants yammering about what an amazing job coaches are doing when it is clearly the players deserving the majority of credit and I want to reach into my TV and slap 'em. Clearly the individual Bears, led by Josh McCown, had a great night on offense.

      But Trestman was a maestro, mixing runs with passes until killing the clock became the ultimate priority and then coming up with the fake sprint sweep one way, pitch back the other to Matt Forte for a critical late first down (Gruden said he'd never seen that particular play - and he's seen a lot of plays). And Forte carefully getting down inbounds to keep the clock running . . . it was beautiful stuff.

      One can only hope that somewhere George Halas (the greatest Packer-hater of them all) was glorying in it all.

      -

      See also:
      * NFL.com: Marc Trestman's Bold Coaching Wins It For Bears.

      * Cheese Grater Hats Are Bears Fans Answer To Cheese Heads.

      * Tribune: Signature Game For McClellin.

      * Hoge: Division Disrupted.

      * Detroit Free Press: Lions Gain Standing As NFC North Favorite.

      -

      Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays Tuesdays. He welcomes your comments.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:52 AM | Permalink

      November 4, 2013

      The [Monday] Papers

      1. Cook County Jail chess program vs. CPS chess program.

      2. "In many poor countries, psychiatric patients are warehoused, not treated," a New York Times Op-Ed says.

      In a rich one, too.

      3. Aldermen Have Few Budget-Related Questions At Police Budget Hearing.

      "Chicago aldermen used Thursday's police budget hearing to once again talk about all sorts of things other than the police budget," Rob Wildeboer reports for WBEZ.

      4. How Fearful Leading From Behind Closed Doors Doomed HealthCare.Gov.

      "Based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former administration officials and outsiders who worked alongside them, the project was hampered by the White House's political sensitivity to Republican hatred of the law - sensitivity so intense that the president's aides ordered that some work be slowed down or remain secret for fear of feeding the opposition," the Washington Post reports.

      5. Jesse Jackson Jr. vs. Jamie Dimon.

      "Jonathan Jackson is the first member of the family to talk about Jesse Jackson Jr. since he reported to prison earlier this week," ABC7 Chicago reports.

      "His brother, Jonathan Jackson, says Jackson Jr. is accepting responsibility and moving forward. But Jonathan Jackson, who spoke on a national radio program Thursday, also noted that, at times, there are two systems of justice in this country.

      "Yes, my brother has acknowledged doing some wrong for misusing his campaign funds for that he has deep regrets and we accept that.," Jonathan Jackson said.

      The former Congressman's brother is friends with Rev. Al Sharpton and talked on his radio show Thursday afternoon, acknowledging that Jackson Jr. must repay every penny.

      "He will repay every dime, although no individuals came forward saying they wanted their campaign funds returned, not one taxpayer was hurt, having used one dime," said Jonathan Jackson.

      While defending his brother, however, Jackson pointed to this U.S. Politics Today headline. It reads, "Jesse Jackson, Jr. And Jamie Dimon: A tale of Two Systems of Justice. [Link mine.] Dimon is the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, which is negotiating a settlement with the government after the mortgage crisis. No bank individuals face criminal charges.

      Jonathan Jackson reiterated that theme quite powerfully while speaking at Rainbow PUSH on Saturday morning. I haven't found any video to share but while neither he nor I is exonerating Junior, it was quite good. If anyone has the video, please send it along.

      *

      At the same time, Junior - and his PR team - still don't seem to get it.

      "He has been flanked by some of the nation's foremost practitioners in legal strategy and public-relations spin," Laura Washington writes for the Sun-Times.

      "Just ponder the grandiose pronouncements in the press release his handlers dispatched. 'As Jackson begins to serve his term, he is aware that many people have expressed an interest and desire to visit him while he's incarcerated,' read the release, reported the Chicago Sun-Times. [Link mine.]

      "Those visitors would include 'Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Pastors Rick Warren and Anthony Miller from California; the Rev. Otis Moss Jr. from Cleveland, Ohio; U.S. Rep. Marsha Fudge (D-Ohio), chairman of Congressional Black Caucus; U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia, and crisis-management expert Judy Smith, the inspiration for the ABC-TV show Scandal.'

      "Only Jackson would use the occasion of reporting to prison to drop famous names, promote his own PR spinner, and advertise a hit TV show."

      6. And now about Yusef:

      "Yusef Jackson's beer distributorship stocked all of the big spots," the Tribune reports. "Wrigley Field. The United Center. And the River North night-life district.

      "But in an interview Friday, he said it wasn't enough. He felt fenced in by the boundaries set by Anheuser-Busch decades ago, which prohibited him from selling Budweiser in the suburbs. And even though he had broadened his portfolio to include craft beers, they weren't enough to sustain the business like he wanted.

      "'We attempted to get scale by selling (non-Anheuser-Busch) brands into the suburban areas,' Jackson, 43, said. 'It was not effective long term. We needed to have actual scale, meaning market share in the suburbs . . . The traditional boundaries cut many, many years ago are not as effective in today's marketplace.'

      "That's why he said he plans to sell his company, River North Sales & Service, to Byron Trott's BDT Capital Partners and the Hand family, veteran Tennessee beer distributors, in a deal Jackson announced Thursday."

      *

      "In most parts of the country, Budweiser, Bud Light and other Busch brands dominate the market. But in Chicago, MillerCoors is the historic leader, making the region one of the most competitive beer markets in the country."

      *

      From Crain's:

      "Chicago investment banker Byron Trott's BDT Capital Partners LLC will join with Hand Family Cos. of Clarksville, Tenn., to buy distributor ownership stakes that allow them to dominate Chicago-area sales of Anheuser-Busch products such as Budweiser and Bud Light."

      7. Chicago Lawyer Convicted In 'Largest Tax Fraud In History.'

      *

      "Paul Daugerdas practices an aggressive brand of tax law," Paul Braverman reported for a 2003 American Lawyer cover story called Helter Shelter. "His reward: untold millions in fees, some nasty lawsuits, and the IRS on his case. Meet the poster boy for the tax shelter mess."

      8. Google's highest-ranking executive in Chicago.

      9. The Weekend In Chicago Rock.

      Featuring: Kate Nash, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Skating Polly, Shana Vaughan, My Bloody Valentine, Mannequin Men, Eyehategod, Manilla Road, Harbinger, Steve Vai, Edgar Allan Ectoplasm, The Color Morale, We Came As Romans, Beats Antique, Rusko, Drive-By Truckers, Kansas, and Mayday Parade.

      10. Bears-Packers Betting Preview.

      Take the Packers and the Under.

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Mayday parade.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:52 AM | Permalink

      Bears-Packers Betting Preview: Organizations Beat Organizations

      The Bears defense will come to play against a Packers offense that has become methodical. The Packers win, but take the Under.


      -

      Additional Touts:

      SBRForum: Pass?

      Big Al: Under.

      -

      PregameTV: Take the dog.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:29 AM | Permalink

      The Weekend In Chicago Rock

      You shoulda been there.

      1. Kate Nash at the Metro on Friday night.


      -

      2. Lee Fields & The Expressions at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

      -

      3. Skating Polly at the Metro on Friday night.

      -

      4. Shana Vaughan at the Metro on Thursday night.

      -

      5. My Bloody Valentine at the Aragon on Sunday night.

      -

      6. Mannequin Men at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

      -

      7. Eyehategod at the Cobra Lounge on Sunday night.

      -

      8. Manilla Road at Reggies on Saturday night.

      -

      9. Harbinger at Reggies on Saturday night.

      -

      10. Steve Vai at Mojoes on Sunday night.

      -

      11. Edgar Allan Ectoplasm at Township on Thursday night.

      -

      12. The Color Morale at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

      -

      13. We Came As Romans at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

      -

      14. Beats Antique at the Vic on Friday night.

      -

      15. Rusko at Concord Hall on Saturday night.

      -

      16. Drive-By Truckers at the Vic on Thursday night.

      -

      17. Kansas at the Copernicus on Friday night.

      -

      18. Mayday Parade at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

      November 2, 2013

      The Weekend Desk Report

      If our signature achievement were a bike-sharing program, we'd probably split before the first winter too.

      Market Update
      It's true what they say: Money can't buy taste.

      Would You Rather?
      It's the season when Chicagoans brace for an onslaught of cold, hard reality. And also, snow. Before despair sets in, let's play a quick game of Would You Rather to put things in perspective.

      Would you rather . . .

      A) Have your baseball stadium host an awkward sign, or

      B) Have your baseball stadium host a sign of the Apocalypse?

      *

      A) Be dusted with coke, or

      B) Be busted with crack?

      *

      A) Harbor a mystery barge, or

      B) Harbor a grudge?

      *

      A) Make a pass at Katy Perry, or

      B) Be completely passed over?

      *

      Feeling better now? Yeah, neither are we.

      -

      The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Roar.

      -

      The College Football Report: Shanks & Muffs.

      -

      The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Monster M*A*S*H.

      -

      The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg conduct a Classic Album Dissection of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. The landmark release celebrates its 45th anniversary this month. Plus, a review of the chart-topping debut by New Zealand's Lorde."

      -

      The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

      "No Place To Hide: The Rise Of The Surveillance State And Its Threat To The Bill Of Rights"

      10-28-SurveillanceState.jpg

      Amie Stepanovich of the Electronic Privacy Information Center explains how drones can be used in gathering intelligence during a panel on surveillance and privacy issues hosted by the ACLU and the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights.

      Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

      -

      An Integrated Approach To Women's Health

      10-28-womenshealth.jpg

      Nancy Brinker of the Susan G. Komen Foundation joins other leaders in global health to discuss issues facing women's health abroad and in the United States.

      Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

      -

      "Not One Fracking Permit" Rally

      10-28-Fracking.jpg

      Students and community members call on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to not issue any permits allowing hydraulic fracturing in the state, worrying the process would contaminate groundwater.

      Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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      Stand Up & Speak Out Against Domestic Violence

      10-28-domesticviolence.jpg

      Survivors and families of lost loved ones share their stories of enduring domestic violence.

      Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.





      Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:03 AM | Permalink

      November 1, 2013

      The [Friday] Papers

      "A Grand Rapids [Michigan] man is claiming he helped the FBI locate terrorist Osama bin Laden and should receive a $25 million reward, according to a Chicago broadcast station report," MLive notes.

      "Tom Lee, 63, has hired a Chicago law firm to pursue his interest, according to chicago.cbslocal.com."

      *

      The law firm? Loevy & Loevy.

      Right Said Fred
      "An American philanthropist and major donor to President Obama has given 20 million pounds (about $32 million) to London's School of Oriental and African Studies to aid research in Buddhist and Hindu art in Southeast Asia," the New York Times reports.

      "The donation will help fund 80 scholarships for students from the region, add three new chairs and help expand the school campus, according to a statement from the Alphawood Foundation, presided over by the donor, Fred Eychaner. The school, part of the University of London, specializes in humanities and languages from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Mr. Eychaner is a Chicago-based media baron who in 2009 studied for a post-graduate degree at the school."

      *

      "He is one of the nation's top political financiers, yet Fred Eychaner drives a 1999 Ford Escort, flies coach, owns just three suits and sometimes stays at budget motels," the Tribune reported in 2005.

      "Worth an estimated $500 million - a fortune built from next to nothing - Eychaner could be the slender, balding man wearing wire-rim glasses seated behind you on a CTA train. And that's exactly how he wants it."

      Digital Dungeon
      Sun-Times Media honchos Michael Ferro and Jim Kirk like to talk about how they've remade the company into a digital wonder but really, you just have to wonder how much they know about digital. It's frustrating enough trying to simply access suntimes.com without the site freezing your browser and sending spinning wheels into the deepest recesses of your brain; now we know that it's still a disaster from the inside as well.

      From digital editor Marcus Gilmer:

      -

      Techshank Redemption
      "One of the best chess players in the country will be at Cook County jail to challenge inmates," AP reports.

      "The Cook County jail has been running an inmate chess program. Ten prisoners have won internal jail tournaments to earn the right to play chess master Timur Gareev.

      "There's one hitch - Gareev will play blindfolded and he'll take on all ten inmates simultaneously."

      *

      Forget chess - does he do tech?

      Exclusive! Inside HWL's Facelift
      "Chicago's showcase Harold Washington Library is in line for a $6 million facelift - including a new roof, generators, heating and cooling systems - courtesy of tax increment financing," the Sun-Times reports.

      "TIF funding for the library equivalent of a 100,000-mile checkup for the 26-year-old central library - and the same for the 30-year-old Sulzer Regional Library - is tucked away in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2014 budget."

      Sources tell the Beachwood the tune-up will include bringing back card catalogs to make the library compatible with the Cook County criminal justice system - and the Sun-Times.

      MORE!

      The Political Odds
      Updated to reflect recent developments.

      Beachwood Photo Booth
      Irving Park Guy.

      The College Football Report
      Pussy tailgating and Miami muffs.

      The Week In Chicago Rock
      Featuring: Testament, Local H, Jeff Beck, Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, John Vanderslice, Anders Osborne, Frank Turner, and Yo Gotti.

      -

      The Beachwood Tip Line: Digitized for your protection.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 PM | Permalink

      Inside The Harold Washington Library's $6 Million Facelift

      "Chicago's showcase Harold Washington Library is in line for a $6 million facelift - including a new roof, generators, heating and cooling systems - courtesy of tax increment financing," the Sun-Times reports.

      "TIF funding for the library equivalent of a 100,000-mile checkup for the 26-year-old central library - and the same for the 30-year-old Sulzer Regional Library - is tucked away in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2014 budget."

      Sources tell the Beachwood the tune-up will include:

      * Card catalogs will be brought back to make the library compatible with the Cook County courts.

      * The Dewey Decimal System will be replaced with the Dewey, Cheatem & Howe System.

      * The library's popular new 3D lab will be retrofitted to print already filled-out election ballots.

      * As ordered by Rahm Emanuel, the library's infamous gargoyles will be activated to collect overdue fines.

      * Also as ordered by Rahm Emanuel, Joe Bookman will be the new head of security.

      * The business/management books section will expand to a whole floor and become a TIF district; children's books will be shrunk to one shelf.

      * Library cards by Ventra.

      * Chicago Parking Meter monitors will now enforce browsing fees.

      * Internet access will be limited to CityOfChicago.org.

      * The South Hall will become a United Skylounge - members only.

      * Kids programs will now be run by UNO.

      * Books will eventually be eliminated.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:02 AM | Permalink

      The Week In Chicago Rock

      You shoulda been there.

      1. Testament at the Aragon on Wednesday night.


      -

      2. Local H as Nirvana at the Double Door on Halloween.

      -

      3. Jeff Beck at the House of Blues on Tuesday night (benefit for San Miguel Schools Chicago).

      -

      4. Lamb of God at the Aragon on Wednesday night.

      -

      5. Killswitch Engage at the Aragon on Wednesday night.

      -

      6. John Vanderslice at Schubas on Wednesday night.

      -

      7. Anders Osborne at SPACE in Evanston on Tuesday night.

      -

      8. Frank Turner at the Vic on Tuesday night.

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      9. Yo Gotti at the Metro on Tuesday night.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:48 AM | Permalink

      The College Football Report: Wide Right

      We can't imagine paying cover to tailgate, but IMG College, the nation's largest sports marketing company, sees an opportunity to bring the obnoxious velvet-rope scene to the parking lot, to the tune of $250 per person.

      Interviewed about IMG's new tailgating complex, complete with full bar, couches, and a projection TV, senior vice president Kelli Hilliard claims IMG wants to "celebrate the passion and pageantry behind college sports, but also wanted it to be very comfortable."

      But isn't comfort counter to the pregame experience? Tailgating isn't about sitting on a couch, it's about a cheap folding chair. You can spill your soda, squirt mustard and step on a chip and nobody will complain about the rug. The only thing in common between the IMG patron and the rest of the crowd will be that both are outdoors. Pray for rain.

      More specifically, pray for rain in Jacksonville. That's where IMG is setting up its Playmaker's Club on Saturday. The three-story mobile open-air sports lounge will appear adjacent to EverBank Field for the Florida-Georgia game.

      "It's not your traditional tent," Hilliard says.

      No shit. But will you have bottle service, Kelli? Because the rusty Weber grill in the next parking space will have bottle service. And no cover.

      Note: Georgia-Florida earns Honorable Mention for Rivalry Game of the Week, bumped out by Canes-'Noles. See below.

      Updated Bowl Projections: Only Two SEC Teams In BCS
      Also: Minnesota in the Heart-of-Dallas Bowl (played in Dallas), Tulane in the New Orleans Bowl (played in New Orleans), and Marshall in the Beef 'O' Brady Bowl (played in a huge skillet).

      This Is Ruining Our Heisman Exacta
      Oregon QB Marcus Mariota and FSU QB Jameis Winston may be in a two-man race for the Heisman at this point. Bookmakers have Mariota at 1/1 (from 10/11 last week) and Winston at 11/10.

      And yes, you can win money betting on 1/1 odds. A $2 wager would return $4, not a whopping ROI until you consider that you didn't do anything to earn it.

      Rivalry Game Of The Week
      Florida State (#3) and Miami (#7) meet on Saturday night in the first big match-up between the two in 10 years.

      FSU and "The U" haven't met as Top 10 teams since 2004, and both seemed to have disappeared in the interim, especially considering the dominance the teams exerted in the '90s and early 2000s.

      Florida State appeared in the BCS championship in '98 (losing to Tennessee) and again in '99 (with a win against Virginia Tech) while Miami played in the '01 game, thumping Nebraska 37-14, followed by a loss to Ohio State in the 2002 championship.

      After capturing the '03 Orange Bowl and back-to-back Peach Bowl appearances, Miami began to fade. The nadir came in 2006 when, en route to 7-6 record, a bench-clearing brawl erupted in a game against Florida International, complete with kicks, punches, and body slams.

      The fight exemplified the frustration fans felt at head coach Larry Coker and, for a program with such a notorious history, stoked fears of a slide into chaos.

      (To understand Miami's reputation as the bad boys of college football, we strongly recommend the excellent ESPN documentary The U - all 96 minutes - arguably the best documentary on college football, ever.)

      The administration attempted to reverse course, but the Coker's successor, Randy Shannon, further tanked the team while controversy swallowed Coral Gambles in a prolonged investigation by the NCAA, which finally concluded last week.

      Florida State followed a similar trajectory under the leadership of longtime head coach Bobby Bowden. FSU made an incredible run from 1982 to 2000, finishing in the Top 5 each season from '87-00 with a 15-4-1 record in bowl games.

      (Ah, yes, the good old days . . . when games could end in a tie. The 1984 Citrus Bowl finished at 17 all, but not without a last-second 71-yard (!) field goal attempt that . . . just . . . fell . . . short. That is far.)

      But allegations of misconduct, similar to the pay-for-play scandal at Miami, began to emerge in the mid-90s, summarized perfectly by the Ol' Ball Coach who dubbed FSU "Free Shoes University."

      Following several years of (relative) mediocrity, the university awkwardly ushered Bowden out after discovering academic fraud (in an online Music Appreciation course, no less) involving football players and, probably more damning, a 7-6 record in 2009.

      Bowden made a triumphant appearance in Tallahassee last weekend, returning to Doak Campbell Stadium for the first time since his retirement in 2010. He made quite the impression, what with the Seminole regalia and war whooping and whatnot. Oh wait, he was the old guy in the blazer.

      The rivalry has produced some classics, many decided by misadventures in the kicking game. Missed and/or flubbed kicks swung the outcome of six games between 1991 and 2004. Here's a rundown:

      1991 - Wide Right I: Whiff to the, you guessed it, right. Final score #2 Miami 17, #1 FSU 16.

      1992 - Wide Right II: And . . . it's no good . . . again. Final, #2 Miami 19, #3 FSU 16.

      2000 - Wide Right III: By this time, the younger generation had forgotten about the grief that comes to FSU kickers. Too bad for Matt Munyon, who sliced his last-minute attempt past the right goalpost, #7 Miami 27, #1 Florida State 24.

      2002 - Wide Left: Why? Why would you kick for the Seminoles? At least call in sick for the Miami game. Based on past history, FSU would be better off heaving up a Hail Mary than attempting a game-winning field goal anyway. That said, placekicker Xavier Beitia did introduce a new innovation into last minute failures: the hook. Your final: #1 Miami 28, #9 Florida State 27.

      2004 - Wide Right IV: Punished by the College Football Gods for not transferring, the capricious deities push Beitia's attempt with five minutes remaining wide, and FSU loses the BCS Orange Bowl 16-14, the only meeting between the two squads in a postseason bowl game.

      2005 - The Miami Muff: We were a little worried about Googling this one. Other people look at this computer and the wrong sort of search results for "Miami muff" could be tricky to explain. Fortunately, it's a real thing: Miami placeholder Brian Monroe flubbed the snap, costing the 'Canes an attempt to tie the game. #9 Florida State 10, #9 Miami 7.

      There you have it, six games decided by a total of 13 points, proving free shoes can't win football games. You actually need someone to kick the ball, preferably between the uprights.

      Our pick: Florida State 37, Miami 24.

      -

      Punters vs. Kickers
      Speaking of kicking woes, Syracuse will turn to punters Riley Dixon and Jonathan Fisher to handle placekicking duties on Saturday during a one-game suspension for kicker Ryan Norton. Neither has attempted a field goal in college. Here's our question: What if Dixon or Fisher prove to be really good? If 'Cuse doesn't miss a PAT or FG this weekend, can the Orange give Norton the boot?

      Our pick: Kickers, by a toe.

      -

      Match-Ups of the Week
      In addition to Florida State and Miami, many of the other top teams are in action this weekend, including: #4 Ohio State, #8 Clemson, and #9 Missouri. But none play in interesting match-ups, except:

      #18 Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) vs. #15 Texas Tech (7-1, 4-1 Big 12)
      Texas Tech may be for real. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has led the darlings of college football into unexpected national prominence this season. Coach Kliff attracts attention off the field as well for his dreamy good looks. For example, among the top Google searches for Kingsbury are: "kliff kingsbury", " . . . Texas Tech", ok so far, " . . . wife", odd, " . . . twitter", to be expected, " . . . shirtless", oh now we see where this is going, and " . . . Ryan Gosling". Right. Got it.

      Our pick: Texas Tech 39, Oklahoma State 35.

      *

      #21 Michigan (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) vs. #22 Michigan State (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten)
      With a W, the newly ranked Spartans (having just entered the Top 25 this week) project as the winner of the Legends Division and the lucky contestant to get thumped by Ohio State in the league championship game. Should the Wolverines win, there's still a tough road ahead (including #4 Ohio State to finish the regular season) for the Legends bid but an L sinks Michigan to 2-2 in the Big 10 and out of the running for the conference championship.

      Not that the players need to know any of that to get up for this game. This is for Paul Bunyan Trophy. No, not Paul Bunyan's Axe. You're thinking of the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry.

      Why doesn't someone in the Big Ten compete for the Blue Ox? Bunyan never went anywhere without his trusty steer. Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Western Michigan all play in the MAC and (we believe) all play each other every (most?) season. A tripartite trophy battle! We love this idea. Somebody call ESPN.

      Our pick: Michigan State 27, Michigan 20.

      -

      The Pigeon's Pick
      The College Football Report Sacred Chicken is undercover on a top secret mission for the government, giving understudy Timothy the Pigeon a shot at the big time. Here are Timothy's picks:

      Minnesota at Indiana: Bwaaak!
      Indiana 32, Minnesota 31.

      Northwestern at Nebraska: Bwaaak! Bwaaak!
      Nebraska 32, Northwestern 31.

      NIU at Massachusetts: Harumph.
      NIU 32, Massachusetts 10.

      -

      Mike Luce is our man on campus. He welcomes your comments.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:23 AM | Permalink

      Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy

      Chicago skyline.

      irvingpark.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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      More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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      Helene on Twitter!

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      Meet Helene!

      -

      Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

      -

      Previously:
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
      * Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.

      -

      Comments welcome.

      Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:53 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock Including Riot Fest Highlights.
TV - 24 Hours With WYCC.
POLITICS - Wolfpack vs. Obama.
SPORTS - Joe Maddon's Magical Mystery Tour.

BOOKS - Why Al-Qaeda Is Still Strong.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Mural Man.


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