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« September 2016 | Main | November 2016 »

October 31, 2016

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Lupe Fiasco at the House of Blues on Sunday night.


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2. Low at the Vic on Saturday night.

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3. Samantha Fish at SPACE in Evanston on Saturday night.

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4. Meshuggah at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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5. Todd Poole at the Rock 'n' Skull Festival on Friday night.

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6. Anthony Corder at Rock 'n' Skull on Friday night.

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7. Babylon A.D. at Rock 'n' Skull on Friday night.

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8. Pretty Boy Floyd at Rock 'n' Skull on Saturday night.

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9. Stephen Pearcy at Rock 'n' Skull on Sunday night.

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10. Tango Down at Rock 'n' Skull on Sunday night.

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11. Danger Danger at Rock 'n' Skull on Saturday night.

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12. King Of The Hill at Rock 'n' Skull on Sunday night.

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13. Tuff at Rock 'n' Skull on Saturday night.

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14. Phil Lewis's L.A. Guns at Rock 'n' Skull on Friday night.

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15. Jetboy at Rock 'n' Skull on Friday night.

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16. Jack Russell's Great White at Rock 'n' Skull on Saturday night.

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17. Amy Rigby at Reckless Records in Wicker Park on Sunday.

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18. AM Taxi as Cheap Trick at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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19. Local H as Nirvana at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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20. Bow Wow Now as Bow Wow Wow at the High Hat Club on Saturday night.

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21. Damaged Goods as Gang of Four at the High Hat Club on Saturday night.

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22. Coin at the Double Door on Friday night.

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23. Reel Big Fish at Durty Nellie's on Sunday night.

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24. mewithoutYou at Durty Nellie's on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:55 PM | Permalink

World Series Notebook 6: Stayin' Alive

As I was saying about Aroldis Chapman . . . but man, that was reckless.

Also, Chapman's eight-out performance on Sunday night has made everybody forget his failure to cover first base on a ground ball to Anthony Rizzo. Not me, I remember!

In fact, Respect 90 seems to have gone out the window this postseason.

The list of players who have violated this central tenet - Joe Maddon's only rule! - is growing, from Willson Contreras to Jorge Soler to Jason Heyward (lollygagging a throw to second) to Chapman and even Rizzo, who didn't run hard out of the box on a double that by all rights he should have been dead to rights on.

"Anthony thought it was going out, he did not run that hard," Pat Hughes said. "A good throw would have had him."

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Baez Baloney
Also overlooked: Baez bunting for a hit to load the bases in the fourth. Why overlooked? Because Baez was praised for something he shouldn't have done. I know Baez can't buy a hit these days, but loading the bases with one out and David Ross and Jon Lester coming up isn't the smartest play in the world. "Here, David, you bring them home!"

If Maddon didn't value Baez's defense so much, maybe he would've used Kyle Schwarber to pinch hit in that spot. Two runs were in, and it was a chance to break the game open. Ross did manage a sacrifice fly to get the Cubs a third run, but then the inning ended with Lester at the plate.

Now, some suggested Maddon pinch hit for Lester, which also might have been a good idea. But if Baez/Schwarber had cleared the bases, he wouldn't have had to make that decision. (Lester went two more innings, but by that time he was actually starting to feel sloppy, it was reported after the game.)

At the same time, what about hitting for Ross there? The Score's Dan Bernstein would have liked to have seen Schwarber there. "He's too cute by half," Bernstein said of Maddon on Monday afternoon, "to let Ross bat there . . . "

I'm not sure I want to see Contreras take over for Ross in a game like this - we were confronted late in the game with a rookie pitcher (Carl Edwards Jr.) pitching to an amped up rookie catcher who has gotten sloppy with the season on the line. And it was too early to take out Lester, especially given the state of the bullpen. That's why my focus in that scenario was on Baez.

In any case, we got the three automatic outs we've come to expect from that part of the lineup.

*

Now, if Maddon would have pinch it for Baez, Zobrist would have had to come in from left to play second base because Tommy La Stella isn't on the roster. But Albert Almora (Jr.) and Chris Coghlan were available to play left. The tradeoff might have been worth it. Baez is an automatic out right now.

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ADDING: Bernstein and Laurence Holmes this afternoon acted like a caller making a similar suggestion was totally nuts, citing Baez's tag of a would-be Cleveland base-stealer later in the game, but it's not an unreasonable notion. There is always a trade-off between offense and defense; several times in the post-season the Cubs have sat Gold Glove Jason Heyward in search of more hits. In this case, we're talking about the key at-bats of the game for the Cubs. Get a hit there and the would-be base-stealer later doesn't matter.

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As far as Baez's hitting goes, Matt Spiegel said on The Score on Monday morning that "Many hitters have said the pressure of Wrigley Field has gotten to them."

Really? Who has said that?

Spiegel is one of several pundits, including the Trib's David Haugh, who think the Cubs are better off playing the deciding games in Cleveland. C'mon!

The Cubs had the best home record in baseball this season. Home is where players feel most comfortable. In the playoffs, home field advantage may be overrated, but wouldn't you still rather have it?

(It's also better for the fans, who get one more game, and the deciding game at that.)

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A better explanation for the Cubs' hitting woes.

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Halloween Edition
These players are scary to Cubs fans right now but not to Cleveland:
* Miguel Montero
* Javy Baez
* Addison Russell
* Jason Heyward
* Chris Coghlan
* Albert Almora (Jr.)
* Hector Rondon
* Pedro Strop
* Travis Wood
* Mike Montgomery
* Carl Edwards (Jr.)
* Justin Grimm
* David Ross
* John Lackey
* Jorge Soler

That's a big portion of the roster.

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The Cub Factor: Scary Spice | We help them celebrate Halloween.

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Eddie & Grandpa
I'm really sick of Eddie Vedder as the latest Cubs celebrity mascot, but this . . .

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 PM | Permalink

Scary Spice

Joe Maddon left a note in the Cubs clubhouse Sunday night that players are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes on their flight to Cleveland for the final game/s of the World Series.

We have some ideas.

Aroldis Chapman: Well, he's already going as Andrew Miller, so . . .

John Lackey: Jason Hammel.

Jason Heyward: The post-season Jason Heyward of the Cardinals, because the rest of his playoff record is junk.

Chris Coghlan: Matt Szczur.

Javy Baez: The Javy Baez of the Dodgers series.

Miguel Montero: A ghost, so Maddon can't find him on the bench when it comes time for a pinch hitter.

Kyle Schwarber: Reggie Jackson.

Joe Maddon: Terry Francona.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs lost three of five to Cleveland in the World Series! It hasn't been pretty - not even the wins. In fact, it's been as ugly as it's ever been this season - maybe even last!

The Week in Preview: The final week of the 2016 season ends with one game, maybe two, in Cleveland. Plan your lives accordingly.

Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. In fact, Szczur isn't even on the roster for this series, giving way to the relatively surging Albert Almora (Jr.).

Jason Heyward is heating up!

No, not really.

But we'll get to him.

First, Ben Zobrist started all five games in left - which is not the way Maddon managed during the regular season. The way Maddon got Javy Baez into each game was to play him at second or third, depending on where the analytics said the most balls would be hit. If that meant third, Zobrist stayed at second and Kris Bryant moved to left field. That MO has been abandoned. While Zobrist almost certainly gives you better defense in left than Bryant, there is no question that Baez gives you better defense at third (paging Bryant's two errors in one inning!).

Maddon has also abandoned getting Willson Contreras's bat into the game by playing him in left. I'm not saying it's wrong to preference defense in the playoffs, I'm just noting that it's happened.

Now, to right field. Heyward has started the last two games and gone 3-for-8 with two stolen bases and one terrific catch. He's also pinch-run twice and gone into the field afterwards.

Jorge Soler got two starts in right, while Chris Coghlan got one start in right, plus one pinch-hit appearance and one pinch-run appearance. Finally, Almora got one pinch-hit appearance and one appearance in the field as a defensive replacement.

Oh, and Aroldis Chapman also played three innings in right.

Or did he? Not sure if that happened or it was just my fevered dream.

Annoying Former Cub of the Week: Dusty Baker.

Annoying Current Cub of the Week: Maddon. He's maddening.

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Runner-up: John Lackey.

("Talk about all hat and no cattle." - Jason Goff, Monday morning on The Score)

Mad(don) Scientist: The general consensus seems to be that Terry Francona is outmanaging Poppa Joe, but what's funny is that the general consensus is at odds with itself over what Joe is doing wrong. Is the problem that he's managing as if it's still the regular season? "Maddon was being outmanaged (before Game 5) because he was acting like there wasn't any urgency to this," Jeff Passan told The Score on Monday morning. Regarding Chapman's unusual outing, Passan said, "It's about time . . . it's not like he has a long-term contract." Right. He won't be the Cubs' worry four days from now, so who cares if you ruin his arm?

The other side of the argument is that Maddon is getting outmanaged because he's not managing the way he did during the regular season - he's violating his own rule about not doing anything differently during the playoffs than what got you there and what your players are comfortable with.

I'm more in line with the second side of the argument, though in part Maddon is managing the way he is because he's dragging a degraded team across the finish line. There are few arms left to trust in the bullpen, and few bats to trust on the bench. There are even, really, few gloves to trust in the outfield right now. And, as I've discussed on this site several times in the last week, the presence of Kyle Schwarber on the Series roster is a high-risk, high-reward gambit that so far hasn't really paid off the way folks thought a week ago.

Maybe going back to AL-rules will reign Maddon in a bit in Game 6 (and Game 7, if necessary), but I doubt it. Every at-bat now must be contested at its height of optimization. I'm just not sure if the Cubs have the horses right now to do so.

Kubs Kalendar: Pitchers and catchers report in four months.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that not winning it all will indeed be an epic fail for this team no matter what anyone tells you.

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This is The Cub Factor. We welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:56 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"There isn't going to be room for us bums." - Bill Veeck

"Last night, the Cubs won Game 5 of the World Series, and will return to Cleveland on Tuesday. Over the last three games at Wrigley Field, tens of thousands of people descended on the Lakeview neighborhood, many of them for the first time," MediaBurn notes.

"In this clip, bleacher regular Bill Veeck, who probably went to more than forty games in 1984, pokes fun at the fancy newcomers who showed up only for the postseason."


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From the Beachwood World Series desk . . .

SportsMonday: Maddon's Managerial Meltdown
How should a baseball fan react when desperation works?

The Cub Factor: Scary Spice
We help the Cubs celebrate Halloween.

World Series Notebook 6: Stayin' Alive
Disrespecting 90.

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A Nobel Holiday
The convergence of Halloween with Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize in literature strikes me as a good time to recall Cameron Crowe's liner notes to Biograph, which begin this way:

A friend of mine was recently in Australia, where he attended a special costume party. The theme was simple. Everyone was requested to dress as a character from a Bob Dylan song. My friend went as Maggie's Brother, and he handed out nickels and dimes while asking everybody if they were having a good time. ("I ain't working for you no more," most responded.

During the course of the evening he met Louie the King, had an interesting conversation with a Diplomat who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat, and he mingled with a large and noisy crowd that included Einstein disguised as Robin Hood, the Queen of Spades, Napoleon in Rags, several Tambourine Men, and a Preacher with twenty pounds of headlines stapled to his chest.

Once again: Name a better artist ever. Shakespeare? DaVinci? Michaelangelo? I don't think so.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Butcher Boy
Savory meats.

When A 'Tax Bonanza' Is Actually A Huge Tax Break
Shouldn't the tax-dodging corporations pay what they owe - and pay a fine for tax-dodging - instead of getting a huge tax break?

Hey TMZ, That's Not What I Said
"This reporting is objectively irresponsible and wrong. It perpetuates false fears about this election."

The Week/Weekend In Chicago Rock
Both are still in pre-production because of the World Series' time-sap.

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BeachBook

EpiPen Price Hikes Add Millions To Pentagon Budget.

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Chicago Elementary School Cancels Christian Haunted House Depicting Pulse Nightclub Shooting.

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Eagles Defense Winning With Anti-Bears Scheme.

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Ohio Cheerleaders Display 'Trail Of Tears' Banner Before HS Football Game Against Team With Indians Mascot.

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Smokey & the Self-Driving Bandit.

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AT&T Requires Police To Hide Hemisphere Phone Spying.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: End game.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:32 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Maddon's Managerial Meltdown

How should a baseball fan react when desperation works?

Given that I am most desperate to not sound like Dusty Baker, I wish I could just take a deep breath and move on. But I can't.

Baker capped off his season at the helm of the Nationals earlier in the playoffs by insinuating that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was endangering the long-term health of pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen by pitching them so much in the National League Divisional Series.

He hadn't seen anything yet.

I would wager that going into Sunday night's 3-2 victory over the Indians that reduced Cleveland's World Series lead to 3-2, most sentient Cubs fans were still uncomfortable with the idea of Joe Maddon bringing in ninth inning specialist Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning. So what did the Cubs manager do? He brought him in in the seventh after a series of bizarre decisions.

Maddon was lucky Chapman's agent didn't race onto the field to try to protect the health of his meal ticket. The closer is a free agent at the end of this season and if there is any sort of problem with his arm in these last few days of this campaign, it will potentially cost him tens of millions of dollars.

The accepted wisdom in baseball for a long time has been that you don't spend the season and two playoff rounds having a guy pitch one inning at a time (and every once in a long while trying to have him get four or five outs) and then suddenly send him out for three innings of work. Especially a pitcher who works as hard to throw the ball as fast as Chapman does.

But that was what Maddon did.

He did so after deciding to pinch hit for weak-hitting catcher David Ross with weaker hitting catcher Miguel Montero with two outs in top of the frame, despite having far better other hitting options and the fact that he did not intend to bring Montero in to catch.

And of course, because Ross came out, that meant pitcher Jon Lester (he of the inability to throw to the bases even with security blanket Ross behind the plate - what the heck is he going to do next year?) had to come out as well. Lester had thrown 90 pitches at that point and should have been good for at least another inning, especially since he of course hadn't yet been pinch-hit for.

Sure enough, Montero struck out to end the inning. Far better pinch-hitting options Kyle Schwarber (a lefty hitter) and Albert Almora (righty) remained on the bench and never did get into the game.

Cubs fans would have understood completely if Maddon had pulled Lester after allowing a base-runner in the bottom of the seventh. Watching Lester pitch with a runner on base is torturous at this point. If Lester had been pitching, he would have first faced Mike Napoli, who he had handled earlier in the game, and then switch-hitter Carlos Santana. Santana is much better from the left side. Instead, Maddon brought in rookie righthander Carl Edwards, Jr. to throw to rookie backstop Willson Contreras, who came on for Ross/Montero. It took all of one at-bat to determine that Edwards was overmatched as he gave up a long single to Napoli.

Then Santana, who had blasted a critical home run from the left side just the game before, stepped in. Chapman had been warming up and seemed ready. If Maddon was going to have him go for an eight-out save, why not go for nine outs, especially since the lefty would then force Santana to hit from the right side?

Nope, Edwards stayed out there. And Maddon got as lucky as he ever has in his career as he watched the Indians slugger fly out to left before going to make the final ridiculous pitching change.

Analytics guys like Maddon and the rest of the Cubs brain trust know to avoid outcome bias. Just because something works out doesn't mean it was the smartest decision. There is no defending this usage of Chapman other than "Well, it worked out, didn't it?"

That is the weakest sauce.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:11 AM | Permalink

October 30, 2016

World Series Notebook 5: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

A World Series championship will be won at Wrigley Field today for the first time since 1945. Unfortunately, then it was won by the Detroit Tigers and now it will be won by the Cleveland Indians. Wrigley Field has never seen the Cubs win a World Series on its field.

Or, the Cubs will send the Series back to Cleveland. Who knows. But it certainly feels like it's over.

They Are Good
We'll get to Chicago's woes, but first, let's consider Cleveland, which also has something to do with what we're seeing.

"The Indians swept Boston in their division series, holding the Red Sox to a .214 batting average. They won four of five from Toronto in the American League Championship Series, holding the Blue Jays to a .201 average. Now, through four games in the World Series, the Cubs are hitting .204," Tyler Kepner writes for the New York Times.

In other words, this is not just the randomness of the playoffs that so many saberheads have propagated to explain away the "best" teams in baseball getting knocked out in postseason play. The entirety of the playoffs is enough of a sample size to suppose that Cleveland is the best team in baseball - at least right now.

Cleveland won 94 games in the regular season - topped in the AL only by Texas, by one game. Only the Nationals, also by one game, and the Cubs, by nine games, won more in the NL. Cleveland also played in a division that sent three teams to the playoffs. And it made the most impactful mid-season acquisition in Andrew Miller. (Yes, more impactful than the Cubs' acquisition of Aroldis Chapman; maybe we got the wrong guy after all. Would you have given up Kyle Schwarber then if it meant a World Series championship now?)

A reminder from Brendan Dlubala on FanSided:

"[Cleveland] packaged four prospects including highly touted outfielder Clint Frazier and lefty pitcher Justus Sheffield. Miller was thrown into a strong bullpen that already included closer Cody Allen, setup reliever Bryan Shaw and middle reliever Dan Otero. While with the Indians, Miller appeared in 26 games posting a 1.55 ERA and a 4-0 record. He also recorded three saves."

By contrast, Chapman appeared in 28 games for the Cubs posted a 1.10 ERA and a 1-1 record, with 16 saves.

Now, we know that won-loss records and saves are bad metrics for pitchers. And as far as ERA goes, we might want to dig deeper into FIP - Fielding Independent Pitching - where Chapman notched a 0.82 to Miller's 1.53.

Then why does Miller's contribution to the team seem so much more significant than Chapman's?

Maybe because Chapman has only seen 10.1 innings of postseason play - 2.1 in the World Series - in 14 games. Miller has seen 17 innings of postseason play - 5.1 in the World Series - in 13 games.

Of course, Miller and Chapman play different roles on their teams. But which has been the more dominant force? Which gets the more important outs? Which upsets the other team's plans more?

The Cubs are a very good team. But right now, they are not the best team in baseball. There is one that is better.

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That's not to say coming back from a 3-1 deficit is impossible. If the Cubs do, they reclaim the throne. I don't like the chances.

The Schwarber Dilemma, Con't
You can only use him once, so you better pick the right spot!

On the other hand, you could have used Matt Szczur and Tommy La Stella at any time in the game, just like you did in the regular season, and even kept them in the game if you wanted to. Or done the ol' double-switch, which really doesn't work with Schwarber. Just sayin'. Again.

Pinch Tweeting
Leading off the third inning. A lot of folks wanted a pinch hitter - even Schwarber - right there. No.

Said Joe Maddon: "Leading off the inning, yeah. I didn't want to waste that right there. You don't know. The score at that time was still like 4-1, correct? 3-1. So there's no reason to burn him leading off right there. Because if they're going to go to Miller - if the game's close, you would have seen Allen or Shaw there in the latter part of the game. And I was willing to use him in a lot of different spots, not just for the pitcher."

Then, when Chris Coghlan pinch hit for Lackey in the fifth, so-called baseball guru Joe Sheehan tweeted that Maddon was burning his best pinch runner. Dan Bernstein of The Score retweeted that, which is how it ended up in my feed. I had the same reaction as a lot of folks:

Sheehan actually retweeted me, without comment.

Then, after further pushback by a bunch of others, Sheehan tweeted that people had better start getting his jokes or unfollow him. My response:

You might have noticed that Sheehan's tweets are unavailable to my feed. That's because this is when he blocked me. For that.

That's okay, I didn't follow him anyway, and I think he's highly overrated, but another example of a thin-skinned journo who can dish it out but can't take it in even the slightest. The truth is that his "joke," if it was that, was too plausible given the commentary of him and others to be recognized as a joke. It doesn't seem like Bernstein recognized it as such - was it so funny it was worth Dan retweeting it? He barely tweeted at all during the game.

I don't care about being blocked, but I'm once again exasperated by my profession.

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Maddon, on using Coghlan in that at-bat instead of Schwarber:

"I didn't want to waste him . . . I was looking for a more profitable moment to extend him . . . I want to use him when he can drive in more than himself."

Maddon also said that neither leading off against Kluber nor facing Miller is a good match-up for Schwarber - and he's right. Which brings us back to the limitations of having him on the roster.

TrackNotes: Cubs
In response to my quotes in this AP article about the Cubs, our man on the rail Tom Chambers sent me this:

Given that "performance" last night, somehow it seems as if our world order remains intact.

The Rickettses, with the cooperation of fake strictness by Ald. Tom Tunney and Mayor Rahm, seek only world domination, in clear contradiction of the spirit of Wrigley Field and the neighborhood. Typical. That Nuveen sign in left field nearly made me physically ill.

Mike Francesa on WFAN was reading a press release from the Yankees about "major renovations" at Yankee Stadium, designed to "enhance the fan experience." Basically, adding restaurants and bars and a day care center. Complete with a full array of hi-def video screens and many food menu options. But don't walk through the door, because there's a game goin' on out there. I remember getting a churro deep in the literally dark and cold bowels of right field in the old Comiskey Park but hustling to get back to the game. You could do a full lap of the ballpark, with one eye on the action the whole way.

The business model is that the ballpark is a Pony Express station, with nothing else around it, so as to have exclusive access to your dollars. Jerry Reinsdorf, the new millennium's penurious Charles Comiskey, still hasn't rebuilt McCuddy's, as he and others promised to do. Ricketts is attempting the same thing. We know better, but many do not. The disease even spread to most of the Wrigleyville bars. These are not accidents.

As Sonny told C in A Bronx Tale, "You think Mickey Mantle cares about you? Will Mickey Mantle pay your old man's rent?"

So I haven't shed any tears of joy for "my Cubbies" getting to the World Series, in which just getting to the Series was way too highly celebrated. I can't afford to even go to a game, or stand in a bar for 12 hours. I look upon it as as phenomenon, a soap opera. Interesting, but not vital to me.

I also think the Cubbie spell has fallen upon Maddon and the rest - re: Schwarber - and I was always worried about the Indians. They look hungrier. Imagine that!

Between the manufacturing of affinity through blatant classism, the corporate sellout, the high prices and even the late start times to these games, I do not feel as if this team is accessible to me. They can do what they do, but it's not really here nor there to me.

I've watched two of the games at my favorite West Loop watering hole, and it was much more about the community and meeting new people than it was about the game itself. That was a lot of fun, and those will be my best memories of this Cubs season.

Amen.

Say It Ain't Joe
The top three managers in the game are now, in order, Francona, Maddon, Bochy.

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Top Tweets

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Dexter's wife.

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And the Daffy Duck bit was taken.

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Not against Cleveland.

Kaplan's rah-rah routine is embarrassing; how can anyone ever know if he's telling it straight? P.S.: He's a grown man.

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Old Style truck driver for World Series MVP.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:34 PM | Permalink

October 29, 2016

World Series Notebook 4: Deja Vu All Over Again

Bats go cold, team goes down 2-1, one of the best pitchers in the universe looms. Oh, and Jason Heyward is getting the start in right. What, us worry?

Coco Puffs
"Down the steps of the visitors' dugout at Wrigley Field, a drain cover littered with used gum and sunflower-seed shells and tobacco spit and the other various detritus that finds its way into baseball players' orbits greets those who walk by it. To the left, in a small alcove, is a urinal, a sink, a foamy-soap dispenser and a small cupboard, home to a rosin bag and a pump-spray bottle of Bullfrog sunscreen, which when combined make for a tacky substance pitchers use to get a better grip on the ball. Grimy does not begin to describe the entirety of the scene," Jeff Passon writes for Yahoo! in "How The Indians Spoiled The Cubs' Special Night."

"Ten more paces on the fetid green carpet yields a left turn, and 19 past that is right, and then a quick turn left and one more right, toward a ramp, and after ascending that, on the 49th step from the dugout, stands a single batting tee. These are the trappings of a century-old park, ones with which the visitors long have dealt, and so Coco Crisp hauled his bat along this path around 9:20 p.m. local time Friday, getting himself ready, ready for anything, because in these playoffs, this World Series, the Cleveland Indians understand sometimes they need to leap headlong into the muck."

And they got it. Click through to read the whys and wherefores.

Schwarber, Schwarber, Schwarber
The lineups for Saturday night are out and Jason Heyward is getting the start in right field. Not to beat a dead roster choice, but couldn't the Cubs use Matty Szczur or Tommy La Stella about now?!

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Related: Joe Maddon's Dilemma: When To Play The Kyle Schwarber Card.

Ben's Bike
"The Cubs experience has been everything Zobrist could hope for, enhanced by buying a house in the Wrigleyville neighborhood within a mile of the stadium, close enough that his family could walk," the Tampa Bay Times reports.

"And that before a September game, Zobrist rode his bicycle - in uniform - to the stadium, fans rolling down car windows to wish him well."

That's cute, but here's the lingering question I've had about this: Did he bring his uniform home the day before just so he could ride to the ballpark in it? I mean, when players drive to the game they were their regular clothes and change in the clubhouse. I guess he just wanted to experience riding to Wrigley on his bike steampunk-style.

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And here's the answer in this video that the TBT failed to embed because it's a newspaper and doesn't understand the Internet yet.

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By the way, the article also mentions the singing of Zobrist's wife, Julianna, so here you go:

Note: Julianna is scheduled to sing "God Bless America" before Game 4.

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Oh, what the hell. Meet the Zobrists:

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By the way, Ben Zobrist is from Eureka, Illinois, which took a community photo in his honor this week.

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Repping Beachwood
Hey, look: Me and our very own Kiljoong Kim in this AP article about Cubs fans.

Here's the video that was mentioned (incorrectly) but not embedded or even linked to, because newspapers:

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Top Tweets

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:32 PM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Butcher Boy

Savory meats.

20161018_181633_resized.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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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Autumn Station Wagon.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Betty's & Nick's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ohio House Impact.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: End School Zone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Portage Park Peek-A-Boo.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: South Side Sundown.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Susie's Drive-Thru.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Ham.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Food & Liquor, Milhouse.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Hare Blue Line Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Schwing!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ad Deluxe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jesus At The Drive-In.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Conveyance Belt.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire In The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nick's Meat Market.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Keep Havin A Good Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Knock Knock.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Man At Marie's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonneville.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Logan Bags.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairwell.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Velvet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Court Is In Session.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Railyards Rush Hour.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop Killing People.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 1.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Greystone Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You Are Beautiful.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Auto Part Overlords.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bearground.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 2.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skyway Sculpture.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Dome Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hello, St. Joe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Revolution Books.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Driveway.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Proceed To Checkout.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Summer Ghost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Daily Double.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Are Moving.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 3.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunny Day Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ashland & Pawn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Party Store.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Donuts.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: AAA Sales.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: House Rule.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:48 AM | Permalink

'That's Not What I Said': TMZ Falsely Reports Concerns Of Election Officials

TMZ posted an article Tuesday declaring voter fraud to be "a real concern." (Yes, that TMZ.) Here's how the story begins:

NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and most blogs are trying to convince you there is virtually NO EVIDENCE of voter fraud, so Trump's fears are bogus . . . but we drilled down and some officials who run the voting systems around the country are VERY worried about fraudulent voting.

But here's the thing: Two of the three election officials the story cites told us TMZ attributes things to them they did not say, and that they have no concerns whatsoever about the possibility of voter fraud.

2016-10-26-TMZ-screenshot-2-900*940-bb35a8.jpg"That's not what I said," Marcy Crawford, the Republican deputy commissioner of the Board of Elections for Allegany County, New York, said after we read what TMZ had attributed to her. The story does not quote Crawford directly, but says that Crawford "tells us voter fraud in her county is a real concern. She says everyone's talking about it in her office."

While Crawford said she told TMZ she had "heard talk" of concerns of voter fraud elsewhere, she also said she told TMZ she had no concerns about actual fraud in her southern New York county, nor does anyone else in her office.

Crawford's colleague, Democratic deputy commissioner Barbara Broughton, said she was present for the TMZ interview, and confirmed that TMZ misreported the conversation.

Broughton stressed that every step of the process is double checked and bipartisan. "I don't see how [fraud] is even possible," she said.

John Arntz, director of the Department of Elections in San Francisco County, California, also said he never told TMZ he was concerned about fraud.

While he said TMZ accurately described how a voter's identity is checked in California - that poll workers must confirm voters' names and addresses - he said TMZ falsely reported that he "concedes that it leaves the system open to fraud."

"I did not say that this means our system is open to fraud since there are many checks and balances in place regarding the casting of ballots," Arntz told us. "In the 14 years since I've been here, voter fraud has not been an issue and I don't expect it to be an issue going forward."

Casey Carver, a spokesperson for TMZ, said the site "stands behind our story and it accurately reflects the information we were provided." She did not respond to questions about the officials being cited inaccurately.

The story does not have a byline. But Crawford said the TMZ reporter identified herself as Heather Ross. A TMZ producer by that name did not respond to an e-mail sent to the address listed on her Twitter account.

The story focused on the fact that some states use signatures to verify a voter's identity:

States "shockingly rely on the ability of precinct poll workers to match a person's signature with the signature on the voter registration form. So a 70-year-old lady trying to manage a precinct is supposed to do what trained handwriting experts do in court . . . ferret out the frauds."

(Ellipsis in the original.)

Both Arntz and Crawford contradicted that. Voters, Crawford said, must verify their names and addresses, and poll workers also have access to the birth date listed in every voter's registration information, which they can also use as a check. Crawford said if poll workers have any concerns that a person might not be who they say they are, they can call elections officials who will sort out the problem.

The third official TMZ cited, Suffolk County New York Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota, did not specifically respond to questions regarding whether TMZ accurately quoted him in the piece, nor did he respond to questions about whether he believes fraud has happened or will happen in Suffolk County. He did confirm he thinks voter fraud is a concern. "The main way a poll worker ensures the identity of the purported voter is by a signature comparison," he told ProPublica by e-mail. "Our election inspectors are being asked to ensure the integrity of the election with one hand tied behind their back!"

In fact, New York election law allows election workers to do much more than check signatures.

"It's one point in a verification process with many," said Jonathan Brater, counsel for the Brennan Center at NYU School of Law's Democracy Program. "Voters provide all sorts of identifying information [in their registration]: Their name, their date of birth, their address, and sometimes even their drivers license and Social Security number."

TMZ's story also claims that "counties and states are increasingly using signature verification in place of IDs," which is false. In fact only six states rely on signature matches to verify voters' identities. Most states without voter ID laws use signatures as a last resort.

The piece has now been shared on social media hundreds of times, and has more than 4,000 comments. On Wednesday, it was the second "most commented" article on TMZ's site. Other media organizations, like the Independent Journal Review and the International Business Times, picked up the story.

Trump supporters are also using it as evidence to support his rigging claims:

As we pointed out in a tweetstorm directed at TMZ, impersonating a voter is exceedingly rare.

"What we're talking about is people going into a polling place and pretending to be someone else," said Rick Hasen, an elections expert and a professor at University of California, Irvine School of Law. This type of fraud is incredibly hard to pull off.

"You'd have to know who isn't voting, and then you'd also have to know that person wouldn't be recognized if you went into their polling place and pretended to be them, since polling places are often run by neighbors," Hasen said.

You'd also have to look as if you could be about the age of the voter you are impersonating, and mimic their signature to the point of passing. To do this on a mass scale - to the point it could tip elections - would be essentially impossible, Hasen added. He said he has never found a single example of this type of fraud impacting any election.

No widely accepted research has found in-person voter fraud is actually a real concern. A study by a Columbia University professor tracked accusations of fraud for two years, and found that the vast majority of reports were "false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief and administrative or voter error."

Another study done at Arizona State University found zero successful prosecutions for voter fraud in five states between 2012 and 2016. A study of 14 years of voting (about 1 billion ballots) found a total of 31 credible instances of in-person voter fraud.

And even these extremely rare cases of in-person voter impersonation are generally caught before they are counted, said Hasen.

"Even if we had these perfect criminals who could figure out how to perfectly sign for someone else, it's not going to do the trick," he said. "Your neighbor can come in to vote, look at their name on the roll and say, 'Hey, someone else has voted as me,' and that puts an end to that."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:27 AM | Permalink

When A 'Tax Bonanza' Is Actually A Huge Corporate Tax Break

There is a push underway for a huge corporate tax break from the next administration.

Multinational corporations owe more than $720 billion in taxes on profits stashed in tax havens. They are proposing to bring those profits back if the government lets them pay only a fraction of what's owed.

This is being sold as a "tax bonanza" to pay for infrastructure. Actually it's a "tax-break bonanza" for corporations. Don't be bamboozled.

"Clinton Readies Post-Election Push on Highways, Corporate Taxes," Bloomberg Politics reported this week. To wit:

Clinton says on her website that in her first 100 days as president she'll seek approval of the "biggest investment in American infrastructure in decades," creating tens of thousands of jobs. Gene Sperling, a Clinton economic adviser, said that a $275 billion infrastructure plan would be among her top three domestic priorities at a forum this month sponsored by the National Association for Business Economics.

This is absolutely the right thing to do and would get her presidency off to a great start. We badly need to repair our aging infrastructure, because the economy could use it and because of all the jobs it creates. Good for Clinton.

(Of course, the need is much, much more than $275 billion. The American Society of Civil Engineers' Infrastructure Report Card estimated in 2013 that we need to spend $3.6 trillion just to get things back in shape, never mind modernized.)

Still, $275 billion is an excellent down-payment on the problem. But where will the $275 billion come from?

Clinton has said she would finance infrastructure spending through unspecified "business tax reform." Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said on CNBC Oct. 18 that the money would come from a lower tax rate on profits stashed overseas by U.S. corporations. Other Democrats close to the Clinton camp said they anticipate she would adopt the Schumer approach.

Uh oh. The Schumer approach?

The lower tax rate would produce a one-time bonanza as companies brought home an estimated $2.5 trillion stockpiled abroad.

Obama proposed an infrastructure plan financed by a one-time 14 percent tax rate on overseas profits returned to the U.S. instead of the current 35 percent maximum rate. Congressional Republicans previously proposed an 8.75 percent rate on repatriated cash.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a recent report that Obama's plan would have yielded at least $240 billion for the government to spend.

Wait. Back up. These corporations owe more than $720 billion in taxes. What's this "one-time 14 percent tax rate?" The corporate tax rate is 35 percent (it was reduced from 52% in 1983) and 35% is what all the companies that didn't dodge their taxes paid. Why do these tax-dodgers get to pay only 14%?

Shouldn't the tax-dodging corporations pay what they owe - and pay a fine for tax-dodging - instead of getting a huge tax break?

Collecting $240 billion when they owe more than $720 billion is not a "tax bonanza" in any way, shape or form. It is a huge, giant tax break for the giant corporations that dodged their taxes. Here is a word problem: How much money is $720 billion minus $240 billion? (Hint: this would save $480 billion cash to corporations as a reward for dodging their taxes while other corporations paid what they owed.)

Here is another word problem for you: Which of the following is more for We the People to do things like repair our infrastructure, $720 billion or $240 billion? (Hint, $720 billion is more than $240 billion.)

Closing the loophole that lets these companies get away with stashing profits in tax shelters and then collecting the $720 billion they owe us - and another $90-$100 billion every year thereafter - would be the true tax bonanza (if you can call the receipts from fair taxation a "bonanza.")

Make these tax-dodging corporations pay the taxes they owe us. They don't deserve a huge tax break; they deserve a huge fine. Simple as that.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Previously in Tax Scammage:
* Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes With $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall.

* Offshoring By 29 Companies Costs Illinois $1.2 Billion Annually.

* Government Agencies Allow Corporations To Write Off Billions In Federal Settlements.

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* How The Maker Of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing.

* $1.4 Trillion: Oxfam Exposes The Great Offshore Tax Scam Of U.S. Companies.

* How Barclay's Turned A $10 Billion Profit Into A Tax Loss.

* Wall Street Stock Loans Drain $1 Billion A Year From German Taxpayers.

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

* A Schlupfloch Here, A Schlupfloch There. Now It's Real Money.

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

* Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

* Watch Out For The Coming Tax Break Trickery.

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Previously in the Panama Papers:
* The Panama Papers: Remarkable Global Media Collaboration Cracks Walls Of Offshore Tax Haven Secrecy.

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

* Mossack Fonseca's Oligarchs, Dictators And Corrupt White-Collar Businessmen.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! They're All In It Together.

* Meet The Panama Papers Editor Who Handled 376 Reporters In 80 Countries.

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Previously in the carried interest loophole:

* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 AM | Permalink

October 28, 2016

The [Friday] Papers

Here's a couple of World Series-related offerings. I'm taking the rest of the day off to explore the inner workings of Old Style - and the game, of course.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #125: Historic World Series Edition!
First Beachwood World Series podcast since 1945. Including: Coffman Returns To Cubs Fold!; Wrigleyville Security State; Corey Kluber Introduces Self To Nation; Bam Bam Is Back!; Matchup Mania!; Schwarber, Schwarber, Schwarber!; Jay Cutler Blah Blah Blah; Coach Qalm Down; and Bulls Opener Actually Compelling.

World Series Of The Apocalypse?
The manager of the Chicago Cubs is haunted by a prophetic dream that the world will end if the Cubs defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the National League pennant.

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I'll catch up with everything else over the weekend - which will also include continuing Cubs coverage.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Reverse symmetry.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:44 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Neon Indian at the Concord on Thursday night.


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2. Classixx at the Concord on Thursday night.

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3. Johnny Gioeli at the Tree in Joliet for the Rock 'n' Skull Festival preparty on Thursday night.

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4. Enuff Z'Nuff at Rock 'n Skull preparty on Thursday night.

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5. Satan's Hollow at Reggies on Wednesday night.

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6. Consider The Source at Reggies for Progtoberfest II on Sunday night.

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7. Joyner Lucas at the Concord on Tuesday night.

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8. Counter Intuits at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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9. Flasher at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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10. NRBQ at the Hideout on Monday night.

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11. Peter Groch at the Hideout for the Piano Power Hour on Tuesday night.

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12. Lucas Gillan at the Piano Power Hour on Tuesday night.

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13. Adrienne Schroeder at the Piano Power Hour on Tuesday night.

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14. Cam at Joe's Bar on Thursday night.

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15. Rented Rooms at Township on Sunday night.

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16. Kero Kero Bonito at Subterranean on Wednesday night.

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17. Gabe Janky & Friends at the Sauk Village Community Center in Sauk Village on Sunday night.

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18. Plum Creek at the Sauk Village Community Center in Sauk Village on Sunday night.

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19. Hinds at Thalia Hall on Monday night.

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Catching up with . . .

The Susan Voelz Experience at the Vic on October 22nd.

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Bad Cop Bad Cop at the Chop Shop on October 21st.

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Necromonkey at Reggies for Progtoberfest II on October 22nd.

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The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra at Reggies for Progtoberfest II on October 21st.

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Failure at Double Door on October 21st.

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Chris Bolint at the Star Bar in Chicago Ridge on October 21st.

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Cooled Out Babies at Quenchers on October 22nd.

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Gnash at Lincoln Hall on October 15th.

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Loverboy at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan on October 13th.

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Rorey Carroll at Thalia Hall on October 11th.

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Billy Bragg at Thalia Hall on October 18th.

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Purge Giraffe at the Elbo Room on October 22nd.

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No Men at Bric-a-Brac for Cassette Store Day on October 8th.

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Slushy at Bric-a-Brac for Cassette Store Day on October 8th.

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Teenage Fanclub at Bottom Lounge on October 21st.

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Nots at the Empty Bottle on October 20th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:32 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #125: Historic World Series Edition!

First Beachwood World Series podcast since 1945. Including: Coffman Returns To Cubs Fold!; Wrigleyville Security State; Corey Kluber Introduces Self To Nation; Bam Bam Is Back!; Matchup Mania!; Schwarber, Schwarber, Schwarber!; Jay Cutler Blah Blah Blah; Coach Qalm Down; and Bulls Opener Actually Compelling.


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SHOW NOTES

* 125.

:28: Coffman Returns To Cubs Fold!

coffcubs.jpg

5:00: Wrigleyville Security State.

9:07: Corey Kluber Introduces Self To Nation.

14:15: Bam Bam Is Back!

* But should he be?

* Choke job.

* Crisis averted.

21:16: Matchup Mania!

* Why Game 6 Will Decide This Series.

* Hail Szczur!

* The Schwarber Scenarios.

* Unsung heroes: Contreras, Mike Montgomery, Ben Zobrist.

* Free Willy.

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Willy's Pimpin' Pant Legs.

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* More Schwarber!

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* Historic Dexter Fowler.

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Historic Ben Zobrist.

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* More Schwarber!

* Lonnie Scissorshands.

* Wayward Heyward.

54:38: Where's Marty?

martydisney.jpg

The tumblers of the universe are now in place.

56:23: We've Paid Our Dues. This Is Ours.

58:10: Jay Cutler Blah Blah Blah.

1:02:28: Coach Qalm Down.

1:05:13: Bulls Opener Actually Compelling.

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STOPPAGE: 8:54

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For archives and other shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:31 PM | Permalink

World Series Of The Apocalypse?

W.P. Kinsella is probably best known for his 1982 novel Shoeless Joe, the inspiration for the film Field of Dreams. But the following year, Kinsella wrote a lesser-known short story titled The Last Pennant Before Armageddon, in which Al Tiller, the manager of the Chicago Cubs, is haunted by a prophetic dream that the world will end if the Cubs defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the National League pennant. This puts Tiller in a bind: He must choose between momentary glory or the end of the world.

Those familiar with the short story may have braced themselves on Oct. 22, when the Cubs vanquished the Los Angeles Dodgers to win their first pennant since 1945. The world didn't end. Not yet anyway.

But if the Cubs defeat the Cleveland Indians to win their first World Series since 1908, it will end the longest period of futility in American sports - and forever put to rest the Curse of the Billy Goat.

Something else, however, could be lost. Failure, melancholy and heartache - not joy and triumph - inspire drama and comedy, and no team in sports has inspired better literature than the hapless Cubs. Over the course of their long, storied history of losing, their failures have played out on the page.

The Best That Never Was

Ring Lardner was one of the greatest sportswriters of the early 20th century. He also wrote short stories that captured the distinctive voice of baseball players, and he inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger and Virginia Woolf. In Alibi Ike, Lardner's protagonist is a Cubs player, Francis X. Farrell, who has an excuse for every error and every blunder.

In Bernard Malamud's 1952 novel The Natural, 19-year-old baseball player Roy Hobbs vows that he will be the "best that ever was." On his way to a tryout with the Cubs he meets the beautiful Harriet Bird. She invites him to her hotel room and then shoots him, leaving him critically injured, his dreams of greatness dashed.

The novel is based on the true story of Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus. In 1949, Waitkus, who once played for the Cubs, returned to Chicago for a game. An obsessed fan, Ruth Ann Steinhagen, invited Waitkus to her hotel room. Once Waitkus entered, she shot him in the stomach, nearly killing him.

A Team Of Goats

For Cubs fans, legendary futility is the recurring punchline.

Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko has been dubbed the "poet laureate of Wrigley Field." He helped perpetuate the story of the "Curse of the Billy Goat," a spell cast on the team by the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern after being kicked out of Wrigley Field, along with his actual pet goat, during the 1945 World Series. (Fans had complained about the animal's stench.)

Royko regularly pointed out in his columns that the Cubs failed to win not because a goat wasn't allowed in Wrigley Field but because goats were allowed to play for the Cubs.

The Cubs Reader is a 1991 collection of essays that includes contributions from writers like Roger Angell, Roy Blount Jr., George Will and Ira Berkow. In Will's essay, he admits that his gloomy conservative politics come from his decision to be a Cubs fans at age seven in 1948. "I plighted my troth to a baseball team destined to dash the cup of life's joy from my lips," he wrote.

In fact, the first joke I ever heard came from my father, a lifelong Cubs fan who is now 92:

"Will the mother who left her nine kids at Wrigley Field please come and get them," the stadium's public address announcer says one afternoon. "They're beating the Cubs 7-2."

Armageddon Averted?

The Last Pennant Before Armageddon was included in a collection of W.P. Kinsella's essays called The Thrill of the Grass. In the story, the backdrop for the Cubs' season is the threat of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. In one of the manager's dreams, God says, "I think you should know that when the Cubs next win the National League Championship, it will be the last pennant before Armageddon."

Tiller finds himself in the decisive game with a fatigued starter. He can leave in his starter, which could cost his team the game but save the world, or he can bring in his closer and probably win the game - and destroy civilization.

The Thrill of the Grass was published in 1984 - the year the Cubs were one win away from winning the National League pennant. They ended up losing three straight to the San Diego Padres. Armageddon averted.

Almost 20 years later, before the 2003 National League Championship Series between the Cubs and the Marlins, Kinsella was asked if he thought the world would end if the Cubs won the pennant.

"We'll just have to wait and see," he said.

The Cubs were five outs away from winning the pennant in 2003 when things fell spectacularly apart.

If the Cubs do win the World Series, Kinsella won't see it. He died on Sept. 16, a day after the Cubs clinched the National League's Central Division.

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Chris Lamb is a journalism professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:56 PM | Permalink

October 27, 2016

The [Thursday] Papers

"If you're going to lose a World Series game, you might as well let the bottom fall out," Zack Meisel writes for Cleveland.com.

"Go for broke. Throw every bad habit, every baseball malady out there. Get the Trevor Bauer inefficiency, the Bryan Shaw nibbling, the Danny Salazar rust-shaking, the dormant lumber and the groan-inducing defense all out of the way in one fell swoop.

"This wasn't the type of World Series loss that leaves a fan base with a stinging sensation, like the one Tribe fans suffered on Oct. 26, 1997. This Oct. 26, 2016 defeat was more of the dull ache variety, only fans in attendance couldn't feel it because the bone-chilling temperatures numbed every finger and toe in the venue.

"Little went right for the Indians in Game 2, and now Terry Francona's bunch will venture west for three games at Wrigley Field, with the World Series knotted at one game apiece."

It's like the Cubs had nothing to do with any of it!

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World Series no big deal at Cleveland.com, where this is top of site:

Screen Shot 2016-10-27 at 1.42.57 PM.png

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The top story in Cleveland as I write this:

"Police investigating a street gang tied to dozens of smash-and-grab ATM thefts raided three homes in Cleveland and two in Euclid early Thursday.

"SWAT teams with assault rifles stood outside the homes while investigators conducted the searches about 9 a.m.

"Officers took several bags of evidence from each home. An officer in Euclid carried out a large plastic container with evidence."

*

FYI: All Signs Point To McCown Starting Sunday.

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World Series Notebook 3: Crisis Averted!
A learning experience.

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See also . . .

When The Cubs Were The Microbes
Stellar work by Robert Loerzel.

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Cleveland's Happy Dog vs. WGN-TV.

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Snowden: 'Journalists Are A Threatened Class'
"Things are pretty bad for our side. For the government's side, it's never been easier."

*

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Pumpkinpalooza
For example: Bees are needed to pollinate pumpkins.

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The Kool-Aid Report: America's Next Top QB
"Do whatever feels right," our very own Carl Mohrbacher writes, "as long as whatever you're drinking is strong because this Bears game has very little intrigue as a standalone product."

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BeachBook

The Real Story Behind Donald Trump's Aborted 1991 Heavy Metal Video Appearance, Featuring Chicago's Pritzkers.

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Clinton Team Sweated Her Stance On Trade, E-Mails Show.

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Hacked Memo Offers An Angry Glimpse Inside 'Bill Clinton Inc.'

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CJP FOIAs CPD For Staffing Analysis.

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Avocado Shortage Hits Chicago Restaurants, Markets.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Bam.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:42 PM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Cutler?

Random observations from a week in which it was difficult to care about what happened with my fantasy football teams:

Hoyer done, Miller fading. Cutler? Nah . . . : With Brian Hoyer having suffered a broken arm at the height of his value, there are few Chicago Bears worth owning for fantasy.

TE Zach Miller's value probably takes a plunge with Hoyer done. RB Jordan Howard and WRs Alshon Jeffrey and Cameron Meredith all have some borderline value.

What about QB Jay Cutler, who probably returns his week? You can make a mild argument for him as a bye week filler if you're in a very deep league in which most other options are exhausted, but the Bears are way off course, and I really doubt you will get double-digit fantasy points out of him.

In any case, who cares? By the time Sunday came around in Week 7, I was still too drunk on the Cubs' pennant clincher Saturday night to even check my fantasy football rosters.

Jay Ajayi is so good that Arian Foster retired: Ajayi, the second-year Miami RB, collected more than 200 yards rushing for the second straight week. This comes after Ajayi started the season playing second fiddle to veteran Arian Foster, but Foster, as we all knew would happen, got hurt in the second game of the season. He played the last two games while Ajayi was running wild, but no surprise, no one noticed. Foster promptly announced his retirement Monday after eight increasingly injury-prone seasons.

All I can say is I hope you hand-cuffed Ajayi to Foster in the draft like you were supposed to. Ajayi looks pretty legit right now, though I'm betting his workload comes down a bit - he may only manage 190 yards in Week 9 after a bye this week.

Melvin Gordon is a TD-scoring machine: The Chargers again look like the most pass-happy team in the league, but you won't convince Gordon of that. The Kenosha-born former Badger has scored eight rushing TDs and 10 total in seven games. That's really the bulk of his fantasy value, since he has surpassed 69 yards rushing in a game just twice this season.

Gordon didn't have much of a rookie season last year, and was seen as the second-best fantasy RB in San Diego this season after Danny Woodhead, but the latter is out for the season, and the Chargers seem willing to ride Gordon in the red zone. It's a recipe that has earned him the third-most fantasy points among RBs despite no being in the top 10 in rushing yards.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

World Series Notebook 3: Crisis Averted!

The Cubs are right back in it!

Look, we sort of don't know how to behave going this deep into the playoffs. So suddenly every game has become like a Bears game - win and we're going all the way, lose and everybody should be fired. Or, not that exactly - that's where the analogy breaks down - but lose and the season is an epic failure.

The Score's exasperated on Jason Goff had it right on Wednesday when he said "We just went through this, just a week ago!" and no lessons were learned. That's when losing 1-0 to Clayton Kershaw spelled certain doom for the boys in blue. And yet, it didn't.

Learn, dammit!

*

So now the Cubs actually come out of Cleveland with a split, instead of Cleveland merely holding serve with the series shifting to Wrigley. Advantage, Cubs.

Of course, if we wanted to not learn for a second, we'd project a Kyle Hendricks victory in Game 3, a Corey Kluber victory in Game 4, and a Jon Lester victory in Game 5. Kluber is slated to start again in Game 7, if the series goes that long, leaving Game 6, featuring last night's starter Jake Arrieta, as the real decider.

If we wanted to return to learning, we'd remember that Madison Bumgarner threw a real stinker against the Cubs in the first round of the playoffs, despite fears he'd be unhittable, and that, of course, the Cubs got to Kershaw in order to get here in the first place.

Oh, and Schwarber.

Super Bam
Well, Kyle Schwarber is certainly making us skeptics look like idiots.

Of course, we couldn't be happier, but geez.

That's not to say, though, that the full tale is told. First, you never know what would have happened in either Games 1 or 2 if, say, Matt Szczur or Tommy La Stella was on the roster instead.

Second, if Schwarber can't play the field the next three games at Wrigley, he gets one pinch-hit opportunity - at best - in each game.

And it's hard to imagine him getting clearance to play the field - though that's what we thought about him playing in this series at all. Then you have to ask yourself: Do you really want to stick him out there, knee brace and all?

Ben Zobrist would move to right and Jason Heyward, Chris Coghlan and Jorge Soler would stay on the bench, which is alright, but holy cow. (Szczur can blame Heyward in part for losing his roster spot because if Heyward's hitting was even marginally acceptable, the team might not have felt like they needed Albert Almora Jr.)

Wait . . . this just in:

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Fake Jake
Yeah, I wouldn't say it was vintage Arrieta. I'd say the Cubs got away with one. Their best pitcher Wednesday night was actually Magic Mike Montgomery.

First, Arrieta.

While it's true that he "settled down" after the first inning, his relative success owed equally to Cleveland hitters taking poor approaches. (Cleveland looked out of sorts all over the place, most notably in the field, where they committed two errors and several other miscues that led to most if not all of the Cubs' runs. And when even manager Terry Francona complains about the cold, you know the whole team wasn't comfortable.)

To wit:

From ESPN's David Schoenfield:

Arrieta never seemed particularly sharp, however; indeed, 34 percent of his pitchers were deemed "non-competitive," which means nowhere near the strike zone. That was his highest such rate of the season.

He got better as the game progressed, throwing 49 percent strikes the first two innings and 60 percent after that. The Indians squared up a couple of balls, but after Jose Ramirez flew out to medium-deep center to end the first, they didn't threaten until they scratched a run across on a wild pitch in the sixth.

From The New York Times' James Wagner:

What Jake Arrieta did in rotten weather on Wednesday night during Game 2 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians made little sense. He threw a first-pitch strike to only half the batters he faced. He fired 98 pitches in all, but only 55 were strikes. He walked three batters.

In just 5 1/3 innings.

Tellingly, when Len Kasper came on radio broadcast to call the 5th inning, as he's done throughout the playoffs, he opened with "Jake Arrieta dealing through four." Through four, however, regulars Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer had described in wonderment how badly Arrieta was missing the strike zone.

So no, not vintage. But good enough to win.

*

On the other hand, another key outing from Montgomery, who has turned into the Cubs' best - and most-trusted - bullpen arm.

Montgomery did give up two hits and a walk in his two-inning stint, but he also struck out four on nasty change-ups before handing the ball to Aroldis Chapman, allowing Maddon to bypass the scuffling Pedro Strop and, especially, Hector Rondon.

ESPN's Mark Simon called Montgomery the game's unsung hero:

Game 2 of the World Series was the third time this postseason that Montgomery pitched multiple innings in relief; he has done so once in each round. He got a loss in the LDS, though he was impressive for four innings before allowing a walk-off hit in the 13th inning. He pitched two innings to get the win in Game 4 of the LCS against the Dodgers.

What was noteworthy from this appearance was that though Montgomery is considerably better against lefties, he got five of his six outs against right-handed batters, including three of his four strikeouts. To do so, he went to his changeup. He threw it six times, all for strikes, and netted three outs with it.

To wit:

*

Simon also praised Contreras:

Contreras has had the two best games by a Cubs catcher this postseason, as far as getting called strikes for his pitchers: Game 2 of the NLDS against the Giants and Game 2 of the World Series.

On Wednesday, Contreras got four called strikes on pitches that are called for strikes less than 25 percent of the time. In each of the four instances, the Cubs pitcher (Arrieta for three, Montgomery for one) retired the hitter on whom he got the call.

I'd like to put in a word for Zobrist, who followed his 3-for-4 against Kluber in Game 1 with a 2-for-4 night in Game 2, including a triple and a walk.

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Top Tweets

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:49 AM | Permalink

Pumpkinpalooza

PUMPKIN FACTS

* Illinois is the number one pumpkin producer in the United States.

* The top 10 pumpkin producing counties in Illinois are: Tazewell, Mason Wayne, Peoria, Stark, Moultrie, Logan, Kane, McHenry, McLean.

* There is a difference between pumpkins you cook and the pumpkins you carve.

* Pumpkin is a fruit because they are part of the plant that contains seeds.

* Pumpkins are grown primarily for processing, with a small percentage grown for ornamental sales through you-pick farms, farmers' market, and retail sales.

* It takes 110 days for a pumpkin vine to produce mature pumpkins.

* Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, sodium and high in fiber.

* 80 percent of the pumpkins produced commercially in the United States are produced within a 90-mile radius of Peoria.

* Giant pumpkins can grow five pounds a day.

* Pumpkins can rage in size from less than a pound to over 1,000 pounds.

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GROWING PUMPKINS

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When to plant: Late May for northern locations, Early July for southern locations.

* Vine pumpkins require at least 50 to 100 square feet for growth; plant seeds one inch deep in the ground.

* Bush varieties: Plant seeds one inch deep, and three feet apart.

* Bees are needed to pollinate pumpkins.

* Pumpkins are ready to be picked with the rind is hard and a deep orange color.

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PUMPKIN PATCHES & FARMS (always call to verify hours of operation)

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* Curtis Orchard - Champaign County

* Broom Orchard - Macoupin County

* Ackerman Farms - Tazewell County

* Gail's Pumpkin Patch - Logan County

* Bomke's Patch - Sangamon County

* The Great Pumpkin Patch - Moultrie County

* Rader Family Farms - McLean County

* Eckert's Farm - St. Clair County

* Wagon Wheel Pumpkin Farm - Dewitt County

* All Seasons Orchard - McHenry County

* Bandy's Pumpkin Patch - Williamson County

* Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm - Will County

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PINTEREST PUMPKINS

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* Pumpkin Recipes.

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ILLINOIS GIANT PUMPKIN GROWERS ASSOCIATION

Screen Shot 2016-10-27 at 2.19.06 AM.png

* On Facebook.

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Comments welcome.




Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:55 AM | Permalink

Snowden: 'Journalists Are A Threatened Class' In Era Of Mass Surveillance

Whistleblower Edward Snowden warned a group of European reporters Wednesday that in the era of mass surveillance, journalists are increasingly a threatened class.

In a live-streamed discussion on investigative journalism hosted by Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung, Snowden explored the threats to journalists posed by hostile governmental forces and a vast global surveillance network.

"Journalists are increasingly a threatened class when we think about the right to privacy," Snowden said. "Yes, I can give you tips on how to protect your communications, but you are going to be engaging in an arms race that you simply cannot win. You must fight this on the front pages and you must win, if you want to be able to report in the same way that you've been able to do in the previous centuries."

Snowden went on to highlight the critical role journalists play in provoking crucial public debate about government policy, such as the United States' spying activities:

We have technologies that can protect communications in an unbreakable format when they're in transit. Governments have reacted to this as if we've thrown them in a pool of acid, saying you know, "You're shutting us out, you're going dark." This is false. Any government official who claims we're going dark is lying. We know this because we have classified documents from inside governments and we have reportage from journalists who have been in private sessions with these officials. Things are pretty bad for our side. For the government's side, it's never been easier. How do we reconcile this with this idea that these are theoretically, as far as our understanding of mathematics goes, unbreakable communications?

It's because what we're doing is we're thwarting mass surveillance when we use encryption. We're not stopping targeted surveillance. Because even, again, if you have the most well-encrypted device in the world, if the government spends a million dollars to pay a hacker to exploit your phone personally, they will very likely succeed.

In our current state of the art, offense is easier than defense. This is an unfortunate artifact of the fact that governments around the world have prioritized offensive capabilities for the benefit of spying on people so much more strongly than they have defensive capabilities, preventing our countries from being hacked.

And this is what's leading to the kind of dynamics we see today . . . Whether it's the Office of Personnel Management, whether it's this recent Democratic National Committee hack, whether it's all of these other things about infrastructural attacks, fear of the power grid being attacked - these were preventable problems.

But unfortunately we don't have this pressure, that should be simply blistering, coming from newspapers, going, "We are the most advanced societies in the world, we are the most connected societies in the world, and in some sort of computer-based conflict . . . we have more to lose."

We can hack Russia 10 times; it will cause less damage to them than one hack to us will cause. We can hack North Korea 1,000 times, and they will suffer less damage than if they hacked us a single time. This is not a game that we want to get into, so why are we doing so? It's because policy is short-sighted.

And policy is only short-sighted here because it is not being publicly debated

It is not being openly scrutinized outside of this audience of a few special interests.

Watch the whole hour-long talk here:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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From The Global Editors Network:

Edward Snowden has a message for the press when it comes to government surveillance: "Be as adversarial as possible." The former NSA contractor spoke to Editors Lab participants at Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich via video chat from Moscow yesterday. He said news organizations are not only uniquely affected by mass surveillance, but uniquely positioned to take action.

In an interview led by author and professor Dan Gillmor, Snowden warned that freedom of the press cannot exist without confidentiality between journalists and their sources. Gillmor kicked off the discussion with a developing report from The Daily Beast on AT&T's massive spying program going back as far as 1987. And in this age of increased tracking, the fear of being identified can have a chilling effect on potential whistleblowers.

See more here: Snowden: Journalists Can't Win Surveillance Arms Race Against NSA; They Have To Lobby For Privacy-Protecting Policies.

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Previously:
* AT&T Spying On Americans For Profit.

* ACLU Demands Secret U.S. Court Reveal Secret U.S. Laws.

* Obama's New Era Of Secret Law.

* EFF To Court: Government Must Inform People That It's Accessing Their E-Mails, Personal Data.

* A Plea To Citizens, Websites: Fight The Expansion Of Government Powers To Break Into Users' Computers.

* NSA Today: Archives Of Spy Agency's Internal Newsletter Culled From Snowden Documents.

* U.S. Surveillance Court A Bigger Rubber Stamp Than Chicago City Council.

* Obama Won't Tell Congress How Many Innocent Americans He's Spying On.

* Ruling Unsealed: National Security Letters Upheld As Constitutional.

* EFF Sues For Secret Court Orders Requiring Tech Companies To Decrypt Users' Communications.

* Trying (And Trying) To Get Records From The 'Most Transparent Administration' Ever.

* EFF Urges Appeals Court To Allow Wikimedia And Others To Fight NSA Surveillance.

* U.S. Government Reveals Breadth Of Requests For Internet Records.

* What's The Evidence That Mass Surveillance Works? Not Much.

* Why The Close Collaboration Between The NSA And AT&T Matters.

* First Library To Support Anonymous Internet Browsing Effort Stops After DHS E-Mail.

* EFF Sues For Records About 'Hemisphere' Phone Call Collection And Drug Enforcement Program.

* Snowden Documentarian Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years Of Airport Detentions And Searches.

* Obama Secretly Expanded NSA Spying To Internet.

* Court: NSA Phone Program Illegal.

* The Chicago Connection To The Hidden Intelligence Breakdowns Behind The Mumbai Attacks.

* Human Rights Watch Sues DEA Over Bulk Collection Of American's Telephone Records.

* U.S. Secretly Tracked Billions Of Calls For Decades.

* Amnesty International Joins ACLU, Wikimedia In Lawsuit To Stop Mass Surveillance Program.

* Stop Spying On Wikipedia Users.

* EFF Wins Battle Over Secret Legal Opinions On Government Spying.

* The NSA's "U.S. Corporate Partners."

* I Fight Surveillance.

* Illegal Spying Below.

* Smith vs. Obama.

* EFF Sues NSA Over FOIA.

* Stand Against Spying.

* The NSA Revelations All In One Chart.

* U.S. Supreme Court Limits Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF To Court: There's No Doubt The Government Destroyed NSA Spying Evidence.

* House Committee Puts NSA On Notice Over Encryption Standards.

* Which Tech Companies Help Protect You From Government Data Demands?

* Lawsuit Demands DOJ Release More Secret Surveillance Court Rulings.

* Human Rights Organizations To Foreign Ministers: Stop Spying On Us.

* What The Proposed NSA Reforms Wouldn't Do.

* Technologists Turn On Obama.

* Dear Supreme Court: Set Limits On Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF Fights National Security Letter Demands On Behalf Of Telecom, Internet Company.

* Eighth-Grader Schools The NSA.

* You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi.

* Today We Fight Back.

* The Day We Fight Back.

* FAQ: The NSA's Angry Birds.

* Jon Stewart: The Old Hope-A-Dope.

* Four Blatantly False Claims Obama Has Made About NSA Surveillance.

* EFF To DOJ In Lawsuit: Stop Pretending Information Revealed About NSA Over Last Seven Months Is Still A Secret.

* Judge On NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn't Actually Support His Ruling.

* Edward Snowden's Christmas Message.

* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* 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.

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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.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

October 26, 2016

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: America's Next Top QB

I have two critiques of Brian Hoyer's performance as a Bear: He is 30-years-old and his bones are susceptible to injury.

If he can overcome those two shortcomings, he should be an unstoppable force in 2017.

Hoyer was removed from last week's game in the second quarter due to what was later revealed to be a broken arm, which I specifically told him not to do, dammit!

He was replaced by obligatory USC product Matt Barkley, who performed as if he hadn't being doin' much in the way of footballin' since he left the Trojans.

Based on his comments in the postgame news conference, head coach John Fox seemed as underwhelmed as the rest of Bear Nation.

"The personnel people thought he was a taller guy that stood in the pocket pretty well," said Fox (read: I don't know what numbnuts put this guy on my team, but he's a definitely five-foot-nine statue who choked on the big stage).

Fox's tone became distant as he continued.

"A guy that we thought we could work with, that had some experience . . . "

At this point, Fox trailed off and began to blow air through his pursed his lips, the weight of 2016's horrendous start pushing down on him.

He vacantly stared out over the assembled press.

Reflections of simpler days overtook him, as he sought refuge in memories of the young farm boy he once was, running his hand over the blades of wheat that blew gently in Iowa's summer wind.

[Editor's Note: Ooooohkay. The Bears broke Carl again. Sheila, go grab the emergency Scotch while I correct a few things. John Fox played high school football in Chula Vista, California, a town whose only known "wheat" export is juiced wheat grass.The town's nickname is "The Lemon Capital Of The World." You're definitely thinking of the movie Gladiator.]

A distant smile crept across the coach's face as he remembered the feeling of running his small hands over the bumpy yellow bounty that grew from stalks in the ground . . .

[Editor's Note: Sheila, hurry the hell up! He doesn't know the difference between lemons and corn. I've got to patch him up enough to get something posted by tomorrow morning!]

The reporters continued to ask questions, but all Fox could hear were the dulcet tones of a soothing lullaby his mother used to sing . . . Stop, collaborate and listen. Ice is back with a brand new edition . . .

[Editor's Note: Alright, stay with me buddy. I need you to tilt your head back and take few big swallows of medicine.]

Gilk, gilk, gilk.

[Editor's Note: Carl? You ok? Talk to us.]

(Cough, shudder)

. . . And then Brandon Marshall lit up his former teammates on Twitter like Elvira blowing up a gas station on her way to Falwell.

[Editor's Note: Brief mention of a former Bear, reference to an obscure movie scene, link to a picture of a chesty brunette and something on fire; he's fine Sheila, you can get back to your desk. Tell my nine o'clock I'll be in shortly.]

Ugh. What the hell happened?

[Editor's Note: It was the game. At least you weren't bleeding from the nose this time. I mean, we all expected it to be bad, but none of us had any idea how terrible the offense would perform without Hoyer running it.]

No! The Scotch! Was that Johnny Walker Red?! C'mon bro, I know you've got a bottle of Glenfiddich in your desk drawer!

[Editor's Note: I've got a meeting with some potential advertisers. Try to talk a little football while I go scare up some revenue, would you?]

Right. Sure. Whatever.

Obviously, we were all hoping for a spark out of Barkley.

[Editor's Note: Then we could call him Sparkley.]

[Writer's Note: I'll tell the jokes here, thank you. Now, as I was saying . . . ]

Obviously, we were all hoping for a spark out of Barkley. Not just for the sake of beating the Packers (which the Bears did masterfully - if by "did" you mean get outscored 26-10), but to provide some hope that Chicago has something, anything, in the pipeline as far as a young, potentially future starting QB amid what has clearly become a rebuild.

After witnessing Barkley's performance, the Bears medically cleared Jay Cutler to return to action.

What a co-inky-dink!

Hoyer played well enough during the last several games to earn himself a job somewhere in the NFL so, even though he'll spend the rest of 2016 holding a clipboard in his left hand, don't feel too bad for him.

Mr. Cutler, on the other hand (the hand that has a good thumb), looks to spend the next 10 weeks proving to the rest of the world that he has the ability to continue plying his trade at the highest level.

With the guaranteed dollars on his contract set to expire at the end of this season, he'll not only be auditioning for all 32 teams but also attempting to royally fuck up the Bears' chances of securing a top ten draft pick.

Will that be enough motivation for Smokin' Jay to lead the Chicago to win, say, six out of the final nine games?

Haha!

I almost said sixty-nine.

Sure, they found a way to lose to the Jaguars, but with the help of several key cogs coming back from injury, is it really that insane to think that this team can beat the Bucs, Giants, Titans, 49ers, Redskins and just one game against the Vikings, Packers or Lions?

Jay, would you like to secure your future in the NFL and screw a city that has never really fully embraced your efforts, despite being arguably the best quarterback in its history?

cutlercaaare.png

That's what I thought.

What Worked

  • Leonard Floyd: Many of us have not only written off Floyd, but have begun to seriously question the scouting ability of the man who drafted him. On Thursday night, Floyd had two sacks, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a touchdown.

    Perhaps we spoke too soon on both accounts?

    As a counter-argument, I give you Kevin White.

    Remember him? Didn't think so.

    But on an otherwise depressing night, the man who is so football-skinny that he's nearly transparent flashed the kind of physical brilliance Ryan Pace banked on last draft day.

  • Uh, The Defense I Guess? Through three quarters, the defense did a good job of holding Green Bay in check and even scored the Bears' lone touchdown.

    But then the fourth quarter happened, the Packers cashed in their opportunities on an exhausted squad, and everyone who doesn't love the Cubs went to bed sad.

    That said, gutty performance for a unit that got no help from their offense.

What . . . I Mean Really. What?!

  • Quarterback Play: 81 yards and two picks. That's Matt Barkley's line. Which sucks eggs.

    Fun fact (fun, if you're into the thrill of encountering a mute guy dressed as a clown in the forest): Hoyer's line wasn't any better. He was a whopping four for eleven before Julius Peppers put an end to his arm's season*.

    Hey, maybe holding an open audition at running right now will help things?

    Oh, it didn't? Fuuuuuuck!

Eye On The Opposition: The Deep D
Like the Bears, the Minnesota Vikings have been dealing with a slew of injuries to key players and have also suffered a loss at the hands of the Eagles.

In addition, they play 11 men on the field at once and compete in the NFC's North division, but that's about where the similarities end.

For one, the Vikings win football games.

In 2016.

Which is this year.

Secondly, Minnesota has an exceptional D** and enough depth on their roster to absorb a seemingly endless string of injuries. The defensive unit that represents the Land O' Lakes comes into the week leading the NFL in scoring defense and total defense.

Here's the good news(?) - Our ol' friend Jay Cutler is likely to start this Monday . . . wait, the NFL gave the Bears another primetime game?

If I wanted to flaunt my shame in front of the entire nation, I'd just wander down to Washington Street and waggle my third testicle in front of the glass backdrop of the CBS evening news during a live taping.

On paper, this looks like a horrendous matchup for the Bears, but only because it is.

The Vikes' aforementioned top defense allows 14 points a game, while the Bears offense ranks last in scoring at 16 points per game.

So while Brian Hoyer sure looked good between the 20s, it doesn't take a deep dive into whatever the NFL equivalent of sabermetrics are to conclude that maybe he wasn't as valuable as he looked, given that his level of play did not lead to points.

Minnesota's weakness at the moment is their offense. Their O-line is banged up, QB Sam Bradford is one stiff wind away from a rotator cuff tear, and they have a couple of fullbacks filling in for the injured Adrian Peterson.

With the Chicago linebacking corps nearing full strength, it's possible that this game could be close.

Kool-Aid (1 of 5 Rocks Glasses Of Any Kind Of Whiskey)
My current favorite Monday whiskey these days is Breckenridge.

But do whatever feels right.

As long as whatever you're drinking is strong because this game has very little intrigue as a standalone product.

Bears fans interested in the Jay Cutler's play and the coaching staff's strategy for the remainder of the season can hold your attention if you're planning on coming back for more abuse next year.

Actually, even those guys should just DVR it.

To make this game a contest, the Bears are going to have to do three things: Put Sam Bradford on his ass (possible); put the ball in Alshon Jeffery's hands (with Cutler back, also possible); and put together a decent rushing attack (if we're relying on Ka'Deem Carey again for some reason, unlikely).

So there is a path to victory, and the Vikings look more vulnerable than usual coming into the game.

Will it be enough?

Nope.

Turnovers will doom the Bears to a 1-7 start.

Vikings 20, Bears 13

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About The Author
The Author understands that your time is valuable, and if you choose to spend Monday night doing something besides watching the Bears game (for instance, putting an entire loaf of ciabatta bread in your mouth at once), The Author will not hold it against you.

ciabattacarl.png

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* As an aside, try saying "Hoyer Arm" five times fast. Are your co-workers laughing at you yet?

** Not to be confused with the pubic hair-straightening product, "Exceptional D."

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:05 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

I like checking out the way sporting events are written up in the opposition media just to get a sense of how the other side sees things, as well as a reminder to my own readers of the way sports coverage is delivered through a hometown prism not unlike the partisan prism that people tend to interpret politics through. So here's what the Cleveland Plain Dealer had to say about Tuesday night's World Series opener:

Regular season, postseason, it doesn't matter. The Kluber Express continues to roll.

And it always helps to have Andrew Miller in the bullpen and Roberto Perez squatting behind the plate.

Kluber threw six scoreless innings Tuesday night and Perez hit two homers as the Indians beat the Cubs, 6-0, in Game 1 of the World Series at Progressive Field. The win made manager Terry Francona 9-0 in World Series games and gave the Indians an 8-1 record in this postseason.

In four starts this postseason, Kluber is 3-1 with a 0.74 ERA. In his last 22 starts, he's 15-3.

Wow, it's as if the Cubs don't even exist!

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Also from the Plain Dealer:

With the Indians three wins away from a World Series championship, 7-Eleven is getting into the let's offer Tribe fans free or discounted food game.

The convenience store is offering its Big Bite Hot Dogs at its nearly 100 Cleveland-area locations for 68 cents during the run of the World Series. Why 68 cents? Because the Indians last won the Fall Classic in 1948. And 2016 minus 1948 equals 68. Get it? Would selling the hot dogs, normally around $2, for 48 cents have made more sense? Perhaps, but hey, quarter-pound hot dogs don't grow on trees.

(7-Eleven is running a deal in Chicago as well: $1.08 for a Big Bite Hot Dog and Big Gulp in honor of the 108 years since the Cubs last won the Series.)

I did not know that. I had to read the Cleveland press to find out! But the PD's Joey Morona just couldn't leave well enough alone.

"Now that's we call a home run," a clever press release said.

Really, Joey? Does that pass for clever in Cleveland?

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Remember: Without the "r," Cleveland isn't clever.

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I just made that up.

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Though I can't be the first.

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Willette: So Cub fans pay more because they had to wait longer - haven't they suffered long enough? If KC were playing hot dogs would be a penny!

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P.S.: "In other free World Series food news, Eat n' Park is offering diners wearing Indians gear free Smiley Cookies with their meals at its Northeast Ohio locations. And, remember, you can pick up a free Doritos Loco Taco at Taco Bell on Nov. 2 from 2-6 p.m. thanks to Francisco Lindor's stolen base in the first inning of Game 1."

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By the way, the lead news story in Cleveland this morning, besides the World Series and the Cavaliers home opener:

The schemes described in a federal indictment against former MetroHealth executive Edward Hills and three former hospital dentists undertook were complex, intertwined and lasted for years.

They also involved about $250,000, much of which was taxpayer money. Meanwhile, Hills was being paid increasingly larger six-figure salaries for his work at the hospital system.

The U.S. Attorney's Office laid out its accusations in a 93-page indictment unsealed Tuesday, following the arrest of Hills and dentists Sari Alqsous, Yazan Al-Madani and Tariq Sayegh. The charges say the men steered MetroHealth clients and resources toward their private businesses and forced prospective residents to pay them bribes in exchange for preferential treatment.

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Finally, the continuing self-inflicted struggle for newspapers is real:

That's the top of the site. Nice branding.

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Idea: A national fund - be it Kickstarter or foundation money - to support the retrofits of newspaper websites in order that they may flourish instead of leaving so much money on the table. Perhaps an infrastructure fund!

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The New York Times has a nice, if flawed, site, and the Washington Post has made strides, but that's about it for the industry.

And, of course, design doesn't exist in a bubble, so any retrofitting must include an editorial/content retrofit - for example, the introduction of my patent-pending "every beat a blog" concept, disaggregating "sections," and tripling down on stables of verticals and niches.

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World Series Notebook 2: Choke Job
Lester set the tone, Maddon set the lineup, and Schwarber set something, what we're not sure.

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AT&T Spying On Americans For Profit
Oh, ho-hum, just more out-of-control mass surveillance, no big whoop.

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See also:

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What I Watched Last Night: Blades Of Bad-Assery
"Given my total lack of aptitude for anything involving tools, I'm always interested in seeing how true craftsmen end up manufacturing awesome shit out of basically nothing," our very own Scott Buckner writes.

"If I learned anything from the three-round, $10,000 winner-take-all elimination competition between four bladesmiths that is Forged in Fire, it was this: It might take a village to raise a child, but it takes a guy with an anvil to arm the village."

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BeachBook

Cubs Fan Ready To Get Completely Drunk Again On Only Two Days' Rest.

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There's a lot going on here.

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Logan Square.

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Chicago magazine has wisely asked him to do this for its (nicely designed) website for every World Series game.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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I don't remember that. Are you sure?

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Cleverer.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:57 AM | Permalink

World Series Notebook 2: Choke Job

Let's face it: Jon Lester choked.

Sure, the Cubs' bats (and Joe Maddon's managing) went cold again, but the game's winning runs were scored in the first inning, when the tone was set.

"It comes down to the first inning," Lester said afterward. "The first inning was tonight's game."

Of course, the other big inning was the seventh, when the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out and failed to push even one run across the plate.

This is where Maddon - and the (controversial) rostering of Kyle Schwarber - came into play.

With the Cubs down 3-0, Ben Zobrist opened the inning with a single. Schwarber drew a walk. Javy Baez singled to left. Willson Contreras pinch hit for Chris Coghlan, who got the start in right over Jason Heyward. Contreras flied out to shallow center, but Schwarber took off for third anyway. Only the inattentive Rajai Davis prevented an easy double play there by throwing home, even though Zobrist didn't attempt to score. Schwarber made it back to second in time to watch Addison Russell and David Ross strike out to end the threat.

It was nice that Schwarber walked, but is that the match-up you really want there - a guy who hasn't seen a major league pitcher for six months who slashed .143/.213.268 against lefties last year facing the best lefty reliever in the universe in Andrew Miller? Seems like the perfect time to bring Contreras in instead of waiting for the Coghlan at-bat. (Coghlan is slashing .289/.426/.474 against lefties in the last 28 days.)

This is where Schwarber's place on the playoff roster bites you. As much as you probably wouldn't have started righty Contreras as the DH against the Corey Kluber, who is hell on right-handers, you might have liked to have had lefty Tommy La Stella and/or righty Matt Szczur available.

Now, some folks are saying Schwarber had the best Cubs at-bats all night. Perhaps. But here's Maddon:

"You could see on the finish sometimes maybe the brace grabs him just a little bit. I kind of noticed that."

Look, Schwarber could turn out to be a World Series hero. It just feels like the Cubs' bench is suddenly short, given that you have two guys who can't hit in Heyward and Miguel Montero and one guy who can't field in Kyle.

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The Tribune's David Haugh, who advocated for Schwarber's inclusion on the roster, said on The Score this morning that "They need to get the hot hitter in the lineup." He was talking about Contreras.

With the DH spot taken up by Schwarber and Ross and Montero slated to catch the first two games of the series, that means left field, a position he has barely played since July, with Ben Zobrist (who went 3-for-4 last night) shifting to right.

I'm not sure you want to do that - at least on the road in an unfamiliar park.

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If not for the Cleveland's home field advantage thanks to a Kansas City Royal in a pretend game three months ago, I wonder if Schwarber would've been taken just to sit around waiting to pinch hit in the first two games and again in possible Games 6 and 7.

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Now watch Schwarber win tonight's game with a grand slam. Still, as Maddon likes to say, don't fall victim to outcome bias!

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But he just missed a home run!

No, he didn't.

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Pitch Framing
It must be hard to be a sports fan who thinks every umpire and broadcaster is against your team. Cubs fans sounded like White Sox fans last night, particularly when it came to the strike zone. Breaking news:

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From our very own Roger "White Sox Report" Wallenstein:

Pat Tomasulo on WGN this morning predicted that no pitcher would be able to beat the Cubs three times in a seven-game series, negating Corey Kluber's chances of matching, for instance, Lew Burdette's three wins in 1957 against the Yankees (3 starts, 3 complete games, 2 shutouts along with a 4-2 win) or even Madison Bumgarner in 2014 when he won twice, limiting the Royals to one earned run in 21 innings.

Tomasulo might turn out to be correct, but Kluber's statistics dictate that the Cubs had better win the games Kluber does not pitch.

Consider the following:

Kluber started 32 games this season, 16 at home and a like number away. He faced the Tigers, a hard-hitting team, four times, recording a 3-0 record and a 2.25 ERA. They hit .173 against him. His WHIP was an eye-opening 0.821.

He also started four times against the Royals, the defending champions, and was 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA. The Royals hit .233 against him. Kluber's WHIP in those games was a more-than-respectable 1.192.

In the eight games against Detroit and Kansas City, Kluber pitched 45 innings and allowed just 38 hits.

So a team's familiarity with Kluber doesn't necessarily mean that he is more vulnerable. In fact, it's the opposing hitters who might be more vulnerable, judging from the record.

Kluber was 10-5 at home with a 3.24 ERA. Opponents hit .221 against him at Progressive Field. On the road, Kluber went 8-4 with a 3.03 ERA and opponents hit .210. He gave up 22 home runs this season, 14 at home and eight on the road. Hence Kluber was maybe a tad more effective away from home than he was pitching in front of the home crowd.

Kluber also was a much better pitcher after the first two months of the season when he was 4-6. The rest of the season he went 14-3 including 8-1 the final two months with a 2.87 ERA. His only loss was a 4-3 decision against Houston on September 6.

Francona pulled Kluber after 88 pitches last night. I'm not saying that no other manager would have done that, but some non-thinkers might have kept him in the game. Kluber seems poised to pitch again Saturday night at Wrigley and certainly could be available for a Game 7.

Francona is well aware that no other available starter can approach Kluber's caliber. Take tonight's starter Trevor Bauer. Although he finished 12-8, in August and September he was 5-4 with an ERA of 5.62. In addition, the guy has been pretty awful in the first inning where he's yielded 20 earned runs in 28 innings for an ERA of 6.43. He's also been ineffective in the third inning this season with a 6.11 ERA. If Francona leaves him in until the sixth inning, which is doubtful, his ERA for that frame is a whopping 7.25.

So the Cubs need to get to Bauer early, not only tonight but down the line if Bauer gets another start. And it would behoove the North Siders to gang up on any pitcher not named Kluber in this series.

Having said all this, in the LCS Clayton Kershaw, obviously in the same class as Kluber, shut out the Cubs in Game 2 but got bounced around in Game 6. That's what makes this game so interesting.

As I said on The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #124 on Saturday, I learned from the Minnesota Twins' World Series championships that you only need two starters and a closer to get through baseball's playoffs. That's perhaps the biggest factor that makes playoff baseball different than regular season baseball - and why so many folks think the playoffs are a crapshoot that doesn't necessarily reward the season's best team. I'm still not so sure about that kind of analysis, because who's to say Cleveland isn't the best team right now, but this would be one argument to bolster the notion.

Plus:

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Bullpen Bollocks
Who do you trust in the Cubs bullpen right now? Justin Grimm and Hector Rondon stunk it up last night, and everyone except Maddon has learned you can't bring Aroldis Chapman in unless it's to start the ninth. Travis Wood has devolved to a left-handed specialist. Basically, you've got Mike Montgomery and Carl Edwards Jr., with Pedro Strop if you must.

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Top Tweets

They didn't.

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Dear White Sox fans:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:22 AM | Permalink

What I Watched Last Night: Blades Of Bad-Assery

Eventually, 24-hour news-channel coverage of Donald Trump's campaign of crash-and-burn turns into droning redundancy, so it was nice to find the History Channel in the middle of a Forged in Fire marathon all day Tuesday. I've lived a cable TV-deprived existence for a number of years, so it was refreshing to spend a few hours with a cable program not devoted to The Orange Man proclaiming every single thing under the sun "a total disaster."

Given my total lack of aptitude for anything involving tools, I'm always interested in seeing how true craftsmen end up manufacturing awesome shit out of basically nothing. If I learned anything from the three-round, $10,000 winner-take-all elimination competition between four bladesmiths that is Forged, it was this: It might take a village to raise a child, but it takes a guy with an anvil to arm the village.

The first two elimination rounds are staged in the Forged studio shop, which is equipped with all your basic hearth and forge equipment. This gives the joint all the sweaty ambience of a blast furnace, which creates perfect conditions for bladesmiths not in the greatest of health to begin with to occasionally dehydrate, pass out, or practically die from heart palpitations. Forged isn't exactly high drama, so it's a bit of a big deal when the medics get called for something that doesn't involve blood.

The series is hosted by Wil Willis, whose main job is to tick off the time remaining by yelling loudly. When he's not doing that, his job is to sound dramatic with the usual reality-show pregnant pauses that cue the next commercial for Crown Royal Vanilla, which is just all sorts of wrong.

Willis is backed by a three-judge panel consisting (at least in the first season or two) of knife and sword mastersmith J. Neilson, historical-weapons authority and swordsmith David Baker, and edged-weapons combat specialist Doug Marcaida. Basically, the trio know a good blade when they see one . . .

. . . and know how to murder the hell out of it to see if it will hold up . . .

When they're not trying to destroy someone's creation, they engage in a running commentary regarding everyone's progress, which is rather helpful to those of us who don't know shit about making an Indiana Jones sword from scratch.

Ornamentation does earn a few points on the show, but for the judges, the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is performance. Bladetestant creations are judged on balance, construction and utility. Sure, a Braveheart broadsword may indeed look like it could spit death, but having one that's light enough to swing all battle long without the blade going dull or being all bendy is what really counts when it comes to slicing, dicing, beheading and bashing in the skulls of an entire marauding horde.

Unlike competition shows like Hell's Kitchen, bladetestants on Forged tend to know what they're doing. Usually. Bending steel in your bare hands to design and build something you've just pulled out of your ass in three hours is not simple or easy, and - like anything else in manufacturing - there are plenty of ways for things to go wrong. That's the sort of train wreck that reality-contest shows love to serve up, but salvaging a roast that's a little burndy isn't quite as complicated as salvaging a hunk of metal that's gone to shit because some little thing in your manufacturing process was a bit off or dumb-ass you failed to notice you've used 24-hour epoxy on your handle instead of the instant-drying stuff.

Naturally, when you mix fire and grinders and welding torches, there are plenty of ways to grind off a finger or light yourself on fire. Consequently, the competitions can be pretty riveting when the challenge is to forge something new and bad-ass out of chainsaw parts, garden hoe, shovel, ax, ball bearings and old lawn mower blades.

As one bladetestant put it, "It doesn't have to be the best blade. It just has to be better than the your competitor's blade."

The biggest challenge comes for the last two bladetestants standing, when they're sent home to their backyard shops to create some wild-ass thing out of distant history they've usually never heard of, much less seen an example of, such as a chakram, a nasty throwing weapon invented in India. Unlike the studio-shop challenge where raw materials are provided, the two bladetestant finalists are sent home to figure out this shit on their own within five days. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure to watch them struggle - and disasters unfold - but it all seems less problematic than trying to boil a pot of risotto to please some screaming kitchen Scotsman.

Overall, the losers take losing in stride, because they recognize where they went wrong. Sometimes though, you get guys like Craig, who got a little emotional after losing the final showdown with contestant Salem on Episode 2 of Season 2. "I need about three gin-and-tonics to make the bad man in the back of my head go away."

Still, the bladetestants on Forged make me a bit envious, given the fact that Donald Trump would be spot-on if he added my tool and shop abilities to his endless list of complete disasters. Still, that doesn't stop me from imagining what kind of totally bitchin' last-minute steak knife gift sets I might come up with whenever Christmas rolled around.

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Submissions to What I Watched Last Night - and comments - welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 AM | Permalink

AT&T Spying On Americans For Profit

Telecommunications giant AT&T is spying on Americans for profit and helped law enforcement agencies investigate everything from the so-called war on drugs to Medicaid fraud - all at taxpayers' expense, according to new reporting by The Daily Beast.

The program, known as Project Hemisphere, allowed state and local agencies to conduct warrantless searches of trillions of call records and other cellular data - such as "where a target is located, with whom he speaks, and potentially why" - for a massive range of investigations, the Beast's Kenneth Lipp reports.

In one case examined by the news outlet, a sheriff's office in Victorville, California used Hemisphere to track down a homicide suspect.

Hemisphere was first revealed by the New York Times in 2013, but was described at the time as a "partnership" between AT&T and drug enforcement agencies used in counter-narcotics operations.

Neither, it turns out, is entirely true. Lipp writes:

AT&T's own documentation - reported here by The Daily Beast for the first time - shows Hemisphere was used far beyond the war on drugs to include everything from investigations of homicide to Medicaid fraud.

Hemisphere isn't a "partnership" but rather a product AT&T developed, marketed, and sold at a cost of millions of dollars per year to taxpayers. No warrant is required to make use of the company's massive trove of data, according to AT&T documents, only a promise from law enforcement to not disclose Hemisphere if an investigation using it becomes public.

The details were revealed as AT&T seeks to buy out Time Warner in a mega-merger that media watchdogs are warning would create "dangerous concentrations of political and economic power."

Evan Greer, campaign director at the digital rights group Fight for the Future, said Tuesday, "The for-profit spying program that these documents detail is more terrifying than the illegal [National Security Agency] surveillance programs that Edward Snowden exposed. Far beyond the NSA and FBI, these tools are accessible to a wide range of law enforcement officers including local police, without a warrant, as long as they pay up. It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it."

While the government can request that private companies hand over user data, the documents show that AT&T went above and beyond to make the operation profitable, Lipp writes. ACLU technology policy analyst Christopher Soghoian told the Beast, "Companies have to give this data to law enforcement upon request, if they have it. AT&T doesn't have to data-mine its database to help police come up with new numbers to investigate."

And because the contract between the telecom company and the U.S. government stipulates only that agents not speak about Hemisphere if a probe using it becomes public, investigators may be left with no choice but to create a false narrative to explain how they obtained certain evidence, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Adam Schwartz.

"This document here is striking," Schwartz told Beast. "I've seen documents produced by the government regarding Hemisphere, but this is the first time I've seen an AT&T document which requires parallel construction in a service to government. It's very troubling and not the way law enforcement should work in this country.

"At a minimum there is a very serious question whether they should be doing it without a warrant. A benefit to the parallel construction is they never have to face that crucible. Then the judge, the defendant, the general public, the media, and elected officials never know that AT&T and police across America funded by the White House are using the world's largest metadata database to surveil people."

Fight for the Future's Greer said that "Customers trusted AT&T with some of their most private information, and the company turned around and literally built a product to sell that information to as many government agencies and police departments as they could. Not only did they fail to have any safeguards to prevent unauthorized use of the data, they actually required law enforcement to keep the program secret and dig up or fabricate other evidence, to hide the fact that they'd received information from AT&T."

Fight for the Future called on AT&T to shut down the program and on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Hemisphere and reveal all the cases in which it was used.

"If companies are allowed to operate in this manner without repercussions, our democracy has no future," Greer said.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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See also:

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Previously:
* ACLU Demands Secret U.S. Court Reveal Secret U.S. Laws.

* Obama's New Era Of Secret Law.

* EFF To Court: Government Must Inform People That It's Accessing Their E-Mails, Personal Data.

* A Plea To Citizens, Websites: Fight The Expansion Of Government Powers To Break Into Users' Computers.

* NSA Today: Archives Of Spy Agency's Internal Newsletter Culled From Snowden Documents.

* U.S. Surveillance Court A Bigger Rubber Stamp Than Chicago City Council.

* Obama Won't Tell Congress How Many Innocent Americans He's Spying On.

* Ruling Unsealed: National Security Letters Upheld As Constitutional.

* EFF Sues For Secret Court Orders Requiring Tech Companies To Decrypt Users' Communications.

* Trying (And Trying) To Get Records From The 'Most Transparent Administration' Ever.

* EFF Urges Appeals Court To Allow Wikimedia And Others To Fight NSA Surveillance.

* U.S. Government Reveals Breadth Of Requests For Internet Records.

* What's The Evidence That Mass Surveillance Works? Not Much.

* Why The Close Collaboration Between The NSA And AT&T Matters.

* First Library To Support Anonymous Internet Browsing Effort Stops After DHS E-Mail.

* EFF Sues For Records About 'Hemisphere' Phone Call Collection And Drug Enforcement Program.

* Snowden Documentarian Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years Of Airport Detentions And Searches.

* Obama Secretly Expanded NSA Spying To Internet.

* Court: NSA Phone Program Illegal.

* The Chicago Connection To The Hidden Intelligence Breakdowns Behind The Mumbai Attacks.

* Human Rights Watch Sues DEA Over Bulk Collection Of American's Telephone Records.

* U.S. Secretly Tracked Billions Of Calls For Decades.

* Amnesty International Joins ACLU, Wikimedia In Lawsuit To Stop Mass Surveillance Program.

* Stop Spying On Wikipedia Users.

* EFF Wins Battle Over Secret Legal Opinions On Government Spying.

* The NSA's "U.S. Corporate Partners."

* I Fight Surveillance.

* Illegal Spying Below.

* Smith vs. Obama.

* EFF Sues NSA Over FOIA.

* Stand Against Spying.

* The NSA Revelations All In One Chart.

* U.S. Supreme Court Limits Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF To Court: There's No Doubt The Government Destroyed NSA Spying Evidence.

* House Committee Puts NSA On Notice Over Encryption Standards.

* Which Tech Companies Help Protect You From Government Data Demands?

* Lawsuit Demands DOJ Release More Secret Surveillance Court Rulings.

* Human Rights Organizations To Foreign Ministers: Stop Spying On Us.

* What The Proposed NSA Reforms Wouldn't Do.

* Technologists Turn On Obama.

* Dear Supreme Court: Set Limits On Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF Fights National Security Letter Demands On Behalf Of Telecom, Internet Company.

* Eighth-Grader Schools The NSA.

* You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi.

* Today We Fight Back.

* The Day We Fight Back.

* FAQ: The NSA's Angry Birds.

* Jon Stewart: The Old Hope-A-Dope.

* Four Blatantly False Claims Obama Has Made About NSA Surveillance.

* EFF To DOJ In Lawsuit: Stop Pretending Information Revealed About NSA Over Last Seven Months Is Still A Secret.

* Judge On NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn't Actually Support His Ruling.

* Edward Snowden's Christmas Message.

* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* 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.

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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.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

October 25, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

"People who tell small, self-serving lies are likely to progress to bigger falsehoods, and over time, the brain appears to adapt to the dishonesty, according to a new study," the New York Times reports.

"The finding, the researchers said, provides evidence for the 'slippery slope' sometimes described by wayward politicians, corrupt financiers, unfaithful spouses and others in explaining their misconduct."

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World Series Notebook 1: Bam Bam Is Back
But should he be? Plus: The Case for Jayson Heyward & Sad Cub Factor Marty.

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The Coming Corporate Tax-Break Trickery
Who will benefit from so-called "revenue neutral corporate tax-reform?" Hint: Not you.

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BeachBook

Central Illinois Soldier Killed In Afghanistan.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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"I'd love to talk about my impending indictment, but I gotta go get fitted for a wire."

*

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Game on.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:57 AM | Permalink

World Series Notebook 1: Bam Bam Is Back

I didn't think it would happen.

From The Cub Factor:

I find it hard to believe he's being seriously considered, but that's what reports say. Hey, Theo & Co. are far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far better talent evaluators than I am, and they have far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far more information than I do, but . . . really?
The guy essentially hasn't seen real pitching for a year, given that he was injured the first week of April. Now he's going to face a World Series-capable staff? Maybe he matches up well with Andrew Miller (Assignment Desk, activate!), but I doubt it, because as great a comic book hero as Schwarbs is, he was still a platoon player last year who couldn't hit lefties (.143/.213/.268).

And though he's been given surprise clearance to run as well as swing the bat, it's hard to imagine it's worth the risk to have him run with playoff intensity (apparently he's forbidden from sliding). So if he did get a hit (that was less than a home run), you'd have to pinch run for him and burn a guy on your bench. And in games at Wrigley, he'd only be available for pinch-hitting duties. So that's a roster spot that jams up virtually every way in which Joe Maddon has uses his bench, if you can even call it a bench because virtually everyone plays somehow, some way.

Then there is the question of who you would take off the roster to make room for Schwarber. The options would seem to be: Coghlan, Montero, Soler (who makes the most sense given that his role at this point is essentially to smack a pinch-hit home run) and only in the hearts of Cubs fans, Heyward. Then again, the Cubs could drop Rob Zastryzny and go back to the pitcher-position player ratio they used against the Giants. Zastryzny was put on the NLCS roster expressly to give Maddon another left-handed option against the left-handed Dodgers, and even then he didn't see any action.

The Cubs could also opt to drop Zastryzny and add back Matt Szczur or even Tommy La Stella, who would be a much safer pinch-hitting bet at this point than Schwarber.

Look, I love the idea of the Schwarber fairy tale too. I'm just kind of shocked at how seriously it's being taken. My read on the situation is that Schwarber got a surprising favorable doctor's report, he called Theo and begged to be considered, and - with nothing to lose and no reason to crush anyone's soul - they sent him to Arizona for a look-see. I could be wrong, but I don't think there's any way we see him in Cleveland.

Boy was I wrong.

Or maybe I'll be proven right!

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Dave Cameron at Fangraphs saw it the same way I did in a thorough analysis, concluding:

I hope the Cubs put him on the roster. The spectacle would be great theatre, and he would make the series more intriguing. But from a pure baseball perspective, I might leave him at home, and give those Contreras at-bats instead.

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The Tribune's David Haugh likes the move because it's "bold," which really isn't a good reason:

Activating Schwarber qualifies as a bold move, but the Cubs didn't win their first pennant in 71 years tiptoeing gingerly to the top. This would not be a regime anybody can call risk-averse. Whether trading for controversial closer Aroldis Chapman or reinstating AWOL infielder Tommy La Stella, the Cubs have been consistent letting baseball reasons rule their thinking. Schwarber is just the latest example.

Letting baseball reasons rule a front office's thinking is the opposite of bold, anyway; it's pragmatic.

Also, Haugh writes:

"The Cubs don't lose any versatility. If Schwarber requires burning a pinch-runner, so be it. That's the luxury of having so many players who play so many positions, making their roster more like a 28-man roster."

That's simply not true - none of it. The Cubs do lose versatility. It might be worth it, but a designated hitter/pinch hitter who can also play the field (and run the bases) is eminently more versatile, just by definition.

Finally, Haugh argues:

"We are talking about sacrificing the 25th man [I thought it was the 28th man!], in this case left-handed reliever Rob Zastryzny. Please avoid using the word unfair to describe how the unusual circumstances affect Zastryzny, the third lefty out of the bullpen who didn't pitch in the NLCS."

I have not heard or read anyone say the move was unfair to Zastryzny. Chances are he would have been left off the World Series roster even without Schwarber coming back.

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Even the Fangraphs dude who watched Schwarber in his two Arizona Fall League games seemed half-hearted in his endorsement of adding him back to the team:

"[W]hile I can't deny the way Schwarber is running the bases is slightly disconcerting, I think there's enough juice in the bat right now to justify rostering him over either Chris Coghlan or Jorge Soler . . . Rostering him doesn't seem crazy to me."

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The best case for Schwarber is simply this, which Haugh does also say: If he gets that one big hit, it could be worth it. And Cleveland will have to account for him. The Cubs braintrust obviously thought that was enough, and they haven't turned stupid overnight. Maybe we'll learn more about the internal discussions after the season.

Wayward Heyward
Also at Fangraphs, Craig Edwards makes a (surprisingly) persuasive case that Cubs manager Joe Maddon should keep sending Jason Heyward out to right field.

"Would you believe me if I told you Jason Heyward's play hasn't cost the Cubs anything this postseason?" Edwards asks, knowing our answer. Here's his answer:

"In the games during which he's been benched, Heyward's replacements, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, have combined for an overall 0-for-17 mark with two walks, a sac bunt, and one double play (including all PA from Soler and Amora).

"Heyward hasn't had too many big opportunities in the field, but his 90-mph throw to nab Adrian Gonzalez at the plate in Game One of the NLCS was an important moment in that contest.

"And for as poor as Heyward's been offensively, he's at least been timely: two of his four hits have been of the leadoff, extra-base variety in one-run ballgames, so his WPA in the playoffs is actually the same as Ben Zobrist's (at -0.32) and not too far off of Dexter Fowler's -0.15 - to say nothing of the defensive plays not counted in WPA.

"Of course, looking at the past 10 games and counting a couple timely hits as worth more due to sequencing is a very poor way to make future decisions. If the Cubs knew in advance Heyward would hit that poorly in the first two rounds, they likely wouldn't have played him."

Three Strikes
* SECCountry: Chicago Cubs Edge Cleveland Indians In SEC Representation for World Series.

* NCAA: Chicago Cubs Players' College Baseball Careers.

* Al.com: David Ross Puts Auburn Back In The World Series.

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Marty's Final Pre-World Series Hate List

martylistfinal.jpg(Enlarge)

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Some readers are wondering where Marty is, seeing as I've handled Cub Factor duties the last two weeks. Well, Marty is on a years-in-the-planning family vacation to Disney World. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, it's too perfect!

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Saddest e-mail ever:

I should see every game based on the story times

Sent from my iPhone

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Maybe next year the Cubs can have Marty throw out the first ball.

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Cubs Retweet

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 AM | Permalink

Watch Out For The Coming Corporate Tax-Break Trickery

One of the biggest fights coming up in the newly elected Congress next year will be "corporate tax reform."

If you follow policy news you've been hearing that Congress wants to "reform" corporate taxes (again). When you hear talk of "reform" from our corporate-captured Congress it means you need to run as fast as you can - and organize. The way they use the word, it always means give them more and We, the People get less.

Schumer Talking About Massive Break On Taxes Corporations Already Owe

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) might be Senate Majority Leader after the election. In a CNBC interview last week he said he is hoping to work with Republican House Speaker Paul "Gut the Government" Ryan on "some kind of international tax reform tied to a large infrastructure program." In the interview Schumer said:

If you can get overseas money to come back here, even if it's at a lower rate than the 35 it now comes back at, and you can use that money for a major constructive purpose such as infrastructure, if you did an infrastructure bank, for instance, you could get $100 billion in equity in the bank and get a trillion dollars of infrastructure.

When Schumer says "at a lower rate" he is talking about a "tax holiday" allowing corporations to pay less than the 35% tax rate they owe (minus deductions for taxes already paid overseas) on some $2.5 trillion of profits they have stashed in "overseas" tax havens. These corporations owe around $720 billion or so on those profits. So rewarding them for tax dodging with a lower tax rate means handing them up to hundreds of billions of dollars that the country needs for schools, health care and yes, infrastructure repair.

These tax-dodging, multinational corporations used schemes and tax havens to dodge paying taxes they owe. Meanwhile other corporations - usually smaller, domestic companies - paid their taxes. This gave the multinational corporations an advantage over the honest, domestic companies.

So why should Congress reward tax-dodging, multinational corporations by letting them keep some of the taxes they dodged, thereby punishing the domestic corporations that did the right thing for the country? See if you can guess why. (Hint: the tax-dodging corporations have "captured" Congress using a portion of that money.)

Revenue Neutral?

The corporations are also trying to sell "tax reform." This "reform" is really just another huge corporate tax cut that is explained as a "revenue neutral" deal to "cut corporate tax loopholes" and use the resulting revenue to cut the corporate tax rate. The term "revenue neutral" means the tax revenue coming to the government stays the same. "Revenue neutral" sounds like a good deal but in reality it's just a trick. It means taxes go up for some companies but way, way down for others. Guess which companies lose out. (Hint: it won't be the giant multinational corporations that have captured Congress.)

The top corporate tax rate used to be 52 percent. Under Reagan it was 46 percent. Then Congress "reformed" taxes and dropped the rate to 35 percent. Corporations used to shoulder 32 percent of the total tax burden. It has fallen to only 10 percent of the burden. That is a drop of two-thirds. See if you can guess who pays that two-thirds difference. (Hint: it isn't corporations or their wealthy owners. It is cuts to schools, infrastructure, health care and all the things that used to make our lives better. This is one part of the economic squeeze everyone feels.)

On top of that they are also trying to sell a scheme that lets them off the hook for profits made outside of the country. See if you can guess how fast every corporation moves its profit centers and production out of the country if that passes. (Hint: every single corporation will move every job, factory, profit center, etc. out of the country if that passes.)

What Budget Deficit And Debt?

Our country has a budget deficit and a large debt caused by tax cuts and wars. The current hysteria over deficits is driven by corporate-and-billionaire-funded PR "think tanks" that pump out propaganda and hysteria 24/7/4/12. Can you guess what 24/7/4/12 means? (Hint: 24 hours, 7 days, 4 weeks, 12 months of the year.)

With a budget deficit and a large debt the fact is that a "revenue neutral" tax reform for corporations who have already had their tax rates cut and cut and cut is the very last thing the country needs to do. What we need to do instead is close that loophole that lets giant, multinational corporations hide $2.5 trillion in profits in "overseas" tax shelters, and make them pay the $720 billion or so of taxes they owe now, plus the $90-100 billion or so of taxes they will dodge every year after. Period.

Revenue neutral, schmeutral. Just make these giant, tax-dodging, multinational corporations pay what they owe. Don't reward them for tax-dodging. And restore the 52% corporate tax rate instead of cutting it even further.

P.S:. Take a look at this Fact Sheet: Corporate Tax Rates from Americans for Tax Fairness.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Dave Johnson is a contributing blogger for the Campaign for America's Future.

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Previously in Tax Scammage:
* Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes With $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall.

* Offshoring By 29 Companies Costs Illinois $1.2 Billion Annually.

* Government Agencies Allow Corporations To Write Off Billions In Federal Settlements.

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* How The Maker Of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing.

* $1.4 Trillion: Oxfam Exposes The Great Offshore Tax Scam Of U.S. Companies.

* How Barclay's Turned A $10 Billion Profit Into A Tax Loss.

* Wall Street Stock Loans Drain $1 Billion A Year From German Taxpayers.

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

* A Schlupfloch Here, A Schlupfloch There. Now It's Real Money.

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

* Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

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Previously in the Panama Papers:
* The Panama Papers: Remarkable Global Media Collaboration Cracks Walls Of Offshore Tax Haven Secrecy.

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

* Mossack Fonseca's Oligarchs, Dictators And Corrupt White-Collar Businessmen.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! They're All In It Together.

* Meet The Panama Papers Editor Who Handled 376 Reporters In 80 Countries.

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Previously in the carried interest loophole:

* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:15 AM | Permalink

October 24, 2016

The [Monday] Papers

"Aldermen can no longer take advantage of the Chicago Cubs' offer to buy playoff tickets at face value, city ethics officials ruled Friday," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"The offer constitutes a 'prohibited gift' under the city's ethics rules because the tickets are available to the public at a much higher price, according to the revised policy issued Friday by William Conlon, chairman of the Chicago Board of Ethics."

It's not just the reduced cost that is the issue - it's the availability of a ticket without going through normal channels in the first place.

But the ever keen-eyed Tim Willette spotted something in this article even more interesting to our eyes:

The new policy would only allow aldermen to buy the tickets at face value if they performed a "ceremonial duty" such as throwing out the first pitch, marching onto the field with other officials or making a speech.

Asks Tim:

Do first-pitch throwers ordinarily have to buy a ticket if they want to watch the game? What about the national anthem singer? I kind of assumed they got to stick around gratis.

Really! You get invited to throw out the first pitch but you gotta buy your own ticket?! C'mon, Cubs!

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The Cubs this morning withdrew their offer to public officials, by the way.

So far, though, team spokesman Julian Green has declined to comment, saying that the team is focused on winning the series.

Right - you wouldn't want to distract Jon Lester as he prepares to pitch in Game 1 on Tuesday night. Do the Cubs make the players work in the ticket office too?

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Judging by the quotes in this morning's article, I know one alderman who was planning to accept the Cubs' generous offer and now won't be attending the World Series.

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"Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) accused the Board of Ethics of forcing the issue with a pair of rulings, one more stringent than the next after rookie Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) publicly condemned the offer as a conflict of interest," the Sun-Times reports.

"I went to every home game when the White Sox went to the World Series. Paid face value for the tickets and there was not a problem.

Well, it wasn't a problem for you! But some unlucky fan out there was, um, out of luck because you got to jump the line - and at face value. That's a rather expensive gift, given how much tickets are going for.

"'And now, we let one aldermen make a comment that this isn't fair who's not even a sports fan,' Beale said angrily."

Well, Mr. Beale, you're the chairman of the transportation committee and you don't know anything about transportation, so consider it even.

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FYI:

"Beale on August 24, 2009 became the second alderman to concede his daughter was admitted (in 2004) to an elite free public college prep high school, Whitney Young High School, after he called principal Joyce Kenner."

Well, he's a fan, so it's okay.

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Special Edition Beachwood Photo Booth
By Helene Smith.

wrigley2016.jpg(ENLARGE)

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The Cub Factor: All-Star Curse
A Kansas City Royal hit a home run in a pretend game three months ago to spoil the Cubs' storybook ending.

Coffman's Curse
"I'm one of the guys who the camera lingered on the next night when we all knew the team was going down again."

Cubsageddon TV
Cultures collide.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: ONO, Telecult Powers, Chook Race, Green Day, Phantogram, The Interrupters, Brother StarRace, BrandX, Skeletonwitch, Oathbreaker, Earthmover, Organsm, Post Malone, Malaa X Rezz, VNV Nation, Tegan and Sara, Soft Speaker, Los Temerarios, Mason Jennings, Davy Knowles, Sum 41, As It Is, Mana, The Split Squad, Beans on Toast, Will Varley, Oceano, Supernatural Beings, and Boss' Daughter.

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Chicagoetry: Down The South Branch Of My Mind
Where things open up a little.

TrackNotes: Woof
Dog days, a cat and the Breeders' Cup.

Garbage Wars
The Chicago politics of waste management.

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BeachBook

Artist Re-Creates Civil Rights Icon In Minnesota Field.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Dear Chicago newspapers: Respect 90.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Tronc woo line woo.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:44 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. ONO at DADS on Saturday night.

I dream of . . . Andrew Jackson.

2. Telecult Powers at DADS on Saturday night.

Fast luck.

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3. Chook Race at Bric a Brac on Thursday night.

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4. Green Day at the Aragon on Sunday night.

Gendron: "The purpose owed not to assuming self-righteous power but defeating oppressive authorities, racist and sexist policies and dead-end futures."

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5. Phantogram at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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6. The Interrupters at 1st Ward on Friday night.

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7. Brother StarRace at the Vic on Friday night.

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8. Brand X at Reggies on Saturday night.

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9. Skeletonwitch at Subterranean on Saturday night.

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10. Oathbreaker at Subterranean on Saturday night.

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11. Earthmover at Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.

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12. Organsm at DADS on Saturday night.

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13. Post Malone at the Concord on Friday night.

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14. Rezz at the Concord on Saturday night.

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15. VNV Nation at the Metro on Sunday night.

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16. Tegan and Sara at the Riv on Friday night.

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17. Soft Speaker at Quenchers on Saturday night.

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18. Los Temerarios at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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19. Mason Jennings at SPACE in Evanston on Saturday night.

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20. Davy Knowles at SPACE in Evanston on Friday night.

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21. Sum 41 at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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22. As It Is at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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23. Mana in Rosemont on Friday night.

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Catching up with . . .

The Split Squad at Schuba's on October 6th.

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Beans on Toast at Beat Kitchen on October 8th.

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Will Varley at Beat Kitchen on October 8th.

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Oceano at House of Blues on October 9th.

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Supernatural Beings at the Emporium on October 13th.

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Boss' Daughter at Liar's Club on October 18th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:49 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Prelude To A Cubs World Series

The worst was 1984. The 2003 NLCS sucked as well but '84 was the ultimate crusher. And that was despite the fact I never got anywhere near the action.

I will say this about the Cubs' loss to the San Diego Padres in the "first-to-three" National League Championship Series that year: at least it was available on free TV. (Why do we say "best-of-five or best-of-seven" when these series often go less than five or seven games? It is past time to switch to first-to-three or first-to-four.")

In 2016, the league championship series' aren't just on cable, they are on obscure cable. It's as though someone said, "Let's see if these fans are really fanatic and can find the games even if we put them on networks that most sports bars can't even find!"

Turner Broadcasting, which televised the ALCS, was an early cable pioneer, of course. But they are about 27th on the channel surfing fan's list of Most Likely To Televise A Playoff Game stations. And Fox Sports 1? I think I watched a soccer game there once.

Anyway, I know college students these days are streaming whatever programming they need whenever. but back in 1984 I was going to college outside of Philadelphia and I needed the games on networks I could access easily. And that was provided.

The Cubs romped to a 2-0 lead over the bad-ridiculous yellow-and-brown Padres and North Side fans were certain their team was going to charge into the World Series against the powerful and hugely successful (they had started the season 35-5) Detroit Tigers.

Except it didn't happen. The Padres posted one unlikely victory after another, including an awfully memorable Game 4 2-run walkoff homer by Steve Garvey in the bottom of the ninth against the Cubs' dominant closer, Lee Smith.

At that point in my life as a Chicago sports fan, I had never experienced a championship in any sport. The Bears had last won in '63, before I was born, the Hawks' drought went back to '61, and the Sox to '59. (I know they didn't win the Series that year but at least the Sox won the pennant and turned on the air raid sirens). I think you know how long it had been since the Cubs had been in the World Series.

In the aftermath of the '84 loss, I was bereft. Fortunately, a certain football team was soon rising and while it didn't do the job that year, the next one broke the championship drought. And Chicago's overall sports inferiority was forever obliterated by Michael Jordan and friends in the 1990s.

In 2003, I was living in Chicago and was able to attend a couple Cubs-Marlins matchups. I wasn't there for the Gonzalez Game but I took in Game 7 from my customary spot in the upper deck reserved. Don't believe me? I'm in the documentary Catching Hell about that fan who tipped a fly ball that Moises Alou probably wouldn't have caught in Game 6. What was his name again?

I'm not one of the guys screaming obscenities at that fan or throwing drinks at him. Like I said, I wasn't there until Game 7. I'm one of the guys who the camera lingered on the next night when we all knew the team was going down again.

A few thoughts on the NLCS before finishing the transition to the glorious World Series ahead: The Cubs just overwhelmed that sucker didn't they? They didn't just win, they posted three straight dominant victories to put it away magnificently. Top to bottom, inside and out, what a baseball team!

And finally, why in the world did the guys who selected the NLCS MVP force Javy Baez to share it with Jon Lester? Baez played great in all six of the series' games. The left-handed ace pitched well in two - but he was barely even the team's best starter. He tossed 13 innings, giving up two earned runs overall. Kyle Hendricks threw 12.2 innings and gave up one. Both pitchers were credited with a single victory. Hello?

If Baez had just been the Cubs' best hitter, sharing the award would have made some sense. But he was their best defender as well. Don't tell the young man (we need him to continue to be the carefree spirit who has infused this postseason with so much awesomeness) but he got jobbed.

One thing we can say to the most compelling figure in Chicago sports in multiple ways: Don't worry, Javy; just because the dimwits who voted on the MVP don't realize the extent of your wondrous ridiculousness doesn't mean the people who are paying attention don't.

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

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1. From Tim Willette:

What about the Sting! Their victory in 1981 was the first for Gen-X and somewhat known, but it's almost entirely forgotten that they won again in '84 literally in the middle of the Cubs-Padres series. (It didn't help that the '84 game wasn't on broadcast TV so practically no one saw it, including me.)

Coffman replies: I was an Arno Steffenhagen fan (best Chicago sports facial hair ever - better even than the best Hawks' playoff beards in the championship years the last decade)! and Franz Mathieu and of course the glamour guys, Pato Margetic and Karl-Heinz Granitza. I even attended the last game of the three-game semifinal series that year at Comiskey Park that the Sting won to make it to the Soccer Bowl. It didn't feel as big to me as the teams competing in the big four sports but hell, there were more than 39,000 fans at the game I went to so maybe I'm wrong.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:59 AM | Permalink

All-Star Curse

The seemingly perfect storybook ending that Cubs fans are waiting for is unlikely to occur. Why? This:

The storybook ending, of course, would be, say, Kyle Schwarber with the pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth at Wrigley Field in Game 7. But, really, any kind of World Series-ending win in Game 7 at Wrigley Field. Or even Game 6.

But no.

Because of the stupidest rule in the history of sports, Cleveland has the home-field advantage and Games 1, 2, 6 and 7.

There is only one way for the Cubs to obviate this monstrosity: Win it in four or five games.

That's a tall order, but it's the order we have to play.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs won three of five to pair with their Game 1 win to conquer the Dodgers and move on to the World Series. No big whoop.

The Week in Preview: Two in Cleveland, then a weekend set at Wrigley. Let's end it there, please.

Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. In fact, Szczur isn't even on the roster for this series, giving way to the relatively surging Albert Almora.

You know who the Cubs' most stalwart corner outfielder is? Ben Zobrist. Zoby has started all 10 of the Cubs' 2016 playoff games - nine in left, one in right. He's also played some second base.

Fellow big-dollar free agent Jason Heyward, on the other hand, has been benched in each of the Cubs' first two series. Against the Dodgers, he got three starts in right. Fans can't be dismissed for hoping he doesn't get another at-bat until he fixes his swing over the winter and comes back anew in spring.

Jorge Soler has been all but disappeared, with just one start (in right) and one pinch-hit appearance in the Dodgers series. Now that (relatively, for baseball) cold weather is here, we might not see him again.

Same story for Chris Coghlan, minus the cold-weather caveat.

Almora, mostly because of his defense and (relative) speed, is seeing more playing time, getting three pinch-hit opportunities against the Dodgers, and playing in both right and left field.

I didn't track Willy Contreras; I'm not sure he's seen the outfield during the playoffs, nor should we expect him to, especially given that he's a likely DH in games played in Cleveland.

Likely, that is, if Kyle Schwarber isn't on the World Series roster. I find it hard to believe he's being seriously considered, but that's what reports say. Hey, Theo & Co. are far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far better talent evaluators than I am, and they have far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far more information than I do, but . . . really?

The guy essentially hasn't seen real pitching for a year, given that he was injured the first week of April. Now he's going to face a World Series-capable staff? Maybe he matches up well with Andrew Miller (Assignment Desk, activate!), but I doubt it, because as great a comic book hero as Schwarbs is, he was still a platoon player last year who couldn't hit lefties (.143/.213/.268).

And though he's been given surprise clearance to run as well as swing the bat, it's hard to imagine it's worth the risk to have him run with playoff intensity (apparently he's forbidden from sliding). So if he did get a hit (that was less than a home run), you'd have to pinch run for him and burn a guy on your bench. And in games at Wrigley, he'd only be available for pinch-hitting duties. So that's a roster spot that jams up virtually every way in which Joe Maddon has uses his bench, if you can even call it a bench because virtually everyone plays somehow, some way.

Then there is the question of who you would take off the roster to make room for Schwarber. The options would seem to be: Coghlan, Montero, Soler (who makes the most sense given that his role at this point is essentially to smack a pinch-hit home run) and only in the hearts of Cubs fans, Heyward. Then again, the Cubs could drop Rob Zastryzny and go back to the pitcher-position player ratio they used against the Giants. Zastryzny was put on the NLCS roster expressly to give Maddon another left-handed option against the left-handed Dodgers, and even then he didn't see any action.

The Cubs could also opt to drop Zastryzny and add back Matt Szczur or even Tommy La Stella, who would be a much safer pinch-hitting bet at this point than Schwarber.

Look, I love the idea of the Schwarber fairy tale too. I'm just kind of shocked at how seriously it's being taken. My read on the situation is that Schwarber got a surprising favorable doctor's report, he called Theo and begged to be considered, and - with nothing to lose and no reason to crush anyone's soul - they sent him to Arizona for a look-see. I could be wrong, but I don't think there's any way we see him in Cleveland.

Annoying Former Cub of the Week: It's definitely not Chico "Who?" Walker! Let's give to now-Dodgers broadcaster Rick Monday, who is annoying on two levels.

Annoying Current Cub of the Week: Bullpen catcher Chad Noble.

Mad(don) Scientist: Poppa Joe faces his biggest challenge yet, as it should be. First, he has to manage a bullpen with increasingly shaky choices - and a closer who absolutely should never pitch before the ninth, despite Joe's insistence that he do so. Second, he faces a bullpen with the indomitable Andrew Miller, who would have been a Cub instead of Chapman if Theo had been willing to send Schwarber to the Yankees. Got to get to Cleveland's starters early, which fortunately should be doable as their rotation is probably the least scary we've seen yet in these playoffs. Third, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey are only good for about four mediocre innings each at this point; expect to see Mike Montgomery early in their games. Fourth, the Heyward millstone. Joe says he writes "Don't manage like a fan" on his scorecard before every game. In this instance, you might want to manage like a fan. This is no time to spare feelings. Finally, having dispatched with Bruce Bochy, Maddon now faces the other manager in the elite triumvirate along with his own self, Terry Francona. Game on.

Kubs Kalendar: The first 45,000 fans wealthy enough to attend Games 3, 4 and (if necessary) 5 at Wrigley will get the time of their life. The rest of us who have put in the time can suck it.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that win or lose, we ain't seen nothing yet.

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This is The Cub Factor. We welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:46 AM | Permalink

Cubsageddon TV

Cultures collide.


*

Comicgeddon: Where All of Geek Culture Collides! comic books, video games, movies, tv shows, toys, conventions, etc.

Hosted by Shannon Cornthwaite and John Wise
other cast members include but are not limited to:
Amber, Jeff, Dylan, Mike, Marissa, Hailey and Billy.

Directed and Produced by S.M. Cornthwaite
A Dutch Oven Production

Filmed at Geeking Out Comics
2924 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Decatur, IL.

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Comicgeddon TV trailer:

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Comicgeddon on Facebook.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

Why Companies Like Wells Fargo Ignore Whistleblowers

Enron. WorldCom. Madoff. The mortgage meltdown. Now Wells Fargo.

High-profile corporate frauds like these all seem to follow the same pattern. First the misconduct is discovered, and then we learn about all of the whistleblowers who tried to stop the fraud much earlier. Congress then tries to enhance whistleblower protections, with varying degrees of success.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed in 2002 after the Enron and Worlcom scandals, was supposed to protect whistleblowers who uncovered accounting frauds, but judges have typically rejected their retaliation claims. The Dodd-Frank Act, approved in 2010, provides financial rewards for certain whistleblowers. Its success is still unclear.

While these laws may protect employees who expose wrongdoing from retaliation and encourage more to do the same, nothing requires employers to take their disclosures seriously. And as we saw with the latest scandal involving Wells Fargo, several former employees say they tried to get the company's attention in 2005, and again in 2006, to no avail.

Their ineffectiveness is hardly unique. The 2011 National Business Ethics Survey found that 40 percent of employees who reported misconduct believed that their report had not been investigated. When an investigation did take place, over half thought the process was unfair.

So why don't companies make better use of the information they get from their whistleblowers - especially when ignoring them could expose their company to millions or even billions in liability and permanently tarnish their brand?

Who Looks The Part

For a start, real whistleblowers don't always match our mental image.

Our idealized image of whistleblowers isn't doing us any favors. We assume that whistleblowing will come from top employees. But when the company already has a poor ethics culture, those top employees may very well be the ones engaged in the misconduct.

Instead, as I described in a previous research paper, important information might originate from employees who don't fit in or are labeled as complainers or poor performers.

In other words, we expect the true whistleblower to be Ryan Gosling's suave character in The Big Short, while ignoring the angry insights from Steve Carrell, on account of his bad haircut and terrible social skills.

To take whistleblowers seriously, we need to set aside our judgements about them and their motives and focus instead on the message they convey. In the words of negotiation gurus Roger Fisher and Bill Ury, "separate the people from the problem."

Where There's Smoke, Is There Fire?

A second problem with whistleblowing is that we tend to assume it's not an emergency if other people don't think so.

There is a principle in social psychology known as the "bystander effect," which essentially means that people defer to others on how to interpret ambiguous situations and dread the idea of overreacting to a situation and later being embarrassed. It also means that when you observe others doing nothing in response to an apparent risk, you're more likely to do the same.

In a famous experiment, researchers observed how people reacted to a room filling with smoke, contrasting the behavior of those who were alone to those accompanied by others who were instructed in advance to appear indifferent to the smoke. Of those who were alone, 75 percent reported the smoke to the experimenter. By contrast, only 10 percent of the subjects sitting with the passive seatmates reported the smoke.

The same may be true of whistleblowing. The fact that "everyone knows" about a particular type of misconduct may actually make people less likely to report it. In addition, when a particular type of misconduct becomes prevalent, those investigating may discount the severity of conduct they see frequently and thereby fail to realize that it has reached a crisis level.

How Whistleblowing Is Like An Iceberg

Another problem is that whistleblowers may not know which information is most important.

image-20161023-15950-509mx9.jpgABA Corporate Compliance Officer Deskbook (forthcoming)/Author provided

Whistleblowers, especially those uncovering substantial misconduct, only have one piece of what might be a much larger puzzle. They also aren't lawyers, so they don't know whether a piece of information is legally important. They only know that the situation feels wrong. Consequently, the important nugget of information might be buried within a lot of irrelevant information.

The 2006 letter from a Wells Fargo whistleblower - who disclosed that other employees were opening fake accounts - is a good example of this problem. The first page of the letter contains generic complaints about unfair treatment and possibly age discrimination. The second page then talks about how salespeople "gamed" the system to inflate their sales numbers - but apparently with the assistance and consent of the customer involved. Sandwiched between these (somewhat) benign accusations is a story about how a customer complained that accounts were opened without his knowledge or consent.

Wells Fargo apparently ignored the report, to its peril and the detriment of millions of customers. The person reading the letter may have started out feeling suspicious of the whistleblower, confirmed that suspicion based on the first page of the letter and then completely missed the important information on the second page. Like this illusion, once the reader forms an initial impression (e.g., that the image features a duck), they became blind to additional data that contradicts the impression (the image could also be a rabbit).

image-20161023-15944-kx09wb.jpg

The idea that we "see what we want to see" is not mere conjecture. One study found that people literally saw what they wanted to see in a drawing, perceiving an ambiguous drawing as a "B" or the number "13" depending upon which interpretation led to a more favorable result for themselves in the experiment.

Challenges Investigating Complaints

And a final problem: Explosive complaints are as rare as explosive luggage.

Publicly traded companies like Wells Fargo are required under Sarbanes-Oxley to have a process for receiving and responding to anonymous whistleblower complaints. Wells Fargo, like many other companies, had a whistleblower hotline. Why didn't those folks - whose job it was to investigate complaints - uncover the misconduct early enough to stop it?

Investigating corporate complaints is a lot like being a Transportation Security Administration agent. Most of the complaints they are sorting through will be regular luggage, with a few unauthorized bottles of liquid here and there. Take the problem of reading that 2006 letter and multiply it by 100 or 1,000 letters, almost all of which describe an isolated problem or conduct that isn't illegal. You don't get much practice at the most important part of your job (identifying explosives) when it virtually never happens.

Like TSA agents, investigators also have the challenge of identifying a new form of misconduct that doesn't match the mental models of prior bad acts. In other words, Wells Fargo may have been most worried about mortgage fraud when they should have spent more time investigating fraud in retail banking.

Great investigators are like the guys from American Pickers. They meet the owners, listen to their story, go through the stuff themselves and then make judgements about what to pursue based on their independent judgement and experience. They're also open to finding the "best" stuff in unexpected places.

Lastly, great investigators keep an eye out for patterns, noticing when seemingly isolated incidents may indicate a larger problem.

An Invaluable Asset

Managers and corporate officers responding to complaints need to shed their preconceptions about whistleblowers and instead invest in the information they receive.

Rather than grumbling about the cost of dealing with them, companies should view their information as a valuable corporate asset. Preventative investments like training managers on responding to whistleblowers, maintaining a hotline and hiring investigators and compliance officers to follow their leads ultimately serve a company's long-term interests.

If the Wells Fargo scandal proves anything, it is that a 164-year-old brand can be tarnished overnight. A whistleblower - however flawed she may be - may be the last person standing between a company and the loss of its reputation.

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Elizabeth C. Tippett is an assistant professor in the School of Law at the University of Oregon. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Previously:
* Meant To Muzzle: Corporate Whistleblower Settlements Could Violate SEC Rules.

* Should Wells Fargo Execs Responsible For Bilking Customers Be Forced To Return Their Pay? (Hint: Yes).

* In Wells Fargo Case, News Really Did Happen To An Editor.

* The Pathogens Of Wells Fargo's Corruption Fester In Every Large Corporation.

* Voices From Wells Fargo: 'I Thought I Was Having A Heart Attack.'

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See also:
* What Have Whistleblowers Done For Elite Journalists Lately?

* The Whistleblower System Referred To By Clinton Is A Colossal Joke.

* Item No. 4: "Obama took office pledging tolerance and even support for whistleblowers, but instead is prosecuting them with a zeal that's historically unprecedented."

* The Obama Administration's Disturbing Treatment Of Whistleblowers.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

The author is naive in supposing that corporate executives desire to run a tight ethical ship but dismiss whistleblowers merely because they are often odd and/or cranky. To the contrary, practices whistleblowers seek to bring to light are rarely unknown by management, but instituted by them, and the last thing they want is for some scold to drop a turd in the punch bowl.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:36 AM | Permalink

Garbage Wars

"In Garbage Wars, the sociologist David Pellow describes the politics of garbage in Chicago."


*

From the publisher:

"[Pellow] shows how garbage affects residents in vulnerable communities and poses health risks to those who dispose of it. He follows the trash, the pollution, the hazards, and the people who encountered them in the period 1880-2000. What unfolds is a tug of war among social movements, government, and industry over how we manage our waste, who benefits, and who pays the costs.

"Studies demonstrate that minority and low-income communities bear a disproportionate burden of environmental hazards. Pellow analyzes how and why environmental inequalities are created. He also explains how class and racial politics have influenced the waste industry throughout the history of Chicago and the United States. After examining the roles of social movements and workers in defining, resisting, and shaping garbage disposal in the United States, he concludes that some environmental groups and people of color have actually contributed to environmental inequality.

"By highlighting conflicts over waste dumping, incineration, landfills, and recycling, Pellow provides a historical view of the garbage industry throughout the life cycle of waste. Although his focus is on Chicago, he places the trends and conflicts in a broader context, describing how communities throughout the United States have resisted the waste industry's efforts to locate hazardous facilities in their backyards. The book closes with suggestions for how communities can work more effectively for environmental justice and safe, sustainable waste management."

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Also from the author: The Slums of Aspen.

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From the Reader, 2001:

"'Our account of recycling differs substantially from popular views of recycling as an activity generated by the goodwill of people who are trying to do something beneficial for society,' Schnaiberg and his coauthors, Adam Weinberg and David Pellow, warn in their book Urban Recycling and the Search for Sustainable Community Development.

"'Recycling has become a commodity-based, profit-driven competitive industry in which large private firms using public dollars are squeezing the life out of smaller nonprofit and family-owned recyclers. Some programs achieve modest economic gains but distribute them primarily to the private sector. Ecological gains are modest.' When the authors start talking like that about the most popular environmental cause ever, you know the story won't have a happy ending."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:08 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Down The South Branch Of The Mind

Down the South Branch of the Mind

Like anyone else
In a committed relationship,
Whenever I am offered a stark life-choice

With deep ramifications
I insist on being given time
To talk it over

With my mind.

We've been together
A long time, after all,

And life-changing decisions
Are not to be taken
Without mutual consultation.

We like to take time
Down the south branch,
Where things open up a little,

Away from main branch busy-ness

And north branch condos,
Past River City,
Down by the old Pullman Palace Cars

And those memories

Of brain travel's Glory Days,
Where the natural prairie grasses
Overtake the abandoned rails,

Past the Bascule style (center up)
Drawbridges to their clumsy, antique precursors
(Improbable contraptions, like

Any persona, all webbed steel
And reinforced concrete),
Toward Ping Tom Park

And eternal imagination: Chinatown.

We accept the cost/benefits
Of a long-term commitment;
It's not always easy.

It takes patience, empathy, flexibility,
Respect and perhaps most importantly,
Communication.

If the initial romantic excitement
Has waned somewhat,
We endeavor to nourish

An enduring friendship:
We flourish,

Sharing goals, values,
Even dreams. We're here
For each other.

We linger in the quiet channel
And often come to terms
Well before Bubbly Creek.

Down the south branch
We can breathe a bit,
Really listen to each other

And gird for the return
To the clutter and clatter
Of main branch bustle

Renewed, restored,
Strengthened in our bond,
Recommitted to our partnership.

My hope is that
When we leave this earth
We leave together, or nearly so.

Actually
I hope I go
First.

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J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:00 AM | Permalink

October 23, 2016

TrackNotes: Woof

Ordinarily, these would be the dog days of Chicago sports.

It always happens at least twice a year. Now, and again in February.

Sometimes, our local dogs are such hounds, these days last from February through February.

The biggest offenders are the Chicago Bears, who are nothing more every year than the same old 1950 flathead four chassis and drivetrain - still recovering from the war, you know - with a new hood ornament and the revolutionary addition of cupholders, only because the league ordered them to add them to the list of options. It's the Bears' only acknowledgement that we are in a new-but-getting-older century. John Fox represents the ashtrays and cigarette lighters we miss so much.

Like the North Siders clinching early, my under 7.5 on the Bears season is making me so confident even the scary clowns had better stay out of my way this Hallowed Eve.

And Arlington Park tears our guts out every summer, the sharp PolyTrack knives of six or eight races three or four days a week cutting us all the way from Kentucky Derby weekend to beyond Labor Day. Folks up at the palatial suburban oval have tortured us, or at least me, into such submission; there's no will left to even pull out the summer finery and make a day of it.

Ah, but this year, we have the Cubs. It's been fun, and getting funner, but you'll have to scroll up or down the rail to catch the real Beachwood experts on the boys in blue.

The other shops don't give a damn, but we do. So it's time for a little reminder: Just two days after the Cubs' tango out of the seven-song dance card early next month - I ain't got no goat, ain't got no disco, but I'm of the age we don't talk about such things out loud or by name - the Conestogas land in Arcadia, Calif., home of beautiful Santa Anita, for the 2016 Breeders' Cup Championships.

Is America the land of sporting opportunity? Apollo thinks so, and I won't argue with the heavyweight champion of the world. From this zip code, seems right. It's been a great year, human and equine, and it's not over yet.

Just like all the other young hopefuls disembarking in Hollywoodland, hoping to break into the biz, workouts are happening, plane reservations are being made, stalls are being assigned, scripts being greenlighted.

And, lo and behold, the three classic winners from the Triple Crown trail are confusing, retired, and retired. That is a head-slapping turn of events. This might be the most lucid example of racing's challenges when it comes to sustaining itself, not unlike trying to find a good tomato for your Super Bowl salsa.

Remember, we're not losing a Secretariat to the business, like we did in 1973, dontcha know, but it's at least perplexing.

Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, is working well, but they almost always do. After eight straight including the Derby, Nyquist ran into Exaggerator and his mud in the Preakness and the Haskell. He finished a mediocre sixth last out in the Pennsylvania Derby. Which Nyquist, who is HQ'd at Santa Anita, will show up?

Preakness winner Exaggerator has been retired to stud.

WinStar Farm president Elliott Walden spoke out of both sides. "He is a sound horse that passes all physical exams, but as the only 3-year-old to test all the Triple Crown races and summer classics, he's a horse that is asking us for a rest. The fact he remains sound after 15 big-time starts in the last 16 months is a testament to his ability, consistency, fortitude, and class. He is an extreme racehorse - a tough, durable throwback to the old days, like Curlin."

Then why not run him in the Breeders' Cup, or not, pasture him out and bring him back next year? And call Skilling, because he needs mud, baby.

Grandson of Smart Strike and son of the great Curlin, out of the Vindication mare Dawn Raid, Exaggerator certainly has the pedigree to succeed. The only horse to run in all three Triple Crown races this year, he also won the Santa Anita Derby and the Haskell Invitational, all in the sloppy mud he craves so much.

If there was a deal to be made, this was the time, because how would he have done in the dry stuff next month? But he provided a few thrills and chills we'll remember.

Belmont Stakes winner Creator has been sold by WinStar Farm and Bobby Flay - who bought his share just days before the Belmont - to the Japanese Bloodhorse Breeders' Association.

Son of Tapit out of Argentinian mare Morena, Creator also won the Arkansas Derby.

Back on the red carpet, our spies have eyed California Chrome working well for the Breeders' Cup Classic, where he'll be exclamation-point favored for a fantastic season finale.

Super female turfer Tepin seems back on track after winning the Woodbine Mile and then losing the First Lady Stakes in an October 8 wheelback 21 days later. That bodes well for a monster effort, although you won't get a price.

Our friend Frosted has been designated for the Breeders' Cup Classic assignment. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, not wanting to run the short, two-turn Dirt Mile.

I despise the debunked concept of multitasking, invented by slavedriving bosses seeking only worker dominance. But I will have to give it a thought as our batsmen in blue forge ahead and I'll have a mess of handicapping to do.

But, woof, I wouldn't trade these here dog days for anything. My cats - one of whom is at least half named for a race horse - would have none of that anyway.

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

October 22, 2016

The Chicago Cubs Are On The Air

Here we go.

1. Tomasulo.

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2. Guillermo.

*

3. Sync up, people.

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Previously:
* Wild About Harry And The 1988 Cubs.

* Tomasulo: No, We Don't Want To See 'W' Flag Cupcakes.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:26 AM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

"Sluggers World Class Sports Bar and Grill, a cavernous Wrigleyville watering hole, used to spend $20,000 a year on ballpark advertising," the Tribune reports.

"But several years after the Ricketts family bought the Cubs in 2009, that relationship ended.

"All of a sudden, they didn't want our money anymore," said Zach Strauss, co-owner of the 32-year-old family business. "They only want the million-dollar deals."

"Don't get him wrong. Strauss is grateful to the Ricketts family for keeping the Cubs at Wrigley and building a winning team. But there's a lingering wariness."

Sluggers, a Wrigleyville icon that helped build the neighborhood's value, is too downscale for Rickettsville. The already-gentrified neighborhood is getting gentrified again. Call it meta- (or mega-)gentrification.

And who will benefit most from changes underway? The Ricketts family.

"Indeed, an uneasiness pervades the neighborhood around the 102-year-old ballpark, where the grinding and clanking of construction equipment is a constant reminder that radical change is coming to an area long known as a rough-around-the-edges mishmash of sports bars, convenience stores and fast-food joints for those on beer budgets."

Well, that's not really true. Wrigleyville hasn't been a beer-budget neighborhood for at least two decades. If you can find an Old Style in any of the establishments around the ol' ballpark, it's only ironically. But the neighborhood still isn't grand enough for the Ricketts' tastes.

"Wrigleyville does the bar business pretty well," Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney told the Trib. "What's missing - and particularly for our professional clients, our corporate guys - is, 'Where do I take a client to dinner before the game? Where can I go afterward and have a cocktail but also a conversation and maybe not fight a large crowd?"

Because the Cubs experience, now that they're good and fashionable, is for corporate guys and clients now. And when you're wining and dining for your hedge fund, who wants to fight large crowds of the merely affluent?

"And so our vision is to create a little bit of a different feel for Wrigleyville north of Addison, where it becomes more of a white-tablecloth experience, something with a little upper-end feel to it," he said.

And those whose undying fandom built the franchise's value beyond any ordinarily reasonable amount can go to hell.

*

"No one has ever had to work harder for the right to spend $750 million in private dollars in the city of Chicago than the Rickettses," said "family spokesman" Dennis Culloton, from a wahmbulance steaming down an undisclosed suburban street.

Go read the rest - and weep.

Wrigleyville Roots
Wrigleyville used to be, basically, Wicker Park. Before Wicker Park became Lincoln Park. Which used to be Wicker Park. In other words, it used to be cool. And developers, marketers and posers can never just leave cool alone; it's in their DNA to ruin it because they can identify it, but they can never understand it.

From Rolling Stone in September:

You really go out of your way to visit there for two reasons: Cubs games and shows at the Metro, the area's long-running venue that has played host to everybody from Metallica in 1983 to Nirvana in 1989 and nearly every important Chicago band or artist from Ministry at the dawn of the city's burgeoning industrial music scene to Chance the Rapper in 2016. Joe Shanahan, who opened the venue in 1982, remembers a time when he needed to be escorted by security to his car after a late-night. Not so much because of the fans, but because it was a neighborhood in a big city in the 1980s. "It was scary," he says of his early days turning the former Swedish Community Center built in 1927. "But it was inexpensive."

(Shanahan went on to co-found the Double Door in Wicker Park when that neighborhood, and Wrigleyville, were changing in their own ways; now the Double Door is getting mega-gentrified out to Logan Square, where the gentrification movie is already in its final reel. Also, there's a reason why Lounge Ax, which many music denizens feel was the finest music club this city has known, was located in Lincoln Park, across from Wax Trax, and died an ignominious death there.)

*

Back to Rolling Stone:

"Like any neighborhood in any American city that has drawn certain subcultures - from hippies flocking to Haight-Ashbury in the late-1960s to various neighborhoods across Lower Manhattan where all kinds of punks, burgeoning art stars and other weirdos moved to in the 1970s - Wrigleyville was a place with cheap rent that just happened to be situated around the ballpark of Major League Baseball's most notoriously pitiful team."

Me, during last year's playoffs:

"It was like all the street romance of a Bruce Springsteen song, 81 times a year - if you knew the lore, of course. And no other team had the lore of the Cubs. It was like the living embodiment of "Deacon Blues" - a team for the losers of the world who lived by a different set of values where winning wasn't everything. Wrigley Field was where the game was beautiful, and that was the thing. It wasn't that fans of my ilk didn't want to win, but that, like in life, the quality of the experience - and its inclusion of everybody who appreciated it - was of far more value. It was a team for those who despise the jockocracy. Not all Cubs fans fit this profile; not even close. But those who did and who loved baseball gravitated to the team, the ballpark and the real live literary glory that came with it. It was no coincidence that the alt-nation to come was filled with Cubs fans; we found each other as surely as we found the Replacements. (A college friend used to wear a South Side Cubs Fan t-shirt; a colleague at The Minnesota Daily swore off McDonald's after 1984; The only cool person to ever appear on The Real World was skateboarder chick Sarah, whose frequently worn Cubs tee was as much a signifier as a Yo La Tengo record.)"

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Back to Rolling Stone:

"Somehow, almost inexplicably, the neighborhood that catered to drunk sports fans there to see their Cubbies lose another day game (Wrigley Field didn't have lights for night games until 1988) also became a punk-friendly area. The Metro is a few blocks up on Clark, and the Cubby Bear sit directly across the street from the stadium. The latter bar played host to a number of punk and hardcore bands in the 1980s, from Discharge and Sham 69, to locals like Big Black, Articles of Faith and a Naked Raygun show that also happened to be the first punk show ever attended by a kid named Dave Grohl (who was in town visiting family). Sports fans and punks making a specific neighborhood a destination for their respective groups - you don't really hear of that very often . . .

"[T]he area embraced its strange side. Up the street into the Lakeview neighborhood, you had The Alley, a store that opened in the late 1970s and served as sort of a mini-mall for all things counter culture, from punk and metal to goth and whatever else was popular at the given moment. The store took over its corner on Clark and Belmont, circling a Dunkin' Donuts that would famously become a spot for local punks to gather before and after shows, earning the nickname Punkin' Donuts. In 1991, Chicago Comics would open up between The Alley and Wrigley Field, remaining to this day one of the best comic shops in the city. Clark Street from Belmont to The Metro became sort of a thoroughfare for people looking for everything from bullet belts to bongs . . . "

"You know the story: people living on the fringe make the area seem attractive to people with money, the people with money move in and, soon to follow are the bars with 20 televisions all showing sports. Wrigleyville, already a strange neighborhood because of its cozy little ballpark and the cursed team that plays there, somehow seemed like a decent fit for a bunch of outcasts. It was normal to end up at the McDonald's across the street from the ballpark and see kids from whatever show let out ordering Big Macs alongside sloshed baseball fans. It was awkward, but both groups were strange in their own way: kids with the funky hairstyles and clothes, and the baseball fans that would cheer for a team that they know will only disappoint."

As the author notes, the old, weird Wrigleyville is long gone. Now the frat boys and junior account managers are getting a taste of their own bad medicine; square Wrigleyville is giving way to white-tablecloth Wrigleyville. May the curse be broken so some of us oldhead Cubs fans can finally move on.

Cubs Law
"For a lesson in how to deal with the burden of the past, the Cubs could do worse than to look to its own in-house legal department and its lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis and DLA Piper. The renovation and expansion of historic Wrigley Field has been a key element of the Cubs' comeback strategy, but the entire project was threatened by the team's legal history and the uniqueness of its 102-year-old ballpark, which in addition to being designated a city landmark is located in a residential neighborhood," The American Lawyer reported in September.

"Fortunately for the Cubs, its legal team is nothing like the Lovable Losers of yesteryear. Its lawyers are close to a sweep of wins at City Hall, a local landmark commission and federal court. Wrigley has already undergone or received approval for most of the planned changes, including the installation of two giant, controversial video screens in the outfield. In September, a federal judge in Chicago again ruled in the team's favor after owners of buildings near Wrigley, who sell tickets for rooftop views into the stadium, sought to revive a suit over the video boards that had been dismissed in 2015.

"The Cubs' grand plan was put in place shortly after the Ricketts family in 2009 bought the Cubs from the Tribune Co. for a reported $900 million. The family says that the investments were necessary to keep Wrigley safe and to add advertising revenue to support a competitive team on the field."

If you believe that, I've got a not-at-all-fake box seat ticket to tonight's game to sell you.

Beachwood Sports Radio: Cubs - And Us - On The Brink
Including: Players Performing Playoffy; Keys To Kyle Vs. Clayton, and; Problematic Pitching Problems. Plus: Jay Cutler's Thumb Vs. Johnny Manziel's Drinking Problem and Your World Champion LA Sparks.

Cubs Baseball Is On The Air!
Kimmel, Guillermo, Tomasulo, and how to sync local radio with national TV.

Cubs Retweet: Bringing It All Back Home
Starring Yogi Hendricks.

Why They Don't Run Like Mad On Jon Lester
Someone should put these to music.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: House Rule
Teach Love.

Tweeting The Bears: QB 911
"This team is completely broken."

ACLU Demands Secret U.S. Court Reveal Secret U.S. Laws
"The people of this country can't hold the government accountable for its surveillance activities unless they know what our laws allow."

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Kobanes, Helado Negro, Mick Jenkins, Prodigy (of Mobb Deep), Bob Weir, Tesseract, Anthony Janas, Jeremiah Fisher, Cute Is What We Aim For, Schenay Mosley, Papadosio, In The Whale, and Yandel.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The spookiest time of the year is upon us. To celebrate Halloween, Jim and Greg turn the show over to listeners who share the songs that tingle their spines the most. Plus, they share their thoughts on Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize and review the latest from singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen."

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Weekend BeachBook

Jim Beam Workers Approve New Contract.

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Voices From Wells Fargo - And The Rest Of The American Workplace.

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UN Decries Global Assault On Freedom Of Expression.

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Thank God Candy Corn Is On The List.

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Weekend TweetWood

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Sometimes you just gotta tip your cap.

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I'm old enough to remember when libraries were co-located with schools.

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The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: Worldwide pants.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:30 AM | Permalink

October 21, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #124: Cubs - And Us - On The Brink

Bringing it all back home. Including: The Bunt Is Back!; Keys To Kyle Vs. Clayton; Players Performing Playoffy; Problematic Pitching Problems; Jay Cutler's Thumb Vs. Johnny Manziel's Drinking Problem, and; Your World Champion LA Sparks.


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SHOW NOTES

* 124.

* All that's missing is Ryan Braun!

* John Smoltz is good at his new job:

* Funny, but unfair, according to Coffman:

Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 1.45.01 PM.png

* Buster Olney Is Obviously Biased Against Your Favorite Team.

* How Vin Scully Is Spending The Playoffs:

1:49: The Bunt Is Back!

* Jon "Lackey" Lester:

17:44: Keys To Kyle vs. Clayton.

* Be aggressively disciplined.

* Free Willy!

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Agreed (.063/.167):

25:52: Players Performing Playoffy.

* Javy Baez is hitting 368/.381 in the postseason. Oh, and he's playing a little defense, too:

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Greatest sports play ever?

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Addison Russell is also pretty good:

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Ben Zobrist:

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Kris Bryant:

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* SI: Den Leader: Anthony Rizzo Holds The Cubs Together.

* John Baker: Playing The Right Way?

"I'm going to hit a bomb today, pop this rosary out of my jersey, and spin it around my neck before I walk halfway down the line."

43:28: Problematic Pitching Problems.

* Strop, Rondon, Chapman, Lackey, Arrieta. And what's up with Carl Edwards Jr.?

* The Z Man!

* Magic Mike:

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Arrieta/Montero:

55:54: Jay Cutler's Thumb vs. Johnny Manziel's Drinking Problem.

Next man up:

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Rodgers:

1:04:13: Your Champion L.A. Sparks:

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STOPPAGE: 9:38

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For archives and other shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:34 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Kobanes at Liar's Club on Tuesday night.


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2. Helado Negro at the Hideout on Thursday night.

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3. Mick Jenkins at Thalia Hall on Thursday night.

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4. Prodigy (of Mobb Deep) at Subterranean on Thursday night.

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5. Bob Weir at the Chicago Theatre on Thursday night.

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6. Tesseract at Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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7. Anthony Janas at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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8. Jeremiah Fisher at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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9. Cute Is What We Aim For at Subterranean on Wednesday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Schenay Mosley at the Beat Kitchen on Oct. 12th.

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Papadosio at the Concord last Friday night.

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In The Whale at the Double Door last Friday night.

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Yandel at the Aragon on Oct. 9th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:31 PM | Permalink

Cubs Retweet: Bringing It All Back Home

Here we go, folks.

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Yogi Hendricks.

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Um, wait a second . . .

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:28 AM | Permalink

ACLU Demands Secret U.S. Court Reveal Secret U.S. Laws

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a motion to reveal the secret court opinions with "novel or significant interpretations" of surveillance law, in a renewed push for government transparency.

The motion, filed Wednesday by the ACLU and Yale Law School's Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, asks the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, which rules on intelligence gathering activities in secret, to release 23 classified decisions it made between 9/11 and the passage of the USA Freedom Act in June 2015.

ACLU National Security Project staff attorney Patrick Toomey says the opinions are part of a "much larger collection of hidden rulings on all sorts of government surveillance activities that affect the privacy rights of Americans."

Among them is the court order that the government used to direct Yahoo! to secretly scan its users' e-mails for "a specific set of characters." Toomey writes:

These court rulings are essential for the public to understand how federal laws are being construed and implemented. They also show how constitutional protections for personal privacy and expressive activities are being enforced by the courts. In other words, access to these opinions is necessary for the public to properly oversee their government.

Although the USA Freedom Act requires the release of novel FISA court opinions on surveillance law, the government maintains that the rule does not apply retroactively - thereby protecting the panel from publishing many of its post-9/11 opinions, which helped create an "unprecedented buildup" of secret surveillance laws.

Even after National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the scope of mass surveillance in 2013, sparking widespread outcry, dozens of rulings on spying operations remain hidden from the public eye, which stymies efforts to keep the government accountable, civil liberties advocates say.

"These rulings are necessary to inform the public about the scope of the government's surveillance powers today," the ACLU's motion states.

Toomey writes that the rulings helped influence a number of novel spying activities, including:

  • The government's use of malware, which it calls "Network Investigative Techniques."
  • The government's efforts to compel technology companies to weaken or circumvent their own encryption protocols.
  • The government's efforts to compel technology companies to disclose their source code so that it can identify vulnerabilities.
  • The government's use of "cybersignatures" to search through internet communications for evidence of computer intrusions.
  • The government's use of stingray cell-phone tracking devices under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
  • The government's warrantless surveillance of Americans under FISA Section 702 - a controversial authority scheduled to expire in December 2017.
  • The bulk collection of financial records by the CIA and FBI under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Without these rulings being made public, "it simply isn't possible to understand the government's claimed authority to conduct surveillance," Toomey writes.

As he told The Intercept on Wednesday, "The people of this country can't hold the government accountable for its surveillance activities unless they know what our laws allow. These secret court opinions define the limits of the government's spying powers. Their disclosure is essential for meaningful public oversight in our democracy."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Previously:

* Obama Worst FOIA President Ever.

* How Obama Undermined FOIA Reforms.

* Obama's FOIA Fail.

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More Than Obama.

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

* Technologists Turn On Obama.

* EFF Sues NSA Over FOIA.

* EFF Wins FOIA Battle Over Secret Legal Opinions On Government Spying.

* Oscar And Pulitzer Award-Winning Journalist Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years Of Airport Detentions And Searches.

* Obama: No Questions, Please!

* Sunlight Wins 13 Years Of Federal Contract Data.

* Workshop On Government's Openness Is Closed To Public.

* Government Could Hide Existence Of Records Under FOIA Rule Proposal.

* Trying (And Trying) To Get Records From The 'Most Transparent Administration' Ever.

* Delayed, Denied, Dismissed: Failures On The FOIA Front.

* SPJ, Again: Transparency Has Gotten Worse Under Obama.

* Obama Snags General In Book Leak.

* Obama's New Era Of Secret Law.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:08 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: House Rule

What's the alternative?

20161020_182642_resized.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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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Autumn Station Wagon.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Betty's & Nick's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ohio House Impact.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: End School Zone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Portage Park Peek-A-Boo.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: South Side Sundown.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Susie's Drive-Thru.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Ham.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Food & Liquor, Milhouse.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Hare Blue Line Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Schwing!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ad Deluxe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jesus At The Drive-In.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Conveyance Belt.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire In The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nick's Meat Market.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Keep Havin A Good Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Knock Knock.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Man At Marie's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonneville.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Logan Bags.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairwell.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Velvet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Court Is In Session.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Railyards Rush Hour.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop Killing People.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 1.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Greystone Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You Are Beautiful.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Auto Part Overlords.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bearground.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 2.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skyway Sculpture.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Dome Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hello, St. Joe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Revolution Books.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Driveway.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Proceed To Checkout.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Summer Ghost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Daily Double.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Are Moving.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 3.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunny Day Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ashland & Pawn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Party Store.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Donuts.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: AAA Sales.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:39 AM | Permalink

Tweeting The Bears | QB 911

The current back-up quarterback is Zach Miller, according to Thursday's night's broadcast crew. I would've sworn it would be Cam Meredith, but whatever. Just hike the ball to Ka'Deem Carey and run the read option without the option.

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Who is John Fox's backup?

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Bears' best play all night was on a penalty.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 AM | Permalink

October 20, 2016

The [Thursday] Papers

"Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago on Wednesday defended his 60-day suspension of a lieutenant who refused to send underlings into an area where they might be exposed to Ebola but said the city will accept an arbitrator's ruling overturning the suspension," the Sun-Times reports.

What area in Chicago could expose someone to Ebola? The article doesn't say.

Really.

I mean, I read it four times. Am I missing something? Am I currently sitting in the Ebola area? Is it someone's house? Was it on fire?

Did the lieutenant in question just generally refuse pre-emptively to enter an Ebola scene? The article says it was a specific, actual incident. Again, is it me or is there a hole in this story as big as the one in Jason Heyward's swing?

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I tried, but Google had no comment.

I did learn, however, that in May the department introduced its first so-called "Ebola ambulance," though it seems to be designed for a range of infectious diseases. More are on the way. Perhaps they will have cloaking devices to maintain the mystery.

Judge Not
"The lawyer who allegedly posed as a judge has been indicted on criminal charges, the latest fallout from the scandal that began when the judicial hopeful from the South Side put on a black robe and presided over three traffic cases, her lawyer said Thursday," the Tribune reports.

"The indictment, handed up by a Cook County grand jury, charges attorney Rhonda Crawford with two criminal counts, according to her lawyer, Victor Henderson, who said the Cook County state's attorney's office informed him of the indictment but did not specify the charges."

For the somewhat mind-blowing background, see The [Tuesday] Papers.

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I presume Crawford is still the favorite in her campaign to be elected a real judge. #Rigged

Bar Exam
"A Northwestern researcher who sent hundreds of fake resumes to law firms found that hiring managers were most impressed by male applicants who claimed passions for polo and sailing," Crain's noted in its "Morning 10" newsletter on Wednesday.

Here's the Atlantic article that explains it all.

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Wouldn't you love to see a similar experiment run on our esteemed news organizations? Assignment Desk, activate!

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Riv Stagehands Trick-or-Treat For Union Contract
Target: JAM Productions.

Fake News And False Flags
Shaping public opinion for war.

Chicago Artist Loads Up On Bank Of America Stock!
Or did he?

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From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

Cubs Retweet: The Bats Are Back
But the series is still a toss-up, yo.

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Nip Slip
What if I told you . . .

Fantasy Fix: Hoyer Plays Well (Again), May Lose Job
Throwing a fourth-straight 300-yard game somehow a disappointment.

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BeachBook

Cubs Made Los Angeles A Home Before The Dodgers Did.

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Ex-Sports Marketing Agent To Plead Guilty In FIFA Bribe Case.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Absolutely priceless. Read the replies.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Double-dog dare ya.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:05 PM | Permalink

Cubs Retweet: The Bats Are Back

At least they were back for three innings.

Tonight we'll see if they're back for good.

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No.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:42 AM | Permalink

Riviera Stagehands To "Trick-or-Treat" For Union Contract At JAM Productions

WHAT: Local clergy and JAM Productions stagehands workers, represented by IATSE Local 2, will "trick-or-treat" for a union contract at the JAM Productions offices.

Clergy will deliver a letter of support to owner, Jerry Mickelson.

Workers and clergy will then hold a press conference to announce the union's filing of an NLRB charge Thursday morning alleging the company is illegally refusing to negotiate.

WHEN: TODAY, Thursday, October 20th at 10 a.m.

WHERE: JAM Productions offices: 207 W Goethe Street.

WHO: JAM Productions Riviera stagehands workers, IATSE Vice President, local clergy and community leaders, Arise Chicago, Chicago Federation of Musicians band.

VISUALS: Workers and community supporters in Halloween costumes Trick-or-Treating for a union contract at the JAM offices. Local clergy delivering a letter signed by religious leaders. Lively band playing music.

BACKGROUND: In September 2015, JAM Productions stagehands working at the Riviera Theatre in Uptown expressed interest in union representation by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 2.

JAM Productions owner Jerry Mickelson immediately fired the entire stage crew.

After issuing a complaint, the National Labor Relations Board reached a settlement with JAM requiring it to rehire the fired workers.

The NLRB then held an election, in which a majority of the workers voted for representation by Local 2.

Despite the NLRB's certification of Local 2 as the workers' chosen union in June, Jerry Mickelson has refused to negotiate, as the law requires, leading Local 2 to file an NLRB charge on October 20th.

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See also:

* Tribune: Riviera Theatre Stagehands Claim Firing Was Due To Union Organizing.

* Consequence of Sound: Former JAM Productions Stagehands Speak Out On Mass Firing.

* DeRogatis: Jam Productions vs. Stagehands.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

Did A Chicago-Area Artist Just Buy $88 Million In Bank Of America Stock?

In the latest apparent spoof on a U.S. securities regulator's online filing system, a Chicago-area artist with a fondness for inspirational quotes claimed to have acquired about $88 billion worth of Bank of America Corp shares on Wednesday.

The filing did not appear to influence the stock price of the second-largest U.S. bank, which joins companies including Avon Products Inc, Integrated Device Technology Inc and Berkshire Hathaway Inc to have had fake filings attached to their ticker symbols on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Edgar system.

While the SEC did not respond to a request for comment and Bank of America declined to comment, securities experts said there was no doubt the filing was a hoax.

In it, a company called YNOFACE Holdings, purportedly run by Antonio Lee said it had acquired 798.4 million Bank of America shares in an exchange on Aug. 15, and purchased another 4.2 billion common shares and 100 million preferred shares on Sept. 22.

The common shares alone would represent nearly half the bank's total market cap. Bank of America's largest shareholder, The Vanguard Group, has roughly 610 million shares, a stake of less than 6 percent.

In an earlier filing, YNOFACE said it had implausibly raised over $1 trillion for an art fund.

A YouTube account characterizes YNOFACE as a company that "acquires, markets, and holds original art as a capital appreciation investment based off the fundamental metrics."

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Offering Explanation, 2014.

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Lee's Twitter account, which hasn't been updated since 2014, showcase colorful paintings of a beach, elephants in love and a naked person with a bird's head. His avatar is question mark over a blank face.

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Reuters' attempts to reach Lee were unsuccessful.

While Bank of America appeared unscathed by the apparent scam, past phony filings have had real world consequences. Last year, Avon shares soared 20 percent on a filing about a fake takeover bid. The alleged fraudster was arrested earlier this year.

The SEC's vulnerability to phony filings has attracted the attention of Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who wrote to the regulator last year to express his concern.

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Links, embed and editing by Beachwood.

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See also: Lee's "Our Legacy."

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From Lee's Facebook page:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

Fake News And False Flags

Recent articles about the firm Bell Pottinger are a stark reminder of the power and pervasiveness of PR in today's media landscape.

The Sunday Times and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism just revealed that Bell Pottinger was hired by the Pentagon to coordinate a covert propaganda campaign to boost America's profile in Iraq following the "end" of hostilities in 2003.

fakenews1.jpg

And earlier this year, South Africa's Business Day newspaper revealed that the firm had been retained by the scandal-hit billionaire Gupta family to burnish its image after a string of stories accusing it of "state capture" - allegedly using its influence with the president, Jacob Zuma, to advance the family's business interests.

Bell Pottinger's former chairman Lord Tim Bell confirmed to the Sunday Times that the company had been paid $540 million for five contracts with the U.S. government between 2007 and 2011. He said the firm reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Council while working on the account.

The investigation, Fake News and False Flags relied on interviews with a former Bell Pottinger employee, Martin Wells, who claimed that the PR company created short TV reports in the style of Arabic news networks for broadast in Iraq. According to Wells, Bell Pottinger also scripted propagandistic soap operas and distributed fake insurgency videos which could be used to track the people who watched them.

The revelations were a classic example of investigative journalism: painstakingly poring over U.S. Army documents and federal government records as well as Bell Pottinger's corporate filings. It must be stressed that Bell Pottinger changed ownership after a management buyout in 2012 and that the Iraq unit closed in 2011. The investigation reported that key personnel who worked in the Iraq unit denied allegations about using tracking software.

Lord Bell won acclaim as the man who helped the Conservatives win general elections under Margaret Thatcher (he became known as Thatcher's PR "guru"), which helped him secure a knighthood in 1991. (It's worth pointing out he was made a life peer by Tony Blair in 1998.) His former firm has history with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism: In 2011, while he was still in charge, an investigation revealed the continuing close links between the firm and the Conservative Party.

fakenews2.jpg


Winning Friends And Influencing People

Fake News and False Flags is the latest indication of how nation-states use PR firms for propaganda purposes during wartime or times of crisis. Perhaps the most famous example of this practice occurred around the time of the first Gulf war in 1990-91 when Citizens for a Free Kuwait - a "human rights agency" created and financed entirely by Kuwait's ruling elite to promote its interests in the U.S. - retained Hill & Knowlton, at that time the world's largest PR firm.

Saddam Hussein's Iraq had invaded Kuwait, and H&K's brief was to persuade U.S. citizens that American military involvement in the Gulf was vital to save a fledgling democracy from the hands of a brutal dictator. As John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton point out in their book Toxic Sludge Is Good For You - Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry, H&K produced dozens of video news releases for consumption by the U.S. media, and through them, the American public. As they wrote:

TV stations and networks simply fed the carefully crafted propaganda to unwitting viewers, who assumed they were watching 'real' journalism.

But by far the greatest public relations coup occurred when Nayirah, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, appeared before a public hearing of Congress's Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990. She tearfully told of atrocities committed by Iraqi troops who had entered a Kuwaiti hospital with guns and took babies out of incubators leaving them to die "on the cold floor."

In the run up to war, then-President George H.W. Bush quoted Nayirah's testimony repeatedly. As Mitchel Cohen wrote years later, six times in one month the then president referred to:

. . . 312 premature babies at Kuwait City's maternity hospital who died after Iraqi soldiers stole their incubators and left the infants on the floor.

Bush Sr. invoked Hitler, while pro-war senators raised the ghosts of World War I by referencing "bayoneting babies." But there were elements of this story that later came into question. Nayirah was a member of the Kuwaiti royal family who had - it was repeatedly alleged - been coached in what "even the Kuwaitis' own investigators later confirmed was false testimony."


Working With The Dark Side

The scale and power of the public relations industry is becoming almost overwhelming for journalism. According to the Public Relations and Communications Association the PR industry is worth £12.9 billion in the UK, £3 billion more than in 2013. The PR census of 2016 also disclosed that there were 83,000 employees in the industry in the UK - up from 62,000 in 2013. This is important because, as media commentator Roy Greenslade illustrates, the findings confirm there are far more PR workers than journalists in Britain. (In the U.S., PR professionals outnumber journalists 4.6-1.)

This is alarming because it means PR firms will become ever more adept at manipulating the media to ensure their content appears. Fewer and fewer journalists have the time or opportunity to research their own stories or to check press releases for inaccuracies.

I have written about how useless it is to simply reject PR as the "dark arts" when its presence in modern journalism is so complete and involved. There has to be a working relationship - and the obvious and only way forward for journalism is to set the parameters of the relationship.

Thank goodness, then, for the Sunday Times, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and others like them for the work they continue to do.

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John Jewell is the director of undergraduate studies at the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:17 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Nip Slip

You can't stop Arrelious Benn (I wish that would stop auto correcting to "Areolas Benn"), you can only hope to contain him . . . as well as his career has through Sunday. Benn's fourth quarter TD reception was his seventh since 2012.

The late, demoralizing and ultimately deciding catch and (and run aaaaaand run) was a play that featured Tracy Porter falling down and the Bears safety help falling down on the job.

It shouldn't have come to that.

What if I told you before this game that the Bears would dominate the time of possession, Brian Hoyer would throw for over 300 yards, Connor Barth would make all of his field goal attempts and the Chicago's defense would hold the Jacksonville Jaguars scoreless through three quarters?

You'd definitely think I was about to try and sell you a timeshare because every timeshare pitch starts with the sentence "What if I told you . . . "

You might have also suspected that I was about to reveal that the Bears (gasp!) lost again because nobody would bother loading up all of that preamble unless some horrendous bullshit went down late in the game.

And if you've made it all the way to my small corner of the Internet, I'm sure you already know that the Bears lost 17-16 and fell to a record of 1-5 heading into a Thursday night game against the Packers.

We're not mad.

We're just disappointed.

What Worked

  • Ball Control: Opting to expand their ball-control strategy beyond jock straps and double-sided tape, the Bears absolutely dominated the time of possession battle by creating turnovers and converting third downs throughout the game.
  • Willie Young: The NFL player most likely to portray the likeness of the Gorton's Fisherman* in his career's second act had another excellent outing with two sacks and a forced fumble.
  • Cameron Meredith: The Hoyer-Meredith connection isn't just a great name for a '70s funk band anymore. Meredith was the Bears' leading receiver for the second week in a row.

What Made Us Say Aloud "I Sure Am Glad I Have A Drinking Problem! Bye Bye, Memories!" Before Rapidly Shotgunning 12 PBR Tall Boys

  • Alshon Jeffery Red Zone Targets (or lack thereof): If you're still wondering what the big difference is between the quarterbacking of Brian Hoyer and Jay Cutler, look no further than the lack of downfield targets the Bears' top receiver has been getting since Week 2.

    And also the emergence of 300-yard passing games. And also the drastic decrease in the number of turnovers a Bears quarterback has committed.

    When asked what steps Chicago needs to take to improve, Jeffery's response was blunt.

    "We gotta score fucking touchdowns," he told the media after Sunday's loss. "That's it. Touchdowns win games. Shit. You see what three points gets us."

    This is becoming a familiar refrain for Jeffery. When asked what the Bears needed to do to win after the recent loss to Indianapolis, the wideout responded, "Capitalize in the red zone and shit."

    I'm sure Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is furiously scribbling notes as he reads this from high atop the coaching facility at Foxboro, affectionately known as "The Fortress Of Venom."

    Overlooking the lack of depth to the man's insights, I think you should consider Mr. Jeffery as a write-in candidate If you're still on the fence about who to vote for next month.

    He's definitely one Bear I'd want to have a beer with.

  • 4th Quarter Defensive Scheme: Giving up 17 points in one quarter is reason enough to bitch, but it looked like the Bears abandoned the convention of the prevent defense late in the game. I'm not going to knock aggressive defense in the fourth, even though it was only a six-point lead.

    I believe the prevent defense was invented by Vegas primarily to dissuade people from betting the under.

    However, you'll need to station at least one safety somewhere near the middle of the field if you plan to keep the immortal Arrelious Benn out of the endzone.

    Eye On The Opposition - Rivalry Revival
    Due to its long history, the Bears and Green Bay Packers rivalry is one of the best known in sport, ranking only slightly behind the Argonauts/Tiger-Cats and Yankees/Devil Rays.

    The two teams began playing each other way back in 1921, but if you're like me you don't remember most of that because unlike Nicholas Cage, we're not vampires.

    Fortunately, there's been plenty of fuel thrown on that fire in recent times, so let's pull out a few specific reasons to hate the Packers.

    • As if the 41-yard scamper wasn't harsh enough, Packers' running back Ahman Green added insult to injury in 2002 by outpacing the Bear defense by enough of a margin to leave ample time for a Batman logo to be tattooed onto his calf.
    • The current Packers training staff are a bunch of jerks. Eddie Lacy has been trying real hard to lose weight and they just keep rolling into the break room with armloads of Krispy Kreme. I know he's an opposing player, but leave the calorie bombs at home guys. The man's trying to improve himself.
    • Back in 2007, former Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings catfished Hunter Hillenmeyer under the online guise of Avril Lavigne. When Jennings became tired of the farce, he arranged for a meeting at the Mars Cheese Castle in order to put the prank to rest in a blaze of embarrassment.

      However, before the meeting took place Hillenmeyer called things off when he became suspicious of the rouse after Jennings/Lavigne indicated that he/she didn't like breakfast sausage infused with maple syrup, which proved whoever was on the other end of the phone was not Canadian.

    • Despite some persistent rumors to the contrary, it would appear as though perennial Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn't gay. I for one, am taking the man at his word - but I'm also mad as hell.

      Most hetero dudes have a browser history with enough instances of "new bride chows maid of honor while lady boss doctor rides sybian" to indicate that they are super cool with same-on-same action when it suits them**, and I have a feeling most female fans couldn't care less, outside of the cold realization that they have no shot at the captain of the football team***.

      Missed opportunity, bro.

      I hope he reconsiders and takes one for the team, or two if it helps the cause even more.

    Kool Aid (2 of 5 Bottles Of New Glarus Spotted Cow)
    With playoff hopes for this season all but lost, this game is getting a one-bottle bump strictly because it's against the Packers.

    Watching a bad football team play an underachieving football team on a work night isn't your thing?

    Tune in to FS1 (Channel 4,089.5 on Comcast and channel 11,977 and one-seventh on Dish) to watch the winningest team in town take on the Dodgers in the NLCS.

    But let's say you're a Sox fan, a football enthusiast, a habitual gambler, someone whose cable box is defective and stuck on the NFL Network, or just want a good look at those "Color Rush" jerseys . . . in which case, really?

    Any or all of those reasons might be good enough to catch some TNF, right?

    Probably not, so I offer you this: It's an excuse to drink beer and eat pizza on a Thursday (shrug).

    Good enough for me, but I'll give you one more:

    The runaway disappointment that has been the Bears' 2016 season has made it difficult for many fans to remain engaged enough to take in news from the rest of the league.

    It's awfully difficult to watch the post-game wrap when you've just angrily hurled a folding chair into your TV.

    What you may have missed while you were furiously eating your remaining nachos as your television lays in smoking ruins is that there's something wrong with the Green Bay offense and those who follow the Pack are starting to question management's ability to call plays.

    So believe it or not, I think the Bears can win a potentially low-scoring affair using the same formula they've trotted out the last two weeks - use the threat of a legitimate running game to control the clock, convert third downs and keep the defense fresh enough to make plays.

    Heady stuff. I know.

    The prospect of rooting for a 1-5 team might not be enough to give you a football chubster, but if you're from my town the thought of beating the Packers should at least make your mouth water.

    Bears 17, Packers 13

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    About The Author
    The Author wonders whatever happened to picture-in-picture? He also assumes he will wear a hole in his thumb bouncing back and forth while his two favorite teams battle for his attention like a couple of needy, screw-up kids who have only brought sadness to his home except for that one time 31 years ago.

    carl7.png

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    * If Idris Elba can play Roland in The Dark Tower, you're goddamn right Willie Young can be a kick-ass Gorton's Fisherman.

    ** And by "when it suits them," I mean don't come barging into my office at lunch. The door is closed for a reason.

    *** Sorry, ladies! Guess you'll just have to marry a doctor, or, barring that, settle for your career as a chemical engineer, top legal advisor or POTUS. Thank Christ I won the genetic lottery and am able to make my living as a middle manager/IT guy at a small company in Schaumburg.

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:02 AM | Permalink

    October 19, 2016

    Fantasy Fix: Hoyer Plays Well (Again), May Lose Job

    Random observations from a week in which Brian Hoyer threw for 300-plus yards for the fourth straight game, but was somehow a disappointment.

    Brian Hoyer plays well, may lose job. Wait - what? Fantasy darling Hoyer threw for 302 yards, no TDs and no INTs in Week 6. Okay, could have been better, but it was his fourth straight 300-yard game, and he's now tied with Matt Ryan, QB, ATL, for the most 300-yard games this season despite only starting four of six games. He also might have had a better game last week if his teammates hadn't committed 10 penalties that repeatedly had him throwing out of a hole.

    Supposedly, Jay Cutler is being considered to start this Thursday night at Green Bay. GB's pass defense has been lackluster this year, and it could be another chance for Hoyer to collect 300-plus yards - if he's done enough to earn another start.

    OBJ disappears, reappears, explodes: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, NYG, through six weeks has generated more drama than many players do in a career. He seemed to be at it again in Week 6 as he lost a fumble early against the Ravens, then inexplicably sat out of the game for several plays, and ended the first half with 11 yards receiving. But he returned in the second half to post 211 yards receiving and two TDs.

    Outside of Julio Jones' ridiculous 300-yard game a few weeks ago, that's the best game we've seen by a WR this season - and it took him just two quarters.

    Yet, he still somehow found time to bring more drama, as he took off his helmet on field while celebrating a TD late in the game with the Giants ahead 27-23 - an obvious unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and lame-brained move that helped Baltimore get deep into Giants' territory before running out of time. OBJ can win you the week when he's not losing you the week. Don't expect that to change.

    Another Eddie Lacy injury opens the door for . . . Knile Davis: GB back Lacy was supposed to have a rebound season, but he's been no better than average, surpassing 100 yards in just one of five games and failing collect more than 81 yards in any of the other four. Now, he appears lost for several weeks with a mysterious ankle injury, and with back-up James Starks out for at least another four weeks, the Packers traded a draft pick to Kansas City this week for Knile Davis.

    Davis is still available in about 70% of Yahoo! leagues, but aside from fullback Aaron Ripkowski, there is no one else to hand off to (although WR Randall Cobb may get a few gadget totes). There is great temptation to start Davis against the lowly Bears on Thursday night, though you might want to stash him on the bench in a short week in which he's still getting acclimated to his new team.

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    Tonight at AnySquared Studio, home to Beachwood HQ:

    Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 12.53.27 PM.png

    Details here.

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    Also, of course, the Cubs, whom we won't have streaming, but I'll have on radio. Somehow I'm thinking of watching the debate on Twitter while listening to the Cubs so I can be at the ready with witty remarks the world can't live without. But also, pinatas.

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    We'll also have our usual Wednesday Studio Day, so stop by and make art or just hang.

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    Cubs Retweet: Panic! At The Disco
    "For Mighty Jason Heyward, pinch hitting for Addison Russell, struck out."

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    Obama's New Era Of Secret Law
    New Brennan Center report called "pretty stunning."

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    America's First Couturier
    "Main Rousseau Bocher (1890-1976) grew up in a modest home on Chicago's West Side. Educated at John Marshall High School and the Lewis Institute (a precursor to the Illinois Institute of Technology), Bocher transformed his interest in the arts into a fashion empire serving royalty, Hollywood icons and the social elite."

    See a preview of the new Mainbocher exhibit at the Chicago History Museum.

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    BeachBook

    The $5 Trillion War.

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    Harry Shearer Sues Vivendi Alleging Bullshit Spinal Tap Royalties.

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    TweetWood
    A sampling.

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    #ImGonnaMissHim.

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    Stella, stick your tongue out if you're being held against your will.

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    The Beachwood Tronc Line: Double ew.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:49 PM | Permalink

    Cubs Retweet: Panic! At The Disco

    There is no joy in Wrigleyville,
    for mighty Jason Heyward, pinch hitting for Addison Russell, struck out.

    You know who they missed in that moment? Tommy La Stella.

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    FYI: Tuesday afternoon.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:35 AM | Permalink

    Obama's New Era of Secret Law

    In the wake of 9/11, the U.S. government began creating what has now become an "unprecedented buildup" of secret laws, and even the recent public backlash against them has not stopped widespread use of covert rules that impact Americans' everyday lives without their knowledge, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice.

    The Department of Justice has kept classified at least 74 legal memos, opinions, and letters issued by the department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2002 to 2009 on national security issues - from torture to mass surveillance - according to the report, The New Era of Secret Law, written by Elizabeth Gotein, co-director of the center's Liberty and National Security Program.

    And the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, which rules on intelligence collecting activities, is also hiding 25 to 30 opinions issued between 2003 and 2013 "that were deemed significant by the Attorney General." In fact, most of the significant case law written before National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden's 2013 revelations remains undisclosed.

    Fully 42 percent of binding agreements between the U.S. and other countries are also unpublished, the report finds.

    The Washington Post spoke with Yale University international law professor Oona Hathaway, who said that number was "pretty stunning."

    The only legal groundwork for secret laws that regularly makes headlines are FISA and OLC opinions, Gotein notes. But there are other government entities that make law, and the increase of surveillance operations is a "potent force" behind the scenes. So where else is it occurring and how common is it?

    "In the realm of national security, where Congress tends to tread lightly, other sources of law predominate," Gotein writes for an Op-Ed in the New York Times.

    For example, the Administrative Procedure Act requires agencies to invite public comment for proposed rules, while FOIA requires them to publish final rules in the Federal Registry. But intelligence agencies "routinely" exploit a narrow exception to those requirements to avoid having to publish new rules, Gotein says. And most presidential directives regarding national security policy are kept hidden as well.

    All this means "[s]ecret law persists even in areas where we thought the secrecy had ended," she writes.

    Gotein continues:

    We pay a high price for this system. Secret law denies us the ability to shape the rules that govern official conduct through the democratic process. It prevents us from holding the government accountable for violations, rendering such violations more likely. It weakens checks and balances, as both legislative and judicial oversight operate less effectively under the constraints imposed by secrecy.

    Secret law is also bad law: When rules are developed by small groups of officials without the input of outside experts or stakeholders, their quality suffers. Indeed, an inherent conflict of interest exists when the executive branch enacts laws out of the public eye to govern its own actions. This can result in policies that are ineffective, ill advised, or even contrary to statutes or the Constitution.

    However, she notes, there has been some recent progress to rein in secret law, such as a 2015 ruling requiring more transparency in FISA rulings.

    "These changes are proof of concept, as the law in these areas has become far more accessible without harm to national security. We should now build on this progress," she writes.

    The report makes six recommendations to reform the prevalence of secret law throughout the government, including:

    • Using an already-existing inter-agency body of senior officials to make decisions on legal rules and interpretations;
    • Making the standard for keeping laws secret more stringent than the current standard;
    • Designating certain categories of law as ones that should never be kept secret, such as pure legal analysis containing no sensitive facts, and legal interpretations that aim to exempt government agencies from compliance with statutes;
    • Requiring the executive branch to immediately share new secret laws with other independent oversight bodies;
    • ,li> Placing a four-year time limit on secret law and allowing no more than two renewals total;

    • Creating a public database that lists all the information on secret rules and interpretations that can be made available.

    "Together, these reforms could help ensure that the law is withheld from the public only when the risk to national security outweighs countervailing harms," the report states. "But we must be vigilant, as secrecy in government is notoriously difficult to contain . . . The time has come to move past the modern era of secret law and return to the nation's historical commitment to legal transparency."

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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    Previously:

    * Obama Worst FOIA President Ever.

    * How Obama Undermined FOIA Reforms.

    * Obama's FOIA Fail.

    * Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

    * Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More Than Obama.

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

    * Technologists Turn On Obama.

    * EFF Sues NSA Over FOIA.

    * EFF Wins FOIA Battle Over Secret Legal Opinions On Government Spying.

    * Oscar And Pulitzer Award-Winning Journalist Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years Of Airport Detentions And Searches.

    * Obama: No Questions, Please!

    * Sunlight Wins 13 Years Of Federal Contract Data.

    * Workshop On Government's Openness Is Closed To Public.

    * Government Could Hide Existence Of Records Under FOIA Rule Proposal.

    * Trying (And Trying) To Get Records From The 'Most Transparent Administration' Ever.

    * Delayed, Denied, Dismissed: Failures On The FOIA Front.

    * SPJ, Again: Transparency Has Gotten Worse Under Obama.

    * Obama Snags General In Book Leak.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 AM | Permalink

    At The Chicago History Museum: The First American Couturier

    "Chicago-born Mainbocher established a fashion house serving royalty, Hollywood and the social elite. Featuring 30 garments, fashion illustrations and photography, this exhibition explores the life and legacy of a remarkable man and his journey to become the first American couturier. Opens October 22."


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    "By all accounts, Chicago-born Mainbocher should not have prospered as a high-end fashion designer. He had little formal training, opened his salon following the economic crash of 1929, and was an American working in the tightly regulated business of French dressmaking. His journey was long and complex. It saw him take on the roles of artist, musician, fashion illustrator, magazine editor, and dressmaker - each supporting his mastery of the next - each a step toward becoming the first American couturier."

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    From the press release:

    By examining the steps taken by Main Bocher to achieve great success as a couturier, this exhibition introduces visitors to the extraordinary career of Main Bocher and invites them to get know him as an arbiter of early- to mid-twentieth-century style," said Petra Slinkard, curator of costume, "This exhibition is the first of its kind, dedicated to the study and presentation of the work of Mainbocher."

    Main Rousseau Bocher (1890-1976) grew up in a modest home on Chicago's West Side. Educated at John Marshall High School and the Lewis Institute (a precursor to the Illinois Institute of Technology), Bocher transformed his interest in the arts into a fashion empire serving royalty, Hollywood icons and the social elite. As stated on his plaque on New York's Fashion Walk of Fame, "Mainbocher was known for the understated elegance of his couture clothing. Among his innovations were short evening dresses, jeweled sweaters, and a revival of the corset that anticipated Dior's New Look."

    Most famous for designing the wedding dress of the Duchess of Windsor in 1937, Mainbocher balanced his elite brand by creating uniforms for the Navy W.A.V.E.S. during World War II, the Girl Scouts of America and nursing students at Chicago's Passavant Memorial Hospital.

    Follow the trajectory of Main Bocher's life throughout the exhibition, discovering his bold career choices and unrelenting ambition which guided him through work in Chicago, Paris and New York. Exhibition highlights include a 1937 suit identical to one selected by the duchess for her trousseau, a stunning strapless ball gown worn by Mrs. Watson Armour III, two items donated by the couturier and samples of his uniforms.

    The gallery's interactive experiences invite visitors to step into a designer role: create a Mainbocher- inspired moniker, flip through sketchbooks featuring fashion illustrations of garments on view, and use Mainbocher's preferred colors, fabrics, and motifs to design a garment that is projected on a 3-D dress form in the gallery.

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    Samples:

    mainbocher1.jpgRed velvet dress; Ball gown with accessories, fall 1947.
    Gift of Mrs. Watson Armour, III; 1959

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    Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 7.45.36 AM.pngGrey skirt suit with "tulip" detail; Skirt suit, spring 1954. Gift of Miss Peggy Stanley; 1971.

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    Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 7.48.28 AM.pngColor blocked strapless ball gown; Ball gown, fall 1951. Gift of Mrs. Watson Armour, III; 1962.

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    Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 7.50.44 AM.pngGreen floral dress with stole; Dress with matching stole, spring 1965. Gift of Mrs. Dorothy H. Rautbord; 1980.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink

    October 18, 2016

    No, We Don't Want To See 'W' Flag Cupcakes

    Dear media: Stop. We're begging you.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    "Hundreds of abused and neglected Cook County children go without much-needed adult support each year because of lack of funding for the county's volunteer advocate program," Melissa Sanchez reports for the Chicago Reporter.

    "About 1 percent of some 5,800 current abuse and neglect cases in the county's child welfare system have adult volunteers assigned through the nonprofit Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, of Cook County."

    I hate to resort to a cliche, but lack of funding for those most in need is a cliche in itself: A society's budgets are moral documents.

    The need for more support for youth in foster care was illustrated by a recent report from the Office of the Inspector General for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The report detailed the tough, traumatic lives led by 11 foster youth who died in shootings during the two years prior to June 30, 2015. One of them was 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot dead by a Chicago police officer in 2014. All 11 youth were African American or Latino, as are the majority of foster youth in Cook County. (See the response from DCFS.)

    "In my ideal world, I'd like to serve all 5,800 [cases]" said Mark Dinglasan, CASA's executive director. Instead, with a current budget of just $500,000 and not enough staff to train and oversee volunteers, the organization can handle only 75 cases (about 140 children). Meanwhile, Juvenile Court judges send three to four requests for advocates to CASA each week. Overall, the number of abuse and neglect cases has held steady in recent years at about 6,000 annually.

    Please click through and read the whole thing.

    Deplorable Peter
    "U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, walked away from reporters on Monday who asked about the effect of Donald Trump on the Republican Party," WBEZ reports.

    "Oh heaven help me," Roskam said as he turned and left the College of DuPage in west suburban Glen Ellyn.

    Roskam and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner were at the college for a town hall meeting. The majority of the questions from the audience focused on the state's budget problems.

    But after the event, reporters swarmed Roskam, who has given conflicting answers about whether he supports Trump.

    Roskam first told editorial boards he supported Trump, then said Trump still had to earn his vote. Roskam eventually went back to supporting Trump.

    Look, if we wanted a congressman who couldn't make up his mind about Donald Trump, we'd have elected Ken Bone. Search your heart, Peter - if you can find it.

    Rahm's Raises Ruse
    "Hefty pay raises granted to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's personal staff are not what they appear, a top mayoral aide said Monday," the Sun-Times reports.

    Oooh oooh oooh, me, me me!

    A) If you take the raises as a percentage of the budget . . .

    B) Given the skills of these folks, we'll actually save money in the end . . .

    C) It's a lot less than they'd make in the private sector . . .

    D) If you squint hard enough, they're actually cuts.

    "' just want to caution that the appearance of large increases may very well not be due to an actual increase in somebody's salary. It simply might be the way this budget book lines up,' [budget director Alexandra] Holt said, acknowledging that a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment for nonunion employees took effect July 1."

    Crap, E) Gobbledygook.

    "Because we have a very old budgeting system, you can't actually look at the budget book and determine who's gotten what kind of increase."

    Where can we look, then?

    The salaries are lined up in salary order from the largest down within a particular title class. So, what you'll see is a 2016 position where somebody might actually be making just as much in 2017 as they were in '16, but because of the way the salaries are ordered within the book, it appears that they weren't."

    I know these are words that seem to be arranged into sentences, but I still can't figure out what they mean.

    "The other thing that's possible is that $112,000 you're seeing there in '16 is still $112,000 in 2017. It's just the way the positions line up along that same title. It's appearing lower down on the list and somebody else has jumped up over them and it looks like the $112,000 has gone to $150,000. It's a problem with a very old system, and one that we need to fix because it's one that actually confuses me every year."

    Am I having a stroke?

    Ald. John Arena (45th) was not totally satisfied with the budget director's explanation. He asked for a side-by-side comparison of salaries and positions in the mayor's office this year and next.

    "If we have positions that were $150,000 last year, even if we're hiring a new person in the same position for $183,000, what changed in that position? What are the roles and responsibilities that have changed to justify a $30,000 increase in that position?" Arena said.

    "Clearly, we have two other people in that position that are doing it for $150,000. What's the difference?

    Is this gonna be on the test?

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    Tortured Gitmo Diary Author Finally Free
    Held for 14 years without charge; case led Guardian reporter to Homan Square.

    Another Obama Leak Investigation
    Retired general pleads guilty in case involving a New York Times reporter's book.

    Tape, Ranked
    From surveillance to hockey.

    Hawt In Chicago
    Some fires can't be contained (wink, wink, groan).

    Step Up Ladder Safety
    The "Fatal Four:" Falls, electrocutions, struck by object, and caught-in/between.

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock
    Featuring: Deap Vally, Okkervil River, Electric Six, Nam Land, Toxic Holocaust, Kaleo, Discharge, Lindsey Stirling, Lewis Del Mar, Ayokay, Moon Taxi, Death From Above 1979, Sia, Vanilla Ice, Coolio, Salt N Pepa, Color Me Badd, OneRepublic, Declan McKenna, Soul Assassins, Moon Hooch, Tom Odell, 7 Minutes In Heaven, Simple Plan, Brett Naucke, Banal Anml, Dweezil Zappa, and Parkway Drive.

    From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

    Wild About Harry & The 1988 Cubs
    Holy freakin' cow, they put this on TV?

    The Cub Factor: Joe Blows!
    Is the magic man with the Midas touch managing tight?

    No, We Don't Want To See 'W' Flag Cupcakes
    Dear media: Stop. We're begging you.

    Bears Not So Foxy
    When you go from savior to irritant to punch line, you're generally on your way out the door.

    Breakfast In America: Chill, People
    For once, English football is calmer than the U.S. populous. Some advice.

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    BeachBook

    The New York Times' Exceedingly Well-Crafted Account of Game 2 Against The Dodgers.

    *

    NYT: Javier Baez Is Leaving His Mark On The Playoffs.

    *

    Miguel Montero Attends Mass At Wrigley Field.

    *

    Revolution Brewing Recalls Six Of Its Best-Selling Beers.

    *

    Why Is The U.S. Green Party So Irrelevant?

    *

    Two Trillion Galaxies, At The Very Least.

    *

    Striking New Research On Inequality: 'Whatever You Thought, It's Worse.'

    *

    Wikileaks E-Mails Show Clinton Aides Cowering In Fear Of Seeming To Care About The Poor.

    *

    The Pathogens Of Wells Fargo Fester In Every Large Corporation.

    -

    TweetWood
    A sampling.

    *

    *

    No big whoop.

    -

    The Beachwood Tronc Line: A big whoop.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:40 AM | Permalink

    Retired U.S. General Pleads Guilty In 'Stuxnet' Leak Case Involving Book By New York Times Reporter

    A retired U.S. Marine Corps general who last served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pleaded guilty on Monday in a federal court to making false statements to the FBI during an investigation into leaks of classified information.

    Four-star General James Cartwright was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2012 over a book written by New York Times reporter David Sanger, which exposed a malicious computer software program known as "Stuxnet" designed to disrupt Iran's nuclear program.

    stux.JPG

    Cartwright also in 2012 confirmed classified information about an unnamed country to Daniel Klaidman, then a reporter for Newsweek, according to his plea agreement.

    He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in September 2011, four months before he began providing information to Sanger, the plea agreement said.

    "I knew I was not the source of the story, and I didn't want to be blamed for the leak," said Cartwright of his effort to mislead FBI agents in a statement released after he pleaded guilty on Monday. "My only goal in talking to the reporters was to protect American interests and lives."

    Cartwright's guilty plea was for his false statements to FBI agents, not for speaking to the reporters, said Cartwright's attorney Gregory Craig, of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, in a separate statement: "His effort to prevent publication of information that might harm American lives of national security does not constitute a violation of any law."

    Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the hearing. A false statements conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, but prosecutors and Cartwright's attorneys agreed his offense merited a sentence ranging from zero to six months.

    Reuters and several other news outlets have previously reported that Stuxnet was developed jointly by U.S. and Israeli forces. Both the U.S. and Israel have never publicly admitted responsibility for Stuxnet.

    Stuxnet was a sophisticated computer virus deployed covertly in 2009 and 2010 to sabotage Iran's nuclear program. The worm, parts of which surfaced publicly in 2010 due to a programing error that allowed it to spread across the open Internet, is believed to have destroyed a thousand or more centrifuges that were enriching uranium.

    Cartwright has long been the target of a Justice Department probe investigating the source of leaks about Stuxnet to the New York Times.

    U.S. District Judge Richard Leon on Monday tentatively scheduled Cartwright's sentencing for Jan. 17, 2017, and acknowledged that part of the sentencing might be closed to allow for discussion of classified information.

    -

    The book: Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power.

    President Obama's administration came to office with the world on fire. Confront and Conceal is the story of how, in his first term, Obama secretly used the most innovative weapons and tools of American power, including our most sophisticated - and still unacknowledged - arsenal of cyberweapons, aimed at Iran's nuclear program.

    Washington and the world were rocked by Confront and Conceal, which goes deep into the Situation Room as Obama questions whether this new weapon can slow Iran and avoid a war - or whether it will create blowback, as the Iranians and others retaliate with cyberattacks on the United States.

    It describes how the bin Laden raid worsened the dysfunctional relationship with Pakistan, and how Obama's early idealism about fighting a "war of necessity" in Afghanistan quickly turned to fatigue, frustration, and now withdrawal.

    As the world seeks to understand how Obama will cope with nationalistic leaders in Beijing, a North Korea bent on developing a nuclear weapon that can reach American shores, and an Arab world where promising revolutions turned to chaos, Confront and Conceal - with an updated epilogue for this paperback edition - provides an unflinching account of these complex years of presidential struggle, in which America's ability to exert control grows ever more elusive.

    From Thomas Ricks' review in the Times:

    "Is the United States at war with Iran? If David Sanger's account in his new book, Confront and Conceal, on President Obama's foreign policy, is to be believed - and I find it very believable - we certainly are . . .

    "The virtue of this book - its foundation of White House sources who give the author insiders' material like a transcript of Mr. Obama's last telephone call with the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak - is also its weakness. That is, Mr. Sanger shows us the world through the eyes of Mr. Obama, Mr. Donilon and those around him. But he also tends to depict Washington and the world as they see it. The perceptions of White House officials, especially in the first year of the Obama presidency, which saw a steep learning curve for the president and those around him, are not always dispositive."

    From NPR:

    "On Monday's Fresh Air, Sanger talks about the president's changing foreign policy strategies in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where early idealism in the White House eventually transitioned into a policy called 'Afghan Good Enough.'

    "'Afghan Good Enough,' the nickname of a committee organized to narrow the goals in Afghanistan, met regularly with the president to determine what was considered 'good enough' in terms of goals for the country.

    "'The kind of conversations that took place within that group represented a realpolitik that no one ever admits to on Sunday morning talk shows,' writes Sanger. 'One participant told me later, 'We spent the time asking questions like, How much corruption can we live with?'"

    -

    See also:
    * When Reporters Discover Selective Leak Targeting.

    * Obama Defends Leak Prosecutions.

    * Obama's Efforts To Control Leaks 'Most Aggressive Since Nixon,' Report Finds.

    -

    Previously:

    * Obama Worst FOIA President Ever.

    * How Obama Undermined FOIA Reforms.

    * Obama's FOIA Fail.

    * Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

    * Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More Than Obama.

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

    * Technologists Turn On Obama.

    * EFF Sues NSA Over FOIA.

    * EFF Wins FOIA Battle Over Secret Legal Opinions On Government Spying.

    * Oscar And Pulitzer Award-Winning Journalist Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years Of Airport Detentions And Searches.

    * Obama: No Questions, Please!

    * Sunlight Wins 13 Years Of Federal Contract Data.

    * Workshop On Government's Openness Is Closed To Public.

    * Government Could Hide Existence Of Records Under FOIA Rule Proposal.

    * Trying (And Trying) To Get Records From The 'Most Transparent Administration' Ever.

    * Delayed, Denied, Dismissed: Failures On The FOIA Front.

    * SPJ, Again: Transparency Has Gotten Worse Under Obama.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:07 AM | Permalink

    Tape, Ranked

    11. Surveillance

    10. Red

    9. Sex

    8. Ticker

    7. Magnetic

    6. Double-sided

    5. Electrical

    4. Masking

    3. Duct

    2. Mix

    1. Hockey

    - Tim Willette, Marty Gangler, Steve Rhodes

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

    Breakfast In America: Chill Out, People

    Imagine, for a moment, that a person exists at the intersection of Venn diagrams "Trump Hater," "Chicago Bears Fan Troll" and "AFC Bournemouth Supporter." That person just had a pretty damn good week.

    That person is me.

    Through my elation, however, I uncovered an unpleasant truth: People are on edge. And it seems that saying "Chill Out!" won't do the trick. In many people's minds, there is a lot at stake in this election. And the Bears gave up a 13-point lead at home to a very, very, very pedestrian Jaguars team. Oh, and the Cubs are 1-1 in the National League Championship Series, having dropped a game to the Dodgers at Wrigley to lose home-field advantage. So, frankly, nobody is going to chill out until 2017.

    We certainly cannot look to English football for great guidance, because that scene isn't one to utter the words "Serenity Now." But, for once, I believe English football is calmer than the U.S. populace. So perhaps a few key pieces of advice will at least incrementally improve the mood here at home.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: Based on all historical data available from the beginning of time, beating a team 6-1 is roughly the equivalent to a handegg ball-team winning 42-7. I'm sure Bears fans remember that one time that happened because their nickname is based on one goddamn game.

    Brunch Special: All You Can Eat Goals: Tottenham v Bournemouth - Many people love a good seafood brunch. But because I'm allergic to shellfish, I hate it. Tottenham beat Bournemouth 5-1 twice last year. So you enjoy the peel-and-eat and I'll go to the store for Benadryl.

    Population of the Cherry Nation: Seven. Me, my high school friend who lives in Montana, the new Bournemouth signing American Emerson Hyndman (whose home kit is sponsored by us ), a guy in Florida, and a three guys from a Facebook AFCB fan page.

    Sugar in the Cherry Kool-Aid: Sure, Hull City stinks. But beating them is one thing, but winning 6-1 is a whole different thing. But like actual Kool-Aid, your mom calls her mother-in-law as an emergency babysitter. Grammy brings vodka so she can "get through the day." And since you've been cool all day, she lets you sip from her grape/vodka elixir. It causes a weird feeling. But it's a good weird, a feeling you know won't last but you hope you don't feel like crap the next day. Like when you have to play Tottenham on Saturday at 6:30 a.m. CT.

    Percent Sugar in the Cherry Kool-Aid: This Week: 242%. Last Week: 75%.

    -

    Previously in Breakfast In America:
    * Which EPL Team Are You?

    * Know Your Terminology.

    * Lowest Common Denominator™.

    * Recruitment Do's And Don'ts.

    * Aboard The Dethloon Express.

    * Race To The Bottom.

    * My Aunt's Nuts.

    * The Guaranteed Rate EPL.

    * Our Ann Coulter.

    * Old Wives And Walking Sticks.

    -

    Breakfast In America on Facebook.

    -

    Eric Emery is our man on the EPL and the EPT. He welcomes your comments.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 AM | Permalink

    Abducted, Tortured And Held 14 Years Without Trial, Gitmo Diary Author Finally Free

    Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who documented his torture and imprisonment in the 2015 Guantánamo Diary, on Monday was finally returned home to his native Mauritania.

    Upon his release, Slahi said, "I feel grateful and indebted to the people who have stood by me. I have come to learn that goodness is transnational, transcultural, and trans-ethnic. I'm thrilled to reunite with my family."

    One of Guantánamo's longest-held detainees, Slahi's transfer comes 14 years after he was first brought to the offshore U.S. military prison, where he was held without charge or trial. In his critically-acclaimed memoir, the 44-year-old electrical engineer recounted his "endless world tour" of CIA black sites in Jordan, Afghanistan, and eventually Cuba, where he was abused and tortured.

    160603_pol_mohamedou-ould-slahi.jpg.crop_.promo-xlarge2.jpgNow free, Mohamedou Ould Slahi at the U.S. military's Guantánamo Bay Detention Center/International Committee of the Red Cross

    Slahi's "odyssey . . . began in 2001 when, at the behest of the U.S. government, Mauritanian authorities detained Slahi after he voluntarily went in for questioning," the American Civil Liberties Union noted on Monday.

    In a column, Hina Shamsi, one of Slahi's attorneys and director of the ACLU's National Security Project, detailed some of his ordeal:

    Mohamedou was one of two so-called "Special Projects" whose cruel treatment Rumsfeld personally approved. The abuse he suffered included beatings, extreme isolation, sleep deprivation, frigid rooms, shackling in stress positions, and threats against both Mohamedou and his mother, to whom he was very close. Mohamedou's mother died in 2012, without ever seeing her son again.

    In 2010, a federal district court judge determined Mohamedou's detention was unlawful and ordered him released. The U.S. government successfully appealed that decision, and the habeas case is still pending.

    Looking forward, Shamsi said, "All of us on Mohamedou's team are focused on ensuring he has a cushion of love, support, counseling, and space to adjust after 14 long years in which he was denied his human rights. We already know how resilient Mohamedou is." She further noted he now plans to "write and work, establish a charity, and care for his family."

    The military's Periodic Review Board cleared Slahi for release in July of this year. Among the evidence submitted in his favor was a letter of support by a former U.S. military guard who was assigned to Slahi for 10 months at at Guantánamo.

    "We are overjoyed for Mohamedou and his family, and his release brings the U.S. one man closer to ending the travesty that is Guantánamo," Shamsi added in a press statement. "Dozens of other men still remain trapped in Guantánamo. With time running out, President Obama must double down and not just close the prison, but end the unlawful practice of indefinite detention that it represents."

    In fact, 60 prisoners remain in Guantánamo, 19 of whom have been cleared for release.

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

    -

    See also . . .

    From the Guardian:

    -

    Note: Spencer Ackerman's reporting on Slahi and his diary led him to the story of Chicago police detective Richard Zuley, which led him to the story of Homan Square.

    -

    Previously in torture:
    * Doc Of Rages.

    * They Said No To Torture.

    * The Trews: What Should We Think About CIA Torture.

    * The Tortured History Of The Senate Torture Report.

    * Torture USA.

    * The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama.

    * Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA.

    * The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You May Never See.

    * Guantanamo: If The Light Goes Out.

    * The Prison That Just Can't Be Closed.

    * Barack Obama's Secret Island Prison.

    * Guantanamo Prisoner Lifts Lid.

    * Read The Fucking Torture Report, People.

    * American Torture Story - Chicago Chapter.

    * Obama Administration Blocks Release Of New Torture Details.

    * REVEALED: The Boom And Bust Of The CIA's Secret Torture Sites.

    * Torture By Iraqi Militias: The Report Washington Did Not Want You To See.

    * 'Stunning:' CIA Admits 'Mistakenly' Deleting Copy of Senate Torture Report.

    * Incommunicado' Forever: Gitmo Detainee's Case Stalled For 2,477 Days And Counting.

    * The Terror Suspect Who Had Nothing To Give.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

    October 17, 2016

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. Deap Vally at the House of Blues on Thursday night.


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    2. Okkervil River at the Metro on Friday night.

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    3. Electric Six at the Double Door on Friday night.

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    4. Nam Land at Reggies on Saturday night.

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    5. Toxic Holocaust at Reggies on Saturday night.

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    6. Discharge at Reggies on Saturday night.

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    7. Lindsey Stirling at the Rosemont Theatre on Thursday night.

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    8. Kaleo at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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    9. Lewis Del Mar at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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    10. Ayokay feat. Quinn XCII at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.

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    11. Moon Taxi at Park West on Friday night.

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    12. Death From Above 1979 at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

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    13. Sia at the West Side arena on Sunday night.

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    14. Salt N Pepa at the Rosemont arena on Friday night.

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    15. Coolio at the Rosemont arena on Friday night.

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    16. Color Me Badd at the Rosemont arena on Friday night.

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    17. Vanilla Ice at the Rosemont arena on Friday night.

    -

    18. OneRepublic at the Vic on Friday night.

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    19. Declan McKenna at the Aragon on Friday night.

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    20. Soul Assassins at the Elbo Room on Thursday night.

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    21. Moon Hooch at Martyrs' on Friday night.

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    22. Tom Odell at Park West on Thursday night.

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    23. 7 Minutes In Heaven at Wire in Berywn on Thursday night.

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    24. Simple Plan at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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    25. Brett Naucke at Heavy Petting on Thursday night.

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    26. Banal Anml at Heavy Petting on Thursday night.

    -

    Catching up with . . .

    Dweezil Zappa at the Concord last Wednesday night.

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    Parkway Drive at the House of Blues last Wednesday night.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    Tweeting The Bears | Not So Foxy

    John Fox on the hot seat, y'all.

    "The remaining fans wanted the Bears to hear it Sunday, jeering as loud as they could after having very little to cheer about on the field. But there weren't enough fans left at Soldier Field for it to matter," Adam Jahns writes for the Sun-Times. "The apathy is real. The Bears are bad. Everyone knows it."

    And how. And now Fox is the focus:

    "Add it all up, and the rest of the season becomes a true measure of who John Fox is as a coach. He hasn't delivered a Year  2 turnaround, as he did with the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. In Chicago, his narrative has changed completely - to one of failure."

    And if Fox is a failure, where does that put general manager Ryan Pace - and better yet, the management team of George McCaskey and Ted Phillips, who aren't faring any better than previous management teams like Michael McCaskey and Ted Phillips? Maybe that's your answer.

    "This is truly a time of dejection, and it's on Fox to fix it. If he can't, he undoubtedly will enter his third season on the hot seat. He only has a four-year contract."

    The countdown has already begun - and the media is primed for it. Karma is a bitch, Foxy.

    "Last week, Bears coach John Fox decided to take a swipe at anybody who dared to see that his quarterback missed a wide-open receiver on a critical play. Instead of just acknowledging the error, he chose to insult those whose job it is to notice such things," Dan Bernstein of The Score notes.

    Indeed, Fox has been supremely antagonistic toward the media in his time here. Now he'll pay.

    *

    "Sure, the Chicago Bears have problems at home under John Fox (2-9), but Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley is 5-21 on the road," Jeff Dickerson writes for ESPN.

    Outcoached by Gus Bradley.

    *

    "The Bears' 17-16 collapse on Sunday is the low point of the Fox era. The Bears have regressed in Year 2 under Fox. There is no growth right now that anyone in the organization can identify for next year."

    Indeed.

    *

    Even Bears fans are embarrassing themselves.

    *

    Finally . . .

    Ouch.

    When you go from savior to irritant to punch line, you're generally on your way out the door.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:02 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor: Joe Blows!

    Is the magic man with the Midas touch managing tight?

    Sure seems that way!

    After sitting Jason Heyward against Madison Bumgarner in the Giants series in a game the Cubs seemed a bit wigged out about, Joe Maddon let Heyward bat against Clayton Kershaw with two on Sunday night in the only shot the team had at breaking through against the Dodgers ace.

    Hey Joe, try to not let the pressure exceed the pleasure!

    Maddon also continues to stubbornly misuse Aroldis Chapman, insisting the otherwise-dominant closer enter dirty eighth innings for which he clearly isn't built.

    Hey Joe, try not to suck!

    This is not time for Joe Cool to lose his, um, cool.

    Hey Joe, try not to be John Fox!

    I can't believe I'm gonna say this, but break out the onesies! Stick with the formula. It works. And the only way to keep your players and your fans from panicking is to not do so yourself.

    -

    The Week in Review: The Cubs closed out the Giants in Game 4 of the league division series after losing Game 3, and opened the league championship series with a split of games against the Dodgers at Wrigley. So they went 2-2 for the week. That's kind of middling!

    The Week in Preview: Three games in LA before coming home to break fans' hearts at Wrigley.

    Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. In fact, Szczur isn't even on the roster for this series, giving way to the relatively surging Albert Almora. In the Cubs' 13-inning loss to the Giants in Game 3 of the NLDS, Jorge Soler started in left, to be followed by Ben Zobrist, who started in right, Chris Coghlan and Willy Contreras. In right, Zobrist was followed by Jason Heyward and Albert Almora. In Game 4, Zobrist started in left and moved to second; he was replaced by Contreras. Heyward started in right and moved to center; he was replaced by Soler. Almora then pinch-hit. Or something like that. In Game 1 against the Dodgers, Zobrist played the whole game in left and Heyward played the whole game in right. Same for Game 2 against the Dodgers, when Maddon inexplicably didn't pinch-hit for Heyward with two on in the one opportunity the Cubs had to break through against Clayton Kershaw, even though Maddon sat Heyward against Madison Bumgarner in the Giants' series.

    Annoying Former Cub of the Week: Dusty Baker.

    Annoying Current Cub of the Week: Joe Maddon.

    Mad(don) Scientist: When the mad scientist goes too far.

    Kubs Kalendar: The first 45,000 fans attending Sunday's Game 7 at Wrigley Field will get a free helping of heartburn.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs are quite capable of losing this series.

    -

    This is The Cub Factor. We welcome your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:15 AM | Permalink

    Step Up Ladder Safety

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Ladders are tools that allow homeowners and construction workers to climb up closer to important tasks that they need to work on, but they can also put people dangerously close to overhead power lines. Knowing where power lines and other potential hazards are should be part of the planning process for any outdoor project involving ladders. Whether it is trimming trees, cleaning gutters, or repairing a roof, Safe Electricity provides tips to help all those using ladders to do so safely.

    "Knowing what is overhead and what is over your head could save your life," says Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council and its Safe Electricity program.

    6-4-12-DIY.png

    According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, of the more than 4,000 worker fatalities in private industry in 2014, one in five worker deaths were in construction. The top causes of these tragedies are called the "Fatal Four," which are falls, electrocutions, struck by object, and caught-in/between. When working with ladders, falling is the top safety concern, and contact with overhead power lines presents the second highest risk.

    In August 2016, the Dayton Daily News in Ohio reported on an incident in which two people replacing a roof on a church each received a serious electrical shock while in the process of relocating a ladder. Also in August, NBC 2 out of Fort Myers, Fla. reported that a 20-year-old man lost his life when he and a co-worker accidentally leaned their ladder against overhead power lines.

    "It can be very easy to overlook electric lines that connect homes and businesses to the power grid. We see them every day, and they can blend into the background, especially when engrossed in a project," explains Hall. "That is why it is so important, before tackling any outdoor project, to take a few minutes to prepare to do the job safely."

    Safe Electricity shares the following ladder safety tips:

    • Always look up and look out for overhead power lines or equipment.
    • Keep yourself and ladders far away - at least 10 feet in all directions, at all times - from power lines, including service lines.
    • Carry ladders horizontally.
    • Make sure that the area above the ladder is clear before placing it upright.
    • Long ladders may be unwieldy, so ask for help in carrying and setting them up.
    • Always make sure that the ladder is on a solid, level surface before attempting to climb.
    • Inspect the ladder before and after use to make sure that there is no damage that could put users in danger.

    "It's also important for homeowners to recognize that some projects may be beyond their expertise," adds Hall. "Be willing to hire a professional for projects that involve work close to electrical equipment."

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    The Energy Education Council is a 501(c 3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety and energy efficiency. Established in 1952, the Council is headquartered within University of Illinois Extension and serves as a forum for diverse utility and energy organizations to collaborate on the mutually vital issues of efficiency and safety.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

    Wild About Harry And The 1988 Cubs

    Holy Cow, this (and the rest) actually appeared on TV.

    1. Wild About Harry.


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    2. Tickets For The Upcoming Season.

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    3. WGN Theme.

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    4. Dave Duerson and Andre Dawson.

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    5. Under The Lights Special.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:29 AM | Permalink

    Hot In Chicago

    "The first installment in Hot in Chicago, a brand-new, sizzling series from Kate Meader that follows a group of firefighting foster siblings and their blazing hot love interests!"


    "Savvy PR guru Kinsey Taylor has always defined herself by her career, not her gender. That is, until she moved from San Francisco to Chicago to be with her fiance, who thought she wasn't taking her 'job' of supporting him in his high-powered career seriously enough and promptly dumped her for a more supportive and feminine nurse.

    "Now, as the new assistant press secretary to Chicago's dynamic mayor, she's determined to keep her eye on the prize: no time to feel inferior because she's a strong, kick-ass woman, and certainly no time for men.

    "But that all changes when she meets Luke Almeida, a firefighter as searingly sexy as he is quick-tempered. He's also the second oldest of the Firefightin' Dempseys, a family of foster siblings who have committed their lives to the service - if Luke's antics don't get him fired first.

    "When Luke goes one step too far and gets into a bar brawl with the Chicago Police Department, Kinsey marches into Luke's firehouse and lays down the law on orders from the mayor. But at Engine Co. 6, Luke Almeida is the law. And he's not about to let Kinsey make the rules."

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:05 AM | Permalink

    The Rock Sent Us To War And Other True Tales Of Deception

    A look at HyperNormalisation, the excellent new documentary from Adam Curtis that will make your head explode.


    -

    See also:
    * MI6 Stood By Bogus Intelligence Until After Iraq Invasion.

    * How Michael Bay's The Rock Was Used to Justify War in Iraq.

    * 'It Was Such Obvious Bullshit': The Rock Writer Shocked Film May Have Inspired False WMD Intelligence.

    -

    The trailer:

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    See also:
    * BBC: Adam Curtis On Why You Life Doesn't Make Sense.

    * Guardian: Adam Curtis Plots A Path From Syria To Trump, Via Jane Fonda.

    * Curtis's trailer for Vice:

    -

    Also: The Trews is back. Today we take a look at the bizarre spectacle that is the U.S. election debate.

    -

    Previously in The Trews, like the news if the news were true:
    * What Should We Think About CIA Torture?

    * CIA Torture: Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Lifts Lid.

    * Coca-Cola's Christmas Commercial.

    * The Sainsbury Christmas Ad.

    * Who Is Our Real Common Enemy?

    * Budweiser's Super Bowl Commercial.

    * About Those Super Bowl Ads.

    * Government Spying: Who's The Biggest Threat To Your Security?

    * Ferguson's Minstrels.

    * If Politics Is Dead, Is The Election Its Funeral?

    * Is Rupert Murdoch More Powerful Than Your Vote?

    * What Does It Mean To Support The Troops?

    * Am I Mad Enough To Crash A Plane Into A Mountain?

    * The Trews' Final Episode: On Cyclical, Scripted Journalism.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:19 AM | Permalink

    October 16, 2016

    The Weekend Desk Report

    A lot of these journalists proclaiming their love of Bob Dylan clearly do not get what he's been saying all these years or they would conduct themselves quite differently.

    Same for a lot of Bruce Springsteen fans.

    As Kurt Cobain sang,

    He's the one
    Who likes all our pretty songs
    And he likes to sing along
    And he likes to shoot his gun
    But he knows not what it means
    Knows not what it means

    Or, as Roger Waters sang: Did you understand the music, Yoko, or was it all in vain?

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    The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Beach Slang has wowed critics and audiences alike with its loud, energy filled live performances and unabashedly earnest lyrics. But in front of a live audience at the Goose Island Tap Room, Beach Slang songwriter James Alex strips away the volume, but not the heart, for an intimate acoustic performance and conversation with Jim and Greg. Plus, the new record by Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers, and the story behind a forgotten garage classic."

    -

    Beachwood Sports Radio: Happy Yom Cubpur
    Cubs are ridiculous. Plus: Dodger Dogs, The Dusty Baker Show, L.A.'s Leftorium, The Suddenly Crowded Grandpa Rossy Bandwagon, The Bears Are Connor Barth's Team Now, The Derrick Rose Trial Gets Uglier And Uglier, Meet The Bulls' New Folk Hero, And Blackhawks Blues.

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    Weekend BeachBook

    Whiskey Workers Strike At Two Kentucky Distilleries Of Chicago-Based Jim Beam.

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    Weekend TweetWood

    And:

    Here's a misleading characterization; enthusiasm for Clinton has not changed in any meaningful way. What this shows is enthusiasm for Trump plunging.

    Also:

    -

    The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: Post-mortem.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:52 AM | Permalink

    October 14, 2016

    The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #123: The Cubs Are Ridiculous

    Happy Yom Cub-pur. Plus: Dodger Dogs, The Dusty Baker Show, L.A.'s Leftorium, The Suddenly Crowded Grandpa Rossy Bandwagon, The Bears Are Connor Barth's Team Now, The Derrick Rose Trial Gets Uglier And Uglier, Meet The Bulls' New Folk Hero, And Blackhawks Blues.



    * 123.

    :56: The Cubs Are Ridiculous.

    * Greatest Cub-back ever?

    * Yom Cub-pur.

    * Olney: Giants Tried Desperately To Fix Their Bullpen Woes.

    * Van Schouwen: Patient Rizzo Gets Cubs Offense Going - With Ninth-Inning Walk.

    11:48: Dodger Dogs.

    * Cubs Undecided On NLCS Rotation Beyond Jon Lester In Game 1.

    18:20: The Dusty Baker Show.

    21:40: L.A.'s Leftorium.

    * A date with the Dodgers:

    The biggest difference between the teams comes against left-handed pitching. The Dodgers ranked last in baseball with a woeful .214 batting average and a .623 OPS against lefties while the Cubs' .807 OPS ranked second. That discrepancy might mean adding a bullpen arm from the left side for the Cubs as Joe Maddon indicated rookie Rob Zastryzny could be in play as he impressed in his one month in the big leagues compiling a 1.12 ERA in 16 big league innings. He would join Travis Wood, Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman as lefties in the bullpen if the Cubs so desire. Jon Lester is the lone lefty starter and will take the ball in Game 1.

    * Rizzo.

    * Clayton Kurveshaw:

    34:10: The Suddenly Crowded Grandpa Rossy Bandwagon.

    * Coffman, Gangler Give In.

    * Morrissey: An Unbeliever Starts To Soften On The David Ross Phenomenon.

    * Rozner: David Ross Can't Explain Why Cubs Fans Love Him.

    * Grandpa Rossy on Instagram.

    * The reverse polarity of Cubbie occurences.

    45:10: The Bears Are Connor Barth's Team Now.

    * Brian McHoyer.

    * The Hail Alshon. Or The Hailshon.

    * Jahns: Brian Hoyer Was Good But Jay Cutler Beats The Colts.

    Rhodes: Please.

    Bennett: "I'd be open and (Cutler would) throw into double-coverage."

    56:05: The Derrick Rose Trial Just Gets Uglier And Uglier.

    58:01: Meet The Bulls' New Folk Hero.

    1:00:13: Blackhawk Blues.

    * Trevor Van Lines.

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    STOPPAGE: 3:50

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    For archives and other shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:53 PM | Permalink

    The [Friday] Papers

    "Mayor Rahm Emanuel is giving sizeable pay raises to his personal staff - even as he continues to freeze the salaries of city department heads," the Sun-Times reports.

    "Tucked away in Emanuel's proposed, 2017 budget is a new, $112,000-a-year assistant to the mayor and pay raises as high as 30 percent for existing members of the mayor's staff."

    To be fair, we can all agree that members of the mayor's staff deserve a Cost of Living With Rahm Adjustment.

    *

    "The overall budget for the mayor's office will rise by five percent - from $5.96 million this year to $6.28 million in 2017. That's even after there is only one addition to a mayor's office staff that currently includes 68 employees."

    Hey, it's not cheap developing strategies to persuade the public that teachers should take a pay cut.

    *

    "But, 45 members of Emanuel's staff are in line for pay raises, some of them sizeable increases."

    If only they were in a union - then Rahm would be tightening their belts.

    *

    "Emanuel's communications director Adam Collins [$138,002] made reference to Zopp, without mentioning her by name, in an e-mail to the Chicago Sun-Times defending the pay raises in the mayor's office."

    They don't pay him enough to pick up the phone.

    "'First, the overall headcount in the office has not changed. There were some new hires . . . and we made some structural changes in the office months ago to focus on neighborhoods and economic development,' Collins wrote.

    "'The team here will continue to focus our work on expanding opportunity for every resident of Chicago, and investing in every neighborhood of Chicago.'"

    With the money we have left over after paying ourselves.

    "At the same time he's rewarding members of his own staff, Emanuel continues to freeze the pay of city department heads, most of them for the sixth straight budget."

    This tells you something about the hierarchy at City Hall, where a press aide wields more power than . . . a department head.

    "The lone exception is Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans. She remains the city's highest-paid public official with an annual salary of $300,000, compared to the $186,576 paid to her predecessor Rosemarie Andolino.

    "The 61 percent pay raise helped lure the hard-charging Evans to Chicago from the nation's capital in May, 2015, where she served as vice president of engineering for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority."

    To be fair, you had to offer a lot to lure an airports vice president in Washington to the far bigger and more prestigious top job in Chicago.

    "Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, Emanuel's surprise pick to replace fired Supt. Garry McCarthy, ranks second among department heads.

    "Johnson inherited the $260,004-a-year salary negotiated by McCarthy before Emanuel pulled the rug out from under his only superintendent in the unrelenting furor that followed release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video nearly a year ago."

    So the aviation commissioner makes more than the police chief.

    "The deputy chief of staff who fills the line item jumping by $30,012-a-year - to $185,004 a year - is Andrea Zopp."

    To the Beachwood vault, May 21, 2015:

    "Since those initial statements, however, Vitale has declined to comment further. So has Ruiz, who was named acting schools CEO after Byrd-Bennett took a leave of absence. The other board members who voted for the [SUPES] deals did not respond to Tribune inquiries or said little.

    "I'd really rather not talk about it," said Andrea Zopp, a school board member and former prosecutor who last week announced her bid for the 2016 Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

    But Zopp's all-time greatest hit was this one:

    *

    So, in summary:

    "A handful of top mayoral aides received raises despite Chicago's tough economic times."

    Oh, wait, that was from Rahm's first budget in 2011, and I'm sure every subsequent budget since.

    -

    Beachwood Photo Booth: AAA Sales
    Bonds and batteries.

    Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break
    Misleading insinuations by both.

    Brian Hoyer, Fantasy Darling
    No contest vs. Cutler.

    The Week In Chicago Rock
    Featuring: Die Antwoord, Alestorm, Robert Plant, Nekrogoblikon, Aether Realm, Please The Trees, Midge Ure, Kishi Bashi, Nate Young, Andy Ortmann, Suicide Silence, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Ulla Anona, Carl Calm, Catfish & The Bottlemen, The Devil Wears Prada, Memphis May Fire, Like Moths To Flames, Coffin Screws, Sleight of Hand, and Squirrel Nut Zippers.

    -

    BeachBook

    FBI Releases Internal Dissents On 2013 Chicago Hubcap-Thief Shooting Incident.

    *

    Why This Chicago Disability Group Is Suing Uber.

    *

    The Chicago Cubs Are Baseball's Best-Smelling Team.

    *

    U.S. Officials Repeatedly Failed To Heed Warnings About The Crooks In Afghanistan's Government.

    *

    Chicago Blackhawks Kick Their Season Off With Boneheaded Own Goal.

    *

    I Found A 1979 Postcard WIth An Evanston Postmark And This Is Its Story.

    -

    TweetWood
    A sampling.

    *

    *

    -

    The Beachwood Tronc Line: Low energy.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:23 AM | Permalink

    The Week In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. Die Antwoord at the Aragon on Tuesday night.


    -

    2. Alestorm at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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    3. Robert Plant at the Vic on Thursday night.

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    4. Nekrogoblikon at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

    -

    5. Aether Realm at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

    -

    6. Please The Trees at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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    7. Midge Ure at Martyrs' on Wednesday night.

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    8. Kishi Bashi at the Vic on Monday night.

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    9. Nate Young at the Hideout for the Resonance Series on Wednesday night.

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    10. Andy Ortmann at the Hideout for the Resonance Series on Wednesday night.

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    11. Suicide Silence at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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    12. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at House of Blues on Thursday night.

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    13. Ulla Anona at House of Heavy Petting on Thursday night.

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    14. Carl Calm at House of Heavy Petting on Thursday night.

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    15. Catfish & The Bottlemen at the Riv on Wednesday night.

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    16. The Devil Wears Prada at Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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    17. Memphis May Fire at Bottom Lounge at Thursday night.

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    18. Like Moths To Flames at Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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    19. Coffin Screws at Cafe Mustache on Sunday night.

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    20. Sleight of Hand at Cafe Mustache on Sunday night.

    -

    21. Squirrel Nut Zippers at City Winery on Sunday night.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:49 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix: Brian Hoyer, Fantasy Darling

    Random observations on the fantasy implications of a week in which Jay Cutler faded even further from fantasy relevance than usual.

    Brian Hoyer's latest moment of fantasy stardom. If someone's talking about someone named Hoyer in Chicago this month, you might assume it's Jed Hoyer, GM of the NLDS-winning Cubs. But Bears QB Brian Hoyer is also having a good fall, having compiled a series of fantasy-worthy starts in place of Jay Cutler, the most recent a 397-yard outing in Week 5. He's in the top three or four in QB fantasy points in most formats the last three weeks. Looks like he will start again against JAC this weekend, and arguably should keep the starting job the rest of the way. He's got a history of being streaky, and he's not much of a deep passer, but he's plays quick (sometimes meaning more plays, more chances), and usually avoids negative points.

    Ezekiel Elliott has run to the top of the fantasy RB class. Three straight weeks of 130 or more rushing yards and five TDs this season show us the Cowboys rookie is getting better every week. With so many RBs injured and last year's rookie sensation Todd Gurley not doing much this season, Elliott is locking himself in as a top-five pick next year. It will be interesting to see what he does this week against the highly-regarded Green bay rushing defense, but seems there's no reason for him to slow down.

    Will Tyler Eifert ever return? Yes, the former Notre Dame, current Cincinnati TE was supposed to be out four to six weeks, and it's just now Week 6, but a new back injury and scant details suggest he could be out longer. At draft time, he seemed worthy of a pick with the potential to be a late-season fantasy savior, but now with the emergence of TEs like the Bears' Zach Miller and the revival of Seattle's Jimmy Graham and Baltimore's Dennis Pitta, he's starting to look like a wasted pick and a waste of a roster spot.

    A fantasy-relevant 40-something not named Bartolo Colon. The chunky NY Mets pitcher is an outlier in a sport where you don't see a lot of 40+ players. In football, that age category usually indicates kicker, and Colts veteran Adam Vinatieri is coming off a 23-point outing against the Bears. Sure, a game like that is rare from a kicker, but get this: Vinatieri hasn't missed a field goal on 13 tries this year and he's made five of 50+ yards (worth five points in most leagues). He's also made 38 straight FGs going back to last season. He was still available in 24% of Yahoo! leagues as of Wednesday, and might even be worth seeking in a trade package (though your league mates surely will mock you for wanting a kicker in a trade package.)

    -

    Dan O'Shea is our man on fantasy island. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

    Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break

    The only thing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump seemed to agree upon in last Sunday's debate - indeed, one of the few substantive policy exchanges they had - was the need to eliminate a tax benefit that collectively saves private equity, real estate, and venture capital partners billions of dollars each year.

    But their exchange might have left viewers confused about the issue, not least because it included several misleading insinuations, particularly on the part of Trump.

    (ProPublica has been covering this issue throughout the campaign, to explain the origins of the so-called carried-interest loophole and why it's survived so long. See: How Philanthropist David Rubenstein Helped Save a Tax Break Billionaires Love and The Surreal Politics of a Billionaire's Tax Loophole.)

    During the debate, here's what Trump had to say about the carried-interest break, which also goes by the "hedge-fund loophole," though it benefits that industry less than others.

    One thing I'd do is get rid of carried interest. The - one of the greatest provisions for people like me, to be honest with you, I give up a lot when I run because I knockout the tax code.

    And she could have done this years ago, by the way. She is - she was a United States senator. She complains that Donald Trump took advantage of the tax code. Well, why didn't you change it, why didn't you change it when you were a senator?

    The reason you didn't is that all your friends take the same advantage that I do. And they do, you have provisions in the tax code, that frankly, we could change.

    But you wouldn't change it because all of these people gave you the money so you can take negative ads on Donald Trump . . .

    And here's what Hillary countered with:

    Well, everything you've heard from Donald is not true. I'm sorry I have to keep saying this, but he lives in an alternative reality. And it is sort of amusing to hear somebody who hasn't paid federal income taxes in maybe 20 years talking about what he's going to do, but I'll tell you what he's going to do. His plan will give the wealthy and corporations the biggest tax cuts they have ever had. More than the Bush tax cuts by at least a factor of two. Donald always takes care of Donald and people like Donald. And this would be a massive gift . . .

    Which prompted this rejoinder from Trump:

    Hillary Clinton is extremely complex. Hillary Clinton has friends that want all of these provisions, including, they want the carried interest provision, which is very important to Wall Street people, but they really want the carried interest provision, which I believe Hillary is leaving, and it's very interesting why she is leaving carried interest . . .

    It is true that both candidates have, since early in the campaign, vowed to close the loophole, which allows investment managers to have the large sums they receive as compensation for managing other people's money taxed at the lower capital gains rate, as if it was the result of their own investment, rather than at the higher tax rate for ordinary income.

    However, Trump's vow to close the loophole is largely canceled out by other provisions in his tax plan, which could reduce the income tax rate for partners at many investment firms to as low as 15 percent. That is what Clinton is correctly referring to when she says that his plan will "give the wealthy and corporations the biggest tax cuts they have ever had."

    Trump is even more misleading when he suggests that Clinton is "leaving carried interest" untouched. Not only does Clinton want to close the loophole, she has vowed to close it by administrative fiat if congressional Republicans continue opposing legislation to close it. In this, she is going further than President Obama, who has held back from administrative action on it.

    However, Trump is closer to the truth when he suggests that Clinton did not push as hard as she could have to close the loophole when representing New York in the Senate. For one thing, Clinton did not sign on as a co-sponsor of the first proposal to close the loophole in 2007, unlike then-Senator Obama.

    And Trump is also right that many of the people on Wall Street who would be hurt by closing the loophole are supporting Clinton and giving money to her. In fact, not a single employee at any of the top four private equity firms has given money to Trump's campaign.

    But that is not driven by a calculation that Trump would be worse for their taxes than Clinton, because that is simply not the case. It is one of the great ironies of this very unusual campaign that the candidate who is far more likely to raise taxes on top Wall Street money managers, Hillary Clinton, is receiving virtually the entirety of their political largesse.

    -

    ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

    -

    Previously in the carried interest loophole:

    * Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

    * The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

    -

    Previously in Tax Scams:
    * Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes With $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall.

    * Offshoring By 29 Companies Costs Illinois $1.2 Billion Annually.

    * Government Agencies Allow Corporations To Write Off Billions In Federal Settlements.

    * The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

    * How The Maker Of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing.

    * $1.4 Trillion: Oxfam Exposes The Great Offshore Tax Scam Of U.S. Companies.

    * How Barclay's Turned A $10 Billion Profit Into A Tax Loss.

    * Wall Street Stock Loans Drain $1 Billion A Year From German Taxpayers.

    * German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

    * Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

    * A Schlupfloch Here, A Schlupfloch There. Now It's Real Money.

    * How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

    * Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

    -

    Previously in the Panama Papers:
    * The Panama Papers: Remarkable Global Media Collaboration Cracks Walls Of Offshore Tax Haven Secrecy.

    * The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

    * The [Monday] Papers.

    * Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

    * Mossack Fonseca's Oligarchs, Dictators And Corrupt White-Collar Businessmen.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! They're All In It Together.

    * Meet The Panama Papers Editor Who Handled 376 Reporters In 80 Countries.

    -

    Comments welcome.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

    Beachwood Photo Booth: AAA Sales

    From Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Helene Smith is temporarily in residence.

    20161011_172607_resized.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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    More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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    Helene on Twitter!

    -

    Meet Helene!

    -

    Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

    -

    Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

    -

    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.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Autumn Station Wagon.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Betty's & Nick's.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Ohio House Impact.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: End School Zone.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Portage Park Peek-A-Boo.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: South Side Sundown.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Susie's Drive-Thru.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Ham.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Food & Liquor, Milhouse.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Hare Blue Line Man.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Schwing!
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Ad Deluxe.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Jesus At The Drive-In.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Conveyance Belt.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonk.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire In The Night.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Nick's Meat Market.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Keep Havin A Good Day.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Knock Knock.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Man At Marie's.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonneville.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Logan Bags.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairwell.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Velvet.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Court Is In Session.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Railyards Rush Hour.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop Killing People.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 1.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Greystone Chicago.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: You Are Beautiful.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Auto Part Overlords.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Bearground.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 2.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Skyway Sculpture.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: The Dome Car.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Hello, St. Joe.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Revolution Books.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Driveway.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Proceed To Checkout.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Summer Ghost.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Daily Double.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: We Are Moving.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 3.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunny Day Tap.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Ashland & Pawn.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Party Store.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Donuts.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:33 AM | Permalink

    October 13, 2016

    The [Thursday] Papers

    "There is a 19-year-old black man in Illinois who has no idea of the role he is playing in this election," the New York Times reports. "He is sure he is going to vote for Donald J. Trump.

    And he has been held up as proof by conservatives - including outlets like Breitbart News and The New York Post - that Mr. Trump is excelling among black voters. He has even played a modest role in shifting entire polling aggregates, like the Real Clear Politics average, toward Mr. Trump.

    How? He's a panelist on the U.S.C. Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll, which has emerged as the biggest polling outlier of the presidential campaign. Despite falling behind by double digits in some national surveys, Mr. Trump has generally led in the U.S.C./LAT poll. He held the lead for a full month until Wednesday, when Hillary Clinton took a nominal lead.

    Our Trump-supporting friend in Illinois is a surprisingly big part of the reason. In some polls, he's weighted as much as 30 times more than the average respondent, and as much as 300 times more than the least-weighted respondent.

    Alone, he has been enough to put Mr. Trump in double digits of support among black voters. He can improve Mr. Trump's margin by 1 point in the survey, even though he is one of around 3,000 panelists.

    Assignment Desk, activate! Find that dude.

    Also, go read the rest and ponder, again, the outsized, aggravating and reckless use of polls in our elections.

    Naperboo
    "Naperville once seemed a rich opportunity for homebuilders eager to sell a four-bedroom, quarter-acre slice of the American Dream for $700,000 and up," veteran real estate reporter Dennis Rodkin writes for Crain's in the beautifully designed, deeply reported "A Modern Ghost Town."

    "Then, in 2006, the bottom fell out, and Ashwood Park - only one-third built - ground to a near-halt. Ten years after the crash, it's still a monument to the limits of suburban sprawl."

    Recommended.

    Geofeedyatothecops
    "A Chicago-based tech company has been helping law enforcement agencies target protesters, according to a new investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union of California," WBEZ reports.

    *

    Geofeedia. They're hiring!

    *

    "Leadership."

    *

    "Twitter has cut off Chicago-based Geofeedia's access to its data, in the wake of a report from the American Civil Liberties Union that law enforcement has been monitoring activists and protesters using social media data collected by the startup," the Tribune reports.

    Geofeedia CEO Phil Harris said in an emailed statement that the company is committed to the principles of personal privacy and has clear policies in place to "prevent the inappropriate use of our software.

    "That said, we understand, given the ever-changing nature of digital technology, that we must continue to work to build on these critical protections of civil rights," the statement said. "Geofeedia will continue to engage with key civil liberty stakeholders, including the ACLU, and the law enforcement community to make sure that we do everything in our power to support the security of the American people and the protection of personal freedoms."

    That sounds good, but Geofeedia reportedly marketed its product to law enforcement agencies nationwide "to target activists of color." My God.

    *

    Facebook and Instagram have also cut off Geofeedia.

    *

    Around the country . . .

    "Its products allow law enforcement to pinpoint social media users to their exact location, pull private information from personal pages, monitor emojis and even run facial recognition on protesters," the New York Daily News reports.

    "Police in Baltimore and around the nation have come under fire recently for using tech tools for surveillance, and the issue came up again this week after the American Civil Liberties Union highlighted the Police Department's use of an aggregator called Geofeedia," WBAL-TV reports.

    "Social media monitor used in St. Louis under scrutiny for ties to police surveillance," the St. Louis Business Journal reports.

    "The e-mail went on to tout the platform's Geofeed Streamer, which representatives called 'unique' and useful for tracking protests like the ones 'we covered [in] Ferguson/Mike Brown nationally with great success,'" the Atlanta Black Star reports.

    -

    How Fidelity's Owners Screw Investors
    Firm's family gets first crack at investment opportunities.

    -

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Cap And Trade
    "Ah, doin' it with the ex. Feels icky at first, but they know what you like."

    -

    Chicago Casting Call: Alec Baldwin's Match Game!
    "The dictionary calls a group of geese a gaggle. The tabloids call a group of Baldwin brothers a ______."

    -

    BeachBook

    The Landlord's Guide To Gentrifying NYC.

    *

    Did Donald Trump Cheat On His Social Security And Medicare Taxes? (Hint: Almost Certainly).

    *

    Corn Mazes Help Keep Family Farms Afloat.

    -

    TweetWood

    -

    The Beachwood Tronc Line: Subterranean, homesick and blue.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:12 AM | Permalink

    Chicago Casting Call: Match Game Starring Alec Baldwin!

    "Get ready to match the stars as Alec Baldwin hosts the revival of the iconic TV game show . . . Match Game!" reports Casting Call Hub.

    "One of the most popular game shows from the 1970's, Match Game is comprised of two contestants guessing how a panel of six celebrities will fill-in-the-blank to a series of various (somewhat silly) questions. The player with the most matches at the end of two rounds goes on to play the big money Super Match where they could win up to $25,000!"

    Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 8.43.33 AM.png

    Sign up here!

    Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 8.45.38 AM.png

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    The Best Match Game Ever?

    *

    Banned Episode?

    *

    Baldwin on Kimmel talking Match Game.

    *

    A Very Baldwin Match Game.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:56 AM | Permalink

    How Fidelity's Owners Get Richer At Everyday Investors' Expense

    The mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments, founded seven decades ago and run ever since by the Johnson family, has won the trust of tens of millions of investors.

    The company's tradition of putting clients' interests "before our own is a big part of what makes Fidelity special," the fund firm says in its mission statement.

    In at least one lucrative field, however, the Johnson family's interests come first. A private venture capital arm run on behalf of the Johnsons, F-Prime Capital Partners, competes directly with the stable of Fidelity mutual funds in which the public invests. It's an arrangement that securities lawyers say poses an unusual conflict of interest.

    fidelity4.jpgAll photos by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    That conflict can be seen in the case of Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, a promising biotech start-up. In 2011 and 2012, the Johnsons' F-Prime Capital invested a total of $11 million on Ultragenyx before the start-up made an initial public offering of its stock.

    The pre-IPO investment effectively prevented Fidelity mutual funds from making the same play. If both the private fund and Fidelity's ordinary funds had invested, they would have violated U.S. securities laws, which prohibit affiliated entities from buying substantial stakes in the same companies at the same time.

    The managers of Fidelity's public funds eventually did purchase Ultragenyx shares, but not until after the stock price skyrocketed in the firm's January 2014 initial public offering. The Fidelity funds bought about 1.1 million Ultragenyx shares in the second quarter of 2014. The average price for the stock was $41.17 during that three-month period - 12 times higher than the $3.55 a share paid by F-Prime Capital.

    By the end of June 2014, the Johnson family and an elite circle of Fidelity insiders were sitting on a gain of $128 million - or about 1,000 percent - on the Ultragenyx investment. Several of Fidelity's mutual fund rivals, including American Funds and BlackRock Inc, did just as well or better on the Ultragenyx play by investing at about the same time as the Johnsons, U.S. regulatory filings show.

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    Fidelity declined to comment on the specific investments examined by Reuters and declined to detail how it balances the interests of Fidelity funds and the Johnsons' F-Prime funds in cases where they might compete for the same investment.

    abigail.jpgAbigail

    Fidelity's chief executive, Abigail Johnson, declined to comment for this story.

    Yale University law professor John Morley said Fidelity runs the risk of losing investors by competing with the funds that serve them.

    "What they're doing is not illegal, not even unethical," Morley said. "But it's entirely appropriate for mutual fund investors to take their money elsewhere because Fidelity has made a decision to take away some of their potential returns."

    Alan Palmiter, a business law professor at Wake Forest University, called the arrangement more problematic because it directly pits the interests of Fidelity fund investors against those of Fidelity's owners and elite managers.

    "It's hard to imagine a clearer corporate conflict of interest," Palmiter said.

    SEC spokeswoman Judith Burns, a former reporter for Dow Jones who covered the SEC, said the agency could not comment on a specific company.

    Reuters analyzed 10 pre-IPO investments since the beginning of 2013 by the Johnson-led venture capital arm. The analysis found that, in six of those cases, Fidelity's mass-market mutual funds made major investments later and at much higher prices than the insiders' fund, resulting in lower returns for Fidelity fund shareholders.

    In the other four cases, Fidelity funds did not invest at all in companies in which the Johnson-led venture arm already had a sizable stake.

    Fidelity's internal guidelines prevent such investments when the Johnsons' venture holdings are "substantial," a standard that Fidelity declined to define to Reuters.

    The Reuters examination also found:

    • Over the past three years, U.S. regulatory filings show, the Johnson-led venture arm has beaten Fidelity mutual funds to some of the hottest prospects in tech and bioscience - including the best performing IPO of 2015.
    • Fidelity mutual funds became one of the largest investors in six bioscience and tech companies backed by F-Prime Capital after the start-ups became publicly traded. Legal and academic experts said that major investments by Fidelity mutual funds - with their market-moving buying power - could be seen as propping up the values of the Johnsons' venture holdings.
    • Key compliance executives have held dual roles overseeing investments by Fidelity and F-Prime Capital. For three years until September, the chief compliance officer for Fidelity mutual funds, Linda Wondrack, also served as chief compliance officer for Impresa Management LLC, the advisory firm that manages the investments of F-Prime Capital.

      Fidelity's James Curvey also wears two hats: He chairs a board of trustees that oversees many Fidelity stock mutual funds, and also serves as a trustee for one of the owners of Impresa. Curvey has been involved with the Johnsons' private investments for more than 20 years and has made millions of dollars from them.

    • Some portfolio managers for Fidelity's mass-market funds receive lucrative partnership interests in the private F-Prime funds. Star portfolio manager Will Danoff, for instance, donated $4 million worth of Alibaba Group stock to Harvard University in 2015 that he received through the venture arm for $3,432, according to his family's charitable foundation.

    Fidelity spokesman Vincent Loporchio said Fidelity executives declined to grant interviews for this story. In a written statement, Fidelity said it follows the law relating to potential conflicts of interest between its mutual funds and the venture capital arm.

    "We strictly adhere to all legal and regulatory requirements that apply to our management of our mutual funds and other client accounts and our proprietary venture capital investments," Fidelity said. "Where there is the potential for such investments to overlap, we apply internal guidelines designed to ensure that our mutual funds comply with relevant legal and regulatory restrictions on their ability to acquire securities issued by companies in which Fidelity has a pre-existing proprietary investment."

    Fidelity declined to comment on whether its mutual funds were interested in making the same pre-IPO bets as F-Prime Capital.

    Over the past three years, however, the mutual funds have been among the nation's biggest investors in pre-IPO companies, U.S. regulatory filings show. The pressure on Fidelity to produce market-breaking returns has never been higher. Since the end of 2008, investors have pulled nearly $100 billion from Fidelity's actively managed mutual funds, while net deposits into Vanguard Group's index funds approached $700 billion, according to Morningstar data.

    Fidelity's two top rivals, BlackRock and Vanguard, said they do not operate separate investment arms that might compete with their mutual funds. Vanguard Chairman and CEO William McNabb goes a step further, investing almost all of his personal financial assets in Vanguard funds, because he wants to ensure his interests are aligned with those of his customers, said company spokesman John Woerth.

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    Johnson family members and Fidelity insiders also own Impresa Management, which runs partnerships and investments on F-Prime's behalf, overseeing about $2.6 billion in assets, according to SEC disclosures. Impresa's strategy is to bet on promising bioscience and tech start-ups.

    If F-Prime controls 5 percent or more of a private company's voting stock, then that ownership prevents the Fidelity mutual funds from buying the same security before or during an IPO, according to the Investment Company Act of 1940. Fidelity told Reuters that it concurs with that reading of the law, which is enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    SEC rules aim to ensure that the interests of mutual funds are on at least equal footing with the interests of affiliates, said Joseph Franco, a law professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. The rules seek to prohibit a situation where, for instance, a mutual fund might invest in a pre-IPO company at an above-market price with the intent of boosting the value of an earlier, lower-priced investment by an affiliated entity.

    The rules also seek to ensure that mutual fund managers are not influenced by the interests of an affiliated entity, such as Fidelity's in-house venture operation, Franco said.

    The law would not prevent purchases of stock owned by an affiliated entity after an IPO, in the open market. But Fidelity said it applies its own guidelines, which prevent such purchases when there is a "substantial" level of ownership by F-Prime. The guidelines are meant to address potential conflicts of interest and questions of fairness for investors in Fidelity mutual funds, the company said.

    John Bonnanzio, an editor at Fidelity Monitor & Insight, which makes independent recommendations on Fidelity funds, said the Johnson-led venture investing has been a good way to reward and retain star portfolio managers such as Danoff.

    "Hedge funds have siphoned off a lot of good portfolio managers from mutual fund companies," Bonnanzio said.

    HEIR APPARENT

    Founded in 1946 by Abigail Johnson's grandfather, Edward Johnson II, Fidelity's mutual fund business manages $1.2 trillion in assets. Privately held Fidelity is still controlled by the family and has been the linchpin of their fortune. The clan's net worth is estimated at $26 billion by Forbes magazine, making them the 9th-richest family in the United States.

    ned.jpgNed

    The founder eventually turned the reins over to his son, Fidelity's chairman, Edward "Ned" Johnson III, who is now 86. Today, Abigail Johnson, 54, is heir apparent. The oldest of Ned's three children, Abigail spent her career preparing for the top job, starting at Fidelity as an intern before moving on to portfolio manager and now CEO. She lives in the home once owned by her grandfather.

    Abigail and her younger siblings, Elizabeth and Edward Johnson IV, are investors in F-Prime Capital, according to disclosures by the venture fund.

    The family's private investments sometimes dovetail with members' personal interests. In 1985, Ned Johnson used venture funding to launch a limousine service after it took too long to hail a taxi at Boston's airport, according to accounts in the Boston Globe. Abigail Johnson's husband, Christopher McKown, co-founded a healthcare start-up, Iora Health, that has received multiple rounds of investment from F-Prime.

    OPPORTUNITY COSTS

    Over the years, F-Prime and other venture investing entities have generated billions of dollars in gains for the family and company insiders, according to financial disclosures made by Fidelity.

    Ned Johnson has used part of his wealth to amass a collection of antiquities worth nearly $260 million through his nonprofit Brookfield Arts Foundation, according to the charity's 2014 annual report.

    The nonprofit's purchases include a 200-year-old Chinese merchant house that Johnson had moved from that country and reassembled at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The house and its contents are worth $17 million, according to Brookfield's 2014 disclosure to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

    Other beneficiaries of the venture investments include top Fidelity officials such as Peter Lynch, the legendary Magellan fund manager and Fidelity vice chairman, and current portfolio managers such as Danoff, who manages about $109 billion in assets at Fidelity's Contrafund.

    The Ultragenyx investment illustrates the opportunity cost Fidelity investors face when a mass-market fund encounters a conflict of interest with F-Prime.

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    fidelity3.jpg(ENLARGE)

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    Ultragenyx was hardly a hidden gem. Several of Fidelity's rivals, including American Funds, BlackRock and Columbia Management, also got in on the early action before the company's initial public offering. Columbia's Acorn Fund, for example, invested $10 million at the same time as F-Prime and had an unrealized gain of nearly 1,100 percent, or $108 million, in mid-2015 before unwinding part of its position, U.S. regulatory filings show.

    In the third quarter of 2014, Fidelity funds boosted their collective stake in Ultragenyx by 3.3 million shares to become the biotech firm's largest mutual fund investor, with nearly 4.6 million total shares. By then, the average closing price of the stock had moved up to $50.24 from $41.17 in the second quarter. During the same quarter, F-Prime unwound most of its stake in Ultragenyx by distributing the stock to limited and general partners, U.S. regulatory filings show.

    Asked about F-Prime, Fidelity said in a statement that its mutual funds get priority over the Johnson family's interests."When both our proprietary venture capital group and our funds express interest in investing in the same private companies, the funds always prevail," the company said in a statement.

    CONFLICTED REFEREES

    One person who has been refereeing potential conflicts between Fidelity and Johnson family investments is Linda Wondrack. Until September, she doubled as chief compliance officer for the mutual funds and for Impresa Management, which manages the F-Prime assets. She served in both capacities for three years.

    In September - after Reuters asked whether Wondrack's dual role presented a conflict of interest - Fidelity hired another executive to replace Wondrack in one of the two positions. The fund appointed a company veteran, Chuck Senatore, a University of Chicago Law School lecturer, as chief compliance officer of Impresa Management.

    A single person could not effectively perform both jobs, said Wake Forest University's Palmiter, who called the arrangement "nearly laughable."

    Wondrack would have felt feel pressure to side with the venture capital arm because her ultimate boss is Abigail Johnson, said Palmiter, who has written extensively on the fund sector and is a critic of its governance standards.

    Wondrack, 52, is paid as an employee of Fidelity, U.S. regulatory filings show. She joined Fidelity in 2012, after working at mutual fund company Columbia Management.

    Loporchio, the Fidelity spokesman, said the company identified the need for a change in a "periodic review of its processes."

    Another key overseer of Fidelity fund investors' interests, however, continues to serve in a similar dual role.

    James C. Curvey - a long-time top lieutenant of Fidelity Chairman Ned Johnson - is chairman of the board of trustees for a number of Fidelity mutual funds, including ones that invest in the same companies as F-Prime.

    Fund trustees are responsible for protecting the interests of investors. Ned Johnson chose Curvey for the role when Johnson gave up his duties as chairman of the board of trustees for individual Fidelity funds.

    Curvey also serves a trustee for one of the owners of Impresa Management LLC, the manager of the F-Prime Capital's venture investments. It's not clear exactly who Curvey represents in that role; the stake is held in a trust, whose owners are not disclosed. But other filings indicate that Impresa is owned by the trusts of Johnson family members and Fidelity insiders.

    Curvey's history with the Johnsons' private investing entities dates back more than two decades. In 1996, along with Abigail and Ned Johnson, Curvey sought and received an SEC exemption in 1996 that gave Impresa more latitude to invest on behalf of high-ranking Fidelity employees, SEC records show.

    Partnership distributions to Curvey from venture investing have made him a lot of money. Curvey, for example, made millions of dollars from the venture capital arm's investment in Britain's COLT Telecom. In 2000, he donated some of those gains, nearly $3 million, to his family's charitable foundation, according to an annual filing with the IRS.

    Curvey and Wondrack declined to comment for this report. Fidelity declined to comment on the potential conflict of interest in their dual oversight roles.

    THE YEAR'S BEST-PERFORMING IPO

    Shareholders in the regular Fidelity mutual funds include millions of investors saving for retirement as well as employee 401(k) plans at top corporations such as Facebook, IBM and Oracle.

    Those mom-and-pop investors missed out on 2015's best-performing IPO. Fidelity funds stayed on the sidelines as shares of Aclaris Therapeutics skyrocketed after the drug maker listed its stock in October 2015.

    F-Prime invested $16.3 million in Aclaris before the IPO - a stake whose value soared to $83.2 million in the first three months after the public offering, U.S. regulatory filings show.

    Even if Fidelity fund managers had wanted to buy Aclaris shares after the IPO, in the open market, F-Prime's stake of nearly 20 percent stake may have prevented them from doing so because of Fidelity's guidelines on investing in companies in which the venture arm has a "substantial" stake.

    Aclaris was 2015's top public debut, its shares appreciating 145 percent over the $11 IPO price, according to Renaissance Capital, an IPO research and management firm.

    At the end of June, F-Prime still held nearly 2.8 million Aclaris shares, a 13 percent stake, worth $51.5 million, according to Fidelity's latest quarterly holdings disclosure. Fidelity funds did not own any Aclaris shares.

    Fidelity fund competitors had no restraints on investing in Aclaris. Franklin Templeton funds bought nearly 1.2 million shares in the company in the month of the IPO, Franklin disclosures show. The Fidelity competitors, including the Franklin Small Cap Growth Fund, saw their combined initial stake of $17.3 million more than double in less than two months.

    The Johnson-led venture arm scored another big payday when Adaptimmune Therapeutics went public in May 2015. F-Prime's $8 million pre-IPO investment in the bioscience company surged in value to more than $270 million in the weeks after the IPO, Fidelity disclosures show.

    Investors in the American Funds SmallCap World Fund, a Fidelity competitor, capitalized, too. The SmallCap World Fund made a similar-sized pre-IPO investment and saw a similar return, American disclosures show.

    The Fidelity Select Biotechnology Portfolio bought about 1.5 million Adaptimmune shares the month after the IPO. But the biotech fund paid at least 24 times more for its shares than rivals did, Fidelity Select disclosures show.

    As pre-IPO investors, F-Prime and the rival SmallCap World Fund got their Adaptimmune common stock, on a converted basis, for about 59 cents each, disclosures show.

    The exact amount paid by the Fidelity biotech fund was not disclosed. But it was at least $14 a share, which was the low point for Adaptimmune shares the month of the IPO.

    Adaptimmune traded recently at nearly $7 a share, which represents a big loss for the mass-market Fidelity biotech fund but a rich gain for the Johnsons' F-Prime.

    PILING IN

    In the six cases Reuters examined where Fidelity bought into investments that were already held by F-Prime, Fidelity funds became the largest or one of the largest shareholders.

    In general, newly minted public companies need long-term shareholders such as mutual funds in order to ride out the ups and the downs of the stock market, especially right after a public debut, said Bob Ackerman, founder and managing director of Allegis Capital, a venture firm based in San Francisco.

    An investment by Fidelity - the third-largest mutual fund firm in the United States - is a boost for any new public company. A big fund's investment broadens the shareholder base and makes it easier for venture capital investors to exit their investment at a profit.

    "It's a validation of the company and the exit strategy, especially if it's a huge amount," said Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital. "It's a good validation that a company has a lot of long-term growth potential ahead."

    Fidelity said there has never been a situation where F-Prime has directed a Fidelity mutual fund to make an investment in one of F-Prime's portfolio companies.

    Corporate governance and securities law specialists say that big Fidelity investments in companies owned by F-Prime could be interpreted as propping up the family's interests and helping F-Prime's exit strategy.

    "It does raise a potentially serious question," said James Post, a professor emeritus of markets, public policy and law at Boston University. "The uniqueness of the Fidelity arrangement requires the highest level of integrity."

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    METHODOLOGY: How we analyzed the Johnsons' trading

    Reuters combed through public securities filings to explore overlap between the investing activities of Fidelity Investments, which serves some 20 million clients, and proprietary investment vehicles of the family that controls Fidelity, the Johnsons. Reuters identified 10 investments in which F-Prime Capital Partners, controlled by the Johnsons, was competing on the same turf as Fidelity mutual funds. The examination covered a three-year period, from 2013 to the present. During this time, Fidelity mutual funds began ramping up their strategy of investing in pre-IPO start-up companies. It is possible that the examination missed other relevant examples among F-Prime Capital's many investments.

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    Additional reporting by Heather Somerville. Links added by Beachwood.





    The Secret Pay Packages Of Fidelity's Star Stock Pickers

    One of the best kept secrets in the mutual fund industry is the compensation of portfolio managers who oversee trillions of dollars in retirement assets. The SEC does not require any detailed disclosure.

    But for those fund managers who make it to the top of Fidelity Investments, the payouts can rival and even surpass the typical pay of a CEO at an S&P 500 company, according to four people familiar with Fidelity's payout structure. Median CEO Pay at S&P 500 companies totaled $10.8 million in 2015, according to pay research firm Equilar Inc.

    Most of portfolio manager pay is determined by how well their funds perform against benchmarks like the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. They also get awards of shares in FMR LLC - Fidelity's closely-held parent company, which is controlled by the Johnson family. The value of FMR's privately held stock rises and falls largely based on the performance of the mutual fund business.

    Fidelity's elite, including top portfolio managers, get an additional sweetener: lucrative distributions from investments made by a proprietary venture fund called F-Prime Capital Partners. The fund is run on behalf of the family of Fidelity Chief Executive Abigail Johnson and other company insiders.

    In some cases, F-Prime's best performing investments - such as Chinese web giant Alibaba - can add millions of dollars to their compensation, according to four people familiar with Fidelity's compensation structure.

    Fidelity is not required to disclose any detailed lists of who receives F-Prime distributions. The company declined to tell Reuters how many people were entitled to the biggest payouts from F-Prime.

    But Reuters found that Will Danoff, who has run Fidelity's flagship Contrafund for 25 years and currently oversees $100 billion-plus in assets as a solo portfolio manager, has received millions from F-Prime investments.

    willdanoff.jpgWill Danoff/Anthony Bolante, Reuters

    After Alibaba's 2014 IPO, F-Prime, an early investor, distributed shares in the Chinese company to investors. Danoff was among the group, according to two people familiar with the distribution.

    Danoff received 46,154 Alibaba shares that cost $3,432, or 7 cents apiece, according to an annual report filed by his family's private charitable foundation. The cheap stock reflects how F-Prime made an investment in Alibaba about 15 years before the company went public.

    Danoff's Alibaba shares were worth about $4 million when he received them. Alibaba went public at $68 a share in the largest IPO in history.

    In May 2015, he donated the Alibaba stock as part of a $5 million gift to his alma mater, Harvard University, according to disclosures by Danoff's family foundation.

    While there's no detailed disclosure about Danoff's Fidelity compensation, the amount of assets in his family's charitable foundation has surged to about $70 million in recent years, according to filings with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. In 2015, Danoff contributed $31.1 million to the charity, including $12 million in Contrafund shares that he personally owned.

    Danoff declined to comment.

    F-Prime's investments are managed by a closely held advisory firm, Impresa Management. Fidelity said the role of F-Prime and Impresa in the pay of its portfolio managers does not influence their stock picks for the mutual funds they run.

    "It is simply not plausible that portfolio managers would invest on behalf of their funds in a way that would negatively impact the performance of the fund in order to boost the value of an Impresa investment," Fidelity said in a statement. "Our compensation model for portfolio managers aligns their interests with the interests of the funds and other client accounts they manage, and we believe that relevant conflicts of interest relating to (portfolio manager) compensation have been disclosed in the funds' SEC filings required by the rules."

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Cap & Trade

    Well, that was fun while it lasted.

    Oh who am I kidding. This hasn't been fun and it hasn't lasted all that long.

    That said, there's plenty to discuss.

    It seems in the absence of a compelling season, we've got a quarterback controversy to sort out here in Chicago.

    Since Jay Cutler's thumb wasn't entirely severed from the rest of his throwing hand, it stands to reason that:

    A) He can continue smoking righty.

    B) He will return to the active roster at some point in the near future.

    Given Brian Hoyer's more-than-capable performance through the past three weeks, coupled with the fact that the Bears' payroll is vastly under the salary cap, rumors have begun to swirl that Cutler will be dealt before the trade deadline.

    I doubt this scenario will come to pass, largely because the Bears would have to send a pallet of Marlboro Lights to the destination city and the cost of cigarettes in Cook County likely would push most franchises over the cap limit.

    Even if a willing suitor is found, it's fair to ask what the Bears could expect in return for Smokin' Jay's services when, rightly or wrongly, the past two coaching staffs have done all they can to devalue the notoriously aloof signal-caller.

    I mean in the football sense. Marc Trestman didn't publicly call Jay a "mongoloid" or anything.

    Privately, he called him a "mouth-breather," an "ass-master" and towards the end of the 2014 season would simply hold up a flash card with "Fuck you, motherfucker" printed on it.

    Though is that last one technically an insult? I guess it depends on how hot the mother in question is. Or how willing.

    Or maybe she had Totino's Pizza Rolls and gin at her place. Look, I'm here to talk about a hypothetical future, not an alleged past. Let's move on.

    The guaranteed money on Cutler's contract ends this year, so even though he doesn't become an unrestricted free agent for several years, he could still bring back some value.

    If you consider a mid-round pick "valuable."

    Recent performances by Jordan Howard might convince you that it can be.

    As a team with their QB's arrow pointing down and the promise of reuniting former Bear Adam Gase with Cutler, the Miami Dolphins have been tabbed as a potential dance partner.

    The Gase-Cutler tandem enjoyed real success last season and Miami has proven itself willing to spend money, but I'd like to offer up Cutler's former team, the Denver Broncos, as a better option for all parties involved.

    Ah, doin' it with the ex. Feels icky at first, but they know what you like.

    Oh yeah. They know what you like.

    Even with numerous big-name departures from last year's championship squad, the Broncos fancy themselves a contender. Denver currently has a rookie QB subbing for an injured QB with about 14 months' worth of experience.

    Even Cutler detractors would admit that he is an upgrade at the position for Denver; at least in the short term.

    If Chicago's brass finds they have the Rocky Mountain Oysters to execute the deal, their expected haul could be as high as a fourth-round pick.

    A fourth sounds a little much, you say?

    Consider that the Broncos are dealing from a position of need and they're a younger team than you think.

    They won't want to swap any of their veteran leadership at this juncture so I suspect picks are one of two options that Denver would bring to the table.

    Here's the other option: Why not see if the Bears can use Cutler to acquire one of Denver's young QBs?

    Despite the fact that he was the starter before injury, 2015 seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian is likely more available than 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch.

    Lynch could continue starting for another two weeks while Cutler gets up to speed and then head back to the bench to start learning more than one page of the playbook.

    The Broncos would get a nice temporary upgrade at QB while responsibly developing for the future.

    As for the Bears, think about what kind of a player Siemian can become if learns at the knee of the great Brian Hoyer!

    Seriously though, the Bears have no quarterback of the future on the roster. This move would help both teams without setting either back.

    I'm in the minority, but I like Jay (insert obligatory "Dooonnn't Caaaarre" meme) and I think he's gotten several rough breaks during his time in Chicago that have made him much less successful than he might have been elsewhere.

    But given where this season is headed and the total lack of a QB queue for the organization, even unapologetic Cutler apologists like myself should start making a case to have Jay's ticket out of town punched.

    As for last week's game . . .

    What Worked

    • Individual Offensive Performances: If nothing else, the Bears have identified a capable veteran backup. Okay, maybe I'm selling the guy short. With almost 400 yards passing, two TDs and no interceptions, Hoyer had one of the great individual performances in Bears history.

      Jordan Howard and Zach Miller also had good games (yawn, again), but the game's other standout and new front-runner for the 2016 Devin Aromashodu Award (the prestigious honor bestowed upon a player who has up to three non-consecutive outstanding single game performances that are parlayed into a middling four-year NFL career) is Cameron Meredith, who came out of nowhere to post nine receptions, 130 yards and a TD.

    • QB Pressure: Three of the five Bear sacks on Sunday were reeled in by Willie Young, a man whose signature celebration leads me to believe he's the team's resident semi-pro bowler. Not sure. I'll look into it.

      The Bears haven't seen that many sacks since the bus to Green Bay broke down in front of my former place of employment, Lake Geneva's Sugar Shack*.

    What Made You Punch A Hole Through Your Hat

    • Play-Calling . . . Again: Multiple corner fade routes to Eddie Royal? Why? Is Peter Dinklage still on the PUP list? The Bears slot receiver has been great this season, but when you think "Eddie Royal," height and vertical leap are not the first two terms that come to mind.
    • Connor Barth: Yeah, he missed another field goal. In fact, he somehow managed to miss the same field goal twice. If these kinds of shenanigans cause you to suffer from an unhealthy amount of burning, visceral hate for Robbie Gould's ineffective replacement, first try a topical ointment. You may want to get some help with that skin issue. Then try firing up clips from classic '80s movies every time Barth lines up for a kick to soothe those nerves.

      Now, remember, when you use this strategy make absolutely sure to search in the YouTube app itself. If you just Google, for example, Crocodile Dundee and absent-mindedly click on the first link, you might end up accidentally launching a porn parody, thus treating everyone at the party/bar/baby shower to award winning dialogue like "That's not a cock . . . this is a cock" because your media volume was cranked all the way up.

      Ask me how I know.

    Eye On The Opposition: My Middle Name Is Rand McNally
    Honestly, I couldn't find Jacksonville on a map of Delaware even if I bothered to use the Internet, but because I'm not above humiliating myself for your entertainment, I'll take a crack at it:

    flakoolaid.png

    Whatever. I don't need to know the location of Blake Bortles' house (which is protected by a panther-filled moat) to find the game this Sunday.

    Unless it's being broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

    Seriously, Baseball, not every Cubs fan has a third-tier cable package.

    * * * * *

    For some, the Jags are a major disappointment. For most, they are a team whose mascot might as well be a six-foot tall, plush embodiment of a disinterested shrug. (Though Western Kentucky University may have already laid claim to that one.)

    A talented young offensive core was supposed to be complemented by an up-and-coming defense, but unfortunately for the dozen or so Jacksonville fans out there, that defense has yet to hold anybody under 19 points.

    In fact, the team that scored only 19 points was none other than the Baltimore Ravens, whose offensive coordinator at the time was our old pal Marc Trestman, who was too busy writing flashcards that read "Joe Flacco Smells Like Ass" to draw up effective plays.

    Shockingly, he has since been fired.

    * * * * *

    The strength of the Jaguars is their passing game.

    Fantasy football fans already know wide receiver Allen Robinson as that cocksucker who your opponent trotted out during the playoffs last year and cost you $300 in winnings.

    If you're just a fan of real football (the kind you gamble on every week, not the "I'll find out in December if I lost my daughter's college tuition" pansy bullshit), then you may not know much about Robinson.

    Whether you can pick him out of a lineup of Wayne Newton impersonators, he's probably going to score two touchdowns on the Bears this week, so get ready for an intro.

    Beyond Robinson, Jacksonville also boasts large and talented tight end Julius Thomas, though an odd strength of the Bears' defense seems to be taking opposing tight ends out of the game.

    Like the ability to balance a pencil on your nose, this point of emphasis seemingly has no positive impact on the world at-large, but as a fan I thought it only reasonable to hype my boys where I can.

    Kool-Aid (2 of 5 Pots Of Irish Coffee)
    Thanks to the late start times for the NLDS games this week, I have been propping myself up at work with America's most popular legal performance enhancing stimulant: cocaine.

    No, that's not it. The other one.

    Caffeine.

    Trust me, I'm way too fat to be accused of being hooked on blow.

    Unless . . . I start doing blow (rubs chin thoughtfully).

    Speaking of things that aren't good: the Jags.

    Jacksonville is a bad football team that presents one very tough match-up, which begs the question: Can the Bears get to Bortles in time to neutralize Robinson?

    For much of the game, yes.

    This newly discovered combination of power running and mid-range passing could limit the amount of time the Jacksonville offense gets to work.

    But if last week is any indication, the Bears will need to build up a lead to hold off the inevitable late-game heroics.

    The secret to the Bears success will be fourth-down conversions.

    What, you'd rather watch another Connor Barth field-goal attempt?

    Not in John Fox's America.

    It's touchdown or bust on every drive, baby.

    Bears 28, Jaguars 26

    -

    About The Author
    Like many fans, The Author enjoys sitting and stoically petting someone else's dog as he vacantly watches the Bears snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    carljag.png

    -

    * My wife, who was one of my regulars at Sugar Shack, read an early copy of this column and insisted I perform my signature move, "The C-Man D-Slang" for old time's sake.

    carljag2.png

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

    October 12, 2016

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    I'm looking forward to this tonight, knowing the presenters. Should spark useful discussion. Come by if you want, all are welcome. Click through for details.




    In fact, I've been having this discussion with one of the talkers, Gretchen Hasse, for the better part of a year. And let's face it, artists have been having this discussion since the first cave drawing.

    Many lessons, questions and issues - though not all - are applicable to independent journalists as well.

    *

    By the way, check out Gretchen's webcomic, Freaks' Progress.

    *

    If I'm not mistaken, the other talker, Rodney Dollah, has a bunch of big-time graphic design, comics and gaming experience.

    *

    There will be beer. And before and after, our regular Wednesday Studio Day will be in session.

    -

    Rahm & Obama's American Way
    Guess who you have to thank for rising airplane fares and shitty service?

    This is a must-read, folks. I'll have more to say about it in the coming days.

    -

    Cubs Retweet: Going Gets Weirder
    One team fixed it's bullpen, the other didn't.

    -

    Pie Interviews A Teenage Conservative
    Of course his father is a lawyer! He can get an unpaid internship at daddy's firm.

    -

    BeachBook

    This Plug-In Turns 'Trump' Into A Poop Emoji.

    *

    1970s Franken Berry Accidentally Gave Kids Pink Franken Poops.

    *

    Facebook Memory, One Year Ago.

    *

    Walgreens must be selling knockoffs because Jorge Soler gets top billing here.

    -

    The Beachwood Tronc Line: THINK, dammit.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    Rahm & Obama's American Way

    Three years ago, the Obama administration unleashed its might on behalf of beleaguered American air travelers, filing suit to block a mega-merger between American Airlines and US Airways. The Justice Department laid out a case that went well beyond one merger.

    "Increasing consolidation among large airlines has hurt passengers," the lawsuit said. "The major airlines have copied each other in raising fares, imposing new fees on travelers, reducing or eliminating service on a number of city pairs, and downgrading amenities."

    The Obama administration itself had helped create that reality by approving two previous mergers in the industry, which had seen nine major players shrink to five in a decade. In the lawsuit, the government was effectively admitting it had been wrong. It was now making a stand.

    Then a mere three months later, the government stunned observers by backing down.

    It announced a settlement that allowed American and US Airways to form the world's largest airline in exchange for modest concessions that fell far short of addressing the concerns outlined in the lawsuit.

    The Justice Department's abrupt reversal came after the airlines tapped former Obama administration officials and other well-connected Democrats to launch an intense lobbying campaign, the full extent of which has never been reported.

    Read The Documents
  • E-mails: Rahm Emanuel letter actually written by airline lobbyist.
  • Contacts between Obama officials and airline lobbyists.
  • Goldman Sachs analysis: "Dreams of oligopoly".

  • They used their pull in the administration, including at the White House, and with a high-level friend at the Justice Department, going over the heads of staff prosecutors. And just days after the suit was announced, the airlines turned to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's first White House chief of staff, to help push back against the Justice Department.

    Some lawyers and officials who worked on the American-US Airways case now say they were "appalled" by the decision to settle, as one put it.

    "It was a gross miscarriage of justice that that case was dropped and an outrage and an example of how our system should not work," said Tom Horne, the former state attorney general of Arizona, one of seven states that were co-plaintiffs with the federal government.

    As a candidate in 2007, President Obama pledged to "reinvigorate antitrust enforcement," calling that the "American way to make capitalism work for consumers." Hillary Clinton has recently made similar promises.

    But the reversal in the American-US Airways case was part of what antitrust observers see as a string of disappointing decisions by the Obama administration.

    "I hoped they would be much more aggressive and much more concerned about increasing concentration and ongoing predatory conduct," said Thomas Horton, a former Justice Department antitrust attorney now at University of South Dakota law school. "Too often they really took the business side."

    Obama's antitrust enforcers have been somewhat more aggressive than the Bush administration in challenging mergers. But that has come in the face of a record-breaking wave of often audacious deals. Nor has the Obama administration brought any major cases challenging companies that abuse their monopoly power. It approved three major airline mergers, for example, leaving four companies in control of more than 80 percent of the market.

    In the American-US Airways case, Emanuel emerged as one of the deal's biggest champions. He was in regular contact with the CEOs and lobbyists for both airlines.

    "The combination of American Airlines and US Airways creates a better network than either carrier could build on its own," Emanuel wrote in an October 2013 letter to the Justice Department that other mayors signed onto. "American's substantial operations throughout the central United States provide critical coverage where US Airways is underdeveloped."

    The letter was an uncanny echo of the airlines' arguments - for good reason: It was actually written by an American Airlines lobbyist, e-mails obtained by ProPublica show.

    The day after sending the missive, as government lawyers were racing to prepare for trial, Emanuel lunched with the CEOs of American and US Airways at a suite in the St. Regis hotel in Washington. The next stop on his schedule: the White House, for meetings with President Obama and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Later that day, Emanuel met with Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, whose agency also had a hand in reviewing the merger. (The White House and Department of Transportation declined to comment on the meetings.)

    Meanwhile, the airlines dispatched another valuable asset: An adviser on the deal, Jim Millstein, was both a former high-level Obama administration official at Treasury and a friend of Deputy Attorney General James Cole, the No. 2 at the Justice Department.

    Millstein said Cole told him that the government was open to settling the case - a position at odds with the Justice Department's public stance. The two spoke about the case on social occasions, such as "after finishing a round of golf," Millstein said in an interview.

    The five meetings and phone calls between Millstein and Cole - all within two months in late 2013 - shocked Justice Department staff attorneys who worked on the case, with one describing them as a sign of "raw pressure and political influence." Cole declined to comment in detail, but said in a statement that "nothing inappropriate occurred."

    As Millstein and Emanuel pressed the administration, the airlines spent $13 million on a phalanx of super-lobbyists, including Heather and Tony Podesta, to marshal support in Washington, records show. Another Democratic lobbyist, Hilary Rosen, also reached out to the White House.

    There's no direct evidence that the lobbying worked. The Justice Department denies the pressure affected its decision-making and the White House said it was not involved. "DOJ enforcement decisions are made independently," a White House spokesperson said in a statement. "The White House does not play a role in those decisions."

    But the abrupt move to settle was met with a backlash among the team building the case, according to interviews with four lawyers and officials who worked on the case.

    "We were astonished," said an official from one state that joined the federal lawsuit. "They were getting a lot of pressure and all of a sudden they just said, 'We're going to walk away from this.'"

    Some Justice Department staff attorneys who built the case against the merger were dismayed when they were summoned by a superior to a conference room at the Antitrust Division's Judiciary Square offices and told the case was done.

    "People were upset. The displeasure in the room was palpable," said one attorney who worked on the case. "The staff was building a really good case and was almost entirely left out of the settlement decision."

    Indeed, government investigators had uncovered documents showing airline executives crowing about how mergers allow them to charge travelers more. "Three successful fare increases - [we were] able to pass along to customers because of consolidation," wrote Scott Kirby, who became the president of the new American Airlines, in a 2010 internal company presentation.

    Economists say it's difficult to prove definitively effects of a merger, and there's been no comprehensive study of the American-US Airways deal. Still, there are signs that the concerns the government voiced in its lawsuit have become a reality.

    While the price of fuel - one of airlines' biggest expenses - has plummeted by as much as 70 percent in the last two years, the industry has kept most of those savings for itself. Fares went down by just 4 percent in 2015 as U.S. airlines made record profits of nearly $26 billion. That's in contrast to Europe, where the industry is significantly less concentrated and there is intense competition.

    The combined company, which operates as American Airlines, has steadily increased fees since the deal, one of the harms the Justice Department warned of three years ago. So-called Main Cabin Extra seats, for example, which went for an additional $8 to $159 in 2013, now cost an extra $20 to $280.

    Earlier this year, American also eliminated a discount fare program before bringing it back on "selected routes." The rollback of the program was another thing the government had predicted.

    Wall Street has cheered the effects of the deal. A 2014 Goldman Sachs analysis about "dreams of oligopoly" used the American-US Airways merger as an example. Industry consolidation leads to "lower competitive intensity" and greater "pricing power with customers due to reduced choice," the analysis said.

    (In a statement, American Airlines said the merger had "delivered significant benefits to customers, employees and communities" including by creating new flight options. It said it has upgraded its fleet and is "investing $3 billion to improve our customers' experience in the air and on the ground.")

    In the biggest concession of the settlement, American Airlines had to divest some takeoff and landing rights from Reagan National in Washington and LaGuardia in New York. A DOJ official, made available by the department on condition of anonymity, said the agency believes the divestitures have allowed lower-cost carriers like JetBlue and Virgin America to compete in these markets.

    "Our general sense based on the information we have is that the divestitures have had a positive impact," the official said.

    Yet just a year-and-a-half after insisting the settlement would increase competition, the Justice Department in 2015 launched an investigation into possible collusion among the remaining carriers to restrict the number of flights in order to hike ticket prices.

    That was another harm the government suit had warned about: "This Merger Would Increase the Likelihood of Coordinated Behavior."

    The investigation is ongoing.

    * * * * *

    A century ago, amid fears that concentrated corporate power would subvert American democracy, Congress passed a law that prohibited anti-competitive mergers.

    "Unless their insatiate greed is checked, all wealth will be aggregated in a few hands and the Republic destroyed," warned the 1900 Democratic platform of monopolies, echoing the Republican platform that year.

    Though the antitrust laws were created in the days of Standard Oil and railroad monopolies, regulators in the modern era have long had concerns about the airline industry.

    For decades, the federal government directly regulated fares and routes. Amid runaway inflation in the late 1970s, the industry was deregulated on the theory that market forces would produce lower prices and more efficiency. Still, the father of deregulation, economist Alfred Kahn, argued the new market needed strong antitrust enforcement to preserve the benefits of competition that deregulation was supposed to produce.

    The enforcement Kahn envisioned never materialized. The Reagan administration introduced new merger guidelines that were much friendlier to combinations of large corporations. Under the mantra "Bigness Isn't Badness," the Justice Department Antitrust Division became much more receptive to claims that efficiencies resulting from mergers outweighed any bad effects.

    In the airline industry, despite occasional interventions by antitrust authorities over the years, the number of companies has dropped sharply through dozens of mergers.

    Even unconstrained by much antitrust enforcement, airlines have endured as many busts as booms. Their propensity to lose money led Warren Buffett to quip, "If a capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk back in the early 1900s, he should have shot Orville Wright."

    The Sept. 11 attacks punctured a profitable period in the late '90s, pushing major airlines into a series of bankruptcies in which workers' pay and benefits were slashed and companies' debt was restructured.

    The most recent wave of consolidation began in the mid-2000s. U.S. Airways joined with America West. Delta combined with Northwest. The Obama administration approved the mergers of United and Continental as well as Southwest and AirTran.

    In an internal presentation uncovered by government investigators, a US Airways executive called industry consolidation the "New Holy Grail."

    holy-grail-screenshot-tear-900*621-d43175.jpg(ENLARGE)

    Publicly, airlines argued that combining networks would lead to greater choices and more efficiency for travelers, allowing them to fly on a single airline between previously disconnected cities.

    "Consumer demand is the driver for this combination," then-US Airways CEO Doug Parker told Congress while pushing the merger with American Airlines in early 2013. "Airline passengers want broader networks, capable of getting them to more places more efficiently."

    But sifting through millions of pages of airline documents, Justice Department lawyers and economists found evidence instead that airline executives coveted the market power that mergers could deliver.

    "Consolidation has also helped with capacity discipline," Scott Kirby, who became president of the new American Airlines, said at a conference in the run-up to the merger. "And it has allowed the industry to do things like ancillary revenues; again, hard to overstate the importance of that."

    Capacity discipline is an industry term for limiting the number of available seats or flights, which in turn allows for higher fares. Ancillary revenue - which has ballooned in recent years - comes from fees airlines charge for checked bags, different levels of seating, and food.

    The government identified more than 1,000 routes in which American and US Airways competed head-to-head. The merger would significantly increase the level of concentration on those routes, which could lead to higher fares, the complaint argued.

    The Justice Department's concerns were not just about prices. It was also worried that the American-US Airways merger would lead the combined company to reduce service or jettison plans for more routes.

    Following previous mergers, airlines had cut hubs, especially in mid-sized cities away from the coasts. Such cuts could devastate already struggling communities.

    "Surely these guys aren't really planning to keep Cleveland open," wrote Parker, now the American CEO, in a 2010 e-mail to other executives, commenting on the pending merger between United and Continental. "I'm hopeful they're just saying what they need to . . . to get this approved."

    United even signed an agreement with the state of Ohio designed to guarantee the airline's commitment to Cleveland, which had been a Continental hub before the merger. But four years later, United did just what Parker predicted, slashing more than half of its flights from Cleveland. Delta made similar cuts in Cincinnati and Memphis after its merger with Northwest.

    After studying the industry, government investigators also concluded that American Airlines and US Airways were well able to survive on their own. US Airways had reported record profits in 2012. American had managed to cut labor costs after declaring bankruptcy in 2011. It was during the bankruptcy process that US Airways executives had proposed a merger, but American executives initially resisted the idea, drafting a standalone plan they believed would lead to sustained profitability.

    "There is no reason to accept the likely anti-competitive consequences of this merger," the government's complaint said. "Both airlines are confident they can and will compete effectively as standalone companies."

    * * * * *

    Teams of lawyers and economists spent months in the run-up to the lawsuit dueling behind closed doors over whether the merger would benefit or harm consumers.

    After the Justice Department filed its complaint in federal court in Washington, the judge quickly issued a protective order sealing much of the case. Such secrecy is common in antitrust cases because companies say they want to protect proprietary business information.

    Still, a picture of the case emerges in documents obtained by ProPublica through public records requests and interviews with players on both sides.

    The DOJ's Antitrust Division assigned roughly 30 lawyers and economists to work on the case. They faced off against an "army" at least four times that size, one government lawyer recalled. The airlines assembled top antitrust attorneys from five separate law firms, virtually all of whom had previously worked as government antitrust enforcers.

    American Airlines' general counsel later estimated the company had spent $275 million on outside lawyers for its bankruptcy and to defend the merger suit. That doesn't include US Airways' spending on the deal.

    To handle the trial, the airlines hired Richard Parker of O'Melveny and Myers, a famously aggressive litigator and former high-ranking antitrust official at the Federal Trade Commission.

    "I told you he wasn't here to play around," one government lawyer wrote in an e-mail to a colleague the day the complaint was filed, after Parker arranged to come in to meet DOJ lawyers at 10 a.m. the next day.

    The airlines also hired a team of over 30 economists from a consulting firm headlined by two academics who had previously done stints as the Justice Department's chief antitrust economist.

    The economists created complex models designed to demonstrate that the merger would, in fact, create wide-ranging benefits for flyers and actually increase competition.

    The Justice Department's economists created their own models, coming to the opposite conclusions. It's impossible to compare the models as they remain under seal.

    As the teams worked late nights and weekends in the mad dash to prepare for a November 2013 trial date, the airlines opened a second front against the lawsuit, working through political channels rather than legal ones.

    * * * * *

    The leadership of the Antitrust Division has long said it is insulated from political pressure and that cases are strictly law enforcement matters, but the airlines clearly felt differently.

    At the center of the companies' lobbying effort were high-profile Democrats particularly well positioned to influence the Obama administration.

    Jim Millstein, the financial adviser on the deal who had left a high-level Treasury Department role in 2011, was dispatched "to assure the DOJ of our commitment to the consumer benefits we outlined in our case and our willingness to consider very significant concessions," American Airlines said in a statement. Millstein had four in-person meetings, a phone call, and some e-mail correspondence with his friend, Deputy Attorney General Cole.

    Millstein said the first meeting, which came two weeks after the lawsuit was filed, was "maybe a 30-second conversation between us. The subsequent conversations were equally non-substantive, just my checking in with him at points when the settlement discussions seemed to have stalled to reiterate that my guys were serious about reaching a settlement."

    The CEOs and lobbyists for both airlines were talking with Mayor Emanuel starting just six days after the lawsuit was filed up through the settlement, e-mails show.

    American Airlines CEO Doug Parker called the letter from Emanuel and other mayors to the Justice Department, which Emanuel's staff gave to Politico, "incredibly helpful" and one of the most important elements of the airlines' pushback against the government.

    The letter made a broad public interest argument, arguing for the deal "based on growth which benefits consumers and our communities." But e-mails among Emanuel's staff suggest he needed something from the airlines in return: help with a project to overhaul and update O'Hare International Airport.

    One e-mail refers to the mayor planning to seek "commitments" from the incoming American Airlines CEO at Emanuel's lunch with him at the St. Regis in Washington. (The hotel meeting was first reported by the Chicago Tribune.)

    It's not clear what, if anything, Emanuel ultimately received in return for advocating for the American-US Airways merger. The city redacted portions of e-mails in which the mayor's aides discussed the matter.

    A spokesman for Emanuel declined to comment on the mayor's conversations with the airline CEOs or on whether Emanuel raised the merger with Obama administration officials. "City officials wanted to ensure that the airline continued to be a good partner to the city, and that the residents of Chicago continued to benefit from the jobs and economic opportunities that the company provided," the spokesman said.

    A few months after the Justice Department settled its case, Parker and other American Airlines executives became first-time donors to the mayor, contributing $53,000 to his re-election campaign.

    On Capitol Hill, American and US Airways hired both Democratic and Republican lobbying firms, and 183 members of Congress ultimately came out in favor of the deal.

    Though one of American's core arguments for the merger was that the company needed to grow to compete more aggressively with Delta and United, the chief executives of those companies came out in support of the deal and further industry consolidation.

    A lobbyist for Airlines for America, the industry trade group, also pushed for it in settlement talks with Florida's attorney general, e-mails show. Antitrust observers say the industry-wide support reflects the idea that, post-merger, reduced competition would benefit all airlines.

    Organized labor often opposes mergers because the "efficiencies" touted by Wall Street can be a euphemism for job cuts. But in this case, US Airways executives won the backing of the American Airlines pilot, flight attendant, and mechanics' unions in exchange for promises of better contracts.

    Flight attendants union chief Laura Glading was the most active labor figure campaigning for the deal, crisscrossing the country to meet with editorial boards and state attorneys general who had joined DOJ's suit. Appearing at a Capitol Hill rally in her flight attendant uniform, she offered a different perspective and image than the company executives in business suits.

    Hilary Rosen, one of the Democratic lobbyists working on the deal, later credited the union support with flipping the Justice Department.

    While labor was the friendly face of the merger, Tom Horne, the former Arizona attorney general, who is now out of politics, said that he experienced an uglier side of the campaign.

    Horne, a conservative Republican, invoked Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations in explaining why he joined the Obama administration in challenging the deal. Soon after the complaint was filed, Horne says his political consultant was told by a lobbyist that $500,000 would be spent on ads against Horne in his upcoming primary if he didn't drop the suit.

    A former Horne staffer gave the same account. The case was settled before the primary campaign got underway. American Airlines and the lobbyist denied they had threatened to attack Horne.

    Horne said the promised political retribution shocked him. "Nothing remotely like that ever happened before or after," he said. "I was in statewide office for 12 years."

    When the Justice Department moved to drop the case, Horne felt he could not continue to contest the merger on his own. His office didn't have the resources to go up against two giant companies.

    * * * * *

    The first public indication that the Justice Department's resolve was weakening came in early November, just three weeks before the trial was set to begin. Attorney General Eric Holder was asked about the case at an unrelated press conference. "We hope that we will be able to resolve this short of trial," he said.

    The comment caught many observers by surprise. One lawyer involved in the case called it "bizarre" for the attorney general to publicly signal his support for a settlement in the midst of negotiations.

    Holder, now out of office and working at a law firm, declined to comment.

    A week after Holder's comments, the Justice Department announced it was dropping the case in exchange for modest concessions.

    Antitrust observers were shocked at the gulf between the remedy and the concerns outlined in the original complaint.

    Before the merger, the two airlines controlled more than two-thirds of all takeoff and landing rights at Reagan National Airport. The settlement required the combined company to give up less than 15 percent of the slots at the airport along with others at New York's LaGuardia, which ultimately went to JetBlue and other airlines.

    When the government filed its suit, the Department of Justice's top antitrust official had been asked about the possibility of a settlement centering on Reagan National. He had dismissed it as insufficient. The airlines "want to fly where they fly without competition," said Bill Baer, an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's antitrust division. "This merger would facilitate that, regardless of whether you have an issue at Washington National or not."

    Asked about why the government made the deal it did, a DOJ official told ProPublica, "We ultimately agreed to settle because they gave us what we and what our airline experts at the division believed was a very, very good settlement."

    In the three years since the DOJ settlement, American has slowly worked to integrate US Airways' operations into its own. While that process still hasn't finished, it's possible to take some stock of what's happened, both to the main players and to consumers.

    The combined company has 10 percent more employees than it had at the time of the merger and the two companies' CEOs, Doug Parker and Tom Horton, each received over $15 million in bonuses for completing the deal.

    Glading, the flight attendants union chief who was the face of labor support for the merger, quit last year and went to work as a consultant for American, a move the union blasted as a "disgusting betrayal." She's since taken a job at the Federal Aviation Administration and did not respond to requests for comment.

    The union launched an investigation into whether Glading cut side deals with the company and some members have called her support for the merger tainted.

    The union of mechanics and ground workers recently came to an agreement with American giving its members a large pay raise. The pilots union, meanwhile, complained in a letter to management earlier this year of "the rebirth of the toxic culture we fought so hard to eradicate."

    The post-merger American has increased fees across the board. The fee for a child traveling alone, for example, was $100 each way pre-merger. Today American charges $150, not only for children 11 and under as it did before, but also those aged 12 to 14.

    The industry has been raising fees for a decade, so it's difficult to say how the merger affected the rate of such increases. But American brought in $4.6 billion in ancillary revenue (fees and sales of frequent flyer miles) in 2014, well more than the $3.1 billion American and US Airways earned the year before the deal, according to the research firm IdeaWorks.

    American has also overhauled its frequent flyer program to make it more difficult to earn miles, in line with the other remaining major carriers.

    The Justice Department's complaint predicted the merger would prompt the end of US Airways' Advantage Fares program, which competed with other carriers' lucrative nonstop routes by offering aggressively discounted one-stop options. The program allowed flyers to save hundreds of dollars on, for example, the Miami-to-Cincinnati route.

    Sure enough, American Airlines killed the Advantage Fares program earlier this year before bringing it back on "selected routes where it makes business sense to do so."

    While pushing for the deal in 2013, economists hired by American projected that, by offering more and better route options, consumers would see $500 million in annual benefits from the deal.

    American's statement acknowledged the airline has not studied if these predictions have come true.

    The company also said in a court filing that "thousands" of new routes would be created. Today, American says there are just 1,600. And it's not clear these are routes many travelers actually want to fly.

    "Markets such as Dubuque-to-Yuma that customers cannot get to on either American or US Airways today, they will now be able to connect efficiently on," Parker, now the American CEO, said while touting the deal on Capitol Hill. "Those are real efficiencies that drive the majority of the synergies."

    A recent ticket search shows the new American does indeed offer service between Dubuque, Iowa, and Yuma, Arizona.

    But all of the available flights involve two stops at hubs in Chicago and Phoenix and last at least eight hours. Almost no one seems to have flown that route.

    According to a Department of Transportation database that includes a 10 percent sample of airline tickets, just five passengers have booked flights from Dubuque to Yuma in the years since the merger.

    -

    Reporting contributed by Jesse Eisinger and Olga Pierce.

    -

    Justin Elliott is a ProPublica reporter covering politics and government accountability. To securely send Justin documents or other files online, please visit our SecureDrop site.

    -

    Have information about the airlines or another antitrust matter? Please e-mail justin@propublica.org.

    -

    Previously in the American-US Airways merger:

    From The [Wednesday] Papers, Nov. 13, 2013:

    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.

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    "[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.

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    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.

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    "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%."

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:52 AM | Permalink

    Cubs Retweet: The Going Gets Weirder

    In three bullpen games in a row, the weird held.

    Here's why.

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    Here's how it felt, though.

    Moore was at 120 pitches, but still.

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    Time to panic?

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    Then came the top of the ninth, a half-inning that will long be remembered in Cubs lore.

    I hope we've all learned he's only good for three, starting with clean inning.

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    Stats.

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    Okay, now we're a bridge too far.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:30 AM | Permalink

    Pie Interviews A Teenage Conservative

    Of course his father is a lawyer! He can get an unpaid internship at daddy's firm.


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    Previously in Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter!:

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! It's Shit Crap News, Tim.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Is Going To Paris.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Grow Some Balls; Tell The Truth.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! MP Is A Wanker Santa.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! New Year's Rant.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! TTIP Is Boring Shit.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

    * Pie's Brexit.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Labor: The Clue's In The Title!

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Pie Olympics.

    * Occupy Pie.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Where Is The War Against Terrorble Mental Health Services?

    * Progressive Pie.

    * The BBC's Bake-Off Bollocks.

    * Pie Commits A Hate Crime.

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    Plus:

    If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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    And:

    Australia Is Horrific.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:10 AM | Permalink

    October 11, 2016

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    The Chicago Teachers Union and City of Chicago came to a tentative agreement around midnight to avert a strike and keep the schools open today while the Cubs went into the early morning hours before losing Game 3 of their series against the Giants. So the city's kids aren't in a good mood right about now.

    Which makes this headline a lie, man!

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    "The four-year deal agreed to by union leaders still needs to be ratified by the CTU's House of Delegates and voted on by full membership," the Tribune (and everybody else) reports.

    "Monday's late night dramatics followed well over a year of negotiations to replace a contract reached after a seven day strike in 2012. A key union demand has been more money for schools, particularly from special taxing districts, and indications were Emanuel's administration was coming through on that front.

    "Emanuel agreed to declare surplus from tax increment financing districts of $175 million, three sources told the Chicago Tribune. CPS would get at least half of that amount, the sources said."

    One might intuit from the coverage and a general working knowledge of Chicago and its mayor that Emanuel purposely held back some of the TIF funds he was willing to (re)direct to the schools in order to have a deal-sweetener to pull out of his pocket as the deadline approached.

    In other words, he knew how far he was willing to go all along.

    Does this mean the CTU got played? Not necessarily; it's equally possible that both sides were playing the same game well aware of the other guy's playbook. In that sense, everything went according to script.

    At the same time, there are still details to work out:

    "[T]he union still had some issues around case management and a lack of guarantees on social workers in schools," the Sun-Times reports.

    And:

    "It's not yet clear how the Board of Education will pay for the new deal, or how much of the tax-increment financing money the union has sought as a solution for the cash-strapped district could be tapped."

    But it looks like a done deal. The pressure now shifts from the city to reach an agreement to the union's membership to ratify it.

    Meanwhile . . .

    "As gun violence soars in Chicago, public schools have not been able to devote enough resources to basic counseling assistance - let alone to helping traumatized students.

    "A new $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will support more mental health services at 10 high schools on the South and West sides of the city, where students are at high risk of exposure to violence," Catalyst reports.

    "The grant comes at a crucial time for Chicago Public Schools. In the grant application, officials said the district's mental health services have been 'decimated' by budget cuts."

    Huh. I wonder who decimated them?

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    Cubs Rewind: Pitching The Offense
    The night Maddon lost his Midas touch.

    Celebrating Chicago's Hard Cover
    "More than just a show, Hard Cover is a platform for authentic and articulate youth voices - an opportunity for underrepresented youth to share their compelling stories with an ever-expanding audience of their peers."

    U.S. Sold Arms To Saudi Arabia Despite War Crime Implications
    "State Department officials also were privately skeptical of the Saudi military's ability to target Houthi militants without killing civilians and destroying 'critical infrastructure' needed for Yemen to recover."

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    BeachBook

    Crazy Trump Supporter Not Named Corey Lewandowski Pushes CNN's Brooke Baldwin To The Edge.

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    Massive Report Details Mass Surveillance In Central And South America, Because Why Should They Be Any Different Than Us.

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    My Tongue Is Insured For $1.25 Million Because I Taste Chocolate For A Living.

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    TweetWood
    A sampling.

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    The Beachwood Tronc Line: Chuck it.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    Celebrating Chicago's Hard Cover

    You are invited to the Hard Cover 30th Anniversary and Benefit event! Please join us for a night celebrating Community TV Network's youth-produced cable-TV show.

    Date: Thursday, October 20
    Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    Location: CAN TV Studio, 1309 S. Wood St.

    "CTVN's flagship program is Hard Cover: The Voices and Visions of Chicago's Youth, a TV show produced entirely by youth, for youth.

    "More than just a show, Hard Cover is a platform for authentic and articulate youth voices - an opportunity for underrepresented youth to share their compelling stories with an ever-expanding audience of their peers.

    "Each year, youth from CTVN's central site and satellite programs collaboratively produce 24 episodes of Hard Cover with CTVN's state-of-the-art digital video cameras, cutting-edge editing systems, and professional lighting and audio gear.

    "Each Hard Cover episode is then broadcast on cable channel CAN TV 19 in Chicago, on Manhattan Neighborhood Network's Youth Channel, and on St. Paul Neighborhood Network in the Twin Cities, and on PhillyCam."

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    Hard Cover airs twice a week on CAN TV19 on Mondays at 5 p.m. and Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m. in Chicago.

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    MC: Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell

    Comedian: Dave Helem, (Blipsters on Broadway, Second City's Afrofuturism)

    Complimentary Beer, Wine and Buffet
    Live Blues Band
    Awesome Raffle Prizes
    Live Show Taping
    Featuring a panel of Hard Cover Youth Alum throughout the decades

    Tickets: $30
    Purchase here or at the door. Ticket includes food, drink, entertainment, seat at live show taping and one raffle ticket.

    Parking: Available in lot on side of building and on street with meters

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    Hard Cover 2.0, from March:

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    Previously on the Beachwood: Hard Cover.

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    "Community TV Network (CTVN) is a non-profit organization that empowers Chicago youth with training in video and multimedia production. Through CTVN's programs, young people become inspired to speak from their own unique points of view and promote dialogue on community solutions."

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:14 AM | Permalink

    U.S. Sold Arms To Saudi Arabia Despite War Crime Implications

    The Obama administration went ahead with a $1.3 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year despite warnings from some officials that the United States could be implicated in war crimes for supporting a Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians, according to government documents and the accounts of current and former officials.

    State Department officials also were privately skeptical of the Saudi military's ability to target Houthi militants without killing civilians and destroying "critical infrastructure" needed for Yemen to recover, according to the e-mails and other records obtained by Reuters and interviews with nearly a dozen officials with knowledge of those discussions.

    CommunityHall.JPGSmoke rises from the community hall where Saudi-led warplanes struck a funeral in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen/REUTERS, Khaled Abdullah. (ENLARGE)

    U.S. government lawyers ultimately did not reach a conclusion on whether U.S. support for the campaign would make the United States a "co-belligerent" in the war under international law, four current and former officials said. That finding would have obligated Washington to investigate allegations of war crimes in Yemen and would have raised a legal risk that U.S. military personnel could be subject to prosecution, at least in theory.

    For instance, one of the e-mails made a specific reference to a 2013 ruling from the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor that significantly widened the international legal definition of aiding and abetting such crimes.

    The ruling found that "practical assistance, encouragement or moral support" is sufficient to determine liability for war crimes. Prosecutors do not have to prove a defendant participated in a specific crime, the U.N.-backed court found.

    Ironically, the U.S. government already had submitted the Taylor ruling to a military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to bolster its case that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other al-Qaeda detainees were complicit in the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.

    The previously undisclosed material sheds light on the closed-door debate that shaped U.S. President Barack Obama's response to what officials described as an agonizing foreign policy dilemma: how to allay Saudi concerns over a nuclear deal with Iran - Riyadh's arch-rival - without exacerbating a conflict in Yemen that has killed thousands.

    The documents, obtained by Reuters under the Freedom of Information Act, date from mid-May 2015 to February 2016, a period during which State Department officials reviewed and approved the sale of precision munitions to Saudi Arabia to replenish bombs dropped in Yemen. The documents were heavily redacted to withhold classified information and some details of meetings and discussion.

    An air strike on a wake in Yemen on Saturday that killed more than 140 people renewed focus on the heavy civilian toll of the conflict. The Saudi-led coalition denied responsibility, but the attack drew the strongest rebuke yet from Washington, which said it would review its support for the campaign to "better align with U.S. principles, values and interests."

    The State Department documents reveal new details of how the United States pressed the Saudis to limit civilian damage and provided detailed lists of sites to avoid bombing, even as officials worried about whether the Saudi military had the capacity to do so.

    State Department lawyers "had their hair on fire" as reports of civilian casualties in Yemen multiplied in 2015, and prominent human rights groups charged that Washington could be complicit in war crimes, one U.S. official said. That official and the others requested anonymity.

    During an October 2015 meeting with private human rights groups, a State Department specialist on protecting civilians in conflict acknowledged Saudi strikes were going awry.

    "The strikes are not intentionally indiscriminate but rather result from a lack of Saudi experience with dropping munitions and firing missiles," the specialist said, according to a Department account of the meeting.

    Rubble.JPGPeople stand on the rubble of a house destroyed by a Saudi-led air strike in Bajil district of the Red Sea province of Houdieda/REUTERS, Abduljabbar Zeyad. (ENLARGE)

    "The lack of Saudi experience is compounded by the asymmetric situation on the ground where enemy militants are not wearing uniforms and are mixed with civilian populations," he said. "Weak intelligence likely further compounds the problem."

    The Saudis intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after he was ousted by the Houthi rebels, whom Riyadh charges are backed by Iran. The Saudis gave Washington little advance notice, U.S. military leaders have said.

    General.JPGA soldier holds a rifle with a photo of Major-General Abdel-Rab al-Shadadi, a top general in forces loyal to Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government killed in fighting with Iran-aligned Houthi troops, during his funeral in Marib city/REUTERS, Ali Owidha. (ENLARGE)

    The Saudi government has called allegations of civilian casualties fabricated or exaggerated and has resisted calls for an independent investigation. The Saudi-led coalition has said it takes its responsibilities under international humanitarian law seriously, and is committed to the protection of civilians in Yemen. The Saudi embassy in Washington declined further comment.

    In a statement issued to Reuters before Saturday's attack, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said, "U.S. security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check . . . We have repeatedly expressed our deep concern about airstrikes that allegedly killed and injured civilians and also the heavy humanitarian toll paid by the Yemeni people."

    The United States continues to urge the Kingdom to take additional steps to avoid "future civilian harm," he added.

    NO-STRIKE LISTS

    Since March 2015, Washington has authorized more than $22.2 billion in weapons sales to Riyadh, much of it yet to be delivered. That includes a $1.29 billion sale of precision munitions announced in November 2015 and specifically meant to replenish stocks used in Yemen.

    In internal policy discussions, officials said, the Pentagon and the State Department's Near East Affairs bureau leaned toward preserving good relations with Riyadh at a time when friction was increasing because of the nuclear deal with Iran.

    On the other side, the State Department's Office of the Legal Advisor, backed by government human rights specialists, expressed concern over U.S. complicity in possible Saudi violations of the laws of war, a former official said. Reuters could not determine the timing and form of that warning.

    U.S. refueling and logistical support of Riyadh's air force - even more than the arms sales - risked making the United States a party to the Yemen conflict under international law, three officials said.

    About 3,800 civilians have died in Yemen, with Saudi-led airstrikes on markets, hospitals and schools accounting for 60 percent of the death toll, the United Nations human rights office said in August.

    Extinguish.JPGFirefighters try to extinguish fire at the community hall where Saudi-led warplanes struck a funeral in Sanaa/REUTERS, Khaled Abdullah. (ENLARGE)

    It stopped short of accusing either side of war crimes, saying that was for a national or international court to decide.

    The White House convened a meeting in August 2015 on how best to engage the Saudis over rising civilian casualties, the e-mails show, in a sign of mounting concern over the issue. That same month, State Department officials gathered to discuss how to track those casualties.

    In late January 2016, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken chaired a meeting with officials across the department in part to discuss "Options to limit U.S. exposure to LOAC (Law of Armed Conflict) concerns," according to a Blinken aide's e-mail.

    The Law of Armed Conflict, a group of international laws and treaties, prohibits attacks on civilians and requires combatants to minimize civilian death and damage.

    While preserving military ties with Riyadh, the Obama administration has tried to reduce civilian casualties by providing the Saudis with "no-strike lists" of targets to avoid, dispatching to Saudi Arabia a U.S. expert on mitigating civilian casualties and pressing for peace talks, the officials said.

    Forensic.JPGForensic experts investigate the scene at the community hall where Saudi-led warplanes struck a funeral in Sanaa/REUTERS, Khaled Abdullah. (ENLARGE)

    "If we're going to be supporting the coalition, then we have to accept a degree of responsibility for what's happening in Yemen and exercise it appropriately," a senior administration official said.

    One no-strike list, called "The Overlay," was delivered to the Saudis in mid to late 2015. It included water and electrical facilities and infrastructure vital to delivering humanitarian aid, a second senior official said.

    "YOU CAN BE GUILTY"

    In mid-October 2015, the White House ordered the U.S. Agency for International Development to compile a separate list of "critical infrastructure" that should be spared, a State Department e-mail said.

    Striking sites on the list could "do significant harm to Yemen's ability to recover expeditiously" from the war, according to confidential U.S. talking points drafted the same month for use with Saudi officials.

    Inspect.JPGWorkers and journalists inspect damage at the Alsonidar Group's water pumps and pipes factory one day after it was hit for the second time by Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa/REUTERS, Khaled Abdullah. (ENLARGE)

    "We urge you to exercise the utmost diligence in the targeting process and to take all precautions to minimize civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure," one talking point said.

    After ceasefire talks collapsed in August and airstrikes resumed, coalition bombs destroyed the main bridge from the port of Hodeidah to the capital of Sanaa, a main supply route for humanitarian food aid, Oxfam International said.

    Another U.S. official said the bridge was on a U.S. no-strike list. Reuters has not seen those lists.

    In May, Washington suspended sales to Riyadh of cluster munitions, which release dozens of bomblets and are considered particularly dangerous to civilians, officials said.

    More than 60 U.S. House of Representatives members are urging Obama to halt a new Saudi arms sale. An effort to block that sale failed in the U.S. Senate on Sept. 21.

    Armed.JPGArmed people demonstrate outside the United Nations offices against Saudi-led air strikes on funeral hall in Sanaa/REUTERS, Khaled Abdullah. (ENLARGE)

    Some critics say the administration's approach has failed.

    "In the law of war, you can be guilty for aiding and abetting war crimes and at some point the . . . evidence is going to continue to mount and I think the administration is now in an untenable situation," said Congressman Ted Lieu, a California Democrat and former military prosecutor.

    Additional reporting by Phil Stewart and Yara Bayoumy. All links added by Beachwood.

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    See also, from The Intercept: U.S. And U.K. Continue To Actively Participate In Saudi War Crimes, Targeting of Yemeni Civilians.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:54 AM | Permalink

    Cubs Retweet: Pitching The Offense

    Don't look now, but the Cubs' offense is cold again in the playoffs - except for the pitchers, who are providing the power. Good thing, too, because Jake Arrieta's 3-run homer last night may temporarily helps us forget that he's become a true concern going forward (as is Hector Rondon).

    Meanwhile, Joe Maddon - at least temporarily - lost his Midas touch with a series of moves he's getting uncharacteristically roasted for today. (Though some of the criticism is way off-base: Mike Mulligan sounded like he just arrived on Earth this morning complaining on The Score that Maddon should just stick with a winning lineup. Have you watched the Cubs at all this year, Mully?)

    Anyway, this is how we get to a Game 5 at Wrigley on Thursday: The Giants win tonight and we're back to Lester-Cueto, and let's face it, as good as Lester was in Game 1, Cueto was actually better. Thank God for Javy Baez!

    Now, to the best Twitter commentary from Game 3 and looking ahead to tonight's game:

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:51 AM | Permalink

    October 10, 2016

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. Divine Eve at the Burlington on Friday night.


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    2. The Suffers at Schubas on Friday night.

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    3. Kanye West at the big arena on Friday night.

    Kot: "Kanye West took to the air Friday at the United Center and floated just out of arm's reach of the audience on a stage that resembled a flat-bed space ship. But he wasn't the night's only star.

    "Instead, top billing was shared by a capacity audience, a madly dancing gaggle of fans who commanded the spotlights normally reserved for the headlining act.

    "It was West's first concert since abruptly departing the stage in New York last Sunday because of a 'family emergency.' He canceled two tour dates this week to be with his wife, Kim Kardashian, who was robbed at gunpoint in Paris. She was unharmed and reportedly back home in Los Angeles on Friday."

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    4. Ruth B at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.

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    5. The Selecter at 1st Ward on Friday night.

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    6. The Crombies at 1st Ward on Friday night.

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    7. Southern Culture on the Skids at Schubas on Friday night.

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    8. Underground System at Constellation on Saturday night.

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    9. Alessia Cara at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.

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    10. Leprous at Reggies on Saturday night.

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    11. The Amity Affliction at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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    12. Carnifex at House of Blues on Sunday night.

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    13. Opeth at the Riv on Sunday night.

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    14. Gloria Trevi at Rosemont Theatre on Saturday night.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    Tweeting The Bears | Ken Bone For QB

    The popular narrative among the sports punditry seems to be that Hoyer may have put up 397 yards - without an interception - on Sunday, but Jay Cutler would have won that game because he would have thrown Alshon Jeffery a jump ball in the waning minutes instead of attempt another pass to Cam Meredith.

    Please.

    Did Hoyer make the wrong choice on fourth down with the game on the line? Seems so. But would the Bears have been in a position to win if Cutler had played? Not necessarily; it's hard to believe he would have avoided at least one meaningful turnover. Am I saying Hoyer is a better quarterback than Cutler? No - not at all. But Cutler is not the answer any more than Hoyer is, and that, as I have written, is the real quarterback controversy.

    On the other hand, Hoyer has a 108.5 QB rating on the season and it's just possible that we have a Trestman-McCown kind of mindmeld going on here with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, who is suddenly smart again. Meanwhile, Vic Fangio is no longer a genius.

    To the Twitters:

    Hope for what?

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    Fugoataboutit

    Are you scared? I am.

    Yes, this Cubs team is different. They know not from goats.

    Yes, this manager is different. He embraces goats.

    Yes, this fan base is different. They prefer beards that make them look like goats.

    But the universe has a will. A goat-based will.

    Now don't get me wrong. There are no such thing as curses. (At least that's what I keep telling myself and my therapist.)

    And I'm sick of goats. I'm sick of the Billy Goat. I'm sick of Bill Murray's Goatbusters. I'm sick of the whole damn thing.

    But you can't be a Cubs fan of a certain age without feeling a bit of trepidation. The universe has rules. What goes up must come down. Time is relative. Diet Pepsi is better than Diet Coke, but regular Coke is better than regular Pepsi. This is just the way the universe is made.

    And for some reason, the Cubs don't get to World Series' anymore, much less win them.

    I thought I didn't feel this way anymore. I thought the dread - the internal repetitive thoughts of just how the Cubs will blow it - was through. I thought I had changed, just as the Cubs have changed.

    But the closer we get, the harder it is to repress the past. That's the real curse.

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    The Week in Review: The Cubs opened the playoffs with two wins against the Giants at Wrigley. It was both classic and weird.

    The Week in Preview: With a 2-0 lead in the best-of-three series, the Cubs travel to the West Coast to begin the painful process of reminding their fans what this franchise is: Cursed.

    Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. In fact, Szczur isn't even on the roster for this series, giving way to the relatively surging Albert Almora. No matter, Ben Zobrist has played both of the first two games in left so Javy Baez could play second. Dexter Fowler has been in center and Jason Heyward in right, of course, but the real fun in the outfield carousel could begin Monday night; Joe Maddon is hinting that Heyward could sit and Soler and Almora could play. So next week's Musical Outfielders item will be much more fun than this week's.

    Former Annoying Cub of the Week: Ricky Renteria.

    Current Annoying Cub of the Week: Javy Baez, because his heroic antics have nearly been matched by his anti-heroic antics.

    Mad(don) Scientist: Going to Travis Wood in Game 2 to replace an injured Kyle Hendricks early instead of putative longman and sixth (fifth in the playoffs) starter Mike Montgomery was the Maddon Scientist's typical stroke of genius, given that Montgomery does not hit that home run. You almost start to feel like Maddon is just toying with everybody, like it's a Star Trek episode or something.

    Kubs Kalendar: Every fan attending Game 5 at Wrigley on Thursday will receive free post-traumatic stress disorder treatment starting the second the Giants record the last out and advance to the National League Championship Series.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the universe has a will, and that will is not to be fucked with.

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    This is The Cub Factor. We welcome your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    The [Monday] Papers

    There was no Weekend Desk Report, nor a Friday column. A proper column will return on Tuesday. But there's been plenty of other stuff elsewhere here on the world's most interesting website . . .

    Beachwood Photo Booth: Donuts
    Buy one thingie, get one thingie free.

    NU Nobel Winner Kinda Fun
    But he'll also terrorize you.

    Dirty Waters: Confessions Of Chicago's Last Harbor Boss
    The previous four bosses ended up in federal prison.

    Renaming Trump Plaza
    We have some suggestions.

    Obama Still Dragging On Drone Promises
    Ready to hand over policies to Trump!

    Hallmark Teams With Worst Junkie Ever To Boost Lame Factor
    Will Chance the Rapper save the day?

    The Week In Chicago Rock
    Featuring: Christine and the Queens, Skylar Grey, Kongos, The Joy Formidable, Cavalera Conspiracy, Porter Robinson and Madeon, Frank Catalano and Jimmy Chamberlin, Youthful Grey, Beartooth, Tom Compton, Starbomb, Lou Gramm, Mord Frysa, and Cinchel.

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock
    Featuring: Divine Eve, The Suffers, Kanye West, The Selecter, The Crombies, Alessia Cara, Southern Culture on the Skids, Ruth B, Underground System, Leprous, Carnifex, Opeth, The Amity Affliction, and Gloria Trevi.

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    From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

    The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #122: Cubs Turn Weird
    Dear America: Meet Javy Baez.

    Plus: Coffman Gives In To Grandpa Ross; Joe Midas; QB Kontroversy; Bulls New Old Vibe; Blackhawks' New Faces; The Sky; The Fire; and Oh, Lovie.

    Top 10 Ways The Cubs Will Blow It
    Keywords: Brant Brown, Michael Ferro, Donald Trump.

    The Cub Factor
    Fugoataboutit.

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    The Sound Opinions Listening Report: "The Replacements never had a hit song, but few bands have inspired such a deep personal connection with their fans. Bob Mehr, author of the new biography Trouble Boys, speaks with Jim and Greg about the heartbreaking story and enduring legacy of the Minneapolis band. Plus, a review of the new album from Solange and a look at the sample driving Drake's 'Hotline Bling.'"

    -

    BeachBook
    A sampling.

    Kenyans have dominated the Chicago Marathon for decades.

    *

    "President Obama has encouraged people to help Haiti by donating to the Red Cross. Here's what happened the last time - after Haiti's 2010 earthquake."

    *

    MUST-READ: The Panama Trillions. Trust me, it's relevant to you.

    *

    Everything You Need To Know About The Fascinating, Colorful 1908 Cubs.

    -

    TweetWood
    A sampling.

    *

    *

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    The Beachwood Tronc Line: Let it be.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 AM | Permalink

    Human Rights Groups To Obama: Time To Follow Through On Drone Promises

    A dozen human rights, civil liberties, and faith groups are calling on President Barack Obama to follow through on the promise he made via executive order in July to transparently probe and address civilian deaths from drone strikes.

    A letter sent Thursday from groups including Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Reprieve lists "10 U.S. Strikes Requiring Investigation and Acknowledgement," asking that Obama "direct the relevant agencies, at a minimum, to:

    • Publicly acknowledge U.S. government responsibility for these strikes;
    • Ensure review and prompt, thorough, effective, independent, impartial, and transparent investigations into these cases and all other cases in which civilians are reported to have been killed or injured;
    • Publicly disclose the methodology, scope, and findings of these investigations. With only those redactions necessary to protect information that is properly classified, acknowledge and provide explanations where there are discrepancies between findings of the U.S. government's investigations and those of the United Nations, human rights organizations, and journalists, including how these findings were assessed in the course of U.S. investigations;
    • Provide details of any lessons that can be learned from these reviews or investigations of these incidents that have led, or will lead, to measures to avoid unlawful strikes and better avoid, or at least minimize, civilian casualties;
    • Offer condolence payments and other forms of compensation to civilians injured or the families of civilians killed in these strikes."

    The strikes named in the letter took place in Yemen and Pakistan from 2009 to 2014. The signatories stress that they do not consider theirs to be "an exhaustive list," but rather "examples of strikes in which civilian harm has been credibly alleged."

    The groups note the Obama administration's "public acknowledgment and apology for the deaths of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto," the American and Italian, respectively, who were killed by a CIA drone strike in Pakistan last year. They also cite recent news that the U.S. government has agreed to pay compensation to Lo Porto's family.

    "These are welcome initiatives," the letter reads, "that should be followed in a systematic fashion, which the executive order commits to doing . . . Doing so would go a long way to providing dignity and a measure of justice to victims and families and set a strong precedent for future administrations to follow."

    Obama's executive order was issued in early July alongside a maligned report that claimed U.S. drone strikes have killed between 64 and 116 civilians in areas outside of active hostilities since 2009. That number was much lower than the estimates of independent groups.

    According to The Intercept:

    In a recent interview with New York magazine, Obama reflected on the dangers of institutionalizing a regime of secretive borderless warfare executed primarily by drones, and claimed that his administration had done much to rein in "institutional comfort and inertia with what looks like a pretty antiseptic way of disposing of enemies."

    He insisted that the decision to pull back the program somewhat "had less to do with what the left or Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International or other organizations were saying and had more to do with me looking at sort of the way in which the number of drone strikes was going up."

    But he nonetheless credited "having these nonprofits continue to question and protest" as an influence on reform.

    Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the United States was among more than 40 countries to sign onto a declaration "recognizing that misuse of armed or strike-enabled [unmanned aerial vehicles] could fuel conflict and instability."

    But, as Reprieve noted in a press statement, the Obama administration is also arguing in the U.S. federal court case Jaber v. Obama - scheduled to be heard in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 13 - that its drone program and practices are beyond the reach of the U.S. courts. Reprieve has called the case "Obama's first chance to make good on his recent executive order on American drone killing."

    "President Obama is right to warn of a perpetual covert drone war; he is right to promise transparency," said Reprieve staff attorney Jennifer Gibson. "But his words aren't enough. The Obama administration must investigate mistakes in the drone program, keep an accurate count of civilian deaths and be publicly accountable. That process must start now. Any delay could mean that President Obama's promised transparency vanishes with a new administration, and that his worst fears about drones come to pass."

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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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.

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

    * What If A Drone Strike Hit An American Wedding?

    * Jon Langford's "Drone Operator" Debuts Again.

    * Confirmed: American Bombs Killing Civilians In Yemen.

    * Exclusive: Obama's Afghan Drone War.

    * Obama's Dishonest Drone Legacy: A Cavalcade Of Absurd Lies About Civilian Deaths.

    * Obama's Favorite Weapon.

    * Obama Drone Disclosures A Sorry Half-Measure.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:26 AM | Permalink

    Hallmark Channel Adds Worst Junkie Ever To National Christmas Tree Lighting Special

    WASHINGTON - James Taylor has been added to the lineup for the 94th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.

    Find out who else has been announced so far at www.thenationaltree.org.

    Taking place on Thursday, December 1, on the Ellipse at President's Park (White House), the special event wraps the National Park Service centennial year and celebrates the launch of a second century of stewardship.

    Through a partnership with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, the National Christmas Tree Lighting will be telecast exclusively on the Hallmark Channel on Monday, December 5, and simulcast on DirecTV 4K Ultra HD.*

    Free tickets for the 94th annual tree lighting ceremony presented by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation are awarded through an online lottery, which began October 7, at 10 a.m. EDT and closes at 10 a.m. EDT on Monday, October 10.

    To enter the lottery, visit www.thenationaltree.org and click the "TICKET LOTTERY" link.

    Those without computer access may call 877-444-6777 (TDD 877-833-6777) to enter the lottery. Lottery winners will be notified on October 27.

    Dates to note:

    • October 10 at 10 a.m. EDT: Free ticket lottery closes
    • October 27: lottery winners will be notified
    • December 1: National Christmas Tree Lighting takes place on the Ellipse in President's Park
    • December 5 at 7 p.m. ET/PT: National Christmas Tree Lighting telecast exclusively on the Hallmark Channel and simulcast on DirecTV 4K Ultra HD

    An American holiday tradition started by President Calvin Coolidge in 1923, the National Christmas Tree Lighting is a great example of the countless ways there are to #FindYourPark.

    Launched in March 2015, Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque is a public awareness and education movement to inspire people to connect with, celebrate, and support America's national parks and community-based programs.

    Celebrating the National Park Service Centennial and setting the stage for the Service's next 100 years, Find Your Park invites people to discover and share their own unique connections to our nation's natural landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history.

    Keep up with the National Christmas Tree on Twitter at @TheNationalTree, follow #NCTL2016 on social media, and visit www.thenationaltree.org for more information about the event and its history.

    Additional information, more talent announcements, and coverage logistics for news media will be released at a later date.

    *Please note that a previous release said it would be broadcast on December 2. The broadcast is now confirmed for December 5.

    ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

    More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 413 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.

    The National Park Service has cared for the White House and its grounds since 1933. President's Park, which includes the Ellipse and Lafayette Park, was officially included in the national park system in 1961.

    Visit us at: www.nps.gov, on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

    ABOUT CROWN MEDIA FAMILY NETWORKS
    Crown Media Family Networks is the umbrella unit subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, Inc., housing cable's leading family friendly networks, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, as well as their corresponding digital extensions HallmarkChannel.com and HallmarkMoviesandMysteries.com.

    The company operates and distributes both channels in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) with Hallmark Channel available to 90 million subscribers and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in 68 million homes in the United States.

    Hallmark Channel features an ambitious slate of new, original content, including movies; scripted series, such as When Calls the Heart, and Good Witch and Chesapeake Shores; annual specials including Hero Dog Awards and Kitten Bowl; world premieres of Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations, and a daily, two-hour lifestyle show, Home & Family.

    Hallmark Channel is also home to the popular annual holiday franchise Countdown to Christmas, featuring a lineup of 24/7 holiday programming. Rounding out the network's lineup are television's most beloved comedy and drama series, including The Golden Girls, The Middle, Frasier, Last Man Standing and Home Improvement.

    Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is a separate 24-hour, digital cable network featuring a unique mix of new, original movies and acquired series focused on the lighter side of the suspense and mystery genres. The network also features its own annual holiday programming franchise, Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas, as well as presentations from the multi-award-winning Hallmark Hall of Fame library.

    For more information, please visit Crown Media Press.

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    Boo.

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    Yay!

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    Previously: 24 Hours With The Hallmark Channel.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:46 AM | Permalink

    Northwestern Chemistry Nobel Laureate Fraser Stoddart Made Our Department A Fun Place To Be

    Fraser Stoddart was awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly with Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Bernard Feringa "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines."

    Stoddart is currently professor of chemistry at Northwestern University.

    AP:


    Stoddart was born in Edinburgh and went to university there, then taking up a postdoctoral position in Ontario before returning to the UK as an academic, initially at Sheffield University and then at the University of Birmingham.

    It was at Birmingham, as a professor of organic chemistry from 1990 until 1997, that Stoddart published key work cited in the award, such as the first molecular rotaxane - an organic ring structure threaded on an axle. Within three years he had worked out how to transform this into a controllable molecular machine that could switch the ring structure back and forth along the axle between two molecular docking points.

    Explained:

    The genius of Stoddart and his co-winners is that they were able to see that the natural world, in particular biology, is replete with examples of molecular machines.

    Enzymes, for example, capture biological molecules, in order to perform chemical transformations, before releasing them. They had the vision to understand nature's functioning molecular machines, and translate this understanding into designing and actually making non-biological machines with non-biological functions.

    Jon's Time With Stoddart

    One of us (Jon Preece) was fortunate enough to do his doctoral research under the supervision of Stoddart. He was, and still is, a man of tremendous vision for the future of chemistry, and what its impact might be on society.

    In his group it was clear he had an infectious enthusiasm for science, and allowed and encouraged free thinking and the exploration of ideas. It was a remarkably stimulating and - dare I say it - a fun place to be in the 1990s.

    He quite simply was, and still is, an inspiration to the numerous young scientists who have been lucky enough to be part of the Stoddart family, which amazingly spans five decades of highly productive and groundbreaking research.

    An integral part of Stoddart's life at the time was his late wife Norma, who in addition to being a mother to their two daughters, and organizer of Stoddart's professional and personal life, was also a friend, mentor, adviser and sometimes surrogate mother to the young researchers in the group. She really played a central role in the successes of the group. She sadly passed away in 2004, but is fondly remembered by everyone.

    As you might imagine when it comes to science Stoddart is intense, has an eye for detail and is very particular about how things should be done. This was both exasperating and a great learning experience, in equal measure. At least that's what I recall as a young PhD student, having my manuscript red-penned by him for the umpteenth time, or him interrogating my work and asking me probing questions. These are lessons that I have taken with me to this very day, and use it to "terrorize" my own students.

    Outside of work Stoddart and his wife were extraordinarily generous and fun to know. As a group we had many parties at the Stoddart house or at local pubs to celebrate successful PhD vivas, birthdays and the like. Norma would put on some Scottish music and drag Stoddart up to do a highland dance together. Surprisingly he was quite nimble - a quality which he would occasionally use on the football pitch with the group on a Friday evening.

    After receiving the prize, Stoddart was quite outspoken about his views on how Brexit will affect science: "I am very disturbed by the talk coming out of the UK at the moment . . . Anything that stops the free movement of people is a big negative for science." This was not surprising - he was never afraid to air his views, especially on issues that have a direct effect on science.

    It is fitting to reflect upon one of the Stoddart group's celebrated achievements at Birmingham and widely reported, which was the synthesis of Olympiadane in 1994, a molecule formed from five interlocking molecular rings.

    In an Olympic Year, then, it is fitting that the creator of this molecule became a Nobel laureate, science's equivalent of an Olympic gold medal.

    stoddart.jpgNot the authors.

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    Simon Cotton is a senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of Birmingham. Jon Preece is head of the School of Chemistry and professor of nanoscale chemistry at the University of Birmingham. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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    Comments welcome.

    The Conversation

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:33 AM | Permalink

    October 9, 2016

    The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #122: Cubs Turn Weird

    Dear America: Meet Javy Baez. Plus: Coffman Gives In To Grandpa Ross; Joe Midas; QB Kontroversy; Bulls New Old Vibe; Blackhawks' New Faces; The Sky; The Fire; and Oh, Lovie.


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    SHOW NOTES

    * 122.

    :22: Dear America: Meet Javy Baez.

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    What were you thinking, Javy?

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    Nice kicks, Javy.

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    Respect the basket.

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    Broadcaster Bingo.


    Editor's Note: I dunno, Costas is kinda right, isn't he?

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    Head first, in two parts.

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    Bryant wears baby glove so Baez can make the play at first.

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    10:30: BREAKING: Coffman Gives In On Grandpa!

    * Marty Gangler Last Holdout.

    * "Who does Baez credit the most with bringing out the best in him? Who else but retiring catcher David Ross."

    Speaking of Baez . . .

    * J. Rogers, Aug. 17, 2013:

    After hitting his 31st home run of the season on Friday - a walk-off shot for Double-A Tennessee - Chicago Cubs prospect Javier Baez was once again the pregame talk before the major league team took on the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.

    Baez has 14 home runs in 172 plate appearances in Double-A after hitting 17 for Class A Daytona in 337 plate appearances. Those numbers brought on the question about next season. Baez is targeted for Triple-A Iowa, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum left the door open for more . . .

    The Cubs' top pick of 2011 is turning heads wherever he goes, and his bat speed continues to be compared to Gary Sheffield's. But his fielding might keep him in the minors for a while longer. The Cubs' director of scouting said recently he'll probably "take some ground balls" at other positions besides shortstop, but either way, he'll need to cut down on the mistakes. He's made 41 errors combined between Class A and Double-A this season.

    -

    * We Got Wood.

    -

    * Sports Illustrated on Madison Bumgarner:

    Wind whispers through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, a land so remote that no one of European descent set eyes on it until 1752, and even today the howls of coyotes can be more reliable than cellphone reception. In one of Earth's great hardwood forests, that wind swoops and soars through white pines, maples, oaks, chestnuts and poplars. It's the kind of place where American legend still survives against the advancement of Google soldiers, the fact-finding troops armed with the science of satellite imagery, big data and server farms, one of which is buried in these very hills . . .

    * Johnny Cueto: Man Of Many Motions.

    * San Francisco Chronicle: Giants Pick Ex-Cub Jeff Samardzija Over Matt Moore.

    * Kyle "Leo" Farnsworth.

    36:58: Joe Maddon.

    635443950863157455_King-Midas.jpg

    41:28: Ricky Renteria.

    Smiley.svg.png

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    46:34: QB Kontroversy.

    * Rhodes: The Real Bears QB Controversy.

    * What a backwards way of looking at things - there is not a single team in the NFL that doesn't see the Bears on the schedule and consider them beatable. #HometownPrism

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    54:10: The Bulls' Vibe.

    * Ex-Bull's Vibe.

    56:01: Zawaski: Opportunity Abounds For Young Blackhawks.

    57:33: McGraw: What The Sky Should Look For In The Offseason.

    57:56: Chicago Fire Still Mandated To Continue Playing Games No One Cares About.

    58:05: Oh, Lovie.

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    STOPPAGE: 1:06

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    For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:20 PM | Permalink

    October 8, 2016

    The Week In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. Christine and the Queens at the Vic on Tuesday night.


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    2. Skylar Grey at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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    3. Kongos at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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    4. The Joy Formidable at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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    5. Cavalera Conspiracy at Reggies on Wednesday night.

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    6. Porter Robinson and Madeon at the Aragon on Wednesday night.

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    7. Frank Catalano and Jimmy Chamberlin at the Hideout for The Interview Show on Thursday night.

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    8. Youthful Grey at Wire in Berwyn on Sunday night.

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    9. Beartooth at House of Blues on Sunday night.

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    10. Drake at the Chicago arena on Wednesday night.

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    11. Tom Compton at Phyllis' Musical Inn on Sunday night.

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    Catching up with . . .

    Starbomb at the Aragon last Saturday night.

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    Lou Gramm at the Arcada in St. Charles last Saturday night.

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    Mord Frysa at Cobra Lounge last Saturday night.

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    Cinchel at a house show last Saturday night.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 AM | Permalink

    October 7, 2016

    Renaming Trump Plaza

    "Chicago may say goodbye to the 'Honorary Trump Plaza' street sign if Chicago aldermen have any say on the issue," CBS Chicago (and everyone else) reports.

    "The aldermen introduced an ordinance Wednesday to strip down the honorary street sign, which sits outside the Trump Tower on Wabash Avenue. They cited the presidential candidate's "hateful and racist campaign against immigrants and minorities."

    "Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward and 46 other aldermen called for the removal of the brown sign honoring 'Trump Plaza.'"

    Sounds good to us. But instead of simply removing the sign, we have some suggestions on replacing it:

    * Ed Burke Plaza. Pitch it to tourists: The World's Most Plowed Plaza.

    * Bears Plaza. If you get hurt there, nobody will ever learn how serious it was.

    * Rauner Plaza. A non-union plaza without workers' comp and exempt from trip-and-fall lawsuits.

    * City Council Plaza. Saves money by being interchangeable with Rahm Plaza.

    * The Peoples Plaza. Peoples Gas lands the naming rights.

    * Aubrey Plaza. Or would that be Aubrey Plaza Plaza?

    * These People Voted For Trump Plaza: Let them buy bricks inscribed with their names so we can walk over them every day.

    * Joe Maddon Plaza. Arranged differently every day.

    * Wrigleyville Plaza. Right-plaza sucks!

    * Smashing Pumpkins Plaza. Not what you think; actually a plaza for smashing pumpkins.

    * Sun-Times Plaza. A time travel thought experiment.

    * TIF Plaza. Taxes assessed on the plaza will be diverted from the schools to a mayoral slush fund.

    * Private Plaza. The plaza will purportedly become more efficient while no longer being subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

    * Free Speech Plaza. Citizens who wish to speak before the city council or board of education will now be shuttled to this plaza to scream into the wind for three minutes, max.

    * Aleppo Plaza. Standing in solidarity with the Tribune's presidential nominee.

    * Olympic Plaza. We bid on the Olympics and all we got was this lousy plaza.

    * Marla Maples Plaza. Have a little fun, Chicago.

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    Contributing: Tim Willette, Steve Rhodes

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    Comments welcome.

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    1. From Michael Webber:

    Pussy Galore Plaza: Trumpian and Bondian at once.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 PM | Permalink

    Dirty Waters: Confessions Of Chicago's Last Harbor Boss

    "In 1987, the City of Chicago hired a former radical college chaplain to clean up rampant corruption on the waterfront. R. J. Nelson thought he was used to the darker side of the law - he had been followed by federal agents and wiretapped due to his antiwar stances in the sixties - but nothing could prepare him for the wretched bog that constituted the world of a Harbor Boss," the University of Chicago Press says.

    Go on.

    "Director of Harbors and Marine Services was a position so mired in corruption that its previous four directors ended up in federal prison."

    You had me at "mired in corruption."

    "Nelson inherited angry constituents, prying journalists, shell-shocked employees, and a tobacco-stained office still bearing a busted door that had been smashed in by the FBI. Undeterred, Nelson made it his personal mission to become a 'pneumacrat,' a public servant who, for the common good, always follows the spirit - if not always the letter - of the law.

    "Dirty Waters is a wry, no-holds-barred memoir of Nelson's time controlling some of the city's most beautiful spots while facing some of its ugliest traditions. A guide like no other, Nelson takes us through Chicago's beloved 'blue spaces' and deep into the city's political morass.

    dirtywaters.jpg

    "He reveals the different moralities underlining three mayoral administrations, from Harold Washington to Richard M. Daley, and navigates us through the gritty mechanisms of the Chicago machine.

    "He also deciphers the sometimes insular world of boaters and their fraught relationship with their land-based neighbors.

    "Ultimately, Dirty Waters is a tale of morality, of what it takes to be a force for good in the world and what struggles come from trying to stay ethically afloat in a sea of corruption."

    *

    I haven't read this book yet - I don't even have it - but it's on my list. In the meantime, lets dip into the archives for more background on Mr. Nelson, whose name is not familiar to me.

    His hiring:

    Publication: Tribune
    Date: March 17, 1987
    Headline: Embattled Park Exec Quits Post
    (By future editor of the paper Ann Marie Lipinski)

    A Chicago Park District executive, who is under federal investigation, resigned Monday following a separate internal inquiry by park officials who accused him of accepting a bribe.

    An attorney for Gerald Pfeiffer, the embattled director of the park district's marine division, tendered Pfeiffer's resignation in a Monday morning phone call to Jesse Madison, park district executive vice president.

    Pfeiffer was one of former Supt. Edmund Kelly's most powerful loyalists at the park district, and his resignation closes another chapter in a 9-month long dismantling of Kelly's regime by allies of Mayor Harold Washington.

    Madison said Pfeiffer's departure from his $53,000-a-year post takes effect immediately, although he has accrued enough vacation and personal time to remain on the payroll through April 27. Robert Nelson, an official in the Chicago office of a Wisconsin sailing enterprise, has been named as Pfeiffer's replacement.

    Jeffrey Steinback, attorney for Pfeiffer, 53, said that the 13-year park district veteran quit because he was "desirous of pursuing other goals in life," including writing. "By and large he enjoyed his tenure over at the park district and I think he will have left it with mostly fond memories." Pfeiffer has denied any wrongdoing.

    Knowledgeable sources said, however, that Pfeiffer was going to be suspended this week. He had been the subject of an internal investigation centering on what Madison said last August were "questions of potential payoffs."

    The park district's inquiry coincided with a federal grand jury investigation of Pfeiffer's awarding of boat mooring assignments. The federal probe, in which the grand jury has subpoened the records of the 47th Ward regular Democratic organization, headed by Kelly, is ongoing, sources said Monday.

    According to sources, the move to oust Pfeiffer intensified about two weeks ago when top park district officials, including Madison, general counsel George Galland and security consultant William Geller, called Pfeiffer into Madison's office to ask him about allegations of wrongdoing gathered during the district's own investigation.

    Pfeiffer, who was accompanied by his lawyer, cited the 5th Amendment in declining to answer most questions, sources said.

    Following the meeting, Pfeiffer was given a written list of three charges being leveled against him by park district officials. Although neither Steinback nor park officials would comment on the scope of the allegations, an informed source said they included charges that Pfeiffer in 1979 had accepted a television set valued at $300 to $400 in exchange for awarding a boater a desirable mooring.

    The source said park officials also alleged that Pfeiffer in 1983 participated in "phony" inspections of two Chicago yachts that resulted in the owners being cited for false pollution-control violations. One of the owners paid a $700 fine to the park district on the basis of what a source described as "cooked-up evidence."

    Park district officials scheduled a second meeting with Pfeiffer last Thursday to allow him to respond to the charges. But Pfeiffer declined to appear at the meeting, which sources said was planned as an administrative hearing to be documented by a court reporter before submitting the allegations to the civil service board. Pfeiffer had been granted civil service protection under Kelly.

    Though Steinback submitted a written denial of the charges, park district executives decided to suspend Pfeiffer pending a civil service hearing, according to officials.

    Nelson, 47, the Chicago operations manager of the Wisconsin-based Sailboats Inc., said Madison phoned him last Friday to offer him Pfeiffer's job.

    Nelson, who reported for work Monday morning about the same time Steinback offered Pfeiffer's resignation, said he first interviewed for the post last November in a meeting with Madison and park board president Walter Netsch.

    The interview was the result of a letter Nelson wrote to Netsch last year after Washington's allies took control of the park district board. In the letter Nelson, a longtime Chicago boater, complained about the conditions of park district harbors and asked for a chance to improve them.

    "They handed me the budget, a set of keys, and I moved in," he said Monday. "The general feeling is that the harbors are a mess in every respect."

    Attempts to reach Pfeiffer Monday were unsuccessful, but park sources and an associate of Pfeiffer's said the former marine director had operated with very little authority since Kelly was ousted.

    The Tribune reported last August that park officials cooperated with federal agents in an unannounced search of Pfeiffer's park district office in which mooring records were seized by authorities from the FBI and U.S. attorney's office.

    *

    Publication: Sun-Times
    Date: April 12, 1987
    Headline: New Park Dist. Chief A Skilled Boater

    With a solid boating background, Robert Nelson had more to recommend him for the $55,000-a-year job as the Chicago Park District's new harbors chief than the word of a Chicago alderman.

    Then again, the powers that be at 425 E. McFetridge might not have given full scrutiny to Nelson's letter of application had not his friend and alderman, Lawrence S. Bloom (5th), put in a call just to make sure.

    "I had sent in a letter and called there (the Park District) myself, but I wasn't getting anywhere," the affable Nelson said candidly in an interview last week at his new office.

    "The only thing Larry did was set up a meeting for me with (Park District Executive Vice President) Jesse D. Madison."

    And that, apparently, was that.

    Madison and his aides had been searching quietly for a replacement for former Marine Division director Gerald Pfeiffer, who has been the subject of a federal corruption investigation for nearly a year.

    It wasn't easy dispatching with Pfeiffer, who over the years allegedly had used highly coveted boat slips as political fund-raising devices for his longtime pal, former Park Supt. Edmund L. Kelly.

    But finally, Park District snoops dug up enough unfavorable information on Pfeiffer to persuade him to resign, which he did on March 13. Madison, who values political loyalty, immediately hired Nelson.

    Will Nelson pick up the fund-raising game where Pfeiffer left off?

    "I don't expect to be involved in any of that kind of thing," said Nelson, a 47-year-old South Shore resident who wears a silvery beard and gold rimless glasses. "There has been no hint of such a thing . . . Talk to me in a year."

    Another distinction between Nelson and his predecessor is that Nelson is a boater. In 1980, he sailed across the Atlantic.

    Nelson formerly ran the Chicago office of Sailboats Inc., 345 N. Canal, a boat sales firm that operates two small marinas in Wisconsin. From 1979-84 he was president of Grebe Yacht Sales, 3250 N. Washtenaw.

    Before his work in the boating industry, Nelson worked as business manager for the University of Chicago's theater program, where he helped resuscitate the Court Theater in the late '60s and early '70s.

    Nelson is also a graduate of Colgate's divinity school, and worked on the chaplain's staff at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., for two years during the '60s, although he never was ordained.

    He may find his ministerial training will come in handy in resisting the temptations offered by well-heeled boat owners, some of whom are willing to pay big bucks for choice boat slips.

    For now, he has moved his own 34-foot sailboat from its dock at Monroe Harbor to his summer home.

    As for pressures political and otherwise, Nelson appears to have a realistic view: "I hope I don't get chewed up.

    -

    His firing:

    Publication: Tribune
    Date: September 2, 1993
    Headline: Top Execs For Parks To Be Fired

    A shakeup of the top executives of the Chicago Park District will be announced Thursday by the parks' new general superintendent, Forrest Claypool.

    More than 10 key appointments will be announced, said parks communications director Nora Moreno, who added, "Obviously when a new superintendent comes in, he will bring in his own team members."

    The appointments will be accompanied by firings of current executives, Moreno said.

    Among those to be fired - according to information from sources close to the Park District and verified by Moreno - are Robert Nelson, director of marine and special services; Al Neiman, executive assistant to the general superintendent; Jerome McKinney, director of safety; and Paul Voltz, assistant director of administrative services.

    Of those four, only McKinney could be reached for comment Wednesday night.

    McKinney said he was told at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday he was being replaced. "I was told he (Claypool) wanted his own team.. . . He has that prerogative," said McKinney.

    Of the four, Nelson has perhaps attracted the most publicity.

    A 1992 Tribune story said Nelson "has made the harbors more hospitable to boaters who rent space, attracted more visiting boaters and generated more money in the process."

    In the part of his job dealing with special services, Nelson garnered some negative publicity concerning his handling of tickets for Paul McCartney's 1990 concert at Soldier Field.

    About 2,500 people who ordered tickets over the phone later learned the event had been oversold, leaving them without tickets to the event.

    At the same time, tickets were made available for 2,300 Park District employees, commissioners and their friends, and Chicago-area politicians. Nelson generally admitted this, but insisted that everybody who got a ticket paid for it.

    Erma Tranter, executive director of Friends of the Parks, a private watchdog group, said her information was that 13 major appointments will be announced Thursday.

    She said she did not know "who is going to be hired and fired," but Tranter said she was optimistic that the changes will represent true reform in the parks.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:39 AM | Permalink

    Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore

    In 2015, more than 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies maintained subsidiaries in offshore tax havens, according to Offshore Shell Games, released this week by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

    Collectively, multinationals reported booking $2.5 trillion offshore, with just 30 companies accounting for 66 percent of this total. By indefinitely stashing profits in offshore tax havens, corporations are avoiding up to $717.8 billion in U.S. taxes.

    Here in Illinois, Abbvie, Abbott Laboratories, Mondelez, Caterpillar, and McDonald's combine to hold $98.5 billiion in offshore tax havens like the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Hong Kong.

    "Corporate tax dodging may be legal, but it's certainly not good for everyday taxpayers and responsible small businesses," said Abe Scarr, Illinois PIRG education fund director.

    "It disadvantages small businesses that don't have scores of tax lawyers, creates an economic environment that favors accounting tricks over innovation and real productivity, and forces the rest of us to foot the bill.

    "We're beginning to see a growing international interest in cracking down on corporate tax dodging, and with $717.8 billion on the line, it's time for the U.S. to start doing the same."

    Said Matthew Gardner, of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy: "Every year, corporations collectively report that they have tens of billion more in cash stashed offshore than they did the year before.

    "The hard fact is that the U.S. tax code incentivizes tax haven abuse by allowing companies to indefinitely defer taxes on offshore profits until they are 'repatriated.' The only way to end this kind of tax avoidance is by closing the loopholes in the tax code that enable it."

    Key findings of the report:

    • 367 Fortune 500 companies collectively maintain 10,366 tax haven subsidiaries.
    • The 30 companies with the most money booked offshore for tax purposes collectively operate 2,509 tax haven subsidiaries.
    • 58 percent of companies with any tax haven subsidiaries registered at least one in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, countries with no corporate tax.
    • The profits that American multinationals collectively claim to earn in these island nations total 1,884 percent and 1,313 percent, respectively of each country's entire yearly economic output, an impossible feat.
    • The 30 companies with the most money booked offshore for tax purposes collectively hold nearly $1.65 trillion overseas. That is 66 percent of the nearly $2.5 trillion that Fortune 500 companies together report holding offshore.
    • Only 58 Fortune 500 companies disclose what they would expect to pay in U.S. taxes if these profits were not officially booked offshore. In total, these 58 companies would owe $212 billion in additional federal taxes, equal to the entire state budgets of California, Virginia, and Indiana combined.
    • The average tax rate the 58 companies currently pay to other countries on this income is a mere 6.2 percent, implying that most of it is booked to tax havens.

    Companies headquartered in Illinois were highlighted:

    • AbbVie Inc: AbbVie has $25 billion offshore, more than any other company in Illinois. Abbvie has 38 subsidiaries in tax havens.
    • Abbott Laboratories: Abbott Laboratories has subsidiaries in 94 tax havens, more than any other company in Illinois. They have $22.4 billion held offshore.

    The report concludes that to end tax haven abuse, Congress should end incentives for companies to shift profits offshore, close the most egregious offshore loopholes, strengthen tax enforcement, and increase transparency.

    -

    Previously in Tax Scams:
    * Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes With $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall.

    * Offshoring By 29 Companies Costs Illinois $1.2 Billion Annually.

    * Wealth Doesn't Trickle Down - It Just Floods Offshore, Research Reveals.

    * Government Agencies Allow Corporations To Write Off Billions In Federal Settlements.

    * The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

    * How The Maker Of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing.

    * $1.4 Trillion: Oxfam Exposes The Great Offshore Tax Scam Of U.S. Companies.

    * How Barclay's Turned A $10 Billion Profit Into A Tax Loss.

    * Wall Street Stock Loans Drain $1 Billion A Year From German Taxpayers.

    * German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

    * Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

    * A Schlupfloch Here, A Schlupfloch There. Now It's Real Money.

    * How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

    -

    Previously in the Panama Papers:
    * The Panama Papers: Remarkable Global Media Collaboration Cracks Walls Of Offshore Tax Haven Secrecy.

    * The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

    * The [Monday] Papers.

    * Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

    * Mossack Fonseca's Oligarchs, Dictators And Corrupt White-Collar Businessmen.

    * Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! They're All In It Together.

    * Meet The Panama Papers Editor Who Handled 376 Reporters In 80 Countries.

    -

    Previously in the carried interest loophole:

    * Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

    * The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:49 AM | Permalink

    Top 10 Ways The Cubs Will Blow It

    10. Team faces rash of injuries after a Joe Maddon STD theme trip.

    9. David Ross thrown out at home in Game 7 of World Series after video scoreboard in left tells him to "go the distance."

    8. Wrigley Field repossessed in Ricketts credit swap debacle.

    7. Reserve outfielder Brant Brown added to team after a rash of injuries and "NO! NOOOOO! NOOOOOOOO!"

    6. Rahm Emanuel, glad-handing in the seats near the left-field foul line, does the Bartman.

    5. Knocked out by Iceland in first round.

    4. Michael Ferro gains control of club and replaces players with content optimization bots.

    3. Crane Kenney continues to show up for work every day.

    2. Donald Trump.

    1. Goat tries to sneak poor person into Wrigley and is denied; files lawsuit, gets injunction against playoffs preceding.

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    Contributing: Marty Gangler, Tim Willette, Eric Emery, Steve Rhodes

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:24 AM | Permalink

    Beachwood Photo Booth: Donuts

    Buy one thingie, get one thingie free.

    20160927_230813_resized.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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    More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

    -

    Helene on Twitter!

    -

    Meet Helene!

    -

    Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

    -

    Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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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.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Autumn Station Wagon.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Betty's & Nick's.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Ohio House Impact.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: End School Zone.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Portage Park Peek-A-Boo.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: South Side Sundown.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Susie's Drive-Thru.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Ham.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Food & Liquor, Milhouse.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Hare Blue Line Man.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Schwing!
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Ad Deluxe.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Jesus At The Drive-In.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Conveyance Belt.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonk.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire In The Night.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Nick's Meat Market.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Keep Havin A Good Day.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Knock Knock.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Man At Marie's.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonneville.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Logan Bags.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairwell.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Velvet.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Court Is In Session.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Railyards Rush Hour.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop Killing People.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 1.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Greystone Chicago.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: You Are Beautiful.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Auto Part Overlords.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Bearground.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 2.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Skyway Sculpture.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: The Dome Car.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Hello, St. Joe.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Revolution Books.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Driveway.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Proceed To Checkout.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Summer Ghost.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Daily Double.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: We Are Moving.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 3.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunny Day Tap.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Ashland & Pawn.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Party Store.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:07 AM | Permalink

    October 6, 2016

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Dance Like Nobody's Watching, Chicago

    If we keep up this torrid one-home-victory-per-calendar-year pace, the Cubs may lay claim to a World Series title before the Bears win another game at Soldier Field, so savor every victory as much as you can.

    Possession Play
    "I thought our offense did a good job of possessing the ball," said Head Coach John Fox during an interview with Bears.com senior reporter, Larry Mayer.

    "Lack of possession had been an issue through the first three weeks," said Mayer. "What adjustments did [Offensive Coordinator Dowell] Loggains make after the loss to Dallas?"

    "As a staff," said Fox, in an effort to undercut the notion that Dowell Loggains can achieve anything alone, "we took a look at a number of things to try and improve in that area. Play selection is a big part of it," he continued in his usual monotone, but rapid fire cadence.

    "Ultimately we decided that it was time to get some outside help and hired Sinestra, the Mistress Of The Void, to help us possess the ball more effectively."

    "Um . . . huh?" said Mayer.

    "Vic did some work with her back in San Fran while Alex Smith was the quarterback. Minimizing turnovers and possessing the ball was a big part of their organizational philosophy. We want to emulate that."

    "So, you hired a sorceress to have the football possessed by a . . . " Mayer trailed off.

    "We used one of those . . . " the coach repeatedly snapped his fingers while absent-mindedly chewing gum as he struggled for a moment to remember the term. "Ah. Evil spirits. Sinestra used a dark incantation to summon one from beyond the pale. We're not traditionally an organization that hires consultants mid-season, but as a general practice, summoning can help to effect change pretty quickly."

    Chew, chew, chew.

    "So we were able to get the demon-based game plan installed before Saturday's walk-through."

    More gum chewing.

    "Obviously, we're pretty happy with the way things worked out but we know there's always room for improvement."

    A true professional, Mayer powered forward.

    "I suppose a 34- to 26-minute edge in time of possession over the Lions wasn't quite as dominating as you'd hope, given that the game balls were home to a demon bending reality to the will of a witch from another dimension."

    "Like I said, our goal is to get better every week." Chew.

    "Thanks coach," said the reporter as Fox nodded quickly before jogged into the tunnel.

    "Sooooooooon, each of your sssssouls will be miiiiine," came an otherworldly rasp from an invisible source.

    What Worked

    • Jordan Howard: The kid looked good! The rookie running back was decisive and tough to bring down. In the post-game press conference, Fox favorably compared Howard to one of his former players, NFL great Stephen Davis.

      Well, "great" might be pushing it a bit. Mid-aughts standout Stephen Davis? He had like four total good years.

      The comparisons kept coming as former Bear Olin Kreutz likened Howard to his old teammate Anthony Thomas, "a real North/South runner" . . . who had like one good season as a rookie.

      Why not toss in a reference to Curtis Enis, while we're damning the guy with faint praise?

      Never thought I'd see the day when I craved some old-fashioned hyperbole.

      Overall, Howard passed the eye test. He picked up yards after initial contact, caught the ball better than expected and, despite his youth, has chest hair more impressive than Zangief.

      I'm not sure that last one has any truth to it, or technically counts as a compliment, but if nobody else is going to volunteer to fill the homer void, I nominate myself.

    • The Play-Calling (Mostly): Amazing how passable an offense can look when it commits to the run.

      Through three weeks of football, the Bears were such a full-on vanilla failure that even the most mundane of offensive successes felt like a major accomplishment.

      Bootlegs? Play action? Five-yard runs on first down?

      Wowie Zowie!

      As exotic as that approach felt, the offense stayed largely within itself and focused on moving the chains rather than attempting to dazzle the world with downfield heaves to Alshon Jeffery. (I'm sure Jeffery was thrilled.)

      The notable blemish on the play-calling was the fourth-and-one call to new running back Joique Bell, a man who in addition to having a first name inspired by the kinds of noises Shaggy makes when a Frankenstein-esque monster comes out of a rotating bookcase wearing a green blazer. Bell was out of football two weeks ago and and it showed, as he was unable to move just three feet closer to the goal line when asked to do so.

      Things seemed to have been going just fine with that Howard kid to that point.

    • Defense: This was a good game for The D. It was particularly refreshing to have players to focus on beyond Jerrell Freeman, who I suspect could amass five meaningful solo tackles even while sleepwalking.

      Jacoby Glenn and Deiondre' Hall both reaffirmed suspicions that the Bears may have more to be excited about in their secondary beyond safety Adrian Amos.

      Add them to your list of reasons to tune in when the Bears are 3-8, aside from the fact that it gets your attention off of your horrible, horrible home life.

    What Reminded Us That Even Though The Bears Were Winning All Game Long, They Still Almost Lost

    • Special Teams: I bet you felt pretty good about Eddie Royal's punt returns, but that was just the residual glow of one of last week's only positive. The fact of the matter is that he only had 15 total yards returning punts for the third phase, so take that off of your feel-good list and replace it with Viagra single-use packets!

      Sorry, I actually didn't mean to say that.

      Not that I'd send the Brinks truck full of boner-gotten dollar bills back to the local Pfizer Pharmaceuticals cash warehouse, but those guys aren't even a sponsor. It's just that their ad campaign has become so pervasive on NFL broadcasts and web pages that I kinda want to eat some Viagra, now in a refreshing Cool Mint!

      Arg! Damn you, Madison Avenue!

      Then again, after watching Connor Barth through three weeks I am having a difficult time getting stiff. Based on ad placement*, I think the NFL has received similar feedback from other fans.

      I think chanting "Robbie, Robbie, Robbie" when Barth takes the field might not be having the positive motivational effect fans were hoping for. (Unless we're trying to make our own kicker miss, in which case bravo!)

      My point is that Royal is very capable, but his real impact was as a receiver in this contest and Connor Barth is an affordable-option kicker, but not an acceptable one.

      And as for that punt coverage near the end of the game - you had one job guys.

      ONE JOB!

      And it wasn't to allow this to become a one-score game with two minutes left.

    • Throat Stepping: Given that the Bears were clearly the better team on Sunday, the game was surprisingly close.

      The positive aforementioned "staying within itself" spin on the offense was cut with the baby powder of unproductive drives.

      I know there isn't much of an expectation for this squad to have a fully developed killer instinct (what with the complete lack of late leads to this point), but Hoyer n' Friends clearly should have put more than 17 points on the board.

    • Kevin White's Leg: Yup. There's your problem right there. Busted pick, I mean fractured fibula.

    Eye On The Opposition - Colts 45
    I've got two questions regarding Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

    1. Does anybody else want to see Andrew Luck cast as Billy Dee Williams' sidekick in Colt 45 commercials?

    2. Is Andrew Luck the illegitimate son of John Lackey?

    Other than that, I have no thoughts on this week's opponent, the Indianapolis Colts.

    Kidding(-ish).

    Like the Bears, the Colts are 1-3, but unlike the Bears it's because they're bad on defense, rather than just fielding a defense that is tired because of a lousy offense.

    Indy is allowing about 380 yards and 32 points per game and appears to be wasting Luck's best years.

    Surrounding a QB with inconsistent skill players and an aging defense?

    Thanks to my memory of the 2013-2015 seasons, I have no sympathy.

    We could do a deep dive into the metrics - hell, maybe they are okay against the run - but who cares!

    I'm watching that Billy Dee Williams ad again!

    Kool-Aid (3 of 5 Bombers Of Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf)
    My favorite beer from the famed Indiana brewery, grab some at your local Binny's Beverage Depot on Saturday morning before they run out!

    Pairs especially well with Pfizer/Pepsi Cola's all-new extreme mash-up formula, Viagra: Tundra Plow.

    (Seriously, corporate overlords. You won't regret advertising with The Beachwood Reporter.)

    It's bad-on-bad crime happening at Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday, but I've got great news: The game starts at noon.

    So defense isn't Indy's thing, but there are some weapons on offense for Luck to work with.

    T.Y. (Totes Yoked**) Hilton has the big-play potential to smoke the Bears' secondary if pressure isn't being generated up front.

    With that in mind, one of the Colts many problems is their offensive line; there's a chance for our Bears to excel here.

    The Chicago offense needs to build on its recent mediocrity, er success, by drawing the Indianapolis defense in with the threat of Jordan Howard and burning the Colts' terrible secondary with play-action trickery.

    It's a winnable game and a group that has played better on the road for the last calendar year.

    While it's not a time to go totally bananas, enjoy these moments.

    With another beatable team coming up in Week 6 (Jacksonville), we're about to start riding the biggest wave this season will offer.

    Bears 27, Colts 17

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    About The Author
    The Author enjoyed the Bears-Lions game a great deal and he wasn't alone.

    Smile, fans! This is probably going to be as good as it gets.

    Screen Shot 2016-10-06 at 8.31.35 AM.png

    -

    * That pic is not Photoshopped and, by the way, how fucked up are the ingredients in your product when it comes with a disclaimer lengthy enough to necessitate a scroll bar within a banner ad?

    And speaking of not Photoshopping boner-related content into actual screen shots of official NFL pages, is anyone proofing the sponsored links section of the Bears website? The bottom line is, the NFL has become the third leading cause of priapism within the United States.

    ** Contrary to popular belief, "T.Y." does not stand for "Thank You" but rather, "Totally Yoked."

    -

    Carl Mohbacher is the mad genius behind the Kool-Aid Report. He welcomes your comments and snide remarks.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

    The [Thursday] Papers

    "On a recent Sunday morning, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson gathered press and top brass to announce that every patrol officer in the city would be equipped with a body camera by the end of 2018. The price tag, Johnson said, would be $8 million," Jonah Newman reports for the Chicago Reporter.

    "But police officials now acknowledge, after repeated inquiries from The Chicago Reporter, that $8 million doesn't even cover the first full year. The long-term cost will actually be much higher: By the time every officer on the force is outfitted, the Chicago Police Department will spend more than $6.5 million each year on the body camera program, according to a CPD analysis provided to the Reporter."

    So the CPD misled us on the cost of the program. It will still be worth every penny, won't it?

    "Those millions will be spent on a product for which there is still little research supporting its effectiveness in curbing police misconduct, despite increased interest in body camera programs across the country. A 2014 study funded by the Justice Department looked at the available research on body cameras and found that most of the claims made by supporters - that body cameras reduce use-of-force incidents, civilian complaints and civil lawsuits - are unsubstantiated."

    Oh.

    *

    "Within days after the release of the Laquan McDonald video last November - before he fired his police superintendent or established a task force on police accountability - Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an expansion of a body camera pilot program, which had started almost a year earlier with 30 officers in the Shakespeare District on the Northwest Side.

    "It was the first policy announcement by the Emanuel administration after the video of Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting 17-year-old McDonald sparked mass protests, calls for police reform and demands for the mayor's resignation.

    "Less than two months later, Emanuel signed a five-year contract worth up to $10 million with Taser International, the stun-gun giant that is now the nation's largest body camera manufacturer, to provide the cameras for more than 2,000 officers in seven police districts.

    "In government procurement, two months is lightning speed."

    So that's good, right? Cut through the red tape and bureaucracy.

    "To quickly make good on the mayor's promise, the Emanuel administration used an obscure procurement method called 'piggybacking,' which allowed it to skip the standard competitive bidding process and overlook two other companies, including Chicago-based Motorola Solutions. Piggybacking allows a jurisdiction to rely on another jurisdiction's contract for the same product or service. Taser International has been criticized by experts and competitors for encouraging no-bid contracts in police departments around the country.

    "The contract locks Chicago into using Taser International's cloud storage software, Evidence.com, for at least five years. By then, CPD could be storing hundreds of thousands of hours of video, making it difficult to switch if the company were to raise the price or the department were to find cost savings in storing the videos on local servers.

    "What this means is you will forever be required to pay them for their service, from now till the end of time," wrote Lee Richards, a sergeant with 10 years overseeing video evidence for the Kansas City, Missouri police department, in a June post on LinkedIn. The post didn't mention Taser International by name, but referred to the 'big mega-vendor.'

    "Under the contract, Chicago will pay Taser International $78 per officer per month for a body camera bundled with Taser's trademark stun-gun, plus unlimited storage on Evidence.com. At that price, not including the increase of 500 patrol officers that Emanuel has promised, the total cost over the first five years could exceed $30 million."

    Oh.

    *

    "A spokeswoman for the Department of Procurement Services, which oversees city contracts, said Chicago got a better price on the body cameras and storage than any other department that has signed with Taser International. (The Reporter couldn't confirm this claim.)"

    Of course, getting an alleged better deal than other Taser clients isn't the same as getting the best deal from among all possible vendors. That's like bragging about saving money by buying the least expensive coffee at Starbuck's when it's even cheaper (and better) across the street at Dunkin' Donuts.

    "She also said the DOJ, which gave CPD $1 million for the body cameras, approved the contract."

    And we all know what a stickler the federal government is when it comes to contracting.

    *

    There's lots more, go read the rest.

    -

    Dance Like Nobody's Watching, Chicago
    "If we keep up this torrid one-home-victory-per-calendar-year pace, the Cubs may lay claim to a World Series title before the Bears win another game at Soldier Field, so savor every victory as much as you can."

    In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report.

    -

    BeachBook

    Canadian Court Order Censoring Everyone's Google Search Results Must Be Overturned, EFF Tells Supreme Court of Canada .

    -

    TweetWood
    A sampling.

    What did the other guy in the photo do?

    *

    Such a weird, hometown way to look at it - is there a single team in the NFL that doesn't consider the Bears beatable?

    *

    *

    *

    The party of standards and accountability.

    -

    The Beachwood Tronc Line: Save the tronc line.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:47 AM | Permalink

    October 5, 2016

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    The Tribune adds some reporting to the Cubs' special playoff ticket package for the city's aldermen (and state legislators, the mayor and the governor) that I wrote about on Tuesday:

    Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, 11th, represents the Bridgeport neighborhood that's home to Sox Park, and he's a scion of the Daley clan, perhaps the city's most prominent bunch of White Sox backers. Yet Thompson said he bought tickets, adding that he would "probably not" attend a game himself.

    JFC, if you're not going to use the tickets yourself, don't take them.

    "I have some really strong Cub fan neighbors, there are some of them on the South Side," he said. "I'm a Chicago fan, I'm not a Cubs fan, but I have a lot of - I wish them well and I hope they win it and it would be great for the city."

    At least donate them to a sick kid or something - don't make being pals with an alderman even more rewarding than it already is.

    *

    "Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th, who represents the South Shore neighborhood, also bought seats. Hairston, too, said she would be passing the tickets along to 'a private citizen' in her ward who's a Cubs fan, declining to be more specific."

    Is it a campaign donor?

    *

    "Hairston dismissed the idea that the ticket offer represents a conflict of interest as aldermen continue considering plans by Cubs owners the Ricketts family to renovate the historic ballpark and undertake other massive construction projects in the congested Wrigleyville neighborhood around the stadium."

    That may be true, and this isn't the biggest deal in the world, but it's one of the many microaggressions that continually reinforce the notion that Chicago's well-compensated city council is filled with scoundrels and scaliwags who don't play by the same rules as the rest of us.

    *

    It's also not just about a conflict of interest on matters coming before the council, but the gift aldermen can dole out to lucky constituents in exchange for . . . their everlasting gratitude. Chicago is a transactional town, y'all.

    *

    The Cubs are also showing their . . . gratitude. They aren't making tickets available to public officials out of the goodness of their hearts and their profound respect for the civic-minded.

    *

    Any "dignitary" - is the root word "dignity?" - who wants to take up the Cubs on their offer should at least be required to name a plausible starting lineup to be eligible. And given Joe Maddon's lineup flexibility, that's not as hard a task as it might seem to the uninitiated.

    *

    I did a quick, incomplete search to see if other playoff teams were offering tickets to their local officials and came up empty. Assignment Desk, activate!

    -

    U.S.: States Failing Injured Workers
    Those hurt on the job are at "great risk of falling into poverty" because state workers' compensation systems are failing to provide them with adequate benefits.

    -

    BeachBook

    Supreme Court Declines To Consider NCAA Rules On Paying Athletes.

    *

    What To Expect In Wrigleyville This Postseason (No Champagne).

    -

    TweetWood
    A sampling.

    *

    Uber lost its chance when they included crime-surge pricing in their bid.

    *

    *

    *

    -

    The Beachwood Tronc Line: Troncasulo.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 PM | Permalink

    U.S. Labor Department: States Are Failing Injured Workers

    A U.S. Department of Labor report released today details the bleak fate facing the nation's injured workers, noting that those hurt on the job are at "great risk of falling into poverty" because state workers' compensation systems are failing to provide them with adequate benefits.

    The report lays the groundwork for renewed federal oversight of state workers' comp programs, providing a detailed history of the government's past efforts to step in when states fell short. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in a statement Tuesday night that he was drafting legislation "to address many of the troubling findings laid out in this report" and hoped to advance it in the next Congress.

    The 43-page report was prompted by a letter last fall from 10 prominent lawmakers, including Brown, urging more action to protect injured workers following a ProPublica and NPR series on workers' comp.

    The stories found that since 2003, more than 30 states had changed their laws, causing some workers to lose their homes, or be denied surgeries or prosthetic devices their doctors recommended.

    The Labor Department's conclusions echo ProPublica and NPR's findings that states have decreased benefits, created hurdles to medical care, raised the burden of proof to qualify for help and shifted costs to public programs, such as Social Security Disability Insurance.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the Labor Department, made similar findings last year. But Wednesday's report underscores the prominence of the issue, as departmental investigations are typically reserved for White House priorities, such as increasing the minimum wage and guaranteeing paid family leave.

    The report provides a roadmap of potential actions, but stops short of new policy recommendations in what appears to be a tacit nod to the fact that President Obama's term is waning and substantial changes must wait for another administration. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who was shortlisted as a potential vice presidential candidate, is expected to hold a top job if Hillary Clinton wins the election next month.

    "With this report, we're sounding an alarm bell," Perez said in an interview Tuesday. "A critical part of the safety net is being both attacked and eroded in no small measure because there are no federal minimum standards for workers' compensation. I hope that Congress will step up. We have to fix this system."

    Workers' comp dates back more than century, with each state having its own system of benefits, insurance rules and courts. Typically, when a worker is injured, employers pay their medical bills, a portion of their lost wages and compensation for any permanent disabilities. In exchange for prompt and certain benefits, workers are barred from suing their employers.

    But as ProPublica and NPR found, the benefits can vary drastically, with compensation for an amputated arm ranging from $45,000 to $740,000, even in neighboring states.

    The Labor Department report details how states have changed their laws largely in an effort to reduce business costs as they compete for new corporate headquarters, factories and warehouses - a trend the report calls a "race to the bottom."

    It calls for policymakers to explore how to prevent the costs of workplace injuries and illnesses from being transferred to public programs, how to increase the sharing of injury data between insurers and public health researchers, and how to develop programs that help disabled workers return to the job.

    Most significantly, it floats the idea of increasing federal oversight of state workers' comp programs, which could include the appointment of a national commission, federal tracking of state laws and the establishment of minimum standards and penalties if states fail to meet them.

    A presidential commission in 1972 came up with 19 guidelines for states to improve their workers' comp systems and recommended that Congress mandate them if states didn't act. Many states did, but as political winds shifted in the early 1980s, the threat of federal intervention passed.

    The suggestion of increased federal involvement has set off alarm bells in the insurance and employer communities.

    "Federal requirements imposed on a national basis would be inconsistent with the state workers' compensation system, which has been in place for more than 100 years without federal oversight," wrote Douglas Holmes in a recent blog post. Holmes is president of UWC, a business lobby group focused on unemployment and workers' comp.

    But in its report, the Labor Department notes that as far back as 1939, the agency considered setting guiding principles for workers' comp as part of its mission. President Harry Truman spoke of promoting standards for state programs while President Dwight D. Eisenhower's labor secretary sponsored the drafting of model workers' comp laws.

    Such involvement continued through the Ford and Carter administrations but was curtailed during the Reagan era. The Labor Department continued to track states' compliance with the 1972 commission guidelines until 2004, when budget cuts ended the program.

    Courts and lawmakers in several states have moved to restore workers' comp protections since the ProPublica and NPR series published in 2015. Top courts in Florida and Oklahoma have overturned a number of business-friendly reforms highlighted in the series, including a two-year cap on wage benefits and a provision that allowed Oklahoma businesses to opt out of workers' comp and write their own plans to care for injured employees.

    This summer, New Mexico's Supreme Court granted farmworkers the right to workers' comp for the first time in 100 years.

    In California, the governor last week signed a bill that will reduce the roadblocks for workers to get medical care. And the state's workers' comp bureau is in the final stages of writing a new regulation that would allow more severely injured workers to qualify for home health care.

    Last year, ProPublica profiled workers who had their home health aides taken away after a new law allowed insurance companies to reevaluate cases based on a more restrictive regulation.

    -

    ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

    -

    Previously:
    * How To Investigate Workers' Comp In Your State.

    * Injured Worker In ProPublica/NPR Story Testifies Before Illinois Legislature.

    * State Legislators To Investigate Workers' Comp Opt Out.

    * Tyson Foods' Secret Recipe For Carving Up Workers' Comp.

    * The Workers' Comp Industrial Complex Parties Hearty.

    * Corporate Campaign To Ditch Workers' Comp Stalls.

    -

    Comments welcome.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:58 AM | Permalink

    October 4, 2016

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    "For the second straight year, all 50 aldermen - and state lawmakers who represent Chicago districts - have been offered the right to purchase two terrace reserved or upper deck tickets for each home playoff game at Wrigley Field all the way through the World Series," the Sun-Times reports.

    "The lucrative perk comes three years after the City Council gave the Cubs the go-ahead to rebuild Wrigley and develop the land around it and less than four months after the Cubs won the limited right to sell beer and wine on an open-air plaza next to the stadium.

    "Despite the apparent conflict of interest, 'more than 70 percent' of City Council members have taken the Cubs up on their generous offer."

    So more than 35 of the council's 50 members? Just say it! Not the time to use percentages.

    *

    Spoiler: Of the 35-plus aldermen who took the tickets, we only learn the name of two in this article.

    *

    "They are paying for these tickets. They are not being given a discount or free tickets. In that case, it would be a direct conflict," Cubs spokesman Julian Green said.

    So this is just an indirect conflict, which is the savvy Chicago Way.

    *

    "Green called the offer a 'courtesy' similar to the one extended to Chicago politicians in 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2015."

    A) It's not a conflict, it's a "courtesy."

    B) It's not a conflict because it's been done before. It's a tradition.

    *

    "Only this time, it comes with a warning.

    "We are not providing tickets to elected officials to resell and turn a profit. This is only for their personal use to enjoy the excitement of the Cubs playoff baseball," Green said. "We plan to monitor the online secondary market for resales of tickets."

    In other words, these tickets are not to be handled like everything else that comes into an aldermen's office - an opportunity for mischief and money-making.

    *

    For everybody else, ChumpHub.

    *

    "Last year, Ald. Danny Solis (25th), chairman of the City Council's Zoning Committee, spurned the Cubs' playoff ticket offer citing the conflict posed by past contentious votes that benefited the Cubs. This year, Solis changed his mind and said yes."

    What changed?

    "I really don't like to cut off my nose to spite my face. My chief-of-staff is a really big Cubs fan. I'll give a ticket to him. My wife is a big Cubs fan. I'll have her go. I'll go with her," Solis said.

    "Last year, I said no. It was dumb. I have constituents, supporters and staff who would really enjoy the opportunity to see this championship season and I'm going to take advantage of it. If you share that opportunity with people who normally wouldn't be able to go, I don't think it's a conflict."

    Yeah, here's what Solis said last year, which I looked up and the Sun-Times didn't:

    "I get invited to a lot of things: Bulls, Bears. Sometimes, they're good seats. But, I don't take them even though I pay face value because it looks bad. It's an offer that's not available to the citizens of Chicago. You just highlight yourself as someone who's getting a special favor and that's not how I want to present myself."

    *

    "Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who has dueled with the team over that outdoor plaza and other neighborhood issues, said he, too, plans to take advantage of the Cubs' offer, even though he might not make it inside the stadium for every single inning.

    "I have to be around the ballpark to make sure everything is top-notch. But, I plan to get in there as much as I can," Tunney said Monday.

    You're gonna take the tickets and then not even watch the games?!

    This was a close one, but Tom Tunney, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

    *

    "Rookie Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) has no intention of taking the Cubs up on their ticket offer. He called it an obvious conflict of interest.

    "Someone who seeks to . . . get benefits from the city is offering a gift to aldermen and I have issues with that.

    Bless him. He's a rookie.

    -

    More from the world's most interesting website . . .

    Chicagoetry: My Emotional Shedd Aquarium
    Guitarfish Lucille as Shame.

    A Glimpse Of Moholy
    From Bauhaus to the Art Institute: Chicago modern design legend was ahead of his time.

    Upton Sinclair's Hell
    Mammon, Satan's business manager, sent his efficiency demons to Earth.

    Don't Let U.S. Prosecute Professor Over Book
    "This important work helps keep everyone safer by finding weaknesses in computer code running devices critical to our lives - electronic devices, cars, medical record systems, credit card processing, and ATM transactions. Green's aim is to publish research that can be used to build more secure software."

    "Wraparound" Services Are Not The Answer
    We're not going to "non-profit" our way out of poverty, housing affordability and economic injustice.

    In Wells Fargo Case, News Really Did Happen To An Editor
    "Reporters view editor-generated stories as the bane of their existence, and not without reason. Random events and pet peeves are not often a great starting point for serious stories."

    Apprentice Cast, Crew Say Trump Was Sexist
    "In his years as a reality TV boss on The Apprentice, Donald Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language, according to show insiders who said he rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he'd like to have sex with."

    Pie Commits A Hate Crime
    I want my racists out in the open. Quieting speech doesn't stop racism, it just hides it.

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock
    Featuring: Brutto, Tobacco, Whitey Morgan and the 78's, Carpenter Brut, Alex Barnett, Eden, The Sound of Urchin, Terranaut, Uhtcearu, Ziggy Marley, Airborne, Carla Morrison, Korbee, Nothing More, Crystal Castles, Guidance, Anders Osborne, Black Violin, TWRP, Ninja Sex Party, Switchfoot, John Hiatt, The Proclaimers, and The Illogical.

    -

    From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

    The Real Bears QB Controversy
    Neither Hoyer nor Cutler should be here.

    The White Sox Report
    The Season In Verse: Back Up The Hearse. It actually got worse.

    TrackNotes: 'Chrome Is King
    Just enjoy the races, folks. This is fun.

    Breakfast In America: Old Wives And Walking Sticks
    Our mission is to talk EPL football. Because we are American fans, we will accidentally ruin it.

    -

    Cubs playoff prep . . .

    The Cub Factor: Do It For Grandpa
    Who has the balls to ruin the David Ross farewell tour? Who has those balls?!?

    Worst Place To Be On Planet This Thursday Night Announced
    Official "Divisional" Playoff Pep Rally On Division Street Hosted By David Kaplan.

    Dear Cubs Fans: Hang In There
    A little history with your marching orders.

    -

    BeachBook

    America's Super Polluters: Most states have at least one; southern Indiana has four.

    *

    Maddon's Fingerprints All Over Suddenly Dominant Cubs.

    A primer for managers/primers.

    *

    Poor But Good Drivers Pay More for Coverage Than Rich Drivers With Recent DUIs Or Serious At-Fault Accidents On Their Records.

    *

    The Terrorist Inside My Husband's Brain.


    -

    TweetWood
    A sampling.

    *

    *

    Also, where was her editor - or did her editor make her do it? #Editors

    *

    What did they think their job was?

    *

    *

    -

    The Beachwood Tronc Line: Winners only.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    Dear Cubs Fans: Hang In There

    OK, Cubs fans, I'm setting up a nice low bar for you to clear in the early stages of the 2016 postseason: Do not abandon ship en masse, instantaneously.

    There will almost certainly come a time in the first two games at Wrigley on Friday and Saturday when the home team will face real adversity for the first time in months. The players will then either make plays or not, regardless of how many goofs stand and wave their arms to try to force fellow fans to make more noise. The arm-wavers won't matter.
    But a massive wave of pessimism might.

    In the 2008 Divisional Series pitting the Cubs against the Dodgers, Ryan Dempster started Game 1 on the mound. His team had entered the playoffs after cruising through the last month of the regular season on its way to a comfortable Central Division title and 97 victories. The title was their second in as many years, which meant they were in the postseason for the second straight year for the first time since 1908.

    Dempster's control was shaky but he worked into and then out of trouble a few times in the first four shutout innings. Meanwhile at the plate for the Cubs, Jim Edmonds reached and Mark DeRosa launched a two-run home run to give the home team the lead. The home fans were loving life.

    In the fifth it seemed like more of the same. Dempster walked the bases full but he had done that before and gotten out of it. All that was needed was a double-play ground ball. But that didn't happen this time.

    This time Dodgers slugger James Loney stepped up and launched a grand slam. It was the worst thing that had happened to the Cubs since . . .

    I was there for Game 7 of the NLCS against the Marlins in 2003. Game 6 was the Bartman game (it should be the Gonzales game for the easy double-play ground ball that went through shortstop Alex Gonzales' legs shortly after Steve Bartman's blunder but at some point you have to give in to history and history says it is the Bartman game). But Game 7 had its own telling sequence.

    Fans went into that game shell-shocked. What had been a 3-1 series lead had disappeared. But there was still hope - Kerry Wood was on the mound and the Cubs still needed just one win at home to go to their first World Series since 1945.

    The Marlins took an early 3-0 lead but then the Cubs rallied. When Wood stepped up and launched a home run as the team tied it up in the third inning the roar of the crowd was as loud as any I had ever heard anywhere. And then in the fourth, Moises Alou jacked one out to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead. Euphoria!

    But we know how it went from there. Wood couldn't hold the lead and the Cubs eventually lost the game 9-6 and the series 4-3.

    The Bartman game featured the worst incident of scapegoating Cubs fans have ever seen. When things go south, the human instinct is to zero in on a specific cause and Bartman was perfect. He was driven out of the ballpark by fans who in their dim-witted fury didn't even target the right guy (I think I mentioned him before, didn't I?).

    In 2008, Loney's home run (which I also witnessed, to my dismay) set off something similar. But in this instance the anger wasn't directed at anyone in particular (although it wasn't a pleasant walk back to the dugout for Dempster shortly thereafter). The anger, and more accurately the resignation, was diffuse. But it was powerful.

    Everyone in the park had been optimistic about the Cubs' chances until that moment. But when Loney's long fly disappeared over the wall, everyone's mood flipped exactly 180 degrees. Every fan there was immediately convinced the Cubs were going down again. And as the series played out, it sure felt like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Carlos Zambrano started the next game on the mound, the Dodgers won 10-3 and shortly thereafter completed the sweep. The Cubs haven't played a playoff game since.

    They will on Friday. Fans, you have your marching orders.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

    Upton Sinclair's Hell

    The Accidental Shakespeare Theatre Company presents Hell, a Verse Drama and PhotoPlay (1924), a fiery, humorous staged reading directed by Chris Aruffo. This rarely seen verse play by Upton Sinclair will be performed Saturday at 2 p.m. at the McKaw Theater, 1439 W. Jarvis Avenue.

    After exposing the evils of the meat-packing industry in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Jungle, Sinclair set his sights on militarism, jingoism, and capitalism itself.

    hell.jpg

    In Hell, mischievous devils and fanciful angels battle for the souls on Earth. Mammon, Satan's business manager, sends his efficiency demons, behaving as rich businessmen, leading statesmen, diplomats, and generals to perpetuate the evils of capitalism. While the forces of Hell are taking over the Earth, the angels, in the guise of pacifists, socialists and the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) resolve to take over Hell!

    Nine actors will play multiple roles in this surprisingly, whimsical performance, complete with video projection, sound and lighting design.

    Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at accidentalshakespeare.com or Hot Tix.

    *

    Chris Aruffo has performed in and directed more than 60 plays in the U.S., the UK and Canada. Currently based in Chicago, Chris has taught acting classes and workshops for more than 13 years, and is the author of A Rational Guide to Verse: Scansion Made Simple, a guide to Shakespearean language.

    He is a dialect coach and voiceover artist, and has recorded thirteen volumes of the Edgar Allan Poe Audiobook Collection.

    He earned his Master of Fine Arts in Acting Performance from the University of Florida and his Ph.D. from McMaster University.

    Chris's TED talk explains why people talk with an accent:

    *

    Cast members include Kaelea Rovinsky. Taylor Galloway, Tay Barton, Jake Degler, Christopher Sylvie, Heather Branham Green, Jared McDaris, Linsey Summers and Julia Kessler.

    *

    The creative team members are Benjamin Dionysus (lighting and projections), Sherry Legare (producer) and Angeli Primlani (artistic director).

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:24 AM | Permalink

    At The Art Institute | A Glimpse Of Moholy, The Most Versatile Artist Of The 20th Century

    The first retrospective of his work in the United States in nearly 50 years, Moholy-Nagy: Future Present traces the career of a multimedia artist who was always ahead of his time.


    -

    "László Moholy-Nagy (b. 1895, Borsód, Austria-Hungary; d. 1946, Chicago) believed in the potential of art as a vehicle for social transformation, working hand in hand with technology for the betterment of humanity," the Guggenheim says.

    "A restless innovator, Moholy-Nagy experimented with a wide variety of mediums, moving fluidly between the fine and applied arts in pursuit of his quest to illuminate the interrelatedness of life, art, and technology.

    "An artist, educator, and writer who defied categorization, he expressed his theories in numerous influential writings that continue to inspire artists and designers today.

    "Walter Gropius invited him to join the faculty at the Bauhaus school of art and design, where Moholy-Nagy taught in Weimar and Dessau in the 1920s.

    "In 1937, he was appointed to head the New Bauhaus in Chicago; he later opened his own School of Design there (subsequently renamed the Institute of Design), which today is part of the Illinois Institute of Technology."

    *

    "European modernism still has some great artists whose achievements are a bit fuzzy in the public mind, and one of them is Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. His name is barely known beyond the field of 20th-century art, where it is associated mostly with experimental photography and sometimes thought to be Russian," Roberta Smith writes for the New York Times.

    "Part of the fuzziness reflects the fact that this Hungarian visionary of multiple mediums - the first thoroughly interdisciplinary artist - was exceedingly prolific. Photographs of him show a man with wire-rim glasses and slicked-back hair whose face seems to jut into the future. His extraordinary foresight is confirmed by Moholy-Nagy: Future Present."

    *

    The Guggenheim's trailer:

    *

    "Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond, also know as CBB, derives its name from the New Bauhaus School of Design, located in Chicago, descendent of the influential German Bauhaus design school and precursor of the Illinois Institute of Technology's Institute of Design. The New Bauhaus, and later IIT, played crucial roles in developing and promoting modern design.

    "The New Bauhaus, founded in 1937 in Chicago, was the immediate successor to the German Bauhaus dissolved in 1933 under National Socialist pressure. Bauhaus ideology had a strong impact throughout America, but it was only at the New Bauhaus that the complete curriculum as developed under Walter Gropius in Weimar and Dessau was adopted and further developed.

    "The former Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy was founding director of the New Bauhaus. He then headed the consecutive School of Design from 1938 until his death in 1946 (entitled Institute of Design from 1944 onwards) aiming at liberating the creative potential of his students through disciplined experimentation with materials, techniques, and forms.

    "The focus on natural and human sciences was increased, and photography grew to play a more prominent role at the school in Chicago than it had done in Germany. Training in mechanical techniques was more sophisticated than it had been in Germany."

    *

    On Moholy-Nagy and the New Bauhaus in Chicago.

    -

    Chicago Tribune, August 1, 1943: Moholy-Nagy Brings Life Of Future Today: Designer's School Uses Odd Mediums.

    Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1946: L. Moholy-Nagy, Noted Modern Designer, Dies.

    Chicago Tribune, June 1, 1969: The Moholy-Nagy Show - A Bauhaus Alumnus Returns.

    Chicago Tribune, January, 18, 1991: Exploring The Many Worlds Of Moholy-Nagy's Chicago.

    Chicago Tribune, May 28, 1995: Moholy-Nagy In A New Light

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:41 AM | Permalink

    Apprentice Cast, Crew Say Trump Was Sexist

    In his years as a reality TV boss on The Apprentice, Donald Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language, according to show insiders.


    -

    "In his years as a reality TV boss on The Apprentice, Donald Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language, according to show insiders who said he rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he'd like to have sex with," AP reports.

    "The Associated Press interviewed more than 20 people - former crew members, editors and contestants - who described crass behavior by Trump behind the scenes of the long-running hit show, in which aspiring capitalists were given tasks to perform as they competed for jobs working for him."

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:28 AM | Permalink

    "Wraparound" Services Are Not The Answer

    We're not going to "non-profit" our way out of poverty, housing affordability and economic injustice.

    Historic discrimination and structural inequality have laid the groundwork for multiple life-sucking neighborhood factors