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February 26, 2020

Jersey Jack Pinball Relocating To Elk Grove Village

Jersey Jack Pinball, creator of premium pinball machines, will relocate its manufacturing operations from Lakewood, New Jersey to Elk Grove Village, Illinois, bringing fabrication into greater synergy with the design and engineering teams currently based in Bensenville, where JJP anticipates creating 50 or more new jobs.

"First and foremost, I would like to thank all the employees in Lakewood for their hard work and dedication to Jersey Jack Pinball and the wider pinball industry. Their contributions are greatly appreciated," said JJP founder and owner Jack Guarnieri. "This move will allow JJP to remain competitive and efficient in the market. We look forward to creating an exciting, collaborative workplace in Illinois, where we can continue to be pioneers of pinball design, building great games for many years to come."

Jersey Jack Pinball is the industry leader in quality and technical innovation, creating groundbreaking pinball machines for seasoned players, collectors, and newcomers to the game. Designed and manufactured in the United States, JJP's state-of-the-art games are conceived on a foundation of pinball's rich history and engineered with an unflinching eye toward its future.

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See also:

"Jersey Jack Pinball was founded in January 2011 by industry veteran Jack Guarnieri. Starting in 1975, he had serviced electromechanical pinball tables for a living, and he created the website PinballSales.com in 1999.

"The company's first table was The Wizard of Oz, released in 2013 and based on the 1939 film. This table boasted, among other things, a 26" LCD monitor in the backglass. Work then began on a table based on The Hobbit film series which was released in March 2016.

"The company's third pinball machine was Dialed In, an original theme game designed by Pat Lawlor, produced in 2017, and featuring a camera integrated into the game's backbox to facilitate selfie photography; he game also features bluetooth technology which enables linking to a cellphone in order to control the game's flippers remotely."

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Dialed In.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Preparing for The Move continues.

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If I've made enough progress by Friday morning - the move is Sunday - I'll be on Hitting Left (though truthfully, I hit from all over the place).

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ChicagoReddit

What's the little "quirk" of your neighborhood that you enjoy the most? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

😥

A post shared by Bric-a-Brac Records (@bricabracrecords) on

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ChicagoTube

Knuckle Puck at Beat Kitchen last Friday night.

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BeachBook

The Man Who Told The NBA No.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwod Tip Line: Brightly.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:07 PM | Permalink

February 25, 2020

The [Tuesday] Papers

Preparing for The Move continues.

Box-supplying heroes, in no particular order, include: Logan Bar, Revolution Brewery, Colectivo Cafe, Furious Spoon, Victory Grill and Vas Liquors.

And no, boxes were not supplied in exchange for being mentioned. I just thought I'd mention them to make the point that boxes are easily scavenged from participating local establishments (it helps if you frequent them).

More later.

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Good Job, Everybody

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New on the Beachwood . . .

The Cook County Soda Tax Worked
Just as it has in various other cities, states and countries.

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Girls Are Reaching New Heights In Basketball, But Huge Pay Gaps Await Them As Professionals
"Despite massive changes in attitudes toward women who excel at sports overall, with few exceptions we've observed that the disparity between what adolescent boys and girls can aspire to accomplish in professional basketball today remains enormous."

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ChicagoReddit

Early Voting and Registration is NOW OPEN at the NEW Loop Super Site at 191 N. Clark St (SE corner of Clark & Lake) from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Vader at Reggies last week.

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BeachBook

The Library Of Congress Acquires 100,000 Images By Harlem Photographer Shawn Walker.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Unfiltered.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 PM | Permalink

Girls Are Reaching New Heights In Basketball, But Huge Pay Gaps Await Them As Professionals

Women have made great strides in the world of sports over the past 50 years.

Especially in some individual sports, female champion athletes today earn far more money and command a much bigger audience than their predecessors - thanks to breakthroughs by tennis champions like Billie Jean King and Venus and Serena Williams and top golfers such as Kathy Whitworth, Nancy Lopez and Michele Wie.

We are fans of women's basketball and scholars who study the role that gender plays in sports and the changing status of female athletes. Despite massive changes in attitudes toward women who excel at sports overall, with few exceptions we've observed that the disparity between what adolescent boys and girls can aspire to accomplish in professional basketball today remains enormous.

This gap has become more visible due to the deaths of retired basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and two of the other girls on the basketball team he coached in January.

Known as "Gigi," the 13-year-old by all accounts inherited not only her former NBA player father's love of the game, but silky smooth moves as well. She aspired to attend the University of Connecticut, where she would play on its highly ranked women's basketball team. Mourners spoke reverently about Gigi's intentions to play professionally and carry on her father's legacy during a star-studded memorial service for both of them Monday.

Fears About Fertility

Women began playing basketball in 1892, one year after the sport's emergence.

Women's basketball started as a passing game with its own peculiar rules. The court was divided into three sections and each team fielded nine players, versus the five who play on the court today. Players could not move out of their assigned area, were restricted to three dribbles, and could only hold the ball for three seconds. Players were also generally advised against engaging in strenuous activity as the medical experts at the time were convinced that overexertion would damage women's fertility.

In 1896, teams from Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley competed in the first women's intercollegiate basketball game. Women kept playing basketball despite the perceived health risks.

One of the most famous women's amateur basketball teams of the 1930s was the Golden Cyclones of the Employers Casualty Company of Dallas, which was led by track and field Olympic gold medalist and champion golfer Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias.

babedidrickson.jpgAfter Babe Didrikson won three Olympic medals in 1932, she excelled at other sports, including basketball and golf/AP

The first professional women's basketball team was created in 1936. The All-American Red Heads barnstormed the country for more than 50 years.

Although the players were required to wear makeup and either dye their hair red or wear red wigs, the team played by men's basketball rules against men's teams. Despite the popularity of individual teams like the All-American Red Heads, women's professional basketball struggled to gain a firm footing for decades.

Likewise, basketball did not become an Olympic sport for women until the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympic Games, four decades after men's basketball made its debut at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games.

By that time, rules for women had become about the same as for men.

Title IX's Repercussions

The advent of a new federal civil rights policy enacted in 1972 changed the world of women's sports. What became known as Title IX was originally intended to provide equal opportunities and access for women in fields such as science, medicine and law.

In practice, Title IX forced high schools and colleges to open up more opportunities for female athletes and to spend more money and attention on girls' and women's sports teams.

But it would take more than 20 years for the emergence of a women's professional basketball league.

A Breakthrough In 1996

Sports fans dubbed the 1996 Summer Olympic Games the "Summer of the Women" because U.S. women's teams won gold medals in softball, soccer, basketball and gymnastics.

The women's Olympic basketball team's success, powered by star players Sheryl Swoopes, Rebecca Lobo and Lisa Leslie, led to the creation of two women's professional leagues.

womensbasketballoly.jpgThe victorious Olympic U.S. women's team in 1996, from left: Jennifer Azzi, Lisa Leslie, Carla McGhee, Katy Steding and Sheryl Swoopes/Susan Ragan, AP

The American Basketball League proved short-lived, ceasing operations in 1998 after only three years. The Women's National Basketball Association, known as the WNBA, is entering its 23rd season this summer.

The WNBA And Pay

Despite the WNBA's staying power, its players until now have only earned an average salary of $71,000, little more than 1% of the $6.4 million their typical male counterparts on NBA teams take home.

Average pay for WNBA players, however, will soon nearly double to about $130,000 a year, and some of the league's star players will be making $500,000, following a collective bargaining agreement. Players will now be eligible for maternity leave at their full salary, and can become unrestricted free agents after five full seasons.

Attendance at WNBA games now averages about 7,000 per game, compared to 18,000 at NBA games. The disparity in terms of the sports finances through TV deals and licensing agreements is much larger than that. The women's league generates about $60 million in revenue, just a tiny fraction of 1% of the NBA's $7.4 billion revenue.

What will it take to bridge the huge gender gap in professional basketball's popularity and pay?

We think that it could take a player like dunking sensation Stanford freshman Fran Belibi who has captured significant media attention. Sabrina Ionescu, senior point guard for the Oregon Ducks, is another potential game-changer.

Ionescu was named national player of the year in 2019 as a junior. She has broken the NCAA's triple-double record for college women and men. Ionescu had trained with her close friend and mentor, Kobe Bryant. And Golden State Warriors star player Steph Curry has brought his daughters along to watch her play.

Or maybe it will take parents like Kobe Bryant and Curry, born after Title IX changed so much about athletics, to instill in their daughters an understanding that a sports career is not only feasible for women, but within reach.

Corinne Daprano, is an associate professor of health and sport science at the University of Dayton. Leslie Picca, is a sociology professor at Dayton. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:02 AM | Permalink

February 24, 2020

Cook County's Soda Tax Worked

A study of beverage sales in Cook County shows that for four months in 2017 - when the county implemented a penny-per-ounce tax on both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks - purchases of the taxed beverages decreased by 21%, even after an adjustment for cross-border shopping.

The findings of the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, were published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"This study comprehensively assessed the impact, both intended and unintended, of Cook County's 2017 sweetened beverage tax, and it showed that the tax was an effective method for reducing consumption of many beverages known to contribute to chronic health conditions, like Type II diabetes and obesity," said UIC's Lisa Powell, lead author of the study. "It also showed that the potential impact of the county's tax on public health was dampened by cross-border shopping, an important potential unintended consequence of any local-level tax policy."

Sometimes referred to as a "soda tax," the tax was positioned by county officials as a policy instrument to both raise revenue for the county and improve population health by reducing sweetened beverage consumption.

To study beverage purchasing patterns, Powell and her colleagues tracked the quantity, by volume, of all beverages sold in and around Cook County using Universal Product Codes, or UPCs. The study included sales at supermarkets and grocery, convenience and other stores before and after the tax, which began on Aug. 2, 2017, and ended four months later on Nov. 30, when the tax was repealed. The post-tax data were compared with beverage purchases made during the same period in 2016. The researchers also compared the data with beverage purchases in Missouri's St. Louis County, which did not implement a similar tax.

In addition to a 21% net reduction in purchases of the taxed beverages - which was adjusted from 27% to account for the increase in cross-border shopping that was observed - the researchers found that, for untaxed beverages, there was no change in purchasing behavior in Cook County or in nearby communities.

"To see no change in purchases of untaxed beverages in the border area tells us that the observed increase in cross-border shopping was a tax avoidance strategy, not a shift that impacted general purchases," said Powell, UIC distinguished professor and director of health policy and administration.

"The data also showed that the tax was most effective when it came to larger-volume purchases, like cases or liters of soda, where the relative price increases faced by consumers were the greatest based on their low price per ounce," Powell said.

In the study, the researchers reference "price elasticity," which is an economics measurement of how responsive consumers are to changes in price alone.

The price elasticity of sweetened beverages in Cook County was -0.8, which Powell said is a bit lower than in other cities, like Seattle.

In another paper, which analyzed data from a sweetened beverage tax in Seattle - which notably only taxed sugar-sweetened beverages, not artificially sweetened beverages - Powell found that while sales of taxed beverages were reduced by a similar 22%, price elasticity was -1.1.

The data from Seattle, published last week in Economics & Human Biology, also diverged from the Cook County data in two areas: there was no notable cross-border shopping in Seattle, and there was an increase (4%) in the purchase of untaxed beverages.

"These differences in cross-border shopping patterns demonstrate that local geographic context and the proximity with which the population lives to the border communities are important considerations and must be accounted for when assessing the overall impact of a given tax," Powell said. "Both studies contribute to the growing evidence that a sweetened beverage tax can lead to lower sales of sweetened beverages and hence may be an effective policy tool for reducing the harms associated with consumption of sugary beverages."

Julien Leider, from UIC's Institute for Health Research and Policy, is a co-author of both papers. Pierre Thomas Leger, from the UIC School of Public Health, is a co-author of the paper published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

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See also:
* Radio NL: "Sugar Tax" Applauded By BC Health Advocate Groups.

* The First News: Sugar Tax To Finance National Health Fund Campaigns.

* The Star: Sugar Tax Successful In Lowering Soft Drink Sugar Content.

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Previously:
* Soda Tax Could Save Thousands Of Lives And $1 Billion In Mexico.

* Cook County Repeal Of Soda Tax Was A Mortal Mistake.

* The [Tuesday] Papers, February 20, 2018:

"The beverage industry created 'Citizens for a More Affordable Cook County' in August. One purpose of the PAC: It was an unsubtle political threat hanging over the commissioners who did not support the repeal.

"The grassroots-sounding name was designed to deliberately obfuscate the fact that the PAC, spawned with the help of the American Beverage Association, gets almost all of its funding from companies related to the beverage industry.

"The PAC treasurer is lawyer/lobbyist Michael Kasper, who also does work for Illinois House Speaker/Democratic Party of Illinois chair Michael Madigan."

* Where 'Yes! To Affordable Groceries' Really Means No to a Soda Tax.

* Soda Industry Steals Page From Tobacco To Combat Taxes On Sugary Drinks.

* Seattle Council Locks In Fund For Soda-Tax Revenue, Overriding Mayor Durkan's Veto.

* Soda Taxes Work.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:09 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Vacate This Lineup

From early February into the middle of the month, my thinking changed regarding whether the Houston Asterisks' 2017 World Series championship should be vacated.

I initially felt that it would be a mostly empty gesture, but as time passed it seemed to occur to everyone including me that the owner and the Houston players going essentially unpunished was untenable. I understand that commissioner Rob Manfred would like to wait for the end of the investigation into whether the Red Sox used technology to cheat in 2018 (to potentially say, "You see, several teams were doing it") but considering the inability of MLB to conduct brisk investigations, that might not happen for months. And even if it doesn't, who cares?

It is time to vacate the title. And if the Red Sox cheated in 2018, vacate that one too.

Speaking of changing my mind, the more I think about Kris Bryant leading off and Anthony Rizzo batting second, the more I have my doubts (despite initially welcoming the move). The big problem, of course, is that if the Cubs do that, who will bat third and fourth?

Javy and Willson and/or Schwarbs? Yikes.

First, Baez and Contreras have to rank among the streakiest hitters in the National League the last few years. And second Kyle Schwarber, despite hitting 37 home runs last year, still hasn't established himself as an everyday player.

Having the pitcher bat eighth will ameliorate this problem somewhat. For one thing, having a 26th player on the roster (a rules change this year) can mean the Cubs have that much more flexibility with late-inning substitutions. Or it can mean another arm in the 'pen, we'll see.

Unfortunately the biggest problem, three years after the Cubs let former leadoff hitter extraordinaire Dexter Fowler go to St. Louis in free agency, is that this team can't seem to draft and develop even one decent on-base guy to insert into the top of the lineup.

And that sort of stagnation, compounded by Theo and his minions' complete failure to make any sort of substantive change to the roster after loudly proclaiming their plans to do so at the end of the last campaign, is more than a little frustrating.

I will be watching one change the Cubs did make very carefully. The hiring of Justin Stone as the organization's director of hitting is a remarkable chapter in a great local success story. Stone had settled into Chicago after receiving his masters in kinesiology from Indiana State more than a decade ago.

Stone, who was an all-conference second baseman for Eastern Illinois in the '90s, has long been known around Chicago youth baseball circles as the best hitting instructor you could hope to find in this cold weather market.

Stone put his career on fast forward in 2018, when he first signed on to work with Cubs prospects. Ian Happ was one of the Cubs hitters to work with him in the offseason before the 2019 campaign and Happ's improvement last year was a major feather in his cap.

Now he has been hired to coordinate hitting assistance for all of the organization's prospects. I say hitting assistance because Stone is setting the system up to help minor league hitting coaches rather than to try to replace them.

The Cubs could use the help. Stay tuned.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:15 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

As I mentioned last week, things will be touch-and-go this week because I'm moving next weekend.

Hey, I just got "last week," "this week" and "next week(end)" into the same sentence!

I still have a lot to do to prepare for the move - mainly in terms of packing shit up - so the column may lag a bit. I have tons of crap to go through in an effort to pare down before the move as well; the new place is pretty well furnished without a whole lot of room for my stacks of papers and decades of reporting notebooks and general newsroom vibe, so there's still a lot of work ahead of me.

I'll still be in Logan Square, about six or eight blocks north. More on that later.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

MSNBC In Full-Blown Freakout
"Nazi comparisons, commentators near tears, and even a stunning admission that maybe they don't understand the country anymore."

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The Mind Is The Body
Yet more evidence arrives that mental illness is actually every bit as biological as, say, cancer or a diabetes.

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Out Of Broadview: A Breath Sanitizer For Blowing Out Birthday Candles
Protect that cake against spittle!

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SportsMonday: Vacate This Lineup
Yikes.

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And if you missed it Friday afternoon . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #292: Alert Cooperstown, We Have An Idea
Cleaning up Manfred's mess. Plus: The Unprecedented Nature Of Kris Bryant; Baseball's New Freaky Rules; Marquee Media Moves; End Of The World According To GarPax?; Bulloney; Ben & Eddy; We're Confused Too, Breadman; Derek Carr's Eyelashes vs. Casey Urlacher's (Alleged) Offshore Gambling Ring; Illinois Hoops Nation Update, and more!

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ChicagoReddit

I'm tired of people blowing stop signs. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

1951

A post shared by Pilsen Community Books (@pilsencommunitybooks) on

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ChicagoTube

Beach Bunny at the Metro on Saturday night.

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BeachBook

Remembering Pop Smoke, A Rapper Who Brought Brooklyn To The World.

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A Supreme Court For The Rich.

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Unlock Congress.

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The Price Of Wells Fargo's Fake Account Scandal Grows By $3 Billion.

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The Skeptics Movement Can't Afford To Ignore Racial Inequality.

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U.S. Women's Soccer Team Sets Price For Ending Lawsuit: $67 Million.

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This Remarkably Ordinary Woman Took Photos With Hundreds of Celebrities - And Her Scrapbook Is An Accidental Work Of Art.

Well, she wasn't "remarkably ordinary" - she was a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. And her scrapbook isn't really art, but it is fun to look at.

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Mourning The Missing Memories.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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Bernie Sanders even won the moderate/conservative vote.

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The Beachwood Tip of the Spear Line: All dimensions.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

February 23, 2020

Out Of Broadview: A Breath Sanitizer For Blowing Out Birthday Candles

While birthdays are generally festive occasions with the tradition of the honoree blowing out candles on a cake, there is always the risk that this process exposes the cake to germs. Fortunately, two inventors from Broadview have designed something than can help with that problem.

They developed GERMAWAY, patent pending, to protect the cake against spittle from blowing out candles. As such, it cleanses the air dispersed from the user's mouth, facilitating more sanitary conditions. In other words, this lightweight, compact and easy to use novelty prevents the spread of germs and bacteria. It is also convenient, effective and affordably priced. In addition, its simple design minimizes production costs.

The inventors' personal concerns inspired the idea. "We were always uncomfortable about eating birthday cake that was potentially exposed to germs dispersed by someone blowing directly on the cake to extinguish the candles," one of them said.

The original design was submitted to the Chicago sales office of InventHelp. It is currently available for licensing or sale to manufacturers or marketers. For more information, write Dept. 18-CKL-1243, InventHelp, 217 Ninth Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or call (412) 288-1300 ext. 1368.

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Previously:
* Inventor Invents Enhanced Doorknob.

* Stinky Seaweed Spurs Invention.

* Tailgate Kitchen.

* The Chicago Man Who Invented The Remote Control Has Died.

* Pitch-O-Matic: Get Your Invention Seen On TV.

* Inventors Of Sports Bra, Hard Hat & Ibuprofen Among Hall Of Fame Inductees.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:17 PM | Permalink

The Mind Is The Body

Nearly two decades ago, Donna Jackson Nakazawa's immune system launched a misguided attack on her own body. Her white blood cells - which typically fight off invading pathogens - went to war against her nerves, destroying the layer of fatty insulation that helps nerve cells transmit their signals. Nakazawa, a journalist and author, had Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune condition that caused muscle spasms and left her temporarily unable to walk.

But alongside these physical symptoms, she also began to feel as though something had gone amiss in her mind. She developed severe anxiety and began experiencing troubling memory lapses, even forgetting how to tie her daughter's shoes.

"I could not shake the feeling that just as my body had been altered, something physical had also shifted in my brain," Nakazawa writes in her new book, The Angel and the Assassin: The Tiny Brain Cell That Changed The Course of Medicine.

angelassassin.jpg

At the time, doctors couldn't really explain what was happening to her. Scientists had long believed that the brain was "immune privileged," walled off from the peripheral immune system. There wasn't an obvious way for her overactive white blood cells to be causing her cognitive symptoms.

But over the last decade researchers have made a series of stunning discoveries that overturned this long-accepted dogma. The findings revolve around tiny, long-overlooked brain cells known as microglia, which serve as the brain's own immune system and turn out to play a critical role in shaping neural circuits. The Angel and the Assassin is an illuminating look at these underestimated cells and how they might remake medicine.

Nakazawa writes with refreshing clarity about two extremely complex fields - immunology and neuroscience - and vividly explains what's at stake, interweaving the stories of the scientists who are shedding light on microglia and the patients whose lives could be changed by their work. As Nakazawa explains, "We stand at the cusp of a sea change in psychiatry: an enormous paradigm shift that cuts across all areas of medicine, and promises to rewrite psychiatry as we know it - based on the novel understanding that microglial cells sculpt our brain in ways that have profound lifelong effects on our mental health and well-being."

In the brain's cellular chorus, neurons, which send and receive electrochemical signals, have long been considered the stars. The other cells in the brain, collectively known as glial cells, were relegated to the supporting cast. "Glial cells made up the B-team; they catered to the needs of neurons the way an entourage caters to the whims of a movie star," Nakazawa writes.

And of the several types of glial cells in the brain, perhaps none seemed less inherently interesting than microglia. Microglia were the brain's clean-up crew. They kept an eye out for injury and infection, clearing away pathogens, malformed proteins, and dead cells. "They were the brain's humble trash men," Nakazawa writes. "Robot-like housekeepers. End of story."

But as imaging technology improved in the early 21st century, scientists began to take a closer look at precisely what microglia were doing. They noticed that microglia were not just sitting by idly, waiting to be called into action - instead, they were highly pro-active.

"Beneath the high-resolution microscope, individual microglia resembled elegant tree branches with many slender limbs," Nakazawa writes. "Their branches swirled around and around through the brain, exploring and searching for the slightest sign of distress."

Researchers would soon make an even more surprising discovery. Neuroscientists knew that the developing brain made far more synapses, or connections between neurons, than it needed; as the brain matures, it eliminates the extraneous connections. But it wasn't clear precisely how this synaptic pruning happened until 2012, when neurologist Beth Stevens and her colleagues reported something astonishing: Microglia were engulfing the excess synapses, especially the underused ones.

It's a crucial task. By eliminating weak and idle synapses, microglia facilitate healthy brain development. But Stevens and other scientists also began to consider what might happen if this process went awry, the same way that white blood cells sometimes erroneously assail healthy tissues. Perhaps, Nakazawa writes, "like white blood cells, microglia didn't always get it right. What if, instead of just pruning away damaged or old neurons, microglia were sometimes mistakenly engulfing and destroying healthy brain synapses too?"

Many mental illnesses and neurological conditions, from Alzheimer's to depression, are accompanied by synapse loss or dysfunction. Could overactive microglia be responsible?

A rapidly expanding body of research suggests that the answer is yes. Researchers have found, for instance, that people suffering from depression have elevated levels of activated microglia and that, as Nakazawa puts it, "the longer that depression went untreated, the more havoc microglia wreaked in the brain."

Microglia have now also been implicated in Alzheimer's disease, autism, Huntington's disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, and other conditions.

Microglia could also explain why some people with auto-immune diseases, like the Guillain-Barré that struck Nakazawa, sometimes report curious cognitive symptoms. Several years ago, scientists discovered lymphatic vessels, which ferry white blood cells around the body, in the protective membranes that encase the brain. These vessels could serve as a direct link between the peripheral immune system and the brain - a link that experts long insisted did not exist.

That means that when the body's immune response ramps up, it could conceivably send signals through these lymphatic vessels, triggering microglia to go on the attack.(In addition to engulfing synapses, activated microglia can also churn out compounds that cause neuroinflammation, damaging healthy neurons and brain tissue.) Scientists have found that all sorts of things, from infections to chronic stress, can trigger microglia to go rogue, and they've documented microglial abnormalities in people with a number of immune-related disorders, including lupus, multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease."This means that the long-held line in the sand between mental and physical health simply does not exist," Nakazawa writes.

These discoveries open up new treatment opportunities, and Nakazawa writes that scientists are now investigating an array of strategies, some more unconventional than others, "to help calm overreactive microglia so that they behave as nature intended: as the angels of the brain, rather than as blind assassins."

She follows several patients as they pursue some of these experimental treatments, including Katie, who hopes that transcranial magnetic stimulation will alleviate her depression and panic disorder, and Lila, who has Crohn's disease and obsessive-compulsive disorder and is trying a "fasting-mimicking diet" designed to dial down immune activity. Other researchers are exploring immunotherapy, neurofeedback, vagal nerve stimulation, and even hallucinogens.

The possibilities are genuinely exciting, and it's tempting to believe that scientists have finally cracked the code for a vast array of enigmatic and intractable conditions. But there's still a lot we don't know about microglia, and we should be careful about getting ahead of ourselves - or imbuing a single cell with too much explanatory power.

"If we overemphasize the workings of microglia, and the biological mechanisms by which illnesses of the brain emerge," Nakazawa writes, "we invite the kind of biological reductionism that overmedicalizes and belittles the intimate connection between the mind and the way it gives birth to our human consciousness."

Beyond that, our bodies and brains are immensely complex, and microglia are just one piece of an intricate physiological system. (Despite her own words of caution, however, Nakazawa can sometimes be too hyperbolic, as when she asserts, "This tiny cell, the power of which science overlooked for so long, plays some role in every story of human suffering.")

But she also makes a compelling case that our new understanding of microglia has already been transformational. "Newly categorizing psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders as also being disorders of microgliopathy and the immune system is useful for furthering research and understanding," she writes.

For too long, she argues, we have viewed mental illnesses and neurological disorders as entirely separate from - and, in some ways, less "legitimate" than - diseases of the rest of the body. If the new research on microglia helps upend that assumption, that, in and of itself, would be worth celebrating.

This post was originally published on Undark.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:46 PM | Permalink

MSNBC In 'Full-Blown Freakout' Over Bernie Sanders

As it became clear Saturday evening that Sen. Bernie Sanders would run away with the Nevada caucus and secure his position as the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary, MSNBC anchors and contributors lashed out at the senator and his supporters in bizarre and sometimes hysterical fashion, descending into what one observer could only describe as a "full-blown freakout."

Earlier in the Democratic primary process, the Comcast-owned network was notorious for ignoring the senator from Vermont, and covering him negatively when it covered him at all.

But Saturday marked a clear escalation in hostility from MSNBC's on-air personalities as Sanders' diverse coalition of supporters propelled him to a landslide victory in Nevada, the third consecutive state in which the senator has won the popular vote.

Nicole Wallace, former communications director for the George W. Bush White House, described Sanders' multi-racial, multi-generational coalition as a "squeaky, angry minority" and accused the senator of deploying "dark arts" as she introduced Democratic political consultant James Carville, who proceeded to declare Sanders' win in Nevada a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At one point in his appearance, Carville waved at the camera and said, "Hi, Vlad," suggesting Putin was likely watching MSNBC's coverage of the caucus results.

Wallace later lamented that she has "no idea what voters think about anything anymore" after her colleague, Steve Kornacki, explained that Sanders performed well in precincts with a large number of Culinary Union workers, despite the union leadership's antagonism toward the senator.

NPR's Maria Hinojosa, a frequent MSNBC contributor, demanded to know what Sanders has done to "actually deliver for Latino and Latina voters" after the senator dominated the Democratic field among those voters in Nevada.

The most unhinged lines of Saturday night came from Hardball host Chris Matthews, who compared Sanders' Nevada win to the Nazi invasion of France.

"I was reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940," said Matthews. "And the general, Reynaud, calls up Churchill and says, 'It's over.' And Churchill says, 'How can that be? You've got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?' He said, 'It's over.'

"So I had that suppressed feeling," Matthews continued. "I can't be as wild as Carville but he is damn smart, and I think he's damn right on this one."

Matthews' remarks comparing the Sanders campaign to Nazis - not the first time an MSNBC host has made such a comparison - sparked immediate backlash and demands for his resignation.

As Mike Casca, communications director for the Sanders campaign, put it:

Earlier Saturday, as Common Dreams reported, Matthews suggested that four more years of Donald Trump might be better for the Democratic Party than a Sanders presidency.

MSNBC's network-wide meltdown was so apparent that commentators on rival networks took notice - and talked about it on live television.

Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, attempted to explain the corporate media's open hostility toward Sanders and his supporters in an appearance on CNN Saturday evening.

"I'm a relatively new person here at CNN," said Rojas, who contributes to the network as a political commentator. "There are not a ton of people that are my age, or that look like me. Most of the people that sit in a lot of the most powerful rooms in the country pushing forward our news are . . . not the same level of class."

"Even though it might not be, you know, literally some person pulling the strings," Rojas said, "there is a worldview that is vastly different from the everyday voter."

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:25 PM | Permalink

February 21, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #292: Alert Cooperstown, We Have An Idea

Cleaning up Manfred's mess. Plus: The Unprecedented Nature Of Kris Bryant; Baseball's New Freaky Rules; Marquee Media Moves; End Of The World According To GarPax?; Bulloney; Ben & Eddy; We're Confused Too, Breadman; Derek Carr's Eyelashes vs. Casey Urlacher's (Alleged) Offshore Gambling Ring; Illinois Hoops Nation Update, and more!


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SHOW NOTES

* 292.

2:15: Astros Anger Not Abating.

* When Mike Trout and Kris Bryant are pissed, you've really gone and done it

8:17 Alert Cooperstown, We Have An Idea.

* Ommegang: Where Heaven Met Earth . . . And Stayed Awhile.

9:20: Manfred's Mess.

* We have another idea.

11:23: The Unprecedented Nature Of Kris Bryant.

* Has any MVP-level superstar (who was screwed out of service time and dangled in trade talks) ever been asked to do as much as he has been asked to do - and done it so good-naturedly?

* A necessity of front office failure.

27:04: Baseball's New Freaky Rules.

* ESPN: What You Need To Know.

33:21: I Don't Have Any White Sox News, Do You?

* Not really, but let's mourn the end of free baseball on TV.

35:25: Marquee Media Moves.

* New Cubs venture snags Bruce Levine and Gordon Wittenmyer.

* Plus: In The Wake of Paul Sullivan.

37:23: End Of The World According To GarPax?

* Michael Reinsdorf reportedly asserting himself.

40:26: Bulloney.

* Coach rolling his eyes at Lauri Markkanen's latest.

* Kris Dunn done but not done?

44:18: Ben & Eddy.

* Eddy Curry: The Truth Was Way Worse.

* Ben Gordon: Where Is My Mind?

58:50: We're Confused Too, Breadman.

* What was Stan Bowman thinking?

1:00:13: Derek Carr's Eyelashes vs. Casey Urlacher's (Alleged) Offshore Gambling Ring.

* Relevant Post-Pod Breaking News: Bears Cut Prince Amukamara, Taylor Gabriel.

* Mettawa: It's like Bannockburn.

1:04:09: Welcome To Chicago, Luka, We Guess.

* Coach: "They haven't acquired anybody that I'm excited about."

1:04:22: Welcome Back, Stefanie Dolson!

1:04:38: Illinois Hoops Nation.

* Illini Men Outlast No. 9 Penn State.

* DePaul men just lost ninth straight.

* Loyola men beat Illinois State, improve to 11-4 in conference play.

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STOPPAGE: 7:15

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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 1:23 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

So, per Thursday's column, here's a little more about Laura Ellman, who sounds like a state legislator you may want to party with:

"Laura Ellman is a Democratic member of the Illinois Senate for the 21st district," Wikipedia says. "The district, located in the Chicago metropolitan area, includes all or parts of Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Lisle, Naperville, Warrenville, West Chicago, Winfield and Wheaton."

Just to be clear, her district may be located in the "metropolitan" area, but it's all suburban.

Ellman herself lives in Naperville.

To us, Naperville might as well be Nebraska. (Which is unicameral, by the way.)

Then again, if she lived in the city, she wouldn't be concerned with drinking on the train.

Anyway . . .

"Ellman defeated incumbent Republican Senator Michael Connelly in the 2018 Illinois general election by 1,179 votes. Ellman, a senior independent assessor at Argonne National Laboratory, has a degree in mathematics from Grinnell College and a masters in applied statistics from the University of Iowa."

So she's a smarty-pants. Good.

"This is a district filled with heavy commuters, and we need to improve our roads and our commuter rail," she told the Sun-Times in its 2018 candidate questionnaire. "People need to be able to drink without fear of penalty."

I might've added that last sentence, but surely she was thinking it.

*

Also:

What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?

The most important differences between me and my opponent is that he is stoops down to the level of partisan games and appeasing corporate and special interests rather than solving problems and standing up for working and middle class Illinoisans.

I want to work for evidence-based solutions and create opportunity for all. Senator Connelly has voted against school funding, women's rights, workers rights, and LGBTQ rights, and he has voted to continue the irresponsible budget impasse to stand with Governor Rauner.

I will be an independent voice who is accountable to everyday Illinoisans and my constituents, not lobbyists and corporate interests. Unlike Senator Connelly, I will fight for our students, for women's rights and LGBTQ rights, and for working and middle class Illinoisans.

Good answer. We like the way you think. We're gonna be watching you.

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Belvidere Brutality
"Over the course of seven months, 13 Investigates has poured over thousands pages of documents, interviewed dozens of people, and investigated their claims of excessive force by the Belvidere Police Department," WREX-TV reports.

"What we found in our search through public records and interviews is the police department has been named in at least 12 lawsuits for police misconduct, it has paid tens of thousands of dollars to settle many of those claims, and two officers, who combined were named in half of those lawsuits, are still on the force today."

Those two officers?

"Out of 30 patrol officers on the force, [Ryan] Davenport and [Brandon] Parker made fewer arrests than half of them, but they still lead their department with resisting arrest charges. Combined, the two officers make up more than 23 percent of all resisting charges for the entire department.

"We reached out to Parker and Davenport for comment as well as Chief of Police Shane Woody and Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain. The city attorney denied our request."

No wonder:

"Since becoming chief in 2018, Woody has cleared every officer of wrongdoing in complaints filed against them. In fact, there is no record of any officer being punished following any of these formal complaints except for one."

There's lots more, give it a read.

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Revolving Randy
"Former U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren has been selected to succeed Linda Koch as president and CEO of the Illinois Bankers Association," the IBA says.

That sounds about right.

"

"Hultgren, an Illinois native, has served in a number of elected offices for over 24 years. Most recently, he served in the United States House of Representatives from 2011-2019, representing the 14th Congressional District of Illinois. In Congress, he served on both the House Financial Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. Prior to his time in Congress, he served as a member of the Illinois Senate from 2007-2011, and as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives from 1999-2007, while also serving on the financial institutions committees in both chambers.

"In addition to his public service, Hultgren has worked in finance, banking and law. He currently is a senior vice president of commercial lending with Wintrust Financial, and, before being elected to Congress, he was a vice president of Performance Trust Investment Advisors."

Emphasis mine.

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Look, Hultgren has every right to be super into banking. But if it was ever a question, now we know for sure whose interests he was looking after while in public office, because if he was looking out for consumer-citizens, the banking industry would no longer be so friendly to him. And he might not have been so friendly back if he wasn't thinking about his post-political career. (Or maybe he's a true believer. But the revolving door only feeds our well-earned cynicism, and folks like him have lost the benefit of the doubt.)

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Top industry contributing to Hultgren's campaigns: Securities & Investment.

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Madigan's Mouth
"E-mails obtained by WBEZ show Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's longtime top aide discussed placing political loyalists at Commonwealth Edison, the state-regulated electric company whose hiring and lobbying activities are under federal investigation," the station reports.

"Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown . . . did not reply to WBEZ's multiple phone and e-mail messages seeking comment Thursday."

I've been saying for years that the only legitimate reason to contact Brown is if it's the only way you can reach out to Madigan, because Brown's word isn't any good and, as illustrated here, he shouldn't be allowed to pick and choose when he wants to comment. Besides that, who cares if a spokesperson refuses to comment? The point is Madigan refusing to comment, and that's the way it should go down each and every time. Madigan is the one to question; otherwise you're just asking his spokesperson to lie to you to check a box in your old-fashioned story structure.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Socialist Roots Of The Bagel
Bernie likes his with lox.

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Confessions Of A Chicago Tour Guide Part 2: Myths Of The Mob
Scorcese, Goudie, Hotel Geraldo, JFK and the Outfit's homes in River Forest.

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24 Hours With Bloomberg TV
Lotta shows with his name on 'em.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #292
Is in production as you read this!

Cleaning up Manfred's mess. Plus: The Unprecedented Nature Of Kris Bryant; Baseball's New Freaky Rules; Marquee Media Moves; End Of The World According To GarPax?; Bulloney; Ben & Eddy; We're Confused Too, Breadman; Derek Carr's Eyelashes vs. Casey Urlacher's (Alleged) Offshore Gambling Ring; Illinois Hoops Nation Update, and more!

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ChicagoReddit

The term "I have an immediate follower" is the reason I have trust issues from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Church of Misery at Reggies on Wednesday night.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Lime-free.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:42 AM | Permalink

24 Hours With Bloomberg TV

Midnight: Bloomberg Daybreak: Europe

1 a.m.: Bloomberg Markets: European Open

3 a.m.: Bloomberg Surveillance

3:30 a.m.: Bloomberg ETF IQ Europe

4 a.m.: Bloomberg Surveillance

6 a.m.: Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas

8 a.m.: Bloomberg Markets: The Open

9 a.m.: Bloomberg Markets: Americas

10 a.m.: Bloomberg Markets: European Close

11 a.m.: Bloomberg Markets: Balance of Power

Noon: Bloomberg Real Yield

12:30 p.m.: Bloomberg Markets: Americas

1 p.m.: Bloomberg Markets: The Close

3 p.m.: What'd You Miss?

4 p.m.: Bloomberg Technology

5 p.m.: Bloomberg Wall Street Week

6 p.m.: Bloomberg Commodities Edge

6:30 p.m.: Bloomberg Real Yield

7 p.m.: Best of Bloomberg Daybreak Middle East

8 p.m.: Bloomberg Money Undercover

8:30 p.m.: Leaders With Lacqua

9 p.m.: Bloomberg Best

10 p.m.: Bloomberg Big Decisions

10:30 p.m.: Leaders With Lacqua

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Previously:
* 24 Hours With QVC
* 24 Hours With Tru TV
* 24 Hours With Current TV
* 24 Hours With The Military Channel
* 24 Hours With The Hallmark Channel
* 24 Hours With TVGN
* 24 Hours With Retroplex
* 24 Hours With Penthouse TV
* 24 Hours With The DIY Network
* 24 Hours With BET
* 24 Hours With CNBC
* 24 Hours With WWMEB
* 24 Hours With PRISM TV
* 24 Hours With Al Jazeera America.
* 24 Hours With Fuse.
* 24 Hours With Pop TV.
* 24 Hours With BET Soul.
* 24 Hours With BabyTV.
* 24 Hours With Jewelry Television.
* 24 Hours With XFHS.
* 24 Hours With Freeform.
* 24 Hours With Baby1.
* 24 Hours With RUS-TV.
* 24 Hours With The Esquire Network.
* 24 Hours With Velocity.
* 24 Hours With WYCC.
* 24 Hours With FM.
* 24 Hours With The Great American Country Channel.
* 24 Hours With Lakeshore TV.
* 24 Hours With CAN TV19.
* 24 Hours With The Game Show Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:00 AM | Permalink

The Socialist Roots Of The Bagel

At a recent CNN town hall, Bernie Sanders was asked how his Jewish identity has affected his outlook and upbringing. Sanders, who is normally restrained when it comes to his heritage, recalled the enormous impact of the Holocaust on his childhood.

"I think at a very early age, before my political thoughts were developed, I was aware of the horrible things that human beings can do to other people in the name of racism or white nationalism, or in this case, Nazism," he said.

Various journalists have written about the possible links between Sanders' Jewishness and his politics - from questioning the exact nature of his religious beliefs to investigating whether his time on a kibbutz may have informed his commitment to socialism. But for all the speculation over his heritage, pundits may have overlooked a distinctly Jewish - and socialist - element of his heritage: the bagel, which Sanders enjoys with lox.

Like Sanders' family, the bagel's storied history begins in Poland. The first mention of the bagel pops up in around 1610, in Jewish community ordinances from Krakow. As Maria Balinska highlights in her book, The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread, there are several theories surrounding the origin story of the bagel, with perhaps the most plausible pointing to restrictions on Jewish baking that forced the Jewish people to boil rather than bake their bread.

Whatever the real story, the rounded dough of mythic proportions is inextricably intertwined with Jewish history and socialism. Set against the backdrop of rapid political change sparked by the Industrial Revolution, bakeries and bagel shops served as crucial meeting grounds for political activists during the 19th and 20th centuries. Bakeries, which flew below the radar of both concerned parents and the authorities, provided the perfect cover for those eager to debate politics and pick up new recruits. As a result, the evening lines of young workers were frequented by political activists, and socialist groups such as the Bund sprang up at the turn of the 20th century around bagels.

At around the same time, the bagel began making its way across the Atlantic as emigrants transported family bagel recipes to Montreal and New York City. In New York City, bagel bakeries were initially restricted to the Jewish areas of the Lower East Side, where bakers toiled in the shadows of boiling ovens for 14- to 20-hour days. Spurred by the unionizing of other groups in New York City, as well as immigrant bagel workers' exposure to socialist and progressive ideals back in Russia and Eastern Europe, the Beigel Bakers Union (Local 338) was formed in 1907. It quickly gained momentum, representing all of the city's 30-some odd bagel bakeries by the 1930s - and it fiercely defended its workers, organizing strikes in 1951 (dubbed "a bagel famine" by the New York Times), 1957 and 1962.

The bagel's status as the fuel of the proletariat, however, wouldn't last. It would soon be supplanted by a new phase: mass production and commodification.

In 1963, inventor Daniel Thompson perfected a bagel machine that could produce more than 2,000 bagels per hour. He shopped his invention around to bagel bakeries throughout the United States, finally receiving an eager response from Lender's Bagels in New Haven, Connecticut.

The Lender family capitalized on the bagel machine and the new invention of frozen bagels, foreseeing a world of mass-produced bagels that could be stored and shipped around the country. With this change, Local 338, which had previously served as the chief arbiter of the bagel craft, was rendered obsolete. Trained bakers, who painstakingly labored in boiling kitchens and carried centuries of family recipes and know-how, were replaced by enterprising capitalists eager to mass-produce bagels as a base for sandwiches. Their efforts, according to author Matthew Goodman, corrupted the bagel's "small, flavorful, dense, and crusty" form into "now precisely the opposite: huge, insipid, and pillowy soft."

In 1971, hoping to guarantee their future pensions, the remaining members of Local 338 voted to join forces with Local 3, the New York chapter of the AFL-CIO's Bakery Confectionery and Tobacco Workers International Union. Thus came the end of Local 338 - a dissolution that took place amidst a wider crisis of labor, as unions across America began to dwindle and lose power in the face of global trade and cheap labor.

Now a ubiquitous staple in coffee chains and lunch spots, the bagel as we know it today has strayed drastically from its roots. The bagel shop - once a communal space where families and friends would line up for blocks waiting for hot bagels fresh from the oven - has largely ceased to exist. And while independent bagel shops are still around, many are distinctly bourgeois - overpriced, flocked to by Instagram influencers hungry for their next selfie, and far removed from the cheap shtetl meal of tired workers. Others serve as relics of the past, employing traditional methods to remind old bagel-goers of what the boiled bread used to be.

For bagel chains, remaining relevant means continually expanding selections of bagel types, spreads and garnishes. The result? Menu items that would make your bubbe's head spin - Einstein Bros. Bagels, for instance, offers everything from Spinach Florentine bagels to Jalapeño Salsa Reduced Fat schmear. This trend, Occidental professor Peter Dreier notes, has insidious implications: "The simple bagel of Jewish immigrant ancestors has become a matter of what advertisers, manufacturers, and business school professors call 'product differentiation,' which seeks to fragment the marketplace with choices rather than bind us together around a sense of tradition and common purpose."

That's not to say all hope is lost for the crusty bagel that bubbe used to pick up from around the corner. Perhaps it's time for bagel lovers and worker justice advocates alike to remember what Local 338 stood and fought for - and to rally behind a presidential candidate who promises to restore power and bargaining rights to labor unions. A leader who will protect and strengthen the rights of immigrant laborers, and who recognizes the importance of community, heritage, and shared spaces - whether that's the bagel shop, the local rec center, or a place of worship. Perhaps a Polish Brooklynite, someone who might have made the immigrant bakers of Local 338 proud - and who likes his bagels with lox.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:07 AM | Permalink

Confessions Of A Chicago Tour Guide Part 2: Myths Of The Mob

J.J., please . . .

Not quite in time for Oscar night and the hegemony of Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, nor Valentine's Day memories of that distasteful little "gangland" dust-up on the Near North Side, Confessions was scurrying down myriad rabbit holes around the Myth of the American Mob: re-bingeing The Sopranos, re-reading Nick Tosches' searing anti-biography of Dean Martin, Dino, and reveling in, even projecting myself into, all things Cosa Nostra.

Like his recent cinematic "riff" on Dylan's Rolling Thunder tour, Scorsese's The Irishman is as full of holes as a slice of Swiss cheese. But it makes for a hell of a story, and a heck of a movie. In this atmosphere, we began digging into recurrent myths of the Chicago Mob, known locally as the Outfit.

And in Chicago, when you need to go Outfit, you go to one man: author, historian & tour guide John Binder, whose most recent book is Al Capone's Beer Wars: A Complete History of Organized Crime in Chicago During Prohibition.

Binder is also owner/operator of the highly rated Chi-Town Gangster Tours.

Talk about "the guy who wrote the book!"

In a phone interview with Confessions last week, Binder said the biggest myth he confronts on his Chicago Prohibition Gangster Tours downtown is that Sam "Momo" Giancana & the Chicago Outfit got JFK elected president in 1960.

In a story aired on ABC7 Chicago news as The Irishman went wide, Binder told Chuck Goudie about the misrepresentations in the film's version of the story of the disappearance of former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa. In what Goudie called an instance of marketing "a sexier version of history," the movie portrays Giancana and the Outfit as having assured Kennedy the presidency, with scenes of Outfit-supervised teams of men carefully combing through cemeteries, writing down names to register as active voters:

"There is no convincing or credible evidence that organized crime delivered for John F. Kennedy in 1960 around Chicago or nationally through union members," Binder told Goudie.

Binder tells Confessions: "Maybe the Democratic Machine under Richard Daley pulled out all the stops for JFK. I have no trouble with that. They're a political party. That's what you do, work for your candidate."

Another myth: That Daley's efforts in Illinois put JFK over the top, delivering him the presidency. In fact, even if Kennedy had lost Illinois, he had enough votes to win the Electoral College.

Continuing in a tone and cadence familiar to long-time Chicagoans, the former UIC professor radiates authenticity, reminding me specifically of former CPD Superintendent Phil Cline (unfortunately, perhaps, the phrase "right out of central casting" comes to mind): "The Cook County Democratic Party ain't the Outfit. And they ain't Joe Kennedy. He might have flashed a lot of money around for his son - that's what you do for your relatives when they're running for office - but one ain't the other ain't the other."

Binder encounters slightly different myths on his Oak Park & River Forest Gangster Tours. Out here, the myths usually have to do with both the potential treasures and tragedies left behind at these generally modest, unremarkable upper-middle class suburban homes.

J.J., please . . .

For example, bodies. On this point, Binder is succinct: "That's what the forest preserve is for." I compared it to the legend of bodies dumped into the Chicago river. "That's overblown, too. There really isn't any evidence that they made a habit of dumping bodies in the Chicago River - and certainly not at their own homes."

Or left-behind stores of cash, gold, jewelry, bonds: "Generally, no. They took it with them when they left, or when they died the wife knew where it was."

We often imagine the house of a Super Villain as a cartoon-like construction of contraptions, designed to foil intruders and fool the feds, when in fact these homes were quite ordinarily appointed given the affluence of their neighborhoods in general. A safe where cash, jewelry, documents and weapons could be stored, and/or even a furnace where cash and documents could be destroyed, are not necessarily "tells."

I took the Oak Park/River Forest tour last fall and found it first-rate. Binder's affect is scholarly yet engaging, insightful and often funny. I've lived in Oak Park for nearly a decade now and I had no idea it was all around me, except on my regular bike ride to (the) Jewel(s), where I pass Momo's house, which happens to be the first stop on the nearly two-hour coach bus tour. Turns out, it's like the Northeast Jersey or Long Island of New York Families: where the Dons go to die (my phrasing).

(Come to think of it, I lived near Grand & Damen in West Town for 20 years, about two blocks from Joey "The Clown" Lombardo. Is it me?! My landlord Carlo: "Jaybird, when Joey the Clown ran the neighborhood, a woman could walk home from work at 2:30 in the morning and feel safe," which Binder recognized as a familiar old saw).

Anyway, a group of 25 or so of us made a late Sunday morning of it, each toting our brochures, cell phones and, perhaps most importantly, our desires.

As a tour guide, I recognize the arch-typical if somewhat sympathetic Doofus yearning to belong, to be affirmed as possessing valuable esoteric knowledge, to seem "In the Know." On our tour, that Doofus was among us and kept pressing Binder on what surely must have been stash-walls, hollow statuary, a pool box (even though there's no pool), a double-secret, tug-on-a-fake-book hidden door, something somewhere where they'd hide the glamorous booty.

I mean, this guy was like so many I see on Twitter and across social media, starving for any kind of acknowledgment as Special, showing off for complete strangers in a fairly sad attempt to fill some incomparable vacuum in his soul. He just wouldn't stop. Finally, Binder had to respond.

J.J., please . . .

He was gentle but firm.

"You're watching too much Sopranos."

Even true stories, as they're passed down through generations, can get mangled into myth. It's like the game of Telephone. "A particular location might have legitimately been a gangster's home," Binder told me. "But over the years, as memories fade, the name gets lost. Decades later, that guy has morphed into Al Capone."

Or a singular, odd incident morphs over time into common practice, like the Outfit using the tunnels under the Loop to move loot.

Although the safe room Capone kept at the Hotel Geraldo back in the day may have been authentic, his or any systematic "gangland" use of the small rail tunnels under downtown, originally built for small trains hauling heating coal between buildings, is not credible.

The real tunnel is out in River Forest, at Big Tuna's. The tunnel, or portions of it, leading from the large, full basement of one of Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo's River Forest houses, the one on Ashland Avenue south to the E/W cross street, is still there, one of those singular, unique incidents that become, over time, common practice.

Finally, it's never so much the journey as it is the chase. For Binder, "the real payoff comes with those extra miles. Other authors dig the hole three inches wide. I try to dig the hole three feet wide."

And that's how you destroy myths.

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Previously:
* Confessions Of A Tour Guide Part 1: Busting The Myths Of Chicago Architecture.

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See also:

* Kogan: Poet J.J. Tindall Finds Freedom In Guiding Boat Tours.

* J.J. Tindall's Chicagoetry.

* Tindall: Ballots From The Dead.

* Tindall Music.

* Tindall: Interpretive Jazz Dance 1: The Match Game Theme.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

February 20, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

Assignment Desk: Who is Laura Ellman? Because, at least today, we love her.

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I know I could check her out myself, but I don't want to ruin it by finding out she's just a hack like the rest of 'em. I'll do that tomorrow.

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Programming Note
I'm tied up today, and things may be touch-and-go for the next week as I prepare to move on March 1st. I'll be staying in the neighborhood, moving over to Washtenaw off of Logan Boulevard. More on that later. Also, my back is killing me for some reason. Don't tell mom.

Hey, here's some things still for sale (inquire within for prices):

Charming Waterfall Dresser With Bakelite Pulls

dresser4.jpg

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dresser2.jpg

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dresser1.jpg

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dresser3.jpg


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Overstuffed Love Seat/Couch!
The material is leather or vinyl or something like that.

couch1.JPG

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Minifridge!
Less blurry in real life.

minifridge.jpg

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Magazine Rack!
Not required to use it for magazines.

magrack1.jpg

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Beautiful Wood Futon Frame!
You can have the thick mattress too, but it's getting kind of hard to sleep on. Also, I will get better pictures, this hardly does it justice, it's a beautiful piece of work from the late, great Right-On Futon.

futon1.jpg

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Blago Is Back, WTF
Must we belabor the obvious? Yes, we must, and we will.

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Welcome To The Camouflaged World Of Paramedical Tattoos
At Eternal Ink in downstate Illinois.

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ChicagoReddit

Yak-Zies bartenders is the caretaker of Shoeless Joe's legacy from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

How Young Chop Helped Create Chicago Drill.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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*

*

*

Sure, but all Roger Stone did was threaten a federal judge and cover up the crimes of the President of the United States.

Also, I'm sure all the Blago sympathizers are on these cases of prosecutorial overreach. They must just be away from Twitter today.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Uncover up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:05 PM | Permalink

The Week In WTF Redux: Blago Is Back Edition

David Rutter revives his late, great "The Week in WTF" column for this special edition.

WTF Redux No. 1: Oh, hello there. We just awoke from our coma, and now we remember why Guv Blago was the "King Scumbucket" before the Royal Highness Orange Sleazeball showed up to torture the country. Bogey and Bergman will always have Paris, but when we forget why grotesque media pandering makes us hurl large chunks, we'll always have Blago's coming home circus this week.

Must we belabor the obvious? Yes, we must, and we will. He's an unrepentant, arrogant crook. He likes people to genuflect. He's the essential partner in sleazebucketness that Trump would free on an unsuspecting, ignorant world. They were created for each other. If there is a gawd, he or she has an ironical sense of humor.

WTF Redux No. 2, Chuck Goudie as Media Hero?: Let's re-vote on that canonization. We've been asleep for some years, but when did a TV reporter talking to a media hog like Blago become the reincarnation performance of Edward R. Murrow? (Go back to sleep, Ed. We'll take it from here).

It's Your Fault, America. Why did you torment our noble governor?

WTF Redux No. 3, Daddy Dearest: While Blago wrapped himself in the cloak of welcome-home-beloved daddy, he has never apologized for trying to extort $50,000 from Children's Memorial Hospital before he'd turn over state money. He was using taxpayer money - your money - to keep kids from medical care so he could make more cash for himself. If you are tempted to forgive, say that sentence again to yourself. Yes, it's a chunk-hurler.

Selling Obama's Senate seat was drearily predictable. Holding dying kids hostage? That's a special kind of Mengele evil.

WTF Redux No. 4, Mark Vargas: We ask - honestly ask - What The Royal Ef is a "clemency expediter?" Is it like a chicken sizer? Or a hog castration coordinator? That's what media throat-clearing Internet person Robert Feder called Mark Vargas in the middle of the Barnum, Blago and Bailey show. The man in question was sitting next to Blago in Seat C7 on the plane from prison, all the while texting as Goudie chirped away. Sleazebucket and Vargas were together, it seems.

You still don't know what he is, except that he springs from Judson University in Elgin and he apparently is a fixer/promoter for, well, we just can't tell from Google. But we'd bet it involves getting Blago resettlement money. How would Patti feel about Blago being on The Bachelor?

WTF REDUX NO 5., DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HiS-TORY: This won't come up much in the Sleazebucket Resurrection Tour. But WTF recalls that evil prosecutors did not convict Blago. A jury of his Illinois peers heard Empty Suit's schtick eight years ago and thought, well, no he's not a victim of anything but his own greed and lack of morals. He's the previous incarnation of Jussie Smollett.

And speaking of ignorance, despite what Herr Trump proclaimed, Blago also was not a victim of plots by FBI Evil Genius James Comey.

Comey wasn't even working for the FBI during the Guv Scumbucket Episode.

Comey also didn't have Teamster Chieftain James Hoffa buried in a concrete submarine.

WTF offers a $2 bonus prize if you know Hoffa's middle name without looking it up.

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Recently from David Rutter:

* Kris Bryant's Future Bar Trick.

* Mansplaining To A Millionaire.

* Status Check: Chicago Sports.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:58 AM | Permalink

February 19, 2020

Ink Rx? Welcome To The Camouflaged World Of Paramedical Tattoos

HECKER, Ill. - The first fingernail tattoo started off as a joke by a man who lost the tips of two fingers in a construction accident in 2018.

But that shifted after Eric Catalano, an auto finance manager turned tattoo artist, finished with his needle.

"The mood changed in here," Catalano recalled as he stood in his Eternal Ink Tattoo Studio. "Everything turned from funny to wow."

When Catalano posted a photo of the inked fingernails online last January, he thought maybe 300 people would like the realistic tattoo. He had no idea the image would be viewed by millions of people around the world. Even Ripley's Believe It or Not! tracked him down to feature the viral tattoo: a pair of fingernails that looked so real no one could believe their eyes.

Bertram_before_after.jpgCourtesy of Eric Catalano via KHN

The viral photo pushed Catalano, 39, further into the world of paramedical tattooing. Now people with life-altering scars come from as far as Ireland to visit Catalano's tattoo shop in this rural village about 30 miles outside St. Louis. They enter Eternal Ink looking for the healing touch they saw online. With flesh-toned ink and a needle, Catalano makes his clients feel whole again with an art form and industry that picks up where doctors leave off.

Catalano is known for his talent with intricate fingernails and filling in the blanks left empty by accidents or surgeries, but other paramedical tattoo artists also are trying out flesh-toned pigments to camouflage imperfections, scars and discolorations for all skin colors.

Tattoo_007.jpgEric Catalano/Michael B. Thomas for KHN

Using tattoos to blend in rather than stand out is a relatively new field. A school started outside Atlanta about four years ago has trained more than 100 aspiring paramedical tattoo artists.

Because the work is considered cosmetic, though, it typically isn't covered by medical insurance. Still, the mostly unregulated industry continues to grow even as health care professionals debate the safety of tattoo ink.

Many people are willing to pay out-of-pocket for that final piece of healing.

Leslie Pollan, 32, a stay-at-home mom and dog breeder in Oxford, Mississippi, feels this service is priceless. She was bitten on the face by a puppy in 2014. She underwent countless surgeries to correct a scar on her lip.

"I went to plastic surgeons that were supposed to be the best in Memphis," Pollan said. "They gave me no hope, so I started looking for other options."

Tattoo_002.jpgMichael B. Thomas for KHN

She ultimately traveled six hours for a paramedical tattoo session with Catalano. He used ink and his tattoo needle to camouflage Pollan's lip scar, giving her back a piece of her confidence.

"You don't understand until you've been through it," Pollan said. "It really made me have a different outlook on life."

A Booming Business

More than 500 miles from Catalano's shop, industry expert and paramedical tattoo trainer Feleshia Sams, 41, shows artists and health professionals how to cover stretch marks, surgery scars and discolored skin with flesh-toned pigment in the course she launched at the Academy of Advanced Cosmetics in Alpharetta, Georgia.

While a tattoo license is required for such work, separate paramedical tattoo training is not.

Catalano is self-taught. He uses the techniques he picked up years ago while helping breast cancer survivors who wanted tattoos of areolas - the dark area around nipples - after having mastectomies. Those tattoos are among the most common paramedical requests.

His grandmother had breast cancer. Her battle with the disease is one reason Catalano is so dedicated to helping those with the diagnosis.

"Cancer took away a part of my body I can never get back," said Sarah Penberthy, a breast cancer survivor who came from Festus, Missouri, for areola tattoos. "I felt like I wasn't even human."

Penberthy, 39, said she was grateful for her life but still felt incomplete until Catalano stepped in. He tattooed nipples and a creative design of a ship's anchor on her chest that says "I REFUSE TO SINK."

Catalano now does up to eight reconstructive tattoos each "Wellness Wednesday," drawing in nail beds on finger amputees and mocking up belly buttons after tummy tucks.

Catalano doesn't charge for paramedical tattoos. A GoFundMe page established last year brought in more than $12,000, allowing Catalano to donate his skills for the time being.

"Financially it doesn't make sense, but it's just something that I love to do," Catalano said.

But the single father of three will need more to keep things going. He wants to find other ways to fund his work.

Elsewhere, the business of paramedical tattoos is supported by the booming interest in cosmetic and plastic surgery, Sams said. Americans spent more than $16.5 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2018. After tummy tucks, breast augmentations and other procedures, some patients want to cover their scars.

"It's going to take off even more so than what we've seen in the past," said Sams. "We're providing students with a nontraditional way to make a career."

She added that one of her graduates reports a six-figure salary after establishing a business of her own.

Trial-And-Error Tattoos

Catalano's first fingernail client, Mark Bertram, 46, lost the tips of two fingers at work when his hand became trapped in a fan belt.

"It's life-changing but it's not life-ending," Bertram said. "Doing work is harder now. Everything is just a little different."

He can't tie his shoes with ease, type on a keyboard or hold food the same way anymore. But after two surgeries and occupational therapy, he decided to make light of his new condition by asking Catalano to create the fingernail tattoo. The idea made everyone in the studio laugh until they saw the final result.

Bertram has returned to the shop for a touch-up. The maintenance helps his nails keep their realistic look. The ink in fingernail tattoos, however, doesn't always absorb into the scar-tissued skin.

The two fingernail tattoos that José Alvarado, 44, of Pingree Grove, Illinois, got from Catalano in November wore off within weeks.

Alvarado had become an amputee 16 years ago when he damaged two fingers on the job at a printing factory. He endured two surgeries after the accident and had decided to visit Catalano's tattoo studio from his home outside Chicago after seeing the artist's work online. Although he was upset when the tattoos first wore off, he said, he'd like to try them again because he liked how it looked.

Catalano's not sure why they work for some and not others.

Getting the same results for people with darker skin tones is also a challenge because the color of their nail beds doesn't match the color of their skin. And paramedical tattoos of any kind for people of color can be more difficult to execute, which is one reason Sams created a line of 30 skin-colored and undertone pigments for trained professionals that she sells online and at her school. Catalano tracks the ink he uses as he continues to figure things out along the way.

"It may not be a one-size-all thing that fits everybody," he said.

Tattoo_003.jpgMichael B. Thomas for KHN

Catalano still does regular tattoos out of the studio he established more than 10 years ago. His rate of $100 per hour for those tattoos has stayed the same while he donates his paramedical work every Wednesday.

"Every time I see that emotion, I'm 100% sure this is something that I can't stop doing," he said.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:23 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

So much nonsense causing so much despair.

If we can't even get Blago right, what hope is there for anything else?

To his amateur apologists - including some prominent members of the media:

This one isn't even close. Head over to @BeachwoodReport for the world's best Blago commentary, then come back here for bonus coverage. I'll wait.

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Blago's prosecutors (Reid Schar, Chris Niewoehner, Carrie Hamilton and Patrick Fitzgerald) have issued a statement. Now, obviously I don't automatically believe everything prosecutors say - just as I don't believe everything defense lawyers say. In this case, however, prosecutors' assertions stood up against the known evidence, while defense statements fell apart when measured against the indisputable facts. Sorry, but it's true! So here goes:

The following statement was issued today regarding the President's commutation of the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich:

"Although the President has exercised his lawful authority to commute the remaining portion of Mr. Blagojevich's prison sentence, Mr. Blagojevich remains a felon, convicted of multiple serious acts of corruption as governor. The criminal conduct for which a jury unanimously convicted Mr. Blagojevich included the following actions:

(1) extorting the CEO of a children's hospital by withholding important state funding to help sick children until the CEO provided campaign contributions;

(2) extorting the owners of a racetrack by intentionally holding up the signing of important state legislation until the owners provided campaign contributions in response to an explicit demand for them;

(3) extortionately demanding funding for a high-paying private sector job, as well as campaign contributions, in exchange for naming a replacement to an open U.S. Senate seat; and

(4) lying to the FBI to cover up his criminal activity.

The law and extensive facts underlying Mr. Blagojevich's conviction were reviewed by independent judges on an appellate court and by the Supreme Court of the United States. These courts affirmed Mr. Blagojevich's conviction and sentence, and the appellate court described the evidence against him as "overwhelming."

Extortion by a public official is a very serious crime, routinely prosecuted throughout the United States whenever, as here, it can be detected and proven. That has to be the case in America: a justice system must hold public officials accountable for corruption. It would be unfair to their victims and the public to do otherwise.

While the President has the power to reduce Mr. Blagojevich's sentence, the fact remains that the former governor was convicted of very serious crimes. His prosecution serves as proof that elected officials who betray those they are elected to serve will be held to account."

Mr. Schar, Mr. Niewoehner, and Judge Hamilton are former Assistant United States Attorneys in Chicago who represented the government at trial in U.S.A. v. Blagojevich. Mr. Fitzgerald was the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois during the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Blagojevich. This statement is issued in their individual capacities.

Sure, but wasn't a 14-year sentence a bit harsh?

Actually, no. Blagojevich's sentence was at the low end of the guidelines. He got a break.

See also: Blago Ruling Indicts Media.

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And yet, at least some of Blago's apologists are getting a free ride. Shia Kapos, for example, allowed this into her reporting for Politico without correcting the record:

"Everyone knows 14 years was way beyond the sentencing norms," said Delmarie Cobb, a longtime political operative who served as Hillary Clinton's Illinois press secretary in 2016 and worked on Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign.

Everyone knows that except the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said this in 2017 - just three years ago:

The sentence was again 168 months. As before, the judge determined that the Sentencing Guidelines recommend a term within the range of 360 months to life, then made some reductions that produced a final range of 151 to 188 months. (Our first opinion rejected a challenge to that range. See 794 F.3d at 743.)

The judge recognized that 168 months is a stiff sentence for non-violent crimes by someone with no criminal record and unlikely to commit the same kinds of crimes again, because his impeachment and removal from office by the state legislature makes him ineligible for election to a new state office. Ill. Const. Art IV §14. But the judge concluded that the sentence is justified by the gravity of Blagojevich's offenses and the need to deter other public officials from acting as Blagojevich did.

Our first opinion stated: "It is not possible to call 168 months unlawfully high for Blagojevich's crimes, but the district judge should consider on remand whether it is the most appropriate sentence. 794 F.3d at 743. The judge did consider that issue in the new sentencing and stuck by his conclusion.

As did they.

So Delmarie Cobb is flat-out wrong - as is Kapos for letting her state that without correcting the record.

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"He didn't do anything," Cobb also told Kapos.

The CEO of the children's hospital he shook down for a campaign contribution before releasing Medicaid reimbursement funds begs to differ. Via the Daily Herald:

"The head of the Naperville hospital wore a wire to provide evidence of a shakedown scheme against Edward that led to convictions of Blagojevich confederates and helped build the federal case against the governor.

Now retired, she said both Trump and Blagojevich "totally abused the power entrusted to each of them."

"I recognize it was a long sentence," Davis said. "One of the reasons it was a long sentence is that (Blagojevich) never took individual responsibility for what he had done."

Exactly right.

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"People go up for murder and don't get 14 years," [Cobb] said, echoing the reasons Trump gave for commuting Blagojevich's sentence.

Again, this is simply not true. From the Tribune:

First-degree murder in Illinois carries a sentence of 20 years to life imprisonment, depending on various factors. Those convicted of first-degree murder have to serve 100 percent of their sentence.

Among those various factors, I'm fairly certain: whether the defendant admits guilt, expresses remorse, and cooperates with the police and prosecutors. (Blago has done none of those things.)

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"Cobb . . . argued there are some African Americans who believe Blagojevich got such a long sentence because he was friendly to the black community."

I'm sure there are those who think that. There are also those that think Blagojevich is an alien.

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"Democratic state Rep. LaShawn Ford echoed the sentiment, saying Blagojevich wasn't just good at schmoozing, he endeared himself to the African-American community for hiring black people in his administration and pushing for policies that benefited minorities.

"He hired a lot of African Americans, he supported early childhood education programs that created jobs and allowed parents to go to work, and you saw blacks get contracts to agencies more than you ever did before and maybe even since," Ford said. It wasn't about campaign photo ops, he said. Blagojevich earned a reputation for follow-through.

The state's political establishment just collectively spit out their coffee because Blagojevich's reputation was exactly the opposite: governing by press release and photo op and leaving the follow-up to others.

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Now let's turn our attention to longtime Blago sympathizer and access journalist Natasha Korecki, whose Politico piece led the site for a significant amount of time Tuesday and this morning.

"Prosecutors had calculated that under federal guidelines, Blagojevich's crimes technically qualified for 30 years to life in prison, but they asked for 15 to 20 years."

So far, so good.

"[Blagojevich's judge], as it happens, was the same judge who in 2009 had sentenced mob informant Nick Calabrese to 12 years in prison. Calabrese helped take down the Chicago mob. He also killed 14 people."

Okay, one sentence has nothing to do with the other. I mean, we can play that game all day and Blagojevich would hardly be the most aggrieved defendant. But more to the point, and what Korecki doesn't tell her readers, is that Calabrese was, as the Tribune reported at the time, "the only made member of the Chicago Outfit ever to testify against his superiors. His cooperation solved some of the Chicago area's most notorious gangland killings and sent three mob leaders away for life. Weighing Calabrese's terrible crimes against his unprecedented testimony in the Family Secrets trial, a federal judge sentenced him to just 12 years and 4 months behind bars, leaving relatives of Calabrese's many victims outraged and distraught."

What does this mean? First, that Calabrese's relatively light sentence was an outrage in itself at the time, so measuring Blagojevich's sentence against it is deceitfully stacking the deck; and second, that Calabrese's relatively light sentence was a result of his death-defying cooperation with federal investigators as well as a message to other mobsters that such cooperation will be rewarded. Agree or not, but important context nonetheless.

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Back to Korecki:

"I've written hundreds of stories, blog posts, magazine articles and, finally, a book on Blagojevich's case. There was one sentiment I heard over and over again, which went something like, 'I know Blagojevich was guilty as hell, but 14 years is insane.'"

She and I travel in different circles, because I've rarely heard that. But when I have, it's almost always from someone who either thinks the entire Blagojevich case was about him "selling" a U.S. Senate seat or who is not bothered by political corruption because it's a way of life around here. Also, because they've read Korecki.

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"The prosecution long battled public perception of the charges against Blagojevich as overkill - despite a stockpile of secret recordings in which Blagojevich famously said of the Senate seat Obama vacated, 'I've got this thing and it's f---ing golden.' Questions always swirled around the criminal case: Wasn't this just a ham-handed governor, emasculated and rejected by the political establishment, a politically isolated boor, who was talking big on the phone?"

Who asked those questions? Korecki!

Note, too, that she fails to mention Blagojevich's other schemes - how many times do we have to note that he shook down a children's hospital?

"Yes, attempting but failing to commit a crime is still a crime, but it's another thing to convince an average person it's illegal and punishable, especially in city where standing on someone's neck for a payoff is a way of life."

I don't know if it's really that tough to convince an "average person," but prosecutors certainly convinced a jury, a judge and several appeals courts.

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"[E]ven Fitzgerald was second-guessed when, in 2008 - the day the sitting governor was arrested in his jogging suit - Fitzgerald declared 'the conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.' The defense accused him of breaking Justice Department ethics guidelines forbidding extrajudicial comments and possibly tainting a jury pool."

Again with the passive voice. Who did the second-guessing, Blago's defense attorneys? Beyond that, Blagojevich is the one who set out to taint the jury pool with is reality TV and talk tour.

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"The Blagojevich case provided additional ammunition to critics of law enforcement already screaming about government overreach."

Really? Who? How?

"The most severe example was Blagojevich's longtime friend, Chris Kelly. Prosecutors, attempting to turn Kelly into a government witness, brought three separate indictments against him. After prosecutors filed a motion to revoke his bond, Kelly, who battled depression, took his own life. With his dying breath he told his girlfriend: 'Tell them they won.'"

Were those indictments not valid? Is Korecki really blaming Kelly's suicide on federal prosecutors? The degree of disingenuousness in this piece astounds.

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"It was against this backdrop that prosecutors brought their case. And the public reservations played out in court.

"Despite what appeared to be overwhelming evidence, the first time prosecutors brought Blagojevich to trial, the jury was unable to reach a consensus, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial on 23 of 24 counts."

So Korecki admits the evidence was overwhelming. What Korecki doesn't tell you is that the jury wasn't simply "unable to reach a consensus," it was held up by a lone holdout juror who simply couldn't be reasoned with.

Nonetheless. prosecutors pared down their case - to Blagojevich's benefit - for the retrial.

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"Even then, some of the jurors afterward expressed regret; they liked Blagojevich, but they had to follow the letter of the law."

Somehow, Korecki thinks supports her point, but not so: despite liking Blagojevich, they followed the letter of the law.

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Blagojevich (and Kelly) weren't the only ones who got snared in the myriad schemes emanating from the governor's office at the time. From NBC Chicago in 2012:

A judge has handed a two-year sentence to a longtime friend of Rod Blagojevich who stood close to the former Illinois governor as his fortunes rose, but who turned against him after his 2008 arrest. Lon Monk's sentencing Tuesday came weeks after Blagojevich reported to prison to begin a 14-year sentence for corruption counts. Monk is one of the last members of Blagojevich's inner circle to be sentenced in a legal saga stretching back a decade.

"I am prepared to serve my sentence," Monk said Tuesday. "My family is preparing."

Monk testified at both of Blagojevich's trials. He told jurors he and Blagojevich tried to squeeze a racetrack owner for a $100,000 campaign donation.

Monk pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud and agreed to testify in exchange for a government recommendation that he serve two years rather than the maximum five. Part of his sentence also includes paying a $7,500 fine.

And:

John Harris, Blagojevich's last chief of staff, was last week sentenced to just 10 days in prison for helping his old boss try to sell President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.

At Blagojevich's sentencing in December, Zagel explained why he felt the one-term congressman and two-term governor deserved a stiff sentence, telling the crowded courtroom that Blagojevich had been the ringleader of the illegal schemes and that, as a top elected official, he had violated voters' trust.

Many believe Zagel got Blagojevich's sentence right.

"Sure, 14 years in longer than 10 days," said longtime Illinois political observer Charlie Wheeler. "But Blagojevich was at the top of the pile . . . Harris was small fry. To me, Blagojevich deserved just what he got."

Huh, imagine that.

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ChicagoReddit

Where in Chicago could use a pizza shop? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

iLe at the Old Town School earlier this month.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the non-Blago delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Piss Me Off Line: And don't tell me it's raining.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 AM | Permalink

February 18, 2020

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Key to the massive $1.3 billion taxpayer subsidy for Sterling Bay's Lincoln Yards megadevelopment was a 36-page report declaring that the project met the requirements to get the money," the Tribune reports.

"As Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration promoted the record tax increment financing deal at a November 2018 public meeting inside a church, a planning official introduced the author of that report as 'the city's TIF consultant.'

"The consultant took the microphone and said the report was done 'on behalf of the city of Chicago.'

"What the administration and consultant didn't tell the crowd: Developer Sterling Bay had both picked the consultant and paid the firm. And that consultant also had been retained by a Sterling Bay subsidiary to lobby City Hall on the final terms of the Lincoln Yards agreement."

Sterling Bay: The Houston Astros of Chicago.

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"The consultant for Lincoln Yards said she doesn't see a conflict. She said the arrangement did not diminish her objectivity, and noted that her firm's reputation and business were on the line.

"If we were rigging (the reports), and we didn't back them up, someone can sue or question the funding," said Ann Moroney, president of Johnson Research Group, which did the TIF study on Lincoln Yards. "It's a huge risk (for me) to take, not to do something that's fully documented, not to mention (for) the developer and the city. I wouldn't work again."

Ann Moroney, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago. And an early frontrunner for Chicago's Worst Person Of The Year.

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From Moroney's LinkedIn page:

"Urban planning and economic development consultant since 1996 with an interest in building the vitality and sustainability of communities in and around Chicago while maintaining local character, business and uniqueness.

"Specialties: Tax increment financing; tax incentives; real estate development analysis; bond feasibility studies; community development; government relations; strategic development planning; and project management."

Also: I don't have an ethical compass, so I'm perfect if you need to navigate City Hall!

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From Moroney's company bio:

"Ann is committed to helping clients and communities overcome physical, environmental, market obstacles to development."

I'll say.

"Ann is an expert in the area of tax increment financing (TIF) having assisted in the establishment, amendment, and repeal of more than 35 TIFs in the City of Chicago and suburbs. From TIF creation to implementation, Ann has helped developer and non-profit clients in securing more than $99 million in TIF funding and leveraging nearly $213 million in building investments within the City of Chicago. Working with public agencies such as Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago and the Public Building Commission of Chicago, Ann has helped leverage TIF funds in excess of $865 million for capital improvements such as new schools, new libraries, school additions and parking garages, and much needed facility upgrades."

Every one of these should now be reviewed.

"Ann is fluent in the management of the TIF payment process and compliance monitoring from both the municipal and TIF recipient perspective. Ann works with the City of Chicago to manage the development a comprehensive and complex database and payment system that ensures responsible and timely payments for more than 400 redevelopment agreements. As part of this multi- year engagement, Ann has been involved in the preparation of Annual Reports for more than 170 TIF districts for the City of Chicago. Ann works with clients to ensure comprehensive compliance requirements are met and secure timely TIF payments."

The mayor should now ban her from ever doing business with the city again.

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Moroney is in the suburbs, too.

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"A Sterling Bay spokeswoman said the company did what the city asked."

Um, yeah. That's part of the problem.

"Sterling Bay followed - and continues to follow - the city's requirements throughout the approval process," Sarah Hamilton told the Tribune.

The Tribune oddly fails to mention that Hamilton's previous job was working for Mayor Rahm Emanuel as his director of communications. (Also, Hamilton doesn't work for Sterling Bay per se; she's a hired mouth who works for Kivvit.)

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"Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who was not yet in office when Lincoln Yards was approved, was concerned enough about such arrangements that her administration quickly took steps to create distance between TIF consultants and developers. Now only City Hall can hire such consultants 'without input or feedback from the developer,' according to a Planning Department memo the Tribune obtained."

Sadly, it appears Lightfoot has made a political decision to keep her public mouth shut about all the bullshit she's found since she became mayor.

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"The Tribune has reported that Lincoln Yards barely met the eligibility requirements and would no longer have qualified for its 'blighted' status if the City Council vote had been delayed by just a matter of weeks. That narrow margin underscores the importance of who gets to conduct such studies."

Apparently it didn't occur to city council members to ask (though, to be fair, it apparently didn't appear to journalists either):

"That Sterling Bay hired the consultant came as a surprise to Ald. Michele Smith, a leading Lincoln Yards opponent who said she was unaware the consultant was paid by Sterling Bay.

"'It was represented to us that it was the city's study,' said Smith, whose 43rd Ward includes most of Lincoln Park. 'It's been referred to as the city's report. That seems misleading to me.'"

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"Whether or not aldermen knew who paid for the TIF study, they approved Sterling Bay's TIF funding in April, a month or so before then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel's time in office was up.

"At the same April meeting, the City Council also approved up to $1.1 billion in TIF funding for The 78, a massive project at Roosevelt Road and Clark Street. The eligibility report was prepared by Laube Consulting Group, which was hired by developer Related Midwest. Michael Laube also registered as a lobbyist for the project. He did not respond to requests for comment."

Sources close to Google didn't tell me much about Laube this morning, but I did find he violated the city's ethics policy in 2017.

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"Moroney said requiring the developer to pay for such studies saves taxpayers money.

"When the city is strapped for cash, footing that kind of dough would be unfeasible," said Moroney, who indicated TIF studies can cost as little as $10,000 and as much as $200,000.

Two hundred grand is hardly unfeasible for the City of Chicago, but more to the point: Isn't the cost whatever you decide it is, Ann? You don't have to soak taxpayers if you don't want to.

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Post-script:

"Experts say such arrangements pose obvious conflicts, given that the consultants who certify such projects are being paid by the very developers who are seeking approval for hundreds of millions of dollars," the Tribune helpfully reports, apparently afraid of being accused of bias if it lets its reporting imply as such on its own.

"'I would argue that from a common-sense perspective, it is a conflict of interest,' said Maryam Judar, executive director of the Citizen Advocacy Center, which has long studied and monitored taxpayer subsidies provided through tax increment financing districts."

I wonder what the Tribune would have done if experts said, "No big deal. I don't see a conflict at all."

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I'm trying to imagine that conversation, too.

"Hi, Maryam. Um, so Sterling Bay hired its own consultant and pretended they were the city's consultant and, um, well, do you think, I mean, oh fuck, can you just give me a quote?"

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Merge Dirge

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

It's Happening Here
"The Trump presidency has shown just how many ostensibly good people will do nothing, and how evil, when given a free rein at the top, trickles down."

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Nazi-Era Public Charge Is Back
"As someone who has studied European Jews' attempts to escape Nazi persecution and immigrate to the U.S., the administration's evocation of the public charge clause is chilling."

*

We're Fucked, Mate
"Can we all at least concede that chopping down the most biodiverse areas on the planet for palm oil plantations so that we can enjoy essential products like face wash, instant noodles and twiglets is a bizarre way for a species to behave?"

*

Chicago's Vanished Grocery Stores
Along with whole fryers for 39 cents.

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The Ex-Cub Factor
Featuring Tuffy Rhodes, the Hartford Yard Goats, Big Z and Tony Clifton.

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ChicagoReddit

Careless Whisper (Smooth Tuba Version) on the CTA from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Longwave at Schubas on Saturday night.

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BeachBook

An Afghan Killed Two Americans. The U.S. Government Issued The Gun.

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Iowa Minor League Teams Fight MLB To Save Their Clubs.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

*

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The Beachwood Lincoln Yards Line: Sterling.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:17 AM | Permalink

The Ex-Cub Factor

One in an occasional series tracking the movements of former Cubs.

1. Tuffy Rhodes.

"Tuffy Rhodes could be tough to figure out," Jason Coskrey writes for the Japan Times.

Sometimes, he'd flash a big smile and crack jokes. Catch him in a good mood, and you might forget you weren't actually an old friend. Other times, Rhodes gave off an aura that said it'd be best to find whatever you were looking for somewhere else.

If he'd homered in a loss, he would shoo away reporters and tell them "home runs don't matter when you lose." If his team had won, nothing was off limits, even if he'd had a bad game.

Rhodes wasn't a robot. He rose with wins and sunk with losses. He was many things, but most of all, he was human.

Despite what the majority of voting members of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame may try to tell you, he also deserves to be enshrined there with other Japanese baseball greats.

Another Hall of Fame announcement came and went [last month] without Rhodes' name in bold, black katakana characters on the top half of the page. Instead, Rhodes was in his usual place (and typeface) about halfway down the list of candidates.

Somehow fitting. In some ways, he's the ultimate ex-Cub, a flash, a bust, a success elsewhere and yet, in the end, unvalidated.

2. Hector Rondon.

Getting out of Houston just in time, our old friend has signed a 1-year, $3 million deal with the Diamondbacks.

3. Dusty Baker.

Retained by the Houston Astros as their crisis communications manager.

4. Chris Denorfia.

"Chris Denorfia has been hired to manage Colorado's Eastern League affiliate, the Hartford Yard Goats. The 39-year-old Wheaton College product played for five teams from 2005-2015, primarily the San Diego Padres."

Denorfia appeared in 103 games for the Cubs in 2015.

"On September 28, in the Cubs final regular season home game of the year, Denorfia hit a game-winning pinch-hit home run in the 11th inning to beat the Kansas City Royals, 1-0. He became the first pinch hitter in Major League history to hit a walk-off home run for the only run of the game."

Denorfia later wound up in the Cubs' front office.

"On March 9, 2018, Denorfia retired and became a special assistant in the Chicago Cubs front office. In 2019, he joined the Cubs' coaching staff as a quality assurance coach. Following the hire of new manager David Ross after the 2019 season, it was announced that Denorfia would not return to the coaching staff."

5. Carlos Zambrano.

"Right-hander Carlos Zambrano hung up his cleats back in 2014, but he returned to professional baseball last season with the Chicago Dogs of the independent American Association. That comeback didn't lead to a new opportunity in the majors, though, and now Zambrano says he's done for good."

6. Jon Jay.

Minor league deal with the Diamondbacks.

7. Edwin Jackson.

Minor league deal with the Diamondbacks.

8. Trevor Cahill.

Minor league deal with the Giants.

9. Tony Barnette.

Retired.

10. Angel Echeverria.

Echeverria died earlier this month at the age of 48. Sean Barker of the Connecticut Post has a nice remembrance.

11. Derek Holland.

Minor league deal with the Pirates.

12. Tommy Hunter.

1-year deal with the Phillies.

13. Peter Bourjos.

Has signed on with the Rockies as an advance scout.

14. Chris Rusin.

Minor league deal with Atlanta.

15. Chris Singleton.

"A former Chicago Cubs player and current inspirational speaker gave a speech at the University of Saint Francis about the importance of forgiveness.

"Chris Singleton is a former professional baseball player. He previously played for the Chicago Cubs organization and has transitioned his career as a inspirational speaker."

16. Zac Rosscup.

Minor league deal with the Rockies.

17. Rafael Dolis.

FanGraphs describes him as a "blast from the past.

"He went to the NPB a few years back and his signing is one of the more interesting low-profile additions of this offseason. Dolis still throws hard, but his command is much better than it was years ago and he's learned a hard splitter that induces a ton of groundballs. He only allowed six homers in four years in Japan, and ZiPS is confident he'll succeed in his second major league chance."

18. Trevor "Tony" Clifton.

"The Diamondbacks have signed right-hander Trevor Clifton to a minor league contract with an invitation to MLB spring training, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. Clifton, now 24, had been with the Cubs since they used a 12th-round pick on him in 2013. He was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year in 2016, when he dominated high-A ball with a 2.72 ERA/3.05 FIP and 9.76 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 over 119 innings, and then ranked as FanGraphs' eighth-best Cubs prospect before the next season. Clifton's stock has dropped since then, though, thanks in part to his struggles in Triple-A ball last year. He managed a less-than-stellar 5.18 ERA/6.57 FIP with 7.64 K/9 and 4.55 BB/9 through 99 innings in 2019."

19. Rene Rivera.

Minor league deal with the Mets.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:05 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Vanished Grocery Stores

Fresh whole fryers for 39 cents!


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See also: Pete Kastanes' YouTube channel.

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Plus:

* 2013 Chicago Business Journal: Chicago's Grocery Store Business Changing Dramatically.

* 2014 WBEZ: Chicago's Shifting Grocery Landscape Mirrors Changing City Economics.

* 2017 Business Insider: Grocery Stores In Chicago Are In Crisis.

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And:

* 2020 New Yorker: Fairway And What We Mourn In A Store.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 AM | Permalink

It's Happening Here

Sitting here next to my computer right now are two, small paperbound books.

One of them is On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, by Yale University historian Timothy Snyder.

The other is the screenplay from the movie Jojo Rabbit, written and directed by Taika Waititi and based on the novel Caging Skies, by Christine Leunens.

At first, these two slim volumes may seem an odd combination. But one is a warning of encroaching dictatorship written by an academic, the other, "an anti-hate satire" in which Adolf Hitler is the imaginary pal of Jojo Betzler, a 10-year-old boy who is a devoted little Nazi.

So maybe not so odd a combination after all, especially in light of every American day's further descent into anti-democratic madness. Because, as Timothy Egan of The New York Times wrote last month, "The Trump presidency has shown just how many ostensibly good people will do nothing, and how evil, when given a free rein at the top, trickles down."

nazi-rally-madison-square-garden-955px.jpgThe German-American Bund's 1939 rally in support of Nazism at Madison Square Garden was foretold by Lewis's 1935 novel, It Can't happen Here/Bettman-Getty Images

A copy of On Tyranny was given to me three years ago when it first was published. I know I'm late to the party but I've just gotten around to reading it. The book rightfully is a best-seller. As others have said, it's the kind of work that should be carried with you everywhere, along with your pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Meanwhile, last Sunday, Jojo Rabbit won the Oscar for best-adapted screenplay and has received a number of other prizes, including the award from my own union, the Writers Guild of America.

Some are put off by the idea of a comedy about the last days of the Third Reich and won't even go see it, falsely prejudging what it's about. True, you may have to get beyond the first five or 10 minutes to grasp its own insane, remarkable genius but once you're there you'll see this movie for what it is - a curious and potent mix reminiscent of Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five and Gunter Grass's The Tin Drum. It attacks the brutal effects of totalitarianism with wit, absurdity and pathos.

A few have attacked the film as superficial and even hurled allegations of anti-Semitism. Others have criticized it for the sympathetic portrayal of some of the German characters - including Jojo's mother Rosie, played by Scarlett Johansson. But these characters are in fact sympathetic, weary and worn to the nub, facing the rapidly approaching collapse of the Reich with simultaneous dread and relief. Rosie works with the underground resistance and hides a teenage Jewish woman in the attic of her home.

Jojo's interactions with that young woman, Elsa, are the source of the anti-Semitism charges because in the course of discovering Elsa's decency and humanity, he expresses but then is forced to shed the hateful stereotypes burned into his impressionable brain by Nazi propaganda.

"I'd like you to draw a picture of where Jews live," he tells Elsa. "A typical hive; where you all sleep, eat, and where the Queen Jew lays the eggs."

To which Elsa succinctly replies, "You really are an idiot."

In his mouthing of these tropes and having each ridiculed and batted down by Elsa, who's strong and vivacious, with a mind light years ahead of Jojo's, the absurdity of the boy's bigotry strikes home. That's a message coming not a moment too soon these days, as the hatred that rules from the top in our country spurs crimes of bigotry and ethnic bullying that rhyme all too well with atrocities of the past.

On Thursday, a team from the Washington Post reported that "Since Trump's rise to the nation's highest office, his inflammatory language - often condemned as racist and xenophobic - has seeped into schools across America. Many bullies now target other children differently than they used to, with kids as young as 6 mimicking the president's insults and the cruel way he delivers them."

The simplicity of the Jojo Rabbit script belies the depth of its humor and insight into the ignorance, self-deception and hatred that can infect a nation. In fact, it dovetails neatly with Timothy Snyder's warnings in On Tyranny.

"Americans today are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism or communism in the twentieth century," he writes. "Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so."

In 126 quick pages, Snyder cites historical instance after instance when the citizens and leaders of democracies failed to heed the warning signs and yielded to bullies' demands.

One mistake "is to assume that rulers who came to power through institutions cannot change or destroy those very institutions - even when that is exactly what they have announced that they will do."

Another: "You submit to tyranny when you renounce the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case. This renunciation of reality can feel natural and pleasant, but the result is your demise as an individual - and thus the collapse of any political system that depends on individualism."

Among Snyder's suggestions: vote in state and local elections. Read books (his recommendations include Orwell, Camus, Hannah Arendt, the Bible and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). Subsidize investigative journalism with paid media subscriptions. Donate to charities and human rights organizations. Get a passport, travel to other countries, engage and learn. Don't conform, stand out: "Someone has to. It is easy to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. Remember Rosa Parks. The moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow."

We live in parlous times. As a week passes in which the attorney general steps up the politicization of the Justice Department and Trump resumes his quid pro quo habits by threatening to extort the governor of New York, as we sink deeper into a revenge-driven despotism that brings the unimaginable closer, standing out, speaking up and pushing back are paramount.

"We lowered our defenses, constrained our imagination, and opened the way for precisely the kinds of regimes we told ourselves could never return," Snyder writes.

Do not be numbed to the hourly hammering of outrages. Without opposition, it could become even worse, to the point that Snyder starkly concludes, "Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die under tyranny."

There is a moment in Jojo Rabbit when Jojo and Rosie walk by a public gallows. Several bodies hang from it.

"What did they do?" Jojo asks.

Rosie replies: "What they could."

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

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See also:

* New Yorker: Springtime For Nazis: How The Satire Of Jojo Rabbit Backfires.

* New York Times: The Third Reich Wasn't All Fun And Games.

* The Indian Express: Jojo Rabbit Has Important Insights On The Danger Of Propaganda.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 AM | Permalink

Supreme Court Allows Public Charge Clause That Kept Nazi-Era Refugees From The U.S.

During the Nazi era, roughly 300,000 additional Jewish refugees could have gained entry to the U.S. without exceeding the nation's existing quotas.

The primary mechanism that kept them out: the immigration law's "likely to become a public charge" clause. Consular officials with the authority to issue visas denied them to everyone they deemed incapable of supporting themselves in the U.S.

It is not possible to say what happened to these refugees. Some immigrated to other countries that remained outside Germany's grip, such as Great Britain. But many - perhaps most - were forced into hiding, imprisoned in concentration camps and ghettos, and deported to extermination centers.

In August, the Trump administration resurrected the "the public charge" clause as a way to limit legal immigration without changing the immigration laws. The rules would deny admission to those unable to prove under tough new standards that they won't claim government benefits.

A lower court had blocked that new rule with a preliminary injunction, but the Supreme Court lifted the injunction on January 27. The court's decision allows the rules to go into effect everywhere, except Illinois.

publiccharge1.jpgPresident Donald Trump congratulates newly naturalized citizens via a recorded message at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Miami field office/Wilfredo Lee, AP

Neither the five conservative justices in the majority, nor the four more liberal justices in dissent, explained their reasoning.

The many different organizations and states who have challenged the rules can continue their litigation, but the odds of ultimately winning aren't good. Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco, who asked the Court to lift the stay, argued that the new rule was a reasonable interpretation of the statute that denies admission to anyone who is "likely at any time to become a public charge."

As someone who has studied European Jews' attempts to escape Nazi persecution and immigrate to the U.S., the administration's evocation of the public charge clause is chilling.

Preventing 1930s Immigration

The public charge clause stretches back to an 1882 act, which was then incorporated into a 1917 law, that spelled out the classes of aliens who could be excluded from the U.S., including "persons likely to become a public charge."

For the first five decades, the public charge provision barred few people - basically only those unable to work due to physical or mental handicaps.

After the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression, the Hoover administration sought to combat unemployment by reducing the number of immigrants. But it didn't want to change the recently implemented Immigration Act of 1924 that set annual overall and country-by-country quotas.

In September 1930, the State Department issued a press release that told consular officials that they "must refuse the visa" to anyone they believed "may probably be a public charge at any time." The instructions achieved the desired effect. Within five months, only 10% of the quota slots allotted to European immigrants had been filled.

When the Roosevelt administration assumed power in March 1933, it continued the new interpretation of the public charge clause. As refugees from first Germany and then most of Europe sought to escape Nazi persecution, the State Department used the public charge clause to limit the number of foreigners, most of whom were Jews, from immigrating to the U.S.

With anti-foreigners pushing for legislation decreasing the quotas and refugee advocates trying to hold the line, the out-of-the-spotlight approach had political appeal. A State Department official acknowledged during hearings on a bill to cut the quotas 90% that "the administrative regulations were working so well that there was 'no urgent need for legislation.'" Indeed, none of the numerous quota-cutting bills introduced throughout the 1930s passed.

Neither the language of the 1917 act nor the press release that doubled as an executive order indicated how applicants could prove they wouldn't require public support. Should they show proof of assets? What kind of assets and in what amounts? Should they provide sworn affidavits from Americans vowing to support them? But who could provide such affidavits, and what financial resources must they possess?

With few guidelines and vast discretion, consular officials could basically do what they wanted.

Top State Department officials made clear what it was they wanted: to reduce immigration as much as possible. They also made clear that consular officials' careers hinged upon accomplishing that goal. The State Department largely succeeded, primarily by relying upon the public charge clause, historians who have researched its use agree. Once World War II started in 1939, security concerns also were used to deny visas.

About 200,000 refugees from countries under Nazi domination were admitted to the U.S. as immigrants. About 550,000 could have been under existing U.S. quotas. Only once during the 12 years of the Nazi regime, in 1939, was the German quota filled. In all other years, the quota ranged from 7% to 70%.

Reviving The Public Charge Clause

Although immigration laws have changed considerably since the 1930s and 1940s, the existing Immigration and Nationality Act retains a version of the public charge clause. It is as vague as earlier incarnations. Anyone who is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible, but the act doesn't define what that means.

A related statute suggests "the availability of public benefits" shouldn't be "an incentive for immigration." It allows administering agencies to consider factors such as the applicant's age, health, family status and financial resources.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is under the Department of Homeland Security, will now start using the new rules to determine admissions to the U.S. and to assess possible status changes for certain immigrants already here.

Those in the country can now be denied permanent legal status if they had used non-cash benefits such as for food and housing in any of 12 months during a 36-month period.

The new regulations specify negative and positive factors immigration officials must consider in deciding who is likely to become a public charge.

Applicants who have enough money to cover "any reasonably foreseeable medical costs" or have a good credit score, for example, are judged favorably. Those who lack private health insurance, a college degree, sufficient English-language skills for the job market or a well-to-do sponsor are assessed negatively.

Of recent applicants from Europe, Canada and Oceania, 27% had two or more negative factors under the new rules, Mark Greenberg of the think tank Migration Policy Institute told the Washington Post. Of those from Asia, 41% had two or more negative factors. Of those from Mexico and Central America, 60% had two or more negative factors.

In October, the State Department amended its rules for consular officers to use in issuing visas, to be in line with the new public charge interpretation. The Department of Justice has yet to announce its standards for use in deportation and other immigration court proceedings.

The regulations leave the ultimate determination "in the opinion" of the appropriate government official. I see little reason to doubt the result will be fewer and different types of immigrants. The Trump administration is as likely to succeed in communicating what it wants to lower-level officials as was the State Department in the Nazi era.

Laurel Leff is an associate professor of journalism at Northeastern University. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 AM | Permalink

We're Fucked, Mate

"Can we all at least concede that chopping down the most biodiverse areas on the planet for palm oil plantations so that we can enjoy essential products like face wash, instant noodles and twiglets is a bizarre way for a species to behave?"


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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.

* Pie Interviews A Teenage Conservative.

* Jonathan Pie's Idiot's Guide To The U.S. Election.

* President Trump: How & Why.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! All The News Is Fake!

* Happy Christmas From Jonathan Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! 2016 In Review.

* Inauguration Reporting.

* New Year: New Pie?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! A Gift To Trump?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Strong And Unstable.

* Pie & Brand: Hate, Anger, Violence & Carrying On.

* Socialism Strikes Back!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Carnage.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Papering Over Poverty.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Queen's Speech.

* Showdown: North Korea vs. Trump.

* Time For The Royal Scroungers To Earn Their Keep.

* Cricket vs. Brexit.

* The Real Jonathan Pie.

* A Hostile Environment.

* Jonathan Pie | Trump's America.

* Pie: Putin's America.

* Amazon And The Way Of The World.

* Horseface, Ho-Hum.

* Of Turbines, Trump And Twats.

* Breaking: Trump Still Racist.

* It Says Here.

* The Real Climate Crisis Hypocrites.

* Jonathan Pie On The Campaign Trial.

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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 12:03 AM | Permalink

February 17, 2020

SportsMonday: Blackhawks Barrel Jumping

The Hawks just can't get over the hump. Or should I say they can't get over the barrel? Remember that on Wide World of Sports? Guys on skates trying to long jump a record number of barrels? Those were the days I tell ya; goofy days sure, but days.


They are running out of time quickly (23 games remain in the season) after splitting two weekend games, but the majority of fans aren't ready to give up on the season just yet. And I'll ride with that (is that OK for a 53-year-old guy to say?) as long as possible and as much as possible.

Then again, the standings don't lie. After Sunday's (3-2) loss in Winnipeg, the Blackhawks stood six points in back of the Coyotes, who if the season ended after Sunday's action, would qualify for the second Western Conference wild card with their total of 66. On the bright side, the first wild card in the West, the Calgary Flames, also have 66 and therefore are theoretically catchable as well.

The problem is the number of teams between the Hawks and the team from Arizona. With their victory Sunday, the Jets pulled themselves up to 65 points. They were tied with the Predators, one spot out of the wild card. And the Minnesota Wild are still hanging in with 61.

As usual with teams in this sort of situation, the Hawks don't just need a win streak, they must have one of at least five games. And at least they return home for their next game against the Rangers on Wednesday. The trade deadline is coming (Feb. 24) but I would be surprised if the Hawks made any big moves. I don't think they are inclined to blow up this team. And the only guys they have with bigtime right-now value are still Toews, Kane and Keith.

Overall, the Hawks are healthy but a couple young key offensive cogs just can't seem to get it going this season. They are rolling four lines a decent amount of the time, but virtually every loss features a stretch where you are reminded that coach Jeremy Colliton doesn't really have confidence in anyone other than his big guns.

Saturday's game was as good as it gets. The 8-4 victory over Calgary featured just about every forward who you could have hoped would score to give his confidence a boost, scoring. That included Alex Nylander firing in two (!) and Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach each posting a goal of their own.

Unfortunately, Sunday's setback ensured the Hawks would finish their post-All Star Game road trip with only one win in five games. The Hawks clearly battled fatigue in that one but they also suffered for the young players they were counting on to provide a lot of the offense this season having another down game.

The Hawks, back-stopped by rock-solid goaltending from Corey Crawford, made a game of it, especially when Patrick Kane capped off a beautiful rush by one-timing a shot into an empty net to tie the score at two in the final minute of the second period.

It didn't take the Jets long to retake the lead in the third period and they held on the rest of the way. They were the better team on the evening with more shots and more quality chances.

In other words, many of their players could probably clear many more barrels than their Blackhawk equivalent.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:45 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city 'will not be bullied' amid reports that federal immigration authorities will deploy specialized teams to sanctuary cities across the country to help boost immigration-related arrests," WTTW-TV (amid others) reports.

"The New York Times reported last week that President Donald Trump will deploy U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tactical units from the U.S.-Mexico border to nearly a dozen so-called sanctuary cities including Chicago, New York and Los Angeles."

From the Times:

"The Trump administration is deploying law enforcement tactical units from the southern border as part of a supercharged arrest operation in sanctuary cities across the country, an escalation in the president's battle against localities that refuse to participate in immigration enforcement."

It's almost as if the President of the United States is deploying his private security force of brownshirts in a low-key civil war.

But then, it's not different in kind, only degree, than what his predecessor did.

From Sunday:

From the WBEZ article cited in the column excerpt:

Lots of people were at church the Sunday that immigration agents came and took Reynold Garcia.

"We came to the church early around 4 o'clock in the morning to do our prayers," said Haggar Gutierrez, one of Garcia's closest friends at the Christian Pentecostal Church in Schaumburg. That morning, the first one of the new year, she came to church prepared to console Garcia. Just a day before, immigration enforcement agents had gone to his house while he was away, and had taken his wife and two children.

"He told us, you know, if something happens -- I don't know why he says it, but he says, 'If something happens to me, we'll keep in touch by cells,'" Gutierrez recalled. Nobody imagined what would unfold at the church later that morning. Some now refer to it as "The Happening."

"He came up to me and was like 'Brother, I need to talk to you,'" said Benjamin Murillo, another of Garcia's church friends. "And I was like, 'What is it?' And he was like, 'Well, I received a message from Noel. He said that he hit somebody with the car.'"

Noel Coria, the cousin of Garcia's wife, had been texting back and forth with Garcia all morning. Coria's texts urged Garcia to leave the church, because Coria said he'd been in a car accident. Garcia told Murillo that he was worried about his cousin - but that something about the story also didn't seem right.

Then, Garcia got a phone call. An officer confirmed that Coria had been in an accident. He told Garcia to sit tight at the church, and they would pick him up to take him to the Palatine Police Station. The officer said that Garcia would need to fill out some paperwork since he was part-owner of Coria's car.

"So we went outside, looking for them," Gutierrez said. "And suddenly we saw that man standing right on the corner. They asked him -- the officer, you know, he asked him, 'Are you Reynold Garcia?' And he goes, 'Yes.' 'Oh, can we talk to you?'"

The officers came in unmarked cars, and wore vests that said "Police." But as Garcia, Gutierrez and Murillo spoke with them, unease crept in.

"Like, you know what? I don't think this is just the regular police," said Murillo. "That's when I told them, 'Can I go with him?' 'Nope. Unfortunately, we can't take you with us.'"

"The very last moment, you know, is when we realized what was happening," Gutierrez recalled. "I go, 'No, no no . . . this is not police. This is ICE.' But it was too late, because he was already inside the car."

What Obama did doesn't mitigate what Trump is doing. But it's important to understand how we got here - particularly for Democrats out there thinking about who to support in the primary. There have been times when Democrats thought rousting immigrants was good politics. We should all know by now that Rahm Emanuel advised both Obama and Bill Clinton to become deporters-in-chief. (Says Ryan Grim in The Intercept: "When it comes to immigration, both the politics and the policy, perhaps no Democrat has been more destructive over the past 25 years than Rahm Emanuel.")

Just so we're clear.

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Previously:

* Tent City For Migrant Kids Shrouded In Secrecy.

* Immigration Sins Of The Past And The Forced Separation Of Families.

* Law And Farce: The Forced Separation Of Families.

* Jennings v. Rodriguez And The Forced Separation Of Families.

* Forced Separation Of Families & Forced To-Term Pregnancies.

* Here's A List Of Organizations That Are Mobilizing To Help Immigrant Children Separated From Their Families.

* Separated Migrant Children Are Headed Toward Shelters With A History Of Abuse And Neglect.

* The Shelter For Immigrant Children That Melania Trump Visited Has A History Of Violations.

* U.S. Turned Away Thousands Of Haitian Asylum-Seekers And Detained Hundreds More In Horrific Conditions In The '90s.

* Brazilian Asylum Seeker Released After 11 Months In Detention; Grandson Had Been Held In Chicago.

* Immigrant Infants Too Young To Talk Called Into Court To Defend Themselves.

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See also:

* ProPublica: A Defendant Shows Up in Immigration Court by Himself. He's 6.

* The New York Times: The Price Tag Of Migrant Family Separation: $80 Million And Rising.

* 60 Minutes: The Chaos Behind Donald Trump's Policy Of Family Separation At The Border.

* Trump Lying About The 60 Minutes Report.

* E-Mails Show Trump Administration Knew Migrant Children Would Suffer Mental Problems Once Separated From Their Families At The Border. Then They Ramped Up The Practice.

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Plus:

* Immigration Raids Send Chill Through Little Village.

* This Is What A Deportation Raid Is Like.

* Illinois Immigrant, Labor, Legal Leaders Condemn ICE Raids.

* Chicago Activists Tell Undocumented Immigrants Not To Open Their Doors.

* A Shameful Round-Up Of Refugees.

* U.S. Government Deporting Central American Migrants To Their Deaths.

* Tell President Obama To Stop Deporting Refugees.

* Immigrants Arrested In U.S. Raids Say They Were Misled On Right To Counsel.

* Obama Planning Huge Deportation Sweep Of Immigrant Families.

* Immigrants Deported Under Obama Share Stories Of Terror And Rights Violations.

* Chicago Family Sues ICE & City Over Raid, Gang Database.

* Immigrants In Detention Centers Are Often Hundreds Of Miles From Legal Help.

* Chicago And The Deportation Machine.

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NBA All-Star Game Musical Recap

Stick to sports, Zach.

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Mea David Brown Culpa
Aargh, I shouldn't have written on Friday that retired Dallas police chief David Brown, who is reportedly on the short list of candidates vying for the top job here, "sounds like just a guy."

Brown actually led the Dallas department through a series of relatively progressive reforms - which also means, given a couple of the other names on the list, that Lori Lightfoot is going to arguably get a better set of names to choose from than the one she presented to her old boss, Rahm Emanuel, when he dumped the recommendations she and her police board sent him and instead elevated Eddie Johnson, who hadn't even applied, to chief. Then again, maybe fewer good folk wanted to work for Rahm.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

The Last 10 Songs I Shazamed
With accompanying video for your enjoyment.

(Or is it "Shazammed?" I went back and forth.)

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When CNN Introduces Pundits Only as 'Former,' CNN Is Lying To You
Take former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina . . .

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Manufacturing Doubt: The Corporate Manipulation Of Science
"Whether the issue is opioid addiction, climate change, or the health consequences of sugar, silica dust, diesel exhaust, or even America's most-watched professional sport, vested interests are standing by with paid experts to direct the conversation away from known harms to focus instead on uncertainties, real or imagined."

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #291: Derrick Rose Wishes He Was A Dentist & Other Strange Stories Of The Week
Rich basketball player jealous of teeth-pullers. Plus: Joe Maddon Is A Liar And Clever Things To Say About The Buffalo Sabres, The Houston Asterisks, John Henry, Charles Barkley, The Chicago Bulls, The Chicago Blackhawks, Adderall & eSports; Bobby Knight; Jason Kipnis, Spring Training, PECOTA, Kenny Williams and Illinois' Basketball Nation.

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SportsMonday: Blackhawks Barrel Jumping
They just can't get over the hump.

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Dress Codes & Race
"While wearing a respectable suit and tie, Donald Trump announced a policy that separated children from their parents coming across the border; he looked businesslike as he referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as 'shithole' countries; he was dressed formally as he signed the largest corporate tax cut in U.S. history into law; and he looked like an upstanding citizen when he likened torch-toting neo-Nazis and Confederate sympathizers to antiracist activists in the aftermath of the Charlottesville riots. Trump may have been appropriately dressed on all those occasions, but his actions betrayed the dignity of the White House."

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The Great Migration & Beloit's African-American Heritage
"Beloit was situated in an ideal location on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin, so they could still . . . reach their family members that might be in Chicago."

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ChicagoReddit

1910 Chicago Automobile Show, Chicago Coliseum, the Hudson display from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

Blue glazed. W 19th St. Pilsen.

A post shared by Brick of Chicago (@brickofchicago) on

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ChicagoTube

Two local TV news reports about the Rolling Stones' 1978 show at Soldier Field bookend this video. Oh, and a guy died!

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BeachBook

Target's Delivery App Creates Culture Of Fear And Retaliation.

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3D Mural On Howard Street.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

OK, but now they have to take to the streets.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: No shirt, no service.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:17 AM | Permalink

February 14, 2020

When Acceptable Attire Depends On The Color Of Your Skin

Every day educators teach students the adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Many are familiar with the biblical verse, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed that one day we'd live in a nation where children (and their parents) "will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." All of these sayings are saying the same thing - yet what does it say about us when we judge someone by the most superficial cover of them all: their wardrobe?

While wearing a respectable suit and tie, Donald Trump announced a policy that separated children from their parents coming across the border; he looked businesslike as he referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as "shithole" countries; he was dressed formally as he signed the largest corporate tax cut in U.S. history into law; and he looked like an upstanding citizen when he likened torch-toting neo-Nazis and Confederate sympathizers to antiracist activists in the aftermath of the Charlottesville riots. Trump may have been appropriately dressed on all those occasions, but his actions betrayed the dignity of the White House.

Still, he wasn't wearing his pajamas, or exposing his body parts, like some parents do when they take their kids to school, and that's the important thing, you know.

"A principal I talked to told me a lady came into the office with her sleepwear on with some of her body parts hanging out. You got children coming down the hall in a line and they can possibly see this," Tennessee State Rep. Antonio Parkinson said on the NBC show TODAY in January.

Parkinson is making waves, writing dress code policy for public school parents who he's told are "wearing next to nothing," and while walking their children to school no less. He introduced a bill requiring schools to adopt a "comprehensive code of conduct" that would describe the "types of behavior expected of all people entering school grounds," and although it doesn't mention a dress code, his public comments suggest he believes it would empower schools enforce dress codes for adults.

These loutish parents, according to Parkinson, are freely exposing their expletive-ridden tattoos to the detriment of decorum, respect and dignity, as well as vulnerable children. Parkinson is pushing a deficit narrative - negative presumptions about particular socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups. We are to assume the parents targeted by Parkinson are a danger to themselves and others.

As a former school leader, I well know that there are certain behaviors by parents that must be confronted. Violence of all kinds must be strongly discouraged. There should be standards around communication that's befitting of an educational institution. But if you've been exposed to schools that educate students from upper-income families, you'd know that business suits cover tattoos, but they don't conceal a lack of kindness, respect and cordiality. You don't have to use swear words to be vulgar; the stereotyping of black and brown people happens regularly, without a swear word attached to it. Likewise, there is no regular outcry from legislators and principals from white, middle-class schools about parents donning gym attire and yoga pants when they bring their kids to school. The double standard is as crisp as the fold in Trump's ironed pants.

In recent years, politicians and school officials have introduced proposals for creating adult dress codes for parents (and volunteers who aren't parents!) attending school functions. In 2014, both the Broward and Palm Beach County school boards in Southern Florida discussed implementing policies on parents' attire at school functions, citing the ubiquity of pajamas, hair rollers, and sagging pants, according to Associated Press reporting. Neither board actually ended up creating policies for fear that they would be difficult to enforce and because of the belief among board members that it wrongly defamed parents. "We say that parents send the best children they have to school," Debra Robinson told the Associated Press. "Well, guess what? Kids send the best parents they have too."

Palm Beach County considered a dress code for all grownups on campus after a mother complained that her son in elementary school reported that a volunteer wasn't wearing underwear. The board scuttled the proposal for fear that it was alienating the adults that schools are trying to engage. But many schools and districts have succeeded in creating dress codes for adults. For instance, the employee dress code of the New Hanover County School System in North Carolina bars "revealing necklines, bare midriffs and excessively tight clothing." The dress code also mandates that clothing not rise more than 4 inches above the knee. Not surprisingly, the majority of dress code policies are targeted at women.

Legislators who should be writing policy that gets to the source of inequality and injustice instead resort to respectability politics, which the writer Damon Young defines as "what happens when minority and/or marginalized groups are told (or teach themselves) that in order to receive better treatment from the group in power, they must behave better."

These deficit narratives that assume the culture of the parents and students are the cause of underachievement overlook the culture of the school, course of study and lack of extracurricular offerings, which are influential for student outcomes. Principals who blame parents probably don't want to be held accountable for what the school is actually responsible for. Blaming parents is often a misinformed and racist distraction: Black parents tend to value education more than other groups.

"Hispanic and black parents are significantly more likely than white parents to say it's essential that their children earn a college degree," found a 2016 Pew Research Center survey. People of color believe in the power of education. The report finds that 86 percent of Hispanic parents and 79 percent of black parents with children under 18 say it is either extremely or very important that their children earn a college degree compared to about two-thirds (67 percent) of white parents who say the same.

If we're going to judge people by their attire, then saggy pants and hair rollers should be the mark of high aspirations, based on the Pew data on the high value that black and brown parents place on a college degree.

Underachievement isn't from a lack of will; there is a lack of way, meaning quality, highly resourced schools and college access. We have to stop blaming black parents for their underachieving kids. I see the value in creating community standards, but browbeating parents publicly is no way to get them to conform. Parkinson and the educators who are informing him are modeling behaviors we don't want in our schools - badgering and bullying. If a principal will disparage a parent, that principal will most certainly belittle a child - also an affront to positive community values.

Trump makes it crystal clear that we should be more worried about well-dressed men in power than scantily clad women bringing their kids to school when it comes to harming society.

This post was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for Hechinger's newsletter.

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Previously by Andre Perry:
* Black And Brown Kids Don't Need To Learn 'Grit,' They Need Schools To Stop Being Racist.

* Why Black Lives Matter Should Take On Charter Schools.

* Don't Be Surprised If Colin Kaepernick Prompts More Schoolchildren To Sit For The Pledge Of Allegiance.

* "Wraparound" Services Are Not The Answer.

* Youth Aren't Props.

* NOLA's Secret Schools.

* Poor Whites Just Realized They Need Education Equity As Much As Black Folk.

* Letting Our Boys Onto The Football Field Is A Losing Play.

* America Has Never Had A Merit-Based System For College Admissions.

* Don't Ever Conflate Disaster Recovery With Education Reform.

* Black Athletes Can Teach Us About More Than Just Sports.

* Charter Schools Are Complicit With Segregation.

* When Parents Cheat To Get Their Child Into A "Good" School.

* Any Educational Reform That Ignores Segregation Is Doomed To Failure.

* Dress Coded: Rules And Punishment For Black Girls Abound.

* When High School Officials Suppress Students' Free Speech.

* Disrupting Education The NFL Way.

* The Voucher Program We Really Need Is Not For School - It's For After.

* Charter School Leaders Should Talk More About Racism.

* Bold, Progressive Ideas Aren't Unrealistic.

* White Coaches Pick The Wrong Side When They Talk Down To Their Black Athletes.

* The Importance Of The 1619 Project.

* Black Athletes Have A Trump Card They Are Not Using Enough.

* Making Elite Colleges White Again.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:40 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #291: Derrick Rose Wishes He Was A Dentist & Other Strange Stories Of The Week

Rich basketball player jealous of teeth-pullers. Plus: Joe Maddon Is A Liar And Clever Things To Say About The Buffalo Sabres, The Houston Asterisks, John Henry, Charles Barkley, The Chicago Bulls, The Chicago Blackhawks, Adderall & eSports; Bobby Knight; Jason Kipnis, Spring Training, PECOTA, Kenny Williams and Illinois' Basketball Nation.


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SHOW NOTES

* 291.

:32: What's The Deal With The Buffalo Sabres?

"Wanting a name other than 'bison' (a generic stock name used by Buffalo sports teams for decades), the Knoxes commissioned a name-the-team contest. With names like 'Mugwumps,' 'Buzzing Bees' and 'Flying Zeppelins' being entered, the winning choice, 'Sabres,' was chosen because Seymour Knox felt a sabre, a weapon carried by a leader, could be effective on offense and defense."

2:36: Astrology.

* Jim Crane grinds Coach's gears.

* Permission to buzz the Astros' towers? "That's a negative, Ghostrider, the pattern is full."

5:26: Betts Is Off.

* John Henry vs. Jim Hendry.

* Mookie Betts vs. Jerome Betts.

8:08: Derrick Rose Wishes He Was A Dentist.

"I hate living with boundaries. It kills me when I go on vacation and I just know people are chilling there as a dentist or somebody with a regular job. They're able to live the life to just walk around freely, and I'm jealous of that, because deep down I want that, but I can't have it, so be careful for what you pray for because you'll never know how it'll turn out."

10:50: Charles Barkley Is The Funniest Man In Sports Media.

* Coach: "He's. Just. Funny."

* Listen here.

11:30: Bulls Should Be Embarrassed Hosting All-Star Game.

* Rhodes asks dumb media narrative question.

* Coach: "It's certainly a black eye for the Bulls.

* Rhodes and coach confuse hockey and basketball all-star games and trade deadlines. Tough week, folks.

* New NBA All-Star Game Format Makes Every Quarter Count.

15:19: Thank Goodness For Spring Training.

* But not Crane Kenney.

16:57: PECOTA!

* Current projections.

20:38: White Sox Report Hurt.

* Three Gs arrive banged up.

22:16: Kenny Williams Is Still A Thing.

* Morrissey: 'Has fingers on rebuild.'

* Jake Odorizzi is still a Twin.

Also: "Odorizzi attended Highland High School in Highland, Illinois, where he helped lead the Highland Bulldogs to the Illinois state championship."

26:30: The Dodgers Have Already Won The NL.

* Reds are pundits' favorites to win the Central.

27:35: Joe Maddon Is A Liar.

28:55: Interlude: Jason Kipnis, The XFL, Bobby Knight & Adderalled eSports.

32:36: Blackhawks Back To Bust.

* Where have you gone, Alex DeBrincat? A cold city turns its eyes to you

33:48: Basketball Nation Illinois.

* Arrows up: DePaul Women, Northwestern Women

* Arrows down: Illini Men, DePaul Men, Loyola Men, Northwestern Men

* Phoenix: Loyola Women's Basketball 'Starting From Scratch' After Rough January.

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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 12:14 PM | Permalink

The Great Migration & Beloit's African-American Heritage

Perched along the state's border with Illinois, Beloit is as far south as one can get in Wisconsin. However, the city's roots extend much farther into the South, where they tap into the fertile soils of northeast Mississippi and a handful of small agricultural towns.

Beloit stands out in Wisconsin. It's a small city - home to fewer than 40,000 people - with a relatively large African-American community. Black residents have called Beloit home since its early years in the mid-19th century - one of the city's first blacksmiths was an African-American man. But the city's black community remained tiny in its early years, numbering in the dozens until the second decade of the 20th century.

African Americans began arriving in Beloit by the hundreds in the 1910s as part of the first Great Migration, which continued for several decades up to World War II. Millions of black Southerners moved north to find employment and to escape rampant racial violence and state-sanctioned segregation. In the Midwest, major cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee became prominent Great Migration destinations. But despite being lesser-known, some smaller communities also attracted African-American migrants from the South.

uplace-history-africanamerican-greatmigration-beloit-fairbanksmorse-workers.jpgFive foundry workers at Fairbanks, Morse and Company pose for a photo outside the door of a factory building in 1925: Solomon Deberry, Curtis Barber, two unidentified co-workers, and Deberry's son, Booker T. Deberry/Wisconsin Historical Society

It was Beloit's manufacturing sector that attracted and benefited from the new workforce. Specifically, the Beloit Iron Works foundry and a manufacturer of pumps, engines and other products known as Fairbanks, Morse and Company drew hundreds of young men and their families north.

In just a decade or so, Beloit's African-American community numbered greater than 2,000, upward of a tenth of the city's total population. (Beloit is about 15% African American in 2020.) Many of these newcomers came from four small communities in northeast Mississippi's agricultural belt: Pontotoc, Houston, New Albany and West Point.

uplace-history-africanamerican-greatmigration-beloit-fairbanksmorse-postcard.jpgA colorized image depicts the Fairbanks, Morse and Company buildings in Beloit, circa 1910/Wisconsin Historical Society

In Beloit's factories, African Americans found new opportunities, but they also encountered familiar racism.

"They were still getting overlooked to become superintendents, foremans and all those things," said Linda Fair, an academic advisor at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville. Fair recounted Beloit's black history in a talk at the Beloit Public Library recorded for a June 25, 2019 episode of PBS Wisconsin's University Place.

In addition to workplace discrimination, Fair described the structural and cultural barriers African Americans encountered in Beloit, including housing segregation, health care discrimination and a lack of employment opportunities outside of low-wage manufacturing and domestic work. But Beloit's black residents persevered, Fair said, leaning on their religious faith and pursuing education as a means to greater opportunities.

Such opportunities expanded in the second half of the 20th century, as a national civil rights movement precipitated landmark legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited educational, employment and public services discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

The legislation and changing attitudes opened up new opportunities for Beloit's African-American community, and Fair named a number of community members who were the first among their peers to land positions in city government, local schools and Beloit's health care system.

"At the time when they were doing these things, they weren't doing it so that I could stand here in 2019 and shout their names out," said Fair. "They did it because it was in their heart, it was in their mind, it was embedded into them to reach out, do what you gotta do, take care of your family and help leave a legacy for some others to follow."

Key Facts

  • Beloit's first black residents were Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel Craig, who settled in the village in 1839, soon after its founding. Emmanuel Craig was employed as a coachman.
  • The Ousleys were one of Beloit's first black families, arriving decades before the first Great Migration. Grace Ousley was the first African American to graduate from Beloit High School and the first black woman to graduate from Beloit College, in 1904.
  • The city's black population was tiny up through the second decade of the 20th century, when thousands of African Americans moved to Beloit. Most of these newcomers to Beloit came from four small cities in northeast Mississippi during the first wave of the Great Migration.
  • Only two financial institutions in Beloit would loan money to African Americans in the early portion of the 20th century, and much of the local real estate was restricted to white residents only.
  • Beloit's Fairbanks Flats apartments, which remain in existence in 2020, were originally built in the early 20th century to house an influx of workers at Fairbanks, Morse and Company, many of whom were African Americans from the South.
  • Among the thousands of migrants who came to Beloit from Mississippi during the 1910s was Rubie White (later Rubie Bond), who arrived as a girl with her family in 1917. She shared her story in PBS Wisconsin's Wisconsin Stories: Finding a Home program in 1998.

uplace-history-africanamerican-greatmigration-beloit-bond-1.jpgLaura White, Josephine Vance and Rubie (White) Bond pose together in Beloit in 1920/Wisconsin Historical Society

  • On the importance of Beloit's proximity to Chicago in attracting newcomers during the Great Migration: "Beloit was situated in an ideal location on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin, so they could still . . . reach their family members that might be in Chicago."
  • On the outsize role of Fairbanks-Morse in attracting African-American workers: "'Beloit, Beloit, Beloit,' said the train conductor as he carried loads of people from the South to the North to work at Fairbanks-Morse. He called out again, 'Beloit, Beloit, Beloit.' No one moved. Then he said, 'Fairbanks,' and the whole train emptied."
  • On systematic housing discrimination black residents faced: "Realtors and financial institutions would not rent, sell or finance property to Blacks unless there were already Blacks living in that area."
  • On the historical importance of religious faith within Beloit's black communities: "Church has served as a religious and social center. Especially think about all the people that transported north from Houston, Pontotoc, some of those cities - they didn't really know much about the area, so their hangout was the church. They had Bible meetings. You had choir rehearsals. It was just their social gathering place. They relied heavily on their religious beliefs."
  • On the value of understanding your community's history: "Now, we must never forget, sometimes it is impossible to know where you are headed without reflecting on where you came from. Understanding your heritage, your roots and your ancestry is an important part of carving out your future."

This post was originally published on WisContext, which produced the article in a partnership between Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin.

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Previously in Wisconsin:
* Song of the Moment: On, Wisconsin!

* Tribute: The Mars Cheese Castle.

* Wisconsin Cheese Production Continues To Grow.

* Wisconsin's Specialty Cheesemakers May Be Better Off Than Other States.

* Tips For Growing Blueberries In Wisconsin.

* Amid A Boom, Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Look To Future Markets.

* The Top 10 Wisconsin Insect Trends Of 2016.

* Wisconsin's Penokees Are A Geologic Gem.

* Wisconsin Researchers Aim To Make Cows Happier.

* Wisconsin And The Extinction Of The Passenger Pigeon.

* The Life Of Land After Frac Sand.

* Blueberry Maggot Fly Poised To Expand In Wisconsin.

* Efforts To Boost Marten Numbers In Wisconsin Meet Ongoing Failure.

* How To Raise A Pizza.

* RECALL! Wisconsin Pork Sausage Patties.

* Making The Most Of Wisconsin's Autumn Garden Harvest.

* Who Is Stealing Wisconsin's Birch?

* How To Harvest And Process Wisconsin's Edible Tree Nuts.

* Lakes, Cheese And You.

* When Oshkosh Was Sin City.

* Wisconsin Workers, Chicago Commuters And The Cost Of Living.

* Chicago vs. Wisconsin.

* Before Dairy Ruled, Wheat Reigned In Wisconsin.

* The Allure Of Destination Breweries As Rural Economic Engines.

* Green Bay Packers Fans Love That Their Team Doesn't Have An Owner. Just Don't Call It 'Communism.'

* When UW Arboretum Restoration Research Fired Up An Oscar-Winning Disney Doc.

* The National Bobblehead Hall Of Fame Has Opened In Milwaukee.

* Melted Cheese Tops Wisconsin Championship.

* Wisconsin's Big Marketing Cheese.

* Washed Away: Northwest Wisconsin Copes With The Costs Of A Changing Climate.

* Wisconsin Is America's Goatland.

* Lake Mendota's Muck.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:16 AM | Permalink

Manufacturing Doubt: The Corporate Manipulation Of Science

Their secrets are out - the tobacco industry's decades-long campaign to undermine the science linking their products to cancer and other deadly diseases has been the subject of numerous media reports, scholarly papers, books, documentary films, and even a Hollywood movie.

In his meticulously documented new book, The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception, David Michaels shows that Big Tobacco's well-known denial tactics have not faded into history, but instead have become an integral part of corporate America's standard business practices.

the-triumph-of-doubt-small-1200x1824.jpg

Michaels is a professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and previously served as assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under President Obama. His new book joins others, like Merchants of Doubt, The Heat Is On, and Deceit and Denial, that have examined corporate manipulation of science, and it continues an exposé he began with his 2008 book, Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health, which delved into how the tobacco industry sowed confusion over smoking's health risks and succeeded in delaying regulations that would cut into their profits.

In his new book, Michaels documents how these same gambits are being put into play across a wide array of industries. Whether the issue is opioid addiction, climate change, or the health consequences of sugar, silica dust, diesel exhaust, or even America's most-watched professional sport, vested interests are standing by with paid experts to direct the conversation away from known harms to focus instead on uncertainties, real or imagined.

"Rare is the CEO today who, in the face of public concern about a potentially dangerous product, says, 'Let's hire the best scientists to figure out if the problem is real and then, if it is, stop making this stuff,'" Michaels writes. Instead, they open the Big Tobacco playbook, which says that it's always easier to dispute the science than debate the policy.

When faced with the impeding regulations, companies don't argue against oversight. Instead, they insist that any regulation must be based on "sound science," a term invented by the tobacco industry to prevent or confuse scientific consensus. What makes the strategy so effective is that it uses the language of science to undermine inconvenient findings produced by legitimate scientific inquiry.

The trick here is that no science is ever sound enough. Science can only reduce uncertainty, not eliminate it, so by fanning unfounded doubts and demanding extreme levels of certainty before taking action, companies and their agents can delay government regulations, sometimes for decades. Truth eventually comes out ("there are no 'alternative facts' in science," Michaels writes), but companies stand to make a whole lot of money in the interim.

"We don't expect mercenary scientists," Michaels writes, but he argues that too often, that's exactly what we're getting - "a cabal of apparent experts, PR flaks, and political lobbyists who use bad science to produce whatever results their sponsors want."

Consider what happened in the early 1990s when the NFL began to see signs of a possible epidemic of brain injuries related to the game. Then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that the league was forming a Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (MTBI) Committee, which would "scientifically investigate concussion and means to reduce injury risks in football." Michaels notes that even the name itself gave the impression that these were just mild injuries - nothing much to see here. Rather than filling the committee with renowned brain researchers or independent neurologists, Michaels writes, Tagliabue enlisted people who could be trusted to protect the league's interests - representatives from the NFL Team Physicians Society, the NFL Athletic Trainers Society (now the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society), and NFL equipment managers.

Committee chairman Elliot Pellman was Tagliabue's personal physician, a rheumatologist with no specific expertise in brain trauma or neurology. Like Pellman, some of the other committee members were also consultants to some NFL teams, which meant that they were personally responsible for taking part in decisions about whether concussed players were too hurt to return to the game. "Consciously or not, they were not likely to welcome the idea that sending players who had been knocked woozy right back onto the field might contribute to their risk of long-term brain damage," Michaels writes. "Independent they were not."

For eight years, the committee published nothing. Its main purpose, according to Michaels, was to show that the league was doing something. Eventually the group did have something to show. Between 2003 and 2006 it published 13 papers in a single journal, Neurosurgery, whose editor happened to be Michael L.J. Apuzzo, medical consultant to the New York Giants. These papers had methodological flaws that virtually guaranteed that they would find few neurological effects, Michaels writes, adding that these problems were so apparent that the journal published cautionary reviews in tandem with the committee's papers.

Eventually, of course, the charade was ended. High-profile deaths among former NFL players who were diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy post-mortem were too difficult for the league to ignore, so the NFL brought more qualified experts in to study the problem. It also gave the National Institutes of Health $30 million in what was originally called "unrestricted" funds to study the problem, but when they learned how the money would be spent - on a grant to a researcher who had filed an affidavit in a case brought by players against the league - it pulled out. The NFL wanted science, but only if it wouldn't make the game look too dangerous.

In chapter after chapter, Michaels details how scenarios like this played out as corporate interests sought to downplay risks of everything from alcohol to industrial dust, sugar, and VW's diesel emissions.

Among the best known and most serious examples concerns opioid drugs. As the opioid crisis unfolded, the drugs' makers suppressed certain studies, misrepresented others, and elevated any scrap of evidence that could support their positions that the drugs didn't pose any special addiction risk, Michaels writes. They even invented a new diagnosis, pseudoaddiction, to make their product seem less dangerous.

The idea behind pseudoaddiction, Michaels writes, was that "a craving for opioids accompanied by behavior aimed at obtaining the drugs - addiction, in common understanding - was in fact driven by the still unrelieved pain for which the patient had been prescribed the opioid in the first place - pseudoaddiction."

The concept took off, even in the absence of any real evidence. "And the best way to treat pseudoaddiction? More opioids, of course," Michaels writes. Hidden amid the hundreds of articles discussing pseudoaddiction were a half dozen papers challenging the notion of pseudoaddiction - all published by physicians who were not receiving funding from the drugs' manufacturers. "It was not a fair fight," Michaels writes. "The results were predictable. The bogus, well-moneyed work overwhelmed the serious science."

The book's combative and unflinching tone surely reflects Michaels' state of frustration as he shows how many of the same people who had worked for the tobacco industry are now selling their doubt-making skills to other industries. Meanwhile, hired experts with long records of downplaying evidence to hold back regulations have found a home in the Trump administration, where they're running the very regulatory programs they'd build careers undermining. For instance, the EPA was readying regulations to limit exposure to formaldehyde, a carcinogen, until a Trump appointee who had formerly worked for Koch Industries, a major formaldehyde producer, stepped in to halt the effort. Trump's current Bureau of Land Management head, William Perry Pendley, previously ran Mountain States Legal Foundation, which worked to undo endangered species protections. Pendley has openly favored selling off federal lands, lands he is now in charge of managing.

Such "regulatory capture," as it's called when the industries an agency oversees gain control over its agenda, is not new (the Obama administration, for instance, was accused of regulatory capture for the technology industry), but Michaels argues that it has reached new levels in the current administration. He ends the book by outlining steps that could be taken to correct course - make producers pay for the research on their products' safety but hand control of the studies to truly independent scientists, for instance - but he implies that whether this will happen may be up to voters to decide in November.

This article was originally published on Undark.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:50 AM | Permalink

The Last 10 Songs I Shazammed

With accompanying video for your enjoyment.

1. "I'm Good" / Wafia


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2. "Funeral Singers" / Sylvan Esso (feat. Collections of Colonies of Bees)

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3. "Animal Shapes" / Silver Jews

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4. "Holding Roses" / Twin Peaks

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5. "Shakedown on 9th Street" / Ryan Adams

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6. "Houston Hades" / Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

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7. "Shelter Song" / Temples

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8. "Get Ur Freak On" / Missy Elliott

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9. "Rill Rill" / Sleigh Bells

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10. "1, 2 Step" / Ciara (feat. Missy Elliott)

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See the Playlist archive.

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Submit your own!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:56 AM | Permalink

When CNN Introduces Pundits Only as 'Former,' CNN Is Lying To You

CNN and CBS do it. NPR and PBS do it. They all do it.

It's a "gentlemen's agreement" between elite media and their establishment guests - a courtesy major news outlets bestow upon former officials who get to pontificate and editorialize about today's events with no worry they'll be identified by their jobs today.

On Wednesday night, CNN's Don Lemon hosted ubiquitous Bernie Sanders-basher Jim Messina - solo, without an opposing view - to slam Sanders and his Medicare for All proposal.

Messina was introduced and repeatedly identified only by his former positions: "Former Obama Campaign Manager" and "Former Deputy Chief of Staff, Obama Administration."

As is typical, viewers weren't told what Messina's current job is - perhaps far more relevant information than his positions many years ago.

messinacnn.jpg

Messina is now a corporate consultant. He is CEO of The Messina Group, whose website boasts corporate clients such as Google, Uber, Delta, PillPack/Amazon - and the slogan: "Unlocking Industries So Businesses Can Win."

If properly introduced, it would have been no surprise to CNN viewers that a corporate consultant would revile Sanders, the most popular anti-corporate politician in recent U.S. history.

Lemon also neglected to inform viewers that since leaving Team Obama, Messina has been paid handsomely to elect conservative politicians across the globe, including Tory Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May in Britain, and Prime Minster Mariano Rajoy in Spain. Messina's website features an image of Cameron next to the banner: "Campaigning for candidates we believe in."

In U.S. corporate media, such misidentification is a hoary tradition, and a dishonest one. More relevant to news consumers in judging the quality of information from a former government official would be the current employment and entanglements of that ex-official.

In the months after the Chinese government massacred students in Tiananmen Square in 1989, no voice in U.S. media was more prominent or ubiquitous in apologizing for China than Henry Kissinger, usually identified only as "former Secretary of State." Consumers of news were almost never told that Kissinger at the time was a consultant to corporations doing business in China - and the head of China Ventures, a company engaged in joint ventures with China's state bank.

When healthcare reform was being hotly debated in 1993-94, NPR presented point-counterpoint face-offs between a former GOP congressman and a former Democratic congressman, both of whom were quick to deride the proposal in Congress for a single-payer system of government-provided health insurance. NPR didn't tell its listeners that both of its "formers" were current lobbyists or consultants for private healthcare corporations.

A lot of the corruption in Washington - the kind Sanders and Elizabeth Warren criticize - stems from former officials, whether Democrat or Republican, leaving government to work as consultants or lobbyists for greedy private interests. Mainstream news outlets work hard to look away from this corruption, and one way they do so is by dutifully identifying their "experts" only as formers.

Anita Dunn will always be the "former Obama White House Communications Director" - and in that job, she assisted first lady Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign. After leaving the White House, Dunn became a consultant for food companies seeking to block restrictions on sugary food ads targeted toward children. She also consulted for TransCanada in its push for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Today, Dunn is a senior adviser on Joe Biden's presidential campaign.

A warning to news consumers: When CNN or NPR or PBS introduces a guest only as a "former" official, you are being lied to more often than not.

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:17 AM | Permalink

February 13, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

"If hard seltzer is a ridiculous passing fad, Chicago is heading toward peak ridiculousness: the city's first hard seltzer festival," Josh Noel writes for the Tribune.

"And even if hard seltzer isn't a ridiculous passing fad, Chicago is heading toward peak ridiculousness: the city's first hard seltzer festival."

Nicely done.

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Last weekend I lived a bit of the Truly life, but it was no match for the simple fact that there ain't no laws when you're drinking Claws.

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Sixteen Candles In The Wind
"To no surprise, the 1984 John Hughes classic Sixteen Candles tops the list as Illinois' favorite romantic comedy, according to Comparitech," the Sun-Times reports.

Well, I'm surprised, perhaps because I've never been a fan of that movie. Eww.

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I could give you all kinds of reasons why I don't like that movie, but for today I'll just leave you with this.

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P.S.: A better take for an article on this would have been, "Illinois' Favorite Rom-Com? A Racist, Rapey Disgrace."

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Reality TV
"According to a new report, cop shows, legal dramas and other crime-oriented series are loaded with concerning misrepresentations. Unjust actions by police are portrayed not only as routine and harmless, but acceptable and necessary. More to the point: 'These series make heroes out of people who violate our rights,'" the Tribune reports.

Rashad Robinson is president of the racial justice organization Color of Change, which conducted the study and assessed 26 TV series (across broadcast network, cable and streaming) in collaboration with the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California. Among the shows examined: Blue Bloods and NCIS on CBS; BoschNarcos on Netflix; and Law & Order: SVU and Chicago P.D. on NBC.

"For the past 20 years in this country violent crime has steadily gone down," he said, "but if you ask most Americans, in Pew polls and others, they believe violent crime is going up. So we know there is a gap between perception and reality. And we know that what people think about the system - in terms of whether it's working or not - plays into what type of reforms they believe are viable."

The report found that crime shows imply "justice gets done because the rules get broken, that abuse and harm are rare, that racial bias and systemic racism do not exist and that current police methods keep people safe and are necessary for solving crime."

I just took a break from writing this item to go to the bathroom and I was standing at the urinal (I'm at a bar) trying to think of a clever line of commentary when I came up with "librocrisy." Liberal hypocrisy. 'Cause Hollywood is supposed to be liberal (ha).

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More to the point, though: It's not about conservative or liberal, it's about reality. When Hollywood doesn't represent reality well, it perverts public perceptions and that in turn perverts our public - and yes, political - discourse. So it matters.

As the article states. Go read the rest, it's good stuff.

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P.S.: Those who think cops get a raw deal from media representations - including straight reporting - aren't truly paying attention.

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CPD Short List
"A shortlist of candidates vying to be Chicago's next top cop includes a woman who leads a suburban department and a former police chief from Texas, both of whom had officers injured or killed in mass shootings in the last few years, the Tribune has learned.

"[S]ources familiar with the applicants said the board's roster of candidates has been whittled down to a handful of names, a list that includes, among others, Sean Malinowski, a former Los Angeles police official who has worked as a top consultant for the Chicago Police Department for the past few years; Kristen Ziman, chief of police in west suburban Aurora; Ernest Cato, a deputy chief for the department; and David Brown, a former Dallas police chief."

Journalists, law enforcement folks and those who would be classified as "observers" have long seen Malinowski as the frontrunner, given his ongoing work with CPD and close relationship with interim chief Charlie Beck. That seems right to me, and frankly unless there's something I'm not getting, Ziman has zero chance of making such a huge jump (I mean, the police chief of Aurora even applying for the job seems like such a stretch, though at 200,000, Aurora's population is twice that of South Bend, and that town's mayor is running for president) and Brown sounds like just a guy.

Feb. 17 UPDATE: Aargh, I shouldn't have written that retired Dallas police chief David Brown, who is reportedly on the short list of candidates vying for the top job here, "sounds like just a guy."

I knew better and somehow spaced it out. Brown actually led the Dallas department through a series of relatively progressive reforms - which also means, given a couple of the other names on the list, that Lori Lightfoot is going to arguably get a better set of names to choose from than the one she presented to her old boss, Rahm Emanuel, when he dumped the recommendations she and her police board sent him and instead elevated Eddie Johnson, who hadn't even applied, to chief. Then again, maybe fewer good folk wanted to work for Rahm.

But Cato could be an intriguing candidate, though he'd be jumping over a bunch of others in the CPD organizational chart.

The Trib:

"Cato, 54, is a Chicago police deputy chief in charge of nine patrol districts that cover the North Side, Northwest Side and West Side. He has been viewed as a rising star in the department, in part due to his willingness to work side by side with community organizations that offer mediation on gang conflicts and help with social services and jobs.

"Cato was among more than 30 of Beck's top police officials to get new posts in CPD's reorganization, set to begin in April. Cato was assigned as deputy chief of the new Area 4, overseeing patrol officers, as well as some detective and specialized gang and drug units, in the Austin, Harrison and Ogden Districts on the West Side."

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Also, the Chicago chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness just named Cato its CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) Officer of the Year. Just landing in my inbox:

"It is our privilege to honor Deputy Chief Cato III at Light the Darkness for his enduring commitment to healing communities touched by violence and trauma with innovation, bravery, and partnership.

"In his 29 years of service to Chicago, Deputy Chief Cato III's road to impact includes working with community-based organizations, instituting ground-breaking programs, and implementing new technologies to respond to urgent mental health needs in Chicago.

"Cato currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Area North-Bureau of Patrol, overseeing nine districts and two units, and has worked in many capacities including assisting in the development of the Gang Violence Reduction Strategy, serving as a Tactical Sergeant, and working as a Homicide Detective. Deputy Chief Cato III's honors include the Superintendent Award of Merit and the Chicago Police Leadership award."

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ChicagoReddit

Can anyone tell me why Northwestern's downtown campus has a big wild flower field? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Cubs Spring Training.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Universally paid for.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:54 PM | Permalink

February 12, 2020

The [Wednesday] Papers

I had the pleasure of a looooong breakfast this morning at Lou Mitchell's for the first time in at least 10 years, with friends on a trayover (train layover), and I am pleased to report that it hasn't changed one bit. A treasure.

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"Uncle Lou's father started the Chicago family diner in 1923 specializing in breakfast, brunch, and lunch dishes. The family restaurant was later turned over to his son, Lou Mitchell," according to the tale told on the restaurant's website.

"The fun part of Lou Mitchell's magic formula was added one day in 1958 when the restaurant began offering breakfast diners donut holes."

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See also: "Why Milk Duds?"

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Our (awesome) server wore dangly Green Bay Packers earrings.

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According to a notice at the restaurant, Fargo was due to film there this afternoon - as it was at Union Station, where we saw various parts of the scenery (this season is set in 1950s Kansas City - Missouri, not Kansas).

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Oh, also, we agreed over our omelettes, waffles and grilled cheese sandwiches that America's descent into authoritarianism was completed Tuesday.

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Stanley's Rotting Fruit
"The owner of a Chicago construction firm plans to buy the former home of Stanley's Fresh Fruits & Vegetables, but there are no immediate plans for what will replace the popular produce market on the North Side," the Tribune reports.

"John Novak, the owner of Novak Construction, confirmed he has a contract to buy the property at 1558 N. Elston Ave. for more than $8 million.

"Novak said he's buying the land as a long-term investment, with plans to eventually build on it as larger developments nearby - including Sterling Bay's $6 billion Lincoln Yards mixed-use project - take shape.

"I just know it's a good piece of property, with a lot of activity in that area with Lincoln Yards and the rest," Novak said. "It's more of a long-term play. There's nothing immediate in mind."

Maybe he'll get some Lincoln Yards TIF money and build a trendy retro produce market.

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The Scheinfeld Show
"An old city hand is taking over at the Civic Consulting Alliance. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's former transportation commissioner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, will become the group's CEO and president in March," Crain's reports.

"CCA, an affiliate of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, often helps newly elected officials with transition plans and advises departments amid scandal, reorganization or big projects on a pro-bono basis. Scheinfeld replaces the organization's longtime president, Brian Fabes, who announced in September he'd leave after 15 years leading the group. Scheinfeld was picked after a national search."

That must have been some search. Previously in Rebekah Scheinfeld:

You suck so bad.

That came in this column about her testimony to the city council about red-light cameras. How well do you think it's held up?

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Smollettburo

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ChicagoReddit

How much do the conductors that take tickets on the metra make? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Subtronics at the Aragon last week.

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BeachBook

People Have Discovered That Not Everybody Has An Inner Dialogue.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Tip Your Toe In Line: Autoplay.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:54 AM | Permalink

February 11, 2020

The [Tuesday] Papers

To all those who took the #broomchallenge last night and stood their brooms up:

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Shredding Lettuce
"Despite repeated complaints about metallic odors drifting into surrounding neighborhoods, city health inspectors only cited General Iron Industries once during former Mayor Rahm Emanuel's eight years in office," the Tribune reports.

"The same city department ticketed the North Side scrap yard five times during the past two months - the latest signs that General Iron's once-formidable clout at City Hall is slipping away as Mayor Lori Lightfoot reviews policy and enforcement decisions made by her predecessor."

And that's not all.

"Previous inspections largely absolved General Iron of any wrongdoing. But during all five of the recent visits, a health inspector said she observed 'untreated emissions' escaping the company's pair of massive scrap shredders along the Chicago River near Clybourn Avenue and Cortland Street."

Meanwhile, in his new book, "Emanuel, former two-term mayor of Chicago and White House Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama, offers a firsthand account of how cities, rather than the federal government, stand at the center of innovation and effective governance."

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Back to the Trib:

"The company is fighting back. 'Not only are the city citations inconsistent with the results of the recent tests performed for the state and federal EPAs, but they came after at least two years of regular, weekly city inspections without any violations,' Randall Samborn, a General Iron spokesman, said in a statement."

Randall Samborn, the former longtime spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office here infamous for never commenting (on the record, at least), you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

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Samborn, by the way, doesn't work directly for General Iron. He's a hired mouth.

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Samborn is engaged in "strategic communications," the strategy in this case being how to absolve a polluter of endangering the health of those who live near his well-paying client.

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Of course, sometimes to communicate strategically is to not communicate at all.

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For example, Samborn didn't make himself available to answer questions - like about this:

"E-mails obtained by the Tribune highlight cordial relationships between Emanuel's lieutenants and the Labkon family that owned General Iron through four generations. The former mayor also was the top recipient of the more than $500,000 in campaign contributions to local politicians from family members, who hired a former top aide to Emanuel as one of their City Hall lobbyists.

"One previously undisclosed favor involved Emanuel's health commissioner, Julie Morita, who urged City Hall to pressure leaders of the University of Illinois at Chicago to quash the release of a pilot study of air quality near General Iron, the e-mails show. A UIC researcher had installed monitoring equipment around the scrap yard at the behest of a neighborhood resident, and the testing found elevated levels of lung-damaging particulate matter downwind from the scrap shredders.

"I will be following up with the dean of the UIC School of Public Health," Morita wrote in a May 2018 e-mail to Robert Rivkin, who served as deputy mayor under Emanuel. "You may need to engage the (UIC) chancellor if you want this to be stopped."

You may need to "engage" the chancellor of a public university that their school of public health is overly concerned with public health.

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"On their way out of City Hall, top Emanuel aides gave the scrap merchant permission to keep operating until 2022 on riverfront land that local aldermen are pushing to convert into a city park. Lightfoot ordered General Iron to abandon the North Side by the end of this year instead."

There's more; go read the rest.

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University Of Illinois Sexual Misconduct Survey
"A new University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign survey finds most students who experience sexual misconduct don't tell anyone," Illinois Newsroom reports.

"The survey was sent to 12,500 graduate and undergraduate students in spring 2019. Of the 2,076 people who responded, roughly 1 in 5 women and 4% of men said they've been sexually assaulted since coming to the U of I."

Frankly, those numbers sound low to me.

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Jose's Way
In The [Monday] Papers, I pointed y'all to reporting from the Daily Herald about new Illinois Tollway director Jose Alvarez's penchant for hiring his old CHA pals to high-paying jobs, some newly created, at the tollway.

A Capitol Fax commenter posted a link to this 2013 Washington Post article that establishes precedent:

A D.C. government agency paid a Chicago consulting firm $89,995 for one day of work at a recent city education conference, a fee that included a half-hour keynote speech, three 45-minute parent workshops and hundreds of copies of parenting books.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education hired the firm without soliciting or considering other bids, according to an agency spokeswoman. The agency sponsored the Sept. 7 conference in an effort to reach out to parents, using D.C. tax dollars to pay the Chicago firm even as many speakers that day - as well as the keynote speaker at the same conference in 2012 - volunteered.

The payment to SPC Consulting is about $12,000 more than the average D.C. Public Schools teacher earns in a year, and is more than three times the "living wage" - $26,000 per year - that Wal-Mart would have been required to pay employees under a bill that Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) vetoed this year. It's also higher than the $50,000 that former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, arguably the most widely recognized education figure in the country, charged for individual speaking appearances in 2011.

The superintendent's office is responsible for citywide education policies, and the agency funnels federal and local funds to city schools. The agency selected SPC Consulting based on a recommendation by Chief of Staff Jose Alvarez, a top agency official who has played a leadership role during months of turnover, and who knew the firm and its founder from a previous job in Chicago.

Emphasis mine, for those who wanted to jump right to the payoff.

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Bonus:

"SPC Consulting is headed by Sunny P. Chico, a former U.S. Education Department official who contracts with school systems. She is married to lobbyist Gery Chico, who ran for Chicago mayor in 2011 and serves as chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education."

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Kris Bryant's Future Bar Trick
The Cubs have met the enemy - and it is them.

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ChicagoReddit

The good: Rage Against The Machine at the United Center on 5/19/20. The bad: Chicago is the only US stop where Run the Jewels will NOT be opening. What the hell? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Death Tour at Reggies last week.

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BeachBook

The Supreme Court Is As Complicit As The Senate.


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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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These people will never learn. The MSM doesn't budget. Their minds are closed. Same true locally.

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The Beachwood Tips Over Line: A clean sweep.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:33 PM | Permalink

February 10, 2020

Kris Bryant's Future Bar Trick

The Beloved Chicago Cubs and their Beloved Fans should worry that Kris Bryant one day might be the second coming of Draymond Green.

Or even worse - cripes! - Lou Brock.

Cubs management has sent every verifiable signal that they collectively want to trade their young superstar as fast as possible because, you know, he'll want to be paid in 2021 what he's worth in the current market, and the Ricketts family is almost broke. Down to its last two or three billion.

A point of order. When baseball owners complain about the strangling effect of flush salaries for players, remember they are the ones who set the market. They even created the system when beer baron and St. Louie Cards owner Augie Busch publicly taunted centerfielder Curt Flood into suing for free agency escape. Millions now are spent over what essentially was a $10,000 raise that Busch would not pay.

As with ancient, cliched and largely forgotten cartoon philosopher Pogo, we have met the enemy and he is us.

There is little sophisticated or clever in the Cubs' emotional dismissal of Bryant. They are saying that Bryant is worth less to them than what they always implied, which makes him less valuable on the market every day.

"Everything is on the table," the Cubs now say about Bryant, though probably "everything" does not mean dealing a 1 percent slice of concession income or a pair of player development scouts to be named later. This is a meat market sale, and Bryant is the meat.

And Green's relevance?

He offers a cautionary reflection.

If Green is presented with a bar bet challenge, he can name in order of their selection each of the 33 players picked ahead of him in the 2012 NBA draft when Golden State plucked him out of Michigan State.

Seen him do it.

He does this parlor trick litany to remind each of the 33 - mostly busts but none as good for as long as Green has been - that, in essence . . . I see all of you. And I know all those teams who shunned me, too. I am coming for you.

It's a large, juicy, smelly chip on his shoulder that inspires him to play hard defensively every night. That ferocity is his business. The number crunchers at 538 have created a defense-value algorithm that enumerates Green as the best defensive player of his era.

He's coiled and hostile. He plays angry.

His defense forces the teams who passed on him to pay every night for that flawed judgement.

There is nothing as satisfying as succeeding and simultaneously causing psychic pain to those who shunned you. Schadenfreude is an unappreciated delicacy. The Cubs are shunning Bryant, almost publicly. Be warned. Be careful.

And Brock?

He never made much stink about his attitude that the Cubs traded him. Cubs management was stupendously dumb in the 1960s, and could never decide how they wanted Brock to play.

But Brock sits in the Hall of Fame because he stole 938 bases, piled up 3,023 hits, and batted .391 in 21 World Series games.

He also batted .333 against the Cubs over 16 seasons, which means statistically he was on base against the Cubs as a lethal base stealer more often than against any other team in the National League. Brock hit .290 against everyone else.

So, Brock inferentially is a Hall of Famer because the Cubs traded him, and even more likely because he got to play the Cubs 200 times.

Even if Brock was not angry in his retribution, he was consistent. That memory still torments the Cubs soul, even if it was not intentionally directed as punishment.

The unresolved question is whether Bryant is fundamentally indifferent to which team pays him $300 million for the next 12 years, or has some amorphous but actual devotion to the Cubs.

The 1960s are not the 2020s, and attitudes have shifted tectonically.

But the hometown-loves-you-gruel served by the Cubs for years does not seem as binding now. Plus, the team has a harder time selling the we-love-Bryant meme after essentially costing him $30 million in unrecoverable free agent cash by manipulating his service time in the Big Show.

The Cubs had every legal right to weasel Bryant out of that payday. So they did. They paid themselves first with his money based on his value as property.

But that's not what devoted family members do to each other. How much would $30 million motivate you?

Bryant's reaction might amount to modern-pro-athlete-business-as-usual, or he might become Draymond Green or Lou Brock with a bat in his hand.

The Cubs' chieftains have had every chance to say they do not want to trade Bryant, and have passed on those opportunities.

Thus, when the Cubs trade Bryant for other young prospects who might or might not ever be as good as he is, there are rules.

To defend any trade, the Cubs need proof that what they got in return was better than Bryant. Tough call on that, and baseball history is littered with the carcasses of bad deals fueled by credulous stupidity. The Cubs have been both the victim and beneficiary of recent trade nincompoopery - on the plus side, Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta, for example.

If they properly intuit the risk, the Cubs would be wise to trade Bryant out of the National League as St. Louis did with Albert Pujols, because Bryant will use every at-bat in Wrigley Field to batter the Cubs and make them eternally sorry. Bryant has 138 homers in five seasons, 78 of them at Wrigley.

It's nothing personal, you understand. Just business.

He'll slug the Cubs even if he isn't angry. He'll do it because he's built physically and mentally to torture mediocre pitching at Wrigley Field.

Cubs fans and their media water carriers have spent 40 years pretending that trading Brock was not the mistake that clearly would haunt rational thinkers.

Bryant does not react publicly as though he knows the Cubs are only playing a perception game, and he is safe in Chicago.

Rather the Cubs are dangling Bryant for public display, which is not lucid bargaining strategy unless you merely want to see how fans will react.

Cubs VP Theo Epstein might cynically decry idle trade rumors in public, but the rumors start with him, and would end if he wished them to.

He has all but put Bryant up for auction, and asked for bids.

And Green? He shows that pro athletes who make millions off their skill have often brittle emotional self-images. They take disrespect hard, and though the "I Get No Respect" meme is overused, the concept reflects human motivation.

Even pro athletes are real people with vulnerabilities we'd all recognize from our own lives.

The boss who smirks at you and your dreams, while chumming with a kiss-up and largely worthless colleague.

The spouse who laughs at your personal, hurtful embarrassments, rather than taking your side.

In essence, the at-best indifferent world that treats you badly, and acts as though you deserve to be insulted.

Everybody hates to be disrespected, even young superstars who make $18 million a year.

That's why Cubs fans should be thinking how odd and cool the world has turned since winning the World Series, and how little loyalty arose from that event. Everybody is just meat for sale.

They also should hope Bryant has a short, forgiving memory. Or alternatively and less likely, that he was never as gifted as he seemed.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"The tally of former Chicago Housing Authority employees in positions paying $85,000 to $195,000 at the Illinois tollway is growing, and that concerns some lawmakers given the top tollway executive also is a CHA alumnus," the Daily Herald reports.

"Tollway leaders dismissed questions of nepotism when asked about nine ex-CHA staffers who were hired from August through December and are paid more than $1.3 million collectively, state records show. Executive Director Jose Alvarez, the former CHA chief operating officer, joined the tollway in April.

"Taken together, all nine of these employees have decades of experience at a number of different organizations in human resources, talent recruitment, procurement and compliance," tollway spokesman Dan Rozek said.

Dan Rozek is a former Sun-Times reporter, so that makes him Today's Worst Person In Illinois, edging out his boss, Jose Alvarez.

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Rozek's Twitter bio says "Former Chicago Sun-Times reporter, still working in communications."

'Still working in communications' is like saying "I used to work as a scientist to prevent disease, now I work to spread it, so still working in medicine."

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As for Alvarez, the Daily Herald reported this in December:

"While all of these hires may be well-qualified, you wonder what kind of search they did to end up with all from the same place," said former Democratic state Sen. Bill Morris of Grayslake, a tollway director from 2009 to 2011.

The answer is - none. Alvarez said he hand-picked colleagues with a proven track record. In fact, the team is overqualified, he contended.

Overqualified yet somehow persuaded to take the jobs.

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"I've got the most highly qualified and capable people for the job that are committed to our mission," Alvarez told the Daily Herald.

But how does he know that if he didn't do a search?

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"He said his team is not political, and given that most drive every day from Chicago to the Downers Grove tollway headquarters, they're not doing it for their convenience."

No, they're doing it for the money! And the comfort of working for a pal.

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At least three of the positions filled with Alvarez chums, but the way, were newly created.

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White Pot Meets White Kettle
"Colleges around the country wrapped up their football signing classes last week, proudly touting scores of African American athletes as the next big stars," the AP's Paul Newberry writes, in a column picked up the Tribune.

It's a whole different situation on the sideline.

Segregation still rules the coaching ranks. And not just the top guys.

A review of the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision schools found shockingly low numbers, with black coaches still largely shut out of head coaching positions and, to an even greater degree, the prime coordinator spots.

While the NFL has come under fire for its lack of minority coaches, the situation appears more dire at the college level.

The column is headlined "Shame On College Football For Lack Of Black Coaches."

My first thought, as it usually is in some form upon seeing these pieces, was "Shame On AP And The Tribune For Lack Of Black Editors."

It's not that media organizations shouldn't report on problems elsewhere even if they have the same problems. It's that they should solve the problems in-house that they cast shame on when occurring in other institutions. It would give them more credibility and moral authority to do so. At the least, disclose how your own organization is doing with the subject at hand. Otherwise it's just hypocritical.

To wit:

-> Pew: Newsroom Employees Are Less Diverse Than U.S. Workers Overall

-> Columbia Journalism Review: Decades Of Failure.

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So when Newberry concludes his column with, "College football, have you no shame?" I want to ask the same question of his employer and the papers who published the piece.

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By the way, 87% of newsroom leaders at the Tribune are white.

The figure was 92% for the Sun-Times.

(Those are 2018 numbers.)

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As for 2019 numbers:

"The data collected between May and August from 429 newspaper and online-only newsrooms comes on the heels of dismal participation in last year's survey, which some respondents said was too time-consuming. This year, 1,883 news organizations were contacted for inclusion, resulting in a 23% response rate, vs. last year's 17% response rate," the Poynter Institute noted last September.

Just too time-consuming.

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P.S.: An NFL franchise is set to make history by hiring the league's first full-time African-American female assistant coach. Unfortunately, that franchise is named the Redskins.

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Gerald Ford Explorer
"Ford Motor Co.'s profit last year plunged by more than $3.6 billion, weighed down by the cost of a botched SUV launch, slowing U.S. sales and some big pension expenses," AP reports.

"CEO Jim Hackett said on a conference call with analysts that the company fell short of expectations for the year, and he blamed the drop primarily on the flubbed launch of the new Ford Explorer SUV at its factory in Chicago."

I've been gathering stories about this for months, but I guess I never got around to making an item of it, which isn't unusual given the absurd volume of coverage I collect across a wide swath of subject matter. But the bottom line is that the Chicago Ford plant done fucked up good.

"New Explorers came off the assembly line with multiple problems and had to be shipped to a Detroit-area factory for repairs, delaying deliveries to customers."

Our stuff had to be sent to Detroit to be fixed, people.

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Gaming Gamble
"Last year marked an unlucky No. 7 for Illinois' casino industry as the state prepares to deal out a hand of new gambling meccas," the Sun-Times reports.

"Total revenue from the state's 10 existing casinos - and the tax dollars they generate - dropped for a seventh straight year in 2019, according to a report issued Thursday by the state Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

"It's the bipartisan commission's latest rundown of the state's casino downturn, raising questions about the viability of a key facet of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's massive gaming expansion signed into law last year: up to six new casinos that are poised to join Illinois' crowded gambling market."

Yikes, it doesn't sound like expanding gambling is a good idea at all.

On the other hand, it's hard to imagine that slots at O'Hare (we're getting that, right?), a downtown Chicago casino (put it downtown, mayor) and sports betting all over the place won't be "successful" (I put in quotes because I'm not fond of the idea generating tax revenue this way, both because of its regressive nature and the generous house advantage that makes suckers of us all). In other words, there are new kinds of gambling coming online whose performance can't necessarily be predicted by current trends.

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Anyway:

"But despite overall casino losses, gamblers are playing - and losing - more than ever in Illinois thanks to the still-burgeoning video gambling industry.

"The report found that an all-time high and steadily increasing number of video gambling machines continue to take gamblers' cash and line state coffers. The 33,000-plus slots that sprouted up in nearly 7,200 establishments generated almost $1.7 billion in revenue and $503 million in taxes last year."

Yes, but it's a nasty, barely regulated business we should and will regret expanding.

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Chicago Seinfeld

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Recall! Family Traditions Meat Sticks
Delivered to retailers in Illinois and several other Midwestern states.

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ChicagoReddit

Are rear wheel drive cars + winter tires ok? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Artist Rahmaan Statik Exhibits At The Art Gallery In Chinatown.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Tippecanoe Line: Tip City.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

February 8, 2020

Recall! Family Traditions Meat Sticks

Family Traditions Meat Company, an Ackley, Iowa establishment, is recalling approximately 270 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) beef stick products due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Saturday. The product contains milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label.

The fully cooked, ready-to-eat beef stick items were produced on Nov. 14, 2019, Dec. 3, 2019 and Jan. 6, 2020 and have a shelf life of six months. The following product is subject to recall:

3-oz. and 6-oz. vacuum-packed packages containing "Arcadia MEATS SMOKED BEEF STICKS ORIGINAL" with lot numbers 31819, 33719 and 00620.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 46538" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The problem was discovered by a compliance officer with the Iowa Department of Agriculture during in-commerce surveillance activities at a retail store.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' refrigerators or freezers or both. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify that recalling firms are notifying their customers of the recall and that actions are being taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers and members of the media with questions about the recall can contact Jolene Heikens, Vice President of Sales with Family Traditions Meat Company, or Ashley Morton, Hazard Coordinator with Family Traditions Meat Company, at (641) 847-8116.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via e-mail to MPHotline@usda.gov.

For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:18 PM | Permalink

February 7, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #290: Jane Byrne, Kris Bryant, Mookie Betts & Baseball's Discontents

Why men great then they gotta be traded? Plus: Chief Chiefs; The Bulls' Neverending Implosions; Like Chicago Police, Blackhawks Accruing Too Much OT; Lincoln Park Lyins; Illinois Hoops Roundup; and Olympic Surf's Up.


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SHOW NOTES

* 290.

* Eisenhower Edition, featuring all the major local interstates as well as the Jane Byrne Interchange, which has its own website.

3:18: Chief Chiefs.

* Pat Maholycow.

* Jimmy Garoppolater.

* Andy Reidmylips.

* As Jay Cutler Turns.

* Business Insider: Patrick Mahomes Is The King Of NFL Comebacks.

* But also . . .

* Correcting: Mitchell, not Stephen:

* Lane Tech's Laken Tomlinson, who grew up in Rogers Park.

* The Honiest Badger.

13:34: Betts, Bryant And Baseball's Bullshit.

* If you can't "afford" to pay your (best) employees, get out of the business!

* Coffman: "It's grim."

* Rhodes: "It's called a 'luxury tax' because they have luxurious bank accounts."

* No Arenado.

* Rhodes: Why men great 'til they gotta be great? 'Cause they'll get traded!

22:58: The Bulls' Neverending Implosion.

* Permanent meltdown is the new normal.

* New low is the status quo.

* Morrissey: Boylen Taking Uncool To New Levels.

29:48: Like Chicago Police, Blackhawks Accruing Too Much OT.

35:25: Lincoln Park Lyins.

* Coffman: "Don't believe the hype."

* Tribune: Lincoln Park High School Scandal Has Sparked 5 Investigations And Top Leaders' Removal. Here's How It Unfolded.

* Joyce Kenner's pool.

44:20: Illinois Hoops Roundup!

* Ryan, Tribune: Illini, SIU, NIU Trending Up.

* Greenstein, Tribune: Is Chris Collins On The Hot Seat? Should He Be?

* Northern Star: Eugene German Becomes NIU's All-Time Leading Scorer.

54:48: Surf's Up At Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

* "It would definitely be rad to medal."

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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 12:42 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

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For example . . .

-> It now looks like this one is claimed. But I can put you on the "just in case" list if my buyer reverses course before picking it up this weekend.

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This has also drawn a lot of interest - but is still available as of 3 p.m. Friday.

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More items - including a Sunbeam mini-fridge, a couple interesting chairs, a vintage Daytron microwave of the future - at my Facebook page. The mini-Greek column is claimed. I'll be adding more items over the weekend.

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You can contact me there or via e-mail here.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #290: Jane Byrne, Kris Bryant, Mookie Betts & Baseball's Discontents
Why men great then they gotta be traded? Plus: Chief Chiefs; The Bulls' Neverending Implosions; Like Chicago Police, Blackhawks Accruing Too Much OT; Lincoln Park Lyins; Illinois Hoops Roundup; and Olympic Surf's Up.

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ChicagoReddit

I was wondering, what if we watered the bean? [Cloud Gate, Digital Art] from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Logan Square" / Jack Teagarden

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Truth Line: Knowable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

February 6, 2020

The Sinister Realities Of Google's Tear-Jerking Super Bowl Commercial

After Google's "Loretta" Super Bowl commercial aired, my friend grabbed his phone and started texting his parents, both of whom are in their late 70s.

"This is so perfect for them," he said excitedly, undoubtedly imagining a future in which his parents can ask Google about personal details they've forgotten."What's my sister's favorite food?" his dad might ask while grocery shopping. "When's my youngest son's birthday?" his mom might ask, without having to worry about anyone's reaction to the fact that she forgot it.

Losing the ability to remember memories and details about people you love is a special form of hell. That's why it's hard to oppose anything that genuinely brings comfort to people with dementia. As a society, we outsourced our memories and our knowledge to Google a long time ago. Why remember something when we can look it up online? But the commercial disturbed me because while we've already given Google access to our dearest memories, there's something scary and dehumanizing about letting Google dictate what happens with them.

It's possible that Google's technology could help some people cope with memory loss and with the surrounding grief - everyone's different - but Sunday night's commercial proposes an intervention that goes beyond helping. If it came to fruition, tech companies may end up dictating how we manage difficult personal moments, raising the idea of a future in which disembodied voices and algorithms supply us with de-contextualized bits of information about who we were, who we love, and who we are.

It's also unclear exactly how well this would even work. The idea that someone can provide a list of particular facts and memories for Google to remember seems useful. In the commercial, the man tells Google that Loretta liked scallops and that she had great handwriting. But does the software show photos or repeat memories without having specifically been asked? What if someone asks Google to remember a series of memories, but then never remembers to ask about them? Would Google prompt the recollections itself? Without a person's intent or agency, does the software curate a slideshow or information dump based on Google's secret proprietary algorithms? That seems meaningless at best and damaging at worst.

Remember that Loretta liked scallops, that she had great handwriting. As nice as those facts might be, they're extracted from the stories and contexts in which they matter. Instead of remembering that Loretta liked scallops, how about remembering and then hearing the story of how she once tried fishing for scallops or a romantic dinner at an Alaskan restaurant with the best scallops she'd ever tasted? People aren't comprised simply of what they like or what they've done, and by extracting and presenting these pieces discretely, Google offers a fragmented facsimile of a memory.

In Plato's Phaedrus, Socrates explains his criticisms of writing. One of them is that "Writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence."

Photos, like paintings, are two-dimensional representations of real people and places. But putting a physical photo album into someone's hands, as opposed to images on a screen, puts memories into visual and tactile context. One can see the other photos on the page and on the page after that. Maybe there's information written on the back of them - one can pull them out and turn them over. One can see whether they're Polaroids or have round corners, or whether they're yellowing with age. Those sensory details offer more than an algorithm ever could.

The inclusion of both context and sensory details is important for reminiscence therapy, a recommended treatment for people with dementia. Reminiscence therapy consists of patients talking to other people about their lives and experiences and supplementing those memories with tangible aids, such as photos, memorabilia, or songs. During either group or individual sessions, caregivers or family members prompt a chronological walk down memory lane. Reminiscence therapy has been shown to improve patients' cognition, mood, and general functioning and to decrease stress on caregivers. This treatment leverages sensory details and contextualizes memories and experience with props and people who know the patients. Those are two advantages Google can't offer.

It's impossible to think about Google without worrying about privacy, especially with digital assistant devices. Considering that users share a lifetime of personal details and photos, one should wonder what happens to all of that information. It's hard to regard Google's supposed interest in helping older people as anything other than dubious, especially given that Google Assistant's privacy violations were serious enough for the EU to force Google to stop transcribing voice recordings. The intended market for these amplifies privacy concerns, as older adults are particularly vulnerable to online fraud, scams, and data breaches.

As with robots that help the elderly stave off loneliness, technology is often better than nothing. But the problem with Google's "Loretta" commercial is that it suggests technology can replace a carefully assembled photo album or an afternoon reminiscing with family. People are not a series of facts or images. No matter how much big tech insists otherwise, our memories are not commodities. Neither are we.

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See also:
* Komando: How To Use Google Like The Commercial Did.

* Naked Security: Google's Super Bowl Ad Will Make You Cry. Or Wince.

* PureWow: Google's Super Bowl 'Loretta' Ad Reveals How Tech's Changed The Way We Grieve.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:55 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Chicago-based Turtle Wax continues to make its hometown shine at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show," the company says in a press release.

"As the exclusive car care sponsor of the 2020 Chicago Auto Show, held Feb. 8-17 at McCormick Place, Turtle Wax will keep the nearly 1,000 vehicles on display shining their best and spotlight its latest innovation, Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions, with product demonstrations as well special events in its engaging exhibit all show long."

I only bring you this scintillating news because it reminded me of the first joke I kind of purposely wrote, rather than just said in the moment. I was in high school, and me and a friend did a comedy open mic. The joke was this:

"I'm against the annual slaughter of turtles just for their wax."

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P.S.: Until today, I did not know Turtle Wax was based in Chicago. According to their website, the company originated in the 1930s when "Ben Hirsch invent[ed] liquid auto polish in the family bathtub." (Wikipedia pegs this event as 1941 - and notes that Turtle Wax isn't actually based in Chicago but in Addison. Yay, Wikipedia, you rule! Despite what the legacy media folks who don't understand it keep saying.)

The ensuing product was originally called Plastone. It was renamed Turtle Wax in 1946 because of its "hard shell finish." I did not know that!

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Also, according to Wikipedia: "Turtle Wax is the largest automotive appearance products company in the world and distributes its products in more than 90 countries."

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And, check out this vintage Turtle Wax commercial, via their website but also on YouTube:

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But, just on Sunday: Suit Blames Area Refineries And Turtle Wax For 24-Year-Old Wood River Man's Cancer.

There's always the reality behind the products we love.

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Reader Pete Anderson adds:

"Here's another Turtle Wax tidbit for you: their former HQ at Madison, Ashland and Ogden. With giant turtle!"

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Lombard Contractor Kidnapping
"An American contractor was captured by Taliban-aligned militants in Afghanistan last week, triggering a country-wide recovery effort, Newsweek has learned.

"Mark R. Frerichs of Lombard, Illinois, was kidnapped last Friday in Khost, a province located in the southeastern part of the country that borders the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, an underdeveloped region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. officials told Newsweek, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the details publicly.

"Frerichs, 57, is a former U.S. Navy diver and the managing director for International Logistical Support, a U.S. government contractor. According to his LinkedIn account, he has worked as a civil engineer in several conflict zones from Iraq to Sudan during the past 10 years, where he has consulted on logistical contracts for both governments and non-governmental organizations. U.S. officials told Newsweek Frerichs had regularly traveled to Afghanistan since 2012."

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Via Shia Kapos's Politico Illinois Playbook: "Frerichs is not related to state Treasurer Mike Frerichs."

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Income Store Runs Out Of Main Product
"An Illinois man was indicted on a federal fraud charge for operating what authorities are calling a Ponzi scheme that raised $75 million," the Sun-Times reports.

"A criminal complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court accused Kenneth D. Courtright of committing wire fraud through his Monooka-based company, Today's Growth Consultant Inc., which also operated under a division named 'The Income Store.'"

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Entrepreneur magazine in 2016: Infusionsoft, Salesforce, Brendon Burchard And Ken Courtright Have All Proved That Money Follows Mission.

Ken Courtright is, without doubt, one of the top digital content curators and online traffic-cops on the planet. With 700 of the world's top revenue-generating websites under his guidance at IncomeStore, Courtright partners with entrepreneurs and hedge funds to turn their flat-lining websites into digital cities that kick-off massive amounts of advertising revenue . . .

Years ago, Courtright started studying online traffic generation / direction. He also started analyzing how the content, if created properly, could lead to massive increases in the amount of people who went to his website. Then he installed a Google Adsense account, and Google started paying him thousands. He realized that he has created a very specific, in-demand expertise, and he became overwhelmed with a desire to teach others how to do it.

That was his secret sauce? I'll take the ketchup and mayonaisse at Bronco Burger, thank you!

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See also this Reddit thread, which started five months ago:

Income Store from r/investing

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Ink Stink
"For four years, Black Ink Crew: Chicago has followed the personal and professional lives of the employees of the 9Mag tattoo shop in Pilsen," Tracy Swartz reports for the Tribune.

"The new season of the VH1 show recently introduced a new tattoo shop with its own drama. Former 9Mag worker Charmaine Walker said she opened 2nd City Ink in October because she 'was tired of asking for a seat at the table, and I decided to build my own.'

"But while 2nd City Ink has been heavily featured on Black Ink Crew: Chicago since Season 6 premiered Dec. 4, questions have been raised about the legitimacy of the North Side tattoo shop."

You're gonna want to click through for the details, but for now I'll just fast-forward to the meat:

"There were no signs for 2nd City Ink on the outside of the building when the Tribune visited. The appointment-only shop has more than 69,000 Instagram followers, but there's no website. More importantly, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health said there's no record of the shop's registration with the department, as required by state law."

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Amazon Warehouses Are Hellholes

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Trump's Twisted Christian Nationalism
"It would be a grave mistake to minimize the president's words as cheap talking points written for him on a teleprompter. Trump declared his allegiance to an agenda embraced by religious authoritarians and advanced by pressure groups who don't disclose their finances but very much do have the attention and support of the president."

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ChicagoReddit

Chicago's Art Institute Adds Free Days For Illinois Residents Through March 4 from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

some VERY sick bookmarks 📚

A post shared by Quimbys Bookstore (@quimbysbookstore) on

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Inline Hockey Thursday League.

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BeachBook

Surprise For New Yorkers: No More Broker Fees.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Sound off.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:37 AM | Permalink

February 5, 2020

Trump's Twisted Christian Nationalism

In Tuesday night's State of the Union address, President Donald Trump crowed that, "In America, we celebrate faith. We cherish religion. We lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the Glory of God!"

This rhetoric goes far beyond the usual exaltations of faith that are commonplace in political oratory. It is nothing less than a Christian-nationalist declaration of war against our secular constitutional democracy.

It would be a grave mistake to minimize the president's words as cheap talking points written for him on a teleprompter. Trump declared his allegiance to an agenda embraced by religious authoritarians and advanced by pressure groups who don't disclose their finances but very much do have the attention and support of the president.

Right now, at the urging of these secretive groups, nine different government agencies are eliminating vital protections against religious proselytizing and discrimination in federal programs designed to serve the fundamental needs of the most vulnerable in society, providing shelter, food, family, health care, and livelihood.

Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr recently declared that "secularists" - that is, Americans who value our Constitution's separation of church from state - lack the morality to be worthy citizens. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who holds exclusive conferences with administration-friendly "faith-based" media outlets, bases American foreign policy on his eagerness for an apocalyptic holy war.

The United States is not and will never be a country of, by, or for any church, faith, or denomination. A dogmatic movement with such a dark and twisted vision can't be allowed to wield power over the rest of us. The Center for Inquiry stands against this theocratic fever dream, and we'll continue to oppose it in every way we can.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

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See also:
* America: Whose Nation? Which Communities? The Fault Lines Of The New Christian Nationalism.

* Washington Monthly: Why Christian Nationalism Is A Threat To Democracy.

* Vox: Trump's 'Court Evangelicals' And The Long History Of Christian Nationalism.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

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I know some folks will find it irresistible to lead with Nancy Pelosi tearing up her copy of the speech - though mostly news organizations led with some form of Donald Trump "making the case" for his re-election - but the proper context is that Pelosi was so disgusted by what she had just heard that she ripped up her copy of the speech. So:

"Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was so disgusted with a State of the Union address objectively filled with an unprecedented number of lies, according to our fact-checks and the fact-checks of several other news organizations, that she tore up her copy of the speech after it concluded and she rose to leave her post behind the president."

Or, you could just lead with the lies and then state that Pelosi was so disgusted that she ripped up her copy of the speech.

Now, that might seem partisan, but when your own reporting shows that the speech was indeed filled with lies, well, then you can state with authority that one actor in the drama was correct in her assessment.

Or at least lead with the lies. Because this isn't a soap opera. Democracy is dying right in front of us. Be clear about it.

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Pretend you are reporting in 1930s Germany. Because you are.

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You'd think the media would consider this Job 1. Nope.

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Was he confronted about a single lie - of the 16,000 or so tallied during his administration? Nope.

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State Of Lightfoot
Lori Lightfoot attended the State of the Union address last night as a guest of U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly.

I thought this was odd given that a few Democratic members of Congress boycotted the event, just as Lightfoot boycotted Trump's speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors a couple weeks ago. She attended impeachment proceedings instead, which is a good trade but she is the chair of the conference's criminal and social justice committee.

I'm not saying her choices were wrong, but I am saying they are . . . interesting? Perhaps inconsistent? Or maybe she just wanted to be there to support her friend, Kelly. It just all feels a bit seat of the pants.

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Amnesty Illinois
"Illinois tax scofflaws paid the state more than $237 million in back taxes during a six-week amnesty period last fall, the Department of Revenue said Tuesday," the Tribune reports.

"The influx of revenue from more than 63,000 delinquent taxpayers exceeded the $175 million Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration was expecting to help fund the state's $40 billion budget."

Psst: I was one of the "scofflaws."

It turned out I owed a few hundred dollars to the state from a couple tax periods a couple years ago. I had no idea. The confusion on my part stemmed from the fact that at the federal level, all of my business taxes flow to my personal taxes so, like all S. Corps, I don't have to pay tax twice on the same income. The state doesn't quite operate that way, and I'm still a bit baffled by it, but apparently for two consecutive years I only paid my personal taxes but not my business taxes? At least that's what the state said. They had never spoken up before now, but my records indicated they were right, so thanks for the amnesty, friends!

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"The Department of Revenue is still reviewing some payments received during the grace period, which ran Oct. 1 through Nov. 15, so the final tally could be higher.

"Taxpayers who had outstanding liabilities dating from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2018, could avoid paying penalties and interest if they paid up in full during the amnesty period.

"More than 90% of the payments received were related to unpaid individual and business income taxes and sales tax, according to the Department of Revenue."

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Better Bankrupt Housing
"A housing non-profit accused of mismanaging a large portfolio of Chicago apartment buildings is selling 13 South Side properties in bankruptcy court, but its debt woes are far from over," Crain's reports.

"An affiliate of the Better Housing Foundation that owns the South Side buildings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late January after defaulting on about $13.6 million in bonds secured by the properties. The venture has signed an agreement to sell the buildings, which total 281 units, to Pangea Properties, a Chicago-based landlord that owns thousands of apartments in the city, said Better Housing Foundation President Andrew Belew."

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Maybe he was counting on a big hit, like his cousin Adrian.

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I don't know if Adrian Belew is Andrew Belew's cousin - but I don't not know either! And if I bothered to check, I almost certainly wouldn't have been able to show you that video.

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Back to Crain's:

"The sale would represent a key step in Belew's efforts to clean up a big mess at the non-profit, which has racked up thousands of building-code violations and defaulted on another $156 million in debt as well. Its financial troubles could lead to more bankruptcy filings.

"The Better Housing Foundation, previously based in Ohio, moved aggressively into the Chicago area about four years ago, pitching government officials on its mission of providing affordable housing and important services, such as job placement, to low-income residents. The charity received tax breaks on its properties and financed its buyout binge with nearly $170 million in bonds issued through the Illinois Finance Authority."

Good job, everyone.

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Chinese vs. Amish

Coronavirus hospital:

vs.

Amish barn-raising:

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Note: I know the new coronavirus is no joke, and I suppose building a (presumably functioning) hospital in 10 days is something that can only be accomplished under an authoritarian government, but still.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Olympic Surf's Up
"It would definitely be rad to medal."

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ChicagoReddit

I'm thinking about hosting an unclassy affair with no dress code, which would surely result in far more interesting people. Who's with me?

Valentine's Day Party Feb 15 - Singles Only! from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Goin' to Chicago" / Buck Clayton

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BeachBook

The Money Behind Trump's Money.

New details on the fact that Donald Trump was considered so untrustworthy and deceitful that no bank in America would lend to him. Also: Chicago's Trump tower is the main property in this excerpt from a forthcoming book.

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How Meth Conquered A County.

I don't remember why I clicked on this, because I feel like I've read enough of these type of accounts, but I'm glad I did because it's pretty fascinating, in a dark and awful way.

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No City Hates Its Landlords Like Berlin Does.

I get the headline, and it's not entirely wrong, but this article is so much more than it might reflect. For example, one might say no city hates gentrification like Berlin does - and for good reason.

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Thank God Kristin Hersh Still Gives A Shit.

I have a Kristin Hersh CD (Hips and Makers) that I never listen to, but this piece makes me wanna go back and explore her whole catalog.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Road to ruin.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2020

Surfing To Debut As Olympic Sport In Tokyo

"Members of the USA Olympic Surfing Event are training in California to compete in the upcoming Summer Games in Tokyo where surfing will make its Olympic debut."

Says one: "It would definitely be rad to medal."

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References:

* Jim Kempton.

* California Surf Museum.

* Chiba.

* Caroline Marks.

* Kolohe Andino.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:01 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

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Pot Pot
"Customers spent $39.2 million on recreational marijuana during the first month of legal weed sales in Illinois, and operators say they don't expect sales to slow down any time soon," the Tribune reports.

"Sales to Illinois residents totaled more than $30.6 million, according to numbers from the state. Out-of-state residents spent more than $8.6 million. Tax revenues have not been released."

As expected, though . . .

"Marijuana shops are still contending with statewide product shortages that keep many customers from buying what they want the most: Flower, the popular dried marijuana buds that can be smoked.

"The product shortage, which is expected to last months, shut down recreational sales at some dispensaries in early January. Buying limits remain in place at many shops, and others have limited recreational sales to two or three days a week."

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Our very own J.J. Tindall weighs in, under the e-mail heading "One Month Into It:"

Short version: to me, "pot" is a SMOKE-ABLE LEAF. Period. Now, it's called "Flower," and they're OUT OF IT, and have been most of the month. They're even out of many of the USELESS to long-time users "alternatives." I swear to God it's like this:

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Joyce Kenner's Pool
"Police reports in the case newly obtained by the Tribune provide further details about the alleged scheme, including that school officials told authorities they'd agreed to allow [Andrew] Parro's private team to use the school pool for about $1,500 a year," the paper reports.

A school administrator told police he "did not consider the hourly rate" of the rental agreement and was "surprised to learn" it was about $1.25, according to the report. Parro had not only allegedly stopped paying those bills after the first year, but had begun renting out the pool for $75 an hour without turning those fees over to the school, a police report states. A real estate attorney for Chicago Public Schools later told police that even the sublease rate Parro was allegedly charging was "far below the market value," according to a police report.

The administrator "related he did not consider any oversight was needed on his part to ensure Parro had made his payments or that he had followed the terms of the contract," states the police reports, which add "he expected the (Board of Education) would follow up on the payments."

Here's the part that really got me:

"Kenner told the Tribune via e-mail in early January that she 'had no knowledge' of Parro allegedly 'renting out the pool to a third party' and 'would never have approved this type of transaction.'

"Kenner added: 'Should I have known yes as the principal of the school. Did I know absolutely not.'

"Kenner did not respond to a request for further comment Thursday."

So Kenner has yet to answer a single question from a reporter - at least a Tribune reporter.

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For background and more on the multi-Today's Worst Person In Chicago winner, see the item That's Joyce!

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That's Danny!
"Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill, on Sunday endorsed Joe Biden for president, framing the establishment Democrat as the candidate most likely to oust President Donald Trump in November's general election," the Sun-Times reports.

"Flanked by fellow Democrats, including Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin and Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), Davis said voters are backing Biden 'because they know him,' adding that he actively polled constituents ahead of his endorsement."

Okay, but how does that explain his initial endorsement of Kamala Harris?

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FYI, Davis endorsed Toni Preckwinkle for mayor. If you want a reminder of what a bad campaign Preckwinkle ran, re-read this Sun-Times article that includes Davis's endorsement. My god, on several levels.

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ChicagoReddit

Anyone else have debt collectors after them from Chicago Tribune? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Celia Rose with Wesli Band at the Old Town last month.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

Awaiting the first of what I'm sure will be many John Kass columns about this.

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Apparently who is in charge matters.

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Winner.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Always leave a paper trail.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:36 AM | Permalink

February 3, 2020

SportsMonday: Props And Queso

Generally I am not a fan of watching sports in the middle of a big loud group. Unless of course I am at the game. If the contest involves one of Chicago's teams, I generally won't do it. You simply can't see and/or hear what is going on nearly as well when there is a lot of chatter in the room and friends and distractions from what's going on at any given time.

But when it comes to the Super Bowl, I do it every year. Some very good friends throw a party and it just can't be missed.

So I can't tell you which were the best and worst commercials, although that hummus thing looked grim. Usually you can't hear the sound unless you are right up near the TV at my friends' house. And we still have a few kids in the group and you really can't plop yourself down in front of them.

And I can't weigh in on the quality of the broadcast because I couldn't hear most of it either. I was generally able to follow the game but I am definitely not your guy regarding whose clever strategies paid off in which areas of the game.

I can say that my friend's young daughter won the squares three times. Unbelievable. Fortunately the stakes are low so no one is demanding an investigation.

And we have a competition where many of us fill out our picks on a sheet featuring about 30 prop bets. My friend pulled that one out and delivered a reasonably believable "I can't believe it! I've never won anything before" as he accepted his winnings.

We had a lot of fun with the prop bet regarding which number would be higher, Pat Mahomes' rushing yards or Jimmy Garoppolo's passing attempts. And that one went right down to the wire as Mahomes subtracted more yards than usual with his kneeldowns at the very end.

I can also say that the Two Brothers North Wind was delicious. I also had some Lagunitas IPA and it was about as non-descript as an IPA can be.

I have a friend whose wife whips up some fried rice with just a whisper of dangerous heat and that was the highlight of the potluck dinner for me. Oh, and I should also note that my wife's spinach dip was quite popular. Way to go honey!

My guy Phil is a big queso guy and he decided to whip up a double batch this year. I enjoyed a serving but it wasn't a big hit. So I think he has about a year's worth of queso to go with his prop winnings.

That halftime show was something eh? Great to toss a few glorious Latin American performers in the face of the anti-Latino immigrant crowd.

The game remained exciting until Damien Williams broke off that 38-yard touchdown run that gave the Chiefs a virtually insurmountable lead in the final two minutes. We've been spoiled with a remarkable number of competitive Super Bowls the past decade or so but I remember blowout after blowout in the years before that so I'm still appreciative of any drama.

My friends all seemed good other than a few who had been under the weather with seasonal stuff. We are all just trying to navigate the minefield of life with our kids and so far so good as far as I can tell.

And so football wound down for another year. And pitchers and catchers report in a week.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:14 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Natasha Julius's post-game post-script to her 12th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet:

"I'm not sure there's much to add, but I will say for a halftime show sponsored by a major soft drink manufacturer, JLo sure seemed thirsty. Also, to complete the record, I will note that two Reggaeton stars performed and neither was Pitbull, which I think we can all agree was a rare win for humanity. I'll add that Shakira performed with Bad Bunny, who is from Puerto Rico, while JLo performed with J Balvin from Colombia and I find that genuinely charming, like they were trying to pretend this wasn't a huge open-air diva fight to which JLo brought her crotch while Shakira brought a guitar, a backup band, a flipping drum set and several hundred adorable children. I'm not going to say who won (Shakira) but I'm pretty sure someone (Shakira) wound up clad in gold while some other basic Betty (not Shakira) wound up in silver. It was Shakira, guys. Shakira won."

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See also: SportsMonday: Props And Queso.

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ChicagoReddit

Hadn't visited Pilsen in a while. Snapped this today. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Vic Lombardi & The Chicago 7.

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BeachBook

Super Bowl Confetti Made Entirely Of Shredded Concussion Studies.

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I Accidentally Uncovered A Nationwide Scam On Airbnb, Starting In Chicago.

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This Startup Wants To Help Indie Booksellers Take On Amazon.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A show me state.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:54 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - This Summer's Soundtrack Started Here.
TV - M*A*S*H Theme Song's Weird History.
POLITICS - SCOTUS Blesses Church + State.
SPORTS - Tip Your Cap To The Negro Leagues.

BOOKS - The Legacy Of Racism For Children.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Chagall Windows.


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